"You called, Koushu-sama?" Ni Jyeni asked, bowing respectfully before his mistress. Sitting on her throne before him, Gyokumen Koushu paused her nail filing long enough to glance down at Ni and acknowledge his presence.
"Ah, Dr. Ni. I'm glad you're here." She proclaimed, returning to her nails. "Honestly, I don't see how such a great man can have such a useless son. It's obvious he takes after her." It was obvious she was referring to Kougaiji, which meant he had once again returned empty-handed. His task seemed fairly simple – kill Genjo Sanzo and bring back the Maten Sutra he held. The task became less simple when one factored Kougaiji's nature into the equation. He was, to put it simply, a gentleman. If he came across the Sanzo-party at a bad time, when they were busy with some other crisis, he would turn around and leave, preferring a fair fight to a good opportunity. The wrong sort of person for the job as far as Ni was concerned.
"He's just too soft. He'll never get the Sutra at this rate." Gyokumen complained, echoing his thoughts. It was Ni's cue.
"If I may, Koushu-sama…" he started.
"You have an idea?" Gyokumen asked, a touch of interest in her voice.
"I believe I know someone who would be appropriate for the task." He offered. One of the youkai assigned to him seemed better suited to the task than Kougaiji. He wasn't above kicking an enemy when he was down. He enjoyed it, even.
"Ah, wonderful. Send him to it, then." Gyokumen replied with a dismissive wave of her hand. Whether out of faith in Ni's choice, or due to the belief that if she sent enough assassins after Sanzo that one would eventually succeed, he didn't know. It didn't really matter.
"Very well." he said, taking leave of his mistress to delegate the order.
The past week had been a tense one for Sanzo and his companions. Sanzo had had the uncomfortable feeling that he was being watched for four days straight now, and that had made him irritable. Or more irritable than usual, at any rate. Needless to say, it had made for an unpleasant couple of days. It was now going on the 5th day of this, and things didn't look like they were going to improve anytime soon. Gojyo and Goku could sense Sanzo's uneasy mood, and weren't arguing as often. Unfortunately, for him, right now they had decided to make an exception.
"Hey! Keep you legs on your own side, stupid monkey!" Gojyo complained, nudging Goku with his feet.
"They ARE! Don't blame me if your legs are too long, pervert Kappa!" Goku insisted, kicking back. Sanzo summoned all of his restraint to keep himself from killing them right then and there. They were disturbing the peace over legroom?
"If you two idiots don't shut up right now, I'll kill you both right here!" Sanzo threatened, standing up and aiming his shoureiju at Gojyo for good measure. The two valued their lives, and so they shut up and sat up straight. Gojyo scooted closer to Hakkai as if he was some sort of shield. Sanzo sat back down and shook his head, catching a glimpse of Hakkai, sweatdropping. The four sat in silence for another kilometre or so, until Sanzo could no longer stand the tension. He still felt like he was being watched, too.
"Hakkai, stop the car." he ordered bluntly. Through loyalty or curiosity, Hakkai obeyed. Sanzo stepped out of the jeep, aiming his shoureiju into the woods on the north side of the road.
"Alright, whoever you are, you've got ten seconds to show yourselves, or I start firing!" He announced. This was apparently what their stalker was waiting for, because an annoyingly arrogant voice taunted them from the trees.
"Ha! It took you long enough to notice. I feel so threatened." It replied. Damned smartass. Sanzo fired indiscriminately into the trees.
"Not even close!" the voice taunted, but a thud told Sanzo that the speaker had either jumped out of a tree, or had fallen. Hopefully the latter.
Behind Sanzo, his companions stepped out of the jeep and readied their weapons. They could see as easily as anyone what was going to happen. At that moment, as if reacting to some unknown signal, a few dozen youkai poured out of the trees. They were your typical thugs: tall, ugly and brainless. In other words, taking care of them should be easy. Nodding to each other, they split up to take care of the group. Sanzo headed forward and offed a few with his gun before running into a large muscular youkai who stubbornly refused to die.
Hakkai took on a group of burly-looking youkai on the south side of the road with Gojyo while Sanzo and Goku were already occupied on the north side. It began fairly typically: the thugs ran at him, weapons held threateningly. Hakkai attacked from a distance with his ki attacks. It went on like this until one of them managed to avoid his blasts. When Hakkai tried again, the youkai deflected it with a blast of his own. The blast veered off to the right, smashing into another low-rank youkai. The new opponent looked somewhat higher in the grand scheme of things. He looked as though he did know what a shower was, and was much better dressed than the others as well. His opponent was a man about his height who had shoulder length white hair, red eyes, and had purplish skin. All of which lead Hakkai to reach a conclusion:
"So, these are your men?" he asked casually, readying another ki-ball.
"Did you figure that out all by yourself?" the youkai chided in that same arrogant voice that had spoken to Sanzo moments ago. Hakkai hid his annoyance. If this was the case, he wouldn't hold back. He fired the third blast wearing his usual smile. His opponent tried to dodge and failed, taking a hit to the shoulder and upper chest, stepping back. Growling, the youkai returned fire as fast as he could, and Hakkai was hit.
Now, where was he? All of a sudden, Hakkai couldn't remember what he was doing here. Or where here was, for that matter. That ceased to be a problem when he was hit by a ki-beam coming from a purplish-skinned youkai with white shoulder length hair. He immediately put up a barrier to defend himself as he assessed the situation.
Now, what was he doing here? Wasn't he just having dinner with Gojyo and the others at the Inn they'd picked out? No, he had been driving through the desert, and Gojyo and Goku were arguing just a moment ago. That was when Hakkai realized that he must be slowly losing his memories. His opponent's ki beam had to be the cause. He tried his best to think of a defense, but the only idea that occurred to him given the situation was to try to force himself to remember the most recent event he could.
Goku had managed to defeat War Prince Homura. Sanzo seemed pleased that they would be able to continue on their way, and… Hakkai couldn't remember. He tried again. He and Gojyo had gotten word that Sanzo were going to be picking them up for a rather involved mission, and so they had gone out to meet them, but before they had met up with Sanzo and Goku, they had been ambushed by a band of youkai, and.. Hakkai couldn't remember. He was lying on the dirt road, in the pouring rain, certain that he would die, when a tall man with hair and eyes as red as blood had appeared before him. The next thing he knew he had awoken… where? It was useless. Nothing he was doing was having any effect on the attack. A noise of frustration escaped his lips.
Hakkai wondered what he was trying to do, holding his hands up as he was. He lowered them. If his memories had been slowly fading before, now that his ki shield was gone, they were slowly being sucked away. Collapsing to his knees, Hakkai clutched his head in his hands, and then enemy's attack finally ceased.
Gojyo turned towards Hakkai when he had taken care of most of the thugs. Hakkai was still struggling against his opponent. Something had to be very wrong. Hakkai never took this long to finish off a thug. He ran towards the source, to find Hakkai struggling against an enemy youkai's ki. Well, if Hakkai was too busy defending to attack, then Gojyo would be more than happy to do it for him. He started sneaking closer to the white haired youkai and was just about to attack when Hakkai let out another pained yell and dropped his ki shield. Shit. This guy had to be strong to overpower Hakkai like that. He charged at the enemy with a loud growl. He swung his shakujou, the blade flying towards its target at the end of its chain, but the enemy managed to slip back into the trees and escape moments before the blade came slicing through the air where his head had been. Gojyo put his shakujou aside and turned his attention to Hakkai, sitting him up and supporting him with his arms.
"Hakkai!" he asked, worried. Hakkai seemed rather dazed. It was nerve-wracking. "Are you alright?"
Hakkai looked up at Gojyo as he would a stranger. "I'm fine." he replied politely. Gojyo relaxed his hold of Hakkai in relief, until Hakkai spoke again.
"I'm sorry, have we met?"