Warning: This fic will contain dark themes (as I'm sure you've guessed since reading the summery.) So yes, there will be rape, allusions to sexual assault and general apocalypse grim stuff. If you are easily triggered by rape or allusions to rape, I suggest not reading this. A warning will be placed at the start of each chapter if they contain sensitive material.
Dryness coated her tongue, and she swallowed, trying to push away thirst in vain. Water sloshed like a loud, constant reminder within her container, but Kagome ignored it. She needed to save it. Just in case.
She was unused to water being so scarce, but she'd trekked further out into unfamiliar territory than initially planned. The wildlife in her area had been thinned a little too much, numbers dwindling. Kagome hoped it was just a case of the animals moving to new locations and not over hunting, but she suspected the latter.
Hearing something like an engine, Kagome dropped down onto her stomach. She was uncaring when her chin scraped a rock, barely reacting as she kept low. The dirt road a little ways to her left had been a good way of keeping track of her location on the map, but it didn't come without dangers.
A cloud of dirt was kicked up, engine roaring as a truck lurched around a corner. Kagome could hear laughter as she stayed still, hidden by the thin bushes. As tires screeched on the ground, throwing dried earth into the air, the vehicle raced along the roads, climbing higher up the hill and disappearing around another corner. Kagome exhaled, holding still and pressing her ear to the earth. Not sensing the tell-tale slight tremors of more cars, she stood.
Dusting herself off, Kagome removed a twig from her short black hair, which had been pulled back into a ponytail. She adjusted her clothing over her flat chest, double and then triple checking her bindings hadn't come loose.
She then continued walking like nothing had occurred. But her heartbeat was racing.
Unscrewing the lid, Kagome took a swig from her container.
She'd had to make camp, allowing herself sleep just a few hours during the day before pressing on again.
After reaching the trading site a little later into the afternoon, Kagome glanced over her map, warily approaching. She liked summer. Despite the heat and the way sweat pricked the back of her neck, Kagome found it much preferable to the approaching Autumn, dreading the Winter on its heels. The days were already growing colder, never mind the longer nights.
Dusty old caravans and trailers that looked as though they'd been stationary for decades awaited her. Kagome rapped on the metal side of one, lingering in the shade.
"Eh? Who is it?" A slurring voice rang out. Kagome eased back as an old man stumbled out from the trailer, nose red and eyes half-lidded. She could smell the booze even before spying the bottle in his hand.
"I'm just passing through. Is it okay if I use your well?" She asked in her usual gruff voice, having gotten used to roughing the edges of her natural one. The man eyed her for just a little too long, but Kagome didn't react. "If you have any wears for trading, I'll take a look at those too," she threw in.
His mouth stretched wide beneath his white, bushy moustache. "That's more like it," he said amiably, waddling back inside to root through some things. She could hear the clanking of glass bottles among them.
Kagome busied herself with approaching the well, conscious of the way she walked even though it had practically become second nature to emulate a man. Still, around actual men, she was much more keenly aware of her acting. Reaching over the rim of the well, she felt her face flush- gritting her teeth when she realised her back had arched. Presenting her rear. Quickly straightening, Kagome hoped no one had noticed, distractedly lowering the bucket and holding onto the rope tightly as she eased it down. Even little things like that were dangerous.
The man somewhere behind her wandered out into the dusty courtyard, setting down a crate of goods on an old picnic table. He gestured to them with a flourish as she pulled the bucket back up, trying not to spill the water.
"Take a look and pick what ya like, stranger."
Kagome nodded, lifting the bucket out and carefully filling her containers. After securing the caps, she wandered over.
Picking out a dirty magazine, Kagome pretended to be interested, thumbing through it. Some pages stuck together with a sticky substance she did not want to identify. The old man had settled down into a deck chair, fanning his flushed skin. Kagome figured it had less to do with the weather and more to do with his warm blood as he took another drink of his beer.
She set the magazine down and brought out a set of matches.
"Rare find, eh? Sure beats all that time wasted setting up a fire."
Kagome rose a brow. She wasn't going to buy something to produce flames she could easily make with the right tools. Plus she had some of her own left. "How much?" She asked anyway.
"Hmm five tokens."
"T-tokens?" Kagome's blood froze. Her heart skittered in her chest, hammering wildly.
He let out a round of howling guttural laughter, holding his large belly. "Calm down, heh, you nearly looked as frightened as a girl there!"
Kagome laughed, swallowing her panic and elbowing him. "Heh! Don't you wish!"
The old man laughed louder, wiping his eye. He then tapped the crate, "keep lookin' ya joker. You got any veal to trade?"
She smiled and continued sorting through the junk, "no, just venison."
"Tch, woulda loved some veal."
Kagome was about to answer when the sound of an engine drew closer. She tensed, feeling like it were a prelude to exactly what she feared. A group.
From behind a dirt mound, an open top pick-up truck skidded into the old trading station, coming to a stop. A couple of men jumped out as others lazed in the back, nursing bottles or holding weapons.
"Oi Mushin!" One of the men called, grinning sharply. "You're not gonna believe this!"
The man with a mohawk wandered over, his clothes tattered. "A girl's been found!" He breathed, eyes wide and shining. "Can you believe it? A real-life actual girl!"
Kagome's limbs had frozen, her hand resting on a bottle of old perfume. Shaking herself, she carried on sorting through the wears. Picking out some bullets perfect for a handgun, she casually glanced at the men. Slipping some into her pocket, she thumbed through a brochure to old New York.
"Slow down, feh…" Mushin took a swig of his beer, letting out a disgruntled noise. "A girl? Not a woman?"
Another man shook his head, adjusting his torn leather jacket. He picked up one of Mushin's beer bottles and tossed a bag of some sort of food at him as payment.
"Nah, the body of a woman was found near her, apparently. Took a tumble off a cliff, dunno much about it. Shouldn't think that'll stop some of the lads from having a turn with her though."
"Sick…" the old man grumbled. "So, the girl…"
"Must be her daughter, but who cares! She might be a little thing now but we're gonna go get her! In a few years she can entertain us all!" The mohawk guy grinned, laughing.
"Heh, I wouldn't mind her entertainin' me as she is," called one man from the back of the truck. A few men burst out into laughs of agreement or jeers of disgust.
Kagome's hands tightened on the bottle, knuckles turning bone white. She fought not to tremble as her temples pounded. Her fingers itched for the knife on her person.
"You comin' or what old man?"
Mushin didn't move from his chair, observing the liquor in his bronze coloured bottle listlessly."…No. Ain't interested in terrorising a little girl, you should be ashamed of yourselves," he grumbled.
That caused her to look up. Lips thinning, Kagome reached into her pocket, sighing as she retrieved the bullets and put them back.
"Tch, suit yourself," one muttered. The men turned back to the truck with vague grumbles.
"Hey," Kagome called, steeling herself as she turned. "I'll go."
They paused, some men in the truck raising their brows. She knew she wasn't exactly…built for much, but she stood her ground. Her arms and legs had gained strength over the years, and she was confident in her stamina. Despite that, she remained quite petite and unassuming. Setting her jaw, she made it clear she wasn't taking 'no' for an answer.
A smile broke out on the mohawk man's face. "That's more like it!"
Mushin glanced up at her, a dusty worry creeping into his weathered face. As she padded toward them, he held up a hand slightly.
"Lad...don't get mixed up with these lot."
Kagome smiled just a little, resting her hand on the old man's shoulder in passing, giving a small pat before continuing on. Determination blazed inside her chest. She swung herself up onto the back of the truck, bracing against the side when it pulled away with a harsh lurch, kicking up dust. The old man stared after them until they were out of sight down the musty trail.
"Just so's you know for sure, you're gonna be expected to fight. The guys who have her right now won't wanna hand her over easy."
She looked up, finding the mohawk man's gaze trained on her.
"Not a problem," Kagome muttered, flashing her knife and adjusting the bow over her shoulder.
He nodded, lapsing into silence. The other men's bodies lurched or swayed depending on the terrain of the road- the truck making them move like packed sardines pressed into a can. Kagome hated it. She dipped her nose down and carefully inhaled her shirt under her heavy jacket. It smelled awful. Like sweat that had lingered too deep into the fabric.
Good. Kagome glanced around the men.
They didn't seem to keep any demon company but some could be ahead, holding the girl captive. She'd learned the hard way that they could sniff her gender out if she bathed too often. When her period started Kagome absolutely refused to risk leaving her underground base.
She noticed one man reading from a crumpled pamphlet of some sort. It had once most likely been smart and crisp, made from white card. Now it was dinged yellow and brown. She could vaguely make out the characters on the front cover.
The name made a chill run down her spine, and Kagome glanced away.
"There they are!"
She looked up, joining the other men in readying her weapon. Yanking her bow over her head, she notched an arrow, squinting in the faint evening light at the road ahead. An old warehouse stood, bathed in the last splashes of purples and oranges from the sunset. A camp had been made, some cars and trucks parked outside. Men were running to grab weapons, some of them staggering. They'd been drinking. Celebrating.
Kagome could see no sign of the girl.
Something whizzed through the air, and a man to her left choked. He clutched at his bleeding neck, but Kagome didn't stop to attend to him. The truck skidded to a halt, the men opening fire on the stragglers in the camp. Kagome jumped over the side of the truck, keeping low as shouts and gunfire broke out. The bullets embedded themselves in the truck- its tires letting out harsh hisses as air escaped the punctures. Mental gave noises of distress as holes littered the paintwork.
She knew they'd run out of ammo before too long. These men weren't from Tokyo, they were impoverished wastelanders just like her. Rapid footfalls could be heard as men taking cover behind the truck chanced running toward the warehouse. Bait, she thought. As predicted, men from within the safety of the shelter opened fire. Kagome inched out from behind the safety of cover, aiming and letting her arrow fly when she pinpointed their locations. She killed one man in the upper right window. Then another down below- her arrow zipping through the slight gap in the shutter to pierce his eye.
Another man let out a cry, stumbling to the dust-laden floor. An arrowhead jutted out from the back of his head.
Kagome then relaxed a touch, only gave meagre amounts of cover, content to let the two sides destroy each other. She needed to save her arrows. The man with the torn leather jacket got impaled through the chest with a spear, crying out.
Wincing, Kagome exhaled, before ducking low and trying to avoid fire. She inched toward the side of the warehouse, keeping to the shadows and making her way around the back of the structure.
She hesitated once there, hearing voices from within. The rusted steel shutters were suddenly pulled up - an engine roaring to life.
Some of them were trying to escape. Most likely with the girl in tow.
Kagome readied her bow, heart thundering. When the car sped out of the warehouse, she fired, hitting the passenger in the neck.
"Fuck," she pulled out another arrow and notched it, jogging to catch up with the car as it skittered this way and that. Aiming at the rear tire, she let loose.
The car fumbled, lurching in the air in jumps as the tire flattened. Kagome raced forward, only to stop as something jumped from the passenger seat of the car.
The small thing rolled, letting out a cry as it was coated with dust and dirt, hitting a few sharp stones. When it finally skidded to a stop, Kagome approached, gazing down.
Brown eyes blinked up at her, widening. Kagome stilled. The roar of the engine died in her ears, and she distantly realised the car had stopped. A man cursed as he kicked the door open.
"Hey! Hand her over!" He yelled, lifting a gun.
Kagome snapped her bow up, aiming.
His eyes widened and his body shuddered, choking on his own blood when an arrow skewered itself in his neck. Breathing out with relief, Kagome turned her sights to the girl, reaching out.
"It's okay," her voice came out as gruff rasp.
"No!" The girl cried, stumbling back. "No, stay away!"
Kagome's brows drew together and she stepped closer, opening her mouth to try and soothe. To explain. But pain assaulted her senses.
She gasped, gritting her teeth as something wet trailed down her back. The pain was coming from the back of her left shoulder. Her skin strained around it. Kagome figured it were some sort of blade.
Reaching for her knife, Kagome's fingers slipped around the handle, sending it clattering to the floor. She turned, only to feel her head thrum as her face was knocked to the side. Stars clouded her vision. She couldn't react in time to the man before her.
Hissing, she felt her hair be grabbed- body tugged in roughly.
"Heh, you were pretty useful," the man with the mohawk grinned.
Kagome shuddered, curling her hand into a fist. But his eyes snapped wide before she could land a hit. He gasped, crying out with pain and sinking to one knee. Kagome pulled her hair free from his grip, startled.
The little girl…the little girl had lodged the knife into the back of the man's knee. Kagome stared, but quickly moved, reaching down to pull the knife free. Holding the man's chin, she slid the blade over his neck, stepping back when he coughed and blood spilled forth.
Kagome wasted no time in reaching down and scooping the girl up.
"Ah! N-no! Let me go! LET ME GO!" She cried.
"Shush!" Kagome barked, running to the forgotten car and ducking into the driver's seat. She awkwardly kicked the passenger's body out, resting the girl on her lap as she started the engine. "Please don't struggle, I kind of have a knife in me and I'd really- really appreciate your help right now."
"No, you're a bad man! You're going to hurt me!" The little one struggled.
Kagome gunned the accelerator, glancing in the rear view window and noticing the fighting continue. No doubt they'd soon notice the girl's absence and pursue. She grunted with pain as her body rocked back, the knife handle making contact with the leather seat and sending it deeper into her skin.
"I-I know you won't believe me but I'm a girl too," Kagome panted. The little girl paused in her struggles, wild brown eyes staring up at her. She whimpered, trembling.
Kagome chanced a smile, glancing at her briefly. "What's your name?"
"I'm Kagome." She smiled tiredly, turning the wheel at a corner. "Do you know how to dress a wound, Rin?"
"Y-yes. My Mama showed me how."
Kagome figured she couldn't be more than eight years old. But it made sense to teach her young. Continuing down the road, she checked the gas. It would be enough to get them there.
"I'm going to drive us to one of my bases. It's underground, and you get in by lifting a hatch," she haltingly explained, panting as red spots assaulted her vision. She blinked them away.
"If I pass out, there's a map showing how to reach it in my right pocket," she patted her side. "Don't worry about me. Just leave me behind. But if we do reach it together, I need you to pull the knife out and dress the wound. It's in an awkward place so I don't think I can do it myself."
Talking felt good, calmed her down. Years ago, before the war, Kagome had been more of a chatterbox. She focused on the road, placing where they were from memory.
"W-why are you telling me this? Why are you…helping me?" Rin squeaked in a small voice.
Kagome breathed out, not answering for a while. "Us girls need to stick together, right?" She smiled wryly.
Rin looked as though she didn't quite believe her. She shifted over to sit in the passenger seat, holding her arms. She was dressed in a yellow and orange patchwork yukata. "I want Mama."
An old memory of a kind smile and home cooking drifted into Kagome's mind, before she shook it away. "I know."
She drove for a good 30 minutes more, feeling herself grow weaker, attention drifting. Shapes drew in and out of focus. Kagome squinted, before breaking- stopping just shy of hitting a sign. Turning the wheel, the car drew to a halt.
Carefully, Kagome managed to pull herself out of the car and take Rin's hand, stumbling down from the steep incline of the dirt road and hurrying into the cover of the trees. She'd released the handbrake, allowing the car to coast on without them. Hopefully if any men followed, they'd search around the site of the car when it inevitably crashed.
As promised, Kagome led Rin to the base opening, by now barely hanging on. She lifted the latch, teeth chattering. "Get in."
Rin hesitated, and Kagome felt the last of her patience draining away. "Rin, for the love of-"
The sound of engines further up, somewhere in the hills cut her off. Panicking, she grabbed Rin around the middle and jumped inside. Her feet landed on the rungs of a rope ladder, and she closed the hatch sharply.
Dropping down, Rin's startled squeak filled her ears.
"Shh!" Kagome hissed, covering her mouth.
Waiting in silence while bathed in complete darkness, she listened. The distant roar of the engines lingered, before slowly moving on. Kagome exhaled, shakily sitting down and drawing out her matches.
She lit the scarce amount of candles inside, knowing their location instinctively. The underground bunker was bathed in a warm glow. Rin glanced around the space with wide eyes. It had a bed, and shelves lined sparsely with books. Towards the back were some storage units.
Kagome stayed on her knees, struggling to breathe. To stay conscious. But it was a losing battle.
"H-hey!" She heard Rin call out when she collapsed onto her side. "Kagome? Oh no, Kagome please stay awake!"
The little girl might have said more, but Kagome couldn't stay focused enough on her voice to pick out the words. The world became soft colours.
Her head hit the floor a moment later. Everything lapsed into darkness.
"My Lord," came a bright, nasally voice, tinged with excitement. It came from a green toad demon as he hurriedly waddled into the room.
A cruel, handsome face stayed gazing out of the floor length windows. His chin rested on his clawed hand, body still and drenched in moonlight, as though carved from marble. From his position, he could almost see the entire city laid out before him. Yet the demon sat unmoving behind his desk, a slight sigh escaping him.
"What is it?"
Jaken stopped before the desk and bowed low, practically vibrating with happiness. "A girl!" He burst, panting. "Lord Sesshoumaru, I have heard tell of a girl being spotted in the Western Lands!"
"Girl…" Sesshoumaru tested the word, not sure he liked it. "Demon?"
"Regrettably human, sire."
He made a noise of disgust. "No doubt the human filth have descended upon her like wolves and torn her limb from limb."
"D-don't despair, mi Lord! If we make haste, we could secure her, I'm certain of it."
Long silver lashes slid shut. He could distantly recall the sound of children crying, mingling with houses burning. His claws twitched, and he sneered. "The others…have they already left?"
Jaken clutched his staff, raising his chin. "I don't think the other Lords know yet, I brought the news to you first!"
"Hn," lean muscles shifted as Sesshoumaru slowly stood, padding to the nearby window. "Send out a team of 10, let them search. Bring her back if she's alive. Burn her if dead."
The toad bowed sharply and turned, dangerously assuming he was dismissed.
"Jaken," a quiet voice halted him.
Wide bulbous eyes turned back, slight fear skittering over his skin. "Y-yes mi Lord?"
Sesshoumaru's reflection gazed at him, before sharp golden eyes shifted to the city once more. "They may only bring her back in the state they found her in. Not one may touch her."
"Y-yes of course!"
Sesshoumaru allowed him to leave, a quietness in his baring. Without the stupid ramblings of the kappa, the room lapsed back into silence. Exhaling, the Western Lord remained on the top floor of his skyscraper, wondering if it would be a kinder fate for the child to already be dead. He glanced down towards the building shaped like an open tulip flower, lingering in his eyesight nearby. Bright and glamorous lights decorated the outside. From his vantage point, he could see small shapes of men wandering into the building, demon and human alike. The rest of the city remained poorly lit, shrouded in some pervasive, grimy layer of filth.
Undoubtedly, it would.