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Chapter 1 - The Girl, the Dog and the Ring

This is an action packed story that tells what happens when Sanosuke meets a strange girl from the west. (sorry, I'm bad at summeries, but please read and review!)

Chapter 1 - The Girl, the Dog and the Ring

Chapter 1 - The Girl, the Dog and the Ring

Full Moon

Part 1: The Girl, the Dog and the Ring

Disclaimer: Many of the characters and their backgrounds in this story come from the TV show Rurouni Kenshin, and are not original characters.

“Whoa!” the shouts of horsemen could be heard across the landscape as a group of seven men made their way down the road. The full moon lit their path as they finally caught sight of Tokyo after days of travel.

They were on the home stretch, but their journey wasn't quite over. Lying in the middle of the road was a large furry animal. It was about six feet long from the tip of its nose, to the end of its tail.

“What do you think it is Ichiro?” the young man looked up at his leader. Dirt smeared his features and his matted hair resembled a bird's nest on top his head. He was tired of traveling and didn't want any more interferences.

Ichiro, the leader of the group, dismounted from his chestnut horse and cautiously approached the animal.

He was a tall man that stood around six feet. He had messy black hair and a gruff appearance. His eyes were cold and uncaring, and a long scar ran the length of his face.

Ichiro didn't like the idea of approaching an animal that was as big as he was. His hand twitched, ready to draw his sword at any moment.

While most of the creature was a brilliant white, fresh blood stained the animal's lower end a bright crimson. Knowing that it was injured, Ichiro regained much of his confidence and quickened his stride.

The creatures right back leg sported a deep gash that ran from the top of its hip to the bottom of its foot. Ichiro knew the wound was fatal, and it seemed fresh. He glanced around cautiously but didn't see anyone. As he looked closer at the creature's face he sighed in relief.

“It's okay guys. It's just a big, dead dog. Most likely some sort of a German Shepherd mix,” It probably got hurt by a burglar and then ran away because it was scared or something. I can't believe we got all worked up over a dead dog. Ichiro laughed to himself as he returned to his horse, but something caught his eye.

Something small and golden shimmered in the light of the full moon. Ichiro leaned forward for a better look. His eyes widened in surprise and greed as he stared down at a beautiful golden ring. The ring was lined with intricate patterns of onyx. The designs seemed to be in the shape of fearsome dragons. A huge oval diamond was also placed on the band of the ring, increasing its value.

“What ya got there Ichiro?” Ichiro looked up from his treasure to see his followers looking intently at the item between his fingers.

“It's a ring. An expensive looking ring. Maybe that stupid dog was a thief that paid for its prize,” the others snickered at their leader's remark. Ichiro smiled and continued his speech. “I bet we could sell this ring for a lot of money. I guess we'll have to thank our canine friend when we're rolling in dough.” As he looked down at the dog Ichiro had a sudden uneasy feeling, but he quickly shook it off. “Come! We shall arrive tonight! Then may all of Tokyo know our names! The Onanwabi!” An explosive cheer erupted from the small group as they road off into the night.

Bright sunlight pierced the room as Sanosuke rubbed the sleep out of his eyes. He sat up in his bed, and blinked sleepily a few times. When he realized what time it was he was instantly awake.

“Oh no! I over slept! Kenshin's making breakfast today, and I'm going to miss it, again!” He jumped off his sleeping matt and quickly grabbed his jacket. After hastily tying on his red head band, he scrambled out of his one room house.

It wasn't much, but then, Sanosuke was lucky to even have his own house. He was flat broke. When ever he did get money, he would always blow it gambling instead of paying off his mounting bill at the local restaurant, the Akabeko. But he wasn't worried about money. He always had his friends over at the Kamiya dojo if he ever got sick of the row house.

The Kamiya dojo was run by a seventeen-year-old girl named Kaoru Kamiya. Kaoru is the assistant master of the Kamiya Kasshin style of swordsmanship. This style of swordsmanship was designed to protect the people you care about.

Generally, Kaoru has good intentions, but can't always express herself the way she would've liked. Despite her seemingly aggressive nature, she has a good heart.

Usually, Kaoru wears one of her many kimonos, but when she is teaching, she wears a loose white top and baggy navy blue pants. She always keeps her black hair in a high pony tail tied with a big bow.

Her first apprentice is a ten-year-old boy named Yahiko Myoujin.

Yahiko has spiky black hair and is rather small in stature. He always wears a baggy yellow top with dark green pants.

He is a very spirited boy with a strong ambition to learn the Kamiya Kasshin style. He wants to do every thing he can to protect his friends. And even though he has a tendency to be rude to Kaoru and Sanosuke, he really does respect them. But there is no one that he respects more than Kenshin Himura.

Kenshin, who is about 28 in age, was an old samurai from the Japanese revolution. He was known all over Japan as the legendary Battousai the Manslayer. But when the revolution ended and the Meji era began in the late 1800s, Kenshin became a wanderer and vowed never to kill again in order to repent for his past mistakes. Now, he only uses a reverse blade sword. That means that the sharp part of the blade is on the opposite side of the sword. This allows his to fight with the blunt side of the blade, and prevents him from killing when he's in battle.

After saving Kaoru from a fake Battousai, Kenshin decided to stay at the Kamiya dojo. Everyone at the dojo loves to have Kenshin around. He is a hard worker and never complains. Plus, he's the only one at the dojo that can cook a decent meal. Kaoru tries, but her cooking always turns out awful.

Kenshin has long red hair that he keeps in a low pony tail. He wears a baggy pinkish-purple top, and white baggy pants. He has a kind face, and a sweet disposition. His body structure is rather small, despite his incredible skill in battle. But Kenshin's most defining attribute is the cross shaped scar claiming his left cheek.

Even though Kaoru has deep feelings for Kenshin, she unintentionally takes advantage of his mellow personality. But Kenshin is tolerant and polite, even when she is unbearably rude.

Sanosuke, like Kenshin, was also part of the revolution. When he was a young boy he was a member of the Sekihoutai, a group of men fighting for their ideals. They were titled a false army, and later destroyed by the government. After his hero and mentor Taichou Sagara was beheaded in the tragic incident, Sanosuke became bitter. He looked up to Taichou, and even adopted his last name, Sagara.

Sano (short for “Sanosuke”) later turned to life as a fighter-for-hire. His nickname was Zanza, and he used a huge sword call the Zanbattou in battle. He was, and still is a very formidable opponent and never turns down a fight.

After loosing a fight with Kenshin, Sanosuke was reminded that life wasn't all about revenge on the government, and had decided to hang around the dojo with his new friends.

Sanosuke wears simple white pants and a white jacket that has the Japanese symbol for “bad” on the back. The symbol reminds him of his days with the Sekihoutai. His stomach, feet and right hand (due to a battle wound) are all wrapped in white bandages, while his other wrist is wrapped in red. He always wears a red head band that produces two long streamers when tied in the back. He's almost twice as tall as Yahiko and looks down on many of the people he knows (literally). His hair is a light brown, which he keeps in a rather spiky manner.

Like Kenshin, Sanosuke has also changed from his past. He is now a 19-year-old freeloader. He loves to gamble and never pays for his bills. And since he gets free food at the dojo, he doesn't bother working.

Sanosuke has a rather stubborn personality, especially when he's fighting, but since Kenshin broke his Zanbattou in battle, he only fights with his fists and his feet.

Despite all his faults, Sanosuke is a nice guy, and is very loyal to all his friends.

But as Sano made his way to the dojo, his mind wasn't on his past or his friends' pasts. His thoughts were more directed toward food.

I really hope they don't eat without me! He quickened his pace. His hope grew dimmer with every step. All he could think about was the food that awaited him at the dojo.

And maybe, if he hadn't been in such a hurry, he might have noticed what a glorious summer day it was.

Not long ago, the sun had made its daily debut. As it reached over the trees, it was so brilliant that it might be mistaken for the radiance of a holy being. The bright light from its golden rays illuminated the land, and the misty gray of twilight was replaced with a striking shade of gold. The distant trees caught the new light of the sun in their branches as they stood tall and proud in their place. Lazy puffs of clouds floated aimlessly across an endless sea of blue sky. This was not the time for the retreating moon, but the oncoming sun. This was its time to show its power and might as it marks the beginning and end of each passing day.

The sun is the wake up call of many people, but, as usual, it had failed to wake Sanosuke when he would've liked. Sanosuke grumbled to himself as he hastily turned the corner.

He was in such a hurry that he didn't see the young girl sitting on the ground in front of him, and he ran right into her. “OW!” The sudden impact sent Sano sprawling onto the ground in front of him. “What happened?” He sat up and rubbed his head as he looked around for the culprit.

“I'm sorry. I shouldn't have been sitting there,” the girl grimaced in pain as she held her right leg in front of her.

Sanosuke's eyes fell on the girl as he searched for an appropriate answer. “No, I'm sorry. I should've been looking where I was going. You aren't hurt are you?” He looked at the girl with concern.

She seemed to be about Sanosuke's age, and was in fact very pretty. But she didn't look like she was from Japan. Her face looked more western to Sanosuke, and her clothes were very strange.

She was wearing an oriental-style sleeveless shirt. It was mostly white, but had images of cheery blossoms printed in the bottom left-hand corner. She was also wearing tight blue pants that Sanosuke had never seen before.

Her hair was light brown in color. She had it parted slightly to the left and it hung just below her shoulders with the front slightly tapered.

Her big brown eyes danced with pain as she sat up and turned to face Sanosuke. “No, you haven't hurt me any more than I was already hurt.”

Sanosuke noticed a long rip in her right pant leg and could see a bloody bandage hidden underneath. “What happened to you? Where did you get that wound” The breakfast that had just consumed his mind was now pushed away as his head was filled with thoughts of the strange western girl.

“It's nothing. I'll be fine,” the girl sighed sadly.

Sanosuke examined her more closely and could tell that something was troubling her. “Okay, then why the long face?” he inquired.

The girl glanced at Sanosuke but never made eye contact. She stared at her feet and looked like she was thinking.

“I got this wound in a fight. It's really nothing. What's really bothering me is that I lost my ring,” the girl's eyes became deep with sorrow and she lowered her head in remorse.

“Your ring?” Sano looked at her with confusion as she continued to explain.

“You see, I'm new around here. I just came here from America and…”

“Wow! You're from America? I thought you looked western.”

The girl smiled and for the first time looked Sano in the eye. She didn't seem bothered by his outburst, but rather amused. “Yah, I'm from America. But anyway, I came to Japan to study Japanese culture, but when I got here, I lost my ring somehow.”

“What did it look like?”

“Well, it's made out of gold and has a big diamond on it. It's got black dragon designs around it too.” The girl turned her face away and her eyes became sullen again. “I worked so hard to get that ring. I can't believe I lost it.”

Sanosuke felt bad for the girl, but he had no idea where her ring was. He felt useless as she sat there on the ground talking to foreigner.

Suddenly, they could heard shouts from around the corner.

“Stop right there you thugs!” the sound of rushed footsteps was added to the shouting as the police blew their whistles.

Sanosuke and the girl looked at each other in confusion. Both were curious of the commotion. Sanosuke jumped to his feet and looked around the corner. He had to quickly withdraw his head as a small group of men nearly ran into his face. As they passed by Sano could see smirks on their faces. He didn't like the looks of them, and apparently neither did the police.

“Stop! Stop Onanwabi scum!” the police weren't far behind the men as they continued their chase down the street and around the next corner.

“Onanwabi? I've never heard of them before. Have you?” Sanosuke turned to face the girl, but she wasn't there. She had disappeared. “Where'd she go?!” He was both startled and confused. “Well she couldn't have gotten far with that leg.” But after looking for over ten minutes he was beginning to think that he wasn't going to find her. “Where could she have gone?” he wondered out loud.

Sano caught a sudden whiff of food as he realized that he had wondered all the way to the Akabeko. His stomach growled in protest as he noticed how hungry he was. He hesitated, but finally decided to give up his search for the moment. No point in searching on an empty stomach, right? He sighed to himself as his head swam with mixed thoughts. Who's the Onanwabi, and where the heck did that girl go? I didn't even ask what her name was. With one final glance over his shoulder, he continued on his original quest.

When Sanosuke finally arrived at the dojo he was greatly disappointed to find that not only was he late for breakfast, but he had missed it completely.

“Sorry Sanosuke, we were done with breakfast a half hour ago.” Kenshin rubbed the back of his head in an embarrassed gesture as he apologized to his friend.

“Aw man! I didn't think I was that late! I should've just eaten at the Akabeko while I was standing right next to it.” Sano crossed his arms and slouched onto the porch of the dojo.

“You should've. It would've been better than coming over here so you could pout,” Kaoru said rather crossly. Yahiko snickered to himself and Sanosuke shot him a poisonous glare.

“What made you so late Sano?” Kenshin asked with interest.

“Well, I over slept, again, so I was in a rush to get here. But when I turned the corner, I ran right into this girl that was sitting on the ground.”

“Geez Sanosuke, you're even clumsier than I thought!” Yahiko laughed.

“Oh shut up Yahiko!” Sano spat.

“You didn't hurt her did you?” Kenshin asked with concern.

“Well, she said I didn't hurt her, but she had a pretty bad wound on her leg.” Sanosuke continued to retell his recent encounter with the girl as his friends listened with interest.

“And then she just disappeared!” As he finished the others looked startled.

“Disappeared? How can someone just disappear?” Kaoru asked in bewilderment.

“I don't know. I looked for her for over ten minutes, but didn't see her anywhere.”

“Did you say Onanwabi? That sounds like a rip off of Oniwaban.” Yahiko recalled their many encounters with the notorious ban of ninjas. The Oniwaban were their friends, and they had helped them out many times before.

“I don't think the Onanwabi have anything to do with the Oniwaban.” Kenshin began. “I've heard rumors about the Onanwabi. People say that they are a group of seven trouble makers from Kyoto that arrived in Tokyo about ten days ago. They've been causing trouble around town by stealing and pushing people around.” As Kenshin finished, Sano nodded his head in agreement.

“I knew I didn't like the looks of them. But what about the girl? Have you heard any rumors about her?” Sano looked expectantly at Kenshin, but he shook his head in apology.

“Sorry Sano, but your story is the only one I've heard about her.”

Disappointed, Sanosuke lifted his head towards the sky and began to think to himself. I wonder if that girl has anything to do with the Onanwabi...Nah. Not liking the idea, he decided to think about lunch instead.

That night Sanosuke decided to gamble with some of his friends, but as usual, he lost more than he won. “I thought I'd win for sure that time,” he grumbled to himself as he trudged home.

But Sanosuke's troubled thoughts were soon forgotten when he heard voices coming toward him. Usually he wouldn't have minded, but something told him to hide.

He quickly glanced around and saw a wooden crate on the side of the road. Taking advantage of his luck, he slipped behind the crate and listened to the passing group of people. It didn't take him long to realize that they were the Onanwabi group that he had seen before.

“I can't believe our luck!” one of the men said to the others.

“Yah, if that jeweler is right we can sell this little gem for more money than I could've imagined!” The man that had just spoken was holding a small object in his hand. Sanosuke squinted so he could see more clearly. His eyes grew wide with amazement when he realized that the object was without a doubt the very ring that the girl had told him about.

“So, when are ya gonna sell it Ichiro?” One of the men asked excitedly.

“All in good time men,” Ichiro responded gazing dreamily at the ring for the hundredth time.

“Hey you!”

Ichiro and the others turned to see Sanosuke standing under the moonlight with an angry expression on his face.

“Who are you?!” Ichiro asked rather annoyed.

“My name is Sanosuke Sagara, and I happen to know that you stole that ring from a young girl!”

The members of the Onanwabi looked at each other with confusion and then began to snicker. “I don't know what you're talking about. We found this ring lying beside a dead dog in the middle of the road. We didn't steal anything!” The man that had just spoken was called Ichiro, if Sanosuke remembered correctly.

“What do you mean!? That ring belongs to someone, and it's not you!”

“So hostile! Look, I can understand that you want the ring for yourself, but if you take it from us, it would be stealing. You don't want to get arrested do you?” Ichiro asked with a smirk on his face.

Sanosuke didn't trust him. He remembered how miserable that girl had been, and he wondered if the Onanwabi had given her the wound on her leg. They didn't look like they would be hard to fight. Sano could see that they all had swords and three of them carried long rectangular packages on their backs. Nothing he couldn't handle.

Sano took up a fighting stance and glared at the group of men.

“Oh, what's this?! Look men, he wants to fight us for the ring!” the Onanwabi broke out into hysterics as they looked at the single man that challenged them.

“Fine! We accept your challenge Sanosuke Sagara, but I warn you, this will be the last fight you'll ever have!” Ichiro and the others drew their swords. The cold metal reflected the light of the moon making them seem even more menacing.

Ichiro was the first to charge. He ran straight for Sanosuke, but Sano was too fast for him and Ichiro missed completely. Sanosuke delivered a quick kick to the man attacking him from behind, taking him down.

But his victory was short lived, for three more men were coming at him from all sides. Sano jumped high into the air, avoiding their attack, and came down hard on one of them. For the other two, he did a few quick maneuvers and knocked them out with one punch each.

Ichiro was furious by now. His face reddened with rage and he tightened his grip on his sword. He watched as another of his men was felled. “That's it!” he yelled. “Get into the triangle formation. Now!”

The three remaining men were the ones with the strange packages on their backs. They were now putting their swords back in their sheaths and opening the packages. But before Sanosuke could see what secrets the packages held, Ichiro and the other two men had surrounded him. They each held a long rifle that was pointed at Sanosuke.

Oh no. What have I got myself into! Sano's expression went from victorious to utterly defeated. He was surrounded with no hope of escape. Even though he had enough strength to break a gun in half, it didn't matter. If he went for one gun, the others would pick him off. He didn't dare to move, for fear that his movement would pull a trigger.

Sanosuke cursed his rotten luck as he closed his eyes.

“You shall pay for mocking the Onanwabi group! This is the end for you!” Ugly yellow teeth lined Ichiro's lips as he smiled the smile of a killer. His blood-thirsty eyes danced with excitement.

I didn't want to go like this! Sanosuke screamed in his mind. But no amount of screaming could save him now. He squeezed his eyes tighter and held his breath, waiting for the end.

“NOW!” Ichiro shouted the command.

The sound of gun fire woke much of the neighborhood, but none of them dared to leave the safety of their homes. What ever it was, it wasn't worth the risk.

“Ahhhh!” Sanosuke cried out as he got knocked to the ground. He had been hit, but not by a bullet.

A huge white dog was now standing protectively over him. It flashed its sharp canine teeth at Ichiro. Its hackles were raised and its ears were pressed tightly to its back. Its narrowed eyes gleamed dangerously in the moonlight.

Sanosuke was startled, but not nearly as startled as the remaining Onanwabi. One of the men had been hit by a stray bullet and was now lying dead on the ground. Blood gushed from the open wound in his chest and stained his white shirt bright red.

The other two looked terrified as they stared at the animal in disbelief.

“I-I-I-It can't be!”

“Impossible! You're dead! I'll make sure of it!” Furious Ichiro aimed at the dog he had thought to be dead. But the dog was too fast. With one fluid motion, it sprang at Ichiro. Its jaws snapped shut on the soft flesh of his right hand. Terrified, Ichiro dropped the gun and tried to punch the dog with his free fist.

Amazed that he was still alive, Sanosuke stared at the dog in bewilderment. He didn't notice the other Onanwabi member fearfully aim at the animal that seemed intent on taking his leader's hand.

He pulled the trigger, and the sound of a gun shot once again sliced the remaining silence of the night. His aim was true.

With a loud yelp, the dog's jaws clamped down so hard, they completely severed Ichiro's hand. Ichiro cried out in agonizing pain. He held his bloody arm in front of him. Where his hand used to be was now nothing more than a fleshy stump. He stared at it for a few moments, but it didn't take long for him to come to his senses. After one last look at the dog that now lay motionless on the ground, Ichiro turned and ran. He held the bloody remainder of his arm close to his heart as if protecting it.

Seeing his leader flee, the remaining man also turned to run, but Sano was too fast for him. He quickly knocked him out from the back and proceeded to the now frantic Ichiro. It didn't take much for Sano to finally put the leader of the Onanwabi in his place.

With that taken care of, Sano rushed to dog that had saved his life. The bullet had pierced its side and the wound looked fatal. Desperate, Sano look around and quickly decided to wrap the wound with the shirt of one of the fallen Onanwabi members.

In the distance he could hear approaching foot steps. I guess someone heard the gun shots after all. Sano quickly gathered the dog in his arms, but before he ran to get help, something small and shimmering caught his eye.

Lying on the ground, still fit on Ichiro's dismembered hand, was the ring. Sano carefully picked up the hand and took the ring off the lifeless finger. All this trouble over a little ring. Sanosuke sighed and placed the ring in his pocket. Only then did he start to run.

He was just disappearing around the corner when the police finally arrived on the scene.

“What happened here?!” The police looked around in astonishment, at the fallen men. They had been tracking the Onanwabi for days, and now they were all unconscious and at the mercy of the police.

“They're all still alive! Well, except this one.” one of the officers said looking at the dead man lying at his feet.

“In that case, the rest of these men will be spending a good long time in jail.”

“Yah, well, I don't know who did this, but whoever it was, we owe `em one.”

As the police gathered the fallen men, Sanosuke ran as fast as his legs would carry him to the best doctor he knew.


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