Disclaimer: Have pity on this seeker of love and peace, ne? I don't even own a single anime plushie. **sob**
Rating: PG for naughty words.
Summary: Sometime before the series, an alter user met up with partner was drawn into a an illegal child labour op. Wavering between his self image and his reputation, Kazuma must find a way to rescue a little girl without breaking face.

A boy ran in the rain. His dark sienna hair dripping water on his face and down his neck. His feet splashed into a puddle, spraying cool liquid into the air. Not that it mattered. His clothes were already soaked anyway.

"Where'd he go?!"

"Stupid brat-!"

"That way! I saw him over that way!"

The boy laughed, his eyes burning with excitement and delight as he listened to the distant curses of his pursuers.
He felt alive.
This was who he was.
This was his chance to shine.

The spattering of rain echoed the steady rhythm of his feet pounding the ground.

"Gaki! I see him!"

"Stop him!"

"He's over here! Kisama-!"

The youth skidded to a halt as a man easily twice his size blocked his path, slipping on the wet street and barely avoiding a collision.

Ugly, as Kazuma privately named him, was a beefy man with far too many earrings and a blinding lime green Mohawk. The red and purple lined green clothes the other wore rather reminded the boy of something out of a fashion nightmare.

Ugly smirked to reveal none too pretty yellow teeth and Kazuma wrinkled his nose and shied away in disgust as he caught a whiff of bad breath.

"Y'think you can steal from us and get away wiv it, gaki?" Ugly snarled, making full use of his less than pretty odors...

Gah... this guy's killin' me... the 14 year old mentally moaned.

Ugly just laughed snidely (came out has more of a cackle, really), interpreting his smaller opponent's disgust as fear.

"Ya mess with Bash and you pay consequences!"

"YEAH!" there was a hearty... and bloodthirsty roar from the minions.

"We'll string you up by your toenails and carve out yer eyes!"


"We'll knock off all yer teeth and leave you to the crows!"


"We'll smash all your fingers into splinters and cut off yer grubby little hands!"


It was a somewhat sad event, when Bash's rants where cut off by gleeful snickers, coming from the brat's direction.

This, to say the least, was not the expected reaction.
When malevolent gang members surrounded a single, rather puny person, they were supposed to huddle in fear and beg for mercy.
Or maybe cry like a baby...
Or heck, why not both?
They were not supposed to be rolling around in the mud like a madman and interrupting Bash's basking-in-praise-while-tormenting-the-defenseless time by overtly mocking him....

But then, the key point there, of course, being "defenseless".

"Oi! Baka! Listen up," the boy called between smirking laughter,
"You think...**snicker** you can take out this fist of mine?"
He raised his right fist for emphasis, grinning a cheeky grin the whole time and unmindful of the fact that he looked rather like a drowned rat at the moment.
"Break my fingers and cut off my hands, huh? Tell you what, Ugly, I'm Kazuma the Shell Bullet," he paused and waved his gloved fist boldly, "and I don't lose to veggie-head punks like you."


Other than the steady dribbling of rain.

Zoom in on one Bash the Stampede: (1)
Dilated pupils.
Grinding teeth.
Clenched fists.
Almost visibly steaming.

One really pissed gang leader.

"You...Kisama...Ahou-!!" Ugly stuttered in his rage.
The rest of the gang just waited like good little minions, all convinced that the gaki was dead meat.

The Shell Bullet smirked. Time was a-wasting.

"Sure, yarou, I'll beat the hell out of you all!" WHOOSHCRACK

There really is no way to sum up the sound of ground being torn up to accommodate an alter.

The sight of it (or at least the resulting situation that was sure to result from the sight of it) however, was, by Bash's somewhat limited vocabulary, rather aptly described...

"Oh crap."

Coming of the Storm

By Lizeth Hallington @ http://www.angelfire.com/anime2/loft1050


"Oi! Bullet-san, where the heck are you?" was the cheerful greeting.

"I told you not to call me that," came the grouchy reply.

"Maa maa, is that any way to treat your source of income?"

Kazuma snorted.

"Is it good, Kimishima?"

"Sure! We got a big haul ahead of us! They're willing-"

"I don't care how much they're willing to pay for it," the younger of the two interrupted, "I just want to have some fun."

The sound of popping knuckles.

"I could always steal some food if I need it. I just wanna know if your mission's more worthy of my time than getting food," came the blunt reply as the native alter dug around in the rubble, scavenging for God knows what.

Kimishima stared at the teen appraisingly though his one good eye, trying to judge the other's character for the x-th time in a week.
A week since he'd come to the alter user with his first business proposal.
A week since he'd put his life on the line based on sheer faith that his brass teen in front of him would pull though.
A week since he'd gotten the hell beat out of him and had his right eye punched closed, his lip cracked and his shoulder dislocated.


But, no matter how hard he tired, he just couldn't understand this kid's mind.

He wasn't interested in money.
He didn't particularly care what was gonna appear on the hypothetical dinner table.
He had no permanent residence.
No relations.
No friends?

The guy was totally free.

Better stop trying before I get a migraine.

This kid was like, not human.

And yet he had more passion and conviction than any other human he'd ever met.

Kimishima sat himself down on a random piece of rubble, propped his arm up, and tried to make himself comfortable.

"How would you like to take down an illegal child labor operation?"

Kazuma's eyes flickered over in his direction.

"Who the hell would care enough to sponsor that?"

The invalid made an attempt at a raised eyebrow. And the Alter user turned his back, radiating a gruff embarrassment and discomfort.

"You're not in?" asked Kimishima, a little bit of bite in his voice. He'd thought he was a better judge of character than this...

"I didn't say that," grumbled the other, "I just..." The sound of tumbling rubble.

"...never thought someone would spend money on something like that," was the quiet rebuke. Kazuma brushed a hand through his hair and growled inwardly at his display. He always spoke before he thought things through-

No, I just always say what I think, when I think it...

Another frustrated inner growl.

Kimishima was still staring at him with that one-eyed gaze. It was slightly accusing.

Che, who the hell is he to judge me?! thought Kazuma, temper flaring in an instant.

"Well," the elder drawled, shifting his arm and wincing at the pain in his shoulder, "Someone's losing profits if some guy out there were using cheap kid labour to do their business, ne?"

Kazuma stood straight, his arms folded across his chest as he turned to face his new partner in crime.

"Guess so."

"You'll get to blow up stuff."

"I'd better."

"Odds will probably be stacked against you."

"No kidding."

"You in?"

A smirk.

"Try and stop me."




Still raining.

He'd been on the run since last night, hitting consecutive factories. Kimishima had assured him that the kids were no where near the current vicinity at the moment, so he'd been free to take down the operation as he saw fit.

This generally involved a lot of explosions.


Another puddle.

What the...?

Unfaltering steps carried him towards the blob of orange, resolving the shape into a slight figure under an umbrella.

Kuso, Kimishima....

He stopped and leaned back against the ruined wall, grasping his arms at the elbows. He was getting cold after being in the rain for so long.

You told me there were no kids...

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the umbrella lift and a wary, emerald-eyed face peek out from underneath its shade.

"Yo," he greeted, putting on his best benign smile and turning to face the girl.
"Let me take a rest here, ok?"

The girl was probably about 6 or 7, with long auburn hair tied in a high ponytail with a worn ribbon. The sleeves of her faded orange jacket had to be rolled up so as not to totally engulf her petite hands. Clenched in one fist was her open umbrella. Clenched in the other was a loaf of old bread.

Trembling, she offered that bread to him.

"What the heck are you doing?" he nearly growled, fighting to keep a scowl off his face. No need to scare her off, right?

Yeow, she's really shaking!

"I don't want to get hurt," she whispered in a high child's voice.

Internally, Kazuma scowled at the thought of hurting a child. Externally, he just rolled his eyes.

"I'm not robbing you for some food," he casually stuffed his hands in his pockets.
"Besides, you can get hurt anywhere, any time, and from anyone. It's just like that."

Hope you take this warning, kid.

"Decide before you make a move. Take everything, or give up on everything."

He turned to face her again, eyes burning fiercely despite his aloof behavior.

"So, what's your move?"

The girl stared unwaveringly up at him, her fear seemingly gone. Instead it was replaced by quiet contemplation.

Stuffing the umbrella handle under the crook of her elbow, she tore the the loaf in half... And offered the unbitten piece to him.

Kazuma was floored.


Didn't she hear anything I said? Does 'take everything' and 'leave everything' not mean what it should now-a-days?!

He attempted to glare.

His stomach rumbled.

To which he instantly thought: Traitor.

In the end, he accepted the half-loaf.


Kimishima cursed as he jarred his shoulder again.

The doctor (an attractive lady doctor at that) had told him not to aggravate it more than necessary. Supposedly it would be prone to pop back out of position again. That's the funny thing about dislocated joints.

Now, as much as he'd personally love to see Dr. Kitsune(2) again, he'd much prefer to meet her over a nice candle-light dinner as opposed to a neon-lit examination table. He wasn't personally fond of having a non-functional arm, besides.

Especially when he was sitting in a brand new car, curtesy of last week's hoard.

He patted the dashboard lovingly has his mind wandered back to the current predicament.

Where the hell are you, Kazuma?!

He scanned the landscape in agitation.

There are things I need to tell you, dammit. The situation's changed and you need to be updated, but noooo, let's not meet Kimishima as planned and blow the whole operation to hell, ne?

He squinted and rubbed his good eye.

Chekuso! I'm starting to talk about myself in third person.

With that, he decided to give his car a spin around the premises. With any luck, he might just spot his wayward alter user.



Author's notes:
Forgive me for any OOC-ness or mistaken details, I haven't seen the entire Scryed series. **sniffle** I'm working with what I've got here.

The scene between Kazuma and Kanami is taken from the beginning of episode 20.

The reference to Kimishima and Kazuma's first meeting is based in some ep too, but I can't remember which.

(1) **snicker** I'm soooo sorry Vash! If anyone's watched the first ep of Trigun, there's this giant fat guy with a green mohawk and droopy pierced ears, wearing a red shirt who leads a group of minions and tries to catch Vash for the bounty on his head. However, since the rumor mill on what the legendary "Vash the Stampede" actually looks like is none too accurate, Mohawk-head gets pinned as Vash. **giggles** And thus Bash was born, ne? (plus there's the fact that "Vash the Stampede" on a Japanese tongue sounds a lot like "Bashu de Stampedo" **grin**)

(2) Spin off on Rurouni Kenshin's Takani Megumi. Foxy, raven-haired lady doctor.


ahou = Saito's favorite insult. Something along the lines of idiot and fool. If you have a better definition for it, tell me.

baka = do I even have to translate this one? It's "idiot".

che = Sanzo's favorite word... sort of... at least in the realm of fanfiction. It's "an interjection similar to 'shit!'", but I've seen it to be interpreted as "damn". **shrug**

gaki = brat

kisama = rude way of saying "you"

kitsune = fox

kuso = can be used on its own or joined as "chekuso!" meaning "shit"

maa maa = now now / settle down

yarou = "rascal", says the dictionary.

**sweatdrop** The majority of my vocab consists of insults and swearwords... oh dear.

Comments are welcome, please mail me.

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