Disclaimer: Just a quick note, Someisa is the creation of N'jara. But this is sort of a reinvention of him, so don't take any offense about it, please.


Legendary Adventuerers, Futuristic Saviors


Chapter 12: Words of Hate and Acts of Love; An Unlikely Friendship


Far from Iron Town

Deep within The Forest


The moment San regained consciousness, her entire body cried out in pain. Every inch of her skin felt like one, huge bruise and the muscles in her limbs and chest ached like nothing she had ever experienced before. She fought the urge to scream. "Am I…" she whispered painfully, "Am I dead?"

"Not on my watch," came a soft voice from somewhere to the wolf-girl's left. She cringed slightly when she felt a damp cloth being placed on her burning forehead, "It's alright," the voice came again, "It's over now, you're going to be okay."

San's mind churned and stirred in her throbbing head like water. There was a sound of crackling fire not too far away, as well as the aroma of something cooking. When the smell of food touched her nose her stomached growled with hunger. She lifted her head a few inches from off the pile of soft leaves and dirt she had been laying in and slowly opened her eyes. As soon as her eyes were open, a painful glare blazed into them, forcing them shut once again.

Just take it easy," the voice came again. So familiar, and yet so alien all at once, "You got banged around pretty badly back there."

"Back there…' San's mind tried to concentrate through the haziness as she forced her memory to function.

But no matter how hard she pushed, all she could remember were a few fragments of what had happened before she had blacked out. Breaking into the human's Iron-Town...jumping from one roof top to another...fighting the Eboshi woman...being nearly beaten to death...and something else...something she just couldn't focus on enough to understand.

In fact, most of her memories of the events that had occurred back at the human compound all seemed like a giant blur. It made her already soar head hurt even more just thinking about it.

The young wolf-girl frowned irritably, 'Stop acting so weak!' she shouted in her mind, 'Remember, you're a wolf, not some weakling hum...an..…' It was then that San realized that the voice had belonged to a human. She... was with a human! Forcing the agony in her body aside, she pushed herself onto her elbows and opened her eyes once again. She felt her blood chill when she saw the two blue eyes staring right back at her.

"You!" she growled.

Sitting just a few feet way, leaning against a large root of a giant tree, was the human she had encountered back at the river. The same human she had almost killed during her assault on the Iron-Town... the same human who had interfered with her attack, ruining everything.

Unable to fight her instincts and compulsive nature, San tried to jump out of the bed of leaves. Sharp pain shot through her leg causing her to stumble onto her back. She then kicked and pushed at the ground furiously in a frantic attempt to put as much distance between her and the human as possible. She scrambled along the ground until she was pressed against the trunk of a tree. It was then that she noticed her side for a moment; a small patch was bound to her side from under her clothing.

"What… ?" she looked confused by this, and then snarled at the human, "What did you do to me?"

"I treated and bandaged the wound on your side. It shouldn't leave any scarring; the cut wasn't as serious as I thought, but left untreated, it would have been infected," Alex explained as he turned to her direction, "I'm glad that you can still move," the dark-haired human said smiling, "For a moment, I wasn't sure if you were going to make it or not." He turned towards the burning fire and slowly rotated what looked like a small rodent on a skewer, "You're very lucky to be alive."

San could only glare at him. All her rage and hatred towards humans seemed to increase and converge the longer she looked at the young human in front of her. "Where are we?" she shouted, "What did you do to me!?"

Alex shook his head raised his arm slowly. "Just calm down," he said. I just got finished patching you up after that insane suicide stunt you pulled, and to be quite honest, I really don't feel like doing it again. He then crossed his arms across his chest, "And to answer your first question, I have absolutely no idea where the hell we are.

"Why did you bring me here? What do you want with me?"

The human shrugged, "Man, you're just chocked-full of questions, aren't you?" he said, "But if your curious little mind just has to know, I brought you here so I could help you stay alive. You took a pretty nasty beating after all, you now."

San's expression just seemed to darken even more, "I don't need your help, human!" she retorted, "You shouldn't have gotten involved; it had nothing to do with you!"

"True. But then again, if I had just stood by and let those maniacs kill you…" he shook his head as he simply stated, "Well, I just couldn't let them kill you. Pure and simple. Plus, a doctor/nurse helps everyone, good or evil, human or beast."

"Oh I see, now," San said with a scrutinizing tone, as she continued to glare at him, "You went through all that trouble to help me, simply so you could avoid years of self-loathing." She sniffed at the air, continuing her glare, "You human's are so predictable at times it makes me sick just thinking about it."

"In that case, I suppose I shouldn't expect a 'thank you' anytime soon, should I?" Alex said, as he scooted closer to San with a bowl of steaming water and a tattered piece of cloth.

"Oh, is that all you wanted, human?" San replied coldly, "For a moment, I was sure you were going to ask me to get on my hands and knees and position myself before you."

The statement made the human freeze, and he stared at San with a look of shock and disgust, "Please tell me you're joking, right?" he asked, "I know you didn't just say what I thought you said, because if you did… " he shuddered, " ...you've got a really sick mind."

San saw the youth's reddening cheeks, and could immediately tell that her comment had made him very agitated. To this she couldn't help but smirk, "I'm actually surprised," she said leaning forward and resting her cheek against her knuckle. "From what I've heard, mating is the one thing that most humans males ever think about. Why should I believe that you're any different?"

"Well, for starters…" the human replied, "I'm not like most human males."

The young wolf-girl shook her head. "I doubt that." she then noticed the wound on her arm, and without a second thought, she slowly began to lick at the wound.

Now it was Alex's turn to be irritated, "Do you think it would be at all possible to give the cold-hearted treatment a rest already?" he asked, "It's really getting old…" he then noticed the Wolf Girl licking her arm in an attempt to clean it, "Hey, don't do that. It'll just make it worse for all you know," He moved closer to the girl and sat in front of her, "Here, let me see your arm," He reached out towards her left arm.

When she saw the hand nearing her, San once again went to instinctive reflex and swatted it away. "Get away from me!" she shouted, her eyes burning with rage, "If you so much as touch me again, human, I swear that I'll… "

"That you'll rip the tubes from my throat," The human finished for her, "I know, I know. I've heard this threat already." He sat back and gave the girl a glacial look, piercing her dark, chestnut eyes. "Listen, wolf-princess," he continued, not breaking eye-contact with her. "I know you think humans are nothing but evil creatures. I'd be willing to agree with you most of the time!" He leaned forward, bringing his face closer to San's "But I'm not 'humans'. A human, yes, but 'humans', no."

"It doesn't make any difference," San shot back looking away, "As long as you're a human, your just as evil as the rest of them…"

"OH! Playin' the species card, is it!?" The human shouted, causing San to flinch with mild shock, "Look, I'm sorry about what those people in Iron Town are doing to this forest. Believe me, I am; if anything, I love this forest more than anything. I've traveled for what feels like a month in this land, and everywhere I go, I see forests that were never touched by destruction and death," he then gave the Wolf Girl a heartfelt look in his face and eyes as he honestly spoke up, "It makes me happy to see such beauty. And it makes me sick when I see all the damage they've done," and then he got angry again as he shot out, "But don't take the whole thing out on me! I have my own problems to worry about without having someone else's pinned on me."

The youth's words burned into San's like fiery projectiles that had been shot from a human's musket. Though she really hated to admit it, the young human... did have a point. He did selflessly come to her aid during her assault, which was probably the main reason why she was still alive.

Perhaps she was being unfair to him, perhaps not; she really didn't know at this time. All she knew, was that despite the fact he was a human, and she had been taught to hate humans in all size and form, this stranger, this outlander before her really didn't seem to be all that much of a threat.

And there was something else that she didn't quite seem to understand. Something that just kept gnawing at her stomach whenever she looked into his eyes "I'm… " she began, feeling as though the next word she was about say would make her vomit. The questioning look on the human's fair-skinned face didn't make matters all that easier, "...I'm sorry."

"Huh?" he human raised an eyebrow, "You're sorry?"

San nodded, a slightly defeated expression on her young face, but she didn't show it to him as she lowered her gaze, "Yes, human. I'm sorry," With that, she trust her arm towards him and gave him a cold glare, "Just do what you will, it doesn't make any difference to me." She couldn't help but flinch when she felt the young human's fingers gently touch a spot on her arm that was tender from her injuries.

"Alright, just hold still. This may sting a little," he said as he dipped the tattered cloth into the hot water. He then set the cloth on the large bruise that covered San's arm.

San yelped as the hot water from the cloth touched her sensitive skin, and she fought the urge to pull away and bite off one of the human's ears. But the pain only lasted for a moment, and was immediately replaced by the soothing feeling of the cloth gently being stroked along the injury.

As Alex began to clean her wounds, not once did the Wolf Princess take her eyes of the human. The human that was tending to her as a mother wolf would tend to its injured cub. 'It just doesn't make any sense,' she though to herself as her eyes studied the human's face, 'Human's are selfish, greedy, and destructive creatures, who only care about themselves,' She furrowed her eyebrows and she fidgeted with a piece of her dress. 'Why is this one so concerned about me? After all, I did threaten to kill him.'

"Does it still hurt?" the human asked.

San wrenched herself from her thoughts and stared at him, "What?"

"I said, does it still hurt?" Alex asked as he pointed to her arm, "The wounds, I mean."

She shook her head, "No… it's… it's alright now," She glanced at his face for a moment, then quickly looked away, "Thank you."

The young human nodded and began to wrap the strip of cloth around San's arm.

For what almost seemed like an eternity, San watched him tend to her arm, not really carrying about anything else. After a long span of silence had passed between them she finally spoke again. "Alex," she said quietly.

Nathan looked up from the arm he was tending to and stared at the young wolf-girl. What did you say?

"Alex," she repeated, "You said your name was Alex, right?

To this, Alex couldn't help be grin, "Yeah," he replied, "I'm surprised you remembered it." He then tied the cloth into a tight knot, securing it to San's arm, "And what's your name."

San froze for a moment and thought quickly, "Why should I have to tell you?"

"Well," Alex replied, "I think since we're speaking to each other now, we should at least be on a first name basis. It'd be a lot easier to call you something other than 'Princess Mononoke' or 'Wolf-Girl'," He gave her a lop-sided smile, emphasizing the boyish side of his personality.

San felt like hitting her head against the side of a rock. Never before had she told anyone her human name. Other than her brothers and her mother, not a single living creature knew it. And now she had trapped herself into a position where she would either have to tell this human her name, or think up a lie to avoid it altogether. And lying was one of the few things that could damage a wolf's honor.

She paused for another moment then wet her lips to speak. "It's San," she said just above a whisper.

"San?" Alex asked. The girl nodded, "San," he repeated feeling every letter roll off his tongue. "I like that. It's a very pretty name." He then tilted his head towards the sleeping fox-squirrel that had made a bed out his jacket, "And that lazy lump of fur over there is Isaac, or Isaku. He's basically a forest spirit, turned traveling companion."

After hearing that, Isaac shot awake, shouting comically at Alex, "DON'T CALL ME THAT!"

San raised an eyebrow when she finally noticed the small animal, "He's a Forest Spirit?

Alex shrugged, "Yeah, I know. It's hard to believe something that small is a Forest Spirit. Let alone, he's the only one in this time zone that didn't try to kill me. He basically sold himself to me, and now I can't seem to get rid of him."

"Hey, you're lucky I stay with you at all, Alex," Isaac barked out, "Without me you'd be lost in this forest, let alone if it weren't for me, the Wolf Princess here, along with her brothers, would've gutted you in an instant."

San peered over at the fox-squirrel once more, "I find that very strange," she said.

"How so?"

"Many reasons," the young wolf-girl replied. "But mainly because it just seems odd that any type of animal, let alone a forest spirit, would stay with a human willingly."

"That's true," Alex said, "But like I said before, I'm not like most other humans," San didn't reply, but continued to watch Isaac as he scampered over to Alex. "Are you hungry?" he then asked.

San hesitated for a second then nodded quietly. At the moment she was far too hungry to refuse food, even if it was being offered by a human.

Alex picked up the stick that the roasted little animal was impaled on and handed it to San's awaiting hand. "I don't know how tasty this thing is but ju…"

As soon as the stick was in her grasp, the young wolf-girl opened her mouth and proceeded to devour the food. Her teeth worked the cooked meat like a blender, tearing off one chunk after another.

Isaac gulped at this, "She's as nasty as Moro."

"Just help yourself," Alex finished, watching the girl as she ravaged what little remained of the roasted creature on the stick, scarfing, and gnashing as though it had been a whole week since she had eaten anything. Man, he thought to himself, 'This girl has worse table manners than mark does.'

When San finished the last bit of her meal, she handed the stick back to Alex and wiped away a few bits and pieces of meat that she had gotten on her face. "Thank you," she said, after swallowing her last mouthful.

"You're quite welcome," Alex replied. "Will that hold you over for awhile?"

"Yes, it should," the young wolf-girl answered simply. She then tilted her head to one side and peered at the human sitting across from her, "Aren't you going to be hungry?"

The dark-haired youth shook his head, "I'm really not that hungry," he replied. 'And watching you eat took away what little appetite I already had.' A strange looking smile then crossed her face, "I just realized something."

"What?"

"You haven't glared, scowled or threatened me once for the past five minutes. And I haven't made a single sarcastic remark towards you," Alex couldn't help but laugh at such a realization, "Maybe this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship between us."

"Don't put too much faith in that, human," San replied, but not nearly as viciously as she had been in their past confrontations. "I still don't trust you."

Alex raised both hands and looked at the girl innocently, "As long as you're not trying to slice me down the middle and rip my guts out, I'm perfectly happy." He then stood and began walking towards the trees, "Now if you'll kindly excuse me."

"Where are you going?" San called out.

"Nature calls," he answered.

San looked at Alex quizzically, and looked around until she looked right back at him, "I don't hear anything. What do you mean 'nature calls'?"

The young outlander gave her a blank look, "Uh, let me rephrase that," he said, "You were raised by wolves right?"

"Yes."

"And being raised by wolves, I assume you know how wolves mark their territory, right?"

San's eyebrows furrowed and she continued to look at Alex curiously, " ...yes," she slowly said again.

"Well, let's just say that I'm going off to find some territory to mark."

The young wolf-girl stared at Alex, until she finally got it. She went wide eyed by that as she blushed, "Oh," she finally said.

"Yeah," said, "So, can I trust you enough not to run off while I'm gone?

San snuffed loudly and looked at her various injuries, "Unfortunately, I can't really do much of anything at the moment." She then looked up and gave Alex a wry half smile that just reeked with sarcasm, "But I can't promise that I won't try."

Alex laughed, "No, I guess you can't," He lifted his gaze to the sleeping fox-squirrel, "Hey, Isaac," he called out.

The little fox-squirrel stirred for a moment before finally awakening. When his two green eyes turned to Alex, he gave him a rather irritated look, "No, I won't join you in a peeing contest."

"Do me a favor and watch Jungle-Jane over there, would you?" When the young outlander saw the contempt in his furry companion's face, he sighed and tilted his head to one side, "If you do I'll make you a whole bunch of those char-broiled moles you love so much." The fox'-squirrels expression remained unchanged, "And I'll scratch that spot behind your ear just the way you like it."

Isaac thought about the offers, then yipped in agreement, "You can count on me, Future Boy." and gave Alex a little salute with his right front paw.

"You drive a hard bargain, Isaac," said Alex, as he reached over and picked up his jacket, "And I expect you to hold up on your end of that bargain," As he carried the heavy piece of clothing, he turned around and made his way towards the trees once more.

"Wait!" San shouted.

"What?" Alex snapped spinning around to meet San's questioning stare, "I'm gonna burst open any minute here! I really gotta go, or I'll bust my kidneys."

"You talked to this Fox-Squirrel as though you were talking to another human." She glanced at Isaac, then back at Nathan, "How?"

The dark-haired youth smiled warmly, "I told you, me and the fuzzball are companions. We kind of have a Timmy and Lassy, Turner and Hooch sorta' thing going on. Plus, he says he's a spirit, so I'm inclining to believe he's not an ordinary Fox-Squirrel."

"I'd say we're more of a Monkey and Dog thing," Isaac retorted, but went completely ignored by the two.

"But how? No other humans I've encountered have been able to do that."

Alex rolled his eyes and sighed dejectedly. "Don't take this personally, San," he said, "But for someone who was supposedly raised in the forest by a pack of wolves, you sure ask a lot of questions."

San couldn't help but feel embarrassed when Alex said that, and she looked down at the ground in an attempt to hide the blush of her cheeks.

"But if you really want to know," Alex continued, putting his jacket on as he was about to go into the bushes, "It's probably because I'm really the only other human besides yourself who's actually tried," he just smirked, seeing the confused look on her face, "Now if you'll excuse me once again." For the third time, the youth turned around and began walking towards the trees.

"But I'm not a human!" San shouted, "I'm a Wolf!"

"At the moment, I really don't care," Alex retorted halfheartedly, not turning around this time, "Heck, you can say you're a cheese-sandwich for all I care." When his last words were spoken, he disappeared into the shadows.

San watched Alex leave with a look of utter dismay. Most humans she encountered would be trembling in horror if she had been this close to them. But this human... the human simply known as Alex, just didn't seem afraid of her at all. It was almost as f he saw her as a human, and didn't fear her at all. That really annoyed her.

With a loud yawn she brushed the thoughts away and slowly moved closer to the warm fire. 'It doesn't really matter,' she thought to herself. 'When morning finally comes, I'll just slip away and leave him behind like a bad memory.' When she sat down on her crossed legs she looked over at Alex's so-called 'companion' who was watching her every movement. "I don't know why you stay with him," she said.

Isaac just continued to watch the young wolf-girl. A clever looking grin on his face, and didn't say a word.

"But I suppose you have your reasons." Sighing, San lowered herself onto the pile of leaves and tucked her arms and legs into the folds of her cloak of white fur. As she rested her head against her cupped hands she closed her eyes and tried to sleep. "Stupid human," she whispered. A faint sound of crunching leaves suddenly pricked her ears. She sat up and looked about the small camp. Alex? she asked, he eyes darting from one corner of the area to another?

Isaac, having heard the sounds as well, sniffed at the air. His eyes suddenly narrowed and he began to growl. "That's not Alex's scent," Isaac growled, the fur on his back standing on end.

San too sniffed the air, and knew the fox-squirrel was right. Whatever it was that was out there it definitely was not Alex. When she sniffed again, she realized that it wasn't even a human. And there was more than just one. Sensing the danger, the young wolf-girl sprung to her feet and twisted around, looking frantically for whatever may be watching her.

That was when the sounds started up again. This time it was coming from all directions, including from high above in the trees. The sounds grew louder with every passing second.

When San heard Isaac's growling and barking become more intense, she glanced down at him and saw that he was looking at something at the far end of the camp. Lifting her head slowly, the young wolf-girl looked to the shadows that lay beyond the light created by the fire and saw what it was that had the little fox-squirrel so agitated.

Staring back at her was a pair of blood red eyes, poking through the dark bleakness of the night like two fiery embers. Another pair suddenly appeared, then another, and another. Within a matter of seconds, the entire camp was surrounded by a wall of the glowing red eyes.

The sight made San's hair to stand on end like the fur of a cat. "You!" she growled, reaching for her dagger. It was only then that she realized that she had lost her dagger during the her unsuccessful bout with the damned Eboshi-woman. Before she could think of an alternative means of defense, a heavy stone smacked against the back of her head, knocking her senseless and sending her sprawling to the ground.


A Few Minutes Later


After accomplishing what he had wandered out here to do, Alex gave off a loud sigh of relief as he walked back towards the camp. 'Free and easy,' he thought to himself with a wide smile and buried his hands in his pockets. 'Just the way I like it.'

He stopped for a moment and looked up at the starry sky that gleamed through a small gap in the forest's thick canopy. As he looked up at the tiny little dots of light that decorated the black blanket of the heavens, he couldn't help but let his mind wander. With all the things that had been happening over the past few weeks, finding the time to just able to think absentmindedly without a single worry or care had become a true rarity for him.

But for someone like Alex, being without a worry or care would be like a snail without its shell. That was just the way his life worked, at least most of the time when he's not helping his dad with the clinic, or when he's helping his sister. He didn't like it, but for the time being, he was managing to live with it without giving it much notice.

The sound of Isaac's barking suddenly snapped him out of his dreamlike trance. "What the… ?" he said to himself as he looked towards the fire-lit camp many yards away. When the barking grew more intense he knew instantly that something was wrong. 'Oh, crap…' he thought, and began running towards the camp, leaping over narrow creeks, logs, and thick roots that were sticking up from out of the ground. 'I turn by my back on the crazy girl for a few minutes and this happens!'

When he finally returned to the small camp, he found that both San and Isaac were nowhere to be seen. It was as thought the girl and the fox-squirrel had just vanished. "San!" he called out, "Come on this isn't funny, answer me!"

He called the wolf-girl's name a few more times before finally giving up, "What the heck's going on?" he asked himself, while he looked about the area. He could feel his quickly chilling blood pumping through his fear-choked heart when his eyes came to rest on the strange foot prints that had been left in the dirt. 'Did something come and drag them off?' He looked about the camp on more time. 'No. There'd be blood all over the place.'

An obscure shape suddenly leapt form out of nowhere and grabbed Alex by the neck, forcing him to the ground. As he struggled to shake the thing from his neck, his arms were suddenly grabbed and pushed into the dirt by two pairs of hairy hands. His legs soon followed.

"Get off me!" the young outlander screamed, trying to struggle his way out of the assault. But all his efforts were in vain.

"The more human struggles, the more human shall hurt," came a basso voice that rumbled with a forbidding resonance.

Alex jerked the hands that held his head to the ground and looked towards the source of the terrible voice. What he found was what could only be described as large, shadowy figure crouching at his feet. A pair of hellish-red eyes were glaring at him, "Who… or what the hell are you?"

The shadow began to crawl its way over Alex's body with the same casualness that one would have when walking on the ground. "We are brothers of forest!" it rumbled, "Brothers that humans turned back on!" When it reached the youth's chest it reached out with a hair-covered arm and wrapped it fingers around his face, squeezing it tightly.

"Humans kill forest!" it squeezed tighter, "Forest grow weak. Brothers grow weak. All because of humans!"

It was then that Alex realized that the appendage that was clutching his face was not the figure's hand at all. It was the it's foot! His eyes looked up to make eye contact with his assailant and found himself frozen in a state absolute horror. For looking back at him was a grotesque face of simian origin. It's large mouth, filled with bone crushing molars, and finger length fangs, twisted and scowled with a frighteningly human expression.

Alex's eyes widened when he realized that this monkey-creature sitting on top of his chest, had been talking to him! This thing actually had the ability to talk! "What… " the youth began, feeling his entire body trembling in fear. "Just… what… are you?" He cringed when the monkey-creature's foot' shoved his head back onto the ground.

"We," the monkey-creature began, it's voice writhing in hatred and spite, "… are ape!" It released its grip on Alex's face and took a few steps back. "Many years go by, humans kill apes! Destroy ape's forests! Make apes weak." It lifted its arm above his head. In its grasp was a thick piece of a broken branch that it held like a weapon. "Now, after many years passed, apes shall finally kill human!"

Alex tried to scream, but the ape's weapon came down on his head so hard that it knocked him senseless before the scream could reach his mouth. The dark-haired youth could just barely make out the ape's sneering faces before finally slipping out of conciseness.

As the group of apes laughed and hollered victoriously over their prize, More and more of their simian comrades bound from out of the shadows and crowed around the still human's form, pawing and probing him like a piece of ripe fruit. When nearly a dozen apes had come out of hiding, each one grabbed a handful of the human's clothing and began dragging him off towards the trees, taking him deeper into the shadowy depths of the forest.

Not once did they notice the small fox who was watching them from behind the shelter of a nearby bush.


Elsewhere in the Forest

Moro's Cave


The moon shined brightly over the formation of rocks that served as the home of Moro and her clan. For a long time, the old Wolf-God sat motionless along the overhanging rock that stretched over the forest far bellow. The rock that served as her thrown of power and dominion over the lands.

Her reddish eyes gazed out towards the blackness of night that blanketed the horizon, waiting for the first sign of the dawn's twilight to peak over the mountains. Her white coat seemed to shimmer under in the moonlight, each strand of fur radiating like precious stones. 'San... ' she said silently, feeling a mixture of anger and sadness as the name of her daughter flashed through her mind.

Never before had Moro felt this angry at her adopted daughter's rashness. Those few times in the past when the young wolf-girl had been disobedient towards her all seemed to diminish in light of this latest act of defiance.

'How could she have been so careless?' Moro asked herself. 'How could she have been so naive to believe that she could kill the Gun-Woman on her own grounds? Did she honestly believe the humans would just let her invade their dwelling and let her kill their master?'

Angry no longer seemed to describe how the Wolf-God felt. She was Furious now. It made the wound in her shoulder that had been inflicted by the gun-woman's bullet throb painfully. 'I would have thought that I had taught you better than that, San.' She suddenly felt the presence of another wolf behind her. "I know what you are going to ask, Kiba," she said aloud.

"I wish to ask you anyway, Mother," the smaller, but very large wolf replied.

"You already know my answer," Moro growled. "… and It is not up for negotiation!"

"Please Mother," her cub pleaded to his mother, "San may be in danger!"

"Then it will be her danger to deal with. The girl is old enough to fend for herself."

"But Mother," Tsume joined in, "What if she's been captured? Or mortally wounded? She could be dying as speak! Are you just going to stand by and let her die?"

"Enough!" Moro thundered, twisting around to glare at her two cubs, "San chose to fight the humans alone! We will not interfere, nor will we give her aid! We shall wait and honor her decision, however foolish it may have be." Her large eyes narrowed, "And if she is killed...that will be the price she pays for her recklessness! Now speak no more of this!"

With another growl, the old Wolf-God returned her gaze to the night sky. As she listened to the two other wolves return to their cave, she could not help but feel a sense of self-loathing creep over her. 'Please San...stay alive.'


Meanwhile

Elsewhere in the Forest


Alex groaned painfully as he slowly awoke, his head feeling as though someone had thrown it into the seat of one really wild theme-park ride. "Crap," he said to himself, wincing in pain, "I thought waking up after 48 hours of clinic work was bad enough."

He blinked his eyes a few times to clear the blurriness out of his vision. When he tried to reach a hand up to his head in an attempt to sooth the pain in his temple, he suddenly realized that he couldn't even move. He was tied from head to toe in what felt like a web of iron cables. Cables that were made out of vines.

When a gust of wind brushed passed him, he suddenly realized to his absolute horror that his prized leather jacket was no longer draped over him, or tied around his waist. Someone had touched his Jacket. His Jacket!

To make matters all the more bizarre, not only was the youth tied up to the point were he was completely immobile, and missing one favorite leather jacket, he was also hanging upside down from a vine that was wrapped around his ankles. "What the heck is this?" he said wriggling like a hooked worm, "Hey! he then shouted, "Get me down from here, you stupid apes, or I'll kick your butts!" Alex began to shake and struggle wildly against his binds, growling with frustration with his every failed attempt. "You hear me? I'm not joking, you know! I'm gonna get angry; you wouldn't like me when I'm angry!" When several minutes passed without a single trace of response, the young outlander huffed loudly, "Criminy! Do you have any idea how much this sucks?"

"Dot you ever stop talking?" A familiar voice chided him from behind.

"San?" Alex replied, twisting his body around so he could face the young wolf-girl. When he was finally facing her upside-down image, he found that she was sitting in a uncomfortably cramped looking cage of bamboo and tree branches. The youth gave her a half-smile, "Hey, how's it going?" he asked.

The young wolf-girl frowned and crossed her arms, "Do you really have to ask?" she retorted bitterly, "While you were off dozing like a little infant, I've been trapped in this damn cage!" she lashed out with her foot and kicked the wooden bars. "Are you normally this stupid or do you have to strain yourself."

Alex shot back sarcastically, "Stop it, that really is just too much. What do you have to complain about? At least you don't have be in a position where every drop of your blood is rushing to your head!" he groaned as he felt a real head rush hitting him, "Do you have any idea how much this hurts? My brain feels like a bowling ball! And they took my Jacket too, those stinkin' apes!

"Oh will you shut up already?" San shouted, "You're about as irritating as a skin-rash."

"Yeah, I love you too."

San suddenly jumped forward and stared at the upside-down human; a hint of rose red glowed on her cheeks for a moment, until she shouted, "Who the hell said that I loved you?"

"It's just a figure of speech, San!" Alex said dejectedly, "Will you just lighten up for a few minutes? Considering the situation that we're both in, it would sure make things a hellova lot more easier to deal with."

San snuffed loudly and sat back down. "Fine," she said, "Just don't presume that I have, in the least way, any sort of fondness for you."

"Fine, I'll make note of it when I can move my arms again," For several long moments of silence, the two of them remained as they were. Alex then licked his lips and began to speak again. "San," he called out.

There was a bit of a pause before the young wolf-girl finally answered, "What is it?"

Just what the hell is going on here? Alex asked, "Last time I checked, you and Isaac went missing, and then I get decked by a talking ape."

"I really don't know," San answered., "I don't have much memory of what happened. When I woke up, the inside of this cage was the first thing I saw."

"What about Isaac?" Alex asked, "What happened to him?" He swallowed hard, almost afraid to ask his next question, "Did they get him too?"

"I don't know," She repeated as she rubbed a tender spot on the back of her head, moaning quietly from the sharp pain. "All I remember is that something struck my head."

Same goes for me, too. Except I already know it was a talking ape, or maybe someone dressed like an ape," Alex replied. Now all we have left to answer is who, why, when and where."

San shook her head and leaned her head against the bars of her cage. Now may I ask you a question? she said.

Alex sighed dejectedly, "Fine, be my guest."

"When you hear yourself talk, does it actually make sense to you?"

There was a long pause before Alex finally answered the question. "More or less. It all kinda depends on the mood I get myself in. At least when I talk, it's not as quiet as it would be in a horror movie."

"I seriously doubt that being annoying contributes to personality," but then San raised an eyebrow as she asked, "What's a horror mooo-vie?" But before San could get an answer from the outlander, she suddenly froze and sniffed at the air. A few moments passed before she spoke again, "They're here," she said quietly.

"Who's here?" Alex asked, twisting around in his binds, "Come on, San, talk to me here! Just what's going on!" When he heard the approaching sounds of crunching leaves and twigs, and rustling in the trees above, he finally understood what the Princess Mononoke had meant. He could then hear the faint sound of breathing as well as low pitched grunting. 'Oh crap!' he thought to himself when he saw the dots of blood-red eye studying him from the thick blackness that surround him. 'This is definitely not good.'

When the group of apes scuttled out into the open, the dark haired youth felt his skin ripple with goose bumps. For in each of the ape's hand was what appeared to be some sort of primitive looking spear made from thin tree branches. But it was the way they moved that sent Alex's blood into a chill. Though fairly clumsy and unrefined, the ape's movements possessed a terrifyingly human-like characteristic.

"San?" Alex called out struggling in his binds, "San, I could really use your help over here!"

"And just what am I supposed to do?"

"I don't know!" Alex replied as he watched the apes make their way towards him, "But seeing as how I can't really move right now, it would be really nice if you thought of something!"

The ring of spear-wielding apes suddenly stopped and squatted just a few feet away from the dark-haired youth. Their glowing red eyes scrutinized him viciously

Alex stared back at his simian captors and tried to smile, but to no avail, "Ummmmm… okay, okay! he called out, trying to imitate the stereotypical calling sounds of a monkey, "I don't suppose I could interest you guys in a banana?" There was a sudden sharp pain in his side, "Ow!" he cried out and looked to his right to see that one of the apes had poked him with its spear, "That hurt, you circus chimp!" another ape poked him in his back , "Hey, Knock it off already." But the apes just proceeded to poke and prod the helpless human, chattering wildly as he cried out in pain.

"Stop it!" San suddenly called out, "Leave him alone!"

The apes ceased their assault on Alex and turned to glare at the Princess Mononoke, "This not concern wolf-girl!" One of the more larger of the apes retorted, it's basso voice echoing through the trees.

Another ape picked up a small rock and threw it at San's cage, "Wolf-girl only here because wolf-girl got in ape's way. Only still alive because wolf-girl is daughter of Moro."

Alex stared blankly at the apes who had spoken. 'Okay,' he thought to himself. So I wasn't hearing things; they are talking. Did I just wander onto the set of Planet of the Apes?' He then looked at the Princess Mononoke, 'And is it just me, or did San actually just stand up for me?'

"I'm afraid for reasons I don't wish to go into, whatever concerns this human concerns me as well," San answered. "Besides, I've already claimed first rights to killing him."

"Thanks San," Alex said in a droned voice, "That really makes me feel better."

The wolf-girl rolled her eyes back and continued, "Just what do you apes plan to do with him?"

"This is our forest!" the ape shot back, "Wolf-girl ask no questions, wolf-girl hold no authority here!"

"I don't, but my mother does!" San shouted, her voice rippling with anger, "Now tell me what you're going to do with him!"

"Yeah, just what are you gonna do with me?" Alex asked once more.

"With human eyes, apes shall see world as human's do. With human flesh apes shall feel the strength that humans feel. With human blood, apes shall know knowledge humans know!"

"What?" San raised an eyebrow, and wrapped her hands around two of her cage's bars, "What are you saying? Just what does all of that mean?"

"We shall eat human's flesh and drink human's blood," The ape said, sneering at her.

"Say what?" Alex asked shocked, Please tell me you're joking, right?"

San's eyes widened in horror, "Eat him? You're going to eat him?" She felt as though she were going to be nauseous right then and there, "You can't be serious! What do the apes hope to gain by eating a human?"

"Who care what they hope to gain!" Alex shouted hysterically, "They're gonna eat me!"

"When human body fills ape's bellies," another ape added, ignoring the hysterical youth, "apes shall have power to kill humans. Soon apes take back land humans stole."

"Ummm, Excuse me?" Alex said, "Believe me when I tell you this: you don't want to eat me. The last thing you guys want is inside me at this point."

"You can't be serious!" San shouted, "Eating human flesh won't give you strength. It'll just turn you into something worse than humans! Don't you understand that?"

"I like the way this girl thinks at this point. You should listen to her."

"Apes have no other choice, wolf-girl," the ape said, "Humans grow strong, while apes grow weak. Apes plant trees, but human's destroy them. If apes must become worse than humans to kill humans, then that is ape's karma.

When Alex could no longer keep his rising temper at bay his mouth suddenly burst open into a hysterical tirade. "Hey, I'm talking to you!" He shouted as loud as lungs would allow him.

Both San and the apes were taken back by the sudden outburst of hostility.

"When human body fills ape's bellies, apes shall have power to kill humans? That has got to be the biggest load of crap I've ever heard! Where did you all get your sense of logic? Did you pull it out of your butts or something? You're talking about eating me here!"

"Will you just calm down, Alex" San growled, "I really don't think panicking is going to help us very much."

"Oh yes, that's just so easy for you to say isn't it, Miss Princess Mononoke? You're not the one these things are planning to turn into human flavored chimp-chow! Who wouldn't be panicking!"

"Because it wouldn't do either of us any good, you stupid human!"

"Will you stop calling me stupid, you wolf-kissing pain in the... !"

"Be silent, human!" An ape flared its arm out and smacked Alex with its spear, "Human voice like dying boar's squeal!" The ape then turned to its comrades, "Time grow short. Let us feast upon man-creature's tender flesh!"

"No!" San screamed. Without even thinking about what she was doing, she jumped to her feet and thrashed wildly at the bars of her cage, "Get away from him!"

"Hey, wait a minute!" Alex shouted, shaking and struggling like a madman, "Come on, can't we talk about this? I mean, I told you I got something that you guys don't want to get. If you eat me, you'll be getting the same problem that I had." His eyes wavered from side to side as his mind worked frantically to find a way out of his predicament, "San?" he yelled, "Oh, San!" he cried again, his voice filled with hysteria, "San! For the love of all that's sacred and good, help me!"

"What do you think I'm trying to do!" San shouted back, ramming the bars with her shoulder, "Just hold on a little longer!"

"I don't have a little longer to hold onto!" As the long-fingered hands of the apes drew closer to him, Alex shut his eyes and tried to twist himself around on the vine that was tethered to his ankles. "San, please!" he cried once more, "I don'… I don't wanna die… I DON'T WANN DIE!" Before he could say another word the apes were upon him, biting and pawing at him mercilessly.

A sudden shriek of rage ripped through the trees, bringing the wild apes to a silent pause. Their glowing, red eyes moved up the side of a tree and came to rest on the solitary shape crouching on the branches, "That's enough! the shape said angrily, "Step away from the human-child, now!"

The leader of the ape-group lunched himself away from the cluster and glared at the intruder. "This not concern you, follower of Forest King!" it growled, "We caught human, so human ours to do with what we please."

The figure in the trees snorted, and then descended from where it was perched. When it landed on the ground, the moonlight shined upon its stumpy from. The creature was in fact another ape. However, unlike the others, this one was covered in a slightly lighter colored fur and its eyes glowed with a gentle hue of green. The ape snorted again and moved closer to its red-eyed rival. "You and your clan have gone too far this time, Saru!" it said, "Do our ways mean so little to you that you would gladly discard them without hesitation?"

The ape called Saru growled at the newcomer and exposed his menacing fangs, "Old ways of apes are for weak!" he retorted bitterly, "Old ways useless in time of war."

"And you're ways are supposed to bring about a better world for our kind?" the green-eyed ape said quickly, "Hate only begets Hate, Saru! Have you forgotten all that the Wise One has taught us?"

"Forest King weak!" Saru spat, "Forest King say to let human's live in Valley. Say to exist as one with humans. Wise One fool!"

A hint of anger suddenly rose in the green-eyed ape, and he moved closer to Saru. "The only fool here, Saru, is the one I am speaking to." He then glanced at the young human who was still in the other ape's possession, "But whether or not you still believe in the Forest King's words is irrelevant. You will release that human, now."

When Saru crouched lower, ready to pounce, the trees suddenly became filled with the angry cries of the green-eyed ape's many comrades. Saru looked about the tree branches with a look of terror in his crimson eyes.

"There's no point in challenging us, Saru. My brothers have this entire area surrounded," The green-eyed monkey took a step forward. "Now tell your clan to release the human. If so we shall let you leave unharmed."

The dark ape grunted, looked back at his clan and grunted again. "This not over, follower of Forest King," he said before darting off into the shadows. After the other apes exchanged confused looks, they dropped their makeshift-weapons and followed there retreating leader.

When all was once again quiet, the green-eyed ape smiled and turned to the imprisoned wolf-girl, "Daughter of Moro!" he called out to her, "Though I'm not sure that I truly need to ask, are you in need of aid?"

San returned the smile, "In many ways, friend," she replied. "But I think that my fr—, I mean, the human may need it more than I do at the moment."

The ape looked over at Alex who was, at the moment, too dazed to say a word other than garbled gibberish, "I suppose you're right." He then looked towards a spot in the trees. "Help the young one down, and cut him loose. Be careful not to hurt him, now."

A group of apes, all green-eyed and light-furred like their leader, scrambled down the side of a tree and quickly rushed to help Alex. As they did this, a few moved about San's cage, loosening and cutting the places that held the small structure together.

When the cage's durability was finally diminished to the point of collapse, San, smashed and burst through the bars as though hatching from an egg. "Finally!" she said, stretching out the stiffness and cramps her muscles had acquired. She then looked down at the leader of the new group of apes and nodded her head. "My thanks, brother ape," she said.

The ape returned the nod. "It pains me to see how much their bitterness and hatred has consumed them," he said sadly, "They can't even talk with the same fluidity that they had been able to only so long ago."

San was about to reply when she saw Alex being steadied by a couple of apes who were trying their best to keep him in a stable sitting position. The youth had an empty look of shock and confusion on his face, and his eyes stared off into nothingness. "Alex?" she said and walked over to him. She knelt down and touched his cheek gently, "Are you alright?"

The young outlander did not reply but mumbled something incoherent that San could not understand.

She shook him gently by his shoulders, "Come on, snap out of it!" she ordered him with very little progress. The young wolf-girl then looked at the two primates who were keeping Alex from toppling over with a surprisingly genuine expression of concern on her face. "What's wrong with him?"

"The young human is just in shock," the ape on the left answered, "Perhaps if you were to gentl…"

Before the ape could finish, San slapped Alex across the face as hard as she hear the 'crack' of her palm hitting the young outlander's cheek.

The sharp impact of the girl's slap smacking his skin brought Alex out of his daze like the crack of a whip. "OOOOOOOOOOOOOW!" he yelped, coming to his senses. He placed a hand against his burning cheek and cringed. "Why'd you do that for?" he whined looking at San with a hurt expression.

San rolled her eyes and sighed. "You were in shock," she said plainly, "It was the only thing I could think of at the moment to wake you up."

Alex clenched his teeth as he felt the side of his now reddened cheek begin to throb, "Okay, that makes sense," he said. "but did you have to hit me that hard?"

"Don't be such a weakling," San retorted and stood up, "You should be grateful that I'm even slightest bit concerned about you."

"Right," Alex muttered, "So now what do we do?" He felt something tugging on his shirt. When he looked down to see what it was his eyes widened at the sight of the green-eyes ape standing at his side, "Whoa crap!" he exclaimed, falling to the ground as he jumped back. "Kill it, San, kill it!" Another open palm found his other cheek, silencing him.

The Princess Mononoke glared at her companion. "It!" she hissed, "just happens to be the reason you're still alive!" She looked down at the ape and smiled apologetically. "I'm sorry about his rudeness, brother ape," she said, "I'm afraid that this human's mouth is faster than his mind most of the time." When she saw that Alex was about to open his mouth once more, she shot him an icy stare that rendered him speechless.

The ape laughed. "I hardly even noticed," He then gestured a gap between the trees. "Come, now," he said shuffling towards the gap. "The Forest King is very anxious to meet this young human personally," He then glanced at Alex, "He's been awaiting your arrival for some time now."

San glanced over her shoulder and looked at Alex for a moment. She then turned back to the ape. "Alright," she said, "If you show us the way, we'll follow you."

"Speak for yourself, Princess!" Alex retorted, "After what I just went through, I ain't going anywhere near those things."

"They're called apes, human!" San growled, her temper rising, "and you're coming with us, whether you want to or not!"

"Forget it!"

"Why?" The young wolf-girl sneered, "Are you afraid?"

Alex was silent for a moment, "Yes," he answered blankly. "And considering everything that I've had to go through since I got here, from Demon-Gods, to crazy wolf-girls, to cannibalistic talking monkeys trying to eat me, I feel I have every right to be afraid. And to tell you the truth I think I've been a pretty good sport about it up to this point!" He crossed his arms and shot San an icy look. "But right now, I've just about had it with good sportsmanship,"

San glared at him once more.

"So unless you give me a really good reason otherwise, I am NOT moving from this spot!"

It was then that the ape spoke again. "I understand your feelings of fear towards us, my young, human, friend," it said, "And we know of your curse."

Alex's eyes widened, and for a moment he was sure that he could feel the curse's power burning bigger and more powerful in his wrist chain band. Instinctively his hand pressed against the wrist chain, hiding it from view. He hoped that it had been too dark for anyone to notice it. And for some reason he found himself hoping that San had not noticed it yet. When he looked in the wolf-girl's direction she gave him a questioning look. "How did... did you know?" he asked slowly turning his gaze back to the green-eyed primate.

"I promise that all will be explained as soon as we reach our cliff," the ape said. "But you must trust us. We mean you no harm." He then continued to hobble towards the trees. "If you wish to remain here, that is your choice. Otherwise, please follow me."

Alex frowned for a moment then buried his hands in his pockets, "I guess I really don't have much of a choice," he said finally. "Lead the way, then." When these words were said, the apes chattered happily and took the youth by the hands, leading him onward. 'I guess this is just one of those nights,' he thought to himself as he was gently pulled through forest.

Before San moved to follow them, she noticed something out of the corner of her eye. When she moved closer to the object that had drawn her attention she kneeled down to get a closer look. It was Alex's jacket; the one that the apes had taken from him as she picked it up. But at the moment, questions were buzzing into her head about the outlander: Where did he come from? What kind of armor was this she was holding? And why did he kept mentioning he had 'something inside of him' that the apes shouldn't have?

So many question raced through San's head, many of which she could find no answers to. She wished that her mother were there, for perhaps she would have been able to answer those illusive many that taunted her.

With a dejected sigh, the Princess Mononoke tucked Alex's jacket under her arm and ran off to join her reluctant,

human companion. Perhaps some of her questions would be answered as soon as she reached the ape's hidden dwelling.


Deep in the Forest

Village of the Apes

The moment Alex laid eyes on the Ape's home he found himself lost in stare. Everywhere he looked, he saw apes. Either scurrying around the trees and rocks, sitting together chattering in a language he couldn't understand, or... He suddenly felt as though the blood were draining from his face when he saw the group of apes huddled around a fire, making tools. The fact that they knew how to make fire was unsettling enough, but making tools! That was just too much.

"Hey," San said nudging him slightly, "Are you still awake?"

It took a while for the youth to answer her, "I suddenly understand how Han Solo must've felt when he was brought to that Ewok village," he said quietly before continuing forward.

San frowned and cocked an eyebrow, "What in the name of Shisha-Gami...is an Ewok?"

They were lead through what looked like ape's village' square. A small clearing where no trees grew. As the two humans stepped onto the soft grass that covered the clearing, they suddenly became aware that they were being watched.

Apes, of all shapes and sizes, Crouched in groups that dotted the clearing and watched the two human's every movement with great interest. They seemed especially interested in the young outlander with the fair-skin and dark tousled hair. A few of the younger apes soon decided that watching the strange looking intruder from a distance was just not enough to satisfy their curiosity, and scurried towards him. They jumped and pushed each other over for the chance of being the first to see the human up close.

Alex watched the young apes curiously as they circled around his feet, peering at his every feature as though he were some sort of specimen being studied by a group of scientists. Some of the more bolder members of the group even went as far as to grab tiny handfuls of his jeans and tug at them before scurrying away.

As time passed more and more of the young apes soon joined their friends in pawing and tugging playfully at the human's clothing. Before long, even some of the older apes joined in the examination.

Alex looked over at San for assistance, but found that she had taken up a spot on a rock far from the crowds of groping primates. The look on her face showed that she was finding this whole ordeal amusing.

And she was indeed.

Bring the traveler of time to me...

The clearing suddenly grew silent. Even the juveniles who had been chattering loudly and jumping about ceased in their movements.

I wish to see him...Bring him to me...

The voice was soft and flowed through Alex's mind like gentle streams of water. "Who said that?" he asked turning about, looking in every direction. "Who's there?"

All will be explained in time my young traveler of time...Now come forth so that these ancient eyes might look upon you at last...

The young outlander turned to San who just looked back at him, equally confused as it seemed. When he turned around to face forward once more he found that the apes has spread to either side, clearing a path for him. His dark eyes traced the path until they settled on a cave that went deep into the side of an enormous bolder. The more he looked at it, he more the word 'enormous' seemed like an understatement. Titanic might have been a better word to use. 'Who are you?' he asked through his thoughts.

I am a friend...

Alex frowned. 'Can I take your word for that?'

Only if you wish to...

He frowned even more. 'I guess I'm just gonna have to... seeing as how I'm not left with any other alternatives.' With a sharp snuff, he slowly made his way towards the gaping mouth of the cave and stopped for a moment, eying the darkness that lay beyond. He stood there for what felt like hours, wondering whether or not to proceed any further.

Finally, taking in a deep breath, the young human walked into the cave.

San could only stand and watch as her human companion slowly made his way further into the cave, disappearing into the shadows one more time. As she watched him fade from sight she couldn't help but feel the small bit of fear creeping through her spine. Fear that it would be the last time she would see him again. It was then that she realized that she was holding Alex's jacket tightly to her chest.


Next Chapter: Dwelling of the Apes; Spirit of the Forest, Someisa