Roses That Bloom in the Dark

Thanks to Konami for creating Rumble Roses; they own the rights, not me. The long-awaited sequel to A Rose By Any Other Name starts here. I will sometimes publish more than one chapter at a time, as the main body of the story is already written. However I will be editing and working on the incomplete sections, hopefully to keep up a schedule of weekly instalments, and to take into account your reviews.

Chapter One: Prelude: Enter The Dragon

"Time to wake up."

The voice came out of darkness so thick it seemed supernatural. If you were one of those people unfortunate enough to be afraid of the dark, you might have been hoping that blinking and waiting would allow your eyes to become accustomed to the gloom. But this darkness remained like an emanation from the abyss, murk from the deepest ocean trench. Until it began getting behind your eyes and into your mind. A darkness that would send you mad eventually. After you'd screamed and screamed and screamed …

And then, as if in pity for a soul lost and insane, someone struck a match. In that primeval non-light it flared like a supernova, flame roaring into the silence, then flickering and sputtering, the last hope of the hopeless. The dying light was drawn upwards, casting a harsh illumination over the speaker's face.

Almond eyes. Dark brown hair falling carelessly over precise, well-moulded features. The moribund flame had a reddening effect on her tanned skin. Beneath arched brows, the eyes glinted as if lit by tiny hell-fires.

It was a beautiful, evil face.

Abruptly the match was snuffed out, and only a cigarette glow remained. The sound of someone inhaling sharply, then exhaling slowly, languorously.

The voice spoke again. It had a husky deepness, unmistakably Latin in origin. Each word was caressed lovingly, every syllable savoured.

"Come on, wake up, amiga."

There was a low moan, almost an animal noise. It did not come from the speaker, who now resumed her monologue.

"Yes, that hurt, didn't it? You are awake, and this isn't a nightmare. At least …" here there was a snigger, "not one you're going to rouse from any time soon."

There was a pause, in which the respiration of two persons could be heard. One much louder than the other; hard, fast pants as if the breather was suffering from some great tension or anxiety of mind. The other the calm in and out susurration of someone smoking.

Eventually the speaker took a deep puff on her cigarette, pausing before exhaling as if in thought.

"Its almost time for you to go back into the ring. But for a change you won't be all on your own. We'll be fighting together: against Makoto Aihara and that peasant from the steppes, Aigle. They shouldn't be too much trouble for you, but just in case, I've arranged things so we can't possibly lose."

The speaker sighed. "Meanwhile there's just a little time to talk. I do enjoy our chats, because I believe that somewhere in that deeply disturbed mind of yours, you're aware of what I'm saying." Again the chuckle. "Even if you don't reply too much. Now the other, she gives me no clue that anything's going on in there. Might as well be talking to a post. Whereas here …" another deep, reflective sucking in and out of the smoke, "…here I can expose my real self to someone who truly cares." These last words had more than a touch of ironic intonation.

"Now I know you think I'm teasing, but you don't realise how good it is to get away from …" a note of bitter contempt entered the voice "that superficial wise-cracking comedy act I've had to put on." A pause, then with a half-snarl, "It was that damn private school that started it." With startling abruptness, the voice changed into a faultless imitation of a plummy English accent. "I say, have you finished polishing the dorm floor yet, senorita? And while you're down there, can you please kiss my arse?"

There was a spitting sound, and the voice resumed its Latino accent. "These upper-crust ingleses are such original wits. And they accuse the Germans of having no sense of humour!"

Something of the jauntiness returned. "Well I guess they took too long to discover the scientific and medical genius in their midst. And by then it was too late. Too late for me and …" here a note of creamy satisfaction came over the voice, "…too late for them. The outbreak of botulism wiping out half the Fourth Form … so unfortunate."

Another sigh. "Merely a small example of my burgeoning talent. Now you, mia querida amiga, you will have the privilege of witnessing the perfection of my master plan at first hand. Beginning with the downfall of the person you most care about." An unpleasant laugh. "Yes, the Rumble Roses Tournament is where its going to start. Those muscle-bound, preening bunch of poseurs are going to pay for all the times they've humiliated me."

The speaker was overcome by a fit of coughing. After it subsided, she continued, "Such a shame even I can't be the best at everything. Perhaps I should advise myself to quit smoking." A snigger, and the sound of deep inhalation indicated this self-diagnosis wasn't to be taken too seriously. "Ah well – the two of us together will be enough to fix things pretty good. Then we'll show them what they're really like - what we're all really like."

The speaker loomed forward in the darkness, sucking strongly and greedily on her cigarette. The glow lighting her face shone faintly on a pale visage only inches away. Twin fires reflected in eyes like a wounded animal's.

"And after that, they'll be reduced to grovelling at my feet. Just like you, mia querida. Knowing every minute who is the cause of their degradation. Knowing that they'll be entirely helpless to resist me. How do you think they'll like that, eh?"

There was a pause; then there came an inhuman snarling sound, the noise of a wild beast crying for prey just out of its reach.

It was not enough to drown out the peals of mocking laughter that followed. On and on they went, until the cigarette had died, and the awful blackness had returned.

Out of the utter dark, the voice spoke once again. "And the Rose I will most enjoy trampling into the dirt is Reiko Hinomoto."