All characters copyright of Rumiko Takahashi, Shogakukan Inc. and Viz Communications. The character of Suteko Saotome is mine.

SINS OF THE FATHER CHAPTER NINE, part four Inflitration OR It's Time by Lisa Prior

Suteko stepped into the hall and made her way to the opposite wall. The guards ran up the stairs and bunched up by the door awaiting Ito's orders. Holding her breath she slid to the side. As long as their attention was focused away from her she should be able to get out and away. She looked down at the two she was carrying. The duck would make an occasional snore. She muffled his head in the loose folds of her clothing and continued to side step down the hall.

As she reached the top of the stairs Ito crested them. He stood for a moment, a puzzled look on his face. He felt something, could almost hear a noise. He shook his head and trotted over to his men. Suteko breathed a quiet sigh of relief and started down the stairs. It was difficult and she kept up a running list of curses in her mind as the knee shifted slightly each time she put her weight on it. She knew she was going to be out of action for quite a while and that wasn't good. When Ito realized the team had been removed from his hands he was going to head directly to the dojo to get them back. Her mind whirling with plans she moved down the stairs.

Ranma nodded at Suteko's warning and stepped up onto the windowsill. Adjusting Ryouga, he leapt down, landing lightly. Akane followed a moment later. The courtyard was empty as far as Ranma could see with a quick scan. He looked over and nodded to Akane and then leapt down, running across the ground. Akane was close on his heels. They made it to the temple easily and Ranma eased Ryouga onto the floor. "Akane, stay here and take care of Ryouga and Ucchan. I'm going back for Suteko and the others."

"Ranma you can't! Suteko said to wait here for her!" Akane dropped Ukyo to the floor and reached out to grab her fianc 's arm.

Ranma smiled down at Akane and shrugged. "I can't let her work her way through that alone. She's hurt, remember?"

Akane nodded and then looked up. "We should both go."

"No, Akane. You have to watch over our friends." He reached out and gave her a quick hug and then blushed. "I can't let my new found sister fall back into that man's hands." His face changed as he mentioned Ito. It was clear he wanted to get his hands on the old man. He turned and dashed out of the temple before Akane could say more.

Ito swung open the door and the guards charged in. They stopped quick as they saw no one in the room. Ito pushed past them and looked down. He stood just over two piles of clothing and wet spots. "So, they have escaped." His eyes moved to the open window. "I knew having that window here was a foolish thing." He walked to the window and looked out. The yard was empty for a moment and then he saw a flash of red and black as someone ran across the compound. He turned about quickly, yelling orders. "They are in the compound!"

The guards turned and rushed out the room. Ito smiled. If Ranma was returning to the house it must mean that his granddaughter was still in the house. He moved to his desk and flipped switches. Though hard to track the family gift has it's drawbacks. He turned on the heat sensors. The house was near empty. The guards were on the monitor rushing down the stairs. He smiled as he saw a heat signature ahead of the guards. That had to be his granddaughter. The figure was moving slowly, Like an injured person. As the clump of guards neared it moved back against the wall. He got up and stepped out of view himself. He would teach the girl to interfere with the plans of her betters.

Suteko had almost made it to the ground floor when she heard a commotion behind her. She moved to the side and turned to look. There behind her was the mass of guards that had just been on the third floor. Why were they heading this way? She pressed up against the wall and let them pass. Her mind whirling it finally hit her what had happened. Ranma must have decided to come back to get her. Swearing she forced herself to move faster. She couldn't believe that when he was out of this madhouse that he would come back in. She had to get out of here and warn him or at least distract the guards.

Ranma reached the door into the house and slid inside. It was still quiet here. "Guess she hasn't made it here yet." He catfooted across the hall and back toward the stairs. He knew she had to come out here somewhere.

Suteko had to stop for a few minutes when she reached the bottom of the stairs. She was flickering in and out of sight. She finally dropped back into sight. Panting, she sat down hard on the bottom stair. Holding herself out of sight while carrying two other living things was very hard. With her injuries it was near impossible. Her vision swam for a minute and she felt all her injuries doubled. Gritting her teeth she got to her feet and headed to the hall. The guards had all run out the front of the house and it was clear for a moment.

Ito moved quickly out of the room and down the stairs. The girl was surely finding it hard to hold the invisibility. He had been injured years ago and found that holding the family secret hard when the body wanted rest. She should have just about run out of push and be near collapse. It would be fitting to be there as she found out the limits of the family secret once again. He lightly ran down the stairs and was at the top of the final flight as Suteko flickered into view. He smiled and slowed. "Ah, the girl is already finding it so. Good. Once I have her, her brother will follow." He moved down the stairs.

Ranma came around the corner as Suteko had just reached out a hand to steady herself. He looked about and then darted to her side. He caught her as she found that determination wasn't enough to hold her up. She looked up and grimaced. "Hello, brother, fancy meeting you here." She collapsed into his arms, letting go of the duck and cat as she passed out.

Ito smiled as he saw the brother grab onto his fainting sister. As he had said before women were weak. It would be child's play to take the boy now. His attention was fixed on his sister. Ito moved down the stairs and decided that the look on the boy's face as he killed the girl was too tempting to pass up. He fazed back in to sight. "What a sweet sight," his voice dripped with contempt. "The brother who has just beaten his sister near to death is now hovering in concern over the same sister."

Ranma's head snapped up at Ito's first words. His arms tightened about Suteko's unconscious form for a moment and then he eased her to the floor, next to Mousse-duck and Shampoo-cat. He quickly stepped to shield them. "And who made me hurt her!" Ranma's eyes flashed with anger.

Ito chuckles and stood with his hands on his hips. "Ah, you would have made a fine tool boy. Such a lust for battle." Ito's eyes turned to the girl on the floor. "With her as your partner I could have made the house great again." He sighed. "But, I imagine you too have that damnable honor ingrained in you too?"

Ramna moved forward a few steps. He wasn't sure what to do. he was used to opponents who attacked first. The old man was just talking at him. Though puzzled Ranma didn't let down his guard. Which was good because between one breath and the next Ito pulled out a large staff and was upon him, swinging to take out his knees. Ranma leapt up and kicked out toward Ito's chin. The old man dodged back and reversed his swing to impact with Ranma's foot. Ranma felt the staff brush his foot and he pushed off it and sprung backwards, flipping in the air and landed a few feet from his sister. Ito moved toward Suteko, swinging his staff at her head. Ranma darted forward and blocked the swing before it hit his sister's head. They stood poised for a moment and then erupted into action again. Ito whipped the staff upward, hitting Ranma's chin. He stumbled back a step and shook his head to clear it.

Ito smiled and was standing over Suteko's downed form before Ranma finished shaking his head. He raised his staff and brought it down on her chest. Ranma could clearly hear the collar bone snap. Ito prepared to swing once more for her head. They stood poised for a moment and then erupted into action again. Ito whipped the staff upward, hitting Ranma's chin. Before Ranma could recover, Ito adjusted his swing and took Ranma's legs out from under him. Ranma fell hard to the floor, dazed. Ito smiled and was quickly standing over Suteko*s downed form before Ranma could recover to stop him. He raised his staff and brought it down hard across her chest. Ranma could clearly hear the collar bone snap. Ito prepared to swing once more for her head, cackling evilly. However, he had not realized that Ranma had recovered.

Ranma stumbled to his feet and saw Ito, who had a malicious smile on his face, about to bring down his staff in a powerful blow that would surely kill his sister. The laughter of the old martial artist fueled something deep inside Ranma. "If I don't beat him now, he'll kill Suteko_have_ to beat him" Ranma thought, gritting his teeth, his aura beginning to glow. "I _won't_ let him hurt her, I _can_ beat him. I_can_" Ranma's determination and confidence began to fuel his battle aura. He held out his hands, and a ball of pure chi energy began to fill them. As he turned to face the laughing Ito from the side, he released the building energy in his hands, the recoil of the blast throwing him backwards. "MOUKO TAKABISHA" he yelled.

Ito heard Ranma's cry and swiveled his head around just as the glowing ball of energy slammed into his side. Ito flew across the room and landed hard, sliding against the wall facefirst.

Ranma walked forward to stand some distance in front of his sister's prone body, breathing heavily. He eyed the unmoving Ito across the room with suspicion. "Did I...did I beat him?" he thought to himself. His question was soon answered as the slightly dazed Ito stirred and rose to his feet unsteadily. A thin stream of blood ran down the corner of his mouth, but he quickly wiped the red strand away with the side of his hand. staring down briefly to look at the sight of his own blood on his hand, he lifted his head and looked at Ranma with an expression of pure hatred. However, he managed to keep a cool tone as he addressed his would-be assassin.

No one has drawn blood from me in a long time, boy,=22 He said with a smirk on his face. I've enjoyed our little workout, but it's time I ended this...you've meddled far too long. With that, he cracked a smile and quickly faded out, fading in only to pick up his discarded staff. He faded out again, coming towards Ranma. Ranma braced for the attack, knowing that Ito had to fade back in from somewhere to hit him. Ranma saw movement out of the corner of his eye. He turned to his left to swing at the shape, but it faded out as quickly as it appeared. He felt a movement at his back and swung his fist back in the opposite direction, but missed again.

"Is that all you can do , boy? I thought someone with a chi attack such as yours could do better," taunted Ito as he continually faded into and out of focus, appearing from the front, the side, the back, the side, and the front again, as Ranma swung and tried to adjust his stance to face Ito at the same time. Ito began fading in and out around faster and faster, until it seemed there were multiple versions of the old man surrounding Ranma. Ranma cursed under his breath.

The illusion of multiple Ito's fading in and out began to move and circle Ranma. "Now you shall see the true power of our clan," Ito's voice spoke out of the nothingness. "Suteko told you that while invisible, you can't attack, did she not?" Ito cackled gleefully as the images moved even faster around Ranma. "Ha! Little does she know that I have perfected not only the technique, but a method of attacking with it. Now, witness the power of the Shadow Split attack!" The images circling the confused Ranma moved even faster. Suddenly, Ranma felt the old man's staff hit his leg. Ranma tried to block from that direction, but a second hit came on his back. Before Ranma could even cry out in pain, another hit clipped his arm. Ranma fell to his knees, as Ito laughed maniacally.

"Damn!" Ranma thought as more little staff hits began to pelt him from all directions "This technique...it's like that Splitting Cat Hairs Technique the old ghoul does. And this time I ain't got no piece of chicken to beat it!* Ranma flinched as another hit from the staff came down across his neck.

"How do I beat it?" Ranma thought desperately. He shook his head and thought hard through the haze of pain. "How did I beat this kind of thing the last time...?"

"Wait!" Ranma thought,as realization hit him. "I don't need a piece of chicken...I just need...a distraction. That's how I got the old ghoul that time!" Ranma yelped as the staff blows began to rain down on him harder. "I'd better think of one fast, before he decides to finish me off."

Ranma quickly scanned the room, which was empty. There weren't many things to distract Ito. Then he spotted Suteko's body in front of him. He smiled.

Standing up as he felt pain shoot up through his body, he pretended to avert his eyes past Ito's images. "Suteko! Finish him now! Hit him from the back before he gets me!" he shouted to Suteko'unconscious form.

Ito paused in his attack. "What? She couldn't have recovered that quickly!" he thought. He swung his head back around for the briefest of seconds in the direction Ranma was looking in. Ranma saw the split second opening in Ito's attack as he saw the original Ito turn his head through the false images of himself. Ranma grinned to himself as he saw that his gamble had worked and leaped above the circle, diving down in the direction of the real Ito.

Ito realized too late he had been fooled as his eyes fixed on the still prone Suteko. He managed to turn in time to see Ranma's leaping form bearing down on him. Ito could only defend with his staff desperately as Ranma rained down a chestnut fist on him, the multi-images of Ito fading away in the process. Ito backflipped away from Ranma as he attacked and landed on his feet, holding out his staff in an attack position, smirking. "That all you can do?"

Ranma only landed and grinned at Ito, taking a karate stance.

Ito wondered what Ranma was grinning at, and then felt his staff splinter and crack in his hands. The staff crumbled into sawdust and Ito cursed. "So. You decided to aim for my staff, and not me. Not bad. I should only expect such from you." Ito resumed his cool demeanor and crossed his arms as he stared at Ranma.

"Heh. Not bad is right, old man." Ranma said. "Now fight me fair! Hand-to-hand." He shuffled his feet onto another stance.

"I'd like to," Ito said with a smirk, "but I have...other matters...to attend to. I am very impressed, grandson. There are not many who can stand against me, let alone break my staff." He faded out. As he left the room, his words wafted back to Ranma.

"I give you the battle today, grandson. But the war is far from over...you and your sister will be mine yet! Be prepared, kin of the clan." With that, he was heard no more, his evil laughter echoing along the walls of the room.

Ranma walked over to Suteko, who was finally stirring. "You all right?" he said with concern on his face.

Suteko groaned as she felt the new injury. "Yes," she paused for a shallow breath. "I'll be fine." She pushed herself up to a sitting position and looked up at Ranma. "You know, you shouldn't have come back for me. Ito could have killed you." Suteko said with a cross expression on her face. The look, though, quickly turned to one of gratitude as she stared at her brother. "Thanks, little brother."

Ranma grinned. "No problem, Sis. Now let's get you out of here. Akane's waiting with the others." He helped Suteko stand and then scooped up Shampoo and Mousse. With a shudder he handed her Shampoo cat and supported her as they walked out of the room.

Suteko kept craning her neck, looking for the guards or Ito. After they reached the open ground of the compound she was startled as Ranma scooped her up and raced across the ground. "Ranma?" Ranma quickly covered the ground and entered the temple before answering Suteko. "Yeah?"

"What happened with Ito?" There was a smoldering fire in her eyes as she said his name.

Ranma's eyes matched her's when he put her gently down on her feet. "He backed off, Suteko."

Puzzled she was going to press for more information when Akane came from the shadows. "You made it!" she whispered fiercely. She stepped to Ranma's side and it looked to Suteko like she wanted to hug Ranma. She was surprised when they just looked at each other for a moment and turned to face her. Akane noticed that they both sported more bruises than when she had left them. She nodded and went to Suteko's side, taking Shampoo-cat from her. "I put Ukyo and Ryouga in the tunnel. Ranma give me Mousse and let's get out of here."

Once out of the tunnel and back into the small shop Akane went to call for help. Ranma carried Suteko over to a cot and lay her down. "Stay still sis. Dr Tofu will be here soon and he can fix you right up."

Suteko nodded and closed her eyes. The adrenaline high had run out and she was very tired and hurting. "Ranma, we have to think of something to do. Ito will be back."

Ranma sat next to his sister and brushed back the hair from the face that was so like his own. "Don't think about it now, sis. Just rest. We'll deal with him when he shows."

"But..."

"Shh. Rest." Suteko couldn't argue anymore and went to sleep.

She awoke to a sharp pain as her shoulder was set. "DAMN!* She cried out and tried to struggle. "Easy, Suteko. Let the doctor work."

She opened her eyes and blinked a couple times before focusing on Ranma's face. "Where?" She darted her eyes around. She was in a small white draped room, lying on what felt like a hospital bed. "We're at Doc Tofu's" Ranma smiled and pointed with his chin at the Doctor.

Suteko blushed as she realized she was mostly undressed. "Please relax Suteko. This will only take a few more minutes." She brought her gaze to look at the doctor. His face was kind and he was preparing some type of bandage. She nodded and took a deep breath, closing her eyes and trying to focus on something other than her shoulder. "You are in quite a mess young woman. You should be at a hospital." The doctor looked over at Ranma with a stern expression.

"Aw, Doc. It was easier to bring them all here. Besides she's going to be ok, right?" Suteko could here the concern in Ranma's voice. She smiled. He really cared. It surprised her. No one had truly cared about her since her uncle had died.

After the doctor had bound her shoulder he turned to find out what the commontion out in the waiting room was. Akane had gone to get the fathers and the family had returned to the clinic. The whole family trooped in to see for themselves that Ranma and Suteko were all right.

Genma was beaming with pride. He had his son back in one piece and now had a fine strong daughter too. "I'm proud of you girl. You are a real Satome."

"Pop." Ramna started to glare at his dad but Suteko broke in quietly.

"Whether I am a Satome or not is not important, Genma." It was clear by her tone that she had yet to find anything good about her father. "I got my brother into trouble and it was my duty to bring him out." She struggled to sit up.

Kisume moved to her side and placed a gentle hand on the uninjured shoulder to stop her. "You should not move around so much, Suteko. You need rest." She turned her huge eyes toward her father. "I believe we should put her in with Akane. She will need a place to rest and recover."

Akane nodded before her father could say anything. "She can have the bed until she is all better. After that we will think of something else."

Suteko started to object. She didn't wish to put anyone out. "I can take a hotel room."

Kisume just looked at Suteko for a moment and then, "No, I think you should stay with your family. It's only right."

"Great, another Satome in the house." Nabiki cracked. "Can we offord it?"

Suteko mummered. "I will pay my way. I have enough money to support myself for a time. I don't want to be a bother."

Nabiki looked surprised. A Satome who was willing to pay without being asked? Amazing. Her mind whirled with the thought. "That's ok, Suteko. You and I can work something out later."

"All right, everyone. It's time to let Suteko rest. I want her to stay here for the night. You can come and get her tomorrow." Doctor Tofu sounded very professional. The family all gave Suteko a pat on the hand and trooped out. As Kasumi walked past Tofu, his face took on a goofy look and he spun off into the waiting room. Ranma stayed behind to talk with his sister a little more.

You're going to be ok, sis." He looked like he wanted to say more but wasn't sure how to say it. "I know bro. I'm just really tired. I think I overdid it there at the end." She tried to laugh but groaned as her chest hurt.

Ranma sat carefully on the edge of the bed. "Suteko?" Ranma really wanted to ask a few questions, now that they were alone.

"Yeah."

"What are you going to do now?" He looked at a loss for words.

Suteko sighed. She wasn't sure herself. Her mother had disowned her and after a year on her own she wasn't sure she was ready to life with a family. "I don't know. I can't go home now." She blinked as she remembered the warm little home she had shared with Uncle Tanto.

"You could stay with me, I mean us." He looked hopeful. Having a sister was something he really wanted to explore. In the short time he had dealt with her he had come to like her alot.

"I'll have to think about it Ranma. But it doesn't matter right now. You're stuck with me for a while." She smiled. "At least until I heal from your amazing handiwork." She joked with him but quickly turned serious when a look of guilt crossed his face. "Ranma, don't. It wasn't your fault. You had no idea who or what I was at the time."

"Still I shouldn't have struck out." A puzzled look took over the guilty one. "I can remember what I was thinking then and even then I didn't feel right. Like what I was doing was wrong."

"Probably because you have a strong sense of right and wrong, brother. Ito hadn't taken that from you."

Ranma's face hardened at Ito's name. "We are going to have to do something about him."

"True. He isn't going to give up on you so easily."

"On us, sis. He wants you too."

"What?!" Suteko looked surprised. "He wants me too?"

Ranma nodded. "Plans on pairing our abilities."

Suteko looked thoughtful. "And since he knows about our curses. Hmmm." She looked up. "We are going to have to be careful. He can be anywhere and we wouldn't know it." She stared at her brother for a moment and then nodded. "Ranma, when I'm back up and around we are going to have to start training together."

He smiled and nodded. "Yeah, you gotta teach me that disappearing trick."

"That and a few other things and you much teach me. Build up my speed. When we face Ito again I have to be able to keep up with you."

Before they could say anymore Doctor Tofu came into the room. "That's enough for now Ranma, Suteko needs to rest. You two can talk tomorrow." He gestured for Ranma to go past him. As he did Tofu spoke quietly to him. "Don't worry, I will watch over her. No one will harm her tonight."

"Thank doc. I'll be here in the morning to bring her home." He looked back one more time. "Night, sis. See ya tomorrow."

Suteko smiled and nodded. "Tomorrow."

*
The end for now...