“So let me get this straight,” Jack said skeptically, keeping pace with the linguist turned priest as they headed down the road toward the nearest monastery. Might be galling that their local help was moseying, but at least his knees could keep up. “You’ve got youkai who can summon weapons out of thin air. Youkai who can throw fireballs. Youkai who can turn into giant man-eating spiders-”
“And youkai-eating,” Hakkai agreed, with that same unnerving smile. “My, that was gruesome.”
“-Youkai who can teleport. Youkai who can control the weather-”
“Mostly in a localized area,” Gojyo put in. “Nothing like seeing a tornado aimed straight at you to ruin your whole day.”
“-How the hell are any of you still alive?”
“Most of ’em aren’t that tough,” Goku shrugged. “And we don’t stay put too long. Harder to hit a moving target, right, Sanzo?”
“Part of it’s mental,” the blond said bluntly. “Getting youkai aimed one direction is like herding cats. Zatarc programming makes that easier, but it makes fanatics. And fanatics don’t plan. There’s a difference between attacking like a pride of lions and working as a team.”
“I get the guys in mid-range,” Gojyo stated. “Goku takes those close in. Hakkai keeps out most of the energy attacks, and Sanzo picks off whoever’s casting them. We know what we’re going to do, and when we’re going to do it.”
A major advantage for any team. Still….
“But you don’t know what happened to the bodies in Takei,” Daniel said sadly.
“There are, unfortunately, a number of possibilities,” Hakkai admitted.
“Cannibalism,” Jack said flatly.
“That is one, yes. There are also certain… devices, that require large amounts of various bodily fluids to function.”
Carter winced, disgusted. “Who would design something like that?”
“Ni,” Gojyo bit out. “Sick son of a bitch.”
“Which leads to another possibility,” Hakkai pointed out. “They might not be dead.”
“Yet,” Sanzo said grimly. “We go around Takei, not through. If there are survivors, we’ll find them, or they’ll make it back to Aomura on their own.”
“Deserted village, good spot for an ambush,” Jack agreed. If, huh? You’re not looking for survivors. “So, if they are alive, and Ni has them-”
“Then they’re miles away by now, and we can’t help them. Not unless we find another of his labs,” Sanzo said bluntly.
“Slaughtered, or experimental subjects,” Carter said queasily. “Are there any other options?”
“Slaves. Though if everybody’s gone, that’s not likely,” Gojyo said practically. “Maybe a kind of bargaining chip between clans – though we should have heard something if two clans this strong were feuding. Bodies for a zombie uprising-”
“We’re out-of-towners,” Jack said dryly. “Not idiots.”
“Can’t blame a man for trying.”
Uh-huh. Sure. “Speaking of blame,” Jack stated, not even pretending to be casual, “I’d be interested in knowing exactly what the terms of Hakkai’s parole are.”
“Jack!” Daniel hissed at him.
“Oh, I don’t mind,” Hakkai assured the archaeologist. “After all, I’m not on parole anymore. Though certain authorities would prefer it if I were reporting my location, just in case.”
“Hand Gyokumen Koushu our whereabouts, just for the taking?” Sanzo smirked. “I don’t think so.”
“And since Gonou’s been removed, there’s no reason to worry,” Carter shrugged. “Right, sir?” She eyed him, suddenly uneasy. “Sir?”
Damn. Need to work on my poker face.
Sanzo didn’t look at either of them. “If you’ve got a problem with my people, Colonel, I’d like to hear it. Now.”
Jack rolled his eyes. “Oh, where to begin?”
“He thinks I’m a homicidal maniac,” Hakkai said easily.
“Jack!” Daniel exclaimed, exasperated.
Great. Just great. He had been planning to bring that up, yes – but later. When he could catch a night watch with the blond idiot. Not in front of his shocked 2IC and linguist, not to mention Hakkai’s own soon to be furious friends….
Who – didn’t look that furious. Didn’t even look upset.
Why did that not give him a warm and fuzzy feeling?
“Colonel,” Sanzo said levelly, “I can assure you all Hakkai’s acts of homicide are planned, premeditated, and calculated. Nothing maniac about them.”
Jack stared at the man.
“What, you thought Gonou killed his way through a thousand angry youkai in a human body on his own?” Gojyo said wryly. “Believe me, when it comes down to knives in the dark? Tok’ra aren’t that bright.”