Introductory stuff for this VHD-Dragon Half crossover:

D is half vampire and Mink is half dragon, so I had to write a fic
that involved both of them. I thought of this fic and the title
"Vampire Half" some years ago, before I'd seen the episodes of
"Ghost Sweeper Mikami" that also use the term "vampire half" for a

"Dragon Half" being the kind of anime it is, a fanfic based on it
(even half based, which is not to be confused with half acid) had
to be a silly fic. In addition to the general silliness of the
premise and the goings-on of the fic, I've adopted a device that
"Dragon Half" uses to great effect -- characters going
superdeformed at moments of profound silliness.  To show where
those profoundly silly superdeformed moments begin and end, I've
used [SD] and [/SD], with square brackets rather than angled ones
so there's no danger of somebody's software confusing them with
actual HTML coding. If you don't know what superdeformed moments
are like, you really need to watch "Dragon Half." In fact, you
probably need to watch it anyway.

This fic is set just after my VHD-Miyu crossover, "A Tale of Two
Hunters" (available in the fanfic section of the VHD Archives,, but familiarity with the earlier
story is not necessary, though it will make one or two bits more

                            Vampire Half
                          by Cathy Krusberg

              A Vampire Hunter D-Dragon Half crossover

Three figures walked along a winding road. The first two wore
clothing designed to display rather than to conceal the shapely
curves of their bodies. In the lead was a young woman named Lufa.
Her short blonde hair revealed elf-pointed ears, and she carried a
tall staff with a glass sphere shining at its top. Lufa led them in
their westward course because she was the only one with the
knowledge that would enable them to reach their goal.

Behind her was Mink, a redhead clad in a purple bikini. Mink also
sported two straight horns and a decidedly reptilian tail (only her
artist knew how she wore a bikini bottom with it). Although she had
the face and body of a charming young woman, Mink was a deadly
adversary in a fight, as several of her opponents had learned at
the recent Brutal-Killer Martial Arts Contest. There, Mink had
emerged the clear winner over some of the meanest muthas character
designer Masahiro Koyama could come up with. The prize -- 50,000
gamels cold, hard cash -- had enabled her to attend the concert of
her hero, singer and dragon-slayer Dick Saucer.

But now Mink had other fish to fry.

Bringing up the rear was a third, much shorter figure, Pia. Pia,
unlike her older companions, was wearing clothes worthy of the
name; in fact, she wore lightweight armor. Her overprotective
parents had set down as a rule that she should never take it off,
and little Pia dutifully obeyed them -- even though that meant
nearly drowning if she ever tried to swim.

Sitting on top of Pia's head -- and just about as big -- was Pia's
pet mouse, Mappy. Mappy, besides being bigger than real-life mice,
also looked a lot cuter. He was brown with a white underbelly and
a tuft of fur at the end of his tail. Pia was accompanying the two
older girls out of friendship and a natural desire for adventure.
Mappy was there because wherever Pia went, Mappy went also, to take
care of her.

The area was very isolated: grassy fields alternated with long
stretches of forest, and houses were rare, as were other travelers.
This made it all the more noteworthy that as the three pursued
their course, they noticed odd hoofprints in the dust, also headed
westward. Once they stopped to rest near a particularly clear one.

"Look," said Lufa, pointing to it. "It says, 'Made in Japan.'"

"What kind of horse has 'Made in Japan' printed on its hooves?"
Mink asked, too tired to feel very interested.

"A Japanese one?" Lufa suggested, reasonably enough.

 "I thought you told where horses were from by looking in their
mouths," said Pia.

"That's to tell how old they are," Lufa replied authoritatively.
"Or to see if there are Greek soldiers inside them."

                            * * *

The strange hoofprints persisted to the long day's end, when Lufa
said, "It's going to be dark soon. We need to find a place to make

"Look there," said Mink, pointing over the crest of a hill to a
thin column of smoke. "Somebody has already found a place to camp.
Maybe we can share."

Rounding a bend that the road sensibly took to avoid the hill, the
group saw the source of the smoke: a solitary man sat in a
clearing, near a fire that he evidently had just started. Most of
his body was wrapped in a long blue cloak; his broad-brimmed
traveler's hat, however, didn't quite conceal eyes that gleamed
strangely with the fire's reflected light. A cyborg horse grazed
near the clearing's edge, its black tail occasionally swishing at

"I'm not so sure, Mink," Lufa said warily. "He doesn't look ...
quite human."

A line formed between Mink's eyebrows as the tip of her tail began
to twitch, and Lufa looked embarrassed. "Well," she amended
hastily, "we can ask."

D (for it was he, of course) looked up as the group approached.
"Hello!" Mink exclaimed, waving in greeting. "I'm Mink, and this is
Lufa and Pia and Mappy. You've found such a nice place to camp. Do
you mind if we share it tonight?"

Reacting quickly to danger was second nature to D; if Mink had
challenged him with a weapon, he would have been on his feet in
less than an eyeblink, his own sword in hand. Responding to a civil
query, however, required him to pull himself together in a
different way and would have taken him longer even in the best of
circumstances. And the fact was, the circumstances for D were not
the best. It had been another long day on the road, undistinguished
from too many other long, lonely days, and D had been staring into
his fire and brooding.

D had in fact been feeling sorry for himself. It was not a train of
thought conducive to civility, much less hospitality, and it must
be admitted that his first thought on seeing the newcomers was to
refuse to have any dealings with a woman who had horns and a tail.
Then it occurred to him that he was scarcely in a position to point
fingers when it came to having non-human characteristics (that was,
after all, what he had been brooding about). Besides, the last
couple of normal-looking women he'd had close encounters with had
turned out to be a vampire and a ghost; his luck could only

After an uncomfortably long pause, he at last said simply, "There's
plenty of room."

"Oh, thank you!" Mink exclaimed, charitably attributing his
slowness of speech to shyness. "We've been walking all day," she
continued, as she sat down at the fire. "I hope you don't mind if
we rest a little before we gather more firewood."

Pia had been studying their host (if one could call him that) more
closely than the other two. "Look!" she exclaimed, patting his
shoulder. "He's wearing armor, like me!" She looked at D very
earnestly. "Do your parents worry about you, too?"

Mappy had also been studying D from his perch atop Pia's head. He
began to growl softly, then leaped down to the ground and expanded
himself to Totoro size, foreclaws outspread as he gave his most
menacing growl. D, unexpectedly finding himself in his metier after
all, sprang to his feet, unsheathing the long sword that he always
kept in easy reach, as Mappy growled again.

"Mappy!" Pia exclaimed, shocked. She stood protectively in front of
her pet -- the effect was of a mole trying to defend a mountain --
and spreading out her arms, she shouted, "Don't hurt Mappy, Mappy's
taking care of me!"

D wasn't the kind of person to skewer a child's pet mouse, but on
the other hand, he didn't want Mappy to "take care of" *him*. Mappy
growled yet again -- and this time there was an answering growl
from the nearby forest.

Mappy's growls when in his expanded size perfectly mimicked the
growl of a mutant bear defending its territory. As it happened, the
campsite that D had chosen was already part of a mutant bear's
territory, and it didn't take kindly to trespassers. Mappy's
growling distracted it from the intruder it had treed, and it came
roaring out of the woods, every hair on end and foam dripping from
its jaws. Even on all fours it was as tall as a man. Its head was
oversized, a type of disproportion not uncommon in mutant beasts,
and it had a set of teeth that would have sent a great white shark
fleeing in terror.

Mink, however, was not a great white shark.

"RAGING DRAGON PUNCH!" she shouted, charging fist-first at the
slavering monster, to D's horror -- surely fear had driven her
insane (if having horns and a tail hadn't already). Before he could
possibly intervene, however, Mink's fist crashed into the
creature's snout. There was a loud crunch, an explosion of blood --
and a shattering noise as every tooth in its head fell to the

The mutant bear, on realizing that it no longer had any teeth,
turned very red, covered its mouth with its paws, and immediately
died of embarrassment.

                           * * *

D wasn't sure he had ever eaten mutant bear steaks before, but he
wasn't one to complain about food. Mappy was still less than
pleased about sharing a campsite with D, but after being amply
fussed at by Pia and Lufa, he had subsided to his normal Pia's-head
size and now confined himself to giving D occasional silent dirty

Before the mutant bear had appeared, it had crossed D's mind that
the all-female group might want to hire him as a bodyguard; he
received such requests from time to time, and he occasionally
accepted them. Having seen Mink in action, however, he wondered
whether perhaps *he* should hire *them* as bodyguards.

It was only an idle thought, and it passed from his mind as he cut
off and ate another chunk of bear steak -- well-done, the way he
preferred his meat. He really had very little interest in the
group, however effective a fighter Miss Horns-and-Tail might be.
The danger of the mutant bear was past, as was the need to get
provisions, and his thoughts returned to their interrupted course:
feeling sorry for himself because he was no more human than the
strange bear-fighting girl seemed to be. He was a dhampir, born of
a vampire father and a human mother, and his career was that of the
dhampirs of old, old lore: he was a vampire hunter. He roamed the
frontier, where the vampires (long driven from the cities) still
survived to oppress humans with their cruel, murderous, literally
bloodthirsty ways. He hunted them. He killed them.

He was sick of it.

He was sick of being a dhampir, neither vampire nor human, scorned
and feared by both. He was sick of being stuck out in the middle of
nowhere because that, after all, was where the vampires were. He
was sick of being alone, unable to form human attachments for fear
that his vampire nature would betray him and lead him to chow down
on a date in the unlikely event he ever found one. He was sick of
knowing that although he usually could live on normal food, there
were times when he had to rely on blood tablets to stay alive.

And he was thoroughly sick his chief motive for always wearing
brown leather gloves: the symbiotic smartass in the palm of his
left hand, a face that could see through his eyes but seldom shared
his perspectives, that spoke with a deep voice and sneering
intonation. He was so sick of being alone, yet never being *really*
alone, that he forgot how many times the symbiot's unusual powers
had saved his bacon.  Whenever he thought of the thing, he thought
of its incessant taunting, its constantly encouraging him to drink
live, raw, blood from a woman's throat, its incessant reminders
that his vampire half entrapped in his current mode of existence
that he was -- his mind returned to that dark motif -- so
thoroughly sick of. Ironically, instead of being glad of a
distraction from his bitter thoughts, he was more inclined to
resent his recently acquired companions. How could he feel properly
sorry for himself for being alone if he wasn't alone? Not noticing
the irony, he found himself looking forward to the sunrise, when
the trio, with their amiable chatter, would just go away.

That is, until he overheard Mink talking about her quest.

"If Dick Saucer said I was charming even when I had horns and a
tail, I know he'll love me after I drink the People Potion and turn
into a real human being." Mink smiled wistfully at the thought. "If
it turned a Slime into a human being, it will have to work on me --
I'm already half human."

D's eyes went wider at this, and for a moment he nearly choked on
his bear steak. He was sitting a little apart from the others,
finding their camaraderie too much to bear in his present state of
mind, but now he moved closer to the group, causing Mappy to edge
away, flattening his ears.

"Yes, you even kissed him once," Lufa recalled, and all three
girls' eyes went dreamy (Mappy's eyes were busy glaring at D).
"Just imagine being knocked through a wall and landing on Dick
Saucer! Hey -- you never did give me that indirect kiss!"

Mink hastily backed away and nearly bumped into D. Before she could
apologize, D spoke. "Did you mention," he asked quietly, "turning
into ... a real human being?"

Lufa made a "hmph" noise and went back to her mutant bear steak.

Mink nodded at D, looking glum again. "Yes. I'm a dragon half. My
father is human, but my mother is a dragon. Dick Saucer is my hero,
but because he's a dragon hunter, he only wants to kill me. So Lufa
is leading us west to where we can find the People Potion. If I
drink it, I'll become a human being, and I can marry him!"

"So someone who isn't human can become human be drinking this ...
People Potion?"

Lufa nodded. "It even works on Slimes!"

An ominous gleam crept into D's eyes. "I'm headed west, myself," he
said, having suddenly decided that the direction he had taken by
chance would be a good one to take purposefully. "We can travel
together.  I've never heard of People Potion; I'd be curious to see

"Of course!" Mink exclaimed. "The more, the merrier."

                           * * *

Meanwhile, in the forest:

Once he had concluded that the mutant bear was gone for good -- or
at least far enough to let him find a more comfortable tree --
Rosario shinnied down from his precarious perch. Being a genius
wasn't all it was cracked up to be.

Rosario's lord, King Civa, wanted Mink as bait for a trap for her
father, Ruth. Ruth had betrayed the king by marrying the dragon
that the king had sent him to kill -- a red dragon that could also
take the form of a beautiful woman. In fact, she took the form of
such a beautiful woman that the king wanted to marry her after her
husband's upcoming untimely demise.

To bait the trap making that demise possible, Mink was needed, dead
or alive, and it was Rosario's job to get her. After all that he
had been through, he had decided that he preferred to get her dead.
Very, very dead.

Rosario mentally reviewed his numerous failed efforts. The trap
baited with a Dick Saucer concert ticket: Failed. Shooting Mink
with three poison darts and taking her (dead, he had thought) to
the king: Failed. Tempting her with a poisoned apple: Failed.
Offering her a laxative disguised as a quick-energy drink:
Mortifyingly failed. Setting her up against the meanest muthas
character designer Masahiro Koyama could come up with: Failed.
Siccing a poison-stinging bug onto her: Failed.

Failed, failed, failed. Soon all the other geniuses would be
pointing at him and snickering as he passed. He was already in
disgrace with the king, who had told him not to come back to the
castle unless it was with Mink in tow.

Although he had no wish to risk encountering the mutant bear again,
Rosario followed the path it had cleared for itself because it
looked as if that would take him out of the forest soonest. After
a while, he could see the flicker of flames through the dark trees,
and soon he found his mouth watering at the odor of mutant bear
steaks roasting on an open fire. Rosario walked a little faster --
until he heard Mink's voice. Hunger forgotten, he ducked behind a
large tree (mentally noting that it would make a much more
comfortable place to flee from the next mutant bear that came
along) just in time to hear her explaining her search for the
People Potion to D.

"So," Rosario mused, "she's looking for People Potion, is she?
Maybe I can provide one ... heh, heh, heh...."

                           * * *

The group traveling westward now numbered four -- or six, if you
counted Mappy and the cyborg horse. Pia would have liked to ride
behind D for a little while -- for the novelty of it, not because
she was tired or lazy -- and D would have consented -- he would
have consented to nearly anything that would bring him nearer the
People Potion. But Mappy fluffed himself so big and shadow-boxed
and squeaked so fiercely that Pia sighed and abandoned the project.

Lufa still led the way, and now D on his cyborg horse brought up
the rear. Their journey was for a time uneventful. Once when they
stopped to rest Pia petted the cyborg horse -- it was only D that
Mappy objected to -- and was amazed and delighted to learn how soft
its nose was, just like a regular biological horse's. Lufa,
thinking ahead to lunch, tried bringing a bird down with her
lightning staff but managed only to scorch herself, to D's alarm
(suppose it had killed her? No one else knew the way). They forded
a number of streams -- no problem for D, because the cyborg horse
actually took him across them. At one, however, he got another
shock when Mink playfully spread her wings (which she usually kept
tucked out of sight) and *flew* across.

D wondered whether he would rather have wings or be human, if he
had the choice. He was still pondering the matter when he saw a
bent, cowled figure ahead of them on the road.

"People Potion!" the figure called out in an old woman's voice.
"Oh, who will buy my People Potion!"

"People Potion!" Mink exclaimed, and she ran forward to meet the
dark-robed figure. "You're selling People Potion?"

The figure nodded. (It was, of course, Rosario in disguise.) "Yes,
dearie. This bottle of it comes from the far west, and I must sell
it so I can feed my dear little ones. Anyone who drinks the whole
bottle will become a human -- even a Slime or a dragon."

By this time Lufa, Pia, Mappy (on Pia's head), and D (on horseback)
had caught up. "It doesn't look like a bottle of People Potion to
me," said Lufa, frowning.

"Well, of course this isn't the original bottle," the potion-vendor
replied indignantly. "This is to fool people so they won't steal
it. But it's really People Potion -- you can't tell a book by its
cover, you know."

"Is that the only bottle of it you have?" D asked.

The potion-vendor nodded sadly. "I'm afraid so. It's rare stuff --
and this young lady did ask about it first. Don't you want to buy
it, my dear?"

"Yes, of course!" Mink exclaimed, and a little dickering soon
resulted in a transfer of ownership.

"Now, remember," the potion-vendor said, "it has to be drunk all at
once -- you don't want to risk someone turning partway into a human
and still being half dra -- ah, half whatever."

"Yes, yes!" Mink agreed, and she was about to unstopper the bottle
and gulp down the contents.

"Wait," said D. He had by this time dismounted, and he laid one
brown-gloved hand over the bottle. "Mink, you don't know what it
really may be like to become a human. You might need to rest
afterward. Just to be safe. You really should wait until we make
camp to drink it."

Rosario didn't dare linger near the group any longer -- Mink had
seen his face before and might recognize him, a chance he couldn't
afford to take.  So he had to hobble in the other direction until
the group had disappeared around a bend in the road before he could
reverse course to spy on them at a discreet distance.

Rosario's encounter with the mutant bear had convinced him of the
advisability of scoping out comfy trees for purposes of fleeing in
terror. It also had occurred to him that trees showed considerable
promise as surveillance posts. What had not occurred to him was
that a tree big enough to make a comfy retreat-cum-surveillance
post would also be old enough to have a number of unsound limbs
more likely to collapse than to bear the weight of a grown man --
even one dressed as an old woman.

That was how it came to pass that within minutes of selling Mink
her certain doom, Rosario was lying at the base of an enormous
tree, stone cold unconscious and surrounded by the remains of an
enormous dry-rotted limb that had collapsed under him.

Meanwhile, Mink's head was awhirl with excitement. The People
Potion was hers at last! D's head was also awhirl: Was there any
way he could get his hands on the stuff? Could Mink be dissuaded
from her plans to drink it all at a gulp?

They were about to ford a particularly swift and rocky river when
Mink announced, "Hey, wait! We don't need to travel any more! I
have the People Potion now -- if I drink it and become human, I can
go back and marry Dick Saucer *now*. Let's make camp here so I can
rest if I need to when I'm a human being!"

D didn't mind having one fewer river to cross. This one, being as
rapid and deep as it was, made him particularly uneasy, with its
sharp, protruding rocks and the cataracts of water rushing white
around them. Being half vampire made D vulnerable to moving water
in all forms -- even rain. Getting soaked in rain or submerged in
flowing water would lower his body temperature and weaken him
badly. He suspected that it in fact had the potential to make him
very, very dead.

Humans, of course, weren't vulnerable in such a way.

Mink paced back and forth nervously while D untacked the cyborg
horse. D watched her out of the corner of his eye with some
apprehension as she held the bottle in one hand, then the other,
then both. Being *very* carefully not to startle her, he said,
"Mink, that's been in the sun all day -- and it's gotten shaken up
with your handling it so much. Besides, it may be fermented -- we
don't know how People Potion is made. You don't want it spewing all
over when you open it. Perhaps it would be safest if you put it
into the water to cool."

"In the *water*?!" Mink exclaimed, staring at the whitening
maelstrom and clutching the bottle in a way that set D's teeth on
edge. "It'll get washed away!"

"Not in the middle of everything," D quickly explained. "Like
this." He pulled off his glove -- his *right* glove -- and scooped
away sand so the water made a small, still pool beside the river,
just the right size for the bottle. Mink gently, almost reverently,
put it in. She looked anxiously at D. "Are you sure it'll be safe

"Of course," he replied, rinsing his hand off in the stream (and
shuddering a bit at the contact with running water, for even that
little touch felt numbingly cold to him). "Perhaps I should watch
it for you."

"No, no, I'll watch it myself."

Farther up on the strand, Pia had prevailed on Lufa to let her bury
her in the sand. "Look, Mink! Look, D! Lufa's all covered up!"

"Okay, o-KAY!" said Lufa. "I'm all covered up. You wanna unbury me
before I roast alive? This is *hot*!"

While Pia obediently unburied Lufa, Mink looked shyly at D. "D ...
what's it like ... to be human?"

D nearly had to bite his tongue to keep from snapping "How would
*I* know?" Instead, he said, "Well, you'd be a lot weaker; you
might not be as pretty; you wouldn't be able to fly -- "

Mink cocked her head coyly. "You think I'm pretty?"

"Uhm -- yes. Your wings lend so much grace to your figure."

Mink looked disappointed and hugged her knees. "Oh."

"Maybe you should think about it more before you try to become
human, Mink. You might decide you don't like it -- and where would
you find a Dragon Half Potion to turn you back?"

Mink seemed to turn this over in her mind, and D slipped his hand
(the right one) behind his back and crossed his fingers. But at
last she came to a decision. "No; if I'm not human, Dick Saucer
will never care about me. I have to take the chance."

D sighed.

Lufa was now free of her sand prison and was muttering and trying
to brush herself off. Pia ran over to Mink. "Mink, please, can I
bury you in the sand now?"

Mink smiled as gently as she could. "Not now, Pia. I've got to stay
with my People Potion while it cools."

"I can watch it," D said. "Lying down would help you relax."

"Well...." The prospect of watching People Potion cool *was* about
on a par with the prospect of watching paint dry.

"I won't let it out of my sight," D said resolutely. "I'll treat it
as if it were my own People Potion."

Mink, not realizing just how literally he meant that last
statement, nodded and even managed to smile as she let Pia lead her
farther up on the strand.

Lufa, still brushing at the sand on her skin, approached D. "D, I
can't stand having sand all over myself like this. I'm going
upstream to bathe. Don't look until I tell you it's okay."

D absently nodded assent; he had no problem with that. The only
sight he cared about was the People Potion.

"D!" the symbiot whispered from his left palm. It was beginning to
wonder if it would have any lines in this fanfic. "What the *hell*
do you think you're doing? You don't know what's in that stuff! It
could be poison. It could be anything! It could -- it could --
*D!!* I'm not sure I can survive attached to a human!"

D grinned a grin that would have put Totoro himself to shame.

                            * * *

Walking and worrying about the People Potion had tired Mink out,
and she closed her eyes and actually dozed off as Pia covered her
with sand. Pia didn't seem to mind the lack of response to her
occasional queries of, "Isn't this *fun*, Mink?" D had been careful
to turn his back to the upstream part of the river where Lufa was
bathing (with a clear conscience, because in fanfics, unlike anime,
shower scenes and other forms of gratuitous nudity are not
obligatory). Consequently, he now had very little to look at
besides Pia and her willing -- now somnolent -- "victim." She did
look very peaceful -- very unobservant. And D realized that the
perfect moment had arrived. Pia was preoccupied with Mink; Mink was
asleep; Lufa was upstream, de-sanding herself; Mappy was pointedly
ignoring him; and the cyborg horse frankly didn't give a damn.

D touched the cool bottle. His advice to Mink had of course been
mere pretexts, to delay her drinking the potion, but it occurred to
him that his speculations might be correct. The stuff might really
*need* to cool so it wouldn't spew out. Would it be ready to drink

But would he get another chance?

Lufa considered D a man of his word -- about not looking, that is
-- and consequently hadn't put any of her clothes back on when she
had washed all the sand off herself, willing to let the sun dry her
while inserting a bit of gratuitous nudity after all. She was only
a few feet behind D, strolling with silent steps, when he made his
move, lifting the People Potion out of its pool with his right hand
even as the symbiot was doing what it could to immobilize the left.
D knew he'd find a way to open it whether the symbiot wanted him to
or not. If worse came to worse, he'd break the damn neck off.
Confident of success, he rose and whirled about with a triumphant
flourish of his cape.

And nearly collided with a stark naked Lufa.

Lufa did what anime girls usually do when caught in dishabille: She
screamed and covered her breasts with one hand, and with the other,
she gave D's jaw a blow that sent him sailing into the river,
People Potion and all.

D hung suspended over the water for a moment, eyes wide with the
shock of being unexpectedly superdeformed. Then he fell, and the
tremendous splash drowned out the crash of the People Potion bottle
shattering on a rock.

Lufa's scream had of course awakened Mink. She opened her eyes just
in time to see D, People Potion in hand, plunge into the water.
With a wild yell, she exploded out of the sand, wings spread in

"Hey!" Pia shouted. "You're supposed to let *me* unbury you!"

"Lufa!" Mink screamed. "What do you think you're *doing*?!"

"What do you think *he* was doing! That pastefaced pervert! Thought
he could take a look at me naked and get away with it. But I showed

=You sure did, if you were walking around like that -- you showed
him *everything*,= Mink thought dryly. Aloud she said, "But he had
my People Potion in his hand! You shouldn't have hit him until he'd
put it down. Oh --! Maybe it floated downstream." She took to the
air again and hovered over D's unmoving form. All too quickly she
spied the remains of the bottle, neck still gripped in his right
hand, fragments of the rest already carried away by the swift

Mink gave a roar of rage and spat flame. Lufa had pulled her
clothes on and picked up her lightning staff. She didn't want to
hurt her friend, but when Mink dived at her breathing fire, Lufa
decided survival came before friendship and lifted the rod
heavenward. "Powers that be, heed my command!"

A bolt of lightning crashed from the cloudless sky, striking Lufa
and knocking her senseless, so that her legs collapsed under her
just before Mink's flying form would have connected. Mink slammed
headfirst into the sand instead, burying herself up to her

A scorched Lufa sat up at about the same time that Mink,
ostrich-like, pulled her head out of the sand with an audible
*POP!* Despite the lack of actual physical contact, making the
attempt at it had had a cathartic effect on both of them.

"Gee, I just bathed," Lufa muttered, regarding her blackened skin.

Mink bonked one side of her head, then the other, against her open
hand to get the sand out of her ears. "D said he'd watch that
People Potion like it was his own," she muttered. "Hey -- where
*is* that weirdo?"

"He's still in the water," Pia said. "Do you suppose it's because
he's wearing armor, like me?"

Mink and Lufa exchanged worried glances and hurried to the river,
where D was indeed still submerged. No words were necessary. They
waded into the dangerously swift current as quickly as they dared.
Fortunately Lufa's blow hadn't flung him terribly far into the
water, and soon each was able to grab one of his arms.

"I hope he's still breathing," Mink shouted over the roar of the
water. "Dick Saucer is one thing -- but I really don't want to
perform mouth-to-mouth on this guy."

Lufa nodded her agreement -- D looked less human than ever to her.
Through the miracle of continuity convenience, the wide-brimmed hat
remained firmly in place -- albeit soaked through -- but the shadow
that it cast didn't conceal the fact that his eyes were closed and
his face nearly as pale as the whitewater rushing about the three.

Working in concert, Mink and Lufa pulled D -- wet as a washrag, and
nearly as limp -- well up onto the beach, to the remnants of the
mound where Mink had been buried. His right hand was still clamped
around the neck of the People Potion bottle. His left was also
clenched in a fist. The symbiot was quite conscious, of course;
running water had no particular effect on *it*. But it was still
feeling miffed and had decided that D had gotten himself into this
situation, and he could get himself out of it.

"D!" Mink exclaimed. "What were you *doing* with my People Potion?

On being pulled out of the water -- that terrible, chilling water
-- D had regained consciousness. Barely. But his teeth were
chattering so hard he couldn't have spoken even had he wanted to.

"He's freezing," said Lufa. "I'll start a fire with my staff."

She lifted the staff heavenward -- with the same result as before.
At least this time she was scorched already.

D had managed to unclench his right hand from the bottle's neck and
was scratching feebly at the sand.

"Look!" exclaimed Pia. "D wants me to bury him, too! Hurray!"

Mink remembered how warm the sand had been when she was buried in
it. "Of course -- it's like a blanket. It'll be warm all around
him. Lufa -- stop playing with that silly stick and help us get
these wet clothes off D before he catches pneumonia!"

Lufa sat up, muttered something to the effect that turn about is
fair play, and began tugging at D's clothes.


D's clothing was spread on various sorts of vegetation over a wide
area so it would dry in the sun. D himself, buried in a mound of
warm sand, had finally stopped shivering and was beginning to feel
human again.

In the broadest sense of the term, of course.

Lufa had bathed *again* to get herself unscorched. Pia had
refrained from unburying D, on Mink's advice. Mink had gone again
and again through a cycle of rage, puzzlement, and despair. As soon
as D seemed to be capable of talking, she was going to get some
answers out of him -- preferably after he got out of the sand and
before his clothes dried, because while he was a little too weird
to be kissable, he wasn't bad-looking, either. Especially without
all that armor.

To pass the time, Mink and the twice-bathed Lufa had gathered
firewood and laid a fire near D, although they hadn't yet lit it.
Lufa was unwilling to let Pia use her lightning staff as a toy
(even though it might have been safer in Pia's hands, Lufa's aim
being what it was), so Pia had commandeered a long piece of
firewood to play with. Her latest game was mountain climber, and of
course the sand on top of D was a perfect setting. D was lying on
his back with his eyes closed and thinking that perhaps it *was*
time he got up when he heard Pia's triumphant shout of "I claim
this mountain in the name of Queen Pia the First!"

He opened his eyes just in time to see a wooden stake plummeting
toward his chest.

"YAAAAH!" yelled D. With strength that he had no idea he'd
recovered, he bucked out of the mound. Pia went flying through the
air and landed square on Mink.

"OOF!" said Mink, with feeling.

"You're supposed to let me unbury you!" Pia exclaimed, waving her
mountain-climbing-staff-cum-flagpole in protest.

D stood and began brushing sand off himself. Being in a fanfic
rather than an anime, D didn't need to worry about being modest,
and his writer didn't have to worry about camera angles. Lufa,
watching him, muttered something about not having gotten equal

Once she was out from under Pia, Mink observed, "Well, I see you're
feeling better." She was, she realized, still a little too angry
with D to indulge in rational conversation with him. Partly to be
useful, and partly to let off steam, she blew a fiery breath into
the sticks and set them aflame.

D went very pale and sat down rather quickly. "I *wish* you
wouldn't do that," he said. At Mink's sideward glare, he hastily
added, "It reminds me of someone." And he shuddered.

"An old flame?" Mink asked, but D only shuddered again.

"Are you still cold, D?" Pia asked sympathetically.

"I'm ... I'm recovering," he told her. "There's some medicine I
need to mix with hot water. It's in my combat belt -- that thing I
wear across my chest," he elaborated, at Pia's puzzled look. "And
there's a metal cup for the water in one of my saddlebags."

"I'll get it!" said Pia, eager to be useful. She soon returned with
D's combat belt looped around her, half-carrying, half-dragging his
saddlebags. D took them with unsteady hands and draped them loosely
over one leg in a way that somewhat preserved modesty, to Mink's
chagrin. From one of the saddlebags he extracted a metal cup and
spoon. Mink, seeing how weak he really was, wordlessly took the cup
and filled it at the river, then set it at the edge of the fire to
heat the water.

Without his armor and the cape and hat, D looked a good bit smaller
and less intimidating -- not to say less good-looking. Mink was
wondering what the likelihood was of this fanfic running to a
shower scene when D said, "It's probably hot enough." He reached
for the cup, but Mink said, "No, let me -- you just put them in and
stir, right?"

D nodded and handed her a few brown tablets. She dropped these into
the cup (which was still sitting in the coals) and carefully
stirred the frothing mixture with a clean stick. D, poor soul, was
getting fairly shaky with anticipation and blood-hunger and found
Mink's thoroughness (which really was well-intended, however much
she might owe him for destruction of her People Potion) wearisome.
His eyes took on a slight blue glow as, unable to help himself, he
growled softly, shoved Mink aside, and grabbed the cup.

D had forgotten that he was not wearing gloves. The metal cup had
been sitting on the fire for quite a while and was *very* hot.

D gave a yelp of pain so loud that it startled Rosario into falling
out of the rather smaller tree he had just perched in to observe
the group. As if synchronized, Rosario hit the ground, and the
cup's contents splashed across the sand, immediately soaking in and
leaving a long red streak.

Mink had seen plenty of blood splashes in her time (from her
encounters with mutant bears and such) and absolutely could not
believe that *that* was what was arcing out of the cup before
hitting the sand and soaking in. She hadn't paid that much
attention to the liquid when it was in the cup, but once out, her
knee-jerk reaction to it was, "Yeeps! That's *blood*!"

It was, and D, overcome with blood-hunger, was scooping up single
handfuls of reddened sand and sucking desperately at them. Even the
symbiot was disgusted. "D, cut that out and let *me* handle this."

When D just pushed his face in deeper, the symbiot made a fist of
his left hand and gave D's head a good thwack. Taking advantage of
the whirling stars that momentarily filled D's vision, the symbiot
plunged itself into the bloodied sand, grabbing handfuls and
munching them while D simply blinked, looking stunned.

Mink, of course, was about to have hysterics, if not kittens. A man
who drank blood? A hand with pica?

The symbiot was a very efficient eater and soon had salvaged all
the blood, as well as a good bit of nice, yummy sand. It gave a
quiet belch of satisfaction.

"You're disgusting," D muttered, notwithstanding that he felt a lot
better because of the symbiot's efforts.

"*I'm* true to my nature," the symbiot retorted. "If you were
content to be the way you are, you wouldn't have gotten yourself
into this fix. Hey, are those gloves dry yet? I could use some

"They're leather; they'll take all night to dry," D replied
unsympathetically. "But the rest of my clothes...."

Were for the most part in sight, and enough of them were dry to
permit decency. D arose and noticed that Mink was staring at him in
something like horror.

"Well?" he asked. Embarrassment made him a little snappish. "Can't
a man have a private conversation without being gawked at?"

"What is -- ? Why do you -- ?"

"It's no more unusual than horns and a tail," D observed quietly.

Mink fell silent at this.

D continued, "I'm going to put some clothes on. You ladies have had
enough of a free show."

"That's telling 'em, D," the symbiot muttered drowsily.

                            * * *

The heavier articles of D's clothing -- the hat and cape, as well
as his boots and gloves -- were still too wet for comfort, but his
bodysuit (animators and their damned bright ideas; Hideyuki Kikuchi
hadn't written him wearing such a thing) was dry enough to wear
comfortably. Now he sat near the fire, decent but preoccupied. He
had unsheathed his great sword -- which had also gotten a thorough
drenching -- and was carefully oiling it, occasionally resheathing
it and then drawing it again to be sure the sheath kept its proper
shape as it dried. He didn't even want to think about what would be
involved in reblocking his hat.

Mink had watched him thoughtfully for some time. She finally
decided that conciliation was the best approach and said, "D, I'm
sorry I let you stay in the water so long. It's a wonder you only
got chilled and not drowned. I was just so angry because the People
Potion was gone...." Suddenly realization dawned. "You aren't
human, either, are you? You wanted the People Potion for yourself!"

D nodded silently, eyes downcast.

"What *are* you?" Mink demanded.

"I'm ... a dhampir. Or, I suppose you would say, a vampire half."
After a pause, he added, "And a vampire hunter."

Mink gasped. "Is that why you drink blood?"

D nodded.

"And why -- and why -- your hand -- ?"

"That's a little more complicated," D replied, careful not to
elaborate, since the fanfic author has no idea why he has a
symbiotic smartass in his left palm. "But that *is* why the running
water affected me the way it did." He shivered a little at the
memory. "It's also why I needed to be buried in the sand. Dhampirs
are creatures of earth." He nodded toward the group's youngest
member. "Thank you, Pia."

Pia beamed proudly, feeling somewhat compensated for not having
been allowed to unbury Mink *or* D.

"Poor D," said Mink, with genuine sympathy. D winced inwardly; he
might occasionally wallow in self-pity on his own account, but he
wasn't used to other people's feeling sorry for him, and he didn't
particularly like it. "You mean you *have* to drink blood?"

"Not often," D replied, a little gruffly.

"Is it hard, being a vampire hunter?" Pia asked.

"Sometimes," D admitted, grateful for the change of subject. "It
can be very dangerous. But being a dhampir gives me extra abilities
that make it a little less dangerous for me than it would be for a

"But you wanted to be human!" Mink exclaimed.

D nodded. "Yes. Even though it would mean losing some of my powers.
Just as it would for you, Mink. But you were willing to take the

"I still am," Mink said firmly. "We'll just have to keep traveling
west after all." She hugged her knees to her chin. "I should have
asked that woman to tell us more about where she got it."

Just then, the same old woman conveniently hobbled into view. As may
be imagined, the hobbling was now rather more realistic.

"What!" she exclaimed -- at seeing Mink's horns and tail, as Mink
thought, although of course "her" displeasure was really at seeing
Mink still alive. "You haven't drunk the p -- the People Potion

"Oh, I'm sorry!" Mink cried, jumping up. "We were cooling it in the
water, and the bottle got broken. It's all gone. Please, can you
tell us more about where you found it?"

"Hmph," Rosario sniffed. "It's not so easy to find -- I have to
keep my sources secret. But if -- "

At this point Pia, wanting to help her friends, said, "Please, tell
us how to find People Potion for Mink and D!" And to emphasize her
earnestness, she gave the "old woman's" robe a yank.

At which the whole disguise slipped to the ground, revealing --

"You!" Mink exclaimed, remembering the man who had offered her a
poisoned apple in King Civa's castle.

D still felt rather ashamed of his attempted larceny and
overreacted to learning that the potion-vendor was not what s/he
had appeared. Before Rosario knew it, the point of D's sword was
against his rib cage.

"Yipes!" Rosario exclaimed, backpedalling a few steps from his
fallen disguise before taking a pratfall.

D followed with inhuman speed. "Who are you?" he demanded, his
sword making a gentle indentation in Rosario's chest. "And what
were you *really* selling?"

"Er -- uhm -- look -- how about a refund?" Rosario stammered, going
through his pockets and sleeves so fast (despite D's sword) that he
seemed to have six hands, and finally coming up with a pouch
containing the gamels Mink had paid him.

Pia, entering into the spirit of inquisitiveness, was exploring the
recesses of Rosario's involuntarily abandoned disguise. "Look!" she
called out, waving her find in the air. "It's a bottle with Captain
Harlock's flag!"

D and Mink stared aghast at the skull and crossbones on the label.
D turned back to the supine and sweating Rosario and jabbed the
point of his sword just deep enough to draw a little blood
(invisible against Rosario's black clothing).

"Yowch!" Rosario exclaimed.

Something like a growl rose from D's throat. "You tried to poison
that girl! Can you give me one good reason I shouldn't kill you on
the spot?"

"You can't kill me!" Rosario exclaimed. "I'm needed for sequels!"

Since Rosario was superdeformed, D knew it was the truth and backed
away, scowling. Rosario giggled behind a wide and totally
artificial grin, dropped the bag of gamels, grabbed his disguise,
and fled at a very rapid hobble.

Mink stared after him, then gasped as realization hit her. "D! You
kept me from drinking poison! You saved my life!"

D had wiped the blood off the point of his sword and resheathed it.
He only had time to blink before Mink began jumping up and down,
shouting, "Wai! D da yo! Hurray, hurray*!" She spread her wings and
took off in a joyous victory flight.

D reflected that it looked as if he had been forgiven for breaking
the bottle of "People Potion." And he reflected further that if
he'd been human, Mink would have drunk it herself and been rendered
very, very dead.

If he'd saved someone because of just *being* a dhampir, not even
having to draw his sword, maybe becoming human wasn't such a great
idea after all.

Lufa glanced back and forth between D and the shrinking, hobbling
black dot that was Rosario. Frowning thoughtfully, she asked, "Is
it my imagination, or did his voice sound like yours?"

"He sounded like just another guy from a salt marsh," the symbiot
muttered, a comment unintelligible without a touch of

"Well," Lufa observed, once Mink had come to earth again, "I guess
this means we're still headed west to find the People Potion after
all." She looked warily at D. "I don't know how much we'll find
even if we get there."

D shook his head. "No. I'm abandoning this quest. I need all the
powers I have so I can keep hunting vampires -- and -- doing other
things. It was short-sighted of me to try to be human."

"I'm not going to give up," Mink declared firmly. "If I could be
human, I could marry Dick Saucer and realize my dream of having --"
her eyes went starry "-- a wonderful husband, a cute pet, and a
sweet home!"

Lufa pulled a hammer out of hammerspace and bashed Mink over the
head with it. "Baka! That's the wrong series!"



*Because "Hue, hue!" -- which she shouts in Japanese -- just
doesn't look right in English.

**Added here. The kanji forming the name of Kaneto Shiozawa,
the voice actor for D in VHD1985 and Rosario in Dragon Half, 
literally mean "ordinary person [from a] salt marsh." Rest in 
peace, Mr. Shiozawa.

Comments welcome.