**Hi, I don't know if anybody's going to remember me. I used to go by the pen name Danae Amadeus. Well that got tiring, and I decided to g back to using my
regular pen name like I do for all my other things. Anyway, I finally figured out my password for fanfiction.net again (yay!) So I thought I'd reintroduce myself by
posting a new story, and for anybody who's waiting for the conclusion of A Touch Of Silver, I'm working on it ;) Thanks for reading this, and please review...good
or bad, I except anything. Take care!**
Disclaimer: I don't know anybody, and they don't know me.
For A Friend
"Well I still think they're creepy looking. Ya know, not the color so much as the expression in them," Kento was saying to Cye and Ryo.
"After a year you're still afraid of his eyes," Cye giggled.
"His eyes and his manner," Kento shrugged. "You can't tell me he doesn't disturb you sometimes too. Knowing too much about a situation we just stepped into, always the first one to see a trap... saying exactly what's on your mind when even you didn't know."
"Kento, you're being silly!" Ryo laughed, "Sage is not that weird!"
"He is so," Kento insisted. "You can't say that when those big grey eyes are peering at you full focus you don't flinch a bit."
"I can't flinch. I'm the leader, I'm not supposed to be intimidated by you guys..."
"What about the eyes of steel?"
"They can't intimidate me either, and if they do, I can't show it."
"So you admit it!"
"I do not! Admit to what?"
"Being afraid of 'the eyes,'" Kento smirked. "But ya know it's ok. 'The eyes' scare you, Cye and I got your back."
"Unless he looks at us too... Those eyes are creepy," Cye said, then laughed. "Kento you are so silly!" He gazed towards the stairs, "And what are those two up to? I called that breakfast was ready almost 15 minutes ago."
"Sage is probably trying to wake Rowen up still. That boy sleeps like the dead."
"Maybe 'the eyes' killed him!"
"Kento, you..." Cye was interrupted by the voices on the stairs. Rowen and Sage were making their way down. Rowen still rubbing the sleep from his eyes and yawning, and Sage damp from a shower after a morning workout. They spoke softly to one another, thoroughly engaged in the conversation they were holding. Sage and Rowen were a team, they'd become quick friends after their initial meeting.
Cye Mouri, Ryo Sanada, Kento Rei-Fuan, Sage Date, and Rowen Hashiba were the owners of the mythical Ronnin Armors that were destined to save the world from peril. They had each found their armors separately, and trained independently until they were called to fight. When they had come together for the first time to battle the evil Dynasty, Sage and Rowen proved to be the thinkers of the group, both coming from similar childhoods of being quiet intellectual loners. They were the most mature, having both lived in worlds where children had to grow up fast. They were similar, but yet so different. Where Sage worshiped the day, Rowen worshiped the night. Sage was up with the sun every morning, and down with its settings, when Rowen was the exact opposite. Sage could be the spokesperson for self-control, for person fitness, good manners, and poise, Rowen could be the role model for the slobs of the world, who liked to read fiction, be slothful, state his own opinion as loudly as possible and not shut up until everyone agreed he was right, and bad posture.
"Good morning you two, what took so long?" Cye greeted them both. He, Ryo, and Kento had already eaten. The plates of the two tardy warriors sat side by side untouched and growing chilly.
"Rowen wouldn't get up," Sage shrugged. He walked straight to the pantry to grab a couple of tea bags. He usually picked the morning flavor for himself and Rowen. He gazed at Ryo, Kento, and Cye in passing, "Talking about me this morning were you?"
Ryo, Kento, and Cye all paused in what they were doing, their eyes going wide and their jaws slack. Sage studied them all shortly before disappearing into the pantry.
Rowen laughed looking at all their faces, "You know, he doesn't actually know these things... He just makes statements and judging from your startled reactions, he can guess if he was right or not. You give him too much credit."
Sage reappeared holding two bags of tea, dangling them for Rowen's approval of the flavor. Rowen nodded, and Sage went about brewing the tea.
"So, what are everyone's plans for the next month?" Rowen asked sitting down at the table, and looking down at his plate to see what was for breakfast.
"I'm going back packing, but you all know this," Ryo said with a sigh. He loved nature, and embraced it whenever he got the chance.
"Mother and I are going on a little sight seeing trip. She wants me to see more of England," Cye said. His mother was an English woman, and felt it was her duty to show Cye the other half of his heritage.
Kento grinned at Rowen, and leaned back in the kitchen chair leaving only two of its legs on the floor, "Well you know me, I'm just going back home, for some good old fashioned home cooking... And of course, to play the numbers. The Old Man's been playing the Lottery again, and to keep me from telling Mama, he takes a few numbers from me and buys me a few tickets too."
"Awww Kento, what's the use of playing a game like that? You know you're not going to get anything. Might as well just save your money, and don't get your hopes up," Cye said. "Besides, isn't gambling illegal for minors?"
"No one has to know the tickets are for me," Kento chuckled, "and besides, what do you mean I can't win?"
"Those things are so picky. Do you know anybody who's won?"
"What's that got to do with anything..."
"Actually, he's got a point. Knowing people who have won have nothing to do with it. It's a question of probability," Rowen said. "There's an equal chance for anyone who enters to win money."
"You see there!"
"Yes, the whole thing's just random numbers. It's hard to rig something like that," Sage said setting down Rowen's teacup in front of him, then sitting at his own respective seat beside him with his tea.
"And what would you know about gambling Sage? I'd hardly think Sensei Date would stand for any grandson of his to be gambling," Cye teased, bringing about one of Sage's rare smiles.
"No, he wouldn't. He'd skin my hide if he knew I was even talking about it, or thinking it," Sage said lightly.
"So are you anxious to get home Sage? Ready to get back to family life?" Ryo asked.
Sage nodded, his smile deepening. Smiling was a rare expression to be found on the blond's face, but when it was it practically made the room smile with it. He was an extremely attractive boy, with an irresistible charm that he sometimes didn't even know he possessed. He always underestimated the power of his smile, "Yes, I cannot wait to get home and see my family, even Yayoi I will hug."
"Looking forward to doing all those chores, and morning sessions too?" Rowen asked sipping his tea.
"Of course. I don't see why you won't come and spend at least a week in Sendai with me. My family loves you..."
"Oh no, there is no way I'm going back to that nut house," Rowen said affectionately. He loved Sage's family, they were the family he never had, but they were just too busy for him to be around all the time. "Can't sleep in, because you got a crazy old man poking you with a stick, 'Get up, get up, don't sleep your life away!' Open your eyes, it's still dark....I mean the sun is still sleeping for crying out loud! Sensei Date wants me to join Sage running sprints...in the dark. I'm stumbling down the stairs thinking only weirdos are up at this insane hour, and I smell breakfast cooking, and hear voices. The whole damn family is up.... and making food no less! Who can think of food that early? Your stomach is still asleep. And oooh...don't think you can go back to sleep and come back down later for breakfast...noooo! By then breakfast has been put away, 'No pancakes for lazy boy!' And those pancakes....mmmmmmn... to die for," Rowen purred remembering the taste of Sage's mother's pancakes. Sage laughed and hit Rowen over the head, "Shut up! You know you like it at my house!"
"Yeah, yeah... But anyway Dreamer, you know I'm going to Astronomy camp. I'm gonna spend my month studying the stars and planets."
"Ugh, school is out, and this guy wants to study!" Kento snorted in disgust. "And you want to do chores and wake up early. You two are mega-weird!"
Both Sage and Rowen rolled their eyes and started poking at their lukewarm meals.
"You want me to heat those us for you?" Cye asked.
"I'll do it," Sage waved Cye's offer, and picked up his and Rowen's plates.
"So Ryo... next time we see you, you'll be sweet 16," Kento nudged Ryo with his elbow. Ryo beamed, "Yeah, I'm getting old, huh?"
"Yeah Pops," Cye laughed, "Lets not forget I've been 16 for months now."
"Oh we haven't forgotten Pops," Kento chuckled.
"Hey you turn 16 a few weeks after Ryo, remember?" Rowen pointed out. "Then it'll be Sage's turn... I'm the baby."
"Shut up Ro!"
"So what are you gonna do for your birthday Ryo?"
"Oh I don't know... I hope Mia will be back for it though. I think she told me she would be there. Maybe we can go out and see a movie. You guys could come down too!"
"Yeah, that'd be great man," a secret look was passed around the table over Ryo's head.
"I look forward to it then," Ryo smiled. Being an orphan, and living on in Mia's manor alone when the others went home, left him feeling empty. He'd never really had birthday parties.
"So do we, Ryo, old buddy. So do we. You think Yulie will come too?"
"Oh yeah, of course."
"Great. We'll make a real birthday blow out, out of it then," Cye said. He smirked, a birthday blow out indeed.
"SURPRISE!!" Ryo blinked as he stepped off the elevator and confetti struck him in the face. He supposed he should have known, arriving at an alias location by mysterious invitation, wearing his best suit, he should have been prepared! He beamed at all of his friends laughing faces, laughing himself when everyone pulled him in for a hug. Mia, Yulie, and White Blaze were even in attendance. He had been wondering where his pet tiger had headed off to...
He marveled at the extravagance of the building. They were in a pent house suite with large windows for walls giving the extraordinary view of the city at night. He laughed as Mia popped the cork on some cider and it fizzed onto the wooden floor much to her dismay. She handed Ryo a glass, and poured some of the bubbling liquid into it. "Happy 16th birthday Ryo," she said with a smile.
"Wow," was all Ryo could say for a very long time. His friends were all dressed in their best, guiding him to a large table with a feast set upon it fit for a king. "I...I don't know what to say," he stammered. He didn't want to cry, that would be too girly. But he'd never had a real birthday party before. "How....How did you pay for all of this?"
It was Cye's turn to laugh then, "Remember me ragging on Kento about playing the lottery?"
"Well the fool actually won! And he won big time!"
"Three million smackers, baby!" Kento boasted. "I am rich, rich, rich!" He stuck his tongue out at Cye. "Anything you want tonight Ryo, baby, anything, it's yours!"
"At the rate he's spending, he'll be broke, broke, broke, again by the end of next week," Cye proclaimed with a chuckle. Kento glared at him, and threw a look towards the door with a frown.
It was at that moment that Ryo realized Sage was not in the room with them, "Where's Sage?"
Kento shrugged, "I haven't talked to him in a while, but last time we spoke...he was supposed to come."
Rowen tried to laugh it off, "You know him, when it comes to social events, he's always fashionably late. He'll be here in a little while, I bet." He frowned a little before patting Ryo's back, "Wait until you see what I got for you buddy! Straight from the moon this rare piece of rock is..."
"You got him a freakin' rock man?" Kento pushed his nose into Ryo and Rowen's conversation.
"It's a moon rock!" Rowen growled.
"Wait til you see what I got ya!" Kento bragged, tugging on his sports coat.
Not to be undone Cye soon chimed in about his gift. Mia and Yulie watched them in amusement , before Yulie finally asked, "Can we bring out the cake yet?"
"Sage still isn't here!"
"Oh well, he should have gotten here on time if he wanted cake. He'll learn his lesson when he shows up and it's all gone," Kento chuckled. "Yeah Yulie, we can bring out the cake!"
They sat happily, stomachs full of good food and sweets, sipping sweet cider while they talked about their months away, and admired the midnight view of the city.
"This is the best birthday I've ever had," Ryo said, his voice soft with the emotion he was trying to hold back. These people were his family, the one he thought he didn't have.
"It's nothing man," Kento said giving him a lazy smile. "It's the least we can do."
"I guess Sage isn't gonna show up after all," Yulie stated bluntly. So bluntly that Ryo blinked, "Well...maybe something came up."
"He could have at least called..."
"Maybe something important came up, I mean isn't he coming from out of the country? I thought he mentioned something about going to New York last time we spoke," Ryo said softly, he didn't want anything ruining his moment. He relaxed and had another sip of cider, and listened to another one of Cye's tales. Kento rolled his eyes at Cye beginning another story and turned on the television that was mounted on the wall in front of the table, he began flipping through the channels looking for a sporting event. Ryo made him stop on the news... He frowned as he stood to move closer to the screen, "Turn up the volume would you?"
"... another string of murders. Police and investigators are stumped as to what this mysterious killer is. Here is a picture taken from a reporter's camcorder while recording another story. Assuming the time and the filmed place it is surely the murder site."
A clip was shown briefly, then enhanced to show a green Samurai armor...bearing the symbols of Halo. It was a Ronnin armor! "Hey isn't that...?"
"There are no leads to the whereabouts of whoever the killer is. Citizens are warned to stay inside after dark, until the killer is in custody..."
"That was Halo," Rowen said staring at the screen.
"Killing, it's killing people. You don't think Sage has lost it do you?"
"Sage? Sage Date? Come on, yeah right! There has to be something else... We'll call his parents, they have to know where he is."
The armor of Halo would never behave in that manner... what the hell happened to Sage in New York? He'd gone to Columbia University on family business. It seemed the University had come into possession of an ancient sword that could be from the Date Clan judging from its crest. Sage had been sent by his grandfather to look at it, since he was the sword expert. Sage had left more than a week before. His parents none-the-less had been shocked to hear that no one had heard from him since he left. They were not ones to worry though, like Sage they were cool winds, and simply suggested that perhaps Sage decided to seek out some of his American cousins, maybe an aunt or uncle and was staying with them for a while. Sage's mother was a North American woman, which is where he inherited his blond hair, grey eyes, and fair skin.
He would have called... Ryo knew that for certain, after seeing that news report, and knowing that he hadn't been seen or heard from in more than a week, Ryo decided to take action. If all was well, and he really was jumping to conclusions, maybe it wasn't really Halo he saw, and maybe Sage was with family, he didn't want to drag the others into it. He saw no need to trouble them after the wonderful party they had thrown for him.
He sat back in his seat on the plane thumbing through the pages of The New York Post, thinking about all of it. The seat belt signal came on, and Ryo buckled his seatbelt and leaned back in his chair. He was closing his eyes when he heard, "You know, if you had told me you were planning a trip to New York, I could have sprung for us to ride first class."
Ryo's eyes snapped open to view Kento peering over the seat in front of him.
"Trying to vacation without us?" Cye asked appearing beside Kento. "Mia told us what you're up to."
Ryo laughed, "I just didn't want to send you all on a wild goose chase with me!"
"Hey, goose chases are fun!" Kento jeered, then he sobered, "And we're worried about Sage too, Ryo."
" Something's not right," Cye breathed.
Ryo shook his head, "No, something isn't."
"You bet your sweet hiney it isn't! Where are my honey roasted peanuts?! Kento began to ring for a flight attendant, laughing when everyone rolled their eyes at
him. "None for you then!"
"I'm glad you told us what was going on Mia," Yulie said still gazing up at the tall buildings making up his surroundings. "If you hadn't we would have thought Ryo had disappeared too!"
"Ah, you know Ryo takes so much responsibility for you and us. He didn't want us involved..."
"Yeah, but if something stole Sage's armor, and apparently him as well, then he really shouldn't be alone," Rowen spoke. Ever practical Rowen, always seeming to think about only strategies, and the logical reasoning behind motives. He never voiced that he was scared to death that Ryo might disappear as Sage seemingly had. He also failed to mention his guilt... Sage had invited him to stay with him at his home. If Rowen had just gone, perhaps he would have accompanied Sage on his trip here, he could have helped!
Mia held tight to Yulie's hand as she, Yulie, and Rowen approached their destination, the news station that had aired the clip of Halo running rampant. "Yulie, stick close to me okay, no running off," Mia said to the little boy as soon as she let go of his hand. Yulie nodded, and walked beside Rowen.
They stopped at the head secretary's desk, "Excuse us, we were trying to figure how to get in contact with the reporter that sent in the live footage of the Samurai armor? Is he in today?"
The male secretary stared at the Japanese visitors, and frowned. "I know what you're talking about...here let me look.." He whirled around in his office chair to face his computer. He typed in a few words and hit "search." He hummed, and ah'ed for a few minutes before turning back around in his chair, "The reporter you wish to see is actually a free-lance photographer and cameraman. He doesn't actually work here, he just submitted the piece. Sorry that news report was a little misleading."
"Damn," Rowen uttered under his breath. Ok, calm down,, there had to be something else they could do.
"Do you have his name, his address?" Mia asked, not missing a beat. "Any of that information would be extremely useful to us."
"Of course," the man nodded, "but I'm afraid I cannot distribute that information."
"What? But it's important! We've come all the way from Japan to...to find this person. Our friend's life...er...I... Please, sir. We're not bad people, ok. We don't want to steal from or harass the man, we just want to talk to him," Rowen leaned across the desk.
The secretary frowned and chewed his lower lip, "I'm not allowed to dispense that information..."
"We wouldn't tell anyone," Mia leaned in, batting her eyes seductively. The man blinked and adjusted his collar, "Um... well, I'll write it down, but then you leave."
"Thank you," Mia purred, smiling as the man quickly jotted down the address. They left the building promptly.
"Ok, guys. I'll go check this address out, while you head over to Columbia to see what you can find out about Sage there."
"Rowen, maybe we shouldn't split up..."
"There's too much ground to cover Mia..."
"And I think you're just getting impatient," Mia spoke sharply. "We should stick together."
"I'll only be gone for a little while, I'll meet back up with you in an hour! Please Mia, you don't know how I feel," Rowen sighed, he looked up at the sun in the middle of the sky, the sun Sage worshiped. Could he see it from wherever he was? He'd tried to see if he could reach Sage through their bond. The Ronnin Warriors found out during battle that they could sense when one another was near. He felt a void in the web that was Sage. He could vaguely feel the others, they were approaching, but nothing from Sage, who should be there according to every source they had. Could he be dead? "Mia, I was supposed to stay with him over our break...if I had just gotten over my dislike of waking up early, I would have been with him."
"And you would have disappeared with him too," Mia said back to him, her face and voice softening, "You can't blame yourself for Sage being missing. We'll find him Ro, don't worry so much. Sage is strong warrior, he can hold his own until help arrives." She sighed, "But if it will really make you feel better, you can go. But set your watch, you will meet us, in this spot, in an hour, ok?"
Rowen nodded gratefully, "In an hour! Thanks Mia...oh, and you two be safe!"
"The first thing we should do when we get there is to check in with Rowen, Mia, and Yulie. They're already in New York, they left hours before us. They're going to the news station that showed the report on Halo. And then we have to think about lodging. So we'll have to find a hotel..."
"The Ritz, The Plaza," Kento was rambling off names of fancy hotels they could stay in, "How about..."
"Kento," Cye interjected, "Just how much of your money have you spent already? Maybe you should start trying to save it, invest some! Staying some place within a reasonable price range will not kill you!"
"Oh, but it'll cramp my style..." Kento moaned playfully. "Oh fine, we can stay in some roach motel if you want and slum. I don't mind, but don't think you're going to stifle my nightlife!"
"Kento, you're 15, you don't have a nightlife," Cye said simply.
"Hey three million dollars says I can have whatever I want!" Kento puffed out his chest in pride. "Wine, clubs, clothes..."
"Police, detainment, jail, Mama Fuan," Cye began to chant alongside Kento's listings. Kento stopped mid-listing to glare at Cye, "Ha, ha, Mr. Funny Man."
"We should be landing soon guys," Ryo interrupted their banter, and as if on cue a flight attendant came to announce that the flight would be landing soon and for everyone to take their seats and buckle their seatbelts. Before she could conclude her announcement the plane was struck by some unseen force. It rocked as it someone had sat upon it and was riding it like a horse. Ryo gazed out of his window in horror only to see a disfigured phantasm hanging onto the wing of the plane. He pulled out a sword and sliced at the plane's wing. Ryo gasped unable to take his eyes away from the scene, even when the phantom vanished. "Ryo what is it?" Cye yelled as he was thrown into the seat in front of him.
"We're gonna crash!" Kento was shouting.
"Passengers please be seated and buckle up. We're going to make an emergency landing in the New York Gulf. Remain calm!" Ryo made sure Kento and Cye were strapped to their seats before taking his own and buckling up. He braced himself for impact, gripping the armrest tightly, and saying his prayers.
The plane hit the water with a splash, skimming the surface like butter and gliding to a stop. "Oh gods... I thought we were going to die..." Kento was muttering letting out his breath. "Phew!!"
"I think my stomach's still up in the air somewhere," Cye was moaning. "Ohh...Ryo? Are you ok?"
"Yeah..yeah I'm fine," Ryo stuttered. His mind was still on the creature he saw outside of the plane. It sounded like a bad horror movie he knew...but he had really seen the thing.
"What were you looking at out there man?"
"I..you...would have had to see it," Ryo was shaking his head. "This was no ordinary plane crash... that thing attacked the plane. It stared right at me, I think it wanted us or something."
"You had to have seen it," Ryo shuddered.
"That ugly huh?" Kento questioned, when Ryo didn't answer he nodded, "Of course...and let me guess, we gotta fight it. Looking forward to it. So...ah...how are they gonna get us out of this flying death trap?"
Moments later Kento was being instructed on how to inflate his seat into a small life raft as an answer to his question, "First class Ryo! We could have been in first class! I bet they have their own life-YACHTS!"
"Shut up Kento!"
"Hello?" Rowen knocked on the door to the small apartment, surprised when it came open at his touch. He cautiously made his way inside, "Hello? I'm Rowen Hashiba, I called you earlier and asked if I could come. I wanted to ask you about your.... WOA!!" He froze in his tracks. The apartment was ransacked, on a clothes line hung still developing pictures of the Halo armor.... but the photographer....was dead. He sat in his big easy chair, as if he had fallen asleep. In fact, Rowen might have believed he had, if it weren't for the large knife protruding from his chest.
Rowen approached the man slowly to examine him. He touched the hilt of the dagger, it looked familiar, it was... He knew it was stupid, but he had to see, he pulled the wedge from the man's chest to get a better look at it. He heard an loud gasp from behind him that made him jump. He whirled around to see a young woman with long brown hair gawking at him, her eyes full of horror and disgust, "Murderer!"
It was too late she was running away. Rowen stood glued to his spot before throwing down the dagger and running after her. By the time he was outside of the building, the girl was no where to be found. Who had she been, and why had she been following him?
He frowned, then looked down at his watch. He was going to be late in meeting Mia. He shook his head at his failure to discover anything about the whereabouts
of his friend, and began his trek back to the news station. Later on they were to go to Kento's uncle's restaurant to wait for the others and have dinner.
"That stupid plane crash ruined all of my best clothes!" Kento was grumbling.
"I didn't see anything particularly great about any of the clothing you packed," Cye chuckled.
"Ah shut up! Anything you wear that you like is your best clothing!" Kento announced, marching boldly in front of Ryo and Cye. "And it's not like you're Mr. Fashionable Cye!"
"I never said I was," Cye said. "Do you actually know where we're going Kento?"
"But of course! China Town, New York, my uncle's restaurant, food... I can find it."
"Now that I can believe," Ryo snorted, as he and Cye trusted Kento to be their guide through the big city.
"He was dead?" Mia questioned, she paled considerably. "Murdered?"
Rowen nodded. He didn't mention the girl who had seen him at the scene of the crime. "The University?"
"It was so weird. We went to the dean of students, the dean of historical arts, the president of the school board... No one's heard of Sage, or anything about a sword. They didn't call anyone in from Japan. Everyone looked quite puzzled by us..." Mia frowned, "It's like he never existed. We've been tricked."
"You think they're lying?" Yulie asked.
"No...no an entire University has no reason to lie about something like that..."
"Something called Sage's grandfather, tricked him, and lured Sage here," Rowen said firmly. "Did you get in contact with any of his family here?"
"His closest relatives are in New Jersey, and they haven't heard a word from him. Didn't even know he was here," Mia sipped the soft drink in front of her.
They were sitting at a large table in Kento's uncle's restaurant. They hadn't eaten yet, because they were still waiting for the others. Kento's large uncle bounded up to the table to introduce himself finally. They had arrived at the restaurant and announced who they were and they had been seated immediately with a promise from one of the waiters that Mr. Chin would be there to greet them shortly.
"Hello," the corpulent man spoke, " I am Mr. Chin, Kento's uncle. And you must be his friends...Mia, Rowen, and little Yulie. It is such a pleasure having you all here to dine in my restaurant. It's nice to meet some of my nephews friends, especially the ones he speaks about so often and so warmly. How are you enjoying your trip here?"
Mia smiled, "Oh...it's been an adventure."
Rowen didn't have the heart to raise his head and meet Mr. Chin's eyes. He was afraid he would see through their happy facade.
"Where are you lodging do you know? I've made provisions for you all to stay here. I have many rooms available for you to bed in."
"Oh no, we're going to book a hotel. We don't want to put you out," Mia said quickly. She didn't like the way he was leering at her. Would he have made the same proposal had it have just been Yulie and Rowen sitting there?
"Oh no, I am a very rich man, I won't be put out at all. You will stay here."
"He's as generous as Kento is with his money," Yulie observed.
"Generous, kind, handsome, debonair, loving..." Kento's loud voice was heard. He stood on the small bridge with Ryo and Cye just behind him. The restaurant was set up to portray a rather impressive garden scene, the bridge was over a small man made stream. Kento looked from Yulie to his uncle to greet him, and glared. "Hey man!" He started towards his uncle, "Mia's like family, ok, so hands and eyes to yourself."
Mia was grateful for Kento's intervention, the man had his clammy hand on her shoulder and was massaging it, "Kento...don't be so rude to your uncle..."
Kento's eyes met hers, and he acknowledged the silent thank you with a curt nod, "Sorry Uncle Chin. I just don't like people messing with her, is all. I really appreciate you letting us come here, and have dinner... so...what's to eat?"
No one was really able to eat much, but Kento and Yulie that night. Everyone else's minds were too preoccupied with what was going on. They had discussed the happenings of each others' days, and were stumped at what could be causing it all. It all had to be connected somehow!
Rowen was about to ask Ryo another question about the creature he had seen, when a loud Amazonian cry echoed from the kitchen followed by the retreat of all the kitchen girls. They ran screaming past the table, and the warriors rose to see what the pandemonium was about. A girl came rushing towards them with a sharp dagger in her hands, she leapt onto Rowen with a cry, "MURDERER! You MURDERED my brother!"
Rowen gasped at first, recognizing her as the girl he'd been chasing earlier, then he recovered and tackled her throwing her off him. She was relentless in her attack, and she kept jumping, whirling, and thrusting her knife, trying to drive it into his flesh. Ryo jumped into the fight, being a more experienced knife fighter, and was quick to disarm her with a karate chop. The knife fell to the floor, and the girl gave another enraged shout, "Which one of you DID it? I know one of you killed him! Murderers, all of you!" She fled from the room, her long brown ponytail streaming behind her.
"What the hell was that?" Ryo uttered, catching an angry Kento as he tried to rush passed him. "Did you hear what she freaking said man? She called us murderers! Us!"
"Kento calm down... Think about it? Why would she say that? She's obviously seen and knows something about the Halo armor!"
"But she called us murderers man! As many people as we saved... it burns me up! Somebody's gotta catch and set her straight.." he struggled against Ryo.
"Kento let it be," Cye approached them. "She's upset, you heard what she said... She lost her brother. You'll just scare her if you chase after her like that. Let it be."
"Let it be..." Kento repeated with a sigh, "Fine...fine... but she's ruined what's left of my meal. I've actually lost my appetite."
"And Atlas shrugged," Rowen murmured.
After helping clean up the mess caused by the hostile girl, Mr. Chin called a car that was to take them to his penthouse. There they roomed two to a room, Ryo sharing with Cye, Rowen sharing with Kento, and Mia and Yulie together. The rooms were modest and Ryo didn't feel too uncomfortable sleeping in it. He turned his head to meet Cye's loud suspiration, "You ok?"
Cye shrugged his shoulders, not answering for a while, "I don't know Ryo... This is all just too much to take in. Sage is gone, just vanished...I can't feel him at all in our web. And..."
Ryo nodded, of all the warriors Sage and Cye were the ones most sensitive to disturbances in their web. They were touched as some would say, gifted with a sixth sense. Cye always bragged about how much stronger Sage was when it came to mental capabilities than him, but he was not one to look over himself. For him not to sense anything from Sage had to be devastating, more so than the others.
"Whoever has him, has him hidden well," Ryo said finally. "But, we'll find him, and bring him home."
"But Ryo...that girl said, well she said the armor killed her brother... and it's killed so many people. What if...what if Sage was taken over by something, something dark. Like the Dynasty, they could do that. He'd be like a Dark Warlord. Then we wouldn't feel him either in our web right?"
Ryo heard the shake in Cye's voice, he wanted comfort, and Ryo felt sorry about not being able to give it to him. He was their leader, but he could do nothing to ease their worry. If anything, his worry intensified. What if they couldn't save Sage, what if what Cye said was true...what if he was dead? Would Ryo have failed him?
"I'm tired Cye," Ryo whispered. He pulled back the blankets on his bed and slid under them. "I... I'm sorry. I don't really feel like talking now. I just want to get some sleep. Tomorrow we have to start this all over again. We need rest for now. Go to sleep."
"But..." Cye paused before taking a breath, "Ok... good night Ryo."
"Good night Cye."
He was in a forest, he could sense it, a black forest with tall trees looming above him, and he was running away from something. He panted heavily and nearly stumbled as his feet left solid ground and splashed into a shallow pond. A voice, what was that voice. It asked him questions, it beckoned him for help. His feet met hard wooden floors, and he heard a door slamming closed behind him. The breeze from the door closing ruffled his hair.
The cloth bound around his eyes was removed, and it fell away brushing against his nose as it fell to the floor. His grey eyes opened to take in his surroundings. He was in a dojo surrounded by demons and he felt his sword in his hand. Demons slid back the thin walls and were peering at him from the walls, from the ceiling. Disembodied mouths laughed and jeered, flying at him, monster serpents and hideous creatures wound their way towards him, and he struck out, slashing with his sword.
Suddenly he was in full armor, Halo had come to him and he stood amongst the Sakura blossoms poised for battle. His chest heaved as he waited for more demons to appear and attack. A door opened in front of him, more mouths speaking to him, taunting him, speaking in the voice, asking his questions.
In a large laboratory a young blond hung with his limbs chained to a metal star. Large headphones covered his ears sending him hypnotic suggestions. IV's ran to and from his body taking away bodily wastes, feeding him, hydrating him, and sedating him heavily. An old man sat at a counsel not too far away from the boy watching his reaction in interest, he spoke into the microphone telling the boy things, asking him questions.
The boy had been hard to subdue, he had very high will power, and proved to be quite troublesome. He had fought them until the end, taking endless beatings, letting himself be starved and deprived of water and light. He wouldn't fight for them, or tell them how to use it... The secrets of the armor stayed locked inside his stubborn shell, he had to be drugged. That was the last resort, subjects were always wanted conscious and fully aware of their surroundings. When a subject was drugged their perception was altered. The man watched the boy, enjoying his groans of pain and terror, wondering where his mind had taken him. He wasn't sure where the battle ground was, but he was sure the boy was doing battle in his mind. Whenever he was sure he was in battle, and his adrenaline levels went up, the armor that sat in front of the man reacted. He smiled cruelly and whispered something to the boy, grinning deliciously as it seemed to bring the boy great pain to hear it.
He was in a cave, some place dark in shallow cloudy water. Waist high rock structures surrounded him, he pivoted around, something was here ready to attack, but where? An endless nightmare... he was trapped in an endless nightmare! HELP!! He'd do anything just make them stop coming! Shadows...they were here, and they were coming to get him. He braced himself, trying to control his shivers of fear and exhaustion, gods he was tired. He wanted to collapse, but if he did they would get him, he couldn't let them get him! They would violate him! What would Grandfather think? What would he think? Fight them! Fight them! The shadows had faces....his face, his face over and over. He was fighting himself, they charged at him attacking him at all angles, and suddenly he was a giant. He towered over the versions of himself that sprang on him furious, striking biting, and attacking any open area on his body. He held one in the palm of his hand squeezing it until it screamed, but he felt its pain, it was his! He screamed ad screamed. Wake up! Please wake up!
"SAGE!!" Ryo cried out as he shot straight up in bed. He clutched his sheets panting and gasping, eyes roaming the room wildly searching for demons and shadows. He heard Cye's voice from the bed beside him, "Hey Ryo, what's the matter? What happened?"
"Gods....gods..." Ryo was running his hands through his wild black hair, "I had this...this nightmare..."
"Was it about Sage? You screamed for him when you woke up," Cye was stretching himself, he had needed that night's rest.
Ryo nodded still in a daze, "It was so real... He was so scared Cye... and," he shook his head. "He's alive, and somewhere in the city. I know that much now, Cye, and someone or something is hurting him."
Cye shivered, "Still think we'll find him Ryo?"
Ryo nodded, "Definitely." We have to, he added silently, to himself. No one messed with his friends. The pain and fear, and exhaustion he'd felt coming from Sage was overwhelming, and his screams for help were unbearable. Sage never screamed, but somehow when Ryo heard him, he knew immediately who it was.
"Yo," Kento and Rowen burst into the room suddenly startling Cye and Ryo, "what's up? We heard a scream, and... felt some really weird stuff coming from you Ryo. What happened?"
"He had a nightmare about Sage," Cye filled Kento and Rowen in while Ryo got himself together. "He knows Sage is alive now, and that he's here somewhere."
"OK, so what now?" Kento questioned, "Where do we look?"
"I...I don't know. I just know he's being hurt, and he's very afraid," Ryo drew himself out of bed slowly stretching his body.
"What kind of a lead is that?" Kento asked his brows drawing together.
"It lets us know he's freaking alive Kento, and that he's in the damn city ok! Leave me alone, I don't want to hear your mouth right now! I need a shower," Ryo walked away from the group, leaving the room briskly.
"Well, great going Kento," Cye remarked tartly. "He was really freaked out. Talking to him like that didn't help. He feels bad enough as it is... He... I feel that he thinks that because he's our leader, this is all his fault. Sage being gone, I mean."
"Well maybe it is," Kento said softly, "Maybe it's my fault, maybe it's Rowen's, maybe it's yours... Who cares who's fault it is? All we know is that it freakin' happened, and we're not freakin' doing anything about it! He's the damn leader, so he needs to lead! No more of this pissy, leave me alone shit! We're wasting time! He's wasting our time! He's telling us, oh some creeps are hurting Sage, scaring him... and then leaves here in a PMS huff. I'm sick of him and his stupid temper tantrums, and us, always having to ride them out. Well now we don't have time for it. I don't like this Rowen, I don't like where we are, and not knowing anything! I say we go out and start getting some answers. As many things that have been going on in this town, I know someone else has seen that armor, has seen Sage, and know where the hell they both are! Ryo or not, we're going out now!"
"DAMN YOU KENTO!!" Ryo rushed back into the room. "You never think about anything! You're always so quick to point your big fat fingers in other people's faces, before you actually put that pea-sized brain of yours to use, and start thinking! If you thought about anything, you wouldn't say half the things you do, and you wouldn't have said any of that bull shit speech you just made!"
"It's not bull shit! What you're doing right now Ryo, is bull shit! We shouldn't have let that girl run away from us last night! You said it yourself she knew something! Who cares if she would be scared.... Maybe if you had let us question her, we'd have Sage with us right now on our way home, instead of waking up to your ass screaming and telling us someone's freakin' torturing him!" Kento and Ryo stood nose to nose, both red in the face.
"Guys chill, come on," Rowen was trying to get in between them.
"All this shouting is not helping anything ok?" Cye was edging his way into the fight as well to end it.
"And neither is he!" both Ryo and Kento yelled in unison.
"Hey, excuse me boys, but if you haven't noticed we are not at home, so you are not allowed to yell as loud as you would like," Mia poked her head into the room. She had been interrupted in her morning rituals by their roaring at one another.
"Kento started it," Ryo said bitterly.
"Ryo's a shit," Kento retorted.
Mia blinked at the two of them, "I don't know what's wrong with either of you, but we have some serious work to do here, and being hot headed with one another is not going to help anything we're trying to do. I suggest you two separate yourselves from each other, one of you go out, both of you go out, just not together. Either way I don't care, I just don't want to hear anymore screaming!" She slammed the door.
"Now see what you did!" both Ryo and Kento accused each other simultaneously, causing Cye and Rowen to groan and fall back on Cye's bed.
"Ryo is getting on my last nerve!" Kento was fuming as he bit into his third large hamburger. He sat beside Rowen spewing all of his negative emotions as he drowned himself in food.
"Careful not to get too upset while eating Kento, old pal, stress will turn what you're eating into fat."
"I don't care about fat!" Kento raged, "Stop with the funny stuff! I don't need jokes! Ryo and Cye let that girl get away with trashing my uncle's restaurant last night. The girl knows something about the armor, if we'd caught up to her, maybe we would have found Sage. Maybe we wouldn't be worrying right now... Maybe we wouldn't have to be thinking about that armor going out and killing more people! If the armor does evil, it looks bad on all of us, and we have to stop it! It seems like nobody wants to take action here but me!" He pounded the bar with his fist, and bellowed, "Hey waitress, gimme another jumbo burger here!"
Rowen rolled his eyes, then his attention was caught by the commotion going on outside. He went to the window to peer out. People in the street were running, their faces clearly etched in fear. "Rowen? What are you looking at?"
"Kento...you wanted action, I think we're about to get some. Something's going on out there! Let's go!"
Kento cracked his knuckles, "Now you're talking." He laid down a few bills and jogged out after Rowen.
They stepped out onto the street which now had large cracks running down it as if a tremendous earthquake had struck the city. Green mists enveloped the area, and flashes of lightning rained from the sky in torrents. "Look, it's the armor...Sage...!" Rowen pointed.
The armor of light marched down the street further engaging in its reign of terror. "Armor up, we have to fight him, it, whatever!"
"Armor of Hardrock!"
"Armor of Strata!"
The changes were quick. Soon three samurai stood in the middle of times square. "Sage, I don't know what's gotten into you buddy, but we're gonna have to fight you if you don't stop!" Kento said in a bold voice. The warrior took a step forward, and Rowen and Kento gasped... Sage wasn't in there... The armor was empty, it walked on its own. It had come to life. They shook their heads quickly, and prepared to battle it. They actually felt better about fighting it, knowing that their friend was not inside.
The armor fought them with the skill Sage possessed and then some. It had incredible strength, and they were no match for it alone they found. They had to use their attacks... but there were too many spectators in the way trying to view the battle, and cheering them on.
"I can't use my attack... There are too many people in the way. I could hurt them!" Kento yelled to Rowen.
"Well I can't use mine either!"
At some point or another a news crew had arrived and began filming the live battle scene. Ryo and Cye watched in horror as they saw their two friends doing battle with Halo.
"They are too many people in the way, they can't fight it," Cye said. "Ryo, they need our help."
"Come on..." in a blink of an eye Cye and Ryo had donned their sub armors and were running at the speed of sound to get to their friends.
"Argh!" Kento barely caught the blade of the sword of Halo in his staff. He used brute force to try and send the no-datchi flying from the hand of its wielder. It was no use, the demon possessed armor was much too strong.
Rowen fended off blow after blow with the broadside of his bow, but was unable to attack the monster directly. They needed a plan. He was going to call to Kento that they needed to regroup when the noise of helicopters descending from the sky caught his attention. Both Kento and Rowen gazed up to the darkening heavens to see the NYPD helicopters dipping lower to the scene and opening fire. "Aw shit! We're the good guys!" Kento cried to them, knowing they couldn't hear him. They skirted around bullets, some striking and rebounding off their armors. Maybe the bullets would slow Halo down, Rowen tossed his head back to see the armor, and gasped, "What the hell is it doing? Oh SHIT!"
Halo was poised in the stance familiar to them as the one Sage took when about to use his attack. The armor pointed the long sword straight up into the air, calling on the forces of lightning, and the clouds parted, shooting a bolt of lightning directly into the blade of the sword, Halo blazed like a super nova unleashing a tidal wave of ultra violet light and deadly voltages of electricity. Rowen and Kento were thrown to the scorched pavement, buildings collapsed, the helicopters came crashing down to the earth...and the screams of the dying innocents were unendurable.
Ryo and Cye reached the fight a minute too late. They arrived to see their comrades lying in steaming heaps on the ground, the bodies of hundreds lining the walkways, and the wreckage from helicopters and buildings sprinkling the streets. Halo stood unharmed, ready to do battle again. Kento was the one they reached first, "Kento!"
Kento gave a moan in response, he forced himself to his knees painfully. He was the warrior of strength and could endure a bit more than the others, "Check on Rowen, I think he's hurt... I'll be ok..."
"Oh Kento...did Sage...?"
"That thing's empty, no Sage in there...."
"Ryo we better armor up," Cye said shakily, he gazed at Rowen who was further away, and did not move. Any attempt to get to him would be thwarted by the evil armor.
"Good call," Ryo almost snapped before calling upon his armor, "Armor of Wildfire!"
"Armor of Torrent!"
Their changes were quick, feeling more empowered they stared the green armor of Halo down, eyes dark with determination. Ryo went on the attack first, he distracted the armor with his quick attacks, then was able to side step it to get to Rowen, "Rowen?"
"You guys are late..." Rowen moaned from the ground, trying to give Ryo a smile and failing.
"You know us, always got to make an entrance..." Ryo gave him a smile before jumping back into the battle to help Cye who was fighting Halo alone. He was being out-skilled, and was grateful when Ryo's swords connected with the sword of Halo taking the pressure off of him. Ryo fought with the expertise of a professionally trained swordsman, though remarkably he had taught himself. He hollered insults at the demon armor as he fought, hoping to call out whatever spirit was possessing his friend's armor. As they locked swords, and Ryo's face came closer to view the hollow insides of the helmet, a low sinister laugh escaped from it. Ryo stepped back almost dropping his sword as a strange vapor poured from the helmet, the neck, the arms, the legs... the ghostly phantasm collected itself in a large cloud high above the battle scene, still roaring with that spine chilling laughter. The cloud began to take form, a figure was composing itself inside. A misshapen demon spirit now loomed over them, his head much too large for his body, his features grossly distorted across his face. Thick white eyebrows covered the hollows of his eyes, he laughed to reveal teeth like fangs. His skin was a sickly pea green, and veins lined his face and hands. "Now I have seen for myself all five of the mythical armors... They do exist... Your friend is with me, he is in Shikaisen's hands."
"What the hell did you say? You have Sage?" Ryo was demanding, but the sounds of more helicopters approaching drove his attention away from the demon and into the skies behind them. Rowen and Kento were down, if the helicopters fired again, they wouldn't be able to get out of the line of fire. His duty as the leader prompted him to save the lives of two of his warriors, whether than wagering both of their lives in finding out about the fate of one. He backed toward Rowen, as he saw Cye was already at Kento's side helping him up. "We gotta get out of here!"
"I'm taking good care of you friend. Do not worry about him. We will meet again, soon."
"Wait!" Ryo called after the phantasm in vain, but it was already receding, and the police were coming. "Split up!"
He lost track of Cye and Kento early on, as he ran with Rowen on his back. He slipped into an alley, and lie in wait for the police to pass. This was not a good hiding place, anyone could find them there. "Rowen? You doing ok buddy?"
"Mmm... fine and dandy Leader man..." Rowen grunted. He leaned on Ryo heavily as they leaned on the red brick wall of an apartment complex. "We can't stay here."
"Stating the obvious..."
"Shut up smart ass, where do you suggest we go?" Ryo poked at Rowen, who simply hung on him limply.
"I don't know man... Where do you suppose Kento and Cye ended up?"
Ryo was quiet, "I don't know."
They stood in silence listening to the scuffing of boots, and the whirs of walkie talkies. "Did you hear what that thing said about Sage? You really think he's ok?"
"No! You saw that thing! You saw what it's doing, what it did! And that dream..." Ryo was shaking his head. It was killing Sage, slowly but surely. It was somehow using him to make the armor function, he was simply keeping Sage alive for mandatory purposes, but Ryo certain there was no pleasure in the occupation for Sage.
"How do we help him, Ryo? We know what has him now, but we still have no way of finding him."
"We'll figure out a way, Ro. We always do," Ryo said quietly. Rowen was letting his pain and fatigue talk for him. He was never so hopeless sounding. "I need to find some place to take you, so you can get help."
"I'll be..." they were interrupted by the sounds of footsteps, by the crunching of the gravel beneath the shoes, they were sneakers, and they were coming closer to their location.
"Shit..." Ryo took a breath, he didn't want to fight the local law enforcement and make a public enemy of himself, but if he had to he would. He had friends to protect. He raised his eyes to meet those of a girl...the girl! The one that had attacked them and accused them of murder!
"What are you doing here?" he stared at her incredulously. "Rowen, it's her." Rowen barely opened his sleepy eyes to acknowledge the female in front of them.
The girl studied them both, sizing them up before sighing, "Come with me. I know a safe place where you can hide."
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