Disclaimer: We do not own the rights to mutilate, edit, and delete scenes of Escaflowne. That special, and unfortunately abused, privilege belongs to the renown Fox Broadcasting Corporation. However, we would like to thank Kawamori Shoji, the good people at Sunrise, and the somewhat iffy people of Bandai Entertainment for their excellent work. You may now continue your fanfic, already in progress.

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Fateful Confession: The Remix

A fanfiction written by Kari and KyonKyon

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The teenager known as Kanzaki Hitomi groaned as she awoke. Shaking her head (and wincing slightly at the pain it caused to reverberate throughout her body), she tried to take in her surroundings. The sight was familiar: school uniform neatly hung up, tarot cards lying in a mess on her desk from a late night reading, duffel bag lying at the foot of her bed. It was her own room, all right.

Groaning again, she sat up and swung her legs over the edge of her bed. Everything seemed normal enough, but something was nagging at the back of her mind. She strained to remember. Something about . . . a boy? And her pendant, for some strange reason. And a world called Gaea, and an enormous war, and . . .

Hitomi collapsed back on her bed as all her memories came flooding back to her. They couldn't be real . . . could they? "Was it all just a dream?" she wondered out loud. Noticing a bottle in her room, she added, "Or the effect of a really bad hangover?" She clapped a hand to her forehead. "I can't remem—" She froze suddenly as she felt something paperlike press against her face. Slowly, almost disbelievingly, she opened her hand and looked at what it contained.

Her faced paled. "Stock . . . in Fox Broadcasting?!? But . . . No, oh man, it did really happen . . ." The slip of paper fell from her hand, but the Japanese teenager failed to notice this as she collapsed on the floor of her bedroom, crying hysterically.

***************

"Geez, where is that girl?" Yukari muttered angrily. She sighed. Some days she truly wondered why she was friends with Hitomi and this was one of them. Couldn't Hitomi ever show up on time for practice?

~*~

A girl wearing warm-up clothes and a very determined expression raced through the student population of her school. Breathing slightly heavily, she carried a pair of track shoes in her hands and was pumping them up and down in time with her feet as she ran.

"Hitomi, hasn't 'practice' started already?" One of her fellow classmates called out.

"I know! I know!" she shot back without missing a step. Hitomi picked up her pace as she sailed down a short set of stairs, then ran full speed to practice, skidding to a stop right in front of Yukari.

She didn't look too happy. "Darn it, Hitomi! You're late! Late big time. When a member of our anime cult – I mean club – shows up late for practice, it's your sponsor – me – that gets yelled at. If you aren't more careful, we'll both get thrown out. You don't want to see me if we do. Got it?"

Hitomi gave her a good-natured salute. "Sorry, Sponsor Yukari. I got hung up writing my term paper." Seeing her friend's mouth opening to condemn her lack of dedication to her duty of promoting anime, she quickly hurried on to her next question. "So did I miss the contest?"

Yukari groaned. She knew where this was headed. "Aw, for crying out loud . . . The next contestant's the last and he just happens to be your object de drool," she said teasingly, rewarded for her efforts by the rich crimson that spread across her friend's face.

Hitomi watched and the crowd hushed as a young, tall, and rather handsome young man with shoulder-length green hair stepped up to the podium. "Amano-senpai," Hitomi whispered adoringly.

"Ready?" the anime cult president asked solemnly.

The young man known as Amano nodded. Yukari waited tensely for the question.

"Name all the episodes of Ranma Nibun no Ichi, seasons one and two, in order," the president commanded, Yukari starting her stopwatch simultaneously.

The crowd gasped as Amano effortlessly rattled off all forty episodes without any apparent conscious thought. Hitomi giggled. This was what she liked best about Amano-senpai! "And 'Bathouse Battle! We're in Some Hot Water Now,'" he finished.

There was the soft click of a stopwatch. Yukari looked down at it in amazement. "Ten point six four seconds," she breathed. Her eyes grew wide with excitement. "Hitomi, he's awesome! Awesome! Amano beat eleven seconds! Incredible!" She danced about with joy as the crowd cheered.

"We have a winner!" the president shouted above the uproar. "Will you all now please gather in the auditorium so we may watch the movie of Champion Amano's choice!" More cheers followed this request.

Hitomi and Yukari scrambled to get front row seats for the movie. They barely had time to wonder what Amano's choice would be before he marched on to the stage and took the offered microphone.

"I thank you all for coming to witness my glorious triumph. Now, to celebrate, let us further enrich our knowledge of the Western Hemisphere by watching an anime they have dubbed and presented on television over there. One particular network has been so kind as to provide us a few tapes from their surplus production free of charge. May we have a round of applause for the Fox Broadcasting company?" The cheers rang throughout the auditorium. "Thank you, and, with that, let us begin!"

Clapping and whistling, Hitomi sat back down in her seat, ready to enjoy the anime. Joining this cult was one of the best things I've ever done, she sighed. As the series began to play on the screen, she began to feel excited. She recognized this show. It had been one of her favorites ever when it aired a couple years back. Despite the overused theme of "magical girl gets transported to strange world", it was thoroughly enjoyable. She leaned forward in anticipation of the fight scene she knew was coming up.

The last thing she remembered before she abruptly lost consciousness was a flash of bright, white light.

***************

What's going on? she wondered. Where was she? There was something warm . . . "It's hot . . . The wind's hot . . ." she whispered.

"Um . . . that's just my breath," a voice muttered uneasily.

Hitomi's eyes flew open. They latched almost instantly on a very nervous Junin. "Mr. Mole! What are you doing here?" she demanded angrily. "You're not supposed to appear for another two episo— I mean days!"

He winced. "I was just covering for those guys."

"Huh?" was barely out of her mouth when Mr. Mole was whisked away and replaced by the sight of two men – one only a teenager, really – drinking coffee and snacking on some donuts. They seemed quite startled to see her.

"You're here already?" The older one stammered, dropping his donut. "Darn! I mean, uh, are you ready, Prince Van?"

"Hurry up!" the prince said urgently. "We've only got twenty-three and a half minutes for this episode! Skip to the next line!"

"Oh, right! Um, I'm sure you'll be able to slay the dragon, Prince Van. Keep your brother's disgrace far from your mind."

"Then why did you just bring it up?" he inquired blandly.

"Uh . . ."

"You just couldn't resist it could you? Had to rub it in just one more time before I went and got killed, right?"

"Of c-course not, Prince Van."

"Well, let me tell you something, Balgus—"

Suddenly, the scene right before Hitomi's eyes began to waver. The two men seemed to notice this as well.

"Oh, no! They're already flashing to another scene!" the older man shouted, as he faded into the darkness.

"Lousy network executives . . ." cursed the boy as he too faded away.

~*~

Hitomi was now watching two large mecha attempt to destroy each other with ridiculously oversized swords. They took me away from their fight for this? she wondered angrily. Actually, it wasn't bad as far as entertainment went, but that fight between "Balgus" and "Prince Van" had looked far more interesting. Nevertheless, she still watched as the white mecha defeated his opponent – How original, she thought. Good-guy white wins – and posed dramatically in the setting sun.

"I definitely think I'm missing something here," she muttered under her breath as the scene once again faded away and was replaced by a different one.

She was now in front of a tower that seemed to be being split in two by arcane blue fire. It was a mesmerizing display. So mesmerizing, in fact, that she almost didn't notice the ground crumbling into pieces beneath her feet. Unfortunately, by the time she could wrench her eyes away from the sight, she was already falling, falling, falling into a blackness of indeterminate depth. Screaming, Hitomi stretched out her hand, willing for something, anything to save her.

A bright bubble of white light burst suddenly into the form of an angel several feet above her. It swooped down, serenely beating its wings once, and grasped her outstretched hand. Hitomi sighed in relief, looking thankfully up at the apparition. Its face was shadowed, and she could only barely make out the line of a smile. But something about his face . . . She frowned abruptly, as a thought crossed her mind.

"Um, mysteriously familiar guy, may I ask you a question?" she shouted.

"You already did," he replied flatly. "What's stopping you now?"

She didn't bother listening to his reply. "Um, why are you molting?"

The last thing she saw before the scene faded away was the incredulous look on the boy's face.

***************

Someone was watching her. Someone with shoulder-length green hair, deep, beautiful brown eyes and . . . no, it couldn't be . . .

"Senpai?" Hitomi whispered. The stranger leaned forward. She sat up abruptly. "Amano-senpai? Where . . .?"

"You should stay in bed. That was a pretty serious reaction you had to all the flashing lights." Amano's handsome countenance darkened. "I can't believe Western broadcasters would use seizure-inducing lights just to cut out all the blood so they could market the show to a broader audience. It's simply a disgrace to our culture! Maybe we should write a formal letter of complaint to them and all the major translators for mutilating and completely destroying our favorite series and launch a boycott of their products and—" He paused to take a breath, then smiled down at her. "But, anyway, I'm glad you weren't hurt."

"Um, thanks," said Hitomi dizzily. She had almost followed all of that . . .

"I saw you at our last contest. Your form is pretty much perfect, Kanzaki. You've been practicing your heart out since junior high to do it."

She shook her head sadly. "No, I haven't even broken thirteen seconds yet. I wish I could recite episodes as fast as you do, Amano."

He smiled slightly. "I think its all in the way you watch the series."

"Huh?"

"You've got to play them backwards and remember all of the subliminal messages." *Yenom ruoy lla su dnes.*

"Subliminal messages?" *Esaelp, mrof llib ni.*

"Yeah. Hey, that's a nice pendant."

Hitomi glanced down. "Oh, this?" She took it off and looked at it in her hand. "It's a good luck charm I got from my grandmother, Kikyou. She said something about it being the 'shikon no tama' and the 'key to another world', but she went off in the deep end a long time ago. Still, it keeps really good time!"

"Can I try it?" he asked eagerly.

She silently handed it over to him. He turned and faced the clock hanging on the wall. Carefully timing the moment, he swung. And watched in utter disbelief. "Um, Kanzaki, this thing has absolutely no consistent pattern."

"Just not ours," she muttered. "Uggh – where's Yukari when you need her? Oh, right! SEVENTE—"

"Hitomi, I brought your duffel!" commented Yukari, appearing suddenly at the doorway. "Ah!"

Amano fell to his knees. "I knew this scene was pointless," he mumbled under his breath.

***************

"Yukari! Come on, Yukari!" Hitomi pleaded as she walked home alongside her best friend. "Say something, Yukari."

"I think I can let this slide for a DVD copy of the second Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon movie," Yukari remarked calmly.

"What?"

"And the first season of Fushigi Yugi and Maison Ikkoku on DVD. Oh, and two movie passes. That should do it." She turned around and gave Hitomi a wink.

She saw what Yukari was getting at. "I didn't have a seizure on purpose, you know. It must be all that fainting on cue the drama club has me do."

"Oh, really?" said Yukari teasingly. "I bet you're just wondering if something would have happened if I hadn't shown up."

Hitomi had a sudden disturbing vision of Amano discussing what fine weather they were having today. "Yeah," she muttered. "Something."

~*~

"Hitomi?" asked Yukari some time later as they walked through a tunnel.

"Yes?" replied Hitomi uncertainly. What was that tone in Yukari's voice?

"Have you ever done a reading for you and Amano?"

"No."

"Why not?"

"Well, what if it said it wouldn't work out?" Why was Yukari . . .

"Oh." She paused. Then, very hesitantly, said, "But if you really like him . . ."

"What's wrong, Yukari?" Hitomi asked worriedly. Why was she getting this sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach?

Yukari turned and faced her. "Look, Hitomi . . . I heard some of the upperclassmen talking. They were saying that . . . that Amano might be leaving our anime cult! They said he might not even be coming to the next anime convention! And with our cult's laws . . . so . . . so . . ." Yukari embraced her friend comfortingly. "Look, I know how you feel about him, Hitomi. You should tell him. You'll regret if you don't before our cult forbids us to communicate with him. I know you'll regret it . . ."

Hitomi said nothing, but her eyes shone with tears and a certain desperation.

***************

"Hitomi? Hitomi, your bath is ready! Hitomi?"

In a casual outfit that displayed nothing of her inner chaos, Hitomi sat in front of her desk, oblivious to everything but the cards which lay before her.

"The Tower," she murmured. Thinking for a moment, she continued, "The Card of Falling. Oh, no . . ." She bowed her head sorrowfully. "Amano's going to drop out of our club . . . I won't be able to communicate with him any more . . ." Eyes brimming with tears, she raised her head once more, gazing upon the next card.

"The Ace of Serpents . . ." she said in a mixture of surprise and wonder. "The Card of Abnormal Creatures Appearing?" Her face darkened. "What the heck?"

She leaped to her feet angrily. "What is up with this?" she shouted. "So far today, I've had nothing but horrible timing, horrible acting, lousy writing . . . When are they going to get the point?!?"

Unfortunately, her wall seemed quite unwilling to divulge any information. Sighing, Hitomi pulled out her DVD box sets of Ranma Nibun no Ichi, and, popping one into her DVD player, began to watch.

***************

"I'm sorry I won't be able to act like a loser with no social life— I mean go to the next anime convention with you guys, but I'm sure you'll be able to find someone else to cosplay as Kiryuu Touga in time," apologized Amano, bowing politely.

"Oh, don't worry about that!" said one of the boys, who happened to be dressed much like Kaoru Miki at the moment, complete with blue hair.

"Yeah," echoed another decked out in full kendo garb. "We already found this guy named Allen to fill your part as Touga. He looks an awful lot like you, but he won't cooperate with us for some reason. Just keeps yelling for someone named Gaddes to 'prep the Crusade.'"

"I . . . see." Amano walked off dizzily, under the distinct impression that life was, once again, having fun playing tricks on him.

~*~

Amano, watched the sunset from his position on the track, smiling sadly. He knew he'd been right to leave that bin of loons. Still, they had been quite amusing for the past couple of years. Their almost organized insanity had added quite a bit of color to his routine. But . . . oh, well. He had been banished from the moment he had told the president of his decision. There was absolutely no way he could return now. Taking one final look at the setting sun, he turned to leave.

"Amano-senpai!"

He stopped and glanced over his shoulder. Hitomi was running toward him urgently. Skidding to a halt in her characteristic way right before him, she stood there for a moment, panting and breathless, before she straightened herself.

"Senpai . . . I . . . I'd like to ask a favor of you," she said solemnly. She raised her pendant. "If I . . . If I can recite the episodes of Ranma Nibun no Ichi, seasons one and two, in the time it takes to swing this pendant thirteen times . . . If I can break the thirteen second barrier . . ." She blushed an almost drunken shade of crimson.

Amano made an encouraging questionlike sound.

Hitomi bowed very deeply. "I'd like you to give me my very first kiss!"

Silence reigned for several long moments as Amano looked contemplatively at the pendant, thoughts swirling though his head. They seemed to reach a conclusion, however, as he smiled slightly and took the pendant. Hitomi gasped and glanced up.

"Don't regret saying that," he said gently.

Flushed and on the verge of tears, Hitomi bowed deeply again. "Arigatou gozaimasu!"

~*~

Hitomi stumbled out of the stadium. Her eyes latched on Yukari immediately. Toppling into her friend's arms, she cried, "I did it, Yukari! I did it!"

"Did what?" inquired Yukari, heaving her friend to her feet.

"I talked to Amano like you suggested, and he agreed, and he'll test me in just a little bit!" she bubbled, giggling madly.

"You talked to . . ." Yukari frowned suddenly. "Hitomi, how late did you get to sleep last night?"

"Sleep? I couldn't. I had to watch all the episodes of Ranma to hear the subliminal messages."

"I . . .see." Yukari bit her lip uncertainly, looking off distractedly into the distance.

Hitomi finally noticed something. "What's wrong, Yukari?"

Yukari shook her head as if to rid her mind of some thought. Looking down at Hitomi, she smiled. "N-nothing, Hitomi. You go get ready. I'll be a moment."

Giving her friend a good push in the direction of the girl's locker rooms, Yukari walked off. Looking around quickly to make sure no one was following her, she ducked behind a tree and pulled out her stopwatch. Pushing a button, she muttered into it, "Yo, Van."

A three-dimensional hologram of a handsome young man popped up above the timing device. "That you, Yukari?" he said, his voice sounding as if it came from very far away.

"Yes. Look, Van, things aren't going according to plan."

"What happened?" he asked worriedly.

"Hitomi stayed up all last night trying to find some 'subliminal messages' in this one anime so she was really out of it today."

"Where does the problem begin?"

"She went along with that stupid plan I suggested!"

"Oh, no . . ." Cursing a couple times, the prince asked defeatedly, "So what do we do now?"

"We're going to have to break up her test. She's being given thirteen swings of that pendant of hers, so we'll have you come in on the . . . eighth swing. Just listen for the number. Don't try counting seconds. That pendant never keeps a regular beat so you might be late if you're not careful. Just remember. Your cue is eight. Eight, got it?"

"Yeah, I got it." He frowned. "Hey, Yukari, who are those guys in the bushes with the video cameras?"

Yukari whirled around. Sure enough, there were three men sitting there, ill-concealed, just four feet away. "You're not supposed to tape this!" she screamed, kicking the men in the chest and smashing the two video cameras underneath her feet. She glared at them.

"Oof." Wincing in pain, one of the men struggled to sit up. His arms deciding it was a lost cause, he simply laid on the ground and spoke to the sky. "Sorry, miss, but we were sent to tell you that you need to get in the stadium right now because Hitomi's about to start and we need you to turn on the lights."

"What? Oh, cats!" Yukari turned and ran all out into the stadium. "Hitomi," she muttered, "you're messing this all up."

***************

The sun had disappeared completely when Hitomi, now dressed in a makeshift Furinkan High School uniform, stepped into the first lane of the track. Breathing just a little bit more quickly and her heart racing, she looked up at Amano, who was standing less then five feet away from her.

His face hard with an indefinable emotion, he shouted, "Kanzaki! Are you ready?"

Almost in a stupor, Hitomi barked back, "Yes! Anytime you are!"

At that moment, the stadium lights flashed on. Startled, Hitomi looked over her shoulder at the lamp post to see Yukari standing there with her duffel, waving cheerily. "Yukari . . ." she murmured thankfully, her gratitude too deep for words. Turning around, determination etched on every line of her face, she faced Amano once again.

He stared at her impassively. Now stay focused and remember all of the subliminal messages, he thought gently. "Ready!" he bellowed, lifting the fist which held the pendant.

"Remember," she whispered.

"Go!" he cried, releasing the pendant.

Yukari watched dumbly as Hitomi began to recite in record speed, spitting out episodes as if her life depended on it. She'll make it, she thought numbly, having great difficulty in accepting the fact. She's going to make it. And if she does finish . . . Oh, please get here in time, Van! I don't want this to turn into a dumb shoujo anime!

Amano counted distractedly, almost to himself. "Seven. Eight. Huh?"

Blue-white light suddenly streamed through the stadium, illuminating it far better than the stadium's lights had. It quickly formed a central pillar a couple feet in front of Hitomi. As they all watched, transfixed, in the space of a second a boy floated down through the light and landed lightly on his feet. In stasis for a moment, his eyes snapped open abruptly. They shifted from side to side as he talked to himself in an irritated, but slightly worried, tone, "Where's that dumb chick I'm supposed to run into?"

He backed up several feet rapidly, inadvertently running into Hitomi and knocking her down. "Ompf!" Whirling around, he noticed her lying on the ground and relaxed. "Oh, there you are," he muttered quietly. "Okay, got to do this right. Got to do this right." Raising his voice substantially, he snarled, "Who the heck are you?"

More than a little dazed, Hitomi replied intelligently, "Huh?"

He looked around for the first time, eyes darting suspiciously. "Where am I?"

"Kanzaki!"

"Hitomi!"

Shouting, Amano and Yukari raced over to their fallen friend. Kneeling down next to her, Yukari asked urgently, "Are you okay, Hitomi?" She continued to stare blankly ahead. "Hitomi?"

"That guy . . ."

Yukari started.

"That's the guy the subliminal messages were talking about . . ." Hitomi said dizzily.

Frowning, Amano turned to the boy. "Hey! Who the—"

The boy rounded on them suddenly and shouted, "Stupid plot-fillers, be gone!"

Amano backed up. Hitomi, however, finally stood and protested, "No, we're not plot-fillers!" Pausing for a moment, she continued, "Most of us, anyway."

"Hitomi?" asked Yukari bewilderedly, but Hitomi simply plowed ahead.

"Anyway, who the heck are you?"

"Van of Fanelia. Where am I?" He jerked suddenly.

"What?" asked Hitomi eagerly.

"Hitomi? You can understand what he's saying?" Yukari asked urgently.

"Huh?" Hitomi replied, looking at her friend strangely.

"Then he's probably coming too . . ." Van murmured. They all reverted their attention back to the strange boy. He continued, ominously, "Get away from here, girl! An abnormal creature is coming!"

Hitomi gasped. "A serpent?"

He shrugged. "Enh, probably. These lousy authors keep getting less and less creative. Baka-tachi."

"Wait a minute! What—"

"Look at that light!" he shouted, pointing behind them. They all turned around. Phew, close shave, he thought with relief.

Amano, Yukari, and Hitomi backed up as the blue-white light again filled the stadium. "It's happening again . . ." said Amano pointedly, feeling it was safe to state the obvious.

"What? Now what's coming?" Yukari babbled fearfully. She saw Hitomi suddenly jerk and place her hands over her mouth. "Hitomi?"

"I don't feel so good," she said faintly. "The way the authors have twisted the plotline is sickening."

The blue-white light slowly concentrated on one area. This time, however, the pillar it created gradually expanded into a sort of magical gateway. Two yellow eyes, which glowed like burning coals, slowly rose within it. With a ground-shaking thump, the creature the eyes belonged to extended its legs and walked through the portal. It surveyed them coldly for a moment. Dimly, Hitomi heard Amano ask "What the heck is that?" and heard Yukari call her name, but she couldn't bring herself to respond. She couldn't wrench her eyes from the sight of the monstrous creature, nearly as tall as the stadium they stood in, that she somehow instinctively knew was a dragon. She stood there, immobile, until Van's shout suddenly broke her trance.

"Over here!" The dragon turned its attention on Van. "You were fighting me, remember? What's the matter? You're hungry, aren't you? Come on and eat me!"

The dragon looked contemptuously at him for a moment, then the shiny sections of his chest began to glow.

Van pulled out a bamboo umbrella in preparation and ducked behind it as the dragon suddenly spouted long tongues of flame in his direction. Tossing it aside after the blast ended – Hitomi thought she heard him say something like "Thanks, Ryouga-kun" – he pulled out a bamboo bokken, aimed it, and threw like a javelin. It went straight through the dragon's eye, causing teal blood to spurt out and blinding the creature completely to anything to the left of it. The dragon collapsed on its side.

Van smirked. "I guess the laws of anime— I mean physics do apply in this world." He stared at the fallen creature. "Is it de—oof!"

Van was literally swept off his feet by a swipe from a giant dragon tail. He rolled several times before he came to dead stop, where he laid quite still. Yukari screamed and hid her face. However, Van managed to push himself up with his arms. He then proceeded to throw up more than a little bit of blood.

I don't care what Balgus says about their benefits in dragon slaying. Those blood packets are disgusting, Van thought fervently. He looked up at the dragon, which had ceased trashing about pointlessly and was now eyeing the group of helpless teenagers. Fear gripped Van. "So it wounds its prey and finishes it off later . . ." He muttered angrily, then raised his voice and shouted at the huddling teenagers. "Get out of here, girl! Hurry! Get out of here!"

Hitomi started, then nodded. "Right! Amano-senpai, let's head for the mountains!" she shouted. Then she ran, dragging Yukari with her. Van meanwhile yelled a battle cry and unleashed an intimidating, but ultimately harmless, blow on the dragon's back.

~*~

"Hurry!" shouted Amano as they dashed out of the stadium. They were running as fast as they could when Yukari suddenly cried out and tripped.

"Yukari!" Hitomi shrieked, turning around. She kneeled quickly next to her friend, who was wincing and rubbing her ankle. Frowning, she asked, "Yukari, why are you wearing three-inch heels and knee pads?"

"No . . . reason," she gasped, in obvious pain. "Here, Hitomi. Take your duffel."

Hitomi's frown deepened as she took it. "As for that matter, why do you have my duffel? I saw it earlier too."

"I thought . . . you'd want to . . . change out of that . . .costume afterwards," Yukari said slowly, with complete honesty.

Hitomi looked down and realized she was still wearing her imitation of the Furinkan High School uniform. "Oh . . . thanks."

"Look, I appreciate all the sentiment," interrupted Amano, "but I think if we don't get moving we're going to become a dragon's dinner." (For once, he was actually right.) "Can you walk?" he asked Yukari.

"I . . . don't think so," Yukari wheezed.

"Grab onto my back," he commanded. Yukari did so, and he carefully stood up before turning to Hitomi. "Let's go."

"Right!"

~*~

The dragon was merely playing with him at the moment, and Van knew it. Still, he had to act as a diversion long enough for the innocent bystanders to get away. They were the dragon's real goal.

"Okay, twenty," Van counted. "Nineteen. Eighteen. Seventeen. Six— hey wait! You're not supposed to go after them for another fifteen seconds. Wait! Ah, shoot." He ran frantically after the beast as it bounded away. "You're not getting away from me!" he cried, latching onto it with an extended metal claw. The dragon didn't notice and he hung on for dear life as it continued to follow the scent of the teenagers.

~*~

Amano and Hitomi finally stopped in front of a shrine a good distance away from the stadium. Both of them panting heavily and Yukari looking quite ill, they paused to catch their breath. "I think we'll be safe up here," said Amano as soon as he could.

Life, however, seemed to have decided that once was more than enough times to be right in a day, and proceeded to prove Amano wrong by having the dragon leap maliciously into their view just moments after he finished speaking. Van came into view seconds later as he fell off the dragon.

"Hey, over here!" he shouted, directing the dragon's attention away from them.

"Kanzaki!" Amano cried, running up some stairs. After a moment's hesitation, Hitomi followed.

Van meanwhile jumped to avoid another fire blast before launching a brutal attack at the creature's head. Unfortunately, the sword simply glanced off the dragon scales and Van was thrown to the side by a simple thrust. He staggered to his feet, glaring at his sword.

"'What's in name?'" he said sardonically. "'That which we call the Sword of Ultimate Power by any other name would be as weak.'" He groaned, shaking his head bitterly. "And to think I thought Balgus was joking . . . I knew I should have kept that bokken." He examined the dragon carefully, which was poised in preparation for his next attack.

Amano, Hitomi, and Yukari watched in amazement as Van began to mutter to himself incoherently. "I wonder if he's going to be okay . . ." said Amano worriedly.

Hitomi had a sudden sharp intake of breath.. She could see it perfectly, as real as if it were happening before her . . . The dragon poised for attack, Van not realizing the danger in time, the tail piercing straight through him and into the ground . . . She gasped. "He's going to die . . ." she said shakily. "He's going to die!"

"Kanzaki?" Amano asked worriedly. She didn't seem to hear him. Instead of responding, she ran straight toward where Van was fighting the dragon, digging frantically in her duffel bag. "Kanzaki!"

The dragon's eyes narrowed as it realized the weakness in the warrior's defense. Taking the opportunity laid before it, it advanced rapidly. Van leaped back in defense.

"Look out! Above you!" As the shout tore through air, Van felt something whistle by his ear. Another thing hit him in the back of the head and knocked him forward . . . just before the dragon's tail lodged itself in the ground where he had been standing.

Ignoring the throbbing pain in his head, Van quickly seized the opening in the dragon's defense, and, launching himself over its back, slashed a long cut along its belly. Screaming in pain, the dragon yanked its tail out and reared back, only to have Van complete his gash down the rest of his body. Spurting unbelievable amounts of teal blood, it collapsed on its side and, as Hitomi and the rest of them watched in shock, it quickly died.

Chest heaving noticeably, Van stood still for several long moments. Then slowly, with great deliberation, he walked over to the dragon and made two neat incisions, one on top of the other. Reaching into the cut, he gently pulled out an oddly shaped red stone. As soon as it was removed, the dragon's body began to disintegrate, first into bones, then into dust, then into nothing. The blood still remained on Van's clothes, however.

"Uggh . . . why isn't it vanishing yet?" he muttered disgustedly. "I've got the energist. Oh right." He shed his dragon armor, and watched as it disintegrated into nothingness. Turning, he thought distractedly, "Okay, now that that is taken care of, how am I supposed to get . . ." He stopped as he saw the contorted expression on Hitomi's face. "Um . . . girl, are you okay?"

She didn't bother to hide the contempt in her voice as she replied scathingly in a cold voice, "I'm not so bad off I need a mysterious stranger to worry for me. After all, you would have died if hadn't thrown Yukari's shoes to warn you and to hit the dragon in its right eye. You owe me for blinding the dragon and saving you."

Van's face contorted furiously. "I owe you no such thing!" he exploded.

Slap! The sound of Hitomi's hand hitting Van's cheek resounded through the clearing. "Without even giving your name properly," she said furiously, speaking very quickly, all her former reserve gone, "you waltz in here, drag a dragon with you, and almost get yourself killed! You really scared me! The least you owe me is a 'thanks' and an apology!"

Van simply stood and blinked in astonishment. When was the last time someone had talked to him like this? Seeing he wasn't about to say anything, Hitomi plowed ruthlessly ahead.

"I knew it!" she screamed, babbling hysterically. "I shouldn't have saved you! I should have let that stupid dragon eat you!" Seemingly out of words, she put her hands over her face and began crying hysterically.

Van's face softened. He seemed on the verge of saying something when the object in his hand began to glow. Pulling it in front of his face quickly, he breathed bewilderedly , "The energist . . . it's . . ."

A circle of blue light slowly began to brighten around Van and Hitomi. Without warning, it burst forth into a pillar that stretched towards the heavens. As Amano and Yukari watched helplessly, Van and Hitomi began floating slowly upward. Snapping back to reality suddenly, Amano ran toward the pillar, hand extended.

"Kanzaki! Kanzaki!"

"Amano-senpai!" Hitomi cried desperately. Cupping her hands around her mouth, she shouted, "Throw the pendant!"

"Wha . . ." Completely startled, Amano stood dumbly with his hand still in the air. Luckily, he chanced to still be holding the pendant in that hand so the mysterious light lifted it up with Hitomi and Van before it dissolved itself into the heavens.

Staring up at an empty sea of stars, Amano made one of his usual stunning observations. "They disappeared . . ."

Hobbling over, Yukari looked up to see no more than Amano could. "Hitomi?" she asked faintly. There was no response. Crumbling, she screamed, "Hitomi!"

***************

An unexplainable beam of light emerged from nowhere, and deposited a boy and a girl in an unknown wilderness prior to dissolving back into the dimension from which it had come. The boy rose quickly, glancing about suspiciously before looking at the night sky with true happiness etched on his face. "I made it . . ." he said softly.

The girl stirred slowly, then sat up abruptly. Gazing at the land around her, she whispered, "What did you . . ." Her gaze fell upon the heavens' celestial bodies. Both the moon and the Earth could be seen, side by side, in the star-filled sky. "The Earth? How come I can see the Earth?" She paused. "We're on your home planet, aren't we?"

"We're near the village of Arzas," he supplied willingly.

"Arzas?" Hitomi gasped. Suddenly, there were creatures with glowing eyes completely surrounding them. She ducked behind Van as he held out his sword threateningly.

***************

The Card of Falling and of Abnormal Creatures Appearing . . . Now she finally understood what they really meant. She could see the Earth and the moon in the sky of this strange world, Gaea. That's the name of this place.

~*~*~*~

Authors' Notes -- Kari: ~*^_^*~ and KyonKyon: /'^_^'\

~*^_^*~ : I think we actually did a pretty good job.

/'^_^'\ : Of what?

~*^_^*~ : Umm . . .messing up the whole plotline and mocking Fox?

/'^_^'\: True, true. But at least they still got to Gaea. Even though it took over four webpages!

~*^_^*~: Hey, you're the one who made the stupid outline so long!

/'^_^'\: Well, you're the one who bought the entire DVD set.

~*^_^*~: You're the one who showed it to me on Fox and got me addicted!

/'^_^'\: Grr . . . You're making too much sense.

~*^_^*~: Muh ha ha ha! I win!

/'^_^'\: "There are other wars to fight." *Rides off into sunset with Dragonslayers*

~*^_^*~: Who's addicted? (Double no-life points if you understand the reference.)

/'^_^'\: So what was this space for, anyway?

~*^_^*~: Umm . . . well, actually, we were supposed to explain some of the Japanese terms or

apologize to the authors or something like that. Oh, and say we're prepared to accept

comments and criticism.

/'^_^'\: Hmm . . . first off, if you don't know the Japanese terms, gomennasai. Secondly, if you

don't get the references, just remember it's the curse of the Mystic Moon.

~*^_^*~: It's Zaibach, you baka!

/'^_^'\: Whatever. And finally, if you think that (since we haven't apologized to the authors)

you should get lawyers to sue us, please take into consideration that this has been posted on

a substandard website. Just how much money do you think we have, anyway?!?

~*^_^*~: Oh, well. Until next time, peace out and power to the people!

/'^_^'\: And remember ~ Knowledge is power. Power corrupts. Study hard. Be evil.