Christmas is over and done with! I love the holidays, Christmas trees and the music, but I hate that it always ends in a horribly stressful attempt at cleaning the whole house from top to bottom and putting together the largest Christmas dinner imaginable- rather takes the fun out of the whole thing if you're running around in circles trying to get everything ready. Anyways, that's over, and I have finally managed to get this one done- so enjoy!!!

"…." Denotes talking

….. denotes thinking

*~* means a change of scenery (either temporal or local, I think which one of those will be clear) has taken place

Disclaimer: I do in no way own any rights, moral or others, to Rurouni Kenshin, its characters or plot. Characters other than the characters from Rurouni Kenshin bearing any resemblance to persons living or dead are purely coincidental. I do not intend to make any profits out of this story, it's written for entertainment purposes only and any attempt by persons natural or legal to make money from it in any way is not in accordance with this author's express wishes.

Chapter 19


It rather felt like the most famous line out of Dante's Inferno. Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter Here- capitalized. Katsura had never in his life seen a place as dispirited as the strange, circular cellar running underneath and beyond Shishio's mansion. He had agreed to splitting up with Hiko, as their continued failure to find their missing agents put a strain on both of them, and he had wanted to prevent harsh words and rather embarrassing scenes. Hiko had stayed on the top floor with a third of the Agency forces while Katsura had agreed to search from the lowest floor up. Being confined within these circular walls would make even the most sane of men insane within the space of a few months- there was no clean angle to catch the eye, no clear and defined beginning and ending. The human mind, with its desire for clarity and solutions, could not exist within such a space without making adaptations- adaptations that proved disastrous both for the mind itself and the body it inhabited.

"How many of these cells shall we look at, Katsura, Sir?" One of his group of agents asked the leader. Katsura tore his gaze from the white walls and the musings on the inside of his brain and refocused them on the young man in front of him.

"Just check those which are locked," he ordered, seeing no use in keeping his men longer than absolutely necessary in this mind-boggling environment.

"Those locked, order confirmed, Sir," the agent saluted and went to relay Katsura's orders. The Agency leader sighed and allowed his shoulders to slump. He didn't think he would find his missing agents in here, there was simply no clue, and Himura was an expert at breaking from confined spaces, having learned from Katsura himself. Hiko was hopeless when it came to opening things which would rather stay locked, another proof that their partnership benefited them both. Katsura remembered the good times of working together with the abrasive genius rather than the bad- they had all been before young Himura had stumbled into their lives, so long ago now, but they had been there. At one time in their lives, the two men had shared almost every thought- or at least Katsura had done so, you could never be quite sure with Hiko.

"All done, Sir, and nothing found except for a pair of unopened manacles." Katsura grimaced. So Himura had had to resort to that particular way of breaking his bonds… most unpleasant, but rather surprising for those who thought their prisoners were securely chained.

"Let's get to the next level, then," he said, sounding hopefully not as empty and worn as he felt. The questioning look of the agent who had talked to him made him doubt that, but he squared his shoulders nonetheless for appearance's sake.

Accompanied by his forces, Katsura went up, musing about the times that had been and the times that were to come- he particularly dreaded the confrontation with Hiko about sending his little protégé into danger that would unvaryingly come up. The young agent was his weapon, his most prized asset, and not only his, but the entire Agency's. Without Himura, they wouldn't be in the position to finally end the Regime's reign of terror once and for all. But to Hiko, the slight, on first sight rather unimpressive young man was like a son, and Katsura really hated the berating his ex-partner gave him every time the young agent came back from a mission half-alive and half-broken- which had been the case after every single mission so far. He, Katsura, on the other hand, never met any excitement anymore when he went out into the field. Somehow, he had the distinct feeling that there would be no adventures for him in this mission as well, and with a wry half-smile on his lips he continued.


"Ah, there you are, finally!" Whatever they had expected to meet behind that door, it certainly was not an exuberant young woman, holding a giant, scythe-like weapon in one hand and the door's handle in the other. She smiled brightly at them, her ruby-red lips given competition only by her alert and happy black-brown eyes. The bewildered little ragtag group of fighters stared at her in what could only be described as absolute disbelief.

"My name is Kamatari, Honjo Kamatari! Master Shishio said I should greet you and lead you into his sanctuary after…" she looked pensive for a second before snapping her fingers as another brilliant smile lit up her heart-shaped face, "ah, after I 'put you to the test however I liked'! Now, what I really would like would be to see which of you can make the best mocha latte, but since we don't have the time or the means to do so I guess my trusted naginata will have to suffice…"

With the exception of Saito and Aoshi everybody had their jaws hanging to the floor. Megumi, slightly greenish with what the others thought could only be jealousy, studied the slender form in front of her before giving an indignant cry. "But you're a man!"

The nine fighters and one child couldn't help but turn their heads from Kamatari, to Megumi, and back to the really effeminate man. "Uh… Foxy, are you sure? 'Cause she sure looks hot, you know," Sano finally voiced the suspicion that everybody harbored in secret- that Megumi only wanted to take out the competition for the title 'Most Beautiful Woman In The Battle'.

"Just look at him," Megumi hissed, finally catching on to the implied meaning in the other's stares, "he is a man!"

"Congratulations, Agent Takani, you're the first to catch on so quickly," the young man-woman said with a miffed expression, " it has to be that you have studied humans so intently while becoming a doctor- I am a man." He bowed gracefully with a flourish.

"No way!" Misao cried, "you walk more like a woman than I do!" Kamatari's bright smile returned.

"Really? I had to practice soooo hard! Thank you for the compliment, young ninja of the Oniwabanshu- shall I teach you?"

"No, you should not! We're here to fight!" Yahiko's voice conveyed something akin to hatred for the unmanly man and his antics.

"Oh, yes… I still would prefer that mocha latte contest, you know, I hate getting my clothes dirty, and the way you all look like they will even if you don't touch me because you will spray soot and dirt and blood everywhere- can I fight one of the cleanest first, please?"

Now Kaoru had had enough. She might be a tomboy, she might be dirty, sweaty, covered in soot and sometimes even wounded, but she would not let herself be insulted any more by a female-wannabe. "Listen, you… Kamatari, or what you're called, I'll fight you. And I'll be sure to rip up your designer fighting suit!"

"Oh, you noticed? I made this myself- clothes from the stores are so uniform!" Uniformity certainly was not something he could be accused of- his tight-fitting shirt and wide, kilt-like skirt-trousers were dyed in all the colors of the rainbow, from dark violet at the top to a whitish yellow around the man's slim middle to dark violet at the bottom of the trouser-skirt again.

Smiling, he readied himself, easing into an aggressive stance- the naginata was hard to wield if the opponent came too close, and Kamatari, as a master of his chosen weapon, would not allow Kaoru to come close without any obstacles in her way.

"Why don't we just shoot the queer?" Saito asked impassively, taking in the steaming Kaoru and her happy-go-lucky opponent.

"That would not be fair, Saito," Kamatari scowled, hating being called a 'queer', "besides, Shishio would activate his automated defenses then, and I think you've already encountered them. The ones in this room are even better. He said, and I quote: No guns!" His grip around the weapon's handle grew stronger. He really hated being called a queer.

"Tanuki, take him out," Saito ordered, not missing a beat.

"Well, if you could finally stop talking then we could get this over with and I can return to serve my master Shishio," Kamatari, looking like a disgruntled cat, bit. Kaoru shot him a hateful look and stepped forward.

"I am ready." The men of the group simply shook their heads. They did not doubt Kaoru's abilities, but it could be that she let her anger cloud her rationality… and she did.

Shaking his flame-haired head, Kenshin watched as the young girl rushed headlong into the range of the giant scythe, ducking underneath the heavy weapon. It took all his restraint not to shout at Kaoru, she had to fight her own fights, and since she had been fastest to step forward, this was her fight. He could not do anything without endangering the whole group, since Shishio would undoubtedly let his automated guns, flamethrowers and whatever else he had hidden in the walls spout at them if he tried to interfere.

She had forgotten about the weighted chain on the other end of Kamatari's naginata. It caught her full-force into the chest and knocked her backwards, her beautiful face scrunched up in pain as she hit the floor and skidded along on it until she came to rest at the feet of the group who was watching her concernedly.

"Ungh," she made as she climbed to her feet again, right hand clutching her wooden weapon protectively. At least she hadn't let go of her bokken. Kaoru wiped at her sweaty brow with her free left arm, blinking a few times to get the last of the black spots covering her vision to leave, then she took up another of the stances of her family's fighting style. This one was for rather long-ranged attacks, meant to be used for entering into an opponent's greater reach and retreat just as fast, like a cobra striking. She had had to use it a lot during her training since she had always been smaller than her male training partners, thus it was a specialty of hers. Kamatari was not bigger or taller than her, perhaps he even weighed a few pounds less, but he had a weapon that gave him a reach and circle of control that she could not match with her short wooden sword.

"Watch out, little girl!" the girly man cried, swinging his scythe in a cycling motion that accelerated quickly until the blade and chain formed a gyrating spiral of death around his body. It was impossible to break, and Kamatari could lash out at any moment and catch his opponent off guard with either the blade or the weighted end of his chain. Kaoru's eyes narrowed in concentration, willing the whirring weapon to slow down until she could see the parts of it, then she stepped inside the circle.

Ducking the suddenly multiplied blades and chains she jumped, rolled, crouched and stroke. The whirring and wind Kamatari had produced with his naginata stopped. Kaoru sighed- and flew back once again, striking the wall with enough force to make some of the plaster fall down.

"I have got my feet, too," Kamatari sang, drawing figure eights into the air with his weapon as he advanced on Kaoru.

Kenshin's muscles tensed, he was ready to spring into action, trust the group to get itself to safety- however, he was not the first. "Kaoru!!!" Misao's voice shrilled, "Look out! Kaoru!!!"

Aoshi held the struggling girl around the middle to keep her from jumping into the fray. "Misao, you're not well enough yet to fight. Let Kaoru do this on her own! Misao!!!" he tried to reach her, but the young ninja's frantic brain only saw his vise-like grip on her and tried to break free.

"Misao!" She was like w writhing goldfish desperate to get back into the water, and his grip on her began to loosen enough for her to get one of her hands free and reach for a kunai on her belt. "Kaoru!!!"

Aoshi did the only thing he could think of to hold her back. Catching her head with a hand he took away from her middle he pressed his lips to hers and kissed her deeply. Misao's eyes clouded over in shock, but she returned his kiss vigorously- not before she released her kunai from her fingers, though.

Kaoru saw the silver glint fly towards Kamatari and his naginata, and even though her body screamed in protest she flung herself forward, nimbly evading the rotating chain before she and the silver glint struck.

A cracking sound, the clanging of the out-of-control chain against the wall, and, ultimately, silence broken only by harsh breathing. Kamatari lay on the ground, his weapon's parts around him, as broken as his spirit.

"How? You're just a little girl… how did you win?" he whispered, turning his face to the floor in shame. His right arm was bent at an odd angle, the force of his weapon shattering having broken something inside. His back hurt where he had struck the floor, and he could not feel his left foot at all. His huge, black eyes were filled with tears as he confessed his failure to himself. "I am nothing. Shishio-sama, I failed you. Kamatari will choose another way now."

The ten fighters silently watched the sobbing figure on the floor, solemnly paying their respect to the downed fighter before taking Kaoru into their middle, Megumi beginning to fuss over her. She had nothing worse than a few bruises, though, and so found herself in a crushing embrace from all of her friends soon. Kenshin in particular held her like he would never let her go, and she realized how hard she had been on him by volunteering for this fight. Perhaps he would finally see now what it did to her to see him go off on his own.

"I won," she smiled, catching deep, amber gold in her azure depths.

"You won, that you did," he whispered, still looking at her in disbelief. For a moment the fight had looked lost- until Misao had thrown her little kunai that had acted as a wedge and a lever for Kaoru's strike. He threw her a thankful look, but the little ninja girl didn't see anything at all at the moment, contently looking at Aoshi and stroking her bottom lip with her left thumb as though what had just happened was but a dream. The proof that it wasn't however, was in the solid circle that Aoshi's arms formed around her middle and the closeness of his body to hers. Kenshin smiled softly and returned his gaze to rest upon the beautiful little fighter who had just won them their first victory over Shishio's minions. Now if only everything would go as fast as this!

"We should move on, that we should," he said, voice harsh and raw with emotion. His face hardened once more into that of a battle-ready warrior, but with the softness of his core underneath it. Kaoru smiled at him and slipped from his grasp.

"Let's go on," she chimed as well, elation over her victory singing in her veins.

"You would like to go on, would you not?" Cold and grating as glacial ice this voice left no doubt as to whom it belonged to, "this room, however, has another guardian, Battousai, and I suggest that you should not fight him- you will need your energy later on. Soujirou has told me a lot about your abilities, but I can see you are weakened- oh, don't look so shocked that the boy actually returned to me to give his report, you didn't honestly believe your words would be able to sway him? Oh no, he is recovering, but before the end he will join in the battle once more. Ah, and those bumbling Agency fools you brought in as a reinforcement- I have sent my army to take care of them."

Kenshin clenched his fists as dark fire rose from the depths of his soul to meet his eyes. "Shishio," he hissed venomously, trying to hide his confusion. What reinforcements? He had not asked for help!

"You know my name? And here I was looking forward to introducing myself. You know, that whole 'Pharaoh' thing gets old after a while- it might be good for instilling fear in my subjects, but my enemies tend to see it as a simple ruse to hold greater power, and deduct from it that I possess a rather childish mind. Just call me Shishio, Battousai…"

"I already have."

"Oh, I seem to have overlooked that. Anyways, I hope to see more entertainment now- I have installed some of my newest toys in here- this is my antechamber, by the way, just in case you were wondering. I am right behind that little row of pillars and that curtain- Yumi loves curtains. When I rule the world, everybody will have to have at least one curtain parting a room in their house. Preferably the kind that's made of strings of beads or pearls or whatever you want to call it.

"Anyways, I'm not here to discuss interior design and decorating… I wanted to introduce my next fighter… you can come forward now, Usui."

A snake-like hissing came from a shadowed corner of the room. Tall and menacing, wearing a black bandanna and eerie black contact lenses that covered the whole of his eyes Shishio's next obstacle for the ten was a much more impressive figure than that of Kamatari (even though the cross-dresser had been much more dreadful to look at in a way).

"Hello Saito, Aoshi," the man gave a curt nod at each of the two recoiling men, "a pleasure to meet you again."

"Usui," Aoshi said, a strong dislike audible in his usually passive voice. He had never pretended to like his fellow follower of the Pharaoh, and now that he had switched sides he saw no more use in trying to hide the hatred on his face.

"Ah, Aoshi, as pleasantly polite as always." Saito didn't even acknowledge the other man's presence. His sadistic nature and disturbing ability to read his unfortunate victims had unsettled even the wolfish spy, and his attire, which left much to be desired, did nothing to appease the burning anger that swamped Saito's mind and heart whenever he laid eyes onto the vampiric man.

His long, black hair that was gathered in a medium-length ponytail high on the back of his head swished dramatically behind him as Usui took a rather relaxed stance in front of the group the majority of which was still trying to get a picture of him. Kenshin's eyes were burning with anger, but he kept himself well in check.

"Hmmm, three pretty little playthings…I just have to dispose of the rest of you, especially the brat. Now what is the best way to do that… perhaps- this!" He pulled the long, menacing-looking barrel of a large-caliber gun from behind his green-and-black coat.

"You wouldn't dare," Megumi hissed, "Shishio has explicitly ordered that no guns are to be used."

"A pity that Kamatari has already told you that. He talks too much."

"Get out of here, Usui. You know what I think of you and your habits. If you don't want to answer to me, run." Saito had stepped forward, cold fury on his narrow face, his eyes shining with an unholy light as disgust etched deep lines around the corners of his eyes and mouth.

"Oh, Saito, quit trying to think that you're better than me. You know as well as I do that you secretly enjoy hearing them scream…" Usui said, a false smile playing the shadowed angles of his face, making him look like some wretched creature out of a nightmare, a demon like those that adored his robes and coat in poisoned green.

"I have never nor will I ever find any enjoyment in what you do, Usui. Your chance has passed, face me." Saito drew his longer-than-average katana from his belt, the rasped singing of metal on wood an unmistakable sign- Saito was renowned for never putting his sword back into its sheath without it having tasted the heat of a battle beforehand.

Usui grinned, cocking his gun. The grin, however, was wiped from his face as a heavy object descended on his wrist, breaking his grip and making the weapon fall to the floor. Saito calmly dropped the belt of his uniform. "Now the chances are even- I know you have your own katana hidden somewhere underneath all that fabric. I give you the chance to draw, now. If you don't I'll kill you."

"You kill me? You're the one that will die!" Without warning, Usui flexed his wrists, shooting twin projectiles from them that hit Saito's legs with a dull thudding sound. "I have crippled you."

Saito hadn't flinched. Detachedly, he regarded the blood flowing from the small puncture wounds, looking at the darts that were imbedded into each of his upper legs. "You've had your chance, Usui."

His sword struck so fast that nobody was able to follow its path with the eyes- except for Aoshi and Kenshin, maybe. But even they would have had a hard time defending against the triple strike Saito administered as he used his trademark attack. Usui, basking in his small success, had no chance.

"That was the second one," Saito remarked scathingly cold as he flocked the blood from his blade, sparing his fallen opponent no third glance. He took out a soft, white handkerchief and began cleaning his weapon. "Go ahead, Battousai. I'll keep that doctor of yours around for my legs and follow you then."

Megumi huffed. "You're going to stay here, with these wounds… I won't let you run to your own premature demise."

"You don't have the power to hold me back, woman. I'm no idiot like that one," he jerked his head to indicate the rather bored, spiky-haired fighter who didn't even notice him because he was staring at the way Megumi was looking at Saito in anger. "An I'm not whipped like that one," this time, the target of his jerking chin was Kenshin, who was simply standing there staring holes into the air.

Megumi chose not to rise to his taunts, working in silent efficiency instead. She had no desire to wake the ire of the cynical spy, and she didn't care enough to hold him back by force. She could not forget that he had been the one to attack Kenshin when they were fleeing from Camp Freedom, the one responsible for the red-headed agent's condition when they arrived at Okina's farm.

"Cat got your tongue, woman?" Saito asked, grimacing as she pulled the bandages around his left leg tighter than necessary.

"Leave her alone," Sano finally spat, disgust evident in his glacial voice.

"Idiot, keep your blabber to yourself." Saito didn't feel well enough to put up with the raging hormones of a young man.

"Just let him be, Sano," Megumi interfered before a huffing Sano could think of a good reply, "he doesn't know better- he probably never had any woman look at him twice."

As much as he hated to admit it, that remark had really gotten to him. "I'm married," Saito barked, trying to ignore the burning pain in his legs.

Nobody believed him, just like always. Was he really such a horrible person? Saito shrugged, deciding to let these young fools play their own games. Tokio and he were happy, and that was all that counted. Fleetingly, he wondered whether he would be able to see more of his children once all of this was over, but he didn't even have time enough to remember their names and ages before Shishio interrupted them again.

"Well, less entertaining than I thought, but once you've got that traitorous fool patched up I suggest you come to see me- I've been awaiting you, Battousai."

Kenshin snapped out of his reverie. He had spent the last few minutes in the calming limbo of his center, finding and pulling on the source of his strength. He knew he wouldn't have the time to bring it forth once he stood face to face with the infamous Pharaoh, so he drew from the well of light and power within himself now. His power flared willingly, the sharpness of his senses and limberness of his body enough of a reward for the tediousness of calling it forward. He had turned back into the man he had been- almost, but not quite. There was a feeling to him that had not been there before, a calmness and simplicity of actions he had not possessed as an angry teenager. Battousai the assassin was much more horrifying as a grown man- his eyes more focused, his mind clearer, his objective more defined.

Kaoru was just staring at the spot where not a moment before there had been a grim-faced, exhausted young agent, doing her very best imitation of a goldfish. He had vanished. Simply vanished, and had taken with him any trace of gentleness and compassion. In his place stood an avenging angel with a horrifyingly sinister face who was radiating power and authority.

"Don't worry, Pharaoh, we're on our way." If she had been in Shishio's place she would have run and hidden underneath the nearest stone- or perhaps hoped to turn into an ant and escape unnoticed from the wrath of the young agent that stood right in front of her, hand grasping the hilt of his weapon, eyes facing his destiny. Shishio didn't seem to possess this kind of self-preservationist urges, though. He laughed.

"Quit stalling, Battousai. Take your friends- I promise I won't hurt them," Kaoru could have sworn there was a muttered 'much' after that, "and you will get what you always wanted- a fair fight." He laughed again, reinforcing the picture of him as a monster in the young woman's mind. Kenshin stepped forward, and they continued to walk towards the beaded curtain that separated them from Shishio.


"Baka deshi, what have you done now?" Hiko muttered, leading his part of the group up the final flight of stairs. He hated elevators with a passion, the thought of being caught inside of them and not having any means of defending himself leading to his decision to take the stairs, as risky as that might be. Until now, the only obstacle they had encountered was an empty can of soup, however, on which one of his men had slipped. The flare of Kenshin's ki had hit him like a freight train. The boy had only ever called upon his reserves if he was in serious trouble or if he was caught in a sparring match with his master, and that he did so now alerted Hiko to the fact that he was most likely in grave danger.

"Hurry up," he called, not bothering to wait for the rest of his forces as he barreled ahead, through the doors to the uppermost floor, throwing himself to the ground as he was greeted by a hailstorm of bullets. Grumbling, he retreated into the stairwell, ignoring the screaming of a few ricocheting bullets that had come quite close to nicking his ears.

"So this is where they all are," one of the agents who had finally caught up to him, shouted. Hiko shrugged. Only a few more stupid people trying to hold him back… he only had to find a hole in their fire and they would all be dead within the space of a few minutes- his ancient fighting art would see to that. He only had to wait… wait while Kenshin's ki was screaming at him from tantalizingly close.

"Do you reckon that agents Himura and Takani are here somewhere?" Another agent asked him. Hiko's face, drawn in concentration, scrunched up in annoyance.

"I know they are here," he stated superiorly. The agents shared exasperated looks, not being used to putting up with Hiko's flaring temper and scathing tongue like Katsura was. They didn't like the fact that he saw them as a burden rather than as helpers. They didn't like being ridiculed all the time. And they didn't like that this big lug of a man was always right. Every time he berated them, or said something, or did something he was right.

"How will we get past them?" The same agent who had reached him first asked, wanting to know what plan Katsura's partner had.

"They stop firing and we get past them," Hiko said matter-of-factly.

"Oh." Apparently, nobody had ever thought of that, or perhaps they just acted that stupid, whatever it was, Hiko didn't care. He had to get to Kenshin, the boy was in trouble, and the trouble was not abating as he was still lighting a nice torch with his ki for all to see. At least for all of those to see who could see. Which were not nearly enough people. But he, Hiko Seijurou, was not going to be the one to change that. He had enough to do with rescuing his baka deshi and maintaining his pottery shop.

Shishio's army was well trained- they fired in sequence. Until they made a mistake, Hiko's way was blocked.


Shishio decided that now was the time to put out his pipe. Until Battousai had reached the curtain, he had kept smoking, but now he felt something akin to an obligation to be ready to fight his most obstinate opponent yet. He had to admit to it, albeit grudgingly- the man was rather strong and resourceful.

"Yumi, my dear, can you go to the monitoring room? I want to know what the rest of these fools are up to once I have dealt with those bumbling idiots here." He sent his beloved and engineer to safety, knowing that a fight against the Agency's best could get ugly and not wanting her to get hurt. He just hoped that it wouldn't be too long until he could go to her- he was rather addicted to her and her skimpy Egyptian-style tunic.

"Hello, Battousai," he greeted a moment after, regretfully having to turn his gaze from the beautiful form of Yumi to the more… disheveled one of his red-haired enemy.

Battousai ad his followers glared at him with undisguised hatred. They just didn't understand… Shishio sighed. Mister Darwin would have to work his magic again. He had no doubt it would be in his favor, but he still considered that little man a nuisance. Time to get rid of him.

"I have come, Shishio," Battousai drawled, a flare in his ki announcing that he was less than pleased. As if I could not have guessed that from the sour look on his face, Shishio thought.

"Welcome to the Atrium, Battousai," he gestured around the wide, glass-covered room invitingly. He was rather proud of that part of his home, even though most people didn't really like it, saying it was 'stuffed' and 'overdone'. The combination of old Egyptian relics and modern, glass-and-chrome architecture was a rather pleasing mix to the eyes of the Pharaoh, but an eyesore to many others.

"Quit with the games already, Shishio. We have a score to settle." No objections to that. He was rather delighted that Battousai got down to business that fast.

"I am at your service." Shishio stood, facing his opponent. Battousai's group retreated, leaving him to stand alone in the middle of the Atrium, free space around him and the sky, only separated from them by a glass roof in the shape of a pyramid, above him. What a picturesque opening to their epic fight! This day would be wonderful… He drew in the same instant as Battousai did. The time of finally deciding the fate of the Regime, and with it the world, was at hand.

… to be continued…

I made it! Chapter 19 is complete! Not my best chapter, I'm afraid, but I made it through that stupid block of mine!!! No time for reviewer's corner today, sorry, have to go buy fireworks (our self-made ones won't be enough, New Year has to come with a bang!)! So I'll only say A VERY BIG thankyou to:

CurlsofSerenity, Queen of Shadows, Eeevee, Sword Master Jeff, lebleuphenix, ixchen, Ari and Kat, darkmoon0829, Natsuko, Bengali, Dove of Night and Crazy Chipmunk. You are all soooo wonderful! I can't ever thank you enough!!!