First of all, I don't own any of the characters from the dot.hack universe nor the universe itself.

Also a warning, this story may hold spoilers for those of you who have not played or beaten dot.Hack: Outbreak. If you don't want these spoiled, stop now.

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Sitting down on the soft grass, shaded by the branches of a pair of trees, Kite leaned back against the trunk of one of them and let out a soft sigh. So much had happened in so little time. Sure Orca had been in a coma now for more time than he liked to think, but still it was all happening so fast.

That was why he came to this spot sometimes in D Hidden Passionate Prairie, away from the deadly hardships and pressures of the higher level servers. More importantly though, away from the others. It was true that the continuing infection rate of 'The World' had ruined some of the skyline, but he'd seen protected areas that looked and felt far worse. All thanks to the power of the bracelet.

The bracelet, Aura's gift to him back at D Bursting Passed Over Aqua Field that first day, before he was caught up in all of this, before Orca… No, he wouldn't go down that line of thought again, it got him too depressed. Who or what Aura was Kite didn't know, and a lot of his friends and allies seemed to not know very much either. The only one who seemed to have any idea at all was Helba, and she certainly wasn't talking. Even when she did talk, it was nothing but riddles and inference. She never disclosed to him everything she understood about what was happening.

BlackRose had suggested momentarily before trailing off that she didn't want to scare us away with it, and Kite had to admit that such a reason frightened him some. Lios certainly didn't trust her, but then Lios had never been much help to them either. While Kite was sure that Lios cared about this world and its users far more than he let on at times, he was equally sure that Lios knew next to nothing about the Epitaph of Twilight, and that still seemed to be the key to it all.

Glancing out at the tree off in the distance that stood next to where a Spring of Myst had once been, he let out another sigh. It was true that if he wanted to stay away and not risk encountering the others, just not logging on would be the simplest solution, but he found that it was far easier to contemplate the nature of what was happening to him and this place while within it. That was perhaps due to the added effect stepping into his character role provided.

When he had first begun playing 'The World', met BlackRose and then Balmung, the other half of the Descendents of Fiana, then the others like Mia and Elk, Mistral and Gardenia, he had never imagined it would come this far, become this dark. Even Piros with his chivalrous bravado, which seemed to bring him nothing except item 'hexes' he supposed were the best way to describe them as mere status ailments didn't convey the entirety of the humor behind his naivete thinking at times, didn't keep back the inner doubts for long.

Before he had begun coming to this place from time to time, killing off most of the surrounding creatures with ease, as it was a level 4 area, having to take down a stray Magic Goblin or Chicken Hand if it came too near, Kite had wondered why Balmung had spent so much time in a low level area like the D Server. Now though he had a hunch it was because no one would think to look for him here. Who would expect a level 60 player to be hanging around somewhere like here?

He had thought for a time of telling BlackRose of this place, after all she, more than any of the others, was his partner in all of this, but in the end decided against it. This was his place for him alone; they could have another place for just the two of them if they wanted. For the longest time he had thought that D Hidden Forbidden Holy Ground, where they had their first adventure, was their little place. Now that he knew of what it really meant to her though, the place where her brother had been when he went comatose, the place took on the same feeling as did the area where Orca had slipped into a coma as well. It had never occurred to him that she knew a coma victim too, and that was what had been driving her to discover the truth. Her brother though, that had to be really hard. Still, at least she hadn't been there when it had happened, like he had with Orca.

That had been when Skeith had used Data Drain, where Aura had given him the bracelet. No, it hadn't become a bracelet then; it had been the Book of Twilight then. What relation the book and the bracelet had to the Epitaph was unclear, but he was sure that there was a connection of some kind. If only they could get the entire Epitaph, figure out just what it all meant to 'The World.'

A sudden motion off to his left pulled Kite out of his thoughts. Glancing off in the direction of the disturbance, he saw a figure of what looked like a female Heavy Blade running in his direction over the hill. No, it couldn't be BlackRose. How could she have possibly known where to find him? The figure then stopped and spun, another figure coming over the hill now as well, a tall Wavemaster, followed quickly by what looked to be a very lean Blademaster.

These were just other players, not anyone he knew, probably newbies. Using the term seemed rather funny since not so long ago he too had been a newbie. In some ways he still was. Then he spotted it, the pair of Snip Snaps coming over the summit of the hill, and off to the left slightly a Magical Goblin was approaching at a duck-like pace as well.

It was kind of nice to watch the beginners fight, seeing how they fared. Still, as the Magical Goblin clobbered the Blademaster with a fire spell, a part of him knew that this battle didn't look too promising.

Then off to the far right more monsters, this time three Chicken Hands, moved in. They must have been wandering the field; there weren't any other portals nearby. If those newbies were struggling already, with the added threat they wouldn't stand a chance. They needed help, and it was against his nature to sit back and watch those in need.

Rising from his spot, Kite bolted out into the field. They didn't look to be doing so well, and so he took the moment to cast a speed charm, increasing his speed. Leaping up into the fray, Kite somersaulted over a Snip Snap, slashing it with his Spectre Blades as he did so. The creature fell dead as Kite landed, moving to place himself between the other players and the remaining creatures.

The young Heavy Blade stood there with jaw agape, gawking at Kite as he poised himself to strike at the three incoming Chicken Hands. It was obvious to them all that he was an extremely high level character, but that didn't stop them from watching in awe. Diving in at the incoming monsters, Kite slashed this way and that, hitting his mark with ease. The foes were just too weak for him to really miss. The battle was over in moments.

Standing with his back to them for a moment, Kite turned, smiled, then said, "So, is everyone here all right?"