The leader of the masked forces arrived at the bottom of the steps of Hinata House. He was the first to arrive; his companions were nowhere to be found. It seemed serene . . . a little too quiet for his taste. He knew that something was wrong, maybe his friend's had a close encounter with the Battousai? Probably. He shook his head and smiled to himself. Battousai . . it's been so long. The last time I ever saw you was when we were plagued by the curse on the Dauntless. And even back then you were weaker than I. And now, after seven years, we will finally meet again . . .

"Excuse me, but what business do you have here?" asked a voice from behind. The masked fighter's head shot up and his eyes locked with those of Naru Narusegawa's. "A beauty, yes. I'd hate to kill her, but it'd be better if I did. Cant have a rogue rat running around telling about my whereabouts," the spirit of the masked muttered inside Sagara's head.

"No. You lay one finger on her and I'll kill you," Sagara whispered, forgetting that Naru was just standing right there. "And besides, I didn't come here to kill anybody. And I never will."

"You'll never be able to destroy me, you know that," hissed his inner voice.  

This guy's NUTS! Naru thought to herself as she looked at the masked man. He seems to be dangerous, talking about killing and all. I better make a run for it . . .

"Where do you think you're going?" asked the masked warrior. "C'mere."

"GET YOUR FILTHY HANDS OFF OF ME, YOU PERVERT!" screamed Naru as she uppercutted the very surprised man. "Uh oh, I better let you take this," muttered the spirit as it let go of its grip on Sagara.

"Wait! But what did I --- PRRRGGG!!!!"

Sagara flew in the opposite direction and collided with the brick wall. He sprawled to the ground, leaving a small puddle of blood where he landed.

"You served your purpose. I'll take over . . ."

Naru, with a satisfied look on her face, started on her way to go back into the house when her wrist was grabbed by the stranger. She spun around, only to be scared the hell out of by the possessed look on his face.

"HELP!!!"

At once, Motoko sprang from the window of her room and kicked the masked fighter straight in the face. Then moving between Naru and her assailant, she held up her sword as if daring the new threat to come at her.

"Leave now, foul creature, before justice is served," snarled Motoko. And here's where you start to beg me not to kill you, she thought as the stranger picked himself up. But instead of pleading, he started to laugh.

"Little girls like you shouldn't pick fights with men like me," he stated arrogantly and howled with laughter. Motoko's eyes narrowed as she saw him draw his sword. "So. Ya wanna die, dontcha? Well, sure! I'll be happy to oblige!"

The masked man jumped into the air and disappeared, leaving Motoko stunned. How did he do that? she thought before being held by the neck. Struggling against the sheer strength the stranger had over her was futile. An attack from the back . . . why didn't I think of that? Why did I leave myself completely vulnerable?

"Don't ya worry, little miss," he whispered into her ear. "Your death will be swift . . you wont even feel a thing!"

This is the end . . . Hmm. What is this? I sense another chi, one even stronger than mine!

A blur of a man tackled the stranger, knocking him away from his prey. Motoko stared wide eyed at the newcomer. Long red hair and a cross-shaped scar . . . this is the swordsman Kitsune and Haruka had been talking about!

"So, if it isn't my old buddy Himura. How nice to see ya again, pal."

"Shut up," responded the red-haired warrior as he charged toward his target at lightning speed. Sagara smiled. This time he was ready for the attack, and caught the Battousai's attack with his hand.

"Hmph." Jumping backward to regain his ground, the Battousai placed his sword back into the sheathe to prepare himself for his next attack. He has grown stronger, that he has. I think more force is needed to stop this demon that I once befriended.

"Come on now, Himura. I know you're holding back. Don't! I can feel the evil contained within you. I don't know why you've been able to suppress the curse, but let it go like I have. Let's take over Japan together."

"I'll refuse, that I will," said Kenshin. "And I know that the real Sagara is still in there somewhere. The real Sagara Urashima would never dream about killing all those people. You," he stated, pointed his index finger at the killing menace. "You are an imposter. And for your own good, I will have to take you out."

"And in doing so you will probably kill Sagara," retorted the masked fighter. "But do what you must. You are also burdened with the curse, so you know how it feels. How killing all those people felt, the excitement of the hunt. I know now why people call you the Battousai. Because you are a bloodthirsty killer!"

"That's enough!" The samurai of legends leaped forward once again and slashed at his former friend, who evaded the attack and kicked him in the throat. Battousai tried to jump back, but was caught by the end of his ponytail.

"Goodbye old friend," the deadly voice whispered as his blade gently touched the Manslayer's throat, causing him to shudder. The girls watched in horror as they saw the last hope for salvation being held captive by the masked fighter. But just as he was about to finish the Manslayer off, he felt something making contact with his face and flew backwards. The something turned out to be Grandma Hinata's jump kick.

"Hyo ha ha! Sagara-chan, you mischievous little boy!" chirped the elderly lady. "How long has it been? Seven, eight years?"