Disclaimer: I do not own the Ronin Warriors or Yu Yu Hakusho

Chapter Eighteen

Yulie sat forlornly next to Whiteblaze as he watched the four Ronin Warriors and Cale prepare for their next fight. He didn't like the pall mood that had descended on the group of warriors as the TV kept announcing that it was near time for the first match of the semi-finals to begin.

Kento stood in the middle of the room with a soda in hand, watching as the Tournament Channel flashed images and stats of the Yotokazin Team. Cye was sitting on the bench next to him, adjusting a knee brace before donning his sub armor.

"So…no chance in hell they plan to forfeit." Kento muttered as he slurped from a straw.

"Nope." Cye sighed and he watched the screen flash an 'UNKNOWN' in place of the last missing member. He didn't like the lack of information they had on this new replacement that had recently joined the Yotokazin team.

Yulie sighed a little and decided it was best he just got the hell out of there. They didn't seem to care very much if he was there or not.

"Don't think about it kid." Rowen said from across the room as Yulie went to open the door. "You are not leaving here without our permission."

Yulie looked back to see the warrior of Strata hadn't so much as turned to see him trying to leave. He growled a little bit. "I don't want to stay in here and watch the fight! Besides, maybe I can go find out who this new guy is—"

"Now there is one thing you are not doing." Kento barked. Cye nodded in agreement as he donned his sub armor at last. "You are staying as far away as possible from this team. And the safest place to be is right in this room."

"I didn't kill that dude." Yulie muttered. "You guys did."

Sage turned from his locker and clasped the young man by the shoulder. "We're really nervous about this one. Their leader is a radical from the neither realm. He knows us by name and by title. He is the only demon here who knows our weaknesses and our powers on sight. It is best if you stayed clear and out of sight until this blows over."

Yulie shook his head. "No! You guys are always pushing me out of the fight. Why won't you let me help you right now? You need it!" He said, reached for the Heart of Ancients dangling around his neck.

"If only it was that simple." Cale muttered as he flicked his arm up, testing his reach on something before lowering it. "We had better get down to those doors."

"Should we go in armor?" Cye asked as he stood up and joined Kento and Rowen when they assembled at the door.

Sage shrugged as they filed out of the locker room and started down the dark hall to the main entrance of the stadium. Yulie stood in the doorway and sighed in frustration with Whiteblaze. The tiger rubbed his head against the young man's leg, trying in vain to make him calm down.

"God damn it." Yulie growled as he slammed the door shut and started walking down the hall in the other direction, going to leave the stadium. Whiteblaze followed purposely behind him, keeping his eyes trained to the shadow figures that had been following his young charge for some time now.

The old tiger watched as Yulie walked pass a pillar and suddenly lunge at something out of sight. He snagged the SDF soldier by the throat and held him against a wall.

"What the hell gives you bastard!?" Yulie demanded, in the most deathly voice he could muster.

The soldier blinked in surprise. This mortal had just snatched him out of the shadows without even flinching. The two other SDF with him appeared with in seconds around the boy as they stood in a standstill.

"We…we were ordered to watch you!" The soldier choked. "Lord Koenma orders! He wants you to be protected at all times!"

Yulie glared at the SDF before shoving him aside. "I don't need anyone's protection!" He snapped and stalked off.

"ALRIGHT EVERYONE!" Koto screamed from the middle of the arena. "Welcome back! At long last, we have come this far, the long awaited semi-finals is about to begin!" She yelled to the roaring crowd. "We're about to embark on the wildest, blood thirsty, heart wrenching battles we've seen yet! These demons and humans want this chance to pass onto the finals! LET'S HAVE AT IT! In this corner…the mortal team that has withstood the test of time, the team that we all love to hate…THE RONIN WARRIORS!"

The Ronins filed through the grinding doors, booed and insulted as they neared the ring. Sage and Cale lead the way in jumping onto the ring and meeting Koto in the center.

"And…without fail…the favorites of this year's tournament, the ruthless…blood thirsty…TEAM YOTOKAZIN!"

The stadium erupted into a fit of screaming rage as the four remaining members of the team walked out into the arena with Santro in the lead. He climbed nimbly up onto the ring and towards the Ronins.

"Well…" He muttered as he smirked at the Ronins. "Who would have thought we would finally cross paths?" Before anyone could reply, he spit on the marble floor at Sage's feet.

Kento growled. "You're just one more radical dirt bag we get to put in his place."

Santro laughed. "When I kill you, I'll be sure to mount your head to the throne room walls."

Cye held his hand to Kento's chest as he moved to attack.

Koto walked up. "Um, I'm sorry to interrupt…but you are a member short."

Santro smirked as he leaned in to the announcer's question. "Our replacement likes to make an entrance."

There was a moment of pause as the stadium rumbled with anticipation. The Ronins shared curious glances with each other between sizing up their challengers and breaking down the fight roster. It was Sage who noticed the dark figure walking from the opposite gate.

"Anyone but him…" Cye whispered in horror as he caught a glimpse.

Koto looked over. "Ah, that must be him." She smiled, going over to meet the approaching fighter.

"Xander!" Kento growled, how having Rowen and Cye hold him back. "Damn it all! Let me at that bastard! I'll finish him off."

Cale reached out and grabbed Hardrock by the throat. At once the group backed away to their side of the ring. It took a great deal of effort on Rowen and Sage's parts to come away from the middle of the ring, where the wraith stood there grinning at them.

With a swing, Cale threw Kento out of the ring. "All of you…go." He ordered darkly.

Sage glared at him, utterly confused but madder than hell. "Why? Why is it so important if you fight him?"

The warlord leaned into Halo's opposition and gritted his teeth. "Get out of the ring." He growled.

Rowen crossed his arms. "No." He barked, taking a stand next to the blonde warrior.

"You don't have the power to fight him as a group!" Cale snapped, turning away. "The last time you tried, two of you were nearly killed because of your recklessness."

Sage started forward after the warlord when something hit him hard in the chest. He felt the wind go from his lungs as Rowen grabbed his shoulders. All the world was spinning as he heard Rowen's distorted voice yelling over the outrageous roar of the stadium.

When he looked up, Cale was in full armor and brandishing his sword at Strata and Torrent's chests.

"Get out of the ring." The warlord hissed in his most intimidating voice at the two of them. "Get out of this ring…because Ryo ordered you to!"

"Ry…?" Sage winced as he tried in vain to breathe. He was still gasping for air when Cye snatched up him up and dragged him from the marble ring. Rowen followed after a moment later, checking to see how both Halo and Hardrock were doing.

Cale turned and marched back to the middle of the ring were Xander stood, arms crossed and grinning in amazement.

"My, that was sweet." He laughed. "You plan on protecting them from me?"

Darkness adjusted his footing into an old feudal stance, his sword held at arm's length away and his other hand balancing his weight.

"You honestly think you can take me by yourself." Xander demanded.

Cale glared back.

Koto lowered her arm. "Fighters…BEGIN!" She screamed.

"God damn it, what the hell is he thinking!?" Kuwabara demanded.

"Nothing, apparently." Hiei muttered as he watched the warlord beat his own team members for the first fight against Xander. "Much like you."

The red headed thug growled at the fire demon before looking back at Yusuke, who was sitting in the chair he was leaning on. "How you doing?"

Yusuke smiled. "I'm alright." He said, opening his eyes and looked around with a distant look in them. "I can make out shadows at least, so it's not all that bad." He sighed a little and leaned into the direction of the TV, listening to the commentary. "Why is Cale bent on fighting Xander alone?"

"Because he is the only one who can do it." Ryo's voice cut in.

Hiei growled a little as the Ronin Warrior entered the room. Ryo paid him no attention as he stopped behind Yusuke's chair and watched the TV. He set his jaw tight as he watch the fight unfold on the TV, his arms crossed over his chest. He didn't want to stand by and watch.

"If anyone else stepped into the ring, they wouldn't stand a chance."

"Well neither does Cale. If that creep can single handedly take down four Ronins, one is going to be a walk in the park for him!" Kuwabara barked.

Ryo cast a hardening look in the young man's direction. "That is why I choose Cale." He said coolly.

Yusuke smiled. "Because he can down four Ronin Warriors, can't he."

"If you only knew the truth." Ryo muttered under his breath.

"AUGH!" Cale's claws connected with the blade off the wraith's dagger, sliding down its shaft towards the hilt with sparks flying in his wake. With a growl the warlord leaned in past their locked weapons and snarled at Xander.

"You are a formidable foe." Xander grunted. "And here I thought you'd be dead in the first five seconds."

Cale snarled. "You forget. I'm not a Ronin Warrior. I'm a warlord!" He lifted his foot and kicked off, shoving the demon away from him and swinging around, using his cape to hide his gauntlet spike. The shaft connected with a firm crack against the demon's side.

Xander flew back, hissing in pain as he swung his daggering bearing hand around and tried to bury the blade into Cale's back. The warlord vanished as the knife clinked off the shoulder armor and he reappeared on the other side of the ring, his sword at the ready as he charged forward.

"I will not be bested by a mortal!" Xander roared as he sprung at the charging warlord.

Cale grunted as they collided, weapons smashing together. "I'm as immortal as you!" He roared.

Sage staggered onto his feet, trying to get back his bearings with Cye's help. He got up to his feet and followed the sound of Rowen and Kento's screaming voices towards the ring. He gritted his teeth and moved forward, regardless of the burning in his chest. He went past the two Ronins and started to get into the fight when they grabbed him back and held him there.

"NO!" Cye ordered as he clamped a hand down on his shoulder. "If you climb into that ring, Cale will be disqualified and we'll loose this match!"

"I don't care!" Sage struggled against him and Rowen. "Cale is going to get himself killed!"

Rowen wrenched Halo from Torrent's grip and wrestled him to the ground. "You heard him! Ryo gave the order!"

Sage winced as Strata sat on his back with his arms twisted around and pinned there. "Ugh…he could be lying!" He shot back.

Strata twisted Sage around, holding him by the collar of his sub armor. "Cale wouldn't dare lie about something as important as Ryo's orders!" He barked into his face. He drew the blond warrior forward so they were close enough to whisper. "You helped me, now I'm helping you! Cale can do it and you know he can!"

"Who better than a warlord to take on monster than can beat us all." Kento muttered as he stood over the two warriors and watched the fight out on the ring. "Anubis might have been a better choice."

Sage took a deep breath as Rowen started to let go. He could see the look of resigned defeat come into his visible eye. He wasn't going to do something stupid. But in the back of his mind, he had to question the source of Cale's orders.

Orders from Ryo…

That was impossible unless…


Rowen looked at the others. "Cale know where Ryo is." He whispered.

Koenma sighed a little in dismay as he watched the match below. From his box seating, the young prince leafed over papers, reading reports from his SDF. He just found one concerning last night. He knew Ryo had been sneaking out for a breather in the evenings when he knew it was safe to be wondering around…but the soldier assigned to him during those times had turned up unconscious on the observation deck.

Apparently Cale of Darkness was more intelligent than spirit world gave him credit for.

And from his seat above the stadium, the fight below was proof of that. He had turned on his friends and forced them out of the ring to keep them safe, something Ryo had been hell bent on trying to tell the Spirit world prince for some time now.

Koenma picked up the phone beside him and started to dial.

Tsinge picked up her phone as it began to ring. "Hello?" She said coolly, looking down in the ring at the fight. She sighed a little as Cale once again managed to escape the wraith's deadly waltz as they moved around the ring.

She had had enough.

"Do it." She ordered, and hung up.

Tsinge sat back in her chair and clasped her fingers in front of her. She meditated for a moment before a small smile graced her lips. "I'm going to make you all pay." She whispered.

Xander flew forward, his sword slashing through Cale's cape and ripping it to pieces as the warlord dodged his attack. The wraith flipped away before he met the ugly side of the no-daichi that swung around to stop him.

The demon smiled, showing off his teeth. "Now you can't use your disappearing act." He mused.

Cale lowered himself into a low stance, sword gripped in both hands as he took a moment to catch his breath. All those years of traveling between the mortal world and nether world had restarted his aging process again…and he was weaker, he knew from old age. Having your biological clock stopped at the age of 30 use to have its advantages.

"You are loosing old man."

Darkness felt his breath catch in his chest. "I'm not as old as you think I am." He hissed.

"The Cale of Darkness I heard of was a ruthless menace that would freeze mortal women in pillars of ice." Xander goaded.

Cale lunged forward, sword swinging up. Xander stepped aside and one effortless motion flipped his blade around in his hand and buried it into the plates of the warlord's armor.

The warlord of darkness' eyes widening in horror, hearing a chorus of shouts explode from across the ring. The stadium erupted into cheers, reverberating the ground as if an earthquake had consumed the island.

"You are a pathetic old fool." Xander smirked, pulling his blade free. Blood gushed out in its wake.

Cale winced, staggering to get clear. He already knew the wound was bad, besides the spot it was in and what organs it had hit. He resisted the urge to scream as he moved again, picking up his sword.

Xander mused for a moment, looking at his dagger before licking the blood off the blade. He curled his lip and spit it out. "Old blood." He grunted. "You've been living on borrowed time long enough, warlord. Let me put you out of your misery."

The wraith turned, approaching the warlord's back and readying his dagger again.

Sage struggled against Rowen as he watched the demon lift up his arms for his killing blow. "Cale!" He screamed.

Cale gritted his teeth; he closed his eyes and lowered his head.


"It's a shame Ryo of Wildfire wasn't first." Xander whispered darkly, bringing his blade down.

A sword piercing armor resounded through the stadium, silencing the audience. There was a long tense moment, the two fighters standing perfectly still. It was then the hulking form of the warlord of Darkness moved, swinging around as fast as he could with his sword buried into Xander's right leg. He swung himself around, the blade cutting through and twisting through the demon's leg, ripping it to shreds.

Xander's eyes widen in horror as the warlord's claws came flying around and connected with his chest. In one fluid motion the demon found himself falling back with the weight of the blow, Cale's claws buried to the knuckles into his breast as he hit the marble floor.

On contact, his helmet shattered.

Cale glared at the demon as he stood over him.

"I have a message for you from Ryo." He hissed. "He wanted you to know 'I make good on my promises.'"

Xander choked, his eyes blinded by the lights over head. Cale's claws withdrew from his chest with a sickening sound, leaving him gasping for air with collapsing lungs. He watched the warlord's arm swing back as hard and as fast as he could go before bringing his fist down again.

And everything went black.

"Let me out!" Ryo yelled.

"I'm sorry Emperor Sanada…but I can't let you go…"

Ryo grabbed the SDF soldier by the collar of his armor and threw him across the room. "I'm not listening to this anymore!" He growled. "You can tell Koenma I'm grateful for his all his help but I'm not waiting anymore."

He shoved three more soldiers out of his way as he went for the door. The Ronin leader was almost relieved that before all hell broke down between Cale and Xander's fight that Yusuke and his party left. Ryo was finally going to make his escape and he was going to do it through the front door.

"Emperor Sanada! NO!" The leader of the group inside the suite barked, trying to pick himself up off the floor. "There is someone coming!"

Ryo ignored him as he marched up to the door, and reached out for the knob with one subarmored hand. He was about to open it when the soldier clasped a hand on his shoulder to pull him back and the door was blow inwards, sending both men to the floor.

The Ronin leader winced as he rolled the unconscious body of the SDF off him, he pushed himself up, seeing a number of other soldiers in the living area coming for him.

Ryo threw a glance over his shoulder.

Standing in the doorway as the hulking form of Zander.

"We're under attack!" The second in command yelled. "Our orders are to protect Emperor Sanada! Do not let him fall in the hands of the Messenger!"

Ryo felt two set of hands grab his arm and fling him clear as Zander drew his dagger and flew at the Ronin leader. Ryo went tumbling back into the living room where three soldiers stood there waiting to grab him and escort him further into the suite and away from the fighting. He watched in horror as the two men who rushed in to grab him were cut down only moments later.

Zander glared at him through his visor. "You brought this upon yourself, Ryo of Wildfire." He hissed.

Before Ryo could charge into action himself, the three soldiers that had caught him grabbed his arms and dragged him towards Koenma's office. One looked back, yelling "Commander Yu is down! Removing the emperor from the suite now! Someone contact Lord Koenma!"

The Ronin leader struggled to break free. "No! Let me go! I'll get the hell out of here myself!"

"I'm sorry sir," A woman's voice cut in. One of the soldiers beside him was a woman, with long black hair and red eyes. "But we were ordered to stay with you at all times!"

They burst into the office, with the yelling voices and dying screams of other SDF soldiers left behind as they slammed the door shut. Ryo broke free at that moment, assessing his location. A window. He needed a window.

One of the soldiers walked up to the desk in front of a wide stretch of glass and picked up a phone. "Lord Koenma, we're under attack. One of the Messengers has arrived…"

Ryo started walking towards the window, picking up speed as he moved when the young woman grabbed his arm and stopped him. He shot her glare and was instantly met with one to match his own.

"My job is to protect you." She said coolly.

Ryo smirked a bit. "You know…you sound a hell of a lot like my gir—"

Words failed him when the doors to the office blew open. The young woman's eyes widen in horror, looking up at the Ronin leader before she gasped and fell to the floor with a knife in her back.

The two other soldiers flew at Zander.

"NO!" Ryo yelled. "STOP!"

A second later, both men were dead.

Zander let one of their bodies drop on the floor at his feet, blood dripping from his claws. Ryo saw them for only the slightest second before they disappeared into the long sleeves of his trench coat. But as the demon moved closer, blood continue to drip down, staining the cream colored carpet.

"Madame Tsinge wanted to wish you goodbye." Zander informed. "Personally…but I'm afraid she sent me in her stead."

Ryo lowered into his stance, reading his fists to call on his armor. "You've set Koenma up…didn't you?"

Zander did answer him as he kept coming.

"You want the Ronins and the Spirit Detectives to obliterate each other in the final match, don't you." Ryo hissed. "The Ronin Warriors would sooner die than to give up our armors…and you knew Yusuke and his friends' pride would keep them from losing the most powerful tournament on the face of the planet…"

Zander ripped his dagger from the young woman's lifeless body and kept coming.

"What do you hope to accomplish when the people of the Dynasty resist your invasion force?!" Ryo demanded. "Killing me will not aid your cause when millions of Nether people rise up to stop you." He gritted his teeth. "We've spent six years bringing peace in the wake of Talpa's death…it will take you just as long to conquer the City of Desires and make your bridge to the Mortal Realm!"

The wraith watched as the Ronin Warrior lowered his arms, balling his fists at his side and standing his ground. He set his jaw tight and glared up at the demon in front of him.

People had died to protect him. And more people were going to do the same. He could see the nightmare replay in his mind. Kurama and his friends didn't deserve to suffer such brutal deaths at the hands of this monster. And five miles away, the Ronin leader knew he had almost certainly sent one of his own to his death.

Ryo had wondered for years why people always did what he said…and why they were hell bent on keeping him alive when all he did was put them in danger with his decisions.

Zander glared down at him. "Why don't you run? Why don't you fight?"

Ryo knew he wanted to draw back his fist and bury it into Zander's face. He let out a slow breath before lifting his head up. "You think that in killing me, you will destroy the Ronin Warriors, the Dynasty, and the Mortal Realm." He said coolly. "I am just a symbol. People don't need a symbol as long as they continue to believe in what they think is right."

He smiled a little bit, letting all of his confidence show. "And a symbol can be replaced."

The two warriors stood there in silence for several minutes. Ryo waited for Zander to move, at the same time deciding if he was going to try and save himself or take the blow and forever immortalize those words into his tombstone.

"You have the qualities of a great leader." The demon said.

Ryo didn't move as the dagger came up. His whole body visibly relaxed as he kept his eyes pinned on the demon's. He took a meditated breath and closed his eyes as he saw the arm swing forward.

Cale's claws withdrew again, using one foot to keep the wraith's body on the ground. He closed his eyes against the site of the demon's pock holed head and looked up to the Ronin Warriors waiting to lunge into the ring.

Koto stood mortified, lifting up her microphone to whisper. "The winner is…Cale…by death"

Cale smiled at his comrades, hearing the sound of his sword clattering to the ground beside him. The stadium was silenced in that moment when the warlord passed a knowing look to Sage of Halo and then toppled to the ground in a heap of armor.

With a dagger protruding from his back.

"No…no….CALE!" Cye yelled, lunging into the ring and running. Sage scrambled up with Rowen and hurried after him, with Kento stumbling after them. The four Ronin Warriors flew to their friend's aid, tearing the blade from his back and rolling him over.

"Cale!" Sage yelled. "CALE! Open you eyes!"

"God damn it you old bat! WAKE UP!" Kento bellowed, shaking the warlord's shoulders. "WAKE UP!"

Cye stood there, shaking his head in horror as he held the bloodied blade in his hand. He let it drop to the ground with a clatter and continued to shake his head. "He…He's not…"

Rowen gritted his teeth and closed his eyes. He saw the glint in Halo's eyes as he pulled the warlord's helmet off and threw it across the ring, checking for a pulse.

Koto gulped as she heard Strata whisper under his breath. She lifted up her microphone again. "I'm sorry to announce…that the Warlord of Darkness has…has…"

And her words were cut off as the stadium erupted into a screaming riot.


Shout out to the fans and readers I met at Bakuretsu con! This chapter, long awaited, is dedicated to you! Thanks for the support and the kind words!

Please...don't hate me for the totally cliffhanger ending!!