Author's Note: Before I start this, I would like everyone to know that I'm not especially a Sailor Moon fan. I am using all their American names--like I do the Ronins. This is mostly because all I know about Sailor Moon is what I've seen on Toonami. So please forgive me if I make any major mistakes with the SM continuity. I'm trying my best. This one should take place sometime after the "pure heart crystal" saga. However, you will not be seeing Rini/Mini Moon in this. So again, I'm trying my best with this and crossing my fingers that some die hard Sailor Moon fan doesn't get on my case for writing a sure kill incorrectly or something. .

Also, please note this is not an official sequal to "Demons in the Doorway", only a possible one. If you absolutely cannot stomach an SM crossover, do not worry. I have you in mind as well. You will not miss anything important if you don't read this. The story I do after this will not involve anything that happens here. It will be safe to skip this and pick up when the next story comes out without missing a thing.

Ronins Interrupted

By: Ghost of Dawn

Chapter One: A Coming Storm

"Ready?" Ryo asked as he lit the match.

"Ready," Robyn nodded, her expression serious.

Ryo's hands were steady as he took the tiny flame and lit the fuse connected to the small colored ball in his hand. The fuse sparked to life instantly. The two teens looked excited as Ryo lobbed the ball into an old, decaying log. They stood in anticipation as they waited. Smoke soon began to ooze out of the old log's many cracks. It was followed immediately after by several buzzing and VERY angry hornets.

"Uh oh," Robyn said. "Great idea, Wildfire."

"Shut up and RUN!"

Grandma Sanada, who was reading quietly, looked up from her book when she heard strange sounds coming from the woods adjacent to her back yard. Seconds later, Ryo and Robyn came crashing out of the underbrush with half a dozen enraged hornets at their heels. White Blaze was napping peacefully and lifted his head when he heard their screams as they raced around the house. The great white tiger flicked his ears and gazed up at the older woman.

"Don't look at me that way," Grandma Sanada replied to him. "I don't claim either one of them."

White Blaze yawned and went back to sleep while she went back to her book. The silence returned, but the two didn't get to enjoy it for very long. From around the front came a familiar growl of an unmuffled engine as it stopped in front of the house. The engine was killed and moments later two young men, one with greyish blue hair and one with blonde, came around the back.

"Hey Grandma, what's shakin'?" Kento called when he saw Ryo's Grandmother.

Like how everyone referred to Kento's mother as "Mama Faun", Ryo's grandmother was known to all the boys as "Grandma". Everyone, that is, except Sage who insisted on calling both women by their more respectable titles like he had been raised to do.

"Kento, Sage," Grandma Sanada greeted from her chair. "I was wondering when you were going to get here. Isn't Rowen coming?"

"Eh, he'll be here in a bit. He has some school thing or something to go to first," Kento responded. "Where's everyone else?"

The second the question escaped his mouth, Ryo and Robyn snuck around the other side of the house behind Grandma Sanada. Both were obviously trying to be as quiet as possible and motioned to Sage and Kento not to mention they had been spotted. Curiously, each had a large water gun in their hands.

"Where do you two think you're going?" Grandma Sanada said without turning around.

The two teens first looked surprised that they had been spotted and then their expressions resembled that of a pair of puppies that got caught digging in the trash.

"You better leave those hornets alone. I don't want them having to rebuild their nest anywhere near this house because you two ruined it."

"Aw Grandma, you're no fun," Ryo whined.

"What are we going to do with all this water now?" Robyn joined in.

They looked down at their water guns and then up at Kento and Sage. The two unarmed Ronins recognized that look. Kento had half a mind to take them on, but Sage was already retreating for the house. He was in such a hurry to escape the water fight threatening to happen that he almost smacked into Cye as the bearer of Torrent poked his head out the door.

"Sage," Cye exclaimed, dodging his blonde friend as he opened the door. "You guys came just in time. The food's ready."

Any thoughts of confronting those with the weapons left Kento's mind at that announcement.

"Alright," he cheered as he started for the back porch. "Hey Cye, I thought we were going to have a cook OUT today. Why are you cooking inside?"

"Because, the only one who's family owns an outdoor barbeque didn't bring it, remember?" Cye retorted.

"Hey, it's not my fault the thing's on the fritz," Kento defended.

"Just don't complain about where the food comes from. It tastes fine and we can still eat it outside."

Everyone trooped into the Sanada house to fix themselves a plate of food--Ryo and Robyn only after they had stashed their water guns where no one could find them. Soon, they were all back outside around the old picnic table and eating merrily away. About half way into the meal, a greyish car pulled up in front of the house. The driver wasted hardly any time before dashing into the back yard.

"Hey guys," Rowen called as he waved around a piece of paper in his hand. "Great news! I passed the test!"

"And what test would that be?" Sage asked.

"The test that qualifies me to take the national college entrance exams. If I get one of the highest scores on this thing I can get a full ride scholarship to any college I want."

"Well, congratulations Rowen," Grandma Sanada smiled.

"Hey, isn't that the same thing you dragged Robyn to a few weeks ago," Kento asked, his mouth full of food.

"Yeah, and she passed it, too--barely."

He sounded disappointed at the last word as he handed Robyn a separate piece of paper. She looked over her test scores while chewing on her hamburger.

"Woo hoo! I'm going to Tokyo!" she announced excitedly.

"It's in Tokyo?" Cye asked.

"You bet!" Robyn continued. "An over night stay with all expenses payed. And Rowen's going to drive us so we don't have to ride in any stinky bus."

"You're staying over night with Rowen?" Ryo asked.

"Not in the same room, you pervert!"

Kento snatched up her test scores while Robyn was berating Ryo. Meanwhile, Rowen had gone into the house for some food and had just returned with plate and sat down to join the rest of them.

"I didn't know you were this smart Robyn," Kento commented as he looked the paper over. Cye idly looked at it over Kento's shoulder.

"I'm not," Robyn assured them. "Rowen already said I barely passed it. I just lucked out."

"You could have done better Robyn," Rowen informed her as he stuffed some potato chips into his hamburger bun. "Your problem is you just don't try very hard."

"I try!" Robyn insisted. "Just because I'm not as smart as you."

"You're smart enough."

"Oh yeah? Says who?"

Rowen looked up at her calmly. "What's the atomic mass of Oxygen?"

"15. 9994. But everyone knows that!"

"Uh, huh."

Ryo and Kento looked across the table at each other, wondering if they had been cheated out of some common knowledge.

"You two are going this weekend?" Cye asked.

"Yup," Robyn replied. "Just me and Rowen for two days and a night. It'll be great."

"For me, too," Cye assured them. "I'm killing two birds with one stone by getting you both out of my hair for a while."

Robyn tried to look indignant though she couldn't stop smiling and kicked at Cye beneath the table. The others just laughed.

The city of Tokyo was as full and alive as it had ever been. The sleek, red motorcycle with its two passengers moved about the heavy traffic as much as they were able. Both were wearing helmets which left their faces hard to see. But their figures both suggested they were female--the features of the woman in the back a bit more prominent than the one driving.

"You know Amara," the woman in back stated. "It's strange, but I've almost missed this city. It's been a while since we were here last."

"Enjoy it while you can Michelle," replied the taller woman up front. "I don't plan on staying here long."

They continued on in silence as they drove further into the large city. Amara felt her companion's grip around her waist tighten. She slowed the motorcycle as they neared a large hotel.

"Did you feel that?" Michelle asked barely above the sound of the traffic. "I can hear the ocean. It's crying out that something is wrong."

Amara nodded. She could feel it, too and she wasn't surprised. This was the reason they had come back to this time. Something dark and sinister was coming.

SKREEEEEEKKKKK! CRASH!

The two lurched forward as the car behind them bumped into them. Amara clenched her teeth as she felt Michelle slam into her from behind. She had been so busy with her own thoughts she hadn't noticed she had slowed the motorcycle down. They stopped, as did the car beind them. Lucky for them, the collision wasn't very powerful as the driver in the car managed to slam on his breaks in time so it only tapped the vehicle in front of it. Still, it was enough to jar the two.

Once stopped, Amara quickly checked herself for injuries. Everything felt in tact.

"Michelle, are you okay?" she asked the person behind her.

"Yeah, I'm fine," came the gentle reply.

"Oh my gosh! Are you guys okay?"

A young girl with red hair and wide, green eyes stumbled out of the passenger side of the car. "We're so, so sorry. You're not hurt or anything, are you?"

Amara looked over her shoulder as the driver got out. He was a tall young man with blue hair that fell over his eyes. For the moment, he still looked too startled from the incident to find his voice.

"I think we're both alright," Michelle answered for the two of them.

"Good going Rowen," the girl berated her male companion. "I told you to watch the road!"

"I was," the young man, now finding his voice, defended. "But it's hard to pay attention when you're yakking at me the whole way!"

"Since when did anything I say bother you?"

"It doesn't! But when you're barking orders at me when I'm trying to drive--hey, you two aren't hurt, are you?"

He suddenly changed his tune as he turned to the two women on the motorcycle.

"We're both fine," Michelle assured them again.

"You sure?" Rowen pressed.

"Yes."

"You're not going to find out you have whiplash and sue me later, are you?"

Amara clenched the handle bars as her tolerance faded. They had a job they needed to do. Michelle was giggling softly behind her.

"No, we're--"

"Fine," Amara finished for her. "We'll be fine. Now excuse us." And with that, she revved the engine and took off down the street.

Robyn and Rowen blinked at their sudden exit.

"Oh well," Robyn then shrugged. "At least we made it to the hotel." She motioned to the tall building beside them.

Rowen nodded and they both got in to park the car correctly and then find their rooms.

"Well, that was something new," Michelle commented as they rode on. "Something wrong Amara?" she then asked as she felt her companion's mood darken. "You're not still mad because they accidentally hit us, are you? Don't be. They seemed nice enough. I'm sure they didn't mean it."

"I'm not mad," the blonde woman mumbled into her helmet.

"Those two were kind of cute together," Michelle went on. "The guy wasn't too bad looking either. Did you see those eyes of his?"

"Whatever," came a disgruntled reply.

"Don't tell me you're jealous," Michelle teased. "Don't worry, I don't think he's my type."

That statement managed to bring a small smile on Amara's face. Michelle always had that kind of off beat humor that she liked. She was about to reply when someone caught her eye and she suddenly swerved into an alley. Michelle gave a startled cry as she had to hold onto her partner's waist so not to get thrown off.

"Amara," Michelle protested.

The other woman was quick to shush her. "Look," she said, pointing to a familiar group of girls crossing the busy street towards them.

"Darien's coming back today, I can't wait!" Serena squealed excitedly. Her long, blonde pony tails swished around her as she stepped off the crosswalk and onto the curb. "It's been three whole days since I've seen him! If I have to be away from him for one more day I'm just gonna die!"

"Yeah, yeah," Rei mumbled as she tossed her raven hair out of her eyes. "Where did you say he went again?"

"To visit an aunt, or grandmother, or something," Serena responded. "But in just a few more hours, I'll be back in his arms again." She got a far off look in her eyes as her mind drifted off in a lovely, romantic daydream involving her and her beloved.

Rei huffed at her expression. "Just because you're the only one with a boyfriend..." she muttered.

"Sad, but true," Mina, who had heard, replied.

"Honestly, is that all you girls think about is boys?" Came a muffled voice. The face of a dark furred cat with a crescent moon on her forehead popped out of Serena's backpack. "It's a wonder you get anything done."

"Quiet Luna," Serena retorted. "You're lucky I let you come with us at all."

Defeated, the talking cat sighed and retreated back into her hiding place.

"While talking about boys is a lot of fun," Lita, the tallest of the group, agreed. "Let's not forget why we're here. To support Ami with her college competition." The brunette placed a hand on her shorter companion's shoulder; a girl with short blue hair and gentle blue eyes.

"Thanks again for coming with me to register," Ami said in her usual soft voice. "This place is going to be crowded and noisy. I'm glad I don't have to do it alone."

"Don't worry about it Ami," Mina replied with her usual enthusiasm. "After all, what are friends for?"

Amara and Michelle peered cautiously out of the alley as the chattering girls walked on without noticing them.

"Well, there goes the Crackerjack Crew," Amara commented with a small smile.

"Too bad we can't go talk to them," Michelle lamented. "I miss them, too."

Amara steeled her expression again. "Sorry Michelle, but this time, I think it would be better if we didn't let them know we were here."

Michelle nodded, though reluctantly. Amara started the motorcycle's engine again and the two raced off, back onto the street and in the opposite direction.

"Man, you weren't kidding when you said this place would be crowded," Lita commented as she looked around.

They had just entered the registration building and the place was completely packed with people of every shape and size.

"Well, students from all over Japan will be coming here to participate in the competition," Ami explained as they waited with her in line to get her registration papers. "This is a great opportunity to get scholarships to colleges all over the country."

When it was her turn, she told her name to the man at the front desk. He looked it up on the list he had and then handed her some papers to fill out.

Mina yawned. "Yeah, sure," she said as she and the group followed Ami towards one of the tables where she could fill out her forms. "I just hope with all these students around I can meet some cute and, not to mention, eligible guys."

"Don't get your hopes up, Mina," Rei told her. "This is a brainiac competition remember? Most of the guys here are probably a bunch of four-eyed, zit-faced nerd bombers with the personality of a floor board."

Ami had heard Rei's remarks and was about to correct and educate her about the opposite sex of her social class when she collided with a rather solid body and dropped her papers. The person she ran into lost their papers as well as they seemed equally startled.

"Oh, I'm sorry, excuse me," Ami blushed profusely as she dove to gather her fallen forms.

"Oh, me, too," came a male voice.

He was a tall, thin young man with blue hair falling over amazing crystalline blue eyes. All the girls stared at him as he crouched in front of Ami to help retrieve all the papers.

"I think I'm in love," Rei whispered to Mina.

"Wow, you're running into everyone today, aren't you Rowen," a female voice joked from behind him. It was from a girl about Ami's height with thin, red hair falling over her face. Rowen shot her a dirty look.

"Rowen? Rowen Hashiba?" Ami gasped as she dropped the papers in her hand again.

"Yeah, that's me," he replied as he gathered up the rest of the papers and stood. She stood with him.

"I've heard about you," Ami explained with growing enthusiasm. "Your entrance exam scores were one of the highest ever recorded." She held out her hand to him. "It's so nice to meet someone on the same intelligence level for once."

Ami's friends looked a bit insulted at her gushing statement, but realized she was probably right.

"Same intelligence level?" Rowen wondered blankly as he shook her hand.

"Oh, forgive my rudeness. I'm Ami Mizuno. Perhaps you've heard of me?"

Rowen furrowed his brow as he searched his memory for such a name. It sounded familiar. Where had he seen it before?

"We got the same score in the national scholastic fair last year."

"Oh yeah!" Rowen's face suddenly lit up. "That's you, huh? Well, I wish you luck on the test tomorrow then," he said as he handed her registration papers to her.

"Yeah, you, too," Ami replied.

"Come on 'Genius Boy'," the red haired girl said with sarcasm as she tugged at his arm. "Day light's wasting."

He turned, grinning at her like they shared a kind of comical secret. "Right, see you later." He gave one last wave to the group of girls before disappearing in to the crowd with his female companion.

Rei payed extra close attention to the view of his retreating backside.

"Wow, that guy is hot!" Serena exclaimed, echoing her thoughts. "Did you catch his smile? It's to DIE for!"

"BACK OFF SERENA!" Rei instantly rammed her elbow on top of Serena's head to stop her from drooling. "You already have a boyfriend, remember?"

"Yeah, but I can still look, can't I?" Serena whimpered as she rubbed her head.

"Just remember, I saw him first," Rei growled.

"Whatever!" Mina suddenly jumped in. "And anyway, I think he's more my type, don't you?"

"Well he's more my height," Lita took her turn to argue. "Wouldn't we make the cutest couple? You know, he kind of reminds me of my old--"

"Oh, don't start that again Lita!" Mina cut her off. "You know I would look better with him."

"Calm down you guys," Ami interrupted softly. "I think you're all acting very ridiculous over one guy you've only seen for a few seconds." The girls hung their heads, feeling shallow and ashamed. "Besides," Ami went on. "Technically, I was the one who saw him first and I think we are much better suited for each other than any of you."

"YOU?!" Mina screamed.

"In your dreams!" Rei added.

Luna poked her head out slightly from Serena's back pack. "Here we go again. Pass a relatively cute guy and it never fails."

But anyone hardly stopped to pay attention to the group of arguing girls as they continued yelling at each other in the crowded, noisy building.

Rowen was still grumbling about how they had to fill out those stupid registration papers before they could go to their hotel room as he trudged through the door with his travel bag. Oh well, at least it was a nice room and no noisy, obnoxious roommates to worry about. Some of the students traveling from the different schools went in groups and were packed in up to four per room in the larger suites. But since Rowen and Robyn were traveling alone, each lucked out by getting their own singles.

"Knock, knock," came a voice as two knocks sounded.

Rowen looked around after he had flung his travel bag on the bed. The knock wasn't coming from the door he came in, but from another along the wall next to the tv. Rowen opened it to see Robyn's smiling face.

"Adjacent rooms, not bad, huh?" she grinned.

"Not bad at all," Rowen agreed as he stepped in and looked around her room--even though it was exactly like his. "So what are we going to do for the rest of the day?"

Robyn sat on the edge of her bed and grabbed the phone. "We could check out the room service in this place. We're getting a free ride, might as well milk it for all it's worth. Or we can just prank call some of the rooms in the hotel. I saw some of those preppy loosers from Juan High come over on the bus."

"Or," Rowen said in a low voice as he sat down on the bed beside her. "We could take advantage of the absence of a chaperone and get a little wild and crazy tonight."

Robyn raised an eye brow at his slimly grin as he leaned over as if to kiss her.

"Or," Robyn offered. "I can kick you in the head, steal your car and go back home. Then, two weeks later, I can sue you for sexual harassment during a school event."

Rowen studied her expression for a minute, then moved away.

"Or, we could prepare for that test tomorrow," he announced as if his first suggestion had never entered his thoughts.

"We could do that," Robyn grinned as she stood.

"Great, I brought the study materials," Rowen said as he ran back to his own room. Robyn shook her head. What was she going to do with a character like him?

Rowen came back later with the said "study materials" and dumped a game box labeled "Trivial Pursuit" on Robyn's bed. Robyn sat on the bed cross legged as Rowen started getting out the cards and pieces.

"Why do you always act like that Rowen?" Robyn suddenly shot at him. She didn't have to clarify. It was clear on Rowen's face he knew what she was talking about. "I mean, it was funny the first time maybe, but now it's getting old. I know you used to do stuff like that to make Cye mad, but he's not even here now. Plus he's mellowed out a lot lately. Nothing you say bugs him any more. So why are you always pretending to be such a slime ball? I know you're better than that."

Rowen shrugged loosely. "I dunno. Just gives me something to do, I guess. But I won't do it if you don't want me to."

"I don't," Robyn informed him out right.

"Fine, fine," Rowen raised his hands in defeat. "I'll behave, okay?"

"Wonderful. Now let's play."

Almost an hour of playing had gone by before Rowen readjusted his legs on the bed and sighed noisily.

"I'm done studying, wanna go see the town?"

"Dude, totally!" Robyn confirmed.

She hopped off the bed and went to put her shoes back on. "You have no idea how long I have been waiting to check this city out."

"Well, let's do it then," Rowen announced, motioning to the door. "Sage knows Tokyo more than I do, but I think we'll manage our way around."

Robyn nodded and they headed out of the hotel room.

"You know, I still can't believe you got that Playboy question right," the red head commented as they started down the hall.

"It was a lucky guess!" Rowen kept insisting. "I didn't know for sure! It said a magazine and that was the only one I could think of!"

"Yeah, right," Robyn snorted as she pushed the elevator button. "You probably have every single issue under your mattress and you've got all the articles memorized."

The elevator doors opened and the two walked in.

"There's articles in there?" Rowen wondered out loud.

Robyn punched him in the arm and Rowen managed to get out an indignant "OW!" before the elevator doors closed.

".....But then Grandpa wouldn't let me go until I had all my chores done," Rei continued to gripe. In the background, she was vaguely aware of a continual sobbing sound as she talked. "So I had to wash all the windows and sweep the floors and do this and that." The sobbing sounds were still there. "Sometimes he gets on my nerves so much, I just want to---" Rei paused. Those sobbing sounds were still there. "For crying out loud Serena! What is your problem!?"

Her blonde friend didn't stop or even bother to look up from where she was whimpering into her folded arms.

"Darien couldn't come home tonight," Mina answered for her. She, and the rest of the girls were all situated around their usual table in their favorite restaurant. Lita casually sipped on her soda while patting Serena on the back in an effort to console her.

"Apparently there was some very thick fog at the airport and all the flights were canceled," Ami finished with sympathy in her voice.

"HE PROMISED HE WOULD COME BACK TO ME!" Serena suddenly took on life and started bawling out loud.

"Come on Serena, it's not his fault," Lita offered. "If they hadn't canceled those flights, they could have had some major problems--maybe even crashed. Just be thankful Darien's still okay and that he's coming back tomorrow."

Calmed by her friend's words, Serena's bawling settled to only a few remorseful sniffs. "You're right Lita," she admitted. "I still miss him though."

"Everything will be fine," Mina took her turn to say. "Just eat the ice cream soda we got for you. Ice cream makes everything better!"

Serena looked up at the tall glass of ice cream and her face brightened. In a second, the entire glass was empty. Her friends all sweat dropped at how fast she had eaten while Serena had to admit she did feel a bit better.

Ami was the first to recover from her surprise and glanced at her watch.

"Oh wow, it's getting late you guys, I really should go home and study for that test tomorrow."

"Oh, come on Ami, stay a bit longer," Rei pleaded.

"Yeah, haven't you studied enough already?" Mina shot off. "You already know everything. What would be the point?"

"Please guys, this is the best chance I'll get to go to the college I want," Ami begged. "I may not ever get another chance like this. I want to prepare for it as much as I can."

The group was about to say their reluctant good-byes when Lita suddenly grabbed Mina up in a vicious choke hold.

"That's the guy!" she exclaimed through her teeth, pointing Mina's face towards the door.

As she spoke, the tall, blue haired young man from the registration office and his female companion walked into the cafe. The two were having a lively conversation and laughing about something as they each carried a few bags full of objects from their mall shopping. The group of girls all hid behind their menus as the two walked by and took a seat at a booth at the other side of the restaurant. The two tried to calm down and act normal but then the girl muttered something, causing the young man to break into a snorting fit behind his menu.

"Oh wow, he's as fine as I remember him," Mina swooned with little hearts dancing in her eyes.

"Yeah well, give it up because I've already called first dibs on him," Rei insisted.

"Looks like he's already got a girlfriend, if you ask me," Serena mumbled, causing her two friends to fall over.

"It's a harsh fact of life, the good ones are always taken," Lita lamented.

"Well, maybe she's just a friend or a sister or something," Rei offered as she climbed back into her seat.

The whole group studied the couple across the room. Rowen and Robyn were now sharing an ice cream Sunday. Forgetting their previous attempt to behave in public, each seemed bent on trying to make the other laugh while their mouths were full of ice cream.

"What are they doing over there?" Mina wondered out loud. "Are they flirting or just trying to gross each other out?"

"More importantly," Ami added. "Why are they running around town when they have a test to study for?"

"Maybe they're just taking a break," Serena offered. "I know I couldn't stand studying for that long."

"You can't stand to even bring your books home, let alone study!" Rei shot back.

"I dunno guys, looks like they've been wandering around town all day," Lita put in as she studied their shopping bags.

"Well, if they're smart, they should be heading back to their hotel any minute to study," Ami huffed. "I know he will at least. He's worked too hard just to throw it all away now."

The group stayed and watched the odd couple from their booth to see what would happen next. But Rowen and Robyn showed no signs of urgency or even mentioned the competition. When the ice cream was gone, they finally got up and started out of the little shop.

"Quick guys! Let's follow them!" Mina announced as she practically crawled over Lita's head and the booth to get out.

"Come on Ami!" Rei said as she pulled her blue haired friend out with the rest of them.

The group of girls poked their heads out of the restaurant and looked around the sidewalks curiously.

"There they are," Serena whispered, pointing in the direction they had gone.

"But isn't their hotel the other way?" Lita wondered.

"Where are they going?" Rei asked. "Come on guys, let's find out."

"Honestly," Ami announced. "I really should go back home now and---ah!"

She didn't get much say in the matter as the rest of the girls pulled her along with them on their spy mission.

"So what should we do now?" Robyn wondered as she swung her bags over her shoulder. Her eyes mostly stayed on the tall skyscrapers around them as they journeyed down the sidewalk. "It's getting kind of late. You want to take in a movie or something?"

"Nah, I've had enough wandering around," Rowen said. "How about we rent some videos and watch them back at the room?"

"Sounds good to me."

"Did you hear that?" Rei whispered from where they were all crouched behind some bushes and a bench. "They're just going to goof around all night."

"And they're going back to the hotel to watch some sappy romance movies no doubt," Lita lamented. "They really must be a serious item."

"Who's room are they going back to Rei?" Mina asked. "His or hers?"

"I don't know. He just said "the room"."

"Oh no! They even share a room!" Mina exclaimed. "What a disaster!"

"Excuse me," a new voice called as a red-haired girl appeared over the bench they were hiding behind.

Completely startled, the group gave a collective cry of surprised that they had been found and started flailing around in confusion. Ami was the only one who managed to remain calm.

"Do you know if there's a video store anywhere around here?" Robyn continued, not at all surprised by their reaction.

"On the corner another block down," Ami told her.

"Thanks," Robyn smiled as she left to rejoin her companion and they continued on their way.

The group of girls stared in shocked silence as the couple left.

"AH! They saw us! What is he going to think?" Mina wailed. "How can I ever face him again?"

"Give it a rest Mina, he's already taken," Rei grumbled.

"I still can't believe he's not even going to prepare for the competition at all," Ami said aloud, oblivious to the other conversation. "He's just throwing his future away."

"Well, maybe he's got really pushy parents who have been making him do all this stuff and now he's going to blow the test to get back at them," Lita hypothesized.

"At any rate, that's one less person you have to worry about Ami," Serena grinned. "With that guy out of the picture, you'll win for sure."

"I--I suppose," Ami relented. If that was true, shouldn't she be glad for that? But then why was she still bothered by it?

"Yeah, we got here alright," Robyn told the phone in her room while Rowen was hooking up the VCR they rented to the TV in his room. "Yeah, it's real nice. We've had fun." Long pause. "Well I'm sorry if you've been trying to call all day Cye, but we've been out. We had to go and register and stuff."

Rowen smiled from where he was hunched over the TV. Every once in a while he could pick up snippets of the conversation.

"No, it doesn't take all day," Robyn admitted. "We went out and did other stuff, too. No! We didn't cause any trouble! Yes, we're preparing for the competition."

"Studying real hard!" Rowen called from the other room.

"Hear that?" Robyn told the receiver. "Yes, we're studying. Yes. I know, you believe everything Rowen says. Uh huh. What? I can hear Kento in the background. Tell him to keep it down. Okay. I'll see you then. Night."

Robyn hung up the phone and sighed heavily.

"Always great to get a call from home, isn't it?" Rowen quipped as he stepped into the room, his task finished.

"It was hard to hear," Robyn replied. "I think they're having a party over there without us. And the guys are all coming out tomorrow. I told them we'd meet them at that ice cream shop we went to when the test is over."

"Sounds good," Rowen nodded. "But until then, get ready for a night of award winning performances. Action! Drama! Romance! Suspense!"

Robyn picked up one of the videos. "If you wanted that then why did you rent "Monty Python's Search for the Holy Grail"?"

Rowen grinned. "I like the part with the rabbit."

"Sounds good to me. Let's watch it!"

Now at home, Ami looked up from her text book for the seventh time in the last half hour. What was wrong with her tonight? She just couldn't concentrate. She would try to read the words in front of her, but her thoughts would always turn back to that careless young man she met. What did he think he was doing? Was he really planning on throwing the test? And just why did that bother her so much? She didn't even know him. Perhaps she felt as if he were cheating her out of some healthy competition. Or perhaps she just felt disheartened to see someone with so much potential throw their future away like that.

Either way, Ami couldn't let it get in the way of her studies. She steeled her brain and refocused her concentration, taking on her task with renewed fervor and hoped she would be ready.

The fire crackled and sputtered, but burned steadfastly through the night. Beside it knelt a figure in white robes with long, black hair. Rei chanted softly to herself, as she had done many times before, while staring into the flames. This had become a nightly ritual for her. She would always kneel by the fire before she went to bed.

It was more of a survival skill than a habit for her. They had gone up against too many evils from the Negaverse for her not to do this. So every night, Rei would take it upon herself to check the city for any dark influences that might be around. This night was no different.

Rei basked in the warmth of the fire as her consciousness drifted off to a higher degree of awareness. Her spirit reached out to the far corners of the city in search of anything abnormal. She listened to Tokyo with a heightened sense, making sure nothing slipped past her keen senses. All remained clear and calm and normal. Rei was about to return to her regular level of consciousness when her spirit was suddenly whisked away to some other unknown place.

She couldn't understand or describe what happened. It almost felt like she was being sucked down a drain as she was forced to her new destination. Like a magnet is attracted to metal, she felt herself being pulled towards something else--what exactly, she wasn't sure.

Rei's spirit consciousness looked around the place where she had been brought. She no longer had a clue to where she was. Distance has no meaning on the spirit plane. She could now be anywhere on Earth--on the other side of the planet or even in a whole other galaxy for all she knew.

The dark haired young woman looked around her surroundings. She was in what appeared to be someone's bedroom. It was very well kept. Rei wondered to whom it belonged to. She got her answer when she noticed, sitting in lotus position on the floor, a young man about her age. He had a pale complexion and thick, blonde hair that fell over his right eye. Unbelievably gorgeous, Rei thought. He was dressed in silky royal blue pajamas and sitting before a large candle whose flame burned steadfastly before its master.

Rei was a bit shocked, to say the least. In all her years, she never had this happen. Her grandfather had told her it was possible to meet someone on the spirit plane, but it wasn't very likely. And it wouldn't have happened like this. The meditating young man didn't seem to even sense her presence. He probably wasn't as well practiced as she was. But then, what was he trying to accomplish? Perhaps he had somehow stumbled into a higher level of consciousness without realizing it? But that still didn't explain what Rei was doing in his room.

She studied the young man closer. He was like a statue. Not a muscle quivered, nor hair fell out of place. He seemed almost suspended in time and Rei could sense a strong aura about him. She went closer; he still didn't move. Having no idea where she was, nor an inkling to how she could go back, Rei's spirit merely sat down cross legged in front of him. The large candle burned steadfastly between the two.

The silence in the room was deafening. Rei studied the young man's handsome features a moment longer before closing her eyes. She put all her concentration into reaching out to the person across from her, hoping to some how communicate with him and find why and how she got there. Entering his thoughts, Rei expected to see something resembling that of a wide, open field; as most people's thoughts appear to be when their minds are clear during meditation. But instead of that, everything was dark and Rei was suddenly overwhelmed with a sense of foreboding.

She gasped as she was suddenly pulled into a swirling world of chaos. Smoke filled her nostrils even though she physically wasn't there to smell it. In the distance came the thunder of hooves on the ground and horses whinnied and men cried out savagely. Rei turned around to see a decimated battle field with newly slain bodies filled with arrows and small fires burning around them. What used to be an ancient villiage was now left in ruins and blood from the bodies ran like rivers around her feet. Rei shook her head, wondering who could do such a monstrous thing.

On the hill above her were five colored armors, fighting the last of the men sent to protect their village. The warriors were cut down like wheat beneath the scythe and Rei looked on in horror as another armored figure stood before her. This armor was all black with a red battle mask frozen in a grotesque grin. Stringy, white hair spilled out from behind the mask as the warrior waved his massive sword. Rei gasped when the armored figure looked right at her and in the eye holes glowed an intense, unspeakable evil.

In a heartbeat, the dark haired girl found herself back in front of the candle. She didn't know what she saw but she had a feeling it was something she was not supposed to see. Rei gazed over at the young man still sitting where she had left him. She looked into his face and his eye suddenly snapped open. The intense, violet iris stared right at her. He knew she was there.

A great force suddenly pushed her and Rei was plunged back home into her old body before she knew what hit her. The force of the return was enough to knock her down and she fell startlingly close to the fire burning in front of her. But Rei hardly noticed, all she could think about was that young man and the evil he somehow seemed connected to.

Clouds slowly rolled in towards the city of Tokyo. Thick, smothering clouds such had never been seen before. On a hill overlooking the city, two figures watched as the greyish mass moved forward; as if intent on swallowing everything in its path.

The taller blonde woman turned to her companion with the long, wavy green hair.

"Here it comes," she spoke. "It's time."