The Moonless Night: Hey guys! This is the first fan-fic I have ever posted and I would really enjoy a few reviews to let me know how it is. As to the story itself, it is the result of an all-night vigil with a dying pet so it is a bit more the sad. I had to get my emotions out somehow, so I threw Cye and Sage into some pretty insane situations. There is nothing like a little Torrent torment to keep one sane! (Cye fans, please don't flame me until you read the whole text. Things might not be what they seem.) Read and Review!

An End to All Things

        Sage ran to the still form, an odd mix of fear and despair welling up inside him. Just how could this of happened? Why was it happening? He didn't know anymore and it didn't really matter. All that was important now was what lay before him...the motionless figure that was one Cye Mouri.

        Dropping his sword and coming to his knees, Sage knelt beside his friend. Tears tracing their way down his cheeks before he could stop them. The others would be there soon and he needed to be strong for them. He had to be...but he couldn't help himself. Through the power of his armor, he could feel Cye's life slowly seeping away through a dozen different wounds.... All adding up to an injury he wouldn't be able to heal in time.

        That youja had been stronger than the rest and it had carried a weapon unlike any Sage had seen before. A kind of curved katana that all but dripped a searing, acidic poison from its blade, and now the poison had infected Cye trough every scrape and gash he had received. He would make the Dynasty pay for this; they would pay dearly for what they had done to his friend.

        "I tried." Sage whispered. "He was just too fast for me. Cye...I...I tired to warn you. I really tried!"

        "Sage?" Cye's soft voice caught slightly as he spoke. "I heard you, just couldn't do anything.... Wasn't fast enough cough . Did you get him for me? Is the youja gone?"

        Swallowing hard to keep his voice from cracking, Sage answered. "I got him, Cye. There's one less Dynasty creep out there in the world, but there are so many more. Come on, Cye! You have to fight this!"

        Cye coughed again, an even harsher sound than the last and shook his head. "Some things you just can't fight. Beat the Dynasty. Show Talpa that he can never have this world." Another painful sounding cough followed by a shuddering breath. "Don't let them win. Show them all what it means to be Ronin."

        Sage nodded and took his friend's hand. "You have my word, Cye, on all that ever was or will be that I will make them pay. They will rue the day that dared to raise a sword against the Ronin Warriors."

        Cye nodded and a faint smile played across his lips. "Tell the guys that I'll be watching." Torrent whispered, his voice growing weaker as the poison spread. Each beat of his heart bringing him closer to the brink. "To the end of time itself, I will be there.... Tell them...tell Kento that...I...will always...."

        Mouri's eyes drifted closed and the world grew silent and still. As quick as thought, Sage was out of his armor and pressing an ear to Cye's chest. Listening intently for the faintest stir of breath or beat of heart. None were to be found.

        Closing his eyes, Sage wept.

        Sage was drifting on the tide, swept two and fro on its endless waves, caught somewhere between a whirlpool and a far distant shore with no way out. Just how could this of happened? Why was it happening? He didn't know anymore and it didn't really matter. All that was important now was what lay before him....

        "Sage!" Someone cried. "Come on, now. Open your eyes!"

        "Come on man, don't do this to us!" Another voice, this one verging on frantic.

        "Get out of the way, you Ronin whelp and let me through!" A moment of silence before a hand was pressed to Sage's side and then to his chest. Seconds later, the sound of a relieved sigh. "He still breathes and his heart is strong. His wounds will need to be tended to but he will live.

        "You on the other hand, Rowen of the Strata, will not be so fortunate if you tamper with my potions again! Your meddling has destroyed Mia's kitchen and could very well have killed both you and Halo."

        "I didn't realize your 'potion' was in the fridge you green haired, bug-eyed-!" Rowen yelled.

        Sehkmet cut in, yelling twice as loud. "Be quiet you wretched little smurf! If you hadn't-!"

        Fighting again. Why were those two always fighting? And just what was going on here? Wasn't he just battling the youja with Cye and...Cye! Where was Cye?

        Cracking open an eye, Sage peered past the arguing pair to a figure that was half buried beneath the remains of the kitchen's wall. A figure that had gone unnoticed by everyone else. Cye Mouri.

        "Cye. Someone help Cye." Sage managed to whisper.

        It is strange how even a whisper from the right person can bring silence to a room. Sehkmet was kneeling over Sage in a heartbeat, peering down at him with a worried expression on his face. "Seiji? How do you feel? Are you in any pain?"

        Ignoring the question, Sage moved to get up only to be pushed back down by Sehkmet. "No, please!" He panted through a sudden wave of pain. Not his, Halo realized, but that of the youngest Ronin who lay trapped beneath the wall. "Cye is hurt, he needs help. Please, I have to-." Halo gasped as a sudden white-hot agony seared his chest, stealing the breath from his lungs and seizing his heart with an icy, deadly grip.

        Yet again, it was the suffering of the trapped warrior shared through the 'gift' of the armor of Halo.

        Right now, all Sage could call that 'gift' was a curse. So much pain...too much to stand. How was Mouri still breathing? How was he, for that matter? Hot tears traced their way down his cheeks as Seiji forced himself to speak, "No more...please make it stop! Cye, no more! Stop it!"

        The one time warlord of venom pressed a hand to Sage's chest as he had done before, only this time there was a strange sense of warmth that flowed through his touch. It was the touch of a healer, not unlike Seiji's own save for the fact that this one wasn't welcome.

        As the pain eased away and his heart took on a more normal rhythm, Sage found himself drifting again. Caught somewhere between a whirlpool and the shore with no way out, but then, just as quickly as the vision had come...it was gone. Blinking his steel gray eyes in surprise, Sage found himself starring up into the worried face of Naaza (otherwise known as Sehkmet).

The truth behind the dreams:

        Dark clouds covered the moon in their blanket and the night air hung thick with the threat of a coming storm. The wind howled though the trees with incredible speed, lapping at the nearby stream and pelting its spray against the Ronin's cabin tent with a thunderous roar. All of which amounted to nothing as far as the Ronin Warriors were concerned.

        Two of their number had been injured in this storm, one seriously. Well, it was mainly the storm...the rest of the blame lay on a dolphin that had been tangled in the bays' fishing nets. Neither of the wounded boys could have abided its unnecessary death, so they had gone out in a boat to save it...succeeding in their task just in time for the storm to blow in.

        The waves the storm caused capsized the small boat somewhere between the shore and one of the whirlpools that had once sheltered the armor of Torrent at their core. Stranding the two out in the waters of a raging tempest. A fact the other Ronins had known as soon as it occurred thanks to the almost telepathic link that all of them shared.

        It had taken time for them to find their companions, washed up on the shores of the bay but, now that those two were safe, nothing the storm did mattered....

        Cye was the luckier of the two, receiving only a few scrapes for his troubles, and as for the second warrior.... Sage wasn't doing so well.

        Lacking Cye's abilities in the water, Seiji had spent most of the ordeal fighting for a single breath of anything but water. By the time Cye managed to drag his friend from the pounding surf, he had thought it was too late. If not for the presence of Sehkmet in the waiting group of Ronins, it probably would have been.

        As soon as Halo was laid before him, Naaza had set to work. Recruiting Strata as his assistant, he set about the labor that had earned him a new title in the world. He was no longer the Warlord of Venom, but the one and only Dr. Naaza Sehkmet of Tokyo's finest hospital. It was a name that was well earned by the man who had once thought bringing pain and death such a joy.

        Rowen's grim announcements of "he isn't breathing" and "I can't find a pulse" brought tears to Sehkmet's eyes even as they were said, but that didn't stop him. Quickly snapping the buttons from Seiji's shirt to expose bare skin, Naaza pressed his ear to the boy's chest and listened. After a moment or so, he smiled.

        "No, Rowen. He still lives. The water's chill has slowed his breath and his heart, but he lives." He gently picked up Halo's unconscious body and headed for the shelter of their forest camp.

        "Where are you taking him?" Rowen asked, jogging up beside the green haired man.

        "Back to camp. If we can warm his body Halo will regain consciousness, but it must be done slowly. Too quickly and he will go into shock. Even if he doesn't, I fear that he will not survive the night."

        And so, they waited. Huddled together in their tent watching for any signs of life from the young blonde that lay before them. Hoping against all odds that they would once again see those gray eyes open and see him smile. Praying that Seiji Date, warrior of life, would beat the odds and just keep breathing.

        Blinking his eyes open and fighting to see through the cloud that blurred his vision, Sage found himself gazing up into the worried face of Naaza. "Seiji? How do you feel? Are you in any pain?" Sehkmet asked, taking Sage's hand.

        Working his mouth soundlessly for a moment, Sage managed a squeak or two before he finally got any words to form. "No pain. Just no voice, Naaza." He said in a low, hoarse whisper. "Thirsty though. yawn and so tired."

        "Then sleep Ronin. You've already swallowed half the bay today. I don't intend to let you swallow more until you have given your body time to recover."

        Sage smiled and half chocked on what might have been quiet laughter if not for the harsh sound of it. It also brought up some of that bay water Naaza had been talking about. In one smooth motion, Sehkmet had Sage on his side was patting his back with a cupped hand, an action that brought up the rest of the water from Seiji's lungs.

        After several huge breaths of air and few 'dry' coughs, Sehkmet smiled. "That feels better now, doesn't it, Halo?"

        Sage glared at Sehkmet for a moment before sighing and slowly nodding his head. "Really did swallow half the bay, didn't I?" He said, his voice slightly stronger than it was before. "And all because of Cye's little friend.... Cye! Is he all right?"

        Naaza's smile broadened and he nodded. "Torrent was in his element, unlike you. He is right beside you, Halo. Be still for a moment and you will hear his breathing, maybe even his heart beat the way it has been hammering away. He has been quite concerned for your well being...terrified actually if my guess is right.

        "He kept waking up in cold sweats, yammering on about some strange nightmare where he heard you crying and asking him to 'stop it'. Whatever 'it' was, it scared the lad worse than a mouse being dropped into a snake's cage."

        Sage murmured through clenched teeth and closed his eyes tightly, "Oh, please no."

        "Are you all right, Sage? If you are in any discomfort at all, please tell me. I can't sense it in you, like the others. Our powers must be too similar.... Please Seiji, tell me what is wrong."

        Sage sighed and shook his head. "Those were my dreams, Naaza. Cye was in my nightmares. I must have shared them through our bond somehow."

        Halo's free hand that lay on his bare chest clenched into a white-knuckled fist as he thought of the images of his dreams. As he once again lived through the horror of feeling Cye's life ebb away; as he relived the terror of feeling his own heart slowing thanks to some trick of their mental link.... "Do you want to know why he was afraid, Naaza? He was afraid because I was afraid for him. I watched him die a slow and painful death that no one deserves, knowing that there was nothing I could do to help him. I watched it happen more than once.

        "I felt so helpless! I still do. Does it ever get any easier, Sehkmet...watching someone die?"

        By the end of his tirade, Sage's voice was all but gone and he was completely out of breath. Not to mention more than a little pale and shaky. The very thought of Cye living through the horror of those dreams was enough to make anyone feel ill.

        With a sigh, Naaza shook his head. "No, but why do you worry, Ronin? I can tell from here that Mouri is alive." Just to emphasize his words, Naaza took Sage's hand and pressed two of Halo's fingers to Cye's neck. "Do you see, Sage of the Halo? He breathes and his pulse is steady, even more so than the last time I checked. It seems his nightmares are over."

        "But he...I.... You didn't see what I did, Sehkmet. You didn't feel it. No one should ever go through that. Not even in a dream." Sage said, a single tear tracing its way down his check.

        Sehkmet sighed again and shook his head, releasing his grip on Sage's hand. "There is something you must learn, Sage, if you wish to be a healer some day. All things have an end. Every road you take, every choice made...it all eventually leads to one thing...to the end. Everything dies sooner or later, Sage. Just as surely as new things are born. And this doesn't just apply to living creatures.

        "It applies to other things, like dreams or nightmares. They may be bad while you're in them but you have to wake some time. Everything has an end...absolutely everything."

        The tent grew quiet then, save for the breathing of all those present. Sage listened to it all for a few moments; letting those simple sounds sink into his soul and calm his troubled mind. Taking in the sounds of the slow even respiration of Ryo's sleep and of Rowen's soft snores. Of Kento's louder snores and, finally, to the soft, easy breaths of the youngest Ronin.

        Sage focused for a moment on the rhythms of his own body, willing the chaos he found into a more normal cadence. Only upon succeeding did Sage speak, his voice little more than a whisper in the dark. "There is one thing that doesn't have an end to it, Naaza. One thing that will always exist, no matter what."

        "And what is that, Halo?"

        "Neochi, Naaza. The spirit of life that breathes within every living thing in the universe will never die. I know it won't because it can't. Once created, no spirit can ever be killed. Not by any force in the cosmos."

        Sehkmet smiled and nodded his head. "Then you have learned well, Sage, for that is the lesson I wished to teach you. Close your eyes now and get some rest. You have been through a lot today and we both need some sleep. Sleep well, Seiji Date, and wake come morning light."

        "Good night." Sage whispered through a muffled yawn. Without another word, Sage closed his eyes. Content in the fact that all things in life had an end save one....

        The spirit within everyone, indeed, life itself was everlasting.

The Moonless Night: There it is guys, my first fanfiction. Let me know what you think.  Oh, and for everyone's future reference:  I only post completed stories, so updates may be few and far between.  I absolutely hate it when people post a tantalizing chapter or two and never finish what they started!  Consider this a promise that I will never do that.  Ja Ne!