Disclaimer: Shaman King and its characters belong to Hiroyuki Takei, not me.

Author's Notes: This is an alternate universe based on the Shaman King anime, aside from the fact that I am using dates from the manga.

WARNING! There be spoilers ahead!

Prologue: A Shaman From California

It started innocently enough. A thirteen year old girl was walking home from school. She had dirty blond hair, slightly passed her shoulders with randomly lengthed bangs and her eyes couldn't seem to decide whether they wanted to be blue or green. She was dressed in blue jeans and a silver tanktop, with a navy blue, hooded sweatshirt tied around her waist. At first glance, she certainly looked ordinary enough. Upon closer inspection however, she wasn't just walking home from school.

"Crystal, are you absolutely sure that it's safe to practice that right now?" asked what appeared to be a kitten with metallic black fur traveling alongside the girl.

The wind picked up underneath her as Crystal leapt several meters into the air. After about a minutes of going straight up, she came down at an angle and landed a considerable distance ahead of where she had previously been standing. She turned back and grinned at the kitten. "Taki-chan, don't worry. It isn't like there are any cars around right now, so it's a good chance for me to practice somewhere besides the waterfall. Now, I better hurry up. Digimon goes on in fifteen minutes!"

Takikoneko sweatdropped. "Anything to get home in time for your favorite show, right?"

"I need some kind of motivation, don't I?" Crystal took to the air again. On her way back to the ground, something hit her from above. It appeared to be some kind of fireball. Crystal didn't get a chance to acknowledge why it was that this object hadn't burned her, because she was unconscious before she hit the ground.

"Crystal!" Takikoneko ran toward her fallen companion.

Crystal woke up in what was the lower bunk of her own bedroom. As she sat up and made to climb out of the bed, she noticed that there were other people in the room. Hao and several of his number were there.

"Ah, you're awake." Hao smiled pleasantly and extended a hand to help her up.

Crystal accepted the offered hand, a look of confusion on her face. With her other hand she rubbed the back of her head as a painful throb jarred her memory. "Did someone get the number of that truck?"

Takikoneko was being restrained by Opacho. "These people attacked you!"

"Calm down. Clearly it was some kind of misunderstanding." Crystal calmly waved this information off with a passive smile on her face.

"Indeed, some of my followers here were bored and thought you might be a participant in the Shaman Fight. Sorry about that." Hao confirmed Taki's accusation.

Crystal raised an eyebrow. "Shaman Fight? There is such a thing?"

"You should head to Tokyo. I think you might have what it takes to do well in the competition." Hao nodded. He waved the rest of the assembled group to follow him out of the room and just like that, he was gone.

Several months later Hao first revealed himself to Yoh and company at the airport before they departed to America to search for Patch Village. After swatting the lot of them like flies, he prepared to leave on the Spirit of Fire along with his followers. He was actually surprised when what seemed to be a stream of fire, ice, and lightning struck him from behind. This was the second time he would meet the girl called Crystal.

"I actually felt that one. You could be useful." Hao looked amused by the attack.

Crystal shrugged. "I wasn't trying to impress you."

Just the same, Crystal and Taki were carried off toward America on the Spirit of Fire with Hao and his followers. Things had taken a turn for the bizzare.

"Why would you want me to stay in this town and wait for Yoh and his friends?" asked Crystal sitting at a table in the local cafe.

Hao had the usual pleasant smile on his face, but his tone held indifference. "While you don't support the future I plan to create, you are still a powerful shaman. If you team up with Yoh and his friends, I have no doubt that they will reach Patch Village. You might also be a good indicator of how much Yoh needs to improve if he hopes to be any kind of challenge when I do fight with him."

"I see." Crystal nodded. "Then this will be where we part ways."

"There's something else... hold out your hand." Hao spoke with less seriousness. Crystal blinked, momentarily puzzled, but then did as she was instructed, holding out her left hand. Hao tied a bracelet of red with a yellow star pattern around her wrist. "I would prefer that you keep yourself alive."

Crystal nodded. "That makes two of us."

"Three," piped Takikoneko from Crystal's lap.

"Alright, three." Crystal smiled her usual passive smile. "I guess we just take it easy until Yoh and his friends arrive then."

Hao started toward the door. He paused, looking over his shoulder. "Good luck." Then he left the cafe and soon the population of the town was lacking in a certain homicidal shaman and his band of followers. Crystal and Taki left the cafe a few minutes later, Crystal having decided she'd rather spend the rest of her free time sitting in a tree at the local park.

"I should have known free information came at a price!" Crystal ducked out of a building followed by what appeared to be some kind of large shadowy monster. It was hard to tell what it was, considering the creature wasn't maintaining any kind of constant shape.

Taki looked back from several paces ahead of Crystal and shrieked. "Here it comes again!"

"Kau Kau Fri Wenfu!" The shadow creature was trapped within the wall of ice that formed from Horohoro's Icicle Assault. This gave Crystal and Taki a moment to sweatdrop, wondering why neither of them had thought to use an Oversoul in dealing with the monster in question.

Crystal was somewhat more embarassed about having been saved from something that now looked like a pitiful excuse for a monster. "I was running from that?"

"Funny how that works." Taki whistled innocently. "I told you it wasn't dangerous."

There was a shattering sound, like that of breaking glass. The shadowy monster escaped from its icy prison and lunged at them again. Crystal snatched up Taki in one hand and dived out of the way. "You were saying?!"

"Chuuka Zanmai!" Ren's Vorpal Dance not only caught the creature by surprise, but also seemingly caused it to disintegrate into dust.

Crystal got up from where she and Taki had become well acquainted with the ground and dusted herself off. "What I'd like to know is why that thing was attacking us anyway."

"It must have been some kind of trap," supplied Yoh.

Crystal looked around and took note of the fact that the group she and Taki had spent the last few days waiting for had finally arrived. Takikoneko sidled up the leg of her pants and made her way to Crystal's shoulder where she took to perching.

"You made it through the preliminary round of the Shaman Fight?" Ren made this comment while indicating the electric blue oracle bell that was attached to Crystal's right arm, with an almost mocking tone.

Twitch. That got Crystal going again. "That thing surprised me. If I'd had the time to analyze that thing to find a weakness, I would have beaten it easily!"

"So, are you alone?" asked Horohoro suddenly. Crystal had somehow managed to forget the others were even there when she started ranting at Ren for that last comment.

Crystal decided it would be best if she didn't try to explain that she had been traveling with Hao and his followers up until a few days ago. After all, that would mean having to explain that she knew what he was planning and that she didn't support him, but that she didn't hate or fear him for reasons that even she couldn't really explain.

"You're with Hao, aren't you?" Lyserg asked darkly. He was looking at the bracelet.

Crystal sighed. So much for keeping a low profile. "I'm not with anyone. The thing is--" She paused. "Give me half an hour, and I think I might be able to explain."

And so, Crystal and Taki ended up joining Yoh and his friends as they made their way toward Patch Village.

To Be Continued...

Crystal Mizuka

Age 13

Birthday: January 8, 1986

Star Sign: Capricorn

Blood Type: O

Details: A relatively laidback and optimistic girl from California, she has always been more into playing games and making up stories than actually taking life seriously. Others simply didn't like her because she was different, but she didn't really hold it against them as she connected better with nature than with people. Those that did accept her generally viewed her as a leader simply because she took their scrambled ideas and made things happen. Unknown to her, she had a strong connection to the world of spirits from a young age. Crystal is a character of my own invention.


Age Unknown

Birthday: Unknown, although she has taken to celebrating on January 25th

Details: The shape-shifting, hyper spirit of a waterfall in Crystal's hometown, she has a talent for getting into trouble with her energetic personality. As an Oversoul, Crystal generally uses wooden or plastic swords and doesn't really favor real weapons. Once in Oversoul, Taki connects with Crystal's imagination to cause some really unusual, totally random attacks. This character is based entirely on my friend and fellow authoress, Cat. Perhaps you've seen Crystal in her Inuyasha Sleepover Fanfic.

The Dubbed Terminology Guide

Hao -- Zeke

Horohoro -- Trey

Manta -- Morty

Patch Village -- Dobe Village

Ren -- Len

Ryu -- Rio