Ch29 Fighting to be found

"… The clans would find it most distasteful if you took her by force just to prove a point."

Hogosha was flanked by Cavalier, who was carrying a suitcase and a large garment bag. Amaris couldn't read his face, but she felt the waves of a need for violence radiating from him. Anzen gave the pair small smile as Hogosha added, "Besides the fact you are not her true guardian anyway."

A white blur came into Amaris' field of vision as it gripped the tengu's hands away from her and pulled her roughly away. Her burnt leg was none too happy about her pulled across the slightly rough mat and hauled upright as she took a good look at her savior.

She took in the large furred body that got between herself and the now changing tengu, instantly recognizing the dark patterns of someone who was not Anzan.

"Ebion." Her voice darkened as she kept an eye on the form between her and the tengu who tormented her as a child. The back in front of her was expansive and the fur white and bristling. She took note of the tail that was in a mid-level to the hips; it was a canine tail. She looked further ahead and took note of the ears and head that had a longer set of white fur.

"Deciever.." It was the first time she'd heard Paladin speak, it was low and deep in the throat- a promise of violence in his tones as he faced the smug humaniod.

"I was only acting on how her guardian felt." He shrugged as he got to his feet. "A mere slip of a side effect being I haven't been near the head of the house in quite awhile. My apologises hime."

"Ebion." Hogosha voice revealed that he was not pleased as he passed the threshhold. "What are you doing here? Last heard, you had left the secondary house several years ago."

"Should we be discussing this in front of the Hiun no Hime? After all, we have omitted much from her as it is."

"Anzen has decided on bunin, Ebion. He has decided to hide nothing from her." The old man's eyes narrowed dangerously as he walked to the white beast's side.

"You mean koukyuu." He gave the petite woman a look that she didn't like, as if he was stripping her naked. "If she had chosen me she wouldn't be a consort."

'Choose?' Amaris took a step back and found Cavalier at her side, hand on her shoulder and giving it a gentle squeeze. 'What does he mean?'

"Don't listen to him Princesa." Cavalier kept his eyes on the man who was still in the grip of his brother.

"Shut it mutts." Ebion growled as vicious winds tried to force there way into the outer doors. Amaris' temper began to rise at this insult. She was injured, was almost sexually assaulted and had been blinded in so many ways about so many things it was making a slow boil in her blood that her body involuntarily began shaking; her left hand and third finger the most. "You're nothing but a pair of stupid Lycans who are nothing more than the princess' pets. Mongrel pets shouldn't be-"

"Silence tengu!" Amari's voice snapped to draw everyone's attention. "You will cease this insulting tirade and leave this place at once! "

Ebion's winds died without his knowledge as the white beast released his wrist; he fell on his knees, bowing deeply before rising and leaving; his feet making him leave out the main door where Anzen, smoking outside, caught sight of him.

As Ebion became more in control of his winds and body; he gave Ansen a wicked grin before disappearing into the evening.

Anzen snuffed out his cigarette on the canister nearby before heading to Kane's room at a brisk trot.

Amaris's shakiness subsided as three pairs of eyes turned to look at her. Hogosha heaved a sigh and seated himself on the tatami mat. Cavalier grasped her elbow to steady her, his eyes gave a look of complete shock.

"Too fast, too fast." She heard old man mutter softly, "It's all going too fast.."

"Sir?" Amaris bent her knees, her burned skin complaining. She wanted to say something more, but just looked into the old man's eyes to study him. It was as if she had the feeling that she would never see him again, and that made a twinge of sadness hurt her heart. She bowed deeply in her stance, her hands slightly out from her head as she bent it low to the floor.

"I plead your forgiveness for all the trouble I have caused you. I thank you for your many courtesies and care. You have taught me much about life, and to defend life at your own expense. May you reach the happiness you so deserve for your services."

The old man swallowed hard as she finished, his hands gripped in fists. His wife had been right, it had been hard not to think of this girl as his one of his own. His mission was accomplished, but he wanted to be sure of one thing before hand.

"Kane, meet me again in the west wing. There is a dojo there. I will see if you have truly changed and can defend what you believe is right. Should you succeed in convincing me. I will reward you." He shifted up and walked out, sliding the door shut behind him.

"A dojo?" Cavalier chewed the corner of his lip absently. "Does that mean he..? That he wants a..?" He saw her subtle nod. "But you could hurt him."

"The score between he and I is 597 to 5" She rose up to her feet and walked towards the hulking white form that was Paladin, who was seated in the far corner in his large form. She noted that he seemed very quiet and shy.

"He doesn't like being in that form." Cavalier didn't explain why. It was his brother's need to say.

"Paladin.." She gently touched the side of his canine face. The muzzle was slightly longer, giving him a more wolf-like appearance. She moved to gently scratch the back of his ear, causing his now blue eyes to close. He put his big hand over the one scratching his ears.

"OK?" He still wouldn't meet her eyes. His voice seemed to ask a lot in that one word.

"Do you mean am I ok?" Amaris asked, "Or am I ok with your form?"

The latter question caused a soft whine to escape his throat. He felt her other hand come under his jaw, lifting to his head to meet with her eyes.

"Paradin no baka.." Amaris said before bringing his forehead to hers, wrapping her arms around his neck and scuffing his ears. She heard a thumping and realized it was his tail wagging.

"Oh I show up naked. I get yelled at!" Cavalier muttered loudly setting up the suitcase in the closet. "He shows up naked and he gets cuddles! I call bias!"


"Well that was ah.. *ahem"

"Educational experience?" Charley said as they all headed back to pick up her truck. She had been surprised. Usually you couldn't keep Vinnie's trap shut, but for some reason the white mouse was strangely subdued throughout the visit. As they left her mother's house, the elder woman grasped her daughters shoulder before she could go passed the doorway.

"Be careful Charley. Give me a call every once in awhile, ok?" Andy tried to hide the worry, but this was her only daughter. The last bit of Chance she had in her life and she was just like her father. Her daughter must have seen something and grabbed the older woman into a tight hug. "I will mom."

"By the way" He mother whispered in her ear. "I thought you said the white one, Vinnie, was a loud mouth. Anything wrong?"

"Don't know.." Charley whispered back. "But I'll find out once we get Amaris back."

"Go and bring her home baby." Andy broke away from her daughter, gently brushing her daughters cheek. 'So like her daddy..'

"As for you three!" Andy placed her hands on her hips, giving them a look that caused the mice to snap into attention. "Y'all better bring that girl back home y'hear? And I want a full report when you get back. Nothin' less will do. Got it?"

"Yes Ms. Andy." Modo grinned as he put his helmet on.

"Don't need to tell us twice, ma'am." Throttle gave her a hopeful smile. "It might take some time, but we'll catch up to her."

"Count on it." Vinnie seemed to have gotten his voice back, but his ego didn't seem to show.

Andy nodded as she watched Charlene get behind the white mouse on the red racer. She thought she saw her daughter talk to the mouse, only for his hand to just pat hers and roll out along with the other's.

Andy casted her eyes to the red setting sun. "Chance, look after our baby. She going to need all the help she can get."

They rode in silence for awhile until they got to the truck, which was now filled with stuff. "What in the world?"

"He left all her stuff behind. Figured we could take some stuff now to give her a chance to filter it herself." Modo checked the strapping to make sure nothing would fall out.

Charley sighed and shook her head. "OK so lets see where Mr. Hogosha's at now.." She grabbed the tracker and checked the screen, tapping occasionally and frowning. "The car's at O'Hare airport. But it's been there for hours."

"You didn't put a second?" Throttle looked at Vinnie, whose ears had drooped answering his question.

"Something at the airport can probably give us a clue." Charley thought loudly. "I'll head to the airport, but if you guys need to get to Mars ASAP then you have to find a transporter."

"Lets split up then. If nothing shows up meet at the garage in 6 hours. Keep in touch intermittently and make sure the bike keep a log to where we've been." Throttle revved up his bike. "Now let's Rock and Ride!"

Amaris found that he had packed her old gi in the suitcase and got dressed. As she pushed back her hair, she noticed something. "Hey guys.." She called out as began looking for a mirror. "Has my hair gotten .. Longer? And have you seen a mirror? There was one in this room awhile ago.."

"It's seems a bit.. Longish.." Who was Cavalier kidding? Her hair had grown suddenly in the last hour by at least 6 inches. Now as he looked at her it had now gone past her shoulder blades.

The petite woman sighed. "Man I wish I had something to pull this back.. Look at it! I can make a braid!"

"Um.." Cavalier looked around, but Paladin beat him to the punch, finding a ribbon and placing it in his brother's hand. "Here this should help. A-allow me."

Amaris turned allowing him to pull up her hair. She felt his nails and fingertips gently move through her scalp as he wrapped the ribbon up.

"There. Are you sure about this?" Cavalier had put her hair up into a bun and opened the sliding door; following her to the west wing along with Paladin, who was now in normal dog form.

"You mean the sparing match?" Amaris bit her lip, her green eyes darkening a bit. She was under practiced and wounded; two strikes that were against her and the big third one: the fact that she hated fighting. But there was no turning back on the knowledge that she needed to be stronger. There were people looking for her, fighting perhaps to find her and she could do no less for herself. Drawing a deep breath she met her guard's eyes, "Yes. I'm fighting for myself."

Cavalier nodded in acknowledgement as he grasped the grip of the door to the dojo. "Very well my lady. Your bout awaits you."

She walked inside, finding that Hogosha was waiting along with Anzen who was by the wall. Some alarm went off in the back of her mind that this was no sparing session. She sat on her knees across from her teacher and guardian, trying to ignore the pain of the burned skin; which felt like a tight, swollen pull.

"I am nothing more than a witness to these events between master and student." Anzen announced as her guards came in and sat on the opposite side of the dojo. "You may begin when ready."

Leontas was exhausted from the flight and the waves of emotions. It seemed the closer he got to Amaris, the stronger the emotions were. At the moment it felt very.. Calm. And that was a cause to hurry.

He found a place with tiles on the roof and a tall wall. There was wind chimes hanging in a corner of the foyer and past the glass door, there seemed to be paper screens.

He lost flight for a moment as a wave of intense panic hit him in his stomach. He coughed violently, landing on the ground hard.

"I hear Earth females are emotional, but this-"

Shakily he got to his feet and followed the direction of his pain. It wasn't far from where he was, but he had to keep hidden because he sensed that there was a lot of people, but they weren't in plain sight. Hearing signs of a fight, Leontes perched himself on a roof on the opposite side to see what was going on.

He felt a slight panic he saw her. She was breathing heavily, tendrils of hair clinging to her face. He could feel her determination through the tiny thread between them as she dodged the hit of a man with grey hair; he saw that it was a feign that connected to her solar plexus. He heard the wood crack as her back connected to the wall. He heard a distressed voice call out her name as she slid down the wall, and she silenced it with a raise of her hand. Swiftly she moved from her crouched position and gave a battle cry as she moved forwards and out of his sight.

'Why? Why are you fighting so hard? Why fight when you have others to fight for you?' he wondered as he heard more movement and then saw her land on the floor on her back.

"Protect myself. Protect others from myself. Protect what is right.'' The fighting Vet's voice came to his mind with the answer, but it left him with more questions.

He watched, too weak to break up the fight, but relieved that he'd found her.

She was getting irritated at that face of his. Flipping upright from a throw, she studied him. Amaris had to admit, five wins was a fluke. Or was it on purpose? She studied his movements as he kept his stance; did none of her hits cause him to back down? She looked at the old mans leg, knowing better than to believe that limp of his. She dodged several punches and blocked a surprise kick when she noticed that right shoulder wasn't moving right. She suddenly moved to attack his lower left and as he blocked it, she made a kick to the upper right to his ribs. She felt the ribs contract on the top of her foot for just a moment before pulling back and hitting him square on the chest.

Hogosha gripped her ankle as he took the hit, and gave it a sharp twist.

She followed through the rotation to land on her hands; bracing, she used her other foot in a quick kick to the stomach before rolling away. She had finally broken his rhythm of breathing. Bracing her feet she watched as the old man's face became flushed and his eyebrows furrowed tightly as his dark eyes narrowed to slits.

She heard Cav's whispered voice, "Oh yeah- he's pissed."

He launched himself at her with a grunt, and she rose to meet him with a shout. Her fists tightened and pulled arm pulled all the way back as time slowed to her eyes. 'This has to end. This has to end now!"

She set loose her punches.

And so did Hogosha.

Modo drove around Southbound while trying to think of where Amaris could be. For the last five hours he kept thinking of the worst situations she could be and tried to shake them off. If Limburger had caught her, finding him would be easy- you just find the most gaudiest or disgusting smelling place and there he would be. Whip tail, save girl, happy ending all around.

But this wasn't the normal damsel in distress. Amaris was gone with no clue as to her whereabouts, No idea who had her or what he wanted from her-

"Hey bros!" Vinnie's voice came through into Modo's helmet. "You are not gonna believe what I found.."

Throttle and Modo joined Vinnie on the far north side on the outskirts of Chicago.

Vinnie had noticed something odd about one of the buildings on a particular corner. He had hit pay dirt when an extremely skinny person in a trench coat with a humongous head was followed by a larger person who occasionally slipped as they went through the back way.

"Think he's got a transporter?"

"Careful you greasy baboon!" A hissy voice shouted behind the fence. "We'll need it in case that Den'arith shows up!

"Umm.. Doc why would he try n' kill us if we's got da 'porter? Wouldn't 'e jus' wanna leave?"

"No you dimwitted dunder head! He'll ransack our minds.. Well my mind anyway- and try to find Limberger!

"An den I'd be out a job.. I getz ya Doc. I be real careful.."

All three nodded as they revved their bikes.

Five minutes later they had a miniature transporter in their hands and heading down the highway to the Garage.

"Did ya see the looks on their faces?" Modo laughed out loud, high-fives going all round.

"That dumb block of grease couldn't even get his monkey wrench out!" Throttle grinned as they took the off ramp.

"That's one good thing down from the list! I say we celebrate!" Vinnie was feeling good, like cloud nine good. He just had to make sure that this was the real working deal and get it warmed up. As soon as they found Amaris his bros could set this issue straight. The whole time she'd been gone had been like riding a roller coaster through a mine field on constant loop-de-loop. His bros and Charley had been on edge; now the air was sizzling with energy at the prospect of some serious action.

It was good night for dogs and root beer in his opinion.

Charley had finished grilling the dogs and kicking up her feet on the couch when the roar of Martian engines came up the street. She'd already heard about their success for a transporter over the radio and stopped to buy hot dogs and root beer.

"Charley girl, you read my mind!" Vinnie's energetic voice filled the garage and echoed into the living space. She wondered briefly where that energy went to when he met her mother. It was like he was keeping his distance from her and all the while there Charley had found it rather lonely.

"Hey I know a good step of success when I hear it. Root beer's in the fridge guys- Pardon that I don't get up. That airport is heinous to get around in."

"Find anything good Charley-girl?" Throttle piled his plate and seated himself down.

"Well it turns out the car was dropped off by a woman for starters, and there seems to be some sort of VIP plane that's drawing a lot of attention."

"And the VIP plane?" Modo asked around a swallow of hot dog with all the fixings.

"Turns out that it's home port is in Japan. Now, now don't get up!" Charley said loudly as two of three mice began to bolt. "Turns out it's in need of repair, some parts are being replaced and that won't be done till tomorrow afternoon. The mechanics there got a bit tight-lipped after that."

She reached for her soda, enjoying the caramel flavor and sharp bubbles on her tongue as she sucked the straw for a moment. "They did try to kick me out, but there was some ruckus about a rush order by phone call that had everyone spinning. I also noticed some luggage being loaded up ahead of time and that one of the bag's zippers had ripped open."

Charley reached behind her to grab something from the back of her jeans and thumped it on the coffee table. It was an old worn paperback, the cover gone and the spine bent from multiple reads. In red ink it had 'To Amaris..' on the first page. "Well of course I just had to help them pick the stuff up and back into the case, which I was thanked for before being escorted off the premises."

Throttle grinned as a plan was now forming. They have the transporter and the plane that was either taking Amaris or taking her things to her. "Then more than likely they'll leave in the late afternoon."

"Perfect." Modo felt the knot between his shoulders relax as they made their plan.

Amaris was breathing heavily, every muscle ached and bruised as she laid on the floor exhausted. She didn't understand what had happened, except all of a sudden as she was doing so well and then her legs just crumpled under her. She couldn't even move her head for some reason, but she heard footfalls coming close to her.

"Your powers have finally begun to bloom, Kane-dono. And Unfortunately, that means You will have to go back to Japan to be with your true guardian." Hogosha kneeled down closer, whispering what he said next, "Pity. I had hoped that the curse would have ended with your mother's blood."

She saw him rise and walk away to what she assumed was the door. Anzen came from above left , gave her a gentle smile before following the old man.

The tengu watched from the doorway as the two Lykens tended to their mistress for a moment until he heard a cough from the hallway. He rejoined the old man, who was limping and rubbing his left shoulder.

"You didn't have to make it sound like it's the end of her world, you know" He muttered quietly in case anyone should overhear.

"To her, it is the end of her world." Hogosha grumbled as he bent back, causing his whole spine to crackle. They were silent as a pair of Anzen's subordinates carried an old chest past them to Kane's room.

"You know she won the match, correct?' Anzen smirked as Hogosha gave a wheezing chuckle. The old man nodded as he headed to a changing room; his plane would be leaving soon.

"True, but we don't need to tell her that now do we?"

Leontas watched the two leave Amaris on the floor, hesitating as he felt an immense wave from the younger person. He suddenly felt very nervous and a bundle of 'what ifs' crossed his mind. He rudely shook them off as he focused what little energy he could to cloak himself as he shimmied off the roof and got close to the dojo's door.

"My Lady? Are you alright? Can you move? Here, let me help you up." He heard someone say. Leontas felt a little dizzy as he heard her groan.

"I think so. My body feels like jello , but at least now I can move my legs. Thanks Cavalier." Amaris sounded tired.

Just as the Den'arith stepped over the threshold, a wave of vertigo overcame him. Leontas caught sight of the earth female's look of surprise as the room swirled and the sight of her bare feet was the last thing he saw as his world went dark.

He felt restrained when he began to come too, but still felt weak. He tried to focus, to get a bearing as to where he was.

"I say we kill him." a voice said, followed by a deep growl. "After what he's done to you and your friends.."

Leontas started dry-heaving as a wave of the woman's fear sliced through him; the growling sound coming closer. "Oh, goody- he can be alive when we kill him." The voice snarled. It was then he realized he was blindfolded.

"What are you doing here?" Her voice sounded so far away, so quiet. It was different from when she had ensnared him in his own mind trap; then it was as if an animal had been set loose. Although hushed, her voice held a tone of authority to it.

"I've come for help.." He began and was roughly lifted and shook.

"Help? After what you've done to her? Rot like you should just die!" The voice growled.

"I am dying. I am starving.." Leontas struggled with the words and then was dropped, his feet unable to brace him.

"Like we should care!" The voice snarled, "Honestly princess-"

"Cavalier, please." Her voice seemed to be getting closer, shushing the other voice.

'Princess? She's truly royalty? It wasn't in her head?' Hope dimmed in the den'arith's heart. He knew how most in the universe dealt with anyone who had interfered with whom they considered higher or above the normal citizens; it usually meant death. What he did could have been constituted as homicide if she had died.

"How did you become like this?" the veterinarian's voice sounded detached and business like.

"When you.." How could he explain it? "Do what you did. I found that I could not.. Absorb the emotions I have long been living off of-"

"Serves you right, monster!"

"Cav- Please!" He heard a snapping sound, followed by a grumbling. Obviously this 'Cavalier' was one of her protectors. Perhaps the one who had rescued the woman and those mice.

"Then technically, you should be dead." Her voice was coming closer. "Something tells me there's more to it than that."

"There's something between us-" Leontas was interrupted by an unfriendly bark.

"Oh puh-lease!" The voice sound far and disbelieving, "That the oldest li- ah!ah! Ok! Ok! I'm quiet- not a peep my lady.."

Leontas couldn't stop the trembling.

"Please.. Help me! Our connection wasn't severed and I'm only getting the smallest of sustenance from you! "

"You're parasitic?" Alarm in her voice, he felt the thread between them thin out.

"No, no…it's not how it works.. I need.. I.. need." the air was getting harder to take in.

"Cavalier, Paladin. Step outside for a few moments."

"HAVE YOU LOST YOUR MIND!" Cavalier's voice roared, "NO! Absolutely NO! Just, just- NO!"

"Trust me, please." He heard her moving now away from him, fear curdling in his gut; his own fear. "I know you won't be far from me. Won't you trust your princess?"

He heard an animal whine and then a sigh, "Fine. We'll just be out in the hall."

Leontas heard a sliding sound and something close, then soft footfalls making his way to him.

"Leontas, are you asking for forgiveness?"

He blinked behind the blind fold. "I don't know what forgiveness is." He said after a moment. "All I know is that I will die without the.. Gentler emotions to sustain me. For that, for your mercy, I will enter your service; be your servant, slave, or anything you need or wish."

"It's not that easily given." Her voice was shifting slightly, and he felt a soft light within himself that came from her. "I need something more from you."

"Something more?" Leontas wracked his mind, what could he possibly give her? "What could I give you? Jewels? Weapons?"

He gasped as he felt the blind slide off. They were in the dim light, and her hair had gotten longer. As he studied her in such dimness, he realized that there was something he could give. He was asking for something that could be considered a deep connection; something very personal. She, he realized, wanted something equal from him.

"I have something to show you, but I have to be loose first." Leontas saw the instant hesitation in her eyes. "Please."

She reached behind him, fumbling with the firm knots before the sheet fell off him. He looked at a wall for a moment, watching the light coming in from it. "This way." He said fumbling with the door.

She followed him to the tiny private yard her room had, closing the door behind her.

"This…" he stumbled nervously, "Might be a bit…disturbing."

Amaris watched as soft blue glow began to etch its way up the torso of his insectoid legs and arms, the shine from his beetle-like body dull for a moment. She jumped as a hissing sound came from somewhere in his spine. 'Is he molting?'

He heard her soft gasp with his own ears for the first time as the front of his battle suit slid forwards. He felt the winds and the chill in the air on his own skin. No one knew this was a suit, he had never bother to correct his clients and he had always been alone; never bothering to come out. Unsure of himself, he kept his legs in the suit. "I've.." His voice startled him. He had always heard the gravely voice that the suit filtered through and thought it was his own. "I-I've never been outside the suit." He avoided her gaze, "This is how I.." How did he look? He couldn't even remember.

Amaris stared at the child in the large suit, his transparent blue form reflecting the light of the moon. He couldn't be any older than 18 at the most! His arms and hands were nearly see through like a jellyfish. His eyes were forwards and wide; their color a brilliant violet. He didn't have hair, but rather free flowing tendrils that were past his shoulders. And she saw the extreme slenderness of his body from malnutrition by the way his frame held itself, it didn't come from living in that shell. Oddly enough, through all the pain he had made her go through; she couldn't help but feel a small pang of tenderness and sympathy at his plight. No wonder all he had were just negative emotions to recognize and feed on; perhaps originally scoffing at the "gentler emotions" as he called it as he watched others. How old was he when he lost everything? Had he never even had a kind word from anyone?

He closed his eyes expecting revulsion, or an arrogant word, perhaps even her hatred.

"You look so young." Her voice was closer and he felt something from her, and his eyes began to sting. Cautiously he studied her and saw what he was feeling through their thread. 'Beautiful?' She thinks I'm beautiful?

"By my people's standards, yes I am very young." He shifted his legs so the suit would sink a little to be eye level with Amaris. He hesitated slightly as her hand reached out and touched him, causing his eyes to sting so much they were watering.

"How is it that someone so young has taken in so much darkness? To do what you had to in order to survive all alone?" Amaris said gently.

He began to gulp for breath as she drew him closer.

'Is this what they call a 'hug'? Is this what kindness feels like when it's for you?'

She slowly broke away from him, placing her hand gently on his head. "You're my vassal now and I will help you."

"Why the hell is this so hard to keep together?" Muttered the mechanic as she worked over the receiver that Throttle had broken while Modo and Vinnie were trying to calibrate the transporter. "Hope Throttle had better luck finding those parts I need because there isn't enough duct tape in the universe to fix it as is."

"Why do we need fix it anyhow?" Vinnie asked as he watched Modo rework some more numbers.

"Other than we might get shot as soon as we enter Mars?" Modo was having a hard time trying to pinpoint a predestined landing space from the airport in Chicago to Mars. "Lets try: landing on someone, barraging through a place full of people or ending up in ice or a volcanic shaft. Not to mention because we haven't been able to report in sometime; we might be arrested on the spot for an assumed AWOL and we have no idea what's been going on the planet."

"Lets also point out that even if I get the Scion modified for Mars and the Radio fixed, that we have no idea what condition Amaris is in." Throttle added as he walked into the room holding a bag of supplies. He handed them to Charley, "I think these will help."

"The Scion would be a lot better to bring than trying to modify my truck; more space too. Plans are on top of the dashboard, you know where everything is." Charley began taking the receiver apart and salvaging what parts she could.

It was going to be a long restless night.

Amaris sighed as she propped her arms on the edge of the hot spring, letting the cool winds soothe her over heated body. It had been a long day and had barely eaten anything but she felt more in need of a long hot soak than food..

"…and so that's how Paladin ended up with a pink tail for six months!"

'And some privacy. Privacy would have been nice.' She thought, resting her head on her forearms.

Her lycan guards seemed attached to her by the hip since she agreed to help Leontas adjust to his new predicament and made him one of her vassals. Their refusal to even let her bathe in peace on the women's side of the larger hot spring cause several women to run shrieking out to complain. She cinched the towel tight about her chest for the twentieth time as it threatened to loosen in the water.

"By the way my lady," she heard Cavalier moving towards her, "Where is the new vassal anyhow?"

"He's close by, he kind of has to be at the moment." Amaris stretched a bit as she averted her eyes upward; the obnoxious pup had foregone the towel and was trouncing about naked. Another reason why she was sinking into a funk. Did her ancestors have to deal with this crap as well?

"What? Like a ninja?" Cavalier leaned his back against the edge, looking at his mistress.

"In a manner of speaking…" A gravely voice said from behind him.

Amaris took dark delight at her guards jumping out of their skin. Leontas was still in his suit, a necessity he explained because of immune system issues, and he was propped upside down. Even though she knew that wasn't his real voice , she thought that he sounded much better than from an hour ago when he was so desperate for help.

"Feeling better?" She inquired as he flickered his shielding to keep hidden.

"Through your grace and kindness, mistress." The den'arith formally replied.

"Don't you dare say that! You don't get to call her that." Cavalier growled at the alien that was out of reach for him.

"What should I call her then?" The rough voice huffed at him.

"'Princess', 'my lady', 'Hiun no Hime', 'princessa', 'hime-sama', or 'your highness'! You saying 'mistress' sounds just… Perverse!"

"She is ..our mistress.." Pal quietly voiced. The elder lycan had been quiet for a long while in his humanoid form, which still didn't help because he was still furry. Amaris figured that Cavalier had somehow convinced him to change forms again.

"Yeah, but, but.." Cavalier's voice rose, "He shouldn't call her that!"

"I don't think I'll ever get used to titles." Amaris smiled briefly before splashing the hot water to her face. She felt three pairs of eyes look at her.

"Why not? Isn't 'doctor' a title?" Cavalier splashed about quietly beside her.

"Yes, but it's a title I earned for myself." Amaris hopped out and sat on the edge of the spring, "What you call me, what everyone seems to call me, is something I didn't earn; it's something I was born into."

"Well surely someone must have told you your heritage, your ancestry and why you have this title?" Paladin asked as he dog paddled towards her; he had no need for a towel because his fur was long enough to hide his naughty bits.

Her eyes seemed to darken and she heard a groan from behind her; it reminded her that she was 'feeding' Leontas and couldn't afford to be so sad with their bond so new.

"My mother." She gulped as she tried to dig up encouraging feelings to keep the sadness at bay. "My mother was smart, and beautiful. She fell in love with my father who was always working on something.."

She hissed as a pressure rammed into the back of her eyeballs. Amaris pressed the heel of her right palm into her eyes as she motioned with her left for her friends to settle down.

"I remember.." Leontas said quietly as he reached out to touch her hair. "A fire from your memories."

The woman nodded slowly, "They died there. And I was rescued by Anzen's father, Oroshi and taken to their stronghold. Hogosha and his wife agreed to take me in, but they separated. All they would tell me is that I was bad to be around and that…"

Amaris couldn't stop her lower lip from trembling as she remembered how those people; those horrible people just berated her. How the children were encouraged to throw stones at her and the adults ignored her pleas for help or worse joined in saying, "I was going to kill everyone wh-who cared about me."

She turned to the beetle-like form, "I-I'm sorry I'm making you ill."

Leontas shook his head and went right side up to sit opposite of her lupine companions, "It shall pass, for which I am thankful my mistress doesn't dwell freely in such sad depths."

"Stop calling her that you leech." Cavaleir grounded out between tightened jaws.

"Perhaps I should call her 'my queen'? 'My doctor'?, 'my beloved'?, 'dearest to my soul'? or perhaps 'mother'? The situation still stands that I am whatever she wants or wills me to be for as long as she wishes it." Leontas watched as the woman balked at the last word and the lycan began to sputter.

Vincent walked into the kitchen in need of a cold drink. The long hours had caused his bros to work at a near frantic level that had even Charlie exhausted and off to bed. She had finished remaking the receiver but had no energy to calibrate it until the morning.

As he opened the door to the fridge, he stopped himself mid-grab of the root beer bottle. His hand was trembling, ever so slightly.

Usually he could rack it up to adrenaline surges but he was perfectly calm; his hand began to go from a slight tremor to positively shaking as tiny pinpricks of pain began racing up and down his arm.

He hissed quietly as he gripped his shoulder, willing the pain to ease off as he flexed his hand to stop the shaking. Thought began to run a mile a second as he racked up time and history in his head. Angry at himself, he grabbed the bottle and shut the fridge door noisily before popping the metal cap off and taking a long pull from the bottle. As he brought the bottle away from his mouth, it slipped out of his hands and make a resounding crash as root beer splattered the floor.

'Looks like I've got a reason to go home too now.' he thought bitterly.


Bunin: (an obsolete kana. Out-dated) {archaism} consort of the emperor

Koukyuu: Harem; imperial consort

* When Ebion "corrects" Hogosha, he's actually insulting Amaris by saying she'd be one of many and not exclusively Anzen's.