Disclaimer: I do not own Samurai X

Chapter One

Valhalla

The silence of the pristine white hallway was unnerving but expected, since the area required absolute silence for the researchers to do their work. The marble floor shone so flawlessly that they reflected the ceiling and the glass benches by the walls. The lights overhead showed no signs of going out and the floor held not a speck of dirt. There were only four doors in that hall; two of which were on the either side of the corridor, made of metal and guarded by stern looking soldiers. The third metal door lead to a simple room with a clean white bed and an unused chair by the window. The last one contained a room full of researchers, machines, and the sounds of working doctors.

Everyone was occupied inside that room, making sure that their patient was well-cared for and wasn't experiencing any difficulties. There was only one doctor outside the room, feeling the dread of knowing what the ending results of the tests were going to be.

Megumi Takani, the renowned flower of Bio Corporation's Medical and Research Division, watched her patient perform a number of tests regarding physical fitness with both pride and remorse. She watched the little girl, whom she had been trying to cure for three years run, lift objects, and perform stretches. So far, nothing went wrong. The patient was able to do the most basic of movements and had the possibility of being able to do much more. This sent a surge of satisfaction and delight to Megumi's assistants who had equally spent a like amount of time working on the girl.

From the one-way window, Megumi touched the glass with gentle fingers, wanting to reach out to the child inside the room. The physical tests didn't worry her. She knew that they would all result in positive readings. Looking at the girl's blank face however, made the good doctor clench her other hand into a tight fist of dread. It was the upcoming tests, the mental and psychological ones that she feared the most.

Megumi had been able to save the girl's life through a series of long and delicate surgeries, but at what price?

Twelve year old Kaoru Kamiya may have had her body back, possibly even better than before, but her heart and mind were long gone.

Megumi reminisced about the time when Kaoru had been brought to her. The nine year old was in a bloody mess. Her two legs were broken, an arm was sprained, three ribs were cracked, several cuts and bruises decorated her small body, and her head was bleeding profusely. She had been told that Kaoru and her friends had been in the way of an out of control cyborg from Bio Corp. The result had been an all out massacre. Kaoru was the only survivor. The others were either ripped apart or beaten until all of their bones were broken.

At that time, Megumi had been able to diagnose Kaoru as having been injected with ECM serum, a liquid developed especially for the brain of the cyborg that injured her. And it was fast destroying her mind and body. Knowing that if nothing were to be done soon, Kaoru would either die or retreat into a comma. So, Megumi decided to operate on her brain first but what she saw once she opened the girl's cranium was horrifying. The ECM serum was eating her brain like acid.

The doctor had narrowed her eyes and barked orders in the room that sent her assistants into a frenzy. Three hours later, Kaoru's brain had completely been cleaned of the serum but the remaining part of her brain was not enough to sustain her. As it was, Kaoru was only being kept alive because of the infusion of nanomachines into her bloodstream, replacing the basic commands of the brain. There was only so much that nanomachines could do however and Megumi was forced to admit that she had lost a patient since no one in their right mind would volunteer to have their brains removed and given to Kaoru. That was when Tae came in, carrying a replacement brain in a container. The brain was perfect for Kaoru. The only problem was that only one-fourth of it was real. The other parts were made out of metal and wires.

Megumi had wanted to ask questions but Tae had taken over the surgery, throwing the other doctor out of the room. She had absolutely no idea what Tae did to make the surgery a success.

Once Kaoru was out of the emergency room, the girl had been brought to Megumi's laboratory to be taken care of. She made sure that Kaoru's damaged organs were brought back to their one hundred percent capability. Her internal organs that had been bleeding and destroyed were repaired by nanomachines. The muscles that the ECM serum had rendered useless were brought to life by injecting them with cultured biognets, a type of living nanomachine that reconstructed muscles and completely restored their functions, although it takes almost a year for the process to actually yield an outcome. Her bones, however, were another thing. The ECM serum had been able to travel so far as her bones before they had been able to remove it and so, they were damaged beyond the healing capabilities of nanomachines. Left with nothing else, Megumi decided to fill the huge gaps in her bones with the metallic alloy that was used in cyborg genetics.

And now, Megumi thought as she watched Kaoru type a message using only ones and zeros, I don't know whether I regret what I did or not. To live like some machine even though you're not…would it have been better if she had died feeling completely human?

Megumi leaned her forehead on the glass and closed her eyes.

Please forgive me.

-

Prima Mel 6th District (Aamon), Julia Bar

April 12, 3062

Prima Mel, a colony that was established five hundred years ago by Iron Hand Millennia Crantz, had come a long way from being one of the rural suburbs of the Galaxy Treaty Federation (GTF). Today, through the miracles of life extensions, Millennia Crantz still ran the colony with an iron hand. The colony had grown, now able to accommodate an entire fleet of battle ships ready for war and countless Humanoid Armored Crafts (HAC) for world tournaments and real life battle. Prima Mel's spaceports was known throughout the galaxy as one of the largest and well equipped.

In addition to this, the colony also contained within its 4th District (Belias) a floating coliseum for HAC tournaments and a research facility for androids and cyber genetics. Prima Mel also contained a forest where actual fauna and flora were found in abundance.

To most HAC pilots, the only places that mattered to them in Prima Mel are the coliseum, the various GAU parts shops, and the Julia Bar. The Julia Bar is a famous place for HAC pilots because it is the only bar with the permit for simulated HAC battles. Professionals and amateurs come together to test their abilities against one another and to gather information on their opponents.

On the outside, the only way you would be able to tell that you were in the right place was the small neon sign beside the stairwell. The stairwell was clean and free from the graffiti that usually came with a bar. At the bottom of the steps was a double door made out of iron which automatically opened to let customers inside. Julia Bar is a huge place filled with tables and calm music. The floor was covered with a thick rug that changed colors every week. A stage was located at the far center wall where a female lounge singer would usually play the piano and grace the people with her voice. There were three doors in all. One was for the bathroom located on the far left wall. The other two were by the far right wall, both leading to the VR set for simulated HAC battles. A small camera was in the center of the ceiling. When HAC battles begin, the camera produces a holographic image of the battle going on in virtual reality.

The Julia Bar was always full of patrons except for today. Only a handful of the regulars were drinking and talking. It was in one of the empty tables that a man wearing black pants and a white shirt sat. His long blood red hair, tied in a low tail, seemed to become more pronounced in the shadows . All in all, he looked like an ordinary person with the exception of his hair but anyone who knew how to read body language would stay well away from him.

His movements were both graceful and deliberate, a definite sign that he had studied some sort of self-defense style. His amethyst eyes were always scanning his surroundings, checking for potential threats as well as potential weapons to be used. And his presence, though not that noticeable at first, was like a hunter's going after its prey.

Kenshin Himura, more commonly known as Himura Battousai and the pilot of the famous HAC Ragnarok, was currently enjoying his tea. It wasn't everyday that he got some time to himself and he was savoring every moment of his freedom. With precise movements, he sipped his tea with a relaxed smile. He was in a good mood because all the regular customers were out, probably busy watching the tournament right now.

He had no interest in those boring fights. He'd seen much more experienced fighters out in the field. In fact, as one of the captains of Seijuro Hiko's personal guards, he had seen battle ships being destroyed by HACs and vice versa. HACs were made to kill so why would he be interested in a fight that used killing machines for sport? Besides, it was his day off and he would much rather spend it doing less violent things than watching people try to out do each other with bazookas and missiles and call it entertainment.

Unfortunately, even with his day off, he still had some reading to do. Aoshi had provided him with information on possible new recruits for Hiko's little missions.

He picked up the folder and turned to the first page. A picture of a man with black hair and bandages was the first to greet him. His red eyes were full of hidden glee for bloodlust.

Name: Shishio Makoto

Age: 31

Sex: Male

Occupation: Pilot of HAC Brigadier and leader of the resistance faction Grimword

Shishio Makoto, Kenshin thought as he stared at the picture. The man had been in an accident during a battle and the fire ended up burning every inch of his body. Even though Kenshin knew that Shishio had already undergone operation to fix his skin, the man still wore those bandages around his face. He had announced once that it was because he didn't want to forget the pain of being in flames. Kenshin liked to think that it was because the surgery didn't go exactly as planned.

Grimword was an organization created by Shishio ten years ago. They resisted the production of androids and most especially, infusing robotic parts within the human body. A lot of the medical advancements brought about today had all been because robotic parts were being installed into the human body. People who were born without legs were given a chance to walk and those with weak hearts were cured because of those robotic parts.

Kenshin rather thought that Shishio was a hypocrite. His skin had been cured by injecting nanomachines into his blood. He had literally been living with a colony of microscopic androids for a year.

What's more, Grimword was responsible for the destruction of Alkaid's Sector Seven. That sector had been full of android development facilities and hospitals where people were being treated with cyborg genetics. He had killed everyone there, even the humans without robotic parts inside of them. Even though they still didn't have evidence, Kenshin had been there to see the genocide with his own eyes.

No. The answer was definitely no. Shishio's ability with a HAC was known throughout the star cluster but Kenshin would rather work with a person that he wouldn't be targeting in the near future.

He turned to the next page.

A man with brown hair and brown eyes stared back at him from the paper. He had a cocky grin on and…was that a fishbone he was munching on?

Name: Sanosuke Sagara

Age: 25

Sex: Male

Occupation: Pilot of HAC Wyvern and a member of the Sekihutai

Now this was interesting. Sekihutai was a mercenary guild. They often took jobs that included defending cargos from thieves and sometimes providing last minute backups for the army. To be a part of the Sekihutai, one had to own their own HAC and prove their skills through winning the Winter Cup in the HAC tournaments.

Kenshin raised a brow as he read the next paragraph. Apparently, Sanosuke had won the Winter Cup five times and was still the reigning champion. His HAC was a heavy unit, relying on brute strength instead of tactics. One of the sides of Kenshin's mouth quirked upward. Why indeed would you rely on tactics if just one punch from your HAC would send a good number of your enemies packing?

Interested, Kenshin read the whole page dedicated to Sanosuke but everything else were about his accomplishments as a participant in HAC tournaments except for one thing. Sagara apparently went on a mission six months ago and had returned empty handed. Not only that, his HAC had been almost completely destroyed. According to the file, he was supposed to have abducted a certain personnel on board the Armageddon, a Bio Corporation freight class ship.

Kenshin wasn't interested in what Sanosuke had been after but rather who had stopped him. As far as Kenshin knew, Bio Corporation didn't own any HAC, nor had enough artillery on the Armageddon to battle a HAC as strong as the Wyvern. At least, that was how it was when Tae Sekihara ran the company. Ever since the new president took over, a lot of things had begun to change within the corporation.

He turned to the last page.

Kenshin raised one scarlet brow as he stared at the picture. It had been taken when the woman was unaware, which meant that she was unregistered in the Galaxy Federation's Catalogues. She was sitting on a park bench, just staring at the fountain. Her long black hair was tied in a high tail and she was wearing a white uniform. Her blue eyes seemed distant, as if she was thinking about something and yet, her posture remained alert and ready to spring to action at any moment. He wondered if she had studied some form of martial arts.

Name: Kaoru Kamiya

Age: 19

Sex: Female

Occupation: Pilot of HAC Valhalla

Kenshin frowned as he read the unusually short report about the pilot.

A rookie that made her debut last year's Spring Festival. Not much is known about her but from what we were able to gather, she prefers using her speed to outwit her opponents. The last time we were able to see her fight, she used a steel scythe as a weapon and tore her opponent in half. She backed out during the finals and hadn't joined any tournaments since then.

Her sudden appearance at this week's tournaments has revived last year's rumors about her. The people say that she's like a computer in the battle field. It seems that she studies her opponent first and then finds a way to use the environment to her advantage. She is currently residing in the Artemis Inn in the 3rd District. She seems to always be accompanied by a female researcher, Megumi Takani, from Bio Corporation.

That is all we have been able to gather. You can check the files on Megumi Takani in your e-mail.

It was unusual that Aoshi hadn't been able to gather anymore information about her since the stoic man was the best when it came to gathering data.

This Kaoru must be really careful if even Aoshi doesn't have much to contribute, he mused as he finished off his tea, I wonder what happened that made her quit in the middle of a fight…

The sound of the entrance doors opening caught his attention and he swung his violet eyes to the doorway. Two people entered, both were female. The taller one was dressed like a doctor. Her black hair was loose and her skin was pale but it was her companion that captured and held his interest.

She was wearing a fitting sleeveless white uniform that's skirt ended five inches above her knees. She had white gloves on and each of her arms was wrapped in black cloth that had some sort of blue neon lining at the ends. She wore a simple pair of white knee boots and black leggings that had the same blue neon linings. It was the same uniform he had seen her wearing in the picture.

What was Kaoru Kamiya, pilot of Valhalla, doing here? Shouldn't she be watching the fight going on in the coliseum instead?

-

Kaoru looked around the bar, silently noting the few patrons drinking alcohol. Her programmer, Megumi, was talking to the bartender about using the VR system for HAC battles. It was incorporated into her system that she seek out potential threats to her programmer and herself, and so, she did. Her blue eyes stopped on a pilot that was clearly drunk and was about to pass out.

Name: Ichigo Yumasaki

Age: Unknown

Sex: Male

Weapons: None

Station: Pilot of HAC Sidhe

Hazard Rate: Minimal

Her eyes swung to the next person, apparently dismissing the first one to be harmless, that was talking animatedly with a female civilian.

Name: Gai Daidoji

Age: Unknown

Sex: Male

Weapons: None

Station: Civilian

Hazard Rate: Minimal

She moved her gaze once again, knowing that Daidoji was far too interested in the female human to attack her programmer. Then her eyes locked with him. A customer with red hair and amethyst eyes that somehow had swirls of amber within them. He was looking at her, as if daring her to stare at him any longer. How long had he been looking at her? She blinked and commanded her brain to come up with any information about this person. It took a few seconds before the data came up.

Name: Kenshin Himura

Age: 25

Sex: Male

Weapons: None

Station: Pilot of HAC Ragnarok and captain of the Lanark guards under Commander Hiko Seijuro

Hazard Rate: Critical

'…Critical,' she thought as she continued searching for information. How could he be critical? As far as she her scan was concerned, he wasn't carrying any type of weapon and he looked less intimidating than the other pilots. But then again, her artificial mind replaying the conversation she had with her doctor last year, Megumi had told her that she should be wary of the people that she would be meeting. Her exact words were "looks can be deceiving". At that time, she had made a conclusion based on the physical environments in a battle field.

"Looks can be deceiving."

"I fail to comprehend."

"Kaoru, sometimes people can camouflage themselves. They hide their true selves to other people."

"You are saying that they use stealth suites and attack at the moment of one hundred percent success rate. I understand. I will be on my guard."

"…Close enough."

Now, however, as she continued to stare at the man drinking tea (free of charge due to a membership card), she began to put the two pieces of datum together and had come up with one conclusion. People could also hide without using stealth suites. They could blend with the crowd and use their cover for their advantage. Protocol required her to tell Megumi of this observation but it was imperative that she keep an eye on Kenshin Himura as long as her programmer was in the vicinity. She would have to wait till she reported back to headquarters.

"Kaoru," the doctor said breaking her concentration on data gathering and making Kaoru look at Megumi, "the VR set here is not compatible with your brain waves. Let's head back to the inn. We have no further business here."

"Acknowledged."

Without warning, Kaoru grabbed Megumi's pen and turned around, ready to jab the writing material into one of Himura's eyes. Just one suspicious motion from him and she would act accordingly. For some reason, he had been able to move behind her without her noticing. In fact, the only reason that she had been able to notice him at all was his shadow. She had seen his shadow move and stopped on the stool behind her.

He looked perfectly relaxed, sitting there and ordering another tea. Kaoru knew better. Even though his bangs were long and hid most of his eyes, she could tell that he was looking at her.

"Kaoru, what's the matter?"

"...It is nothing significant," she replied as she continued to stare at Kenshin, "I apologize for taking your writing instrument," she said and gave Megumi back her pen but didn't take her eyes off the man. Then, they both calmly walked away, Megumi looking at her companion oddly and Kaoru shielding her programmer from any possible assault from Kenshin.

As they exited the bar, Kenshin could only smirk in approval. The girl had been quick to react and had been resourceful enough to find a weapon. He could understand now what Aoshi had seen in her. What's more, the girl had actually thought that he had been targeting her companion and had made sure that she was always in between them. It was important in his line of work that the people he worked with watched each others backs and she did that with utmost precision. She hadn't even told her companion of the danger that was staring at her in the face. Possibly because Kaoru hadn't wanted her friend to panic.

Where did the report say she was staying at? The Artemis Inn?

He chuckled as he sipped his new tea. He was looking forward to contacting her. But first, he needed to see just how good she was with her HAC. Perhaps visiting the coliseum won't be so boring after all.

-

Humanoid Armored Craft Valhalla had a unique design. One hundred feet in height, Valhalla was considered a small HAC. It was slender, like a woman's body, and silver white in color. It had two pairs of unattached silver wings with golden linings. They were positioned at its back and were kept afloat by electric fields generated by the blue armored shoulders. Its head looked like it had a neon blue and gold feathered helmet on, making it look like a heavenly knight. Its neon blue armor was light, only composing of two bangles, one medieval designed knee guard, and one thin blue chest plate that had silver and golden wings at the middle.

The command central of the unit was also a bit different. While most crafts had several levers and buttons for operation, Valhalla had one lever on the left, a direction pad on the right, and holographic buttons to the upper right used to check for damages and scanning. Valhalla solely depended on its rider's wavelengths. It responded to its rider's mind and moved the way that the pilot wanted it to.

"Is everything alright?"

"Yes. Valhalla is operating at one hundred percent output."

Attention. Participants for the first round, please proceed to the hangar. The battle will begin in five minutes.

"I guess that's your cue. Alright Kaoru. Switch to battle mode."

"Acknowledged. Switching to battle mode."

"Kaoru…make sure you come back in one piece alright?"

"Is that an order?"

"…Yes it is."

"Acknowledged. I will do my best."

Then the communication link was cut off. Kaoru waited for the elevator to take her and her HAC to the upper floor where the battle was too commence. Her opponent would be Ichigo Yumasaki, HAC Sidhe. She was well aware of what he was capable of. His HAC, though named Sidhe, was the KPX-7000. Light blue in color with medium light armor, it was the standard HAC for pilots of low funding. Its legs were longer than normal and it didn't have a neck so its sight range was limited. It had powerful artillery in both close and ranged combat. It was also slow and didn't have many reflexes.

It was in this regard that Valhalla was far more superior. And so, Kaoru had no doubt that she would be able to complete this mission without so much trouble.

Megumi had warned her that she should just render the enemy craft incapable of moving instead of letting it explode and killing the fighter inside instantly. It was the rules of the tournament. If you were to kill your opponent, you were immediately disqualified and not allowed to enter any other tournaments for the next five years. It was what made the tournaments so famous. People were trying to damage one another but they weren't trying to kill each other.

Kaoru did not understand the logic between the battles that occurred in the tournament. In her mind's eye, she found it pointless to enter into battle and not destroy an enemy completely. Such compassion would endanger yourself and your allies to future assaults. She had voiced her opinions to Megumi the day before and the doctor had replied in a very informative manner, just like always.

"Think of it as a training ground. It's a lot harder to strike down an opponent without killing them than it is to quickly blow them apart."

Megumi had a point. She had double checked her queries then and found them completely answered by the doctor's two simple sentences so she refrained from voicing them out. Kaoru closed her eyes and sighed, a little downhearted. Then she blinked and cocked her head to the side. What was that? What had that strange reaction been for? It was the second time that it had occurred. The first time had been when she had participated in the Spring Festival. She had felt…unable to do anything. A sort of resignation to her duty and…something else.

Her brain waves had become unstable then and Megumi decided to call off the tournament. Was that anomaly happening once again? Could it have something to do with Valhalla and not her own system structure? But she didn't feel any different and her brain waves were normal according to the numbers that appeared on the upper left hand corner of her screen. She needed to inform her programmer of this strange phenomenon.

Please stand clear of the Humanoid Automaton Craft Elevators. The elimination round is about to begin.

Kaoru took a deep breath, just as Megumi instructed and immediately felt better. It was time and she was not going to allow any anomaly in her system to get in her way of following Megumi's orders.

Following orders, after all, was what she was created for.

-

Clad in a simple white button shirt and slacks, Kenshin watched with a small smile as the elevators brought the two HACs into the surface. A hypersphere, a type of spherical electric shield, sealed the two combatants from the audience. Kenshin was situated at the VIP box, where he could get a full view of the whole battlefield. Misao Makimachi, Aoshi's dependable assistant was beside him recording the battle with the hidden video cameras in her glasses.

Unlike his simple civilian attire, Misao wore the blue uniform of the Oniwabanshu proudly. The deep blue button shirt and slit skirt was "the bomb" at these times. And what better way to get good seats than to show that you were with someone very important?

"Is that a new model? It's so beautiful. I've never seen anything like it before," Misao said as she adjusted her glasses to zoom in on Valhalla. Her blue eyes sparkled in interest as she examined every part of the craft that she could. The wings and feet had flight engines which was unique. Usually, a HAC contained only one flight engine because of the amount of energy it required to operate and that would always be located at the feet.

Kenshin didn't say anything. He was too busy trying to figure out where Kaoru Kamiya had gotten her craft. He knew everything about the latest developments on HACs and he had never heard of such a model. It looked weak despite its beautiful appearance, but as they say, looks can be deceiving,

Let's see how good you are Miss Kaoru.

"Oh my gosh, Kenshin! My sensors indicate that Valhalla's burning only five hundred electron fuel per minute! What kind of generator is she using? It's theoretically impossible to move a HAC with only that much energy!"

"Not really," Kenshin answered as he smirked and looked sideways, "Would you care to explain how Valhalla is able to move Miss Megumi?"

Upon hearing her name, Megumi glanced at Kenshin and then to the hyperactive girl. Both were looking at her expectantly. The man, she remembered, was the one at Julia Bar yesterday. The one that Kaoru had looked suspiciously at. But the girl, she couldn't quite place where she had seen her before; but if her uniform indicated anything, she was part of the famous Oniwabanshu, an information network that was under Hiko Seijuro's command. They probably investigated every participant of this tournament and since she was Kaoru's partner of sorts, they had read through her files as well.

She was irritated at the breach of privacy but understood that it was their job to be goddamn know-it-alls.

"I'm sure you can explain it better than me since you obviously know the theory behind it," she answered as she looked back at the battle field. The signal to start had yet to be announced and she was getting jittery. What if Kaoru's waves became unstable again?

"I wasn't the one who developed the theory behind it so I'm quite certain that you, the developer, would do more justice the theory."

At this, Megumi stared at the man with an irritated face. The infuriating (though she had to admit, he was cute) man kept on his innocent smile. With a 'hmph' and a toss of her black hair, she began her explanation.

"It's called weight distribution. Part of the reason why HACs require so much energy to run is because they're so heavy. So the developers probably cut down on the weight of Valhalla."

"Wow. I didn't think it was possible to find such lightweight materials," Misao said as she zoomed her glassed out.

It was at the tip of Megumi's tongue to point out that they hadn't used lightweight materials but rather different parts to build Valhalla but if she did, then she would give away the fact that she knew Valhalla's blue prints. And that was attention she didn't want. At least not at this moment.

"Do you think that Valhalla will win Miss Megumi?"

"I don't know. It all depends on Kaoru, I suppose." It was a lie. She knew that Kaoru would win. The KPX-7000 didn't stand a chance against Valhalla's new artillery and speed. She snuck a glance at the red headed man beside her and found him studying her with a slightly smug smirk. What the hell was he so proud about?

"It's starting!"

Megumi turned her eyes to catch Valhalla walking towards the other craft. Kaoru's HAC didn't have a weapon within reach but the way that it moved suggested that it was confident that it could take whatever the enemy threw at it. The KPX-7000 locked on the approaching Valhalla and readied its homing missiles. Two steps and it fired three at once.

Then it started shooting with its plasma rifle.

Valhalla didn't stop its confident stride. It raised its right hand and a distortion in the air appeared. Electricity started generating from the distortion and the hand gripped something. Then with one mighty pull, the feeble looking limb was able to break the distortion and produce a steel pole. One end lighted up and a curved blade made out of sonic beams transformed.

"NO WAY! Is that a phase transfer?!" Misao exclaimed as she jumped out of her seat to get a better look.

Then Valhalla flowed sideways to dodge the incoming bullets from the plasma rifle.

Three.

The missiles approached and in response, Kaoru's craft raised its scythe and slashed at the air, creating electronic waves that hit all three missiles. The cutting air and the electronic waves caused the missiles to explode in mid air.

Two.

The people cheered and murmurs of approval reigned. Kenshin watched on, not the least bit impressed with Kaoru's demonstration of skills. He had seen better moves out there with regular HACs.

One.

The opponent HAC released a barrage of missiles at once and continued firing at Kaoru's Valhalla, making it block the barrage of bullets with its scythe so that its momentum was disturbed. It would be impossible to avoid the oncoming onslaught of projectiles if she didn't do anything about the situation. Exclamations of disbelief shot through the crowd.

"What the hell is Yumasaki doing?!"

"Is he trying to get her killed?"

"What's the hell's going on?!"

"Someone stop the fight!"

Kenshin narrowed his eyes as he looked on. If Kaoru were to die here, then she wasn't good enough to join Lanark. Such circumstances always occurred in the real battlefield. Megumi discreetly checked her holographic compact computer. The report indicated that Kaoru's brain waves were perfectly normal and she smiled in satisfaction before she turned it offline but not without Misao noticing it.

Zero.

"Activate jet engines," Kaoru spoke and Valhalla's eyes lit up. The jet engines ignited, making Valhalla all the more lighter so that it didn't just stand on the ground. It was floating three feet above it. Then it hunched over, its wings positioning themselves for mid-flight, and…disappeared, leaving behind a sort of blue flame that quickly dissipated.

Valhalla reappeared right in front of Yumasaki's craft. The barrage of missiles approached the hypersphere and exploded as it touched the electronic shield. The audience watched in fascination at the multiple explosions. Some were angry that they couldn't see what was going on because the fire and smoke blocked their view but the others were just too mesmerized by how fast Valhalla had moved to really give a damn.

With a flick of the wrist, Valhalla tore the KPX-7000 into two horizontal halves. The legs gave out and the craft fell to the ground. Kaoru moved fast and before Yumasaki could react, the scythe's blue beam blade was by its neck, ready to cause more damage if necessary. Yumasaki stared at the devil coated in flames face to face and felt powerless to do anything.

"I…I give up," he whispered, too scared to make his voice any louder.

As if hearing the silent surrender, Valhalla withdrew its scythe from Sidhe's neck and it disappeared into thin air.

Yumasaki surrenders! The first round goes to Kamiya and her Valhalla!

"HOLY CRAP! Did you see that Himura?!"

"Yes. Yes I did."

Megumi breathed a sigh of relief and turned her computer online. The holographic green screen and keyboard appeared in front of her. She typed a few letters and Kaoru's image shot up. The girl looked perfectly normal and completely unconcerned about her fantastic victory. Even now, Megumi could here the exclamations of the audience's praise of Kaoru's fighting ability.

"Kaoru, are you alright?"

"My scanner is down by .5 percent. Other than that, I am fine."

"Good. We'll fix that decreased value later. Wait for me at the hanger."

"Acknowledged...Megumi-san, Makimachi Misao is behind you. I propose hitting her with your elbow or stab your pen between the third and fourth ribs to ensure maximum damage."

Megumi looked behind her and surely enough, the girl that she had earlier been talking to was grinning from ear to ear as she stared at Kaoru's image. She looked back at Kaoru and noticed that Valhalla was staring at them. The doctor had no doubt that if its full power was unleashed, Valhalla could very well get through the flimsy hypersphere.

"No Kaoru! It's alright! It's not a life threatening situation!"

"Acknowledged. I will proceed to the hangar."

And with that, Kaoru cut the communication link and made Valhalla walk to the elevators. Megumi only started to breathe when Kaoru's craft started to drop slowly into the underground hanger for repairs. Sometimes controlling Kaoru was a bit too much, even for her.

"So that's Kaoru. She's really talented Miss Megumi. She's in the hangar right? Come on Kenshin! Let's go meet her!" Misao said and then proceeded to drag Kenshin away from his seat.

"I will not permit it!" Megumi said as she stood up and glared at Misao, "Listen here weasel girl. Kaoru isn't in any condition to receive guests."

That was another lie but they didn't need to know that.

"And what condition is that Miss Megumi?" Kenshin asked as he stood up and looked at Megumi, his face etched in genuine concern. Why on earth would he care if Kaoru was sick?

"That is of a personal matter. I don't know what game you two are playing, but it ends here. Do you two understand? Kaoru is not in any condition to participate. Now if you two will excuse me, I need to make sure that my friend is doing alright," and with that, Megumi sauntered off.

"What's eating her? She is smart though, catching on to us that fast, but calling me a weasel was going too far. I ought to-"

"Misao," Kenshin said as he stared at the doctor's back and only taking his eyes off her when she disappeared into the exit doors, "I want you to investigate. Kaoru is a candidate for the new party. It seems that she is connected to Bio Corporation."

"The one that's run by Takeda Kanryuu? There's sure to be foul-play going on if we dig deep enough. I'm on it boss man!"

After giving a mock salute, Misao too sauntered off to who knows where. As for Kenshin, he had some spying of his own to do. With a determined grin, he subtly followed Megumi to the hangar.

Vocabulary:

Humanoid Armored Craft (HAC)- giant robots that are in the shape of humans and are piloted by them

ECM Serum- an acidic liquid that fuels a cyborg's brain and joints.

Valhalla- in Norse Mythology, this means the land of the gods.

Ragnarok- again in Norse Mythology, this means the Twilight of the Gods or simply put, the end of the world.

Phase Transfer- the ability to create a space distortion and store items there.

Hypershere- an electronic barrier in the shape of a sphere.