(Edit: I'm slowly going back and rewriting this story. No, I'm not changing anything. I just want the style and everything to match any new chapters that I am currently working on. It is slow work, so not all the chapters will have been rewritten any time soon. Not to mention, there might be some typos from me writing this quickly {not that the other one didn't have any, I wasn't a very good editor back then}. Anyway, enjoy, and I hope to have this finished this year {2013}.)

Changes in Destiny

Prolog: A Glance at the Storm

By Hatashi Kitty

What have I done?

The young man lay on his family's couch, staring at the ceiling through the strands of thick blond hair that covered most of his face. Violet eyes fixated onto one spot, not really seeing what was in front of them. His pale face was gaunt and hollow from lack of sleep and from too many missed meals. He felt as if he did not have the energy to lift up the textbook draped over his chest much less anything else. It was hard to imagine that this same young man held within him an ancient power that once saved the world.

What have I done?

But that power couldn't help him now. The Armor of Halo couldn't turn back time and change the events that loomed over Sage. He had battled demons, Warlords and Nether spirits, yet he was reduce to a pitiful puddle of flesh inflicted by deep sorrow.

How could I have let this happen? What have I done?
Just as he had done many times before, the memories of the past invaded his thoughts, and unwanted tears flowed freely down his pale face. His past had scarred him beyond anything else he had experienced.

Why did it have to happen this way? Why couldn't it have been me? It should have been me? If only I could have prevented it. If only. . .

Even though a few weeks had passed, it was not enough time to heal his unseen wounds nor could he return to his routine life. The memories were so fresh, it seemed impossible that so much time had passed, yet it was unrealistic that his life had changed in such a short period. Everything in his life seemed unimportant compared to what his friends had gone through. Even graduation, only a week and a half away, his finals, and finding the right college was insignificant compared to what happened to Robyn. . . and what he did to Rowen.

Rowen, I'm so sorry. I don't know why I did it. I'm sorry for what I did. I'm sorry I couldn't save Robyn.

The words he wished to say to his best friend would forever be unspoken as they hung in the darkness over his head. It had been a week since he had seen Rowen. His face was everywhere, on the news, on telephone poles and in the newspapers. The police, the other Ronins and Rowen's parents were frantically looking for him. Sage, himself, had scoured the city in his armor, looking everywhere for his friend, driven by regret and guilt. If he didn't find Rowen, he felt that the pain within his chest would fill him until he burst. He had to tell him everything, tell him sorry about the pain he inflicted that horrible night when he last saw Rowen.

Tired of crying, Sage turned onto his side so he could curl into a fetal position with his face against the cushions, hoping to block out everything until the world righted itself. Sage knew if he turned around, he would see IT out of the corner of his eye. IT was the last thing he wanted to see, laying in that long, glass box on its honorary place on the mantle above the fireplace. Before, IT would fill him with admiration, but now it was only a horrific reminder of the night Rowen ran away.

IT was his grandfather's katana, passed down from one generation to another in the Date family. Why did it have to be that sword? Why was it in his hand at that exact moment? Why was it still there where Sage could see it, haunting him?

Sage closed this eyes tightly, feeling another tear run down his face, but he only opened them again quickly. Whenever he closed his eyes, the memories flashed through his mind, like an old movie projector, faster and faster and faster. . .

RING!

Sage jumped as the phone broke the silence, feeling as groggy as if he had a troublesome sleep, which wasn't far from the truth. He felt his body strain as he stood up to answer the phone.

"Hello?" Sage said into the receiver, trying not to sound as if he were crying.

On the other end, all was silent.

"Hello? Is anyone there?" Sage pressed his ear close to the telephone as he heard the sound of someone breathing softly. "Who is this?" Sage asked tentatively. A thought came into his head, and his heart quickened as he silently prayed. "Rowen? Rowen, is that you?"

Please let it be him. Please.

To the teen's disappointment, a cold, cruel laugh seeped through the receiver. "Guess again," a deep voice mocked.

Sage knew the voice was familiar, but couldn't pinpoint it from the distortion from the phone. "Who is this?" Sage demanded.

"I thought you would remember your old friend, Halo."

At the name of his armor, Sage stiffened.

"Think, Halo. Think very hard."

"Cale," Sage spat the name out.

"That's right. It seems your virtue is a little rusty," Cale laughed.

"What do you want?" Sage muttered.

"We have some unsettled business, old friend," Cale spoke, his words full of scorn.

"I'm not up to dealing with you," Sage growled, ready to put the receiver down. He couldn't believe the older man, to get into this after what happened. He was insane.

"I don't think you understand. You and I will fight," Cale pressed. "You wouldn't want anything to happen to Strata."

"Rowen?! You have Rowen?" Sage shouted into the phone, his temper boiling his blood and renewing his lost strength. While he was worried about his friend, part of him was relieved to have heard anything about Rowen. "Where is he? Is he okay?" Sage waited for a reply. "Please, let me talk to him."

"You'll see him soon," Cale answered curtly. "But if you're so desperate to hear him, I'm sure I can make him scream for you."

Sage's stomach twisted at the sadistic threat. "You pig-faced, son-of-a. . ."

"Oh, did that hit a nerve?" Cale laughed. "At least I have your attention."

Sage became very quiet until he could talk without shouting again. "What do you want?"

"Meet me at midnight tonight," Cale continued, his voice very serious. "Back to the place of your greatest sin, Halo. You'll find me there. And come alone."

Then the line went dead.

Sage didn't replace the receiver for a while, letting the dial tone fill his ears for a moment, his grip clenching the plastic so tightly he could hear the phone casing starting to crack. Realizing he was starting to shake uncontrollably, he set the hand-set back down, trying to control his emotions that ranged from rage to fear to relief. In a few hours he would see his friend again. But he'd also see Cale, and most likely be fighting again. He needed to be in control of himself to be strong enough to fight.

The Bearer of Halo looked out the window. Already the sun was sinking slowly into the mountains, leaving a trail of warm colors across the sky and clouds. A few stars that shone bright enough to be seen at this time were starting to appear. But there was something else in the sky, a large blot against the dark blue and brilliant sunset. A large thunder storm was coming to cover the city of Toyama.

The dark night will give him an advantage, but the lightning will give me more power, Sage observed. Did he wait for the first storm to come before issuing the challenge so that both our armors will be at their strongest?

Sage reached into his pocked and withdrew the small, green orb that was the essence of Halo. Inside glowed the Kanji of his virtue. Wisdom. Right now, Sage was feeling anything but wise.

How can I be wise when I have let so many people down? Sage thought. Is there any redemption for all the pain I caused?

"Wisdom," Sage reminded himself and closed his eyes in concentration. He could feel Halo flaring inside of him, close to him. The weight of the orb disappeared and his skin felt the cold metal of his sub-armor.

As midnight approached, Sage sat in a lotus position, meditating and preparing his mind and body for the battle to come. When it was time to leave, he stepped out of his house into a whipping wind and beating rain. Lightning flashed viciously, zigzagging across the sky. A clap of thunder shook air and earth.

Good, Sage thought. This storm is just how I feel. Beware, Cale, I have sworn to protect this world and those I love. Not only is it my duty but my destiny.

Sage smiled sourly.

What was it that Rowen said before?

"I am a Ronin Warrior. Destiny chose me to protect this world. So I will."

Sage smiled. The words his friend said two weeks ago echoed in his soul, giving him strength. He is a Ronin Warrior, too. This battle may not be for the world, but he was protecting something just as important.

"I am doing this for you, Rowen," Sage said into the wind. "And when I get you back, we'll talk. Then maybe things will get better." With that promise, Sage stepped out into the storm to meet his opponent.