Cuttingmoon57 here again and here's the third and final part of this mission arc. Hope you enjoy.

Disclaimer: I do not own Final Fantasy or anything related to it. If I did, FF12 would already be getting a direct PS2 or PS3 sequel. I also don't own any other anime or manga that I take elements from.

Suggestion: Head to Final Fantasy Wikia for information or images of the main cast if you'd like to see pictures of their appearance. They remain virtually unchanged in my story. (Other non-canon characters will be described.)

"Blah" = talking

"Blah"= thoughts, writing, or flashbacks

"BLAH"= Yelling

(Blah)= scene change

"Hopefully, with this operation, they'll be off my tail for a long while."

As he looked out into the distance, he noticed an object flying into the sky before exploding like a series of red colored fireworks.

"Was that a flare? And it's over the area that Clan Fletching was assigned to."

A cold bead of sweat ran down the side of the Nu Mou's face as a shiver slowly crept up his spine.

"Those good-for-nothings better not have screwed this up…"

The mastermind behind the poaching operation!


Cheney Galliformes

People, animals

My sympathy spreads in both directions

Chapter Six: Two Way Sympathy


Luso and Kanin stepped nervously towards the direction of Cheney, the hunter currently focusing on the chocobo the group had just managed to save.

Cid had arrived only minutes ago after witnessing the flare burst in the sky and hastily made his way to its origin. He was currently watching over the defeated beastmaster, who was restrained by ropes the hunter kept in his possession.

When asked about their next course of action, the Revgaji was positive the flare had gotten the attention of his parivir accomplice, so he decided the group should wait for his arrival. The clan decided that this was an opportune time to rest.

"I don't think we've really met. I'm Luso Clemens." Luso proclaimed in a reserved yet cheerful voice as he held out a hand to Cheney, who was tenderly brushing the feathers of a chocobo with his gloved hand. Kanin stood directly behind him, peeking out from the side while clinging to his back.

"Indeed we haven't, Luso. My name is Cheney, hunter extraordinaire." The huntsman spoke in kind response, meeting the boy's gesture with a firm handshake. "No need to be fearful, milady. I don't bite."

Kanin stepped out from behind the chocolate haired adolescent a bit after an almost unnoticed nudge from the boy. She then held out her hand much like her clan mate did moments earlier. In a chivalrous manner, the bow wielding warrior gently lifted her hand and placed a small peck on the top of her delicate extremity.

"My name is Kanin…Kanin Heldig." She answered in a slightly shaky voice.

"It's nice to meet your acquaintance, Miss Heldig." The hunter replied, giving her another peck on the hand.

At this time, Cid had approached the trio and placed himself behind Luso, looking on as the huntsman continued to apply kisses to the back of the white mage's hand.

"I'd stop doing that if I were you…" The Revgaji warned, feeling the need to express concern.

Cheney barely had time to ask why as he suddenly felt a strong masculine hand grip his shoulder from behind him, followed by the threatening voice of a certain parivir.

"Kanin…is this boy bothering you…."

"Um…no, it's alright daddy…" She said, trying to calm her Ensei down.

"That's too bad..." His voice seethed with fatherly rage. "…because he's bothering me."

"Ah, sorry, sir. I hadn't realized that she was your…cough…daughter." The hunter remarking nervously, immediately retreated behind Luso and Cid who only viewed the scene with a smirk.

Ensei only death-glared him.

"I'm watching you…"

"Wait, Kanin is Ensei's daughter?" Luso exclaimed to Cid in a whisper. The large sub-human nodded for confirmation. "Then where's her mother?"

"The only one who knows that…is Ensei." Cid answered. "Oh, and try not to mention this to Kanin. This is a matter between the two of them. It's wiser for us to keep from getting involved."

Luso mirrored the Revgaji's nod.

Just then, a withered old Viera guiding a white chocobo came into view from behind some of the foliage on the outskirts of the small clearing. She was followed by familiar Bangaa warrior and two Hume soldiers.

"Sasasha?" Cid queried with a raised eyebrow. "What are you doing here?"

"I'd like to know that myself." She replied with a fatigued and disdainful sigh. "One minute I'm informing the police of some ruckus, and the next I'm caught up in some dastardly poaching operation investigation. There's no rest for the weary, is their commander?" She gave the reptilian police chief an annoyed glance.

"Don't you mean the nagging and decrepit…" Ensei whispered under his breath in a cocky tone.

"Well this decrepit old woman can still kick your…" Both of the Hume soldiers placed a single hand over the mouth of the rabbit eared female before she was able to finish her sentence.

"…Putting that aside…" Cheney began. "We need to get down to business. According to the beastmaster over there, there's still one more enemy out there. He's a hunter by the name of Worgen and…"

"Already taken care of…" Ensei remarked cockily, gesturing to the unconscious form of said hunter lying across the back of Sasasha's white chocobo.

"Good work. Were you able to get anything out of him?" Cheney asked.

"Not a thing. This guy is surprisingly tight-lipped when it comes to information about his clients." The police chief answered.

"Then that means the only source of information we've got left is the beastmaster." Cid added. "And he's not budging either."

Ensei began to walk towards said beastmaster's body, which was bound with rope a few meters away from the group. "Allow me to…"

"No, allow me."

Before Ensei even noticed, Luso was already infront of the Nu Mou poacher, staring down at his limp form

"You're not getting anything out of me." The long eared monster manipulator exclaimed. Luso only looked down at him in pity.

"Do you…enjoy what you do?" The brown haired soldier asked quietly. The beastmaster averted his eyes towards the ground and let out a heavy sigh.

"Look kid..." The Nu Mou began. "Most of the time for a clan, there's no room for integrity or personal preference or any crap like that. All the big name clans rake in all the mission requests from clients, leaving the smaller clans like us with nothing. We had to take something, and this was our only option. This was my only option."

Luso stared directly into his eyes as a large silence passed over the area, the rest of the group listening in on the two's conversation.

"If it wasn't for these jobs, I wouldn't be able to feed or support my daughter…"

"…but do you really think your daughter would be able to look at you if she found out what you were doing…" Luso remarked in a soft whisper, catching the Nu Mou off guard. The beastmaster looked straight up into the night sky with a face of sheer regret about him. The silence continued to saturate the area, before it was eventually broken.

"…could I have one request before I'm sent to prison?" The beastmaster pleaded softly. The boy nodded for him to continue. "Just make sure she's safe."

The Bangaa police chief stepped up towards him, standing erect next to Luso.

"I don't particularly like to make deals with criminals, but I'll do what I can for her…"

An unseen smile made its way across the Nu Mou's face.

"Alright, what do you want to know?"

"How about you just start from the beginning, and we'll go from there." Cheney suggested, taking a seat in expectation of a long story.

"Very well then…" The beastmaster started with a nod of his head. "The hunter, the berserker, and I were offered a large amount of gil to capture monsters in the Targ Wood area."

"But who could profit off of poached monsters? It would most likely have to be some sort of business or syndicate." The huntsman asked.

"That, I can't say. Once we secured our target, we dropped it off at a designated point where a single Nu Mou awaited us. Whether he was part of a group or working alone is a mystery to me."

"Wait…do you know the Nu Mou's name?" Cheney queried insistently.

"All he said was to call him Marion. Other than that I…" The beastmaster was cut off as his hunter interrogator violently drove his fist into the ground in a mix of frustration and anger, clenching his teeth.

"I can't believe it was him this whole time!" He roared. Everyone stared at him in a mix of confusion and surprise.

"Who are you talking about?" The Police chief inquired.

"Ensei, Cid; do you remember that Nu Mou that was with me the first time we met a couple of days ago?" Cheney asked as he turned to the two.

"I believe so." The blonde Revgaji responded. "You don't think it was…"

"I do." Cheney replied, cutting him off. "It all adds up now. Marion hires a bunch of goons to poach monsters and sells them off to the highest bidder. He's also got the perfect base of operations. What better place to keep the captured animals than the Targ Wood monster bank. No one would ever suspect a thing. Oh, and no offense about the goon part."

"None taken." The beastmaster said waving the comment off.

"Is there anything else you can tell us?" Luso asked.

"Well, tonight was the deadline for our missions. My guess is they've got everything they need and are shipping out tonight through caravan. That's how they did it last time."

"Well now we've got a suspect and a crime, all we need is some concrete proof." The Bangaa chief remarked. "I say we pay Mr. Marion a little visit."

Cid stepped forward.

"And I've got just the plan to do it."

(Wood Village, Monster Bank)

"How much farther until we reach our destination?" A dark blue clad ninja with a worn out cloak asked his Hume subordinate as he walked up beside him. The two strolled at a leisurely pace next to a line of five chocobo-drawn wooden carriages, each with its own pilot.

"Not far, Master. Only about a mile or less to go." The thief responded courteously to his superior.

"Very well." The mysterious ninja remarked. "Once we reach the bank, I'll leave the rest of the operation to you. I have matters elsewhere that I must attend to. I trust you can handle this?"

"Of course, my lord; I will not fail you."

"You had better not…for your sake."

...

"There it is…" Luso stated, eyeing the group of carriages from a small ways away behind some nearby underbrush. Next to him were Cheney, Kanin, and Ensei; each person primed and ready to go.

"You guys know what to do. Wait until I give the signal." Cheney whispered, holding is hand up beside him with his five fingers extended out.

The first carriage passed by their position, followed closely by the second. Kanin twitched little in anticipation, expecting the signal, but managed to keep from jumping. It was when the fifth and final carriage passed that Cheney gave the signal, sharply clenching his hand into a fist.

The quartet stealthily crawled up behind the fifth carriage and jumped onto the back, though barely being able to hold all four of them. Tugging effortlessly, Ensei managed to remove the lock on the back door of the large wagon with his bare hands, and the four shuffled into the interior, closing the door behind them.

"Do I even want to know how you did that with your bare hands?" Luso asked with a deadpan look, pointing to the broken lock in the parivir's hands.

"Eh, I might teach you one day."

"We were lucky security is less than tight with these guys. Otherwise we would have never gotten in." Cheney commented.

"They probably didn't think they would need it. We're pretty much the only ones that know what's going on here." Luso remarked, taking a seat on one of the metal cages that lined the wagon.

"Let's just focus on the mission, Luso. You stay sharp as well, Kanin." Ensei stated silently, just enough for the duo to hear.

"Wow, you're unusually serious about this, Ensei." Luso observed with a quirked eyebrow.

"Well of course I am." The bearded man replied. "Since this is outside the limit of the mission request, Cheney's going to have to pay me even more money."

Everyone minus Ensei sweat dropped.

"We'll make sure to cross that bridge when we come to it…" Cheney said. "Everyone remember the plan?'

"We sneak in with the caravan, wait until they all leave, sneak out of the carriage and unlock the gate for everyone else to arrive. Then all we have to do is catch Marion." Kanin answered happily.

"Good; and now, we wait."

(Targ Wood, Monster Bank, Gate)

"Quickly, they're here!" Marion called out as he gestured for his employees to open the gate. "Get the monsters ready for transportation."

The double doors somewhat large gate of the monster bank creaked opened slowly as two staff members pulled on the handles as hard as they could. The first wagon squeezed into the gap left by the gates, followed by the other identical four.

"Ah, it's good to see you, Sir." The Nu Mou said feigning respect as the Ninja strolled into the compound. The quintet of wagons pulled into a makeshift parking area to the side and the drivers exited the vehicles. The monster bank employees all shuffled to their assigned tasks, managing their best in the prominent midnight darkness illuminated only by a scant few streetlight-esque candles.

"Likewise..." He replied. "Have you secured everything on the list?"

Marion hesitated.

"About that…It seems that one of the orders was…unable to meet the deadline."

The ninja's eyes narrowed.

"But I was able to secure a beast much more valuable than you could have ever imagined." The Morpher reassured him as a bead of sweat rolled down the side of his face. The blonde ninja continued to stare him down before breaking the silence.

"Show it to me." He commanded calmly.

"Very well; follow me."

Marion turned and proceeded to take a few steps, gesturing for the cloaked blonde to follow him. The Nu Mou began to ponder of finally being free of from their grasp for a long time. Nothing could go wrong now…

"Do you mind showing it to me…Marion?"

Except for that…

"Greetings…Cheney. How nice it is to see you." The Morpher responded with angered sarcasm, turning back to see the hunter leaning against the gate.

"Flattery will get you nowhere, Marion." Cheney replied cockily, crossing his arms and smirking. "I know what's been going on here."

"…Is that so?" The shadowy ninja asked, directing his gaze towards the huntsman. With a snap of his fingers, an assortment of dozens of Hume thieves and archers encircled the hunter from seemingly nowhere, their weapons primed and ready to deal with the threat. "Then I'm afraid you won't be leaving this place alive."

The hunter smirked.

"We'll see about that."

Cheney fluidly retrieved a hunting knife from a holster on his person and shoved it into the keyhole of the lock with enough force to break it. Once accomplished, he darted to the side and performed a sharp whistling sound.

Ensei, Kanin, and Luso all leaped out of the back of one of the five carriages, each readying their respective sword or staff. Simultaneously, the huge gust of concentrated air from an Air Render burst through the gate, separating the double wooden doors from their hinges and causing a huge cloud of dust to emerge at the impact site.

The dust began to clear amidst the already prevailing darkness of night, revealing a built Revgaji, a stout Bangaa, two Humes, an aged Viera, and a white chocobo.

The Bangaa police chief began to walk forward while glaring down the ninja and Morpher perpetrators. He also slowly drew out his sword from its sheath.

"Don't move a muscle. You're under arrest."

Marion gritted his teeth as his ninja superior let forth a small chuckle.

"It seems as though you've been cornered, Marion. What will you do now?"

"What are you doing? Don't just stand there. Kill them!" The enraged Nu Mou ordered, pointing in the direction of the Clan Gully group. The thieves charged forward as two of the enemy archers fired arrows in Cid's direction. Meanwhile, Marion turned tail and made a break as best he could deeper into the compound.

"Ha, now we're talking! Finally we get some action!" Ensei grinned devilishly, making a dash and skidding to a halt directly infront of his Revgaji partner. The parivir then drew his katana swiftly and, with a flourish, slashed the oncoming arrows out of the air before they could make impact.

"The battle has begun, you two. To arms!" The Police chief added, motioning for his Hume subordinates to follow him in his charge straight into the group of enemies. Cid also joined them as well.

"It seems there really is no rest for the weary…" Sasasha commented to herself as she mounted her white chocobo. "Come, Magnolia." The Ivory flightless bird ruffled its feathers a bit.

"Kanin, Luso; you two are with me." Cheney ordered, garnering attention of the two adolescents. "Everyone has the situation under control here. We're going after Marion."

"Right!" The duo responded simultaneously. With the hunter leading the way, the trio darted around the perimeter of the compound, taking extra caution to avoid being caught up in the battle being fought by the rest of the group.

….

"Air Render!" Cid called out inwardly, the familiar burst of air launching from his fist into a cluster of enemy thieves. "Are you doing alright, Sasasha?"

The green chocobo, shouldering the aged Viera's form on its back, charged into an archer and knocked him over onto the ground.

"Magnolia and I are doing fine. Though I'd be more concerned about your own well being..." She gestured behind him, where a thief brandishing a large knife attempted to stab Cid in the back. The Revgaji swiveled around as fast as he could, only to find a blue clad Bangaa warrior gripping his assailant by the neck.

"It seems you owe me, Mr. Cid." The police chief remarked.

"Indeed, I do. Just how many of these guys left are there?" The blonde Rev asked, landing a critical punch on an enemy in the meantime.

The chief managed to parry the downward slash of a knife from another opponent as well.

"There doesn't seem to be too many left: I'd prefer to wrap this up and capture that criminal but…."

The captain was suddenly cut off as the mysterious cloaked ninja appeared behind him and gave a swift chop to the back of his neck. The bipedal lizard collapsed to the ground, coughing up a fair amount of blood in his fall.

"Hmm…and here I was told Bangaa were difficult foes…"

Cid took a defensive stance, frightened slightly by the enemy's show of force.

"Am I correct to assume that you are the leader of this horde of poachers?"

The ninja reached into a holster on the side of his leg and fluidly pulled out a small kunai knife.

"Depends; who wants to know?"

Cid narrowed his eyes.

"No one in particular; just a curious Revgaji."

The ninja spun the kunai around the end of his finger, before catching it again.

"You always were a little bit too curious, weren't you Cid."

Cid paused for a moment in surprise.

"Who are you…?"

"That'll have to wait for another time. I have more pressing matters to attend to."

Before he could notice, a certain bearded parivir had managed to get behind him, bringing his katana around the front of his neck.

"You're not going anywhere." He whispered in dreadful tone. The cloaked ninja smirked under his mask.

Marion fumbled around with the padlock of a gargantuan cage that easily cleared at least fifteen feet. The cage was the centerpiece of the inside of the building, which, judging by the hay scattered around the floor and the small cages littering the walls, was some sort of large, open stable. Said cages were currently being emptied by monster bank workers, who seemed to be mostly oblivious to the fighting just outside their building.

Various scratching noises emanated from the shadows behind the frigid iron bars as the criminal hit the lock with a nearby stone he found.

"Sir, if you need help I can…" One of the male workers offered as he approached Marion's back.

"No! Go back and make sure all of the monsters are out of here. We can't waste any time." He replied with a hasty and aggravated tone.

"Sir, is there something wrong? You look tense and…"

Marion shoved the man to the ground, interrupting him and startling the other workers.

"Get away from me and do as you're told!"

From the other side of the building, a single arrow soared directly in the direction of Marion, creating a sharp whistling sound as it sailed. The Nu Mou managed to sidestep it by a hair's breadth, a mixed look of surprise and fear plastered across his features.

He peered into the slight darkness pervading in the other side of the structure, only to see a chocolate haired boy with yellow overalls, a white mage blonde with an ivory colored black mage hat, and a hunter with a pissed off demeanor.

"Finally found you, Marion…" Cheney remarked, bringing his bow back up and placing another arrow in its proper place. The huntsman's eyes darted around the room, taking note of the small amount of workers staring in frightened confusion. "If you all would like to avoid a life in prison, I suggest you step away from that man. He's under arrest."

"On what grounds!" Another of the workers asked.

"On the grounds that the monsters at this compound are all illegally poached. Now take them out of here. You're coming with us, Marion."

The employees all turned toward their employer, who had finally managed to remove the padlock.

"Heh…you think I'm going to give up that easily…"

"Just give it up, Marion. It's three against one; you can't win." Luso commented, readying his sword and getting into position.

"Correction…three against two." The Morpher announced, a smirk appearing from ear to ear. From inside his Morpher outfit, he pulled out a small ivory orb and placed both hands upon it. What followed was a bright glow that illuminated the entire building, eventually dying down to reveal the effect of Marion's technique.

The trio and the workers opened their eyes to see a three foot tall, orb shaped bird with an ivory hue about its feathers. The creature stood in the place where Marion had just been, in front of the colossal cage.

"…a chicken….?" Luso remarked in a dry and anticlimactic fashion. "Is that really…"

The cluckatrice made an about face, turning to the direction of the cage. After a large breath, it let out a terribly loud shriek that resounded throughout the building.

"What's he doing!" Kanin asked, raising her voice over the morphed Nu Mou's call.

"That's one of the cluckatrice's abilities. It's called Wake-up Call." Cheney answered, as the transformed Marion finished the technique and quieted down. "Only question is…what exactly is he waking up?"

Just then, two colossal sized bird claws, both easily the height of Luso in span, gripped the bars of the cage and began to push the cage door open. The thud of the beast's footsteps shook the earth beneath them ever so slightly.

The humongous creature stepped out of the shadows of the cage, revealing itself to be an immense variant of the creature Marion morphed into. Though for some reason, it was covered in blood and scars.

The beast let out a shriek even louder than Marion's, striking fear into everyone present. Screams were let out as the employees made a break for the exit of the building, but the Clan Gully trio held their ground. The white feathered, blood littered monster stumbled forward, barely managing to keep itself up.

"You...bastard…" Cheney spoke angrily to himself, just audible enough to be heard by his two companions. The gargantuan creature began to stalk towards them, and the hunters face became livid.

"WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO THESE CREATURES!"

"Well, if it isn't Ensei Rou." The ninja proclaimed in a comfortably surprised voice as the parivir's katana edged closer to his neck.

"That's correct." The samurai-esque warrior responded dryly. "Would you like a prize?"

"Perhaps at another time." The cloaked shinobi retorted. With one swift elbow to the gut, the shadowy warrior managed to break free of his capturer's hold, though not unscarred. A large but shallow gash across his upper right arm signified the spot where Ensei had managed to cut him.

The ninja soared into the air, easily managing to land on the large gate of the compound in a single bound. Ensei, Cid, and Sasasha all stared up at his ghostly silhouette, his cloak fluttering with a sudden night draft.

"It's unfortunate that you had to be the ones to take down this operation." He proclaimed, snapping his fingers. Immediately, what was left of the enemy force dashed towards his position, those who couldn't reach his height instead filing out of the gate as fast as they could.

"Stop where you're at you…" One of the Bangaa police chief's men called out, heading in the same direction before being stopped by Ensei.

"Don't bother. You'd just get yourself killed."

"It seems you have some common sense after all." The ninja remarked blankly. "I'll say this only once. Do not cross us again, or we will strike you down like the insects that you are." And with that, the shinobi disappeared into the darkness, along with the remainder of his troupe.

"Who was that?" Sasasha asked in a quiet tone, after a moment of pervading silence.

Another elongated pause appeared, before Cid let out a heavy sigh, his eyes narrowing menacingly. The old Viera began to regret asking, noting the Revgaji's change in demeanor.

"Just…an old friend…"

….

"WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO THESE CREATURES!"

"I'll tell you what." Marion said, speaking in their native tongue. "I beat this accursed beast to the point where it would attack anything that dared to come near it."

"But…but why?" Kanin stuttered, surprised at how a person could do such an evil deed.

"We aren't just capturing beasts and selling them as exotic pets. Most of these monsters will go off to participate in blood sport. I'm just ensuring that they're ready for the challenge. I've managed to turn this Crushatrice from a docile mother into a beast of war, vicious enough to crush anything and everything in its path."

"Everything…except the one thing in the world that it could never attack…its hatchlings…am I right?" The hunter asked emotionlessly, referring to the Nu Mou's transformation.

"Exactly, the perfect shield against the perfect prize fighting machine."

The hunter narrowed his eyes at the poacher.

"Try not to hurt the Crushatrice too much, guys."

Cheney aggressively brought back the string of his bow and let loose an arrow at the transformed Marion. The giant white crushatrice barely managed to protect him, stepping in front of the arrow's path and letting the arrowhead pierce its left foot.

"I can't believe someone would do something like this!" Luso yelled as he charged forward at the beast with Dagriohm at the ready, clenching the sword with his right hand. Kanin followed just a few feet behind him. The crushatrice let out a loud squawk as it coughed up a fair amount of blood from its beak, though it managed to keep standing.

"Wake up, boy. This isn't a game we're playing. It's survival of the strongest." Marion called back in an equally loud tone. "…and if you can't adjust, then you'll die."

The beast lifted its foot into the air as the duo approached, bringing it down as soon as the brown haired soldier was in range. Luso stopped short as the foot crashed into the ground, Kanin darting to the side.

"This isn't good." Cheney thought, examining the situation while firing off a few shots at the beast from a distance. "The thing's so traumatized that it's gone berserk. I've got to calm it down somehow without harming it."

"Watch out, Kanin!" Luso shouted, the white mage turning around to see one of the beasts claws reaching to grab her. The girl jumped into the air, barely escaping the beasts grasp. Her efforts turned out to be in vain, as the avian monster's other claw stretched into the air and clasped around her small frame.

The blonde haired girl let out a small but painful cry, the bird's talon compressing around her with every second passing.

"KANIN!" The chocolate haired adolescent called out.

"Luso, stay back." Cheney remarked aggressively. "There's no way you'd be able to…"

"Well if you're not going to help her then I will. Somebody's about to die and you're worried about hurting that thing."

"Of course I am. If that monster dies, then it'll just be another innocent creature that I couldn't save." The hunter yelled back.

"Oh yeah…?" Luso asked in a still, small voice. "What about her? Isn't she innocent?"

Cheney fell silent for a moment as Luso turned and began to charge at the beast in an attempt to save his clan mate.

"That's right." The hunter stated inwardly as time seemed to almost stand still for him. "I had almost forgotten what I stood for. This whole business with poachers had made me forget what I had set out to do."

The huntsman leveled his bow at the gargantuan beast.

"Time to set this plan in motion."

With a release of the string, he let an arrow fly from his position. The projectile seemed to leave a slight golden trail in its wake as cut through the air at an alarmingly rapid rate.

"You're arrows are useless, hunter! You can't pierce my beast so easily." Marion jeered with sadistic glee.

Cheney smirked.

"Who said I was aiming for her?"

Luso looked above him as Cheney's arrow seemed to curve in mid air, a high and wide curve at that. It completely managed to bypass the Crushatrice, despite the monster's best efforts to take the attack.

"What! Sidewinder!" Marion barely managed to waddle out of harm's way as the arrow descended from above and struck like lightning in his previous position. The Crushatrice did its best to spin to face its 'offspring' and began to struggle towards it, most likely to shield it. Kanin had fallen silent, unconscious from the strain of the bird's grip from what Cheney could tell.

"Good, the beast took the bait." Cheney mentally cheered. "Now time to spring a bird."

While the beast's attention was focused on the transformed Marion, a small bright blue glow began to surround the hunter's form. Luso looked on amazed at the magical aura around him.

"To protect mankind from the dangerous monsters….I have trained in the skills of the hunter…" Luso heard the huntsman begin. "…and to protect the innocent creatures from the evils of mankind…I have acquired the abilities…of the blue mage…"

Cheney's eyes narrowed at the morphed form of his adversary as he spoke his next words.

"…My sympathy…spreads in both directions…"

The hunter opened his mouth as wide as he could. A curt but ear-splitting roar resulted, shaking even the walls of the building. Before Marion could even put together what had just happened, he suddenly realized that his magic had suddenly disappeared, leaving his regular Morpher attire.

"Y-You…what did you do!" The Nu Mou began to panic.

"It's a blue magic skill called Roar. It negates certain magical enhancements, you're morphed state falling under that category." Cheney explained. "Of course, I didn't have the Mist to use it before, on account of the small amount in here. I'm guessing you did that to render most magic-using monsters ineffective."

The Crushatrice, who was already facing Marion, instantly recognized the form of the being who virtually tortured it. The creature then dropped the unconscious form of Kanin from its claw and began to stalk straight for the Nu Mou.

"Don't worry, I got ya." Luso proclaimed, barely managing to catch the blonde haired girl in his arms.

"W-Wait…s-s-stay…stay back!" Marion stammered out, tripping and falling in his effort to escape the oncoming wrath of the beast.

The creature began to slow down a bit, heavily breathing through its beak while drops of blood plummeted to the ground all around its massive frame. Its weight seemed to become heavier with each step, until it could no longer support itself, collapsing to the ground with an earth-shaking thud.

The Nu Mou saw this as his chance to make a break for it. Mustering all of his strength, he attempted to run, but was stopped dead in his tracks when he collided with the muscular frame of a certain Revgaji.

"And just where do you think you're going?" Cid asked, staring down at the Morpher with an amused grin.

"I believe he was trying to run away, wasn't he Magnolia?" Sasasha commented, her chocobo 'steed' letting out a playful caw as the duo trotted into view.

"It really annoys me when they try to run away." The Bangaa police chief muttered, rubbing the back of his neck as he followed Sasasha in.

"Good to see you all so soon." Cheney remarked.

"Guys! You made it!" Luso called out, his face brightening up before remembering the girl in his arms. "Um…could one of you take a look at Kanin. She hasn't woken up yet."

"Bring her to me child. I'll have a look." Sasasha requested, the boy following her orders by setting her down gently onto the hay covered ground. The Viera gave her a once over as Cheney walked over to her as well.

"Will she be okay?" The chocolate haired hunter queried.

"She'll be fine in a while. She just suffered from a slight case of magical exertion, that's all." The chocobo raiser explained. "It happens when you try to use a spell without the proper amount of mist. A good night's rest should do her fine."

"That's good." Luso exclaimed. "Wait, what did she use a spell on? I don't remember her using any."

Cheney looked equally as puzzled, before he realized something very important.

"There's no way, she couldn't have…"

He jogged over to the felled Crushatrice, who was breathing heavily in its sleep. He checked around the area of the beast's hand that had caught the girl previously, noticing that in comparison to the rest of the bird, the area around the claw was completely healed.

"What are you staring at, Cheney?" Luso asked curiously, walking up next to him.

Cheney displayed a genuine smile.

"I don't believe it. The entire time that the creature had her, she was healing it with her cure spells." The hunter proclaimed, turning his head over to the slumbering white mage. "Poor thing must have worn herself out."

"Alright, all the employees have been accounted for." Ensei said to the police chief as he trotted into the building. "Your two officers should be able to handle it from…"

It was then that the bearded parivir looked down to where his unconscious offspring lay out cold, not to mention covered with small scuffs.

"Alright…who's the idiot who touched my daughter. He obviously doesn't fear death."

"Easy, Ensei. Nobody did anything to her." Cid announced, dragging Marion over to the group's position.

"Well, actually…" Luso began, before Cheney placed a hand over his mouth.

"The crushatrice is already on the endangered species list. Let's not make it any more endangered than it needs to be." The hunter whispered to the boy.

"Thank you for your assistance, Clan Gully." The Police chief began as sincerely as he could. "I honestly doubt that we could have stopped this crime without your help; and for that, I thank you."

"Heh, no problem." Luso smiled. "Anything to help."

"Indeed." The reptilian chief walked over to Cid, grabbing the former poacher and securing his hands with some rope he carried on his person. "You're coming with me. Anything you say can and will be used against you, so I advise you keep your mouth shut."

"You think you've won?" Marion jeered maniacally. "You don't honestly think that I was the only one running an operation like this, do you Cheney?" The hunter remained quiet. "This thing is a whole lot bigger than just me."

"All right; that's enough out of you." The Chief barked, yanking him towards the door.

"Trust me, Cheney. Don't go any further than this. The deeper you get involved in this, the deeper your grave grows…and that woman will make sure you're in it." The Nu Mou was finally dragged out of earshot range, leaving the group in an eerie silence, broken seconds later by Cid

"So what do you plan to do from here?"

"Well…" The huntsman started, slinging his bow over his shoulder and cracking his knuckles. "I'm going to find each and every one of these operations, grind them into dust, and free every innocent animal I can."

"Heh, you've got fire, kid. I'll give you that." Ensei remarked with a cocky smile as he patted him on the back. "Wherever you go, we'll definitely back you up."

"Actually, I'd like to talk to you about that." The bowman said. "Would you mind if I…perhaps…travel around with your clan for a while. It becomes rather lonely by myself, and I'm sure I could be of some assistance. Plus I have a feeling that I'll find more of these operations if I stick with you guys."

"I don't know…that's really left up to our leader." Ensei answered. "Cid?"

The Revgaji mulled over the thought, weighing the pros and cons in his head.

"Sure…why not. We could use a ranged fighter in our arsenal."

Cheney smiled.

"Then it's settled. I will give my best for Clan Gully."

Luso approached the newly appointed member and held out his hand in a friendly fashion. The two then shook hands firmly.

"Welcome to the family."

"You know what this means though, right Ensei?" Cid asked the parivir in a suggestive tone, realizing an important detail. The bearded man gave him a questioning look.

"It means that all of Cheney's funding now becomes ours after I get all the paperwork in for his admittance into the clan."

Ensei's eyes literally lit up.

"You don't mean…all the meat and booze we can stomach using Cheney's money, do you?"

Cid mirrored his partner's action.

"Oh yes…I do."

Cheney and Luso stared on at the two in a mix of amazement and fear.

"I'm screwed…aren't I?" The hunter asked blankly.

Luso responded in the same tone.

"Yes…Yes, you are."

The Hunter joins the Clan!


(End Chapter Six)

Alright, over six and a half thousand words. Hope that will make up even a little bit after giving you the chapter drought. Like I said, real life gets in the way of story time.

Any details and loose ends will be cleared up at the beginning of next chapter, since I really just want to go to bed now. Thanks for reading, and review if you want.

Oh and if anyone wants to suggest anything (character ideas, etc.), feel free. I have most of the story worked out, but I've left it very open ended to where I can insert suggestions, so again, feel free to add it in a review.

Until next time.