A Week in Tokyo

Chapter One: Bus Stop

Van stood at a brightly colored shack with his hands shoved deep in the pockets of his light brown pants. The sign overhead was spelled in Mystic Moon letters that he could not decipher. He was trying to remember how he had managed to get himself into this mess in the first place.

Allen stood next to him with a frown on his face, arms crossed over the blue straps of his knight attire. He didn't seem the least bit amused to be there either. Dryden and Gaddes were there standing on opposite sides of the two spitting and cursing. Van let out a heavy breath and stared at the empty road in front of him. Where were they anyway?

Van thought about the events that lead to the lot of them waiting next to what appeared to be a Mystic Moon trade road with a hint of disgust reflected in his eyes.

A week before, the four men had planned a hunting trip. Allen figured it was a good way to get Van's mind off of his royal council. The council began pressuring him to find a wife after the first year Van and Hitomi had been separated and things fell into a kind of turmoil after that. Every day after the first year apart from Hitomi, one of his annoying council members would come up and ask him if he had found a bride.

Van had made it very clear that he did not intend to marry any of the women that they showed to him but his words didn't seem to register. Every first week out of the new month Van was forced to go have dinner at some duchess house or go horseback riding with a princess from some obscure country he had never heard of. It was enough to drive any man insane.

After five years of putting up with this Van was starting to crack. He would purposely 'forget' to go on dates, which caused strained relationships with the other kingdoms that his council members had to apologize for later. This made the head council member, Vladimir Kent, do something unthinkable.

Vlad proclaimed that Van would have to get married by the end of the year or the leadership would be passed to another family line which supposedly lived in a neighboring village. The family that lived within the borders of this village apparently had ties with Van's great grandfather. Many of the council members had sensed deceit from the moment those words left Vlad's lips and predicted the worse for Van if he did not choose a bride within the allotted time frame.

Allen happened to be traveling to Fanelia on royal business with Gaddes and Dryden when he caught wind of the news. He figured that the best way to get Van's mind off of things was to invite him on a hunting trip with his friends. This is where the trouble began.

Vlad was already furious that Van was not taking initiative to set up a royal lineage and when he heard Allen make the suggestion of going on a hunting trip it seemed to tug at his last nerve of patience. "That's out of the question." He had hissed at the council meeting. Merle had had enough of Vlad smooth talking the council and proclaimed a 'Saet Vait' which had the effect of removing a shady council member from the palace on grounds of treason. Van admittedly could have kissed Merle for that political move.

Van could do nothing as the king, but as the royal advisor, Merle had the power to fire the head councilman with the majority vote from the rest of the council members. Most of the council anonymously agreed to get rid of the old nag on the grounds that he only had his own interests at heart.

Vlad and five other council members left that day, mainly because they supported the old wicked man, and also in part because he had shady dealings with them outside of council affairs. Six new members were added to the council and the action of Van finding a bride within a year was dropped, much to his relief.

Van and Allen decided to go on their hunting trip shortly after as celebration of their victory. Merle was given extra privileges to go into the palace kitchen for snacks, which in her mind made her political move the best thing she had ever done in her short career. While Van, Allen, Gaddes, and Dryden were away, Vlad had been cooking up a scheme to get back at Van and the other members of the council.

It happened that Van did not really have any other living family members and that Vlad was trying to get his own son, Charden, to take the throne. Charden looked enough like Van to pass as his cousin, save the fact that his hair was blond and he had the bluest eyes you could imagine. He was a strange positive copy of the dark noble king. Even Hitomi would have been startled at how similar the two looked save the color of their eyes, hair, and skin (Charden's skin was a sickly white color). Charden was just as wicked as his father despite his fair complexion.

He wanted Fanelia for selfish reasons and it wasn't beneath him to kill Van at his father's command to achieve this goal. However, he would rather do it politically to humiliate Van before his imminent death. With his father removed from the council this was not possible and it was giving him a terrible headache. "I want to kill Van NOW!" He had whined, holding a glass of Vino in his hands. His father had only grinned. "You will get the time soon, my son." That time came sooner than Van would have liked.

Vlad made sure that the five ex- council members followed Van and the others into the woods outside of Fanelia. The armed men had the intention of killing Van and his company without leaving a speck of evidence. This became apparent as they were setting up camp. Gaddes was the first to hear the branches breaking underneath the ex-councilmen's footsteps. Allen drew his sword next and Dryden followed suit. Van took out his royal sword and frowned.

Suddenly the men were ambushed. The ex-council members came at them swinging ropes and axes and other terrible weapons that were sure to cause damage to them. Van managed to strike down the first man and Allen struck down the second. Gaddes took down two other men and Dryden took out the last. The ex-council members lay dead at their feet and none of the men said a word. They stood there staring in disbelief at first and then the panic settled in.

If the people of Fanelia knew that Van had murdered his ex-council members in cold blood it could mean political upheaval or worse. Allen, Gaddes, and Dryden were sure to be found guilty as political conspirators and hung for their actions. The men had to think of something fast.

Van decided to bury the men in an inconspicuous location until they could think of what to do. Allen and the other two helped him carry out the task. They had just begun to think about the next step to take when something odd happened. Van's pendant (inherited from Hitomi) reacted and sent all of the men flying up in the air in a great pillar of light. They could not control their bodies as they were sucked up to the mystic moon and tossed into a sea of pines.

They landed harshly on the forest floor, their weapons tossed aside. Rubbing their sore areas they searched for their weapons and returned them to their belts. A few hours of wandering through the dense forest of the Mystic Moon had led them to their current position, out of breath, and each secretly hoping that they would find some sign of civilization before they died of thirst. All of their hunting gear had been left back on Gaea. The only items they had were the swords they had tucked back in the scabbards upon reaching the cursed planet.

They sat next to what appeared to be a road with strange yellow markings on it. Behind them was a strange sort of shack with a bench underneath and Mystic Moon writing above it. None of the men were sure what purpose it served but the overhang kept them cool long enough to contemplate their situation. Finally, Dryden broke the silence by clearing his throat.

"Well, without a proper way to get back we're just going to have to find a way to fit in until we do. It just so happens that in my studies I have learned a few Mystic Moon languages. This sign says, err...Buzz Stopee."

Allen wrinkled his nose.

"What the hell is a Buzz Stopee?"

Dryden shrugged.

"You've got me."

Gaddes looked up at the sign and marveled at the shape of the Mystic Moon letters.

"What kind of people go out and write weird stuff like that on a lean-to...or whatever this strange building is, anyway? I hope it's not some Mystic Moon curse."

Van let out a heavy sigh.

"Hitomi told me something about Buzz Stopees. I think you wait at them. Some magic machine picks you up and you ride them to your next location."

Allen raised one of his eyebrows.

"It sounds complicated. None of us have Mystic Moon powers like Hitomi. Can't you just get that necklace to take use back to Gaea?"

Van shook his head solemnly.

"I can only use it to project visions of myself to her. That is how we've kept in touch all of these years. If I could use it to transport myself to the Mystic Moon I would have done it in a heartbeat."

Dryden rubbed his chin deep in thought.

"You might have something there. Try contacting Hitomi. I'm sure that she will know how to get us out of this mess."

Van's eyes lit up momentarily. The thought of being able to talk to Hitomi...possibly in person...brightened his spirits.

"Alright, I will give it a shot."

Van closed his eyes and thought about Hitomi with all of his heart. Eventually, her small sweet image appeared before him. Van smiled and Gaddes leaned forward to get a better look and make sure he wasn't imagining things.

"Van, are you smiling? What are you so happy about?"

Van didn't answer. He was too happy and excited to speak. Hitomi smiled at him and gave his ghost image a long embrace.

"Van, you've come to see me again! I thought that you weren't going to talk to me until you got back from your hunting trip with the guys. I told you not to worry and have fun for a change!"

Van's ghost image held Hitomi for a few minutes but quickly pulled her away. The grave look in Van's eyes made Hitomi's smile fade.

"Hitomi, I am sorry that I am talking to you on such an urgent note but Allen, Gaddes, Dryden and I have been transported to the Mystic Moon. We don't know where we are but we seem to be under something called a Buzz Stopee. Is there any way that you can help us?"

Hitomi's eyes glazed over with fear.

"Oh Van, you could be any number of places! How did you get yourself into this mess?"

Van explained all about his confrontation with the council and his ill fated hunting trip. Hitomi's Frown became deeper.

"That's terrible! I can't believe that the men you were supposed to trust betrayed you like that! Well, the only thing to do is just...just wait for me, ok? I'm going to do a tarot reading and see if I can find you. Whatever you do, don't move!"

Van nodded and smiled at her reassuringly as he watched her fumble through her belongings to get out her tarot deck.

Meanwhile, Allen was watching Van's reactions to the imaginary person in front of him and was beginning to think he had gone mad. He had called out to him a dozen times and Van had refused to answer. He finally gave up and turned to Dryden for support.

"This is just perfect. We have one man out of his wits and the rest of us have no clue how we're supposed to get out of this mess. Do you have any advice? You're supposed to be the smartest man on Gaea. Now is your chance to prove it."

Dryden stole a look at Van and then glanced up at the sign.

"I think the best thing to do it wait here until that Buzz or whatever shows up. A machine is likely to have an operator that we can ask to help us find our way to Hitomi. If memory serves she lived in a place called...err...Jaypaan. We'll just ask when the Buzz operator shows up."

Gaddes gave a small huff.

"You mean YOU will ask. None of us here speaks this crazy language except for you. I just hope you know enough to get us off this rock."

Van was beginning to sway back and forth which had the other men worried. In his vision, Hitomi was throwing him a bunch of items to hold onto while she searched for her deck. Finally she managed to retrieve it from underneath a pile of socks and she took the other items out of Van's hands.

"There we go. I knew that I put my cards somewhere. I haven't used them since I returned to earth. I promised I wouldn't use them unless I absolutely had to. I think this definitely counts as an emergency."

Van watched Hitomi focus her energy into the deck and ask the cards where Van and her other companions had ended up. She concentrated hard and saw the image of her city's bus stop. Hitomi gasped and opened her eyes.

"Van, You are outside of Tokyo! I can't believe it. Ok...don't panic. I am going to grab my bus pass and meet you guys there. Whatever you do, DON'T MOVE!"

Van nodded and gave Hitomi a small hug before she grabbed the keys to her apartment, put on her backpack (which had her bus pass inside of it) and rushed out the door, almost forgetting to lock it on the way out. Van snapped back to reality and saw his friends giving him concerned looks.

Gaddes patted him on the back and said, "Man, what happened to you? Are you feeling alright?"

Van gave a curt nod in his direction.

"I'm fine. I was talking with Hitomi, like Dryden suggested I should. She says that she is on her way to pick us up as we speak."

Dryden did a small victory dance.

"What a relief. I knew the girl would come through for us. Let's just hope that she knows a way to get us off this miserable planet."

Allen nodded in agreement and Van frowned internally. He couldn't say he was happy that he had to meet Hitomi under these circumstances. A part of him had the terrible feeling that their time together would be brief. His first chance at seeing her in almost five years and he wouldn't even have time to talk to her about what had been going on in Fanelia or the rest of Gaea. This was shaping up to be the worst hunting trip that Van had ever had the misfortune of going on.