A/N: *creeps up in a cloud of smoke, as thunder crackles in the background* I AM ALLLLLLLLLLLLLLIVE.

And I've received your death threats, and whoever threw that proverbial stink eye my way last week at the market. I SAW YOU! I KNEW YOU WERE ONE OF MY READERS! I SAW YOU. (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻) *blinks * I don't have an excuse other than mentally exhausting work and Tumblr. Tumblr is a procrastination tool of the devil.

And on top of the apology for taking so long, I have to warn you. This is a dry chapter. Not because I've lost my ticket to creative land, but if I didn't get this rudimentary stuff out my head I was going to crazy. But it's still a good read (._.)

*whispers* I love you all.

Delicate Covenant

A soothsayer bids you beware the ides of March.

-Brutus

The walls of Chiyoda always held secrets. They whispered things, yelled them, passed them along; intricately behind smiles and respectful bows. Everything you'd do and everything you've ever done was seen by the walls, committed to a memory not easily forgotten and Kuno hated it. The looming white walls of the Tower Gate was the first reminder of many why he had escaped the place, turned his back and decided that returning would be a fate worse than death. Yet, as he glanced at how the soil rebounded and molded around his footprint after he took the first step on the land that birthed him, he realized that the sting of his return wouldn't be something he could keep quiet. Because the walls, Kami bless them, blared his arrival in high fashion.

Sighing as he approached the passing station of the Tower Gate, he watched with a bored expression as a sentry trudged down the stairwell, his rifle slung across his back. They weren't used to much action, nobody dared to approach the walls of the city and its stronghold without a very very good reason. The sentry still guarding the upper wall had his gun trained on Kuno, so he remembered to stay very still. Bored sentries are trigger happy sentries.

"Your business here?"

Kuno chuckled darkly; none of this was making him the least bit happy. "Coming Home party?"

The guard leveled his gun at the Kuno, not appreciating the joke. He rolled his eyes. The thought that he'd ever have to fish this out again was really allowing him to realize that he was about to set foot in Chiyoda and every stupid THING he had ever tried to escape would be staring him in the face. Waiting to pour him juice and tie his shoes, run his bathwater, peel his grapes (grapes don't need to be peeled, he never understood that). A legion of servants to reduce him to a title, and not a grown man. They'd expect him to abide by rules that seriously only made sense to the simple inane drones that occupied this place. He'd had to remember which fork goes where, why he shouldn't eat with his hands, burping wasn't allowed, he couldn't curse. He couldn't do anything but be everything that he wasn't.

Pulling out a weathered identification card, he grimaced. About forty years ago, face recognition was the only line of defense between people who could enter the palace and people who were turned away. The sentry guards were to be able to identify every noble, servant, military personnel, by face. That backfired enough times for the intelligence department to develop an identification system that didn't rely on who had a mole and who wore glasses.

The sentry's brow furrowed before slowly ascending to his hairline. He read and re-read the card, his look alternating between the face presenting the card and the picture on the card. "Lord Kuno Tatewaki? As in…"

He snatched the card before sliding it through the reader and pressed his thumb up against the coded key fob. "You can drop the Lord part, but yes." He smiled back smugly as the reader confirmed his identity.

"Now this next part might be a little hard, so follow me. I need you to gain clearance for Tendo Nabiki, and…KunoKodachiandherparty."

"KodakanaWHATA?" The sentry regarded with him confusion and impatience, although being in the presence of a noble; he tried to rein the feeling in.

Kuno sighed before looking back over his shoulder at his younger sister who sat at the edge of the forest clearing with an untamed haughtiness that only she could exude even in a situation like this. He'd explained to her after she dropped the dime on her recent activities that she'd have to return to Chiyoda. She knew of her pending exile, as well as her clan's blackballing her until she came to clear her name. Problem was, there really wasn't a way to clear her name, so the moment she stepped foot onto the Chiyodian compound, she'd probably be shackled to a wall and her every moved watched. Her own fault really; she was involved with a crime syndicate, involved in a kidnapping and the resulting imprisonment of a neighboring clan's heir and there was no telling what other things she'd found her way into.

"Kuno Kodachi. I need clearance for Kuno Kodachi."

An hour later they found themselves on the inside of the Kuno Clan's holding barge, waiting for their Father to meet them.

Kodachi sighed forlornly at the bars holding her captive, the caviler attitude she's pressed into anyone within a foot of her blaring loudly. "This is barbaric. I don't understand why they think they have to go to SUCH lengths. It's not as if I could use my supreme flexibility and shimmy my way out of here. That's not possibleat all, now is it?"

She kicked at the floor of the holding barge, not appreciating the layer of dust collected on its surface. "There isn't a CLEAN holding cell? You useless baseless baboons don't have a nice cup of tea to offer me? To warm me up? I am a NOBLE OF CHIYODA! Bring the warden here! I let his stupid little daughter attend my birthday gala two years ago! At the last minute, no less! The least he can do in appreciation is bring me a chair…a CLEAN chair to sit down on!"

"Oh pipe down! You're not here as a guest, so stop acting like one. You are a prisoner; nobody owes you a *dram thing." Nabiki snapped at the woman, completely tired of her attitude. The entire trip here, she squawked and hollered about everything. Nothing suited her and she made that fact known tenfold. She thought once they got the hellbat in a cell, she'd understand what position she was in. But apparently Kodachi understood nothing, except herself.

Kodachi, shocked anytime Nabiki opened her mouth to refute her words (which was often, as in every other word out of Kodachi's mouth), opened her own to shrill out an insult but was stopped as their father walked through the door of the barge.

To say that the Father of the Kuno clan was eccentric would be an understatement. He kept to the tradition drab of Kunoian wardrobe, but never hesitated to "partying up" his attire. The loud colors of his hakama announcing his arrival before his booming voice did.

Without addressing anyone in the room, he paced the bars holding his daughter captive. He never bothered a glance in her direction. Or that's what could be guessed due to the fact that the pair of colorful shades never left his face.

"What was the one thing I taught you Kodachi?" His voice was strong and gruff, relaying everything opposite of the goofy way his expressions stretched across his face.

Kodachi smiled uneasily. "Um. Always tip the servants so they don't spread your gossip?"

"No. The OTHER thing, daughter."

"Oh!" She cleared her throat, and primly smoothed the imaginary wrinkles in her dress out before answering. "A lady of Kuno never tries to scratch out the eyes of visiting dignitaries because they are wearing the same gown as her." Kodachi looked hopeful, griping the bars, bringer her face as close to them without letting the filthy things touch her face. "Right?"

Kuno frowned in confusion. His sister was an unfounded nitwit.

"You seemed to have remembered every rule, except for the most important one."

"Err..rum….there's an important rule?"

Father Kuno turned on his heel, a bellowing laugh pushing the corners of his mouth to eerie proportions. "YES! There is an important rule! The one I say is important at the time! And you seemed to have forgotten it!"

"But that's becau-"

"That's no excuse, you have to be ready for any rule, ready to understand and kneel to the natural instinct as a Kuno to follow. That's where you failed Kodachi."

Kuno figured if he closed his eyes really reallytight, he could ignore that this was one of the main reasons he'd left this feckless place to begin with. There were rules. An array of tight restrictive rules that his father enforced like a dictator but always with a smile of a doting parent. The subjects didn't know whether to support their leader or run away in fear of what abstract insane regularity he would implement next. From the guards' talk, last week it was haircuts for all of the children, the week before that every subject was forced to dye all of their red shirts to purple because he'd decided he liked the color better. Because the one thing that matter to his father the most was…

"Uniformity, Kodachi. The rule you have broken is that you've managed to set yourself apart from every other Kunoian noblewoman. You will forever be tainted as the Kuno that 'lost it.'" He maintained his smile, but it was tinted with disappointment.

"The fact that at some point she was considered sane is hilarious." Nabiki offered from her corner, an unimpressed look scoring her features. Kuno had given her forewarning on the antics of his family, which was mild compared to hers, but still bizarre in its own way. When the elder Kuno turned to look at her in spurned surprise, she waved another equally bored hand his way. "Go on; continue with whatever you were saying to the nutcase."

"And who are you?" Father Kuno lowered his glasses marginally to inspect the girl's presence. He'd never seen her before, yet he was most surely accurate in knowing she wasn't of noble blood. She had a roughness around the edges, which he'd admit he could appreciate, but also sensed too much independence and confidence to be tamed.

"A Tendo. What's it to you?" She easily missed the elbow Tatewaki threw her way in an effort to shut her up, but the last few days journey riled her up for any meeting with these so called noble people. Living behind a gate of reinforced security, void of any real danger unless they create it themselves, didn't sit well with her. With their fancy cutlery, ornamental selection of food, and most important the whole mismanagement of disposable income. The whole lot of them made her sick.

She smiled as Father Kuno sputtered for a second before regaining his composure and redirecting his attention to his daughter. That could be handled later, he mused. "So. What do you think your punishment should be? I'm trying to find a way to overturn your exile. I would banish you to the summerhouse, but as recourse of your actions leaving you there to run it like some kind of communist doesn't sit well with me."

"Well, yes. About the summer compound." She laughed nervously. "Shortly after a slight…ahem…altercation there…it kind of burned to the ground. Something about damaged walls and an electrical wiring mishap. So. Yes, you see. That's not an option of any sort."

Kuno tried to swallow the laugh with success at his father's hypocritical words, Kodachi's timid explanation and then his father's silent rage as his smile fell a few notches. He took the chance to speak before the two wound themselves us in another nonsensical argument. "She may have a chance to right her wrongdoings."

Regaining his composure, he peered over his shoulder at his son. "And how is that?" He took the time to finally take in Kuno. His son. The one who had abandoned the paradise under his rule, for a common life. He lamented on how the boy never visited like he said he would, and he never, not once ever, took back his vow to denounce the house of Kuno. It bothered him, to the point where he lost sleep over it. But he loved the boy.

"She's going to have to deliver a public apology to the Taichousen house of course for her actions, but even those martial arts nuts may not take anything less than blood as a fair trade for what Kodachi has done. Her only true salvation is offering up whatever information she has," and he focused his gaze on her, "all the information that she has. If it's not enough to locate Akane, then she make whatever calls, visit whoever she must, to get the information we'll need."

"Well, that's not going to work, son."

"And why not?"

"They found Akane. Although I haven't seen or heard word of her for a few days, which is strange, I usually know everything around here. But she's a very beautiful girl. Lovely haircut."

Kodachi smiled from her cell when what she'd told them was confirmed. "See! Told you she'd be here."

"Look, we aren't supposed to know this, due to Kodachi's interference with …well everything dealing with the Taichousen clan every chance she got. But I have my ways of gathering the information needed. "

Nabiki was up and out of her chair in a flash, her face a mere's breath away from the elder of the Kuno household ."And for the love of God, why didn't you people contact her family? Do you know we thought she was dead? A car bomb ripped through her vehicle. Her apartment was ransacked. We haven't heard from her for DAYS, and she was sitting here, safe, and nobody thought to get in touch with her family? Fucking kind of operation are you jackasses running?"

She was about to explode. Literally. Her anger manifested itself in a pressure that was lining her temple, causing her to squint against the brightness of the sun gleaming through the open windows of the holding facility.

"Young lady. Use your head. If Akane had been through all of that, don't you think there was a good reason why her family wouldn't have been contacted?" He fixed her with a level of seriousness that even Kuno hadn't seen in years. "You seem like a very smart woman. What reason would the city of Chiyoda have for keeping a woman's whereabouts secret?"

Nabiki glared, unblinking for a full minute before released the breathe she was holding and stepped back and relented. "She's still in danger, isn't she?"

"Yes. You might think we're useless people. …don't argue; I can feel your dislike of us. It's screaming from every pore on your body." He guided her back to the corner, where she'd abandoned her chair to come charging at him. "But, no matter how useless you think we are, this city means something to the city of Tokyo, the island of Japan. We run it as smoothly as we can, outside of certain…" He spared Kodachi another glance, "situations."

Nabiki sighed wearily, the tension she'd held in her body over melted away at the promise that Akane was indeed unharmed, for now. "Can I at least see her?"

"I'll try my hardest, but that'll be completely up to the Taichousen clan, who is housing her."

Kuno put a comforting hand on Nabiki's shoulder before directing his attention to his father. "If you believe that Akane is still in danger, then the information that Kodachi has can still be useful. In any event, is there a way for you to arrange a meeting with the advisors and elders of Taichousen? At this point, releasing any information that we have to them could be helpful."

Father Kuno nodded, straightening the sunglasses on his face before turning to the guards. "After you file the paperwork, take her to her quarters but make sure someone stands guard. She's not to leave. They have the other three being set up for interrogation now. Tell them to release them as well, deposit them in the serving quarters next to Kodachi."

Turning back to his daughter, he guided his fingers through the bars, to thunk her softly on the forehead. "You'll have a few of hours to become a humble young woman. The Taichousen clan won't take kindly to your haughtiness. That's a rule you cannot break, no matter how much pressure is placed on you. I'd hate to have to lose you, too. You understand?"

She blinked back the tears lining the lids of her eyes, as the weight of her actions sunk in. She'd have to face that family and explain herself. Her life as she knew it hung on their decision. Nodding her head solemnly, she decided that taking a seat on the dirt floor of the cell wasn't such a bad idea after all. It beat standing against the pressure.

Shortly after, Saotome Genma found himself sitting across from Father Kuno. It was something they hadn't done since he had no choice but to offer exile to the man rather than a sentencing which could lead to death. Now he watched as the other man had returned with a plan, a message, and negotiation.

There was a reason that Father Kuno was an efficient leader. Scary, and meticulous, fascist even, but sometimes in rare moment he found the competency to be effective. Placing a blue card down on the table, Father Kuno nodded towards the younger man. "I want to petition a meeting with the elders of Taichousen."

Genma raised a surprised eyebrow, he eyes jutting back and forth between the man in front of him and the card placed between him. Quickly he took the card and hid it within the folds of his sleeve. "And for what reason, may I ask?"

Father Kuno smiled. He then produced a list of people he believed would need to be directly involved. The list included list from every Klan, save the Yatsura clan, they were to independent and old to understand anything going on in Chiyoda outside of their selves. "To solve a mystery, Genma. To solve a mystery."

Genma smiled. He knew of the man's ability to know every bit of gossip, information and secrets lying in Chiyoda. Primary reason his clan's military force specialized in covert operations and intelligence for the Imperial Government. So whatever secrets he thought the Taichousen clan may have been keeping, he'd be a fool to think that Kuno wouldn't know about them as well. Figuring all the help they could get would be monumental; he reached out to pat the man on the shoulder in acceptance.

"What time?"

ooo

There was a special meaning behind the blue card. The color blue had long been a color of loyalty to the people of Chiyoda and was used in special situations to let another clan know that they were an ally. They were usually short lived because each clan lived for gaining favor from the Imperial Royals, but whenever it was presented, usually in the form of a card or a flag, it was up to the opposing clan to accept it. This usually concluded in a meeting where clan elders and top ruling nobles decided the details of the alliance.

So as Yoruichi looked around the room, some of the faces were very familiar. Father Genma, Mother Nodoka, Happosai, then Issendai and Jiro, a pair of the elder council people. From the Takahashi clan, Kagome, who looked bored waiting for the meeting to start, and Midoriko who looked more nervous than anything. With them as protocol were both set of Takahashi Princes, as well as Sango and Miroku. From the Kuno clan stood the elder, and the apparent heir of their clan, if he ever decided to renounced his title.

All in all, there were 14 people in the room, including her. She had an inkling what this meeting was about in theory, and was sure that the collective of information that had been gathered recently would be very helpful. She was just hoping her head wouldn't explode as they tried to sort through it all. She was sure it was to be a gargantuan amount of information.

Standing towards the front of the underground bunker housed on Taichousen land, Father Kuno quietly raised his blue card, officially signaling the start of the meeting and his alliance to the two presented clans.

"I thank you all for attending. I'm sure this won't be a short meeting, so I will get straight to the point. I think the best way to handle this situation is for each individual clan to introduce the information they have in regards to this, and then work our way through making sense of it. There is a special…guest…that will be introduced after we deliver our message as a fore warning."

The elder Kuno cleared his throat, and removed his sunglasses, causing a round of gasp elicited from those who were not of his clan. No one had ever seen him with his sunglasses off. He was a handsome man; age had done him justice, as he looked very charming around the eyes. Nothing to indicate how bizarre the man was.

"This meeting has been called for two reasons by the Kuno clan. The first is in an attempt to aid the Taichousen clan with a little dilemma. One they may or may not have figured out yet. As you can see the Prince of the Taichousen clan was not included because I've learned he is away. His intended was not included, nor were any of her guardians. The reasoning behind that is I am very sure, that the correlation behind your dilemma is directly involving and / or was directly caused by them. They are, essentially the very heart of your problem."

Kuno watches as all hell broke loose in the chamber. It was rare breech of protocol, but not unheard of, and he chuckled. Every one that had any tidbit of information started shouting with acquiescent rage. Their reasons, suspicions, facts and numbers, paper trails; all of it thrown in roars laced with contempt. Father Kuno smiled. He was aware of the fact a while ago, but saw no reason to interfere with another clan's business. That was until his children were thrown in the chaos.

"Everyone…please. " Quickly deducing the speak-then-go method wouldn't work long, he started by calling out names. "Jiro? Issendai?"

Issendai stood as quickly as her aging bones would let her. "Our suspicious of the Amazons arose, collectedly between the two of us, the day Ranma reappeared back in Chiyoda. One of the elders of our clan, Bishamon seemed nervous and quick to judgment during a council meeting1. It was then; we found reason to believe that Bishamon was in connection with the Amazons."

That statement led to Yoruichi standing. "That seems like a fair deduction. I, for reasons of my own, had set up a watch over the Amazon's encampment. I recently witnessed Bishamon enter and exit the compound of number of times. Recently, I witness him leave Cologne's quarters with paperwork. After following him, "she nodded to Kagome and Midoriko, "I found that these two were privy to information from inside of our labs that wouldn't have been discovered."

Kagome stood to join Yoruichi. "Apparently the device that Prince Ranma has been working on with Midoriko here…" she nudged the older woman to stand, "was something they'd known about and had manipulated in regards to results." She turned again to Midoriko who had refused to stand. Wrapping a firm hand arm her upper arm, she hauled the woman to her feet. "Tell them."

Her voice shook with every syllable but she was able to stutter the message out. "Prince Ranma had been working on a device that would aid in healing as if it harnessed the actually power of The Inochi. Something he'd discovered from his First Sword's wife Orihime. We were in the process of looking for a way to convert it from a natural mutation within the body, to a way to use it universally in healthcare."

She hiccupped in her nervousness, a trait she'd never been able to get rid of, and was mortally embarrassed to find it show up now. She hated speaking in front of people. The warm comforting hand of her cousin on her shoulder allowed her to continue.

"The source was a black tourmaline stone, but we needed a catalyst to power the stone the same way Orihime did. Orihime biologically didn't fit, which was odd. We'd tried other methods, all of them failing. Some of the test led to Arakawa incident; they tested without our permission2. The Amazons were substantial in somehow finding out about the catalyst and apparently had known for a long time. Kenji stated…"

"Kenji?" Genma sorted out. "He still employed at the lab?"

Midoriko who knew nothing of inner office human resources other than what time she was to clock in shrugged. "Yeah? Why?"

"He's just a crafty son of a bitch who I thought should have been fired years ago. I thought I had ordered that. But it's nothing of consequence, continue dear."

"Well that's it. Kenji stated "Ranma's been walking around with the catalyst in his company the entire time?" At that point we hightailed out of there and ran into Yoruichi, who just basically told us to sit down, shut up and act normal. And here we are." She quickly took her seat, hoping that her name would not be called. She was a lover of science, politics made her head dizzy. Grandiose speeches about shit she didn't want to know about to begin with made her want to vomit.

Nodoka took the time to speak up. "Why would Cologne or Bishamon want anything to do with our Ranma's project? They don't make a common trail of inclusion."

Happosai cleared his throat; decided standing would require him to tether on the seat of the chair provided so that everyone would be able to see him. He wasn't that adventurous today. "Cat Lady and I tracked through some records of when I was the best thing the council had ever seen." He winked winsomely at Jiro and Issendai, chuckling when Issendai rolled her eyes at him.

"Long of the short. We've got Bishamon on betrothal bartering, some very shifty creative paperwork with our clan's tax and tithing information, the stint, for a lack of a more evil word at the moment, he pulled with Tendo Soun, and…a paper trail leading him and Cologne of the Masura Amazon directly to Douchler Enterprise."

Kuno's turn. "Douchler? That makes sense. There was a scant connection with Douchler and Tendo Akane, as she was preparing for a presentation to give to the advertising department. The night she was seen with Ranma at Taichousen and her car was blown to bits. That's a little bit shaky. What isn't shaky is, and this will lead to the person waiting for us outside that door, is that Douchler is a front company for Shigeko clan, a crime syndicate. The Masura clan is a "sister" syndicate. The crime syndicate that hired a group of people to trail and kidnap Tendo Akane. Masura Amazon. Masura Crime Syndicate"

Happosai slapped at his knee. "We need to find the connection between the Masura Amazon's, Douchler and the Taichousen clan."

"Shampoo's dowry." Every one turned their head to look back at Inuyasha whose severe look of disinterest was clearly evident, down to his slouched posture and lidded eyes. He shrugged before pointing to the door. "That's what the woman said in the other room. 'Shampoo's dowry.'"

Kuno smacked his head. The Princes of Takahashi had a keen power over sense. What Inuyasha was hearing was Kodachi's reply to Happosai's question. She was eavesdropping from the other room. He quickly pulled the door open, having to move back quickly as Kodachi, the twins and Sasuke spilled into the room. Evidently Kuno was right; as they all had their ear to the door, listening intently and not moving away fast enough to appear innocent.

There were angry gasp and furious whispers being tossed around the room, so Kuno held his hand up. "Now before those who are angry with Kodachi have an epic fit, let her give her address the crowd first."

Kodachi slinked into the room sheepishly at being caught and then embarrassment tinged her ears as she tried to earnestly remember the words to the apology she'd conjured up. Facing the crowd, she gathered the hem of the plainest yukata, bowing until her knees hit the ground. She then placed her hands flat to the ground, her forehead joining quickly afterwards. She held the bow for a full minute, awkward, but she wanted to convey the deepest sense of remorse. She stood slowly, before again bowing at the hip. Holding her head low, she turned to the Mother and Father of the Taichousen clan.

"Honored Mother. Honored Father. I know that in the past I have been nothing but trouble to you. However delighted I was to revel in your son's powerful existence, I have time and time again breeched protocol to appear at his side, however unwanted. For that I apologize. Recently, I have thrown away my honor as a princess of Kuno, in desperation for his attention, and committed crimes against him, your clan and more importantly the family of Tendo Akane. I will accept whatever you see fit as my punishment. But before that happens I would like to provide whatever information I can towards helping this situation resolve to a peaceful conclusion for your clan. "

Genma stood slack jawed. He hadn't heard Kodachi sound apologetic in the twenty plus years he'd had the displeasure of knowing the woman. She'd slightly tolerated their presence only to flip the switch, and resort to years of full out flattery and conniving schemes after her apparent attraction to their son. Her apology was no atonement, but he could at least hear her out. For now. Unable to say anything, he softly waved her to continue. "Go on, child."

"Shampoo's dowry is your connection to Shigeko clan, the Masura Amazons, and Douchler. I was hired to head the operation to kidnap Tendo Akane by the Masura clan. I was never really told why outside of a story about the Fountain of Youth and the device that was invented by Ranma. The Shigeko clan own stock in it, funding spiraled through Douchler Enterprise. If you track the stock back to its source, you'll find Shikego. All I know is what I was promised in return, which I now understand could never have happened. The key connection to all three is Shampoo's dowry."

Jiro clapped both of his hands in amusement before offering up the answer. "Shampoo's dowry was the crates and crates of tourmaline crystals that were offered to Ranma on the acceptance of the betrothal contract. It was a strange offer, but whatever consultations Ranma and the Amazon elder Cologne had before the contract was signed, must have allowed it to be an acceptable dowry."

"It could be because she had already planned on manipulating Ranma into creating Yangupawa; if she knew in advance the crystals had anything to do with it." Yoruichi supplied. "Bishamon was connected to Soun's exile AND the solicitation of Shampoo's contract. My other thought was she has something to do with Bishamon fighting so hard to have him thrown out. To eventually have the Amazon presence in Chiyoda. In Chiyoda where we have a residing Inochi, powerful labs, educated scientist, and a connection to the Imperial Royals."

Father Kuno spoke up. "But for what purpose?" He was greeted with silence from the room. "What purpose would the Amazons have for doing all of this for one device? One we don't know will even work?" More silence. The occupants of the room looked from person to person, no one able to deduce a reason.

Genma waved his hand in irritation. "That is something we can figure out later. There are two targets at stake and we have to make moves to protect them." He turned back to Yoruichi, barking out orders. "Keep both of them up in the Chiyodian Mountains. Don't call for them until we have this solved."

"Keh. Problem with that." Inuyasha again. "How are ya gonna explain Ranma's absence from the Festival? The Imperial Royals require all nobles to be present, especially that of yer Prince since he's supposed to formally introduce that bitch to them, and announce the date of the wedding. Can't get 'round that." Kagome rolled her eyes heavenward at her husband. One because she remember how embarrassing it was when she was introduced to Royals. Inuyasha had a distinct lack of noble charm, and had completed the introduction with a loud smack on her lips. And two, he was right, but not very helpful.

Genma opened his mouth to refute it, but realized the young Prince was right. Shit. "How long until the festival?" Nodoka raised an eyebrow at him, discerning that the man hadn't listened to a damn thing in the meetings they had every morning. "Three days, my love."

"For the love of….three days? How are we supposed to come up with a plan in three days? No telling what they are planning with their fuddy ruddy magic, those Amazons." Turning to Jiro and Issendai, he made a noise in the back of his throat, clearly indicating his irritation. "Isn't this enough clause to cancel the contract? Remove the source of danger?"

"And present WHOM to the council and the Imperial Royals in three days? There's no way. Despite the crimes committed by Cologne, the council will not accept the embarrassment of having no noble couple to offer. I could have told you that before you asked. "

At the same time, showing that their brains at some point always clicked in unison, the clan's people of the Takahashi all stood at once. Six voices rang out. "The original contract." Miroku, who had been mostly silent during most of the meeting, cracked his knuckles in thought. "The original contract. We all are privy to its details. You can prove to the council that the reasons for Soun's exile are null and void, and then Akane's betrothal contract can be reinstated."

"Of course, you're going to have to get her approval. But from the looks of it, she's been tearing him a new one every time they are together. But I'm sure it's worth a try. It might be your only hope at not being tied down maniacs as in-laws." Kagome smiled into her answer. She and Akane had been born around the same time and she'd heard so many stories about the woman because of her connection to the Inochi. She'd wanted to befriend her, become real good friends, you know? But she never had the chance. By the time she understood what was going on, the Tendos were no longer living in Chiyoda. The prospect that she could still have a chance to befriend a woman very like herself, made her giddy. Yes, she was being selfish, she didn't know really the relationship the two had, but marriage had a way of working those types of things out.

Genma and Nodoka looked at each other. Nodoka was smiling the brightest. Ever since the young woman had come back, her resemblance to Yuuka was enough to make her weak at the knees. She missed her best friend in ways that were unimaginable. The original contract was the sole source of happiness between the four adults, so many years ago. There was too much grief and sadness around the destruction that would have linked the friends together, familiarly. Genma couldn't deny the woman anything, and he too wanted to honor his own friend's wishes. They had finally found a way to pay back the sacrifice Yuuka and Soun had made.

Genma grinned and stood, his hands fisted on his hips. "Someone call in a servant, have them open the kitchens. It's going to be a very long night."

A/N: One I wanted to keep this chapter short. I'm trying to get all the fookiness (I made that word up. It means fooky. And fooky means =boring unnecessarily complicated foolywang) out all so it could be finally understood what is going on. If you still don't, I kinda left reference notes (which is sad that I thought I had to do it. I did it for myself since I had to fork through all the chapters to reference WTH I'm going on about.)

If you have any questions, let me know! I miss you guys ^_^ (especially on any of the characters since I seem to be pulling them from some sub space pocket.)

1. Chapter 12, Council Scene. Paragraph 18.

2. Chapter 8. Kuno/Nabiki car meeting. Chapter 10. Meeting with Khouhei. Paragraph...way at the botton o.o

(A quick let's make sense of this.

There are three syndicates; two are in direct connection with each other. Douchler is pretty much a front subsidiary company for Shikego (way to keep them legal.) The Masura clan is pretty much composed of Amazons that have migrated to Japan, who have a tendency to hire disadvantaged youth to do all of the dirty work. Shikego and Masura teamed up under the direction of Cologne (which I'll explain later). See! No? Okay. )

3. Chapter 15. Anything Yoruichi, Kagome or Midoriko says about the lab.