This chapter was a long time in the making. Urgh. I'm sorry.

Orimura Ichika: You should be, aru! I had to hound you and hound you and hound you to finally finish it, aruyo!

BG: Don't eat meeee~!

Orimura Ichika: I won't eat you, aru. Don't be dumb. I have better things to do with my time, aruyo.

BG: *is not convinced* Okay...

Orimura Ichika: Unfortunately, Depthmon was unable to write with us after all, aru, so...

BG: Keep an eye out for the third part of this story, which will be written by the lovely and talented emichii! :D

And now, please enjoy the chapter!

Raymond Alexander shifted uncomfortably amongst the masses of the city, not feeling their excitement or disdain for the Imperial Czar's visit. He had a job to do, and if anyone found out what that job was, well… That could be problematic.

Alexander could hear the low rumble of marching soldiers coming from the east end of the street, and he hastily began to make his way over. His hands held the bag in his hands carefully to his chest, and he winced every time the package was jostled. As soon as he reached the edge of the crowd, he opened the bag ever so slightly and peer into it.

A bomb waited patiently to detonate.

The man gulped. This was his first time carrying out an actual job; he usually was the person taking the orders and learning about the clientele. He was a reedy, weak man; he couldn't hold a gun to save his life. He was in his late thirties and carried a few extra pounds around the middle; he couldn't run if he was caught. All he had was his head, and if that failed him, then there was no escaping his fate from this one.

Adam Dobbs had called him into duty last week, saying he had an important job to be done. This job came from the Czar's son, Dominic and it was very clear:

At the parade, throw the bomb. Kill Czar Ikari. Leave Dominic's sister and brother untouched.

Alexander only had one chance to do this, and if he screwed it up… He didn't want to think about it.

Hikari Ikari had never really enjoyed these military parades; even as a child, she didn't like being gawked at, or shouted at, or being the target of flying tomatoes. Her elder brother was always calm and collected, smiling at everyone just like his father did. Her younger brother just gawked and shouted and waved right back. She always felt awkward and uncomfortable in the backseat.

She looked around desperately, trying to find something that would keep her attention.

A bush of brown hair with goggles perched atop made itself apparent to her.

Something in the back of her mind clicked and her eyes widened. There was only one person on Earth, she decided, who could possibly have hair that stuck up in all directions.

It had to be Taichi!

She grinned and stood up as the car neared the square.

"What are you doing?" Yamato hissed, pulling her arm.

"Oh, leave me alone, Matt, I know what I'm doing!" she said happily. "Look!" She pointed at nothing in particular. The instant Matt's head turned, she took the opportunity to jump out of the slow-rolling car. "Taichi!" she called, grinning like an idiot as she ran forward. "It's been a long time!"

The boy with the bush of brown hair looked at her in a mix of surprise and horror…and then took off.

Several things happened very quickly for Matt Ishida. Hikari was there, then she was shouting, and then she was taking off after something or other in the crowd. "Shit!"

From his seat behind Dominic and Wilhelm (and previously Hikari), TK glanced over at his brother. "Go, you idiot!" He stood and hastily tried to take off after the Czarina, but Matt forced him to sit down.

"I'll go, you need to look after Wilhelm."

"Why should you get all the fun?"

"Stay. Here."

"Yes, sir."

With that final assurance from TK, Matt took off after the Czarina. He pushed past people, carts, animals, and all manner of Imperial soldiers who, like him, were chasing Hikari.

Raymond Alexander was pushed and shoved as a group of Imperial soldiers, led by a blond teenaged bodyguard, ran past him, after the Czarina.

The bag fell from his hands.

The man watched in horror as the bomb rolled out of the bag, heading straight for a stampede of soldiers...

Yamato was shoved forward by a loud explosion from behind him. The heat washed over his entire back, and the sheer force caused him to trip and stumble face-first into the dirt of the street.

After a few people had stepped on him, the blond bodyguard tried to get his bearings. He couldn't see any trace of Hikari, not even the soldiers who were also chasing her.

"God damn it all! Fuck, fuck, fuckity fuck!" he cursed, then stood up and took off into a run in the direction Hikari had last been running.

Matt darted between wagons, cars, carts, and people, almost knocking over several crying children. A strangely familiar sight caught his eye, however…

Standing at the curb was a tall, tan teenage boy, probably Matt's age, with a head of bushy brown hair that couldn't be real…

The boy met his gaze and immediately his face broke into a grin. "It's been a while!"

"Tai! What the hell are you doing here, man?" Instantly, the blond ran to him and gave him a bear hug. "Jeez, I haven't seen you in ages! Not since we were, what, seven?"

"Seven? Sounds about right." Tai chuckled and held Matt's shoulder at arm's length. "I was wondering if I'd—" He stopped abruptly, his fingers feeling something on the jacket of his childhood friend's jacket. The grin disappeared and he grabbed the blonde's jacket's shoulder. He looked closer.

Matt wore an Imperial insignia.

Tai let go hastily and fumbled in his pants' pockets. Where was his weapon when he needed it…?

Finally, his fingers wrapped around the butt of a small pistol and he yanked it out of his pocket. He held it up in the light, inches from Matt's face. "You didn't see me."

"What the hell?" In retaliation, Matt reached to his hip and pulled his own Imperial-distributed weapon. "What are you talking about? I don't see you in, what, eleven years and you pull a fucking gun on me! What are you doing?"

"Put down your weapon."

"You put down yours!"

"I'll fire!"

Matt snorted. "You'll fire? Look at you, you don't even know how to hold that thing, let alone fire it."

"It can't be that difficult! I'll do it!"

"You're such an—"

Suddenly, the two boys' little bubble was popped by a bright, feminine voice. "Taichi, what are you doing to Yamato? Why'd you run from me?"

Both males lowered their guns and looked around to see Hikari standing on the curb, watching them with great interest.

"Hikari!" Matt gasped and ran to her, putting his weapon back in its holster. He gripped her shoulders. "What the fuck was that?"

"Watch your mouth!" she scolded gently.

"I'm not kidding, what were you playing at? Did you think you'd be funny, running away like that? Did you think it would be clever of you?"

As Matt lectured his charge, Taichi felt a tug on his sleeve. He turned to see Sora standing beside him. "Come on," she hissed. "We need to go! Aoi and the others will be waiting for us."

The brunet nodded and grabbed her open hand. Together, the two of them ran through the streets to the city limits where they knew their comrades would be waiting.

So, reviews are appreciated! :D