Watching the the streets of Aincrad never got old...

Argo was sure of that as she sat against the wall of a store watching the crowds pass on by. It was an old habit from her younger years. Everyone in Aincrad had a different way they carried themselves, whether it was with fear, pride, or any other emotion.

She had always been an observant person. It helped her develop the silver tongue she's known for. She could get an idea of what type of person someone was just by looking at them. Whether they were someone she wanted to be around or avoid at all costs. Though she had to admit, her past would cloud that judgment at times.

She couldn't help it after what happened ten years ago.

Bzzt!

Radio static cut Argo from her thoughts as a female voice came from over the line.

"Argo-san! Can you read me?!"

The information broker placed a hand on her headset in her ear. "Yeah I can, Silica-chan. Is something wrong?"

"Some of the gang members got away from Yuuki-san and me! Kirito-san went after a group of them, but the others are heading towards your area!"

"How many?" Argo got up and began to go down a nearby alley. If they were just trying to escape, then the alleys were a good way to get away and escape into the crowds.

"Three of them or so, please hurry! Once they get into the crowds, Yuuki-san says she won't be able to track them anymore."

"Don't worry Silica-chan," Argo assured the younger girl. "As soon as I find them, they're done."

With that, the connection cut off. Argo took a deep breath before sending a small pulse throughout the area, trying to sense the how close the runaways were. 'They're close so I need to act fast.'

She stopped next at the corner of the alley and tried to think of a plan. Finally, she grinned reaching into her cloak to grab ahold of something. 'Let's see how smart they really are.'


On the other side, the three gangsters who had escaped Silica and Yuuki ran as fast as they could to escape their captors.

"Damn!" The green haired one gasped, beginning to slow down a little. "Those freaking brats won't give up!"

"Just keep running dammit!" This one had piercings all over his face. "Once we turn this corner and get into the crowd, those dumbasses won't be able to find us."

The woman of the group cackled. "And we'll make those brats pay later for this! I'm going to enjoy making those little girls scream!"

The pierced face thug was about to add to that when a small Poof was heard. White smoke rushed through the alley, blinding the three.

"Gah! What the hell is this?!" The woman yelled, having to cover her eyes to keep the smoke out.

"Crap! Did they find us already?!" The green haired thug crouched down, looking for a weapon. "Screw that! I ain't going to jail!"

His hand searched for something sharp or blunt. Finally, his hand landed on something rough as he wrapped his hand around it. Grinning, he was about to pull up before feeling a sharp pain in the back of his neck. Everything went dark, as he thought he heard small snickering behind him.

'What the… hell?' He then fell to the ground with a thud.

"Hey, Leonard! Why you so quiet now!?" The woman yelled. Hearing no response she turned around trying to make him out through the smoke. "Hey lazy ass! What's wrong with y-Kuh!"

She stopped talking, feeling two sharp objects pierce the back of her neck. Silently, she collapsed to the ground, eyes closed.

"Lyria!?" The remaining thug grunted as the smoke obscured his vision. "Dammit, what the hell is going on?!"

"It's called confusion, human. It seems to be very effective against you lot."

The thug looked around for the female voice. "Shit! Where are you hiding bitch?! Fight me!"

"Nishishi~" The voice cackled, her voice spreading throughout the alley as the smoke slowly begin to clear. "You want to find me? Be careful for what you wish for human!"

The thug, now being able to see, grabbed the pipe one of his friends had tried to use. He growled as he held it up, looking for the owner of the voice.

"Look out!"

"Huh!?" The man only had a second to turn around before two feet had planted themselves in his face. He was sent flying, his back landing on the asphalt. Cursing, he looked up to see a cloaked half-elf girl with whiskers. She grinned widely, placing a hand on waist.

"Oh? Looks like you have some durability after all, most would be knocked out after that kick. Congratulations!" Argo gave him a mocking clap, before reaching to her side to pull out a claw. "But I have things to do and people to see, you know. So let me wrap this up."

The thug stood up looking livid. "You… brat! I'll kill you for this!"

"Many have tried to kill me. None have succeeded."

"Well, let's fucking change that!" The angered thug roared, charging towards her at his weapon high in the air.

Argo, however, remained calm as the thug approached her. Crouching as he got in close, she held her claw at the ready.

"Die!" The pipe came down at her horizontally, but Argo was ready for it. She spun around him, and with a grunt, stabbed her claw into his back but only enough to get the tips in.

"Grah!" The thug stumbled forward before turning around. But before he could process what happened, Argo kept up her assault. She planted her foot into his stomach, dropping him to his knees. He coughed up blood as he felt his body grow weak. Looking up slowly, he snarled. "W-W-What did you do to me?"

Argo smirked mockingly. "Poison. Don't worry, it won't kill you. It does, however, weaken your body. So take a load off."

Argo sent a strong kick at the side of his neck, sending him to the ground and knocking him unconscious. She stretched for a bit before placing a hand on her radio.

"Nice to see you cleaning up house for once."

Argo grinned, turning around to see Kirito walking towards her with a smile. "Ki-bou~ Nice of you to join me! You missed all the fun though."

"Heh, don't worry I had my fun." Kirito pointed his thumb behind him. "Managed to round up two others who had managed to escape. They're with Yuuki and Silica right now."

Argo nodded, smiling. "Good. Now be a gentleman and help me get these other three back to them."

Kirito raised an eyebrow. "You want me to get all three of them?"

"Oh? I thought you had manners, Ki-bou." Argo gasped in mock shock, placing a hand over her mouth. "You would have a lady carry these bodies back all by herself?"

"I was thinking more that you could at least carry one…" Kirito sighed, crossing his arms. "I can carry two, but you have to at least take one, Argo."

Argo playfully waved her hand at him. "I know that Ki-bou. I'm just messin with ya."

"Sometimes, I wonder." Kirito walked towards the two male thugs, before lifting one onto his shoulders and grabbing one by the back of his collar, dragging him along.

Argo made a move to grab the female before looking behind her at the roof. Her eyes narrowed as she felt a strange pulse of mana.

"Hey Argo!" Kirito called, getting the girl's attention. "You're coming aren't you?"

Argo continued to look before resigning. "Yeah… let's go." She turned, dragging the female thug behind her. Kirito raised an eyebrow, before following after her.

Argo took another peek behind her. 'Strange. I'm sure I felt something…'

As soon as the two turned the corner and were out of sight, a lone figure walked out into the hallway, grinning wickedly.

"Impressive…"


When the group of five had reunited, Silica had gotten straight down on her knees apologizing for letting the captives go. This combined with the tears in her eyes and Pina's sad look, made the two half-elves very uncomfortable. They spent a good three minutes getting the small girl to calm down.

Yuuki, however, was a bit less apologetic, giving only a simply small apology. It irritated Argo and Kirito a little, but they chose to let it slide for once due to their exhaustion. Besides, Ran would handle her once they got back to HQ.

Turning in the captives to the nearest police station and getting the slip that they needed to turn in for payment, the small group walked down the streets of Algade heading towards the guild and to finally get a break.

"Man…" Kirito sighed, rubbing the back of his neck. "It's times like this I wish I had my motorcycle."

"Didn't Leo-san say he'd buy you a new one?" Silica asked. It was no secret amongst guild that Leo was saving some of his pay to help cover the costs of a new motorcycle for Kirito. He says it's because he owes Kirito over something he refuses to discuss. Argo joked that it was the pyro kinesis user's way of declaring his love to Kirito.

They had never seen so much fire in their lives when Leo heard that. Argo made note to never use that joke ever again.

"Yeah, he has," Kirito confirmed, crossing his arms. "But he said it'd take a while before he fully raised the money."

Argo snorted before grinning at Kirito. "If you're such a good friend, you'll buy it yourself and give him a break."

"I know." Kirito paused, smirking deviously. "But why do that when you have someone perfectly willing to buy one for you?"

"Oh? Looks like you're learning, Ki-bou."

Yuuki sighed. "The last thing we need is two Argos going around messing with everyone."

"Oh come on, I'm not that bad Yuuki-chan." Argo grinned at the youngest Konno. "It's just you happen to be such an easy target. Not my fault you walk right into them."

Yuuki blushed, letting out a low growl in response. Argo snickered to herself before looking at Kirito once again.

"So Ki-bou, you've noticed the decrease in monsters outside of the city lately?"

Kirito nodded. "Yeah. They say it's because of the Knights of Red Blood."

"That's the best guild in Aincrad right?" Silica asked, handing Pina a small piece of food to eat.

"Or so they proclaim." Yuuki looked annoyed as soon as the name came up. "With the exception of some, they're a bunch of arrogant jerks who think they're all that."

"But they have the skills to back it up," Kirito retorted, stopping to look at Yuuki. "Don't forget about that raid a year ago in the goblin's nest. They killed about sixty-two percent of the population."

Argo nodded, looking down at the ground. "They bark a lot, but they have the bite. They turned down Asuna-chan, who's a skilled fighter. Besides, you know they have Heathcliff as their leader and he doesn't welcome pretenders into his guild."

Yuuki sighed in defeat. That was a fact she couldn't argue against. The Knights of Blood picked their members carefully and had very high standards. You had to be someone they wanted or saw immense potential in.

"Still I don't like them." Yuuki gritted her teeth. "That high and mighty air they have around them. It irritates me."

Argo chuckled. "I can agree with that. As tough as they are, they're pretty arrogant."

"You need to learn how to ignore it Yuuki," Kirito scolded as the group resumed walking towards HQ.

Yuuki scoffed, already expecting Kirito to say that. "You don't think I've tried? Hell, some of them had the nerve to hit on me."

Silica giggled in response. "You should be happy Yuuki-chan! That means you're attractive."

"Yeah, and I'm attracting the wrong people." Yuuki cracked a small grin. "If all I'm going to attract are people like that, I'd rather be ugly."

The other three laughed at the joke. Kirito was about to retort when he collided with something.

"Whoa!"

"Kyaa!"

Kirito stumbled back, catching his balance before he fell thanks to a little help from Argo. Regaining his bearings, he looked down to see it was someone he had collided with.

It was a young elven girl who seemed to be a little younger than him. Her short blue hair seemed a bit ruffled from the collision and her green eyes squinted up in pain. Her clothing was a light blue battledress with a dark blue chestplate in the middle. However, what really stood out about her were the pointy ears on the side of her head.

Kirito eyes narrowed as he felt the girl's mana signature. 'Full-breed…' He looked behind him to see Argo glaring at the girl. Apparently, she felt the same thing.

The girl winced as she tried to regain her bearings. Kirito let out a sigh, offering her a hand. The elf's eyes, now fully opened, looked up at the boy.

"Sorry, I wasn't watching where I was going," Kirito explained with a small smile. The girl shyly took his hand, as he helped her up.

"Um…" She paused before looking away nervously. "It's alright. I was running and not watching where I was going."

"Hey, you could speak up a little," Yuuki snickered, being able to barely hear the girl. "Why are you so quiet anyway? It's not like we're going to attack you."

"Oh! I'm sorry… it's just because…!"

"Because me and Ki-bou are half elves right?" Argo interrupted bluntly. She placed a hand to her side. "We're half breeds right? So why talk to someone inferior?"

The girl's green eyes widen. "No, I didn't mean it like that! I-I mean you're all half-elves… but-!"

Kirito felt a headache coming. This girl was more shy than Silica was during the first few weeks when the guild formed. He wasn't usually an impatient person, but he wished the girl would finish what she was saying so they could move on.

"Sachi!"

Everyone looked up to see a small group of elven males walking towards them. The elven girl smiled and hurried over to them.

The one in front of the group, who seemed to be about Kirito's age and had brown hair along with black armor patted the girl on the head. "You need to learn how to stop getting lost in crowds, Sachi."

Sachi pouted slightly at the group. "I wouldn't have gotten lost if Ducker-kun had waited where he said he was going to be."

"Heh, sorry about that Sachi. I saw something in one of the stores I had been looking for a while."

Sachi shook her head, smiling brightly. "It's alright Ducker-kun. Just give me a warning next time."

The group laughed as the Seraphs looked at each other. The girl seemed so timid and shy at first, but now she was more outgoing. Silently, they decided to head another way.

"Hey!"

'Damn it!' Kirito swore in his head, the three girls besides him having a similar thought. Turning around, they saw the group glaring at them except for Sachi, who seemed to be nervous.

"You weren't giving Sachi any trouble… were you?" the tall boy in the back asked as if trying to threaten the group.

Kirito let out a tired sigh. This prejudice hate towards half-elves got more and more annoying each time it happened. "No. We were actually on our way back to our guild's HQ. So can you save the half-elf hate for another day?"

"You should also be a little more careful when trying to threaten someone, full-breed." Argo advised, a glare on her face. "Keep underestimating someone, it'll be off with your head one day."

"Is that a threat?" The boy who seemed to be the leader took a step forward, but was intercepted by Kirito whose grey eyes displayed calmness despite the situation.

"Look, we don't want any trouble. So let's just go our separate ways alright?" Kirito proposed, ready to take any action if necessary. Yuuki begin to reach for her sword as Pina growled from on top of Silica's head.

The elf gritted his teeth before feeling someone grab his arm. He turned to see look at the other elven boy in the group, who had curly black hair and a hat on his head. He shook his head.

"We're attracting attention Keita. Let's just drop it."

To show his point, the hat wearing elf gestured to the crowd that was forming around them. Keita grunted before turning away. He looked at his group of friends.

"Let's go." He uttered and they soon begin to walk away. Sachi, however, took one last look at Kirito before turning around. Her eyes looking hesitant as Keita begin to rant about half-breeds.


The next day back at the Guild HQ, Kirito stretched out onto the sofa in the living room, trying to get as comfortable as possible. Finding just the right position, he closed his eyes and began to doze off before feeling a weight suddenly plopped down on top of him.

"Hmm?" He opened one of his eyes to see Argo grinning right at him, in quite the position. He sighed, knowing this was one of Argo's teasing attempts. "Argo… what are you doing?"

Argo leaned in a little closer. "Why, you seemed to be comfy on this sofa, so I decided to join you. Why? Does it make you uncomfortable?"

"A little, if you consider where you're lying. I would like to get some rest." Kirito answered bluntly. He sat up, using the arm of the sofa to support himself as he gave Argo a small glare.

Argo, however, ignored it and her grin widened to the point it reminded Kirito of the Cheshire Cat in one of those storybooks he used to read to Suguha when they were younger. She leaned in close to his chest. "You know… we used to sleep together when we were younger whenever I came over. I kinda miss those years."

"Argo… we are not sleeping on this sofa together."

Argo pouted cutely. "Oh come on, Ki-bou. Don't be such a bore!"

"Argo, I said-."

"Kirito, are you in here? I h-." A familiar voice started softly before stopping.

Both Argo and Kirito flinched as they looked to see Asuna standing near the door along with Eugeo and Leo. Everyone froze in the room, eyes wide in surprise.

Leo smirked slightly. "Not on the sofa you two. People sit there."

Kirito's face turned red while Argo looked annoyed, getting off of Kirito. "Don't you all know how to give a warning before entering?"

"There's no door to the lounge, Argo." Eugeo answered, walking over to take a seat on the other couch.

The layout of the HQ was a two floor building. In the front was a receptionist desk where clients came to give missions; usually one of the members took the mission down. To the right and left was a hallway, the left one leading to the lounge room while the right one led to the meeting room. Behind the desk was another hallway that led to backyard of the HQ and the kitchen. To the side of that hallway was another set of stairs, but Ran had a magical barrier over it saying no one was allowed upstairs besides herself and Klein.

Not even Yuuki…

Back to the situation at hand, Argo sneered at the magic swordsman. "I thought I told you to keep your thoughts to yourself, Eugeo…"

"I could say the same for you, Argo." Eugeo countered his tone dry. He and Argo had been like fire and water for a long time. His uptight and serious nature clashed with Argo's easygoing and laidback attitude. If it wasn't for Kirito or Suguha, he doubted he'd even tolerate her. He did, however, respect her abilities, and when it came to work, she could do her part and more.

He couldn't tell if Argo felt the same though.

Argo huffed, knowing there was no arguing with Eugeo. To her side, Kirito let out a long sigh. These two were becoming a bigger headache if that was even possible. He raised an eyebrow, noticing something. Turning, he looked in Asuna's direction.

Only to visibly flinch at the dark glare the vice-captain of the Seraphs was giving him. Her eyes seemed to burn with a calm rage as a shadow formed over her face, killing intent leaking from her. Interestingly, Kirito seemed to be the only one who could feel it as the other three seemed to be fine and ignorant of Asuna.

Unable to take it any longer, Kirito stood up in a hurry. "I-I need to go take care of something!" Before anyone can question him, Kirito was already down the hallway.

"Okay…" Leo muttered, his eyebrows raised. "What's up with him?"

Asuna huffed, crossing her arms. "Men…"


Kirito panted, stepping outside into the yard of the HQ. As many enemies he had faced in his life, women still scared him. Something he learned from his sister, Suguha, whenever she got upset. Not considering the fact that he thought Asuna the scariest of all the girls he knew.

'Just what was her problem?' Kirito wondered, walking over to one of the trees to sit down against the tough bark.

He and Asuna had a strange relationship if he could call it that. When it came to missions, the two worked well together and even received praise for their teamwork at times.

Outside of missions however, was a different story. Asuna and him never really got along even after the year they worked together, due to their conflicting outlooks. It was similar to Argo and Eugeo's relationship. Asuna was uptight and serious, while Kirito was relaxed and easy-going. Doing things such as sleeping during meetings, barely paying attention to her reports, his bluntness, and a few other things that he didn't consider important always seem to put him on the rapier-user's bad side.

A few weeks ago, he had asked Lisbeth privately what Asuna had against him. Strangely, the blacksmith just grinned and said Asuna was just not being truthful with herself. She refused to answer any other questions about the topic after that.

'What did she mean "Not being truthful with herself?" ' Kirito asked himself that question at times. He disliked being on the bad side of someone he had to trust with his life out on the battlefield. Still, he wondered why Asuna had gotten so angry with him back there. It was just Argo teasing him, so what was the problem besides Argo straddling him in the middle of the room?

"Ah! There you are Onii-san!"

Kirito looked up to see Suguha approaching him, a bright smile on her face. The young blonde elf took a seat next to her brother. "What are you doing out here?"

Kirito smiled wryly. "Trying to get away from the chaos."

Suguha returned his smile, equally as wryly. "Argo, I take it?" Seeing her brother nod, she continued. "What happen this time?"

"Oh nothing, but straddling me on the sofa."

Not surprisingly, Suguha broke out into laughter. Kirito let out a small grunt crossing his arms.

"That girl… I'm still confused as to why she continues to tease me to this day."

Suguha stopped laughing, grinning at her brother. "It's because that's who Argo is. Though, she has been teasing you more often lately."

Kirito sighed, putting his arms behind his head and leaning against the tree. "Well, no point in thinking about it. It's just Argo being Argo."

"Heh, you haven't changed at all Onii-san."

Kirito cracked a small smile at that. "I guess not. Have to enjoy the moments of peace you get, Sugu."

The blonde elf's nodded silently, opting to look at the sky. She enjoyed the little moments like this with her brother. Considering they never came frequently, it was nice to just be a family and not have to worry about fighting for your life.

Suguha leaned back against the tree herself. "I guess I could use some rest myself."

Kirito hummed in approval, getting ready to close his eyes to go asleep.

"Hey Kirito!"

Only to open them up again as a voice called him. Kirito's experssion turned annoyed for a second. It would take a miracle for him to finally get some rest.

Sighing sadly, he turned to see Lisbeth standing at the entrance to the HQ. She beckoned her hand, her eyes saying 'We need to talk.'


"A mission asking for just us?"

In the meeting room, Kirito and Asuna stood at the head of the table with a puzzled expression on his face. Sitting in the chair besides him was Ran, who had her arms crossed and was staring at the sheet of paper.

Ran turned grinning widely at the two. "Your names are getting out there, Kirito and Asuna! Not every day do people personally ask for your help."

"Heh, I guess I am…" Kirito muttered, a little embarrassed by the praise.

"Y-You flatter me, Captain." Asuna whispered, blushing at the praise.

"Lucky…" Lisbeth mumbled, a little jealous of her best friend.

Ran snorted before looking to the other side at Lisbeth. "Still though… Liz, you said you didn't see the person who gave this request?"

The blacksmith shook her head in a negative manner. "No, and it was weird. I had my back turned for a minute and then I heard the door open. When I turned back around, no one was there and all I saw was this paper on the desk."

"Well… that certainly doesn't sound suspicious. Not in the least." Kirito drawled, sarcasm dripping from his tongue.

"And the request is mysterious itself…" Ran added, picking the letter up. "We require the help of The Black Swordsman and The Flash. We cannot give details, just know that we desperately need their help and will pay handsomely for assistance. You will find one of us in South Algade near Sandy's Convenience Store."

"They might as well put the words "Most Definitely Not A Trap" at the end of the paper." Lisbeth remarked sarcastically.

"South Algade?"

The four looked up to see Leo, his hand in a bag with chips as he munches on them, a crunching sound echoing through the room. His expression seemed surprised as he walked closer to the group.

"You said South Algade right? No doubt about it, that's a trap."

Lisbeth raised an eyebrow at the dark-skinned boy. "Oh? What makes you think that?"

"Because that is the bad part of town. Gangs make that their freaking territory. Don't forget, I used to live there." Leo answered, putting the bag of chips down and rubbing his hands on the side of his pants. "Someone's obviously trying to set Kirito and Asuna up and jump them."

"It is pretty obvious, the request screams trap." Kirito commented, grabbing the piece of paper. "Guess there's no choice but to pitch it in the trash now."

"Now don't be so hasty there, Kirito." Ran called, grabbing Kirito's hand stopping him. "This could actually be a good thing."

"How so…?" Kirito asked. Ran let go, leaning in the back of her chair for a second as if pondering something. She slowly begin to smile as a plan formed in her head.

"Get Sinon and Argo here. I've got a mission in mind. You're also involved Leo, so get ready."

"Aw…" Leo groaned. "But I was on break."

"No excuses!" Ran yelled, smiling widely.


South Algade was crap in Sinon's opinion.

She hated it here. Everybofy thought they were better than somebody else. A paper making company wasn't far from where they were, so it stunk. Finally, it was the gang part of town, so you had to worry about getting mugged every few minutes.

She turned to look at Leo, who had a pair of black binoculars in his hand as they stood on a rooftop of an abandoned building. It was the fact that Leo managed to survive in this part of town that earn him some of the sniper's respect.

Sinon internally sighed as she looked through the scope of her rifle which was perched on a small wall of bricks. Her sights landed on Kirito and Asuna, who were walking casually along the sidewalk. It was noon, and the streets weren't all that crowded due to it being in the middle of winter. She didn't mind the cold weather though, she was used to it.

"I hope this is a good idea…"

Sinon titled her head to look at Leo, who, surprisingly looked, nervous. This made Sinon do a double-take, as Leo was usually one of the more confident members.

"It'll be alright, Leo." A high voice interrupted, followed by the sounds of footsteps coming across the hard ground of the rooftop. Both Seraphs turned around to see Argo walking towards them, her hands in her pocket. She crept slowly across the old roof, as if she made one careless movement she would fall right through it.

"You sure about that?" Leo questioned, going back to his binoculars to look at Kirito. "We're pretty much putting Kirito and Asuna in a dangerous situation right here."

Argo gave him a small grin. "We're just sending Ki-bou and Asuna-chan into a hostile territory. What's the worst that can happen?"

"…Do you really want me to answer that, Argo?"

Argo snickered as if it were an old joke she found funny. "I'm sure they'll be alright. They just needs to play it smart and they'll be fine."

"And if things get out of hand, that's when we strike." Sinon continued, putting her focus back on her scope. "So be ready."

"Don't you think we could use more people though?" Leo continued, frowning. "This is pretty dangerous, even for us."

"It'd be even more dangerous if we used more people." Sinon retorted, brushing a lock of hair out of her eyes. "If we did, we'd be much easier to detect."

Leo sighed, leaning against the bricks. "To think… gangs are actually starting to attack guild members now."

"Yeah…" Argo eyes narrowed as she crossed her arms. "They never were this bold before. Something's definitely up."

"It's as Ran said. Gang activity has been increasing lately." Sinon exhaled, an icy air forming in front of her from the cold weather. "Hopefully, we can find out why."

Leo and Argo nodded and proceeded to look out for trouble.


Kirito and Asuna walked across the sidewalk of the street, ignoring the curious and dangerous looks of pedestrians as they passed by. Whether it was Kirito being a half elf or the rich aura Asuna seemed to have around her, the two had given up on trying to not attract unneeded attention. It seemed to follow them.

"Okay…" Asuna started, looking back behind her shoulder at Kirito. "You know what to do right?"

Kirito nodded in confirmation. "Yeah, shouldn't be too hard. All we got do is play by their rules for a bit, and give the signal for the others to act."

"Be careful, Kirito." Asuna warned, looking down at the ground. "We're playing a very dangerous game here."

"Trust me… I know."

The two soon arrived at the closed convenience store that the letter had advised them to visit. Asuna sat against the wall outside the convenience store, watching the streets for any sign of their client. Strangely, the area seemed to be emptied which was a rare thing in this part of Algade.

"Here."

She looked up to see Kirito handing her a can of soda. He smiled slightly at her confused expression. "It's on me. Don't worry about paying me back."

"Hmph." Asuna took the can, popping it open. "I wasn't going to pay you back anyway, considering I didn't ask for one."

"…That's true…" Kirito muttered, sitting down a few inches away from her. He placed the can on his lips, enjoying the flavored liquid run down his throat. He placed the can down, looking lazily at the crowds. It was like that for a few minutes, not a word spoken between the two. Kirito was actually contemplating taking a nap.

"…Hey Kirito."

"Hm?" Kirito turned to look at Asuna, who seemed to be in thought. "What's up Asuna?"

"Why did you choose to become a warrior?"

"Wha?" Kirito looked confused at the question. "Where's this coming from Asuna?"

Asuna let out an annoyed sound. "I'm asking a question, Kirigaya-san. From what I heard from Liz, you've been concern about me disliking you."

Kirito flinched at the glare Asuna was giving him. "Oh… yeah, I guess…." He made a mental note to get back at Lisbeth once they were done here.

"So why did you become a warrior?"

"Hmm…" Kirito put a hand on his chin, before shrugging. "Honestly, just to be able to provide for me and Sugu. Swords are one of the only things I'm good at, so why not make a living off of it?"

"That's it?" Asuna blurted, stunned by such a simple reason. "The only reason you fight is to make a living? Couldn't you just find another job?"

"You say that like it's an easy thing, Asuna." The half-elf retorted, glaring slightly at the noble. "It's hard for half-elves and their relatives, full-blooded or half-blooded, to get decent work. It was either this, or some low budget job as a servant and there is no way I'm going to become one of those or I'm going to allow Sugu to become one."

Asuna looked a bit stunned at the information. "Strange… there are several rich half-elf families in the neighborhood I stay at."

"Because they have deep connections." Kirito explained in an unintended harsh tone. "They have family in government, or their ancestors invented some useful technology that's being used today. Something along those lines. The point is that they had it made already so they have no reason to work."

"I…see." Asuna couldn't find another word to say to that, and remained silent. Of course that was the answer, it was so obvious. Not only that, but Kirito's tone had caught her off guard.

Kirito exhaled, thinking he had come off as too aggressive. He hadn't meant to sound harsh, but the topic had brought up sour feelings he had felt he already suppressed when he was younger.

He hated half-elven nobles back when he was a kid. How they lived the good life, while the unfortunate ones suffered. He was ignorant back then, but he had thought he had grown out of it.

He looked towards Asuna, who seemed to be in thought. Sighing, he opened his mouth, an apology about to come out…

When an explosion rang out, sending him flying across the street before crashing against the asphalt in a harsh manner. He groaned, sitting up, black coat singed and his ears ringing, to look at where he was sitting when his eyes widened.

"Asuna!" he yelled, concerned for his teammate. He ran towards where the explosion had taken place before catching a glimpse of silver in his vision. Instincts kicking in, he tilted his head to the left feeling something gaze his cheek. Wincing slightly, he raised his hand to give it a small touch before looking at his fingers to notice a red liquid.

'Blood…'

"Hahaha! How did you like that surprise?!" A female voice called out.

Looking up, Kirito saw a strange sight. It was a girl who seemed to be several years older than him. Her long purple hair fell all the way down to the middle of the back of her curvy figure, as her purple eyes glinted in the moonlight showing mischief. She was wearing what seemed to a blue sports bra top along with matching shorts. Long loose black sleeves clothed both arms, and a white scarf hung around her neck. Lastly, she wore ninja like boots with long black socks, a holster resting against her leg. However, what really caught Kirito's attention was the naginata that rested against her back and the fact she was standing on the burning building.

The girl grinned widely, as if ignorant of what she just did. Kirito stood there, silently, trying to assess the situation. Was this girl the one who caused the explosion?

"I know what you're thinking." The girl suddenly sounded, jumping off of the burning convenience store roof. "However, I couldn't care less. Know that… someone wants you and your friends dead and I intend to do just that."

"Wha-?" Kirito didn't have the chance to finish, before the girl dashed towards pulling out her naginata. He grunted pulling out both swords as they clashed.


Asuna dodged several icicles sent flying towards her, weaving in between them in the alleyway. She grunted her teeth, attempting another charge before having to jump back to dodge a fireball that smashed into the ground.

Her opponent stood down the alley was a young male, his back turned away from the burning explosion. His short silver hair fell to his neck and grey mage robes he was wearing seemed a bit too big for him. His grey eyes glared at the vice-captain of the Wings of Seraph, his mouth twitching into smirk.

He twirled the wooden staff in his hands, before slamming the base to the ground. Asuna tensed, and dodged to the side avoiding a trail of fire.

"Who are you all?!" Asuna demanded, her tone waning a little from exhaustion. The boy remained silent, and begin to charge a spell.

'Oh no you don't!' Asuna sprinted towards him, rapier ready

The mage mutter a curse dodging the thrust from the girl after canceling the spell.

Asuna put a foot out in front of her to stop before twirling on it to deliver another thrust. However, the boy put up a hand to defend himself as her rapier connected, a blue barrier forming pushed her back.

Asuna skidded to a halt, an annoyed expression on her face. 'A symbol shield, that's going to make things harder.' She got back into her stance ready to strike once again.


"Guh!"

Leo grunted as he was sent back, before kneeling over to grab his stomach. He coughed blood, before hearing a yell above him.

Looking up dazed, he saw a white haired girl with pink eyes wearing a large white long-sleeved tunic and blue Capri shorts underneath. Her shoes were toupe colored combat boots. However, the thing that Leo was paying attention to was the giant hammer in her hands.

Leo flinched as the hammer came down at a fast rate. She was about to strike him when a shadow appeared in front of her.

"Hah!"

Argo roundhouse kicked the girl, sending her flying onto the rooftop right next to them. The girl went crashing through the weak structure, a loud sound signaling a painful fall.

Argo landed on the ground, panting slightly. "Damn… should've known this wouldn't be easy."

Leo grunted, standing up painfully. "Damn bastards got the jump on us. They were one step ahead of us."

Argo didn't say a word as she looked to her side to see an unconscious Sinon. When the girl had appeared, she had knocked Leo and her aside. Sinon had tried to attack her using a combat knife, but the girl had sidestepped her and kicked the sniper hard in the head. She had seen Sinon's head hit the ground hard, and she looked like she had a concussion. The enemy would have killed Sinon if it wasn't for Leo hitting her in the back with a fireball.

"Leo, check up on Sinon and try to get some help." Argo ordered, pulling out her claw and attaching it to her hand. "I'm going to hold her off."

"Are you crazy?!" Leo blurted, shocked at what the Rat said. Had Argo lost her mind? "That girl will destroy you."

"That's why I said I'll hold her off not defeat her." Argo's tone was dry and humorless as she turned to look at Leo. "This girl is S-rank at least. She's too much for you."

Leo's face begin to grow malicious, his vision turning red. "Don't underestimate me Argo…"

Argo remained calm despite the anger the boy was excluding. "I'm not, but what's more important? Making sure Sinon's safe or proving yourself?"

Leo sighed angrily. She had him there. He walked over to the injured sniper, putting her on his back. "Fine, but don't think this is over, Argo."

Argo smirked wryly at him. "Heh. Wouldn't dream on it Leo-chan."

Leo blushed slightly and turned around, jumping across the roofs and muttering about 'Damn Argo.'

Argo snickered slightly to herself. Teasing Leo never got old, even in the most serious situations. He just got flustered too easily.

"You done saying your goodbyes?"

Argo frowned, turning around to see the girl standing on the roof across from her, her hammer in hand. Blood leaked from her forehead, staining her light colored clothes with red.

"Yeah… though it really wouldn't count as a goodbye, considering I'll see him later." Argo paused to get into her stance. "After I deal with you of course."

The girl closed her eyes, before her mouth opened. "Argo the Rat. Age 15 and S-rank. Known as the "The Rat" among several guilds for her whisker marks. An information broker and the unofficial scout for the Wings of Searph."

"Oh? Someone's been doing their research." Argo smirked. "Do they mention my charming wits or great figure?"

The girl ignored the question, getting into a stance. "My name is Sayaka and I hope you are ready to die, Argo."

With that, she charged towards Argo, who did the same.


Kirito roared, slashing his Elucidator in a horizontal manner at the enemy. However, the girl jumped over it easily and pulled out three kunai from her holster.

"Take this!"

Kirito raised his other sword to block the throwing weapons as the girl landed softly on the ground. She twirled her naginata in her hand before thrusting it towards Kirito. Kirito sidestepped quickly, though the blade managed to take a piece of his shirt.

He pulsed his foot with mana, giving him an extra burst of speed as he raised both swords. The girl, however, was one step ahead and quickly disappeared in a puff of smoke.

Kirito groaned internally. 'This is why I hate fighting ninjas!'

He twirled to the side, narrowly avoiding a stab from behind. The girl cursed, pulling her pole arm back before disappearing in a puff of smoke again. Kirito stopped in his tracks, trying to sense where she was hiding.

The girl appeared right above him, holding three kunai in each of her hands. With a cry, she flung them downwards as Kirito raised his swords to block them, the knives falling harmlessly to the ground.

The ninja landed on the ground, putting away her naginata in favor of two kunai in her hands. She dashed towards Kirito, who brought up his blades to defend himself. She slashed towards with her left, charging the kunai with mana to give it a power boost. Kirito raised his blade, blocking the attack before slashing towards her with Dark Repulser.

"Tch!"

The girl pushed backwards to avoid the slash as Kirito advanced towards her. He sent several blinding thrusts towards her, but the girl's natural agility allowed her to dodge each one of them. As he pulled back, the girl sent a kick right towards his face. Kirito ducked under it and swept for her other leg, but the girl leapt high in the air. Charging his legs with mana, Kirito leapt towards her.

"Ragh!" Kirito roared, slashing at her in an X-formation. However, the ninja was already expecting the attack and disappeared once again, dodging it. She quickly appeared and kicked Kirito in the unguarded stomach. Flipping in midair, she then gave him an axe kick to the head sending him to the ground painfully.

"Guh!" Kirito looked up dazed, only for his eyes to widen as he saw several shuriken sent towards him. He rolled to the side to avoid them as they implanted themselves into the ground. He got back up onto his feet, to see the girl dashed towards, naginata pointed right at him.

Kirito grunted, dodging to the side as the spear collided into the ground, kicking up dust and broken pieces of asphalt everywhere. The girl snarled, but wasn't prepared for the blade that came roaring through the dust. She barely had enough time to open her hand and form a small barrier, before being sent flying purely from the impact. She managed to regain her bearing as she placed a hand on the ground and flipped to a crouching position, her boots screeching before coming to a stop.

She looked up at Kirito, a smirk on her slightly tired face. "Heh. You're everything the client said you'd be. Haven't faced an equal in close combat in a while."

"Who hired you?" Kirito demanded, getting back into his stance.

The girl laughed loudly, annoying him. "As if I know!" Kirito's eyes widened. She didn't know her own client?! "All I was told was to kill you, and we'd get paid. They even said we'd have fun…."

The girl's grin seemed to become more malicious as she leered at him. "And I'm having fun alright… I should tell you my name as a sign of respect since you've earn it." A red aura seemed to form around the girl, as Kirito took a step back. "My name is Koyuki…and let's enjoy this battle to its fullest!"

She charged towards Kirito, naginata in hand as he got ready.


Asuna felt like a cornered rat and she hated it. The fight had spilled over to an abandoned construction area. Here she was, hiding behind a wall from a rogue mage. Talk about having pride…

She panted, pulling off a burnt sleeve of her dress and exposing her injured left arm. She winced as she gave it a slight touch, sending a small amount of pain through her. The noble calmed herself before placing hand over it, a light green aura encoated the injured spot.

'Damn mage. I can't get close to him, nor do I have time to use my spells.'

"You're going to come out of hiding, Seraph? Or are you going hid like a little rat?"

The teasing voice from the mage caused a quiet growl to escape from Asuna's mouth. She really wanted to make him pay, but if she rushed at him, she'd be bombarded by spells.

"You know I can find you right?" Asuna's eyes widened, feeling the heat around the area increase. "All I need is a little fire… and… THERE!"

Asuna begin to run as fast as she could, just before the wall behind her exploded. She fell to the ground before getting up, albeit wobbily. She pointed her weapon towards the mage as he calmly stalked towards her, trying to regain her stance.

"You seem shaken…" A dark glow covered his hands as he smirked. "What are you so scared of?"

"I'm not scared of you!" Asuna spat, trying to hold on to her pride. She couldn't give the enemy even a slight psychological advantage over her.

The mage laughed as if it was a funny joke. "Says the girl who reeks of fear. You're afraid, because you know I'm going to kill you. That I'm going to rip you apart, and there's not a damn thing you can do about it."

Asuna's eyes narrowed. "Then instead of wasting our time… why don't you try."

"Hmph!" The mage sent a blast of black energy towards her, which she dodged swiftly. She pushed off her foot, dashing towards the mage.

"That's not going to work girl!" The mage yelled, sending several bolts of lighting towards her. Asuna gritted her teeth, jumping into the air. The mage smirked, sending several fireballs at her.

Asuna, however, had seen this coming. Quickly calling a chant under her breath, she formed a purple barrier in front of her as it absorbed the spell. The mage's eyes widened as Asuna closed in on him, rapier pointed right at him.

"Useless!" He held up his right hand, a shield appearing before him. Asuna gritted her teeth, turning her body and pulling her rapier back. She managed to land behind the mage, much too his dismay.

"Hah!" She made several thrusts towards his back, trying to hit vital regions. The mage let out a pained yell as he was flung back, hitting the ground hard. Asuna sighed, relieved that she finally managed to connect with her attacks but annoyed that she knew this fight was far from over and she didn't have much strength, or mana left.

The mage got up, his magical robes torn in the back from the blows. He smiled in amusement. "Not bad, you managed to hit me…. I think it's time we turn this up a notch."

Asuna's eyes widened as a fiery aura seemed to rise around him. He grinned, smashing his staff onto the ground with a loud bang, before a concentrated beam of fire went flying straight towards the Searph, who was too weakened to move.

Only for it to suddenly disappear as a blue light hit against it.

The mage's eyes widened, seeing the attack be easily destroyed. "What?!"

"Chrome. SS-rank rogue mage with a large bounty worth over 1 million col…." A male voice drawled, followed by the sounds of sharp footsteps.

Asuna gasped at the sound of the voice. There was only one person she knew with that voice…

They both turned to see a tall young man stalking towards them. He had messy brown hair that went with his chestnut colored eyes. He was wearing a red and white armor that was famous among many in Varld. A great sword was gripped tightly in his left hand, as he lifted it with no signs of effort despite the size.

"Nii-san…"

The word escaped Asuna's lips, as the mage looked on in surprised.

Kouichirou Yuuki lifted up his sword, pointing it right at Chrome.

"Now may I ask why you're attacking my sister?"


"Urgh!"

Argo went flying into the ground, crashing with a loud thud. She looked up groggily to see Sayaka coming down with her hammer. She quickly managed to jump onto another rooftop as Sayaka's hammer slammed against the roof.

"Damn, the way you swing that hammar makes me think you have some serious issues." Argo joked, a grin on her face.

Judging from her current condition, one would be amazed about how she could still joke. She looked exhausted, blood came from her busted lip and closed left eye, and she was favoring her right leg.

Sayaka gave no response, simply charging at Argo once again. Argo clicked her teeth, quickly throwing several throwing picks at her. Sayaka simply held up the hilt of her weapon, deflecting the throwing weapons.

Argo leapt over the horizontal swing, landing a few feet away from Sayaka. Sayaka couldn't help but be slightly impressed. Even injured, Argo still was moving at fast speeds. She had no time to admire much as she continued her assault. Argo dodged several swings before ducking under one and spinning behind the hammer wielder. The Rat punched forward with her claw hand. However, her speed was affected by her injuries and Sayaka managed to dodge the attack.

"Damn-!"

Argo didn't have much of a chance to finish, before Sayaka kicked her in the side of her head, sending her back. Argo skidded against the ground before coming to a stop. Rubbing her head, she looked to see Sayaka pulling her hammer.

"Haa!" She threw the heavy weapon towards Argo whose eyes widened as she quickly moved to the side to dodge it.

Argo panted, but still had on her smirk. "Heh, I'm starting to wonder if you're even human." Sayaka smirked slightly as her weapon returned to her outstretched hand.

"Heh. I hear that a lot." Sayaka's face seemed to on a look of slight sadness, before it quickly returned to it's stoic expression. "Either way, it's time for you to d-."

The loud whistling of the air cut her off as Sayaka looked up to see six waves of energy approaching her. She jumped back as they smashed into the ground.

"Argo!"

Argo looked up to see a familiar figure with blond hair jumped down in front of her followed by another one with dirty blond hair. She sighed in relief. "It's about time you two showed up."

Eugeo ignored the remark, opting to keep his attention on his enemy. "Leo made it to the guild and told us of the situation. Sinon's injured, but she'll be alright."

"That's good…" Argo whispered, have been very concerned over the sniper's condition. It brought her great relief to know she'd be alright.

"Klein and Ran are on their way as well, as the others are out on missions and Jade's healing Leo and Sinon." Lyfa reported, pulling out her blade. "Where are Onii-chan and Asuna-san?"

Argo gritted her teeth. "I don't know, but we have to find them. I'm pretty sure they got jumped too."

"Tch! Damn it!" Eugeo cursed, frustrated by how things went to hell in such a bad way.

Sayaka grunted, not liking the odds all of a sudden. Argo was already giving her enough trouble, so adding it two other enemies would be a bad idea.

She had no choice… she had to retreat.

"You think we'll give you a chance?!"

Sayaka instinctively ducked under a sword swipe from Lyfa that would have surely taken off her head. She then was forced to hold up her hammer as she was pushed back by several ice pillars from Eugeo.

'This is going to be tougher than I thought….'


If there was one thing Chrome was sure of now…

You do not mess with a Knight of Blood member's sister.

The third wall he was sent through could vouch for that…

The mercenary mage stood up in pain to see Kouichirou stalking towards him, his expression uncaring as to the pain his opponent was going through. Chrome growled, his hands lighting up with fire.

However, Kouichirou simply lifted up his sword as a blue aura pulsed around it. A az blast went through the area as Chrome noticed the fire in his hands died down. As soon as that registered with him, he was sent flying by Kouichirou's sword before sliding to a stop on the ground.

"Fucking… Templar… skill users!" Chrome muttered obviously in serious pain.

Those trained in Templar abilities were the bane of every magic user. Their ability to not only resist magic at a high rate, but outright cancel it annoyed mages to no end.

Kouichirou stabbed his sword into the ground, leaning against it. "You can give yourself in peacefully… or I can kill you. Your choice, though know I'll make it as painful as possible if you choose to fight."

While on the outside he was calm, looking at his younger sister in bad shape kicked in from his older brother instincts. It didn't matter how old or skilled Asuna was, she was his younger sister and anyone who hurt her… had to deal with him.

To his mild surprise, Chrome begin to chuckle before it turned into a small laugh.

"You really think I'd allowed myself to get captured?" He pointed his hand in Kouichirou's direction, making the boy raise an eyebrow.

"You sure you want to try that?" Kouichirou warned, pulling his sword out of the ground and pointing it towards Chrome. "I'll just cancel it once more."

Chrome simply smirked before firing the fireball… except it wasn't aimed for Kouichirou.

The blazing ball of fire went right past the Knight of Blood and towards the sky, crashing into a hanging platform of beams and sending them down.

Right towards Asuna.

Kouichirou's eyes widened as he begin to sprint towards his sister, who looked up briefly gasping in shock as the beams closed in on her.

"Move, Asuna!"

An arm wrapped around the girl as she felt herself pulled away from the spot. The beams made a loud crashing sound as they landed on the ground, kicking up dust. Asuna panted, mentally berating herself for freezing up.

"Not like you to freeze up in combat like that Asuna!"

Asuna looked to her side to see Klein's grinning face. A feeling of small relief washed over her to see a familiar face after just nearly an hour of fighting.

Kouichirou let of a deep breath of relief, before turning to glare at the mage responsible.

Only to noticed he was gone.

"Shit…!" Kouichirou looked around in a panic. He had just allowed an SS-rank criminal to escape! He had to find him!

"Kouichirou Yuuki…"

"Huh?" The templar turned back to see Asuna approaching him with her head down, staring at the ground. "Asuna, what's wrong?"

Asuna sighed slightly, both mentally and physically exhausted. "I'm sorry for getting in your way of fighting, Vice Captain."

Kouichirou blinked, before chuckling and patting his younger sister's head. "Don't worry about it Asuna, I'm just relieved you're safe."

However, not to his surprise, Asuna simply move his arm away. Her expression showed no emotion. "Yes. Well, thank you for your concern." She begin to walk away from the site. "We need to check up on the others. Once again, I thank you for your assistance Vice Captain."

The older Yuuki frowned. It seemed the barriers between him and his sister was still as strong as ever…

Klein shook his head as Asuna passed by him, ignoring his presence. He placed a hand behind his head tiredly. "Kouichirou-san… sorry about all this. We hadn't expected the mission to turn out like this."

"Then why didn't you send more members with the infiltration team to prepare?"

Klein flinched at the tone Kouichirou was using, and the glare didn't help. "We were trying to remain secretive. If we sent anymore, we'd risk getting found out."

The younger boy's glare seemed to lighten up a bit at hearing the reason. The Wings of Searph did have good infiltration records, so it was responsible to see why they got over their heads.

"Still though…" Kouchirou started, an unreadable experrsion crossing his face. "I don't approve of this reckless behavior. I have to talk about this with Konno-san, and I'm sure Captain's going to as well."

Klein nodded, already getting a headache. "Alright, but we need to get to her first. She went after Kirito, and I think your sister is already half way there."

"Yes, well we need to get a move on. Nothing we can do about the one who escaped, I can't track him." Kouichirou started down the alleyway with Klein following him shortly afterwards.


South Algade was far from a quiet place, but the noise had been crazy today. One of the reasons involved a certain half-elf fighting for his life against a crazed ninja.

Kirito boots skidded across the ground as he halted to a stop. He panted, trying to catch his breath.

"Don't stop now!"

Before he knew it, Koyuki's grinning face appeared in front of him, weapon at the ready. Kirito held up both of his swords in a X-formation, as the polearm striking dead in the middle, the force pushing Kirito back.

Kirito's arms dropped to the side, exhaustion beginning to overcome him. 'Damn… how did she get so strong?' He had managed to fight with Koyuki toe to toe earlier, but now she seemed to be both stronger and faster.

Was she using some sort of support spell?

…Or had she been holding back?

Now that he thought about it, what was this girl's rank? She seemed at the most four years older than him, so it couldn't be that high… could it?

'Still though… I can't retreat.' Kirito begin to push mana into his arms to give them strength. 'My reaction speed is higher, and her attacks are becoming straight forward. I have to stay one step ahead.'

With that, he ran towards her, blades dragging slightly across the ground. He swung the one in his left towards her leg, but she simply moved it. He spun around with the right, only for her to use her pole arm to block it. Kirito gritted his teeth jumping back.

"Hmph!" Koyuki went on the offensive, swinging her nagianta in a wide horizontal arch. Kirito manage to stop it, blocking the weapon with Dark Repulser, and stabbing towards her with Elucidator. Koyuki snarled, kicking him in the stomach and pushing him back.

Kirito gasped in pain, kneeling to the ground. 'Damn kick must have had mana in it.' He looked up, expecting to see Koyuki charging at him only to notice she was gone. 'Where did she go?!' His eyes darted around, looking for the ninja.

"Looking for me?"

Kirito's eyes widened as he swung his swords behind him, only hitting air. "What the-guh!"

He stopped as he felt a pain shoot through his chest. Blood hit the floor as he gasped, looking down to notice a naginata going through his chest.

"Game over…" He heard Koyuki whisper in his ear.

The ninja was grinning widely, pleased with herself. She had just had the one of the best battles in her life and had won. Not to mention, she had been paid handsomely for it.

"Heh."

Koyuki raised an eyebrow at the dying and chuckling half-elf. "What are you laughing about?"

Kirito smirked widely beginning to dissolve in smoke, shocking the ninja. "That you, a ninja, fell right into my trap."

Before Koyuki could react, Kirito exploded into a cloud of smoke obscuring her vision as she attempted to see. 'An illusion?!'

"Owa!"

Pain. That was all Koyuki felt as her back seemed to explode as two swords went right through her chest and were pulled out, blood spilling from the wounds. She wasn't able to scream or gasp, as she fell to the ground, her eyes widen in shock.

Kirito stood behind her, panting from exhaustion. However, he knew better than to be relieved. He was right, as Koyuki begin to dissolve into a puddle of blood.

'I knew any skilled ninja wouldn't fall for something like that. Okay where is she hiding now?'

"Wow, I'm really impressed right now!" The voice he had grown accustomed to the past hour called out. He looked up to see Koyuki, sitting on a street lamp grinning widely.

Kirito's spat a little blood, relaxing into his stance. He didn't know how much Koyuki had left in her, nor did he know how much more damage he could take. Still, he wouldn't back down. He was far from being defeated.

However, Koyuki simply raised a hand to his confusion. She smirked, standing up on the pole.

"How about you and me call it a draw for right now?"

Kirito raised an eyebrow. What was up with her? She had just been trying to kill him earlier, crazed for battle, and now she wanted a draw.

Koyuki, almost as if she could read his mind continued. "You have potential from what I can tell. No wonder my client wanted me to fight you. However, if we continue you'll end up dead." She chuckled. "And I don't have much time left before Ran breaks through my illusion…"

"Illusion?" Kirito repeated, taken aback. What was she talking about?

Koyuki laughed in amusement. "And they say you're proficient in illusions! Then again, this type of illusion takes a lot of skill to recognize." She jumped down, causing Kirito to be on guard. "You notice how there's no people around us? That's because I trapped us in a wide barrier that causes an illusion."

"Why would you do something like that?" Kirito asked in confusion. Why would she waste power to form an unneeded barrier?

"Even as a criminal, I have some morals." Koyuki's tone lost all hints of playfulness or pride. "I'm not going to risk killing innocent civilians just for a fight. That's why I made sure the area was clear before blowing it up, and telling my teammates to fight in abandoned areas."

Kirito felt a hint of respect for the ninja now.

"Anyway, I've been holding back this entire time. I could kill you right now if I wanted." Koyuki said, regaining her battle lust tone. "But why do that, when you'll get better? So I'll let you walk and you can brag to your little friends you drawed with a SSS-rank."

'SSS-rank?!' Kirito's eyes went wide, as Koyuki snickered.

"Guess I forgot to mention that huh?" Koyuki grinned wildly, the blood on her face adding effect. "So go get stronger, so we can have even more fun next time."

A glint shined in her eye as she leaned in close to Kirito's ear. "It'd be a shame if I had to kill such a cutie so easy… because I like it rough."

A red color formed on Kirito's cheeks and it only increased as she gave him a peck on the cheek. 'This girl is crazy…'

A cracking sound interrupted his thoughts as the two looked up to see to see cracks form along the sky. Koyuki grinned as it shattered like glass, drops of mana hitting the ground like rain.

"Should have known you be here Koyuki."

Koyuki shrugged, smiling smugly, at the approaching Ran. "What can I say? A girl's got to earn a living."

"And that involves attack my guild?"

"Details. Details. Anyway, it's time for me to jet, so later!"

"You think I'll let you get away?!" Ran charged towards her, sword drawn, but Koyuki disappeared into a puff of smoke as soon as she got close.

"You're still too slow Ran-chan!" Koyuki's teasing voice came from above, as everyone looked to see her on top of a building away from them. "See you all later, especially you, Kirito…"

She grinned, winking towards Kirito before disappearing in a puff of smoke.

Ran watched the smoke evaporate in the air, already getting a headache. Hearing footsteps, she saw Eugeo and Lyfa helping an injured Argo walk.

Eugeo turned towards her, his expression grave. "I'm sorry Captain. But the criminal got away."

"Same here." A female voice interjected. Everyone turn to see Asuna walking towards them out of the alleys, Klein and another face that the younger Seraphs didn't recognize following behind her.

Ran recognizing the stranger and his uniform, let out a sigh.

'Even now, you still make my life hell… Koyuki.'


This is the pre-beta version, so please excuse any bad grammar.

Could not think of a good title for this chapter... lol.

My apologies on the lateness of this chapter. Life has been a pain for me lately, so I've had distractions.

If anyone is worried about more main OCs, don't be. Koyuki and her crew won't be appearing very often, just making random appearances here and there. Besides, I have to expand on the SSS-ranks a bit more. Most are canon characters though.

I hoped you've enjoyed the chapter, and I will see when I can get the beta'd version out. Review if anything sounds weird or contradicting, or if you've enjoyed the chapter.

Peace Out.