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Sept. 15., 10:00am The first thing Rowen concluded about study hall was that it was boring. The second thing he just had proven to the point it became a scientific law, was how pointless it was to study when Cye and Kento were locked up in the same room together. Without a single teacher in sight; it was only worse. Granted, Ryo and he weren’t doing what they were supposed to be doing either. Risk isn’t what the teaching staff would call constructive. However, WWF vs. nWo Kento and Cye style was nowhere near what anyone, to the farthest stretch of the imagination, would call "constructive." Rowen turns back to his game, doing his best to ignore them. Ryo was winning by the throw of the dice; he had captured the most ground and was pushing Rowen further back into his own territory. Maybe if I focused on the southernmost front of Ryo’s -- Rowen’s thought is cut off as the game board leaps a good two feet into the air as Kento bashes into the table. "GUYS!" Rowen yelps in protest. Ryo lets loose an angry nasal snarl, giving his two friends a look that would have vaporized steel. Kento picks himself off the floor and starts advancing on Cye again. "C’mon, guys! Knock it off! You get too much louder and Ms. Thaessi will come bust us like she’s the damn Gestapo!" Rowen hisses, planting himself between Cye and Kento. The elderly teacher is total hell on wheels: She hates kids and lives to make everyone’s life miserable. Rowen glances back at Ryo. He was already putting the game away; more than just a little hurriedly. Rowen abandons his efforts at peace and scours the floor for any missing pieces. Then he sits down in his assigned seat and starts to study again, but it’s not anything for school: It’s sign language. He had been put into the same Chemistry class as Rahne. After a week of unsuccessfully trying to tutor her in the math from the class, he had decided to learn sign language. There were just some things she’d never understand in lipspeak. Rowen comes out of his book to the sound of rhythmic tapping; he looks up to see Ryo facing him from several seats ahead. ~ How is it coming? ~ he signs to Rowen, slowly and without complicated meanings. Rowen takes a deep breath, all he could do was letters of the alphabet right now. He gives Ryo the universal hand sign for "Okay." Then he take a quick look back at his book. He fingerspells. ~ S.T.I.L.L - D.O.N. - G.E.T - A. L.O.T. ~ Ryo grins, and then says just loud enough to be heard. "It’ll come. It’s easier than it looks. Uh-oh!" Rowen quickly looks down to his book, as Ryo whips around in his seat; both doing their best to look busy. Kento and Cye take no notice, and Kento throws his arm around Cye’s neck in a headlock, sticks his finger in his mouth, and then sticks it into Cye’s ear: A "wet willie." Cye yelps and struggles against his friend, trying to escape the revolting torture. Kento laughs and tightens his grip, enjoying Cye’s reaction. Ryo glances up, grimaces and then sticks his nose back into his math. The "Gestapo" is here. After school, they meet in the gym. None of the others have sports practice today, so they get to watch Rahne work. She had fought for and had gotten captain of the Freshmen Girls Gymnastics team. "Where’s Kento and Cye?" Sage asks, eyeing the thin, pretty girls below. "Detention," Rowen states, not quite able to keep the satisfaction out of his voice. He sits up a little straighter as Rahne launches herself into her blistering fast tumbling run. She ends the run in a straight-legged, aerial front splits, and then sticks the landing. She then walks over to the uneven bars, and begins to instruct some of the girls. "Ro!? Are you listening to me!?" "Huh? What’d you say, Ry’?" Rowen answers lamely, blinking. Ryo grins and shakes his head, "Nothing important." He turns to watch his sister demonstrate some move on the uneven bars for a few moments. "You’ve got a helluva crush on her don’t you?" Rowen puts his head down, embarrassment burning his face, "Is it that obvious?" he mumbles. Before Ryo’s able to formulate a response, Kento and Cye come stumbling madly up the bleachers; excited but nervous looks on their faces. Cye grabs Ryo’s shoulder, "You will not believe who’s out in the hall!" The bleachers shake slightly as someone walks down them from the balcony. Both Cye and Kento scowl up at whoever it is. Ryo mentally counts to five and then turns around. Dressed in faded jeans, hiking boots, and sweater is Dais, walking casually down towards them. Ryo turns back around to watch his sister. "Nice outfit," Ryo says dryly as Dais comes up behind him. Dais raises his eyebrow, a little surprised. "Nice to see you too, Sanada." They don’t respond, forcing themselves to watch Rahne practice, instead of their backs. Even though the warlords had reformed, it was still hard to trust them. If Kayura was with him, they’d be a little more open. He’d done so much to them during their war against Talpa. Even Rahne hadn’t escaped. What’s worse, the warlord knows that he’s walking on thin ice. Finally, after a long silence, he asks, "How is she doing?" Ryo lurches to his feet, spinning around to face the Warlord, grabbing the front of his shirt. "Don’t you even think about my sister, Dais!" Dais doesn’t allow himself to be intimidated, "I’m not here to fight you, Wildfire. I’m here to warn you." He waits until Ryo lets go, then continues. "One the factions that supported Talpa has broken off from our new Dynasty. They’ve begun hit and fade strikes against our outposts in the less inhabited regions of Netherworld." Sage turns around and asks Dais, "Are they being led by a creep named Zanaton?" Dais looks momentarily surprised, but then nods. "He’s one of the Generals. How do you know about him?" Kento stands and watches Rahne check the adjustments on the Pommel Horse for the Boys’ Team. "He attacked Rahne with really vicious nightmares. And Mia physically." "Are they all right?" "Mia’s fine; but Rahney doesn’t talk about it." Cye follows Rahne’s movements as she jogs over to the balance beam, and simply jumps onto it. Dais looks down at the bleacher he’s standing on, "I’m... sorry... for attacking her when we were enemies. Even then, I insisted she was harmless. I tried to apologize afterwards through a dream using just words, but I don’t think she understood." Rowen sighs. She even fooled the Warlords, because she was so active. They’d never known just how defenseless she was. "She’s deaf," Ryo whispers. They fall into a tense silence. Kento starts to fidget with the cuffs of his uniform jacket, his stomach growling a little. Cye drums his fingers on his knee, not quite so glad to be free of detention anymore. "Hey, Kento!" Rahne’s call is almost too faint to be heard. "Could I get your help!?" Kento makes a comical face and practically throws himself down the stairs, happy for any excuse to leave. He’s not surprised to notice Cye’s following him down. "Hi, babes. The Funny Farm let us out early on good behavior." Kento throws an arm around her shoulders, and admiring how well he chose that leotard she’s wearing. "Careful, Kento. She gives Sage bruises for looking her over in that tight thing." Cye teases, unzipping his uniform jacket and then offers her his right arm. Rahne gives them a totally unlady like snort; favors him with a smile, entwining her left around his. "Only when he looks at me a certain way." "Oh. I see how it is, babes." Only then does Kento notice how tense her shoulders feel, how afraid she looks under her usual tomboy armor. "Babes?" "Guys, that guy up there...!" Rahne clutches Cye’s arm, trying not to look over her shoulder. "He’s the guy who’s always in my nightmares!" "We know, Babes. Just keep walking. What did you need?" Kento mouths to her, his arm tightening its grip around her shoulders just a bit. She points with her free arm to the volleyball net at the far end of the gym. "I need to take those down..." Cye and Kento lift the poles out of their recessed holders in the gym floor and puts the net away. Rahne’s trembling slightly, trying not to look behind her, her eyes bright with barely held back tears. Cye takes her hand and leads her out into the hall to get away from Dais’s presence. Outside Rahne begins to cry. Cye gives her his hankie, and just rubs her shoulders. Kento comes out with her sweatpants slung over his shoulder. Rahne slows down long enough to put the sweatpants on over her leotard. "Guys, what’s goin’ on!? All of you have had this big secret since I’ve got here. And now that guy shows up!" She leans on the wall and sinks down it into a sitting position, and hugs her knees. She pillows her head on her arms and knees, and fights to stop crying. Cye sits down next to her, feeling like crap. She looks back up at Kento and cries out, "I’m tired of pretending!" Kento kneels beside her. "Babes, we can’t tell you. I’m sorry, but we can’t. Not yet." Cye lightly pinches her chin, turns her head to face him, "You don’t have to worry about that guy. We’ll protect you, Rahney. Trust us." Rahne trembles, but she accepts that they can’t tell. She whispers to Cye: "I wanna go home, guys!" Rahne puts her head back down, and starts to cry again. She sounds like a frightened child, and not the tomboy she normally is. The dreams and the stress are taking their toll. "Kento, she’s scared something terrible. I’m taking her home. Go tell Ryo and get her stuff." Cye orders, rubbing her shoulder. Kento runs back in and across the gym, feeling more than just a little angry. He takes the bleachers two at a time all the way; by then too furious to feel out of breath. "RYO! Cye and I’re taking Rahney home!" Kento bellows as he climbs, a snarl escaping with it. "Dais, you’ve really done it, pal! Rahney’s out in the hall with Cye - She’s scared half out of her freaking MIND!" Kento immediately turn and takes off back down, grab Rahne’s things, makes an excuse to her coach and leaves. He comes back out to see Cye holding Rahne tighter, her hands white-knuckling his arm, his hankie pressed tight to her mouth. Her face is red, her breathing too fast, and in gasps: Hyperventilating. What the!? he thinks, totally bewildered. She had gone through huge climbs up to unimaginable altitudes without so much as feeling out of breath. What possibly could have upset her so much!? Cye catches his look and nods down the hall: Cale and Sekhmet. "Cale looked right at her. I think she recognized ‘im." He keeps his voice low so as not to be heard. "Goddamn it!" Kento pounds the wall with his fist. They had almost gotten her semi-calm. He drops Rahne’s things and kneels beside his best friends. Cye leans his head against hers, his forehead kanji glimmers lightly under his sandy brown bangs. Rahne shuts her eyes, attempts to take a slow, deep breath; but gasps halfway through. Cye takes the hankie away to press her head against his chest. "Cye!" Kento hisses. She takes another deep breath, this time the inhale only shakes. Her nose starts to bleed a little; Cye wipes the blood away before it can drip onto the leotard and stain it. "Cye! What the hell are you DOING!? Someone might see you...!" Cye strokes her hair, ignoring Kento. Another deep breath. And another. And another. Until Rahne’s breathing calmly against Cye’s chest. She looks up at Cye, her eye’s full of fear and shock. She’d never lost control like that before. "What’s happening to me, Cye!?" "I think we have to take our stress out of your life, Rahney..." Cye tells her, shrugging off his jacket, and draping it over her shoulders. Mia and Yuli are already home when they pull in. They take Rahne to the living room, and make her lie down on the couch "Cye what did you do?" Kento asks up in their room as they change out of their school uniforms. Cye shrugs, "Nothing much. I tried a hunch of mine. Just let my power work, and it helped her get control again." Sept. 20, 7:30am Sage wakes up to the golden light from the sunrise, and to quiet. Last night had been the Homecoming Dance, and they had all stayed out till unbelievably late. He smiles at the thoughts of all the girls, and how great they looked. He had had more fun flirting with the girls than he did doing anything else. They had all gone together, which made a more dramatic entrance anyway. Rahne definitely made things interesting, but she had done that just by looking totally beautiful. The DJ had been great, he’d really kept the dance moving. He’d played the really good music, but enough of everything to keep everyone happy. Rowen’s bed creaks as he rolls over in his sleep. Good thing there was no school today, or else Ro’ would be in trouble. Then again, he didn’t expect anyone to be in a hurry to get up this morning. Well, maybe Kento would be once he got hungry enough to wake up. You are one lucky bum, Genius! Sage thinks glancing over in Rowen’s direction. The guy they had thought was too shy to do anything of the sort, had kissed a girl. Now he could deal with it being one of the other girls from school, but Rowen had chosen the one who was the total unthinkable. Only last night did he find out that Ryo had lifted his "Off-limits" mandate. Too damn late for him or anyone else: The Tomboy had already been kissed. She had begun to return to the self they knew was under all that fatigue, the one who managed to annoy and delight her brother alternately, but yet all at once. All this had happened within the past few days, the most improvement last night. Good for you, Rahne. You need something to keep you from becoming like your brother. Sage gets up and heads for the bathroom. A nice, warm shower would be great this hour of morning, especially since he wouldn’t have to hurry. He passes Yuli’s room on the way. He hears the faint sound of a Game Boy. When he looks in; though, the little boy pretends to be asleep. "Yuli, you’re not fooling me," he tells him from the doorway. Yuli throws the covers back and whines. "I wanna get up! Cartoons’re on !" "Look. If you keep the volume low, you can watch cartoons. But everyone had a late night, don’t wake ‘em." When he gets out of the shower, he discovers the twins in the den playing video games. Somehow both of them had squeezed themselves into one easy chair; an electric blanket spread across their laps. "This is a new one," Sage says sarcastically, still toweling off his hair. Ryo glances at him and immerses himself back into the game. "G’morning, Sage," he mumbles, half drowsing. "Hey. Gee, isn’t she talkative this morning." Sage teases, sitting on the arm of the sofa. Ryo lightly elbows his sister, she looks up from the game, "Oh, Hi, Sage. Sorry, temporarily comatose." "S’Okay." He says as he walks out of the room: Time to do his hair. The twins keep playing their game, trying find their way through the latest, monster infested maze. Slowly the others stream in, and drape themselves over the available chairs, still in pajamas and robes. They just watch, still half asleep. No one comments on the fact that Kento hasn’t begun whining yet for breakfast. Rowen drags himself in, more asleep than not, and drops himself onto the couch. On the video game, they make a wrong move, run into one of the monsters, and it’s "Game Over". Ryo just pushes "reset" and they start from where they left off. Cye runs a hand through his hair, pushing up more ends that stick out wildly. Rowen yawns, his deep blue eyes squinting. Sage comes back in, his freshly styled hair still damp, and sits down in the last vacant easy chair. White Blaze come in and lays down in the middle of the rug. The only sound is creaking furniture and the video game. The quiet is over the minute Kento falls back asleep and lets loose a roof raising snore. The video game immediately registers "Game Over" as he disturbs the twins. Everyone’s fully awake now; shocked out of their half narcoleptic states. "Shut him up!" "KENTO!" "Hey, KENTO!" "I think I can actually hear that!" "How many noise level laws is he breaking, then!?" "Wake him up, jeez!" "Oh, GOD! Everyone in the country can probably hear him!" "Screw ‘Country’! Try ‘Universe’!!" "HEY! Pillsbury Kento! Wake up!" "Wait. Everyone together: 1... 2... 3!" "KENTO!!" everyone yells, finally waking Kento up. He wakes up and blinks several times, and yawns. "Huh? Is it breakfast time yet?" he asks groggily. >GROAN!!< Sage shakes his head, catching a set of hand gestures out of the corner of his eye. Ryo immediately starts laughing hilariously. "Nothing, Kento." "Rowen! It’s your turn to cook!" Mia calls up the stairs. Everyone gets up and goes downstairs for breakfast. Kento asking Ryo all the way what was so funny. Rowen walks into the kitchen, his hands jammed into the pockets of his robe. He couldn’t cook worth crap, and the guys hated every attempt he made. What could he possibly cook that would be good enough to hold everyone to their trip to Sendai? Mia’s sitting at the small table, going over her notes for class again. Or safeguarding breakfast. Whatever. A couple three-by-five index cards suddenly materialize in front of his face. "Easy Coffee Cake" and "Quickie Omelets." Rowen takes them from the small tan hand and turns around. He gives Rahne a quick hug and hands them back to her. "Rahney, I can’t cook. These are all but a lost cause." "I can’t either. Those are impossible to mess up. I know from experience." "Oh." He quickly looks away, trying not to blush. Still too easy to get embarrassed. He takes them back and starts to get out the ingredients. Rahne backs away, getting a little red faced herself. "Um, so... what’s up with Sendai?" Rowen carefully breaks to eggs, trying not to get any eggshells in the batter. He gets out the cooking spray and sprays the pan before he forgets. "Oh... Sage’s from there. Just a visit. Really." Rahne nods, not really believing him, but leaves the kitchen before she looses her nerve. And walks right into the fully awake teasing realm the guys had going this morning. Kento gives a wolf whistle, while Cye mimes applause. Her frown gets flatter as her brother leans back in his seat, a little lop-sided smile on his face. She turns to head up to the bathroom for a shower and almost runs straight into Sage. He waggles his eyebrows at Rahne, grinning at her red face. He puts on his flirting attitude; only this time it’s sarcastic. He begins to say something, but she cuts him off. "Don’t you dare start!" she warns, brandishing a fist. Ryo puts a restraining hand on her arm, trying to keep Sage unbrusied for as long as mortally possible. "C’mon, Sage. Leave her alone. The bruise’d be fun trying to explain to your dad." The Sendai dockyard is too silent. Nothing, not even the caws of seagulls break the silence. The only sound there is, is the pounding of their hearts and the noise their armors make as they move. A heavy fog hangs in the air, lowering visibility; muting the sound even further. The air is still; strange for being this close to the ocean. Cye of Torrent shifts his grip on his yari, trying to look everywhere at once. He was leading this mission; as he being the warrior of water. He feels like he’s been dropped into one of the teen-slasher movies like Scream, or maybe Friday the 13th. In the middle. With no idea who or what he was supposed to look out for. Last year it probably would have been Sekhmet. Cye wonders briefly if his heartbeat is as loud as it sounds to him. Kento feels his blood pressure rise, and his excitement even more. His brain kept repeating "Fight" like a mantra. It feels like old times. He absently twirls his naginata once. He’s impatient: he wants to kick some butt! Behind him, the other Ronin Warriors follow him nervously with drawn weapons; adrenaline pumping through their veins. They had come here to investigate a lead the warlords had uncovered. Now it would appear that they were at least in the right place. Ryo walks to the rear, thankful he’s not leading the guys this run. Three faintly rhythmic whistles faintly reach them from beyond the fog: Cale. Meaning: There were soldiers up ahead. They continue on, feeling the presence of evil all around them. Another whistle. A instant later something leaps out of the shadows. A streak of brown, red, and black appears out of nowhere, crashing into the humanoid creature like a locomotive of steel and claw. Cale lands on his feet as more swarm out of every nook and cranny. The guys leap to meet the soldiers head on. Sage whirls in a tight aerial spiral, cleaving through armor and spears alike. He slashes outward in a complicated maneuver, leaving the ground littered with empty shells. Then the soldiers press in, overwhelming him with their sheer numbers. Help comes from an unexpected source in the form of Cale, who cuts him a path out of the mob. Sage leaps through the openings, then turns like a whiplash. "THUNDER BOLT CUT!" "BLACK LIGHTNING SLASH!" The beams of pure light and darkness slice through the air with breathtaking speed, perfectly in synch. It seems momentarily strange to be fighting along side his once greatest opponent, that their special attacks would work in concert like they do. But they work well together. Sage briefly salutes him with his sword and dives back into battle. Cye swings his yari in a wide arc, then straight vertical, cleaving the soldier from waist to head. He then reverses his swing to block an oncoming lance. He can’t believe this! It was like these soldiers had a death wish or something. They’re pressing in too close; they were killing more of each other than doing any damage to them. Forget this, Cye thinks, performing a one-handed backflip, sending himself into the water. The soldiers don’t seem to realize for a moment that he’s gone, and plow right off the pier and into the water. It only takes a single blast from his Super Wave Smasher takes them out of the fight. He surges up out of the water, temporally more powerful. He points his yari directly at the soldiers, and lets loose. "SUPER WAVE SMASHER!" Ryo instinctively ducks the onrush of water, he had learned the last time: Wildfire didn’t belong in the water. He did it TWICE!? The surge rushes well over his head, and then he takes advantage of his opponent momentary blindness and strikes. Water rains down on the battle with pounding force. Wildfire spins, whipping his katanas around and up. He looks everywhere at once, his body instinctively knowing where his swords are going. He whips his body around, blocking. Cutting. His foot hurls outward like it had a mind of its own, disarming one; his fist directly follows his movement, disorienting another. Focus. He ignores all distractions. They were pressing in too tight. Time for the Wildfire Flare... whoops. Not with Rowen behind him. He’s down to using his bow as a makeshift bludgeon, he couldn’t even draw it in this melee. Like it mattered. These soldiers weren’t fighting per se, they were just overpowering them with sheer numbers. Rowen had seen only a few use the weapons they carried like they knew what they were doing. It was like they were only extensions of the ones who knew how to fight, once you get rid of those, you ended up with total entropy. Make that hell-in-a-bottle! Rowen leaps backwards to avoid getting crushed by several dozen soldiers who basically got pushed by those behind. He catches a familiar look from Ryo. It’s his "I-wish-to-renew-my-membership-to-the-pyromaniacs-society-MOVE" look. That was okay with him! Rowen vaults over a dry dock wall, and onto the lower concrete. From behind him her hears sounds that resembles the sound a Mac truck makes when it totals a car. Then: "IRON ROCK CRUSHER!!" Oh crap - oh crap - oh shit!! Move it or lose it, Hashiba!! Rowen’s thankful that he had learned to swim in deep water this summer, because it’s the only place to go! As he resurfaces he sees one of the warehouses just about implode. He had wondered where Ol’ Hard Head had gone. "FLARE UP NOW!"

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