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Legend of the Kokoro
Episode #9: Wildfire’s Weakness

“Nice job at practice, Sandra,” Ryo admitted as he, Sandra, and Rita left Han`a High School. “Thanks, Ryo,” Sandra replied as she spun a soccer ball around on her finger. “You weren’t so bad yourself, ya know.”
“Do the soccer coaches normally do that? Do they
always have a match between the boys’ and girls’
teams?” Rita asked curiously. “Not always, Rita. Coach
Zettler and Coach Zettler only do it once in a while
to make practice a little more interesting,” Ryo
explained. “Wait a minute. Both of the coaches are
named Zettler?” Rita asked. “Of course, they have the
same name. They’re married,” Sandra revealed.

“Really?” Rita asked. “They sure are, Rita. Every
year, Mr. and Mrs. Zettler always tell us the same old
story about how they met in high school when they
played on their school’s soccer team,” Ryo remarked.
“That sounds very romantic,” Rita admitted as they
continued walking down the main road. “Yeah, I guess
so. Anyway, I can’t wait ‘til our first game next
Monday!” Sandra admitted. “We are totally gonna
dominate! Right, Ryo?” Ryo nodded his head in
approval. “What school are you playing against?” Rita
asked curiously. “I think it’s called...Tacoma High,”
Sandra replied unsurely. Ryo chuckled a little bit.
“It’s called Tokaoka High, Sandra.”

“Sorry, but I don’t know how to pronounce all these
Japanese names,” Sandra revealed as they reached the
first street corner. “Here’s me stop. See ya
tomorrow!” “Good night, Sandra!” Rita shouted as the
redhead girl headed down the street to her house. “We
better get going, Rita. It’s starting to get dark,”
Ryo pointed out. “All right, then. Let’s go,” Rita
replied. The two friends walked down the main road in
silence for a few minutes. “Umm...Rita?” Ryo asked a
bit hesitantly. “Yes, Ryo?” Rita asked. “I was kinda
wondering, are you doing anything tomorrow?” Ryo asked
curiously. “Actually, yes. I need to do some yard work
for my grandfather,” Rita replied. “It’ll probably
take me all day to get everything done.”

“What about your grandfather? Isn’t he going to help
you?” Ryo asked curiously. “My grandfather’s not as
strong as he used to be, Ryo. He has a bad back, so he
can’t do any heavy lifting,” Rita revealed. “My
grandfather also plans on visiting an old friend of
his tomorrow in Okaya.” “Well, if you want, Rita, I
can come by tomorrow and help you out,” Ryo offered.
“That’s nice of you, Ryo,” Rita admitted with a small
smile. “I’ll have to ask my grandfather first, so I’ll
call you later tonight and let you know, okay?” “Sure,
no problem,” Ryo replied. “Good night, Ryo,” Rita
replied before she headed down the street leading to
her house. “Good night, Rita,” Ryo replied before he
continued heading down the road to his house...

Meanwhile, up in Dulcea’s mysterious spaceship,
Wildfire was standing by himself in the Dark Crystal
room. His sinister red eyes were fixed on the five
Dark Crystals that were fully charged with Black Chi
energy. “What’s the matter, Wildfire? Are you
jealous?” a familiar voice asked. Wildfire turned
around and saw Devaki standing in the doorway.
“Jealous of what, Devaki?” Wildfire asked suspiciously
with his eyes narrowed. “I saw you staring at the Dark
Crystals that Halo charged up with the Black Chi he
has stolen from Sage of Halo,” Devaki confessed. “Are
you envious of his success, Wildfire?”

“I am jealous of no one, Devaki,” Wildfire muttered
sternly as he crossed his arms. “Then what are you
doing here?” Devaki asked. “I was looking for you,”
Wildfire revealed. “I have a plan that will harness a
great deal of concentrated Black Chi from Ryo of
Wildfire, but in order for my plan to succeed, I’ll
need to borrow something from you.” “And what do you
need from me, pray tell?” Devaki asked curiously. “I
need to use the necrophidius,” Wildfire announced. “My
necrophidius? What for?” Devaki asked.

“Ryo of Wildfire has a great weakness that we can use
to our advantage,” Wildfire explained. “He tends to
get incredibly angry whenever one of his friends is
injured or is in some sort of danger. I’ve seen it for
myself in our previous battles.” “And how do you plan
on using my necrophidius, Wildfire?” Devaki asked
curiously. “My plan is to allow the necrophidius to
attack someone that Ryo truly cares about,” Wildfire
explained. “When Ryo finds out that his friend will
not recover from the necrophidius’ bite, he will
become extremely furious, which will build up a great
deal of concentrated Black Chi within him.”

“This plan of yours sounds very promising,” Devaki
admitted. “Come with me, Wildfire.” Devaki turned
around and hobbled down the dark hallway, followed by
Wildfire. “Tell me, do you have someone in mind to
target with my necrophidius?” Devaki asked curiously.
“Indeed, I do. I plan to use the necrophidius on Ryo
of Wildfire’s pet tiger,” Wildfire revealed as they
entered a dark room that looked much like a mad
scientist’s laboratory. “Ryo of Wildfire seems to care
a great deal for that beast.” “Perhaps you are right,
Wildfire,” Devaki admitted as he reached for a large
box on a shelf that had holes cut through the lid.

“I’m trusting you to be very careful with my
necrophidius, Wildfire,” Devaki announced as he held
out the box to Wildfire. “The necrophidius is a very
rare creature from a distant planet in another galaxy.
It’s taken me several years to find this specimen. I
won’t be able to find another.” “There’s no need to
worry your head over it, Devaki. I’ll be careful with
it,” Wildfire assured Devaki as he took the box from
him. “You’ll also need to take this with you,” Devaki
added as he handed a small vial holding a dark
red-orange liquid, which was attached to a gold chain,
to Wildfire. “What is this?” Wildfire asked curiously.

“This is an anti-venom that I developed,” Devaki
explained. “As you know, the necrophidius, which is
more commonly known as the death worm, has a very
lethal bite that can kill almost instantly. If
necessary, you can use this antidote as a bargaining
chip in your favor, Wildfire.” Wildfire held up the
vial and stared at the fluid contained within it.
“Thank you, Devaki. This will definitely help me out,”
Wildfire admitted sinisterly. “You better not fail in
your task, Wildfire,” Devaki warned him. “Don’t worry,
Devaki. I won’t,” Wildfire stated coldly as he left
Devaki’s lab with the box and the anti-venom...

“Okay, it’s ten o’clock now,” Ryo muttered to himself
as he checked his watch. “It’s now or never.” Ryo
looked up and started walking down the driveway
leading to Rita’s house. He followed the path leading
from the driveway to the front door. As soon as he
reached the front door, Ryo pressed the doorbell with
his finger. “Hold on a minute! I’ll be right there!”
Ryo heard Rita shout from inside the house. A few
moments later, Rita opened the front door. She was
dressed in a red T-shirt, black stretch pants, red
socks, and black sneakers. “You’re right on time, Ryo.
Why don’t you come in?” Rita asked.

“Sure. Thanks, Rita,” Ryo replied as he entered the
house. As the two walked into the living room, they
saw Rita’s grandfather sitting on the couch, tying his
shoes on. “Grandpa, Ryo’s here,” Rita announced. “You
remember him, don’t you?” “Of course, I do. Good
morning, Ryo,” Mr. Niitsu greeted as he stood up from
the couch and grabbed his jacket. “Hey, Mr. Niitsu,”
Ryo greeted. “I would stay and supervise you two, but
a good friend of mine has recently come out of the
hospital and I promised to come visit him,” Mr. Niitsu
revealed. “There’s no need for that, Grandpa,” Rita
admitted.

“Fine, then,” Mr. Niitsu replied as he put on his
jacket and looked up at Ryo. “Now listen carefully,
Ryo. Rita will explain to you everything that needs to
be done,” Mr. Niitsu explained. “Also, I don’t want to
find out that you’ve been making moves on my
granddaughter while I was gone.” “Grandpa!” Rita
complained as her face became flustered. “Ryo’s not
like that!” “I was just joking, Rita,” Mr. Niitsu
confessed as he headed to the front door. “Goodbye.”
“Goodbye, Grandpa! See you later!” Rita shouted as she
waved to her grandfather. Mr. Niitsu waved back to her
before he got into his car and pulled out of the
driveway.

“We should get started now, Ryo,” Rita suggested as
she tied her long black hair up in a ponytail. “All
right, Rita. What do we do first?” Ryo asked. “I’ll
show you. Follow me,” Rita instructed as she led Ryo
out of the house. After closing the door behind them,
Rita walked towards a small shed next to the house,
followed by Ryo. She opened the door to the shed,
walked inside, and pushed out a small gas-powered
lawnmower. Rita went back in the shed and came back
out with two pairs of work gloves. “Here, Ryo, put
these on. They should fit you,” Rita instructed as she
handed a pair of work gloves to Ryo. “Thanks, Rita,”
Ryo replied.

As Ryo put on his work gloves, Rita, who had already
put hers on, brought out two rakes and a box of black
garbage bags from the shed. “Huh?” Ryo gasped as he
turned around and stared suspiciously at some large
bushes bordering the front yard. “What is it, Ryo?
What’s wrong?” Rita asked curiously when she noticed
Ryo staring at the bushes. “I heard something moving
from those bushes,” Ryo whispered as he kept his eyes
on the bushes. Both Ryo and Rita gasped when they
suddenly heard a twig snap. “Stay here,” Ryo
instructed Rita as he slowly walked over to the
bushes. “Be careful, Ryo,” Rita whispered with concern
as she watched Ryo cautiously approach the bushes. Ryo
stopped walking when he saw something big moving
behind the bushes.

“Come out and show yourself!” Ryo shouted as he stood
ready to face whatever was hiding behind the bushes.
He was surprised to hear a familiar growl as a large
white tiger passed through the bushes. “White Blaze!”
Ryo exclaimed out of surprise as he brought down his
fists. “Phew! That’s a relief!” Rita admitted as she
let out a big sigh of relief. “He must have followed
me here,” Ryo told Rita before he looked back at his
pet tiger. “White Blaze, I told you to stay home,” Ryo
scolded White Blaze. “Now, go back!” White Blaze
roared a bit as he shook his head in protest.

“Come on, White Blaze!” Ryo muttered a bit
impatiently. “Ryo, you don’t need to send White Blaze
home,” Rita announced as she approached Ryo and White
Blaze. “I don’t mind if he stays here with us. I’m
sure White Blaze won’t get in the way of our work.”
“Well…okay,” Ryo reluctantly agreed. White Blaze
purred loudly as he rubbed his head against Rita’s
legs. Rita giggled a bit as she knelt down and petted
White Blaze on the head. “I’m glad that those two get
along so well,” Ryo thought to himself. “Rita’s the
first girl I ever met that didn’t run away screaming
when she first saw White Blaze!” Ryo chuckled softly
to himself.

“What’s so funny, Ryo?” Rita asked curiously as she
stood up. “It’s nothing, Rita,” Ryo replied. “So, what
do we need to do?” “First, we have to mow both the
front and back lawn,” Rita explained. “After that, we
have to rake up all the clippings, bag them in the
garbage bags, and put them next to the shed for now.
The garbage trucks don’t come by until Monday, so I’ll
take care of those bags tomorrow night.” “Okay, if you
say so,” Ryo replied as he approached the lawnmower
that Rita brought out of the shed. He pulled the
handle out, which instantly brought the engine roaring
to life...

“I can’t believe that we’re almost done,” Rita
admitted as she raked the remaining grass clippings
into a pile. “Yeah. Three hours went by really fast,”
Ryo added as he shoved one last handful of grass
clippings in the garbage bag he was holding. He packed
the grass clippings down in the bag with his hands
until he couldn’t push them down any further. “I think
we have room in here for that last pile, Rita,” Ryo
announced. “That’s good. Bring the bag over here,
Ryo,” Rita instructed as she laid the rake down on the
ground. “You got it,” Ryo replied as he picked up the
garbage bag and carried it over to where Rita was
standing.

As Ryo and Rita picked up the grass clippings and
shoved them into the bag, Rita confessed, “Thanks
again, Ryo, for helping me out today.” “No problem,
Rita,” Ryo replied. “It wasn’t like I had any plans
today.” “That’s a bit of a surprise,” Rita admitted.
“You’re usually doing something with one of your
friends during the weekend.” “I am doing something
with one of my friends right now,” Ryo pointed out.
“You know what I mean, Ryo,” Rita remarked with a
quick laugh. “You could be hanging out with Sage, Cye,
Kento, and Rowen instead of helping me do yard work.”

“Well, first of all, the guys all have plans this
weekend,” Ryo explained. “Sage has to help his father
teach classes at the dojo, Cye already made plans with
Clara, Kento’s cramming for a Spanish test on Monday,
and Rowen’s finishing up his Criminal Justice project.
And second, I’d rather be doing yard work with you any
day.” Rita felt her face growing hot with
embarrassment as she stared down at the ground. “What
are you embarrassed about, Rita? I’m just telling you
the truth. I like being around you,” Ryo confessed
openly. “Thanks, Ryo,” Rita whispered as she looked
back up at Ryo.

For a moment, Ryo found himself staring into Rita’s
bright brown eyes, but he soon shook it off. “We
should get back to work,” Ryo mumbled out loud. “Yeah,
we should,” Rita reluctantly agreed. The two continued
picking up the grass clippings in complete silence for
a few minutes. “Rita, can I ask you something?” Ryo
asked, breaking the awkward silence. “Yes, Ryo?” Rita
asked curiously. “Do you, umm...have any plans
tomorrow?” Ryo asked a bit hesitantly. “Other than
putting out the garbage tomorrow night...no, I don’t,”
Rita replied. “Do you think that maybe, if you’re
interested, you and I could go see a movie or
something?” Ryo asked.

Rita sat there in complete silence for a few moments,
which made Ryo feel a bit nervous. “Ryo, are you
asking me out on a date?” Rita asked with a hint of
excitement in her voice. Ryo found himself at a loss
of words as he once again looked into Rita’s eyes, as
though he was searching for the answer to her question
in them. Before he could say anything, Ryo and Rita
were startled when White Blaze suddenly ran past them,
knocking the open bag of grass clippings over. Ryo and
Rita quickly covered their heads with their arms as
some of the grass clippings rained on top of them.

“White Blaze!” Ryo shouted angrily as he turned around
to see what caused his pet tiger to act like that. He
shook his head in disappointment when he saw the large
brown rabbit in the yard, which was practically
taunting White Blaze to chase it. “Rita, are you
okay?” Ryo asked, turning his attention back to Rita.
“Yeah, I’m okay,” Rita replied as she brought down her
arms. “What’s up with White Blaze?” “He’s just chasing
some rabbit,” Ryo replied. When he looked at Rita, Ryo
laughed a little bit. “What’s so funny?” Rita asked
curiously. “You got some grass in your hair,” Ryo
remarked. “So do you, Ryo,” Rita pointed out.

Ryo took off his gloves and patted the top of his head
with his bare hand. He could feel the blades of grass
poking out through his thick black hair. “Yeah, I
guess I do,” Ryo admitted. He quickly shook out his
hair with his hands, knocking out all the grass that
got caught in it. Rita undid her ponytail and shook
her head back and forth, letting her long black hair
loose. “Ryo, did I get all of the grass out of my
hair?” Rita asked as she bowed her head down slightly.
Ryo looked up and carefully examined Rita’s hair.
“Looks like you got a few more pieces stuck in your
bangs,” Ryo revealed.

“I’ll get them,” Rita replied as she took off her work
gloves. “Don’t worry about it, Rita. I’ll get them out
for you,” Ryo insisted. “Thanks, Ryo,” Rita admitted
as she kept her head bowed down. Ryo carefully ran his
fingers through Rita’s bangs, picking out the blades
of grass one by one. He soon found himself running his
fingers through Rita’s hair and gently sliding his
hand down her cheek. “Ryo, what are you doing?” Rita
asked, bringing Ryo back to reality. “Oh, umm...I’m
sorry, Rita,” Ryo stuttered as he started to pull his
hand away from Rita’s face.

To Ryo’s surprise, Rita took his hand into her own.
She edged closer to Ryo and kissed him square on the
lips. Ryo was a bit startled at first, but he soon
participated in the kiss. When Rita pulled away from
him, Ryo slowly opened his eyes and asked curiously,
“What was that for, Rita?” “I’m sorry about that, Ryo.
It’s just…it’s just that I’ve been wanting to do that
ever since I met you,” Rita reluctantly admitted as
her cheeks turned red from embarrassment. “You don’t
need to say that, Rita,” Ryo replied with a small
smile. “Truth is, I feel the same way about you.”
“Really? You do?” Rita asked out of surprise. Ryo
nodded his head in approval. “Even when I was blind?”
Rita prodded.

“Of course,” Ryo whispered as he gently slid his hand
up the side of Rita’s face into her long black hair.
“It’s like I told you before, Rita: I think you’re a
beautiful girl, both inside and outside.” Rita giggled
slightly as she looked into Ryo’s blue eyes. Ryo
leaned in closer to Rita and kissed her passionately
on the lips. Rita responded by kissing Ryo back and
sliding her hands around his neck. A few yards away
from them, White Blaze was lying on the freshly cut
grass, his large brown eyes gazing at the couple.
Suddenly, White Blaze’s ears perked up when he heard
some rustling noises from behind the bushes. The
massive white tiger let out a loud roar as he quickly
got up and turned toward the bushes.

Startled by White Blaze’s unexpected roar, Ryo and
Rita pulled away from each other and looked up at
Ryo’s pet tiger. “What is White Blaze doing?” Rita
asked curiously. “He’s probably trying to scare that
rabbit out of hiding,” Ryo suggested. “I don’t know
about this, Ryo. Something doesn’t feel right,” Rita
hesitantly revealed. “I’ll check it out,” Ryo
announced as he stood up and walked over to White
Blaze, who was still facing the bushes. “What is it,
White Blaze?” Ryo asked. White Blaze let out a low
growl from deep within his throat as he stared at
something moving within the bushes.

“What the heck is that?” Ryo asked himself when he saw
the strange creature slithering towards him and White
Blaze. Its long snake-like body was completely made
out of bleached white bones. The creature’s head was a
bleached human skull with a pair of long fangs and
milky white eyes. As the snake-like creature slithered
closer to Ryo and White Blaze, it surprisingly made no
noise at all. “Ahh! What is that thing, Ryo?” Rita
gasped loudly when she saw the strange creature.
“Rita, stay back!” Ryo warned her. Suddenly, the
snake-like creature lunged towards White Blaze, who
managed to jump out of the way.

“White Blaze! Whoa!” Ryo shouted when the creature
quickly turned around and struck at him. Ryo jumped
out of the way of the attacking creature, but when he
landed on the ground, his foot slipped on a rock and
Ryo fell down on his back. As Ryo struggled to sit up,
he heard Rita shout, “Ryo, look out!” Ryo looked up
and gasped when he saw the snake-like creature a few
feet away from him, curled up in an attack position.
Without warning, the snake-like creature lunged at
Ryo, its long fangs glistening in the sunlight. “RYO!”
Rita shouted loudly.

Knowing that he couldn’t do anything to save himself
in time, Ryo closed his eyes, soon expecting to feel
the creature’s fangs penetrating through his flesh.
After a few agonizing moments passed and nothing
happened, Ryo opened his eyes and gasped loudly at the
sight in front of him. Rita was standing in front of
him, crying out of pain as the creature’s long fangs
sank deeper into her arm. “Rita!” Ryo shouted as he
quickly stood up and grabbed the snake-like creature
by the head. As carefully and as quickly as he could,
Ryo pulled the creature off of Rita’s arm and threw it
into the woods on the opposite side of the street.

“Ryo, I don’t feel so good,” Rita whispered a bit
weakly as she struggled to stand up. Unfortunately,
Rita lost feeling in both of her legs and started to
sway. “I got you, Rita!” Ryo shouted as he caught Rita
before she could hit the ground. “Why did you do
that?” Ryo asked. “I had to do it, Ryo. I had to save
you,” Rita whispered. “But why?” Ryo prodded, trying
to fight back the tears starting to form in his eyes.
“Because I love you, Ryo,” Rita whispered as tears
started to slowly trickle down her face. “I love you,
too, Rita,” Ryo whispered. “I’m not going to lose you,
not now, not ever!”

Suddenly, an evil snicker broke the silence. “Who’s
there?” Ryo demanded as he looked around. “That’s a
touching little speech you made there, Ryo of
Wildfire, but that won’t save your kokoro friend!” a
familiar voice admitted sinisterly. “Wildfire!” Ryo
gasped loudly. As though on cue, Wildfire, who was
wearing his red and dark gray sub-armor, jumped out
from behind the bushes and landed a few feet away from
Ryo, Rita, and White Blaze. “I should have known it
was you, Wildfire!” Ryo muttered angrily. “Only you
would do something so twisted.” “Why, thank you for
noticing!” Wildfire admitted with a smirk, who had one
arm concealed behind his back. “I see that the
necrophidius has done its job.”

“What are you talking about?” Ryo asked. “Does this
look familiar, Ryo of Wildfire?” Wildfire asked as he
held out his hand that was hidden behind his back
earlier. Ryo gasped when he recognized the bony
snake-like creature, which was squirming about as it
dangled from Wildfire’s hand. “That’s the same thing
that attacked Rita!” “Of course, it is,” Wildfire
boasted as he put the necrophidius in a box next to
him and covered it with the lid. As soon as Wildfire
put on the lid, the box mysteriously vanished without
a trace. “The necrophidius has a deadly bite, Ryo of
Wildfire. I doubt that your friend will survive,”
Wildfire continued.

“Why should I believe you, Wildfire?” Ryo asked
suspiciously. “I guess you have a good point there,
Ryo of Wildfire,” Wildfire admitted. “If you don’t
believe what you hear from me, then believe what you
see with your own eyes!” Ryo looked down and gasped
when he saw that Rita was getting worse. The color had
drained from her face and body, and the area around
the bite was swelling up and turning black, blue, and
green. “Oh, no! Rita!” Ryo shouted. “As you can see
for yourself, Ryo of Wildfire, the necrophidius’
poison is already taking effect,” Wildfire explained
with a sinister smirk. “If that girl didn’t possess
the kokoro’s spirit, she would already be dead. Now do
you believe me, Ryo of Wildfire?”

“Looks like I don’t have a choice,” Ryo muttered
angrily through clenched teeth. “You do have a chance
to save her,” Wildfire revealed as he took out a gold
chain with a small vial attached to it. “This vial
contains the only antidote to the necrophidius’ venom.
If you want it, you’ll have to fight me for it.”
“Bring it on!” Ryo shouted. “Not here, Ryo of
Wildfire. We shall battle in Mt. Fuji,” Wildfire
announced before he teleported away. “I would hurry if
I were you!” Wildfire’s voice echoed. “At the rate the
venom is traveling through that girl’s body, she won’t
live beyond sunset! I’ll be waiting for you! Ha, ha,
ha, ha!”

White Blaze let out a loud roar as he looked up at
Ryo. “I know, White Blaze, but I have no choice but to
believe that Wildfire’s telling the truth about that
antidote,” Ryo muttered out loud as he looked down at
Rita, who was now unconscious as a result of the venom
in her body. “I have to get it for Rita, or she’ll
die. But I can’t bring her with me. What I need now is
someone to keep an eye on Rita until I get back with
the antidote, someone that I can trust. Come on, White
Blaze.” Ryo gently scooped up the unconscious girl in
his arms and carried her to the house, followed by
White Blaze...

“You’re going to be okay, Rita,” Ryo whispered as he
wiped the sweat off of Rita’s forehead with a damp
washcloth. “Just hang in there.” Suddenly, there was a
loud knock at the door. Ryo quickly got up, ran to the
door, and opened it. “Thanks for coming so quickly,
Cye,” Ryo admitted as he let his friend inside. “No
problem, Ryo,” Cye replied as he walked over to the
couch, where Rita was lying unconscious. He gasped
slightly when he saw Rita’s condition. Her skin was
very pale, almost pale gray in color, the swelling on
her arm was getting worse, and her entire body was
drenched with sweat.

“What happened to her, Ryo?” Cye asked curiously. “You
didn’t say much over the phone except that Rita got
hurt and Wildfire had something to do with it.” “He
sure did, Cye,” Ryo muttered angrily. “Wildfire had
some creature with him that bit Rita. He said that I
have to fight him at Mt. Fuji for the antidote, or
Rita’s going to die.” “How can you be sure that
Wildfire does possess this antidote?” Cye asked. “What
else can I do, Cye?” Ryo asked. “That creature that
bit Rita, it’s definitely not from this world.” “You
do realize that Wildfire is setting up a trap for you,
and this so-called antidote is just bait to lure you
in,” Cye pointed out.

“That’s just a risk I’ll have to take, Cye,” Ryo
replied. “There’s no way I’m going to let Rita die
because of me.” “I know I can’t stop you from going
after Wildfire, so good luck to you, Ryo, and be
careful,” Cye warned Ryo. “No telling what dirty
tricks he has planned for you.” “You got it, Cye,” Ryo
replied as he headed for the door, followed by White
Blaze. “Take care of Rita for me until I get back with
that antidote.” “Don’t worry about Rita. She’s in good
hands,” Cye admitted. Ryo nodded as he and White Blaze
left the house. Ryo quickly transformed into his
sub-armor and ran down the street, followed by his
loyal pet tiger...

“That’s right, Ryo of Wildfire. Come right into my
trap,” Wildfire muttered sinisterly to himself as he
paced back and forth inside of Mt. Fuji, wearing his
full battle armor. He chuckled evilly to himself as he
pulled out his katanas in anticipation of the upcoming
battle. “Wildfire, has he arrived yet?” he heard
Dulcea ask telepathically. “Not yet, Lady Dulcea, but
don’t worry. Ryo of Wildfire will show,” Wildfire
reassured Dulcea telepathically. “How can you be so
certain that he’ll even show up?” “Because Ryo of
Wildfire needs this antidote I have to save his kokoro
friend. The only way he can get it is through me.” “He
better show, Wildfire, or you will pay dearly for the
failure of your plan,” Dulcea warned Wildfire. “I
won’t fail, Lady Dulcea,” Wildfire proclaimed.

“Hey, ugly! Up here!” Wildfire heard a familiar voice
shout. He looked up at the top of the volcano and
smiled evilly when he saw Ryo and White Blaze standing
on the rim of Mt. Fuji. “We have some unfinished
business to settle!” Ryo shouted as he jumped into the
volcano, followed by his pet tiger. “It’s about time
you showed up, Ryo of Wildfire!” Wildfire admitted as
Ryo and White Blaze landed a few yards away from him.
“You might as well give me that antidote now,
Wildfire, ‘cause you’re gonna lose!” Ryo proclaimed.
“We’ll just see about that, Ryo of Wildfire,” Wildfire
remarked. “Just one little thing, Ryo of Wildfire. If
that pet tiger of yours interferes, you can kiss the
antidote goodbye! Agreed?”

“Agreed,” Ryo replied. “Armor of Wildfire! DAO JIN!”
As soon as Ryo finished transforming into his full
armor, he withdrew his katanas and charged towards
Wildfire. As Ryo swung both of his swords at him,
Wildfire quickly held up his own katanas and blocked
Ryo’s attack. Wildfire then took one of his katanas,
while holding back Ryo’s swords with the other, and
quickly swung it at Ryo. “Whoa!” Ryo gasped as he
instinctively jumped up over Wildfire’s katana. When
Ryo landed back on the ground, he swung his katanas at
Wildfire once again. This time, Ryo succeeded in
knocking Wildfire down to the ground. Wildfire used
his swords to block Ryo’s swords from cutting his
neck.

“You’re gonna pay for what you did to Rita!” Ryo vowed
as he pushed down on his katanas. “If I didn’t know
any better, I’d say you were angry at me, Ryo of
Wildfire,” Wildfire remarked nonchalantly. “You bet I
am,” Ryo muttered angrily. “I was counting on that!”
Wildfire admitted. To Ryo’s surprise, Wildfire kicked
him hard in the stomach, pushing him off of his evil
clone. When Ryo stood back up, he saw Wildfire take
out a chain necklace with a fragment of a black
crystal dangling from it and hold it out towards Ryo,
which started to glow with an eerie dark purple light.
Ryo screamed loudly out of pain as bolts of black
energy waves left his body and became absorbed into
the Dark Crystal fragment.

“What’s going on?” Ryo asked himself as he struggled
to lift up his head. He gasped when he saw the Black
Chi energy waves leaving his body, which were being
absorbed into Wildfire’s Dark Crystal fragment. “It’s
like what Sage warned us about. Wildfire intended to
get me angry to build up my Black Chi so he could
steal it from me. I have to do something to stop him,
or Wildfire’s going to get away with my Black Chi and
the antidote that Rita needs.” Ryo’s thoughts went to
Rita and his expression became grim. “I have to fight
this, for Rita!” Ryo thought to himself as he started
to slowly stand up.

“What’s this?” Wildfire asked when he saw Ryo slowly
getting up. “That can’t be! Ryo of Wildfire shouldn’t
be able to get up at all!” Wildfire looked down at his
Dark Crystal fragment and gasped when the crystal
suddenly stopped glowing. “What’s wrong with this
stupid thing?” Wildfire asked as he tapped the crystal
repeatedly with his finger. He looked up at Ryo, who
was now standing up and withdrawing his katanas. “So,
you managed to channel your anger, Ryo of Wildfire!”
Wildfire realized. “Yeah, that’s right, ugly!” Ryo
admitted as he joined his katanas together. “You’re
going down, Wildfire! FLARE UP NOW!”

Wildfire quickly held up his swords in an attempt to
block the blast of white light heading towards him.
Unfortunately, for him, Ryo’s powerful attack collided
with him hard, causing Wildfire to drop his katanas.
The powerful blast of white energy knocked Wildfire
against the inner wall of Mt. Fuji, leaving a large
indentation in the rock wall. When the white energy
eventually faded away, Wildfire slid down the wall and
landed on the ground in an exhausted pile. “You lost
this battle, Wildfire!” Ryo announced as he cautiously
approached his evil clone. “Hand over that antidote
now!”

Wildfire narrowed his sinister red eyes at Ryo as he
pulled out the small vial by its the gold chain. “If
you want it so badly, Ryo of Wildfire, then go catch
it!” Wildfire shouted as he threw the vial high over
Ryo’s head. “NO!” Ryo shouted as he ran after the
vial, which was plummeting into the lava pit. Before
the vial could land into the boiling hot lava, White
Blaze jumped across the pool of liquid rock and caught
the vial by its gold chain in his mouth. “Nice catch,
White Blaze!” Ryo cheered as his pet tiger joined him
on the rocky ledge with the vial dangling from his
mouth.

“Now to take care of...” Ryo started as he turned
around to face Wildfire. “What?” Ryo gasped when he
saw no one standing behind him. “I could have sworn he
was right there,” Ryo muttered thoughtfully as he
looked around the volcano for any sign of his evil
clone. “That coward! Wildfire threw the vial into the
lava pool just so he could escape!” White Blaze
growled a little bit as he nudged his owner. “Guess
there’s nothing we can do about it now,” Ryo
reluctantly admitted as he put away his katanas. “Come
on, White Blaze. We better get back to Rita.” White
Blaze roared in agreement as he and Ryo made their way
out of Mt. Fuji...

“What could be taking him so long?” Dulcea asked a bit
impatiently. She was standing in the Dark Crystal
room, along with her assistant, Devaki. “Do not worry,
Lady Dulcea,” Devaki replied. “Wildfire will come.
Just be patient.” At that very moment, Wildfire, who
was back in his sub-armor, teleported into the Dark
Crystal room. “Sorry about the delay, Lady Dulcea,”
Wildfire apologized as he handed his necklace over to
Devaki. Devaki quickly inserted the Dark Crystal
fragment into his small black device and pressed the
button, which released the Black Chi that Wildfire
collected. The black energy waves were instantly
absorbed into four Dark Crystals.

“Excellent job, Wildfire,” Dulcea admitted. “You’ve
done very well.” “Thank you, Lady Dulcea,” Wildfire
replied as he bowed to Dulcea. “I had a chance to get
rid of Ryo of Wildfire and the kokoro of fire once and
for all, but I failed.” “That’s not important at the
moment, Wildfire,” Dulcea revealed. “Our main concern
now is to collect the Black Chi energy we need.” “But
what about the Ronin Warriors, Lady Dulcea?” Devaki
asked curiously. “They will do anything they can to
stop us, along with their kokoro allies.” “Let them
try and stop us, Devaki! When I have enough Black Chi
to take over this miserable planet, not even the Ronin
Warriors and the kokoro will be able to stop me!”
Dulcea proclaimed...

“I hope Ryo gets back soon with that antidote,” Cye
muttered to himself as he wiped the sweat off of
Rita’s forehead and arms with the washcloth. As Cye
rung the sweat from the washcloth into a bowl, he
heard a rapid knocking at the door. “Cye, open up!
It’s me, Ryo!” Ryo shouted from outside. Cye quickly
got up and opened the door, letting Ryo, who was back
in his normal clothes, and White Blaze in the house.
“How’s Rita doing, Cye?” Ryo asked as he ran over to
the couch, where Rita was still lying unconscious.
“Not good, Ryo. I don’t know how much longer she’ll
last,” Cye reluctantly revealed. “Did you get the
antidote?” “Right here,” Ryo replied as he pulled out
the vial and chain from his pocket.

“We better hurry and give it to her,” Cye suggested as
he knelt down next to the couch and gently lifted
Rita’s head. Ryo pulled the cork out of the vial and
poured some of the dark red-orange liquid into Rita’s
mouth. “Let’s just hope this works,” Cye whispered as
he laid Rita’s head back down. The two teenage boys
and White Blaze waited patiently with their eyes
focused on Rita, hoping to see any sign that the
antidote was working. After a couple of minutes passed
with no reaction from Rita, Cye reluctantly admitted,
“I think we’re too late, Ryo. Rita might be dead.”
“No!” Ryo whispered sadly as he closed his eyes.

“What?” Cye gasped slightly when he noticed something
happening with Rita’s arm. “Ryo, look at this! I think
the antidote’s working!” Ryo quickly opened his eyes
and looked up at Rita’s arm. He gasped when he saw
that the swelling was steadily shrinking and the
unnatural colors were fading away. Ryo and Cye watched
as the bite mark on Rita’s arm completely disappeared
and color returned to her face and body. A few moments
later, Rita slowly opened her eyes and looked up at
Ryo and Cye. “Rita! How are you feeling?” Ryo asked
curiously. “All right, I think,” Rita whispered as she
slowly sat up on the couch. “What are you doing here,
Cye?”

“Ryo had to go run a little errand and he asked me to
watch you until he came back,” Cye replied. “Don’t you
remember what happened to you, Rita?” Ryo asked.
“Yeah, I do. That weird-looking creature bit me on my
arm and…What happened?” Rita asked as she looked at
her arm in surprise. “The bite mark, it’s gone!”
“Looks like that antidote did more than flush the
venom out of your system,” Cye pointed out. “It
completely healed you.” “I guess that’s kind of a good
thing. I have no idea how I could have explained that
bite mark to my grandfather,” Rita admitted.

“Thanks a lot, Cye, for coming here,” Ryo told Cye.
“There’s no need to thank me, Ryo. I would have helped
out in a heartbeat. Excuse me, but I have to be going
now. Clara’s waiting for me,” Cye announced as he
stood up. “This didn’t interrupt anything going on
between you and Clara, did it?” Rita asked curiously.
“No, not at all. Clara understands why I was going to
be late for our date. Besides, dating can wait,
especially when one of my friends’ life is on the
line,” Cye pointed out. “Goodbye, Cye, and thanks
again for your help,” Ryo admitted. “Goodbye, Ryo.
Hope you’re feeling better soon, Rita,” Cye added
before he left Rita’s house.

“You better go, too, Ryo,” Rita reluctantly replied as
she stood up from the couch. “If my grandfather comes
home and sees that you’re still here, he’ll make sure
that the only time we’ll see each other is at school.”
“You sure you don’t want me to stay for a while,
Rita?” Ryo asked curiously as he stood up as well.
“Don’t worry about me, Ryo. I’m fine, just a little
lightheaded,” Rita tried to convince him.
“Well...okay,” Ryo hesitantly replied as he started to
head for the door, followed by White Blaze. Before he
could open the door, Rita shouted, “Wait, Ryo!”

“What is it, Rita?” Ryo asked as he turned around to
face Rita. “I was wondering...are we still going out
tomorrow?” Rita asked curiously. “Sure, definitely!”
Ryo admitted. “That is, if you’re still up to it,
Rita.” “No question about that, Ryo,” Rita replied
with a small smile. “Okay, great. I’ll pick you up
around eleven. That sound good?” Ryo asked. “Works for
me,” Rita admitted. “All right. I’ll see you tomorrow,
Rita. Goodbye,” Ryo replied. “Goodbye, Ryo,” Rita
replied. She stepped up to Ryo and gave him a quick
kiss on the lips before she headed back inside and
closed the door. “Come on, boy. Let’s go home,” Ryo
told White Blaze. Ryo smiled a bit to himself as he
and his pet tiger walked down the driveway...TO BE
CONTINUED