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This is just a quick reminder for everyone to vote for their choice of the character to be killed. Please email me and let me know. If I don't get enough feedback I mind have to resort to Eany Meany Miney Moe.

    Anubis shifted his body slightly on the living room couch. His spirit body, plagued with the physical torments which were reminders of his previous battle with the Spirit Hunter, was no help to his already troubled mind. Though his eyes were closed, his attempts to fall asleep were nothing short of futile.
    He rolled over one more time.
    With no warning at all, a war cry broke through the silence.
    "Powers of the Netherworld! Seize this rebel spirit!"
    And by the time Anubis had opened his eyes and gained full awareness of his predicament, it was too late. Enshrouded in a mystic cloud of blue aura, Anubis found himself a prisoner. He struck at the energy field before him, and was meet with such an excruciating rush of pain that he deemed it unwise to further test the strength of the aura.
    "Spirit Hunter."
    The warrior, clad in robe and all, appeared before him as the last syllable of his name fell through the dull and grim atmosphere. He looked down at him with a mocking tone.
    "Anubis, you didn't really think that I would be incapable of tracking you down did you?"
    "I suppose I had hoped otherwise..."
    With one prompt gesture of the Spirit Hunter's hand, energy billowed through the field. Anubis could only groaned as agony crushed his senses.
    "I can locate any one of 8 different types of spirits across the 15 Mortal Planes, 8 dimensions, and 23 Psyche Realms. I suggest you not insult me by thinking differently."
    The defeated warlord spoke up, his voice hoarse and choking in his hour of downfall. "So, you have come to take me back to my proper place?"
    The Spirit Hunter, surprisingly, allowed the energy hold, in which Anubis was imprisoned, to disperse. In a curious, if not suspicious manner, Anubis searched his face with interrogating eyes. But the spirit's ice cold demeanor revealed no emotions.
    "Though my duty is to the dead, I take no joy in the eradication of an entire world." He turned away from Anubis. "I'll give you one week's time to help the Ronins save Earth. I cannot hold off questioning from the Elder Council for any longer." He began walking away. "Use this time wisely Anubis. For at the end of that period, I will come for you again. And then you will not be spared."
    In a burst of light, the Spirit Hunter was gone just as promptly as he had come.
    The stunned but jubilant warlord could only choke out a barely perceptible "thank you" as his stare lingered in the space the Spirit Hunter had previously occupied.
    Yes. He must begin right away. There was much to be done. There was much to be discovered.
    Kayura looked to them questioningly. "Did you find Anubis?"
    They all shook their heads.
    "Where is he?"
    Dais scratched his head, "If only I got down here faster. I heard all the noise and commotion from upstairs, but when I arrive, he was already gone."
    "Maybe he was captured by the Spirit H..."
    "NO! Don't say it! Don't even think it!" Kayura snapped at Cale's suggestion.
    There was a small pause of silence before Sekhmet asked, "So what do we do now?"
    They felt strangely empty and aimless without Anubis's directions.
    "Be brave," Kayura heard the echo in her head.
    "We'll just have to fend for our selves," she looked around at the others. "The best thing I can think of right now is returning to the park."
    "Yes, hopefully we'll find something we missed before."
    Darkness was dissolving away gradually. Rich, but faint, warm hues of pink and yellow inched over the distant horizon, scattering streaks of color across the early morning sky.
    Mulan slowed Khan's gallop to a trot. The others behind her followed her lead.
    "What is it, Mulan?" Ryo asked. "Are we stopping?"
    Sage yawned. "We have been riding almost 2 hours straight. I, not to mention the horses, can certainly use another rest."
    Shang caught up with the others. "If we keep going a little further, there should a be a stream with some fresh water. It would be wiser to stop there."
    "Alright," Ryo turned his horse to the direction Shang indicated. "I'm going to scout ahead." With that, he gave his horse a nudge and raced away.
    "Wait," Sage yelled after him. "I'll come with you."
    Mulan and Shang watched as the two dashed off. Then at a slow cantering pace, they started after them. Silence descended over the pair.
    "Ahem..." Nervously clearing his throat, Shang began, "It's...I'm glad your family allowed you to come with me."
    In spite of the grave circumstance in which they were travelling to Xi An, Mulan couldn't help smiling slightly. "Yeah, I'm glad too."
    "Umm...Mulan...So what do you think"
    Mulan flashed him a slightly agitated look. "Shang, I already told you, we are acquaintances. Whatever you heard from Granny..."
    "No, actually that's not what I meant." Pause. "Do him?"
    That caused Mulan to stop short. She stared at Shang, not believing what she heard. "Trust him?" She asked. "Of course I trust him!" She snapped. "You don't?"
    Taken back by such a harsh reaction, Shang put his arms up defensively. "No, no I didn't mean that..." His eyes connected with Mulan's gaze, pleading with an apology. "I just think there's so much we don't know about..."
    "Oh, I can't believe you." Mulan directed Khan away from him in disgust.
    "Mulan! Mulan!" Shang steered his horse to cut in front of Mulan, heading her off. "I'm sorry, alright?"
    Mulan didn't answer, she cast her eyes aside.
    "Mulan." Shang reached closer and gently took one of her hands. "Mulan. I'm sorry. Please don't be angry at me."
    Her features, reshaped from the hostile expression into the soft, shy smile that previously occupied the young, lovely face.
    Shang's heart melted as she turned her head to face him. "Mulan. I've been meaning to tell you something."
    "Well, what is it?"
    Shang felt himself shaking all over, but hoped Mulan wouldn't have noticed. "I..." Deep breath. "Mulan...I...I..."
    Once again, their tender moment was interrupted.
    "Hey guys!"
    The young couple quickly jerked apart, both blushing furiously as their fellow travelling companions rode back towards them from a distance.
    "Hey Mulan, Shang," Ryo yelled to them. "Come on. We found the stream. It's just ahead."
    "Alright, we're coming," still blushing, Mulan smiled and urged Khan to into a gallop towards the two Ronins, leaving Shang behind.
    "Shang," Ryo called to him.
    Shang nudged Yong to follow, but not after throwing an antipathetic look in Ryo's direction.
    Oh yeah. He definitely doesn't like that guy.
    Mia awoke groggily to find that she was still in front of the computer.
    "Umm..." she groaned as she struggled up sit up right.
    For a moment she was puzzled, trying to recall just what happened.
    The computer was still on.
    In deactivating the computer's screen saver, she was greeted by the unwelcomed sight of the coding panel.
    Now she remembers. She must have fallen asleep while trying, quite unsuccessfully at that, to decipher the enigma file.
Mia got up and stretched a little. Just as she was about to sit back down, she heard someone walk in behind her.
    She turned to see Yulie approach with a giant bowl and a spoon.
    "Morning Mia."
    "Morning kido."
    As he approached, she made out that there was some strange kind of mush in the bowl. Something green...something ooze like...something lumpy...
    "I knew you were busy Mia so I made you breakfast." He proudly beamed up at her, holding out the fruits of his labor for her inspection. "It's got all your favorites, veggies, chocolate, tuna..."
    "Thanks Yulie..." Mia hesitantly accepted the bowl and the spoon.
    "Try it," he eagerly urged.
    "Umm..." Mia temporarily set the bowl aside, all the while eyeing the contents nervously. "Yulie, what about you? Have you had breakfast? What are warlords doing?"
    "Everyone left early for the park. And don't worry about me," he stood proudly, "I can take care of my self. I had Chocolate Mint Crunch ice cream for breakfast."
    After heaving a sigh, Mia took Yulie by the hand. "I really have been spending too much time at the computer," she half thought and half grumbled. "Come on little guy, I'm making you some real breakfast."
    The two men stood hesitantly outside the Fa house gate. One of them, a teen in an unusual, chronologically misplaced outfit of clothing, momentarily pulled his cap down tighter. On which was printed an enigma symbol resembling a check mark. He made a careful and relieved note that every strand of his hair was tucked inside and away from view...almost as if hiding something...
    Then cautiously he addressed the other man. A strange man with long, skinny appendages, which instead of clashing, rather complemented his mischieveous and cheerful grin.
    "Yes Rowen?" The man answered with a bemused air as he reached for the door knocker.'
    "Sir, I really appreciate you showing me the way to town, but I really can't impose on your friend's family. After all I'm still a stranger..."
    "Don't worry about it, they love company." Ling banged on the gate a few times. "It wouldn't do to have a guest of the city sleeping on the street. Why, the Han Gi people are known for their hospitality."
    They heard footsteps approaching the gate.
    "Just remember to be polite," Ling whispered.
    With a sudden thundering, the doors flew open to reveal the always cheerful and always enthusiastic Granny Fa. Behind whom Fa Li stood posed with a hostess's feminine dignity, which in the excitement of the moment was obviously forgotten by Granny.
    "Ling, how nice to see you again!" Granny happily gave him a hug.
    Fa Li noticed the nervous young man at Ling's side.
    "Ling, I see you've brought a friend with you?"
    "Yes, madam." With a flamboyant flourish of his spider-like arms, Ling gave her a bow. "I hope it will not be an inconvenience your family."
    "By no means," Fa Li smiled kindly at the fidgeting teen. Then she noticed his clothing. They were impossibly outlandish and something most peculiar indeed... In fact, quite similar to Ryo's attire...
    "Any friend of a friend of Mulan's is a friend of ours," Granny beamed.
    "Thank you Madam Fa." Rowen akwardly bowed his head.
    Suddenly he felt Ling nudge him in the ribs.
    "Remove your hat," he hissed.
    "What?" Rowen sputtered with flabbergasted horror. "My hat?"
    "Don't be rude to the hostess," Ling sound more than a bit irritated. "Take off your hat."
    Rowen gave a weak smile. " hat," he muttered. Then, against every argument of reason, of logic and of emotion screaming through his head, Rowen lifted his hand to the bill of his cap...
    Having retained a firm grip on the cap, he took a deep breath and fearfully closed his eyes. In one last swift movement, he whipped the cap off.
    How to describe the reactions...
    Granny's jaw dropped open as she could only stare at the young man's blazing midnight blue hair. In a frantic attempt to back away, Ling managed only to trip and fall with clumsy grace, or rather, lack there of. And Fa Li...
    Poor Fa Li... She let her mouth open to utter a silent scream before she promptly fainted away.