"…Not a Moment too Soon, without a
minute to spare, you touched my heart,
when I didn't have a prayer. In my darkest
hour, with my world filled with gloom,
your sweet love saved me…"
-Tim McGraw, "Not a Moment too Soon"
Auburn stared at Cye in disbelief. How could he not know? Her thoughts ran rampaging through her head since the shields that contained them had been shattered. Anyone with even the slightest bit of ESP could read her like an open book now. The block she put on his memories must've been stronger than she thought, unless this one he erected himself.
By: Darster and Satori Shiro
"Cye, do you still wear that stone of yours?"
"That's how you got here."
"Cye, concentrate on Sage while you hold the stone and we'll be there." Auburn stated as calmly as she could.
Bird squawked softly, and twitched, then stiffened. Cye looked at her as though she was nuts.
"Please Cye, do it quickly. I don't know how much longer she'll last, and I can't heal her without Sage's help."
"All right, but I have no idea what you are talking about."
He did as she told him and to his surprise, they soon reappeared in front of Mia's house. All of the guys were there wondering where Cye had disappeared to.
Sage was sitting on the porch when he saw Cye and Auburn appear right in front of him. He ran over to them to see what was wrong. He looked at Cye, who was clearly exhausted and then at Auburn. He noticed that she was holding something.
Cye was exhausted but not down. "Sage! You have to help her!"
Sage was on his knees beside them. "Oh my God," he exclaimed as he saw Bird in Auburn's arms. "What happened?"
"She's dying…we have to pull the arrow out…" she explained through her tears of pain.
"What?!" Sage exclaimed. He knew enough that the link between her and the hawk would cause her immense pain if he touched it.
"Sage," she ordered through clenched teeth, "pull the arrow out."
Kento was beside them in a flash, and yanked the arrow out of Bird's chest before Sage could protest. Auburn bit back a scream of pain, and closed her eyes, trying to block the agony. The arrow seemed to be coming right out of her side. As the wound began to bleed profusely, she felt Bird's life force die almost entirely. Sage amplified her healing abilities, and the wound closed, but the hawk still lay motionless in her arms. Auburn sank deep within her psychic barriers and tapped deep into the hawk's subconscious.
: Bird? Come on girl…:
She coaxed the hawk gently, using the last of her healing energies on her. After what seemed like eternity, she heard the hawk's soft cry of pain as she flapped her left wing.
: Let her go. I need to set that wing, it's broken,: Sage's voice echoed distantly. She felt her arms deaden as her body reacted to the mental overload and shut down. She heard Sage's voice echo far away before quiet ensued....
"Catch her…she's going into shock!"
Kento caught Auburn as she slumped. Sage eased Bird onto his arm, and she clucked plaintively at him, and flapped the broken wing uselessly.
"I know girl, we're gonna fix you up."
He touched the wing, and a yellow glow surrounded the hawk. Within instants, she flexed the wing, good as new.
"No flying for a while though," he ordered as she sidled up his arm and looked at Auburn's unconscious form piteously.
"What's going on here?" Ryo demanded as he approached the little group.
"Well…" Cye began, then withered under the Ronin Leader's stare.
Ryo glared at Cye pointedly, then sighed, knowing it was useless. The kid just tried to help. "Forget it, let's just go inside, and try and figure this out before someone gets killed."
"You're more trouble then help, you know that?" Kento said softly to Auburn's limp body as he stood and lifted her into his arms.
"I get the feeling the stakes in this little game just got a whole lot higher," Sage prophesied as they entered the house.
Y r S w T
Dais dropped Cody's unconscious form at Lady Kimiko's feet. "Now, if you will excuse me…" he stated coldly, turning to go.
"Must you be so rough with my toys?" She retorted, noting the numerous cuts and bruises on the boy's face.
"You wanted him, you got him."
"Is he dead?"
"No, but had I been trying, I could have done it easily. He will not wake anytime soon, however."
"One more thing," she ordered the Warlord. "Take him to the dungeon till the master is ready."
Lady Kimiko returned her attention to the battlefield to find the two lone warriors have disappeared. Well, there goes another one of my lieutenants, she thought darkly. Soon I will have to lead these morons myself. The thought of destroying that girl who thwarted them at every turn made a gleeful chill run down her spine, and she cackled gleefully to herself.
Dais glared at her, but dared not disobey. He picked up the boy once more and disappeared into the shadows. He soon reappeared in the dungeon, tossing the body into the same cell as the girl he was with. As an afterthought, he shackled the boy's wrists to the wall. Dais got the feeling that would not contain him long, but that was ShadowRaven's problem, not his. He turned and looked at the girl that was at the far end of the cell and smiled sinisterly at her. The girl squirmed in the chains, trying to get away from him but stopped when he drew closer. Abruptly, he left the dungeon as silently as he came.
Y r S w T
Sekhmet stood in the shadows of the trees watching the Ronins enter the house. So this is where they always run to, he thought darkly. This would be fun. The master did say I could play with them while his 'other' warrior deals with the child.
Positive that none of the Ronins remained outside, Sekhmet slunk out of the shadows and began to case the house. In the backyard, he stumbled across an air vent that attached to a cooling system inside the house. Now, this is promising, he told himself. I guess I'll just wait for the signal. It had been so long since he'd tangled with those annoying teenagers, and he looked forward to tormenting them again. Patience, he told himself as he once more settled into the shadows to wait.
Y r S w T
Rei stirred slightly under the covers. She cracked open an eye to see where she was and found a face looking back at her. A pair of deep blue eyes, framed with a shock of blue hair, stared back down at her. That's nice, she thought and closed her eyes again. EYES?! This made her snap to attention immediately.
"AAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!" she screamed, trying to get away.
Startled silly, Rowen backpedaled right in to the coffee table. White Blaze looked up to see what all the commotion was about. He looked at Rei, back to Rowen, then stood and stretched, crossing over to Rei's side to calm her down.
"Chill, lady, you don't have to scream like that!"
"Don't Do That!!" She wailed as she clutched the necklace that was hanging around her neck. She could feel her heart racing around in her chest. "First, this silly tiger and now you!"
"What's all the hollerin' about?"
Kento entered with Auburn in his arms. He crossed to the couch and found another female already there. Rei quickly got out of the way, placing the medallion under her shirt, which didn't go unnoticed by Rowen. She stared curiously at the figure he gently lay on the couch. Rei had not seen her in full armor before, but she knew it was the same girl who had stopped her before. A chill of fear crawled down her spine, and she wondered what could've done that much damage to her. An odd vision of Keiko appeared before her, then vanished.
"What is all the commotion about," Mia asked as she poked her head out of her study. To her surprise, there were more people here then before. A group of boys stood in her living room, one in full armor. Another suit of armor rested on her sofa, unmoving, with a hawk perched protectively on the couch beside it. She grinned as she realized it was the same one from earlier. "So you guys finally made it, huh?" Mia greeted them. Curious, she stepped over to the couch, and touched the Armor of Nature. It disappeared in a swirl of green and white, revealing an unconscious female underneath it. For a moment, Mia swore she looked down at Anubis. The girl looked so much like him they could pass for twins. Mia gazed at the stone around her neck, mentally comparing it to the one in the book, and discerned that they were the same. She possessed the tenth armor. Concerned, Mia placed a hand on Auburn's forehead and the kanji of protection blazed to life, but she never stirred.
"Is she okay?" she asked the group that appeared in her living room.
"I don't know. She's in deep shock, that's all I can tell you," Sage replied.
"Kento, would you take her upstairs? More commotion might disturb her."
"Yes Ma'am." Kento lifted Auburn off the couch and headed up the stairs until Bird's squawk of irritation stopped him.
"What?" he asked, turning back. The hawk shifted back and forth as if ready to take off, then remembered her wing was healing. Kento rolled his eyes, and knelt down beside the couch. "Come on then, you featherbrain. Jeez."
She hopped onto the proffered shoulder contentedly. Kento walked upstairs and laid Auburn gently in one of the spare beds in the expansive house. Her hawk alit gently atop the headboard, and watched over her. God, he thought, whatever hit her hit her hard. So far, she'd been the strong one, protecting them, but now he noticed that she needed some protection of her own. He pulled a chair over beside the bed, and settled into it, laying his kanji orb on the stand beside him. He'd know if the guys needed him, and besides, all they'd do is rehash old news. His stomach rumbled, and he wished he had grabbed a snack before he started this vigil.
Y r S w T
Keiko did her best to squeeze into the shadows of the dank dungeon cell she'd suddenly found herself housed in. The chains didn't give her much maneuverability, but she couldn't stand the stares of the shadowy creatures that haunted this place. Especially those three that she heard called Warlords. They would gaze into the cell and laugh at her, as if sharing some inside joke about her.
She got an odd feeling of something brewing in the air, like a thunderstorm about to break out overhead, and she knew that somehow Rei was involved.
"And now it seems, so am I," she muttered to herself.
She tried to convince herself that she wasn't scared, but deep down, she was. She would've felt a little better even if that strange kid were with her. The last she saw of him, he ran back into the strange battle that surrounded them. Must be love, she noted.
Almost as if reading her thoughts, the white-haired Warlord appeared in front of her and dumped a limp form in the cell across from her, chaining it to the wall. Keiko knew it was him, and wondered if he was dead. Then she wondered if she would be next.
Y r S w T
Rei scrambled for the doorway as more people entered the room. One was that strange girl who looked like Anubis, and the other five were those strange boys that had helped her before. The blue haired one, the same one that protected her previously, eyed her strangely, then became engrossed in the conversation going on between his friends. Then the taller, stronger one carried the girl upstairs, but he didn't come back down. The others didn't notice, relaying information back and forth. She stood in the doorway between the kitchen and living room, listened for a moment, then snuck away. This is just too much, she thought. I'm just going to go back to the orphanage, and take my lumps. Besides, Keiko is probably worried sick about me… The vision appeared to her again, and lingered this time. Rei tried to decipher it's true meaning, but then the apparition disappeared. She shivered, hoping nothing bad had happened to her friend.
Rei took one more step backwards and tumbled head over foot over White Blaze, who suddenly stood behind her. The tiger looked at her, and seemed to grin, as though he'd tripped her deliberately. Rei scrambled to her feet as she looked at the tame tiger in annoyance. "Crazy tiger," she mumbled under her breath.
"Where do you think you're going?" a voice echoed above her. That same kid persisted in following her.
"Stop sneaking around like that?! What is with you people?!" she screamed. "What do you want from me?!"
"If you'd stick around longer than thirty seconds at a time, maybe we could tell you," Rowen replied calmly, removing the second half of Rei's amulet from his pocket.
Y r S w T
"This is not going at all well."
Anubis' voice echoed across the vast plain that Auburn now stood on. Oddly, it looked like a grassy plain, suitable for grazing livestock. Bright sunlight blazed overhead in this odd dreamscape, in direct contrast to the bleak situation she now faced. The ghostly warlord walked up to his descendant's spirit self, and waited for her reply.
"Gee," she replied venomously, refusing to turn and look at him. "What was your first clue?"
"My, aren't we a little bitter," he said dryly.
She turned on him then, that trademark green fire blazing in her eyes. "I have every right to be. My whole life has been nothing but one disaster after another. I devote it to trying to help others, and some thanks I get. This stupid jewel drags me to the other side of the world to fight someone else's battle, I get beat up on by some otherworldly megalomaniac, and my heart is ripped right out of my chest. I didn't ask for all this responsibility, or this jewel, this blasted armor, or this damn honorable streak. I'm sick of it," she admitted finally. "I'm sick of caring."
"So switch sides," he answered flippantly, leaning against the split rail fence that appeared out of nowhere.
"What?" she asked, completely taken aback.
"Worked for me. Then again, I'm dead, what do I know?"
"Have you lost what little bit remains of your ghostly mind?"
Anubis shook his head. "You heard me. Switch sides, double-cross, and turn traitor, Benedict Arnold even. Let ShadowRaven and his cronies win the war. Seems to me that it would solve many of your problems. I don't suppose ShadowRaven cares what happens to Earth when he takes it over, and I don't think he cares that he's just put two innocent lives in the precarious balance…"
She glared at him incredulously, the angry fire in her eyes turning to righteous indignation. "How can you possibly say that? You of all people should know how much Cody means to me. He's my heart, my soul, my strength…the only piece of my life that stays steady. If anything happened to him, I'd…I'd…"
Auburn paused, unable to find the words. "I don't know what I'd do," she said softly.
Anubis grinned. "I do. But you should figure that out for yourself."
Anubis sighed, and pointed her in the right direction. "Well, what ARE you going to do about it?"
Auburn bolted awake, and sat straight up. She pushed her long red hair out of her face as Anubis' words rang inside her mind. He'd reminded her of so many things: her love for Cody, her concern for Mother Earth, and her duty, to protect, even at all costs. So, what was she going to do about the current situation? Definitely not lay here in a shock-induced coma.
His ghost lounged in the corner, watching her make the decision he knew she would. Auburn glared at her ancestor, knowing she'd been duped. He'd gotten her dander up deliberately, knowing that her virtue would kick in eventually. She launched a pillow at his self-satisfied shape, but it bounced harmlessly off the wall and onto the floor.
"I hate you," she grumbled at him.
Kento looked up from his chair and noticed Auburn throwing things and talking into thin air. He was surprised that she was up. He was not expecting her to get up until nightfall. He went over and sat on the edge of the bed. He touched her forehead, but it felt cool to him. She continued to mutter some colorful words toward the corner, and he began to doubt her sanity.
"Are you all right?" he asked her.
"I'm fine," she replied clearly, then muttered something else about meddling spirits and climbed off the bed. She paused long enough for Bird to hop a ride on her shoulder, and scratched the hawk's beak.
:How you doing, girl?:
:Better, thanks to you and Sage.: The link seemed distant, so Auburn cut it, not wanting to overtax herself, or Bird.
She walked out into the hallway and stopped, and Kento nearly ran her over. Instead of walking toward the stairs, she headed toward the back rooms upstairs.
"Where are you going?" Kento asked, following her. She acted very strange, and he didn't want to leave her alone.
"Do you smell that?"
"Oh, right, I forgot…if it's not cheeseburgers, you aren't interested."
"Hey, that's not entirely true! I'm interested in other things!"
"Like what?" she countered.
Auburn rolled her eyes, then stopped again.
"Hey it was a joke! You know, the 'hahaha' kind?"
She ignored Kento's pathetic attempt at humor. "Is there a ventilation system around here somewhere?"
"I have no idea, why?"
"I smell sulfur."
Kento recoiled a bit. "Sulfur, are you sure?"
"No, not really…but something is definitely wrong. I'm noticing an excess of toxins in the air."
"Toxins? As in poisons?" Kento's mind reels as he tries to remember something. Then a bell went off in his head. Toxins-poison, poison-venom, venom…Venom!!
"Sekhmet!" He yelled in realization as he ran down the stairs to tell the others.
: I'll keep looking,: she mind-sent to his retreating form. :It's just barely noticeable to me now, but by the time you guys notice, it could be too late.:
Y r S w T
"Where did you get that?" she snapped at the boy that was standing in front of her. Rei could not believe the way the fates have been playing with her. All these changes were happening so rapidly, that it brought out her crabby side. Unconsciously, she took a step back, away from the young man that stood watching her.
"Hey calm down. I'll tell you." She sure is jumpy, he thought. "Why don't we go into the kitchen and sit down so we can talk." He spoke in the most soothing voice he could muster in hope that she would not take flight again. To his surprise and relief, she entered the kitchen without a fuss. Rowen turned back to the living room to find that Kento, Bird, and Auburn were gone and Ryo, Cye, and Sage were talking on the couch. He gave the three boys a mental tap on the shoulder before he disappeared into the kitchen.
Upon entering, he found Rei sitting at the table with her head resting in her hands. Lying in front of her was the necklace she was wearing when he saw her on the sofa, asleep. For some reason, he couldn't help staring at her. He felt a strange aura was surrounding her, protecting her.
"What are you staring at?" she mumbled, not bothering to look at him.
"You," he said quietly. "I am sorry if I scared you. I didn't mean to. I am just glad that you are okay."
He finally moved from the spot by the door toward the table. "What's your name? You left so suddenly the first time, I didn't get a chance to ask."
Rei's slight smile crept to her lips at the memory. "First tell me what is going on here. After all, you 'Guys' have been following me everywhere. By the way, you three at the door can come in, I won't bite."
The door fell open to reveal three guys doing their best to look preoccupied.
"I guess she caught us guys," Ryo stated as he entered the kitchen, walking over to the table and sitting down. Sage followed suit, but remained quiet, not sure what to say.
Cye entered and immediately started to make dinner. He knew everyone was hungry, especially Kento, and started to pull ingredients out.
Rei watched them with mild interest. She was mostly interested in the young man that was sitting in front of her. He has the answers. She had no idea how she knew this, but she just did.
"I guess a little introduction is in order," Ryo stated, pointing out the obvious.
"No need, I know who you all are," she stated as she looked at each of them. "Cye, Sage, Ryo, and Rowen."
"Yeah, okay, but who are you?"
"My name is Rei Saotome, a teenager no one wanted anything to do with, until now."
She looked up to see four pairs of eyes staring back at her, and continued. "My mom told me once that I was 'special'. I didn't think anything of it at the time because parents always say things like that. Well, I think I finally understand what she was talking about because all this started a couple of years ago. I started to have visions in my sleep. They all started out as bits and pieces but they started to get more elaborate the older I got. This is the reason why I ran. I saw you guys getting hurt because of me."
"You don't have to worry about them, they can take care of themselves." Everyone looked up to see that Mia has entered the conversation. She was standing at the door with the book in her hands.
"Yes I know."
Rei looked back down at the table, her hands unconsciously playing with the necklace.
"Rowen, can I have the other half of the necklace please?" she said suddenly.
"Sure," he pasted it over to her outstretched hand.
"Where did you get it?"
"Well, I found it in my hand after I woke up from the dream with the Phoenix. What is strange is that I remembered that I left it at home, how it got into my pocket is beyond me."
"The Phoenix came to you?!"
"Yeah, she came to all of us."
All of a sudden, Kento came tearing through the kitchen door at high speed. He huffed and puffed a bit before rambling on about toxins and poisons.
"Chill Kento. Slow down and then talk."
Kento looked at his best friend in horror. He could just say one thing and one thing only that he knew everyone would understand.
to be continued…
Greetings all. The next chapter of this story is finally here. I finally go the guys to stop running around in the woods. The next chapter will be used to bring all the loose ends together. If ya have any comments, send them this way, for they are greatly appreciated.