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#121

Belsona continued to look Cross straight in the eyes. It was hard to do. Only two compatible men have been able to ignore her charms completely; General Leh’dor and Cross. However, Leh’dor’s eyes were not like mirrors. Cross’s forced her to see herself in a way she was not comfortable with.

Shelana pointed her phaser right at Darjma as he emerged. The Andorian female never liked her. Her voice was very commanding, “Drop the weapon now or we will shoot.”

Cross continued to stare at Belsona as he raised his hand to stop Shelana, yet also stopping Darjma from acting as well. “Enough, both of you. You did not lie when you said you are not my enemy today. Therefore, as an entitled Ambassador to the United Federation of Planets, I offer the both of you temporary liaison rights in order to discover why the True Way has violated both of our territories. Act accordingly, and you will be safely returned to the Empire at the end of this investigation with knowledge for your people and the honor of a successful mission. Act otherwise, I will give you an honorable death right now. Choose.”

Darjma growled and tried to stare down the admiral. After a few seconds, he turned to Belsona for her decision. She smiled, “Well, how nice of you to offer. I accept, but tell me one thing. Do you offer that for old times sake, or because you want to know what I have learned already?”

“The latter.”

“You Borg son of a bitch,” she thought to herself. Memories of the cave reminded her the Admiral always keeps his emotions in check, but not for the reasons most people assume. She said out loud, “Very well, I shall tell you as we go along.”

Cross turned to Det, “Keep watch on our guests. Ensign, Shelana, you’re now on point.” He continued to set up the formation, “Let’s head to the bridge.”

They did not encounter any more resistance groups on the way, but it was extremely slow going as parts of the ship were disabled. Belsona spoke, “Though I can’t go into the mission before we ended up here, four of us managed to beam on board without their notice. We have been hiding in the bowels of the ship without their knowledge, or so we thought. From what we gathered, they are capturing several ships. We tried to learn more but they started to search the ship from bow to stern. They kept talking about unexplained deaths. I didn’t know what to make of it until…”

Det, the Breen on which her charms would never work, made the Breen sound that meant ‘continue’.

“Well, the captain from the freighter died for no apparent reason. We lost track of the other survivor, but now I fear the worse. Before the battle started, this ship was already on the brick of utter chaos. As I said, something is wrong on this ship.”

Shelana had everyone stop. The group was about to enter a large sub control room. Several Cardassians were busy trying to reroute systems. They could be overheard talking about the four Federation ships nearby and possible intruders. But before Cross signaled to attack, his vision became briefly blurred. The hues to the entire area went blue. The Cardassians opened fired into thin air while screaming in terror. The leader floated off the ground before crashing down. Cross’s Borg implants worked to correct the error, but he swore he saw a figure racing away, one that was not truly humanoid.

He reached up to adjust an implant when Belsona stopped him with her hand, “That was not a malfunction, I just saw that too.”

Cross turned to Volorum, “My implants registered a time variance difference between what we just saw and our now seeing. Any ideas on what that means?”

Volorum raised an eyebrow, “A time variance could cause the affect we just saw, but I need to investigate more before forming a theory as to what is going on.”

Cross nodded, “Stun the remaining Cardassians before they notice us.”

The fire fight was very quick. Volorum headed straight to the former Cardassian captain’s body…


#122

Hachi came up to Cross with a few quick steps. Few would have been able to tell by her demeanor that she was concerned, “Sir, for a second I thought my implant was malfunctioning too. However, it is safe to conclude it wasn’t. However, Sir, what were those things?”

Cross glanced at her, “You saw more than one?” She nodded yes.

Volorum called out to the group, “Sir, this Cardassian doesn’t have any wounds on him. But my readings show that he was dead before we entered this room. If he was attacked by those creatures, we need to be cautious. Any contact may be lethal.”

Belsona spoke out, “Mr. Volorum? Can you tell how he died?”

Volorum glanced to Cross before answering, “I am getting very peculiar readings from my instruments. There really is no reason why he should be dead, yet he is. Admiral, I recommend that we find a Cardissain medkit and perform a more thorough examination of the corpse. The tools I have are very accurate, but do not carry what the Cardassian norm is for every condition. We need to know more about what happened to him.”

Cross nodded and turned to Hachi, “There should be a medical bay not far from here.” The group move forward. Smoked filled the halls and sparks shot out in the dark. Slowly they came to a door way. Shelana and the security officer walked in with Cross close behind. He peered into the room where several medical beds were surrounded by force fields. As he turned towards one area, the area turned blue.

He swore he saw another figure hovering over a corpse. It seemed to look at him before vanishing along with blue hue. Part of his mind told him that he should be scared. However, he was still Borg. But given what he just saw, the human side does have a point that caution is needed.

Det spoke out in a garbled voice, “Is there something wrong with the environmental controls?”

“Sir!” Shelana pointed towards the med bays. Several contained dead Cardassians.

Volorum raised an eyebrow, “It seems the General was not exaggerating. This does appear to be an epidemic.”

Cross went to one of the main panels. He plugged in a device of his own making as Volorum watched. Soon, reports came up on the screen…


#123

Patient record: Patient 785234
Patient admitted with a plasma burn caused by an exploding EPS conduit. The wound was treated using a protoplaser and the patient was admitted to sickbay for sedation and observation.
Patient suffered a neurological event resembling a cerebrovascular accident while sedated and was unable to be resuscitated.
Further examination into the patient’s death is pending an autopsy by the CMO.

Patient record: Patient 864531
Patient admitted with a fractured tibia suffered while in the holodeck. The bone was splinted and treated with a regenerator. Patient returned later complaining of pain in the treated leg as well as an elevated body temperature. Patient was the treated with a
T-cell stimulator to stave off any possible infection. Patient’s condition continued to worsen while they were being continually treated to boost their immune response.
Patient died 6.2 hours after injury.
Due to the extreme rate of deterioration in the patient an infection is unlikely. Fear of a contagious agent being responsible has resulted in quarantine protocols being enacted.
A cause of death has yet to be determined. Corpse will be placed in stasis field pending further examination by the CMO.

Patient record: Patient 904651
Patient admitted with a severe laceration suffered while working in engineering. The wound was closed using an autosuture and the patient was released with instructions to refrain from active duty and to return for another examination in 24 hours.
Patient returned as instructed, complaining of headache, elevated body temperature and nausea. White cell count was elevated, and preliminary analysis showed signs of systemic infection resulting from contamination of wound site.
Patient was held in sickbay for treatment and observation, however, the infection spread rapidly and treatment with standard antibiotics was unsuccessful.
A more rigorous treatment regime was formulated, but also proved unsuccessful. Patient’s vital functions ceased. Cause of death: circulatory system failure resulting from sepsis.
The patient’s body has been prepared for transport back to Cardassia Prime.

Patient record: Patient 962456
Patient admitted complaining of pain and inability to concentrate on assigned duties. Patient was treated with hydrocortilene and told to rest. Psychological evaluation was scheduled.
Patient returned several hours later saying that neither the medication nor rest had helped. Patient was treated with a larger dose of hydrocortilene and admitted to sickbay for observation. During this period patient fell unconscious and was unable to be revived.
An autopsy was conducted using a neuralyte probe to obtain a sample of brain tissue. Examination of the neural tissue did not show any signs of infection or trauma that would result in headaches or fatality. Cause of death remains undetermined pending further investigation.

Patient record: Patient 874512
Patient admitted complaining of extreme nausea and fatigue. Preliminary exams inconclusive. Patient held for overnight observation during which condition worsened. Patient died at 2352 hours.
Quarantine protocols put in place on CMO’s orders, and a level 8 force field is in use to prevent the spread of unknown, possibly infectious agent. Force field may not be disabled without command-level voice authorization.
An autopsy on the patient was conducted using a laser scalpel to open the chest cavity. All organs were intact and showed no signs of trauma or infection which would explain the patient’s demise. Cause of death remains undetermined pending further investigation.


#124

“Volorum, what do you make of these reports?”

“Admiral, none of the initial injuries or symptoms should have resulted in death. From what we saw and by what I am reading here, it is safe to conclude that the figures are responsible for causing all the deaths in these reports and of the Captain. However, I still not conclude on how. However, this medkit should provide us with some clue.” One medical officer outside the force fields seemed to be frozen in fear. His face would never move again.

Darjma growled, “Are you telling me ghosts have been killing everyone on this ship?”

The Vulcan answered in a monotone voice, “Ghosts? There are many far more logical conclusions available before going into such an uneducated fantasy as that.”

Darjma snarled, “Well, if I can see them, I can shoot them. Just tell me, can they bleed?”

Belsona rolled her eyes, “Darjma, let Feddies investigate more before asking such questions. They don’t know yet.” Darjma glared at her slightly but seemed to calm down.

They went back to the Captain’s body. Volorum ran some tests, “The neuralyte probe has determined that this individual died from a radical decrease in neural energy. It’s almost as if he was drained by an outside source. All of the brain’s activity came to a complete stop as its energy was depleted. Sir, there is a great deal of interference being picked up by the tricorder, most likely the result of an energy residue from whatever was used to do this to the Cardassian. Perhaps we can track it down by following the energy trail. There is a science lab across the hall from the medbay. It should have access to the ship’s internal sensors.”

The group quickly moved to the lab. Shelana’s antennae focused on Cross, “Sir, do you have a theory?”

Belsona, Hachi, and almost everyone else looked at him. He thought to himself, “I must work harder on not appearing to have figured things out.” He answered, “I have remembered something that fits this situation, but here are differences. Volorum, do you agree I should scan for Triolic radiation?”

Volorum nodded, “I do, Sir. Though if is the situation here, it raises several questions.”

Cross and Hachi ran the scan. Hachi spoke out, “I’m picking up a large concentration of triolic waves centered around the ship’s bridge, Captain. Triolic waves are harmful to humanoids. We will not be able to be in the area for long, and the Cardassians would be subject to the deleterious effects as well. They would not knowingly use triolic energy. I’d suggest we take a closer look. Whatever is causing the triolic waves probably is reponsible for the deaths of the Cardassians in the mess hall.”

As they left the lab, the blue hue returned. Belsona with everyone else whipped their weapons out as a figured barely visible made a dash towards a closed bulkhead door.

Darjma roared, “It’s headed for the bridge! I will see that it does not make it!” He charged ahead avoiding Det’s grasp and ignoring Belsona’s shouts. Cross motioned to quickly follow the raging Klingon…


#125

The bridge was right before them. Darjma was still charging right as the entire area turned blue. Belsona gasped. There were three of them floating above the ground. Vaguely humanoid bodies the glowed white against the blue hues turned towards her and the others. They had no eyes, nor nose, nor ears. All she saw was a gaping mouth in the middle of their heads. A silent scream entered her head, but it was not hers. They were crying out in joy as new victims had come to them.

“SHUT UP!” Darjma shouted as he fired his disruptor rifle. The first took the full blast and was knocked back. The others moved towards Darjma as he tried to adjust his aim. They were to fast.

Right as they reached out to him, several phaser blasts threw them back. Crosses voice rang out, “Concentrate on the one on the left. These can take several shots.” He aimed his hybrid poloran/anti-proton carbine and fired. The creature shrieked as it vanished in a violent discharge of energy.

One of the security officers covered Darjma’s flank as the group pressed against the remaining two. The creatures retreated onto the bridge. The area remained in a blue hue as the group entered. Hachi called out, “It’s a trap!”

The two were joined by three others. Belsona fired her pistol at the closest one with Shelana. Together, they drove it back it until it vanished in a discharge. A scream from one the security guards caught her attention. Darjma plunged his knife into the creature as it tossed the guard. It only confused the being. That confusion was all that was needed for several blasts to take it out.

Volorum ran to the down guard and called out, “Still alive, but we need to get Cha’var to sick bay quickly. We cannot beam out till the Triolic radiation is reduced.”

Darjma roared, “There is one left!”

Belsona shouted, “Darjma, your blade doesn’t hurt them!” She reached out to stop him but it was too late. Darjma leaped into the air with the knife in hand towards the largest creature so far. It had what appeared to be a winding snake in its hand. In a casual gesture, it raised its hand and stopped Darjma in mid air. Balls of faint light streamed from Darjma as he struggled against the invisible force holding him, but even as everyone fired at the large one, Darjma stopped struggling very quickly.

Shelana threw a small grenade at the creature. The shock caused it to drop Darjma’s corpse. Det fired his cryo beam trying to freeze it, but it barely slowed the creature as it charged towards him. Two blasts impacted the creature from Hachi and Cross. Borg nanoprodes reconfigured to paralyze instead of assimilate attack the creature but to little avail. It only seemed confused an angry.

However, Cross suddenly seemed to know something, “Adjust your weapons to this frequency.” He quickly called out a few instructions as the creature began to take a bead on Belsona. She adjusted her weapon as it charged. “FIRE!”

The creature discharged only a few feet from her.

The blue hue disappeared. Volorum checked Darjma before calling in for a emergency medical transport. Only the guard was beamed away. Belsona walked to Darjma, “Damn you Darjma. I didn’t like you, but I did not want you to die.” She sat down on one of the near by chairs. “Now I lost everyone from the mission. Fate has nasty surprises.”

A comforting hand rested on her shoulder. She looked up expecting one of Cross’s officers to be there, but was surprised to see Cross himself looking down. His gentle squeeze before letting go surprised her more. She forgot how human Cross was under the Borg garb and controlled nature. “Being comforted by a emphasizing Borg, what a strange universe,” she thought.

Volorum spoke out, “There’s no mistaking them now, Admiral. Those were Devidians. What’s curious, though, is that Devidians are out-of-phase with us. Normally we can’t see them without a subspace force field tuned with an extremely sensitive phase discriminator. We didn’t have that. So how are they appearing in our reality?”

Some of the other officers seemed confused. Belsona spoke out, “What are Devidians?”

Cross answered, “A species that the Enterprise D encountered in 2369 at Devidia 2. They are species that exist slightly out of phase with our reality. However, they are highly advance, use technology that relies on Triolic radiation, have time travel technology to an extent, and require neural energy from humans to survive. The crew of the Enterprise stopped them from feeding from a period of Earth’s past. Now, it appears any sentient’s neural energy will do. Also, they are able to pull us into their phase.”

Shelana’s eyes widened with surprise. However, she quickly gained control of herself and said, “I recommend checking the Axon crew’s log entires. Maybe they were doing something that made it easier for the Devidians to exist here. We also need to find out why the Axon was here in the first place.”

Cross nodded and plunged two Borg protrusions into the nearby console…


#126

Belsona stared as the small device quickly began to pull up the officers logs. Even though she still felt distress over the loss of her temporary crew, a part of her still thought, “I could use a device like that.”

Most of the logs were distorted, corrupted, or damaged. A few did come up on the display…

Captain’s Log:
Our mission goes well. The Axon has disabled or destroyed seven enemy ships. I look forward to reporting our successes to our leaders.

The Chief Medical Officer is concerned about casualties. It is his job to be concerned. Mine is to operate this ship at peak efficiency. I have read his report about unexplained deaths and dismissed it. There is always an explanation. He simply hasn’t looked hard enough.

I cannot let his failings disrupt our mission. Gul Madred’s abduction by Starfleet has left a void in our organization. New leaders with the will to use whatever means are necessary to free our people from Federation tyranny are needed.
If all goes well, after this campaign I will be seen as one of those leaders.

Chief Engineer’s Log:
Repairs to the Axon go as expected. Running low on deuterium and warp coils. Wish there was more time between battles to do more than patch critical systems, but time is the most precious commodity there is.

Four crewmen down – one died in battle with Klingon forces, but three others died in accidents. I have spoken to the captain about launching an investigation, but he sees nothing but his dreams of glory and a return to conquest.

Unusual spike in triolic wave energy may be affecting warp core efficiency. Must speak to Driolic and see if his sensor readings have turned up anything unusual.

Letter from Majah arrived today. She and the children are well, but she worries about me. She wants me to leave the True Way and return to Cardassia Prime.

Six months ago, I would have ignored her pleas. Now, though … I miss her, and I see no end to this fighting.
Perhaps she is right.

Science Officer’s Log:
Science Officer’s Log, Stardate 86790.08

My duties on a combat mission are limited, but I was pleased today to have a chance to scan the approaching Driffen’s Comet.

The comet itself has not been a focus of much scientific inquiry, and it last passed through this sector in the late 23rd century. My scans, however, reveal surprising amounts of triolic wave energy emitting from the comet, as well as detectible amount of chroniton particles.

The triolic waves will unfortunately prevent a closer study of the comet. They are quite harmful to humanoid lifeforms, and the captain is loathe to jeopardize our mission for my … curiosity. I have requested the launch of a Class I probe.

The chronitons are of even greater interest. They appear in instances of temporal disturbances, which could mean that this comet has been … or will be … in the presence of a temporal event. Time mechanics are so cumbersome.
I must have more data, but the captain has never had much interest in science. Perhaps I will remind him that chroniton particles are harmful against the aliens who live in the Bajoran wormhole. A potential weapon to use against the Bajorans’ “gods” may be of enough interest to him to divert our course.

Cross seemed to stare at the Science Officer’s log for a few moments as if lost in thought. As the rest of the away team prepared to leave, Cross made a small gesture of dissatisfaction. “The reason why the True Way could only be answered by the Captain. We will have to find that answer latter. Now it appears something even more troubling has entered the war zone.” He turned to Belsona, “I can offer you temporary transportation to a neutral site. The Axon will be towed to a nearby Federation facility for evaluation. I doubt you will want to stay on board.”

She nodded as Cross called out, “We are returning to the ship. I’m sure Starfleet Command would want to know that there are Devidians in the Neutral Zone. These battlegrounds are now their feeding grounds.”

Belsona forgot how slightly different Federation transporters felt compared to Klingon.

In his Captain’s quarters, Cross looked at the face of Drake. “Forget the True Way Admiral, I can get someone else for that. What you saw is far more serious. Are you sure that you found no sign of the Cardassians attempting to open a portal or otherwise bring the Devidians into our phase variance? This is troublesome. There are pieces to the puzzle I don’t have yet. Let me do some digging and I will be in touch.”

“Drake, be sure to review the science officer’s log.”

“That was what I was going to dig into, Admiral. Oh, and Admiral, don’t let the Orion hotty steal any secrets of the Federation. Otherwise, have a good time Admiral.” He added the last part with a winking smile and cutting communication.

Cross slowly blew air through his nose in a long huff. Drake would have known he already took care of security issues regarding his ‘guest’. He owed Belsona, and peace with the Klingon Empire has to start with small steps. A mutual threat of this possible magnitude was a stepping stone. “Have fun?” Cross let another huff out when he realized what Drake implied with that.

Det escorted Belsona to the shuttle bay as Cross left to contact starfleet. Det had been assigned to escort her for her remaining stay. The Breen warrior would not fall for her charms, but was surprisingly friendly for a Breen. She asked, “Why a shuttle?”

She translated the Breen voice, “You can make contact with Klingon forces without being in contact with Rosewolf’s computers. It is completely isolated. We will not be listening in on your conversation. You can arrange where to be picked up.”

Sitting inside the shuttle she looked around the interior of the new Han class ship Cross commanded. “Okay, I am impressed. Smells better than any Klingon ship, though I doubt they party as well one. He really needs to loosen up just a bit more.” She made the connection. K’men of Klingon intelligence answered the hail to her surprise.

“They are allowing you to contact me? Did you manage to seduce the Admiral already?”

“No, he owed me a favor and I was not his enemy today.” She gave her full report from the beginning.

“That is sad to hear about Darjma. They can keep the meat, we will honor his memory as he fought bravely against the Devidian creature. Belsona, here are your new orders. You will help Cross and Starfleet figure out and remove this Devidian threat. As proud as I am of the Empire, these type of things are better left to people more scientific in thinking.”

“K’men, I doubt the Federation will allow me to stay on this ship for long. Even Admiral Cross can’t pull that many strings. He is risking some repercussions for not arresting me right now.”

“The mere fact he isn’t arresting you shows you do have a ‘connection’ with him. As Leh’dor said to you back in Defiri space, Cross tends to like women of your personality, and women tend to like a resistant man. Cross is proof resistance is not futile. Help the Federation get rid of this threat as it can damage the Klingon Empire as well. Do not take any actions against the Federation as it will interfere with your new mission. Am I clear?”

“Understood…” K’men disappeared from the screen. “Why does everyone think I have feelings for that Borg bastard?” The image and feelings of Cross holding her shoulder came to mind. The memories of the cave, the battle to save the hostages, and his face played in memories. She felt something tug in her emotions. “Oh %(#@!”…


#127

I gave up on the Star Trek Story, though if anyone is interested I can continue it.

But, now that Samurai Girls has done gone through completely on VoD, I think I will start my idea for some story after that…

The small room was elegant but simple in Japanese design. It was in part of the Royal Palace that was designed to help relax the nerves, not impress guests. The fact that Yoshihiko Tokugawa and the foreign minister were meeting there would normally be unusual, but the battle against the power of Shiro Amakusa was enough to make anyone want to relax afterwards.

Charles d’Artagnan looked over the two talking. The other two samurai stood next the newly arrived guest. Some guests might have been slightly insulted to be asked to meet in this simple room, but this one did not even seem to notice.

Yoshihiko finally turned his attention back to the guest. His slightly seductive smile crossed his mouth before he said, “Yes, the reports you heard were accurate, my lady, but there is nothing left of darkness that rose in this land. Your concerns, and that of the Paladin Order, are unwarranted.”

The guest was a mid twenties female. Her long brown hair was kept in a tight bun that was held in place by a Roman style helmet. The brass coated breast plate did little to hide her figure, and the near skin tight suit behind the other armor pieces only highlighted that figure. Though only things that did seem out of place were two small rods connected to her belt.

But her face was the only thing Yoshihiko was looking at, much to Charles annoyance. The face had some Japanese traits, but various other traits mixed in. Still, it was a good looking blend of features, and her face alignment was very good. Her expression, however, showed she did not care for idle chatter and she ignored the flirt entirely. Her voice, not soft nor loud, but authoritative, did not give any hints to her feelings as she said, “I do not doubt your word, Lord Shogunate. The Order has sent me only to verify some information that the Black Guard were involved. If the Black Guard had anything to do with the appearance of that rogue Samurai and her dark general, it could mean trouble not only for Japan but the rest of the world.”

The foreign minister scoffed, smirked his withered face and shifted the few remaining hairs on his head, and said, “Do not say you care for the safety of Japan. The Paladin Order is not openly welcomed here, and for good measure. You only work for your own interests.” He stood up and began walking towards the door, “You heard the Shogun’s answer. Leave now. And know this. You did not get an audience with him because of your status with the Order, but because you have a pretty face. But why he is interested in a mutt like you…”

It was a quick flash that Charles barely caught. The guest had grabbed on of the rods from her belt. Light surged from the end, forming the shape of a spear out of light. “So that is a light weapon,” she thought. “They can take the form of any weapon the wielder wants. The energy field makes it have the consistency of any steel weapon, but the wielder has great versatility with it.” The glowing spear tip was near the minister’s neck.

The two samurai looked to Yoshihiko for his order. The minister’s mouth gaped when the Shogun waved them off. The frightened man looked back at the guest with fearful eyes.

She smoothly spoke, “It is unwise to insult a Paladin. Though we take oaths to protect the innocent, we also teach that prejudice, intolerance, and hate are not things that civilized people should take pride in. Sometimes, we teach that lesson through ‘harsh love’.” A quick thrust of the spear made the few remaining hairs on the minister’s head fall to the ground. “My name is Maria Yagyu Kendrick. I have the bloodline of many great families coursing through my veins. It is very impolite and inaccurate to call me, or anyone, a ‘mutt’. Especially in the manner you did so. I suggest you remember your manners and learn to respect all your fellow humans.”

The minister gaped at the sight of his falling hair. Slowly, a mix of rage and fear contorted his face as he began to try to form words.

Yoshihiko interrupted with a powerful laugh. “Paladin Kendrick, that was impressive. Sadly, I do not have time nor the resources to help you right now. However, for giving me such a show today, I think I can arrange someone else to do so.”

The spear vanished instantly. Maria turned to Yoshihiko and bowed her head, “Thank you, Shogun. I am sorry to have bothered you in the first place, but this mission is important. Who is it that can help me?”

He smiled and answered, “Well, now that I heard your full name, it might be a cousin of yours.”

Her only reaction was a raised eyebrow…


#128

The train was not overly filled with riders, but everyone’s head was turned towards one rider. Her golden Roman style armor drew much attention, though she appeared not notice. Her statuesque stance was only broken when one particular man tried to take a peak under her plated skirt. One glance his direction ended that attempt.

After the train stopped at its destination, she walked out onto the platform with a average sized duffel bag strapped to her back. A quick glance around revealed she was expected. To the untrained eye, nothing seemed out of the ordinary, but she was not surprised when several young females in ninja outfits appeared. However, the one in the maid outfit was unexpected in attire.

Hanzo Hattori smiled as she approached Maria. She shifted her glasses for a better view. She thought to herself, “Definitely Western tech. Two light weapons, integrated circuit armor, good muscle tone, and…” She frowned, “Sensor jammers. I can’t tell her power level, nor her measurements.” She looked at Maria without the aid of technology. “Still, she might take Muneakira’s attention off Sen Tokugawa.”

Hanzo spoke out loud. “Ms. Kendrick. I am Hanzo Hattori, head of the Student Council police. I will escort you to Muneakira Yagyu.”

Maria nodded and walked towards Hanzo. Hanzo smiled and thought to herself, “The way she walks shows she is very well trained. A very good distraction perhaps.”

Maria spoke, “Thank you. Please call me Paladin Kendrick, or just Paladin.” She did not even glance at the other ninjas as she stood next to Hanzo. Her height matched Matabei’s. “I will also need to speak to Ms. Sen Tokugawa and Yukimura Sanada. There is much about the samurai and their generals that is not in the texts. I must understand their connection to the darkness that appeared here.”

Hanzo hid her inner growl. “I am trying to keep Sen away from him, not trying to get all three of them to hang out more with each other!” Instead she said, “I will let Princess Tokugawa know that. This way please.”

Maria raised an eyebrow at the word ‘princess’, but then stopped following. She causally looked around for the first time she got off the train.

Hanzo looked with her, “Something wrong?”

Maria went back to her machine like stance, “No. Please, show me the way.”

The group walked away. The last ninja guard gave a look around herself, but even she failed to notice the extra shadow in the window across from the station…


#129

Wow, I never realized you had such a talent for this! This is actually quite good.


#130

The dojo seemed out of placed, being tucked inside a large complex with more modern buildings, but it served its purpose.

In the main court yard, several sounds could be heard. Birds were chirping. The wind was blowing a light a breeze. And from inside the larger building, chanting from several young people softly echoed out. “Head, side, head, leg, side…”

Sitting outside the building, on top of what appeared to be a dog house, Kanetsugu Naoe was struggling to keep awake. Her large hammer was being used as a prop to keep her up, but every now and then, she slowly started to slip. “How much longer is this going to last? What could they hope to learn?” Her hand finally did slip and her head smashed into the handle.

“GGAAAAHHH! That is IT! I should be in there, learning the Yagyu techniques! I am the Warrior of Love! It is only right!” She stood up and jumped the distance to the building with a single leap. It was rather impressive, but no one was there to see it. The chanting became more and more distinct to her as she approached the door. With her hammer ready, she slid it open.

She never did see the fist that smacked her head. Matabei Goto looked over her unconscious body with a bit of concern. She looked into the hall at Yukimura Sanada, but Sanada did not seem concerned. In fact, she seemed upset, “She actually lasted longer than I predicted. I hope I am not losing my touch.”

Inside the main hall Muneakira Yagyu finished calling out the steps of the work out. Before him were many students of the university, including its Student Council president. Sweat now glistened from his exposed skin as well as from everyone else in the room. He spoke clearly, “Excellent work today everyone. Remember, fundamentals are as important as anything else in sword fighting. Once you have them down, your instincts and natural talent will take on from there.”

The whole class bowed and said, “Thank you, Sensei.” He nodded back, and the class moved out. They would change in the nearby rooms, but the students showered elsewhere on the school grounds. Muneakira actually lived here, and students were not to remain after class. Except one tended to hang around.

Sen wiped some of the sweat from her brow. “I knew you would be a good teacher, but I didn’t expect you to be this good.” A strange look crossed her face, “Should I call you Sensei?” Her face slightly dropped when she saw he wasn’t listening, but softened after looking where he was staring. Jubei was often right there.

She spoke louder, “We all miss her, Muneakira. But she saved us all, and we will always remember.” She walked closer to him and nearly put her hand on his shoulder, but at the last second with held it.

“Thanks, Princess. It is still hard to think a few months have past since it took place, and yet it feels so much longer, and yet shorter.” The memories of first seeing Jubei appearing in a flash of light, seeing her dueling personalities, and all the event that took place played across his mind. It stopped when Sen noticeably stepped back. “What is wrong, Sen?”

“You need to take a bath.” Sen’s face suddenly looked shocked by the fact she said her thought out loud. “Not that you smell bad, just that you had a long work out and work outs tend to lead to needs of baths. And not that I wanted you in the bath with me, do even think that way you pervert…”

Yukimara’s voice crept into the room, “What do you mean, you want to bath with him?”

The two ladies glared at each other. Muneakira spoke out, “Ladies, please. Sen, I am sure Hanzo is eagerly awaiting you. Yukimara, I will be taking a bath soon if you do a work out now, please wait awhile before you take yours. I won’t take long.” He quickly left. It seemed he learned from experience to head off such conversations between the two young women. Both slowly stared at him with a slight glare of annoyance as he left.

Sen sighed and started to leave when Yukimara stepped in front of her unexpectedly. “Sen? Is there a visitor coming today?”

The question caught Sen off guard, but she quickly answered, “Yes. I was told a member of the Paladin Order is coming to ask about the events that took place here. I wasn’t given much details about it from my brother, but Hanzo said she is going to handle things. It shouldn’t interfere with my, our, efforts.” She looked back where Muneakira left the room, then back at herself while readjusting her robe. When she noticed Yukimara seemed preoccupied, she asked, “Why did you want to know?”

“I had a very strange reading today. It could mean beginning of something new, or the end something old. But I could not predict it accurately because something was to foreign in the prediction.”

Before Sen could ask what that meant, she, Yukimara, and Matabei all turned to the sound of Muneakira yelling…


#131

After escaping from his two Samurai, Muneakira quickly entered into the bathing area. He let a slow sigh, knowing he was safe in there.

He was not unaware of the feelings the two ladies had towards him. And he knew that both wanted more in their relationship, even if they did not admit to themselves. But the silent battles between the two showed a true rivalry. Yet, it was far to fast, to rushed, he was not sure how he felt, and then there was Jubei.

He shrugged his head hard as he removed the last of his clothes. There was a time a place to reminisce on the past, but now was the time to clean and relax. The sound of the door opening behind froze him in place.

“Yagyu? TEACH ME THE WAY OF THE SWORD!” Kanetsugu Naoe’s voice made him jump a few feet.

“AAHH!” He yelped in surprise and dove into the bath tube behind the next sliding doors. Kanetsugu went straight through them. “Naoe! What are you doing in here?!”

“Teach me how to use a sword! How can I be the Warrior of Love if no one pays attention to me? I need to be stronger! I need to be better! SHOW ME THE TECHNIQUES OF YOUR SWORD!”

“I can’t do that HERE!”

Kanetsugu for the first time truly looked at Muneakira, then looked at where she was. Without changing the serious expression she had earlier, her face slowly turned red. But then a clever smile formed as she peered back at him. She slowly began to sway herself as she approached, “Though, I could be stronger if I kissed you. I could be your Samurai. And maybe you could teach me your ‘other’ sword techniques.”

Muneakira froze as she started to lean in close, but Kanetsugu’s swagger began to break as she shook uncontrollably. At the last second, she jumped away shouting, “I CAN’T DO IT STILL!”

Sen’s voice was very cold. “That is a good thing, Kanetsugu, or else you would be dead right now.” The aura of her Samurai abilities filled the outer bathroom with aid of Yukimara’s. The two’s stare froze Kanetsugu in place, shattering her spirit.

“I can’t get a break…” she whispered before collapsing.

“Thank you, ladies. Can you take her out of her quickly?” Muneakira was trying to sound calm while there three women, make that four as Matabei entered, in the same bathroom as him while he was naked. The two samurai continued to glare at Kanetsugu’s fallen body before looking up after realizing they heard his voice. Both froze when they realized where he was and what state of clothing he must be in.

They immediately turned away while turning off their abilities. Yukimara said quickly, “Sorry, Yagyu! We just heard your scream and we thought maybe there was an attack or…”

Sen stepped in, “You were injured and needed our help. We didn’t mean to come into here with you like this…”

Yukimara continued, “We don’t want to see you naked!”

Matabei had already picked up Kanetsugu and glanced over to Muneakira. He was still hiding half his body in the water, but she gave him a curious glance and then gave shrug. “Why not Yukimara? He is young and not bad looking.” Sen’s and Yuki’s look made her frown and say, “I am sorry. I spoke out of place.”

It was at that moment Kanetsugu recovered, struggled in surprise of being carried, and somehow managed to send her hammer straight into Muneakira’s bath, shattering it, and sending him spilling out in front of them.

Hanzo Hattori ran towards the sounds of shouting. Her precious Sen could clearly heard shouting against the high pitched whine of Yukimara, but the words were hard to make out. Also, she thought she heard Kanetsugu, but it was too hard to make out. Panic started to fill her heart as she narrowed down the location to the bathing room of the dojo. She flung open the door, ready to save her Princess, but the scene froze her in place.

The samurai powers of Sen and Yukimara filled the outer bathroom with vehement strength, but instead of fighting with blades, they were tearing at each other with words, “I KNEW YOU WERE AFTER HIM THIS WHOLE TIME!” “THIS WAS A SETUP, ADMIT IT!” “HE IS MY CHILDHOOD FRIEND!” “HE HAS A LOLICON FETISH!” For some reason, both of their clothes were nearly stripped off.

Kanetsugu was trying to move towards what appeared to be a towel with a bundle of clothes underneath. Matabei was standing in between her and it, but Kanetsugu was not really moving, but talking to herself, “Now is my chance, I can do it, I can do it, I CAN’T DO IT!”

Light flashed into the room. The shouting stopped as all eyes turned towards the door. Maria stood there with her gleaming armor and dispassionate gaze. She gleamed the entire room with just one stare. She turned to Sen and Yukimara, then bowed her head, “Ms. Sen Tokugawa, Ms. Yukimara Sanada, I am here on a mission from the Paladin Order. I wish to arrange a time to talk with you. And I wish that time to be soon. Where is Muneakira Yagyu?”

Slowly the towel moved, and too late Hanzo realized who was underneath it. Yagyu stood up slowly, making sure the towel did not slip, and said in a voice trying to convey some control, “I am here. Who are you?” At that moment, Naoe’s last attempt to try to kiss Yagyu ended with mad half dash crashing in Matabei, causing her to fall with out stretched hands, one taking the towel with her.

All the girls froze, faces of shock slowly turned red on all of them except one. Maria kept her composure, though there were now slightest signs of struggle. Her hands slowly twitched near her light blades. Power seemed to ebb from her as if she was about to strike out at this scene of perversion. Instead, she walked straight towards the frozen Yagyu who was now helpless before them all. She stood right in front of him and stared into his eyes.

His eyes stared into hers. Everyone else watched. They could feel something passing between the two. Yagyu felt as if she was staring straight into his soul. After a few seconds, Maria faced away from him, took a few steps, and then burst out laughing hard.

No one could say anything. The sight of Maria laughing, even to those who just met her, was unbelievable. Finally, Maria spoke, “That is so funny! Yagyu, you are just like my little brother: a good man with a strong heart but the worst of luck! Stuff like this happens to him when he visits Japan too! My name is Maria Yagyu Kendrick, and I have need to talk to you latter. Is that okay?” By then she was only slightly giggling.

Yagyu answered, “Yes,” as Matabei threw a robe on him.

“I apologize for interfering with your affairs, and I will meet all of you latter then.” Maria walked out of the bathroom, but not far out she laughed out loud again, and could be heard saying in English, “Wow, I did not know I was in need of such a laugh. Japan is great!”

No one in the bathroom could say a word for awhile…


#132

Very long day at work, so I gonna keep this scene brief…

As Maria started to laugh, someone was watching from far away. The person could not see what was going on nor hear, but the shadow knew who was in the dojo and what just entered it…

The room had plenty of light, yet nothing could be seen. The figures within it did not seem to be really there. All of the furnishings, drapes, windows, and even the people seemed hollow, shaded, and non existent.

One of the figures spoke, “After all that planning, you are telling me it failed because of one young man?” The voice was not pleasant nor did it sound thrilled.

A far smoother and feminine voice answered, “Yes. It is simple actually. Our plan was created solely based on the information that there were no suitable ‘generals’ left in Japan and that all of the true samurai were dead. That young man was a suitable general. Muenakira Yagyu, just being who he is, ruined everything.”

A different voice simply said, “How?”

The female voice answered, “The sacrifice summoned the two near immortal samurai of the power we sought. But instead of being bound to those who summoned them, they appeared next to the suitable general. For Jubei, it resulted in an incomplete contract. Fortunately and unfortunately, Gisen did not form the contract with Yagyu. She nearly summoned what we needed by herself, but was simply not strong enough alone.” Her shadowy figured raised her hand to stop the next question, “Of course we would have helped her, but we did not know where they had appeared until it was too late. The ritual attracted too much attention for us to move that quickly.”

The first voice asked, “We have brought in more support for you. Our ‘friends’ from the outside are still strongly supporting us. Even this meeting is being held with their help. Now, what can we do with the power they are now lending us?”

A small laugh escaped the female figure, “We summon them again when the time is right. The Shogun is now a general, but they did not appear to him. They appeared to Yagyu. Without him, they come to us. The answer is simple. And in many ways, this has been a blessing in disguise.”

Another voice, artificial and filtered, asked, “What about the Paladin order. They noticed some of the outside support we have. There is a Paladin with Yagyu even now.”

Though no sound of surprise was heard, the figures did move in a motion that they just heard unknown news. The female voice answered, “That is unexpected, but it matters little. With what is about to come down on Yagyu and his so called Samurai, a lone Paladin will make little difference…”


#133

Everyone had gathered around the long table at the dojo. Plates were set out, the food was presented. However, no one was eating as they just stared at what was presented. Maria stepped out from the kitchen area and called out, “For intruding on you so, it is only right I prepare all of you dinner. Oh, is there something wrong?”

Sen looked up, her face clearly showing some concern but mostly confusion, “Uh, Paladin Kendrick, what is this?”

Maria smiled, “Fried Tofu Burritos with black beans, lettuce, tomato, cheese, sour cream, and guacamole. On the side is a ginger salsa with tortillas. I was surprised to find the Order sent me the wrong meal package, but I think Mexican with a few Japanese twists might be a good change in pace.”

Naoe made a loud “Uh?” sound when Yukimara whispered to her, “Mexico is the southern part of the United States. It used to be a separate nation, so the things that make that region unique are still referred to as Mexican.”

Maria looked at the confused table and gave a warm smile, which surprisingly looked good on her, “Now, don’t think the only thing Americans eat are hamburgers. Give it a try.”

Yagyu and Matabei both picked up their burritos and took a bite. Yagyu stopped, his eyes widened, and he said, “This is good!” as Matabei continued to take bites. Soon, everyone followed suit.

Hanzo noticed that Maria looked pleased that Yagyu liked the food. “One step closer in my plan hehe,” she thought.

Sen, after having a few bites, asked Maria, “Your middle name is Yagyu correct? Why is that?”

Maria answered, “That was the surname of my grandfather. I double checked before coming here, but it appears my grandfather is Yagyu’s Great Uncle. Did Yagyu ever mentioned that one of his dad’s cousins moved to America?”

Yagyu choked a little, “Wait, we are related?”

With two samurai glaring at Yagyu, Hanzo then thought, “And one step back.”

After the meal was finished, everyone remained sitting at the table. Maria sat across from Yagyu, Sen, and Yukimara. She gave another soft smile and said, “Though it might take some time, please tell me your story.”

Yagyu began the story with how he was instructed to come train at the university. He continued to tell on how he first met Yukimara, Matabei, Hanzo, and then how Jubei appeared. Maria let him continue all the way till the end.

Everyone else pitched in. Though sometimes a few verbal spats broke out, Maria listened patiently and actively listened. Once all had finished, her smile appeared again.

“Yagyu, you are truly fortunate to have such friends as these. Your spirit and strength have attracted equally good souls to you.” Everyone else smiled with the compliment, though Sen and Yukimara both had an odd feeling cross over them. Maria continued, “May I ask a few questions now?” Everyone nodded yes. “When Jubei appeared, it sounded as if she not yet ready to enter our world. She mentioned the contract was incomplete. Yagyu, you are strong and of great character, but to me it does not sound like you summoned her, but prematurely attracted her away from another person’s summons. This is just a theory, but the time she appeared to you was the time some ritual devices of the Black Guard were detected being used in Japan.”

Maria reached into her armor to a hidden pocket. She pulled out some pieces of paper that had a list of reports. “The devices stopped when Gisen appeared. She might have had a more complete contract to the summoner, but she still appeared to you. The timing cannot be coincidence.”

Sen spoke, “What does this mean? The Black Guard has never bothered Japan before, why now?”

Maria tilted her head, “The Black Guard may be seeking the power of the Darkness here. It is somewhat of an untapped resource, one that the Paladin Order might not have a way to handle. The Guard and the Order date back to Roman times, when mystical power threatened to destroy the Roman Empire. Though the Empire fell by other means, the Order remained to make sure such powers were never allowed to go unchecked. It could mean the end of everything if it did. The Order remains neutral in everything except in stopping such power as this. Our connection with Western churches did not gain us favor in Japan, yet Japan has its own answer to the problem, the might of the samurai. I was not aware, though, that the might was missing for a few years. The Black Guard must have thought there were no Generals in Japan any more.”

Maria was lost in thought for a moment. “Though I don’t have direct evidence, the feeling I am getting tells me that I am near the truth. Lady Sen Tokugawa, may I call my Order and request some aid?”

Sen thought for a second, “How much aid are we talking about? I am sorry, but the Order is not allowed to have to strong of a presence here.”

Maria nodded, “I was hoping to get a scholar, a diplomat, and one other warrior. The fact that your brother has gained many samurai makes me feel that the worst danger has been averted. Still, one can’t be too certain in such things.”

Sen closed her eyes and came to a decision, “I will see to it that they are allowed into Japan.”

Maria bowed in thanks.

Hanzo spoke out, “Is it true that the Order is 85% female? Most men cannot make the grade of Paladin, is that true?”

Sen’s and Yukimara’s faces dropped a little. Maria laughed slightly, “Yes. But, if I may request, lets talk about this tomorrow. During sparring practice? I wish to see the capabilities of the samurai and their general.” The three nodded in agreement.


#134

Yagyu could not help but feel he was being watched. Everyone had their separate rooms in the building where they could sleep, though Sen and Hanzo also had rooms elsewhere on the campus. Yagyu knew why she insisted on staying at his place certain nights, though he kept himself from seeing the truth.

But this night, he swore that a few times, someone looked into his room. But that did not concern him. Each time, he swore he felt the presence of either Sen or Yukimara. Why they were checking on him, he could not say. Maria was staying over the night here as well, but he had not seen her since she left the dinner table. Matabei said she bathed with Maria and Yumikara when he passed her by. She also said not to mention breasts too Yumikara for awhile. Yagyu still blushed a little at that thought.

But there was another feeling of someone watching him. It was directly at him, but it felt like the whole area was being observed by something, something not right. He closed his eyes again and tried to sleep.

Yumikara watched Maria stack her armor next to her futon. Everything Maria had with her was placed into neat piles for quick access. She was wearing a tight jumpsuit to bed, which seemed odd. One thing it did do was show off her figure. Yumikara looked down at herself and gave a humph. “Breasts aren’t everything,” she thought.

Matabei looked over to Yumikara. Feeling sympathy, she quickly thought of something. “Say, Maria? Is it true that Paladin must remain chaste?”

Maria smiled as she gave her pillow one last shake, “Indeed. Self control is pivotal to the Paladin’ strength. Hence why so few men can make the Paladin ranks. We are bound to chastity.” Yumikara smiled, though seemed surprised to do so. “But do not think we are ignorant. We are usually healthy woman so we can use that to our advantage. And we are trained not to be shocked by sexual images or actions. Oddly, that came in handy today. Yagyu is healthy young man.”

Yumikara growled, “Yes he is. But you are not interested in him, being bound to chastity and all.”

Maria raised an eyebrow before lying down, “Well, Paladins don’t have to be chaste after they marry.”

Yumikara shook a little in shock. “Damn it, why am I feeling this way!” she thought. “Yes, I liked Yagyu, but just how much? Is Maria really a threat? Her smile looks either as if she either just enjoyed teasing me, or she is thinking of Yagyu…” She finished getting into bed, but made notes to check on Yagyu and Maria that night.

“Big Brother, look at how many I caught!” Jubei’s smile and laugh warmed Yagyu to the soul. He smiled as she waved the clear box filled with butterflies. All of his other friends were there, chasing the glowing insects in the filled of flowers and stars. Oddly, there was no dirt but water. He didn’t seem to find odd that no one sank into it.

Sen and Yumikara kept trying to get his attention. Hanzo and Matabei kept a careful watch on both of them. A shadowy figure highlighted in light was there, but the person seemed nice and he welcomed her. Naoe was by the figure and upset she broke her box to hold the butterflies.

Jubei wrapped her arms around him. “Big Brother, I miss you!” Something about what she said made a small feeling of sadness hit him.

“Why do I feel like I miss her? She is right here.” His thoughts felt odd, but he said, “I am always here for you, Jubei.” He hugged her, and the warmth washed all doubts away.

Her voice went cold and serious, “They will come in the afternoon. Be ready.” Yagyu looked at her and saw the other Jubei, her eyes glowing and her aura at full strength. He jumped back, and felt something slam against his head…

“OW!” He opened his eyes and looked around. He was in his room, and had just hit his head against the floor from thrashing around in bed. “What a dream,” he said, but then to late realized he could not remember it…


#135

Nice job Red! Very funny stuff! :slight_smile:


#136

The air was still inside the court yard. Every sound was crystal clear, from the buzzing insect to the water fountain. Naoe, Hanzo, and Matabei with weapons drawn circled around Maria. As if on a silent cue, they struck.

Naoe jumped the highest to come down with her hammer, but Maria met her in the air. She had jumped higher, and as Naoe had moved her hammer back to strike, Maria struck the hammer sending it flying straight towards Hanzo.

Hanzo dodged the huge missile and sent a volley of knives at Maria. One of Maria’s light weapons sprang to life and created a shield that caught each knife. Matabei was quickly coming in from underneath Maria, but the Paladin and twisted mid air and had the shield aimed at her. The knives were expunged in Matabei’s general direction, forcing Matabei to abort the attack.

Silence prevailed in the court yard again until Yagyu spoke out, “Impressive! I didn’t know that Western styles of fighting had such forms.”

Maria bowed to each of her opponent before saying, “It is not all Western. Paladins study many forms of combat to help handle the many types of foes we can face. Truly, it is a world style, and each Paladin makes it his or her own.”

Sen and Yukimura both growled at the way Muneakira was looking at Maria. Sen spoke first, “Paladin Kendrick, would you like the spare the two of us?”

“Yes, but first may I sample your general?”

Both girls flinched at the words, but before they could say anything, Muneakira stepped towards Maria and bowed. After she bowed back, he drew his blade.

Power started to ebb from him, and the aura caused Maria to raise an eyebrow. She matched Yagyu’s stance, and she pulled one light blade out. It took the form of a katana.

With one glance, Muneakira said, “Let me guess, your mother, taught by her father, taught you some moves.”

“Actually, after I beat him in a duel, Grandpa taught me his style.”

Both their moves were so fast that most people would not have seen it. The swords clashed repeatedly, but rarely for the pace the fight was going. Each fighter was skillfully moving to try to gain a better position. However, Yagyu slowly started to force the Paladin back.

Suddenly, her katana become a giant mace. Yagyu did not react in time and his sword was sent flying out of his hand. Her weapon changed again, and a spear was moving straight to him. He dodged and caught the spear with his hand. He was almost about to strike home with his secret move when another light blade, in the form of a dagger, beat him in speed and was positioned under his neck. Shock filled his face.

Maria, looking at the near strike Yagyu was about to give, gave a slow exhale. “You are faster than Grandpa by a long shot. If I didn’t have some actual battle experience and knowledge of your style, that would have defeated me.” Her weapons withdrew back into their containers. “That was a excellent match.”

Yagyu regained his composure and bowed back. He raised his head and said, “Why didn’t you tell me you trained with my Grand Uncle and that you knew my style?” His voice sounded like he knew the answer already and was not actually upset.

Maria gave an innocent smile, “Enemies don’t show their full set of cards before a battle, so why would one train that way? Also, the fact that it gave me an edge on you could have played a factor. Plus, it might give you motivation to spare with me more.” Muneakira laughed as Maria gave another innocent smile.

Yukimura growled to Sen, “Why is this old fart flirting with Muneakira!?”

Sen growled back, “How did she know that was a good way to flirt with him in the first place!? Aren’t they related?!”

Though no one else heard them, the aura the two gave had everyone looking at them. Both turned into Master Samurai and said at the same time, “It is our turn, Paladin.”

Maria raised her eyebrow as she looked at the two of them. Then, her other brow joined in. “Well, this will be an interesting bout. Lets see how long I last.” She bowed to them. They bowed back, then struck so fast that Muneakira barely got out of range.

The two Samurai struck with air and lighting in coordinated attacks. It was everything Maria could do to stay on the ground and not charred. She used both weapons to either hook into something to not be blown away or give her enough weight to stay on the ground and then to absorb the lighting strikes. However, that was not all the Samurai did. Sen slashed with her spear and Yumikara did with her fans. Maria managed to block them, but she was quickly losing ground.

Yagyu shouted out, “Shouldn’t this be one at a time!”

Maria then shouted, “Flame Jet!” The two Samurai dodged a flame of fire that sprang from Maria’s armor and was channeled by a weapon. “Cone of Cold!” Right where they dodged Maria blasted with an expanding freezing spell. It was not strong enough though as both charged right through it. “Lighting Strike!” Both Samurai struck Maria’s weapons, only to have a charge from those weapons strike at them. Both Sprang back and prepared to attack again. However, Maria was knocked back by their attack and was on the ground. She was not moving.

Both girls instantly dropped their auras. After a quick look of concern to each other, they joined everyone else in running towards Maria. But only after a few steps, Maria sat up and shook her head slightly. “No wonder Japan held off the dark forces for so long. You two rival the most powerful of Paladins I know, and they had a life time of training to get to that level.” She got up and bowed, “It is good to know Japan is protected by such strength with grace and beauty. I am soundly defeated.”

The two did not know what to say. Sen eventually spoke out, “Well, Paladin, I am Princess and Master Samurai. Of course I have grace and beauty and powerful strength. The fact you lasted so long speaks well of your skill and training.”

Yukimura added, “Yes, those attacks were a mix of your battle armor and your own spiritual strength. For someone to do that without a Samurai pact or heavier technical and genetic modification is most impressive. It would take a Samurai to take you on.”

Maria gave them an odd look before smiling, “Your words are very gracious, thank you.” She stood up, her armor instantly shook off the dirt, and she walked to the two Samurai. When she was close enough, she bowed again and whispered, “You two really love him, don’t you.”

Both froze, but nodded yes. Maria continued, “Don’t let jealousy cloud your judgment. That could easily be used against you in a real fight. However, I am sorry for causing that jealousy. In some respects, Yagyu reminds me of my brother. He is definitely a good catch for the two of you. Can you forgive me? I know I haven’t been all that innocent around him.”

Once again they looked at each other. The two girls slowly looked back at Maria. Sen said, “Sorry we both attacked at the same time. It was a bit overboard and not respectful.”

Yukimura added, “And we know that we should not act out to harshly with our feelings. If it is just because Muneakira reminds you of your brother, we can forgive a couple friendly passes. It is not like you would try to sneak a kiss in while he was asleep.”

Maria made an odd face, “Tell me that has not happened.”

By now everyone had gathered around them. Though they had missed the conversation, Matabei and Hanzo could guess what took place. Naoe said, “Why is everyone hanging around here?” Yagyu wisely kept some distance.

Sen looked at Yukimura who just realized she made a confession. Maria laughed, “May I look into you?” Both girls gave her an odd look. “I will look into your eyes, but you will feel a connection between us. You will see and feel my true self as I would see yours. It is kinda of intimate, but I want to see what the true self of a Master Samurai is.”

The two Samurai looked into Maria’s eyes as she looked back as everyone watched. Sen felt her arrogance, pride, selfishness and more rise to the surface, but Maria’s eyes plunged further to where Sen felt her own caring, charitable, loyal, and loving self. Yukimura saw her high self esteem be brushed away by Maria’s eyes as she gazed into warm heart that beat beneath. No secret feeling could hide from those eyes. Maria’s naughty nature was barely a whisper at the surface as a tide of compassion, strength, virtue, and conviction flowed underneath. Maria slowly blinked and broke the contact.

No one said anything for a second. Slowly, Sen managed to say, “That was, not what I expected.”

Yukimura looked at Maria with a whole new perspective, “I knew Paladins were disciplined, but I had no idea. To know oneself so well is truly a great step to becoming a warrior.” She thought to herself and then said, “Wait, you did that with Muneakira yesterday, didn’t you!”

Maria nodded yes, “In that situation, I wanted to know who he truly was before I acted on the picture before me.” Everyone remembered the situation of which she spoke and wisely did not object further.

Maria held out her hand, “After seeing the real you, I would be honored to be your friend.” Both Samurai looked at the hand for a second before reaching out and shaking it. It was at that moment that the three of them felt the wrongness in the air.

By the time everyone else had started to move, the Master Samurai were striking at the shadows surrounding them. Yagyu was moving as well, but did not see the spear of pure darkness flying towards his back…


#137

Hanzo watched in fascination as Maria seemed to peer straight into Sen and Yukimura. “Just how intimate is this? Can I learn to do that? Can I do that with Sen…”

When Maria broke contact, the look Sen gave filled Hanzo with jealousy. “How can she get that close to Sen! She is supposed to be getting Muneakira’s attention!” Her anger slowly withdrew as she watched Maria and Sen shake hands. A friendship had formed, but it no longer seemed as threatening as it did before.

For a second, she did not know why the two Samurai and Paladin went back into full fighting form. Muneakira seemed highly on edge. Just then Hanzo, Matabei, and Naoe felt the wrongness around.

The Samurai struck out in two directions. Shadowy forms were maneuvering all around them and only a few were hit. “How did I not see them! They did not trigger any of the school alarms!” She immediately activated an alarm with her glasses as she let loose a volley of knives. “I have to protect Sen! I have to…” She saw to late that Sen was not the target…

Matabei wondered how it would be to peer into Yukimura like Maria did. Though not related by blood, Matabei always felt as if Yukimura was more than just a friend. They were true sisters, Matabei being the caring and nurturing one while Yukimura the clever and intelligent one. To have a moment of connection like that, the thought made her blush.

The blush ended when the attack began. How the shadows got past her attention she did not know, but she moved to get into position to help Yukimura, only to realize she was not the one needing help…

Naoe did not follow what took place between the Samurai and the Paladin, but she did notice the shadows attacking when everyone else did. She jumped instantly into action, but not did not plan where she was going. However, she did get into position to see a figure that was more that just shadow throw a spear at Yagyu…

Muneakira felt them just slightly after the Samurai and Paladin did. Their ki was still hidden, but their proximity could no longer keep them undetectable. And there many of them. He pulled his sword out as three shadows surrounded him. They were roughly humanoid in shape, but they did not seem entirely solid. The limbs morphed into sharp edges as the blank faces looked right him. As they charged, he felt something evil bore into his back with its eyes. Even as he slashed the first shadow, he could feel something pure evil was about to follow those eyes.

He spun around, slashing the two other shadows. They broke apart, disappearing into the air as if they never were. It was too late for Yagyu to stop the spear. As his he began his dodge, light exploded in front of him. A large shield of light blinded him for second, but it was suddenly snuffed out. One of Maria’s light weapons struck the ground in front of him as a charred piece of trash. However, the spear was gone.

Everyone was around him then. “Protect the General!” Sen shouted it. Every one seemed to agree.

“They are after me? Who are they? What are they?” The questions raced through Yagyu’s mind.

More shadowy figures surrounded them, but their numbers were no longer increasing. The actual solid figure seemed to be holding them back. As everyone looked at it, Maria stated, “That is a Black Guard.”

“Paladin,” the figure responded in a simple acknowledgement. The voice was distorted, but one could tell it was a male. He faced Yagyu, “Yagyu, Muneakira, General. You are a Samurai, yes? My orders only pertain to you. Why involve these lovely ladies in a fight that should just be between you and I? I would rather not have to kill them too.”

Muneakira froze. Everyone was risking their lives for him. He was responsible if they get hurt. But just as those thoughts raced through his mind, he swore he heard Jubei, “You know that is not right, speak from your heart big brother.”

He shouted back, “If you attacked anyone of my friends, I would step in an defend them with my life, no matter what they said to me. We have a trust and bond that surpasses any sense of selfish desire. You say this fight is just between you and me? I know I have my friends with me without even asking, so your fight is with all of us no matter what.”

The girls turned to him with a bit of surprise. Most had the same thought, “He just stole our speech…” Naoe’s thought, however, was, “What is going on!!!”

Maria looked at Yagyu with wide eyes and said, “Well said! Black Guards are masters of spinning half truths and lies. You parried that attack well.”

Sen shouted to the other man, “I am Tokugawa, Sen. I demand to know why you are in Japan and why you have attacked Yagyu, Muneakira. Surrender and comply now and your punishment for your actions will greatly be reduced.”

The man laughed. “Well, you can’t say I didn’t try.” Suddenly, he reached out and slashed on of his own hands. Blood began drip onto the ground. Several of the shadow figures rushed to the blood while the others attacked the group.

Maria shouted, “Don’t let those get to his blood!”

It was too late. The shadows grew into towering figures in the shape of armored knights. They approached the group with large weapons forming from their hands…


#138

Muneakira quickly counted them. “Sen, take that one! Yukimura that one! Maria, with me on that one. The rest take the last one!” He thought to himself, “I pray we can handle these four.”

The giant shadow knights gave them little time as they charged with sword appendages. Sen leaped into the air and came down on her opponent with a powerful lighting charged slash, yet the charges seemed to pass right through the creature. A tornado pushed back Yukimura’s target, but the wind just could not pick it up as it approached her. The other three ladies were being pressed hard by their dark figure.

Yagyu charged his opponent but had a bad feeling his sword would pass right through. Maria charged along side him and shouted, “You will make the strike, and I will show where!” She jumped forward and shouted a Latin phrase. Her light weapon flashed as bright as lighting, forcing the shadow creature to pause. A small reflection from the shadow caught Yagyu’s attention. He dove underneath the shadow knight and struck up. His sword hit true and slashed the device, and the shadow knight disappeared.

“There is a device in the shadows! Destroy it!” Muneakira shouted to others. He thought, “Still, it would be hard for them to find them.” He looked at the Black Guard, “but maybe we can end this now.” With Maria by him, he stepped forward and said, “It is time to end this.”

The Black Guard gave a slight growl while glancing at the one destroyed device. He formed two swords from grips with shadows. Yagyu raised his katana and Maria made her light weapon into as well. The Black Guard laughed, “I always wondered how well the Samurai style would do against the European one. Guess it is time to…”

Three Samurai joined in the attack against the remaining Shadow Knights. With their help, Sen slashed so quickly that one struck the device in her attacker, Yukimura blew her opponents device out of it and one of the other Samurai destroyed it, and the last knight was tripped. Naoe smashed the entire knight with one strong crash, and the device did not last.

Though surprised for a second Yagyu and Maria turned back to the Black Guard. Maria spoke, “Surrender now. There is no chance of victory for you today.” The Black Guard stood still for a second, then smashed his weapons together as he charged Yagyu. The weapons surged with energy and began to emit a loud, high pitch. There was a bright flash before Yagyu felt himself flying through the air…

“Muneakira! Muneakira!” Both Sen’s and Yukimura’s voice forced him back awake. He felt dull pain throughout his body, but he could he was not seriously injured. Sen hugged him, “Thank goodness! You are okay!”

Yukimura grabbed onto him as well, “The dream I had last night came true. We were attacked.” She looked at Sen, “Thank you for taking me seriously and request aid from your brother.” Sen smiled and nodded back.

However, Yagyu froze. Maria was lying near by and looked to be in pain. Her other light weapon was destroyed. He gave both girls on him a strong hug, but then rushed to Maria. She looked up to him, “Bastard killed himself to get to you. I blocked the attack, but it was stronger than expected.” She closed her eyes in pain.

Yagyu couldn’t believe it. He saw blood covering her armor. “You didn’t have to die to save me…”

Maria gave him an odd glance before grunting out, “You should know people will die to save their general. Though I can’t say your mine, I understand the feeling and the importance. Besides, I can’t die yet, I haven’t even had my first kiss.”

Yagyu felt his heart beat. He couldn’t believe what was happening. Slowly, he bent down and raised Maria’s head. Her eyes grew wide as he pressed his lips on hers and gave her a kiss. Though it was only a couple of seconds, he felt it lasted far longer. He pulled back, only to see Maria looking at him with a shocked expression. She was blushing, her composure barely kept in place as she asked, “What are you doing?”

Both Sen and Yukimura grabbed Yagyu’s shoulders. “MUNEAKIRA!”

Yagyu said quickly, “But she is dieing! I thought…”

Maria laughed in a grunt of pain, “I am not dieing! The suit is not gentle in healing injuries though. This blood is the Black Guard’s, not mine. Ladies, please don’t be…” Spiritual energy swirled around Maria. Light glowed and formed around her and struck towards the heaven’s. The Symbol of Purity flashed and became marked on the back of her neck.

As Sen and Yukimura proceeded to beat Muneakira to near death, Maria got up and turned to Matabei, “What just happened?” As Matabei pulled Maria over to explain, Naoe stood their gaping next to the other Samurai.

“She hasn’t known him for more than two days and already…GGAAAHHHH!” The Samurai from Tokugawa looked at her with confusion.

Hanzo, while checking the security sensors to see how the Black Guard had sneaked in, was silently cheering on one successful plan…


#139

Excellent! Should be an anime

FUND IT!!


#140

how about a space opera anime…