Anubis woke up and found himself in darkness. Somebody was there with him but it wasn't Mia. It almost felt like her but her spirit was a lot older. He looked around and found a light coming closer toward him. "Mia?"
The figure stopped before him and looked him over. She looked like Mia but she was wearing a kimono that was common when Anubis was young. Her hair was in two tight buns on her head.
"Have you already forgotten me, Shuten?" His eyes were wide with surprise at the mention of his birth name. Her voice was like something out of the past that he couldn't quite grasp.
"Who are you?" He stepped forward and saw her troubled eyes.
"Has it been that long that you've forgotten even me?" Her voice trembled slightly.
"How can I know you if I don't know who you are?"
"There will be time for that. I was happy to know you were on the Astral Plane but I was not there to see you. I find that a girl came and took you. And to my descendant nonetheless."
"Shuten, no matter what happens, I still love you. I hope that counts for something."<
Anubis woke with a jerk. His back was against the arm of the couch. Mia slept next to him with his arm around her. She shifted but didn't wake up.
Was that a dream? Anubis thought.
He shook his head and rubbed his eyes. Mia shifted her body and draped an arm over his chest. Anubis pulled the blanket over her shoulder and kissed her forehead.
"I hope I find whoever gave me that dream." He brushed aside a lock of hair from her face and looked at her. He pulled her closer and closed his eyes.
"Leave her alone, Kala!" Reva shouted after her. Kala ran down the stairs following the fleeing form of Red. Reva momentarily followed next.
Kala headed to the kitchen to avoid Reva and found an angry Royda at the stove. She backed out of the kitchen while Reva ran into her. They glared at each other and growled but didn't do anything. Kala sat down and Reva left.
"You people usually yell early in the morning?" said a voice from the couch. Reva approached the couch, ready to drown anybody. She stopped when she saw Mia.
"What are you doing there?" she asked.
"I was sleeping." Mia sat up with the covers around her.
"I thought Anubis was using the couch." Reva knew the answer to her own unspoken question. This wasn't a planned encounter.
The bathroom door opened and Anubis came out. He paused a moment and looked at Mia then at Reva. He smiled and headed for the kitchen. Reva looked at him then at Mia. She had a smile on her face as she got up. She took the blanket with her to the bathroom. Reva's eyes kept getting wider and wider.
"That didn't happen what I think happened, did it?" She looked around and found no answer.
Kala stealthily watched Royda's back for any signs of aggression. Preoccupied, she didn't notice Anubis enter the kitchen. He sat next to her and waited for anything. Kala turned and almost knocked heads with him. Royda turned around and laid down two plates. Kala got up and took a plate with her to the living room.
"Aren't you going to eat?" asked Anubis.
"I already ate," answered Royda. "I got up early enough for that."
"As long as you're okay?" Anubis picked up his plate and also headed for the living room.
Royda stood next to the door and watched Anubis being surrounded by her sister and fellow warriors. They distracted him, asked him questions, and ate his food. She shook her head and smiled.
"This is the most times I have seen you smile in such a short time," said a voice behind her. She slowly turned around and confronted the owner of the voice.
"Grandfather?!" She ran up to his transparent form. She would have hugged him but she passed right through.
"Like I said, unusual behaviors." The Ancient's ghostly form sat down while she continued to smile.
"Events have changed a lot of my perspective as well as the other's. Is this visit a personal one or did you want to check on us?" She sat down next to him.
"Blunt as always. After 400 years, you'd think you would have changed." She shrugged. "I came here to ask you something about Mia."
"Something about the aura around her?"
"I really should get to the point. However, that aura is what I came for."
"Mira felt it first. I felt it, but it was rather weak. I couldn't see who it was, but it felt very familiar."
"It should. She's an old friend."
She looked at him and found nothing. The room was empty
and she almost left to ponder her own question. A strong
presence stopped her. She looked around with a suspicious
eye. A turn of her head and another transparent form appeared.
"Of all the people I knew, I thought you would be the one to remember me." The Mia look-alike crossed her arms. A revelation came over Royda's eyes. She shook her head.
"What are you doing here?"
"Trying to claim what was once mine."
"Yours? Anubis is not your property. He was never yours in the first place."
"I know, but he would have been mine if it wasn't for you going into the Plane. I had waited 400 years for that time."
"Really? Then you wouldn't by any chance know about the real reason why the Warlords wanted to capture Mia in the first place, did you?"
"She wasn't the object of the Warlords' interests."
"I'm talking about before. They knew she was keeping dormant powers. Don't tell me you weren't part of a little manifestation of her powers."
"So what if I have. She is my descendant. She has my potential."
"But that's not a reason to endanger her life way before her powers are at full."
"I had to make sure that if my Shuten was to fall in love with somebody, she had to be worthy of the power I once had."
"Is she?" Royda looked out to the living room.
"She could improve."
"I'll make sure of that." Royda went into the living room as the ghostly form disappeared.
Mia came out of the bathroom and found Anubis surrounded by girls. She smiled and observed them a minute. Royda joined her, content to just watch. Anubis noticed them and went there.
"Having fun?" Mia asked. She circled her arm around his.
"Better than when I was dead."
"Well, they were suppose to be up this early. They were also suppose to be downstairs cleaning." Royda looked at the four girls.
"That's what I forgot to do this morning," blurted Reva.
"Me, too!" Kala headed for the stairs followed by Reva.
"I guess there's no use trying to get out of this since you already caught us," Mira said as she descended the stairs.
Kishin looked at Royda, Mia, and Anubis and bowed low. She then followed the other three down.
"I'll leave the two of you here," Royda offered. "I know you must have a lot to talk about."
"Actually, I wanted to help you clean this morning," Anubis offered. He looked at Mia cautiously.
"And I need to call my friends back home," Mia quickly added. "I think they've worried about me enough."
"I would think that Anubis would want to rest more. Being alive again isn't easy you know," Royda warned him.
"Don't worry. If I feel weak, you would know it."
"I suppose. If you're coming, then we might go now."
He nodded and headed for the stairs. He stopped at the top and let Royda go first. Slowly, he walked back to Mia and kissed her. This surprised her and made her blush. She went to the phone and dialed her number. She lightly passed her fingertips over her lips and smiled as she remembered what happened last night. Her mind was preoccupied that she didn't hear anybody pick up.
Cye casually picked up the telephone. After five days of not hearing from Mia, the guys managed to live without her. They learned to cook from Cye and were able to keep the house relatively clean. They no longer hovered near the phone like buzzards but always expected a call from her.
"Cye!?" Mia shouted. Cye almost dropped his cup.
"Mia?!" The other four Ronins came running in after hearing her name. "Where are you?"
Downstairs, the five girls along with Anubis cleaned as best they could. The place was only abandoned for a day but the furniture had already gathered a thick blanket of dust. Cleaning was the first priority, so the girls stayed quiet. As the job got easier, Reva started to get her evil eye.
Pranks were her specialty and cleaning downstairs usually meant tons of them. Everybody was trying to avoid her but contact was inevitable. The first victim was Kala.
"Opps!" apologized an angelic Reva. A soaking Kala looked through her hair and glared at Reva.
"You wanna try that again!" Reva started running with Kala not far behind.
Kala picked up a brush and threw it at Reva but hit Mira. After awhile, all except Royda and Anubis had joined the game. Four girls ran from one end of the room to the other, causing more damage than cleaning. A few more minutes passed and Royda got a little fed up. She picked up a mop and tripped Reva, stopping the other girls with her.
Groans were the only thing heard at first, but as always, Reva started laughing. It was contagious and everybody was laughing except Royda.
Suddenly, Anubis stopped. He looked up and seemed to be listening for something. He raised up his hand to quiet the girls down and listened more carefully. They all stopped to listen, too. Shock came over his face when he realized what he heard.
"Mia!" he shouted as he ascended the stairs.
Mia told the Ronins what happened after her last call. She left out her dream, her new friends, her new, old enemies, and her new relationship. They would know about all of them in due time.
The guys took turns talking to her and asked her question after question. She didn't have time to tell them about her new secrets, so she was busting at the seams.
"Look guys," she said, "I have to tell you something."
"Really? What?" they said in unison.
"Well, I don't know how to break this to you, but..."
She didn't finish her sentence. She was interrupted by Anubis.
All the Ronins heard was her name being said by somebody they thought dead and the line going dead. They dialed again, wishing they could get her back. To no avail, the line had been cut off. They sat around the phone and waited.
"That couldn't have been who I thought that was, right?" asked Kento
"Well, it sure sounded like him," answered Sage.
"No way," said Ryo. He stood up. "He couldn't be alive, could he?"
"Technically, we don't know that for sure," answered Rowen. "We didn't see him die or his body. There's a good chance that could have been Anubis."
Mia lifted her head and saw a white haze. Anubis protectively covered her whole body and pressed close to the ground. Sounds of running feet came closer and Anubis looked up.
A gaping hole remained where the wall and the telephone were. Snow was blowing in and was chilling the occupants. Kishin and Royda went to the hole while the rest attended to Mia and Anubis.
"Are you two okay?" asked Mira.
"Not for long," answered by somebody from outside.
"I should have known Kale," Anubis said. He slowly sat up.
"What do you want?" asked Royda.
"At first, I just wanted to meet the five of you," answered Kale. "Now, the Empress wants me to bring the girl to her instead. I hope you give her up easily."
"Not a chance Kale." Anubis stood up with Mia. "You're going to have to go through me."
"Not a problem old friend. I can take care of you easily."
"Not without me you won't," said Kishin. She stood in the middle of the hole.
"What are you going to do?"
Kishin concentrated and never left her one eye off Kale. She quickly raised her arms and shot at Kale with one hand. He barely had time to dodge the attack and came away with a tear on his cape.
"You want some more." Kishin held her other hand high in the air and gathered more energy. The wind picked up and whipped Kale's cape.
"I was expecting trouble from you but my Empress says that we will have to resolve this another time. We will meet again." He vanished into a black hole that swallowed him.
While Kishin battled Kale, the other girls had Mia into warmer clothes and into the kitchen. Kishin came in puffing smoke into the air.
"He's gone." She sat down.
"He'll be back," Royda warned.
"I don't get it, what do they want with me?" Mia asked. "I've never been a threat to them before."
Anubis comforted Mia but the girls didn't answer her.
"You better stay with her Anubis," answered Royda. "We can clean up here while the two of you warm up downstairs."
"I can clean up here," offered Kishin. "The rest of you can finish up downstairs."
Everybody nodded and headed downstairs. Royda stayed behind with Kishin.
"You know something, don't you?" asked Kishin.
"Not yet, but I'll find out soon enough," answered Royda.
"As long as you can explain it later." Kishin went to the living room and stared down the hole.
"Are you sure you're okay?" asked a very concerned Anubis.
"Yes, I'm fine," answered Mia. She put a hand on his cheek and kissed the other. "Stop worrying about me."
"I just got here. Don't tell me to stop worrying now." He kissed her forehead. "Anything you want me to do?"
"I would like to finish my conversation with the guys."
"Okay." He got up and got the telephone. "Have you told them about me being here?"
"I was about to, but you sort of cut in." She punched her number in. "I think they suspect you're alive since then heard you."
"Just tell them that I'm alive and that I surprised you so much that you dropped the phone and it went dead, okay?"
"I know. I wasn't about to tell them that the Warlords turned against us and is working for some new Empress. They'll try to get up here as fast as they can."
"Why did you call me back, Empress?" Kale asked the form on the throne.
"You alone cannot take on any of the Ancient's Warriors," answered Tyra. She got up and walked up to the three Warlords. "You need time to harness enough power to at least stand against them. Right now, you are now match for five of them and this new power."
"What new power do you talk of Empress?" asked Dais.
"It is still weak but at points it gets very powerful. If it ever becomes mature, the three of you won't stand a chance."
"And you think that the girl Mia is the one that has this power?" asked Sekhmet.
"Every time she comes into the scene, the energy goes up. She doesn't know her powers yet, meaning we could still persuade her to our side. Doing so could mean the termination of the one resurrected."
"We are prepared to do what it takes, Empress," said Kale. She smiled.
"You can come out now," Royda said to the empty kitchen. "I know it was you they sensed and not Mia. There's no use hiding from me."
"I didn't expect to hide from you," said the ghost that materialized behind Royda. "And it wasn't me they sensed."
"You mean to tell me she's materializing with your powers. That's not very safe."
"I told you, I made sure she was worthy of my powers."
"By giving them to her? By endangering her life as well as his?"
"I would do anything to get him back just like she did! I wanted him dead, she wanted his alive! I wouldn't have thought you would help my own descendant get the man I love!"
"Can't you see that he doesn't see you in Mia. He sees Mia and Mia alone. Whether your powers are in her doesn't matter. I'm sorry to tell you this but you're dead to him."
"Just like that day." The ghost sat down on the table.
>1577. Feudal Japan.
"Are you ready?!" yelled a red-haired warrior in front of a group of men. They answered with a simultaneous yell of approval. The warrior smiled and surveyed the crowd.
A tent a few yards away from where the warrior stood was full of activity. A woman with brown hair and blue eyes was trying to get into a foot soldier's uniform. She tied her hair into a tight bun and put on her helmet. When she stepped out of the tent, the men had already disbanded into five groups.
Each group was headed by a woman warrior with long blue-black hair. Their horses danced under them while they counted the men. The disguised warrior slipped into one of the groups and was counted. Moments later, the group was marching for the front- line.
The red-haired warrior fought with a fierce attitude. He took down anybody that came between him and his straight line towards the other leader. He was busy fighting one enemy when another came up behind him. The disguised warrior stopped the killer before he could do anything.
"Good job," complimented the red-haired warrior.
"No problem, Shuten," answered the disguised warrior. The one called Shuten looked after her with a puzzled face. How did that warrior know his real name?
The warrior watched him barrel his way through the line. She was so busy watching him that a soldier struck her back and everything went black.
The woman woke up inside a tent surrounded by the blue-haired generals. The one with dark-blue eyes looked at her with disapproval while the others looked concerned. She tried to move and a sharp pain went through her skull.
"What did you think you were doing?" asked the one with blue eyes. She didn't look older than fifteen but asked questions like somebody twice her age.
"Aren't you going to ask me how I am?" answered the woman. She cradled her head in her hands.
"You can talk fine. I assume you're okay." The piercing blue of her eyes bore through the woman's head. "Now, what were you doing?"
"I was trying to help. I did save his life."
"Pat yourself on the back, but he was still taken. I thought you had more sense than that!"
"Don't talk to me like a child! I am older than you are Royda!"
"Common sense should have stopped you from doing that! There were many lives out there. His soul is now under Talpa's control!"
"I thought he was going after the other leader. Where were the five of you when he was being taken?"
Royda was stopped by a hand. The girl with one eye stepped forward and spoke for Royda.
"Royda was battling Tyra and the rest of us went looking for you."
"Why did you look for me? He was your first priority."
"He was, but your head was his. Talpa ordered him to kill you as his first mission. We got there just in time."
"Did he recognize me?"
"If he did, he didn't show it. Talpa pointed at a soldier and you happened to be the one. I'm sorry Nasuti, but he's gone."<
"Is that why you're trying to move into Mia's body? So you can have him again." Royda walked up to the ghost.
"He was suppose to be mine." Nasuti's eyes welled with tears.
"Listen to me. You might have been betrothed to him once, but that changes. Look at him and see if he isn't happy. He might have loved you at some point in time, but he loves somebody else. You have to let him go. You have to walk away this time."
The ghost looked at Royda. She nodded and Royda gave her a hug. Her solid but transparent form shuddered under the friendly squeeze. A sound came form the doorway and Nasuti vanished into thin air.
"I'm finished," Kishin announced.
"Then we head downstairs." Royda looked at the kitchen one last time and found the Ancient sitting next to Nasuti and comforting her. "I hope you feel better," she whispered.
"What?" Kishin looked back.
"What I don't get is why they want Mia and not Anubis?" asked Kala. All seven were sitting around a table in the back room. They had just finished cleaning the whole store and apartment and are now sitting down for lunch.
"Those Warlords have always been a bit short on screws," said Reva. "Maybe they thought that she had something special."
"She does," said a voice.
Everybody turned around and came face to face with Kayura in her kimono with the shakujo. She stood there a moment so everybody can register her presence.
"Kay!" Mira's excited voice broke the silence. She eagerly ran up to her as if she hadn't seen her for a long time.
The other girls walked up and greeted her while Anubis and Mia looked on. Royda didn't make any attempts to get up or acknowledge her sister's presence.
"Always the serious one, huh Royda?" Kayura walked up behind her.
"What are you doing here?" Royda said with an unemotional voice.
"To visit family. Apparently, they don't want to be visited so I guess it's time for business." Mira let go of Kayura's arm. The girls sat back down while Kayura walked to Mia.
"What happened to the others?" asked Anubis.
"Patience. I will answer all I can."