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      - By Korogi


      "No monument - no matter how magnificent - can stand rock-solid unless someone fortifies its foundation"
      - The mutant Legion of Stan Lee's 'X-men'

      Kayura and Kento landed in a storage closet in the hospital, Kento desperately trying to catch his breath quietly from the strain of teleporting two people. "This is perfect," Kayura smiled at Kento, grabbing a nurses uniform from a box . "Turn around," she ordered, removing the large straw hat and the tattered garb of the Ancient One.
      Kento obediently turned his back to Kayura as she got undresses, fidgeting slightly and surveying the boxes of medical supplies. He reached in to several, picking out a stethoscope and clipboard, and throwing on a discarded white lab coat with the name tag still on it. He turned and smiled widely like the picture on the name tag just as Kayura finished buttoning the short, white skirt.
      "What do you think?" she asked.
      Kento stared. The outfit was a bit too tight, showing off her voluptuous body. Kento was so used to seeing her in the Ancient One's attire. "Uh ... you look great! I mean good ... for a nurse."
      She leaned in and inspected the tag. Then looked back to him. "Sidigg Melesh?" she remarked at the picture of an East Indian.
      Kento shrugged. "Who cares. Let's go!" He popped a stethoscope around her neck and opened the door. They peaked up and down the hall. All clear.
      "First thing's first, we've got to get to the fourth floor," Kayura said, walking steadily by patients in wheel chairs and stray nurses. "That's where they've got Ryo and Sage."
      "Yeah, and probably half of South Town's police force guarding them."
      "I'll slip in like starlight through a window."
      "Oh ... yeah," Kento remarked, frowning lisghtly.
      They reached the elevator and entered, thankful to find no one in it and proceeded to the fourth floor.
      The elevator dinged four times and the doors opened out onto a busy corridor of nurses, doctors and security men. Kento tightened and Kayura nudged him in the back.
      "Just mingle and you'll be fine. And Kento ... don't stare at the nurses!"
      "Got ya!"
      They began a conversation, attempting to sound like they knew what they were talking about as they entered into the flow of the hospital staff.
      Down the hall, they could see two sets of armed guards, each guarding a doorway. Kento pulled her aside. "Ryo's in the first one, Sage is in the last one on the right."
      "Ok, you stay with Ryo, he's more stable ... I'll go get Sage."
      "Good idea." Kento pointed as one set of guards left from Ryo's door to stand in front of Sage's door.
      "Think you can pull this off?" Kento asked, worried.
      "Yes. Don't worry about me. I can cloud men's minds easily."
      "Oh, so that's why Rowen's so head over heals for you." He was met with a swift elbow. "Ow!"
      "Oh doctor!! Doctor!" Kento stiffened.
      He turned to see a nurse running down the hall towards him.
      "Just stay calm," Kayura whispered.
      "Doctor. Oh thank goodness. I just got a call that my sister's having a baby down at Kyoto General. Would you mind making my rounds for me?"
      "Sure!" Kento beamed. "Tell your sister congratulations, will ya?"
      "Thank you doctor!" and she turned and ran off.
      "See, that wasn't so hard," Kayura whispered.
      Kento paused by the hallís Rounds list and slowly took out the medical journal, opening it to glance down to the list.

PATIENT: Chun, Takani. 4 CC's morphine

PATIENT: Sukag, Mikinaki - change arm dressings.

      Kento groaned. "I'm gonna kill someone, I just know it!"
      "Look, Kento," she pointed. "Ryo's on your list! That makes our job a whole lot easier. Just remember what they do on those American trauma drama's!" and she turned and disappeared into the crowd.
      Kento groaned and calmed himself, checking off those on the list above Ryo before he started for the first set of guards.
      As he approached, they stood. "Can we help you, Doctor?"
      Kento held up the clipboard. "Just making my rounds," he said, smiling hugely like the picture and holding out the clipboard.
      "But Nurse Takenosha usually makes theses rounds." The armed guard eyed him cautiously.
      "Yeah, her sister's having a baby down at Kyoto General, so I said I'd do her rounds for her. Hope that's not a problem." Kento grinned goofily like the picture again.
      The guard leaned over and eyed the picture with the goofy smile, then Kento with the same goofy smile. "Not getting much sun, are we, Doctor ..." the guard struggled with the last name.
      "Melesh," he hoped he got it right.
      The guards stepped aside and opened the door for him. Kento let the door close quietly behind him and breathed a huge sigh of relief.
      The room was dim, several bouquets of flowers tucked neatly by the window. And in the center of the room lay Ryo, motionless on the bed. He looked dead, the only sign that Kenotís good buddy might still be alive was the heart monitor, jumping around the screen in sporadic movements. Kento checked the chart on the clipboard as he walked across the room to stand beside Ryoís bed, fumbling with the names on the list. "25 CC's di ... phen ... oh whatever! "
      "Don't even think about it, Kento," groaned the lump in the bed.
      Kento whirled around. "Ryo! You're alive!!" he tried not to scream.
      "Of course I'm alive, you dolt ... but I won't be for long if they've made you a doctor."
      "Hey! I watch ER and Rescue 9-1-1!"
      "Oh brother," Ryo groaned. He attempted to sit up a bit, wincing as pain shot all through his body. He gave up and collapsed back on his pillow. "Where's everyone?"
      "In jail," Kento answered simply.
      "Shh!!" he hushed. "The police arrested Mia, Rowen, Cye, me and Kayura in suspicion of trying to kill you two."
      "Two?" Ryo sat up quickly, disregarding the pain. "Sage!!!"
      Kento gave a pained look. "Yeah, buddy. He's not doing so well ... uh, he's dead, in fact."
      Ryo paled and collapsed back down to the pillows.
      "I'm sorry man. We tried, but Sarjenka got him before we could get there."
      "Sarjenka? She did this?"
      "You don't remember, dude?" Kento leaned in. "She turned you into a Popsicle! It's a good thing she doesn't know much about modern medicine, or you'd be six feet under with Anubis by now!"
      Ryo's face hardened as he struggled against emotions. He cursed himself for not being able to save his friends.
      Kento moved to the side of the bed and sat down. "We've just gotta wait until Kayura gets here."

      Kayura had found herself a clipboard and was reading over medical crap she couldn't possibly hope to understand. She walked past the first set of guards at Ryo's door, smiling and preceded onto the group of six guards outside Sage's room.
      They all stood as she approached, weapons held ready. "No one but Dr. Obari is allowed access into this room."
      "Oh, that's okay," she said, flashing a smile. "The stars shall all shine on your obedience to your duty." He held all six pairs of eyes. "Let me in the room, now," she demanded calmly.
      They all nodded slowly and moved away from the door, letting her enter. They waited until the door closed, then returned to their posts, as if nothing had happened.
      Once inside, Kayura took a deep breath and turned into the room, freezing at the horrific sight she saw. The doctor wasn't kidding, Sage WAS dead. He lay on the hospital bed, hooked up to every piece of equipment available. His lips were blue and his face had no color as she approached him.
      The heart monitor registered a barely beating heart ... the artificial respirator rose and fell rhythmically, forcing air into his lungs ... I.V and blood bags hung at perilous heights, forcing fluid into his system.
      Kayura turned her head from the sight of her friend. She felt tears beginning to well up and she forced herself to call upon the Ancient's staff. It blinked into existence, chiming silently in mourning as she bent down to feel Sage's forehead. He was deathly cold, and she jerked back quickly.
      She wrapped both hands around the staff, a piece of the Jewel of Life imbedded in the winged crest of the staff, and she began chanting.

      Kento nervously began to pace the room, certain that the guards would be checking on him shortly.
      "Kento, you're wearing a hole in the floor. Relax, Kayura will be here soon. I'll be fine if you need to take off."
      "No way, Ryo. I'm not about to leave you here defenseless with that lunatic ice cube-lady trying to collect our armors!"
      "Will you listen to yourself, Kento. You, of all people, should start getting control. It's up to you guys to stop this lady before she kills anyone else ... like Mia or Yuli!"
      "Ryo! I..."
      "Dr?" came a call to the door. "Everything okay in there?"
      "Yes, thank you," Kento called back, throwing calmness into his voice. "I'm almost done."
      "You've been in there for ten minutes, Doctor."
      Kento cursed under his breath. "I'll be out in a few minutes," he said more sternly.
      "Oh you'll be out alright," came an eerily familiar voice from behind him. "Just maybe not alive."
      Kento whirled around to see Sarjenka sitting nauseatingly comfortable in the windowsill, smelling some of Ryo's flowers. The flower became rigid in her hand as she sniffed it, and she let it fall. The poise hit the floor and shattered into a million frozen pieces.
      Kento donned his sub-armor and placed himself between her and Ryo.
      She glared past his shoulder at Ryo and smirked. "I thought I killed you, fire boy! No matter..." she pushed herself off the sill and landed quietly on the tile floor.
      "You take one more step towards Ryo ... " Kento snarled.
      Sarjenka mockingly stepped forward, challenging his words. "I'm getting tired of saying this ... but if you give up your armor, I won't kill you," she said impatiently.
      Kento clenched his fists. "Not on your life, Sarjenka."
      She sighed raised a fist. "Armor of Kryos ... Tao-Uragiri"
      Kento stood back ... she had a virtue ... betrayal ... and he watched wide eyed as the armor appeared on her, but with a different twist. She wore armor on her shins now, brilliant red, and possessing the crest of Wildfire - and in her hand, Sage's Halo Sword, held menacingly out before her.
      She lowered the sword. "Come on, I'm tired of this! Give me the Armor of Hardrock and I'll let you and Ryo live."
      "Don't do it, Kento!" Ryo managed, pushing himself out of the hospital bed.
      "Ryo, I can handle this!!" Kento yelled. He reached behind his back and produced his armor crystal, glowing bright orange.
      "Kento! No!"
      Kento held the crystal out. "Take it and get the hell out of here!!"
      Sarjenka smiled widely, taking the crystal from him. "I'm glad to see at least one of the Jin warriors has some sense in him."
      Ryo pushed himself out of the hospital bed and stumbled across the room. "I'm going to kill you with my bare hands," he growled.
      "Not likely." She paused and let Ryo come clumsily at her, then turned to Kento. "I thought you were in prison, darlin'."
      Kento threw her a look as Ryo grabbed onto her shoulder. She looked over at him, seeing the pain of his wounds in his eyes. "What are you trying to do, Wildfire? You couldn't kill a spider in your condition." He threw a clenched fist and she easily blocked it. "I admire your bravery, but my work here is done."
      "Not hardly," Kento yelled. "Armor of Hardrock! Tao-Gi!!"
      "What!! How did you ... " The Armor orb exploded in her handÖ

      The guard looked down at his watch. "I'm going in there. That doctor's been in there way too long." He reached up to the knob just as a huge clap of thunder rang through the hospital corridors. The two guards drew their weapons and burst into the room, finding two people in armor, and the patient Ryo laying in a crumpled heap on the floor.
      "Freeze!!" one guard yelled.
      "Good idea!" Sarjenka countered.
      "Not so fast!! Ironrock Crusher!!" The whole room shook and the floor began to give way.
      "Hardrock, you fool! You bring this place down on everyone here!!" Sarjenka called upon her armor and grabbed Kento, throwing him out the window.
      He landed roughly four stories below, cutting a deep trench through the earth on the hospitalís front lawn. He quickly stood up as Sarjenka met with the ground gracefully in front of him. "Was that supposed to hurt?" he asked, mockingly.

      Kayura did not hear the thunder of Kento's armor breaking stasis. She was deep in concentration, projecting herself into Sage's mind.
      She found herself in the dark ... literally ... and chimed the staff to glow with a brilliance that lit the cavern she found herself in.
      Kayura looked around, wondering where the hell she was ... and a portion of Mia's poem came to mind:

      Darkest prison sheds the light ...

      "Sage!!" she called out, listening to her voice echo throughout the cavern.
      She waited, but her only response was her echo.
      "SAGE!! Can you hear me!!!"
      "Lady Kayura?"
      She whirled about to stare into the darkness. The voice was not Sage's, but it seemed ghostly familiar. "Who's there?"
      "Lady Kayura?" She stared off into the darkness and caught a glimpse of a faint, yellow glow burning off in the distance through the devouring darkness. She walked toward it, and the closer she got to it, she realized what the glow was. It was the symbol of Chu, the symbol of Loyalty.
      "Anubis??!!" she called into the darkness, and began to run toward the yellow glow. It grew brighter as she ran, illuminating the entire cavern and the face of her dead ancestor. "Anubis!!!"
      He held his arms open and she ran to him, throwing herself at him and wrapping her arms tightly about his neck. She recognized the sweet smell of his red hair as she buried her face in it and wept. "Anubis ... " she sobbed and he held her closer.
      "It's okay, child," he soothed and rocked her in his arms like a father to his daughter. "It's okay," he repeated, softer now, as she began to stop crying.
      She drew back and looked into his face, the Loyalty kanji glowing bright yellow on his forehead. "I thought I'd never see you again."
      "I would always be with you all in spirit," he said, a smile coming to his face.
      Her smile turned tragic. "Something terrible is happening," she said, choked.
      "I know. Halo has been fading in and out of this plane of existence, and I can not revive him."
      "Where is he?"
      Anubis raised a finger to where Sage lay, curled in a shuttering ball on a dark slab of rock. "I can not help him."
      Kayura gave the staff over to Anubis and rushed to Sage's side. "Sage," she shook him. "Sage, it's me, Kayura. You have to hold on so we can get you back!!"

      Kento reeled from the blow, blood trickling from his nose as a crowd of curious on-lookers gathered.
      Sarjenka, in her stolen armor, laughed openly. "This is fun, you're actually a challenge, Child of the Earth. A pity that you have to join your friend Sage in Jigoku for all eternity."
      "That's a lie you bitch!!" he yelled. He brought his staff above his head and began to twirl it. "Ironrock... "
      "With all these innocent people around?"
      Kento paused. She was right. Instead he swung with all his might, only to meet the Halo Sword, the two canceling each other out.
      "Quite ironic, isn't it, Hardrock. You can't hurt me because you can't inflict damage on the other Ronin armors ... but I can beat down your defenses with your own friends merged with my Armor of Kryos." She raised the Halo Sword above her head and began to lash violently through the air. "Thunderbolt Fire Blizzard!!"
      An enormous boom shook the ground, splitting the earth under his feet. Kento sprawled back to see flaming snow rain down on him, burning through his armor down to the bone. Kento screamed in pain as he felt the full force of her armor merged with Halo and Wildfire, mercilessly ripping his armor from his body. As it broke, it shattered ... only to reform as the Armor of Hardrock, standing in a silent vigil aside from Sarjenka. Kento was elevated to a new level of pain ... and then his blood ran cold and he ceased all movement, thick ice forming over him, freeing his body to death.
      "Well, at least I got a little practice." She smiled and sheathed the Halo sword behind her back. She turned to the silent, empty armor beside her. Hardrock!" she ordered to the armor. It dissolved and joined with her existing armor, orange wrist bands wrapping around her wrists. She looked around and let her eyes move up to the broken hospital window four floors up, and jumped.

      The glass clattered to the floor beside Ryo as he struggled to his feet, only to find a stronger Sarjenka looking down at him, nodding her head slowly. "Ryo, dear Ryo ... " she said and made a move to grab him by the throat.
      "Black Lightning Slash!!"
      Sarjenka turned quickly to be thrown back through the wall of the hospital by a dark lightning bolt, landing roughly on the ground beside the dead Kento. If she had not merged Hardrocks armor with her, the fall would quite possibly put her under, but she managed to struggle to her feet. Her left arm stung painfully where Sekmet had landed a poisoned strike. "Bastard," she called to herself, and disappeared into thin air.
      Doctors crowded around Kento, frantically trying CPR. "Doctor, we lost the pulse!!"

On to Chapter 5