Shop Mobile More Submit  Join Login
About Deviant Premium Member SondreiaFemale/United States Groups :iconninjagostoryclub: NinjagoStoryClub
 
Recent Activity
Deviant for 2 Years
1 Month Premium Membership
Statistics 167 Deviations 1,180 Comments 17,740 Pageviews

Ninjago Series Inspirations


Flash Player 8 is required to view SitBack. Get the latest version of Flash Player.
I receive my inspirations from so many different sources, some you may not understand how, but here they are. :)

Newest Deviations

Heisuke Toudou! ONE FINE BISHONEN!

Visitors

:iconalways4evershadamy:
always4evershadamy
Feb 18, 2015
4:15 pm
:iconspikesgamer:
SpikesGamer
Feb 17, 2015
6:41 pm
:iconlidygarmadon:
LidyGarmadon
Feb 16, 2015
11:23 am
:iconnerdygurl157:
Nerdygurl157
Feb 15, 2015
6:03 pm
:iconastroelementz:
AstroElementz
Feb 15, 2015
11:08 am

Key Locations in Ninjago along with Chosen Themes

Some of the locations are actual locations in Ninjago while others are strictly fictional. The themes that I have chosen for these places are for my own enjoyment and inspiration and belong to their respected creators. Please enjoy!!

Sasha's hometown: Poseidonia www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQhtMP… or if link doesn't work Final Fantasy 7 ost Costa De Sol

Kai and Nya's hometown: Ignacia *real location* www.youtube.com/watch?v=gV-ex7… starting from 0:55 and loops (couldn't find the title of said song)

Jay's home in the Sea of Sand *real location* www.youtube.com/watch?v=pl_9EJ… or if link doesn't work Ratchet and Clank 2 ost Tabora Mining Area

Cole's hometown: Temblor www.youtube.com/watch?v=6mn_PI… or if link doesn't work Assasin's Creed 2 ost Home in Florence

Ebony's hometown: Twilight City www.youtube.com/watch?v=v4eN6y… or if link doesn't work Kingdom Hearts 2 ost Sacred Moon

Zane's birthplace: laboratory (located in Birchwood Forest east of Malcalania Forest) www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Yzcc0… or if link doesn't work Final Fantasy 8 ost Find your Way

Dominique's hometown: Ninjago City *actual location* www.youtube.com/watch?v=FQMiQZ… or if link doesn't work Kingdom Hearts ost Traverse Town

Ayane's hometown: Shika www.youtube.com/watch?v=8qXX6o… or if link doesn't work Final Fantasy 10 ost Servants of the Mountain

The Destiny's Bounty: www.youtube.com/watch?v=ld8t8o… or if link doesn't work Ninja Gaiden ost Monastery Destroyed

The Forest of Ramza: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fwkjz-… or if link doesn't work Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time Forest Temple

Music is one of my most inspirational sources to go to for my fanfiction. I hope you've enjoyed these fine tunes and I'll probably add a few more down the line once more locations are revealed. :D

Journal History

Groups

Activity


Genesis Poll! Cast Your Vote Now At FFN Only!

Journal Entry: Fri Mar 27, 2015, 11:51 AM

Now, I'm going to make this as short as possible, but I feel I need to consult with you all about something. In the original rough draft of this series, there was a book entitled: "Genesis" which I had planned to come after the book entitled: "The Catalyst". The plot for "Genesis" was to be told entirely by the Serpentine generals, King Skales, and the female OCs that would join Genesis and become their mates. The reason why this book got scrapped was because I thought that no one would take interest in an entire book where the Ninja and Kunoichi make no appearances. But my two betas have brought it to my attention that the book could possibly bring in a wider range of readers who like the Serpentine and want to hear their side of the story. So, I've decided to leave it to votes. Please go to my profile on Fanfiction.net and cast your vote on whether or not you would like for me to reinstate the book entitled: "Genesis" or just omit it and have it be casted as one of those "behind the scenes" things and let the story unfold with just the Ninja and Kunoichi at the helm.

Now, if you DO want "Genesis" to be reinstated into Trials and Tribulations then I would like to ask for a little help. Please give me some female OCs! And these OCs have to have tragic and depressing backgrounds, enough so that they have a reason to join "Genesis" and want to start a new life. In these character sheets and bios, I ask that these young women be 17 years or older. And please, do not be shy of details and descriptions. These are YOUR OCs, and if I decide to use them then you will receive full credit for your character and best regards from me. And if you want, you can even include which Serpentine you wish for your OC to be paired with. I will list them now just in case anyone forgot their names: King Skales (Hypnobrai), General Acidicus (Venomari), General Fangtom (Fangpyre), and newly appointed general, after Skalidor's demise, General Bytor (Constrictai). Please feel free to share your ideas for "Genesis" too. If you have any special instructions for me on how you would like your OC and chosen Serpentine to get together, then please don't hesitate to include those prompts as well. Lookin' forward to hearing from you guys!

PLEASE SHOW YOUR SUPPORT FOR MY SERIES BY FAVING AND COMMENTING!

P.S. 

Those of you who are wondering how my pictures are coming along, I'm just waiting for Sasha's and Dominique's portraits now! I know they are taking some time, but I've been very particular about how I want my OC's depicted. But no worries, they will be uploaded here on DA soon enough!



  • Mood: Rage
  • Listening to: Disturbed....Can you blame me...
  • Reading: Seekers: The River of Lost Bears
  • Watching: Seinfeld
  • Playing: Devil May Cry....Again, can you blame me...
  • Eating: Chicken
  • Drinking: Mountain Dew
Ayane's earlier speculation proved to be true, for the black showers lasted only an hour more before they retreated completely, back to the diabolical Kraken from whence they came. And the dissipation of the Kraken's dark influence was like the coming of a new dawn. When Old Verdant's leaves parted and allowed the first rays of sunshine to dapple over us, the forest came alive instantly.

The light-hearted chirping of birdsongs fluttered through the air and the busy buzzing of insects filled our ears. We had even witnessed a family of flying squirrels gliding from branch to branch in order to harvest a few of Old Verdant's acorns.

It was a truly tranquil event and nothing made me happier than to see the beautiful shine radiate from Ayane's eyes. However, we couldn't forget why we were in the forest in the first place. There is a mission, and from Cole's message that I received twenty minutes ago, we were reminded of that important fact.

"Alright, boys! Just ignore the lingering humidity from the black showers and let's bag us some nice fat water bucks and whatever else we can find out here!"

An older gentleman with a scruffy graying beard and an overall unpleasant expression shouts huffy orders to his fellow cavaliers as they travel by horseback on the mudded trail from Monsoon. The mounted men adjust the straps on their rifles and look somewhat lazily ahead at the open forest road.

"Not a very big hunting party," Ayane observes in a quiet whisper. "The old guy's playing point, two manning the caravan, four on flanks, and one rearguard."

I look at her as her brow knits in concentration, her mask firmly back in place. "Only one rearguard? That's kinda sloppy…"

"Not as thorough as the Hunting Pack?" I ask curiously and she shakes her head.

"Not even close," she murmurs. "The flanking formation is too loose regardless of them being on horseback, and unless that one rearguard is an impeccable shot and astute observer—which I doubt he is--then two or even three rearguards are needed to cover blind spots. Uncle Dai wouldn't like this at all if he was in charge here…"

Ayane's sharp two-toned eyes rove over the hunting party once more before focusing on me. "We better keep an eye on these guys, Zane. Something doesn't feel right… They shouldn't be this disorganized."

I concur with a nod and together, we proceed with shadowing the caravan. The posse soon heads into a wide and beautiful glade and stops. The older gentleman swerves his horse around and addresses his men with a frown.

"Okay, this here's the spot so time to fan-out! And none of y'all better come back empty-handed! Move!"

At once, the gathered men chorus their vigor—which I notice Ayane rolls her eyes at—and disperse into two groups, both heading in opposite directions back into the thick of the forest. The older gentleman stays behind and looks to the two men stationed atop the caravan.

"Guard duty. Y'all know the drill, so stay put." The older gentleman then gathers his reigns, but one of the other two men calls out to him.

"One moment, Montgomery sir," he says with a smirk, and I have to cock an eyebrow at the emphasis and snickering that follows. "Steve and I were just wondering if maybe we can get on with it. I mean, do we really have to watch this pile of crap until the others get back?" He asks, jutting a thumb behind him at the caravan's cargo hold.

"Yeah, ya do. Hole's gettin' full, have to scout around for a good place to dig a new one." He glares at the two men pointedly. "So we don't need that thing clankerin' about makin' trouble for the others."

The two men laugh. "Come now, you can cut the hillbilly act—"

"Silence fools!" The one called Montgomery shouts belligerently and jerks on the reigns, causing the animal to whinny. And the two men fall instantly silent and pale-faced, which is a feat in itself considering how pale they already are.

I watch closely as Montgomery bares his teeth. "No screw-ups," he hisses. "Now do your jobs!" And with that, he gallops off, heading north and down a winding path.

Ayane settles down beside me. "Zane, did you hear that? Something's up," she whispers.

"Yes," I reply softly. "But what?"

"The caravan's obviously important, but what about what Montgomery said? What did he mean by: "Hole's gettin' full…" What hole?"

"That is the question, isn't it? But what is also moot, is the very demeanor of the men. Montgomery is putting on an "act"? What could that mean? From our past experiences, Hypnobrai hypnotism doesn't work this way."

I push down on the branch of leaves in front of me to better view the caravan. "Ayane, hunting caravans are normal, yes?"

"Oui, in most cases. Caravans are mainly used to pack extra ammo, supplies, and killed game. The only reason we Shikians don't use them is because there's an ancient law that each and every Village Chief must abide by. And that is that no man-made architecture may be built on or run through Asuta Jingu. Which, of course, means no roads."

"I see. Or incur the wrath of Lady Amaterasu?"

"Oui," she responds simply.

"Hmm…" I scrutinize the caravan and watch as the two men talk idly amongst themselves. The indolent way they conduct their duties is shameful by any standards, and it's obvious that the "pile of crap" they are guarding has no real value to them. "I do not believe such valuables are inside this particular caravan, my dear."

"Yeah, I don't either," she replies, unsheathing her platinum recurve bow from her back. "I may not have a sixth sense like you, but I have my other senses. This forest has a surplus of game, so why haven't any of these so-called hunters returned yet to unload? And notice how we haven't heard one gunshot? Are they having trouble tracking or something? Seems unlikely, unless these guys are just that inept."

I quietly summon my golden shurikens. "Our primary objective shall be discovering the true contents of this caravan here, and then we can track down Montgomery, but before we incapacitate these men, let's listen for a moment. The information we uncover may be of use."

Ayane nods and we stay crouched low on a verdant tree's branch overlooking the clearing, our ears keen and perked on the voices below us.

One man, presumably named "Steve", slouches down in his seat and folds his arms behind his head. "Wonder what has ol' Monty's panties twisted in a bunch. Wouldn't kill the old reptile to relax a bit, everything's fine."

"Oh, you didn't hear?" The other man—let us dub him "Smirks"—smirks and cuts a conniving eye towards his colleague. "Two strangers—a man and a woman—checked into the B&B early this morning," he says, retrieving a pack of cigarettes from his coat pocket.

"So what?" Steve shrugs. "Strangers check in at the B&B all the time."

"Nu-uh, see…" Smirks shoves a cigarette in his mouth and lets it dangle, then points the pack in a random direction. "Monty says that there's a familiar smell about them." His eyebrows lift expectantly. "They could be…Ninja."

Ayane inhales a soft gasp and my eyes narrow in suspicion, unconsciously grasping my shurikens a little tighter.

Steve sits up straighter. "Could be? Everyone has the Ninja's scents, so how come he doesn't know for sure?"

Smirks lights the butt of his whiter cylinder with a match and takes a few idle puffs before answering. "Well, our senses are dulled when we take human form. He doesn't want to make a move without certainty." He tosses his pack to Steve who simply pockets it for him. "I know what Fang-Suei is doing," Smirks continues, white wisps exiting his lips with every word. "He wants to impress Fangtom in hopes of replacing Fangdam. That's why he volunteered to be the head in this experiment."

"Well then we better follow his orders," Steve chimes in excitedly. "If he gets promoted to Lieutenant, we could get promoted too!"

"Zane."

"Not yet, Ayane." I reach over to place my hand on her shoulder to keep her from readying her bow. The muscles underneath my gloved-hand are taut, she's angry, which is understandable. However, we need as much information we can get if we are to counter successfully with a coup d'état.

These two men below us are Serpentine, as well as Montgomery, and most likely the rest of the caravan. But…how many more? Does the entire village of Monsoon consist of transformed Serpentine? Are Sasha and Cole in the metaphorical belly-of-the-beast as we speak? And furthermore, how did the Serpentine acquire this power? If memory serves, none of the tribes had this capability.

So then…how?

"Victory to the Serpentine!" Steve hurrahs joyfully.

"You mean victory to the Fangpyre," Smirks corrects, wearing his namesake. Steve looks to him curiously and Smirks rolls his eyes. "Listen genius, we Fangpyre are the only ones with the means to transform into humans because of the splicing of our vampire genes during the mutation executions that occurred a month ago. If the experiment here in Monsoon proves a complete success, our tribe could be the pioneers in helping with the conquest of Ninjago!"

"Then we Fangpyre are on our way up to the top!?" Steve's eyes exude a hopeful twinkle and Smirks claps a hand on his shoulder.

"You bet we are little brother!" He cheers, then removes his cigarette from his mouth and holds it between two fingers. "But that's not all," he grins wickedly. "Did you hear about the proposal General Fangtom gave to King Skales?"

At Steve's rapid shake of the head, Smirks continues with a laugh. "We may have our females yet! You see, our cunning general had taken it upon himself to start studying human behavior. And he has found out that not all humans are the happy-go-lucky twits we have known them to be. He has seen the hopelessness and depression that some humans face in their lives. And those humans are looking for a way out, particularly the females."

Smirks' grin turns most predatory and I watch with growing repulsion as his pupils constrict into fine slits, revealing the contemptible reptile within. "Dear brother, our females will come to us voluntarily. No kidnapping or hypnotism required. We will offer them a way out from their pitiful human lives and give them a chance to start a new beginning, a rebirth! Why, General Fangtom has already put the wheels in motion. He has taken the DNA of a powerful human government official and founded an organization dedicated to helping despondent and lonely human females. He has called it…Genesis."

"Then…" Steve's mouth falls agape in shock momentarily before realization dawns and he perceptibly swallows. "Not just the generals will be able to have mates, but…everyone," he ends with awe.

Smirks laughs again. "Precisely! Think how fast our numbers would expand then! The world's surface would be littered with Serpentine eggs in no time! And get this! King Skales was so enamored with the idea that he immediately made General Fangtom his right-hand! Hahahahaha!"

"My god… Oh my god…" Ayane's strained whisper diverts my attention to her and I observe worriedly as she covers her mouth with a trembling hand, her eyes wide and disbelieving. "Zane… Zane…"

I immediately react and grip her shoulders the best I can while still holding onto my shurikens. I turn her to face me instead of the two vilely disguised Fangpyre. "Do not despair, Ayane. We will find a way to stop them. You have to believe that!" I say in an urgent whisper.

Thankfully my words reach her and she nods her head. "I do… I do, Zane. It's just…" She peers desperately at me, her eyes portraying both rage and melancholy. "They plan on taking advantage of despondent women! It's despicable!"

I nod grimly and switch my gaze briefly back to the celebratory duo in the clearing before focusing calmly on Ayane once more. "We will take care of the ones here, and then we shall find the ones they replaced and return them to their homes."

"Yeah, but where could they be? Where did the Serpentine hide them?" She asks fretfully. I know she's anxious to take action, to right the wrongs of our enemies, but I try my best to keep her calm.

"Shhh, let us continue to listen. They may leak something else."

Ayane's gaze hardens in resolve and I eye her critically. What was once a simple incapacitation of two incompetent humans has been rightfully reversed. It is obvious we will have to slay these two morphed Fangpyre, but before we play the Grim Reapers, we will heed more of their rambunctious chatter.

"But brother, isn't the experiment already a complete success?!" Steve suddenly exclaims. "I mean, look at us! When we absorb a human's DNA, we absorb their memories and personality traits too! Infiltration was child's-play! Plus, we can revert back to our original forms whenever we want to!"

Puffing one last time on his now diminutive cigarette, Smirks flicks away the extinguished butt and regards his fellow snake with a surprisingly somber expression. "Unfortunately no. Haven't you noticed the annoying drawbacks to doing this? We can only absorb the DNA of human adult males, and the fact that we kill them by doing so is another bothersome setback since we have to dispose of the bodies discreetly." He sighs and shakes his head ruefully as grief from my EF pierces my CPU.

No…

"So annoying…" Smirks sighs, but soon gets over his lapse of aggravation and smiles gleefully. "As for the women and children, all the men are history now, so I wouldn't be surprised if we're given the order to kill them off soon."

At that exact moment, I feel a sudden rush of wind and see the disturbed rustling of leaves, and come to realize with alarm that Ayane is no longer by my side.

"Ayane!" Without hesitation, I leap from my perch and up into the open air just in time to see her release a single holy projectile during her descent. The beam of light pierces the side of Smirks' skull before he can turn, and the concentrated power behind the shot results in instant decapitation. Dark green blood gushes from the massive neck wound and splatters messily onto the fallen snake's younger brother.

Immediate rage and resentment shadows over Steve's face, and his human façade is promptly dropped as he reverts back into his Fangpyre form. Ayane lands atop of the wooden roof of the caravan before I do and moves forward to engage the enraged Serpentine as he jumps from his seat.

"FILTHY NINJA-GYAHH!"

I join the pair with my shurikens held at the ready, but halt my assault at the Fangpyre's guttural cry. Ayane had utilized the spiked nock on her bow's tip to impale the snake through the stomach mid-charge. With one arm outstretched, Ayane grips her weapon strongly and keeps the Fangpyre's futile attacks at bay. Green blood gathers and drips from our foe's red maw as he stubbornly tries to push forward despite his mortal wound, claws and fangs swiping and snapping wildly at the air.

The struggle lasts only a moment more before a steady ray of light erects from the Fangpyre's back, effectively skewering him. The reptile's body falls limp with nary a growl and Ayane retracts her weapon. She breathes heavily, her shoulders rising and falling with each breath as she stands over the enemy.

"By Amaterasu's light, we cannot let this happen, Zane," she growls shakily. "We just can't."

"I know, Ayane," I say quietly. Just then, my senses prick and I rush to push Ayane forward and off the side of caravan to the ground. The first gunshot since we've been here rings out harmlessly into the atmosphere as we take cover behind the side of the planked transport.

The thundering of hooves snaps my attention and I take into account that the caravan's horses were now loose and running amok, scattering and disappearing into the surrounding forest.

Hmm, they must've been freed after Ayane's killing blow to the first Fangpyre. The trajectory did align with the bolt latch that held them to the caravan. My dear, you definitely have remarkable aim.

"Eight flankers and one rearguard, Zane!" Ayane yells informatively, another divine arrow already cocked along the ethereal string of her bow.

Two mounted men soon gallop into the clearing right in my line of sight and I throw both of my shurikens before either of them can lift their rifles to fire. My spinning blades slice cleanly through their jugulars and dark green blood gushes from their necks as they fall from their horses and tumble to the ground.

Only seven left now…

"Idiots! Fight smart! We have the advantage! We have the guns!" I hear one of the men roar from the opposite side of the clearing. More clops of hooves sound from the other side and a cacophony of voices engulf the air.

"How many are there?!"

"They killed four of us already?!"

"Bring their heads to General Fangtom!"

"Send a message to Fang-Suei!"

"Call for reinforcements!"

I frown darkly behind my hood and catch my shurikens without looking as I sense them sail back to me. I look to the surrounding forest quickly then turn to Ayane. "We can utilize the density of the forest to our advantage if we fallback. They will not be able to aim well in there."

Ayane's eyes are distant and slightly fearful. She looks about herself in a confused manner. "Zane…" she says warily and turns her nose upward, "…do you smell that?"

My eyebrow lifts at her unorthodox statement and I lean against the side of the caravan to chance a peek around the corner. The transformed Fangpyre are all on horseback, some stationary while others trotted about, but all are still shouting their differing opinions at once.

Oh yes, such stellar organization…pathetic…

But what is slightly troubling, is that I only count six not seven. Is the one unaccounted for on his way back to Monsoon to report the situation and bring back reinforcements? If that's the case then we cannot possibly stay here for long. We'll have to rout the enemy quickly, inform Sasha and Cole to abort their mission, and get out of here to return to the Destiny's Bounty.

I am pulled from my ponderings by Ayane's literal pull to my arm.

"Zane, get away from there!" Her whisper is strict and urgent, and she pulls me as far from the caravan as possible while still utilizing it as a shield.

"What is the matter, Ayane?" I ask, somewhat startled. Her vexation is apparent, and I sense that it has nothing to do with our enemies on the opposite side of the glade.

"Zane, don't tell me you don't smell that horrendous stench coming from the caravan?"

Perplexed but willing to placate her, I sniff the air experimentally. My eyes widen, however, when I catch the putrid odor wafting from our enlarged wooden defense.

I peer at the transport inquisitively with more than a little distain. "It smells like…rotting flesh…"

Time itself seems to slow as all the information we've learned thus far comes together like pieces of a puzzle. And they form one tragic picture.

"They said they…needed to dispose of the bodies…discreetly," Ayane mutters sadly. "Zane…how big do you think that hole is? How many men did the Fangpyre kill?"

"Seeing is believing," I say lowly. "At the moment, we only have partial evidence. Thus it goes without saying that we need to open these caravan doors and find out what exactly lies within. But first…"

I meet Ayane's eyes and she nods firmly. We have to put aside our emotions for now and deal with our current situation. She tilts her head back and I follow her gaze skyward. The sun shines brightly overhead, making one believe that the black showers never tormented the heavens a mere hour ago and a half ago.

"We won't need the forest to protect us…" She says and lifts her platinum bow, the silvery nuance of the weapon majestically catching the sunlight. "I'll simply remove their sense of sight completely. Then we'll see how good a shot they are."

I watch with amazement as her body begins to pulsate with white and gold light. She looks at me. "Better cover those beautiful eyes of yours for a few seconds, Zane. You'll know when to make your move."

"Very well, let us do away with these fiends then."

Wasting no time, Ayane jumps high into the air and I shield my eyes as instructed. I soon hear one of the transformed Fangpyre shout.

"There's one! Shoot her down now!"

"Solar Flare!"

Ayane's powerful shout echoes throughout the clearing and the Fangpyre scream their dismay as a deafening sound of shimmering pierces the heavens.

"THAT LIGHT!"

"AAARRGGHHH! MY EYES! I'M BLIND!"

That's my cue!

Snapping my eyes open, I whirl around the caravan just in time to see multiple Fangpyre being thrown from their horses. Only two manage to stay on their panicked steeds, but those who don't, I target first. Striking vital areas of the body ensure a quick death…so that's my course of action. Keeping my shurikens in hand, I set their blades spinning and charge the recovering Fangpyre. Their discombobulating demeanor works well in my favor as they more or less stumble into my attacks.

I let my weapons slash through flesh and bone as they were meant to as I spin from one foe to the next, my body encased in ice, snow, and blades. The cocking of a readying clip distracts my attention, and not taking any chances, I steer the last standing Fangpyre in front of me and effectively use him as a human shield—well, snake shield technically—and a loud *BANG* cracks from a barrel.

Green blood splashes heavily on the front of my hood as the blind and vehement rifleman shoots his ally square in the face. An instant fatality.

"Did I get 'em!?" The mounted snake smirks, eyes white with blindness.

"Oh yes," I snarl, dropping the now lifeless corpse to my feet. "I would say you most certainly did. And now…"

An arrow imbued with holy light pierces the smirking Fangpyre right through his left eye, and he too falls from his mount and to my feet. "We got you," I finish coldly and look about me for anymore enemies.

Spotting none, only the fallen six, I turn to Ayane as she leaps off the roof of the caravan.

"Idiot," she growls, eyeing the snake that fell last with utter contempt. "Why risk shooting, when you can't even see?" She then jogs up to me. "Are you alright, Zane?" She asks worriedly and pulls back my soiled hood. Her fingers gently wipe away some of the blood that had managed to smear my skin.

"Yes, I am fine," I reply easily, dispelling my weapons. "However, we must move quickly. The seventh Fangpyre unaccounted for troubles me. We are not safe here."

She nods solemnly and uses the back of her hand to wipe her brow free of perspiration. "Then…let's get these doors open."

"Yes." I know we have both resigned ourselves to see the worst. But, given how emotional and pure Ayane is, a part of me wishes to preserve that purity and spare her any heartache that would surely come from seeing innocent people slain. I touch her shoulder lightly to stay her from stepping towards the possibly enormous casket. "Ayane, you can wait here if you want," I say softly. "I can check the caravan alone."

Her shoulders stiffen and she shakes her head sharply. "No Zane, I have to see. Besides…" she turns her head and glances up at me over her shoulder, the lovely shade of mint green gleams with a quiet strength, "…it's much too late to protect me from the harshness of reality."

I sigh as she steps out of my grasp. "Let's go."

The wooden doors to the caravan are bolted shut with the assistance of a simple padlock. And summoning a meager iota of my power, I deftly finger a single ice needle and use it to manipulate the uncomplicated mechanism within. I keep my features blank as the stench of decomposition drifts through the small lines of the wooden planks, and when the lock falls and the doors open with a decrepit creak, the smell of death and decay hits me full-force and seems to seep into the very fabric of my robes.

And the sight…hammers the metaphorical nail in the coffin.

Men's bodies—old and young—completely fill the interior of the caravan. They were carelessly stacked on top each other, the Serpentine showing as much care for the corpses as one would show to stones. Entry wounds consist of quarter-sized puncture holes on the side of the neck, no doubt made from the bite of a Fangpyre. And dried and crusted blood stained a trail down the insipid columns, proving conclusively of just how severe the bites were.

Flies fly about as maggots crawl through ears and mouths. The disgusting macabre is almost more than I can bear, and if I'm having trouble coping then…

I'm unexpectedly shoved aside by Ayane, but I right myself quickly at seeing her frantically close the doors of the caravan. Her entire frame shakes with violent tremors and her breath comes out as ragged pants.

She wraps her arms around herself and closes her eyes tight, taking several tumultuous steps back. "No, no, no… How could they? How could they do this?"

"Ayane…" I am already moving towards her when I sense it…the unmistakable prick of danger. My eyes shift to the right, and that's when I see him. Montgomery. In the shadow of the trees, mounted on a gray stallion. His lips twist into a sneer as he raises his rifle to take aim, and a crimson forked-tongue darts out as he cocks the clip.

Panic and desperation seizes me by the throat and I shout Ayane's name as I run to her. But…I am too far away…for some reason, I am just too far away…

*BANG!*

My vision turns red as I watch Ayane's blood burst from a hole in her shoulder like a geyser, the bullet tearing through her flesh effortlessly. And when she falls forward to her knees, rage soon sinks its teeth in me and something inside my circuitry snaps…and as a result…I see red for an entirely different reason. Gritting my teeth, I reroute myself towards the transformed Fangpyre. Montgomery—no, Fang-suei—has already reverted to his original form when he launches himself from his horse, meeting my charge with both heads' fangs gaping wide and claws outstretched.

We fall hard to the ground as he lands on me. I deflect the slashing of claws with an elbow and land a well-timed haymaker on one of the attacking heads, causing the jaw to fracture and be knocked back by the force of the blow.

Dark green blood sprays my face, but I know the red and white serpent is far from finished. A flash of claws has the right side of my face stinging with pain, but my agony is promptly replaced by fury and my element agrees wholeheartedly with me. Sub-zero temperature fills my hands and I grip both clawed-hands tight when they make a swing for my face again.

I let the frigid coldness exude from my appendages and instantly freeze the claws in my hand.

"Huh?! NO!"

All the way up his arms, my ice travels, until both are frozen and locked with mine. Sensing the direness of his situation, Fang-suei lunges forward, fangs prepared to deal a blow, but I react faster and use the strength in my legs to kick his body off me.

His frozen arms separate from his torso and Fang-suei screams in rage as he's flung backward onto the grass. I get to my feet hastily and he gets to his just as quick. Still holding his glaciered limbs, I walk calmly towards him as he scowls at me. Stopping just a few feet away, I strengthen my grip and pulverize the arms into dozens of crystal shards. I dust the last remaining flecks of chilled snake off my hands and settle into a stance durable enough to incorporate my preferred style of martial arts: tae-kwon-do.

Never mind summoning my shurikens, I will decimate this Fangpyre with my bare hands.

Fang-suei scoffs a laugh and growls. "Hmph, arms are overrated. We were a lesser species once upon a time after all." Both heads are still active, though the one that received my punch looks the worst out of the two. Green blood still drips from the injured one's mandible and said lower jaw is dislocated and hangs at an unusual angle.

My eyes narrow and I relax my stance and stand up straight.

Fang-suei guffaws. "Gahahahaha! You do realize that Ninjago is doomed, don't you?" He taunts. "It's not just the Fangpyre that underwent mutation. No… All of the tribes are stronger with enhanced abilities!" I begin to make my way towards him again, one calm step at a time. "You will not stop us this time, ninja. None of you will! The human race will crumble! Ninjago will be—GAH!"

Having heard enough, I grab both despicable snake heads and lean in close as my powers seep into their cavernous maws. "Please, do me a favor…and chill."

The widening of reptilian eyes is the last I see of Fang-suei as I do to his heads what I did to his arms. Watching indifferently as the frozen chunks of snake drop from my hands, I leave the dismembered corpse where it is and rush back to Ayane, dispelling my power in the process.

"Ayane!"

I find her sitting up and leaning against the caravan. I anxiously kneel beside her and gently pull down her mask. She looks at me somewhat dazed and blinks slowly.

"I...was careless… I'm sorry, Zane… Are you okay…? Your face…" She reaches for me with a bloodied hand and I take it. I do not know what I look like at the moment, nor do I really care. All I care about right now is her.

"I-I am…I am fine, Ayane," My voice quivers. I know that it is imperative to stay calm, but… My eyes find the hole in her right shoulder and I release her hand to use both of mine to staunch the flow of blood. "Your wound… Are you able to heal yourself?"

She nods weakly. "I'm a little drained, but I should be able to manage it…" She closes her eyes in pain. "Give me a few minutes. I've…never been shot before…" Her eyes reopen themselves and a small smile touches her lips. "Hansuke once asked me what I thought it would feel like to get shot. I didn't know then…but I know now…heh…"

Her jest brings calm to my circuitry, the constant pulses of trepidation from my EF, minimal. "Yes dearest, the next time you speak with him, you can report that it was most unpleasant and that you will never endure such pain ever again. I promise you won't. I promise, Ayane."

Fear was sent skyrocketing to my CPU just then, my EF now fluctuating with so many different emotions: distress, worry, and apprehension at the forefront. From now on, I need to be by her side at all times during battle. I just…cannot bear to see her like this.

"Zane… Zane, look at me…" But I can't. My eyes have zeroed-in on her shoulder, my gloved-hands drenched in her blood. I could have prevented this… I… Slick fingertips touch my chin, and I am gently guided from the sight of blood to Ayane's stern face, although my eyes flicker to my hands every few seconds.

The haze has lifted from her eyes, and shine with the clarity and strength that I am familiar with. "You cannot protect me from every single thing, Zane."

"Yes, I can."

"No, you can't."

"Yes, I—"

"No, please listen…" Her hand moves from my chin to my cheek and I lean into it, despite it being wet with her blood. I want to always be able to feel her touch—her warmth—no matter what. "Me getting shot was not your fault. It was mine… I thought I'd be able to deal with seeing any horror, but…" Her body begins to shake again, but then she takes a deep harsh breath to calm herself. "I let my emotions rule me, and that's why I got shot. I just have to get stronger, train harder. So that next time, when the roles are reversed…I can save you."

"Ayane…" I cannot help myself now. I envelop her in my arms and pull her close, away from the hull of the caravan. I mirror her actions and place my palm on her cheek, and she leans appreciatively into my touch despite the blood soaking it. I then lower my lips to hers wantonly, and block everything else out: the horror, the fear, the devastation. Nothing will stop me from savoring this moment. Nothing will stop me from keeping her alive.

Pure and sanctifying warmth soon engulfs me, and I can feel the torn and serrated skin on my face mend itself. Every ache and pain in my matrix ebbs away and my hold on her tightens. I never really understood how her powers can heal a cyber-organic organism such as me, but I like to believe that it is her love for me that makes it possible.

I taste her once more before unhurriedly pulling away. Her eyes are still closed blissfully and her cheeks are beautifully flushed. The whitish-gold of her hair shimmers and sways about her serene face until her power dissipates. I lean back further to check her right shoulder, and am relieved to see the wound perfectly healed and gone. However, the tear in her clothes made by the bullet reveal the star-shaped scar marring the upper quadrant area, just adjacent to her clavicle, the skin red and puckered.

I place a chaste and heartfelt kiss to the new blemish and hug her tight. She returns my embrace and mumbles into my shoulder. "We should get out of here, Zane. We have to report this."

I kiss the top of her head. "Yes, you're right. We need to—"

(Zane! Ayane! Can you two hear me?!)

Ayane and I break apart abruptly at the interruption of Cole's authoritative voice emitting from both of our PMSs. I retrieve mine from my sash and press down on the flashing black button. "Yes, we can hear you, Cole. What is it? Is something wrong?"

(Well I would think so. Since some wacko just galloped through town shouting "The Ninja are coming! The Ninja are coming!")

My eyes widen. The missing seventh.

(Now the entire village is in an uproar and all the men looked to be armed. This has Serpentine written all over it, so I'm about to issue the convergence-)

"No!" I looked to Ayane gripping her PMS, her face stricken and alarmed. "Cole, that won't work! The villagers aren't hypnotized! The men—the men are all transformed Fangpyre! Only the men!"

(What?! What are you talking about?! How is that possible!?)

"There's no time to explain," I interject. "Just know that you don't have to hesitate when engaging the men. They are Fangpyre."

(But what about the women and children?!) Sasha's voice crackles urgently over the line. (Some of them are out and about too! And if we start fighting the men—Fangpyre or not—even more pandemonium will ensue!)

Ayane and I share a worried glance.

(Montgomery! What about Montgomery?!) Cole shouts. (Surely he can calm them down!)

"No, he cannot, Cole," I state regrettably, eyeing the caravan. I know that it is quite possible that the real Montgomery could be inside or already buried with countless others. "He is dead. All of the men who inhabited Monsoon…are dead."

(Oh no…) Sasha whispers. (Rosemary…)

(Shit…) Cole curses lowly.

I think quickly. "Ayane and I are on our way to Monsoon now." I get to my feet and Ayane follows my lead. "The Fangpyre do not know of your identities as Ninja, they only know that Ayane and I are here. So keep your positions until we get there."

(Alright. A preemptive strike might be our only hope for surviving this. That just leaves the dilemma concerning the women and children… We have to call for backup-)

Another voice soon crackles over the line, sounding most angered.

(Cole! Zane! Ayane! Sasha! Get your asses back to the Bounty ASAP!)

(Kai?! What's wrong?!) Cole demands strictly.

(The Serpentine! Those bastards… They came out of nowhere! They have us completely surrounded!)
Power of Aura Chapter 15

PHEW! And that concludes the interludes, ladies and gentlemen! Gotta love major cliffies! Teeheehee! The last two chapters will be in the POVs of Lloyd and Dominique. Now, I'm going to make this as short as possible, but I feel I need to consult with you all about something. In the original rough draft of this series, there was a book entitled: "Genesis" which I had planned to come after the book entitled: "The Catalyst". The plot for "Genesis" was to be told entirely by the Serpentine generals, King Skales, and the female OCs that would join Genesis and become their mates. The reason why this book got scrapped was because I thought that no one would take interest in an entire book where the Ninja and Kunoichi make no appearances. But my two betas have brought it to my attention that the book could possibly bring in a wider range of readers who like the Serpentine and want to hear their side of the story. So, I've decided to leave it to votes. Go to my profile on FFN or here or BOTH and cast your vote on whether or not you would like for me to reinstate the book entitled: "Genesis" or just omit it and have it be casted as one of those "behind the scenes" things and let the story unfold with just the Ninja and Kunoichi at the helm.

Now, if you DO want "Genesis" to be reinstated into Trials and Tribulations then I would like to ask for a little help. Please give me some female OCs! And these OCs have to have tragic and depressing backgrounds, enough so that they have a reason to join "Genesis" and want to start a new life. In these character sheets and bios, I ask that these young women be 17 years or older. And please, do not be shy of details and descriptions. These are YOUR OCs, and if I decide to use them then you will receive full credit for your character and best regards from me. And if you want, you can even include which Serpentine you wish for your OC to be paired with. I will list them now just in case anyone forgot their names: King Skales (Hypnobrai), General Acidicus (Venomari), General Fangtom (Fangpyre), and newly appointed general, after Skalidor's demise, General Bytor (Constrictai). Please feel free to share your ideas for "Genesis" too. If you have any special instructions for me on how you would like your OC and chosen Serpentine to get together, then please don't hesitate to include those prompts as well. Lookin' forward to hearing from you guys!

Please read and review!

Loading...
"Too much humidity. Will Leviathan not do his job and keep that overgrown octopus at bay!?"

Shiranui growls with each stride he takes as we traverse the damp underbrush. The eternal darkness that surrounds us is unsettling for midmorning and the humidity, chocking. My hair whips about my face at my guardian's swift pace, and although my enhance sense of sight is all but useless in the face of a black shower; all my other senses are not.

I grasp tight to the thick soft fur around Shranui's neck and spread my senses far and wide. My adjutant's paw steps are quick, powerful, and sure. He bounds over thick roots and dodges spiny bramble to assure safe passage, but that's not all I hear. Not far to my left is the growl of Zane's Ice Speeder. The steady beam of white light from the vehicle's headlight flickers as trees and foliage obstruct my view every now and then, but I know he's there.

I take steady deep breaths-my olfactory sense not at all hindered by my mask-and scent the sodden forestry as it speeds pass. Since acknowledging the wolf spirit within me and learning that it was my touch that preserved the life of plants at the Amaterasu celebration, I feel like a whole new world has opened up, one of nearly tangible smells and distant sounds. And if I concentrated hard enough, I could hear the plethora of voices orchestrated by the very throats of Mother Nature herself. Granted, my senses have always been sharp due to my hunter and shinobi training, but never have they been this acute! Never have I felt this empowered!

The forest permeates with so many lustrous fumes, and as we push forward under the shelter of the large verdant trees' dense canopies, I can discern the sharp tang of citrus fruits and the bitter starkness of nuts.

But…there's something else…

I lift my head higher and concentrate on the stench of ink swathing the heavens. The abundance of leaves protects us from the boiling water misting overhead, but that's just it…only a mist not a deluge.

The back showers are weakening…

I don't feel as light-headed from the inky fumes as when Zane and I first left the Bounty. The God of Water is indeed trying to subdue the Kraken and once he does, Lady Amaterasu's element will reign supreme once more.

That's right… Lady Amaterasu… I'm still not ready to call her my mother…

I sigh and pat the large golden wolf's flank. "It's almost over, Shiranui. And we're nearly at the rendezvous point, right?"

Shiranui's body suddenly coils and lurches into a sharp turn. He huffs a rough pant and growls. "Yes, forgive my grumbling, Master Ayane. This infernal blackness just sickens me, that's all. For it is not true night."

I nod sympathetically. Wolves can see splendidly at night, however, the "night" the black showers bring isn't night at all. It's just dark and murky ink. Without the help of a source of artificial light, one suffers complete and utter blindness. So, the only reason we haven't crashed into anything is because of Shiranui's astoundingly acute senses. He can sense impending obstacles and maneuver unimpeded through the flora…as long as he continues to concentrate.

(Ayane, according to my Global Positioning System, we are approximately two hundred yards away from our designated rendezvous point.)

Zane's voice emits from my PMS and I pull it from my leather strap. I then press down on the white button. "Got it! And umm…is that what "GPS" stands for?" I ask, carefully tucking away that little crumpet of knowledge. "I think I may have learned it in school, but I can't remember."

(Yes, that is correct) Zane replies, his voice ringing loud and clear from the speaker. (And it is quite fortunate too, since navigating through black showers is more than a little troublesome, even for me.)

My eyebrows lift unexpectedly. It's hard to imagine Zane going through any amount of difficulty when dealing with the wrath of Mother Nature given the durability of his titanium body. Then again, black showers aren't exactly counted among the other natural disasters of our world. It is infamously known as the evil manifestation of the Kraken's resentment towards Leviathan. The Gods and Goddesses of our realm have no direct involvement in the formation of black showers. It makes me think more about Zane's experiences, though.

"Really? How many black showers have you been through?" I ask next.

There's a minimal pause before he speaks again. (Only two, not including this one. My first experience was during the earliest time in my life, three weeks after my father had passed and I had left Birchwood Forest to begin my travels. I remember feeling mystified when I first saw the sky blacken during a midmorning, and just knew something wasn't right. The first drops were hot, there was no warm up period. I was alone and thrust into complete darkness, surrounded by sparse and thin trees. Worried, I started to run blindly as the rain grew hotter and hotter. I believe it was from sheer serendipity or maybe mercy was given to me by the divines that I found an abandoned cave. And taking shelter within, I simply waited for the storm to pass.)

"Oh Zane…" My heart beats in sympathy for my boyfriend. I can't imagine being alone in a cave, with nothing but ominous darkness all around me. It was probably humid and damp because of the black showers too, and who knows how small it was. "You must have been terrified."

(Oh no… I was more intrigued than terrified, my dear. I was aware of the obscurity, and became quickly accustomed to the constant cry of heavy rain. Alone, sitting down, already could see nothing but darkness without the need of closing my eyes? Perhaps it was predestined that I learned the ruminating skill of meditation.)

Turning a bad situation into a learning experience… Yes, that is Zane's way of life. I smile. "Maybe it was," I agree softly. "Maybe you and Dominique are one in the same in believing that everything happens for a reason?"

(Hmm…there is a logical intonation to that phrase. Truly the Phoenix of Prophecy has her own fountain of wisdom for us to drink from. Her cognitive reasoning is surprisingly exceptional for being so young.)

At Zane's words, instant worry presses down heavily on my heart, making me almost cringe at the unperceivable pain. Dominique is young. Lloyd is young. They're both just too young! It makes little sense to me to force such heavy burdens on children's shoulders. I wanted so much for Lloyd to stay the carefree and spirited boy he was, but I was absolutely powerless to stop him from changing. I could not save Sensei Wu. None of us could save Sensei Wu. Our mentor's death was the catalyst that brought about the darkness within Lloyd. I couldn't say or do anything to make him feel better. Now, am I just supposed to sit back and watch as Dominique changes as well?

But who's to say she will? A hopeful voice in my head argues. Maybe she'll persevere when the world shows its true colors?

I, at once, picture the little honey-skinned girl with the short curly cinnamon sable hair and the most bewitching violet eyes, a tiny smile on her face and her thin arms snuggling a blue-eyed red fox kit. The mental image soon becomes too much to bear, but try as I might, I can't erase Dominique from my mind. Tears gather in my eyes as I see that fragile smile disappear and be regrettably replaced with terror and horror at whatever cruel destiny awaits her.

What cross will she have to bear as the Phoenix…? And will I be able to do anything when the time comes…?

And what about my beloved sister? What about Ebony? We had grown so close these pass months, and I don't want to lose her, not physically or emotionally. Had K talked to her yet? This morning, after Cole and Sasha left for Monsoon, her outward defiance towards destiny was palpable just from hearing the force of her words. I had hoped that K had achieved what I and my other sisters couldn't. I never wanted to hear that dark, cold as steel monotone creep back into Ebony's voice ever again. Just how close am I in facing the threat of abandonment from my darker half? I desperately want reassurance. Where is the reassurance? What good is hope, if it proves false? What good is sympathy, if it proves…false…

My body trembles as I force back a choked sob, but a crippled gasp escapes me nonetheless.

(Ayane?)

I lift my head, startled. I had escaped to the recesses of my mind during my despair and had forgotten that I was still on a mission and still traversing the black drenched forest near Monsoon. My right hand grips my PMS tight. I still had it held up somewhat close to my mouth and my finger lightly pressed on the white button.

Zane… He must've heard me…

I lower my PMS and hurriedly compose myself before bringing it up again. "Yes? Oh, sorry about that. Just a sudden bump in the road and Shiranui buckled a bit," I say evasively, hoping my voice didn't crack or waver.

"I did no such—" Shiranui starts, but I quickly intervene with a light yet, unfortunately, obviously forced laugh. I smooth down the raised hackles along his neck in apology and plaster a grin on my lips behind my mask.

"Anyway, I'm okay," I assure brightly. "Sorry for disturbing you, Zane."

A long drawn-out lapse of silence follows, where all I can hear are paw pad beats, dribbling rain, and a growling engine. Anxiety crawls menacingly up my spine until it reaches the nape of my neck and makes the hairs there stand on end.

(…The only thing that disturbs me at the moment…is the fact that you are lying to me, Ayane…)

Caught and shamed, I shakily refasten my PMS to my leather strap without a word of refute and grasp Shiranui's neck fur with both hands desperately.

I'm sorry, Zane. But I was just fretting about the same ol' thing, and I didn't want to sound whiny…

I've been trying to stay optimistic about the future, but with the grave magnitude of Ninjago's situation being brought closer and closer to light with each passing day, my thoughts were turning sour with hopelessness. Powerless to help Ebony, powerless to help Lloyd. Will I be powerless to help Dominique too?

I let my eyes slip close and lean forward to press my face into Shiranui's fur.

What can I do…?

Well, for starters, you can give yourself a bit more credit.

My eyes snap open and my heart immediately starts pumping faster in alarm. Divinity? I haven't heard her voice since the festival.

Though the Fates have spoken, and the threads of destiny woven, you can still—as the mortal saying goes—"put your best foot forward". You have a great love for your extended family, Ayane, especially for the young ones, but you must keep your faith and not give into despair. Even when things get at their bleakest, keep to your namesake…and shine.

I sit up slowly and tilt my head upwards, complete and utter blackness engulfing my vision.

But what if I can't reach them? I lament doubtfully. What if the light I shine is obstructed?

Nonsense! A delightful laugh is coupled with unwavering conviction from the disembodied voice. Your warmth can be felt despite the darkness…through prayer.

Prayer? My tongue darts out to moisten my suddenly dry lips and I swallow. Will that…be enough?

Never underestimate the power of prayer, Shine. You of all people should know that. So whenever you think your words or actions aren't enough, pray to those you wish to reach and let the radiance from your soul touch them.

A grateful smile touches my lips as the worry that had weighed heavy on my heart gradually lessens.

Thank you, Divinity. I'll make good use of your advice.

Yeah! Cheer up, wolf-girl! You may be just one thread interwoven into the web of destiny like all the rest, but your involvement will be impactful… Oh! And one other thing! Tell that stud-muffin of a nindroid the truth, okay? Like a good mate, he was only worried.

Warmth fills my cheeks, but I nod in agreement with the celestial spirit. Yeah, I will.

Shiranui suddenly slows to a trot and takes a few purposeful sniffs before stopping completely. "This is it," he says shortly and I dismount while keeping a hand on his flank. Zane soon joins us on his Ice Speeder, the glare of his headlight is blinding, but at the moment, more than welcome as it pierces the darkness. Actually, some noise would be nice too, but I know my wants are just baseless suppositions. The creatures of this forest—prey, predator, big, and small—are all in hiding, waiting for the black showers to pass.

This forest is deathly silent.

Zane climbs off his Spinjitzu Vehicle and dispels it, and we are all thrust back into dreadful obscurity instantly.

"Uhhh, Zane? I don't think that was a good idea…" I whisper tentatively. He says nothing and I reach blindly for him, knowing he is somewhere near me. My wandering hand eventually lands on him and smoothly travels up from the edges of the sash around his waist to glide along the hard emblems of his robes. Just as my hand comes in contact with the hem of his hood, his eyes flare with blue light and I flinch away, squinting against the unexpected brightness.

Blinking rapidly to adjust my eyes, I watch as he scans the area around us carefully, and my sights follow the illuminated trail his gaze provides. This forest, while silent, is indeed lush and flourishing. The massive trunks of the verdant trees stretched incredibly high and the rich underbrush smelled of nutritious dew. It seems like the greenery here was more or less unaffected by the black showers, but why? And how?

My eyes narrow in circumspection. "Zane, hold your focus over here for a moment," I request and his scouring stops over a grove of lavender and the sturdy trunk of a verdant tree.

"Despite the absence of rainwater hitting the ground, the earth is soft underpaw." I hear Shiranui mumble as I make my approach to the tree. I rest my hand against the moss-covered shaft and let my eyes slip close as I try to feel the spirit and life force nestled within the bark.

Incoherent whispering soon breezes through my head, like the flurrying of leaves in a calm wind. I furrow my brow in concentration, having only done this a few times since my rebirth, and allow my mind to clear so I can listen to the tree's murmuring voice.

~Plenty of food, no worries for this one. This one's roots feasts on soil nurtured by wetlands. When the sun shines this one's leaves will spread, but until then, black rain will not penetrate this one's crown. This one will aid in keeping brethren safe as well as those who scurry and prance on the ground, and flit and tweet in the sky.~

My hand slides down from the bark and I reopen my eyes. "The marshes that cover most of these lands keep this forest plentiful and fertile. The verdant trees protect all who live here, plant and animal alike."

Zane's hand falls on my shoulder and I look up at his glowing eyes, his gaze just beyond the trees. "Nature never ceases to amaze me…" he averts his illuminated stare to mine, the lights within dimming to a cool ice-blue, making me unable to look away from the beautiful shade, "and neither do you."

I beam happily at him from behind my mask. "Thank you, Zane…" I swallow a tad nervously then, thinking of the apology I owe, and gather my thoughts and remorse. "And...I'm s—"

A single finger is placed on my masked-lips. "Hold that thought," he interjects softly and nods his head in the direction pass the trees. "Look, there is the path for which the caravan will take."

I turn and step lightly with Zane through the barrier of trees, while keeping under their canopies, and arrive on the edge of a wide and well-paved mudded road. With the help of Zane's sight, we deduce quickly that this was the starting point for when the caravan moseys over from Monsoon. And when it gets here, it's our job to shadow it.

I take a deep, readying breath and look to Zane seriously. "Let's find a nice tall tree that overlooks this path. How much time do we have?"

He blinks. "The time is exactly 10:10—"

"Oh I love that movie! Tin-tin is so awesome and cute!" I gush excitedly—momentarily derailed-but quickly sober up at Zane's blank flaring stare. "Uhh…I-I-I mean—uhh…" I blush deeply and clear my throat. "Let's hurry and get into position!" I pivot on my heel and march back the way we came, but stop short at what I come across, all the while I can feel Zane's eyes burn holes through my back.

"Shiranui, what are you doing!?" I exclaim, mortified. My "proud" and "noble" guardian currently had one hind leg raised…and to the very tree I had just listened to!

"What does it look like I'm doing?" He growls, unperturbed. "It's not my fault my bladder's the size of a walnut," he huffs and his tongue lolls out of his mouth in bliss as his eyes crinkle shut.

I stomp over to him. "Yeah, but couldn't you have picked a different tree?" I flick his ear in reprimand, but he simply shakes his large head in mild irritation.

"What difference does it make? A tree's a tree, and why are you grumbling anyway? It smells like lemonade, doesn't it?"

I grimace and breathe carefully through my mouth, not willing to even find out if he's right or not. I shake my head with a quiet sigh and lay my hand on the trunk of the now ill-fated verdant tree.

"I'm sorry," I whisper, then cut a scolding glare at Lady Amaterasu's cousin, his happy Dusk-like expression still present. "Please leave as soon as you're done, okay?"

"Will-*whine*-do…ahhh…"

With a final rueful shake of my head, I turn back to Zane to see him patiently watching me.

"Follow me," he beckons before I can open my mouth, "I believe I have found the perfect viewpoint."

"What? Already? How?" I question, moving quickly towards him. He takes my hand without another word and dashes off, with me striding along beside him.

Well, at least we're getting away from my unruly guardian…

We don't travel very far from where we were and stop beside an extremely massive verdant. I gasp in awe as Zane's lighted eyes allow me to take in the sheer girth and magnitude of what had to be, a well-over a hundred year old tree. I hurriedly rush forward to smooth my hand along the slightly chipped and gnarled trunk, closing my eyes in the process. I want desperately to hear the wise murmurings of the age-old spirit within.

I clear my mind of all individual ponderings and smile almost giddily as the first disjointed whispers begin. The voice is much deeper than the last tree's and speaks maybe twice as slow, but I listen good-naturedly nevertheless.

~Such a strange pair… This one has sensed much in its time…but never has this one sensed…such extraordinary beings… So similar…yet so different…like the sun and the moon… Hmmm… This one has just dreamed… Will you listen…to this one's dream…sunchild…?~

Yes, I'd be happy to. My mind's voice scarcely touches the baritone of the old verdant's whisper. I want the venerable murmur to remain front and center for fear that my concentration may slip if I start thinking too much.

~Wait… This one wishes…for the moonchild to heed…as well… Now…instruct your opposite…to do to you…what you are doing…to this one…~

I open my eyes and turn to Zane. "Touch me; this tree wants to share with us its dream."

"I understand." The certainty and faith in Zane's voice warms my heart. And when I feel his hand land gently on my shoulder, I instruct him further while attempting to renew my concentration.

"It may be difficult at first, but try to clear your mind of all thoughts, Zane."

"Even the ones of you?" He asks with genuine wonder, and although I'm touched by his sentiment, I nod my head.

"Y-Yeah…" My cheeks feel like they're on fire under my mask, but I carry on as strongly as I can. "…Like I said, it may be difficult, but…umm…" It seems like my own words are deliberately used against me as thoughts of Zane and the unforgettable time we had during the festival float heavenly through my mind.

His words of encouragement when the Chi-Chi sisters asked me to sing lead when they needed help on the Day of Worship and I wasn't the slightest bit confident about my abilities, on the Day of the Hunt, when he rescued me from Itsuki in Asuta Jingu, and finally…on the Day of Courtship at the Couples Ceremony… Oh…praise Lady Amaterasu for construing such rituals. Goodness, my thighs are getting moist just from thinking about Zane's beautiful body fitted in a yukata.

I shiver and try my hardest to restrain my baser instincts. No! Bad, Ayane! Bad! Bad! Bad!

But anyway, on that day, from sunup to sundown, I was in nirvana. I'll forever remember me and Zane's first Couples Ceremony, and hopefully…we will participate in many more to come.

A light squeeze to my shoulder rouses me from my blissful reverie and Zane's wintry breath tickles my earlobe. "I believe we are both having trouble concentrating, but let's try harder, shall we? We are unfortunately pressed for time."

I bite my lower lip stubbornly to suppress a gratuitous moan from escaping me, and can do nothing but nod my consent. After some unsuccessful tries, I finally manage to empty my mind and hear the old verdant's whisper.

~…In this one's dream…I was weightless… In this one's dream…I saw all… What was once…green and blue…became red and black… This one dreamed of wings of leather…and wings of feather…soaring above all… That…was this one's…dream…~

The deep undertone fades from my mind and I open my eyes. "What a strange dream…" I say softly, and then turn to look at Zane over my shoulder. "Do you think it has any meaning?"

He slightly inclines his head. "I believe all dreams have meaning, whether they are yearnings of the subconscious or vague visions of the future, dreams serve a purpose. Why else would we have them?" He shrugs and I hum in agreement.

"You make a valid point. But if that's true, then what category does Old Verdant's dream fall under? Yearning? Or vision?"

"We can speculate about that later, Ayane. For now, we should proceed with the mission," Zane says.

"Yeah, you're right." I pat Old Verdant's trunk. Rest well, and continue to dream, my friend.

Scaling Old Verdant proved to be not even a chore despite its many twisting branches and puckering leaves. Not for any well-trained shinobi anyway. But during our countless leaps and bounds upward, I think Zane and I must've tickled Old Verdant once or twice because I thought I heard deep rumbling in my head—like a chuckle—every now and then.

"Okay…this looks like a good one," I observe as Zane joins me on one of Old Verdant's high limbs. We are a good forty feet off the ground, but not quite near the canopy. The surrounding branches and leaves provide excellent coverage for us and our positioning couldn't be better, for we have an excellent view of the darkened road below.

Now, all we have to do is wait.

"Da, I agree," Zane's glowing eyes survey our area meticulously and with a quick movement of his hand, removes his PMS from his sash. "I shall inform Cole of our status. Please wait a moment."

I nod absently and crouch down on our temporary rest spot. The sturdiness and width of the limb will allow us to sit comfortably if we so choose to and I take full advantage of that fact and rest my back against Old Verdant's side. The homey scent of damp bark and foliage conquers over the stench of ink, and my gaze travels heavenward to see if maybe there'd be a sign that the black showers were waning more.

I frown, annoyed at the darkness' mocking glower. Although this is my first time experiencing a black shower, I'm not exactly impressed by the effects it has and wouldn't have minded at all if I never paid privy to one…ever.

I shake my head sharply in an attempt to rid it of any incoming pessimistic thoughts. C'mon Shine, remember Divinity's words… Don't let yourself fall into the darkness of despair…

"There, it is done." I peer up at Zane, his face faintly illuminated by the light of his PMS. He tucks Jay's invention back into his sash and looks down at me. "The time is now 10:19 A.M., which means we still have an hour and eleven minutes before the scheduled departure of the caravan… Given, if the black showers dissipate in time."

"I think they will," I remark, pulling my legs up to my chest and pointing a finger upward. "The showers are weak enough as it is. Won't be long now before Leviathan thwarts the Kraken."

Zane looks skyward himself, the many tight clusters of leaves and branches above now clearly visible. "Yes, I believe you may be right…" He suddenly crouches down in front of me and stares at me…silent.

I smile and reach forward to touch his hooded face. "You're not straining, are you?" I question a bit worriedly. He must be pulling that power into his eyes from somewhere, and although the brilliant pastel blue is beautiful as it is helpful, I don't want him putting any unnecessary strain on his body. "We don't need the light anymore, and I'm fine with the darkness. It is a shinobi's secondary home after all."

"I do not doubt your strength or your will, Ayane. And please, do not concern yourself with my safety, I am fine. The surge of power within my core is limitless."

My head involuntarily leans to the side as I regard him curiously. "Do not concern myself with your safety? Zane, is the memory unit connected to your CPU working properly? Did you already forget the vows we made to each other at the ceremony? Because I didn't, I took them very seriously. And, because I did…" I lower my gaze to his chest in shame, "…I owe you an apology. I shouldn't have lied to you earlier. I know how much it upsets you when I do."

"Ayane…" Zane closes his eyes briefly, granting me a reprieve from his penetrating stare. But, I don't look at the darkness at all as an amnesty. No, this time I am at fault. And when he levels me with his luminescent gaze again, I meet it with all the strength I can muster. "I pledged those words to you with just as much fervor, hoping that they would bind us even closer together. I wanted those vows…to be a prelude for what was to come in our hopeful future."

"Oh Zane, I…" My hand rests over my heart as my cheeks go aflame with both love and chagrin.

"If you knew your lie would upset me, then why speak it?"

I plant myself firmly against Old Verdant's side, wanting to disappear into the tree in order to evade the arrows of guilt and disgrace being aimed at my heart. "W-What was I supposed to do, Zane?" I ask weakly, pinned down by his stare. I feel like I'm under the spotlight in an interrogation room. "Complain to you about everything that's bothering me? Even when you've heard it before?"

"Yes," he replies softly, simply, causing my eyes to widen. "Ayane, why wouldn't I want to hear every woe that plagued your heart? I love you. And as your significant other, I feel that it is my duty to support you in any way that I can."

He stretches a hand out towards my face and uses a single finger to pull down my mask, revealing my reddened cheeks. I swallow thickly as my vision blurs with tears. "The children, Zane. Lloyd and Dominique." I shrug helplessly and shake my head. "I can't stop worrying. I can't. If they were a bit older then…" Zane's hand cups my cheek just as the first tears make trails down my face. "They're just so small…*gasp*… It's not fair…"

"Dearest…" Zane pulls me forward and I willfully fall into his embrace, sobbing and crying my heart out into his shoulder.

"A-And Ebony…*sniff*…she's becoming distant again. We are in danger of losing her, Zane. I just know it." My voice is watery and swelled with emotion, but I carry on and grasp his shoulders as tight as I can. "I don't want our clan—our family-to fall apart. Like you said, it's tragic enough that we already lost our grandfather. We can't lose anyone else…"

I can say nothing more, and just release my sorrows in the form of tears. Zane's strong arms serve as my comfort and his smooth sweet voice, my calm. "I wish I could tell not to worry, moy angel. But I cannot, for I can sense nothing pertaining to the outcome of the prophecies. All we can do is our best and not forget the circumstances that bound us all together in the first place. We will all stand firm against any adversities that come our way. All of us…together."

"You're right," I mumble into his shoulder. "You and Divinity are both right." His hold loosens as I pull back, and I smile while wiping away the last of my tears. "All we can do is put our best foot forward and look out for each other." I sigh heavily, a little affronted at myself for being a natural worrier. "It's just a little hard for me, ya'know? My mind starts working and pretty soon it's chock-full with the worst case scenarios."

"You do not need to explain yourself to me. I know you exceptionally well, Ayane…" My breath involuntarily catches at seeing those stunning winter blues become hooded with want. "…Especially so since our time together on the night of Couples Ceremony. You and I, under the cherry blossom trees, their exquisite petals falling all around us…"

My eyes close in sweet remembrance. Of course I recall everything that night, but with Zane's voice whispering, oh so charmingly in my ear and heat of his body, oh so close, I feel like I'm reliving that enchanted evening.

"…The stars burning bright in the clear onyx sky, the full spring moon reflecting gorgeously off the lake's rippling surface… Do you remember what it felt like, my love? When my hands slowly untied the obi of your kimono and pushed the silken fabric from your shoulders to reveal your—"

"Zane!" My cry is wanton and desperate. Is he doing this on purpose?! Making me need him so badly?! His deliciously minty breath had been ghosting over my ear at the beginning, but now the wonderful chill blows tauntingly over my neck. "T-This is neither…haa…the time n-nor the place for this…"

My protests sound ridiculously weak, but I know he heeds my words when he pulls back. "Yes, you are right," he breathes throatily. My blush intensifies when I realize his face is bare. He must've pulled back his hood while my eyes were closed. "However, I just want to be clear on something…"

Pleasurable shivers wrack my body and I am spellbound by the intensity of his glowing ice-blue orbs. "Huh? Y-Yes?"

Why does he look so serious…?

"I am more "awesome" as well as more "cute" then this "Tin-tin", yes?"

I stare at him, dumbstruck, as he stares right back, a straight line of seriousness etched across his face. That is what this is about?! He got me all hot and bothered just to find out if I liked him more than Tin-tin?!

I give a resigned sigh and grace him with a smile. Zane has many peculiarities that make him different from most men, but to discover that not even he is above jealously is…endearing…even if the person he's envious of is fictional, as well as animated.

I frame his perfect face lovingly with my hands. "Yes Zane, you are phenomenal and handsome. Much better than Tin-tin's "awesome" and "cute"."

It would've been unperceivable to the untrained eye, but the slight rigidness of his shoulders loosens and he breathes an even less noticeable sigh of relief. "Is that so?" He asks calmly. "That is fortunate… And I am also glad that I was able to deter you from your inner turmoil."

I blink rapidly in astonishment. I had thought I had his motives figured out, but the truth to his seductive advances was to get my mind off my troubles?

No, wait…

I eye that charming smile scrupulously. You never cease to amaze too, Zane. Killing two birds with one stone like that. I don't call him out on this, however, and just relish in the fact of knowing. "Oh you…hehe… Thanks."

I lean forward and smile into the soft kiss we share. My body still tingles due to his prior escapades, but I don't mind at all.

Yes, we are similar yet different… We are the moon and the sun…

We pull apart breathlessly and Zane's smiles his one-of-a-kind smile. "You are most welcome. Now, let us continue with the mission."
Power of Aura Chapter 14
Goodness gracious me! Well, here's the first half, people. And I'll post the second half right after this along with a VERY IMPORTANT NOTE!
Loading...
Theme Twelve: Of Sick Wolves and Caring Snow Leopards

Ayane groaned heavily as her internal clock informed her of dawn's first break. For the first time in a long time she wanted to ignore her hunter's instinct and remain comfortable in her bed. She snuggled deeper into her soft covers, desperate for more warmth when she felt a sudden chill creep into her bones.

Just five more minutes… No…but I have to get up to take care of Mother… But…I just want five more…

The archer tossed and rolled about in her bed, until her body had been thoroughly cocooned and only her sweaty sun-kissed face peeked out from within her comforter. She sniffed noisily and her lips pursed into an adorable pout after she gave a wet cough. The blond wiggled like an unsettled worm on a hook as she tried to find comfort on her usually comfortable bed, but it was proving to be rather difficult now that an excessive pounding had started at her temples. Ayane's next groan sounded more like a whimper and the pitiful noise roused not her roommate like one would expect, but someone clearly on the opposite side of the ship.

Zane jerked awake from his meditative stupor, his sixth sense had prodded at him that something was amiss. He chose not to engage in sleep the previous night and opted to meditate instead, not feeling the need to rest completely. Frowning in wonder to the disruption of his rumination, he gracefully got out of bed and exited his room. He stood idly in the dark hallway for a moment, drinking in the still silence of the new day, and let his senses expand to every nook and cranny of the Destiny's Bounty.

Hmm… Now, what was that…?

Zane could detect the Chi of his shinobi brethren. They were still in their slumber, only shifting to get into a more comfortable position before becoming stationary once more. There was, however, one particular Chi that moved most frantically, and when it finally did calm, a reverberating pulse swept through it and Zane felt the wiring in his Coronary Circuitry twinge with pain.

Worry flashed across his face as he realized the source from which the pulse came from. "Ayane?"

Taking action, Zane's bare feet moved swiftly though quietly through the hallways of the Bounty and made it within seconds to the Kunoichi side of the ship. He stopped in front of the gold and aqua imbued door and pressed his ear against the surface to listen.

He didn't have to wait long, for from within he soon heard the distressed murmurings of his love. He frowned. Her speech was incoherent, even to his keen hearing. And with each passing moment, he felt torn between propriety and anxiety. Heeding as well as feeling Ayane's next groan of anguish, the ice ninja's concern won over and he pushed open the door to Water and Light's shared quarters.

"Ayane?" Zane called again, easily finding the stalwart archer's cocooned body squirming restlessly on her bed. It was at that moment, that Sasha stirred, having finally been awakened by her roommate and fellow kunoichi's distressed whimpering.

She squinted and rubbed the morning dew from her eyes in an effort to adjust them to the sight of the dimly lit bedroom, a delicate blue streaming through the window's blinds.

"Wha? *yawn*… What's going on?" Sasha asked in drowsy bewilderment, but Zane promptly ignored the other female and padded to Ayane's bedside with haste to examine her.

The wise nindroid was keen in his observations, taking shrewd notice of the peppering of perspiration on Ayane's sunbathed face and the cold shivers that wracked her body despite her elevated temperature. It was easy to deduce that his love was ill, but with what?

At once, Zane's eyes emitted a frigid ice blue hue and within seconds, infrared scanners traveled up and down the length of Ayane's wrapped body. Sasha joined her friend just as Zane finished, his eyes returning to their normal color.

"What's wrong with her?" She asked, her fretful gaze strafing across the blonde just as anxiously as Zane's scanners had.

Zane sat down on the edge of the bed, his lips downturned into a troubled curve. He leaned forward and gently placed his cool hand under Ayane's sweat-soaked bangs onto her forehead. The huntress twitched and mumbled something under her breath, but otherwise remained asleep.

"She has a dreadfully high fever," Zane said. "Though my scanners indicate nothing outside of the common cold…" His brow creased further as he witnessed the abrupt contortion of Ayane's face. With her pained grimace, her once fetching tan deteriorated until her complexion shone pale and waxy. Ayane, no longer shivering with chills, begun to violently thrash about as if she were an animal caught in a deadly trap. Her mind seemingly ensnared in a nightmare.

"Ayane?!" Sasha and Zane shouted in consternated unison.

Zane gripped the wildly thrashing kunoichi's shoulders and called to her once more. "Ayane! Ayane, please wake up! You are having a night terror!"

Sky blue and mint green immediately snapped open and Ayane sat up with a start. Her breath came out quick and desperate as she stared at the two worried shinobi before her.

"Haa…haa… Zane…? Sasha…?" Ayane's eyes darted from one to the other in mystery, reflecting none of the alertness and tranquility they usually had. "What's going on? Did I…oversleep?"

"Umm…" Sasha was at a loss and Zane's concerned grimace didn't waver. "Well you are usually up with the sun, but nothing to worry about," Sasha assured with a small grin. "Are you okay though?" She asked next. "You look like you're sick."

Ayane nodded slightly. "Oh yes, I'm fine…" she smiled. "Just a little hot…" She glanced down at herself absently and her brow puckered. "…And now I see why…"

Zane retracted his hands from Ayane's shoulders to allow her to shimmy out of her comforter however his expression remained pensive and taut. "You are not fine, Ayane. You are ill. And I believe its best that you remain in bed for the day."

Ayane blinked at Zane owlishly before narrowing her eyes. "Just because I'm a little warm doesn't mean I'm sick, Zane," she argued. "And even if I was—and I'm not saying I am—having the sniffles doesn't warrant bed rest."

And as if to prove case and point, Ayane sniffed and detangled herself from the rest of her sheets and moved to stand. However, Zane's firm voice and pointed stare stopped her. "While the common cold may not be life-threatening, there is always a chance for it to advance into something that is. As a necessary precaution, you should keep yourself well hydrated and get plenty of rest…which is what you are going to do."

Zane held his ground against Ayane's harsh glare. He didn't like how glassy and unfocused her eyes were and wanted her to have the foresight to take care of her health when she needed to.

"You can't tell me what I can or cannot do. I know what my body's limitations are so you needn't worry about me. Besides, I can't skip-out on training, I need it." Ayane moved to rise again, but this time Sasha's voice of reason stopped her.

"Today's Sunday, Ayane. There is no training."

The wild-haired blonde faltered for a second then pursed her lips determinedly. "But it's my turn to make breakfast. Not to mention I have to pull my own weight around her and help with the chores."

"I can make breakfast this morning," Zane volunteered. "And I'm sure that once everyone knows you're ill, they'll be more than happy to cover your share of the chores for the day."

The ice ninja had spoken logically, but Ayane still shook her head, unsatisfied and undeterred. "No, how am I supposed to improve if I don't practice as much as I can?" She refuted obstinately. "Plus, I can't let the others do my work for me. That's ridiculous!" Ayane's eyes hardened into cloudy gems once more. "Especially when I'm not sick."

Both Zane and Sasha knew the Kunoichi of Light was just being stubborn, but before Zane could open his mouth again, Sasha touched his shoulder. "Alright Ayane, do whatever you want," the Brazilian said and Zane snapped his gaze to her incredulously.

"Sasha!" He cried, but the kunoich leader just grinned.

"But I want you to rest when you feel you need to, okay?" Sasha bargained and Ayane nodded gratefully at her elder.

"I will, thank you, Sasha."

Ayane then made to rise from her bed again and the others allowed her without disprove. She stood shakily at first, but quickly righted herself before either could intervene and made for the bathroom with a rigidly proud posture and carefully placed steps. Zane shook his head as the door to the bathroom closed behind his love and Sasha stepped closer to him.

"Don't worry, Zane. Ayane's not crazy; she won't do anything that'll jeopardize her health. She can take care of herself."

The worrisome beau nodded his agreement albeit reluctantly, but didn't make a move to leave. It was only after Sasha cleared her throat that he realized he was standing rudely in women's quarters while they needed their privacy to properly groom and clothe themselves, which then prompted him to make a hasty retreat.

Although once in the hallway, outside Light and Water's door, Zane was still reluctant to distance himself even further from Ayane. He knew that each kunoichi on board the Bounty had their own amount of pride and independence and didn't like to be coddled by their male counterparts, but regardless, it was still difficult to turn a blind eye when the one you love was in discomfort. It was for him anyway…

Zane sighed, his core heavy with despondence. "There is a difference between hubris and obstinacy, and neither is favorable…" he whispered to himself. "I suppose all I can do though is keep watch over her and act when I feel the need to."

He sighed again and set off slowly for his room, his sixth sense warning him that today would not be a peaceful one.

*~Chibijago!~*

Sunday was the most favored day by the Shinobi clan aboard the Destiny's Bounty simply for the lack of training assigned to them by Sensei Wu. But even with the much deserved leisure time, the day didn't entirely consist of respite. Each member of the Nomad Clan still had their responsibilities and chores to perform.

And as always, Ayane executed her domestic duties with nary a complaint or a whimper. Dressed casually for a day of cleaning, she set about her tasks with cheerful wholeheartedness. Tackling chore after chore alongside her kunoichi sisters, Ebony and Sasha, (Nya was with Jay performing meticulous routine maintenance in the ship's engine room) she washed clothes, scrubbed bathrooms, vacuumed floors, and dusted furniture. All the while Zane remained vigilant of her during the midst of his own chores alongside Kai and Cole.

He took wary note of Ayane's multiple congested coughs and sniffles, and had to stop himself more than once from approaching and requesting her to go to her room and rest. As much as he admired his scarred angel's resilience and fortitude, he knew the human body would begin to strain even while doing the most menial tasks if it were under the influence of sickness.

Zane observed Ayane nervously as she positioned a small step ladder under the Game Room's ceiling fan. Her next chore was to reach it and dust its blades. He had offered to do the task for her earlier, but was refused yet again with a patient reassuring smile from the blonde archer. Now, with her hands covered with yellow cleaning gloves and armed with a spray bottle of Oath and a cloth, Ayane made her ascent carefully up the ladder.

It was as if Zane was watching a circus performer climb high in order to do some death-defying stunt! His throat felt clogged and his Coronary Circuitry was sending rapid pulses throughout his chest cavity as his Emotional Framework sent anxiety spiking to his CPU.

Ayane coughed painfully, barely getting enough air into her lungs to breathe. She had taken the preventative measure in covering her lower face with a bandana in hopes of stifling the lint and dust particles from agitating her nose, but it did little in improving her ailing condition. Nonetheless, she pushed herself and reached for a blade to begin her chore with beads of sweat pouring lazily down her face.

Zane didn't relax fully, though some of the pent-up tension in his shoulders did subside once Ayane started cleaning the first blade. He just couldn't understand her behavior at the moment. It was plain for all to see that she wasn't well, yet she refused help from everybody who was willing to lend a hand and do her work in her stead. What was driving her? Was it more than sheer willpower or intransigence like Ebony speculated? Could it truly be a psychological dilemma that urged Ayane on and pressed her to accomplish her responsibilities without assistance or care for her wellbeing?

Shiva's son swallowed down his trepidation and forced himself to turn away from Ayane to resume his own chore. Zane's long nimble fingers moved across the keyboard in methodical precision, though his mind was not focused on removing the wayward viruses on Jay's laptop. No, his concern was on the selfless blond balancing precariously behind him on a step ladder.

"*Cough Cough* *gasp* *Cough Cough Cough*"

Zane's lips twisted into a frown that would put even Cole's to shame. Along with Ayane's constant sniffing, the ice wielder been keeping tally on how many coughs she expelled.

That makes sixty-seven… He thought grimly. How long am I supposed to just sit here?! Zane's fingers flashed across the keyboard in a blur, stabbing at the keys much harder than was necessary as his anger rose.

Ayane's temperature had not decreased since this morning and had remained a steady high 101.3 degrees Fahrenheit for the pass nine hours. She had refused to swallow a single pill or ounce of liquid medicine since doing so would dictate that she was, in fact, sick. So the notion was out of the question in her book. She would rather cough up a lung than admit to illness and Zane, with all his calm and patience, was beginning to get irritated.

"*Cough*…*gasp* *Cough Cough*…"

Just then, all of Zane's senses pierced his core at once and abrupt consternation from his EF caused him to immediately rise from his seat.

"Ayane!" He had shouted her name before he even turned around, and dashed the few steps it took to reach and catch Amaterasu's daughter before her falling body could hit the floor. Ayane groaned miserably in Zane's arms, her body hot with fever. With her eyes clenched shut in pain and discomfort, she tethered on the planes of consciousness until sickness and fatigue won out and she fell limp and into oblivion.

Thinking quickly, Zane sprinted from the Game Room and made it to his room in record time. He gently placed Ayane on his bed and removed her bandana and gloves. She coughed again, the haggard sound wet and agonizing. He deduced that her congestion was most likely due to accrued phlegm and she would need medicine to remedy that and her fever.

Before exiting, however, he made sure she was tucked properly under his covers and left, leaving the door open just in case. Zane knew it wasn't wise to panic, although with his quickened steps, his mind was engulfed with troublesome thoughts.

What was it for, Ayane? Why push yourself needlessly? I don't understand…

As Zane entered the kitchen, he spotted other members of his clan moseying about-Cole, Sasha, and Ebony respectively. The tall red-head was the first to notice him.

"Hey Zane," she greeted warmly. Her hands paused in their task of chopping up vegetables, and Zane nearly cringed at the sight. His phobia of the nutritious delicacies still plagued him every now and then, but he wasn't about to let his discomfort show. Not when more pressing matters were at hand. "How's Ayane doing?"

Zane averted his gaze from Sasha and strode to the cabinets beside the stove, coincidently where Ebony was stationed. "She's resting now. In my room," he replied, opening the overhead cupboard.

"That's good." Sasha nodded to herself and resumed slicing the carrot in her hand. "I'm glad she finally felt the need to rest. She's been going nonstop since this morning."

Zane's eyes moved from one pill bottle to the next, scanning the label of each one diligently as he talked. "Yes she has, and because of her obstinacy she collapsed due to the exhaustion her illness fraught her with."

"She collapsed!" Cole exclaimed, closing the freezer door to the refrigerator, a large frozen roast in his hands. Sasha stopped slicing and whirled on Zane in disbelief.

"What?! Why?! Why didn't she just stop and rest?! It wouldn't have killed her!"

"I don't know why, Sasha," Zane countered lowly, his anger and frustration peeking inevitably on the horizon. He suddenly leveled the Brazilian with a withering glare over his shoulder. "You should not have interfered this morning," he growled. "All Ayane needed was a little more coaxing from me and she would have conceded."

Sasha met Zane's glower with shock, for she was unaccustomed with seeing such blatant irritability in her dear friend's eyes, particularly so when such a stare was directed at her. She shrunk back speechless, and Cole frowned, dumping tonight's dinner in the sink. He went to stand between Sasha and Zane's accusatory glare.

"Back off, Zane. It's not Sasha's fault," Cole refuted stonily and the elder of the two turned to face the other. Zane opened his mouth, but another voice chimed in, one as silky and smooth as caramel drizzling over milk chocolate.

"When it comes to Ayane's wellbeing you really do lose some of your steadfast coolness, Zane," Ebony said, her calm gaze currently fixated on her uncle's teakettle heating on the stove. "But Cole's right. You shouldn't place the blame where it doesn't belong for no one on this ship is responsible for Ayane's health but Ayane herself."

Zane closed his mouth and cut his cold hazel optics to the one beside him. "And if her obstinacy comes in the way of her better judgment? What is to be done? Nothing? I simply leave her to suffer?"

Russet garnet irises swiveled toward Zane's direction, although her head didn't budge an inch. "Of course not," she contested. "However, given Ayane's history and behavior intricacies it should be no surprise to anyone that she'd pushed herself to the brink despite the likelihood of her fainting."

Zane's crass demeanor gave way to shock as did Sasha and Cole stand more upright at Ebony's words. Sasha came around to situate herself at Cole's shoulder, her expression a grand show of bewilderment.

"What do you mean?" She asked.

The spout of the teakettle shrieked a shrill whistle and Ebony removed it from the stove to place on a tray along with two cups and a diminutive chrome container which housed her uncle's assorted tea blends. She picked up the tray and turned to face the others.

"Her mother, remember?" The Kunoichi of Darkness then gave Zane a sidelong look. "I'm actually surprised that you didn't figure it out yourself, Zane. I had thought you knew Ayane better than she knew herself."

Zane didn't comment nor did he try to refute her claim. His Light's unnecessary stubbornness and hubris all made sense to him now. I should have known…of course… Wordlessly, he turned back around to the medicine cabinet and retrieved the bottle of pills that would assist best in Ayane's recovery.

"Wait a second," Sasha shook her head, not catching on as quickly as Zane did and placed her hand on Ebony's shoulder to stop her before the younger kunoichi could leave. Cole also frowned in confusion. "Yes, we've all heard the story about Ayane taking care of her mother when she was sick, but what has that got to do with her own illness? It still doesn't warrant her being so stubborn and neglecting her health. There's no one here for her to take care of."

Zane decisively grabbed a bottle of water from the refrigerator and strode out of the kitchen, his mind resolute. The three remaining occupants followed his retreat, two with questionable expressions and one with the barest hint of a smile.

"It's not about taking care of another, Sasha. Not this time. It's about the sense of responsibility in general. In wolf society, each member has their own duties they must perform in order to guarantee the livelihood of the pack. And if one proves to be a burden and neglects their duties, by sickness, injury, or otherwise, then they are either chased out or simply left behind by the other members. This animalistic mentality of Ayane's has been breed into her bones and may not be easily corrected, if ever. She is a curious one, our sister."

Sasha and Cole both turned back to Ebony, eyes wide. "So you're saying that Ayane's psychological blockage is due to her…being…a wolf?" Cole asked carefully and Ebony shrugged, still wearing her faint smile.

"In spirit, yes, and the pride of a wolf should never be underestimated. But I have no definitive proof, it's only a theory that I have just recently concocted. And perchance her uncle can tell us more. For now, however, I do believe all she needs is a compensating verbalization, someone to remind her of logic and reason as well as take care of her. Thus, perhaps Shiva's son—the calm sagacity of a snow leopard—may serve as this much needed counterbalance."

*~Chibijago!~*

Zane found Ayane exactly where he left her, and while color did return to her face due to her resting, she still looked somewhat pained in her sleep. She coughed the same mucus-infused cough and her fever had risen a few degrees as well. Zane knew that without medication, Ayane's condition would only worsen. But as he stood beside her prone body with said medicine and a bottle of water in hand, he was met with a sudden conundrum.

How am I supposed to have her ingest these pills? I cannot possibly wake her. She needs all the sleep she can get…

His brow furrowed briefly in deliberation before he got an idea and kneeled down beside the bed. He unscrewed the cap to the pill bottle and inserted two capsules into his own mouth, and then did the same to the bottle of water and took a small swig. Gently, he tilted Ayane's chin and pressed his cool lips onto her feverish ones, parting them with his tongue. At once, the pills and the water transferred from his mouth to hers and Ayane swallowed both reflexively.

Zane pulled back slowly and wiped the corner of her mouth with a brush of his thumb as some of the water escaped. He then went to retrieve a wet cloth from his bathroom and placed it on her forehead. Finally, with all he could do for her accomplished, he pulled up a chair to her beside and settled down on it to wait.

"Rest well, Ayane," he murmured sweetly. "I'll be here as soon as you wake up."

And as promised, Zane didn't move from his seat, only getting up to repeat his remedial kiss after enough hours had passed, as well as rewet Ayane's cloth and cool it with his power so that it would remain cold for longer durations. Ayane convalesced in her sleep all throughout the afternoon hours and all the members of the Destiny's Bounty came to check on her and Zane periodically to see how the two were fairing. Why, even Hayate expressed his concern and flew in through Zane's window to perch loyally above Ayane's head on the headboard, nervously alternating between flittering and preening as he waited faithfully with his fellow robotic companion.

It wasn't until the early evening that Ayane's fever broke and she finally opened her eyes. She blinked lethargically and was blessed with the sight of Hayate's sharp expression peering down at her and Zane's relieved smile, his form planted solidly on the bed's edge.

She blinked again. "Zane…? Hayate…? Where…" Unsure of her surroundings, the bed-ridden kunoichi tried to sit up, but was quickly stopped by Zane's firm hand on her belly.

"Don't try to move yet, dearest. Rest easy, you are in my room at the moment," he explained in a soothing whisper.

Still a little confused, Ayane was just about to ask a question when suddenly her body convulsed into a coughing fit. With her eyes squeezed shut in renewed pain, she immediately covered her mouth with her hand until she finished. Zane quickly offered the bottle of water to her which she took gratefully and downed the rest of the cool liquid, savoring the feel as it soothed her burning throat.

Zane retrieved the now empty bottle from her and watched forlornly as she gave him a despairing look before turning away. Ayane had been about to ask her beau what had happened to her, but during her recent convulsions, her mind readjusted and had replayed the scene prior to her fainting. Now all she felt was shame and guilt for worrying not only Zane, but most likely everyone on the Bounty.

Ayane grimaced as she felt the familiar sting of tears. Damnit…this wasn't supposed to happen. If only I'd held out until all my chores were done… The huntress' chest tightened with both physical and emotional pain as another sickening cough escaped her.

Zane gave a subtle sigh, understanding her plight and decided to finally confront her on the matter and voice his thoughts.

"Ayane—"

"I'm really sorry, Zane…" Ayane interjected softly, her voice hoarse and weak from so much coughing. "You shouldn't have had to do this."

Zane nodded. "You are right, I shouldn't have had to." Ayane stiffened. "But I suppose it is only natural, yes? To want to take care of the one you love?"

Ayane kept her head turned the other direction, but Zane smiled nonetheless at seeing the bright blush beautify her cheeks.

"I understand, Ayane. Truly I do, you have a very fine sense of responsibility and duty. But shouldn't your compassion be spread to your wellbeing as well? And what's more is that you should rely on your friends and family when you need help. There is absolutely nothing for you to be ashamed of."

Zane reached forward and brushed aside bangs of spun gold as Ayane turned to face him, her eyes wet with unshed tears. She peered at the love of her life in earnest and although her eyes no longer bore a sickly haze, they still shone with remorse.

"Zane, throughout my eighteen years of life I've only been sick four times including this one. The first was when my mother was still alive and I took care of her…I simply persevered, convinced that my own suffering was miniscule compared to hers. Uncle Dai couldn't even stop me. And…I just kept that mentality. No matter what I was going through myself, I was going to fulfill my responsibilities and I was going to do them with my own two hands."

Ayane sniffed, but still no tears fell. "That's the reason why I always have a hard time asking for help when I feel responsible for something. Even in Shika, the only true friend I had my own age was Hansuke and he'd been taking care of his seven younger siblings since he was fourteen. I guess you can say I found a kindred spirit within him, ya'know? For someone as laid-back and goofy as he was, he shouldered so much responsibility without a single complaint or objection. He also joined the Hunting Pack, and not just out of obligation for being a man, but for wanting to do more for his village. Just knowing Hansuke gave me even more resolve to do all I could for Shika. I happily volunteered to look after children when their parents needed a break and I worked hard to join the Hunting Pack too."

A cross between a laugh and a cough emitted from her and her chest heaved momentarily so she could gasp in a breath of air. Zane looked on with concern, but Ayane simply smiled and continued. "We as the Hunting Pack followed after the hunting tactics of wolves and worked together to bring down our prey. And regardless of me getting along well with all the other members, I still often times than not hunted alone. On occasions I was joined by either Hansuke or Uncle Dai, and we worked well together, but…" The Heavenly Archer released a shaky sigh and twisted her finger around the hem of Zane's sheets. "I don't know," she breathed. "I guess I really am a lone wolf through and through…"

A strained smile was plastered across Ayane's lips and it was plain to see how distraught she was. Zane shook his head and placed his hand atop of hers, halting her nervous action. "You may be a wolf, but I think you've proven since you've been here that you are not a lone one. The Kunoichi are your sisters as the Ninja are your brothers and I… Ayane, I am neither Hansuke nor Daichi. I am your significant other, and as such I wish for nothing more than your happiness and wellbeing. We share a bond, do we not? Your pain is my pain and you have tried my forbearance today a great deal."

Ayane cringed at his words. However, Zane reassured her with a tender squeeze to her hand, winter pale and summer tan contrasting beautifully against the pure white sheets. "Now I know it is impossible for a person to change overnight. All I really ask for though is for you to come to me when you need to. Rely on me to take care of you."

The Russian hybrid's eyes then shined with a cunning glint. "I believe the experience will serve us both well in regards to our future marriage, da?" (Yes) At seeing Ayane's comical slack-jawed expression, Zane couldn't help the charming laughter that erupted from his chest, and the blonde's face immediately turned crimson.

She pouted. "You're terrible. You shouldn't tease a sick person."

The nindroid recovered, an easy smile playing happily on his lips. "I see, so now you are ill." He nodded once. "Duly noted."

"Oh you!" Ayane grabbed one of Zane's fluffy white pillows and lugged it playfully at his face. Laughing, Zane caught the object meant to do him so much harm and tugged on it once to anchor his scarred angel closer to him.

Now sitting up and wide-eyed, Ayane's face turned a new shade of red as Zane held her close. How many months has it been since they first admitted their love for each other? How many gentle caresses and heartfelt kisses have they've shared? Ayane's heart pounded in anticipation when Zane's eyes flitted purposefully down to her lips. Always a gentleman, it was his way of silently asking for a kiss, and Ayane always gave her permission with a shy glance to his lips in kind.

Like the sun and the moon converging into sweet forbidden harmony, the kiss they shared next touched the other deep in their souls, igniting their passion. Zane nibbled gently on the supple curve of Ayane's lower lip which enticed a wanton moan to sing from deep within her breast. With the kiss becoming ever so slightly more fervent, Ayane shivered as her beau's frosty breath intermingled with hers and careened blissfully throughout her body. And Zane, feeling Ayane's sacred warmth engulf every wire and circuit within him, pulled his love even closer, always and forever wanting more of the sanctifying heat only his angel could provide.

The kiss was becoming more than Ayane's still ailing body to handle, so she inevitably pulled back first. She coughed lightly into her hand and could feel the pain in between her temples returning. But in spite of her pursuing ailments, Zane's minty taste lingered on her tongue, thoroughly placating and lifting her spirits.

She blushed and leaned into his embrace, bashfully hiding her face in his shoulder. "Oh Zane… I'll try, okay? Not just for you or for me, but for us. And…you were right about the others too. I need to apologize to them for how stubborn I've been."

Zane hugged Ayane to him, relishing in her warmth and delicate lavender and honeysuckle scent. He turned his face into her bright golden locks and sighed contently. "I do not believe that would be truly necessary, but if you must then by all means. But more importantly, are you willing to let me take care of you? The way significant others are meant to do for each other?"

Unable to hold herself up any longer, Ayane released her weight and slumped tiredly against Zane. "Yes…" she whispered, surrendering. Her frame shook with each painful cough. She caught her breath and shook her head. "Please… I don't feel very well…"

Zane helped Ayane to lie back down and made her comfortable under his covers once more. "It is about time for you to take another dosage of medicine, but you will have to eat something with it or you may have to add "stomachache" to your list of ailments," Zane advised.

Ayane frowned in distaste. "I'm not really hungry though."

"Yes, I figured when you did not eat breakfast this morning," Zane replied. "However to consume medicine without sustenance for long durations can be hazardous. Anything will do just as long as you eat something…"

Zane took a moment to think about what he could possibly serve Ayane that would be easy on her stomach. He knew pot roast and vegetables were to be served tonight for dinner, but the heavy chunks of meat and veggies didn't bode well for the light kunoichi's sensitive proclivity at the moment.

"Porridge." Zane looked to Ayane in surprise and the blonde smiled, her fatigue apparent. "I think I'll be able to eat some porridge. It's what Uncle Dai made me when I was sick a few years back."

Zane grinned and nodded his affirmation. "Very well. And how did your uncle prepare it?"

"He grated radishes in it," Ayane replied softly, her eyes somewhat distant as she recalled the memory of her uncle's cooking. "Green onions too, but no bitter stuff I think. It was rice porridge."

The Ninja of Ice rose from the bed readily. "Then I shall make it for you," he declared, then bent down to place a chaste kiss on her brow. "Rest and I will return shortly." He then lifted his head and eyed the purple falcon who had remained the silent observer the whole time. "Look after her, my friend."

During Zane's absence, Ayane received a second round of visits from all the members of the Nomad Clan. Each were happy to see her health steadily improving and gave her words of encouragement to get better. Ayane apologized to her sisters and brothers as she said she would, but her fellow clansmen and teacher shrugged off her requests for forgiveness with positive consent.

Zane returned some time later—after everyone had left for dinner-with a tray in his hands: a small steaming bowl of rice porridge on top along with a cold bottle of water. Ayane had been lightly dozing under Hayate's watchful eyes, but sat up at her beau's arrival. She sniffed and grabbed a tissue Zane had supplied on his nightstand while he situated the tray beside the box.

"I wish I could smell it, but I can't," Ayane lamented, the tissue held up to her nose. "But it looks good. Thank you, Zane."

"You are very welcome, my dear. Know that I am always happy to assist you in any way I can."

Although he didn't say, Zane took great care in preparing Ayane's porridge. He had meticulously grated the radish and sliced the green pepper used to garnish the boiling meal and flavored it using a subtle blend of herbs and spices. He played culinary connoisseur to his own work several times to make certain that absolutely no bitterness tainted the porridge. And again, he didn't say, but he was very proud of the outcome. However, the true verdict was yet to come.

"I wish I could've seen you in your apron again," Ayane said as Zane stirred her bowl of porridge languidly. He glanced at her, gentility lighting his handsome face.

"Really?"

"Yes, really. I always enjoy watching you wander around the kitchen with your apron on, happily preparing a great meal for all of us." Zane's idle glance turned into a full blown stare as Ayane beamed so adoringly at him. The spoon in his hand stopped moving. "Although a frilly-pink-white-polka-dotted apron looks kinda weird on such a tall and dashing man," a delicate blush extended across her cheeks, "you—somehow—make it work. And I know I've said this before, but…you are truly an amazing individual, Zane. I…I am incredibly lucky to have you…beside me…loving me."

"Ayane…you're wrong." Zane suddenly stopped short; the words said had flown from his mouth before he had a chance to think about them. Usually, he exhibited deliberation and forethought before he spoke his mind, however the impulse sent from his EF dictated he say what he felt. And so, seeing no reason to doubt himself, he continued, persuaded by the numerous avid emotions flooding his system.

He reached for her and tenderly caressed her soft flushed cheek. "The praise you've just given me should be directed at you. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't count my blessings for having your love and respect. I had admired you from afar at the beginning, but even when I have you close enough to touch I still admire you…and I don't think I will ever stop."

Zane glided his thumb over Ayane's lower lip, captivated as always by the faded scar line that cut through it. "We are different, you and I. One born, one created. One always giving off the warmth of a summer's sun, while the other emits a chilling coldness felt from the likes of a full moon on a winter's night. A proud wolf…and an elusive snow leopard. However, from these differences I truly believe we are compatible because we share similarities in between, and that is what forged our bond. And as time passes—as we grow more as a couple—the bond we share between us only strengthens…never weakens."

This wouldn't be the first time Ayane's been rendered speechless by Zane's charming articulation. And it also wouldn't be the first time that Hayate chose that particular instant to hop from his perch and onto the blonde's head. But the ailing kunoichi barely felt the added weight of the mechanical avian, even as it set to work preening both its violet plumage and it's…"nest".

"Zane, I…" What could she say exactly? Simply saying the words "I love you" seemed too miniscule at the moment, especially since she felt a cornucopia of so much more than "love" for the ice ninja. Thus, despite her blush and despite her less than stellar way with words, she was going to try to convey her feelings the best way she could.

My brain feels clogged, but who cares! I have to say this!

She sniffed and balled the tissue in her hand. "Zane, I…" She looked at him, his kind pure hazel gaze representing the world she came from. A profound mixture of rich browns and luscious greens… A beauitful forest. Every time Ayane peered into Zane's eyes, she felt at home. And as long as their love lasted and she was beside him, she would be home.

She opened her mouth to say these things to him, but try as she might the words wouldn't come up from her heart. Zane saw the plethora of emotions play across Ayane's face; his angel was always a theater to remarkable cinema after all. He understood her delay, and simply smiled patiently. That's when Ayane realized her fault, for wouldn't it be better to feel the words residing in her heart than to hear them.

Clearing her mind of what she could say, she decided to let her actions speak for themselves and resolutely reached out to frame his face with her hands.

She would tell him…in her own way…

Hayate cocked his head to the side inquisitively as his two friends pressed their lips together. Having a mate of his own, he understood the need to display affection, but to do it in such a manner was much too inconvenient for his taste. He had only pressed his beak to his mate's to exchange food, and theirs had been opened at the time. Furthermore, he only did so because she was roosting on their eggs and was unable to hunt for herself.

He shuffled lightly on his talons, always marveling at the sheer thickness and softness of his Ayane-friend's mane. If only she was more stationary, he would've happily invited his mate over to lay her eggs on such a plush and warm crown. He moved his beak lazily through a few flight feathers on his port wing. Oh well, Hayate knew he couldn't have his meadowlark and eat it too. He and his mate, Miyuki, had worked long and hard to build their nest, and he was very much proud of their home in its completion.

And speaking of which, driven by mutually love and duty, he had to return to his mate. She was going to start getting "peckish" soon with nothing to eat and the last thing he wanted was a grumpy female waiting for him at home. So with casting his friends one last sharp look, Hayate spread his wings and took flight, fluttering gracefully out the open window of Zane's room.

Hayate's exodus had ruffled both Zane and Ayane's hair, but neither stirred from their affectionate embrace until Ayane broke the spell they had been under by pulling back. Despite her best efforts, her body never failed to remind her that she was ill and needed rest. Although, seeing Zane's bright smile and amorously hooded eyes was well worth the pain.

"Hmm… Message received…" he whispered and the blonde promptly blushed and settled back against the headboard.

She looked away and her gaze found the still slightly steaming bowl of rice porridge on Zane's nightstand. She made a move to grab for it, but Zane's quick hand intercepted hers and grasped it first.

"Please, allow me, moy angel. Sit back and let me cater to you…"

Ayane's blush deepened, though she didn't dispute Zane's debonair offer and proceeded to let him spoon-feed her. She moaned in serene appreciation after each flavorful spoonful she swallowed, the taste soothing and warming her from head to toe. And Ayane's vocal clarifications of enjoyment were more than enough to relieve Zane of any prior trepidation he had towards her liking his added ingredients.

After the last spoonful had been swallowed, Ayane sat back with a sigh of satisfaction. "That was great, Zane. Thank you very much. I feel like there was medicine hidden inside every bite. Just eating it helped me out."

Zane lightly chuckled and raised a tissue to wipe away a few loose grains from the corner of Ayane's mouth. "I'm glad, but the medicine comes now," he said and made ready two capsules from the pill bottle.

Ayane blinked sleepily and eyed Zane's actions with wonder. "Oh…that reminds me… You said that it was time for…another dosage, right?" She asked and the nindroid nodded, smiling a knowing smile. And none the wiser, Ayane continued to muse. "But I was asleep, right? So how did you get me to take them?"

If anything, Zane's smile broadened. "Please, allow me to demonstrate…"

"Huh…?"

Not willing to give anything else away, Zane casually stood up and went to flip the light switch. Bemused and more than a little oblivious of the situation, Ayane simply watched Zane as he made his way back to her, his body swathed in the beautiful moonlight created by the late evening. Still silent, Zane emitted a certain je ne sais quoi and purposely slipped under the sheets beside Ayane, and the archer blushed as his eyes glinted in the darkness, being able to perceive the faint hue of frigid blue in his depths.

His eyes… It's like a winter mist has blanketed the forest…

Transfixed with the appealing sight, Ayane was pulled willingly closer to Zane's side as the other enveloped her in his embrace. They sat like that for a moment, draped in the requiem of the day's passing, arms wrapped snuggly around each other.

Ayane swallowed, not sure what was supposed to happen next, but nonetheless didn't lift her cheek from Zane's chest. "Um…Zane?" She tentatively whispered. It was obvious she was reluctant to disturb the romantic ambience between them. She sniffed. "What about the medicine? You said…you were…going to…"

Ayane drifted off as she felt strong fingers underneath her chin, coaxing her to tilt her head back. She once again was greeted with Zane's charming countenance, and before long…euphoria engulfed her entirely as his lips found hers in the moonlit gloom. The cold wetness of them alarmed her at first, but she soon understood the meaning when his skilled tongue plied apart her lips and water trickled blissfully down her throat…along with two curative capsules. She found herself swallowing instinctively. However, she wasn't ready to break the kiss just yet…

With renewed strength and rekindled passion, Ayane wrung her arms tight around Zane's neck and this time, gently coaxed him to lie down on top of her. The spiritual she-wolf smiled wolfishly in her mind as her regal snow leopard purred his pleasure to her. And as the sun and moon danced their forbidden waltz in the night, Ayane couldn't help but think that getting sick every now and then may not be so bad after all.
Chibijago! Of Sick Wolves and Caring Snow Leopards

This was a request by birthdaypi: I absolutely love this story and this chapter actually made me tear up at how beautifully written it was! And a request: In Cause and Effect, Jay says that everybody on the Bounty, except for Zane and Ebony, had been sick. So I was wondering what happened when Ayane got sick and how Zane would have reacted.

Sorry for the long wait friends! Hope you all enjoyed!

All Reviews/Requests are welcome! Oh and I'll be finishing up 'Dearly Beloved' soon!

P.S. 

I tried to fit the silver snow leopard on the left to represent Zane, but the image wouldn't fit! :(

Loading...
Theme Eleven: Another Freaky Friday?! Why?

"Wow, the Leader of the Ninja sure sleeps like a rock…I like the irony."

Uh…huh? Who is that? I never heard this voice before…Why is a guy in my bedroom…?

I blearily open my eyes…

Huh? What the…Sasha never said she had a brother…? More importantly…why is he in bed with me?!

Familiar storm grey eyes sparkle playfully and even more familiar cream-colored lips curve seductively in a smile…the only difference is…while this guy looked disturbingly too much like Sasha…everything about him screamed masculinity…

What… exactly…

"Hmm…mornin' there fruit tits…lean over and give yo' man a kiss…"

"AHHHH!" I scramble backwards out of bed and end up unceremoniously on the floor in a tangle of black sheets. My mind is going a mile-a-minute! That voice! My voice! I manage to detangle myself fairly quickly and rise to my feet. My…longer than usual hair is in the way, but my mind is too frazzled right now to push it back. Instead my hand goes immediately to my throat.

"What happened to me!?" I scream…in a purely girly voice. My heart is beating too fast! I feel like it's going to burst out of my chest! I clutch said chest in fear… Why does it feel so heavy…

MY CHEST! I HAVE BOOBS! AND VERY BIG ONES AT THAT!

"Calm down, honey. Don't stress yourself," Man-Sasha says to me and gets up from my bed. She—He tries to approach me with open arms, but I backpedal hastily until my back hits the wall.

She—He smiles assuredly and continues to make her—his way towards me.

"Our Gods and Goddesses have struck again, but don't worry. It was meant to happen this time because me and my sisters—heh…I mean brothers asked them to," she—he explains smoothly and stops in front of me. The voice coming from this person is deeper and she/he is taller than me, and…long loose red tresses…some of them fall over… his smooth fit shoulder…an open button-up shirt…delectable caramel skin…a hard chest with rippling muscles…those abs…and…and a vague dusky view of narrow hips disappearing into aqua-colored drawstring pants…

I'm starting to feel weird…

I quickly shake my head, my long-ass hair finally granting me proper sight. I furiously tuck it behind my ear and even more furiously level SASHA with a hard glare.

"Sasha, what the hell do you mean?! Why ask them to do this?!" I yell up at…him…urgh!

He shrugs nonchalantly. "We wanted to find out what it felt like to be dominant for a change. Nothing wrong with mixin' it up for once, right?" He winks. "And don't worry; the effects will only last for an odd number of hours. We told them we'd let them know when to change us back."

"TELL THEM TO CHANGE US BACK NOW!" I demand hotly. Forget my composure! I feel too damn weird! I want things back to normal right now!

"Oh c'mon Colette, where's your sense of adventure? We can…try a few things…" He licks his lips suggestively and my face goes instantly red with anger and mortification.

"I don't want to try anything with you while we're like this! I never looked into the mirror and wished I was a woman! And if you ever call me "Colette" again, I'll bite your head off!"

Platinum irises widen. "Ohhh, kinky! Now you're gettin' into the spirit of things!"

I ball my significantly smaller fists angrily at my…curvy sides. "SASHA!"

A charming smile. "Please, call me "Stefan"…" A poster-boy flick of the head is performed, causing the fire-locks to flutter beautifully. "…your Caribbean Cabana boy…"

"SASHA!"

"Do you have any idea how beautiful you are?" He suddenly asks and leans in close and I respond by literally plastering myself to the wall in fear. "And would you look at these massive bagongas…" his hands suddenly cup both my breasts and my mouth opens to release some sort of strangled squawkin' bird call, but this…blasphemous "man" in front of me carries on undisturbed. "Definitely an even swap, eh? A huge cock for huge jugs…"

Something inside me snaps and I lash out with an open-palmed right hand.

*SLAP!*

"Oww!" Sasha recoils back and places a hand to his cheek, giving me the evil eye. "Hey, what the hell was that for?! I never slapped you when you did that!"

"Yeah well, I never just grabbed you!" I snap back.

"Oh! So you expect for me to woo you then?! We don't have time for that!"

Having another irrevocable urge, I snap my fingers up in his face and roll my eyes. "Well you better make the time if you want this femmina to put out!" (girl) Instant realization dawns on me at what I just said and I cover my mouth in utter humiliation, my face lighting up again.

I close my eyes tight. What the hell am I saying?! And where the hell did that finger-snappin' thing come from?! Wait…I know where!

I open my eyes in a flash and point a trembling accusatory finger at the woman-gone-man person before me.

"This is…your fault! You did this and now you're going to fi—mmmppfff!" I'm soundly silenced by the firm planting of soft and achingly familiar lips on mine. "Mmmmppfff!" I grip Sasha's shoulders and try to shove him away, but suddenly… I'm gently pulled from the wall and warm fingers are pressed deeply into my scalp.

"Mmmmmmm…."

I'm still sensitive there and although the hands are larger, they're still very soothing…like Sasha's. Pleasure is gradually being replaced by anger, but I don't want to give in. I don't want to play this game!

With renewed vigor, I began to struggle in his arms in an effort to break the kiss.

Then…

Oh…damn…

A very Sasha-like maneuver is used. A velvety tongue glides over my lower lip before being entrapped between two plump curves and promptly suckled. A swarm of bliss engulfs my mind and I can't help but want to pull him closer.

That's right…it's a him, but…I'm a her…It's Sasha…my Sasha…Damn…why did she have to do this…

One of us is moaning but I can't tell who. Too discombobulated. Too beguiled. Maybe, it's both of us.

I slant my head as I usually do and a tango of tongues ensues. Yes, now I feel like I'm on a sunny beach enjoying a juicy ripe mango. This is Sasha's taste, this sinfully sweet addicting tropical fruit flavor. My arms ache to be encircled around that strong neck, but I don't give in to the submissive role and slink my arms under his and place them where they're supposed to be if I was back in my body, around her waist.

Sasha abruptly pulls back and the kiss is broken with a wet smack.

I lick my lips. Damn that was good…It would've been much better if I was in my own body though…

"Unbelievable…"

I crane my neck some to look up at him. His face was pulled into a hard frown, his brow creased in utter disbelief as he peers down at me.

"Huh…?" I ask, wondering why we stopped. Hell, if I was going to be stuck like this until he was satisfied then at least I could enjoy kissing for the time being to help me forget about my unfortunate circumstance.

"Regardless of being a girl…you still want to be dominating."

I mirror his frown. "What? I'm supposed to automatically submit to you just because you're a man?"

His eyes widen incredulously. "Great Leviathan! I should've brought my tape recorder for what you just said!" The sharp contours of Sasha's face darken to blatant ire and he points at himself. "I have tried to muscle in a little control over you, Cole Belmonte, but you always rebuff me!"

I take in the foreign heavy basso of my favorite red-head's voice and look him up and down. "Rebuff you? What are you talking about?"

The anger gradually recedes and sadness unfortunately takes its place. "You really don't know?" He laments quietly. "Cole, I've… Every time we've gotten physical, I find myself always or eventually under you. All I want is a little leverage and leeway with you." Stormy depths gaze sadly into my eyes. "Why can't you give me that?"

My mouth falls open. "Sasha…I… I didn't know… I never meant to smother you. Was I really being that controlling?" I ask timidly and he looks away, the melancholy still playing on his face.

Oh man… I forwardly admit to having too much fun during me and Sasha's alone time. But I always thought she enjoyed my assertiveness and initiative. And now that I actually stop to think about what she said, I have always rebuffed her when she tried to take control during one of our many affectionate activities.

A cold lump settles in my stomach and I peer regrettably up at him, his face still turned away. I reach up and smooth my palm over his cheek, gently coaxing him to look at me. "I'm sorry," I say sincerely and give him a hopeful smile. "You know I love you and the last thing I want to do is make you feel diminutive. From now on, I promise to listen more closely to you. I'll let you lead when you want to."

It's the sadness's turn to slowly recede and hope sparkles in his eyes. "Really?" He smiles and I return it.

"Really."

Sasha's newly acquired handsome features brighten considerably, but I watch with slight wariness when another smirk appears. "Great! I'd like to try now!"

A barely have time to utter a "HUH?!" before I'm swept off my feet and into his arms. "Sasha!" I bellow, my scathing anger resurfacing quicker than I ever thought possible. "What the hell are you doing!? Put me down right now!"

I kick my feet for emphasis, but all I get in return is a hearty deep chuckle. "I'm glad we came to an understanding, but I don't want to turn back to normal just yet." His smirk broadens until a curve of white teeth peeks through provocatively creamy lips. "You look too damn sexy in those capris and you look about ready to bust right out of your blouse. And most of all, I kinda like man-handling you, my beautiful Colette…"

Again, before I can say anything, I'm flung back onto my bed, my long loose hair frustratingly obscuring my vision due to my consecutive bouncing. I growl irritably while casting aside the unruly black strands and snarl up at the towering red-head.

"Don't call me "Colette"!" I bark angrily. "And I never man-handled you!"

To my chagrin, Sasha simply shrugs his broad shoulders. "True," he says lightly, then hungrily meets my eyes with another damnable smirk. "But I'm not you."

My eyes widen and I open my mouth to scream, but am once again silenced by his kiss.

0_0 *Chibijago!* 0_0

"Fascinating… Incredibly fascinating…" I run my new dainty appendages over my surprising plump and soft bosoms and another tingle of pleasure surges heavenly through my system. "Hmmm…" My moan of satisfaction is twofold. "I am delighted to know that I was right. The female body is undoubtedly more beautiful than a man's."

I glance down at the blonde man whose hips I was currently straddling, his large, but still attractive sun-kissed hands covering his face. "Would you not agree, my dear?" I question pleasantly. Intrigued once more by my new more feminine voice, I say a few more sentences just to hear myself speak. "Yes, this experience is truly educational! I am most pleased!" My face softens in love for the man below me. "I must thank you again, dearest. I now feel so much closer to you. This is good for us."

"Zane…" The voice below is deep, rugged, but quivered slightly with emotion and my female body shivers with pleasure just from hearing it. "Just one thing…"

There's still that certain lightness in the masculine tone that I adore, and my coronary circuitry remembers and pulls me forward. I am getting increasingly excited and my hands itch to touch my anatomy's most sensitive areas. "Anything, my love."

With his appealing visage still covered, he chokes out his next words. "Please, stop groping yourself! I can't take it!"

I cock my head to the side, bewildered. "Why not? Are you getting aroused?"

My verbal question receives a nonverbal answer as a small tremor quakes his body.

I smile gently at the familiar bashfulness. "Here, allow me to check…" I start to scoot slightly back along my angel's narrow hips, but am abruptly halted by his hands and voice.

"No! Zane, stop it!" Ayane cries and sits up in a flash, his hands hard on my hips. I stare wide-eyed at his handsome and flushed face, his strong chest heaving from his sudden outburst. He swallows audibly and sucks in a deep breath before slowly letting it out with his next words. "Don't. Please. That's not very lady-like," he chastises in a worried whisper and lifts me from his hips.

I am currently adorned in a very large white T-shirt and matching undergarments, so it would've been rather easy for me to ascertain if he had an erection or not. But apparently that particular behavior seemed too uncouth for Ayane's standards and he looks quite upset. I did not mean for that to happen.

I make no move or sound of protest and allow him to place me on the bed. His two-toned irises of sky blue and mint green scour over my body nervously as his hands leave me. The look of vexation and bafflement appears out of place amongst his blushing cheeks and I place my hand on his shoulder in an act of comfort.

"My apologies, angel. I did not mean to upset you," I state in remorse and he shakes his head sharply.

"No, no! It's just that…uh…" A quick hand runs through his bright golden bangs and locks, and I take intuitive note that the "Female Ayane" never performed such a mannerism, but the reason for that may be because of the longer length in hair this "Male Ayane" has. How curious…

"Geez Zane, I came here because I was worried about you," he says earnestly, his face genuinely fretful. "I thought you'd be afraid or at least upset to wake up suddenly as a girl."

I nod in understanding and slide my hand down the exposed length of his sinewy arm, my feminine mind satisfied with the feel of hard muscle. "Your sentiment was correct. I was indeed surprised by the revelation of my new supple body, but intrigue won over my shock and I wanted to conduct a few simple experiments."

At my words, Ayane's face flushes with beautiful scarlet and he turns away. "Y-Yes, I noticed w-when I came in," he mutters.

I fiddle with a more silvery lock of my short hair and grace Ayane with another smile. "Ah yes, you were saying that you were against the forced alterations of our male bodies, correct?" I inquire and Ayane whips his head back around with narrowed eyes and pursed lips, his blush disappearing completely.

"Of course I voted against turning you guys into girls! But…" she deflates; anger never lasts long within Ayane. "But I was the only one against it, so I was promptly overruled and ignored by the others."

I move closer to him, feeling an irrevocable urge to snuggle in his arms and alleviate his qualms. But judging by Ayane's previous distress to my forwardness, I don't follow through with the notion and settle for placing my hand on top of his. My skin coating is just as pale and insipid as it should be and still derives an elegant contrast when placed atop the fetchingly sunbathed skin of Ayane.

"Do not fret, my dear," I say soothingly. "I am sure my brothers will see the transformations as learning experiences."

Ayane looks at me with a raised eyebrow, clearly doubtful, but doesn't say anything and I take it as my cue to continue. "Oh, and did you not also mention that the reason for this experimentation was to reverse the roles and exact dominance?"

His shoulders slouch. "Yeah…"

I can't help the airy giggle from escaping my lips at the endearing pout on my love's face and I lean in close to nuzzle the soft wild tresses of newly spun gold. "Oh my sweet, I understand your plight for you are incapable of exhibiting a dominate behavior."

Hmm…the honeysuckle…it's still here… Not much lavender though, unfortunately…

"Wait… What?"

Ayane unexpectedly leans back away from me and I frown at the absence of his silken hair against my cheek. However, I am met with a similar frown on his face.

"What do you mean by that?" He asks with a furrowed brow.

I blink in confusion at his displeasure, but answer his question regardless. "I did not mean to offend, Ayane. Although I am certain that you are aware of your own personality." I scrutinize the slow darkening of Ayane's face as it contorts into further displeasure and incredulousness, wondering why he's getting so ruffled. "I may even be so bold as to declare that it's against your very nature to enact aggression in a domineering fashion when braced with the topic of romance. Whether male or female, it is simply not in you."

I watch worriedly as his mouth opens and closes wordlessly, the display reminding me of a gasping fish on land. After a moment, he finally decides on a grimace and turns haughtily away from me, resulting in his hand slipping out from under mine.

I blink.

"I could be dominating if I wanted to be," he grumbles lowly. "I just… Well, ya'know—I just…"

"Can't?" I supply helpfully, but Ayane only stiffens and balls up his hands in his lap.

I blink again. There is really no reason for him to feel angry or ashamed of his inability to be dominating. As long as one is willing to submit, I cannot call it demeaning. Some are capable while others are not, just like some are born to lead while others are born to follow. We each have our own roles and should be proud of our own unique personalities.

I decide to tell him that. "Ayane—"

"Alphonse." I am taken aback by the hard and unyielding male voice, and eye his rugged profile carefully. "It was my father's name. And as long as I'm in this body, I would appreciate you calling me as such." His eyes are overshadowed by his strings of bangs, giving him a very forlorn appearance.

I feel a twinge of hurt rupture through my mainframe and I open my mouth to reassure him, but my voice is muted when he faces me. The strength and fierceness in his eyes is nearly binding and I feel myself unable to look away.

"And while you're in that body, your name will be "Zoe", alright?"

"Um…yes, a-alright." I make an attempt to clear my throat. Why did I just stutter? Perhaps I am simply in shock of this strange—though compelling—change of demeanor?

I am brought back into focus when I feel…Alphonse take my hand in his and languidly intertwine our fingers. My gaze never wavers from his as he wordlessly persuades me to lie on my back atop of my comforter. Rapid pulses of excitement converge within my coronary circuitry in the exact same way it always has when Ayane and I were about to engage in sensuous activities, only…I am not "Zane" and this is not "Ayane". This time the roles have been reversed and I am now "Zoe" and the one above me is…

"Alphonse…" His gaze is much too intense and I am spellbound, hopelessly trapped by the stare of a wild and noble wolf. Slowly, his face inches closer and my eyes hood with desire at the coming bliss I would surely soon be engulfed in. Tantalizingly warm breath teases my lips and I lift my head in an effort to meet him the rest of the way, when suddenly he stops just centimeters close from giving me—us nirvana and I can't stretch anymore to close the distance.

He pulls back, still entrapping me in his gaze and eyes me steadily. "When I was "Ayane", I willingly submitted to you because I felt so overwhelmed and didn't even want to try to match your level of passion, but…I'm starting to see now that maybe I should have. If I had, maybe you'd respect me more."

My eyes grow wide. "What? No! Ayane, I've always respected you! You are my sun! My warmth! My everything!" I cry out desperately, but the man's expression above me doesn't change.

"You respect me as a person, but do you respect me as a lover?"

"Yes!" I reply instantly and I'm finally graced with a small loving smile.

"Then please, allow me to find my own answer…" His head lowers again and again he stops short. "But…let me know if I go too far, okay?" The soft tenor in his voice is bewitching and a content smile curves on my lips.

"As you wish," I whisper and let my eyes drift close, relishing the coming heat. "For it is time I submit to you…whether male or female…"

0_0 *Chibijago!* 0_0

"Ebony. I'm gonna say this one last time." I narrow my eyes warningly at the eerie male version of my girlfriend. "Let. Me. Go."

Cool and hooded russet garnet irises look down at me in an almost bored apathetic way. He holds me captive with effortless strength against the wall, gripping my wrists with a single hand while the other simply rests on his hip.

I grit my teeth and emit a low growl of frustration, really considering delivering a swift kick where the sun don't shine, but decide against it. Ebony's reflexes are too damn sharp and he'd most likely do something to irritate me if I tried going on the offensive again.

"Are you going to throw another temper tantrum and behave like a petulant child? Or are you go to act your age and talk to me sensibly?" He counters back in a deep smooth cadence.

I huff and blow my now limp spikes out of my eyes. "Fine. Whatever. Just let go."

My wish is granted and Ebony lets go of my wrists and steps away. Still fuming, I put even more distance between us and stalk over to my bed, glaring red-hot daggers at him all the while. I flop down on the mattress with my back to him and pull my naked legs up to my chest, not wanting him to see any part of this "new" me even though he already has. I'm stubborn like that…

I glower at my state of dress. My shorts are too small and my shirt is too tight. Or…is this one of those sports bra thingys? Feeling another bout of rage coming on, I whip my head around and stare angrily at the man behind me.

"How long do you plan on playing this game?!" I shout furiously at him, but as I suspected, he just calmly regards me. My anger never really affected Ebony when I was a guy, so why the hell would he be affected now that I'm a girl? Especially with this light girly voice…

Ebony folds his arms across his tightly muscled chest, dressed in nothing but a simple silver tank top and black sweat pants. "As I told you before your period started—"

"Damn you!"

"-for the duration of this experiment I've chosen to go by "Edward" in commemoration to the character "Edward Elric" from the anime, FullMetal Alchemist," he shares idly. "And to answer your question: When I am satisfied."

"With what?!" I bellow and stand up, going to march back up to him. "This can't be just about dominance!" I peer at him closely and poke his chest. "Not with you, Ebony."

I put emphasis on his true name to let him know I don't give a frog's fat ass what he wanted to be called and stare defiantly into those rare dark gems. And after a spell, Ebony's passive expression slowly gives way to a faint smile, which I begrudgingly admit is still breathtaking to witness despite being on a more hard-edged face.

"Your obstinacy and fury seems to have doubled now that you're a female, Kai…must be the estrogen levels in your blood…" I open my mouth to protest vehemently, but stop short when he begins to laugh. My heartbeat quickens and fire scorches my cheeks. It lasted no more than a few seconds, but it had been just as captivating as Ebony's "feminine" laugh.

A profound yearning hits me like a ton of Coles as I look up at him, and a maddening urge to pull him down by the collar of his shirt and kiss him with everything I have surges powerfully through me. But thankfully, his hands on my shoulders stop me from following-through with the impulse.

"But I digress, I'm happy you know me so well," he says softly, his faint smile still in place. "I have no qualms about being submissive in a relationship, nor do I have any compunction towards your assertiveness. I am, however, curious about the world-wide conundrums caused by the "Male or Female" demographic."

"Huh? What do you mean? There are a ton of those. So in what context?" I ask, utterly bemused and Ebony's smile flees completely with the next shift of wind from beyond my opened window.

"Hn… I never wanted to turn you into a girl, Kai. That was done completely for Lord Diablos' enjoyment." My jaw drops and Ebony shakes her head in sympathy with me. "I'm sure his mirth has been satiated by now, so if you're ready I can ask him to turn you back."

My petite frame shakes with boiling rage as I ball my fists at my sides. Freakin' stupid goat-man! "I'm ready…" I say through gritted teeth and Ebony nods his consent.

I am immediately draped in darkness, Ebony's male face completely obstructed from view, and though I feel no pain I can feel the changes. My height increases, my frame broadens out, and my hair doesn't feel so limp anymore.

The darkness retreats in wisps and I'm greatly relieved to feel like myself again. I pat myself down just to be sure though as I make it a law to never trust a goat, especially a goat-man. No boobs…check… My hand travels down further and I'm happy to pat my good buddy. No flower-power…check… PHEW! I glance down, even happier to be in my p.j.'s again.

"Man that was creepy…" I breathe and glance back up to Ebony. My eyes widen. And it's about to get even creepier! "Ebony, what the hell!" I shout and gesture to my obviously still male girlfriend. "Why are you still a guy?!"

A pure white eyebrow rises. "I told you, I will stay this way until I'm satisfied."

I frown and cross my arms, standing toe-to-toe with the one before me. "And you still haven't explained what that meant," I argue pointedly and a flicker of…something briefly shadows his face before he gives a firm nod.

He gestures to my bed. "Please sit with me for a moment."

I sigh exasperatedly, but oblige. We face each other at an angle, keeping a respectable distance when Ebony decides to speak.

"As I said before, I had no desire to see you as a girl, but I had to go along with the others if I wanted to test a theory…a "true love" theory…"

Our eyes lock, but I'm still baffled to what her being a guy would prove. A mask of indifference covers his face, but that's all it is…a mask.

"Kai…I wanted to become a man because I needed to know if you truly loved me for who I am, regardless of what gender I took. I needed to know if…you and I felt the same way…"

I stare at him and gradually break our gaze so that I can let my eyes travel up and down his appearance. I scrutinize everything and log the details and subtle differences in my mind: The same exact lightly bronze skin, identical chocolate-dipped cherries, though this Ebony's are a bit sharper in shape, one in the same pure white hair. His is loose, I notice and neatly tucked behind his silver-looped pierced ears, and only a few long strands falls over his left eye. And let's not forget the unique birthmark of a crescent moon surrounded by flames emblazoned on his right shoulder.

Everything is more or less the same…but there's one big difference though…

I raise my gaze back to Ebony's and keep my face blank.

"I'm sorry Ebony, but if you were a guy…then I couldn't love you."

The mask doesn't falter, but the eyes are the windows to the soul and I see them widen an almost imperceptible fraction. I see the various emotions swarm through the stunning dark depths: disbelief, sorrow, and finally…acceptance.

He breaks his gaze from mine and licks his lips quickly, and then swallows. "I see… I understand. I guess I am most fortunate to have been born a female then," his voice is hollow and tight with repressed emotion. "Thank you for being honest with me, Kai."

It was fast, but I thought I saw the beginning of tears glisten in his eyes as he stands up. "Excuse me, but I need to be alone for a while."

He starts to move pass me, but I grab him around the waist with my arm and fling him back onto the bed, positioning myself over him.

"Kai! Wha—mmppfft!"

Without hesitation, I swoop down and claim those tempting lips with my own; finally fulfilling that maddening urge I had when I was a girl. And the taste is what I expected: divine and familiar, a strawberry oasis. I drink from him greedily.

The body is somewhat hard underneath mine, and although I miss the feel of Ebony's supple curves and soft breasts, I can hear our heartbeats synchronize with each other and beat as one. That's the most important thing.

I break the kiss unhurriedly, savoring the sweet taste and smirk wickedly down at the gasping man below me. With his mask completely shattered into tiny little pieces, Eb—Edward's cheeks are tinted scarlet as he stares up at me in awe and wonder.

"But-*gasp*-you said…"

I roll my eyes. "Ask a stupid question, you get a stupid answer," I rebuke plainly then throw him a wry smirk. "C'mon, you tryin' to say you didn't see through me?! I mustered up my blankest look for you, doctor!"

He makes a face and turns his head away. "I didn't think it was a stupid question," he admits quietly and I frown.

"Listen to me close. If Chrono suddenly decided to rewind time for whatever reason and we had to go through everything again except you'd be a guy instead of girl, we still would've ended up together. I mean sure, some circumstances would've changed and been different, and no doubt our progress would've gone much slower, especially on my end. Hell, I'd probably swim back and forth through denial countless times before I'd admit I was in love with you, but eventually…" I smile down at him, "…eventually, I know I wouldn't have been able to stay away." I reach down and smooth the silken white strands between my fingers. "Because it's you… It's all you…Edward."

He continues to stare at me and I watch with a rueful smile as tears leak out of the corners of his eyes.

"Hey, what's this now? You're a man, aintcha'? Men don't cry," I tease and his eyes narrow slightly.

"Shut up," he retorts though there's no real anger in his voice. "And I remember you telling me Zane cried once."

"Hey, that was one manly tear, so that's a different case."

"What about Jay?"

"Jay's a basket case."

I smirk and am rewarded with a deep breezy rumble of a chuckle. Edward attempts to sit up and I help him by sliding away and pulling on his arms. Those same strong arms come around my body and I return his hug, my hands smoothing up and down his back. I turn my face in his hair and breathe deeply, relishing in the familiar scent of delicious coconut.

"I'm sorry I doubted you," he whispers lowly in my ear. "It's just…when the opportunity presented itself I—"

"Shhh, I know so don't worry about it," I interrupt gently. "It's dangerous to assume everything. Hearing the words brings more peace of mind then supposition."

He loosens his hold and I do the same, pulling back. Up close, I can see just how long and full his eyelashes are. He's definitely more beautiful than handsome. At least I think so.

"Thank you," he says again, though this time it's with more happiness. "But if you don't mind, I'd like to lay here with you for awhile before changing back."

I shrug. "Sure." I push him back down and clamber on top of him, grinning. "Like this?"

His response is a growl and pushing me off of him with the same ease as if I was still a girl. "Hey!"

"No you jerk. You're heavy."

I huff, indignant. "With the way you just flung me off of ya, I'd say you're full of it."

"Like that was comfortable," he scoffs.

"Oh whatever, just c'mere!" I pull Edward to my side and kiss his lips quickly which leaves him stunned and blushing.

I chuckle and look at him, cradling his body in the crux of my arm. "What?"

"N-Nothing…just… I guess I'm surprised you can kiss me so easily," he mutters and I just continue to look at him.

"Do I really need to repeat myself?"

He hides his face in my chest. "No."

We fall into a contented silence and I begin to feel my eyes droop with incoming drowsiness.

"Oh… Now there's a question…" Edward suddenly mumbles and I blink sleepily.

"What?" I ask, half-asleep already.

He shifts in my arms and I feel his lips right next to my ear. "Who would be seme and would be uke in the relationship."

I moan and wound my arms more tightly around him. "That's easy, I would be seme of course."

He shifts again. "What do you mean you would be semeof course?"

I crack open an eye and blearily focus in on his now staid expression. "I know how to work the equipment…" I smirk casually. "…you don't."

He eyes me calmly before turning away on his other side, regardless of my hold on him. "Hmph…can't be too difficult…" I hear him utter and my eyes snap open, fully awake and alert.

"And what the hell is that supposed to mean?!" I yell, feeling offended, but he doesn't even flinch and keeps his back to me.

"I think you know exactly what it means."

"Alright, that's it!" I grab his shoulder and turn him around to face me, my gaze hard and penetrating. "Change back, right now!"

Confusion litters his face before the dawn of understanding lights it. "Oh… I meant no offense. After all it's perfectly normal—"

"CHANGE BACK!"

0_0 *Chibijago!* 0_0

I sniffle and wipe my face with a tissue as I sit at the foot of my bed. I look down at myself once more and the waterworks start all over again. I sob miserably.

The…man beside me is silent and simply gives me comfort and support by rubbing circles on my back. Another tissue is held out to me and I take it from the…man's hand quickly.

I dab at my eyes, keeping my gaze on the navy blue carpet of my bedroom. "How could you do this to me?" I ask pitifully. "What did I do to deserve…this…?" I gesture vaguely at myself with my tissue-covered hand, "The boobies, the long-flowing wavy hair, the—the flower-power!"

I hear the…man chuckle under his breath.

"Now thanks to you, all I want to do is curl-up in front of the television with a roll of raw cookie dough and watch a marathon of My Little Pony!" I turn to look at the…man sadly through blurry eyes. "I thought you loved me!"

The raven-haired…man puts his hand on my cheek and I feel much too dejected to flinch away. "Oh baby…" he wipes at my tears with his thumb, "of course I love you."

I can see him a bit better, soft chocolate eyes and vanilla skin. He smiles gently at me. "Then why?—And don't call me "baby"!" I snap with scorn. "It's too close to "crybaby"", I sniffle and wipe my eyes again. "And I'm not one."

"Okay," he complies with a nod. His voice is too deep to be Nya's and my eyes fill with water again when I realize that it's deeper than mine when I was a man. "How about I call you…"Joy", then?"

I look at him with wide eyes. "Joy?"

"Yes," he says with smooth certainty and takes another tissue, wiping my face free of tears. "Don't you think it's a perfect fit for you?"

I blink and sniff, thinking about how un-joyful I am right now. I stare at him. "Not at this particular moment!"

I feel heat rise to my cheeks at the sudden wind chime laughter. It's so reminiscent of my princess that I can't help but be beguiled by it. I fight down my blush though and wring the tissues together in my hands. I cast my gaze to my shape-shifting girlfriend.

"Nya… was I really so dominating of you?" I ask meekly with uncertainty, but the…man beside me shakes his head.

"No, not at all. You've always been attentive to my needs." He suddenly gets a Kai-like smirk on his lips. "I just wanted to see as a girl, and I must say…" His eyes scour over my body and I have an unexpected need to shy away and cover myself from such a predatory gaze. "You look amazing—very beautiful," he praises breathlessly and another blush finds its way to my cheeks.

I don't know if I should be offended or not…

I start to feel a little fearful as the bed dips a bit and he scoots closer. It must've shown on my face because Man-Nya smiles assuredly. "It's okay… You don't have to be afraid of me."

"I'm not afraid!" I refute automatically, though my heartbeat says otherwise.

"Good…" His eyes lower to my lips as he gets closer, leaning towards me. And I reflexively lean back then stand up altogether, whirling on him in an instant. My long hair whips about my face.

"So that's it!" I screech angrily. "You have this wild notion to change me into a girl and you just do it without my consent for your amusement!?"

He has the audacity to look sheepish. "You make it sound so bad…"

I gape at him incredulously. "That's because it is bad!"

He holds up his hands in mock-surrender as he gets to his feet. "Okay, listen, alright? It wasn't just for amusement. I really wanted to know what it would feel like to be a man, ya'know? If I would feel any different." He looks down at himself with a smile of approval and I look at him as well. Nice athletic build, glossy black hair cut fashionably short, and he's dressed casually for bed: matching violet p.j.'s.

"And I do, of course. But I feel more…justified in a way. Like I can assert my self-confidence without being labeled as a feminist if I was still a woman."

I still eye him warily but nod in understanding. "Okay, I guess that makes sense, but what about me? You could've gone "Man" for a moment and I wouldn't have cared. Why force a sex-change on me?"

He smirks in that Kai-like fashion again. "I thought you might appreciate being on the receiving end for a change," he explains and steps closer to me. We're actually the same height, which I guess isn't too baffling considering Nya isn't very tall to begin with and I definitely feel like I've shrunk. "And also…I think we both would've been more comfortable for when we did…this…"

I don't get a chance to say anything as he advances forward and molds his lips onto mine, his arms coming to encircle around my waist. Not knowing where to put my hands, they're squished between his chest and mine.

"Mmmmppffttt!"

I don't know what to make of Man-Nya's fervent kiss only that it feels oddly more wanton and desperate than any kiss we're shared as ourselves.

My eyes snap open. Nya's become more dominate with her transformation while I have become more passive and yielding…

An assertive tongue pries my lips open and delves confidently into my mouth. No…this isn't…

I breathe roughly through my nose and plant my hands firmly on his chest. I give one almighty push and it's just enough to forcibly put distance in between our bodies and our mouths.

Man-Nya's eyes are hazy with lust and I stare at him. "Huh? Wha?"

"This is what you really want!" I accuse with trembling disbelief and his eyes hurriedly come into focus.

"Huh? What what are talking about, Joy?"

"See!? That right there! You really want me to be a woman and you really want to be a man?!"

He gives me a look like I've grown a second head. "Where'd you get that craziness from?! I think you need to calm down some."

I bare my teeth at him. "No you calm down!" My nerves are shot to hell and my element's starting to react in tandem to my jumbling emotions. Man-Nya grabs my hands just as a few jolts of lightning flint and spark, and I look on worriedly as his hands emit a deep swirling violet.

My breath is shaky as our adjoined hands lift and I stare unblinkingly into eyes of smooth milk chocolate, his gaze caring and loving. "Calm down, Jay. Calm down."

My vision blurs for the hundredth time since I woke up, and not caring anymore how unmanly it is, I let the wretched tears roll down my cheeks. Man-Nya's arms hug me around the waist a second time as I sob hopelessly into his shoulder, our elements dissipating.

"Oh Jay… I'm so sorry," he whispers guiltily. "This is all my fault. I'd never thought you'd take it this badly… I thought we'd have a little fun, that's all."

"No, no… *sigh*…" I lift my head from his shoulder and shake it in an attempt the clear the stupidity and befuddlement. I look at him, it's plain to see his remorse and sadness and I smile despite myself at his genuine care. I wipe hurriedly at my eyes, knowing that I probably look dreadful, but push on and speak honestly. "It's just… I know I'm a bit more sensitive and high strung than the other guys and… I thought maybe that you didn't see me as all that…masculine."

I can't seem to meet his eyes by the time I finish and I hear him sigh exasperatedly.

I wince. Yeah…I do sound kinda whiny…

"Well you're wrong." My eyes widen and I whip my head around in surprise. He shakes his head. "You're looking at yourself all wrong, Jay. I find it great that you're sensitive and in tune with your emotions, it makes you so easy to talk to and share my inner most feelings with. And your high-energy is infectious, just watching you gets me pumped up and excited."

I'm shocked into speechlessness as he goes on and tells me more: That how he wished Kai and the others would relax a bit more and open up, how they could learn from me. How my spontaneity coupled with my creativity elates him and keeps him on his toes.

"I wouldn't change any of that," he states with shrewd finality. "You're you, Jay. And I love you as you are." A cunning smirk touches his lips. "Why fix what isn't broken, right?"

A swallow and blush readily at his words. "You—Y-You don't have to assure me, Nya. I love you for who you are too. I think I'm just a little frazzled from being in this body," I confess shakily and wrap my arms around myself. I glance down at my exposed legs and midriff. My blue-striped shorts feel more like panties and my baby blue top barely conceals anything.

"I'm sorry," Man-Nya apologizes again, reaching out to stroke my hair and tenderly moves my bangs to the side. I muster up the brightest smile I can as he tucks them behind my ear.

He stares at me for a second and I'm somewhat alarmed to see a deep flush enter his cheeks. He retreats his hand and turns his head to cough awkwardly into it. "Wow… Damn you're pretty. It's almost unfair…"

I guess we start playing the "Blushing Game" because blood once again returns to my cheeks. After a while though, I decide to cut loose and take it as a compliment.

"T-Thanks…" I mumble quietly and timidly meet his gaze when he turns back to face me. "Do I…really look that good as a girl?"

"What, are you kidding?" He gawks at me. "Why do you think I was kissing you so passionately? I wasn't thinking I wanted you stay this way I was thinking how great it was that my boyfriend is hot as both a guy and a girl! I was ecstatic!"

My heart thunders frantically in my chest and a swarm of butterflies flutter wonderfully in my stomach. "Well you look great too—um…" I stop and think for a second. "I'm "Joy", right? So what's your guy name for this RPG?"

Man-Nya smiles with both relief and cheerfulness. "Nobou," he says evenly and I cock an eyebrow.

"Really? I was thinking "Kiku" since you look almost identical to "Japan" from Hetalia."

I'm the one who takes the initiative this time and step closer to him as he laughs merrily. He looks at me, eyes shining. "Does this mean you're ready to have some fun?" He asks, smirk already in place.

I grin and wrap my arms loosely around his neck. "What does this tell you?"

I lean eagerly in for a kiss and marvel at the sheer equivalence his lips have to Nya's. Nobou's arms find their easy way around my waist and I finally relish in our moment of love and affection, knowing that this is my "Nya" and that I am her "Jay".
Chibijago! Another Freaky Friday?! Why???

Just posting what I should've posted at the beginning, the rules of my challenge so everyone knows what I can and cannot do.

1) Nothing over T-rated

2) I can't repeat themes (Ex: Cant' do multiple weddings or pregnancy reactions and such)

3) Can't use anyone outside the Ninjago Universe

Please keep these in mind when you make your requests!

This was startling birthday request by NinjaArmageddon2021: What about a remake of Freaky Friday? Except this time, have the Ninja turn into girls and the Kunoichi turn into guys! My B-day is this weekend and I would love to read this during that time. You're my inspiration VP! Keep up the fantastic work!

Happy Birthday, my friend! Hope you and everyone else enjoyed!

All Reviews/Requests are welcome!

P.S.

In case you guys were wondering about the pic? I just really like it. It portrays the close bond the Ninja have really well. Not to mention, I like Cole nuzzling his dad like that. :heart:

Loading...

Genesis Poll! Cast Your Vote Now At FFN Only!

Journal Entry: Fri Mar 27, 2015, 11:51 AM

Now, I'm going to make this as short as possible, but I feel I need to consult with you all about something. In the original rough draft of this series, there was a book entitled: "Genesis" which I had planned to come after the book entitled: "The Catalyst". The plot for "Genesis" was to be told entirely by the Serpentine generals, King Skales, and the female OCs that would join Genesis and become their mates. The reason why this book got scrapped was because I thought that no one would take interest in an entire book where the Ninja and Kunoichi make no appearances. But my two betas have brought it to my attention that the book could possibly bring in a wider range of readers who like the Serpentine and want to hear their side of the story. So, I've decided to leave it to votes. Please go to my profile on Fanfiction.net and cast your vote on whether or not you would like for me to reinstate the book entitled: "Genesis" or just omit it and have it be casted as one of those "behind the scenes" things and let the story unfold with just the Ninja and Kunoichi at the helm.

Now, if you DO want "Genesis" to be reinstated into Trials and Tribulations then I would like to ask for a little help. Please give me some female OCs! And these OCs have to have tragic and depressing backgrounds, enough so that they have a reason to join "Genesis" and want to start a new life. In these character sheets and bios, I ask that these young women be 17 years or older. And please, do not be shy of details and descriptions. These are YOUR OCs, and if I decide to use them then you will receive full credit for your character and best regards from me. And if you want, you can even include which Serpentine you wish for your OC to be paired with. I will list them now just in case anyone forgot their names: King Skales (Hypnobrai), General Acidicus (Venomari), General Fangtom (Fangpyre), and newly appointed general, after Skalidor's demise, General Bytor (Constrictai). Please feel free to share your ideas for "Genesis" too. If you have any special instructions for me on how you would like your OC and chosen Serpentine to get together, then please don't hesitate to include those prompts as well. Lookin' forward to hearing from you guys!

PLEASE SHOW YOUR SUPPORT FOR MY SERIES BY FAVING AND COMMENTING!

P.S. 

Those of you who are wondering how my pictures are coming along, I'm just waiting for Sasha's and Dominique's portraits now! I know they are taking some time, but I've been very particular about how I want my OC's depicted. But no worries, they will be uploaded here on DA soon enough!



  • Mood: Rage
  • Listening to: Disturbed....Can you blame me...
  • Reading: Seekers: The River of Lost Bears
  • Watching: Seinfeld
  • Playing: Devil May Cry....Again, can you blame me...
  • Eating: Chicken
  • Drinking: Mountain Dew

deviantID

VelvetPersona's Profile Picture
VelvetPersona
Sondreia
United States
Greetings and salutations everyone!!
I'm no artist when it comes to drawing, but I love art in general and all it entails. A friend of mine from fanfiction.net suggested I come here and post some of my stories about Ninjago, so that's what I'm going to do!!
I think I'll remain anonymous about the details of myself, but that may change in time.
Pleased to meet you everyone!! :D
Interests

Comments


Add a Comment:
 
:iconmayspring5:
Mayspring5 Featured By Owner Dec 30, 2014
I tagged you!!!!!!!
Reply
:iconredwallfvs:
redwallfvs Featured By Owner Dec 20, 2014  Student General Artist
Heeeeyyyy~!
Reply
:iconsnakesskin:
snakesskin Featured By Owner Nov 9, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Oi, sondreia dear, send me your email~
Reply
:iconvelvetpersona:
VelvetPersona Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2014
lol, here ya go! sondreiag@gmail.com
Reply
:iconsnakesskin:
snakesskin Featured By Owner Nov 12, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
t.co/GnHkRfHMC4. See if that works :3
Reply
:iconpokeninjagirl:
Pokeninjagirl Featured By Owner Jun 6, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Happy birthday!  :cake:
Reply
:iconvelvetpersona:
VelvetPersona Featured By Owner Jun 7, 2014
Thanks! :)
Reply
:iconpokeninjagirl:
Pokeninjagirl Featured By Owner Jun 8, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
NP!  ^^ How are you doing so far? 
Reply
:iconvelvetpersona:
VelvetPersona Featured By Owner Jun 8, 2014
I'm doing well. Had a great day with my bf and I'm fully recovered from my accident and surgery. Life is great! How are you?
Reply
(1 Reply)
:iconlidygarmadon:
LidyGarmadon Featured By Owner Jun 6, 2014  Student Writer
Happy birthday! :D
Reply
Add a Comment: