Mr. Ryuuzaki lifted his head from his drink. "Ahh... Mr.Cranston." He walked over to his soon to be partner and patted him on the shoulder. "Mr. Cranston." He shook his hand then bowed. "I was just being entertained by my daughter." He motioned towards the blue haird youth. "Umi! Come meet Cranston ,Lamont Jr."

Umi looked up from Hikaru and smiled. The smile quickly lost it's color as she spotted Emeruald. "Em.... Yes father." She walked over to the small gathering taking Hikaru with her. Her eyes sparkled with unshead tears.

"Good evening Mr. Cranston." She bowed. "It is a pleasure meeting you." She turned to face Emeruald. "And are you a guest of Mr. Cranston?" Umi looked into the other girl's eyes. Her heart was pounding in her ears. ''Magic Knights please save Cephiro...' The childlike voice rang in her ears.

"Umi dont be rude!" Mr.Ryuuzaki laughed and apologized for his daughter's abrupt question.


Lamont relaxed as he smiled back at the older man, which was a funny thing to think of him, for Lamont had been around for longer than he had. Gray was beginning to enter Mr. Ryuuzaki's hair, but that was the only difference from the last time Lamont had seen him a decade ago. "Excellent to see you again, Ryuuzaki-san! And it's great to be welcomed again so warmly into your beautiful country.", he said shaking his hand in a firm but hearty grip. Which was true. Next to America and China, Japan had a big place in his heart.

His eyes met those of his soon-to-be partner's beautiful daughter. She was slightly tall for her age, long sapphire hair a shade lighter than her father's fell to her back, and a pair of sea-blue eyes to complement it. Umi Ryuuzaki. Didn't that mean something like "Sea of the Dragon Blossom"? A blossom she was indeed. She had the looks of a model about her, Lamont could bet any she was very famous among her peers, not just because of her father and mother.

The Shadow smiled as she was introduced, then he bowed in true gentleman fashion. "A pleasure to meet you, Umi-dono." He flashed a smile at her father. "Your father didn't tell me he had such a beautiful daughter."

She suddenly asked him if the blond woman was his date, who he had been holding protectively the whole time. He chuckled at what her father had thought to be rudeness, held his other hand up in understanding at the girl's question. "No, it's all right, Umi-dono. She is" He felt Emeraude shift a little on his arm. Something was in the way Umi was staring at Emeraude bore...familiarity and astonishment. **

'Magic Knights please save Cephiro...'

Emeraude heart jumped at those words that had suddenly appeared on her mind. It was not her own thought, she knew. The thought came from that pretty blue haired girl that now stood before her. 'Knights...Cephiro...' she pondered silently, her face betraying her thoughts as she smiled at the people around her. 'Saving the land, is that what it was? What was the threat of pillar?'

Instead, the pretty maiden smiled at Mr. Ryuuzaki. "No," she smiled gently, "no need for an apology. I am a guest of Mr. Cranston Jr. and it is quite a pleasure." Emeraude looked at Umi, noticing the girl was trying to hide some sort of uneasiness. "I think your daughter is quite amazing. My, do you not agree that she is quite beautiful and elegant. Do you play a sport, Ms. Umi Ryuuzaki?" she said, trying to erase Mr. Ryuuzaki stern expression.


Hikaru looked at Umi's expression and noticed exactly what was troubling her friend. Forcing back a shroud of tears she stepped forward and smiled. 'Is it really you?' Hikaru thaught glancing at the girl before them. Everything that had happened flashed in the memory like it was yesterday...that sad battle, the tears full of regret, Cephiro crumbling, my wish when I had become the new pillar. Hikaru then noticed the man before them. 'Mr. Cranston Jr. they said his name was...' She thaught."Oh! I feel very rude. Mr. Cranston, my name is Hikaru Shidou!" She said cheerfully, extending her hand to shake his.

'That's it!' Emeraude said, taking in what she saw from Hikaru. In an instant, she once again relived the pain and horror that she once faced. 'I fell in love,' the sea-eyed girl thought slowly. 'the land crumbled and was put to pain all because of my foolishness...'

Then she froze. Seeing Hikaru's wish as the pillar after her, Emeraude frowned slightly. Sometimes she wondered why she did not do the same. The golden haired maiden always thought that it was because she did not wish to put that heavy weight on the shoulders of the people. But another reason came to her.

'Maybe i did not trust my people to lead themselves,' Emeraude wondered silently, realizing it. 'Could i have thought that?'

Umi gave a smile still uneasy. "I fence..." 'And save strange worlds...'She added mentally to herself. "I believe Hikaru is hungry plus we're planning on seeing Fuu before the night is over. We should be going father. It was nice to meet you Mr.Cranston." Umi bowed and then bowed to Emeruald. "And you too Miss."

Mr.Ryuuzaki shook his head watching Umi drag Hikaru off. "Always been a funny girl but she is turning out to be a very pretty young Lady. I wish her mother could see her." His features strained. "Mr. Cranston please enjoy yourself. We'll talk about buisness matters later."

Umi shivered. "Emeruald! I know it was. Somehow someone brought her back. First Nova and now... Hikaru do you think that was what Cephiro was trying to tell us?"

Arista lowered her serious expression a tad, petting Leala who was at her side. The guards stood quietly, uncertain expression on their faces.

"Do you not believe me?" she asked them, clutching her flute in her other hand.

"Do you have proof of this?" the left guard asked her.

Slowly, she unhooked one of her long beautiful earrings. Within a moment, a hologram of Eagle appeared. A picture. Arista winked at the guards. "Is this not Eagle Vision?"

The two observed the image. After what seemed like eternity, one guard said, "It is...indeed. I have seen him once wandering the palace with the fire knight..."

"Then let me through," the lavender-eyed maiden commanded. "I have business here."

"Yes, ma'am," they said, bowing to her, letting her through.

Once inside, she observed the palace. The walls were decorated with care and in them were engraved sceneries. "Even the inside is beautiful," Arista Celeste whispered softly. She came across one of a beautiful woman with sad eyes and long hair. And another of a young girl with her hair tied up in along braid, a happy smile on her face.

'Who can these be?' Arista wondered. STill looking at the engravings on the walls, she bumped into someone heading the opposite direction.

"Oh! I'm sorry about that, are you--" the girl stopped in mid-sentence, the smile on her face frozen. "It's you, Zazu, it's been a while, wouldn't you say?"

Lamont turned his attention to Umi Ryuuzaki's companion. A few inches shorter than her friend, she had a small delicate frame, long scarlet braided hair, and crimson ruby eyes to match. A brilliant smile was upon her lips, so warm and sincere it demanded an answering smile from him. Which he did. She extended her hand to him.

"A pleasure to meet you too, Hikaru." A powerful aura was peaking in his mind from her. From her and Umi. Lamont's mind was perplexed and a little confused...why was he running into such powerful presences lately? First Emeraude, then the evil presence he'd felt in his mind from the Sanctum...and now these two girls?

Umi and Hikaru were obviously of this world...yet something wasn't quite right about them. Hikaru especially. She had an aura almost as high as Emeraude's. He had to have some things cleared up.

He raised his hand and shook hers as he very gently touched her mind. Nothing deep. Just a surface brush.

And almost regretted it, for Hikaru had an open mind.


Everything slammed into his head with full force, almost like smashing into a brick wall. A field trip to the Tokyo Tower gone awry. A land where Will determined all, now under strife with the absence of its ruler. A legend.Three girls...what?! Umi, Hikaru, and a third who wasn't here?!!! A quest to save that world, with a sorowful end that none of them had expected, for they killed the Pillar. His grey eyes flicked to Emeraude. If she had been killed, why was she here now?

That was not all. Now he saw the same three girls return to a dark and desolate land. Three gigantic ships en route to conquer the weakened world. Battle after battle, fighting monsters, giant robot-like things. Blooming loves, a man in dark armor. An evil girl in black with hair a shade lighter than Hikaru's constantly tormenting her. And a hideous being borne of fear, whose only desire was to conquer the world. This creature was defeated, and light once more flooded the world. All was happy.

But not for long. A seriously burned woman, Hikaru's mother? Three young men who had barely survived a car accident, her brothers? A pale woman with blue hair, bedridden. Umi's mother? Was this why Mr. Ryuuzaki and Umi seemed so subdued this night?

And a dead teacher.

That was Kobayashi Ryo, his old friend! The third of these girls was actually connected to him?!

Abruptly, Umi pulled Hikaru away with her and Lamont's hand came down. Leaving him just standing there with his mouth half-open and cold sweat on his brow. Mr.Ryuuzaki appeared not to notice this as he told him they would discuss business later. His host walked off after wishing him a good time.

It seemed there was more to this than met the eye. So much more. And now the Shadow was just beginning to get into the thick of it. He turned to Emeraude, for once he was uncertain of what to say or do.

Hikaru stared at her friend still somewhat shaken that Emeraude was actually alive. " Perhaps, but there are also some other problems going on in Cephiro." She remembered words once said, ' The Pillar is like the land itself' "Umi, do you think it is possible for me to sense what is happening in Cephiro? I am the acting pillar and I have been feeling disturbrances in my dreams and other times when I am's like the people want a leader or something...I just can't put my finger on it..."

Emeraude watched as the two young girls left. She felt Lamont's eyes on her, but she pretended not. Like her, he knew everything. "Will you excuse us, Mr. Ryuuzaki?" she bowed slightly, showing her respect. She quickly grabbed the shadow's arm and pulled him out of the room.

"I know you're wondering why I'm still alive," the attractive young maiden spoke softly. "I, too, wonder it. I saw what both those two girls saw in their minds."

A certain sadness crept into her eyes, yet her lips smiled. "They're the one who had killed me. And Hikaru, the crimson-haired girl with fiery eyes, took my place. However, now Cephiro has no pillar..."

She closed her eyes. "I dont know why I am telling you this..." Emeraude paused, slightly grimacing. "other than the reason that I did not want to put the weight of Cephiro's well-being to the people, I also had doubt that they would be able to manage peacefully..."

Zazu's dark brows pulled together as he stepped back from the door he'd just knocked upon, hearing the smooth, creamy voice of she who had seemingly bumped into him... not watching where she was going... Drawing an austere look about him, the adolescent turned to face his assailant, just as he heard her speak...

His bright, tired, mahogany brown eyes settled upon the sight of she... reflective, violet pools glinted back at him... a knowing and calm air about her... Who... was she.. And then it hit him. But how he had ever forgotten her... eluded him.. Zazu's face paled and he caught up his mouth, closing it respectively,

".. Arista..? what... I thought that... I mean.." Zazu trailed off, allowing his voice to quiet as he gathered his wits about him. A blush crept to his cheeks in embarrassment, and he looked back up her, an apologetic air about the boy... "I never expected you to... what, with Eagle and all.. these are hectic times.. though..."

The boy smiled right then, and sighed. After all this time, after all he'd been through and all the time he and the aforementioned young lady had spent apart, all he had to show was lack of manners and respect..? He knew where he wronged... "It's good to see you again. I've missed you." Zazu straightened his hat, again, for the umpteenth time, suddenly overcome with a subconscious onslaught..

Arista's sweet laughter rang. "Why, I missed ya too!" She grinned. " got a bit taller, keep it up and you'll be taller than me!" The pretty girl winked. "And who did you think it was? Of course it's me, Arista!"

For a moment, her eyes reflected a certain sadness. "Yes, I have been gone.After Eagle passed, Dad and I couldn't really get along. He was all on modern technology. But now I'm back!"

A grin broke from her perfect red lips. "Besides...I wanted to know what Cephiro was like," she winked, showing her flute to Zazu. She brought those red lips of her to her flute and played for him.

Nova suddenly opened her eyes as she felt what seemed to be someone seeing inside Hikaru's mind. She looked up and said, "Who is that...and what will he do to Hikaru now that he's seen all that? Furthermore, he now knows about me, as well. But is he an enemy...or a friend?"

A storm was brewing outside the window of a young man known to few as Chad Geric. The rain was pouring like mad that night as the youth tossed and turned in his bed. The dreams were taking place once more. The visions of a land of prosperity and beauty being torn apart by two lovers that seemed so very familiar. The couple looked at each other with great sadness as they placed two babies in a capsule and sent them through the dimensional rip directly to Earth. The two capsules split courses and thus,the two infants took two separate ways. One landed in a park and was found by Chad's parents,Esther Geric and Dr.Thomas W. Geric! And the other..Was seen on a ship filled with secret agents of some sort. The ship had the strangest symbol on it's wing. The symbol was of a black lotus flower. The next part of the dream was even worse. Three girls from Earth were summoned to fight this sad couple. The battle was horrible and turned out for the worse! The woman begged the girls to kill her,and through much regret,the three young women did just that! Now the vision switched yet again. It showed the baby that was found by the "Black Lotus" people growing up and turning out to be a white haired young man wearing shades and a uniform. The other baby...Was the most confusing. The baby was seen growing up into Chad himself!! The thunder crashed once more louder than ever and Chad sat up covered in sweat!! The young man was breathing heavily and wiped the sweat from his forehead. "The same dream..............Again." He said to himself looking at his hands. "What does this mean? Why do I keep having the same dream? Am I really.......That child?" Chad said laying back down staring at the ceiling.

Elsewhere,metal doors opened to reveal a young man with long,white hair. He was walking next to a taller,and older man with a beard and a sophisticated look about him. "I believe we've located him. The man known as the Shadow,Kyle. Are you willing to track him down?" The man asked the white haired youth. "If necessary, yes,I'll take the mission." The youth responded. "Do you want me to eliminate him,General?" Kyle asked. "Negative. No such actions will be necessary. If he's who we think he is,all we need you to do is apprehend him and bring him here. We need to ask him some questions. Then we'll talk about the elimination procedure ifthat's what has to be done. Until then,he'll more than likely investigate recent happenings at this school." The General said pointing to a map. The map on the computer zoomed in on the whereabouts and gave a pictorial description about the school. "There,we need you to gather information on the students. "In any of them have seen the culprit behind this bombing then perhaps we could question this person and even get them on our side! Besides,maybe you could find that brother of yours down there and get him to join us as well!!" The General said chuckling a little. "I would much rather him not join the ranks of Black Lotus,but if this is truly necessary,then I do want to meet him at last. I want to see what kind of a brother he'll turn out to be. And....I'll makesure that this culprit is located...I'm pretty sure it would have to have been the Shadow. He is the only one that has such elusive abilities. I highly doubt that anyone else in Japan has this capability." The General's face showed a bit of concern as helooked down at the youth he had raised to be a spy and a soldier for the elusive Black Lotus organizations. If anyone would have a chance finding The Shadow,it could be Kyle!

Clef sighed and looked sadly up to Ascot sorry to hear about his seijyuus and the rest of the planets suffering. "Some people think that deep down inside, others are truly evil and need others to rule over them. Others think that inside, others are truly good and can govern themselves. This must have been what Hikaru thought the way she had left Cephiro."

"But what do the people of Cephiro have inside of their hearts if this is happening? I do not think that anyone is evil, but then why do they doubt and cause chaos to break loose when the good in their hearts is able to stop all this from happening?"

"Maybe everyone has a bit of both inside of them but are unable to stay living free of worries without a strong heart and someone to guide them and watch out for them. Perhaps this is why they want a leader again and possibly a pillar while we disagree?"

"There is more then one answer and one reasoning to why Cephiro is struggling again but even though I do know many things, I don't know everything. Maybe you'll even find the answer yourself Ascot." In Clef'stalking he was too preoccupied to hear the knock on the door, but now instead he heard music very closeby. With another nod of his staff thedoors slowly crept open for them to see Zazu and Artista.

"Representatives from Autozam," Clef greeted bringing up two more chairs. "I'm sorry if you encountered any trouble on your way here and apologize for not sending anyone out to meet you. Please come in and sit down."

Arista quickly stopped playing her flute, slighty tilting her head at the slight of the mage and the bal. She grabbed Zazu's arm and came closer to the two. They had quite serious expressions on their faces, Arista observed. So she smiled brightly. The girl truly had a bright smile that even the darkest thoughts can be put aside for a moment for a smile to be returned. "Please put those serious expressions aside for a moment and smile. You never know whose day you can fill with sunshine..." Arista turned to her companion. "Zazu, won't you introduce me to these two charming gentlemen?" Noticing a chair behind the two men, she noticed there was someone sitting in there. "Or should I say three?"

Then she laughed at her sillyness. "Why dont i just introduce myself by myself?" Arista noticed that Yil and the brown-haired youth taken aback byher personality. True, it was too cheery. She had always been accused ofbeing care-free, too care-free. It was quite a shock to all of Autozam when she grieved for her brother.

Still holding that bright, radient smile of hers, she stepped forward for a proper introduction. HOwever, her cute pet snuggled at her side. Aristagrinned. "How rude of me! This is Leala," she gestured to her adorable pet,her gray-violet eyes laughing. "And I am Arista Celeste Vision, sister of Autozam's former commander, Eagle Vision..."

* It was all so vivid yet unreal. But Lamont Cranston just knew it had all really happened to Hikaru Shidou.

His brow was still in a cold sweat from what he had learned from the MagicKnight's mind, and all that in a second. Emeraude was staring into his eyes questioningly. Magic Knights. Cephiro. Two great battles of trials andtribulations. The first had ended in sorrow for they had slain the Princess, the very woman next to him, with their own hands. The true and tragic legend behind the Magic Knights of Cephiro. No wonder Magic Knights had to come from another world. No one of Cephiro could lay a hand on the Pillar.

Their return had ended in pure joy. The entity named Debonair had been destroyed and Hikaru had at last come to terms with her own black shadow,given life by her own guilty conscience at slaying the Princess. Lamont could sympathize with Hikaru. Even until now, he himself battled the darkness within, using it to fight shadow with shadow.

He felt that somehwere inside Hikaru Shidou's heart, this dark side of hers still lived. For he had felt something looking back at him with fear and apprehension when he was probing the Fire Knight's mind.

He reached out with his sixth sense, tried to touch the being within Hikaru's heart. "Don't be afraid, I won't hurt you or her..."

No answer from the being, or maybe not yet.

It seeemed to Lamont people close to the Magic Knights were getting hurt,and quite recently at that. Her brothers had narrowly survived a hit-and-run, her mother had been burned. Umi's mother had contracted a strange disease and was bedridden. Lamont felt he would have to play ignorant at this fact, pretend he didn't know this in front of Mr. Ryuuzaki and his daughter, the Water Knight.

And then there was the death of Kobayashi Ryo, the math teacher of Fuu Hououji, who he hadn't met yet. From what he understood, Fuu was Ryo's star pupil in class.

Someone out there, not of this world, most likely from Cephiro had a vendetta against these Magic Knights. That vendetta had gotten an old friend and trusted agent of his killed. Now he was angry.

And the Shadow wasn't at all a good person to be made angry, even by an offworlder.

Lamont turned to Emeraude, hung his head a second at her words, then reassuringly patted her shoulder. Her skin was smooth and deep and golden,as was the dress she wore. "It's all right that you're telling me all this.I will be able to help you." A pause as he thought of her next words."No...don't think like that. I am sure you were acting for the good of yourown people. There are times that if power is entrusted to a collective body, it could erupt into chaos. I'd say you were doing the right thing."

He thought a moment. "Hikaru Shidou's idea of a democratic pillar was certainly a noble idea. That way, the planet's state would not be determined by one person alone. But I felt from her mind that trouble is brewing in this land you call Cephiro."

Lamont gestured back to the doors and the party behind them. "We will talk more later, though I've already learned much. Come, the party has barely begun. There are a lot wishing to welcome me, so it's best I won't keepthem waiting. Like I said before I will be near if you need anything." He smiled reassuringly, gently took her arm and led her back inside. "And one last thing: have you any lodgings? You are welcome to stay in my house here if you don't."

Emeraude shook her head slowly. "You mean...a place to stay for the night?No...I do not." The princess remained silent. "I am...grateful for your offerbut I do not have anything to pay you with..."

The kind words that Lamont spoke still echoed in her mind. Still, it did not make up for how she felt inside. Everytime she thought of Cephiro, her heartturned cold as her stomach felt unbearable but she refused to show any emotion.Now was not the time. Remembering Hikaru's wish for the people to govern themselves, the sea-eyed maiden grimaced slightly. Emeraude always thought thepeople had no practice ruling themselves, she was just afraid to admit it andnow she has.

'So Lantis is also back...' the pretty woman thought silently. 'How can I face everyone after all that I've done?'

Emeraude shivered a bit as a chill ran down her spine. 'I shall have to talk tothose two knights...and the third also...apologize for everything i've put themthrough, although, that would not make up for it...'

A certain apprehension seeped through and into the young mechanic's eyes as Arista took him into the room, spoiling any sort of grandeur he had about his being. Though... it really was an absurd notion... these were his friends. What should he feel threatened by..? He sighed, inwardly, and observed the characteristic and cheery demeanor about his old friend's sister... he might learn a thing or two about her... Zazu sweatdropped at the large and furred animal that pushed passed the two. Arista did have the look of her brother, and aspects of his kind nature, but boy, Zazu laughed to himself, he could almost swear that she was not of Autozam origin.

She seemed almost... Cephiran... in a way.

The youth waited not for reaction, and instead drew his designated and formal self about him, and motioned towards the tall, dark green-eyed young man. The boy in turn grew his expression formal also, but regarded Arista silently.

"This is Bal Ascot, chief spirit summoner in all of Cephiro.. " Zazu murmured to his friend, from whence he looked to the regal being of the boy with his hair tied back, "That is Prince Ferio, younger brother to the late Emeruade-hime... I'm sure you remember her, ne..?" Zazu's features grew soft a moment, remembering how much the former Pillar's death had affected all of Cephiro's inhabitants. Indeed, Emeruade-hime was a hesitant subject. He didn't much care for dampening the spirits of any reminiscent Cephirans.

Sighing nonetheless, he motioned towards the slightly-built boy who bore the ominous and significant attire that hung about him; his blue eyes glinted and spoke of a time, of many times; they spoke against his young appearance and commanded a neccessary respect... Zazu never could understand the age factor in Cephiro..

"That is Guru Clef. Master Mage... all members of the High Council here in Cephiro, Arista. I've come on a business call to discuss these recent happenings in this province, for they seem to be connected to happenings in Autozam... I'm sure you understand what I mean.." Zazu trailed off, and he bit his lip.

They would no doubt be interested in learning of Arista's purpose here in their land... why, they would most likely be interested in learning of Arista's presence entirely! Eagle Vision had played a large part in their lives, as all of a figure head, an enemy, and as a friend. To be just learning of his supposed sister..? Zazu nearly groaned right where he was.

Ascot regarded Clef's words silently, though feeling words were not necessary, also at the same time, feeling no words for him to say. He sighed, and his expression darkened. The arrival of... Zazu.. and a young woman of slight build, and sparkling violet eyes brought him to, and he payed full attention, rightly feeling an intrigue creep through and into his outlook.

The introduction of she was made clear... though.. Ascot frowned. Sister to Eagle Vision..? How could that be? Wouldn't they have.. heard of it..? This was just as bad as the situation with Lantis, upon the arrival of the Magic Knights. The virecent eyed youth barely nodded, albeit curtly, as Zazu introduced him. Eagle's sister... this would complicate things... wouldn't it..? The boy cleared his throat, and fisted his hands once.

"Go... gomen nasai, Zazu-san... Celeste-san.. I was not learned of Eagle-sempai's family, save his father..." Ascot paused, cursing himself for sounding the hesitant idiot... the boy he was *before*.... He shot a sidelong glance at first at Ferio, and then at Clef, reflecting the 'agony' that was apparent within him through his fair visage. "How and why are you come, Celeste-san..? Surely you know of... our dilemma.."

Umi stopped running about the refreshment table and took in a deep breath. She put a trembling hand to her chest. "Emeruald. I dont think she means any trouble but that is definately Emeruald. I dont know why... Hikaru.." She watched her friend. "I think that Cephiro would call out to us. We all know that something strange is going on... but didn't you turn the pillar ship over to the people of Cephiro?"

Umi bowed her head in thought. "Do you think Fuu would know anything?" It was just a question. She doubted that anyone of them knew more than the other. "Could you take us to Cephiro somehow? Would there need to be all three of us at Tokyo Tower or could we leave from any where?" She shivered looking around the room. Ebony shadows clung to the walls of which the light seemed not to throw away. The shadows hung heavely in the area and as she raked her brain they had not been there before. Only minutes ago.

"Hikaru..." Her eyes shifted to each shadow, a possible danger. "I dont even feel safe here surrounded by people anymore. "Umi shide away from the darker shadows and took Hikaru's hand.

Emeraude noticed Umi and Hikaru leaving to go elsewhere. "Excuse me, my good sir," she bowed slightly to Lamont. "I have ...other matters to attend to..."

She left the man staring at her as she went. "Miss Umi, Miss Hikaru!" she called to them, not too loud for Lamont to hear but loud enough for the two. "Please...Do not go."

The princess of Cephiro saw the young girls' heads turn. They looked at her in surprise. As she caught up with them, she whispered. "Please, Magic Knights...I need to speak to you..."


The girl who rivaled even Emeraude's beauty felt her smile falter. "They call me Arista but Celeste is fine, too," she told the young man. Ascot, his name was. "I doubt you have heard of me before. Not a surprise since I do not like to take part in Autozam's biggest achievement, the technology that creates the lack of nature in our world. But I do use some..." Again, she pulled on one of her long beautiful earrings and revealed the hologram of Eagle. With another touch, the image was gone.

"I haven't been in Autozam for the last two years since my brother had passed but i heard of the sudden illness there but," she petted Leala gently, ignoring her questions about Cephiro she had in mind, "instead, I came here to see for myself. I had heard that Zazu was dealing with matters and that Geo was sick himself," Arista explained, no longer smiling.

"My business unknown even to me, but I'll do what i can to help..." Arista paused, smiling, but even her lips were not enough to hide the expression in her eyes. "My brother died for this land and I wanted to come see it." Her voice remained calm and smooth, a bit more serious than it had been, though not too serious. "I only felt like there was something here that i needed to see...or someONE rather. Those two ladies engraved in your walls...might I ask who they are?"

Hikaru looked at Emeraude. Shivering she felt why Umi felt somewhat awkward about being around all these people. It was like someone or something was watching them or something. Hikaru felt uneasy about talking to the girl that they had once killed with their own hands. Balling her hands into fists, Hikaru felt warm liquid run between her fingers...'her blood was spilt by our hands.' Hikaru spoke, "P...Princess Emeraude, what is the matter..."

Nova heard Lamont's words. She responded to him by saying, "You know what I was thinking? But how? Who are you? If you're not our enemy, then at least tell me that."


Lamont Cranston smiled, gray eyes shining humor. "No no, you don't need to pay me. I don't ask for it. Your safety is all that counts." He watched as the Princess from another world bowed at him and moved after Hikaru and Umi. He inclined his head as well in a nod. Whatever she had to talk about with the two Magic Knights, he hoped it would solve things between them a little. He understood much already about this whole Cephiro factor. Almost as if he had been there. He nodded as she moved off. "Well, I'll see you later then."

Lamont sat at one of the main tables, and smiles, bows and handshakes were exchanged everywhere. People of Mr. Ryuuzaki's company or just minor businessman were seated around him, wishing him a warm welcome as well as clamoring for his attention. On the outside, he nodded politely showing interest, asking some half-hearted questions of his own. But his mind wasn't quite with him.

The dark entity named Nova responded to him, asking him who he was and how he could see into Hikaru's mind. In his mind's eye, he saw her. The resemblance to Hikaru Shidou was unmistakable. Her hair was pink where Hikaru's was red, she wore a black skintight suit with an alien white armor over it, and her ears were pointed like an elf's.

Her aura was dark, yet he felt no malice from her. "I can see into people's minds and hearts. Your friend Hikaru has quite an open mind, a contrast to her powerful will. Nova...I understand you. You are all of Hikaru's darkest thoughts and desires. Yet you loved her and wanted the best for her, which was why you believed Debonair at first when she said Hikaru hates all those she really loves.

"You and Hikaru became one, but now you are seperating once more, a result of the pain she feels at what has been happening to those dear to her heart." He explained the recent occurences to Nova.

"My name is Lamont,", he finished. "And I'm not an enemy. I will help you all, for I have a personal stake in this matter."


"Let us go to a more private place to talk," Emeraude said, a grim expression on her lovely face. She lead them to a corner. "Listen, Magic Knights, I must say that I am extremely sorry to the very core of my heart for everything that has happened..."

"I know you feel uneasy around the topic," she said to the two. "And you have grieved. I am sorry to the deepest part of my being, although that would never make up for it..."

Princess Emeraude looked Hikaru in the eye. "I also know of such a horrible feeling you felt that created a shadow to seperate from the rest of your heart...Nova. I did not mean for it to be like this..."

"Maybe if I hadn't been foolish, none of this would have happened. Not even the happenings of the present..." Emeraude gently said, a bitter tone in her sweet voice as she took the blame for all. "Magic Knights...May I call you Umi and Hikaru?" A small smile formed on her red lips.

Hikaru's expression brightened up a bit. Happily she respnded, "Of cource you can call me Hikaru! Please come along with us, I am sure that Fuu would be interested in seeing you again, plus we have a few matters to discuss about getting to Cephiro again...perhaps you might know, is the top of Tokyo Tower the only place we can get back or can we go there from anywhere?"

Emeraude thought silently for a moment. She thought back to when she first summoned the knights, it seemed that they had been in that same tower that day. And the other time, it was the same place. "There is a strong powerful bond between Cephiro and that tower...possibly be the link the our world," she responded, playing with the golden bracelet she had on her left wrist. "However, I had heard that tower had been demolished and needs repair, isn't that right? Obviously the person who did the damage knew of the bond created by your travels..."

Emeraude sighed softly, her crystal blue-green eyes looking at them. "I believe there is another way to senses still work in this world," she paused. "the ones I had mastered as a pillar."

"To you, Hikaru, I think your shadow in Cephiro is your link," she referred to Nova. "And maybe that shadow in your heart could be the link for all three of you...and yes, I would like to meet the wind knight guardian, the one that captured my brother's heart..." Emeraude grinned.


"Debonair...she used me to try to destroy Cephiro!" Then Nova's mind drifted to what Lamont had said about her and Hikaru being separated once more. "It's true we have begun to separate, but since we are not in Cephiro, I still only exist in Hikaru's heart. But I could tell she was very sad about something. Now I understand. But...we cannot speak to each other. All I can do now is feel all the pain Hikaru feels in her heart."

* The Shadow nodded at that, mouth set in a grim line. "And if this keeps up some more, you will be reborn." Lamont let his words hang, absent-mindedly nodding at some businessman's question if he had plans to construct a new school for the blind with Mr. Ryuuzaki's company. "And Nova...should the sheer pain in Hikaru's heart release you again...give me your promise you will no longer torment her as you did in the past. THAT, I feel is the last thing she needs."

Nova nodded. "I promise I will not. I shouldn't have before and I do regret it." Then she thought about what Lamont said about being born again because of Hikaru's sadness and said, "I don't think I could be reborn now. I was born in Cephiro, so I don't think I could come back to life in Hikaru's world."

Hands tensed up on Sandrock's controls, Quatre Raberba Winner knew that it was now or never... A determined look in his eyes, the boy announced quietly, "I'm heading inside. I'll locate the self-destruct mechanism in order to destroy the new weapons system...Be careful!" With that, the gundam began moving through a horde of mobile dolls, slicing a path leading up toward the base.

Upon reaching the outermost wall, Sandrock stopped, allowing its pilot to drop through a grate on the roof. From then on, Quatre knew that he would have to work very cautiously. Inching his way through a narrow ventilation shaft, the blonde finally made it deep into the dark OZ base. Dropping through the ceiling, he landed softly, a dull thud resounding on the polished floors. As silently as was possible, Quatre tip-toed through the dimly lit corridor, pressed close to one of the cold metal walls. He held his gun ready, knowing that at any moment, an OZ soldier could intercept him...He had to be very, very quiet...

Finally, the boy reached the main control room. Stopping in his tracks for a second, Quatre looked around, peering into the dark corners of the hallway. It was hard to distinguish anything in the poor light that was provided by the sickly, aging neon lamps hanging suspended from the ceiling. Fortunately, nobody was there...Good. Without further ado, the blonde pilot entered the room and moved towards the large control panel. Hurriedly, painfully aware that there was no time to waste, Quatre began pushing various buttons and typing away at the keys. Occasionally, he glanced at the faintly luminescent screen looming up in front of him.


Quatre bit his lip, growing more and more frustrated with each time that the same annoying phrase flashed across the monitor in those disturbingly triumphant scarlet letters. "There has to be some way to access the files! Come on...!" he muttered to himself, on the verge of despair.


Quatre struggled not to curse loudly. At least, not in English. He allowed himself to utter a sentence of exasperated dismay in Arabic instead. Immediately he felt guilt at doing so gnawing at him, but dismissed it. He really had to concentrate! As he was about to give up, the pilot of Gundam Sandrock tried the last thing that popped into his mind. And finally,


The green script popping up, accompanied by a female computer voice announcing the same thing, seemed to be the single most wonderful phenomenon in the world right now. "Oh Allah, thank you..." the boy murmured in relief, smiling with elation. Now, just a few more codes to enter.

At last, Quatre had managed to initiate the self-destruct for the OZ base. It would be blown into nothing but a pile of smoking rubble in a matter of seconds. Well, actually, ten minutes to be precise. That should give him and the others enough time to make it off the premises. As the young pilot turned to go, he felt something cold and hard being shoved into the small of his back. He froze.

"Stay right where you are, terrorist...You don't think you can destroy a base belonging to OZ so easily, do you?" a voice sneered mockingly. "Turn around slowly, and we might go easy on you..."

Quatre did as he was told, and was greeted with the sight of several soldiers surrounding him. There were collective looks of astonishment at glimpsing the boy face-on. "Just a kid...A kid's fighting in this war?" the soldier aiming his gun at Quatre mumbled incredulously.

The blonde pilot frowned. 'Just a kid...' he thought bitterly. He hated being brushed off like that. He truly resented being treated like some inferior, insignificant creature whose actions would never mean anything, no matter what he did. His father used to look upon him that way...

"I suggest that you don't waste time with idle chatter like this...Please surrender, and we'll all spare your lives," he told the soldiers calmly, ignoring their expressions of disdain and scorn.

"Spare our lives?! Who do you think you are? Huh?!" the first soldier asked, face twisted into a malignant smirk. He jabbed the end of his gun into Quatre's ribs, kicking the boy in the stomach. "We're going to have some fun ending your pathetic life, you spoilt little brat!"

Quatre grimaced, smiling darkly. He reached up to wipe blood from his mouth and rasped, "This going to blow up, and we'll all...go straight down to Hell...You have...five minutes left..."

Inwardly, he shook his head at his morbid, destruction-tinged words. The son of a pacifist shouldn't say things like that. Then again, the son of a pacifist /shouldn't/ be fighting and killing people either. And that was exactly what he did quite frequently these days. 'There is no other way. The only way to end it all if to fight...There's nothing else we can do,' Quatre argued with himself.

"The kid's right!" another soldier piped up, slamming his hand down on the control panel and looking panic-stricken. "Damnit! Only three minutes left!"

The first soldier's eyes went wide, and his face contorted into a mask of pure, almost bestial hatred mixed with fear. "You stupid fool!" he exclaimed, viciously backhanding Quatre. The boy's head hit the control panel with a loud crack. "We're all going to die, idiot! Even your little terrorist friends out there!"

"No...they'll...get...away..." Quatre whispered hoarsely. He closed his eyes in an attempt to alleviate some of the throbbing pain erupting in his head.

"Well, you'll be the only that will die in this place," the soldier shouted, grabbing the pilot by his collar and yelling the words into his face. "And we're so generous, we'll let you experience the pretty fireworks from the bests seats in the house. Right in the middle of it all!" He laughed, obviously pleased with his little joke. Not hesitating or giving Quatre time to react, the man dropped the boy and aimed his gun at his chest. A smirk flitted across the soldier's features as he squeezed the trigger. The shot rang out, echoing in the big room, then faded. Eyes fluttering shut, Quatre slumped to the floor in a small heap. The soldiers' footsteps soon subsided as they hastily made themselves scarce.

Struggling to stay conscious, Quatre tried to sit up, pressing a hand to the wet, sticky wound in his chest. He coughed, crumpling back onto the floor again. Blood oozed out from the gaping bullethole, beginning to pool underneath him, staining his light-coloured shirt a crimson shade.

'I'm going to die,' he realized. Oddly, he felt no regret, only a funny, light feeling. He wanted to laugh for the strangest reason, yet cry at the same time. Laugh because it was all his own fault, and cry because he had killed so many people and now knew what it was like. Cry because he had been a disobedient son all his life...

Quatre began to do both at the same time, shaking on the floor with laughter and sobs, tears streaming down his face and mingling with his still disgustingly warm blood. Eventually he stopped, a coughing fit wracking his body. The hand he had covered his mouth with was covered in blood. "I'm really going to die," the boy whispered weakly. "I...I hope the others get away safely..." At that very instant, an enormous explosion rocked the place. Before losing consciousness, Quatre thought he saw an unexpectedly bright, white light filling his vision...

Ferio smiled, bowing politely as first the Bal arrived, then shortly after, Zazu the representative from Autozam, accompanied by a pretty, spirited looking young woman. The said girl bore a striking resemblance to Eagle Vision... As it turned out, this resemblance should not have been surprising at all, the girl introducing herself as the sister of the late Eagle. Nonetheless, the green-haired prince couldn't help being mildly astonished at Arista's unexpected appearance. He shrugged it off however. The more the merrier. It would be good to discuss everything with a larger number of people that knew what was going on.