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(Guys, don't begin until we're finished with Search For Ryuka: The Hunt Begins)

Opening

"Echo, you must obtain The Crest of Twilight, just as I did. This is the only way you will be able to fullfill your destiny...Our destiny, as the Twilight King".

Dawn

Gulp! A drunkened man continued to endulge himself with hard alcohol at a new establishment owned by the Musei Sonkei. "T-That...Th-That's gooo-ddd stuff." Said the oblivious man as he belched loudly. He paid no attention as the guards in the area small outposts all whispered between eachother. If he wasn't hearing things out of his head he could swear that one of them said that dangerous Rogue Ninja was heading their way.

"Sir, you need to evacuate the premisis!" Said one of the guards as he shook the man.

The drunkard stumbled out into the streets and squinted his dirt covered eyes to see a figure approaching in the distance. The mysterious ninja entered the town as the guards all awaited him in preperation to ambush. He stopped in the center of the small town and folded his arms carelessly. The guards all nodded between each other as they walked towards him, kunai in hand. "Attack!" yelled one of them as they all charged for battle.

The ninja, who looked as if he wasn't even fully grown yet, awaited the perfect moment before taking his time in grabbing the arm of one of the men. He whirled the guard's arm around into the neck of another ninja before gutting the first ninja with his own powerful katana. Three more approached within striking distance as he took his time in an extremely quick attack, slow for his calibur actually. Yet a seecond later all three of the soldiers fell with nothing but mutilated flesh remaining.

He glanced at five of the startled men, iniating eye contact. He then stepped passed them, knowing and hearing after a few steps they would be moaning in agony before suffering a neurotic death.

The drunkard got up and ran, ran for his life. As far into the desert as he could before tripping. As soon as he rose he saw the young murderous ninja standing before him yet. His nervous system collapsed as the Chaotic Nerve triggered on him. Every pain nerve in his body ignited beyond measure, makign him ecperience every kind and measure of pain immaginable before going into cardiac arrest and becoming part of the desert forever.

The ninja returned to the original location of the drunk, the bar. He passed through a staff only arch decorated with curtains to hear music from a god forsaken instrument that only one person he knew played, Monk.

He smiled as he bent his head to the side. "Hey Echo."

Echo rolled his eyes. "You could've told your men who I was."

He laughed a bit. "Yeah..I could've, but then again watching you kill them is a bit more fun."

Echo smirked then resumed his frown. "I'm going for the crest, I need your help to find what Land it's in."

Monk took on a more serious look for a moment. "Of course."


Information

"...So...Are you going to take me back in time to finally meet these idiots you've been slapping around?" Said Monk as he and Echo walked down an alley to larger desert outpost.

"No." Said Echo abruptly. "You know you can't resist making fun of them, and trust me, there is a lot to make fun of."

"Come on Echo, I'll be good...Maybe." Said Monk, now pleading with puppy eyes.

"Don't you give me that look." Said Echo in a commanding tone.

Monk merely perked his head and curled his lip.

Happy Smack! Echo backhanded Monk with a surprising amount of force. Monk got up and brushed the dirt off of his clothes. He had seen that one coming. Before he could attempt to return fire, Echo spoke.

"Fine, but you'll be our unnoficial guide." Said Echo rolling his eyes.

"Oh yeah!" Said Monk as he flung a windmill shuriken by force of habit and knocked a construction worker off a tower. "..." Was Monk's only response. When he beckoned Echo to leave Echo only raised an eyebrow.

"So what? He's dead, congrats." Said Echo, shruggging his shoulders.

"You're a monster." Said Monk, smiling. "Fine, but just this town alright?" When Echo didn't respond he knew that Echo would never settle for just one town. Shaking his head they both turned towards the construction site...

"Whew." Said Monk as they slayed the last one. "Good times." Monk was slightly panting.

"You're tired? You wimp." Said Echo, ready to slay an army is neccessary.

"Well it's not like I commit genocide as much as you." Said Monk, pushing Echo good-naturedly.

"It's time, we're going back one-hundred years, so don't ruin things."

"Sure." Said Monk as he experienced Echo's Time Vortex for the first time.


Gaston was passing the time by playing BS with Ean and Ryuka, and Ryuka was badly losing. He looked up to see the new meat-I mean colleague with Echo. "Oh, wonderful. Now we have a white-haired Emo instead of a black-haired one,"

"Shut it." Ryuka muttered, looking up to see the man accompanying Echo.

"Alright, this is Monk, he's getting us to our destination, so shut u pand listen to what he has to say." Said Echo.

Monk snickered. "Look, you're right Echo, it's Ghandi." Said Monk kas he retaliated to Gaston.

"At least I can get through a street brawl by myself, you little white rat," said Gaston with an annoyed smirk on his face.

Ryuka sighed. "Whatever you say." He turned fully to Monk.

Ean got up. "So, I suppose we're going to meet someone who can actually get us there?" he said.

There was a man laying on the end of a tree branch, "Idiots..." said the man.

Echo assumed the tree hugging ninja was known by the guardians so he ignored him. "Apparently it is loacted i nthe Land of Bane, a place only accessible by someone who carries its unique map."

"Tah dah." Said Monk as he held up the scroll containing the map. "But we need a teleporter, its innaccessible due to its location in the sea. And trust me, a ship will not do the job. Even a helicopter would either run out of fuel or be eaten alive by shadow infested clouds."

"Sounds compfortable." Sighed Echo.

"And where in the world do you expect us to find a teleporter?" Ryuka asked.

"I know a guy, who knows a girl that can help you with that..." said Raiden Uchiha, the same man in a tree, as he jumped down to the group, "...one of you probably knows her"

"Hm?" Ryuka turned to the stranger. An impulse told him to ask who he was, but he decided not to. "And who is this "girl"?

"Kokuangyo Hyuga, wife of Suzaku Hyuga." said Raiden calmly, "Well not just her, but any of the Tengu Clan."

Ryuka remembered back to his own fight with Suzaku. "Surely you don't expect her to help willingly?"

"Of course, She's the goddaughter of Fukumaden Uchiha, my mentor." said Raiden smiling, "She'll be willing to help and you've obviously never met her."

"Nope." Ryuka's eyes comically narrowed. "But I did have to fight off Suzaku, before the Peace Requiem."

"Fine then, I'll call her to meet all of you." said Raiden as he radioed Kokuangyo, "Yo, Kokuangyo, I need some help!" After a couple minuets, a pregnant Kokuangyo emerged from a Tengu Portal, "Whacha need?" said Kokuangyo stretching backwards.

"Kokuangyo, we need your use of Tenjutsu: Tengu Portal to help this group, Group, Kokuangyo." said Raiden, "Kokuangyo, Group."

"Wha--?!" Ryuka's eyes became comically drawn circles. "I'm not even gonna ask."

"Hiya, everyone." said Kokuangyo smiling and waving.

"....I'll be by that tree." Ryuka muttered, walking towards said tree. Sitting down beside it, he closed his eyes and concentrated.

Unbeknownst to anyone, he was communicating with Evan Herane, who was still under his influence. "Herane."

"Do it Kokuangyo." said Raiden

"Where do they want to go?" asked Kokuangyo.

"To the Land of Bane."

"Where's that?" asked Kokuangyo.

"I think one of them know..." said Raiden, "Anybody..."

Ean and Gaston noticed Ryuka's concentration. Hey, do some telepathy on Ryuka. whispered Ean to Gaston.

Gaston nodded, and tuned in on Ryuka's communciations.

"Watch the Lost Lands while I'm gone." Ryuka sent. "Avoid Suzaku and Kyashi at all costs. I have my plans too, after this." After that, he cut the communication and stood up.

Monk stepped forward. "Just teleport us while holding this." He said before tossing the scroll to her.

Echo folded his arms. "I hope you realize that whoever goes to the Land of Bane will not be able to return until we complete our mission."

"So? We've done worse," said Ean.

"No, no one has." Said Echo, glancing at the ground.

"Okay, lets go!" said Kokuangyo as she focused and a portal eventually opened up, "Just enter the portal, well I gotta go to my classes, you know..."

At Echo's comment, Ean raised an eyebrow. He then nudged Gaston to start moving, and the two jumped through the portal.

Monk also jumped into the portal but Echo stood behind for a minute. "Anyone else coming?"

A man in a mask and black cloak walked out of the shadows, "Ill be coming too"

Echo hesitated then nodded. "Fine." He beckoned the man towards the portal.

The man walked over to the portal and entered it along with them.

Ryuka followed closely behind.


Echo stood at the portal and waited to be greeted by a moving shadow. Out of it surfaced a tall muscular man wearing an evil yet royal looking armored cloak. He loomed over Echo with malice and spoke. "You will gain their trust, protect them with your life, and when the time comes, they will protect you. That is when we strike."

Echo shook his head. "Why couldn't I have done this on my own?"

The other slightly older young man narrowed his eyes. "The trials you will face will prove to be impossible for one man to complete alone. In this instance, strength or skill will not prevail, but teamwork."

Echo looked to the side. After a moment he looked straight at the man. "...Fine, but as soon as I get the crest I'm going to kill them all."

The dark figure muttered. "I know." Before vanishing in a wisp.

Echo watched the smoke dissipate in the wind before backflipping into the portal before it closed.


The man in the cloak had an earpiece in his mask to which he communicated with another group. "Is everything according to plan?" sent the group. "Yes, they believe so" sent the man back. "Very good sir, keep it up, Master Annon"


Enter Bane

Echo exited the portal to see that he and everybody else was standing on a massive cliffside overlooking a titan size plateau of mountains, capped by ominous looking black clouds that constantly moved in a rapid wild motion, showing that they were indeed alive themselves. He noticed everyone staring at the masked man, but knowing Echo no one said anything.

Monk formed binocluars with his hands and looked across the region. "Yep, the only way to get through here is going through a large underground cavern. One the size of nothing we've ever seen before."

Gaston sweat dropped. "You have to be kidding me..."

"It's better than nothing." Ryuka said stoically.

Ean pulled out his mask. He looked through the lenses, and his eyebrow raised again. "Well, he's not crazy, all he is is annoying. Let's go," said Ean as he set off towards the cavern.

Ryuka walked slowly behind Ean, occasionally looking around at his surroundings. "This place is similar to the Rift of Malice...only without the blood, of course." He noted inside his mind.

They happened across the entrance, and suddenly a giant wave of black bird-like creatures flew out, each were about the size of a full grown man. They all ducked, and eventually the wave blew over, only a few remaining.

"Holy shit! Were those bats?!" yelled Gaston.

"No, they were bats." Ryuka rolled his eyes, although surprised by the sudden wave. Eyeing the few bats remaining, he prepared himself, ready to slice them in half if necessary.

The group felt a rumbling, and Gaston peered into the cave. "Oh God... I think I know why those bats were running," he said, slightly exasperated.

"What?" asked the masked man

Ryuka stared into the cave, and his eyes narrowed. "Damn." Was all he could mutter.

Suddenly, a giant arachnid burst out of the cave, and it was about the size of a large house.

Ean pulled on his mask. "Gaston, go for the head when I take down its leg!" he yelled as he sprinted at the spider, swords out, with Gaston behind him, seemingly more tense, or at least appearing to be so.

The masked man attempted at help but remember that using his powers might reveal who he is. He watched as Ean and Gaston fought

Ryuka frowned slightly, closing his eyes and tilting his head to one side. "A spider? What trash." He thought, swinging his sword diagonally down. A burst of dark energy was thrust at the spider, slicing through the left section of legs.

The section of legs, after falling away, grew back, just the same as the old ones.

Ryuka's narrowed eyes widened slightly.

Ean saw this, and said "Okay, new strategy! Gaston, jump!" he said as he held out his crossed swords as a platform for Gaston to fly high into the air.

As he got to the peak of his trajectory, Gaston brought his right heel up, and fell, gaining speed as he did. He ended with a gravity aided ax kick to the front half of the spider's head, slamming into the ground, and causing sickening crunching sound. Gaston jumped off of the assumedly dead spider, and walked over to the group.

"There, not too bad, right?" he said, grinning a grin of triumph.

Ean looked behind him, and saw stirring of body that belonged to the spider. "Uh... I don't think that worked," he said.

Ryuka jumped beside Ean. "I'm going to see if I can poison it." He said, drawing his sword out fully, positioning it on his shoulder. "Its regeneration abilities are poor at best, so Keibatsu's poison should be able to kill it."

Ean looked closely. He noticed a small bulge on the bottom of the Spider's abdomen. An eye... he thought. "Go for the eye." he said to Ryuka.

Ryuka nodded slightly, then rushed at the spider. Dodging a head-slam from the spider, he slid under the abdomen, thrusting Keibatsu into the eye and injecting a moderate amount of demonic chakra, just enough to poison and kill it quickly. Pulling the sword out, he rolled out from under the spider's abdomen.

The spider screamed (yes, screamed, as in a vocal action) and thrashed about, nearly crushing Ryuka in the process. The exoskeleton began to fall away, and the eye dropped out of the body, and rolled around for a bit. then, it grew a bunch of thin legs, and began to scurry away from the group.

Ean watched in a mix of amusement and astonishment. It then dawned on him, and he shouted to Ryuka "Ryuka, get it! get it!"

"The eyeball?" Ryuka raised an eyebrow, as he got up from the ground. "Or the spider? Because if you're referring to the spider....it's soon to die."

Gaston fell from the sky, and smashed the ground near where the spider-eyeball-thing had just been, apparently it was scurrying too fast. "They're the same damn thing, so just kill it!" he said, continuously trying to stomp on the spider-eyeball-thing.

Ryuka's raised eyebrow lowered, before he charged the eyeball, bringing it in a diagonal uppercut. This time, he sliced it in half with a sickening sound, spilling blood everywhere. He sheathed his sword, as the eye fell apart.

Inside the eye rested an object, and Gaston went to see what it was...

Then Ryuka's eyes widened, and he turned. He was stunned to see hundreds of spiders crawling out towards them, their beady little eyes staring at them like they were food. Which in their case, they were.

"Damn." He muttered, pulling out his sword. "They just don't get it, do they?"

Echo bursted through the entrance to the cavern, bearing Akujin, and by any means looking pissed. He jumped through the air and vanished, appearing on the other side of a large group of spiders and continuing on as they fell apart from his mach speed attack. "We have to get that weapon." He said to Ryuka, beginning to clear a path to the item. "But whatever you do, don't touch it, we don't know its true wielder."

Next to Echo, Raiden came out of a portal, "I miss anything" asked Raiden.

"See that?" Said Echo as he pointed his blade to a glimmering object within a spider's corpse. "We need to get it, without touching it. But there's problem." Said Echo as he looked up to see another legion of spiders drop from the ceiling. He narrowed his eyes and vanished, but from the thousands of spiders practically exploding and guts raining on the cavern floor, it was evident he was holding them off.

"I think I can do that." Ryuka mused, looking at the glimmering object. "Is any energy able to touch it? Because if so, I think I can use my dark energy to grab it."

"Go ahead, but make it quick." Said Echo as he reappeared in front of Ryuka but quickly turned and threw his blade seemingly blindly until it pierced a massive spider's eye and continued on through the air until Echo appeared in front of it and grabbed it.

Ryuka turned fully towards the object, pointing to fingers at it. His hand glowed with dark energy, and soon, the object began to glow as well. He raised his glowing hand, and the object slowly arose in the air, gliding towards him. "Got it." He said calmly, as the object stopped in front of him.

Ean was actually challenged by the beasts. But he noticed they seemed to back off once Ryuka got the item. "Oh, thank God. Those were annoying."

"What do ya think it is?" asked Raiden, staring at the item.

"Obviously, something powerful, or at least dangerous to those spiders." Ryuka speculated, noticing the spiders who were keeping a distance away from the item.

The item as it began to vibrate until a spiritual link formed between it and...Gaston.

Suddenly Monk walked in, he looked as if he had been napping. Yawning he looked at the link and then smiled. "Well Gaston, looks like the Toxin Gauntlets belong to you go ahead, put them on."

The masked man stared at them all, "So, i take it we've found the first item?"

"So it seems." Said Echo as his blade ignited with demonic flames, cleansing it of arachnid intestines. He looked over to Gaston. "Take the item or I will control your mind and do it myself."

Gaston grabbed the item out of the air, and donned the gloves. He then pointed them at the retreating wave of spiders and opened fire. They all ran like the dickens, and Gaston continued firing, eventually growing a grin on his face, until they were entirely gone. He pulled them back and looked them up and down. "Now this is something I could get used to..."

"Seems like they erradicate them quite easily." Echo scanned the area. "Lucky for me this place is crawling with evil." Said Echo as he lifted his hand and the black crystals that acted as walls for the cavern ignited and light spread throughout the labyrinth.

The masked man walked over to Echo, "Echo Uchiha, where to now?"

"You seem familiar, it's like it met you before..." said Raiden, "I know I know you, I'll figure it out..."

"Let's see." Said Echo as he placed his hands together and pushed towards the crystals, shattering them and clearing two paths. "Alright." Said Echo as he thought a moment. "We need to split up. Monk, Ean, Raiden and Gaston, you three cover the left path, if you find anything, power up until we sense your chakra discharges." He looked at the masked man. "You and Ryuka are coming with me."

"Oh really?" said the man as a small slot opened on his mask, revealing shis eye glowed with a glowing bird signil and ordered Raiden to forget the man's identity, "Now do you know who i am?"

"I didn't know before and I don't know now, but I'll figure it out and if you kill me, I have some dangerous friends, so beware." said Raiden, "You also reek of Kokuangyo..."

Ryuka sighed. "Forget it, Raiden." He said, turning to the masked stranger. "But just so I can refrain from calling you 'masked man' all of the time, what's your name?"

Echo's demonic eyes glimmered horrifically. "I'm sure it's not important."

Ryuka's eyes widened in shock for a split second, bit they lowered back down, and he merely turned his head. "Have it your way." He muttered.

"Hm, either he wears perfume or he's Kokuangyo's..." thought Raiden, "His presence is familar, I think I have pretty good idea who he really is..."

"It's Annon." Said Echo, "It's not like you haven't fought him before Ryuka.

"Yes, my name is Annon, and i do wear purfume to mask my true identity" said Annon

"I know you don't!" said Raiden, "I also smell a hint of the natural smell of Kokuangyo, explain that!"

Ryuka's lip merely curled in a skeptical way, and he glanced at the man. To be honest, he wasn't really expecting himself to be surprised. "That's a really bad cover-up, Suzaku." He thought. "Fortunately for both of us, I don't like to waste energy fighting you again."

"Leave him alone, he's doing his job." Spoke Echo. "And I sense that if he wanted to he could shut you up quick handedly."

Annon smirked, "Very true, im glad to be in the presence of someone smart" he said to Echo

Ryuka frowned. "Just make sure your job doesn't interfere with ours." He said.

"I need a nap..." said Raiden, "Is there trees out here?"

"Oh, yes, Raiden. There are definitely trees in a cavern." Ryuka stared at Raiden as if he was stupid.

"Then you realize the dangerous energies around us could easily engulf and devour us easily. You and I need to be quite weary of our surroundings." Said Echo.

Monk's eyebrows unified in anger. "What about me!?" He said, leaping into the air to pounce on Echo.

Echo side-stepped and placed his foot on Monk's head, now standing on him he continued. "That's why we're bringing Ryuka with us throught the right path, we're all familiar with dark energies one way or another."

Annon looked down at his hand, imagining blood on it, "Yes, yes i do"

"So I can't make a tree and sleep on it!" said Raiden, "And I meant in the Land of Bane."

"We should probably find a spot to camp soon. We're only in the first sector, perhaps we should sleep here since we've cleared it out." Said Echo, knowign that this was the only spot that they had made safe so far.

"I agree," said Ean, and Gaston grabbed a few shattered crystals and started to build a shelter out of them. Ean helkped by fusing them together with Ice and melting them together with the wakizashi.

Echo used his Blade Of Amaterasu technique to start a small fire contained by crystals.

"I'll set up my tree..." said Raiden as a tree grew out of the ground, and he laid down on it and went to sleep.

Annon walked away, "Ill be sleeping outside and ill keep watch"

"Good idea, but just in case..." Echo stabbed Akujin into the ground and a wave of evil energy engulfed the area. Echo nodded. "To any outsider this area seems completely empty, and if anything strays within the binds of our circumference they will be killed involuntarily by the Waikyoku technique."

"Very well, Echo-sempai" Annon said heading out

Ean was browsing the database on the land of Bane, which was surprisingly small for a Guardians database. "Hey, Monk, was there ever an emperor that had ruled in this land? Because Sam's expeditionary force said that they came across some ruins that resembled those of an eastern empire," he said to the white haired man.

Annon walked outside as he stared into the moon, "Why father...... why did you leave me.. like this?" thought Annon

Gaston looked through the mouth of the cave to see Annon standing under the moon, seeming sad. He walked out, saying "Hey, you seem kinda lonely out here. What's the matter?"

"Its nothing" Annon replied, staring at the stars

"Aw, don't be like that. You may be hiding under a mask, but even I can tell somethings on your mind. Why not talk about it?" said Gaston.

A Chess Game

"Id rather not, but, i was wondering, to pass the time, would you like to play some chess?" asked Annon

Gaston raised his eyebrows. "Oh, sure," he said.

"And how about we make it interesting, we both wager something important, if you win, ill remove my mask and show you my face, and if you lose?" asked Annon

"If you win, I'll get Ean to help with your take down of Echo," said Gaston, smiling at the seeming tenseness at his words. "Oh, come on, everybody here has plans for it, why wouldn't you? Anyway, let's get to the game," he said as he drew up a chess board.

Annon stared but then nodded as he moved his king ahead, "Thats your king" remarked Gaston. "Exactly, if a king doesnt lead, how can he expect his subordinates to follow?" replied Annon

Gaston moved his bishop forward. "The bishop, is the advisor to the king, giving him knowledge weather he wants it or not," he said while sliding the piece along the board.

Annon smirked and moved his pawn forward to take Gaston's bishop, "Maybe so, but even a pawn can provide some usefulness" he said as he smiled, "Any reason why you joined Echo's search?" asked Annon

Gaston moved his rook in line with the pawn. "Oh, I was selected for it. I might have done it myself, if it seemed interesting t me, or if it provided a challenge, but I also prefer not to get involved with worldly affairs. Why did you join the search?"

"Payback" stated Annon as he took Gaston's queen by cleverly placing his rook and pawns variously, "Check" he stated with his knight

"Ah. Well, I hope you get what you want. Because I just did," said Gaston as he moved his second rook into place, coinciding with his second bishop and knight, so as not to allow any movement from the king. "Checkmate," he said.

Annon remained silent as he meerly moved his knight, "You know what is interesting, the knight, a symbol of peace yet judgement" he said moving the knight to block any attacks to his king while trapping Gaston's king. "I believe, that, is the true, checkmate"

Gaston saw that his king was indeed trapped. "Oh well... Guess I didn't get what I wanted after all..." he said as he put his fingers into a knife-hand formation, and thrust at Annon's mask so as to break it, without hurting the man's face. The mask cracked, and fell away to reveal a fairly surprised Suzaku. "Or did I mean I did get what I wanted?" said Gaston, smirking.

Suzaku smirked, "So, you know who i am" he said opening his eyes, revealing a Geass and ordered Gaston to forget Suzaku's face as Suzaku put back on his Annon mask. "Now then, i defeated you, correct, Gaston?" Annon said

"Hm?" said Gaston. "Oh, just for your information, in order to make sure no one cheated, I put up this barrier.." he continued, as he pointed out the rune barrier. "Anyway, you did win, and on top of my assistance, I will keep my mouth shut about your identity. Deal?" said Gaston as he put up his hand for a shake.

Annon smiled as he shook Gaston's hand.

Accomplice

"Echo." Ryuka stated calmly. "Someone will be temporarily accompanying us."

"Define temporarily." Said Echo, folding his arms and narrwoing his eyes.

"Oh, obviously." Ryuka slightly shrugged. "He won't be with us directly of course. I'm just having him watch over Annon's movements." Seeing Echo's narrowed eyes directed at him, his eyebrow slightly raised. "Obviously, you knew I had plans as well." He said, strangely enjoying the fact that he could possibly be annoying Echo.

"Yours or anyone else's intentions make no difference to me." Said Echo, knowing that his travel back to society would have him stepping over his teammates' dead bodies.

"It should if it interferes with you." Ryuka said calmly, sitting on a random rock.

"Hey everybody." said Raiden just waking up, "There are no woman out here, it's lonely..."

"Your destinies are inescapable, I already know what's going to happen." Said Echo, also painfully accepting Raiden's comment in the back of his mind.

Ryuka raised an eyebrow. "You sound like Neji Hyuga." He muttered, shaking his head slightly. At Raiden's comment, his mouth lowered. "If Kyashi was still around...I would actually have someone to talk to..."

"The difference being that I have literally seen the outcome of our situation." Said Echo, folding his amrs to Raiden's comment.

"Done some time traveling, Echo?" said Ean, walking in on the conversation.

"More than I'd like." Said Echo with slight audibility. "The point is we were meant to be here."

Ean sat down, raising an eyebrow to Echo's words. "My mind is extrememly curious as to what prophet you're listening to," he said. Perhaps, someone you know very well, Echo? he thought.

"Someone close to me, but I'm too sure about whether to believe them or not." He lowered his eyes. "But then again, it must be my destiny, right?"

Then outside a figure appeared passed Annon and then stopped.

Annon stared at the figure, "Who might you be?"

"I'm here on order by my master, my identity stays a seceret unless he says otherwise" the man walked away

Annon smirked, "Very well..." he replied as he walked away as well.


Seeing everyone else had settled down, Echo sat down beside the demonic fire he created. He stared deep into it, watchign as the trillions of lost souls within its weary, yet might heat each cried out for help. His eyes stared into to them with such hidden contempt it seemed as if the reflection of the fire into them was meant to be, that he would forever be a part of that crucial scene depicting two evils, only bonded by attributes, and not by heart.

He continued to bear down upon the sight of the fire, ignoring the signals his body was giving him to sleep. Unbekownst to him, he drifted into a deep sleep...

Devastation...It plagued the future world. Chaos and Golden skies of Twilight plagued the atmosphere, containing the acoustics that so defined the cries of agony from its King's victims. As life itself continued to cascade into oblivion in this wretched realm, there was yet a peaceful portion of land not devoured by the king of shadow's light. A graveyard, upon its tombstones were the names of several past heroes who were torn apart by the cruelties of man, unable to fulfill their own undying dreams. Yet miles away, upon a tainted throne sat a man content to his own corrupted heart's desires, total domination. Beyond his own knowledge, this was not his true eternal dream, but a lie, one embedded into his heart by dreams for power that originated from a dark crest.

Echo awoke in shock, oblvious that his companions were still asleep. He rubbed his face, wondering if the nightmare he had just witnessed were a manifestation of his own mind, or a vision. But this question was horribly rhetorical, he knew that this dream would be the consequences of his own actions. This was not his dream, nor would he let it ever be.


The Next Day

The iron man woke up to darkness, mostly attributed to the fact he was in a cave. Great, sleeping on stone will do wonders for me... he thought as he groaned, getting up off of the cold, hard ground which was his bed that night. Really gotta kill something to sleep on... he mused as he left the shelter he improvised for himself and the group.

He met a slightly different colored sun-rise that morning, and noticed that he had the Toxin Gauntlets strapped to his belt. Hmm... these are the first real weapons I've owned... It feels different... he thought as he gathered wood for a fire.

Annon then woke up, "Hey, good morning

Gaston looked up, "Oh, good morning," he said as he rubbed his hands together to start a spark, igniting the pile of tinder.

Annon walked up to Gaston, "Need any help with anything?"

"Hopefully we can find some giant tiger pelts or something. Stone is not my favorite type of bedding..." said the iron skinned man, groaning a bit from his stiffness. "And no, but we need food. Ean and I only have enough for a few days, and that won't last as long as I know it will need to..."

Annon took out a few scrolls and threw them at Gaston, "I figured that.... so i had the problem fixed ahead of time"

Gaston opened the scroll, which had the kanji for feast inside it, repeated as many times as the paper would hold. He looked to Annon, with his eyebrows raised. "I think we have enough food now," he said.

Annon smirked, "Well.... anyway, i have a few more if we need them" he said facing upwards at the sky and then at some snow, left over in certain areas, "Gaston, do you know why the snow is white?"

Gaston looked at the few drifts, "I've never really thought about it," he said as he turned to Annon. "Do you?"

Annon stared at the snow and spoke, "Its white because it has forgotten what color it is" he stated. "How can something that doesnt remember something that important.... just remain so peaceful, lieing there on the ground, without a care in the world?"

Gaston considered the masked man's statement. It sounded cheesy, but he had a philosophical point. "Hmm... I think that because it doesn't have anything to worry about, being just snow, that it can exist by itself. Sure, it melts eventually, but that's all part of the cycle, right?"

Annon slowly turned his head to Gaston, "Gaston, do you know what mask i hide behind?"

Gaston donned a quizzical look, "His mask?"

Annon stared at gaston, "When seireitou died, he smiled. He smiled as the blade twisted and impaled him. His smile.." began Annon as he slowly weeped, "His.. smile, was a mask of his desire to bring peace to this world"

Gaston looked straight ahead. "...Some of us want justice, some of us want to protect, some of us want to fight... He wanted peace. I don't resent him for it, but things can happen, and his death was not unprecedented. I must say it is going to be strange without a man going around taking everything onto his own back. He did take a load off of the Guardians, though," he said. He continued after a small silence, "What do you want?"

A distance away, Ryuka was lying on a tree branch, lost in thoughts. He thought back to his defection...his genocide of Yamagakure 2...his betrayal. Before, it seemed so clear to him now, that the Uchiha was a disease he had to get rid off. Now, it seemed very blurry and unfocused.

He closed his eyes, and thought back even more. Itachi....Ryun....Seireitou....his own parents....even himself. They, at one time, had proved him wrong, that clans were not all about arrogance and power. They had shown themselves to be brave heroes. Seireitou and Itachi had even went through disgrace and dishonor in order to protect the ones they loved.

When his eyes opened slightly, he frowned. "Is it really worth it?" He asked himself, not knowing the answer.

Echo walked into the camp, the glare from the unnatural sun imparing his outline. "Alright, if everyone's ready, it's time to move on."

Ean strode up next to him. "I've done some research on what the Guardians had in the archives. Thos spiders aren't the biggest thing we'll be coming across," he said, his face turning slightly grim.

Ryuka decided to put aside his "emo mask", getting up and walking over towards the group. "Can you be more specific?" He asked.

Monk yawned loudly as he woke up. "I know, wait until you see...It." Said monk, holdign up a flashlight to his face.

"Aside from that though, we still have to cross the underground river, it interlaps the entirety of the cavern, and provides a centerpoint to reach any point of these caves." Said Echo, sighing as he grabbed Monk's flashlight and snapped it in two.

Raiden walked to both of them, "Hey everybody!" said Raiden casually, "Are there any hawks out here, in the Land of Bane?"

BAM! Raiden soon immediately found himself on the ground, as Ryuka retracted his fist. "You really need to learn how to blurt things out." He muttered.

"Actually, there are Rocs..." said Ean.

"Hawks? You could say that." Said Monk slightly crying, grieving for his lost flashlight. "But they don't come in until the next area, once we escape the caverns."

"What, I wanna know!" said Raiden, "I can talk to animals, and use them as an information source."

"Even if we do encounter more hostility from other animals, it shouldn't really be a problem right?" Ryuka nodded his head towards Echo. "Echo slaughtered over a hundred of those smaller spiders without breaking a sweat."

Echo nodded slightly, considering adding the fact that he didn't use any chakra, but he didn't think it was neccessary. "True." He muttered.

"They were two feet long, and Ryuka took out the biggest one. Don't get a bloated head," said Gaston.

"Every one of us has handled stronger opponents in the past. Opponents that could kill over a hundred enemies, destroy villages with a single strike, and break through even the strongest of barriers." Ryuka said. "Unless we face one of those opponents on our journey, we shouldn't find it too difficult to head through the river."

Ean laughed, "Just wait, we'll be seeing bus sized river sharks when we get there."

"Not yet." Said Monk in all seriousness.

"We'll be fighting things more on the parasitic side today." Said Echo nonchalantly.

"Oh great..." said Annon who sat on a rock formation

"Well, it makes sense. We sure didn't kill off all of the spiders..." said Gaston.

Ryuka folded his arms, putting on a fake smile. "Maybe, one of us will even lose an arm or two!" He said, with fake happiness.

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