CLOSED SIGNUPS Two Times, One Sword (Closed)

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Amaterasu moved through the air, but the missiles were following the heat signature of the sun goddess. Neza was trailing behind the missiles with shotgun and sword drawn. She fired her shotgun when Amaterasu made a sharp turn and couldn't dodge. She moved farther up the sky to avoid being like a dove caught in a hawk's clutches. Neza was caught up in the thrill of the chase as the other gods that weren't in the process in reviving Yori channeled their energy toward Amaterasu to sustain her form, while making them fade more into the plane of the gods.

Yang ripped large sheet of scrap metals from the downed golems with his magnetic powers, throwing them at Jiro. The sharp metal cut through the smaller stones and wedged into the larger ones. The metal scrap that went made shallow cuts at Jiro's arms and legs. Jiro yelled in rage; several stone columns shot up from all sides, made of the densest of stone. Many of the flying pieces of thin and razor sharp metal pieces Yang was controlling collided with these pillars, shaking them off balance. The others barely seemed to turn around the pillars. Jiro started to weave around the pillars as more shot from the ground.

The metal discs shot upward and started to slice down in the gaps of the stone pillars in a cutting arc. Jiro turned around after the first pass of blades missed him, and put his hands together as though he was catching a sword with his two hands. The stone pillars each trapped the metal fragments between each other. He then clenched both of his fists; the ten pillars moved in unison with his fingers. Jiro roared in rage as the palms of the stone fingers shot from the ground. He exerted more energy than he had thought previously possible to bend the stone, using the energy that Amaterasu had been gradually gifting him through the thin sunbeam that cut through the dark sky in defiance. The first gigantic hand shot upward and took full shape to block the incoming missiles Amaterasu was retreating from, and swatting down Neza with vicious backhand. The second gigantic hand came at Yang as a fist barrelling down the earth where he stood in place. At the corner of his eye, Jiro saw Yori move towards Yang to attack him with his fingers around his sword, about to be hit by the stone hand. It stopped, but as soon as it did, the body of Yori instantly dropped like a rag doll. The metal of Yori's body had all been controlled, down to the last meticulous detail in how he walked. The two warriors started to wrest control over the hand comprised of stone and the metal embedded in it in a battle of wills. As soon as Yang felt the hand was under his control, he shot it back at Jiro. However, not the whole hand moved. The index fingertip remained and flew at Yang. Yang saw that the Aqwuis Stone in Jiro's possession was glowing, and as the fingertip shot through the air, the friction caused the fingertip to be shaped like an arrow, flying a perfect path, along the magnetic field Yang could feel instinctively. It's core was mainly metal, and it was moving along the path like it was a rail. Realizing this in only an instant, the arrowhead rock reached the pole - his brain.

Yori's body was surrounded by the subtle energies of Tsukiyomi, Kisshōten, Mikaboshi bringing him back from the grave. An aspect of him was coming through, which had used his cybernetics to calculate the killing move to be relayed to Jiro through the Aqwuis Stone.

"YOU WILL PAY FOR BITCH SLAPPING ME, YOU MOTHERFUCKER!" Neza screamed in the sky. An entire ordinance of missiles were revealed from several compartments jutting out from Neza's sides. Amaterasu raised her sword up high to channel the sun's heat into a very small but intensely hot orb. She was fading away like the other gods. This would be her last gift, in response to the request the aspect of Yori whispered in her ear like a muse. When the missiles were fired, they curved towards the much more intense source of heat. When Neza realized the presence of the orb, it was too late. She could dodge the orb, but she couldn't dodge the blast radius of the missiles that were attracted and would explode because of the intense heat, nor stop part of her metal body from melting violently into liquid solder.

The smoke cleared. Neza remained standing in the air, a monstrosity held together by tendrils of black energy. All the gods faded away from the mortal plane. The stones rose up and surrounded Neza, except for the Aqwuis Stone, defiant and under Jiro's control.

"You cannot win as long as I'm alive to fight against you." said Jiro.
"YOU ARE ALONE!"
"I don't have much time." Yori whispered, through the Aqwuis Stone, still lying as though inert. Yori could feel Hotaru with him as two flames joining to become one. At any moment he knew it could all end, but it was no longer about the gods anymore. He would help his best friend.
 
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Soon parts of from the gold golems and Yang floated around Neza, the orbs glowing around her. Tendrils lashed out to grab the parts and bind them to Neza. "BOW BEFORE YOUR NEW GOD!" she boomed. The golem before them was no longer something they could see as Neza. With the orbs in hand she was just that, a God.


"Yori... I need your strength now more than ever." Jiro gripped his sword tightly.
"I am with you Jiro." Yori placed a hand on the samurai's shoulder.
"Glad to have you back, now then we need a plan-"

"How are you still alive! Damn it Yori just die already!" she interrupted. She started moving her hands, and Yori found himself trapped in a small cube made of stone.

Jiro hit one of the walls with his sword and it crumbled "We need to keep moving!" he shouted and started to run.

"Run all you want fool!" she lifted her hands up and the sky turned a faint red. Fire balls started to rain down from the heavens, crashing into the ground. Jiro did his best with the Aquis orb to drive off the attacks coming their way but it was to much area to cover. A ball slammed into his chest leaving him badly burned, he struggled to get up. "Tell you what boys give me the final stone and I will give you swift deaths!" Neza laughed. Tendrils lashed out at the two from the ground, trying to grab hold.

Jiro slashed and hacked at them, a black ooze coming him, just to drive them off.

"This is amazing!" Neza looked at her hands, then clenched them tight. "I wonder brother, you can come back, but can your caveman!" the Goddess Stone shone brightly and an instant force came down on Jiro. "Let's see how he does at five times gravity shall we!" she laughed.

Jiro went to his knees and started to scream in pain, the stone under him starting to crack. "YOU CAN'T WIN! I'M PERFECT!"
 
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Jiro could feel the bones bend under the gravity about to snap. Every heartbeat fought to push his blood though his body. He kept upright in defiance of the false god. The true gods had fought in mortal forms in sacrifice for the world. His ears were ringing from the impact of the fireballs that had rained upon them, but Neza's words drove through in declaration of her perfection. So did Yori's howls of pain. Smoke and steam was coming from him as he held the Aqwuis Stone in his hands, given to him when he was freed from Neza's stone prison. Yori's skin burned like paper, with embers falling off with the smoke. Metal exoskeleton and flesh were exposed as Jiro could see the gears spin out of control. Through the light of the Aqwuis Stone, Jiro felt the what Yori felt, and his conviction. His form was different from hers, which was stable and overflowing. His form was unbalanced and would eventually lead to his destruction, using the makeshift body and soul the gods had barely repaired as fuel.

"HOTARU!" Yori yelled. A psychic shock wave burst from the stone. The Goddess Stone pulsed, flinching as it was hit by the weaponized raw emotion. The Goddess Stone could never forget the way Amaterasu had been seduced by Suijin, and without Amaterasu in control of the stone, it had the same weakness.

Jiro then felt nothing, as though time itself had stopped. He could feel the thin beam of light on his forehead that had been with him since his fight with Neza. It was Amaterasu's light with him. With the focus on the Goddess Stone temporarily broken, the thin beam of light exploded into a large pillar that boomed through the dark clouds. The light infused with Jiro as pure energy.
 
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"HOW DID YOU! DAMN YOU!" she cast the broken rock aside. "Let's see how you handle this!" the Lumus Stone glowed. Neza held out her hand and fired off a blue laser from her palm, aimed right for Yori. It sped through the air and it seemed like this was Yori's true end.

"Yori!" Jiro shouted and a wall shot up from the ground to block the laser, but it only held for a moment. Jiro grabbed Yori and pulled him out of the way just as the wall was reduced to burning slag. "We have to get the stones away from her. If we can damage them or or get them away from her we might be able to stop her." he held out the remains of the Goddess Stone, it glow was dim but it still held power.

"Stop ignoring me!" Neza shouted, a huge rock was sailing right for them. Jiro drew his blade and sliced right through it.

"Trade." he told Yori, handing him the Goddess Stone and taking the Aquwis Stone. He summoned a large chunk of ice and hurled it at Neza.

"Do you really think something so trivial can hurt me!" she held out her hand expecting a fire blast, but panicked when none came, forgetting she cast it aside. The ice hit her full force and she fell to the ground with a clang.

Jiro ran to her and started hacking at the Shard Stone "RAAH!" he struck it once more and it cracked. Neza's body shook violently and she bolted upright "GET AWAY FROM THERE!" she grabbed him and through him back towards Yori. Neza rose back into the air "No more games!" the Husk Stone started to glow and instantly there were two copies next to her. They descended on the samurai like hornets protecting a nest, swords drawn.
 
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The Goddess Stone and the Mark of Amaterasu's Chosen glowed brightly when they had become united. It was difficult to comprehend that there was a time he didn't know what the sun was like, and now he was holding it in his hands. Yori's wonder, however, was quickly overcome by rage when he saw Neza create clones of herself to swarm on his friend.

His cybernetic sensors locked onto the clones in an instant and calculated their expected flight paths. He yelled and charged as a thick beam of flame cut through the air, cutting a hole into the chest of the clones. The beam persisted as Yori fed more energy into the stone, changing its direction abrubtly in an attempt to cut through the other clone and Neza at the same time. The clone was cut in two, but Neza activated the Chaos Stone to form a barrier around her that split the beam into random directions away from her. At the same time, the Husk Stone multiplied the clones that she once had, as though she was the mythical Hydra.

Yori yelled in fury. It was no longer enough that he hit the clones, or Neza, or the stones. He wanted to cleanse the world of her evil forever, and leave absolutely no trace. He activated his rocket boosters with the power of the Goddess Stone, launching himself towards the sea of Nezas. The stone fired fireballs like a machine gun during his flight, bombarding the entire area of clones in fire. His blade glowed with white hot fire as he took a swing at the Husk Stone only to have the remaining Neza clones close in on him. They started to melt into molten liquid metal as they attempted to swing their blades. The warrior made of flame couldn't feel how much energy he was spending anymore. At long last he could have his vengeance against Neza who had killed everyone he loved.
 
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Four, Neza had four stones left and it was starting to sink in. "NO! FUCK YOU!" she spat. The Pandnos Stone started to glow and from under Yori the shadows bound his feet to the ground. "I'll burn you until there is nothing left! No more coming back dear brother!" she held out both of her hands and the Lumus Stone shone brightly. A huge ball of energy started to form in the center of her body, it was as if all the light around her was being sucked in. "You want the light of justice well here it is!" she laughed. Neza pulled her hands back and thrust forward, the ball sped toward Yori like lightning.

Jiro jumped in front of Yori and pierced the ground with his blade "Aianmirā!" he yelled. A pillar of polished iron shot up from the ground, and reflected the light back at Neza. It engulfed her and there was a distinct cracking noise as the Lumus Stone fell to the ground unable to handle its own power. Jiro picked it up and stuffed it into his gi.

The ball of light quickly turned to smolder shadow and was dispelled. Neza's body was badly damaged melted parts and missing pieces, without the stones she was starting to fall apart. No longer able to fly she touched down, breathing heavy. "What's your problem.... the both of you... I just want.... want.... I WANT MEI BACK!" she dug her fist into the ground and several wood stause popped out, the Spirit Stone glowing. Then, the Zae Stone started to glow as she breathed life into the creatures. "And a touch of dark energy for a good fight!" she snapped her fingers and the wooden beings were engulfed in shadow. Before them were snarling little beasts.


The creatures charged the swordsmen, clawing at them. Jiro swing at one and his sword was stopped about half way into the creatures arm, the wood was dense and wet. The golem reared back and Jiro lost his grip on sword, the monster punched him in the stomach. Jiro moved back to recover "Yori fire!"
 

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Yori fired at the wood golems. Neza burst out laughing as soon as the fireballs flew. The wooden golems didn't even try to dodge; they charged towards them. At the point of impact, the flame surrounded them, but instead of harming them, the flames merely coated them before being snuffed out. They started to grow and move faster than before.

"Fool!" said Neza.

The initial shock of his attack backfiring halted Yori's momentum, and he could suddenly feel the void of the energy he had spent. The flames around him snuffed out. He was no longer flying, falling to the ground. He knew he hadn't much left. There was only the adrenaline he had manufactured from cannibalizing Waru's beast for one last stand. He dove towards where Jiro was skirmishing the golems as the adrenaline pumped into his veins. He knocked aside the golem in front of Jiro with as he dove into it. The other golems surrounded Yori before he could get up from the ground. He stood up and looked around, bloodied as the adrenaline clouded his mind. He could see Jiro coming to his aid.

"Forget me!" yelled Yori. "Kill her!"

Neza snapped. The golems closed in and started to rain blows on him as the tried desperately to ward them off with his sword and arms. His sword was soon knocked out of his hands. Attempting to get on the back of one of the golems was no good - the golem merely snatched him from its back and crushed him into the ground.
 

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"But you'll die!" Jiro shouted.

"That doesn't matter just go!" Yori called back.

Jiro grit his teeth, knowing what he had to do. He ran at the group of golms, seeing the one that had his sword, and leaped off one of them grabbing his sword in the process. "NEZA!" he shouted coming at her from above.

"I don't think so!" she sent a tree rocketing out of the ground causing Jiro to pull his attack short, landing on the ground. Her claws cut through the tree, nearly slicing him in half. "I don't need underlings to kill you!" she roared.

The fults Goddess rushed the swordsman with great speed, claws outstretched ready to kill. *CLANG!* They locked in clash "As long as there is breath in my body you will not win Neza!" Jiro broke the clash and sent an onslaught of rocks speeding towards her. She couldn't dodge quickly enough, jagged rocks tearing into her armor revealing her human form.

"NO!" she screamed and shot off a few balls of shadow energy. "I won't lose to you!"

Jiro held out the Lumus and it shot out a wave of light, canceling out Neza's attack. However, she was quick to come in with a flurry of slashes and cuts. "I'll cut you to ribbons!"

Jiro was keeping up though, blocking nearly everything. "It's over Neza!" he held out the light stone again and a wild flash went off. She had to cover her eyes giving Jiro his chance. He sliced through her remaining stones before she had a chance to recover, one by one they flickered and fell to the ground.

Neza doubled over and her body let out this huge light "NOOOOOOO!" she screamed. Chunks of her armor flew off in all directions, revealing her true human form... though she was motionless.

Jiro sheathed his sword "Now rest knowing that your evil has been erased from this world." he walked to Yori, golems wasting away. He helped him over to Neza "If you have anything to say to her before she's gone now is the time. Hate her or not she is still your sister." he stepped away from the two.

"Well... you got me little brother... after all these years... dad would be proud huh?" she looked up at him with tears in her eyes. "I won't say I'm sorry for what I did... No I'll never apologize to you... but I will say this... I'm proud of you... guess you became that stupid hero you always wanted to be..." she chuckled.

One thing Yori didn't see Neza doing was clutching the damaged Padnose Stone behind her back, it's power still strong. "So come on... take the one thing I have left... my life."
 

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Yori fell to his knees in front of Neza after standing for so long without Jiro supporting him. His shoulders slumped as he tried to keep himself upright. Even his eyes seemed to struggle to stay up.

"Cut the crap."

His words were full of sadness. There was never any family. When he was brainwashed, he had wanted so much for Father and Ayako to be proud of him. It was a fool's hope. Mr. Paxton was only a businessman who was interested in removing his competition. Ayako was programmed to raise him into a killer, sugar coating the abuse with lies that it was because she cared for him.

Neza could see that tears were streaming down Yori's face, unlike hers, which were still in her eyes.

"Face it." said Yori. "We were never good for each other."
That got a sharp laugh from Neza, because it was the plain and simple truth, finally stated out loud. Yori chuckled briefly through the tears as well before their faces turned grim again. Yori couldn't remember another time they had ever laughed together.

"I should've said that to you before running away, to make my own life."

He started coughing up blood, but neither Jiro or Neza moved. Jiro still had his hand on the hilt of his sword to cut Neza down should she try something, and Neza was still focused on the stone behind her back. Yori's face became pale. She was still waiting to be killed, but Yori's hands were out without his strength or his sword. It had been dropped when the golems beat him down. His expiration was guaranteed when he bargained with the gods to revive him to fight with his friend in the final battle.
 
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Neza crawled over to Yori and hugged him "It's okay rest now Yori, let death take you." she whispered.

"Hey get away from him!" Jiro drew his blade and started to slowly approach.

"Know this though... you lost!" she laughed. She held up the Padnose Stone and it shined brightly. "If I can't beat you here and now then I'll just take the future for myself!" the tip of her tail glowed a deep purple. She sliced into the air and some kind of portal opened up. "I'll go back to when Paxton was born, kill him, and take his place!" she laughed.

"STOP!" Jiro shouted coming down at her with his sword. *CLANG!* His sword hit the ground just as she slipped into the portal. It shut and she was gone.

"NO!" Yori cried out before spitting up more blood. "Gods please hear my.... p plea... please I beg you... I want to go after my sister... my fight isn't over y yet!"

The Gods and Goddesses appeared around the two samurai, picking up their stones and repairing them, they looked to Yori.
 
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The looks the Gods and Goddesses gave were sorrowful. Yori started to lean backward, but Jiro caught him. Himura ran up as soon as Neza escaped through the time portal. He even jumped to where the time portal was, though it had already collapsed far earlier than he had jumped.

"Dammit." said Yori. "I can't go out like this. Not with Neza alive."
"You're not." assured Jiro. "The Gods are with us."
Kisshōten stepped forward. "It might not be possible at this stage."
"We have all the stones!" Jiro shouted. He lowered his head in resignation.
"She's not to blame." said Yori, "I accepted the bargain."
"Bargain?" Jiro snapped. "What bargain?"
Yori started to cough up more blood.
"Reanimation, meant only to live just long enough for the final battle." responded Kisshōten.
"It's not over. His sister's madness must be stopped in the future. He must live."
"There might be a way to do both." said Amatsu-Mikaboshi.
"Don't give them false hope." said Kisshōten.
"Just because a time portal hasn't been used to heal someone, doesn't mean it can't!"
"It takes more than a theory to cheat death." said Kisshōten.
"We're Gods." It was Amaterasu herself whose voice boomed with the definitive declaration of their implicit might. "We must start now!"

Jiro helped Yori grip the handle of his sword so that it was comfortable on his chest and clasped his shoulder reassuringly.
"See you in the future, my friend."
Yori had a faint smile on his face as his eyes closed. There was a flash of light, and Yori was gone along with all the gods.

"I do not understand." said Jiro. "I'm still here."
"What about me?" said Himura. "I was told I'd be able to go back to see my family again."
"They'll come back for us."
"Days? Months? Years?" said Himura.
"Trust them."
"Haven't I been punished enough? I want to go home."
 

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Epilogue



Twenty years passed and Jiro did his best to band humanity together and drive out the remaining forces left behind by Gin. He also shared the story of his adventure with Yori and the Gods, garnering him a sizable following. He rebuilt the Ieyoshi manor, with help from Himura, and started a family.

One day though the Goddess Amaterasu came to the manor "Jiro you are looking well, I'm so pleased to see that you and your family are flourishing once more."

Jiro bowed and got on his knees "Thank you."

"Oh come now we've been through enough together, stand." she smiled.

"What brings you here great Goddess?" Jiro smiled.

"I've come to take Himura home. We agreed that a twenty year wait to see his family was a good punishment."

"I'll give him the good news."

The samurai went to fetch Himura from his room, he over joyed. The two said their good byes and Amaterasu sent Himura back to his time... to his family. "What will you do now Jiro, this land is once more free from evil."

"I'm going to open our home again and teach my fathers words to other element users. I'm going to raise a family... I'm going to help Yori with his quest."

"Oh and how do you plan to do that?"

"I will pass our legend down as long as I can, even then send it through the generations that follow. My descendants will help him, this I can promise... it's what I owe him." he looked to the sky.

"Very well, let me tell you where I sent him then." she leaned over and whispered in his ear.

"Oh well then this should be easy." he smiled.

______

The sound of rustling leafs in the wind greeted Yori as he woke up. Soft green grass under his body let him know he was alive. He sat up and looked around him, nothing but grass in front of him. Behind him though was a lake, a lake he knew all to well.

"Welcome back Yori." a voice said from behind him. "We've been waiting for you."

 

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Confusion set in on the man looking at the lake. He had been in void, his body reformed and reformed like toffee hammered into pieces, melted and hardened, only to be hammered again. His memories were not linear, like movie tape cut and pasted, and even overlapping at times, that he couldn't make sense of. Yori felt the sensation of grass tingle against his skin, on both of his hands. He then touched the sides of his face to feel only skin. When he heard the voice from behind him, he turned around abruptly and got to his feet. Yori felt alien to his own body, as he could feel the lightness of it spring into action. Not even the name he was called felt his.

Past, present and future remained muddled in his mind, and though Yori knew of a fight that existed that took place here, there was currently no when.

"Who are you?" Yori demanded. His eyes darted to the sword the other carried, and he patted around for the same. He found his own sword and drew it. Unlike his body, the sword was characteristically his. The grip and balance felt perfect, crafted just for him. There were glimpses in his mind of a man who moved faster than his sight could perceive.
 

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"Woah hey man chill out!" the young man backed off. "My name Hiroki Ieyoshi from the Ieyoshi family. The same line as Jiro Ieyoshi." he bowed. "It's an honor to meet the man that helped save the world all those years ago, so thanks man!" he smiled. "I gotta say the scrolls were a little off about your description. They said you were half metal and half human, but you seem pretty human to me." he laughed. This young man was so full of happiness and light, surely this couldn't be Yori's home. Youths always had it hard and rarely did they survive.

"Where am I, what year?" Yori was quick to ask.

"Dude this is your time, the year 3035." Hiroki arced an eyebrow.

"I I don't understand my time is a horrible place filled with pollution and death." Yori looked around.

"Look this might be a shock to you but you really need to put your sword away, come on man just chill out and I can tell you everything."

"... Fine." Yori sheathed his sword.

Hiroki sat down in the grass "Come on take a load off." he smiled. "So this is what the scrolls said, after you and Jiro defeated Gin Jiro went on to tell your tale. He preached to word of the Gods, he talked about your adventures together, and slowly the people started to believe in the Gods and Goddesses again. All that praise and prayer gave them enough power to save your world from what it was becoming. This world is one full of life and light. Well thats what the scrolls say anyway, you tell me if it's any different." he smiled. "Oh right I guess you probably want know where you are exactly, well they put you right back where it all started." He pointed over to a large manor. Yori was at the exact same spot where he and Jiro first fought, the Ieyoshi manor, and it hand only changed a little, looking a little more modern.
 

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Yori sat down on the cold grass again, though he was visibly shaken. His legs started to shake as though he was a newborn deer.
"Dude, breathe." Hiroki replied.

Yori folded back onto the grass and he looked out to the lake pensively. There was dead silence as both simply sat taking in the light of the sun. Hiroki whistled a tune to break it. The soft grass between Yori's fingers helped him relax. He breathed in deeply, and out through his nostrils.

"He's gone." said Yori.
Hiroki's whistling stopped. "You mean Jiro."
"I thought I'd be able to see him again."
"Hey man, I'm sure he wanted to go, but knew he was needed in his time more."
Yori smiled.
"Good memory?"
"It's just strange. The first time we met, we tried to kill each other."
"Wait ... what?!" Hiroki couldn't hold back the surprise and tinge of excitement in his voice.
"He thought I was one of Gin's henchmen, a metal man."
"Your armor must've been quite something." Hiroki ventured.

It could have been armor. It might have fit him so well that it felt like a part of him, and without it, he felt naked, weak. Yori explained the fight right up to the point he remembered.

"Then Gin invaded." Hiroki interjected. "That at least lines up with what I heard, anyway. The gods had sent a great warrior back in time to defend the Goddess Stone against Gin's forces. I know the rest."
"Could you, uh," Yori paused. "tell me what happens?"
"What? You were there, weren't you?" Hiroki said jokingly. "Did the time portal scramble your brains or something?"
Yori sat in silence, casting his eyes downward.
"Oh, shit." cursed Hiroki. "I didn't mean to - sorry." Yori's strange behavior now made complete sense. He had been inflicted with amnesia. When he drew his sword, he could've been reliving his fight with Jiro, the first thing he remembered about this place.
"Null sweat." said Yori. Hiroki looked puzzled. Yori clarified. "Don't sweat, you know, don't worry about it." The future Yori was from didn't exist - never existed. It was all a dream now. It was entirely possible the phrase he uttered never caught on, because it was part of that non-existant time.
Hiroki sighed in relief. "That means a lot."
Yori's stomach growled. Hiroki laughed. "We can talk about it over something to eat. How does teriyaki sound?"
Yori nodded, though his eyes didn't blink.
"Everything ok?"
"Yeah." said Yori.

Yori didn't see the need in making Hiroki needlessly worry and watch everything he said in fear it would upset him. Yori would just get over it. He wouldn't let amnesia get in the way of his mission, once it was clear again.

He had remembered Yoko, and the first time he had teriyaki. He felt ashamed for forgetting. She had been with him, through the thick of it all, just like Jiro. Even more than that, she was his guide, his spiritual cornerstone. They had talked by the lake as well about souls and favorite animals, a quiet moment he was glad to have retained.
 
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Tone 6th

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As they made their up to the house Yori saw not a small village, but a vast metropolis. Images of them leaving Jiros town flashed through his mind. The house had actually been converted to a huge building, they entering the top of it. "Yeah a few hundred years ago they turned the old house into a small company. Aside from keeping faith in the Gods the Ieyoshi family got started in the solar energy business, I bet you can't figure out which Goddess suggest that." he laughed a little. "Now we are responsible for a third of Japans energy." Hiroki laughed.

They entered the home and, unlike the one in the past, was bustling with family members and house attendants. "Yes, before you ask, the Gods and Goddesses are still very much present in our lives. The other week the Goddess Kissoten came to pay her respects to our grandmother who passed away." he smiled.

"Come on lets get you some new clothes, then we eat! You can ask all the question you want over dinner." the young man smiled.
 
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foodforpigs

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I bet you can't figure out which Goddess suggest that.

Though Hiroki laughed about it, it was true that Yori didn't know. He did know of the Gods and Goddesses in only a vague sense; they were the ones that presided over him during his great sleep journeying through time. Hiroki directed him through the hallways of hardwood floors, sliding doors, and potted plants. The light from outside shined in through the tall windows that opened the view to the beautiful metropolis below.

"It's so sparse." said Yori.

Hiroki had stopped for a moment to register what Yori had said, but kept walking to lead Yori to a room, opening the door.

"This is the guest room." stated Hiroki. The room was immaculately clean, and also very spartan, with only a bed, a dresser, and a nightstand with a lamp on it. "It's your room now. You'll find clothes in the dresser."
"Thanks."
"Just follow the hallway and take the stairs down to the kitchen when you're ready." said Hiroki.

Yori nodded and closed the door behind him, placing his sword on the bed. As he was disrobing, his hand touched the KAMI-5 badge of his past life. The gi was now spread between his two hands, in reverence. He set the gi down carefully on the bed, sat beside it, and stared at the symbol, tracing the stitching with his fingers.

KAMI-5, the god-city, and its police, were no more; the badge was the last piece of evidence of their existence. There had been so much suffering in his future. Those fellow officers were the closest people to family he had ever known, and though times had been tough, just being with them seemed to make things at least ok.

Rin had been one such person. She always knew what she wanted to do during the downtime, revelling in the nightlife and inviting out Yori for drinks. She never told him what she thought of Hisae after Yori had decided to protect and provide for her and her daughter. The pain and suffering that the police had slogged through to make their city a safe place, of those in poverty trying to make it work, now amounted to nothing.

He went back to the wardrobe and slapped on some street clothes from the dresser. They felt very comfortable. He should've known. Hiroki had been at the spot expecting him to re-appear. They had plenty of time to prepare. He took the gi, knelt down at the dresser, and gently placed it in the bottom, empty drawer, to bury the symbol. However, he couldn't bring himself to stand, slouching under the weight of sorrow.


"Warrior."

It was the voice of a woman. He didn't know for how long she had been standing there, but it didn't matter. The voice soothed him, reminding him of who he was, just as much as it reminded him of who she was. She was the Goddess, Amaterasu. Yori stood and faced her. Though she wore the clothes of this time, she looked just as magnificent as she had been in the past. She had clearly adapted far better in this future than the one Yori remembered, where the sky was always black.

"How long were you going to keep me waiting?" she scolded.

Yori couldn't find the words. Amaterasu suddenly walked up and hugged him tightly. They stood together in silence before Amaterasu backed away. Yori still looked surprised.

"Did you really think I wouldn't come over on the day of your return?" said Amaterasu. "Well don't just stand there dumbfounded, say something."

"Sleeping in a coma for thousands of years really fogs the brain. I could use a coffee."
Amaterasu smiled. "Come. Let's not keep Hiroki waiting."
 
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Tone 6th

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The sky opened and a portal along with it. Neza's broken and battered body plummeted to the earth, all seeming to happen in slow motion. Anger and sadness tore her heart up as she watched the portal close. Everything was gone, the stones, her chance to kill Yori, but what hurt the most was that she lost the chance to bring back Mei.

The dissent down was not kind, a metal bar sticking out from a ruined building smacked her head. Everything went black and then came the hard stinging pain of hitting the ground. Everything hurt, one arm was broken, and her vision was blurry both from tears and pain.

The sky darkened and rain started to pelt her broken body, it was cold and unforgiving. Were the gods laughing at her, insult to injury for what she had done to them? She had escaped, but so what nothing had changed? Nothing mattered anymore, Mei was dead, her home was gone, her friends were gone, and she had lost! Nothing mattered! Mei was dead! She wasn't coming back! It was her fault! Neza let out a huge scream into the night both from pain and emotion. Why! Why didn't anything change, she did everything she could! Nothing FUCKING changed! These thoughts raced through her strained mind as she screamed. She cried into the darkness for what felt like hours, before she was out of breath.

She laid there in the cold rain and just wanted it all to end... she wanted to be with Mei... with all her friends. She closed her eyes and waited for death to come, feeling it's icy grip start to take her.

"Papa! It's a lady!" a small voice called out. "She's hurt!" the was that of a little girl. Neza opened her eyes and tried to focus but her vision was to blurry.

"Sunny head back to the house and get a bed ready." now a man's voice spoke.

There was the sound of tiny foot steps hurrying through the rain, then Neza felt herself be picked up. "No just let me die..." she tried to speak but nothing came out. "Let me... see... Mei...." was the last thing she though before everything went black and she passed out.

 
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Neza was embraced by softness and warmth, though her head was throbbing. She tried to raise her arm to touch her forehead, but was met against the passive resistance of blankets and a comforter tucked in around her. As her body wriggled around, she realized that her tail was gone. She lay on her back as she opened her eyes to a white popcorn ceiling and a wooden ceiling fan. She could also see the light that passed through semi-open blinds. She closed her eyes again.

She mustered the energy to lift herself up slightly to push away the blankets and comforter to free her arms, though they found themselves back to resting on Neza's stomach. Every movement took too much effort with her limbs like dead weights. She felt fleshy as her entire backside ached. Defiantly, she rolled to her side, though ended up using the adjacent wall to keep her upright.

At the other wall, there was a simple fold up TV tray set with an empty soup bowl, a clear squeeze water bottle, and a wash cloth. At the sight of these things, she was more aware of her sweat and how hot it was under the sheets. She started to kick the sheets away so that the fresh air could touch her skin, though the clothes she had worn when she had fallen were still on.

She got up from the bed and stood up, taking off her socks. The bottoms of her feet felt the ticklish sensation of carpeted floor. It was all so quiet. She stripped off the rest of her clothes, casting them aside. Rummaging through the small dresser and closet, she put on some new clothes. She wore a full yellow sun dress with flowers on it that far draped to her ankles. Instead of detachable sleeves or stockings, her arms remained bare and she wore long white socks. She looked at herself in the mirror.

You look nice, for a change.


At the face of it, the thought seemed mean. She had enjoyed making bold statements with her fashion. Paxton had given her carte blanche for the luxury to wear what was in vogue, to shock or amaze. She always looked great, but great wasn't nice. She walked away not to think of it any longer, and slowly opened the door of the room.

The hallway was very narrow, having the same ceiling and carpeting as the room she just left. To her left appeared to be where the other bedrooms including the master bedroom were, a bathroom, and a bifold door closet. To her right, she could see a barely see counter through an opening and supposed it was the kitchen area. She crept up and leaned in to take a peek, and no one was there. She swiftly moved past the opening and saw the front door, with another opening to her left.

She heard the low volume of a television and her heart skipped a beat. Neza tried to think of why it mattered if she was spotted. Now she wondered why she had wanted to leave at all, to bolt for the front door and never look back. It was old and outdated programming, stupid and impulsive. Where the hell would she go?

Neza took a breath in and stepped into the family room. There was a couch and a large lazy-boy chair, but nobody was on them. Instead there was only a small girl on her stomach looking intently on the screen. The image of a child Yori flashed in her mind in the same position, distracting himself just like this. Neza's heart sank. The girl turned her head towards Neza suddenly, and looked at Neza for a brief moment before shuffling to the side, positioning a kneeling pillow to the open spot.

Neza knelt down on it, with her legs naturally shifting to one side as she watched the screen. It was a children's cartoon. Neza's mind started to empty. She tried not to think of Mei; one of the characters was so much like her, full of energy and mischeviousness. She tried only to watch and forget what hurt, though her frown wouldn't go away. The TV dulled her senses, though. She hadn't heard the footsteps on the basement stairs that led into the kitchen.

The man peered into the family room, he saw Neza still kneeling on the cushion. His heart went up to his throat. "I see you're awake. Honey, could you play in your room for a while?"
"What about my hug?"
"Of course!" said the man, with arms open. The girl raced to them and the man hoisted her in the air, hugging her tightly and kissing her on the forehead, saying 'I love you, Sunny.' before placing her down so she could run off to her room.

Neza felt ashamed. She should've tried looking for him better. A good father wouldn't leave his daughter alone at home. Where was the mother, anyway?

"How're you?" said the man weakly. The man was handsome and looked quite young, muscular with callouses and grease stains on his hands.
Neza downcast her eyes and stood up from the cushion. "I should go."
"Why?"
"I shouldn't have be alone with your daughter."
"I think it was kind of you to stay with her." he rebuked. "You didn't know where I was, and you didn't want to leave her alone."
"I've already put a toll on this family, trusting a stranger like this. What would the mother think?"
The man fell silent.

"So this? Oh fuck!" Neza said, touching her dress. "If I knew she was no longer ali-"
"She left." the man corrected. "She packed a suitcase and left."
"Oh." said Neza.
"I gave that dress to her as a gift, but she left it, so it's mine again to give. It suits you better."
"You don't mind?"
"Not in the slightest."

They stood around awkwardly.
"So what are your plans now?" said the man. "People at home must really miss you."
"I have nobody." said Neza. The man should've figured. It had been close to a week and the cops weren't patrolling around to search for her.
 
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Tone 6th

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"Well what about a job or a place to stay?" the man started to clean his hands with a rag.

"I um... I don't have anything either..." Neza grabbed her arm and looked away.

"Well thats no good, you're more then welcome to stay here until you get things back together." he offered a small smile.

Neza's heart fluttered a little bit, something she didn't really understand. "You'd really let a stranger into your house?" she laughed a little. "I could be dangerous."

"If you wanted to do something you would have by now, trust me we have plenty of thieves around here." he chuckled. "Whats your name do you remember that?" he asked.

The question echoed in her mind over and over. Neza the name given to her by Gin... it didn't fit anymore it carried to much pain. Ayako didn't feel right either, she wasn't that woman anymore. A name drifted, a name she wanted, and she smiled. "My name is Hanako, whats yours?"

"Reo, and that little ball of sunshine is Itsumi." he smiled.

Hanako's stomach growled and she jumped "Wh what was that? Why do I feel so.... empty?" she blushed.

"Are you hungry?" Reo looked at her with a kind of confused look.

Hunger? That thing humans felt when they didn't have enough nutrition in their bodies... or was it energy? Either way it was a gross habit that was- *Grrrrrr*. Her stomach roared out in protests, that's right she WAS human now. "Y yeah I think I am hungry... what do I do about it?" she had this look of complete confusion on her face.

"I make you dinner. Itsumi what do you want for dinner?" he called out. The little girl came out of her room "SWEET FISH!!!" She cheered.

"Sweet fish it is!" he hugged her. "Want to set the table for the three of us?" he asked and the little girl zoomed off. "Are you okay with Teriyaki Salmon?" Reo asked.

Was she okay with it, Hanako had never really eaten before. "Yes I would love to have some." she smiled
 
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