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I have decided to end Ninja Bodyguard with Part 13, because I have a serious case of writers block at the moment with continuing parts.

The original Part 13 will still be here, in case I decide to continue it in the future, for a longer ending.

_________

David searched for the right words.  “He’s . . . he’s an amazing bodyguard.”  Atticus nodded in his approval.  David managed not to mention Michio, or the fact that Kaito was a ninja.

“Well, that’s excellent, David.”  His father turned back to Kaito.  “Since you’ve done such a god job, Kaito, we’d like to hire you.  You would live here, with us, and get a suitable amount of money each month.  How does that sound?”

For a moment Kaito didn’t say anything.  “I . . . I am honored, Mr. Banner.” he said.  “But I can’t.  The plane back to Japan leaves in an hour, and I have to get there in time.  As much as I’d like to, I can’t accept your offer.”  He bowed deeply.

“And, um, Dad?”  Mr. Banner turned to his son.  “I don’t think I’ll need a bodyguard anymore.” he said.  “Kaito taught me courage while he was helping me, so . . . I think I can fend for myself.”

Mr. Banner was stunned.  “Well, that’s a surprise, but it’s good to hear, David.”  He and his wife walked to the car to get their suitcases, with Atticus close behind them.

“Well, I better go.” Kaito said, starting to walk towards the door.

“Kaito, wait!”  He stopped and turned back to David.  “I, um. . .”  David searched for a way to put his thoughts into words, and after a few seconds, he found the perfect ones.  “Thanks for helping me.  If it wasn’t for you, I’d be scared of going back to school, but I’m sure I can make it on my own.”

Kaito smiled and put his hands behind his head.  “I guess it’s Michio you really have to thank,” he said.  “If he hadn’t forced me to leave Japan, I wouldn’t have been here in the first place.”

“Good point.”  David turned around to see Ritsuki standing behind him, leaning against the stair banister.  “Don’t forget, Kaito, we’re racing to the airport.  And your grandfather agreed to meet us there; he just called a few minutes ago.”

“That’s great!” Kaito pointed challengingly at his friend.  “You’re on!”  He turned to David.  “Hey, if you ever need a bodyguard or someone to talk too, just ask.”

“Okay.”  The moment Katio was gone, David noticed a paper with an e-mail address on his lap.  Picking it up, he looked at where Katio had been standing.  “See you later, ninja bodyguard.”

__________

“Okay, you guys ready?”  Hayato asked.  He had a huge grin on his face.

Kaito gave him a thumbs-up.  They were in two teams; Hayato and Ritsuki were in one, and Kaito and Takami in the other

They stood on the bridge, on the metal railing that keeps cars from falling off, over the highway.  Kaito and Takami balanced on the rail, looking down with a smile.  Below them was the highway, with streetlights on either side about twenty-or-so feet away from each other.

They were going to jump.

“Look at us.  Five teens standing on the edge of the bridge ready to jump.  Someone must’ve called the cops by now.”  Hayato chuckled.

“Some people are looking as they pass, and three people have pulled over and already called the police.”  Takami said without turning around.

“Great.”  Ritsuki rubbed his hands together with mock evil.  “The more the merrier, as they say . . . muha ha ha ha . . .”

They all laughed, and Kaito turned to Takami.  “Let’s do this!”

Hayato laughed.  “You think you’re ready for this?” he asked with a smile

“No time to think; the cops are here.”  Takami said.

“What are you kids doing?  Get down from there,” the first cop who got out of the car demanded.

“He must have a lot of naughty kids.” Hayato muttered.

“It’s not like we’re doing anything illegal, officer.  Besides, there’s nothing to worry about.  We’re all going to survive.  But fine.”  Ritsuki put his hands above his head, the signal to get ready.  All of them turned around.

“Good.  Now please, come down from that ledge.”

“Scratch the kids; he must have a lot of cats.” Hayato said loud enough for the man to hear.  They all laughed.

“Well, it’s been fun, sir, but we have to go.”  Ritsuki winked at the policeman and started to fall backwards, as did the rest of them.  “See ya.”

“Hey, wait!  What are you kids-” But they were already out of earshot, and the road was coming up fast.  Kaito grinned as the shocked cop looked at them from the ledge, his mouth wide opened.

Ritsuki smiled “It’s on, Kaito and Takami!  We’re going to beat you bad.”

“We’ll see about that.” Takami said with a mysterious grin.  “You ready, Kaito?  Better not let David down, or we’ll have a pretty big mess to go through with that cop.”

“Let’s go!”  Kaito grinned and tightened his grip on the wheelchair.  The highway was coming up fast.  A second before he hit, Kaito spun and landed on his feet, and jumped up before a car hit him.

Even as he raced with his friends, David was still dominant in his mind.  He smiled as he raced through the American highway.  I hope he sends me an e-mail soon.

Four ninjas raced off into the night, getting head turns and confused glances, but none of them cared.

They were on their way home.

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Yay!  Part 13 came to me in one big burst today.  School’s closed today, by the way.

It’s a little late, but: Happy MLK Jr. Day!

__________

David searched for the right words.  “He’s . . . he’s an amazing bodyguard.”  Atticus nodded in his approval.  David managed not to mention Michio, or the fact that Kaito was a ninja.

“Well, that’s excellent, David.”  His father turned back to Kaito.  “Since you’ve done such a god job, Kaito, we’d like to hire you.  You would live here, with us, and get a suitable amount of money each month.  How does that sound?”

For a moment Kaito didn’t say anything.  “I . . . I am honored, Mr. Banner.” he said.  “But I can’t.  The plane back to Japan leaves in an hour, and I have to get there in time.  As much as I’d like to, I can’t accept your offer.”  He bowed deeply.

“And, um, Dad?”  Mr. Banner turned to his son.  “I don’t think I’ll need a bodyguard anymore.” he said.  “Kaito taught me courage while he was helping me, so . . . I think I can fend for myself.”

Mr. Banner was stunned.  “Well, that’s a surprise, but it’s good to hear, David.”  He and his wife walked to the car to get their suitcases, with Atticus close behind them.

“Well, I better go.” Kaito said, starting to walk towards the door.

“Kaito, wait!”  He stopped and turned back to David.  “I, um. . .”  David searched for a way to put his thoughts into words, and after a few seconds, he found the perfect ones.  “Thanks for helping me.  If it wasn’t for you, I’d be scared of going back to school, but I’m sure I can make it on my own.”

Kaito smiled and put his hands behind his head.  “I guess it’s Michio you really have to thank,” he said.  “If he hadn’t forced me to leave Japan, I wouldn’t have been here in the first place.”

“Good point.”  David turned around to see Ritsuki standing behind him, leaning against the stair banister.  “Don’t forget, Kaito, we’re racing to the airport.  And your grandfather agreed to meet us there; he just called a few minutes ago.”

“That’s great!” Kaito pointed challengingly at his friend.  “You’re on!”

“If it’s okay with my dad, can I go with you to the airport?” David asked hesitantly.

“Sure.”  Ritsuki grinned.  “It’s going to be the time of your life.  I guarantee it.”

__________

“Okay, you guys ready?”  Hayato asked.  He had a huge grin on his face.

Kaito gave him a thumbs-up.  They were in two teams: Hayato and Ritsuki were in one, and Kaito, Takami, and David were in one.  Ritsuki didn’t mind David in the opposing team; he said Kaito and Takami would be doing the work anyways.

They stood on the bridge, on the metal railing that keeps cars from falling off, over the highway.  Kaito was balancing David on the rail, but every second David thought the wheelchair would get to heavy and fall.  Below them was the highway, with streetlights on either side about twenty-or-so feet away from each other.

They were going to jump.

According to Kaito, they would survive; apparently they did this all the time in Japan.  I hope I don’t weigh Kaito down with my chair. David swallowed hard.  Ritsuki was right; this would be the time of his life.  If he could survive, that is.

“Look at us.  Five teens standing on the edge of the bridge ready to jump.  Someone must’ve called the cops by now.”  Hayato chuckled.

“Some people are looking as they pass, and three people have pulled over and already called the police.”  Takami said without turning around.

“Great.”  Ritsuki rubbed his hands together with mock evil.  “The more the merrier, as they say . . . muha ha ha ha . . .”

They all laughed, and Kaito turned to David.  “You ready for this?”

“I think so.” David answered, trying to hide the nervousness in his voice.

“No time to think; the cops are here.”  Takami said.  David turned around to see she was right.

“What are you kids doing?  Get down from there,” the first cop who got out of the car demanded.

“He must have a lot of naughty kids.” Hayato muttered.

“It’s not like we’re doing anything illegal, officer.  Besides, there’s nothing to worry about.  We’re all going to survive.  But fine.”  Ritsuki put his hands above his head, the signal to get ready.  All of them turned around.

“Good.  Now please, come down from that ledge.”

“Scratch the kids; he must have a lot of cats.” Hayato said loud enough for the man to hear.  They all laughed.

“Well, it’s been fun, sir, but we have to go.”  Ritsuki winked at the policeman and started to fall backwards, as did the rest of them.  “See ya.”

“Hey, wait!  What are you kids-” But they were already out of earshot, and the road was coming up fast.  Kaito grinned as the shocked cop looked at them from the ledge, his mouth wide opened.

“Ritsuki was right.  The more the merrier.” Kaito said.

“But,” Ritsuki said, “all jokes, aside, it’s on, Kaito and Takami!  We’re going to beat you bad.”

“We’ll see about that.” Takami said with a mysterious grin.  “You ready, Kaito?  Better not let David down, or we’ll have a pretty big mess to go through with that cop.”

(Note:  this is not the end of this story.  The author has a bad case of writer block at the moment and will finish as soon as possible)

Yay, Part 12 is here!  Sorry for the wait, guys. 

Part 13 will most likely be the last part; if not, then Part 14.  But for now, here’s 12.

(It’s even shorter . . . it seems that with every part I add, the next part is shorter and shorter . . .)

___________

That night was the longest one of Michio’s life. 

No matter how much he struggled, the caltrops held strong, and when he tried to use his teeth to get a weapon, the caltrop that pinned down the back of his shirt stopped him. 

With every rustle, he turned, hoping it was Kaito, but it was always just an animal, or the wind, or a loose branch.  His blood dried on his hands, arms, and legs and it stained the branch. The pain in his foot was still strong after a few hours.

“Kaito!” he shouted angrily at around midnight.  But there was no answer, because no one was there.  He hung his head in bitter defeat and tried to sleep.

The next thing Michio knew, the sun shone through the leaves of the tree, and he tried to shield his eyes from the light, but his hand held tight.  That was when he remembered, and Michio sighed.  His foot was numb; either Kaito had stabbed a nerve or his foot was asleep.  Sleep- that’s what I need.  He was about to close his eyes when he saw someone below him.  Kaito?

“Oh; it’s just you.”  David Banner was staring at him, looking shocked.  “Get lost; this is bad enough without you looking at me like a vulture.” Michio hissed.

“Did . . . did Kaito do that to you?” he asked.  Michio heard the fear he had tried to hide in his voice, and smirked.

“Isn’t it obvious?” he asked.  “That’s right; your good friend Kaito did this to me.  Being a ninja isn’t all fun and games, you know, and he’s better than I thought.”  Michio sighed.  “And now, I’ll be dishonored anyway.”

“Why?” David asked, confused.

“Why do you think my father sent me, and not one of my brothers?” Michio hissed.  “I’ve already brought shame to my family, and this was my chance to redeem myself.  But I’m stuck in a tree, defeated, and when I return home I’ll be disowned for sure.”

David was silent, and after a few minutes he wheeled away.  I don’t blame him. Michio thought.  He closed his eyes and tried to sleep.

“Michio.”  The next thing he knew, Kaito was in front of him.  “Well?  Do we have a deal of not?”   He noticed his katana reflecting the sun’s light, and it looked like Kaito had sharpened it.

“Fine.” he practically whispered.

“What?  I didn’t hear you, Michio.”

“I said fine!” he screamed in defeat and pain.  “Alright.  My family won’t harm you again.  Now let me down!”

Kaito removed the caltrops on his cousin’s hands, and the one on the back of his neck, and Michio took the one out of his foot.  He didn’t scream, even though the whole process hurt terribly. “Get out of here, Michio.” he said.  “Get out of here, and don’t come back.”

Michio stared at him for a long moment, with hatred and rage in his eyes.  But finally, he jumped down from the tree and walked out of the forest, not to be seen again.

Kaito heard cheers and turned to see Hayato, Ritsuki, and Takami standing on the ground behind him.  “Nice job.” Takami said with a smile.

“Thanks.”  Kaito jumped down from the tree and almost stumbled into Ritsuki. 

“I guess you need to get some sleep.” Hayato teased him.  “I don’t really blame you; trying to defeat your cousin is hard work.  Anyway, we’ll sub in for guarding David today, and you get some sleep, okay?”

Kaito nodded, happy and relieved, and in a few minutes he had collapsed in bed, sleeping soundly.            

___________

“Kaito?  Kaito!” 

“Huh?  Wha?”  Kaito opened his eyes to see Hayato standing above him.

“I just heard from David that his parents are coming home early!  Come on; you need to be downstairs before they arrive!”

“What?!”  Kaito was wide awake now, and he jumped out of bed. 

Hayato chuckled.  “You even slept with your jacket on?  Man, Kaito, sometimes I really don’t get you.”  Hayato snickered as Kaito went to the bathroom to brush his teeth.

About ten minutes later, the Banners, Atticus, and Kaito were standing near the front door.  Mr. Banner had launched a thirty-minute oration about their trip, and Kaito was anxious for it to end. 

“But enough of that.” Mr. Banner said finally.  “How were things with Kaito, David?  How do you think he did?”

Yay- Part 11 is here!  Sorry about the wait, guys.

I got a school change (or transfer, however you want to say it), and now I’m taking Chinese.  I olny knew ‘hello’, ‘thank you’, and ‘you’re welcome’ in Chinese before that, and now I can add one more to that list: ‘how are you’ in Chinese (yay!).

It’s not easy catching up a whole marking period of words and characters, but I’m coming along.  It’s a good thing I have a lot of study halls. 😉

Well, here’s Ninja Bodyguard Part 11 (hallelujah!); it’s a Japanese piece in the mist of all this Chinese talk . . . well, enjoy!

(Another short part again . . . oh well)

__________

He took a step forward, and something went right through his shoe; like a loose nail.  “Arrgh!” he screamed; the thing on the ground had gone past the sole of his sneaker, and it was about an inch into his foot.  Kaito had a grim look on his face, and before Michio could move, he jumped on the branch above Michio.

“I didn’t want to do this, cousin, but you leave me no choice.”  Kaito took caltrop from the leather pouch on his belt and used the point that was sticking up to pin Michio by the back of his shirt.  Then he pinned down his shirt sleeves, his jacket, his pants; he made the point of scarring Michio before he pinned him down.  Michio had worn a thick fabric so weapons wouldn’t hurt him as easily, but now that was working against him.

After that, just when Michio thought it was over, Kaito dug the caltrops into his hands, in the skin between his finger and thumb, to make sure he couldn’t get any weapons.  Blood trickled onto the tree bark.

Michio looked at the shuriken in his foot and gritted his teeth.  He just pretended to get angry and lose his cool so I would step right into this trap. Michio struggled, but the caltrops held fast.  Where did he get these? Caltrops usually break after a few seconds; they’re mainly used for slowing an opponent down. “This fight isn’t over, Kaito!” he screamed as his cousin jumped on the branch he was standing on.

“Oh, really?”  Kaito reached into his jacket and pulled out another katana.  Michio’s eyes widened with shock, and he struggled to break free as Kaito walked toward him.  “This fight is over,” Kaito agreed, putting the katana to his exposed neck,  “for you.”  Michio looked like he was about to scream.  This was a Kaito he had never seen before; one that he couldn’t defeat.

To his surprise, Kaito lowered the katana and put it back in his jacket.  “You’re not going to kill me?” Michio asked; surprised and relieved at the same time.

“No.” he said.  “You’re going to stay right there.  For your sake, Michio, I hope you understand what I’m doing.   We’re still connected by blood, and it would be wrong to kill one of my own bloodline.  And,” he said, “since I won, I think it would be foolish of you to fight me again.”

Michio was again surprised my Kaito’s humbleness.  “Unless you want to hang there forever,” he continued, ‘you have to promise me not to harm anybody who knows me, and that includes David.  And one more thing: if I ever have a child, I don’t want you to chase after them.  I don’t want a war between our two families.”  He turned to Michio.  “Do you understand what I’m staying?”

Michio was silent.  In other words, I can’t touch him and his family.  Either that or I die up here.  He looked at Kaito.  I don’t know exactly how, Kaito, but you’re becoming my superior.  You’re the one who had the skills to win this battle, and I have to acknowledge that.  He remembered what Kaito had said a moment ago: since I won, I think it would be foolish of you to fight me again.      

But if I do say yes, I’m bound by my word.  One of my brothers can kill him if I die here, so I shouldn’t give in to his demands.  He opened his mouth to answer Kaito, but his cousin help up a hand to silence him.

“Don’t answer me now, Michio.  I’ll be back tomorrow afternoon; tell me your answer then.”  With that, Kaito, with his hair soaking wet and the leather pouch hanging against his side, he walked away.

Finally, Ninja Bodyguard Part 10!  It’s been . . . hmm, it’s been so long I don’t know . . . let me check.

It’s been (clears throat) 3 weeks and a day since Ninja Bodyguard Part 9 (or 22 days; I posted it on September 30), and 20 days since the Flying Lawn Mower (I posted that on October 2.  I hope I added the days right; please let me know if I didn’t!).  But, after typing during school study halls, after school, and on weekends, here it is!

Forgive me; it’s so much shorter than the other ones.  I’ll try to get Part 11 on as quick as possible, but for now, enjoy part 10!

__________

In the blink of an eye, Michio took out a long metal chain and blocked Kaito’s attack with it.  “Heh.”  Michio smirked.  “You didn’t expect I had a manriki, did you?”  Kaito gritted his teeth.

“I didn’t expect for this to be easy, either.” he said, backing away from Michio.   His cousin smiled and put the manriki away, and he replaced it with his ninjatos.

“Enough fooling around.  It’s time for the real battle.”  Michio smirked and charged at Kaito.  He blocked one of the swords with his katana, and barely dodged the other one. “You know what I consider you as, Kaito?” Michio asked as he came in for another blow.  “To me and my brothers, you’re just a ninja wannabe.  Sorry, but because of your good-for-nothing father, you’re not one of us anymore.”  Kaito blocked Michio’s attack again, but this time, instead of moving back, Michio jumped over him and landed on a tree branch behind him.

“So, how about we take this to the top?”  Thunder rumbled in the distance, and Michio smiled.  “This might turn out better than I thought; maybe I won’t even have to kill you.  That thunder might just do that for me.”

Kaito jumped on a branch next to Michio and swung his sword.  Michio dodged, and Kaito moved his blade before it slammed into the tree.  “You’ve gotten lazy, Kaito.  Did the people at little Dave’s house pamper you?” Michio asked with a smile.  Kaito clenched his teeth and threw a shuriken, but his cousin caught it.  “That proved my point.  Thanks for the shuriken, Kaito.”

“You’re not welcome.”  Kaito swung his katana, but Michio dodged again.

“This is getting repetitive.”  Michio took out his manriki again.  “How about I finish this?”  When Kaito swung for the third time, Michio wrapped the metal chain around his weapon and snatched it.  “Heh.  You’re awfully clumsy today, not to mention weaponless.”  Michio threw the katana, along with the chain it was trapped in, upward, and it landed among the highest branches in the tree.

Before Kaito could react, Michio was in front of him, and both of his cousin’s ninjatos were on his throat.  “Sorry, but looks like this is checkmate.”  Michio smirked.  “My father would be pleased.”

 

Kaito opened his bedroom window, and a warm breeze flowed into the room.  He looked at the clock on his desk; it was nine fifty-five. If Michio’s serious about this, then a shuriken should be coming about-

Something suddenly spun towards the window and dug into the sill.  –now.  It was the custom for the challenger to send a shuriken as a sign that he or she was ready.  Kaito took the shuriken of the windowsill, picked up his jacket from off his bed and jumped out of the window.  Takami’s pouch was tied around his waist.

Soon, he reached the clearing, the one where Michio had taken David, and saw that his cousin was waiting.  He threw Michio the shuriken, which he caught between his fingers.  “I’m going to make my father proud tonight.” Michio said; taking his two ninjatos out of his sleeves.  He pointed one of the small swords at Kaito.  “I hope you’re ready.”

“Michio, don’t you realize that it doesn’t have to be like this?” Kaito asked.

“You’re trying to back out now?  Then this will be easier than I thought.”  Michio charged at him.

Kaito took out his katana so fast his hand was a blur, and he blocked Michio’s attack.  “Better think again.” he said; pushing Michio away.  Michio gritted his teeth; then he smiled.

“Don’t worry; I’m going to make this as hard as possible for you.” he said; reaching up his sleeve and pulling something out.  A kaginawa! Kaito was surprised.  Michio smiled and swung the grappling hook at him.

Kaito jumped and landed on the side of a tree nearby.  “This is going to be fun.” Michio said with a smirk; putting his swords back.  “How about we do that again?”  Kaito put his hands in his pockets, and Michio swung the grappling hook.

Kaito took his hands out of his pockets; revealing tekagi-shukos on each of his hands.  They were like metal six-inch claws.  “What good will those do you?” Michio asked triumphantly.  The kaginawa was almost at Kaito’s head.

“Never underestimate a person’s weapon, no matter how small it might be.”  Kaito blocked the grappling hook with his now-extended fingers, but when Michio tried to pull it back, it was stuck between two of the claws.  Kaito took one of the tekagi-shuko off and threw at a tree far away from him.  It dug deep into the bark, and Michio stumbled.  While he was off balance, Kaito jerked the grappling hook out of his cousin’s hands.  “Ready to give up?” he asked.

“Not a chance.” Michio sneered.  The rope had burned his hand, and there was a long red mark on his palm.

“Then you better prepare for a hard time while you’re here.”  Kaito took out his katana and charged; swinging at Michio’s chest.

For a while nobody spoke.  Then Kaito heard somebody clapping and turned around.  “Bravo; bravo, Kaito.”  Michio was leaning against a tree, and he started walking towards them.

“You again?”  Kaito gritted his teeth and took the sword from his jacket; pointing it at Michio.

“Yep; it’s me, you’re good old cousin.”  Michio smirked.  “And from what I just heard, you just told David over there about the relationship between you and I.  I thought you said last night that this doesn’t concern him.”

“He has the right to know what’s going on.” Kaito said.

“Ah; I see.”  Michio smiled.  “So, are all your pawns in place now, Kaito?  Because we’re going to have a rematch.”

“David is not a pawn; nobody is a pawn to me.  Hayato, Ritsuki, and David are my friends, and I am David’s bodyguard.  I won’t let any harm come to him.”

For a moment Michio was silent.  Then a smile appeared on his face; then he started laughing.  “What’s so funny?” Kaito asked.

“What was first a way to throw me off for a while, is now a devotion.  Admit it, Kaito; the reason you took the job was to just keep me guessing for a few days.  But now you’re actually going to guard him; even after I’ve found you?”  Michio looked at David.  “That weakling can’t even walk, but you still devote to his safety even though I’m on to you.”

Kaito didn’t speak.  “I’m right, aren’t I?  The reason you even stepped foot in the Banner household was to throw me off for a while.”  Michio smirked.

“It’s true; the only reason I took the job was to get some time.” Kaito said.  “And my original plan was to leave as soon as you found me.  But I’ve realized- a true bodyguard stays with the person he has to protect.  And not only is David the person I need to keep from harm; he’s also my friend.”

“Your friend?” Michio scoffed.  “He can’t walk; he’s probably just getting in your way.”

“Once, David walked, just like my father was once part of the clan of ninjas.” Kaito said.  “But because of their ‘accidents’, each of them different, people now treat David like he’s nothing.  And because my father did not choose to marry someone in the clan, my uncle killed him.  People treat David like he has bad blood, and that’s the same way you treat me.”

“I treat you that way because it’s true.” Michio reached up his sleeve and took his two short swords out.

“Not now, Michio.”  Kaito put his sword back in his jacket.  “I have an unfair advantage against you; Hayato and Ritsuki both have weapons, and Takami is probably hiding somewhere.  If you charge at me now, you’d be hit by more than one weapon. Tonight, we’ll fight.”

For a moment Michio was silent.  “Fine.”  He put his swords back. “Tonight, at ten.”  Kaito nodded, and Michio walked away.

“What’d you do that for, Kaito?” Hayato asked; confused.

“A true ninja fights with honor, and doesn’t cheat during a battle.” he answered.

“Hey Kaito, guess what?  You were right.”  They all turned around to see a girl with black hair put in a ponytail, wearing a black shirt and jeans.  “I saw the whole thing.”

“I’m glad to hear that, Takami.” Kaito said.  “And I also glad to see that gang’s all here.”  He smiled and cracked his knuckles.  “I need to prepare for tonight, but I’ll see you guys later.”

Hayato and Ritsuki nodded, and they walked away.  Takami took something out of her pocket and tossed it to Kaito.  “Take this.” she said.  “You’ll probably need it.”

In Kaito’s hands was a leather pouch; tied with brown string.  He opened it to see about a dozen metal stars; each one had a point that was facing up.  “Caltrops?” he said; surprised.  “But how did-”  He looked up to see Takami was gone.


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