Syaoran unconsciously pulled on his tiny braid, they were getting close. He hadn’t seen her in five years. Had she grown? How had she grown? Did she have that same haircut that accented her face just perfectly? Did her eyes still sparkle like emeralds? He gulped. Was her brother with her too? Though, now being older and a better trained Jedi, Syaoran could probably take him on. But Touya always gave Syaoran the same look whenever he saw him, which basically read “leave my sister alone!”
“You act any more nervous, and I might just call the whole thing off,” blurted Syaoran’s companion. Syaoran let out a yelp before chuckling nervously.
“Sorry, Master Kurogane, it’s just . . . it’s been so long since we’ve since Princess Sakura.”
Kurogane chuckled as he ruffled Syaoran’s hair. “I know. It’ll be great to see some familiar faces in this city.”
Syaoran smiled. “That it will.” He paused as the elevator doors opened and a familiar face stood there, as if waiting. Kurogane grumbled though, as Syaoran smiled warmly.
“Ah-ha, if it isn’t Kuro-pooh and Syaoran! It’s so good to see you both!” exclaimed Fai.
“Stop calling me Kuro-pooh!” shouted Kurogane. Syaoran bit his tongue to keep from laughing, Kurogane really hated the nickname. But Fai D. Fluorite, the senator of Celes, just kept on calling him that, as from what Syaoran could gather, just to annoy him.
“Syaoran! Kurogane!’ called out a little fluff ball before landing in Syaoran’s arms.
“Mokona! It’s good to see you!” stated Syaoran as he hugged him.
“It’s great to see you too! It’s been too long!’ exclaimed Mokona as he hugged Syaoran back.
“That it has,” replied Syaoran. “Where’s Kero?”
“Sleeping, as always, the lazy bones,” replied Mokona with a snicker.
“As great as this reunion is,” began Kurogane, though he shot Fai a glare, who only smiled and waved back. “We’re here to work.”
“I’m so glad you’re here,” blurted an armored female as she walked into the main room.
“Hikaru! It’s good to see you too! What are you doing here?” asked Syaoran as he gave her a quick hug.
Hikaru shrugged. “Touya asked for someone to be here until you two got here, so, Princess Emereaude asked me to come keep an eye on Princess Sakura. And now that you’re here, I guess I shall transfer my duties to you,” she said as she shook their hands.
“And we accept the transfer,” replied Kurogane as he shook hands.
“Thank you, She should be out in a moment. She’s in a meeting with Touya and Yukito,” stated Hikaru, giving a quick, knowing glance at Syaoran. Syaoran winced, so Touya was here after all. And why shouldn’t he be? If what Syaoran heard was true, then Touya’s brotherly concerns for his little sister would be on full-blown. But, sometimes, Syaoran couldn’t help but wonder if those concerns included him.
He whispered, “Thanks for the warning.”
Hikaru winked. “No problem, big brother.”
“Syaoran!” There she was, the Princess Sakura, as lovely as ever. Syaoran only got a short look at her before she had tackled him to the ground in a bear hug.
“P-princess!” blurted Syaoran in surprise. “This, this isn’t exactly proper!”
“For once, I agree with the brat,” blurted another voice with annoyance. Syaoran glanced up and grinned sheepishly, there was Touya, giving him that same look. Yukito was behind him, grinning just as sheepishly as Syaoran as he waved.
“Oh, come on Touya, give her a break, will you? It’s not like she has many friends, and the few she does have she doesn’t get to see very often,” remarked Yukito while Sakura and Syaoran rose from the floor.
“I would, if it wasn’t that brat,” muttered Touya, eyeing both Syaoran and Kurogane. Kurogane glared back at him with his arms crossed.
“Touya! Be nice! The Jedi Council sent them because you asked for the best!” berated his sister as she got in his face.
“I didn’t think they meant these two,” muttered Touya.
“Well, if you’d rather another Jedi Master and apprentice,” began Kurogane as he turned to leave.
“No, no, if the Jedi council deems you to be the best, then I’ll just have to deal with it. I only want what’s best for my little sister, that’s all,” Touya replied before giving Sakura a gentle hug. “Though, maybe it would be best if Hikaru stayed with us.”
Hikaru blinked. “Why’s that?”
“I need the Jedi to also figure out who’s trying to kill Sakura,” retorted Touya as he crossed his arms.
“Oh, so, you basically just need me here to be as back-up security?” asked Hikaru.
Touya nodded. “Basically.”
Hikaru sighed. “Alright, guess I’m staying then.”
“Good, thank you.”
“Now that that’s all taken care of, let’s get down to business. Give us everything you’ve got,” stated Kurogane as he sat down on a sofa. The others followed suit and sat down on the sofa and various chairs. Syaoran sat next to Kurogane, and Sakura plopped herself next to Syaoran. Touya seemed to stiffen a bit, but since they were technically now her security, he let it pass. For now, anyway.
“You mean besides the blatantly obvious fact that someone is trying to kill Princess Sakura?” asked Yukito as he stood by Touya.
Kurogane rolled his eyes. “Yes, besides that.” Touya rolled his eyes in return.
Yukito cleared his throat. “Well, um, that’s basically it.”
Kurogane’s eye twitched. “Seriously?”
“We had an anonymous tip that said someone was going to attempt killing Sakura upon our arrival, so we took . . . precautions.”
Sakura glowered at him. “You mean instead of actually taking precautions, you let Hinana die?”
“Sakura, we already had this discussion. She knew what she was getting into. It was her job so that you can continue doing yours.” Sakura merely crossed her arms and grumbled at Touya’s statement, but didn’t say another word. Syaoran took a little peek at her, despite the fact that his right eye was useless. Even though he couldn’t quite see her out of the corner of his eye, the Force painted a mental picture for him. That caring heart was still there, it was just her sense of justice had grown since they last saw each other. Kurogane’s voice broke into his thoughts of Sakura, and Syaoran turned his mind towards the mystery at hand.
“So, you’re basically telling me we’re starting from scratch?” asked Kurogane with a sigh as he rubbed his temples.
“Oh my, this looks worse than I thought,” remarked Fai, a smile still lighting his face.
“Why are you still smiling?” blurted Touya with annoyance. “This is serious.”
“Don’t bother, he’s always smiling,” muttered Kurogane. “It’s supposedly to help ‘lighten the mood’,” he continued, using air quotation marks.
“Well, besides the loss of a fine decoy, Princess Sakura is still as fit as a feather,” remarked Fai.
“See what I mean?” quipped Kurogane.
“Well, I guess you can say there is something to go off of,” remarked Syaoran. Everyone glanced at him questioningly. “We know that there’s someone on the inside who’s trying to help. If we can find that person, maybe we can have the opening we need.”
Kurogane smiled fondly as he ruffled Syaoran’s hair. “That’s right kid. Glad to know that brain of yours is working just fine.”
“Because yours isn’t?” quipped Fai.
“Oh, shut-up, you stupid senator!” blurted Kurogane.
“And I take that as my cue to leave. Good chatting with all of you, but I have an appointment I must keep, and I don’t want to be late. Good night!” stated Fai cheerily as he practically waltzed out the door.
Kurogane grunted before turning to Touya. “Why was he here to begin with?”
Touya let out a huff, he didn’t seem too thrilled with Kurogane’s treatment of Fai. “Because at this moment, he’s the only senator we can trust.”
“And how did you figure that out?” asked Kurogane bitterly.
“Because neither he nor Celes has any reason to take out Sakura. We’ve been allies with them for a long time,” replied Touya.
“Good point. Now, let me ask this. Why is the Princess here and not back at Clow?” asked Kurogane. “You’re the senator.”
Touya sighed as he glanced at Sakura, who only glanced down. “We found out that Sakura can’t make a full claim to the throne until she has found, well, everything Clow Reed left for her.”
“Say what?” asked Syaoran.
“Didn’t Clow Reed choose her specifically?” asked Kurogane.
Touya nodded. “He did, but he died while giving out his last instruction to Sakura. Not too long after that we were plunged into the war, most of which you already know, and couldn’t give much thought to it. Within the past year, since our quadrant finally made peace, Sakura has turned to learning more about Clow Reed. That’s when she found the will and learned of this treasure hunt that she has to go on to fully claim the throne, before her sixteenth birthday.”
Syaoran gasped as he glanced at Sakura worriedly. “But that’s, that’s only two months away!”
Sakura nodded. “We know, we’re hoping this is the last of it, though. There are several pieces to be found that are supposed to help me with ruling Clow, many of them were on Clow. The next clue lead us here, and I have to be the one to find them all,” stated Sakura.
“So, could it be a rival for the throne?” asked Kurogane.
“We think so, but the only one that comes to mind is Fei Wong Reed, and he has not been found,” remarked Touya.
“And you’re hoping that if we follow any clues, we might find him,” stated Syaoran.
Touya nodded. “And take him out, if need be.” Kurogane started to say something, but paused when Touya held up his hand. “I know, I know, it’s not the Jedi way. You may proceed to arrest him, but if he attempts to resist arrest, please, take him out. Even if Sakura finds all of the items for the treasure hunt, that won’t mean he’ll stop trying to kill her.” He then glanced at Syaoran with determined yet pleading eyes. “And I know you want to keep her safe, just as much as I do. Hence why you’re here.” Syaoran could only nod at the statement, if Kurogane decided to follow the Jedi’s rules right then and there with Fei Wong Reed, then Syaoran would deal the deadly blow himself to protect Sakura.
“Very well, we’ll do our best to follow the clues. But if Fei Wong Reed is anything from what I’ve gathered, it won’t be easy,” replied Kurogane.
Touya sighed. “I know, do the best you can. But Sakura’s safety must come first.”
Kurogane and Syaoran nodded firmly, though Kurogane spoke. “Agreed.”
“And now that that’s all settled, it’s time for bed,” remarked Touya as he rose from his chair.
“What? It’s not even nine o’clock!” exclaimed Sakura.
“You have nothing else to do, might as well get to bed early to get an early start,” stated Touya with a shrug. “Besides, I’m going to bed too.”
“We’ll take turns keeping watch,” stated Kurogane, nodding Hikaru’s direction. She nodded back. “Syaoran and I will take the first shift, from now until midnight.”
“Sounds good,” replied Hikaru. Sakura turned to Syaoran with pouty lips and puppy dog eyes.
Syaoran chuckled nervously as he put up his hands. “I’m, I’m sorry, Princess, I’m just your personal guard, and personal detective.”
Sakura let out a huff, but smiled at him anyway. “I’m sorry, you’re right. And, I guess I am a little tired.” She rose from the sofa, followed quickly by Syaoran.
“Well, it sounds like you had quite the busy day,” replied Syaoran as he walked her to her room. “And, I’m sorry to hear about Hinana.”
Sakura shot him a sad smile. “Thank you, Syaoran. Well, um, good night.”
“Good night, Princess,” replied Syaoran with a reassuring smile. Sakura smiled back before she closed the door. Syaoran let out a huff before turning around, and pausing. His eyes widened with shock. Kurogane, Yukito, and Touya had been watching the whole thing, Touya none the happier about it. Syaoran’s face turned a beet red as he walked meekly back to Kurogane, keeping his eyes on the ground.
“I thought Jedi weren’t supposed to fall in love,” quipped Touya.
“Yes, but he can leave the Jedi order, if he so chooses,” Kurogane snapped cooly back.
“I see,” replied Touya. “Good night, gentlemen.” He and Yukito walked down a hall to their rooms. Kurogane waited until he heard the definite sound of doors closing before turning to Syaoran.
“But he does have a point, kid,” he began.
Syaoran let out a sigh. “I know, I’m sorry Master . . . huh?” Kurogane had begun ruffling his hair again.
“Listen, kid, what I said was true, you do have the option to leave. And if that’s what you choose, then I’m behind you, all the way. I’ll just miss you, that’s all,” Kurogane muttered the last bit.
Syaoran smiled. “Thank you, Master.” He took Kurogane by surprise with a hug, but Kurogane hugged back. The next moment, they were on mission, Kurogane stood in front of the window, looking out at the city below. Meanwhile, Syaoran took to pacing in front of Sakura’s bedroom door, using the Force to engrave the layout of the bedroom in case anything should appear out of the ordinary. He paused as his mind focused in on Sakura. Mokona, whom Syaoran didn’t see return to the room, was on Sakura’s right while Kero was snoring away on her left. Sakura was breathing steadily, already sound asleep. A soft smile played on Syaoran’s lips, she was so cute. Syaoran quickly snapped back to the mission and began pacing again. After pacing in front of the door twice, Syaoran paused. Something was wrong.
“I sense it too,” came Kurogane’s voice before Syaoran burst into the room, lightsaber igniting as he rushed in. He only took a moment to take in the situation before acting. Two things were squirming across the ground towards Sakura’s bed. Syaoran didn’t pause to wonder what they were, with a swing of his lightsaber, both were dead. By then, Sakura had woken up and shrieked at the sight of two smoldering, wannabe assassins. Syaoran heard a crash and glanced up, Kurogane was holding on to some kind of robot. Apparently the robot had delivered the package and was now beating a hasty retreat, with a renowned Jedi Master in tow. Syaoran turned to rush out the door, and was met by Touya, Yukito, and Hikaru coming in.
“Hikaru, take her into your room. Keep her with you all night!” exclaimed Syaoran before rushing out of the apartment. He ran straight into the elevator and had it take him to the speeders. As soon as the elevator doors opened, he dashed out and made his way towards the speeders. He found one that was a convertible, and jumped in. He quickly started up the machine and backed out of the driveway before taking off in the direction the robot and Kurogane took. Using the Force to help him drive the speeder and search for Kurogane, he was able to catch up with his master fairly quick. Quick enough to see someone shoot at the robot, making Kurogane fall. The person then took off. Syaoran sped forward, trying to keep below Kurogane long enough to catch him in the speeder. Kurogane landed in the speeder with a loud ‘oof’. “Are you alright, Master?” asked Syaoran as Kurogane shifted into the seat.
“Well, considering you caught me, yes. But we need to go after that assassin.”
“On it,” replied Syaoran as he took off in the direction the assassin took. Between him and Kurogane, they were able to catch up. They kept with the assassin, weaving in and out of traffic, and around tight corners.
“Whoa, this guy’s nuts!” blurted Kurogane as they swerved around another corner rather tightly.
“We are on his tail, Master, he doesn’t want to be caught,” replied Syaoran, never taking his eyes off his quarry.
“I know that. But the intensity of this chase could only mean . . . uh!” grunted Kurogane as they turned yet another tight corner. “That Sakura is in more danger than we previously thought!” Kurogane yelped as Syaoran cut a corner really close, too close. “OK, I’m getting sick of this!” shouted Kurogane as he stood up.
“No, Master, wait! I know this section of the city. I know a shortcut that will take us in front!” blurted Syaoran. Though his right eye was practically blind, he could tell that Kurogane would not have made the jump.
Kurogane grumbled as he reluctantly sat back down. “Fine, let’s go.” Syaoran nodded and took a different direction. After a few turns, they came to a pause, the speeder hovering in mid air. The two looked around for their adversary.
“Some shortcut, we’ve completely lost him!” grumbled Kurogane as he crossed his arms.
“I’m sure he’ll be here any minute,” replied Syaoran as he continued to glance around, using both sight and Force to locate the assassin.
“Knowing our luck, he’s already been past here five minutes ago and . . .”
“Excuse me, Master,” interrupted Syaoran as he jumped out of the speeder.
Once Kurogane realized what his Padawan was doing, he grinned. “I like this kid.” Syaoran fell for a few minutes before landing on the assassin’s speeder with a grunt. The assassin realized he was on top and pulled out a gun. Syaoran quickly pulled out his lightsaber and thrust it into the roof of the speeder. He moved it around to deflect the bullets, but one grazed his hand. With a yelp, Syaoran let go of his lightsaber. With a growl, he flexed his fingers before thrusting his hand into the speeder and grappled with the assassin over the gun. The gun went off, hitting the dashboard. The assassin let out a yelp and glared at Syaoran through the roof before turning to keep control of the speeder. They went down, all the way down, and Syaoran held on for dear life. When they got close enough to the ground, he rolled off. He quickly got up, and saw the assassin land the craft rather easily before jumping out of the speeder and taking off. Syaoran quickly gave chase through the crowd. The two weaved in and out of the crowd before the assassin ducked into a bar.
“Hey kid!” came Kurogane’s voice, right before Syaoran went in.
“She went in there!” he blurted.
“Yeah, I . . . wait, she?” asked Kurogane, blinking in surprise.
“Yes, and I think she is a Changeling,” continued Syaoran.
“What makes you say that?”
“She had a cloth over her face, easier to change facial features without anyone noticing,” replied Syaoran.
Kurogane’s eyes widened as he shoved Syaoran’s lightsaber back into his hands. “Then we’d better get in there.” The two dashed into the bar and glanced around. “You flush her out.”
“She knows your face, and you know what clothes she wears. I’ll stand here and make sure she doesn’t come out this way.”
“But, I know her clothes,” pointed out Syaoran.
“Yeah, but I bet she’s the only female here with neutral colored pants on,” remarked Kurogane with a grin as he pointed out the women. He was right, not a single one was wearing dull colors, everyone was wearing bright and sparkly clothes. “Not only that, but, she doesn’t know I’ve arrived yet.”
Syaoran grinned. “She’s wearing black pants and a red cloth over her face,” he said before walking further into the bar. He began walking slowly, looking for any sign of the woman he chased in. A few people tried to get his attention to sell him something, or a few women to flirt with him, but he politely declined with a pleasant but awkward smile. After a couple of minutes of wandering through the bar, Syaoran saw her. Their eyes locked, and a snarl distorted her face as she realized he had found her. She turned and took off for the door. “Hey!” shouted Syaoran as he gave pursuit. A gun shot rang out over the commotion causing everyone to fall with screams. Syaoran ducked but quickly rose again, his lightsaber at the ready, only to realize that the gun was aiming at him.
The assassin laughed maniacally. “Let’s see you save your precious princess now,” she taunted. She screamed when a lightsaber came down on her arm, sending the gun sprawling on the ground. Syaoran turned off his lightsaber and dashed forward to help Kurogane with their adversary.
“Got you, you little pest,” grumbled Kurogane as he and Syaoran dragged her outside. “Tell us who you’re working for,” stated Kurogane the instant they had set her down.
She laughed again. “Why should I tell you?” She grabbed Syaoran by the collar and pulled him close to her face. “Wouldn’t matter either way, your pretty princess will die, because you two are so pathetic!” Syaoran yanked her hand off of him, his heart pounding with rage, and fear for Sakura’s safety.
“Answer him! Who are you working for?” shouted Syaoran.
“There’s only one name you need to know, mine. Hello, pathetic Jedi, I’m Nova, and I work for the most powerful person in the universe,” she stated with an evil smile. She laughed again before letting out a whoop and crumbling to the ground. The two gasped as they knelt to check on her. She was gone, the evil smile plastered on her face. Syaoran plucked a dart from her neck and showed it to Kurogane.
“What the?” began Kurogane, only to be interrupted by the sound of a jet pack starting up. Startled, the two looked for the sound, only to see a figure flying away. They didn’t bother chasing after the figure, he would have been too far away by the time they got back to the speeder. But they glanced at each other worriedly, this looked like a long trail, one they hoped that if they followed, did not have a dead princess at the end.