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This page, A and K Chapter 14: Past Influences, is coming of age. The current canon and/or the writer's writing has improved since then, making this page relatively obsolete. Please take into account possible plans for a complete overhaul to this page for future use.

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Kei walks into Shigure's room. Shigure sat by the bed watching over Aria, who had not awoken from her deep unconscious state.

Kei: Nothing, huh?

Shigure: Not even a flinch. She has a pulse, so she's alive, but...

Kei: She needs time to heal. That's no surprise. The beating she took was pretty bad, but it seems like the 'Goddess of Luck' has survived again.

Shigure: 'Goddess of Luck'?

Kei: Her nickname. Somehow, she manages to survive even through the worst conditions.

Shigure: Including the war?

Kei: Especially the war. Do you have clothes prepared for her?

Shigure: Yes, when she awakes, she'll have clothes set aside for her.

Kei: Any clue as to who did it?

Shigure: You honestly expect me to have one?

Kei: No. It was wishful thinking.

Shigure sighs. Kei follows suit and sighs as well.

Shigure: Kei, does Aria have any family?

Kei: No.

Shigure: Why doesn't she?

Kei: Her father and mother were killed.

Shigure: What?

Kei sighs as he recalls the painful memory.

Kei: Seven years ago, Aria was seventeen. I was twenty.

Shigure: This happened when I was eighteen, so this was...

Kei: The year 2216, yeah.

Shigure: What happened?

Kei: Her family was kidnapped.

Shigure: Oh dear...

Kei: The people who kidnapped them, they demanded a million dollars. It was my job to keep them talking so that others could get in and save them. I successfully negotiated Aria's release, but midway through someone bungled the operation. Aria managed to escape, but the place went up in flames. Taking some of the people I worked with up in flames. Her parents didn't survive.

Shigure: Poor Aria...

Kei: When Aria exited the building, she blamed me for the failure, she claimed that she would become stronger and defeat me.

Shigure: Wait, is that why...?

Kei: I stopped fighting her? Yeah. The one thing Aria and I share is an honor code. We don't attack unarmed opponents. I sheathed my weapon and to her...

Shigure: It would be like when her parents were in trouble.

Kei: If she struck me when I was defenseless, in her eyes she would be nothing more then the people who kidnapped her parents.

Shigure: And you?

Kei: She wants to prove she can be better then me.

With that, Kei walks out of the room. Shigure keeps watching over her.

Shigure: I don't know you well enough Aria, and its not my place to make light of your situation. I want to tell you a story though. Back when I was a little girl, my parents divorced. My father, he was tired. Besides my older brother Mitch, I had a little brother and sister. My mother worked two jobs to provide for us, and I stayed at home to raise my siblings. I never attended school, but my mother would bring home gifts. She'd bring home books I could learn from on my own. Both my mother and father lived in Yamatsumi. My father, I would go visit him from time to time. That was up until last year. He passed away quietly, in his sleep. My mother was devastated. Despite all the stuff he had put her through, she still loved him. She still works two jobs even today to put food on the table for my siblings. Mitch, he loved my dad. He was really unhappy when he learned about the divorce. He'd visit once a week to check in on him. Even if my parents were divorced, we were all still a family. Aria, we're not related by blood, and I'm sorry for what happened to you. We've both lost people we care about. I hope one day we can be good friends, maybe even as close as sisters.

Shigure chuckles to herself a little bit.

Shigure: I don't even know if you can hear me. I was told that if I talked to someone who was in an unconscious state...that they might be able to hear me. What do you think Aria?

There came no response. Shigure didn't expect one. She hoped that through her talking to her, Aria would eventually come to. Kei, meanwhile, decided to return to the bar. To his surprise, an off-duty cop was standing in the middle of the room. He was wearing a black jacket over a white collared shirt and wearing a pair of blue jeans with black dress shoes.

Kei: Wasn't expecting you here.

The man turns to see Kei standing there.

Nick: Well, this is my job.

Kei: Aren't you off duty though?

Nick: I always have been a workaholic.

Kei steps into the bar and comes to stand next to Nick.

Kei: Something bothering you?

Nick: A lot actually. You told me a girl named Rin claimed she was he murderer correct?

Kei: I gave you the information hoping you could find me a lead.

Nick: And boy did I ever.

Kei: Really, mind telling me?

Nick: You could get me fired for this, you know.

Kei: Then I'll hire you.

Nick chuckles a bit.

Nick: Fine then.

Kei: Tell me what you found Nick.

Nick: Rin is supposedly a 'skilled' assassin, right?

Kei: Looked like.

Nick: I don't buy it.

Kei: Explain.

Nick: Too messy for an assassination.

Kei: How so?

Nick: Do you remember what I told you before how Mitch died?

Kei: He was hit with one of the glass cups. A glass cup that was from his establishment.

Nick: Right, and then stabbed so that he'd bleed out. Pretty noisy for an assassination, especially for a skilled one. Then, the kunai you found.

Kei: What about it?

Nick: You thought we were sloppy and we had missed it right?

Kei: ...you're about to tell me I was wrong, aren't you?

Nick: We take pictures of everything, and they don't call me the 'Police Dog of Yamatsumi' if I was sloppy in my investigations.

Kei: It wasn't there when Mitch was killed, was it?

Nick: No. That kunai came after we cleared out of here.

Kei: (If it wasn't Rin, then why did she claim it was her?)

Nick: I don't know who this 'Rin' person is, but my instincts are telling me that she wasn't the one who killed our friend.

Kei: Too messy, too sloppy, is your response then?

Nick: Kei, what have you gotten yourself into?

Kei: This is my mission.

Nick: And you can't tell me?

Kei: The less people involved, the better Nick.

Nick: And I can't get involved?

Kei: Let me put it this way.

Kei and Nick turn to stare into each other's eyes.

Nick: Then what?

Kei: This is my mission. I was given someone to protect by two of the six pillars, and I will see this through to the end.

Nick takes a moment before chuckling to break the tension.

Nick: Just like when we serving together huh?

Kei smiles at that reminder of his past.

Nick: Once you're assigned a mission you always have to see it through.

Kei: You know me well enough.

Nick: Its a shame I can't help with your missions, but I'll find other ways to help. I promise.

Kei: Nick, the information you've given me is already invaluable. Now all I want you to do is find out who really killed Mitch, and then get back to me.

Nick: Do my job.

Kei: That's all I ask.

Nick: What are you getting yourself into Kei?

Kei: Something bigger then the both of us.

Kei walks away after that, with Nick left standing there wondering about what was going on in Kei's life. Meanwhile, at a dark warehouse, Michel is reporting to something. Both men remain in darkness. Neither can see the other's face.

???: What do you have to report?

Michel: The plan is going as planned.

???: Any hitches?

Michel: None yet. Can I ask something?

???: Speak.

Michel: Aria is in the hands of our enemy, shouldn't we...

???: You sent your message. If she's not dead, then so be it.

MIchel: But sir, I...

???: Don't 'sir' me, Michel. You bungled your job and left her to die. Someone took advantage and made sure that she got medical help.

Michel: I know who.

???: I don't care who it was. You were assigned to kill her and you failed. She is out of your hands. If she gets involved, I'll have someone else handle it.

Michel: Understood.

???: So the pawn is in place then?

Michel: Yes.

???: Very well, continue with your plan then. I don't want to give you a second strike Michel.

Michel: Understood.

???: Aria's third strike was her failure to defeat Kei. The fact that we're wasting resources trying to defeat a simple beastkin has already enraged me. The NOL cannot return to its former glory in its current state, and the MOR gets more powerful every day.

Michel: Yes sir.

???: With our reduced forces, we can't even eliminate a single beastkin, not exactly the way the NOL should be revived, should it?

Michel: No sir.

???: Glad we're in agreement. This time you make sure your message gets across.

Michel: Understood.

???: You're dismissed.

The sound of walking footsteps and a door opening and closing. To the person in the darkness' surprise, another person has entered.

???: I did not call you.

Rin: No you didn't.

???: Why are you here?

Rin: About Aria...

???: She has already received her 'severance package'. If she survives or doesn't is no longer my concern.

Rin: Understood.

???: If she rejoins the fight, however, you will be the person to make sure she is eliminated.

Rin: Understood.

???: And I want no screw-ups this time. You get the job done, or else...

Rin: I understand.

???: Michel has already got a strike, but your record is clean. I like you Rin, I want to use you a great deal longer.

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