The gang gets set to leave in the morning.
Kei: Thank you so much for the place to call home tonight.
Nicole: It was my pleasure. I know you have to go to find Kana, but please bring her home safely, if you can, Josh.
Josh: I’ll try.
Nicole nods. Rin suddenly comes from behind with a bag on her back.
Rin: I’m coming with you.
The gang seems surprised.
Kei: Rin, you don’t hav-
Rin: (interrupting) If family is involved, I should be as well. I may be the only one who can relate to her being in the Branch formerly myself.
The others look at each other and can’t find a way to argue.
Nick: What about your mother?
Karin comes from behind.
Karin: Don’t worry! I’ll take care of her. Rin was teaching me self-defense.
Kei: Looks like Rin made it so we couldn’t complain. I don’t have an issue if she comes along, can always use the extra back-up.
Nick nods at Kei, then turns to Rin.
Nick: Very well, thanks for coming aboard.
The gang quietly takes off from there and Karin and Nicole go back into their house.
Rin: So what’s the plan?
Nick: Hope Kana attacks us for any reason?
Rin: So no plan.
Nick: More or less.
Rin: I think I have an idea.
Kei: All ears.
Rin: There’s a place not too far from here. Its a field that has plenty of trees for good shade. Its great for a nap or to camp. Lot of Branch members visit there, if we’re lucky, Kana will be there.
Saori: Seems like kind of a gamble.
Rin: Don’t have much of a choice. Its one of the few places I would actually see Kana.
Kei: Seems like the best bet, what do you think Josh?
Josh: Okay, let’s check that place.
With Josh’s affirmation, it takes about an hour in all to get to the field. Just like Rin explained about it, there’s a lot of trees above the field, blocking any incoming sunlight underneath them. However, today, they would not have to worry about sun. The grey clouds hung overhead like a blanket. No sun made it through.
Kei: Was it supposed to rain today?
Nick: I don’t know, I didn’t check the weather forecast.
Kei: Way to be prepared Nick.
Nick: Oh shut up.
The gang keeps walking underneath the forest brush. They look around, but seemingly see nothing.
Saori: All I see are trees.
Suddenly the gang hears the rustling at their side, and a kunai flies by Kei’s head, hitting a tree nearby.
Rin: No, she’s here alright. Because she did exactly the same thing I would’ve done. Take out the strongest first.
Kei hadn’t even been able to react to the kunai. It had come too fast.
Kei: Then where is she?
Rin: Keep calm. She using the trees for stealth. Nobody make a sound.
Another kunai flies straight at Rin, with a tag attached to it. Rin turns toward the kunai and grabs it.
Rin: (Thinking) You may be good with kunai, but so am I.
She takes notice of the tag.
The kunai explodes in a cloud of smoke, and a laugh can be heard.
???: Fell for it.
Rin: (Coughing from the smoke) Okay, I’ll admit, that caught me off guard.
Josh: (Takes his baton) Kana, stop it. I want to talk.
???: And I don’t, Joel.
Kei: (Thinking) Joel?
Nick: (Thinking) I wonder if she even knows who he is…
Rin: I do Kana. Let’s talk!
Kana: Who cares about you…?
A figure in a black cloak appears behind Rin and points a kunai at her throat.
Kana: I don’t.
Kei: Too bad, I do.
Kei pulls out his sword and tries to force Kana to back away from Rin. Kana leaps over Rin and then throws a volley of kunais at Kei, trying to make him lose concentration. Rin, however, draws out her own kunai and blocks the three of them.
Rin: Stop this.
Nick prepares his gun.
Kana: Put your gun down, copper. It won’t help you.
Nick: (Aims, trying to guess at her movement.) I do. Sticky Net.
The bullet explodes from his gun and seemingly splits, creating a wide net to try and grab her. Kana allows the web to snare her, but she cuts it into tiny pieces with her kunai.
Kana: Don’t think you’re the first one to try this trick on me.
Nick: The trick wasn’t to keep you in the net.
Saori: (From behind her, pressing her sword against her back) It was to keep you occupied.
Kana: (Chuckles) Pretty smart, but…
She quickly hops forward and swiftly spins, kicking Saori’s sword out of her hand. Saori moves to retrieve her sword as Kei charges in forcing her to focus on him. He swings his sword methodically, watching her movements carefully. Kana anticipates it and allows Kei to come closer before snatching the sword out of his hands and stabbing him in the arm.
Kana: That’s for your impatience.
Kei: (Thinking, wincing) Can’t say I wasn’t expecting that.
Rin comes in, a kunai in both hands and tries to get her to stop.
Rin: Listen, Kana, you realize the Branch will just dump you when they’re done with you, if you can’t serve that goal, you’ll end up just like Michel.
Kana: Michel was an idiot. I have something that he didn’t: brains. That’s why I will use everything I’ve got to achieve my goals.
Rin: You really want to be like Kon then? Doing whatever it takes to get what you want, living in fear that when the Branch cuts you off from them, you’re on your own from all the people who want to take your head off? I left because my family was finally safe. I am your family.
Kana: Family… I don’t need it right now. I have something to do, and when I’m done… who knows.
Kei: And what then, with your mission accomplished, all the Branch will do is shed you like dead skin off a snake. And all you would have done is doomed us all to oblivion at the cost of a little girl’s soul.
Kana: The Branch is just a tool for me, nothing more. They give me what I want, I use it.
Rin: Means to an end then, Kana? Then what is your end? What is your reward?
Kana: Oh, I can’t spoil all the details. You have to figure it out on your own.
Suddenly Josh rushes at Kana and tackles her to the ground.
Josh: Kana! I’ve been looking for you all this the time, and this is what you say? That you don’t need a family now?
He pulls the hood of her head, and a pair of hazel eyes stare at Josh.
Kana: It’s not that simple, Joel. You won’t understand.
Josh: Then try to explain!
Kana: I… can’t.
She kicks Josh away and rises from the ground. Then she jumps at the nearest tree’s branch and throws a kunai to the ground.
Kana: I will see you later, then.
Kana vanishes from sight. Shigure goes immediately to healing Kei’s arm, as he winces at her touching the wound.
Kei: Thank you Shigure.
Rin: So we got some valuable information at least.
Josh: Kana… how could you...
Nick: Means to an end...but what is she going after?
Josh: If only I could know…
Shigure: Either way, we need to stop here for now so I can heal Kei. It might take a little time.
Nick: Shigure is right. We need to regroup and think on a plan of attack.
Saori: Kana is smart and tough, that is for sure, almost like a mercenary.
Rin: No surprise. I knew I wasn’t the only Kunoichi in the group because of her, but to be this strong already, her weapon must be hand crafted by the NOL.
Kei: So how do we appeal to her? She seemingly doesn’t care for family.
Rin: Not to mention what she’s after. Revenge? Reward? We need to know what motivates her. At the very least, we know its not Alexandria.
Kei: (Sighing) That’s a slight relief.
Josh: I don’t know. But it appears she will use everything it takes to achieve her goals.
Kei: That much I learned first-hand (winces)
Shigure: Its not deep, so it should only be a few minutes.
Josh: (Sighs) Kei… I am sorry for this.
Kei: Oh, don’t worry about me, its not the first time I’ve hurt, won’t be the last.
Nick: Kei’s been through a lot, its no surprise he’s taking it in stride.
Rin: We still have to figure out where she might go.
Kei: Perhaps we should head back and regroup.
Rin: No, you don’t think she would go after mom, would you?
Kei’s eyes widen. The gang take off heading back toward the house. After they arrive, they notice nothing different about the house. The adrenaline still pumping in them.
Shigure: You okay, Kei?
Kei: I’m alright.
With a deep breath, Rin opens the door to check on the status of everyone in the house.
Josh: ...Still better than nothing.
Nicole and Karin are sitting at the table. The gang joins them, while Shigure goes back to healing Kei’s wound.
Nick: No such luck. She not after any of the Arai family.
Rin: Or so it looks, at the moment.
Josh: She has some goals to achieve… but she didn’t let us know anything else.
Nick: We’re back at square one.