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          Chapter 5
To Cloak or Not to Cloak

       She flipped him on his back as she climbed on top of him like a wild animal in heat.

 

       She aggressively kissed his lips. Tugging them with her teeth as she pulled away. Her hands fondled his body while she lowered, quickly tasting the skin of his chest. He wrapped one arm around her waist as he flipped back into his original position. His calloused hands roughly squeezed her throat as he lightly bit various places on her breast before enveloping her erect nipples in his mouth. Her animalistic moans fill the room faster and louder.

 

       BOOM! 

 

       Kenichi awoke in a confused panic, startled out of his sleep by a large explosion that rumbled his bed.

 

       “Ahh. Ahh. Ahh.” It… Was it just a dream? It felt so real. He thought, examining his hand in front of him. I can still feel the warmth and softness of her body. The wetness of her lips as we kissed. What a strange dream to have about her.  I wonder if she’s still asleep? 

 

       He slowly looked over the side of his bed to see if the strange rumbling had woken her. 

 

       She’s not here. Did she not go to sleep last night? It doesn't look like it. Maybe she is an early riser and is out in the living room. 

 

       Kenichi dressed and headed into the living room. Hmm, not in here either. Where could she have gone to? Wait, what’s that sound? It’s coming from the dojo. 

 

       Opening the door to the dojo. Huh? Why is she here? What is that stance she's taking? And why is her shirt ripped? Is she… training? 

 

       Stepping fully inside the dojo, deciding to watch her for a few more moments. 

 

       She’s starting. 

 

       He observed the pink haired Guardian as she flew through the air spinning wildly before landing. Dashing around in her own space. Never spending more than a moment in time at a single spot. 

 

       Wow! She’s fast! And agile. Is she doing some sort of image training? She looks as if she has prior experience. I guess that’s a good thing for us in the long run.

 

       Her sword swung down hard as she landed from another flip in the air. Transitioning into several quick thrust as her footwork continued to move her across the arena. 

 

       She has good form, I’ll give her that. Some of those moves are just... Wow! But we need to get ready for Ms. Ayumi when she gets here. It wouldn’t be good for us if she tired herself out before our training started. “Hey, Kana! Kana! She can’t hear me?” 

 

       Kenichi cautiously moved in her direction hoping to catch her attention. I need to be careful. She’s going at it kinda hard. “Hey, Kan–. Whoa!!

 

       Kenichi froze as he stared down the length of the blade as its tip stopped a hair's width away from carving his face. 

 

       She almost split me in two. How’d she get this close? She was at least twenty meters away, not even a moment ago. 

 

       “Umm, Hey?”

###

       Kana stared at the bunk above hers, watching as he snored like there was no tomorrow. Why did I have such a weird dream about this kid? I’ve never had one like that about anyone before. So why now?

       A hand rested on her chest. The beat of her heart drowned out the sound of the room. Unable to believe the apparent cause. 

 

       It’s so surreal. My body can remember how he held me down. The struggle we had as we fought for dominance over each other. Kana gazed a moment longer. Finally ripping her eyes off the sleeping Guardian. I need to distract myself. 

 

       Kana fixed her bed before heading out the room. Some training would be a good way to clear my mind. Plus with that awesome dojo right here, I don’t need to get dressed and go anywhere. 

 

       She trudged into the dojo along the wall adorned with weapons, slowly examining each one. “Ahh, this will do nicely.” Grabbing an intricately designed short sword out of its spot. “Now to get a feel for its weight.” Swinging the sword in multiple directions. “Nice and balanced. Not too heavy. Now for sharpness...” 

 

       The green eyed Guardian made her way to an area that had many wooden dolls hung up. She took one swing, slicing eight of them in half. A smile grew wildly on her face while she inspected the edge closely for any damages. “Whoa. Definitely sharp. Hmm, what’s this on the pummel?” The schools’ motto? But why?  

 

       Her mind drifted to when she spoke those very words. 

 

       “Guardian protector set ablaze our soul.” 

 

       As she spoke those words, she felt strange. What the hell is going on!? It’s, it’s draining my strength. “Ouch.” It’s getting hot! She looked frantically around as the weapon began to glow in her hand. “Hsst, it’s burning my skin.” The clang of the weapon rang as it hit the ground. What do I do? What do I do!?

 

       Fixating on a strange forest section of the dojo, she ripped off a piece of her tank top, sheathing her hand with it. Grabbing the weapon off the ground, she ran in its direction. Instructed by pure survival instinct, she threw the sword through the trees with all her strength. A large explosion flung her off her feet a moment later, shaking the entire area. Her body bounced off the ground several times, finally landing inside the pool. 

 

       Pulling herself out of the water, I feel like my body is made of lead. Grrr. “Ha Ha Ha, finally!”

 

       The green eyed guardian laid back to catch her breath. “So that hurt. It was also dangerous. Does the school’s motto activate a power within the weapons here?” 

 

       Why do I feel so tired now? Was it really draining my strength or was I just imagining it? Either way, it could be dangerous to try again without some sort of information beforehand. I’ll have to be more careful till then. 

 

       With a cautious mindset on her task, she rolled back, pushing off the ground with her hands landing back on her feet. “Now, to continue with my training.” 

 

       The bruised Guardian went back to the wall picking up a similar sword as the last one. Finding her way to the middle of a sparring square on the ground. She took out her earbuds and placed them in her ear, selecting her favorite playlist that she always listened to during her training exercise. The sounds of metal filling her auditory senses. 

 

       Now, close your eyes and relax. Deep breaths.

 

       Flashes of her and Kenichi embracing, kissing like savage beasts assaulted her thoughts.

 

       No. No. No! Relax Kana, just breathe. Think of nothing but your enemies. Breathe, let the music flow through you. Allow it to take over your body. 

 

       Slowly, she fell into a stance she learned over the last few years. The enemies in her mind surrounded her as they took form. Yes; just like that. Now Attack. Her body acted out the sequences in autopilot as she methodically, one by one sliced down each opponent in her mind. 

 

       Her body moved with varying aggression as it twisted and spun on top of the ground and through the air. Slice after slice her enemies fell under the swing of her sword. Each opponent failed to land a strike as her body danced around every attack. Each technique kept in beat as she moved in rhythm to the music.

 

       Nineteen down, six more to go. Huh? I’m not alone. A heartbeat? Somehow familiar.

 

       Kana opened her eyes, stopping mid-swing, almost cutting down the person in front of her. Flashbacks of him kissing and fondling her breast surfaced back in her mind. Her face ignited red from embarrassment as she gazed at him.  “K-K-Kenichi! What are you doing here? I could have killed you!”

 

       “Sorry. Sorry,” his hands waved defensively in the air. “I was woken up by some kind of explosion. When I saw that you weren’t in the room, I went looking for you.”

 

       Confirming that it was not an enemy, she relaxed her stance, lowering the weapon off his face.

 

       “I saw you training and I thought I would come get you, so we can be ready for Ms. Ayumi when she gets here. It would be bad if you tired yourself out before training started.” His life no longer in danger, Kenichi finally relaxed his arms. A cold sweat still held him tightly by the near fatal accident. “By the way, do you know what could have caused that explosion earlier?” 

 

       Kana briskly walked back to the wall, keeping her head low. “That was me. I wanted to train a little bit to get my mind off…things. Word for the future; if you see an inscription on any of the weapons here, do not read it. I have a theory that it activates the Guardian’s power to use Kundalini.”

 

       “I don’t get it. What made you think you caused it? You don’t know how to use Shakti like that yet.” 

 

       “Well, when I grabbed one of the swords here to practice with, I noticed the school’s motto on the pummel. After I read it, the weapon began to glow and heat up to an unbearable point. Since I can’t control Kundalini, I kinda caused it to explode. I threw it in the trees over there to avoid getting caught in the explosion.” Kana explained. Her hand directed his attention to the point of origin.

 

       Kenichi’s gaze over the area of the explosion.

 

       How? There is so much destruction. As far as I can see there is nothing standing in a ten meter diameter. Did she really cause this? Is this power really ours? Unbelievable. She could have died if she didn’t get rid of it in time.

 

       She’s bruised and bloodied. Obviously trying to hide a limp she has. Her clothes are tattered and she’s out of breath. How long was she in here for? Either way I'm glad I came before she pushed herself too hard. 

 

       “Well, I’m glad you’re safe. How about I go make us dinner, while we wait for Ms. Ayumi?”

 

       “Huh, you can cook?” She asked. Her stomach growling at the thought of being filled. “Hell ya, I’m starved.” she turned, making her way back to Kenichi. “I’m surprised Ms. Ayumi hasn’t made it here yet. Isn’t it getting kinda late in the day?”

 

       Confused, he gazed at her as they ambled into the kitchen. “Hmm? What do you mean? It’s still early in the morning. Anyway, just relax and recover while I get breakfast ready. I’ll have something special ready I think you will like.” 

 

       Kana didn’t refuse as she moseyed towards the room to wash the sweat off her body. I wonder how long I can take a shower for. The hot water would feel nice against my body. Hmm? The stove clock must be broken. It’s still the same time it was when I went into the dojo. Oh well, I’ll fix it later.

 

       Steam filled the bathroom as the hot water washed away the evidence of her training that morning. A tired Kana mentaly fighting a battle within herself.

 

       Can I really do this? 

###

       “How long she lives depends solely on your ability to complete your mission.” A deep yet calm voice spoke. A beaten and bruised Kana lay naked on the floor.

 

       “Infiltrate the school. Disguise yourself among your fellow students. And find what I am looking for. Do not fail me. Remember you are now my child. Whatever you know, I will also know. So do not think you can betray me. I will have someone on the inside to keep me informed on your progress. 

 

       The mysterious figure walked into the shadows as Kana lay in tears on the ground physically and emotionally broken.

###

  

       Sliding her new shirt over her head, Kana exited into the bedroom.

 

       I’ll learn what I need to for a while. Get stronger. Just in case something happens in the future, it wouldn’t hurt to get stronger to get me out of any sticky situations. A somber look made its way on her face. I hate to deceive Kenichi like this, he seems like a nice guy too. But I have someone more important I want to protect.

 

       Leaving the room to meet up with her partner a smile crept its way on her lips.

 

       Mmm, that smells so good. She stood at the entry to the kitchen her eyes closed taking in the sensations that filled the kitchen. 

 

       Utensils pattered away on pots and pans. The smell of bacon and eggs sizzling on the stove. A warm embrace of familiarity wrapping around her body, pushing the unpleasant thoughts out her mind. The female Guardian opened her eyes to watch Kenichi start setting the table with pancakes as he ushered back to the stove. 

 

       Ahh, that bacon smells so freaking good right now. Was he taught how to cook where he came from? Scrambled eggs too. I can’t wait to eat! What’s that white stuff in that pot? Looks kind of funny.

 

       The sound of the door closing behind her finally drew the attention of the Guardian chef as he smiled her way. 

 

       “Good morning,” Kenichi said.

###

       Kenichi trekked along in the kitchen as he set the table.

 

       If I remember right the silverware is arranged like this. And the plates go here. What else, what else? Oh that’s right. I need to get glasses for drinks. Doing his best to remember the way the dining table was laid out whenever they had family dinners back home. 

 

       Satisfied with the placement of the table the young Guardian made his way back to the stove to finish cooking their morning meal.

 

       “I wonder what she will think of this kind of food? It’s popular in my village to serve for breakfast. She was dressed as if she worked on a farm when we met, so I hope something like this would give her a small reminder of her time back home.” Even though we aren’t a traditional farming village, the places we come from should be fairly similar.

 

       Kenichi turned as he heard the bedroom door close down their short hall. She looks much better now. I bet that shower helped a lot. “Good Morning again. If you go ahead and sit down, I can bring you a plate.” Kenichi grabbed a plate for her and himself as they sat down at the table.

 

       “Thank you. It smells really good.” 

 

       “No need to thank me. We’re partners. It’s the least I could do for us in the morning. I don’t have many home skills but cooking is something I learned growing up.”

 

       “So, did you live outside the city too? I figured you were raised in the city because of the clothes you were wearing, but they don’t eat this kind of food in the city.”

 

       “Well, I don’t live in the capital city. I live in a moderate-sized village southeast of here, called Paranesi Village. It’s the mining hub of this region in the Province of Tudugong.” He took glances at her face to see if she liked the food as she ate. Satisfied by her continued eating, he moved the conversation forward. “Where are you originally from? From your cloak, I presume you’re from one of the major farming villages west of the city?”

 

       “So you’re familiar with the farming regions?

 

       “Well, we are not a traditional farming village but we do have more in common with them than the capital. We grew our fair share of crops ourselves but mostly to feed the village. We’re mainly a mineral mining village and trading hub for the surrounding villages. Their goods gather there before we send an escort to the capital for trade.”

 

       “It's really good; the food.” She remarked as she swallowed the last bite of food. “It reminds me of what we used to eat back on our farm…But I haven’t had it in a few years.” 

 

       Kana’s words fell softer. Her gaze into nowhere filled with old memories. No longer looking at her partner. But to a past she once lived.

 

       She looks so sad right now. Kenichi quietly observed. The young man watched as his new partner's eyes grew glossy as he continued to let her speak.

 

       “Every morning I would wake up early and help my father gather eggs from the hen house before feeding the pigs. I was too small to feed them without getting knocked over all the time. My dad would always laugh before coming to help me. That laugh always made me feel like today was the best day of my life.” 

 

       An unknowing smile crossed her face. Her voice was filled with joy but also a hint of sadness in it. “Mom would always have breakfast waiting for us in the morning. She would make dad a plate for later, since he stayed out much longer to take care of the other animals.” 

 

       Kenichi knew where she was coming from. He peered past her. Her experience triggered his time growing up.  It’s sort of like how I helped my mom around our land. Well minus the animals. “So was it hard to leave them to come here?”

 

       “No. Actually, it was their idea for me to come here.” Kana got up and grabbed their empty plates before making her way to the sink. She turned on the water waiting for it to get to a good temperature. “They wanted me to see what living in the city was like. Not for me to be stuck farming my life away. To make something great for my future.”

 

       Her hand reached to the soap as she applied some over the dishes as the water filled the sink. Bubbles and soap slowly formed covering everything in the sink with its foamy texture. “So what better thing is there than becoming a Guardian for the region? Action, adventure, prestige, honor, respect… freedom.

 

       That last word drifted out her mouth with a strange tone that both of them understood.

 

       What could she need freedom from? Isn’t she free now?

 

       “So here I am.” Her tone shifted back into normalcy. Not that I’m complaining or anything. I wanted to see the world too so I guess it’s like a win-win for all of us.”  The water ran as she rinsed off the dishes they made. 

 

       “How come you’re not using the dishwasher to clean them? U know you don’t have to do it by hand right?”

 

       Kana stared down at the plate in her hand. “I’ve never used one before. My mom used to tell me that Shakti was a blessing from the Gods. That we should respect that power. One of the ways we paid respect was by not using their power to do a small task that we could easily do by hand. Something as small as washing dishes with your own hands is just one of the ways we pay respects back to the Founders.”

 

       Kenichi stared at his partner’s back as he listened. He sat and contemplated on all the things he learned about his partner this eventful morning. So they didn’t use Shakti for everything where she is from. I never gave much thought to praising the Founders or giving thanks back to them for the power we use. I wonder if their whole village was like that?

 

       *Knock Knock Knock*

 

       “That must be Ms. Ayumi. Can you let her in while I put these up?” Kana said. 

       Uh, yea I can do that.” 

 

       Kenichi headed over to the door, opening it to see the same doctor from before. Dressed in her usual lab coat and somewhat revealing clothes underneath. Carrying two small boxes and a small, thin suitcase. Her tail explored the air as it waved about. A bright smile on her face as she looked down at him.

 

       “Good Morning Ms. Ayumi, come in.” Kenichi stepped to the side, to allow the doctor into their new home. Quickly peeking outside for anyone else, “Is Mr. Hotaki not with you today?”

 

       “Mr. H​​otaki? No, he won’t be joining us today. He was only available to help me examine the men yesterday for the physicals. Outside of that, his duties were complete. So I called him back.”

 

       “Called him back?” Kana asked as she entered the living room to join the two.

 

       “Yes. Called him back.” She plopped down on the couch as she listed her points with her fingers. “You see as Chief Medical Officer it’s my job to give a thorough exam of any potential and future guardians. To know them inside and out. But the young men joining would often feel uncomfortable with me examining their naked bodies or would stare lustfully at my body. So I developed an ability to separate myself into two bodies to make the exams run more efficiently. Me and Mr. Hotaki are one and the same. Think of him as my avatar to examine the men while I, the original, examine the women. By the way, Kenichi, I see you’re gifted in other areas too.” Ayumi winked and smirked at him as she nodded toward his nether region. “Meooow,” She playfully added.

 

       She saw me/him naked! They both thought. Their faces shared the same flushed look. 

 

       “So; time to take a look at the both of you.” Ms. Ayumi started to open her thin suitcase which they discovered to be a travel medical kit. “I assume you followed the instructions of showering and eating before the bonding process, and started at 9 pm?

 

       “Yes,” they both answered. 

 

       “And no obvious problems that y’all noticed when waking up in the morning?”

 

       Kana and Kenichi’s minds flashed with the dream each of them had of them having sex.

 

       “No. Not anything we can recall,” Kana answered.

 

       “Ok. Ok, good”

###

       “Well,” Ms. Ayumi stated, closing her travel kit, “it appears as if everything is ok. I checked both of you for any complications and didn’t find any. You both seem in excellent shape. If you have no further questions for me, I guess I can take my leave then. Meow. Please report to training field #3 at noon.” 

 

       She rose off the couch after packing away her travel kit. “I’m leaving these two boxes on the table. It has the modified attire that you designed during your first examination. Please wear it from now on. It not only provides protection from any civilian attack in case of confrontation with the populous during duties inside cities. But it will act as the modifier for when you come into your powers.”

 

       The doctor grabbed her white coat that laid across the top of the couch. Sliding it on, adjusting it to her comfort as she continued talking to the pair standing across from her. 

 

       “It will evolve with you as you grow stronger. Adapting to your will. Its Guardian form will manifest slowly, as you grow as partners. Also, you no longer need to bring your ECD with you. Your outfit has integrated video and calling functions allowing the same communications you previously had, except on a more mature scale. I suggest reading the manual in your free time, to get an understanding of how everything works. It’s a bit more advanced than what you have on the civil side, meow.” 

 

       Ms. Ayumi gave a warm smile before stepping to the pair. She placed her hand on each of their shoulders. “Remember, from now on, the most important person in your life is standing right next to you. Please protect each other to the best of your ability. The closer you grow to your partner in truly understanding them and building an unbreakable trust, the stronger you will be overall. You are no longer, individuals. You are one and the same now. Welcome to the family, guys.” The doctor’s arm wrapped around their necks as she embraced them in a hug. 

 

       The new Guardians couldn’t help but feel the motherly warmth she gave off. Both returning the hug in full.

 

       She straightened herself up before turning and walking to the door she came in. “But let me not hold you up any longer than I have. I’ll be seeing you later during your training to see how much stronger you have become.” 

 

       Ms. Ayumi opened the door, stepping halfway out before she turned around. “Oh, by the way, Kana, I’m sooo jealous of you.” Ayumi winked and nodded her head back toward Kenichi’s privates. 

 

       Kana's face reddened from anger and embarrassment at the obvious implication of her statement. As Kenichi froze remembering that the beautiful doctor he and his brother gawked at the day prior had seen every inch of his body.

 

       “With that, I’ll take my leave.”  laughing loudly as she closed the door behind her.

 

       “What’s with that woman!? She’s more trouble than herding Galal lizards. Ugh,” Kana stormed off into her room taking the box that held her outfit. 

 

       “Well, I guess that means I’m changing in the dojo.” Kenichi strolled with his box into the dojo bathrooms to change into his new uniform.

 

###

       Staring in the mirror, Kenichi repeatedly changed poses as he looked at the outfit he designed to aid him in battle. The new him. “Fits well. Breathable. No restrictions on any movements I may make in training.” During the medical exams, they used the measurements they got to make their new attire. They asked a few questions about what he would like his style to be. 

 

       Maybe the sleeveless cloak was a little too much? Grabbing at the sides of his dark gray cloak and examining it. “I wonder if she has gotten dressed yet. I don’t want to be late getting to the training field.” I think I took a little too much time admiring my new outfit. I wonder what hers looks like? Probably a lot more subtle than mine. Man, I should have not asked for a cloak. Ugh. 

 

       Kenichi walked out of the dojo heading for the bedroom door and opening it to get another opinion.  “Hey, Kana, what do you think about this cloak, is it a little too,” Kenichi’s eyes boggled out his head as he stared in front of him. Kana was completely nude, aside from the bottom portion of her uniform, partially up her legs. “Commando!” Reality finally struck him. Damn it. Damn it. Damn it! Why did I say that out loud?! That sounded nothing like sorry. His cheeks felt the blood rushing to them as he continued to stare. Half in shock. The other half from the happy accident.

 

       “What the hell are you doing in here!? You knew I was changing, yet you just walked right on in, without knocking wanting to catch a peek. What the fuck is wrong with you. Get OUT!!” 

 

       She was furious. Unable to retaliate in her compromising position.

 

       Kenichi quickly turned, slamming the door behind him. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m Sorry! I thought you would have been dressed by now, it's been so long!”

 

       “Been so long!? Damn, I know y’all think we get dressed slowly, but it hasn’t even been two minutes yet.”

 

       Two minutes? What does she mean? I spent almost an hour getting ready and admiri–, examining myself in the mirror. Great; now she thinks I’m some pervert. Ugh. “I’ll be waiting for you in the living room. Again I’m so sorry!” Kenichi pushed himself off the door rushing to wait for her on the couch.

    

       Several minutes went by as Kenichi sat uncomfortably waiting on his partner. 

 

       Man, it’s already been 45 minutes Kenichi thought, testing the timer function awarded to him on his new uniform. 

 

       While he waited he had read over the manual of some of the features their new battle attire came with. One of which was a predictive timer that automatically starts after recognizing some sort of verbal statement that would indicate time spent doing something. So since he said he would wait on his partner an automatic timer started.

 

       “Hmm, why do I feel so ahead of the time right now? My mind feels like it is late in the day yet the clock on the wall is barely showing eleven am.” 

 

       Kenichi, hearing the room door close behind him, got up and turned around. He watched as she strode in towards him testing her movements in her new uniform “Wow.” 

    

       “So what do you think?” She asked, doing a spin for him. “Pretty badass dont’cha think?”

    

       “So you kept a cloak on your uniform too?

    

       “Ya, you would be surprised how many useful things you can do with one.” Grabbing it by the sides as she twisted it around her. “Isn’t that why you decided to have one on your uniform as well?”

    

       “Well, not quite.” Kenichi rubbed his head in embarrassment. “I remember Toshiro and Kagura’s outfit yesterday and I thought it looked cool. But once I wore it I honestly felt it was a little flashy. Like I was showing off. I feel a little better knowing that you have one too.”

    

       “There’s no need to feel embarrassed about anything. Cloaks provide a lot of usefulness in the field that many people don’t even think about. Concealment from the elements, makeshift cover at night, hammock, cover from people’s eyes, being able to hide potential weapons from someone, along with a lot of other uses. They look pretty badass too dont’cha think?” Kana spun again in place, in her new knee-high boots. Letting her cloak spin around with her. “Now, let’s head out to the training field. Time to see just how badass they gonna make us.”

    

       The two of them marched out their door to training field #3. Their new uniform on and their cloaks flowing behind them. Excited to see just how strong this school will make them as Guardians.

 

###

 

       Somewhere an unknown figure sat on his throne. His red eyes glowed eerily in the dark as he awaited news. 

 

       “My Lord,” His short figure appeared even smaller as he bowed in front of the throne. “Phase one of the infiltration was successful. Intel received from our undercover operative reported that Kana has passed the initial awakening as a Guardian.”

    

       “Good. We now have someone under our full control inside that traitorous city. Soon my fellow warriors. The shadowed figure Shakti began to rise as its overwhelming pressure began to crush the bowed man under its weight. 

 

      His blood spread around his mangled body as footprints formed in it from the shadowed figure walking through. “We will get revenge on the people that imprisoned you. Soon.”

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