That night the rain had turned once again to snow. The warehouse district seemed quiet enough. Of course, that could always be deceiving and usually was. Having received a tip from Nikrith, who had snuck out of the apartment for a while during the day, Ark crouched, hidden, on a rooftop. He didn’t move, nor had he for the last half hour, leaning slightly on a snipper rifle. The snow was starting to cover his shoulders and the staff that lay next to him. His narrowed eyes focused on the side door to the warehouse across from him.
        Snow was suddenly thrown back into the air and Oni landed softly on the snow. “Chyaa. Peoplez be insidez. Mes seened 8 ‘ems anz 4 guardz. Haaaii,” she said, crouching down and folding her wings over herself. “Chyaaaa. Dey have lotz o’ chemical equipment anz big thin’ undaaa tarp. Most peepz look liken scientists anz one guy has suit onz. Thinkz iz same guy who messed upz Nikrith’n.” Ark found it annoying how she sometimes slowed then sped up then slowed again sentences.
        “The NIGHTMARE employee?” asked Ark.
        Oni nodded, and shifted her position. She hissed under her breath. “Is weird...” she murmured.
        “What?” She didn’t respond. “He could bring in a good amount of credits. Any idea what they’re doing?” Oni didn’t respond to that either.
        “Da guy sometimez walkz off by himselfz towardz front of warehouse with hiz laptop. No guards ‘round.”
        Ark stood up, shaking the snow off. He picked up his staff, then leaped off the roof. Oni sat on the roof a little longer, then followed. They met Chaonen on ground level; he had insisted on going along with them. After having been filled in, he told them what he found out.
        “This is rather unusual compared to your regular targets,” he said. “Maybe we should find out more. What they are doing exactly, for example.”
        “I say just get the Suit then get out,” said Ark.
        “Wez have no proof he be sorceror,” said Oni. “Howeva, if we getz proof ofz dat anz his involvment inz a smugglin’ rin’ dere be probably reward, hai.”
        “His laptop,” said Chaonen. “That should be substantial proof.”
        “Chaonen-daimyou, mages, the laptop may also contain information as to what they are doing,” the Shadow said.
        “So we get the laptop, find out whatever is going on, then jump the Suit,” said Ark. “Avoid using magik. We don’t want a bounty placed on us. But if he does, take pictures of that.”

  The NIGHTMARE employee, or as Ark called him, Suit, monitored a chemist as he carefully poured Nin’nako into a test tube. Then placed a glass stopper with a glass pipe into onto the test tube. The glass pipe was then connected to a small machine of some sort. It slightly resembled a gun. The chemist explained what he was doing to Suit, “this is the energy these is just a test model but...” He closed the side panel, then wheeled his chair to the control console rigged to the machine. Typing in several numbers, he set a target and pressed enter. A beam of energy shot out from the machine and hit a testwall that had been set up a few meters infront of it. Hard plastic shields protected everyone was the backlash of access energy. Though the energy beam had been small, the testwall of strong metal had been demolished.
         The chemist slid back over to the machine and opened the panel he had closed before. Tapping the test tube, “See? It barely uses any at all.” Suit questioned how much an average shot would use. The answer was better than he expected but not enough. “We are still developing the system to recycle, if you will, the energy used.” Another scientist joined the chemist.
        Suit nodded, then left the scientists to do their work. He stretched and meandered around table, boxes, and crates to his ‘private corner.’ He flicked some dust off his jacket then sat down on a cushion by his laptop and a beer. Things were going well for him. He would have good news to give to his superior. That and weapons of mass destruction always made life more interesting. He glanced towards a noise above and on the left of him. Staring into the darkness, he then shown a flashlight in the direction. A few sweeps revealed nothing. Still a little uneasy, he turned back to his laptop and carefully unlocked the safetly on his handrifle.
        Oni glared through the darkness at where Ark should be. Giving him a ‘Wha’z-da-hell-u-doin’-makin-noises-idiot?!’ look. Even her stares were messed at times. Taking her place as lookout, she nodded to the Shadow, who then flew over to Chaonen. Chaonen tensed his legs, then sprang out of his crouch and grabbed Suit from behind; he quickly gagged Suit before he could shout anything, then knocked him out by hitting a pressure point on the nape of Suit’s neck. Suit went limp and Chaonen tied his hands and legs, then shoved him to the side. Taking the small camera Oni had handed him beforehand, he photographed Suit, then the laptop. With greater care, he took photographs of the chemists and their equipment from a distance. Finding Suit’s briefcase, he photographed any important looking documents.
        He looked over the openfile on the laptop. His eyes fell on the words ‘Nin’nako’ and ‘weapon’ immediately. “What is this?” he asked himself in a harsh whisper, but he didn’t have time to investigate further before he heard a guard coming close. He quickly ducked behind some crates, dragging Suit with him. Perhaps the guard would only glance about then leave.
        The guard stepped into the area, gun slinged over his shoulder. He looked around, then turned to continue his patrol. When suddenly a BANG sounded, blood and brains erupted from his head and he collapsed to the floor, dead. Chaonen looked up in surprise, at Ark, whom he could just see in the shadows. He could see that all the scientists had looked up and were wondering what that sound had been. The other guards were also making their way towards them. They would surely see the body and search for the culprit.
        Oni landed next to Ark and was shaking him furiously, demanding in harse whispers what the hell he was doing. He yelled at her to shutup and shoved her hard. Oni lost her balance and fell from the crates. Unable to catch herself, she hit the ground with a thud, knocking the breath out of her. Completely indifferent to this, Ark then turned his gun on the coming guards.
        “Adios,” he said, shooting the closest guard in the forehead. The other guards, threw themselves behind crates and opened fire on Ark and Oni. They had yet to spot Chaonen. The Shadow grabbed Oni’s sleeve in his mouth and tried to pull her out of the way. Chaonen crept over and helped out. Oni was painfully clutching her head, trying to get the room to stop spinning.
        “Are you alright, Oni?” Chaonen asked quickly. She nodded eventually, and grabbed the laptop.
        “Wez need ta getz outz of here,” she yelled, struggling to her feet. A shrill alarm ran out throughout the building. “Come onz!” She shoved the laptop into his hands and told him to meet back home.
        Glaring towards Ark, who had retreated behind a sturdier crate, she wondered what to do with him. Rummaging around in her sleeve, she pulled out a small bomb, setting the time, she climbed over the stack of crates, circling behind the guards. One of the guards caught sight of her and aimed his gun at her. She pushed herself against the crate as wood splinters burst through the air. Glancing down at the bomb, she had 10 seconds left. Deciding against it, she turned it off, glad it was the kind that could be turned off before 5 seconds were left. Sliding to the other side of the crates, she pushed with all her might, it was slow at first, but with another hard shove it toppled down on a guard. Turning the bomb back on with its 10 seconds set, she casually lobed it at a guard. Leaping to the other stack of crates where Ark was, as a small explosion boomed under her, she snagged his collar and had to drag him towards an exit. But the last guard wasn’t about to let them get away so easily. He ran after them still shooting, forcing them to take cover behind the crates again. More guards entered the scene, apparently backup had arrived.
  Ark unsnagged himself from her grasp with a growl. Slinging his snipper rifle over his shoulder, he pulled out two semi-automatics from somewhere in his cloak. Waiting for an opening, he fired back at the guards then ducked back. A painful cry indicating he had hit at least one of them. Some of the guards advanced towards the crated and were climbing them as the rest provided cover for them. Pulling out a gun herself, from her sleeve, Oni aimed for a guard, but one climbing the crate grabbed her leg. She hadn’t seen or heard them above the gunfire. She yelled, shooting him several times until he let go.
        Chaonen shoved over a waiter, much farther away and grabbed his silver tray. Flipping it over, he moved his hands over it, murmuring under his breath. The tray slowly turned from silvery to a milky white, then turned dark as it tried to focus on a image.
        Okay, Chaonen thought to himself. Oni has shot someone. Ark has cast a fireball. Oni is surprised and angry...He tapped the makeshift scrying mirror to get it to focus more clearly.

        Oni whirled at Ark as magik fire suddenly flamed into existance. She looked uneasily at the look in his eye. Ark threw the fireball at a group of 3 guards. The explosion distracted some of the guard, giving him a chance to shoot them too. A guard suddenly launched himself at Ark and grabbed him, knocking the gun out of his hand. Ark kicked him off but in a desperate grab, the guard dragged him down to the ground with him. The guard, flipped in mid-air and landed on Ark, breaking his own fall a little.
        Ark grunted as he hit the ground from the tall stacks of crates. He caught his breath again, just as the guard lunged on him with a knife. Ark moved in the knick of time to avoid a fatal blow, but didn’t get away unscathed. He screamed in pain, feeling the dagger plunge into his side. The guard pulled the knife out to finished him off; when Ark suddenly roared at him leaping to his feet and ripped out his throat with his bare hands. He grabbed the dieing body and threw it at the other guards.
        Oni, unsure of whether to join the fight, glanced out towards the scientists who were scrambling to pack the important things and load them onto hovercrafts out back. The large thing under the tarp had been the first to go; having been transported into a large cargo craft. She noticed all the Nin’nako containers were gone as well, most of the computer equipment too. Suddenly she jerked back to the fight. “Ark, don’t!” she screamed, but it was too late.

        Socara nervously watched the clock, sipping a glass of water every 2 seconds. Asia did what she always did when she was worried or nervous. She cooked. By now she had enough to feed about a group of 7 with plenty of leftovers. Socara could hear Asia humming to herself. “Where are they?!” Socara finally exclaimed, plopping sideways on the couch. The raven cawed softly, landing by her and stroked its head against her cheek. She absentmindedly scratched it between the wings.
        She tried to take her mind off things by memorizing everything in the room. She decided to start by the door. Alright, there was the simple door, peephole and door knob. By the was a brass umbrella stand with black umbrellas. Small closet for coats. She looked at the kitchen with Asia, then decided there were too many things. Eyes fell to the kitchen counter. Too many things. Back to the living room. Balcony windows with white curtains. It was snowing outside. Nice green plant in the corner. The pale sofa she was lieing one. A single seat by that. Torch lamp by that. Pale green marble-like coffee table with scattered magazines. Mostly about weapons, archeology, and video games. Doorbell ringing. Ringing again...”They’re back!” Socara finally shouted, after the idea had sank in. She rushed to the door with Asia behind her holding a ladle and a small pot.
        Flinging open the door, they greeted Chaonen with excitement and relief. Socara flung herself around Chaonen’s neck. “Thank goodness your alright!”
        “Yeah, I’m fine,” he said, shifting the laptop under his arm. “Hope Oni and Ark get back soon.” At that moment, Coniau opened the closet door.
        “You guys better turn on the news,” she said, helping herself to some of the food and taking a seat. She turned on the tv to the news. A report was already going.
        “-errorist act is what we believe this to be,” an police officer was saying. Behind him was the skeletal frame of a warehouse. Firefighters were trying to put the fire out. A small hovercraft zoomed into sight and a man in a suit got out. Another NIGHTMARE employee. “When the fire has been put out, we can investigate further.”
        “That idiot,” hissed Chaonen. He kept his scorn in check but he wasn’t pleased. He was still standing with Socara closely hanging onto him.
        “What fun, a bonfire,” said Coniau. “That where you and the weirdos were?”
        Chaonen nodded and Asia gasped. “I’m sure they’re fine,” said Socara. “Right, Chaonen?”
        Suddenly Ark teleported into the room and fell backwards onto the couch, his head on Coniau’s lap. His side was bleeding freely, though he covered it with a hand.
        “Oh, look who’s back,” muttered Coniau, patting the head on her lap. “Argh is that blood all over you and now me?!”
        Ark didn’t seem to have heard her, his eyes looked oddly glazed.
        “Ark! Are you alright?!” exclaimed Asia, running to his side and tried to get a good look at his wound. “Ark?! Ark, speak to me!” Chaonen and Socara watched from behind the sofa.
        “...gotta live the life you created inside you head,” he sang softly to himself, a dull smile on his face. His head lulled in Chaonen and Socara’s direction. He looked at them for a moment, the smile disappeared from his face as he watched them. Chaonen’s arm around Socara.
        “Ark, don’t move,” urged Asia, holding him down as he tried to get up, not taking his eyes off the two; a bright light was emitting from her hand that she was trying to hold over Ark’s wound.
        “Ark, stay down. You’re only hurting yourself,” Chaonen said in a soothing voice. He edge forward and put a hand on Ark’s shoulder, but Ark knocked his hand away.
        “Don’t tell me what to do, demon,” he snarled, fangs bared.
        Suddenly a hand swung around from behind him and covered his open mouth. Ark gagged, and swallowed something, then stood dazed. Oni moved her hand and retied the silk pouch she was holding.
        “Finally,” sighed Asia, healing as much of Ark’s wound as she could, everyone else was silent. Oni flopped on the couch, and nudged a still dazed Ark aside with her feet so he wasn’t blocking her light as she flipped through a book with the title Household Magics. Chaonen noticed that there were singed marks all over her face and some of her feathers looked like they’d been burned off. Her robe didn’t look very good either and her hair and fur were just slightly smoking still. He sat down beside her.
        “Are you alright? Where were you?” he asked her quietly.
        Oni nodded, finding what she wanted. How to Get Rid of Blood Stains With One Easy Spell. She looked happier when Socara hugged her from behind, extremely glad that Oni was alright.
        “Are there any healing potions in the house?” asked Asia., looking over at Oni.
        Oni shook her head. “Wes ran outz, can’t alwayz afford da stuff wes needz.”
        “Ark should be alright after a while,” said Chaonen, as Asia wrapped bandages around Ark’s wound, after cleaning it. Ark himself had sat down on the floor, staining the carpet with blood from his wound and hands. “I’ll take him to his room,” when Asia finished.
        When they were gone, Oni jumped over Coniau and the sofa to the other side. “Hey there,” grinned Coniau. “Oh, don’t tell me you’re gonna use ‘magik’ to get rid of all the blood that Ark had left?”
        “Dun know ofz NE ada way,” said Oni. “Well maybe some sponges...o’ a bandaid. Bandaids are magikal ya knowz?”
        “Bandaids?” Coniau muttered. Oni held her hand over the stains, her hand began to glow slightly. As she moved her hand over the stains, they disappeared.
        “Wow, that was cool, Oni,” exclaimed Socara. Oni’s face instantly went from tired to excited.
        “Hai, Soca?” she asked, a big smile on her face.
        “Hai,” nodded Socara, returning the smile.