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This article, New Challenges: Learn to Work Together or Die Alone, is property of Zicoihno.

PropertyThingy
"Endlessly judging you."

This article New Challenges: Learn to Work Together or Die Alone, is the sole property of Ashy and as such, please do not edit this article without my permission. If you wish to use or change this article in any beneficial way, please discuss with me...and be judged!

Enter Layla Magia: The Trainer from Hell

After academy hours were over, the five "aces" came from school in their usual demeanor.

" Hmph, so Drake, you ready for the mission. Of course I'll be standing in the spotlight." " You in the spotlight? Please, you can't even lay a finger on me, and you are thinking of things beyond your level." Drake insultingly said.

" What'd you say! You little... I'll teach you a lesson." Azuki shouted, when the door broke down and a purple haired mature woman came standing in front of them." Who are you!? Don't interrupt us, old hag." Azuki said. " Old hag you say? Shut up you bloody brats!" She shouted, intimidating all five students, including Richard who usually wasn't inclined to fear.

" W-who are you?" Richard asked." I am Layla Magia, your combat instructor, now, get ready and meet me in the arena in 20 minutes SHARP!" she shouted. All of them, including Drake was too scared to raise a word against her, and quickly moved out of the area.

" Hmph, dealing with obnoxious idiots, aren't I." Layla said to herself, leaving for the training arena.

"Lack of!" Layla gave a serious glare. "That about sums this team up, well I can't call it a team or a unit. Rather just a bunch of young mages who happen to be in the same place." She rolled her eyes at them. None of them uttered a word, only listened. Drake mentally noted that she was rather outspoken, kind of like his own mother, just younger.

No one could disagree with what she was saying, each of them knew it. Each of them had been yearning for action, to be out in the real world. They didn't take into a account the responsibilites of such things, and such things were essential to helping the Military effort. Richard could sense hard tests ahead. He figured they would need to defeat their own selfish prides in order to defeat those who trample on the innocent.

But that, well that would be very hard. Azuki and Drake depsite saying they would stop, continue their shoutng matches. Jin is silent as a mouse. Elbert is kind of in his own world. Now Layla didn't see much of this, she cleared her throat to get their attention. " Power isn't all that matter. You guys are strong, but not enough. And your team work is horrible, you guys would die in war." She said loudly.

Her words resounded in their minds. Drake raised a hand to speak. "So how far do you think we have to go. Till SENSHI can be a real team." He was interested in what her answer would be. She looked at him and at Azuki, "First off, you two are the main issue. This might take a while. Not only will I train you in teamwork, but help you develop your skills more. You guys should expect to spar eachother alot." Layla remarked.

Azuki raised an eyebrow. "So what kind of training do you have in mind. Layla-sensei?" She asked weakly, Azuki didn't expect that much. Elbert felt the need to cut in. "So you will be our only teacher?" She smirked faintly, it was time to get things moving."No I won't, just your main teacher. Oh and expect training lik never before. You guys are too used to the orderly academy training, this will all new to you." Layla replied, she put her hand on her hips.

"This ought to be good." Richard muttered. She looked over to him, "No laziness aloud either. You guys are going to learn a great deal. Just wait and see."

First Training Session, We're Playing Tag!?

" Alright you kids, this is your first Teamwork lesson, Today we are playing Gang-Up Tag, everyone know how to play right? Good! So, the objective is that atleast one of you five has to not get tagged within 30 minutes." Layla instructed, shocking SENSHI." What! We're playing TAG!" Drake shouted.

" I don't care what your personal opinion is. So you guys have to avoid these five. These people are Souryu Junko, Kuina Sanken, Shuren Hakumen, Ayame Hibiki, and Kanzaki." " So, these are who we have to avoid. Seems easy enough." Drake said, and Richard knew something was wrong with this game, but he couldn't quite pick it up, so he decided to play along.

" Don't underestimate them. Now, we start in twenty seconds, so start running!" Layla demanded, the unenthusiastic students had no other choice apart from weakly running away.

" So, Layla, what are you gonna give us after this done?" Kanzaki politely asked. " Don't worry, you'll get a nice book to read, and you might be able to make an artificial magical life form?" Layla smirked, making Kanzaki all the more enthusiastic." Alright, let's do this guys!"

While running away from the five taggers, Drake was getting absolutely furious at the fact that this was Teamwork Training. Although while Drake was thinking how it wasn't Teamwork Training, Richard had other things on his mind.

" So, this is Teamwork Training eh? She must have some meaning behind this training, although what is it?" Richard thought, scratching his head, when Kanzaki suddenly appeared out of thin air." What!?" Richard exclaimed, while Kanzaki was grinning.

" Damn!?" Richard thought up of a plan quickly, and used his agility to get into a large forest, where it was nearly impossible to find anyone within a hour." I've lost her, but how are the others faring?" Richard wondered to himself.

Meanwhile at the northern side of the area Jin was using all of his speed to avoid Kuina who was right behind him." This isn't as easy as I thought." Jin thought to himself, and stood still on a building he found." He's stopping?" Kuina thought to herself.

She was about to tag him, when in a moment, Jin flipped backwards, and dissappeared with his speed magic." So, he isn't going to give up easily." Kuina thought to herself.

While this was happening , Drake and Azuki were still arguing, even though they were being chased by both Souryu and Ayame, who were secretly talking about how their relationship could blossom." Hey Drake, stop running like an old man!" Azuki said in a insulting tone.

" Heh, if I'm running like an old man, you're running like an ancient zombie!" Drake said, as the two contnued to argue and Ayame and Souryu were getting dissappointed.

During this, Elbert was being chased by the legendary Scouter Shuren, who was nearly impossible to avoid." Heh, this isn't bad for a workout." Elbert told himself, casually smiling." Honestly, this isn't working, I must tell Layla." Shuren thought to himself, stopping, and pulled out a communciation Lachryma.

" Hey Layla, these kids are still being as annoying as ever, they're not getting the concept of this, should we move it up a notch?" Shuren asked, and Layla was as annoyed as ever and stopped communication, and moved to a large communication lachryma.

" Hey you annoying brats!" Layla shouted, letting everyone hear her anger, including Yotsuki, who was calmly drinking tea." You guys aren't getting anything are ya?! So I've decided that everyone is allowed to use magic, and you get tagged by being slashed with a sword. I'll give you ten minute's time to get together and figure out a PLAN!!!! If you understand then get to it!" Layla shouted, shutting off the Lachryma.

" Well, I better get mine out then." Richard pulled out his communciation Lachryma." Hey guys, everyone will meet up back at the centre, get there quickly." Richard said, the others reluctantly obliged and followed his command.

After a few minutes, all of SENSHI reached the designated meeting area. However, Azuki and Drake were still arguing while Jin and Elbert were off in their own world. Richard was thinking about what Rihanna said." Get to know them! Be their friends, and each of you should have one goal!"

" Alright, everyone listen to me. We have to win this thing, and for that we all must work together, and I really don't care if you don't want to right now. So now, who wants to win this?" Richard asked in enthusiasm, Drake was surprised to see him like this, but smirked.

" Fine, I'm in. I won't lose so easily." Drake said and Richard was relieved his best friend was on his side." Hey don't count me out!" Azuki said, making Elbert and Jin laugh." I guess we're in as well, so what's the plan?" Elbert asked.

" Well, first off, the fastest member of SENSHI is Jin correct? Then it's Me and Drake. So the plan is that Jin, Drake and I catch their attention through a little drama while you two hide somewhere where you cannot be found. While that's happening, us three will probably be caught, but you two will still won't be tagged." Richard explained, then Azuki interrupted.

" So after that, Elbert and I just have to keep away from the five chasers until 30 minutes is up." Azuki asked, with an eyebrow raised." Yes, although if they do find you, you guys just keep on going until you lose or win, whichever is possible. So anyone disagree?" Richard asked, and everyone kept silent. Then Drake took charge.

" Ok, Richard, you go east, and hold off Kanzaki and Ayame. Jin, go west and hold off Shuren, while I go north and hold off Souryu," Drake said, and everyone agreed." Alright, Azuki let's get to the southside." Elbert said, grabbing Azuki's hand. Drake then showed signs of envy in his face, but quickly calmed down and went his direction.


" Alright you brats, there is 15 minutes left of "tagging!" Come on and impress me if you can!" Layla shouted. Richard, Drake and Jin were running and their pursuers weren't far behind." You three better hold out!" Azuki thought in her mind, Elbert knew what she was thinking and just smiled.

" Don't worry they will be fine, but we have to hide don't we?" Elbert said. Azuki diligently followed and the two were hidden in a large forest, where nobody used to approach, but little did they know of certain dangers in there.

Meanwhile, the three "decoys" were running away from their pursuers." Damn, this better work Richard! Freeze!" Drake chanted, freezing the area around him, making it harder to break through.

On Jin's end, Shuren was quickly catching up and Jin knew he had to do whatever he could to hold him back." Wind Tunnel!" Jin chanted, boosting his own speed magic with wind magic, giving him a massive boost of speed for a whole minute, giving him a good distance from Shuren.

While Jin and Richard were facing their troubles, it had been over 10 minutes and there was a couple of minutes left till finishing, using this, Richard decided to be a little "tricky"." Shroud." Richard chanted, covering the whole area in mist making his enemies confused,

" Hey, time's up!" Layla shouted with her giant Lacrima, and everyone was glad it was over, especially the decoys, who were tired and used up much of their magical power." Well, we can go back now." Elbert said. They were about to leave from the forest when Azuki saw a shadow moving.

" What was that?" Azuki thought, when Elbert interrupted and asked." What happened?" " Keep up your guard, there's something here." Azuki said, as she activated her eye magic which helped her see through the forest." Ok, guess you take the lead." He said confidently, activating his Hyper Intuition at the same time.

"ROAAR!" A monsters roar was loud and clear to the ears of the two students and it pounced on Azuki who was quickly able to dodge the assault." Elbert go!" Azuki said, ordering Elbert to go on the offensive." Earth Hands." He chanted, creating many hands made out of stone which held the monster in place.

" There, that should do it." Elbert said peacefully, but this calm was short lived, and many other monsters had arrived." What!" Azuki exclaimed, and Elbert quickly got in front of her and pushed the monsters away." So, won't be as easy as I thought after all."

" Hey, don't get all heroic on me!" Azuki said, requipping a halberd, pike like weapon." Hey nice weapon there." Elbert jokingly remarked as he went serious and starting moving at high speeds, totally surprising Azuki." Stupid monsters get out of the way!" Azuki shouted, creating magical blasts from her halberd, disintegrating many monsters.

" Oy,oy. Don't get so hyped up." Elbert said, blocking an incoming attack from a monster, and defeating it with one blow.

After a long fight with many berserk monsters, Elbert and Azuki finally defeated them and got to the base, where everyone, especially Drake, was worried about them." Where were you two! What were you doing!?" Drake asked hurriedly to Elbert who comically replied.

" Don't worry, I haven't done anything to your girlfriend over there." Elbert laughed, and Drake and Azuki both blushed, with Azuki retaliated by hitting him on the head." Shut up you stupid idiot." Azuki shouted, and then went away, with her cheeks burning red.

After Elbert explained what happened, everyone went to their rooms, except Richard, who Layla had told to stay there." Well done Richard, on your first day, you displayed a brilliant strategy, but next time, remember that you must analyse all of your environment before you battle. You must keep the advantage and terrain to your favour." Layla instructed.

" Yes Maám, I will keep that in mind." Richard said, leaving Layla on the grounds alone." Well, well, these kids aren't that bad now are they Yotsuki?" Layla said, when Yotsuki came out of hiding."Indeed." He said as he smirked.

A Battle of Allies: Win it Together

While out of their comfort zone, the training was yielding its' results. Bonds were being formed, even if slowly. Jin was opening up more, trying to converse with the rest. Elbert was also being more outgoing witht he group. Of course Azuki and Drake were still going at it, much to the everyone's dismay. Layla was not pleased, but it was time to test their abilities. She figured it was time.

Gathered in the main training ground of the Task Force, the members of SENSHI stood in a circle, all dressed in customized training jumpsuits. Layla forced them to wear this, belieiving it can bring some sense of unity among dismay. Azuki scowled at Drake, the turned at smiled sweetly at young at young Jin. They all turned to Layla, whose footsteps were heard.

"Good, you're all here. It's time for more direct methods." Layla said, clapsing her hands. She looked around, waiting for a retort from the group. No one said a word. She smiled, this was getting somewhere. "Well I'm surprised theres no comments. Drake?" She looked over to an apathetic Drake. Azuki's presence didn't help his mood." Well today is gonna be all about combat. Two on Two, don't go all out, but show what you can do."

Elbert arched an eyebrow, simple math was seemingly being ignored."What about the fifth member. Theres five of us." He remarked. Layla placed her hands on her hips."Obviously kid. The fifth member will be a wildcard." Layla turned to the young mage next to Drake." That will be you Richard." The statment surprised all of them. "Wait so I just stand around.....Not bad." Richard said with a smile.

A devious smile crossed Layla's face.

"It won't be that easy Richard. You will forced to survey the issue. And the rest of your role....well...I will reveal that later on, when it's relevant." She remarked, her tone was serious as ever now. This was sounding interesting to them all. A two on two battle wasn't a normal way of doing things. Azuki was a bit skeptical. "So what's the big deal, if it's just another spar?"

" Because you will be fighting together with comrades you have never before. I have went over your battle logs from the Academy. Of the you 5, the only ones to fight together are Drake and Richard. That's a problem." she commented, the roof of the training dome began to open, via magical technology. "Wow, even opening the roof. So what are the pairs?" Drake said, gazing up at the blue sky.

Layla pointed at Drake and then at Jin. "You and Jin against Azuki and Elbert." The declaring of the matchup brought smiles to the faces of Drake and Azuki. It was "go time". Jin layed his hand on his hilt, he was ready for this. "Let's do this Drake. I'm ready to do this." Jin said, with an unusual tone of motivation in his voice.

Elbert smiled and looked over to Azuki, who, so unlady like, craaking her knuckles. Been a while since I saw you in action Azuki. I know I can rely on you, this should be interesting." Elbert said, confidently. Azuki flipped her hair, Drake narrowed his eyes at her eye catching smirk, but closely shook it off. " No need to tell me Elbert. I will not lose. I don't plan on letting them best me." She proclaimed.

The air of the room was getting interesting, the anticipation was delicious for Layla. This is what she wanted. She figured, they must see one anothers' abilites in action. Only then could they interact properly on the battlefield; be able to fight to their fullest extent. She looked over to Richard, who was just shiking his head.

"Good god. This matchup is gonna be a doozey." He said, this was gonna a sight for sore eyes.

Layla instructed Richard to move to the higher levels, to better monitor and survey the battle. She narrowed her eyes at the group. This was gonna be fun for her. " Alright, you must together take down your enemy. No critical attacks." She began to walk away, but peered over her shoulder." If anything gets out of hand, I will step in." She said, a sense of fear pervading the group.

Suddenly Azuki requiped her signature Halberd, a large one at that. She twirled it around her. They all instantly jumped away from one another. The battl was about ensue. Azuki look straight at Drake. "You know Drake. We've constantly competed against one another, but I've never actually fought you head on. This is like a dream come true." the young mage remarked. Elbert rolled his eyes, "They're so full of it." he thought.

Drake smiled, the statement was true. "True, shame you have to lose now. I'll cut that pride of yours down to where it should be." The statement enraged Azuki. She suddenly charged at Drake, ignoring all teamwork strategies. Elberts eyes widened in dismay. Drake ready himself to counter. From afar Layla rolled her eyes, not really surprised.

Azuki dashed forward towards Drake, ready to attack. Drake edged his foot, and threw back a hand. "Ice Make: Axe Downfall!" He shouted, a magic seal below him. Instantly multiple large ice axes formed and launched at Azuki. She gracefully dodged them. She launched into the air towards Drake and suddenly shot off a blast of magical energy.

Drake's eyes widened, he quickly dodged the blast, that created a small explosion. Jin suddenly appeared behind Azuki and clashed weapons with her. They suddenly exchanged blows. Jin skillfully parried her attack and went for her right side. She blocked pushed away from him. They landed on the ground and once again locked weapons.

Drake's eyes shifted to the right corner of his eyes, as a incoming kick came at his right flank. Drake blocked Elbert's attack; countered with roundhouse kick. Elbert dodged, they continued. Kick for kick, punch for punch. But Drake knew he couldn't keep up with Elbert any longer,as the guy was superior to him in physical capabilities. Drake dodged and jumped back, feet skidding on the ground.

"Flash Sword Style:Invasion" Jin cried. Azuki's eye went side to side as a after images appeared before her. "Damn this is annoying. I wanted to take Drake!" She exclaimed. They came at her with swords thrusting forward. Azuki parried the blades one after the other. The young woman clenched her teeth in irritation.

Sudden the glimmer of a new blade caught her eye, it was the real Jin. She had not fallen for his trick. Azuki sidestepped, to the escape the blade of his sword. She twirled her Halberd quickly and slashed forward at incredible speeds. Jin did his best dodge and block, but was being overwhelmed.

"This isn't really teamwork." Richard pondered. He noticed Drake pull away from Elbert and Azuki do the same. It seems the two of them really wanted to clash. Richard found it to be too interesting, he was just surveying after all. "They need to start working with their partners. Crap Drake get it together." He looked over at Layla, who was just silent in waiting.

Jin haulted his assault. "What the?" he said to himself. Azuki clearly just left and move quickly towards Drake. Elbert clenched his teeth. "They're taking this too personally." This sight of action was not gonna sit well with their devil of a teacher. Azuki slam her weapon down at Drake, who quickly blocked with an ice staff. "Your Ice-Make is quick as ever. Drake." She said cooly.

They both glared into each others' eyes, they had been waiting for this. Their weapons were locked. Drake slightly looked downward, noticing that his staff was slowly cracking. Jin suddenly stomped his foot, shocking al his comrades and even Layla. Richard raised an eyebrow.

"Drake! What are you doing! We are a team, we work together! This is getting utterly ridicolous, stop bickering all day and wanting hurt eachother. Because you guys, though you deny it, are friends. This is about teamwork, stop acting like an idiot." He exhaled before continuing. " Learn to work together or die alone!" Jin shouted.

His words resounded throughout the training dome. Layla's eyes widened in surprise. This was the kid who barely talked. Yotsuki had called him a silent talent, rather serene. Thinking back on Yotsuki words, Layla saw a different Jin right there. Drake, Azuki, Elbert stopped in their tracks, in total surprise as well.

Richard whistled. "I never thought I'd hear such words from Jin. Damn progress really does emerge from strife." the young mage said to himself. His role as the wildcard had been a bit boring and frustrating when it came to seeing his best friend act a fool. Azuki stepped away from Drake. She sighed and smirked. "I never thought you would speak up kid." He smile was endearing almost to Jin.

Drake sofly squinted his eyes alittle, thinking on those words one more time. He looked right at his partner, smiling. " You're right... together... we'll take them down." he said cooly. He appeared next to Jin suddenly. " Jin I will support you in manners of power and you assist me in speed. Watch my back!" Jin smirked at the statement.

"Together" he muttered. Azuki looked over to Elbert, who had ran over to her. " Let's do this!"Azuki shouted in excitement. Elbert nodded in agreement.

The duo dashed towards Drake and Jin. Jin suddenly lunged forward. Elbert decided to take it hard to him. But suddenly he saw the chills of ice. " Frozen Tundra..." muttered Drake under his breath. What had appeared to be Jin was just an after image, it suddenly faded away. A torrent of ice launching towards a shocked Elbert.

"Crap" he thought, with a pained expression. Jin had went on the offensive run as a diversion for Drake's spelll to get him. The suddenly a flash light passed Elbert. A barrage of magic blasts diverted the large torrent of ice instantly. Elbert smiled back at Azuki. "Thanks...partner." She smiled back, "No problem at all."

Elbert regained his composure and dashed towards his enemies. Azuki ran along side him. He extended his right arm. "Earth Spikes!" he shouted, his arm extending forward. Giant stone spikes gushed up from the ground beneath Drake and Jin. They skilfully dodged the lot of them. Drake back flipped backwards to find his opening.

Richard quickly turned to see Layla appear behind him. "What's up Wildcard.How would you rate this battle? Have they done well kid?" Layla asked, arms folding as usual. Richard was particularly confused with the woman. What was his role to be? Why would she ask such a question. He was a bit hesistant to answer.

"They've learned alot it seems." Richard replied, a bit nervous.

Layla quickly gazed over at the four of them, who were currently locked in combat. "I've seen enough. I had planned to let this drag out and you do something else. But that may ruin the mood. " She leaped from the balcony to the ground and walked over to the group. "Enough, stop it!" She commanded, all of them complied.

"What is it now?!" Drake roared. Azuki chuckled a little. " Layla-senpai, Drake seems angry." she said tauntingly. Drake straightened up his posture, ignoring Azuki's comment as well. But it seemed more playful then out of spite. "You guys are finally letting go of stupid things. I can actually see you guys as a team. But it's time to call it day." Elbert cracked his back a little, how soothing it was.

"So we are done with trainig for now." Elbert asked out of pure need for a break. Layle nodded in agreement. "For the next few days, go relax and focus on your Academy training as normal. Think over things. Next time will be the final initial exercise; decide if SENSHI will be a capable team." the woman remarked. Richard had joined up with them.

She suddenly began to dissapate with the wind. "Bye till next time...." her voice echoed. Drake scratched his head. "I guess it's time to head home." He turned to Azuki." That was fun, maybe we will finish another time." Azuki narrowed her eyes at Drake. The only academy cadet she would admit she can't handle all by herself. Elbert laughed loudly, "Good times this was. Azuki and Drake are finally agreeing a bit!"

Richard yawned and stretched his arms out. "That's that. Let's go!" he exclaimed. Azuki shook her head, an amused smirk on her face. "You lazy clown." Azuki couldn't help but chuckle some more. This was the sweet side of Azuki, few men ever saw. Drake could not deny, it drew him in. Azuki spent much of her time standing up for the "weak-kneed" female students at the Academy.

Though she was a beauty, most guys steered clear of her. Competing with Drake was her stand as a "strong " woman. Drake shook his head alittle, smiling, he could not believe the things going through his mind. Azuki caught this in the corner of her eye; blushed a little. She turned to leave. "I'll be going now. See you idiots at the Academy."

After two days of intense training, it was time for a serious break. Academy trainging was not challenge for them anyhow. They had to learned to work as a team for the most part. The greatest threat to their unity had been broken, something new possible coming from it too. Drake sighed. " Now this, this is what I have been wanting." he thought to himself, with a slight smile.

Back from Training, a new SENSHI has arrived: Downtimes

" YAAAWN! I'm beat, Rihanna, I'm gonna sleep. Good night!" Richard yawned loudly and dumped himself on his bed." Hehe, as usual, well, he's going through a hard time I guess I can't blame him at all." Rihanna said to herself, finishing the cleaning and heading to bed.

" Well, well. Today was a nice day, it seems that our team should pass the test, but what will the test be?" Richard pondered turning around and around, until he fell of his bed, and hit himself." OW! Man, I guess I shouldn't stress out. I've got academy tomorrow, I better sleep before I get beaten up by Rihanna again!" He told himself, relieving his stress and going to sleep.

Several hour later.....

People could not believe there eyes, what a marvel. Was it a dream or some prank? In class, Azuki and Drake werenot arguing; were sitting across from one another. The very idea left even their teacher speechless. Before the teacher, like all Academy classrooms, were elevated seats. Azuki was sitting one row ahead of Drake, and Richard was next to him sleeping.

Ignoring their studies, the other students murmured amongst themselves. Azuki just sat there, arms folded across her chest, staring off into space. Drake was slouched over his desk, cheek resting on his right palm. The akward silence was getting annoying, she had had enough. A vein popped on Azuki's head.

"Are we gonna get on with class or what!" Azuki shouted, rolling her eyes in annoyance. People were making way too a big a deal about her and Drake deciding not to argue today. She just was not in the mood and figured to leave it after the final test Layla had in the works. Julia wasn't present today, something that bothered Azuki.

Richard, however, was fast asleep. In an effort to not unlock the wrath of Azuki's temper, the teacher continued to lecture the class. The words being said were going in one ear and out the other for Drake. He was happy for rest period, but wondering what the next test would be was bothering him. He looked around, but there was nothing around to keep him interested.

"SENSHI is going well now, it seems." He shook his head. "I need to break from that for now, and just relax." he pondered. There was no comabt training, or any other technical classes today. Seems it was all bookwork for now, a waste in Drake's eyes. He looked over at the bum next to him, and nudged him quickly. Richard suddenly jutted up, thinking something was up.

" Its fine Richard, looks like no physical anything today." He whispered, cupping his mouth to divert his voice at Richard, only. Richard groaned a little, no too pleased with the news. "Damn it, oh well." Richard remarked. This wasn't the first time they would have to endure annoying things. But even if this was the Military, it was still a school.

The teacher signaled them to leave the class and switch to their next session. Another strategic session most likely, that was the main aim of the theoretical classes. Drake and Richard casually waltzed out of the room. "Onto another boring class.There should be more physical training in this place, it's the military damn it." Richard remarked, a little annoyed. " You already know about the four pillars...." Drake knew Richard was just being lazy.

Richard shurgged and began to walk, Drake following. The halls were full of people, as usual, yet everyone was in a hurry it seemed. Since SENSHI, they had not been thinking much of Academy matters. Gossip, fights, events, etc were on on their minds. Drake turned his head slightly to the left, to look out the hall lining windows; gaze at the sun a little.

BAM!

He had bumped into someone all of a sudden. He knew he was at fault. Drake turned to see who it was that he had bumped into, the flash of blue hair startled him. He had done it now. Azuki clenched her fists. Richard smirked almost instantly, even if it was crude, he knew this was entertaining.Most of the people continued to pass by ignoring the scene, since they had seen so many times before.

Azuki fidgeted comically, holding in her sudden rage of being bumped into; by the same guy who she wanted to beat in everything. A sly smile crossed Drake's face, he was in the mood all of a sudden. Pondering on words to set her off. "Someone's mad..." he remarked softly. Azuki's felt the fire that was her rage increase, ten fold. Drake had some nerve to piss her off just like that.

Drake kept his eyes on her, waiting for one of her infamous retorts on why he "sucks". Normally Azuki would let it out and let the whole world know, but this wasn't the time. Azuki exhaled, not giving in to Drake's instigating. "I'm not...in the mood. Drake." She turned and walked off promptly. Those listening in were speechless at what had just happened.

Drake was left in utter awe. Azuki Isshi didn't give him her two cents? What was that about? Drake shook his head, something was wrong. "Maybe her dog died? Does she even have a dog? Where is that Julia." Drake pondered on what was going on with Azuki, for her to not be ready to pounce, was strange. He looked over at Richard, who looked a little let down. "I was expecting flares and explosions, not that." Richard replied comically.

The young Vista sighed at the statement. " How about you and I go check out what's up, after classes?" Drake asked, a tone of genuine worry. Richard could not refuse his best friend on checking up on a comrade. "Fine, fine man." Drake tilted his head slightly in question. "But where does she hang out after school?"

Richard slapped his forehead.

"Oblivious to your enemies huh. Well her parents have a restauraunt in the city, so we'll go there." The young mage leaned on a near by wall. Drake nodded in agreement.


The duo walked through the streets of the city near the Academy. Drake had been here a few times, but did not normally come here, unlike his companion. Richard was munching on a candy apple, nothing like an after school treat. "So where do we go from here?" Drake asked, looking around aimlessly.

"Well it should be the biggest restauraunt near the town square. It's supposedly very popular aorund here, I've yet to go though." Drake scratched his head, "To think a woman like Azuki can cook. Surprise.." he remarked cooly. "You should be more worried about what she'll say when she sees us. I see that Halberd coming out." Richard said, he was in no mood for conflict.

Drake didn't mind the chance of that. He was actually, though he'd never say it outright, worried about her alittle. She was being a bit quiet today. Sure she shouted at the same clown guys, but was acting strange around Drake. Outside of SENSHI related things, they could still bicker and fuss.

"It's there." Richard pointed diagonal to them, towards moderately large buidling. "Looks like they closed up early." the young mage remarked, wiping some sweat from his forehead. Drake was wondering why he was the only person unaware of these things, though he figured it was attributed to his tendency to spite her. The two young mages stepped into the building.

"Hello?!" Richard called, they noticed there was no one in sight. Drake surveyed the empty room. "Where is everyone?" Suddenly a purple-haired woman walked from the back over to them quickly. "I'm sorry, but we are closed." The woman wore a concerned expression, she was sorry to be an inconvinience. "You see, my husband is out of town. So, we won't keep things running very long during his absence." the woman remarked.

"No, no." Richard raised his hands a little, to keep her attention. "We didn't come here for food. But to check on Azuki Isshi." Richard said calmly. The last statement caught the woman off guard. She never expected this to happen, but it made her happy for some reason. "And your names are?" she asked, folding her arms across her chest.

She seemed interested in finding things out. The woman noticed their bags, it was evident that they went to the academy. "Well I'm Richard." He pointed to his side with his thumb. " And that's Drake." he replied. She narrowed her eyes at the black haired mage."That sounds familiar." she wondered. She had some idea who Drake was, but couldn't put her finger on it.

"MOM!!! HELLO?!" shouted a female voice.

Azuki trudged out the back room, in a server's outfit. She had been calling her mother for a while now. She looked over to her and her eyes widened in shock. She suddenly haulted movement. "What the heck are you guys doing here?!" She cried. She had no problem with people seeing her in her server outfit.

But, for some reason, she did not want Drake to see her like this. It just built up as serious embarrassment. "Mom, why are Drake and Richard here? Why would you just let them in." Ignoring her daughter's words, the woman turned back to the two young men. "Wait, are you two Drake Vista and Richard Buchanen? You go with my daughter to the Military Academy?" she asked, earnestly. They both nodded in agreement.

She narrowed her eyes at the black haired young man, silenty approving of her daughter's subconcious crush. Interesting that this was the source of her daughters desire to be better, also the one who her daughter, as said by her, wanted to pummel into the ground. She chuckled and looked over at her daughter."I'll be in the back."

Azuki clenched her teeth in annoyance. There was an akward silence for about a minute, none of the three saying a word. Then Azuki decided to get to the bottom of things. "What do you two want?". Her tone was gilitterd with boiling rage, about to explode. "Just to see if one of SENSHI's best is fine." Drake replied sharply, he put his hands in his pockets. Her eyes widened in surprise, she never expected the two of them to care.

She walked over to them. Suddenly she stuck Drake in the stomach, and hard. He flinched but did not move an inch from his position. Azuki smiled at the two of them. " Tch Worry about yourselves, but thanks for that anyhow. I've just been worrying about SENSHI stuff." Drake's hands flared before her. " What the hell?!" He shouted. Azuki chuckled at his reaction. "I just felt like punching you" Azuki yawned a little. " Yea it felt right. I'll see you guys tommorrow." Azuki remarked, she turned and walked away.

Not conventional, but a hell of a team, this SENSHI. Drake figured big things were on the horizon. The thought made him smile.

The Finale: SENSHI's Greatest Test

The day had finally arrived, it was time for SENSHI's final test. This had their reputation and team on the line, althogh nobody in the team knew what the test was, considering the training they have had, they knew it wasn't going to be easy.

" Wow, it seems after all that nervewracking waiting we are doing our test here? But what is the test?" Azuki looked around the empty arena where nobody excluding her was there. Then she saw a shadow come out of the entrance, where Richard came out from, yawning.

" What are you doing! You understand this is a test right?!" Azuki shouted, Richard replied." Well, is there any point in stressing out is there?" Richard scratched his head, and Azuki noticed that he had a sword sheathed in his hand.

" So you are ready for this battle eh Richard?" Drake said, coming out from the other entrance." Hey guys whats up?" Elbert asked raising his hand." So is everybody ready?" Jin asked from another entrance. Richard was happy that everyone had started to get along, even Azuki and Drake weren't arguing.. as much anyway.

" Oh, SENSHI is here?" A feminine voice declared, that voice made the male members of SENSHI shiver, but they turned around anyway." Layla-Sensei!" Azuki exclaimed happily." So, are you guys ready for this test, by the way, it is on a completely different level from the other tests we've done." Layla said, smirking as a shadowy figure emerged from the top of the stadium.

" So, everybody ready?" The man was none other than Yotsuki, the leader of the Covert Special Task Force, and the one who formed this team." Of course! But what is the test!" Drake shouted, Yotsuki playfully smiled, and jumped down, landing on both feet.

" Well, the test is quite simple really, but the question is, how hard is it?" Yotsuki said in circles, Richard wondered for a moment, and then was shocked, he realised what the test was and immediately drew his blade, Drake and the others were surprised.

" So, you have figured it out Richard? Indeed, the test is simple. You must fight me." Yotsuki said, even if he did say it playfully, the words had a menacing threat behind them that the teens could recognise. However SENSHI this time knew it wasn't going to be easy, and instantly got into battle position.

" So shall we begin?" Yotsuki asked. Drake as usual charged in for a direct attack, but this time Richard knew what the plan was." Azuki go to Yotsuki's right! Jin, go behind Yotsuki! Elbert, when I tell you, go and back up Drake ok?" Richard said, everyone agreed and went to their designated positions.

" Ice Magic:Thousand Shards!" Drake chanted, then surrounding him was many shards of ice which were all aimed at Yotsuki. They fired at him and Yotsuki quickly blocked the ones near him with his sword, and dodged the rest of them with his great speed, and aimed his blade towards Drake.

" Elbert, MOVE!" Richard commanded with great authority, and Elbert using his Hyper Intuition and combat skill quickly blocked the attack. Jin then drew his blade and chanted." Flash Sword Style:Invasion." Once he chanted that, he had then created many clones of himself which attacked Yotsuki, and he mixed himself in there as well.

" I know the perfect way of dealing with this. Nake!" Yotsuki chanted while blocking, creating a red energy blast which not surprisingly, defeated all the clones with Jin being greatly injured." Azuki, let's go!" Richard said. Azuki and Richard moved to attack Yotsuki who chanted." Thousand Hands:Bright Sky Cannon!" Yotsuki chanted.

Suddenly many red pillars of energy appeared before Richard and Azuki, and then exploded at close range, defeating both of them with one shot." Richard, Azuki! Damn it, Elbert let's move!" Drake shouted, Yotsuki then saw that he had his dad's look in his eyes, and raised his hand.

" The test is finished." Yotsuki said, the students were both surprised, but happy that this impossible battle was over." But we didn't beat you!?" Drake shouted, Yotsuki just smirked." Did you think you could beat me?" Yotsuki asked, Drake realised what a stupid question he asked and just rubbed it off.

" So, what was the test about?" Azuki asked, Yotsuki just replied." What did the five of you demonstrate in that battle?"

All five of them were silent for a moment, then it dawned on all of them. "You mean Teamwork?" Azuki commented, skeptically. "We went through that danger to show our teamwork?" Yotsuki smirked, he would expect an answer like that from Azuki. "Just think of it as sealing the deal, and the deal is SENSHI." he replied promptly. Drake scoffed at the statement.

Jin uttered no response. He had wanted more or a fight, but that was that. Drake walked up to Yotsuki. "So what's your decision on SENSHI?" Drake asked, foldning his arms. The rest had huddled around the General, to hear his final words.

"Looks like SENSHI is a...yes." Yotsuki replied calmly. The news made everyone happy, though they didn't show it.

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