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"Endlessly judging you."

This article New Hardships: You Live and You Learn, 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!

The Day We Grew Up

The Headquarters of the Fiore Royal Military, among other things, was serene and beautiful. The grounds were massive as any base tenfold, this was the heart of the Kingdom of Fiore's military power. On the western end of the base, near the Central Mission Office stood the large airship hangars. As the name implies the many airships off the Military docked here when at the main HQ. Three brave souls have traveled to get here.

They hadn't talked about it with one another, asked or even brought it up. For the last week one thing has been on the minds of Drake, Richard, and Azuki, that was Yotsuki's proposal. That night had evidently changed their lives and they percieved things.A week ago today, Yotsuki asked if they would join him and form a special unit made up of the strongest cadets of the Academy.

The idea was tempting in and of itself. For one Drake and Richard were particularly frustrated with being stuck in training camp despite having the skills to be on the battlefield. This would be their chance to shine. While ambitious, Azuki was not all that frustrated with things. But nonetheless this was temptation at its' finest.

Each were walking down seperate corridors, having no idea if all or if any of them would show up. This was the fateful day to make a decison they could regret or be thankful for. There was no turning back now, it was either grow up or don't show up. They all had one question on their minds: What to expect?

Drake walked through the final stretch of corridors into a massive hangar, there were many airships there for maintinence. He sighed, "Well it's the day....Today is it". He kept thinking about all the possibilities, wondering what his dad would think as well. Footsteps approached, Drake looked over to another corridor to see who was coming. Richard emerged from the hall, a bored expression on his face.

"I knew you would show up." Drake smiled as he walked over to Richard. They shook hands. "As did I for you. This was one of those for yourself choices you know." Drake nodded in agreement. "Did you put any serious thought into it or did you just decide this morning? Be honest." Drake remarked. Richard smiled and scratched his head. Both were caught off guard by the sound of footsteps again.

"Well it seems you two showed up huh." said a female voice. Richard shook his head, "It's Azuki, you know you could be more polite." She didn't respond to Richard's words. She walked over to them but straying away from Drake. The both of them seem to be avoiding eachother, furthermore the words oher mother were annoying the heck out of Azuki.

Drake smirked, "Seems we're all here then." Azuki exhaled as she leaned on the wall. "All there is now, is to wait." she said. Richard looked at Azuki and then at Drake. He scratched his head. "Drake and Azuki on this team? I don't see this working out well, just gotta wait and see how it turns out." Azuki ran her fingers through her hair a bit. "I wonder how good these other members are though." Drake snickered at the comment.

Azuki suddenly bolted from the wall for a moment, with her finger pointed straight at Drake. "Don't think because we are joning this squad, that our rivaliry is over." She walked up to Drake. "It's only beginning Drake Vista and this is no laughing matter Richard." Azuki meant business with her words. " about chanelling that against real enemies" said a male voice.

Yotsuki was standing across from them. Drake and Azuki quickly turned from eachother, but she turned to look at Yotsuki. "From this I know all yours' decisions. I'm sure you thought long and hard, if not then enjoy the ride." He tapped his cane on the ground, "We won't be talking here, but at my place, the main HQ base of the Covert Special Task Force."

He turned away from them. "Drake Vista, Richard Buchanen, Azuki Isshi, today is the first day of the rest of your lives till you can become commisioned officers. I can't tell you what to expect, just expect the unexpected." Yotsuki pointed to a small airship, that would be their ride to his base.

They got onto the small airship, meanwhile, Richard was highly anxious to see their comrades, but he was distracted from his train of thought with Azuki's and Drake's constant bittering." Could you two keep it down!" A male voice shouted, and intimidated both Drake and Azuki, as a blue haired man turned to look at them.

" Honestly, you people need to be quiet." He said, as he returned to piloting the airship. Soon enough, they had reached an isolated area, with a large base in the center." Is this the place?" Azuki asked, as Yotsuki smirked and slyly replied." You can think of it like that, or something else?" He said, as Azuki was confused by what she mean't and as the aircraft landed, all three students had jumped off.

" Follow me." Souryu said, as Drake and the others had willingly followed, with Richard still thinking about Yotsuki and his motives, when they reached a magically protected door, which Souryu opened, while Drake and Azuki were dumbfounded at who the last two members of the "group" were.

" Oh, it's you two? I should've guessed. Well I sort of did anyway. haha." Richard chuckled, as Drake and Azuki had regained their composure." So we are all here, now, you guys need to get acquainted, so I'll leave you be." Yotsuki said, as he left with Souryu.

Azuki was not really in the mood to make friends. Apparently the two other members were well known Elbert Newgate and first year prodigy Jin Terumi. They all knew eachother slightly, though Azuki had never met Jin before. All 5 mages were well known throughout the academy.

Annoyed at Drake more than usual, Azuki was sitting over near the corner. "This is akward." Elbert said with a nervous smile. Richard patted him on the back, "You already know Elbert, all they do is fight." Drake was leaning on a wall, and Jin was silent. This wasn't exactly a heart warming "getting to know eachother" moment. The three who had just arrived knew Elbert somewaht, the same could not be said for Jin.

Drake walked over to the silent Jin. "So kid you're Jin huh?" Drake put his hand out to shake hands. Jin looked at the hand and just politely nodded."Oh sorry personal space." Azuki quickly scoffed at the remark, but Drake just ignored. Rubbing his temples, Elbert knew something needed to be said.

He stomped his foot. "Guys enough. We are a team, soon or later we will take on dangerous missions. Stop bickering! Azuki and Drake! We need to get along when we are here. I don't care about at school, but learning to tolerate eachother could ensure our safety." Elbert sighed, he had said what needed to be said. Richard took a seat, this was kind of funny for him.

Azukia and Drake looked at eachother. "I guess we can, well here at least." Azuki nodded in agreement. "If he is willing to drop it here, then I can bear it." Elbert smiled and clapped his hands. "This is what I like to hear." Elbert didin't want the two strongest students of the academy being at odds all the time. "Well then we can move forward from here. I am honored to work with you guys" Jin suddenly remarked.

"Wow you decided to talk. Good to work with you as well." Richard said, as he leaned in his chair. "So what do we do now?" No one really knew, everyone had blank stares. Azuki crossed her legs and relaxed a alittle. She sighed at the situation at hand. "Great I'm stuck with a bunch of dudes in this place, not knowing what is next on the 'to do' list." She leaned back in the chair, her irritation radiating from her.

Out on a balcony, Yotsuk and Souryu were standing. "Is it wise to entrust them with such...well.... missions?" Yotsuki scratched his head. "If they were in a guild, they would probably be doing the same. Don't underestimate them due to their age." Souryu didn't want Yotsuki to thrust the young mages into too much danger, so he was a bit skeptical.

But his aloof and witty leader had other ideas. "It's time for them to show their skills. I have faith in them Souryu." Yotsuki turned to his subordinate. "I hope you can have faith as well." Souryu sighed, "You were always like that. It's about time for their first mission then." Souryu said with a slight smile. Yotsuki nodded and pointed at Souryu, "True, but don't you need to get home to Ayame?" The reminder shocked Souryu, who promptly vanished to not forget about his fiancee.

The First Mission! Begin!

" Excuse me sir!" A male voice shouted, as he entered the area where Yotsuki was immediately." Yes, Mr. Renge?" Yotsuki asked, he leaned back in his chair and was fiddling his thumbs."It's about that dark guild we have been monitoring over in north Fiore." The General narrowed his eyes at Renge. "And?" Renge cleared his throat, "Well we have it that they have moved and now have a whole town under their thumb. Terroism essentailly." Yotsuki sighed, he knew this would happen; that they had to act now.

He stroked his chin. Maybe it was time to send them into battle. Yes they were inexperienced, but this was a small dark guild and they had way more than enough power to suffice. "Well, I guess it's time." The messenger was a little confused about his superior's words. Yotsuki rose to his feet and swifltly exited his room.

He came to find Drake and Azuki having their usual shouting match, the bickering was like second nature. Yotsuki marveled at how two young peopel could argue so much over so little. But he suspected that was their ideal way to connect. Drake turned to Yotsuki, " Something happen?" The others also looked to see what was up. Yotsuki exhaled, he had left his signature cane in his office.

"You may be ready in body, but in mind not so much. But I am sending you all on a mission." Richard interjected, wondering about the situation. "Mission? As in?" Yotsuki looked around at the group. "We had been monitoring this small dark guild in north Fiore, but it seems they have taken action and are not oppressing some town. I guess you know what I am saying." Everyone was in shock at the revelation.

"Isn't it kind of early for such a mission? You barely know us." Yotsuki smirked, "Youy have the power, now just use your heads and don't cause trouble." He looked over at Azuki."I leave that to you." He could trust Azuki to keep Drake and Richard in line with their behavior.

" Yes sir. Alright team, we have to get ready, and begin moving, including you two!!" Azuki shouted at Drake and Richard, who were forced to move reluctantly. They were soon on their path, and were heading towards the town, via magical cart ridden by a covert force member.

" So, when are we gonna get there?" Elbert wondered as the whole group didn't reply, creating an awkward situation for him and everyone else." Hehe, WHY DO WE HAVE TO DO THISSSS!!!!!" Azuki thought in her mind, as they soon reached the area, and they were shocked, as the villagers were being held captive, including children.

" DAMN THEM!!!" Drake shouted as Richard restrained him." If you act rashly we'll be in deep trouble. I'll start first. Mist Imprisonment" Richard chanted, as a massive gust of wind came from the south, bringing about a large, dense mist which covered the entire plain.

" I'll take care of the rescuing! Hyper Dying Will, activate!" Elbert chanted, as he created an aura around himself which allowed him to effortlessly see through the mist. He then directed his earth magic towards the captives." I'll take care of the captives, Richard, Drake and Azuki, please fight off the dark mages." Jin said, as he effortlessly flashed to where the prisoners were.

Richard stepped onto the ground with a daze, he was running numerous strategies through his head. Azuki and Drake landed on the ground, but ignored one another. Seems they did not want to work together, as usual; yet had to. "How the hell are we supposed to see in this mist?" she shouted in annoyance. Drake looked around, but the mist pervaded his vision.

"Richard, we can't attack with this stuff." Richard nodded, "Alright alright, don't get your panties in a notch Azuki." The mist cleared, as Richard released the spell. Several underling mages were surrounding the prisoners, but they had soon fallen to Elbert's strength. Elbert grappled one and choked his neck. "What's going on here!"

The man uttered no response. Elbert choked harder. "Wait..wait" the man muttered as he was being choked. Elbert loosened his grip, "Talk, you guys are going to far." Elbert dropped the man to the ground. The mage stumbled to his feet. "Well this is just an order from the 'boss' and stuff. That's all I know." he replied nervously, fearing more strangling courtesy of Elbert.

"Why would some small time dark guild try a stunt like this." Azuki walked up to the two, she has a hand on one hip. The risk they were taking was seirious for a 'nobody dark guild'. "Are you guys after something in this town?" she asked. The man shook his head. "I don't know anything." Suddenly Drake appeared behind and knocked him out.

Azuki widened her eys in shock. "What are you-" Richard tapped Drake on the shoulder. "What's wrong with you. Stop being so reckless and hasty. There goes our info." Drake shrugged off his friend's hand. "As if. We can do this without what ever tainted information that rat is spewing." Drake replied quickly. Both Richard and Azuki were confused at why Drake was being so hasty.

Jin calmy walked over to the team. Seems things were in slight disarray. "Drake, you can't be too hasty. Cool off." Drake didn't bother to look at Elbert, he clenched his teeth." We are being too slow. We know they are in this town. Let's just take out these sorry upper mages of this group." Drake said, he stuck his hands into his pockets. "Such impatience is uneeded, Drake is being way too hasty." Richard thought.

JIn coughed to get the others' attention. "Now we need to get a move on." The others nodded in agreement. Richard narrowed his eyes at the fallen criminal. "All we need to do is take out the top dogs of this guild, which won't be much of challenge. Except that they likely took hostages." He looked over at Drake. "Patience is a virtue. I'm surprised I have to remind you of that." he said sourly.

Azuki stomped her foot. "You heard the kid, we need to get a move on."she shouted. Azuki suddenly dashed away. The others looked on in shock, knowing they could only do one thing, follow her. They caught up with her as they entered the heart of the town. Azuki took the lead, as she guided the group through the town.

Drake sighed, this wasn't going well for him. Elbert's eyes shifted to the right, as he sensed something. "We've got company." he said. On top of the rooftop stood 3 men. "Some random youths trying to end my fun?" said one of them. " Shame for them to die so young." Little did you threee know about the skill level of these young mages.

Azuki kissed her teeth, "I am gon-" Elbert stood before Azuki with an arm stretched out, to block her path. "I'll handle this." he said calmy. Elbert clenched his fist. He, himself, was annoyed by this guild's actions. They had put so many innocent people at risk. He peered over his shoulder. "Drake, Richard, Azuki, Jin....I will deal with them. You all just sit tight." Drake and Jin had no retorts.

"Someone is confident." one of the man said with a sadistic smile. Elbert suddenly appeared on top of the roof top. The three dark mages' eyes widened in shock and tried to react in defense. But they were too slow, Elbert kick one staight into a building; then knocked the adjacent one, followed by a kick to the head to the final one.

In seconds, the enemy had been defeated. Drake mentally scoffed at this weak mission. But then that was probably the point of the low level mission. Azuki narrowed her eyes at Elbert, "That was the point wasn't it. To see our teamwork. Man we sucked at it. Yotsuki is a sly one." she thought. As the mission was over, now it was time to face Yotsuki.

Welcome to the Team: It's Official!

"Hahaha I expect that." Yotsuki chuckled as he tossed a cookie in his mouth. Souryu shook his head as his superior was too amused to be serious. Yotsuki set down the bag of cookies. All 5 of the young mages before him, in his office. " You guys SUCK at working together. Oh it's too funny really." Yotsuki remarked laughingly, as he wiped a tear of laughter from his eyes. The young mages hung their heads.

"You know, you guys need to get it." Azuki looked up at him with a cocked eyebrow. "Get what?" she asked. Yotsuki sighed as he stood up and walked aorund his desk. " The essence of strenght lies in teamwork. but you will learn tha in due time." Drake rose his hand to speak, but Yotsuki stopped him.

"Don't worry about it kid. Now I'm sure this is what I want, you 5 are my hopes personified. It's gonna be hard though. You can run now, are you all sure this is what you desire." he remarked. Yotsuki surveyed their faces, and saw no doubt. All looked ready to brave death, if need be. Suddenly Yotsuki clapped his hands cheerfully, "But first we need a name."

Richard raised his hand instanty, narrowingly beating Elbert's attempt. Yotsuki pointed at him. "How about Elite Mage Destoyers!" he exclaimed with a thumbs up. He looked over to Drake, who was ignoring him. "No how about Secret Mage Military Unit."shouted Elbert. Souryu slapped his forehead. Richard gave Elbert a mean look, "Heck no, I say Covert Military Legends Unit." Azuki joined in with Souryu with this slap to the forehead.

"You Lazy idiot! Who the heck would call it that! You need a strong and good name to go with. Even if we are secret." she shouted. Richard tilted his head in question. "So what's your name idea?" he asked cooly. Azuki twirled a lock of her long blue hair around her index finger, as if she was a bit embarrased; yet excited. "Well swe could call it the Covert Special Evil Destroyers, and I'll be team captain." she said with a nervous and yet beaming smile.

"How's that any better than Richard's names." Drake thought to himself. This wasn't going great, and all Yotsuki saw was stupid names being proposed. But it was just another game. He tapped his cane onthe ground, catching the others' attention. Souryu was relieved at the sight. "Yea all those names are not good. Sorry to break it to you. I will handle it."

Azuki raised an eyebrow. "And what's yours?" she asked. Yotsuki smirked. "The name of this special Unit will be SENSHI." Smiles crossed the faces of everyone. That was a pretty nice name they thought. "So what's it stand for? SENSHI?" Richard asked in anticipation. "Stand for?" Yotsuki scrathched his head. "I just thought it sounded cool, it's not some epic acronym kid." he replied.

Azuki shook her head, but could not deny how great it sounded. "Let's go with that one. "Drake said. Everyone nodded in agreement. "Well SENSHI, goo home and rest. In two days. It's gonna get real, training begins. You'll learn what the military is really like." Yotsuki remarked with a devious smile.

Man to Man Talk

After the mission, Drake had decided to head home. It was the afternoon, he had just neared the door. But his parents knew he had some school "stuff" to do. His dad knew the truth, unlike his mother, at least no yet. The mission had been nothing special, but it was apparent to him that his team had no teamwork skills. Even him and Richard had tension, and they're best friends.

Drake stepped into the huge home, he walked through the foyer towards the kitchen. No servants in sight? Drake looked around. "I guess it's their day off" he thought. Drake shrugged to himself and went into the kitchen, he poured a glass of water and chugged it. He sighed in satisfaction.

"Things have been getting interesting. I think it's time for my thinking spot." Drake continued out of the room through one of the hallways. On the west wing was a veranda, where he could relax and think. He usually goes there to think. Drake figured this to be the prime time. As he walked he thought on past events, his life had become much more interesting.

he walked out on the veranda to see his parents, and his father was in casual clothes surprisingly. He was leaning on the rail, with his mother leaning on her side against him. They were flirting it seemed, something that made his skin crawl. They were his parents for god sakes. They stopped and turned to their son, both stood up straight. Ruzana had a sly smirk as usual. Drake always found it funny how much taller his dad was then his mother.

"You're home already?" he asked. His father cracked his knuckles, "Yep, got way for today." Ruzana looked at hima and then at her son. "Raimo , talk to your son if you need to then. I'll be in the study, meet when you're done." She walked off. Raimo narrowed his eyes at his son. "So how did it go?"

"Decent..." Drake replied cooly.

A silence pervaded them. Drake waited for his dad's reply. Raimo sighed, "That's it? Thanks for the detail. At least you won't be bored anymore." Drake looked at his dad with a raised eyebrow. "Don't look confused kid. I'm aware, your mom has told me. I can see it anyway. Can you handle it?" He asked his son, as he folded his arms across his chest.

"Yea I can, it's been long over due anyway." Drake replied. He walked over to the railing and leaned forward on it. Raimo chuckled, "I see. Well It's time your mom knew, don't you think?" he asked. Drake looked over to his father. Even though he was the Supreme Commander of the Military, his dad was never that serious of a person, unless he's mad.

Drake smirked." Yea I know Maybe I will finally learn what it's like to learn fight for 'justice'." Raimo eyed his son's expression. He could tell Drake was happy with this new arrangement, but wondered if his son knew the suffereing that would follow. " Well you will find your resolve in time Drake-chan." Raimo remarked calmly. He set his hand on his son's head.

Even though his son was 17, this never got old. "Enough with all this serious talk. How about we get some grub. I'm thinking sweets. Sound good?" He stroked his chin."Then I need to get back to your mother." Drake frowned for a moment. "You're disgusting. Lets focus on the food and then take your marital business somewhere else." Drake replied, he walked off.

Raimo followed with a smile. "I see." Raimo let out a light laugh.

Meeting the Demon

As Yotsuki was working in his office, and examining how the mission went with SENSHI, he realised that they truly weren't good at teamwork." It would seem I have to call her." Yotsuki said, as the door opened wildly, while a mature woman with purple hair was standing behind it.

" Oh, Miss Layla. I was just thinking about you, please sit down." Yotsuki said politely, Layla knew something was up." What do you need me to do?" Layla asked bluntly, while she sat on the chair offered to her." Well well it seems you still catch on to my drift very easily. Well, there is one thing." Yotsuki paused, and Layla's temper rose.

" Stop being so elusive and tell me!" Layla shouted, when Yotsuki chuckled. " It's simple really. You must teach our new team SENSHI, something about Teamwork." Yotsuki told her." What! You mean I have to teach a bunch of dimwit kids to work together!" Layla shouted and her voice could be heard all the way into the meeting room.

" Haha. It seems the Demon is on a rampage." Shuren laughed while Souryu was in tension." Souryu-chan. Why are you being so serious?" Ayame asked in her usual cutie tone, forcing Shuren to slyly make a comment." Shut up you idiots!" Kanzaki shouted.

" Oh, Kanzaki, never expected you out here?" Kuina wondered." When Yotsuki is getting a scolding, even I must discontinue my research." She said, with a sly grin.

Meanwhile in Yotsuki's room

" Fine, but on one condition, if they do not pass my tests, they will be disbanded." Layla said in her demonic voice that Yotsuki reluctantly had to agree.

Richard's Dilemma, Rihanna's Advice

While Richard was walking home, all he could think about was how frustrated Drake and the others were today and how uncooperative SENSHI really was." Honestly, we have to do something about this won't we." Richard said to himself, when surprisingly, Rihanna wasn't scolding him for coming home late.

" You aren't scolding me?" Richard asked and Rihanna instantly knew something was on his mind." Sit down, and talk to me about your problem." " Guess you aren't my sis for nothing aye." Richard complimented and sat down after a drink of water.

" So? What's happened." Rihanna asked, while Richard sat there in a state of, confusion. " Well, first, let me tell you that I will probably start coming home really late. Now, I am a part of an elite team called SENSHI. This team is comprised of the top military students in the academy, and does missions involving eliminating dark guilds." Richard explained as Rihanna was confused." Okay, but what's the problem." Rihanna asked demandingly and Richard was forced to oblige.

" Well, this team is really bad at teamwork, and nobody likes one another. I mean Azuki and Drake are constantly babbling. While Jin and Elbert are non-approachable." Richard sulkingly said and soon after his sad explanation Rihanna was laughing.

" That's the only problem?" Rihanna laughingly said, and because of this unusual behaviour, Richard had been confused." What do you mean by that?" He replied when Rihanna hit her older brother in the head, and looked down on him.

" You are honestly pathetic you know that? There is such an easy solution to this problem!" Rihanna scolded her younger brother." What is it?" Richard asked and Rihanna once again was dumbfounded by her brother's stupid mind in these situations.

" Get to know them! Be their friends, and each of you should have one goal!" Rihanna shouted, and Richard was surprised at her sister's intellect in these situations." Hmph, her mind is sharper than mine. Anyways, thanks Rihanna. Tomorrow I'll do just that." Richard said happily, as he ate his dinner and fell to sleep.

While sleeping, he was still thinking about Rihanna and the day when the bandits came home." I can't let that happen to Rihanna again, I must send her to a magical guild. I'll think of the perfect guild while roaming around." Richard thought in his sleep.

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