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[Utsuwa Sentai Seitenger] Vessel 2: Courage Within The Fear

Mizuhashi Mansion…

Being heroes of the world was, of course, not something one would consider as a walk in the park. Especially if you were truly a novice in the field. So that’s where trainers come forth. And in the Vessels’ case, their trainers were the people close to them.

Their training began two days after their first encounter and battle with the Tareans. Hideoki and Nanami left their jobs at the pastry job and at the bookstore respectively to their trusted assistants for a while in order for them to personally oversee the Vessels’ training.

First up: Hasureiki invocation.

“Hasureiki is already existing within the five of you. Now the real problem lies on how to conjure it from within in order for you to turn it into a force meant to attack. That’s where the Reikarajustu comes in,” Hideoki started.

Eichirou raised his hand that caught the historian’s attention.

“Can we actually conjure Hasureiki even if we’re not transformed? I mean, you did that when you summoned ice spears to attack Juman even from your hiding position at that time.”

“You can, but it’s not as powerful as the Hasureiki you use to battle the Tareans when you’re transformed.” Hideoki cleared his throat before he continued. “It is the Heaven’s Medallion placed in each of your Shifters that taps the full capacity of your Hasureiki. That’s why you become stronger whenever you become Seitengers.”

Nanami stepped in to the discussion as soon as Hideoki gave the signal. “Now, everyone, I want you to look at what I’m about to do. This is the first step of Reikarajutsu.” With her right palm on top of the other, she took a deep breath as she closed her eyes.

The Vessels could only watch in anticipation on what was about to happen. Well, whatever it was that would happen, they must have to carefully observe it.

It didn’t take long before something happened.

“Woah!”

A wall of pale pink light appeared on Nanami’s palm that slowly rotated. They thought they’d seen enough until the ball gently opened… like a flower blossoming.

“Lotus…?”

Nanami opened her eyes soon after and smiled at the sight of the surprised looks on the faces of her “students.”

“This is the basic physical manifestation of the Hasureiki that we know. One reason for this flower shape to exist is because the lotus flower is the symbol of the Heavenly Spirit Guardians.”

“So that’s why the same flower was engraved in Mom’s chest box,” Eichirou stated as he nodded.

“Does all of our Hasureiki had that kind of physical manifestation, Nanami-san?” Erika inquired.

“At first, yes. But as you grow stronger by training and fighting, each of the lotus flower that you will conjure will reveal the true form of your respective Hasureiki. As for the final form of your powers… Well, that’s for you to find out for yourself.”

All Nanami got were skeptical looks as a response to what she said. She beckoned them to stand up. With a simple instruction of focusing their Hasureiki into one single point, they all did as they were told. But they all couldn’t help thinking that in a way, there was still something missing.

Moments later, balls of colored light in their respective colors appeared on their palm. Of course, it wasn’t a wonder that the five of them were delighted. But here comes the real problem.

“Uh, guys… Do you know how to open this Hasureiki ball and make it a blossoming lotus?” It was a weird thing for a guy to ask that. Or at least that’s what Eichirou thought.

Even so, it was the very same question that the rest of the Vessels had in mind.

“It all starts with that ball of light, Eichirou,” Hideoki said as he decided to step in to the training. “The mere fact that you could conjure that ball only proves that you’re one step closer to tapping your Hasureiki’s full power.”

“That means… the blossoming lotus is like a measurement of our powers’ growth?” Itsuki added in which Hideoki answered with a nod.

Moments later, the ball of light that each of the Vessels conjured disappeared. All five of them felt weak after that.

“I guess it won’t be easy to conjure that Hasureiki ball until we get a full grasp on how to manipulate our Hasureiki,” Erika commented as she breathe heavily.

“But we have to try,” Shuichi said that made the others look at him. “Giving up just after learning that won’t really get us anywhere and it won’t even help us gain the Grand Vessel Spirits’ trust to support us in our battles.”

None of them were able to say anything after that. But soon after, Hideoki and Nanami smiled. The other four Vessels glanced at each other and shared a knowing smile.

“You know, Shuichi,” Eichirou started. “I wouldn’t really be surprised if you truly end up becoming the team’s leader.”

But all the photographer got was a frown from the biker. “What do you mean? You’re the oldest among the five of us.”

“He may be the oldest but his brain is more of a 10-year-old boy, if you ask me, Shuichi-san,” Itsuki nonchalantly replied that made the two girls giggle. “Besides, does he look like a leader material to you?”

“Hey! That’s already a foul, Itsu-chan!” Eichirou exclaimed.

And the usual cat-and-dog fight between Eichirou and Itsuki began once again. Misae and Erika could only shake their heads. Shuichi just scratched the back of his neck. Nanami and Hideoki only heaved heavy sighs.

This was surely going to be a long day.

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It was only the first day of training and it felt like hell. Well, at least that’s what Eichirou felt as he sat on one of the single seater sofa in the living room. As he looked around, he couldn’t believe how it didn’t bother his friends at all.

Shuichi was wiping his helmet as he tried his best to polish it. Itsuki was just sitting on the windowsill while reading another history book. Misae was replacing the string of her bow while Erika was busy reading a music sheet as she tried humming some of the notes.

“Still can’t get over the fact that we’re tortured on our first day of training, Eichirou-san?”

The said man looked up and saw Misae carrying her bow as she sat on the long sofa. He smiled and shrugged.

“Dad can be the strictest teacher of all when needed. We all know that. But this is the first time that he really pushed me to my limits. I can’t believe it…” Eichirou sighed and slightly shook his head.

“But I can live with the fact that it’s your Dad who’s teaching us and not someone else.”

Eichirou turned to Shuichi when he heard that. “What made you say that, Shuichi?”

Shuichi looked up from polishing his helmet and faced him. “Hideoki-san’s someone we’re already comfortable with. Nanami-san acted most of the time as a mother figure to us. Of course, you can’t forget the fact that your father saved us that night and that he took care of us for the past ten years. He knew us better than anyone else—just as a caring parent would do.”

All Eichirou could do as a response was to smile. Well, he didn’t want to brag but his father really took care of them. Hideoki never treated Shuichi, Misae, Itsuki, and Erika any different than how the man treated Eichirou. It was something that all five of them was really grateful for.

The rest of the Vessels resumed their activities while Eichirou was still busy thinking of what else to do other than photography. He groaned. Come to think of it, he was supposed to finish the photo mosaic that he needed to submit for the photo exhibit two weeks from now. But with his mind going around like this, how in the world was he supposed to do his project now?

As they were all busy doing their own thing, Nanami appeared from the kitchen.

“Can any of you head to the grocery and buy something for me? I’m supposed to cook for you lunch but we’re missing a few ingredients.”

It didn’t take long for Eichirou to decide on that. “I’ll do it.”

“Really? I thought you’re tired,” Itsuki remarked as he raised his head from the book he was reading.

“This is better than staying here wallowing about how Dad tortured us on our first day of training. I need to walk around and find a few inspirations here and there. I won’t be able to start walking on my project if I’m like this.”

Erika smiled when she faced Eichirou. “Good luck with that, then.”

After that, Eichirou took the list from Nanami and left the house.

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Tareus Dimension…

In the Great Hall of the Fortress of Screams, the Great Shadow Defenders once again gathered in front of Emperor Darshao. Only five of the seven were present, though. The leader’s fury on the fact that the Seitengers’ powers were revived in the bodies of young people that was hidden from the enemy’s radar for the past ten years.

“Those brats should’ve been killed that night, as well!” Siriso growled as he clenched his clawed fist.

“Who would’ve thought that they could still use that much Hasureiki despite knowing the obvious that those chosen to become the new Seitengers are novices in the field?” Alvre remarked as she faced Siriso with a smirk. “And you, my dear General Siriso, lost to a bunch of novices. To think you’re a warrior for 5,000 years… Have you lost your raging desire to kill them?”

The general didn’t like the condescending tone that accompanied Alvre’s words, at all. Out of anger and frustration, he unsheathed his sword and swung it to Alvre who managed to evade it with her speed. It only infuriated Siriso even more and Alvre was laughing at his behavior. The deed went on for about a minute or so.

It only stopped when the general and the assassin were thrown by a blast of dark energy. As the two struggled to get up, they saw the emperor’s right palm facing them. They realized that it was Darshao who threw that attack to stop them.

“You’re only making my head ache from your foolishness! And you call yourselves warriors for doing that?” In seconds, he cast an electric attack to the two thrown Shadow Defenders which caused them to scream in pain.

It went on for a few moments before Darshao immediately stopped and collapsed on his throne.

“Your Majesty!”

Orcus and Nemia attended to the emperor. Karkino approached the slightly weakened Siriso and Alvre.

“Save your squabbles to the Seitengers. We could use it more to defeat them,” Karkino stated calmly.

Alvre looked up to the Lieutenant. “It’s rare to see you calm in this kind of situation, Karkino.”

The Lieutenant scoffed. “I’m saving my temper for dealing with those Seitenger brats. Not even the emperor would dare stop me if I decided to unleash my rage to them.” He faced Siriso. “While the emperor sleeps, do your job outside the dimension. I think he collapsed because the negative emotions your Triske Monster gathered wasn’t enough. Our ruler needs all the energy from those negative emotions. Of course, you know that we’re after the energy of one particular emotion. That’s why we’re causing terror to the humans.”

As much as Siriso hated being lectured and ordered to, he couldn’t think of a retort. He knew that his fellow Shadow Defender was right.

“Gather hopelessness…” Siriso stood up and started walking away. “You got it. Though you must remember, humans are stubborn beings. The same goes for their hope.”

As soon as Siriso got out of the Great Hall, he kicked the nearby wall with intensity because of his frustration. It was meant not only to the Seitengers revived but also to what Emperor Darshao did to him. He could care less about Alvre. She could die for all he cared.

Once he managed to calm himself down, he found a hidden spot where he could possibly concentrate. This time, he must do what it takes to win. By conjuring a rune circle in front of him, he began summoning a Triske Monster that would be perfect for the job.

The monster materialized after a few moments, its features blocked by the dark shadow that engulfed the area.

“Cyone… it’s your chance. Appease my frustration. Do all that you can to destroy the Seitengers.”

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“Thank you so much!” Eichirou said to the cashier as he took the bags with his grocery items in it after paying the total amount. With that done, he went out of the grocery store.

He didn’t have any trouble carrying two bags full of groceries. Ever since he was a child, he was always the strongest among his friends in terms of physical strength. Come to think of it, he didn’t struggle too much in fighting the Gargonema that day. He was able to throw them away or beat them to the point of unconsciousness with just a few punches and kicks.

It looked like he was able to put his strength to good use.

If he would analyze his friends’ strong points, he could say that they were really unique. Eichirou already knew his strong point was power. Shuichi was, no doubt, his leadership skills and perhaps even the brutality and ability to easily adapt to different situations as he had already observed. Itsuki was reading too many books ever since, so he knew the composer would surely become the brain of the team. Misae’s strong points would be precision and control due to her training in archery. Maybe he could also add speed to that. Erika would be her strong will and calm mind no matter the gravity of the situation.

Eichirou just smiled as he thought of that. Why in the world did he begin thinking of such issues?

But all of a sudden, his smile faded as he stopped to his tracks. He looked around but found nothing unusual. And yet he couldn’t shake off that weird feeling.

Until it hit him!

That’s the same feeling I got when the Tareans first attacked!

As soon as he realized that, he heard a familiar beeping sound. He put the grocery bags down on the nearby bench and saw his Celestial Shifter on his wrist. The lotus symbol on it was blinking.

“Not the Tareans again…” Eichirou could only mumble as he pushed a certain button on the side. It soon materialized a holographic screen displaying a map with a black dot blinking on one particular location in the city. “It’s not far from here.”

He took a deep breath, determined. Before he decided to head out, he saw a perfect place to hide his groceries since he doesn’t want his Aunt Nanami to scold him for losing it. As soon as he secured it, he rushed toward the scene of attack.

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Back at the Mizuhashi mansion, the other four Vessels were still busy doing their own thing. But almost all at once, they froze when they heard four familiar beepings and they could only come from one source.

“The Shifters!” all four of them exclaimed at the same time.

With that, each had focused on their respective Celestial Shifters. The lotus symbol on each of it was blinking. Shuichi pushed a button on the side of his Celestial Shifter and let it project a holographic screen that showed a larger version of the city map. Aside from one blinking black dot, he also saw a moving blue dot.

“Eichirou’s already heading to the scene. We have to hurry, as well,” Shuichi suggested.

The others nodded and they immediately left the house.

Nanami went out of the kitchen and she could only watch the closed door with concerned eyes.

“Good luck… and be careful, everyone.”

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Eichirou finally arrived at the scene of the attack as he panted. Well, he did run as fast as he could to reach the place. But he was surprised to see several people lying on the ground.

“What happened here?” he could only mutter.

He approached one of them and checked on it. He was relieved to know that they were only unconscious. But who in the world could have done this?

His question was answered upon hearing a thud, as if someone had collapsed. He looked around and saw a fish-headed and fully-scaled Triske Monster. Eichirou couldn’t help scrunching his nose as he covered it. Sheesh! Even the smell around was like a full metal drum of dead stinking fishes!

“What kind of dead ocean did this fish monster come from?” It took him just a few moments to realize that he said that out loud. He clamped his mouth with his other hand. “I’m dead!”

Unfortunately for him, his words caught the Triske Monster’s attention. The same goes to the Gargonema.

“Take his energy, scales!” The monster fireed a fish scale as large as a dinner plate toward Eichirou.

He managed to evade it and it hit a Gargonema that was about to attack him from the back. But he was surprised what the scale could do. Its size has a reason—the scale was large enough to cover one’s face. So when that scale covered a human’s face, it would send electric shock as it sucked human energy. The scale would disappear once its job was done, leaving an unconscious and helpless human behind.

The Gargonema that took the hit from the scale, however, was a different case. It was melting from the electric shock sent by that single fish scale.

“Oh, boy! Now I’m really dead,” Eichirou said, only to himself. With that, he prepared himself for the next attack.

He saw the Triske Monster became enraged with what happened. “Gargonema, take him!”

Groups of Gargonema charged toward him but he braced himself for that. They all had swords and spears but Eichirou still managed to take them on one after another. At one point, he used one of the Gargonema’s spear to defeat them all.

“How did you—?”

Eichirou exhaled and threw away the spear he used as soon as he eliminated the Gargonema attacking him. He soon faced the surprised Triske Monster. “You want to know how?”

He held out his arm with the Celestial Shifter placed on it that earned him a gasp from the monster.

“It can’t be! You’re—!”

“Introductions later. Let me do my thing first.” He pushed the button on his Shifter needed for him to transform as soon as he placed the Heaven’s Medallion on the slot. “Spirit Power, Cross Shift!”

As soon as he finished reciting his transformation phrase, the sequence began. Seconds later, he donned his blue warrior suit together with his Hyakureider on the holster of his belt.

“Let’s get on with it!” SeitenWater fought the approaching Gargonema with just his strength. He didn’t even need to use his Hyakureider or even his Water Shark Spear to deal with them.

But he couldn’t help thinking that something still felt wrong with what was happening.

Unknown to him, there was one person hiding in one of the nearby alley who was watching the battle. The surprised look on her face was evident as she continued watching.

“Eichirou…” was the only word Kanako could muster. But her voice held the faith she had for her friend to defeat the monster.

“Eichirou!”

“Eichirou-san!” SeitenWater turned to see the others—already in their Seitenger form—approaching him.

“Don’t mind me. Go after the Triske Monster! Be careful with his scales, though.” And he continued dealing with the Gargonema.

The others hurried to the Triske Monster Cyone’s location. But before any of them could strike Cyone, the monster fired five fish scales to them that exploded soon after and struck them down.

“Everyone!” SeitenWater kicked the last Gargonema he was fighting as hard as he could before approaching his friends. “Are you alright?”

“What the hell was that?” SeitenEarth mumbled as he struggled to stand up.

“Definitely not a regular fish scale,” SeitenWind stated.

“Be careful not to get hit with that fish scale on the face or your energies will be sucked with it.”

SeitenFire chuckled. “That’s why you said ‘be careful with his scales’.”

SeitenWater helped his friends stand up before they faced another group of Gargonema.

“Oh, come on! Do we really have to deal with these bone-faced soldiers again?” SeitenLight asked exasperatingly.

“No choice,” SeitenEarth replied placidly as he took out his blade-extracted Hyakureider to fight the Gargonema.

“More humans, more energy… Have I gathered everyone’s energy in this city?” Cyone muttered as he frantically scanned the area. Until— “There!”

SeitenEarth heard it that made him stop fighting the Gargonema and observe the Triske Monster. He was surprised to see where Cyone was heading to. “Kanako-san, get away from here!”

Of course, what the green warrior yelled had definitely caught SeitenWater’s attention.

“Kana-chan!”

But it was too late for Kanako. Before she could start running away…

“You’re mine!” Cyone fired a fish scale that turned into something elastic and covered Kanako’s face.

All she could do was to scream in pain as electricity stunned Kanako’s body and absorbed her energy at the same time. In anger, SeitenWater charged toward Cyone and attacked it with his Hyakureider; the blade was emanating a blue glow. But the monster blocked it as if it was nothing. Yet it didn’t bother SeitenWater as he continued striking Cyone with all his rage and might.

Moments had passed. Kanako collapsed as soon as the fish scale that covered her face had disappeared. The other four Seitengers were just done eliminating the Gargonema and they rushed to the unconscious Kanako’s side as they disintegrated their transformations.

“Kanako-san, hang in there!”

“Kanako!”

SeitenWater continued striking Cyone that pushed the Triske Monster into the corner. But before the blue warrior could deliver his final blow, a dark rune circle appeared beneath Cyone and absorbed the monster. He halted to a stop upon seeing that. The grip he had on his sword tightened.

“Kanako / Kanako-san!”

He was startled upon hearing that. When SeitenWater turned, he disabled his transformation and rushed to Kanako’s side. He cradled the girl that Shuichi held and tried waking her up.

“Kana-chan, wake up! It’s me, Eichirou,” he called as he slightly tapped her cheek.

They noticed Kanako’s eyes slowly fluttered open as she let out a moan. But it didn’t take them long before they figured out that Kanako was struggling because of the immense loss of energy.

“Are you okay?” Eichirou queried with worries.

Kanako smiled weakly. “I can’t believe it… Eichirou is… one of the chosen Vessels…”

The Vessels all had a surprised looks on their faces when they heard that.

“Y-you know about it, Kana-chan?”

In the same weak manner, Kanako nodded. “I’m glad…” After that, she fully lost consciousness.

Eichirou tried waking her up but to no avail. Soon after, Itsuki noticed Eichirou clenching his fist as he carried the girl’s body.

Moments later, Shuichi and Misae assisted Eichirou as the latter started walking away. Erika stopped when she noticed her brother intently looking at the photographer’s walking figure.

“Is there something wrong, Onii-chan?” To be honest, she wasn’t really comfortable seeing her older brother like this.

Itsuki sighed and shook his head. “It’s nothing. Let’s go.”

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At Mizuhashi mansion, the two adults became slightly frantic upon seeing the Vessels came home with an unconscious Kanako on Eichirou’s arms. They put her in one of the spare rooms and let her rest there while Hideoki and Nanami tried to find a way to heal her.

As the two adults did so, all the Vessels could do was to watch. In some ways, it was frustrating them. They truly wanted to help but they didn’t know how. More than that, it was surprising for them to learn that Kanako knew about the Vessels.

How did that happen?

But for Eichirou, that fact wasn’t the only thing that worried him. He didn’t know that, even if he doesn’t say anything, Itsuki’s observation on his movements was enough for the younger boy to realize what exactly was bothering Eichirou.

“Is she going to be alright, Hideoki-san?” Misae queried hopefully as she approached the said man.

“Thankfully, she wasn’t injured. Only her energy was taken. A long rest is all she needed. But just to be sure—” he paused and faced the young archer. “—why don’t you heal her, Misae?”

Of course, what Hideoki said had surprised not only Misae but also the other Vessels.

“Me? Heal her? I can’t do that! I don’t even know how.”

“You can, Misae. From your training a while back, I managed to observe your abilities awakened in each of you,” Nanami informed with a smile. “Just by looking at the ball of Hasureiki you summoned earlier during your training, I learned of your healing powers using the combination of your Hasureiki and your wind powers.”

Though still feeling a bit hesitant, Misae knew that there was no way Nanami would lie to her about her abilities. Besides, she also had to heal a friend. And if she truly had the ability to heal, she might as well try doing it.

But before she could start, the sound of the door suddenly opening startled her. They all turned around to know who did that.

“Akira-kun! Natsume-kun!” Erika exclaimed but later frowned. “What are you two doing here?”

“We heard about what happened at the city. A total of 47 people, including Kanako-san, fell victim from Cyone’s scales. The paramedics took them to the nearby hospitals to recover,” Akira, the son of Nanami, informed as he watched his friend Natsume approached the unconscious Kanako that Misae was trying to heal.

“Cyone? That’s the Triske Monster’s name?”

Akira nodded as a response to Shuichi’s question. “He was listed in the old records of Triske Monsters created during the ancient times. Though if you would ask me, I’m still surprised as to how someone managed to get ahold of those records.”

“Kanako-nee, can you hear me? It’s me, Natsume.” The 18-year-old friend of Akira and cousin of Kanako could only say as he tried to call out to the girl.

“Cyone really got her. It must have took a great deal of energy from Kanako-san,” Erika muttered.

Silence surrounded the room for a few moments. At that time, Itsuki remembered something. “Natsume, does this mean you knew about the Vessels, as well?”

The said boy faced the composer and nodded somberly. “Kanako-nee and I knew about it for a long time now. Her father told us about it when we were still kids.”

Could that be the reason why Kanako stayed by Eichirou’s side all this time?

“But we didn’t know that you guys are the chosen Vessels up until now,” Natsume continued. “We were only told that even though the previous Vessels lost their powers during the great battle, we still had to do our best to support the next chosen Vessels—whoever they might be. It is our duty to support the Vessels with all we got, after all.”

None of them could say anything after hearing all that. Seriously, who would’ve thought that the people they knew all this time would have a great connection to the Vessels that Shuichi, Eichirou, Itsuki, Misae, and Erika had become?

Misae heaved a deep breath and did her best to heal Kanako. Just as she was told during the training, she just needed to concentrate her Hasureiki on one point in order for her to achieve the result she wanted. With that, she placed her hand right above Kanako’s chest and almost immediately, yellow glow surrounded her hand.

Please… Help me heal my friend. Help me heal the person that is special to Eichirou-san. Misae doesn’t know to whom she was praying to, but she hoped someone would hear it so she could do her job well.

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Cyone filled the gigantic statue of Emperor Darshao with the energies he collected from the humans earlier. The stone sword that served as a measuring device lighted out but only for a few seconds. The light raged on for just a few seconds and revealed that only a sixth portion of the sword—from the tip of the blade going up—remained lighted.

It only meant that the energies collected only filled a sixth part of the statue.

“This is amazing, Cyone… but definitely not enough. His Majesty needs more than just this. We also need the energy and this amount could only sustain two of the Shadow Defenders,” Karkino stated as he remained eyeing the statue.

“Of course, Liutenant, I know that. But I didn’t even say that I’m done collecting energies and negative emotions,” Cyone responded as he bowed. “I’m also doing this to appease Siriso-sama’s rage. He’d make sure to see the end of the Vessels once and for all.”

But all Cyone got as a reply to that was a scornful scoff. It didn’t seem to bother the Triske Monster as he left the Great Hall.

“See the end of the Vessels? With that puny skills? We’ll see about that.” Through Karkino’s words alone, one would truly think the said Lieutenant doubted if it would happen anytime soon. They must not underestimate the Vessels. After all, Hideoki was the one guiding those kids.

And they knew how formidable Hideoki could be.

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Kanako felt she was knocked out really bad as she opened her eyes. Another darkness greeted her as she looked around. At the same time, she knew she wasn’t in her room at her house at all. The four-poster bed alone proved it. She usually sleep in a futon.

Then where the hell was she?

It took a few moments before her eyes finally adjusted to the darkness around her. She later saw a shaft of dim light, probably coming from outside. The moon, perhaps?

Come to think of it, it was supposed to be full moon at around 11 PM on that particular date.

“How long have I been asleep?” Kanako mumbled as she sighed.

She was supposed to rise from her bed when she felt something that was placed on her left hand. When she looked to her side, her eyes widened at the sight that greeted her. Despite the extremely dim light, it was more than enough to let her know who was holding her hand.

“Eichirou…”

Kanako didn’t know what to do or even what to say. How long had this man been asleep and holding her hand like that? He was sitting on a small chair with his head on his right arm placed beside her left hand that he was holding.

She couldn’t help smiling at the sight as soon as she recovered from the surprise she felt. This kind of thing doesn’t happen everyday and she knew that.

Then she recalled the events that made her lose consciousness. That’s right… She remembered how Eichirou dealt with the Gargonema all by himself and how he transformed into SeitenWater. It was true that she wasn’t oblivious to the legend and existence of the Vessels chosen to bear the powers of the Heavenly Spirit Guardians. In fact, her father said that it was important for her and her cousin Natsume to know that.

She believed the story since she had seen at least a few proof and documentations. But she never realized that she would be able to witness someone actually become a Seitenger in front of her. And it was her friend and photography mentor Mizuhashi Eichirou, at that.

But she witnessed it at a worst time.

Who would’ve thought that she would personally see a Triske Monster or even a group of Gargonema? Now she knew it was right for her to believe her father’s story about the Vessels and the Tareans.

Upon learning that her friend was among the Vessels, she had this urging feeling that she would do what it takes for her to help them. It was just a question on how she’d do that, though.

“Hmm…”

That sound startled Kanako and disrupted her musings. But it was okay. She knew the sound came from Eichirou. And it looked like he was waking up. She didn’t know what came over her to decide on closing her eyes again and pretend to sleep some more. But she still did it.

She felt Eichirou’s hold on her hand tightened, but still with the hint of gentleness. She heard him sigh heavily, as if burdened. It made her frown—albeit inwardly. What in the world was going on?

“I’m really sorry, Kanako,” she heard Eichirou said softly. Yes, it was said sincerely but something felt more to it.

A feeling of regret somehow accompanied his voice as he said those words. And to think he didn’t say her nickname…

Somehow, she didn’t like the feeling at all.

Another heavy sigh from Eichirou before he let go of her hand as he placed it on the bed. Kanako heard footsteps that seemed like walking away. It ended with the sound of opening and closing of the door.

That was when Kanako opened her eyes.

What had just happened?

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The next day, Itsuki woke up earlier than the others since it was his turn to cook breakfast for everyone in the mansion. Besides, he couldn’t actually go back to sleep after waking up an hour before. Well, he had to blame it to another weird dream of his.

Seriously, why does he had to dream of that girl again? But this time, his dream about the mysteriously girl was a little different. She was trying to tell her something, but it wasn’t about being reborn or something similar that she’d usually say. At least, Itsuki could tell that much.

But before he could even determine her words, he woke up suddenly which somehow left him puzzled and slightly frustrated.

Itsuki shrugged the thought off of his mind for now. Everyone’s breakfast should be prepared by the time he would wake them up at 7. At the Mizuhashi mansion, everyone had a scheduled task to cook and do various household chores. It started ever since Itsuki and the others were saved from the hotel fire and were taken to live under Hideoki’s care. As years passed, each of them finally got accustomed of their lives there. In fact, each of the Vessels learned how to cook foods that it also allowed them to discover their specialties. And once they passed Hideoki’s esteemed tongue, they were also served at his family restaurant since they were also helping there when they had free time.

Itsuki finished preparing the necessary ingredients when he saw Kanako coming down the stairs and entering the kitchen. He frowned at the sight of her dejected state.

I wonder what happened… Itsuki thought before he started cooking.

“Good morning, Itsuki-kun,” Kanako greeted but the sadness in her tone was evident.

The composer faced Kanako and slightly smiled. “Good morning. Did you sleep well?”

The girl nodded and sat on one of the chairs of the kitchen table. “You’re early.”

“It’s my turn to cook everyone’s breakfast. I should be saying the same thing to you. You shouldn’t have force yourself to get up yet. Even though Misae-san healed you, it’s better if you shouldn’t force yourself for a while,” Itsuki said placidly as he was busy in front of the stove. “Besides, Eichirou-san would’ve thrown a fit if he finds you gone from your bed.”

“He left,” was Kanako’s abrupt words, as if forced out of her throat.

Of course, those words stiffened Itsuki somehow and made him face Kanako. The same dejected look was still there and he could tell that it got worst when she said those words. “W-what do you mean?”

“He woke up a few moments after I did. I had no idea what was on his mind the moment he apologized to me in my sleep. It appeared as if… he was really burdened with something. After that, he left the room.” Soon after, Kanako sighed. “I’m sorry, Itsuki-kun. I shouldn’t be saying this to you. It’s just that—”

Itsuki shook his head. “It’s okay. At least I know now.” At that point, he could already tell what was going on with Eichirou for him to act like that. In fact, he already had a guess about it since the time that Cyone attacked Kanako. From Eichirou’s expressions and reactions alone, everything was crystal clear. “Did you check his room? Maybe he was just there, trying to think about something.”

“No, he’s not. If he did leave the mansion, he left without us knowing,” Shuichi said as he entered the kitchen.

“Shuichi-san!”

“Sometimes, I don’t really know what’s going on with Eichirou. He rarely leaves the house unannounced, especially to Hideoki-san.”

After that, Shuichi sat beside Kanako and inquired about how she was feeling. The girl didn’t lie, though. She said that it was already fine but was sad about Eichirou’s actions. Itsuki just listened to the conversation as he resumed his cooking duty.

It wasn’t long before Misae and Erika woke up, as well. When asked as to why the two girls woke up earlier than usual, they only said that they couldn’t go back to sleep knowing that Kanako was unwell and that Eichirou decided to disappear just like that. But Itsuki could tell that the photographer hadn’t gone far. At least, he could tell from the way he sensed the energy of the earth. Just like Misae’s healing powers using the wind, he was able to determine his powers, as well.

For one, Itsuki’s power was inclined to the element of the earth. And because of that, he could use the earth as an extension of his senses. He used that ability in order for him to determine Eichirou’s location even without the help of the older man’s Celestial Shifter.

And now, all Itsuki had to do was to find Eichirou and talk to him. Though he wasn’t actually the type of guy who initiates a serious conversation, this time he had to. He had to do something in order to let Eichirou realize at least a part of the truth about their duties as the chosen Vessels.

But before that…

Itsuki was done cooking when he faced Kanako who was talking to Shuichi and Misae. “Kanako-san, after this, can you tell us everything you know about the Vessels?”

The girl eyed the composer for a few tense moments before sighing. “I guess Natsume-kun mentioned it to you.”

The others nodded as a response.

“Is it okay if you do that, Kanako-san? You see, we’re kind of novices when it comes to becoming Vessels since everything hit us pretty suddenly,” Erika said with a sheepish smile.

“I can see that. Don’t worry. Since I’ve been informed about the Vessels since I was a kid, and that I would be one of the people meant to support you guys, I might as well do what I can to help.”

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Having breakfast during that time proved to be a little… different to the other Vessels. Hideoki and Nanami were rather impassive about the atmosphere but the others knew their mentors felt the same difference—not to mention the same melancholy and tension—hovering around.

And to be honest, it was rather frustrating for them.

“I guess everything’s quite different without Eichirou around during meal time,” Shuichi commented before he began munching his food.

“Yeah. I mean, this is the first time that our breakfast time felt so gloomy,” Misae added. “I kind of miss his energetic self at times like this.”

“Well, the sooner we find a way to settle this and learn everything that we have to know, the faster that all of this will be over,” Erika stated as she continued eating. “We just have to figure out how.”

During this, it was evident that Kanako was quiet and appeared to have lost her appetite. Shuichi sighed and faced the girl.

“Kanako, if you truly wanted to help us clear things with Eichirou, you got to have the energy. You’ve barely touched your food.”

The girl was startled as she noticed the Vessels’ stares at her. Kanako smiled but it didn’t actually reached her eyes. “I’m just worried.”

“You children better finish your foods first,” Hideoki said, speaking for the first time. “As soon as Kanako-chan managed to explain everything to you, that’s when we’ll decide on what to do with Eichirou. It wouldn’t be too hard to track him, though.”

“But Eichirou-san didn’t bring his Shifter. How are we going to find him without it?”

“That won’t be a problem,” Itsuki said in response to his sister’s inquiry. “Our Shifters weren’t merely designed to track down the Hasureiki from our Heaven’s Medallions. It’s also meant to track the chosen Vessels possessing Hasureiki inside of them, though I believe it wouldn’t be as strong as that of the Hasureiki emanated by the Medallions.”

The others looked at Itsuki in surprise. How in the world did he manage to learn the Shifters’ function in such a short time? The composer soon noticed the confused stares his friends were giving him.

“Why are you looking at me like that?” But before Itsuki could allow them to answer, it didn’t take him long to finally realize the reason for that. “I asked Nanami-san if she has reference materials, scrolls or books, containing information with regards to our Shifters or any of the transformation devices used by the previous Vessels to transform into Seitengers. I decided to read all that so I could understand its functions more.”

“Well, before you tell your discoveries, I suggest you all finish your food first. Eichirou isn’t our only problem. Cyone might start attacking again since he didn’t take enough energy from the humans the last time,” Nanami said.

The rest agreed, but it was still obvious that their minds started to become preoccupied with various curiosities regarding Itsuki’s and Kanako’s information. A few minutes more had passed before they finally finished their breakfast. It was a good thing that Kanako managed to finish her food despite the obvious loss of appetite.

After everything was settled, the four remaining Vessels, Kanako, Nanami, and Hideoki gathered in the living room.

“The reason why I was made to learn the truth about the Vessels and everything related to them was because… my father is a descendant of the Vessel of the Heavenly Wind Spirit Guardian’s Power from 180 years ago,” Kanako started which gave surprise to those who was listening to her, of course.

“The Heavenly Wind Spirit Guardian? Then that must mean—”

The novice photographer shook her head. “Though I am considered a descendant of that chosen Vessel, as well, I don’t possess Hasureiki like you guys do.”

“That’s not necessarily true, Kanako-chan,” Nanami suddenly said.

Kanako frowned at that. “What do you mean, Nanami-san?”

“There has been a rule about people who were granted access to learn their lineage with regards to the descendants of the chosen Vessels. No person without Hasureiki is allowed to learn the truth about the Vessels,” Nanami answered. “Your father allowing you and Natsume-kun to know more about the Vessels proved that both of you possessed at least a small amount of your ancestor’s Hasureiki, only manifesting in the form that alters your DNA and allows you to achieve knowledge and skills beyond that of an average man.”

“You mean… like our talents in certain fields?” Erika queried in which the woman answered with a grave nod. “But… Kanako-san is still considered a novice in photography. Arts is something I could say as Eichirou-san’s field, only manifesting in his photography skills.”

“Now I get it…” Kanako mumbled and showed a small smile of understanding. “That’s why I was able to catch up easily with Dad’s teachings, definitely faster than a normal student would.”

“What are you talking about, Kanako-san?” Itsuki asked with a frown. But it didn’t take him long to realize the meaning her words. “Wait a minute… Your father is an inventor, right?”

“A scientist, to be more precise. Natsume and I became immediately interested in my father’s works that we decided to learn from him. Some of his inventions were powerful weapons used by the previous Vessels before they lost their powers 25 years ago.”

“Does that mean you and your cousin became a part of your father’s team that will support the current Seitengers?”

Kanako nodded. “You could say that. My father taught me everything he knew about the Vessels and more. But I never thought that you guys were chosen to become the Seitengers. That’s why I never told you anything about what I know.”

The discussion continued and Kanako proceeded to explain to the Vessels about their duty and identity. The role of being Seitengers wasn’t exactly something that anyone could inherit by blood. The powers themselves that originally came from the Heavenly Spirit Guardians were the ones choosing the Vessels’ successors. That was the reason why the Vessels were originally scattered before gathering to do their missions and fend off the Tareans trying to escape from the Tareus Dimension. When the mission was over, and the Vessels could feel that it was about time to find people who would succeed them, a larger part of the Heavenly Spirit Guardians’ Powers would leave their bodies. The remaining portion was something that their descendants could inherit if deemed worthy of possessing them. That certain portion of the aforementioned power was the culprit that caused the DNA alteration of the chosen descendants.

“Then that means we were already descendants of the Vessels from a long time ago even before we were chosen to become the new Vessels,” Misae commented as she recovered. “Or at least, our parents must have been the descendants. I mean, many people already said that they were geniuses in their respective fields even at a young age. They even said that they were taking the world by storm with their talents.”

Shuichi nodded. “Yeah, I remember.”

“Now I know that we got these talents for a reason,” Erika stated. “That only proves that Kanako-san is somehow destined to be friends with Eichirou-san.”

“But then that Eichirou decided to play hide-and-seek,” Shuichi took a deep breath. “I wonder what that guy’s thinking…”

Itsuki already knew the answer to that, only he decided not to mention anything just until the situation was clear. With that, he stood up from the sofa that somewhat startled the others.

“What’s wrong, Onii-chan?”

“I’ll be going out for a while. I need to think of what to do next time that Cyone showed up.” Before he could allow the others to reply, Itsuki left a notebook on the coffee table and stared at Shuichi. “Study the information on that notebook. We’ll be needing it on our battle with Cyone,” he said before hurriedly leaving the mansion with only one goal—to find Eichirou and knock some sense into that man’s brain in his own Itsuki way.

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Well, the man Itsuki was looking for happened to be wandering quite aimlessly along the seaside—which, of course, had been Eichirou’s most beloved place since his mother’s death. He needed to stay there, to think of things that he needed to do. He had to come up with a decision before a Triske Monster decided to ruin his day once more.

But seriously, he couldn’t get his mind quite straight at this point. Not when he was worried about a certain woman’s safety more than anything else.

Mom, please tell me how would you want me to do things like protecting Kanako. It was a request that really made Eichirou quite distressed. His worry for Kanako was something he knew wouldn’t easily be washed away by the sound of the sea water. Nor could it be blown by the sea breeze.

But in a way, he trusted the sea to at least help him. That way, he would know that his mother was listening to him, at the very least.

“You’re really connected to the waters, huh? No wonder you were chosen to become SeitenWater.”

Eichirou stiffened as soon as he heard that, but only for a few moments. He faced the speaker as he turned sharply, only to see Itsuki standing a few feet away from where he was sitting. “Itsu-chan…” How in the world…?

“You’re still standing on sand so that has made it easy for me to know where you are even without your Shifter.” Itsuki started approaching Eichirou and sat on the sand just a few feet beside him.

“I’m worst, aren’t I?” Eichirou mumbled as he looked at the sea once more. “Becoming a Seitenger… I never realized that by accepting that, I would put everyone in danger.”

No words came from Itsuki but the photographer could tell that the boy was looking at him. Weird enough, just by allowing Itsuki to do so had calmed Eichirou somehow. It was like he could confide his worries to the boy, especially at the moment that he was thinking of ways to protect Kanako without actually involving her in his duties as a Seitenger. And yet he knew, it was somewhat impossible given the fact that Kanako already knew some information about the Vessels.

“So in other words, you’re scared… that everyone close to you will get hurt because of the duty you’ve accepted,” Itsuki stated placidly before sighing. “But you know what, Eichirou-san, you chose to accept that duty in order for us to keep everyone safe from the danger that the Tareans could bring to them. The reason you’re like this right now is because it didn’t come to you that our enemies would be hurting someone close to us. And Kanako-san, at that…”

Though Eichirou hated to admit it, Itsuki was right on that point. He couldn’t help feeling useless because Kanako got hurt while he was fighting Cyone. And now that she had a knowledge about his duty as the current Vessel of the Heavenly Water Spirit Guardian’s Power, preventing Kanako from getting hurt because of what she knew would be a little bit hard. Not to mention that Kanako was a hard-headed and a determined woman, if one would ask Eichirou. They were childhood friends, after all. At least he knew that.

“It’s like you’re saying that I can’t do anything about Kanako getting involved with our activities as Seitengers other than accepting her decisions. And knowing her… She could be stubborn as I am,” Eichirou said with a sigh.

“Just like Erika…” Itsuki muttered that caught Eichirou’s attention.

“Itsu-chan… Could it be that—?”

The composer smiled but with hints of sadness. “That’s how I figured it out, Eichirou-san. That’s how I realized your fears for Kanako-san. But girls can seriously be stubborn. I don’t want my sister to get involved with anything related to the Vessels. But to be more precise, I just don’t want her to be involved in anything that would endanger her. And yet she insisted that she would never realize her true capabilities if I continue shielding her from what we’re meant to do. At that point, I can’t do anything for her other than to watch over her and protect her as she do her best.”

At that point, Itsuki faced Eichirou who had been watching him intently as he told his reasons.

“The more we fear for the safety of the people we care about, the more we gain the strength and courage to protect them so that they wouldn’t get hurt. Or worse, killed. Use that fear that you have for Kanako-san’s safety and turn it into something that will give you the strength to protect her. That, for one thing, was something I learned when I decided to accept my sister’s decision to become a Seitenger despite the danger we’re obviously going to face.”

Eichirou couldn’t help but to smile at Itsuki’s statement. It wasn’t rare for him and Itsuki to have conversations like the one they were having at the moment. But this was one of the few times that Itsuki had openly admitted his fears—one that was directed to Hoshiyama Erika. He doesn’t have a sister so he couldn’t relate to Itsuki that much. But he and the composer had one thing in common.

The reason for their fears to exist happened to be the people they treasured more than anyone in the world. But they were also the same reason why they were fighting this hard. Yes, the battle had only began for them as Seitengers. But they also needed to have reasons to continue fighting. Right now, maybe it was just Erika or Kanako. Maybe they could include their teammates and their mentors. And as they go one, they would surely meet other people—find other ideas and reasons—that would propel them to continue their duties.

“I guess I’d be dealing with Kana-chan’s stubbornness more often if I allowed her to become a part of our duties,” the photographer later commented and soon chuckled at his words. He faced Itsuki with a smile that showed relief. “Thank you, Itsu-chan.”

“We are friends… We have been like that for the past ten years. And right now, we’re also a team. A sentai. But that idea was something that Shuichi-san would usually think.” Itsuki chuckled, at that.

Eichirou couldn’t help but to agree. The moment they’d accepted their duties as Seitengers, they’d already became a part of a sentai.

Utsuwa Sentai, huh? Yup, that was seriously what Shuichi would think about their new formal team. They were called Vessels, after all.

And right now, the five of them who were the current Vessels of the Heavenly Spirit Guardians’ Powers formed the Utsuwa Sentai… just as their predecessors had done before.

Eichirou could only hoped that he and his friends could do their jobs properly if they wanted to succeed.

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Simultaneous explosions destroyed the buildings that disrupted the city’s peace that very same day. People could be seen running for their lives as they screamed. It wasn’t only because of the ongoing chaos that delivered immense fear to the humans. But also because of the mastermind behind the chaos.

This time, Cyone destroyed the nearby establishments and buildings as the Gargonema scoured around the area to round up the humans trying to escape. Once a group was formed, the Triske Monster immediately sucked their energies as he fired elastic fish scales right to their faces one after another.

“More! More! More humans!” Cyone continued shouting as he cackled while watching the captured humans scream in pain and struggled to escape but to no avail.

The scenario went on pretty fast that the damage and the number of victims had escalated compared to the previous attack. Cyone continued gather energies even from the humans that the Gargonema rounded up.

“Siriso-sama will be pleased,” the Triske Monster mumbled as he felt the gathered energy build up steadily. “Come out, Seitengers!”

That growl resonated throughout the city followed by another evil laugh that stood out even from the escaping humans’ screams and the explosions.

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The continuous beeping of the Celestial Shifters that were in Itsuki’s pocket alerted both Eichirou and Itsuki. The echoing evil laugh soon heightened their worries and made them realize what was going on.

“Cyone!”

Both of them turned on their Celestial Shifters after Itsuki handed over Eichirou’s that projected holographic screens. The screen from Itsuki’s Shifter projected images from where the Triske Monster was attacking. While the one from Eichirou’s Shifter revealed a map revealing the exact location of the ongoing attack.

“That monster’s fast. We have to stop him before the damage escalates to the worst point,” Itsuki suggested as he closed the device.

Eichirou nodded once with full of determination. But before they began leaving the place, he recalled something. “Itsu-chan, I have an idea. But I’m going to need your help.”

“If it will help us return the stolen energies back to the victims, then I’m with you on that.”

With that, Eichirou laid out his plan to Itsuki as he told the composer his observations during their last encounter with Cyone.

Despite being the brainy one, Itsuki let Eichirou take the lead in strategizing this time. Well, calculating the probability of their victory, he knew the laid-out plan would work.

They had to make it work.

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The discussion at the Mizuhashi mansion was still ongoing as the rest of the Vessels still listened to Kanako’s explanation and studying the notes written on the notebook that Itsuki gave to them. They were surprised, without a doubt, that the composer managed to list down information with regards to their Hyakureider and its possible functions.

They were immensely engrossed to reading the contents when it was rudely interrupted upon hearing their Celestial Shifters beeped. The sound startled them but it wasn’t for long. They immediately turned on their Shifters. Soon after, each of the Vessels’ Shifters projected holographic screens which enabled them to see the situation.

Shuichi clenched his fist at the sight of the people trying to flee from Cyone and the Gargonema which was played on the projected screen. Misae’s worries escalated upon seeing the unconscious humans on her screen. Erika’s Shifter projected a holographic map in order for her to locate the exact point of the scene of attack. After that, they dematerialized the screens and faced each other.

“Let’s go.”

Determined nods were all that Shuichi need for him to realize that Misae and Erika were on the same league as he does.

“I can’t believe we’re doing this again,” he couldn’t help murmuring as he faced the two girls.

Misae smiled as she tapped Shuichi’s shoulder. “We’ve already chosen to do this, Shuichi. It’s true that there are still things we needed to clear about our choice with regards to becoming a Seitenger. But we can learn them as we go on. We’ll be fine.”

“Besides, it’s not as if we’re going to let those Tareans destroy the world that even our parents had protected for our sakes. That’s why they saved us that night, right? They knew we’re meant to do this,” Erika added.

“Now it’s just a matter of choice whether or not we’re going to fulfill this task that lies on the path that we’re meant to take.”

Misae and Erika nodded as a response to Shuichi’s statement.

“But that didn’t stop you, right? If that’s the case, we need to head out. Itsuki and Eichirou will be needing our help.” With that, the three Vessels immediately headed out.

Yet before they could even get out of the gate, they heard Kanako called out to them. They turned to see the said young woman approaching them.

“Kanako, you should stay inside. You still need to rest,” Shuichi said with concern.

Kanako heaved a sigh and shook her head. “Not this time. Besides, until now, I’ve been trained to be prepared for this day. I’ve been trained to help the Vessels with their battles. That’s what I’m trying to do now.”

The 3 youths frowned at the girl’s statement. Kanako spoke again before they could even ask her about it. “I’ll guide you during your battle with Cyone. You just have to remember one thing that will surely help you win this battle or even those that is about to come.”

With that statement, they listened to Kanako as she stated her point behind her words.

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Itsuki and Eichirou arrived at the scene of the attack first. They were horrified at the sight of the unconscious victims and a few others trying to flee. The number of casualties were even greater than the last time. As one of the Gargonema tried to hit a little girl and his brother, the two Vessels rushed to their aid and fought the creatures out of the way.

“You go ahead. We’ll handle it from here, okay?” Itsuki said reassuringly to the young boy. He smiled at the sight of the little girl looking worriedly and frightened at him. Then he faced the young boy once more. “Protect her, okay? Even if you’re scared, I know you’ll be able to protect her.”

Though confused at the young man’s reason for saying that to him, the young boy somehow understood what it meant. He nodded with determination evident in his eyes. But soon after, his eyes widened at the sight of the skeleton creature that was about to strike his savior from behind.

“Watch out! Behind you!”

Itsuki didn’t have to turn around to deal with the Gargonema. All he did was to extract the blade of his Hyakureider to stab it on its stomach. He soon noticed four more Gargonema coming at him and the two frightened kids. The composer only dealt with it by firing energy beams towards the enemies from the bladeless end of his cylindrical weapon. After taking them all down, he faced the kids. “Go! We’ll make sure they won’t chase after you.”

The two kids heeded Itsuki’s words and fled the place. After that, Itsuki saw Eichirou easily dealing with the Gargonema with just the older Vessel’s strength. The composer wasn’t surprised at the sight, though. He knew even before that Eichirou’s strength was something that the man was proud of. He soon focused himself on dealing with the other Gargonema using his Hyakureider.

But the two Vessels didn’t anticipate the attack that Cyone sent to them. Two scales almost covered their faces which they managed to evade. However, those scales soon exploded as soon as it hit the ground in which the resulting blast threw them away.

Eichirou raised his head only to see Cyone laughing at the sight of them already hurt because of the explosion.

“I’m really starting to hate this fish head whenever he laughs like that,” Eichirou muttered as he braced himself to rise up. Itsuki grunted in agreement and followed suit.

“What’s wrong, puny Vessels? Can’t take a hit on me?” Cyone mockingly laughed once more. “You’re nothing like Siriso-sama had said. I’m even wondering how those puny skills of yours managed to defeat Juman.”

“Well, I guess I can understand why you were created as a fish. Even your words stink,” Itsuki retorted icily.

Of course, it was expected to send Cyone in a fit of rage almost easily. “What did you say?!”

“And I think your stinkiness made you deaf, as well,” Itsuki added rather calmly. Soon after, he smirked. “Hey, Eichirou-san… Why don’t we show this stinky fish head how our puny skills works on cleaning his dirty mouth?”

Eichirou wasn’t surprised at the suggestion. He sighed and helped Itsuki stand up despite the pain from the injuries they received from the explosion. “I’ll be glad to be of assistance to you on that.”

“Well, don’t leave us behind if you’re serious about doing that.”

The two boys turned around to the direction where the voice came from. They smiled at the sight of Shuichi, Misae, and Erika approaching them.

“Seriously, Eichirou… Will you please stop acting weird every time?”

The said man frowned and cocked his head to one side at Shuichi’s words. “What do you mean?”

Misae smiled and slightly shook her head. “I think he means don’t decide to disappear without even informing us. If you have a problem that truly bothers you, you can tell it to us. We’ve been doing that for ten years now. It won’t make any difference if you still do that now that we’re chosen to become Seitengers.”

A sheepish smile while scratching the back of his head was the reply the archer got from Eichirou. “Sorry for that, Mi-chan.”

“We’re used to see you acting childish than the rest of us almost all the time, Eichirou-san,” Erika said with a grin. “We like you best trying to lighten up the serious atmosphere around us. If there’s something that makes you sad or disturbed, tell it to us so that we’ll try our best to help you out. Okay?”

Eichirou couldn’t believe what he had just heard. To be honest, he wanted to cry. But maybe he could do that later. “Eri-chan…”

“We’re not just friends, Eichirou. We’re also a team, especially now that Hideoki-san told us the path that we have chosen to take,” Shuichi added with a smile.

Though surprised, Itsuki and Eichirou faced each other with an ‘I-told-you-so’ look on their expressions. Soon after, they nodded in determination and agreement.

But the short moment was interrupted with a growl coming from Cyone. Obviously, the Triske Monster didn’t like the atmosphere hovering around the Vessels. The monster fired more scales toward the team. Eichirou deflected it all with his Hyakureider.

“I guess our opponent wants some of our attention, as well,” Itsuki commented in a condescending tone.

“Then why don’t we give our attention to him, Onii-chan?” Erika said as she went along with her brother’s words.

The rest positioned themselves as they prepared to fight.

“Why not? We’ll have to make that fish pay for what he did to Kanako-chan and the others, after all,” Misae responded.

“Well, that’s what we have to do now,” Eichirou added.

The Vessels flipped their Celestial Shifters open. “Let’s go!”

With that command from Shuichi, the Vessels’ fight began.

“Spirit Power, Cross Shift!”

As soon as they recited their transformation phrases, the five of them began transforming into Seitengers armed with their Hyakureiders. Shuichi, Eichirou, Itsuki, Misae, and Erika’s Celestial Shifters allowed them to transform into SeitenFire, SeitenWater, SeitenEarth, SeitenWind, and SeitenLight respectively.

Just as before when the Vessels transformed for the first time, the Tareans were flabbergasted yet alert at the same time.

“So what Siriso-sama told me was the truth,” Cyone uttered in slight disbelief but soon prepared himself. “The Seitengers came back.”

“Heaven’s Hundred Blaze, SeitenFire!”

“Heaven’s Hundred Outpour, SeitenWater!”

“Heaven’s Hundred Tremor, SeitenEarth!”

“Heaven’s Hundred Howl, SeitenWind!”

“Heaven’s Hundred Shine, SeitenLight!”

“The Hundred Heavens’ greatest victory! Utsuwa Sentai Seitenger!”

As soon as it was done, Cyone was laughing maniacally at the sight. “Now this is going to be so much fun!” Without warning, he fired larger version of the energy-sucking scales towards the Seitengers who still managed to evade it. The scales exploded as soon as it hit the ground.

The Seitengers used the rage of blast from the explosion to begin their counterattack. Upon summoning their respective Vessel Medallions (Heaven Lion, Heaven Shark, Heaven Tiger, Heaven Falcon, and Heaven Dove), they placed it into a slot of their Hyakureiders. One of the bladeless end of their sidearms glowed with their respective elemental colors. They pointed it to the scrambling Gargonema trying to find they way out of the smoke from the explosion.

“Hyakurei Laser!” the five Seitengers recited in unison.

Silhouettes of heads of the lion, shark, tiger, falcon, and dove was formed from the glow of their weapon before pushing the yellow button and shouting the command “Shoot!” Rapid laser beams were shot from the Hyakureider which eliminated almost all of the Gargonema and somewhat weakened Cyone since the Triske Monster was hit with the beams, as well.

“Let’s do this!”

Each of the Seitengers extracted the blades of their Hyakureider and started fighting the remaining Gargonema. Or clearly, it was SeitenEarth, SeitenWind, and SeitenLight who dealt with the creatures.

“We’ll handle the Gargonema. Just go and deal with Cyone before that monster start throwing scales again,” SeitenEarth instructed, especially to SeitenWater that SeitenFire couldn’t help agreeing.

Eichirou was the one who should deal with Cyone, after all. And Shuichi thought that, as SeitenFire, he would support SeitenWater as the water warrior deal with the monster.

With that, SeitenEarth began slashing Gargonema coming at him with their swords and spears which he still managed to block and evade. “You got to be quicker than that if you really want to defeat me.” He was able to block and deflect two swords that was about to strike him. Soon after, he pushed one of the five buttons that encircled the Hyakureider which was colored green. The blade of his sidearm glowed as leaf silhouettes surrounded it.

“Tremulous Power! Heaven’s Rumbling Land Strike!”

As SeitenEarth delivered the said sword attack, the Gargonema he was fighting exploded to bits just like that. “Good thing I studied the use of this weapon.”

Meanwhile, SeitenWind was dealing with her own batch of Gargonema that kept on coming which of course had irritated her. Her irritation somehow made her able to easily destroy the enemies. It appeared she was putting too much force with each of her strike.

“This will finish you off easily.” As she said that, she pushed the green button of her Hyakureider. Her weapon emanated a yellow glow as gust of wind appeared to surround the blade. “Howling Power! Heaven’s Turbulent Wind Strike!”

With that attack, SeitenWind was able to eliminate her remaining opponents without a problem. “I guess holding other weapons aside from bow and arrow isn’t that bad.”

While it all happened, SeitenLight fearlessly battled her own set of Gargonema as she put every inch of forced and rage in each of her slashing attacks and kicks to throw her opponents. Truly, she was different from before she even knew she was chosen to become a Seitenger. It was like every attack she delivered, she was trying to prove something–that she could do it without a second thought as long as it would help her, her brother, and her friends. She struck a few more oncoming Gargonema before she charged up her Hyakureider as she pushed the green button.

The blade of her weapon glowed in white as star-like silhouettes surrounded it. “Shining Power! Heaven’s Blinding Light Strike!” Upon reciting that, she delivered a cross clash to the remainder of the Gargonema she was dealing with. “Now I’m starting to like this.”

With the Gargonema eliminated, the only problem that they needed to deal with and worry about was Cyone. That’s where SeitenFire and SeitenWater comes in since they were the ones fighting the said Triske Monster. But from the looks of it, the fight wasn’t easy as Cyone was still able to hold off the two Seitengers.

“You weaklings are truly asking for your funeral,” Cyone said as he blocked the Seitengers’ sword strikes with his fish scale-like shield she summoned.

“Sorry, but we’re not planning to die yet. At least, not until we finally destroy you,” SeitenWater responded before he sent a downward slash with all his force which destroyed the shield in the process.

Immediately after that, SeitenFire struck Cyone with his Hyakureider that sent the monster flying and made it weak. The monster moaned in pain.

“Now who’s the weakling, huh?” SeitenFire mocked as he watched Cyone stood up.

“You bastards! I’ll make you eat your words!” Cyone sent two spinning fish scales—just like shurikens—towards the two warriors.

But to the monster’s surprise, SeitenFire easily blocked it with his Hyakureider and deflected them quite easily soon after.

Cyone was about to do it again when vines began sprouting out from the ground and the surrounding trees. The monster was surprised but got distracted by a blinding light. He soon found himself bound by the vines which had truly made him immobile.

“What is this? Get me out of here!” Cyone demanded in rage.

“Sorry, but that’s not possible,” SeitenWater said as he stabbed his Hyakureider to the ground.

Soon after, SeitenWind came to SeitenFire’s side. Both of them delivered their respective elemental attacks to Cyone. The wind spell only increased the fire attack’s temperature which has easily burned and roasted the monster but not the vines that bound it. It appeared that SeitenLight’s spell somewhat protected the magical vines.

SeitenWater’s Hyakureider that he stabbed to the ground actually became his medium of delivering one of his strongest spells using ice. With enough concentration, he delivered his freesing spell from underground toward the roasted Triske Monster, making it unable to move or even react.

“The finisher! Shuichi-san, Eichirou-san!”

The blue warrior pulled out his sidearm before he and SeitenFire pushed the green button meant for delivering blade attacks. SeitenWater’s Hyakureider glowed in blue color with water surrounding it while SeitenFire’s weapon emanated a red glow as fire surrounded the blade.

“Outpouring Power! Heaven’s Surging Water Strike!”

“Blazing Power! Heaven’s Raging Fire Strike!”

With both spells recited, the two warriors delivered it to the frozen Cyone who couldn’t do anything anymore to counter it. The two elemental strike spells finally destroyed the Triske Monster. The magical vines that bound the monster also disappeared. SeitenEarth and SeitenLight approached the other three Seitengers.

“That was one strategy, Eichirou,” SeitenFire commented with a laugh. He tapped SeitenWater’s shoulder. “But… you did it.”

“Don’t make him take all the credit, Shuichi-san. We don’t want him jumping around after this,” SeitenLight said which earned a whining tone from the blue Vessel.

“What was that supposed to mean, Eri-chan?”

But it was soon interrupted with a warning. “It’s not yet over, guys.”

The rest of them immediately understood what it meant. Moments later, they saw the dark orb gather the scattered Tarean energy and revived Cyone by turning him into a giant.

“This time, I’ll steal your energy that will make you fall into despair and hopelessness!” The monster fired a fish scale to the Seitengers which barely evaded somehow.

“Okay. What I know right now, this monster is crazy and we’re close to getting crushed by that scales of his,” SeitenWater ranted as they regroup.

SeitenEarth exhaled. “I hate it when we have to deal with a Triske Seed.”

“That’s why we’re here, Itsuki.”

The said warrior looked down to see his Vessel Medallion slightly glowing. “Terraiger!”

“We will help you, Eichirou. Just summon us.”

“Sereo!” SeitenWater exclaimed in obvious glee. He faced his teammates after that.

“Let’s go! Firion, I’ll leave it to you,” SeitenFire said.

“No problem, partner.”

“Let’s get along, Skylon,” SeitenWind greeted.

“There’s nothing to worry about, Misae-chan.”

“It’s nice to be able to see you again, Dovight,” SeitenLight stated.

“I feel the same way, Lady Erika.”

After that, the Seitengers wasted no time in summoning their respective Grand Vessel Spirits.

“Soar forth, Grand Vessel Spirits!”

As soon as they recited the command, they pushed the red button on their Hyakureider and thrust their sidearms to the air. The portal from the sky soon materialized and five animal-like mecha descended from it one by one. The Seitengers boarded their respective Grand Vessel Spirits and placed their Hyakureider to the podium-lik control mechanism of their cockpits. They did so after retracting their sidearms’ blade.

“Let’s go!” SeitenFire commanded.

The Grand Vessel Spirits which the Seitengers boarded had charged towards Cyone who threw several energy-charged scales to them. In SeitenFire’s control, Firion ran faster as they did their best to evade the attacks while charging forward. Firion bit the arm that Cyone used to throw the scales. Terraiger, under SeitenEarth’s control, took it as an opportunity to pounce on the Triske Seed. The tiger struck its head to the monster’s body, throwing Cyone to the ground in the process.

With that done, Skylon and Dovight made a skydive straight toward the fallen monster. But much to their surprise, giant spears and sowrds from several enlarged Gargonemas struck them and threw the falcon and the dove instead. It was a good thing Sereo’s wings caught the two girls’ mecha before they could be thrown farther.

“What in the world…?”

“I only heard about the Trsike Seed, but not giant Gargonemas,” SeitenWater commented as he looked around, only to be irritated at the sight of giant Gargonemas guarding Cyone as the Triske Seed regroup.

“I hate it when things start going out of hand,” SeitenLight said. But with that said, she and Dovight still dealt with the giant Gargonemas.

“Sereo, we’ll do our best for now,” SeitenWater said as he and his Grand Vessel Spirit flew towards the Gargonemas. “Shark Icicle Ray!”

The beam that Sereo released from his mouth froze a few of the Gargonemas and Dovight struck them with a lightning speed. But they didn’t anticpate the scales that Cyone threw at them.

“Eichirou! Erika!”

“We can’t fight while we’re separated like this.”

“There has to be a ways to combine our powers and make it strong enough to overcome all of these monsters.”

Well, at that point, SeitenEarth’s words made SeitenWind realize something. “That’s it! Kanako-chan’s words ealier before we left the mansion.”

Of course, it had caught SeitenWater’s attention. “What do you mean by that? What did Kana-chan say?”

“Well, it has something to do with our lesson yesterday,” SeitenLight answered.

“Hey! Don’t leave us out, okay? What did Kanako-san say to you?” Now SeitenEarth became curious and at the same time, impatient.

But before any of them could continue, Cyone growled so loud which caused the Seitengers to cover their ears.

“Stop mocking me by murmuring to yourselves! You have to deal with me.” After that, the Triske Monster began throwing more scales to the Grand Vessel Spirits.

But SeitenFire maneuvered Firion forward as the lion fired laser beams from its mouth followed by SeitenEarth’s command to fire more beam attacks to destroy the oncoming scales and eliminate a few of the Gargonemas.

“This monster demands so much attention,” SeitenEarth muttered before focusing on SeitenFire. “Weren’t you supposed to say something?”

SeitenFire sighed before speaking. “Kanako mentioned that the initial purpose of us studying Reikarajutsu to invocate Hasureiki is for us to create one of the greatest warriors powerful enough to deal with the Triske Seed. All we need to do achieve that is to focus our Hasureiki on a single point—the five of us.”

“But we haven’t properly invoked our Hasureiki to an acceptable form.”

“Unless… you’re saying that the main purpose of that training was the focus of power to a single point followed by proper invocation from that particular gathered power to deliver the attack.”

SeitenFire nodded at he let out an agreeing sound. “I believe that’s the case. At this point, I won’t doubt Kanako’s words.”

“How are we supposed to do that?” SeitenWater later asked when he finally understood the point of their conversation.

Silence surrounded the Seitengers for a short while. And then—

“A combination of our Grand Vessel Spirits to form the Heavenly King. Or at least Kanako said it that way.”

“But are we really ready to do that?” SeitenLight couldn’t help asking because of worry.

“If we don’t do it now, we’ll never be able to know if we’re ready,” SeitenEarth responded.

SeitenWind let out an audible sigh. “Itsuki-kun’s right. We got to do it now.”

“Shuichi, you take the lead,” SeitenWater said.

The red warrior chuckled at the slightly demanding and hasty tone that SeitenWater used. But he understood what the blue warrior wanted to happen.

“Let’s do this!”

The five Grand Vessel Spirits fired laser beams towards the oncoming Gargonema in order to create a distraction.

“Utsuwa Gattai! Formation Build Up!”

At that command, the Grand Vessel Spirits began changing their forms in order to create a formation consisting of their bodies. Firion began changing to become the head and the torso combining Sereo and Terraiger that changed their forms to become the right and the left feet. Skylon and Dovight became the left and the right arms respectively befor combining with Firion’s new form. Skylon’s wings separated from its body to form a sword-like weapon while Dovight’s wings changed to become the shield.

After that, the giant robot formed was poised and ready for battle.

“Heavenly King, Descend! SeitenOh!”

Of course, the appearance of a new formidable warrior had surprised Cyone. “Siriso-sama didn’t mention anything about those puny Seitengers creating this.”

Well, it wasn’t just Cyone who was surprised at the outcome of the combination. Even the Seitengers who found themselves in a larger egg-shaped cockpit were surprised, as well.

“I guess this is achievement for us,” SeitenLight stated as she faced SeitenFire who was at the center.

“But we’ll celebrate later when we’re done giving this fishhead the attention he truly wants,” SeitenWater said which earned him determined nods from the others.

“Let’s go!”

With that, SeitenOh charged toward the Gargonema approaching. Using the Sky Sword, the robot struck each of the monsters and delivered devastating strikes and slashes to their opponents. The Seitengers even fired several energy beams to the rest of the Gargonema which made it easy to eliminate them.

“Now our attention is yours alone now, Cyone,” SeitenEarth said sarcastically.

Cyone growled in anger. “Don’t mess with me!” Once more, he fired energy scales toward SeitenOh but the robot easily blocked it using the Wing Shield.

“I guess that’s the best he can do now,” SeitenWind commented.

“Then let’s make it his last.” With that, the Seitengers removed their Hyakureiders from its placed and pointed it towards Cyone.

The act allowed SeitenOh to charged up the Sky Sword with the Seitengers and the Grand Vessel Spirits’ combined Hasureiki in preparation for delivering the finishing attack.

“Sky Sword, Divine Break!”

The tip of their Hyakureiders glowed and with conviction, pushed the white button of their sidearms the same way the Seitengers fired their laser attacks using the yellow button.

SeitenOh, in turn, delivered a devastating strike of the Sky Sword to Cyone which cut the monster and exploded soon after.

The Seitengers could only sigh in relief before cheering for defeating another Triske Seed.

“Stage set!”

xxxxxxxx

From one area of the park where the battle of the two giants could be observed, Nanami smiled as she eyed the SeitenOh. Together with her was her son Akira and his friend Natsume.

“I had no idea SeitenOh’s this cool,” Natsume commented in awe.

“I only hear stories about this. I have to agree with you, Natsume,” Akira added. “Maybe we can ask them to allow us to board on it one day.”

The idea seemed to appeal to the other boy. “Well, let’s start convincing them, then.”

The older woman shook her head as she heard that before turning to the direction where Hideoki was watching the battle earlier.

“I can’t believe I’m seeing this again after 25 years,” Hideoki murmured as he shut his eyes. “And it refreshes every memory I thought I had forgotten since then.”

Nanami remained silent as she watched Hideoki succumbed into deep thinking. “But this is something that we know will continue to happen until the Tareans are finally eliminated, Hideoki. What happened that night changed everything for those kids and for us, as well. I’m sure it’s also painful for them. But look at how you’ve raised them all this time.”

The man then opened his eyes and eyed the SeitenOh once more. But for some reason, he could it as something which was more vibrant than how he was looking at it a while ago. At that moment, he immediately understood what Nanami meant.

“I can’t believe it…” Hideoki could only say as he smiled at the sight. “How could they have managed to accept the responsibility despite not having full knowledge about the nature of the battle?”

“They have the potential that will allow them to go on fighting and fulfill the task. We’ll just have to train them hard. And maybe… Though I know it’s futile, maybe we could hope for them to defeat the Tareans—especially Emperor Darshao—for good.”

No words were spoken after that.

“At least there’s hope that remains. Even a small amount can truly help those kids.”

xxxxxxxx

“Itsu-chan,” Eichirou called out which had caught the said composer’s attention as they head home after their battle.

“Is there something wrong, Eichirou-san?” For some reason, Itsuki didn’t mind the nickname that the photographer had called him. It might have sounded quite childish. But somehow, he got used to it.

Eichirou ran towards Itsuki before stopping in front of the younger male Vessel. Moments later, he bowed to the composer which surprised the latter, of course. Even Shuichi and the two girls were taken aback.

“Thank you… for making me understand,” Eichirou sincerely said as he raised his head and faced Itsuki. “I owe you one.”

Upon recovering from surprise, Itsuki just smiled (which he doesn’t usually do) and slightly shook his head. “Don’t talk as if I’ve done something really big. It so happened that I could see through you somehow.”

“Even still, thank you.”

“Alright, I won’t argue with you on that one,” Itsuki said resignedly. “But if you really want to thank me, I think you should fix things with her first.” He gestured to indicate something that was just behind Eichirou.

Eichirou soon turned around and was surprised to see Kanako waiting for them. His eyes softened at the sight of his childhood friend’s melancholic features as she faced him. Realizing that Itsuki was right, he took a deep breath and approached Kanako. He stopped in front of her but he seemed to be at a loss of words that he wanted to say.

“K-Kana-chan—”

“I’m glad you came back safe, Eichirou,” Kanako said that cut off the photographer’s words.

No words came out after that between them. They just stared at each other, as if waiting for one of them to spill it out.

As for the other Vessels, they could only watch the scene and wait to see more progress in anticipation.

“Is it really okay with you? I mean about you getting involved with our battle with the Tareans.”

Kanako smiled as she eyed her friend. “Eichirou, in case no one told you, I’m a descendant of a chosen Vessel from a long time ago. And I already chose to support the Seitengers in every way I can with my skills regardless of the situation. I’ve been trained to do this. I guess it’s just a bonus that the currently chosen Vessels happen to be the people whom I’ve known for a long time.”

“It doesn’t bother you?”

“You could say I’m more worried than bothered. But that only makes me even more determined to help you guys. At least I could promise you that as I protect your identities.”

Well, hearing the determination in Kanako’s voice made Eichirou finally accept his friend’s offer to support them. In turn, he ended up embracing the said girl. “Thank you so much, Kana-chan. I’m really glad you’re my friend.”

Kanako returned the gesture as her smile never left her face. The others also smiled at the scene in front of them which relieved them at the same time.

For now, that moment was surely something worth cherishing. At least, before they head out to another battle with their sworn enemy. But that would be in another story.

End of Vessel 2

Next time on Utsuwa Sentai Seitenger:

Vessel 3: The Traveling Novelist

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