Middle (A Big Hero 6 Fan Fic)

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"Sakura! Hey, sis, wait up!" a voice called. I looked around before putting my head down and trudging to my next class. My brother, Hiro, bounced along beside me like an excited puppy, but with a smug look on his face. I rolled my eyes as I turned into English. I'd decided to take it last minute, hoping to have at least one class where I wasn't completely ignored. Of course, my little brother did the exact same thing as I did, and took it. I guessed I should feel flattered, but all I felt was the indigestion of bitter resentment.

I am Sakura Hamada, 17 years old, making me three years younger than Tadashi, and almost four years older than Hiro. I stand at an average 5'1.5", and have the same black hair that my brothers have. I cut my hair and donated some to charity when I was Hiro's age. I was proud of the attention it gave me, but it was only for a little while as Hiro began to show gifts in robotics, much like our older brother. I, on the other hand, had shown well-rounded cooking skills, and a knack for programming. Simply by looking at a program, I could tell what the issue was, whether it be a typo or a paradox. I cringed and refrained from covering my ears when the PA system shrieked and started up. 

I smiled softly. Line 427. They made a bit of a typo, then hired a bad electrician, I snorted. Amateurs.

"Mister Xiang?" came the principal's nasally voice, clipped with just the slightest of slurs.

"Yes, Mrs. Seoul?" replied Mr. Xiang, not looking up from his newspaper. Hiro and I took our seats. He'd chosen to sit next to me, and I had begrudgingly gone along with it. I pulled out a book and opened it to where I had bookmarked it.

"Is Sakura there? I'd like to see her in my office," Mrs. Seoul snarked. The class "oohhh'd" as I gathered my things and looked at the teacher. He glanced up at me and flicked two fingers toward the door. I nodded and left the room, trying not to cheer as, for once, I had been noticed as a stand-alone person. I did allow myself a small fist pump, though, as I walked down the hall.

I walked into the principal's office and sat down in a plastic chair to wait for her. The receptionist, Mrs. Ling, was playing a game of Solitaire on her computer. It glitched out and her computer crashed. She sighed and looked at me pleadingly. I laughed and left my things to help her boot her computer back up. I had a memory stick with me that had everything she needed. Within two minutes her computer was working again. She thanked me and put Solitaire back up. The phone rang and she picked it up. "Alright, Mrs. Seoul, I'll send her in," she said before hanging up and looking over at me. I closed my book and gathered my belongings before heading into the principals office.

"Hello, Ms. Hamada," the principal said. Tadashi and Aunt Cass were both in there. A third chair sat vacant and waiting for me. I sat down, suddenly feeling every eye in the room turn to me. My eyes widened and I studied the carpet. I noticed an error in the programming there too. 

Line 746. Knit instead of a purl, I thought. That's what I do to keep calm, I find the errors in material things.

Tadashi was the first to speak after a long period of silence. "So the principal has told us that you haven't been participating in any of your classes. Care to explain?" he asked gently. I barked a laugh.

"'Not participating?!' Are you mad? I've been participating from day freaking one! You try sitting in class next to Hiro. I'll give an answer, the teacher will say wrong, Hiro will say the exact same answer I did, and the teacher will say correct," I fumed. Aunt Cass silenced me with a look. 

"I've heard from your teachers, Sakura," she said. "They tell me that you've been struggling. If you don't bring your grades up, you won't pass."

"Urgh! I'll prove it, then! Let me wear a hidden camera, and I'll prove that I am participating in class!" I cried, fighting back tears. I lowered my gaze to keep them from seeing the water building in my eyes.

"Fair enough," Mrs. Seoul said. The final bell rang. "In the meantime, go home and come back tomorrow with a better attitude, Ms. Hamada, or you will be expelled!"

I bit back a retort. Tadashi handed me a helmet as I put my stuff back in my bag and threw it on my back. I put my helmet on when we got outside. Aunt Cass and Hiro got in the truck while Tadashi and I rode on his scooter. He zipped to his university

"What are we doing here?" I asked as he parked. He looked back at me in surprise, as though he'd forgotten what I was doing there.

"I've got a night class. We'll go home after, I promise," he assured me. "Besides, you haven't seen my lab yet."

Great! More things to analyze and more people to ignore me...I thought unenthusiastically. We walked in and he dropped me off before nipping inside his studio to grab some things. I felt my innate curiosity overtake my shyness and I began to explore, keeping my hands behind my back.

__________________

Proud leader of The Outliers!

There will be a link below of HTTYD 2 put to the song Centuries (Fall Out Boys). It's a condensed version of the whole movie and worth the watch.

Events!

Big Update Scavenger Hunt. Hints dropped daily.

Speed Stinger Race Track Idea!

Use this link to share your support and feedback! Let's make it possible to race on Speed Stingers!

 

Check out my fan fics

-Big Challenges (Finished. Please Comment, and read the sequel as well!)

-A Hidden Life (Sequel to Big Challenges.)

-Last and First

-First Generation (Daughter of Hiccup and Astrid)

-Great Ocean Gems

-A World of Discoveries

-Being Me

-The Black Cowl (Also a roleplay. PM me if you wish to join.)

-Twice the Twins, Twice the Fun

-The Dragonsblood Curse (With special thanks to Scensoredearchers) 

-First Friends 

-Last Remnant

-A Different Angle (A Big Hero 6 fan fic)

-Living a Lie 

-Middle (A Big Hero 6 Fan Fic)

-Welcome to Our Family 

-April Heist (A Big Hero 6 Fan Fic. Graphic Description. Reader's Discretion Advised.)

-A Cyber Kitty Named Wisdom (A Big Hero 6 Fan Fic)

- Gobber's Daughter 

- Adventurous Appreciation

- Bond Between

Please comment and give feedback on them. I value your opinion.

I'm moving some of my fan fictions over to Wattpad. Here's a link to my profile.

Also, if you like reading fan fiction. Please join the Fan Fiction Club

I also have a blog for my fan fic character. Link is at the bottom of my signature (Only available to those living in the United States and Canada. Sorry.)

My favorite reads:

Toothless' Kingdom (Dragonmic14), http://forum.schoolofdragons.com/content/toothlesss-kingdom

Hiccup and Astrid: A Family at Last! (NightFuryLover)

 

Also, if you'd like an uncensored version of my fanfictions, here's the link to Bond Between on Wattpad

 

Link I promised about the condensed version of HTTYD 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JJ8T2-p0W9s

If you see a hacker, you can report them here:

http://forum.schoolofdragons.com/content/sod-hack-watch-if-you-see-hacking-report-it-here

http://forum.schoolofdragons.com/content/sod-anti-hacking-team-open-all-forum-users

 

Spiker. (Whispering Death bouncie courtesy of Hattori!)

(Gronckle edits by Skypeoplephoenix.)

Here's a little side project I was almost finished. I just need to get the racing banners I recently lost due to a glitch back so I can complete it.

I recently created a blog for Nina, so if you're interested, here's the link: http://ninahaddocklife.blogspot.ca

Here are my adopted dragons.

Noche, from Smidvarg's Night Terrors. Thanks snowflake!

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Chapter 1

A girl about Tadashi's age was working on a program for a bike that was hanging up. I studied it from a distance and noticed a small error. I kept my observations to myself, and went to the next stall. I stopped behind a line that was taped to the floor and noticed a strange scent in the air. A strong heat began to grow at my throat, where a locket my parents had given me before their death was sitting. I looked down and bit back a scream when I noticed the necklace glowing hotter than the sun. I looked up at the occupant of the lab and he looked over at me.

"Um..." I said, thinking up an excuse that would give me time to think of a way out. I spotted the source if the beam and an idea struck me. "Could you maybe shut off that machine? It's burning my necklace."

I pointed to it and he yelped. He jumped up with a curse and turned off the beam. I sighed with relief. 

"S-sorry! I thought I'd shut it off. What are you doing in here anyways, kid?" he asked me. His skin was the color of cocoa, and he had a nose as big as my hand.

"Oh, um. I'm just here with my brother Tadashi. He picked me up from school and forgot that I was on the back with him. He has a night class, so we're going home as soon as he's done here," I said. "Oh, and it seems the program you wrote has an error on line seventy-three. You didn't define the depth of the beam." He gawked at me and I shrugged. "Programming is my thing." I rubbed the back of my neck awkwardly, trying to ignore the sudden "all eyes on me" feeling.

"What's your name?" he asked me in a slightly awed tone.

"Sakura Hamada," I said shyly. I held out a hand and he shook it. "And I'm not a kid. I'm 17, and will be graduating high school this year, if and when the teachers realize they've been ignoring me or giving the credit to my little brother Hiro..."

"My name's Wasabi," he said as he shook my hand. "Would you mind showing me where the error you said is?"

"Sure," I said, following him behind the line and to a desk. He pulled out a chip and handed it to me. I pulled out my laptop and a chip reader, plugging them both in before sliding the chip into the reader. Within seconds my computer had zipped through the program and spotted the error, highlighting it in a bold red. I fixed it, saved it, compiled it, then ejected the chip before handing it back to him.

He plugged it into the machine and turned it on. I instinctively spotted the miniature ball of light that was only slightly brighter than a lightbulb. I went over to it and waved a hand behind it. He squealed with alarm until he saw my hand come away without damage.

"See? Now you just need something to contain the light and you'll be in business. Oh, and nice job on electrically inducing the plasma. Very clever," I said. He smiled, then stared wide-eyed at the small ball of light. I packed up my things and left the area. I was immediately approached by the girl working on the bike. I tried to keep from feeling intimidated, but didn't completely succeed. Tadashi came back into the room.

"So," said the young woman. "You're Tadashi's little sister, huh?" I nodded, trying to keep from blushing. "Welcome to the Nerd Lab. Mind helping me with my program? I can't seem to get it to work."

Again I nodded and she lead me back to her station. I started to pull out my laptop again, but she stopped me by shaking her head. I swallowed and pulled out a memory stick that had the program on it. I plugged it into her computer, uploaded it and ran her program through mine. It highlighted several errors. I copied my program to her computer while leaving the original on my computer, then left her to her own devices.

As I left her section Tadashi put a hand on my shoulder, causing me to jump a foot in the air. "What are you doing? I told you to stay out of trouble," he scolded. I gave him a look. "What?"

"The least you could do is tell me which segments to avoid...I almost had this necklace melted off the chain!" I retorted. He flinched at my words. "Oh, and we got our report cards back today. Don't worry though, I'm sure Mrs. Seoul told you all about it." I rolled my eyes and took a seat on a stool that was nearby. He stared at me for a brief moment before shaking his head and heading back to class. He poked his head in momentarily to talk to someone across the room.

"Hey, Fred! Why don't you show my sister around?" he called. I followed his gaze and stifled a yelp when a creature made of synthetic cotton stood and made its way over to me.

"Don't be scared," the creature said, voice garbled as though speaking around a rag. Its head squirmed then the mouth flew open, revealing a young man who had such a calm demeanor around him it was impossible for me to believe that I'd been scared of him. "It's just a suit. I'm Fred, school mascot by day, and by night-" He spun a sigh dramatically before stopping and holding it securely and proudly. "-I am also school mascot."

"Sakura Hamada," I said, offering a hand to shake. "So what's your major?"

"No no no, I'm not a student; but I am a major science enthusiast," he said leading me around.

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Chapter 2

After leading me around and introducing me to such colorful characters as Honey-Lemon, an energetic young lady with big glasses, long blonde hair, and a very slim build, Fred showed me his section, where we sat down after he grabbed the stool from where I'd left it. 

"So what's your specialty?" he asked me after a lengthy pause. I started, having let my mind wander as my eyes picked up errors in everything.

"Oh, um, I'm pretty good at programming, but I'm not exactly gifted in it," I said sheepishly. "I built a computer using three old fridges, and several metres of wiring and a whole pile of circuits. I'm constantly in contact with it, as I gave it A.I. Watch: Computer! Tell me the weather for tomorrow using the most accurate site you can find. Relay the results through speakers."

A robotic purring was heard then an English accented voice said, "Good evening, one and all. The weather for tomorrow is calling for: sunny with cloudy periods. Chance of showers in the evening. Winds of about ten knots. High of 37 with humidity of about 60%." An older gentleman entered the lab and sauntered over to Wasabi's section. I didn't hear what was being said, but I could guess.

My suspicions were confirmed when Wasabi pointed at me from across the room and the man made his way over to where I was seated. I squirmed slightly.

"Hello," he said in a friendly tone. His eyes had a slightly guarded look about them, as though he were hiding a secret pain.

"Hi," I said in response.

"Did you help that young man with his programming?" he asked me. I gulped slightly and nodded. He held out a hand. "May I shake your hand?" I hesitantly did so. "Young lady, I don't know who you are, but you've managed to fix a program that even our top programmers couldn't. What's your name?"

"M-my name's Sakura. Sakura Hamada," I answered, feeling a bit nervous still.

"Sakura, how old are you, 18?" he asked. 

"I'm 17, sir," I replied.

"How close are you to finishing high school?"

"When I prove to my teachers that they've been ignoring my efforts to participate, I'll be graduating inside three months, sir. Why?"

"Have you given much thought into University? You could apply here," he said. "And my name's Robert Callahan, but you can call me Professor."

"Callahan? As in Callahan-Catmull Laws of Robotics?" He nodded. "It is an honor to meet you, Professor."

"It's a pleasure to meet you, Miss Sakura. By the way, do you know where that English accented voice came from?" I bobbed my head, pushing my glasses up on my nose. I tapped the side of them and a holographic projection began to show. Professor Callahan stepped back, surprised. "Impressive. When and how did you make these work?" I took them off and handed them to him.

"Uh, well it's not all that difficult. As long as I'm connected to the internet, I'm connected to my computer. I made it out of three old fridges, a butt-load of circuitry, several metres of wiring, and some help from my brothers as well," I replied. "I used spray cans to give it a cool paint job too."

"That must cost your aunt an awful lot of money," he commented. I shook my head. His eyes widened in surprise. "How does a computer the size of which you're describing not use astronomical amounts of energy?"

"I built a generator," I said simply. Tadashi came in as I was talking to him. He put a bunch of books down and came over to where Professor Callahan and I were talking. He had a pair of helmets in his hands.

"Ready to go, sis?" he asked me. "Hey, Professor."

"Good evening, Mr. Hamada. Burning the midnight oil or just showing your brilliant sister around?" replied he.

"Well I had class, and forgot she was on the back of my bike, so I figured I'd show her the lab," answered my brother. "The teachers say she's having a hard time, and I believe them." I cut a glare at him.

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Chapter 3

On our way home from the university, Tadashi stopped outside an electronics store where I bought a GoPro camera that could be hidden inconspicuously in my necklace. I angled it so that it had the ideal view of my hand being raised. I tested it in-store using a screen they had. Then we went home, grabbed supper, and, after a bit of homework, we went to bed. 

---                                              ----                                                 ---

The next day I put my necklace on, forgetting the camera hidden in it. As we went to class, Hiro was practically bouncing, as it was Friday. The only good thing about Fridays was that the next day was my absolute favorite day. Classes went on as normal, with me saying the correct answer, Hiro repeating my answer and getting the glory. At the end of the day, during study hall, the principal called me into her office.

Aunt Cass was there, but Tadashi, I remembered, had classes until 5. I sat down and waited.

"Well?" Mrs. Seoul said. In a flash I remembered the camera hidden on my necklace and pulled it off. She hooked up the little device to a screen. "Thank you, Miss Hamada. Come back and see me on Monday. We'll determine your educational future at that time." The bell rang. "You're both dismissed." 

"You seem a bit nervous today, Sakura," Aunt Cass said. Hiro bounced up to us, and she immediately turned to him, asking how his day was.

"Yeah, I-" I cut myself off with a sigh when I realized her attention was elsewhere. I looked down at my long-sleeved shirt and fiddled with the cuff, feeling old scars from my self-harming days. It had been a method of coping when no one paid attention to me. I had needed to feel like I was actually alive, and pain was the only thing that confirmed my life. "Nevermind..." I shrugged my bag into a more comfortable position and trudged out into the mid-afternoon sun and to the truck. When we got home, I pulled out the envelope under my pillow and opened it.

"What the-?" I said. I counted the money it contained again and I tried to remember how much I'd had in there that morning. I had $400 in here this morning. Now I've only got $300...I have thieving family members, I thought, anger beginning to turn my life just a bit warmer, and a bit redder than normal. I grabbed $50 and stormed out of the house, saying I was going for a walk. I went around the city, blowing off steam as I thought of possible suspects.

"Aunt Cass doesn't know where my money is hidden, since she barely pays attention to me. Tadashi's too honest to take it without telling me. Hiro or Mochi, because that cat's got it in for me. Hiro is observant, clever, sneaky, and would likely tell a lie to get out of a bad situation," I mumbled as I walked around. I heard a familiar whining and looked up to see Bronco and Officer Reginald. "Hello, Officer Reggie. How's life on the task force?"

"Oh, it's good, Sakura. I can't thank you enough for suggesting a rescue for me," he said. "He's really good with kids, and even frightened adults too. How'd you teach him to do that?"

"You can't teach nature to be something it's not. If Bronco wasn't nice, he'd snap no matter how much training he went through. He's just naturally a sweet dog," I said. I crouched down and began petting and socializing with the dog.

"You seem a bit troubled. Everything okay at home?" Reggie asked me, kneeling next to me and joining me in petting his German Shepherd mix.

"Huh? Oh, yeah, I just found out that someone's been stealing my money. It's nothing, I'll figure something out," I said dismissively.

"Here," he said, handing me a packet of powder. "Sprinkle some of this on your money then spray it with a bit of vinegar. It'll stain the thief's hands. It comes out with baking soda and a bit of warm water." 

"Thanks, Reggie!" I said, giving him and Bronco both a hug. Bronco gave me a lick and put a paw on my shoulder as a hug. "Awww!" I straightened. "Well, I've gotta go. Thanks for the talk and the powder. I'll let you know who it is when I catch them."

"It's no trouble, kiddo. It's the least I can do for you since you brought Bronco and I together," he said.

I turned and headed home, stopping off at an ice cream store for some soft-serve coffee-chocolate swirl in a cone. As I took the last bite I rounded the corner and stopped dead in my tracks. I smelled a familiar scent and looked down to see I was about to step in a big steaming pile of dog poop. I wrinkled my nose but got out a poo bag and scooped it up, looking around for my mechanical best friend. I spotted one about ten yards away and dropped the bag in the slot, waiting patiently for the money to come out. I grabbed the money and change that came out then turned and headed home. I deposited the money and change in my envelope, then used the powder and the vinegar as instructed. Then I set my alarm on my watch, ate supper, and went to bed.

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Chapter 4

My watch’s alarm rang quietly, rousing me from a light sleep. I turned it off as I swung my legs out of my sleeping nook. It was six AM on Saturday, which normally would be a bad thing, but for me was one of the best things to happen to me since last week, when I did the exact same thing. Today I helped the community. I got up and dressed in the near pitch black, using the light from my watch whenever I needed to. I didn’t bother with breakfast, planning on grabbing something quick from the coffee shop that was en route to my first stop of the day: Gladys Wiggins’ home.

I’d begun helping Gladys out after she and her husband ran into me, literally, with their car as I was crossing the street. She’d invited me back to their place and I hesitantly went along, thinking that perhaps they were some sort of murderous, insane couple who had chosen me as their next victim. I was extraordinarily grateful when they asked me to help them after visiting them for a week. I’d fallen into the rhythm of helping them around the house and with little chores. When her husband, Lennie, died in his sleep at the hospital, I had taken it upon myself to look after Gladys, taking her on weekly trips to the grocery store on Saturdays. I slipped shoes on my feet and left after quietly closing the door behind me. I sighed with relief as I trotted down the street in the pre-dawn hours. I paused briefly on the bridge to watch the sunrise. I closed my eyes and made a wish, as I always did, and smiled as the sun began to warm my face, tiny increments of the light bathing my face as it rose. I waited until it was past my shoulders before I turned and continued walking, opening my eyes as I did so. I shivered as a brisk wind blew past me. I had the vaguest feeling of being followed, but when I looked around I saw a large crowd of people, so I shrugged and continued. Gladys lived three blocks north of the bridge in an old Victorian-era house. I unlocked the gate and entered the small, tidy yard. I followed the winding grey stone pathway up to the door where I rang the bell and stepped back politely.

Gladys opened the door after a moment. “Oh! Hello, Sakura, I wasn’t expecting you so early,” she said with a warm, welcoming smile. “Is that a friend of yours?” I looked to where she was pointing and spotted Tadashi trying to read a newspaper while spying on me. He saw me looking and nodded before getting on his scooter and speeding away.

“That was my older brother, but he’s busy today, so I wouldn’t worry about him,” I said dismissively. Inside my stomach was in knots, and I was at risk of losing my breakfast sandwich of an egg, five pieces of bacon, with humus and mayo on a gluten-free rice bagel. I had my satchel slung casually over my shoulder and around my neck as per my usual. She stepped aside and invited me in. As soon as I passed the threshold I was surrounded in a warm, comforting scent that immediately settled my stomach. I took my shoes off and put a pair of slippers on. I followed her to the kitchen where a batch of rolls was sitting on the island, ready to go. Their golden brown tops had the slightest hint of being freshly buttered, and in spite of the fact that I’d already eaten, my mouth watered.

Gladys was puttering around getting ready for our day at the farmers market. She always baked a dozen batches of her rolls, and they sold like wildfire. Everyone knew her baking, and always wanted a piece of it. I recalled once Allistair Krei asking for her recipe, which she politely declined to answer. She then proceeded to inform him that she would never sell her recipe as it had been in her family for generations, and wasn’t meant to be outside the family. She had, however, given me the recipe, on a card, which, after memorizing it, I destroyed. I’d made some rolls with Aunt Cass using the recipe Gladys had given me, then adding a pinch of cinnamon to enhance the flavor. After giving Aunt Cass the recipe, claiming I had come up with it myself, I left her to her own devices, and now the rolls were one of the best sellers.

“Ready to go?” she asked me, startling me from my thoughts. I nodded and helped her into her shoes, then got mine on and we headed out the door. We got into her car and she let me drive with the rolls in the back and a batch of oatmeal raisin cookies in her lap. We pulled into her designated parking spot and parked. This was our weekly ritual: I spend half the day with her, and she gives me a batch of oatmeal raisin cookies as payment.

As I helped Gladys with the stall I couldn't shake the feeling of being watched. I thought I spied Tadashi in the crowd multiple times, but each time a second glance caused him to disappear. That is, except for one time when he bought a dozen rolls from Gladys' stall. He stopped in front of me and I served him. He watched me the whole time with a gaze that was intense enough to be nerve-wracking. When I gave him his order, he paid and made me look at him as I took the money, with some difficulty as he held onto the money briefly before letting it go. After that I noticed the occasional flashing, as though from a camera.

An hour later, Gladys had sold out. She put the sign up and, after gathering our belongings, we left. As we drove home, she instructed me to pull into a drive-thru. We waited at some lights before we turned in, and a transport truck pulled up next to us. Instantly I began to feel nervous. That nervousness only increased when a second truck pulled up on the other side of us. I put my blinker on to indicate my turn, and when the light turned, I did too, keeping a safe distance from the truck. We grabbed an ice cream each and parked while we enjoyed them.

"You did good with your discomfort around those trucks," she commented to me as we licked our rapidly melting dairy delights.

"Thanks, Gladys. I tried to keep my focus on the road ahead of me," I said. between licks. I spotted Tadashi and his scooter not far from us. He nodded to me and I acknowledged his presence using the same gesture. Then he revved his engine and sped off.

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Chapter 5

After we parked back at Gladys' house, I helped her inside, and she gave me the cookies as usual. She thanked me for helping her out and reminded me to drop by later as she would like some company to go grocery shopping at that time. I promised I would, and headed down the street and out of sight.

A hand clamped down on my shoulder making me scream and whip around, hand flying to a pepper packet I had with me. Tadashi put a finger to his lips, and I punched him in the arm. 

"You gave me a heart attack!" I hissed, glaring at him.

"Sorry," he said, rubbing the spot I'd punched. "Who is that woman and why are you spending time with a stranger?"

"She's not a stranger. She helped me out during a very dark time in my life. I've been helping her out on Saturdays, in exchange for these cookies. I've gotta go to the grocery store now and tell them to expect us later," I growled. "Besides, it's not like you guys pay attention to me at home."

"Hey, I've got a very busy life, I'll have you know," he snarled. I narrowed my eyes threateningly, and he lowered his gaze.

"What about when we're home and you guys are still ignoring me? Hm?" I retorted. "This is the only thing keeping me from going insane. Now leave me be!" I turned and stormed off toward the grocery store. George Jiamani was waiting inside with a cheerful, welcoming smile. 

"Hello, Sakura darling, are you and Mrs. Wiggins going to be coming here later on today, gorgeous?" he asked me in a very friendly tone. I knew he wasn't straight, heck, everyone who met him knew within the first ten minutes.

"Yes, George, we'll be coming by later. I'm just grabbing a couple things for now, then I'll be heading out to pick her up. Just a warning, she's had a hankering for papayas lately, so make sure there's at least one good one left, if you don't mind," I requested, grabbing a basket from a tall stack.

"Of course, darling, anything to help Mrs. Wiggins," he said with a genuine smile. His words warmed my heart and a smile played across my face, stretching from ear to ear.

I meandered through the aisles, picking up some small treats that I could give to Hiro, Aunt Cass, and Tadashi to throw them off my scent. As an afterthought I threw a large Toblerone in the basket too. As I paid and left the store, I noticed Tadashi talking to George, who was getting quite flirtatious and it was plain to see why. Even though he was my brother, there was no denying that Tadashi was handsome, and very attractive, even if he could be a bit absent-minded at times. My brother spotted me and bid a quick adieu.

"Oh, and George?" I called as I passed by him. He looked over at me expectantly. "Don't forget my weekly order!" He nodded and gave me a thumbs-up. I tucked the treats into my satchel and counted the money I had there. $40, okay good, I thought. I pranced up the walkway and knocked on the door again.

Gladys welcomed me in a second time, and we got ready to go to the grocery. She locked the door and we left. We casually bantered, mostly about the weather and how unseasonably cool it was. Gladys got lost in her memories as we strolled down the street to Jiamani and Son's Grocery.

"Have a great day, lovelies!" George called after us as we left. We both waved as best we could.

I had a large bag in one arm and the other was a cane for Gladys to use as she wished. I also had her bag in the same hand, but with handles this time. There was a considerable difference in the size of each bag. Mine contained two heads of lettuce, a dozen eggs, some bread, pasta and other grain products, as well as some cereal. Gladys' had a big box of raisins, a small 5 lb sack of oatmeal, half a pound of sugar, and some flour as well.

Once I got Gladys home and her groceries taken care of, I bid her a graceful farewell and headed East. Along my route was a food bank, where I dropped the groceries off before marching down the street to the pound. I waltzed in and dropped my things in a locker, signed my volunteering sheet with the date, time and other relevant information, then clapped on a pair of roller blades I had in the locker. I also strapped on a fannypack that had dog treats and poo bags, and clipped a helmet on my head. I grabbed the leashes from their hooks and rolled into the kennel room.

The cacophony was deafening. "Okay, that's enough!" I yelled above the noise. Instantly, all the dogs quieted down and settled for whimpering from excitement. "Stay." I opened their doors and clipped the leashes on one by one. Soon I had a team of about twenty dogs, purebreds and mixed-breeds alike. "Let's go, boys." There was a snort. "And girls." A growl. "Ladies, then. Is that better?" A hushed bark of excitement answered. We took off down the street, the dogs running full-sprint.

Every time one of them did their duty, I called a halt, which they all did, picked it up and put it in the machine. After getting and pocketting my money, we continued. We reached a dog park and I let them all off their leashes. An hour of playing, with me throwing a tennis ball for them, I clipped their leashes back on, and we headed back to the pound, loping gently along the sidewalk this time as the dogs were exhausted from all the running and playing. I was tired too, but, like the dogs, I was happy. I dropped them off back at the shelter, where they eagerly gulped their water down so fast I refilled each dish twice before they were satisfied. I drank from a bottle of water that was set out for me, then I hung up their leashes, locked all their cages, and left after retrieving my belongings.

As I headed home, Aunt Cass pulled up beside me, and I tried not to panic. "Get in the truck, Sakura. We need to talk," she said in a solemn tone I was unaccustomed to. I climbed in and we rode home in silence.

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Chapter 6

When we got home and parked, Aunt Cass still didn't speak. It was horrendously unnerving, made even worse by the fact that Tadashi and Hiro were sitting at the table waiting for us. Nothing was on the table, so I knew it was either an intervention or a confrontation. I noticed Hiro sitting on his hands. 

"We need to talk," Aunt Cass repeated. She gestured for me to sit down, which I did hesitantly. Tadashi had his phone out and plugged in to charge. 

Tadashi grabbed the cord from the wall plug-in and hooked it up to the computer in his and Hiro's room, syncing his phone with the device. A series of videos were edited together, so when he clicked them, they popped up in a video screen, with Tadashi filming my daily routine, starting from 6 AM. He'd apparently been filming me since about two minutes after I got up, which reminded me of how tired I was. Then George came on the screen.

"Hey there, handsome. What's a fine thing like you doing here?" he drawled. I couldn't help but grin. I snuck a glance at Tadashi, who was blushing to the tips of his toes, a treat in and of itself.

"I was just wondering what you know about my sister, Sakura Hamada, and her trip here today?" Tadashi said off-camera.

"Whell," he said in a flirtatious voice that I'd never heard before. "Sakura, your sister, has been helping out Mrs. Wiggins since she and her husband ran into her with their car. Not hard, mind you, but just hard enough to shake her up a bit." I felt Aunt Cass' hand touch my shoulder gently, and tears sprang to my eyes. It was the first time in a long time that my family had shown me any affection. "She's been bringing Mrs. Wiggins here every Saturday since her husband, Lennie, died three years ago. Poor Mrs. Wiggins has Alzheimers, so Sakura's all she remembers. She's starting to forget things, is Mrs. Wiggins. Doctors say she doesn't have a whole lot of time left. Now enough about me, what about you, sweetheart."

"Okay, I think we're done here. Thanks for your help. One last question: do you know where Sakura goes after she leaves here?" Tadashi said quickly, taking a step back.

"She only leaves here with a big bag of groceries, but she stops by to say hi before heading East along this road," George said, tone slightly wounded.

"What's East of here?" Tadashi asked.

"Well at the end of the street is a big, green dog park, y'know the one with the agility course?" The camera shook slightly as if the cameraman was nodding vigorously. "Between here and there is a bunch of stores, a couple apartments, the Sunny Days Food Bank, and the pound."

"Okay, thank you, Mr. Jiamani," Tadashi said, obviously trying to leave.

"Call me George, babe, everyone does!" I snickered when Tadashi cleared his throat in the room. Hiro giggled a bit, hands shoved deep in his pockets. My brother bid George adieu and left, following on-screen me from a distance, occasionally raising it to just above head-height to keep following me. It swayed a fair bit before spotting me going into the Food Bank. Then the video cut to Berty, the main donations accepter at the food bank.

"Oh yes, I know Sakura. You just missed her," she said, pointing East again. "She drops off a big delivery every Saturday. Not sure where she gets the money to buy the food, but it sure has helped a lot of families in need, even a few of the millions of homeless!"

A few more questions followed, then the camera cut to another street-shot of me practically skipping to the pound. Tadashi followed me inside with the camera still rolling. I came zipping by him on my roller blades and grabbed the leashes from the hooks. A brief increase in the barking followed by my shout of "That's enough!" instantly stopped the noise. Tadashi approached the front desk.

"Hello, sir, welcome to Second Chance Animal Rescue, are you looking to adopt, volunteer, or interview?" said Martha. I smiled fondly.

"I've just got a few questions about one of your volunteers, uh, Sakura Hamada?" my brother said.

"What's this about?" she asked suspiciously. "How do you know Sakura?"

"She's my sister. I just have a couple questions," he reiterated.

"Oh, okay. What are your questions?" she asked.

"How long has my sister been volunteering here?" he asked.

"About four years. She comes in, signs her sheet, puts on her rollerblades, which she got recently," Martha said. "The real mystery we have is where she puts all the poop those dogs are sure to create!" They shared a laugh with the other staff that were within earshot.

"Okay, so next question," he said, calming down. There was still the hint of a smile in his voice. "Is she paid for her time here, or is it strictly volunteer?"

"It's strictly volunteer. Here, look at her sheet. It's full already, so she's going to need a new one," Martha said, showing Tadashi my volunteer sheet which had a consistent "3 hrs" written down in one column, and a steady 20 in another titled "Number of Dogs." The camera panned slowly down the sheet, picking up my signature and Martha's under "Volunteer's Signature" and "Supervisor's Signature." "Since she began volunteering here fourteen dogs have been adopted in the past three months. That's ten more than any other volunteer. Your sister has helped a lot of the dogs here. They respect her, and she's helped bring out the kind, gentle dog in even the most damaged."

He thanked her and left, following me as best he could on foot. He spotted me stooping over to pick up a pile of dog poop then put it in the machine, pause a moment, then grab the money that came out. As on-screen me stuck the money in my bags, Hiro's expression turned from slightly amused respect to utter disgust. He pulled out his hands which were covered in the dye, which had turned his hands blue, and stared at them in revoltion. I laughed a belly laugh I hadn't in a while, which Tadashi, after a moment of confusion of looking at Hiro's hands and his face, joined me in.

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Subjects are overrated LOL

Hey, not bad! Can't wait to see Chapter 7. :)

__________________

Guess who's ba-ack! ~♫

 

 

The link to my fanfic, 'Tale of Mahelsonei: How to Betray a Madman' is here.

The link to the Harvest Haunt special, 'Tale of Mahelsonei: How to Scare a Dragon' is here.

Lots of lovely artwork on my DeviantART here, including rough drawings that I didn't post on my companion art page and various odds, ends, and dumb doodles. :D

And if you have nothing else to do, here is the link to my Dragon Cave.

Thank you.   

      

 

Portrait of Mahelsonei by... well, me. :)                                          Wrathfang bouncie by hattori

 

I am a Pokemon nerd! If you ever want to trade or battle, PM me!

 

Fanfiction-wise, here's a list of well-written, clean HTTYD fanfictions I've found.

 

How to Train Your Dragon: Ireth and Vespera Fable by Yamilink

Excellent, Wonderful story! Beautifully drawn comic book featuring an apothecary/alchemist trying to fit in with other Vikings on Berk as she overcomes her fear of dragons and befriends a particularly special dragon. Set 10 years after the Battle of the Red Death. Highly recommend the read!

* * * * * stars

 

 

No Longer Alone by peterparkersgirlfriend
The entire first movie from Toothless' point of view. Beautifully written, I personally think it captures Toothless' personality and heart like a photograph made out of words. Excellent read!

* * * * * stars

The Helmet by peterparkersgirlfriend
All of Gift of the Night Fury from Toothless' point of view. Held to much the same standard as its predecessor, this story is full of plot twists, danger, and exactly what was going through Toothless' head. Includes how Toothless found Hiccup's helmet!

* * * * (1/2) stars
 

 

A Father's Love

A bunch of one-shots about Hiccup, Astrid, and their new daughter. Embodies the very struggles that made the movies great. But instead of Stoick being the worried father, Hiccup takes the reins as he and Astrid try to raise their children to be not just warm, honest, and good people but good dragon riders as well!

* * * * stars

 

Nightfall

Basically, Hiccup is a viking Tarzan, raised by dragons. After a dragon raid, a peculiar machine shoots down a strange and dangerous dragon. And an even more strange and dangerous boy. Nothing short of spectacular, this book tugs at your heart strings and will pull you in like none other. Fabulous! It made me laugh, cry, and worry myself sick.

* * * (1/2) stars

(My tag line does NOT come from this author, it comes from my drama teacher.)

 

How to Train Your Dragon: A Guide
A humorously written handbook on the care and control of dragons

 

 

Alpha's Heir by Frostfire Markson

Big Challenges by dragonlover43

Dragons Ahead! by Buffert

Horizon by victoriae350

Toothless' Kingdom by dragonmic14

Shouldn't be hard to find. They're here on the forum!

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Chapter 7

When the video ended, there was total silence from my family, even Mochi, who normally meowed loudly to fill the silence, was uncharacteristically quiet. Hiro broke the quiet.

"Aunt Cass? I think I'm gonna be sick," he said. He looked at his hands and suppressed a gag.

"Why?" she asked.

"Because he's been stealing my poop money," I said matter-of-factly. "I've been noticing some money go missing these past few weeks and ran into a friend of mine on the police force, who gave me a packet of powder and instructions on how to use it: sprinkle it over the money and spray it with vinegar. It comes out with warm water and baking soda." I tugged my sleeves up fairly high to let out some heat and Aunt Cass' hand brushed it. She looked down in alarm at my wrists and gasped, putting her hands to her mouth in horror.

"What? What is it?" Tadashi asked, surprised and alarmed. "Aunt-oh..." His voice trailed off when she grabbed my wrist and held it out to him, the tender skin of my forearm exposed to the light. Hiro's eyes tightened with worry, just like our mother's once did.

"Sakura?" I looked at our aunt. "How long have you been cutting your wrists?"

"I stopped four years ago. I started when I was ten. You guys ignored me so I began to wonder if I was even alive," I mumbled, covering them up again.

Tadashi grabbed my hand and pushed my sleeve up higher, revealing more scars, including a long jagged one that ran the length of my forearm. I bowed my head, tears close behind my eyes. I pulled my hand back and covered my old wounds again. Aunt Cass threw her arms around me, crying. At first I was touched, but then it quickly became both disturbing and annoying.

I let her hold me crying for a few minutes, then gently pulled her arms from around me, turned and headed out the door. I wasn't sure how to deal with my family's sudden affection, but I knew it signalled a major change in my life. I headed to a park not far from our house where I often went to clear my head. I looked up when I heard the crunch of gravel as someone, or a group of people, came up behind me.

"Alright, I'll see you guys tomorrow!" Tadashi called before splitting off from two shadowy figures, who I could only assume were his friends, and sat down next to me on the bench. We sat in what I considered to be companionable silence for a while until he cleared his throat. He worked his jaw for a bit, trying to find the words. Finding none, he silently pulled my head into his chest and held me like that for a while. I sighed and returned his hug. Eventually he found the words. "I'm sorry."

"For what? Ignoring me? Saying I'm not participating in class? Not paying any attention to me that would nurture me instead of breaking my spirit down, thus sending me in a downhill spiral towards what would have meant certain death?" He stiffened and hugged my head closer at my words. "Don't worry about it. I have more volunteer experience than anyone else. I love helping Gladys, and sometimes even buy an extra cooked chicken to give to some homeless people on the way over to the food bank."

"For everything," he said. He finally released my head but held my shoulders so I had no choice but to look him in the eyes. "Never think you're not important to us." He paused. "Never." At his words, the tears I'd held back came to my eyes and didn't stop at my lashes. We hugged for a while, with him comforting me while I wept. When I thankfully dried up after what felt like an eternity, I noticed my stomach suddenly announce its displeasure at being without food for so long. We laughed and headed home.

"So what are you doing tomorrow, sis?" he asked me as we walked.

"Oh, the weekends are super busy for me: I've got church in the morning with Gladys, then she and I tend her garden, sometimes her daughter comes over, most often not," I said. "After church, she and I go for a walk on a nearby nature reserve, which is actually only a forty-five minute walk from her house, then I drop her off at her house and she sends me around the city with a camera to take pictures until the battery runs out. She can't get around like she used to, so she sends me on her photographic adventures. It's almost like she's living through me. She really likes the pictures of nature, but adores the scenes of people. There was once a group of Scouts who used to come and hear her explain the importance of keeping our environment healthy, but when Lennie died she stopped hosting them, which is a shame because it's one thing to learn the technical aspect, 'tis another thing entirely to put it into practice. Why do you ask?"

"Well, I was thinking, if it's alright with you and her, that I could join you, and maybe Aunt Cass and Hiro too?" he suggested.

"I'd need to talk to Gladys about that. Sundays are pretty rough for her. I have to reaquaint her with everyone at church because she used to go to a church on this side of the river, but now she goes to one about two minutes away from her house by car. Saturday nights she forgets things," I explained. "It's like that movie where the girl was in the accident and she forgets everything that happened the day before overnight."

"That's harsh," he said after a while.

"Actually it's quite enjoyable. The pastor has been taking up an offering lately to buy a plot of land that we can all grow a garden on, but that everyone in the community can use. Gladys and I are the biggest contributors to the fund, and we've got about half the funds we need. We only need $4,000 more and we'll be able to afford the land," I said. "I could show you the place on Google maps." We went upstairs after taking our shoes off, and I brought up the website for the land plots. I could hear Aunt Cass scolding Hiro downstairs in the kitchen, but I let them be. "There it is. Two acres of land. Once we purchase the land, we still need to build a shed, which is what I'm saving the money for."

"I want to help," he said, straightening up and going into his part of the room. He came back with a wad of money about the size of mine. "This is half the money in my container. There's about $500 in here, and I'll see if I can convince Fred to get a friend to build the shed for a discount."

"Really?" I asked. He nodded, and I tackled him with a hug. "Oh, Tadashi, thank you!"

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Chapter 8

Aunt Cass came upstairs at the sound of Tadashi staggering back a bit, Hiro close behind and looking more than a little bothered.

"Everything okay?" asked she.

I released my brother and he picked up a few bills that had fallen when I tackled him. "Everything's fine, Aunt Cass," he said. "Sakura's church has been taking up a collection to buy some land for the Scouts, and I just offered to help."

"How much does your church need, Sakura?" Hiro asked. I raised an eyebrow at him, and he ducked his head sheepishly. "Just wondering."

"We need four thousand Yellars, plus whatever it costs for the shed itself, which we might build big enough to be a shelter for the homeless," I answered. "Why?"

"W-would it be alright if I donated some money?" he asked.

"Is this some of the money you stole from me, or is this your own money?" I asked. He looked at his feet. "I thought so." I felt bad after saying that, so I put a hand on his shoulder, lifted his chin and smiled when he met my eyes. "I'll tell you what: You can go around the city tomorrow and collect the empty bottles and cans that you find and take them to a recycling plant. The money you get from that will be your money to invest in whatever you want to. It won't be stealing mine."

He wrapped his arms around my neck.

"Thanks, sis!" he said. I grinned and hugged him back, picking him up easily. His legs kicked as he tried to reach the ground.

"I feel tall!" I announced. Tadashi and Aunt Cass laughed.

"I'll put a tip jar out, and a bag for the recyclables as well. The money they collect will go toward the Scout's fund," Aunt Cass said.

After supper, which was rice, meat, and peas, we all went to bed. 

The next day Hiro was still sleeping when it was time for me to go to church, so I woke him up by putting ice cubes down his back, causing him to jump up with a yelp. 

"Rise and shine!" I said cheerfully. He groaned and flopped back on the bed. Tadashi came out of his room and helped me get our brother downstairs and into a cold shower. I turned it on ice cold and he screamed. I darted out of the bathroom so Tadashi could deal with him. I snickered and went into the kitchen where Aunt Cass was making pancakes for breakfast. I grabbed one for the road and let her know I was going to church. 

"Okay, Sakura, just be careful!" she called.

I assured her I would be and she bid me goodbye, then I left. I'd opted to wear a skirt and formal shirt to the church this morning, so I was well prepared. I entered Gladys' home and she marvelled at "oh how you've grown!" I smiled. This was our weekly routine: I come to take her to worship and she learned everything all over again. "Would it be alright if my family came with us today?" I asked her.

"Of course, dear. When will they be coming over?" Gladys asked. I pulled out my phone and shot a quick text to Tadashi letting him know they were welcome to join us. 

Once I got his response, I related the information to her. "They'll be coming over right now. I'll just text my brother and let him know the address."

"Okay," she said. She furrowed her brow and looked around in her jewelry box, rummaging around with an earring sticking out of her ear. 

"What are you looking for, Gladys?" I asked. 

"Have you seen my other earring? The one Lennie gave me before he-" she choked then swallowed. I put a hand on her shoulder and she stepped back to let me look.

"Hm," I said. "Ah here it is."

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Chapter 9

I introduced Tadashi to Gladys, who remembered him from when he was in tenth grade. She gawked when she found out he was in college. I gave him a look to tell him to tread lightly, so he was extra cautious about what he said. It was going swimmingly until he slipped about the year he graduated high school.

"Gladys," I heard Tadashi say as I was in the washroom. I'd waited as long as humanly possible before excusing myself. I sent a silent prayer to heaven. It was either ignored or sent too late. "How old is this house? What year was it built in?"

"Well, this house is about forty years old, and it was built in 1964 by immigrants John and Wendy Legland," I heard her say.

"That would make this house 53 years old, Gladys, it's 2017," he said.

Gladys was silent for a moment. I cringed, thankfully finishing quickly. I wiped and flushed, then washed my hands quickly before leaving the bathroom in such a hurry I forgot to turn the light off. I screeched to a halt, bolted back to flick the switch, then pelted back to the kitchen. "What?" she asked. I facepalmed.

"Tadashi, you moron! I told you not to talk about the year!" I snapped at him. It was then that it hit him. He clapped a hand over his mouth in horror, but the damage had already been done. I snuck a peek at Gladys, and she looked like she'd just had the rug pulled out from under her. "He's just joking, Gladys, it's really only 2015-er 2014. He's just a bit ahead of us all, right, brother?"

"R-right," he stammered.

The clock in the living room chimed, and I found an opportunity to escape the awkward moment. "Oh, look at the time, we'd best be getting off to church, Gladys, we don't want to be late," I said. She shook her head and blinked, shaking off the strangeness. She smiled, and made her way over to the door. I took the chance to swat and punch Tadashi for being the world's biggest numbskull.

"Sorry," he whispered. I glared at him. I helped Gladys to the car and Tadashi got in the back, while Gladys sat up front with me. He wasn't exactly thrilled, but he didn't complain, knowing I was driving. I glanced back a few times when changing lanes and he seemed to be mouthing his protests to himself.

When we pulled in, Gladys let him help her out of the car, which I found a bit surprising. I shrugged it off while I parked. I checked to make sure I had parked perfectly. I was a bit close on my side, but I knew I'd be able to get in comfortably. I headed in after locking the car and cracking the windows slightly to release the heat. I pocketted the keys and entered the church. I greeted the greeter, and he gave me a friendly hug. I found my brother and friend and we headed into the inner sanctum.

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This is really good! The part

This is really good! The part about Gladys was fantastic, well-played. :) Got me right in the feels.

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Chapter 10

I looked over at Tadashi during the sermon several times and had to nudge him twice to keep him awake. He glared at me and I returned the dark look. The pastor prayed over the offering, and took it up. I noticed something in the preacher's eyes, even from three rows back. I felt Tadashi stiffen slightly next to me then lean forward, squinting as if to see better. He sat back and looked at me. I gave him an eyebrow raised look.

"Don't mention anything during worship. We can confront him later," I whispered. Gladys pulled on my arm slightly, and I leaned over to her.

"Is it just me or does the pastor seem greedy today?" she asked me in a hushed tone.

"I know. Tadashi and I noticed it too. We'll confront him later, just not during worship," I replied in the same voice I'd spoken to Tadashi with.

Worship ended and we all filtered out. I noticed, in passing, the preacher, who had finally gotten free of the crowd, grabbing the offering money from the office and shoving it in his pockets. I narrowed my eyes in determination. As we drove away, I circled around and decided to follow the pastor to his home. When we turned down a street onto a road filled with mansions, my eyes widened and I exchanged looks with Tadashi and Gladys. I slowed down significantly in front of the home that he'd pulled into and we all watched him count the money from the offering, including the wad Tadashi had thrown in, and grin wickedly. My heart sank.

"That sonofa-er...That greedy jerk!" I growled when Gladys fixed me with a disapproving glare. "Tadashi, are you getting this?"

"Mhm," he said. His phone was in his hand, and I put down the window on the opposite side. He went over to the window and put his phone's camera up to it.

"Hold on," I said as the minister looked over at us. I punched the gas and we sped off. Tadashi hit the back of the seat and sort of slid down the backseat, then heaved himself upright as I turned left in the cul-de-sac at the end of the street. I put the windows up and hoped the preacher wouldn't notice the same vehicle driving up and down his street. Someone flagged us down in the street across from his house, and we pulled into the driveway they indicated. I felt nervous, but parked anyways.

"What's up? Why are you stalking Old Man Wilson?" a woman asked me. "He's an eccentric billionaire who only really works one day a week."

"Oh yeah, well this morning he took up an offering for a Scouts charity, and the entire church is planning on purchasing a piece of land for the Scouts to learn about gardens and stuff. He pocketted the money for himself," I said, trying to sound civil. She blinked and looked at me as if I had three heads.

"How do I know you're not lying?" she asked. Tadashi held up his phone and showed her a video of the money that was put into the offering, then shoved into the minister's pocket. "Well, who are you then?"

"I am Sakura Hamada, this is my brother, Tadashi, and my friend, Gladys Wiggins," I said, indicating each person in turn.

"Wiggins? Gladys Wiggins?" she said. Gladys nodded. "I haven't seen you since I was little!" 

"What's your name, dear?" Gladys said.

"My name's Allyson. Allyson Morri," said Allyson. Gladys' eyes lit up in recognition.

"Ally?" she breathed. I smiled as they reunited.

"Think you could get her home safely? Or at least keep her safe here for a bit until I drop my brother off?" I asked Allyson. She nodded eagerly, helping Gladys out of the car when she opened her door. I watched them until they went into the house, then I shifted into reverse and backed out of the yard.

I took a side route that my computer instructed me on. When I reached the main road, I paused for a moment, letting Tadashi climb into the front seat. Seeing a full grown man climbing over seats is a sight to behold. He buckled himself in and we headed out, going back to the house. I dropped Tadashi off then decided to check in on Hiro. I called his cell and found him not far away. He was dragging four large bags of recyclables, which we put in the back, and I drove him to the recycling plant. He got his money and counted it the whole way back to the cafe. Once there I recieved a call from Gladys asking me to come pick her up. I went over and picked her up from Allyson's house. Then dropped her off at her house. I parked, turned the car off, helped her into the house, and handed her the keys before heading home. By the time I reached home my feet were throbbing, and blisters covered my heels.

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Chapter 11

"Ow," I said as Aunt Cass set my feet in salty water. It was an old wives' trick to cure blisters, and worked wonders, if you could bear the pain. The water was close to boiling, which normally wasn't an issue, but the saltiness coupled with the blisters made it almost scream-worthy.

Tadashi was growling to himself at the table. He'd come down about five minutes after I got home. It wasn't hard to tell when he was angry. He wore his emotions on his face. He muttered a curse before heading out, grabbing his helmet on the way out.

"Don't get into trouble!" I called after him. I bit back a yelp when a grain of epsom salt touched a blister that had broken open. I dropped my voice to a curt whisper. "Computer, respond. Headset."

"Here, madam," it said. "What do you need me to do, milady?"

"Track Tadashi's phone," I said. I gave it his number and a mini map of the city popped up in my glasses lens. "Alert me immediately if it goes to the following location..." I informed it of the address that Allyson had given me upon request. "Confirm command."

"Command confirmed, ma'am. I will keep you 'in the loop,' if you will," it said. "Wouls you like tomorrow's weather report?"

"Sure," I said.

My computer gave me the weather, then, at my request, focussed on Tadashi's number. I was pleased when he went to go to school, which was on the opposite side of town. Aunt Cass came downstairs to check on me. I smiled at her. She sat down beside me and held me close. I hugged her in return.

"Any plans for this afternoon?" she asked me after a while.

"Nope," I replied. "I might go tune up my generator and computer. Both have been a wee bit slow lately."

"Computer?" Aunt Cass asked. I nodded into her hair. "Where's it at?"

"Garage," I said. "I hope it's okay that I built a false wall to disguise the computer and a small hidden room where my generator is stored. It's kind of noisy when it needs to boot up."

She released me and I took my feet out of the water. They were still blistered, but it wasn't as painful. I dried my feet and slipped some flats on. On the way to the door I grabbed my tool belt and clipped it on. She followed me to the garage, and over to the blank wall at the back. I pulled out a hidden handle and pulled with all my might. My computer revealed itself, and her jaw dropped.

"Whohoa," Hiro said. He'd come downstairs and followed us.

"Three old refrigerators, enough wiring to surround the city of San Fransokyo twice, and four motherboards with connections being made everyday," I said proudly. Tadashi's phone made a sharp left onto our street. He pulled up next to Aunt Cass' truck. He came around the corner and stopped dead when he saw my computer. The buttons blinked merrily on their way, as though pressed by an unseen force. 

His helmet fell from his hand and hit the floor as he gaped in shock at my creation. I looked back at him and grinned. "You and Hiro are good with robots, I go more for the computers," I said to him. "This is SCOTT. Super Computer Operations and Technological Theoretics. Well? What do you all think? Oh great!" The power failed on my computer. The acronym S.C.O.T.T. did flips around the screen. I grabbed a helmet light and put it on my head, clicked it on and swung my wrench over my shoulder, as though it were a baseball bat. I opened the compartment beside SCOTT and entered. My generator was barely puttering along. I lifted the housing off it and put my ear protectors on. I set the housing to the side and swung my wrench at the generator. A noisy clang followed by a near-deafening BOOM! resounded after it connected. I lifted the housing off the ground and put it back on the compartment. My computer beeped and restarted. "And that's why I'm not scared of thunderstorms," I said as I rounded the corner again. I closed the door and took off my hearing protection. Hiro was digging for gold inside his ears. Tadashi had one ear covered and a mildly uncomfortable look on his face. "Ta-Da!"

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Chapter 12

After everyone recovered their hearing, Hiro began poking around my computer. It shocked him when he touched the compartment doors attached to it.

"Aiee!" he yelped. He stuck his finger in his mouth, sucking furiously.

I laughed. "SCOTT is good at protecting himself. I programmed him so that he'll only let me have access to his hard drive. I implanted a microchip in my glasses so he knows if I'm the one opening his compartment doors. Here, if you're curious, I'll let you see, just don't touch," I said. I pulled a handle and the door opened on well-oiled hinges. Hiro and Tadashi swarmed to the motherboards and stared at them in awe. I smiled proudly, but softly. Aunt Cass came over the looked over Hiro's head and shoulders.

"My goodness! Those lights are beautiful!" she exclaimed. I laughed and beckoned her over. 

"You think that's impressive, you should see what else he can do for his piece de resistance," I said. I turned to my computer. "Alright, Computer, run it."

"Yes, Ma'am. One moment, please," SCOTT said. He beeped a bit before a white mist surrounded us like a blanket. He blinked and a fireworks display that rivalled Disney's lit up our garage. A sound track played music softly, emphasizing drumbeats with firework noises. Aunt Cass' eyes were huge.

"Oh! Ah!" she said softly, awestruck by the sight. I looked at my brothers, and they wore similar expressions. Then the program glitched and accidentally showed the My Nightmares file. I closed my eyes tightly.

"Computer, shut the program down," I ordered. I cracked and eye and the mist disappeared, taking the terrifying images with it. I sighed with relief. An image popped up on the screen and I instinctively glanced away. I gathered my courage and looked. "Oh, thank the Lord!"  Instead of the anticipated "My Nightmares" file, it was just a message from an online friend.

"Sakura, who's that?" Aunt Cass asked. I went up to SCOTT and sat in the chair. I typed a quick message and hit send,

"Just a friend," I said. "She and I have the same passion for programming. She's also pretty good at robotics. Her name's Katania, but insists I call her Kat, so I do."

"Katania? As in Kat Kethulu? As in Kethulu Industries?" Hiro asked. I looked over my shoulder with a strange look.

"Yes, how do you know?" I asked.

"Kethulu Industries is one of the major production companies in the world. They host some of the biggest names in Hollywood, Sakura! Getting in good with one of the family members is a great asset to anyone's career," he said. Seconds later it hit me. I groaned and put my face in my hands. "What?"

"She and I have been friends for about six months, and it didn't clue in who she was," I said. They looked at me cluelessly. "Kat Kethulu, the daughter of Marcus and Adrienne Kethulu? Founders of Kethulu Industries." Hiro's eyes lit up in realization almost instantly. Tadashi's soon followed, and Aunt Cass needed a couple minutes before she clued in too.

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Chapter 13

I brought up another message and asked Kat to meet with me, in person, that Friday.

"I don't know if I can. Here's my number, text me," she sent me.

I looked at the number on the screen. "Computer, Auto-save number," I said. "Add to contacts."

"Of course, ma'am. Will this be to a new or existing contact?" he asked me through the speakers. They weren't loud, but they were at a comfortable hearing level.

"New," I said. A box popped up and I looked at the form. "Contact's Full Name: Katania Kethulu. Call-name: Kat." I listed off the information I knew, and then told my computer to save it. The blinking green line raced across the screen, filling out the form then the hourglass icon appeared and spun for a bit before the sound of a filing cabinet being closed was heard. I brought out my phone and checked my contacts. A few moments later, my computer updated my phone, and I hit Kat's contact. The option to text or call came up and I hit text. 

Tadashi looked over my shoulder, but I ignored him. 

"Hey, Kat. It's me, Sakura," I sent her. Within moments it showed delivered and read. Then she began typing.

"Hey, Sakura, what's up?" she asked me.

"Just hanging with fam, showing them my comp and stuff," I said.

"Loaf, cool," she replied. I burst out laughing then she sent "Lol" with an embarrassed emoticon.

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Chapter 14

The next day, I went to the principal's office during last period. Aunt Cass and Tadashi came in not long after I sat down.

"So, this is going to seem a bit strange and might come off as rude, but Tadashi, why have you come today?" I asked.

"Well Mrs. Seoul asked for me," he said.

"Oh," I said softy.

Mrs. Seoul cleared her throat, drawing attention back to her. She had her computer monitor turned slightly. There were several places circled in red along the video feed on the bottom. She dragged her mouse over to the first one and clicked it. Gym. It was too rainy to go outside and the tenth graders were going through their annual "safety" presentation, so we were reading from our textbooks and answering questions. Hiro had no textbook, and repeated my answers, as usual. The next class showed much the same.

English class is where things took an interesting turn, though.

"Can anyone tell me the correct pronunciation for this word?" Ms. Egerhert asked, pointing at the board where the word "Socioempathic" was written.

Hiro's hand shot up, and the teacher called on him. "Ms. Egerhert, it's pronounced 'So-see-o em-pethic,'" he said. The teacher's expression was one of shock.

"I-I'm sorry, Hiro, but that's w-wrong," she stammered. 

"W-what?" he asked. I hesitantly raised my hand.

"As I said, you didn't pronounce it correct. Ms. Hamada?" she said, taking my hand.

"Um, 'So-she-o-em-pathic,'" I said. "It's derived from the two words, 'Social' and 'Empathy.'" I'd felt almost as if I were watching from a distance as this was going on when the substitute said "correct." Then the next class came and everything went back to normal. When the videos ended, Mrs. Seoul turned to me.

"I sincerely apologize, Sakura. You have been participating. I'll adjust your marks accordingly," she said. I walked out of school that day in shock. I barely noticed when I was bumped into. 

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Wow. Just. Wow.

Wow. you are great at writing!

You are very good at describing things, and you make the reader feel like they are right next to the main person!

Keep it up! This is really good!

__________________

/BoomBox74/37 Dragons/Member for 4 years/Reformed Baptist Christian

Thank you ScarfyWings!!!

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Keep up the good work!

I was a bit skepical at first, but this is getting better. I can't wait to see how it ends. 

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Chapter 15

When I got home, I retreated to my computer and began doing calculations as to how much money the plot of land would cost me if I worked daily at the pound, cleaning up the dog poop.

Okay, so if I got about twenty bucks an hour, working for about five hours a day, I'd need to work for over three years to pay for the plot of land, then there's the cost of building the shed and such, I thought. I heard footsteps behind me.

"Hey, sis," Tadashi said. I started at his voice, then stuck my head out and around my computer. He dragged the other chair around and sat down heavily sighing with exhaustion.

"Alright, I know that sound. What's eating you?" I asked him. He sighed again, placing two fingers on either side of his temples. He applied pressure and ran his fingertips in small circles.

"I'm angry," he said. "That pastor pocketted about seven hundred Yellars today alone, and he's basically getting away with it!" 

"Keep your volume in mind. We don't need to start any issues with the people in our neighborhood. We'll figure something out," I said after glancing at the open garage doors.

He growled, but lowered his voice. "I'm so angry I can't see or think straight. What do you suggest? Should we do anything about this?" he asked.

"Hm..." I said. I leaned back in my chair and tapped my chin thoughtfully. An idea struck me. "We could file a lawsuit against him."

"Huh?" my brother said.

"A lawsuit. If we file a lawsuit, and present our evidence, we can successfully get the money to pay for that land, and maybe even get some extra to repair and maintain the church," I said, a smile beginning to lighten my face. My eyes lit up at the idea, and I turned to my computer, fingers flying over the keys almost before they touched the keyboard.

SCOTT chimed in, "What are you up to now, ma'am?"

"Computer, I need to do some research on how to file a successful lawsuit," I replied.

"Why?" he asked.

"Because the pastor at Gladys and Sakura's church is a thief," Tadashi said bluntly.

SCOTT took a moment to process Tadashi's voice, having not been accustomed to it. "Would you like me to sync up with your cellular telephone, sir, so I may put together the information required?" he requested.

"Sure," he said. I stood up and left them to sort out the details required, then Tadashi plugged his phone into SCOTT's USB port before joining me upstairs. 

We walked in the door just as Aunt Cass called a cheerful, "Supper!"

We chuckled and joined her, with Hiro coming to the table not long after, still awestruck at the money he earned while collecting the recycleables around the city.

"Where'd you get that money, Hiro?" Tadashi asked through a mouthful of potatoes.

"Mind your manners," Aunt Cass said.

I spoke up after swallowing. "He got that on Sunday, when I picked him up from the streets where he was collecting recycleables like we discussed," I said.

Tadashi nodded then turned back to his food. My computer piped up halfway through supper.

"Telephone has been synced!" he announced triumphantly. I jumped, bashing my knee against the underside of the table. Pain exploded behind my kneecap, sending me to the edge of vomitting.

"GNgggH!" I exclaimed, bending over and holding my injured knee. Once I recovered sufficiently, I looked around at my family. "Ow, that hurt."

Hiro laughed and snorted pop out through his nose, which made him howl in protest. Tadashi nearly choked on his drink, while Aunt Cass put a hand to her mouth, fingertips pressing against her lips while she laughed.

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Chapter 16

"Are you okay, Sakura?" Aunt Cass asked me once she recovered enough to speak. I grimaced as I extended my leg, then nodded. "What was your computer talking about?"

"Tadashi synced his phone up with SCOTT, and it just finished," I explained.

"Just to keep in contact with each other, Aunt Cass," Tadashi lied. He spoke so smoothly, I almost believed him. I could only hope Aunt Cass didn't have "Lie-Detector" ears. 

We got lucky when the cat screamed in protest that he hadn't been fed in twenty minutes. I threw my eyes toward the ceiling, but ignored him...and then Mochi came over and dug his claws into my shin.

"MGH!" I said around a mouthful of water. I kicked him and he skidded into Tadashi's legs.

"Sakura!" he scolded. "Why'd you kick Mochi? He did nothing to you!"

I glared at my brother then lifted my injured leg so my family could see. Hiro went for the hydrogen peroxide, Aunt Cass went for the bandages, and Tadashi pinned Mochi so he couldn't attack me again. I was beginning to feel a bit overwhelmed at the attention I was getting. Never, not since Hiro was born, had I ever had that much attention from my family. The thought brought a tear to my eye. I swallowed hard and blinked the moisture away. 

Tadashi noticed and gave me a sympathetic smile. Mochi struggled in his grasp, but couldn't get free. He hissed, both at me and at my brother.

"Your sure you're okay, sis?" Hiro asked. I nodded. "Mochi attacked, huh? Gotta love those killer cats." He laughed nervously. I chuckled with him. I leaned over to shoot Mochi a venomous glare. The cat returned my angered look with an empassioned hiss.

Then my computer spoke up again, "Ma'am, I've also finished the research you requested. Would you like me to begin preparations?" I exchanged glances with Tadashi, and we both nodded.

"Computer, begin preparations, and be ready to print off the compilation of proof we have gathered," I instructed him. "Also contact Reggie and get him to meet Tadashi and I at the Green tomorrow after supper?" I looked over at my brother and he nodded. "After supper, confirmed?"

"Command confirmed," SCOTT said.

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Chapter 17

I shook my head when Mochi sank his fangs into Tadashi's hand, forcing my brother to release him. He did so with a pained yelp. My big brother jumped up and hit his head on a low shelf. He winced and cradled his head, rocking slightly while moaning in agony. Aunt Cass got him an icepack to hold on his head. He looked up at me when he felt my eyes on him. I gave him a sympathetic look before hissing at Mochi, who meandered my way.

The chubby feline barely glanced at me before swatting me and darting away. I glared after him. I stood up and mentioned that I was heading down to the garage to check a couple more things on my computer before going to bed. 

"Mhmm," Aunt Cass said distractedly. She was helping Tadashi get up to a chair well out of harms way from the cat. 

I sat down in front of my computer a couple minutes later and brought up the chat box. Kat was messaging me like mad, asking if I could meet with her and her father to discuss a summer position for me. I looked at the calendar and realized with a start that it was April, almost too late to find a summer job. I typed back that I'd love to meet with her and her father whenever was convenient for her, provided it wasn't on a Saturday as those were the days I looked after my "grandmother," Gladys.

She got back to me about ten minutes later. She asked if meeting me in twenty minutes at an ice cream parlour downtown would be good. I thought for a moment then responded that it would be fine. I sent her a text and told her I'd be on my way in a second after I told my aunt where I was going.

When I told her, Aunt Cass just nodded vaguely and kept her focus on making sure Tadashi didn't kill the cat. I grabbed my helmet and ran out the door, jumping on my bike and zipping through the streets to the rendezvous point. I entered the ice cream parlour and texted Kat saying that I was at the agreed meeting place. I received a text not long afterwards informing me that she was just pulling up to the shop. I looked outside and surprisingly found an old beater of a car parking in the parking lot. A lanky man with grey hair at his temples and a slender young woman stepped out of the vehicle. I was reminded of a scene from one of my all time favorite books about a setup similar to the one I had agreed to. I stood up and waved to the young woman, then stretched because I thought I'd mistaken her for someone else.

To my surprise, she called out, "Sakura!" She darted over to me, her father following not far behind. She threw her arms around me warmly. I was taken aback a bit at first, but then I warmed up to it. Her father came up behind her and I felt a little intimidated. He was a man of few words, but his presence made up for it by speaking in volumes. I smiled shyly at him and bowed my head in greeting. He smiled slightly and returned the head dip. He extended a hand and I shook it firmly. His hands were calloused in spite of his fairly stiff attire. He was clearly a businessman of strong integrity.

"Greetings, Mr. Kethulu," I said very formally.

"Miss Hamada, please call me Marcus," he said. His voice was dominant and it carried. "Katty tells me you're gifted in programming. She showed me some of your work, including a couple projects you both worked on. I am not easily impressed, but you surprised me. I'm expecting you to start working two days from graduation." My jaw dropped. 

"You mean, I got the job without even interviewing?!" I cried, voice going shrill from surprise. His eyes tightened slightly, but he nodded. "What swayed you, if I may ask?"

"As I mentioned already, Miss Hamada, your exceptional programming skills and ability to troubleshoot programming errors without rewriting the whole confounded thing. I'm assigning you to a client who shows great promise. You will be paid a steady salary and will also get commissions in addition," he said. My head spun at the sudden realization that he was serious.

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Chapter 18

After an hour, I finished my smoothie, the only thing I could think of since the revelation that I had a job without really interviewing (Networking at it's best!) We said our goodnights and went our seperate ways. I parked my bike beside Tadashi's and folded it into a small, compact disc that was about the size of a twelve inch pizza. I picked it up and brought it inside. I hung my helmet up and shook my head, still shocked that I had not only met Kat, but her father as well, and he'd been so impressed that he'd hired me on the spot. I numbly climbed the stairs, not even bothering to acknowledge when Mochi hissed at me again. I went into the living room and sat down on the couch heavily.

"Hey, sis," Hiro said cheerily, flopping down next to me. Tadashi sat beside him and Aunt Cass perched on my other side. 

"How'd it go?" Tadashi asked.

"How did it go?" I repeated quietly, barely a breath above a whisper. My mind was still spinning at the speed with which things progressed.

"Yeah, your meeting with Kat and her father," Aunt Cass said.

I shook my head as though coming out of a daze. I blinked a couple times. "Marcus wants me to start working for Kethulu Industries two days after graduation," I said, just loud enough to be heard above the air conditioner, which sounded like a jet engine when it first started up. My announcement stunned everyone. They began asking me questions, launching a new one at me each time I answered. After a while, they ran out of questions. Hiro had one left though. 

"How do you feel about this opportunity, sis?" he asked.

I blinked again, the question catching me off guard. How did I feel about it? Was that what he was asking me? I slowly turned to him, then craned my head to look at my other family members. "I-I don't know what to think. I don't think I can take it, especially if Gladys is still here. I can't leave her," I said. "She needs me, and wouldn't remember anyone after a week. Don't get me wrong, I'd love to work with Kat's father, but I-I-I... I'm just gonna sleep on it. Excuse me, I'm going to go play the Sims." ((Yes, I just wrote one of Sakura's guilty pleasures.)) I retreated downstairs and booted up my Sims game. My brothers followed me down after about ten minutes. My Sims family consisted of my Aunt Cass, Tadashi, Hiro, and myself. I'd also downloaded the Petz! mod too, so I could include Mochi. I noticed that everyone was hungry, so I set my older brother to cooking hamburgers. About ten seconds later, he caught fire. "No!" I cried desperately. "Tadashi, get into the shower! Into the pool!...We don't have a pool! Argh! Uh, buy-mode! Pool! Buy! Okay, now get in!" Ten steps toward the pool, the Grim Reaper appeared. "No! Buzz off, Reaper, you're not needed today! Okay, now, T-NOOOOOOOOOO!!!" As I was speaking to the Reaper, Tadashi's character fell down, scorched beyond recognition. Hiro's character screamed and yelled in horror, which drew the other characters, including the cat, out to the new pool area. After a second or two of yelling and screaming, Aunt Cass' character changed into her swimming attire and jumped into the new pool. I put my hands over my mouth, horrified. Then the hilarity of the situation hit me. I threw my head back, hands still over my mouth, and howled in laughter.

((Oh grim, black humor.))

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Chapter 19

Tadashi laughed with me when SCOTT replayed the footage of his Sims character's last moments of life, including the audio. His phone rang, and he looked at it. His face lit up and I got curious. He answered it.

"Hello," he said happily. I heard a distinctly female voice, but couldn't make out what she was saying. "I'm good, love, how are you?" He turned and left, heading back upstairs to his and Hiro's shared room. I was a little confused until I remembered that he'd recently started a relationship with someone he'd gone to school with but who lived out of town. They couldn't see each other very often, but when she was over, I usually was out of the house and helping Gladys and the others in the community because she only ever came over on the weekends for a few hours at a time.

I looked over at Hiro and we shared a mischievous snicker.

I turned back to the computer and angrily pouted when the cat began playing with the urn that always appeared after a Sim died. I got my character to throw the cat in the pool as revenge. I tried not to laugh too loudly, but Hiro beat me to the punch.

After we laughed for a few moments, I went into build-mode and created a shrine in honor of my in-game deceased brother, then moved the urn to a slab of marble I purchased and placed. Then I put dim lights with a window facing East so Tadashi's spirit would have a way out when and if it returned. Not two minutes after I built the shrine and went back into live mode, did his ghost appear. I clicked on everyone's icon, including Mochi, and made them go up and say a final goodbye to Tadashi. Suddenly I noticed something odd in the house. A meal was being prepared and no one was there. No one had been invited over, and the house was completely deserted. After the food was created, I clicked it to see who'd made it. Hiro and I exchanged weird looks and leaned in closer to the information to confirm what we were seeing. 

Macaroni and Cheese:

Quality: Excellent

Made By: Tadashi Hamada

Spoils in: 3 weeks.

I was slightly horrified. My brother's ghost had created a delicious meal of mac-n-cheese. The vacuum began working too, being plugged into the wall. I hovered over where the character would be and a name popped up. It was Tadashi, doing the chores he'd always done when he was alive. Hiro's character went inside and freaked out when he saw the vacuum working. He began stomping his feet and yelling at it, gesturing angrily. After a minute of that, he went outside and yelled at the barbecue, which made both of us laugh. I snuck a glance at my brother in real life and he had an uneasy look on his face, even though he was laughing.

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Chapter 20

I saved my game after an hour of playing, then decided to go visit Gladys. I knew it wasn't Saturday, but I just felt like visiting. I jumped on my bike after first showing Hiro how to play the games on my computer since SCOTT didn't have a mouse. I let him know where I was going in case Aunt Cass asked. I was a third of the way there when something told me to push forward and to go faster. I heeded the instinct and arrived at Gladys' house in less than five minutes, though it usually took ten minutes by car. I hitched up the kick-stand and leaned my bicycle against the hedge on the inside of the fence. I knocked on the door after hanging my helmet on the handlebars. No one answered. I knocked again.

"Gladys?" I called after a minute of not getting any response. I knocked again, louder, then used the spare hide-a-key and made my way inside, slightly nervous when I noticed the front room window wide open with the screen nowhere to be seen. "Hello?" I made my way further into the house, shoes miraculously not making a sound over the hardwood except the sound of squeaking floorboards. A skittering was heard and I looked down the hall quickly, seeing a small shadow dart from one room to another across the hall. I shivered: mice. I went into the family room. Empty. I went upstairs and found Gladys slumped over in her rocking chair in her bedroom, not moving or breathing.

I panicked. I got her off the chair and laid her on her back so I could check her pulse. It was going along very weakly. I pulled out my phone and sent my brother a text, then I called 911. I gave them Gladys' address and Tadashi arrived ten minutes later. He ran up the stairs two at a time and burst through the door. I checked her airways and opened them more by tilting her head back and opening her mouth. Her tongue lolled into the back of her mouth, blocking her throat. Before I could freak out anymore, the sound of an ambulance wailing came to a stop outside the door. Tadashi ran down to get them and they came upstairs and into the bedroom. A female paramedic asked me questions and I answered them as best I could. I was on the verge of hysteria, and Tadashi gently took me from her side, holding me close so I wouldn't feel completely alone. He was good at that, calming me down.

Gladys started coming to. "What on earth? Wh-Who are you people and what are you doing in my house?" she said weakly. I felt Tadashi drop his arms so I could go to her side as she was taken from the house.

"Gladys, don't worry. You're going to be alright. They're here to help you," I explained soothingly. "I found you not breathing and I was worried. I called them to help me look after you. They're going to take you to the hospital so you can get looked at by doctors, then you can come home, okay?"

My voice calmed her down and the medics exchanged glances. "Okay," she said after a while. Two tears flowed from her eyes. "Will you call my daughter?"

"Of course, what's her name and number?" I inquired gently.

"Her contact information is on the fridge. Look for Bridgette and Robert," she said, her frail voice wavering slightly. I smoothed her hair back and pet her for a bit until she calmed down even further.

The male paramedic remarked, "You must really love your grandma, miss."

"Oh, she's not my grandmother. I just help her out, but yes, I suppose I do love her," I said with a smile. I knew my eyes expressed my fear and concern for her. "We'll follow you to the hospital. I'll call her daughter then be right out. Which hospital are you taking her to?"

"RHHS Memorial," the female medic replied. "It's the closest and is better prepared to handle this kind of thing." She turned her attention back to Gladys. "Okay, Mrs. Wiggins, we're going to get you down the stairs and out into the back of the ambulance, sound good?"

"Just do what you need to," she replied tiredly. I felt my anxiety rise at her predicament. Gladys was getting on in her years, so I knew she wouldn't be around forever, but I didn't know if I was ready for her to go just yet. I watched the ambulance drive away, sirens wailing again. I called the number when I found it and a familiar male voice picked up. 

"Hello?" he said.

"Hi, this is Sakura Hamada calling in regards to Gladys Wiggins, is Bridgette around?" I asked.

"This is her husband, Robert, how can I help you? My wife is in the bath," he answered.

"Just let her know that her mother has been rushed to the RHHS Memorial hospital with trouble breathing," I replied. There was silence on the other end, then the phone crashed into something and I heard Robert calling for his wife to get out of the tub and dressed that they had to go now. I hung up and turned to Tadashi before we headed out the door and he gave me a ride to the hospital. He sat with me in the waiting room.

Tadashi looked up as footsteps came down the hall. "Professor?"

"Mr. Hamada? What are you doing here?" he inquired.

"I'm here with my sister. We're both waiting for word on Gladys. Why, what are you here for?" my brother answered.

"My wife's mother is ill in the hospital. We received a call about twenty minutes ago informing us that Gladys had been taken to hospital. I-" he stopped short upon realizing what I'd said over the phone. He looked at me then his wife who was teary-eyed and seemed a bit out of her element. He lifted a hand and pointed at me. "She's the one who called us."

"What was she doing at Mom's house? She's a perfect stranger," replied Bridgette.

"I've been helping your mother with various tasks, from helping her get around in her car to taking her on weekly trips to the grocery store. I also help keep house and prepare meals for her after a long day at the farmers market," I replied for myself. Something about the woman just rubbed me the wrong way. I dismissed it as just my emotions telling me that Gladys was special to me and only me. Rob and his wife sat down opposite Tadashi and I. My brother reached out and squeezed my shoulder comfortingly. I looked up at the time: 8:47 PM. This was going to be a long night.

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Chapter 21

Routinely throughout the night, Tadashi would get up and go to the washroom, then the cafeteria to get coffee for us, though he always got hot chocolate for me because caffine didn't agree with me. He'd just sat down and handed me my mug when a nurse came in.

"Gladys Wiggins?" she asked. I looked up. Bridgette woke up with a start and shot to her feet. "Are you immediate family?"

"I'm her daughter," she replied. "I don't know this young woman, but my mother does." Her opinion of me was apparent in her voice, but I bit my tongue to keep from making a rude remark.

Tadashi reached over and grabbed my arm. I looked over at him and he glanced at the time then back at me. I had school that day, and he had university.

"I think they'll let you take the day off," I said softly to him. "You did meet her once, and didn't you say you liked her?"

"Yes, she's an amicable elderly lady, and quite charismatic," he replied, his voice expressing his exhaustion. "But I've got work to do and you need to get your sleep."

"But-," I started to protest until Robert cut in.

"I'll call you if there's any change or if she's asking for you," he promised.

"Thank you," Tadashi and I said. I gave him my cell number and my brother and I left. It was 2:30 AM when we left the hospital. We'd been there for six hours. By the time we got home, Aunt Cass had fallen asleep on the couch, sitting up and waiting for us. Tadashi woke her to let her know we were home.

"Okay," she murmured sleepily. "How is she?"

"Stable," I answered, suddenly feeling so drained I had a hard time standing up. "A nurse came in and told us that she was stable but still in critical condition. They're keeping her there for a week before they'll let her go home."

"Are you okay, Sakura?" she asked me. I nodded, a sudden new wave of tears filling my eyes. She pulled me in and held me for a while, then lead me to the window seat where I slept and tucked me in.

Tadashi whisked upstairs and I could hear him and Hiro talking, their voices alternating between a deep timber and a creaking oak, occasionally going deeper then squeaking. I assumed it was about Gladys and her condition and that I was upset. A minute later, I heard my little brother stumble downstairs. He rubbed his eyes sleepily and made his way over to me. He hugged me and I returned his embrace.

"Don't worry, sis," he mumbled, still half-asleep. "RHHS has a greater success rate than any of the other hospitals. Gladys'll be fine."

"I'm also a bit concerned about her daughter," I said to him quietly. 

"Why? Is she sick too?" he asked.

"No, she's got an attitude. I've met her a couple times, but every time she's been snobbish and mean to me. She even lacks patience with her own mother, who she knows has Alzheimers," I said. He sat down beside me and put a hand on my shoulder.

"Don't worry about her. Worry about helping Gladys get better, and home too," he said to me.

"I just don't know how I can, Hiro. If Gladys doesn't go back to her home, like I promised her that the doctors would let her, I don't know if I can live with knowing I broke my promise to her," I said a little louder. He sighed.

"Life is full of unexpected twists and turns. The only thing you can do is hold on and hope you're ready for the challenges," he said. I smiled.

"Thanks, kid-brother," I said to him. I pulled him in and hugged him tightly before sending him off to bed. I lay down to try to get some sleep.

It couldn't have been ten minutes later that my alarm was ringing. I twisted around but before I could reach for my phone to shut it off, Aunt Cass answered it.

"Hello?" she said. "Cass Hamada, who's this?" There was a pause. "Sure, just a second. She was sleeping." She held the phone out to me. "It's from someone named Robert."

I sat up quickly and took the phone from her. "Hello, this is Sakura," I said hurriedly. "Is Gladys alright?"

"I'm afraid the doctors just informed us that she has a severe lung infection that her body may not be able to overcome. They want us to call friends and family to come say their final goodbyes," he said.

The noise in the room around me stopped. Aunt Cass didn't need to hear him to know what he'd said. She sat down and put an arm around me briefly before shooting up the stairs and waking my brothers to tell them. They tumbled down the stairs to find me curled in a ball on the windowsill.

"I-I'll be there in ten minutes," I told Robert. I hung up and turned to my family. "Gladys is dying, and I need to go." I got up as if on auto-pilot and pulled my pants on, then socks, and finally my shoes. Aunt Cass stopped me for reaching for the door and she pulled me in for a tight hug. "I have to go," I repeated a few moments later. She grabbed her keys and she and I got in her truck while Hiro and Tadashi followed on his bike.

Aunt Cass and I had bought it from a dealer for Christmas the year prior and he'd nearly broken down into tears. We arrived at the hospital and I signed in, informing them of who I was, who my family was, and why we were there. The nurse behind the desk nodded and pointed me down the hall. A lawyer in a business suit but bunny slippers still on his feet. He was discussing something with Professor Callahan in the hallway while I could hear Bridgette wailing. A young man about Aunt Cass' age left the room and spotted me. I recognized him as Gladys' youngest son. We'd met several times and were quite good friends with each other. I introduced my family then we lapsed into awkward silence.

Finally Jareld broke the silence. "Sakura, I can't thank you enough for what you've done for my mother, for our mother. Bridge might not show it, but she's grateful. She's never been one who liked showing thankfullness and gratitude, so don't take it personally," he said. "When she opened her eyes and saw us, she looked around at us then a few moments later asked for you. I got Robert to call you because I didn't have your number."

"Sh-should I go in now or is your sister not interested in anyone else coming in?" I asked hesitantly. He smiled.

"If she has a problem, tell her that I want to talk to her alone and away from Mom," he said with a mischievous twinkle in his eye. I returned his smile as best I could then went in, steeling my nerves as best I could.

Gladys saw me and her eyes lit up. "Sakura!" she cried softly.

"The nurses said only family," Bridgette said, her voice depicting her animosity.

"Bee," Jareld said from the door. He beckoned her over and she begrudgingly left to talk to him.

"Well that was tense," Gladys said with a laugh. I smiled but found I couldn't quite laugh as hard as she was. It broke my heart to see her in such a state.

"Are you alright, Gladys? Is there anything I can get you?" I asked her.

"Yes, could you get your brother, Tadashi, to grab me some of that delicious hot chocolate from the cafeteria? I haven't been able to get out much, what with my Alzheimers and now my lung infection," she said casually. I stared at her. "What? You think my daughter would keep anything secret from me?"

My eyes almost popped out of my head. "I'll, uh, get Tadashi to get you the hot chocolate," I said numbly. I went to the door and made the request to my brother then returned to my friend's bedside. I blinked a couple times before regaining my composure. "How long ago did she tell you?"

"She told me as soon as I woke up then blamed the infection on you when I asked for you," she said with a dry chuckle. There was no humor in her laugh and a hard look in her eyes. She sat up suddenly and before I could react, she wrapped me in a hug. "Thank you for looking after me, Sakura. I know it couldn't have been easy, taking me around town on Saturdays, then to church on Sundays and introducing me to everyone there." She pulled back and cupped my chin in her hands, holding my face. "You have always been there for me, and I don't know how, if ever, I will be able to repay you."

"Oh, it was nothing. It's the least I could do for you since you and Lennie both helped me get through a dark place," I said dismissively. She looked at me curiously, so I showed her my scars. "I used to cut until I met you two and you both gave me a new outlook on life. Suddenly I had something to look forward to, something to live for. My little brother is a super genius and will graduate this year, as will I, and my older brother is in college, leaving me in both of their shadows. It was quite disheartening, but you two pulled me out of that dark place. Then I started volunteering at the animal shelter on your street and dropping off food donations at the food bank on the way there." I didn't know why I was telling Gladys everything, but she seemed so interested in my life that I filled her in on everything.

"We have a black president?" was all she remarked when I told her of the 2008 elections. I nodded.

"And he's been making progress too," I said. We shared a laugh and then Tadashi knocked on the door. I looked at Gladys and she gestured for him to come in. She grabbed his wrist as he was turning to leave then pulled him in for a surprisingly bone-crushing hug considering her age and frailty.

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Chapter 22

Gladys looked at us when she released Tadashi. She took one hand from each of us and grasped it firmly.

"Listen to me, both of you," she said, her tone making us pay close attention. "I'm not going to come out of the hospital, and I know that. Just promise me one thing: Sakura, don't let the world destroy your kind heart; it's hard enough to find someone like you. Tadashi, don't forget your sister. She's like a puppy, she needs love and attention too. Now, do me a favor and call Justin, my lawyer. Tell him I want to speak to him. It's getting late. Both of you should go home and get some rest. Don't worry about me, okay?"

"Okay," Tadashi said. I just nodded, fighting back tears. He touched my shoulder and nodded toward the door without taking his eyes off me. I bobbed my head again and we headed out.

"Justin?" I said quietly. The man in the business suit was still there. He had a brief case that almost off-set his bunny-slipper footwear. "She wants to talk to you about something."

He nodded to me and headed inside. Tadashi guided me out the door where Aunt Cass and Hiro were waiting. They ran up and hugged me. My older brother and aunt exchanged glances and she gasped, hugging me tighter. I was shaking, I could feel it. I was seconds away from breaking down, I knew it. The sun was moments away from coming up, I saw it through my tears. I swallowed then a few moments later heard a heart-wrenching scream coming from Gladys' room, where Justin was standing outside. Jareld came out a few seconds later and met my eyes.

She's gone, his eyes said. I'm lost.

I sank to my knees and my family went with me, holding me closely as I began to cry, silent sobs tearing through me as my heart broke into a thousand shards. I felt Hiro tighten his grip on me, then Aunt Cass put my head to her shoulder. What I felt next made it only marginally easier to cry: Tadashi, my rock and strong-hold, wrapped us all in his arms and helped us weather the storm together as a small, broken family.

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Chapter 23

The funeral was a few days later. It was nothing remarkable, no extraordinary singer, no exceptionally touching speech, and no children running up and down the aisle shrieking with laughter. I didn't bother responding when Bridgette insisted that I not attend, instead letting Robert and Jareld silence her. I was asked to sit in the section reserved for family and close relatives, which surprised me until I looked at Jareld. It made sense then. He considered me as important as his mother did since I took care of her and spent more time with her than her daughter did. In his eyes, he saw me as his sister by unofficial adoption. I somehow got my courage and nerve to go up to the front and say my farewells to my late friend. Gladys was decked out in her 1960s wedding attire, almost lost in the puffy sleeves. Her hair was coiffed to perfection and her face was peaceful. She had the ghost of a smile on her face. I took a deep breath through my nose and gripped the edge of the coffin to keep from breaking down.

I swallowed hard and murmured, "Goodbye, Gladys. I'll miss you. Thanks for everything." I turned and glanced back at the long line of mourners and continued on. After the funeral, Aunt Cass, who had shut down the cafe so she could drive me to the church then to the graveyard, took me to the graveyard for a final goodbye. She hugged me when I got back into the truck and was about to back up when Jareld ran up to my window. I wiped my eyes and rolled down the window.

"Justin wants us all to meet in his office Friday. Do you think you can make it?" he asked.

"Me? Why would he want to speak to me? I can make it, if I have the address, but why would he want to speak to me?" I answered.

"He said it's to go over Mo-om's will," he answered, his voice breaking slightly. "Three-thirty sharp." He tapped the side of the truck before heading back to get his sister.

I rolled the window back up and Aunt Cass drove us home. I sat on the windowsill and curled up, trying to keep from losing my cool. If I lost control of my emotions, I knew I'd revert back to my old method for coping with pain: self-harm.

Hiro seemed to sense my pain, because he sat down beside me and put an arm around me. Mochi had the descency to not attack me and instead rubbed up against my legs with a heartfelt purr. He flopped onto my feet and meowed at me. I put a hand out and the cat butted his head up against my offered limb. I scratched him under the chin and he just delicately nibbled on my fingers before licking them.

My face fell into a pained expression then I got up and went to the garage to work on my programming, something I did when I was feeling strong emotions.

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Chapter 24

Friday came and Aunt Cass drove me to Justin's office building. She rode the elevator with me and we sat in the waiting room. Bridgette, Robert, Jareld and a woman I'd never met before but who I'd seen at the funeral came in about ten minutes later. My aunt greeted everyone with a smile that showed sympathy for their loss and support. She needed to come with me because I wasn't quite of age. Finally Justin came out and gestured for us to head into his inner sanctum.

A large stack of papers sat on one side of his desk while papers seemed to be falling out of his filing cabinet. There was a Will in the middle of the monstrous spruce wood desk, and a set of cushy chairs, six in total, with a seventh extremely ergonomic one behind the desk. The office itself had a spectacular view of San Fransokyo from the tenth floor with an air conditioning unit perched in the window. He shook our hands and indicated the chairs.

"Please, take a seat and make yourselves comfortable," he said. Bridgette sank into the nearest chair and burst into tears, wailing loudly. It made me have to grip my skirt to keep from cringing and covering my ears. I pressed my lips tightly together, keeping my thoughts and opinions to myself. It wasn't the time to bad-mouth people, it was time to respect Gladys' final wishes. Robert sat down next to her so I decided that Aunt Cass and I should sit on the end furthest from them. She sat down next to me and squeezed my hand. I returned the gesture and she gave me a sad smile.

"I'm sure you all know why I gathered you here," Justin said, clearing his throat when Bridgette had settled into sniffles. "Bridgette, Jareld, your mother left some very...unusual requests that I'm not sure how you're going to react."

"Why should she be here, then? She's not family," Bridgette said.

I held my tongue, though it nearly killed me to keep my thoughts to myself. Maybe because I actually helped your mother regularly instead of letting her go senile by herself! I mentally screamed at her. I closed my eyes, suppressing the inner devil in me

"Because your mother included her in her Will, which is what I'm not sure you both will react," he said hesitantly. He cleared his throat and began reading Gladys' Will. "To my son, Jareld Wiggins, I leave my vacation home in the Bahamas, an estimated value of twenty three billion Yellars. It consists of a spacious 2,000 square foot living space with a gorgeous view of the ocean, walking distance to the beach, and a large backyard. It also has a salt-water pool, so no algae will grow in it. There are three bedrooms and a gormet kitchen with hardwood floors throughout the rest of the home.

"To my daughter, Bridgette Callahan, I leave everything within my home except the bedroom set and diningroom set. The estimated value of the collective items is approximately two hundred thousand Yellars. The house, property, car, and excluded items mentioned above will go to my dear friend and treasured supporter, Sakura Hamada." My eyes widened and my jaw hit the floor.

"WHAT?!" Bridgette yelled, mimicking my shocked expression. Robert's face was a mixture of shock and being impressed. "What did she ever do to earn that much cushy-cushiness from my mother?!"

"Well," Justin said turning the computer monitor so we could all see. He moved the mouse over to a message he had flagged. I'd shown Gladys and Lennie both how to use email, and I saw the message from Gladys. "It seems that Sakura has visited your mother on the weekends, helping her cope with her Alzheimers and the loss of her husband. She would drive her to the Farmers Market, help her out at the stand there, then take her to the grocery store where she was quite well-known by George Jiamani. Then, Sundays she would pick her up, drive her to church, a new one from the one she and Lennie had gone to, where she would introduce her to everyone all over again. It seems Gladys had a different kind of Alzheimers that is similar to what that girl went through in that movie about the lady who had traumatic head injuries resulting in her memory getting reset every night while she slept. I checked out the places your mother mentioned and they were confirmed by those I spoke to. Everything that should have been taken care of by family, was looked after by a valued friend."

Tears stung my eyes at his words. I sat back, still unable to completely process the development. Robert held Bridgette back when she lunged at me. Aunt Cass grabbed me and pulled me back away from her. Justin seemed to sense my surprise because he smiled and looked at me kindly. Finally, the Callahans left, leaving Jareld, his wife, my aunt, and I speechless. I blinked rapidly and shook my head.

I looked at Justin. "I'm guessing that type of reaction is fairly common?" I asked, talking about Bridgette's breakdown. He laughed.

"More common than not, but not usually that severe," he chuckled. He turned to Jareld. "Has she always been this way?"

"Eh, depends what you mean. She's always been a control-freak, if that's what you mean," he said. I snickered.

Aunt Cass drove me home after the meeting and when I returned home, it didn't fully register that I'd basically inherited a house and property worth more money than anyone could hope to possess.

At supper, my family sat down to eat and Tadashi looked at me. He finished chewing his food and after swallowing asked me, "So, sis, what'd Justin want to discuss?"

"Gladys' final will. She left her kids some pretty valuable stuff, but left me her house, car, and property," I said. He and Hiro stopped eating and looked at me, shocked. Seconds later, as I was scooping some stirfry into my mouth is hit me too. I finished my bite and set my fork down.

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Chapter 25

That night, I lay awake, staring out at the street. There was virtually no one out this late at night, so it was peaceful. I got up, feeling restless, and slipped my shoes on to climb to the roof of the house. I'd often gone up there to think when my brothers and I first moved in with Aunt Cass. I was lost in thought when something caught my ear, and I turned slightly, tilting my head to catch it. There it was again, the whisper of slippers over shingles. I looked back and Tadashi was there, scratching his head.

"Hey, Sakura," he said quietly. He sat down beside me. "Couldn't sleep?"

I shook my head. "I-I'm-I guess I'm still in shock that Gladys thought so highly of me. Imean, I knew she liked my company and valued my friendship, but I didn't know she would think of me in her will, much less to the extent that she did," I said.

"Mm," he said. He put an arm around me, his bare chest brushing against me. He yawned.

"You'd best head inside. You need your sleep," I said. "Even if I do go inside, I won't be able to sleep." I chuckled half-heartedly. He smiled, but didn't move. His arm fell from my shoulder after he gave it a final squeeze.

"I-" he stopped speaking and fell silent. He was clearly struggling with himself.

"Go on," I coaxed.

He sighed. "I'm having a hard time with some programming for college. I've built the robot, but the programming is glitchy and I can't figure it out," he said at length. "Would you mind taking a look at it?"

"Sure," I said with a soft laugh.

The window below us opened and Aunt Cass' voice reached us. "If you two don't get down off that roof this instant there will be consequences!" she demanded. I pulled my feet up and we both bolted inside, using the maintenance ladder we'd both used to get up to the roof in the first place. Aunt Cass was waiting for us. She growled and pointed, both to our individual beds. I ducked my head sheepishly and went to bed, though I knew I still wouldn't be able to sleep.

Much to my pleasant surprise, sleep met me not long after I went back to bed. I had bad nightmares that night, though. Dreams where Gladys was alive but I hadn't gone to see her daily so eventually she forgot me and then called the police on me. For some strange reason Bridgette was in my dream, and she was the police chief, ordering the officers to shoot me on sight. Several of them cornered me in a dark alleyway, guns drawn. I backed up until I felt the coarse bricks of the building behind me. In a static of gunfire, I screamed and raised my hands. Oddly enough, the gunfire didn't sound right. It sounded like my alarm.

I bolted upright in bed, panicked. Tadashi came down the stairs, Aunt Cass not far behind him with coming out of her bedroom. It was six AM, the time I usually got up to go help Gladys. I started getting ready until I remembered that she had passed away that week. Tears flooded my eyes and I curled up, struggling to keep quiet.

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Chapter 26

I woke up around lunchtime and found I didn't have a single clue what to do with my time. I looked at the time while chewing on a muffin from the cafe. I figured I'd spend some time at the shelter, then head over to Gladys' old place, my new place, to see how everything is. While on my way to the shelter, I noticed the moving van in front of Gla-er, my home. I was curious until I saw Robert and Bridgette there. She glared daggers at me while Robert offered a sympathetic head tilt with a half-smile. I returned the smile and continued. I stopped over at Jiamani and Son's to grab my weekly order plus some treats and to say "hi" to George.

"Hey, Sakura," he said to me. He was quite subdued that day, almost timid. I realized it was because he knew about Gladys' passing and didn't want me to get upset. "Do you want your weekly order?"

"Sure," I said with a smile. He went out back and returned with a large bag. I made my purchases and then headed out. I dropped off the donation. The volunteer manager gave me a sad smile when I came in.

I gave a small wave then headed to the shelter. I took the dogs to the park and they all were very quiet when we arrived. They just sat around and watched me, occasionally nuzzling me. The one that stuck out the most, though, was a Pitbull-Rottwieler mix I nicknamed Less, short for Clarissa Lessandra the Fourth. She had the beautiful coloring of a Rottie with the calm, gentle nature of a Pitbull. She'd come to the shelter with a severely broken leg, which later had to be amputated, and her owners had neglected her to the point that she became fearful and almost aggressive to people. I sat down just outside her cage and spoke softly to her and eventually she warmed up to me. Now she was friendly with everyone, offering slobbery kisses to kids and adults alike.

"Sit," I said to her. She folded her back legs and propped her front leg in the middle of her body. She looked up at me with adoring eyes and my heart melted. I patted the bench beside me and she hopped up and lay down beside me, her head resting on my lap. I pet her for a while before taking out a tennis ball. I threw it after getting the dogs excited, and watched as they all tore after it. Less sat up and looked behind us toward the parking lot. I followed her gaze and saw my family coming toward me.

I stood up and beckoned them over. Hiro and Aunt Cass seemed a bit hesitant, but Tadashi came up boldly Less stiffened slightly but I scratched her under the chin and she relaxed. "Hey," I said.

"You okay?" he asked. I nodded and Less rose on her backlegs slightly to kiss me. The other dogs trotted back to me, ball in Rocko's mouth. Rocko was a Yorkie who had been raised around Great Danes, so often acted like he was one.

I held out a hand and said, "Drop." He set the soggy ball in my hand. I held it out to Tadashi. "Wanna throw it?"

"Huh? Oh, no it's alright. I couldn't," he said. The dogs whimpered and whined in excitement. I looked at the ball and lifted it a couple times until he finally gave in and grabbed it from me. "Eww!"

"Oh stop, at least it's not been pooped on!" I said. "Just throw it as far as you can, they'll get it and bring it back. Don't throw it towards the street or river, we'll never see it again."

"Ergh, okay," he said, reeling his arm back and throwing it two thirds of the way across the field. Howling, barking, and baying as one, the dogs pelted after it, tripping over each other in the process. "So why doesn't she run after the ball?"

"Well she wouldn't be able to keep up, and she enjoys spending time with me. She has a laid back attitude, and is kinda lazy," I said. Less grumbled and I looked down at her. "Well it's true!"

All she did was snort indignantly.

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Chapter 27

Tadashi sat down on the bench beside Less, who sniffed him curiously. He reached out a gentle hand and, after getting it licked by her, scratched her behind the ears and then worked his way down her neck. She leaned into his touch and made her happy "Gruckgruckgruck" sounds. Her stumpy tail thumped the seat and she pressed her face up against his side to be close to him. Then she flopped down onto his lap. He stiffened slightly, unsure whether she was going to attack. I laughed at his expression.

"So these are the dogs you look after," Aunt Cass said. I nodded and gestured for them to join me on the bench.

Hiro was small enough he fit comfortably between me and Tadashi. Our aunt stood for a moment before hesitantly sitting down beside my big brother. My little brother pursed his lips slightly when Less propped her derrier up on his lap, tail still going strong and swift.

"Does she have to stick her butt in my face?" Hiro grumbled. Less shifted slightly until her paws were underneath her, then raised her rump so her tail was hitting him in the face. Tadashi and I burst out laughing.

"She can understand human speech, Hiro-hahahaha!" I hooted. I let him sit like that for a moment while I recovered, then patted the side of her tush and got her to jump down. She curled up on my feet and leaned against my knees, panting happily.

Aunt Cass chuckled. "So who has adopted her? Has anyone been even remotely interested?" she asked as she scratched Less behind the ears.

"No. She's half Rottweiler half Pitbull, so everyone thinks she's dangerous. Truth is, though, she's just a big softie who wouldn't hurt a-well maybe she would hurt a fly, but only if that fly threatened her owner, but anywho. She wouldn't hurt anyone, least of all children. She's protective, but not aggressive," I explained.

"I wish Mochi would let us keep a dog," she sighed.

"Yeah," Hiro agreed. "Her butt might stink but she is really cute and nice." He scratched Less down her back, right to the base of her tail which was her sweet-spot. She leaned into his touch and kicked her back leg, closing her eyes in absolute bliss.

"Maybe Mochi would," I suggested. "We could introduce them at the place Gladys left me. If they get along, maybe we could adopt her."

Aunt Cass smiled sympathetically at me. I knew it was a long shot, and that we could barely afford what we had. Even as I felt my heart sinking, my brain kicked into gear, already planning a way it could work.

"Aunt Cass, if I take the job at Kethulu Industries, I'd have enough money to pay for her food, and I'm sure that it'd give my brothers something to do too in their spare time," I said. Hiro picked up on my idea.

"Yeah, we could do it," he said excitedly.

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Chapter 28

Tadashi and Aunt Cass looked at each other.

"Yeah, I guess it could work," he said at length. I grinned while Hiro gave a small yahoo. Less looked at us curiously.

"Sweetie, I'm going to adopt you," I said to her. Her face fell in surprise. She sniffed me, then jumped up and bolted towards the street before skidding to a halt and bounding back happily. I laughed. Less leapt into my lap and began licking ferociously. I shrieked with laughter, feeling that finally, finally my life was getting together. I looked at Aunt Cass and my brothers. "Looks like I'm going to have to call Kat and tell her and her dad that I'd be happy to accept their offer of employment."

Less' tail cut through the air constantly and she lay down against me, nuzzling into my arms, trembling from excitement. I smiled gently and hugged her close. My heart still hurt from losing Gladys, but I knew I'd recover. With my new dog the healing process would be faster, I just knew it.

I stood up and Less bounced excitedly, making in almost impossible to get the leash on her. I whistled for the other dogs and they raced back to me, holding still so I could clip them up. Then we headed back to the shelter. As usual, every time one of them did their duty, I picked it up and put it into the nearest machine with the name "Poop for Loot" on it in creative letters. I then grabbed my money and urged them all to continue. Less happily stayed by my side the whole way back to the shelter. When I signed the sheet, I stayed at the counter.

"I'd also like to adopt," I said to Martha. Aunt Cass and my brothers came in while she got the paperwork ready. "I'd like to adopt Less."

"Really?" she asked me. I nodded happily. "Oh, Sakura that's great! Will she be staying with you in your Aunt's apartment?"

"No. Gladys Wiggins left her house and property to me in her will," I said, blinking hard when I said Gladys' name.

"I heard about that," she said after a while. She set down her pen and clasped my hand in hers. "I remember when her husband Lennie and she first moved here. That was their retirement home, and when I met her daughter, I first thought she was quite pleasant, but then I met up with her in Jiamani's..."

"Let me guess, she nearly verbally killed you?" I suggested with a laugh. She chuckled.

"Sort of," she giggled. "Anyways, I'll need you to sign here. Here. And initial here." I did as asked. "Alright then! Where should we deliver the year's supply of pet food to?"

"Huh?" I asked in unison with my family.

"Well it's mandatory for us to supply new pet owners with at least one type of food for one year, so where do I have it delivered?" she asked.

"Can you deliver two types?" Aunt Cass asked quietly. Martha nodded. "We have a Calico named Mochi who we still need to introduce to Less, but if it's possible, would you mind delivering both dog and cat food?"

"Of course," Martha said. "Just tell me the address." Aunt Cass gave her our address and signed a form confirming the order.

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Chapter 29

After getting Less a clean bill of health, Aunt Cass drove home to pick up Mochi. Hiro went with her because the cat didn't particularly like Tadashi and I.

Less was over the moon. She kept pressing into my brother and I's legs, almost needing to reassure herself that it was actually happening, that she had actually been adopted. I knelt down and she sat down in my arms, wiggling excitedly. I grabbed her leash and lead her down the street.

"C'mon, Less!" I said excitedly. "Let's show you your new home!" She barked and ran around in a circle before trotting beside us. Aunt Cass was pulling up to my house when we arrived. The moving truck had left. I handed Tadashi the leash and headed inside to confirm that everything that had been left to me was still in place. I heard Mochi hiss and scream in outrage and then Less' terrified shriek. I bolted outside and found my brother with a thoroughly traumatized Less trembling behind his legs. Aunt Cass and Hiro both had to physically restrain Mochi.

"Guess she's going to have to stay here," I heard Aunt Cass say sadly.

"That's fine. It's a few days till my birthday, so I'll just get things ready for her to stay," I said. Less whimpered and scurried over to me, tail so tight between her legs she had a litte goatee. I crouched down and made Less lay down, calming her down when I took control. I pulled out a spray bottle and squirted Mochi a couple times when he hissed at the three of us. "What is with that cat?"

Aunt Cass sighed. "I don't know. I'll take him to the vets tomorrow," she said.

"Might be from any number of things," Hiro chimed in. We all looked at him. "Mochi's a cat, so that's the first potential problem. Second is he might be uncomfortable with how we analyze everything, including him. Third, he could be in some form of pain, but animals-"

"-Display no weakness because in the wild weakness is perceived as an easy kill," he and I said in unison.

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Chapter 30

A few days later, I woke up to Hiro launching himself at me. He'd been planning on waking me up in a big, not-necessarily-pleasant surprise. I sat up and tucked out of the way. I was turning 18 today, and I was excited. My little brother hit the window and sat back once he recovered. He looked at me with an annoyed look.

"Ow," he said irritatedly.  "Happy birthday sis."

"Thanks, kid brother," I replied. I chuckled. Aunt Cass came out and saw us.

"Are you two ready for breakfast?" she asked. I nodded eagerly and she handed me a plate of pancakes.

She handed me the bottle of maple syrup and I applied a libral amount to my flat, doughy breakfast. She'd sprinkled a bit of marshmallows and chocolate chips on them for me, knowing I adored both together. I dug in eagerly and glared at Hiro when he tried to take a fluffy white morsel.

"Mine," I growled around a mouthful of gooey deliciousness. I finished my breakfast and handed my little brother the plate, where a couple chips and a marshmallow sat. He looked at me with the biggest, happiest eyes I'd ever seen. He picked them off the sticky syrup and popped them in his mouth.

I got dressed in record time and grabbed my school bag as I raced out the door. Aunt Cass and Hiro followed me out not long after. We made it to school just in time for the first bell to ring. I sat down in homeroom and tried not to bounce. A tradition the school participated in was whenever it was someone's birthday, everyone celebrated by giving them a gift. If you didn't know the person, the gift was a school supply item. If you did, it was something they needed or really wanted. No one missed out on anyone's birthday. Normally, everyone waited for lunch to give their gift, but sometimes people gave their presents whenever they could, whether from medical reasons or otherwise. If you missed someone's birthday, or didn't give a gift, you likely would get a reprimand and a detention. Most people prefered the gift-giving, and their family was excused as it was assumed that they would give their gift at home.

Finally, the lunch bell rang and I ran to my locker to get my lunch. Aunt Cass had packed my favorite lunch: ham sandwich, with lettuce, tomato, and mayo on whole grain. I was just sitting down when someone ran up to me, dipped a quick, polite bow, and handed me a box wrapped in blue paper with a pretty bow. I took it and thanked them. Turning back to my lunch, I'd just raised the sandwich to my lips when someone else ran up to me. They sat down beside me and I looked at them, an eyebrow raised before realizing it was my little brother.

"Crazy day so far," I joked through a mouthful of sandwich. 

Hiro chuckled and nodded. I sighed inwardly as someone skipped up to me. I turned to face them after finishing my bite and brushing the crumbs off my face.

We bowed to each other and I accepted the black ink pen with a ribbon tied to it. I sat down again and held it up briefly. "I wonder what it could be!" I joked. Hiro's face turned red from holding in his laughter. He'd taken a mouthful of milk and was trying desperately not to pass it through his nose.

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Chapter 31

After Hiro calmed down, I tried to return to my lunch, and had finished about half of it when someone ran up to me again. I looked up and squealed a little in excitement. I set my meal down and quickly wiped my lips before embracing a dear friend of mine who was in a similar situation to mine: older sibling and a younger sibling. She and I bowed to each other, hitting heads in the process. We winced and laughed it off before she handed me a large teddy bear with a big bow on it. I grinned and thanked her before hugging her again. We'd both spotted the bears in the mall and agreed that's what we'd get each other senior year for our respective birthdays.

"Happy birthday, Sakie! Hi, Hiro," she chirped before skipping off. I got a text and checked it out. Aunt Cass was wondering if I wanted to go home after lunch.

I sent back, "No, why?" I waited for a reply.

"Because Tadashi wants to take you and Hiro on a trip to the County Fair today," she said from right behind me. I squeaked and jumped, whipping around. 

"Well it's just that we have a test today in Math, and I don't want to fall behind," I said. "If I'm going to graduate, I want to work hard. I'm going to call Kat and meet with her and her father when I get off school. Going to tell them I want to work for Kethulu Industries after graduation."

"That's very responsible of you, 'Sakie,'" Hiro teased me. I shot him a glare.

"Don't. Call me. Sakie," I hissed. "Only Korren can call me that. She and I met on the bus one day. Her older sister and little sister get the attention in the family for the same reasons as I'm usually ignored."

Hiro flinched at my words. I was grateful when he apologized. A small group ran up to me and, after exchanging bows, gave me a small pile of gifts. One of them smiled at me as he handed me the handle to an amethyst colored wagon with bright yellow wheels. I thanked him and began putting my pile of gifts on the wagon, Hiro helping me when I needed assistance. I had to get Aunt Cass to bring the truck to the bus loading area so we wouldn't have to worry about the presents being damaged. I insisted on carrying the bear with me in my bag. That after noon, Hiro went with Tadashi to the fair while I finished my math test. When the final bell rang at the end of the day, I was trying to pack, when someone knocked my bag over, sending the contents flying. Someone picked up the bear and snickered. I rolled my eyes, even though the sickening feeling of dread filled my stomach. I looked up and a kid stood in front of me. He was the school bully; the only reason he hadn't been expelled was because his parents were extremely rich and influential. Hiro had tried to stand up to him once and gotten beat up badly in what was clearly a setup. After that, our brother and I sat down and told him what we should have told him in the beginning.

"What do you want, Kim?" I asked, annoyed.

"Aren't you a little old for teddy bears, Sakura? Do you need a nightlight too? And a baby mobile?" I was unamused by the cruel joke. It was more annoying than anything.

"Is this going to take long?!" I asked, exasperated.

Taken aback by my response, he blinked, and I used his confusion to gather my belongings and grab my stuffed animal from his now-slack grip. I shoved it in my bag and sighed with relief when I saw Aunt Cass' truck sitting in the section nicknamed "Parent Pick-up," a place for relatives to pick up the students. I hopped in and was surprised when I saw Tadashi in the driver's seat.

"Buckle up," he said with a smile. We looked over toward the doors and saw Kim come tearing out, stopping dead in his tracks as he searched for me. I knew I was dead as soon as he saw me so I ducked low.

"Drive," I ordered my brother. "I'll buckle up when we're on our way."

"What did you do?" he sighed as we pulled out. We turned out onto the main road and I pulled out the bear.

"Korren gave me this today, and Kim thought it was a security thing. I asked him if it was going to take long, and he got confused. I'm dead when I go back to school, so I'm fine with the fact that next week is our last week of school," I said cheerily. We turned down a street I was unfamiliar with. Aunt Cass had never taken me down this way, and I grew both concerned and confused. I looked over at my brother with a puzzled look as we turned down "Mansion Boulevard" and then pulled into a driveway at one of the smaller villas. "Uh, Tadashi?"

"Hm?" he said looking over at me with a half-smile. I knew that look and narrowed my eyes. The look he was giving me was mischievous, like he was planning a surprise or something.

"What are we doing here?!" I demanded, letting a bit of heat into my voice.

"You'll see," he said cheekily. "Now c'mon, I wanna introduce you to my girlfriend."

We went inside and I took a moment to take in the simple decor in the grand home. Where I expected to see frescos, I saw instead small simple tapestries and pictures.

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Chapter 32

I heard an excited screech and yelped, whipping around just as someone threw themselves at me. Arms from someone who had practiced gymnastics since she was six wrapped around me.

"Sakura, what are you doing here?!" Kat said excitedly.

"I was brought here by my brother," I said gesturing to Tadashi. Kat shocked me by darting into his open arms and kissing him. "I knew you were the ladies man, Tadashi, but aren't you in a committed relationship?"

"Yeah, with her," he said lovingly. His eyes were gentle, but had a fierce fire behind them. "Babe, is your father around? Sis says she needs to talk to him."

"Sure, he's in the study," she said. I smiled as I looked at them. I'd never seen my brother like that, so happy and content in someone's presence. Kat lead the way and we entered a side room where Marcus sat on an enormous office swivel chair in front of a giant wall of windows facing the river. The late afternoon sun played across the waters surface, sending sunspots dancing everywhere they touched. He looked up in surprise as we entered.

"Ah, Ms. Hamada," he said as he shook my hand firmly. "What brings you here? Did Katiana invite you?" 

"No, M-arcus, my brother Tadashi brought me here," I explained. "I've come to a decision about your offer, if it still stands."

"What offer is that?" His tone made me a little nervous. 

"A few weeks ago, you offered me a position working for your company based off the skills I presented to you through your daughter," I elaborated. "If it is still available, I have no other obligations and would like to take up the offer, if it still stands."

He said nothing for a while; then he got up and walked in front of the windows so his back was to me as he stood in front of the book shelves on the far wall. "Are you able to travel? If you are, would you be willing to?" he asked at last.

"Of course," I answered. "I have no other obligations save to the rescue I adopted recently. My brothers will be taking care of her while I am away on business."

"Oh?" Kat said. "I didn't know you were looking to adopt!"

"Yeah, well Gladys Wiggins left her property here in San Fransokyo to me including everything except like a couple room sets, but the bedroom set, car, acre and a half of land, and much of the furnishings were left to me in her will. Her daughter, Bridgette Callahan, was not amused." I chuckled.

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Chapter 33

A few days later, Tadashi and I walked into a lawyers office and asked to speak to a lawyer.

"Do you have an appointment?" a bored receptionist asked as she filed her nails. 

"Yes we do," I said. My computer showed me the date for the appointment, as well as the address. "We're here to speak with Augustine Jerrule regarding a lawsuit against someone."

The receptionist looked up in annoyance. She sighed, and as though it was a very difficult thing for her to do, she pressed a couple buttons on her phone and a voice picked up.

"Yes, Alyssa, what is it?" a male voice said. I felt uncomfortable when I heard him speak. It definitely wasn't Augustine. 

"Mr. Jerrule, your 3 o'clock is here," she said in a slightly nasally voice.

There was a sigh on the other end. "Alright, send them in," he said. I looked at Tadashi and he seemed as perturbed as I was. We followed the directions and entered the office.

"Hello, you must be Sakura and Tadashi. Siblings or a husband and wife looking for a divorce?" he asked followed by a laugh that was forced.

"No, we're here to discuss the odds of winning a lawsuit against a pastor," I said. He roared with laughter. "We have rock-solid proof at he is stealing from a church, and has been lying to the congregation about where the money we have been working to raise has been going to."

"Well then, show me your 'proof,'" he said, still chuckling.

"This is ridiculous, where's Augustine Jerrule?" Tadashi said irritatedly.

"You're looking at him," Jerrule said, leaning back in his chair. My brother and I exchanged confused glances. "I know, I have an unusual name. My parents, God rest their souls, said that their child would be Augustine, no matter the gender."

"That sucks," I said. "So will you take our case or not?"

He leaned forward and watched the video we had and the bank records my computer dug up. "This is some pretty extensive research you two have done. I almost don't need to step in at this point," he said, his tone changing from light-heartedly humoring us to, for once, taking us seriously. "I won't take your case, but I will offer you advice: when going after a pastor, make sure you clearly indicate who it is. Find out if Wilson is his real name, and present your case in a way that has never been seen before. Make it memorable, but keep it short. It should be like a woman's skirt." He looked up and met Tadashi's eyes.

"Long enough to cover the topic, but short enough to keep things interesting," they said in unison. I laughed with them. 

"I wish you both the best of luck, and if you need any advice, here is my card, I'll write my personal email and cell number on the back." He did so and gave me the card. "Let me know what you uncover."

"Thank you, Mr. Jerrule. We really appreciate your help," I said to him. On our way out, I looked at Alyssa's computer screen. "If you type this in, it'll fix the bugs." I wrote down a program for her and she looked at me, stunned.

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Tracking

Tracking

__________________

Warning: Long signature of dragon images

List of current dragons in game and fan based (blue = in game dragons, green = fan dragons, orange = dinosaurs, black (default) = Dragon Cave animals, purple = pet based dragons)

Dragon Cave Dragons(Please help these darlings hatch! Feel free to PM me name ideas for my dragon cave buddies when they hatch!)

HTTYD Dragons (Both fan and in game)

  1. Garenth = Deadly Nadder, Male
  2. Naga = Deadly Nadder, female
  3. Jambu = Changewing, Male
  4. Darksteel = Whispering Death, male
  5. Cliffjumper = Hobblegrunt, Male
  6. Wrecker = Hobblegrunt, male
  7. Penguin = Groncile, male
  8. Phesant = Gronkle, male
  9. Naga = Deadly Nadder, female
  10. Zephyr = Grapple Grounder, male
  11. Starburst = Speed Stinger, female
  12. Moonracer = Flightmare, female
  13. Violet = Skrill, female
  14. Navi = Stormcutter, female
  15. Elsa = Monstrous Nightmare, female
  16. Topaz = Monstrous Nightmare, female
  17. Toothless = Night Fury, Male (borrowed from Hiccup)
  18. Aurma = Razorwhip, female
  19. Cobalt = Razorwhip, male
  20. Bruiser = Rumblehorn, male
  21. Coen and Broderick = Night Terrors, male
  22. Twister = Typhoomerang, male
  23. Holly and Coral = Seashocker, female (holiday dragon, not yet hatched in game)
  24. Aran = Armorwing, Male
  25. Lyall = Terrible Terror, male
  26. Blue = Terrible Terror, female  
  27. Koyi = Oriental Serpentfang, female
  28. Winter = Frost Fury, female
  29. Astrea = Oceanic Seasong, female
  30. Sky-Strike = Oceanic Seasong, male
  31. Cordula = Noelani, female
  32. Panther = Noelani, male
  33. Daesha = Wolf-Faced Desert Runner, female
  34. Dinek = Wolf-Faced Desert Runner, male
  35. Storm Chaser = Storm Fury, male
  36. Naritha Moon (Narith) = Storm Fury, female
  37. Saber = Sabertoothed Horntail, male
  38. Aurora = Spike Roller, female
  39. Echo = Screaming Death, female
  40. Makani = Starring Deciever, female
  41. Starchaser = Stingtailed Flamethrower, male
  42. Gamma = Armored Midnight Fear Stalker, male 
  43. Aquamarine = Spotted Mistwalker, female
  44. Moonstone = Spotted Mistwalker, male
  45. Jadewing = Whispering Whisp, female
  46. Chiheru Bronze = Woolly Fury, female
  47. Tiba Emerald = Woolly Fury, female
  48. Spectra Violet = Wooolly Fury, female
  49. Moondancer = Night Fury, female
  50. Skyfighter = Night Fury, female
  51. Swiftwind = Night Fury, female
  52. Anzu Autumn = River Fury, male
  53. Shakka = Prisim Fury, male
  54. Icefall = Cammo Fury, female
  55. Iris = Greater Banded Geckus, female
  56. Thrush = Greater Banded Geckus, male
  57. Delta = Tri-Horned Dragon, female
  58. Charlie = Tri-Horned Dragon, male
  59. Nitidus = Tri-Horned Dragon, male
  60. Beau = Racing Dragon Gold-Star Class, male (borrowed from Artha Penn in Dragon City)
  61. Goldwing = Racing Dragon Silver-Star Class, female
  62. Jin-hoh = Sand Wraith, male
  63. Melody = Psyche Keeper, female
  64. Argentum (Argen) = Psyche Keeper, male
  65. Fjord = Psyche Keeper, male
  66. Hersche = Spacial Beauty Dragon, male
  67. Persei/Percy = Spacial Beauty Dragon, male
  68. Zenith = Spacial Beauty Dragon, male
  69. Riaryth = Spacial Beauty Dragon, female
  70. Isis = Spacial/Egyptian Beauty Dragon, female
  71. Bluestar = Spacial Beauty, female
  72. Bluebell = Spacial Beauty, female
  73. Avatre = Masked Ridgewing, female
  74. Sky Dancer = Royal Flashbang, female
  75. Heru = Sky Valkerie, male
  76. Hecate = Haunted Hallows, female
  77. Undine = Haunted Hallows, female
  78. Marina  = Wavestroker, Female
  79. Snowfall = Horned Flight Fury, female
  80. August = Horned Flight Fury, male
  81. Artemis = Banded Featherlure, female
  82. Verdentus = ShimmeringSeascale, male
  83. Mesi = Dilowyrm, female
  84. Vetra = Jabberjaw, female
  85. Silver = Light Fury, female
  86. Borealis = Light Fury, male
  87. Flurry = Grapple Fury, male
  88. Gambit = Albino Night Fury, male
  89. Skull Stalker = Skull Screamer, male
  90. Ghost Whisper = Skull Screamer, female
  91. Puru = Ominous Storm Rider, male
  92. Moana = Mystic Wave Rider, female
  93. Serefina = Gallant Flashfire, female
  94. Frey = Forest Wanderer, male
  95. Jinhai = Cursedfire Wyvern, female
  96. Ayano = Skyvern, female
  97. Aqua Rainbow  = Thornridge, female
  98. Thunderwing = Thunderthief, male
  99. Ivinna = Field Sprinter, female
  100. Asia = Velociraptor, female
  101. Artemis = Velociraptor, female
  102. Sniper = Bearded Dragon Fury, female
  103. Abalone = SeaWing, Female (Wings of Fire OC)
  104. Amber = MudWing, female (Wings of Fire OC)
  105. Mariah = gold Fire Lizard, female
  106. Nitidus = Blue fire lizard, male
  107. Garenth = Bronze Pernese dragon, male
  108. Viper = gold and purple ikran, male

My art and adoptables (along with a few special dragons from other artists): 

Flurry The Grapple Fury    Me and Garenth, done by Scorpio Kardia

  Flurry Kimbenoso          Flurry Revamp Nightmarerebuff

Flurry the bouncie Grapple Fury (Nessie)

Coen and Broderick version 2 courtesy of Iron Man 2000

I am a member of the SOD forum Fan Fiction Club!

These guys are available for adoption! Flurry here is my pride and joy! Check them out on my adoption thread "Introducing the Grapple Fury!"

DuskDaybreak's Art

   Veritas the Utahraptor      Asia the Velociraptor         

Me and Chiheru Bronze                                 Tiba says Happy Halloween!

Haunted Hallows

          Hecate                         Undine

Character Furies

        Optimus Prime               Bumblebee               Captain America            Smokescreen 1

 

        Smokescreen 2                Arcee                White Tiger/Ava Ayala

Other dragons and art (including the new Velociraptor Draconis!)

       Gamma                             Jadewing                 Birthday Raptor            Razor Hunter

             Moana

Dragon Bouncies

  Speed Stinger   Garenth           Starburst         Wrecker

  Cliffjumper          Naga           Darksteel         Elsa

     Topaz         Moonracer 1       Moonracer 2           Beau

   Beau 2           Goldwing

Pern Art by Mechfighter

       

 

Garenth the Bronze Dragon Mariah the Gold Fire-Lizard

 

 

Nitidus the Blue Fire Lizard

Other Artists (nothing personal guys, but a lot of my art comes from Duskdaybreak)

Me and Aran at Sunset on Halloween - thanks to ToshiLoshi!

 

Astrea and Sky-Strike the Oceanic Seasong (Adopto66)

 

Artemis and Faore the Banded Featherlure (Amberleaf)

Field Sprinter egg (Valoris620)

 

Ivinna the Field Sprinter hatchling (Valoris620)

Ivinna the Field Sprinter (Valoris620)

Cordula and Panther the Noelani (hootowllighbulb)

Team Mystic Banner Nightfuryatom4

Aqua Rainbow The Thornridge(ladybrasa)

Cliffjumper  and Wrecker the Hobblegrunt (Dorina the Dragon Trainer)

Viper the Ikran/Forest banshee (Kimbenoso)

Jinhai the Cursedfire Wyvern gif (Kimbenoso)

 

Charizard Gif courtesy of Pyrelyth

Holly and Coral the holiday Seashocker (WingsofValor)

Frey the Forest Wanderer (chimchim24)

Moonracer the Flightmare (Dorina the Dragon Trainer)Makani the Starring Deciever (chimchim24)

 

                          

Serefina the Gallant Flashfire (Golden Scarlet) Twister the Typhoomerang (Bow Ie)

        

Abalone the SeaWing (EpicShadows) Amber the MudWing (EpicShadows)

                               

Skull Stalker the Skull Screamer (Golden Scarlet) Ghost Whisper the Skull Screamer (Golden Scarlet)

 Me and my Charizard Charlie (Sky and Ocean)

Dragon License (Nessie)

Toothless and Smidvarg's Gang (courtesy of Dreamworks and Smidvarg)

           

Crystal the Dewmist (Cerebellum) Puru the Ominous Storm Rider (Golden Scarlet)

                                

 Koyi the Oriental Serpentfang (NightmareRebuff) Harper the Paranoid Sandskitter

                                          

 Winter the Frost Fury and Queen Elsa (StellaMontague) Winter the Frost Fury - as an actual Night Fury! (Toothlessnightfury)

Icefall the Camo Fury  and Shakka the Prisim Fury Sniper the bearded dragon lizard as a Night Fury(Toothlessnightfury)

Saber the Sabertoothed Horntail (Fury of the Night)

Moondancer the Night Fury and Saber the Sabertoothed Horntail (Fury of the Night)

Moondancer the Night Fury (LinkWolf)

glitter text done by fury of the night

Clan Banner 1 and 2 Shadow Hunters of Berk (Amerissa)

Pokédex  and Ashley Kashu and Dragonite (Sky and Ocean)

Auruma the Razorwhip (Colress)

Me and Garenth (edit done by the fabulosly talented AniuRavenWolf)

 

Snowfall and August the Horned Flight Furies (babybrothers3)

        

Silver, and Borealis the Light Fury (mesaprncss)

Siamese Night Fury (xxHallaxx)Calico Night Fury (xxHallaxx)

 Heru the Sky Valkerie (Scobidous)

Garenth (Beareptilelover)Artemis Beareptilelover)

Bruiser version 1 (Beareptilelover) Bruiser version 2 (Beareptilelover)

  White Tiger bouncie Fury (Twistedclaw)  Wrecker Banner (Autum5467)

                           

Zephyr the Grapple Grounder (Black saphir) Baby Zephyr the Grapple Grounder (Stiger23)

 Zephyr the Grapple Grounder (hrepetti)

 

Daesha and Dinek the Wolf-Faced Desert Runner and Thundwing the Thunderthief Avatre the Masked Ridgewing (Wutend Bonfire)

Navi the Stormcutter (Slyga) Navi the Stormcutter bouncie (mesaprncss = color,  Xabox-DS-Gameboy = base)

Marina the Wavestroker and Mesi the Dilowyrm and Sky Dancer the Royal/Siren Flashbang (Goldenfury360)

   

Icefall the Camo Fury, Gambit the Albino Night Fury, Vetra the Jabberjaw (The Ecliptic Eight)

 

Asia the Velociraptor (Elsa II)

                                             

Verdentus the Shimmering Seascale (Coolerthandragons) Violet the Skrill (Zero the Ruthless)

 Glory the Vinenecked JungleClaw (Skyler Smile)

Echo the Screaming Death (Candyblast)

            

Iris the Greater Banded Geckus  Thrush the Greater Banded Geckus (TheMasterPlan47)

 

 Aurora the Spike Roller (blackpanther0211)

Starchaser the Stingtailed Flamethrower (dragonlover0204)

Lyall and Blue the Terrible Terrors (Snowflake12298 and Basrolo)

Delta, Charlie and Nitidus the Tri-Horned Dragons (EloraTm)

          

Skyfighter the Night Fury (Frytha) Swiftwind the Night Fury (Frytha)

Jin-hoh the Sand Wraith (Flaming Husky)

       

Jewelsong and Moonsong the Deathsong (Stiger23)

 

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Chapter 34

A couple hours after we got back, my computer printed off the research it had uncovered. Tadashi gestured for me to follow and we rode to his school. After parking, we entered and he showed me a large, puffy, marshmallow-like...thing. I wasn't sure what to make of it.

"What seems to be the problem?" I asked. My brother silently reached around and pushed the chip in.

" Hello. I am, Baymax. Your personal, healthcare co-eeeeeeeeeeee!" Tadashi and I both cringed as the programming malfunctioned in a spectacular manner. I ducked under the arms as they freaked out, and he jumped on its back and pushed the chip reader. Out popped the chip which stopped the noise and glitches.

"Well there's your problem!" I joked. He laughed and handed me the chip. I shook my head and copied the program I had written over to his computer. "Run the program through mine and it'll highlight the errors in red or orange. Orange means it contrasts with another bit of programming. Red means there's something either undefined or would pose a risk if in a robot." I hand him the computer again. "Enjoy. I'm going to bed. Don't be up too late." He sent a dirty look my way and I pedalled back home. I had brought my folding bike and my helmet was stored in my bag.

I returned home and began typing away on my laptop, getting the information on a judge I had heard would be reputable. I sent Augustine an email, filling him in on what I had dug up.

Then I took my bike and informed Aunt Cass that I would be staying at Gladys' old home that night and rode off. When I got there, Less was barking wildly. I whistled shrilly and she stopped. I opened the gate and gave her the signal for "stop/stay" before I slipped into the fenced in yard. I entered the home and pulled out a small camera and began taking pictures of the house, writing in my notebook what would go where in the rooms that had been cleared out. The kitchen would need a renovation, and the whole thing would need an inspection. SCOTT had finished scanning the building and showed a miniature model of the place in the corner of my glasses. I made plans to take my generator and build a second one to put in the basement to run my entire house. I knew then the only thing I would need to worry about is septic and water. Other than that I, and who ever used my house, would be completely off the grid except with taxes, mortgage, phone bill, and water. I brought Less in and, upon checking the time, sent her to bed, where she curled up and went to sleep almost immediately. I smiled and petted her head gently. Then I went upstairs, said my prayers, and went to bed after shutting off all the lights, locking the doors, checking the windows, and going to the bathroom.

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Chapter 35

((Okay I'm really considering trashing this thing... It refreshed the page on me when I had written almost seven paragraphs! Arrrgh-asfedfad!))

We walked into the court room when the bailiff announced our case. The judge sat down and watched as we were sworn in.

"Alright let's get this party started. Mr. and Ms. Hamada, you two are representing the people of Seeurl Street Baptist in this case?" she asked looked at us.

"Yes, Your Honor," we said in unison, bowing to her slightly. She nodded in acknowledgement. 

"And Mr. Wilson, this is your lawyer, correct?" she asked looking over at him.

"Yes, Your Ladyship," he said bowing to her as well. His forehead almost touched his table.

"That's already one problem I've noticed. Call me Your Honor or Ma'am," she snapped. Turning back to us she looked down her nose. "What is this case about, kids?"

"Your Honor, we have evidence proving that Mr. Wilson has stolen money from the collections plate at the church I attend which he also preaches at," I said. "We have him on video shoving an estimated 700 Yellars into his pocket one day. We believe he also has done this multiple times before."

"Let me see the video," she said holding out a hand. We handed the bailiff a portable DVD player and the judge watched the tape. "Is the money only for the church?"

"No, ma'am, it's also to buy some land for the Scouts so they can learn about nature first hand," I said.

"What else have you dug up?" she asked.

We were about to answer when Wilson spoke up. "Uh, excuse me, ma'am, but we believe that they faked the video." There was an audible gasp in the courtroom at his accusation. Tadashi seethed silently next to me, while I kept a neutral face, swallowing my anger with a huge pill of patience. 

"Do you have any evidence of this?" the judge asked. 

"No, ma'am, it's just that they have extensive knowledge of computers and programming, so it follows that they would fake a video to buy some expensive toy with my money," Wilson said. I pursed my lips to keep them shut. I wouldn't speak out of turn.

"Do you have anything to say, Hamada family?" she asked us.

"We do, Your Honor," I said. I brought out the papers with the pastoral consensus for that year. "We did some research and found that there is no birth certificate for Jeofery Wilson." I handed the information over. I snuck a glance at the defendant's table and felt my anger turn to smug satisfaction when Wilson's face turned white. "There is, however, a Daniel Dean Feraccino registered, but not as a pastor." I paused for effect. "We have reason to believe that the defendant not only stole from the church and the Scouts, but from organizations around the world. Daniel Dean Feraccino is on the FBI's most wanted list for fraud, burglary, theft, and impersonation. Here is the documentation on who Mr. Feraccino is, including images of what he looks like. We also took the liberty of finding out what Mr. Wilson looked like before extreme facial reconstruction surgery by gathering information from his public Facebook account." Tadashi handed over the information and the images we had taken from Facebook. After a few moments, the judge took off her glasses and looked at the bailiff.

"Wow, I've learned a lesson today," she said gently. "Don't mess with kids. They know how to use computers." The Bailiff laughed. "Judgement for the plaintiffs for the full amount. Get the police over here. Detain the defendant until they arrive. Court dismissed."

Tadashi and I gathered our things and left the courtroom, chests out and filled with pride. My brother picked me up, spun me around, and let out a whoop. I knew, with certainty, that the Scouts would have land, a shed, and equipment necessary for their learning, and the church would have the bills paid for, repairs made, and would also be restored. I felt a little sad, knowing that Gladys had died before she saw all this happen.

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Chapter 36

When we got home, we filled Aunt Cass in on the court proceedings, looking glum, as though we had lost. Her face was disappointed, and Hiro looked about ready to curse. Tadashi and I glanced at each other, and I nodded.

"But then, Sakura gave the judge evidence that Jeorfery Wilson was just an alias he went by, and presented proof that he is really Daniel Dean Feraccino," he said. "After a couple minutes of reading and thinking the case over, the judge looked at the bailiff and said, 'well, I've learned a lesson today; don't mess with kids.' They both laughed a bit, then the judge ruled in our favour and had Wilson or Feraccino, whatever his name is, detained until the FBI could come and collect him."

Hiro cheered happily and a knock sounded at the door. Aunt Cass went to answer it and welcomed in three agents, two women, one man. We all sat down at the table and spoke for a bit about the court case, where we got our evidence from, and other pleasantries. I thanked them for coming, and bid them good day.

"Oh, and one more thing," the man called as he was turning. We looked at him, a little nervous. "About your reward money, the million Yellars? Whose account should we transfer the funds to?"

The four of us exchanged glances in alarm. None of my research turned up any wanted poster with a reward. Aunt Cass stepped forward."Can it be split into three? Sakura came up with the idea to turn this whole situation into a court case, Tadashi helped her, and I've been their sole caretaker from the time they were little," she said. The agents exchanged looks.

"Yeah I think we can work something out," they said. They bid us good day and left. I smiled and left after supper. I went home and realized I still needed to renovate the whole house, and buy some new furniture. I made a note to myself to do that the next day. Then I went to e garage and began writing out materials I would need for my generator. I felt relaxed after a while and yawned. I looked around the space and found several items I could turn into the various wrenches I would need. 

I squared my shoulder and set to work. I heard a small engine putter by the front gate and turn into the driveway. I had guessed my brother would be dropping by and I wasn't wrong. To my surprise, however, I heard. Aunt Cass' truck pull into the driveway not long after. She and my brothers came into the garage and watched me for a bit. "What?" I asked about ten minutes of them watching me.

"Whatcha working on?" Hiro asked. He approached me a little cautiously.

"Working on my second generator. It'll cut my expenses in eighths, so I might have to pay for an eighth of my usual power bill, but that's only because my generator sometimes fails and it switches to the main power grid," I said.

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Chapter 37

The next morning I woke up bright and early. I stretched lazily in bed for a bit before getting up and reaching for the ceiling then for my toes. I went downstairs, let Less out, then fed her. I then had my computer research contractors and weed out the ones that were questionable. I placed a call to each of the remaining to get an estimate. I already knew how much roughly it would cost if I did it myself, but I didn't want to make a huge mess then get neck deep in a problem I wouldn't be able to fix. I gave Less her breakfast and called the shelter to let them know I wasn't coming in that day. They noted that and bid me and Less good day.

My phone rang and I read the caller ID. It was Tadashi's cell. I answered, voice still a bit muzzy from sleep.

"Good morning, brother," I said cheerfully.

"Hey," he said, sounding just as sleepy. "Aunt Cass wants to know if you're moving out?"

I sighed. "Probably," I replied. "I have my own house I may as well use it, right?"

"Yeah, that's what I said. Hiro said the same, but she wants to hear you say it. Come over and spill the beans," he said. I yawned.

"Haw, alright," I said. "I'll be over soon." 

"Okay I'll let her know," he said. "See ya soon, kidster." I smiled. Kidster was the nickname he gave me when we were kids. It meant kid sister.

I made a quick meal that I could throw in the slow cooker, then dressed, brushed my hair, and drove to Aunt Cass' on my bike. I looked at the black hatchback in the driveway and sighed sadly. I felt that I was ready for my license and decided to talk to my family about it. I folded my bike when I arrived at my aunt's and set it down next to the door, took off my shoes, made two quick bows to the pictures of my parents on the mantle, then whisked up the stairs. 

Aunt Cass was setting breakfast out when my brothers managed to get down the stairs without tripping over each other, harming each other, or killing each other. I sat down with my family and we settled into eating. It was Sunday and we were having dimsum, a traditional breakfast in Japan, where our parents were born and raised. 

After breakfast, we sat back at the dinner table. "Are you moving out?" Aunt Cass asked bluntly. I looked down at the table for a brief spell. 

"Yes, I likely will." My answer seemed to catch her off guard. "I'll be moving out within two months. I'm planning on having renovations and inspections to make sure the old house can deal with the stress." She nodded sadly. I got up and went to her before giving her a tight hug. "Thanks for everything," I murmured. "I'm still in the city so it's about ten minutes to everything, including the cafe."

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Chapter 38

Aunt Cass mumbled something into my hair. I leaned away slightly, looking at her through the corner of my eye.

"Huh?" I said.

"I'm sorry for not paying attention to you," she said a little louder. I sighed and put a sympathetic smile on my face. Tadashi and Hiro watched us.

I hugged Aunt Cass tightly, rubbing her back. "I have two brothers, one a genius, the other a college kid," I joked. "I'm surprised you guys noticed me at all." She pulled away and wiped her eyes with a wet sniff.

"Is there anything I can do? How about your permit, do you have that?" she asked.

I nodded. "And I think I'm ready for my license. I just feel a little edgy with big rigs," I said. She nodded and smiled through her tears. Then she went over to the phone and used paper towel to wipe the rest of her face off.

She punched some numbers and listened on the line. "Hello, this is Cass Hamada. I'd like to schedule a driving test for my niece, Sakura," she said. I looked at her, surprised. "Yes, she has had her license for...?" I held up two fingers and pointed at the calender. Months? she mouthed. I shook my head.

Years, I replied. She nodded.

"Two years...Yes...No she recieved lessons from friends," she continued. "Sorry about that I wasn't sure how long she's had her license...Of course, when is the next available exam schedule?... Wednesday? 3:30?" She looked at me, eyebrows raised. I nodded and flashed a smile with two thumbs up. She bobbed her head in acknowledgement. "Sounds good...She has her own car. Okay, thank you. Bye!"

Smiling, I hugged her tightly. "Thank you!" I said excitedly. My brothers stood and joined in for a group hug. My phone rang. "Just a second. Computer, answer call, headset."

"Yes, ma'am. One moment please," he said.

"Hello, is this Sakura Hamada?" a man's voice said.

"Yes this is, speaking?" I replied.

"My name's Pikerton, but everyone just calls me Mr. Safety," he said. 

"Oh-kay." I was a little confused and got the feeling that "Mr. Safety" was full of himself. "May I ask why you're calling?"

"Well I'm a house inspector and I was calling to schedule an appointment." A woman's voice cut in.

"Hello, is this Ms. Hamada?" she inquired.

"Yes, who are you?" 

"Melissa Grenshaw. I think you're speaking to my secretary, Pikerton. Thank you for keeping her busy for me," she added to the man.

"Sure thing," he mumbled. His tone said he was horribly embarrassed at being caught out. There was an audible click and a buzzing sound that had been driving me crazy cut out. I sighed with relief.

"That noise, the buzzing, was probably one of the most annoying sounds I've ever heard," I commented. She laughed.

"Sorry about that. Anyways, when would you like to schedule a house inspection? I can come over tomorrow afternoon, if you'd like."

I thought for a moment and SCOTT brought up my day planner. The morning was packed with an exam from 9-12, but the afternoon was free. "Sounds good. What times are available?"

"Is 1 o'clock okay?" 

I mumbled to myself, "An hour for lunch, but really it's more like 40 minutes to prepare and eat a meal, then bike over to the house." At a normal level I said, "Yeah, that should be good."

A soft scratching sound was heard as she scribbled on a sticky note in a ball point pen. I heard what sounded like a head hitting the desk as she pinned the note to a bulletin board. "Alright, I'll see you then. May I ask how old you are and where you're currently living?"

"I'm 18 and living with my aunt and two brothers."

"Ah," she said. My brows furrowed in confusion. "Middle sibling?"

"Yes," I said slowly.

"I'm the oldest of four," she said. "My middle sisters had a rough time, especially when our baby brother was born."

I nodded, not really sure why she was shooting the breeze with me. "Anyways, I've gotta go. Need to grab a shower and prepare for my English exam tomorrow."

"Okay, sorry to keep you so long. See you tomorrow!" she said cheerily then hung up. I sighed with relief and my family broke the hug.

"Thank goodness that's over," I said. Hiro tilted his head. 

"Do you honestly think you can get away from me for that long?" he asked.

"If you mess up the house insspection, I swear I'll kill you, slowly and painfully. I have friends on the police force and know how to make a death look like an accident. Tread lightly, little brother," I said. Tadashi snickered. Aunt Cass swatted my arm.

"Apologize to your brother right now," she growled.

"He started it," I grumbled, turning on my heel and getting out of the house. I jumped on my bike and rode to the ice cream parlor I had met Kat at. I pulled out my phone and texted her.

"Hey. You busy?" I hit send and waited.

Ten seconds later I got a response. "Not overly. Getting my computer to send this to you because I have my hands full. Come over and help me with this. Some of the programming isn't exactly working the way it's supposed to. Computer don't send that!" I laughed hard.

"Lshialrotf," I replied. 

"?" she sent.

"Laughing so hard I am literally rolling on the floor." Send.

Three dots appeared. "Just a second." She called me.

"Hello?" I answered.

"God that was the best! I've gotta send a screenshot of that to your brother! Oh thank you!" she howled. "Computer, grab a picture of the message Sakura sent me and send the picture to Tadashi, including the following: Hey, Love. Your sister sent me this. Made my day."

"Glad I could help!" I said. I clipped my helmet on and got back on my bike. "I'm gonna need directions to your place. I wasn't really paying attention when Tadashi basically kidnapped me."

"Sure. Mind syncing our computers up?"

"Not a problem. SCOTT, sync with Kat's computer." An earsplitting noise ensued. I cringed but put up with it. Ten seconds later, Kat's computer spoke to me.

"Hey Sakura," it said in a kind voice that reminded me of a grandfather. 

"Hi. Mind sending the directions to me? They'll automatically display on my glasses so I can follow them like a GPS."

"Of course. One moment." A few minutes later, it updated my maps and showed the shortest route. I turned my bike and began to pedal. 

"So," Kat said, reminding me that she and I were still on a call. "How've you been?"

"Good. I've got two appointments this week, one with a house inspector, who I'm meeting tomorrow, and the other on Wednesday at 3:30 for my license."

"House inspection?"

"Yeah, I'm moving into Gladys' house full time within the next two months. I need to do some renovations, bring the house up to code if it's not, and get my license and the car registered and insured."

"Done," SCOTT cut in. "The vehicle Mrs. Wiggins left you has been registered to you and insured. I took the liberty of researching and applying for insurance. I assume that's alright."

"Who is our insurance broker? And who is the vehicle insured under?" My computer told me and I nodded, impressed. "Okay. That's a good insurance provider. What are the monthly rates?"

"$152.93 per month."

"Wow," I said. "That's either expensive or cheap."

"It's a fair rate," Kat said. "My old Pontiac Sunfire, Priscilla, is insured for like $300. What kind of vehicle is the car?" 

"Computer, send a picture." A couple moments later, she recieved it.

"Ooh! I love hatchbacks!" 

I turned onto her street and coasted down the hill before pedalling wildly to glide into the driveway. I braked and folded my bike, slinging it on my back and shoving my helmet into my bag. "Thanks. I'm here now. Where are you?"

"Come around back to the shed. Don't mind the mess."

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Chapter 40

Kat's backyard was huge. There was a medium sized in-ground pool, complete with jacuzzi, waterfall, and slide. The gardens were immaculate, beautiful flowers bursting with color and fragrance. I coughed a bit when I passed some marigolds, which were pungent and borderline putrid.

Then in the middle of the yard, about thirty feet from the pool house, was a small, seemingly ordinary shed. Aside from some odd items strewn about, it looked for all purposes, like a garden shed, used for storing rakes, hoses, lawnmowers, and other items. I knocked on the door and a speaker popped out of the ground.

"C'mon in. It's not locked," Kat said. I hesitantly opened the door and stepped inside. She was nowhere to be seen and I closed the door.

"Kat?" I asked.

"Are you in?" she inquired.

"Yeah." 

"Okay, hold on and don't freak out!"

"Don't fr-Ack!" I cried when the floor began to drop. It was like being in a terrifying elevator. About twenty feet below ground, I finally caught my first glimpse of Kat's underground lab. My jaw dropped. Kat was flitting about like the Road Runner, or how Hiro sometimes did when he was excited about something.

I stepped off the elevator and it shot back to the surface, closing a steel door to keep the occupants safe. I headed into the lab, awestruck. My computer was working overtime, capturing everything on video. I turned slowly, taking everything in as I walked. I pulled up short when Kat whizzed by.

"Hey, where's the thing you want me to look at?" I asked in passing. She stopped long enough to point. I followed her finger with my eyes over to a low table. I sat down in a swivel chair. "What do you want it to do?"

"I want it to do pretty much everything while still being able to disguise itself as a simple copper teapot," she explained, pausing briefly before darting off again.

"Do you have anything for me to imput information into?" She stopped her running.

"Push the button to your left." There was a bright yellow one not far from my hand. I pushed it and a small laptop popped up.

"Okay, thanks. I'll have this thing up and running in no time." I looked at the code up on screen and set my fingers flying. I deleted all the text that was already there and rewrote everything. Then, about halfway through, I wrote my own idea. It was simple, but effective. It was for a laser that would absorb matter and return it to its original state at the will of the robot. I paused. "Pick a color."

"Huh?"

"Pick a color. I can make something any color you want, but please don't pick pink or purple. I hate those colors for lights."

"Blue," she said firmly.

"Blue it is," I said, snapping a salute her way. My fingers resumed their flight. I stopped every now and again to shake my hands, working the joints differently so they didn't ache when I was done. Kat came over to where I was working and peered over my shoulder.

"What's this line do?" she asked, pointing to the line of text I had set aside for the laser.

"It shoots a laser that will make moving easy. Basically it-well just a second." I opened a new document and quickly wrote a digital program for visual reference. I hit play and it showed an item disappearing into storage, then moving a few virtual feet away and rematerializing it. "I'm going to need a lot of storage space."

"I'll get a bunch of hard drives and memory cards. Half a sec." She dashed over to a wall of storage bins, opening several and shoving them back in before reaching into a few and grabbing a couple items. She ran back to the table and dumped her armload. My eyebrows raised. The combined free data in the memory cards and items totaled roughly 30,000 gigs of data.

I blinked and returned to the programming aspect, firing a quick "Thanks!" over my shoulder. When I finished the programming, I turned to the robot. I used some tools lying around and put the little thing together. It was roughly the size of a watermelon with two handles that looked similar to bull horns. I polished the metal until it gleamed. Then I fixed the hard drives together and plugged in all the cards I could fit. About half of them were in before I ran out of room. I used a chip reader to act as the input, and clipped the end of it to one of the harddrives. Then I put the whole assembly into the shell. It didn't quite fit, so I disassembled the whole robot before sliding the heart and brains of the bot into a roll-cage structure. I tilted my head.

"Hey, Kat?"

"What?"

"Do you have anything like sprayfoam? I kinda need it to make this bot survive anything short of a bomb being dropped on it."

"Yeah, check in the bins." I got up and went over to the bins, peering into each until I came across the bin with the title "Sprayfoam accessories" I opened it and grabbed a spraygun, then went to the one above it marked, "Sprayfoam." I hooked the whole assembly up and brought it over to the table where I was working, then bent over and sprayed the inside of the metal, leaving a half-inch gap around the edges for the cage structure.

I used small screws to attach it after using airplane grade epoxy to keep it all together. Then I added some small cameras for eyes, a pair of tiny microphones for ears, and a small speaker for the mouth. I had programmed the bot with a rather large propeller so it could fly. Then I slid the chip reader into place with a piece of the metal for a cover. I used a helicopter's tail prop, and realized that any normal battery wouldn't cut it by far. I went over to the bins again.

I was rummaging around when I came across some small bars of metal. I held one up. "Kat are you using these?" I called to her.

"What are they let me see." She poked her head around a tarp. "Nope. Why do you need them?"

"The bot won't have enough juice unless it's plugged in constantly which is a real drain on energy. I'm gonna build a generator, like what I use for SCOTT."

"Who is Scott?" she asked. Her computer showed the acronym on a screen. "Oh."

"Yeah I was kinda sleep-drunk when I came up with the name and typed it in." I blushed deeply.

"It's fine. It's actually pretty cool name." 

"Thanks." I smiled and grabbed a handful of the metals I needed then went over to a small forge-like area. I heated the metal and hammered it into the shapes needed. I put the whole gadget together and flicked the middle ring with my finger, sending it into motion. As it spun, it gathered electrons from the air, soon beginning to glow brightly. I went over to the table and set the generator down so I could grab the plastic case I always had with me in case I needed to repair anything. It worked like a charm as I clipped the pieces together after putting the power source inside it.

I plugged the robot into the generator and it clicked on. I called Kat over. She stopped what she was doing and joined me.

"Awe! It's so cute!"

"Immashe," it said. 

Kat yelped. "It said 'I'm a she,'" I translated. "What do you want to name her?"

"Well the name I was thinking was HELIHELPER, or HELI for short," she began.

"Name saved. I will now respond to both HELI-HELPER and HELI," the robot beeped.

"Fascinating," Kat breathed. HELI activated her propellor attachment and hovered about a foot above the table. Kat's eyes widened beyond what I had ever seen on anyone.

"What do you think-?!" I was cut off when she threw her arms around me, causing me to stumble back.

"Thank you! I love i-her!" she exclaimed.

I laughed. "HELI, sync up with the nearest supercomputer," I ordered.

"What do I look like? A simpleton?" retorted the robot. I rolled my eyes.

"Great, I added a sarcastic personality," I mumbled.

"Computer, sync up with HELI. HELI, don't complain," Kat said.

"Fine," grumbled the bot. I was pleased with my handiwork. My glasses displayed the time: 9:58 PM. 

"Wow, it's late. Sorry Kat, but I've gotta go," I said. I grabbed my bag and headed out, waiting for the elevator which came down really swiftly. I stepped in and moved aside as Kat came in with HELI in tow. We bid each other a good night and went our seperate ways, me to my house, her into her parents'.

Sent my family a goodnight texgt then made a late supper and went to bed after taking care of Less.

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Chapter 41

The next morning, I woke up early, grabbed Less' leash, clipped it on her, and went for a bike ride with her running alongside me. When we returned home, I gave her breakfast, and reviewed my notes over a homemade breakfast sandwich.

She wolfed down her food hungrily and I gave her three bowls of water before she was satisfied there too. Then I jumped on my bike, grabbed my school bag, and headed to school. I folded my man-powered vehicle and slung it on my back, slid my helmet into a pouch on my bag and headed into school just as my brothers arrived. Hiro pounced off the bike and waltzed into the school with nothing but a pencil and a pen. I rolled my eyes and followed him. Kim was there with his group and I sighed, preparing myself for either a beating or a chase.

I looked over at the rent-a-cop and he gave me a sympathetic smile before shooting Kim a glare, daring him to try something. Wisely, the bully stepped down, glaring at me the whole time.

I sighed with relief and headed into the exam room. I sat down at my desk and pulled out a book I had brought with me. 

"Did you study?" Hiro asked, sitting next to me.

"Yes, I reviewed my notes this morning over breakfast," I replied. "Hopefully the classroom dynamic we have won't be repeated in this exam."

"Huh?"

"Just keep your eyes on your own paper."

"Hey! I never stole your answers. You just didn't use the proper inflections." I gave him a "really?" look. He looked at his desk. Finally he muttered, "Well, it's true."

I reached over and squeezed his shoulder. "Good luck, kidbrother," I said to him. He chuckled then looked over at me. 

"You too," he replied. "Not to brag but-"

"You're gonna ace this, right?" I asked, not looking up from my book. 

He looked at me. "Yeah," he grumbled folding his arms on the desk. pouting as he did so. 

I glanced up briefly to look at the clock, the one feature my computer didn't display on my glasses. There was about an hour till exams started at 9. I returned to my book, soon getting swept up in the story.

I felt a tap on my shoulder. I sighed and looked at the page number before looking up. Kim was there.

"After exams, you're dead, Hamada, got it?" he sneered.

"Careful, you might hurt yourself," I replied. His eyebrows knit together in confusion.

"What do you mean? You can't hurt me, you couldn't even take me on, you got your baby brother to stand up for you," he bleated.

"Hiro's actions are not my own. He stood up to you because he didn't like the way you were talking to me. Perhaps if you knew our story, you'd be less obnoxious," I replied, snapping my book open in finality. My computer was flashing a message in the upper left hand corner of my display. I focused on it for a few seconds and it expanded, showing some information. I scanned it briefly before looking through the display to the words on my book.

The information minimized, shrinking to the size of approximately eight pixels, 2 high, 4 across. The intercom screamed briefly before the secretary's voice came over the PA.

"Would Kim Shearn please report to the principal's office, Kim Shearn." Kim's face became scared as he walked out of the classroom.

I got up to use the bathroom and decided to stretch my legs. I look out a window to the side parking lot where there were no cameras, and saw Kim being dragged out by his father, who had a tight grip on his son's arm. Even from the second floor, I could tell he was in pain and scared.

"We need to do something," Hiro said, appearing next to me. I jumped and looked down at him.

"But what can we do?" I asked. I grabbed Hiro as he turned to go toward the door. We both watched in horror as Kim's father threw him to the ground and then kicked him, leaning over and yelling words I could barely make out.

"Get up, you useless little" was all I could hear before it dissolved into some very creative swearing. It should have been satisfying to see Kim get his cumuppence, but somehow it felt much worse.

"Hiro, go get the principal and the rent-a-cop," I ordered.

"What are you going to do?" he asked suspiciously. "Don't do anything stupid, Sis."

"Just do what you're told for once in your life," I said, exasperatedly. He rolled his eyes before running down the hall. I turned and headed out into what was certain to be a bad fight if things went South. I noticed a bright red van pull up and people dressed in baggy clothes piled out, joking with each other as they shoved playfully. I gathered my courage and went over to where Kim was picking himself up, shoulders hunched in fear. I picked up my pace and grabbed Kim by the back of the shirt, pulling hard so that he stumbled back behind me. "Enough!"

"Who are you?" snapped Kim's father. He loomed over me.

"I am Sakura Hamada, and I won't let you hurt your son anymore," I declared loudly. I was hoping to draw attention, create a scene. My computer was recording the whole thing, so if anything happened, I could at least say my death wasn't in vain. 

Schlick! The snap of a hidden blade instantly put me on edge. My bracelet, a snake-bot, came alive at the sudden danger. I grabbed her head as she tried to come out from my light jacket. I needed to swallow but knew if I did, he would know I was scared. I needed to put on a brave face.

"Perhaps you don't know who I am," growled Kim's father. He tilted his hand so the early morning light flashed off the blade.

I felt my butt cheeks clench fearfully when all of a sudden three things happened at the same time. The group I had seen earlier heard me making a scene and came to see what the fuss was about. Hiro appeared with Mrs. Seoul and the rent-a-cop. My brother, Tadashi, who Hiro had called, grabbed me and yanked me away from the abusive father.

"What's going on here?" demanded Mrs. Seoul. She may have been a small woman but she was intimidating all the same.

"Hello, Mrs. Seoul," said Kim's father, bowing slightly to her. "Nothing is happening, I just didn't want my son to come to school today, and this," his voice took on a hard edge here, "young lady tried to stop me. May I take my son home now?"

"Sakura, care to explain?" Mrs. Seoul asked looking at me. I sighed with a bit of relief. 

"Well it's kind of hard to explain. I have video to back up my claim, since the school doesn't have security cameras here it's from my glasses. Hiro and I were passing by the window when we looked out and saw Kim being dragged by the arm then thrown to the ground and being yelled at and kicked by his father," I said. "I came out to intervene and sent Hiro to get help. I caused a bit of a scene, bringing these fine gentlemen in too."

She was silent for a few moments. The rent-a-cop noticed the knife and grabbed it from Kim's father, Mr. Shearn. "Everyone meet in my office, we'll review the footage there," she said at last. I gulped, shaking as my nerves caught up to me. Tadashi squeezed my shoulders.

"That was stupid of you, sis," he scolded gently. "You could have gotten hurt."

"I know, but I just had to do something, y'know?" I hugged him tightly, calming down as my brothers gave me a group hug.

"Yeah, I do know," he murmured. "Though something tells me it wasn't entirely your idea." He looked pointedly at Hiro as he said that. Our baby brother blushed a little.

"I said we needed to do something, but didn't think she'd actually do anything," he protested. 

"Hiro, you know she's got a thing about helping people."

He hung his head. "I know."

"Alright now, let's go inside and look at the video."

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((Just a note to say...))

((Just a note to say: if you see or suspect someone is being abused, or if you yourself are experiencing it, tell someone you know, like a teacher or a friend. This chapter does not condone putting yourself in danger to protect someone else.))

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Chapter 42

We all settled down in Mrs. Seoul's office and some passing police were assigned to investigate. I smiled when they stood with their thumbs hooked in their belts. I nodded to them and they inclined their heads in a friendly manner. My brothers flanked me while Kim stood behind his father, looking off to the side. He was clearly uncomfortable.

Mrs. Seoul held out her hand to me and I pulled a tiny wire from my glasses. I reached into my pocket and grabbed my USB converter. As I pulled it out several dog poop bags fell out and I bent down to get them, blushing fiercely. She plugged in the stuff and pressed play. On the display, though there was a fair amount of glare from the interior lights, it was still clear that Kim was being dragged by his father. Only when his father bent down to get a good bit of momentum to kick did we finally see his face. That was all the police needed to see. 

"Mr. Shearn, stand and put your hands behind your back. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law," one officer said. "You have the right to an attorney, if you cannot afford one, one will be assigned to you."

"This is all a big misunderstanding!" Kim's father cried, outraged. Then he was out of the room. Kim was trembling slightly and I went over to him.

"You okay?" I asked gently, putting a hand on his shoulder. He fell to his knees and sat back on his heels, sobbing. I looked at my brothers. Hiro seemed as confused and alarmed as I was. Tadashi looked concerned.

Kim finally spoke after five minutes. "Why did you help me?" he asked between sobs.

"In spite of the fact that you've been a big jerk, no one deserves that type of treatment, even if they're not...the most upstanding citizen," I said, choosing my words carefully.

He wiped his eyes with the heels of his hands then let his wrists hang limply in his lap. "Thank you," he whispered not looking up.

I squeezed his shoulders then stood, leaving the office with my brothers. Hiro and I went back to class while Tadashi headed off to college. We took our seats just as the bell rang. Our teacher glanced at the clock then stood up, grabbing the stack of exams from her desk. She began distributing them while I got out my writing utensils. 

"You will have three hours to complete the exam. You will not be allowed to use the bathroom during that time, and you will fail if you cheat. Anyone caught cheating will immediately be sent out into the hall and their exam removed, and will recieve an automatic 'F.'" There were a few gasps at her words. "You may...begin."

I turned to my exam and filled out the top part before turning my attention to the rest of it. 

Two hours later, I walked out of the exam, feeling like I'd just gone through war, mentally. Between the encounter with Kim's father, reviewing the evidence with Mrs. Seoul, and the two hour exam, I was beat. Hiro seemed slightly more subdued than he was this morning, but he was still chipper and skipped out of the classroom.

"No skipping in the halls!" our teacher called, a slightly bemused look in her eyes.

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Chapter 43

My computer bleeped in my ear and I remembered with a jolt that I had an appointment that afternoon with the home inspection agency.