“We’re your only winning ticket, girl. You’d better take it,” the SO team leader growled.
As much as Kaori wanted to, she couldn’t tell him ‘no’ – she couldn’t tell him that there was no way that they would hand over their Keys. Because he was right. The longer they drew this out, the worse Nikkō would get. They had to quickly find someone with the means to help him, as Enes’ grandfather had said. He had to get help on Earth as soon as possible. Kaori couldn’t do anything. She stood frozen to her spot, shaking.
“Where’s the boy?” the man asked. “Bring his Key to us, and we can end this game.” The man approached Kaori and started pulling off her pendant. Kaori was in too much shock, too confused to react. The pendant came off. The man had her Key.
“Kaori, don’t listen to him!” came Hideo’s voice from the other room. “Snap out of it!!”
“Hideo?” Kaori cried.
“Don’t let him take it, you idiot!” Hideo shouted. Doggone it! The drug…I can’t move! Try as he may, only his fingers would budge. His hands and feet were numb, and nothing else would move at all. He glanced over. Enes would be no help. He’d been drugged to sleep.
The shack started to crackle and shift. Wood shavings fell from the roof. “Boss,” yelled one of the SO members, “this building’s going to cave in any minute now! We’ve got to get out of here!”
The older SO member gripped Kaori’s Key. “Right,” he replied. “You two,” he ordered his subordinates, “take the boys.” He pulled a cloth from his pocket and approached Kaori again from behind.
Kaori whirled on him and attacked him. “Give that back!” she yelled.
“Now’s not the time to be stubborn, girl!” the man yelled.
Some of the other members ganged up on Kaori and pulled her off. “Let go!!” Kaori screamed. “Let go!!!”
A stiff gust of wind suddenly built up and blew the men off. The shack became even more unstable as the rear wall started to give. Kaori quickly got to her feet. “What was that?” she wondered aloud. She looked up toward the shack door. Her mouth fell open in disbelief. Her eyes widened. “Nikkō, what are you doing here?!” Kaori cried in alarm.
Nikkō propped himself up on the flimsy doorframe and gestured toward the older man who had her Key in his hand. “Kaori, hurry!”
There was no time to scold him now. Kaori clambered across the dirt floor and grabbed her Key from the older SO member’s palm. But the others recovered quickly, moved in and pinned her down, then took it away. Before Nikkō could help her, the SO members outside charged him and threw him down. “NIKKŌ!!” Kaori screamed. “NO!! DON’T TOUCH NIKKŌ!!!” She gathered her strength and managed to fight her way out. “DON’T TOUCH NIKKŌ!!!” She barreled toward Nikkō and curled up over him. She took Nikkō in her arms, when someone hit her. Then everything faded to black. Nikkō…