Darius buckled his DevilsDare Ichabod X3999 onto his right forearm. He happened to glance up.
He grinned at the sight of his two friends arming themselves: Hildreth with his Bossman 550 and Jeff with his Tsunachu XPQ.
Arabella reined in the kids one more time and gave her husband a questioning look.
“Hildreth was right. This is going to be amazing.”
She kissed him again. “I’m going to take the children inside before they decide to run out into the street.”
He nodded. “I’ll be right there.”
She smiled lovingly at him before leading their small group to the building.
Darius finished buckling his weapon. He hurried over to his two friends. “Hey!”
Hildreth beamed at him. “Look at you, all shined up nice and pretty.”
He shrugged. “Well, you’re looking pretty spiffed up yourself. Where’s Master Shinowa? He is coming, right?”
“I hope so. I’d be so disappointed if he’s a no show. You don’t even know how much I’ve been looking forward to him coming to my wedding. I mean, sure. I am deeply honored by his willingness to stand beside me.” Hildreth’s eyes brightened. “But just imagine it, Dar. Master Shinowa dressed in a tuxedo. It’s going to be a beautiful thing.”
Darius tried to imagine it. He quickly shook his head. “It’s like something that should never happen.”
Hildreth laughed. “I know!”
A black and chrome station wagon pulled into the parking lot.
“Ah!” Jeff said. “And here he is.”
All three hunters waited while their master parked his car.
“Twelve cents says he’s wearing his dojo clothes.” Jeff said.
Hildreth snirked. “Oh, I hope so. That would make my day.”
Darius thought about it. “I’m willing to bet forty-five cents.”
While they waited for Master Shinowa to show himself, a Ford Aztec with maize and blue zig-zags along the sides pulled in.
“Good.” Jeff said. “Here’s the other guys.”
“Do you think they remembered to bring their weapons?” Hildreth kept his gaze on the black and chrome station wagon.
“I’m sure they did.” Darius smiled. “How could they pass it up?”
“That’s actually a very good question.”
The other two hunters got out of the car and hurried over to their small group of friends. Sure enough, they had their weapons as well.
Edmund, a tall redhead with a hawklike face and a prominent Adam’s apple, wore his Viv Vias Per Oue X.2— wood and leather meshed gloves with wooden spikes along the wrist.
Kaneshiro, Master Shinowa’s youngest brother, sported a buzz cut that was growing out into short spikes. A hand-tooled leather sash bag hung around him from left shoulder to waist. Darius knew from experience that it contained Kaneshiro’s favorite weapon — a Nihatsu fighting fan, a black painted iron fan with wooden spikes along the top and at the base of the handle.
The five hunters greeted each other and bantered happily.
A car door opened and closed, followed by the sound of another door closing.
Hildreth laughed at something Kaneshiro said.
Footsteps approached, heading straight to the group of hunters.
“Ohhhhh!” Edmund high-fived Darius. “I knew it!”
Darius laughed. “You always say that.”
The footsteps closed in on them until they halted behind Hildreth.
“Well? What else can I say?”
Someone behind Hildreth cleared his throat.
It was a very familiar sound.
All five hunters snapped to attention. They stood in line and bowed to their master.
“It is much good to see all you together again.” Master Shinowa said.