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United Hope|How Elements Have Struggled...

 
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7/10/2008 13:07:44   
mastin2
Member

It is done. I completely rewrote the whole story. If you read it before...then you will have trouble recognizing it now. It now is my longest story ever. It is something that shows some of my highest skill. It is now one of the stories that I truly take pride in. Its ramble topples even the length of the one devoted to The Hunters. And I want you to bash it to pieces!






United Hope
Struggle of the Elements

By Mastin


Intro:


No one knows just exactly how it all started, as records from that period were all but wiped off the face of the planet and he never talks about back then. Brian D. Lewis has hidden his early life, so guesses of how this started vary, but they do share one thing in common…When this all started, Brian was only fourteen and was just living a slightly above average life. He went to a school called Ski Valley, one of the best schools in his state of Washington. He was smart—especially for his age—and in most areas, was capable of excelling at them.

But—apparently, from the best accounts out there—he chose not to. He chose to instead use his gift to pursue his hobbies, bringing his grade down to that of a normal student. Talent unrecognized, he was living what to him was more than an adequate life. Here’s where the differences start. Some say that he valued some things above his life; most don’t. He lived in a small home that was one story tall but was on a hill, so the basement on the bottom half made what appeared to be a first story. In essence, one and a half story tall building. It was in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by forests on all sides.

Skipping ahead a little, the area with the most variance is how this all started that one faithful day. Some say he lost something too valuable to him and he simply could not bear it. Some say that he had been abused too much in recent times and just left. Some say that he lost control and fled after badly hurting his family. One version even says that he was in a terrible accident; he had his left hand severed—leaving a seed implanted in there—plus lost most of his family, then left to recover!

We simply do not know. But we do know that he left the house in the middle of the night. From there, the story also varies. Some say he simply slept outside in the terrible conditions that nature was providing. Some say that he fled into the family’s forest. The latter is slightly more likely, so that is what I will go by. But after he slept, the same story takes over. The variances disappear, and unify under what happened. That is how this all started. In the middle of the night, he declared that his will to live was shattered, and he’d accept whatever the elements would throw at him. He slept, overcoming the immense rain, the terrible stones underneath of him, the irritating grass, the ice-cold wind, and more. When he woke up, he felt like a completely different person. This is where I shall begin this tale…

< Message edited by mastin2 -- 8/21/2008 18:11:53 >
Post #: 1
8/21/2008 4:11:06   
mastin2
Member

Chapter One:
“Awakening”


Brian was shocked to find himself still alive. He had been hoping to end his life because of what he had done, what he had endured. But there he stood, renewed with an eerie life. He felt himself regenerated and full of new life. The sensation throughout his body made it seem like he was stronger than ever before. His muscles felt soothed and his bones felt knelt. If one goes by the version where his body sustained heavy damage, then he also had that healed.

His body seemed like it had gained strength so great, he could endure anything. This, by all logic, should not have been possible. Even stranger, he was always hungry in the mornings, yet waking up a dawn, he found that he felt like he just ate. Wide awake, he felt like he had gotten more than enough sleep, even though this was not so. I should be dead tired.

Rejuvenated, he felt better than he had in all his life. Against all logic, he had a gut feeling. He somehow felt that he wouldn’t need sleep or food anymore. But the question plaguing his mind: Why? Why was he alive, and why did he feel better than before? Why did his senses feel increased? He could hear the breeze, the sound of the foliage rustling, and his own heartbeat. He could smell the cold air and the dew on the plants. The breeze felt like ice piercing to the bone. All of it he had not paid any heed to.

But even stranger than that was the fact that he was beginning to hear voices in his head. Oh, great! Now I’m going crazy. I occasionally heard a ringing noise no other person could, but nothing like this. This is…stronger. And this is freaking me out.

The buzzing noises were getting stronger, more frequent. Voices in his head and the new strength in his joints? It could not get stranger to him. Well, now what? Do I go even crazier than I already am and speak back? I’ve got nothing better to do, so I guess I’ll try it.

He tried to speak back, clarifying his thoughts. Nothing; the voices seemed unresponsive. Perhaps he had truly gone crazy overnight? Possible, but this feeling seemed real; this feeling seemed to be going through his very soul. Concentrating, he looked around him to find a bird and it seemed to be…speaking to him telepathically. Now, I’m fairly sure that either I’ve completely lost my sanity…or that I just heard that bird speak. Apparently, I’ve underestimated them. We all have.

The thoughts weren’t directed at him, yet he was picking them up. Humans should not be able to do this, so why him? And weirder yet, he was beginning to understand what was being said. The look on the bird seemed to be curiosity, disappointment, and for some reason, no fear whatsoever. Before—even when he was friendly to the animals—they would instinctively flee from the danger, yet now the bird seemed confident.

Listening, he heard the bird say “What a strange human. I could have sworn overnight, he would have died.” The fact that he could hear that was disturbing enough; the fact that animals that most believed to have small brains could have such thoughts was even more so. Sure, Brian had always thought them to be smarter than perceived, but to actually experience it first-hand was something he was not prepared for.

Brian didn’t bother just speaking, knowing that the bird wouldn’t understand, but maybe it would understand if he tried to project his thoughts. At first, he knew that all that will come out will be nonsense, but if he tried hard enough, maybe—just maybe—he could get through and do the impossible. “And how do you think I felt when I woke up? I thought that I wouldn’t live either.”

Now it was not just Brian who was surprised—he thought it would not work—at the projected message; the bird actually jumped up at Brian responding, before the bird then asked, “Who said that?”

At his success and the bird’s question, Brian smiled, looking slightly amused at the bird. “Down here. You were looking right at me before.” The bird looked at Brian and was shocked.

“No human can communicate with nature!” Now, of course, Brian wouldn’t argue that point; it had never been done with any level of success before. Yet now, it had been done, so this bird might not have accepted it. Perhaps the bird had thought—at first—that another presence was messing with it, but no, it really was Brian.

Brian replied, saying joyfully, “I’m just a puzzled as you are. One day, I’m perfectly normal and today, I find that I can suddenly communicate with you. I assume that this is unusual even in your world. Yet alone, mine. And if it was with you, I can most likely do the same with others as well.” The bird had had enough; a conversation with a human was too much to comprehend. It did not take long for the bird to fly away quickly, not wanting to understand why this happened.

Brian then tried his luck again. He tried touching a plant, and projected, “Can you hear me as well?”

The plant ruffled its leaves, and in a slightly nervous tone, Brian heard a response of, “I heard your whole conversation with that bird. Every plant within a hundred feet heard you. Projecting your thoughts. It’s something not even we do very often. While you can have a private conversation, your conversation was rather open. I agree with you, though; this is extremely odd. As far as nature history goes, no human has been known to have this ability in over a thousand years. Do yourself a favor. Look at your left hand, from above your wrist to your elbow, and see if there is a scar.”

Brian was puzzled by this request, but he sees no harm in doing so. Raising his sleeve, he saw a nice Vine pattern showing quite clearly, and it was clear that it was a scar. The plant responds, “You’ve got the marks of Earth. You can communicate with every plant, every animal, everything alive except other humans telepathically. Domesticated animals will likely shut you out, but it is possible. This is a mighty ability, and you can’t hide it forever. You better learn to control it as well…it’s rude to accidentally read the thoughts of a living creature.”

Brian then left, but another odd thing happened whenever he walked. The plants were literally bending away from him, preventing them any harm. “Oh, and I forgot to tell you…with this ability, you now can’t harm a living creature, with the exception of humans.” The plant warned as Brian left the telepathic range. Brian seriously wondered what humans had done to exclude them from the ‘circle of the earth’, as it would later be worded.

Walking dead strait, he kept on going. From plants, he was able to determine direction, whenever he was straying off his planned course. Eventually, he managed to find his way to the city his school was in, Neros. He didn’t know what impelled him to come there; he just came.

He immediately began for the school, impelled to surround himself in a more familiar setting. But it is then that he noticed a young deer being shot at mercilessly by a group of men, obviously just doing it for fun. Deer don’t normally wander into the city; they must have chased it out of the forest.

Brian, now, could not just let this happen, seeing as how he would feel the deer’s pain. He punched one of the men, exclaiming, “Don’t hurt that poor defenseless deer!”

The men stopped, staring harshly at Brian. One commented, “Do you even know who we are, boy?” Brian admitted that he didn’t. “We are high members of Kadrane Industries and we won’t tolerate this kind of treatment! Your home will be crushed, your life ruined! This is the punishment for challenging one of the largest corporations even in existence!”

Brian, however, did not seem even a bit dazed. His home would mean very little to him now. When the men raised their guns again, Brian stared at them harshly with his now-green eyes. If the men had stared at them, it would take only a true fighter to not run away from those determined eyes. Yet they weren’t staring at his eyes; they didn’t have time to.

He punched the same man again, this time setting off a chain reaction. The man had been intending to shoot him, so when Brian punched him, it caused him to shoot Brian in the leg. Brian cried out in pain, but found that there was little blood; the wound seemed much worse than it was. Overcoming the pain, he demands, “Leave that poor creature alone; you have no reason to hunt it just for your amusement!”

The deer thanked Brian, thinking Brian can’t hear, and then ran away. Brian smiled at the deer as it left, before he stood up to the men once more. He wasn’t as tall as two of the men, but the one he hit was shorter than him. Brian was six feet tall, his height fairly high for his age. The other two were at least a few inches taller, but the dwarf of the group was the opposite, standing at least two inches short of Brian.

The men lost interest in the deer. With their entertainment gone, they would have to improvise; a wicked smile formed on the dwarf’s face. They began to point their rifles at Brian’s head, as the man yelled, “You’ve really done it now, you little…”

Brian didn’t even bother to let him finish; he ran strait for the bushes where he came from. The men were amazed as they saw the plants bend to let Brian through; they seemed to not exist as he went through. Then they watched them seal off, much tighter than before. A living, breathing obstacle.

They actually seemed to make what appeared to be a wall, intertwining to make the area impassable. Brian muttered a few thanks to the plants forming the wall and then ran for his home. It would be in serious danger, even more so if he was identified. A single thought occupies his mind: This gift might destroy what I know and who I am. “Why does it always have to be me?” he cried out, as this situation would prove to be his first great test.

He ran home, still staying in the forest to prevent his detection. The journey home took less time than the brief trip to the city; even going uphill instead of down, a man can go faster if he is determined enough. He didn’t enter, but rather, stayed nearby in the bushes on his private road.

There, he waited. And waited. And waited some more, before he finally fell asleep. He sent out a message to all around him to wake him up if anyone besides his family were to come nearby. The plants nearby still couldn’t fully believe him, but rumors had already spread of ‘the nature talker’. They didn’t question him anymore. It was—and still is, just by far less creatures—that those with the gift instantly form a bond with nature and have the best interest of the planet in mind. Questions would only hinder his goal.

Over a network of plants stretching ten miles, thoughts could easily be transmitted. A few false alarms were rung, but when they proved false, Brian was never disturbed in his sleep. The plants continued to keep guard, looking for activity. The grid would give him plenty of time, so when something were to come, he would be ready.

Brian was woken up early, with time to spare. Demolition trucks approached. Armed men were coming. This definitely was not a false alarm. He called out. He extended his call for a hundred miles. A beg for help: any and all things that could assist him to come help as fast as possible. They would be there within twenty minutes.

His home would be doomed to be destroyed, if he didn’t find a way to save it. He looked around, and saw only nature. But now he could control nature by asking plants to do things for him. He could do this. “Everyone, I’m going to need a favor from you, and it could be painful.”

A familiar voice of a plant nearby responded, “We’re with you, carrier. We will support the one with the ability to help the earth. Just tell us what to do.”

Brian smiled, as he replied, “Thank you. Now, I’ll need you to perform a special task for me while I finish thinking of a strategy…”

The call was answered. Coyotes, birds, wolves, and even two mountain lions answered the plea; all were there to assist him. Several trees and surrounding plants were ready to sacrifice limbs and lives to hinder the enemy’s movements when Brian wished it. All had special assignments.

Those special tasks would be the first time Brian explored his new-found powers, as it required a feat normally not possible. But Brian now thought, “Impossible is nothing. Get ready. This will be a mess.”

When the trucks arrived, they found the path blocked by immensely huge tree branches intertwined across the road from nearby Pine Trees. They had formed a wooden wall too thick to cut through. Annoyed, the men inside took out torches, preparing to burn the whole forest down if necessary to get past. They were prepared for this. They had been given orders and planned to succeed.

Brian would not have it. He shouts telepathically, “NOW!” Spikes formed all across the trees, penetrating the unlucky men to have stepped out of their protection already. Vines from the ground popped up, destroying the trucks and immobilizing all the men outside.

A bunch of birds, snakes, and rodents appeared around Brian. He now faced the men. Taking a branch from the nearest tree, he had it shaped into a sword. It no longer mattered that he keep his secret. With a wave of his weapon, they all attacked. The mountain lions took down three men. The coyotes took another two. The rodents and snakes bit at the men. Spiders descended from the trees and stabbed at them. Bees stung them. Ants swarmed them. Birds bombarded them and pecked some to death. Plants kept on overgrowing unnaturally, spreading to kill a few.

But the largest slayer there was the mastermind. Brian slashed nearly every man there, leaving rather nasty scars, before demanding they leave. There had been three trucks left, carrying about thirty men. Of them, fifteen had been killed. All the rest were all wounded.

The men smiled, and a bird warned, “Brian, we were so busy warning you that we didn’t notice until now! Many more trucks are coming!” Brian was worried by this new information, and with a single strike, left the current crew unconscious. There would be no point in killing them; he would leave them out in the forest, letting the creatures kill them. He shifts his attention to a more immediate threat. This would be a severe challenge. His first real fight had just begun.

When ten extra trucks arrived, Brian was as ready as he would be. He instructed moment by moment via telepathic images what he wanted the plants and animals to do. To the best of their capabilities, they began taking the trucks out. Despite the persistent attacks, the men survived and simply kept on coming.

Brian couldn’t hold out that much longer and, worse yet, the animals were being forced to retreat. Half of his forces were pushed away or killed by the men, using flamethrowers and bug spray to deter raids. But then, he discovered his powers were more powerful than he thought…he managed to—directly, without asking—manipulate a vine to save a coyote’s life.

He did it again a few times, just to see if he could. Though it took the process of asking away, this could have harmed the plants, so Brian limited himself on the use of this technique. Of the roughly hundred men sent there, about seventy had fallen. But they kept on coming and he was losing strength.

When even his manipulation wasn’t enough, he pointed his hand at his opponent, not knowing what he was doing. He just let it flow; before he knew it, five seeds shot from his left hand, instantly knocking the man unconscious.

Brian was even further shocked. “I…can create plants?” He questioned, as the seeds killed the man by sprouting. Brian realized he failed to control them, but he might be able to use that technique to finish the fight much faster. With proper control, he wouldn’t permanently harm his foes. The only reason they would need to be eliminated would be to prevent them from telling his secret. Yet he didn’t care; to them, he was just a boy. To them, he was just a target in their way. They had no idea who he was, so why bother killing them?

Shot after shot was fired from his hands, killing and wounding many more. The crew eventually retreated, but Brian was drained. That technique was pushing his limits. He collapsed, thinking, “Not again!”

But he had no energy and had no choice but to submit to fatigue. He didn’t even have the strength to communicate with the plants and animals around him, so they just left, sensing danger nearby and fearing for their own safety. They all tried to warn Brian, but it was too late. Brian was at the mercy of whoever was approaching, and if it was who he thought, he would never see daylight again…




Part Two:

Brian woke up, instantly blinded as he awakened to a bright beam of sunlight in his face. Wherever he was, it was a nice spot, full of sunlight and surrounded by the forest. He was not where he had thought he would be. Nor did it even seem like he was in a cell, as he seemed free to walk around. No restrictions. His room seemed to be made of a combination of natural and artificial material, protecting from the elements yet allowing a person to walk out in any direction.

There were no guards. All he would need to do would be to ask the plants around him to know where to go. If these people were in league with Kadrane, then they would know better. Not only that—but there is no good way to keep a prison in the forest. From his encounter, Brian could guess that they hated the forest, anyway. Whoever had found him obviously was not working for them.

Scanning the area again, though, he noticed someone he recognized from school. Someone just under his age and already a person that he trusted with his life. He, at first, did not want to believe it was her. Yet the face proved that it was, indeed, her. Her attitude towards nature and such a friendly face makes him instantly believe that the facility he is in is definitely not associated with Kadrane.

“Hello, Eros!” he muttered in a weak voice. “What are you doing here and where exactly is here?” Brian asked, clearly confused. Sight-seeing over, he began to stand up. Looking at her again, he could see the smile he knew from years of friendship. He could see a smile of pure happiness on her face; seeing that, he couldn’t help but smile as well.

She answered, “Well, here is in the middle of the forest, at the Environmentalist headquarters. We heard of your encounter with Kadrane. Do you know that Kadrane industries is purposefully trying to destroy the environment? That company is bypassing all authority to do it. They have such a young CEO, yet he is already corrupt with power. He’ll destroy us. Environmentalists such as ourselves believe that we must stop him, so we live secretly as what he’d call ‘terrorists’. And why, of course, is because I am one.”

Brian smiled at the sight of her face; he had been seeing that same face for so many years, he can barely remember not seeing it. Even if he didn’t admit it, he had always liked her. Of course, Eros wasn’t her real name, but it is the name that everyone knows her as, today and then.

Brian then inquired, “I assume that you people saved me because of who I am?”

“Bingo! You are supposed to be the one who can accomplish our dreams, so we couldn’t leave you there!”

“What about my family?”

“They’re safe at their home for now. Just rest, for the moment. I’ll give you a tour later.”

Once Brian had recovered, he was given a tour of the facility. It was vast; they had the whole forest to use as a base, after all. Stretching for hundreds of feet, they had enough room for thousands. They only housed a few hundred, but the potential remained there, for growing numbers. A large stream ran through the middle of their facility, giving fresh water for them all. Trees and plants that would normally not grow were flourishing; they had enough food to last potentially forever.

All the buildings were built to shield them from any harm that could befall them, yet still seemed natural in the forest. If Kadrane Industries were to observe from nearby, they might not have been able to find anything. All the buildings allowed forest life freely through; creatures that chose to could easily walk through the camp.

“Impressed, Brian?”

“Yea.”

“Well, I’ve given you the tour, but you have yet to meet many of our people, have you?”

“Yea, that’s right. I’ve only glimpsed a few of them.”

Eros showed him around the personnel hotspots, allowing him to become familiar with the members. Many he recognized from here and there. Quite a bunch he had known from school. Even more he did not. “As you know, Kadrane Industries is everywhere. Likewise, it would make sense to have members around the whole world as well. We do, but this area is the largest. The simple reason why is, though Kadrane Headquarters are on the other Coast, Kadrane himself takes long visits here.”

“I suppose that makes sense. How many people are here?”

“A few hundred. A few hundred more have their own bases across the world. We’re environmentalists, but it’s naturally hard to convince people to join us. They’d put their lives on the line and we have to somehow tell them that we are not terrorists, but rather, people with an honest goal. It’s one thing if industries are damaging the environment. It’s another if they are purposely doing it for profit. We need to take him down. We are slowly growing. Half of our town has been swayed to our side.”

“That’s good, I’d assume.”

“Yes. All politics have failed. Kadrane already has too much power, too much influence. He is truly evil, his corruption running deep. We had originally hoped to solve this peacefully when we got enough supporters. Now, we know that’s impossible. Military action against Kadrane is also impossible. It would be suicide to outright fight that kind of power. We don’t know what to do. But we have to keep on trying, to keep up hope. We have to do something, or else the planet really will die.”

“I understand that kind of pain. I will do what I can.”

“That’s very good to hear,” a figure interrupted from behind.

“S-Sir!”

“At ease, Eros. Gave him the tour, did you?”

“Yes.”

“She addressed you as ‘Sir’. So I assume that means you’re in charge?”

“Yup. That’s me. We’re all here to try and stop the biggest threat to the environment out there, and that is Kadrane Industries. It’s hard to believe that so much power could be wielded by them. Unfortunately, Kadrane is already amongst the most powerful companies in the world. Whole governments are beginning to fall under the company’s control. We have to stop it,” the leader stated. “And we’re glad to have a gift such as you.”

Brian eventually got used to the area. After a little investigation, he even recognized it as being less than an acre outside of his property. Brian joined them, swearing he would help in any way he could. From there on, he was assigned to a team dedicated to the anti-Kadrane team, which also saved any plant or animal in distress. Eros was also a member. He had been thrilled to learn of where she had been assigned; it was a dream to be so close to an old friend.

Brian was given a crash course on what they did. He was taught how they handle things. He learned quickly, and in less than a week, he had fully completed his training. “By the way, Brian, what were you doing earlier? I saw you focusing on the grounds nearby.”

“Oh, that? Telepathic imprint to the creatures of the forest. Basically, I left a long-lasting mark that says ‘this area is as safe as the rest of the forest’. In other words, they are in absolutely no danger. It should allow animals to pass through even more easily, with no fear whatsoever that we’re going to harm them.”

“That’s nice.”

“I also did the opposite for my house when I got the chance—telepathic imprints, telling all creatures to stay as far away as possible; the house is a deathtrap. If you’ve seen inside my house, you’d instantly know how much death there is in there, at least for bugs.”

“Neat. Where’d you learn that?”

“Self-taught.”

“The look on your face says otherwise.”

“No, really, I am self-taught.”

“Who helped you?”

“How dare you make a baseless accusation that I received some help from a plant, who also gave me the idea!”

Both of them laughed at Brian’s joke. The laugh was strong; Brian was hurting his stomach from laughing so hard and he could not breathe. Even after the laughing was over, Brian maintained his smile for several seconds later.

“We’re going back into town.”

“What for?”

“Supplies, for one thing. While we have enough food to last us forever, it is grown very slowly. We only take what we need from that supply, putting a little at a time into storage. Meaning we have to spend cash to get most of our food.”

“I could help with that.”

“Later, Brian. You can request the possibility of helping later. There are other reasons as well. We need more than that type of thing, you know. Antibiotics, first aid kits, and other such medical equipment are vital for us to have. We need to restock.”

“Aren’t we on the anti-Kadrane squad, though?”

“Yes. We are. Which is why we’re going to try and sway a few to our cause. If we do not succeed, then we’ll have to steal from a place under Kadrane’s control.”

“Comforting.”

“We stay away from Kadrane hospitals, though. No matter how cruel Kadrane may be, there are innocent people at hospitals that need care.”

“Then what would you raid?”

“Depends. But, in general, banks are our favorite target. With enough money, we can buy pretty much anything.”

“True, very true.”

“That’s why our unit is so busy, though. We have to do all of that. Persuade, steal, and—if need be—kill. We do the dirty work. It just so happens that younger people are better for that job.”

With those words, they joined the rest of the squad. Setting out, the walked to a car, allowing their driver to take them into town. There, the driver stayed behind while the others continued on. Two hours later, they returned with a man and a woman, as well as a few supplies. “New recruits?” the driver asked.

“Yes. They’re doctors. They wish to join us and have brought supplies.”

“Mission completed.”

“Alright, get us out of here.”

“As soon as we’re there, report to our leader and prepare for your next assignment.”

Brian looked at Eros. “You weren’t kidding when you said we don’t get much rest, were you?”

“Nope. We do this kind of thing almost every day.”

The group did several missions before Brian was given a chance to rest. It was fortunate that Brian had been used to little sleep before, but now found it even easier. His energetic spirit always cheered the others up as he prepared for the next mission as soon as he was told.

His sleeping patterns were becoming shorter and shorter. He now found that he only required two hours of sleep a day and could not go for more than four naturally. When he rested, the first good, true break from work in a while, a man approached him. “Sir, what do you want now?”

“Please, just call me Jack. And you should not be calling me ‘Sir’. If anything, it should be the reverse. You have a gift that no other here possesses. If we did not believe in killing, you’d be our ace up our sleeve. You are more of a leader than you dare admit. Not wanting to lose my job, however, I’ll get more serious.

“I was coming to ask if you had explored your power any further.”

“No, I haven’t.”

“Really? Why not?”

“There would be no need. We don’t do any fighting.”

“True. Very true. But what if you were to fight and found your power inadequate? As I recall, we saved you before.”

“I still won that fight.”

“Barely. Anyway, it is rumored that there are four levels of power. Don’t ask where these rumors come from. It took years just to dig them out as even that—rumors. Type one is asking the plants to do your work. You use that a lot, don’t you?”

“Yes. I prefer not to use my other powers. I haven’t explored my powers, yet I have grown stronger. Even so, I am still drained.”

“I see. Moving on, though. Type two is forcing them to do it. Type three is creating plants to serve your purposes. We know these powers exist; you proved it. Calling them ‘types’, however is the legend.”

“That all?”

“No. There’s one more that we dug up. This one goes back two-thousand years, though.”

“That far?”

“Yes. There’s a mythical type four; it is the most powerful of them all, assuming it exists.”

“What is it?”

“Direct communication with the Earth. Everyone who was rumored to do this died later on, which is why it is so risky. It could easily kill you. It could kill our one and only true ace. But I believe to counter Kadrane’s power, which has grown to be almost tyranny, we need that strength. I won’t order you to do it, but look into it, will you?”

“Sure, Jack. I’ll see about it.”

< Message edited by mastin2 -- 8/21/2008 18:12:37 >
Post #: 2
8/21/2008 4:13:05   
mastin2
Member

Chapter Two:
“Contacts”


It had been three months since Brian had joined the EST, as they called themselves, and progress was slow. Or rather, it was going in the wrong direction. Kadrane now was getting close to his objective of ruling the world for personal profit. If he had a force to be reckoned with before, he had his own army then. More and more people were submitting to him, or dieing. Brian’s efforts helped the Environmentalists a great deal, his powers permitting him the ability to help with supplies. Even so, they could only do so much. “‘Sure, I’ll give it a try.’ Why did I ever say that?”

“Technically, I believe your words were ‘Sure, Jack. I’ll see about it’.”

“Same thing.”

“No. One implies that you’re trying. The other implies that you’re—”

“I know, Eros, I know. I joined near the end of the school year. I have aged another year already. It’s been three months, yet things have only been getting worse.”

“Don’t give up, Brian. Keep on trying. At this point, we need something more powerful. I need you to be stronger.”

“…Alright. I’ll keep on going, Eros. For the EST, I will become stronger.”

This leap would prove to be Brian’s smartest move. When attempting to make contact, it would take time; the sooner he was to start, the better. He had been troubled by all of what had been happening around him, but it just motivated him to keep going stronger. Kadrane was already winning. What did he have to lose?

It took another five months. He had been there for two thirds of a year, in which time he became much closer to his friends around him. In a dream, he kept on living those visits. “Brian?”

“I thought I’d drop by, mom.”

“Where on earth have you been, young man!? You left near final exams at school, and now you’re coming back here, late in December? Just before we leave for your grandparent’s house for Christmas?”

“Things have changed, mom. I’m different than before.”

“How so?”

“I can’t explain it, mom. But I am here because it’s near Christmas. I know you were worried. No matter what I have done in the past, you’re still my mother and you still care for me. I know that. Which is why I’ve come back to you for now.”

“And, no, you will not get a Christmas present.”

“Being here is enough of one for me by itself.”

“Come in here, Brian. Can you stay?”

“I can’t go with you. But I can stay with you until you leave.”

“We kept your room as it was.”

“Really?”

“Nobody had the motivation to sort through your trashcan of a bed. That dumpster is too much for anyone to handle.”

They are the same family as they have always been.

“How’s dad?”

“He has received a promotion. Ever since his company was bought by Kadrane Industries, they could only keep the most vital of all employees. Air planes are becoming more and more vital, but the company being bought meant Kadrane’s rules took over.”

“Is he getting better paid?”

“Yes. I hear he once even got the chance to see Kadrane himself!”

“That, I suppose, would be important.”

“Yes. I’ve never been so proud. I admit that I disagree with almost all of Kadrane’s policies, as does he, but still…if Kadrane was willing to meet him, then he must be very important. Since when have you cared about his job?”

“Things change. When I’ve been out of touch…I want to know more.”

“The process works both ways, you know.”

“Ask me tomorrow. I’ll make you breakfast and you can ask whatever you want. We’re family, after all.”

“You, cook?”

“I was terrible, I know. But a good portion of that was laziness on my part. I’ve gotten better. It should be nice.”

“Brian?”

“Yes?”

“Don’t ever do that to me again.”

“I won’t. I won’t. I will leave, like I said, but I will keep in touch more often, I swear.”

I had a bit of a fight with my brother that night as well, if I recall. But it was such a happy time. When I get the chance, I’ll have to visit them again. After tomorrow—Brian’s watch beeped. Midnight. Okay, so, as of now, after later today, I will have time off. My family should be back from their vacation by now.

He fell asleep. But his dreams were not empty. They never were. They were organized. They always were like that. But the thing that filled his dreams—for a split second, he swore he saw an image like none other. A living, breathing image. Almost as if it was a person.

Trying again a night later, he got a stable connection. He didn’t believe it at first. But when meditating, he awoke to blackness. The blackness of his own mind, combined with the presence of another. This figure looked puzzled. He radiated importance and pure power. His knowledge and wisdom seemed great. His style of clothing was terrible. Was this really the person Brian had been trying to contact?

“Brian? You’re contacting me?” The figure questioned. Brian gave him a good look. The man looked about his age, though obviously older. By appearances, he would be at least nineteen. In truth, he would be much older. His voice was higher. His clothing was similar to Brian’s, only green. Emerald eyes stared at Brian, piercing through his body like a gentle dagger.

“The Earth, I presume.”

“That’s me. Though, really, ‘the earth’ is not a good name for an element. I prefer one of the old terms for earth, such as ‘Natur’ as a name. In fact, why don’t you call me Natur, just to make it simpler in what little time you have left to live?”

Brian replied “Sure, why not.” But then the last words hit him. Curious, he asked, “Why do you say ‘in what little time I have left’?”

“Because whenever someone contacts me, the other three elements reject him as siding with me. Most die in storms: tornadoes, firestorms, and such deaths or just drown. But if they manage to live, then they are unable to drink water. If you were to try right now, you would find that every source of water would just bounce away from you as if you were a repellant. They die in an average of three days. You’re doomed now,” Natur sadly explained.

Brian moved around this empty realm, thinking of what he had said. “Has anyone ever tried uniting the elements?”

“No, actually. They just ignore each other. We never get along; it never works out when we try to talk. It would be pointless, so we never try. Anyway, for a human, it would be impossible.”

“What if I were to gather them all up inside of me, so you could unite? If there was one body which shared the elements, wouldn’t they have a united ground?”

“That would be rather impossible. The others won’t listen. No human would be able to live with us all, anyway. Even if you were to agree, you’d never survive.”

“But I’d try anyway! I am fighting a powerful enemy. My current strength can only do so much. I need more help. Just try contacting them. If you don’t try and unite, you will slowly die! Help me fight Kadrane to help you live. For self-preservation. You’re being hit the hardest, but all the elements will be doomed if you do nothing!” Brian shouted at Natur, the anger and determination in his voice.

Natur paused and thinks about it. He stroked his hand through his evergreen hair, trying to come up with a response. Reluctantly, he responded, “Alright. I’ll try. But you must understand, I’m not exactly on friendly terms with the three, as Wind, Water, and Fire all fought over you as well; I just won.

“All people who are capable of receiving gifts from the elements favor one from birth; for you, it was nature. Just because of that, though, it doesn’t mean that I’d always win. I remember several nature-gifted people who we fought over that ended up receiving the blessing of Fire and Wind. The fight for you was one of the most brutal we’ve ever had; I just narrowly managed to give you your gifts.”

“Oh, and tell them that the first to come get first choice on which parts of my body they can use.”

So it had begun. Brian’s true role was beginning to become more obvious. If he was successful, then the elements would unite inside of his body, providing diplomatic relations to the elements. Improved relations, unifying them enough to destroy Kadrane, the wannabe tyrant of the world.

Water came first, asking to be called Mar. Then Wind and Fire came simultaneously, giving the names to be called at the session as Aero and Pyron. Diplomacy was much harder. Brian had never been a good negotiator; the elements argued constantly didn’t help. Shouting at how they had been destroying and using each other throughout the years, constant interruptions; they kept on arguing on and on.

But Brian interrupted, saying, “Is there a way to put some sort of focus on my body that would allow other elements in? You three are simply guests right now…but what if you were to become more than that? To have constant access to me? I said it before, but in your arguing, I assume you forgot—body parts?”

Natur hesitates for a long time, eyeing the other three, before replying, “Yes. There is. The stones of the elements. One Large green polished stone for me. You already have powers over nature, but this makes it stronger and more powerful. Two small blue ones for Mar, and a medium sized stone for both Aero and Pyron, gray and red, respectively. They’ve never been materialized into human flesh. And you will have no control over them.”

“Then put them on my body and teach me how to use them!”

“It will kill you to have all of them on you! One of these could potentially kill a human. We’ve tried. Yes, I know I said we never materialized them into human flesh, but every one of us has tried once in the past—resulting in failure. But all of them at once…it’s pure suicide.”

“I accepted the fact that I could die long ago, and you should know it. Just do it!”

Brian’s dream-like state was broken. Natur and the other elements parted his mind, with their support. “Very well. If you survive the next thirty seconds of your life, then you should be fine. If you can’t bear the power…well, then you die. I hope I’ll see you in a minute.”

With that, he awoke. A sharp pain jolted through his chest, then traveled through his arms and feet. When he finally decided to examine his body, he found that the green stone was on his chest. The two blue ones were on both arms just above the elbows. The red one took his right leg; the grey his left. “Good. You survived that. But I’m a liar.” He saw nothing, but could hear that voice too clearly…

“What does that mean?”

“There’s worse to come.”




Part Two:

“You have a sick sense of humor, you know.”

“Technically, they can still be removed. Before the activation process, they remain powerless. All they give you know is a much clearer image of us, the elements.”

Natur was right; he could see all the elements, though a little blurred. Though Brian wasn’t particularly interested in a more detailed version of the rules, he forced himself to listen to Natur’s ramble.

“For a short time, the stones will always be visible. You’ll stand out for a while; there’s nothing you can do about that.”

“Oh, great!”

“Look on the bright side: it will be painfully obvious that you will have succeeded in becoming more powerful.”

“Thanks for the comforting thought.”

“Moving on, now. They will eventually disappear into your body. However, when you use their power, they will appear. When you stop using your power, they will again disappear.

“After that, the joint that that stone is on will change colors to that of the stone, but the stones themselves will not be visible.”

“That seems worse!”

“With the amount of clothes you wear, who’s going to notice?”

Brian hesitated. “You got me there.”

“Precisely. After that, the skin color will become normal, though change when you use your powers. Eventually, you will have complete control over all of them and there will be no side effects. You will be able to use the full extent of the elements. This process could take years, though.”

“Adjusting time?”

“That, and the fact that every human reacts differently. All we have to do is activate the process, and hope you survive. This will be your last chance to back out, you know, Brian. After we activate them…the pain will be a hundred fold worse than before. It would be an extremely nasty way to die.”

“Do it.”

The stones glowed. The emerald pulsed brightly. The sapphires’ glows swirled around the air. The ruby exploded in its bright light. Slowly, they began to merge with Brian. They were ingesting intense pain.

It was a trial. The pain in Brian’s body was immense. His heart rate slowed to a dangerously low pace. He could barely breathe. The pressure was intense. A hundred thousand tons of weight seemed to be pummeling him. He could feel the shock. The agonizing pain as the stone began rooting itself into his chest.

His arms were jolting uncontrollably. The pain there was equally intense; in some ways, it was better, yet in others, much, much worse. It was evenly distributed throughout his arms. He couldn’t move them; their actions were uncontrollable. He could feel how his muscles were seemingly collapsing in on themselves and then imploding back out.

His legs kept on kicking at the ground. His right twisted and turned in ways that would normally break another’s bones instantly. The burning pain was scorching his skin. His blood was boiling. His left was flinging every direction in the air. He could feel the wind ripping at the surface of his skin.

Agonizing hour after hour passed. But Brian survived. For no other reason than stubbornness, he endured the pain. While he did wish to also do it to save them all, his refusal to give up was actually what drove him to do this. If he succeeded, nothing would be as painful to him in the future. At least, not physically.

Brian didn’t even scream as his body was beginning to fall apart. Eventually, the process ended and he could then clearly see every element. Natur, Aero, Mar, and Pyron. Now, hope existed, and Brian has a weapon against Kadrane himself...Unity.

As long as I can keep the elements united, then we have hope. As long as I live, there will be hope. I refuse to let Kadrane win. It will never happen. Things will only get worse from here on…but…heh, heh, I believe that quote was, ‘The night is always darkest before the dawn’. I am going to do everything in my power to make sure dawn comes.

Brian emerged from his room. It was morning; everyone was already up by now. Those in his squad were staring at him. “You seem different, Brian.” Physically, it needed not be said. However, Brian also seemed changed mentally. Eros’s comment was one of genuine concern at the time.

Brian smiled, pushing away the concern. He had not said anything yet, but Eros got the message: ‘I am fine.’ A short silence followed, but Brian broke the quiet hallway with his words of thought. “I’ve just been thinking…Kadrane has been using propaganda to defeat us all this time. He claims he is out to do good for the common people, but in reality just wants the money and power.

“He views us as nothing but rebels and our peaceful methods that only counter his movements are only quickening his goals. I finally succeeded, Eros; I have become much stronger. I think we need to do some campaigning of our own. Not secretly draining a few members out of cities. I mean a massive change. Not military action, but we need to do more.”

“I agree. I’d say speak to Jack, but we all know his condition is too terrible to respond. He’ll get better eventually, but not for a while.” Jack had become ill after a mission that he had led personally. Members suspected interference from Kadrane, but Jack insisted that it would not be so; Kadrane would take greater measures, maybe even an assassin. Worried that he would not recover, he had handed over leadership to one of Brian’s closest friends, Dallas. It was supposed to be temporary.

Now, Dallas had been considering taking more aggressive actions. He had tried to convince Jack to take a much more offensive approach, as they were loosing…much worse than ever before. But Jack, at the time, had denied the request.

“We’ll speak to Dallas then. He’ll listen to us; he should understand. He’s about our age and has about the same amount of experience.” By now, Brian was half way to his sixteenth birthday. Dallas was just about the same age, giving or taking a few months, though which is unclear because of the bad records.

They did approach Dallas, and he agreed, but understood how Jack felt and still forbade lethal force. Things were slowly going a little to their side. Missions went slightly better, but encounters were frequent; several times, violent action was needed. Without lethal force, some members of the team died.

Another seven months passed. Jack had regained his life and Dallas handed leadership back to Jack. Brian was sixteen. He still wasn’t happy about the fact that he had yet to learn how to drive, but he was too busy to even try. The violence continued.

Brian had used these not-so-rare violent occasions to test his new powers and he constantly communicated with the four elements for advice every time. For him, he had basically five minds working towards a common goal, though he occasionally had to break up fights.

It was then that it happened. On that faithful August day, things would change forever. Nothing would be the same. That was the day…where a close ally would die.

Jack was accompanying Brian on a conversion mission. They were going to a town roughly ten miles away. They would work their miracles, spread the truth about Kadrane, and try to convince the people there to come with them and help. Many missions of a similar nature had been planned and succeeded before; the population had reached the thousands. The thing that made Jack necessary on this mission was that this town had seen Kadrane himself and been seduced by his power.

Even so, they were a small village. There was no cause for concern. Brian was testing his powers again. He had not progressed far; the stones had disappeared. But they were still clearly visible when he was using his powers. Every spare second where he was sure there was no danger, he used for practicing.

Jack went out to speak to the audience. By now, he knew they had his attention. They, at least, were curious to what Jack had to say. Whether they were interested in joining, however, was another matter. They still were loyal to Kadrane. Jack was there to convince them that they would risk their lives for the villagers.

“My name is Jack. I put my life on the line every day by opposing Kadrane. I must admit, I do not retreat out of our fortress very often. I am a target. Kadrane wants me dead; I could be a thorn in his side. Every member is willing to risk their lives for our cause…but more importantly, every member here is willing to risk their lives for each other. Most importantly of all, we are all willing to risk our lives to protect the innocent.

“Can Kadrane say the same? Does he risk his life, just to save you? Quite the opposite. I have seen with my own eyes how he once massacred an entire village because he suspected that there was a rebel base in there. They were innocent…they had nothing to do with it. But he killed them anyway.

“I am not just any member, either. Kadrane is the head of his company. He will come out here to visit, yes…but will he risk his life for even an investment he had made? No. If he won’t risk his life for his money, what makes you think that he’d risk his life for any other? I, however, am his opposite. I would die for you. I am the leader of our cause—”

A shout broke out from the crowd. They all dashed to the scene. A lone man stood, holding a pistol in his hand. He was not aiming for any member of the resistance. He was aiming at a young woman in the crowd. Brian tried to get there first. Jack beat him to it. A shot rang out, echoing for miles.

Jack had intercepted the bullet. He was hit in the chest. He had just recently recovered from what had made him sick; a blow like that should have killed him right there. He refused to die, though; he grabbed the weapon from the assassin before passing out.

Brian could not control his rage. Despite his orders not to kill anyone, he could not hold back against the would-be killer. He hadn’t mastered his elemental powers. But it didn’t matter. Pure rage drove him forward, channeling his hatred into his hands. With a mighty push, he set the assassin ablaze.

“Is this proof enough for you? Is it? Jack had just recovered. He had been ill for quite some time. Only recently could he lead us again. Even in his weak condition, he chose to come here today to speak to you. He did not have to, but he did. He took a bullet for that woman. He could die from that wound. Is this the act of an enemy? Is this the act of a terrorist? No! This is the act of a good man; a good friend.”

The villagers were convinced. Not a single one of them did not head back with Brian. Jack was alive. When they had reached their home, the best of the best doctors tried everything. Healers of all types tried. More than a few prayers were said in Jack’s name. Even Brian tried to heal Jack.

They had healed most of the damage. But the bullet had contained a nasty surprise. Bacteria of at least a dozen kinds had taken root in Jack’s system. Viruses had been unleashed to wreck havoc to his body. Even a few poisons could be found. Brian and the others had helped with most…but they could only do so much.

Jack lived for a while. Another year had passed and he still was able to lead his people. Shortly afterwards, though, he fell victim to what had happened earlier. He slipped into unconsciousness at the beginning of September. He died early in January. Dallas was again made the leader. He did not think himself ready; he, like Brian, was only seventeen. To lead a people at such a young age would put pressure on him for decisions.

But he was angry. They all were. Kadrane had taken the life of a dear friend. Brian had come to nearly master his powers, though he was still only half-way through his transformation. Even with his strength, he was unable to beat Kadrane over the fight with Jack.

“Brian?”

“Yes, Sir?”

“This is an order: Make Kadrane pay for what he has done.”

“Sir?”

“Kill him. Kill Kadrane. Kill anyone who gets in your way.”

“You mean?”

“Yes. Jack may have opposed it. In his memory, we should continue on the way we had before. But we cannot do that anymore. He has won another victory. We cannot allow that anymore.”

“So…”

“Yes. Use of lethal force is authorized. Kill them all, Brian. We are going to bring Kadrane Industries down.”

< Message edited by mastin2 -- 8/21/2008 18:13:20 >
Post #: 3
8/21/2008 4:14:56   
mastin2
Member

Chapter Three:
“War”


Brian was staring at a picture of Jack in his room. Since his death, things had been different. Already, members were preparing weapons. With this, he predicted, missions would soon become more violent.

“Jack…”

“It’s only been two days, Brian. We already miss him so much. Sorry if I intruded.”

“You, Eros? Never. You are always welcome in here. But I can’t help but feel like we’re all forgetting about him by doing this. We’re all missing him, yet—at the same time—we are pushing him away forever.”

“He knew this was coming, Brian. He refused to admit it, but he knew it was only a matter of time. He wanted to hold onto the peace for as long as possible. But he was preparing us for the worst.”

“What?”

“Dallas authorized more aggressive actions when Jack was sick. When Jack recovered, he did not forbid those actions. If he truly was not willing to accept that this was coming, then he would have changed the rules back.”

“I see. He was preparing us all that time, wasn’t he?”

“Yes. And I think that he also had prepared for his death as well.”

“Thank you, Eros. That helps me a lot.”

Brian took another long look at the portrait of his departed friend. “You know, in all of the time that I knew him, I don’t think I ever really looked at him. I wish I could have spent more time with him.”

“We all do. But we were all so busy. And some things in life…you never realize how much you appreciate them until they are gone. Once gone, you wish you would spend more time with what you lost.”

“I know, but…I think I never actually looked at his face.”

“What do you mean?”

“I viewed him as my leader. I think that I was always looking down at him.”

“It was your way of showing respect.”

“How so?”

“He was only a little taller than you at six five. Yet you never stared at his eyes. By doing so, you were showing how he was your superior. You did it as a sign of respect, a sign of friendship.”

“That helps. Again, thank you, Eros.”

“Have you checked with your family?”

“They’re doing well, actually.”

“That is good to hear.”

“They helped me get through this. I think that I cried all of last night at my family’s house. Along with the elements, they comforted me. I think I nearly lost it.”

“As long as you have friends and family, Brian, we can endure.”

“Your words have always comforted me, Eros. If not for you, I am not sure even I could maintain hope. I am truly grateful for your words.”

Brian shifted his gaze to Eros. He smiled when he saw those sapphire eyes. In turn, Eros smiled as well. The smile was maintained for several seconds, before they both got up. “We should get ready.”

“Did Dallas tell you what our mission is?”

“We’ll be heading for the coast.”

“It’s been ten years since I’ve seen the pacific. What is so vital?”

“Kadrane has an offshore base there. Our job is to take what we can and destroy it when we are finished.”

“There are no civilians, right?”

“None. Don’t worry, Brian, we are sure. All the people on that base are some of Kadrane’s worse. Every person there is a soldier. I don’t think even a single one of them would be sympathetic to our cause. They are all there to kill intruders. This will be our message to Kadrane that we are done just sitting by and watching him—”

“And that we are here to fight.”

“Precisely.”

“This will be our declaration of war. Let’s make it glorious. I will practice a little extra on my water powers to make sure.”

The drive took hours. A small force of thirty had been chosen. They ranged in specialties; there were weapons experts, explosives experts, ex-marines, oceanographers, geologists, doctors, and spies. They had been chosen because they were the best of the best for a mission of this nature.

They were there to destroy. Once there, they loaded onto several small boats. Kadrane’s little marine base was a mile out. The boat ride took a while. All of them stopped after coming close to the base, though. “There are guards nearby. We don’t want to give ourselves away just yet. We need a scout.” Brian had ended up in the same boat the mission leader was in; he listened for his orders.

“Scuba equipment?”

“Unfortunately, no. Brian, Eros tells me that you’ve been experimenting with your powers some more…”

“You mean…”

“Ha, ha…you are correct. Go scout ahead a little.”

Brian isolates himself for a quick chat with the elements. “What good will you do on the surface?”

“I’m not planning to stay on the surface.”

“Submerge?”

“What else?”

“You’ll be going possibly hundreds of feet deep into the water! No equipment, whatsoever! You won’t be able to breathe…”

“That’s where Mar comes in. Theoretically, I could do it, right?”

“Yes. Pyron should keep you warm and you should adjust to the water pressure fairly quickly. You, theoretically, can breathe underwater…but that usually requires complete mastery of your power. You have gotten closer, but aren’t there yet.”

“I’ll still do it.”

“Anyway, if you can’t breathe, Aero can always save you.”

“Alright, sir, I’ll do it.”

“Good luck, Brian. If you encounter anyone, just come back. We need you to scout out how many people they have there.”

Brian dove into the waters below. He didn’t even feel a thing. He was breathing normally. He was gliding through the water as if it were air. He dived deeper. Even at the depths he was at, he felt noting. “So far, so good, eh?”

“Your ability to strain your powers amuses me, Brian.”

“How so?”

“You are actively using your powers every second. You barely got the stones to disappear before. At most, you had made them barely visible when using your powers. Look at your arms.”

Brian looked. The blue stones were twice the size that they had been when they first were put into his body. He cursed at himself; after he was done, they would not fully disappear.

“So I might strain my powers a LITTLE.”

“Well, you can’t blame me when you get yourself killed from straining yourself.”

Brian ignored the conversation and continued on. If they have any underwater surveillance here, I will stick out.

An alarm sounded. A red flash in the water signaled that he had been spotted. He didn’t alter course. “Brian? I recall something about you heading back…”

“Oh, they know that I’ll be fine. The alarm means that most of their attention will be focused on me—I’m now a distraction.”

“I see. And when the distraction is killed, then they’ll go after the main force.”

“I’m not dead yet, you know.”

“Yea, well, they’ve got a small army launching towards you. A submarine and about thirty men are heading towards you. They’ve got fancy weapons, too!”

“How do you know that?”

“Fish. There are fish nearby. Fish fall under my control, not Mar’s.”

“Right. So how dangerous are they?”

“Harpoons, fancy weapons that I haven’t seen, maybe guns that function underwater.”

“Anything that I could use?”

“No life nearby could be manipulated. At least, not to help you. You can’t use your nature powers, either, since this is saltwater.”

“This is the ocean…surely there’s something…sharks, large fish, huge seaweed…something!”

“There are some sharks nearby, but they are out of your range. You can’t communicate with them and I can’t give them a nudge in the right direction.”

“That’s all I need to know.”

Brian smiled; he had formed a plan. Humans instinctively fear sharks. There were fish nearby. Previous experience had told him all he needed to know to get the advantage he needed.

“Hey, you?”

“Who’s speaking to us?”

“Me, Brian. You might not have heard of me, but I’m—”

“Brian? W-What a—What can we do for you?”

“There are some sharks out of range of my communication. I need you to deliver a message to them.”

“But…we’ll be eaten!”

“You knew of my name; they will as well. If I’ve called for them, they know I need them. Please, go, now!”

“Alright, Brian. Just tell us what to say.”

He sent his message. He continued swimming towards the men. “Natur, about how long will it take for the sharks to get here?”

“About five minutes for the fish to reach them and another five to ten for them to make their way to you.”

“I’m going to need to get them here a little faster. Can’t you give them a little nudge?”

“I’ll try, but I don’t have absolute power over them.”

“Anything will do.”

“I’ll give the sharks and fish favorable currents both ways. It should speed them up a bit.”

“Alright, new estimate to how long?”

“About seven minutes. I won’t lie to you by saying more, nor will I say less. It could be ten; it could be four.”

“It will just have to do.”

“So, Brian, what do you do while you’re waiting? Prepare your funeral?”

“Ha, ha…just watch and learn…”




Part Two:

On the surface, the mission was going well. Brian had distracted their forces; the infiltrators could get in with the greatest ease. Waves rippled at the boats as they steadily headed towards the fortress.

Eros took the chance to smell the night air. The fresh scent of the seawater washed across her face in a cool, soothing breeze. She was happy to take every distraction she could, every sight around her.

The night ocean was heavenly. She could have lost herself at any time. Her black hair swayed in the wind as her craft rushed forward, destined for the fort in two minutes. She stared at the blue body of water that had engulfed her friend not too long ago; the boat’s current created wave after wave, disrupting the surface.

She looked up at the night sky. The black night was truly a sight to see. The millions of little lights, dancing around her. The moon was nearly full. The bright light risked exposing them, but they were fortunate to have clouds coming in. Those few clouds would give them the cover they needed; in seconds, the moonlight had faded due to the dark blankets above.

A brilliant orange light flashed from below. And then, a large white one. Shockwaves riddled the surface and risked capsizing their boat. The boat swayed violently, being tossed to one side and another. Still, it moved on.

“W-What WAS that?” the squad leader asked, shaken by the sudden power. Several smaller explosions were still coming up. A few air bubbles risked destroying their craft for nearly the dozenth time.

“Oh, that?”

“Yea, that! Are they attacking us? A little more of that and we won’t make it!”

“Kadrane’s men might have bad aim—but they’re not that bad of shots.”

“Then who could cause that?”

“Who else?”

Eros cocked a gun in her hand. “I may be primarily a medic, but I’m also the best shot we’ve got. I was assigned to this team for that reason. There’s only one person here who is better than me.”

“You mean…”

“Yup. Brian is having some fun down there. He’ll be joining us in about five minutes.”




Brian had approached the submarine. He knew what he was planning would definitely kill all of those inside, possibly all around him…including himself. “Brian, why are you heading towards the submarine?”

“I plan to blow it up.”

“WHAT? Okay, I know that you are insane…but that…that’s too crazy, even for YOU!”

“Why do you say that, Natur?”

“They will fire at you. You can’t move that fast underwater; their weapons will hit you far before you can dodge. Even if you could, a coordinated assault would leave you at a disadvantage.”

“I’ll use my elemental powers.”

“To do what, exactly?”

“Intense heat and air underwater…that’s asking for trouble.”

“I see. You plan to create a shockwave, don’t you? You do know that shockwave works both ways, right?”

“Not one that I create.”

“Yes, but the submarine when it explodes will be a much larger boom—and one you aren’t in control of. A little explosion through the water can kill a human, Brian…a large one like that…”

“I’ll manage.”

It took him a few tries, but he managed to get to the submarine. A sharp burst of pain in his right leg told him he was not unscathed, though. “I was hit!”

“Well, the sharks will want to get here more quickly, now!”

“Oh, shut up…”

Brian held his hands over the top of the submarine. Just a few more minutes, now. Pouring all of his strength into the metal below, he blasted it. Luck favored him; he got a chain reaction. The submarine imploded, ripped to shreds by his attack. The shockwaves traveled through the water, decimating Kadrane’s men…and Brian.

“You idiot…you just got yourself killed.”

“Natur, stop being so negative.”

“We can still feel that he’s alive, yes…but that was something that he could never survive with his current power level.”

Brian was shaken by the explosion. He cascaded his powers into himself, trying to preserve his vital systems. The blast hit him harder than any other. It pounded at his chest, delivering a massive force. It vibrated through his body, ripping apart his barriers.

His fire tried to nullify the explosion. His water power tried to stop the advancement. His wind powers were busy keeping him alive. His earth powers were trying to heal the damage…but all were failing. The stones on his body glowed…then vibrated. They grew in size. It still wasn’t enough.

He was taxing his body—but it wasn’t going to save him. He was slowly being killed. He could feel the blood pouring out of his system. The leg wound was nothing now. The vibration was destroying him.

But he refused to give in; he pushed and pushed harder. He clung onto life. The stones glowed so brightly that the light nearly reached the surface. They began pulling things around him in. He kept on pushing and pulling.

He kept on surviving. The stones changed size again—but this time, they got smaller. “They’re getting smaller! He’s going to die!”

“Natur, stop panicking.”

“It’s in my nature.”

“Ha, ha…that pun was dead a thousand years ago, Natur. Stop worrying.”

“I can’t. Brian’s the closest to me, right now.”

“I know. But what’s the big deal?”

“I can’t hear him. None of us can. He usually is here at least subconsciously. But not now. We can barely see him; he is a blur. The connection hasn’t been this weak in a long time. That’s reason enough to be worried for me.”

The stones got smaller. They were barely visible. Brian’s heart stopped. His lungs were not functioning. He was bleeding internally fairly badly. He was seconds from death. The stones disappeared.

“Brian, don’t die!”

The calls seemed futile. “Brian!”

But then, there was one last push. Brian’s arms pulsed a bright blue. Brian’s right leg shined crimson—but not of blood. Brian’s left leg shined in the water as if it was a living, bright metal. He smiled. Another push. A shockwave blasted out from his body, aimed at the remaining troops. A third of them had perished when the submarine exploded. Of the two thirds remaining, half were killed by Brian’s new power.

“Didn’t think I’d let myself die that easily, did you?”

Aero spoke up. “Desperate times call for desperate measures, I see.”

“Yes. That pretty much explains it.”

“You needed more power, so you jumped that far out of desperation? You achieved the next stage already! I must say, I am impressed, Brian.”

“More than that. I’ve nearly mastered it already. Still think putting the stones in me was a bad idea, Natur?”

“I recognize when I am wrong. Unlike some other people I know.”

Natur stared at Pyron for a second, then Brian. “Don’t start a fight with Pyron, Natur. I’m not in the mood right now to play arbiter. But, yes, I admit that I never admit that I’m wrong.”

“Alright, get back to the matter at hand: there are still a dozen guards left. They are shocked, maybe a little frightened, but they’ll overcome it and attack—”

“They may be frightened now…but they are about to find themselves much more afraid now…”

“What?”

“It’s been nearly seven minutes.”

The sharks rushed in. There were a few different kinds of different sizes, but the numbers were the most important of all. One shark would have been plenty. Nearly a dozen would accomplish Brian’s goal.

The men panic. They lose all their interest in Brian; a few flee and the rest begin shooting at the sharks. “Sorry to ask this of you; your lives are being endangered to help me.”

“No problem, Brian. We always have to live with the danger, anyways. Shark hunting isn’t as common as it used to be…but it’s still a problem. If we can help you…then we will have helped stop this.”

“I hope I don’t disappoint you.”

Brian rushed forward, allowing the water to push him at unnatural speeds. He intercepted those that had fled and simply sent a small shockwave at them. They died within seconds. Brian continued to work at dispatching the soldiers; within a minute, they were dead. He again thanked the sharks and fish and surfaced at the station to find the team already aboard.

“How much of their forces do you think are left?”

“Minimal. Kadrane’s current strategy is to send everything he’s got at the first thread he sees—you. I assume you dispatched of them all?”

Brian took a flame to his clothes and began drying them off. “Yup.”

“Nice display of submerged fireworks, by the way.”

“You saw that?”

“Hard to miss a giant explosion that nearly swamped our boats. Be more careful next time, ‘kay?”

“I’ll try, Eros.”

They continued to the center of the station. Explosives were set. They had encountered only a few staff at the station on their way; they encountered no resistance on the return trip. As soon as they were a safe distance away, the detonators were pressed. They sailed off with a trail of red, orange, and yellow slowly disappearing behind them.

They reached their home by noon of that same day. Brian was chosen last for the debriefing, this time personally with Dallas. It was over in minutes; Brian relayed the events well. Busy as they were, however, they took the time to chat.

Brian had mentioning to him how he regrets that about now he would normally be learning to drive a car. They had a few laughs, though they both knew Brian was happy enough that he was getting educated at all. After the interview, he plopped down into his bed for a short rest. Even if I did not know it, this is just what I wanted. Those words always mean bad news…

< Message edited by mastin2 -- 8/21/2008 18:14:07 >
Post #: 4
8/21/2008 4:17:51   
mastin2
Member

Chapter Four:
“Devil’s Saint Day”


The missions continued to go well. The public had some sympathy for their cause; their war was looking more like terrorist acts, but they still helped people. Around the world, they had as many as a hundred thousand members or supporters.

Brian continued to grow in power. He no longer required a source of heat, nor required water. He could be out on the field for up to a hundred hours before needing to take a few hours’ rest, so he was basically a perfect soldier. Another two years had passed. Brian had fully mastered his powers, in half the time expected.

He rested at his quarters one day when he realized that he had been doing better than any other member. “I’ve always known that I was the ace up our sleeve, but until now…I never really thought of the fact that I’ve probably helped our cause more than any other.”

“You just now realized that?”

“Yea. I guess I never really thought much about it. Too busy.”

He drew support to the EST cause, helping the common people more than Kadrane ever could. His powers helped people get food when they could not afford it. He was an expert at making alternate fuel sources to prevent the monopoly Kadrane held on the normal fuel people used.

He, since the elements inside of him were always in conflict, was an expert at breaking up fights, so disputes were always settled when he was around. Brian was really the hope that the people desired. Kadrane had learned to fear them; he had been losing for the first time ever. Desperate, he had recruited an army of thousands. The thought of Kadrane’s suffering made Brian gleeful.

But one thing had been bothering him. Plagues and diseases had been spreading throughout the land more commonly than before. They had claimed the lives of quite a few members; Brian had even lost two old friends to these outbreaks. He couldn’t cure them.

Yet Kadrane could. This thought had been what Brian had been pondering. He correctly suspected Kadrane had actually made these, but he had not found a way to counter them. “Kadrane is playing dirty. The second he begins to lose, he attacks the innocent with a virus that even I cannot take care of with my fully mastered powers. That’s a dirty secret weapon.”

“Don’t worry, Brian; you’ll find a way to counter it.”

“I’m not so sure. I’d need the original virus to give me an idea, or better yet, the antivirus.”

Brian had his reasons for being desperate. Dallas was beginning to show some symptoms of the virus. He would have to act fast to save his friend, his leader. Not only that, but Kadrane would not be losing for long if the virus would spread farther.

Though his own family was bothering him more. They had somehow managed to evade the viruses, and Kadrane’s men, despite being so close to the EST. His father’s position was good cover and was one of the highest positions available. Even so, Brian was worried that Kadrane would begin infecting his own men. Though the plants and animals nearby the house assured that nothing was wrong, Brian still couldn’t help but think.

“Don’t work too hard on it, Brian. You may be able to strain yourself physically, but mentally, you are still human. No offense intended, but you’re still fairly young.”

“Nineteen and counting. I feel at least a year older, though, because of all I’ve been through. I can handle it.”

“So much has changed…”

“I know. I am getting stronger. My will to fight, my resolve…I also feel a lot stronger physically than I was before.”

“Not hard to do.”

“What do you mean by that?”

“From what I heard, you could barely lift a sixteen pound weight more than twenty times without exhausting yourself.”

“I suppose you’re right.”

“Ever tried testing your strength?”

“A little. I can lift at least seventy, though I feel like I could do much more. I think merging with the elements improved my strength.”

“Or your stubbornness, or your endurance.”

“Natur makes a point. With you, Brian, is there any difference?”

“Oh, shut up, Mar.”

“We really are quite impressed with you, though, Brian. You now hardly need to rely on us to do your work.”

Brian ‘walked’ back and fourth. In reality, he was hovering a few inches above the ground—with complete mastery of his wind powers, he could practically fly. He still missed the feeling of walking, though, so would ‘walk’ in the air.

Eventually, he left to see Eros. “Well, doctor, you wanted to see me?”

“I’m not a doctor yet, Brian,” Eros laughed. “That’ll take a while. But thank you for the compliment. I’m going to do a mandatory health examination of you, just to see if you’re nor—err, alright.”

“Nearly called me ‘normal’, didn’t you? Good think you caught yourself.”

Eros did a few tests and took a sample of Brian’s blood. “Well, tomorrow’s ‘Saint Kadrane Day’.”

“This soon?”

“Every August fifth.”

“No missions, I’d assume.”

“Dallas’s last order says otherwise. While he will be able to give us orders for a while, he won’t wake again ‘til after we will have left for the mission.”

“Too bad. Well, orders are orders. I just dislike going out on that cursed day. How many years in a row has something extremely bad happened that day?”

“Three, I think. Jack getting wounded, Kadrane’s new army policy, I don’t remember any others.”

“I hope we break the cycle.”

“We all do. You’re free to go, Brian.”

“Nah, I’ve still got something to do…your charm is a month old, isn’t it?”

“Why do you insist on us using those silly things?”

“It’s only when we’re not undercover. Half of our missions are undercover, now, so you don’t have to complain that often.”

“Sometimes I wish you hadn’t mastered your powers.”

“What does that mean?”

“Your blasted charms; THAT is what!”

With full mastery of nature, Brian had also become quite skilled at charms. Charms existed for every element and required no elemental power to use—so long as the charmer has enough skill to do it. Brian had even taught a few others how to do it, but remained the best.

While he primarily used nature charms, Brian had developed uses for the other three elemental charms. He could use them for anything: a quick meal out of nowhere, an instant fire, and gliding. Most important of all, however, were his tube charms—simple tubes filled with his elemental power. One red, one blue, and one green. Each contained a powerful blast of their respective elements, though he still hadn’t found a use for the wind.

Those containers he spread to his closest friends and allies. They could be used any time. Instant growth of a plant, instant explosion of heat, instant blast of water, and best of all: they could be combined. On more than one occasion, they had been used to save a friend’s life.

But one charm was something he had insisted on and even managed to con Dallas into making mandatory:

When not undercover, he would enchant each member with a piece of paper strapped to their boots that minimized their damage to the ground around them. It was meant to allow members smoother travel through nature without causing any harm.

Eros had, at first, questioned this. It just seemed…silly. But Brian defended it at the time, stating, “Do you like damaging the grass every time you walk through it? How about every time you step on the rocks? I doubt the plants feel good when you step on them. The pattern is an ancient spell I learned to help.”

From that point on, everyone wore them. Eros accepted them first after the point was made. But they only lasted so long. Every once and a while, depending on how active the member was in the field, they would need to be powered again. Even to Eros, this was an annoyance. Working every day in nature, they lasted a top of one month. At least it would help them in the field.

Brian took out a fresh seal. He drew a diagonal slash down and to the left, then switched directions to the right. Stopping, he positioned the pen a few inches below the start of the second slash. He slashed again, changing directions at the same point and angled it to be identical to the first slash.

“I just now realized how much that looks like an S with no curves.”

“It’s not. It’s divided into the two sections. It took me forever to find this pattern and make it work.”

“Alright, are we done?”

“Yes. But there’s one last thing…”

“What?”

“Are we still going to the lake this afternoon?”

“I’ll be there. Wouldn’t want to miss my lunch that you made for me.”

Brian, of course, sometimes regretted not being normal…he couldn’t eat, nor drink, so meals meant nothing to him. He couldn’t enjoy a simple meal with those he cherished most. Even so, he still participated in meals and sat down to chat.

His wounds healed unnaturally fast and he never got sick, so any trips to a doctor were unnecessary. Eros had managed to sucker him into the mandatory health examinations every time he acquired a new level of power. He went willingly every time.

His perfect health also was disturbing him because the majority of members were getting sick. He could help cure most cases, but in the few cases that were Kadrane-related, he could do nothing.

He required no heat, so gatherings by fires were no longer required. Despite that, he went for every little campout the groups had. He couldn’t enjoy the sweet s’mores, nor did he have to live with the occasional mosquito biting him. But at least he was with his friends during those occasions. In the many years he had been there, he had grown very close to his friends…especially Eros.

He was awake when most others were asleep. He disliked roaming the hallways alone. At least it gave him time to practice. During those times, he could do anything. Mostly, he thought. But he could practice as well. But it was the mornings he enjoyed the most. Mornings like what he was experiencing now. The fresh air, the people waking up…he enjoyed them all.

He had no missions and nothing to do until the afternoon with Eros. “You should practice your swordsmanship, Brian. You’re getting rusty, after practicing too hard on your mastering of the elements and those charms.”

“Good idea!”

He summoned a blade made of entwined vines and swung it. “Nice design. But it doesn’t exactly have an edge.”

“Yes, right now, it is good for mainly piercing. But I’m not done yet.”

He decided to light the edge on fire. The blade wasn’t burning; he was controlling every aspect of it. The vines’ strength could easily take a bullet, but still were not sharp. To fix this, he added water in the middle to strengthen the vine-blade, and keep the fire under further control.

“I still don’t see a blade.”

“The vines are super-strong, now; have patience and watch.”

“I’ve seen it before, you know. I just think that you should skip making it take this long every time.”

“Quality over quantity, Natur.”

“Why don’t you just make it a permanent blade?”

Brian paused. “I hadn’t thought of that.”

“Well, finish the blade first.”

The last step was to add wind to the whole blade, adding to the cutting strength and fueling the fire. The wind would slice his foes. The fire would burn them. But even so, he needed more. He directed all of the elements into the blade for just a second…and then, several strands seemed to stick out just a few inches. Just a few inches, however, would be enough to make them separate from the body of the blade. As a finishing touch, a few razor-sharp leaves sprouted from the strands.

“By appearance, it still looks like it is nothing but a sword good for nothing but stabbing. By appearances, the swing would be nothing but brute force, similar to holding a baseball bat backwards. In reality, this little thing can cut through nearly anything.”

“The leaves are a nice touch. I haven’t seen you add them before.”

“That’s not all—before, the strands focused the wind and fire to cut things. What if my elemental powers were nullified? Now, they are sharper and can cut by themselves. The elements triple this strength.”

“She’s a beauty, alright. Now go practice. It’s been a week already.”

This, by now, was his favorite method of attacking, as he was a fairly good swordsman. He gave it a good swing and began practicing. He went to the training range for some opponents. This went on for a few more hours.

He left for the afternoon to be with Eros. The two spent a long time at the nearest lake, heading back when the night was approaching. Brian smiled and departed from Eros, heading to their separate sleeping quarters.

“Pondering Kadrane again, Brian?”

Brian was also getting a little disturbed with something else, though; his ability to communicate with nature itself had been diminishing. He could still do everything involving his powers…but actually speaking to the plants and animals was becoming harder.

“Wait—this is different, isn’t it? Oh, I see. It’s that, isn’t it? When you became this powerful, you knew that you might lose some of your favorite abilities and luxuries.” Natur sadly reminds Brian, as he practices some basic footwork.

“I know, I know. My human mind is shutting that ability out.”

“Actually, I think it could be something different.”

“What do you mean?”

“I hope I’m wrong, but this kind of thing could happen when one of three things happens.”

“What?”

“The first and least likely is that another is naturally becoming gifted with the powers of nature without my help. When this happens, the older user begins to lose touch.”

“That doesn’t sound too bad.”

“But it’s not likely to happen. I don’t think this is the case. The other two are complete opposites. One, I hope for, but in truth, the possibility of the other is equally as high; for that reason, I hope I am wrong.”

“What are the other two?”

“When either a really, really happy event will come…or a terrible tragedy. I do hope I am wrong.”

“Tomorrow, we’re going to another village that was once a city. It shouldn’t be that hard to convince them to join our cause. The day is cursed; this could happen any time, right?”

“Within a year, yes.”

“I agree with you; I hope you’re wrong. It is best not to think of such things. I have a mission tomorrow; I need to prepare. It could be dangerous…but what can I do about it?”

“Even so, be careful, Brian. I still sense something…different… approaching, so be careful!” Natur warned. He was even backed up by the other three.

Aero stated, “The wind around this area seems full of a bad wind. The kind of thing that means death.”

Pyron warned, “I sense some sort of artificial fire, and it can not be good. Burning. Pain. Death.” Mar simply nodded in agreement, since he couldn’t find anything unusual about the water, but did sense something unusual about this mission.

“This could be a disaster, Brian; watch yourself.”

“Alright, I’ll be careful.”




Part Two:

When the next morning came, Brian assembled his unit. In two years, those that had been his superiors had either died, retired, or moved onto other areas. Because of his skills, he was made leader of his particular squad, consisting of Eros, a good friend of his named KC, and a dozen others.

“Standard procedure, except we’re going to level two on Kadrane guard,” Brian ordered as the unit ‘geared up’.

“Level two?”

“Yea. Level two. We need to take precautions.”

They had seen too much death recently, and now all carried weapons assembled completely naturally. Their gear might not have been as good as their opponent’s, but they had their advantages.

“Level two: Kadrane will most likely be visiting the area soon. Shoot any suspicious people on site.”

“And be careful not to show yourself too much in public, except for at our destination,” Eros added.

It was a good precaution. ‘Most wanted’ posters containing EST members’ names on them were becoming more frequent. Brian decided to actually join the group as they ate at the banquet hall. This day was special; some say it was the day of Dallas’s birthday. If true, it would only be natural.

He didn’t eat, but did socialize with his good friends. They threw a nice party. It was a nice celebration. They would leave after they were done. Finding some spare time, Brian couldn’t help but try to leave a present behind.

Brian showed off his skills by creating some presents for the younger members of EST, no older than three. EST was his family away from family, and he knew everyone by now. Names just popped into his head, even though he wasn’t good with them, just because he had known them all for years.

The group set out not long after. They had to leave early, so the meal meant for the night was their breakfast that they had just devoured. Most villages nearby had been convinced long ago of Kadrane’s evil. A few had still been under Kadrane’s grip, though; this more local one would be their target. They knew they would be gone for at least twelve hours and had prepared similarly. The trip would take at least one hour one way; the rest of the time would be the lectures. In those stubborn villages, twenty hours might not be enough. But they were confident in their abilities.

The group traveled through the forest, slowly but surely. They could not take a car to get to the village; Kadrane alert level two meant that roads would be monitored. They crept forward, hoping none of Kadrane’s goons were nearby.

They had to be cautious, so they crept at half their normal pace, watching every movement. They made no sound. Not a twig snapped. Even through that, one person could hear something; Brian could hear everyone’s breath. Their heartbeats were rapid.

The situation was tense. They moved, and moved, but still nothing. This would be a long hour for Brian. The group didn’t stop. They were miserable in the wet conditions; humidity was 100%. They were hot. The forest was being unusually cruel for August weather.

Brian did try to help, but he could not afford to waste much energy, so the effect was minimal. Their clothes were all damp. Mosquitoes buzzed noisily overhead. This, of course, was one of the ways Brian convinced every member to wear the enchantment. He had told them that mosquitoes would not be a problem. Unfortunately, they would still buzz overhead; that, alone, was annoying.

The vines lightly brushed against everyone’s skin; only Brian was completely unaffected. Adrenaline pumped through the whole group’s bodies. Brian already possessed slightly superhuman senses and strength. His body’s adrenaline that he was feeling increased it even more.

They kept on tracking through the forest. If they ran, they could have made it fairly quickly. But their caution took priority. Finally, after what seemed like a day, they made it through. Forest turned into village, with ruined buildings that must have been a city at a time. Most people chose to move out long before that day for whatever reason.

“We go through this almost every trip, but never has it been this bad!” A member of the group complained as the team moved in.

“It is a necessary precaution; after all, you don’t want to get shot on a peaceful mission, do you?” Brian tried to reply, but everyone knew that statement was not entirely true.

They, though they hoped to be on one, were far from the peaceful people they were a few years ago; every member had killed at least once. ‘Peaceful’ could always end up being ‘battle’.

Even with precautions, many members had been shot and killed on their missions; the memories of Brian’s statement caused the whole group to look down in slight shame and remorse.

Pushing that though aside, Brian urged the group forward to greet the people there. Standard day, standard message of hope would be the routine, and with luck, they would attract new members and increase their reputation.

Brian was immediately the most popular. This village had been abused by Kadrane so many times in the past. Even so, by brainwashing or whatever other methods Kadrane used, they were loyal.

But loyalty will only carry one so far; joys can overwhelm a person. He started fires to warm the people up. August in the forest was unusually warm…but in the village, it was cold. He gave them fresh drinking water. They must have grown so dependent on Kadrane as to have forgotten how they got their fresh water. When Kadrane left them, they were helpless.

To add a finishing touch to his large impact, he gave little presents to the younger villagers. Immediately, they were interested. If he was against Kadrane and could do so much, what could others do? He gave himself an internal smile as he knew he had already ensnared them.

The speech dragged on for a few hours. Questions were asked and they gave the truthful answers. Many were convinced, but others were not. The truthfulness of the answers, however, made many more be convinced. Brian made errors in his speech. He showed that he was only human.

Eventually, the group took a small break to rest. The crowd was interested; they were talking to each other about it. After the break, Brian would stand up again. He wasn’t tired, though, so he simply started practicing again.

In places like this, on a hard, solid floor, Brian actually stopped hovering, as he did on any surface man-made. Since most battles would be fought in places like this, it was perfect for him to train. Today is just another day. I am glad that, at least today, Natur is wrong.

It was not long before the group began to start up again. But two panicked voiced simultaneously shouted to Brian. “Brian, there’s trouble!”

Natur stated that the forest where EST was was burning. “It could be nothing, but I doubt it!”

Pyron noted that the area was being engulfed by flames that no natural force created. It probably wasn’t his friends, either. “This is bad, Brian. Look at your home.”

Brian looked to the hills of his home. One sight dominated: he saw smoke rising. This was bad. Very bad, to say the least. He looked at the others in his group, and shouted, “Trouble! We need to go now! EST may be in danger!” The whole group was worried by this, and began running with Brian. But then, thousands of men appeared in front of them. Kadrane’s army.

They had been waiting for the perfect moment to strike, when the best men in EST would be away from camp. Just so they could attack them, annihilate them, while also attacking EST. Chaos began taking over unity, and Brian shook his fist. “I will save them all! I will reach them in time, and no army of Kadrane will stand in my way!”

< Message edited by mastin2 -- 8/21/2008 18:15:25 >
Post #: 5
8/21/2008 4:19:35   
mastin2
Member

Chapter Five:
“Crashed Down”


Brian ran. He ran full speed towards the forest. The whole group had started running for the forest along with him. The army had approached from all sides; they had already reached the village. Brian was powerless as he watched the villagers get massacred.

This was not a small army. Kadrane had at least two-hundred thousand men at his disposal. They made up several smaller armies. By Brian’s guess, assuming that this was the full force of the army, the force assaulting them must have been, at the very least, Kadrane’s fifth largest.

The group fought ferociously. They breached the army’s force and rushed into the forest. But it was not without a terrible cost; over half of them had fallen to get this far. They rushed deeper and deeper into the forest. The uphill track would take longer…but in their current rush, they could get there in less than a quarter of their normal time.

They ran at top speed, throwing caution to the wind. It would not matter anymore. Kadrane’s men were having trouble keeping up, but they still were managing to take shots at his group.

Brian watched as yet another friend close to him fell; retaliating, he killed ten pursuers while running. He asked Natur to create as many blocks as possible, yet Kadrane’s army was still punching through. What normally would take at least half an hour was taking no more than ten minutes.

The group arrived at EST. They had hoped to find their home. The fires were nearby, burning the outskirts of their home. Their worst fear was correct; Kadrane had found them. Their home was already in ruins.

Most members were dead; the rest were fighting to the death. This was not one of Kadrane’s biggest armies; it was the biggest army of Kadrane. At least twenty thousand men wearing Kadrane’s symbol, dead or alive, lay before them. Counting the ten-thousand behind him, there would be no doubting that this was his largest army.

They were all horrified to see their home. Their thousands of members had been reduced to hundreds in mere minutes. They already had lost almost everything. Brian rushed deeper into their home, the others following him. He could not stand the sight before him.

Brian saw the sight of all the young children massacred. They were just children. Most of them hadn’t even lived to see their tenth birthdays. A third of them hadn’t even seen their fifth. Those that he called his closest friends not in his squad lay dead. They had been mutilated. Hands, arms, legs, and heads were scattered everywhere. The crimson liquid of life and death run everywhere; not a spot was untouched. This was too much for him to handle.

His group rushed to help the survivors. He ignored the burning scenery. They were making their stand here; they would not give up. Their buildings burned. Their homes were crumbling. Bombs were dropped; many more were killed. Heavy firepower bombarded their location.

They continued fighting. Kadrane continued his rampage. While at least fifteen thousand of Kadrane’s men had been killed, the death toll on Brian’s side was much greater. Dallas had ignored his condition and helped fight. While rusty, he still was a good fighter. He personally led the counter-offensive part of the attack; they were doing most of the killing.

Rumors spread that Kadrane was leading the army. This discouraged some; Kadrane was supposed to be a coward. For him to lead his men, he would have to have complete confidence in total victory. Brian countered this and rallied the men, stating that if Kadrane was there, they could end it, once and for all.

They held put for almost the entire day. Hour after hour passed; they were losing, but were alive. Most of Kadrane’s troops lay dead. Nearly all of the remaining were out of ammunition and had to resort to melee—something which Brian’s group had an advantage in.

Despite this, they were exhausted. It would only be a matter of time. Kadrane’s men would receive reinforcements and restock soon enough; if that were to happen, it would be too late. The counter-offensive team was being sent out more and more often. Dallas was pushing himself.

It is then that Brian saw it. From his location at the front line, he could clearly see to the opposite side of Kadrane’s army, where Dallas was attacking. He witnessed it all. Things were worse than he had thought.

He saw Dallas being killed by Kadrane himself. Kadrane was lifting Dallas’s corpse onto a blade and discarding it after a few seconds. Brian watched every second of it in absolute horror. Kadrane was wiping them all out. The thorns in his side would disappear. The fires engulfed yet another place Brian had known well. Brian was regretting not taking further caution. His carelessness had caused this mess.

Only three of Brian’s original group were alive by this point, but having joined up with the rest of the survivors, about seventy were alive, forming a line meant to protect hope. Fighting continued, but Kadrane had not only numbers, but also firepower. While most of the fighters from both sides had run out of ammunition, a few remained and had shot though even more of their force.

Despite Brian’s best efforts, some even surrendered instead of fighting. They, too, were killed, as Kadrane ordered, “No prisoners!”

His eyes watered from the pain he was experiencing, as many more fell. The few that had surrendered and got executed allowed time for a distraction, though; Brian used his rage to pierce through a hundred more men.

The massacre continued. There was nothing he could do; his men were tiring. They all rallied under him; the twenty exhausted men still had at least five thousand enemies left, if not many more.

Brian was leading them, but only so far. He watched the last in his squad besides Eros get cut in half. KC had been the best fighter there besides Eros and Brian, yet he simply ran out of energy after fighting for the many hours.

It took only two more for most to have died. They had fifteen. Brian, by this point, had gone berserk. He just threw his powers at all in front of him and single-handedly killed at least three thousand more men. The bodies piled up in increasingly greater amounts. His rage would protect the dozen friends behind him.

Brian would not show mercy, as he now watched another of his fighters fall. Thirteen remained. This massacre…was simply going too far. Brian was too strong to stop; he was still going strong. He cut through hundreds more, slowly making his way to Kadrane.

Half way through, he encountered soldiers with a different uniform: Kadrane’s elite. His personal guard in the battlefield. They were the only ones with ammo left; they discharged it on Brian. His speed and strength allowed him to deflect most; his nature shield did the rest.

He cut them all in half with a single slash of his blade, engulfed in his furious attack. His life was burning away in front of his eyes; all he could do was fight. The charge forward had claimed half of their remaining force. Brian directed the flames to engulf the army left around him; only a few hundred were not caught in the blaze.

More men fell. Kadrane’s remaining army were cowards. Many of them fled. They were not there to get killed; they wanted to live. Very few remained in his way. Those that did, however, were not targeting him; his comrades fell. Eros was now the only member left alive.

Brian stepped over the bloody corpses of many more men, some he had slain, and some who died fighting for EST. This was not a scene to be seen by any sane man. He didn’t care any more; only one thing mattered. Kadrane would have to die.

The forest burned so brightly, every single detail could be seen; more and more men kept on falling. Arms chopped off, just because they were in the way of the attacker. Legs hacked off to disable opponents. In some cases, there was no head to match the bodies now scattered across the land now called “Bloody Plain”.

This was Brian’s full force. They would die for what had happened. None of the buildings that had taken years to construct even showed signs they were once there. Brian had several times stepped over the remains of food burnt to a crisp and entertainment for hours long since gone. All he had enjoyed had been destroyed. Brian spotted Kadrane again, not that far ahead. Apparently, the madman had lost all interest in the massacre; he was heading towards Brian’s family.

Brian did not hold back. Less than a hundred men remained from Kadrane’s army, all who dared not get in Brian’s way. They let him through along with Eros and ran. They had lives and families as well. They had not wanted any of this to happen; they wanted Kadrane dead almost as much as Brian did.

He rushed senselessly towards Kadrane, hoping to save his home. The elements could not stop Brian, even if they had tried, as he had suffered too much to consider anyone’s advice. Not even Eros’s pleads were heard; Brian was determined to kill Kadrane.

Showing her support, despite objecting his method, Eros trailed behind Brian, showing her ‘will to fight’. Brian stepped over the pond that was less than twenty feet from his house. It was located just above his home, allowing him a perfect view of his family.

What he saw was a scene that would haunt him until his end…his house was gone. On blaze, he could hear his family being carried away. They would be massacred and the house stripped of anything valuable. Brian’s home would have never existed. He imagined that the neighboring houses would be demolished in a similar matter; Kadrane wanted not witnesses. Brian charged forward, desperately trying to save hope…




Part Two:

Brian lost all of his remaining sanity. His only wish was to kill Kadrane on the spot. It was obvious that Kadrane had made modifications to his body to—in the worst case scenario—match Brian’s power; it did not matter how powerful Kadrane’s technology enhancements to his body were.

He didn’t care about it anymore; he would kill that monster. The monster who would declare himself tyrant of the world if Brian could not succeed. He had to kill him. For the thousands that had died, for the hope of the world, for the hope of a better planet; Kadrane was to die.

He went inside. Instantly, he regretted it. His home was crumbling already. The infrastructure was failing. But worst of all was the human damage. Kadrane was holding the dead corpse of his father. His father, one of the most important figures in Kadrane’s Pacific Northwest wing, had been killed.

Kadrane showed no sympathy for his former associate. Brian’s father was the father of a traitor, as far as he was concerned. All Brian’s father was to Kadrane was a tool. Kadrane made it clear right then and there: he was willing to kill even the most important members of his company to achieve his goals.

Brian was to be eliminated. That was his goal. Because of Brian, his family had gotten involved. Because of Brian, his family had become a target. Because of Brian, his family was dead. Brian could take it no more.

Brian gripped his sword hard enough to make the thorns cause his hand to bleed. He charged forth. His family was dead. He had not been careful. It was not the elements’, not the wildlife’s fault; he was directly responsible for not being able to save them. The least he could do was to repay Kadrane kindly with death.

KADRANE!!!!” Brian’s yell could be heard by any soldier still even close to the battlefield. Brian charged, slashing Kadrane’s shoulders.

“I got careless,” the man said. “A shoulder wound is too much.”

Brian wasn’t exactly happy himself; he had intended to cut Kadrane in half. Kadrane had managed to dodge the brunt of the blow.

“My, my, is that all you’ve got?” he taunted. “I was hoping for more.”

A slash appeared on Brian’s shoulder. He had managed to counter-attack in the last second with his cold metal blade, a perfect reflection of his heart. Brian felt nothing. The pain of his mind was too great for him to ever notice a physical wound of that nature.

There was a pause as both combatants readied themselves. Brian then took a second; to his shock, he actually managed to recognize Kadrane…Kadrane, to begin with, was only a few years older than Brian. When Brian was fourteen, Kadrane could not have been much older than twenty-one.

Ten years, at most, separated the two. Worse yet, Kadrane had been a hero to Brian. Kadrane had once saved him from a terrible accident years ago. Even more shocking, from a huge family reunion, Brian recognized the tyrant. Kadrane was related to Brian by a great, great grandfather.

“YOU!”

“Yes, me. Despite what you may think, I do admit I make mistakes. Some things that seem like coincidence really are just that. I had no clue who you would become; I saved you because it was convenient.”

“Monster.”

“Why, yes, I am! I am glad you noticed that. I am a monster, your relative. By the looks of how you fight, it must run in the family. You are no better; we are both monsters of blood.”

This revelation only further increased Brian’s hate. This monster, once a hero. “Why have you done all of this?”

“For the power, of course. I want to be rich, and this is the best way to do it!” Kadrane replied as he extended his arms out to both sides of him.

“Julius Kadrane, I will kill you right here, on this spot! You…you could have been a hero, yet here you are, killing all that was once good!”

“You are mistaken! I was always like this, even when I met you! The me you once knew was only my shadow. When I saved you, it was only to further my fame, to give me some credibility,” Kadrane revealed. The two locked eyes; his blade once again met Brian’s.

“You may have your fortune, you may rule half the world…but it comes to an end here. I…will kill you, Kadrane. I will be your death.”

Eros interrupted and decided to empty a clip on Kadrane. He easily blocked the attack as if it were nothing; Brian’s strike afterwards met only a blade. “Eros, while I appreciate the help, leave this to me. We both have lost so much because of this man…but only I can kill him. I need you to stay back.”

“But…”

“Please, Eros, let me.”

“Very well, Brian.”

The fight continued. Every second the two met blades, Brian’s fury grew. Within a minute of fighting, Brian’s rage doubled. Kadrane had been planning this from the first day. Kadrane would become the thing that Brian had sworn to destroy, despite what Brian had once thought.

Brian left a mark; he drove a nature spike into Kadrane’s hip. “Even if I were to die today, Kadrane, let that be a reminder that I will always be a thorn in your side.”

“Ha, ha…nice one, Brian. You truly are as much of a monster as I.”

“I am not you.”

Damage was exchanged. Brian wounded Kadrane with a few burn mark and many slashes over his body, but Kadrane gave equal amounts of punishment. Brian had earned an equal amount of scars.

“Keep going, Brian! You can do it. Kadrane is weakening; I am certain of it. You have your blade. It uses all of the elements. All of us are at your side helping you. You wield the Unification Blade; you cannot be beaten!”

Brian took the encouragement well. They clash once more, putting full force into the slash. But this time, Brian’s Unification Blade, the elegant vines wrapping around each other to create a gorgeous pattern, the leaf guard, the golden hilt, and all, shattered on contact. Kadrane’s metal had beaten Brian’s nature. Shocked, Brian stared into Kadrane’s merciless crimson eyes.

Kadrane followed the attack and slashed through Brian, starting at the heart and creating a large diagonal downward slash that did not stop until it reached his right hip. Normally, the slash when being that deep would kill a person instantly, but Brian was not normal. It only was a slow, though mortal, wound…He would slowly die.

Brian was thrown back by this blow, but stayed on his feet. He extended his right arm out to slow him down, bent his knee, and from his left arm, he shot out a seed which Kadrane simply deflected. He coughed up blood, and wiped the sweat off his face. Brian would not let himself be beaten; he created a large thorn to be used as a dagger.

For the first time since the fight began, he noticed Eros behind him. She had moved into his bedroom, where the fighting had shifted. She was there; Brian took this as a sign that she was ready to help at a moment’s notice. He called out to her. “I may not survive this one, Eros. I said that only I could do it…but I am stronger with you. With you, I will kill Kadrane! Come on, Eros, let’s finish him together!”

But Eros had a bright, evil, smile on her face. She was there for something else. She pulled out a dagger, the grin growing wider. Brian was determined. He could easily kill Kadrane with a stronger blow. With Eros, he thought he would have inspiration for anything; she had given him hope. But the moment he felt that stab through his belly, that stab from behind, things changed. When looked down to see the point sticking through, covered in his blood, he began to waver.

Blood dripped profusely from his mouth. He couldn’t comprehend what was happening; he was too shocked at all of this. Had what he thought just happened really just occur? His mind froze; he did not notice Kadrane’s next attack.

He was pinned to the wall which had once been his room, right next to the window overlooking the burning forest. Kadrane had shot a dagger at his chest. He cringed when he fell to the ground, gasping for breath.

“…Why?” Brian cried out, confused as ever. He knew he did not have long to live; his vision was blurred.

“We would have attacked you years ago, but we were working on a process that we only now have perfected…”

“What do you…what does that mean?”

“You see, we wanted to create someone with a control over all the elements, and bend him to our will, fusing him with technology. The thing is, we needed the DNA of someone already perfectly controlling the elements.”

Brian began to realize just how bad it was. “Oh, don’t feel bad. With your DNA, that was possible only recently, yes. But we have been working to perfect the process of creating a clone of you. Eros has been doing her part; you already know her profession is in the field of genetics. It was only yesterday that we perfected the process.”

Things were making sense. Eros was not who she seemed to be. She had been with the program longer than Brian, but was nothing but a spy. When Brian came, she received new orders: watch him closely.

Brian had thought he had grown close to her. In truth, she was only spying on him. Brian thought that she was giving him support when he was down. In truth, she was manipulating him to her will. The standard checks…they were for one thing only: to monitor his progress.

Kadrane laughed at the dying Brian, who had fallen to tears. “We can now create a means for me to have an absolute, unquestioned rule. We have your DNA, changed when it bonded with the elements, and we have the process to create our weapon. You and your friends became…unnecessary.”

Eros then finished by saying, in a mocking tone, “It has been nice knowing you, Brian!”

At that moment, Brian was in more conflict than ever before. He, until that point, had accepted the possibility he would die, but only fighting Kadrane. He had not thought of failing. Not like this.

At that moment, when his world came crashing down, he wanted to live to get revenge, but with the betrayal of someone he had loved, his will to die was much stronger. His tears ran down in almost a solid stream.

He ceased to see, getting much closer to death. Darkness was consuming him. His eyes bled from the pain. His heart was beginning to fill with his hatred. He did his best to push as much of it away, knowing that that hatred could consume his soul. If he let hatred consume him, it would leave nothing good behind, turning him into something just as bad as Kadrane. But he wanted to feel that hatred.

This was the worst possible way to die, yet Brian was experiencing it. The elements were screaming, “Brian, Brian! Don’t leave us now! The world still needs you!” But it did not matter. He was broken. Too weak to fight. Everything he had known had gone up in ashes; betrayal was all that he could think about.

He kept on screaming, “Why? Why? Why!?!?”

In his last moments of life, he let out a scream that is simply indescribable. It was not that of any word, as he was too weak to speak, but it communicated his feelings. It was terrible. It could be heard from miles upon miles away. The very ground shook in a giant earthquake, storms exploded around the world, fires suddenly raged out of control, all at that moment.

The shout was terrible, and scarred all who heard it who even had a fraction of a heart left. All the soldiers that had been afraid before instantly felt regret like none other. They, albeit indirectly, had killed that man. They would be scarred forever. Only Kadrane and Eros were unaffected at the time.

Eros was a monster; she could live with it. But, deep inside, even she felt that cry; Eros, to this day, is beginning to regret that sound as well. The same cannot be said of Kadrane. Kadrane simply smiled at that time, according to the rumor. He supposedly had a large grin and laughed at the sound that shook others to the core.

The scream itself was that of fear, that of remorse, that of the desire for revenge, that of the wish to have a friend at that moment. The scream was that for the will to live, yet the inability to do so, that of one ready to die. The scream communicated all of his feelings and more. It also represented the death of hope. The death of a good unifier. The death…of a hero. That scream, that call for help that the heavens themselves shook from, was the last time Brian would speak. His world crashed down that day, and all that he knew ceased to be, even himself.




…That was well over a hundred years ago. In the time since then, everything has changed. Kadrane got his wish to become the tyrant of the world; Eros became his second-in-command.

They managed to create a being similar to Brian and named him David. This being would become the most powerful in existence, and was designed to surpass even Kadrane in power, since he could control the elements, and had technology fused into his body since birth.

The world that had once flourished crumbled into ruins, and most technology that was not under Kadrane’s control was destroyed. A few remain to this day, albeit lessened. Brian’s grief at his death caused further destruction, and on top of all of that, any technology that could possibly communicate outside of Kadrane’s Iron grip was forgotten or destroyed.

David grew up to be not the hope of the people, but their destroyer. He did manage one thing that Brian had been: to be a unifier…under Kadrane’s evil banner. All resistance that was left from EST tried to reform, but was crushed within twenty years. All who did not serve Kadrane were left to poverty or worse. Kadrane controls anything he wants to in this world and his will has not wavered.

Rumors exist that David, despite basically being raised as Kadrane’s ‘son’, hates his ‘father’. Like all before him, David is only Kadrane’s tool. Yet, apparently, David will do nothing about it and will remain at Kadrane’s side.

As for how he’s lived so long and maintained his looks from back then? It is most likely he used technology. In addition to technology, it is possible that his lifespan is also being augmented with David’s ‘gift’. David’s artificial control over nature grants him a long lifespan, allowing them to live to this day. Kadrane, Eros, and David: terrors of the world.

That is how this world has come to be. The elements are slowly dying. The world has fallen under the control of Kadrane and will be so for thousands of years if he has his way.

What of me? I’m just someone relaying a tale to you. You’ll probably never hear from me again. The reason for that is, if Kadrane doesn’t kill me for telling you the truth, then I will have to disappear, never to be seen again, and live my life out in secrecy.

And for the matter of Brian D. Lewis, the hope of the people? Something, I know not what, tells me that he will be back and return from the dead. I don’t know how, or when, but he will be back some day and will fight Kadrane again. The result? Even I cannot say. We will just have to wait and see. We will have to wait, just one day longer every day, in the hopes that he could come back and challenge those who have gone unchallenged for over a hundred years.

< Message edited by mastin2 -- 8/21/2008 18:16:30 >
Post #: 6
8/21/2008 4:30:05   
mastin2
Member



(End of Part One, "The World as We Know it...")




Chapter Six:
“Reborn”


Over a hundred years later, Kadrane only accepts the best of the best as employees. Since he controls most technology on the world, nearly all who enjoy the benefits of technology fall under his control. While there are a few rare exceptions—he still has some minor rivals which are too pathetic for him to pay any attention to—the only way a normal person can get technology is by joining his elite army.

Normal life is basically medieval. Without modern technology, one has barely enough to support a family. That is how life has come to be under Kadrane. While not necessarily bad, it certainly is not what it was a hundred years ago.

For a young woman roughly eighteen in age, it is no different. She lives in a small hut with her family. She has a decent education. She has extensive knowledge in languages, old technology, history, and myths. But above all else, she’s been taught basics of survival. How to farm, how to hunt.

She managed to, a few hours ago, sucker herself into going into the location most dead. Now, she finally entered…but asked the same thing ten times in one minute. “Why am I in this forest?”

She comforts herself knowing it is for a just cause…or is it? Maybe it’s just for her curiosity about those old rumors? Things she has been educated in dozens of times before? A great hero dieing in the place she seeks…could that be true?

She is going through a land that is hard for most people. A land that seems to show both compassion and hate at the same time; she has heard of how many have lost their way in the forest because of how harsh it was, only to miraculously find the exit. That is, those that seem to live her lifestyle.

Anyone working for Kadrane, for some unknown reason, always dies the minute they enter this ‘cursed area’, as the locals have put it. ‘A forest that suddenly burst from the ground when the hero died’ doesn’t sound like a likely explanation for why this forest is so brutal, she tells herself.

I’ve been raised on science; I don’t believe in that junk. This forest grew over time; its location made it particularly hard to get through. These fairy tales are just lies.

But somehow, a voice in her head tells her, “It’s true, and you know it. Stop denying it.”

She is trying her best to deny the fact that the forest is alive, that it is hard. As if to prove this, for some reason, the trek isn’t as hard as the rumors state. This is easy. Walking through the plains takes just a little less effort than this. They were just crazy people, trying to get attention by telling of their ‘hard’ trek.

She breezes by most plants. ‘The plants tripped me several times’, they said. This is not anything close to that! Some even seem to bend, to let her through. This is too easy! I always knew those rumors were vastly exaggerated…but I didn’t think it’d be this easy!

She pauses for a second. According to those that had made the journey before, the forest was alive…yet there was no life. Some birds, amongst other animals, seem to have taken interest in her. Another one of those rumors down the drain!

But something keeps on getting on her nerves: she keeps on hearing a ringing noise in her head. The sound had been heard several times before, but it always left after a few seconds. This time, however, it refuses to leave since she entered this forest, The Bloody Plains.

Why it got that name is also just a rumor. Another fairy tale she was told as a young child. It is said ‘the final battle’, a myth that her mother had told her, took place there. I seriously doubt that thousands upon thousands of men were massacred here; this doesn’t look like the place some group of rebels would hide out. No buildings, no way to survive in the wild…nothing! Not to mention, there’s no trace of a fire.

She tries to comfort herself; failing miserably, she can’t help but think about it. Another similar voice in her head keeps telling her that what she thinks is mostly a lie. She keeps pushing the thoughts away…yet they keep on getting stronger.

Why, besides curiosity, would she find herself in a place like this? No; she has a reason. It has to be for that. It can’t be for curiosity when the conditions are so poor. For her, I am here! I am here to help her. I am sure of it now. My curiosity is just a side-affect.

After her father died, her only family was her little annoying brother and caring mother. It isn’t much of a family, but it’s all she’s got. Yet her mother recently has been sick; her brother is the one who is doing all the work since then.

I can’t let my brother do all the work. He’s still so young. It would be wrong to have him continue providing our income and doing the housework. I just wish there was more I could do! I can’t do a thing, since I am still getting educated. By the end of the year, I will have finished…but…it could be too late. My father taught me all about herbs. Some in here might be able to help me. If not…then the place I am after better be true!

The place she seeks is rumored to answer all prayers. Nearby, herbs of all type are said to exist. If the place exists, she would drop a quick prayer by and then search for the herbs. She is there it to help her family.

Of course, they don’t know she snuck off to do this. She knows they would just object, calling it too dangerous. For a simple prayer, that might be true. But herbs are near impossible to come by; if she finds anything that could potentially help her mother, then it would certainly be worth any risk.

She finally manages to get through the last of the forest; she has reached the center of the stationary, living storm. It extends for a long distance in all directions, but she had reached the center as if it were a walk in a park.

She finds herself standing by what looks to have once been a six foot deep pond. After all, there really wouldn’t be much point in keeping a large hole anywhere. It looks manmade; she rethinks her theories. At least some life once was there. But it could be natural; a river running through it could support that. She can’t be certain; it is now completely drained and empty.

Looking further, she can see a building that is nothing but rubble. Okay, so there was once a house here. It could have been abandoned long before that. Or maybe after. There’s no way that it could have just been reduced to ruins. But I don’t believe for a second those crazy stories about Kadrane rampaging through here; they are just to scare children. But I believe this is the place that those people were talking about.

The whole house is oddly colored gray and black. While age could do that, she accepts that it probably wasn’t age. From what she has heard about the structure of buildings like that, it tells of extreme heat, signaling a fire once was there.

The roof is gone. What looks like a basement on a hill seems to have been destroyed long ago. In fact, the hill has partially collapsed into rough terrain. She questions if there was ever a hill at all.

Build a house on a hill? That doesn’t make sense; that would render it a ‘one and a half’ story building. But she doesn’t really care and ignores it. She can’t help but noticing that—of the obvious once-four walls—only one remains. Somehow, the wall to her left, the wall pointing towards the center of the forest and pointing slightly north, still stands.

Not to mention, it still has patches of green on it. I believe there may be those special herbs around that area. Just a guess. Depending on the age of the building, the growth at least tells her that there is a great chance the wall escaped the carnage that befell the rest of the ruins. She also observes that it has a mighty nice wide window. Wow! I’ve never even hears stories of windows that large! My tiny little circle of a window isn’t even worthy of comparison! Too bad, though; the glass must have been removed long ago.

Coming from the right side, she steps inside. The building is in worse condition than it looks; the floor nearly crumbles as she steps on it. The moss covering the floor hides the damage, but she can tell the floor would crumble, if there was nothing but the ground below.

Looking back up, she spots a little altar in what must have once been a room. There is nothing inside the room. Not an object survives. Not surprising, considering the passage of time.

But what is really odd is that, right next to the window, there is a sight that should not be possible: A massive group of intertwined vines is reaching to be just about six and a half feet tall.

That, itself, would be fine; it would be unusual, but not impossible. The mystery is that there are two waterfalls, endlessly falling. The blue and white waters pour out in a steady flow from the walls and continue until they make a soft splash against the floor. There, the water seems to vanish into thin air.

Just in front of the vine, there is a pillar of fire, towering to be just over four feet. The endlessly burning orange, yellow, and red flame burns without a fuel source. If there were to be a hidden mechanism somewhere, it would be unusual, but not impossible. But one last thing touches it up and breaks her reality: a tornado seemingly swirls in place, right next to the fire and at the exact same height.

Nonetheless, this is what she was looking for. A quick prayer and she’d collect the herbs before heading back. She bends down on her knees, cups her hands together, and prays. For just a moment, she shows her hope and desperation. She shows her good heart.

The birds oddly begin to get closer. More and more wildlife join. A few owls come next. She can hear them, but keeps her eyes closed. A few more seconds and she would leave. The events continue to unfold around her.

Some seeds swirl in the wind. The breeze rushes against her raven hair, landing the seeds right next to her. Animals of all types begin to approach. They are all gathering, as if to listen and answer her prayer.

She stands up, puzzled. The events are strange, but she is still there mainly for the herbs. But she lets curiosity dominate again and actually touches the vine at the top, wondering what happened here.

The voices in her head get louder. She can’t stand them, but they get louder and louder. Soon, she can make them out. They are all screaming, “Brian, come back!” It echoes several times. “Brian, come back!”

She does not understand what that means. While she has heard tales of Brian, they slip her mind. Even if the tales were to come to her mind, she still would not understand the phrase, as Brian was confirmed dead over a hundred years ago.

The vines begin to glow. The golden aura they emit suggests life. They shrink a little. Then they begin to morph. A somewhat human form begins to emerge; the fire, tornado, and waterfalls all seem to merge with the vine.

The transformation continues. The light changes colors from yellow, to blue, to red, and then silver. In a brilliant bright green flash, she suddenly finds herself looking at a young man, not a year older than herself, by appearance.

For a moment, he is standing, those dark green hypnotic eyes open. They stare into her soul and then reveal his own. They show great love, great emotion, but most of all: great loss.

But then he collapses into her arms, his consciousness seemingly loss—if it was ever there. This, to her, is most unusual, and was not why she was here. Yet, something tells her—besides the fact that he appeared when the vines, fire, tornado, and water merged into one—that this boy is…different, and needs to be treated.

At the very same time, though she could never hope to see it, Natur wakes up and views down at the scene surprised. Sleep was something he isn’t used to. With Brian’s loss—since he had become part of them—and Kadrane’s iron grip weakening them, the elements require brief moments of rest, lasting about eight hours.

But he instantly awoke when he felt a jolt; he felt what had happened. His smile grows. He nearly breaks out into laughter. At first, it is merely whispering. The murmurs are impossible to hear. They grow louder. “He’s…back!”

He grows much louder, the enthusiasm clear. “He’s back!” Then he runs of to the other three elements, and shouts in an exited tone louder than ever before heard by the other three. “He’s back!”

“Who?”

“He’s back! Brian…is back!”




Part Two:

The girl looks at the boy much closer. She has no idea who it is. Instinct drives her to guess that he is Brian, the old hero who died here. But that should be impossible, so she can’t accept that yet. Magical, yes. Impossible, yes…but Brian? It couldn’t be!

He shrunk a little when forming, and now is just above her height, being six foot, two inches tall. She stares into his now-closed eyes. For that moment when they were open, the moment that felt like a hundred years, she felt…hypnotized.

When he first appeared, for a brief second, she though she saw gems actually fused to his body. But since they aren’t there, she must have imagined them. His hair is shorter than normal for her time period, being about ear-length.

When she looks at the unusual style of hair, though, she notices something hidden in there…when she looks close enough, about one out of every ten hairs is red, blue, green, or gray, instead of his normal brown.

The boy looks battered. He looks like he has seen the worst there is; he looks like he has been burnt, drowned, and beaten all at once. She glances at his clothes. They are even odder, that is, if you can call the rags he is wearing clothes. Gray sweatpants extend just below his knees. The shreds below suggest that they originally might have extended further—a style that was abandoned long ago.

He wears a black shirt of some kind. That shirt also has the sleeves shredded, to reveal that he is wearing a blue shirt underneath. Looking closely, she notices a total of three layers…the black on top, the blue sweatshirt, and on the bottom, there is a green t-shirt.

But all of them are in bad condition, especially in what appears to be a slash starting just above his heart. It is barely visible because of what he is wearing, but it stands out. She wonders what could cause such a wound.

Curious, she looks at his chest to see if there is any damage, and is shocked to see a huge scar starting at the heart and traveling all the way down to his stomach, following the pattern of the slash in his shirts. They all had a large slash in them. Just a small little slash, not anything in comparison to the shreds that once covered his arms and legs.

She turns him over, briefly. She wants to learn more, to see if there is more damage. What she finds is a mark on his back. The position suggests that is probably a scar that once extended into his stomach.

He has obviously seen his fair share of pain, she notes to herself. She turns him back over to have him lay face up, taking a look at his stomach to confirm the wound. Sure enough, a slightly smaller mark greets her.


He’s just lucky that I am a good medic.

She retrieves some herbs to help the man. She forces him to ingest them, having no initial result. She waits. Finally, the young man begins to stir. The woman excitingly watches this amazing boy. Slowly, he lets out a few moans, signaling that he’s awake, but extremely tired. He lies down for several seconds more. He doesn’t open his eyes; he just remains down. When he finally stands up, she tries talking to him, yet he doesn’t seem to notice her; he seems lost in thought. She stares at his eyes; they are closed.

In reality, he truly can’t see her right now; he’s looking at the elements. “How long have I been…dead…for?”

“It’s been a while, Brian. You’ve been dead for over a hundred years.”

“A hundred years?!?”

“I am afraid so.”

Brian then begins to stare at the elements, expecting decay. A hundred years…

Natur is still wearing all green. He still has green hair, matching the length of Brian’s. He is wearing a green coat, but it has slash marks scattered around it. Natur’s gaze meets that of Brian’s own, revealing his green eyes, shaded darker than those of Brian.

Aero is wearing similar clothing, except it is all gray. But it is not the shade Brian remembers; the coat Aero wears, above all else, seems to be a much darker shade of gray. His long, waist-length white hair does not represent his age; it just shows his power. That hasn’t changed. His gray eyes are staring rather harshly at Brian; creped out, he proceeds to look at the other two.

Mar is still wearing his blue robe. It has some burn marks over it and has become rather worn with age. He still is displaying his blue hair, roughly shoulder length as usual. His blue eyes can’t hide his feeling of warmth that Brian is back.

Pyron is the last Brian looks at. He is displaying his extra-short red hair that is fitting for the soldier he is. His shining red armor still glistens as if it was brand-new. His red eyes desperately try to hide emotion, trying to remain the ‘tough guy’ soldier. It fails; even Fire itself can shed tears of joy.

“You guys haven’t changed at all.”

“Welcome back, Hero.” Natur can say no more; he is caught speechless.

Mar adds, “It’s good to see you again!”

Brian manages to smile a little. Like always, it doesn’t last long. Natur interrupts Brian’s train of thought by stating, “Oh, I almost forgot! In your weakened state, you can’t see the real world while talking to us, can you?”

“Not yet. Just like when I first contacted you.”

“Well, don’t stay here too long. There’s a young woman—the one who awoke you—who is staring rather puzzled at you.”

Brian then ‘wakes up’, and confirms what Natur had said. “Forgive me…in my weakened state, I can’t see people when speaking to…never mind.”

Brian states to the rather curious girl in front of him. “My name is Brian.”

The girl is rather shocked by this, and asks, “The Brian?”

“Depends on who ‘the Brian’ is.”

“Did you kill tens of thousands of men here?”

Brian shakes his head and puts his hand on his forehead. He sighs and replies. “A hundred years have passed, yet already, they exaggerate that badly? I don’t know how many I killed. At most, I killed close to nine thousand, not tens of thousands.”

Questions are asked. Brian clears a few things up for his companion. Five minutes of solid conversation later and Brian has cleared up all of her misconceptions. He is somewhat surprised that anyone at all knows about it; he asks his new friend to speak about the world in the last hundred years to clear things up for him as well.

I still am not sure that I can believe that it is him.

I am curious as to why she could wake me. I’ve been gone this long. Kadrane has already taken over the world. I was brought back for a reason…but why? Not even she knows. Oh, and speaking about that…


“By the way, might I have the pleasure of knowing whom I’m speaking to?”

“Kinomi. Kinomi Quinton.”

“Kinomi? That’s a lovely name. It’s Japanese, if I’m not mistaken. Berry?”

“How’d you know that?”

“I learned Japanese a long time ago. Many of our allies came from Japan, believe it or not. But might I ask—why is that your name? You don’t exactly look Japanese.”

“Family tradition. The first member of the family is given a name from an older civilization. The name is usually Greek or Latin. The second is given a name from a mostly foreign place. Asian, African, and other such locations are usually chosen. In my case, it was Japanese. The second language those two will learn will be the same as their name. As assignments for school, we often will have to learn about the cultures as well.”

“Kinda sounds silly.”

“It’s tradition. It’s a gift and a curse, though. The third and any after that are given more…normal names to live with. They also don’t receive as much of the diverse education we do.”

“You say it as if it’s a bad thing to have your name.”

“For some of my relatives, it is. But I like my name.”

“I’m not surprised. It’s a lovely name.”

“Thank you.”

Brian stares at her green eyes. They match the color of his own perfectly. What the? Those eyes…something about those eyes. They are so…familiar. Not just by appearance to my own. Experience as well. When I look at her…I see someone similar to myself.

A gust of wind rustles the leaves in the trees. Brian shifts his attention to the change…and sees how the forest seemed to be taking down its barriers. He has an eye for traps and can see all the things that are in place to stop someone from reaching him.

How on earth did she manage to get here unscathed? Could it be—wait, I’ve got more important things to think about…if I can see this change, others can as well. If someone else can see it…it is only a matter of time until…Oh, no! This is…bad!

“What is it?”

“What makes you think there’s something wrong?”

“You shifted your gaze to the forest and looked like you were pondering something.”

“Oh, nothing, really.”

“You can’t fool me; what was it?”

“Really, it was only nothing…” he trails off for a second. He raises his voice to a louder, near-panicked voice. “Just something that could endanger our lives! Two words for you: RUN!”

“Why?”

“We’re in mortal danger every second we stay here.”

“What could possibly be the problem?”

“The second I was awoken, the barriers of the forest were dropped. It’s been…what? Fifteen minutes since then?”

“I hadn’t realized so much time had passed…”

“That doesn’t matter.”

“What could happen in fifteen minutes?”

“What else?”

“I am not sure.”

“You do know who I call my mortal enemy, right?”

“Umm…maybe? Who is it? Who are you so worried about?”

“He is coming.”

“JUST SAY IT!”

“Alright, alright, no need to yell. The one who is coming—” Brian pauses for several seconds.

“Kadrane. Kadrane is on his way, heading for us. We need to get out of here fast if we want to live.”
Post #: 7
8/21/2008 18:36:21   
mastin2
Member

Chapter Seven:
“Hidden Allies”


He had known nothing but abuse in his life…it was what he was born to take. His mother died shortly after giving him life. His twin brothers and sisters were killed years ago. He only knew them until he was old enough to leave the home, but he heard that they had been killed long ago. He has no family.

He was well-raised. In many ways, he was happy. Yet after that day, he was forced to live off of the little piece of land that he now called home. Happiness to abuse is a rather nasty adjustment, so his life was meaningless to him.

The tree, the ‘house’—meant more as a joke than a place for him to live—the cracks forming a ditch, the grass, all within a very small radius. Originally, his captors had given him a space outside. But now, he is locked in a metal box, mocking the outside world, but in truth being just another room in a large laboratory.

He is locked up in this ‘kennel’ and hates it. His masters were called ‘humans’, and he hates them. His first master was a kind ‘man’, but he now faced those less pleasant. He is skinny, in bad condition, hating ‘man’.

‘Woman’, however, is much worse, even beating him with metal sticks and injecting strange things into him. He was mutilated beyond his original form, now more of a monster than ever. ‘Woman’ beat him up with their ‘tools’, as if him starving slowly to death wasn’t enough.

But one day, his masters left. ‘She’—the one leading them—had left on some type of errand, unknown for what purpose, never to return. He now had nothing left and his prison still bound him.

He would die there—howling his heart out in his shifting forms—with not a soul to listen to his screams. The person that ‘woman’ called ‘dog’ would die in here alone, without a companion.

He is slowly dieing. His food supply is dwindling. His water is stale. He longs to be outside; the kennel prison that mocks it only makes things worse. His hatred for woman had grown to a boiling point.

He growls when any, by chance, approached the now-empty location. If they even get within a head’s reach of his kennel, then he will attempt to bite them. The snaps showing his fury scare most away.

And he will bark as well. He will do whatever it takes to keep his oppressors away; they are just lucky he is permanently restrained. His chain keeps him away from them, but one thing deters him more: the walls cause pain. Intense pain throughout his body upon contact.

That has been the fate he had accepted. Until—that is—one day another woman came. But she does not shrivel away in fear at his barks; she shows no cruelty. Instead, she glows with the aura of happiness.

Another is with her—perhaps an old friend—who she is speaking to in their tongue. He does not understand what they said, but the words are clear English. He can understand simple commands, choosing to accept them or deny them. Though, while he hears every word, more complex conversations he still cannot master.

Her friend comments, “You know, you’re giving their consciousness too much credit; they are domesticated beasts, not capable of higher thought.”

This woman seems to strike back at her comrade’s comment. “You’re wrong! They feel what we do, pain, fear, shock, hunger, thirst, anger, and many higher thoughts. They are just as intelligent as we are. Look at his eyes—he has seen at least as much death and pain as I have.”

The tone—though he can’t understand the words—seems like none he has heard before…it seems to be one defending him as who he is. How could it be that this woman is so different? The poor dog may never know.

But the fact is she fears him not. He growls at her; she still approaches. He barks; she is unfazed. She bends over onto her knees just out of biting range. He wants to bite her; she is out of range.

But then, she extends her arm in what appeared to be friendship. But from woman, he thinks this impossible. Had not friendship died many years prior? He bites her and does not let go.

Yet she merely winces at the pain and stares at him with those hazel eyes. It is like she had gone though a similar experience and sympathizes with him. One of her eyes has a gray pupil; she has been tortured as much as he has.

She closes her eyes and manages a slight grin. Her smile and her closed eyes are not those of one wishing to strike him. He didn’t know such emotions existed, yet he was feeling them and seeing her feel them as well.

She extends her other arm and actually brushes his fur briefly, before snapping the chain that has held him for so long. He releases his grip and bites her other arm, this time releasing after only a few seconds. She does not feel the pain; the red blood dripping from her hands onto the floor doesn’t even faze her. The poor dog hears the woman’s friend shout, “You idiot! That thing could be rabid!”

But this woman’s emotions surprise him again. She replies, “I don’t care! I’m going to help this poor friend now; you can’t change my mind. He has experienced too much pain for him to accept, but I must try.”

How can it be that this woman is like this? She presses a little box on the side of a pole. And then…she touches the fence. She just showed how the fence will no longer shock him.

But she isn’t done yet. She leaves the door to the kennel open, hoping for the animal to escape. No, it is not for the abilities this poor soul possesses, but actually companionship. But it must be a trick—he thinks—so he stays exactly where he has been.

She leaves him the best food he can ever imagine; he ignores it and goes hungry in the hopes of scavenging his own. She leaves him the purest, richest water available; he drinks murky water from a puddle.

Yet every day, she comes back, refills the supplies he never used, comes up to him—despite the fact that he always bites her—and brushes his fur in a show of respect. Respect for what he is.

His growling, his barking, his biting still do not scare her. What else can he do to resist? If she really does want to do something bad to him, he can’t do anything more. Her friend stopped coming days ago. She continues coming, despite the damage he always does.

One day, however, she comes…and her hands are in bandages. She obviously is extremely weak. His constant biting has finally taken effect; she very well could be dieing.

Then he finally understood why she had done it…compassion. Not all women are bad; he had just seen the worst. Here was the kindest woman imaginable, so when she came that day, he followed. She would recover later; he could not be happier.

He follows her home as a companion; an equal. No more is he to be a threat. No more would he be nothing but scum. He will be an equal and he can tell this woman will cherish him until she will perish. And from her age—apparently the human equivalent of his age, when this all started a hundred years earlier—that will not be for a long time. He shall never forget the face of this woman. He shall never forget the face of kindness that awoke his heart.


“By order of His Superior, The Leader, Sir Julius Kadrane, we are placing you under arrest.”

“My, my, there’s no need for such authority. Why, might I ask, are you doing this?”

“You are a rebel, Midas C. Shafter, and for that, there is only one sentence.”

“Me? A rebel? Do I look like a threat to you?”

“My orders are rather clear: I am to bring you into our custody. Cease all resistance at once.”

“Oh, I’m not resisting. I’m merely walking down this roadway. The nearest town is that way,” Midas taunts his pursuers. He calmly walks down the road, smoothly heading down the brown pathway. He pushes his metal rod forward, using it as a walking stick. “I see no reason to arrest me until we get to the nearest town.”

Midas runs his hand through his black hair. “So why don’t we just walk along?”

“Nice try, Midas. We know your tricks. Your tongue will be cut before your head.”

“Oh? You know my tricks, do you?”

Midas smiles. He reaches his left hand into his black robe. A second later, one of the guards is down, knocked unconscious.

“W-what did you do?”

“My, my…you seem panicked. What happened to you knowing all my tricks? That was just a simple spell. He’ll be awake in a couple hours.”

“What are you?”

“You said it yourself—a rebel. I am no more special than any other.”

The men charge. Midas blocks an attack with his right arm, then his left. His gauntlet on his right hand protects him; a small shield on his left deflects smaller blows. A shot rings out; one of them shoots at his chest. He goes down for a few seconds and then gets back up. He opens his robe up a little. “Sorry, boys. Only a headshot can bring me down while I’m wearing this, and I’ll never allow that.”

“Bullet resistant armor?!? That’s illegal, even for us!”

“No, this isn’t resistant; this is proof.”

“What?”

“It is bulletproof armor. My arms are too heavily fortified for a bullet to puncture. And my legs…well, they have their own protection.”

“Well, at least we know that you’ll be slowed down! Surround him!”

“Oh? Am I? I told you, they are special.”

Within seconds, he is a few hundred feet away. He stops and faces the approaching men. “What? Want me to come back to you?”

“Kill Him!”

Midas charges again, dodging and blocking blows as they come. He swings his staff, glistening silver instead of the gold it was before. A few swings bring a third of the men down. He throws a small paper at a few others; they collapse when the papers contact.

“What kind of magic is that?”

“Magic? Nah; there is no such thing. This is just a little power of mine.”

He smiles and runs a few more feet away. This time, he turns and puts his left hand on his right. “So…tell me. Are you Kadrane’s slaves, or his dogs?”

“WHAT!?!”

“Are you here because you’ve got no choice, hence his slaves, or are you just here to do his dirty work because you want to?”

“You dirty—” The leader of the men raises his rocket launcher, aiming to blow Midas to smithereens.

“Well, that answers my question. You’re dogs. If you were slaves, you would run right now. Last chance.” A few seconds pass. They are ready to fire. “Very well, then. Goodbye. I am sorry, but you men are dead.”

He removes the glove on his hand. An intense burst of pain shoots up his arm, but he lets it be. He aims his hand at the men. A few seconds later and a large green glow engulfs the area. When it clears, nothing remains of the attackers. All the metal, all the flesh, has disappeared.

“May you rest eternally, regretting your actions. I can show compassion. But I show no sympathy to those who serve Kadrane so willingly, despite knowing the truth. Those of your kind…are the reason Kadrane rules the world. For that, you are no better. For that reason, you deserved to die as much as he does. Scum like you do not deserve life. And so, with my strength, I destroy you. Amen.” A quick prayer later and he is gone.




Part Two:

Darkness. Fire. Light. Smoke. Coughing. Shaking. Steel being bent. Destruction. Death. All happen in a moment. A few seconds later and it is over. His ship was destroyed. No survivors. All dead. He is the only survivor.

…But not for long. He is drifting in the water. He is barely alive. He is hungry. He is weak. He is on the verge of drowning in the endless ocean. He faces death. He is weak. His breathing is erratic.

Breathe in. Hold my breath for as long as possible. When necessary, exhale and expend as little energy as possible staying afloat. Breathe again. Float above the water. Survive. I cannot die now. If I die, then nobody will know what happened.

A young man watches as the sun rises. The heat feels good against his freezing body. In the waters he is in, the only thing keeping him from freezing to death is his determination. He has seen too much death in only a few moments.

I don’t know what happened. One moment, I was sleeping on the ship. The next thing I know, alarms blazed and I ended up in here. Just drifting. The ship was gone. There were bodies and floating debris.

His ship had been traveling from the Untied States to visit another country. Kadrane Industries was too expensive, so his family decided to travel on a lesser-known company. It was an old ship. But it was sturdy and would get them through. Or so, they had believed. An old mine destroyed the vessel in minutes. Kadrane’s old war machines had killed his family.

Kadrane. I hate that man so much. Albeit indirectly, he had struck again, killing a rival. Now, this young man drifted endlessly in the ocean, just waiting, hoping to survive. I will live. I will not die. I will see to it that Kadrane dies. It seems hopeless. Days have passed. He still drifts in the waters. But at least he is alive. He has nothing to swim on. Only his expert swimming skills keep him alive.

He closes his eyes. He is wearing goggles; they are too tight. He knows he may not open his eyes again—but as long as he concentrates, he knows he can stay above the water. He is tired. But as long as he maintains consciousness, he can live.

…And then, the waters shift. He nearly drowns as the water engulfs him. He can’t breathe. A minute passes. He feels like his lungs are about to explode. He doesn’t give up. Moments later, he surfaces. But instead of the open ocean…he finds himself near a beach. The water has spared me. Thank you. I owe my life to the ocean. I owe my life to the water. I am stronger with my rebirth in the ocean. I will bring Kadrane down…


Darkness. Working in complete darkness. An alarm sounds. The sirens blaze. Light. Pure, blinding orange light. Fire. Smoke. Darkness again. The inability to breathe. Heat. An extreme sensation of heat. The fire burns the flesh. Death. Death spreads. The blaze consumes all. Destruction. A chain reaction. An inferno destroys everything. Metal melts. Oxygen disappears. Everything goes dark.

The worst fire ever recorded engulfs a small plant somewhere in the Untied States—but it spreads. The pyrotechnic is helpless as the fires consume his home. Kadrane’s experiment has gone terribly wrong. A barrier is placed around the city to prevent the fire from spreading. The barrier traps all inside to die a slow, painful death.

The man watches in terror. No! It wasn’t supposed to be this way! Kadrane promised us that this project was safe! There was no way it could go wrong! Our families below would be safe; they would live in luxury!

Now, he traps them in to die. I will die, too. I am trapped in the factory. By all rights, I should be dead already, just like my comrades. But I will not die. Not yet. I will live! Kadrane lied; people have to be warned.


The man goes to the center of where the blaze started. His skin is burnt. His oxygen tank is nearly depleted. He is close to death, but not dead. He looks at the cause of the accident. Containment had been breached. This was the final day of the experiment; why did it happen then? He looks. It was no accident. He is an explosives expert; he knows his bombs. An explosive devise had gone off. Kadrane had manufactured the accident.

That monster! He…he did this? Why? Why did he do it? He had the research, so—wait. He had the research. He didn’t need us anymore. ANY of us. We were all obsolete to him. The entire town was meaningless to him. My wife, my son, my daughters…they all were nothing. We were given a death sentence. This is wrong. Kadrane…is a monster. I have survived. I am weak.

But I will live. Kadrane will lift the barrier around my town. My home. In that time, I will make sure I grow stronger. And when the barrier is removed…I shall kill him. Kadrane must die. He used the most intense flames in existence, flames hotter than the sun, to kill everyone. And with those same flames, he will fall. A man willing to kill hundreds, to kill thousands, cannot be allowed to live another day…



The plane trip had been meant for luxury. Some of Kadrane’s top employees would be traveling in complete luxury for a business meeting. They may not have cared for Kadrane, not being evil themselves, but they still were important figures in the company.

The flight was about half-way through. They were nearing their destination. Then, the pilots died. Closer inspection revealed that they had suffered from a poison. One of the members knew instantly about that poison; he helped create it. The poison was created by Kadrane. He had killed his own pilots.

But that wasn’t all. The plane’s engines failed. The plane was losing altitude. People desperately struggled with the controls in a desperate but futile attempt to steady the plane. A fire started. The plane was falling apart.

The two people who had helped develop the plane told the others that this should not be happening. The couple had created the plane. It would have to be sabotage. By the damage done, they determined they would crash. Their only hope would be to use the parachutes and jump.

The people had all rushed to where their lifelines should have been kept. The compartment was empty. They had no lifelines. They were going to crash; they were going to die. The couple desperately searched all the compartments that should have contained supplies. They found a few things that might save their lives. Those lucky enough to grab them jumped out of the plane.

Now, it would be up to the wind to determine if they lived. Makeshift parachutes were held by mostly a dozen children. They were all friends, since their parents were close. Their age ranged, but they still were close. Many fell; their devices fell.

One of the young men falling watched in despair. His girlfriend was using a sleeping bag, the same thing as himself, to try and make it down. The thing is, she was falling faster. He could only watch as his last friend, one he loved, dropped to the ground.

He heard the plane crash. His parents were dead. He was falling. He would soon join his friends in death. I can’t die! Not now! I want to join them in death…but I want to live more than that! I want to tell others of this. I think that Kadrane just killed my family. I have to do something. I have to live. I must survive. I am falling. But I refuse to die!

A gust of wind lifts him up. The wind pummels him. He can barely breathe. He is exhausted. He wants to let go of his lifeline, yet holds on out of sheer willpower. The winds tear at his face. His hair blows in the wind—but he glides down slowly, surviving. He lands in the middle of nowhere. His legs nearly break—but at least he is alive.

My parents taught me everything about anything related to the wind, the air. Kadrane just killed everything I cared for in what I view as my home. I cannot allow that. I have to make sure that he pays for this. I will use my specialty to bring him down. I will use the wind to blow Kadrane away. He shall be ripped to shreds by my power. I swear it…


“How much further do we go?”

“Until I’m certain that we’ve slipped through Kadrane’s net.”

“And when will that be?”

“When helicopters stop buzzing overhead, the search lights are put out, and he gives up.”

“I don’t think that’ll happen.”

“Until we get to a place that is free of Kadrane’s control that I am certain won’t be put at risk.”

“What does that mean?”

“If I’m not careful, that place could end up being leveled, just because of my presence. I am that important to Kadrane; he wants me dead. He won’t stop. I have to make sure we’re safe. In truth, I have to ensure you are not seen.”

“Why?”

“Unless you have absolutely no family left. I seriously doubt that is the case. If you are seen, there will be ways to identify you. If they identify you, they will track you down. If they do that, then they will find your family—after that…what happened to everyone I know will happen to your entire village.”

“You mean—”

“Yes. Not just your family, but the entire village completely destroyed. I’m not going to allow that to happen again. We need to find somewhere safe.”

“What about my village? It is hidden well and I doubt Kadrane knows about it.”

“Too dangerous.”

“Why?”

“You can never go to your village. It will only allow them to track you more rapidly. If that happens, then you just kill your family.”

“You mean that I can never go home!?”

“I’m afraid that is true. I can’t stop you from going, but it is a large risk. If you go, your family might die. The second you revived me, you condemned yourself to that life. I somewhat regret you waking me up. But we can’t change the past. We are stuck with what has happened. You cannot go home without risking their lives. Period.”

“Then what do we do?”

“There is a village a few miles from here. It is a long walk, but a hundred years could not change it.”

“What good will that do? Won’t it just get us killed?”

“They inhabit one of Kadrane’s old homes. He won’t look there. I know the man; a hundred years can’t change him.”

“But the people!”

“They are the village that watched a good friend of mine die. He didn’t perish there, but it was a death sentence. They were swayed to our cause. They took refuge there a while later. Kadrane has no idea that they are there. It is far enough away that he won’t suspect that we could travel that far. You have my word that we will be safe there.”

“Alright. Let’s go.”

“I must warn you—I run fast. Really, really fast. You might not be able to keep up without some aid. Now, I can slow down, but that’s that much longer before we get to rest. Or, I could carry you.”

“WHAT?”

“You heard me—I could carry you. It’s either that, or a slow trek through this.”

“Alright. Just this once.”

“Well, then, shall we?”

Brian races off at his superhuman speeds, destined for a temporary haven from harm. Once we get there…maybe I’ll finally have a chance to think of what I will do. Kadrane won long ago. So what am I going to do in this age?
Post #: 8
9/22/2008 23:33:26   
mastin2
Member

Chapter Eight:
“Like a Lead Weight…”


Even a titan can get tired. Carrying the weight of Kinomi, Brian is exerting himself. He doesn’t require food. He has nearly unlimited energy—but even so, his joints still ache from the pain of carrying someone for half an hour.

“Are we there yet?”

“That has to be the more idiotic question of all time. Of course we aren’t there yet! We’re still moving, aren’t we?”

“Fine! Are we CLOSE to being there yet?”

“Yes. We should be there any minute. I hope.”

“What do you mean, ‘I hope’!?”

“I have increased strength and endurance…but someone weighing as much as you do strains the latter.”

“If we’re close, then you can put me down.”

“How much do you weigh, exactly, anyway?” Brian puts her down. A nasty glare from Kinomi later and he decides to shut his mouth.

They emerge from the forest, finding themselves looking at a dirt pathway. “No…road?”

“That IS the road!”

“Sorry. I’m just used to black, sometimes gray, roads. That are made from more…modern…materials.”

“You probably have Kadrane to thank for that.”

“Well, the village is a few hundred feet past here. There is a small forest separating it, but there was a private road through it a hundred years ago.”

“Why the forest?”

“All of this property down here, next to what was once a major highway, used to be a tree farm. Trees would be sold here for whatever reason. I had the pleasure of watching the owners lose half of their merchandise when floods hit. They replanted what was lost, of course, and these hundred-year-old trees are what are left. Kadrane bought the area a while later, putting a mansion there. Some of the original farmers and servants formed the village.”

“And a hundred years later, you still think they will help?”

“Yes. Kadrane doesn’t know this place exists, anymore. I believe he thinks they were all wiped out.”

“Where’s the pathway?”

“Just follow me. It may be slightly overgrown, but it should be the easiest way to get there.”

Brian leads her to a small pathway. The trees form arches above them, somewhat blocking out the sun. Grass has taken over and grown tall, but it still is passable. Brian mutters a phrase under his breath; the grass bends out of the way.

“It’s a small walk there. It takes about a minute in transportation…but on foot, it’ll be at least five minutes. You can handle it, though.”

“What makes you think that?”

“Because if you collapse, I’d have to carry you, and neither one of us wants that.”

Kinomi sighs and keeps on walking. She feels slightly tired and is a little dehydrated, but otherwise is fine. The two keep on walking. She takes the time to smell the fresh air of the beautiful forest around her.

The wind penetrates the thick forest, delivering a refreshingly cool breeze across her face. The smell of the grass reminds her a bit about her home; it feels almost…peaceful. The forest braches sway as the wind passes through; now, the heat from the underbrush rises up to relax her.

She looks at Brian. He continues walking as if none of it is special. “How come you can’t appreciate this?”

“I do. Or more accurately, I did. I experienced it every day of my life since my powers awoke. It was lovely. But after all of what I’ve been through, a hundred years still doesn’t change much. While, deep down, I still enjoy it…on the surface, that feeling is dead.”

“You are too serious, you know. It’s bad for your health.”

“No, that’s stress. If I was tense, then that would be bad. Being serious is only bad when I’m being a pessimist.”

“By the way, what were those words that you chanted?”

“Nothing.”

“That translates to something!”

“Not really, this time.”

“Last time you said that, it was life-threatening!”

“This time I’m not joking, though. It was nothing.”

“Just tell me, or I’ll keep pestering you.”

“I don’t submit to blackmail,” Brian laughs, his tough personality melted.

“Pester, pester, pester, pester; just tell me.”

He laughs some more. “Alright, alright. When you woke me, I learned that I had lost some of my strength. I can no longer directly communicate with nature. That means no more asking favors of the plants.”

“So what was that chanting?”

“A vocal charm. Most charms are enchanted onto objects, usually paper in written form. But some can be vocal. This one was simply a way around not being able to tell the directly; it broadcasts a message saying, essentially, ‘please move.’ It works well, and is the closest I can get to them.”

“Charms?”

“You don’t know what a charm is? Well, if you want to learn, I’ll teach you later.”

“How could I learn?”

“Any human can learn basic Charm spells. More advanced ones…maybe not. But if the human is naturally—forgive the slight pun—talented, it is easy.”

“Sounds interesting.”

“After some rest, I’ll teach you. We’re here.”

They puncture through the forest. The village is still there. They make a run for the refuge; they collapse as soon as they enter. “Might you two be tired? We accept nearly all visitors with open arms.”

“It could be much appreciated. Thank you.”




“Look at Brian.”

“What about him, Aero?”

“He’s not the same, Natur.”

“What do you mean by that?”

“He is more…dark.”

“He still has his sense of humor.”

“But his attitude—his responses…his actions. They all lack the joy that he once held.”

“It’s just a little depression. Maybe some sadness and regret, but Brian will recover.”

“No. He is darker than he was. He is more serious. He’s not the same.”

“I fail to see how he’s different.”

“Because of the betrayal, because of his sadness, his regret, he is different. He wants to distance himself from everything. He doesn’t have a cause for living anymore.”

“No; he still has hope.”

“Not true. He shows no signs of hope. He has lost his way.”

“Maybe. But I don’t think so.”

“Why?”

“I think he just needs a little time to sort things out. While Kinomi is resting, he will think it out. He’ll recover.”

“We’ll see.”

“But there’s one reason that makes me think that he’ll recover more than that.”

“What?”

“Kinomi. Look at her. Doesn’t she remind you of anyone?”

“Yes, actually…I see…I see it, now.”

“Like I said, as long as she is kept alive…he’ll be just fine.”




Two hours had passed. Kinomi, surprisingly, was not hungry. Nor was she tired. But eventually, she fell asleep. At that moment, Brian began thinking. He still is. What can I do? Kadrane won. He is the ruler of the world. I failed to bring him down with many powerful allies when he was strong. Now, he is stronger and I’m alone…

“Need help thinking?”

“Yea, pretty much. I thought that four different opinions might be able to help me.”

“Actually, for once, we are all agreeing on the basics.”

“What?”

“We all have essentially the same opinion.”

“And that is…?”

“Try again. That is all you can do.”

“But…so many lives were lost because we opposed Kadrane…”

“And about triple that many have been lost because people submitted to Kadrane. They hate him. They will support you. You’ve got powerful allies around you, Brian. Find them. Gather a fighting force that hates Kadrane. Fight to bring him down again.”

“It failed once. What is different?”

“Time. Kadrane is not immune to time. People hate him. He employs only those who he has to, but even so, about a third of them hate him. Everyone else hates him. He is strong, yes, but his military force is actually much smaller than it used to be. He, himself, is not as strong as he once was. You have weakened…yet you can be stronger if you gather your resolve. The world needs a real hero, now more than ever before. You can be that hero. We need you. We need you to fight Kadrane.”

“That helps. But…how can I put other people’s lives at risk?”

“They already are at risk. Every day, they could die because they are already being hunted by Kadrane. If Kadrane doesn’t get them, then thousands of other things can as well. You have supporters, Brian. They are willing to die for the cause. Every single person in the world has lost so much because of that man. You, as someone who has somewhat successfully opposed him, give them hope.”

“Thanks, Natur. That helps. I…suppose I will fight. I have no other purpose in the world, now. I will give them hope. I will end the suffering. Kadrane will die. He will meet his downfall. I will see to it. For the good of…everything. We need hope. Let’s unify it one last time.”

Brian gets three hours of sleep. He practices his rusty powers until morning, when Kinomi wakes up. “What do we do now?”

“I have no right to ask this of you, but I’d like you to travel with me to give the people hope.”

“What do you mean?”

“I want to bring Kadrane down. He’s brought so much suffering. The living conditions are terrible, here. I think that I can give them hope again. I want you to come with me. You woke me up because, somehow, you have seen great pain. You hold great strength within you, I can tell. I need all the help I can get.”

“Alright. I suppose that’s better than nothing. I will go with you.”

“Good. I’ll start with this village—they may know me.”

He waits until the village has woken up. They all gather when he asks them to do so. “You may not believe me when I tell you who I am—but I am Brian.”

“THE Brian?”

“From what I’ve heard, ‘THE’ Brian is vastly exaggerated. But that is who I am. I opposed Kadrane a hundred years ago.”

A really old man in the crowd speaks up. “He speaks the truth. I recognize him. He really is Brian. I’d remember that face anywhere. I was young, no older than seven. I was extremely sick when he came to the village. I watched as a friend of his took a bullet for my older sister. We all left here for them for a while. There, he healed my sickness. He treated me well. He was friendly. Eventually, we came back here. But I’ll never forget his face.”

“I fought Kadrane, but I did lose. I watched as my friends slowly died. I was the victim of a terrible betrayal. Kadrane destroyed your hope back then, didn’t he? Let’s take it back again! You all hope that Kadrane will fall, right? Well, who’s going to do it? Some stranger? Well, if that’s me, then maybe. But you can’t just wait for him to die! He won’t die of old age. He won’t be killed by a hero any time soon. If we don’t act, then he will continue his reign for a thousand years. Shouldn’t someone do something about it? I will. I will fight Kadrane again, even though I lost once. He can’t rule forever. We can’t let him. I ask you to join me now. To fight him! Bring him down, once and for all. We could fail, yes. There’s always that possibility. But if we don’t do something, he will win anyway! Aren’t you sick of this? Hiding in the shadows? Why not help make a difference?”

“You speak well, but you aren’t much of a speechwriter.” A figure approaches. He walks from out of town, barging in on the speech. The man walks, using a golden staff as a walking stick, slowly towards the gathering.

“I know, I know, I suck. I never really was good at this kind of thing. But everything I said is true, no? If someone doesn’t do something, nothing will change. If the risk of fighting is not taken, then there will be no reward of freedom. Are you happy with your lifestyle, stranger? You don’t exactly look like the type of person who is settled down. In fact, you look like you’ve had to wander around for quite some time. A past incident, perhaps?”

The man’s eyes briefly water. He pushes it away. “Sorry. From the look in your eyes, I’d say that is a yes; I probably brought bad memories to you. You once had a home, didn’t you? Well, just a wild guess, but Kadrane destroyed it, didn’t he?”

“You are correct. But what makes you think you can do anything to stop him?”

“I cannot. Alone, I can do nothing. Alone, a single man cannot take him down. That is the simple truth. As a group, though…if enough people fight, then Kadrane will fall.”

“True…but how do we know you have the strength to back up your words?”

“My strength is as strong as my will. I lost everything; I lost my strength. But seeing this world…seeing what has happened…seeing how far it has degraded…it is pathetic. Kadrane is responsible for it all. Now, I have a reason to fight. You live your lives in a lifestyle this bad. I ask you, how much worse could it get? Not much. It can get better. The world was once free of Kadrane and it flourished.”

“Magically disposing of a tyrant won’t instantly make the world better.”

“You are correct. But as a community, if we are willing to change, then we can make it better. We can improve each other’s lives. If we help each other, if we are willing to help everyone, then things can get better. I swear it: I will not rest well until we can live free. The world as it is right now…is slavery. That is wrong. Don’t you agree?”

“Yes, but again…I doubt your strength.”

“Your points are valid. The only way I can prove my strength is by fighting. I can give petty demonstrations of my powers, giving drinking water, growing crops, and so on…but you cannot know my strength until I actually fight. Am I correct?”

“Yes.”

“Then, might I demonstrate my power by fighting you? You seem strong.”

“You have no idea. My name is Midas Shafter. The Charm Master…”





Part Two:

“Charms?”

“Yes. You’ve heard of them?”

“How could I not?”

“Well, then you know their power. That interesting enough for you?”

“Yes. I believe this shall do nicely. A sparring match, on the hill above, right now. No holding back unless one of us is about to kill the other. Should not that suffice?”

“Agreed. I’ve been looking for a challenge. Kadrane’s goons aren’t any fun.”

“Well, then, shall we?”

The two leave for the hill. Brian readies his sword. Midas readies his staff. The two are ready to nearly kill each other and are ready to fight as such. The villagers watch in interest. They were swayed by Brian’s actions and the elder’s story. But even so, they want to see his strength. No matter how hard Brian tries, he will be holding back—but even holding back, they want to see his power.

“Midas, you move first.”

“You’re going to regret that…”

A split second later and Brian finds himself with a charm on his forehead. The pain is instant; he finds himself paralyzed for a single second. He overcomes the affect and swings his sword, allowing a slash of wind. Midas had charged; he slams into the wall of wind directed at him.

He…overcame the charm so quickly? That charm usually lasts for minutes! Angry at himself for being so careless, Midas swings his staff. Now, the positions are reversed; Brian is charging, expecting Midas to be stunned.

I hadn’t seen that charm before. He’s good…very good. He swings his sword. Midas swerves to the side, avoiding the strike. He swings his staff; it meet’s Brian’s sword. The two exchange a few more blows. Midas throws another charm. Brian counters with a charm of his own; the two nullify each other.

Brian sends a fireball at Midas. He is not surprised to find Midas has dodged. He is surprised, though, to find Midas already behind him. Only by leaping forward does he avoid a staff hit to his back. I am positive that was not speed. An illusionary charm, eh?

“Natur, who is this person? How is he so skilled at charms? How come he knows a dozen charms that I do not?”

“I honestly have no clue. You’ll just have to ask him.”

Midas is above Brian, about to deliver a stab to his ‘helpless’ foe. Brian merely smiles and rolls out of the way, firing another fireball. “That trick again? It only works once, you kn—”

He is cut off. Brian sent a gust of wind with it. When Midas dodged, the fireball exploded. The wind amplifies it; Midas takes the brunt of the blow. Brian smiles and turns away. “I win.”

“Oh, really?”

Midas holds a charm up. “Fire shield charm. I’m fairly sure even you know this one.”

Brian sends a jet of water at his foe. Midas dodges again. He looks at his staff; it glows silver. Perfect…

Brian keeps on throwing little pieces of his magical power at Midas. I can’t seem to get a lock on his style. If I can determine how he fights, then I will be able to send my full power at him. Until then, these are just wild guesses…

Midas faces Brian, ready to strike. Brian sends a fireball, expecting him to dodge. Instead, he blocks with his staff. He…BLOCKED?!? That…was a fireball! He blocked an elemental attack!

Midas smiles. “I have more tricks up my sleeve than you possibly could.” A massive electrical blast streams towards Brian. When he dodges, the blast explodes into a lightning bolt aimed in his direction. He ducks, to find the lightning arch and change direction again.

He creates a wall of dirt to nullify it. From the blast, he can still feel the pain. The shock had managed to get through. Midas is on top of Brian, about to strike him with the staff again.

Brian blocks again. He puts all of his strength into it, forcing Midas back. Midas throws a dozen charms in Brian’s direction. Each of them hits the ground, giving out an electrical field. Brian stabs his sword into the ground; the charms are nullified.

Midas smiles. I’m too hard to predict. He is holding back because he’s trying to figure me out. He’ll never figure it out in time…in fact, I think I just won…

He finds himself directly behind Brian. He prays that the stealth charm he put on when Brian was occupied with his electric field charms hide his presence. He approaches. He raises his staff. He is in for the kill.

And then, a massive roar from the earth erupts and he is clobbered by a wall of earth. “How’d you—”

“Footsteps. Your footsteps. You need a charm to hide them. Don’t you know that one? It is the first I learned…”

I’ve never heard of that one. Who is this guy?

Midas finds a sword missing him by only inches. He jumps; Brian is there to meet him. He dodges and throws another charm; this one produces three clones of himself. The real Midas leaps at Brian; he blocks and pushes back.

Midas looks; Brian’s eyes are closed. He stabs his sword into the ground. His eyes…are closed? How is he…could it be that he is sensing my movements? That he…figured me out? No; he is just getting lucky.

“I told you, a trick only works once.”

The wall of earth passes harmlessly by Midas. Brian is there; he delivers a swift punch to Midas’s cheek. Midas is stunned enough to take a kick in the gut; he goes flying back. The wind ripples through the air; he throws a charm to nullify the incoming attack. He softens the ground with another charm.

Brian launches a stream of fire from his fist. Midas produces a water charm and blocks. The steam forms a large cloud; Midas uses a wind charm to send it a Brian. Brian simply catches it in his hands and lets it swirl around him, growing in size.

This man…has extreme elemental talent.

The steam forms a cold mist, surrounding the battlefield. Since he wants to fight like that…I suppose I shall use my own meditation.

Brian charges through his screen, clearly seeing Midas through the fog. He hits a barrier. Not just any barrier; the barrier is electrified. With the mist in the air, the electricity pours through Brian’s body. Midas stands up. He throws another charm; this one delivers a powerful beam of light.

He slashes at Brian, finding only air. The mist dissipates. Brian cannot be seen. Where is he? Midas neglects to look the most important direction of all—up. Brian kicks Midas in the face with a blow that should knock him out.

Midas is dazed, but still standing. How’d he withstand that? A kick like that should kill a lesser man!

A charm in Midas’s hand fades away. “Thank the lord for barrier charms.” Midas delivers a counter-attack to Brian; Brian feels half of his ribs on his right side crack in pain.

“I am your superior at charms. I admit I do not know a few of them…but I know more than you do.”

“So tell me…is that staff charmed?”

“Yes. It is charmed with holy powers to slay evil. I can’t use its full power against you because you are not evil.”

“What is that charm on your arm for?”

“A long story.”

“Alright, then…one last question…be honest: did you charm either of them?”

“No.”

“How many objects do you know how to charm?”

“A few.”

“Only a few? If I chose to, I could charm almost any object…your boots, for example.”

Midas looks in alarm to his shoes. There, on the bottom of each, lies a charm. The charms activate. Suddenly, Midas is thrown fifty feet into the air and is flipped upside-down. “W-what is this?”

“You’re the charm master; guess.”

Brian retrieves his sword. I think I’ve figured him out. His patterns…his speed…the only things to watch out for now are any hidden charm abilities he may hold.

Brian dashes into the air. Midas forces himself to block the incoming sword. He sends a charm at Brian; Brian blocks. But then, his sword teleports to the ground. “Levitation charm, I’d assume.” Midas hits the charms with his staff, dissipating them.

“Umm…Midas…that might not have been the smartest thing to do—you’re fifty feet above the ground, and you just nullified the levitation charms keeping you up here.”

“I had not thought of that…”

The charms’ last energy is used up and Midas plummets. He throws a charm at the ground; it softens the impact. He can barely get up. Brian retrieves his sword. He approaches the wounded Midas. I win…

Midas smiles as Brian charges. He creates another barrier. Brian sends his elemental powers at it; the barrier holds. Midas begins to meditate, confident in his abilities. Brian crashes into the barrier, expecting it to have dissipated. He is thrown back a few feet, stunned.

“This barrier will not break as long as I hold my concentration, Brian. You cannot get through it with all of your elemental strength. Nor can you go around it.”

“But you cannot attack while in there.”

“Oh? Is that so? Who’s to say the barrier isn’t a weapon itself?”

The static barrier sends a lightning bolt at Brian. Shocked, he barely has time to dodge. Another one comes, and then another. He keeps on dodging. As a last resort, he drives his sword into the ground to create an earth barrier.

“You still can’t get through.”

“Now, what were your words? ‘Oh? Is that so?’ I believe it was.”

“What do you mean by that?”

“Ever heard of tubes?”

“No. Tell me more…”

Brian draws a green tube. “Actions speak louder than words…” He slams it into the ground. A massive vibration travels through the ground; Midas ignores it, thinking it cannot make it through. It does, but stops…harmless. Brian throws his blue tube into the ground; it follows the same path.

“What exactly are you planning? Those aren’t doing anything.”

The water reaches the point where the crack in the earth stops. Then, a giant vine sprouts from the location, rocking Midas. His concentration breaks; the barrier is dropped. Brian throws a red tube down; the giant vine burns easily. Midas is taken off-guard by this; he concentrates on a charm to protect himself from the fire. In that time, Brian closes the gap and punches him in the cheek. This time, Midas goes down. Brian holds his sword to Midas’s throat. “I win.”

“No, actually, I’d win, if this was a real fight.”

“How?”

“You pointed out the charm on my hand…it hides a deadly secret. It contains an extremely powerful attack which instantly destroys a person, even you. If I was that desperate, I’d win.”

“Well, I assume you can’t show me, though I can tell you’re telling the truth, Midas.”

“Needless to say, though, I am impressed by your strength. What exactly are those tubes?”

“They’re just small cylinders. But they are filled with powerful elemental magic. They are one of the most powerful charms in existence; no charm on paper can compare in power. Not even the electric barrier you were creating…however you created that…could withstand their power.”

“I see. So we both have much to teach each other in the ways of charms. For that reason alone, I’ll travel with you.”

“Good. I could use the help. Kadrane has armies that need crushing.”

“Oh, and one thing: work on your speeches. The villagers, I am sure, will support you. They can’t all travel with us, though; they will remain where they are until the time is right. But…really…that speech was terrible.”

“Yea. I agree. Hey, Kinomi!”

“What?”

“We’re going, now. We’ve still got hundreds of villages left to go!”
Post #: 9
9/22/2008 23:36:54   
mastin2
Member

Chapter Nine:
“Accusation”


“You’re just like me, boy. You’ve suffered in that lab. You had experiments done on you against your will. Eros gave us both great powers…at a terrible cost.”

A young woman briefly stares back at her companion, then diverting her attention to the sky. The sunset causes the clouds to flare a brilliant orange. The orange ball of light and fire slowly sets, changing orange to red.

“The sunset…so beautiful, so symbolic. I love it because of the former, yet hate it for the latter. It is so gorgeous, but it tells of how hope dies in the evening. It tells of death, of suffering. Of a long night to come. But at least it is hypnotic.”

She halts her progress, admiring the beauty of the sun setting. When she is ready to start, she again glimpses back at her companion. A small puppy greets her; the black lab runs happily beside whom he calls mistress.

“That form? It must be your favorite out here. I don’t understand why, though, considering all of the time you were…in……there…you were…never mind. The thought of that place…unnerves me. It’s been three months since I escaped. The villagers hardly recognized me. I swore I’d help any others in that lab. All I found, though, was you. The rest had either escaped, been killed, or were transported away. For reasons only you know, you finally followed two days ago. Tomorrow will be the last day I need to go there; I will retrieve the last of your things. Three months of salvaging valuables from there…I hope it will do us some good.”

The puppy leaps onto her foot. He lets out a small whine. “Oh, right…in that form, you want to rest, don’t you? Preferably on a lap or in someone’s arms. Alright; I’ll carry you.”

She smiles at her companion. True to her word, she lifts the dog up. “Now, don’t you dare transform, though. I can lift a small puppy. I cannot lift a ‘small puppy’ weighing over a hundred pounds.”

She repositions her cargo and her left hand to accommodate this change. Her companion rests in her left hand. Her right carries the cart she uses every day on the path. That cart carries salvaged items from the dreaded lab. For all her trouble, she gets nothing, but to Eros, the lab was important; retrieving what can be found could do good. She again smiles as she looks at her already sleeping companion.

“If only I knew you name…Oh, well. Let’s continue on; we’re getting close. I will try to hurry a little; my brother is so picky when I’m late. We’re almost home…”




“Natur…are you sure?”

“Positive. He IS Brian’s clone, after all; I feel it. I know him almost as well as I know Brian.”

“Can you be certain?”

“Yes, Mar, I am! I could not be more sure. I don’t like it more than anyone else, but it’s true.”

“This is bad. I rarely panic, but this gives me reason to.”

“I know the feeling, Aero.”

“Do we tell Brian?”

“No, Mar. We need to see it. Even if Natur is certain of it, we need to make sure. Brian views Kadrane as his largest enemy; all others are either his servants or foes. He can’t see the gray line. We need to see it.”

“But hundreds could die!”

“I agree with Mar, Pyron.”

“It wouldn’t matter. Brian’s too far away to help the people there. We can tell him afterwards. After he sees the destruction, then we can tell him, for certain, the truth. We’ve been keeping secrets from him for quite a while. After this…we can divulge this information to him. He doesn’t want to know the truth right now. We need to wait, to make him want it. It may be painful, Mar, Natur…but we are powerless to change it. We must watch David slaughter an entire village…




So much pain. So much suffering. So much death. So much destruction. I’ve seen it all. In a hundred years, it has only gotten worse. It is all because of my father. He has gone too far. It’s too late to turn back now.

So what can be done? In suffering, I have found the answer. The only way to undo people’s pain is to ease their suffering. I have watched plants and the very earth around me slowly die. I know that it is only a matter of time. Things will go from bad to worse…but then, pain will disappear. I am the only one who can do it. I will ensure that pain is destroyed.

Death and destruction…the hold the key to my plan. I will destroy the world. It is beyond saving. Fires burn halfheartedly. Water is scarcer than it has been in a thousand years. The air is polluted. I must destroy it. I must destroy the word. It is the only way for there to be no pain.

I will start here. This village lies next to Eros’s lab. They have seen great pain. Their suffering is greater than any other village still in existence. They will be the start of my plan. Eros might have left behind something I desperately need. But this, above all else, is for the poor souls down there. I will put them out of their misery. It is only a side-affect that I might find what I am looking for…


From the hill over viewing the village, a lone man stands. By appearance, he is no older than nineteen. But, like many others, his face reveals his age through emotions; he knows a hundred years of pain and seeks to end it.

He sits for a second in his reverie, wondering whether he should actually do it. He had waited for a hundred years; why didn’t he do it earlier and couldn’t he do it later? No; he knows the time is right.

He descends down the hill, racing at inhuman speeds. His speed allows him to reach there fairly quickly. While alone, he would seem to be no threat; visitors with weapons come through the village all of the time, so another with only a longsword would pose no problem. His speed at approaching the village, however, raises some concern; the villagers pretend to ignore it, but many ready their weapons. Within thirty seconds of when he started the sprint, he reaches the edge of the town.

A wicked smile comes from his face; while he knows not a soul alive can challenge his powers, he enjoys a good fight, nonetheless. I’ll be done here in less than an hour. I might finish before the sun disappears.

Screams erupt. Fire breaks out. An earthquake rocks the ground. In his years of existence, his name had become well-known. While that is true, his powers and appearance are vastly unknown; only a handful of people know that he can kill them in five different ways.

Violent winds tear through the buildings. Between large displaced rocks and the wind, the buildings are torn apart. People ready their defenses to the best of their abilities. There are more screams. There is chaos. Death fills the air. Black clouds roll in. The smoke blends in with the clouds. Night would mark the massacre.

He reaches nearly the end of the village. Only one building is left standing; he senses something of interest nearby and doesn’t want to risk destroying it…yet. He steps over the corpse of a recently attacked victim, heading for the household.

“You…monster!”

“No…I am saving you.”

“Death is only a reward for those without hope! You might think that you’re saving us…but you’re not. We’ve suffered greatly, but we have not given up! Only those who work for Kadrane or those who lose hope deserve to die. We would live on, holding onto hope. Now, you try to steal it away?!? I will…I won’t let that happen. I will not let you take hope away!”

He hesitates. The man’s words penetrate his body, shaking him to the core. He regrets his actions for a split second. No…I am doing the right thing. He is wrong. I will kill him. I will kill all who get in my way. I will kill those that suffer the most, and then those who cause the suffering. “Have a name?”

“Yes. But you really don’t care, do you!?! You…you may comfort yourself all you like. You may think your evil is the right thing to do…it’s not. Not a soul alive will believe it’s the right thing to do. Not me, not anyone. You…are nothing but a monster.”

“Such aggression in your voice. Such strength from your soul. I will not be swayed by the world. None support my way because none can see that the world cannot be saved. Tell me…I know I’ve destroyed your village, but what is the thing you truly hate the most about me?”

“Your morals suck. They are wrong…in every sense! Nothing…not a thing…is right about them.”

“Interesting…interesting…my beliefs about the world make me hated.”

“Not just that…the way you treat the dead! You desecrate their tombs. You mutilate their bodies. You show the dead no respect…you just walked over the corpse of my father! He is the last one you killed!...”

“He will live for an hour. I won’t kill him twice, even to ease his passage. If you want to say goodbyes to him, he’ll be conscious for about three more minutes.”

“This monstrosity…is greater than even what Kadrane can do. You…are David, aren’t you? The dog of Kadrane!”

“I was. I admit that much; that sin I will never be forgiven for. I served that monster. He still believes I do. But I am not the same. Now, I am…the liberator.”

David’s opposition grits his teeth and tightens his fists. He is not a real threat to David; he will fall just as easily. He is just a young man, no older than twenty-four. In all likelihood, he is younger. In his right hand, he wields his dagger. In his left, a scythe. He knows that he’ll probably die there. “Sister…I’m glad you’re late.”

David smiles. A cruel, evil smile, but he clearly smiles. This man, this young man…he is so interesting. His morals…his beliefs…his family…what I presume is his home… Yes…this is what I’m looking for…




“Master!”

“You wake me. I dislike being awoken, even though I require little sleep. Speak up and I might not kill you.”

“Brian is awake!”

“For how long?”

“A day, maybe two.”

“That long? Shame on you…I am tempted to just kill you right here because of that failure.”

“S-sorry…master…but I can only get word of things so quickly. He’s close by; I am ashamed of myself for not hearing sooner. Especially considering how he’s not alone and how he’s heading this way.”

“Oh? Is he? Interesting. I’ll have to pay him my…respects.”

“But…isn’t he fighting Kadrane as well?”

“Yes, Hummer, he is. But he is why I’m in my current state.”

“One more thing, sir…I believe a massacre id taking place in a village.”

“Eh? Who’s doing it? Kadrane, again?”

“Not exactly…Kadrane’s pet is on the loose.”

“Good job, my mechanical hummingbird friend. David has similar powers to Brian, no?”

Yes. He does. Identical, with the boost of technology. Similar to you, actually.”

“Well, then, I’ll see if I can find a survivor. This…could be interesting…”




Part Two:

“No…th—th—this…this…this…this simply…this simply cannot be!”

The woman walks into her village, shocked, outraged, terrified. Every building except for hers is gone. Every villager lies dead. Her control over herself weakens. Her sanity is hanging by a mere thread.

“They were…massacred! Murdered! I thought there was a view of the village at sunset. I could have sworn I saw it out of the corner of my eye. There were fine! View or not, I would see smoke from damage like this! How…in only an hour…how could they die?”

She checks her house. Most of the valuables are gone. Her hard work stolen. All that remains are her personal equipment: her customized weapons and armor. She takes them out; they are the one thing she is truly grateful to Eros for.

Nearby, her father lies. His moans show extreme pain; he will die in minutes. He is muttering some words. She can’t discern most of it. All she can hear is, “Man with control of elements…killed them…Took—”

He speaks no more. The last of his life drains away as she manages to look upon her father, her mentor. She breaks into tears. She cries until she cannot anymore. Then, her sadness turns into anger. Rage consumes her.

“How could they die so easily? We’ve been subjugated to experiments. They were terrible…yet they had one advantage. Eros gave us that power. In our suffering…she made us superhuman in strength! Who…who…WHAT could kill them?!?”

“A lone man did this.” The woman swerves around to face a man. He walks in from the hill she just came from. “Sorry. Did I scare you? This was the fastest way to the village; coincidentally, it appears to be the same way you came from.” Her companion lets out a growl; she drops the puppy as it transforms into a dog. He now appears to be an old adult black lab; with a much more powerful form, he barks at the man.

The man tries to hide it, but fails; he is unnerved by this. But she is good at sensing things; unlike it being intimidation as she was expecting, it seems more like disappointment and shock. She hears him whisper something. She can’t make it out, but guesses.

“No…it can’t be…him…Eros did this to him?” He pushes the thought aside and steps closer. He ignores the thought, ignores the presence…it seems like he just became a more intimidating person. “My, my…your companion doesn’t seem to like me.” She stares again; he seems to change. Again, he mutters. Again, she cannot hear him. Again, she guesses. “We were so close…but I am no longer recognizable…”

“Hey, maybe it’s not you, master. Dogs hate buzzing creatures.”

“So true, Hummer.”

She takes a good look at the man. Instantly, from the way he talks, from just his eyes, she can tell he has seen too much. The artificial gray in his iris tells of similar experiments to what she went through. The long, raven hair is tainted with artificial gray. Not from age; by appearance, he can’t be older than her. The gray tells of extreme pain.

“Who are you?”

“The man who knows who did this. You need not know more.”

“How? Were you here?!?”

“No; I was not. I did not know of it until it was nearly over and by then, it was too late. The assailant has been long-gone. But—let’s just say that we have…a long history; I know that man’s mark anywhere.”

“Who? Who could do this?”

“If I tell you, will you kill him?”

“Or die trying!”

“Very well. It was Brian. Brian D. Lewis.”

“He…will die tomorrow. I need to rest tonight…but tomorrow… I…I will…I will kill him!”

The man begins to smile, a wicked grin forming in seconds. She’ll fail. But Brian will weaken. It is then that I’ll strike…




“Brian!”

“Natur? I was…sleeping. I require sleep every once and a while. For you to interrupt me… What’s so urgent?”

“There…there was…a massacre.”

“WHAT?!?”

“I’m sorry…as soon as daylight breaks, you should go there.”

“Who did it?”

“Do you know of David?”

“Of course.”

“I had suspected it before…but had no proof ‘til now. As you know, David’s your evil clone. Kadrane raised him as his ‘son’. He has powers equal to yours in all elements. In addition to that, he has technology as an aid. But through all of that monstrosity, he still has human elements, parts in touch with nature.”

“So?”

“Over a period spanning well above a hundred years, he has kept that thin connection. I’ve felt him slowly crack. He has watched the elements slowly die. He can’t handle the pressure.”

“In other words, he’s insane.”

“Pretty much. Yet another one of Kadrane’s masterworks of destruction. Only he is much, much more dangerous; he could destroy the world with his kind of power. I had no proof until now—without orders from Kadrane, he wiped out a whole village a few hours ago!”

“That’s…that’s…terrible!”

“Yes. It is. I’m sorry that I didn’t tell you ‘til now. But…keep this between us, until you deem it necessary to do otherwise.”

“Why?”

“David’s a major threat. People are too focused on Kadrane. They need to focus on Kadrane; he is who they hate. To be side-tracked by something like this…even if they were to do anything, chances are, you’d end up dead, right now. You need to grow stronger before you take on him.”

“What did he want?”

“No clue. But he’s up to something; watch him.”

“Alright. Tomorrow, I’ll go to this village. I question whether this is the right thing to do…it could end up in disaster. Secrecy and lies lead to more secrecy and lies…so not telling the truth can make things worse. But, you are right…they don’t want the truth, right now. Keep him under constant observation…if something goes wrong…”

“I know. All the elements are watching him. We’ll do our best to limit his powers as well. I’ll take full blame if he manages to do something this bad again. It’s m fault.”

“Don’t feel that way, Natur. Because of me, David has to go through the pain of life. Because of me, he was born. Because of me, Kadrane won. Because of me, Kadrane raised David. It is not you who should bear the responsibility—it is I.”

“That is not true, either, Brian. It is Kadrane’s fault for everything.”

“Aero, your words of wisdom…comfort us. But, simply put…I don’t think that I can forgive myself. And certainly not Brian.”

“Let’s put it this way: It’s all of our faults, but Kadrane is the guiltiest. Got that?”

“Ha, ha…yea, Pyron…I suppose that works. Thanks, all of you. See you tomorrow.”




“Brian, where to next? I don’t want to sleep another night out in the open…”

“Sorry. My bearings are a bit rusty; I miscalculated the distance to the next village.”

“That’s some miscalculation! Why did I choose to come with you…?”

“Why’d I choose to bring someone who complains as much as you d—OW!” Brian rubs his head; while Kinomi does not appear that strong, she delivers quite the fist. “That hurt…”

“Answer my question.”

“Fine. East. I hear there’s a village there which fell victim to Kadrane recently.” He pauses. Technically, he isn’t lying; they did die because of Kadrane. But not telling the entire truth is hard on him, especially with experts at spotting deceit. “I want to investigate this.”

“Alright.”

“It seems like a pointless errand to me.”

“Feel free not to come, Midas.”

“No; you will probably get killed by a mystical force without me.”

“Ha, that’ll be the day.”

“Though, really…Running out of ideas, friend?”

“Oh, shut up!”

“Deserted villages…what’s next? A forest of nothing?”

“You’d be surprised what a forest can hold.” Both Kinomi and Brian let out a slight chuckle before moving on.

“What do you mean by that?”

Both let out their reply simultaneously. “Oh, nothing…”

The walk takes two hours. The sun has risen to the ten o’clock position; they stop briefly for breakfast. “I hope there’s some food nearby.”

“I take offense at that! Apples are great food!”

“Not for three meals a day, two days in a row.”

“Okay, in the future, I’ll try to get more variety. Now, let’s continue on; it’s close.”

Ten more minutes pass. “Close, yet?”

“Yea…it should be down the hill—what’s left of it.”

“How would you know?”

“Magic.”

“Ha, ha…seriously, how?”

“Oh, a little birdie told me.”

“I said seriously!”

“Midas, give up. I’ve only known him a day longer than you, and I already know he’s hopeless.”

“Hey!”

“See?”

“You’ll pay for that…anyway, with my powers, what makes me think I wasn’t being truthful?”

“Because you’re a terrible liar,” Kinomi answers, letting out a chuckle.

“Well, let’s see what’s left down the—” A dagger plants itself deep into the ground, inches from Brian’s foot. “What the…”

Two more daggers land nearby; Brian readies his sword and Midas his staff. Charging from the hill below is a single young woman. She throws another dagger, which Brian quickly parries. From her back, she draws a large blade with a sharp curve. Unlike most weapons, it appears not to have a handle on one side and a blade the other—it is just one giant weapon. The handle is behind it; she grips it tightly. She begins closing the gap. Her back arches as she is seconds away.

“Brian, I…I…I am…I am here to kill you for your sin!”
Post #: 10
11/16/2008 6:15:08   
mastin2
Member

Chapter Ten:
“Family”


“Brian? Sin?”

“I don’t know either, Natur!”

“I had no clue anyone was around. I failed you…”

Brian dodges a swing from the woman’s giant weapon, and then parries another strike. “Only if I die, Natur. Then, you have failed.”

“Oh, great…so, basically, if you die at any time, it’s now my fault?”

“Jup. No pressure.”

“Ha, ha…but, as for the matter at hand…what do you sense from her?”

“Rage. Pure, simple hatred that has spun out of control. Great loss, pain, and suffering. Yup…just another average individual in this world. But she’s a little different. Mislead to believe I am responsible, yes, but certainly not evil.”

“Then you might be able to negotiate.”

“Talk sense into her?!? Natur, easier said than done!”

“You can start with why she thinks you have sinned.”

“Right, I’m supposed to ask the woman who thinks I’ve done something wrong…exactly what I did? Forgive me, but that seems like a recipe for disaster.”

“Would you rather say, ‘No matter what you may think…I probably didn’t do it’?”

“Good point. But neither will do me any good, and I can’t win without risking injuring her.”

“Call me crazy…”

“Okay, you’re crazy.”

“Very funny, Brian. But…what if you didn’t win?”

“Yes…I see. That could do it. I could die a dozen times with this plan, but it just might save both of us.”


“Brian!”

“Stay back! Both of you, stay back. You might want to help me, to interfere with the fight…but look at her eyes. That would only make things worse. Understand, Kinomi?”

“That’s the point! I—”

“I think I understand what he’s saying, Kinomi. This lovely young lady is enraged. For whatever reason, she believes Brian is responsible for something of dire consequence. She wants to kill him, to avenge a loss. If we interfere, we will only injure her further. While Brian could get seriously injured, he won’t harm an innocent soul.”

“Alright. I’ll stay back.”

Brian blocks another strike and dodges another swing of his opponent’s weapon. Her speed with it is overwhelming; Brian can barely keep up. Again, he blocks, the ducks a second blow. Another parry and another dodge follow two more ferocious attacks. After another barrage of attacks, Brian leaps back a dozen feet towards relevant safety. He clenches his left hand over a gash in his right side; the last blow had only grazed him, but that graze was enough to cause serious damage. He leaps back again, hoping to stay out of her reach for a minute.

“I don’t know who you are, but it is clear you believe I have done some type of great evil to you,” he begins, leaping back again to stay out of range of her charge. Another leap and he lowers his guard before continuing his small speech, “And, now, you’re here to kill me. I have killed many before. I hold more regret than most people can handle. I see a similar look in you. So you should understand why I’m not going to resist. Ending my life would remove my suffering. But would it do any good? I’ve done many things I’m not proud of, but none I view as evil. Evil, though, is an opinion. If you truly think of me as evil,” Brian pauses, dropping his sword and extending his arms out. “Then I am yours to slay. I’m at your mercy; make your decision…did I do what you think I did, or did I not?”

His foe shakes. She can’t charge him. She is only a few feet away, yet she cannot get closer. Her resolve weakens. Her weapon tremors violently, shaken by Brian’s speech. She hesitates to strike her foe. This must be a trick! As soon as I lower my guard, he’ll strike back. He killed them…I’ll kill him. So why can’t I move?

“You…lie. This…is a trick!”

“No trick, no deceit. If you are so certain I did it, why haven’t you killed me yet? No manipulation, no charismatic speeches to twist your mind to favor me. It goes against my beliefs to use any technique resembling brainwashing. You are you, right now. If you can’t strike, it’s probably since you’re no longer sure I am responsible.”

“Liar!”

“Now, how do we resolve this? Turning my back on you would be an insult. I will not attack you, nor you kill me. And, now, you accuse me of treachery. I have no evidence to deny that, other than what I’ve already said.”

“You…dirty…”

“Don’t finish that sentence, please. Such language is not something that a lady must be forced to say. I would not forgive myself if you, someone who is usually gentle, had to use such vocal aggression.”

“Oh? And you do you know I’m nice?”

“Very few people qualify as monsters. Those that do not might have an aggressive attitude, but are really calm underneath. A good percent of people are like this, these days.”

“And that makes me gentle…HOW?”

“It doesn’t. Who said I was talking about you being in that category? There is a much larger category that makes up the largest portion of the population. This other is the opposite: one who is gentle by nature, but is forced to act aggressively.”

“You’ve got it wrong!”

“I do? Really? Darn it! I thought, for once, I’d actually be correct! Rats…maybe next time.”

“What gave you that idea, anyway?”

“Your companion. Very few aggressive-natured people have gentle dogs at their sides as faithful followers.”

“Who said the dog is gentle?”

“Well, he’s not barking, nor growling. He isn’t showing his teeth, either. His eyes show sympathy and regret. He’s more human than I am, to be honest. He seems like a companion, not a warrior.”

“You’re wrong. He’ll kill any under Kadrane’s influence.”

“Yet another reason I’m not guilty. I’m not with Kadrane.”

“Kadrane does not cause all evils of this world!”

“No; he causes them all. Sure, he is not directly to blame for many of them, but if not for Kadrane, evil would have died a hundred years ago. All that is and continues to go wrong would not have happened. I, however, failed at killing him.”

“You took on Kadrane?”

“And lost…badly. I bear the scar he gave me on my chest. I was a fool. Taking on Kadrane was the right decision, then and even now. But I was an idiot. The mistake I made was trusting the wrong people. I trusted Eros with my life, for example, thinking she was an ally. My trust, obviously, was misplaced. For that, a dagger in my gut has left its mark permanently as well.”

Eros…was……an ally?”

“I did not know she worked for Kadrane. Nobody did. The whole world thought she was one of the largest fighters against Kadrane. We all thought of her as an ally. But none were as close as I was to her. There were signs that I missed. I didn’t want to think of it. Never once did I doubt her. I spent more time with her than any other; I should have seen it, but I didn’t. I was blind. Do not be blinded by emotions. See the truth, no matter how hard it is. While I might be responsible for the state of this world, Kadrane is who created the monsters in it.”

She wavers at his speech; she can barely keep standing from his speech. He speaks of more pain than she could ever imagine, of deep hidden emotions and pure hatred for Kadrane. She whispers under her breath what she realizes to be the truth: “It…could not have been him. He…he couldn’t have done it…”

“That’s why being killed would be a blessing. I might not have been the one who ‘sinned’. I might not be responsible for who is guilty. But I am definitely responsible for the one who is responsible for the real person who committed the act. I deserve to die for just that, alone. So why don’t I just end my life? Because my death will do the world no service. Killing me might remove some regret, yes, but not only would it never leave you for good, but there’s also the fact that it would do no good. So, will you kill me, for being one responsible in some way, or will you let me live to help bring down the man who continues these evil deeds?”

Midas whistles on the sidelines. Both he and Kinomi decided to watch the scene unfold from a hill above, within earshot of the battlefield. “He’s good.”

“Weren’t you calling his speeches terrible only yesterday?”

“Well, yea, but this one is…better. I suppose that one person is easier than a hundred, in this case.”

“‘In this case’?”

“Yea. Other times, the reverse is true.”

“So…do you think the fight’s over?”

“Yea, but the entertainment is just beginning. How will both react to the speech? What happens next? Knowing Brian, this may be the first fight of the day, but it won’t be the last. Something else will come up. Brian will insist we stay back, so we’ll just watch it like we are now. Brian lives an interesting life, full of combat. His soul might be eternally doing combat until the world is rid of evil and he can rest. Similarly, there’s going to be at least one more fight, today. It’s just getting started.”

The two observe the combatants, the prolonged silence dragging on with not a single movement from any of the four. What breaks the still ness catches the eyes of the observers; a fifth figure is on the move. The dog Brian spotted before steps between the combatants. He whimpers and whines, hinting at his intentions to end the fight. The woman lowers her weapon and collapses to her knees, not able to fight.

“Very well.”

“It is good to see you. Now, we were never properly introduced. Might I ask what your name is?”

“Sanyu. My name’s Sanyu.”

“It is a pleasure to meet you, Sanyu. Now…this has been bothering me: what is it you believed I had done?”

“My village has been leveled. It was burned to the ground last night. There was evidence there had been an earthquake and many bodies lay shredded to pieces in at least four different ways. Some buildings were swamped. I heard about someone with powers capable of doing that kind of thing. I thought you…”

“I see. It’s true that I have that kind of power, but I did not commit that act. I think I know who was responsible for it, even without the elemental traces. With them, my theory is confirmed. Only one I know of could possibly do this besides me.”

“Who?”

“David. Kadrane controls him like a puppet. So, Sanyu…now that you know who did this, will you help me bring him down?” Brian offers, extending his hand.

Accepting his help, Sanyu stands up and grabs her weapon. “Yea.”

“It’s nice to know that I have an ally with skills such as yours. Rest a little, now, though; you probably exerted yourself in the fight. In the men time, I’ve got a companion of yours to thank.”

Brian walks over to the dog and rubs the canine’s ears. Stroking the animal’s back, he expresses his gratitude with a thank you and more attention. The dog lets out a happy moan, perhaps the closest a dog can come to the happy purring of a cat. The sound reminds Brian of a time long past…but then, he thinks that it’s almost…too familiar. Looking closer at the aged dog, he senses a sensation of familiarity. The look in the obviously old dog’s eyes portrays a sense of companionship that Brian has not seen in a long time.

“Wait…no…it couldn’t be you, could it? Jimmy…what did Eros do to you?”

“You know him?”

“Yea. He was my family’s dog. No wonder he was so friendly; he knew me after a hundred years! Oh, you poor thing...it’s because of me that you’re like this.”

“Don’t think of it that way, Brian. Think positively. He’d be long-dead otherwise; feel happy to see him.”

“Thanks. That helps. But…why’d you ask about me knowing him?”

“It’s…nothing, really. Just…it’s just that…something earlier that I thought I heard—”

Brian’s eyes widen. “Wait a second…how’d you know my name and what I looked like? How’d you even know I had the powers that could destroy your village?”

Sanyu is shocked by Brian’s sudden urgent attitude, but answers. “A man who visited me earlier.”

“Who? Was he the one who told you I was responsible?”

“Yes…but why would that be import—”

“What did this person look like? Who was he?”

Now, Brian’s concern can clearly be seen by anyone in the area. Midas and Kinomi now can see how Brian is alert, bothered by something. The elements can sense his distress. They know something is terribly wrong.

Then, Natur’s thoughts of Brian’s distress are sidetracked by a figure he senses rapidly approaching. “Brian! There’s something coming here…fast! It’s a powerful presence. This presence is equally strong to that of David!”

“Brian! I detect a figure coming in at high speeds. This figure is powerful; we need to be on guard.”

Brian confirms their feelings. “I sense it too. Forget telling me who was with you earlier, Sanyu. We have a larger issue at hand.”

Brian looks at Natur, who is becoming increasingly frightened. “There’s more, isn’t there, Natur?”

“Yea…I feel that this figure’s power is immense. It’s so great that I can feel his soul’s power. He could easily take you down. For a while, I thought it might be David, but…”

“The figure bears great hatred, but is not evil, correct?”

“Yea. It seems…”

“To be directed at me; I know.”

Addressing all in the area, Brian again warns them. “Back away! Go as far back as you can; things just got much, much, much more dangerous.” Clenching the wound on his side, Brian knows that this was all planned out; he could be in trouble. “Go! NOW!”

Sanyu and Jimmy run for the hills, joining Midas and Kinomi at their viewpoint. A strong wind hits the area, carrying a menacing aura with it. It may not be evil, but those not trained to sense evil would mistake it as such. Midas is unnerved by it, even from his location. “Any idea who it is?”

Natur is also puzzled as to how Brian would know what he did. His senses are great, but they shouldn’t have been able to know that quickly what it was. “Brian, sometimes you scare me. How’d you know, exactly, what I’d say?”

“Yea…I know who it is. He’s here.”

Before anyone can ask what Brian means, a figure familiar to Sanyu drops in…literally. The gust of wind he was riding disappears and he draws a longsword, approaching Brian slowly. Multiple voices ring out the same question at the exact same time: “Who is he?”

Brian desperately dashes back to retrieve his sword for what he knows is an upcoming battle. The effort causes him more pain in his side, though, but he grits his teeth and ignores the pain. “Clever…dirty trick as usual, I see. Weakening me before battle is not a tactic I’d use. It’s been a long time…brother.”


Part Two:

“Brother?!?”

“Yes. He’s my older brother. He knew of my powers from our conversations a hundred years ago. That’s how he knew of me. By being alive, I can only assume that Kadrane got to him; that explains the feeling of hatred directed at me that I felt. He was away, finishing college; I thought he’d be safe.”

“But I wasn’t, Brian. Kadrane found me. He found me even before the massacre at our home. Instead of killing me, I was experimented on. You…” his eyes glow with hatred and he clutches his sword tighter, “have no idea how bad it was. You don’t know what I went through. Elemental power flowed through my body, but did not blend with it. That should have killed me; I wish it had. They kept me alive with their equipment; while it failed, it only made me stronger, strong enough to endure more experiments. When that failed, they resorted to technology. Countless injections, countless hours of pain, modifications that I still don’t fully understand to my body and more; these atrocities are just the tip of the iceberg, my brother. From this, they created me, a superweapon prototype. Where they went wrong, however, is the fact that this weapon has a mind of its own.”

He pauses for a second, letting it sink in. “I escaped,” he clenches his free hand into a fist, “and massacred them all. I wish Kadrane was there; I would have done what you so miserably failed to do. I had escaped, yes, but was not the same. I could no longer age. I’ve been cursed to roam the land…like…like…this,” he nearly comes to tears as he extents his hands to show off his battered body, “for a hundred years, no thanks to you.”

“Dan, I’m sorry for what you’ve been through. Because of me—”

“Sorry?!? Sorry doesn’t cut it. Sorry can’t return me to normal.” Dan’s rage boils over; the hatred in his eyes manages to burn Brian without any physical flame. “Sorry can’t let me live a normal life. Sorry won’t get me my life back. Sorry…is nothing. I hate Kadrane; he did this to me. I hate David; that weapon is a dog. But most of all, I hate you for ruining my life, the lives of our family. Dad’s dead. Mom’s dead. They all are dead. I was about to graduate. I was going to start a normal life. I had a future. And, because of you, that future is gone.”

“You are correct, brother. I destroyed your future. Kadrane would have eventually ruined your life—like he did with so many others—but I sped it up. I also failed to stop him, when I could have a dozen times. I cursed you to live a hundred years. But the past is the past. Learn from it; don’t let it drive your actions. You can still hope for a future.”

“I cannot.”

“At least you could help the world…help dispose of Kadrane.”

“Like how you helped the world a hundred years ago? I think not.”

“If nobody tries to make the world better, then it never will, Dan. If we don’t try, it’ll only get worse.”

“I don’t care, anymore. I’ll do what I wish…when I wish. I might wish to kill Kadrane later; at that time, Kadrane will die. I might help the world however I can someday, but I do not feel like it right now. Right now…right now…I want to kill you. I want you dead for what you’ve done. You might have rapid regeneration abilities, but you’re still wounded from earlier; weapons designed by Eros leave a nasty mark, even in those with regenerative powers. You die now.”

In a flurry of movement, Dan charges. Brian manages to block the fury of the attacks, ignoring the wound he received earlier. Another barrage of attacks follows; Brian manages to barely block again. His brother is outmatching him in speed and Brian feels the superior strength of his blows.

He grits his teeth as another round of attacks hit his sword; he cannot block a stab which grazes his face, allowing a scratch to bleed. After a few more of these, his brother is frowning. “Is that all you got? This sword isn’t even enhanced in any way. Or, am I just too good for you?”

Brian knows he expects a greater resistance. “Are you holding back? Do you want me to strike you down for what you have done? That doesn’t sound like you, Brian. Am I just that good?” He ignores the taunts and continues blocking and dodging. He smiles. It had been long enough. He changes strategies and parries a blow, followed by a counter-attack that misses Dan by inches.

“Be careful what you ask for. I was merely observing your strength and speed, not to mention attack strategy. If you were holding back, then you should not anymore. If you have another strategy, use it, because you don’t stand a chance, now.” He swings another blow at his brother, who manages to block it, sending Brian back.

“I doubt that.”

“Oh? Then come on. Prove that this wasn’t just a stroke of luck.”

The two reengage in battle. Brian blocks many of the blows. Every time he parries, he lunges forward in a counter-attack. Every time he dodges, he slashes back at his brother. He proves his worth as a swordsman after countless strikes; his brother has the speed and strength advantage, yet he is still winning. Dan’s sword cracks. Brian’s sword is magically enhanced with elemental power; only the most powerful swords in the world can destroy it. Dan’s regular longsword doesn’t stand a chance. More cracks form and the original grows in size. After another trade-off of attacks, his sword shatters into a thousand pieces.

“Oh, well…it was just a scrap of metal. I always did prefer katanas, anyway. If I really wanted to, I could use these fragments as a weapon, but that would be boring. But that was something…else, now, wasn’t it? I see…so it’s still true to this day.”

Dan begins to smile for a brief second. It is a legitimate smile; it is not the evil one that he had previously shown. “Even with your superhuman abilities, Brian, I bested you in hand to hand combat that one day that you came home. No matter the time period, I’ve been stronger and faster. You just get lucky fairly often. You believe your luck sucks and that I’m lucky. It’s true outside of combat; your skills fall short to my luck. But inside of combat…your luck is greater than mine, even if that luck is low. I admit, though, even without the element of luck, you are the better swordsman.”

Dan’s smile fades away for a brief time. He takes his longsword’s remains into his left hand and discards them, pointing his right hand at Brian. Now a smile reappears, but this grin is far more wicked, more sinister. “So, I cannot win in a sword fight with you, at least, not as I am, now. I could try hand to hand combat, but, personally, that’s not nearly lethal enough for my tastes. What to use, then, to beat you? The answer is simple, really. To win, I’ll use strength.”

Brian’s eyes widen as he realizes what his brother is going to do. He braces himself for the impact to come, raising his sword and crossing his hands in an X-block to absorb the damage. Using a great deal of elemental strength, he creates a massive wall of earth to protect him just as his fears are realized; a massive blast of wind hits only seconds later, disintegrating the wall. Not even the wall was enough; Brian gets pummeled by wind into his gut, stunning him. Debris from his own wall creates many small cuts on his arms, but he ignores the pain.

His brother launches a blast of flame from his other hand; Brian tries to match the flames with his own, but is forced back by the heat. Natural flames cannot burn him, but the flames of his brother scald his left arm. A jet of water rushes towards him; he knows his own water stands no chance against the wrath of his brother’s power. He again creates an X-block, hoping his arms will take the brunt of the blow.

He is knocked back several feet, stunned by the massive power in the water. He feels like a waterfall just hit him; he struggles to stand up. His clothes feel more damp and heavy than they should. His heat fails to dry them. I can assume that some type of chemical was mixed in with the water to make it more deadly. If that was pure water, my clothes would not be heavy. If it was normal water, then I’d be able to just use a small amount of flame to get rid of it.

“My water jets create a stream more powerful than what you can muster. Their power is much greater than three waterfalls in one. I’m holding back, you know; my full power is ten times what you have experienced. I don’t know what they added to the water, but it makes the aftereffects even greater.” The smile on his brother’s face never fades, actually growing larger as Brian realizes that his own face—for just a split second—showed fear.

“My wind’s vortex outmatches the strongest hurricanes and tornadoes; yours is nothing, in comparison. Again, I am holding back in our fight. That was nothing. Yet it defeated you with such ease. How pathetic. My flamethrower is chemical-powered, producing a heat greater, thicker, stronger, and much, much, much more intense than what you can muster. Oh, and that longsword…was just a toy. Yes, I prefer katanas, but I have other weapons as well. I have no earth powers; I have something more powerful. It can’t take care of rock walls you make, but my wind takes care of that, even with you using your own wind powers, with plenty to spare. This thing is my true strength, the thing that Kadrane made me for. My strength: metal. It is something more powerful than any nature-based object; I can create a blade that can cut through yours, even with your elemental enhancements; it will kill you.”

Desperate, Brian is about to pour the last of his strength into his sword, in a last effort to create something capable of matching his brother. He knows this is bad. His brother’s right hand is ripped open as a long blade attaches itself to him. “Oh, how original. A blade attached to your arm; I’ve only seen that in three Anime before.”

“Well, it works, you know.”

He realizes that his effort would be futile against that blade; the glisten from it means that it is a chemically enhanced blade stronger than his own. He takes one look at his sword when making this deduction and it is then that he realizes it: his sword is larger than it should be. What could cause my blade to—water. His water. It may be full of chemicals, but it’s still water. I see. So, to win, abandon all offense.

A jet of fire streams from his foe, the orange and white mixture telling of the heat. With only a fraction of the energy needed to fight fire with fire, Brian summons a shield of water. It dissolves into steam as soon as the last flames pass, his brother’s attack rendered harmless.

Angry, his brother sends powerful winds enhanced by the steam towards Brian; he merely creates a spark. The steam, itself, would prevent it from igniting, but with the great mixture of chemically-enhanced winds, he sets it ablaze. Because the flames were not chemically-produced, they are harmless; Brian absorbs the fire for an extra boost in much-needed power.

A blast of water follows; with a mixture of soil and seeds in the way, a small garden grows in seconds. Brian is fighting with barely a fight; this is the way he was originally trained. In some elemental charts, opposites nullify each other. If that were the case, fighting fire with fire would waste just as much energy as fire with water. But the real elements work differently; Brian had taught himself this way and mastered it. While he used fire against fire later for fun, his core training remained. Now, he is using it to win with great ease.

His brother charges with his metal blade; Brian engulfs his sword in the flames he absorbed earlier and blocks. His sword gets a small gash in it, but his brother’s sword glows red-hot; much more, and it’d melt. Enraged, his brother punches Brian in the face.

“I could do this all day. It’s actually kinda fun, fighting you like this. You?” Brian laughs at this; his brother can’t help but give a small grin, disappearing rather quickly.

“If I wanted to. If I were fighting at full force, not even the element my attack is weak to would be able to stop me. Fighting fire with water, wind with fire, water with earth, and metal with fire; you were cleaver. That’s the natural order of the world. While fire and water nullify each other, the water is stronger. While wind and earth match each other in power, wind is beaten by fire. Water is absorbed by the earth. Earth, itself, cannot be beaten, but nature and metal are melted by fire. It’s a good strategy; I might adopt it.”

“So, you still insist you could beat me very easily?”

“Certainly. You might not be fighting at full force, but you are close. I, however, am not; my full power makes me…no longer human, to say the least. But you’re not worth the effort, brother. I’ve got…plans for the future. Despite what you think, I do have them. They are not anything like I originally intended, but they are going to…revolutionize the world. Killing you is a waste of time, Brian. I’ll find some use for you in my plans. I’ve vented my rage for the day; you are more valuable to me alive. Until next time, brother.”

He turns his back on Brian, preparing to leave. “Wait!”

“It was nice talking to you, but I have other matters to attend to. Kadrane is my enemy as well, but we are not allies, Brian; I have larger things planned. There are things…different about me, now, Brian. I’m not an enemy, nor an ally. Simply put, I’ve got plans that could make the world a better place, but just in my own way. These things are not something you want to get close to. I am a third side in a battle, Brian; I ally with a side only when it suits my cause. We may have fun, we may have common enemies, we may eventually work together…but we would eventually be enemies. There are greater forces at work than what you can see, Brian. I cannot go with you. Goodbye.”

As quickly as he had appeared, Dan disappeared. A gust of wind and dust blinds the group as he makes his escape, not to be seen again, with luck. With his departure, the group feels like fighting for the day would end. Things would return to normal. A few hours pass, Brian giving the group food and water out of thin air using his powers. While they had started the day with a fight, they spend most of the day doing nothing but giving Sanyu’s deceased village proper burials. Eventually, night sets in; the group gathers in the center of the ruins that were Sanyu’s village and Brian lights a fire. They begin conversing about the day’s events, discussing their future plans.

“So what do we do now, Brian? I’ve had all day to think about it and still don’t know.”

“I’ve also been thinking about it, Kinomi. The same thing as yesterday, I suppose. We go searching for those who will support our cause. We’ve got many allies already. While my brother may not be an ally, he has stated that he has plans; those plans probably involve the fall of Kadrane.”

“Speaking of your brother…you say he likes Japanese things?”

“Yea.”

“Even names?”

“He took years of Japanese in school.”

“Well, I think I know who he is. He said that, at his full power, he wouldn’t be human, right?”

“Something like that.”

“Well, then, I believe him to be Shishou. Shishou is a man who spent most of his time wandering through Japan. He was covered in some type of armor that gave him great power.”

“Shishou means master, right?”

“One of the definitions of master, yes. There are others as well. He was called by other names, such as former master, dead master, and dozens of others related to master. Shishou is just the one most commonly used.”

“I have a theory why, but I’ll keep it to myself.”

“Something related to a common past?”

“Yea, his name is roughly half of another name I know of.”

“Ah. I see. Well, he is a great figure in our history; he has done many deeds of heroism and terrorism in Japan.”

“How would you know, anyway, Midas?”

“I’m one sixth Japanese.”

“I figured something like that.”

“Deduction powers?”

“Bingo.”

“Alright. Enough of that, though. Let’s go back to what we are going to do. So we go to gather more?”

“Precisely. It’s the best course of action I can think of. The world has been under Kadrane’s influence for well over a hundred years. Let’s see his reign come to an end. But there needs to be something done for that. For Kadrane to fall and peace be restored, we have to unite the world for the slim chance of happiness.”

“Happiness?” Sanyu speaks up for the first time since her fight with Brian. Tears roll into her eyes; she had lost everything. She barely trusts Brian. She still doesn’t know what to believe and what her emotions are; she feels like Brian is manipulating her. “I am half-convinced you’re manipulating me, Brian. I…still can’t shake it off.”

“Sorry. But it does need to be said. I would never manipulate someone intentionally, but the subconscious mind is something that we cannot control. You don’t know what to do; you experienced your loss just today. But, through sadness, we can hope for happiness.”

“After what we’ve been through?”

“My, my, you pretty young lady; Brian brings up a good point. All of us have suffered. We may not have said it before, but we’ve all gone through what you have. We’ve all been lost; we’ve all got hatred. We all have wild emotions. We’ve all felt manipulated. We can use those feelings, that suffering, to hope others never endure it.”

“Pretty much; Midas nailed it, Sanyu. While not necessarily Kadrane’s fault, we’ve all suffered. None of us can know exactly what you went through, but we all can get the idea with similar experiences.”

“Oh? How about your friend, Kinomi? Correct me if I’m wrong, but—”

Kinomi sheds some tears; Sanyu shuts up. It isn’t an act; she can tell there’s pain in Kinomi’s eyes. She has suffered as well; that much is clear. “S-Sorry.”

“You’re just frustrated. I understand; it happened to me as well, Sanyu. While of unavoidable circumstances, not at all related to Kadrane, loss hit me hard as well. There are few you can talk to who have not lost something.”

“I can guess what this loss was, but I’d prefer not to. I’d do it to comfort you, Sanyu, but I would not wish to damage Kinomi’s feelings any further. That goes for all of you. Our pain can give us strength…but it isn’t something I’d like to bring up.”

“No, Brian; this is important to me. It’s important that this be known. My father died a decent time ago. He taught me most of what I know, and then…he was gone. That’s not something I wished to go through again.”

“Not quite what I was thinking.”

“What do you mean?”

“I’d…I’d only hurt you further.”

“No; even if it hurts me, I’m too curious not to know.”

“Your Japanese name makes you the second sibling, no? You told me this before.”

“So you figured that out…I had an older sister. She and I were close. We were even closer after our father died. Years ago…there was an accident. She was crushed. With her gone, I only have half the family that I once did…”

“And it’s only worse, now, no thanks to me. Because of me, visiting her current family would place them in danger. She can’t go home until Kadrane dies. It’s something none of us really want to talk about; do any of us really want to stay on this topic?”

“After one more question. What about you, Midas? You speak of loss, yet you show no signs of it yourself.”

“I hide it well. My arm’s the only evidence of this. It has a history like none other. I lived in a wealthy village. I was taught charms as a kid and was raised on nature’s laws—this comes with a despise of Kadrane. When I was older, I was given an assignment to the nuclear power plant facility. It was no ordinary power plant. Terrible things were being done, special radiation deadly to all. Contrary to popular belief, not all resistance was destroyed when you lost against Kadrane, Brian.”

“I know; they were crushed twenty years later.”

“Nope. Not even then. Some, especially in Japan, lived on. I was a member of this resistance. Being raised as a charm master, it was only natural. I was also raised as a scientist, so I was considered the best and brightest, a natural candidate for the job at the plant. It’s what the resistance wanted. They’re still around today, but I’ve lost all my contacts to them. But, at the time, I was an inside spy. Eventually, once I had the specks, we were going to disable the power plant without causing harm to the environment.”

“Let me guess…things went wrong.”

“We never got the chance. When Kadrane got word of a rumor that a spy had managed to infiltrate his facility, he destroyed it in a self-destruct, along with the village and most of the surrounding area. Some in the village lived because of the distance away from the plant, materials in their houses, and luck. Most died. All inside the plant…were fried. I was in the plant; I did my best to shield myself from this special radiation, utilizing my charm knowledge to its maximum.

“It worked…kind of. My right arm was irradiated. It would have spread and killed me. I had to seek aid from my master, my teacher. He survived as well. This,” he waves his arm, “is the best he could do. It will slow the radiation, but not stop it. It is also a weapon that I can use when I’m desperate enough. Whenever I release it, a powerful blast of the radiation will pummel my foes. This increases my degradation, though. It will slowly kill me without a cure.”

“Let me guess: Kadrane has a cure?”

“Bingo. If I don’t get that cure eventually, I’m toast. For years, now, I’ve been searching for a way to get this cure. It’s not so easy, you know, since the second I survived, it was obvious I was a rebel, out to be destroyed.”

“Now we know.”

“Yes, and I’ve also got a price on my head.”

“Good to know, in case you ever get too annoying.”

“Hey!”

The group shares a laugh; Brian’s comment removes the dim mood of the area; even the fire itself seems to glow brighter. Brian smiles. “We’ve all have a reason to fight Kadrane, be it personal or a necessity. We’ve all lost something. We all have a terrible sense of humor.” Again, there’s around of laughs at Brian’s last part, before he decides to continue. “We all want to make the world better; we all want evil destroyed. We’ve got so much in common, so much that is different. I can say you’re like family. So, what’s next? We gather up a greater number, a fighting force for hope. And, at its heart, our adopted family away from family will keep on fighting. I don’t want us to ever forget that.”

With that comment, the group agrees and begins to fall asleep. Brian, himself, begins pondering things, hours later joining his comrades’ state. He has family, both by blood and by bonds. While they might be across the world, he has a force ready to follow him, no matter what. He has a fighting force, with Kadrane—for the first time in over a hundred years—at risk of falling. This time, he’d succeed. This time, he would not fail. This time, he’d live, with hope stronger than it ever was before…
Post #: 11
11/16/2008 6:22:20   
mastin2
Member



(End of Part Two, “Fighting Force”)



Chapter Eleven:
“Nature’s Seed”


“Where were you, David? You’ve been gone since yesterday. That’s not at all like you.”

“I was investigating a rumor, father.”

“Oh? And what rumor could possibly take all day?”

“A rumor…is stating that there’s a rebel rallying the populace.”

“There’s always someone doing that. It’s unavoidable. I can control most of the world, but I cannot control the people. Most bow to me, but even in this day and age, I have some competition. I’ll always have a ‘rival’. These ‘rivals’ are nothing in comparison to what they used to be and are crushed easily, but I’ll never be rid of them. Why did you take interest in this particular one?”

“This one is said to be powerful enough to handle your troops. People believe he can take on a whole army with no support at all. More than that, this rumor is larger. It’s said he has already rallied a great number of villages to his cause.”

“Rumors are exaggerated. I still see not why you’d take interest.”

“It is also said that this person performs miracles. Acts that defy all know science, such as healing the sick with no medicine and providing food and water out of thin air. One last thing about this rumor…they say he could possibly take on you.”

“Is it Shishou? He caused so much pain in Japan. Not anything like this, but it was still bad. Because of him and my policy, I nearly had to wipe all of Japan out! It’s a shame that he chose to wander around a land that has been known for rebels; I had to kill people on merely rumors. My favorite experimental plant fell victim to this as well. It was a great pain to get rid of this resistance. It probably still exists to this day, but now that Shishou is gone, I don’t have to worry about it.”

“No.”

“No to what? Me not having to worry about Japan?”

“Again, no, father. You don’t need to worry about resistance in any area except for where these rumors are currently coming from—around our current location. I mean no to this being Shishou’s doing.”

“What makes you so certain?”

“It’s not just said that this person possibly could take on you. It’s also said that this person fought you one-on-one.”

“Impossible. If that were the case, then they’d be dead.”

“Which is why I went to investigate it.”

“Alright; it makes sense, now. Thanks for the clarification. What did you find out?”

“Inconclusive. There was no evidence to prove or disprove the rumor.”

“Nothing? You learned nothing? After searching all day, you came up empty? Not a location, not a name, absolutely nothing at all? That doesn’t sound like you, David.”

“I shall give you what I know, but by my logic, it is inconclusive. They say he’s on the move, but exactly where he is, I do not know. While varieties exist on the name of this individual, most do say it was one name. From just rumors of a name and no location, there’s no evidence to support the claim, nor any to falsify it.”

“Oh? What would this name be? I’m interested to know. Names can be everything, you know. They can give more evidence than you think.”

“Brian, dad. It means little.”

“WHAT?!? He’s dead!”

“As I said, there was a lack of evidence. With just that name, it is likely that he is dead and the rumor is false. With the evidence provided, there is an equal chance that there is an individual running around this area. I cannot reach a conclusion.”

“I see. We should play it safe, though, just in case. It would make sense, if you think about it long enough. Insane? Yes, but that’s what got me here—insane things that make sense only to the most demented people.

“Send spies and assassins out to find this person. I want the best of the best to be on this manhunt. I need to make sure I’m wrong. I barely beat him last time, despite how he was so injured; without Eros, I might have actually lost. David…this is important. It’s an order that—if not properly followed—I might actually kill. I need to find out for sure, and pray that it’s a lie. I hope he has not returned. I despair the thought…of him returning, my old foe…”


“Brian, we’ve been traveling for over five days, now, at least since I joined you three. And, yet, I have yet to rest in a good bed.”

“You’ll get used to it. While, I admit, it was not as bad a hundred years ago, returning home wasn’t always an option; I spent many’-a-night in open fields. I adjusted to it after a period of time. It makes you appreciate a stay in a good bed all that much more.”

“It rained last night. I was miserable.”

“If you want, I can always give you a charm that will help you rest. My charms are on par with Midas’s, you know, so I can help you. Just…give it some time. Eventually, you won’t notice a thing.”

“I’m agreeing with the fine young lady, Brian. My charms can only do so much. You have no right to talk about it; you ‘adjusted’ with the help of elemental power. We do not have that luxury. We need decent sleep.”

“Most of my companions—with no help at all—adjusted as well, you know.”

“They were just being gracious.”

“Or they had better protection in different landscapes. Either way, you’re losing this argument; we need to stop soon at a village to rest.”

The group stops and stares at Kinomi. They all expect some type of argument against Brian and agreeing with Midas and Sanyu. “What? Something wrong? I enjoy it!”

“That’s a little creepy.”

“Again, I agree with Sanyu.”

“Well, don’t worry about it, anyway. In five days, we’ve visited three villages. All of those villages we visited during the early hours of the day and then left in the afternoon. We’ve done well so far, and have seemed to avoid Kadrane’s eye. If we find another village today, I’ll let you rest. Seriously, though, sometimes I think you two are spoiled. It’s actually really relaxing, once you adjust. I swear; it’s so…heavenly, actually. Stargazing, hugging the earth…I love it.”

“As do I. Everything except the downpours and cold chills is good with me. I admit that I was a little miserable last night, but I got a decent amount of sleep and was at ease.”

“Face it: you two are hopeless.”

“Am not!”

“As funny as that response is, I must correct our fine companion. They’re not hopeless; they’re two of a really, really strange kind.”

“I’m nothing like her!”

“He’s nothing like me!”

“Midas, I think you just might be right about that.”

“I’m telling you, I’m—” They stop when they realize that they are saying the same thing. A short silence follows before Sanyu and Midas laugh.

“On second thought, you’re right. They’re hopeless!”

“Hey!”

“Two hopeless souls of the same kind.”

The two share more laughs, Brian and Kinomi not speaking. They travel for a few hours in silence. Kinomi occupies her time by staring at the slowly-passing scenery. Midas and Sanyu continue with jokes about Brian and Kinomi. Brian spends the time absorbed deep in thought…and breaking up arguments between the elements.

Bored after hours of this, the four try conversing with each other again, going from dead serious to completely joking in only minutes. They lighten the mood up a great deal when a few jokes are exchanged, causing the group to break into laughter.

As they are traveling up a hill on the dirt path they are walking on, a whiz passes by Brian’s ear. It takes him a while to realize it wasn’t random. While more whizzes pass by, none are noticed; his attention was focused on the first one. Purely by instinct, he pushes Kinomi to the ground and dives for cover. “Duck!”

“Where?”

“This is no time to joke, Midas; get down!”

Seconds after Sanyu and Midas comply, more and more whizzes pass by. They become more frequent, as if the source of this had increased. “Bullets. Lots of ‘em. We could be up against a small army; be careful. I believe that all of this force has arrived; I estimate there’s a minimum of seven, but don’t even bother asking what the maximum is; there’s no way to tell.”

“Or it could be a group of assassins. You said it yourself—we’ve seemingly avoided the eye of Kadrane. Even though this is true, we probably have attracted unwanted attention.”

“What can we expect?”

“If so much as a rumor of you were to pass to Kadrane, then he’d want to know if this is the truth. Assassins would be sent to find any group who seems suspicious and try to confirm if it’s you. They have no evidence until they actually capture you, though, so this group probably was just in the right place at the right time to encounter us. We can end this quickly. If I use my—”

“Don’t use your arm’s power. For one thing, it could kill you. For another, we don’t know who these people are. They’re probably Kadrane’s best assassins, but they could just be people here at the wrong time. They could be saved; I refuse to kill those that can be redeemed. I won’t stop others from killing those people, but if I can stop it without harming either side, then I will. Besides, depending on how well they’re prepared, they may have hostages.”

“Charms?”

“We need to get closer. I don’t have any long-distance charms, and I doubt you do, either. My attacks have a range; I can’t dispatch our attackers from this distance. Judging by their accuracy—specifically, their lack thereof—they’re quite a distance away. I need to be closer to be of any use.”

“Could you make an earth wall?”

“Theoretically, yes. But those won’t do any good. They will absorb bullets for a brief period of time, yes. But they only work for so long. In addition to that, I do have limits; we need to get closer for me to actually be able to use them to any extent.”

“Okay, all of you, listen up: I’ve got a plan for us. I’ll distract them with an illusion charm. Brian will get closer while their distracted and create the walls to temporarily protect us. Then, I’ll disarm their guns.”

“And then, you, Brian and I pummel them?”

“Basically, yes, though I’m reluctant to let a pretty young lady go into battle. Just because their guns are disabled doesn’t mean they’re not a threat.”

“We could need her. We don’t know their numbers or skill, and you said it yourself: without guns, they are still deadly. She’s proven herself a warrior. The three of us will charge in. Jimmy…could you make sure Kinomi stays out of harm’s way?”

The dog nods. “Wait!”

“Do you have close quarters combat experience? Even if you did, it’d still be too dangerous. These people are probably trained killers. They don’t know that you’re here, in all likelihood. Please, Kinomi…stay back.”

Reluctantly, she agrees. Midas throws his charm and the three charge. Brian creates a tremor in the ground near where their foes are, destabilizing the group long enough for him to create rock walls. Being close enough to see them, he can now make out the details of the group.

The enemy is small in number, but each has a hostage in their free arm. He shoots a fireball at one and knocks the person unconscious, allowing one hostage to escape. He then ducks back behind his earth wall to avoid a hail of bullets. From the safety of the wall, Midas throws a powerful charm, enhanced with his staff’s power, electrifying the air in such a way as to disable the weapons. He and Brian pant from the effort, but recover and attack their foes.

Two more are knocked out by their attacks and their hostages released before the group knows what’s happening. Midas, Brian, and Sanyu are in their midst, attacking any who leave themselves open. The hostages are discarded, along with the now-worthless guns. Each remaining foe draws a weapon in one hand and some type of taser in their other. Some show fear, but most show signs of being battle-hardened killers.

Two of the assassins have gun-versions of the tasers, both firing at the charging group. Brian and Midas are both unfortunate to be hit by this weaponry. Brian drops to the ground and lets go of his weapon against his will, the shock overloading his senses and keeping him down.

Midas, on the other hand, is stunned by the shock, but recovers and is otherwise unharmed. He charges into combat, knocking those two assassins out cold. He and Sanyu plow through the enemies. He uses his charms to shock his enemies back, and with well-placed staff blows, manages to knock a good portion of them out. Sanyu is doing equally well, delivering lethal slashes from her weapon.

The two have disabled a dozen of their foes, plus the ones earlier taken out. Now, only a small portion remains. Sanyu smashes the skull of yet another attacker, missing a foe behind her that is ready to strike. Midas notices this, but tries to charge into the attacker instead of warning Sanyu. He’s too late, as Sanyu gets tasered, going down and joining the still-disabled Brian.

Midas manages to knock the assassin out cold and gets three more before he, too, falls victim to these attacks, taking a bottle to the head. He collapses, stunned by the force of the blow. Of the original enemy group, only three are standing, with two recovering. Within a minute, though, it is already over.

Even though they are battered and bruised, the assassins just won. They remove the stashes of weapons the three contain and then chain the three with special handcuffs to a nearby tree. They are just as shocked as the three, slowly recovering combatants; both sides had actually predicted the opposite outcome. The fact remains, though; they just did the impossible. Where millions had failed and only Kadrane had done so before, they—a small group—had just beaten Brian…


Part Two:

“Did we…really just do that?”

“Yea, unless we’re all in the same dream.”

“How?”

“It’s fairly obvious; we stunned them.”

“I know that, but…how’d we do that? None have actually managed to stun Brian!”

Brian stirs. “Are these people really them? They went down too easily. We shouldn’t be here!”

“You saw their powers! It must be him.”

“But that’s the thing! We…shouldn’t have won. Like I said, none have managed to stun them. What did we do differently to achieve this? It couldn’t be him!”

“Actually, I’ve been stunned many times before. It happened often, though only the first two hurt as much as what I feel like right now. Congratulations on being only the third group to capture me.”

Attention instantly shifts to Brian. “He’s awake!”

“Really? Wow. He’s already awake. It must be him.”

“Is it? Come on, no person would go down that easily. He certainly isn’t going to just let us capture him, unless he has an escape plan. With the cuffs he has on, that’s impossible. Brian wouldn’t just fall like that because of a simple stun gun.”

“It must be him. Everything fits. Wow…this was easy. I think I chose the right career. This is my first mission. Though I had help, it was still…easy. I can’t believe that I was so scared of someone who was actually rather—”

“Say weak; I dare you to.”

“Err…I’d rather not, thank you very much.”

“You’re intimidated by a man chained to a wall? Ha! Shame on you. Unless Brian’s powers are really what they say they are, messing with your mind.”

“Hey! When did that become part of the story?”

“Still think it isn’t him?”

“Only way to know for sure would be to interrogate him.”

“I suck at in—”

“Will you four newbies just SHUT UP?!? You’ve each broken half a dozen rules of the assassin. I only agreed to come with others claiming to be assassins because the task couldn’t be done alone; by all odds, the only ones left awake besides me are… AMETOURS!”

“Umm…didn’t you just break a rule or two?”

“What? How dare you—”

“He’s right, you know.”

The five begin arguing, ignoring their prisoners. A sixth manages to stumble until he awakens as well, joining the veteran’s side of the argument. The six debate fiercely, their concern over their prisoners diminished. Midas moans and wakes up, followed shortly by Sanyu. “What happened?”

“We lost…rather badly, I might add.”

“Yea, that much is…painfully obvious. What I want to know, though… How?”

“Debatable. Especially considering the condition of those six. They’re all fighting over so many things and have lost attention on us. Two of them give the appearance of the most veteran assassins in existence. The other four seem like they are new to the job. But the two veterans shouldn’t be arguing. I guess that us getting captured so easily has unnerved even the toughest of assassins. I don’t think Kadrane himself wouldn’t be agitated in this situation.”

“That doesn’t answer my question, though.”

“My theory is that we need to work more as a team. I’ve taken out thousands at a time, but not without help. I’m a little rusty in that form of combat. It’s also been a hundred years since I have been shocked. My battle with you, Midas, helped, but I haven’t fully recovered my powers just yet. That’s just the scratch of the surface as well. Midas, I think you weren’t working with Sanyu when I went down, nor Sanyu with you. It wasn’t any of our faults, but a combined flop on our parts. We formed a strategy. We stuck to that strategy as best as we could. But once real combat began, it was each for him or herself. Another factor is that we might have subconsciously thought that we would get freed, no matter the outcome. Kinomi hung back; by doing that, she is our hope when we’ve lost our own. Anyway, when we get out of this, I strongly suggest that we need to work on that.”

“Agreed.”

“As do I, but…one thing.”

“What?”

“How exactly are we going to get out of this?”

“Haven’t thought of that one, yet. Ideas?”


“That IDIOT! How could I possibly get him out of this one?” Kinomi observes the scene. The guards are arguing. Her companions are chatting. While possibly discussing a way out of the mess, she can’t take that risk.

“Jimmy, I’m going down there. If they seem like they’re going to notice me, I will need a distraction. I hate to ask it of you, but I must, for Brian’s sake.”

With that, she charges down the hill towards the group. The guards fail to notice her, their vocal fight allowing her to get there unnoticed. The second she gets there, she takes a look at a somewhat startled Brian. From him, from the person who has so much hidden that she cannot see, she can observe two emotions: the first is anger. By rushing down the hill, she has put herself in danger, against his request to stay back. The second is his gratitude at her coming. He can’t say those things; it would just put her at risk, drawing attention to her.

After this brief pause, she stops staring at him and focuses on the task at hand. She uses her keen eye to observe what could get him, Sanyu, and Midas out of their prison. Their hands are cuffed to a tree, but their feet are not. The guards have the keys; stealing them would be too much a risk. She knows she has only one move: the guards had left the weapons stash of her comrades a few dozen yards away.

Brian, Midas, and Sanyu each have powers which they can use without their weapons, and probably without their hands. From this, I can assume they are unable to do that at the moment. Those handcuffs seem too tough for me to break, but a weapon…it could be possible.

The plan is formed. With the details she now has that she was lacking from the hill, she has formed her plan. If all would go well, Brian would go free. It would not take much to break her companions free.

A howl comes from the hill; the guards are spooked. All but two are too frightened; the other two increase their vocal assault against the other half-dozen guards for being scared of a simple wolf’s howling. Kinomi knows that it is only a matter of time before they run out of things to argue about and actually begin to stop fighting; at that point in time, there’d be no chance of rescue.

With this distraction providing at least a minute’s distraction, she grabs Brian’s sword. To her, it feels light, but seems to burn her hand and slash at her skin. Not only that, but while it feels light, her hand feels sluggish. Ignoring this, she heads towards Brian. Snap; she breaks a twig. Half the distance has been covered, but the guards are very close to her. The guards swerve to face her and they curse at the oversight. Any chance of them arguing disappears; the half-dozen begin following the two, heading for Kinomi, only seconds from reaching her.

She breaks into a sprint, trying to get to her companions before the guards get her. While she is close and had gained some ground, eventually, she knows that they will outpace her, catching up to deliver a finishing blow.

Realizing she won’t make it, she tosses the sword to Brian. By misfortune, it misses, landing next to Midas’s feet. While not what she had hoped for, she hopes it will be enough to free her friends. Now, all she needs to do is stall the guards for a minute or two.

She changes direction to the exact area the earlier fight was. The fallen guards from before are still there. At her speed, she can’t stop, but manages to swoop down and pick up a fallen guard’s weapon, a longbow. Unfortunately for her, she can only grab one arrow on the move; to go back and grab more would be a death sentence, as she would not be able to fire even a single shot.

She is afraid. She only has one shot; to waste it would be a death sentence. It’s then that Jimmy leaps down from the hill. Now, he is no puppy or dog, but rather, is transformed into a giant black wolf. White threads dance around his feet and mouth, showing his ferocity. His growl tells of how he is not to be messed with.

Two guards flee. Jimmy brutally attacks another guard, who flees after a harsh bite and an extremely painful shot of wind energy through his spine. Only three new assassins and the veterans remain, but Kinomi only has one shot and carries no other weapon. She knows she could probably be outclassed by even the newer assassins in hand to hand combat; she doesn’t stand a chance, if nothing else interferes.

Jimmy is her last hope. He bites down on one of the veteran assassins’ arms, hoping that the solid grip on it would be enough. He is ready to release a discharge of wind energy and maul another, but is tasered by the other veteran guard and thrown aside. She is desperate again.

This time, a bird from above swoops down and starts attacking the unwounded veteran. While the six guards and the wounded veteran recover and slowly go on, this one guard remains back, his veteran skills still being no match for the nuisance of a bird. A swarm of birds soon joins in, completely overwhelming the man. The grass in the nearby fields extends into the roadway, binding his feet. Roots sprout out of the ground out of apparently nowhere to slow down the others, giving Kinomi more time.

A voice pops into her head. “Don’t worry; we’ll protect you. You haven’t learned how to master your powers yet, but it was still enough to summon us. We’ll walk you through what you need to do. First of all, fire your arrow at the guard we’re distracting. Aim with all of your concentration; focus your mind on the target. Archer or not, it is important that you don’t miss this shot.”

Kinomi concentrates. She loses all other thoughts, all other sights. Her eyes are focused on one thing: her target. She projects the course of the arrow and takes a brief measurement of the wind.

Knowing time is short, she shoots with no further preparation, hitting her target. “Good. Now, we’ll distract the guards. Take a few roots and intertwine them. Then take three blades of grass and space them out evenly around the diameter of the roots. Finally, take a sharp rock from the ground and put it on the end opposite from the grass blades.”

Confused as to what all this can do, Kinomi hesitates for a brief second, but complies, knowing she only needs thirty seconds more. The assassins appear to be ready to attack back; she knows she must take at least one more out to hold out. “Now, concentrate all of your energy into these objects. Focus a hundred percent. Forget my voice; forget everything. Imagine an arrow in place of the objects you currently possess.”

Kinomi has trouble concentrating her energy into the ‘arrow’. She can concentrate on hitting an enemy, yes, but that’s due to archery experience. She does not possess the ability to actually manage the feat. “I can’t do it!”

“Well, it’s good enough. The grass and rock are fused to the twig, it’s arrow-shaped, and probably will work. Target the one who’s wounded; he seems nasty. We can’t stay. Just trust us on this one, okay?”

“Alright.”

Concentrating her remaining energy into the shot, she fires and hits the assassin in the left arm. Instead of merely stalling the guard like she had thought, however, roots spread from the wound and he lets out a cry of pain seconds before he collapses to the floor, dead. The vines spread, the guards backing off a little. It dissolves into ashes, taking the body of the assassin with it, its purpose fulfilled.

“What’d I just do?”

“Let Brian teach you. We must leave, now. To stay any longer would only cause you strain and harm us.”

“Thank you.”

“Anytime. We’ll always be here if you need us again. Brian has gotten to the point where he doesn’t need help, but I’m sure he still misses the companionship of us, so could you please say this: ‘Bird’s descendant says good luck, we are happy to see you back, we hope you beat Kadrane this time.’ He’ll understand.”

“I will. Farewell, for the moment.”

The grass contracts. The birds scatter. The three men left don’t know what to do. They had remained when the others had fled, determined to continue their lives as assassins, even if it meant following veterans. Now, with those veterans dead, however, they aren’t so sure. Should they capture or kill the girl? Should they flee for their lives and abandon their lifestyle? Indecision and fear grip them, trapping them in place.

“What now?”


“That idiot.”

“She might have just saved our lives, Brian. Don’t call Kinomi an idiot.”

“Yes, but she just put herself in huge danger.”

“So?”

“Meaning she could die; she also violated my wishes.”

“What do you expect? It’s probably in her nature, as other things are for you. It’s not a large deal.”

“What is a large deal is that she missed! I don’t have my sword.”

“Yet. It’s within reach of my feet. I agree with the fair young lady next to me; don’t call her an idiot.”

“That’ll hurt. Do you know how much pain can be delivered from simply gripping the hilt? I don’t know how Kinomi managed to do it!”

“It doesn’t matter. We have to get free somehow; we can’t be chained up forever. Kinomi is depending on us. I’d hate to ask a pretty young lady to do the same, but I can’t get the sword directly to you, so that means we’ll have to both experience a little pain.”

“I’ll manage as well. No need for concern; this is for Kinomi.”

Two cries of pain later and the sword was at Brian’s feet. “I warned you that it’d hurt.”

“Whatever. Just cut your chains so we can get out of here.”

Thirty seconds later, they were all free. Another thirty and they had all their equipment ready. Knowing that Kinomi would need them, they charged to where Kinomi was heading when she changed directions, hoping she had managed. What they see when they actually arrive shocks them. Birds, grass, and some type of vine all swarm a group of men before dispersing.

“What now? Do you three just stand there? I don’t know what I did, but it killed a man. Before that, I shot another.” She has a hard time hiding a slight feeling of guilt over killing two men, even in self-defense, but continues on to shake them some more. “I’m worse than Kadrane. Do you really want to mess with me?”

The three are terrified, but remain still. Brian approaches from behind. “I know what. You all leave. You turn back. You give up the art of killing and return, blend in, with society before it’s too late. Over half of your original numbers have died. Only a few remain. Of that half, only half retain consciousness. You don’t want that life, do you?”

They scatter. With the presence of Brian, the need to stay alive overpowers all their other senses, causing them to flee to join their comrades. Kinomi collapses to the ground, glad that she’s safe, that Brian rescued her, even if it did come a little late. Jimmy recovers and reverts to a puppy again, happy to be with his mistress, former master, and two close companions. The group sits down for a while and joins Kinomi to rest for a while.

“That was a brave thing you did, Kinomi.”

“I’d call it reckless, foolish, and dangerous, Midas. You almost died, Kinomi. It could have been worse. Didn’t I tell you to stay back?”

“It saved you. I saved your life, and this is the thanks I get? Maybe next time, I’ll just—”

“Don’t get me wrong. I’d normally be in the mood to argue, but not now. I’m grateful for what you did. I truly am, Kinomi. But…I never want you to be in danger.”

“That’s impossible these days. Danger is everywhere. It’s just a matter of how much, and when it strikes. Besides, I think I proved my capabilities as a fighter.”

“Yes, you did. That was nature elemental power you were using; it would explain why you could wake me. You’re a gifted nature user, possibly more than I. You should experiment a little with it; I’ll teach you, if you want my help—if, for no other reason, only to help you protect yourself in any situation where I can not. I hope never to see that happen, though. Experiment with it when you can.”

“Alright; I will.”

“But…still…for me, please…be more careful in the future. I don’t want to lose you.”
Post #: 12
11/16/2008 6:29:16   
mastin2
Member

Chapter Twelve:
“Fall of Words”


“I’m kinda impressed, Brian.”

“Oh? How so?”

“It’s been three weeks since I joined you. Since Kinomi used her powers, we’ve only fought thirteen times against Kadrane’s men. We’ve managed to convert ten villages and rest in a real bed four times. Only once have our abilities been seriously tested since then, and we still did good. Oh, and you and Kinomi only fought once during her training.”

“Hey!”

“Seriously, you two talk about that far too often.”

“See, Sanyu? I agree with him for once. We don’t fight.”

“Except for when you get frustrated at training or I manage to get furious over your own powers, since your nature powers are greater than mine…and far more dangerous.”

“True.”

“Wow. I was expecting that line to ignite a fight between them.”

“True, but it…” Midas whispers to Sanyu, “is probably because recent incidents have made them realize certain feelings.”

“Ah.”

“What’re you two talking about back there?”

“Oh, nothing.”

“Seriously, you’re talking to the master of ‘nothing’. ‘Nothing’ always means something.”

“We’re taking guesses as to where we’re going next.”

“A village that once was Kadrane’s vacation home. We’re not going to actually visit the village; we’re going to the nearby waterfall. It was once a park; I doubt it still is. I’ve heard that Kadrane has kept it relatively the same, only adding newer things to areas already with technology. I doubt we’ll be able to convert them; that’s why we’re not going to the village.

“To this day, I hear it’s a popular place. You’ve been complaining that you needed rest. While you may or many not have actually adjusted, I think you still need it a lot. While we might have trouble getting in, once inside, we can do anything.”

“He’s gullible.”

“Yea. He could just not care enough, but I am agreeing with you, there.”

“What was that?”

“Just me saying that I’ll get us in.”

“Really? That’ll be interesting. We’ll almost certainly have trouble convincing them we’re not enemies.”

“Watch and learn. How long?”

“Four hours, on foot.”

“Seriously, you don’t need to say ‘on foot’! What else would it be? On our companion?”

“Sorry. Old habit. And, technically, half of us could ride on Jimmy. He’s a strong boy; with a wind-enhanced wolf form, he’d carry two of us. But, really, that’d be unfair to—Hey!”

Before he can finish, Midas and Sanyu are on Jimmy’s back. “Don’t worry. We’ll only stay up a little ahead of you. We won’t leave you in the dust, but we’ll stay roughly ten minutes ahead of your current pace.”

“Alright. I rarely get tired, anyway. I could probably keep up with them, but I don’t feel like running. Will you be fine?”

“Of course. I’d probably be able to handle running, though that only wastes energy.”

Brian smiles, yelling back to Midas. “Well, we’ll see you there!”


“I don’t believe it. The gate’s opening. Midas got us in.”

“I figured he would.”

“In thirty seconds? It takes two minutes for me!”

“I’m an expert, Brian. You might’ve done it on occasion a hundred years ago, but I do it far more often.”

“What?”

“He’s a con artist, Kinomi. He’s scamming them. It’s a cheap tactic, yes, but sometimes, even the most charismatic speeches will only get you shot and thrown out. We’d normally be able to get in with a bribe; the guards don’t ask questions if well-paid and this place is open to any visitor who can afford it. But we look suspicious, have resemblance to the four most-wanted criminals in the world…and we’re dirt poor.”

“Ah.”

“That was too easy. I told you; leave it to the pro, me.”

“How’d he get so good?”

“Oh, just a pastime I enjoy.”

“Which is…?”

“He cons villages under Kadrane’s control.”

“Pretty much; Brian’s got the right idea. If we ever go to one of those villages…well, let’s just say I’d rather sleep a good mile away.”

“Anyway, we’re in; we might as well make the most of it. We’ve got an hour’s hike down to the—”

“Or we could just go down the elevator.”

“Elevator?!?”

“Face it, buddy…you might have heard a few more modern facts about the area you plan to go to next, but…your info is a hundred years out of date.”

“Oh, well. Anyway, there’s a nice, cold waterfall down there with a nice, wide river as well.”

“I hear that an old processing plant has been turned into a hot spring and has a nice steam bath as well.”

“Well, good to know. We’ll stay all night here before moving on. I’m going for a swim; you three can do whatever you want.”

“Fully dressed?!?”

“Yea, of course. How else would I swim?”

“In a swimsuit, like normal people!”

“I don’t see why.”

“Well, for starters, we do NOT want to stick out in a crowd; doing…that…sticks out a lot!”

“River’s empty. There’s nobody over in the area that I want to swim at.”

“And for another, you generally want dry clothes to change into!”

“It’ll be dry enough.”

“Swimming in a river?!? There’s no possible way to keep dry!”

“Yea, of course I will! Seriously, I do the impossible.”

“I fail to see how you’ll do this one!”

“Like,” Brian holds his palm out, creating a fireball over his skin. “This. Instant drying.”

“Whatever. I’ll change into a swimsuit like a normal person. I’ll see you down there in five minutes.”


“So, enjoying yourself, Kinomi?”

“The cold water’s relaxing. It feels so good. So, yes, I am definitely enjoying myself. You?”

“I wish I could say the same. Instinctively, my body temperature will adjust to a setting that keeps me warm. It’s such a strong instinct that not even freezing cold water is a match for this. I’m incapable of naturally feeling the cold. To do so, great concentration is needed. And when I do perform this task, it seems so much like it is: unnatural, manmade, and faked. Not only that, but the concentration needed deprives me of other fun that I’d normally have in the water. It’s not worth it.”

“That’s…terrible.”

“Yet another one of the not-so-few disadvantages of my powers. I only hold onto the memory of that feeling and, even then, it’s not the same. I’m glad that I’m the only one here who has this curse. For every blessing, there are two misfortunes. I’m lucky, though, that the blessings can be cherished five times as much as the curses. Still, those with abilities such as mine seem doomed to face lack of emotion or feeling, betrayal, and extreme loss. The blessings keep my hope together.”

“You really have seen so much, haven’t you?”

“Yea, I suppose so. I’ve only lived for less than twenty years, yet have lived six lifetimes.”

“Funny. A hundred years of existence, and a hundred of suspended animation.”

“Yes, quite ironic, but it is truly just coincidence. It could have been five or five-hundred years; I’d still say the same thing. Death and betrayal can shake a person to their core. But the memories of the dead and those of the betrayers—as long as you don’t see them as such—are treasured many times greater.”

“Like Eros, correct?”

“Yes…” Brian pauses, deeply pained by the mention of that name. He gathers himself together to finish the answer. “Like Eros. I prefer to shut those few seconds away from my memory and interpret moments that were likely just her manipulating me as her giving me advice when I most needed it.”

He…I see his feelings through that mask of his. It’s getting weaker. I understand this feeling, now. I think I know what he’s feeling. “Well, I’ve had enough fun in here. I’m going for the hot springs. Want to join me?”

“I’d love to, but like I said, I can’t feel it.”

“Heat as well?”

“Even more so.”

“How about the steam?”

“A hundred percent humidity or zero; I can’t tell the difference.”

“Alright. Well, it could be crowded in there, anyway; since we don’t want to stick out, I think it’d be best that you not come at the moment.”

“Agreed. So, when will you be back?”

“I’ll probably go to our beds. I don’t require food anymore, as sad as that is, but do require some sleep. By going to sleep at the same time as the others, I’ll wake up fairly early to prepare.”

“Makes sense. But I’d still like to see you before then, just to check up on the safety of the group.”

“Midas told me we have two large rooms. Initially, he thought that you and I would be in one, with him and Sanyu in the other. However, I hear that one room is much better than the other; he was polite enough to forfeit his position to me, leaving the girls in one and the guys in the other. Since you stay up even later than I will, we’ll all see each other before retiring.”

“Alright; I’ll see you then.”


Part Two:

Kinomi freezes in place. On her way to the steam room section of the hot springs, she sees someone who she knows almost as well as Brian, at least, from what she has heard. She needs not to have ever seen this face to know the person that millions recognize. Eros…

She continues walking, trying to ignore the infamous woman. Unfortunately for her, Eros appears to be heading towards the same location. She tries to hold her tongue, her slight hatred for Eros begging to be let loose. Under her breath, she mutters a single phrase, satisfying herself. “Inu.”

“Watch your tongue, young lady!”

Kinomi swerves around to face Eros, playing dumb with the now-angry scientist. “What? Did I do something wrong?”

“I have good hearing. I heard what you said.”

“What? I don’t see the problem. What’s so wrong with saying ‘Emu’?”

“Nice try. You know as well as I do what you said, and who it was directed at; no others are around.”

“I don’t understand…”

“I speak Japanese, baka! It’s obvious you do as well.”

“So?”

“I dislike being insulted, even if it’s true. Oh, and sorry for the insult, even if it was instinctive. I suppose what you said was as well, albeit worse. I’m a fairly forgiving person; I’ll forget I heard that. Care to join me? I like your attitude and I’d love the chance to practice a little Japanese.”

“I’d rather not.”

“It’s fairly obvious you have a dislike for Kadrane; if this is suspected, you could be thrown out. While I’d never tell anyone, I need not tell someone for you to look suspicious for refusing my offer. Besides, we’re going the same place; there’s no reason to change your plans. Please, do come; we don’t want people to get suspicious.”

“Alright. We can talk.”


“I really enjoy this place. It reminds me of my home.”

“What happened to your home?”

“It was destroyed in a fire. Kadrane was one of the primary corporations that were fighting it, but it certainly wasn’t out of good heart.”

“Let me guess: something of value would’ve been lost?”

“Yup. I don’t know what it was, but it was something. It was too late for my home, though.”

“What reminds you of it?”

“Steam and a river. The two were separated by a hundred yards, but the setup was similar in nature. I enjoy this location. Kadrane gave me permission to restore it after he, himself, abandoned it.”

“It’s nice; I’m glad it’s here.”

“Yea. If it weren’t for what I do on an average day, it’d put my mind to ease.”

“I can’t say I understand that one.”

“Very few can. Well, we’ve been chatting for two hours, now. We’re both comfortable; that is clear. Surprisingly, we have yet to properly introduce ourselves. We haven’t really been doing much Japanese; I’d enjoy using the first greeting I learned.”

“Sure; go ahead. I’ll use the same one.”

“Alright. Hajimemashite…Kareruson desu. Dozo yoroshiku.”

“Callerson, right?”

“Hai. That’s my last name. Most people know me by my middle name, though.”

“Which is…?”

“You wouldn’t have called me ‘traitor’ earlier if you didn’t already know that one.”

“Ah. Right.”

“Your turn.”

“Umm…”

“Don’t give an alias, please. I don’t care if you’re the most wanted criminal in the world or just someone who just wants her identity a secret; you have my word that I won’t tell anyone that you were here.”

“How’d you know?”

“You hesitated, as if thinking. You’ve obviously got far too much knowledge of Japanese to hesitate.”

“Wow. That’s good. And it came with a mini-speech as well.”

“I learned from the best, you know. Now, please, I’d love to know who I’m talking to.”

“Well…alright. Hajimemashite, Kuwentun desu. Dozo yoroshiku.”

“Quinton? As in…Kinomi Quinton?”

“Hai.”

“You travel with Brian!”

“As you can see, it’s a good reason to hide my name, especially around someone who could easily use it in a way to harm me.”

“I know the feeling, believe it or not. A hundred years ago, I was in your position.”

“Weren’t you faking it?”

“Never. For one thing, the only person who knew who I was working for was Kadrane; I was at risk from every single one of his soldiers. I could’ve easily died, back then. I kinda wish I had, actually.”

“What about information? Were you faking the missions, giving Kadrane warnings?”

“Again, never. I didn’t give Kadrane information; it wasn’t my job.”

“What about location?”

“Okay, I told him that, but only the location of our base, and only because he threatened to just nuke the whole area if I didn’t tell him. That would’ve been game over right then and there, if you get the picture.”

“That evil, right?”

“Actually, not so much. Desperate would be more accurate. He was evil, yes, but a hundred years change a man. He’s still evil, but has shown compassion. This place, for example, remains largely untouched.”

“That all?”

“Nah; there’s more. Even a hundred years ago, he did show some signs of concern for life. Today, he’s more compassionate. While he could crush all of his remaining competitors, he simply waits for a chance to buy them out or discredit them, if he has to.”

“What about you? Rumors say that you can be worse.”

“Can? Yes. Am I? Well, not in my opinion. I’m sure others view me as worse. But, to me, things are different. I was instantly impacted by Brian’s ‘death’. I really was happy, back then, before the massacre. Looking back, I don’t know why I accepted the job Kadrane offered. If you asked me, I’d never be able to give you an answer. Maybe it was my way of trying to minimize the losses, or maybe I was just simply greedy. Either way, it was too late.”

“Every action went from bad to worse.”

“Precisely. And the one chance that I got to strike back, to undo the damage, was lost when I betrayed Brian. If I had helped him, we wouldn’t be in this situation; Brian, with motivation, was so close to defeating Kadrane. He really respects Brian as being one of his largest foes; a few more minutes of that pounding, and he would’ve been killed by Brian. I…mad a terrible mistake. I do hope he’s faring well, but, honestly, I don’t think Kadrane can lose to Brian, now. Not even with help. Still…I hope he does. I want him to win the fight, for the world to have a shot a peace. I want him to feel happiness that I took from him.”

“So why don’t you do something?”

“In a twisted way, I suppose I have. But, in reality, I have done nothing. Experiments of mine over the last hundred years have all grown to hate me and, by extent, Kadrane. They’re powerful fighters. This is what you could, in theory, call my way of trying to help. It was a terrible thing to do; even now, I continue, knowing how bad it is, knowing how even this probably won’t work. But…it was my only option. Some Kadrane ordered me to do.”

“What about the others? The innocent people turned into war machines?”

“I’ve been doing them, all of them…not for the reason I stated. That’s why I say that I’ve really done nothing, only making things worse. The real reason…for no other reason, really…it’s the only way I can take my mind off it. My work…is the only way I keep myself from thinking about Brian and my other lost friends. I sometimes wish I had the guts to kill myself, but that’d do the loss of my friends and the ‘death’ of Brian no good.”

“You loved him, didn’t you?”

“Not only that, but I was close to my other friends as well. I was happy there and believed they had a noble cause, a cause that I would’ve fought for. I didn’t think about it at the time, but the loss of one of my best friends other than Brian greatly upset me. I, at the time, probably thought good riddance, a fact I’m ashamed of. I gave advice to Brian about what to do, hoping to comfort him…”

“It made it worse?”

“On the contrary, it made it much better. That’s the problem. The decision was exactly what Kadrane was hoping for; Brian probably sees that, now. He probably thinks most of it was a lie, that most of what I did was just a cover for my true nature. In truth, none of it was. It was all true. My life is just a cover by comparison. I’ve made nothing but mistakes. I threw away a life of happiness, of what more accurately reflects my beliefs, all for…for this, a job that means nothing to me.”

“What’s done is done, Eros. You can’t undo your mistakes. All you can do is try and make the world better from your experience.”

“Yes. I realize that now, Kinomi. You’ve really helped me out. I’ll do what I can. Do me two favors, though.”

“Sure.”

“First…how is he doing?”

“He’s faring well. At times, he can be…dark and mysterious. But he’s—at least, on the surface—light-hearted. He has a good sense of humor and cheers me up when I’m depressed. He’ll also protect me, when needed.”

“He hasn’t changed… Well, he has, but not really that much; he seems only a little darker than the Brian I knew. Don’t make my mistake, Kinomi; cherish his companionship. That is my first request. Don’t lose him; don’t let go. Let him protect you. He…needs you.”

“Alright. And the second?”

“Don’t tell Brian anything we’ve discussed. Not until the time is right. This information could destroy him.”

“That it?”

“Yea.”

“Alright. I should be leaving soon. I’ve enjoyed talking to you, Eros.”

“As have I, you, Kinomi. Maybe we’ll meet someday again.”
Post #: 13
Page:   [1]
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