Friday, June 16, 2006

Episode 32

There was no campfire that night. They sat down with glowsticks, stomachs grumbling as a few out-of-shape chocolate squares were passed around.

Taylor's face was hidden in darkness as he watched Yuki and Alec cuddle. The feelings he had suppressed for the mission's sake were let loose again, circulating his system; burning and burning.

What's so special about him? Taylor asked. He has totally useless social skills, and he can't hold his own against me in any match ...

I'm better looking.

But was he? And did looks count for everything? Alec's golden locks were painted green by the glowsticks, her face crinkled into a smile as she shared the last square with Yuki. And Yuki?

Taylor studied the usually impassioned face, now in one of its rare smiles. He studied the black hair, the wrinkled at the side of those very asian eyes; the fair, gothic face.

He realized the venom pulsing within his veins was jealousy. You have Callie, he told himself.

She's in it for the sexuality.

Taylor tore the chocolate wrapper in his hands, squeezing it into tiny balls. As he did so, the first booms reverberated from afar.

"Freeport's being attacked." Kyioshi said. He had the most chocolate squares and was still munching as he contemplated this. "It'll survive."

Nobody had anything to add to that statement. Alec, however, untangled herself from Yuki with a questioning look on her face.

"What's hidden in the school, Kyioshi?" she asked, green glow playing at her features. Taylor scowled.

"What made you wonder?" Kyioshi replied, leaning back and examining his bandages.

By now everyone was listening intently. Taylor noticed Jason, Milo and Kierra were frowning, but they made no sound.

"Just the fact that eight relatively new members were sent to try to retrieve you guys," Alec replied, "And in the process set off a grand war."

Kyioshi chuckled. "Gillian had to make sure the academy survived any attack launched on it."

Taylor chose to watch Yuki, ears still trained on the conversation. Yki was tapping the ground with a stick.

"Then what was it protecting?" Alec asked again.

Taylor looked away from Yuki in time to se a jolt of understanding passing amongst the four shinobi. Jason had quietly tilted his head down - the smallest of nods, and Kyioshi lowered his head.

"Very well," Kyoshi said. Tell me first: what do you know of Oragi?"

Silence. Then -

"Something to do with being like Magisters?" Jean ventured, "Gillian didn't tell us much."

"Nothing about how people become Oragi?"


"Hmm," Kyioshi stretched out his limbs, and then winced as one of his bandaged arms came into contact with a root.

"Careful - you don't want to worsen that -"

He waved her off. "A long time ago," Kyioshi started, "Some high ranking magisters discovered a seal, deep in White Sun forest."

Yuki was paying full attention now, and in spite of himself Taylor turned to watch Kyioshi speak.

"They had no idea what it was. It wasn't magic, but it also wasn't something natural. It didn't belong to the forest; didn't fit in. They knew it was man made-"

"How does it look like?"

"What? Oh. You mean the Janus. It's sort of -"

"The what?"

"The Janus. That's what its called. Looks like a box, metallic, except it feels like rock. Not cold at all."

Kyioshi gave an involuntary shudder. Taylor wondered why.

"At any rate," he continued, "They quickly found out it wasn't to be messed with. The first magister that touched it died on the spot. Heart attack. When they finally brought it back to the city the magisters began a through research project, trying to find out exactly what it did."

Like any good storyteller, Kyioshi paused and surveyed the group. Then he looked at the sky. "Nice, clear night, isn't it?"

"Don't change the subject!"

Kyioshi shrugged and ploughed on, "Their discovery was quite by accident. One of the magister's sons, a child who happened to be a Hapkido student, touched the Janus and came away with abilities that far surpassed magisters."

Alec was deeply contemplating this, realization dawning upon her.

"Do you mean to say," she started, slowly, "That the very reason there is a martial arts stream in school is to create O-"

"Oragi. Yes." Kyioshi cut in. "Both magisters and Oragi are supposed to be of equal importance in or war machine, but magisters outnumber us and besides, they control the parliament."

But why martial arts students?" Ceri asked softly.

Kyioshi shrugged. "The Janus only gifts those who is of a certain calibre. Martial arts seems to be one of the easiest tests - early on the magisters experimenting managed to convert an entire school of Kung Fu to Oragi." Kyioshi, paused, coughing, "But not neccessarily so. The second and third Oragi were farmers."

"And how about the Nobu? Where do they get their Oragi?" Jean asked.

"I suppose they found anotehr seal." kyioshi said, yawning. Taylor flicked his eyes around, moving from face to face. To his surprise Yuki had a look of discomfort written all over him and had continued tapping the ground with a stick."

"Time to sleep, i think." said Kyioshi, as further booms and distant explosions echoed in the night air.

Taylor turned away to find a comfy spot. Oragi meant power, didn't it?

Hmm. Doesn't sound bad at all.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Episode 31

They set up camp by a stream adn took turns to bathe. 'Camp was a loose word - they had almost no food, no sleeping blankets and no tent.

"Just us and the sky, then," Jean said grumpily She made Kyioshi sit down and redid his bandages again. The wounds were starting to heal, although Jean told Kyioshi he'd have scars for the rest of his life.

Ceri was in the second group to bathe in the stream. He didn't talk, but stared out at the fields and frowned. War was going to start - and yet there was some unfinished business he had to complete.

The first, a journey. The second, an apology. Why? he asked the trickle of water. For what? He forced himself to recall, unleashing long-supressed memories.


"You have two choices. Run and hide. Fight and die. Choose."

Two of them were in an alley. Ceri and Sensei's daughter, Tsae. Both were accomplished Judokas and could defend themselves. Unfortunately the street kids they were up against had knives and were on a narcotic high.

It hadn't been on purpose, Ceri wanted to scream later - they were playing with a metal training ball, keeping it in the air by continuously kicking or hitting it. And then Ceri had to send it flying into the shadows of an alley.

There was a loud thunk.

From the darkness emerged a bunch of swaying, knife wielding kids. One was holding the ball and rubbing his head. They all looked extremely ticked off.

"You're an our territory."The leader holding the ball, said simply. His words were slurred.

There was no time to think. A mania rippled through the group, and the boys leapt at them, knives and teeth glinting.

Ceri found himself moving, kicking, punching; breaking arms and necks alike. It was atemi-waza, forbidden in competition, and he got carried away.

He saw the leader retreating into the alley, neck red from a stray kick. Still holding the ball, Ceri thought. Emotions overcame his clear thinking.

With a roar Ceri broke past the main group, flying after the leader. The leader paused and turned, and Ceri pulled a fist back and swung. It hit bone and skin and flesh.

The leader stumbled backwards - blood flowing from is broken nose - and pathetically collapse into a heap.


He turned, too late. Tsae was surrounded and overwhelmed by the kids. With a scream she fell, and then their knives went up and shined in the sunlight, and plunged down.

Blood blossomed like a dark rose, thorns no one could see pressing deep into Ceri heart.


A dark rose.

Ceri left the stream, thinking hard. He owed Sensei an aplogy, at least. They never talked after that incident, and Tsae's death taught Ceri to never get put himself in such situations ever again.

No love. If he hadn't been so close to Tsae, he would not have hurt so much. Sensei would have forgiven him - but he ahd failed to protect her, and that was an ultimate sin.

So he buried himself in school and forced himself to seem normal; to be sarcastic and fun and to be the boy he was. No love.

Alec's blog extract
If Freeport falls before we reach it, we'd be in big trouble. I'd say we're only half a day away from the city, and if the Black Moon soldiers launch the attack tonight we'd hear it. It wouldn't be nice falling asleep knowing your Mecca is being ripped apart.

Jason's blog extract
We're being tracked. I smell it. But we've started the war, didn't we? It might serve us good, but you don't usually think that, especially when assasins are looking for you.

Episode 30

The bullet train transporting shells had stopped at an army base near the border. As per the escape plan, the Centauri members had gotten off five miles away from the base by causing a mess up in the train's internal wiring. Kyioshi had thrown up a Darkness, and they slipped into the forest with Chong Fen leading the way.

It was dawn when they heard it - a deep, ominious rumbling that shook the ground and drove fear into their hearts.

"Tanks!" Alec yelled, struggling to be heard over the din, "Over here!"

She got down and crawled over to the steep embankment overlooking a nearby field. It had once been used for planting corn, but was now a battered, pot-marked piece of land. War had passed over it once and ebbed away. It appeared it would do so again.

From their vantage point Ceri saw a plume of dust rising in the east, moving very quickly towards them.

"Alec," yelled Ross. "You do realize we're headed for Freeport?"

"Duh!" Sabriye shouted back, "You need a better brain or something?!"

"Then," Ross ignored her, "You do realize those tanks are also headed for Freeport - they're in White Sun land!"

Nobody spoke for awhile as each of the mulled this over. Ceri realized that this meant war - an irrevocal breach of the treaty

"Ross," Alec said, choosing her words carefully as the rumble of tanks grew louder, "When you accessed the mainframe yesterday, did you see anything connected to the millitary? Any plans at all?"

Ross scrunched up his face, then shook his head. "Just the usual - transport and contigency lines."

"Do you realize what this means?" Jason said, eyes closed.

Ross looked stupid, so Sabriye filled in the blanks for him.

"We sparked off the war! Our bloody little rescue mission broke the treaty clear and through! They were just looking for an excuse to send everything they have over - and we're IT!"

The roar of engines was nearly unbearable now - it drowned out Sabriye's stream of expletives and drew their attention to the oncoming vehicles.

It was the Black Moon's calvary division, no doubt. Hues of green and brown adorned the tanks as they cruised along the field, looking every bit as menacing as the veteran soldiers described.

And then Ceri noticed the magic runes painted on the barrel and sides of the tanks. They provided strength and limited invisibility when activated by a magister, who also allowed the tank to fire mana-enhanced shells.

In the middle of the entire formation was the magister's APC - a sleek black armoured beast that ran completely on magic - sheilds, shell and all. And further back still Ceri saw the glistening chutes of artillery pieces adn anti-air units.

Ross grabbed him and gestured - they had to leave. Nodding, Ceri followed the rest to the depths of the forest - shaken, tired and slightly scared.


The two gargoyles swept back into the magister's APC, materializing in the summoning area within.

"What?" asked one of the magisters, crossed. He had been reading a novel in the cooped up storage area. There were only five magisters per APC, but even then everything was too small for luxury.

"There was a group of twelve youths watching our approach, not far from here." the first gargoyle said.

"Four of them were the rescued prisoners from the Internal massacre." the other added.

"Pursue and kill?" both asked eagerly.

The magister thought for awhile. "No." he said, "Just keep up your recon duty."

As both gargoyles vanished, dissapointed, the magister took up a phone and speed dialed the Nobu assasination division.

And agent picked up after the second ring.

Ceri's blog extract
There it goes. Any thoughts of growing up, marrying and having kids flies straight out the window. Peace? Hah. As i watched the tanks, i wodnered why such a word was ever invented.

Kyioshi's blog extract
About time its started. Gillian was getting almost impatient.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Episode 29

The boy wasn't to be trifled with. He snarled and pulled out a pair of sais, pointed it at the figure and promptly vanished.

The fog around the figure cleared immediately, giving the commander a clear view of the shadow. It was one of the operatives captured - a boy with brown hair and ragged clothes, and smiling cheekily away.

A flicker of movement and the boy fell, a sai in his chest. The Nobu assasin appeared back beside the commander, panting slightly with blood staining his blades.

"Good job." the commander said, pleased. "The body would have to be iced -"

But the body seemed to have ideas of its own. With a sigh it melted into golden particles and a single gust of wind sent it swirling into the fog.

"Not a real body." said the boy, annoyance clouding his face. "We have an Oragi that can create Images of himself."

As if to confirm that statement, shadows appeared all around them, obscured by the fog. The commander frowned and picked up his phone. "Can we kill them all?"

The boy shook his head. "We have to find the original. Killing images can go on forever. And what is it with this smoke?"

"I -" The commander froze. This is not smoke! he realized, with a shock. Spinning around, he found the van smouldering, but no longer releasing copious amounts of heat. The air feels damp - like steam.

And all of a sudden realization hit him like a tsunami overcoming wave breakers. Snippets of the report flashed through his head -

"Nerve agent -"

"Released through steam -"

"Inhalant only -"

He turned and looked at the chalet - all its windows was spewing steam. When they staked out the area earlier before laying down their trap his men found ever tap in the chalet turned on, sending basins and sinks overflowing.

Shit! The commander's mind screamed. This was a trap! They had predicted the Toskan to stake out their chalet, they had purposely talked near a bird patrol, they had even timed their vaporizer to hit only after their van had been destroyed!

The commander stumbled forward, wanting to watn his men - to tell them to get the hell out of there. but the words couldn't come out. He tripped and fell, the world spinning around him.

The ground felt cool against his cheek. His throat was dry. The commander couldn't feel his arms, his legs - he realized his body couldn't move even if he wanted to. panic was bubbling forward, his eyes darting madly.

From his point-of-view he saw his men fall, one by one. The Nobu boy was still standing, but swaying dizzily. He must have realized what was going on for he vanished - moving faster than the naked eye could catch.

A tree in the commander's peripheral cision shook as the fast-moving boy slammed into it. He was too dizzy to run.

By ow black was eating up his vision. The commander cursed the agents who brought this on them. It was probably his last conscious thought.

He did not see the Image of Jason walking up to him and checking his pulse. He did not see another Image tossing the vaporizer into the van, and then tossing one of the soldier's grenades in after it. He did not hear the explosion.

The images vanished, leaving behind a scene of destruction and death. Steam was still spewing out from the chalet. The van was still smouldering. And several thousand miles away the White Sun operatives were nearing the border in a train.

Alec's blog extract

By now you probably know the entirety of the plan. I was afraid of the unknowns in the escape - if Jason was dead, or any of the other Oragi, the entire thing would collapse around us. You could say we were lucky. I definitely believe so.

But there is one thing haunting me. When i was running through the records to check the background and abilities the four shinobi had, i came across Gillian's profile. He was one of the earliest Oragi ever in the White Sun. Surely he could single-handedly save all four of them. Why send us - inexperienced youngsters still fresh out of school?

What's so important about him staying to protect the academy? Better yet - why is the academy so important?

What is it hiding?