Monday, May 14, 2007

Episode 45 (The End)

Ceri could only watch as Gillian approached the Nobu boy. He could not get up, with vague stabs of pain piercing his back.

"That does not belong to you." said Gillian, his voice dangerously low.

The Nobu raised an arm; Ceri felt his hair stand as the force of the blast passed by him.

Skin was stripped off Gillian, blood seeping into him. As Ceri watched the process reversed itself; Gillian continued walking, skin and body whole.

Surprised, the Nobu blasted again. Nothing significant happened to Gillian; he continued walking. Ceri saw the boy cautiously slinging the tube over his back, readying both hands for a full-on attack.

Gillian took out a dagger and threw it at the Nobu; the Nobu blasted. When Ceri opened his eyes again Gillian was pulling it out from his stomach, slightly wincing. The wound healed quickly.

Eyes wide, the boy did it again. Gilliant stumbled this time. The boy brought out both hands. Gillian dropped to the ground in unbearable pain. He was only five feet away but on all fours.

The Noby boy's mouth curved upwards. "And you're supposed to be the Broker, yes?" He kicked Gillian. "How pathetic you are."

"Gillian ..." Ceri managed to craok, his lips terribly dry. The Broker managed a discreet cough.

He moved so fast Ceri could not catch exactly what he did. Bishop let out a shrill, animal-like sound, and Gillian straightened.

"If you life your foot," he said, breath coming out in haggard gasps, "The life inside that dagger will incinerate you."

Gillian took the Janus from the suffering boy and bent over Ceri. "Mya has been called. Hang on there."

Ceri watched him as he trudged towards the forset. The only sound was the boy's strangled sobs, clutching his impaled foot. At the edge of the forest Gillian turned, saluted, and then he was swallowed by the undergrowth.

Ceri could hold on no longer. He closed his eyes for a long sleep, exhaling softly.


A few minutes later a boy with a backpack came to the forest gate. he had nearly lost the mark he was following, and he was worn out by the running and fighting. He regarded the scene carefully.

Ceri was on the floor, breathing weak and tortured. A solitary dagger was on the ground, with spots of blood trailing to the forest.

The boy knew his mark was after the Nobu with blood. That only meant one thing: they were hunting in the forest. That bode well for him - he had significant scouting skills.

Taylor smiled to himself. He may have lost Callie, he may have lost Alec, but he knew the Janus was somewhere in the green gloom before him. His future awaited, singing to him softly from under the leaves.

Power, power power ...

The sounds of attack in the academy were fading away, with the Nobu retreating - news that the janus was no longer there had spread quickly amongst the ranks. Taylor continued inhaling the clear morning air, feeding the fire of ambition within.

He threw one last look at the walls of the Dokan Academy. The magister workshops were burning - it was hard to believe he studied in the place not too long ago. Chong Fen had lost an arm, Yuki was gone. Ceri might die. The realities of war had settled around them quickly, warning of more to come.

Not that it concerned him. Taylor picked a stick from the ground and stepped over Ceri's prone body, whistling as he did so.

Destiny beckoned.

Episode 44

"Ceri!" Gillian yelled. The fire tore them apart, but not before the tube sliced through the air and landed in Ceri's hands.

He sprang, twisted and dodged Luke's outstretched arms. Heart beating madly he chanced a look back: the scene that met his eyes nearly made him trip. Gillian was tangled in a mass of evil-looking vines that rooted him to the ground, slowly constricting and killing him as Evan urged the vines on. Baldur was turning after Ceri, a lazy flicker of orange in his palm ...

Ceri jumped over a row of bushes an instant before they caught flame; bending low he ran along the academy wall praying that the fire could not reach beyond the barrier of bushes between him and the three Nobu.

The path in front of him blew up, sending charred branches flying.

Ceri leapt over the hole, and then ducked as another handful of fire hit the windows behind him.

When Ceri looked up again his path to escape was blocked by Luke.

"Give it over, son." Luke said, raising a gloved hand. "We have better uses for it than you."

"The Janus belongs to the White Sun!" Ceri said, backing up a few steps.

Luke shook his head; the ground before him cracked and a pale, lifeless arm emerged, shaking away the chips of cement. This was followed by a grey face and a naked body.

"It'll kill you on my command," said Luke, as the body straightened itself and fixed its empty eyes on Ceri.

A split seconds as Ceri considered his options; then he turned and ran.

The cadaver moved faster, grabbing Ceri by the shoulder it brought him to the ground and swung its fist down. Ceri twisted; it pummeled the floor and made a gaping hole in the cement.

"The tube," said Luke, palm still outstretched.

Ceri jammed the Janus at the cadaver's groin - to his surprise it shrunk away, as if scared of the seal's power.

Luke reached down, aiming to pluck it from Ceri's arms -

- the sword went clean through his neck.

It seemed as if the cogs of time had jammed up. Ceri and Luke were face to face; Ceri watched as the Nobu's eyes glazed slowly over. Then he gave a groan and dropped to the ground, and Ceri saw who was behind him.

"Gillian wants you to head for the forest gate immediately. He'll be waiting for you there," said Jorasu, lifting Ceri to his feet. "Go quickly - this guy's not dead yet."

Already as he spoke tendrils of flesh wove themselves from the cadaver and mended Luke's wound - soon he would be up and alive.

Ceri did not wait to see what happened. He left, cutting through hallways, courtyards and gardens.

"Did you regret that decision?" A voice asked.

"No." replied Ceri. He knew without looking that Tsae was at his side, running along with him.

"You won't be able to use much yet." Tsae said cheerily, "I'm only here to protect you."

"You could've come earlier, like when a crazed corpse was trying to kill me."

Tsae snorted and faded from view.

Ceri slowed to a walk - he was nearing the forest gate. Gillan was leaning against one of the pillars with his eyes closed, looking tired and pale.

"I've got it!" Ceri called out. "How did you - "

He never completed the sentence. A whoosh, a blast. The world spun as Ceri fell.

An instant later a Nobu covered in blood bent down and took the Janus.

Episode 43

Over the space of three seconds Taylor felt his dreams crumble.

No, no, no, NO! his brain screamed. First was the numbness of Callie's death. And then the fact that Yuki - weak, powerless Yuki - was engaged in a furious Oragi battle before him.

I can't even fight like that! Taylor realized. Not only had Yuki taken someone he fancied, he had proved himself far worthier than Taylor. Losing a girl to an inferior idiot was acceptable - but this, this ...

Taylor balled his hands into fists. Alec ... Callie ...

In the middle of the hall both boys were a blur of movement and crimson droplets.

This must end NOW!" Bishop screamed, "HERE!"

Yuki calmly blocked a forward blow; Bishop's palm streaked upwards and a corresponding streak of falling bricks and disintegrating mortar appeared in the side of the hall.

"You're not going to last long, Bishop." Yuki said.

"And you?" he shot back, "How many gallons of blood have you lost? Wrists cut like that -"

Yuki did not answer. He knew that was a non-issue - his body could replace the blood as fast as it bled out of him. But he knew that once his body's stores of iron ran out ... no matter. He still felt well.

The main door crashed open, revealing a girl with silvery hair and an elfin face. "Bishop," she commanded, "The Janus is being moved. You're needed."

Bishop tore himself away from Yuki, yelling in anguish. "Get the hell out of here, Qari! I have unfinished business!"

You want a court martial?" Qari yelled back. "I don't care what personal business you're on, your duty is to your country!"

Yuki eyed Bishop, hands on the ready. "Face me like a man." he hissed. He could still remember the way the police found the family ... he could still remember the photographs and the blood ...

Bishop was undecided, fearful. Here lay his salvation - the boy that caused his suffering. And yet he did not want to risk a court martial - it would rob him of a proper home, a place where he belonged.

He made a choice. Spinning, he swung a kick at Yuki - this one was blocked. No matter, his hands were free. Together they forced their way past Yuki's flailing arms and sought space; this they got easily and Bishop focused his mind solely on one target ...

A crimson wave burst forth from his hands, sweeping across the hall, tearing tile and ripping grey drape. It created a gigantic vacuum as it moved; the suction making windows break and shatter; Yuki turned against the howling wind to see Alec, Jean and Chong Fen unable to move in the face of incoming death.

He flung his arms out, but even then he knew it was too late - the force was too much for any blood wall he could summon to contain -

His blood hit the crimson wave and rebounded off. It could not place itself in front of his three friends.

All is lost, Yuki thought. There was nothing he could do now but watch as they died. In a way, Yuki cursed, Bishop got his revenge.

There was a sudden eruption of searing white light. Yuki closed his eyes; the hall shook at the explosion. What's going on? Another roaring blast, an outburst of hot, howling air.

When Yuki opened his eyes the crimson wave was gone; in its place the blood droplets fell to the ground in harmless spirals.

What the hell?

"Alec?" Yuki yelled, "Jean? You guys there?"

The hall was silent without the roar of wind.

A cry that made Yuki's heart leap for joy:

"We're over here!" It was Alec, calling out somewhere beyond the smoke. "It was Chong Fen - he caused the explosions, don't ask me how ..."

"Are you okay?" Yuki called out.

"C-Chong Fen's not." came a voice that was unmistakeably Jean's. "His arm's ... his arm's ..."

The silence that followed left much to the imagination.

"Yuki!" yelled Alec. "Go after that boy - Bishon, whatever his name is ... don't let him get the Janus! We'll be okay here!"

Yuki nodded, although they couldn't see him. Bishop was right - it had to be settled once and for all. He turned heel and ran for the door.

He did not hear the footsteps following him.

Episode 42

"Oh, you're awake."

Ceri sat up slowly, a mild headache throbbing between his temples. He looked up to see Gillian encasing the Janus in a small blue tube, filled with the strange ice on the pedestal.

"What's going on?" he asked.

Gillian didn't stop, nor did he look back. "Student casualties are climbing too high," he replied, with professional detachment, "I figured I'd bring the seal to another place to take the heat off the academy."

He turned to face Ceri, resolve burning in his eyes. "How're you?" he asked, offering a hand.

Ceri took it and Gillian pulled him up.

"Cutting it pretty nicely." Ceri lied. He felt Gillian shouldn't have to deal with his problems - especially since the school was barely holding out around them.

A blast shook the entire dojo. Gillian threw a concerned look at the walls and slung the tube over his shoulder.

"Where're you heading?" Ceri asked.

Gillian double checked the straps as he replied, "There's a safehouse some 40 miles from here. On the outskirts of Paen - an old manastery."

He looked up at Ceri, satisfied with the security of the seal - "Magic and Oragi abilities don't work around that area. So I can use whatever dirty tricks I know on an even playing field. You coming with me?"

Ceri looked around the dojo and thought of the choice he made. Swallowing hard, he nodded.


Gillian continued with his chatter as they sneaked from corridor to corridor. "Sorry about sending you guys -" he said, peering around a corner, " - I had to make sure another generation became Oragi, and the best way to do it was real life testing."

Ceri didn't answer immediately. They darted through a gallery where magisters were battling low-level Nobu. Nobody paid them any attention - Ceri saw a prefect dangerously waving a magical kris, and then they turned down another corridor and he lost sight of them.

"Gillian," he said, breathlessly, "What surveillance mission were the four shinobi doing in Horean?"

"Surveillance?" exclaimed Gillian in surprise. "That was no surveillance! It was pure provocation!"

Ceri shot him a quizzical stare, but they had to dart across a garden before Gillian could explain properly.

"I wanted them to start a war."

"What?!" Ceri said, and nearly tripped.

Gilliant tutted and picked up the pace. "For reasons you won't understand, my boy."

A flash of light, an chilling wail. Both Gillian and Ceri turned to see two cloaked figures leaping towards them; touching ground only rarely.

"Hold this," Gillian said, firmly, passing the tube to Ceri.

He took out two daggers; closing his eyes he swung around and threw both at the same time. It hit dead centre, but the hoods merely fell back to reveal rotting flesh.

"Ugh." said Gillian, and both daggers exploded in a flare of red.

"A good two lives wasted," he said, tutting, and taking the tube from Ceri they set off again. "My collections not going to last long ..."

Ceri decided not to question that statement. Instead - "Aren't you scared you'd be overpowered and the Janus taken from you?"

Gillian laughed. "It would take a large taskforce to stop me." he said, winking. "And even if I fail there are three other guardians that are summoned whehenver the Janus is directly threatened."

"From the school - ?"

"Yeah. Students. Siris, Jorasu, Mya. Seniors in the top form, I believe."

They reached one of the school's exits. Two huge oak doors barred their way - this Gillian swept aside with one hand.

"Oh dear me." he said, under his breath.

Outside, squinting in the glowing afternoon sun was the rest of Bishop's unit. Only neither Ceri or Gillian knew that - both of them just saw a spark and the erruption of a fireball from Baldur's fingers.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Episode 41

"Ceri wake up."

"You're not dead."

"I have a gift for you."

"Wake up!"

Ceri was jolted awake by a weird tickling sensation. He was in a field, and someone had traced a blade of cow grass under his nose.

He turned and saw who it was. And quickly got up, backed away - putting as much distance between the two of them -

"W-what are you?" he stammered.

Tsae looked back at him curiously. She was as beautiful as ever, and Ceri couldn't help but notice she had grown since his time with Sensei.

She was no longer the child whom he cherished in his memories - she was taller, her skin was still fair but her face had matured, as had her body. Her hair, though longer, was smooth and jet black as he remembered it. All was good and well, except she was dead, for goodness sakes!

And yet ... how vibrant she looked - so full of life ...

"I suppose you're surprised to see me." Tsae said. "Don't worry, I'm not going to haunt you."

She chuckled gently and put away the blade of grass.

"I'm here on behalf of the Janus." She said, and realization poured into Ceri.

The Janus? Wasn't I at the academy, touchin-"

"Yeah, you did. And it knocked you out for a short chat."

Ceri gave her a blank stare.

"I-I d-don't-"

"-get it?" Tsae completed his sentence for him and smiled. "Well, its like this: the Janus had a preposition for you."

Ceri got to his feet slowly and narrowed his eyes.

"Before that," Tsae said, rising as he did. Ceri noticed she was just an inch shorter than he was. Do you love a girl named Sabriye?"

Ceri brought his wavering eyes back to Tsae and nearly choked. "Excuse me?" It seemed such an adrubt change of direction, his head was reeling ...

"I asked a simple question." she said, not taking her eyes off his face. Ceri couldn't read her thoughts nor did her face give any indication of them. "I expect a simple answer - yes or no?"

"Ye-no" he blurted.

Tsae did not look happy. "Alright," she said, "let me rephrase the question," This time Ceri dared to look at her straight on - "Would you want to be in a situation where you cannot be near Sabriye, touch her, look at her, for a very long period of time?"

This answer was strikingly clear: "No."

Tsae smiled sadly. "Good." she said, and drifted off. A soft breeze made the branches above Ceri sway gently.

Ceri followed her gaze and admired the sea of waving buttercups. The wind brought the scent of freshly cut grass wafting about them.

Tsae shook her head, as if to clear it. "Well," she sighted, "Back to business. The Janus plans to give you something special," - here she paused, studying his face - "But there's a catch to it - it requires a sacrifice."

Ceri was perplexed. "Of what?"


He frowned, the implications driving home, "I do not love Sab-"

"It's good enough." Tsae cut in, her eyes glinting. "Your ability will connect you directly with the Janus. If you choose to accept it, then you cannot be with her. If you choose not to, then you will not be touched, harmed or changed in any way."

Ceri pondered this silently. Changed in any way, he thought, she means accept or not get anything at all.

He turned his thoughts to Sab - to her laugh (very rare); to her sarcasm (very common). He thought of the fleeting moments of connection between the two of them. Does love conquer all? he wondered. But he had told himself not to let anyone get past his defenses. Love everyone ... at an arm's length. And then there was the issue of serving his country as an Oragi. Surely that was what he was brought up to become.

Ceri quietly weighed his options, heavyness in his heart. Then he made his choice.


You need two seals to become more powerful. Kyioshi was essentially right. And now I know what to target.

Taylor rushed through the corridors, a feeling of euphoria at discovering what he knew was his future. Books he had lifted from the library bounced in his bag. All he needed was Callie at his side and they could go out and have the world at their feet.

Great schemes were still running through his mind as he flung open grand double doors and burst into the courtyard where he knew Callie was.

The cold pierced his lungs like steel daggers, making him gasp for air. He would've gasped anyway, for the magic going on before him was like nothing he had ever seen before.

Two of the Nobu assasins were dead. As Taylor watched, a boy blasting lightning at Vera was making his way around the courtyard, towards an exit.

He took a step forward at the boy, taekwando in mind.

A polar bear the size of a car slammed into the boy, cracking tile and completely destroying the door. The bear got up and placed its paw on the boy's chest. It apparently had no pulse, for the bear turned away and grunted with satisfaction.

It spotted another Nobu: a boy who had melted into shadow and reappeared behind Warren, knife in hand. The bear blew him away with a simple flick of paw and was after him, roaring and knocking statues and pillars aside.

Taylor was starting to feel frightened; he turned to look for Callie - this place was not safe for either of them -

He spotted Vera, Callie's familiar, hunting down the shadow Nobu. He saw Warren treating a girl who had a puncture wound at her side; her arms and legs were scaly and a wing lay unfurled on one shoulder.

And then he spotted her - arms glowing with magic, parrying and slashing with a girl who had a scythe - Taylor took a step forward, wanting to call out her name -

The words turned into a silent scream as the Nobu female twirled the scythe expertly - with a clean slice Calypso's head was ripped asunder; blood splattering onto the icy floor.

Taylor was moving forward, shock turning to agony turning to anger. Within ten seconds he was in range - twisting on one foot he landed a kick to the side of her head.

The Nobu girl crashed to the floor. She turned around, eyes wide open, looking for her assailant -

And found Taylor's hands strangling her neck.


The girl focused her mind, tearing metal from a nearby fountain pipe - it appeared as a dagger in her hand.

She was about to stab Taylor when all energy failed her - her hands fell limply to her side. Taylor stopped, surprised. His hands were slowly turning back to normal, from something ... inhuman. The Nobu girl stared up at him; an empty shell.

Her soul.

Then a wayward blast from the bear hit Taylor, missing the shadow Nobu and rebounding off a sheet of metal, sending him crashing through a flimsy door and into a hall.

A brief glimpse of two boys and blood. Silence.

Episode 50

The hall was warm and silent; a complete difference from the chaos outside. Yuki's fingers were still tingling from the cold in the courtyard. He stopped walking.

Bishop was there. He knew it instinctively. There was a bond through the curse put on their blood.

"Here I am." he said, calmly. Yuki waited for his voice to echo back, and then he added, "H24."

Bishop walked out from behind a grey drape. They faced off.

"Looking for the Janus?" Yuki asked, sighing.

Bishop smiled. "No. This is purely personal."

They stared at each other for what seemed like an eternity. Yuki was aware of the air in the room, slowly ventilating trough four air-conditioning units above him. He was aware that the hall was roughly rectangular, with more grey drapes that could conceal other Nobu. Most of all, he was now aware that whatever feelings and fear he had was now suppressed through focus, mind power and genetics. He knew killing would come easily, overriding the conscience he had developed and hindering him back when he was about to fire the vaporizer. He was ready.

Bishop regarded him with disgust anhd hate. For the first time, Yuki felt something similar emerge in the pit of his stomach.

"Why did you kill them?"

"Who?" Bishop asked, a smile playing on his lips.

"The family in Bulrish I stayed with." Yuki spoke softly, calmly, "They did not do you any harm."

Bishop smiled. "You really have changed, serial number F46. Back then you didn't give a bliddy damn about A and P."

A pause. And then -

"My name is Yuki." he replied. Looking deep into Bishop's eyes: "And I cared. It hurt me deep inside.."

"But only after that family gave you a conscience. I talked to them you know," said Bishop, "Before I killed them. Very nice people. Oh - as an afterthought, my name's -"

"Bishop." Yuki replied. "I have checked."

The Nobu operative raised his eyebrows. "You've been doing your homework! What a good boy Yuki has been."

He started pacing up and down. Yuki watched him warily.

"I prefer you the way you were before you met the family." Bishop said. "You were this horrible, unfeeling beast - a freak of nature. And then you had to be found by such nice people, who took you in and had no idea they housed a killing machine.

"I did them a great favour. Had they lived, they would've come into contact with you again." Bishop paused in his pacing, eyeing Yuki up and down. "You would've changed into a human, and I wouldn't be able to get my revenge. Besides, the Department of Defense themselves would've tortured them if they found out. I have them a quick and silent death."

"That is not what I -"

Bishop laughed. It was so different from the jolly one Yuki knew and loved years ago, back in the facility. "Yes," Bishop said, "That's true. I lied. Pulled out their fingers and cut off their toes."

Despite Yuki's modified genetics his hands curled into fists. Any other normal man would've exploded with anger by then. But his psyche still managed to keep it all in check, in some locked-up corner of his brain. "You -" he started, voice slightly shaking. "You have turned into the beast you speak of."

"No." Bishop said, stopping completely in his pacing this timel a look of sudden fury showing itself in his face. "You have turned me into the beast I speak of. I cannot rest until I have avenged them. You know what I dream of at night? The two of them, dying together, asking me why I haven't acted." he stopped. Bishop's anger subsided a little. "The four of us were family."

They stared at each other, Yuki with controlled breathing and Bishop with heaving breaths. Both were at the brink of an explosion.

"Very well," said Yuki, taking out a silver dagger.

The first blast took him completely by surprise. It was only sheer luck that he spun and managed to dodge in time. The second cracked the floor, creating a palm-shaped hole filled with blood. Bishop yelled; the third missed a diving Yuki by an inch and completely obliberated the far wall, creating a hand-shaped opening that dripped crimson.

Yuki and Bishop faced each other again. With deliberation, Yuki slit both his wrists, letting the blood streak down and cover his entire arm.

The far door burst open, and Alec, Chong Fen, Jean, Sabriye and Ross tumbled forward.

"Your friends, Yuki?" Bishop said, lazily raising an arm.

An image of Alec flashed before Yuki's eyes as the blast errupted from Bishop's outstretched palm. He screamed and swung his arms forward; his wrists gushed blood that soared in a red arc - it curved and formed a liquid barrier in time to receive the palm print that rippled over its surface.

"Sabriye! Ross! Defend the school walls!" Alec called out. "We'll handle this one."

The blood wall collapsed into tiny droplets, splattering onto the floor as Yuki released his control over his blood. Out of the corner of his eyes he saw Sabriye and Ross running through another exit.

"Whatever you do," he yelled out, "Don't touch the blood!"

He faced Bishop for the second time.

Alec's blog extract
The moment I entered the hall and saw the blood I knew. Yuki - my Yuki - was an Oragi. How? Why didn't he tell me? Selfish first thoughts in a life and death situation. Now I realize: I don't know much about him.