Book 1 : Sacred Warriors
copyright©2015 Zorin Florr
Andee and Nayaa are inside a shop
in the Triangle. It's a first floor bakery and restaurant of sorts in one of
the three story adobe buildings in the front perimeter of the Triangle, not far
from the entrance. The interior walls are exposed adobe. There's a counter
between the side walls separating the back service area from the dining room.
The counter is made of a hodgepodge of wood, metals, and plastics similar to
Andee's kitchen. There are different types of breads, pastries, including
jarred and pickled goods arranged neatly on shelves on the back wall. Cooked
meats, vegetables, and other dishes ready to eat, sit in large heated ceramic
bowls, inset in the countertop under heavy ceramic lids. It looks like a small
cafeteria buffet. People ordering food are served over the counter, in small
"I can't believe you drank it
all already. You're going to be so fat." Andee comments at Nayaa.
"I didn't drink it. I barely
drank any of it. My aunt told all the neighbors, and now they're always at our
house getting jars full, even your mom."
"I know. I'm-going to get
fat. I haven't drank water in days."
"See. I still drink
water." She responds with a smug look.
"Then why are you ordering
"I don't know. Because I
can." She ends her statement with a toothy grin.
"Good enough, I guess."
Nayaa places her order for more
berry-fizz with the shop keeper. They then leave and head for Old Tom's
Inside the shed, Mykee is standing
in front of his usual lounge. Mirceu is sitting so that he is at eye level with
Mykee, who seems to be teaching him how Ricio's vidrom works. The white orb is
floating in front of them. It then lights up and turns into a huge bear-like
animal standing on two legs. Mykee scrolls through several shapes. Mirceu watches
and nods impressed as Andee and Nayaa walk in.
"You guys seen this?"
Mirceu shouts excited and giddy as a child even though he is a forty year old
muscular giant. "Isn't this the coolest thing you've ever seen? Show them
"They've already seen
"I haven't." Nayaa
interjects. "I've only seen Lykon. I want to see the fairy."
Mykee turns the creature into
"Hey everyone. Long time no
see." Lyka greets them all with a beaming happy smile and a wave of her
right hand. Nayaa stares at the beautiful light-fairy for a moment, the frown
on her face growing. She finally reacts.
"Yeah-OK, she's hot, and
blonde, with cute little wings. I don't like her." Andee giggles shaking
his head. "Can you turn it into a guy light-fairy?" Nayaa continues
with a perk of inquisitive anticipation, ignoring Andee.
"No." Mykee responds
with an annoyed pout.
"Come on snot, I know you
"Don't call me that."
"Do it, and than I
Mykee scrolls through his vidrom
and changes Lyka into a tall male light-fairy. He has long flowing blond hair
that drapes over his shoulders. From beneath, four dragonfly-like wings hang
down over his back like a stiff transparent cape reaching to the back of his
"Wow, that's hot. That's
really cool actually. He looks good." Nayaa responds with a big satisfied
"So blond guys are OK? Just
not girls." Andee snarls.
Nayaa twirls on her toes to face
Andee behind her and with a cute-coy grin, "Yes." than turns back to
"Thank you Nayaa. But you are
far more beautiful than any light-fairy I've ever seen." The man-fairy
replies to her.
Looking back to Andee with a
beaming smile. "Hear that?" Than turns back to her man-fairy. "I
think I'll make you my new best friend, and we'll forget about Andee."
"Please don't make promises
you don't intend to keep." Andee counters with a serious tone. Nayaa rolls
her eyes in response then focuses her full attention on her new man-fairy
friend, bubbling with excitement.
"Can you dance?"
"Whooho, lets dance!"
Nayaa responds excited and starts moving her hips.
"What is your music of
"I like Prave." And
before she even finishes the statement a Prave beat beams out of the white orb
now hidden inside the male light-fairy.
"Wow, for real? I didn't know
you could do that." Nayaa reacts surprised and excited. Andee and Old Tom
both turn to the now dancing man-fairy surprised by the sudden blast of music.
Nayaa instantly joins him and both start dancing as if Old Tom's shed is a
club. Mirceu is smiling and starts gently moving his shoulders to the beat.
Mykee is staring at them with a frown, not sure if he likes what he sees or is
annoyed, but then his face quickly turns into a sneaky smirk. He starts tapping
feverishly at his vidrom. The beat continues, but suddenly, the man-fairy turns
into a horrid monster right in Nayaa's face. Startled, she leaps back out of
the clutches of the dinosaur-like fanged and clawed beast. On her third step
she trips and falls on her butt. She turns her eyes up to Mykee furious. Mykee
and Mirceu are howling with laughter. The monster starts stalking towards Nayaa
clawing the air menacingly, while the music is still playing. She jumps to her
feet and holds steady. Old Tom is shaking his head from side to side
displeased. Andee is smiling. Nayaa is just standing there, arms folded,
staring at the monster unimpressed. It is still approaching, but in near slow
motion, its monstrous arms clawing at her. Mykee is still howling with
laughter, while next to him Mirceu is dancing with his shoulders and giggling
at the scary monster.
"OK, ha-ha, real funny."
Nayaa snaps at Mykee. "Can I have my dance partner back."
"Dancing is boring. This is
more fun." Mykee counters with a beaming grin.
"Come on, just two minutes. I
want to dance. Than you can play with your monster... snot." She asks
struggling to make is sound like she is pleading, when in fact she is mostly
"Fine." Still laughing
he turns the monster back into the man-fairy. Nayaa immediately joins in on the
Old Tom looks to Andee and takes a
deep breath. Andee just shrugs his shoulders.
"Ayee, what's all this
commotion?" A gruff voice startles them all. They turn to the dark corner
of the shed.
"Lykon off!" Mykee
shouts. It's suddenly silent, but in the dark depths of the shed there's
something, something monstrous just standing there. Not a 3D light generated
monster, but a dark dirty hairy monster, now slowly emerging into the light.
Except for Old Tom and Mirceu, the rest stare at the creature slowly coming at
them struggling to decipher it with their eyes.
"Is that..." Mykee asks
but loses steam.
"That's the monster from the
Crags!" Nayaa finishes Mykee's words pointing excitedly.
"I'm no monster." The
creature answers with a raspy voice as he enters into the light. It's an old
man with a huge broad beard, mostly black, but with a couple of white stripes
down from either side of his chin. On his head he's got more curly long black
hair so that only his dark eyes and the leathery brown skin around them is
exposed. His puffy wavy hair is dirty and unkempt with more white streaks in
it. Over his shoulders he is wearing some kind of furry cloak. It's long,
dragging behind him on the ground. It's covered in dark brown fur, and off the
shoulders and back of the arms, the straight hair nearly a meter long.
Andee quickly turns to Tom, while
Mykee turns to Mirceu who stands up. Nayaa is still staring at the man. Mirceu
steps up to bearded old guy.
"Guys, I think this is
someone you'd like to meet." Mirceu turns to them all as he places his
large left hand on the short man's shoulder.
Nayaa is still staring at the man
hard. "Are you the thing in the crags that pulled The Ghost into that
cave?" The man does not react, but Mirceu responds with a hardy laugh.
Shocked by his reaction, Nayaa turns her gaze to Mirceu.
"He's not the monster. I
was." Mirceu responds and continues laughing. Nayaa turns to Andee
frowning perplexed. Andee turns to Tom who nudges his gaze back to Mirceu.
"What do you mean?"
"That monster was no monster.
It was me." And Mirceu starts laughing again. He than grabs the cloak off
the old man's back, and puts it on. He throws the hood over his head, and
lunges towards Mykee growling. Mykee takes a gentle step back. With Mirceu
being half a meter taller than everyone else, and with that cloak reaching to
the ground while draped in that long hair off the shoulders, it does make him
look like a giant hairy monster.
"That was you?" Andee
cuts in shocked.
"Yup." Mirceu responds
with a beaming smile.
"Wait!" Nayaa shouts.
"That means... you!" Pointing to the old man. "You're The
Andee and Mykee snap their gaze to the bearded
man, eyes round with surprise and expectation, but the bearded man just looks
up to Mirceu unsure. Mirceu nods his head in agreement as he responds.
"Don't worry, these are good
friends. You're safe here."
The bearded old man looks at
Mykee, Andee, and Nayaa, then nods his head up and down as he responds.
"That would be me."
"No way!" Mykee shouts
jumping in the air excited.
"Whoa..." Is all Nayaa
Andee causally approaches and
extends his hand for a shake. The old man looks at Andee a bit suspicious, but
then reaches out and shakes his hand.
"You have no idea how happy I
am you're alive. I was so mad when that bastard crashed you. I left the races.
I couldn't watch after that." The man nods not knowing how to respond.
"Me too." Nayaa ads,
then she leaps forward, past Andee, and gives the man a hard hug. He almost
falls back from the surprise of Nayaa's assault. She is nearly a foot taller
than him. The top of his head barely reaches to under her nose.
Looking up to Mirceu Andee
continues. "So that was you who pulled him in?"
"What is that? Why were you
dressed like that?" Mykee asks pointing at the cloak.
"Ha-ha. It gets cold in those
caves at night. Look at this thing. It's made from Naro Beast fur. You could
sleep inside an icicle in this thing and still stay cozy and warm."
"What's a Naro Beast?"
Mykee's eyes turn round.
"It was one of your animebot
creatures. The big one standing on two legs with the long fur."
"You mean that thing actually
"Sure, they must, that's
where this fur came from."
"Do they live in the
"No-no. There's nothing but
lizards and snakes in the crags. No, the Naro Beast lives in the highlands past
the north mountains, up in the cold. I got this fur from an old timer who said
he'd been there ages ago, before I was born."
"Never mind the coat."
Nayaa cuts in. "It's the Ghost." She reaches out for the old man.
"Come on have a seat. I thought you died from that crash. Are you still
injured?" She helps him to Mykee's lounge.
"I got the wind knocked out
of me, and a concussion most likely, but nothing's broken. I don't think.
Thanks to your giant friend here, he took care of me in that cave for a few
days before I could comfortably walk."
Mirceu nods in agreement.
"And I managed to collect most of his ship. It's smashed up in pieces, but
I got most of the parts. It took me two trips to bring it all back."
"Really, could we rebuild
it?" Mykee snaps excited at the Ghost. "Your lightship. I'll help
you. I know how they work."
"You, little man? You know
how lightships work?" The old man replies to Mykee with an amused smirk.
"Sure I do." And Mykee
grabs his white panel and starts tapping at it.
"Whoa-whoa, hold it there
little brother. What did I tell you before the race up on the outcrop?"
"But... but this is the
"Who?" Andee lifts his
brows at Mykee. Mykee's face and excitement drop as he shuts down is white
panel, understanding Andee's subtle point.
"He's good." Old Tom's
voice cuts in from behind nearly startling Andee, who quickly looks over his
shoulder. "You can trust him. He's good." Andee suddenly frowns. He
turns and looks at everyone else. There is a tense moment with all of them
giving each other quick glances without knowing what to say. Andee quickly
steps up to Old Tom.
"You trust him? Why?"
Andee asks in a whisper.
"I know him."
"You do?" Andee responds
with big round eyes. Old Tom nods then steps past Andee.
"It's alright Mykee. You can
show him. I used to know the man long ago. He's no Bitani spy, that's for
Andee leaps in front of Old Tom.
"Wait. How can you be so sure?"
"Who is he?"
"An old customer from long
before you were born. He's good."
"Hold on. You've been on my
case for not being careful, and now you're going to trust this guy who fell out
of the sky?"
"I know him."
"You knew him. Before I was
born. Lots could have changed."
"Andee, trust me, he's
"Why should I trust you? You
don't trust me."
"Don't mean to be a
bother." The old man's voice echoes in the large shed. The others watching
Andee and Tom argue turn to him. "I'll go back to my cot, and be out your
hair tomorrow. Don't mean to stir trouble between you folks."
"No you can't leave."
Mykee intercedes. "We can help you. Rebuild your ship."
"It's fine. You're welcome
here." Old Tom responds. "Andee is just looking out for me. Looking
out for us all."
"I don't get you. You keep
things from me, and your explanation about my father, I don't really believe
you, but this..."
"Not now." Tom cuts
Andee off. "If you want to discuss that, we'll do that in private."
"Ah, I see, so now..."
Leaning in to Tom's ear. "...you don't trust him. Who is he really?"
"Like I said, an old
customer, but our private matters are private." Old Tom finishes his words
by walking past Andee to the sitting bearded man, with Mirceu's cloak over his
shoulders again. "You're welcome to stay here as long as you need."
Then turning to the rest. "I used to know this man before the purge.
Because of how things were back then, no one ever used their real names. I did,
because it's on the outside gate, but most of my customers got what they needed
and all I ever knew about them was their face. So for now this man is The
Ghost. He was a good customer and someone I could trust, but the Purge ruined
that for all of us, so beyond that, I don't want to talk about it. But I trust
him, so you can too. And of course, don't tell anyone he's here. No one. Got
it." Old Tom accentuates his point looking at all of them individually.
They all nod.
"Tom, can I show him the
schematics?" Mykee asks.
"Sure go for it."
Excited Mykee turns on his white
panel again, places it in his lap and starts scrolling through it. Standing
aside, Andee stares at them, arms folded and displeased.
"Look, I have the schematics
for ship1." Mykee excitedly shows the bearded man.
The Ghost frowns as he stares at
the screen. "Is that the Silver Sickle?"
Looking up to Mykee stunned.
"Where did you get this?"
"From the crash. The other
"I found it." Mirceu
beams with pride. "Can you believe my luck. I was first on the scene at
that crash, and yours."
"And you have parts from that
ship?" The Ghost ask coming alive with vigor.
"Some, but nothing like a
light regenerator. But it doesn't matter. I'm learning how to build one."
Mykee continues excited.
"You're serious?" The
man looks at Mykee amazed.
"You're just a kid. Even
Bitani kids can't build lightships."
"I have everything I need
here." Lifting up his panel. "I still have a lot to learn, mostly
physics, but I'm learning fast. It's all logical and mathematical. It all just
makes so much sense, but there's a lot to memorize. In time, I'll be able to
build a ship from scratch." The Ghost looks up from Mykee to Old Tom, then
Andee standing a few meters away, as if he himself just saw a ghost.
"Is this kid for real?"
He asks looking back at Old Tom baffled. Andee turns to Tom as he nods his
agreement with a serious and strong look on his face. The Ghost's reaction
softens. He seems satisfied. He turns back to Mykee.
"Kid, you're not talking
about this to anyone outside this shed, are you?"
"Oh no. Not at all. It's just
us in this room. They," Pointing to Mirceu, Andee, and Nayaa.
"...find the Bitani tech and I learn how it works. We're like a
team." Mykee continues satisfied looking up at them. All three, Andee,
Nayaa, and Mirceu look at each other, a bit surprised at the concept at first,
but then immediately nod approvingly. They seem to like the idea. The Ghost too
catches their eyes, studies them for a moment, then locks eyes with Old Tom.
"Not bad." The Ghost
responds with a satisfied deep long glare at Tom, as if reaffirming some long
held bond made of many layers over time. In fact, it's so intense that all the
notice. They each turn to Old Tom who suddenly becomes uncomfortable. Catching
the tension The Ghost quickly changes subject.
"Mykee right?" He turns
aggressively to the young boy. "I'm real impressed by you son, I'm real
impressed. All of you in fact. You seem to have a good team here. And if you're
serious about helping me rebuild my ship, I accept. I'll take all the help I
"Of course I'm serous."
Mykee bounds with excitement. "But don't you know how to build them? Who
built your ship?"
"I know how to hobble parts
together. Hook up the electrics and all that, but building anything from
scratch is out of my league."
"Well me too." Mykee
admits. "But not for long. The problem's going to be getting the right
tools. Light regenerators can't be build with wrenches and screwdrivers."
"I can get you those
"Are you serious?"
"So wait." Andee cuts
in. "You don't live in the city right?"
"So you're from the
"Then how did you build a
"Lots of people out in the
badlands have lightships."
"What?" Andee stares at
the Ghost absolutely stupefied.
"No way." Mykee
"Back before the purge we
stole them from the Bitani, later won them in races or gambling, and some of us
built our own from crashed parts."
"Wait." Andee turning to
Tom. "Than you knew this. You sold parts. Why didn't you ever tell
"We had this discussion.
Things were different before the purge, and for your safety we couldn't talk
"Hey, it ain't my place to
change your rules, it's his." Nodding to Old Tom. "So I won't say any
more if we ain't supposed to talk about this."
"No-no we're talking about
it. Those rules are out the window." Andee responds aggressively. The
Ghost looks up to Tom. Tom barely nods, but okay's his agreement.
The Ghost continues. "Even
before the purge our lightships were contraband, so we kept them hidden, out in
the caves. There's caves all over these mountains. When we got banished, we
took our ships and we moved on."
"Wow, you were
banished." Mykee jumps in amazed. "What did you do?"
"Won too many races."
The Ghost winks at him and for the first time smiles.
"Did you ever race against
Hektor?" Mykee continues beaming with excitement.
"Nope. Never against
"You think you could have won
if you did?"
"Sure. With the ship I had
back then I would have smoked him." The Ghost responds with a beaming
smile under his big curly black and white beard.
"Then why didn't you race
Still smiling The Ghost ruffles
Mykee hair on the top of his head. "This race business is a complicated
"Sounds like it." Andee
jumps in. "But I still don't understand. If you're Carpati, and you stole
the ships, how could you race them? Why didn't the Bitani just take them away
from you then?"
"That's a big no-no, even
"I don't understand."
"One of the main rules of the
race is that no one is denied if they have a working ship. Now if another racer
can prove that the ship was stolen than it will be confiscated and given back
to the rightful owner, but of course stolen ships are so modified there is no
way the original owner can identify them."
"So the Bitani will let
"Even now. They tried to
change the rules many times, but the Bitani are corrupt. There's too many
credits involved. Rich sponsors control the races, so they want as many racers
as possible. Thank god for Bitani greed, otherwise things would be much worse
"So if I build a ship that
means Andee can race it." Mykee jumps in.
"You a pilot?" Looking
at Andee with a smirk.
"Sure. Why not?" Andee
responds with a half confident shrug.
"He will be, and I am going
to build my brother a ship."
"I like your spirit
"In fact I'm going to build
him Lightship 1. I've got the schematics." Mykee lifts up his panel to
emphasize his point.
"Can I see that?" The
bearded man looks at it with a curious frown. Mykee hands him the panel. The
man's index finger immediately starts moving at a hundred miles an hour swiping
through various windows. Mykee stares at the man's finger dexterity. Both Andee
and Nayaa also stare. Old Tom approaches, curious and concerned. The old man's
eyes start to go round.
"Holly mother! You ain't
kidding kid. You've got a gold mine here. This thing is full of schematics,
diagrams, even part breakdowns. If we find enough parts, even broken we can
marry them together and build new ones with the help of these schematics. Every
system on here is fully upgraded to the latest Bitani tech. With detailed
descriptions of the modifications. Kid." Looking back to Mykee. "With
the information on here, and the right parts, I can put together a ship near as
good as the Silver Sickle."
Andee and Mykee stare at him like
two kids who just caught Santa Claus leaving them presents at Christmas. Old
Tom on the other hand looks agitated.
"Hey Ghost, don't you think
you're taking this too far. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe it's not such a good idea
for you to be here now."
The Ghost takes a deep breath.
"Maybe you're right."
The kids look at Old Tom, than at
the Ghost, staggered.
"Wait, what the hell is going
on?" Andee asks baffled.
"Yeah, what's the deal? He's
staying. He's staying." Mykee concurs.
"I'm sorry Mykee, but I was
wrong. He can't stay."
"Tom I think you're losing
your mind. I don't think you can handle all the secrets you're keeping from
us." Andee responds. Nayaa folds her arms and nods aggressively in
"Why not? He can help us
build..." Mykee insists.
"No he can't. He's a
badlander. He can't help us, only hurt us."
"No he won't, right?"
Mykee turns to the Ghost.
"Tom's right. I'm banished.
Harboring a banished gets you the same fate."
"So?" Andee interjects.
"Come on. You don't want to
be banished." The Ghost responds.
"You said there's lightships
out there, that you live in groups. It's not all pirates."
"We do, but we struggle, we
barely survive. People in my clan die on a weekly basis. Sometimes from a thing
as simple as thirst. It's bad out there. That's why Tom is so protective of
you. I don't blame him. I'd do the same."
"But you can build a
ship." Andee counters.
"Yeah you can help us build a
ship." Mykee ads.
"And what would you do with
"Race it like you said."
"Do you know who to talk to,
to get registered?"
"What?" Andee asks
twisted by the new turn.
"They'll let any ship race,
but that doesn't mean they won't come after you if they don't think you belong.
So you need to know the right people. Have credits to bribe them."
"How many credits?"
"Anything from 5000 to 20000
"What?" Andee moans
stunned. Mykee and Nayaa react with open mouths.
"Our house is less than
that." Mykee adds
"I've been around. I know
people up there. It's easy for me to get in the races. But you two? If you two
showed up with your own ship, they might let you in if you can pay the entry
fees, and if there's an open slot, but they'll come after you later, and banish
you for stealing Bitani tech, that is unless you have even more credits and
know the right Bitani you can bribe to keep yourself safe. Do you?"
Andee and Mykee look at each other
"You're serious?" Mykee
asks incredulous. The man nods his head.
"So this is pointless. Why
build a ship?" Andee scoffs disheartened. The man nods up and down. Both
Andee and Mykee look crushed.
Ricio is walking down the long
hallway of his home headed for the living room. Just as he is about to enter,
his father steps in the way blocking him.
"Whoa dad!" Ricio stops
in his tracks.
"Did you delete some of the
logs from last weekend?" Brandberd immediately snaps at Ricio.
"What are you talking
about?" Ricio responds defiant.
"The day after the race. Some
of the logs are missing."
"Your logs aren't my problem.
Let me get past, I'm hungry."
"You didn't delete those
logs?" Brandberd insists lifting up his super thin vidrom to Ricio's face
still blocking him.
"Why would I?"
"That's what I'm
Ricio forces his way around his
dad, walks into the living room, than up the five steps into the kitchen. After
watching his son walk past him dismissively, Brandberd continues on his way
disappearing into the hall.
Ricio opens up a wall panel. It's
the refrigerator. He pulls out some food items for a snack. A minute later Brandberd
approaches the kitchen island where Ricio is prepping his meal and places the
skinny vidrom by Ricio's food items. On screen there's a surveillance image of
Sickle2 arriving in the garage. The seats lower, Ricio exits, and is then
followed by Andee. Brandberd is staring Ricio down. Ricio is nervously
assembling his sandwich struggling to ignore his dad.
"You missed this one. So you
did delete the other logs."
"I didn't do anything."
Ricio responds scoffing, avoiding eye contact.
"Are you insane? Have you
lost your mind?" Brandberd snaps at him.
"I'm not discussing this.
Leave me alone." And Ricio slams his sandwich on the counter then tries to
walk past his father but Brandberd block's his path.
"The racers are gone, and
you're under house arrest."
"What? You can't do that!
"No! I am the governor! And
your father! And I can most definitely do exactly that! You just committed
treason. Don't you get it?" Brandberd drives his point home by taping his
finger into Ricio's chest. "If the Board finds out about this, not only
will you be banned from entering the Regime, losing any chance at becoming
Governor, but you could very well be banished. Wake up son! This isn't a game
you're playing here. This is your future." But Ricio remains defiant staring
back at his father unwavering.
"Fine banish me. I'd rather
live in the Crags with monsters than a family willing to toss me away for doing
the right thing." Ricio then forces himself past his father bumping
shoulders as he walks away. Brandberd leaps after grabbing Ricio's arm, turning
him back around with force.
"God damned! That kid is not
who you think he is!" Brandberd shouts at his son.
"That's what you keep saying!
Who is he, huh? A Starfighter? What the punk does that mean?" Ricio snaps
at his father.
"Yes, actually. That's
exactly what he is."
"So." Rico shrugs as if
"You want the truth?"
"Yes I want the truth! That's
all I ever wanted." Ricio finally focuses on his dad.
"Fine. The truth. Andee's
father was one of the few Carpati who got their hands on a lightship and was a
pilot." Brandberd states mater of fact.
Ricio responds with a disbelieving
frown but says nothing. Just stares. Brandberd waits for a reaction. Ricio
"OK, so why hide that from
"Because in the end he
betrayed his people and his family, including his son." Ricio twists his
face looking at his dad with a suspicious grin. "Remember the
Rico frowns hard. "Sure
"Do you know who he
"Yeah, the pilot who took the
crown from Hektor."
"And your friend's
father." Brandberd adds nonchalant.
Once again Rico stares at his
father suspicious. Brandberd nods emphasizing his seriousness.
"You're telling me, the
Doggstar, was Andee's father?"
"Yes." Brandberd nods
reemphasizing his point.
"I don't believe it."
Shaking his head struggling with the concept.
"Believe it or not, The
Doggstar was piloted by Danee Starfighter. Andee's dad."
"He became a champion right
"Hektor was a Carpati too,
"Yes he was, but his crew was
Bitani. The Doggstar was a completely Carpati crew. They were all
"I didn't know that. And the
whole crew? How did they manage that?"
"I don't believe it."
Ricio is physically squirming, struggling with the concept.
"It's true son."
"But... then... then how did
they get into the races, all Carpati? And troublemakers at that."
"This is why you need the
Regime. Everything will be thought to you then. Every little detail will be drilled
into your brain so you know things exactly. All I can give you now is tidbits,
that's why we don't do it like this."
"I can't believe it. If he
was a troublemaker, how was he champion for almost two years?"
"It was different back then.
There was a lot of corruption on our side. Many Bitani were making huge profits
off the races so they helped and protected Danee because he made them rich. And
he didn't start out a troublemaker. He was a good man. But because he had
access to the city, they convinced him to steal Bitani tech for them.
Eventually he was pulled into it, but he was just a pawn in their hands."
"OK. So they used him."
"At first, but eventually we
"What is that mean?"
"We caught him trading parts
to the troublemakers, so we convinced him to work for us. He became a spy for
us. It was with his help that we were able to bring down the troublemakers, and
have such a successful purge."
Ricio looks more confused than
ever. He turns his gaze away for a moment. He then turns back to his father.
"But didn't the Doggstar die
in that crash?"
"It's complicated. We thought
he did , but he didn't die. He's around."
"You mean banished?"
"Nope. He's here. In the
Ricio's eyes go round with shock.
"What? I don't get it. You
have him locked up?"
"No. He's free."
Ricio's face turns hard, his
forehead frowning. "You're telling me he's free, living in the city?"
"He was for a while, but
we've lost track of him."
"I'm totally confused now.
Why was he living in the city? And what happened?"
"That was his reward for
spying for us."
"You gave him a place to live
for spying for you?"
"No, his sponsors bough him a
house up here for being a champion. We gave him Bitani citizenship for spying
"And he's here in the city,
"Like I said we lost track of
"Something happened to him.
After living in the city for more than a year he vanished one day." Ricio
shakes his head in disbelief, unable to say anything. Brandberd continues.
"For someone like him being a champion was a shock. Suddenly everyone
respected him. Women chased him, and with his wealth he could have anything. He
started drinking, partying, even got hooked on cactii. Then the day before his
next big race, he crashed during practice. At first we all thought he died,
because we found the body of the pilot." Ricio frowns. "But it wasn't
him. He was gone."
"This doesn't make any
"I know. That's what the
regime is for."
"I don't believe you. This
"This is reality son. And
this is what your thickheaded teenage brain refuses to understand. You like
your friend. You want to help him. So lets see how helpful you'll be when you
tell him his father became a champion, started drinking, and cheating on his
wife with all the women that throw themselves at champions. Then confessed he
was working with the Troublemakers, and sold them all out. The purge? It was
all him. It was his information that made it possible for us to hunt them down
and banish them all. Andee's dad is the reason the purge happened. Andee's dad
betrayed his own people, and sold them all out."
Ricio looks staggered. He looks as
if this news is not about a man that was someone else's father but as if it was
his own. He looks devastated.
"I don't believe that. Why
"You don't understand what
it's like to be a champion, especially a Carpati champion in our city. He was
treated like a god. The most beautiful women chased after him. The wealth
intoxicated him. He started drinking, smoking cactii, enjoying his new life of
luxury and forgot about his family. He dethroned Hektor, won four championships
over the next year, but then on the fifth he faltered, and then he had a
breakdown. It was all too much for him."
"Why would it be too much? It
sounds like it was going great."
"Maybe his guilt caught up
with him. He betrayed his wife, betrayed his children, and betrayed his people.
That's a lot of guilt for a man to carry. Personally, I think that's why he
crashed. That's when he disappeared. Maybe he went back to the troublemakers,
out of guilt. To repent for his sins. We don't know."
"But you said he's still up
here in the city."
"He could be. We just don't
Ricio looks at his father with a
suspicious glint. "What could possibly make you think that?"
"The crash was suspicious. We
found a body. There was a dead pilot at the controls. Badly damaged and burned,
but when we tested the DNA, it wasn't him."
Ricio is shaking his head too
confused and shocked to respond. Brandberd continues.
"That's why the Commander is
keeping an eye on the kid. We have reason to believe they might be in
"With his dad? No way."
"We think he is son."
"Then Andee must be the
greatest actor ever because when he told me about his dad, the pain of not
seeing him for years, was the thing that was most obvious."
"Son, you've got a good
heart, and you only want to see the good in people. But you have to remember,
he is Carpati. No matter what we do they will never trust us. No mater how good
you are to him, he will always be suspicious of you. So he will never tell you
the full truth."
"That's our fault."
"How do you figure?"
"Look around. Look how we
live, and look how they live."
"And who's stopping them from
living like us?"
"We are!" Ricio snaps
"Of course. Andee is as sharp
as any Bitani I know. Hell, he's smarter that most of my classmates, but he
lacks basic scientific knowledge. If he had my education he'd probably be way
ahead of me."
"See, this is what pisses me
off. We have no right to keep..."
"Son! Listen to me. If the
Carpati were as smart as we are why didn't they develop technology like we
"That's what. We built
everything we have. Now we're protecting them. Taking care of them. Should we
also give them all our knowledge? All our technology, just like that for
"Yes we should help
"But we are helping them.
Without us they would starve to death in this desert. And in the past our
ancestors did try to help them by giving them our tech. Don't you remember the
Troubles after the Carpati civil war? Or did you sleep through your history
"No, I remember." Ricio
"Back then the Carpati had
ships. Where do you think they got them? Initially we gave them tech, but they
used it against us. Fortunately, they never could keep it properly maintained.
They always needed new replacements. A lot of the tech down there, to this day,
are leftovers from that time. The Carpati just could not handle the complexity
and discipline of maintaining our technology, and without our help to maintain
it they became primitive again. Never mind that back then they could also come
up into the city, and all they did is stir trouble."
"Didn't they help build
"Yes, they were the labor
force. But eventually we had to put an end to that too, because when they saw
what we had, they resented us. They started causing even more problems."
"That's when the Troubles
"Exactly. It almost turned
into a full out war between us. Fortunately, we had the better tech, but more
important, we could build more, they couldn't."
"You said they had ships. We
gave them war ships?"
"No of course not. We gave
them transport and maintenance ships, but they stole weapons and modified them.
Started attacking us. They wanted to take over Grand Bitania. That's when our
ancestors realized that giving the Carpati tech was a mistake. So they took it
all back, and limited who could come up into the city."
"That's when the rule of only
people over forty started."
"Yes. Older people aren't so
willing to fight, and are more eager to work. They have families,
responsibilities. Bringing someone like Andee here would only give him reason
to hate us more." Ricio looks away for a moment.
"This just feels so
"I agree with you son. But we
tried the friendly route with the Carpati and it failed. You're friend is
convinced we're the bad guys. Many Carpati think we're hiding tech from them
just to be mean. But we're the good guys son. We're the good guys in this
struggle. We helped, and we got bitten for it. Yet we're still helping. Where
would their health, food, and water situation be without us?"
"It's hard for me to accept
the Carpati are so much dumber than us."
"They don't have our history.
We've had tech for thousands of years. We know how to be responsible with it. The
Carpati don't. If they started inventing their own tech we wouldn't stop them,
but they don't. They expect us to give it to them. We tried and it failed. Now
it's up the them to develop their own. Nobody gave us what we have. We Bitani
built it. If the Carpati want the same, they need to build their own."
Looking saddened Ricio turns away.
"Son, just a piece of advice.
If you plan on meeting up with that boy, don't tell him what I told you about
"I don't want to tell him,
but I think he needs to know. I can't even imagine how I would feel if you
vanished and I had no idea why or how. Worse yet, if a friend knew and didn't
"Son, you're a Bret. Soon you
will have to make hard decisions. Your destiny is as a leader. Leaders make decisions.
This is one of those decisions. Maybe your first task as a true Bret. You need
to figure it out, and do what you think is best."
Andee and Nayaa are headed down a
stairpath on one of the lower and broader terraces, not far from the Triangle.
The slope is slight so each stone step is at least a meter or longer. Some even
two. Nayaa is walking on Andee's left and both are carrying a metal berry-fizz
canister on their back, by the build in straps, the way one would carry a
"I can't believe they're
making me pick it up." Nayaa scoffs.
"Dude, you're getting
gigantic containers of free berry-fizz. Plus they said they'll deliver them at
the end of the week. We don't have to pick them up."
"I don't want to wait."
"Then don't complain."
"I'm not complaining. But
damn this thing is heavy."
"Yup that wasn't a
"Shut up. Mine is heavier
"Of course it is."
"It is. Listen." And
Nayaa proceeds to swirl her hips swinging the metal jug on her back in swift
circles. Gentle sloshing sounds can be heard inside. "See. I don't think
"Stop and have a drink. Maybe
you'll get your strength back." Andee counters with a smirk. Nayaa rolls
her eyes at him. "I though you were a strong woman now. Why are you wining
like a weak little girl?"
"I am a strong woman. You
know any woman stronger than me?"
"No. You're the manliest
woman I know."
Nayaa shakes her head displeased.
"You really need to work on those jokes." Then with a snarling tone
and clownish facial expression. "Stop and have a drink. Weak little girl.
Manly woman." She mocks his words.
dismisses her and takes a quicker step to get ahead of Nayaa, but with swift
speed she hooks Andee's left foot with her own, swinging it out causing Andee
to lose his balance and stumble forward down to the next broad step, and then
the next, finally falling on his knees on the third, thrown off balance by the
weight on his back. Nayaa stops behind him with folded arms and a hard serious
glare. "Ha-ha, see how funny that was. About as funny as weak little
girl." She scoffs at him.
"I don't need you teaching me
lessons." Andee snarls as he jumps to his feet and stares back at her
furious. As he leans to wipe the dust off his knees Nayaa notices something on
his right thigh, partially hidden behind his satchel.
"Hey. Why are you wearing
your Parza staff?"
He looks at her with a frown,
still annoyed and doesn't answer. She gives him a dorky look mocking his anger.
Andee looks back at her and this time answers.
"What's the point of having
one, if we never have it on us?" He scoffs in response.
"You know the drill. No one
is supposed to know about Parza. It's secret and all that. Plus, we'll get in
trouble with the Bitani. Aren't they supposed to be watching us?"
"So." He's still dusting
off his knees.
"Yeah, so?" Both start
walking back down.
"You want to get
"Sure, why not?" Andee
responds and Nayaa looks at him with a disbelieving frown. "You heard what
the Ghost said yesterday. Lots of people in the badlands have lightships.
What's so bad about being banished?"
counters with a "duh" grimace on her face.
"Please, you believe that
nonsense. I don't know what's up with Tom, but the more I'm around him the more
it seems he's hiding from us." Andee scoffs becoming more depressed.
"Yeah, that is true. And he
keeps getting mad at us when we don't tell him stuff right away, but he's the
one with all the secrets."
"Why do adults always keep
secrets from us?" Nayaa asks looking up at the sky over the jagged crest
of the north mountains in the deep distance.
"Because they're afraid, and
can't admit it." Andee responds looking at the broad steps ahead of him.
"That's so true."
"They think we can't tell
"We can tell." Nayaa
responds nodding her head up and down.
"But they think they can
pretend that everything is fine, so that they look strong to us."
"But they don't, they look
"Exactly. And they don't get
it." Andee finally looks up from the ground.
"How weird. Aren't adults
supposed to be wise?" She turns to Andee.
"That's what they say."
"They think they're
"But how many wise adults do
you know?" Andee turns to Nayaa.
"That's true, most are pretty
dumb." Both are quiet for a moment, but then Nayaa continues. "That's
weird. So you become dumber as you get older?"
"Nah, I don't think we get
dumber. But some people get so scared they're afraid to think."
"Hmm. Weird. Master Sensei's
"True. Anyone else?"
"Nope, well you're mom's
"Yeah, but even she's lying
"Adults sure lie a lot."
"Especially considering they
expect us to be honest, all they do is lie."
"So how can we trust any
"They're probably lying to us
no matter what they say."
"And then they say--oh it's
OK for them to lie because--they're adults, as if that's a good reason."
"They think they're
"Because being lied to and
kept dumb sure is protecting us."
"I don't understand why we
need protection from the truth?"
"And you know what. In
reality, we're the ones protecting them. None of them can fight like we can.
Even Master Sensei can't keep up with us anymore. OK, that's it." Nayaa
suddenly changes her train of thought. "I'm going back. Lets go." And
she starts heading back up the steps.
"Where you going?"
Andee's looking over up at her confused.
"To get my staff. Lets
go." She stops to wait for Andee.
"Ah come on. We're six
terraces down. I don't want to go all they way back up with this thing on my back."
"Fine." Nayaa drops her
container next to the blackstone wall. "We'll leave them here. Lets
"I'm not going back up."
"Well, I'm getting my
"Leave the thing and lets
go." She insists.
"I'm not going. I'm too
tired." As he drops the container off his back.
Nayaa shakes her head at him.
"Fine, you bum. Than lay down and take a nap. I'll get it myself."
"Good idea." Andee drops
on his but against the blackstone wall, next to the containers. "I am
pretty tired. Maybe I will take a nap."
Nayaa stares at him stupefied.
"I was kidding you dork."
"I'm not. I barely slept last
night. And there's shade from the wall here. Plus, I still have to help you
carry your stupid berry-fizz all the way back up. Go. It'll take you like ten
minutes. I'll have a good nap."
"Fine, you weirdo. I'll be
back." And Nayaa runs up the steps. Andee cuddles up against the
blackstone wall and goes to sleep.
Brandberd is in the kitchen, now
making his own snack. He taps the surface near the right corner of the kitchen
island. A 3D hologram of the Commander appears hovering over the island from
the waist up.
"Good day Governor. This is a
surprise call. Is everything OK?"
"What's taking so long?"
The Governor saps his words with attitude. "Your operative. Is he ever going
to get me those DNA samples or will I have to get them myself? This is getting
"He will sir, he will. I
ordered him to be discrete, but I'll make sure he gets them as soon as
"He better, or I'll invite
the kid to my house and get them myself."
"Excuse me sir?" The
Commander reacts baffled.
The Governor takes a momentary
break shaking his head displeased and continues with a more docile tone.
"My bleeding-heart idiot son
nearly caused me an aneurysm today."
"How is that sir?"
"Of all the stupid things
he's ever done he topped them all last week."
"That's unfortunate, but
young people make mistakes."
"No, crashing the lightship
was a mistake. This, this is beyond anything. And my son, the Governor's own
"OK, this sounds serious.
What happened exactly?"
"What happened is that he
made the worst possible decision he could have made. He brought the wrong guest
into my house. Right here in my god damned kitchen."
"A guest sir?"
"Yeah, a guest, guess
"No. You don't mean..."
"His new best friend, the
The Commander looks staggered. He
is so shocked that his usual military stiffness gives way to sincere shock.
"I... I don't know what to say sir."
"This kid's going to be the
death of me. The death of us all. I've been thinking. I'm wondering if I should
tell him everything now, before the Regime."
"That is an option sir.
Honestly, it might be the best move. I think your son could handle it. He's
"That he is, but I don't
think it's the best idea. If I have to I will, but I have a different plan for
now. This may actually be a gift in disguise."
"How is that sir?"
"At this point it might be
better for me to encourage this friendship and not resist. Instead of pushing
the kid away, I need pull him in. It seems he already trusts my son. My best
move might just be to encourage that. If we play our cards right we may even be
able to twist his world view to the point he trusts us more than his own, and
than he will reveal all to us."
"Sounds like a complicated
strategy to me sir."
"My job is strategy. Yours is
to enforce. I'll deal with my son and his new best friend. You! You need to get
me that damned DNA, and get it to me now!" Brandberd drops his fist on the
counter knocking out the connection with the Commander before he can respond.
With her folded Parza staff on her
thigh, Nayaa is haply hopping down the stone steps before she stops above
Andee. He's curled up in the shade of the wall. She squeezes her lips and looks
down at sleeping Andee disgusted. She then lifts her left foot back, and snaps
a swift sharp kick into Andee's buttocks. Startled out of sleep, Andee turns
aggressively towards Nayaa, but as he does, out of the corner of his eyes,
about six meters away, and several steps below, he catches what looks like... a
glimpse of the man in the blue robe. Just a flash of him, sitting with his back
against the opposite stone wall under the shade of a berryfruit tree.
"There!" Andee yells,
rolling from his side into a squat. "The guy-blue-there!" Andee speeds
his words out while pointing excitedly. Nayaa snaps her eyes down the steps
following Andee's finger.
"I don't see anyone."
Andee focuses on the spot.
"He's gone. Dam it!" And quickly picks up a rock and tosses it, but
not where he saw the guy. Instead, a few meters further down the steps. The
rock hits something invisible in the air, and then falls straight down.
Suddenly the clearly visible man in blue stops, turns over his shoulder and
looks at the rock. He is clear as day for a brief, just as he takes off running
down the steps.
"There!" Nayaa yells
pointing, then impulsively looks at Andee. A fraction of a second later, when
she looks back, he's gone. "Crap! I saw him! Where he go?" Nayaa asks
"I told you! I punking told you!
He has Bitani tech that makes him invisible!" Andee shouts excited leaping
up on his feet.
"Lets go." Nayaa shouts
and takes off. They both run down the steps leaving their canisters behind.
They reach the road below in no time and come to a hard stop.
"Which way did he go?"
Andee spins on his toes in the orange dirt of the road, frustrated as he looks
around. Nayaa, standing a step above, looks everywhere. She then turns and
looks back up the way they came. Her eyes squint, and her head lurches forward
"Hey!" Nayaa snaps at
Andee. "I just had a thought."
"This is not the time."
Andee counters still scanning three-sixty.
"No listen. There's no
dust." Nayaa looks back down at Andee.
"If the guy's invisible there
should still be dust behind him, no? Look behind us. We can see our dust."
They both look up the steps. The dust is gently settling. "You think he
can make the dust behind him invisible?" Andee softens his agitated state.
He looks around again. There is lots of dust behind them, but noting ahead
where the man ran. "There is no dust." Nayaa continues. "If he's
invisible, but running like us, there should be dust, no?" Nayaa asks
again with the most serious and inquisitive expression she has ever shown.
Andee is baffled. He is on the
road spinning round in a daze still searching. "What the punk is going
on?" He then looks up to Nayaa, and both glare at each other. Neither know
what to do next.
"I'm right though? Don't you
think?" She asks.
"I don't know what to think.
But you saw him this time, right?"
"I did. I did. He turned
around. And you know what!" Nayaa's voice suddenly rises. "I saw the
dust! When he stopped there was dust. And then I looked at you, and when I
looked back, he was gone, and so was the dust. And now there's no dust
"I guess he can make the dust
trail invisible behind him."
Nayaa looks past Andee. She is
gawking hard at the dirt on the road ahead of her.
"How about his
footprints?" She asks catching Andee focused on something else. He looks
at her confused.
"Look! The big smudged
one." She points to a large foot print.
"Genius!" Andee suddenly
brightens up with new vigor. "Nobody runs up and down these steps. Look
for more smudged prints like you'd get from running."
"Got it." Nayaa agrees
and both begging to scan the road.
"Look! That's it!" Andee
finds another. They look in the direction of the print.
"There's another one. It's
going east." Nayaa points down the road.
They start walking slowly, heads
down, looking for the prints. One by one they discover print after print. They
are hunched forward, odd looking, but too absorbed in their search to notice
the weird stares they get from the few people walking the road. They follow the
steps for about a minute when suddenly, there are no more. They come to an
abrupt end in the middle of the road.
"What the hell?" Andee
reacts frustrated and starts circling the area baffled, but careful not to
destroy the prints himself.
"Did he just fly off or
something?" Nayaa looks around mystified. "Look!" She points
"That indentation. I get the
same indentation when I do my handstand on my staff." Nayaa responds.
Andee looks at her bewildered. She looks back at him with a frown. "Maybe
he's doing invisible cartwheels on his staff like we do in sparing, but to
throw us off."
"Oh-kay, if he has a staff.
But then there should still be foot prints just further apart." Andee
responds half disbelieving, but goes for it, and both continue scanning the
ground. Nayaa is focused and meticulous, like a cat, stalking the ground
attentively. Andee is spastic. Moving his head left to right, almost as if he
is having a seizure. He's agitated, nearly seething with rage. His emotions are
driving him hard. He moves his head rapidly from left to right, when... suddenly,
once again out of the corner of his eye, he sees a blue streak. He freezes,
takes a deep breath, and is ready to burst... but then changes his mind. He
decides to act nonchalant. He starts looking around more gently. Nothing. No
blue anything. He sweeps his head again really fast, and again out of the
corner of his eye he sees a blue haze in the same spot as before. He does it
again, snatching his head from left to right, than back and forth again. Each
time he gets a small flash out of the corner of his eye, and each time more and
more clear. It's the man in blue. He's about ten meters away, casually leaning
against the stone wall of the two-meter tall upper terrace on the right side of
As casually as he can, Andee steps
up next to Nayaa. Without interrupting his stride, and pretending to still be
searching, he whispers to her.
"Don't react, but I see
"Where?" She whispers
without looking at him and maintaining her search.
"Ahead, to my right. Against
the wall. But he keeps vanishing. I only get glimpses when I move my head
really fast. Try it."
Nayaa sweeps her head to the
right, than to the left.
"Holy... poo! I saw
him." Nayaa whispers in shock, but then quickly sweeps her head a few more
"Can you tell if he is
watching us?" Andee whispers.
"This is freakier than freak.
He keeps vanishing." She sweeps a few more times. "Holy monkey poo.
This is creeping me out. But I see him. Kind' a."
"I don't know why, but it's
the same with me. Hey, he's not moving. We got him. I'll move ahead and strike
back, you counter."
"OK, I got your back. I
think... damn, he keeps vanishing. He's like a ghost. He keeps blurring
Andee and Nayaa are a strange
sight to behold. They are walking like chickens, hunched forward and
spastically sweeping their heads from side to side, as if they're either high
on cactii or full on jovial. Some people slow down and watch them curiously.
Andee and Nayaa are far to focused on their hunt to notice let alone care.
Nayaa starts searching in place,
remaining a few meters down of the man in blue. Andee moves ahead, sweeps his
head right, and catches a glimpse of the man in blue moving away from the
terrace wall. Andee leaps immediately into a forward cartwheel followed by a
twisting-somersault, during which he grabs his Parza staff and snaps it open in
the air, just before he lands turned one-eighty, now facing the wall and the
spot where the blue man should be. At the same time, Nayaa snaps her staff open
and leaps forward. In a flash, Andee spins his staff out towards the spot where
the man's head should be, while Nayaa sweeps at his feet. Andee's staff
'woojes' through empty air as he catches a quick glimpse of the man swiftly
ducking under, but Nayaa makes contact. For a fraction of a second the man's left
foot is visibly thrown into the air from the impact of Nayaa's staff under his
"I got his left foot!"
Nayaa shouts. Both Andee and Nayaa are moving their heads like chickens again,
with fast and spastic snaps side to side. They both catch glimpses of the man
stumbling. He's clearly hurt, but Andee and Nayaa take no mercy. Their staff's
start spinning like propellers in figure eights with so much force and speed no
one can pass through. Two crowds form on either ends of the road, watching
mystified at what these two are up to.
"He's in range." Andee
shouts and explodes. As fast as lighting he swings his staff as he lunges
forward. The man is a blue blur as he leaps up into the air over Andee and
Nayaa's sweeping staffs. He double flips before he lands... right into Nayaa's
flying left roundhouse kick. In mid air, the man skillfully catches Nayaa's
foot and spins it inward forcing her forward, dropping her face first into the
dirt. His counter attack is so sudden and quick it catches Nayaa off guard, and
she actually hits the dirt with her face, hard, but spins overhead and on her
feet, but in a squat. The man is nowhere. She does a quick left to right twist
of her head and sees his left foot coming at her chest. She spins to block it
with her forearm, but she's too late. The foot lands between her collar bones
knocking her backwards, while Andee's staff comes down hard onto the man's left
shin. Contact! But the man spins out of the way in a haze of blue and orange
dust. For a second he is clearly visible as he leaps back up to his feet, but
clearly favoring his right leg. Nayaa too, is back on her feet, but before they
can attack again, the man pulls out his own Parza staff and snaps it open with
the same technique as theirs.
Andee and Nayaa look at each other
a bit baffled. They can now see the man flashing in and out of sight but he
seems to have a hard time staying fully invisible. Sometimes he's a blur, at
other times a haze, occasionally invisible, and then fully visible for a flash.
He starts spinning his staff with the same expert skills as Nayaa. Andee
focuses into his hood but it's low on his head, and with the fast movement it's
impossible to see his face. There's an audience on both sides of the road, but
the people look baffled, staring at Andee and Nayaa who look like they are
squirming in a cloud of dust for no reason. The audience is squinting,
struggling to figure out what the hell is going on.
Andee and Nayaa's surprise lasts
only a second. They attack. An epic battle commences. Staffs, fists, and legs
are swinging, spinning, and striking at astounding speeds. Loud thunder like
crackles snap each time the blue man blocks Andee and Nayaa's staffs with his
own, and vice versa. For the first few seconds Andee and Nayaa are masterful
and on the offensive, but the guy is unreal. Even with an injured left leg he
easily holds his own against both of them. He is able to block all their
attacks. After an entire minute of battle, after raising up a cloud of dust,
still no one is hit.
Nayaa suddenly stops and places
her staff in front of her, in attention stance, just off the man's right side.
She holds on to it, hands at chest level, then leans her forehead on the staff,
but her eyes locked on the blue man as his image fades in and out. Andee suddenly
does the same off to the left of the man, opposite Nayaa. Both have their eyes
locked on him. He's trapped between them.
The man is partially transparent
as he stops and looks left, then right, at both, then again vanishes... at the
same instant, Nayaa and Andee attack, but each with an opposite swing. Rather
than swinging from right to left as is common, Andee's staff comes from left to
right and at his chest, but it's blocked by the reappearing blue man's staff.
Nayaa's staff also swings in the opposite, coming from behind, and nails the
man across his back, so hard, he falls to his knees. In a fraction both kids
spin their staffs back and swing them round for the next attack, but the staff
in the blue man's hand's suddenly lights up like a rigid bolt of lightning
while he spins out of the way of the second attack, and rolls onto his feet
facing Andee and Nayaa in triangular duel. Arcs of electricity sizzle as they
shoot out of his lit up staff climbing in arks up his writs and forearms, as if
thousands of volts of electricity are passing through him, yet it causes him no
He still looks hazy and is still
flashing in and out along with his now lit up staff. Andee and Nayaa are once
again stunned frozen staring baffled, but there's no time for wonder. The man
spins his lit up staff, but now it instantly bends and looks more like a
hundred sparkling streamers strung on a spinning rope, rather than a solid
staff. Andee and Nayaa throw a glimpse at one another confused. 'How do you
The man flips sideways towards
Nayaa, spinning and sparkling his weapon towards her. She leaps out of the way
but the glowing weapon catches her ankle.
"Aaaa!" She groans in
pain as she lands hard on her side, while Andee's staff comes down onto the
man's light string, and passes right thought it like nothing. The tip of
Andee's staff hits the ground next to Nayaa's ankle. He looks shocked, and gets
shocked when the man swings back, forcing the other end of his lit up weapon
into Andee's chest, end on. It hits Andee as if still solid, followed by an
electric shock which knocks Andee back. Startled by the literally stunning
staff, Andee stumbles backwards electrocuted for a moment losing his
Nayaa leaps back up with a spin of
her staff at the man, aimed at his feet, but he blocks it with his limp light
weapon, yet this time his eclectic staff behaves solid, stopping Nayaa's staff.
Arcs of electricity run up her staff engulfing Nayaa's hands, zapping her. She
drops her weapon and falls to her knees. She quickly lurches forward reaching
for it, just as the man kicks her in the face, while at the same time he blocks
Andee's staff coming at his head from behind. More electric arcs shoot out
zapping Andee, but he spins and kicks the man in his injured right knee. The
man falls forward, right after Nayaa falls on her back from the hard roundhouse
kick to her face. But as she lands on her back, she twirls towards him whipping
her legs over and down kicking the guy in the side of the head, knocking the
top of his head into the dirt. He reorients the momentum, and actually lifts up
onto his head, spins one fast revolution, then leaps from that onto his feet,
his lit up staff swinging round and right into Andee's left cheek. The blow
knocks Andee to the ground hard. Blood immediately starts pouring out of his
mouth as he struggles to get up without his staff. Half way up he stumbles
forward and falls face first into the dirt. Nayaa crawls quickly to Andee
dragging her staff. She lifts his head out of the dirt. He seems almost
unconscious, but then he snaps back.
Both jump to their feet, but are
staggering. Nayaa uses her staff for balance. Andee doesn't have his. The man
is behind them. Nayaa swings her staff back, but the man blocks it with a swing
of his own, so forceful, it knocks Nayaa's out of her hands. He than attacks
her right ankle again, this time his lit up weapon twirling around her ankle
like a glowing whip. She screams in pain from arcs of electricity, as the man
yanks it, pulling Nayaa's foot from under her forcing her to fall back on the
ground. Andee leaps at the man with a side kick but the man swiftly side steps,
while dragging Nayaa a foot or two. Andee swings his fists like a boxer, but
out of range. The man swings his lit up staff, from Nayaa's ankle into Andee's
rib cage. It again acts solid on impact and hits him hard, as well as zapping
him with the electric arcs. Andee falls on his knees hunched sideways towards
the blow. The man twirls his lit up weapon like a string of sparkling streamers
again, while Nayaa and Andee struggle to look up at him. He suddenly stops, and
snaps it shut. It's a normal, folded, wooden Parza staff again.
From her hands and knees, Nayaa
leaps at the man again from the side. The man swings his folded staff at her.
Even folded, it instantly lights up into a glowing whip catching her over the
shoulders before she can get to him. Electric arcs shoot out between the man,
his whip, and Nayaa's body.
"Ahhhggrr." She screams
in pain, blood dripping from her broken nose. Andee tries to jump forward from
his knees but falls on his face. He lifts up his face out of the dirt. His
lower lip is swollen and blood flowing out the corner of his mouth.
"Let her go! I know what you
are." Andee shouts. The man releases Nayaa. His weapon instantly becoming
a normal folded staff again. "You're a sacred warrior." Andee
continues while Nayaa falls to the ground and starts crawling to Andee.
The man takes a step forward and
squats down over Andee. Nayaa's breathing heavily, as crawls over Andee in a
protective manner, struggling to look up at the man. He looks at both of them,
from deep inside his hood, his face hidden deep in the darkened shade. Only his
trimmed white bard is visible.
"I am Husarii." He
speaks to Andee, then vanishes. Completely gone. Andee and Nayaa try to look
around for him, but it's beyond their ability. They are hurt. Seriously hurt.
Andee spits out a mouthful of blood and rolls on his back with Nayaa over him,
in a hug. Blood is pouring from her nose completely covering her mouth and chin
in red, now mixed with orange dirt. She wraps her arms tight around Andee, and
starts visibly heaving and sobbing.
The crowd that formed around them
closes in. An old man is first to approach, followed by a young guy. The rest
of the crowd are more weary and watch from a few steps back.
"Why you kids fighting like
that?" The old man asks with curious eyes. "Look at you two... in a
Nayaa lifts up her head and starts
wiping her eyes with her jacket sleeves.
"Come now. You can't lay here
in the road. I'll help you up." The old man encourages them.
"Should we... should we try
to pick them up?" They young guy asks the old man.
"You got a canteen of water?
Get them a canteen of water first." They young guy nods and leaps up towards
the crowd. While he asks around, the old man goes down on one knee and studies
the two on the ground. Their clothes are plastered in orange dirt. Their faces
are covered by thick smudges of blood and dirt. It looks like a thick red and
brown goo, quickly drying out into flaky blood laden clay on their faces.
"I can believe you kids would
fight like that... with sticks. Look what you did to yourselves. Look at you
two. You're in a terrible mess."
Nayaa is now completely up off
Andee, on her knees sitting on the back of her ankles. Andee is on the side of
his right thigh, body up and leaning on his right arm.
"Old man, you're crazy. We
weren't fighting each other. We were fighting the blue man." Nayaa
responds still wiping her face, smudging the blood, tears, and dust, into a
total mess on her face. The young guy drops on one knee next to the old man,
with a flask of water in his hand.
"Here." He hands it off
to the old man.
"Wash up with this." The
old man offers and turns the flask to pour. Andee and Nayaa wash their hands
and faces as the conversation continues.
"I heard what you were
fighting." The old man continues. "Fighting imaginary Sacred
Warriors, that's what you were fighting. I heard you young man. Damned be that
cactii." The old man snaps his last words.
"A blue man?" The young
guy asks curiously staring at Nayaa.
"Didn't you see him?"
Nayaa responds to him.
"All I saw was you two
youngin's swinging those sticks like two fools high on cactii. When you kids
going to learn not to smoke that junk. Look what you did to yourselves."
The old man interjects.
"We're not high old
man." Andee snaps at him. "Did you see him or not?"
"We didn't hit each
other." Nayaa interjects.
"She's right." The young
guy responds to the old man. "They were swinging their sticks in the air
around them. They weren't hitting each other. But look at them." Then
turning to Nayaa. "You said something about a blue man?"
"Yeah, you didn't see
him?" Nayaa asks.
Andee jumps in. "He was
invisible at first, but he was mostly visible at the end."
The old man shakes his head from
side to side disapprovingly.
"Ah-well...." The young
guy continues hesitantly. "for a moment, there was something blue in the
dust. But it was just a haze, not a man."
"Never mind. Thanks for your
help. I think we'll be OK." Andee concedes and starts getting up, but he
nearly falls. He's still dazed.
"Stop smoking that stuff. You
kids are too young and pretty for that. Look at you two. Wasting such beautiful
youth. Listen to this old man. I know." He drives his point with full
sincerity and a tinge of sadness in his tone.
"Thank you sir." Nayaa
responds nodding her head. "No more cactii for me. That's for sure. I
learned my lesson." The old man nods approvingly as he lends a hand to
help them up.
Both struggle to hold their
balance as they get up. They are seriously hurt and dazed. They washed as well
as they could, but the sides of their faces are smudged with a disgusting
sludge of dust filled blood. The bloody sludge is in their hair, on their
hands, on their clothes, all under a thick covering of orange dust over their
outfits. Andee can barely keep his left eye open, while fresh blood is still
dripping from the left side of his mouth. Nayaa's nose has a fresh stream of
blood pouring down to her upper lip. The two young warriors are battered,
bruised, and broken, and look like they barely survived the battle.
End of Chapter 9