Eternal Courage

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Chapter 10: Dark Premonitions

It was the late afternoon. Saku and a number of his classmates, the representatives in his class, were all gathered in a classroom. Saku was sat in his seat between Anastasia and Sophie with Mia sat behind him. They were talking amongst each other “…so…does anyone have any idea how this works?” asked Saku

“beats me” said Sophie “This is my first time”

“from what I heard” said Mia “It’s a sort of…elimination match”

“so like one on one fights?” asked Anastasia

“I think so. This is my first time too” replied Mia

“well…there’s got to be some elimination involved” said Saku looking amongst everyone “I mean I’ve watched the championships at home and I remember only a small number of people represent a academy”

“What you speak is correct” said a familiar voice.

They all turned to see Marina sit next to Mia “only about a few actually represent each academy or in some cases region. I don’t know the details though” then the door opened to which Ms Reapa came in

“hello everyone. Settle down now” she had in her hand a sort of data-pad “alright start off congratulations for making it to this stage. However you should know…you’re not quite there yet. In total we have sixteen reps from this academy that need to be narrowed down to four. Those four will then be only one step away from the end” this brought a tinge of excitement amongst them “now…let me organise the rules”

Ms Reapa cleared her throat and spoke. “What we are doing…is a knock-out tournament. You will engage your opponent in combat, you win when your opponent gives up or is no longer able to continue. You will also lose should you exceed ninety percent of your pain threshold. Now as a change of pace, three of you in this class have been selected to have a small gift”

Ms went from Mia to Aureline “For Mia and Aureline, you may request an assistant to tag-team with you. The rules for this are a bit complicated so listen carefully. You may ask anyone to help you and he or she will fight alongside you. However there are rules. The damage will be dealt to both of you and if one should lose so does the other. The choice to choose a partner is optional but if you do consider carefully” they both nodded

Ms Reapa turned to Sophie “For Sophie, you have been decided to be a part of a pair. You will choose one fellow participant to be on a team with you. Unlike the tag-team if you win, you both win. You only lose if both are unable to continue” Ms Reapa took out a data-pad and placed it on the table which showed a white screen “now here is the list of all sixteen representatives” profile pictures with a name to the right appeared one after another.

Saku scanned through the list of names “That’s all of us, Ivy is on there too” he then saw one name come up “so is Akihiko” Sophie shivered

“Oh that not guy again” two more names appeared

“Saku your sisters are competing as well” said Anastasia which made him nervous

“just as long as it’s not them first I don’t mind” said Saku but then the final three names appeared

“Who are those three?” said Marina “I don’t recognise those ones”

“What do they say?” said Saku leaning forward “One says…Violet Varsaci. The second is call Jessamine Hayes…and the third” Mia looked at the final name with a touch of anger

“Amethyst”

Saku turned round to Mia with a look of seriousness “do you know the last one?”

“Unfortunately” said Mia “she’s…an old rival” Ms Reapa cleared her throat drawing everyone’s attention

“Now Sophie due to the nature of your gift, I need you to pick your team-mate now from the following contestants” Sophie looked through the list of participants and then turned to Saku with a pink face

“Saku…could you help me?” Saku looked a bit surprised

“who me? Are you sure? I mean there are my sisters or Ivy and plenty of others”

“I know but…I’d like you to help me” she put her hands together “please?” she looked a bit nervous of him saying no to which Saku sighed

“alright then yeah I’ll help you”

Ms Reapa smiled “so you Saku and Sophie will be paired together. Alright now that’s that. Just make a note and there we go. Right the matches won’t be selected till tomorrow morning so get some rest, dismissed” with that the group began to funnel out, Saku yawning as he stood up

“What’s the matter Saku?” asked Anastasia “are you tired?”

“Yeah I’m beat. An early night for me I think…ahhh” he then felt a gentle tug to his shoulder

“erm Saku” it was Sophie “do you mind if we can talk…in my room? I’ll wait for you there” Sophie then walked outside leaving the group a bit confused

“She still hasn’t cheered up yet” said Anastasia “she’s been really down lately”

“I have noticed she hasn’t been very…happy for the last couple of days” said Mia “I wonder what ails her?”

“Well…I’ll see if I can find out” said Saku “I’ll see you all tomorrow” with a wave they all beckoned him goodbye.

As Marina packed up her things and was about to be the last one out Scarlet came into the classroom “Marina…Marina there you are” Scarlet was almost running towards her “You won’t believe what I found”

“What is it?”

“Well…I’ve been trying to find out more about the blaze at the Cirrus mansion and I won’t believe what I found out. So what would you like first, the rumour or fact?”

“I’ll take the rumour” Scarlet pulled out a video-camera from her pocket with a small display screen.

Scarlet hit play to which showed the outside of a building. It was a dark building with bright lights coming from large rectangle windows. She saw the odd silhouette of a person pass by the window. Scarlet spoke “This is security footage from outside the mansion” Marina looked at Scarlet

“how did you manage to get this? Are you a spy?”

“No of course not. Let’s say I know a girl known as LilyGracee who can hack a few things. She owes me a few favours but anyway keep watching. From what I gathered the whole family is already here but watch carefullllyyyy…now!” Marina didn’t see anything

“there was nothing there”

“give us it here” Scarlet took the camera “Okay rewind, slow down” the video played in slow motion to which Marina watched.

Marina watched very carefully the slowed down video and noticed a human shape running towards the wall before jumping “hey I see someone. A figure”

“That’s not all…keep watching” stated Scarlet. Marina watched as a few more shapes appeared for only a moment “from the looks of this the Cirrus’ had unexpected guests”

“So why is this a rumour…not an investigation?” asked Marina

“For the reason…that there wasn’t a single witness of account of anyone else turning up. And this was all we could find. Oddly all other footage after this was deleted and this camera doesn’t have infra-red. So Esto es bien seco. This well’s dry. We’re trying to see if we can salvage anything from the inside”

Marina gave Scarlet back the camera “well that’s the rumour what about the fact?” Scarlet pulled out a folded document

“This is a report done by the safety department” said Scarlet as Marina took it “naturally being a fire, and a good one, safety officials had to inspect the building. I haven’t seen it myself so you’ll be the first”

“How did you get hold of this? Another one of your friends?”

“yep. By the name Year of the Cat” Marina looked puzzled “have you heard of this one?”

“No, it’s…just strange hearing that name. Anywhere here we go

Marina quickly scanned through the report and had a puzzled look. Scarlet was curious “well…what’s it say?”

“yeah well, the house was completely burnt to the ground so the cause of the fire is unknown but the origin is clear” Scarlet was curious as Marina continued reading “the only thing still remaining from the house was a jaggy circular area. This area was perfectly in-tact, although covered in ash. The only conclusion is a explosive device but no materials for bombs could be found”

Scarlet was really confused as Marina closed the file “now I am mixed-up. The entire house burns to the ground. The origin of the fire couldn’t be placed but a single section remains intact, not even singed. Estoy totalmente confundida. I am completely confused”

“I don’t get it either” Marina sighed “we’re not getting anywhere with this. We’ve only worked out it’s a fire nothing else. When did this happen?”

“Roughly a decade ago, so Saku would’ve been around five at the time. We’ve tried his siblings but they aren’t speaking”

“Then Saku is our only hint at what may have happened and…the source of that red power”

Saku was in-front of Sophie’s door to which he knocked “Sophie…Sophie it’s me”

“Oh Saku…” she sounded nervous through the door “just one moment” Saku could just about hear the ruffling of clothing “alright come in” Saku opened the door

“Hey Sophie what did you to…” he stopped as he saw her in new attire. Sophie was wearing a white jacket dress with lilac linings along the bottom, dress pocket and sleeves. Her collar was also purple with a white stripe through it. And she was wearing black jogging bottoms. It complimented her body-shape very well.

Sophie had a red face as she spoke to him with hands behind her “so…erm…how does it look?” she asked

“It looks…really good on you” replied Saku making Sophie quite embarrassed

“Oh…really…erm…thank you. This was my, mother’s battle attire and I was trying it on. I’m just glad it fits me” she then went sad

“Sophie, what’s wrong? Ever since you got chosen as a rep, you seem…unhappy. I’m your friend right? You can tell me what’s wrong”

Sophie sighed and sat on the bed. Saku sat next to her as she began speaking “Saku, I’m just…really nervous or scared about this competition? I haven’t participated in anything like this before, and I’m worried I’ll just show myself up”

“You’re…not the only one you know” said Saku making her turn to him “from where I come from, I’m still in shock. Only weeks ago…I didn’t even think I’d get anywhere”

“So…you feel the…same way as I do? Then…how is it you look so calm?”

“Well I’ve got you guys propping me up all the time…so I don’t really feel that worried”

Sophie still looked unconvinced “but…Saku I still could mess up”

“So…we all can’t be perfect” said Saku “I mean I’ve lost count from the number of times you’ve corrected me…when I did something wrong. But…I can understand though, it’s a big thing is this competition, so no-one can blame you if you’re nervous”

“Really? Well…I suppose I just…didn’t want anyone else thinking bad of me”

“Don’t be so ashamed of yourself, which coming from me…is a little rich, but you’re a better person than you’re given yourself credit for. And I know your Mom would say the thing, I mean she gave you that scarf to show…she believes in you too”

“Yeah…she would”

“Speaking of that scarf…you haven’t got it on yet” he looked at the make-up desk and saw her yellow neckerchief like scarf “Here…I’ll put it on”

Saku went over and picked up the scarf, and came on tying it round Sophie’s neck “alright, here comes the knot, under the collar…and there we go” Saku placed the end gently on her chest “and we’re all…” Sophie placed a hand over his making him go bright red “Sophie…my hand is kind of on your…”

“Saku…thank you”

Saku looked at her face to see her beaming with happiness. Her browns eyes glinting with tears “I’m…truly grateful what you’ve said to me…and sticking by me when I needed. I see now I had nothing to worry about, not when I’ve got you with me” Saku was feeling very awkward “What’s the matter?”

“Well…my hand is…erm” Sophie saw she had pressed his hand on her chest and grin a little wryly

“Why? Thought my boobs didn’t bother you. Or is it perhaps the way I’m acting?” Saku recoiled slightly “Okay I’ll be nice” Sophie let go of his hand “but…there is something else I’m going to give you” leaned forwards kissing Saku on the cheek “That’s a thank you from me”

Saku’s face went redder than a tomato making Sophie giggle “Oh my…I made you blush” said Sophie smiling sweetly

“Well…can you…blame me?” he said awkwardly

“Oh how adorable”

“Jeez…I’m going to melt at this rate”

“So what now? Are you off to bed now?” Saku suddenly stood up

“yeah, yeah…I mean…it’s bedtime” he was walking backwards “and we-we all…should get some rest” he reached blindly backwards for the door-handle “I’ll see you…in the mor-morning” he grabbed the handle and opened the door

“Goodnight Saku” Saku closed the door. Sophie giggled again “he really is innocent. He’s also not very good at hiding feelings either” outside Saku made a deep exhale

“wow…that was…good. ” it took him a minute to calm down “I’m glad though that’s she’s feeling better now” he took a few steps to his door “but now it’s time for…” however as he reached for the door…he felt a strange pain engulf his body.

The sharp pain felt similar to that of burning as he clutched his chest in mild agony. Saku went through the door and closed it breathing him sharply as the pain started to just dissipate “Ahhh…ahhh, what was that? Heartburn? No…it felt like, my chest was on fire. I must just be tired. Right, that’s it bed-time” Saku changed into his PJ’s and settled down to sleep.

Saku found himself waking up what only felt like a short time later. He woke up in his bed to a dark room with only the bed around him visible “What the…where am I?” he then heard the muffled sounds of crashes, grunts and cries as he turned to the sound. He saw a brown carpeted floor leading to a tall door just materialise through the dark void.

Saku gingerly put a foot on the soft floor and walked to slowly forwards. With every step the sounds became marginally louder and voice just could be made out. Saku then stood before the door, the door was large with the doorknob just within his reach. He stood on his tip-toes and grabbed the handle. With the turn of the handle, the door unlocked and began to creak open.

As it opened a bright red light began bathing the whole area. Saku had to cover his eyes from the blinding light but as he did a voice could be heard

“I won’t let you take him” it was a strong masculine voice “I’ll make sure of that” Saku was forced to close his eyes from the blinding light but as he opened him…he felt only fear.

All around him fierce flames surrounded him. The flames were tall and covering the whole environment around him. Saku had nowhere to run as the flames surrounded him but then he heard a voice

“Saku…Saku” he searched round “You need to run…now!” then the voice suddenly dissipated leaving Saku worried and scared. Saku saw his space slowly shrinking as the vast flames threatened to engulf him, as fear took it’s hold. Then at the climax of fear he screamed out…to find himself in his dorm room.

Saku was sat up in his bed, panting. He checked round his room to see it dark and the area quiet. He stood up from his bed “What…was that? A nightmare” he rubbed his face “Ohh…what time is it?” he looked at a digital clock and saw it read midnight “still the middle of the night. I’m going for a walk” walking to the door he opened it and shut it quietly before walking along the silent and dim corridor with nothing but the foot-steps of his feet for company.

Saku had made it to a drinks machine, buying a can of cola. He took a good long drink before he heard another “You can’t sleep either can you?” he turned round to see Marina in a blue dressing-gown

“Oh…sorry. I didn’t think anyone else was up” Marina went to the machine and got out a bottle of water “What are you doing up?”

“Nerves I guess for tomorrow or rather later”

“You don’t look nervous”

“I hide it pretty well. Well what about you?”

“I had a rather bad dream and needed a bit of exercise. Well I’m going to head back to bed” Saku was about to leave

“wait Saku”

Saku turned back round Marina walking up to him “there’s something I need to ask you.” Saku looked a bit puzzled “What do you know of the fire at the Cirrus estate?”

“The fire…at the Cirrus estate?”

“about a decade ago, a large mansion belonging to your family was burnt down to the ground”

“yeah but…why do you want to know? It’s a bit of a random question”

“yes granted it’s a bit out of the blue. Sorry it was rude of me to ask”

“no it’s okay.”

Saku leaned back against the wall “the truth is I don’t remember the event. And no-one really told me what happened”

“Oh right, well you were very young at the time. No sorry I was just curious. Well I’ll bid you goodnight” Saku then had a thought

“no wait…there is something” Marina turned round “the bad dream…I think was a memory from the time. Because in the dream…I think I heard my dad through tall flames”

“Well, tell me about it then. It could prove useful” Saku nodded.

Saku took a few moments as he began remembering “well…it started with this dark room. It was then followed by the sounds of grunting and crashing as if…people were fighting. Suddenly a tall door appeared where I had to stretch to reach the handle, then as it opened a bright red light began to engulf the room with a voice that said…I won’t let you take him”

“was the voice your Dad?”

“I think so”

“What happened after?”

“I was then surrounded by tall flames. They were tall and almost blinding with the same voice telling me to run. And that’s the dream”

Marina put her hand to her chin “hmm…a bright red light you say? Hmm…that does give me some ideas”

“but…that’s not what bothered me” said Saku “it wasn’t the dream it was…the feeling” Marina turned to Saku who folded his arms “when I was in those flames, I was…cold. The kind of cold you feel stood in-front of a fridge. It wasn’t…pleasant” Marina placed a hand on his shoulder

“That was probably from the dream. I mean I’ve never heard of anyone catching a cold from flames have you?” Saku smiled “now go on. Back to bed”

“Okay. Goodnight Marina and thanks”

Saku waved her goodbye but Marina was left to troubling thoughts

“A red light, the sounds of fighting and feeling cold even amongst fierce flames? I feel like I’m so close but yet…so far. There is a connection between Saku red power and those flames I’m sure of it” Marina then thought back to when Saku hurt Jordan “Aries blatantly lied to cover it up why? It would make more sense to tell him. What are they hiding?”

As Marina went back to bed the shadow league was converging. All five members were present; Chloe, Kieran, Akihiko, Izanagi and the supreme leader. The supreme leader spoke “our plan is coming close to fruition. Kieran and Akihiko have now being inserted within the physical tournament”

“yes supreme leader” said Kieran “with us in the matches it’ll be the perfect cover-up for the plan. That means you Chloe”

“Yes, yes I know my plan. And…I already have the line-up” she displayed a document “and you two have very interesting opponents” she handed the document to Kieran

“Oh…very good indeed” Kieran then looked at Akihiko’s opponent “Oh Akihiko have a look at this”

Akihiko snatched the document and read it. A wide grin came over him “yes, yes. Oh YES! Such divine satisfaction” Izanagi then spoke

“so here’s the plan. The agent for the project has demonstrated its results. It proves potent but too deadly unless the body is conditioned”

“Also on that note” said the supreme leader “have we found out anything by the Stritos boy?”

“not much sir” said Chloe “we looked up everything but there isn’t a single record of him displaying such a power. It’s as if it only just emerged”

“well that’s okay” the supreme leader in the shadows could be seen tapping his head “I remember everything”

Kieran was most curious “What do you mean leader?”

“the event of the Stritos mansion. A fire of such proportions that it brought the house to the ground”

“If I remember” said Chloe “That wiped out a good deal of our main forces”

“yes that is true” said the supreme leader “It was such a long time ago, it took me a while to recall. So I now have a three part plan”

The high leader turned to Kieran “Kieran I want you to observe the fights and especially the Stritos boy. We must find out the origin of his red aura”

“Of Course” said Kieran “a power so fierce even Akihiko was scared. We have to find out about it”

“as for you Chloe” said Izanagi “You are to launch project B. Make sure no-one notices you. This is the most critical”

“You are talking to me right? Don’t worry” said Chloe confidently

“as for you Akihiko” said Supreme Leader “since we lost our experiment…we need a stronger one” Akihiko’s face lit up with much malice and evil.

The next morning came. Everyone in the academy had been summoned to the hall. Ms Reapa was stood on the stage accompanied by the now fully bald headmaster. His head almost shone in the light and he wore a full fancy suit of blue “Welcome to all my students at Green B.U.S academy. I am pleased to tell you that the representatives have been chosen. However too many have emerged and need to be narrowed down. So the rep matches are being held for your entertainment” a rather mild clap came from the audience “Ahem…well I’ll transfer over to Ms Reapa Winters for the details”

Ms Reapa walked to the front. She wore the same black dress like suit with her dark hair down her front “now…pay attention” she snapped her fingers to which a large holographic board appeared behind her “here are the list of names of all the representatives” sixteen names appeared behind her. “we have here sixteen chosen representatives but only four can win. These are from our own academy or region trying their best to prove their worth” the names vanished.

In their place were two columns of white blocks. Ms Reapa spoke again “now I am going to announce the match-lines up. For match one we have Ivy Jones vs Jason Moores. For match two we have Mia Anslette against a rep from the region known only as Amethyst” Mia looked a bit serious at this mention “for match three it’s Anastasia Michaels vs Kieran hale”

Ms Reapa cleared her throat before starting again “match four is Aureline vs another region rep called Jessamine Hayes” Aureline for some reason looked quite worried from the name “for match five the powerful Lexi Stritos against another region rep Violet Varsaci”

“I don’t know the girl” said Lexi confidently on the crowd “but…she’s going to know me pretty well” Ms Reapa spoke again

“Match six is Marina Tydes vs the second of the Stritos family Aries” Marina sighed

“Trust me to get put up against a Stritos”

“for the final match it’s a 2 vs 2. We have Sophie Brown and the newly c-ranked fighter Saku Stritos” this brought about murmurs from the crowd but a small cough from Ms Reapa silenced them “will be put up against…Chloe Ashwood and…Akihiko Kaneshiro”

Both Saku and Sophie shivered at the mere mention of this name. Saku turned to Sophie behind him to see her worried face while Ms Reapa finished “now these matches will be held in two days from now. So train and prepare. The location will be at a specially made arena outside the academy. Good luck to everyone” they were cheers from amongst the students but for some there were only nerves.

Saku looked at his opponents “of all the people. We had to be put up against him”

“What will we do?” said Sophie worryingly

“just do our best I suppose” Ms Reapa spoke again

“Okay that’s all for today you may go” everyone began to funnel out.

As Saku was about to leave he felt a tug at his shoulder “Oh Ivy”

“hey there Saku” said Ivy “I wanted to say congratulations I never realised you got upgraded”

“Thanks apparently it’s very rare”

“rare it’s an endangered species” this made Saku laugh “so, I’ve been thinking. Since you’ve been such an awesome person to teach, if you win your next match. I’ll teach you something cool”

“Thanks, I need all the incentive I can get. Considering who I’m up against” he turned round to see Akihiko with an evil smile

“I’ll see you in the match…Saku” said Akihiko waltzing away.

As Saku watched him go he felt a mild burning pain. He wasn’t sure if it was heart-burn, fear or something else.

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