Eternal Courage

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Chapter 17: Aftermath

It was a rather dark day at Greenbus Academy. Grey clouds were rolling in, engulfing the blue sky and stoping whatever chance the sun had of reaching the surface. While the outside brought warnings of rain and wind…the inside was just as gloomy. The entire academy was in mild shock and fear at the state of events which had transpired.

The event in question was the Bio-duelling tournament. The tournament is a series of bouts between fighters who bring strength, cunning, courage, tactics and sometimes a bit of luck. In these tournaments fighters enjoy the adrenaline of the bouts, the roar of the crowds and support from fans. But for this particular tournament…it did nothing of the sort.

The roar of the crowds…was replaced by screams of fear. The adrenaline which allowed one to enjoy the fight…was instead just to survive. And the support of the fans…well for one person…this was his only support. Saku who brimmed with kindness, strength of heart and a little bit of spunk…was subject to a terrifying power. A power which has left him broken and frail…and with his life…left in uncertainty

Saku, in grey pyjamas, was in his bed at his dorm room resting. Mentally Saku was now broken, plagued by fear and regret and physically…he wasn’t much better. His battle and broken will and left him in a weak and somewhat frail state. However one question had lingered in the air…where did his power come from? Well…that was one thing Saku’s friends were now finding out.

Sophie, Anastasia and Marina were waiting in Aries’ room. Sophie and Anastasia were sat on chairs, Marina was leaning against a wall and Mochi was asleep next to Aries. Aries was in a long light green dressing gown. Marina was looking at her phone and sighed “still no sign of her” Marina put her phone away “Jessamine has gone missing. Jessamine hasn’t been seen since we all vacated the crowd from the stadium”

“I’m pretty sure she’s alright” said Sophie hopefully “I mean she can take care of yourself”

“yeah…you’re right” said Marina agreeing with her “so…we’re just waiting for…” the door then opened to show Aureline and Mia coming in.

Anastasia stood up “so…how are they?” Mia and Aureline looked between each other “well?” Mia started

“Lexi’s injuries aren’t that bad. She only has bruising and a cracked rib. Lexi will be fine in a day or two”

“I’m fine now!” they all turned to see Lexi, holding her chest, leaning on the doorway “I’ll be fine! Anyway it’s only fair I help explain…recent events. Anyway…how’s little bro?” they all turned to Aureline who had depressed look

“Saku is in…bad condition” said Aureline but most of the girls knew this already “physically his body is tired and weak. Saku is also showing no signs of getting better either”

Marina looked quite ashamed as she rubbed her head “the one time…I wanted to be wrong. All right everyone get comfortable…we could be here a while” Lexi sat on the bed and Mia and Aureline leaned against the walls “ok well…where to start is the difficult part. So I’ll do a short summary of…the origin of Saku’s whole affair. About ten years ago at a Stritos estate, an incident had burnt the entire house to the ground but the Stritos’ buried the whole thing, not letting a single thing go public” this brought up a question

“but…why would they do that?” asked Sophie “I mean…it sounds like they were trying to hide something” Sophie then looked at Aries who looked ashamed

“so wait” said Anastasia “Your saying…it was…” as Marina nodded Saku was looking round his room.

A thousands thoughts and worries were engulfing his head, mostly the memories of his rampage were haunting him. Saku remembered all the devastation he had caused but then he heard a knock. Saku looked to the door and saw an envelope pushed under. Saku used his bed and table to keep his balance, somewhat unable to stand, and had to go down to his knees to get the envelope. Saku then crawled back to his bed and slowly ripped open the envelope, tipping it to find a small speaker within…to which he heard a familiar voice

“I think it’s time” it was Marina who spoke through it “I told you of the great Stritos secret”

Back in Aries’ room Marina begun her explanation “I’ll start at the beginning…to help out everyone here. About a decade ago…the entire Stritos Family had gathered together for a meal. It was all going well until…they had unexpected guests. They were attacked…by the shadow league”

“The shadow…league?” said Anastasia tilting her head but Mia seemed to know

“I have heard about that group during my work” she said “They are a sort of…hidden group of people…trying to bring out full human potential”

“I have heard of those as well” said Aureline.

Aureline paused for a moment “The Shadow league aims to fully unleash the power of B.U.S. That’s what I heard anyway…but I’ve been told there’s barely been any sight of them for a while”

“You have the incident to blame for that” said Marina “from I found out…at least ninety-percent of the league was there”

“Why?” said Sophie thinking “I mean…why attack when every single member of the Stritos family?”

“She has got a point” said Anastasia “I mean…all of the Stritos family are all veteran aura fighters. You have to be nuts to fight them”

“That’s right” said Marina “to attack the Stritos family in full force…is rather stupid but…there was something there they had to get”

All the girls were in thought with Mia trying to deduce “so…this league are trying to unlock the full potential of the B.U.S. And their only chance, to get what they wanted, was at the estate” Aureline then had a dark thought

“but It wasn’t something they wanted…it was someone wasn’t it?” Aries nodded

“yes…they wanted Saku” Marina then spoke again

“As I thought” said Marina crossing her arms “You all witnessed the power of Saku first hand, his power was like that of a volcano. So If it was ever…misused you know the result”

“But…I don’t get it” said Sophie quite confused “where did his power come from? I mean…he’s being rankless until recently”

Anastasia was in thought too “Sophie’s right. Why only go after Saku then? And not ever again later if they wanted”

“Simply because” said Lexi casually “they had no interest in him. He didn’t have any power for them to go after”

“Now I am confused” said Mia thinking “so…did that power come from that red gas you spoke about?” Marina had a grim look

“It was never gone to begin with. It was…locked away”

This only confused Mia, Aureline, Anastasia and Sophie more “haven’t you ever wondered…” said Marina getting them thinking “why Saku can release pure aura energy? Or then how can he bio-merge his power with Mia and Anastasia?” Aureline now had a thought

“For two…non-family members to bio-merge their energies…means their aura natures have be almost the same. So…for Saku to do it to two different people can only mean…he never had a nature. Which means” her face lit up…but with that of anger as she looked at Aries and Lexi “no you didn’t…how could you!?” Mia face looked a bit grim too while Sophie and Anastasia looked clueless as Marina spoke

“The league were after Saku’s power…so the Stritos family chose to hide it…with” Marina said the next words with great disdain “An Aura seal”

Mia and Aureline looked like they had figured this out but Sophie and Anastasia still looked confused “What’s an Aura seal?” Sophie asked

“Exactly what it sounds like” said Mia looking very annoyed “a special seal, that is placed on one’s chest. It resembles a V within a circle. It’s designed to restrain a person’s B.U.S…to a bare minimum. It acts like a filter, blocking all aura power from flowing through the body”

“But…” said Sophie looking shocked “That could kill someone”

“Yes it can” said Marina with her arms crossed “B.U.S is also an indication of one’s very life. When we get tired our aura declines, and when our aura declines we are fatigued. So this filter…kills anyone it’s placed on because there’s virtually nothing left. Only those with great power, that even when restricted…can still hope to live”

After a moment Lexi spoke “Saku has always displayed amazing power…even at the age of four, his sheer level of power wasn’t far from mine. As a result he was made a target. And…when the incident happened…it was…rather grim” Lexi gripped her arms as Aries spoke quietly

“Saku was in bed at the time. And after hearing all the noises…came downstairs. Saku witnessed all the fighting took place and saw us all getting injured. But when he saw his mother take a bad hit…his anger…exploded” Lexi spoke again

“it was like witnessing an eruption” said Lexi looking plagued “His aura power just scattered everywhere and anything it touched…was set alight. Only he was unaffected by those…red flames” Lexi shivered before speaking again “In the end we knew he would be targeted again so we opted for the seal. We knew he would still have enough B.U.S left to live normally but…”

“they didn’t figure out the consequences of their action…or the full effects of the seal” said Marina finishing the sentence

Marina sounded depressed as she continued explaining “from that day on…Saku became the rankless fighter that he was before he came here…and the reason he is as ridiculed as he is tofay” Sophie then looked annoyed

“so…you two and your family are the reason” she said bitterly “that Saku suffered years of loneliness, torment and sadness?”

“That’s not the only problem” said Mia with a notable tone of disgust “there was another reason that procedure is forbidden. Even for those…that live through the procedure…are placed with a heavy burden”

Mia looked as if every word she spoke hurt her “That seal…can’t stop the power…it just stores it. The seal is like that of a dam…to which a store of energy builds behind it. so if the seal is broken…the user…is forced to endure all of it. Unable to control the large influx of power…they go berserk destroying everything around them”

“Wait…do you two know of this?” asked Anastasia to Lexi and Aries. Aries and Lexi had painful faces “You both knew…and yet you did it!?” Anastasia looked quite furious “so why didn’t you get it removed!?”

“Because…they couldn’t Ana” replied Marina “the seal…cannot be removed once placed. The only reason his came off is this was because, I assume, the red gas loosened the seal…which resulted in his power trying to break free. Then when he got angry…the seal was broken”

“And now” said Sophie gripping her knees “Saku is scarred with that experience of him going…berserk. And attacking all of us”

“That’s not the only problem” said Marina looking grim “Saku…doesn’t have much time left” this brought shocked faces to everyone.

Marina looked unable to continue to speak but Sophie looked scared “wait…what do you mean!?” Aureline slowly began to talk

“Saku’s power is enormous. I mean you saw for yourself the power he displayed…and it closely resembles fire in nature. Such as those red flames” said Aureline “Power of that calibre… needs willpower to keep it in check. But right now…he’s broken. So as a result…his own power…is slowly killing him”

“Add in that Saku will be terrified of his power” said Anastasia remembering Saku’s shaking “I doubt…he’ll be handling it well. So…that’s the great Stritos secret. Placing a burden of pain and torment on Saku? So that brings the question Why?”

All eyes turned on Aries and Lexi, Aries looking ashamed but Lexi looked annoyed as she answer “well that’s simple. If we didn’t seal Saku…the Shadow league would have easily gone back after him. So what would you have done?” Mia stood up straight and answered simply

“Trained him” he said sternly “You could’ve taught him how to defend himself”

“yeah she’s right” said Sophie “I mean, I managed to teach him just fine. It’s only been a few weeks and he’s a fully capable fighter. So…try again Lexi. Why did you have to seal him?” Lexi looked qquite shot down while Marina looked annoyed

“either you tell them…or I will”

All the girls turned to Marina speaking in a bitter tone“I think it’s time…you told the whole truth” Lexi stood up, although cringing, looking quite annoyed

“What the hell do you know?” said Lexi almost in her face “You have got no right getting your little snot nose in our family business. And one other thing…why do you care so much about the squirt? You’re Marina Tydes…the lone girl…so why?”

“Because…Saku is one of the most decent people I have ever known” Lexi was caught off-guard once more “Lexi you - and half your family - were born with the magic ticket called talent. Saku had his ripped away. During all that time - of mostly you showing off - did you ever stop to consider how Saku felt…once?” Lexi stepped backward unable to answer

“She’s right Lexi” said Aries behind her “all we had to do was wave our hands and we’d have crowds cheering. Saku couldn’t even stand out. No matter how hard he tried. In-fact I doubt if it wasn’t for these friends of his…he would have given in. Alright…I’ll tell you”

From the other end Saku was still listening through the small speaker, hearing Lexi a little quickly try to hush Aries “No…No don’t do it Aries”

“After the incident…” said Aries in a quiet voice “the whole family saw the damage that Saku could do. So the reason for the seal…was rather from fear than worry” Saku felt a stone…drop in his gut, his already low self-esteem…just waxing away “the family were all scared… that Saku could go on a rampage again…and destroy a lot more than a house” Saku held the little speaker limply in his hand “and that’s why…we opted for the seal. To prevent him hurting anyone else” Saku hung his head

“So…that’s all I am to them…a scary monster. I think it’s better…if I just go”

Saku’s voice had carried to Aries side to which the girls looked round “did you hear that?” said Marina as Mochi started coming round “it was Saku”

“But…where did it come from?” said Sophie looking round but then noticed something underneath Aries bed “What’s that?” Sophie bent down and grabbed “It’s a speaker…” Sophie then had a thought which turned her pale “Oh no” Sophie on instinct stood up and ran out of the room. Everyone looked between each other…all having the same thought.

Within only a minute Sophie returned…with a second speaker in hand. Sophie looked quite scared “Saku has gone!” this fully woke up Mochi who sat up

“Big brother has gone!” Mochi got up off the bed “we’ve got to find him”

“Yeah…especially in the condition he’s in” said Mia also worried “but where would he go? This academy is too big to search…even with six us. Aries do you have any ideas?” Aries then had an idea

“Saku…when he wants to be alone…would find somewhere away from everyone. Somewhere secluded” Aureline than thought of somewhere

“The forest that’s near here, if he would go anywhere…it would be there”

After everyone looked between themselves Marina spoke “come on then let’s go. We’d better go now”

“Wait I’m coming too” said Mochi getting off the bed. As everyone funnelled out Sophie looked back on Aries and Lexi

“don’t worry we’ll bring him back”

“Please do” said Aries almost begging with teary eyes to which Sophie nodded in determination. As Sophie left Aries then turned to Lexi “do you have no respect for anyone other than you?”

“What? Why are you pinning this on me? All I did was tell them to mind their own business” retorted Lexi

“they are trying to help him Lexi! They have helped him far more than we ever did. We never once thought how he felt…at all.” Lexi looked shot down by Aries’ comment “we need to apologize…if he even wants to see us”

The girls had arrived outside…to the darkened world choked by the thick blanket of grey cloud. It wasn’t easy to see but no signs of life could be made out in the dimly lit world of grave and green. Sophie looked round “where did he go? I don’t see him” Aureline then stepped forward and bent down to the grass. She saw an indent in the grass

“No-one has been outside for a while so this indent has to be him” she saw similar indents in a path leading to the thick forest “It’s just as Aries said. He’s headed that way” Marina then grimaced

“I think…we have to leave Saku’s rescue…to you two” said Marina gesturing to Mia and Aureline “All of us going in that forest…is a bad idea. Especially with that” Marina pointed to pitch black clouds darker than the grey clouded sky.

As they looked a vast booming sound echoed across the land. “We haven’t got much time” said Marina “and five of us trekking through a forest is a bad idea, especially in the dark and rain. And last thing we want is to get lost. Aureline is the best tracker amongst us and Mia is good at crossing urban terrain”

“Then…we’ll have leave it to you two” said Anastasia reluctantly “we can only hope for your safe return” Mia and Aureline stepped forward

“Don’t worry leave it to us. We’ll bring him back” Mochi then stepped forward

“Wait…I want to come too” said Mochi “he helped me…when I was all alone and…I want to help him” Aureline looked at Mochi and placed a hand on Mochi’s shoulder

“Then you better keep up okay?” Mochi looked overjoyed and nodded

“well…we won’t be long” said Mia “let’s go” with that Aureline, Mia and Mochi ran in the direction of Saku’s prints. Sophie placed her hands on her heart

“please…bring him back to us”

In the forest…Saku was running as quickly as able. Saku’s body was weak and tired causing him to constantly stumble and wobble but he forced himself to keep going but soon fell forward to his front. Saku got up again and just continued running, with only his thoughts for company “I’ve…got to get away…so I can’t hurt anyone” Saku then made it to the edge of a tall hill. Saku was breathing heavily, standing somewhat limply in place as he looked over the vast canvas of green.

As he looked a big boom echoed across the land alerting Saku to the sky, seeing bright flashes randomly occur in the clouds “so…the sky is scared of me too?” he then felt a sharp pain on his heart causing him to fall forwards and down the steep slope. Saku tumbled and rolled not stopping until he got to the bottom. Saku began to get up but felt weaker and hurt and for a brief moment his vision blurred “not…much longer…now” Saku once got up and somewhat continued to run into the forest.

A distance behind him Mia, Mochi and Aureline were running through the forest. Aureline was following the trail that Saku had left behind but was starting to worry “his footsteps are wobbly he’s not running into a straight line. Which means…we’d better hurry up” Mia looked back on Mochi

“How are you doing Mochi? You’re keeping up rather well”

“I’m fine” said Mochi smiling “I’m just worried about big brother that’s all. Big brother looked…so lonely” Mia found encouragement in her words

“Don’t worry. I’m sure when we find him…it’ll be okay” as Mochi nodded she felt a wet drop on her head, then as she looked up a downpour of rain began coating everyone.

The group then stopped at the top of a tall hill. Aureline was looking round for any signs of Saku “It’s no good the rain has cleaned his footprints. I don’t know which direction he went” Mia looked round becoming scared

“well what do we do? We can’t split up, far too much ground” as Mochi looked she spotted something. Mochi then went to the wet hill and looked hard at the bottom

“look…down there!” Mochi went ahead down the slippery slope with Mia and Aureline shortly behind her. She ran to a small red splat of blood “look here. It’s blood” Aureline bent down and saw a splatter of blood

“It is blood” Aureline then dipped her fingers “fresh blood. Saku was here only a few minutes ago” Mia then looked at the hill

“Saku must have fallen down here…and ran further into the forest” said Mia “Did he injure himself?” Aureline shook her head “I thought so” Mochi didn’t understand and walked a few steps forward “That’s means we’re running out of time”

“Aureline…Mia!” called Mochi pointing to another small splatter of blood “here’s some more” Aureline dipped her fingers

“This is fresh as well. If I’m right…we now have a different trail to follow” Mia nodded with a grim face “so we’ll have to speed up. Come on” with that all three ran quickly deeper into the forest…under the heavy rain.

Saku was still running but more slowly, as his body began to succumb to its weakness and fatigue, before stumbling and near falling into a tree. Saku cringed and breathed heavily as the rain continued to soak and pound him “just…a bit further…then…I won’t be able to bother…anyone again” but then just as Saku was about to start again

“How much further is it to the base anyway?” he then heard a male voice a little to the right of him

“I don’t know and I’d wish you’d stop asking” this one was female “it doesn’t help that we’re lost in this god forsaken rain. Look this girl is our prisoner and we need to take this firefly back” Saku could hear them

“they have a girl? Is it Mochi?” Saku carefully, and shakily, proceeded in the direction of the voices.

After a couple of minutes of walking Saku fell to his knees once again and now had to lean on the trees for support. But then through the trees, he saw the girl the pair had captured…Jessamine. Jessamine looked very slump as she got dragged by two people in black robes. Saku gasped “Jessamine! But…I thought she went missing” Saku then forced himself forward “I’ve got to…save her” as the pair dragged her by the arms “hey…let her go!”

“What?” said the male one “who’s goes there?” they both turned to see Saku panting against a tree but coming towards them “What the…it’s a kid”

“yeah you’re right…” said the female one “but how did he find us?” then as they looked at him “huh…that’s the Stritos boy!” they both then turned pale with the male letting go

“Screw this, I’m outta of here” the female saw the male running away and followed suit.

Saku walked weakly forward once more falling to his hands and knees at the side of her. Jessamine, in her uniform, like him was wet through…but looked much worse as she was ghostly pale “something is wrong” he felt her hand “she’s frozen. I know water isn’t good for fire users…but this is really bad. Wait…her aura. It’s hardly there. She doesn’t have enough to live on” Saku looked round the forest hoping for a sign of life “What do I do? I’m in no state to carry her…and she won’t make it” Saku then looked at his hands “I’ve…got no choice” and then to Jessamine’s chest “for a few reasons”

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