Eternal Courage

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Chapter 26: The Truth Still Beyond Reach

It was the late afternoon soon after everyone had left the indoor arena. Saku and his friends had made it to Aries’ dorm room. Only Lexi and Aureline won’t present as they were already sleeping. Jessamine was still rather annoyed “dam you princess, you just had to beat me to it didn’t you?”

“Ohhh” said Anastasia in a smug manner “did I beat fire-girl to the punch? Or was it because…I took your man?” Saku felt a bit awkward

“yes that” said Jessamine sighing “You do know how much I like dear Saku” Saku chuckled nervously “and you destroyed that chance and all. Oh well…it just means I’ll have to try really hard to steal him away from you”

Sophie put her hands on her side “Jessamine do you mind giving it up” said Sophie annoyed “just for the time being. The last thing Saku needs is you thrusting your bosom to him”

“well…why not” Jessamine said walking to Saku and lifting up her chest “he might…you know like it” Saku saw her approaching closer and became very nervous

“Jessamine” said Saku nervously “they are almost touching”

“Jessamine…” said Aries who was sat on the bed with a scary smile “please control yourself” a deep cold descended in the room “otherwise I may get unpleasant” Jessamine quickly stepped back

“fine, I’ll give up…for now!” said Jessamine not very happy “but listen princess” Jessamine said pointing at Anastasia “You’d better look after him otherwise I’ll be taking him out from under you”

Saku breathed out in relief “so Anastasia” said Saku “You haven’t explained how you managed to avoid injury”

“well…Aries said it was due to a bio-harmony” answered Anastasia “although she didn’t explain thoroughly what it was” Saku looked a bit embarrassed by this “she said due to this bio-harmony you wouldn’t be able to hurt me no matter how you tried”

“Saku…why do you suddenly look rather embarrassed?” asked Sophie

“well…it’s exactly that, it’s embarrassing” said Saku “That…and it helps me remember something from long ago”

Saku thought back to when he was only four. Saku was sat on the lap of his father. Saku couldn’t see his Dad’s face…only his lips “Dad you’re so strong, you could beat anyone”

“That’s not quite true my boy. There is one person who I can’t beat no matter how hard I try…that’s your mother”

“huh…why’s that? Is mom really strong?”

“It’s not the question of strength…it’s because I love her” Saku tilted his head “in our family our aura is influenced by our feelings. When one of us feels strongly about another…we only want to keep them from harm and our power responds in kind”

Saku tried to work it out “so…if I really like someone…then even if I should try to hurt them…I can’t”

“That’s right” said his dad rubbing Saku’s head “but…there’s something important you should know. If your feelings towards a girl are incredibly strong…your aura natures may even transfer amongst each other. Like if your strong to fire, your partner will be strong to fire. Just remember…a bio-harmony will only occur if you feel very strong towards your partner...just protect her and make her happy” Saku’s father faded into memory bringing him back to Aries room.

Anastasia had a red face with blonde hair “so…that’s what she meant” said Anastasia “That’s why you couldn’t hurt me either when you shot me earlier” Saku was rather embarrassed himself

“and that also explains that blue aura” said Mia sitting next to Aries “and how you manipulated your power like Anastasia does with her plants” Saku summoned an energy sphere which was red and blue

“and Anastasia gained fire resistance from you Saku” said Sophie "which is why she didn’t get hurt by Kieran’s fire"

“so…” said Anastasia leaning close to Saku “it was thanks to you I was safe from Kieran” Anastasia took his hand “thank you” Saku felt embarrassed but happy

“You’re welcome”

Jessamine looked between them and at Saku in particular “Ahhhh…now I really fell jealous” said Jessamine “not only did you two transfer some powers between each other…you’re now getting all lovey-dovey with each other” Jessamine then turned around “Right that’s it…I’m going to the canteen, I’m rather starved”

“Yeah, we haven’t had chance to have a good meal for a while” said Sophie

“Yeah me too” said Saku as his stomach growled to which Anastasia tugged on his arm

“Well come back to my room, I’ll make you something special” Jessamine however quickly grabbed onto Saku’s arm pulling him away

“Oh no you don’t. You two might be together but that doesn’t mean you can hog him” said Jessamine pulling Saku away “come on let’s go”

Sophie sighed and crossed her arms “That girl needs to learn about personal space”

“yeah” said Anastasia also sighing “come on let’s go rescue him from the evil girls clutches” but to their surprise

“Jessamine one moment” Saku came back into the room and over to Mia “Come on Mia let’s go. You must be hungry too” Mia stomach then growled “see?”

“Oh erm…that would be nice thank you…” said Mia a bit embarrassed “but I’m still unable to really walk very well”

“That’s no problem” said Saku turning round to her “I’ll carry you there” Mia smiled and with some difficulty got on Saku’s back “Right let’s go” Saku carried Mia with good ease out of the room.

Aries chuckled a little as his footsteps could no longer be heard “What’s so funny Aries?” asked Sophie

“no nothing, I’m just…really proud of him that’s all” said Aries “Saku has matured so much. And I’m really grateful to you all as well. You’ve all given Saku so much, I can’t thank you all enough” Sophie then blushed

“The thanks should go to Saku" said Sophie "When we met on that first day, I knew from the start he was a kind person. Back then he was so unsure of himself but he still felt the need to help me”

“I felt the same” said Anastasia “I knew from when I made him…he was someone I could trust. But I never thought…he’d be the one I fall for” Aries then realized something

“hey wait a moment…I almost forgot” Anastasia and Sophie turned to Aries “with all the commotion it almost slipped my mind”

Aries told the girls what she just remembered which brought an idea to Anastasia “we should all repay Saku for what’s he’s done” said Anastasia happily “we all can all work together”

“Yeah Aries. Why don’t we all do it?” said Sophie “we’ll tell everyone else when we get the chance” Aries clapped her hands together looking very appreciative

“Oh that would be lovely. We’ll talk about it when we can gather everyone together. And Anastasia…please take care of Saku for me” Anastasia blushed and smiled

“don’t worry I will. When this is over I’m going to introduce Saku to the family, I mean” Anastasia was twiddling her thumbs “we’re going to be spending a lot of time together”

It was now drawing towards the evening. Saku was helping Mia, with a piggyback, back to her room. Mia felt a tad ashamed “I am really thankful for this you know”

“hey it’s alright” said Saku “That supreme leader really bore into you two. Just what did he do?”

“I…wish I could remember” said Mia trying to think “it was all a blur. The leader took all of our attacks just barely flinching. Aries went at him full force…and he blocked her attacks with a single hand”

“he is indeed powerful” said Saku remembering how he blocked the leaders attack “That blast of his was immensely strong…but yet…I think that was a light attack as well”

As the two thought they heard Marina’s voice “hey let go of me!”

“No can do little lady. You’re coming with me” Saku rushed round the corner to see a man in black garbs taking Marina away

“Marina!” Marina and the men both turned to him. Marina was surprised while the man looked terrified

“It’s Saku…the guy who beat Kieran!”

“Mia I need to put you down a moment” Saku put Mia down and ran at the garbed man, who tried to run away but a punch to the man’s back sent him to the floor.

The man rolled over and began cowering away while Saku grabbed the guy by his robes “Okay now talk why were you after Marina?” Saku then picked him up of the ground “answer me…huh?” Saku could see the man’s face under his hood “What?” Saku just continued to stare “how is this possible?” Saku shook the man “answer me, what is going on here?”

“I…don’t know…please just let me go”

“how about no” Saku began reaching for the guys hood “I think I rather just take this off”

“no please…don’t. It’s all I have” Saku noted his choice of words and let him go

“fine, just me one question. If you look like this…and then what about…” Saku drew close to the man and asked his question as the man answered a great shock appeared on his face “You can’t be serious”

Saku swallowed this answer “What is going on? Anyway, You get lost” the man nodded and quickly ran away. Marina was aiding Mia to her feet

“Saku…what’s wrong?” asked Marina to which Saku turned round

“something that requires urgent investigation” said Saku in a serious tone “Marina could you do me a favour and please take Mia back to her room?”

“of course you go on ahead” said Marina to which Saku ran down the corridor. Marina looked at him run “just what did that man look like?”

“I don’t know…” said Mia “but whatever has happened…must be serious”

Saku had ran back to Aries room and entered without knocking. Sophie, Aries, Anastasia and Mochi, who was sat with Aries, looked surprised “Oh Saku…” said Sophie “What brings you here?” they then noted Saku’s serious face

“hey what’s wrong big brother?” asked Mochi

“Something very worrying Mochi” said Saku “listen, I came to tell you I’m going on a trip”

“A trip?” said Anastasia confused “a trip to where?”

“To the place where I found Mochi, at the base. The reason why is something has come up and I need back to that place, to try and find out what Kieran told me”

“like what?” asked Aries

“the truth hides in plain sight”

The girls were all confused by his words “those were Kieran’s last words” said Saku “and I believe the answer to those words is at that place”

“But that place is at least half-a-day away” said Sophie “and given you only have less than thirty-six hours remaining before the fight with the leader…you do need to set off now”

“That’s exactly it” said Saku “I came to tell you this before I set off”

“Wait hold it!” said Anastasia with some assertiveness “nowhere near am I letting you go by yourself. You’re taking me with you”

“If anything I need you here Anastasia” said Saku “You’re the only able-bodied fighter here. And I’ll feel much reassured if you’re here to defend them”

“And I’d feel more reassured if someone went with you”

Mochi saw how worried they both looked and raised her hand “Oh can I come with you big brother?” Mochi got off the bed “If I come with you then Ana won’t need to be afraid”

“Are you sure Mochi?” said Saku “I mean it’s going to be dangerous”

“I wouldn’t worry about her Saku” said Aries “do you remember the fight against Izanagi the first time?”

“yeah I remember” said Saku “she did put up a good fight. Then yeah okay you can come with me” Mochi looked happy and turned to Anastasia

“Don’t worry Ana” said Mochi pounding her chest “I’ll look after Big brother”

Anastasia knelt down and rubbed Mochi’s pink hair “I know you will. And I feel much happier knowing you’re with him. Well you two best be going” Anastasia then kissed Saku on the cheek “just come back safe alright” Saku rubbed his cheek and felt very warm and pleasant inside

“don’t worry we will” said Saku happily “come on Mochi. We’ll need a few supplies for the trip” with a nod Mochi followed Saku out of Aries’ room and out into the hallway. Aries looked worried

“I wonder what came up for him to react so quickly” Aries then cheered up “however on the plus side, we definitely won’t have any problems”

“yeah that’s right” said Sophie “then when he comes back, he’d better be ready”

The sun was already halfway gone past the landscape with Mochi and Saku running along. Both had their auras around them, Saku’s red and blue and Mochi’s pink and sparky, which allowed them to run along at a fast and good pace. Saku looked back at Mochi “how are you doing back there? You’re not tired or anything?”

“No, I’m okay. I ran all the way to find you in that forest and I didn’t get tired”

“That’s good. I’m quite surprised you can run at this pace for a prolonged period. Just tell me if you ever feel tired that’s all” Mochi nodded as Saku looked forward. Saku soon reached the familiar stream which ran downwards to his left “there should be a bend in the river, once we cross it we’ll travel a little longer onwards and then make camp okay”

Within a few minutes the river bent around in-front of them. With daylight rapidly declining Saku searched for a nearby tree “Ah, there we go” Saku shot an aura blast at the base of the tall tree which fell over making a crude bridge over the river “alright Mochi let’s cross” Saku crossed first over the rather sturdy bridge and Mochi closely followed behind. Mochi wobbled a little but made it across okay

“It’s getting pretty dark now big brother. How much further?”

“just about another five minutes. Come on let’s go” with that the two carried on in the waning sunlight.

Saku had stopped at where he, Mia and Aureline had made camp the last time they travelled to last time. Saku and Mochi were sat around a camp-fire eating out of tins of stewed meat. Mochi looked a bit worried “hey Mochi what’s wrong?” asked Saku “are you alright?”

“yeah, I’m okay”

“It’s not because we’re returning to where we found you is it?”

“ummm…a little bit but…I just feel a bit sad that’s all” Saku sat a bit closer to Mochi “I still don’t remember much before meeting you and your friends. I’m just beginning to wonder…who I am is all”

Saku saw the worry on Mochi’s face “well, you’re Mochi Stritos for a start” said Saku rubbing her hair “You’re one of the family” Mochi looked quite overjoyed by this

“yeah…you’re right” said Mochi reassured “It’ll come to me in good time”

“That’s the spirit” said Saku happily “well it’s getting late, it’s time for bed” Saku headed to his sleeping bag which was sprawled out on the floor “We should be rested for tomorrow. Hey you may even remember who you are when we arrive at that place”

“Yeah okay” as Saku settled in Mochi walked over to him looking a little shy “Big Brother…can I…sleep with you?” Saku gave a small nod. With that Mochi climbed into the sleeping bag with Saku

“Goodnight…big brother” and she quickly settled to sleep. Saku looked very happy

“You’ll always be apart of the family” he gave her head a light rub before going to sleep.

It was the next morning and back at the academy the girls had all gathered together. Anastasia had told them all the details “so that’s what we need from all of you. With Saku gone it’s our best opportunity”

“I don’t see why I have to help” said Lexi moaning slightly

“well why not, he’s your brother” said Sophie annoyed

“Fine, fine I’ll help out. The last thing I need is being mobbed by Saku’s girlfriends”

“Where has Saku gone anyway?” asked Aureline

“Saku said, he’s going to where he met Mochi” said Aries

“he must be referring to that sewer system we fell in” said Mia “but why he felt he had to go there I don’t there”

“I’m sure it’s a good reason” said Jessamine “well regardless let’s get moving. We have no idea when Saku will be back so let’s get to it” everyone put their arms in the air ready to start.

Back in the forest Saku and Mochi had arrived at the lake. Mochi looked at the lake with wonder “wow, it’s soooo big”

“yeah it’s is” said Saku tapping the floor with his feet “it should be around here somewhere” he then heard a dull metallic echo “Ah here it is. Mochi come here a moment” Mochi walked over to Saku who picked her up “alright now hold on” Saku jumped hard on the floor to which it gave away making Saku fall inside.

Saku landed a bit uncomfortably on the hard floor with Mochi on his lap “well at least I landed better than last time. Still now comes the challenge…which way to go” Mochi pulled somewhat gently on his arm

“I know…where to go” Saku sensed her unease “well to where I was anyway. Come on...this way”

“All right then Mochi…you lead the way” Mochi keeping a firm, and slightly shaking, hold on Saku’s arm, lead him down several turns and corners until they came to a set of steel double doors. Mochi looked quite afraid of what was on the other side “just stay behind me Mochi” Saku pressed a nearby button to which the doors opened and creaked to life.

As the doors opened what greeted them…was beyond description besides a laboratory room. Several machines and consoles laid scattered about this rather large rectangular room. Saku was weary in-case guards were present but mostly found the place empty “What is this place?” Saku tried turning on one of the consoles “nope, no power or I’m not pressing the right buttons” Saku headed further back into the room

“Big Brother…look over there” Mochi pointed to tall glass tubes.

Saku went up to one of them to see them filled with green liquid “these remind me of those bio-growing tanks that you see in sci-fi movies” Mochi stepped up to the glass gently putting her hand on its surface “What’s the matter?”

“This feels…so familiar” just then a sound of footsteps could be heard “whose there?”

“I’d show yourself if I were you” said Saku seriously to which a garbed figure gingerly emerged round the corner “I thought this place had someone crawling around”

“Please, I don’t want to hurt anyone” the voice sounded female and quite young “please don’t” Mochi looked curiously at this person “I’m just here watching the lab”

“Well…you look harmless enough” said Saku lowering his guard while Mochi walked to the woman

“Don’t I…know you?” asked Mochi while the young woman looked at Mochi

“Wait…you’re…#109!”

Saku looked quite surprised by this “wait you know Mochi?”

“Mochi?” said the woman “Oh wait…that was the name I gave to the successful girl”

“to the…successful girl? I don’t understand?” the woman took off her hood to reveal her face “What the?” Saku saw the young woman had a face…one he knew very well

“You…look like me” said Mochi looking what was her spitting image.

The girl had Mochi’s face, hair and even body to the last detail. Even her voice sounded very similar just more mature “I am…number 97 of the aura warrior project”

“Number 97?” said Saku slowly “That sounds like…a serial number”

“It is…a number” said #97 sadly “how do you know #109…I mean Mochi?”

“well Saku is my big brother” said Mochi looking up at Saku “he’s saved me from this place and has been looking after me” #97 looked completely happy to the point of crying

“Mochi was hiding from you lot in this dark place” said Saku

“don’t blame her. To be honest” said #97 with a great tone of sadness “we are made…not born”

Saku watched #97 walk to the green container with a sense of sadness “The Aura warrior project. A project designed to create fighters from the B.U.S of others. Everyone one of us, including the little one…are all artificially created” Mochi looked somewhat overwhelmed

“So…I don’t have a…past?” #97 nodded while Saku placed a hand on her shoulder

“We are…just dolls made by infusions of aura. We were created to be…the Leader’s army for his new world ambition. We’re void of any actual life, in-fact only a minor few can even talk. I’m…the ninety-seventh person created…and the ninety-seventh failure”

“the…ninety-seventh failure?” said Saku with a tone of anger “why are you a failure?”

“Because…I can’t…exist” said #97 “all of us are just beings made of B.U.S energy…collected from many different people. We were created to be…soldiers” #97 gripped her arm “but the project…just proved to be failure after failure”

#97 walked back to Saku gripping her arms “Those of us made by the project proved to be…unstable” #97 began to cry “Not only can we not fight…we can’t even exist probably. Without these cloaks on…we’d just…evaporate into the air” Saku remembered how terrified the man from before was

“So…that’s why the man from before…was so scared. So…can you answer me this…why is Mochi and Kieran different from the rest of you?”

#97 turned to Saku with watery eyes “The successful ones had stable B.U.S power that acted and behaved like a normal person’s. Not only could they exist properly, they can even exert and wield powers. Kieran…would be the name given…to the first sustainable male. But Mochi…was the name I gave her. They won’t counting on a girl” Mochi tugged on Saku’s arm

“I remember now, #97 found me…and taught me many things” said Mochi “she even gave me my name and…talked to me”

“Mochi…is the only female who could sustain herself, andthe only amongst us that came out as a child. We’re usually born as ready-grown adults” said #97 as she knelt down to Mochi.

“as…adults?” said Saku “I suppose that’s why it was strange”

#97 then rubbed Mochi’s head as she spoke “So I just couldn’t leave her. They wanted to more or less mold her into a weapon...which I just couldn't tolerate. I wanted to do something…to prove I could exist in some form or another” #97 then looked surprised “hey…wait a moment. Your B.U.S power…it’s self-reproducing!”

“What do you mean?” said Saku

“the problem for all of us, Kieran and Mochi included, is our B.U.S doesn’t reproduce. Since we are...artificial beings our bodies can't produce any more B.U.S. So once we use it…we simply disappear”

Saku then nodded “so…that’s why Kieran vanished into nothing. So what’s stopping Mochi then?” #97 looked at Saku

“It’s…you” said #97 “Your B.U.S flows through her. I can feel it. And it’s reproducing, so she can fight all she wants…and remain alive. Erm excuse me…may I see your power?” Saku produced a sphere of blue and red “pure aura energy! No wonder it’s self-sustaining her…I’m just…so relieved”

#97 then began to cry “I’m just…so happy for you Mochi…you can live a normal live now. I'm glad I could exist in some manner. Now I know that my life wasn't for nothing” as she wiped her eyes Saku then pressed his hand on her heart “wait what are you…” She then could feel Saku’s power flow into her

“sorry for the intrusion” said Saku as he transferred energy to her for a few moments “There we go. I performed an aura-infusion on you. If my power could sustain Mochi it can help you too And Mochi now won’t be the only one who can live normally” said Saku happily while #97 looked at herself “I think you deserve it, if you ask me”

#97’s face was paralysed with shock “I…can feel it…running…through me. And…it’s self-sustaining! I can feel it running through my body”

“Go ahead…take off the cloak” said Mochi excitedly “go on you can do it” #97 slowly and shakily moved her arm and gripped onto her cloak. Her arm shook and with a great effort threw the cloak off her. #97 was wearing a similar outfit to what Mochi originally wore underneath, a samurai like garb. She had her eyes closed tightly from fear but slowly opened them to see…she was still there “I’m…I’m not disappearing…I’m not disappearing!” #97 couldn’t come to terms with her happiness “I’m…alive. I’m actually alive”

“And you don’t look like me anymore. Even Your hair is different too” said Mochi “it’s longer and a different colour”

#97 looked at her reflection in the mirror and saw her hair was a mixture of blonde and brown. It was long and tidy while her eyes were now brown like Saku’s. Saku looked quite happy “You’re your own person now and as such we need to give you name. You can’t just call yourself by a serial code anymore”

“hey Big brother. I know a name. Why not Laura?” suggested Mochi “we could call her Laura”

“yeah that’ll work. Alright from now on you name is Laura” said Saku “so what do you think?”

“I’m…Laura” said the new christened Laura looked at her reflection carefully “I’m really here” Laura felt her arms and endowed figure “and I have my own name. I’m…my own person. I…can’t believe it. You saved me?” said Laura looking at Saku “but…why?”

“because compared to the rest of the…garbed people, you’re the only one with a good vibe about them” answered Saku “plus…you saved Mochi’s life. So it’s only fair…I return the favour…” Laura however had vaulted into Saku gripping him tightly.

Laura was crying while gripping onto Saku tightly “thank you…” Laura then let go wiping her eyes “thank you…so much”

“No problem” said Saku “well we know your name but you don’t know mine. I’m Saku nice to meet you”

“And you know mine already” said Mochi happily sticking her arm in the air “so how do you feel?”

“So happy they’ll need to invent a new word” said Laura “There’s nothing I can say to express my thanks” Mochi looked really happy

“Hey Laura, why don’t you come back with us. With Big brother?” said Mochi

“You mean…I can get out of this place?” asked Laura “then yes please” she said happily

Laura then thought of something “Oh wait… since you saved me you can save the rest of them” Saku looked a bit bewildered “I’m sure there are others who feel like I do and your B.U.S could sustain all of us! And then we can all finally live…as people”

“Big Brother…does this mean we can save everyone?” asked Mochi while Saku produced a small energy sphere

“Yeah…it does. Good or not I can’t ignore them. I’ll give each of them a chance to live a normal live, more importantly…a life to actually live” Laura looked immensely overjoyed “Laura, I think it’s time we shut this place down. No-one should be made…or born just for the sake of being a weapon or soldier”

“Then come with me” said Laura “I…Laura will lead you to the core of the place” Laura said her name with great satisfaction.

Laura had lead Saku and Mochi to a second set of steel doors but these were much larger and thicker. Laura gestured to the door “through here is the internal engine which powers this whole facility”

“The door looks pretty thick Big Brother” said Mochi “how are we going to get in?” Laura tapped a rhythmic pattern on the door and then punched the crack divide. The door as if answering this odd password opened up before them. Saku, Mochi and Laura stepped into a large room that had three axle shaped columns. The columns sounded like they were whirring and keeping the place going. Laura pointed to them

“if we can shut these engines down then this place is no more” but just as they entered the doors closed behind them “the doors…they locked”

As they turned round they heard a voice “I thought I heard some rats scurrying around in here” they turned to see Izanagi emerging from behind one of the columns “I didn’t think anyone would come here. Should you really even be here Saku? Considering you’ve got fight to prepare for. And you brought guests, ah the little experiment” Mochi looked rather annoyed “we’ve missed you, it’s a shame you’ve become useless to us now though. And you…” said Izanagi looking at Laura “I haven’t seen you before”

“Izanagi” said Saku angrily cutting him off “You’ve got some explaining to do. Why is your leader creating, literally, an army”

Izanagi’s eyes narrowed “I see you’ve been poking your nose into our affairs. Yes…our leader is producing an army, so that when we take over the world we will be unstoppable”

“What right does it give you to play with life?” said Saku angrily “these…people aren’t even alive. They can’t even exist, like you or I. What kind of a life is that?”

“You should know, you went through half-your-life barely existing” said Izanagi sarcastically

“At least…I could live” said Saku plainly “now we are going to shut this place down and stop you playing with life”

“now…I’ll have to put my foot down there. So I’m going to stop you here…and then my glorious leader can rule the world”

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