As I Wake

I Am A Fighter

James, along with Caesar and Isiah, clutching a frightened Violet, welcomed me. Well, unwelcomed me.

“Let them go,” I demanded.

A deep laughter erupted from Caesar, like the suggestion was absurd. Isiah smiled.

“I’m afraid I can’t do that, Quorra,” James said, in a mocking tone. “We need them.”

I couldn’t stand him. Couldn’t stand what he was doing. Couldn’t stand how he said my name, using it like a weapon. As if my name was the keyword for hypnosis. Couldn’t stand how he was abusing these people. The people in the village and the ones I held dear! “But these are innocent people!”

James’ patient demeanor vanished quickly. “We are innocent people! These are not!” Referring to Team Seven. He spat the words out, like they would poison him if he didn’t. “They are far from innocent!”

“How do you know? You don’t even know them!” I fought back. “What gives you the right to judge them?”

“Because unlike you, bitch, they are shinobi,” Isiah snapped.

James placed a hand on Isiah’s shoulder, calming his precious pupil. “As Isiah puts it, they are shinobi. Meaning they must remain here.”

I didn’t understand. How did having a shinobi status possibly convey to being captured? Afraid of knowing the answer, I asked, “What do you plan on doing with them?”

James grinned, delighted I finally asked the winning question. “My dear Quorra, don’t you see? They are for the ritual.”

The air felt heavy around me. “Ritual? Ritual for what?”

His excitement oozed out of him, desperate to share the secret. “For the sacrifice, of course.”

The shock was so intense, I couldn’t hide it. “You mean you’re going to kill them?”

James nodded, satisfied I finally saw the big picture. “Yes, for the greater good.”

“That’s bullshit! You can’t do this. They didn’t do anything wrong!”

“They may not have done anything wrong, yet, but they will. It is in their genetic code. They are mutations, abominations that should never have existed. They are vile creatures with too much power and need to be eliminated. They all need to be eliminated!” He spoke with such ferocity, his neatly combed back hair became messy. Strands escaping their poised position.

To exterminate a race was a feat in itself. But to hurt thousands of people, skilled people, who trained for years to defend themselves and their land was mind-boggling. If he planned to succeed in this genocide, then he had another thing coming.

I shook my head. “There’s no way you can kill that many people. Not when they are born fighters.”

“Ah, but there is a way, naïve girl.” James said, walking over to a statue on the other side of the amphitheater.

The massive stone structure had the same intricate symbols as the front doors Violet and I entered. Stone slab covered the front of it, with a ledge, seeming to be a fountain.

The center of the statue had a creature that looked to be part man, part bull. The human part was the upper body; beast was the lower. Angry spiraling horns protruded from the man’s head. The creature held a jug with a beast’s head on it. Its mouth was open, showing large canines.

James walked up to the figure, bowed and touched the beast jar. “This, is Rakil. God of war, God of balance, God of justice. He believes that justice needs to be served. Shinobi think they are all mighty, better than everyone else, stronger. They think they can control whatever they can lay their hands on. Rakil sees this unbalance and has come to us to put a stop to it. He has blessed us with this power to ensure the end of shinobi kind.

“Remember the sword you wielded when you fought Isiah?” He unsheathed the very sword from his hilt. The gold reflected even in the dim dungeon light. “This beauty has the power to kill a shinobi with a single blow.”

I gave a puzzled look. How? Was it enchanted?

“It would be better if I showed you,” he explained.

On cue, Caesar rattled Sasuke’s chains, releasing him. He ungracefully threw Sasuke on the stone slab table.

“Now I won’t kill him, to show you the demonstration,” James reassured. “I’ll save that for later.”

James took the gifted sword and gently sliced Sasuke’s wrist, leaving barely a paper cut. The wound immediately reacted with Sasuke. As if someone injected him with the wrong type of blood, the wound hissed. Blood bubbled out of his skin. The small wound, within seconds, looked grotesque, raw. Sasuke winced in pain through his unconsciousness.

Shocked, “What did you do to him?!”

James wiped the sword clean with the end of his shirt. “I am only doing what our Lord and Savior desires. Justice.”

He took the cleaned blade to his own wrist. The flesh cut showed none of the visible symptoms Sasuke endured. “I am not an abomination. I am human. I am pure. High chakra levels do not taint my veins, tarnish my soul. That’s why this blade cuts me just like any other sword would.”

The newly found knowledge whirled in my head. Rendered me speechless. Only shinobi and people with high chakra levels were effected.

James covered his wound. Blood oozed between his fingers. “Want to know what the best part is? To enchant this sword, the power to slay a shinobi, a shinobi sacrifice is needed. That’s right. The blood that it cuts is the blood that fuels this masterpiece.” He had a crazed look in his eyes. Bloodthirsty to annihilate innocent people. This village had gone mad. I had to stop them.

“So don’t you see? As long as our God provides us with these weapons, we can’t be stopped! Shinobi can’t even touch these weapons without being burned. We will be triumphant. We will have justice! That ginger bastard should have known he couldn’t defeat us!”

Ginger bastard? What does he mean? Suddenly it all clicked into place. The gingered bastard, Bartholomew, the prisoners. Why didn’t I see this before?!

Bartholomew wasn’t trying to overrun the village because of greed. He was trying to stop James. He was aiding the slaughtered shinobi. Helping them leave the village before James could cohort and use his kind demeanor to lure them in. But James got the shinobi anyway. Used their blood and sacrificed them for more weapons.

The prisoners aided Bartholomew until they got captured. They were the resistance. How could I have been so blind?!

James saw in my eyes the gears working together. “Yes, Bartholomew was trying to stop this beautiful mission. What a stupid, foolish man. To think he would defeat us, defeat destiny, defeat Rakil!”

I couldn’t take it anymore. This was all too much for me. It was so fucked up. I could barely keep my composure together. My fists were balled up against my sides. Pinned there to prevent them from lashing out.

“You monster,” I said through clenched teeth. My nails dug into my fleshy palms.

James cocked his head, not understanding. “I’m a what?” His ignorance pushed me over the edge. No amount of bondage could have held me back from wanting to crush his pig-minded skull.

“You. Are. A. Monster! How dare you decide who should live or die!? These people are the innocent ones. You’re the one who isn’t pure. You’re the abomination for wanting to destroy anyone’s life who doesn’t meet your standards!” My pulse was through the roof. I was surprised my pounding heart could keep up. Bells rung in my ears.

James looked like he was trying to compose himself as well. Veins from his forehead and arms protruded. Rivers of anger and hatred pumping through him. But, just as quickly as it came, it left. The only thing remaining was his devilish grin.

“I’m sorry you feel that way, my dear. It’s a shame really. You could have done well here. Could have rebuilt your whole life. You could have been happy. I could have made you happy. But I see these savages have corrupted you and with much dismay, I have to bid you farewell.”

He smiled from ear to ear. “I say farewell to all of you.”

At that moment, he signaled to Caesar to start the ritual. Caesar happily approached the wall where another “blessed” weapon hung. It resembled a double bladed axe, encased in gold. The handle stretched long lengths, making it suitable to Caesar’s massive profile. Gems of various shapes and sizes encrusted it.

Sasuke was bonded by leather straps at all limbs. His head lolled on a groove in the stone slab. The groove snaked down the side of the table into a moat that encircled half of the table. It then traveled along the ground toward the Greek statue.

I realized then the blood was to flow out of the jar demon’s mouth. Sasuke’s blood would be cascading out of the mouth like a scarlet waterfall. All for another weapon to be made. Another step closer towards hurting other shinobi. I wasn’t about to let that happen. Even of my life depended on it.

Caesar rose the monster axe into the air at the moment I charged at him.

Figured, a small girl, with no weapons, charge towards a person who obviously had a mutant gene in his DNA. A plan would had helped. Any means to get an advantage, even a small one. But, no, I ran with my only weapon being my small fists and my big mouth. But, that didn’t discourage me from wanting to kick his ass!

Caesar swung his axe the moment I jumped onto the stone table and threw myself at him. It wasn’t much, but the momentum caused him to stumble backwards.

I stood on the table with my arms spread out. My emotions were an invisible force field, strong and potent. Passion, anger and determination fueled my stupidity. Stupidity to stand up against an armed man three times my size. But, these things fueled something even more important, my courage.

“Don’t you dare touch him!” I yelled, confident like a dictator’s. “You have to go through me first!”

Caesar laughed as if he was a bully and the child he picked on was trying to stand up for themselves. To him it sounded so absurd, so ridiculous, belly laughs formed.

“With pleasure,” he said as he rose his axe a second time.

I stood my ground as Caesar approached. From his smile to his dark, stone eyes, the joy radiated off him. His desire to crush me with his colossal fists made my skin crawl. I stood my ground none-the-less. I meant it when I said he would have to get through me first. I will protect Sasuke and the others.

Caesar and his mighty axe were inches from me when James interrupted him. “Not here, Caesar. I don’t want her blood tainting the ritual. Do what you want with her elsewhere.” His tone regarded me as a nuisance, a puny pest. An insignificant, a no body.

With zero reply, Caesar grunted, grabbed my wrist and ripped me off the table before I had a chance to protest.

Kicks and screams filled my lungs as he slid my body across the cold concrete. My feet planted into the ground but the smooth surface prevented any friction. Colorful profanity escaped my lips as Isiah hovered over Sasuke, ready to continue the ritual.

Mocked pity spread over James’ features. Eyes pinched, nose scrunched, like the garbage needed to be disposed.

The giant dragged me across the amphitheater to what seemed to be a small storage room. My wrist stung as he dragged me, like they were ripped out of their sockets. Caesar threw me down and slammed the door. No point in trying to escape, his statue blocked the door and then some. Alone with the monster. In the dark with only the moon shining through a small window.

Quickly scanning the room, there wasn’t much laying around. A table, few chairs, a broom and a shelf with some kick-knacks such as cloth and herbs for the ritual, I assumed.

Fuck.

I needed a weapon. Instinctively, I distanced myself from him and grabbed the broom stick and snapped the head off it with my foot. I held it in front of me, trying to control my nerves as the broom handle shook.

Caesar found my attempt funny as he let out a low chuckle. “That won’t help you here, mouse.”

He leaned his weapon along the wall adjacent to the doorway. “I won’t be needing that.”

The knot in my stomach loosened. The realization of this situation suddenly became clear to me. He called me mouse which meant he saw me as small and helpless. He thought he could dispose of me easily. The silence between us became a Zen. It disinfected all emotion from before. Any fear I had before vanished. I knew what I needed to do.

“Don’t call me mouse,” I snarled, tightening the grip on my makeshift weapon.

Caesar walked closer. “No? Then what should I-.”

I didn’t let him finish his sentence as I swung the broom stick toward his temples.

Shocked, he stumbled back. “You fucking bitch.”

I was about to take another swing when I heard a chuckle rise from him. “You’re a feisty one, aren’t you, mouse?”

Thrown off guard, I quickly rose my weapon again but it was too late. He charged towards me. The mountainous creature, within second, had me pinned against the wall. The momentum knocked the broom out of my hand.

Caesar loomed over me. His muscular body twitched with adrenaline. Muscles bulged showing off their greatness. His face inched closer to mine. His black eyes so dark that the pupils were barely recognizable. Dark as obsidian.

The scar that ran down his face, up close, looked like it didn’t heal right. Like he didn’t receive stitches and, as a result, a deep groove formed. Skin desperately stretched across the wound in attempt to repair itself. Each shallow breath from the ogre moved my bangs slightly. His breath smelled like rotten flesh and his teeth looked like hell.

His grimacing face inched forward. “You’re right. You’re not a mouse.”

I didn’t dare say anything or move. He continued, “No, mice don’t have your eyes. Your eyes glow, like a cat’s.”

He stared my body up and down. “You’re a feline. You’re nothing more than a kitten.” He purred as if a cat himself.

My body turned to ice. I pressed my body closer toward the wall. Wishing to sink away.

He leaned his head towards the nape of my neck. At first, I thought he was going to bite me, but instead took a deep breath.

“Ah, yes. You smell like cherry blossoms,” he mumbled into my neck and moaned.

Realizing what his intentions were, my stomach was in my throat. I was going to be sick.

Before I could do anything, I felt a tongue, his tongue, force its way into my mouth. His tongue was large and foul as it explored mine.

I tried to stop it and pushed away, but he was too strong. Caesar had one hand under my tattered shirt, the other on my shoulder. His thumb dug into my collar bone.

I rooted deep inside my soul for my shinobi skills. Tried to find the power and strength that was hidden to conjure up a shadow clone. To do anything, reveal any power. Anything, to save myself from this monster. But, my brain was too fuzzy. I felt so disoriented, so disconnected from my mind and body. I was frozen. His massive hand that covered most of my abdomen crept upwards.

I felt panic but also something else, rage. Rage for ever believing I was something more than an ordinary girl. Rage for thinking I could be a shinobi, ever. For Kakashi as his dull expressions staring at me with certainty that I was something more. So much for that. Look where that has gotten me.

Some other emotion crept up towards the surface, begging to be recognized. The trademark emotion for cocky people who got stuck in unfortunate situations. Pride.

But for me, this fueled me. I was okay with the girl I was; ordinary, shinobi, whatever. Just because I was not a shinobi didn’t mean I didn’t know how to defend myself. Every day I trained with Kakashi and Team Seven. Sure, it was brutal but every moment sparring with Sasuke, practicing chakra control with Sakura, and having celebratory ramen with Naruto made me stronger than the day before.

I wanted to be engulfed in rage, let the anger run its course. But, that wouldn’t save me. My pride will. Like I told myself before, I was a fighter!

I bite fiercely down on Caesar’s tongue, tasting blood. He jerked away from shock and pain but not fast enough for me to knee him in the genitals.

A deep howl escaped his throat as I wedged myself from the wall and dashed to the door. My fingers graced the handle when Caesar grabbed my ankle and yanked me backwards. The sudden movement slammed my ribs onto the ground, knocking the breath out of me.

I kicked blindly with my free leg, connecting his chin and rocketed towards the door a second time and managed to swing it open, wildly.

My foot reached outside the door when what felt like a massive bear trap grabbed the back of my skull. Caesar took my head with one hand and slammed the door on my temples. Small white lights sparkled in front of me as my body sunk to the ground.

My vision remained patchy, in a way that mimicked a black veil over my eyes. My head pulsated as the room spun rapidly.

A heavy mass hovered over my flimsy body. A monster’s breath fogged me, hands grabbed me at various places. I wanted it to stop, but couldn’t differentiate between up and down. Laughter surrounded me, but couldn’t pin-point its source. I swatted aimlessly until both my arms were pinned over my head. Sweaty claws crept up my leg, begging to explore my skin. My mouth opened but no screams escaped. My voice was mute once again.

My faith was sealed when blue light flashed in my vision. I thought they were the stars again until I realized they weren’t stars… it was lightening.

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