Criterion Effect: Norok Chronicles - In Search of Titan's Wings

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Chapter 6

Sublocation - Eagle’s Storage Building, Divergence Wings

Innerlocation - Common Room

When nine a.m. rolled around, the three kas were still sleeping, which didn’t surprise the three veterans one bit; first real battles take a lot out of one. They had woken up several hours earlier and were discussing the events of last night and what laid ahead. Thirty odd minutes later, the two Elvenkai got up and by the time Kurara showed signs of life, the two were on the couch under the window eating breakfast. Noticing this, Kaz suggested a break and went to go check on the young female Genohuman. When he had reached her, her legs were already swung over the edge of her bed, holding her head in her hands.

“Morning Kurara. How are you holding up?” Kaz asked as he offered her a glass of water.

The Hime accepted the glass without looking at her sensei and took a sip. “Ok I guess, consider what happen last night.” She shook her head as she got up and made her way to the counter where she placed the glass as she sat down. As soon as she finished the water, she went to the fridge, looked around for a moment, then grabbed a carton of orange juice, and filled her empty glass as she sat back down. Taking a sip, she turned around to look at the room and settled on Yoshio and Sunchina. “So, how long have those two been flirting?”

“Oh, them,” Soul asked with a smile, handing the female Genohuman a plate of food. “Ever since they got up,” he looked at Yoshio and Sunchina then studied Kurara for a moment. “Why? Jealous?”

She saw where this was going and if it wasn’t so early in the morning, she might have chosen to play along, “Maybe.” Turning back to her breakfast, her thoughts turned to her boyfriend, Trip, causing her to take out a holo-image of him.

About twenty minutes later, everyone was done with what they were doing and gathered around the briefing table in the next room. Like every other room in the building, this room was plain with the exception of various maps of Norok and her continents, Negito and her countries, and various weapons on display. Unlike the rest of the tables in the building, the one everyone was sitting at was circular and could sit about nine people. Eagle, Kaz, and Soul sat on one side while the kas sat on the other; Eagle sat between Kaz and Soul while Yoshio sat between the two girls. “Morning people,” Eagle greeted as he took a sip of his grape juice.

“Good is a relative term,” Yoshio commented, still half asleep.

“Noted,” Eagle said as he put his cup down, ignoring the comment. “Is everyone else awake?”

The three kas looked at each other than at their kouchou as if he was crazy and in unison, said very strongly, “NO.”

Eagle let out a laugh before he replied, “Good to see you’re all morning people.” A moment later, Kaz and Soul joined in the laughter. “Ok, to the point of this briefing,” he was about to continue when a beep started coming from the console in front of Eagle. Pressing it, a hologram of King Ginta appeared in the center of the table, causing everyone to stand a bow.

“Morning everyone,” Ginta said, acknowledging their bow. “How is everyone doing?”

“As well as can be expected after last night’s ambush,” Eagle replied as he signaled everyone to sit down.

Ginta nodded before continuing. “On that note, Eagle has informed me of the situation late last night. Congratulations on surviving your first assassin ambush, not any easy task indeed.”

“Thank you, your Highness,” Yoshio responded for his fellow companions.

“Were you able to confirm that the contract was from who we suspected?” Ginta directed towards Eagle.

“Unfortunately no. I made a few calls to my contacts in the Assassin Order and they were unable to confirm who hired Freyr Kugiahma and his crew,” Eagle answered, shaking his head. “But with the orders we found in Kugiahma’s pocket along with the type of tagger that was watching us, we have circumstances evidence that it is.”

“That is very unfortunate indeed my friends,” Ginta acknowledged, not happy at all to hear the confirmation. His advisor had played a huge role in Divergence Wings’ functioning.

“What makes it worse was he was a valued comrade back in the day,” Kaz chimed in. “I would have never pegged him for turning. Is he responsible for the theft of Titan’s Wings?”

“Technically we haven’t found anything that points to him but under the circumstances, he is our primary suspect,” the Elvenkai King answered. “That reminds me. Eagle, I’m recalling you to the castle.”

Eagle knew this was coming but for the sake of his kas, he asked, “May I ask why?”

“As you can imagine, the Elite Order didn’t take too kindly to finding out that one of their own, former or otherwise, was behind everything and are requesting a full dossier on him. Seeing how you were his commander years ago, you’re the best source of information on what he is capable of.”

“Fair enough,” Eagle replied with a nod. “Is there any way to do this digitally or do I have to come in?”

“The Order is requesting that you come in and are unwilling to wait until you were scheduled to get back.”

“That’s the Order for you. I’ll depart as soon as I get these guys underway.”

“I figured as much,” the King said with a nod. “Good hunting gang.” With that, the hologram dissipated.

“Well this complicates things,” Eagle said as he leaned back in the chair.

“How?” Yoshio asked, not sure what he was getting at.

“Well I had planned on taking you guys to LowTi Village and depart there. Oh well. Things change,” Eagle said as he leaned forward and started pressing some keys. “Ok, here’s today’s goal, reach LowTi Village and find a man named Negi Toroc. He has information and some training you guys need.” Eagle called up a holo-image of where LowTi was compared to their current location. A couple of moments later, he called up the location of Diverray. “Once you’re done there, make your way to Diverray to meet one of our contacts, Toati, he has information about Titan’s Wings.” Eagle stood up, “Any question?”

“Who exactly attacked us last night?” Yoshio asked, curious about who they had a possible chance of encountering again.

Eagle looked at Yoshio, somewhat expecting this from his. “They were the Yo Ying Crew. The assassins you faced last night were new, well except for Shadow and Yuji.”

“It’s been a while since I’ve faced them,” Kaz commented. “There were a bit disappointing.”

“Be that as it may,” Eagle nodded “They were still extremely dangerous. There is a reason they have the reputation they have.”

“So there were the guys you used to battle on a regular bases way back when?” Yoshio asked, trying to understand everything from last night.

“More or less,” Eagle confirmed. “Like I said, there had a few new members.”

“You three survived an attack from arguably the top assassin crew in the entire Assassin Order,” Soul pointed out, trying to encourage them. “Not many people can say that.”

“I hate to be the one to say it but if they were the best, you over exaggerated their skills,” Yoshio commented.

“Don’t get cocky there Yosh,” Eagle said raising a hand. “They underestimated you guys. They won’t make that mistake again, trust me on that. Odds are, by the time this mission is over, you guys will encounter them at least one more time. Ok. Any questions regarding last night or the goal for today?”

The kas looked at each other, waiting for one another to say something.

When none of the kas said anything, eagle continued. “Look, you three did great last night. I couldn’t have asked for a better display of skill and discipline from a ka. I couldn’t have asked for better kas on this mission. Now gear up and meet me outside by the garage. I have something special for you guys.” He turned and walked out of the room and a moment later everyone got up and followed suit.

Minutes later they were in the common area, gathering their gear. As Yoshio got his katana off the shelf and partly unsheathed it, he felt warm arms wrap around his chest and a chin on his right shoulder. “What’s up Yosh?” Kurara asked curiously.

He put his katana back in its sheath then back on the shelf and turned around to return the Genohuman’s hug. “Nothing much, why?”

“You see a bit down.”

“Nope. I’m good,” Yoshio answered as he pattered her on the head and turned back to his gear. Kurara smiled and did the same. Once he was geared up, he headed towards the back and stopped when Sunchina grabbed his hand. “What’s up Sunchina?”

“What was that about?” Sunchina answered sternly with straight face.

The two continued their way to the garage as Yoshio answered, What? That? Kurara was just saying hi.”

“A bit friendly for a “hi” don’t you think?” Sunchina questioned, her tone warning Yoshio to choose his words wisely.

Yoshio stopped to carefully consider his word because the thought of Sunchina getting even a little jealous… “Maybe, but that’s how she is. You ought to know better than anyone.”

Although she wasn’t totally convinced, Sunchina was forced to agree on that point. In the back of her mind however, she was thinking up a way to deal with Kurara. Lucky for her, everyone knew she was territorial from time to time.

ROUGHTLY TEN MINUTES LATER…

Everyone was gathered in the front of the open garage geared up, bikes ready to roll, and as usual, waiting on Eagle. A moment later the Human came out and stood in front of the group. Like everyone else, he was packed and ready to go. In his right hand, he held three items.

“I’d like to say it’s been an interesting run but we all know there is a lot more in store for you guys,” he walked over to the kas and gave them each an item. “These are for you,” he said as they examined them like little kids with new toys. They looked like sword hilts but cylindrical and each had a different design to them.

Yoshio’s hilt was curved towards the end and at the top of the were two flat like spikes that were parallel to each other. An inch up for the hilt was a cylindrical piece that held the spikes upright.

Sunchina’s hilt on the other hand was less complex. Her hilt was straight with the grip of a katana. The bottom of her hilt was rounded like a katana and at the top was a spike that curved inward.

Kurara’s hilt was the simplest of the three for hers looked exactly like the hilts of her katana, except cylindrical.

As the three held their new weapons, a smile came to Yoshio and Sunchina’s face. “Is this what I think it is?” Sunchina asked before the other two had a chance to.

“Yes they are Sunchina,” Eagle answered as Sunchina’s smile became an over the top giddy grin. “Those are darkBlades, modified, but still darkBlades. You guys aren’t supposed to start learning about these until next year but considering the mission…”

Being typical Kurara, she still confused about what her new weapon was. “Um…what exactly are darkBlades and why are they modified?”

“I thought you were brought up by your grandpa?” Sunchina asked, confused as to why Kurara was confused.

“Yeah, so?” Kurara replied.

“So, considering who your grandpa is, I would have thought darkBlade training would have been part of your upbringing.”

Sunchina was about to press the issue but Eagle interrupted her and started to answer Kurara’s original question. “A darkBlades is a weapon that was developed and perfected over the entire course of the Order’s history. In a nutshell, darkBlades are the ultimate weapons for some people because it requires a lot of focus to ignite, not to mention to maintain, and fight while the blade is active. Unlike conventional energy based weapons, darkBlades have practically no technology in them what so ever and can only be activated through channeling rune or arcana through them. With the blade being pure rune or arcana, the color of the blade depends on the crystal you insert into the hilt. Because pure rune and arcana is dark in color, the core of the blade is near black, making the outer color dark. Hence their name, darkBlades.” Eagle walked over to Yoshio, “May I see yours for a second?”

“Sure,” Yoshio said as he handed his over to Eagle.

“You guys will learn how to use these properly when you meet Negi. Anyways, since you don’t know how to channel your powers in order to use a darkBlade, the only way you guys can activate it is by pressing the activation button near the top.” Eagle stepped back and activated Yoshio’s darkBlade by channeling cosmic energy. A moment later, there was a hissing sound as a blade appeared. Like Eagle said, the center of the blade was near black, making the outer color dark, and in this case, dark violet. Kurara, more than the other two, was too dazed to form words. Eagle deactivated it and handed it back to the young male Elvenkai. “Activate it and see how it feels.” With that, the kas gave each other some room and activated their weapons; Sunchina’s blade color was dark silver while Kurara’s was dark green. As they twirled and twisted them, they were surprised at how light they were as well as how easy they were to maneuver.

Deactivating their new weapons, they gathered in front of Eagle. “Thank you so much Sir! I can’t believe this!” Sunchina thanked, not bothering to hide her excitement. She looked at her new weapon once more then placed it next to the storage jewel on her BracerTech, and watch get absorbed.

“This is a rare honor indeed, considering, but why give them to us?” Yoshio asked, not sure why they would need such a weapon.

“Why? Because you guys will need them later, especially if you’re going to fight who I think you’re going to fight. Besides, you would have gotten one next year anyways. The only difference is you would have built it. Think about it this way, you’re ahead of the curve, like usual.” He stepped back and looked at the group that would restore some order to this messed up continent; three Year Four kas of Elite Academy, the Archkei of the Guards and Snipers of Baldur Castle, and his dear friend and sensei of Elite Academy and Vickei of Elite Order. These five would succeed where all others filed, recovering Titan’s Wings while saving Negito from another way.

“Well then, I think it’s time we went our separate ways,” without warning, his kas gave him a group hug. He managed to wiggle his way out, and then headed towards Kaz and Soul, and as he shook their hands, he gave them additional information on a digital pad that they would need for later. “This isn’t goodbye, merely a ‘see ya later and good luck’. Remember, when you reach LowTi, look for a man named Negi. He’s easy to find and he’ll help you on your journey, in a way.” With that, the group mounted their bikes and headed north to LowTi Village and as Eagle watch them go, he got a new sense of hope for the future.

Sub-location - LowTi Village, Divergence Wings

Inner-location - Midlevel Streets

Several hours later, the group finally reached LowTi Village. Their drive there had been surprisingly peaceful and consequently, boring. Kaz had expected something to happen, consider their journey thus far. Instead of driving through the village, Kaz decided to drop their bikes off at a garage and walk the streets. LowTi was a small village with only two tiers to it; the outskirts and the center. “So where do you think this guy is?” Kurara asked as she took in the sights of the building and lack of trees.

Yoshio turned around to answer her, “Who knows. Even though Eagle said he was easy to find, it’s not like there’s going to be a big sign with the guy’s name on it or anything.” The Elvenkai started to laugh when he felt a tap on his shoulder. “What’s up Sensei?” he asked as he turned around to face the Genohuman.

“You might want to turn around,” Kaz replied, nodding him to turn around and look ahead.

“Alright,” Yoshio answered as he did what his sensei told him to. As he did, he nearly fell over at what he saw; a building with a “TOROC” sign. “Are you kidding me? Who has a sign with their name on it?!” he shouted in surprise.

A moment later, he felt a pain on the back of his head. “Will you stop complaining. You’re embarrassing me,” Sunchina said as she shook her head.

“Alright, alright. You didn’t have to hit me though,” Yoshio complained as he rubbed the back of his head.

“Enough you two,” Kurara interrupted. “Let’s go see what this guy can teach us.” She strolled right past the two Elvenkai. As she did, Yoshio and Sunchina gave each other a look and a moment later, Kaz and Soul followed Kurara, trying to contain their laughter.

As they walked in, the first thing they noticed was the size of the place. It looked small on the outside but once inside, it was a whole different story; it was a whole lot bigger. There was an upper level as well as a lower level below the walk-in level. Even though there was a walk-in level, customers had to walk on either side to reach it because of the two hundred foot gap between the railing and the walk-in floor.

Not waiting for the rest of the group, Kurara was already making her way to the walk-in platform and by the time the group reached her, she was already talking to the female Genohuman behind the desk about Negi Toroc. A second later she was on the P.A. system, “Boss Toroc, you are need at the center platform. Boss to the center platform please. Thank you.” She turned off the P.A. and turned back to Kurara. “He’ll be right with you sweetie.”

“Thanks,” Kurara answered as she turned around to greet everyone. Before she could say anything, a person appeared behind her and Kaz motioned for her to turn around. As she did, she was greeted by a rather young looking Genohuman with only two rows of head spikes, hazel eyes, and no hair.

“Greetings. I’m Negi Toroc and I run this joint. I hear you wanted to see me,” Negi greeted as he extended a hand to the Genohuman, who was frozen.

With Kurara stuck speechless, Kaz stepped up and accepted his hand. “I’m Kaz Sanaya. We’re here on behalf of Eagle Rei, our mutual friend.

“I see,” Negi said taking a step back. “You guys must be the appointment I’ve been waiting for. I’ll just need to verify some information for me,” the Genohuman said as he pulled out a digital pad.

Kaz nodded, “Ok. What do you need?”

“Your thumb print,” Negi answered, handing Kaz the pad.

Without hesitation or taking his eye off of the Genohuman, Kaz accepted the pad, and placed his thumb on the center of the screen. When the program stopped scanning and the screen lit up green, Kaz handed it back to Negi.

After a moment of looking over the data now displayed on the screen, Negi turned it off and smiled,” Just as I thought.”

Yoshio and Sunchina look at Negi confused.

“Security check my young Elvenkai,” Negi answered. “Mr. Sanaya-”

“Please call me Kaz,” Kaz interrupted. He hated being called by his last name by people who were his equal.

“Kaz, it’s an honor to meet you. Eagle had told me many talks of your exploits.”

“All good things I hope,” Kaz joked.

As the two Genohumans conversed, Yoshio couldn’t help but be amazed. “I had no idea Kaz was such a big shot.”

“Really?” Sunchina asked, a bit surprised. “You didn’t get that impression from the stories he told during class?”

“Well, yeah but come on, those were stories, this is real life.”

Soul couldn’t help but laugh at the elvenkai as they continued their conversation.

“Are you guys ready?” Kaz asked, looking back at the three.

Soul nodded and Negi replied, “Well then, follow me.” He walked past the group, across the bridge that connected the side of the store and the center platform, and turned right to the back of the store. Reaching the door, he pulled out a two pronged key, placed it in the lock, and when he turned it to the left, the door opened to an elevator. Once everyone was in and the door closed, the Genohuman placed the same key in another key hole but turned it to the right this time. A moment later, the elevator started to go down.

“Are you ok,” Kaz asked in a whisper as he turned to the Aeronok.

“Yeah. Why?” Soul returned, not sure where the question was coming from.

“The business with Jordava can’t be easy to deal with. I just wanted to make sure you were ok.

Hearing the name of Jordava, Negi turned around to look at Soul. “I’m sorry to hear about the village. I had a couple of friends there. The village didn’t deserve that.”

“You can say that again,” Soul agreed.” Don’t worry about it. I’m fine.”

A moment later, the elevator stopped and the doors opened. Being the first one out, Yoshio looked around, “Whoa!”

“Like it?” Negi asked as he stepped out of the elevator behind the male Elvenkai.

“Hard not to,” Yoshio answered, not knowing where to look. He felt like a kid in a toy store. To his left was a person area with bunks and lockers. To his right was the kitchen area with cabinets and a table big enough to fit ten people. Looking down to the training area, he saw what he guessed were restroom and showers to the left and some type of locker to the right of it. On the back wall were work stations filled with every tool imaginable to build things from weapons to equipment. To his left were what looked like equipment lockers and wedged between the workbench and the lockers were several matter replicators.

When everyone was out of the elevator, Kaz moved next to Negi, “Let me introduce you the rest of my group Negi.” Kaz started off with Yoshio. “This is Yoshio Sanjuro. To his left is Sunchina Aya and behind her is Kurara Yukari. On the other side of Yoshio is Archkei Soul Weston.”

“It’s nice to meet all of you. Congratulations on winning that tournament of yours you three. That was quite the tournament. Once again I’m Negi Toroc. You can call me Negi,” he said as he shook everyone’s hand. “So, why did Eagle send you my way?”

“He said you were one of the few people who could teach them the basics of darkBlades in a short time,” Kaz answered. “I do have one question before we start though.”

“What makes me qualified to teach an accelerated course of the basics of darkBlades?” Negi asked, anticipating Kaz’s question. Kaz nodded in reply. “I used to be a member of the Elite Order. That’s where I met our friend Eagle. I was a combat instructor, more specifically advanced techniques. That means I know all the ins and out of both darkBlades and liteBlades.”

“I see,” Kaz said, unable to help but feel impressed. “Well then, I’ll leave them to you.”

“You said you used to be part of the Order, what do you do now?” Yoshio asked, intrigued. What could be more exciting than a life in the Order? He thought to himself.

“I consult for the Order every now and then ‘cause let’s face it, you never truly leave the Order. The other time, I do R&D for the NX Corporation.”

“Why does that sound familiar?” Sunchina asked, knowing she had heard that name before.

“They are responsible for the BracerTech technology you guys are using as well as the jewel storage system.”

“Ah,” Sunchina remembered with a nod.

“Any other questions?” Negi asked, remembering the last time he had a group of kas. With none of them saying anything, Negi nodded and made his way to a cabinet that was on the right wall, opened it and took out one of his darkBlades, which was twice the length of the three kas.

“There are three basic styles to the darkBlade; single, dual, and double, like mine. Because mine is a double bladed darkBlade, the hilt needs to be longer than the average hilt.” He then activated it and a blade came alive at both ends of the hilt; one side was dark silver and the other was a dark crimson red. Negi did a couple of maneuvers to show what the double bladed weapon could do. As he finished his demonstration, he continued, “There’s a unique feature to the double bladed over the other two styles,” he shifted his hands in opposite directions and pulled the two halves apart. “Double bladed hilts can become two single hilts,” again he demonstrated some twirls and other dangerous moves. A moment later he deactivated the two hilts and reconnected them, then clipped the hilt to his belt. “Even though a double bladed hilt can become two single hilts, not all single hilts can become a double bladed hilt.” While he looked at the group to see what they were thinking, he stretched out his arms. “For the next two weeks, this Solki inspired dojo will be your training ground. Whether it’s training time or normal activities, you’ll learn a lot. When I think you’re ready, I’ll help you construct your own darkBlades.”

“I thought knowledge of how to build darkBlades was lost during the Great Conspiracy?” Sunchina asked, being a history buff.

“That’s what the Elite Order and historians would like you to think,” Negi started. “The original darkBlade designs were lost during that time, forcing the Order to construct new, improved versions as well as the first generations of the liteBlades.”

“I’ll go along with that,” Sunchina said, then added under her breath, “For now.”

“Who cares?” Kurara commented. “I would rather know about what a Solki inspired dojo means.”

“That is a good question,” Negi acknowledged. “Basically, a Solki training room is a room where time flows differently. In other words, this room is designed to manipulate time and space. The setting on this particular room are set for every ten days in here is one day in real time. Our plan is twenty days or two weeks in real time. With that being said, who can tell me how long that is in Solki time?”

“Two hundred days or five months, give or take,” Sunchina answered without thinking.

“Exactly. Almost half a year,” Negi answered.

“Now, because it’s going to be a rather rough training session, the least I could do is give you these,” Kaz said as he reached into his pocket, took out a Capsule Tech container, pulled out three pills, and tossed one to each of the kas.

“Is this what I think it is?” Sunchina asked as she caught the pill.

“Open it and find out,” Kaz responded.

As she did, an Elite Academy ka darkBlade uniform popped out. A grin came to her face when she way four violet year stripes on the pants, a cosmic division patch on its sleeve, the Elite Academy patch on the back, a strip with her year number and last name. For once, Sunchina was speechless.

“Well this is certainly unexpected,” Yoshio said. “But none the less, thank you Sensei.”

“No problem,” Kaz answered, looking at Sunchina. “I know you guys would have gotten them next year but given the situation, I thought it would be appropriate. I can’t have you doing darkBlade training in the wrong uniform,” the Genohuman sensei said with a laugh. The kas laughed as they went to change into their new uniforms.

o0o

For the first thirty weeks, Negi trained the three kas in the basic forms of darkBlades; carefully explaining the rights and wrongs, how to hold and use one correctly, what the colors meant, and the many types of hilts and types of darkBlades. Because a real darkBlade had no activation button, the user of a darkBlade had to channel either arcana or rune through the hilt to active what little moving parts it had. They also had to maintain a constant flow of rune or arcana in order to maintain the blade and control its length and width. Some of the many types darkBlade hilts are extended single hilt, tanto, tanfa, cane, staff, phase (allows the darkBlade to operate in different environments), curved, arm katar, and hybrid. There were nine common colors the Elite Orders use in their darkBlades; dark blue, dark green, dark violet, dark silver, dark yellow/gold, dark pink, dark crimson red, black, and grey. Dark blue, green, and crimson red were usually seen by the warriors of the Order. Dark violet was used by users who used both the light and dark aspects of rune and arcana. Dark silver and dark yellow were used by users who preferred diplomacy over fighting. Dark pink was used by users who do whatever it takes to get the job done, fighting or otherwise. Black and grey were rare colors and meant the user was consumed by the extreme aspects of rune and arcana. Black was used by those who solely used the darker aspects of rune and arcana while grey was used by those who solely used the lighter aspects of rune and arcana.

While the kas were getting trained by Negi, Soul was getting a refresher from Kaz. Soul was familiar with darkBlades but was never really comfortable with one, so Kaz was tasked with brushing him up on the various styles he had learned as well as some new ones. The second half of training seemed to go by faster than the first and by that point, the kas were actually sparring at a level they would if there were using swords. Between the lessons and sparring sessions, they continued to build the hilt of their own darkBlades. Throughout the whole process, Negi couldn’t help but feel proud because of all the people he had trained, these three kas were the fastest learners he had ever trained. As the second week in real world time was wrapping up, so did the construction of the kas’ first real darkBlades. The main difference between the ones they made and the ones Eagle gave them, were the ones they made them were real ones with no activations or safety button. The designs of the hilts they created resembled the ones they were given but had some differences to their design. They even used the same color crystals except for Kurara, who decided to make her new blade dark blue. Sunchina’s new hilt was an exact copy of the one Eagle gave her. Yoshio’s on the other hand was a hybrid; one end darkBlade, the other a blaster. Rule of thumb for Negi when training a group of kas was never to have a favorite but he couldn’t help but favor Kurara.

It was the morning of the one hundred and forty-first day of training in the dojo, fifteenth real word, around 5:30 in the morning and everyone was up and training. About ten minutes later, Negi strolled in and got their attention, “Look gang, you guys have been great and I’m really happy to say that the accelerated training is complete and ahead of schedule.” The three would have smiled if it wasn’t for the last part of Negi’s sentence. “However, you have to pass one final test.”

“Awesome!” Yoshio said, somewhat expecting this. “What test?”

“It’s quite simple actually. You have to stay in the ring for two minutes without being hit. As you three know, a lot can happen in those two minutes.” Negi walked to the center of the floor and activated his double bladed darkBlade, “Yoshio, you’re up first.”

Yoshio smiled as he walked to meet Negi in the middle of the room and activated his darkBlade as soon as the start bell rang. Over the course of the next two minutes, Yoshio managed to block as well as dish out complex moves without getting hit. Just as the bell rang, Yoshio’s blade crossed centimeters within striking his instructor’s chest. A moment later they deactivated their weapons. “Very good Yoshio,” the Genohuman said as the two bowed to each other and Yoshio made his way back to the group.

“Sunchina,” Negi called from the battle circle, once more activating his darkBlade. Sunchina smiled as she passed Yoshio who wished her luck. As soon as she reached the circle, the bell rang, and Sunchina activated her blade and took the offensive. About a minute and a half later, Negi switched to offense, putting Sunchina on the defensive and making her think on her feet. As Sunchina bent backwards to avoid a chest strike, the bell rang again and the two deactivated their blades, bowed, and Sunchina made her way back to the group.

Finally, Negi thought with a smile. “And last but not least, Kurara you’re up.” Negi had trained her a bit differently when he got to know her better; he developed her further in the dual style. With a flick of his wrist, his double bladed darkBlade became two single hilts and while he clipped one to his belt, he activated the other while Kurara ignited both of hers. The start bell rang and Kurara took the initiative. For the next minute and a half the two switched between offense and defense. In the brief moment there was a space between the two, Negi unclipped his other darkBlade and reattached it. Pressing for the advantage, he managed to knock Kurara’s dark blue blade out of her hand.

Trying to keep her instructor from hitting her, Kurara used rune and pushed Negi back, causing him to land on his back. Before either of them could do anything, the bell rang, ending the match. Deactivating her blade, she called the other one back while Negi got up and clipped his darkBlade back to his belt.

“Well done Kurara,” Negi said, patting her on the back. “Congrats, all three of you passed.”

“Hold up Negi,” Kaz interrupted as he placed a hand on Soul’s shoulder. “There’s still one more person that needs to past this test of yours.”

“Say what?!” the Aeronok asked in surprise.

“It’s only fair,” Kurara teased.

“Yeah, I mean we all trained and had to take the test. Since you trained too, it’s only fair,” Sunchina stated.

Soul looked at Negi then back to Kaz. “Fine, let’s get this over with,” he said with a sigh. “I’m an Archkei in the Divergence Wings Military Order and I’m taking a kitty test,” Soul mumbled to himself, walking to the battle circle.

“Alrighty then,” the Genohuman agreed. As Negi walked out to the center of the floor, Negi only activated one side of his darkBlade while Soul unclipped his liteBlade from the back of his belt and activated it, allowing a light grey blade to come to life, “Interesting choice,” Negi commented as he got into his stance.

“Yeah, well, it’s not like I had a choice,” Soul answered with a shrug. “I never had a darkBlade but I did earn this a couple hundred years ago.”

“It’ll do just fine,” Negi said with a nod. A moment later the start bell rand and Negi rushed in for a sweep. Not at all impressed with Negi’s opening move, Soul jumped to avoid the strike while at the same time, kicking Negi in the side of the head, sending him falling to the ground. Landing, Soul distanced himself from the Genohuman.

As the Genohuman turned his back to him, Negi threw his darkBlade, hoping to hit Soul in the back.

Looking back just in time, the Aeronok ducked forward and when he realized it was coming back towards him, he bend backwards, narrowly missing the blade. At the minute mark, the two were back to attacking and defending. Negi tried to twist Soul’s liteBlade out of his hand, it back fired, allowing Soul to take the upper hand and disarm him. As the Genohuman looked back at Soul, he found the tip of Soul’s liteBlade an inch away from his face. Before Negi could react, the end bell rang.

Soul deactivated his weapon, helped Negi up, and as he turned back towards the group, he found the kas with a look of wonder on their faces. “What?” he asked as if he took the test merely as practice.

“Remind us not to get on your bad side,” Yoshio joked.

“Yeah, well,” Soul said as he reached the group. “Now that I’ve passed this little test, can we go now?” he looked at Kaz I particular.

“I don’t see why not?” Kaz answered as he looked passed Soul to Negi, who was nodding in agreement.

As they started to pack their things, Negi started to speak. “I must say you guys surprised the heck out of me. Not only did you grasp all the concepts, ideas, and methods I threw at you. You managed to finish the training five days early.

“Well what where we going to do with the rest of the time?” Yoshio asked eagerly, somewhat hoping for some more training.

“That’s up to Kaz here,” Negi replied. “You guys can either stay here and train or leave early and continue on your mission.”

“As much as I would love to stay for the extra days of training, I think it is best if we move on with our mission,” Kaz answered. While he looked at the kas, he saw a disappointing look on their faces. He then looked at Soul and Negi for a moment who shrugged. “Unless,” the Genohuman started. “You guys want to use the last of our time here to build a second darkBlade or a liteBlade.” The three looked up with a smile on their faces. “I’ll take that as a yes.”

“It’s been a while since I’ve built a liteBlade,” Negi agreed excitedly. “If you’ll all follow me, we’ll get the material we need.”

For the next fifty-nine days, Yoshio, Sunchina, and Kurara took the darkBlades they built earlier and used them as templates for their new liteBlades. Soul did the opposite. It was trial and error but eventually everyone one successfully created one what they set out to create. Satisfied with what they build was above standards, Kaz, Soul, and Negi agreed it was time to continue on the mission. After packing everything up, they went back up to store level then outside.

It was chilly and still a bit dark outside and after they retrieved their bikes, they made their way for the eastern gate. Once outside the gate, the group mounted their bikes after saying farewell to Negi.

“Thank you for all you’ve done Negi,” Kaz thanked.

After he finished wishing the group luck, he pulled a pouch and a digital from his right pocket and handed it to Kaz. Opening the pouch, Kaz found seven crystals. “Give them to the kids when they’re ready.”

“Sure. What type are they?” Kaz asked as he looked at a then blue one.

“Various types of phase, strength, and power of course,” the Genohuman answered with smirk.

“What’s on the pad?” Kaz asked with a nod.

“I got in touch with Eagle while you guys were training,” Negi started to explain as he looked at the kas. “It has intel and instructions.”

“Thanks again my friend,” Kaz said as he shook Negi’s hand after placing the items away.

“No problem,” Negi replied. With that, the group started riding northwest towards Toko River. While Negi watch them leave, he couldn’t help but feel that something back was coming. Brushing the feeling aside, he returned to his shop.


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