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

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Chapter 8

Sublocation – Apprentice Plain/Valkyrie Retribution Boarders

Innerlocation – Foothills

Camped on one of the many foothills near Valkyrie Retribution’s boarder were two full battalions from Fallen Wings’ army. Since Fallen Wings became a district of Divergence Wings, they were stripped of a legitimate army. As a result, the military power it did have was comprised of farmers, villagers, and whatever citizen had any military experience. Because of this, there were only a handful of actual military officers. The delkai of this force was in the operations tent with the governor of Fallen Wings.

“Thank you for the update Toati,” Governor Arjo said, turning his holo-communication unit and putting it back on his belt as turned to face the Delkai. Arjo was a middle aged Elvenkai with long grey hair and brown eyes. “Well Delkai, according to our informant in Diverray, the group from Divergence Wings is on their way here. He says they should be here within the day at the earliest.”

“Not if the leader of the group is who our informant says he is,” the three winged Archdelkei, an elder red Aeronok, responded, not convinced at the news.

“And who would that be?” Arjo asked, not sure what the Delkai was getting at.

“Have you ever heard of Eagle Rei of the Elite Order?” the Delkai probed, trying to see the knowledge base the Governor possessed.

“I know that he’s some kouchou of some random academy in Elemental Wings,” the Elvenkai answered, shaking his head. “Nothing more than that.”

The Delkai sighed, disappointed at the lack of knowledge the Elvenkai Governor displayed. “Vickei Eagle Rei is not just some kouchou at some old academy. He’s the kouchou of Elite Academy, the premier and toughest academy on the whole continent, if not all of Norok. That is not an easy position to get, much less in only a few days after his predecessor resigned.”

“Let me guess, it’s one of those positions where the candidate has to be groomed for?” the Elvenkai asked. The Aeronok confirmed with a nod. “How did he get the job so quickly?”

“I don’t know for sure but there are rumors that he’s some big shot in the Elite Order and good friends with King Ginta of Divergence Wings.”

Before Arjo could answer or the Delkai could continue his explanation, an officer came into the test. “Excuse me Sirs, the delegates have arrived.”

“Do they have what they were sent to get?” the Delkai demanded before the Governor Elvenkai could respond.

“They wouldn’t say,” the officer answered. “They showed up and requested to speak with the Governor here.”

“Bring them in,” Arjo said.

“Sir,” the officer replied, exiting the tent. A moment later he reentered with the delegates in tow. When the delegates were in, the officer bowed and exited.

“Evening Delk-” the senior delegate started.

The Aeronok Delkai interrupted him by raising his hand, “Do you have the item?”

“Yes Sir,” he answered as he reached into his pouch, pulling out the package he received from the Valkyrie Retribution representative. “Here you go,” the delegated said, handing the wrapped package to the Aeronok and stepping back.

The Delkai unwrapped the packaged, briefly looked at it, and smiled, “Excellent.” He handed the package to the Elvenkai. “Here you go.”

“Thank you,” Arjo replied, accepting the package. As he started to look at it, he dismissed the delegates with a wave of his hand. Out of the corner of his eye he saw the delegates bow and leave.

o0o

Just outside the Fallen Wings’ camp, Yoshio, Sunchina, Kurara, and Soul were trying to come up with a plan that would allow them to infiltrate the camp without being completely being overwhelmed and killed.

Kaz on the other hand was swearing under his breath as he looked the size of the camp. “What’s wrong Sensei?” Yoshio asked, noting the Genohuman was unsettled and irritated.

Kaz shook his head and did his best to contain his anger. “Our informant both lied and misinformed us!” he kept his voice down the best he could in more not to draw the attention of the security detail.

Soul looked at Kaz then back to the camp, “Do you have a plan?”

“There is only one thing we can do; diversion and recover.”

“And how are we going to do that?” Kurara asked, lost in the confusion.

o0o

Two of the lower enlisted soldiers started making their second lap around the outer perimeter of the camp when one of them looked over to his right and saw five unknown personnel. The guard on the left called for backup and a few minutes later, ten soldiers showed up. With everyone in position, the senior soldier gave the go ahead and the group jumped out of hiding and hit their given targets. As their spears hit their targets, the targets turned to smoke and disappeared. The soldiers looked at each other in confusion. Not sure what was going on, the senior soldier slowly approached the center of where the group was and found a log with a note on it. Picking the note off the log, he read it; Sorry. Realizing what he just did, he shouted, “TRAP!” Less than a second later, the log exploded, killing all twelve soldiers. A small column of smoke that was just big enough to be seen back from their camp was all that was left.

o0o

One hundred feet away, the group saw smoke signal and prepared to spilt into two teams; Yoshio, Sunchina, and Kurara in one group, Kaz and Soul in the other. “Nice job on the fireworks Kurara,” Kaz complimented, actually impressed.

“Why thank you,” Kurara said with a curtsy.

“You guys understand your part of the plan?” Soul said with a smile.

“Hai,” Yoshio said excitedly.

“Good,” Kaz said with a nod. “Let’s get going then,” he said, patting the Aeronok on the back. Quite suddenly and unexpectedly, Kaz and Soul became invisible and made their way to the camp.

“Are the two of you ready to have fun?” Yoshio asked, growing an over the top grin.

“So all we have to do is stay alive until Kaz and Soul complete their objective?” Kurara asked, glancing at Yoshio.

“Pretty much,” Sunchina answered for Yoshio.

“The sooner we start, the sooner it’s over,” Kurara said, as she summoned both of her darkBlades from the storage jewels on the back of her shirt.

“Remember,” Sunchina started as she summoned her darkBlade from her BracerTech storage jewel. “Don’t attack until they attack you.”

Agreeing with what the female Elvenkai with a nod, Yoshio proposed, “With that said and the fact that this is a kill or be killed situation, why don’t we make a competition out of this? Whoever kills or wounds the most soldiers, wins.”

“Bring it on,” Kurara said enthusiastically.

Sunchina shook her head and sighed, not sure what to make of this. There were so many things wrong with what Yoshio just suggested. As much as she wanted to argue how unethical Yoshio’s proposal was, he was right about it being a kill or be killed situation. More than that, if the enemy used their new weapon, war would break out and billions of people would die.

With one last nod, the three rushed off to the enemy camp. By the time they got there, the soldiers, such as they were, were already going crazy trying to figure out where the explosion came from and what to do.

As the three kas stood there, in shock at the chaos of the scene, both of Kurara’s hilts fell to the ground. “Well, you don’t see that every day,” Yoshio observed, feeling somewhat sorry for them. “One would think an army would have more discipline than this.”

Just as the male Elvenkai finished his thought, one of the soldiers closest to them stopped and looked their way. “Well look at that,” Kurara started. “They can see and hear us.”

Without warning, the same soldier threw a military grade dagger at Yoshio. Seeing the dagger heading his way, he got ready to catch it. Catching the dagger by the hilt, the male Elvenkai turned to the female Elvenkai. “So, does that count as them-” Before he could finish his question, the soldier rushed him with a sword. After a few seconds of ducking and dodging, Yoshio kicked him in the chest, sending the soldier flat on his back nearly seven meters back. “As I was saying, does that count as them attacking first?”

“Yes Yoshio. That counts as them striking first,” Sunchina confirmed as she shook her head.

“And a second, if I’m not mistaken,” Kurara added cheerfully.

Smiling, Yoshio flipped the dagger so the blade was in his hand. After taking a breath, he threw it at the soldier who was getting up from the ground. “When you here the soldier hit the ground, the fun begins.”

Seconds later, the Fallen Wings’ soldier hit the ground with a thud, causing the soldiers nearby to stop and look at their fallen comrade, then the three intruders who killed him. Connecting the dots, the soldiers pulled out their swords and charged the three strangers.

At the same time, Yoshio lowered his stance, placed his left hand next to the storage jewel on his belt, summoning his double edged sevka. As it finished materializing, he placed his right hand on the top of the hilt, grasping the sheath with his left.

Shaking her head, Sunchina backed off, signaling her best friend to do the same.

Yoshio waited until the soldiers were within ten feet before he made his move. Drawing his blade as fast as he could, he cut all of the charging soldier in half. His blade never touched a single soldier however, instead, he had drawn his swords so fast, that the air itself acted as a razor sharp blade, cutting the soldiers. Satisfied, Yoshio sheathed his sevka, stored it back in the storage jewel, then summoned the darkBlade he had built at Negi’s, from his BracerTech storage jewel, and activated it by channeling both rune and arcana through it. “That’s fifteen for me girls!” Yoshio shouted as he ran into the crowd of panicking soldiers.

The two girls looked at the male Elvenkai in awe then at each other. “Time to play catch up,” Sunchina stated, activating her darkBlade. Kurara nodded as she did the same. With one final nod to each other, they rushed into the battle field to join their friend.

MEANWHILE…

At the Delkai’s tent, the Aeronok had ordered his top officers to protect his tent at any and all costs. Inside the tent, the Delkai and the Governor were attempting to come up with a plan to get themselves out of this situation alive. In the middle of their brainstorm, one of the Archkei outside of the tent shouted, “Sir, we have a problem!”

“Could you be more specific Archkei Locat?!” the Aeronok Delkai demanded in annoyance.

“Intruders,” the Archkei answered. “Stay back! I’m warni- Aaaaaaaaa-”

Pulling out his bigger than average curved sword, the Delkai instructed, “Get behind be Arjo. And whatever happens, keep that package safe!” A few seconds later it was dead silent. “What small mice do I have to crush this time?! The Delkai asked aloud, not sure who he was addressing.

OUTSIDE OF THE DELKAI TENT…

“That was a tad bit too easy,” the blue Aeronok observed, puzzled by how they took down the soldiers with no effort. “Not that I’m complaining.”

“Keep in mind that this “army” is mostly composed of farmers and untrained citizens. But you do have a point, even the actual soldiers were sloppy,” the Genohuman agreed as he looked at the chaos around them.

“What small mice do I have to crush this time,” a loud voice from the tent next to them questioned.

Kaz and Soul looked at each other with a weird, confused look. “Think he’s referring to us?” Soul asked, making a move for the tent.

“Only one way to find out,” Kaz answered, gesturing the Aeronok to enter the tent.

Entering the tent, Soul was disappointed, but not completely surprised to find only two people in the tent; one of whom looked very familiar. “Well, well, well. If it isn’t the wannabe Archdelkei, Sorvi Zavek,” Soul taunted as he stopped in front of the Delkai.

“I won’t be talked down to by some lowly Archkei,” Zavek responded, offended by what the blue Aeronok said.

“Glad to see you still remember my rank. Although I’m an Archkei Talkei now,” Soul said with a smile. “What’s it been, five, maybe six years since we last battled?”

“More like eight you ungrateful-”

“Guys! Can we finish the stupid and pointless conversation later?!” Kaz asked, not in the mood for a reunion. “I’m only going to ask this one Delkai, where are the package you received from Valkyrie Retribution? And don’t bother fraking denying it. We already know you have it.”

Soul nodded in confirmation. “I would answer the man’s question Zavek, he has a mean temper when he’s stress out and doesn’t get his way.”

The Delkai looked from the Archkei to the Genohuman who was making demands and scoffed. “Now why in the hell would I tell you that? What the hell could a mere sensei at some academy do?”

“Fine. if that’s how you want to play, that’s how we’ll play,” Kaz responded and he tightened the grip on his liteBlade. Using the power of rune, he slowly lifted the book from the table next to the Delkai and when it reached the Aeronok’s head, Kaz moved his finger to the left, send the bound stack of papers with a hard cover into the side of the Delkai’s head. The Delkai grunted but didn’t fall; Kaz was using rune to keep him from falling. With his other hand, Kaz sent the Delkai’s sword to fly across the tent and into one of the chairs with rune. “I’ll ask you one last time Delkai before you become that chair. Where is the package?!”

As he quickly went through his options, Zavek looked at the Governor.

Noticing what the Delkai was looking at, Kaz saw a male elvenkai cowering in the back. “Soul, go check that guy out,” Kaz said, still holding the Delkai in the air. “And while you’re at it, relieve this baka of his remaining weapons.”

“Will do,” Soul answered, making his way to the Elvenkai. As he reached the Delkai, he took the knives from the Delkai’s boot and belt. Knowing Zavek concealed more weapons then the average soldiers, Soul asked, “Anything else on ya?”

Zavek silently shook his head in response.

Not satisfied, Soul patted the Aeronok down, finding nothing. “Had to check for old time sake,” Soul said with a smile as he tossed the knives towards the Aeronok’s sword. Moving past his old acquaintance to the person Kaz mentioned. “Well, who do we have here?” he asked, towering over the governor.

Looking up, he knew instantly he was no match for the Aeronok in front of him. Arjo stood up and answered the Archkei, “I am Governor Arjo.”

“Let me guess, of Fallen Wings?” Soul asked already knowing the answer. He had been present when the Elvenkai got the position. The Elvenkai nodded and Soul asked, “Do you have what we’re looking for?”

For a moment, nothing happened. Then slowly, Arjo extended his arm out and handed the Aeronok an object wrapped in a cloth. “Right here.”

Soul took the object and unwrapped it. With a mere glance, Soul noticed something immediately wrong and wanted to laugh but ended up frowning. “Kaz, we have a problem. Kinda a plus and minus thing.”

“What is it?” Kaz asked, now even more irritated.

“It’s better if you look at this yourself,” Soul said, holding up the object, revealing what it was.

Right away, Kaz saw what Soul was talking about. Closing his eyes, Kaz took the object from his companion and held it up to the Delkai’s face. “One small question Delkai,” Kaz asked, releasing the Delkai from his rune grip. The Delkai hit the floor, gulping for air. “Where is the real Titan’s Wings?”

“What the hell are you talking about Genohuman?” Zavek asked, not comprehending what was happening.

“Oh, you didn’t know?” Kaz asked with a laugh.

“Know what?”

“This necklace,” started to answered as he waved the wings, a near perfect replica, in front of the Delkai by the it’s chain. “Is a fake.”

Zavek still didn’t understand what the Genohuman was talking about.

“He still doesn’t get it Kaz” Soul commented.

“I can see that. Here, I’ll explain it nice and slow for you,” Kaz said as he turned the wings so the back was facing the Delkai. “This version is missing the two sevkas on the back. You see, it is fairly common knowledge that after every aceon, a sevka blade appears behind on of the wings. Since it has been two aceons since this appeared on Norok, there should be two blades, one behind each wing. This one has none. Hence, a fake.

Zavek turned to the Elvenkai Governor, “Did you know about this?”

“Not really,” Arjo answered honestly. “I thought something was off but I couldn’t pin point it.”

“Does that thing even have powers?” Zavek demanded, looking back at the Genohuman.

“Yes and no,” Kaz answered, not wanting to get into it. “It’s too complicated to even begin to explain to someone like you. So, I won’t.”

Enraged that all the effort he put into this operation was for nothing, the Delkai reached under the table, revealing a second sword, and rushed Kaz.

Shaking his head, Kaz thought to himself, Fools never learn. As the Aeronok drew closer, Kaz simply stood there. It wasn’t until the Delkai leaped into the air that Kaz did something. Without thought or hesitation, Kaz used rune and pushed the Aeronok in the bookshelf behind him. Knowing the type of person Delkai was, Kaz expected him to get up and charge again but to his surprise, he didn’t. Kaz went over and saw the reason why, the Delkai’s blade was sticking out through his chest.

“So what are we going to do with the Governor here?” Soul asked curiously.

Carefully putting the fake wings away, Kaz turned to Soul, “Leave him here.”

o0o

In the northern part of the camp, the three kas had worked together as if they planned the whole thing out. They tried to stay ahead of each other in count. As a result, things got creative but never at the expense of each other. Almost five minutes later, they reached the mid-rim of the camp and stopped. Together, the three had managed to either severely wound or kill every soldier in the camp, minus what their experienced leaders took care of, with ease. “I have to admit. This was entirely too easy,” Kurara commented, “Even for farmers.”

“Just a bit,” Sunchina agreed. “I mean for full two battalions, I was expecting more experienced people and a challenge. On a different topic, did we ever locate the main tent?”

“Yeah. I think we passed it a while back. It was the big tent near the center of camp,” Yoshio answered, looking around for it. “So, what was your final counts?”

“I think I got five hundred and seventy-six,” Kurara said first as she but her darkBlades back in the storage jewels.

“I got six hundred and eighty-five,” Sunchina said next. “Let me guess Yosh, you got eight hundred?”

“Seven hundred and forty-one actually,” Yoshio corrected while sounding a little disappointed at the same time. As they made their way to the main tent, the two Elvenkai put their darkBlades in their BracerTech storage jewels. Nearing the main tent, they saw Soul and Kaz exit the main tent.

o0o

Exiting the tent, Kaz and Soul looked around and were shocked by the carnage. “Wasn’t the camp cleaner than this when we first got here?” Soul asked with a bit of sarcasm.

Kaz ignored the Aeronok and looked to the right and saw his three kas. “You can blame those three for the mess.”

Soul laughed as they went over to them.

“Did you guys find the package?” Yoshio asked with a grin on his face. “What was it?”

Kaz waited until there were in front of each other to answer the Elvenkai's question. “First of all, did you three kill off the whole camp?”

“No,” Yoshio answered. “Just about thirty-five percent.”

“Right,” Kaz said, not really believing him. “Did you guys know that just about every soldier here was either farmers or townsmen?”

“No…but that would explain a few things,” Yoshio answered sarcastically. “So did you get it or not?”

“Yes and no,” Kaz admitted. “We got the package and while it turned out to be Titan’s Wings, it wasn’t the real one.” He reached into one of his pouches and pulled out what they recovered.

As Sunchina looked at them, she immediately noticed the difference. “So do we know where the real ones are?”

“Not even a hint,” Kaz answered. “We looked through the tent for clues and questioned the Governor but, nothing.”

“So, what is the plan?” Kurara asked, still fixated on the fake wings.

“At this point, go back to the hotel, check in with Eagle, and go from there,” Kaz replied as he carefully put medallion back into this pouch. After Kaz mumbled a few words, the group was swallowed by sand and disappeared.

At the same time in the air above, a black bird watched in silence. As the group disappeared, the bird flew to the foothills of the nearby mountains where its master was. Getting closer, it spotted three shadowy figures and flew towards them.

The three figures stood in silence as they waited for the approaching bird. When it came within five feet, the middle figure stretched out her arm, allowing the bird to land on it. When the bird landed, she placed her left and on its head and a moment later, images started to flood her mind. Seconds later, she released it.

As the bird flew to freedom, the figure to the leader’s right asked, “What did you see Master?”

“Exactly what our Master said would happen,” the leader answered. Smiling, the three vanished.

Sublocation – Diverray, Apprentice Plain

Innerlocation – Toroc’s NX Hotel

Just outside the hotel, a giant ball of sand appeared and just as suddenly, it was gone, revealing five figures. Kaz was the first one to move towards the hotel. Entering, he made his way across the lobby to the elevators. Nearing the elevators, the receptionist that had checked them in, stopped him, “Excuse me Sir, we have package for you.”

Kaz and Soul looked at each other in confusion as the Genohuman came around the counter and handed Kaz the package. “Thank you Miss,” Kaz replied bowing, not sure what was in it or how anyone knew they were here.

“What do you think it is?” Soul asked curiously.

“Not sure,” Kaz replied, staring at the package as if he had x-ray vision.

“Hmmmmm,” Soul mused. “Well, you guys go ahead to the room and check it out. I want to look into something.”

Kaz looked at him for a minute. “Ok.”

The Genohuman made her way back to her seat behind the counter. Seeing a shadow, she looked up and saw the Aeronok leaning against the counter. “How can I help you Mr. Weston?”

“Actually,” Soul said with a smile, leaning closer. “I was wondering if you could help me.”

“Depends,” the Genohuman said teasingly.

“Would you be able to tell me who dropped off the package?”

“I could,” the receptionist replied. Not what I was expecting, she thought to herself. “Is there some particular reason you need to know?”

“Curiosity mostly,” Soul answered. “I didn’t see a return address and wanted to thank the sender.” The Genohuman snickered unconvinced and Soul continued, “Here’s the thing sweetheart. We never told anyone we were going to be here.” Soul paused to collect his thoughts and noticed the Genohuman’s name tag. “Cassia, it would be very helpful to me and my colleagues if we knew who sent the package.”

“Well, in that case,” Cassia said with a smile, placing her chin on her hands. “The guy who dropped off the package didn’t leave his name and I couldn’t exactly see his face because of the hood her wore. Who wears a hood inside anyways? I wouldn’t tell you what he wore because he was wearing a jet black robe. Oh wait,” she said as she turned her head to the side to think. “He did have a staff with a single white wing near the top.”

At the mention of the staff, Soul got a good idea who she was talking about. “Thank you very much Cassia, that was very helpful,” Soul said with a smile. Reaching into one of his pouches, he pulled out a one hundred cristo on the counter.

As he bowed, Cassia couldn’t help but smile at the cristo and replied, “Glad to be of service. If there is anything else you need, and I mean anything, please don’t hesitate to call me.”

Soul nodded with a smile and headed for the elevator. We’re in trouble, he thought to himself as he entered the elevator.

o0o

In Room 303, Kaz was sitting in one of the weirdest chairs he had ever seen, staring at the package on the table in from of him. The kas on the other hand were on the floor playing Seikai Shi. Well into their first game, the room door opened and Soul walk through and closed the door behind him. “I see you haven’t opened the gift yet,” Soul observed, sitting down in the chair next to the Genohuman sensei.

“We were waiting for you,” Kaz replied, sitting up. “What took you so long?” Soul was about to answer when Kaz continued, “Wait. Don’t tell me. You were chatting up the pretty receptionist? I take it from the grin on your face that you made some headway.”

“I’ll have you know Kaz, that I was in fact digging up info on the sender of this package, not flirting,” Soul protested.

“Oh really?” Kaz asked unconvinced. “Then who was it?”

“All I got was a description-”

“That’s it?” Kaz interrupted, laughing. “Yoshio here could have gotten more information. Hell, Kurara could have gotten more info.”

“Hey, I got the info we needed,” Soul said in disbelief. “A figure with a jet black robe with its hood up with a staff with a single white wing near the top. Now I don’t know about you, but I only know one person who dresses like that. Or more accurately, who make his subordinates wear something like that.”

“I stand corrected Soul,” Kaz admitted. “You did get just enough.”

“Hey,” Soul objected. “Can we open the package now?”

Kaz didn’t bother to answer as he leaned forward and opened the package. Looking inside, he found a worn out, rolled up piece of paper and what looked like five passes. Grabbing the paper, he unrolled it. The first thing he saw was the “C” engulfed in flames in the upper right corner. Shaking his head, he read the letter aloud. “Congratulation on recovering the fake Titan’s Wings. Let’s be honest though, that was child’s play. Don’t bother trying to figure out how I know where you were. I have people everywhere. If you want to recover the real Titan’s Wings, you’re going to have to a lot better than you did at the encampment. I mean really, novice assassins could have done a better job,” Kaz paused and shook his head, trying not the let the anger inside him overtake his discipline. “There are five passes to Battle Plateau; three are for participants and two are for the seats. After all, our battles are fought by our apprentices, not us. Let me warn you, if you can’t manage to dominate a rather simple tournament, you’ll never get the real wings back. The tournament is in three months. That gives you plenty of time to train. Please try to present a challenge,” as he finished reading the note, he placed it on the table next to the package and pulled out the passes.

“I take it we have a competition to get ready for?” Yoshio asked, still sitting on the floor.

Before he answered, Kaz got up, made his way to the mini fridge, opened it, and pulled out a carton of grape juice. After pouring himself a glass and taking a sip, he answered, “Yes we do. We’re going to train you harder than at the academy.” That was saying something because the training at Elite Academy was one of the toughest around and made the hardest military training look like a relaxing holiday.

“Where are we going to be training?” Kurara asked, not sure whether to be excited or scared.

“Battle Island.”

“What’s that?” the hime Genohuman asked, having never heard of the place.

“How do you know not what Battle Island is?” Sunchina asked, shocked by the lack of her best friend’s knowledge once again.

“Easy. I don’t study,” Kurara answered sarcastically.

“It’s ok Kurara,” Kaz said before the female elvenkai could say anything else to make her friend feel bad. “Battle Island is an actual island where warriors from all over Norok come to do some heavy duty training. And on the plus side, Battle Island has the ability to train anyone. A lot of training places now a days have entrance limits.”

“That’s nice to hear,” Kurara said, looking at Sunchina.

“Is it true that the center of the island is exclusively for the Chi’kai of the Elite Order?” Yoshio asked, barely able contain his excitement.

“Yep,” Kaz confirmed. “In fact, there are numerous underground levels that the Order uses as well.”

“Awesome.”

“When do we leave?” Sunchina asked.

“First thing in the morning,” Kaz answered.

“Always the morning traveling with you Sensei,” Sunchina commented, causing the Genohuman to smile and Soul to laugh. “What now?”

“Now we report to Eagle our status,” Kaz said, pulling out a holo-communication unit and placing it on the table. After entering a few commands, a hologram of Eagle appeared.

“Evening everyone,” the Human greeted. “Well that’s a good sign, all of you are present.”

“It’s actually closer to morning over here Eagle,” Yoshio corrected.

Eagle smiled at Yoshio’s comment. “Be that as it many, I am glad you all survived your first level two assault and recovery. What do you have to report Kaz?”

“We recovered the package from the Fallen Wings encampment. It turned out to be a near perfect replica of Titan’s Wings but still fake none the less.”

“Was it the display version?” the Human asked with hope.

“No,” Kaz answered, now holding up the wings. “As you can see, it’s missing the sevka blades being the wings. We learned from Governor Arjo that he traded information about Divergence Wings for the wings. Apparently they were hoping to use it to over throw the current government.”

“When can we expect you to send us what you found?”

“Right now,” Kaz said as he summoned a portable site to site transporter from the back of his belt’s storage jewel. Placing the wrapped wings and the letter from they just got, he entered the destination and sent it. “With it, I gave you the letter we just got from our suspect.”

“Got it,” the Human said as he looked at the wings. “You were right about it being a near perfect replica. What did the note say?”

“Basically I have the real wings and we’re watching,” the Genohuman answered.

“Even though this isn’t the display version, it is still evidence. Good job you guys,” Eagle thanked as he turned to the kas. “And you three congratulations again. With the way everything is stacking up, this mission is only getting harder from here. Keep up the good work you three. We have a plan in place and thanks to what you’ve sent me, we can now proceed,” Eagle said, addressing everyone. “Anything else?”

“In response to the challenge on the paper, I’m taking the kas to Battle Island for the next three months for some hard core training,” Kaz replied.

“Three months huh,” Eagle said amused. “That’s just in time for the tournament of tournaments, the Skye Tournament. That sounds like him alright.”

“Glad we’re on the same page,” Kaz agreed. “That’s all we have to report at this time.”

“Sounds good Kaz,” Eagle acknowledged. “You guys are making good progress. Keep up the pace. I’ll try to visit and keep you informed when I can. Good luck gang,” with that the hologram of the Human dissipated.

“What now?” Yoshio asked, half expecting a brief about goals for tomorrow.

“Now we-” Kaz started.

“Now we play Shi!” Kurara interrupted cheerfully, making everyone laugh.

With a nod, everyone grabbed chairs and sat around the table Kaz and Soul were sitting at. As Yoshio sat down, he started to shuffle the deck and when everyone was ready, he started to pass out the cards.

“Pick a number between five and ten Kurara,” Yoshio said, passing out the minimum number of cards until the hime Genohuman picked a number.

“Five,” Kurara finally said

Smiling, Yoshio placed the deck in the middle of the table and got his cards ready. “As usual, the first one to match the card then go right,” Yoshio reminded. To the Elvenkai's left sat Kaz. Across from his sat Sunchina, to his left was Soul, and to Soul’s left was the hime. With everyone ready, Yoshio flipped the top card of the deck. As the card landed on the table, it revealed a red six. Even though the person who flipped the card was typically the slowest to react, Yoshio was one of those people who was just fast with cards period. Placing down a wild card before anyone else could place their cards. To no surprise to Yoshio and his pleasure, everyone started to complain.

“Not again!” Sunchina shouted. “I call foul!”

“Give the rest of us a chance for once!” Kurara said frustrated “That is the last time you deal.”

Yoshio continued to laugh at his friends’ misery as he placed down two blue twos. “And that my friends, is ends o game one.”

Everyone but Kaz groaned in Yoshio’s laughter, who couldn’t help but smile at the scene.


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