We Meet the Demon
“The monster is big!”
It certainly didn’t impress Master Zai the vast vocabulary any of these kids would have, but big was certainly not the answer.
“Big is not what I am looking for, Mister Park,” he said, rolling his eyes at the view he was obliged to look at.
Three kids he had trained for a lifetime. Three kids he had to take care of. Three kids he had taught, and yet they learned nothing. Three kids that somehow made Master Zai’s gloomy life a little lighter, if just a bit. Three kids that were incredible and had an amazing potential; nevertheless, they didn’t know how to use it and/or control it. Three extraordinary kids that were his nightmare. A band of misfits that were expelled from regular classes at the Demonic Institute and were ‘special’. Special his butt, Master Zai knew that these kids were just lazy asses that were too dumb to understand a bigger world than theirs.
“I believe you can find a better way to describe it,” he said, crossing his arms above his chest and sighing.
“Monstrous?” said Jenna as she dodged a tree-like arm.
Master Zai had the urge to face palm himself.
“You guys can do better.”
“Slow!” Ian screamed, hitting the monster from behind with a long stick.
“I will take that into account.”
However, Master Zai smiled.
After Ian had hit it with the stick, it had turned around and glared at him, bellowing furiously. Ian bravely took another hit, but immediately fell to the ground, for the table he had been standing in had broken. The monster was at his feet now.
“Guys, a little help please?” He asked, more like a demand.
“Park, stop his fist, I will take Ian out of this,” Jenna said, running to where Ian was.
“Got it,” Park said, pointing at the monster’s arm with his hand like gun. He smiled viciously. “Bam,” he whispered, shooting and covering the arm with ice.
Meanwhile, Jenna had taken Ian out of the monster’s direction. They both took sticks from the broken table, attacking the monster, which had opened its mouth extensively, and Jenna was in the direction of the attack. Her eyes widened in terror as she felt Ian take her hand and pull her to the other side. The creature spewed fire to its arm, dissolving the ice that contained him. Park looked at it, dumbfounded.
“It can spit fire?!” He cried.
Ian screamed to get the monster’s attention, attacking it with the stick he had in his hand. However, before he could even reach it, he slipped in front of it. The water that the creature had dissolved from the ice was now throwing him, against a wall. Thankfully, Jenna and Park were in his direction. Jenna tried to stop him by grabbing his hand, although the momentum brought her with him. Park, sadly, was in the middle of it all, bringing him along with them and the three of them crashing against the wall.
“Man! I think my nose is broken! This is not cool!” Park yelled, bringing his hands to his nose, which was bleeding. Jenna got up quickly, her face flaring red.
“Idiots! We had him!” She screamed, flailing her hands in the air.
“We could have if you had helped a little bit!” Ian spat, glaring at her while he got up.
“Ehm… Guys?” Park mumbled.
“You more than anyone know that I can use my powers for stupid things like this!” she refuted.
“Stupid things? This is training! This is the moment you need to use them!” he counterattacked.
“Guys!” Park yelled, running behind them.
The monster was practically on them, roaring and about to spit fire on them. Jenna screamed too, moving to Ian’s back while Park hugged her. Ian’s eyes widened as he pulled both of his hands in front of him. Light blue barriers appeared in front of them, protecting them from the fire of the creature, yet thin enough to wear off along with it.
They all closed their eyes and yelled as the barriers wore out, expecting flames to engulf them. However, their screams were immediately stopped by the fact that there was no fire, no heat to destroy them or turned them into ashes.
“Well, I don’t really know what I expected from this. You guys looked ridiculous,” Master Zai said looking at them with disappointment. Park was hugging Jenna from behind, burying his face in her back while she clutched Ian’s white shirt as hard as she could; Ian had his arms in front of him, protecting his face. Master Zai cleared his throat and Jenna took her hands off Ian, making a disgusted face to hide her embarrassment. She kicked Park in the knees so he could let go. Park coughed and let go of her, getting up quickly and looking at another direction, mumbling things like ‘I had never seen that desk before’ or ‘such a mess’.
“As always, you need to work on your teamwork, you are doing awful,” Master Zai said. “Ian was the only one to see a weakness instead of how big or monstrous the creature was,” he pointed out. “However, none of you used it as an advantage and ended up like a sandwich in that wall,” he pointed at their back. “Go and rest, meditate, train, or do nothing, but tomorrow the director is coming to see ‘improvements’,” he looked at them directly in the eyes. “If you guys don’t pass this, I was commanded to expel you from this team as well.”
That was a surprise. They all looked at their master, bewildered.
“Expelled? We can’t be expelled!” Park cried, hyperventilating.
“Where are we going to go?” Jenna asked, frowning with shocked eyes.
“Guys, calm down, I think Master is saying it so we can do our best, isn’t he?” Ian said, looking at his master with a no so gook looking smile.
“I am sorry Ian, but this are the measures the institute is taking. They don’t need outcasts that can’t go on missions,” he said coldly, yet Ian could see in his eyes that it hurt him, just a little, to tell them this.
“You are dismissed.”
“Man, this sucks,” Park said, throwing an anti-stress ball to the air, as he was lying in the floor completely.
“There is nothing we can do,” Ian said, sitting on a push-seat. He had a medallion in his hand, turning it in his hands from side to side, absently.
“Well, what did you expect?” Jenna asked, looking at them over the glasses she only used when she wasn’t training. “We are good for nothings, that’s why we ended here in the first place. You don’t see other teams going around and screwing up like we do,” she said, her gaze returning to the book she was reading.
“We are not good for nothings. I am sure of that, we are just… special,” Ian said, glaring.
“Yeah, that’s what they have been telling us since we entered the Institute. Ten years of the same blabber. I am tired of this,” Park said, shooting ice to the ball, freezing it mid-air.
“They seemed tired of us too,” Jenna said, like if it was the most natural thing in the world.
“Guys, come on. We are being pessimists. You are talking like if we already failed tomorrow’s test. We just need to do our best,” Ian said, shrugging the matter aside.
“Yeah, because our teamwork is perfect and we can synchronize amazingly,” Jenna snorted.
A loud gasp made Ian and Jenna look at Park’s direction, as the frozen, heavy ball had landed in his stomach, making the air leave his lungs. Jenna looked at Ian with raised eyebrows, not amused at all. Ian sighed.
“We just need to double our efforts. That’s it,” he said, rather exhausted.
Ian had met Park when they were seven years old. At that time, Park didn’t know how to speak English, or to Ian’s thoughts, at all. He was the most silent person he had ever met, which spiked curiosity toward him. The only thing he knew about Park was that his family had moved from South Korea to the island, in a pursuit of a happier life to their abnormal children. However, they were all annihilated except for Park Seo Jin. To Ian’s thoughts, that was the reason why Park didn’t speak much and didn’t like people. The first time they were introduced, Ian swore that he would die with the glares Park casted him. It was clear he didn’t like Ian. It took a while for Park to finally understand and use the language, helped by intense tutorials and classes that left him only two hours of rest. During those two hours, Ian would talk about everything he did while Park was learning. It didn’t bother him the fact that Park didn’t understand him, or didn’t care. Ian didn’t have friends to talk to, which made him certainly special. After two years, Park started to open up to him, at first slowly and stuttering, for his learning as still immature. Yet he tried to compensate for the times that Ian would talk to him. They became really close friends during the years because they spent their time together, training together in the Institute and such. Park revealed that he felt a great burden now that he couldn’t save his big sister, Rin, and that he would work hard along with Ian to be recognized as the best team of the entire Institute. It seemed o Ian that after what happened to him, it was a blessing that Park had an amazing easy-going character, although they would usually get in trouble because of him.
It was a different story with Jenna. A year after the arrival of Park, while Ian was meddling in the laboratories under the Institute, he met her, a girl just a year younger than Park and him. If he had thought that Park’s glares were lethal, then her glares would practically mortal. She didn’t talk, but not because she didn’t know English, but because she hated everything around her. At that time, Ian didn’t know why she was in the laboratories and why she couldn’t leave them, but that wasn’t important at that time. What amazed him was how she hated him. For such a young boy, to be hated like if he was the worst in the world, it amused him, so he would pass by every day to talk to her while Park was in his daily classes. She didn’t look at him or paid him attention, but he would talk and talk and talk until his throat hurt. The scientists around would warn Ian about how dangerous she was. ‘She can manipulate you if you look into her eyes’, ‘you will be driven mad if you spend that much time around her’, and ‘she can kill you with just one look’ were what they would say. Nevertheless, Ian would be granted access to spend the morning and early evening with her. He didn’t understand why the scientists would warn him about her eyes if they were so beautiful; purple irises with a bluish ring surrounding the pupil. Such a gorgeous sight. Although, when he told her this, she smacked him in the face with a clenched fist. It took longer for her to open to him and Park while they spent their time training in the Institute. Four years later, they were expelled and grouped as Team Zero, a group of misfits, outcasts that weren’t able to work as a team and control their own powers. They were put under the care of Master Zai, who seemed to be unpleased with the news. Jenna had always been a challenge, but they all managed to work well, somehow, in the end.
Now, after ten years of friendship and disappointment and what you could call affection, they were inseparable. Or something like that.
“Ian?” Park asked from his bed, looking at Ian’s direction.
“Yeah?” He asked with a yawn. It was late in the night and they were lying in their beds in the small room they shared. Ian had a bed for himself (which they took turns to use) and Park was in the lower bed of a bunk bed he shared with Jenna.
“What do you really think will happen if we fail tomorrow?” Park asked in a silent voice. “You have no problem because you can still go back home,” he said with a sigh, “but we are in a different situation.”
“We don’t have a home to go back to,” Jenna whispered from the upper bed, lying in her side to look at Ian’s bed, below the window.
“Don’t think about it. Even if we fail, we stay together,” he answered, his eyes closed.
Park sighed, relieved and closed his eyes too.
“Let’s give it our best tomorrow, all right? I don’t want to look at four eyes every morning,” he said, grimacing.
“You have it better than me,” Jenna snorted. “At least they haven’t declared war to you.”
“That would be a funny scene,” Ian chuckled.
“Don’t you dare,” she said with a smile, closing her eyes as well.
“After all, we are not that bad, are we?” Ian asked.
“Don’t push your luck,” she said.
“Ian! Park!” Jenna screamed form the front door, looking at the beautiful scene she had in front of her. The perk of living in this hill was the sight it had, directly to the Institute and the lake beside it. In the distance, the borderline of the earth converging with the sea could be seen in the morning light. The forest below the hills was also incredible in the morning dew and the golden light that seeped through the trees. However, she wasn’t interested in any of this. “Guys, get up! There is a disturbance in the atmosphere!” She screamed again. Footsteps were heard from the inside of the house they lived in. A sleepy Ian and an attentive Park came through the door, Ian yawning and Park rushing to her.
“Is there a disturbance in the Force?” He asked, anxious.
“No, my young padawan, for Jedi Master Skywalker has gotten rid of all the Siths in our galaxy,” she said with a plain face. “This is something else, a demonic aura, tall as a building, and strong. It is getting closer to the Institute,” she said, crossing her arms above her chest.
“I see nothing from here,” Ian said, forcing his eyes to look at the entrance of the Institute.
“Still,” she said, frowning. “There is also this aura that feels familiar…” she muttered.
“All right guys!” Park exclaimed. “I’m all fired up, let’s go and kill this monster.”
“Wait,” Jenna said, “we don’t need to go, and surely the guards will take care of this.”
“But what happens if this monster is too big for them? They might need a little help, wouldn’t they?” Ian said with a grin.
“Yeah! And we can be the heroes this time!” Park said, enthusiastic.
“Fine, we will go,” she said and at the brightened eyes she lifted a finger, “but just as backup. Understood?”
Both of them nodded exhilarated.
It didn’t take long for them to be ready, and in a blink of an eye, they had run down the hill and gotten to the Institute’s wide doors. These doors were made of bronze and had symbols of ancient creatures. In the middle, it had embedded the phrase ‘the world we protect, with our powers we may’ in a dead language. However, the doors were open; a team of two boys and a girl the same age as Jenna, Ian and Park were battling against a gigantic creature; a green, one-eyed, thick creature that roared and flailed its arms to hit the team.
“An ogre?” Park’s motivation had suddenly left him as the creature pushed the two boys, leaving a scared girl in its path.
“Backup?” Ian asked, looking at Jenna. She nodded her eyes wide.
“This time we do it right,” she muttered.
The three of them run to separate places, facing the ogre. It had already sent the girl flying, and one of the boys was helping the other to get up. Ian calculated all the strategies he could as Park screamed stupidities at the creature to keep his attention. He had to develop a plan fast, or soon they would be sent flying just like the girl.
“J, I need your help this time,” he said, plead in his voice. She looked at him and she took a sharp breath. She ran to position herself in front of the ogre.
“Park, when she stops its movements, I need you to freeze it completely.”
“Yes boss!” He exclaimed, closing his eyes and concentrating.
“I’m ready!” Jenna said.
In that same instant, Jenna took off her glasses and took a deep breath. She looked at the ogre directly in the eye and focused. Her eyes hurt, but it was just for a few more seconds. Suddenly, the creature stopped moving, roaring louder this time. All her body trembled, and threatened to loose balance, but she couldn’t allow that. For a moment, she lost sight and everything turned dark.
“Not now,” she muttered under her breath and her sight came back, blurry and with red spots.
“Park, now!” She heard Ian scream.
“Bam!” Park whispered, pointing his hand like a gun to the ogre and freezing it from head to toes. It felt like a wave that started from his feet and ran all the way up to his finger, and the target would turn into ice. After the shot, he blew his finger like a smoking gun, proud of his work.
Meanwhile, after the creature froze, Ian pointed both palm toward it and closed his eyes. Four columns the size of the ogre erected from the ground in a light, bluish haze, incarcerating the creature. Ian exhaled slowly and clenched his fists, making the columns blast against each other, turning the ogre into a pile of broken ice. He opened his eyes and smiled. They had done it. And it hadn’t been that difficult.
“Ian,” Park screamed from the other side. He ran to find him holding Jenna in his arms, as she was kneeling on the floor, rubbing her eyes.
“I. Am. Fine. Do I need to repeat it for you, Park? Or do you want me to say it in Korean?” She said anger in her voice. Park placed his arms protectively around her.
“Don’t suffer no more my princess, I will protect you,” he said humbly. She hit him in the stomach and got up, stumbling. Ian took her by the hand before she fell again to the floor.
“Are you okay?” he asked, concerned that she would see black.
“I still can see you guys; don’t need to worry about it.”
When she opened her eyes, Ian could see that she was lying, she tried hard to focus and the way she averted her eyes sometimes made him conscious of the pain she was in.
“I’m really fine,” she whispered when he wouldn’t stop staring at her. He sighed.
“But guys,” Park exclaimed when he had caught his breath. “We did it!”
They all smiled and Park high-fived Ian when someone spoke.
“Nice,” the man said, clapping. Park and Ian were startled and went all combat modes, but Jenna didn’t seem surprised by him. “I thought that my little pet would finally destroy this school of yours,” he said, faking sadness. The man, who seemed in his thirties, had red hair, like intense red hair; he was pale like a ghost and his eyes were as black as the blackest night. He had a disturbing smile that made Ian’s skin crawl. He didn’t like the man, he inspired him hatred, but what disturbed him the most was the fact that man seemed vaguely familiar. Beside him was a girl, maybe younger than Jenna, with dark, blond curls and way too much eyeliner. She had blue eyes and her glare was fixed on Jenna.
“What do you want, Gustav?” asked Jenna, who had crossed her arms above her chest.
“You know this guy, J?” Park asked, his playfulness gone. He glared at the man, as if he knew him. Ian hadn’t seen that glare in years.
“I used to work for him.”
“Well, if it isn’t for our precious Jenna,” the man exclaimed, his smile widening as he extended his arms. The blond girl cocked an eyebrow. “Long time no see.”
“What do you want? And why have you brought her along? She is too young to go along with your complicities,” Jenna spat, glaring as well.
“Am I the only one that doesn’t know him?” Ian frowned, but none of them paid attention to him.
“I am old enough to do as I please, big sis,” the blond girl answered. Park and Ian looked at Jenna with a confused look. Yeah, totally sisters, despite the fact that Jenna’s skin was dark and she had brown, straight hair.
“Don’t you dare talk to me like that, Claire,” Jenna said.
“Girls, we aren’t here to fight. I am here to give you guys, a task,” the man said, handing them out an envelope.
“Don’t take it,” Jenna hissed as Park was about to take it. “That is how it starts. And when you less think about it, you start murdering people for his sake.”
“You are so funny,” the man laughed. “But I am not asking this as Gustav, like you know me,” he said, looking at Jenna. The girl beside him frowned and looked at him, confused. “I am asking this as Sir Mephistopheles,” he said with a grin.
“Hold it,” Park said, and everybody turned to face him. “I don’t understand. I mean, I don’t care what relationship you have with J, but Mephistopheles? Isn’t that like, a fictional character?”
Jenna face palmed herself as Ian tried not to laugh.
“Dude, Mephistopheles is a demon meant to retreat souls for the Devil; we learned that in Demonic Entities with Master Zai,” Ian said, snorting.
Park’s mouth hung open as he looked at the red haired man, who was glaring at him. Even the blond girl (Claire?) seemed to contain her laugh as she lowered her gaze to the floor.
“As I was saying, I will give you, Team Zero, a task with the cost of humanity.”
“What, are you going to spook everybody to death?” Jenna said sarcastically.
“You see it for yourself,” the man said with a smirk. “Also, I am leaving you a bonus, because I am a good man.”
“Aren’t you a demon?” Park asked with a confused look, flowed by Ian.
“Whatever.” The man said, rolling his eyes. “I was supposed to make an awesome leave, but you ruined it.” He then swayed is hand from one side to another and a big crack appeared on the floor, revealing a lava in the distance and screams of pain from the ghouls and ghosts that roamed about, some trying to go out through the crack. Claire screamed and jumped to Jenna’s side, holding her arm tightly. Jenna pushed her behind her.
“Well, good luck, Team Zero,” Mephistopheles said, walking toward the crack with a smile in his face.
“Wait! What are we-?” Ian started.
And the demon was gone.
“THAT HE SAID WHAT?!” Master Zai yelled looking at the four youngsters seating in the floor in front of him. A tall man with black hair and grey specks, green eyes and tanned skin stood on the corner, with his suit unwrinkled and a straight face. He glanced at nothing in particular, but Ian knew better; he knew this man better than everyone else, for he had grown up admiring him and trying to please him in every way to a point in which he started hating him. And the last time they had met, he made sure to make him know that. The fact that they had similar facial features and the same eyes was enough for the people in the Institute to hate Ian. They all thought that he was inside the best class just because of his father’s influences. If he had a good grade, it meant his father had told the teacher to give it to him; if he went up the Team numbers, it was his father the one who put him with the strongest members. That’s partially a reason why Ian decided not to leave Jenna and Park. He was sick that his father, the Institute’s Director, tried to put him with the best. Just so he wouldn’t shame his family. However, for much money he invested on Ian and how much influences he moved for his son, he would never go along.
“He said that he was giving us this task at the cost of humanity,” Ian repeated, trying to avoid his father’s gaze. “We don’t know what will he do, and the only one able to hold the envelope was Park,” he said, looking at his best friend. Park gave his master a mid-smile.
“We believe that this task is for Park, although we haven’t opened the envelope,” Jenna said.
“But why give this important task to a failure team like you?” Asked the Director, looking at them with narrowed eyes.
“With all due respect,” said Ian through gritted teeth. “Sir,” he spat like poison. “We are not a failure like you are implying. We have developed our powers and teamwork as you asked. You can go ask the ogre’s pieces that lay outside the door of your Institute.”
“However, I haven’t received a report on your improvements yet, Mister Dorrn. So as long as your Master reports this so called improvements, you are still the same failure you were since the time we expelled you,” the man said, trying to make the non-existing wrinkles disappear. Ian glared knives at him as Jenna and Park tried to calm him down with whispered words.
“And who is this?” Master Zai asked, running a hand through his hair, clearly exasperated, but relieved. When he entered the small house on top of the hill, he was concerned when he didn’t find his apprentices. And it got worse when he saw them fighting that ogre from the top of the hill. Nevertheless, the way they defeated it, with teamwork and stability, made him feel like a proud mother.
“She is my sister,” Jenna said with a sharp breath. The girl looked like she was hiding behind her. “I will take full responsibility for her.”“Alright,” said the Director, grimacing at them it was clear the he disliked Team Zero. “Let’s decide what to do with you and this ‘task’.”