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     Chapter 7
Whispers of War

       Inside the dojo of our new Guardians, a computer-generated sky grew dark as its sunset for the day. The darkening rays of light barely pierced through the forest crown. A forest created through fusing shakti and technology. An absolute marvel of human engineering. Trees as tall as skyscrapers densely filled the area. Small streams of water flowed throughout its landscape. Small animals wandered in search of food. Even a trained eye wouldn’t be able to tell the difference from the real thing.

 

       Birds flew into the sky, startled by two intruders. One with pink and green hair followed closely by one with dark raven hair. They sped through the forest flitting from branch to branch.

 

       We’ve been in the dojo a week since that day. Training non-stop on strength and conditioning. No weapons training. No Shakti control. Not even sparring.

 

       “Quit yer daydreaming, Kenichi, you’re falling behind.”

 

       “Sorry.” He said, grimacing at the burning sensation in his legs trying to keep pace. I’m beginning to hate that word. Seems like the millionth time this week I’ve irritated her. Kenichi's attention focused on the flailing of her cloak as she flew to another tree.

 

       She’s something else for sure. Far better than me at any measurable skill. Weight lifting, deep water submersion, speed, jumping distance. I’ve been playing catch-up this entire time yet, I still get the feeling she hasn't shown her full strength. Seeing how she has yet to sweat this entire time we’ve been training.

 

       Kana glared back, “Don’t say sorry, just push harder!” Increasing her speed, putting more distance between them.

 

       He’s improved so much these last seven days. More than I’m comfortable admitting. Everything about him has increased multiple times over. Scary if you think about it. In another few weeks maybe we will be on equal enough footing that we can actually improve together. But right now, he is the weakest link on this team so I need to focus on getting him stronger.

 

       Kana landed on a large branch, halting their movements. Her brows furrowed as a scowl took form on her face. Thoughts drifted back to last week.

###

“Team Uranus, your task for the entirety of next week will be to strengthen your body conditioning. You will take nothing with you and you will not leave the dojo for that time. On the morning of the eighth day, report here at 1100 hours. The two of you will perform a mock battle against team Giai.”

 

###

 

       “Tch” Kikimori raised a hand to her mouth; a bad habit of biting her nails when frustrated. Like we could ever beat a monster like that in a week. I don't see why we couldn't train using Shakti. Would have made it fairer.

 

       Kana relaxed her facial muscles, turning around to witness an exhausted Kenichi propped against the bole of the tree.

 

       “Let's head back,” she ordered, jumping past him. “We need to rest so we’re at our best tomorrow.”

 

       He reluctantly straightened, watching as her pink hair grew more distant in his eyes. “Right, lead the way.” Leaping forward to catch up with her. I wonder if she is worried about it, tomorrow. How could she not be? What kind of threats are out there that could stand up to an attack like that? What could we possibly do against her? But the better question is, why would someone with that power would see my mother as enough of a threat that they would kill her?

 

       “Kenichi! I swear if you keep falling behind I’m gonna leave you here and you can find your own way back!”

 

###

       In the east wing of the academy, two guards stood watch at a closed door. Behind the door was a large empty room. A millennia-old rectangular table carved from the bones of an ancient demon killed by the third Prime, Staretta Chibansou, at its center. Eight large chairs carved from the fangs of said demon surrounded the table. 

 

       One much larger chair, almost throne-like, made from the demon's horn lay at the table’s end higher than all the others. This room was off-limits to all, except the individuals who sat in these chairs. Commonly referred to as the “War Room”It was the war room, a, the venue served as a place to discuss the protection of Souchiban and its cities. The 83rd Prime sat with her seven war captains at the table’s end.

 

       “Report, counselor Candace,” The Prime commanded.

 

       “Yes, Madam Prime,” a slender woman with white hair and glasses responded. Rising from her seat, she opened a visual message in front of her through her ECD. “Two Seta Guardians, archaeological expert Rain Storm and Sightline, were sent to investigate the source of the anomaly that we picked up on our scans four years ago. According to their latest report, samples taken from plant life, animal remains, and minerals appear to date back further than anything we have on record in the Cathedral. In accordance with these findings, like the rest of Area X, no evidence suggests human civilization inhabited the island. Yet they have already uncovered over two-thousand fossilized skeletons which also date back further than anything we have on record.”

 

       “So you’re saying that people did use to live there?” A bearded councilman in his late forties asked.

 

       “It’s unclear at this moment, counselor Totan. Even though the remains of what appear to be humans were found, there has been no evidence to suggest that they lived there. No weapons, no structures, no tools. Just their remains.” Candice answered.

 

       “They also report that creatures that live on the island are significantly more aggressive than the ones we have on the mainland. So far, they have identified thirty-seven undocumented Sage class, seven undocumented Celestrial class, and one Celestrial God class creature.”

 

       A young man, no later than his twenties shoved himself out of his seat, slamming his fist on the table. “You can’t be serious! Are you sure you read that correctly? That's over forty undocumented creatures and you're saying over half of them are Sage class!? Not counting the supposed seven Celestrial class creatures. That’s ludicrous. Between Souchiban and Ledanious there are only six Celestrial class creatures combined, a. And you’re telling me they found seven in one region!”

 

       “Counselor Melaous! Though you were asked to sit on this council by the Cerulean to keep them updated on military matters, we ask that you retain any outburst you feel the need to share. These reports come from Seta Guardians. The sheer allegation that they may be incompetent at their jobs, stands just as a grievance as questioning our Prime.”

 

       “It’s fine counselor Candace,” the Prime interjected, raising her hand to silence them. “I can understand the concern he may feel as to doubt the validity of the information. Counselor Melaous, you have my full assurance that the information shared at this table is taken as facts. Seta Guardians are hand selected by me alone to fulfill any task that I personally would need to look into. Their power, skills, and competency shall never be questioned. Is that understood?”

 

       “Yes, Madam Prime,” Totan responded embarrassingly, taking his seat.

 

       “You may continue with the report counselor,” she instructed, gesturing back to the white-haired woman.

 

       “As I was saying, the undocumented creatures display more intelligence than the creatures mainland. Able to understand our common language and formulate fighting strategies. Of the seven undocumented Celestrial class creatures, only one was engaged in combat and killed. This creature was different from anything we’d ever seen. They take a humanoid form and are able to use weapons and manipulate Shakti on par with Seta Guardian Shadow.

 

       The air stagnated in the room after that statement. Whispers of his name circled the table as the other councilors mumbled. Everyone alive knew who Shadow was and just how frightening his power was. The prime sat unmoving, listening to the report given. Though one trained eye could see the shock behind her facade clearly as she continued listening to the report.

 

       “The weapon of the one killed was a traditional pair of Sai. They were able to kill the creature, but they sustained heavy injuries which halted their investigation efforts for now. Rain Storm suffered six broken ribs, a punctured lung, a compound fracture of the femur, dislocated shoulder, and a shattered tibia. The expected field recovery is six weeks. Sightline’s arm was severed and is being mended back together by his Shiva Core, but full recovery of the arm will take three weeks. Additionally, he suffered a broken jaw, multiple fractures of the hip, and a broken collar bone which will take another two weeks to repair after the arm is restored. That is all Madam Prime.”

 

       “Thank you, counselor Candace. I will review the information we have received here in private. As of right now, we will continue with our daily routines in the city until information presents itself that the creatures of Area X pose a direct threat to our homeland.” The Prime directed. 

 

       She sat back in her chair, silent and, resting her chin on her clenched hand. The sharp bangs of her violet hair fell covering her golden eyes. The room stayed dead silent, affording her peace to think. Several minutes went by before she raised her head to meet the war council's eyes.

 

       “Counselor Melaous, return to the Cerulean and coordinate with them to have food production increased for the capital by fifty percent by the year's closing. In which the surplus will be divided in half. One half will go to the city’s food reserve and the other half to be converted into military ration capsules.”

 

       “Yes, Madam Prime,” Melaous replied.

 

       “Also send word that every province outside of the capital needs to increase their food production by thirty percent. Their surplus needs to be stored in their respective preservation units.

 

       Xanavia Prime rose from her throne chair. Arcs of lightning danced around her body. The hairs of every council member stood on end as they felt her Shakti fill the room.

 

       “I do not need to tell you that everything discussed in this meeting is confidential to the highest degree. Any leaks to the public will be taken as an act of treason,” Her glare directed solely on counselor Melaous. Her Shakti spiked higher. 

 

       “You and your family will be put to death if panic arises from someone’s loose lips. Outside of that, everything shall resume as normal until I say otherwise.” Xanavia Shakti quickly dissipated back to normal levels. “You are all dismissed for today.”

 

       Every council member slowly departed fromtrekked out of the room, murmurs of what they heard at the forefront of their every word, . Uuntil only the 83rd Prime and Candace remained.

 

       Candace stared at her leader as she slumped back in her chair. Her worried expression no longer hidden by the act of looking calm and strong for others. Now her golden eyes showed a softer side, unbefitting of a leader. Xanavia’s waist length hair lay wildly around.

 

       It’s hard to believe that we may be facing a war in our time. She must have a lot on her mind. To be so young, yet have the entire nation well being placed on her shoulders. Candice thought to herself. 

 

       Candace drifted closer to her leader's chair. “Jena and Hanaji will be ok. Their cores are providing field recovery. So long as they keep a low profile they will pull through. Like you said they are Seta Guardians, they are more than capable of finishing their mission.” She consoled.

 

       “I know, it’s not them that has me concerned. It's these creatures that have me worried. How can a Celestrial class damn near kill the two of them?” Xanavia clutched the armrest of her chair in frustration. Its dense bone structure creaks under immense strain.

 

       “The Celestrial creatures we have here, their power alone makes them stronger than the rest, but they are still just dumb beasts. To have that type of power, a tactical mind for battle along with the ability to manipulate Shakti. A threat like this could send us back to the Dark Years.” The Prime’s frustration grew with each passing word. Until the grip on her armrest shattered it to pieces.

 

       “Xanavia!” Rushing to her side, checking it over for any wounds. Not even a scratch. Releasing her hand, Candice composed herself once again. “So why did you have the war council do nothing but increase food production?”

 

       “There's no need to cause a widespread panic for a situation that as of right now hasn't happened, yet we can prepare for that day by getting a start on food production to feed our cities in case the worse were to happen. My most pressing concern now is in case of an attack. Would we have enough trained guardians to defend an attack if those creatures were to find their way here?”

 

       The violet-haired leader stood, before descending  stepping down from her chair. Going over the information again in her mind. “Read the message you said was for my ears only?”

 

       “Yes ma’am.” The silver-eyed councilor entered an encryption code into her ECD revealing a hidden transmission.  “For Madam Prime only. Information about the God class creature is limited. It appears to be directing the other creature on the region with a purpose. So some sort of hierarchy structure exists among them. We did not risk getting close in case we were noticed. Its power is unknown at this point, except that it maxed our readings out on the ECD. Based on that, we presume its power to be on par with Galestorm. That’s the end of the report ma’am.”

 

       “So, there is someone leading these unknown creatures whothat has power comparable to mine when I was at my strongest.” The goldened eye Prime pondered. She paced around her pseudo-assistant before a sly smile planted on her lips.

 

       She crept behind the silver-haired woman wrapping her waist in her arms.

 

       “Candance, my dear,” whispering into her ear.

 

       Candice could feel the warmth of each word she spoke.

 

       Yes, my Prime,” she voiced with her breath. The arms around her waist gently wandered on her body. She could feel the heat building in her body. Blood coursing to places it shouldn't be.

 

       “Have the instructors of the current class meet me here in tomorrow. We have much to discuss.” Seductively planting soft kisses on her nape with every other word. Twisting her body around by her hips. Her hand now traveling down the small of her back. Squeezing tightly when her hands made it far enough down.

 

       “Do–does that mean your daughter's instructor as well?”

 

       Candice felt a shock run up her spine from the tight grip on her rear. The quivering in her legs grew stronger as the Prime’s lips ran across her neck. Moving to invade her mouth with her tongue. Breaking away, her labored breathing seemeds to do nothing but increase her leader's advances. Feeling the most powerful Guardian alive loosen the obi around her waist. 

 

       “Yes. Kiyoshi most of all.”

###

    

       “Today's exercise is a mock battle between team Uranus and team Giai. The use of weapons and Shakti is prohibited. Outside of that, there are no rules. Fight until you either incapacitate your target or unless I say stop.” Kiyoshi explained to his four students back at training field three.

 

       “Ms. Miyamoto, Mr. Solveri, let me have a word with you for a second,” Kiyoshi said walking a few steps away from Kikimori.

 

       “Yes, master.”

 

       “Yes, sensei.”

 

       “Well, this is where I stand down. Don’t hurt them too badly. They’re our backups in the field remember,” Sato said eerily as he casually turned and started walking off.

 

       “Wait, so you're not participating in this fight?” Kana restrained the hopefulness she was feeling hearing his declaration.

 

       “No. Our Master has prohibited my role in this fight. It’s just gonna be between you three. Not that she will need me anyway against you two right now,” Sato gingerly explained as he leaned back onto a boulder.

 

       “Team Uranus!” Kiyoshi impatiently called out.

 

       “Sorry, master, we're coming,” Kenichi answered back. The pair rushed back to their instructor's side.

 

       “Yes, sensei,” Kana asked as they arrived.

 

       “Listen, you will not be able to beat Kikimori of team Giai no matter what you do,” Kiyoshi said with assurance. 

 

       “Then what is the point of this mock battle, master, if you already know she is gonna win?”

 

       “It’s to test where we are, compared to her right, sensei?” 

 

       “You are indeed correct Ms. Miyamoto. I’ve been training with Ms. Chibansou officially for one year here at the academy and even more so before. I know exactly what she is capable of as if it were my own strength. So for me to truly understand just what both of you are capable of, based on the growth attained from your week of training. I’ll be able to accurately schedule a training regimen to increase your growth to its fullest. Remember fight as if you're trying to kill her. Now get out there and show me just how much y’all’ve grown.”

 

       “Right!”

 

       “Right!”

 

       Marching to where Kikimori stood, Kenichi's wiped the sweat from his hands on the sides of his cloak. You need to calm down! All you need to do is your part. She will take care of the rest.

 

       Standing face to face with each other, team Uranus’ eyes were filled with fear and determination, ready to prove their worth. Not only to their instructor but to their fellow teammate as well. While their opponent’s eyes answered with pride and amusement.

###

       “Do you think they have a chance of taking her down?” a female voice asked from behind.

 

       Kiyoshi rubbed his brow. Why today of all days? “What do you want, Mrs. Hanaji?” he grumbled to the busty woman now at his side.

 

       “Whoa, whoa, don’t bite my head off grumpy. I’m just here following orders to give you a letter. We all knew at the academy that her majesty was having a mock battle against your new team, so I decided to come watch,” The long red-haired beauty said to no shame. 

 

       “Well, where is this letter?”

 

       “Oh right. Here ya go,” The blue-eyed Mrs. Hanaji pulled a sealed parchment with the seal of the Prime embossed on it. “This came straight from the Cerulean, hot off the presses. Its evolved orders from the meeting we had last week. All communication is to be hand-delivered on this matter. No ECD is authorized.”

 

       She threw the sealed letter at Kiyoshi, returning her attention to the three students that were soon about to fight. 

 

       “And they call me heartless. You could of at least put a handicap on the little princess. Having them fight out here in the open is kinda harsh. Nothing but a few boulders and trees to hide behind for attacks. They won't stand a chance.”

 

       Kiyoshi unsealed the letter as he poured Shakti at a pre-determined frequency through the parchment. His eyes scanned over the documents, shocked as the information received was the worst-case scenario from the meeting they previously held.

 

       His hands clenched down with anger and confusion, crushing the letter. “This can’t be!?”

 

       “Yep, I said the same thing,” Hanaji voiced as she observed the three students across the field, seemingly bickering at each other. “Seems like new intel was received from a late transmission that there might be a way for these creatures to make their way over here. So they want us to be ready for the worse.”

 

       “Tch.” Even if we were to prepare for the worse, two years? That's not enough time.

 

       “Man you better get over there before they start this fight without you,” Hanji nodded in the direction of Kikimori and team Uranus as mumbled bickering turned into a shouting contest.

 

###

 

       “Say that to my face, fucking, bitch!”

 

       “Why would I taint myself abiding by the wishes of trash like you? At least your partner has a name that grants him respect and prestige in circles But you, farmer trash? You don't deserve to play back up for my team. I am a Satana. How you managed to get here is beyond me.” Kikimori spoke venomously.

 

       Why does Kana have to pick a fight with her? Has she already forgotten how strong she is? And what did she mean by Satana?

 

       “Oh, yea? Try to say that when I crush your pretty little face in,” Kana's rage grew out of her control. Who does this bitch think she is. To just call us trash when she doesn't even know us.

 

       “Calm down you two,” Kiyoshi walked up between the group stopping the fistfight that was sure to start if left alone.

 

       “Ms. Miyamoto, your anger will get you killed in the field if you're unable to control it. What if an enemy decides to use that to their advantage? Now your ability to fight with your partner is out of sync, resulting in both of your deaths. Learn to control your emotions and that will be one less weakness you will have.

 

       “But sensei, she keeps calling us trash. Like we don’t deserve to be here. Should I just stand here and accept that kind of punishment?” Kana angrily spat out.

 

       “Punishment, huh?” Kiyoshi questioned turning to the green-eyed student. “Tell me, when did you get so weak that mere words can hurt you?”

 

       Kana's head turnsed to the ground in front of her. No longer able to meet his eyes.

 

       “Control your anger. Instead of being riled up by an enemy, think with a clear mind on a strategy to kill your enemy.”

 

       Kana’s body shook as she resisted the urge to argue back. “Yes, sensei.”

 

       “Now, I assume that the three of you are ready?”

 

       Their instructor’s face looked at them for confirmation as his hands went up. “Remember what I said,” Kiyoshi advised,spoke directing his statement to team Uranus.

 

       Both members nodded their heads as they dropped into a fighting stance.

 

       Kiyoshi stared at his newest Guardians as they took their stance.

 

       I’m pretty sure I know what Mr. Kenichi's fighting style will be. Their family’s combat techniques, at least when it comes to being bare-handed, are one of the best. Ms. Miyamoto on the other hand, I wonder what type of technique she will try to implore. Her greatest attributes are her insane physical strength and her speed. I just hope whatever they do, Satana won't kill them before I’m able to stop the fight.

 

       “Since y’a’ll are ready, I’ will call the start of this match,” before his hands swiped down jumping out of the way. “BEGIN!”

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