Junsui's Storyan Introduction by Xande
Junsui sat, adding what little wood and burnable items he had been able to find to the small fire that he had gotten started. He sat close to it, trying to watch out for the scouts and searchers that the Combine would surely send after him. He was tired, and his eyes began to droop. He fought it, knowing that he couldn't afford to not pay attention, but inevitably, he fell asleep... - - -
Again, he found himself overlooking the same area he'd been seeing in his past few dreams. Except this time, everything was different.. The sky was heavily overcast to the east, threatening a strong rain that had yet to come, while in the west, the bright orange of the setting sun shone as if there wasn't a cloud in the sky. The clean smell of wet grass lent itself to add to the picture. Orange rays of the golden ball's final hours showered warmth upon the landscape as two rainbows were reflected in the lesser gray of the edge of the oncoming storm cloud.
Standing in the damp grass, he admired the beauty of the occasion. Seeing the magnificence of that view made him feel that some things mattered after all. So what if he was being hunted, right now, being here was all that counted. Leave later for later..
He had no idea how long he had been standing there, looking at the twin rainbows standing as honor guard over the glittering sea at sunset. Stepping away from the cliff edge, he turned to look in a puddle of water. He leaned over to look, smiling. Staring back at him with shining eyes was someone that seemed to not belong with the memories that he remembered. "I do look like a kid, don't I?" he said to himself, letting the good cheer he was feeling --which was in rather short supply, given his situation in the waking world-- show.
A woman spoke behind him. "Eyes far too young and beautiful to have seen such.." He could hear the smile in her voice even without looking.
He felt slightly affronted that someone had spoken and startled him out of his thoughts, but he didn't turn around. He was still looking at a reflection whose hand was now touching the mark just under the corner of its left eye in remembrance. *I've been through alot..* he thought, then asked, "Who are you?" as he turned around.
"Just someone who wants to give you the opportunity to get away." She smiled, and walked toward him. He didn't move, and she reached toward him, caressing the side of his face. "I know that you are still running, trying to get away from them.. Them that are trying to capture you, contain you, regulate you simply because you have a gift. Let me take you away from that. I know that you are on your own.. Let me help. I've been watching over you..."
The pale green silks on her body rippled in the final breeze of the sunset as she stood. She looked confidently at him, waiting to hear the answer that she knew he'd say. She was here because she refused to let someone that had so much promise simply disappear due to a twist of fate that wasn't deserved.
Junsui thought back to his tenuous position, thinking that he probably wouldn't survive the night, but knowing that if he did, it would probably be another day of running, another day of hiding, just to repeat the process if he succeeded. "How long have you been watching me?" he asked, curious to see what she would say. "How long have you wanted to take me from my world, to 'save me' from my misfortune?"
Her eyes filled a little as she lowered her gaze and said, "I've been watching you ever since you were forced onto a world that wouldn't understand your gifts. Ever since you grew of age and your talents were discovered. Ever since you were taken to Processing and marked." Shining tears traced their way down her cheeks as she remembered those events as if she had been by his side, felt the confusion and pain as he endured those trials, and she had been helpless to do anything about it then. No more. "..You didn't and still don't deserve that kind of treatment."
She was bringing back hazy memories, distant to him as if they weren't real, like a dream that he couldn't really remember and wasn't sure whether or not it was important. His emotions threatened to well up again and he clamped down, refusing to show them to a stranger. "How can I trust you? What guarantee do I have that you can do what you say and mean me no harm?"
Tears sparkled from her cheeks to the ground as she shifted her gaze up and looked at him, letting go of the memories and the past. Eyes that reflected the light of the setting sun trembled with sympathy as she said, "Junsui Hayashi, you have my word that I would never do anything to harm you, my love, that made me know you, and my name...Karinia. I wish to give you a better chance than you ever would have in your world, in a place that won't treat you as either a threat or tool."
That stunned him for a few moments. Who was this person who wanted to alter his very destiny by sending him somewhere else? He'd never met her, and was definitely a little wary of her. Even if this was his dream, he had no idea of exactly what his mind was thinking. He looked her over, trying to ascertain if she had any intent other than that which she had already expressed.
Karinia didn't look much older than him, and she simply looked at him openly as he met her eyes. *Well.. I might as well play this out*, he thought.
"What's the catch in all of this?" He looked at her, "I've never known someone to give something for nothing, and I still don't know who you are."
She smiled a sad smile at him. "The catch in all of this is that I but ask you to remember me. You're special. Not only in this world, but in most that I know. I want to give you the chance to realize how special you are, outside of an environment that will surely crush your spirit. May I take you away, Junsui?"
He looked into her eyes and thought to himself, *Heck, just about anywhere is better than this place. Even if this is a dream, I've got nothing to lose..* Aloud, he said, "Oh, I give, yes. Karinia, you may take me away from here. Oh, and please call me Jun." It never occurred to him that she still didn't answer his other question of who (or what) she was.
Happiness flooded her as she shed tears of relief. "Thank you." She gestured behind him. "Thank you so very much."
As she did, the puddle that he had just recently looked into began to glow. Jun turned to look and was in awe as he saw it. It rippled slightly and then became as still as glass.
"All you have to do is stand in the center of the puddle, and you will be transported away."
He was too full of hope to try to play it cool any longer, so he stepped into the center of the puddle and was surprised when it held up. "Now what?" he said as he looked at her in askance.
"Just stand there.." she said. She held up both hands and closed her eyes. Little streams of water began to rise from the outer rim of the puddle to form a thin wall of water in which he was the center. The water rose, making a hollow cylinder between him and everything else. He reached out and touched it, watching the patterns that the ripples made as they contacted each other. As it rose over his head and enclosed him, he couldn't help but say "Wow..."
Karinia smiled, glad that he was enjoying himself.
The water started to swirl around, and as it did, the world began to blur. Everything that he could see through the swirling water lost focus, then colored, and then went a uniform gray....
- - -
Across the landscape of twisted metal from demolished buildings and piles of rubble, a body was shivering against the cold, even in sleep. The meager fire that had been providing little warmth had long since gone out. Huddled in an alcove made from broken plaster slabs, it began to fade away, following the consciousness that had preceded it. A new destination awaited, and with it, the hopes of a better existence.
- - -
...For a few seconds the outside world remained that way, then it reversed itself. The gray blur changed to patterns of color, which then came into focus, finally settling as the water that surrounded him stopped swirling and splashed to the ground, becoming ordinary water once more.
He looked around at the trees and grass around him, then a little off into the distance to see the lights of the city.
Smiling, he bowed and said, "Until the end of time and beyond, I will remember you. Thanks, Karinia."
A fading giggle blew by on the breeze.
Junsui shook his head upon hearing Karinia's voice giggle. Chuckling, he started to head toward the lights of the city he saw, but a bright glow from behind him made him pause. He turned to see a doorway of light open up, and he grinned, thinking that Karinia had also come, to show him around.
What emerged from the doorway was not her, and there were six of them. Five of the people emerging from the doorway quickly moved into positions around him and looked at him intently. The sixth person, who seemed to be a leader of some sort, calmly walked out and looked at Junsui.
"Well Rogue, I see you've decided to show your head in these parts. Unlucky for you, because today's a bad day."
One of the soldiers pulled out a remote-control shaped device. "Scanning for magical potential sir," he said, pointing it at Junsui. The display screen for the device suddenly flashed an array of colors and the soldier tensed up in response. "Sir, this is reading a class 3Alevel!"
All the soldier's hands went to their weapons as they heard that.
"What's going on here?," Jun started. "Who are all of you?"
The guy who seemed to be the leader looked a bit angry."As if you don't very well know what is going on, don't try to play us for fools, Rogue."He nodded slightly and continued, "I don't know how a power such as yours has remained hidden for so long, but right now, that is unimportant. You will be taken into confinement and purged under my authority. Arthanine, First Paladin of the Grandcross."
Confused and slightly frightened, Junsui started to back away when hands suddenly grabbed his arms from behind to restrain him. Duly surprised, he reacted accordingly. Frantically jerking one of his arms out of the grip of the soldier who had grabbed him, he performed a wrist-lock/knee/elbow combination, knocking the soldier back and leaving him on one knee gasping for breath.
Suddenly, the air was filled with the sound of the remaining soldiers drawing their weapons.
Arthanine began to chuckle to himself, deeply amused.
"It seems that you are resisting," he said. With an arrogant smile and a shrug, he added, "Well, in that case, we'll have to kill you."
He was currently in a bad position. The business end of three swords were pointed at various points of his body, all of those points vital, and he was being restrained by two other people.
*Smart move, idiot*, he thought to himself as he was pushed to his knees in the grass. *How am I going to get out of this?*
A soldier looked up at Arthanine. "What do we do now, sir?" he asked.
"Well, I see that you've put yourself in a predicament", Arthanine smirked, not entirely paying attention to the question or his captive. "You know, I've changed my mind. I don't want to kill you.."
A tense sigh of relief escaped from his lips as his heart slowed down to calmer speeds. *At least that's something*, Jun mused.
Arthanine continued, "..I'm going to bring you in for study."
Junsui involuntarily let out a groan of despair.
In a tone that was a bit too cheery for the situation, Arthanine said, "Oh, don't sound so down.. You'll be the most important person at Grandcross." After a moment of thought, he added, "Well, until your body gives out during one of the myriad of exhaustive tests our techs will subject you to. But that's the way it goes."
That was just downright bad. Junsui tensed to try to escape, knowing that he was probably going to die in the process, but the soldiers were holding him too tightly. *Karinia, I'm sorry.. I wasted the chance you'd given me.* He looked up and noticed someone entering the edge of the clearing. Well, the part that caught his attention wasn't so much as the stranger entering, or the pale green sword that he held, but the small rain cloud above him that was pouring rain down on him.
Arthanine and the stranger exchanged insulting words (Junsui laughed at the irony in hearing the stranger being called "water boy"), culminating in a threat that the First Paladin looked like he'd have to follow up on. Anger appeared in the stranger's face as a bolt of lightning erupted from the cloud and struck the First Paladin, sending him flying across the clearing. He rose from his impromptu landing place, smoking slightly, and said, "Kill him."
Junsui's hopes were realized as two of the swords were taken off of him and the two holding him let go to deal with the stranger.
Taking advantage of the opportunity, he grabbed the soldier's sword arm and spun around the thrust the soldier tried when he saw him move. Redirecting his arm down so his sword stuck into the grass of the clearing, he kneed the soldier in the ribs, doubling him over and hit him with an uppercut, bringing him back to standing, stunned and dizzy.
Normally that would have been enough (the soldier probably would have fallen with one more hit), but he was still reacting out of fear to what Arthanine said. "Study" and "Experiment" ringing in his head, he kicked the back of the soldier's leg with his foot, bringing him down to his knees, and as he landed, he hit him with a right fist/ left fist/ back roundhouse that threw the soldier to the ground, face first and unconscious.
Panting, Junsui looked at the soldier for a second or two and then a motion caught his eye. He turned his head to see the stranger rushing in his direction. Apprehension filled him as he tried to think of something...
Junsui whirled around just in the nick of time to have the strange man tackle him spear-style to the ground. His immediate instinct to fling the man off of his chest was stopped short by a blinding white beam of light flying about three feet above his head. The beam of light crashed into a nearby tree, splintering it from the tips of its limbs to the roots. In the wake of the beam, there were no dead leaves, snapped twigs, broken limbs, or torn bark. There was merely a pile of toothpick-sized wood chips and dust.
Junsui's jaw dropped and his eyes widened. *This DEFINITELY can't be a good thing,* he thought in shock.
"Back off and stay out of this," the stranger whispered to him. His eyes were not looking at Junsui, but shifting between the remains of the tree and the source of the beam, First Paladin Arthanine. "Okay! You with the laser beams! You and me, one on one!"
Arthanine's laughter boomed through the clearing. "Yes, by all means, do step away," The massive man said condescendingly to Junsui. "It's not polite to interfere in a duel, you know. Besides, it will all be over in about twenty seconds anyhow and then you can have your turn." Arthanine shook his head, grinning. "Kids today are so impatient."
"I am NOT a kid," replied the navy-haired man defiantly, stepping towards the gigantic Arthanine.
"Well whatever you are, you are in the way. Move, kid."
Junsui glanced back over at the man in black, pale green sword drawn and an expressionless face who simply nodded to him. "No interference. If I die, kick his ass."
Junsui nodded. "Without honor, a win is meaningless." He stepped back, never taking his eyes off of Arthanine, but leaving the two plenty of room to fight.
Arthanine cocked his head to one side and scratched his beard impatiently. "Are you two finished with your honor speeches? If so, I'd like to hurry up and dispose of him." he gave an indicating nod to the stranger. Gripping the sword tightly, the stranger made a dash towards the First Paladin, sword point extended.
The First Paladin stood there, staring at him, with a broad grin on his face. In an instant, a beam of white energy flew from Arthanine's fingertips at the stranger's feet. Having only a split second to react, the man leaped forward, his momentum carrying him forward high into the air. His velocity would have easily cleared the First Paladin's head.
Would have never happen, though. Arthanine leaped about four feet into the air and with surprising dexterity delivered a powerful kick to the stranger's midsection.
He gasped, falling backwards as his sword flew from his fingers, still flying forward and landing point-down into a patch of moss near an oak tree.
Nearby, Junsui watched as in a span of about four seconds, Arthanine disarmed and knocked down the man in black with a single kick. Arthanine stood over the dark man, who was on his knees coughing, and laughed. "Oh come, come now, I expected better than that from you. Haven't you got anything left?" Arthanine nudged the stranger's head with his boot, but he didn't respond. He laughed even harder.
Suprisingly, the stranger sprang up, catching Arthanine by surprise with a kick to the midsection and aiming a punch at his face.
Arthanine quickly recovered though, catching his wrist and pounding him in the gut with a clenched left fist. The First Paladin wrapped and bent the (once again) gasping stranger's arm around across his throat, clutched his own massive arms around the stranger's head and neck, leaped a few feet into the air, and slammed the man in black's body back-first onto the dirt.
Groaning softly and rolling over after the impact, he tried to pull himself up into a fetal position, but fell motionless into the dirt, exhaling sharply.
Arthanine glanced over at Junsui. "Perhaps my next little display will convince you to come with me peacefully," said the First Paladin. Arthanine made a strange gesture with his hand, and the stranger was lifted off of the ground where he floated limply, unaware of his surroundings.
Arthanine's body began to glow, and the entire forest was engulfed by a flashing light, flickering bright white one instant and jet black the next, creating a strobe effect. Between Arthanine's hands formed a glowing ball of energy that constantly stayed the opposite of whatever color the light was. The roar produced by the energy gathering sounded like a great waterfall. The forest began to lose its color, first the green and red and blue, then the finest colors, even gray. All was either black or white.
Junsui stared, knowing that he would be unable to do anything to stop, or even slow what was happening. Arthanine's eyes gleamed with a disease of madness, and his laughter was the only sound that could be heard over the energy's gathering.
In perfect contrast to the colorless forest, a brilliant blue spear of light flashed through the clearing. Arthanine's laughter turned to a scream of agony, though the madness never left his eyes. They remained open wide as the blue light flew through his body. When the scream died, The lights faded, the roaring died, and color once again filled the forest clearing.
When the grove returned to its former state of serenity, Arthanine lay lifeless on the ground, a maddening gleam in his eyes and the expression of his laugh frozen on his face.
Junsui just stared in disbelief at the whole scenario, and in even further confusion at the two strangers who had arrived in the nick of time.
Some woman with green hair, who had seemingly arrived unnoticed, gave a startled cry, ran to the fallen stranger's side.
If thoughts were audible, all that would be heard from Junsui would be a thoroughly confused and awed "Wha....?" He looked around the clearing, searching for comprehension. At least now, the sun was starting to burn through the haze of fog that had been in the clearing since he arrived.
The raincloud guy (who was still being rained on), leaned against the green-haired woman. She was holding him close to her, eyes closed, ignoring the light drizzle that fell onto her.
The newest stranger, also clad in all black, was still leaning against the oak tree, a satisfied smile on his face, as he also looked around the clearing. Their eyes met, and his smile turned to a smirk and he said, "You seem to be more than a little confused at your current situation."
Junsui only nodded.
"Its pretty simple to understand," he started. "She and I," he gestured toward the woman still cradling the stranger, "Were close nearby looking for someone when we heard, or more accurately, saw that something was happening. I decided to investigate, seeing as she said that the person she was looking for could be in danger. Though I don't remember her mentioning that he was traveling with a companion."
Something about this guy was bugging Junsui. He didn't like the feeling that he was getting from this person, but couldn't deny the fact that he had saved the stranger's life, and most likely his as well. Finally able to organize his thoughts, he said, "Thank you for your intervention. If it weren't for you, he and I would probably be dead now. Um...who are you?" *For that matter*, he thought, *who are all of you, and where am I?*
"I," the stranger said with an slight bow, sweeping his cloak, "am Serath." Straightening, he added, "and as for saving your lives, don't worry about it. Just consider ourselves even." Serath caught Junsui's upraised eyebrow and said, "If it weren't for you and your friend there, I may not have gotten this opportunity for a while."
That cryptic remark was not exactly expected. "What opportunity?" he asked warily, worried about what he might hear in response.
"Oh, nothing concerning you or your friend here, I just had a couple of differences with his commander." Serath indicated with a nod of his head the remaining living soldier.
"Uh-huh." Junsui stated evenly, deciding to end the conversation with Serath by walking toward the woman holding the stranger that had knocked him out of the way of the attack that Arthanine had directed at him.
Serath just shrugged and leaned back against the tree again, a contented smile on his face.
Junsui stopped just outside of the drizzle range of the cloud, across from the woman and asked, "Is he all right?"
That seemed to snap her out of her reverie, as she jumped slightly and looked up at him, her eyes distant. "He'll be fine," she told him. With a more of a "here" look on her face, she focused on him and said, "What happened here? And who are you?"
Feeling more at ease (though not any less lost), he grinned sheepishly at her and replied, "That's something that I've been wondering since I got here."
At her confused look, he quickly reiterated, "The 'happening' part, not who I am. My name is Junsui."
"Oh" she said smiling slightly. "My name is Engelin, and he..." She lifted the seemingly perpetually drenched stranger lying in her arms, "Were he awake, would tell you that his name is Ashton."
As if hearing his name, Ashton's head moved a little, and groaned as he opened his eyes into a squint. "Wha..!" he exclamed, eyes opening widely as he realized where he was and sat up quickly, looking around. "What happened??"
"That's the same thing I've been asking myself all along." Junsui said, sitting down on the grass. "Hopefully, one of you knows what just happened, or more exactly, _where_ I am.."
Just after Junsui finished saying that, he heard a familiar voice say appreciatively, "Well done!" Someone was walking up to him smiling, holding a clipboard.
"Karinia!" he said, a look of suprise on his face.
"Sorry to do all this to you," she started, "but my bosses wouldn't approve such a 'favor' to be granted without a test to see if the person was worthy.."
"Did I pass?" he wondered. (In actuality, he was fighting off the urge to just sit there and daydream about her.) *Wow. She's so pretty.*
"You sure did!" she said with a large smile, noting something on the clipboard.
Just then he noticed that everything had stopped moving. The trees were no longer waving, he felt no breeze, verything had stopped. He looked over to Ashton, Engelin, and even Serath, but they had frozen also..
"Um. Karinia?" Junsui hesitantly started.
He hooked a thumb at the other three people who were sharing the clearing with the two of them. "Why have they stopped moving?"
She frowned cutely and then said, "Oh, sorry.." She waved her hand and they all disappeared. Then she winked at him. "They're not real." she told him, turning and walking toward a door in the room that --had the previous images been up-- would have been the oak tree that Serath had been leaning on.
"Follow me," she told him.
He followed her and was in a constant state of awe --though the confusion still hadn't left-- as he looked around. Soon, they left the hallway he continued to follow her across what seemed to be a _huge_ plaza of some sort, that let him see the world outside. He soon discovered that gawking and walking didn't work together too well.
*My homeworld wasn't this advanced*, he thought to himself.
In the distance were skyscrapers that gleamed, though he had no clue what the gleaming was from, since he suspected that they were not covered by glass. Cars seemed to be flying, while the ground under them was natural as if it hadn't been touched in a long time.
Still looking around, he said to her, "Wow, it must be fun to work here.."
Karinia looked back at him, replying, "It can be, though I'm not usually here.." She slowed down to walk alongside him. "I just run errands back and forth, except when I went to go get you.." She tapped the tip of his nose with the pen she was holding and giggled. "I wanted to be the one who brought you out." Before he could muster up another question about what she was all about, she sped up, pulling in front of him saying, "We're almost there now!"
Junsui was getting fed up with all the confusion he was feeling, and started to say *Almost where?* but all he could get out was "A--" as they entered the room.
His mouth hung open on that unfinished "A" as he stopped dead in his tracks, looking up at the large storm of fragments that was randomly swirling around in the center of the room. There seemed to be millions of pieces of shattered glass, except shattered glass didn't swirl around in the air like that, didn't have a picture of a different place on each of them, and didn't sound like wind chimes in a gentle breeze.
Partially surrounding the swirling storm in the center of the room was a raised, semi-circular platform of equipment, which technicians were bustling around. He felt a hand under his jaw, and he shut his open mouth, realizing that it had been hanging open the entire time. He looked away from the beautiful display, to see Karinia standing before him, smiling.
"Amazing, isn't it?"
Again speechless, Junsui could only nod.
"Then this will be interesting for you to see." She walked toward one of the nearest techs and handed him the clipboard. "Got one to go, Dan."
The tech looked up at her and said, "Don't normally see you in here for Sendings, what gives?" Then he glanced over her shoulder and saw Junsui. He grinned. "Oh, special request, eh?" he teased her.
Junsui could almost hear her blush.
"Something like that," she replied. Flustered by the tech's continuing look, she laughed and responded, "Oh, just start the process already!"
The tech picked up some kind of pen and ran it over a few things on the clipboard and then pressed a button on the console in front of him. Immediately, the swirling of the fragments became controlled and they started to assemble like a puzzle. Beginning to join themselves vertically, they built a moving image of a street outside of a some place that said "Ambrosia's" on the front. Cars were parked outside, and the place seemed to be a busy restaurant from the one glimpse that could be seen when someone came out of the door.
Then a gleam ran along the four sides of the scene that seemed to be a sign that it was done forming, because the tech said, "Window formation complete, awaiting transfer."
"That's you," Karinia said, pulling Junsui toward the window, which lowered to float a few inches above the ground.
"Wha-?" he replied, allowing himself to be pulled toward it.
She stopped once they were in front of the window."This is your new home. Where you're supposed to be." Junsui's confusion got the best of him as he began to say something, so what came out was, "Huh? Butwhatabouthere? Imeanyou-- I mean--"
She cut him off with a quick kiss, effectively stopping the tangle of words he was spouting. "I know what you mean.." He was about to open his mouth, attempting to say something else, but her finger was across his lips.
Curiosity in his eyes, he looked at her.
She simply stood there, slightly looking up at him with tears starting to well as she slowly removed her finger from his lips, saying, "Shh.. Dreams such as mine can't be.. I was lucky enough to be able to come and get you..." She pushed him away softly, leaving her arm outstretched, and he stumbled backward. "If I'm lucky, we'll see each other in our dreams." She dropped her arm and looked at him, trying to smile through the tears she was holding back. "I.. I'm sorry.. I'll always--"
The Window shattered and vanished just as she was about to finish, leaving him standing there, waiting for words he wouldn't hear....