Hey guys. I had the urge to post something, so I decided to throw the thing I've been working on most recently up here. Tell me if you think it's any good, and I might put up more when I get to it if you do. That being said, I'll also try to answer any questions that you have, as I wasn't meaning to post it here in the first place and instead wanted it to be part of the book I'm writing about Jin.
Real quick, to get the overall setting, just think Gifted vs. Government on another planet and you basically have the gist of it. Any questions about Jin's character can probably be answered in his profile for those unfamiliar with him. Any time you see GCSF, just think Secret Police and you'll get it, and try not to hate on the intro scene's melodrama. It might hurt my feelings. D:
The world was dark to the closed eyes of the orange haired male, the only things in existence being the sound of leaves swaying in the breeze and a nearby brook babbling softly. It had been a long time since he’d been here. Too long, maybe. But even too long wasn’t long enough for him. This forest was his first home, the home he’d lived in along with his family. It seemed to be a fitting place for what Jin knew would be his last fight against his older brother.
Even now he could sense the approach of the boy in the air. Jin’s muscles tensed ever so slightly as the vile energy closed in on him. Suddenly, he became acutely aware of every other person in the forest. He hadn’t realized there was such a large grouping of people. He cringed, realizing how much harder it would be to fight now that he had to make sure not to guide the battle too close to them.
Jin drew his blades and whipped around on instinct alone, the metal of his sword clashing firmly against the deep green energy of his brother’s blade construct. “Nice to see you again little brother,” the grey-haired boy seethed, “I think you’ll be happy to know that it’s finally time.”
With that, Leviathan vanished in a blur of grey and black. “Time for what?” Jin asked calmly, glancing around as his eyes strained and pupils slit to keep up with Leviathan’s movements. He could just barely register the slow, rhythmic ticking of a clock in the back of his head that he knew signified his perception of time being distorted by his brother. All he had to do was focus; ignore the green flames that sprung up from the grass and rock, dissolving the earthen matter into energy for his brother to command. He would be able to predict Leviathan’s movements if he could just do that.
Leviathan popped up in front of Jin, trying for a downward slice across his collar bone. Jin brought his blade up and charged it with electricity to block, the sound of steel hitting energy and the lack of pain telling him he’d been successful. Jin then dropped, kicking low and across his brother’s knee. Not only would it hurt like a bitch, but it would also keep him from going anywhere quickly.
The kick made contact, but it didn’t seem to faze Leviathan at all. What kind of armor plating was Leviathan wearing to keep Jin’s joint kick from affecting him? The sudden punch charged with green energy served as Jin’s answer. Leviathan was using Earthen Energy to boost his body’s durability. Since the grey haired boy never really focused on speed, the side-effect of having heavier bones wouldn’t’ bother him too much as long as he was still capable of flight.
“It’s time for you to join me!” Leviathan bellowed as Jin stumbled back, clutching his face where his brother’s fist had made contact. “You see, you’re finally strong enough for me to consider you more trouble than you’re worth. When you join me, I won’t have to deal with your antics any longer and I’ll finally have the power to crush this corrupted World Government under my heel.”
Leviathan spoke of The Government with obvious venom in his voice. Leviathan resented people who killed Gifted even more than Jin hated Leviathan for killing their parents. Jin scoffed at this. “Do I even need to dignify this insane dream of yours with a response? I don’t die, Leviathan. Not when your reasoning behind killing me is to cause even more deaths.”
Leviathan’s face contorted in anger at Jin’s statement. “No matter what I tell you, you’re always so stubborn about this! I’m saving millions of people from dying by doing this, Jin. How many lives have you saved by not doing anything!?”
Jin was in front of his brother in the blink of an eye, smashing a fist into Leviathan’s face right underneath his left eye. Leviathan staggered back at the electrically imbued fist’s powerful impact. “Killing millions to save millions is what you’re doing! Don’t rationalize murder, Leviathan. It’s unbecoming.” Jin’s assault continued as he peppered Leviathan with the electrical punches, neglecting to draw his swords for higher-intensity combat.
Leviathan eventually broke free of the combination, anger burning on his facial features as the last of the residual static from the blows crackled out of existence around his injured face. “I’m not rationalizing what I’m doing. I’m showing you the logic. If I hadn’t killed the people I did, I would have never gained the power that I have. I would never be able to beat the government like I was. This is me taking responsibility for the world, and if a few people have to die so the rest can be safe, then so be it!”
Jin let out a draconic roar at his brother’s words. “NO ONE SHOULD HAVE TO DIE!”
With that, both Hikari boys entered their ascended states. Their power flowed freely and their clash of fists and minor energy evolved into a full-scale, no holds barred battle between the two. Energy shot back and forth across the forest like a nuclear war, and Jin had to make sure that none of the communities in his old home were destroyed by the fallout.
To the two main communities of the Tamnian Forest it had been just any other day. Well, as ordinary as a day where talk of war was stirring all about in the middle of negotiations to prevent it could be. The two clans were known as the Sayuri, a family of noble attitude despite harsh conditions due to their gifted bloodline, and the Nanashi. The Nanashi claimed that their house was directly linked to the house of the ancients, as they in all actuality had no name. In the language of the ancients, that is what Nanashi meant. Or, so the Nanashi said.
The Nanashi were powerful, weapon wielding warriors of strange namesakes. They would take on the name of their favorite combat maneuver upon learning how to wield their first weapon. Their leader, decided through the primitive way of death battles of the strong and willing, was currently a seventeen year old boy, and self-proclaimed Fulfiller of Prophecy. In the Nanashi lore, a young boy would rise to the top ranks of a clan of the ancients and hold the fate of the stars in his hands. Needless to say, modesty was a quality quite lacking amongst the male denomination of the clan.
Their current leader’s name, Skewer, came from the not-so-tall tale that he had once used his weapon of choice, a short sword fit for a versatile combatant, to run through two men at once. He was an arrogant, charismatic, and deadly boy. He was not afraid to give out orders, nor was he afraid to take his laws into his own hands. You either listened to him, or you died. That’s why when the subject of Skewer’s desire for the heiress to the Sayuri clan came about; talk of war began brewing when he did not immediately receive what he had asked for.
Currently he was seated across a short table from a group of older gentlemen, his general to his right and his advisor to his left, letting his cool amber eyes shift about the room in boredom as he heard the logic behind the Sayuri’s resistance to his requests. They, apparently, did not believe that sixteen was the proper age to become married, and they were also concerned over the continuation of their clan line. Did they not understand that for the Nanashi life meant to live short and fight hard? That their clan would be in safe hands as long as he had their heiress? These fools did not know the first thing about combat.
In all truth, though gifted, the Sayuri were not apt fighters. Their specific, recurring power made them better at grappling than fighting on their feet, and even then they would be outmatched if a fighter with more experience than them came along, and those could be found in most parts of the world. No, his problem was with their arrogance. How dare they deny him what he wanted. He would take whatever and whoever he damn well pleased, whether they liked it or not. With that thought, he rose to a standing position and folded his arms.
“You’ll bring me the girl,” he said with a dark undertone to his normally gravel-filled voice, “or by sunrise next week these fields will be dyed red with your blood.”
The scraggly-brown haired boy turned on his heel and walked out, his hands balled into fists at his sides and his two companions trailing closely behind. The oldest of the Sayuri men, a man who had begun to lose height as well as the grey in his hair reducing to a pale white, took out a handkerchief and rubbed his brow. He was the current clan head, as his only son and his wife had left long ago, taken away by the government troops due to their rebellious ideals, leaving only their daughter, his grandchild, in their place.
She was seventeen now, his granddaughter. She would have been looking for one of the unrelated clan members to marry and rule with within the year, but that was hardly what this situation was about. No, he simply did not trust Skewer with the girl. She was, in his opinion at least, fragile. She would find her gift uncontrollable at times, and her energy levels were so low that she could barely fight off more than one opponent at her own skill level, which was admittedly less than average. The standards of battle capability and the severity of punishment for weaker members of Skewer's clan could most definitely kill her.
The thoughts swirled through the man’s head. He had a choice to make, and it wasn’t an easy one. He could surrender his granddaughter’s life and the future of his clan to the Nanashi, or he could start a war that would guarantee that his clan wouldn’t have a future to worry about.
His thoughts were interrupted when the first tremor hit, and the world around him went to hell.
The purple-haired, green-eyed heiress to the Sayuri name had been sitting at her desk in her room, studying the proposal letter that had been sent a week ago by Skewer. She had interacted plenty with the boy when he was younger, and never liked him much for it. He was arrogant, quick to get angry, and not afraid to maim or kill people to achieve his goals. She hated his violent nature, and his sickening aura. That was one thing she didn’t understand about her powers. They were different. Yes, she had the typical trait of her family, although it was uncontrollable when she needed it to be restrained, but more than that she had also just seemed to be able to feel her way around people from a young age, even without making contact. It was like some kind of energy that no one else saw surrounded them all the time, and she was hypersensitive to it.
She remembered that she was to be married to this sick boy in the coming days, and the thought made her stomach twist. She couldn’t do anything to stop him, though. He was just too strong to say no to. The concept made her laugh a little, at least on the inside. She wasn’t up to showing anything more than acceptance and depression at the moment. She dropped the letter neatly to the far end of the desk and promptly proceeded to fall onto her bed in preparation for her afternoon nap.
The rumbling started out as an annoyance, but soon the purple-haired girl realized that it was actually quite violent. Not on par with the earthquake that had happened about a year ago, but still fairly strong. She struggled to remember exactly what it was that had kept her alive back then. Upon recalling that she’d ran out into the clearing between the settlement and the forest, she propped open her large window and jumped out, feeling her bare feet strike against soft grass and soil before she took off running.
It took her a minute to realize that what she was experiencing wasn’t an earthquake. It had been going on for far too long, and the aftershocks came too quickly and in too varying a degree of force. This wasn’t a natural disaster, it was man-made. But that was impossible. No one was that powerful, not in this forest. And yet, clear as day in the sky, animate flashes of navy blue and forest green energy clashed against one another in a very human and also very inhuman looking struggle. Then the blue light grew to massive proportions, engulfing a huge area of the forest. It nearly blinded the girl.
When the flash became not so blinding the green light, now significantly weaker, disappeared in a blur as the blue light fell to the earth. The girl didn’t know why, but she found herself running into the forest in the direction the light had fallen. If anyone was that powerful, could they possibly beat Skewer? Would they even care about some backwoods squabble between clans? She had to at least try.
The first color she saw in the crater where the blue light had landed was, surprisingly, orange. It was a man – no, a boy – he was about her age too, if first appearances, although altered by his battered and bloody state, were accurate. She was taken aback slightly at the scar on his face, but then again it was better than Skewer’s body that was more scar than flesh. Though, maybe this boy would be the same after his wounds healed up. It was a shame, too. He would be kind of attractive if he cleaned up a bit.
She approached him carefully, even considering grabbing a stick and poking him for a second, but then he rolled over. He was awake. Or a zombie. Hopefully the former, as the girl didn’t have the slightest clue what to do when the undead attacked. She didn’t even know they could, to be honest. He stood on weak legs, taking a deep breath and shutting his eyes again. “Shake it off. You’ve had worse,” he mumbled to himself. His voice was smooth and low despite being a whisper, and the way that his wounds seemed to be closing all around him meant he was healing. Was that his power? Or was it just another use of that blue light from before?
She stumbled back half a step when his head snapped to her direction. That didn’t seem to distract him, though, seeing as he was still readjusting the small black pipes around his wrists and ankles. “And who might you be?” He asked. His voice was a bit louder and carried a hint more gravel to it than when he whispered.
She couldn’t speak. Not for the life of her. The air caught in her throat and her jaw was clenched shut. It wasn’t that this boy was scary, though he was with the blood still drying on his skin. It was more due to the fact that she was incredibly nervous, and still had her doubts as to whether or not he was actually alive. She walked up to him, removing a white glove from her right hand and carefully placing her palm against his miraculously unbloodied shoulder. She was much better talking to people this way. Not with words, but with her head.
However, a weak charge of static rushed to the limb, shocking her and cutting off her access to his mind before she could even find out his name. Had he done that? She’d never met anyone who could repel her reading abilities. His smirk told her all she needed to know. “So, Korra, not to sound rude, but do you mind if I head to that river behind your house. I’d like to clean up a little before this place starts swarming with GCSF Grunts, and I’d say we only have about an hour or so to get things done.”
Korra’s eyes widened. Not only had he blocked her read, he’d somehow gotten one of his own in. Who was this boy? What was he doing here, of all places? Her grandfather wouldn’t be too happy with him if he’d attracted the GCSF to this place. They rarely cam to Leviterra as it was, let alone patrolled the Tamnian Forest. “I…I never got your name,” she said quietly. He seemed to register the suggestion that she wouldn’t allow him anywhere near her house until he told her, because he chuckled.
“Maybe after my bath,” he said as he ruffled her hair. Korra wasn’t used to people outside her family, let alone a boy her age, being so physically familiar with her, so she opted to not respond, and instead followed him as he started walking. “Besides, if you’re going to play telepathy games, you should know that the winner usually gets what they want.”
Jin was scrubbing off the crusty layer of dried blood from his torso in the stream behind the complex meant for bathing no more than half an hour later. Korra’s grandfather had been understanding of the situation, and while he seemed a little distressed at the idea of the GCSF popping up, there was also something else on his mind. Jin had learned long ago that when clan elders had something on their minds, it was usually about politics. He hated politics. In fact, he hated higher-class people in general, like that one brown haired kid who was giving him the eye when he saw Jin walking with Korra. He oozed entitlement.
“Kailyn and the kid are gonna have one hell of a day finding you this time, Jin,” He spoke to himself as he ran his fingers through his hair. He’d more or less abandoned the two with nothing more than a stern warning to his white-haired pupil to keep his hands to himself. Kailyn assured him that she’d cut the boy's hands off if they strayed too far from him, but she’d done it with that look in her eye that told him she was lying. It was a big brother thing; best not to question how he knew.
“So your name’s Jin?”
The voice came from nowhere, and Jin blinked as his stuck his head outside the waterfall, seeing a damp purple haired girl in nothing but chest wrappings and biker shorts staring at him with a coy smirk. “Maybe,” he replied with just as much wit as she’d thrown at him, “though you certainly seem to have taken a class in confidence since I last saw you. Teacher must be pretty good if they can stop that stutter you had.”
“It helps when the people you’re talking to aren’t covered in blood or just so happen to be in their underwear, tangerine head,” Korra replied tritely. This boy had spunk. She liked that, which was why she was emulating his actions. In all honesty, she was still a bit nervous around him.
Jin laughed uproariously at this. “Real original, but seriously, what are you doing here? Isn’t it against your clan’s etiquette or code or whatever for opposite sexes to bathe together?”
That one got her blushing, as she was painfully aware that nothing but wrappings and underwear separated them from being fully nude. He stepped the rest of the way out of the waterfall, poking her in the forehead with two fingers. Again, there was no flash of images that made up memories, just the slight tingle of electricity across her skin. Was that how he read her mind? His skills were probably dominant to hers in some fashion or another if it was. It wouldn’t be all that hard to beat her; she kind of sucked at reading minds.
“What? Nothing to say?” He said in a suddenly annoying tone of voice. He was being arrogant. Arrogant like Skewer, and she hated it. “Alright then, serious conversation time. Who was that brown-headed kid that kept glaring at me? I’ve been here for about two hours, I can’t already have an enemy.”
Korra looked away, slightly frustrated that he was talking about Skewer, but also glad that he was capable of being serious, and that despite their lack of clothing he seemed to be able to keep himself in check.
“His name’s Skewer. He leads this other clan on the opposite side of the forest. He’s probably jealous, as that was his fifth marriage proposal to me when you saw him. He has this idea in his head that he can get whatever he wants just because he’s good with a sword. I mean-“
Jin’s guffawing interrupted her.
“That kid? Good with a sword? Not only is his physical build all wrong, but he doesn’t know how to hold the thing worth crap. He’s carrying a reversed blade for God’s sake! That can’t kill anyone, at least not easily.”
Korra actually took the time to remember the swords that were firmly sheathed in Jin’s belt when she’d found him. They were well crafted, longer than Skewer’s own sword, one sided, and looked pretty deadly. Did he know how to fight with them? He’d have to, as she remembered that he’d been the one who caused the explosions in the forest. “And I suppose you’re some tough guy who can beat him if you tried really hard, huh?” Korra remarked, still not fully believing that there was someone who could knock Skewer off his high horse.
“I’ll be honest with ya. I wouldn’t even need the swords. I’ve been all over, met the most powerful fighters in the world, even knocked a couple down a few pegs myself. If this boy thinks he’s the best there is, he’s got a lot of learning to do.”
Korra fell silent. Jin was a traveler? She’d been expecting some kid from the next town. She’d always wanted to see the world when she was young, and still did secretly at times now. She wondered what kind of things he’d seen, what kind of memories she could gain from him if he let his guard down for even a second. “You’re serious, aren’t you?” she asked. Jin nodded. “I…need to go talk to my grandfather.”
Korra rushed to get her clothes and get back to her house, leaving Jin in the river to finish his bath. The orange-haired boy closed his eyes and leaned back under the falls again, sighing as the water, which was fairly warm for a spring day, rinsed over his sore muscles. Maybe he needed a nap was all. Yeah, a nap sounded good.
He emerged from the water, his body sparking slightly as the liquid still clinging to his skin dried. His hair popped back up in its usual spiky fashion, and he threw on his black cargos while deciding the shirt could wait. He liked the feel of the air against his chest. He found a half decent tree to lie under and shut his eyes. How long had it been since he slept? Two, three weeks tops, he decided. Yeah, he was running on empty. Time to recharge.
Jin woke up in a bed, Korra lying her head down on the small desk next to him. She was sleeping. Had they found him? He tried to sit up, seeing that his body was covered in bandages. They’d examined him in his sleep. He had broken bones after his fight with Leviathan, of course. Who wouldn’t? However, they’d probably seen it as more of an emergency than he did. He sighed, sitting up. He’d slept more than he’d meant to, and they’d thought he passed out. They’d probably done their best work, and now he owed them. Great.
He stood, walking over to the desk Korra had occupied. Maybe she could answer some questions of his. He wasn’t big on rude awakenings, so he settled for running a hand through her purple locks. She sighed a bit at first, but then awoke with a bit of a start. He was touching her again. As a Sayuri, Korra considered the mere act of touching anyone intimate. It meant that she would delve into their mind and see their thoughts and memories. This intimacy wasn’t expressed with Jin, as he had a way of somehow filtering her out, but the feeling of his fingertips against the back of her neck and her hair sent a shiver down her spine none the less.
“You’re awake,” she said, sounding relieved. “You’ve been unconscious for days…The doctors couldn’t believe you were walking around with the shape your skeleton was in.”
She stood, poking him firmly in the chest. “You’re not exactly normal, are you?” she asked in a hushed tone. Jin smirked.
“Took you that long? Thought I made it obvious by blocking out your little mind reading trick,” he chuckled. Korra rolled her eyes at that.
“Not what I meant. Even for a gifted, you’re different. Does the government even categorize you as one?” She asked, tilting her head in mock confusion.
“They prefer the term terrorist, but yes,” Jin replied. “And as for my differences, it’s called training. Heck, it might even be the area around here. You feel it, don’t you? This place is different than the outside. More energy in the air.”
Korra shook her head. “No. I’ve lived here all my life. Well, most of it anyways. We relocated further in when I was about four. The land was ruined, but it all grew back quickly and the crops are incredible each year.”
Jin started laughing. “That’s generally the aftermath of any place that…never mind. The point is, I was born here. Maybe even in this exact spot. That ruined landscape was the ashes of a fight I had right before I left to start exploring.”
“You’ve been travelling alone since you were four!?” Korra asked, dumbfounded. Jin nodded.
“Were there…graves?” Korra asked. Jin tensed up, the light in his eyes dimming. “After the fight, I mean. We found two…they’re still up, if they mean anything to you.”
Korra found him kneeling next to the two small rocks with the wooden sticks tied into crosses with bits of string that were laid out around the center of the courtyard in her home. He seemed deep in thought, his eyes shut tight and his lips pressed into a thin line. So these were the graves he’d made for his family back then? He remained silent, but stood and turned. His eyes were looking somewhere far away, like he wasn’t even aware that she was near him. His steps were cool, even, and silent as he made his way through the twists and turns of the house before he stopped in one spot. The door to her room.
“Your house is pretty much the same shape as my cabin. At least here it is,” he commented. Korra nodded.
“We build it on top of the old foundation, so there are bound to be a lot of similarities,” she said as he turned the knob and went inside.
“This used to be my room. My brother’s and mine, at least,” he spoke in a lighter tone when he said this, but one that still carried all his seriousness. Korra remained silent, and at a respectful distance as the orange haired boy that she realized no one else knew was awake walked through her house, pointing out where everything used to be. He remembered it all so clearly that he probably could have drawn a map. Maybe he had one of those gifted minds capable of storing everything it heard like a computer, or maybe he had just soaked everything in over those first four years and everything was coming back out now. Either way, the tour concluded around sunset, and by then many of the others had seen him. Parents pulled children back, men looked at him warily, and he was seemingly oblivious to it all.
“So what about you, Korra?” he asked suddenly, or maybe not as suddenly as another child had quickly been yanked into a house and shut in tightly with a slammed door. “You scared of me, too?”
She was astonished at his question, and when he looked at her with those eyes that revealed nothing she found it even harder to answer him. “I don’t want to be, but you make it hard not to. You block out our attempts to see into your mind,”
“Because you wouldn’t if you could,” he replied sharply, but with a smirk. He was being playful.
“You carry weapons with you all the time,”
“They’re not weapons, they’re keepsakes that just so happen to be lethal if used correctly.” Scratch that, he was being ridiculous.
“You should have been dead, or a pile of goop on the floor at the very least, but you could walk around without flinching.” He didn’t have a clever retort for that, and she knew it when he didn’t answer. “And you’ve had worse. Anyone who can take a beating like that, make the ground shake the way you did when you first showed up, should be used to people being afraid of him.”
Again, Jin chuckled. “You know, you think I would be, but someone out there always seems to think they’re the best, and the people usually have more fear of that person than they do of me. This…Skewer, was it? He’s probably got some high rank in his little clan. Where are they hunkered down, anyways?”
“He’s the leader of the Nanashi, or at least that’s what they call themselves. They have this big legend about how they descended from the ancients and were gifted with the powers of combat. It’s all a bunch of bull if you ask me. No one race is set apart from another simply because of the ability to use weapons. It’s something you have to learn.” Korra said quietly.
“Nanashi, eh? Sounds a bit worthless, if you ask me,” Jin said with a shrug. He wouldn’t tell her, but he knew exactly what it meant. No name. Worthless. A name saved for those whose bloodlines held nothing but disgrace and failure due to zealotry or betrayal. His inner was raging at the idea of an entire clan of them gathering so close to one of Jin’s old homes. It was almost like an insult, a challenge even.
Korra slapped him lightly on the shoulder, “You’ll be on the pike if you say that. They’re all bloodthirsty demons that won’t hesitate to attack if you bruise their pride at all,” she warned. Jin returned the slap via another poke to her forehead with his middle and pointer fingers. She blinked, sighing a bit at the light crackle of electricity across her skin resulting from contact with the boy.
“That’s good. I won’t hold back if they do.”
When the same old man that had greeted Jin the first time around had asked for his presence again later that day, Jin had been surprised. However, what he didn’t expect was to be asked a favor of.
“You see,” Korra’s grandfather began, “When Korra was a little girl, and her parents were taken away from the clan home because of being a suspected threat to peace amongst the continents. They were part of the rebellion, after all. Korra was forced to grow up without them from the day we moved to this forest. We knew that no agents would be coming around, as to the untrained eye it looked like dead land. However, the trees outside of a specific area still grew food, and the plants that had died from whatever was there before were growing back rapidly. We made our way through life with smiles on our faces. However, when the Nanashi came that all changed. They started taking a portion of our supplies to stave off their need to conquer more land. A lot of us went hungry some nights.”
“Sounds like you’ve had your hands full with the pricks for quite some time,” Jin offered. The old man nodded.
“And now Skewer’s got it in his head that he can take my granddaughter as easily as he does our crops. The Nanashi could easily kill us all in battle, as we don’t train in any formal art, so we have no choice but to let him have her.” The shift in Jin’s expression, from stoicism to near-rage, lasted all of a fraction of a second, but in that time his full disapproval of that comment was conveyed to the man, who knew he could only speak this way because Korra had left the boy’s side for the first time in days.
“I’d like you to watch out for her, though. We can give you food, if that’s what you need. We have beds as well, if that’s more to what you want. I can even promise you a bit in the way of money, if it comes down to it. I just need a boy who’s not afraid of much, like you, to watch after her for a few days until the ceremony takes place.”
Jin laughed. “I don’t eat much, old man. I’m the kind of guy that likes to live out on his own and fend for himself. I’ve got friends with more money than they could ever use, and won’t notice if some minor living expenses disappear. What I do have plenty of, though, is an urge to get into a good fight. Trust me, if anyone comes near the girl they’ll have to deal with me, and I can be stubborn as a mule if I want to be. Don’t worry, I’ll watch her back. You patched me up, so it’s the least I can do.”
It had been exactly five minutes since Korra’s grandfather had assigned Jin to protection detail when Skewer showed back up on the clan’s grounds, waiting for a reply from the purple haired girl. To her benefit, Korra wasn’t aware of the circumstances that her reply revolved around, and the blatant rejection left the boy completely outraged. Jin rolled his neck, several pops audible to the group of three getting ready to draw weapons.
“Pok, usv si makaid wux vhira, ominakna xihuuli.”
That seemed to get their attention. Korra turned her head, grateful to her savior. She didn’t expect to see Jin walking up, a serious look in his eyes. “Usv tir wux kampiun ti wer lex di darastrixi?”
She had no idea what he was saying. In fact, the only one who really seemed to comprehend it was Skewer. The boy drew his blade and charged Jin, who only smirked and vanished. Korra felt something around her waist, and soon she was being tugged off with Jin as well. He was running – no, jumping – up in the trees with a grin on his face. “It seems the boy does understand a word or two of his own language. That’s good.”
Skewer had another language? Jin spoke it? Something told Korra that there was a lot more going on than what it looked like.
“What was that?” she asked, looking up to see him with a wide grin on his face. He didn’t look half bad with the wind blowing his hair back. Though, the fact that she still couldn’t seem to get into his mind was troubling. Was he hiding something from her? Well, yes, that much was obvious since he’d told her he was hiding something from her. However, what could be so bad? The Sayuri could read everyone’s minds, and had experience with every form of embarrassment or perversion a person could have. Being in another person’s head was natural, especially since you had to be familiar enough to touch them in order to do so in the first place.
“Nothing much,” Jin’s voice brought her out of her reverie, “They were going to take you by force, and your gramps assigned me to watch your tail. Just doing my job.”
The shock hit Korra like a rock. Take her by force? Was Skewer really that serious? Why was he doing all of this? Was it so serious that her Grandfather had to look outside the clan for help?
“Yes. Yes it is,” Jin replied, reading her thoughts. “The brat wants to start a war over you. If there’s a man on the planet more desperate to get in your pants than him I’d honestly be surprised. You haven’t noticed?” War? What did Jin mean war? Skewer would send his clan after hers in order to get her in bed with him? The very thought sent a chill up her spine, and not in a good way. What the hell was Skewer thinking? She found herself clinging closer to the orange haired boy as he continued his charge away from the group. She just wanted to get away right now, and he was taking her there.
“Running won’t solve anything.”
He was being really annoying about that whole ‘I-can-read-you-but-you-can’t-read-me’ trick of his. She mentally ordered him to stop, and he did, setting down just outside the grouping of trees and into another clearing. Korra let her feet hit the ground, regained her balance, and then turned a harsh glare towards her protector. “I’m not running.”
“No, you’re right. You’re sprinting away from your attackers as fast as you can,” Jin retorted, pinning her against a tree. He had no idea what it was about her situation, one he knew so little about, made his blood boil. How could she look so strong one minute and then just collapse the next? Was it an act? What was it about this attack that scared her so much?
“What do you expect me to do!?” Korra yelled back, struggling against his grip around her wrists and getting nowhere. “I can’t fight! Skewer’s the strongest in this forest! Gifted, Government, he’ll kill anyone if it means a good fight. He’s an arrogant, egotistical jerk and I’d never bond with him!”
Bond? Her grandfather had mentioned it, but never elaborated. That, or Jin hadn’t been paying much attention. He let go of her wrists, but she didn’t make a move to escape. “What do you mean by bond?” He asked. Korra laughed.
“When a girl from our clan kisses a guy…they form a mental bond. I’m not talking your standard mind reading, I mean their thoughts, feelings, memories, desires, regrets, everything gets shared all at once. I don’t want that from Skewer. That’s not what I want from anyone. Grandfather tries to find me boys to marry but he never gets it right. I don’t even think there’s a guy out there for me.”
Why was she telling him this? She barely knew him, and now she was gushing her biggest secrets onto him. What had he done for her? Been easy on the eyes? Run her through a forest because she wanted to get away from someone? She shut up before she said anything else, and he stayed surprisingly silent. Instead, he took the light-colored blade from around his waist and held it out for her to take. Korra looked at the sword skeptically. What was this?
“I’ll train you to fight,” he said in a low tone of voice. “But bear in mind, accepting my offer also means you’re going to have to promise me you’ll never call yourself weak. Admitting weakness is the first step towards defeat. I don’t care who calls you what, the only thing that matters is having faith in your abilities.” He stabbed his pointer finger into her sternum, right above her breasts. She took another look at the sword. In Jin’s hand it seemed to radiate power and control, but when she wrapped her fingers around the hilt and he let go, the weight of it increased dramatically and she got the feeling in her gut that things were about to get a lot more difficult.
Her wrist felt like it almost snapped in half under the strain of it all, but she had managed to turn it over in her hand, looking at the small cords attached to the hilt. Was that how it strapped to your waist? She guessed she’d need some sort of belt, like the one Jin was wearing, to hold it when it wasn’t in use. Jin smirked. “So, I guess we should get started.”
Feel free to tell me what you think!
Korra hadn’t slept in two days. She’d bathed, she’d eaten, she’d changed clothes, but she hadn’t slept. She was determined to outlast Jin no matter what it took. She would stay up so long as he was ready to teach her. However, the unexpected circumstance of Jin needing so little sleep had been a pain to deal with. The drills he had her run through seemed endless. She hadn’t even learned how to properly draw a sword yet with all the physical work Jin was having her do. Push-ups, sit-ups, tree climbing, running through the woods. He had called it teaching her how to use her body before he let her add extensions to it, she called it exhausting.
Sure, she was in shape. In shape for grappling. Grappling and Armed Combat were two completely different things, though. She’d need cardiovascular endurance, more finesse and flexibility, and the ability to keep her muscles relaxed. He’d said she was progressing well, but when he sent her up into the canopy to hop from branch to branch, her legs quickly gave out on her. That was when she saw something she hadn’t expected to. Jin’s wings.
They unfurled from his back so suddenly that it was almost like they had always been there. He was in the air in an instant, right beneath her position of about twenty feet up. Not only was he fast, he was strong. His wings acted like a parachute, slowing her fall. They still hit the ground with a thud, but he’d kept a hold on her through it.
“No denying it now, you’re too tired to keep doing this,” Jin said, a playful smirk adorning his lips. Korra glared, panting and perhaps a tad drowsy.
“Am not, you’re just some sort of sadist,” she quipped back, swinging her legs from his grip, using him to help her regain her footing. When his smirk grew again Korra realized that there was just no arguing with him on this. He knew she was about three seconds away from falling unconscious.
Like lightning, he’d swept her back up again, and she took a sharp breath as he lowered her down under a tree. “Take a nap, at least. You’re not ready for insomnia quite yet.” He touched his middle and pointer fingers to her forehead again. He did that a lot when he was teasing her. “I’ll wake you up in an hour or so, trust me.”
Sleep washed over Korra quickly, her eyes drooping as the dark circles beneath them became even more noticeable. She went limp, her breathing soft and slow. Jin removed his fingers from her forehead as he stood and then stalked off into the woods. He took careful note of the soldiers that were no doubt watching him. He’d never intended this training to be secret, but he’d thought they might have gotten a little privacy from time to time. “As you can see, I have no intention of harming the girl. Tell the old man she’s a stubborn one for me, will ya?” He voiced to no one in particular before vanishing.
An hour passed, and then two, and then at daybreak Jin walked back to the area that he’d left Korra. He had a limp in his step, an accidental injury, and a few cuts and scrapes. However, the instant he stopped moving he surrounded himself with a field of electricity, healing most of the wounds. He was tired. Hopping between dimensions usually made him a bit weary, but when he’d been gone for a full twelve hours, half a year really if you considered the difference in the rate time had flowed, he was exhausted. He quickly slumped down next to the girl, nodding off as his breathing leveled off and his senses drifted to the surrounding area.
Perhaps ten minutes later Korra woke up from her “nap” with blurry eyes and an odd sensation to her right. She glanced to the side, seeing Jin laying there asleep. So even he needed sleep, eh? Well, she wasn’t complaining. She needed a pillow. Gently, she placed her cheek against this shoulder, the topmost strands of her hair barely brushing against the side of his face. Almost instantly her mind was flooded with images. It was a desert of some sort, but without a sun and with terrible creatures lunging at her from every direction and clawing at her flesh. She wanted to scream.
The creatures, the desert, and the sunless sky all disappeared then. Instead she was back in the field, aware of Jin’s consciousness as well as her own slumber. “You know, you really shouldn’t play around in other people’s heads like this,” he said playfully. Korra looked up at the dream version of Jin. Was this a dream? A melding of minds? Certainly not a bonding, it was far too casual for that. But still, what was that she’d just seen? She knew Jin had let her sleep for way longer than just an hour, but from what she’d seen he’d been away for days. Still, she wasn’t one to surrender so quickly.
“Perhaps you should have avoided touching me then,” she shot back with a sleepy grin, resting her head on his shoulder again. Jin smirked and nodded.
“So, shall we call this one a draw?” He asked, poking her in the forehead in both the dream and in reality, successfully waking her.
“Sure, but don’t think that means I’ve given up yet.”
Jin laughed, sitting in silence for a while and leaving Korra wondering when he’d get back to their training. He’d been gone doing whatever it was he did. She was curious, of course, but that didn’t stop her from being horrified of those mental images that she’d seen for that brief moment. She didn’t want to ask, and that was that.
Eventually Jin stood up again, a broad grin adorning his features as he rolled his shoulders, his entire upper body popping in result. Korra twitched a bit at that. Did he really need to pull stuff like that all the time? She didn’t like that noise much. However, he seemed ready to train, and she couldn’t deny the fact that she felt well rested. All this exercise seemed to be giving her more energy, whereas grappling constantly just seemed to make her tenser.
“Alright, show me whatcha got,” Jin said with a smirk, hopping up to the trees, “and just try to keep up.” With that he took off, a leisurely pace for him but still he was confident it could give Korra a bit of a challenge. He was right, too. She was gaining on him, but he could tell that there was significant stress on her legs. That was alright, though. She was tough. She could handle it. Besides, right now all he had to do was focus on hopping from branch to branch, picking out the weak from the strong, getting his footing just right.
The chase continued for an hour, then two. Korra was exhausted, he could tell. However, he hadn’t even broken a sweat. He was so used to it, was all. He came to a stop, Korra taking quick notice of him and picking a branch just behind his to stop on. “Race is over. You’ve got the endurance, now we work on the hard part.”
Korra tilted her head in confusion, this wasn’t the hard part? What could be so complicated about weapons? The movements shouldn’t be much different from any other kata, should they? However, when Jin removed the white and blue blade from his side and handed it to her, she was suddenly acutely aware of the weight behind it.
“First time holding a weapon, huh? Don’t worry, you get used to the balance. For now, just try thinking of it as a really sharp fourth bone in your arm.” The quip made her chuckle a bit. He’d been in high spirits since waking up, so she hadn’t been expecting one of his darker training sessions. She’d been with him for a short amount of time, but she could already tell that his moods swung in an almost bipolar fashion. If it wasn’t for the fact that her clan lacked a psychologist, she’d probably have had him checked by now.
For now, though, she tied the cord to her waist, surprised at how well it stuck. She’d had a bit more slack to work with than Jin, as she was a little more slender than him, but she had to admit that the rope was still pretty comfortable. She looked down at the weapon, still feeling the slight tingling sensation from holding it. It was almost like it was drawing off her energy, her life force. But weapons weren’t alive, were they? She’d have to ask him later.
“When I was a kid I started out with an unsharpened metal rod attached to that same hilt. Since you’re using a real sword right from the get-go we should probably start slow. For now, just try drawing it. Don’t whip it out or anything, just get used to the motion. Be careful, though, it’s pretty fickle about the way you use it. It doesn’t like blood, so if you cut yourself first thing you’re likely to not get any further than that.”
A sword that doesn’t like blood? Could swords even have preferences? She rolled her eyes, passing it off as the machinations of this boy’s strange mind, but still taking care in withdrawing the blade, trying not to cut herself. She was surprised with how long of a motion was actually required to get the weapon out all the way, but was rewarded with the flash of steel against sunlight as the blade whipped out in front of her. Jin shook his head.
“You’re wasting energy by only using one arm on the draw. Try pulling back with your other hand on the scabbard.”
She looked down at the sword, then to the sheath at her waist, wondering how to put the two together accurately without slipping and cutting herself. Jin sighed, withdrawing his other sword and then slowly dragging the flat of the steel diagonally downwards against the hole of the sheath. When the point of the blade was centered with the hole, Jin upturned the sword as he slid it in. Korra mimicked the movement, nearly cutting herself as she had gripped a little too high up on the sheath. However, she managed to get the sword back in.
This time the draw was a little quicker, and a lot easier as she had pulled the scabbard back and slashed on a diagonal line as the blade was withdrawn. She took a second to admire the feeling of the air parting around the razor-sharp edge of the blade, her arm coming taut at her side to its full extension as Jin nodded. “See, easy. Now, let’s work on your swing.”
For the next two days Jin monitored Korra’s every move right down to the way she walked. Her eyes had to remain focused at all times, her breathing at a specific, monitored pattern, and her movements flowing. Any “wasted motion,” as he called it, was pointed out in a very blunt fashion. It wasn’t that Jin was trying to be insulting, but when he corrected her at every bend and twist she found her patience slowly wearing thin. She took to the one task that required no movement in a very short amount of time. Meditating.
Jin couldn’t tell her if she was focused or not with her eyes closed. Or at least, she thought he couldn’t. Although she was positive he’d stayed out of her head, it seemed that any time she let a stray thought out during her meditation he knew. He was probably the strictest teacher she’d ever had, and she honestly couldn’t take it anymore. Two days of drawing the sword and cutting in slow motion had left her entire body sore, and two nights of nothing but meditating had left her an emotional mess. She needed expression, she needed release.
“You need a fight,” Jin spoke suddenly. She opened her eyes and looked up at him. It was probably around midnight now, which meant she’d been meditating for around four hours now. “Don’t worry, one’s coming. Not against the boy with the weird name, mind you, but a fight none the less. Sit tight and wait for it to get here.”
So Korra did just that, and she was surprised that in a day’s time Jin was gone. It wasn’t that he’d left completely since she could still feel him in the general area, but he was further away than normal. Then, suddenly, two flashes of crimson and white blurred her vision. The block had been off of instinct alone, but it had successfully halted two blows. One from a claymore wielded by a girl with flowing ruby hair and another from what appeared to be a staff of compressed air from a boy with hair that was pure white.
“What are you doing with that sword?” The boy asked, his eyes narrowing. Was he angry about the sword? Did he know Jin? Who was he, anyways?
“It was a gift,” Korra replied curtly, only to receive a quick laugh from the red haired girl.
“The only person that my brother would give that sword to is a pupil, and a strong one at that. You probably stole it while he was asleep. I’d let go of it soon, it’s got a killer energy drain effect to it,” she said, increasing the tension from her claymore and pushing Korra back. To the sword’s credit, it hadn’t dented or nicked from the impact of either attack. It had to have been well made. But what was this about an energy drain?
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’ve been holding onto this thing for two days. Some guy named Jin got in a fight and ended up in really bad shape, and when we patched him up he agreed to train me. He’s around here somewhere if you want to go look for him.”
“So you can run while we’re gone? You’d be better off trying to get the government to cut the size of the GCSF. We weren’t born yesterday. Trey, go look for him. I’ll hold girly here off,” the girl retorted.
The one called Trey vanished, and Korra felt the relief of a substantial amount of force. He’d been stronger than the girl, and had powers to boot. “Now, what makes you think this Jin’s the type to take in disciples?” the girl asked, pushing harder against Korra. Korra slid back an inch or so, and sunk a little deeper into the ground.
“He said that he owed us one. He’s trying to help us. Though, I think there’s a bit of pride mixed in since he seems determined to make me the strongest one around here. He’s a real hard-ass when it comes to training, you know.” The statement caused the girl to laugh and jump away, landing just out of Korra’s lunging range. She was experienced.
“Yeah, that’s Jin alright. Though, I still have my doubts that he actually gave you his sword. He made me make this claymore when he first taught me how to fight, and Trey’s been using wind constructs for weapons since day one with him. He tends to not go out of arms reach of the things, really. He sleeps with them on, you know.”
“Boys and their toys,” Korra said with a laugh, rushing in and swiping at the girl to make the first move. She ducked under it and attempted to drive the claymore into Korra’s right shoulder while only holding onto the weapon with one hand, but luckily Korra managed to evade. “That’s some serious upper body strength. Gotta watch that,” she thought before throwing a kick across the girl’s knee, buckling the joint. With a burst of orange energy, the leg seemed to repair itself at an accelerated rate and the red haired girl was on the move again.
“Never did quite catch your name,” Korra muttered as she bobbed and weaved left and right to avoid blows.
“It’s Kailyn, Kailyn Hikari. I’m Jin’s little sister.”
“You’re WHA…” The cut across Korra’s thigh caused her to lose track of the statement, as she was too busy jumping back and grasping her leg in pain. That slash had torn off a good chunk of skin, and what wasn’t torn was bruised. Those swings packed a serious punch.
“Oh, don’t tell me he hasn’t taught you to heal, or at least defend against attacks that actually hit you yet. That’s such a basic technique. I mean, you don’t even have to like fighting. I thought it was for idiots until Jin taught me a thing or two, and now I have a lot of fun with it. Well, no helping it if you’re new to the whole thing. Here, let me see your leg.”
It took all of a half minute to completely restore Korra’s leg to the way it had been before the cut. She was amazed at Kailyn’s ability, and somewhat thankful that her opponent hadn’t been the boy now. “Well, looks like I got the right opponent. I doubt the one with white hair could have patched me up.”
“Who, Trey?” Kailyn asked with a chuckle. “He’d have left you lying on the ground in seconds. He doesn’t look it, but he can give Jin a run for his money if he doesn’t go all beastly on him. I’m sure you’ve seen it by now. Slit pupils, navy blue lightning instead of the cyan stuff, gruff voice because he thinks it makes him sound cooler, the usual.”
Korra laughed at the mental image. “Actually, no. Things have been kind of lax around here, and he hasn’t really fought me yet. He said someone who would was coming, and I guess he meant you by it, but I still haven’t really seen him in a fight with anyone close to his skill level.”
Kailyn laughed again, this time leaving Korra legitimately confused. “Oh, sorry, the thought occurred to me that you might think there’s anyone out there can beat my brother one on one without cheating. I’m telling you right now, he’s probably one of the most powerful fighters on the planet, and short of encountering him when he’s weak, which you can pretty much do at the end of every other month because he’s a masochist, you’re not going to beat him. Ever.”
Korra let the idea sink in for a bit. No one was stronger than Jin? That couldn’t be right. It seemed way too convenient, and a tad melodramatic to find the legitimately strongest man on the face of the planet.
“Well, I suppose if you count the Suborne, Leviathan-Oniisan, Jake Daniels, and the full-fledged Demons and Archangels you could pick out a few who could hold their own, but they’re hopping dimensions so much that they hardly count as residents.”
Korra’s expression shifted to that of confusion. Who the hell were the Suborne? They sounded like a cult, almost. As for Leviathan…wasn’t he Jin’s brother? And where had she heard the name Jake Daniels before? Wasn’t he some famous billionaire with genetically engineered gifts? He was supposed to be considered one of the biggest threats to the GCSF in existence, and Jin could still beat him? The Archangels and Demons made it even more confusing.
“Isn’t that a little too much? There has to be someone else.”
“Nope.” Kailyn shrugged. “You have to admit though, the idea of there actually being a “best fighter” out there isn’t all that surprising. It was bound to happen eventually. You get used to the idea.”
Korra supposed it was logical. After all, there were only so many people in the world, and among those people only so many were fighters, and among those fighters only some had Gifts or to prowess and training to counter them, and so on and so forth until the list came down to just a handful of people. Jin being in that handful wouldn’t surprise her, and if he wanted to say he was the best then who was she to stop him. “I suppose,” she said with a sigh.
“Only suppose? You wound me,” a very sarcastic Jin said as he emerged from the foliage with Trey in tow. “Perhaps I’ve been a little too lenient in your training up until now. Kailyn, what’s your take on her?”
Kailyn’s first response was to lunge at the boy, quickly tackling him with a hug. He just laughed as he stepped back with the momentum of the blow, not bothering to fall over. “Well before all that technical crap, you can at least greet your little sister properly,” she replied as she let him go.
“Good to see you too,” Jin chuckled. “But seriously, I’m dealing with a second-class sword adept in a political situation that means I won’t be able to take him down directly, meaning my only option is to take a tactile telepath with experience exclusive to close-quarters combat and make her proficient enough to take him down before he starts a war, so I’d like a skills analysis.”
Korra’s brow raised at all the foreign jargon being swung around. Sword adept? That probably meant Skewer. That meant the tactile telepath was her. He was using her to stop Skewer? Didn’t that mean she’d have to fight him? Skewer was terrifying, though! He’d kill her in seconds!
Kailyn seemed to be amused by the situation. “You’re starting to sound like Jake. Stop it, or I’ll beat you back to an IQ of 90. Anyways, I don’t understand why you haven’t taught her to self-heal yet. She has a mana pool large enough to do it, doesn’t she?”
“Yeah, but she hasn’t tapped into it just yet. I’ve been trying to push her towards opening it by keeping her stressed out, and I thought the emotional release of a good fight would break down any barrier she had blocking it, but then someone decided to stop the fight after all of thirty seconds.”
“What the hell’s a mana pool?” Korra cut in. Jin and Kailyn turned to face her, each with a confused look on their face. It was odd, they actually had a bit of a family resemblance that way.
“Jin…why isn’t she training still?” Kailyn asked, as if the notion of Korra not being constantly under the stress of practice was a foreign concept.
“I’m…not sure. Perhaps she still believes that she has free will under my tutelage. I may have been far too lenient with this one,” Jin replied. The aura in air altered, as if Korra’s ancestors were warning her that if she didn’t go back to training she would likely die. Quickly, she returned to her form work, moving fluidly through the techniques that Jin had taught her. He was breaking the training up into several steps. The first was accuracy and precision, which had been why she was meditating and moving so slowly for so long. Now she’d moved onto flexibility, reaction training, and her ability to piece techniques together. She supposed the last stage would be power, and had no doubt that it would be the most physically demanding of all the stages. For now, she was content to move in quick, relaxed fashions.
The two Hikari siblings continued to talk about training techniques. Jin seemed to be relying more on Kailyn’s experience than Trey’s. Perhaps it was because Kailyn would be better suited to training a woman than Jin. She would be more aware of the challenges Korra would be facing in her technique.
Jin approached her after a few minutes. “Alright, you can stop. We’ve come to the conclusion that you’ll learn better through watching right now, so Kailyn’s going to help you keep track of the movements while the kid and I go at it for a bit. Sound like fun?” he asked. Korra nodded, wondering just why she’d need help just watching a fight. Maybe there would be some nuances to certain moves she’d miss without Korra’s experience.
“Kid, you and me, sparring match. Hold back a bit, there’s gonna be a spectator this time around and I want her to pick up as much as possible. Focus on point blocking and repelling attacks more than avoiding them.”
“Alright Jin-sensei, I’m here to learn, after all.”
With that, the two boys let loose a mix of wind and electricity, and they all but vanished from sight. Was this why Korra needed help observing? How could she watch what was moving too fast to register?
“Stop using your eyes, you’ve gotta sense where they are. You may have not unlocked your mana pool yet, but that shouldn’t stop you from feeling energy signatures. You can feel Jin at least, can’t you? You know he’s here still? It’s all a matter of locking onto the feeling you get when he’s around, and figuring out where it’s coming from,” Kailyn said. Korra looked over, and noticed that her own eyes weren’t even focused in on a specific location. It was more like she was taking in the landscape as a whole.
Lock on to the feelings she got when Jin was around? There were so many, though. Anger when he was being too strict, happiness when he was teaching her something new, sadness when he returned from his overnight training trips with more than a couple wounds. But what about when he wasn’t doing anything? When he was just there? That small pulse of electricity in the air. The scent of ozone. The overflowing feeling in the pit of her stomach. Where was that coming from?
Well, if she had to stifle a guess, she’d say in was moving quickly across the field. Ah, there he was. She felt her vision go out of focus as her mind formed the picture that it needed to, paining Jin and Trey moving quickly back and forth, Jin slashing at Trey, who would block the blade with his bare forearm, a small layer of wind keeping the edge from cutting his skin. Jin didn’t seem to be afraid of taking a hit or two, though, seeing as the electricity danced across his skin from his core and over the wound, the skin fusing back together on even the molecular level.
Was that how energy worked? Drawing it from your center and making it take shape on the outside? Well, that’s how Jin seemed to be doing it, even though his body seemed to be primarily composed of the energy as well. Was he doing it differently just to show her? This was a lesson after all. However, lesson or not, it seemed that they were giving her two options. She could either learn to heal quickly or just block the incoming attack with her energy. She personally liked the idea of not getting cut by bladed weapons. That would give her something to rub in Skewer’s face if they ever fought. Scratch that, when they fought.
After Jin and Trey finished up the orange haired boy left the three others alone with another again. He’d mentioned something about politics before going off, so Korra assumed that he was just going off to talk to her grandfather about the training he’d been giving her. The old man, as Jin called him, had been pretty adamant about Korra only use the family fighting style, to which Jin had responded in the same language he’d used when talking to Skewer for the first time. The man had surprisingly understood it, replying in the same tongue and everything. After that, he seemed to be rather accepting of the whole idea. Jin apparently had a lot of charisma when he needed to.
Alright, so now that tall, orange and brooding is gone we can get down to the important part of your training. Defense and strategy. Jin’s what the Gifted Community likes to call a sweeper. He blows through opponents with a lot of quick, powerful attacks. While that’s nice, some of us don’t have the insane power he does and need to rely on finesse a bit more to fight our opponents. He’s probably only taught you about offensive techniques and left defense to your natural reactions, right?” Kailyn asked, a knowing look on her face.
Korra nodded in response. “He taught me the vitals to aim for, and how to hit them with different strikes, but also taught me the different types of attack you can use. His style seemed pretty unconventional when he explained it.”
“Jin’s style is always unconventional. He literally only holds onto his swords about half the time in a fight, and on top of that he has basically no blocking skills aside from evasion. Now don’t get me wrong, not allowing your enemy to even land a hit is a lot more satisfying than being on the defensive, but I’m just waiting for the day that he meets someone faster than him and he has to learn to block,” Kailyn said with a laugh, “so without further adieu, I’ll turn you over to Trey for defensive practice. You aren’t really a self-healer, after all.”
Korra nodded, glancing at the white haired boy. He’d remained fairly silent throughout the entire reunion, so his personality was pretty much a mystery. Maybe she could latch on and figure a thing or two out. Before she would have found that idea offensive, but now she was willing to do it if it meant learning how to kick Skewer’s punk behind.
Jin’s head was racing at a mile a minute. Skewer had been there when he’d gone to see the old man, and the boy had instantly begun shouting draconic obscenities at him. His language was some sort of a mix between old and new dialects, making it hard to understand, but there was one thing he had caught in that conversation seeing as the term never changed. Iejir Bilnerk; Blood Duel.
It was an ancient practice, one that hadn’t been performed in centuries. But then, this was a tribe that had been separated from formal customs long ago. It was a death match. One on one. Currently, the two parties were being lead to the clearing in the center of the Nanashi complex of the forest to participate in the event. The Blood Duel hadn’t been outlawed in draconic culture, it had merely fallen out of practice as time went on and as such was something he could not refuse to participate in if he valued his honor. As far as weaknesses went, his pride was only beaten out for first place by his masochism.
“I’m surprise you accepted,” Skewer stated smugly as they walked side by side towards the clearing. Skewer was taller than Jin, if only by an inch or so. Jin realized that in most situations this would give the younger male the advantage. However, experience told Jin that Skewer had also never learned fought someone above his skill level once in his life. He could use that arrogance to his advantage in this situation.
“Really now, do you really think I’d cop out on a Blood Duel? My Inner would tear me apart from the inside out before he let me get away with that.” Skewer’s face was blank at the comment, as if he hadn’t been expecting it.
‘Not only does this boy attempt to steal the woman who belongs rightfully to me, but now he mocks my culture by speaking to me in horribly mangled Draconic and claiming he has an inner? Better yet, one he has yet to kill? The influence alone has driven stronger men mad!’ Skewer’s eyes narrowed. Jin was really beginning to piss him off. “Yes…we’ll see how much having this ‘inner’ you speak of will help you in our battle.”
“Won’t need him.” Skewer’s face burned red with rage as he whipped around and glared at Jin. How dare this boy mock him! There would be no holding back in this fight, not now that Jin had summoned the wrath of the greatest fighter of the Nanashi. His pride would not allow it.
Skewer and Jin too their places in the chosen field of combat, which was the grassy plains just before the forest of the Sayuri complex on Jin’s request, seeing as he was privy to Skewer’s win-at-any-cost attitude and knew that he would no doubt try to sabotage the match. It wasn’t that he really cared if that happened or not, but he’d rather not have to deal with more than one opponent. “If you haven’t noticed, I’m busy training a girl to kick your ass. Can we get this over with sometime today?” Jin asked as he rolled his neck. His actions were betraying his words. He was really looking forward to this.
Skewer drew his sword and charged Jin with full intention to draw blood. Jin noticed this, and sidestepped the slash with practiced ease. He led into a combination of bobs, weaves, and jumps as he managed to avoid so much as a scratch, and all with his hands still jammed into his pockets. “You see, this is why I don’t fight lightweights. It’s not that you lack speed; it’s that you’re telegraphing. I can tell exactly where you’re going for just by watching your muscles.”
Things continued like this for almost fifteen minutes. Jin hadn’t even bothered to counter any attack given by the boy, and yet he was still winning. Skewer’s attack rate was slowing down, and Jin was still going strong.
With his rage steadily boiling over, Skewer took to wondering just what would happen if he could land a hit. He was sure that if he did then this boy would fall, just like the rest. His sword’s composition gave it some pretty nasty side-effects. He wasn’t sure exactly what they were, but he knew that it always made the fight a lot easier. All he really needed was one good cut, but he couldn’t land it. Just how good was this boy?
“Good enough that I can still outmaneuver you while reading your mind.” The wry smirk on Jin’s face was more insulting than anything Skewer had ever seen. His opponent was toying with him! Having not thrown a single attack since the start on top of keeping his hands jammed in his pockets in such a cocky fashion made Skewer all the angrier.
“Take me seriously!” he shouted, jumping back and throwing the blade with deadly accuracy in a last move of desperation. Jin smirked, his hand instantly flying to the handle of Kuroi Getsu and cutting Skewer’s blade in two with one clean stroke, the two halves flying off behind him. He proceeded to move in at blinding speeds, one hand crackling with dangerous amounts of electricity and pressed less than an inch from Skewer’s face.
“I don’t need to.” Jin’s simple reply as well as the lethal attack in close range broke any confidence in winning Skewer had left. “Your style is full of telegraphs, you only use one type of attack, and you’re slow. If you thought you could express some sort of dominance here, then I’m afraid you’re mistaken, and don’t pull that ‘kill me’ crap, either. I’m not a murderer, and I’m not about to become one for your sake.”
Skewer hit his knees, punching the ground as he seethed in anger. “I won’t forgive you for this…this…humiliation! I’ll make your life a living hell!”
“Oh, take a number,” Jin replied, shoving his hands in his pockets and walking off.
“I’ll make her mine if it’s the last thing I do!”
That stopped Jin in his tracks. The orange haired swordsman turned on his heal, a look of both pity and disgust in his eyes. “Maybe if you learn that people aren’t objects you’ll have a chance, until then I’m sure she’s perfectly fine without you. Otherwise she wouldn’t ask me to be training her to kick your ass.”
“More lies! Korra would never do that! I’ve known her since we were children, and she isn’t capable of harming a fly, let alone trying to ask a freak like you for training!”
“You’re right, she’s not capable of harming a fly,” Jin said solemnly, “but this world is full of people that are, and if you’re delusional enough to think that you alone can protect her from every last one of them then you’re even more egotistic than she’s told me.”
“Korra would never say anything bad about me!”
“Maybe not the old you. Him she likes. This…this pitiful little shit in front of me that throws a fit when he doesn’t get his way isn’t the kid she knew during childhood.” Jin chose to finish taking his leave after that, ignoring anything else Skewer screamed like he did thoughts in a crowd. The brat had already given him enough of a headache, and Korra was probably either waiting while sitting on the back of an unconscious Trey or in a bit of a bind and needed some more in-depth instruction.
As Jin vanished, Skewer stood again, a look of pure malice coating his features. This Jin character was going to pay severely for crossing him. No matter how good he was, he couldn’t take on an army. “Ready the troops. We invade the Sayuri compound at midnight.”
When Jin returned to the training grounds he had picked out for Korra only to find said girl unconscious and lying under a tree with Kailyn healing several wounds that appeared to have been caused by Trey’s wind-blades it was needless to say that he had mixed emotions. “She get any better at blocking?” he asked, hoping that his training was at least paying off.
“Couldn’t even get her to focus on her mana pool, which you neglected to tell us she had by the way.” Kailyn definitely wasn’t happy.
“Thought it was obvious by the sheer strength of the connection to the lei lines.” Jin countered with a smirk. Kailyn huffed, redoubling her focus on healing the girl.
“You taught her well up until now. I was surprised by how good she was once we got her going,” Trey commented from his perch in a tree, gathering a few apples for that night’s dinner. “She almost got me once or twice. Her glare is eerily similar to yours.”
Jin nodded, a chuckle escaping his lips. “She may have been raised by nobles, but she’s a regular mongrel just like the rest of us.”
“Heard that,” Korra muttered, her eyes fluttering open as she sat up. “You’re a real jerk, you know? I don’t know why I accepted your training offer. Your little psycho over here doesn’t pull any punches.”
“I am not a psycho!” Trey shouted in one of his Torrettes-like outbursts, further proving Korra’s point.
“Listen, all that aside, I think it would be best if you spent the night back at your house tonight. Too much training can wear you out, and you’re getting to that point where you need a little relaxation before you can get better again,” Jin said, crossing his arms in that ‘do what I tell you and like it’ position.
“You’re just going to stay out all night training again without me, aren’t you?” Korra asked. Jin nodded, but then drew Kuroi Getsu and held it up to her eye level. She looked into the blade, seeing the dark circles under her eyes and frowning. She wasn’t even that tired, at least she didn’t think she was. Lately it seemed that Jin cared more about her being comfortable than really getting down to training.
“So? You run yourself into the ground every day and you don’t see me complaining,” Korra shot back.
“I’m different.” Jin sheathed his sword, looking her directly in the eye.
“How? You can’t heal tired with electricity, and as long as I want to keep going you can’t stop me.”
Jin shook his head, hoisting the girl up over his shoulder as she struggled to escape. “Challenge accepted,” he replied as he began to head back towards the Sayuri compound.
Trey and Kailyn both looked at each other, each trying to contain giggles. Eventually they both stopped trying and burst out laughing. “I guess the camaraderie is one of the reasons he keeps us around. You can tell he loves it,” Kailyn said as she calmed down. Trey nodded, tossing her one of the apples. Kailyn ripped a chunk out with her teeth, chewing it with vigor. The food from back home was always the best.
“I think my big brother has a bit of a crush, though. He’s obviously trying to coddle her, which is more than I can say he did for either of us.”
Trey nodded vigorously. “Oh yeah he does. I mean, he’s letting her use Hikaru Rai to train with. He’s either trying to increase the size of her already massive mana pool, or he’s interested.”
Kailyn smirked. Trey was always more relaxed when it was just her around. With Jin he was strictly the apprentice, and with Korra he’d kept the guise up to try and seem cool. His psychotic snaps left him very much like Leviathan, but even then it was only until the fight ended and maybe a few seconds afterwards. He was getting better at staying in control.
“So what’s the plan?” he asked.
“We lay low for now, see how things develop naturally. Then, if he really does end up needing a match-maker, we step in and knock some sense into him. Sound good?” Trey’s nod set them back to lounging around the campsite. After all, the fire was ready to be lit, the tents were set up, and dinner was optional as it was the middle of summer, a time when Jin ate the least because he didn’t need to waste energy on maintaining his body heat, just like anyone else.
“Jin, nice to see that you do intend to bring my granddaughter back every now and again.” The elder of the Sayuri clan said when Jin walked into his quarters. Once they’d gotten about a half mile away from the camp Korra had agreed to walk on her own, saving the embarrassment of being dragged back home.
“Well, it was a bit of a struggle, but she’s in need of a little relaxation. Make sure she gets some sleep, and maybe something normal people do to unwind. Maybe a warm bath or something,” he said, turning on his heel and giving a two-fingered salute as he started to leave.
“Not quite yet, Jin. I have a few things to ask you,” The Elder stated calmly. Jin sighed as he turned around and retook his position next to Korra.
“What sort of training are you putting her through? My granddaughter is delicate, and I have to make sure that she’s being treated well or else there may be issues when she decides to marry.” Jin’s laughter caught the man off guard. Korra’s blush of embarrassment at her trainer’s actions was a deep crimson, and she looked very tempted to smack him upside the head.
“Korra may be delicate, but she’s also one of the most stubborn girls I’ve ever met. I started her on sword basics so that she could get the advantage of surprise on Skewer if it comes down to fighting, but before that it was a bunch of physical training. Not the kind that would give her any creepy muscle build, but enough to skyrocket her endurance, speed, agility, and overall power. Don’t worry; she’s still just as attractive as you left her, maybe a bit more.”
The man nodded. “And I trust that her lack of injuries mean you’re not using real blades on her? I can’t have her scarring. If she is to marry then the man she chooses may be very…picky…about her appearance.”
“Grandfather!” Korra shouted, hating being treated like an object.
“Relax, I’ve got a healer on board. Besides, in the right place a scar can look pretty damn cool. I mean, look at me.” Korra had to admit she found Jin’s scar fairly attractive now that she’d been around it for a while. Perhaps it had grown on her.
“Yes, well I’m sure you’re doing your best. However, I’d like to shift the topic from her to you. You see, I really don’t know much about you. Forgive me, but I’m not entirely certain that you’re the safest person for my Korra to be around. Where exactly did you grow up?”
“Right here in The Forests of Leviterra, born and raised until the tender age of five,” Jin replied with a smirk. The Elder’s eyebrows raised in surprised.
“And what exactly happened when you were five?”
“Now that’s the tricky part. You see, I don’t want to talk about it,” Jin replied rather abruptly. The Elder’s eyebrows made the long journey from the middle of his face to the furrowed position of a worried expression. People who respected you and didn’t have a dangerous secret weren’t usually the ones that chose not to tell you things when they were asked to.
“I have to warn you,” The Elder began, “any secret that you hold that could bring harm to my granddaughter will need to be revealed. I’m much more powerful in the art of mindreading than Korra, so don’t expect your tricks to work on me.”
“And how exactly will I know unless I try?” Jin asked, his voice gaining a gruff that Korra had never heard before. How different was Jin? The orange haired boy seemed fairly determined, holding his fairly large hand out for her grandfather to touch.
Upon doing so, the old man’s expression almost instantly contorted to one of fear, his narrowed brows letting just a small increment as his eyes widened, and the line of his mouth parting slightly. “What the hell are you?” his shaky voice managed to get out.
“Sia cirau ui vucat lae wer Hikari,” Jin replied. The old man’s eyes widened at this. What had Jin told him? She’d caught his last name there at the end of it, but aside from that she hadn’t understood any of it.
“You’re a monster...a demon,” The Elder spoke in a low, almost fearful tone. His face was pale, his eyes unblinking. It was as if he were seeing an oncoming army in place of Jin.
“Grandfather! Apologize!” Korra shouted. Jin was a monster? Just what was going on? He was anything but. She’d been with him for weeks out there, and he was anything but a demon. Sure he seemed sadistic at times, but he never let her get hurt too badly.
Jin only smirked, shaking his head. “So that’s where I remember your clan name from. Gotta remind him to give me another crash course in the lineage. Well kid, looks like I’m not allowed to train you anymore. I can’t say I didn’t see this coming, but I suppose we’ll always have the forests, huh?”
“What are you talking about? Why would you need to stop? I don’t want you to…”
“Sorry, but the old man doesn’t seem like he’ll approve. I’d rather not have to fight off your entire family just so you can stay out in the woods getting even better than that Skewer kid than you already are.”
“So her training is complete and there is no reason for her to stay with you anymore? If so, then I suggest you return her immediately. She will be fine under our care from now on, and you may take your leave as you debt has been repaid.”
Jin chuckled. “I said she was better. I never said anything about experienced. As far as I know she’s fought a total of three people in her entire life with her new skill set, all of them holding back on her. There’s a big difference between fighting someone who’s not taking you seriously and fighting someone who will rip you apart without a second thought.”
He paused for a second, the silence so thick in the air that Korra almost felt it choking her. “Be that as it may, I can’t stop you from taking her back if you want her. When she loses, you’ll see what I mean. The boy’s too infatuated with her to aim for the face or anywhere that will leave permanent damage.”
“If any harm is brought to my granddaughter because of your insistence on her learning how to fight with you ridiculous instruments of killing then I’ll have your head!” The Elder shouted.
Jin was upon the elder before Korra could even blink. His swords were drawn with the flat edges held to the man’s neck. “The sword is not a tool for killing. It is an art that will be given the respect it deserves. These blades have saved more lives than your pathetic excuse for a clan totals. You will not mock them.”
The Elder gave a wide grin. Korra had never seen that look on her grandfather’s face. “And yet you can’t even stop one man from killing millions. You’re not just a demon, you’re also a failure. Go on, kill me and prove me right.”
Just then a group of guards that must have heard the commotion burst through the door. The Elder took instant advantage of the situation. “He’s attacking me! Take him to the cells and ensure he doesn’t escape! Confiscate these useless sticks he performs his so-called art with so that he can’t escape!”
Korra stood there for a moment, trying to absorb the information. Her grandfather had stopped her training just when she was getting good with a sword. Jin was supposed to teach her to tap into her mana pool or whatever, but now he was being locked in the clan prison. Why wasn’t he offering any resistance? Didn’t he have a plan? She couldn’t get any kind of training with her family. Not now that she was so used to Jin’s style. Why had her grandfather called Jin a demon? I mean, he looked a bit like one when he got that ‘I totally have a plan’ look in his eyes…just like he did now despite his frown. Korra decided not to worry after all. Jin could get out. For now, she’d shake her grandfather down for information.
“What was that all about, Grandfather?” Korra asked, trying to contain her confusion and anger.
“That…that boy is not safe, Korra. I don’t want you to go near him ever again. I can’t believe I let you go with him in the first place. I mean, to let you train with a Hikari is almost as bad as just handing you over to the Nanashi. You’re lucky he was cocky and brought you back, otherwise he could have killed you.”
Korra shook her head, not wanting to believe it. Jin, who had taught her everything she knew about the world outside this complex, was a killer? “He doesn’t kill, Grandfather. He told me himself.”
“That boy’s life is surrounded by more deaths that he can explain away. Staying with him is an easy ticket to an early grave. He has more secrets than you know.”
“Then tell me!” Korra practically screamed. She absolutely refused to believe that Jin was capable of killing anyone, or even having a hand in the death of another. He’d projected himself as having a great respect for life, be it human or gifted. What secrets could he possibly be hiding from her?
The Elder remained silent for seconds that ticked by like hours to the purple haired girl. He looked to be thinking. “Do you remember the old legend that we used to tell you when you were a small girl? The one about the two boys with more power than the world was ready for?”
“They ended up destroying each other and everyone close to them. What does that have to do with...” Korra paused for a second, suddenly recalling Kailyn’s words.
“I’m telling you right now, he’s probably one of the most powerful fighters on the planet, and short of encountering him when he’s weak, which you can pretty much do at the end of every other month because he’s a masochist, you’re not going to beat him. Ever.”
“You’re worried that Jin will end up being one of the boys in that legend. But if that’s so, then why call him a demon? He’s just another Gifted, isn’t he?”
The Elder sighed. “Korra, there’s a lot more to the world of Gifted than you’re ready to comprehend. But since you seem adamant, and this world has shown up on our doorstep, I think I’m going to have to tell you.”
“You see, this world may be limited into the categories of Gifted and Human, but there are other worlds out there, beyond our own reach, that hold species of people that don’t fit into either. There are times when residents of these worlds migrate into others and take on attributes of these places. It is rumored that we ourselves as well as the Nanashi and a clan that I thought had long since vanished from this world come from such a place. Two of these clans went on to obtain nothing special outside the abilities of their own people, but one gained the power of the Gifted Age.”
“But Grandfather, isn’t our telepathy considered a Gift? And what about the Nanashi’s proficiency with weapons? There’s simply no way that the legend can be true. We must be of the same species as the people here in order to reproduce correctly with them, after all.”
“Korra, our entire family shares one gift. In no other case besides the Nanashi has this happened. Also, there was a sort of hierarchy among the group that first landed here. Those higher up in class had more natural abilities, if my knowledge is correct. The Nanashi’s proficiency with blades is only the beginning. You have picked up sword skills at an incredible pace under Jin, have you not?”
“Yes, but I’m still nowhere near as good as…”
“No. Not even close.”
“You see, the one name that appears again and again throughout the original script of this legend is the same as that boy’s last name. The two boys who grow to such unbelievable power will be from the Hikari Clan, and are said to be among the remaining few members after it begins to destroy itself. I’m only worried about you Korra. This Jin boy is almost the talk of the world at this point. The Government is after him with a passion because of his connections to his brother, who is said to have been the executioner of millions of innocent people. His world isn’t a safe one, and I don’t want you in it.”
Korra’s head was spinning. Jin was some big threat of a prophecy by her clan? Both of them had come from another world? Why did he always raise so many questions? She had to get answers, she just had to.
“When can I see him?” she asked in a quiet voice.
“When can I!?” she asked again, asserting herself. If anyone could answer the questions Jin raised, it was Jin.
“Tomorrow morning at the very earliest. We need to make sure he won’t try to get out.”
“Thank you,” Korra said with a nod as she got up and left. She would wait out by the prison tonight after everybody was asleep. The guards usually hit the sack around midnight, and something told her that Jin wouldn’t wait long after that to try and get out.
Alright...there's a couple of things I don't like. First one to find them wins cookies.