Into the Fire: Rise of the Red Star By WaffleGoddess Chapter Five: Hope and Despair

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The gold light in the chamber bathed Kai in a radiance, something gold like an angel, but to Kai, it was the complete opposite. Something that could be described as looking like a sandstorm, or even a blizzard almost obscured him completely. The prince was in instant agony, thrashing and beating at the air. Poo could tell that the particles (what had Kun called them? Gi-machines?) were doing something to him, hurting him. The sight was so grisly that Poo imagined himself inside that chamber, the air itself burning him and him screaming, trying to fight what was too small to see, inhaling those fragments and feeling them burn from the inside as well. The prince's screams were reduced to muffled, choked wails, and now Poo could see something growing on him, his arms, his body, spreading like a rash but looking like raw, golden steel. The fragment swarm burned through his clothes and attacked his flesh, blood dripping from his wounds, as his body was plated in horrific gold armor that he was frantically trying to rip off of him but which was attached far too solidly.

At some point the prince stopped making sounds, and soon after that he stopped moving completely. Poo, caught up in the terror, almost screamed himself like he had in Mu and had to bite his tongue to choke it back. He realized, though, that at some point he was in the open and he was completely visible. The prince was looking in his direction, and something like recognition seemed to flash across his face. Poo wasn't sure if it was just his imagination, but he was fairly sure that Kai whimpered a soft plea and reached out for him, reached out for help which was clearly and obviously beyond the realm of possibility for him now. Poo could have sworn he overheard that same faint whimper before he slipped back into the darkness.

Please.

The prince's body began to spasm and jerk, as his body was slowly pushed down by the Gi-Machines, shoved onto the ground, laid out. The metal began to cover Kai’s head, and any trace of thought, feeling or life that he had once possessed was completely obliterated. A black glass began to cover over Kai’s face, and Kai shook his head, tears pouring out of his eyes before they were covered in glass forever. A final, desperate plea, Kai reached out to Poo, before his body was pinned down by more of the machines, finishing off the armor on his body.

Kun pressed some buttons and the green light that was emitted from the lens inside the chamber was switched off. Almost instantly, the cloud of Gi-machines dissipated and fell like sand to the bottom of the machine, through the holes in the metal grating. The machine made a powering-down groan.

Two large pieces of metal came underneath Kai, and pulled him up. Where Kai once was, there was now a golden robot hung quietly from the metal, which was held up by a small crane that lead to who-knew-where. No emotion was in its visor, the robot hanging there as calm as a potted plant. An odd device poked through the door, flashing over Kai’s chest, as an odd insignia appeared on his chest. A black triangle, with three rectangles underneath in an ‘L-shape,’ standing out in black metal were embroidered on his chest. The door clicked and slid open with a soft buzzing sound, but even then, the robot did not budge.

"Starman Super, come," Kun commanded. The robot walked out of the machine and approached him, its feet clunking on the ground in a somewhat awkward, unwieldy fashion. Tatters of cloth fell from around its feet in tiny streams.

"Status report," said Kun.

"All systems at full capacity," the robot clicked. It sounded like a deeper voice of Kai speaking into a metal pipe.

"Good, good," Kun replied. He walked around the robot, inspecting it as a carpenter inspects a table he has built. "Movement is a little erratic, but that can be tweaked. Otherwise, everything appears fine. Starman Super, dismissed.”

The robot stood silent for a moment, and softly clicked, as if it were nodding. It turned back into the chamber, and hung itself back on the machine, before being silently shipped off to where it would go.

Kun showed no more emotion about what he had done than Poo might feel about tying his hair.

Kun turned and left the room casually, scratching the back of his neck. Poo looked at the chamber that used to have Kai inside, and threw up.

-----------------------

Poo stormed out of the chamber, rage building up in his mind, teeth gritted as he glared to where Kun might have gone. The monster killed his brother! He looked around, fists raised to fight, ready to punch out at wherever Kun might had fled to. Instinct led him around each corner, through each hall, past each cleaning robot.

Kun walked along casually, looking behind him calmly. He knew he was being followed—something had obviously joined him on this ride. He fingered his moustache with a grim smile. It was probably that Poo. He calmly kept walking, despite the fact that Poo was hot on his heels. He could eliminate two birds with one stone, if he just started walking in circles back to the chamber…

There he was! Poo saw a person dart around a corner. In a robot filled airship like this, no other human except for he and Kun would be in this ship. He ran after the fleeting being, and followed him down the metal hall, his jogging footsteps clanging. He didn’t care if Kun knew someone was there—all he wanted to do was to find Kun and destroy him.

Bingo. There was Poo, right on schedule. Kun walked slightly faster. Just a couple more turns, and Poo would be right back where he started.

Didn’t this hallway look familiar? Poo couldn’t tell, and personally didn’t care. Kun was running away, and Poo had to stop him.

In a matter of moments, the royal family would be eliminated, leaving a distraught nation to fall to ruins. Just the way his real master, Giygas, would have liked it.

It was in that instant Poo realized that Kun could not be human to do such a heartless act and not even care about it. Kun was part of something much bigger—only a tiny piece in the puzzle.

Ah, just ahead. There it was. There was where Poo would meet his demise.

Right there. There he was. Today, Kun would meet his demise.

-----------------------

Ah, Poo,” Kun said, clasping his hands together. “How long has it been? Come, sit down, make yourself comfortable.”

I’d rather stand,” Poo growled, making a defensive posture.

What’s wrong, Poo? There is nothing here…”

I saw you! I saw you kill Kai!”

Kai? Oh yes, he was so stupid to walk into that machine…you should be careful not to follow suit. I wouldn’t want you, the next in line, to die a horrid death like him…”

You turned on the machine, you killed him! You let those…things kill him!”

Kun shrugged. “The prince said that he wanted the machine to be tested before tomorrow. And since he was so willing, I couldn’t refuse his request.”

You…” Poo began, fists trembling. He suddenly charged forth, swinging a fist. “BASTARD!”



Kun nimbly dodged, and pulling out of the sheath to his right, the Sword of Kings. It was a marvellous sword, decorated with intricate red and black markings all over the blade, an eye-like gem embedded in the center of it. The hilt was silver, twisted around like some sort of cloth wringing out. Kun held the sword between his fingers, and his steady hands helped him wield the sword with ease.

"Stand and fight me then Poo. You question my actions—you are made an example of. Fight me then, Poo, so that maybe you can prove that my actions are wrong. Raise up your arms and fight me."

It was like rage was pouring out of his mouth. Adrenaline was pumping through his veins. Kill Poo and then back to work. It was about time that he saw some action.

Poo stared back for a moment and subconsciously accepted the offer. He had to kill him. Kicking back, he raised his fists high and bent his back enough to be lower than his opponent. This was no adolescent feat of strength, this was a battle to the death.

Kun chuckled to himself and grinned broadly at Poo's show of eagerness. "Fool," he taunted, "I have killed much bigger and stronger foes than you." Without another warning Kun charged, bucking the other man into the glass cylinder, releasing all breath from Poo’s lungs.

Then, taking the time given, he delivered two quick, successive slashes across his heaving chest, spreading a long trail of blood. With a surprise, Kun received a returning headbutt from Poo, sending him sprawling backwards, with his enemy's blood smeared across his own face.
“I won’t die so easily. We both know how you raise in your ranks. You can only kill so many people by betraying them. A coward’s kill—that’s your kind of kill isn’t it? Well I’m not going to let you get behind me, then.”


Poo charged at Kun’s lower body, knocking him down to the ground on his back and jumping atop his stomach.

Standing over Kun, Poo growled and gave a strike across the face to his opponent lying on the ground under him. There was a satisfying feeling in his stomach, seeing blood on Kun’s face.

Suddenly, Poo was toppled over, shoved aside by a large tentacle that sprouted from Kun’s back. Kun’s entire body shuddered, long tentacles sprouting from all over his body, two dark green horns sprouting from his head, eyes peering from them. A blank, toothed grin came from the insane features on Kun’s face, and the empty look in his eyes told Poo that Kun was not sane anymore. It grasped the Sword of Kings with the same skill its human counterpart had, but it twitched uncontrollably, shaking slightly. It began mouthing incomprehensible phrases, not even a whisper coming from its mouth.

Kun stared into Poo’s face, shuddering. It staggered forward on several tentacles, like some sort of spider, before suddenly leaping forward and stabbing at Poo. Poo screamed, grasping his gut, Kun tugging out the blade. Kun quickly knocked Poo away from him and scrambled up to stand at his full height.

Poo was slower to get up off the ground, his gut now leaking a rippling pool of red and black blood upon the ground; but he rose nevertheless. The two stared at each other with such bloodlust that Poo could not think past the next attack. It was as if he'd never felt any other feeling in his life, save this reckless anger and hate.

Kun returned the stare with equal feelings. He was willing to dodge the next move. Maybe it was a mistake to kill Kai. Or maybe it wasn't.

Poo decided that would be his move. Tapping into his mind, he summoned forth a power to himself that he was taught, a simple, clean first-aid.

Psi Lifeup…beta.”



The wound in his gut healed mostly, a small scratch still dribbling blood. He still felt the excruciating he felt moments ago, still disabling him like the pain did moments ago. He swiped at Kun with his fist, but Kun quickly calculated Poo’s fist, and dodged inches away. Again and again Poo attacked, but Kun danced just out of his reach each time. It was like the nutty Kun was playing with the toy Poo was—preparing for any second to make the next move. Poo was fast becoming exhausted, panting for breath, stepping back. Poo and Kun stared at each other, light flowing into the chambers, waiting for one to move.

Poo looked up, and found his one opportunity.

Despite the pain, he kicked off the steel floor with one foot, he flew to Kun, hands thrust forward. Kun, too slow to react, was plowed back into the glass cylinder, smashed into the back of the glass. The force didn’t even scratch the glass, however, but Kun was dazed.

Looks like your end is here,” Poo hissed, grabbing the sword from Kun’s tentacled hands. Kun looked up at him, a mad smile still on his face. Poo could not tell just what this mad being was thinking, but Poo obviously knew that it was something he would never understand.



Instead of stabbing Kun, Poo stepped out of the machine, running up to the control chamber. He pushed one button, the button he’d guess turn it on, and the machine’s doors shut, Kun’s wails heard even with the doors closed.

Poo quickly turned random dials and pushed random buttons, listening as familiar sounds eventually filled the air—the sounds of the death of his brother. Poo did not bother to watch the gruesome scene seen before him, but it wasn’t pretty. He could easily tell. The machine wasn’t meant for non-humans.

When the machine shut down, slowing to a stop, Poo strolled out of the room, as Kun was hung on the rack. Kun’s face was mangled, torn, and bloody, but one could still see a smile on his face

-----------------------

The tall mountain jutted out of the edge of Dalaam, standing over even the massive palace. A long, tattered rope dangled from the edge of the mountain, used so many times that after a few more loads, the rope would finally snap. Yet it was amazing how long the rope had lasted, how long it had survived through weather, turmoil, and time.

The peak of the mountain was cold, scraping at the skies, bits of ice gathered over the dirt. No plant life could survive at the top of the mountain, and only the bare ground remained at the top. But it was from this mountain could one see the whole of Dalaam and beyond. And it was here that a person sat on top. Poo was his name.

The celebrations continued on, even without the prince arriving. Nobody, except for Poo, knew of what had happened in the airship, which Poo directed the pilot to return to Dalaam. Poo now stood on the mountain, the Sword of Kings in his hand, as he looked to the starry skies for guidance.

He closed his eyes, and sat down, meditating. And before him, a spirit formed.

Poo.”

I am here.”

You have grown quite quickly since your last arrival. Perhaps you’ll succeed this time.”



Poo overheard another voice—the voice of a girl.

Sir Poo! You are late! The Master has been looking for you and your brother! Get down as soon as possible!”



They didn’t understand. Poo glanced down at Dalaam, the land he loved. He had to get through this, he just had to…

Sir Poo? Sir Poo…”



The girl’s cries faded away, as everything else faded away…into nothingness. Mu.

There he was, standing upon nothing. He knew of the trial that lied before him, but this wasn’t much compared to the pain his brother had just gone through.

The spirit whispered yet again. “Poo…to begin the art of Mu, you must become nothing...you must learn to sacrifice everything except your own mind…”

I will succeed this time. I must.”

You…you are ready?”

Of course.”

Then we begin…first…I’ll take your arms. I’ll tear them off! I’ll tear the bones out of their sockets, rip them off the skin that holds them! Then, I’ll drop them into the ocean, where the starving minnows and the gluttonous sharks can swallow them up, caring no need for where they came from! You’ll never be able to reach out for the things you hold dear, and you will be left vulnerable and unable to defend your country! Do you wish for that, Poo? Do you want to be armless?” the spirit ranted, repeating the familiar speech Poo had heard for the umpteenth time.

Poo nodded.

Then so be it…”



The shadow appeared, the shadow with golden eyes, leaping upon Poo, tearing off his arms. Oddly, there was no pain, as he sacrificed his pain into the nothingness. He would succeed…if he didn’t…

The spirit appeared yet again, looking down at Poo, showing no remorse. “Poo…next…I’ll take your legs! I’ll strip them from your body, tear them apart, and rip them into tiny shreds! Then, they will be brought to a heartless butcher and served for a poor beggar’s next meal! You’ll never move on your own again, and you will merely watch as life goes by while you grow old and useless! Is that what you want, Poo? Do you want to become legless?”

Poo nodded.

Another shadow. Poo didn’t even notice his legs had gone missing, staring at the spirit.

Poo…now…I’ll take your eyes! I’ll tear them from their bleeding sockets, and throw them to the streets! The people will trod on them unknowingly, and cruel, starving crows will flock down and swallow them up! You’ll never be able to see again, and you’ll never get to witness life’s greatest joys! Is that what you wish for, Poo? Do you want to be blind?”



Poo nodded.

The next shadow stole his eyes. But Poo did not lose sight of the spirit, even if it was in his mind.

Poo…you are a stronger man than before. Perhaps you really can succeed…but until then…I’ll take your ears! I’ll split them from your head, and dangle them over the edge of Dalaam for a raven to steal! They’ll be swallowed by mere birds! You’ll be blind, deaf and motionless! You’ll only be able to know that you’re alive, even if you are just sitting there, unknowing of anything! Do you ask me to remove your ears, Poo? Do you want to be deaf?”



Poo nodded.

His ears were tugged off by what he assumed to be a shadow—but the shadow’s movements were slower, and it seemed to leave quickly. Was the shadow afraid?

The spirit appeared yet again, cackling. “Poo…now, to remove your head! I’ll cleave if off your neck, tear it from its stump, and leave it behind in a city’s poor slums…I’ll leave it there for the dogs to gobble it up! You’ll be dead, Poo! You’ll be totally destroyed, and you’ll never be able to rise to your country’s aide! But…your pain will finally be gone! You will never grow old, or sick! Poo, do you wish for me to take your head? Do you wish for me to kill you?”

Poo nodded.

Finally, Poo stood before the spirit, in his own spiritual form. He stared into the spirit’s eyes, glancing at it confidently, with courage obtained from the depths of his heart.

You have sacrificed so much to obtain the Powers of Mu…but, there is still one final thing you must sacrifice…will you let me steal your mind, Poo? Will you let me steal the last bit of sanity you have? Will you let me steal what makes you alive, and what makes you seen before me now? Will you sacrifice your mind, Poo? Do you wish for me to take your mind? Are you willing to die…and accept that Evil can win?”



Poo faltered. He nearly blurted out he would never sacrifice his mind, but he stopped suddenly at the sight of his brother in the glass chamber, dying. He watched as his eyes were covered by the light of life, and his brother encased in a metal shell, left to be screaming, but his screams never heard. And, it was there Poo knew one thing.

Evil could win. But he would never let it.

I accept.”

What?” the spirit hissed. “But…but…so many things depend on your mind! Your honor…your honor will be shattered! Nobody shall ever respect you! You’ll merely be tossed aside when they find your dead body, thrown into nothing!”

I will not be shattered. Honor is emotion, as is love, courage, friendship, hatred, jealously, greed, lust, and so on. You can steal my mind, but you cannot steal my emotion. And my emotion is what keeps me alive. So many things in this world have lost their life because they lost themselves to evil. I want to fight evil for the sake of those people. Evil could win, but I will never let it.”

So, Poo, you wish to lose your mind? Despite the fact that you could die, and never even be known?”

Of course.”

Then so be it.”

Poo looked at the spirit as his mind was torn from his body. As soon as the shadow removed Poo’s mind, Poo was suddenly thrust into reality, on top of the mountain as he had just been when he left.

You have finally succeeded,” the spirit’s words rang through his mind. “Your destiny awaits outside of here…if you wish to combat evil, there are three people who await your arrival, yet they do not know of it. They are known as Ness, Jeff and Paula, in possession of the legendary Sound Stone. Now comes time for you to take part in this quest. You must leave here and equip the crafts of the Kings and hurry—teleport to Summers. You only have a few hours left before their departure…”



Poo crouched on the roof, looking down at the crowds. So much had happened to him in those past hours. And that was how he had come to be here. He crawled off the roof, with the grace of a cat, slipping down into the crowds of people, barely visible.

He slipped along the cheery city, the baking sun shining down on him. The massive ocean looked so beautiful, and so comforting out of this hot day…

He suddenly noticed a neatly suited person walking out of a hotel, a bit flustered. Poo, suddenly interested in this oddly dressed person, silently followed, creeping after this person. He watched this stranger with much interest, as they began to converse with someone out of sight. Poo slipped aside, eavesdropping.

Can we sleep there for tonight? I’m so tired it isn’t funny!” a girl’s voice sounded.

We’ll have to work for it. We don’t have any money!” a male’s voice grunted.

Dear Ness, we have money in your bank account. Surely, we can—”

My mom will FREAK!”

C’mon, Ness, it’s only—”



Five-hundred dollars! Oh yes, nobody will notice that!”

At the mention of a ‘Ness,’ Poo was suddenly interested in this group. He wanted to jump out at them, but he knew that yelling “HI! I’M POO! NICE TO MEET YOU! HEY, LET ME TEAM UP WITH YOU!” wasn’t exactly the best idea. He slunk back into the shadows, creeping away. He’d have to wait for a little while longer before he could meet them.

The trio seemed to talk a little while longer before they walked out of the alleyway, Poo quickly pinning himself against the wall. Curse his clothes! They made him seem to stand out more than ever before…

They walked to a mailbox by a large building, standing by it. The man with jet black hair brushed his bangs out of his eyes before he slipped a small white envelope into the box, and then he and his companions disappeared around a corner.

As soon as Poo judged that it was safe, he came out into the open again. He walked by the street, back towards the mailbox. It was a dark blue metal box, with small openings on either side for letter depositors. Poo knew enough about life down here to know that every day, a person would check the mail. If there was, the human would depart and deliver the letter. This box was labeled ‘OUT OF TOWN.’ Poo stared down at the box for a long time, looked both ways, and then tried to break it. It was metal. So he grabbed his sword and swiped off the top, metal splintering and splitting off the top of the box. Somebody came rushing out of the mall nearby and began shouting abuse at him, but he ignored it.

Inside, there were two letters. The one on top was addressed:

Eagleland
Onett


Grabbing the letter and ripping it open in one fluid motion, Poo took it upon himself to read the person’s private correspondence.

Dear Lier, Tracy, Mom, and anyone else who cares,

Ness, here. No doubt you're wondering where I have been these several past months.
I honestly don’t know how many, I haven’t been counting. Who would?
Anyway, I'm sorry to have worried you by leaving without any word or warning.
I had wanted to send you a letter or a phone call sooner, but I’ve been traveling so much,
I’ve never had the time to send out a letter. Why? Well, it’s a long story,
and you’re probably not going to believe it. But, I’ll tell you anyway.


The letter told of quests, of Sanctuaries, of magical stones and of a menace behind it all. A fairy tale that made little sense to Poo.

The guy near the mall was still shouting abuse. Poo needed to find somewhere quiet and safe where he could find this Ness, and so, after crumpling the letter and throwing it aside, he ran away.

It was right then and right there that Ness saw Poo for the first time, but of course not the last.

A person, standing by a shattered mailbox, dressed in neat, regal clothing. He had been watching a man at the mall shouting at him, before he ran off. Oddly, this person seemed vaguely familiar, yet he hadn’t seen them once.

Ness?”



Shaken from his awed state, he suddenly realized that he was visible to the person, and vice versa.

Eh? I’m coming…” he grunted. The stranger wasn't looking in his direction, so he ducked away before he was spotted. The person wandered back into the darkness of an alley.



Ness. It was a funny name for a person. Then again, he wasn’t an average looking person now that he thought about it.

Poo watched as the queerly colored figure wandered through Summers with a distinct aura of impatience. This was the person that he had heard about, and strangely, he was only a kid. What was he, fifteen? The teenager flaunted some bizarre kind of youth fashion statement, what with his electric blue clothing. Poo noticed that this Ness also had a pouch of nondescript contents slung around his shoulder.

The person he was looking for was some kind of kid probably devoid of any amount of life experience in the real world. But there was no doubt about it, somewhere the kid had learned how to use PSI. At least, that was what the ancients told him.

Poo got a good look at Ness from a distance. He watched the kid for a very long time. Was he really a threat to evil? If he managed to use the Sound Stone and figured out how to harnessits power, Poo supposed that it was quite possible that he could really vanquish the enemy. And this Ness had gone to great lengths to do just that. This Ness had just a ghost of a chance to wipe out the enemy, but it was a chance.

He closed his eyes and smiled, leaning against the wall he was near. He realized it wasn't going to be easy, joining Ness. It might take a little bit of force, or none at all. It was probably going to take a bit of stalking to do, but he would have to join him. It was

(destiny)

It was

(destiny)

some sort of feeling he had in his gut. Destiny, perhaps?

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