"So, in doing so Aocles, Commander of the Fleet of the Mighty, destroyed the Gr'Ivicus. In doing so he destroyed those closest to him. After that, Earth was defenseless. The Th'Arirax then swooped in and enslaved us. Well, at least kept us here and make us do work. I..." The classroom door swung open. Four Th'Arirax Confiscators entered. They scanned the room.
"Shawn Orion," they said. Everyone looked at him. A young man of seventeen years, he was tall and thin. His muscles were very well developed but not noticeable. He had shaggy brown-red hair. His eyes were a deep penetrating blue. Shawn sighed and straightened up in his seat. He knew he was in for it. Everyone in the class, including the teacher, was wondering what took four Th'Arirax Confiscators.
"Shawn Orion, you are hereby under arrest for participation in the rebel group Cell 332. Under law you are exiled from your community." Everyone gasped. They knew rebels existed. They always did. But for a young man with such a promising future to jeopardize it like this; unthinkable. "You shall be flown out to the Great Desert of the landmass Auck." That last word was almost like -alk at the end of walk. It was also a closing of the throat. "Please follow us."
"Oh come on, only four of ya guys. That's an insult. I figured you would play on safe side and go with double your current number. You Confiscators think you are all that. I could take each and everyone of you down," he said with a smile.
"We really aren't that stupid. There are twenty more of us in the halls. A Captain is a rare find and once found we make sure they won't escape us. Now please, let's do this the easy way."
Shawn, resigned to his fate got up and followed them out. He walked in the middle of the Confiscators. In the classroom silence ruled for mere seconds. Rumors and chattering soon started breaking out. One class mate was silent though. She had a thoughtful look on her face.
The transport landed in the middle of the desert. At least a months walk from anywhere. Shawn was escorted three hundred feet away. Beside him was placed two bags, two jugs of water, a small bag of rations, and a small tent to sleep in. He turned his eyes skyward as the huge transport lifted its bulk off the Earth. Yes, Earth. Not Limp-193 like everyone believed it was. The transport disappeared from the sky, leaving him here to fend for himself. He was never likely to see any living soul again.
He turned around to gather his gear to find someone already at them. He was picking through it looking for food.
"Hey! Get out of there!" The man looked up. Startled would be the word for him. As if he had thought Shawn only a figment of his imagination, a mirage.
"No. That is mine. Get out of it!" The man rose to a full five feet seven inches.
"Fight for it." The attack came fast. A right high kick. Shawn saw it coming and ducked. He twisted his own foot out and swept the man off his feet. The man was quick though. He jumped up and started throwing kicks and punches. Shawn blocked left and right. Seeing an opening he jerked a block into his own punch. It connected. The man crumpled. The blow had been to his left temple.
Someone started clapping. Shawn swirled around, still ready for battle. Behind a large boulder three people stepped out. Two men and one female. The female seemed in command. She was also the one clapping.
"I've been using him as an introducer to the group. We are the refugees of the Great Desert here on the landmass Auck. I am here to invite you into this group." It was an honest invitation. He could read that from her body language. The two men however had other ideas. They looked hungry.
"A few things before I accept or decline. Your two bodyguards," they looked offended when he said that. "They can have what food I have in the bags. I keep everything else." She nodded. The two men jumped at the opportunity of food they didn't have to share with a lot of people.
"Why are you doing this?"
"Oh, I expect to get more food soon. And I can survive weeks on just water. Its part of my training."
"You got training? What kind."
"Thats baby stuff. I got military training. Th'Arirax military training," one of the guys said.
"You wish. I was and am apart of Cell 332."All three of them froze.
Cell 332 was the most famous rebel cell. It was the most extensive, most effective, and the hardest to infiltrate. It was rumored that an old Tol'marinea headed the cell. The reputation of that cell spread across the world. It even got to the Th'Arirax. Cell 332 was famous for killing the most Th'Arirax in violent rebellions. They were said to be the most extensively trained. Anything they wanted they got. It was said Cell 332 would bring around the resurrection of the old ways.
"You're a kid. Stop lying. Out here that will get you killed." Shawn grinned. In the cell he was a classified Captain. He had received training that would allow him to command whole ships. Under him his crew worked hard. He was the youngest, but he was also considered the hardest. He didn't like mistakes, he didn't tolerate stupid people, and he enforced common sense. Being a classified Captain was only better. He was also trained to kill. It was helpful. It was rumored he was up for a promotion to Admiral. He would have been one of ten.
"I am not kidding. I had an entire crew, loyal and obedient to me. How else do you think I took down your man back there? He wasn't good."
"Ya, you looked like you were just warming up," the woman interjected. She grinned at him. "So what do you say kid? Want to join?"
"Only if I can get a job that allows me to come and go as I please. It will allow me free will. And I can look for the other thirty or so Cell 332 exiles. They will need someone to update them." She nodded again.
"Of course. Someone with your training shouldn't find it hard to get a job that allows you to do that. I do have to tell you the rules though. One, I am the ultimate authority. No going against my commands. I started this and I will see it through to the end. Do not try and take my command away. My guards will kill you if you try. Two, no fighting except in the arena. Three, we share all food. There that should do it. You are free to come and go if you wish. Just don't go too far. Our Returners don't travel far to retrieve people." Shawn grinned.
He picked up his bags, jugs, and tent. He then followed the three refugees into the desert.
Outside the crowd was cheering. The Arena was a place to show off fighting skills learned from their previous lives. It was also used as a way to work your way up in society. Here all that mattered was that you knew how to live. Fighting was used as a show of strength and ability. The best fighters were the honored guards of the Queen. The Queen was the woman he had met upon arrival in the desert. The guards were given whatever they needed for themselves and anyone they took under their wind. It was for this position most family men trained for.
Another cheer went up. The previous fight had just ended. The winner would be a guard. The loser most likely wouldn't make it through the night if they weren't already dead. It was a brutal game.
Shawn started walking down the corridor the attendant had pointed to. The Arena was inside a huge cavern under the desert. This allowed protection away from prying eyes and it gives the inability to escape.
The rocks above his head started to ascend rapidly. As he walked out into the clearing the crowd gave a cheer. It would be his first fight, his fight for placement and right. The crowd was restrained behind a man-made barrier. Several men in grey were stationed around the barrier to keep anyone from crossing. The floor was covered with small rocks and against the one bare wall the clearing touched against was a small pool of water. Around the floor were smaller pools. These weren't of water though. Many were pools of blood. Others were pools of piss and shit from dead bodies. The bodies themselves weren't in evidence.
The crowd became an overwhelming noise as a man emerged from another opening other the one he had used. He must be a favorite. It also meant they were throwing one of their best at him. Shawn smiled. They had to make it easy.
The two opponents came forward to the center and faced each other. Together they bowed and moved into form mirroring one another. His opponents's eyes showed fear for a second. He thought this young boy was nothing but a fool that didn't know the complicated form of Aoclesian. Not many could master it after all. The former Tol leader, Aocles Knapp, had invented it as a way to stay fit in his heightened state of body. He himself could only get through the most basic forms.
Shawn smiled. If this man knew Aoclesian it would be a fun battle. If he was a true master he might even lose. That was doubtful though. He himself had mastered the entire form. In Cell 332 he held back to give the impression he could not go farther than the third set of forms.
The man shot out a punch. Shawn dodged and threw his weight into a kick at the man's midsection. The kick connected and Shawn pulled out of reach. Together they danced an intricate dance. Arms and legs flying through the graceful fighting forms of Aoclesian. They wore on each other and Shawn started advancing into the second set of forms. This seemed to get the man.
Shit, he has mastered more of it. I can still end this quick though. He shot another punch and then immediately moved into a different fighting form. Shawn bounced back and moved into the Th'Arirax fighting form. This was a form that was a counter to most Earth-based forms. Fuck, fuck, fuck. He switched to another form, one not countered by the Th'Arirax form.
Shawn smoothly flowed into another form. One of the Gr'Ivicus forms. It was impossible to master as it required more that two arms. But the first two sets focused on just two arms attacks and blocks. There were no leg attacks as all legs were needed to support the Ivicus. What the fuck!
The man finally fell on the ground exhausted. Shawn himself was almost bent double trying to catch his breath. It had been a long and hard fight. Something about it seemed familiar though. Walking in a small circle to catch his breath, Shawn puzzled over the fight.
"What the fuck was that last form. I didn't recognize it. It wasn't Earth, Tol, or Arirax based, I know that."
It hit him. One of the Cell members.
"What if I told you, 'Son of Atlanta, lover of Nichsa, killer of the Tol, and leader of the Cell.'?"
"I would reply, 'Aocles, destroyer of the Ivicus, killer of the beloved, lover of death.'"
"'He who died yet lived. He who took with him the power of the Tol. He who now watches us, his children.'"
"And how do you know this," the man asks.
"I am Captain Shawn Orion Knapp, captain of the Orion, next in line for Admiralty. And which form master would you be? Josh Kooner or James Newler?" The man grinned. Their captain had arrived.
"Sorry, Cap'n, I am actually Form Lord-master Neleck Knapp. Your third cousin or something like that. Another direct descendant of Aocles himself. Now if ya don't mind this ground is getting a little uncomfortable." Shawn nodded and helped Neleck up.
Together they walked over to where the Queen waited. She was surrounded by four of her guards and was reclined in a plushy chair.
"Well, well, well. What is this?"
"Oh the Cap'n here has decided to recruit me onto his crew. I am First Mate Neleck Knapp. Of course your majesty you can always be cabin girl." He smirked when her face turned bright red.
"Guards! I want these two executed now!"
The guards hesitated. After what they just witnessed they were wary of fighting form masters. Even in the regular world and in this nowhere place form masters were famous. "Either kill them or I will kill you." That pushed them past their wariness. They had family to support after all.
"Oh come on, bitch. You can't be serious. I could take them out myself. I doubt even one of them know what forms we were using."
"Actually, that first form was Aoclesian," one of the rear guards replied.
"Okay, I take that back. I doubt anyone of your guards can even master the first set of Aoclesian." The guards stopped. The Queen stood up.
"I told you not to undermine my control! Men! Kill these too traitors!" Shawn grinned. Neleck looked a little uneasy.
"Alright but you are the first casualty." He pulled out a small gun and shot the Queen. His mission was over. It was that easy. Everyone backed away from Shawn now. None of them had a gun. They were confiscated before they were dropped off.
"He's an Arirax spy!" some idiot yelled. People turned and ran for their life. Neleck himself tried to slip away. Shawn grabbed his collar.
"We have to get the other Cell members away. The Arirax will be here in three hours. The Orion is twenty minutes away. We must get everyone of the Cell onto it.
Three hours later twenty people stared around themselves. They were sitting in a nice officers lounge. This wasn't a place they had expected to find themselves. Auck was suppose to be a permanent exile. All twenty stood at attention when Shawn entered.
"Captain on deck!" a young ensign hollered. Shawn bent down and whispered to the kid. He turned a bright red. "Admiral on deck!" he corrected.
"At ease ladies and gentlemen. Sorry, I mean at ease men." The rescued Cell members shifted to parade rest.
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