Chapter 1: Modern World
Alexander Gregorvich was a young man who first came to Kenshiro Hidori as a child of one of the trainers at Kenshiro's school of ancient tactics and weapons. Kenshiro had had great success with this new business, and had established many schools across the globe. After meeting briefly for the first time, Alexander and his family headed off to Italy, where Marco Gregorvich became a trainer who specialized in Roman tactics and weapons, while Alexander's mother; Emma Gregorvic, found a job as a history teacher at a high school barely a mile away from their work and home. Alexander's parents had come from two different countries: his father from Russia, while his mother came from England. They had met in college under an exchange program in his mother's country, and had married a year later. A loving couple, they had raised a fine son, despite moving around a lot thanks to his father's job in archaeology, before meeting Kenshiro when Alexander was eight years old. For the first time in his life, Alexander spent more than a year in one place. While it was the happiest time of his life, it would be followed by an event that would mark him forever.
While heading home one day from an opera, his parents were killed by a drunk driver, bringing his world tumbling down. In a surprise move, when the state came for Alexander to put him in foster care for a lack of living relatives able to take him, it was Kenshiro Hidori who stepped forward to be his legal guardian. Bringing the distraught orphan into his home, he showered him with love and affection as he would any of his other children, but even he knew Alexander would never be the same. Growing up in Kenshiro's home and at his school in China, Alexander never drank because of what happened to his parents. Alcohol would forever be thought of him as something to be avoided, as was any drug that was not prescribed or needed to battle an illness. Loving history and his adopted family, Alexander went to school to study archaeology and languages like his father, returning for Christmas to see his family.
While there, a stranger approached him as he stood alone, training with a shield and gladius in the way of the ancient Romans, "Hello, Alexander."
Not recognizing the man Alexander asked, "Do I know you?"
Shaking his head, the Asian man said, "No, but I know you, and Kenshiro knows me as well. Speak with him tonight and mention that Sato stopped by."
With that Sato left him standing alone, and Alexander did indeed remember to ask Kenshiro about him. Kenshiro's face became a mask at the mention of Sato's name, and he asked Alexander to describe the man exactly.
When Alexander was finished, Kenshiro said, "I must admit: I know the man you speak of."
Alone in the backyard with his adopted father, Alexander asked, "What does he want with me?"
"That we will have to wait for tomorrow. I'll join you on the training grounds where he talked to you. There we will discover the cause of his return. Beyond that I will say no more." Kenshiro said, and no matter how Alexander pushed, he couldn't get Kenshiro to say more.
Father and son were quite different, despite being of different ethnic backgrounds. While Kenshiro was a Japanese-American, standing at 5'10 with a solid warrior build, Alexander was a smaller man who, despite being in great shape, was less physically intimidating. His hair was brown and his eyes the same, his hair cut short. Kenshiro's hair was long, and his eyes slightly slanted and brown. Both men were clean shaven, and both skilled fighters, but Kenshiro was definitely the more skilled of the two. Alexander's main strength was his ability to problem solve and adapt. He didn't so much as overpower his opponents, but out finesse them, and outthink them. Sharing Kenshiro's love of metallurgy, Alexander also had a second interest in combat engineering. Studying the great combat engineers of the past, Alexander helped Kenshiro perform mock battles, to set authentic tones for important guests who were looking to invest, or bring in students from prominent schools. Everyone, including Kenshiro, was impressed with his work and attention to detail. Alexander was of the belief that if you set up the right battlefield, any enemy could be defeated, no matter the odds. Little did he know that his viewpoint was about to be put to the test.
The following morning he and Kenshiro walked onto the practice field, to find Sato already waiting for him.
"It has been a long time, old friend." Kenshiro said with a wistful smile, as he shook the other man's hand.
"Yes, it has. I figured you would come with him. Do you want to tell Alexander why I am here or shall I?" Sato said, turning to Alexander with a friendly smile.
"Better you than me. I am here for moral support." Kenshiro answered.
"What are you two talking about? What am I supposed to know?" Alexander asked, looking from one to the other.
"I am here to offer you the same opportunity I offered Kenshiro years before you were born. If you accept, it will be the greatest journey of your life, and the most challenging." Sato said, pausing for effect, "In all of your studies of ancient history, have you ever dreamed of being an ancient general in truth, not just some mock battle?"
Licking his lips, Alexander glance at Kenshiro, who gave nothing away, and said, "Yes."
"What if you could? What if you could live entire lives in the past, and fight on ancient battlefields across the world, surviving by your wits, skill and determination?" Sato said.
"I would say: what's the catch?" Alexander replied, part of him daring to believe this man wasn't crazy.
Laughing, Sato answered, "Kenshiro asked me the same question at the beginning. The answer is that you will face the same dangers as any mortal man back then: you can lose body parts and die. If you die, your body will be brought back here, the victim of a mysterious death. If you lose a body part, it will be returned to you in the next life, or when the game is over."
"Game?" Alexander asked.
"Of a sort. The point is to test would be heroes in a timeline made especially for them. Facing real historical heroes, you affect history from your very presence. By your actions and words shall you be remembered. Rise or fall, the choice is yours, but there is an advantage: from each life, you shall remember every skill and bit of muscle memory you possessed from your earlier lives. Everything you learn is yours to command, without losing it when everything starts over. Each life you will look as you do now, only your memories and skills will mark you as different. The longer you survive, the greater you shall grow, but it will not be an easy task. If you suffer a mortal wound, you will die, and if you are injured, you will have to deal with it for the rest of that life. At the end, everything you have learned will be yours to keep." Sato explained.
Realizing something, Alexander turned to Kenshiro and said, "That it isn't? This gave you the knowledge to open all those schools."
Nodding, Kenshiro answered, "Yes, but it was not the reason I did it. My grandfather had just died, and like you I had been orphaned when I was young. I saw the chance of glory slipping away, as I knew that in modern times I would never be truly tested. What Sato is offering you changed my life."
"Then you think I should go?" Alexander asked, his heart hammering with excitement.
"This choice is put before you. The choice is yours and yours alone. Sato was not joking about the risk. Even I was scarred by my journey many times. It will test you, bringing out the best and worst in you. Only you can determine how you will handle it." Kenshiro said.
Looking at Sato, Alexander said, "Take me. I want to go."
"Then we will head out immediately. You should know that though I am your guide, I cannot interfere beyond providing key bits of information, so long as it doesn't affect the timeline too much. When this is over, I will come for you and bring you back here. To the outside world it will seem as if you have never left. Only the three of us will know what happened." Sato warned.
"I understand." Alexander said.
Looking him over, Sato said, "Uh ... you might want to change your clothes. Perhaps something that might not cause others to ask so many questions."
Checking himself over, Alexander said, "Maybe I could change into the clothing of a Roman legionnaire?"
"That could work." Sato said.
"I'll be right back." Alexander said, and went to go change.
After changing into the clothing and armor of a Roman legionnaire, Alex returned to where Kenshiro and Sato were waiting on the grass field.
"Ready?" Sato asked.
Checking his weapons and armor, Alex said, "Yep."
With a wave of his hand Sato opened up a portal in front of them and shoved Alex in.
"Aaaah!" Alex screamed as he was sucked in, before the portal closed up behind him with a flash and a snap.
Standing next to Sato, Kenshiro asked, "Was the last part totally necessary?"
Shrugging, Sato flashed a smile, "What? I can't have a little fun?"