Cast of Characters, many of them and more still to come. (This will last at least 7 months folks.)
All these characters are from other stories in the Ruby Red Universe. You do not need to read them prior to enjoy the story, but it adds some details.
The Dark Lord
From 'The Mission by Lapi:
I saw Turks, Arabs, French Foreign Legion Kepis, and some Blue Berets standing out in the hall. I was waiting for the Swiss Guards to show up. When we turned the corner I saw the Swiss Guard plus some men in dark blue serge suits in front of the doors to the ballroom. I guessed that the 'New UN' was being called to order.
From 'Visages I' by Lapi: Marc and Kiki meet. "This was a test, Marc. It would seem that you have more soul than sense. No one can overcome four Ninja. Why did you even try?" "My Emperor, I, ... I never had time to even think. I saw them attacking Kiki and knew I had to try to help her. Time seems to have slowed down. I got lucky with two of them, but the last two just made me black out. I failed you, I failed Kiki, I am so ashamed!"
"You have nothing to be ashamed of. If I know my daughter she seems to agree with me, for she has not left your side since that event. You were never meant to save her. It was to be a lesson for you that you still had much to learn. You had bested four of my best Ninja, three others had to subdue you, perhaps a bit more forcefully than was necessary. Nonetheless, my daughter's life seems to have been more important to you than your own safety." "Perhaps Father, it is you that have learned a lesson? Heart, Love, Duty and Honour can be more powerful than fear." Also regarding Penny and Miko
Miko and Penny approached each other. Penny had a hope, she saw in Miko's eyes that she seemed to understand the next act. Both knelt down in the sand facing each other with tears flowing down from their eyes. Each placed a hand on the other's neck. They simultaneously said to each other, "Sister, you are the winner". Neither of them resisted as both hands closed to crush any life from each other.
In the space of a moment or of a lifetime, the giant man gripped both of their hands, not allowing either to fully close. Blood was dripping from the girl's mouths as the giant held their hands and lifted them to their feet. "Come" he said. "Your training awaits," as he led them to the boat. Both girls bowed to the seated man. When the boat had moved away from the shore, the man said just one thing. "Only a winner receives further training, Daughter, but it was never said there could only be one winner." Miko looked down. "Yes father" she whispered. Was this to be the future? Was 'The Order of the Quest' forming to become larger now.
Early tease from 'They Try Harder": "My son", Sakura said, do you really think that such a sacrifice could be accepted? She merely sleeps for there is another way. She will become one of my Angels. Every Angel of Death is, by that act a Japanese, and as such your wife shall be Japanese. If you shall order it so; it shall be done." The Dark Lord wrapped his arms around her, if she and he both called Nadia Japanese, no one would or could say she was other than Japanese. When awoke Nadia, the shouts of "Omi, Omi you are awake" rang out. Miko and Sakura hugged her, "Son, Brother" was shouted, "your wife Omi has returned to us."
And so it was, Nadia was now Omi; the emperor had all forms, licenses, deeds, visas and passports now showing Omi. By any and all means of identification she was now Omi, sister of Miko and wife of the Dark Lord. She was for all intents and purposes Japanese.
Miko and Sakura would join her at the reception; they were escorting the rest of the family to the new lodge the Order had given them. It was suggested that her guards were not needed, since only members of 'The Order' would be in attendance.
Omi just looked at the men, and walked away as now 16 Golden Dragons escorted Omi into the Grand Ballroom. Nowhere would the Dark Lord allow his wife, his queen, his love, to go unattended, in fact more protection had been assigned to her, some that even she did not know of.
Nadia was now known as Omi, wife of the Dark Lord, Queen of the Angels of Death, and Co-regent of the Shogun in Edo. This reception was to be her swan song as Nadia, but her debut as Omi. In what was her grandest moment, she would announce her pregnancy to this audience. It was too early to say it would be a boy, but the old woman had told her she was with child.
The Old Man from the council walked up to Omi, then stopped, several of the Golden Dragon guards, hands-grasping swords, remained kneeling as 4 rose up between the man and Omi. She smiled, extended her hand with the palm up, and the 4 guards were back on the ground.
The 'Old Man', however, did not elect to go any nearer to Omi, remembering that should even he try to touch her the guards would stop him. She carried the heir, and these guards followed the charge the Dark Lord had given them, even Omi would not be able to stop their responses. He had many, many of his own guards, but they were only men, and now just men could not stop these Golden Dragons and more so the Angels of Death before he was dead, even he had to respect her new condition in public.
He announced that Omi had joined 'The Order' and was to be confirmed as a member of the Council on the next day.
The Dark Lord had told her that from that moment on Omi and the child were everything. That he had arranged for additional security. The guard that had been sent from the 'Old Man Of The Mountain' had continued to attend to Omi; they were unseen and always stood ready. More had been sent when the announcement was made of an heir, a very special guard had been sent for first the Dark Lord, then the child once born.
A huge black wolf-dog now stood next to the Dark Lord. Its coat longer than most, the fangs clearly the longest ever seen, but the colour of its eyes were unique, they were red, and it stood more the size of a pony than a wolf, it was huge and seemed to sense all around him. It was the only thing that even the guards seemed to show fear of. "What," The Dark Lord said, "he," pointing to the wolf, "will be a fine companion when our child is born, won't you, boy?" petting the huge wolf. "I think he is housebroken, he is a puppy, only 6 weeks old."
The next morning, inside Council Headquarters Omi was escorted into a small room adjacent to the council chamber. No one was allowed to enter, not even her normal guards. It was the first ever she felt alone. Seated at a large table were several figures, some seats were empty, Omi was motioned to step forward by the only one she recognized, The 'Old Man' who was head of the Council. She moved forward. "Please sit, Omi, this is a very small concession, it seems women with child always are more important than a ceremony. We are here for several things today, first is to initiate you to join this council. Let us begin. Who vouches for this new member to the Council?""
"I do, ' said a voice; a voice she would always recognize. A man rose and removed his hood. Before her was her father, Boris said, "She is my daughter, one of whom I could not be prouder of." He sat down.
Another stood up, "I shall also vouch for her", he removed his hood and it was The Baron. "Her love and kindness have won over her selfishness and grief," said another, as he too rose, lowered his hood and stood before her.
It was the man from Bali whom she had helped long ago, Paulo was the name she remembered. "Remember Omi. Things may not always be what they appear to be," he sat down.
"I too vouch for her." It was a soft voice she knew well. "When I first saw her she was not what she has become." It was Sakura. "25 years ago when I sat in the same chair before the Council, I never imagined one of my sisters, my new queen, would join me here."
Yet another rose and removed his hood, it was the Dark Lord. "I not only vouch for her, I married her, and thanks to her we have or will have an heir."
The 'Old Man' now spoke, he had partnered the Dark Lord with Sakura once, "It seems the council has agreed upon a new member, Omi welcome. I have one last thing, I am tired, I have led this Council and 'The Order' quite a long time, it is time to appoint a new head. These are new times, and although I had thought The Dark Lord was best suited to replace me, perhaps a more gentle and loving leader would be better. All rise and bow to Omi, our new head."
As all bowed to Omi, who had not moved and looked stunned. "Omi, as your first official act you must begin the process to select new members for 'The Order'." All looked to the still seated Omi.
It was only the start of that worldwide organization that Li Wu had hoped for.
Note: Our creation of 'The Order' and 'The Mission Continues' will expand as part of the 'Ruby Red Universe'.