Well... One review for last chapter. Ouch, guys. Every time I submit a chapter, I get my hopes up, but I don't learn, do I? I'm not asking for compliments. I'm asking for reviews. Here, the rule "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything" doesn't apply. I mean, don't say anything cruel obviously...

So, here's chapter three, a coupld days late. Sorry. I got pretty discouraged this last week.


Element

Chapter Three

So Julia was off to further her education, Lance was leaving to travel and see the world, and I was entering my sophomore year at age fifteen as the leader of our underground band of brothers…And to think my little story has hardly begun yet.

I had the trust and loyalty of every one of our members, even though a large number of them were older than me. We did random things like keeping an eye out for trouble in our school, and I took us also into watching out for the kids in the middle school, though problems rarely presented themselves there.

I talked with Julia a lot during her time spent away at college. It was fairly easy to communicate by phone or through email, and she even dropped by to visit me on the holidays, which always proved to be a fun time.

At the end of my Junior year in high school, when I had turned seventeen, an opportunity presented itself to me. Though I seldom found myself using my abilities and powers as an Elemental, it occurred to me that I had power, power I could use for the betterment of not just this community in which I lived, but on a larger scale as well. I could help people all over the country, or even the world, perhaps even in space.

One organization existed that came to my mind right away, an organization that accepted people such as myself, Elementals. They were called the Akuma Kuran, or the Demon Clan, and they were the upholders of the law in most of the known universe. They were an organization of fighters and gifted people like me who put their powers to use to apprehend criminals. They were bounty hunters, and they were respected as some of the best warriors of the modern era.

I wanted in, because I knew I could make a difference and do some good. There was an office that happened to be not far from where I lived, so I showed up to see what I had to do to enter.

"You want to join the Akuma Kuran?" asked a clerk behind a desk with a perplexed look. "How old are you?"

"Seventeen years old," replied Jin.

"We don't usually accept people so young, unless you're incredibly talented," replied the man, scratching his chin. "You are an Elemental, correct?"

"Yes," answered Jin. "My talents lie in the Element of Fire." He opened his hand and a ball of flame materialized out of thin air, which the clerk looked at unimpressed.

"Well, like I said, we don't usually let seventeen year olds in," he sighed. "Any Fire Elemental can produce a small flame., or even a large flame. However, if you're still interested, hold out your hand."

Jin did as directed with a little confusion, and he allowed the clerk to take it in his own hands. The man reached into a desk drawer and pulled out a small device that he slipped around the tip of Jin's index finger. Jin quickly felt a stab of pain in his finger and pulled away and noticed that he had a small hold in his finger, which was slowly trickling blood.

"You bastard!" shouted Jin. "I didn't give you permission to do that! I oughta ignite you where you stand!"

"Quiet down, kid," said the clerk, looking at the device. Apparently, from what Jin could see, there was a digital number display that was rising. Jin could see some of his blood inside the little machine, and wondered what the meaning of this could possibly be. Was he being given a physical?

The clerk's eyes began to slowly widen in what Jin could only assume was surprise. The numbers on the display continued to count and change. Jin couldn't see what was going on, so he asked, "What's the matter? Am I sick?" The reply from the man was just a blank stare of shock. "Spit it out!" commanded Jin. "What the hell is that thing?"

The clerk held up a finger to quiet him as he dialed a phone, waiting a moment until the other line picked up. "What is it?" asked some man on the other side, Jin could hear.

"A kid just walked in and applied," said the clerk nervously. "He's only seventeen, but I think you should consider this one."

"What's his reading?" asked the man.

"I don't think you're going to believe me if you don't see it for yourself," said the clerk. "It's… high…"

"…How high?"

"3109," he replied. Jin listened hard for the other man's reply, but he heard nothing for a long time, until finally came the response.

"Get his information and send him home," said the man. The familiar click of the phone being hung up told Jin and the clerk that the conversation was over.

"So what's the deal?" asked Jin. "Was that your boss or something?"

"We just need your address, phone number, and basic information," said the man quickly. He pushed a slip of paper to Jin, along with a pen. "We'll be contacting you in the near future, so make sure you don't leave anything out." The man seemed kinda frantic and shaken. Jin did as directed and handed the paper back to the man, who took it and put it in a folder. Just as Jin was about to turn around and leave, the clerk stopped him.

"Kid, hold on just a second," he said. Jin stopped and turned back to face him, and the clerk leaned over the counter to talk quietly. "Do you have any idea the significance of that number I read a second ago?"

"3109?" asked Jin. "No. Was that the number on that little machine or something?"

"Kid, that's you energy level, your overall strength and power. We use it to see how strong our recruits are." He looked to both sides, to see if anyone was listening in on them, which was absurd, because there was no on in the small office except them. "The average Elemental at most has an energy level reading of 400, and that's if they're particularly gifted."

"So do I pass the talent section of the entrance exam?" asked Jin. "I believe that should answer your thoughts as to whether I'm particularly talented, right?" Jin turned and walked away feeling pretty good. He was pretty sure he'd just been accepted to the most elite organization of fighters and Elementals in the universe without hardly lifting a finger.

The next day, on the way home from school, Jin walked with the company of two of his friends, both of which were brothers in his group. The three of them were about to part ways when the air suddenly became hot and heavy. Jin noticed the air's change, but the other two didn't seem to notice. It was like the air pressure had increased over a hundred times. It was even giving him a headache, choking him like an invisible pair of hands around his neck, causing him to sweat, making his hair stand on end.

"Something wrong, Nasake?" asked one of the guys. Jin was breathing heavily. There was something very powerful nearby. Jin didn't know how this feeling told him that. It just seemed to be instinct that told him so.

"I think… you guys should get out of here," panted Jin. "I just have a really bad feeling here."

"What are you talking about?" asked the other guy. "What's the matter."

Jin suddenly felt the air change again. The air had turned incredibly cold and icy, and this time, all three of them noticed the change. "Whoa, the weather's getting kinda freaky," said one of them. He shivered.

Jin noticed that the air was still heavy and thick though, like it was trying to flatten him into the ground. His breath turned into fog as soon as it escaped his lips. This was not normal. This was power.

"Good afternoon, gentlemen," said someone down the sidewalk. They all looked up at him at the same time and were surprised to see a middle-aged man with sunglasses and a white suit on, holding a white cane in one hand. He seemed totally unfazed by the change in air pressure. Was this man the one who was doing it? "Now, now, Jin, it won't do to not respond when someone greets you."

Jin fell down to one of his knees under the weight of the air, causing the two next to him to rush forward to him. "Jin! Boss, what's going on!?"

"I don't know," said Jin. "Get out of here, now."

"You should do as he says," said another person. Only then did they see the boy walk out from behind the man in the white suit and stand next to him. He had spiky brown hair and brown eyes. Jin's eyes widened in realization that, not only was this person his age, but also that he was the one with that power.

"It's an order," said Jin angrily. "Move it! Now!"

"Let's see how Jin does, Reiketsu," said the man in the suit with amusement. Reiketsu nodded once and held a hand out towards them. Just what the hell did he intend to do from nearly twenty feet away with that stance exactly. "Try to take it easy though, ok? We don't want to do too much damage."

Jin felt all the cold air surge violently around them. Something was happening, and this kid was doing it. Jin suddenly saw the attack coming, a large beam of blue and white energy fired out of the kid's hand. It was powerful, and it was fast, and it was heading straight for the three of them. Jin placed both his hands on the concrete in front of him, and a large wall of fire leapt up out of the fissured ground just before they were hit.

The energy beam was stopped against the wall of fire, and the beam shattered into tiny pieces and fell to the ground. Jin looked at them and noticed that it was ice. This kid… was an Elemental of Ice. And he was strong.

The man in the white suit whistled in amazement. Evidently he was impressed.

Jin looked back at the other two. "I said get out of here!" he yelled. "I can't do anything with you both here!" The two boys looked at each other in confusion. They didn't want to just abandon Jin, but Jin was telling them to leave. Their hesitation told Jin as such, and he knew they couldn't make the decision. He sighed. "I'm sorry," he said, punching out with both hands into the kids' stomachs, causing them to immediately hunch over unconscious. Jin lifted them each and roughly say them aside before spinning around and facing the two menaces in front of him. They seemed to be amused by Jin's little effort to keep his friends out of harm's way.

"In the time it took you to save your little friends, Reiketsu here could've killed you several times over," said the man in the white suit. Jin smirked.

"Tell Reiketsu that he should've done just that, because only now does the party begin," spat Jin, squaring himself towards the two and closing his eyes. He quickly opened them back up, flashing red and orange. A ring of flames shot up and spun around him as the energy in the air grew hot and charged. The weight of the air lifted around him, no longer affecting him as it had before. With his two pals out of the way, it was time to finally fight back and unlock his power.

Jin shot forward with both hands to his sides, charged with energy and heat, packed and ready to fight. Reiketsu lowered himself defensively to prepare to accept the attack. Jin's first punch came at Reiketsu's chest, which Reiketsu narrowly blocked by raising a power-filled arm to knock the first away. He countered with a punch of his own, and his fist was charged with the same white and blue energy as the beam from before. It was another ice attack. Jin kicked upward with one of his feet, blasting Reiketsu's fist upward and harmlessly away. With both of Reiketsu's hands out to the side now, Jin had a clear opening for attack, and he kicked upwards with his other foot, placing a backflip kick to Reiketsu's jaw.

Reiketsu fell backwards hard to the ground while Jin landed harmlessly on his feet a few yards away and back. Jin waited patiently in a defensive stance with his fists tightly clenched in front of him. Reiketsu picked himself up slowly, spitting a mouthful of blood to the ground and looking up in frustration. "You'll regret that," he cursed.

"Stand down, both of you," said the man in the suit. Reiketsu looked over at him and obediently bowed, stepping backwards a step and lowering his fists. Jin looked at the man too in confusion. "Well, that was certainly a good show, Jin Nasake," he continued. "It wasn't quite what I expected, but I'm not surprised nonetheless. "You hardly used any fire in that fight, except to intercept the ice beam fired at you in the beginning. You are quite skilled in martial arts."

"I don't like to brag, but I had a good trainer," replied Jin curtly. "He taught me everything."

"Is he also the one who told you to not attack while your opponent is still getting up?" asked the man. Jin nodded. "So your teacher, though talented, was also quite an honorable man. Well, it's not important anyway." He walked forward to Jin. "My name is Jeremiah Onaki, and I am the man you no doubt heard over the phone yesterday. As an Elemental of your power, your senses must be that acute that you could hear, correct?"

"Yes," said Jin.

"Your sharpened sense are also the reason why only you felt what some would explain as an increase in air pressure when we came into the area," said Jeremiah. "When we dropped by and you almost fell to your knees, what you were feeling was Reiketsu's aura. I admit I almost thought it was a joke that it affected you so, but you simply refused to unlock all that power with your friends so close by. Commendable."

"What's going on?" asked Jin.

"I've come by to talk to you about your application to the Akuma Kuran," said Jeremiah. "You have an unusually high energy level: 3109. I'm sure it's been explained to you by now how strange that is in any Elemental, much less a child such as yourself. You are the Chosen Master of the Element of Fire, no?"

Jin was shocked and surprised, but he didn't flinch. "It's the only logical explanation for your readouts. That's the only reason I was able to guess. Anyway, Reiketsu here is just like you. He's the Chosen Master of the Element of Ice."

"Strong enough for you?" asked Reiketsu arrogantly, pointing to himself with his thumb triumphantly.

"Eh, not bad," answered Jin dismissively. Reiketsu glared back at Jin.

"Not bad?" he asked. "Why you little-

"Now, now, Reiketsu," admonished Jeremiah. "Let's not start another brawl in the street. People might be arriving here shortly to see what the commotion was anyway. We should be thinking about walking along now, shouldn't we?"

"Yes, Sir," said Reiketsu politely, bowing at the waist.

"Anyway, Mr. Nasake, we've been looking for people with your talent for a while now," continued Jeremiah. "I'm sure his may come as a shock to you, but all the other Chosen Masters have assembled under the care of the Akuma Kuran. You have been the hardest to find, it seems, and now that we've finally found you, we'd like you to join us. Of course, we'd love for you to think about it some more if you need the time, so feel free to take a few days and give it some thought. Here." He threw a piece of paper into the air, which was carried by the wind into Jin's grasp. On it was a single phone number.

"That is my personal phone number," said Jeremiah. "Call me when you're ready to tell me your decision. There are numerous facilities that will be at your disposal at all times, as well as the best trainers and master Elementals that you can find, just waiting to help you unlock all your abilities. You are strong now, of course, but you know you have a lot to learn. You want to help the world and make a difference, right? You can tell that there is so much potential, just waiting to be set free. I'm not saying you can't do it on your own, but maybe a little help couldn't hurt. Think about it, and then call me. We'll talk more then." He turned sharply on his heel. "Let's go, Reiketsu."

Reiketsu stared intently at Jin for a prolonged second. "I want to fight you again, someday," he said. "Whether you join the Akuma Kuran or not, I look forward to that day." He bowed and followed Jermiah Onaki away. They rounded a corner behind a neighborhood fence, and immediately Jin felt their oppressive pressures in the air lift.

He let out a sigh and relaxed his muscles. They were strong, so strong that it hurt his lungs just to breath in their presence. He knew that Reiketsu was stronger than him right now, and so were the other Chosen Ones most likely. He also sensed incredible power from that man in the white tux, Jeremiah Onaki. He looked down at the piece of paper still in his hands.

He didn't need a few days to make his decision. He already knew he wanted to be a part of this organization, no doubt about it. He'd give it a few days' thought anyway and see if anything changed over the next two days. He heard the two students to his side stir and begin to wake.

"Boss, what happened?" one of them asked tiredly. "Wait, you punched us out!"

"Sorry, you two," said Jin embarrassedly. "It was the only choice I had."

"How strong was he?" asked the other. "They're gone, so did you beat that spiky-head freak?"

Jin looked off in the direction they'd disappeared in. No one had lost or won the battle, but it had been clearly communicated that the purpose of this visit was to inform him that he had a lot of growing to do if he wanted to think of himself as strong in any way.

"Boss?" they asked. "Jin, who won?"

"It was a draw," said Jin with an innocent smile. "Come on. We should be getting a move on. Our respective families will think we've been up to no good again if we show up late again."

They took off running down the road.

And from that moment on, my life was changing at a rapid pace. Two days later, I met with Jeremiah Onaki in person after calling him. We both met alone. I had told Ms. Taka about my decision, and she didn't seem to mind my choice, though she warned me to make sure I was careful. I know she cared, but the fact of the matter was that at the age of seventeen, the choice was mine to make.

Eighteen was the age you were kicked out, but seventeen was the age you could choose to leave on your own. I chose the Akuma Kuran.

"I have to say," started Jeremiah. "I was afraid you might decide to not join us after all. I'm glad you chose to come along for the ride."

"There are still some things I want to talk about," said Jin shyly, looking down. They sat at a table in a fine restaurant, well-secluded enough that they wouldn't be overheard. "I have not finished high school yet, as I'm sure you know. I want-

"We have the finest teachers and instructors who will provide you with a top-grade high school diploma, as well as college professors, should you decide to further your education," interrupted Jeremiah quickly. "You didn't seem like the kind of person who would want to leave behind his education, so I figured you would ask something like that. We prioritize the education of you youngsters above everything else. Every morning, you begin your day like you probably would here in your normal everyday life. You go to classes, and then we teach you your refinement skills and abilities later."

He leaned forward a little with a serious face. "First, let me tell you this. It is not an easy thing, being in the Akuma Kuran. Now, you are a kid, and that will be taken into account of course. However, it will be rough, and to make matters worse, your fellow Chosen Masters have been with us a little longer, and thus they are a little further ahead than you are. As soon as they were discovered, when it became evident they wanted to join, we pulled a few strings to allow them early entrance into the program. As you know, seventeen is the earliest you can enter the Akuma Kuran. However, most of these kids have been there since they were about fifteen."

Jin swallowed the large lump in his throat. "I can tell you're nervous," chuckled Jeremiah. "Don't worry about it. You'll get along fine."

"You said 'as soon as they were discovered'," said Jin. "It didn't even occur to me to try and apply before turning of age… but do you mean you've been looking for us?" Jeremiah grinned widely and seemed impressed.

Leaning back with his arms crossed, he said, "You're pretty perceptive. Good. I can see you've got a good head on your shoulders. To answer without any real details, yes, we have been keeping an eye out for you kids. All the kids were found before you because of one reason. You want to know what that reason is?"

Jin nodded.

"It's simple, really," said Jeremiah. "Those five other youngsters sought to use their power right off the bat, and most of them caused quite a ruckus. You are different in that aspect. You have not used your powers much, have you? In fact, I'd guess that your display of strength a couple days ago was the most energy you've ever released. That's very unique, because it is human nature to use power once it is acquired. If a weapon is built, we use it. If we learn how to do something better, we do it. If we have the means by which to acquire something, we go and get it. You have conserved your power, no doubt because you do not wish to exploit your power or show it off as some might say."

"I try to be as normal as possible," said Jin bashfully.

"And that's the beauty of childhood, Jin," said Jeremiah with a smile. "You just wanted to be a kid, and by all means, you have every right to. You shouldn't feel ashamed in any way of that. What you've done these past years, choosing not to use that power, is an incredible thing that none of those other kids probably could fathom. I know about your little group of brothers, your fellow clansmen and friends, how you fight to preserve the goodness of this town. How many times have you gotten involved in a fight and wanted to use that power?"

Jin couldn't answer, because he knew there were so many times he'd thought of using that power that he couldn't count. "A lot."

"Yet you didn't," said Jeremiah with an excited smile still. "You fought man to man, head to head, a fair fight. That's no doubt evidence of your sensei's upbringing."

"He taught me well," said Jin proudly. "It is to him I owe my ability to fight. He never taught me a thing about my Elemental abilities, and I strive to fight without those Elemental abilities because he showed me that he could beat me without them."

"A good man," said Jeremiah. "I'm glad he taught you so well. However, in the Akuma Kuran, we will be teaching you to awaken those Elemental powers and abilities, as well as a little more martial arts training. Make no mistake, Jin. We do not intend to erase how you've fought to this day. We are only going to be showing you more ways to fight, so that you can build off of what you've already learned."

"I understand," said Jin politely. "I know I can't get by on my own strength alone for much longer."

"Good, good," said Jeremiah, leaning back again and scratching his chin. "I'll explain more later, but for now, let's eat."

The delicious meal was exquisite and perfect. Jin had eaten delicious dinners before, so he knew one when he got one. This man Jeremiah seemed to be able to drop money like it was nothing.

After the meal, they walked to Jin's home along the town roads at sunset. "There is still much to discuss, Jin Nasake," said Jeremiah. "There's much to learn and much to do, but that can come later. In one week, I'll be coming by to pick you up. Be ready by then."

They reached his doorstep and Jin placed his hand on the doorknob. At that instance, Jin realized Jeremiah was gone, and he hadn't even seen him leave. He looked around for a minute with widened eyes. "How did he do that?" he thought. "How powerful is he?"

Julia stopped by later in the week, a few days before it was time for me to leave, having returned from her college classes for the summer. I had just had my last day of my junior year, and she had completed her sophomore year in college with nothing but perfect grades. Mine weren't great, but they weren't bad. I'd have to say I did okay, maybe average.

"You're gonna do what?" asked Julia, blinking hard next to Jin. They sat on the front porch of Ms. Taka's house with a soft drink.

"Yeah," answered Jin. "I'm entering the Akuma Kuran in a few days."

"Are you serious?" asked Julia. "Jin, this is a big decision. Are you sure you've thought it out all the way?" Jin looked over in frustration, just barely not yelling.

"Of course I'm serious!" he said. "And of course I thought it through completely. What are you insinuating?" Jin crossed his arms. "Just because you got better grades…"

Julia repressed her laughter and smiled. She placed a hand on Jin's head and ruffled his hair as he mildly protested. "Hey! Cut it out!" He pushed her hand away with both of his. "It's like you still think I'm a kid or something."

"You are a kid," she said playfully. "You'll always be a kid to me, Jin. Don't you forget that."

"Hmph." Jin smiled a little and looked back ahead at the street. "This is my chance to change the world, my chance to make a difference with my power." Julia looked at him appraisingly from the side. "I have a lot of strength to work with… but there's a lot more to gain. I can travel the world, even the universe."

"Sounds like fun," she said with a smile. Jin looked up at her as he took a drink from his can of pop.

"You don't seem disappointed," he replied. "I was thinking you'd try to talk me out of it."

"It's your decision, and yours alone, Jin," she said wistfully. "If you want to join the Akuma Kuran, then that is your choice. If I can tell you one thing, it's that you are in control of everything you do in life. It's your life, so live it on your terms. Make sense?"

Jin nodded a couple times. "So you're okay with it?"

"It certainly wasn't something I expected you to do all of a sudden," she said with a shrug of her shoulders, "but you know, it sounds like a great opportunity for you. You'll definitely grow up to be very strong, Jin. I know it, and so does everyone who knows you. You're bound for greatness… Just make sure that you don't forget the reason you want that power."

Jin spent the next few days preparing for his pickup, and when the time came for him to leave, he was ready. With his few belongings packed into a trunk and with the clothes on his back, he was picked up in a limousine personally by Jermiah once again. There to see him off were Ms. Taka and Julia. When the black limo pulled up in front of the small house, Julia gave him a tight embrace.

"You'll stay in touch?" she asked.

"Of course," promised Jin. "I'll write every chance I get."

"Whatever happens, don't do anything rash," said Julia, finally pulling away and looking Jin closely in the eyes. "If you don't know what to do, just do what your heart tells you. If you do that, then you can do no wrong, okay?"

"Right," said Jin. "I'll be fine though, so you don't have to worry about me." Julia tightly pulled him into another hug.

"I don't have to, Jin," she said. "I want to. Just… be careful, and don't let anything get in the way of your dreams."

"Thanks, Big Sister," he said, stepping away.

"Jin, are you ready to go?" asked Jermiah, stepping out of the back of the car and walking up to them. Jin pulled back and faced him. Jeremiah was smiling his best again, like he always was.

"Ready, Sir," said Jin with a thumbs up. He turned back to Julia and Ms. Taka, waving once. "Time to go. He stepped into the back seat of the limousine and the door closed while Jeremiah walked around to the other side and entered the vehicle. Jin's window slowly slid down, and his face appeared outside.

"Love you, Big Sis," he said laughingly. Julia smiled too and waved.

"Love you too, Big Brother," she replied. "Now go, and be good." The limousine started and began to pull away, slowly gaining speed. Jin watched out the back window and Julia waved him farewell, watching until they could no longer see each other.

Jin was on his way to changing his life in ways not even he could imagine.

Chapter Three End


So, I'm not going to lie, this story is growing difficult to write already, but I will press on and continue. I hope to have chapter four up on monday, going back to our regular schedule, but I think I may just quit if I get one review per chapter. Where's the motivation?