Watching the ugly creatures walking below me from a ledge on the cave wall, I started feeling my eyelids get heavier. It had been nearly a week since I had left the agency base. Which meant, of course, that I hadn't slept more than three or four hours since I got off the transport five and a half days ago.
Sighing, I tied my sword to my belt. Tucking away the packets of food that I had in my cloak, I carefully slipping it around my shoulders. The pale brown fabric was so light that had I not known better, I would have thought that it would be torn to pieces by being thrown around at cave rocks as harshly as it had been. Getting my footing just right, I jumped off the ledge and to my surprise, landed on my feet when I hit the ground. I could see the ugly creatures around me turn their disgusting yellow eyes towards me. Wasting no time, I drew my sword and killed three or four of the creatures in one swift stroke. As they fell to the ground, I continued a fluid motion of sword strokes, each time taking out another two or three Exôepeimi until I could find no more.
Now, you're probably thinking, "Well yeah, but didn't at least one of them go off and tell someone?" The answer to this is simply…no. Exôepeimi are a very odd race. They would rather all charge blindly forward at something when danger appears, wanting the glory all for themselves. Where as, in the human race, fear plays a part and at some point someone might actually think about the fact that there are strength in numbers.
Taking off down the pathway of the cave, I kept my sword unsheathed in case I would be in immediate need of it. I replayed my mission orders in my head as I ran deeper and deeper into the cave network. Suddenly I heard a soft beeping go off from somewhere. Speeding up, I ducked into an unlit path of the cave, pressing a button on a device that was attached to my belt. Putting part of the thick, wire-like device on my ear, a tiny metal microphone fell just in front of my mouth.
"Updates?" I whispered.
"Its good to hear your voice, Ted-1. Happy Birthday, by the way," said a familiar voice through the static.
"Yang? So the Colonel has you doing reception duty?" I said, sheathing my sword. That's right, it was my birthday. I had completely forgotten.
A distorted chuckle came from the other end of the connection, "No, this is just temporary. Someone got busy elsewhere and I'm taking over their shift. Sometimes I wish I were, though. Then I'd get to talk to you more often."
"Yeah, I miss you, too."
"Mm…how are you holding up?"
"At this rate I'm going to pass out from sleep deprivation. But otherwise, I'm good."
"I know how that is. Thankfully, though, I don't have to fight bad guys in that state."
I couldn't help but laugh at his statement. It sounded so childish.
"So, what have you got for me?"
"The Exôepeimi are training their troops a lot faster than we thought. I hate to be the messenger of more bad news, but you need to eliminate them before they eliminate you and the rest of our agents."
"Yang," I said, sitting down on the floor of the cave structure and leaning against the cave wall. I could feel my muscles give way to exhaustion, "Don't worry. I know how to do my job."
I never said you didn't. It's just—"
"Honey, please. I love you, but I've been doing this kind of thing for over a thousand years. I think I know what I'm doing," I closed my eyes, feeling some of the tension in my muscles leave me.
There was a moment of silence from the other end.
"Yang, I'm going to take a nap. Wake me up in thirty minutes, would you?"
"Don't give me that. If I sleep for any longer, someone could find me. Now, either wake me up in thirty minutes or get Roz to come back on the line."
He was silent for another moment, then I heard a long resigned sigh from his end of the connection, "Thirty minutes it is. Sleep well."
I fell asleep almost instantly, only to be woken all too soon by Yang's voice speaking through the device.
"Chisato! You up?"
My body screamed in protest at his voice, but none the less, I slowly rose to my feet, "Yes."
"Good. Listen. As soon as you get moving again, you'll be so far underground that our connection with you will be lost. After this point, you're on your own. Good luck!"
"Okay," I said, groggily.
"Love you too, Babe. Ted-1 out," I said, before taking the wire off and putting it back on my belt. Quietly, I headed back to the lit part of the cave, unsheathing my sword again. I tried to make myself remember sword skills and martial arts moves taught to me when I was younger to get me to stay alert, but it just didn't seem to have much affect at all. I could feel my brain running on auto pilot as I started running down the cave path again. It was essential that I find a Motrigan camp soon, so that I could rest, eat, and get checked out by a doctor. As it happened, I had taken a heavy plasma blow to my right leg a day or two ago. Although the wound really wasn't all that serious, there was a chance that it could potentially become life threatening if I didn't get it treated soon, due to the high chance of infection in the conditions I was under.
Sulking at the fact that Yang would have easily taken care of it right after it had happened, had he been here, I found myself strolling once more down memory lane.
Several minutes later, I almost plowed headlong into another Exôepeimi. Barely slowing down, I drew my sword back and beheaded him with one swift, clean stroke.
"The trick of a samurai," Sasuke had once said to me, "is to handle every movement with complete control. Anyone can swing a sword, but only a samurai can use it as a tool. You should be able to swing your sword at full strength and stop it exactly at the skin of someone's neck without actually breaking the skin. If you can do this, you can do anything…" Whether this was true or not, I still don't know, but when I could finally achieve this action, I was indeed starting to become a very skilled samurai. Now, I could probably achieve it with my eyes closed. Although, I've never had the guts to try before. And perhaps this was a good thing.
Stopping, I sheathed my sword and threw a device at the cave ceiling. It quickly unfolded itself to become a kind of step and metal bar. Jumping up, I grabbed a hold of it and swung myself onto it without much difficulty. I was once again looking down at the cave floor below me. Checking an electronic map of the caves, I marked off the way I had come on the device. I was now very deep inside the caves, that was easy to see by the amount of passages that came near this one on the map. Looking down, I became suddenly aware that a fight had broken out just under me.
"So, those are Motrigan's," I whispered curiously, watching.
Exôepeimi were shooting at the Motrigan's as they advanced towards them, and from the looks of things, the Exôepeimi were winning. Several Motrigan's had died in the battle and only one Exôepeimi. Deciding that it was past time to intervene, I pushed a button on the machine and it started to fold up again. And when only the metal bar remained, I pulled hard on it with my left hand and it released itself from the ceiling, letting me fall to the cave floor. When my feet touched the floor, my right hand automatically went to my sword's hilt, unsheathing it. One of the Exôepeimi let out a cry of surprise at the sight of me, and the rest of the Exôepeimi and people around me just stood there, stunned.
Not waiting until this affect wore off, I drew my sword outward in three swift, broad strokes, killing the Exôepeimi soldiers. When I was sure that I had gotten rid of all the Exôepeimi, I sighed, turning around to face the stunned-looking Motrig soldiers. Tiredly, sheathing my sword, I looked directly at them. After a moment, someone from behind the front line of Motrigan troops, pushed his way through, giving me a hard stare.
"Who are you?" he asked, accusingly.
"My name is Captain Chisato Izawa. I'm with G.P.A. They sent me down as a special agent to take out the Exôepeimi troops."
"Exo-epe-I-mee? Is that what you call them? We just call them, Tokli."
I couldn't help but smile at this, despite my exhaustion, "Sounds like an easier name."
"Yeah, guess so. But to the point, how did you kill all those Tokli's all by yourself? Or is that just something expected from all the agents in that place that you come from?"
"No," I said, putting the device that had been in my left hand in the pocket of my cloak. "I'm the one they send when things start going wrong."
"I see. So, you're on our side then?"
"Well, I guess that's good news, why don't you come with—" he voice trailed off at this point, though. And everything around me started going dark. Feeling my strength leave me, I began to fall through the air until I felt myself hit the floor. Then I remembered no more…
"What was her name again?"
"Chisko, wasn't it?"
"Chisato, I think it was."
"Yeah. Chisato, can you hear me?"
"Stop that. She can't hear you. Can't you see that she's not responding?"
"It's all right," said a third, deeper voice. "I had them run some tests on her. She was injured, had extreme sleep depravation, and hadn't eaten anything in about twenty hours. So, I'm not really that surprised that she passed out. I'm just glad we found her before her body gave out on her like it did. Otherwise she might have been captured. Now, we just need to let her sleep, let the medical unit bandage her up, and get some food and water in her body as soon as possible."
"What is G.P.A.?"
"It's a planetary defense agency, I think," said the third voice. "When we were attacked, they sent troops down to help us recapture the planet from those heartless things."
"So she's here to help us?"
"That would be my guess."
"But, leader, what did she mean by, she's 'the one they send when things start going wrong'?"
"Meaning, she's probably specially trained to handle diverse conditions, even take on an entire battle all by herself and live to tell the tale. I've heard of Earthlings who in ancient times had incredible abilities of war, samurai warriors or martial arts masters, I think they were called. Its said that those warriors are almost completely extinct now, but she must be one of the few who remain. Truly remarkable."
"Come on, Kamin. We should let her sleep in peace. I'll have Timren wake us when she comes to. Then we'll be able to treat her more extensively."
There was the sound of rustling cloth, and then complete silence. Before I knew it, I had lured myself into a deep sleep and my mind lost all sense of time. The next time I opened my eyes, it was to lamp light in the cave. I could see light brown cloth hanging around me and a young girl sitting beside me. I couldn't help but smile at the look of innocence on her youthful, sleeping face. In some ways, it reminded me of when I was young—when I was too young to understand anything like life, death, or the pain of losing someone I loved. She looked so peaceful, that I didn't want to wake her. I tried to keep completely still as to not create too much noise, but I soon learned that my efforts were in vain.
Just minutes after I had awoken, a young man with hair such a deep shade of dark brown that it was almost black, swept into the cavernous space. He moved with the dignity and commanding presence of a king. His skin was a dark tan, and his eyes a magnificent emerald green. But most startling of all, was his clothing. It seemed to be no more than a simple, light shade of beach sand brown on fabric that could have easily been thin enough for a nice summer dress back on Earth, but tough enough to protect you from harsh weather conditions. Even though he, himself, was very elegant looking, and his clothing was very plain, somehow, it seemed to suit him.
With a graceful motion, he placed his hand on the child's shoulder and shook her gently. The girl opened her eyes slowly and looked straight at his calm face. Then, with nothing more than a slight nod and a flicker of his eyes towards the cloth door, she instantly rose from her chair and left. When she was gone, he sat down in the chair, not slouching in the slightest. Looking at me square in the eye, he spoke.
"Your name is Chisato, correct?"
I opened my mouth to speak, but no sound came out. Trying once again, my voice sounded almost harsh to me, "Yes."
"My name is Second Ricard Sifo Trinit, but you may call me Trinit."
His voice was fair and even. He spoke softly, and his words were amazingly easy to understand.
"Trinit, you say? Where am I?"
"You are in a Motrigan camp. Most of us are military units, but we do have some women and children who took refuge here. If I may ask, why did the agency send a woman to do a man's job? Surely any man could have done the same as you."
My eyes narrowed, I knew all to well that I had an appalled look on my face. I knew this attitude all too well.
"Mr. Sifo Trinit, please don't think that my superior has put me in a position that I am incapable of fulfilling correctly or just plain, don't deserve. I know how to fight. My superior entrusted me with your protection, and ultimately the elimination of the Exôepeimi, or the Tokli as you call them. This is because no other could do the same skill in their work as I can. So, I assure you, sir. I am fully capable and fully deserving of my post. A man's job indeed, Mr. Trinit!"
His calm expression slipped momentarily at my anger, but he soon regained his composure. Then bowing his head respectfully, he spoke once more.
"I meant no disrespect. I just meant that women have a very important duty in their own right. To bare children and take care of the soldiers when the days are too long. Don't you think this is an idea at least worth considering for yourself as well."
"Not today, Mr. Trinit," I said, forcing myself to try and calm down, "I have a future husband back home, but he has his own way of fighting wars. While I carry the sword and do the killing, he can hack into entire planetary systems and create minor to extremely major problems in their technology. Although he's not much good with a riffle, he had a different weapon, Mr. Trinit. He has his mind. So you see, not all men are meant for the actual, physical battle field. But to help those people who are, we need people who can work behind the scenes to give us information. The only point I'm trying to prove by this, is that, sometimes, both men and women have to do the dirty work in order to get anything done."
"I understand, but I still think if its better that you stay away from battle. Men are still better natural born fighters. Besides, you're only one person."
I sighed, "Mr. Trinit, I was the one who slain the Tokli when your men started to fall in battle, and I did it in an instant, single-handedly. Don't speak to me about what is possible and what is not. But if knowing my ability is that important to you, arrange a sparing battle and you will know my strength first hand."
He was silent for a long while, then he slowly nodded, "All right. One battle. If you don't prove to me that you can fight in that one battle, I'm sending you back to the agency with an escort to tell them, how dare they bring women into a man's war."
I wasn't about to actually tell him that this was something that I had expected to hear from someone like, oh, my mother, for example. She always thought that I should have spent my time doing housework and cooking rather than fighting. But as the thought crossed my mind, I couldn't help but smile.
"I'd like to see you try."
"I'll be looking forward to it."
He nodded, slowly rising from the chair, "I'll have someone bring you something to eat. You should thank my brother, Yom. He took care of your injuries. I will see you later, Miss Chisato."
I bowed my head, "Yes, until our next meeting."
He nodded and left the cavernous space. And for the first time in many hours, I found that I could think clearly again.