|The Sacred Trinity Treasures
Author: Pink-Green-White-4ever PM
Over a millennia ago one brave soul gave her life to protect something of incredible cosmic power from a ruthless alien race bent on conquering the universe. Hidden & protected for hundreds of years, the artifacts are now being hunted. Full summary insideRated: Fiction M - English - Adventure/Mystery - Chapters: 3 - Words: 18,374 - Reviews: 21 - Favs: 9 - Follows: 17 - Updated: 03-23-09 - Published: 06-19-07 - id: 3604286
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
The Sacred Trinity Treasures
Chapter 2: Joining Forces
Last Revised: March 23, 2009
Summary: Over a millennium ago one brave soul sacrificed her life to protect something of incredible cosmic power from a ruthless alien race bent on conquering the universe. Hidden and protected for hundreds of years by chosen guardians, the artifacts are now being hunted by the forces of good and evil. But the lines have blurred and no one's sure of anyone's true intentions anymore. Dark times are ahead.
Rating: M, though may go higher
Ship: you'll see
Disclaimer: I don't own PR, nor do I own the legend of the Imperial Regalia of Japan.
Dedication: To Shawn, the big brother I should have gotten and my mentor in throwing myself into something new and completely out of my element. You have no idea how much your encouragement means, because I never would have tried this without you.
Author's Note 1: As posted on Wikipedia:
The Imperial Regalia of Japan (三種の神器,Sanshu no Jingi?), also known as the Three Sacred Treasures, consist of the sword, Kusanagi (草薙劍) (or possibly a replica of the original), the jewel or necklace of jewels, Yasakani no magatama (八尺瓊曲玉), and the mirror, Yata no kagami (八咫鏡). Also known as the Three Sacred Treasures of Japan, the regalia represent the three primary virtues: valor (the sword), wisdom (the mirror), and benevolence (the jewel). These may be connected with Buddhist thought.
Due to the legendary status of these items, their locations are not confirmed, but it is commonly thought that the sword is located at Atsuta Shrine in Nagoya, the mirror is located in the Grand Shrine of Ise in Mie prefecture, and the jewel is located at Kokyo (the Imperial Palace) in Tokyo. One or more of these may not be the originals. The Yata no kagami is also said to be in the Kashikodokoro, one of the Three Palace Sanctuaries.
Since 690, the presentation of these items to the Emperor by the priests at the shrine are a central part of the imperial enthronement ceremony. This ceremony is not public, and these items are by tradition only seen by the emperor and certain priests. Because of this, no known photographs or drawings exist.
According to legend, these artifacts were brought by Ninigi-no-Mikoto, legendary ancestor of the Japanese imperial line, when his grandmother, the Sun Goddess Amaterasu, sent him to pacify Japan. The origin of the items remain a question today. There is speculation that they are from Bronze Age China or Korea, which were among the first countries to reach Japan, where bronze was still unknown, near the threshold from prehistory to history. Traditionally, they were a symbol of the emperor's divinity as a descendant of Amaterasu, from which he derived legitimacy as paramount ruler of Japan.
According to legend, when Amaterasu hid in a cave from her brother Susanoo, thus plunging the world in darkness, the goddess Ama-no-Uzume hung the mirror and jewels outside the cave and lured her out of the cave, at which point she saw her own reflection and was startled enough that the gods could pull her out of the cave. Susanoo later presented in apology to Amaterasu the sword, Kusanagi, which he had obtained from the body of an eight-headed serpent, Orochi.
During the Northern and Southern dynasties period in the 14th century, the possession by the Southern Dynasty of the imperial regalia has led modern chroniclers to define that as the legitimate dynasty for purposes of reign names and genealogy.
Author's Note 2: Lots of credit goes to Shawn for some of these amazing ideas. So give him lots of love!
The Imperial Hotel
Accompanied by a billowing cloud of steam from his shower, Tommy padded into the main portion of his hotel suite. He had a towel draped over his shoulders and another secured tightly around his waist, beads of water still lingering on his well-toned chest and abdomen. His mind was going a mile a minute as he tossed the towel from his shoulders to the bed and then reached for his sweats. He stripped off the towel from his waist, slipped the sweats on, and then moved over to the table by the balcony where his computer was set up, and books, scrolls, pads of paper with unintelligible scribbles, and a handful of pens were scattered.
It was well past midnight, and he'd spent the better part of the evening pouring over all the books Motoki had checked out from the library plus the scrolls the Baron had sent over for him. So far, he was no further than when he'd started, hence the break to take a shower. Rolling his shoulders, he sat down at the table and got back to work. His first piece of business was to see if Jason and Hayley had emailed him back about what had been going on. Instead of finding an email from either of them, he found a new one from Kat sitting in his inbox. When he opened it, he saw it was a mass email to the entire team.
I hope this email finds you all in good spirits, particularly those of you not home in the States at the moment – Tanya, I hope the tour is going well, I'm sorry I missed your phone call. Jason said you sounded tired and slightly homesick. Remember that we're thinking about you. Billy – have you returned from London yet? Jason mentioned you were teaching at MIT, or would soon be. Please, give me or Jason, a call! Tommy, how's Japan? Jason said you'd run into a few unexpected problems…please tell me you're staying out of trouble, I don't think Jason, Hayley, or any of the rest of us can go another round of you in color coded spandex…Kimberly Ann, have you forgotten what a phone or an answering service is for? I mean, I know the time difference in Tokyo is sixteen hours, but even Tommy had time to send out emails…get in touch with one of us, please. Jason, Aisha and I are getting really worried.
Okay, now that I'm done ranting, I have an important announcement to make. Jason and I are pregnant....correction - and yes Rocky, I know what you're going to say already – Jason is not technically pregnant, just me. ;P I just wanted to let you all know. I was going to call, but with everyone's hectic schedules, it's been impossible to find the time. I'm about two months along, so in seven months, God willing, we'll have a new baby Scott walking around.
Well, it's just about time for me to head to work. We love and miss all of you, please get in touch!
All our love,
Kat and Jason
Tommy couldn't help but shake his head. His best friends were going to be parents, who would have thought that would ever happen? He grinned as he shifted through the spam emails that had popped up, thinking of how happy Jason and Kat had to be. They'd been trying for well over a year to get pregnant, and now they were seven months away from holding their miracle in their arms. He was genuinely happy for them, but even as the happiness swelled, a tiny part of him was envious. Of all the members of their team, only he and Billy, as he was uncertain about Kim, were single. Billy was happy enough in his role as professor and consultant to the government that he'd often expressed how he had no desire to settle down. Tommy knew there had only been two women he himself had ever thought of settling down with – one of them was now married to his best friend and expecting his first niece or nephew, and the other he hadn't seen since Trini's funeral, nor had he heard much about her other than she was traveling and now was based out of Tokyo. If he wasn't so busy, he might have worked up the courage to go find her. Shaking his head, he turned back to his work.
He chewed his lip as he rifled through the c.d. selection he'd brought with him. Choosing one labeled Tommy's Mix in Kat's elegant handwriting, he sat back in his chair and thought about how he'd ended up in Japan of all places.
The day this wild adventure had all started was still clear as day for him. He'd been packing his things up for Christmas break, and he'd gotten a call from the office that he had a visitor. When that visitor had entered his classroom, Tommy felt like he'd been shot back the better part of ten years to when he'd first become a Ranger. The Baron had walked through the door to his classroom as if the man owned everything in sight. It was the same sort of air of confidence that Anton had often carried during his time as Mesogog, or if Tommy thought about it long enough, the same sort of arrogance Rita and Zedd had displayed in thinking they owned Earth and humans should bow before them.
The hour long meeting that had followed had left Tommy shaken deeper than he'd ever admit. The Baron had known all about his stint as the Black Dino Ranger as well as his stint as one of the legendary twelve original Rangers. The man had known about his teammates, known about the lives they led, hell, he'd even known about Zordon and how the original powers had come to be. No one outside of the Rangers' inner circle or those who'd been their enemies had ever known any of that. To have this ordinary man walk into his classroom and tell him he knew had shocked the hell out of him, a feat rarely achieved.
Shock quickly turned to anger and fear as the Baron demanded Tommy come to work with the Zephyr Foundation or risk exposing the Rangers' secrets. Tommy had responded in kind, telling the man to go to hell; it wasn't like anyone would believe that a bunch of high school kids could be superheroes. Tactics had changed by then, the Baron trying to suddenly come off as being in need of Tommy's help. The former Ranger leader hadn't been impressed by the man trying to play him, though Tommy could feel the power radiating from him.
The proof had been indisputable though, when the Baron had spoken of Tommy's life and his family, of the details only someone who had studied him carefully would know. The Baron spoke of the almost secret society that the foundation was, of the world leaders, kings, nobles, heads of state, who had all been apart of the Millennia old brotherhood. The facts had been stated – this was a world-wide organization that backed many of the world's top politicians, minds, businessmen, you name it. The Baron promised the former Ranger that he'd be able to save the world again, only this time not from the confines of a spandex suit but with the money, supplies and prestige afforded to him by the foundation. Nothing would be out of his reach in his quest to protect Earth. Before he realized it, he was accepting the offer, for so many reasons, but most of all because deep down inside, he only truly felt alive when he was off risking life and limb to protect the world he'd given up so much for.
Pushing back from the table in frustration, he stalked over to the balcony doors and leaned against the cool glass, watching as the storm outside began to rage, just like the storm inside of him was. After his last stint in spandex, he'd promised everyone that he wouldn't pick up a morpher again, and he'd kept that promise, but the decision to work for the foundation, it was almost as if he were stepping back into the role that had literally become his life. He was a Ranger, and no matter how many times he'd tried to step away from that life, it inevitably yanked him right back into it. Sighing, he knew one thing for certain – he was going to die doing something dangerous along the lines of saving the world. It was a fact he'd come to accept a long time ago.
But his frustration wasn't all that, nor was it that he could find next to nothing in the way of concrete evidence of these treasures he was supposed to find. As much as he hated to admit it, his serious lack of a love life was yet another reason he'd decided to help the foundation. After his Dino Thunder days were over, and Jason and Kat had gotten married, he'd started to finally see that his life wasn't as complete as he'd wanted it to be. Unfortunately, dating just didn't fit into his world; been there done that and had absolutely no permanent success at it. There had been few other women beyond Kat, and ultimately Kim, who had touched his heart enough for him to make the effort of putting his everything into the relationship, and the few times he had, he'd gotten stung more wickedly than either of the break-ups he'd had with his former teammates.
So, he'd come to an understanding about his life – love was not meant to be a long term part of it. All he had now were the haunting memories of his four years with Katherine and the mutual decision to go their separate ways, as well as the heartbreakingly shattered dreams of his first love, the ever-graceful Ms. Hart, and the way he hadn't been able to save the one thing that had been infinitely more precious to him than anything on this earth.
Lifting his eyes toward the sky, something abnormally familiar caught his eye. The former Ranger knew he had to be hallucinating as he looked across the expanse of the street to the building facing his room and saw an eerie pink glow free-falling from the tenth floor. Quickly, he pushed open the balcony door and rushed outside, ignoring the rain pelting him as he did. He watched in startled admiration as the pink glow landed on the sidewalk, turn toward the balcony, and then run away. It took Tommy two full seconds to realize it had been a woman, and deep inside, he had the sinking feeling he knew exactly who she was. Turning, he fled back inside, grabbed his room key, shoes, and coat, and headed down.
By the time he got across the street, the figure he'd seen from his balcony was no where to be seen. His mind said it was just an illusion and that he was stupid to be outside at two-something in the morning, standing in the rain, looking for the ghost of someone so achingly familiar to him. His heart said otherwise. Carefully, he crossed the street to where the figure had landed and was startled to find a small crater in the sidewalk. Crouching down, he ran his hand over the indentation, almost immediately recoiling with a hiss when power shot up his arm, causing his whole body to tingle in response.
He stood back up and stumbled back away from the crater a few steps, shaking his hand to ward off the tingling, and that's when he suddenly noticed the five figures emerging from the darkness. Normally, he would have just turned and went about his business, but the instincts he'd honed as a teenage superhero suddenly kicked into overdrive, warning him that even if he'd turned away, they'd have followed.
They didn't say a word, but as an experienced martial artist, Tommy heard the unmistakable sound of weapons being drawn in the darkness. His breathing sped up and his muscles tensed as he waited for the first attack. It came in the form of a large, sharp as hell Katana sweeping down from above. He managed to duck out of the way, and in the process extended his left leg to knock his attacker back five full steps. "Look, I don't know who you are, or who you think I am, but I didn't ask for this!" Tommy grumbled even as he felt the solid connection of one of their fists hit him mid back, knocking him to the ground, breathless.
Swearing under his breath, he rolled to avoid the strike of someone's foot. On his back, he brought his legs up in a scissor kick and extended both arms, tripping up three of his attackers, before he popped up back to his feet and landed in a fighting stance that was as familiar to him as breathing. One of them issued the sounds of what had to be their language and Tommy realized that it was the leader. He knew he'd have to get through the others to get to that one, so he immediately began looking into how to get one of the swords away from them. With a firm, practiced ki-yah, Tommy let loose a Tornado Kick that had the four attacking him falling back, one of them losing their grip on their sword. Swiftly, he raced forward and grabbed the sword, swinging around with it before viciously beheading one of them on instinct.
With grim satisfaction, he watched it explode in a cloud of dust. "I see," he muttered, then began to race toward the others that were left. He made short work out of the other three, the borrowed sword slashing against them faster than they had time to react. Soon, it was only Tommy and the leader, standing and staring at each other.
"You can not stop what destiny has set in motion." The sound of the voice wasn't loud, but it seemed to almost echo in all directions and reverberate through the area they stood in, almost as if in surround sound, permeating into Tommy's own being and sending a wave of chills up and down his spine. He took and instinctive step toward his enemy and the warrior seemingly blended back into the darkness, leaving Tommy standing on the street, chest heaving, while the rain pelted down on top of him, sword in hand.
"Damn it, why me?" he muttered before he turned and fled back toward his hotel, attempting to hide the sword in his coat as he raced into the lobby and up to his room.
Dawn came much too early for Kimberly's liking. She was curled up on a cot in the office of her shop, the sounds of her morning clerk opening the store echoing through the small space. Muttering a curse, she sat up and rubbed her eyes. She'd only gotten about three hours of sleep after running all over town, trying to make sure her tall, dark and creepy attackers hadn't followed her. Looking over at the clock on the wall, she quickly and quietly did a mental calculation to see what time it was in Los Angeles. She surmised that if it was eight in the morning her time, it was four in the afternoon the previous day in Los Angeles. Reaching over, she grabbed her cordless phone off her desk and punched in the number she knew like the back of her hand.
It rang three times on the other line before she got the answering machine and heard the familiar voice of her big brother. "You've reached Jason and Kat, we can't come to the phone right now, but please leave your name, number and a brief message, and we'll get back to you when we can. Thanks."
After the beep, she started talking. "It's me. Just wanted to let you know I'm still alive, still breathing. I ran into a little trouble last night, but I don't have the time to tell you about it, but I promise, I will back call soon. I'm heading back out to the shrine for a few days, and then I have to go on a trip. I can't give you the details, because I don't have them all worked out, but something's happening, something serious, and I may be out of touch for a while. I'd say don't worry but I know you two, and Sha, way too well to tell you not to. Let the others know I'm okay, and that I'll be in touch with someone before too long. I love you both, remember that."
With tears stinging her eyes, she quickly hit the end button and hung up the phone. She knew her big brother and her blonde haired friend well enough to know that her message would scare the shit out of them, despite her reassurance that she was okay. She couldn't help but think that it almost sounded as if she were saying goodbye because she didn't think she'd see them again, and in reality, she had to admit, she might not, despite her desire not to die. She was about to do something incredibly stupid, something that she'd be doing without any sort of other-worldly protection to keep her alive if she got in over her head.
A few moments of quiet later and she was heading back into her private bathroom to shower and change into a pair of spare clothes she always kept in the office. A half hour later she was making reservations for a train trip to the shrine and filling her morning clerk and her assistant manager, who had just arrived, in on what she wanted them to do in her absence. Once she was done, she gathered up her belongings, including her katana which was now in a special carrying case that she kept at the store, and headed for the train station.
The room was so quiet a pin could have been heard hitting the table, and for that, the room's occupant was grateful. Nightmares and dreams full of memories from a lifetime before had plagued him after his fight on the street with the five unknown assailants. Sighing happily, Tommy felt himself sinking back into a hopefully dreamless sleep when all of a sudden a hauntingly familiar melody began to issue from his cell phone. He threw a pillow over his head and tried to ignore it, but the more the phone rang, the more the song played, the angrier he got. He cursed under his breath, making a mental note to lecture Hayley about going along with Jason's hair-brained idea to have her and Billy put the damn song he'd used to summon the Dragon Zord in as his ring tone. "FINE! I'M UP!" he hollered at the phone, as if it were a live object before he snatched it off the nightstand and opened it. "WHAT THE HELL DO YOU WANT?"
"Hello to you too," Jason's voice sounded across the line.
Tommy, even in his irritated state, picked up immediately on the tone of his best friend's voice. "What's wrong? Who's hurt?"
"I got a phone call an hour or so ago, but Kat and I were outside in the garage and didn't hear the phone ring."
Sighing, Tommy sat back against the headboard. "Who was it?"
"Jason, WHO was it?" The dread was coiling in his stomach to the point that he had the eerie feeling he knew why Jason was stalling in telling him.
Tommy swallowed the lump in his throat and took several deep breaths. His mind argued that what happened last night was just a coincidence and that it had nothing to do with her. His heart told him otherwise. "Is she alright?"
"I don't know," Jason answered. "She said she'd run into some trouble last night, but that she was okay for the time being. Said she'd call back later, but she also mentioned she'd be out of contact for a while. I'm worried."
"She's a big girl, Jason. If she's going to be out of contact for a while, you've got to accept that. It's not the first time you've gone a while without hearing from her," Tommy pointed out, hoping to get Jason to believe what he was saying even though he didn't believe himself.
"Tommy, you didn't hear the tremor in her voice," Jason whispered. "I don't like the way she sounded, like she was terrified but trying to hide it. I had Aisha listen to the message, and you should have seen the look I got from her."
The former Ranger leader swallowed. "What do you mean?"
"Aisha said she could only remember one other time when she'd heard Kim sound the way she did."
"When Kim lost the power." Tommy's stomach completely dropped out on him even as his mind replayed the night before, the remembrance of the power that had shocked him upon touching the crater in the street rushing back. Now he realized where he'd felt that power before. "Tommy?"
Grabbing the pad of paper and pen from the nightstand drawer, Tommy sighed. "Give me Kim's address; I'll see if my guide can take me over there after breakfast." Dutifully, Tommy scribbled down the address as Jason recited it to him, hoping he'd spelt it all right since he wasn't use to Japanese addresses. "Feel any better?"
"I won't feel better until I know she's okay. Thank you for taking the time to go over there," Jason uttered.
"Yeah, well, just remember that when she decides to give me a tongue lashing for showing up unexpectedly. I'll call you later."
"Yeah, thanks. Be careful, Bro."
"I will." Hanging up the phone, Tommy stared at the piece of paper he'd just written on, his mind rushing through a thousand different scenarios, each one worse than the last. With a sigh, he got up and began dressing for the day.
"That address is in the building across the street," Motoki pointed out to Tommy the building where he'd seen the glowing figure the night before, as well as the five warriors.
He pinched the bridge of his nose and closed his eyes, a headache welling at his temples. He should have known better than to think it was just his imagination the night before, especially when he'd tripped over the stupid sword sitting in his room. Opening his eyes, he saw the police cruisers sitting in front of the building and somehow instinctively knew they were checking out Kim or her apartment. "Motoki-san, I think you'd better come up with me, just in case I need a translator."
The Japanese man nodded and followed Tommy into the building. Quietly, they took the elevator to the tenth floor and got off before Motoki directed Tommy in the direction of the address on the slip of paper in his hand. When they got to Kim's door, it was cordoned off by police tape. 'What the hell is going on, Kim?' Tommy thought to himself even as Motoki moved forward to speak to the police detective, to explain who they were.
"Dr. Oliver, my name is Detective Sato," the man introduced himself with a bow.
Tommy returned the bow, as was custom, and watched as the man stood. "Did Motoki-san explain why we came looking for her, Detective?"
"I received a phone call from a mutual friend of ours, someone who is like her brother, and he said he'd gotten a frantic phone call from her this morning."
The detective nodded and wrote everything down. "We have detectives heading downtown to her shop, we will find her before the day is over."
Tommy let out an amused laugh, which had the detective eyeing him. "Detective Sato, you won't find Kimberly if she doesn't want to be found, trust me on that. I've known her long enough to know that if she doesn't want to be bothered, she won't be. My friend seemed to think she was in trouble, the first thing she'd do would be to regroup, somewhere safe."
"Can you think of anywhere she'd go?"
"No, but I can give you my friend's phone number, he's kept in better contact over the years with her than I have," Tommy told him, taking a piece of paper from the detective and writing down Jason's name and number. "Tell him Tommy told you to call him." With that, Tommy and Motoki bowed to the man before turning and walking away. As they made their way down the hall, Tommy felt the anger welling inside of him. He'd gotten a good enough glimpse of Kim's apartment from the door to know that those things had attacked her in her own home before she'd fled for safety. The sudden welling of protectiveness took him by surprise, but only momentarily; when he found whoever had hurt her, he vowed, he was going to kick their asses into the next century.
With a sigh, Kimberly shifted in her seat as the two hour trip from Tokyo to Nagoya began to come to an end. She hadn't called ahead to let Master Tama know she was coming, but she knew she didn't need to. He'd know, just as Master Ito had always known when she was coming back to her first home in Japan.
When the train stopped, she got up and grabbed her things before heading for a taxi. Normally, she'd have taken her time and enjoyed the trip from the train station to the shrine, but today, she didn't have the luxury. Things were happening that were beyond her control, and she knew she had a limited time to prepare herself. Hailing a cab, she allowed the driver to place her things in the trunk while she got in.
"Where to Miss?" he absently asked.
With a nod, the cabbie sped off for the shrine. In no time, they pulled up to the grounds and Kimberly quickly paid the driver before getting out, grabbing her stuff and rushing into the Shrine grounds.
One of the priests at the gates recognized her and was about to say something to her. "I need to see Master Tama, it's urgent," she told him in rapid fire Japanese as he nodded and motioned for her to follow him. They quickly headed into the shrine in search of their query.
They found Master Tama in one of the many gardens. "Mana-zuru," he greeted.
Kimberly bowed to him and when she stood up, she looked him in the eye. "I need your help."
He nodded and motioned for her to follow him. "Tell me."
She had to blink to adjust her eyes to the low lighting in the room, which came from only two sources – candles that lined the walk and the large fire at the front of the room. After she'd explained the last few days to Master Tama, he'd silently led her to a room at the heart of the shrine, hidden from the eyes of the public and from most of the priests. They'd entered the room and he'd carefully made sure no one followed them before shutting the doors. He motioned for her to follow him, before making her stand at the end of the rows of candles while he moved toward an altar at the front, near the fire, that held a long sword.
"This belonged to Master Ito," he spoke softly, lifting the elegant katana gently from its perch. "He wanted you to have it, when your time to guard the treasures came to pass. Take the sword with you; use it to protect yourself, and the Imperial Regalia."
Kimberly sat on her knees, her hands lifting to accept the sword that he gently placed in her care. Her eyes were drawn to the sword with it's beautifully carved handle where a crane, a falcon and a wolf stood out proudly, and to the long, elegant blade that also bore engraved markings; she couldn't decipher the symbols, but for some reason, she had the sinking feeling that she probably wouldn't be able to, they didn't look like any she'd ever seen in a book.
"And deadly, in the proper hands," he finished. "You are ready, Mana-zuru, there is nothing more I can do to prepare you. This final battle, if you will, is in your hands."
"But where to first? How do I even begin to search for them?"
His face was serene, not a hint of emotion played across his features as he spoke to her, "You must understand their power, and their purpose, before you can ever hope to find them, or wield them."
"But you said they're all here in Japan," she pointed out.
Master Tama gave her a look. "Indeed they are, but as I said, to use them, to find them, you must understand them. Go to Cairo; a professor of Japanese myths and legends is working on a project with her Egyptian counterpart there. She'll be able to tell you any information you must know surrounding their locations."
Blowing out a deep breath, Kimberly nodded. "I need to get in touch with my contact, and have him arrange for my transportation."
"The shrine's facilities are at your disposal, Mana-zuru."
Issuing a surprised whistle when she stepped from the limo onto the tarmac of the airport in Tokyo, Kimberly couldn't help but feel a little overwhelmed by the Baron and his desire for the Regalia. Part of her felt slightly guilty for using him and his resources to find the pieces, but she knew, in her heart, that she would not surrender them to him when they were finally all together. If what Master Tama had said was true, they'd be used in keeping the Earth and its people safe, not locked up in some crazy fool's private collection. Of course, she knew that at some point she was going to need an escape plan, and on the long flight to Cairo she was going to come up with one.
"The other members of your team are already waiting on board," the driver told her as he carried her bags toward the plane, where a man stood at the base of the stairs that led up into the private jet.
"Welcome Ms. Hart, to the Zephyr Foundation's Falcon 900EX," the man who took her bags from the driver. "I'm Carlton, the flight attendant. If you'll follow me, we'll get you settled and you can meet the rest of your team."
Kim nodded and followed him up the staircase. When she got inside, she let out another nice whistle at the interior. "Nice."
"Ms. Hart, allow me to introduce Cameron, your translator; Simon, the security specialist, and Trask, you're all around pack mule for the mission," Carlton announced, pointing out the three men who were in various positions around the cabin. "And the final member of your team is coming back from the bathroom now. Allow me introduce Dr….."
"Tommy?" Kim gasped, her eyes taking in her long time friend in shock.
Carlton grinned. "I take it you two know each other?"
Kim just nodded, her eyes still boring into Tommy's. "What the hell are you doing here?" she muttered.
"Working, you?" Tommy asked in the same annoyed tone.
The two of them simply stared at one another, wondering just what in the hell was happening. "Okay boys, and of course the beautiful Ms. Hart," Carlton announced, never noticing Tommy or Kim's flinches. "Captain says it's time to sit down, get comfortable. It's going to be a sixteen hour trip, since we'll have to stop and refuel."
Jaws clenched, the pair sat down on opposite ends of the cabin, both lost in their own thoughts of why they were on the plane together and neither liking the answers they came up with.
The heavens bled God's tears in the form of a raging storm. Even in the rain-drenched back alleyways of Tokyo, a tall, menacing figure in black stalked toward his destination. With his team decimated, their loss had no effect on him. They were but foot soldiers, dispensable in the search for the artifacts. Their deaths…the deaths of anyone…nothing was above sacrificing to retrieve the artifacts. His reconnaissance mission was a total success. The information gathered would be an invaluable asset in his search for the artifacts.
His red glowing eyes were dead set on the ancient, crumbling ruins of what once had been a prison where Japan's worst murders, rapists, child killers and thieves had been sentenced to spend the rest of their natural lives, only to be executed for their crimes. The evil that radiated off the walls had drawn his master to this place; it had reeked of the same power that their home world had.
Despite the howling of the wind and the lashing of the rain against his body, he pushed forward, entering the darkened ruins. The second he stepped foot inside, a fierce, echoing howl rose up, swirling around him. The stench of rotting flesh and the soul-shaking screams of pain echoed up around him. Any normal person would have fled under such conditions; not him. He was a member of the Shadow; he did not cowl in fear or run from death. With purpose, he strode toward a secret opening and fled into the bowels of the prison.
The drenching wetness of the rain had stopped the second he entered the tunnels below the prison. The Shadows had come to Earth in search of what was now known as the Imperial Regalia of Japan, so his master had naturally set up their stronghold in the bowels of Japan's capital city. For more than a year now they'd been working toward building their army, strengthening their defenses, and getting use to Earth. Agents had been sent here over the last several thousand years, ever since the artifacts had been taken by their guardian and hidden on this remote, cluttered world with its insignificant inhabitants. Now, it seemed as if the planets and stars were aligning.
He strode down the deep, dank corridors with purpose, his eyes taking in those around him. Members of the Shadow trained in combat before their team leaders with weapons, hand to hand, and those few special groups with secondary powers. He nodded his approval to many of the trainers as he strode past them, his steps carrying him to the room at the farthest end of the corridor. He stood before the door, reached out a hand, and pulled the rope, causing the bell inside to chime. The door swung open, allowing him entrance.
Once inside, he bowed deeply before his master. Dressed in black with purple and green swirling across his armored uniform, his muscular frame was taller than all of his minions. The mask he wore showed only his red glowing eyes, and ever so often smoke would billow out from within. "Report."
"Success. She fled, after putting up a decent fight," he grinned beneath his mask.
"And the man?" his Master's voice boomed as his red eyes bore into his servant's soul.
Standing, he began his report. "He attempted to take me on, but I came back before he could. He possesses great skill."
"And their identities?"
"Two of the Eltarian Wizard's whelps, now nearly powerless."
"Nearly?" came the question.
He nodded. "I sensed a connection to the Universal Morphin' Grid, barely there, certainly not enough to help them, and something else."
Blood red eyes narrowed in anger. "Ninjetti? They are extinct."
He shook his head. "Master, I am the last of us, besides yourself, to have felt that power. I know it intimately. They possess a link to the Ninjetti. How, I cannot say, but they do."
His face went grim. "On Earth, as we speak. He has finally come out from hiding. Both the male and female are working for him, for now."
"No doubt he has tricked them, but soon enough, they will discover his treachery, and they will be ripe for the picking. Leave me."
With another deep bow, he carefully backed from the room.