IRIA: The Soul of Silence

Special Edition

An "IRIA: Zeiram the Animation" Fan Fiction

Written by: RisingSunKM (Formally Kris-Sama!!)

-- - -

Prologue: Awakenings

The sky was dark as the night had rolled over the barren land. A sheet of gray clouds covered the dark sky, to were not even the closest star from the closest system could pierce it's barrier. The ground was nothing more than thick layers of dirt piled atop one another and stretched endlessly across the planet's surface. Through scattered patches of fog that accumulated from small bodies of muddy water, a few trees had sprouted from the surface but had long since dried away. Nothing more than slender, jagged branch figures scattered across the earth. This was a desolate place, a musk of inhabitancy about the region. It had seemed that life could not be conceivable in this place.

Suddenly, from a distance, two bright beams of light pierced through the dark fog. Soft footsteps trudged through the soily earth, stamping and snapping dead trigs and moss. With each step, there was a brief clatter of a metallic material. Armor, it seemed. One of these lights appeared to be a few steps ahead of the other one, it's beam slowly scanning the area thoroughly. It suddenly stopped bobbing up and down with each step that followed behind it and setting at one spot. The farther light ceased moving as well and shined on the source of it's peer, partially silhouetting a figure that seemed to be draped in some sort of coat or cloak.

"Well, anything...?" the closer voice asked softly. The voice was of a middle-aged man, raspy yet upbeat at the same time. The man briefly swinging his beam over to the other as he asked his question, revealing another male figure that was slimmer in build, but the short graze of the light hardly did the athletic frame justice.

With a soft clicking sound breaking through the stillness of the night a small green circle illuminated a few feet above the farther flashlight's bulb. I then shifted downward a few inches and rest over the other the other's man eye. The skin and orb under the circular lens basked in it's faint green glow. The eye, young and cold stared through it's lens as small digital readings reflected off it surface as he looked around the bare place the two inhabited.

"...there's no readings," the other man answered. His tone of voice reflecting that of his eyes. It was the voice of a younger man, maybe in his late teens. It was a low voice, almost sorrowful. Chilling, but with a certain wiseness beyond his years. "There's nothing here..." the young man added. With another clicking sound, the green lens moved back to it's original position and back into the darkness.

The older man signed to himself softly, moving his beam of light over a few dead trees before he let the beam fall to the dirty ground. "...Figures." The man's voice grew louder after learning that the two were alone. Perhaps he lost his sense of caution upon learning he and his counterpart we the only two around. "Let's set up shelter some somewhere 'round here. We ain't gettin' anywhere, 'specially in this dark."

"Why not go back to the Kreeper if there's nothing here." The younger voice responded, with a hint of confusion backing his words....and a little defiance.

"Nah, you should know better than that, kid," the older man scoffed. "We have to follow out with our contract. We, should be able to find something in the morning." The older voice grumbled to himself softly, as the beam of light abnormally moved upward and pointed backwards. It moved up and down rather quickly. The man was scratching at his head it seemed. "...and leave it to Tedan Tippedai to book us shitty Transit times. It's pitch black..."

"And you expecting anything else...?" the young one's soft, cold words weren't exactly reassuring for the older man.

The man chuckled nervously. "Ah-ha... yeah, well..." He waved his flash light over to his left, between two of the jagged, finger-like trees. "Just set up camp over there by those...things," he apparently he couldn't tell what they were. "I'll go find something to make a fire with. Now, hop to it..."

Without another word, the farther beam swung to the side and aimed at the ground in front of it's young keeper.

-- - -

Two tents were set up adjacent to each other in between the two trees. The two tents were both roughly made, by hand it seemed, out of long sheet of some animal hide. The way they were set up was is if make a little fortification with the two trees perpendicular to the two tents, each with their entrances facing each other. This bland planet apparently had enough resources and dead wood to provide a decent fire, which set in the middle of the cross and brilliantly lit the darkened area. It was a stark contrast that the planet probably wasn't even used to.

Gazing into the fire from one end of the crossed pattern was a teenager who sitting against the trunk of one of the trees, a few feet from the crackling flames.

The young man wore a black body suit that displayed his young, athletic form prominently and it reached up to halfway cuff and surround his neck. Over this body suit sat a metallic armor made from durable, stretchable, silver colored alloy. A thick, black piping surrounded the edges of the armored plates and served as a type of graft that connected them to the black suit. The armor covered his chest entirely, as well as his waist, arms, and legs, each with a seamless style that was simple yet somehow ornate quality to them. On his legs, he wore calve-high boots of the same silver material, and his feet were stretched out and crossed over each other, ankle-to-ankle, in a relaxed position. Both of his wrists and forearms had slightly bulky armaments that wrapped and shielded all the way round his arms and over the tops of his hands. Both hands were covered in a pair of padded, black gloves, smooth in texture. Like his leg, these armored arms, too, were folded across his chest. An entire body encased on black and silver shell. In fact, the face and eyes that continue to stare into the flames held the only visible patch of skin on him.

The young man had the darkest of brown hair framed a face of tanned amber skin, shoulder length and a few medium-sized bangs falling in front of his eyes. Tucked away behind his left ear were 5 hairbeads, each red and black in color, that varied in many different shapes, lengths and designs. He wore an ornate, thin choker around his neck with a small pendant handing underneath. But it was his piercing eyes that stood out as the prominent feature on his young face. They were a deep, brilliant green hue that almost seemed to glow on they're own. But there was something different about his eyes; something that seemed the total opposite of his relaxed sitting position. As the radiant flames that he gazed into glittered and reflected off of his green orbs, a stark coldness overtook his eye's lack of emotion. Just a stare; icy and unwavering.

A soft, musty breeze blew through the camp, making the pendent he wore around his neck clink softly against the top of his armor. The purplish trinket was a half Ying-Yang shaped object with three small, glimmering jewels embedded onto it. It was the sign this young man was a Hunter of Mycian origin; an apprentice, as deemed by it's color. The apprentice's nose crinkled briefly at first whiff of the stench the gust carried, but he still starred blankly into the campfire, motionless and quiet.

"Hey!" That older voice called from inside one of the tents, as he rustled around inside of it. The apprentice's green eyes moved from the fire and over to the tent briefly at the call, before going back to the dancing flames. "I thought I sent you out for better rations before we left?"

The other man unfastened the entry flap of his tent and crawled out grumbling to himself. He was obviously much older than the young man by the tree. Short, scruffy salt and pepper hair topped head. It stood in a spiked, unkempt mess above a gray bandana that covered his forehead completely. It seemed like the man hadn't been shaved in days, which easily made him look older than he probably actually was, but he still had atleast twenty or thirty years on the young man. He too had a Hunter's licensee draped around his neck, but this one was black with five jewels instead. He had a bulky, ridged build to his body. Obviously, as a Hunter, he should be wearing some type of armor, similar to that of the apprentice, but he concealed all behind by an old, tattered black trench coat that he kept buttoned up. The only real thing, other than his pendent, that made him stand out as any kind of warrior were the two, full length katanas that were sheathed at his waist. He continued to crawl over to the tree opposite the apprentice and rested his back against it.

"Hey, kid? Ya' gonna eat any of this garbage...?" The older man called over to the younger one, offering him what appeared to be some kind of alien, worm-like insect to him. The dead insect obviously grossed the older man out, otherwise he wouldn't complain about it and defiantly wouldn't eat it if it wasn't the standard meal for Mycian emergency rations. "Huh, Kaz...?" he asked again. But the young man didn't answer him. He still just sat there staring into the fire unfazed by the other man words. The older man's brow furrowed, having grown used to such reactions from his apprentice, or lack there of.

"Yo? Kazon?! Ya' over there? Ya' want some of this...?" The man asked again, holding the ration item out towards the young man.

The young man named Kazon Locke, or just Kaz as the older man called him, looked up and over the fire to his companion. He had always hated it when his instructor referred to him as simply 'Kaz', but there was nothing he could do to stop him from doing so, or anybody for that matter. It was almost as if it was the automatic thing to do. His dark green eyes blinked once before he slowly shook his head from side to side. "...I'm not hungry, Ouspi..."

"...I don't blame ya'," the aged Hunter Ouspi said as he withdrew his hand full of bug took a bite out of it's side, "this stuff tastes worse than my cooking!" he added with a mouthful.

Kazon had continued to watch his instructor from the other side of the campfire. He also hated being called 'kid', but yet another thing that he couldn't help. He watched as Ouspi slowly chewed down on the meat of the creature ... well, if it even was 'meat', Kazon though. A horrible expression flushed over the man's scruffy face and turned a pale color at the bitter, disgusting taste of the insect. Ouspi was quick to spit the nasty wad of 'food' out of his mouth and into the camp fire. Kazon face grimaced slightly at the sight.

Ouspi coughed a bit, rubbing his tongue with his gloved had in an attempt to get the foul taste from his mouth. He tossed a joking grin across the campfire over too his apprentice "Man..." he coughed again, tossing the remains of the insect aside, "It sucks you didn't find any water holes around here..."

Kazon stared at Ouspi for a moment, silently. Then, totally disregarding his instructor, lowered his gaze back to the fire.

Ouspi slouched against the trunk of the tree, defeated. "Ah, come on, Kaz! Lighten up! Five years I've known you, and hardly even a peep outta' ya!" Ouspi grinned again waved his hand in the air nonchalantly. "How ya' ever gonna get a nice lookin' girl actin' all boo-hoo'ey all the time huh?" He added with a laugh. But Kazon did nothing. He still just sat there.

Ouspi and Kazon had many one-sided conversations like this in the past. Countless amounts, each with the same result. Ouspi could never recall a time when Kazon very outspoken, his thoughts had always been reserved for himself. And even after taking him under his wing and teaching him his profession, he never exactly found out why his apprentice acted like he did and he knew that Kazon probably wasn't going to tell him either. After all, Ouspi could remember how uncomfortable it made him feel when he got nothing in return from Kazon. But since, he had kind of grown used to it and even jokes about it even though it fell on deaf ears with his apprentice...but it still bugged him that there he was: this bright, talented young man that he was carving into his replacement, and the kid that he had grown so attached too over the years, and he could hardly get a peep out of him about anything other than the job....

"Ouspi?" Kazon called from across the flames. It had snapped his instructor out of his daze. Kazon knew that when his instructor well enough to know that went Ouspi fell silent around him that he was usually thinking about how to handle him. It wasn't something that Kazon felt was necessary. Ouspi was in charge, he doesn't need to be deep in thought about with about him when there's job to be done. So he was always there to put things back into focus, like he was doing, gaining the old man's attention. "What's so interesting to Tedan Tippedai about this place?" he asked, but his eye never left the fire. "Aren't surveys supposed to left to science teams...?"

Ouspi shrugged his shoulders as he rest his hands behind his head, his fingers locking together. "Maybe they though there was something dangerous out here? Who knows? It's getting harder to trust much of anybody these days, yanno'?" There was a brief and uneasy silence, Kazon didn't respond. Ouspi could tell that the thought, for some reason, upset Kazon, though his apprentice wouldn't jump to express it. Ouspi cocked his head over to the side and looked out to what he could see of the wasteland, deciding to change the subject. "But since there's nothing out here, I'd say it's easy money. Just follow the contract and can get much more and a bag of space bugs to eat." He was joking, of course.

Another long silence fell over the campsite. Kazon glanced up to Ouspi once more, watching him as he continue to stare out at they're surroundings. Kazon had another thing he'd been meaning to ask him...or rather tell him.

"...I'm going try out your Borobdin when we get back." Kazon said, it came out as more of a demand than anything else.

"What?!" Ouspi shouted, his eyes bulging as he looked back over to Kazon. If he had been any more surprised he would have jumped into the fire by accident. Perhaps he was luck that he had stopped eating that terrible bug or else he'd have choked. "The B-b-borobdin?! Kid, you know you have to have Administration's permission to use one of those! You're just an apprentice, Kaz! And you don't have the experi--"

"Experience...?" Kazon said interrupted, finishing his word for him. His eyes took on that cold stare that Ouspi had grown to hate from his apprentice, and he found it strange that stare so cold could burn a through him just as much as their campfire could if he stuck his hand in it. "Wasn't it you that said I was better than half the Hunter's on roll now?" Kazon made his case.

"You're just to young, kid. Give it some time." Ouspi said, trying to end the conversation at that, though he knew it would just add fuel to Kazon's fire. He had always forgotten to think before he spoke when it came to Kazon.

Kazon's eye narrowed slightly, unnoticeable to Ouspi from across the campsite. "Gren was just licensed today and he can use one. He's barely older than I am." Kazon's lip curled in disdain. "Besides, you don't even use it...."

"True..." Ouspi responded gave Kazon that point, although he couldn't help but feel uneasy with his apprentice staring him down like he was. Ouspi had always preferred a good strong blade to firearms any day. He hardly ever carried guns on jobs when they weren't required, such as a job they were on. He had tried to lead Kazon along the same path as he, though his apprentice would hardly listen about such primitive thoughts. "...but look, I know you're good; every bit as good as Gren. Just 'cause I'm biased, I'd say you're better than him." One of Ouspi's hands moved to his black Hunter's pendant. "The only reason you're not up for early licensing is because of me. We've been through it before about me being blacklisted and you having to pay for it as my apprentice." He let the pendant drop down to his chest and he struck a grin. "And I'm getting to old for this type of thing, anyway. And you'll be eighteen when? Next week, is it?" Kazon only answered with a short nod. "Where there you go! Then you can have all the Borobdins and guns you could dream of and you can send me off to the ol' folks home in peace."

Naturally, Kazon didn't laugh at the joke. Not that Ouspi was expecting him too.

"But you're still my apprentice," Ouspi added, trying to sound serious enough to get through to the young man. "What I say goes. Understood...?"

"...whatever." Kazon said quietly to himself under his breath, finally taking his eyes from Ouspi and back to the fire.

"Good," the Hunter said with a deep sign...more thankful that that look of Kaz's was gone more so than getting out of the conversation. "I'm gonna turn in. There was a mud hole a few hundred yards east of here. So go get that soil sample before we forget about. Then get some sleep..."

...right." Kazon said somewhat sarcastically, but still kept the same soft, low tone of voice. "All of this kiddy biology work, I won't need to be a Hunter." His arms unfolded from his chest then he pushed himself from the ground and brushed himself off. "I'll know enough to teach at least one or two chapters in science class...."

Ouspi chuckled jokingly as he shook his head and began crawling back towards his tent. "Too bad you're about as good with children as you are with everyone else."

"Tch..." Kazon scoffed to himself passed his instructor, picked up a cloth sack from beside his tent, and headed away from camp. Ouspi was joking again of course. Kazon was upset because that was always Ouspi's retort for his own sarcastic whims.

Ouspi stopped and removed his trench coat before he got to his tent. As he unfastened each button down the coat's length, Ouspi had watched Kazon disappear into the dark from him from the corner of his eye. He could do nothing but shake his head solemnly. He thought to himself, removing his coat ands tossing it back over back over to the tree, skillfully aimed to where the collar had caught on a protruding knot, a kind of makeshift rack. Ouspi and pushed aside the tent's entry flap and crawled inside.

"Lighten up kid..."

-- - -

Kazon had left his flashlight at camp since we wasn't going that far. As long as he could see the campfire, he though, he'd wouldn't need any other light or his other tools. All the had with him was his pistol, witch never left his belt's holster. Ouspi had always joked about how he'd sleep with it if he could. The fight through the darkness of the night wasn't very painful as he made it to the mud hole Ouspi mentioned without much trouble. He crouched down and set the cloth sack on the ground in front of him. He looked over his shoulder to see that the camp site in the distance. He had to venture out little farther than he first though, but it wasn't totally unmanageable. He turned his attention back to the bag and pulled the string around it brim off to open it. He pulled a small glass container from a pouch on his belt and unscrewed the cap. He began to scoop small portions of the muddy soil and with the container.

"Science work..." Kazonsaid to himself with disdain as he screwed the cap back on tight and stood up. "Doubt we even get paid..."

Just as he bent back over to pick up the little bag, he heard footsteps behind him. Kazon dropped the soil container and his hand quickly moved to his holstered pistol, his body instinctively crouching into a defensive position. He turn around quickly in the process, hoping that it was just Ouspi, coming to tell him something that he might had forgotten. But oddly, there was no one there. No one behind him. Nothing but the campfire burning of in the distance.

"..--the hell...?" Kazon faced flushed with confusion as he scanned the area with his eyes looking out for anything that might be around. He eased off the grip he had on the hilt of his pistol very slowly as he could see that it was just him out here in the middle of no where. "I'm losing it..." He though to himself, shaking off the thought. He let out a sigh and turn back around and bent back over to pick up the bag and container of mud.

Yet, when he turned back around to head to camp, before he could even put the container back into the pouch he looked up and was startled by a what appeared to be a flash of red light. It seemed like a flash atleast, his eyes were playing tricks on him in the darkness of the night. Maybe there was no flash but indeed there was a solid glowing red line that stood between him and the campsite. The campsite. He couldn't even see the campsite anymore. This thing...was in his line of site. The faint glow that was given of the by the campfire that could be seen from here silhouetted a mammoth form that towered over Kazon's average height easily. The image was covered in tattered rags and capes that bellowed slightly in the musky breeze.

Kazon stood completely still save from the trembling in his hand and legs. He dropped both the cloth bag and glass container his hand's shook so. All he could find himself able to do was stare into that glowing red line that crossed what seemed like this creature's head hidden below his disc shaped helmet it atop it. Then he realized that this thing was but a few feet away from him

"Wha--...?" Kazon stammered in disbelief as the fear began to swell inside of him. He could feel the sweat begin to steam down his face. He took a step backwards, into the mud hole. "You're---...!!"

Then the monster gave out a deafening shriek and out of from the silhouette burst a a small, white fanged face no bigger than Kazon's fist. It lunged forward toward Kazon from the top of the discus-like head, snarling and drooling. Kazon's eyes widened in fear as he came face to face with the screaming, terrifying face. The best he could do in the little time he had was bring his right arm up to shield his face. He was lucky, but unfortunate at the same time, that it didn't bite at his face. Instead the monster was able to latch on to an open place on his arm that was not covered in armor and dug it's teeth through the black body suit and into Kazon's flesh. The young apprentice cried out in pain and quickly punched the pink, fleshy stalk that connected the white face with the rest of the monster's body with his other fist. The face let out a cry just as Kazon did and retracted.

Kazon clutched his bitten arm. He could feel the wetness of his blood seep through his glove and onto his bare hand. The fangs had cut deep into his arm on both sides and he was lucky enough to just have that. The mere shock of the situation had been enough to knock the breath out of him. "You're---..." he repeated again, but before he could finish, he looked from from his arm to see that the main body was stalking closer to him. That glowing red line faintly flashed...this time, plainly for Kazon to see.

"Ouspi!" Kazon finally screamed towards camp, frightened. At the same time, he pulled his pistol from it's holster with his left hand. He tried to aim a shot directly at that glowing red line that seemed to have been taunting him hoping he could kill it with a well placed shot. Before he could even get his finger to the trigger, he was cut off by a large, powerful fist that came upwards in motion, catching him under his chin and send him flying backwards into the mud. His gloved hand was so slippery from the moist blood that coated it from his already wounded arm that the pistol slipped from his grip and fell into the mud and began to it to sink through the surface.

Kazon landed on his back in the mud hard, the thick crud splashing around him as he collided with the ground. The blow had him reeling to be sure, but he managed to clinch he teeth together and roll over to his stomach. He turned around and looked back up to the monster through his mud covered hair. It had picked up it's pace and was heading right towards him again.

"Ah, shi--..." Kazon stopped himself though as he looked and saw his gun, steadily sinking into the mud just beyond the monster's feet. He looked back up at the monster as it got closer and closer to him. Kazon had seemed to had forgotten that his arm had nearly been bitten in two; he cupped both of his gloved hands into the mud and slinging a large pile of it right into that glowing red line head and that even more horrifying white face above it. The monster briefly set back, growling in anger, enough time for Kazon to roll through the beast's legs through the mud. The mud cause him to slip and slide, and he fell on his right arm, the sharp pain that shot through it reminding him of what the monster had done earlier. He winced as he forced himself to his knees and frantically scoured the thick puddle in search of his pistol. He sift though the mud with his fingers, hoping he could find it before the giant could recover from his trickery.

"Ouspi!!" he screamed again towards and he continued rummage through the mud. Where was he, Kazon thought? Why wasn't he coming to help him?

The monster persistence was too much for Kazon. It wildly and blindly slung it's body around to face him. Kazon was forced to stop his search for his weapon and quickly roll out of the way of a blind punch stomp from the angry monster's oversized foot. Kazon rolled into a crouched position with knee planted on the ground. He still clenched his wounded arm in pain as the blood continued to flow from the numerous teeth marks the little white face had left. The good news, as Kazon discovered, was that he wasn't in the mud hole anymore, but rather on the solid dirt that covered the trail he walked before. Those dark green eyes narrowed though his heavy breathing; this was his opening. As the monster continued to angrily wipe the mud from it's face, Kazon pushed himself from the ground with his good arm and charged at the monster at full speed. He let out a short, loud yell as he leaped gracefully into the air and extended one leg directly in front of him.

The monster had cleared that eerie red line across it's face from the mud with one last scrap of it's clawed hand. It looked up to see the heel of Kazon's boot bearing closer to it's face. It gave off another faint flash of that glowing red line as it reached up with a powerful hand just as the apprentice's foot neared it's face. The hand grabbed Kazon's ankle and with a fluid motion it swung Kazon by his leg over it's head slammed his entire body back down into the mud beneath them. Kazon's tried to scream out loud, anything, but his voice was muffled as his face buried into the thick puddle. He could feel his strength slowly leave his body and as he felt the monster grip on his ankle loosen and hear it give out an approving snarl, he lost himself in his weakness.

-- - -

It had rained a little since dawn had broke. The falling rain had made th entire area surrounding the mud hole it's equal as the planet was nothing but dirt to start with. A few beams of light from the planet's small sun had broken through gaps in the thick sheet of clouds. The radiant beam cascaded down to the spot on the mud hole where Kazon Locke laid motionless. Half of his face was buried beneath the mud but the light had managed to pass over his free eye. The brief feeling of warmth him to stir back to life it seemed, and he slightly trembled one open. For whatever reason it had, the monster had left him untouched after it's attack, he had noticed, but the headache he had it certainly didn't feel like it. The images of his encounter rushed through his mind, trying to recall everything that happened in that brief scuffle with his assailant.

He slid his left hand over the surface of the mud to his face. He pushed down hard, the mud sleeping between his fingers, trying to push his head from the mud. He realized that his mouth had been partially hidden beneath the mud when he let out a gasp and a cough for air. Or maybe he just hurt that much that he need the extra air. His wounded right arm had done the same as the other, only a bit more slower in speed, and managed to push his upper body from the puddle, bring his knees under him, and rest back on his heels. A sharp pain shot up his back as he let his arms fall down to his side but he could do nothing to help it he thought.

He flung his head back to his slouched shoulders and closed his eyes. He could feel the moistness in the air against his face, the side not covered in mud that is. He reached up and wiped in face with a gloved hand and then opened his eyes again. The sky seemed blurry to him, blurry and dark. The monster had obvious knocked him silly to the point of his vision gone cloudy. His remembered the thoughts of his ill-formulated attack. Kazon was quick, but the monster was quicker and simply tossed him around like a rag.

"That..." he mumbled between breaths, "...that was..." he could do nothing but repeat himself yet again. His head then hung low. Millions of thoughts began to swirl in his mind over what could have cause this to happen, or what he could have done to end it. But no, he though, he couldn't have beaten that thing he realized. Not even if he had an extra set of hands.

"Wait-..." his eyes shot open in sudden realization. He was an apprentice, he always had an extra hand. But this time they never showed up to save him. "Ouspi...!!"

Kazon shot up from the muddy puddle and stood to his feet. He still couldn't see very well but he wasn't going to let that stop from getting out of here. Off in the distance, he barely made out their campsite just before the horizon. The weary Kazon started to stumble out of the mud and hurriedly felt his way back to the camp.

The closer and closer he got to the site, the more his vision had returned to him though his head was still pounding. His aching limbs barely kept up with him as he nearly tripped over his own feet a few times along the way. He could see that the fire had been extinguished, either by the rain storm or....something else. One of the tents had also been knocked down. His tent. Also the closer he got to the to the camp the stench in the air grew heaver and heaver and much more potent than the wet dirt that surrounded him.

"Ouspi...?" the confused apprentice called out as he cautiously stepped within the cross they had designed with the tents and trees. He didn't receive an answer. Kazon the tree that he had sat across from the night before to support himself, rest his left hand against it's trunk. His tent had seemed to have collapsed, perhaps from the storm, but there was no way of him knowing. He couldn't hear Ouspi's usually obnoxious snoring from within his tent either. He went to take another step closer to the tents but his legs suddenly gave way beneath him. He managed to catch himself this his good arm and his knees before totally landing back in the wet soil. He looked back to see that he had fallen but tripped. Tripped over a crumpled wad of leather that lay on the ground at the base of the tree's trunk. "His coat..." Kazon mumbled, his eyes squinting slightly due to his blurry vision acting up on him again. He planted his hand down on the ground to push himself back to his feet, but something pushed against the leather palm of Kazon's glove. It was like he had planted down on a rock and he quickly jerked his hand back...only to gasp in terror as to what he found underneath.

It wasn't a rock at all, but a smooth, brass colored cylinder. Hollow. "Shells...?" Kazon said aloud. Bullet shells, to be exact. He gave the patch of dirt in front of Ouspi's tent a harder look, half-crawling closer and closer to the structure. Another one, he found. And another....

His breathing grew deeper and deeper, his fear growing with each shell he found. All of them emptied with light scorch marks tarnishing there surface. He didn't know how this was possible. That monster didn't have a gun with him, he though it didn't atleast, and his had sunk down in the mud. Ouspi hadn't carried a gun on jobs like this either and... footprints! Flanking the tent, leading off in the opposite direction from the mud hole were, footprints. Human footprints.

"No..." the denial raced through Kazon's mind. Looking up he found that he was directly in front of the tent's entry flap. His vision had returned, for the most part, unfortunately to see three separate hole scorched through the hide. Kazon gasped at the sight, quickly tossed the emptied shell aside the flap aside. All the air from Kazon's lungs seemed to had escaped him all in one moment. His mouth hung open in disbelief as he tried to find his breath again. But the sight that lay before him for his widened eyes to see prevented him...

The bottom of the inside of the tent was drenched in crimson along with sleeping bag that stretched from corner to corner. Blood. Dark coats of blood stained the base and had been splattered on the sides. Two sheathed katanas were tucked away partially under the bag, their leather wrapped casing, both, soaked in the bloody pool of what blood hadn't dried or saturated the hide.....but no Ouspi. Just the blood.

Kazon finally took in one gasping breath pushing himself away from the tent with enough jolting force to knock it over on it's side. He stumbled backwards onto his backside, trying to get away from the vision he had just seen before him. He pushed himself even further away with his feet, rapidly kicking up the wet dirt that surrounded him and, eventually, through the remnants of the fire that had previously lit the area. His breaths became more and more steady yet still labored, but he could not take he eyes away from the tent; eyes that began to swell with tears. He glance back over to the long coat that lay beneath the tree to his side, then quickly over to the footprints to the other, then falling woefully back on the tent. Ouspi...had to have been killed... but taken as well. He'd never leave that coat behind, he thought. Then the reality has set in his mind, and he ground his teeth together.

Kazon punched at the ground with a fist, his chin falling to his chest with closed eyes that had brimmed over with wet drops of moisture running down his muddy cheeks. "What does that matter...?!" he said brokenly, quietly through his sobs, referring to how his master never left that coat idle. Ouspi, himself was gone; shot, taken from him...and judging buy his tent, dead. He pulled his knees to his chest and covered his face with his arms. Whatever pain he still had coursing through his own body didn't seem to matter much anymore. They both had been set up, he thought, it was obvious for him to see now., had separated the master from the apprentice. All they were doing, he regretfully recalled, was following the rules of the contract, so why did this have to happen to him? To Ouspi...? Then suddenly, Kazon's weeping as stopped.

The contract...

Slowly, his eyes, reddened from his tears and darkened from his sorrow from peered over his resting arms and through the muddy bangs that had fallen in his face. His brow had narrowed in fury, casting an even darker shadow over the green orbs. He looked past is all at the bloodstained tent. At the entry portal, the hilt of one of Ouspi's katanas had fallen past the flap of hide. He raise his face completely from it's hidden pose, sucking in air through his nose as he tried to hold back any more tears from rolling down his cheeks. He focused on the sword hilt as Ouspi's words had played through his thoughts, his questioning of trust that the he spoke of at the campfire last night. It was his mentor's trust that had gotten Ouspi in this position...and Kazon as well.

Kazon lowered his face again, a vengeful gaze as the fire in his eyes burned even greater as they remain steadily trained on the sword in the empty tent. Another tear poured over and dropped down his jaw line as he whispered softly, speaking to the tent as if he were actually his instructor...

" hell with your trust, Ouspi"

-- - -


If you're confused. Let me explain myself. But rather than giving you some lengthy explanation, I'll try to make this short...

Ok, I stared this story when I was a freshmen in high school. Well, now I'm a college sophomore and, if 6 years of schoolin' did me anything, I'm a much better writer and know the importance of development. I read over this story and realized how much more I can do with this story now than I could ever do back then and I think that my first and favorite anime series of all time certainly deserves much more than how this story stands as now. I'm not going to totally change everything (I.e.,: 'George Lucas'.... Hayden Christensen has no place in Return of the Jedi, damnit...) just edit few things and add a few moments that will help thicken the relationships between the characters, two of them (obviously) in particular. My overall goal keep the original plot and spirit of the story the same, yet make even the more hardcore readers feel as if they're reading a totally new story.

The catch? Well, yes, there is one. Don't expect any more updates for a while. I would like to rewrite every episode and load it as a whole at the same time to keep with the flow. This was simply the 'teaser,' I guess, to give you an idea of what I want to accomplish. The catch to that? Well, yes, but a better catch: When I say as a whole, I mean the whole story including yet to be published ending. So by the next update, the entire story will be finished. How long that will take, I'm not sure. But I am working as fast as I can and have already begun work.

With that said though, I better get back to. Keep your eyes open and if you have any feedback, feel free to let me know.

-KM- (Yeah, so I changed my pen name. No one's called me Kris-Sama!! in forever.)