Yaaaaaaaaahoooooooo! I'm back, baby! And a month early, if I say so myself. So, the story continues. For those who haven't read the previous story, Calamity Hoppers, I suggest you do it, as things can get pretty confusing. Think you can keep up? Good! Then read along! *evil laughter*
The blue Woo Foo rabbit…Yang…
His twin baby sister…the pink Woo Foo rabbit…Yin…
Their master…mentor…father…elderly panda…Yo…
The mysterious wolf…Lupin…
A young arctic fox and aspiring practitioner of the age-old art…Weiss…
Her great grandmother…once a lover to Lupin…the weary yet hopeful Kitsune…
The well-meaning and aloof crow…feathered assassin…Noah…
The original Woo Foo knights…the Mediator and the Governor…
A tale of family bonds that have been cut by the edge of time…that can still be joined again… Fables of hope and childish fate… Promises broken, and many more waiting to be realized. Love with undetermined futures. The meaning of existing. The reason to live… One's worth to the world. Questions asked and answered, only for more to be asked, repeating the cycle. A war that has once determined the fate of the world…
Stories that will live on…from generation to generation… Immortal…
Three months pass… The sands in the hourglass fall down. The hourglass itself is turned right back over again. Different destinies strewn across each tiny grain.
"Infinity Seal‼" I yell with all the strength in my lungs. "Open!"
Standing in the midst of this wasteland again… I ponder about it all. The evil that once stood and towered above all else – the old Night Master's lair. What was once a definitive warzone between good and evil. The bloodshed that described this place. One would think that there'd be remains, dried and dusty bones, of the many men and women who willingly gave their lives in this eternal skirmish. But no. There were none… Barren as the word can possibly be. Giving freedom to the wind, granting it permission to howl endlessly and uninterestingly.
And then there's the Pit. The massive, almost-bottomless hole where the hellish castle once established itself atop of. Not completely forgotten by the public tongue and still being discussed as of today. This hole was, and still is rumored to be the place where terrifying and dangerous monsters were locked up. The hole where I had sealed away my beloved Lupin… No one really knowing of the real intent behind its concept. The very, very few who did… Who knows what happened to them? Me being part of that elite fraction.
Deeper down the Pit… The real idea behind the hole was actually for it to be the resting place for the two original knights of Woo Foo. The Mediator, the one who introduced Magic. And the Governor, the one who introduced Might. For many millennia, this was their place of slumber. Where their existence would be preserved and taken from the world, sealed away with the powerful Infinity Seal spell. Mugen Shirushi, which is only broken by Woo Foo. Those who were foolish enough to traverse the Pit would be afflicted with their curse. Forever tormented and tortured by the blind ambitions that drove them.
I cast my hand over the enormous gap, an open palm looking down at the darkness. A huge glyph glowing and growing beneath it, shooting out a blinding light to pierce the clouds and the sky; I was breaking the seal that held them. Seconds pass, the wind blows wildly. From the fading light, two figures, unearthly beings emerge, their bodies hunched in a ball, holding one another's hands. Forming a circle – the yin yang symbol. Yin… Yang… Their suits of armor, a pure sky blue and a rich rose red. The Mediator…and the Governor… What did I just do? Why did I disturb them from their peaceful and infinite sleep? I'd have to have a good reason for doing so. If I don't come up with one, I'll be reprimanded badly.
Their bodies float down right in front of me. Descending slowly, hovering just above the ground. They break from their round posture, straightening their limbs, the glow now having completely vanished. I look at their visage with crossed arms and eyes that showed firm willpower. Anticipation for a difficult and pressing task that is to come.
"The Mediator… The Governor…" I recite these humbled words, still showing respect despite my stance.
Before I knew it, they spoke, their voices proud. "Woo Foo Master Yo. Are you the one who has awakened us from our millennia-long slumber?"
"Y-yes. This moment… I-it is an…honor, sir and madam." Humbling myself even further, I kneel on one knee before the two who had defined Woo Foo in its entirety, its whole fiber – the very foundation of Woo Foo. The teachings, the lessons and creeds they have implied throughout the many years of the culture's existence.
"Please, panda. Cease the formalities." The knight in red, The Governor, commands. "There is no need."
I do as he expects and stand back on my two feet. "Sorry, Governor, sir."
"Now", the Mediator, the knight in the blinding blue, joins in. "Explain to us why you have done what you have done." Why did they have to demand that?
Reluctantly, I let each word, syllable slide off my tongue. I told them every little bit. Images of a dark-furred wolf in a black longcoat and a just-as-black pair of pants rising up in the back of my mind. I strained with each image, the sentences cut off back and forth. I explained how I had used the Pit to lock away Lupin for one whole century. How the Seal spell was broken when that period had ended. My reasons for doing so, the regret I've been living with the entire time. The regret that has eaten me constantly like a parasite. And the being that has bended his will and seducted him to madness. The being known as Makai – the Heart of the Infernal Beast. Rest assured, I wouldn't summon these two sovereign souls if the reason was not valid enough. I lowered my head, my piece said. Hoping that they'll believe every word, each spec of detail.
"The Blood of the Wolf…" the Mediator comments. "Grandmaster Lupin…"
"The Heart…of the Infernal Beast…" the Governor includes. "Makai…"
I confirm their considerations. "That's right."
"Well if what you say is indeed true…"
"…then we shall aid you."
"We are not sure of what Makai's intentions would be."
"Nevertheless, he must be stopped before they are realized. He must be destroyed!"
There was still something I wanted to explain. "Wait! It's been five thousand years. No one's going to recognize you two. No one remembers."
"Surely this is false. Do not play us for fools, Yo!"
"I wish it was all a lie myself, sir. But I am sorry." No one today remembers. Only very, very few. But telling them this nugget could not mitigate the weight of knowing that their existence has been long forgotten.
The Mediator crosses her arms and lets out her disappointment relaxedly with a sigh, pondering. The Governor did the opposite, kneeling to the ground. His fist shaking in anger before pounding the ground, a frustrated groan following. She crouches down to him and holds his shoulders, rubbing them comfortingly.
"Brother, calm down", she said consolingly, smiling underneath her light blue helmet.
"I will not! Do you not realize what has happened? You provide salvation to a doomed world, and suddenly, its people completely forgets about you and your deeds! You're willing to accept that? Huh?" The Governor rises up and turns to her swiftly in anger. "Are you going to let this act of ungratefulness go unpunished, sister?"
I intervene. "I know how you feel, sir. But it cannot be helped. Five thousand years have passed." He eased his temper, only letting out a "Tch!"
"Please forgive my brother. Do you know of Grandmaster Lupin's whereabouts, panda?"
"Lupin! What do you think you're doing?"
The silver-furred wolf, Lupin. Age fifteen. A prodigy. No, not just a prodigy. The first, and probably only, Woo Foo Grandmaster. Four years after achieving the rank.
"I'm just training." Punches. Kicks. Elbow strikes. High knees. A large arsenal of spells locked and loaded. He raises his arm up high, glowing with pure white magic. The enchanted orb in his hand forming into a boomerang. "Foo-merang‼"
The weapon is tossed from the wielder and dashes towards a row of bullseyes, slashing each target in two. Lupin grabs the projectile upon its return and spins back gracefully, stretching his arm out. Ready to fire a spell.
Mystic spheres shot from his open palm, destroying the remains. Leaving culminating explosions and dust clouds. He wore a fierce face, an infuriated mask. He has never displayed such raw emotion in his training before. The spark in his soul grew into a wildfire. A raging inferno. Like a bomb, he exploded. Thankfully, he was not shooting at living, breathing creatures. Regardless, I knew I had to stop this.
"Lupin!" I disciplined the child and grabbed his magic arm. "LUPIN! Enough!"
"LET! GO‼" I release him and he pulls back instantly. He might not have appreciated what I did, but he should have. "Why did you do that?"
"What is wrong with you?"
And that's when it began…
"Have you forgotten what I told you?"
"That reading from the Woo Foo scrolls. About never using the art of Woo Foo in anger."
With a heavy chest, he exhales. "I know, Master Yo. I know that. I don't forget anything like that. But look around you. You don't see a lot of people taking Woo Foo seriously. They think it's a complete joke! It pisses me off!" His fists shake as he controls himself and mutters the unthinkable… "If I could only become stronger… If I could only show them…that Woo Foo isn't a joke."
"Oh, kid", I rub his head and smile at him. "I know how much Woo Foo means to you. And I'm glad you've got something to be very proud of. But you're taking it a little too far. You gotta remember. 'The fools who seek and live only by power will find ruin and chaos in every hour'."
"Ah… The Woo Foo scrolls again." He nods his head.
"I think you're blowing this out of proportion. You're going a little overboard here. Not everybody really thinks that Woo Foo is stupid."
"How would you know? Huh? Nothing means anything to you. You're a crabby has-been who refuses to fight for something! You're on your ass on that recliner with a big bag of popcorn watching whatever crappy soap opera catches your eye! You're a lazy-ass who doesn't value anything at all‼"
He had to go that far… To prove his point.
"Love it or hate it, I'm going to prove to this stupid public that they should learn how to take Woo Foo seriously. Don't try and stop me, Yo."
I stop him from storming off, grabbing his arm. Forcing, instilling my will into him. He had infuriated me with his choice of words.
"I will not have you speak to me in that tone, boy! You will not do anything, and that's final."
"And starting right now, I am shutting off your aura and the flow of Woo Foo energy in your body for one whole month."
Disregarding his objection, I raise a glowing hand of bright white energy to my face and say to him, "It's for your own good. I'm a lazy-ass, huh? Well, you're a teenage idiot who willingly lets his manias blind him. You can't suppress and control your emotions, Lupin. And I feel that the need to do something about that is in order. Foo-tralize‼" I thrust my shining palm out to my stubborn student. A large afterglow appears behind him, shaped like a wolf – Lupin's Woo Foo Aura. A shattering sound rings as the image breaks into fragments – a spell designed to hinder both the target's Woo Foo energy and aura. The illusion dissipates.
Lupin's fit wasn't done. "Y-you… You are ruining my life on purpose. Do you realize that? You piss me off, Yo!" He walks back inside the dojo in uproarious footsteps.
"Grandmaster Lupin, you march your derriere up to your room, right. Now! That's an order! And you better not think I'm playing with you, young man!"
It was for his best. I knew it. I just knew it. I kept telling myself it was. Or was it what I wanted? Was it out of my own selfishness that I berated him and led him to become what he had become? Is it so wrong to really want something?
According to God, the ultimate penalty that you would face for committing a sin was death. Jesus Christ had given himself up, out of unadulterated selflessness and love for those that have scorned him to the very end. Those that have nailed his palms and his feet to the wooden cross… That those who have put their faith in him will not die for their transgressions. Still there is some form, some type of retribution for every little wrongdoing we commit. But I wonder… Why does the price that I paid for my sins feel steeper than dying? Why do I have to live with this guilt? This burden that weighs a metric ton? Can't I just gain that eternal rest and escape all this? Or is God doing this on purpose? Is this his way of giving me another chance?
Lupin… He was the vessel that Makai had used, that he had inhabited in. Using his body to do his wicked will. My student was the puppet, and the Heart of the Infernal Beast was the puppeteer. But Makai had finally escaped Lupin's body. The Woo Foo Grimoire had accumulated enough Fog to enable him to do so. He was finally able to attain a physical form. A real body. My son, Yang, unknowingly played a part in this hellish opera. Manipulated and influenced. Like Lupin, myself and my daughter, Yin, he was corrupted. Depraved. It was my fault. The weight I had put on his shoulders. The burden I have caused him. It's one hundred years ago…all over again.
I sigh with uncertainty and say, closing my eyes and shaking my head, "No, madam. I…I do not know. I don't know…if he's alive…or dead." My chest twisted. "Lupin may be powerful…but Makai is capable of so many things. He could have died at his hand by now. He could still be alive. I'm not sure."
"Then we should make haste", suggested the Governor. "What of the new Lupin? Woo Foo Knight Yang? Where is he?"
"My son? He's resting…"
"See to it that he is well-rested, Yo. He and his sister, Woo Foo Knight Yin, will be of great asset." The Mediator instructed.
"That is if they do not become a liability."
"What?" The statement stimulates my suspicion.
"It is nothing. We shall aid you, Woo Foo Master Yo. Take the lead."
"Just…one last thing." There was one more thing I knew I had to ask. Just to make sure, make certain. "If Grandmaster Lupin is indeed alive and we do find him…may I ask. Just. One. Favor?"
"What might that be?"
Humbling myself again, I kneel down and close my eyes, tears piling up behind my eyelids and slipping out. "I beg you. Please do not harm him… Do not hurt him, for he didn't know any better. Madam Mediator, Sir Governor. I am begging you. I do not want to see him die. I don't want him to die. Will you promise me that? Promise me this single request?" Warm drops fall from my eyes down to my black and white fur. I have experienced losing someone. I didn't want to experience it again. The voice in my head mumbles to itself. Please say yes, please say yes, please say yes… Please… Lupin isn't to blame for all this. He isn't… I opened my eyes to look at the knights.
In a glorious voice, the Mediator speaks. "Very well, Yo. This is a matter for you to finish, not for us."
I smile gently and ignore the falling tears on my eyes. "Thank you." The Governor stands still and moves not one muscle. Not a single limb. Firm as a mountain. I feel slightly uneasy at his rather intimidating posture, hoping that he acknowledged what I had asked him. That he has seconded with his sister.
Wiping my face clean, I turn around the opposite direction. We still have a lot of preparation to do. Makai is one of the most, if not the most dangerous individual right now. I've tasted his power, his prowess enough times to rectify that. The Mediator and the Governor may have stopped him once, but things are most certain to be different now. Everyone is going to play a part in this. Is it true or is it a gut feeling? Regardless, it's something I can believe in. The only thing I can believe in right now.
Yesterday is a wrinkle on your forehead… Yesterday is a promise you've broken… Don't close your eyes… Don't close your eyes… This is your life…and today's all you got now…and today's all you ever have… Don't close your eyes… Don't close your eyes…
This is your life… Are you who you wanna be? This is your life… Are you who you wanna be? This is your life… Is it everything you ever dreamed that it would be? When the world was younger…and you had everything to lose…
Why can't I wake up…? Ah, pellets! Come on, me… Wake up, damn it! Wake up, Mister Lazy!
I force my eyes open until they're wide, like an anime character. My surroundings stun me. A shelf full of jars, syringes, stethoscopes, cotton swabs and other doodads and whatsits. A coat rack at the door in front of me. Diagrams and charts on the opposite side of the room. Frantically I scan each tidbit, every little speck of detail. Winding down gradually and calming myself. There are a few things attached to me… Wires… Taped on me. My arms, my face, my chest, my nostrils, practically everywhere. I trace and find the source: a medical monitor. It's finally cleared up. The infirmary. The Woo Foo dojo's infirmary. Switchfoot was playing from a small brown stereo. My stereo. Who could have taken it out of my side of our room?
Now I remember… I was locked in battle. In that meadow. Master Yo, er…I mean Dad… Yin…my sister… Yuck… Lina… Would she hate me after I tried to kill her…? And my other friends… Roger… Jobeaux… Coop… Dave… And Weiss… Why did she come along with them? Why did she virtually risk her life…? The power that knows no bounds, that I held in the palm of my hand. The Woo Foo Talismans… The Blades of the Mediator and the Governor… The Woo Foo Crystals of Fire, Lightning, Wind and Darkness… And the Woo Foo Grimoire… I was winning. I was about to kill my sister. My raging hatred, all my feelings consumed me. I couldn't control them.
A black rabbit…created from Fog. It appeared out of nowhere…to confront us. Confront me.
"You…are an…embarrassment… He…is greatly disappointed…in you…Yang…"
"Lupin thought…that you…would succeed him… But he was…wrong…"
"I…am the one…who will carry on…his legacy… You are…expendable… Worthless to…his eyes… He…has made…his decision… And his decisions…are final…!"
I recall…being impaled. Staked. Pierced by my own sword. Upon impact, I saw so many things. My entire life. How I used to be. How I would push Yin on the swings as hard as I could after she begged and prodded. How she and I played pranks on Dad and got a kick out of them. All of it. And if Lupin really was disappointed in me. It was already bad enough that I was letting down my original master, my father. In my restless stride to avoid the criticism and to buy myself ample time to prove myself, BAM! Frustrations and undesired results right at your face! Did I… Did I really fail him? Why does it always seem like failure is just around the corner? And that you can't run away from it? Is that what God writes down on his giant drawing board? Let his creations suffer time and time again? Let them falter every now and then?
The Woo Foo Grimoire… The thing that had started it all… The same thing that saved me. Introduced me to the follies of the dark side and the consequences. I raise my right hand up to see that it's still in the form of a glove and that I'm wearing it. I had faced death not once, but twice. The first time I slapped the Grimoire on me, it was exactly as Lupin said. Excruciating. If I were to withstand the pain of adapting to it, I would pass with flying colors and be able to use it. Harness the power of Fog. If I failed and gave in, that was it. I would die. My very ambitions have led me to be manipulated. Turning against everyone I loved. Going so far as to even try and kill them. A walking weapon. A ticking time bomb. Just like how Dad and sis were before me, consumed and depraved by evil. To want something is alright, but we have to learn when and how to contain our desires. That it may go out of hand sometimes.
And yet through it all, after the hell I've brought…they helped me. They've forgiven me, in a sense. That's the explanation I'm going with. If they hadn't pardoned my sins, I wouldn't be here right now. They would have lost a friend. A girlfriend. A son. A sibling
Hmph! That's enough musing for now. I let out one silly chuckle.
My body revitalized, I removed the wires taped on my body and the monitor lets out a flatline noise. I brought both my feet off the bed and down to the floor. A sudden yet soft pain punches my side and I clutched it carefully. Feeling a gauzy material. Bandages? I pulled off the blanket wrapped around me and confirmed. Yup. Everywhere. From my chest down to my torso. From the bed I stood up, these bandages my only form of clothing. I was practically nude.
I turn the stereo off and save for the monitor, there's nothing else. There's no one. It's awfully quiet. Where could everybody be? Where could my dad be? Where could my sister be?
Focusing on the door, I sigh and make my way to it and out of the infirmary. Right in front of me is the kitchen, with the refridgerator just next to me. I open it up and grab a can of cola from inside. Popping it open with the tab, gulping it down. Wetting my parched throat. Man, that's good! I thought. I proceed on over to the living room past the piano, picking up the remote off the coffee table. The television turns on and shows a few news bulletins.
"A sixteen year-old girl has been found dead in a garbage bin at the back alley of her local apartment building last Monday afternoon by the building janitor after an intruder entered her home and having allegedly raped her. Tenants say that screaming was heard from the girl's fifth floor unit at approximately four in the morning the same day and that there were loud banging noises coming from outside. Police authorities have been looking into this matter, but no evidence has been found as of yet. The girl's parents have asked that an inquest be commenced and have approached President Muffin, who has vocally expressed a personal interest in the case yesterday at a conference in front of Town Hall."
"As uncommon and commonplace as these offenses may be among the public, they are still offenses nonetheless and must be treated as such. This is an example of an act of cowardice, and the people of my city do not deserve to suffer and live in fear because of this."
"Hmph! That's something you don't see everyday", sarcastically, I let the sentence slide off. Knowing all too well that these criminal acts have been happening all around and might not ever end. "Stupid goat!" That one I actually mean.
The anchorwoman moves on to another headline…
"Enforcers at the Bakal Correctional Facility are still looking into the cause of the massive jailbreak that took place two months ago. The warden has speculated that it was an inside operation. That their security mechanisms have either been tampered with or malfunctioned. Two hundred and thirty-seven convicts have been reported to have taken part in the escape with only four being subdued."
"I-it just…happened. We don't know. The sensors, the surveillance cameras, the sentry artillery, they were all…disabled or something."
"We did not know immediately until we heard somebody from the watch area going "Prison Break! Prison Break! Don't let 'em get away!" That's when we knew that our systems weren't working. We…still don't know how and why, we're still looking into it."
"The four men's punishment has since remained undisclosed, but among the escapees are the three minions of Eradicus: Rubber Chucky, Indestructi-Bob and Ella Mental. According to security, the three were to face a trial this Saturday which would have determined whether or not they would receive the death sentence."
"Catch ya guys later."
"I'd really love to stay and chat, but… Ah, who am I kidding? You guys are boring! See ya!"
"Bob leave now. Bob don't like prison no more."
"Danica Reyes is currently live at Bakal Correctional Facility exactly at the giant hole left behind as an escape path for the convicts. Danica, what course of action does the facility's management intend to take following this outbreak?"
Bakal Correctional Facility… There's no way…! Two hundred and thirty-seven people couldn't have left such a huge hole on a prison as sturdy as that. But… Rubber Chucky. Indestructi-Bob. And Ella Mental. Henchmen of Eradicus… Maybe they caused the hole? My guess is as good as anyone's.
Still, disabling the place's security systems takes a heavy amount of planning and coordination. Even these three powerful people know that. They wouldn't just act recklessly and go gung ho on the place and trash it from the inside out. They wouldn't risk it. At least Ella wouldn't; she's the smartest out of the three. How is this possible?
"Is it really…" I asked myself, sipping my cola. Eradicus? Not sure. "Makai…?" Probably.
Makai…the dark, longcoat-wearing wolf who bears a striking resemblance to my master, Lupin. The Heart of the Infernal Beast and the only one stronger than the crimson griffin. Just because I'm not familiar with what the dog is capable of doesn't mean that I can't get an idea of what. Perhaps Makai is the cause of the prison break? Perhaps it's the Fog working in his favor? It's possible, since Fog is the remnants of the Beast.
That monster! He used me! He used Lupin! Played us like puppets. Marionettes. Masquerading as power that can be used for pure-hearted endeavors. All this time, he was working from behind the curtain. Accumulating the Fog I have gathered through the Woo Foo Grimoire, all so that he may gain a hold on reality. Become physical, become real. Something for the people of the world to fear…
I sense an approaching presence, made easier from the thumping on the stairs. Patiently I wait and just drink from my can.
"Hisashiburi da ne, gaijin", it spoke. I turned around to make sure it was real. That it wasn't my head playing with me.
"Lina!" I greet the purple-dressed canine.
"Yang!" She approaches me and wraps her arms around me with a teary smile. She whispers gladly, "Yang… Thank God you're okay."
"Yeah… Thank God. 'Long time no see', indeed." I bring my arms around her in return. Gently and with carefulness, whispering back to her. "I'm so sorry, Lina… I'm so sorry…"
Lina sniffles. "It's not your fault. It never was. I'm just so glad. Three months. It felt like three years. But you're alright." Three months…? I remain calm, yet I'm quite shocked inside. Feeling the warmth of her embrace and her tears. Three months… Where could Lupin be? Is he even alive? Or is he dead?
"Where's Yin? And where's my dad?"
"Your sister's teaching at the Academy, and your dad…" She hesitates and lets go of me. "He's off somewhere. I don't know. He told me to tell you not to worry. He'll take care of things, and that you just rest for now." Dad…where could you be? What could he be possibly doing?
I chose not to go to the schoolhouse and sat near the piano, reclining against the closed-off keyboard. Arms crossed and deep in thought. My sword was nowhere to be found. I didn't see it in the infirmary. I guess they salvaged all the weapons from the cave and brought it back to the Armory, including my sword.
"Lupin", I utter the name, picturing his smiling face. The face of a proud and grateful mentor. "Where do you think he could be, Lina?"
Lina closes in on me and rubs my shoulders tenderly. "I can't say. I don't even know what he looks like. But I do know that he's not gonna forget you. He's probably, definitely worried about you. We'll find him, Yang." I hope she's right. "I know we will."
Nervously I exhale, inhaling again. Repeating the cycle. "I hope you're right, Lina. I just hope to God that you're right."
You guys know what to do. Leave me comments, review, feedback, blah blah blah.
Disclaimer: I do not own the lyrics to Switchfoot's "This Is Your Life", Switchfoot or Yin Yang Yo!