Trials of the Junsuikaoni: Beginnings (Book 0)

Noah Gremory never wanted much out of life and has always enjoyed living humbly with his mother and older brother Caleb in their small textile district of the Wakaba Prefecture. You can say his life is nothing other than ordinary with the exception of just one thing…he lives in a post-apocalyptic world of demons. 450 years after the end of the “Cursed War” of the Junsuikaoni demons, which took the lives of billions and destroyed most of the planet, the world has been reborn, but the threat of the Junsuikaoni still remains, leading to a strict system of control for those afflicted. Noah never paid much mind to these things, as it had nothing to do with him, or so he thought. However, on the day of his 12th birthday, something changes in him. This leads to a series of events that propels Noah into the center of this world of demons that he doesn’t really understand and sets him on his path of destiny. Will Noah come out of this journey unscathed or will he succumb to the darkness?

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7. General Mason Tahno

# (Council Assembly Hall, Junsui Academy-Wakaba Prefecture)

I walk into the assembly hall and put on my best face, which isn’t much of an improvement, but I’m at least smiling. As I enter, five cold, expressionless faces stare back at me, quite the intimidating environment indeed.

            “Good afternoon everyone, you all seem to be in such a wonderful mood today, so inviting.”

            With no effort to hide his agitation the President shouts, “Cut the nonsense Mason and just sit down!”

            “Well, aren’t we in a good mood today? Forgive me Mr. Academy President” I respond sarcastically.

            “Do you really think this is the time to be joking around?” Vera Nickels, Chief Fire Elemental, says indignantly.  “I thought you had a serious proposition, or are you going to continue to waste our time?”

            “Pleasant as always, aren’t we Vera? I apologize for wasting your time. How about I repay the offense by taking you out for dinner tonight? I know just the place that’ll loosen you right up.” I give a cheeky smile.

            She scoffs, “You wish. I’ve already gotten the other parasite of a man out of my life after all this time, I’m not interested in getting infected again. Also, I’m loosened just fine, so keep your opinions to yourself.”

            “My goodness Vera, you really are a viper, remind me not to get on your bad side. You certainly live up to your title” Liam Guthrie, Chief Earth Elemental, says in a calm and level tone.

            “You are one to talk Liam, you are much attuned to your element as well with your solid mentality.” Viktor Mainer, Chief Water Elemental, says with a flowing, resonating tone.

            “Wouldn’t it be best to say that we all match our respective elements? I mean we aren’t masters for nothing. To reach the ultimate elemental level one must become one with their elemental mind, body, and soul.”

            We all look at Kira Leanna, Chief Air Elemental, in awe. “Wow, Kira that was so spiritual and balanced, you certainly live up to you element. I feel so inspired now. Thank you for your lesson Sensei” I reply.

            “I’m pretty sure I can sense the sarcasm in your response Mason, but thank you, I suppose.”

            I start to give another sarcastic reply, but then the Academy President, Hiro Mitoki interjects. “I think that’s enough distraction for one day, do you all think we can get this meeting started or what?”

            He’s got on his serious face and so we all know that means he’s no longer messing around and the mood in the room returns to its original level of intimidation. Even I decide to get serious and down to business.

            Hiro crosses his arms and clasps his hands together and then looks me straight in the eyes. “Now, let’s hear this proposal of yours, General Tahno, Head of the Junsui Attack Force” he says spitting back my sarcasm.

            “Yes, of course Sir. I’ll keep it short and simple and get right to the point then. I’ve been assessing four subjects over these last two years, with the assistance of the elemental instructors, and after assessing their physical, mental and emotional states, I believe they are ready for integration with subject black.”

            The expression of everyone’s expression changes to one of surprise and just before anyone can throw out their objections, I make my final statement.

            “Not just that, but I also propose that we initiate the beginning stages of the Hardy Protocol.

            The room suddenly becomes active with opposition and protests as I simply sit back and enjoy.

 

*2 years earlier*


# (Observation Control Room, Junsui Academy-Wakaba Prefecture)

 

“What’s the status on Subject Black?” I enter the control room, catching the staff off guard with my sudden question. They stand in attention, salute and wait for my command. “At ease men. Now, as for my question…?”

            The worker closest to me jumps and grabs some papers. “Yes sir! Subject Black shows continued hostility. He becomes extremely violent when anyone enters the room be it for meals, cleaning or socialization. He refuses to eat, requiring him to be sedated many times and fed through IV. Surprisingly however, he never transforms into his demon form nor does he use any elements when getting hostile, he’s purely physical.”

            “Hmm I see, very interesting. Well, I guess I’ll go see him for myself. If you would be so kind.”

            The worker looks stunned. “Sir, I’m not sure that’s a good idea. No one has been able to get further than 2 feet in before he charges, to go in alone and unarmed would be dangerous. I must respectfully refuse.”

            I look at him with evil eyes and lean down to his level. “Oh, you refuse me? Is that so?”

            He shakes in his boots and after an intense stare down, he finally caves. “Yes Sir, right away!” He runs back to his control panel and unlocks the door. Another worker motions me towards it.

            I walk to the door and very carefully, he opens the door and I step inside. I walk in to see a boy huddled in a corner and slowly raise his head to look at me. His eyes are filled with nothing but a burning rage, but only I can see it as I’ve been there. To anyone whose been spared that hardship, he just looks normally angry.

            I begin walking closer and as I take my first step, I hear him growl and shift, preparing to attack. I decide to try a more cautious approach. “Noah, it’s ok, I’m not going to hurt you. My name is General Tahno, do you remember me?” He doesn’t seem to respond. “I’m your guardian, remember? I’ll take it from here.”

            He suddenly backs down, finally seeming to remember. He stands upright and continues staring me down. After a few minutes of analyzing me, he slowly starts to walk towards me. I keep standing still.

            “General, you should come out now!” The worker guarding the door yells out, startling Noah.

            He growls again and annoyed I shout back, “Just be quiet! Don’t interfere again!” He backs away.

            I turn back to Noah, who still looks vicious, but has calmed down a bit. He again starts walking towards me slowly, until he finally reaches in front of me. He then stares at me once again, right into my eyes and after a minute, he turns away and heads back to his corner. He acts as though I’m not even there anymore. I can tell, he’s decided I can be trusted, but he still has no interest in me. That’s fine though. This is going to take some time, it’s only natural considering he became an orphan and has learned he’s some sort of monster.

            I exit the cell and the guards immediately lock it back up. They stare at me, unable to believe that I actually went in there and came back out unscathed. “See, I told it’d be fine. He’s a kid. Baby steps.” They still look shocked, but decide to accept my lunacy without another word. “So, have the other subjects been picked?” The guard once again shuffles through the papers on his desk. He pulls out four folders and hands them to me. “Thank you.” I flip through the pages and say nothing for several minutes before saying, “brief me on them.”

            He takes the folders, which contained only pictures and general information on the subjects back and pulls up each of their more through logged profiles from the database where observation notes are recorded.

            “Subject Red, 12, Male, Fire Elemental. Observations show that he’s extremely volatile in unfavorable situations, loves to be in control, and has a sense of entitlement. However, he’s also very outgoing, fierce, and confident, an excellent candidate to be a leader. He’s secretly kind if anyone can actually break down his walls.

            “Subject Blue, 12, Female, Water Elemental. Observations show that she’s very compliant. She always follows the rules, strictly, and never questions an order. She’s the most obedient, making for an excellent tactician and solider. However, these stiff traits and her cold, uncompromising nature makes her an outcast.

            “Subject Green, 12, Male, Earth Elemental. Observations show that he’s the most fun-loving student. He loves to joke around and is very sociable. He has no problems making friends and being liked and he’s extremely loyal to his friends, making him excellent team player in groups and a solid compromiser. However his one flaw is that he has no aggression despite having tremendous power. He’s extremely passive, making training exercises and impossible task. He’s unsuited to be a solider simply because he’s too nice.

            “Subject White, 12, Female, Air Elemental. This is probably the toughest subject. Observations show that she’s very reclusive, never desiring to socialize with others. She’s been a loner for the majority of her school years, despite many of her classmates attempting to befriend her. She gets extremely anxious and terrified most especially when approached by males, students or staff. We decided to do a more through medical exam on her than the other subjects and the physician reports that she show’s clear signs of years of sexual abuse. However, when questioned by the psychologist, she remained silent, so it’s unclear exactly who may have been the perpetrator, but we suspect someone among the dorm staff as they have full access to the rooms, where students do not. Despite being completely withdrawn, she shows the most stability and mental balance of her class when safely distanced from males and has extremely strong powers, making her a vital combatant.”

            “Hmm, they all sound like perfect misfits with extremely valuable assets, exactly what I wanted, but Subject White does worry me. I’d like to find out who’s behind the abuse so they can be punished severely for defiling an innocent young girl. I want you to set up cameras in her room. I know it’s an invasion of privacy, but it’s a necessary evil to get to the bottom of this. However, I want the feed to be accessible by only me.”

            He looks at me as though I just said something ridiculous and sketchy. “I will do so immediately Sir.”

            “Thank you, and don’t worry, I’m not gonna creep on her. I’ll be watching only when she’s asleep as my assumption is that the assailant is attacking her during the late hours when it’s most quiet and deserted. Thank you for your thorough report. It sounds like you and the professors really did your homework. I think these subjects will be perfect for my Hardy Protocol Plan. Now comes the hard part, getting approval of the rest of the council. I think they’ll approve the plan, but only because they don’t believe we’ll ever need it. The hardest part will be getting them to enact it. Well whatever, I still have at least two years before I’ll have to deal with that.”

            “What exactly is the Hardy Protocol Sir, if may ask?”

            “Oh, just think of it as the plan for the worst case scenario. You don’t really need to know the full details, but the bottom line is this. One day, I’m going to make these five subjects into the ultimate Junsui Attack Team. It probably won’t be easy, but I have faith that in the end, they’ll be an unstoppable force.”

*Present Time*


# (Council Assembly Hall, Junsui Academy-Wakaba Prefecture)

 

            “Are you out of your mind Mason? Wait, don’t bother to answer that, I already know you are. I knew it the day you came to us with this proposal in the first place. I only agreed to it because I never actually thought you’d go so far as to actually use it. What’s worse, you want to put four normal, flawed yes, but normal students with that demon? That’s just absurd. We don’t even know the true identity of the subjects, only code names.”

            “I thought you might question that sir and at last, I can now reveal them to you.” I place the folders on the table and begin to report each subject exactly as they’d been reported to me two years ago along with the new observations over these two years. After about ten minutes, I finish and look up to shocked faces.

            After a few minutes of silence, I finally decide to break the tension. “Vera, let’s start with you. Nikoli is so ambitious and the best Fire Elemental in the school. You should be proud to know your son takes after you.”

            “Liam, your son Gunther is so gregarious and loyal. You’d be proud of his passive nature and heart.”

            “Viktor, you daughter Mai is quite the scholar and obedient to boot. She’s the perfect young lady.”

            “Finally Kira, I’m so sorry to have to inform you of your daughter Lilianna’s abuse, but some reassurance I can offer is that the perpetrators have been caught and severely punished. A few of the night guards took it upon themselves to treat themselves each night by sneaking into her room, but she’s ok now, well physically at least. She’s still got some emotional trauma we’re trying to work out. We’ll get there though.”

            Kira places her face in her hands and starts to cry. Through the tears she says, “I had no idea she was suffering so much. I feel so ashamed. I know nothing about my own daughter. None of us know our children.”

            “Well, to be frank, what exactly do you expect when you give your kid away the day they were born and never look back? I get that for most parents who give birth to marked children they have no choice, but you four are THE Council, if anyone could’ve gotten to know their children it was you all. Yet you all abandoned them knowing they were right there. Just a couple of floors down, they were right there you ingrates!”

            “Mason! Don’t you think you’re being a bit cruel on them? How would it look for the Council to break their own rules? Parents of marked children are never to have contact with their children until they graduate, those are the rules for everyone, including ourselves. Don’t let your personal feelings get away from you!”

            I sit back. I meant to guilt them, but I didn’t intend to lose my temper to that extreme. I pull myself together. “I apologize Sir, you’re right, I was out of line, forgive me. However, I must insist that you approve my proposal. I think this situation should persuade you even more. I mean, it seems all a bit too coincidental that each one of the Council Chief’s children were chosen as the best candidates for the protocol. The fact that they are all extremely powerful and are outcasts are strong indicators that they are the one’s we’re looking for!”

            “I’ve had enough of this Mason! You keep going on about this damn prophecy, the messiahs and what not, but it’s all a myth. Most disturbing of all is that you actually want to integrate Subject Black not just with the kids, but within the school as well? That could put all the students in extreme danger, I can’t possibly allow it! I will not approve the initiation of the Hardy protocol or the integration. The best thing to do is to remove that monster from our school at once, he could become Kusaru at any moment! Then what?”

            “I think we should do it.” Everyone turns to look at Kira after her unexpected comment.

            “Kira, what do you mean? Are you saying that you want to willingly put Lilianna in danger?”

            “No, I don’t want her to be in danger or alone anymore, that’s exactly why!” She cries again.

            “I’m still not following. What about you all, what do you think of this?”

            Everyone has still been silent from the shock of learning the identities, but finally Viktor speaks. “I think I may understand Kira’s reasoning Sir. We’ve realized that our children have been alone all these years. They were a part of their classes, but at the same time were not as for whatever reason, they were misunderstood and rejected. They need to feel like they truly belong, that they matter. Perhaps the fact that they are all misfits make them the perfect companions because they can relate to each other and understand the pain. I vote yes too.”

            “I’m afraid I have to agree too Sir. If my Gunther is as passive as they say, then maybe he has what it takes to calm down Subject Black, along with the influence of the others. I vote yes as well.”

            We all look to Vera, who’s the final member left to vote. She silently scowls for several minutes, thinking to herself until finally she says, “I think your talk of prophecies and a new apocalypse descending is absurd. The Cursed War was a tragedy yes, but it’s to avoid situations like that from happening again that we adapted this new system after our world’s rebirth. I believe in the integrity of our system to weed out the bad, don’t make a mistake about that. However, I suppose that having a powerful attack force would be beneficial for our general security as a whole and the children would benefit from being in a more structured, stable environment that’s socially conducive, so for those reasons alone I too will vote yes Sir.”

            I smile at my success. Hiro rubs his forehead in exhaustion and is still obviously skeptical, but he’s out numbered 5-1, so he’s got no choice but to accept the decision. “Are you all certain about this?” Everyone nods. “Ok then, I’ll approve the enactment of the Hardy Protocol, but understand this Mason, you will be held accountable. You will oversee every minute of this and you will be totally held responsible for anything that may happen. Specifically, as you’ve already agreed to, I will further state that you are Subject Black’s sole guardian and so anything he does falls on you. You will be punished for his actions, take care to remember.”

“I understand Sir, I will not let you or any of the Council down, you have my word! They’ll be great!”

I stand to leave, but before I do, Kira calls out to me. “Um Mason! Could you…maybe…tell me a bit…”

            I smile, realizing what she’s trying to ask and I suddenly have a great idea. “Want to meet her?”

She’s surprised. “What? No, I couldn’t possibly…could I?” She looks to Hiro, again rubbing his head.

            “I suppose I could allow a brief meeting for you each if you wish, but they mustn’t know who you are. You can just say you’re researchers. Talk to them for a few minutes and leave, understood?”

            Everyone smiles a little brighter, even Vera to my surprise. We call our meeting to an end and I lead the Chiefs down with me to the observation room. I direct each of them to their kid’s door and they watch them for several minutes through the window. Finally I say, “Ok, who’s ready to meet their kids? Open them up!” They each take a moment to breathe and then they walk into parenthood 14 years late.

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