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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9. The Soliloquy of Noah: A Demon Lost

Demons. The ancient bastards who devour humans for fun. They eat, they kill, eat, kill, eat and then kill, over and over. They can slaughter hundreds in mere hours without breaking a sweat. Fucking demons! I hate them. No, I despise them and their very existence. If only they’d all been wiped out in the Cursed War, things wouldn’t have ended up this way. I hate them, yet I can’t escape them. I’ve seen them every night since that day. The day that I lost everything and everyone I loved. What’s worse is I still can’t escape. They stole everything, yet I’m still being tormented. However, this time the demon is me. No matter what I do I’ll never escape this fate that I never wanted, because I was born as this despicable monster known as a Junsuikaoni or loosely, “Pure Soul Demon”. Junsui, demon, monster; it’s all the same and I’m living right in the center of it. I’m apparently among the last few of my kind according to Tahno. I’m a real “rare breed” as he likes to say. Supposedly I’ve got something special that no other human or demon possesses, though he wouldn’t tell me what. That ass. I really hate him.

            Two years ago, he found me lying on the ground next to my brother’s lifeless body and introduced himself as General Mason Tahno and told me he’d “take it from here.” Yeah right. I didn’t see him again for who knows how long. It definite was at least a month, maybe two. Days, weeks, years; they all just pass me by and I don’t know any better because I’m stuck in here. In this room no bigger than a prison cell. That’s exactly what it feels like; a prison. No one ever comes in except to bring me food, water and clothing. No one comes to talk to me other than Tahno and that’s only sometimes, mostly when he needs something from me. A little blood here, a test there and constant observation. I can’t do anything without being watched. Tahno claims he’s ensuring that everything is being done for my best interest, but I think it’s really for his. He’s analyzing every aspect of me, probably to figure out how to the exploit the demon in me somehow. That’s what it always comes back too in the end. No one wants to come near the demon boy, he’s dangerous, he’s a monster, he’ll devour you. They’re scared of me and I don’t blame them. I’d be scared too, if I didn’t hate myself so much. I despise my demon self.

            I wish more than anything for them to just come kill me and take me out of my misery. I mean what do I have to live for? It’s pretty clear they don’t plan on letting me go because either I’m too valuable or too dangerous, perhaps it’s both. Even if they did, realistically what would I do out on my own?  I’ll never be accepted back into the Wakaba community and there’s nothing but corrupt demons outside its walls who’d be unlikely to accept me either since I’m not fully corrupted. I’m in a demon’s nowhere land with nowhere to belong since neither humans nor demons see me as one of them. So hence, I despise demons and all demons, including myself. I don’t hate humans, but I don’t like them. Both are the same, the only difference is that one side can’t show themselves as the monsters they are.

            Sometimes I think of provoking them so they’ll kill me, but it wouldn’t work. Tahno’s given them strict instructions to refrain from any force, even if they’re at risk, or he’d kill them himself. Of course he’s put measures in place to protect them if things were to get serious, in the form an internal incapacitator. He had them implant some tech in my forehead activated by a button outside that’d knock me out in a second, even in my demon form. Apparently they’ve used the method on me before, though I don’t remember it. My first several months here are a bit of blur, especially the latter part of them. I feel like things may have been bad pretty at some point if he won’t even tell me about it. All he’s said is that I lost myself and had to be found again. Considering he’s the only one I ever remember interacting with all this time on a personal level, I can only assume he’s the one who’s been looking out for me in here, hence my dilemma. I hate him because he won’t tell me anything I really want to know, but I’m not sure I’d really be alive or here at least if it weren’t for him. I guess he saved me.

            I’ve heard some of the staff whisper now and then. They talk among themselves asking if I’m Kusaru or not. I know from what I learned in school before this that Kusaru are the faction of corrupt Junsuikaoni and Karyuhdo are the pure faction, but I never really understand specifically what that meant and they never elaborated more than that. Every time I’d ask Tahno, he’d just respond, “All in good time.” He’s such a secretive bastard and it really gets under my skin. However, he’s the only one I can trust around here, so I have no choice but to just deal with it for now. What a nuisance.

            Just as I start thinking of taking a nap, I hear the familiar unlatching of the door and turn to look just as it’s sliding open. A man in a black colored uniform, lined in gold and with green shoulder pads.

            “Surely you weren’t about to nap?” He gives me a sarcastic grin and smile. What an ass.

            “Guess we’ll never know now will we? What do you want Tahno, I don’t want company today?”

            “Well, it’s a good thing then that I’m not here for that. I’m here to let you know that you’ve finally gotten permission to get out of here and move on to more comfortable arrangements.”

            “Oh? So I guess what you really mean is that you’ve decided how to use me? That I’m useful.”

            “What do you mean? Of course you’re useful. What made you think otherwise? Surely not me,”

            “You didn’t have to do anything to make me, I’m not an idiot. I’ve read enough comics to know that the mutant human always gets taken to a lab for observation and assessment to see if he’ll be useful to the researchers. If he is, then they let him go, but under their terms, like having them join their forces or do jobs for them. If they aren’t useful or refuse…well, there’s only one way they’ll get out.”

            He puts on an amused grin then says, “Well damn, those comics just might be too realistic.”

            “So I’m right then, aren’t I? You want me to work for you right? Do some dirty job?”

            “I said they were realistic, but I never said they were perfect. This is not that kind of story. I don’t want to exploit you and use you for personal gain against your wishes. I mean, yes I’d like you to work for me, but not because I threatened you into it. Also it wouldn’t really be working for me as much as working with me and the rest of the team. You’ll retain your complete power of free will and choice.”

            “A team? What type of team are you talking about, like an army unit or something?”

            “Not quite and army unit, though we will be an attack force. I call it the Elite Junsui Attack Force and we may be faced with fighting, but it goes much deeper than that. It’s more of a Task force actually. In fact, that’s the new name, the Elite Junsui Task Force. Sounds pretty good right?”

            He giggles childishly and wears a smirk on his face. He’s such a weird man. I’ve seen him be really intense, but most of the time he acts like he’s the 14-year-old and I’m 20. Now that I really think about it, he’s pretty young to be a general. Especially since he was a general when I first met him two years ago, which means he was even younger at 18. I’ve heard rumors about him being some crazy good solider with superhuman qualities, yet he’s not a marked child and is definitely no Junsui demon.

            “Did you get lost in that head of yours? What’s the deal? Is it cool or not? I’m dying here!”

            “How can you be such a kid when you’re six years older? How’d you get to be such a high rank at such a young age? I mean even if you’re good, isn’t that a bit unrealistic?”

            “You can’t put an age on perfection.” He starts to crack up, laughing deeply at his own joke. “Seriously though, do you like the name? If you have something else in mind, then we can use that.”

            “I really don’t care. I don’t even know if I’m gonna join your stupid task force. I mean who else is in it? If it’s more guys like you then I don’t want to. Just one of you is more than I can bear.”

            “I will tell you everything you need to know and more, but if you’d work with me you could find out sooner. The team are other special kids, like you, who need a place to belong. That’s the team.”

            “Ok, so if I join this stupid team, I’ll find out answers?” He nods. “Fine then, I’ll join.”

            He cheers. “Alright! I’m glad you’ve decided to accept, but I should also tell you that I don’t want you to just join the team…I want you to lead it. You are the final piece to the puzzle Noah.”

            I look at him like he’s crazy and he just stares back amused. “You can’t be serious?”

            “But I certainly am. You will be General of the Elite Junsui Task Force. Also, just as an FYI, I’d also be getting a promotion if you accept since we can’t have two generals in one unit. I’d become a commander; how great would that be? So that’s just a bonus point, but no pressure at all.”

            No pressure. Right. What about that was no pressure? I decide not to say that though and instead say, “I’m not a leader. I’ve never lead anyone in my whole life and I don’t want to. I don’t want to tell people what to do or force them to fight. I don’t want to force them to take on dangerous task while hide behind their cover. I don’t want them to grovel down before me like I’m some king. I don’t want any of that. I just want to be normal. I just want to go to school like everyone else. I want to make friends like anyone else. Above all, I just want to live a simple life with my family. I wanted all these things that are now impossible to have and it’s not fair. I’m a monster who killed his own mother and couldn’t protect his only brother from other monsters like me. The only thing I should be is dead.” I clench my teeth.

            I start heating up and suddenly feel really angry, so much so that my fist clench and shake. Tahno sees me and attempts to calm me down. “Hey, no need to get so worked up, ok?” He places a hand on my shoulder and after a few more moments I relax. “You didn’t kill your mother, alright?”

            “How can you be so sure! You weren’t there! I turned into that thing and struck her. Even if I didn’t land the final blow, I still killed her because I injured her so badly she couldn’t escape. If I had been able to control this thing, this stupid, freaking thing inside me, then I wouldn’t have hurt her. I wouldn’t have run off like a little baby and would’ve been there to save her instead. Save her, Caleb and countless others too. But instead of using this cursed existence for something good like that, I just destroyed everything instead. I’m just a monster do you understand? A cold-hearted demon!”

            He suddenly has a serious demeanor. “I know that ok? I know very well that you’re a demon. However, I also know that it’s not something you can control. You didn’t mean to hurt your mother, you didn’t intend to run away and you probably wouldn’t have been able to save them anyway because you were a kid! You were a kid who knew nothing of your nature or what you could do. How could you possibly save others when you don’t know how to manage yourself? Your mother, brother and Zelena were all unfortunate events that you had no control over and no one would accuse you of failing them.”

            “Zelena?” A switch suddenly goes off and I start to remember something I’d long forgotten. An image of a women with long blond hair in a ponytail and green eyes pops into my head, seeming to bring heartache with it. This woman in my head looks a lot like…my mother. But it’s not my mom.

            “Who…who is Zelena?” He looks at me with uncertainty. “Who was she dammit!”

            “She was your aide. She was taking care of all your needs when you first got here and through the first five months or so. She was unusually calm around you, so she got closer than the others.”

            “Was? What do you mean was? Where is she now then?” He’s silent. “Where is she!”

            “She’s dead! It was an accident. You were very fond of her because she looked a lot like your mother, so you developed…well a crush of sorts. You’d calm down a lot when she was with you and especially liked it when she’d cuddle you. We told her many times she shouldn’t, no matter how calm you were, but she saw you like a little brother and so she couldn’t help herself. Things were ok, but then some idiot left the door open and you looked out. You saw her kiss her boyfriend who also worked here and became enraged. You transformed and she tried to calm you down like she normally would. But you were too far gone to pull you back as she normally could, but by the time she realized it…it was too late.” I stagger backwards and suddenly everything becomes clearer.

            “Are saying that I…I…I killed her?” I start to shake and tremble as the reality kicks in.

            “It was an accident! Just a really unfortunate accident. She knew the risks; she’d never blame you. In fact, her last words were that you were a good boy and she begged us not to hurt you. It was then that we realized a particular level of electricity could stun you back to normal. However, it was strong and so between that and the shock of what you’d done, you forgot all that. We felt it was for the best.”

            Like an electric bolt, everything comes rushing back into my head and I remember everything. Her face, her touch, her laugh, her smell, even the beat of her heart. I loved her like a mother, sister and lover. Pretty much a type for everyone I lost. She filled the void that losing mom, Caleb and Rachel left in me. Deep down I knew she was older and was probably with someone her own age, but I was living in a fantasy where it was just she and I. So when I saw her kissing that man, I felt more rage than I’d ever felt before and suddenly I blacked out. I don’t remember anything between that and waking up in my bed, but I had felt like something was missing. I just never knew what. Now I do.”

            I shake even more, feeling as though I might lose it again. I haven’t felt like this in a really long time. Just as I feel like I’m slipping, I feel two hands grab my shoulders tightly and pin me against the wall. “Pull yourself together Noah! I don’t want to have to use it, but you know I will if I must.” He’s referring to the device in my head. The one they’d used that day. He looks me dead in the eyes. There’s no laughter there anymore. I feel pressured to explode, but somehow I find the strength to pull back. I catch my breath and finally get my heart rate back to a normal rate. “I’m ok now Tahno. Thanks.”

            He drops his hands and takes a breath of relief. “Jesus, you scared me man! Don’t do that.”

            “I highly doubt you were actually scared. Not the big bad Tahno. You know no fear.”

            “Eh, you’d be surprised. Honestly, you’re just a terrifying guy. I’m scared of demon you.”

            “Yea, well so am I. I don’t want to be this. A monster that can kill people, accidents or not.”

            “Then don’t be. You don’t have to be that monster inside of you. You can be who you’ve always been, Noah Gremory. Now that’s a good kid. That’s the kid who’s gonna lead our task force.”

            “You’re still on that? I told you, I don’t want to be a leader who rules over his team. I don’t want them to serve me and treat me like a god. I’m not better than them, so I should be a normal member.”

            “This is all precisely why you’re the best man for the job. Your humbleness and respect is what’s going to separate you from all the other generals around. I want you to form a team with people just like you, well minus being demons of course. I have four kids who are lost just like you and need to be found. I think you are the last piece they need to bring it together. The five of you are amazing on your own, but just think of how amazing you’ll be as a team of Junsui hunters who started out as friends. Building a strong friendship between you all is what will make you the strongest team around, thus you will truly be the elite. The best of the best. However, those kids will never make it without you. They all have very intense quirks, personalities, faults or whatever that make them easily clash with other’s. However, your neutral demeanor and indifferent attitude is exactly the glue that they need to unite them all. So it can’t be anyone else Noah. It just has to be you. So what do you say, you in?”

            I don’t really know what he’s talking about and it all seems really annoying, but I suddenly remember something important. My brother’s last words to me were to be a man that he could look up to. A man who will be strong and can destroy the monsters who took so many innocent lives. All this time I’ve been loathing myself, but I never really thought that maybe I could use all this hate and anger and direct it at the true enemy, the brat and his slutty mother. I vowed to take them down, so I will. “ok.”

              “Alright! That’s awesome. Well then, let’s get right to it. I’m sure everyone has had ample time to make themselves more comfortable. Let’s go meet your new best friends!” He playfully walks away and with an eye roll, I follow. He takes me to this sector that looks very modern, but also isolated. As we walk inside I see a red headed guy eating an apple as a green haired guy sits on a stool playing with a little rabbit. I also see a pink haired girl looking terrified, hiding behind a blue haired guy…wait, that’s a girl since she’s got a ponytail and she just glares at me as she shields the other girl. I look at Tahno.

              “This is my team?” They all look at us as though we’re intruding in their space.

              Tahno just laughs. “Well then, now that we’re acquainted, let’s get this started.”

              I look back to them and start to question, just what have I gotten myself into

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