Chapter 19:

The Price of Perseverance, Part 1


Yukio was sitting on the bed, his palms covering his face. Wei was sitting beside him, rubbing his back and shoulders. If it was any other time, he would’ve had a strong reaction to that.Bookmark here

But after what he heard, it was the last thing on his mind.Bookmark here

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After Sugi was told where Yukio discovered the ring, he was confused. According to him, it was a weapon of the now-extinct Meredies. The Meredy were part of a really advanced civilization in the planet Ibisa. They were responsible for the creation of lots of strange, powerful weapons that were operated by Rima; something no other planets have been able to achieve. Some of their weapons can be found in various planets, and they are mainly used by its rulers.Bookmark here

As Wei was curiously checking the ring, Yukio said, “What does it do?”Bookmark here

“Well, even we don’t know its full powers,” Sugi was looking at the ring as he answered, “All we know is that it creates a layer of Rima around your body, possibly even enhances it. It basically makes you invincible. You can punch through anything, take down anyone, all without getting injured. Well, unless you’ve been thrown against a wall a few times.”Bookmark here

So that was how he was able to survive…Bookmark here

After returning from Earth 2.0, when he was throwing away his dirty clothes, he had taken out the ring. Not sure what to do with it, he kept it in his pocket. He did the same when leaving for Kegmar, which is why Amanda hadn’t noticed it…Bookmark here

Wait, Kegmar?Bookmark here

“Okay, where am I? What is this place? And you said everyone has been lying to me, why should I-”Bookmark here

“Calm down,” Sugi looked at him with a serious expression, “I will tell you everything. As for now, we need to take this ring. Hope you don’t mind.”Bookmark here

“Why would I give anything to Minus-”Bookmark here

“You’re not giving anything to them. When I say ‘we’, I mean the Barogs.”Bookmark here

“What?”Bookmark here

“Yes,” clearing his throat, Sugi declared, “You are not in Kegmar. You are in Kanuna. More specifically, in the city of Lemia. It’s where we, the Barogs live.”Bookmark here

“We…”Bookmark here

“Yes. My father was Jan Barog. The eldest child of Yun Barog, and the leader of the Barogs of Lemia.”Bookmark here

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“So… everything she said to me…”Bookmark here

“Not everything, obviously.” Sugi and Wei were sitting on a couple of stools, as Sugi spoke, “But yeah, most of what she said were lies. Her parents died when she was little, and then she was adopted by the Tamuras. All her life she has been trained to control her emotions, and lie effortlessly. I know, because I’ve seen her. She is the best Navigator of Minus Plus, and the most ruthless one as well.”Bookmark here

Yukio kept staring at him with a blank expression, while Sugi continued, “Ever since Kiyoshi-san got captured by the Tiztaanians, Megumi-san has started doing these awful things that he would’ve never allowed. Instead of connecting with other planets, she wants to colonize them. She tried that here as well, but things didn’t go her way. So now she used you to-”Bookmark here

“Wait, wait,” Yukio suddenly stopped him, “Slow down. Kiyoshi-san got captured? Tetsuya-san is colonizing planets?”Bookmark here

“Yes, and yes.” Sugi got up, drank water from a glass bottle, and then resumed.Bookmark here

“As I’ve already said, I spent my childhood here. When I first saw him, Kiyoshi-san was the leader of Minus Plus. He was a good person, who also became a good friend of my father. But I didn’t see him for long. Around 10 years ago, he went on a mission to stop the Tiztaanians from waging war with Earth. But someone betrayed him, and the mission failed. He got captured by the Tiztaanians, and they threatened Minus Plus that if any of them goes to Tiztaan, Kiyoshi-san would be executed and Earth would be attacked.”Bookmark here

“How did he get…”Bookmark here

“Well, there are mainly two ways of capturing a Tract. One is by making them wear a Zorth collar. It is like an iron collar worn by slaves, but made by a mineral called Zorth. For some reason, it completely blocks Rima. Which means if you wear something made of it and then Jump, the part covered by it would not move. And you’ll die.”Bookmark here

Yukio had no idea there were so many dangerous weapons.Bookmark here

No one told me anything…Bookmark here

“What is the other way?”Bookmark here

“Mess with our minds, what else. The source of all our powers ultimately come from this,” he said while pointing at his temple, “If someone can successfully mess with this, there’s no way we can use our powers. Which is why Megumi-san’s power is so terrifying…”Bookmark here

“Huh?” Yukio had a bad feeling about it.Bookmark here

“She can mess with people’s heads,” Sugi said with a stern expression, “She can’t give or receive memories like Kiyoshi-san, or my father. But she can get deep inside someone’s mind and make them tell her anything, do anything for her. I don’t know any more than that, and I doubt even Kichiro-san knows more.”Bookmark here

Yukio remembered the Tiztaanian’s words. ‘I will kill the girl. She took my powers.’Bookmark here

“Okay, enough. Night will fall if you continue like this. Tell him the important parts.”Bookmark here

Wei was silent all this while, but suddenly she spoke to Sugi in their language. She probably didn’t know that Yukio still had a TD attached behind his ears.Bookmark here

The one he got from the Tiztaanian.Bookmark here

Sugi nodded at her, and then turned to Yukio, “Okay, I won’t get into any more details. You know by now that they have only wanted to kill you. At first they tried with me, but instead of sending you to a bad planet, I sent you to the Black. Then they-”Bookmark here

“The ‘Black’? What is that?” Yukio forced him to stop.Bookmark here

“Oh God,” shaking his head, he said, “Okay, look. When you came to Ohara for the first time, remember the dark place you went to? That wasn’t a dream. It is a place we simply call the ‘Black’. It’s not a world. You can say that it’s the place that exists between the worlds, a passageway of sorts. I got its memory from my Father. He encountered someone who had visited many worlds, without ever going to them before. In his mind, he found that the memory of all the other worlds was preceded by a memory where the person was just floating in the dark. Anyway, I sent you there so that no one can find you, and I can recall you after coming to Kanuna. And before you ask, yes, I have the power of making people appear before me as well. I still have no idea how you managed to return by yourself, though.”Bookmark here

Yukio wasn’t paying attention to his words anymore. He remembered Sumeragi Sensei’s words; how he needed to ask Kiyoshi-san to know the way someone Jumps to another world without ever visiting it before.Bookmark here

Looks like I got the answer, or part of it. The missing piece is how someone goes to the ‘Black’…Bookmark here

“Okay, tell me if I’m wrong.” Yukio said, surprising the other two.Bookmark here

“Amanda contacted me because I am a ‘Natural’. That much is true, but what she forgot to mention is that a ‘Natural’ has the capacity to hold much, much more Rima than 10th, 20th generation Tracts. I could’ve been an asset to them. But I was also a liability. If the Tiztaanians, or even other planets knew about me, they would’ve attacked Earth to capture me. Instead of thinking of a way they could keep me hidden, they decided to just get rid of me. Am I right?”Bookmark here

Both Wei and Sugi were uncomfortable. They gave him a slight nod.Bookmark here

“They tried to kill me that night at Ohara, but you saved me. Then the Tiztaanians attacked, and any further plans they had got shelved. Then I went to Ebromia with Sumeragi Sensei, and you have no idea whether they planted that monster there as well. Then, for some reason, they told me I was going to Kegmar, but took me to Kanuna…”Bookmark here

“If I’m not completely wrong, there is a reason.” Sugi turned towards Wei and said, “Would you like to tell him the rest?”Bookmark here

“Okay,” she said, meekly.Bookmark here

“My grandfather, the former leader, has a brilliant power. He can not only add Rima to others to disappear and reappear, he can also suck-”Bookmark here

“Hey,” Yukio stopped her, “I have a TD, you see. So feel free to speak in your language.”Bookmark here

Her face was flushed, likely by remembering the words she uttered a while ago.Bookmark here

After a few moments, she resumed confidently in her language, “As I was saying, my grandfather has a great power. He can give others Rima, and he can take Rima from others as well. We already have the power of scattering our Rima around us, so that another one cannot detect us. But my grandfather can take Rima from others and make it his own. Now, the daughter of your leader has a strange disease. She cannot use Rima, and she blocks others from using it as well. For some reason her mother thinks that grandfather would be able to cure her using his power. But we don’t know anything about her disease. He is old. We cannot take the chance.”Bookmark here

“Yes,” Sugi suddenly took over, probably thinking that Yukio was having trouble listening through the TD, “They wanted you to die here. I don’t know how they managed to make a Tiztaanian do their dirty work, but I’d assume Megumi-san is behind it. Anyway, if you, a so-called member of Minus Plus, died here, they would’ve had a reason to go to war with us. Then she could forcefully take everything from us, and also make grandfather use his power on Midori.”Bookmark here

Midori…Bookmark here

Yukio was silent. Amanda had only mentioned her once, and he had never met her. Does she know what’s happening because of her? What her mother is doing?Bookmark here

Speaking of her mother, why does she want to go to war now? Is Sugi correct? Or is there some other reason?Bookmark here

“As I told you, Kiyoshi-san was a good person. He actually established diplomatic relations with many planets. That’s how he came here, and became a friend of my father. That’s how my father met my mother, and had me. I was just 7 when all three of them were gone.”Bookmark here

So he is also…Bookmark here

“I’m sorry… I didn’t know that-”Bookmark here

“It’s okay,” Sugi stopped him by waving a hand, “After they were gone, all the planets that received help from Earth were suddenly treated as slaves. She went to each of the planets, and started stealing valuable weapons, minerals, even people. She came here as well, took me, but saw the power of the Barogs and decided to just keep a friendly relation. Later, when Midori’s ability was revealed, she tried to persuade grandfather, even threatened us with war. To think that she had to resort to this…”Bookmark here

Yukio wasn’t listening anymore. The words were entering his ears, but they didn’t have any real meaning.Bookmark here

All this time, Amanda wasn’t the one who was interacting with him. She was just a puppet, who was dancing with him because someone was making her dance.Bookmark here

She was just a… weapon.Bookmark here

Yukio leaned forward, covering his face.Bookmark here

Wei sat beside him, her hand rubbing his shoulder.Bookmark here

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“I have to go.” Yukio suddenly got up.Bookmark here

“Takanashi, wait. I know where you plan to go. But trust me, there’s no advantage in doing that. At this moment, they think you’re dead, which is why they’ll lay off of you. Stay with us. Now that you know everything about me and-”Bookmark here

“I don’t care,” his eyes had a vacant expression, “I have to go. Please don’t stop me.”Bookmark here

Wei and Sugi exchanged a quick glance. For a few moments, all three of them were silent.Bookmark here

“Okay, you go,” it was Wei who gave him the permission, in Japanese, “But you come back in 15 minutes, okay? And then you work with us.”Bookmark here

Yukio just looked at her, without saying anything. Taking that as a positive response, Wei got up as well.Bookmark here

“We’ll be waiting. I still haven’t told you about our objective. We want to-”Bookmark here

And suddenly Yukio wasn’t there anymore.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.