Darla

A warm candlelight flickers in a Japanese styled darkened corridor. The flame reflects off the polished black-tiled floor and dances across the polished kozane, ita-mono and kusari parts of the armour worn by the five guards lined at one end of the corridor.

The Japanese armour and architecture is not unusual. Since Japan dropped their atomic bomb on America in 1945 in retaliation for Nagasaki, they have been the dominant world power on Earth, economically, politically and culturally. No, the unusual thing about this scene is the silence. The corridor appeared devoid of sound, almost as if the room had been muted.

A guard stands in front of a heavy ancient Eastern wooden door at the end of the corridor. He, like the other guards, are vigilant and motionless, enacting their duties with a discipline akin to that of the Samurai warriors of old, from whom their order had descended.

Without warning, the wooden door explodes, sending the three closest guards flying across the room. These three guards are instantly torn to shreds, their robust armour, forged in battles to uphold truth and honour, pierced by the force of shrapnel from a door. The deaths of the guards are just, as a door guarded with diligence and respect is a door worthy of an honourable death.

The two remaining guards who are further away from the explosion have a split second longer to react and use their quarterstaffs to shield themselves from the blast. They now stand battle ready to defend against the silhouette of the male figure, standing in the rising smoke of the exploded door.

The guards know who he is, they have all expected this day to come.

Braytak stoods in the open doorway, with the smoke from the explosion billowing around him. He is wearing the more practical and less ceremonial parts of his amour as he needs to move quickly, and is confident that his decades of training, his abilities with a quarterstaff, and his resolve will justify his forced decision to leave behind, not just his precious amour, but so much more.

Braytak engages the guards in a mixture of martial arts and quarterstaff blasts, dispatching them with the in the style of the ancients out of subconscious respect for his clan brothers. Their defeat clears his path and he begins to run with purpose down the corridor. This will not be his only encounter, more brothers may die.

—-

Darla wakes to find that she is alone in her room. She reaches up onto her toes in order to reach the latch that will allow her to open the sliding door to her room. She walks into the main living still rubbing the sleep from her eyes. It is then that she looks up, and there on the kitchen counter, she sees the note.

Darla does not need to read it. She knows what it says. She registers a faint but distinctive smell of burning wood, and she knows, she is not ready. She needs to find him, to tell him not to go. There must be another way, we have more time.

She turns and runs to the front door. She can still catch him, there is still time.

She opens the front door which heralds a Japanese style courtyard. She runs around the carp ponds a see the smouldering, exploded door leading out to the main complex. This is her father’s work. She will need to be quick.

She steps through the smoking doorway into the devastation left in her father’s wake, and over the bodies of the men that had sat with her at their dinner table and trained with her in the courtyard. She has seen death before. She lives in a world where it is part of her family code.

Darla continues with the quest of her own, expectantly following the hasty beaten path of devastation laid in front of her by her father, seemingly moments before.

—-

Braytak enters a large circular crossroad of corridors and is met by more guards, keen on impeding his progress. They all pause for a moment in reverence for the battle to come, then they proceed to engage in their delicate but deadly dance in a stylised and technical battle. Braytak is superior in his fighting style and dispatched the guards in a timely manner before continuing to run down the corridor on his path.

Further along, Braytak dispatches two more guards and now faces the final ancient wooden door, the main door to the complex. He stands his quarterstaff by his side and takes a moment to catch his breath. He contemplates the significance of this moment, then pushes the heavy doors open with both hands to move from the once tranquil Japanese complex, to reveal the inside levels of a busy and thriving space station.

Unphased by the spectacular view, Braytak focuses on the ramp of a spaceship which is blocked by three more guards, one of whom in the middle, is set apart by his lack of helmet. His stance and bearing further indicate his elevated rank. The guards have been waiting for this encounter and take up their Kata.

Spinning his quarterstaff in anticipation of the battle to come, Braytak takes a moment to remember what is at stake and the purpose of his sacrifice, before making his advance towards his final obstacles.

Braytak dispatch two of the guards, however the leader is proving a more worthy opponent as he gains advantage over the Braytak and knocks his quarterstaff from his hand.

Disadvantaged but still determined Braytak continues to fight his opponent until finally disarming him and knocking him out with the man’s own quarterstaff.

Braytak looks back at his own quarterstaff but determines that it is too far out of reach and there is no more time left at his disposal, so he continues to board the ship. He does not take this decision lightly, as his quarterstaff has been on his side and in his hand for his entire life. From the day that he was instructed to build the weapon that would defend him in countless battles, and both save and rescue hundreds of souls. Second only to his own daughter and his duty to her, his quarterstaff will be the hardest thing to leave behind.

The doors of his ship close just as Darla enters the spaceport platform where the ship is preparing to launch. She runs towards the ship but is grabbed on the leg by one of the guards who is lying on the floor. The guard rises and grips her around the chest from behind, lifting her off the ground. She is in distress, not because of the guard, but of his grip which has taken away her last chance to change her father’s mind.  

As the ship begins to launch, the guard releases his grip and they both fall to the floor. Darla stretches out her hand as if to try to stop the ship. She knows that is too late, and in one final last attempt to stop her father she screams into the void “WAIT!!!”

Her cry is in vain, as the ship begins to move away from the dock. Darla drops her hand and it lands on her father’s quarterstaff.

The guard looms over her but she does not seem to notice. She uses the staff to get to her feet, and with the familiarity and confidence of a weapon she has known her entire life, she collapses the quarterstaff to the size of a lightsabre hilt at the flick of a switch. Sher grips it tightly, understanding its significance.

The guard quietly moves beside her and rests his arm upon her shoulder in comfort. The two both watch helpless as the ship flies away leaving them alone on the dock.

—–

In Darla’s room, on a table next to the opened door where the latch still swings from the movement of the earlier engagement, stands a Yuroqan flower. The plants are often presents from parents to children, because the plants are sensitive to mood and emotions, and act as an early warning cheat system for parents. The Yuroqan plan, normally green and soft with razor sharp leaves, slowly crystallised into a hard dark fortified shell. In nature, this reaction is designed to protect the plant from predators and shield it from harm.

~ by jeditopcat on 13 March, 2021.

 
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