The Neo-Rakarr: Part Five
"Hurry," Mandrake urged. He hadn't needed Kokyu's instruction
to tell him what to do, as he had with groww=ing horror watched his Master being
duly flung off the cliff. "Oh, hurry, Stonewings!"
Trying…trying… grunted Stonewings. The
Ganuthor had angled his wings to pick up speed and dropped headfirst after them.
You don't have to tell us, commented Didicus
The high wind was tearing, blowing them away
from the two falling figures that they could now see ahead of them. Pretty soon
they were all on an equal level, and Kokyu saw that Aihami had noticed them.
There was a mixture of surprise, joy and fear for them written on her face.
"Try to get nearer," cried Mandrake desperately.
Stonewings obligingly tried to strain closer
to them with all his physical power, but the screaming winds, caught in his
great wings, though keeping him airborne, were pushing them further away from
the falling pair.
Kokyu wondered helplessly what he could do. Mandrake
was nearly sobbing in grief and frustration now, and no matter how high this
mountain was, the ground was inevitably there, coming closer and closer all
the while... He was coming very close to panicking himself…there had to be some
Stop. Think. Breathe...
The instructions came to him, perhaps flying
on the shrieking wind, no more than a whisper in his ears. He could almost hear
Toreb-Master saying them to him for the first time, long ago, back in that sea
cave, back when he was a white-belt. He remembered that day. He had been so
frustrated with himself, as he had tried and tried to attempt a particular technique,
each try in vain. He had been close to tears when the old Acara, who had been
patiently and silently watching his struggles, had placed a paw on his shoulder,
and given him the immortal words that he was to tirelessly repeat to Kokyu,
and later to Shiho, throughout their training lives as Neo-Kidoka.
Stop, think, and breathe...
Kokyu immediately pushed the anxiety aside; it
was interfering with his thoughts. Think now. Think quickly… What's keeping
us from reaching them? The wind. The wind is too strong, stronger even than
Stonewings. What do we do when something is too strong? Don't fight it, there's
no point in pushing blindly against something stronger. Work with it...divert
it...turn it around...
Opening his eyes now, he saw the marine blue
glowing and shimmering through his uniform and fur, through every part of him.
Mandrake's little round body was burning bright yellow-green as he cried to
Stonewings, and a bright golden hue flowed deep within the Ganuthor's large
frame, at a point somewhere between his chest and belly. Didicus gleamed yellow
brown as he clung to Mandrake with all the strength in his small blue body.
And strangely enough, as Kokyu looked around in amazement, he saw the wind,
too, was charged with power, tendrils of sparkling, pale bluish-silver all through
the gale rushing past him, curling and twisting and looping-the-loop with astonishing
speed and strength, unbelievably stronger than any living thing he had encountered.
Lifeforce energy, the energy of the wind...
He knew. He suddenly knew exactly what to do.
"Manny," he called, loudly but calmly. "Tell
Stonewings to glide on the wind, to let it carry him. Don't try to ask why,
just do it!" Something akin to understanding and relief seemed to dawn in the
Jubjub's eyes as he turned back to the Ganuthor. Kokyu felt the grey body beneath
his paws surge and somewhat doubtfully obey.
Now there was no time to be lost. Kokyu faced
the same direction the wind was blowing toward. He was almost blown off the
Ganuthor's back but he bent his knees and sank down, centering himself with
energy. He took a deep breath and cried out a cry that the wind bore away, extending
his paws forward as he did so, pushing out his own power. Blue glowing energy
burst forth from the tips of his paws in threads, twining and plaiting themselves
over and under and between the wild, silver-blue knotty ropes of wind-power.
The force of it almost overwhelmed him as it
filled him. The wind and he were united. He was in the wind; the wind was in
him. The exhilarating feel of wind-flight and the songs of the rushing gale
swept through him. He felt the amazing strength of the wind surging within him,
a force that could easily overcome his own. But he wasn't fighting it, he was
moving with it, and therefore he stood, in control, undefeated.
Keeping his paws steady and himself centered,
feeling the wind's energy almost inextricably enmeshed with his own, Kokyu breathed
deeply again, felt the wind's power carefully, making sure of it, and twisted.
In wonder, he felt it move. The wind was moving
with him as he did, the two of them turning together in harmony, both of them
moving as one in a strange and beautiful kind of dance. Before he knew itm the
gale was blowing in the opposite direction, and slightly downwards.
Stonewings, swallowing his own astonishment,
burst forward as he felt the winds change, diving below the two falling creatures
and catching them effortlessly and gently on his back.
Kokyu relinquished his hold on the wind and
let it blow away to where it would. He had never felt so alive and refreshed.
His own power was flowing freely through his own body, making him aware of every
move his companions made.
He felt the gliding Stonewings manage to make
a four-point landing on a rocky ledge just large enough for all of them to squeeze
onto. The big creature was exhausted, and no wonder. Though it cost him his
strength, he had valiantly fought the gale for as long as he could.
Manny should teach Neo-Kido to the Petpets,
Kokyu thought briefly, watching the Jubjub fervently praising the Ganuthor,
and Didicus, for being so brave. Then he turned to Aihami and forgot them.
She was kneeling beside the red Nimmo, still
rather shaken from his ordeal, and as he came over to her and placed a gentle
paw on her shoulder she looked up into his face and smiled gently, albeit wanly.
"That was some display of energy, Master."
Her tone was light-hearted, but he could tell,
somehow, how grateful she was to him for saving her life, for attempting this
crazy rescue mission in the first place. And somehow this seemed to complement
the swelling relief and joy in his chest at seeing her alive and well again.
Could she tell how happy he was? Probably so. They seemed to have established
some sort of connection between them, in the short time they had known each
He grinned. "I try."
She slapped his paw playfully. "You'll have
to tell me all about it properly when we get back to the training hall... just
as I will tell you about the red-clothed pets, the Neo-Rakarr." Her face grew
somber as she said the words.
Before he could say anything, she turned to the
Nimmo at her side. "First we have to see to this poor creature."
Kokyu, though he burned with curiosity and concern,
could tell that the Nimmo needed immediate attention. He squatted beside Aihami
and put his paw on the Neo-Rakarr's shoulder.
"Greetings to you, friend. Are you alright?"
The Nimmo turned his face to theirs, his countenance
forlorn and doleful. "Alright? I guess I am now, thanks to you all. But what
I've been through…it's a miracle…"
He broke off, shuddering violently. Aihami nodded
to Kokyu, and they both channeled their power into him, soothing the unseen
but no less painful wounds deep within until he found the fortitude to speak
"I was a Neo-Rakarr," the Nimmo said in a flat,
"I had been picked on when I was little, because
I was weaker and slower than the others. When the Neo-Rakarr told me of Neo-Rak,
I thought it would be the solution to my problems, that it would make me stronger,
and then the others wouldn't bully me. But it was awful. I was put in a class,
taught ways to hurt pets, even ones that weren't attacking. I was made to fight
with the other pets in my class, and the ones who constantly lost…well, they
were taken away. I never saw them again or heard what had happened to them.
"I hate hurting things," he broke off, sounding
as if he were struggling. "I just hate it. But I'm still as weak as before.
Is there any way I can avoid being bullied without hurting anyone?"
He turned to the two Aishas with hollow despair
in his eyes, and then slowly that heartbreaking hopelessness began to fade slightly
as memory flooded back. He gazed at Aihami.
"You…you said something, back there, in the chamber,
and up on the cliff…that students should be helped along, not forced by punishment…violence
is never the answer…" he turned his eyes to Kokyu. "And you…it was you who saved
us, I saw you…you turned the wind…How did you do that?"
"We practice the art of Neo-Kido," Kokyu replied,
gently, warmly. "Masters by rank, yet in essence we are still students as well,
and always will be. One never stops learning."
At the Nimmo's uncomprehending stare, Aihami
explained patiently about the art she knew and loved so well. When she had finished
the Nimmo looked at them with eyes that held a new and bright hope, like the
promise of sunrise made by the dawn.
"And this…this art is for peace and for not
"Yes, it is."
"Could I…" The Nimmo paused. "Could I possibly
learn it? I mean, I know I am probably older than most of the students you get,
"Of course you can," Aihami replied tranquilly.
"One is never too old to learn. We'll be glad to start you off once we get back,
and I am sure our students would love to have you. What is your name, friend?"
"The Neo-Rakarr called me Puncher," the Nimmo
replied darkly. "They give all of us new names, and we are instructed to forget
any we may have had before. But before that, my name was… it was… Otau. Yes,
that was it. No one has called me that for too long."
"Nevertheless, that is what we shall call you,"
Kokyu responded. "My name is Kokyu, and this is my friend Aihami."
Otau smiled. "I am so very grateful…to both
of you." He undid his red belt and slipped out of his red uniform. Then he walked
slowly to the edge of the cliff, and let it all fly away with the wind. The
Aishas and the Nimmo watched in silence as the clothes blew away and out of
sight. "Good riddance to all the bad memories," Otau said softly.
"We'd better get back to the training hall."
Aihami gazed up at the sky. "Our students must be worried."
Kokyu agreed, and the three of them walked over
to Mandrake and the two Petpets. The little Jubjub looked down at them from
the Ganuthor's broad grey back joyously.
"I'm so glad you're safe, Aihami-Master," he
burst out. Then his large round eyes turned to the red Nimmo. "But who are you?"
"There will be time for introductions later,"
Kokyu interrupted Otau's response. "Manny, please ask Stonewings to bring us
all home, after he's been well-rested."
"Home," the Nimmo murmured, a new fullness and
wonder present in his voice, of a prisoner, caught for such a long and hard
time in the darkness and cold of winter, emerging at long last into the freshness
and bright warmth of a spring morning. "It has been so long since I heard that