As the pod leaked out any sealed air that had been encased inside of it, from the slight amount of puffy fog, Akio lay unaware and ignorant of his own resurfacing. It was fortunate for someone who cared for him spread her arms out and kept his limp body upright.
"Akio…?" She trembled as she silently whispered. "…Akio…? No…No…"
After witnessing the death of his father, Saeko did not want to see and feel Akio slip away into death's slumber. Putting him down gently, Saeko felt her stomach churn as she held the cold, practically lifeless hand. It happened so fast, but she did not want to see Akio die, repeating the same experience in their times of parting.
Saeko could feel her eyes filling to the brink with tears as she lay her head down on his cold chest. It was as if any desire or motivation to stand tall faded away graciously. She could feel her strength and pride diminishing, dying with the last true flame of the Jedi spirit. Any hope that would have resided in her aching heart, the burden of that hope dissipated and she felt trapped in a state of sorrow that may prolong until the end of life and time.
That voice…it was enough for her to feel her to be taken by surprise. Before taking a glance at him, she could feel her heart skip a beat and her lungs give out. This time however she did not lose energy from aching sadness, but from enlightening joy. She didn't lose him.
She took the time to savor her joy, the warm feeling of being held in his embrace, closing her eyes and felt that sense of alertness melt away with the tears after the blink.
"I am so sorry…" She gently spoke, choking on her words.
Unknown to Saeko, Akio was still conscience in his mind even if he appeared to be dead. The veil of the Force and his connection to it had not been severed, making him well aware of making the connection between his own recent epiphany and Saeko's trembling.
"…My father…" Akio sighed. "He is at peace. His soul is one with the Force."
Once again, Saeko found herself dumbfounded. It's as if he had been there when she was holding Juro's hand at the time of his death. It's as if the tears that needed to be shed, the pain that needed to be felt, had already come to pass thus allowing him to cope and move forward. And yet with the stillness in his voice, she could still feel the unstableness coarse through his body through the typical orchestrated beats of his heart.
"Are you okay?" Saeko whispered in question, continuing her struggle to speak coherently.
"Saeko…" Akio grumbled with a hint of bluntness in his voice that startled her. "Give me my lightsaber."
Saeko shot her eyes open and pushed herself back to stare into his daunting red eyes.
"LIGHTSABER." He repeated.
Remaining compliant to his request, Saeko retrieved the two weapons that she had to drop on the ground when she was originally in mourning for him. His facial expression, his slow and yet snarls of breath. They only indicated the deriving thirst for battle that was needed at this crucial moment. When he stood back up on his feet, Saeko had also begun to notice that Mr. Shido and Mizuki had already departed without her knowing it.
Saeko would soon watch her closest friend depart as well. She was deeply saddened in watching him turn away and she tried to rile up the courage to say one last thing to him…but she couldn't say those three words.
Instead, she helplessly sobbed quietly and planted herself down on her hands and knees, only hoping and praying for this torment to be over whilst routing for his victorious outcome that he deserved.
For now, Saeko needed to do what she could do with any focus and strength that she could muster. She started to walk over to her downed companions and began tapping them, shaking them, whatever necessary tug it took so they could come through and pick themselves off the ground.
Knowing the very risk he was taking in accepting the challenge that had purposefully been placed upon him in order to lure him in, he approached that challenge regardless of the scheming purpose set to possibly trap him. For all he was concerned, he had his lightsaber, he had full imbuement in the Force, Akio would not waste this one opportunity to face his former master in a duel.
All that stood between him and fighting Minister Shido, possibly even to the death, was one push of a button on an elevator panel to go to his office.
As the elevator carried itself from within its depths to the very top of City Hall, Akio stood still and quiet, able to hear the sporadic pumping from his heart. In addition to the fast heartbeat, the metal door gave him an incentive to reflect, kept accompanied by the sight of his own reflection that stared back at him.
An unsolidified amount of memories, both good and bad, seemed to sporadically roll around in his mind as he continued to stare at his one and only self. Who was really looking back at him? Was he the Jedi Knight that was represented as a symbol of hope for those fighting both in the future and the present? Or was he the Sith Lord that only sought to join in the reformation of the cursed world by eliminating anyone that was working against the flow of the scheme?
He sighed. It was soon just about time and he would soon truly find out if he was going to be one of those two things, or none of them. With the elevator signifying its arrival to the floor, his lightsaber was raised up and he cautiously took wide strides across the floor. Guided by the blue glow that illuminated from his weapon, listening out for anyone or anything, he began to hear weak whimpers echoing from up ahead.
Maintaining his cautiousness, he felt confused and conflicted as to if he was hearing the accursed voice of Darth Rin or the delicate voice of Mizuki Muto. He would soon be able to get his answer in just mere steps ahead. There she was.
On the ground, appearing as though she had been immobilized, her dark suit withered and her respirator sounding awfully raspy, she could see him approaching and she reached out as a plea and cry for help. With quick haste, he dropped down to his knees and let go of his lightsaber.
"I'm here…" He said soothingly, clutching her leather gloved hand.
Even as her voice came through, free from the disguise from speaking through a voice modifier, he could hear every soft and weak word spoken even through her obstructive mask that still covered her head.
"I want to go home…"
When he heard those words…in that tone…in that voice…his chest began to tighten and his eyes began to water and yet he did not allow tears to escape his eye lids. He hung his head over and tightening his grip, he stood silent and eager, doing what he could to numb the aching pain.
When he brought his head back up, he saw the offering of her own weapon as he felt a tense unwavering feeling of dread coursing through her weak hand.
"Fix the world…find…find…"
It soon stopped at the last words…
It appeared far too late…her respirator no longer functioned, her head lay back, and the cold sensation of her essence slipping away washed over him as her vitals grew silent. Alas, Akio Jin still had a job to do, a destiny to fulfill. Her death would not stop him in his tracks, it would not falter him backwards.
He would continue to go forward even if these last few steps were the heaviest, toilsome steps he had to take in order to face him. Akio glanced at her lifeless body one last time before finally rising back on his feet and finally accepting Mizuki's parting gift and retrieving his own. Even now, when it felt so easy to give in to all of his anger, his dark feelings, the two lightsabers held activated in his two hands.
Red and Blue. Blue and Red.
Just the visual representation suitable for the wavering state of Akio's very soul. Time would be the judge to determine whether the darkness or the light will prevail over one another. And that time to finally determine that was now.
"So…you have come at last."
There he was, trying to shield himself behind the confines of his large chair that marked his authority as the Minister of Japan. More grudgingly so, the chair's tall back was perpendicular to Akio's line of sight and Shido was right there on the other side, waiting for him to attack as he stared out into the city that resided past his large window.
"I have been doing this for many years Akio Jin but NEVER have I found an adversary as persistent and relentless as you. That's putting it in the slightest my apprentice."
Not thinking twice, seeing as though this was a perfect opportunity and an open window…a literal one, Akio channeled the energy of the Force through his palm with the full intent of flinging him out of the window. He was however too slow but the results were still catastrophic and destructive. The floor's structure in which the path of energy unleashed was ruptured, and the chair alongside the desk flew out past the shattering glass.
With very good warning and awareness, Akio stood his ground and listened out for Minister Shido's re-appearance, which he could still hear the sounds of his voice echoing from all around him, speaking softly and firmly.
"In my eternal quest, overseeing the destruction of the Jedi Order, overseeing preparations for someone with great potential, I have learned many things…things that are of interest to you my young apprentice."
Everything that appeared to have been there seemed to tear apart, as far as Akio was concerned. The very fabric of existence seemed to alter and shift in an unparalleled level. It first began as Akio could feel himself plundering down a dark hole and landing rather roughly in an empty place void of anything, now disarmed.
Even though the dark ground itself appeared dark and empty and was solid to the touch, the lightsabers still sunk into the ground with a splash, ripples forming as if the weapons passed through a surface of water. Akio was convinced that this was some form of trickery. Akio was convinced that this was a twisted manipulation of the Force attempting to corrupt his perception of reality and trap him.
It couldn't have been done by none other than his former master.
"I have the answers that you and your family have been searching for. Do you recall? Let me show you."
Akio felt voluntarily uncompliant to his request. The steps ahead were filled with the entirety of echoes and voices, seeping out from the depths of the past and the exceeding trails of the future. Despite any curiosity he refused to listen or even take a small glimpse as any attempt would have only brought out further heartache and pain. He continued to walk forward with his palms covering his ears and his hands clutching the top of his head.
"With great knowledge comes great responsibility. It took you long enough to get here. To be honest, I would have assumed that you would have ran over to me just as soon as the collapse of the world began. You didn't. You decided that all you knew, all that you have learned under my wing was just too much to handle for one person. Instead, you handed it out to those you called friends. How about it my apprentice? Can you convince your friends to join us?"
Akio wanted to lash out and just scream with all his might in compensation to the pain, so he may share his disdain attitude towards his propositions. The next time Akio listened to his former master speak his voice was filled with aggravation and impatience, which pierced his ears and made his head shudder in throbbing pain.
"You still wish to remain ignorant hmm? JEDI?! Is that who you make yourself to be? Is that what your friends make yourself to be? Or perhaps…is it I?"
Shido's voice soon began to brittle back into its original calm and firm state, which allowed the pain in Akio's mind to be released simultaneously along with the silence that grew from the voices ceasing in their uproar.
"Let me start over and talk this through with you Akio Jin."
"Yes…" As if entranced, submitting himself to the Sith, Akio bowed his head and bent down on one knee. "Tell me everything…Master."
Shido waited for a moment, allowing the cold chill to settle in on his so-called 'young apprentice' before he could deliver the speech that had been yearning for so long to get out. There needed to be a certain degree of assurance that the person he deemed necessary to receive this speech was taking it all in. He spoke slowly but he spoke fluently.
"I have lived for so long…I have seen many things…I have foreseen all that must be done and all that has been done. The truth is, my time is nearly coming to an end and I need someone to take control of the Holocron's power. One can only hold so much immortality. Everything and everyone confronts its mortal end eventually."
"Yes…" Akio exhaled. "Immortality…Power…"
"Of all the many apprentices I have had over the years, of all those young children I sought to control, I finally had an epiphany. It had to be you. I have to be blunt with you Akio, all of you were special but YOU on the other hand...HO! HO! HO! YES…you were the son of the last surviving guardians."
Those words caught his utmost attention and it brought him back into solid focus of his own state of mind. Akio rose up from off the ground, clenched his teeth and curled his fists.
"Yes…" Akio blankly nodded, expanding on the subject before being interrupted. "Yes of course. My family has been responsible for protecting-"
"Every single myth and lore that had been passed down generation after generation. This information was not just for every Jedi Knight, nor Sith for that matter. Not everyone knew what to do with the information regarding our…'Origins'…and when I say 'our' origins I mean the Jedi, the Sith, the Force. Everything is stashed away somewhere in one book. It's such a far more precious and delicate thing than our mortalities itself."
"I am more than ready to further my study with the secrets my family has been guarding for years. It's NOT meant to be read by anyone I feel is trespassing!"
"Trespassing?! Be careful of what you say BOY. I am giving you the Holocron in return for the secrets the Jin family, as you know, had been protecting for years."
"Those secrets do not belong to you."
"Do you even know the little details contained within those secrets? Do you not understand its stupendous value? No…I suppose not…you're still too young to understand. All you have really been shown was just how to construct your lightsaber in the same design identical to that of the 'Chosen One'. The one who was destined to bring balance to the Force. The one destined to draw the line between the dark and the light."
"I am well aware of the story you speak of master but I am not changing my answer. Those secrets are not yours."
"If you give them to me, then I will show you-"
Coming out of the cowardly shell of the shadows, Shido took shape of himself to stand in his physical form, face to face with Akio. In all his glory, Ichirou Shido held an ignited red lightsaber in his hand and wore his properly groomed dress pants along with a suit and tie. Akio's further responses only continued to disappoint him and it was at his own regret that he would need to sweep him away.
Perhaps he needed to hold on for much longer until he could find someone else down the road. He could care less if it would take him another hundred more years. His patience was undying. Shido was a man of patience, along much trial and error.
"I am not your slave." Akio growled, glaring from a few feet. "And the legacy is not yours to take."
"CAN'T YOU SEE BOY?!" Shido exclaimed in an infuriating matter. "There's a lot more that your family possesses other than the key to the past. Much more!" Letting out a sigh as his mouth drooped into a frown, he shook his head and continued to exaggeratedly speak as Akio seemed to rub his chin. "You yourself, son of one of the very last Jedi guardians, don't even know how much value lies in wait. The opportunities that could be pursued beyond the Earth you know...!"
Raising an eyebrow, watching Akio fixated in his silent posture, Shido waited rather anxiously awaiting the response that he was so eager to hear from his 'young apprentice'. From his point of view, Akio appeared to be developing a particular interest in what Shido described to him as the 'world beyond'. From one second to the other, Akio went from rubbing his chin, to flexing his eyebrows up and down, then finally to a slow nod.
"Yes. YES! You see it don't you?!" Shido asked impatiently. "NOW! Tell me what you see."
"A city…" Akio murmured.
"An entire planet covered by a technologically thriving city…inhabited by many both extra-terrestrial and man..."
"The Jedi…the Sith…they fight against one another in conflict, plotting against one another to wipe each other out. Two governments…one who's in control…one who is plotting the destruction of the two and start a new…"
Overwhelmed by the excessive pressure that squeezed his mind, Akio curled up down on the ground. His muscles ached and his blood shivered. Never had he experienced such a vision so exhilarating nor painful. It was as if he was feeling the pain of death many times in the harboring humiliation of execution, hearing the silent screams of betrayal. When it all subsided, he could barely hear anything besides a buzzing echo that filled his ear drums and blocked out all other forms of sound.
Akio could have sworn he was hearing Shido's muffled voice pass through his incapacitated hearing, but he was unable to interpret anything. Regardless, Akio had already heard and realised what had already been shown to him through the Force.
"If this place truly does exist," Even if Akio was unable to hear himself, he was still well aware of what he was saying. "I cannot allow you to reach it."
Alarmed, Shido could hear the gushing hums of wind crack the air and strode forward with his weapon before anything else would go beyond his foreseeing view of things. Before his lightsaber could make contact with Akio, Akio had already called his weapons out from within the darkness and defended himself. It was his one red blade clashing against the blue and red blades that fended the young Jedi from instant death within his own manifested world.
"If you will not provide me the book's location then I regret to inform you that you will soon meet your demise here." Shido snarled with a hint of threat in his voice.
"I'll kill you before I even say a word!" Akio retorted.
"Of course you should." Shido mused.
Their blades continued to remain locked against one another and both tried urgently to throw each other off their feet. As those clashing attempts perpetuated, something rather peculiar was occurring with Akio. Shido could feel that wind again, and he could feel himself losing his strength and balance, sensing a surge of energy channeling from within. He was not taken by surprise but the force of that surge still pushed him back and left him with scraped marks on the ground.
"There's my apprentice…!" Shido winced in pain as he chuckled. "Arise Darth Yuudai! Arise! Show me your strength with the Dark Side of the Force!"
Staring at his young opponent with vivid focus and confidence, Shido observed the change that had taken form within the strength that churned Akio's body. It was as if the full power of Mother Nature itself had engulfed Akio, granting him full immunity to the intense amount of lightning that was surging through him and out onto the outer core of his flesh.
It was a pleasing sight to see that blend of blue and purple electricity dancing wildly all about Akio's body. So much so that the master was willing to surrender to the apprentice.
Shido laughed maniacally, holding both of his arms wide open just waiting to welcome the oncoming onslaught that was about to be surely unleashed. Akio summoned the electricity to his finger, allowing the energy to build up and form a ball contain within his palms. When he chose to let go, a round sphere of electricity was shot at him. Upon contact Akio found himself still alive in the flesh, shot back in the true reality, back inside Minister Shido's office.
The windows were still shattered.
The desk was still gone.
His lightsabers were still there planted near his side where he had dropped them.
Akio breathed a sigh of relief and sat himself back up. He had to recuperate after having to experience that peculiar manifested dark place that he was warped into via his own conscience. The affects were still present and his mind still felt rather scrambled, but not completely broken. His only wish was to never be manipulated again in anyone's mind game, whether if it was his own unintended doing, or someone else's.
Curling his eyes over to his sides, acknowledging the announcement of his name coming from a firmly sounded voice from an older woman, he shifted slowly to see who it was.
"Have you come here under the orders of what remains of the military?" Akio questioned as he turned his head halfway, noticing her attire.
"Originally yes." She replied, noticing the one side of his face. "I managed to come across your little band of friends. Didn't you notice me knocked out?"
"I do apologize, I was in a rush." Akio told her, seeing a hand being offered to him.
"Well you sure as hell made a fine mess." She smirked, pulling him up to his feet while scanning the wreckage in the office. "Officer Rika Minami at your service. You're the Jedi I've heard so much about. It's a privilege to finally meet you."
"Thank you." Akio returned the greeting, shaking her hands with his.
In that short time that he shook the soldier's hand, Akio stumbled slightly and began to shiver with jolting astonishment. His gasp was perceivable to the ear, and the sense of shock really showed on his bewildered face.
"Are you alright?"
Looking into Akio's eyes, she still sensed that there was still a lingering sting of pain and grief that was present. She put her hands over his shoulders and continued her gaze, beginning to feel that contagious sensation of pain, having realised where that pain was coming from. She knew she still had a job to do, and the others may need assistance. She wanted to make this moment very brief.
"I'm so sorry for your loss." She whispered, patting him on one of his shoulders. "C'mere. C'mere."
Akio felt rather secure being in the arms of this female soldier that had come to his aid. He was not intolerant nor was he showing any sign of refusal when she pulled him in and allowed for him to rest his head just against her collar bone, slightly above her breasts. Within the rather strong grip in the woman's hug, Akio felt a sense of gratitude and pity directed at him. He then soon began to figure it out…she wasn't hugging him solely for trying to comprehend his own loss and sorrow, but she too needed to be held in his embrace so that he could understand hers…
"Those men and women…those soldiers…they-"
"Shhhh…Don't think about that…there's nothing you could have done…" She whispered, stroking his hair.
It was Rika's turn to be caught by surprise. She was fully aware that one of the most powerful incentive to take this mission in the first place was to stand for the lost, fallen brothers and sisters who had investigated Minister Shido's secret operations previously. She didn't consider fellow members of the Self Defense Force exclusively as her brothers and sisters but she considered all soldiers from any faction that had been sent as well.
What really troubled her was the amount of pressure that Akio seemed to be placing on himself but at the same time, she was mildly proud of him. She was proud of the fact that Akio really wanted to make amends to recognize the agony that had come from those who tried and failed to uncover the truth while he was under Shido's imprisonment. She was however still concerned as to if it was really worth to see someone still so very young to handle this much lingering pressure with little time to even rest his weariness.
'It must have been so hard' she would have thought. She still needed to make sure that Akio Jin was still capable of taking more giant leaps in the very last quadrant of the journey, despite all that she would have presumed he could feel.
"I know that vengeance is not exactly your strong point, I understand that but are you ready for one last fight?" Rika asked him, once again gripping his shoulders. "…For them at least…?"
For a moment, Rika seemed to view Akio's expressions. She could see that his attention was slipping away and he was going into a persistent state of distraction. She shifted her head back to see what he was seeing…nothing was there…
What she heard next only confused her more.
"Goodbye father…Goodbye Mizuki…I will be with you soon…"
Akio looked sad but yet relieved. Did he sense a spirit of his departed Jedi peer finally go free as if ascending to peace? Heaven? She just didn't want to ask and thought it was best to just leave the subject for now. Maybe she'll ask him later.
Looking into the scope of her PSG1, she scanned the area down in the streets to assess the situation, to see if the others were making it out quickly. What she found was utter chaos and an impossibly unequal battle. It seems that in terms of numbers, the zombies had the upper hand against the others trapped right outside City Hall's door step.
"Okay…what do we got? Holy hell that's a ton of zombies…"
Even worse…those zombies seemed like they were acting more reserved and patiently compared to the ones she encountered before. They looked like someone was controlling them. They were all going in small groups, bit by bit, and Rika had to provide some occasional cover fire for the ones who were in trouble below.
"You got something?" Rika asked.
"He's right there at the front of them waiting for me…" Akio sighed. "I have to end this now."
"WOAH! Where are you going?!" Rika grabbed Akio's arm before he took a single step out towards the window. "You can't just charge at him! And we're up at least twenty stories!"
Shaking off her grip, Akio lunged out the window regardless and started to hurl himself towards Shido himself with both of his lightsabers in hand. She continued to watch through the scope and found herself feeling rather amazed as to how graceful his fall appeared. Rika couldn't tell whether Akio was scared of falling from such a height, or if he was regretting it, but what she could make out was that he was in complete control of his descent.
She then adjusted the scope and pointed it at Minister Shido, identifying a peculiar looking artifact that began to intrigue her.
"What do we have here?"
In his hand, lay a pyramid shaped that was just as big as the hand it was hovering over. It appeared to glow red in color and seemed to glow with much radiance and vicious power. With the object, Shido appeared rather welcoming with open arms greeting Akio down below when he landed in front of him with a mild boom.
"Okay…What are you up to…?"
Like treating it as if it were a gift, Minister Shido presented the artifact to him and seemed to appear rather forceful about it. She could see them conversing for a few moments. As she watched them, Rika also scoped around the zombies as if they were growing much more anxious to feed waiting for some sort of signal. The next thing she knew, she began to witness the occurring death of Minister Shido as a lightsaber penetrated his abdomen. It wasn't Akio's doing…it was his own…his own lightsaber, his own hand.
As for the artifact, Akio took hold of it as Shido…he seemed to be disappearing. That seemed to be that. The artifact was in Akio's hand and Akio seemed to use that artifact to somehow make the entire band of zombies drop to the ground. It happened in the instance of a blinding purple light that engulfed the entirety of...well…everywhere. The zombies in front of Akio were dead, but what of the rest?
What about the world? What about Akio himself? Rika worried about those things as she remembered seeing Akio struggle when the light spread about.
It was finally over…Akio Jin's journey was finally over…the last walk he needed to take was a walk that he needed to walk alone…his former master was gone, the bodies that have been possessed and zombified were finally lay to rest, and he was still himself even if he held the accursed Holocron that gave him the knowledge needed to control of the un-dead. The only things he was going to miss out on was when the entire world would soon know his name and the celebrations soon to probably come.
All he needed was momentary time away from his friends and allies to go alone and welcome himself back home. Yes…his house, very close to the water's shore. It wasn't a luxurious home, nor was it the most astounding place, but it was his place he felt comfortable in which to rest. There was pretty much no functioning power, but for now he needed rest that night after the great conclusion of his journey…
He lay in his room, tucked in his own futon. He stared at the clear moonlight that poured into his room and gazed upon the sight of his Jedi lightsaber and the Sith Holocron. Whatever future there was set out for him after this long struggle, he would hope that he would be prepared to face it while in guidance of the spirits that watched over him.
Before he lay his head back down, he caught a glimpse of a transparent blue figure that took the shape of Mizuki Muto as if she was matching her age when she had died in the suit. Despite her ghostly figure, Akio was still captivated by her radiating beauty. She looked really beautiful in the Jedi robes she wore and she was just as beautiful as she was in the flesh.
The figure smiled at him then disappeared into the cold night air right as he closed his eyes, wondering if anything lied ahead.