July 14th, 2011 (01:46 PM).
Thank You, Dad
"Where do you think we'll be going?" Sam asked, looking around the empty Great Hall for her father. He had told them to meet him here, but he was nowhere in sight.
"I dunno," said Cindy honestly, "but you know dad...he likes to make an appearance." Truth be told, he hadn't specified what they would be doing, just that they were training...in the dead of night.
"Just stay calm guys," said Donna, searching the room with AP, "he's here...I'm sure of it."
"I dunno," said Sam doubtfully, "if he was, wouldn't he hide his energy?"
"A Sakai can sense life force itself, young Master," Donna explained, "I'm certain Master Rupen is here."
"He's your dad, Don," Sam said irritably, "you should refer to him as such."
"Mother says I should call him Master."
"Yeah...but your mom says a lot of things I don't agree with." Sam said hotly.
"You are more like father than I." Donna said simply.
"That's enough," came Rupen's voice suddenly, "I won't have my girls arguing." Cindy jumped.
"Where are you, dad?" asked Sam, laughing.
"Can't you sense me?" Rupen asked. A shadow rose from the floor, surrounding Sam. The young Sabrean had been taught well, however, and she leaped clear of Rupen's arms as he solidified. She landed a few feet away, still smiling.
"You've grown very quick," Rupen praised her happily, "but...I'm sorry to say your training is about to intensify."
"Where's Natalie?" Cindy asked, "Isn't she your apprentice, too?"
"Young Natalie feels she doesn't need my instruction," Rupen said quietly, "we'll be alone tonight, girls...just you and me. And where we're going is very dangerous, so do exactly as I say."
"Mom says we have nothing to fear as long as we're with you."
"Yeah..." said Rupen, "just listen to me, ok Cindy?"
"Yeah, I won't give any trouble." Cindy said quickly.
"Can I ask where we're going?" Sam asked, as they followed Rupen out of the great hall.
"You can," Rupen said, "but that doesn't mean I'll tell you."
As they walked Sam noticed that, for whatever reason, the corridors were not empty, as they usually were at night. In fact, both Vitani and Sam (Donna and Cindy's mother) stopped them on their way out.
"Are y'all goin' t' train?" Vitani asked, looking at Rupen curiously.
"Yeah," he said, "don't worry, we'll be back soon enough."
"Oh I know y'all're gonna come back," Vitani said quickly, "I jus' wanted t' say goodbye." She took hold of young Sam, and kissed her.
"Mom...stop it," Sam said, blushing, "we're supposed to be Sabreans."
"We are, hon," Vitani said, smiling, "but that don't make no difference." Sam disagreed, however, and ducked away from Vitani.
"Really, Sam," Rupen said disapprovingly.
"No, no," Vitani said with a sigh, "she's just acting like her father...and thank God for that."
Sam smiled as she always did when she was compared to her father. Vitani hugged Cindy and Donna too.
"We're gonna be late," Rupen said then, glancing at his watch, "the shuttle leaves in five minutes."
"Ok," said Vitani, hugging him, "just be careful, Rupen...you hear me?" Rupen laughed.
"Cindy, Donna," said the older Sam, kneeling to be at eye-level with them, "will you promise me to do exactly as Master Rupen says?"
"Yes, Mother," said Cindy, and Donna nodded alongside her.
"Good," said Sam, standing up, "I hate to delay you further Master Rupen...but Young Natalie was caught sneaking into the Time Chamber again."
"Well she can't get through now," said Rupen calmly, "so there's no harm in her trying."
"There is more to it this time..." said Sam quietly, pulling Rupen in close, so she could whisper in his ear, "she was also found with your photo album...or rather, Ben's album with all your pictures in it."
"Huh," said Rupen thoughtfully, "I can't imagine why she'd want that..."
"I kin," said Vitani quietly, "she...she sees you as her rival, Rupen...an' she's determined to learn as much's she kin about you...Christ, I've known that since she took an interest in our family history!" At her words, Rupen froze. The look in his eyes chilled Vitani's bones.
"W-what is it?" she whispered, frightened.
"No...what did you tell her about our family?" Rupen demanded, taking hold of Vitani.
"Just about dad...normal stuff, Rupen, why are ya so worried?"
"Don't you see, Vitani? If you've told her enough...she'll deduce that she's able to wield Crossblade...and she'll take it...and then we may lose her completely."
"Oh, Rupen..." said Vitani, hugging him again, "ya don't got nothin' t' worry about. She might be d'termined to be better then you...but she wouldn't risk losing herself to do it...she's nothin' like you was as a kid."
"Besides," said young Sam calmly, "Crossblade's always with you."
Rupen nodded, but still seemed troubled about something.
"Just do me a favor, and tell Chloe to keep an eye on her," he said, kissing Vitani and Sam, "she's a sharp child, with great potential...and whether she likes it or not, she is my pupil. Therefore, I am the one responsible, should she turn Sith."
"She won't turn Sith, Rupen." came Chloe's voice from behind them. Rupen turned to see her standing next to Cindy.
"How can you be sure?" Sam asked interestedly.
"Because, Sam, mom's gotta sense fer this kinda thing," Chloe said, smiling, "plus Rupen's her Master...he was mine , too, an' I turned out fine."
Without further ado, Rupen and the children boarded the shuttle, piloted by Net, and set out for their destination.
"Are ya ready to tell us where we're going?" Donna asked.
Rupen, who had been meditating, opened his eyes, which twinkled strangely.
"If I did that, it wouldn't be a surprise."
Sam sat down next to him, and joined him in meditation. Donna blinked, confused.
"Will I find out by meditating?" she asked.
"That depends on you..." Rupen answered, and resumed meditation.Finally, they arrived. The girls still had no clue where they were. Net beamed them off the ship, and they found themselves surrounded by trees...
"Alright," said Rupen, turning to face them, "for this training session...all you have is yourselves. The only thing you have to accomplish is keeping up with me...aside from not getting lost."
"That hardly sounds like training." said Donna quietly.
"You'd be surprised what a brisk run can do for you..."said Rupen, "especially when you're running through the jungle..."
With that, he took off. "Geez!" Cindy yelled, "Did you see that?!" A giant wasp had flown by, knocking her down.
"Keep moving!" Sam replied, stopping to help her half-sister to her feet, "Remember...all we have to do is keep up!"
Their training session had been going for nearly five hours now. Rupen was nowhere in sight....and he moved with such stealth, there was no movement to be heard. The girls soon realized they were not training their eyes or ears...but their ability to sense life energy. This, too, was difficult, as Rupen always suppressed the energy he gave off.
Rupen was standing high atop a cliff. His eyes were closed...using the AP he monitored his underlings' progress. He was not surprised to see Sam shared his weakness...while stopping to help Cindy, she had been stung. Yet she masked her pain, and blasted the insect calmly. A fair distance ahead of them, a presence suddenly appeared. Rupen smiled when he sensed it. Natalie had taught herself how to teleport...and had joined the"Stop!" Donna gasped, falling to her knees. The three had just emerged from the trees, and found themselves next to a river. It was at least thirty feet across, the water was crystal-clear, and flowing rapidly.
"What's the deal?" Sam asked sharply, looking at Donna, "You're a Sakai...you should be better than I am."
"I'm half-Sakai!" Donna snapped, breathing heavily.
"We should brought Luke..." said Sam, shaking her head.
"Luke?" Natalie's voice repeated, "That boy...he'll grow to be just as weak as your father."
"Take that back!" Sam shouted, staring across the river.
"Why should I?" Natalie asked as she became visible, and flew over to them, "You gonna hurt me, little Sam?"
Sam's face burned with anger, but she held back. Natalie touched down before them.
"Your father isn't much farther," Natalie said then, pointing across the river, "he's stopped on a cliff about a mile that way. Of course..."she glanced disapprovingly at Donna- "...it doesn't look like you'll make it before he comes looking for you...thinking you're lost." she laughed. "That's why you're all so weak...being apprenticed under Rupen has made you believe he's powerful...and maybe he was...once. But he's too old now. Already he grows slow."
"Why don't you tell him that?" Cindy asked coldly.
"I have," said Natalie truthfully, "being the spineless coward he is, he just laughed and told me to enjoy my youth."
Sam pounced her, and they fell to the ground, clawing and biting at each other like wild animals. Cindy was about to break them up when a terrifying screech met their ears. Natalie froze.
"That...sounds a lot like..." she started, climbing off Sam.
"It's an Oblivion Elite!" Donna finished, "Run!"
The four of them took to the air.
"Let's find Rupen," said Natalie.
"I thought he was weaker than you!" Sam yelled savagely, swerving to avoid a tree.
"I've never faced an Elite before," Natalie admitted, "your father has...now come on!" She rolled over, fired a few blasts backwards...and collided with a tree. Donna and Cindy sped passed her, unaware. Sam came to her aid.
"You alright?" she asked gruffly, lifting Natalie's head.
"Yeah," she replied, rubbing her neck, "just a bump..." The Elite roared again.
"I can feel Rupen's energy," said Natalie, jumping to her feet, "he's coming for us, but he won't make it in time...the Elite is too fast."
"We have to hold it off until he gets here," said Sam.
"Right," Natalie agreed, "we can't let it get the others..."
As the Elite approached, Natalie and Sam worked as a team, and combined all their energy into a single ball, which they turned into a barrier, enclosing them and everything around them. The Elite could not get through until their barrier was destroyed. This was accomplish by the Elite by crashing repeatedly into the barrier. Soon, Sam and Natalie grew weak. The barrier faded, and they collapsed...the Elite swooped in on them...but Rupen's blast collided with it, drawing its attention. The Elite forgot the children, and fought Rupen, who quickly vanquished it....
"It sure is," Natalie replied, her eyes twinkling as she recalled that day, so many years ago, "yes...we learned later that the Elite was not an Elite at all...it was Rupen. You see, he had the ability to shape-shift. His plan was to bring Sam and I together."
"How did you learn the Elite was Rupen?" Her daughter asked, interested.
"Rupen told us..." she answered quietly, "shortly before he passed away..."
"Will I ever meet him?"
"Remember when I told you about the stars?" Natalie asked, "How the great warriors look down on us from up there?"
"Yeah..." said her daughter sleepily.
"Rupen's up there. If you ever feel lost or scared, just remember that, and ask him for help."
"Did Rupen believe that, too?"
"He did. Where do you think I learned it?"
"I wish...I wish Grandpa was still alive...I never got to meet him."
"Hush child," said Natalie, "go to sleep."
Once she was sure young Chloe was asleep, Natalie went out onto the roof. There, Luke and Sam were star gazing.
"We heard your story," said Sam, "you're a good storyteller."
"Not as good as your father was," Natalie replied, "just think...were it not for him, we would hate each other."
"Yeah," said Sam, "and you and Luke never would have married." She stared up at a particularly bright star, which seemed to wink at her.
"Thank you, Dad..." she said quietly. The star winked.
As I recall, I ran out of time, and had to cut it short. I was never that interested in it anyway.
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