Fushigi Yuugi Novel #4
(“The Legend of Shooting Star”)
Based on the comics by: Watase Yuu
Written by: Nishizaki Megumi
Chapter 4: The Girl in Basara
“Charge!!” At the shout of that command, the mountains began to shake; perhaps it would be more correct to say that the trees themselves began to move.
The soldiers, with their bodies clothed in camouflage battle gear and their heads covered with twigs, leaped in unison. They then proceeded to kick and slash at the manikins that were laid out for them. With a fierce battle cry, the manikins flew up into the air and were slashed to pieces.
“Okay! Regroup!” The leader commanded his troops in a sharp voice.
The thirty-eight troops ran like the wind, and in seconds, were kneeling by Sho Tessoh’s feet. His troops were all just around fifteen years of age.
They were “Basara”, a guerilla squad of over thirty members. Their leader, Tessoh, was just barely nineteen years old himself. But his long hair tied back with a ribbon, and eyes sparkling with determination on his fearless face, defied his age, giving him the appearance of an adult.
He addressed his boys. “X-Day is nearing. Be alert, gentlemen!”
“’Sir!” In unison, the boys’ voices echoed throughout the mountains.
After the boys dispersed and headed back for their tents, a boy of small build appeared at Tessoh’s side. With his exotic brown skin, hair, and eyes, he appeared as though he were from some foreign land
“Tessoh, I worry about him…” the strangely accented boy spoke gravely.
Tessoh let out a sigh. “I’m not too pleased about him either, Chama Lee.”
The two shrugged their shoulders in discouragement.
“By the way, he still hasn’t noticed about that yet, has he?”
“No, sir. I think that is still okay.”
Before their eyes, high up in a zelkova tree, sat a boy. He seemed to be engrossed in whacking twigs off the branches with iron spheres he had attached to a rope.
When the boy heard himself being called, he stopped his mindless pastime. As if he had been disturbed from a very important task, he answered.
“What the hell do you want, Tessoh? I’m busy.”
“No questions! Get down from there and come to my tent, Shunkaku!”
Without even an “excuse me”, Shunkaku violently swatted Tessoh’s tent flap open. With his ball-like weapon slung over his shoulder, he swaggered over to Tessoh, who was seated in the corner of his tent. Shunkaku, with a thin band tied around his forehead, possessed an aggressive aura, that if touched, threatened to cut up a person.
“Tessoh, you know I can’t stand lectures and scolding, right?”
Tessoh questioned the fiercely-eyed boy. “Shunkaku, Tell me why you wanted to join Basara.”
“I’m not here ‘cause I want to, but ‘cause you need me.” Shunkaku answered arrogantly. “If it wasn’t for me, Basara’d be nothing more than a Mickey Mouse operation.”
“Is that so. My, you seem to be awfully confident in yourself.”
“Yeah, so don’t make me do such boring training along with the others!”
“This time is crucial for us, Shunkaku. Tessoh worries that Basara’s morale drops,” Chama Lee interjected. As well as being Tessoh’s assistant, he was the brains behind Basara.
“…..Hmph.” With a snort through his nose, Shunkaku turned his back on the two. “I don’t know if this’s a revolution, or what, but I can do it all by myself.”
“If that’s how you feel, then why don’t you leave Basara and do it yourself.”
Shunkaku was trapped by Tessoh’s logic.
“Go ahead into Kutoh’s palace with your ryuuseisui and take over the country.”
Shunkaku stood silently in defeat.
“Listen, Shunkaku. If we’re going to start a revolution, we need the help of every member of this squad. I know that you are stronger than the other members, but that doesn’t mean you can do it all by yourself.”
Tessoh firmly gripped Shunkaku’s chin and turned his face towards him. “The reason I bought you three years ago when you were still weak and pitiful, was because I saw rage in your eyes. It was an incurable rage towards Kutoh for ruining your life.”
“….Yeah, that’s right!” Shunkaku agreed hotly. If there was no Civil War, my parents wouldn’t’ve died. Then I wouldn’t’ve had to go to that hell-hole, Koh’s house…..and I wouldn’t’ve been betrayed by my brother…. Shunkaku’s shoulders shivered.
“Everyone here is just like you: orphaned from the war with no place to go. Lee and I are the same. We all have anger in our hearts that we don’t know how to get rid of.” Tessoh continued. “The Civil War is over, but judging by the way things are going, this country’s only getting worse. We can’t get rid of the weed without attacking the root. Understand?”
“Of course I do. We’re gonna kill that bastard who calls himself an Emperor, right?” Shunkaku said.
“Exactly. And in order to do that, we need your help, and the help of everyone else here. And the thing that will determine our outcome in the end is our trust for one another.”
“I don’t know how you feel about me, but I trust you, Shunkaku. Chama does, too. And probably everyone else does, too. So don’t betray us…we’re on your side.”
Shunkaku raised his face with a soft gasp. Shunkaku had not thought about trusting anyone for a very long time. The idea that people were depending on him was new, too.
Tessoh smiled down at Shunkaku. “Shunkaku, ever since you came here, you’ve gotten much stronger. I was definitely right in giving you ryuuseisui instead of a sword. I’ve never seen a man use it as skillfully as you. I’m sure you were born for the ryuuseisui.”
When Tessoh told him this, Shunkaku’s eyes fell on his weapon.
Three years ago, Koh had tied him up and dragged him out of the house. He had been handed over to a mysterious young man with a black cloth wrapped around his face. That man was Tessoh.
Then Shunkaku had been taken by Tessoh into a small cottage deep in the mountains. There were two other scrawny boys there with him. One of them was Chama Lee.
The next day, Tessoh had approached Shunkaku. “I noticed you were whirling that hoe well in the fields yesterday,” he said, as he handed the mysterious weapon, ryuuseisui, to Shunkaku.
When Shunkaku heard the part of the name that means “shooting star”, “ryuusei”, his face stiffened for an instant, but he quickly shook it out.
Shooting stars don’t mean anything to me anymore….
At first, the heavy iron in the weapon made it hard for him to lift, but as the days went by, the ryuuseisui began to move as if they were a part of Shunkaku’s body. Then, before he knew it, the iron balls moved wherever he commanded them to.
He also put noticeable muscle on his once scrawny body, and eventually became a normal, healthy boy who never got sick. He had slowly been gaining confidence in his own strength as well, thinking I’m not wimpy or a crybaby anymore, and I’m the strongest man in the world…
And as a key member of the only guerilla resistance group left battling against the Kutoh government, he grew stronger and braver everyday.
“Shunkaku. Fight along side us,” Tessoh commanded, peering into the boy’s eyes.
Shunkaku nodded silently.
“You may go now…”
Without giving an answer, Shunkaku turned his back on Tessoh.
A dagger had whizzed past Shunkaku; and impaled its self into the tent pole.
Shunkaku turned his head back in astonishment. The dagger had grazed his shoulder, just barely missing his flesh.
“Lazy ass. We cannot allow imprudence in guerilla warfare.” Tessoh fiercely looked down at Shunkaku.
“……..Shit!” Shunkaku fled the tent angrily.
When Shunkaku was out of earshot, Chama Lee spoke. “Tessoh, you lied to Shunkaku, you know.”
“Yes…about why you brought him to Basara.”
“Oh, that…” Tessoh folded his arms. “It’s true that I originally bought Shunkaku to use as a hostage, but now he’s become too useful to our cause…”
Chama Lee stared at him in silence.
“Well, anyway, we can’t let Shunkaku know about any of this. According to our original plan, he’s still our last resort.”
“…..You do have point there.”
“Lee, the government still doesn’t know where our military base is, right?”
“No. Not as yet.”
The government was aware of the existence of Basara. In order to avoid being raided, it was crucial for Basara to change their military headquarters frequently.
“And what did the patrollers say?”
“They say it be another two to three days.”
“So I guess it’s finally coming, huh,” Tessoh said as he narrowed his determined eyes.
Suddenly, a girl with a black cloth wrapped around her face quietly entered the tent.
“I have funds for the soldiers,” she said, handing a pouch full of coins to Tessoh.
“Where’d you get this?”
“I still had a little left over from the last looting we did….”
Tessoh blew a sigh out as he looked at the coins in his hand. Basara acquired living expenses through thievery. Chama Lee would scout out the villages in the valleys for those worthwhile to plunder, and then Tessoh would send troops down to collect food and supplies. The people Basara robbed, be they black-hearted bribers, or war profiteers, were simply robbed for their money. But Tessoh knew that in the eyes of this girl, they were all murderers who deserved to die.
“You won’t have to do things like this anymore for much longer,” Tessoh comforted the girl as he removed the cloth from her face. “But I’ve been worried about you leaving camp as often as you do now. It’s dangerous, so don’t stay out too long, okay?”
Tessoh gently stroked his little sister’s head. “Pretty soon, you won’t have to live this kind of lifestyle anymore…. after we kill Nakago. Okay? Toka.” Continue reading