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The Phoenix Chronicles Episode Two: Childhood in a Prison Camp

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The council of SEELE sat in their darkened office. Chairman Keel, a stout man with a hawkish nose, and a large visor, which served as his eye-piece, sat at the head of the table. He looked about the rest of the council gathered about him. All of them had the same purpose, which was to bring mankind to Heavenís door, by force if need be.

However, their tool, the young boy, Hikaru Masaki, was now lost to them. Years of research having been wasted, After Dr. Katsuragi had proposed that he inject a young man, named Nobuyuki, with a sample of Lilithís blood, it would combine with the DNA of the young alien girl, Achika.

"Gabriel," Keel said, referring to Hikaru by the code name they had given him, "is no longer an option. We must begin anew."

"Project Tabris has already begun. He is being developed as we speak. If we cannot use Gabriel, Tabris shall serve as our tool to bring Mankind to Heavenís door."

"And failing that?" asked the second of the council said.

"It will not fail." Keel retorted smugly.

"When will Tabris be ready?" the third wanted to know.

"He should be ready by the year 2000. In which case, I have already given Dr. Katsuragi an assignment." Keel informed them.

"Thatís right. Will Second Impact be ready by the year 2000?" the fourth asked.

"Dr. Katsuragi reports that the expedition to Antarctica is still in the planning stages." Keel told him. "Also, I have the file a certain ĎYui Ikarií. She is brilliant young mind. These," he said holding up a file, "are her college entrance exam scores. High above average. She scored perfectly on each test. Not only that, but Iíve looked at the several papers she has written over the past four years, all of which present very interesting concepts. Perhaps we should offer her a Scholar ship of some sort."

"Perhaps," the second agreed, "I only hope that it doesnít waste as many resources as project Gabriel did. We cannot afford such a waste on our hands."

"Iíve already organized a search party for Gabriel." Keel announced. "But as of yet, it has proved unsuccessful."

"With all due respect, it would be wiser to abandon that projectÖeh, to avoid further waste." The second said.

"Do not concern yourself with that." Keel told him evenly.

------

Mousse was lying on the ground, sleeping, LIKE AN ANGEL, thought a young lavender-haired girl. Her hair went way past her shoulders, and her eyes were a wild dark purple. She wore a flower-patterned long-sleeve shirt, and pants.

"What did you find great granddaughter?" said an oddly deformed woman, who looked more like an imp than human. She wore a green robe with a gold trim, and wore a red band, which held her long white hair back. She was only about as tall as a chimp, and she used a long, thick walking stick to hop around on.

"I sense great power in this one, granddaughter. We must take him in, and make sure he never raises himself to the level of warrior."

"He's just some stupid boy, grandmother. I honestly don't see anything special about him."

"If we are fortunate, we will never have to see his true power. If he gets strong enough, he may able to beat you in unarmed combat! And you know what that means, don't you?"

"I'll have to marry him?!...There's no way, I swear I will make sure he never reaches the level of a warrior."

"Wake up.... I say wake up stupid boy!" he heard a girl's voice say. He opened his eyes and saw a girl with She was probably as young as Tenchi, and she was certainly shorter than Hikaru himself. He hated her, and liked her at the same time. Part of Hikaru thought she would grow up to be very pretty someday. The other part of him thought she would grow up to be a very big headache, and was urging he leave as soon as possible.

The great grandmother spoke to him in his own language, and said, "You are now in China...You are among the Amazons of the Chinese Amazon tribe. I am Cologne, the leader...and this is my granddaughter, Shampoo. I will now call you ĎMousse,í and you are our squire. It seems that my pet was killed because of you...Already, you've cost me a favorite pet, I'll make your life most uncomfortable, squire."

Mousse stood up and demanded, "What? You mean the condor? That wasn't even my fault. Wait a minute, did you send that thing after me, you old bag? I want you to take me home, right now!"

"What are you talking about you little idiot? I'm referring to our prize pig, which you had for dinner. When I'm done with you, you'll never want even look at another pork chop, again."

"What hell are you talking about?"

She turned to the girl, and spoke to her, not that he could understand them since they were speaking in Mandarin, Chinese, and her expression tensed and agitated. What power she felt from him. She knew she had to somehow, find a way to control that power. Shampoo had told Mousse, much later in life, Perhaps, if she broke his spirit, it would be easier to control him, and the powerÖ

"Nevermind. Come with us." Cologne said, as she whacked his head with her cane, prodding him along. For the moment, all Mousse could do was comply, he was too tired to do anything else.

Five long years passed for Mousse, his first attempts at running away were foiled by wolves in the area. Actually, he was about eight, and that was the first year he spent in the village. He had packed half of his clothes into a bundle, and put it in a pigskin duffel bag heíd made out of a boar he had wrestled with in the woods. He finally hatched a plan to head for the east. He hiked about forty five miles, and found a patch of forest which he thought would be good to hide in. That was when he saw a large wolf prowling, as it circled a clearing. The wolf seemed like it was starving, because it looked like it had torn up a skunk just a little while ago. Now, though, the wolf jumped onto him, and bit into the right forearm, which he held up to protect himself. He finally reached into his sack, which had been thrown aside, and grabbed a carving tool. He grabbed at it, and dug the hook into the wolfís neck, pulling at it, while the wolf still growled. He gave one hard tug, spilling blood from glands, and then, it died. The dead wolf fell onto him, its bite loosening on his arm. He kicked it off, quickly pulling his bleeding arm out of carcassís mouth. He stood up, and nearly swooned from the loss of blood. He realized he could not afford another encounter like that. He was debating whether or not he should return, after a few minutes he thought, {Iíd rather take my chances with the wolves.} That was when he felt a large arm grab his neck. It was one of the older amazons, Conditioner. She had been following him all this time.

"What do you want?" he managed, though it hurt his throat to talk.

"We canít have you run away," she answered tightening her grip, and went on, "Then weíd have to do everything ourselves."

She forced him to hike back to the village, while she rode a horse. She had a mace, and dug it into his back when he started to slow down. He was too tired to even walk, but he hated the feel of that mace, so he went on.

They reached it by the next day. They congratulated Conditioner on finding him, patting her on the back, and laughing. They just looked at Mousse in disgust, though even though the saw his arm bleeding profusely, the amazons kicked at him and beat him, complaining that they had to do everything themselves. Despite that, he managed to make it back to his tent, and wished he had brought back that wolfís carcass so he could show them how good he was at surviving. Their kicks and punches worsened his pain, but they could never instill the fear he felt when that wolf continually chewing on his right arm, trying to close in on his face.

Shampoo came in the tent, and watched Mousse as he lay on the piece of cloth, which Cologne called a squireís futon, and covered by another. He was breathing heavily, and looking at the ceiling of his tent, and wondering if he was going to die. His eyes were glazed, though open nonetheless. She mustíve thought he was sleeping because she kicked him in the mid-section and complained, "Why you dirty the sheets, Stupid boy?!"

He screamed in pain, and seethed, "Go away!"

She just sat on his wounded arm, and yelled, "Great Grandmother calling you right now, stupid boy!"

"Iím dying! Donít you see that?!" he yelled, trying to nudge the bloodied arm out from under her, and even though he was filled with complete agony, he did his best not to cry. He didnít want to give her that satisfaction, or them.

Shampoo laughed at him, as he yelled at her, and said, "I go get medicine, stupid boy. You see what happen when you try run away?"

He only lay there, bleeding, waiting to die. At this point, he welcomed death, but it just didnít come.

Cologne held a thin swatch of stainless steel, which had been put over a fire, and just before she applied it, Shampoo put a clean cloth within biting distance, and said, "Bite down, so you no scream when we solder arm." He did, and resisted the mere thought that she was doing something kind for him. It healed well, actually.

He looked at his forearm now, he was ten years old, and he still hated everyone here. He heard Shampoo calling him, while outside, there were multicolored banners that hung from post to post. There was food on the table, as the prize for the winners of today's tournament. Today was when the tribe would pick the new leaders of the Amazon tribe. He lay on the floor of his tent, after having been dreamless in his sleep, his mother was the only kind image he saw when he did dream. He lay, awake, but silent, until he heard Shampoo call him.

"Hey, you stupid Mousse, bring weapons to tournament!" Shampoo yelled.

He sat up, his long black hair spread out on the straw pillow. "I heard you the first time .." He said calmly, in Chinese.

"I didn't think so." she sneered.

"You know, You could just call me Mousse. I think I prefer that to being called stupid." he said flatly.

"I don't care what you prefer, stupid boy. Great Grandmother's already waiting, and she'll be really mad if you don't get over there."

"You know, If that old bag really wants me to do something, why doesn't she come and tell me hersel-" no sooner did he finish than he felt that cane hit the top of his head, hard, making him reach for the cane and catching it. She withdrew it quickly when she saw the angry look in his eye.

"I don't have to tell you anything. You've already wasted a lot of time. I don't have to carry weapons if I don't want to. That's what you're for, you idiot. You are after all, only a squire, and you must know that there is no chance of you ever reaching warrior status. I hope you realize that."

"There's not much point in me staying, is there?"

"Of course, there is. You're a squire, so that my granddaughter will not be debased to the level of carrying weapons. That's your job."

"I'll take your damn weapons, then. From there, I'm going to train on my own."

"There's no point, I said. You'll never reach warrior status!"

"Who said I wanted status in your tribe. I'm doing it for survival." He snarled, standing up.

"What do you mean 'Survival'? You're being taken care of. We let you eat with the hogs. You should be so lucky, you ungrateful brat."

"I would have been better off being raised by wild animals." with that, he left, pushing the flap harshly aside, as he walked out. He went ahead and took the weapons to the tournament, and left for the nearby woods. He enjoyed going to the mountains. It was quiet, and secluded, which was what he preferred to the life he was living now. "I want to go home..." he whispered. It was the immensity of China that kept him from going home. That, and the wolves in this area. Ever since that incident he had with "Shadow Wolf", not to mention that incident in his eighth year, he couldn't stand wolves. In his mind, they were what took him from his home, and kept him from going home. But it was more than that. It was Beryl that haunted him. There was something so frightening yet familiar about her. He stood up, and hiked a couple of miles away from the village, then began his training in the Mount Kuan Jang Range. It was quite a distance from the Amazon village, which was quite a relief for him. He had heard about the cursed springs of Jusenkyo, which was in the area, but he didn't think anything of it. He was going through his basic Kung Fu training when he heard a girl gasping for help. It wasn't so much hearing it was more like he felt it. He ran to the source, and could see a clearing as he went downhill. But it wasn't just a clearing; it was bunch of springs. There were hundreds of pools, all of which had four or five tall bamboo sticks, which were spread, scarcely throughout each pool.

"Excuse me, sir," A man in a brown plain uniform said, "but you don't want to go in there. All of these springs are cursed. Legend says that whoever falls in the spring will take the body of whoever, or whatever drown in there hundreds and thousands of years ago."

"Have you seen a girl here?"

"Over there, but since she hasn't changed, I'd say she fell into the Spring of Drowned Woman."

They both saw a little brunette girl, younger than Mousse anyway, coming up for breath, heaving, but before she could take any deep breaths, she went back under. She came up twice, but didn't have enough breath to even call for help.

"I've got to save her." Mousse said, jumping into the spring, three seconds after the girl went under the last time. When they emerged, There were two girls, not one. There was the little girl, and another girl, a little older, but not so much. The new girl had long black hair, blue eyes, and very pale skin. That girl was Mousse, but she obviously was paying any attention to that. She hadn't even felt the change. She put girl on the ground and gave her CPR. She could see the guide running up to her, and he had a sign.

"Sir, you fall into spring of drown-" Mousse held her hand up to tell the guide to wait. Then continued the CPR procedure. The girl coughed, and opened her eyes. She sat up and hugged Mousse tightly, "Thank you, Miss. My mommy would have really been worried if I was late for dinner. Bye!" she said, running off.

I WONDER WHAT SHE MEANS BY 'MISS'. OH WELL. "Sir, as I was going to tell you, you have fallen into Spring of Drowned Woman...The legends were true, See?" the guide gave him a mirror. She was hesitant to accept it, but took it anyway. When Mousse looked in the mirror, she saw the image of Achika, his mother, looking right back at her, mimicking her every move. She held it at a distance, and saw the long black hair streaming behind her body. As a girl, she looked more like Achika than he ever thought he possible. Then Mousse, gave the guide back his mirror, and moved her hands to her chest, and felt more weight on her chest. She closed her eyes, and slowly unbuttoned her white robe. The guide winced when Mousse yelled, "WHAT THE HELL HAS HAPPENED TO ME?!"

"How do I change back into a guy?" Mousse asked,

"Well, sir. If you pour hot water on yourself, you'll turn back into boy. But don't let yourself get splashed by cold water. That will turn you back into girl."

"This is too weird for me."

"I told you what it was, sir."

"I know, but I couldn't let that girl drown."

"Lucky for you that I carry this," the guide said, pouring hot water from a kettle onto Mousse. He was a guy again. He thanked the Guide and left. He just hoped that Cologne or Shampoo didn't find out about this. Not that he cared, but he didn't want to be treated any worse than he already was. He had enough problems...

When Mousse returned to the village he was tired, he was going to go straight to his tent but then Shampoo told him to bath the pigs so they could be eaten tomorrow. He did, but he just waited until everyone in the village fell asleep. And then he bathed the pigs, then he went to the river, and bathed himself. He poured himself hot water, then returned to the village. Then, exhausted, he went into his tent, and dropped onto his sleeping bag. Heedless of the hard impact, he fell asleep soon after. Then *WHACK*

"Wake up, Mousse," Shampoo said, kicking him in the head.

"What's the matter with you? Can't you just say 'wake up'...I don't think that I deserved being kicked like that."

"I don't care...Go on, Grandmother's expecting you."

"Expecting me to what?"

"She needs you to bathe the pigs."

"I just did that." he snapped.

"Well, they're dirty again, pigs do that, you know." she replied haughtily.

"Shampoo, I'm completely exhausted, and I spent all night cleaning those pigs. They should be shining, in fact."

"I don't care...even if you spent all week cleaning the pigs, I'd

still tell you that grandmother is calling you. Oh, and if you think that I would fill your place to cut you some slack, you're out of your mind."

"Ah, the thought never crossed my mind, Soap."

"My name is Shampoo, you stupid, stupid, Mousse. Donít ever call me 'Soap'! Do you hear me!"

"I don't care..." Mousse replied evenly.

Shampoo understood what he was trying to do. She was so infuriated. {How dare he talk back to me like that? Who does he think he is, any way?} But she knew he would one day talk back to her. It wasn't that he called her "soap". That was a stupid reason to get mad at him. He always spoke to her grandmother harshly, or would give that cold stare that she gave him. Shampoo always frowned, or gave him that cold stare, but he didn't care. That bothered her, a lot, actually. It seemed like he had grown past the level of the squire they made him out to be. He was strong-willed, very decisive, and efficient at whatever he did. He was almost cultured in one form of another. He was almost ...regal.... And she couldn't stand it. She left his tent, fuming.

Meanwhile, in Japan, Achika knew her son had grown to be a man, so that it wasn't his blood on the work shirt. Rather, it came from an animal. She even tried to apply to the Tokyo Police Force, and made it. Above all, she was extremely protective of Tenchi, always keeping him close by. Tenchi, even if he had been very young at the time, still missed his brother. So she went to the Clamp detectives. They were just boys, though certainly older than Mousse.

"How can we help you, Ma'am?" Nokoru, the blond, asked. He had grey eyes, which reminded Achika of those kids she would see on TV, advertising a company for child stars.

She put a picture of Hikaru on his desk, and said, "I want you to find my son...I've already been all over Japan, so I know that whoever, or whatever, took him out of here. I want you to please start looking in China."

"Ma'am, how old is this picture?" Suo asked. He was the intense black haired one. He did remind her of her son. She looked away quickly.

"It was taken in his fifth year..." she told them, sadly. "I know It's a long shot, but please, try to find my son. I'll pay you whatever you wish, anything for my son."

"You know, Ma'am, when you say 'anything', you're giving out quite an invitation..." Suo said.

"Please excuse him, we understand your feelings." Akira said. He reminded her of Tenchi, making her cry into her hands.

"We'll help you," Nokoru said, "and don't worry...It's free of charge. We'll leave for China in a week or so."

She looked up, "Really?" she asked. "Of course." he replied, handing her a box of tissue. "Just tell us all his stats. Hair, eyes, age, and any distinguishing marks." Suo told her analytically. "The abductor couldn't have been that smart, so let's presume that your son still has black hair, and blue eyes....however, I'm afraid this picture will be of little use since-"

"I understand,"

"Wait a minute, I think I know what he looks like now. Sometimes, I dream about him, crying, and thereís nothing I can do about it, except watch. He says, ĎI donít want be in China, Mommy, I want to be with you.í Thatís why I want you to try China first."
******

They had been wandering near the Amazon village, all of them wearing matching green hiking backpacks. They were all tired. Akira, the youngest of them was lagging behind.

"Can you hand me that map, Akira?" Nokoru asked.

"By the way, Captain, can you read Chinese?" Suo asked.

"No."

Both Akira and Suo groaned.

"But I have an uncanny sense of direction."

"Like in the Tokyo Library?" Suo teased.

"Oh, shut up..." Nokoru grumbled.

Nokoru had gone to the Tokyo Library to do research on the Customs and life style of the people in the rural Chinese villages. He had checked the card catalogue, and found the books were not in the their appointed place. Such a respect that Nokoru had to the Library that he dedicated himself to putting all the books in their exact location in accordance with the card catalogue. Of course, in due time, he became very lost. Suo and Akira followed the paper trail, quite literally, and found Nokoru in the occult section, pacing up and down the aisle.

"I think the village is up ahead this way."

"and if it's not, you'll find the village and tell them all to move here." Suo muttered.

"What was that?!" Nokoru asked sharply.

"Nothing."

Nokoru looked ahead, and saw a boy, that looked like the picture, but the hair was a lot longer.

"Hey, it's him. We found Hikaru Masaki."

They saw him, in a rustic village with wooden made huts, he was tending to the pigs as they fed. Then, they, the detectives, looked on in horror as he grabbed a piece of whatever the pigs were eating, dipped it in the water troth, and looked ready to eat it.

They rushed to him immediately, and took whatever he was eating.

"Give it back, that's lunch!" he yelled. Suo had packed a lot of food, so he took out a piece of beef jerky and handed that to Mousse.

"Hmm, this is good...Can I have more?"

"You can, but only if you come with us."

"Where are you taking me to?" Mousse asked, tensely.

"We're all going back to Japan. Your mother sent us."

" My mom sent you?...I'll go back with you. I want go home." His voice was wary.

The Clamp boys took a yak each, from the village.

"Is this alright? Wonít you get in trouble?" Akira asked.

"I donít care anymore. I just want go home." Mousse told him.

"Do you know Where the airport is?" Mousse asked.

"I Certainly hope so." Suo replied. Akira nudged him on the side.

"Iím just asking because I took A different route." Mousse told them sheepishly.

Nokoru put his hand on his shoulder. "Itís all right, Hikaru. Youíre going home, now."

"Okay, youíre the one with the compass on the head, so lead the way, oh fearless leader." Suo told him.

"There is one thing I want to ask you, Hikaru." Nokoru said.

"Yes, what is it?"

"Can you speak Chinese?"

"Yes,"

It was at that point that Cologne chose to show herself, with fifty other amazons, Shampoo included, in tow. She pointed her cain at the intruders, and ordered, "Attack!"

"Captain?" Suo asked.

"I read that if you defeat them in combat, you'll have to marry them." Nokoru told him.

"Your point?" Suo pressed.

"Well, I'm not sure I want to marry any of them." Nokoru snapped.

"Fine, you can stay single and die, or we fight our way out of here." Suo told him.

"I say we fight!" Mousse yelled, charging at the amazons. He was not going to stay here, and face any more humiliation, any more abuse. He was sick of it all. And so, using two short swords, he tore through fifteen amazons, injuring all of them severely.

Cologne hopped to where he stood, and said, "You do know that it is law for you to marry Shampoo, since she was first amazon that you defeated in combat."

"Keep her," Mousse seethed, "For her own safety. If I ever see any of you, again, Iíll kill you."

Cologne began to hop back towards the village, as Shampoo staggered behind her.

Suo, Nokoru, and Akira watched as he got on his knees, and cried. He cried because he could finally leave here, away from Cologne, away from Shampoo. Away from all of those who kicked him, and tortured him, and spit on him. "I'm free." he sobbed, watching the last of the amazons limp away.

Continued

Trailer:

Mousse: So, Iím finally going home.

Nokoru: Lucky you, your guardianís a knockout.

Yui: Hello, Hikaru. Iíll be taking care of you from now on.

Gendou: Weíll send you off to boarding school if I have anything to say about it.

Mousse: What have I ever done to you?

Gendou: You were born. Thatís enough.

Yui: If you hurt him, youíll be the one leaving.

Gendou: Of course, Yui. The next episode of Phoenix Chronicles is- This is ridiculous. You should read this, you little brat.

Mousse: The next episode is "Getting Settled. Itís tough when youíre a kid."

Gendou: Believe me, I can make it much worse.