Here is Contest entry #4:
Sasha stared at the young male before her. His bleached, blonde hair fell over his eyes, denying her the chance to fully read his expression; but his stance betrayed his apprehension. She pegged him as a typical banana, yellow on the outside, white on the inside. She had met a lot of third generation, Chinese Americans just like him, since her own exodus from China.
This is what Paul sends me? she thought bitterly. She ignored his extended hand. You speak mandarin? She spoke slowly, wincing at her broken English, as the hard words fell upon her ears.
Ni hao, he replied with a dimpled grin. Thats hello.
I know, she said through gritted teeth.
I can count to ten too.
She sighed and stood akimbo. How much has Paul told you?
How much? His smile faded. I thought he told everything I needed to know about this case... Youre supposed to be some kind of big deal over in China or something, raised by that guy. The one who had everyone thinking he was some kind of god with magic powers and whatnot... His voice faltered as she scowled. Stop me if Im wrong. Im just repeating what Ive been told.
What is your name?
Me? Im Johnny... He grinned again. You Sasha.
Yes. Sasha nodded at the agent who had escorted the young man into the room. The agent nodded back and exited the door.
Wow. Can you, like, make him roll over and sit too. Johnny plopped down backwards on a Queen Anne style chair. The entire room exhibited the same style. Lace curtains graced the wall-wide windows. Should you be parading yourself in front of that huge window?
Parading? Sasha stopped the pacing she had begun, to throw him a distracted glance.
Never mind. With all the guards I saw outside, I would say you have this place on lock. He laughed, his initial uneasiness seeming to have evaporated.
She wondered what Paul had seen in this flippant young male, to made him think he could help her where so many others had failed. She thought back to her first bodyguard, the one who had escorted her from China, the one who tried to kiss her. She remembered the horrified look in his eyes at the sight of her glowing eyes. But then he had smiled, a smile of wonderful discovery at her secret exposed. Sasha struck then, doing what she had to, her only regret being the chopper pilot. She completed the first die she had ever done in the air, minutes before the helicopter had reached the port. It exploded against a tall warehouse instead, lost in the shuffle of Fourth of July fireworks. Paul had fished her out of the bay later, shivering and wet, but strangely exhilarated.
Her stay in America had now expanded to five long years, and her longing for China died somewhere in the interim... but it had taken a while, a good long while. In the beginning she had longed for Fei-Fei - more than the longing of daughter for father. She longed for him as a mentor, a guide... a friend. She shuddered, as the image of his slaughtered body entered her mind.
Are you okay. A look of concern replaced the dimpled grin.
She waved away his concern with an irritated gesture. Yes, yes.
Damn. She had never had a weakness betrayed by her body before. America must be getting to me.
So, Sasha, when are we gonna fight?
Paul told me you might want to fight me, when we met. Test my abilities so to speak.
Sashas eyes narrowed. That is strange. Why would he say something like that?
He shrugged. Beats me.
Johnny, right? Could you hand me that box of cigarettes on the desk over there. I feel a sudden urge for a smoke.
Obediently, Johnny stood and started for the small carton. Sasha lunged forward, sweeping the floor beneath him with her left leg. Mentally, she set her power to test level, as Fei-Fei had taught her to do. The young man fell to the floor with a thump, satisfying to her ears.
One... never turn your back on potential danger...
The power surged within her, craving for a kill. It overtook her soul, making her body tremble. She tried to reach for weak thoughts, human thoughts, to stave the craving off.
Yen-Ping... She thought of the only mother she had ever known. Sold into slavery in the Ethiopian market as a baby, Sasha was only four when she first reached China. That very same day, she fell in love with a woman adorned in red silk. A beautiful woman who traced a soft, cool hand over her dark round cheek, and carried her home to a palace grander than anything she had ever known. That love had extended to Fei-Fei too, when she met him. Sasha had trailed him everywhere... looking... learning.
The craving left with her balance, as she fell hard to the floor. Johnny stood over her, smiling, having completed a floor sweep of his own.
Two... never miss the opportunity for a die.
Sasha gasped. A die? Without using her hands as balance, she leapt back to her feet. Her eyes searched his.
You see, Sasha, its not so much what Paul told me, as much as what I already knew when I came to him.
She nodded her understanding. Paul had sent others to her before. Ones who knew of Wong-Fei, master of Rangorak, the art of death. They had come claiming to be relatives of some form or another. But she knew that the art was only part hereditary. After all, she had mastered it.
Then you know of the power?
Yes... and I want to learn.
Learn? Sasha smiled slightly. Did Paul tell you I know this power?
Then what makes you think I do. Rangorak is hereditary... is that not what people say?"
Im not interested in what people say. I want to know what you say. Johnnys face grew dark with his solemn words - a face that grew strangely familiar, though half hidden by that bleached blonde hair.
That face... it took her back. It was the face that peered curiously at her as Yen-Ping had first carried her up the palace steps. A face that looked as dark as it did today, whenever Fei-Fei would bellow the words, ... you fail as son to me... why cant you be as dedicated as Sasha!
The dimpled grin returned, unmatched by the young mans fiery eyes. I was wondering how long it would take you, sis.
You are so... American.
Well, where the hell did you think I was spending all my time after dad banished me from my own home... my home!
You didnt have to kill them. Sasha used the words as a test, as she fought to keep her lip from quivering. She heard Fei-Feis voice, as if he stood beside her now... No sign of weakness must show.
Killing is part of me, Sasha. He made me into what I am. You are no different. I remember the days hed keep you isolated for months, away from human contact. With just him there to train you. To harden you into what you are...
He would never have concentrated his efforts on me, if you had not refused to continue your studies, Gui.
Yes, youre right. I never had the desire to kill in me. At least, I didnt back then. It was force fed to me... overkill really. He laughed. Like the stupid pitbull owners who train their dogs to kill, when the dogs are already bred that way anyway... Ragnorak is in me! Whether I want it to be or not.
Ragnorak is an honorable art, Gui. It can be contained.
What, by cushy thoughts of sunsets and rainbows? Im sorry, but I dont have as many sweet memories to tap into as you do. Face it, Sasha, we were never treated equally. I was always treated like the outsider... That was your place! You were the one that did not belong, not me.
Blood pulsed through Sashas veins with violent rhythm. Gui was here to fight her, to kill her just as he had Wong-Fei and Yen-Ping. She remembered the day she had come out of isolation to find them slaughtered -murdered in bed- by some coward, nameless until today.
The door to the study suddenly opened, revealing a tall gray haired man with striking features.
Sasha masked her surprise. Paul, what is the meaning of all of this?
Paul stared back at her evenly, with the only face she had trusted for the past five years. She fought the urge to rake her fingers across it, tearing away his fleshy pink skin. Sasha, you came to our organization seeking asylum from your parents killers. And I granted it, mostly because of our interest in the legends surrounding your fathers name. And, you were given it with the understanding that you possessed none of the powers mentioned in those legends. The older mans eyes glowed eerily. Powers that we very much would like to understand and learn more about. Now, from what Gui tells us, youve told me a bit of an untruth...
Gui killed my parents!
My parents! Guis face turned an ugly purple, as he shouted.
Thats of little relevance to me. Killing comes natural to you. To the both of you. With soldiers like you on our side, there would be no stopping the U.S. government.
I have no desire to fight for you, Sasha spoke in controlled tones.
I don't want you to fight... I want you to teach, Paul said calmly.
Wait man, you promised me a die, Gui protested.
Of course. Paul crossed his arms. Have at her. I wouldnt be able to stop you anyway. Whichever one of you is left standing will be the one used to help start our studies.
Gui smiled confidently, as he took his fighting position. But, Sasha knew hed be no match for her fighting skills, for Ragnoraks secret lie in the desire to learn. And she had never stopped seeking new ways to produce a die.
Death will come,she thought, her face stoic as she matched his position. Fast for him, slower for Paul... and then death to anyone who stands between me and China.
Sasha smiled mentally at the thought of returning home, then bowed, never removing her eyes from the prospective corpse standing before her.
Six million ways to die... choose one.