One minute Ryuko had been reassuring Tsumi and trying to teach him to swim and the next he fell face first into the waves with a loud splash. She’d been trying to teach him how to hold his breath by dunking his head so at first she didn’t think anything was wrong until about 30 seconds had passed she realized something was wrong. While a trained swimmer could hold it for longer she’d only asked him to hold his breath for 10 to start with since he was a beginner.
Instead of panicking Ryuko grabbed him and pulled him out of the water so that she could better assess his status. She’d warned him about stretching so a cramp seemed unlikely and he was kind of young to be having heart trouble so why had he fainted? Part of her was hoping he was just hungry.
Luckily once they were on the beach again she confirmed that he was still breathing with a relieved sigh only to realize to her dawning horror that reason why her student was unconscious. He hadn’t just fainted from fatigue but because he had caught a case of the coma plague.
First Eli, and now Tsumi had been struck with the same affliction. Mort had retired from active duty and Tamwyn had died. Was she cursed to have every disciple under her wing taken away from her before they could reach their full potential? Ironically the only student of hers to not suffer a bad fate was Seid the one she’d had the least hand in actually raising.
“Shouldn’t you have been getting ready for the battle to come so you can wake the Twins instead of playing around here?” asked Rafaela. “Why did you even bother with taking such a neanderthal as a student in the first place?” the accusations felt like stones being thrown against her heart by the Queen quickly shook them off.
“Training with him was part of getting ready. Tsumi’s part of my contingency plan for should I lose the fight or die during the surgery.” Ryuko insisted. She knew her student wasn’t dumb just uneducated. He’d shown himself to be extremely insightful with his questions and input but she didn’t have the energy to waste right now arguing that point with the First Vestal, that would be just getting off track from the real point at hand.
“You mean he WAS part of your contingency plan. I don’t see him being of much help now.” joked the spirit darkly. Once someone fell into a coma they rarely woke up. Ryuko herself was one of the rare exceptions but it was questionable if she had fallen into a coma because of a plague in the first place or if the shock of being possessed by Rafaela was what had knocked her out for over a year. Either way she could count the amount of people that she knew who had returned to consciousness with one hand.
These days it was common to keep people on life support for maybe a couple months at most just in case then pull the plug. Some places like the hospital in Kumo had entire wards dedicated to long term care but for many they began digging graves the nearly the moment word came in. Without state support most family’s couldn’t afford to keep their loved one’s sitting around like a vegetable for long.
The fact that Ryuko had kept Eli on support for so long was highly unusual. She wasn’t sure if it was out of sheer stubbornness not to give up on one of her own or if she was just returning the favor since Shimiko, Nariko and Nozomi hadn’t given up on her. In any case the odds of Tsumi waking up again were slim.
“You can’t give up now. Weren’t you going to be a hero? Is a plague all it takes to stop you?” she ranted, hoping that it would wake him up but knowing that she might as well be yelling at the clouds like an old man. His training had been going so well. She was sure he was going to become the kind of hero she had always wanted to be but never could because of how often she’d had to get her hands dirty.
At the end of the day she was always going to be a warrior, the kind that killed when she had to even if she didn’t like having to do so, she just wasn’t idealistic enough to be a pacifist the way Tsumi wanted to be. She had always been tempted to ask him what he would do if faced with an enemy that couldn’t be reasoned with? One too dangerous for him to knock out?
Would he think he was better than everyone else as he stood around playing the part of the good man doing nothing? Would he allow evil to triumph as his rigid pacifism crumbled into bloodstained dust, his only victory that he stuck true to his convictions. But Ryuko was afraid to ask him, afraid to squash his naive dream because in some ways it was a dream that she shared, a dream of a world without the necessary evil of a hero that kills.
She had so much left to teach him but the fundamentals that she had shown him would be enough for him to grow on his own without her if need be. Together they had built a solid foundation for him to become the kind hero he had always wished to be. Heck she was almost done making him a costume so that he could make his professional debut. She was so sure he would rock it at the next chunnin exam. An exam he might now never be able to attend.
“What did you just want a legacy to leave behind then?” asked Rafaela. It was a natural question to ask. Being a Vestal and a Lesbian made having children difficult. Even if she could stomach the idea of sleeping with a man for the sake of conceiving she had to remain pure to preserve her role in the church.
In the Church of Hakkin the Vestal were considered married to their god. Anyone caught cheating would be severely punished and stripped of their post regardless of how venerated they were. There were some that considered Ryuko to be something of a living saint and while the Church couldn’t execute her because she was the queen of a country they would have no trouble excommunicating her if she crossed that particular line.
“Don’t blame me, I married Hakkin because I loved him. It was the priest that came after my lifetime that decided all Vestal should be like me.” said Rafaela with a shrug having read Ryuko’s thoughts. They were two souls sharing the same body, it was nearly impossible for one of them to keep secrets from the other.
Ryuko’s best bet to have children had been laid with a machine that Damian Darhk had made. An Artificial womb where one could combine genetic material from two partners without having to do things the old fashioned way. Sadly the device had been seemingly lost during the destruction of moonspire along with all the development notes. The developer himself, a once in a generation genius, was dead. The chances of someone else being able to recreate his work anytime this century were slim.
Perhaps if Ryuko waited long enough with her extended lifespan another person would come along who could help her in that department. But that was presumbing she actually managed to live that long. Given her plans to overcome Hakkin involved an implantation surgery there was a chance she would die before she even made it to the big showdown. It was like she would be rolling the figurative dice multiple times. In more than one way it was the gamble of a lifetime but if she won she would win big.
In many ways she was getting ahead of herself. The surgery depended on Renny coming though for her on finding a nature clan organ from a willing participant. A more ruthless ruler would have just taken it by force but she wasn’t willing to go that far unless it was off the missing ninja Raijn. A criminal without remorse like him deserved whatever he got though she’d specifically ordered Renny to stay far away since Rajin was far too dangerous to confront without bringing out all the village’s heavy guns and then some.
Still regardless if she got the implant or not the battle against Hakkin would be going forward soon. The clock of when the Society would strike was rapidly ticking. This wasn’t the time for idoliy sitting around forever. Frankly the only reason she hadn’t started yet was because she had been waiting for other factors outside of her direct control to come together such as the pererations her sister Shimiko had been making.
Frankly with the twins down for the count it was a wonder that Shimiko hadn’t rushed into her room sooner demanding that they begin the battle then and their on the slim chances that unlocking Rafaela’s full potential would be what they needed to cure the plague victims once and for all. A mother bear like her would do practically anything for her children.
Already strong in her own right, Shimiko became downright terrifying when her den was threatened. To be perfectly frank Ryuko wasn’t sure she’d be able to win against Shimiko in that kind of situation even if she had all of Rafaela’s power at her disposal. Hakkin help however was foolish to stand between that woman and her children.
“Hold on just a little while Tsumi. Help is on the way.” Ryuko whispered to him gently as she cradled his sleeping form in her arms. Being able to help him was a long shot at best but she was determined to try. She was done letting the people who were counting on her down.
I fear not that I will die, but that those that I have come to love will perish with me.
[Exit with Tsumi - Taking him to the Hosptial]
Control Fight Preperation post part 2. 1695 words
Now at out 3,301 of 8000.