2 Chapter 1: A Ringing Heard Across the World
Two people stood across from each other in a large empty room. A silence pervaded the place as they each held a kendo training sword waiting for the other to make the first move. On one side was a giant of a man standing at six foot eight inches tall, dark skinned, brown eyes, short well-trimmed hair and a neatly cut full faced beard. Positioned opposite of him was a handsome blond haired Caucasian man standing at six foot two inches with blue eyes, shoulder length wavy hair, and a cleaned shaven smiling face.
The two judged each other for a short breath of time before the blond man charged forward with a straight on lunge, his sword flashing towards the side of his opponents. With a quick twist of the wrist and subtle shift in balance the attack was deflected forcing the assailant to jump out of the way of a counter that nearly hit due to the large man's long reach.
The two continued to test each other with short quick exchanges, both trying to disrupt the others balance. Soon the blonde started to up his variety of attacks slowly taking control of the fight. The only thing keeping things going was the size difference and reach that allowed the tall man to keep up. Then as the blonde went for an overhead swipe to finish the exchange suddenly he was met with a heavy resistance from a sword swung like a club that knocked him off balance. That was followed by a quick leg sweep and shoulder push that sent him tumbling to the ground. Before he could get back up a sword was in his face.
"I told you we should just stick to pure swordsmanship if you wanted to win." The tall man said with a grin on his face as he offered his hand to help his friend up.
"I guess so, but I almost had you this time Josh." The blonde said with a pout before breaking out into a smile. He grabbed his friend's hand and pulled himself up before patting himself off. "You're not even that good with a sword, but your reaction speed is ridiculous. I don't even need to bring up your strength with the way you swatted me away like a fly with a one armed swing."
"I'm a martial artist, reading your movements is kind of my thing Adrian. Besides even I know some basic swordsmanship, you aren't the only one Mr. Fujimoto gave some lessons too."
The two friends bantered back and forth. They had been friends for a long time, since they were kids in fact. Joshua James Jr. was always a large kid that was often referred to as a gentle giant by the people who knew him. Although he learned how to fight from his father who used to be a world renowned MMA fighter, he has never been the aggressive type. His dream is to one day follow in his mother's footsteps and become a great doctor, much to the annoyance of his father.
Adrian Black on the other hand early in life was considered a pretty boy that was a bit of a goof ball. Eventually after meeting one of his friend's father who owned a kendo dojo, he fell in love with swordsmanship. Ever since then he trained hard and won several tournaments for young sword practitioners around the world. Sadly along with learning kendo he also fell in love with a lot of other things in modern Japanese culture thanks to a friend. Now the two of them go to japan every summer for both tournaments and other things of interest.
"Well it's already eleven so you best get cleaned up, you've got a flight to catch to japan in a little more than an hour." Joshua said as he started taking off his kendo gear.
"You gonna give me a ride man? I would go with Henry, but he took the first flight to japan after finishing his finals." Adrian said while shaking his head. "He said something about a limited time figurine he had to get."
"Not surprising. I guess Aito's already back on assignment too?"
"Yeah that's why Mr. Fujimoto told me to lock up when we left." The two of them talked back and forth as they put up their equipment and started cleaning up the place. After finishing up Adrian went to get a quick shower as Joshua waited outside for him at his truck. When Adrian finally came back with all his luggage he looked over the truck before shaking his head. "Man you need to get yourself a sports car or something. With all the money you get from those fights your dads always signing you up for I thought you'd have one by now."
"Those flashy cars aren't for me. Although they look nice they are way too small. Every time I've had to get in or out of one I feel like I'm squeezing out of a clown car." Joshua said as he helped move some of the tools and other junk in his truck out of the way for the luggage.
"Bummer, it would help you bring in the girls you know. We guys have got to show off to get their attention."
"Oh please, who are you fooling? I'd bet if I dressed you up in rags and dropped you off in a wealthy neighborhood you'd have a sugar mom by the time I got back."
"Well if you appreciate my art and style my brother then let me teach you the ways." Adrian said in a voice that sounded like he was trying to mimic a teacher, but instead came off way to sarcastic.
"No thanks, my mom would kill me if I ever acted like the spoiled rich playboy you are." Joshua responded nonchalantly as he jumped into the driver seat. Adrian got in on the other side while chuckling. The truck started up as they headed off to the airport. The traffic wasn't so bad sense it was the middle of the day during work hours. They both chatted about random things along the way until Adrian went into his own little world when talking about the kendo tournament later this summer.
"Are you going to come to see the tournament later after your family vacation?" Adrian asked while looking through some text messages. "It looks like Henry decided to squeeze sometime in to come watch. He's already there yet he makes it sound like a hassle."
"I'll probably come see, it will give me a reason to avoid any more matches myself." Joshua responded as he could see the airport coming up and pulled in to the right lane.
"I guess your dad used this family vacation to Vegas as a way to get you signed up for another fight? Man he doesn't know when to give up. At this point he should just focus on training Amy, she loves the stuff."
"Well he knows since I'll be starting medical school soon that there won't be many chances for me to have any fights in the future. Hell he's still trying to convince me that I should just drop everything and aim for world champ." Joshua responded with an exhausted voice as he pulled into the drop off section of the airport. "Good thing my little sister is into all that crap, hopefully he'll shift gears to her soon."
"Well don't let it ruin the vacation for you. Enjoy Vegas man, and don't do anything I wouldn't do." Adrian said with a smug grin and wink.
"I don't think I'll be doing anything that you would do jerk. I'll fly over before your tournament and meet up with you guys."
"Alright, see you then Josh." Adrian said as he grabbed his brief case and rushed inside to catch his flight. Joshua drove out of the airport before using the GPS built into his truck to find the quickest path from Austin all the way to Las Vegas. He knew he'd have to make a stop overnight and decided to take a shower at whatever hotel he slept the night at. He had a good eight or so hours of driving to do before then.
He spent the next few hours listening to some music as he concentrated on driving. Since he used to play drums in a band with Adrian and his other friends throughout high school and his early years of college, he had a habit of tapping his fingers along to the beat. As he was enjoying the music a phone ring came from the car stereo interrupting the song. Looking at the caller ID he saw his mother's name and quickly answered. "Hey mom."
"Hey sweetie are you already on your way here?" The happy voice of his mother came through the speakers alongside sounds of what Joshua suspected were people hitting punching bags in the back ground.
"Yeah I left a few hours ago mom, I made sure to bring anything I needed too so you don't have to worry. I'll probably be their tomorrow evening."
"That's fine, but make sure to be careful on the way, especially late at night. There are so many drunken crazy drivers on the roads lately."
"I'll be careful. By the way am I hearing fighting going on in the background?" Joshua said only to get an annoyed grown coming from his mother. "Are you at a gym already? I thought this was supposed to be a vacation."
"Well it was for at least the first day, but after eating their fill at the buffet yesterday your father and sister decided they had to work it off." His mom replied a little sullenly.
"You know as much as I do that's just an excuse. Don't worry mom when I get there I'll make sure to help you drag them anywhere you want."
"Oh no you don't!" A male voice on the other end shouted. "You will be preparing for your match the second you get to Vegas you hear me son!"
"Do you have this phone on speaker mom?" The only response he got was an embarrassed cough from his mother. "Whatever, dad you're a grown ass man. I know how much you love fighting, but you better set some time aside for mom or I will forfeit the match."
"You can't do that! It would blemish your perfect record, if you're gonna quit fighting you best go out with a win." His father nearly screamed in response. "Besides your little sister wanted to come get in some reps anyways."
"Nope, not letting you get away with that one. We both know you goad her into it every time. What did you promise her this time?" The other side of the phone was silent except for the sounds of the punching bags in the background.
"I may or may not have promised to help her with the next big school project she has coming up." His dad responded a little timidly as Joshua could only imagine the death glare his mother was giving him.
"You can't do that dad, we don't need two full on muscle heads in this family. Your enough already." Joshua said as he rubbed the bridge of his nose in irritation. "Anyways I'll see you guys tomorrow, love you both."
"See you tomorrow sweetie, we love you too." His mother responded while his father grunted in reply before they hung up. Joshua turned his music back on and continued to focus on the long drive ahead of him. Over time the sporadic towns he passed through on his way started to be replaced by farms, grazing ranges, and all sorts of crops. He enjoyed the scenic landscape as much as he could without taking too much focus off the cars around him.
Soon the bright blue sky turned orange, then purple, and finally stars started to shine in the night sky above as he pulled into the edge of a small town to stop for gas. Planning to push on towards a bigger town that was more likely to have a nicer more accommodating inn, Joshua pulled into the nearest gas station for a quick refill and snack. As he pulled up to the pump he noticed how empty the gas station was and decided to get the premium just to make sure he didn't get any bad gasoline mixed into his truck's tank.
Joshua got off his truck to go pay inside while grabbing some snacks to hold him over until later. While walking he noticed that not only the gas station was empty, but even the town seemed almost barren if not for a few people walking into the small stores around. When he entered the little shopping market he saw an old man attending it. The attendant was lazily reading some hunting magazine while munching on chips. Deciding to grab some snacks before paying for the gas Joshua walked over to the chips isle, grabbed a few things, and then went towards the freezer section for a drink.
As he open the fridge his body tensed up as a loud ringing sound could be heard sharply in his ears. It felt as if someone was banging on the sides of his head with a baseball bat. Joshua dropped all of his snacks on the floor as he let out painful groans while cupping his hands over his ears. His vision started to go blurry as well, but before things got too bad he noticed that the strange occurrence wasn't only happening to him. Looking at the clerk he could see the old man hunched over passed out on the counter. Outside the few people that were walking around earlier were either passed out on the floor, or on their knees in pain trying to hold on.
Joshua felt like the world was swirling around him in an angry seizure like fashion as colors seemed to mix together. As he fell to his knees clutching his head he noticed one colored seemed to stick out as a purple haze seemed to be enveloping everything outside the store. It slowly invaded the small market along with every other building as it unnaturally phased through the walls. With one last shout of pain Joshua dropped fully to the ground as he passed out like all the others.