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Underneath the Bodhi Tree


Sarah Tintagyl
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Alexis Rosenthal stared down the dirt path in front of her and sighed. She had been in class only a week ago, behind a nice comfortable desk at Helsinki University and at the end of everyday she was able to rest and relax with a cup of tea besides a roaring fire in the university's common. Alexis' political science professor, Dr. Tomas Pons, had left on his journey to find political enlightenment earlier that week and class had been taught by, in Alexis' standards, an uneducated fool. So when she received a personal letter from the doctor telling her that to further her studies, his studies, and the political and educational power of the Hansa he had selected her to journey to Chan Khong to receive teachings from the monks at the monastery. Apparently Dr. Pons considered himself in nowhere near healthy enough to make the journey to the remote monastery and Alexis had jumped at the opportunity, now staring at the dirt path before entering the jungle, a whole new feeling enveloped her. Especially if she died somewhere along the way.

Adjusting her backpack and straightening her hat she began to walk forward into the jungle. Walking deeper and deeper into the vegetation it seemed like the mountains and jungle stretched on forever. Asia indeed was nothing like Europe, there was a feeling of the unknown, beauty, adventure, and of course with all that a feeling of uneasiness. The monastery, Pons had said lay at the top of one of the mountains and the road should take you there with out any trouble, but as Alexis journeyed further and further up, finally coming out of the vegetation onto beautiful mountain landscapes she was exhausted, if not mystified by the terrain.

vangviengolook.jpg

Finally after what consisted of a days journey, Alexis could see the monastery ahead of her, just beginning to light up as night began to fall. She was happy that by starting in the morning she had covered a great deal of land and did not have to sleep out in the wilderness. Walking up to a stone gate she spotted a guard at the gate and approached cautiously.

"Excuse me sir." Alexis walked out into the open. "My name is Alexis Rosenthal, I am here on behalf of Dr. Tomas Pons from the Hanseatic Republic. Your nation's Chancellor sent a letter to Dr. Pons asking for his audience, however he does not believe he has the health to journey to the monastery and so he asked me to come instead. I was hoping that you would be able to take me to the Chancellor."

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The favor

Yang Vu was mad. Oh no, he was raging with anger. Not only did he agree to escort another 'westerner' from who knows where; he also had to take a one day detour off his normal route to meet this person at an air strip in Dragonisia and take, whoever it was, into Eko and then listen to their endless complaining about the heat, bugs, the rain, and whatever else. Just like that idiot jounalist, Shawan, from Rebel Virginia.

"You've got to be kidding me!" He scremed in Khongese out of sheer frusteration as he realized the 'westerner' problably took the trip to Eko alone. The trip through the jungle of northeastern Dragonisia, and Chan Khong was dangerous enough for an experienced spice hauler like himself, but to travel through the tiger infested jungle, new and unaccompanied was suicide.

Freaking suicide. He thought as he settled himself, turning his ox around, and started down the spice trail to Eko. It's not that he cared about the well being of this person. Hell, the thought of him finding this person mauled by tigers further up the trail gave him a sense of satisfaction. Now grining, he thought about the reason why he agreed to escort another foreigner to the monastery: A favor. If I wasn't fronted that loan from Sonia, I would have never been able to pay off my gambling debt. And have I not, my head would be on a stake right now. I'm sure of it. He lost all all expression in his face, whipping the ox to move faster.

"Well, atleast it's not raining" He said sigh to his ox. Then at that very moment he heard a loud roar of thunder ripping through the sky, followed by an agressive down pour of rain. "Sh%t", he said quietly under his breathe, and he placed his conical hat on his head.

Finally, Yang reached the crumbling stonewalls outside Eko. There was a traffic jam as usual filled with carts full of goods, oxs, horses, cattle, monks, nomatic hearders, and the like who were being checked by members of the Khongese Self-defensing Army. Traffic was especially heavy today, he remember that there was a massive market event tomorrow, where pesants throughout Chan Khong and Dragonisa flocked to the city in hopes to sell whatever useless crap they created.

He realized that he's not moving anywhere anytime soon, so he decided to get down from his cart and see if he can convince the guards to hurry up so he can unload the lumber he brought up from Dragonisia. Weaving through the massive crowds of people, carts, and barking stray dogs to make his way to the ancient gates. He suddenly heard a soft female voice speaking an usual but recognizable language he once heard during his days in Europe. He turned towards the voice and noticed a woman with dirty blonde hair and light skin who looked utterly confused as she was talking to the gate guard."Ah." he said to himself with a bit of disappointment. "The 'westerner' made it past the tigers." She spoke to the guard again and he initiated no response to her who was looking very confused as she spoke to him in that strange language.

"Heh You! Yang attempted to speak in her native languge, a language he was took courses on some time ago. "I no think he understands. You talk in strange ton-gue. He not understand." Yang said laughing at the arrogance of this westerner'. A small crowd of people started to gather around as Yang was purposing trying to make a scene.

"Don't you know how to follow directions, you told to wait for me! You no wait. You stupid! You went by yourself! He said with an angre tone. "What your name anyway?"

"Alexis", she said.

"Why you come all this way?"

"I've come to see the Chancellor."

"Ohhhhh..." He then repeated what she said to him to the crowd in Khongese. Suddently the crowd simutaniously errupted in laugher.

Edited by Lyzah
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Alexis had never been so insulted in her life, the guards, the strange man that had talked to her, the entire crowd laughing at her. 'This, this, this would never happen in Helsinki. I might not be allowed in for an audience for a king or queen, or even the Prime Minister, but this, this is absolutely insulting.' She thought to herself. Not only did Alexis feel a bit insulted, she was quite embarrassed as well, after all she was being laughed at by over twenty people. 'Could you reason with these people?'

She turned back to the guard. "Listen sir, I understand that you might not know about this being scheduled, but I am an expected guest." Alexis reached into her pocket and pulled out the letter that the Chancellor had written to Pons. "I'm telling you. I'm not making this up!" But the guard just looked back at her with the same confused look, while he was trying to keep from laughing along with the rest of the crowd. This only continued to push Alexis' anger to the edge. There was no way she had left the Hansa for this.

Realizing that she wasn't getting anywhere with the guard she turned to the only person that seemed to understand Finnish. "Listen. If you know my language, why don't you help me out? Instead of turning some twenty people against me." With the rain beginning to fall Alexis grew desperate. "Please, I have a letter from the doctor." She said waving the letter in the air. "You have to help me. You understand Finnish. I have to speak with the Chancellor and even if I don't get an audience, I can't go through the jungle again. Especially not at night." The anger was disappearing and she felt like tears were coming on. To think, she could have been beside the fireplace right now.

OOC: I was thinking it was a commercial flight to Dragonisia, Hanseatic-Drangonisian passport would suffice maybe? And the reference to the Bodhi tree was a general just because I figured this thread was going to deal with some form of Buddhist enlightenment. Hope I cleared anything up :)....Also Lyzah, awesome intro.

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Reminiscence

"Alright, alright everyone." Yang told the crowd in Khongese, partially willing to hear her case. "She has..." He said trying not to laugh. "She said she has a letter to see the Chancellor; So thus, the guards should take her to her. Yang couldn't hold back anymore, breaking out in laughter. "I mean, hey, let's all draft letters to see the Chancellor! He said as he provocked the crowd to join in the laughter once again. "Okay, I stop... let me see this letter." He said, wiping the tears from his eyes.

He took the letter from her and started to read. Suddenly from out of no where, a small boy rips the letter from his hands, then started running around the crowd and waving it over his head, as he was being chased by four dogs. Yang gave no attempt in chasing the boy, he just watched him, waiting for him he run past to snach the letter back from the boy. "Hey! Gimmie that back!", the boy cried as he reached for the paper. "Get lost kid." Yang said to the boy as he shoves his forehead away. Thump "Ow!" The boy cried.

Feeling no remose for the boy, he begin the letter aloud. "Dr. Pons, blah, blah, blah. We'd like to.. mhm, hm,hm, mhm, hmm. "And you expect the guards to escort you right to the chancellor because you have a letter? From who?" He looked at the 'westerner' then held up the letter and reread part of it. Dr. Pons?.. He thought for a moment. Truthfully, he had trouble deciphering the stange language, because it's been so long since he spoke finnish. However, he recognizes the name 'Dr. Pons'.

"Ah, Dr. Pons..." He said as he reminised the run in with the unforgetable Dr. Tomas Pons.....

(Yang's reminiscence of his encounter with Dr. Pons)

"Mr. Vu...."

'"Mr. Vu!" The stern call to Yang stapped him out of a ten minutes trance he so often put himself in at around this time, every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday during the long, drawn out lectures conducted by the infamous, Dr. Pons.

"Yes, Sir!" Yang answered back in a sarcastic military like retort, focusing his dialated eyes upon the old man.

"Since, you appear to know everything about the late Antonio Gramsci, due to your utter disregard towards my lectures, please Mr. Vu, stand up and share with the rest of the class your thoughts on Gramsci's notion that Capitalism was too strong and people too entrenched in their beliefs to ever fully embrace the class warfare of Marxism."

Oh Sh%t, he thought. Suddenly recalling the old couc telling us to read chapter three 'Political Sabatoge', or something like that. Hesitating, Yang begin to rise from his chair, overlooking at least six hundred eyes staring back at him, waiting for his views on a topic he knew nothing about. "Talk about real world politician training he thought to himself, feeling sweat being to drip down his forehead.

"I, yauh..." The clock on the wall struck 0900, then Dr. Pons said to the class as they started to gather their things, "Alright, for Friday, you are read Michael Walzer's article on the emergence of gay rights politics, and the attention paid to it in the media." Yang fell hard on his chair, relieved. Saved by the bell sort of speak. He felt renewed, saved from embarassment, he begain to pack up his note book text book, grining as he tipped his head down. "Mr. Vue" The old man called out. "I would like to see you for a moment." Yang grin turned into a look of pure, unadulterated anger.

"Mr. Vu... Not only did you not read the section I assigned, but I can clearly see that you have no idea what is going on in class" Dr. Pons told Yang, as he approched the podium. "That's not true". He said trying to defend himself from the obvious. "Oh?" Pons inaquired.

"Then tell me, Mr. Vue.."

"It's Yang." Yang interupted"

Pons said nothing for a moment, then started again, "Tell me Mr. Vue, in your own words, why many nations are reluctant to adopt Marxist socialism. Tell me why these nations are so attached to their class structures, that they are often willing to destroy the fabric of their societies, so that the social elite can flurish? If you've paid any attention to my previous lectures, you've be able to give me solid examples reasons."

Yang was pissed, standing with his hands in his pockets, staring down at this old man. He then realized he had enough of this man's social babble. It seemed that every chance he got, he would just go on and on about his own views on socialism. Yang had enough of him and his class.

"It's all bullsh@t. I cannot just sit idling by as you rant and rave about a social system that will ultimately hinder any nation as a whole. As people,human beings, we evolved to do things a certain way that natuarlly will be different from one group to antoher. Some have ambitions, and others don't. Some value patricular things more so then the next person. Some will take advantage of the resources giving, and create something from it. Others might discard those resources. Class isn't a form of opression, it's a means to an end. And that end is to become a society that is funcionally balanced with various different skills, motives, and abilities to ultimately come together and create a society that will accomodate everyone's needs. Needs that go far beyond the rich or poor needs" Yang stopped for a moment, looked down at Dr. Pons, squinting his eyes, as he began to speak again in a deep, culm, and collective voice, "Socialism takes aways it's intended purpose, Dr. Pons. It distrupts the much needed social balance, and it will starve a society from its collective potential."

Dr. Pons was shocked at the response given. He looked up at Yang, grabing both of his shoulders, andsmiling as he whispered enthusiaticlly, "Excellent...."

(Back to present time)

Yang smiled as he looked down at this westerner. He handed the letter back to her. As the crowd still continued to chuckle he took a moment to take in the enviornment around him. He sees very poor conditions especially in the eyes of outsiders, but what they tend to over look is the happiness of this country. Khongese are very playful who are always laughing and having a great time. Most importantly we respectful towrds each other. We hardly have an crime, and we havn't seen war here in hundreds of years. We have an excellent nation here, and we can thank wisdom for that.

"Hey Westerner." Yang said looking at the girl. "I need to get my cargo unloaded and after that. There's someone I'd like you to meet. Don't think I'm going to take your bag for you, and all this will go faster if you help me unload my cart."

OOC: Hesitates to click 'add' :P

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Still a little angry at the man Alexis hesitated before responding to his offer, but if this was the only way to get into the monastery then it would have to do. "Yeah, I can help you unload." She ran over to the man's cart and jumped onto the back as the guards opened the gates. The man carted Alexis and his cargo into the monastery and after he stopped into the centre square of the building. Alexis hopped off carrying one of his bags with her.

"I appreciate you helping me out back there. But how do you know Finnish and who are you taking me to meet?"

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1) Suffering

"Hey! Carefull with that!" He pointed at the bag. "Please, just set that down, and help me with the stuff in the back." He avoiding answering her questions due to the fact that he had to move fast.

One by one, they unloaded six crates from the bed of the cart, placing them down next to a couple of old water barrels. "Help me cover this stuff." He threw a folded tarp at her. "Quickly now!" He demanded keeping a watchful eye on his surroundings. "We don't have alot of time." They covered the crates. Trying to move quickly he grabbed her by the arm, and practiclly pushing her back into the cart. "Are all you westerners this slow? We need to move. Night is coming and they should be here.." Yang glances at his watch. "They should be here in the next twenty minutes to pick that stuff up." He said as he tugged the reins on the ox to start moving.

"My name is Yang Vu. I was told to pick you up from the landing strip in Dragonisia. Where you failed to comply with directions, and just went to Eko by yourself. He said, looking back at a group of guards near the gate. "I know I told you that I was going to take you to someone, but by the looks of those guards over there. It appears that there is going to be a change of plans."

"What?!" She pleded with him to tell her excatly what was going on, but Yang kept insisting that everything will be fine and she won't be hurt in any way shape or form.

"What the hell are you saying?!" She screamed at him. "Why arn't you being straight with me? You said you'd take to me to someone so I can get into the monestary!"

"Yes, I know, you came this entire way expecting to speak our chancellor, expecting to get into the monestary, and expecting to meet with some of our teachers. And we will" Yang assured her. "We will. I just need you to help me with something."

"What on earth do you possibly need me for?!" She scolded

He turned his slowly towords her. He then lifted his eyes to meet hers, and then clamly said, "Ransom."

Edited by Lyzah
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"Ransom! No! No! No!" Alexis shook her head and began to move away from Yang Vu. "You can't do this to me, I came here on behalf of my teacher I'm not getting involved in any of this country's political ^&*$, you're not doing anything to me!" She screamed and started to run away from the man, but Yang Vu was fasted than Alexis started and without causing a commotion grabbed her face and pulled her in tight. Alexis' heart raced as the old man opened his mouth and whispered into her ear, but before he spoke, her voice came through his hand muffled. "Please, don't hurt me."

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Why do they always react this way? Yang thought as he wrapped his arms tightly around her head.

"Shhhhh. Don't make this any worse for yourself by talking, No matter you do, say, or desire, won't change this situation."

Darkness was now upon them. Yang decided to hide his carage behind the the ruins of a old, small, one room building and carried the woman, practically by her head inside. The building was emptyexcept for a wooden chair and a small table with a large candle next to it. Next to the table were military 550 rope along with some a stripe of white cloth. There was a window but it was knocked out by a fallen tree that has been left to rot. The dusty stone floor was covered by broken glass The roof was blown off years ago during a nasty storm, but that didn't trouble Yang. They will only be here for the night and there isn't anyone around close enough to notice anything suspicous. No one ever does.

He threw the woman in the chair as he calmly told her that if she kept struggling, he would have no choice but to slice her throat open and leave her body for the rats. That seemed to have worked because she didn't move allowing him to bound her legs to the chair. He then tired her hands, not too tightly, and bound them to the chair as well. Finally, he took the stripe of white cloth and gentally wrapped it around her eyes, blinding her from the world.

"Okay, I understand you're probably scared. Who wouldn't be, and I had absolutely no intentions of putting you in this particular situation." Yang said as he was fiddling franticly with his cell phone. "I just happened to notice that the guards at noticed the types of crates I brought through the gates. They followed us in. Not really sure if you noticed it but I knew I have to dump it and by now. I'm sure they have those crates in their possestion."

Yang suddenly yelled, "*&^%!" as he was liting the candle on the small table. He took a moment to calm himself down. "Well." He sighed. "I now am responsible for that cargo and I owe some very bad people ALOT of money. A debt that I can only pay with me life." He notices the girl is now shivering and whimpring.

"I'm sure you're wondering where you come in. You see, westerners come here often to do whatever it is they do here. Most of them come from money and since you have Dr. Pons as a professor. I can only be certain that you do too." Yang said as he took out a small note book with a pen woven through the metal spiral from his shirt pocket.

"I'd be a fool to ask if this is the reason you texted me to come over here immeditately. Another voice asked Yang in Khongese.

"Ah, remember that man I told you we were going to see? Well, you wait no longer. But first, I need you to calm down and answer a few questions." He prepared to write. "What is your full name, where you're from exaclty, who you're parents are, how I can reach them, and." Yang paused for a moment. "Will you please enlighten me on why the hell are you really wanted to come to this god foresaken country?

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This was one of those situations that went from bad to worse and it never seemed to be getting any better. Alexis' head hung extremely low by this point, she was being used for her money and the thing was, she really wasn't all that wealthy. Naturally her parents would pay for the money, but not without losing a great deal of money and prestige. "My name is Alexis Rosenthal, I am from the Hanseatic Republic, the city of Helsinki. My parents are Teresa and William Rosenthal and our address is 104 Georgsgaten, Helsinki 54232." She looked up at the man who had tied her up and scowled. "You want the honest answer, I wanted to come because my teacher asked me because I was his best student and he told me that the only way that I could build upon myself as a scholar was to travel and see other lands different from my own." Alexis shook her head violently. "Why the !@#$ am I here you !@#$%^&. I didn't do anything to you and you're telling me you're going to slice my throat. I don't have anything to even do with you, I don't even know you! So why me?" Her face was red with anger. He was right about the god-forsaken part and if she died here, with the anger in her body there was no way she was going to make it to heaven.

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"Alexis." The new voice said in Finnish as she listens to his foot steps pacing around her. "Ususally, the tougher ones start to tell the truth after I pull out fingernail number three." The strange man said calmly as he circled her. "Shall we find out if you're a strong one?" He stopped directly behind her. Gentlely, he rests his hands upon her shoulders, leans into her ear, and making so she can feel his warm breath tickling in her he whispers, "I bet you won't even last through the ravaging."

He laughed

"No. No. NO!" Yang interupted. "I told her she won't be harmed in anyway, if she told us the information we wanted. We will call Jade, check the information she gave us, and see if it checks out. And, if it does, we don't really need to do anything to her. They usually pay. You know how these things go."

The strange man sighs as he lifts his hands from Alexis. "Very well" He man walked toward the enterance then props himself against the wall and then lights a cigarette.

Yang dialed Jade's number as the strange man takes a deep drag.

"I hope the information you given us will is accurate for your sake. But on the other hand, I certainly hope it doesn't for my sake." He said grinning as he slowly chews his lower lip.

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Worse, of course, but this bad. Alexis hadn't thought they would get this bad. When this got to her parents there would be a lot more to worry about then just paying the ransom. Pigs like these never stuck to their words, they lied about everything and it wouldn't shock Alexis now if she got home alive. Fingernails and ravaging, her head sank down into her chest as the tears began to well up in her eyes. "Please, I'm begging you, let me go. I just wanted to see the Chancellor and I don't even want to do that anymore. I just want to go home. Please I just want to go home." Her sad eyes stared at both strange men, especially the one who was trying to defend her, but it didn't even seem like it mattered anymore. "Please, just don't kill me."

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Moments later

"Tsoa. Come out here." Yang said in Khongese to the strange man. Tsoa flicked his cigarette at the woman, as he stepped outside.

"How'd everything check out?" Asked Tsoa.

"Good. Jade's got everything in motion now. We just gotta get the girl down south."

"Alright, What's she worth to her parents?"

"Don't know exactly but hopefully we can get $5,000 each from this."

"Hmm." Jade lights another cigarette. "$5,000 each, huh?"

"What?" Yang asked with a defensive tone.

"Keep in mind, this is my thing. And I wasn't expecting this one. This can be dangerous, since I didn't have sh&it time to prepare."

Yang sighs as his moble phone begins to ring. "We'll talk about this later."

"Yes?" Yang answers.

"Let me talk to my fu$king daughter you filty piece of..." The other end of the phone said before the male voice was silenced. "Please, Sir. We just make sure she's okay." Pleaed a sobbing female voice.

"I take it you're the paren..." Tsou snatches the phone out of Yang's hand.

"The price just went up! $500,000, or your precious daughter is shark chum! Tsoa ended the call.

"Shark chum?" Inquired Yang as he rasied an eyebrow towards Tsoa.

'Yeah." Tsoa smiled. "This is my favorite part. I like to be creative."

Yang shook his head and sighed. "You just can't demand for a ridiculously higher price. You know that. And, I already told you. Things are in motion. Her parents called to make sure the girl is still alive. The father will be at the landing strip in Dragonisia in two days. You know the procedure: Come alone, blah, blah ,blah,hand over the cash. Done, he has the girl. They go home and live ever-after with pure hatred towards Asians. It's a standard operation. Easy money."

Tsou shrugged. "Whatever..."

"Okay." Yang sighed. "Since I need a picture of her roughed up. You may do the honors."

Tsou grined, patted Yang's shoulder, and slowly began to crack his knuckles as he entered the building.

Edited by Lyzah
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Watching the man come towards her Alexis closed her eyes and prepared for the beating. She told herself before it started not to cry, what ever they did to her, she couldn't cry. She couldn't get them the satisfaction of crying, the satisfaction that they had beaten her will, that they had defeated her struggle to survive. If she could get through this part alive, maybe there was still hope. But she couldn't cry and she shivered when the shadow of the man passed over her.

----------------

William Rosenthal was not a stupid mad, he was a one of the supervisors to the Hanseatic Central Bank, he had graduated from Oxford University with a M.B.A in Finance and a Masters in Communications, he also had a bit of a temper when things didn't go exactly according to plan. His daughter being kidnapped in some third-world Asian country was not according to the order of things. He had been awaken early in the morning to Alexis crying his name on the telephone and then to have some Asian !@#$%^& tell him that to see his daughter again he was going to have to 500,000 in Hanseatic Marks, it just wasn't going to happen. Then the man had the audacity to tell him to bring it alone, they figured him a fool.

After convincing Teresa that everything was going to alright, which took two hours to begin with, William made his way to the Interior Ministry. Again, being a supervisor in the main bank of the Hansa had perks, but he hoped that anyone facing this kind of problem would be treated with the same respect. At five in the morning the ministry was largely empty, except for a few lights at the end of the floor, but those were the lights he was looking for.

"Bracck!" William yelled throwing open one of the doors to a small glass office at the end of the hall. "Bracck! Wake up I need your help."

The official jumped up, straightened his face in shock and then sighed seeing that the man yelling wasn't a superior. "What do you want Will? It's-" He checked his watch. "Five-thirty in the morning. I was taking a nap."

William sat down across from him. "Alexis got kidnapped Bracck. She went over to Chan Khong for a university trip. She was going alone, but I figured that she would be able to watch herself and the country is run by priests or something. Damn Asians." His face began to redden. "They called about two hours ago, they said 500,000 marks or Alexis is dead. Teresa nearly fainted. Bracck. I want to get her back, I don't want her dying in some crap infested jungle in the middle of nowhere. I want her back! You hear me!" William pounded on the table and Bracck nodded.

"Well I'll file the report right now. The Undersecretary is in Africa right now so-"

"You aren't listening to me! I want her back! I don't want to wait for a god damn bureaucracy." He said grabbing Bracck's collar. "Bracck! C'mon we're friends, you have to help me."

The fat official nodded his head. "All right, come with me. We'll talk to Minister Valakka."

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"Auuuggghhh!" Tsoa grunted as he hand practically went through Alexis' face. "F$ck! That one hurt you little b$tch!" He spits on her face as he clentches his hand. He grabs a wad of her hair, tips her head back, takes the candle from table, and then drop by drop pours hot wax all over her face. "How does take feel. I bet you think that feels good." Tsoa laughs and then spits in her mouth.

Yang sighs, "enough already." Yang takes a quick snap shot of Alexis' current condition from his moble phone. "Hmm, It's a bit dark, but only a fool wouldn't realize that she's covered in blood.. Yang pauses for a brief moment. "Looks horrific in this lighting." Yang said as he admired the digital photo as if it were a precious piece of art. "I like it. I gotta send this up to Jade. I guess this girls dad will get the chance to see this. He's in for a treat."

"Just let me hit her one time." Tsoa said enthusiastically, almost as if he was begging.

Yang shrugs as he continues to admire the photo, "Whatever."

Thuushh

Tsoa hit's her so hard her body tips over in the chair, slaming her head hard on the stone floor. Tsoa cannot resist the urge to kick her in the chest as a puddle of blood begins to form under her head.

"Now, wait just a second!" Yang scolled him as he listens to Alexis grown in agony.

"I want to take another snap shot for my personal folder."

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**Classified**

To: Chancellor Lyzah of Chan Khong

From: Jan Valakka, Minister of the Interior, Hanseatic Republic

Chancellor,

Recently your country accepted into its borders a young woman by the name of Alexis Rosenthal, she had traveled to Chan Khong under the request of one of her university professors in order for priests in your nation to communicate with the young girl. Earlier this morning it was brought to my attention that the girl has been kidnapped by criminals in your country and held against her will for a ransom amount of the equivalent of 500,000 in Hanseatic Marks. This is a very grave situation Chancellor and I would like to keep this from the eyes of not only our respected countries press, but likewise the rest of the world. We ask that you commit some of your police force to finding this young girl and we pray that she may be safely return to her parents. If needed I am prepared to send some our own police force and detectives to hunt down these criminals and bring them to justice. The Republic, Chancellor, cares very much for the well being of our citizens and we hope that you will aid us in tracking down those who are a threat to our security as a people.

We do not want this to become a national incident and I have not informed my head of state as of yet, please do try so we can keep this as quiet as possible.

**End of**

-----------------------------------------

She couldn't move, she could barely breath and she could barely open her eyes. "So this is what dying feels like." Said Alexis to herself, she couldn't even think anymore, there was so much pain now. From the little slits in her eyes she could see the blood around her. Her blood and she wanted to cry, but she didn't have the energy anymore. "Why are you doing this?" She mumbled. It was doubtful they'd be able to hear her, but she mumbled it anyways, over and over again. "Why are you doing this to me?" In a quiet voice. She just wanted to die.

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"Why am I being bothered with this?" Grand Master Mii said as he sits with his legs crossed and posture perfectly straight on a five step podium in his small residence on the highest level of the Chan Khong monestary. "They know to simply pass these reports down to General Xyil." He slowly opened his eyes, fixating them on the twenty five burning candles that rest bundled together in a rectangular fashion next to the bottom of podium.

Chancellor Lyzah sits across from the candles with her knees touching a massive rug, resting herself on the backs of her heals with her palms on her thighs. Her head is tip downward to avoid contact because direct eye contact with the Grand Master of the Chan Khong monastery is a serious offense punishable by death which has been known to be enforced, even to those who hold the highest positions within the monastery; especially those who hold high positions. "Yes, Grand Master, you're very right. I again apologize for this inconvienance, and disturbing you in your time of meditation. This Valakka wants to keep the media from exposing this particular situation, Grand Master, and I feel that if we let the Self-Defense Army handle this, the media will undoubtably catch wind and report it. We cannot affort an international incident, Grand Master."

Grand Master Mii took a moment to slowly inhails through his nose, watching the flames from the candles flicker towards him. "They think we are priests?" The Grand Master said as he slowly exhails, watching the flames redirect upward.

"The world doesn't know much of us, Grand Master."

The Grand Master nods, "I agree with you, and this Valakka. It wouldn't be wise for you two to allow this incident to be known. I say again, and I don't like repeating myself. What does this have to do with me?" The Grand Master begins to stroke his long, white bead as his eyes finally fall upon the chancellor.

"I need your permission to deploy just one Grand Master." Chancellor Lyzah begins to feel a bead of sweat, slowly slide down her side. "Just one will be enough Grand Master."

"Very well then, I'll give you Master Azull." The Grand Master says as he closes his eyes to prepair himself for deeper meditation.

"Yes, Grand Master."

"On one condition." The Grand Master added as he slightly opens his eyes. "That you tell this Valakka that if he even tries to send one security personnel across my boarder, he will unleashed a form suffering he cannot possibly comprehend."

"Yes, Grand Master."

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Round by round he polishes, he will polish until he is finished. All 19,991 rounds must be shined to perfection. Each scuff mark, and spot of tarnish must be removed. Once a round is finished, it is essential he place it on the stone floor at exactly 2.5cm apart from the next one, no more, no less. When he finishes his first row, it is imperative that the next row must be exactly 1.5 cm from the first, no more no less. If he must lose sleep, he will, If he must not eat he'll starve, should he run out of space on the floor, he will hang from the ceiling. Should he be neglectful as to knock down his extravagant display of brass, he will reinspect, repolish, remesure, and restack each round. No matter how long it take, how hungry or sleep deprived he becomes, his essential mission must be completed.

For three straight days he polished, for three straight days he stacked, for three straight days, he scrubed these precious 9mm, .45, 5.62mm, 7.62mm, and .50 caliber rounds because there isn't anything more important in to do. His hands freezing, his back stiff, his belly empty, his body aching and his eyes heavy and dry. He scrubs.

Suddenly, his door opens allowing a steady flow of cool air flow between his precious rows of thousands of brass rounds. He pauses and watches them shake in the wind until they stop. He sighs slowly and continues to scrub. A figure casts a shadow upon him.

"Master Azull." Says the deep voice of a Shadow Agent.

Master Azull is motionless

"We have an essential mission for you. You are to abort this mission and pick it up immediately upon finishing this new mission."

"Yes Master." Says Master Azull as he carefully rises from a sea of 19,989 polished brass rounds.

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"They said that we aren't allowed to send any agents whatsoever, or we will have unleashed a form of suffering we cannot begin to comprehend."

"A great job their guards are doing then, what are they armed with sticks and pikes? I seriously doubt their ability to actually succeed in what they're trying to do." Valakka sighed. "That girl's as good as dead Bracck."

"William isn't one to be quiet about these kinds of things, he is going to cause a ruckus. This will eventually get into the press, but maybe we would be able to use it in our favor. After all its not like we did anything wrong." Bracck slammed his fist on the table. "Damn Asians, this is horrible, we can't let a little girl whose done nothing wrong in the world get beat over and over again by those--" He sprang from his seat and walked towards the door. "Jan, we have to do something."

"Suffering beyond comprehension." Valakka repeated.

"Sir?"

Valakka thought long and hard, he had various options, but which one was morally right and which one was politically right were extremely different and time was running out.

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"I figured we just hog tie her, tape her mouth shut, throw her in one of my cargo crates and send her down in that." Yang said to Tsou as they stood smoking their cigarettes,plotting their route into Dragonisia outside the building where Alexis is being held. "I guess it is a long trip, just need her in the crate to get out the gate, then about 3k down the trail, probably could let her out. Maybe let her get somthin to eat and drink too." Yang shrugged at Tsou as he took another drag of his cigarette.

The two stood outside in silence as they puffed on their cigarettes, listening to the breeze blowing gentally through the jungle.

"You know what you're problem is Yang? Tsou said as he exhails the last of his cigarette.

"Hm?"

"You care too much." Tsou flicks the cigarette butt out into the darkness. "Yeh, you'd probably be alot happier if you just did the task you're given. You know what I'm saying?"

"No. I don't know what you're saying."

"Okay, listen. Take this girl for instance. Our job is to what? Take her to the landing strip in Dragonisia, right?"

"Yeah, and?" Yang slowly squats down, sits on the backs his heels and leans his back against the wall preparing himself to be yet again, lectured by the infamous lord of wisdom Tsou.

"But we can't simply just take her down to Dragonisia, can we Yang?. You're worrying about stupid sh$t like her comfort, or making sure she eats or drinks, not hurting her if it's not necessary, blah, blah, blah. I mean, who f$cking cares Yang. If it were just me, i'd just beat til she's knocked out, tie her up, and throw her in the damn crate. Won't deal with her again until the cash is in my hands, and that's just to let the b$tch out."

Tsou lights another cigarette as the wind begins to strengthen.

"Heh, I guess if I was fellin compassionate about her eaten and drinking, I'd just spit in her mouth." Tsou chuckles. "Take life here in Chan Khong. The government don't care about nothing but that f$uck$ng monastery. So, why should we care, Yang? Why do you waste your time smuggling all that western medical stuff when you know our own government don't even care enough about the people to legalize that sh$t?" Tsou pauses to smoke. "Look at the trouble you're in now. Government took your supplies, now you gotta pay for it, either with money, or your life." Tsou rasies his arm and points back with his thumb at the building. "Now ironiclly, you're going to use your cut of the ransom money for that girl to pay for your rightous cause." Tsou laughs. "It's very funny, but you see the trouble you're in now 'bout caring for things too much? Every since you got back from that european school in whatever country you gotten all rightous. You ain't ever going to save the world, Yang. I'm sorry but it's time someone told you that."

Scattered rain drops begen to fall as the wind becomes aggressive. Yang looks up at Tsou, raises his eyebrow to him.

"The country was Hansa." Yang took a moment to smoke as he looked back into the building. "And that girl in there don't know it, probably never will, but her suffering will save the lives of thousands of Khongese."

Tsou begin to laugh, "I bet she don't care a damn about us now!"

"Whatever Tsou." Yang flicks his cigarette away. "Let get this girl in the crate and start heading east. It's about to storm soon, we better hurry."

--------------------------------------------------

Last know hit: 27° 32.00 N. 89°43.00 E.

Azull quickly inspects the alleged target location as he keeps his .45 ACP 1911 at the ready. He turns on his infrared googles, and instantly notices recently smoked cigarette butts scattered through the location. Inside the building is a large puddle of blood, next to a small table which has a recently burned candle onto if it and a chair. Next to the chair were cut military 550 rope.

"Top. It's Black Saber One four." Azull speaks softly into his communication device that's strapped ear. "Target location confirmed with negative contact. Target departed location approximately five minutes ago. Proceed to activate the asset and attempt to aquire target location, please."

"Black Saber One Four, this is Top. Acknowledged. Attempting to reaquire."

"Black Saber One Four out."

There's only one place to go to exchange someone for ransom, Azull thought as he dashed out of the building and started to head east.

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Alexis couldn't feel much, but she could feel the rain and she knew she was outside. The rain fell lightly from the sky and dripped on her face. Slowly she began to open her eyes, Yang was carrying her in his arms towards his pile of crates. They stopped for a moment and she could hear the sounds of wood being pulled apart, then he began to move again. Standing over the crate, Alexis, with her bloodied eyes looked down, he was putting her in the crate. "Please," she said quietly to him, hoping that only Yang would hear. "Please, what's going on? Are you going to kill me? Where are you taking me? What's going to happen to me?" She was alone in the world, she needed a friend now, even if he was an enemy.

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