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Raiden Yamato: The Samoan Samurai [Part 4]
“Jubei loved his kids dearly, but his love wasn’t enough to deal with Tua’s hatred for Pua. Ever since they were little, Tua never liked Pua. He was always hostile toward Pua, mainly in settle ways, sometimes in fights and punches to Pua’s face. It never got better; both of them were inflicted with Demon Blood. That damn poison affected Pua’s body and Tua’s mind and emotions. It was always hard to tell how much the demon blood was controlling Tua; he had this pissy attitude that could turn into something akin to blood lust quick as hell. Pua would be strong for a long time, but many times his body couldn’t endure the armor; it was worse when he was little, and Jubei had to spend so much of his attention to Pua, and Tua resented that. Tua never got over that, and Pua sensed it. They never got along, no matter how many people pleaded with Tua to stop bullying Pua. It never got better.” – Kenji Minamoto.
In the years since Jubei’s death, the Samoan State has maintained political and economic dominance among the Polynesian States while in constant war with the Oni [demons]. Emperor Kenji, despite being a figure head with no real political power, succeeded in establishing unity in the Samoan Parliament and the Manu Court, in spite of frequent infighting among politicians over social issues and the State’s war stragedy against the Oni. However, the biggest issue Kenji faced was the fued between Jubei’s twin sons, Tua and Pua.
Both were born with the often-lethal, biological infection called Oni Bacterium, or Demon Blood, a mysterious disease that can only be transferred from mother to child during pregnancy; demons often raided remote villages and military bases across Samoa, killing the men and raping women, especially expecting moms, infecting the unborn children with genetic toxins that spread throughout the woman’s blood stream. Most babies infected by Oni Bacterium died, either through miscarriage or still birth. Few survived, including Tua and Pua, and receiving the powers of Raiden Yamato greatly helped their immunities, but setbacks were unavoidable.
Pua, tall and muscular with medium skin pigment, wielded tremendous raw power with his Raiden Yamato abilities, but despite this, was physically weakened by the disease; often in battle he was fatigued, suffered random blood bleeds, and at some point would faint and lose consciousness if his armor burnt out. Tua, much darker and slightly bulkier in his muscular built, suffered mentally from the disease; in battle [and off the battlefield] he struggled with impulse control, unprovoked anger and erratic combative behavior, as well verbal abuse and, most disturbingly, blood lust. Tua’s symptoms impacted his judgment and ability to control his temper, but more important, these characteristics of his Demon Blood were mainly directed at Pua, though others were not excluded.
In addition, both brothers had issues with their sexuality. Pua was transparently gay to almost everyone, but was deeply closeted in his sexuality and insisted on dating women publicly, creating emotional complications for women who struggled to deal with Pua’s secretive lifestyle. Tua was heterosexual but had no [visible] interest in monogamy; any attempt in having a relationship with only one woman resulted in infidelity and heartbreak for that misled female, sometimes sex binging on Tua’s part.
In the Samoan capital of Manu Mura [mighty village], the twins and Emperor Kenji resided in the Amami Kyuden [palace], a compact palace built around an imperial castle keep surrounded by interconnected reception chambers and covered walkways with numerous tea gardens and archer towers.
Pua occupied the West Wing of Amami Kyuden, while Tua resided in the East Wing and Kenji stayed in the castle keep. Each morning, all of the Raiden Yamato samurai, including Pua and Tua, gathered at the main palace square for Morning Prayer and spiritual encouragement by the Papal Priest, the chief spiritual advisor to Kenji.
Afterwards, the samurai trained with low-ranked warriors and foot soldiers, sometimes with spectators watching them when the palace was open to the public for free, mainly on national & religious holidays. Though only training with bamboo sticks and ifilele-wooden swords, the sparring sessions between fighters occasionally became testy, primarily between Tua and Pua. Tua often taunt Pua into a fight with vulgar language, calling him ‘fag’, ‘bottom’, and with cruel emphasis, suggested to everyone that Pua was too retarded to know how to eat out a woman’s c**t. The latter slander almost always made Pua furious and the sibling accepted the challenge. As the brothers fought with their training weapons [bamboo spears], their peers, mainly entry-level soldiers, placed bets on who would win.
In one encounter, Tua dominated Pua with repetitive offensive strikes, but at one point, Pua dodged Tua’s thrust attack and counter struck Tua with a sharp swing to the legs, knocking down his surprised brother from behind. Pua then tossed his bamboo spear to the ground, nearly hitting Tua’s arm, and walked away. Enraged and his hands suddenly covered in thin black pulsing veins, Tua chased and tackled Pua in a furious sprint, wrestling him to the ground and, once pinning Pua against the dirt, punching his twin repeatedly in the face, splattering blood out of Pua’s nose. Other warriors quickly surrounded the brothers and pulled Tua off, the heaviest fighters sitting on the raging twin. Once the black veins subsided, Tua was released, but instead of apologizing, he screamed profanities at Pua, forcing another Imperial-ranked samurai to escort Tua off the training square. Such fights between the brothers happened at least monthly, and, seen by many as a sad fact, the training sessions were the only time the two saw each other at will.
After training, the twin brothers and other samurai/ninja bearing the title of Raiden Yamato, attended meetings with military generals and intelligence commanders to receive their assigned missions. These missions were mostly operations against the Oni [demons] and half-breeds that poised an immediate threat to the Samoan people. Other assignments were secret operations against rebel groups, organized crime, and political/cult groups that formed an alliance with the Oni. All Raiden Yamato samurai were reserved first for demon operations in company with their ninja counterparts.
If Tua did not receive an assignment, he spent much of his time in the east wing of the palace, the Kano Shikidai [reception chamber]. Consisting of several minka [commoners’ house] style houses bridged together by covered wooden pathways built next to a tea garden, Tua’s living quarters were interiorly decorated with traditional Japanese landscape paintings on sliding panels, inspired by the Kano painters of Kyoto. Each building and walkway was constructed with ‘nightingale floors’, which were intentionally laid to make the cramps and nails rub together to softly squeak when stepped on; these floors allowed Tua to be alerted of pending intruders or unwelcomed guests when he had women in his living quarters for private matters.
Of all the Raiden Yamato Samoan Samurai permitted to have servants and maids in the palace, Tua had the largest staff of such workers, almost every one of them female of diverse [adult] ages and ethnic backgrounds. Tua also had frequent quests in his chambers, almost all of them women. Often Tua wore only a short lava-lava [Samoan skirt] in front of his female quests [and staff workers], and he always supplied his fringes with fresh oysters, asparagus and avocados to serve as appetizers for his female guests, alongside wine and spermicide lubricants.
If Pua didn’t receive an assignment, he spent his free time in the west wing of the palace, the Kano Kuroshoin [inner audience chamber]. Pua’s residence was almost identical to Tua’s quarters; the only difference being that the Kuroshoin was built on a hybrid stroll dry-landscape garden, and the sliding panels were covered in cherry tree paintings of the Kano form. Besides these features, Pua designed his space to mirror Tua’s place, especially with the nightingale floors.
Pua had the smallest staff of maids in the palace, all female, though few ever stayed overnight. Men made up the majority of visitors to Pua’s residence, especially those of Oriental Asian and Polynesian heritage, though other groups were not excluded. Women who wanted to see Pua in his chambers had to make an appointment in advance; Pua was very protective of his privacy and did what he could to avoid scandal and conflict over personal matters, whereas Tua, who was more loose [though not completely careless], was more willing to get into a fight over women.
Of all the men that spent the most time in the Kano Kuroshoin, four men stood out: Orientals Kwan and Seoul, the Samoan Archer O Rita Taku, and Jun Shisa, the Samoan of Miyako. Of all the women that frequented the Kano Shikidai the most times, one young lady stood out from the rest: Yoko Kiwa, also from Miyako. Since Yoko and Jun knew each other and were from the same island, she was the only woman allowed to see Pua in his residence unannounced.
A childhood friend and daughter of a famous immigrant ronin [freelance samurai] who befriended the legendary Jubei, Yoko was the twins’ best friend and confidant, though their relationship carried a great deal of baggage and complications, some of them quite serious. Yoko was unofficially Tua’s manager – as of crisis manager in dealing with the numerous women Tua slept with. She handled everything from venting their backgrounds, to taking them to the clinic, to quietly pushing the token women out of the residence after Tua dumped them; Yoko even acted as a ‘therapist’ when a heartbroken girl cried hysterically and took a long time to leave. She provided a similar service for Pua, handling marriage-seeking ladies who couldn’t take being Pua’s ‘beard’.
The most complexing matter for Yoko and the twins involved Pago, Yoko’s infant son. Tua had fathered six children, all out of wedlock, none in any sort of monogamous partnership, while Pua had no children prior to Pago. Two years before Pago’s birth, Yoko and Tua were romantically involved, despite Yoko’s better judgment. Despite her patience and tolerance for so many other things, she eventually broke it off with Tua, after numerous infidelities he engaged behind her back. Wanting to hurt him back in a moment of emotional weakness, Yoko and Pua, who was going through his own issues and wanted someone to distract him from his problems, got drunk and had a one-night stand; Yoko did not plan on seducing Pua. Nine months later, Pago was born. The three could not find words to describe this emotional mess.
When Yoko learned of her pregnancy, she was not sure of the time of her child’s conception, as her intimidate encounters with the brothers happened on the same day. Her sisters insisted on a parental test to determine which twin was a father, but she rebuked them. Instead, in part out of her frustration toward Tua, as well as mixed sympathy to Pua’s fear of coming out as gay, Yoko announced that Pua was Pago’s father – knowing that most people would remain skeptical of Pua’s sexual orientation. Yoko’s action boosted Pua’s stock for arranged marriage with socialite women and grown daughters of heads of state outside Samoa, which was just enough to mum people into being quiet when discussing Pua’s private life. Tua was not amused; he was pissed.
To complicate matters further, since both brothers had demon blood that mixed with their Raiden Yamato powers, Pago’s DI [demon infection] was unknown; physicians who examined the infant concluded the baby was a dormant carrier, yet could not determine if the inactive bacterium would mutate or not. Even with a completed paternity test, that would not resolve Pago’s DI status.
Despite Pago’s birth and Yoko’s subsequent actions, Tua and Pua continued to rely on Yoko to handle their personal affairs, all three spending much of their ignoring their lingering problems in their [awkwardly termed] friendship. Tua insisted on a paternity test, as he believed Pago was his, but instead of taking the test on his own, he continued his playboy lifestyle in front of Yoko. Pua hesitated with the DNA test, as he bonded with Pago and feared he was not his father; having his own child was the one aspect of heterosexuality Pua saw has authentically achievable. Yoko continued to manage the twins but their collective absence of addressing their issue[s] strained them.
While Tua changed women like coffee filters, Pua kept steady with Kwan, Seoul, O Rita and Jun Shisa, though he also had other male suitors. Kwan and Seoul were his principle friends with benefits, and O Rita and Jun were in their own exclusive place with the Samoan samurai. Seoul was a martial arts instructor that oversaw training and endurance exercises of all military combat personnel, including all samurai and ninja. It was at a karate class session where Pua and Seoul usually met to plan their rendezvouses. Kwan was a weight lifter who specifically trained heavy-set warriors; Pua did not see him as much, but when Kwan had time, they would sneak off to hidden hallways for privacy. Both were Korean and at least 5 years older than Pua.
O Rita Taku was one of the kingdom’s greatest archers, famous for his record number of demons he killed, recorded at over 8400, with his famed Kannon Hand, a ‘Raiden Yamato’ recurve bow that could morph into a machine-built crossbow that fired plasma fireballs instead of traditional metal arrows. Jun Shia, opposite to O Rita and other holy warriors, had no typical holy weapon; his divine power derived from his armored gloves, controlling earth and rock to his will. For combat, Jun used karate and other martial arts to fight human opponents, but for the demons, his gloves enabled him to trigger earthquakes, turning the hard ground surface into swollen ocean-like waves that could demolish entire demon armies. O Rita and Jun were among Pua and Tua’s rivals.
Pua and O Rita knew each other since childhood, while Jun was primarily associated with Yoko from that age point. Publicly Pua was very private with both O Rita and Jun, but particularly with the former, as both downplayed their childhood past, claiming they were recent acquaintances. Privately, using his robe & climbing skills, O Rita would sneak into Pua’s tea garden and climb up the built-up walkway nearest to Pua’s living chamber, incorporating his ninja skills to avoid detection and disturbance of the squeaky floors. As for Jun, he avoided the Kouroshoin; Pua met with Jun at the afternoon at a nearby inn, as O Rita would come to Pua at night, usually after midnight.
Pua’s relationship with Jun was odd, as they were not sexual intimate. Jun was married and had three children. Though aware of Jun’s marital status, Pua only partly suppressed his attraction to Jun under the guise of friendship [with crush-fuelled flirting]. For his part, Jun knew of Pua’s feelings for him – and he never described himself as exclusively straight despite his wedlock. Jun made no effort to quell Pua’s attraction and in some ways welcomed the affection, as he kept details of his marriage hidden from everyone, including Pua. Therefore, Pua felt stuck with Jun in a weird friend zone. Time with O Rita helped to get Jun out of his head for the evening, but by the next morning, when O Rita was gone out of sight, Pua’s feelings for the Miyako samurai resurfaced in his mind.
Before their day ended, Pua and Tua met separately with Kenji at the Main Lobby Hall, an open circular hall with an opening in the ceiling to allow natural light to brighten the room. Kenji would summon both brothers at once, but spoke with them in separate conversations to avoid confrontation between them; only sparely did he have them summoned together, usually for the most urgent meetings. Kenji asked each of them about their day, often aware of whatever scandal or issue they were involved in, as well as knowing the brothers hid such issues from him out of embarrassment. Most times Kenji chose not to dwell on the twins’ personal issues.
After these meetings, the brothers returned to their respective wings. Tua headed straight to his chambers, expecting at least one available woman to be there. Pua did the same thing with O Rita and other men, but beforehand, he always made a detour to the palace’s oldest hondo [main temple hall of worship]. A Zen-inspired room of gold and bronze walls, wooden pillars and plain tatami mats, the hondo had a small booth next to the semi-enclosed tabernacle, the hondo’s centerpiece.
The built-in prayer booth was tight in space and had nothing inside, and its lacquered wooden floor was always cold. When the hall was empty in the evening, Pua strolled quietly through the room and took off his sandals before entering the booth. Inside, he prayed; for about five minutes Pua prayed in a soft murmur, his bare feet and knees frigid as he kneeled in front of a blank wall, head bowed.
Pua never shared this private experience with anyone, and only two knew anything about him using the prayer booth, Yoko and Kenji. One night, Kenji followed Pua to the hondo and saw the Samoan samurai go into the prayer booth. Keeping his distance, Kenji appeared relieved by Pua’s secretive practice. In this relief Kenji walked away, knowing that staying there would risk blowing his cover, and hummed his own prayer, “Heavenly Lord, please be with Pua. Please do not forsake Tua. Please forgive both brothers.”