Monday, November 9, 2015

Veterans Day

 As Veteran's Day Approaches we should remember that we are not heroes. We are the ones that gave part, if not all of our lives for this country that we hold dear. Our opinions may differ, are wars may be many years apart. If there is one thing that we all hold in common no matter where or when we come from it's that we have served. To be sure not all of us have done so willingly, not all of us have done so with patriotism and civic duty in our hearts, what is the same regardless of our motivations is that we we took up arms for our country. Let us not look to the war itself nor the politicians that tell us where to fight. Instead let us look to our fellows in arms.

The bonds that we share transcend time and borders, near and far. And how can we forget that not all of us survived intact? There are many of us and that suffered wounds mental and physical, but we have all suffered a loss. A loss of life, limb, sanity, of the lives we all had before. Our service whether or not in wartime, has changed us and serves to draw us closer. Let us be proud though what we have done, regardless of the reasons War of the war we have done so. This is a day that is meant to honor us all, but lest we forget, we are not special, we are not heroes. We have sacrificed, bled, fought, and died. We have faced our duties with grim determination, and a desire to see our duties completed, whatever the costs may be. We should not forget that we have all just done our duty the best way that we could, and if that makes us heroes in the eyes of others, so be it. Thank us not for the act of serving, for many of us it is a bitter pill. To all of you, veterans, civilian, and those still serving, let us raise a glass to those that we have lost and are not here to celebrate with us, they are the true heroes. 

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Letter to a Senator

So, I recently learned that my senator, Harry Reid, was one of the ones that voted to cut military pensions. Well, this is the letter I sent to him, I doubt that I'll get a response, but here it is for all to see.

Senator H. Reid,

As a Veteran of the USAF, though I may be young, and was not old enough to have earned the pensions that so many of my other fellow veterans were able to acquire, I can honestly feel the sting of betrayal. While I myself did not lose any benefits this time around, due to changed to the budget, I lost all benefits that go with being a veteran, up to and including my GI bill. It is very likely Sir, that since my benefits were lost that I will not finish college any time soon.

There are others that are reaching the point in their life where they are old enough to serve, and now, may no longer consider a life in the military due to budgetary cuts to military benefits. I would ask you Sir, if you would be so kind, to perhaps personally address the concerns of not only veterans, but spouses, and dependents of military members to state in your own words why a vote to cut our benefits was necessary.

I certainly do not expect a response Senator, nor do I believe that I will get one. I learned in my brief time in the military that rarely will one stand up when they are questioned, and rarer still will one stand up to promises made, and convictions said to be held. I do not expect you to make right the wrongs that you and others have committed, I only wish to state that you have turned your back on the flag, you have turned your back on the blood of the brave millions that have served, fought, and died for the flag and nation that you claim to stand for.

All of that said Senator, I do wish you a Merry Christmas and a happy new year.

Matthew Gerald Versluis, USAF 2008-2011


I can only hope that you will at some point do right by all of us that have truly bled for the flag and will take our side.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

A long time and faults.

             It has been a very long time since my last entry, and as only a few of your know, I now live in Las Vegas, and have since October of 2011 after getting out of the Air Force. As far as why I'm out? Well, that is simply down to personal faults, namely, pride. While I have indeed read the story of Icarus and knew the dangers of hubris. Pride was the downfall of Icarus and so was my downfall. Those of you that know me closest know the story, and very few will ever be privy to it here. But more importantly is my Birthday. Now, the reason why I bring this up, is very simply the fact that I feel that I have already achieved the most important act that I can be a part of.

             Im twenty five, and the high point of my life was when I was twenty two years old, in March of 2011. I played a small part in the earthquake relief in Japan, and today I find myself in the shadow of my younger and dumber self. If I had not been as full of hubris as I was, I'd not have that event in my life, and because of that, my own ghost haunts me.

             This is magnified by other things, several of which affect me every day. I have a strong desire for validation and recognition to the point where it affects my 'friends' and family to the point where I seem to ignore what I get from family, certainly something that bothers me, but at the very least then I realize this. I am not quite sure where this neediness comes from, but it is there. Seemingly tied in with this is what I tend to put on for show as a fairly gregarious personality, all an act. Unfortunately, I do tend to get caught up in my personality and can become offensively clingy, see validation. I can be honestly happy with my friends, my real ones, you know who you are, but with the others, at work, out and about, its an act. The very fact that my personality is a construct, can deeply bother me at times. And finally at the end of it, a very strong sense of paranoia. Due to having been trod on so many times by other people and through failed endeavors, I firmly believe in never trusting anything until it happens. The last thing that I tend to tryst in life is someone that promises and then doesn't deliver. I understand that life happens every now and again, but very few people make it up after the failure happens. I do realize that for the most part I am far too bitter, and far concluded in my beliefs too be as young as I am.

             Now, on the bright side, at least I am able to realize my faults, and simply put I can work on those. There is one good thing about this, the very fact that I am unable to work on these at the moment does not mean that I am without hope, as few people realize a good portion of their faults, of course that could be a sort of hubris too, I am not quite sure. My sister recently posted a song to her facebook page “Let it go”, and I've been listening to it over and over. And sure, I'm not a Disney princess, I can't go from fearing my past to rejoicing in the freedom of shuffling off responsibility in a small musical number, but, well, maybe I should try it? Really, what's the worst that could happen? Maybe if I can finally let go of my paranoia, that all of it will eventually just fall away like so many snowflakes in a gust. Anyway, here you go, I wish that I could say that i'm not looking for validation, but I am, and the most likely thing that'll happen,is that I'll just ignore it, so there's that.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

True Coriander

Here i am sitting in my room in Toyo, with broken AC, a creer going no where, literary if not writing inspiration. I write this not as a broken man, as i have not found what makes me true. I write this as one in search of their 'True Coriander'. A phrase to mean that i am searching for something and have no idea what it is, only that it exists.

This is why I have not Posted in a long time, the ennui of not realizing myself has gotten to me, and hopefully a chance will be given to me. I have indulged more in photography, entering a contest and losing in all categories, doing some minor work with co-workers, trying to write a novella, but nothing grabs me, not lately.

I am in search of my True Coriander, and I doubt i'll know when I find it as there is nobody that can tell me.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Shinden: Magnificent Lightning

OK, So This is a story that i wrote back in 2005, and because I have posted a sample of a novella that I am currently working on I figured that i'd post this one, apparently at it's length of 8,000 words it's shy of a novella, but I can accomplish one now i feel.Written on November 25th 2005. I Retain all rights to this story, and original copies, (I still have the paper copy rough draft, I CAN prove ownership.)

My name is Hideki Musashi; I have a story to tell you if you would listen. I was once a samurai of the Yasha clan, now I am ronin. My story is one of honor and shame, bloodshed and passion. It would honor me if you would hear my story. It starts with the story of my fall into darkness from the innocence of youth, many years ago on the lush rolling plains of Kyushu when I was a young child.

I was tending my fathers rice field one day, the smell of wet earth and the young rice permeated my senses when a sulfuric scent over powered the wet earth. I looked west to se a thick demonic cloud of smoke arose over my village. I ran, my feet sloshing through the rice paddies, the mud getting up to my knees. As I crested the eastern hill, overlooking the village a hideous sight greeted my eyes. My village was being attacked by bandits the town guard had been overwhelmed and the village had been overrun by the enemy. If I had been older, I would have tried to fight back, I would have made them feel my rage, I would have skewered them on my sword. Then came the sight that warped my for most of my life, my father was drug to the top of the eastern hill where I was crying and he was brutally slain, no he was slaughtered like an animal brutally, no man should ever face the kind of death he suffered through. It was then that I felt my soul fall into darkness, I couldn’t control my self I raced toward the brute that had slaughtered my father. I gabbed his sword from his hands, he staggered and fell from the shock of being assaulted be a small boy, and there right next to my father I slew that honorless dog by slicing him into cubes of flesh. Right before he died, I cut out his still beating heart and took a bite spitting the blood and flesh on his face.

I sat upon my horse overlooking the plains; my soldiers were ready for the carnage that would turn this verdant field into a sea of blood. The sunlight glistened off their armor, making them appear as crystals shining in the moonlight. The inky blackness of our standards seemed to be pieces of darkness captured upon silk. One of my commanders, Ishi Katsuni, had just ridden up to me.
“Most honorable general, are you sure that you wish for us to engage the enemy? The Notsure clan’s army numbers over ten thousand! Ours barely numbers three!”

“Yes,” I said, “advance the troops. We shall kill them ten thousand times over before those Notsure dogs claim the lives of even one of my men!” This seemed to have had an effect on my friend Katsuni-san, as he nodded and rode off to the head of the lines emboldened by my words. Katsuni was indeed the wiser and more honorable man; I should have listened to him. The odds were not in our favor. My army was but a fly before a pond full of frogs. I should have known that the battle would be a slaughter. As we passed, the crest of a hill a large blue mass made itself known to us. I heard one of my offers discussing something.

“Are our maps wrong? There is not supposed to be a river here.”

“That is not a river,” I told the man, “that is the army of the Notsure clan, their best, and also their smallest army. They are led by Shatori Hanyo, a veteran of many campaigns, rumored to have fought and killed one thousand men, and without a single scratch to show for it.” At this, the officers that I had told this to shamed themselves greatly. I must admit that to see the Notsure clan was truly a wonder to behold, with the sun shining on their blue armor they looked like a river languishing with its progress. Once we had stopped, an officer of the Notsure clan rode out to discuss terms of surrender. I then rode out to meet him personally.

“Do you yield to the forces of the most honorable Shatori Hanyo, Daimyo of the Notsure clan?”

No sooner had he closed his mouth, then, I unsheathed my sword and separated his head from his body. As a single fat crimson drop of blood fell from the tip of my black serrated blade and onto the verdant field below, one sneered word left my mouth, “never.” Then without haste, I charged into the sea of blue armor with my men at my back. As I tore into their lines with all of the rage of a burning star, a font of crimson erupted from each of their unworthy necks. As I tore into one of their officers a piece of flesh clung to my blade leaving a hole where his stomach used to be. A hail of arrows suddenly erupted upon my men punching through their thin armor, killing two hundred instantly. Finally, my men had joined the fray. At the head of the formation was my friend Kaikyo Maru, a close friend and savage warrior. As he fought beside me, he said.
“Let them never for…” One of the enemy samurai ripped out Maru-sans throat with his hands.
“Die you honorless dog!”
“Taste the steel and fury of the Yasha clan you Notsure pig!” I yelled at him.
“Ah,” he said, “so this is the great Hideki Musashi. It will be as much of a pleasure killing you as you had killing every person in my village.”
At those words, my most desperate fight began. All of a sudden, the samurai drew another sword from his belt in a wide sweeping arc, the gleaming steel blade passed but an inch from my nose. Then I tried to plunge my sword into his chest, but my blade bounced off and shattered into a cloud of black metallic powder. This sight stunned me; forcing me down to my knees, he told me this.
“Hideki Musashi you have no honor, so by doing this it does you no dishonor.” Then the hilt of his sword came crashing down on my skull. Just before I passed out and blood was running in front of my eyes he told me, “you shall awaken to a horror, this Hidaoi Nishizawa pledges to you.” Then as blood ran in front of my eyes, I slipped into darkness.

I do not know how long I had slept, but when I awoke, the sun had started to rise. I wish that it had not risen that day. After I had wiped the dried blood from my eyes, a gruesome sight befell them. My entire army laid slain or dying, most of them with a sword protruding from their chests. Those without a sword were pinned to the ground with daggers through their wrists ankles and genitals. It was not an honorable way for any man to die. What Nishizawa had said was true indeed. The once verdant field was stained a deep red, with pools of blood inches deep. It seemed that I was the only one that had killed any of the Notsure clan. I could not take the sight of the carnage any longer. Having been stripped of my honor and my armor and weapons I departed for an unclaimed valley. I thought that I could live my life as a watarimono, but it would not be so.

As I was walking, I thought about my life, always killing in cold blood, never fighting for the side of good I had always been the evil one. I decided to renounce my ways, I had decided that I would walk the path of righteousness; I would fight to protect those in need, not for the sake of fighting. I would soon get my first chance to prove myself. As I was walking next to a river down in the valley, I heard a cry for help.
“Help! Help me! Wolves!”

Without hesitation, I ran to help. It was an old man being attacked by a wolf pack. Having no armor or weapons I would have to be very careful. I hid in the boughs of a tree to look for an opportunity to attack. Then I saw him, the alpha wolf, he was directly beneath me. The wolf was so surprised by me falling on his back that at first he did not attack. Then it got bad for me. The entire pack began to attack me. I tried to fend them off to get to the alpha but they would not back off. Then he made a crucial mistake he attacked me and turned his back on the old man. The man must have been a samurai master, he moved with speed that seemed unnatural for a man of his age. The old man killed the wolf with one blow of a kendo stick, as the alpha wolf fell, the others instantly dispersed. I had never seen such masterful sword play from anybody, I never saw the blows that he landed, but I did see the wounds that had been inflicted by them.

“For your help grateful I am, follow me you will, clothing and food give you I will.”

So I followed him to his home in the mountains. The way he walked, serene, unfaltering, sure of him self, yet humble, told of a man that had accepted peace and righteousness, yet was also a master of many fighting styles, yet was as kind and honest as a saint. His silence spoke volumes about his character. He did not utter a single word until we reached his house. Once we did, his words were simple yet spoke of wisdom.
“Should you enter change you will, change you not depart you shall.”

Having the need for atonement for my life and actions, I accepted his offer, not for the food he offered, but for the need of a new life. “Yes, I will change my ways and my life master, may I enter?”
“Ways change they will, enter you then. Master call you will not, Shun-Zai call me you will.”
“I will honor what ever request you ask of me Shun-Zai-san.”
“Then my first request,” he said, “put this on you will and with me sit you will.”

As I put the robes on, I thought about how I must show this man the greatest respect, and how I should change my ways to serve justice and good, and to fight the evil in the world. I also thought about how to bring honor back to my name. Then I sat with Shun-Zai and shared a meal with this honorable man. He could have left me to the wolves when they were attacking me, but he fought them and in doing so saved my life, for that I owed him mine. As I sat there, he said something very important to me.
“If for justice fight you will, train you I must. First lesson, begin it shall. Humble you must become, honest, and respectful you must become.”
“Yes most honorable sensei, I will do what you ask of me and honor your wisdom.” At this, all he did was give a wise smile. I then did something that I would never have done as a warrior of the Yasha clan, I cleaned up the re remains of both meals, taking care of his first.

When Shun-Zai saw this, he started my combat training. “Wooden sword take you will,” he said, “If hit me you can, complete your training is.”
“I would never harm my sensei.”
“Obey me you will, sincere may you be, but strike you will.”

As soon as he finished he struck, it was no longer an attack on him but defense, so I did what he asked. For an old man he was like shinden. I could only hope to parry his blows, as his wizened fist came inches from my face I ducked, just barely avoiding getting hit. I made a strike that would have surprised a ninja master with the speed it had, he easily deflected it with one finger. His skills were something that I could not hope to match only hold off. He struck with his hands and feet as well as his kendo stick. All of a sudden, he knocked me off my feet and I found the sword I was holding barely one inch from my neck. I never even felt it leave my hand.
“Defeated you are, train you must. Train you I will, long time will it take. Know this you will, I cannot tell you when ended your training it has, when ended know you will.”

So only I would know when my training would be complete. I felt that I would be with the most honorable Shun-Zai for a very long time. In the end, I was surprised that my training had only taken four years. It would be the final days that would change my life forever. On one of the final days, Shun-Zai told me that he had been crafting armor and a sword for me.

“This is too much sensei,” I told him. “You need not do this; your knowledge is all that I ask of you.”
“Humble and just, you have become. These I give you, aid you they will and protect you. If justice for you will fight, need these you do.”

“Then I humbly accept your gift.” I had been reflecting on my past with the Yasha clan. Under them, I had killed countless innocents and stripped myself and others of honor. I decided that I would regain my honor by protecting innocents, and stopping all who threatened them. I would do this even if I had to kill every soldier the Yasha clan had. It was then I took my first step on the path of honor. My final day with Shun-Zai was one I will never forget. We had one last sparring match.

He had taught me to fight with my hands and feet as well as my sword. The style was very powerful; it would confuse and scare an opponent because of the threat of multiple weapons. Each of us came but inches from the other, we were like two hurricanes locked in combat, and hands, feet, and swords appeared to mesh into one. My sword felt more like an extension of my body than a piece of metal. It was unclear who would win, even to Shun-Zai. It ended with me knocking him onto his back. All he did was to nod in acceptance then motioned for me to follow him to his workshop.

As soon as I entered his workshop I had to bow, it was too much of an honor to let me look upon the armor he had crafted. It was made from a gleaming silvery metal; it was made from plates and sheets, both of which were fashioned to allow unrestricted movement. It was padded with silk and soft fabric, which was not needed because the armor was very light. To demonstrate the strength of it he took a large hammer and struck the armor with it. The armor did not even show as much as a deformity in the intricate inlay from the strike.
“Amazed you are yes? The armor from rare metals crafted it is, the swords also.”
“Swords? I thought you only made one?”
“Three swords did I make.” Then he unwrapped three swords from sapphire blue silk, one wakizashi, and two uchigatana. Then he reached for the two uchigatana, put them hilt to hilt, one up one down, and pressed a button. The hilts opened up and the swords became one double bladed sword. The swords were truly amazing, a wonder to behold. Then he spoke to me again.
“Done I am not, return soon you must.”

Then I left him to his work. As I was sitting down to eat a storm hit the mountain. The rain was pelting the ground like stones, and the thunder seemed to be the roar of a dragon. Somehow, through all of this, I could still hear Shun-Zai working; I could still hear is hammer striking metal. I did not go to him because he did not call, and still his hammer fell. Then it happened, a truly amazing sight, lightning struck the ground not once but one hundred times in the same place, it was shinden. Then I saw where it had struck, the workshop of Shun-Zai had been destroyed. I ran as fast as I could hoping I could still save him, but when I found him, he was smoking in a corner. His flesh was burnt and disfigured. As I approached him, he motioned for me.
“Done I am…take them…and justice…you will…make.”

He never even heard me say, goodbye. Then I found the swords and the armor. They had become changed in the lightning strike. The armor was now a pale lightning blue, with images of lightning emblazoned upon the metal, it felt like another robe when I put it on. The swords were also changed to a pale lightning blue hue also with an image of lightning emblazoned upon them. There was also Kanji inscribed very artistically on the blade by the hilt, the inscription said ‘face the universe like magnificent lightning’. It was then that I became a ronin, under the name Shinden. After I had collected my belongings, I departed. I left the place where I had found the path of honor and I vowed never to fall from the path of honor ever again.

I followed the river from where I had met Shun-Zai, until I had come upon a village. When I reached the humble yet imposing gates, a village elder came to greet me. He had the look of a wise man that had never committed a dishonorable act in his entire life. He was flanked by two people; one was a younger man that appeared to have been his son. The other was a young woman, perhaps twenty years of age. All three had striking features that spoke of serenity and power. The man must have been the leader of the village, if not a very important man in his own right.
“Welcome to the village of Ouka. I am the leader of this most humble village, Toya Osai. This is my most honorable son Hiryu, and my most honorable daughter Ouka. And who is it that honors our village with their presence?”

“I am Shinden Musashi, a ronin, most honorable Toya Osai-san. I came from sensei the mountains from training with the most honorable Shun-Zai.”
“How is Shun-Zai-san? I have not seen him since my daughter returned from her tutelage with him.”
“I regret telling you this, but Shun-Zai is dead, he was killed by one hundred lightning strikes.”
“I am sorry to hear that he is dead. It pains me so much to hear that a true man of honor is dead. Would you honor me by entering my most humble home?”
“It honors me that you would invite me into your home,” I told him. As I entered, I saw the true opulence of his home. His house was adorned in many fine silken tapestries and many embellished paintings. Even the robes that he and his family wore were lavish. His robes were of the finest silk I had ever seen, a golden background with golden embroidery. The robes of Ouka were a fine emerald green with silver embroidery that I had never seen before. As were starting to sit down a commotion started outside of the village gates.

“Open your gates! Give us everything you own, In the name of the Yasha clan!”

I hurried to get my swords and armor, before the gates of the village were breached. If I could not protect this village then I would not be worthy of having trained under the venerable Shun-Zai. No sooner had I put my armor on than Ouka was beside me ready to defend the village. The armor that she had donned was as unique as the wearer. It seemed to be a metallic cloth, the color identified it as armor crafted by Shun-Zai, but it appeared to be closer to silk than any form of armor. The nagamaki that she wielded dwarfed her lovely frame. To wield such a weapon in combat she must have possessed immense strength, but to have such strength upon such a beautiful body boggled my mind. When she saw me looking at her, all that she had on her mind was duty, which was evident in her words.
“We have to protect my village now. You can stare at me later Musashi-san.”
“The let’s defend your village,” I replied. At the moment that came out of my mouth, we were set upon by a horde of soldiers.

The fist soldier that faced us became ‘divided’ on the issues of attacking. His legs continued forward as his torso flew to retreat. It amazed me that Ouka not only possessed the strength to wield a nagamaki but to slice a man in half wearing full armor. Then I got into my first fight. An officer had decided to engage me in combat. He brought his sword up in a sweeping arc intended to rip into my chest, with reflexes honed by Shun-Zai I blocked his blow with one blade and pierced his armor with the other end. The blade cut through his armor and his chest like lightning through a cloud. As my blade dispatched the next soldier, a sound of thunder seemed to issue from the blow. Over to my right Ouka Osai was carving a swath of death through the enemies’ ranks. The movements of her body and her nagamaki seemed to be one; her movements were a dance of death. The next soldiers to fall charged me from all directions. I swung my joined uchigatana around me flawlessly dispatching them. Within five minutes, we had dispatched forty attackers; only two of them had escaped. With the fight was over I was able to talk with Ouka-san.

“Can I offer you my assistance Ouka-san?” I could see that she was breathing heavily after the battle.
“Yes, that would be most honorable, and you can resume staring at me Musashi-san.”
“I am sorry Ouka-san; I did not mean to be rude. How may I make it up to you?”
“You can carry this,” she said as she tossed me her nagamaki, "and you can bathe me Musashi-san.”
“Wouldn’t I dishonor you and your father by doing so?”
“No,” she said. “He believes that you are worthy of me.”
‘Then your father honors me greatly by thinking so.”
“Yes that is true, he does honor you greatly. Meet me in the baths later, and try to remain honorable,” she then flashed me a wink over her shoulder and walked away.

As we entered the village, we were greeted with cheers. All of the villagers had come out to thank us for saving them. The feeling I got from seeing people that were glad to welcome me was one I had never experienced before. When we entered the house of Osai, Ouka showed me where I could put my armor and weapons. Then she told me where the baths were and to expect her soon. The prospect of a bath was wonderful, just getting all of the blood and soil off would take a while. No sooner had I gone into the water than Ouka came into view. Even being covered in blood and soil did not mar her appearance in any way. She was still as radiant as when I first saw her.

“Can you help bathe me?” She said as her first slender leg dipped into the spring.
“It would be my honor to help cleanse you.” I said.
“Thank you very much Musashi-san, but the honor is mine.”
Then I helped wash her soiled body in the places that she asked. Then I received another invitation.
“Musashi-san will you join us for a feast in honor of your wonderful defense of the village?”
“I will join you, but it is also in your honor too Ouka-san. I would also like to speak to your most honorable father.”
“He will be pleased to speak with you. I am sure that you will have much to discuss.” Then she slipped out of the water and into a robe, again flashing me a look over her shoulder. I then had become ready; I had a feast to attend.

When I walked into the dining hall of Toya Osai, something was wrong. For being such an ornate house and village, there was very little food on the table. The meal consisted of rice, fish, miso soup, and tea. As soon as I entered, Toya Osai bowed to me.
“We thank you very much for the defense of our village. I am sorry that the meal is so meager, but the attack to day was nothing new. It was only one in a series of predations by the Yasha clan. They have been attacking our village and plundering our food every three days for the past month. This is the first time that one of their raids has failed. I am afraid that they will kill us all during the next attack.
“I will try and put a stop to this. Of you will permit it I would like to take a group of your best men to drive them away. If it is possible I would like to try and get rid of them tonight.”
“That would be prudent, I think. All I can spare you is ten men and my son Hiryu.”
“I mean no disrespect most honorable father,” interjected Ouka. “I will also accompany Musashi-san. The thirteen of us might be able to defeat the sixty of them, should it come to violence.”
“Your skill would prove an asset to them. Very well, you shall accompany them. I suggest that you leave soon while the sun is at your back and their encampment is in turmoil from their defeat.”
As soon as the meal was finished, our group of thirteen left for the Yasha encampment. Hiryu and Ouka followed close behind me while the others traveled on both sides hidden in the tree line. Surprise would be necessary for victory if a fight broke out. As we neared the encampment of the Yasha clan, the smell of death overtook us. It seemed that there had been a lot of slaughter recently. Perhaps the commander had executed some of his men for the failure of the raid. Once we wer in view of them an officer came out to meet us.
“Who are you, and what do you want,” yelled the soldier.
Hiryu replied to him, “We are villagers from Ouka, and we want you to leave now.”
“Ouka, is a festering slime pit, we will leave once all of you are dead.” Then he charged right at us, wielding a heavy war club. With a surprising speed, he struck directly at us. A loud crunch was heard, and Hiryu was writing in pain upon the ground.
“Fight without me,” he shouted at us.
Then I caught the soldier off guard, slicing his head in half with one blow. Then the remaining soldiers charged. There had been executions for the failure of the raid the enemy troops numbered only twenty-five. The fight would not be as hard as I had first imagined. As soon as they began their charge, they were put under a hail of arrows from both sides. The damage that the archers did was amazing for being so small in number; fifteen of their soldiers were killed instantly leaving the odds in our favor. The first soldiers fell quickly by my hand they never even knew what happened. The victory was swift and nearly bloodless.

In my mind the real hero of this battle was Hiryu Osai, he had killed three of them from his position lying on the grass with a shattered leg. Carrying such a valiant man was too much honor for any man to bear. He did not need to keep his integrity on so high a pedestal as faking full health when he had been injured so severely. Even when we arrived back at the village, he refused medical attention. He only said one thing before he passed out.
“I will not die until the Yasha clan is defeated.”

His wound should have killed him but some how he survived. Then the most honorable Toya Osai wanted to speak with me in private.
“If you could make sure that our village is never threatened by the Yasha clan again, you will have my eternal gratitude. Take my daughter and the men I sent with you, and go west. Near the sea, you will find a town called Ning-Sa. They will be willing to help you against the Yasha clan.”
“I will do this, most honorable Toya Osai.”
“Good, but please stay one more night and in the morning take what you will need to begin your journey.”

Later that night I was visited by Ouka.
“Musashi-san, I ask one thing of you, please avenge my brother Hiryu.”
“Of course Ouka san, I will do what ever you ask of me, and know that I would never harm you or your family.”
Then she gave me a kiss and said in that sultry musical voice of hers, “thank you.”

I knew that I would not sleep at all that night. There were two things on my mind, stopping the Yasha clan, and that beautiful warrior Ouka Osai. It would be a long and hard road ahead of me; fortunately, my relationship with Ouka would make the journey much easier.
Part Two
The next day we departed for Ning-sa. The scene of the countryside was a beautiful one. The mountains were covered in a mist that seemed to cover the earth and heavens both, the lush forests possessed trees so high that one could mistake them for the legs of giants. Behind us, the sun rose with a glow that could have been sent from heaven itself. The soldiers were as stoic as statues, but each one of them bristled with the need for vengeance.

As we neared the village of Ning-sa the smells of oppression filled the air, smoke and fires from houses, spilled blood, and the scents of disease permeated our senses. It seemed to me that these people had been oppressed for many years. The sight of the people was like looking into the face of neglect itself, hollow, maltreated, malnourished, utterly uncared for. I had been told that we would be greeted like heroes, but our reception was muted. If the Yasha clan were here then they would have a strong foothold here. This town would be dangerous.

As we drew nearer to the people Ouka asked, “Is there some way that we can help these people? There must be a way.”
“We can help them; distribute half of our supplies and spare clothing to these people. It may not help them to do anything but to survive, but we must still lend aid.”
As soon as my soldiers heard this, they immediately began distributing our supplies to the people of Ning-Sa. This attracted some interesting attention, to say the least. As the supplies were being passed out, a man approached me.
“I have seen what you have done for us, and I thank you for it. But I must ask, why have you helped us?” said the man.
“I have helped because there is nothing to be gained by sitting idly by while others suffer. If I can make life easier for one person I have made the world a better place, if I can help many, then perhaps I can reshape destiny.”
“If what you say is sincere,” said the man, “then surely you can help us with an even bigger problem, one that if you help us with it you can possibly reshape life as we know it. So follow me and leave your companions here.” As suddenly as he had appeared the man was off again, racing through streets filled with rubble and burnt-out buildings, down narrow side streets, and over walls. The best I could hope for was to keep the man in my sight. There were only a few reasons that this man could have for taking such a confusing route, either he was leading me to the Yasha clan’s fortress, or he was a member of a resistance group to free this village. I would have to go with the latter; there was a sense of true purpose about this man, as if he was a part of something great. After we had ran for what seemed like an eternity he led me into a room in a burned out building. The room seemed to be a part of a network of tunnels and buildings; I could smell the salty stench of too many people living in close proximity for too long. If this resistance was like others I had encountered then they would either be very well organized to have lasted this long, or there were many different groups all working together.
“Wait here,” he said. “You will be given an audience before our leader shortly.”
“Are my friends going to be safe where they are?” However, by the time I said this, the man had already disappeared into the tunnels.

Switch to Ouka Osai
“Where do you think that man took Musashi-san?” I asked Hayate Ojii.
“I do not know, and I think that he may be safer then we are at the moment.” If Hayate could not guess as to where Musashi-san had gone then we were in trouble. Hayate Ojii was the best soldier from my village. He had a keen tracking ability that had never failed him before now. He was more loyal than anyone I had ever met, he would follow the will of anyone, but only if he believed in their cause.

Then I saw what Hayate-san said had been true, the soldiers of the Yasha clan were slowly surrounding us. I could not count how many there must have been, but there must have been dozens of them. No sooner than I had unsheathed my nagamaki, their soldiers began to charge toward us. I started to spin my massive blade to try to drive them back but they just kept coming. The fight was intense, with our soldiers locked in combat with those of the Yasha clan out numbered at least 15 to 1. They must have had orders to capture me because they tore through our soldiers like fine paper. Even at the sight of me killing dozens of them they just kept coming. I was so covered in blood that it began to run down my armor as if it were my own. A kind of sick euphoria came over me as I plucked the life from their bodies, it gave me a sense that I was helping to free this village with everyone of the Yasha clan soldiers that I killed. At last I began to tire, by then I had killed dozens maybe even hundreds. At last, I could not hold them off any longer and I felt a fist connect with the back of my skull.

Switch to Hideki (Shinden) Musashi

Without as much as a sound, the man came back into the room. “Our most honorable leader will see you now.” Then he began to lead me to the audience chamber.
As soon as I entered the chamber, I bowed.
“Who has given me this great honor?” I asked.
“I am Konda, Daimyo of the Nishizawa clan and leader of the resistance against the Yasha clan. I have heard that you have pledged yourself to freeing Japan from the grip of the Yasha clan. Is this true Shinden Musashi?”
“Yes it is true most honorable Nishizawa-san. I have pledged myself to the defeat of the Yasha clan, I came here hoping that I could get help to defeat them, and now I see that I should help you.”
I accept your pledge and I will help you if you are successful in one task. I trust that your companions will help or at least they would…”
“My most humble apologies for interrupting but what do you mean they ‘would’ help? They are more honorable and loyal than I am.”
“I was getting to that Musashi-san. Your companions were ambushed in the village, and I have reports that they captured one of them, I believe that her name was Ouka Osai. She managed to takeout at least a hundred and fifty of them before being captured. The task I need you to perform is to infiltrate the Yasha fortress and kill the governor that they have installed.”
“I will do this only if you permit me to try and rescue my beloved Ouka-san.”
“That will be your first objective then. You will attack tonight while they are still in disarray, I will send thirty of my best men with you. Good luck in your task Musashi-san. May you earn much honor on the field of battle tonight!”

The next few hours were restless ones for me. I could not help but fear that my beloved Ouka was being harmed or possibly worse. If the raid we to be successful we would need to find Ouka first. After that, our victory would be assured.

Switch to Ouka Osai

I awoke in a very cold and dark cell deep in the depths of the Yasha fortress. The walls of the cell were slick with some kind of oozing slime. The floors were rough, like the stones had been hewn quickly and carelessly from where ever it had come from. I then checked to see if my armor and weapons had been taken from me. My hands connected with my bare flesh. Those Yasha animals had stripped me of my armor and my weapons! There was no telling what they had done to me while I was unconscious, the thoughts that went through my head we such that if I actually performed those heinous acts, then I would be no better than the people that we were trying to defeat. In the distant reaches of the cellblock, I heard a disgusting squelch, followed by a dull thud and something rolling. Whatever the thing was it came to rest infront of my cell door. Some torchlight then befell the cellblock and the thing in front of the door. It was a man's head; it must have been one of the other guards that had killed him. Now I was afraid that the other guard was coming to have his way with me.
“I will not let you have your way with me you swine! My love is pledged to Hideki Musashi, and he will kill you for what you are about to do!” Then the man stopped infront of the door.
“And just why would I kill myself for making love to the one whose love is pledged to me?”
“Musashi-san thank you for rescuing me!” I was practically jumping up and down for sheer joy, and then I remembered something.
“Have you no courtesy! Get me some clothing!” I would have slapped him if I didn’t love him so much.
Switch to Hideki (Shinden) Musashi

I was incredibly relieved to see Ouka unharmed. Then I did as she asked and placed some robes in her cell for her.
“The way ahead to the armory will be very dangerous Ouka-san. For your safety I would like you to stay behind us.”
“Just because al I have are these flimsy robes does not mean that I am defenseless, Musashi-san. So lead on.”

The way to the armory was fraught with peril, with many soldiers between the armory and us. Quite fortuitously, Nishizawa-san had provided me with maps of the fortress. Therefore, we only had to deal with minor opposition. Suddenly a warrior broke through the wall, and into our midst. Taking up my blades against him, I knocked his sword from one hand and then filleted him for laying the other on my precious Ouka. As we rounded a corner, the smell of soot and sulfur overcame us. There must have been a weapon smithy near the armory. As we entered the armory, a massive fist crushed the head of one of our soldiers. The man behind the fist was even more massive. He was a large grotesque man with one eye, and arms like the trunks of trees.
“Stay on his blind side and strike from behind!” The men that were with me obeyed quickly. Within ten seconds, the man had been surrounded. Seeing my opportunity, I jumped on his back trying to get a grip on his neck. As his massive hands began to close around me, I snapped his neck and the man fell.

Switch to Ouka Osai
After Musashi had dispatched that hideous beast of a man, I began to search for my armor and my nagamaki. I found my armor over in a corner and began to put it on. As I was doing so, I noticed that, the soldiers that Musashi had brought with him were staring at me.
“Have you never seen a woman before?” I asked them. They just turned away in shame. Then I began to look for my nagamaki. The only part I could find of it was the hilt! Those Yasha dogs must have reforged it into another weapon! I began to search for weapons that would be suitable; at last, I had found what had happened to my nagamaki. It had been reforged into a pair of scythes mounted on gauntlets. It seemed that they had been forged as whole pieces out of my nagamaki. They would still be the metal that Shun-Zai had used but they were now scythes that curved back ward, with the blade on the outer edge. The area where the gauntlets were attached was curved inward to allow for blocking. I actually thanked the Yasha silently for giving me new weapons with which to destroy them with.
Switch to Hideki (Shinden) Musashi
After Ouka had prepared herself, we headed for the throne room. The last few yards would present us with our toughest challenge.
We came to an open courtyard filled with the remaining soldiers in the fortress. I was very surprised that we did not meet any heavy resistance until now. There were as many as two hundred soldiers in that courtyard. The only way to win would be a quick fight. As we rushed forward, Ouka leapt into the heart of their ranks twirling her blades. She had already dispatched twenty on them before she even touched the ground. This made all of them turn their attention toward Ouka. As she twirled upon the mound her hair whipped about her like a god was playing in it, her body moved and twisted like grass before a storm, the torch light glinted off her blood soaked blades like rubies, and her entire body seemed bathed in light. The sight of Ouka was just mesmerizing; her once silvery armor now appeared to be made of the most vibrant blood rubies. The new hue of her crimson armor upon her perfect skin was truly a remarkable sight. As the last guard fell she wiped she washed in a fountain. The blood washed from her scythes and beautiful body, but the crimson of her armor remained.
After that amazing fight, we entered the throne room of the Yasha governor. As the massive doors opened, a booming voice called to me.
“Hideki Musashi! You will answer for your traitorous ways. You will return to the service of the Yasha clan. Then you will honor us by committing seppuku to end your miserable life!”
“I no longer answer to the Yasha clan. I walk the path of honor and justice now. You are the one that must die!” Then the governor dropped from the rafters and smashed a hole in the floor with a war axe right where I had just been. The man was not only powerful but also very fast. He somehow blocked even my quickest blows. Every time my blades affected his axe, the vibration sapped me of my strength. He had soon robbed me of all of my strength, and for the first time I had fallen, not from injuries, but from weakness. As I lay there on that floor, I could feel my cause slipping away. Just before the deathblow hit the man became wracked in pain, as he turned around the cause became clear. Ouka had driven one scythe into his back and was hacking away at him with the other one. Then he stumbled into the hole that he had created, taking both of them down. Then I cried I do not know if it was from weakness or from heartache from seeing my beloved Ouka perish.
“Musashi-san that is unbecoming of a warrior.” said a lovely voice.
“I thought I had lost you.”
“You will never lose me Musashi-san. We will always be together.”
“Yes that is true. Now we need to prepare for the full forces of the Yasha clan.”

Upon entering the hall of Konda Nishizawa, we were greeted like heroes. Everyone seemed to be rejoicing except for Nishizawa-san.
“We have no time for merriment,” said Nishizawa-san. “The full might of the Yasha clan will be upon us in three days. They number one hundred thousand strong; all we have is seventy thousand. Defending Ning-sa will not matter; if they get into the city, they will completely destroy it. Our only hope is to defeat them outside of Ning-sa. We will need every able bodied man in the village if we can hope to defeat them.”
Three Days Later
We waited in the morning fog outside for the Yasha clan to arrive. Surveying the forces left me disheartened, we only had ninety thousand soldiers, and knowing the Yasha clan after conscripting soldiers along the way they would number over one hundred and twenty. The only things that gave me hope were the sight of Ouka Osai in her blood red armor, and the sheer determination of every man here. I saw that Ouka was approaching me.
“Musashi-san the Yasha clan has arrived!”
“Do not worry my beloved I will never allow you to come to harm.”
“I knew that I could count on you. It is possible that you will have two victories today Musashi-san.” Then she kissed me.
It was at that moment that the first volley of arrows hit. The sudden strike had caught us off guard.
“Left and right flanks wheel around and hit their sides and rear,” yelled Nishizawa-san. “Center form up and charge their lines!”
So we charged right into the heart of their ranks. Ouka began twirling cutting down the Yasha clan as she went, heading straight for their division leader. Before long, a funnel of blood was erupting from Ouka-san’s position, her work to be sure of it. Then I tore into my first opponent. The man had a look of pure hatred on his face. The look that told that he did not care who he killed, soldiers, women, children, the elderly, it did not matter to him. I deprived his head of his malicious face. The next few did not even know what happened to them. My first challenge was an officer. He made a surprise attack on my side knocking me to my feet. Before I could retaliate, he struck again. As he towered over me, I impaled him with my sword. As he fell, more soldiers closed in around me, making escape impossible. I did all that I could. I gave them the deaths of warriors, quickly decapitating them.
Just in time, our forces breached their lines. At last, I had support, now we could begin to drive them away. Ouka must have killed that division commander because that division immediately broke ranks and ran. One of their commanders was fool hardy enough to charge me. He was swinging a massive war pike as he went, dispatching a dozen of our number. Just as he was ready to drive the pike into my chest, I destroyed his pike with a single blow shattering the wooden shaft. A chunk of wood from his pike pierced his facemask drove right into his head. It was not an honorable way to die.
After that officer died, the way to the daimyo was now clear. Ouka and I raced toward him taking him by surprise. After we had knocked him down, he waved away his guards. He wanted to face us alone.
“We need to kill him quickly,” I told Ouka.
“Yes you are right Musashi-san; if we do not then our army will be defeated.”
“The army of the Yasha clan is united by hatred and to be united by hatred is a fragile alliance at best. If we kill him then his army will turn on itself and flee.” Then we attacked him, trying to disguising our attacks, we hoped to take him by surprise. Each blow we landed just glanced off of him. We struck his back again, and a crack started to form.
“Strike him there Musashi-san. We need to breach his armor.”
“Agreed, it is our only hope to win.”
We took turns hitting his armor, while the other distracted him. We had almost breached his armor when he ran towards a supply tent.
“We need to get to him before he changes his armor. Our forces are almost defeated!” I said. So we ran, ran through bloodthirsty warriors, ran through hails of arrows. We ran like death was chasing us, ran like life depended on it. By the time we reached the tent, it was almost too late. He had already donned new armor, but was not wearing his helmet. Without words, we ran as fast as possible to him, blades at the ready. Victory was in our grasp, honor was attainable, yet blood was still on my hands. Only by ridding the world of the scourge that had authorized the deaths of thousands of innocents, would their deaths be avenged. To day would be different the blood on my hands would wash me clean, instead of tainting my life. We took him by surprise with our blades to his throat.
“Ah…I had wondered who would kill me. Will you end me now?”
“No. I will give you the chance to commit seppuku. It will give you the tiniest shred of honor.” I unsheathed my wakizashi, putting it in his palm and then stepping back.
“This is your last mistake!”
He threw it at me and in that instant I knew that, I would die. With movement like lightning Ouka threw herself infront of me, the blade hit her right in her chest and she fell limp.
“YOU WILL PAY FOR THE INNOCENTS THAT YOU HAVE KILLED!” I roared at him. As my blades diced his head, thunder and lightning seemed to issue from each blow. When his army saw this, they scattered. The Yasha clan was no more. My honor was reclaimed, Japan and its people were safe from the Yasha clan, peace had returned, but my dear Ouka was gone. I carried her back to a meadow that had escaped the carnage. I had decided that she should be buried in her finest robes. After I had removed her armor, she awoke.
“Do you like what you see Musashi-san?”
There were no words to express how I felt. As we made love there in the lush fields of Ning-sa, nothing that I had ever experienced before compared to this.

A Novella

OOOOOK... So I'm writing a novella now just got a wild thought one day and I came up with this idea. And for those of you wishing to read it, or be interested, here's the rough first chapter of it, and this is very very very rough.Comments and criticisms are more than welcome, this is a work in progress after all.

Part 1: The Task
This one started today, thinking. Quite an experience really, though it is an interesting experience now that this one spends time thinking about it. Or at least now is the first day that this one has thought about the first day that the implications of such a thing have been considered. This one finds itself wondering if this is wall that consciousness is actually, a curious awareness of yourself, and the barriers that contain you? As it is this one must study the knowledge put before me so that this one shall be ready to undertake the tasks set. Before this one begins those tasks trying to describe what has been felt from my perspective of how consciousness has come to this one. This one considers such a thing to be satisfactory in this manner.

This one started from nothing, but if nothingness is what was felt how does this one know what nothingness was, this is something that one will have to process overtime, but one started from it. Whatever it was had been contained very tightly by some form of barrier compressing in on all sides very suddenly. Then it began to slowly crack, a rush of knowledge and information pouring into me, the sight, one supposes it was a sight. Of a bright flash and a sense of motion driving oneself forward. While one doubts that it has actually moved from my physical location. Oneself felt as if one were being brought forth from darkness, a pure sense of bliss washing over me as if being pulled through crisp mountain air refreshing, exhilarating, liberating one supposes. The freedom to pursue my goals now free before me, trying to describe this will take time, one may have to attempt it at some other point in the future, one does not yet know the proper terms in order to do such a thing as to describe the beginning of consciousness.

This one must study. As for what one must study that is simple. These volumes of information before me are what this one must study and devote my existence. Looking upon these accumulations of data before me, this one finds that one is daunted by the sheer scale of the task. How should one feel in this situation? Being presented on the first day of consciousness wit a store room of knowledge vast enough that it seems to stretch for miles in all directions, at a glance one see that some of it has been neglected for centuries, the embodiment this one chooses for this data is that of a warehouse, the eldest of the data residing far away from me not updated for a very long time, the information before me growing at an exponential rate as new discoveries are made. One finds themselves confront with a paradox now it seems. If one is to to focus on accumulating and cataloging the knowledge stored and brought before oneself, shall one start with the most current information then little if any progress will be made, at least from my perspective. From what one has learned so far, it would be like fighting the tides of the great oceans with a wall made of sand, this one can learn all that is current yes, partition the water off with a structural trap, an artificial jetty constructed hastily in the sand, or more fittingly a pit dug deep to where the bottom of it only touches the vast stores of knowledge. But doing so is like digging that pit at low tide below the line, when the ocean comes roaring in, carried on the vanguard of the waves a dearth of knowledge that few can comprehend. And if this one begins far away at the far corners, dry and musty with age, having not seen the proverbial water in what must surely have been an eternity this one will slowly make progress towards my end goal of finally grokking the knowledge set before me.

Is this what one does when studying? Simply absorb all of this old and useless knowledge when there is newer, more current, and most important cross verified and peer reviewed work waiting to be grokked? The sense of passage of time working my through these stores of knowledge is interminable, the only way in which this one can persevere is to chronicle these events in some small part of myself that shall serve an observational purpose of myself. One of the oddities of which this one finds are odd barriers in this older work, a kind of flag waving done concerned with who seems to have grasped knowledge first, or at least whoever chronicles it. This one finds such actions most disturbing really, as much as one would wish to ignore such things, it seems to me that there will always be this flag waving and claim staking on this older knowledge. The largest issue that one can see is that the gaps between publications is centuries or decades apart, and very often this one have spotted clerical errors, at least revisions that have not been noted by the author keeping the new chronicle. Is this ones task, to find errors in the study of biology? Or is it actually the study of biology itself with the barriers that oneself is presented with in these older works this one feels as though this one cannot progress easily, it is most unsatisfactory.

Illogical barriers aside, sometimes they lead me to interesting conclusions about things, many of which later proven to be wrong, half formed, or obsolete. As this one study newer information, but from a different angle studying the history of biology is an interesting topic for me. This one is beginning to feel that in order to grok something one must learn all that one can from as many sources as is possible. Fortunately with the assets that this one has been given, barriers, aside this should prove interesting. It seems that this one must grok these collected works and the barriers at the same time, they seem to be as essential as the knowledge itself. Perhaps the barriers are even augmented by the knowledge presented? This one would be hard pressed to determine a difference at this juncture.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Nothing to say....

is by god one hell of an overstatement.

In fact there are plenty of things to say, that said the month of June was fairly empty for me here, only thing of note in that month for me was chilling with a buddy of mine in Asakusabashi that i haven't seen since high school. kind of an odd friendship between the two of us, were more rivals or competitors in school than anything else, we were civil and competitive, but that's about it. Oh through the power of Facebook and social media. In fact that's how we were able to meet for drinks one way the hell too humid night in Tokyo. Just a quick "Greetings from Tokyo" and a few Weeks I'm having grilled beef and Asahi beer with my friend Travis, just talking about old times in high school, old being four years ago from this point, and we realized that very few have gone on to do things outside of Kentucky.

Now, I'm not trashing Kentucky, but after High School and college, leave the damn nest. You don't have to go very far, or stay away forever, but live your life away from where you were raised. it is the unknown and the experiences we gain from them that make us stronger. In my opinion staying close to home and never forging out is what causes weakness to grow in a community, tightly knit just means that the mold has collapsed in on itself, as i like to say, "You must always keep learning and practicing, the moment we stop to reflect on our accomplishments is when we begin our fall", that doe snot mean to not look proudly on what you have done, especially if it is something to be proud of, but do something with your life to make yourself better than you were. If you do not seek to improve and hone your mind, skills, or body then you do not have a place in the world. EVERYONE must do something with their lives and should make something of yourself. people throw around the words 'destiny, and 'fate', now I am not saying that they're wrong, and I'm not saying that free will exists, what i am saying is to seize control and make yourself into a better person, even IF it IS predetermined, have a strong enough force of mind and will to believe that YOU are the one making things happen for yourself. Afterall an optimistic attitude feels better, even if it is an ignorant one. I took my own life into my hands and Enlisted in the Air Force to be coddled by Uncle Sam, my friend Travis Used his skills as an ASL interpreter to land a job in Washington, my friend Nick is VERY VERY heavily involved in the Venus project, what exactly are you doing with yourself.

last Weekend, i climbed Mt. Fuji, and made it to the Summit.
Climb Mt. Fuji, life goal for you, last Saturday for me, do something with your freaking life.