Chapter 34 – Taken
by lemuel moo
In Eretz, an average person would have two types of energy within him. “阳”, otherwise known as [Solar Energy], and “阴”, otherwise known as [Lunar Energy]. [Solar Energy] typifies vitality and strength while [Lunar Energy] typifies power from the netherworld.
At age ten, Gale created the [Fire Cloud Fist] based on his [Solar Energy], and his [Soul-breaker Snow Palm] on his [Lunar Energy]. His [Fire Cloud Fist] focused on simplicity and brute attacks while his [Soul-breaker Snow Palm] concentrated on precision and style.
Gale realized that both of his techniques had its shortfalls. The [Fire Cloud Fist] was mighty, but it lacked finesse. Unless Gale was stronger than his enemy, his [Fire Cloud Fist] would be ineffective.
The [Soul-breaker Snow Palm] was intricate and was able to exploit weaknesses of the enemy to ensure victory. However, it lacked the edge to puncture stout defenses when needed.
As a result, Gale used both skills interchangeably. One of his arms would glow like a sapphire while the other a ruby. If he needed brute strength, his [Fire Cloud Fist] would plummet and crush the opponent. If he needed to exploit weaknesses, his [Soul-breaker Snow Palm] would target acupuncture points, internal organs, weak spots and joints to ensure victory.
However, Gale was unsatisfied with his creations. When he dueled against Aunt May during training, Aunt May would target his techniques’ weaknesses efficiently, and Gale had trouble switching his techniques at the right time. That piqued his desire to create a new technique to counteract his shortcomings.
Gale melded his [Solar Energy] and [Lunar Energy] into one composite energy. With that composite energy, his [qi] expanded and became much denser by astronomical proportions. It wasn’t an easy feat. Elite veterans wouldn’t risk melding both energies into one because it could rupture their energy channels and kill them. Or it could render them as invalids if they survived.
However, Gale successfully melded both his [Solar Energy] and [Lunar Energy] into one and crafted an entirely new set of techniques to match his newly acquired power. Thus, the [Snow and Cloud Palms] was born. He was still ten-years-old when he created the [Snow and Cloud Palms], and Aunt May marveled at his growth.
The [Silver Needle Training] prevented Gale from using his [Fire Cloud Fist], [Soul-breaker Snow Palms], [Snow and Cloud Palms] unless Aunt May supercharged his body with power. Gale could only use his techniques effectively when two silver needles which were embedded within his forearms were removed.
Gale’s fiery aura around his arms transformed into a dense dark mist. It was similar to the dark shroud before, but it was much thicker. Bernachar instinctively knew that Gale’s punch was going to be much heavier because of the density of the latter’s aura.
“I never thought someone could match my [Bronze Beast Technique] in brute strength,” Bernachar said.
“You’re just a frog in a well,” Gale quipped. “Many others can match your level of strength.”
Hordes of the lynchpins’ henchmen surrounded and pressed Zeel and his biker gang from all sides. Gale inhaled profoundly and turned towards the henchmen in a flash. He unleashed his [Overwhelming Waves] from his [Snow and Cloud Palms] where a substantial black energy wave emitted out of his palms and floods of black pillars exploded from the ground up towards the henchmen.
In an instant, over one thousand henchmen died as Gale’s energy wave ruptured their bodies. However, the silver needles were pressing against his other energy channels, and Gale bled from the corner of his mouth.
Bernachar realized that Gale was hurting himself with his techniques and rushed forward to attack. As Bernachar swung a left hook, Gale’s hands were enveloped in a dark aura, and the latter unleashed his [Flowing Water Palm]. Gale deflected and redirected Bernachar’s punch back to his chest with the back of his left palm, and Bernachar spewed blood from his mouth!
Not wanting to give Bernachar any breathing space, Gale immediately targeted Bernachar’s acupuncture point on his neck and punched at it. Unlike his [Fire Cloud Fist] which had a large surface area, Gale’s [Snow and Cloud Palms] focused on a single point on his fist and knocked Bernachar back! Bernachar lost consciousness for a moment because of the impact and Gale drove another [Snow and Cloud Palm] at the Bernachar’s abdominals!
Each strike was stronger than Gale’s [Fire Cloud Fist], and the attacks concentrated on a single point! Gale’s [Snow and Cloud Palms] was more formidable than his combined [Fire Cloud Fist] and [Soul-breaker Snow Palms], and Bernachar flew a hundred feet back!
Shamir and Herodias were stunned as they saw how Gale inflicted damage on Bernachar’s bronze body! Shamir tried to shoot an energy ball towards Gale, but this time Sunny shot her dagger into the energy ball and neutralized the threat.
“Not so fast. You’ll have to get past me first!” Sunny quipped.
“Cheeky girl. I’ll teach you to interfere with me!”
Shamir started to shoot multiple energy balls from her palms and Sunny used Zeel’s electrified chains to deflect them. As Sunny received a portion of Zeel’s power, she could generate electricity on her own momentarily using her own [qi]. Together with her [Steel Maiden Technique]’s hardening and magnetic forces, her electrified chain attacks were lightning-fast.
However, when Sunny’s chains neutralized the energy balls, they exploded into shockwaves which aimed to cause internal injuries at the opponent. Sunny felt stinging pains from the shockwaves, but her [Steel Maiden Technique] protected her internal organs.
Shamir laughed. “Haha! So what if you could deflect my attacks! I can still injure you — “
A black energy fist rammed into Shamir’s face, and she crashed into a nearby building. Gale punched Shamir from a distance and Herodias immediately got into a defensive stance.
“What is that technique?!” Herodias yelled. “You’ve never used it until now!”
“And why do you care?” Gale replied.
Bernachar picked himself up and dashed towards Gale to grab him. However, Gale swiftly knocked Bernachar’s arm joints with his wrists and unleashed his [Overwhelming Waves] on his torso!
Bernachar refused to budge and stood his ground, but fresh blood flowed out of his mouth as Gale’s strike punctured his defense. He counterattacked with his right knee, and Gale leaned backward to dodge. With a swing of his right leg, Gale’s feet landed on Bernachar’s face, and the latter was thrown off-balanced and fell onto the ground.
Gale did a backflip to recover his posture and rushed forward to grab Bernachar’s neck. However, Gale’s hand stopped an inch away from his target.
Zeel and Sunny were surprised that Gale suddenly stopped and wondered what was wrong.
“… You’ve caught Reynard, didn’t you?” Gale asked.
Herodias smirked and replied. “Have you sensed your friend? That’s pretty impressive!
Too bad for you, he’s my slave now.”
Gale’s killing aura picked up a familiar presence nearby. He could detect the shapes of people if his aura could reach them, and he immediately knew Reynard was in the vicinity when he recognized his form.
Herodias snapped her fingers, and from a distance, Reynard emerged from a door!
“G-Gale! H-Help! I-I can’t seem to control my limbs at will!”
Gale immediately knew that Herodias was a psychic user and she was using [Mind Control]. Reynard helplessly walked towards Herodias, and Reynard struggled with all his might, but he couldn’t break free.
Zeel and Sunny were horrified that their friend was caught, and the biker gang didn’t dare to move a muscle.
Shamir picked herself up and walked towards Herodias. “Oh, you unwrapped the present already? How boring. Can’t you wait until they are sure of their escape?”
“We can’t keep toying them,“ Herodias replied. “The sun is setting, and we’re out of time.”
Shamir sighed and asked Gale, “so what do you think you should do now?”
Gale increased his killing aura’s density. “Annihilate all of you. I’ve over two hundred souls fighting for me this very moment, and you think I will be threatened to give up two hundred souls?!”
Shamir clapped her hands twice and replied, “how about this?”
Immediately, the henchmen and the assassins started retreating. The henchmen quickly picked up their dead or injured comrades and left the vicinity in a rush. Only Serban, Shamir and Herodias were left.
“It’s no longer two hundred souls versus one, isn’t it? Even if we only take Reynard back with us, it’s still our win. The rest of you are free to leave.
So what will you do now?”
Gale clenched his fists in frustration until he bled. Gale didn’t have a way to protect Reynard, and Herodias seemed prepared for surprises.
“I can still sense many of you are lingering around here. All of you must leave City Plaza.”
Herodias nodded and dialed a few numbers on her mobile phone. In a few moments, every other assassin disappeared from City Plaza except for Serban, Shamir, and Herodias.
“You can use your aura to detect enemies, isn’t it Gale? Check if we’re all out of City Plaza.”
Indeed, even the henchmen that were sieging City Plaza left, and the assassins on top of the skyscraper disappeared. The bikers thought it was an excellent opportunity and rushed forward to save Reynard, but Gale punched the ground in front of them with his [Fire Cloud Fist] and forced them to stop.
“Herodias may be able to strangle Reynard with her psychic powers, so don’t act rashly.”
Everyone froze, and then Gale asked Herodias a question. “How do I make sure Reynard is freed from your powers if I submit to you?”
Immediately, Zeel and Sunny ran forward to pull Gale back. “No!” Reynard saw Gale’s willingness to sacrifice himself for him, and tears streamed down his cheeks. “Just fight and don’t mind me! Don’t do it!”
Serban took out a pill from his breast pocket and tossed it to Gale.
“Eat it, and Herodias will immediately release Reynard.”
Without hesitation, Gale tossed the pill into his mouth, much to the Zackloft siblings’ dismay!
“Why you — spit it out! Gale, c’mon!”
Gale swallowed the pill, and the assassins knew they won. Herodias released Reynard from her psychic powers, and the latter collapsed on the floor.
“G-Gale! W-What d-did you do?!” Reynard whimpered.
Zeel and Sunny lunged forward to attack the assassins, but Shamir stretched her right hand out and erected an invisible barrier to repel them. Zeel and Sunny crashed into the barrier but was unable to penetrate through.
Looking at Gale, Serban said. “You’ve swallowed poison which cannot be expelled by energy. Besides, it’s also a precursor to Herodias’ powers. Watch!”
Herodias lifted her hands and focused, and Gale’s right arm rose! Sunny was an arm’s length away from Gale, and Gale suddenly slapped Sunny! Sunny was bewildered by Gale’s actions, but the latter could only muster an apology.
“You will come with us, Gale,” Serban said. “But not before you wipe the floor with your friends’ blood!”
Herodias exerted her psychic powers and tried to force Gale into attacking the Zackloft siblings, but Gale stood and held his ground. Serban didn’t understand why Gale didn’t move, so he yelled. “What are you doing?! Didn’t we agree to use Gale with your powers?”
“I’m trying, but Gale is resisting!”
Psychic powers were all about mental fortitude. Gale’s killing aura was honed through countless battles, and his mental strength surpassed a thousand men. Herodias wasn’t a strong psychic user since she needed a pill as a catalyst to force her powers on her opponent.
In a flash, a hand impaled Herodias’ back and Gale crushed her heart in an instant. It was Gale’s [To Fish In Troubled Waters] technique from his [Snow and Cloud Palms], and it was designed to take advantage of lapses of an enemy. Gale dissipated into a black mist and appeared behind Herodias for the lethal attack.
“Fool. This is for forcing me to slap Sunny.”
However, Gale vomited a pool of black blood. The poison pill took effect immediately because of his exertion and Gale immediately collapsed. Serban and Shamir realized their trump card was dead. Hence, Serban rushed to Gale, carried him on his shoulder and fled with Shamir.
Sunny and Zeel gave chase instantly. Sunny unleashed her [Steel Maiden Technique], and all metal weapons in one mile’s radius obeyed Sunny at her will. She immediately sent a barrage of threats to block the assassins’ path, but Shamir blasted the blockage away with her energy.
To quicken his speed, Serban poisoned himself with his venom, and his movements became twice as fast. Zeel cloaked his body with electricity and matched Serban’s pace, but Shamir blocked Zeel’s path.
“GET OUT OF THE WAY!” Zeel yelled.
“Make me,” Shamir replied.
Suddenly, Shamir created multiple after-images of herself with energy and blocked Zeel’s view. Zeel sent more chains after Serban, but Shamir’s after-images deflected his attacks.
With all her strength, Sunny used her electromagnetic powers and sent a tsunami of Zeel’s electrified chains towards Shamir. Their [Zackloft Rail Gun] was ten times faster than lightning, and it obliterated all the after-images in one shot! All Shamir could do was to erect an invisible energy barrier around her, and the tsunami of electrified chains crashed into her. Her energy barrier exploded, and she crashed into several buildings as a result.
Picking herself up from debris, Serban remarked. “These Zackloft siblings! If they work together, their powers are unimaginable!”
Unfortunately, Sunny and Zeel lost sight of Serban and Gale. They quickly looked for Shamir, but the latter escaped, and Sunny slumped to her knees in tears. Her last vision of Gale was him vomiting a pool of black blood, and she was immensely worried for him.
Zeel had tears in his eyes too, but he picked Sunny off the ground.
“This is not over yet, Sunny. We’ll definitely bring Gale back!”
Clere tried calling Reynard numerous times on her way back to Agatha, but she was only greeted with a dead tone.
Frustrated at Reynard’s lack of response, Clere yelled into her phone. “Pick up, Reynard! Where are you?!”
As Clere was reaching her house, an arrow whistled into the sky and exploded into a shape of a phoenix. The sun had set and the night sky glittered with light. Clere instantly remembered Agatha’s words to Athena. “If you see the Phoenix Arrow, cease your operation and return to me.”
“Is this already over?!”
Shortly after, Clere reached her house and found her mother standing in front of the porch.
“Mom! I can’t contact Reynard! Do you have any leads while I was making my way — “
Agatha was strangely silent, and Clere realized something had gone wrong.
“Mom..? What happened? Talk to me!”
“Gale was caught by the lynchpins. We didn’t make it in time.”
“W-What?!” Clere stuttered.
“Zeel and Sunny came back after the City Plaza battle. In exchange for Reynard’s safety, Gale took a poison pill. He subsequently took out one of the elite assassins, but he vomited blood and passed out. The enemy took Gale and fled, and the siblings couldn’t catch up to them.”
Tears formed at the corner of Clere’s eyes, and Clere cried uncontrollably. She held Agatha on her shoulders.
“Mom! W-We’ve got to do something! I have so much I didn’t manage to tell Gale! I-I..”
“Our agents are looking for possible locations where Gale might be kept, so we’ve to wait till then.”
“Wait?! That’s what I have been doing all day!”
Clere ran out of her mother’s presence, and Agatha knew Clere needed some time alone.
Clere found a nearby park, and she lost herself in her sorrow. Memories of Gale flooded her mind, and she wept as she reminisced the moments where they laughed and trained together.
Clere couldn’t believe that Gale was captured. He was mighty and unstoppable. However, his kindness was sometimes his weakness, and Clere’s sorrow was mixed with fury.
At that moment, Kasumi and Valerian came to the park, and Kasumi noticed Clere. 
“Clere?! What’re you doing here? Why’re you crying?!”
Upon seeing Kasumi’s face, Clere bawled and hugged her tightly. Valerian didn’t know who Clere was, but he thought it might be a student, so he stood by quietly.
”I-It’s Gale! He couldn’t escape in time!”
Kasumi froze and thought something tragic happened to Gale. “Tell me more! Is there something I can do?!”
Clere looked up and saw Valerian standing at a corner. She wasn’t comfortable revealing secrets to strangers, so she tried to stop sobbing and calm herself.
”It’s fine. I’m alright now. Nothing much happened.”
Kasumi was anxious for Gale, and she held Clere’s hands tightly, but she realized why Clere was reluctant to explain more and then turned to Valerian.
”There’s no need to send me back. I’m going to accompany her, and we’re neighbors.”
Valerian sensed that he was not needed and bid goodnight before leaving promptly. As Clere held Kasumi’s hands tightly, she said. “Let’s talk in my house. I’m not sure how much Mom would allow me to reveal, so we need to speak with her.”
Kasumi was ashen-faced after hearing Agatha’s report on the City Plaza battle. She was in another part of the city with Valerian and struggled to believe how all these could happen in a day.
News of the City Plaza battle gradually made its way to the TV broadcasts. There were few eye-witnesses, and the report only showed the aftermath of the fight without details of what happened. As a result, the general public was outraged at how the battle was handled.
Kasumi then asked Agatha, “when are we going to do a rescue mission?”
“The moment we find out where Gale is. If we do a search mission now, SPAW operatives will use it as a reason to arrest and interrogate us and could scapegoat us for the battle in City Plaza. It’s vital that we collect information before we can act.”
“But Gale may not live till then!” Kasumi protested.
Agatha poured herself a cup of tea and sipped. “I know, Kasumi, but don’t worry. I’m pretty sure we’ll find Gale. Just watch the news.”
Kasumi and Clere had no idea why Agatha had the mood to watch the news. All they saw on TV were news about the City Plaza battle, and how people were upset that the government wasn’t doing their part to ensure safety for the citizens.
Suddenly, there was a breaking news report. A news anchor was on a helicopter, and they began a live broadcast.
“Moments ago, while we were on the helicopter surveying the damages of City Plaza, and explosions occurred fifteen miles from where we were!”
Agatha immediately called Athena and asked, “Athena, did you see that?”
“Mom, I’m already on my way to create an escape route.”
“Okay, I will support you from the war room.”
Kasumi and Clere stared blankly, and Agatha invited the both of them to her war room.
“Didn’t I say we will start our rescue mission once we know where Gale is? Well, the rescue mission has already started so come along now!”
 “阳” is pronounced as “yang”.
 “阴” is pronounced as “yin”.
[Fire Cloud Fist] is derived from [火云拳], or [huǒ yún quán].
[Soul-breaker Snow Palms] is derived from [雪山破魂掌], or [xuě shān pò hún zhǎng].
[Snow and Cloud Palms] is derived from [排雪落云掌], or [pái xuě luò yún zhǎng].
[Overwhelming Waves] is derived from [排山倒海], or [pái shān dǎo hǎi].
[To Fish In Troubled Waters] is derived from [浑水摸鱼], or [hún shuǐ mō yú]. It’s an idiom, “to take advantage of a crisis for personal gain”.
This scene continues from Chapter 29.