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The End of the Circus: A Tale of the Yizibajohei
by Regina Magia
East Jerusalem, the day after the attempted marriage between Tariko Katabarbe and Redet Lum on planet Uru (174 days after the end of the Tag Race), mid-morning...
"Tariko's alright...! Thank goodness!"
The dusky-skinned Israeli with the dirty blonde hair done in a low ponytail to mid-back and the dark hazel eyes, looking to be in her late teens, could only smile in relief. Currently, she was standing in a quiet wood in the eastern Jerusalem neighbourhood of at-Tur, located on the famous Mount of Olives where the Christian Saviour was said to have finally ascended to Heaven. Currently, Naomi bat-Lian was clad in a gold jumpsuit of the halter top pattern preferred by the current Terran-born generation of Yizibajohei, complete with brownish-orange belt and boots and emblazoned with a dark gold sun with a stylized eye insignia in white on her chest above her cleavage. This marked her as the Far-searching Maiden of Light to those who were quick to recognize uniform patterns on the World of the Forge. In Yizibajohei, she would be called Lemdo ("Seeker"); Naomi used the Hebrew translation, Mekhapés, whenever she had to introduce herself to the authorities and didn't want to reveal her birth name.
Gazing at the rising sun ascending over the deserts of neighbouring Jordan, Naomi let out a sigh. It was a good Gift she possessed. The Great Crystal had given her powerful photokinetic abilities, the ability to fly at supersonic speeds and enhanced visual senses similar to Superman's powers, which her battle line often used for exploration and/or search-and-rescue purposes right from the Dawn of Power; her first-self had been the Yizibajohei equivalent of an American Air Force pararescueman who scoured the foreboding woods and endless ice of the planet's southern polar continent to locate stranded travellers.
Like many pretty girls Tariko Katabarbe had met on her travels, Naomi had endured a considerable amount of hardship by the time she met the current incarnation of the Trickster of the Show two years ago. In the case of the native of one of the settlements still standing near Bethlehem in the West Bank, she and her family had been caught in the crossfire of the seemingly never-ending Israeli-Palestinian conflict over who controlled parts of the Holy Land. Her parents had been killed, but she and her sister Rivkah had survived, eventually moving into the western suburbs of Israel's capital city to reside with an aunt. Before that happened, Tariko found them amid the rubble of their house, then easily persuaded them to become Gifted once she got the chance to see them rescued by local security forces.
Currently, Rivkah was only pre-Gifted; Naomi had accepted her Gift a year ago.
At this time, the baker's elder daughter was a member of the Tori Simnie ("Salvation Alliance"), a new battle-group of Terran-born Yizibajohei from all parts of the Middle East who sought out young people their age suffering abuse or enduring other horrible situations to offer the chance to become Gifted and thus be able to realistically defend themselves from the many dangers in the region. Of course, like anyone who knew the most horrible part of Tariko's own pre-Gifting at the hand of her well-meaning yet grieving adopted mother a decade before, Naomi and her peers understood how important it was that the choice be made willingly. Still, given what was happening in Iraq with the recent rise of the "Islamic State" — earning them the terrible ire of the other group of Yizibajohei-type metahumans now active in the region, the Tutoam Kimr'be ("Angels of Darkness"); already, the world's news media were starting to pick up on stories of metahuman girls tearing into the maniacs following Abū Bakr al-Baghdādī, especially after those lunatics beheaded an innocent person and posted the recording of such on the Internet — those the Alliance's members located rarely refused the offer.
Ending the communications link over her Personal Administrative Assistant, she turned back to the two younger children she had been speaking with. "Sorry about that," she apologized.
"What happened?" asked the younger girl currently with her, one just past the cusp of puberty named Maya Barron. Born to a family who lived in Lotan in the Negev Desert near the Jordanian border that had expressed a deep hatred of Muslims dating back to the War of Independence in 1948, the slender yet tomboyish brunette with the hazel eyes befriended her current companion, a raven-haired, dark-eyed Palestinian who was the son of a merchant from nearby Ketura named Malik bin Muḥammad, when they were in primary school. That friendship had done much to help Maya reject her parents' deeply-rooted Islamophobia...even of the elder Barrons would understandably become angry when they found out about her befriending an Arab of all people. When they threatened to contact the authorities to have Malik and his parents taken from Ketura — even when they had been invited to live there by the leaders of that kibbutz! — the pair of children ran away in fear, making their way north into the West Bank and relative "safety". Naomi encountered them when Malik tried to pick her pocket while she was touring the Muslim parts of eastern Jerusalem. One look told her everything she needed to know.
After hearing their story, she made an offer.
"Remember I told you about how I got my Gift and who helped me get it?" she asked. After they nodded, she said, "It turns out Tariko was busy seeking new friends in her old hometown in Japan...but for some really strange reason, she was magically obliviated of all her memories of Yiziba and transformed back into her birth form. Kasuga Ayumu just found her and got her turned back to normal." She took a deep breath. "Tariko's also finally accepted her Gift as Coyote."
"How?!" a wide-eyed Malik wondered as he immediately tried to imagine who could have taken down a wonderful woman like Tariko Katabarbe, who was clearly blessed by God Himself to have gone forth to become the saviour of lost children such as they.
Naomi shook her head. "I'm not sure exactly. According to what Hasegawa Chisame learned from Mihama Chiyo when she was contacted by Miss Ayumu, it has to do with the umale from Uru and that Tag Race they ran six months ago that was suppressed in the news."
That made the younger teens scowl. It had nearly caused a war when space taxis tried to steal the plentiful oil under the sands of Arabia just six months ago; fortunately for all of humanity, the mysterious "Men In Black" had been able to get the black gold restored to where it had been found without any harm to the environment. And while the fact that Redet Lum had been able to "pay" the taxi driver off with some of her own power to send him away, four Japanese boys who had become the warlord's daughter's "Stormtroopers" were now the objects of much cursing among the people of the Middle East, especially among the nations who were members of OPEC. That was all thanks to the Stormtroopers being the idiots who had actually called down the damned thing in the first place...all to go see the warlord's daughter they all clearly desired! Once the details of that incident were published thanks to the Japanese interior ministry, the leaders of ISIL immediately issued a fatwā demanding their deaths and the death of the "alien devil-girl" who was the ultimate cause of that incident.
"Was Miss Tariko involved?" Maya asked. "That thing with the space taxi?"
"I don't know, but I think so," the older Israeli answered with a shrug. "Whoever did this obviously knew that if any of us hears or sees the name 'Moroboshi Ataru' in the media, a whole STORM of us would go to Tomobiki to seek her out. Given that those umale are living there now, that could have easily provoked a massive fight scene, even a repeat of the Mother of All Fight Scenes centuries ago. So if Tariko was involved in any way, shape or form, people here won't know of it."
"What are her plans?" Maya's friend then wondered; they hadn't reached the stage where they'd be comfortable as "boyfriend" and "girlfriend".
"Keep silent for the time being," Naomi stated. "What the Angels are doing up north right now is easily disguised given how people tend to misinterpret things. The umale know of the magicals living among us and how fanatic they are in keeping that secrecy statute of theirs intact." She shook her head. "But whoever did this aroused the anger of the Trickster of the Show. According to the stories of the Dawn of Power I've heard about, Coyote's fury was said to be violent enough to even scare Infinity!"
That made the young teens shudder as they imagined what a fight scene between Tariko Katabarbe and Kasuga Ayumu could be like. During the time Naomi had been with them, she regaled them with many tales of the current incarnation of the Goddess Who Walks Among Men, especially the times she allowed people to get synthetic "battle doll" bodies to help them control their Gifts. The Archangel of Mortality herself — the executioner of the heretic Usāmah bin Lādin who saw so many in New York and Washington killed nearly ten years ago — was one who had benefited from Kasuga Ayumu's largess.
"Those people from Uru are monsters!" Maya sulkily noted as she wrapped her arms around her bent knees. "What made them think they've got any right to invade us, especially with all the other neighbouring races keeping a watch on things here?! If they'd come in peace or to help us in some way against other aliens, that's one thing...but to pretend to want to CONQUER us...?!"
Naomi chuckled. "Well, they won't be a problem very soon..."
In a cave on Yiziba, the next afternoon...
Naomi smiled as she watched Malik emerge from the glowing wall of crystal that formed the inner end of the Cave of the Future near Habitation One, the effective "capital city" of the Free Planetary State of Yiziba on the northern polar continent several hundred kilometres south of Tariko Katabarbe's hillside cabin. The young Palestinian was now clad in a bright yellow jumpsuit with pale blue accents, a mace-like symbol in dark blue surrounded by a ring of thunderbolts. She knew through the memories of her past-self that Temduo — his popular tag-line would be "the Living Lightning" — had the ability to weld massive levels of electricity to the point where s/he could transform her/himself into a bolt of energy similar to how the American comic book hero the Human Torch turned himself into living flame.
"Are you alright?" she asked as the merchant's son came over to embrace her.
"It's a miracle...!" Malik breathed out.
A cough made the two turn to gaze upon the Bright Genius of the Young Guns standing nearby, who had what looked like a super-advanced version of an iPad in her hand. As the woman born Mihama Chiyo smiled at him, Malik blushed in embarrassment. Seeing that, Naomi tried not to giggle; not even the most dark heel on this planet could make him/herself resist that super-cute smile of hers. "Malik-san, how would you like your battle-name interpreted back on Earth?" the native of Itabashi in Tōkyō asked.
He hummed for a moment, then smiled. "'Vájra'."
That made Chiyo blink. "That's Sanskrit! Wouldn't you want it...?!"
"In Arabic or Hebrew?" he finished before he shook his head. "No, Miss Chiyo, that's not necessary. In the eyes of the umale like Miss Tariko's 'wife', we are not Muslim or Jewish or followers of Shintō or anyone else. We are Terran first." He impishly smiled. "Besides, my father has friends in India whom he met during his ḥajj to Makka. He always liked Buddhist theories and legends."
The Great Crystal then glowed again...
Emerging from the wall of mesonium was Maya. She was dressed in a deep purple jumpsuit with black belt and boots, the suit decorated with chains of colourful sahasrāra-like symbols up the sides to form a central symbol over her chest. Naomi shook her head in amusement, instantly sensing the influence-by-proxy of Malik's father in the choice of his future daughter-in-law's Gift. Maya was the current incarnation of the psychic nicknamed the "All-Seeing Sage of the East" in previous incarnations; her first-self was a religious philosopher who helped save many villages on the eastern equatorial continent during the years of the Dawn of Power. While not as powerful a telepath as Chiyo's friend Mizuhara Yomi, the native of Lotan now also possessed some telekinetic abilities, normally used in levitation.
"Well?!" the Searching Maiden of Light asked. "What do you think?!"
Maya shuddered. "It's wonderful...!"
Remembering the other girl's presence, the young Israeli girl hummed before she nodded. "'Véda'."
Chiyo giggled. Why am I not so surprised...?
Naomi nodded. "So now we have to get you two someplace to ensure any issues of Post-Gifting Shock don't end up causing unnecessary damage," she announced.
"I'm looking forward to it!" Malik exclaimed as he allowed electricity to crackle between his hands and lash out into the ceiling of the Cave.
Everyone giggled as they headed towards the entrance, where Asakura Kazumi was now standing in her uniform as the Voice of the Show, hand-held camcorder before her eyes to transmit the first images of the two newest Terrans to be Gifted out into the public media networks across Yiziba. As both Malik and Maya flashed peace signs to the camera, the latter psionically said, «I feel much the same. There's so much that I understand now.» She then frowned. «Part of me wishes that my family could too...»
"It'll be alright, Maya-san!" Chiyo instantly cheered. "It'll be alright!"
"So where to now?" Malik asked.
Naomi smiled at the two newest members of the Salvation Alliance.
"Anywhere you want..."