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Hiraku Kanamori watched his third opponent arrogantly. He was waiting for everyone to finish betting before launching back into the fight. He had staked all of his money on his own victory. The equivalent of $50,000. With $5000 from the week of testing with the Yakuza, he had kept $2000 and used the remaining to purchase 3 pills. 3 pills to become a master of bare knuckle fighting.

His first opponent fell foul of his mastery of karate and his $2000 soon turned to $10,000. The second, prepared to fight a karate expert, was amazed at his mastery of karate AND judo. He left with a broken shoulder and Hiraku’s money now turned from $10,000 to $50,000. The third seemed a more fearce opponent than the other two.  He stood 1m 90 and weighed almost 100 kg. The smaller frame and flabby flesh of Hiraku seemed a bit ridiculous in front of the colossus. However, the odds increased from 5 – 1 to 3 – 1. Hiraku decided that $150,000 for his orignal $3000 investment was a good reason to take the risk.

When his new adversary took off his shirt, Hiraku felt a little bit apprehensive. He did not know if what he saw covering the mans body were tribal tattoos or whether they were many scars, indicating he was facing a very experienced fighter. Nonetheless, he prayed that the information shown on the packaging of the third pill he had swallow earlier would be as effective as he hoped. He closed his eyes and repeated the words softly. ‘Increases aggressiveness and effectiveness to make a fight as quickly and efficiently as possible’.

The last hit in Hiraku’s chest was proceeded by a crack, indicating a fracture. The pain was almost unbearable and considerably handicapped his mobility. Nevertheless, he still felt able to fight. The face of his opponent was covered with blood and his eyes were still full of rage. No one among the punters could predict with certainty the outcome of this fight. The two men grappled with each other. Each hoped for an obvious mistake on the part of the other. Hiraku felt that the duel could not last forever. The taste of blood in his mouth and increase in his breathing were becoming more difficult to control. Even if he knew how to fight, his body wasn’t trained to.

Feeling his strength gradually give way, he opted for what he considered was his last chance. The Yakuza, seeing his opponent take the offensive did the same. By the time the huge left fist grazed the ear of Hiraku, his had reached the giant’s chin. The Yakuza parried his opponent’s right fist thrusting it up to his throat. He followed this with a sharp blow to the groin with his foot and the giant fell like an oak. For Hiraku, the fall seemed to occur in slow motion. He saw every facial expression of pain, of grimacing Yakuza. He could almost hear the beat of his heart. He felt the shame of this man for losing to a weaker opponent.

When the crowd screamed, Hiraku suddenly thought this must be what it was like to be an ancient gladiator. He, the ‘Good for nothing’, was now a legend. With this thought in mind, he lost consciousness. Seeing something like a white veil and hearing sounds that became more serious. Blood flowed from his mouth even before he hit the cement floor of the arena. Everyone looked on… Hiraku lay dead as a result of his win.

***

Sitting cross-legged and naked, Ulric Panopeus opened his eyes to the pure white wall of his meditation room. Again, no vision. He turned slightly to his left and seized the small carved wooden box. Since he used the drug to cause his trance, he no longer had spontaneous prophetic pictures. Despite this, he opened the precious box and pulled out the bottle. He gently laid it before him and waited a few moments. After several minutes of meditation, the brightness of the wall was almost dazzling. He still felt fear. The fear he had felt since Virgo’s incident, along with the destruction of the germ of a relationship between Ivana and Alva. His visions urged him to act personally. He had the strange impression that his prophecies evolved in response to his actions. He was gradually loosing control and they began to influence his own choices more and more. They were dominating his existence.

Ulric grabbed the bottle and poured a drop of the drug onto his tongue. ‘Let time and space open, to let me see future events’ he murmured. Then he closed his eyes again, and waited. He knew that when he began his own thoughts, he heard voices in his head repeating the phrase ‘Let the time and space open, to let me see future events’. The volume of his thoughts surpassed that of a human voice. The ‘mental sound’ was something grand and divine. The first images came quickly.

Alva was standing, a blood covered gun in hand and was staring straight ahead. His eyes were empty of all humanity but full of cold determination. It was dark, but light was dancing behind him. He walked calmly in an urban setting while placing his gun in his leather jacket. He was walking with no precipitation, although his boots were covered with droplets of blood. Ulric suddenly had the impression Alva had sensed him, because he suddenly changed direction and headed his way. Then there was total darkness… for 3 seconds… 3 seconds without any sound… 3 seconds… then, new images came.

This time, he was flying at a breakneck speed, like a jet over a sandy desert. No sound, apart from that of the air rushing by him. What a powerfull impression! He thought. With no control of his direction, he felt free. He was led to a couple sitting on top of a dune. He thought he briefly recognized Alva, but not the woman at his side. They both shone like fireflies and did not notice him approaching.

Then, the dark returned… for 3 seconds more… again, no sound… Until a blinding light seemed to come from nowhere and engulf everything. The sound of an explosion followed by a strong wind. He looked and saw a city consumed by a nuclear explosion. The mushroom cloud grew visibly in silence as if it was doom’s day. Then, he clearly heard three similar explosions from all sides… Again darkness fell.

A burst of an automatic weapon from the left caught his attention. This time, he was observing himself. Before him, crouched behind a broken window, another Ulric Panopeus protected himself. His hair was completely shaved and seemed thinner, but he recognised his own figure. The city around him was like a ghetto in the middle of civil war. People were screaming all around and talking in Spanish. Panopeus look crossed that of his other self. He felt fear and envy.

From nowhere, someone was walking calmly in the open field and heading toward the house where the ‘Other’ Ulric was hiding. Nobody seemed to focus on this person. The guerilla fighting continued without any thought for the newcomer. The scene seemed completely unreal. At the door of the house, Ulrich acknowledged Alva. Unlike the ‘Other’ Ulric, he seemed not to have aged. His face shone with calm and serenity. Alva approached the ‘Other’ Panopeus and held out his hand. His lips moved, but Ulric heard no other sound than the rattling of an AK47.

A gust broke part of the wall near the two men, releasing a thick layer of volatile dust. The ‘Other’ Ulric coughed before Alva’s hand and stood up. Another bullet grazed Alva’s head and lodged in the wall. The two men headed for the exit and began walking in the open, giving the impression that the shooting did not concern them.

Then, Alva calmly turned around. The view zoomed in on his face. His face filled the entire vision, as if the watcher was only a few inches from him. Alva’s seemed to look for someone or something. Then they settled. Alva peered into Ulric ‘The Observers’ eyes and smiled. Ulric Panopeus had the feeling that the roles had been reversed and now… He, was the one being observed.

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