14. Middle Earth

The Middle Earth

End of Book Two – The Rabbit Hole

Kit Khang:

Our father Kozo bounded down the escalator and raced across the Flower of Life floor toward Kat and I.

Our safety was his only concern and he hardly noticed RuAzul, Chikara and the Ark, or the people surrounding us. As he approached us, a wave of relief came over him. We appeared unharmed.

“Stop,” RuAzul shouted as Father was about to pass by, frozen in motion by a wall of ki energy, which both his father-in-law Khong, and Heijo, had demonstrated to him on many Aikido sparing occasions. He had no choice but to do as he was told: humbled down to his knees.

“Who are you?” Father asked as he slowly rose, took a deep breath and looked into the eyes of the man who now had his attention. “What do you want with me and my children?”

“Silence!” RuAzul demanded as he turned and pointed at us. ” Come here.” We ignored his command as we rushed to join our father. Grandfather held his place on the sidelines. He appeared trapped in an energy field, which he was unable to overpower, as were Basho, Izami and Kinju. Our father noticed him for the first time, and looked at us questioning his presence, since he should be in Hawaii, and yet the proud businessman remained composed.

“I will not be silent,” our father said, standing tall with authority, having no idea who he was actually facing. “I asked you . . . what do you want with me and my children?” He wrapped his arms around both Kit and Kat.

“I want nothing of you. You are here as a courtesy, that’s all,” RuAzul replied without emotion.

“A courtesy? A courtesy would be to let us walk away. Now!” our father demanded.

“Be quiet little man. I’m giving you an opportunity to witness that I’m really not the monster people say I am. There is no question that these twins and I have a destiny, and there is no one, especially you, our my pathetic cousin over there, who can stop destiny from playing out. You may join your friends on the sideline. Say goodbye, Mr. Khang.”

“What?”

“You heard me. Leave!”

Kozo felt a pushing force as he unwillingly let go of us and stumbled backwards to join Grandfather and the others outside of the Flower of Life floor. RuAzul gave Grandfather an angry stare.

Then, like the conductor of a symphony orchestra preparing for the grand finale, RuAzul spread his arms wide waist high, tickled his nine fingers up, and very slowly began to mentally lift the petal tips up from around the perimeter of the Flower of Life floor, as if he were waking them from a dream. The petals effortlessly began to raise, upward, outward, and then inward, merging and weaving together, forming a large golden sphere.

Grandfather! Kat yelled in her mind. What’s going on? What is he doing? Help us!

He won’t hurt you. We will find a way to get you back.

Find a way now! I pleaded.

This too must be part of you destiny. Call upon all that you have learned, all that your grandmother and I have taught you. Be with what is.

We hugged each other, struggling to hold on to some sense of our own reality. We knew that screaming or pleading with RuAzul would do no good. Our only option was to take our Grandfather’s advice and be with what was.

When the last of the petals clicked into place, an inner sphere of blue formed around RuAzul, Chikara, the Ark, and us. The enormous energy ball then rose off the ground, letting off multi-colored pulsations of light in every direction.

The pulsations transformed into rippling waves of light, which within seconds became a hurricane force that literally opened the ground under us. We could see all of this from the circular 360 degree windows. I’m sure it was one way glass, and they couldn’t see us.

The golden sphere hovered above the hole where a carousel used to be. We watched as Grandfather and the others held on to each other, shielding their eyes from what must have been a golden glow, or intense energy. Then saddened we dropped, and were gone.

Grandfather Khong:

The air and the earth in the mall returned to normal and the carousel reappeared in its place in present time and space. Children were on the carousel as if nothing strange had happened. People were strolling and shopping like every other day at the mall.

Kozo was shaking as he stared over at me, and then at the carousel. It was all beyond his comprehension. Everything that had just happened now rendered him speechless, since his logical mind had been brutally thrown into a completely impossible bad dream. The floor turning into a spaceship and his children kidnapped: how did all this happen? He was in mental shock.
I needed to change tactics, and quickly. This whole RuAzul episode wasn’t supposed to happen. There were still two Spheres left to find, and four Masks.

My version of the destiny didn’t include my cousin’s interference.

I had carefully plotted each step of the journey. I knew exactly where the twins had to go in their search for the five Crystals. Yes, there was danger involved, and I knew what Kit and Kat were capable of. I had taught them well and trusted their innate abilities. Although I hadn’t anticipated fights with samurai, I placed Kinju and Izami there to protect them just in case. I knew the dolphins would take them to the underwater pyramid, and I had personally joined the twins in the Crystal pyramid. Egypt all happened in a virtual reality game, and I was there. Everything had gone according to my plan until now. I had chosen to ignore RuAzul, thinking that my cousin would be too caught up in his illusions, and denial of the twins, to pay the Prophesy any mind.

I was worried, a very rare and uncomfortable emotion for me, a man who always had everything under control. I had no idea what my unpredictable cousin would do with Kit and Kat, although I had to trust they would not be harmed. This was an unfortunate and terribly untimely detour I needed to deal with immediately, with no time to waste.

Kit and Kat were gaining control of their destiny, although that would be the last thing they would realize. Their desire to find their mother, my daughter, had become stronger than I had anticipated. Maybe this will give them the strength and determination to fulfill the Prophesy, I thought. I will have to trust what’s transpiring, and work with it to our advantage. I left Izami to calm Kozo and hurried off with Kinju and Basho.

Izami walked up to Kozo and took his hand in hers, sending a calming presence through him. Color returned to his face.

“Wha . . .” Kozo cleared his throat and heard his sound. “What just happened? Where are my children?” Kozo still didn’t know who this woman in front of him really was, although he felt a trusting radiance of peace and goodness. “I don’t understand.” Kozo’s mind was rapidly clearing and now he was beginning to feel his anger rise. He couldn’t wait for the answers before he asked the questions he was too upset and confused to organize. “What is my father-in-law doing here? That floor . . . did that really happen? What do you have to do with all of this? What’s your name? Izami? Who was that man? What is this all about?”

“Please, be patient, Kozo . . . we’re . . .” she started. He let go of her hands and stepped back.

“Patient! Are you out of your mind? I want answers now! Where did my children go?” Kozo paused for a second, erasing all the other unimportant questions from his mind. “That’s all I want to know. Where are my children?”
“It appears they went to the Middle Earth. Where else?”

“The Middle Earth! Where else? I didn’t even know there is a Middle Earth. You have an idea then? Can you get to this place?”

“It’s a very vast land, Kozo. Khong may have some idea, but we obviously haven’t had time to discuss it,” Izami answered, now becoming impatient. She was ready to re-join her team.

“I want to go with you. Take me to this place.”

“That’s not possible. You’ll need to trust us. Trust Khong. What you just saw wasn’t part of our plan”

“Your plan? What plan? Khong is an old man who teaches Aikido in Kauai, not some super hero. What’s going on?”

“I can’t tell you right now, Kozo. I have to go. We will find your children. Please trust us. We are dedicated to their safety. Go home.”

“I won’t go home! Tell me who that man was and why he took my children.”

“That was RuAzul, Khong’s cousin. I can’t tell you why he took Kit and Kat. We need to find then, and bring them back. Rest assured, protecting the twins is our first priority.”

“Why are they so special? They’re just teenagers. Normal kids.”

She placed her hands on his shoulders and looked into his panic-weary eyes, “I really have to go. We’ll stay in touch with you. Please, Kozo, I know that this is confusing, but know we will do everything in our power to make sure your children are not harmed and they return home safely.”

When Kozo took the second to look up in frustration and disbelief, Izami slipped away. He, the billionaire highest-level executive, father of what he thought were everyday kids, was now fully engaged in whatever the hell was going on. His eyes searched the heavens. He yelled at a earth, which wasn’t listening:

“I want my family back! I want my family back NOW!”

Book Three – The Middle Earth

Chapter 1

One world disappears.
Another Earth.

Grandfather Khong:

In an alternate reality, I Khong, also known as KiZato, and  the evil underground ruler, my cousin Ru Azul, had shape-shifted into nine-foot tall dragons, and fought an ancient battle on the Flower of Life floor, dancing around a golden chest, which the twins realized was the Ark of the Covenant.

It was a fiercely fought battle of two immortal adversaries, until Ru Azul had knocked me unconscious with his dragon tail. I immediately fell limp, transforming back into my human body.

When the twins rushed into the center of the Flower of Life to help me, RuAzul pushed me out of the way, and then folded the floor into a geodesic dome shaped spacecraft, which hovered above where the mall’s carousel had recently been.

With the twins in the craft was the manipulative M’tajakian princess Chikara, Ru Azul, and the golden Ark. This illusionary, yet quite real, drama was the folly of the so-called Lord and Ruler RuAzul. His earthquake, which was really an illusion, had sent shoppers out of the mall; everyone except the twin’s father Kozo, the princess Izami, whom their father had met earlier that afternoon, Kinju, the six-foot-eight-inch black warrior African prince, and the dwarf Samurai Basho: my team. The Flower of Life floor had appeared, the fight of the dragons happened, and we helplessly watched as the twins were being wrapped into this mysterious craft.

In anger and frustration, I shifted back into my dragon body, roaring at the ship, startling the group, especially Kozo, with my ferocity. This wasn’t part of my plan. My grandchildren weren’t supposed to be kidnapped by the evil RuAzul and Kozo’s business associate, now turned traitor, Chikara. I had to improvise, and quickly

Shifting back into my KiZato body, I huddled with Kozo and the others as the spaceship hovered over the pit. We were protecting each other from the thrust of air particle waves. There was no jet fire or rocket blasts coming from the bottom of the craft: only the force of an unseen energy that moved toward us in powerful chaotic waves.

Then the waves stopped. All was still. Kozo stood helpless at the edge of a deep crater, gazing at spinning round space craft hovering above it, with his twin children Kit and Kat aboard.

Suddenly the spaceship powered back on, and then jetted into the earth, and was gone, heading to who knows where. Down.

I mind transferred instructions to Izami on how to delicately handle the twin’s father. It was done with a nod as Kinju, Basho and I moved out of Kozo’s sight, to talk strategy.

Izami sat with the distraught Kozo on a bench, unsuccessfully attempting to convince him that his children would be okay. She didn’t know whether that was true, and he knew she was placating him, but that was the best that could be done considering the circumstances.

Everything was totally convoluted for Kozo. His father-in-law, me, was supposed to be living a quiet life in Kauai, and not be here, shape-shifting into a nine-foot tall dragon before his very eyes. His assistant Chikara had betrayed him, and his children had been kidnapped. At the moment there was no consoling him. Izami left him to stew in his confusion, on a bench in an otherwise deserted mall. His world had just been turned upside down.

By the time Isami joined us, I was busy formulated a plan. The twins still needed to find the Green Crystal Sphere, and turn the six small Blue Spheres into one big Sphere, and then place them, along with the Clear Crystal Sphere, which Kat had in her backpack, in the Underwater Pyramid. This would all have to happen in the Middle Earth, where I suspected the Pyramid was connected to. RuAzul kidnapping them, and most likely holding them as prisoners, was an unexpected obstacle. Not insurmountable.

I was fully aware that RuAzul lived in the Middle Earth, out of site and out of mind, until now. We would need to follow him there.

I needed to flow with the changes, as was my Aikido master nature. Perhaps this side trip will make the twins stronger, I thought. They are determined to find out the truth about their mother. Now they will. If RuAzul is holding their mother, my daughter, as his prisoner, the twins will see everything from another perspective: a more motivated perspective. It will be their reason to want to escape and complete their mission, and rescue her. We can help them make it so. This will work, I thought, as long as he doesn’t harm the twins, that is.

I knew the twins were resilient and tough. I had taught them, through Aikido and other tests, to be unbreakable under pressure. After eleven years of training, the twins thoroughly understood that ‘living Aikido,’ combined with ‘living aloha,’ were forms of self-protection in and of themselves. The Way of Love was bigger than any conceivable opposition. Puna’s aloha training fortified this, teaching them to turn everything into their favor: to see a favorable outcome, no matter what.

Being captured by RuAzul, the master of control, may be their biggest challenge yet, I thought. All that matters is that we go to the Middle Earth, now.

I gathered my companions and created around us an energy vortex bubble. With a single thought we were on our way to the Underground, below Ru Azul’s Middle Earth castle, leaving Kozo alone in the Mall.

2.

Kat Khang:

The craft silently flew through a dark, and familiar space.

We now realized we were in the control center, at the top section of the craft. RuAzul was making adjustment, apparently putting it in cruise control. When he was done we followed him and Chikara down a circular stairwell, into a comfortable living room lounge, again with 360 degree windows all around.

“Please relax. You are in no danger.” Chikara said. We ignored the bitch, and sat on the surprisingly cozy couch anyway. We sank back on the sofa as we scanned the ships interior. We sort of figured it was all an illusion, or some sort of advanced hologram, yet in every way it looked and felt solid and real. The Ark was nowhere in sight. It was on the craft when it folded up, and how was gone. We wondered where it was and how we could possibly be flying in the mall floor. That’s why we figured it wasn’t real.

       Kit, I thought. We need to shield our conversation. Hear me.

I’m blocked, sister.

We can’t drop our guard for a second.

I got it. The way I see it, there’s no turning back.

At least they didn’t tie us up, I thought.

That was low how he got into Father’s mind and pulled him down as bait. There’s no way we wouldn’t have tried to rescue him, and the creep knew it.

I’m glad Father isn’t here. He must be freaked. I hope he didn’t have a heart attack, or stroke, or some such thing. I’m sure Grandfather will tell him what’s going on. I wonder if he even knows what they plan to do with us? I considered the possibilities and didn’t want to think of any of them.

We’ll know soon enough. Kit answered. I guess we can ask.

Let’s be cool and ask them later. I suppose we might as well relax and enjoy the ride.

         Look at him. I know their cousins, but he looks so much like Grandfather it’s scary.

         I looked RuAzul over. His energy is way different. Grandfather is good, and this guy’s a psychopath.

At least. I wonder if they offer beverages and an in flight meal? The thought of food eased Kit’s tension.

RuAzul and Chikara sat on the opposite couch watching them, and in the twin’s minds, trying unsuccessfully to read their minds.

“Allow me to properly introduce myself,” RuAzul spoke with refined elegance as he sat down across from them, “My name is Lord RuAzul. The Lord RuAzul. Lord of your Earth. You may have heard of me. When the ancient religions of your world speak of Lord, they speak of me. I am the brother of your pathetic Grandfather KiZato and therefore your Great Uncle.

“Brother?” I couldn’t help but interrupt. “He said you’re his cousin.”

“You may call me Uncle,” he answered, as if my question didn’t matter. “I will allow that . . . for you to call me Uncle. To everyone else I am called Lord and Master.”

“None of those titles work for me,” Kit answered, not yet intimidated by this truly powerful man. “Uncles, if that’s the truth, don’t kidnap family and, excuse me, there’s no way I’m going to call you Lord and Master.”

“Me neither,” I joined in. “More like slime bucket.” I said that in outright total disrespect, while staring directly in RuAzul’s eyes. I moved my head and gave Chikara a disgusted look, “I knew you were an alien.” Thinking back to the dragon fight at the Shanghai mall, I was beginning to get the idea that we had entered into a very complicated battle between two brothers, with Chikara playing somewhere in the middle.

“M’tajakian,” Chikara corrected.

“You have fight in you, girl.” RuAzul smiled, enjoying my feisty spirit. “I know teenagers always want food. We don’t have any. So sit back and enjoy the flight.” He spoke in a voice that seemed to mock airline flight attendants. “He nodded at Kit as if he had read his mind about food. “We are scheduled to arrive in less than an hour. I’m sure someone will take you to Burger King.” He smiled, for the moment enjoying the rare opportunity to show off his limited sense of humor. His humor seemed to agree with Chikara, who chuckled. She exhibited a rare smile, which looked like a vampire smile to me, as they stiffly sat across from us.

“Where we going?” Kit asked after a few minutes passed.

“To my palace,” RuAzul nonchalantly answered, as if it were a scheduled flight.

“You have a palace?” Kit couldn’t help but ask. “Does it have a moat and dragons?”

“You’d be surprised?” Chikara butted in. “It looks just like Disneyland. We feed the munchkins like you lollipops and sugarplums. You stupid children need to wake up. This isn’t an amusement park ride. You’re prisoners going to a dungeon, where no Upper Earth human will ever find you.”

RuAzul gave her a puzzling look. I had a suspicious she was even more evil than him.

“I don’t believe you. What are you really going to do with us?” I asked without displaying my feelings of fear or dread, which were extremely hard to disguise given the circumstances.

“You’ll be my guests for awhile,” RuAzul answered with no expression.

“Your prisoners?” Kit believed that part of Chikara’s spew was right. .

“You’ll find me to be a very hospitable Great Uncle.”

“We didn’t ask for your hospitality,” I countered. “I don’t know what kind of warped system you have on your little lord dumb, but where we come from, when you steal people it’s called kidnapping. It’s especially low down and nasty when you kidnap children, which we officially are. We’re still fifteen, you know?”

“I see.” He paused to consider. “Everything is a matter of perspective, is it not? Look at it my way. You get a rare, for at least for seven billion people on your earth, trip to the Middle Earth. The richest people on your earth people would pay a fortune for such an experience. While there you’ll get to speak to a long lost member of your family. Me. That is rare: being with the ruler. Rare added to rare. Do you see what I mean? I will provide food and comfortable accommodations. As soon as I get what I want, I’ll return you to your pathetic father. I don’t see a problem.”

“You don’t see a problem?” I almost shouted. “You frickin’ kidnapped us and you don’t see a problem? What’s wrong with you? You fly up to Earth on some sort of magic carpet, grab a couple kids who were enjoying their time with their father, who, by the way, you used as bate, and is not pathetic. Then you kidnap us and take us to the middle of the earth, and that’s not a problem? Are you out of your mind?” I paused to get my breath and then realized what was really going on, changing my tone. “You’re afraid of us. And we, children, have something you need, and can’t live without. That’s pathetic: and the truth. The only reason you would kidnap us is because you’re afraid of us. Afraid of what we’ll do with the Spheres. Admit it.”

RuAzul looked over to Chikara. “You did bring the wine, my dear? I love California wine. Red from what do you call it? Napa Valley? It is the best. Do you know it is filled with nitric oxide, which stimulates your higher consciousness?

“I got four cases from Napa Valley, as you requested,” Chikara offered.

“I didn’t see any cases of wine.” Kit broke in.

“You don’t see a lot of things. You need to pay more attention boy,” Chikara answered.

Why does she keep saying to pay attention? Kit thought to me.

“Four glasses,” RuAzul said to Chikara. “We’ll toast.”

It’s good advice. I can’t imagine she’s a double agent. Let’s watch both of them extra closely.

“We’re fifteen,” Kit answered. “We’re minors. We don’t drink. And even if we did, what would we toast to . . . our abduction?”

“We can toast to that, if you would like. I was considering toasting to a family reunion.”

“I’ll toast to the failure of you two psychopaths. Look,” I was serious about that, but decided on another approach. “We were having a perfectly good reunion with our father, beer and lemonade, I think that’s what I was drinking, before you rudely interrupted us. We only see him once a year. There rest of the time my brother and I have a pretty decent life. We didn’t want to go looking for the Spheres you stole . . . what was it? 13,000 years ago?

“Then why are you doing it?”

“We got into this situation and we need to get out of it. Do you think we wanted to be captured by an evil cousin, or uncle, and taken to some stupid underground palace where there is no sun and surf? And why in hell would we now want to give you what you want?”

“I see. Well then,” RuAzul lifted his silver wine glass that appeared out of nowhere and motioned for Chikara to fill it. “I’ve just saved you a whole lot of grief. You’re free of your situation, where I’m taking you. How’s that? You can relax. Please. Do have a glass of wine with me.”

“No!” I could hardly believe his gall. “My brother and I don’t drink. Get it? Have your wine with the alien princess, or your vampire girlfriend, or the zombie queen, whatever IT is.” I gave Chikara a snarl and Kit laughed. “And then me and my brother will just sit back and enjoy the ride.”

I decided that was probably the best thing to do, as Kit and I looked out the window at nothing.

I don’t care what he wants . . . the Earth is my home, its beautiful and I want to go back. I mu-mu’d. RuAzul is right. People would give anything to come here. I bet all those greedy people who are destroying it would love to know they could escape to a Middle Earth. I hope they never find out.

Right on, Kit thought back. Scumbags. After a while we sat back on our sofa, lost in our thoughts of the day and all we had gone through. Did we really go through the neuro-magin thingy to Egypt? If Grandfather’s really a dragon, what would that make us? Are we dragons, too? Kit thought to me.

Maybe? Listen, Kit . . . I’m going to play along. Stop fighting them. You know, act grateful. If we get them lighten up, let down their guard, we’ll find a way to escape . . . once we land.” Excuse me, Uncle?”

“Yes?” He set his silver wine goblet down on the coffee table. “You really should try this Napa wine. Fabulous.”

“I’ve been wondering where we’re going. Do you have a big palace? Is it part of a city like Shanghai? Do you rule a whole country? Just curious.”

“I do have a palace in a castle, which sits high above a self-contained city. It’s located near nowhere you’re familiar with.”

“So you have a sustainable eco-culture?” Kit always loved to sit in on his Grandmother Puna’s gatherings, discussing sustainable agriculture on Kauai.

“We do. Although we haven’t been successful in growing grapes for wine. I have to send someone down now and then to go shopping.”

“Do you have a Walmart? I’ll bet you’re a Walmart shopper?” I couldn’t help myself.

“Consumer items are not important to me, as a matter of fact.”

Kit was surprised by the comment, although he was still stuck on the word lord. “You think you’re the one they call Lord in the Bible?”

“I am the almighty Lord, no matter what your books say.”

“Why are you doing this?” I asked, ignoring RuAzul’s inflated ego.

“Doing what, niece?” RuAzul smiled as he savored a sip of his wine.

“I’m not your niece, at least I’m not willing to be. Creating this illusion of a space ship. I know it’s not real. Why didn’t you just beam us down and we’d be there right now. Why don’t you just get this over with?”

“I’ve taken this time so we can get to know each other, and to show you both that I mean no harm. If you would like to be there, then we’re there. Surely you don’t want to miss what’s outside your window.”

We looked out the window and were overwhelmed by the surface of the Middle Earth, not more than two miles below. It took us by surprise. We were more amazed when a city appeared. The round ship soon landed on a pad, and then folded flat, the Flower of Life again. We were in a mid-section of a castle fortress.