I lay bloody and broken, no longer breathing, on the floor of the battle chamber. My enemy and killer, Fu, stands above my corpse with his bloodied blade in hand, a slight smirk on his face, his gigantic frame outlined by the sunlight. He gives a gentle bow to me, the smirk frozen on his face, and rises to join our master. In the battle to see who our master’s superior student is, he has won. This does not matter.
I will get my chance, in another life.
1718, The Atlantic Ocean. The Ocracoke Inlet. Near Present Day Hampton, Virginia.
My flintlocks are firing at the pirates who have boarded my ship, the Jane. My men, a small but fierce gang of sailors, are fighting Fu’s men. In this life, I am called Robert Maynard, and I am a Lieutenant in the Royal Navy. Fu is called Edward Teach, also known as Blackbeard. With many of my men dead from cannon fire, it seems hopeless.
Blackbeard fires his flintlocks at me, I fire mine at him. We throw them to the ground and draw our swords. He beats me again, like he seems to always do in swordfight. It appears that I will have to wait until another life to kill Fu.
Suddenly, one of my men attacks Teach/Blackbeard/Fu. The illustrious pirate is not ready for this. Around me, I see the rest of my men attacking or killing the remainders of the boarding party. Fu tries to attack my men, but they overwhelm him. One delivers a fatal cut to his neck, and he falls.
I behead the pirate and throw his body overboard, hanging his head from the bow of my ship, so I may claim the reward for his capture when I return to the mainland.
As I look at Fu’s head, I know that he will get his chance, in another life.
1862, America. The Battle of Cedar Mountain. In the midst of the American Civil War.
Bullets fly past me, and strike comrades on either side of me. I hear one as he begins screaming for his mother, knowing well she will probably never come. In this life, I am a wiry eighteen year old named Benjamin Franklin Tate, with the 46th Pennsylvania Infantry. I rush up the side of the promontory known as Cedar Mountain. The fighting is fierce, and many of my friends are dying from both gunshot wounds and hand to hand combat.
I run blindly into smoke, and I cannot see the hulking bumpkin from Tennessee called Oswald G. Boone, Junior running at me. Boone swings the butt of his gun at me, and it connects with its target: my nose.
I fall to the ground, blood gushing down my face and into the blue wool of my Union uniform. I know that this huge hillbilly is my enemy from long ago. I dodge his next attack, and our guns clash. I try to fight back, but my wiry body and young muscles are no match for him. He beats me again with the butt of the gun, then stabs me.
Before he runs off, he stands over me and watches me before I black out, all nine teeth he has taunting me with a grin.
He runs off to rejoin the battle.
1938, Germany. Unknown circus.
The ringmaster presents my act: Anastasia, the Bengal Tiger. I am famous all over Germany for my beauty, grace, skill and ferocity. I am the main attraction of this otherwise poor circus.
In the crowd sits a large lawyer. From what I hear among the crowd, the lawyer’s name is Herr Schmidt, and he is also famous here in Germany. He is quite wealthy, and plans to purchase the circus (which includes me) from the owner, a grizzled man called Franz. When he looks into my emerald eyes, taunting me from his freedom among the audience while I am stuck in a cage, I know who he is instantly. He smirks, making his thick mustache tilt at an awkward angle, the same smirk he made at my corpse all of those years ago.
The show goes on without a hitch, and afterwards, once the audience has left and the performers have retired, I lie awake in my cage. From it, I can see out into the center of the tent, where the grizzled old man Franz and the lawyer Herr Schmidt are doing their business transaction. With a curt nod of his head and a tip of his hat, Schmidt retires to his new office. Franz slips on his thin and ratty coat, and after a silent moment of looking around the circus, his old home, he leaves, never to be seen by me again.
I try to stay awake to see Schmidt, but it is no use. I doze off.
When I awaken, I see Schmidt, sitting on a small stool (too small for him to be sitting on), staring at me. I stand with a growl and focus on him, and only him. He begins to chuckle, making the bristles on his mustache perk up. He stands from the stool, and rises to walk up to my cage. He leans down to me at my level.
He tells me that this hardly seems fair: he is a relatively big lawyer with moderate strength for a man his size, but I am a huge, ferocious Bengal tiger. I just growl as I think of all of the unfair battles we had fought, with him as the unfair element. I just paw at the lock of the cage. He continues to talk as I manage to get the cage unlocked. It’s rusty door swings open, and I pounce out.
While his plump body tries to outrun me, it simply cannot. As I fly though the air, roaring, knowing that I, also, will be killed in this life for killing him, I wonder what I will be in the next life, and what he will be.
How else can our battle unfold?