The Tales of Master Trey's Flawless Outlaws: Battle of The Seven Stars
Tale One: Celia (First Heaven)
Just like most high school girls, Celia, has done her best to blend in, successfully avoiding falling victim to the many cruelties that can result from sticking out. Her high school, located in the suburbs of upper-class middle America, had no tolerance for people who didn't follow the social rules: maintain an attractive appearance, don't be too dumb or too smart and avoid anything that wasn't made popular by mass media.
At eighteen years old, just before her graduation, she has managed to find herself in the most popular and idolized of all the cliques. This was highly unusual because Celia actually didn't have any of the traits that generally lead to high school admiration. Her Brazilian accent, dark skin, coarse hair, strong muscles and continual practice of martial arts made her “strange” to say the least. However, in spite of her “disadvantages,” she was able to use her charm, wit and unique character to win over most of the people she met. Not to mention that the popular kids often enjoyed the benefits of being able to copy Celia's homework and tests.
It didn't bother her that her friends were almost completely oriented around superficiality, obsessed with shows like Idle America or the new vampire series “Highlights.” Celia also turned a blind eye when her friends were cruel to everyone who was not in their clique. It took her years to climb her way up the social ladder and she was willing to make some sacrifices of her personal comfort in order to be accepted by the people who matter. She cringed on the inside whenever she saw some of the under classmen suffer from the almost daily prank, but managed to keep a beautiful smile on the outside to mask her sympathetic thoughts.
“Oh look at this dress.” Celia's friend Stacey said as she looked at a younger classmate in disgust. “If you are going to wear your mother's curtains, at least have the decency to wash them.” Stacey said, causing everyone in the hallway to snicker and laugh. Stacey then kicked the girl down in front of her, feeling she had not yet been humiliated enough.
Stacey was the perfect blonde girl who was basically a life size model of Barbie. Adverse to her beautiful outward appearance, she was quite cold on the inside. She was easily agitated if the people around her were not always saying
things to reassure her already over-inflated ego. Everyone wanted to be around her or be her, especially Celia. Celia had secretly admired her for years before finally becoming her acquaintance. She felt quite honored and fortunate to have such a popular friend regardless of her obnoxious behavior. She learned everything she knew about fashion and being socially accepted from Stacey and her Aunt Barbara.
Of course Celia, herself, was often teased and picked on by her clique because of her minor differences, but that is just a part of being in high school.
“Why the hell do you do that weird Butt Gua stuff for?” Stacey asked Celia for at least the 100th time.
“It's called Bagua.” Celia said while smiling and correcting her for the 101st time. “And there is nothing wrong with being able to protect yourself.” She defended as always. Her group of friends had never seen her practice her martial arts and perhaps they were secretly interested or even envious of Celia's unknown and mysterious skills. Yet in their minds, these feelings of curiosity would only appear as a form of weakness. The easiest way for an insecure person to show their admiration is through mockery and ridicule. Over the years Celia developed a thick skin to minor disrespect as a social survival mechanism.
“Well it makes your legs too strong and boys don't like that.” Stacey reminded her. It's true that the low and difficult postures of Celia's martial arts style made her stronger than her classmates. She certainly understood that her muscles were something that could be keeping the boys away from her at her school, but she also knew it was keeping something even more concerning away.
What Stacey didn't know about Celia, was no matter how much she mingled and attempted to fit in, she was nothing like the girls at her school. As early as 5 years old, she began seeing and experiencing things that were unnatural and often unnerving. She pondered on her troubling youth as she fiddled with the fabric of her jacket in the back seat of the car. The doctor referred to it as a minor form of schizophrenia: visions of monsters, ghosts and other haunting images or hallucinations. Not only did it scare her, but it scared her father, Cristiano, as well. Cristiano worked very hard to give his daughter a regular life in America, but Celia's visions attempted to destroy any hope of a normal childhood.
The images she saw grew stranger and even more detailed as she got older. At the age of seven, it was quite obvious that they were not going away. Celia's Aunt had continually recommended using a rare medical treatment that could potentially affect Celia's perky personality, which made Cristiano feel rather uneasy. He searched high and low looking for alternative answers to the problem when he was given advice from an old friend.
“Celia we have been given advice from two different medical experts about your current condition.” He said to her when she was just old enough to remember. “You can begin to take some special medicine that may reduce the visions, but it may possibly make you have less energy to play or be as active.” He explained while putting his hand on her shoulder soothingly. “But a close friend suggested a form of exercise, which I have been told has been known to help some people in ancient generations get rid of similar problems. What is it you would like to do?” Celia remembered her father asking as she rode around in the car; she was startled back to present day by her noisy and obnoxious friends who threw half eaten food at innocent bystanders.
“Oh I tagged that girl in the ear.” Stacey snickered. Celia hadn't had any visions in at least ten years. However something about the incident changed the nature of how she saw herself. She felt slightly embarrassed about her secret and did her best to blend in and be normal even if that meant repressing her own feelings and opinions. She feared that the mention or even memory of her past, might somehow cause her to relapse. She also felt that Bagua was the cure for her disease and gave her the power of focus. Not only was she good at martial arts from her daily practice, she was a closet fanatic.
As she sat in the back and listened to her friends discussing the major issues of high school including boys, clothing and Idle America, for some reason she began to feel glad that she would be graduating soon. Every year she felt like her friends were moving in a direction she was uncomfortable with.
“I've been dating this older guy and he's really rich.” Stacey bragged.
“What about your boyfriend?” Celia asked.
“Not everyone wants to be like you, Virgin Mary.” Stacy scorned. “I got a boyfriend for my girl needs and a man friend for my woman needs. I meet with him in the subway. There's a place that is off limits because of the hole in the ceiling. Every morning I take care of him and I'm set for life…even better than his wife.” Stacey bragged as she always did about her new lovers.
Celia was uncertain if her feelings were changing due to her developments in the martial arts, her age, or because the world itself was becoming increasingly capricious. Slowly the things that her friends were concerned about felt more hollow than before. It was as if Celia had awoken one day and found herself an actress in a movie that she was no longer interested in. A slave to the lies she continually told herself.
“That is a cool ass symbol” Beth said while pointing at a custom made pattern on Celia's top. Unlike Celia's martial arts, her friends openly admired her ability to make embroidered patches and martial arts trinkets, which usually contained a few Chinese characters from her Bagua training. Beth, another friend within their popular clique, had dark hair and was also very attractive. She was the organizer of the group's gatherings and was heavily into things related to the “dark arts,” as she called it. She had a very gothic look and an obsession with any conversation remotely related to death. If Stacey was the ring leader, then Beth would be the highest ranking general.
“Thanks. “Celia said as the car pulled up to her house. “It means Heaven Section.”
“You should totally show me a move some time.” Beth said smiling.
Celia smiled while explaining, “Yeah sure, but it would take a few months for your mind and body to digest it…”
“Sike!” Beth said almost laughing hysterically.” Heaven Sector….what planet are you from?” She said while laughing and hitting Stacey's shoulder uncontrollably. “More like Nerdy Sector.” said Beth.
“Or even never find a man with that bullshit sector.” Stacey added.
Beth did her best to slow her laughter to say, “No time for silly games little girl. We are almost in college and you are eventually going to have to put some of the dumb shit down.”
“Speaking of growing up, initiation is in a few days and you'd better not chicken out.” Stacey said to Celia with eyes that challenged any disagreement.
Celia hesitated before saying, “I don't know…,that is…”
“That is completely necessary if you want to even be considered as a Kappa Kappa Kappa. That sorority will change your life. You are basically guaranteed a position as one of the elite members of society like your aunt.” Stacey said while looking at the extremely elegant blue Mercedes parked in Celia's driveway.
“Yeah-of course I'm in.” Celia said not sure if she was lying or if she had genuinely been persuaded.
“Now get out the damn car.” Beth said without looking at Celia.
“It will be fun bitch.” Stacey said while smushing a half eaten sandwich in Celia's palm before driving off. Celia tossed the sandwich in the garbage and then wiped her hands on the grass to get off the mustard and ketchup. As she looked up, she sighed lightly seeing her aunt had dropped by for a visit. She had a lot of respect for her aunt not only because of her successful music and publishing company that had made millions of dollars, but also because after the passing of her mother, her aunt was the only female role model in her life. For years Celia was much like her Aunt Barbara's little pet; she did everything she could to please her aunt.
Yet in recent years, Celia and her aunt Barbara didn't get along as much as she pretended. Her aunt was against anything thing that appeared to be low-class or unladylike, which included the Heaven Section, athletics or anything that Celia found exciting. In fact she was so against Celia training martial arts, that she was eventually successful at “persuading” her kung fu master to leave town when Celia was 15. It was that particular event that changed the way Celia felt about her Aunt Barbara. Martial arts had not only been her only source of confidence growing up, it was quite literally crucial for her sanity.
Celia looked down at the symbol on her bag just before opening the door. She remembered the words of her instructor she heard when she was 7 years old as if they were fresh in her mind, “Heaven is the first section of eight different energies or philosophies.” Her instructor explained. “It represents a direct, honest and straightforward approach to not only combat, but life. You will be taught the 8 motions of Heaven, for you are my representative of the Heaven Section.” He said while pointing to the wall which held the same symbol as her bag.
As she entered her home, she could hear her Aunt Barbara's quiet but piercing giggle. It was such a perfect laugh, sounding almost rehearsed. Everything about Aunt Barbara somehow felt artificial. It was as if her clothes, make-up, career and car were too good to be true. Her flawless appearance felt like a mask for something more…, something strange or even possibly dark. Even Celia's father, Cristiano, seemed a bit uneasy about her presence. He was mostly respectful, but Celia could detect he was annoyed by her aunt's visits. He did his best to keep his distance as Aunt Barbara spoke.
“Hello dear, it looks like you have been praying to the guardians of beauty.” Her aunt said while giving her a hug, smothering her in expensive perfume.” But you may need to pray to the God of skinny cause you are getting too thick and…look you are too dark.”
“I know I'm dark auntie.” Celia said smiling. “I'm Brazilian…like you.” She said, failing to hide the sarcasm in her voice.
“Forgive me for not sounding politically correct, but money tends to follow the crowd of a lighter demeanor.” Her aunt responded. “Don't pretend you haven't noticed that all these entertainers with darker skin, become lighter when they finally become rich.” Celia just sighed deeply, knowing that she could never win a disagreement with her aunt. After all her aunt was the wealthiest person she knew, how could Celia deny her success?
“Don't worry I have creams and pills to make you look like a modern day pop star.” Her Aunt Barbara said while pulling on Celia to follow her upstairs. “Sorry Cristiano, girl talk.” She said while giving off another perfectly charming giggle. As they entered Celia's room, Aunt Barbara gave her another big squeeze before sitting on the bed. Celia had decorated her room with the theme of the Heaven Section of Bagua: white, trimmed with golden Chinese writings that enhanced the walls and even her carpet. On the closet door hung a poster with the eight movements she had learned. The poster was the last thing she received from her master the day before he left town. Everything in her room came together like a wonderful, stylized unique piece of art.
“I see your room is a dreadful as ever.” Her aunt complained almost to herself. “So you must be very excited about your graduation. Your mother would be so proud of you. You can be sure I am going to pull some strings and you will certainly be a Kappa Kappa Kappa.”
“Really?” Celia said surprised and a bit relieved.
“Of course you will still have to go through the ritual initiation. That is a tradition that not even I could over look.” Aunt Barbara said almost knocking all of the hope out of Celia. Celia had heard that the initiation was some sort of strange hazing ritual. She hadn't told anyone, but her personal research of the ritual led her to discover there were satanic traditions within it. She wasn't a religious person and she wanted to be accepted into the Kappa Kappa Kappa, but this felt unrelated to academics and a bit creepy.
“I don't understand why that is necessary. I'm not sure how I feel about those strange traditions.” Celia said feeling a bit let down.
“It's not about what is necessary Celia. It's about doing what's needed it to be successful. After your mother's unfortunate car accident I made a vow to give you the very best. I don't know why you continue to grow so hard headed.” Her aunt responded, frustration escaping her artificially polite voice. “You are not like the other hopeless rats out there that don't know the way to success. I've invested into you. I've taught you everything you need to be successful. All of those people with fruity, feel-good ideas are poor and struggling.” Her aunt said in one breath while adjusting her hair and calming herself.