Clan of the Steel Fist

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The Clan of the Steel Fist is a group of warriors, each named after a god under the Shinto religion, whose motives are unknown and who carry the stench of death with them. They were followers of rei-bot during the Seven Swords arch.

Monju

Japanese Buddhist Bosatsu of wisdom and knowledge.

The Legends

Monju was a disciple of the historical Buddha and represents wisdom, intelligence, and willpower in Mahayana traditions. Throughout Asia, Monju is the personification of the Buddha's teachings, and hence Monju symbolizes wisdom and the enlightened mind. Monju is considered the wisest of the Bodhisattva, and thus acts as the voice/expounder of buddhist law.

Monju enjoyed vast popularity in Asia for many centuries, but today in China and Japan, Monju's popularity has diminished somewhat among the common folk. Nonetheless, Monju is still counted as one of the most popular of all Mahayana divinities in Japan. Students pay homage to Monju in the hopes of passing school examinations and becoming gifted calligraphers.

Japanese sculptures of Monju often depict the deity sitting atop a roaring lion, which symbolizes the voice of Buddhist law and the power of Buddhism to overcome all obstacles. Monju typically holds the Sutra of Wisdom in the left hand and a sharp sword in the right, which Monju uses to cut through illusion and shed light on the unenlightened mind. In some artwork, Monju carries a lotus flower and is sitting atop a shishi mythical lion.

His Story: The Scholar's Lesson

The day was still and motionless, punctuated only by the buzzing of small irksome insects in the air. Seated on a tree-stump leaning against the bark of an ancient conifer, there was the scholar, a tanned man in a long black coat, face obscured by one of the ancient tomes he always carried upon his person. By his side, sitting in the grass, meditating on the piercing blue sky, was a young lad, his pupil. The boy was a quick learner, adept with the rote and verse of the ancient wisdom, but he still had much to learn. But as he knew, every day was a new lesson to be had.

A piercing scream rang out though the forest. The scholar slowly raised his head out of his book and watched, noting the frantic jerk of his pupil's head as the boy quickly sought to understand what was happening. Clarity soon arrived; a small blonde girl, probably around 11 years of age, dressed in a pink summer dress was blindly scrambling through the clearing chased by a cat-beast of some kind. Running like a man, the cat-beast was one of a pair. They told tales of these creatures: fearsome warriors who had been trained in the art of death-giving by their unscrupulous master from a tender young age. The scholar was interested now; he had heard many tales of their savagery and brutality, but he had never seen one up close until now. It was male, about five feet tall from toe to nose, with brown fur around its ears and purple, feline eyes. Its claws were out and it was drooling, filled with a feral lust for the tender young flesh of the girl child.

"Master!" the boy snapped, "We must do something!"

"We?" the scholar asked curiously, nose still half in his tome.

Interpreting this as a test, with heroic effort the boy wrestled the beast to the ground, wrapping his hands around its neck and jerking sideways until the creature let out a screeching death cry, its limbs flailing helplessly for a moment before it dropped to the ground, defeated.

"Thank you!" screeched the small girl child in gratitude. She flashed a brilliant smile at the boy, whose face flushed crimson for an instant. Then she was gone, hoping daintily into the depths of the darkened forest with seemingly no ill-effects from her recent brush with death.

"You did well subjugating that beast," the scholar said approvingly, snapping closed his thick tome of ancient wisdoms from the time before the fall. There was a genuine warmth and pride that suffused his normally stolid tone.

"T-thank you, Sensei," his student stammered in appreciation, bowing deeply. It was the first time his venerable master had ever deigned speak to him in tones that were anything less than those of stern commandment. The boy turned away from his master for a moment, regarding the patch of forest into which the young girl had skipped. His thoughts momentarily flashing to wonder about where she might be at this moment, and the frame of her radiant smiling face.

The next instant, a searing flash of pain as a blade impacted his back, grinding and tearing, severing his spinal column in two. Before he knew what was happening, he was on the ground, dumbstruck, faint, every heartbeat-pump lowering his blood pressure. He gurgled and looked up to see his master standing before him the sentinel sphere whirring about his person. The silvery orb's projected cutting blade coated in what could only be blood.

"Truly," the scholar began slowly, eyes dull and without remorse, "you are formidable, but to so empower the weak by allowing them to live in the face of superior might through means not of their own making is to encourage weakness in others and saps your own strength."

Watching the boy's body twitch and spasm in frantic convulsion, sloshing in an ever growing pool of its own lifesblood, he walked slowly past the soon-to-be corpse, which looked back up at him with glassy dead accusatory eyes. The scholar simply ran a hand through his hair, saddened at the lamentable fate of pitiable trash. Exhaling, he resumed his readings.

Moving on, there was still one straggler to put down, but he would be found in time all. Things came to those who waited.

Kusanagi

The sacred Imperial Sword of Shinto lore.

The Legends

Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi is a legendary Japanese sword as important to Japan's history as Excalibur is to Britain's, and is one of three Imperial Regalia of Japan. It is actually called Ame-no-Murakumo-no-Tsurugi, Sword of the Gathering Clouds of Heaven, but it is more popularly called Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi, Grass-Cutting Sword, or more probably, Sword of Snake. It may also be called Tsumugari-no-Tachi.

The history of this sword extends into legend, when the Japanese god Susano-o-no-Mikoto encountered a grieving family headed by Ashi-na-Zuchi. Upon inquiry, the elder told that his family was ravaged by the fearsome 8-headed serpent Orochi of Koshi, who had consumed seven of the family's eight daughters, and the creature was coming for his final daughter, Kushi-Nada-Hime.

Susano proceeded to investigate the creature, and after an abortive encounter, he returned with a plan to defeat it. In return, he asked for Kushi-Nada-Hime's hand in marriage, which was agreed. Transforming her temporarily into a comb to have her company during the battle, Susano detailed his plan. He instructed the preparation of 8 vats of sake to be put on individual platforms positioned behind a fence with 8 gates. The monster took the bait and put each of its heads through each of the gates. With the necessary distraction provided, Susano attacked and slew the beast, decapitating each of the heads, and then proceeding to the tails. In the fourth tail, he discovered a great sword inside the body with Susan-o, which he called Murakakumo-no-Tsurugi, Sword of the Village of teh Clustering Clouds, which he presented to the god Amaterasu to settle an old grievance.

Generations later, in the reign of the 12th Emperor, Keiko, the sword was given to the great warrior Yamato-Dake as part of a pair of gifts given by his aunt Yamato-Hime to protect his nephew. In peril, these gifts came in handy. When Yamato-Dake was lured onto an open grassland during a hunting expedition by a treacherous Daimyo, the lord had fire arrows fired to ignite the grass to trap Yamato-Dake in the field and have him burn to death, and killed the warrior's horse to prevent his escape. Desperately, Yamato-Dake used Murakakumo-no-Tsurugi to cut back the grass to remove fuel from the fire, but in doing so, he discovered that the sword enabled him to control the wind around him, to make it move in the direction he swung. Taking advantage of the magic, Yamato-Dake used his other gift, fire strikers, to enlarge the fire in the direction of the Daimyo and his men, and used the winds, controlled by the sword, to sweep the blaze toward them to kill them. In triumph, Yamato-Dake renamed Murakakumo-no-Tsurugi as Kusanagi--Grasscutter--to commemorate his narrow escape and victory.

Later, Yamato-Dake married and fell in battle with a monster after ignoring his wife's advice to take Kusanagi with him. Eventually, the sword came into the possession of the Emperor until the battle of Dannoura, a naval battle that ended in the defeat of the forces of the child Emperor Antoku at the hands of Minomoto Yoshitsune. Upon hearing of the defeat, the Emperor's grandmother led the Emporer and his entourage to commit seppuku in the waters of the strait, along with three important artifacts which included Kusanagi. Although the enemy managed to stop a handful of them and recovered two of the three items of the Emperor, Kusanagi was never found.

Her Story: Sword Dancer

leaning against the tree

an impish smile with half moon eyes

jaunty firm hips bracing her blade

the lick of her lips

the curves of her chest

salacious invitations to lazy delights under the summer sun

a touch

an embrace

the heat of lips to flesh

a glint of steel

the spray of blood

crumpling

falling

dead man man's pitable clutch

twinkling laughter across the dawn

the huntress dance enchants her helpless prey

Hachiman

God of eight banners, the Shinto deity of war.

The Legends

Hachiman is the Shinto god of war and divine protector of Japan and the Japanese people. The name means god of eight banners, referring to the eight heavenly banners that signaled the birth of the divine emperor . His symbolic animal and messenger is the dove. Since ancient times, Hachiman was worshipped by peasants as the god of agriculture, and by fishermen who hoped he would fill their nets with much fish. In the Shinto religion, he became identified by legend as the Emperor u8c58djin, son of Empress Consort jingu8c5ab, from the 3rd - 4th century AD.

However, after the arrival of Buddhism in Japan, Hachiman became a syncretistic deity, a harmonization of the native Shinto religion with Buddhism in the Buddhist pantheon. In 8th century AD, he became associated with the great Bodhisattva Daibosatsu. Hachiman also came to be noted as the guardian of the Minamoto clan of Samurai. Minamoto no Yoshiie, upon coming of age at Iwashimizu Shrine in Kyoto, took the name Hachiman Taro Yoshiie, and through his military prowess and virtue as a leader, became regarded and respected as the ideal Samurai through the ages. After his descendant, Minamoto no Yoritomo, became shogun and established the Kamakura Shogunate, he rebuilt Tsurugaoka Hachiman shrine in Kamakura, Japan, and started the reverence of Hachiman as the guardian of his clan.

His Story: God of War

Lucifer was a giant slab of a man ensconced in a walking sarcophagus of steel and alloy. Heavy and implacable, it had been generations since anyone had seen his face. His speech--when he did speak, which was a rarity--was filtered and lowered by the air-processors mounted in the inhuman mask-wrap of steel and glass that passed for a head perched atop his bulky shell of a body. No one knew if Lucifer was man, machine, or some unholy abomination of both. All that was known was that he brought death in his wake. His massive armored suit whirred and clanked with unnatural severity as he moved, seemingly as light as a feather, his massive hands crushing the light out of any fool unfortunate enough to get in his way.

"God of war?" Lucifer asked contemptuously, his words deep and asthmatic through his suit, looking at the small card that had been handed to him by the man who now lay before him on the ground, helpless, puny, unprotected by steel or shell. So weak, so useless a creature. "I am war."

Placing the card inside a compartment carrier in his mechanized suit, Lucifer looked down upon the insect who writhed before him. A strong muscular sort, one who trusted too much to the development of the flesh rather than the machine.

"I shall keep this trophy to remember the moment when I crushed your so-called 'godhood' beneath my feet."

Lucifer raised a thick, armored leg, the hydraulics in his suit whirring as his massive limb cast a shadow over the blue eyes of his soon to be crushed foe. Then there was an explosion of light from within his armor as it cracked and twisted, deformed from the inside by an unholy expulsion of force. A girl--a perverse twisted sort of angelic wraith--had split from his armored breast like a chick from an egg. Her clawed, taloned, hands digging into his neck, twisting, snapping, cutting, and breaking wires, and sparks shot out from Lucifer lucifer's exposed chest, giant chunks of metal falling away to reveal a thin, wither-wizened, almost stick like parody of a human being, connected by hoses and tubes to a vast mechanical apparatus.

Clanking sideways to the ground with a thunderous crash, Lucifer twitched once and lay still, metal suit now serving as inert restraint as what little remained of the flesh struggled for futile escape. The harpy-wraith, now digging her teeth into the dessicated flesh, tearing and shearing for sheer carnal delight in the rending. Smirking, the man who was moments ago merely prey stood up, dusting off his jacket and flicking his hand, commanding the harpy to return to its former shape as a business card. Chuckling, he pocketed the card, took one last look at the sparking, smouldering, remains of what had once been called the universe's ultimate warrior, and smirked. Walking off, his words wafting on the wind.

"No matter the odds, the deck is always stacked in my favor."

Other Members

The Clan of the Steel Fist appears to attract a fair amount of people, due to their godly titles and their promises. The followers of the head three, commonly known to them as worshipers, are used differently depending on the exact leader they follow. Monju, Kusanagi, and Hachiman all appear to have greatly varying ways of treating their followers.

The Cult of Monju

Monju's cult was introduced to Japan by Ennin

794-864 AD. A monk who visited Wutaishan, a five-terraced mountain in China's Shanxi province that was a major center of the Monju cult during his travels to China.

838-47 AD. With the return of Monju, the cult has resurfaced in Tokyo and the surrounding area, hundreds of followers worshiping the Buddhist god.

Aizen-Myoo

The Japanese buddhist deity of lust suppression.

Kojin

The goddess of the kitchen and of ancient trees.

Followers of Kusanagi

Uzume

Shinto goddess of dancing.

Kannon Bosatsu

Goddess of compassion and mercy.

Followers of Hachiman

Jurojin

Good fortune god and one of the Shichi-Fuku-Jin, Seven Lucky Gods


Followers of rei-bot

Valeria Xadium Aino - She was taught directly on Venus by rei-bot before reibot came to Earth. Unlike the others, she did not have an alter ego.