(In case you were wondering about the odd chapter name…I was listening to this song while writing part of this story, and I liked the line ;-P Akiko Shikata – Akakushi )
In the days that followed several more assassination attempts had been made on my life, most of which had been stopped before they even really began based on information acquired by Kanren Umibozu and his team, as well as Kabuki Queen and her spy network.
A few of them had been more noteworthy however, on one occasion for example an unknown infiltrator had somehow managed to replace the soap in my bathrooms soap dispenser with highly corrosive acid, a fact which “luckily” my bodyguard/housekeeper Yuki found out before me as she tried to wash some cleaning oil off her hands, only to find her hands missing soon afterwards.
Naturally the amount of complaints and heroic “I saved your arse there didn’t I?” quotes from Yuki following that incident made me almost wish I had washed out my ears before her, but truth be told this one was too close for comfort indeed, and it was never found out who actually had managed to so easily breach my security systems and even remain undetected by Yuki.
On other occasions a bridge had been detonated while my transport was on it, causing several civilian casualties and a brutal headache for me the next morning when I woke up next to Sophotect Akaseni in the Neon-jo’s medical facility, and a group of children walking towards me on the sideways turned out to be a bunch of dressed up crazy koalas, resulting in two dead Bao Troopers as well as a thank you letter of mine towards the “Ten no Bushi” development center that had come up with my enhanced reaction systems.
At first these assassination attempts seemed very odd and a bit “out of nowhere” given that I had always been a big supporter of the Japanese communities within Yu Jing, at least to the small degree I had any influence on these matters at all, and to this day I could proudly claim that I never “wasted” Japanese lives during my operations like so many other Yu Jing officers apparently did when using the JSA Assault units under their command, but these days showed that something bigger was going on in the shadows, something that even assassination attempts on a Yu Jing Field Marshal paled against.
The Spy Information Network was rampant with all sorts of speculations, little tidbits of intel, mention of a black ops mission here, a missing person there, a successful assassination of a Yu Jing official on one side, a suddenly missing Japanese battalion on the other, but nobody managed to get the bigger picture together, or at least not in time before it was too late.
I was about to leave for an emergency staff meeting in the Neon-jo when Yuki suddenly called out for me to “Get your ass in here, you might want to take a look at this”, which I begrudgingly did after realizing that her tone wasn’t so much smug superiority like it usually was, but rather honest concern.
What I saw next would change my life from that moment onwards, as I saw a live broadcast of a group of Japanese men dressed in white funeral garments, next to a flashy dressed woman called Candy-something-something who’s show this apparently was, sitting in a dark traditional Japanese room, their swords next to them as well as a few other Japanese men standing next to each sitting person. The front one of them was holding a piece of paper with Japanese calligraphy on it in his hands, and though it took me a few moments to realize it, it was my father, who uttered the words spoken next.
“We, the seven Bushi present here in this room, hereby announce that the assassination of Minister Fu Meng Huo, as well as the explosion destroying most of the Meng Huo Company headquarter, was planned and executed by us.
Minister Fu Meng Huo has continuously caused harm to the Japanese citizens of this nation, his company kidnapping unwilling Japanese inhabitants of Kuraimori and using them for horrible human experiments, and some of his products have been mixed into the water and food system of certain Kuraimori districts without the knowledge of its inhabitants, the side effects of which caused incredible suffering and countless “unexplained” deaths among the affected, all in the name of petty profit.
Attempts to stop this horrible behavior have been blocked by the Yu Jing ministry of commerce and internal affairs, with reasons like “You have no proof”, “It’s for the greater good” or “This has been sanctioned by all required instances” being given, but we ask you, how can the unnecessary suffering of innocent children and citizens be for the greater good? How can an act like this ever be sanctioned by any reasonable institution? What more proof does one need then his own dead child in his own shaking hands?
We say there is no excuse for such behavior, and thus we took action where our country and our fake “Emperor” failed to, we did what was necessary for our people and our future, and now we are here to take responsibility, so that no one else shall suffer for our actions like they did for other’s inaction.
May our sacrifice serve as a warning to those in power who neglect their duty, the Japanese have suffered more than enough; it’s time for change….”
And with this, my father and the other 6 men sitting in the room unsheathed their swords, and committed Seppuku together, the standing men next to them beheading them as they did, cutting right where their Cubes were placed to ensure true death, as was tradition since the advent of Cubes in the Bushi culture when reanimation was not acceptable.
The broadcast then continued with a documentary descriptions of the events that had lead up to this event, as well as some background on each of the men present in the room by the moderator Candy-something-something, but at that point I was barely able to notice my surroundings anymore, blood rushing through my head like a roaring tide, panic and confusion and sadness mixing together into a hurricane of emotions that forced me to drop on the couch, all thoughts of the upcoming meeting forgotten.
I had to find out what the hell was going on and why nobody had told me about this before it happened, I had to ensure that this wouldn’t fall back on me or the rest of my family, ruining my career or my family’s company/family honour…..I had to visit my parents’ home in Japan…talk to my mother to find out why dad had done this…..had to leave before the ISS would come and question me about this….I had to…..and the world went dark.
The next thing I noticed was the scent of some sort of fruit as well as freshly washed clothes, followed by the feeling of laying on something soft which felt oddly familiar and alien at the same time.
Not sure where I was I decided against opening my eyes or making any movement other than what I might have made unconsciously while waking up, and instead tried to listen as closely as possible to my surroundings while trying to feel what was going on with my body as well.
A humming noise as well as occasional shaking made it obvious that I was in some sort of moving vehicle, and if the way the shaking moved me was any indication, I was lying sideways. I tried to figure out whether or not I was restrained, mostly because I expected to be in the custody of the local ISS authorities by now and on my way to interrogation or execution, depending on whomever was doing the investigation and how little trust I had managed to gain in the last few months, but without making any obvious movement it was almost impossible to determine whether I was wearing any sort of cuffs or other restraint devices.
Suddenly some sort of movement seemed to happen right next to me, with my head shifting slightly forward causing some unpleasant feelings of vertigo, and as I strained my ears even more in hopes of hearing anything more useful in my surrounding about what was going on, a sudden almost unbearable loud seeming “I know you are awake O-san…would you mind sitting up? This is embarrassing…” exploded right next to my ear.
Shocked by the horribly loud seeming yet somehow familiar voice right next to my ear, I instantly rose upwards, ending up in a sitting position as I opened my eyes, realizing that I had been laying on a bench in some sort of limousine or transporter all this time.
As I inspected my surroundings a bit better I realized that I had not only been laying on the bench of the vehicle I was in, but apparently my head had been resting on the lap of Yuki, and I could have sworn that her head turned a bit red as I quickly looked away from her lap after realizing that, though I’m pretty sure that must have been my imagination, as I doubt she even COULD get red on her face…
“I…I wasn’t…you…you kept wobbling off the bench, so I had to steady your head obviously! Wouldn’t want you to die from falling off the bench after this much effort was made to save you, you know right? It was totally gross by the way, I’ll totally need to clean my clothes after this…”came the annoyed and hasty reply of Yuki right afterwards, but I didn’t much care for it, as I was still too confused and busy taking in what the hell was going on around me.
“It’s alright Yuki, I’m sorry for the discomfort I caused you….now if you wouldn’t mind…could you tell me what exactly is going on?” I was apparently alone in the vehicle with Yuki, the driver compartment sealed off from the area I was sitting in with Yuki.
Before Yuki could answer a Racoon “Geist” suddenly materialized on the bench in front of me, only visible to me and those granted access to my Patina obviously, which did include Yuki by the way. The little creature was the all too familiar representation of “Kabuki Queen” I had grown to trust and enjoy throughout those last months and even years.
This time the Raccoon “Geist” (It’s actually more like a Ghost Avatar, but let’s not get into too much details here) was wearing a big straw hat and a giant sake gourd in his hand, and looked around all sneakily and conspiring before whispering “Don’t worry Oyabun, I’ve got you covered…” As it said so it wobbled forwards on the ground and flipped its hat from his head into his hand and presented it in front of me like the Yakuza tended to do in all those old holo flicks while bending down.
I couldn’t resist a smirk, and as the Raccoon saw that it burst out into a chuckle as well and hopped back on the couch, taking a sip from its gourd and tossing the straw hat to the side of the limousine where it vanished into thin air. “It’s been a close call this time! You might think you have fallen unconscious due to the stress of the whole situation, but that was actually the ISS flooding your room with gas to capture you more easily, they already had a team in front of your door waiting to breach and take out Yuki once the gas took care of you. But luckily some of our friends got wind of this setup and I managed to prepare a little “surprise” for the team. Don’t worry, nobody you know got hurt…who knows, they might still be useful in the future….anyways…”
The Racoon made a little pause there to allow me to take in this information, and as a little anger crawled onto my facial expression due to the apparent ambush being laid on me without my knowledge, it continued “I managed to send a warning to Yuki just in time and she managed to escape with you through the window and eventually to one of the automated garbage disposal trucks which I managed to “confiscate”, which brought you to safety. From there it was just a little fake identity, false flight records, a bit of ka-ching here, a bit of ninja-ing there, and a good contact on one of the circulars, and voila…you’re here…”
At the mention of the Circular my jaw almost dropped to the floor. “Wait…what? How long have I been out?!”
The Raccoon just nodded and moved its hand towards the window of the vehicle, at which point it began to slide down, blowing the scent of my surroundings inside with a strong gust of wind, which also revealed that I was in a flying vehicle in the air. “Well….for quite a while to be honest, we kept you sleeping to avoid complications during the transit…you are actually on…”
“Earth…..” I cut her short as I took a deep breath and recognized the unmistakably familiar scent of old Earth. Those of you who had the privilege to travel to several planets obviously know of this, but every planet has its own kind of “scent” to it, no matter where on the planet you are, and even though I hadn’t been on Earth for quite a while, the scent still felt strangely nostalgic to me.
The Raccoon continued as I noticed the vehicle quickly started a descending flight pattern “Indeed, to be more precise, Japan. As you might imagine an endeavor like this isn’t done easily, and we had a little help…”
As the vehicle descended further and further, a rooftop suddenly appeared below it as the clouds parted, and on top of it a giant holo logo manifested itself which was all too familiar to me. Mount Fuyi on a snowy day with a blooming cherry tree in front of it…..the Logo of the Fuyu Clan….the Logo I had been bearing ever since I was born.
As the vehicle landed and made a small rotation at the end, I saw a stunning yet very traditional looking female standing there in a modern Kimono, her hands folded before her as she slightly bowed and then nodded at me. “Hello Son….”