CLOSED SIGNUPS Two Times, One Sword (Closed)

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Hanako stood in the center of the kitchen as Reo started to pulled out the fish from the fridge and Itsumi was setting up the table for three. Itsumi had taken a chair from the room adjacent to the kitchen; it was like the other chairs but had been stashed away, hidden from sight. Hanako even noticed that Itsumi had only taken two plates, out of habit, before correcting herself with three. Hanako was frozen in place unsure what to do with the two bustling around her.

"How can I help?" said Hanako.
"You should rest some more." said Reo. "I'll call you when supper's ready."
"Alright." Hanako cast her eyes aside and shifted along a wall to get out of the kitchen.

She made her way back to the guest room where she had woken up, and lay on top of the covers in a sideways position. The pillow felt good against her throbbing temple. She closed her eyes, but she didn't sleep. She heard the door as it softly closed. Hanako tried to control her breathing as her mind strained to fight off the thoughts that she didn't belong here, that she would eventually crumble under the pressure to seem normal to the people she had just met. The thoughts seemed like they would never pass, until a sudden wash of warmth came over her, and she could feel the muscles around her eyes relax. It was rare to not have anything be asked of her to do. It was nice, even if it was only for a time.

"Hanako, supper!"
The time really passed so quickly? Hanako opened her eyes and went to the kitchen where she saw the plates laid out on the table. She pulled back a chair and tucked her dress as she sat down, while Rea and Itsumi were looking at her. Hanako touched her hair. Was it messy?
"Something the matter?" said Hanako.
"If you're still tired, I can reheat it for you later." said Reo.
"I'm alright." said Hanako. "Thank you." She did still feel very empty.

The two started to eat their fish, though Reo was continuing to take glances at Hanako, who didn't pick up her utensils. Hanako watched as Reo and Itsumi ate, trying to learn the procedure well enough to mimic them. Ayako shoving processed crackers in Yori's face and having him gulp down vitamins with water was nowhere close to this. She held the utensils very carefully, lightly, making a cut on the fish like it was an incision, then placing the morsel in her mouth like she saw. The new sensation of taste overwhelmed her. She pressed down her lips hard and swallowed before coughing.

"It's bad?" said Reo.
Hanako shook her head.
"Daddy's sweet fish is the best!" Itsumi chirped, her face covered in sauce. Reo raised his hand with a napkin and started to dab his own face. Itsumi mimicked him, understanding the cue.
Hanako continued to make incisions into the fish, and although she was quicker to get morsels in her mouth for the taste, the procedure remained very methodical.
"There's no need to be so polite, Hanako." Reo chuckled.
Hanako relaxed and cut bigger pieces. This eating thing was getting to be fun. Before she knew it, however, the experience ended.
"All gone." said Itsumi.
"Go on, then." said Reo. "Wash your face."
 

Tone 6th

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It was nice having sometime where things were just calm, normal even. Hanako had never had something like this as most of her life was fighting and turmoil. She helped clean up when dinner was all said and done, a smile on her face.

"Hey you want some pudding?" Reo handed her a cup and a spoon.

"Pudding? What is it?" she had always heard of it but didn't really know what it was.

He peeled open the seal and handed it to her "Just try it." he laughed a little.

She took a spoonful into her mouth and her eyes lit up. It was thick, sweet, and had this flavor that made her so happy. "This is amazing!" she took another bite.

"Wow so you're a big fan of vanilla pudding." he got two more and gave one to Isume. "One pudding then brush your teeth and off to bed."

"Okay daddy." Isume smiled.

The three sat on the couch and watched tv while joying their desert. Soon enough it was time for bed, Isume starting to nod off. "Come on sweetie lets get you to bed." Reo smiled and carried the girl in his arms.

"Daddy I want Hanako to cuddle with me." the little one murmured.

Reo looked back to Hanako "Would you mind?" he gave a small smile.

"I um... no it's the least I can do." she walked into the little girls bedroom and laid down next to her. Reo kissed his daughter good night and let the girls sleep. Hanako was at a loss for what to do next, she was never this warm with Yori. She just lay next to the little one frozen as to what to do.

Isume grabbed Hanako's arm and draped it over her. Isume was warm and tender, Hanako couldn't help but lean into the child a little and smile. What was this feeling?

-------
A loud crash woke Hanako from her sleep. She heard voices from the living room.

"Wheres the money Reo? You're late on your protection money AGAIN!" a man yelled.

"I told you I have a huge load of work this week and I can get you the money at the end of the week!" Reo tried to explain.

"That's what you said last week!" there was another loud crash and the sound of something breaking. "Tell me Reo does a mechanic need both legs to work on cars?" *CRACK!* The sickening sound of bones breaking exploded in the house.

"AH!" Reo yelled.

Isume woke up and started to cry softly to herself, shaking with fear.

"Stay here." Hanako got up and went to see what was going on. Three thugs were in the living room, the tv broken, and Reo on the floor with a busted leg.

A thug with a bat, the leader, saw Hanako and smirked "Aw looks like Reo has a new squeeze you guys!" he laughed. "What's your name sweetheart?"

She ignored them and went to help Reo "Are you alright?"

"Hanako you have to take Isume and run...." he whispered in pain.

"Hey bitch I'm talking to you!" the leader hit her in the back with his bat. Everything went black for a moment then it all went red, a rage filling the woman.

"Don't you fucking touch me!" she leaped up from floor and drove a punch into the thugs stomach. The consumed Hanako like fire, a twisted smile coming across her face.

"It's not nice to hit a lady you know." she grabbed the bat and dug her feet into the ground. She swung hard from the leaders head but he managed to duck. *CRACK!* She hit the one beside him and his arm exploded in a rain of bone fragments and blood, the bat snapping in half.

"AH!" the thug screamed out in pain. "MY FUCKING AR-!" before he could finish his cry Hanako had her hand around his mouth.

"Shhhhh a little girl is trying to sleep." she started to squeeze and the mans skull started to break. There was a loud crunch and the thug went limp. She dropped him to the floor and looked at the others with a wicked smile.
 
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The leader was crumpled on the ground from the force of the punch of the woman. Bones of his rib cage had shattered, impaling his lungs; he couldn't even wheeze out the air he already lost, choking on his blood. The last thing he saw was the bottom of woman's face and her wicked smile as his consciousness faded in black.

The last thug's expression remained cold despite the harrowing scene. Hanako looked into the eyes of the man. He was young, just like Reo, but his eyes were different than Reo's. His were blank and alien, a killer's eyes. He crouched down slightly, establishing eye contact with the woman, seeing the blood thirsty eyes of a maniac. She knew the dance. They circled each other with slow and deliberate steps, like a ritual. Hanako's ankle twisted, causing her to stumble and that's when the last thug sprang at her with switchblade snapping out as though it was summoned. Hanako's ankle snapped back quicker than she had twisted it to regain her footing; the pain was excrutiating but the feint had served its purpose.

Hanako could see all at once the technique. A human's attention would likely only see the switchblade thrusting towards them, instead of the thin ice pick painted black in the other hand. It also wouldn't have noticed the clothes were baggy at the elbows, enough to give the illusion that his arms were bent far more than what they appeared on the surface. Together it was a multi-layered deception of misdirection and timing.

Hanako's hands already followed both of his in the seconds that bridged the gap, and had grabbed both of his wrists. With a fluid motion, she snapped the elbow of the arm to plunge the hidden ice pick into the thug's opposite shoulder, and the switchblade fell from his other hand. Abrubtly, the thug shoved the pick further downward at another angle, creating a larger gash, desperate to fight till the last breath, until finally he was lifeless. She punched his flat mannequin face repeatedly in a rage until it was pulp. Each crash of her fist tore flesh and broke bone. She needed one person to interrogate.

All Hanako could hear now was Reo's unsteady breathing, and weeping. Hanako took one of the kneeling pillows used to watch TV and put Reo's head there. Hanako tore strips from the clothes of the largest body, which was the leader, and broke off part of the floorboards to make a basic splint.

"You got booze?" said Hanako. Reo looked confused, but shook his head. He was barely conscious. Hanako patted down the corpses again and found a flask. Without even asking Reo she forced him to drink the entire thing, and stuffed his mouth with thick strips to bite down on. Again, without warning, she snapped the leg into place. Reo's muffled screams got through the gag, and Hanako got to work on finishing the splint.
 

Tone 6th

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She tied the last of the knots around the splint "There all d-" she stopped and frowned, Reo had passed out. She let out a sigh and carefully picked the man up to take him to his room. She came back out and looked at the mess around the room "Fuck..." she hated that she lost control so easily. She drug the bodies out in to the backyard, and into a tool shed. One by one she hacked them up and put them in bags, then gathered them up and burned them in a pile. She made sure to bury what was left, then went inside to clean up the living room. When all was said and done she was exhausted, opting to pass out on the couch.

When she awoke there was the sound of clanking coming from the basement.
 
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Hanako ran downstairs without a second thought. Jumping past about a quarter of the bottom stairs she turned to see several tools strewn about a workbench and a toppled metal tool case. Reo was on his side on the floor, pushing himself off the floor with great effort, but not being able to get off the ground as his leg was still immobilized by the splint. She pulled out the metal stool away from underneath the workbench a good distance and bent her knees to hoisted Reo from the armpits, guiding him to balance himself on the stool with his hands, and then turning him around to sit. Reo was rolling one of his wrists, having instinctively used his hand to break his sudden fall.

"You should be in bed." said Hanako.
"I have to have my tools ready to go to work tomorrow."
"With a broken leg?"
"I need to work."
"Not with a broken leg!" Hanako shouted.
"I have to put food on the table, pay bills."
"It still doesn't change the fact that-"
"I know," Reo interrupted. "but I have to do something. Itsumi needs me."
Hanako grabbed Reo's aching hand and pressed down into the joints to loosen the muscles.

"Then I'll work."
"Down at my shop?" Reo challenged. "You're a mechanic?"
"No." admitted Hanako, "but I can learn." Mei had learned, after all, how to be a robot surgeon, when the need called for it.
"It's not something that you can just pick up. It's hard work."
Hanako looked into Reo's eyes. "I have to help." She put down the hand she was massaging and placed it back onto Reo's thigh. Reo still looked skeptical, but Hanako knew it couldn't be avoided. She was still a stranger to this place, and he didn't know her lifetimes of past struggles.
"I will guide you on preparing the toolkit, cleaning and oiling and whatnot." said Reo. "Tomorrow you can drive me to my shop after Itsumi leaves for school on the bus. From there, I'll see what you can do. Let's get to it."
Hanako breathed out, but still looked agitated.

"There is one more thing we need to talk about first." Hanako's face had darkened as she put her hands together to focus before raising her accusing eyes. "Why were those goons here?"
"Protection money." Reo stammered. "Like they said."
"It's more than that."
"It isn't. If I knew they were coming, I would've met them outside the house." Reo retorted, fortifying his defense. "I would never unnecessarily put you or Istumi in danger."
"So they kicked your door in and broke your leg just to make a point? What about the part where you make the money? It makes no sense."
"Some people are that short sighted." Reo's expression changed from a defensive grimace to a mixed look of horror and sadness. "They didn't - hurt you, did they?"
"I'm alright." said Hanako softly. She could feel the sadness of Reo's voice disarm her from within, dissolving her paranoia. "They're gone at least."

Reo gestured to the scattered tools on the table. Hanako nodded. Reo started giving her simple directions first, taking into account the inventory and organizing the wrenches. When the more advanced instructions came, Reo was surprised to see that Hanako was very good at listening, as well as working aptly with her hands to disassemble and reassemble the power drill for cleaning. To Hanako, it was very much like disassembling, cleaning, and reassembling a gun. Hanako hadn't spoken a word during the whole ordeal, looking only at her task and simply executing Reo's instructions.

"I'm sorry." said Reo. "For doubting you, I mean. I --"
"It's okay." said Hanako. She allowed her face to relax after concentrating her focus to make sure she made no error. Sweat because of the heat lamp and oil from the cleaning rag coated her fingers and palm. She helped Reo get off the chair by slinging his arm around her shoulder and guiding him up the stairs with a hand on his chest to keep him from falling forward as Reo jumped on one leg one step at a time. They made it back to Reo's bedroom, where Hanako simply laid him back where she had left him the first time.

"Could you check on Itsumi again for me?" said Reo. "She doesn't like to go to sleep."
"Like her father. Of course I will."
Reo chuckled, and closed his eyes with a smile on his face before drifting to sleep.
 

Tone 6th

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Time passed, and things started to get better for Hanako. She picked up quickly on fixing cars, though there were plenty of long sleepless nights. Adapting to her new body went smoothly as well, being human wasn't so bad. She kept to the same strict training regiment though, exercise, mental stimulation, and now meditation. Mei always told her it was important to meditate, but she never really went for it outside of the few times she did. Now she found it centering, relaxing even.

After training it was time to check in on Reo and the work load, most days were pretty busy. She helped where she could, oil changes, replacing breaks, ect. She had come to know a few people in the slums, making friends here and there. When the work was done she'd help with dinner, playing with Itsumi, getting her to bed, then retiring to her own room.

She had made the quite home for herself, customizing her room with posters and the like. She had a computer and used it to do her own work, freelance programming. It was like a second langue to her, so why not make some money doing it? Eventually she had a good gig going companies were coming to her left and right with work. Of course she never used her real name, used a fake bank account, and never met in person.

Eventually she worked up enough money to start investing in the stock market. While looking through companies she came across a name that sent a shiver down her spine "Iyoshi". They were big in the solar industry, but how? She continued to dig into the company and it all seemed legit on paper. Hanako couldn't help but wonder if some how Jiro manipulated the timeline to give his family all this wealth. He was pretty buddy buddy with the gods he loved... that has to it. He cheated and got away with it, but she cheated and lost everything. It wasn't fair! A rage started to burn in Hanako's gut "Fuck you Jiro." she cured. She needed to do something, this bullshit wasn't right.... but what?
 
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She leaned back in her computer chair. What could she do?

The first plan she considered was buying the stock right under Ieyoshi noses until she owned the majority of the company, but there were several problems with this. The first pitfall was that each stock sold in the thousands; it would take her too much time to come up with an amount. Second, stock ownership couldn't be falsified like a bank account could. Once she made her play to flip the company, the IRS would be at her door. Third and most importantly, after Hanako read the shareholder agreements, it was clear she couldn't get power this way, with the minority holding veto. There were other ways, however, to sabotage. Hanako allowed herself to daydream recruiting some moles in the Ieyoshi company, or hack into their databases and infect them with viruses she'd been cooking up in her spare time. She looked up her own created record of online clients she had worked for in the past. The programming contracts she worked on were all through legal channels, though she kept herself anonymous. She'd have to go on the dark web.

Hanako heard Itsumi knock at her door. Hanako looked at the clock to realize that it was getting late. She got off her chair as Itsumi walked towards her for a good night hug. Hanako was tired after a long day's work both as a mechanic and part time programmer. It frightered her to know that it had become routine, and that her fantasies of revenge were so out of place in her new life. The ritual of hugging Itsumi, walking her to her bedroom, and singing a lulliby, dulled the jealousy and hate she felt for the Ieyoshi family that manipulated time for their profit, though it didn't remove it. She turned around to see Reo by the door, looking down at Itsumi now sound asleep. The leg that had been broken had mostly healed up, though he was leaning on his opposite leg to stand. He turned and hobbled down the hall back to the living room. Hanako followed, silently closed the door behind her.
She thought about going back to her computer, but she needed a break from thinking about the Ieyoshi family. She instead went to Reo and sat beside him on the sofa. He nudged away to give her space.

"You'll be happy to hear that another wire transfer just got confirmed into our joint account." said Hanako. Reo didn't say anything. "What's wrong?" said Hanako. The routine had kept them at a constant distance, like they were on the sofa.
"You have done so much for us." said Reo. "I'm not sure what I've done to deserve it. You deserve to have your own money, too."
"You were the one that saved me from the streets. You trusted me. You gave me life." It pained her to see Reo like this. She grabbed his hand. Reo squeezed Hanako's hand in assurance, though the pained look didn't leave his eyes. Hanako leaned in to kiss him, but pulled back when Reo's head turned. Hanako let go of his hand. Despite all this time living together, they weren't ready?
"Good night, Hanako." said Reo. He stood up on his own and started to walk towards his bedroom. Hanako could feel the cold emptiness inside grow. She sat alone in the dark, not thinking about anything else other than Reo. She stood up after a long while and walked towards her own room, but stopped at the door. Hanako tried to draw her thoughts back to revenge to distract herself, but they were drowning in void. She looked down the hall one last time before entering her room. She laid on top of the covers and closed her eyes, though she didn't sleep.
 

Tone 6th

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"So man what do you think now that you've had a few weeks to adjust? I know our future isn't nearly as trashed as yours but I think you'll come to enjoy it." Hiroki smiled. "You can finally rest."

Yori wanted to believe Hiroki, that he could rest, but Neza was still a threat.
 
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Hiroki and Yori were by the lake. Hiroki was the only one talking at the moment, as Yori seemed more focused on swordplay than talking, going through the motions of the improved style that Yoko and experience in the past helped develop.

"At least take a break." said Hiroki.
Yori sighed and sheathed his sword, then sat down on the grass. Hiroki sat down with him.

"She's still out there." said Yori.
"What makes you say that?" Hiroki said rhetorically. Hiroki had to admit to himself that Yori's constant paranoia was grating, but he was adept at hiding his frustration.
"She knows how to use the Stones, and she doesn't make mistakes. Her plans are already in motion, and I don't even know what they are."
"What plans? There has been no major crime reported recently." Hiroki said.
"She'll stay in hiding as long as we allow it."
"Allow?!" shouted Hiroki. "I'm using the resources of my company to track criminal activity along with law enforcement. When I say there is no major crime reported, I back up with reports."
"I'm sorry for offending you. I meant no disrespect."
"Forget that overly formal talk, and it's okay." assured Hiroki. "I'm just mad because I'd like to see you enjoy yourself for a change. When was the last time you've had fun?"
As messed up as it was, the last time Yori really had fun was when he was in Death's domain, at the festival, and with the innkeeper. He continued to look pensive.
"You're that worried." said Hiroki. "Whatever mythology you surround Neza with isn't real. She's not perfect and makes mistakes. One mistake, and it'll be the end for her."
"What should we do?" asked Yori.
"Right now we need to get rid of the cloud above your head." said Hiroki. "We're going to party."

He really did want to see Yori feel better. Yori might believe all that mattered in being combat ready was his training, but it was just as important to know when to wind down. His old life sounded unrelenting, not being able to answer the last time he had fun; it was as if in his future, every moment could explode into violence. Yori and Hiroki learned together from Amaterasu and the other gods and goddesses that Yori was a cyborg. With Yori's returned memory, he filled in the blanks of how he was vat born and modified, raised to be a soldier. Hiroki refused to believe this took away his humanity, but merely dulled it.
 

Tone 6th

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Hiroki took Yori out for a night on the town. It took a few drinks but Yori finally started to loosen up, and Hiroki was pretty well buzzed. "That's what I'm saying man! Everyone is sssso into Ammmomterasu, but I mean come on fuckin.... Kissoten is cuter!" he laughed.

"But she's like.... dead right?" Yori leaned in.

"NO! No.. thats a comin mistake, Gods are dead dude." he whispered.

"Oh... I don't she's kind of creepy." Yori sipped his drink.

Hiroki shrugged "Shess cute..."

"Ladies and gentlemen karaoke is now open." an announcer said from a stage.

Hiroki smirked and Yori "Oh no I'm not going to-" before Yori could finish his senescent they were up on stage. Hiroki picked a song they would both know and started. He couldn't sing at all, but damn was he having fun. For a while Yori stood there, not knowing what to do, but eventually he gave up. He grabbed the mic and both of them belted out a horrible balled. It felt good to have fun again, and this would continue long into the night.

Finally the bar closed and the two left drunk and happy... well Hiroki was the drunk one. "Seee man s sssso much fun! WOO!" he tossed his arms up in the.

"Yeah... that was fun." Yori smiled.

"Ahhhhhhh see! Told you I could fuckin...." he trailed off into a smile.

Without a sound two cloaked figures appeared behind the two. They pulled out knives and rushed the two, their footsteps the only thing giving them away. Yori was the first to turn, narrowly dodging the blade. "What the? Hiroki behind you!" he shouted.

"Huh? WOAH!" he dodged the blade aimed for his back.

The two figures jumped back and for awhile there was a stand off. Yori would notice an odd symbol on their cloaks.


"HEY HEY HEY!" Hiroki drew his sword. "Who the f fuck do you think I am!" the point of his sword aimed at the two. He ran at them and started swinging wildly. *Clang!* *Clang!* *CLANG!* The attackers block and dodged with easy.
 
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Yori thrust forward an arm to create a low flamethrower to separate at least one attacker from Hiroki's flank. A sudden surge of energy shot through Yori's arm; he could feel his muscles abruptly expand and contract as the energy surged through. There was an intense white light at his hands, and a large bolt of fire that burned through the air with the same ferocity of a mortar towards the three linked in combat. Before Yori even had a chance to yell, the two attackers jumped away, while Hiroki looked blankly at the blast before bending his body back to dodge the bolt that had a wide spin curve. The unintentional attack collided with an unoccupied car on the side of the road, causing it and nearby cars to explode.


Car alarms blared from neighboring cars not caught by the initial blast. Nearby civilians were in a panic, running away and screaming for their lives. Yori sprinted towards the nearest attacker; by force of habit and overwhelming panic, he activated his 'rocket boosters', which he no longer had. Without any combustable fuel to burn nor the metal chambers to control the fire, the flames burned uncontrolled at Yori's feet. All he could do was continue to run, drawing his sword with the hand not currently ablaze - his unproficient left hand. Gas leaked from the cars had flowed onto the streets as streams into puddles, with Yori uncautiously running over them coated with fire. Black smoke billowed upward, and Yori could no longer see anyone. He heard swords clashing at a distance.

The smoke dispersed violently as a vortex of wind centered around Hiroki was picking up speed and burst out, shattering the nearby windows of street buildings. It dispersed enough for Yori to catch that the second attacker was above him with sword drawn. Yori grabbed the hilt with his other hand, still on fire, to block the downward strike. The strike of the other sword crashed against Yori's. It was to Yori's horror that without his machine strength, his double grip had been nearly broken. At the same time, the attacker rebounded from the sword and kicked Yori square across the jaw and did a backflip to take another strike at Yori's chest.

A mailbox, hurled by Hiroki's windstorm at Yori's attacker when the smoke had dispersed, knocked him from the sky just in time before the sword sliced Yori's chest open. Yori could feel anger well up within him as the fire continued to pour from him beyond his control. Yori's opponent kick flipped back up. A flash of memory came into Yori's mind. It was more than instinct that allowed Yori to respond to the quick draw of a pistol at the kneeling position, and suppressive gunfire as Yori took cover beyond the burning wreck of one of the cars. He knew what was coming next as he leapt over the car instead of one of the sides, the searing hot flames from the wrekage momentarily cloaking him. The grenade that his opponent threw had passed neatly through the burning car at where Yori was pinned. As the grenade behind him exploded, Yori shot another fireball at his enemy at the same time he was reloading. It didn't matter what size it was now since Hiroki wasn't there. Instead, however, the fireball fragmented into several pieces as Hiroki's tornado winds cut it apart. One of the pieces hit the gun, which was simply tossed aside. His opponent kept the distance between them always, swatting away Yori's sword strikes. He was making Yori look like a complete fool, as though teaching a young boy how to use a sword for the first time. It had become a dance to force Yori into a lethal misstep. Yori followed the rhythm of the dance only because he knew it so well. His opponent knew the dead art of Pax Style!
 

Tone 6th

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"Shit dads going to kill me..." Hiroki said as he looked at the destruction they caused. "Okay enough is enough!" he yelled and slapped his cheeks a few time. He closed his hands slowly together and the tornado slowly calmed down. Off in the distance the faint sounds of sirens could be heard. "Yori we have to get going, if my dad finds out we caused all this AND we got arrested we're done!" he pointed down the alleyway.

"I hear you but we have to shake these guys first!" Yori called out.

"WIND CRUSHER!" Hiroki called out. A huge gust of wind shot down the alleyway and pushed the attackers back. "Come on man!" he grabbed Yori. *BANG!* A shot out in the air as a bullet clipped Hiroki's arm "AHHH!" he cried out and grabbed his arm. The two attackers were standing and one of them pulled out another gun.

"Shit you okay?" Yori said as he moved in front of his friend.

"NO! IVE BEEN SHOT!" he fell to his knees clutching the cut on his arm. "OH FUCK IT HURTS!"

"..... fire wall...." a voice whispered to Yori. "Who said that!" the samurai spun around. When he saw no one there he looked at his enemy who was ready to pull the trigger on their targets. "NO!" the man put up a fire wall and pushed it toward the two. Concrete and asphalt melted under its immense heat as it flew down the path.

The two men were not so easily beaten though as they ran up the walls and over the flame. They dashed at Yori and he soon had a blade pointed as his neck.

"SOMEONE HELP US!" Hiroki called out.
 

Shadicmaster

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“Hello? Yes, I would like to report an altercation? Corner of Maursa and Lin near the library and down the street from a bar. ... The fight includes four men, two with knives and two with swords. The sword users are elementary proficient and intoxicated. Yes, thank you.”

From the shadows, as people ran in terror from the incident, a woman stood, watching calmly. She could follow the flow of battle easily, and it didn’t seem to be going in the favor of the stronger party due to their inebriation. It was easy enough to recognize one as the heir to the Iyoshi line, making this fight all the more of an interesting oddity. She had seen him to be prone to unwise decision making, but this was certainly a bit much...

“Pera, create new save state.”
“Save state recorded. Save data will be held for 5 minutes. Proceed with caution, Plague.”
“Thank you Pera.”
PL46U3. Plague. Her presence was death. However slow it may be, she sapped the strength of the masses for her power. A convenient favor for the Iyoshi family now could mean quite the payoff later....

Walking out into the otherwise empty streets, the woman smirked, streetlights showing her long flowing black hair, billowing in the gusts of wind, much like her trench coat.
“The police are coming boys. Going to risk getting caught for a quick kill? What sort of price would you get on a dead body? Beat it before we have more problems than there already are.”
 

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The two assassins were momentarily stunned by the brazenness of the stranger that had appeared before them. She had already presumed much about who they were and what their mission was. Capture didn't matter. Money didn't matter. Yet, somehow, her words started to cohere in their minds. Thoughts of self preservation to flee from reinforcements flowed into thoughts of self-interest from getting captured, and then to greed. Perhaps they had underbid their contract.

The sirens were blazing louder now, snapping them back into the urgency of the present moment. While they had Yori at sword point, he was in front of the Ieyoshi Hiroki, ready to intercept the short-swords with his body to grant Hideki escape. However, the distraction provided by the woman gave Hideki ample time to bolt away towards her; the instinct of surviving overrode the surge of pain through his body.

Plague looked on as the assassin quickly grabbed the prone Yori and held the shortsword to his neck. The man taken hostage appeared to be completely drained of energy, pale white. It was no surprise from her observation of the battle. He had been spouting fire from his body like a complete jackass, setting everything ablaze.

"Follow, and he dies!" yelled the assassin, pressing the blade closer to Yori's neck. Yori's eyes closed from sheer exhaustion, or was it resignation?

Plague looked at the assassins and their hostage coldly, not moving an inch from the Ieyoshi she had so effortlessly secured with the weapon of her words. She would be well compensated by the Ieyoshi family despite the loss of the other man. It was unfortunate. She had placed the idea of price so well into their heads, that taking a hostage implied it had value. The hostage would likely die when the idea of value, the price of keeping him alive over killing him, eventually wore off. It was an acceptable loss.

The light of the sirens now swarmed the streets, of cop cars and fire trucks. By then, however, the two assassins and Yori faded into the black smoke of the fire.
 

Tone 6th

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Hiroki squirmed on the ground "FUCK!" he yelled, grabbing his gun shot wound.

"Jesus, I thought you Ieyoshi's were supposed to as tough as they come." Plague sighed. "Come on it's not that bad."

Hiroki blinked a few times "Yeah you know what.... it doesn't really hurt." he tore a bit of his shirt off and wrapped his wound.

"HEY STOP RIGHT THERE!" an officer said as he entered the alleyway.

The boy grabbed Plague's hand and took off running "We gotta get out of here." he said before a strong gust of wind picked them up and carried them into the air. "Thanks for the save back there, you scared them off. Whats your name?" he said. He directed the wind to land them in a park "More importantly we gotta get Yori back."

____

Yori was tossed into the back of a car and driven to a warehouse near the docks. The assassins tore him out of the trunk upon arrival and dragged him into the warehouse, tying him to a chair.

"Oh my is this him? Like is this really him?" a man came out of the shadows grinning ear to ear.

"Well he's a samurai that uses fire attacks sooooo..." one assassin said.

"Well that's not very helpful you idiot!" the man screamed.

"Boss listen we could sell this guy at ransom for a high price." one of the cloaked figured explained.

The man frowned "Are you out of your mind? Even if we aren't sure this man is still property of her cult, the true goddess, so no we're not selling him."

"But Mr. Trace think of the money!" *BANG!* A gunshot rang out and the assassin hit the ground.

Trace held a gun in his hand and the same fiendish smile "Do you have the same idea as this one?" he pointed the gun at the other assassin.

"No boss."

"Good, this is truly a blessed day! Now clean this up and get the heretic talking. I'll report this to his holiness. What a great day!" the man turned and walked away with a spring in his step.

 
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Shadicmaster

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Plague let the event run its course, of course, at the cost of the nobody, but even so, she got her reward in the end. With some strong words and a judging glare, she got the Iyoshi back on his feet before he swept her off of her own, the police finding them in the alley.
“My name? Yokubo. But why should I be involved in getting back a knucklehead nobody? You have a price on your name, I don’t see any worth in him.” Plague had to remember not to use her online name, having just gotten done with a session before coming out and happening upon the scene. Yokubo Hanako lived in the real world and did uninteresting real world things. Like NOT going on search and rescue missions and chasing down criminals. What was this guy thinking?! Did he want to get even more banged up?
 
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image0.png.jpg

The last thug, now alone with the prisoner tied to the chair, pulled back his hood and pulled down his face mask. He had wanted to kill Hiroki, but the man before him, this 'Yori', wasn't just a fly in the ointment, he incinerated it. He just couldn't believe he was really the same man described by legend. The true Yori was a half-golem with strength, speed and skill. The man tied to the chair had no finesse and was a flamethrower that quickly ran out of fuel. He was still pale, and Kimaru intended to keep the man suffering and helpless.

Yori raised his head to look at the displeased eyes of Kimaru for just a moment before lowering them again. He couldn't summon fire anymore to free himself from his bonds. His sword was gone. His life was over. Kimaru pulled off his glove angrily and thrust it at Yori's neck. Instantly streams of black ichor shot from Kimaru's hand under Yori's skin and went into Yori's bloodstream. The streams of black traveled up the neck, choking him, crawling into his spine and into his face to align them, forcing Yori to look up again, convulsing against the pain.

"What the matter?" said Yori, gritting his teeth, "Didn't your parents give you enough attention?"
Kimaru grunted. The man certainly could mimic Yori's mouth.
"You want me to kill you, is that it?" said Kimaru.
"Go to hell!" Yori growled, before howling in pain again. Attempting to activate his fire powers tensed up all his muscles immediately.
Kimaru pulled up his own chair across from Yori and sat, watching the ink travel along visible veins, which steadily diluted as it traveled furthest away from the throat, which now had a pitch black hand print. He pulled out a cigarette and lit it, puffing billows of smoke leisurely. Torture was a game of waiting. The victim would be deprived of sleep and food, and be in constant pain. In time, he would crack and be ready to answer his questions.
 
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Tone 6th

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"Hiroki that is enough! You are to come home with me at once." a man came out stepped out of a black SUV.

"Oh shit its my dad... Hey dad! Look I can explain everything." Hiroki stumbled over his words.

"Enough! Get in the car NOW! You to girl!" he pointed at Yokubo.


"Dad wait she saved me!"

"From being shot? Yes I saw everything. Get. in. the. car." he pointed.
 

Shadicmaster

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Yokubo frowned, about to get stern with the boy before a man pulled up in an SUV. Quickly making mental note of the make and modle of the vehicle as well as its plates, she looked to the man who stepped out of it.
“Well if it isn’t mister Iyoshi himself. If you say you’ve seen everything then there’s no fear of me being wrongly accused here. Come, Hiroki. Maybe you’ll get a nice ride home.”
 

Tone 6th

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The car ride home was nice indeed. Hiroki's father looked at the girl. "Thank you for saving my foolish son, what kind of reward would you like?" he was straight and to the point.

“It is of no problem to myself sir, though money is always in need.” Yokubo replied curtly with a slight bow.

"Alright how much? I'm sure you know who I am."

“Oh yes, sir. Would three shares worth be presumptuous to ask?”

"Nope. Done. Send your information to this email and we will set you up." he handed her a card. "Whats your name?"

The girl took the card, looking over it briefly before tucking it into her coat. “Yokubo. Yokubo Hanako.”

"Well thank you again Yokubo. Is there a place where I can drop you off?"

“The central library please. It’s a short walk getting home from there. I’d assume you have must have quite a bit to get back to since your son did mention going after his tagalong.”

"Ah yes, Yori. Act as if you never saw him got it? a simple word to the wise." the car stopped just outside of the library. "Have a nice day."

Yokubo nodded and got up out of the car, offering a curt wave and a word of thanks before seeing herself off.

Once she was out of the car the man looked at his son with anger "What were you thinking! You know how dangerous it is for us out on the streets! Now we've lost Yori, and I could have lost you!' He wrapped his son in a hug. "You stupid foolish boy...."

"Dad.... I'm so sorry I'll get him back.... I'll I'll."

"You've done enough. We'll get you home, clean you up, and you can rest. I'll send word to everyone I know about Yori. We'll find him." the man smiled.
 
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