As the men flooded into the area, I held my blade ready. All human. Hooded ones with mirrored masks. A shame.
The other clans would use his human allies as pawns in his deadly game first. A cowardly move, but a strategic one. However, unlike some...I have no conflicts when it comes to cutting down any enemy that dares to stand in my way. They get one chance to come to their senses, and one chance only. After that, whatever happens to them is out of my hands.
I know they weren't expecting a creature like me to be here to help get Takeshi Ogata's children to safety...but they shouldn't have sent humans. It's simply a bloodbath waiting to happen.
I addressed them immediately. "My name is Norio Myoki...and these kids are now officially under my protection. I have an oath to fulfill...and I plan to fulfill it." I watched them closely as they stood still, waiting for an order. "Allow us to pass freely, with no further malice...and I give you my word, I shall draw no weapon against you." One warning. One chance for them to walk away.
They scoffed at me. "Check out the fucking wannabe ninja over here! Hehehe!" One of them said.
"I shall draw no weapon against you, he says! You've seen one too many Kung Fu flicks, kid!" Said another. They began to approach in a cluster, and I made sure to keep all three children behind me, backing them up into a safe corner where they wouldn't be harmed.
That was your one 'get out of jail free' card, gentlemen. I've been absolved of my responsibility to show mercy...and the rest is all on you.
The first three adopted a sideways stance, drawing for the deadly shivs on their waist, and putting their dominate right foot forward...their other foot bracing them in the back. But they don't realize how easy this is for me. How I can see their next fifteen moves before they even begin to take me on. I don't have the time nor the patience to engage them with anything fancy. The faster I get this done, the better.
So...as I allowed them to get stable in their stance, I swiftly moved forward, and with a single spinning low swipe of my sword...I severed all three of their dominate legs at the knee and watched them scream and fall to the floor in agony, a rapidly spreading puddle of blood expanding beneath them as they cried out in shock and disbelief. The slice was so quick that they were already falling to the ground before they could process what had just happened to them. I kept my eye on the children behind me, and Natpea, Kenshiro, and Katrina, were standing there with their jaws dropped. They had never seen anything so brutal before. I hope they can find a way to get used to it. Because there is a lot more blood that will be shed tonight before we get down to the lower level. I'm certain of it.
The other hooded ones in the room paused in horror as I stepped forward, kicking their comrades' severed limps aside, leaving bloody footprints behind me after walking through a puddle of their gore. A few backed up a step or two, but there was no turning back now. If they chose to run, the vampires that offered to cross them over into darkness for the price of unwavering loyalty would not be so forgiving. I know. I was one of them, once. They're dead, either way. So, foolishly...they chose to take their chances with attacking me. And, I guarantee you...they're going to pay for that decision with their worthless lives!
Balancing myself, I calmed my inner thoughts and allowed my instincts to take over. My eyes, now glowing a deep crimson red, I took a single deep breath, and lashed out in ways that none of these helpless daylight humans could have ever been prepared for!
I slashed one man's throat, his blood spraying the man next to him...and as he was blinded, a few sword strikes carved a deep star into his chest, staining him blood red as he fell to his knees and began to bleed to death as his face went white in front of me. Others came for me, thinking that they could take an advantage from me having my back turned to them, but they were sadly mistaken. Swiveling my hips to the side allowed me to spin my sword and stab them right through the gut behind me, spinning out of the way as another guy stabbed his own partner in the chest with his shiv, missing me completely. I spun again with a roundhouse kick to his face, and then again to go low and sweep his feet from underneath him. It wasn't long after his back hit the floor that I took my sword and brought it down directly through his heart...basically pinning him to the floor as he spat a torrent of blood in the middle of his agonizing wail of pain.
I WARNED them! I really did!
Pulling my sword out of him, I flipped backwards to keep two of the other assassins from getting around me and trying to gain access to the kids. I slashed one of them across the back, watching blood rush down from the wound, and the other attempted to lunge forward at me, only to have his hand severed at the wrist. I delivered a spinning back kick to his chest to send him flying back against a nearby wall, and then moved over to guide the children to the opposite corner of the room.
"This way! Move!" I said, watching the youngsters hurry over to the next corner as I got back into a battle stance to face down the enemies that I had left to tangle with. This time, I noticed that GUNS were drawn, and I shouted at the kids, "Get down!!!"
I moved in a swift, zig zag, pattern to decrease the distance between me and them...and when I got there, I began to trade fierce blows with all three of them, trading off between them as they all attempted to take aim at the very cargo that I was trying to protect. With a blindingly swift swipe of my sword, I cut off one of their arms, watching it drop down from the shoulder while they stared at it in horror. The next one caught a harsh elbow to the bridge of her nose, while the third felt the pain of having me stomp down on the front of their knee...practically bending their leg backwards! There was no time for games. They put themselves in this position. Now it's time to pay the price.
Four more. That's all I had left. And I could feel their hesitation as they looked at their fellow hooded ones, lying in a pool of their own blood on the floor. No more warnings! They came to play...so let's play! I jumped in the air, spinning around so fast that my outstretched sword became a virtual blender to slice away at the first attacker I came into contact with. The second attempted to back away, but I kicked their leg up so I could take a hold of it in my arm...bringing my blade down to slice it off of them and kicking them back on their ass before tossing the severed limb aside and heading for attacker number three. She thought she had the skills to go toe to toe with a vampire, but she was wrong. Skilled as she was, I dodged every stab and slash that she sent my way with her shiv in hand, and then...the moment she advanced another step forward, I stabbed the end of my sword through the top of her foot and nailed her to the floor. She screamed, but tried to aim for my heart with her feeble weapon. I grabbed her by the hand and easily broke her wrist. Then I broke her arm. Then moved further up to dislocate her shoulder. And then...yanking the sword out of her foot, I spun around to slash her throat so deeply that it nearly decapitated her...were it not for the stringy flesh in the back holding on for dear life.
The fourth hooded one...he was trembling. At this point, I was really surprised that he hadn't pissed himself yet. Because he knew that he wouldn't be able to take me on his own. I was going to end him...and I was going to make it hurt. But...like I said...I had already given him a warning. This was his choice, not mine.
He froze in front of me as we locked eyes. I could already tell what he was thinking. Just from the way his feet were positioned beneath him, a slight tremble in his hand as he gripped his shiv even tighter, as though it would somehow help him in the long run. I gave him a subtle shake of my head, trying to tell him not to go for it...but that only semed to make him more determined than he was a minute ago. He sneered at me, crazy eyes and all, and as he took a few deep breaths in preparation to charge me...all I could do was think...
I leaned back to avoid his initial attack, and my sword made a harsh slash across both of his eyes, instantly blinding him. Then I cut off his right hand with the weapon, then the left...then spun around behind him to slash at the feeble tendons that were allowing him to remain standing. And once he feel to his knees, and his head was at the right level, I pushed my sword back behind me to stab him directly through the back of his head, my sword forcing its way out of his mouth as his twitching body tried to bite down on the sharp corners of the blade penetrating him.
So much for the promise of immortality.
I used a cloth to clean my blade as I pulled it out of his head and allowed him to drop to the ground. Then I attempted to wipe the rest of the random splashes off of my face. I probably should have fed again before coming out here to meet with Takeshi. It tasted good on my lips. Warm. Full of adrenaline, giving their blood supply an extra tangy flavor that you can't always get from the willing donors...or the unsuspecting. No time for that though. I need to concentrate. I can feed later.
As I slid my sword back into my sheathe, I walked over to the corner to see all three children huddled together. Still a bit fearful over what had just happened. I noticed that Katrina and Natpea were both clutching onto Kenshiro for dear life. There was a trust there. Perhaps they looked up to him in some way. As a protector. Just the way a big brother should be, I suppose.
"I need you three to listen to me very carefully, ok?" I said. "We have a long way to go before we can get down to the bottom floor. I need you to stay right by my side, and I need you to stay QUIET! Alright? Can you do that?"
The children nodded in unison. And Katrina asked me, "But...what about our father?"
It was a difficult decision for me to make. Because, as much as I resented him for not following me into darkness like we had originally agreed upon back when we were both seventeen years old...there was still a part of my loving heart that belonged to him. And always will. I doubt that I'll ever find a way to get it back. So I told her, "Right now...we're going to focus on getting out of here and keeping you safe. Ok?"
"Father is in danger." Natpea said, breaking his silence.
"I understand that..."
Then Kenshiro stood up, displaying his bravado with his chest puffed out. "You can take Natpea and Katrina to the bottom floor. I will go and make sure that Father is protected!"
"NO!" I demanded. "You can't protect him! Only I can do that!" I said.
"Then we will come with you! We will fight as warriors to protect the honor of the Ogata Triad!" He insisted. Kenshiro could be so fucking hard headed! So I decided to appeal to his ego instead of trying to go along with my original plan.
"You want to fight for the Ogata Triad? Then I need you to be the one to make sure that it continues on for generations to come. That means you, your brother, and your sister, have to be safe. I'm making it your job to protect that which is most vital. Do you understand? Without you...everything will fall apart." I said. "Kenshiro...listen to me. I am risking my life to make sure that you all make it out of here unscathed. You want to be a warrior? Do the same for your siblings. Alright? They need you to be their warrior right now. Let me handle the rest." He was quiet for a moment, but seemed to be absorbing what I was telling him. As long as it made him feel important and necessary...he was willing to dive right in.
Ugh! I felt like such a fraud, trying to negotiate with a bunch of kids. But I was willing to do whatever needed to be done to keep Takeshi's children safe.
There are times when I remember how Takeshi's smile used to bring a level of joy to my life that couldn't be matched by any other sensation that I have ever experienced. Even in moments like this...I can remember the way my lips tingled for hours after our very first kiss. So experimental, so innocent. But touching and romantic at the same time. A connection that we both craved to reenact again and again, every time that we found an opportunity to do so outside of the prying eyes of a homophobic society that would never budge or shimmy to either side to let us be happy together. I mean, did I really believe that Takeshi and I would ever find a way to be together forever? I don't know. Probably not. He had his ways, and I had mine. But for that brief time as teenagers...we truly shared something beautiful. Even if it fell apart later on, I don't regret a single minute of the euphoric bless that I felt as we lay naked together in his bed, his arms wrapped around me...holding me close...expressing his deepest desires to have me be his. And his alone.
I did what I could to bring the children's safety to the forefront of my mind, offering my hand as I lifted them back onto their feet. But memories linger of being alone with their father. Every touch, every kiss, every gasp of love burdened affection. I swear...I can look in their faces and see traces of his immaculate beauty being represented within them. Even his adopted daughter seemed to carry a certain level of his lovely grace with her...even when she was scared. The same grace that I once fell in love with.
"Come with me. Ok? Don't be frightened. We're going to make our way as far down as we can with the elevator, and then we'll sneak out through the parking lot. After that, we'll get down to the ground level, and I'll find us a place to hide in the Kabukichu Shinjuko District until we're able to catch our flight to America. There will be safe haven for your all in the city of Chicago. This, I can promise you." I said. "There is a vampire elder there by the name of Masato. He will make sure that no harm comes to you. He is older and wiser than both of us combined. He will keep the Ogata Triad going strong. Do you understand?" Again, the children nodded. I knelt down in front of Katrina, who was still tightly clutching the bag full of computer disks against her chest...almost white knuckled from the fear she had of letting it go. I attempted to calm her by placing my hand on her shoulder. We definitely were under severe time constraints when it came to getting out of this building alive. They were certainly more vulnerable to attack than I was. But if I couldn't get the children to trust me enough to follow my lead...all of this blood would have been shed in vain. My job is to preserve the only piece of Takeshi that I had left. I can't fail him. Not with something this important to him. "You still have a hold on that satchel, I see." I said. She nodded, nervously. "And who's in charge?"
With a bit of hesitation, she said, "I am in charge..."
"That's right, 'Mistress'. You're in charge. You keep a tight hold on these disks, and let you brother Kenshiro help to keep you safe. Ok?"
As I stood back up on my feet, ready to guide them all to the next set of stairs, and possibly the next series of problems that we were sure to face along the way...I looked over at Natpea, who not only wasn't really phased by the violence and the traumatic events of facing even more deadly threats within the next few minutes of our desperate escape...he seemed slightly fascinated by it. I know that look. That dark twinkle that exists just behind the glossy surface of those childish eyes. I had that same twinkle myself...back in my darker days.
If Takeshi wanted me to train his children to carry on the murderous legacy of the criminal empire that he had built over the years, I was going to have to be careful with what I taught them. Kenshiro's brazen need for conflict, Katrina's emotional connections and need for control, and Natpea's silent psychotic tendencies, are all things that I was going to have to address as they grew towards adulthood. Without the proper guidance, they could all become formidable threats when crossed over into darkness. Threats the likes that no one had ever really seen before.
Why trust ME with a task like this? I've never been a saint. I'm the last person that Takeshi should have considered to be a positive influence in the lives of his offspring. Then again...maybe a positive influence isn't what he was looking for.
Maybe it was the heartless killer in me that he was hoping to unlock, once again. That untapped demon within me. Something that he could use to inspire the hidden demons within his children. Is that what he thinks of me?
Maybe....it's what he thought about me all along...