Open the motel room door, step outside, and get blinded by the midmorning sun. Fuckin’ typical.
I squint in pain, fumble for my sunglasses, and give a little sigh of relief when I finally get them on. Walking across the balcony to the stairs, only thing I can think of is how damn hot it is.
Just another summer day in Santa Destroy. It’s less of a town you go to and more the type of place you end up in, know what I’m sayin’? What’s a girl like me doing in a place like this? Well… that would be a very, very long story.
Anyway. Bike’s still where I left it. Hop on, hit the ignition, rev the gas. It’s go time- I’ve got a job to do, and time’s a wastin’. I peel out of the parking lot and make tracks for the White Jade Mansion.
I know, I know. What does any of this have to do with anything? A lotta of readers out there don't have much patience. Least that's what Kosuzu, the dude at the book shop said. So I'm in line at the register, right? Then I realize I got no money.
“Sorry, but you know the rules.” Shopkeep smiled apologetically. “I can hold onto your manga until you get back, okay?”
I was seriously, actually broke. Why? Cuz I met this smokin' hot chick last night at the Death-Match bar. Man, she smelled good! So, because I’m so kind and generous, I offered to buy her a drink. That shit was expensive! Totally worth, though.
“Thanks. By the way- Here’s my number… give me a call~”
Anyhoo, I decide to get a job. The gig: assassinate this Drifter dude. So I went where I was supposed to and waited for the guy to show up. And there she was.
Two figures strode toward each other in the shadow of an abandoned warehouse. The stranger, wearing a loose, brown robe-
And the Drifter. A woman with white hair and a sharp black suit strolled forward, hands on her two hip holsters. The grin on her face told the whole story. “Heh. Another punk trying their luck at ranking up, huh?”
The robed stranger didn’t answer.
This cat. Well dressed, cool. Couldn't tell if she was "the shit"...or just plain ol' shit.
Drifter drew her guns with a flourish.. “I’m in a good mood, so I’ll let you go out in style.” She squeezed the triggers over and over, riddling the robed stranger with lead.
‘Til the woman from the bar showed up again. Her name:Tewi Inaba. An agent with this whatchamacallit Association.
“Congratulations. You’re certified as the 11th-best hitman in the country. How about getting rid of the ten killers above you- you know, aim for the top?” She said. I knew she was trouble but I couldn’t say no. Although- never been too good at that...
So that’s it, folks- I want to be number one. That simple enough for you? It’s going to be a long, hard road. But who knows? Could kick ass… Could totally suck. Whaddya say? Join me. Let’s see how far we can take this.
And for you there at the keyboard right now… Just type [YES]. Let the bloodshed begin!
The mansion looms overhead, glaring white walls and thick pillars like the goddamn monument to stupidity it is. I grit my teeth, punch the gas, and aim straight for that eyesore of a front gate.
Now that’s a satisfying feeling. “Knock knock!” I shout, sending the cycle into a skid, looking at the dumbstruck faces of the armed goons in the courtyard. Kick off the bike and jump into the air, it goes crashing into a stupid fountain, water’s flying everywhere.
I’m flying too- well, more like falling with style. I get juuusst enough time to make out the two goons with guns before I chop them down with one strike.
“Fuckhead!” I hold the pose, just long enough for their headless bodies to hit the floor. Hell yeah, that was perfect.
Goon number three is cowering in front of the mansion’s main door, completely forgetting about the gun in his hand. Although, it isn’t like it would help him anyway. I stride up to him, nice and slow, and hold my sword to his neck.
“Hey, help me out here! Where’s this Death Metal dude?” I ask.
He gives out an incoherent whimper that probably means something along the lines of ‘please don’t kill me.’
I shrug. “Bad answer.”
A single swing cuts through the goon, both doors, and a good part of the wall, sending them flying away in two pieces.
I kick the rest of the door down, strolling into the foyer rapidly filling with more goons. “She’s over here! Hurry!” one of them shouts, but they slow down as they see me standing there, blood staining my dress red.
In front are ones with swords and clubs, on the staircase in back they’re pulling out guns.
I can see the fear in their eyes.
I can’t help but grin, big and wide. This is gonna be fun. “It’s game time!”
Seriously? Ah, jeez… Fine, but this is the last time! I’m not your fuckin’ kindergarden teacher, alright!
Type [A] to have me swing the beam katana. Use the beam katana to attack enemies- obviously.
Type [B] to have me kick-
No, wait, this is fuckin’ stupid! This’s the worst control scheme ever, it’d take ages just to kill one dude!
I’ve got a better idea, yeah? I’ll kill these fucks however the hell I want to, and you guys can just sit back and enjoy the show.
One of the goons grips his sword and screams out a battle cry as he charges. Now it’s on. I meet his swing and we lock blades. That must be a pretty strong katana if it can stand up to the Sword of Hisou- but the dude holding it’s only human. I sweep his leg out from under him, and lunge forward while he topples.
“You’re a joke!”
His body flies apart in three different directions, blood and gold coins gushing everywhere. The rest of the goons aren’t feeling so cocky now, but that’s fine. I’ll just come to ‘em.
A burst of gunfire from the dudes in back- I deflect it easy while I close the distance.
This time, the closest goon doesn’t even get to block.
“What a pain!”
My blow cuts three of ‘em, heads popping off like fuckin’ champagne corks.
And then I start to really let loose.
“Fuck off!” I hate gun dudes… so annoying.
“My spleen!” one shouts. He’s right. And the rest of his torso, too.
“I’m still a virgin!” Ha, sucks to be you.
The fight’s gettin’ good- The foyer’s already coated in blood.
Hell yeah, this is it! This is what I live for! Nothing else compares to this- this euphoria!
Drugs, sex, money- tried them all, but it’s just not the same as being wrist-deep in some poor fuck’s ribcage-
I pull the sword out slowly and the goon slumps to the ground like a puppet with broken strings. He chokes out his last breaths, gasping for his mother. I-
I look around the room. The foyer is indeed, coated in blood. And body parts. And a few other things I’m not sure that I want to identify. Nobody’s left standing. They’re all dead.
There’s static buzzing in my ears. I look down at my sword hand and realize that it’s shaking. I- I can’t-
I need to keep going. I gotta keep going!
I bust the double doors down, in a reckless sprint. Gotta find the exit. Gotta find the exit. Gotta find-
-a large office room, with three goons who look about as surprised as I am. “Oh, fuck me!” one shouts as he draws his gun.
“Do it yourself, bitch!” I taunt, cutting down his bullets.
[X] I’m forgetting something. Even when I’m cutting through these goons like they’re made out of cotton candy, the feeling won’t go away. It’s like there’s something crawling on my back- but I can’t see it. I can’t see anything.
I’ve cleared about ten rooms by now. I haven’t been counting but it’s easily been over fifty goons, too.
This Death Metal dude must be a real weirdo. I haven’t seen any maids or kitchen staff or anything else, just more suited goons. Maybe they knew I was coming and sent everyone else home. Or maybe the goons are the staff. Whatever.
How much is he paying these guys anyway? Obviously, it’s way too much, because they’re barely even slowing me down.
And then I make it to this big chapel room next to the courtyard. It’s so huge I almost expect a bunch more guys to jump out of nowhere, but there’s nobody here.
There’s music playing off in the distance.
And a mask lying on the ground- a wrestling one, with a red, white, and blue pattern on it. There’s a note stuck inside the mask’s mouth…
I take it out and unfold it.
Tenshi, do you remember those golden days in Calgary? The path of pro-wrestling that you have long forgotten? If even a fragment of the spirit of a wrestler remains in your blood, remember the first suplex that your master taught you.
Yes, that’s right. The darkness piercing Double Wrist Suplex… H. n. K.
Right… How did I forget learning that move? I practiced it over and over back then, with my master telling me ‘again’ over and over. Back from when my only dream was to become a real pro wrestler…
I remembered an old wrestling move! I know you don’t care that much but it matters to me, okay? It’s great to have that weight off my chest, too- I was feeling a bit out of character for a while there.
And there’s a bathroom too. Great- I need to take a leak real bad after all that fighting.
Oh yeah, Death Metal. I don’t see any more goons and this is a big long hallway, so it must be time for the boss fight. Finally.
This is gonna be fun.
Two big-ass doors, blocking my way. I’d just slice through them but I don’t want to drain my sword’s energy when there’s gonna be an actual fight in a second. So I push them open. They’re pretty heavy.
Sunlight blinds me for the second time today, bright enough to pierce through my sunglasses. I give a growl of frustration as I step out into the courtyard.
My eyes adjust and I realize that we’re right next to the ocean. I can see the waves lapping gently against a perfectly groomed and gleaming white beach. And right next to that beach is a large pool, also pristine. It doesn’t look like it’s been used in years.
And next to the pool, on a beach chair, sits an old man.
I approach cautiously. This has to be the guy.
Of course, he notices me before I can even leave the patio.
“Quite beautiful, wouldn’t you say?” he intones, without turning his head. “Paid for with the lives of many. When you have the strength to take life for yourself…”
I step down the stairs and finally get a good look at his face. His long white hair is tied back in a tail, and his white beard and mustache are perfectly groomed. An old scar runs through his left eyebrow.
“I have freed myself from desire.” he continues his little speech. “I need nothing more in this life. Please, leave me be.”
I draw my sword. “You’re going to be the one leaving- in a body bag!”
He lowers his cup and opens his eyes.
“This is your last warning, child. Leave here now.”
I give a wry chuckle. “Me, leave? That just isn’t my style.”
“You don’t get it, do you?” He lets out a long sigh.
I feel a twinge of anger and take a step forward. “Hey. You know about Paradise, right?” I ask.
“Paradise…” he mutters to himself.
“This is Paradise!” I sweep my sword around, pointing to the luxury and perfection on every side. “The place where dreams are fulfilled! You’ve had your dream, old man… Time to wake up!”
“This… is no paradise.” The old man gets up from his chair.
“Alright. What is it?” I challenge.
“Just a place to die.” He reaches to the ground and picks up his sword. Its scabbard is almost as long as he is tall. “So naive- You have no idea, do you? What a pity.”
I grit my teeth. Don’t you dare pity me.
“Listen well, child.” he states, walking up the steps to the patio. I follow. “The wall is high, higher than you will ever know.” He slowly slides his sword from its sheath. “And at the end of the journey, only nothingness awaits you. There is no other possibility.”
The sword is finally drawn, and he throws the scabbard away without a second glance. “I gave you a chance to stop this. Now, draw and fight.” Something hazy swirls behind him, but I can’t tell what.
“You can take your philosophy to your grave!” I taunt, readying my own stance.
Here we go.
The first part of the fight is an interesting one. We’re both trying to read each other’s styles and figure out where the weaknesses lie- while not giving away too much about our own.
In this situation, the one who strikes first puts themselves at a disadvantage. I know it, he knows it, and we each know that we each know that.
But I’m not a patient person. Never have been. So the first one to attack is me, with a high swing aimed for his neck. He blocks easily, and we lock blades.
This geezer... I feel as if I'm looking at my future self. Mega bucks, big ass house, fast cars... Dining in style with a world class chef and a trusty nutritionist counting every calorie.
As I struggle against him, I realize one important thing. He’s stronger than I am. I can feel him pushing me back. Not entirely unexpected, but it’s still worrying. I break the blade lock and flip away, but he’s right up in my face to press his advantage.
A team of hot yoga instructors to keep me in shape. Doctors and nurses to attend to my body... Maids and loyal servants at my beck and call. On the weekends, tanned hunks and babes knocking on my door every two hours.
He attacks with a precise series of swings, a mixture of high and low strikes. I try but I can’t deflect all of them, his sword leaving long lines on my hardened skin. I wait for an opening, slide to his right behind his sword’s arc and strike.
Every day full of excitement and luxury. That'd be the life. Everything in its right place. It's the perfect life. It's the life for winners. That'll be my life!
I manage to land five blows before he intercepts, knocking my sword away with a precise tap of his. He’s bleeding too, but he’s still standing. His form isn’t weakened. It’s obvious that he isn’t like the human trash from earlier. He’s something else. Something greater. I grin, and this time he returns it. The thrill of a fight- we both know it well.
I thirst for selflessness. Hypocrites lusting for their own desires get killed by young rookies like me. This is how it goes down. And for the old killers? They'll croak anyway.
We lock swords again. This time, I use my leverage to deflect his sword away while simultaneously stepping in close. We lock our legs against each other.
He’s off balance- I lung behind him, gripping his wrists and separating his arms so he can’t use his sword. Then I send my weight backward, toppling both of us over and driving his head into the cement with a satisfying cracking sound.
It’s honestly sort of scary when he still gets back up anyway. This time, I can see the twitching of his jawline. He’s actually angry now.
I guess you can call this a comedy. I realize there's really nothing here for me. But what else can I do but keep going? Maybe I should have been a little more careful before I jumped in.
And in his anger, he discards the quick slashes for wide, wild swinging. Suddenly, the area close to him is guaranteed death. I leap away but he’s still fast enough to keep up with me. With a cry, he strikes me down with an overhead slash, cracking the pavement. “Harder!” I hiss, straining to lift his blade off of my chest.
Gotta find the exit. Gotta find that exit to Paradise. But, I can't see it. Can't see anything. There's this sense of doom running down my spine, like it's... Like it's trying to suck the life out of me.
Somehow, I find the strength, and roll to the side. We don’t bother clashing blades, instead meeting in a rapid flurry of swings. Strength doesn’t matter now- now it’s all about speed, motherfucker, do you speak it? And right now, this gaping wound in my chest isn’t helping matters.
He’s faster than I am. And he knows it. He’s the one to back away this time, knowing I can’t follow. And as he moves his sword in a circle, another him appears, holding an identical sword. “Now, let’s see what you’re made of.” He states.
I’m too winded to reply so I just flip him the bird. Fighting one old man is bad enough, two will be the end of me.
I need to get rid of it before I bail. Something deeper... Deeper than my instincts is taunting me. Can't find the exit. Can't find the exit. Can't find the exit. Can't find the exit. Can't find the exit.
And then I realize. The fake has no shadow.
The two step into a combination attack, both blades coming from either side to catch me in the middle. I move down the middle, using my agility to leap above both swings, and catch the real one in the face with my boot.
Whatever he is, that still knocks him off balance. And his fake doesn’t have time to correct his swing before I land my killing blow.
My sword swings through both of his arms, sending them and his sword flying off in an arc. I was a bit short- I was aiming for his chest.
“So here it is…” He gasps in pain. His fake fades away. I realize he could have still killed me- did he hold back out of pity, or did he actually want to die?
“There’s no turning back now.” He states, blood gushing from his arms. “You will never find peace. Hell awaits- but this you already know.”
“Here’s your ticket to Paradise, old man!” I reply, separating his head from his shoulders.
I did it.
Death Metal is dead.
I’m Rank #10.
And as I stand here in a growing pool of the old man’s blood, that familiar feeling returns as the red covering my vision fades. The static in my ears. The gorge rising in my throat. No more men to fight, nowhere left to run.
After all, you can’t outrun your own reflection.
[ ] No turning back now.
[ ] I can’t explain- You would not understand- this is not who I am.
The end approaches. (This is in /shorts/ for a reason)
I can’t explain why I feel this way. As I stand here, underneath the mo(u)rning sun, the old man’s blood on my hands-
You would not understand. I don’t know what you’ve been through but at least you have family, friends, a fucking life!
This is not who I am. And there’s nowhere left for me to run.
I sway on my feet before regaining my balance. Such a strange feeling, lightheadedness- but I still have things to do. I can’t be here when the police show up.
Reaching down to the ground, I pick up the Sword of Hisou. It’s running low on energy and its tassel is stained with blood.
It’s an inanimate object. But somehow I get the feeling that if it could feel, it would be sad right now- a thing of legends, reduced to a butcher’s knife.
I begin the long walk back through the mansion. The urge to pay my respects to the old man is there, but I don’t even know where I’d begin. Sorry I killed you and all your men for money. No, not just the money, I wanted to feel alive again…
It’s funny. He clearly accepted his own death. He knew how I’d feel about this. He even warned me, pretty fucking clearly, that nothing awaited me.
Now, I’m Rank #10. Others will come after my rank now, punks with beam sabers bought cheap on Ebay, looking to get rich or slake their bloodthirst. It won’t matter how many I kill, they’ll just keep coming. Maybe that’s why the old man gave up.
It’s never going to end. I need to find the exit.
But how am I supposed to do that when I can’t even remember how I ended up in this shitheap to begin with?
Ah. I’m already outside, by the gate. Brooding like this makes you lose track of time. I hop back onto my bike, blood staining the handgrips as I rev the engine.
First things first. I need a shower- and new clothes. The blood’s already drying, so I don’t think I’m ever going to be able to wear this dress again.
Showered. Changed. Parked my butt on the couch, watching some incomprehensible show about magical rats that steal the hearts of the corrupt.
After all of that, I’m still back in this motel room. Right where I started. I’ve got enough money to pay the bills, to get food, and to keep things going for a little while longer.
But that isn’t right, is it? Something deep inside of me is crying out, saying that all of this is wrong. That there’s more to life than work and killing.
I tried to bury that something, deep underneath my own lust for power and carnage. I tried to cover it up with a mask, one of anger and cockiness, one so good it even had me fooled.
My name is Tenshi. I… want to say that I had a family, friends, a real life once. I just have that feeling, that hope somehow.
But all of that’s gone now. There’s nothing left but this empty shell of a body- and this sword, something that doesn’t seem entirely of this world. Why can I survive bullets to the chest or a sword to the neck? Why am I strong enough to break stone with my bare hands? All mysteries that I’ll never answer.
I’m guessing some of you are feeling pretty disappointed right now. ‘What’s up with all this moralfag introspective bullshit? Stop moping around and get back to the killing!’ That’s what you’re here for, isn’t it?
I’ve got a better idea. I’ll live my life however I want, and you guys can just sit back and enjoy the show.
I’ve a strong urge to fly- But nowhere to fly to…
That note in the wrestling mask- I rip it out of a pocket, noting with a grimace how it too is stained with blood.
The glory days, back in Calgary. The path of pro wrestling.
The initials at the bottom. H. n. K. I knew someone, before I came here. They knew me, well enough that they saw me as an old friend.
It’s the faintest of leads and the slimmest of hopes. But it’s something to look for, someone to find. The faint semblance of a real life.
Whoever you are? I’ll find you. And then, maybe I can start putting all the pieces back together.
I throw a few essentials into a bag. All of my cash, a few of my favorite manga- and after a moment of hesitation, the sword. Even if I don’t need it to fight, I can’t just leave my old companion behind like that.
I throw the door open, leap down the stairs, and start my bike up. I’ve got somewhere to be.
So what do you say? It could be pretty fun- or it could just be miserable futility. Just type [YES] with your keyboard.
Let a new future begin.
Since there is nothing greater I can accomplish, Won’t this mark the end of it all?
Surely the stars will rise again. Surely the sin I feel will weaken.
I’ll be crushed by these emotions I cannot resist. I’ll shut my eyes to this unbearable reality.