The Beginning

"So, go ahead and state your name for the record."

"The record?" I asked, staring across the polished oak desk at Mr. Cutting.

He began to smile, and then slowly chuckle to himself.

"Just fucking with you. You know, like haven't you ever been questioned by the police, or been to court?"

"Well," I said, "if I had, I wouldn't apparently be very good at what I do don't you think?"

"That's a fair point I suppose. And apparently, you are very good at your job."

The conversation was already boring me. Though my eyes were set and locked on his own, I let my peripheral vision become the focus. This was something I had learned to do a long time ago. His office was as it usually was kept. The word sterile came to mind, because while it is fairly typical to know a professional man to keep the office with which he operates from as a tidy place, this was something different. The carpeting seemed new, though it was always the same crimson color. There was not a single sign of wear, not even the imprints from the furniture that had been there for long enough to where there should be.

"So."

Mr. Cutting's voice forced me to bring him back from his blurred state and return the room to its place as background.

"Why don't you just start at the beginning?" He said more as a command than a question.

"Well that's quite the story Mr. Cutting. My memory is a little hazy about it, but I'll go ahead and try. So, it all started one day about thirty years ago. Me and my brothers were charging down this seemingly endless tunnel. There were many of us in the beginning, but then as time passed I found myself surrounded by less and less of the others. Finally it came down to maybe just a handful of us. We were at the end of the tunnel but were now confronted with a seemingly impenetrable wall looming ahead of us. We knew instinctively that what we had come for lay just beyond the wall, but how to get to it is what had us baffled. Without much room, or time for thought though, we were left with the single minded idea to simply attack the wall, to try and break it down. We were successful, but only I survived.

Nine months later, I was greeted by a man in a mask and a slap on the ass…"

A sharp throb of pain entered my left arm just as the sound of Mr. Cutting's gun echoed in his office. I lurched to the side of my chair, my other hand reaching behind the breast of my jacket for only an instant toward the wound, then returning back to the arm of the chair.

"Now that's for being smart. If you keep it up, I'm afraid you're going to be in one particularly uncomfortable state by the end of our time together."

"You're going to kill me anyways."

"Well yes, but I have to admit that I'm quite intrigued by you. I tend to try and get something from the people I kill before I end their lives. It seems to be the only thing I can do for them. It's not as though all of them I necessarily hated, or even deserved it."

"So you mean I don't deserve to die?"

"Oh hell no. You deserve to be put down like the backstabbing piece of trash you are. But that doesn't mean I don't like you. I'd like to learn a little bit about you…the real you, since I know everything I've learned before now has been a farce. Who could it really hurt?"

"Well…I think you've answered that question already don't you Mr. Cutting?"

"If it suits you better, I can end the discussion now then."

Mr. Cutting brought the gun to bear between my eyes. I could only hope that what I tried to keep out of my expression at that moment actually worked. He lowered the gun a bit, but still aiming it center mast with his finger on the trigger as it rest on his finely polished desk.

"So, why don't you introduce me to yourself with your last few moments on earth? I imagine there are worse ways to spend them. We were close once after all. And fuck, you might even figure out some Bond way out of this whole mess, who knows?"

"That's true."

"So?"

I let a moment pass, once again letting his image and the background shift places. I began processing the room more closely than before for no other reason than boredom, and trying to kill some time. A sufficient amount of time passed, and I refocused then let my shoulders sag a little bit as if giving in.

"Ok."

I suppose that it would be a little pointless for now to go much in depth into things like my childhood and growing up and where what happened as far as that stuff goes. So I'll start probably on where it is my real life, or my second birth started and work on from there. I would hate to make it seem as though I'm just stalling for time.

So, where it began was actually after, not before or even during, my short stint with the military. Like most of us, I became fairly enamored with the Asian cultures, particularly of Japan. Though, also like most, I have to admit that what we knew of the Asian cultures were mostly all bullshit that you get from T.V. and we were covering for the fact that we really just liked the women. In any case, after my single cycle in the Navy, I came back to Japan to live.

The funny thing is that, as my money began to dry up, the further from that great ideal place I began at became. I quickly went from the beautiful, unpopulated countryside of Japan, clear across the water to China. From there I went further south, finding myself eventually somewhere in the middle of Thailand. I moved a lot while still there, doing whatever I could, whenever I could, to make enough money to live week to week. Not all of these things were strictly legal, but then, it didn't seem to be all that big of a deal here strangely.

I drank a lot. Got into a lot of fights, which let me tell you something; many people make the mistake of assuming that any so called "armed service" members is going to beat your average Joe in a straight fight. This just isn't true. I was Navy after all. The only fights I won were out of sheer stubbornness and inebriation. But I'll just say that I lost more than my fair share of brawls as well, and bear many the scars to prove it.

So anyways, this went on for an ungodly amount of time seemingly. In truth, it probably wasn't that long, but when you're living out of alleyways, spending more time in vomit, piss, and other colorful bodily fluids than not, time has a funny way of seemingly dragging on. It had gotten to the point where I had all but given up. The only thing keeping me going was that I was totally convinced I could turn it around somehow. If nothing else, I could always rejoin the military…if they'd take me…which I'm sure they would when you look at the rabble they have on staff at any given moment these days. I just wasn't too keen on that idea.

It was almost a year since I had dropped the Navy life, when I found myself in yet another bar in Thailand. Strangely enough, when I got drunk the day before, I must've wandered in the wrong direction because this place was something fancy. A jukebox, some colored paper lanterns, front doors. It sobered me up so quickly that I knew I had to get myself a drink just to make sure I wasn't dreaming.

A half hour later, I found out it was in fact reality. Though it was right about that time as well that I realized, the bar had a rather huffy owner. I don't remember his name. Something Thai, and so, automatically difficult for me to pronounce. Turned out that, he was the wrong person to get into a debate over the bill though. See, unlike here in America, a lot of places overseas in…well…to put it bluntly, shitty areas of the world, they see white skin and think money isn't a problem. They found out that they were wrong in that assumption. Of course I was also wrong in the assumption that the most I'd get for yet another unpaid bar tab would be a quick beating.

It wasn't until about round five with these four ass ugly, inbred brothers that I realized I picked the wrong bar to be a squatter in. The only consolation I was getting was the looks on their faces each time I got back up with what must have been a pretty annoying drunken smile on. The humor pretty soon drained from them and me completely when the owner came around the counter with a rather heinous looking machete in hand.

Apparently this kind of thing wasn't so uncommon as to where the party would have broken up. The dancing, and drinking, and from what I could tell by a couple of the corner booths as being some public displays of affection that would be very illegal back home, continued on as if this were an everyday occurrence. Of course the old dried blood on the blade the owner was wielding now high above his head just a few feet away from me seemed to concur with this observation. I wasn't completely sure at this time if it was the booze, or the fear that caught up with me at this point, but I simultaneously vomited and wet myself. This only proved to revive the humor in the ass ugly quartet.

He was now standing right over me. At this point, I was more aware of the things around me than probably ever before. And I do mean ever. More aware of the different coats of blood on the machete that now loomed over my would be executioner's head. Aware of the crowd surging just a little further away from where the eventual blood would cover, completely in sync with the owner. Aware of the four brothers, in their various states of sickly glee, and accompanied ball scratching. Also, very aware of some strange presence in the room. One that didn't follow exactly to the tide of the partying crowd about us, but that seemed to be only imitating it. The presence was paying closer attention to what was happening here than anyone.

It was at that moment that I felt a strange sensation overtake me. Just this strange voice in my head it seemed like. I looked at the bar owner's faint shadow from the paper lamps. I knew it then that I was in my last seconds to find some action. As I moved my hand, I realized I had it.

As the machete began to swing down, I quickly swung up. Throwing as much of my own vomit as I could physically hold into the face of the man. I don't think my intention was to escape so much as just say a final "fuck you" to the guy, because had my other hand not slipped in the very puddle of my upchuck at that instant, that machete would have made far more of an impression than a flapping ear. He and the ugly fucklings were stunned. Hell I was stunned too, though that may have been because my ear was hanging on only barely to my head. Things in the bar seemed to come to a complete stop. The only one of us who seemed to live outside of our strange little freeze in time, was the presence. In fact, the events that just transpired only seemed to feed it energy.

The boss stumbled back into the crowd, swinging in a rage, catching anyone who came close enough with his machete. The first unlucky fool, was in fact, one of his henchmen. The body hadn't hit the floor before screams began to ring out, and the packed bar began to surge in a far less organized manner toward the only exit. I decided to follow suit, though my attempt was being hindered by the now furious ugly trio. While I wrestled with the three of them, scratching, biting, pinching, anything to get free…I saw something completely unexpected. Out of the chaos, there were only two of us that noticed that the boss had regained his sight and bearings. I watched as the last of the crowd made its way past the boss, save for one man. Instead of rushing out the door, he rushed to the rear of the boss. It still seems like a blur even today. In one instant, the boss was standing poised to strike once more, and then the next, he was face down on the ground with his own blade pushed through him from the front. It was easy to see how later, authorities, thanks to the testimonies of many scared and confused bar patrons, came to believe that in his blind rage, he tripped over one of the bodies, and impaled himself on his weapon.

This was the very first time I saw the man who I later found called himself Hanzo.