A/N: I changed the rating from T to M. Takeshi's memories get pretty graphic and gory, so I'm switching it. This is getting darker and death is a much bigger part than in any of my other stories. It's interesting to write about death, and how it affects people. Does that make me sadistic?
R&R people! The story won't get better if you don't criticize and complain!
I shook angrily, staring at the ground. That was why I didn't see Takeshi until he'd slapped me.
"Baka!" he yelled. "What kind of idiotic reason is that?"
I stared at him, shocked. "But..."
"But what? Reika should die because some warlocks killed your family? Is that what you mean?" He flung his arm towards Reika, but kept staring at me. "Do you truly want to kill her? She's done what to you? Exactly nothing! Would you kill an innocent person for your misguided hate?"
"You just don't understand!" I screamed furiously. "How could you possibly understand? You bastard, who do think you are!?"
"You're right!" he shouted right back. "I don't know what you've felt. But you don't understand! I've been in the exact opposite position!"
"Then just how the hell can you know?" I shrieked.
"You don't understand! You're thinking from the wrong perspective. I'm not the prey, I am the predator!" he screamed. I stopped in shock. He continued, "I'm the killer! I am the person you should hate!" He drew in a ragged breath. "From your perspective, I would not be you. I would be the warlock."
"I wasn't always like this. I used to be an innocent young child, something we all used to be. But, when I was seven, everything changed. I was traveling with my father, Sahashi Kazuma. At the time, I naively believed that the stories that he told about his job were true. I truly believed that my father, head of the Sahashi family, was just a businessman. I had no idea what the truth was."
"We're hijacking this plane!"
Four burly men stepped out of the pilot's cabin, each with submachine guns. Father and I put our hands up in surrender. The rest of the passengers screamed.
"Kid, get out of your seat and come here, or we kill you and your old man," one of them growled. Another one leveled his gun at Father. I nodded fearfully and got up slowly, with my hands up high.
"Can't we talk about this?" Father asked.
"Shut up!" the first man yelled. "You have two choices. You can step down as head of the Sahashi family, and we all go home alive and safe. Or you can refuse, and we'll crash the plane and kill your kid. It's all on you."
"I refuse," Father said. I was shocked. Didn't he care about their threats?"
"If you say so. Frank, you know what to do." The man pointing the gun at Father nodded and reached into his jacket.
An explosion rocked the plane and everything dissolved into chaos. Father lunged for me, but one of the men grabbed me and shoved me behind them. Frank turned around and fired into the cockpit. A pained scream was heard, and the plane dropped, heading towards the ground.
"If you won't step down, we'll take you with us!" the man screeched and cackled madly. He turned and smashed my head with his gun. My head exploded with pain and I collapsed, dead to the world.
I could only remember vague flashes of pain, motion, and impact. The only vivid part I could remember was the impact of the plane. It hit with a shuddering boom, and then I couldn't remember anything.
I awoke with pain jagging its way up my arm. I whimpered and tried to move, but my left arm wouldn't move. I looked to my left to see a huge chunk of the plane just a few inches from my face. If it had fallen any closer, I would've died. It was a miracle that it hadn't crushed me.
I turned to the right to see Father standing up about thirty meters away. He was standing, but he was hunched over and cradling his right arm. Nearby, four lumps stirred and stood up. Miraculously, my father and I had survived, but the four hijackers had also. I listened closely, and I heard the cries of people trapped in the wreckage. One by one, they faded.
My father turned and started walking away. I was horrified. Wasn't he going to look for me? His son, abandoned, still alive in the plane crash?
Distantly, I saw the four men start after my father. No. I couldn't let them kill him. He was my father!
I struggled underneath the rubble, vainly trying to free my arm from the wreckage. It only caused pain to flare and it made it worse. I gave up and just lay there, until something wet touched my shoulder.
I turned, and I smelled the stench of gasoline. Terrified, I saw that it had snaked from the smashed fuel tank over to me. And, only a couple feet away, was a raging fire.
I had maybe a minute at most. I renewed my efforts to get free, but I couldn't move, and time was running out. Desperately, I reached out with my hand and grabbed the nearest object.
In my hand was a small piece of the plane's roof that vaguely resembled a knife. My gaze flicked to the fire and the gasoline. Which was worse?
I made my decision and positioned the knife above my arm. With a determined grunt, I hacked down.
Pain exploded in my arm, and I almost howled, but the fear of revealing my existence to the hijackers overrode the urge to scream. The first blow had cut to the bone, but I had to keep going. I smashed down with the roof piece again. And again. And again.
On the fifth blow, the bone broke, and I hacked down one last time. The roof piece sheared through just as the gasoline caught fire. I rolled away quickly and whimpered as my stump hit the ground. It was bleeding profusely, and I needed to stop the bleeding.
I remembered the Star Wars movies and how they didn't bleed after being cut by a lightsaber. They explained that the lightsaber blade cauterized the wound, or burned it shut.
And just behind me was a burning fire. If I wanted to survive, then it was the only choice.
I took a deep breath and pressed my mouth closed. Then I fell to my knees and stuck my arm into the fire.
I cannot describe the pain that I felt. I screamed. I couldn't hold it back. I could smell my flesh cooking. It was a nauseating smell that turned my stomach even as I writhed in pain.
I couldn't bear it any longer and I collapsed, bringing my arm out of the hell. I just lay there, chest heaving, soaked in sweat and blood, for a minute.
I heard Father yell, and I shoved myself up with strength I didn't know I had. I grabbed the roof piece and started running towards the sound.
They were approaching him, and he was surrounded. His once spotless turtleneck was burnt and torn, stained with his blood. His hair was a mess, and his blue eyes glowed with desperation.
I only remember jumping on the first guy. I knocked him down and plunged my makeshift knife into his back. The next few minutes were a blur of screams, blood, and fear. The last clear memory of that time was when I killed the last one. He had fallen on his back and was screaming in fear. I jumped on him, a one-armed child from hell, and stabbed him. Again and again, I stabbed him. His eyes dulled and his blood stopped flowing, but I stabbed him again and again. And I started laughing. Laughing because I loved the way blood caked on my skin. Loved the pain that it brought, and the adrenaline rush that it gave me. That day was the birth of a monster. A monster in the body of a seven-year old child. Me.
"That's what I was!" Takeshi screamed at me, tears running down his face. I stood, horrified at what he'd gone through. "That's what I did for three goddamned years! I killed! Killed! Killed! Killed! First soldiers and mercenaries, people that were expected to die! Then political targets! Ones that helped us gain political favor through favors and pure fear! Nothing else! And then during the last several months, I took personal contracts! People who didn't deserve to die! Exes, boyfriends, girlfriends, fathers, mothers, children, entire families! They meant NOTHING! Nothing at all to me! Just the thrill of perfectly memorizing their schedule so no one would know. That one perfect sniper shot. The thrill of carving someone's flesh!"
His voice broke and he whispered, "That's who you should hate. The people who take joy in killing. Not their ethnicities, or races. Hate who they are, inside. That's why I kill murderers. Because I don't want anyone to be like me. No one should be able to do that. But they could, and they can, and they do." He stared up at me, right into my eyes, and, in that moment, I saw the burden he carried. The blood on his hands, the horrors, that he'd not only witnessed, but been the cause of.
"So don't ever feel guilty to kill a murderer," he said coldly. "Never hesitate, never stop. Just stop them. One for a hundred. A hundred for a million. Whatever it takes." He turned away from Reika and me, and stalked away, towards the edge of the roof.
Before I could react, he started running. He ran towards the railing lining the edge of the roof and used it as a step to gain more height and distance. He landed and rolled on the building beyond, then started running again. Running away.
I dropped to my knees. "How can he still live like that?" I whispered. "How can he bear that burden upon himself and still live life like he is now?"
"I don't know," Reika answered. I looked up at her. Her face was tear streaked, just as mine was. "But one thing I do know is that he is not entirely human. He doesn't smell right. Human, but with something else mixed in. It's familiar, but I just can't place it."
I nodded. "He'd have to be at least non-human to bear that." I rose. And bowed to Reika. "I apologize for my earlier behavior. It was rude and unjustified."
"I accept your apology," the small girl said solemnly. "We should go," she added. "We've been up here for a while. I don't want others to get worried."
"We should," I agreed. We walked towards the rooftop door. Two girls, once bitter enemies, now joined together by the same boy, no, man named Sahashi Takeshi.
I ran over the rooftops, trying to escape the horror of my own memories. Every one of my memories was bloody, hellish, and deserved to be locked away.
I had been running for about ten minutes, with no destination in mind, when a man in black armor dropped in front of me. I slid to a stop, breathing heavily.
"I, Kaneshiro Haseo, challenge you to a duel," the man declared confidently. He reached back and drew a sword from his back. It was a black scimitar, with an ornate scorpion as the crossguard. In his left hand, he held three throwing knives between his fingers.
"I accept," I snarled, and leapt forwards. I needed to channel out my anger and tension. This would work nicely.
Haseo dashed to the side and threw the knives at me. I dropped and skidded along the rooftop, going under them. I pulled my gun out of my pants and went after him.
He darted forwards and brought his scimitar to bear. I squeezed off three shots, but he dodged and deflected them all. I scowled and shoved it back into my pants. I created a blade with my left arm and charged forwards. We exchanged fast, furious blows, the ringing of metal echoing through the still air. Suddenly, he ducked and aimed a blow at my knees. I tried to jump away, but my feet were anchored to the rooftop. Swearing, I instantly formed my arm into a gun and brought it to bear. I fired, but he blocked it with his sword, skidding back a couple feet from the force of the bullet. I took the opportunity to heat my arm and swipe it around my feet. The ice shattered and melted, and I jumped back, gaining some distance and time.
"Is that all you've got?" Haseo sneered. He slammed his hands down to the floor and spoke. "Blinding white ice, binding and frozen, lend me your strength to freeze my enemies in their paths!" Jagged spires of ice about four and a half feet tall sprouted out of the ground and raced towards me. I dodge rolled to the side and it barely missed, but not without creating a shallow cut on my right arm. It instantly went numb, and I lost all feeling in it.
I laughed hoarsely. "So I'm one-armed again." I dropped my stance and just stood there, laughing. Haseo stopped, with a curious look on his face.
"Have you no fear?" he asked. "Me, the prodigious son of the Kaneshiro family? Do you not fear me?"
"I have lost my ability to fear," I said. "Tell me, can anyone use any spell if they know the incantation?"
Haseo, surprised, answered, "Of course, but if their affinity is wrong, then it will affect the strength of the spell."
I grinned. "Good." I adopted the same position as Haseo had and yelled, "Blinding white ice, binding and frozen, lend me your strength to freeze my enemies in their paths!"
Ice sprouted out of the ground, just like Haseo's had, but this time, the ice spires were ten feet tall. They were instantly at Haseo's position, but he jumped away, but with much more grievous injuries than my own. The ice cut deeply into his abdomen, and into his leg. He dropped to the ground, breathing heavily.
"What? How did you…" he gasped, holding a hand to his side. Blood leaked between his fingers to splash to the ground.
"Have you heard of the One-Armed Child?"
Haseo whipped his head up towards me. "Of course. Who hasn't? A child with only one arm, rumored to be the greatest assassin in the world."
I ripped off my shirt, and Haseo gasped. "You're the One-Armed Child, aren't you?" He backed away. "Oh god, I'm sorry, I never thought you would participate in the War.
"Know this," I said coldly, and concentrated. My wings burst out of my back, and Haseo gaped in fear. "The One-Armed Child lives, and participates in the War. Tell me," I asked softly, "Have you ever killed someone?"
"Yes," Haseo stuttered out.
My gaze hardened. "Then I will kill you." I walked forwards and pulled my gun out of my pants. I stopped three feet from him and pointed it at him. "Any last words?"
"Oh god, don't kill me!" Haseo shrieked. "I'm the son of Kaneshiro Hideo! I can give you money! Women! Power!"
"I have no need for any of that," I snarled. "I belong to the Sahashi family. That is enough for me." I cocked the gun. "So, will you die cowardly like the pathetic murderer you are? Or will you make a last request?"
Haseo finally gave in. His face turned into one of acceptance, because he knew that he wasn't going to live. "Please, protect my sister, then. It would do me much good to know that she's protected by one of the best assassins in the world." A single tear escaped his eye.
"I promise you that I will," I said. "Are you prepared?"
Haseo nodded. I pulled the trigger.
His head snapped back and he lay still. Suddenly, a white ball of energy coalesced above his chest. Shining brightly, it grew brighter and brighter until it was too bright to look at. I shielded my eyes, and when the glow faded, I looked back.
Floating above Haseo's body was a medium sized dagger. It was the perfect size for my hand and looked like it could be thrown. I reached out and grabbed it. The dagger was the right size to be used in actual combat, like a combat knife, but was also weighted so it could be thrown. On the hilt was the same scorpion that had been on Haseo's scimitar.
After a moment, it faded, and an intense pain burned on my back. I fell to my knees and hissed in pain. It only lasted a moment, and then it faded.
What was that? Weird things had been happening to me all day. First, I grew wings. And now this dagger. I felt my back, but it felt just as smooth as it had before. Well, as smooth as it could be with all the scars I had.
But I knew that I had just felt a burning pain before, and also with the wings. It was a familiar pain. The exact same one I had experienced when I burned my arm shut. The bite of the flame.
I sighed and sat down next to Haseo. By now, the sun was setting, I stared at my hands. They looked exactly the same. And yet… I flapped my wings. Something was happening to me. Something different, non-human. And, to be honest, it didn't feel good. Something felt wrong. Like emptiness inside, a hole I couldn't fill. A deep, dark hole, with no light. Or maybe it wasn't a hole.
Maybe it was a cage.