Revenge, Inc. Part 13: A Short Story
Happy New Year everyone and welcome back. I apologize for being tardy (I never liked that word) as this is the longest installment so far and I wanted to make sure that I cross all my T's and dotted all of my I's before publishing this. Being away from home, I wrote much of this installment--over 800 words with my Samsung Intrepid using Windows Mobile 6.5. I do hope that you enjoy reading this as I went through great pains (ouch) to write this. I also want to forewarn any of you before reading this, as this is by far, the bloodiest installment to date, among other things. But all of this was expected, at least by me. I urge you to skip this installment if you are not akin to violence and bloodshed. Thank you so much for your patience and enduring support. Without you, I'm writing for a hall full of empty seats.
And of course if you're new to this series, I highly recommend that you start off by reading Part 1. Please click on the corresponding links below. Happy New Year to you and yours!
May the Spirits Watch Over You
Tanaka spotted first the Oda Clan's four ships anchored on the
opposite side of where the Watanabe Clan's ship, Ritsuko, sat
anchored near the southern shore of Jirai, but unlike the Watanabes, the
Odas used long boats to reach the shore. Their number was overwhelming
to say the least. We were easily outnumbered ten-to-one. As soon as the Watanabe Clan prepared themselves as best they could with little time they had, they knelt down before Master Akira who spoke out loud:
"This is the night you've long expected. Now is the time to pay with honor, the crimes of our ancestors and of ourselves. It is dependent upon you to carry on the tradition that is Watanabe. You know your stations and know better than your adversaries, the terrain of Jirai.". Master Akira then turned to Katsuro and Natsumi and when doing so, he placed his hands on each their shoulders. "My children, I pray that you will see again the sunrise tomorrow. I am proud of both of you. I could not have asked of anything more." He then returned his attention to all of us: "May the spirits watch over you."
"And they over you!" Was the succinct cry heard inside the stilted house. The entire Watanabe clan then rose off the floor and charged outside and into the storm. It was beginning to rain heavily.
"Cody-san!" He yelled out to me. I turned around and came back to him. "Now, listen to me very carefully. I do not want you to fight, as this is not your fight. This is Watanabe business. This is between Oda and Watanabe Clans.". I was hurt to hear this, maybe even angry. On average, each member of the Watanabe Clan would have to consequently defeat at least ten Oda Clan members to stand a chance. Now Master Akira was telling me to sit this one out? He must be toying with me, I thought. For the first time upon meeting the acquaintance of Master Akira, I was ready and willing to disobey him. I kowtowed before him:
"That is something I cannot do, Master. You will have to kill me first before. I'm apologize if I dishonor you with my decision to fight. To fight for you and for the Watanabe Clan is the best way I know how to honor you. To prevent me from honoring you, my master, would be dishonorable on your part. I apologize if you do not agree with me."
Master Akira gave me a nod and just as he did, the first of the Oda Clans' first volley of flaming arrows flew and reached their designated target, the tinderbox of a house. A few minutes, the house would be in flaming ruin despite the downpour of rain.
"It has begun," Master Akira said to me.
There was a new moon out that night.
The Battle For Jirai Island
There no words of confrontation between two sides like you see in the movies, where two leaders exchange heated dialogue and blatantly argue their cases before thrashing one another while each the others gentry looked on, patiently waiting for their cue to attack. No, no such build up of drama here, as each member of the warring clans literally went straight for the others' throat.
As I’ve said before, I’ve never killed intentionally and to that effect, I’m holding true to my word--for now. These droplets of rain are hitting me hard but I’m able to detract them and keep dry. I’m preventing myself from becoming moist. I remember to breathe in an exhale a breath, a blow, to the oncoming onslaught of sword and shuriken in mid-flight. I use that tame energy against my oppressors who think they know the darkness better than me—me, who had spent the past six months in it, living it, breathing it in, breathing it out, becoming It. I close my eyes to see them better than they could ever see me. I can hear them better than they can hear themselves. I’m searching for limbs and appendages. I don’t want to kill. I want to only disarm and dismember. An enemy that cannot fight relinquishes his title as an enemy, so long as he can no longer do anymore harm to anyone. In close contact, I’m causing compound fractures, breaking noses, breaking faces. I must admit, I get some satisfaction of hearing my silent foe screaming in terror as they see with their own eyes, their bone peering through their fleshy skin. So on the beach I leave them fighting for air and forever maimed. They’ll live, I tell myself as I walk away. You left them alive and that’s all that matters.
In battle, it was almost too easy. Each time I feigned an attack, my enemy fell for the trap I set and paid dearly. I'm painted by their mistakes and irrational judgment.
Every single one of their eyes are the eyes of Haley’s assailant and in each, I despise them wholeheartedly. I want to share with them the pain I felt and the pain my daughter must have felt upon falling victim to such a crime. I know that I am in the right. This violence was unprovoked and not by me. In defense of this Island, I am now a protector and who better to defend this Island than me?
The Oda’s come in waves and try desperately to drown us out like rats. Their multitude far exceeds our meager number and that was their plan. This was an all out war. I smile at the notion that they had no previous knowledge upon planning their attack, of a green eyed ninja, a foreigner, a gai jin to muff up their plans of total annihilation. I don’t mean to get overconfident, but maybe I can tip the scales in the Watanabe Clan’s favor.
A rush of dread overcome me, as if I was being summoned upon from a distance. Say what you will, but with my heightened awareness, I trusted internal instinct more than my own logic. I had the sudden urge to head back to the stilted house which by now was engulfed in flames and by the looks of it, was ready to collapse at any given moment. As I rush back, bodies are strewn every which way and by the looks of it, we were winning. The rest of the Watanabe Clan weren’t as diplomatic as me, or were they?
Segue To Hiroshi Pass
I recalled the time when training with the Bo staff with Master Akira while balancing myself atop the Hiroshi Pass, which was nothing more than a mere log that connected two high cliffs. It difficult to here his instruction over the torrent of waterfall crashing below into white foam:
"What is your favorite weapon, Cody-san?" When he asked me this, his Bo was at rest, but was always ready to strike. The worst thing one could do is to become "complacent of one's own enemy." Of course Master Akira taught me that. It was an easy question.
"The katana," I said. He knew that I was going to say that. It was the only reason why he asked me anything. He was clever like that; by only asking me questions he already knew the answers to. He smiled.
"Why?" Suddenly, he raised his Bo staff and began twirling it like an oversized baton. I raised mine in response.
"The katana flows like a river. It can maneuver around obstacles or go directly through it. With enough force, it could pulverize a mountain. It knows no lies and has no mercy. It has no equal. Its nature is unmatched. Infinitely sharp and fierce, it is boundless in its energy. Where there is no absolutes, the katana stands alone and is the embodiment of truth. It is now an extension of myself. My spirit is in harmony with my katana and to the end of my days, my spirit is bonded with my katana as the fire that forged it. It is the perfect weapon."
"No, Cody-san." I was stunned. I recited the entire Edict of Watanabe. I thought it through and found no flaws in my verse as I've recited over and over again and at times mumbled it as sleep took hold of me at night.
"I don't understand, Master Akira." He held his Bo staff in front of him and was at rest.
"The real weapon is the warrior, Cody-san. Through training with the katana, you became katana. By mastering katana, you became the ultimate weapon--the perfect weapon. Therein lies the true warrior within--inside--like a sleeping dragon. You fight with honor and passion in memory of your daughter, Cody-san. Over the years, I taught you to fight fear and to see without seeing. Despite the negativity around you especially by my son, Katsuro, you persevered and not once given up, as you approached your training with an open mind. You are my greatest student, Cody-san. Did you know that? You have surpassed even my greatest expectations and for that, I honor you." Master Akira then bowed to me.
"Thank you," was my reply. I was overwhelmed by such act of honor, for here was my master bowing to me his student. I felt compelled to help him up but dared not try.
"But you are not fearless, Cody-san. This I know and this you cannot hide...What is it that you fear? Ah, no. Please do not answer. Master Akira knows the uneasiness of your heart. You used to fear one thing, but now, you fear two things. The first is that you'll die without ever having found the person that killed your daughter. This is obvious, but the other reason is not so..."
At this point, I kept quiet and didn't say a word, focusing my mind on the emptiness of the still air so as to clear my mind of any thoughts he may be able to read...
A Hero Falls
The flames were climbing higher and higher as what once was the Watanabe stilted house was all but ready to collapse like a burning house of cards. It's walls were falling down one by one. The heat was overwhelming and so too were the Odas. Master Akira's endurance was all but spent--I could see it in his eyes the dying flame of life. His defenses were being wiped out as he could barely take on one ninja, let alone three. It was then that it all came together. The history between the two Clans--the palpable hatred that existed for over three-hundred years...It was Master Akira all along...He was the target, the ONLY target. Master Akira was completely surrounded and when first he saw me he smiled.
"Cody-san," Master Akira said to me as if exchanging pleasantries in times of peace.
Just then, the ninja looked at me and without breaking his eye contact, impaled Master Akira who fell down onto his knees and was motionless. There was a satisfaction in his eyes when his blade made it clean through. I was too late. I charged at the group and the other two ninjas came at me swinging their ninjatos in an attempt to overtake me. But I dodge the first swing and came up, carving a vertical incision from groin to chin and left the bastard quivering atop the smoldering floorboards. I then swung around the catch the second swing and twisted wrist and caught the second ninja with my elbow then followed through with a slash to castrate his right hand. He looked at me with shocked surprise and fell to the floor and attempted to locate his missing hand. The third ninja was and charged straight at him. He winked at me while waiting by holding still his ninjato straight up. I wasted no time. I did a head fake which he didn't fall for but then caught him by surprise, as I came across in a diagonal motion with such force that I cut his blade in half along with half his head in the process. When he fell to the floor, I wiped what I thought was sweat from my face. I immediately went over to my master and tried to help him up, but he wouldn't budge.
"Master? Can you hear me?" He looked as if in meditation. He was kneeling in a pool of radiant blood. With his head raised, he spoke to me for what would be the last time.
"I am now complete, Cody-san. I have paid my debt. I have honored my family. I'm going to leave now and find my wife...In your training, you have been forged in the fire of anger and once you have taken form you were cooled by the water of wisdom. You are reborn. Cody-san you are no more. You are now Marak. I have taught you all that I know, just as it was decreed to me. Funny thing is that you taught me much as well...The student teaches the teacher, eh?"
"This house is burning down! We have to leave, right now!" He laughed at me.
"This house has been burning for over three-hundred years...Only now is it crumbling. Leave now, Cody-san, and fulfill your promise. You have made me very, very proud." And with that he touched my face and smiled for the very last time.
© Copyright 2010. All Rights Reserved.
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