Revenge Inc. Part 12: A Short Story
Hello, everyone and welcome back. I hope that all of you enjoyed your holiday. I certainly did. Seeing all of my family together again is always a great and joyous occasion, so long as a sword fight doesn't break out (just kidding). For those of you that were skeptical on whether or not this next installment in the series would be ready like always, I'm glad that I proved you wrong. I once read that Stephen King writes on his birthday, on weekends, leap years, and while on family vacations, no matter what. Okay, there was a short period of time in 1999 when he was bedridden after having almost lost his life due to being struck by a cargo van while walking, but that's excusable. I want to follow suit and to write no matter what (and not that getting hit by a cargo van part). As always, I thank you for your readership. Thanks again.
Of course, if you have yet to read the previous installments, please do so starting with Part 1, as there's much that goes on that needs to first be established before you'll understand what happens next!
“Before the end of the 16th century there were only two warring ninja or shinobi clans—the Kogas and the Igas. The daimyo Oda Nobunaga practically put an end to the ninjas of the Iga province and those that survived the onslaught fled to the mountains of Kii and some others gave their allegiance to the Tokugawas in exchange for immunity. Hattori Hanzo was part of such group…Of course you’ve heard of him?”
“Of course. Hattori Hanzo is the legendary swordsman. He is a legend in his own rite. His craftsmanship is unmatched…Is he the one that forged the Watanabe Katana?” Natsumi smiled.
“He is my ancestor, Cody, my blood relative. Names were changed to Watanabe for fear of safety, but his blood flows through my veins. You cannot change your blood the way you can change your name.” She then showed me her bare wrist as if to prove it. “Soon after Oda Nobunaga forced our clan into exile, those of the remaining Igas vowed vengeance and when he formed the Oda Clans, we vowed to force them into exile much the same way. But something else happened…”
“Yes, Nobunaga grew in power. He became a warlord. His Oda Clan would make an alliance with the Imagawa clan of Suruga Province and the Kira clan of Mikawa Province. It was very clever and strategic move on Nobunaga’s part, as each clan shared the same shugo, or governor.”
“And with such allies, Nobunaga was assured that his borders would not be attacked and certainly not by any exiles. He would go on to conquer most of the provinces of Japan. And when he was nearly defeated during the Battle of Anegawa in which the Tokugawa leyasu joined forces with Nobunaga to help defeat the Asakura and Azai clans, he murdered almost 4,000 innocent men, women and children in Enryaku-ji as a show of force. The Buddhists there had taken arms and refused to be conquered and so paid the ultimate price. Enryaku-ji was a cultural symbol at the time. Again, in Nagashima, he suffered tremendous losses to the Ikko led by Ishiyama Hongan-ji. After several tries, Nobunaga’s forces surrounded the entire province and set fire to it, killing tens of thousands including women and children. Nobunaga didn’t care, as he thought himself a god.”
“You mean to tell me that all these years, the Watanabe Clan is still warring with the Oda Clans?”
“We’re not the only ones, Cody. This goes beyond making exiles of us at one time. One could argue that were it not for Nobunaga, Japan would not have been unified only because he conquered it first and were it not for him, the Tokugawa Shogunate would not have been formed, as they bought lasting order to Japan. Although I’m glad that he was defeated by the Akechi Mitsuhide, the samurai, who forced him to commit seppuku, or suicide, his bloodline continues to this day…” Natsumi then turned to. Her eyes were moist. “I’ve killed people, Cody. Most of the time, they didn’t see or hear me. I killed them while they slept. But they were, all of them evil, as they made the lives of others a living hell…Or maybe it was their relatives that did so and tore apart the lives of others. The Watanabe Clan is not what you think, Cody. Revenge is in our blood.”
“But you did so in the name of honor, for the sake of your family?”
“I did it because my family name dictates that I do. I chose this life for myself. In all of us, we have a debt to repay. We must honor that debt.”
“Do you really believe that? Or was this path chosen for you? Were you ever made to believe that you had a choice in the first place?”
“My grandfather had many enemies. This is the side of the Watanabes that is hidden in the public eye. We live in the shadow. We are mercenaries of our honor with my father as the daimyo.”
Natsumi then turned away from me and began to softly cry. I went over to her and held her close.
“I look into your eyes and know that you are no killer, Natsumi. There’s just too much compassion in you. You are weakened by what your heart is telling you, that it’s wrong to kill, and I didn’t need some extra-sensory power to know this.” I then leaned forward to kiss her and felt the warmth of her bare, trembling body against my own. I felt and heard her breathing throughout, along with the rise and fall whilst inside her. It was something that both of us very much needed.
Master Akira said to me, “Training is over, Cody-san. You are now, monomi, or 'one who sees.' Now, you come back to physical world. You are blind no more.” And with that said, I stepped out of the darkness and into the world of light. It was the brightest of light that I could recall. Although while in my darkness, I of course could feel the soothing rays of the sun while running along the beach and training with Master Akira, my guide. Best of all, I could feel the warmth of the fire or the soft cheek of Natsumi, my companion. And just as apparent was the fire that was Katsuro, who was always battle-ready while awaiting the day when my training is complete. It was Katsuro who was my only adversary on Jirai. He was my impetus to train harder—faster—better…I wanted to face him and defeat him so badly. I wanted to prove to him, to Master Akira, to Natsumi, and the Watanabe Clan, that a gai jin can master the art of Ninjitsu. I wanted to defeat him for my own sake. I wanted to defeat him for Haley. Only then could I feel confident enough that I will be able to go forward.
There is that paradox of seeing better without my eyes, if you can believe that. In the manner of speaking, it involves imagining from memory the objects all around you. And much the same way a child uses a coloring book, you color-in those objects with a box of virtual crayons. In doing so, I can color as much or as little as I so choose; for the first time in my life, the world around me was alive and loud. Something could certainly be said, or heard, upon relying one’s own ears as a matter of life and death, as the ability to hear a shuriken in flight coming at me from fifty-yards away, or the footsteps of an approaching enemy…I can hear him breathing or pick up his scent, just as easily as a hound dog. I can feel it in the air, the sudden change of motion and direction. The wind tells me everything I need to know.
Showdown with Katsuro
"So how does one fight an invisible enemy? Seems virtually impossible. It goes much the same way as a chess match between two evenly matched opponents. Many times, training can be very similar. Only way ninja can defeat another ninja is by using tactics outside his own training. Training, at times, can be very predictable as the training most likely derived from the very same source. But the ninja made things right and other times, struck fear into the hearts and minds of their enemies…"
“That’s what I want to do.”
“Which? Make things right, or strike fear?”
Just then, practically the entire Watanabe clan surrounded the two of us, forming a circle near the shore of the beach. In the crowd was Natsumi who, at for glance, didn’t look a bit amused. But I knew better and something was definitely up. The sparkle in her eyes was enough of a hint. The circle was broken when Katsuro made his way inside. He had a shit eating grin on his face—an expression anyone would be happy to get rid of.
“Pass me Katana, Cody-san…Sparring only.”
So I did and saw too that Katsuro was unarmed. Never before had I been so ready to fight someone. First, Katsuro turned and bowed to his father, which I did likewise. He then turned to me and gave me a slight nod. I should have kicked him then. Katsuro then dropped to a stance and was full-on ready for me to make the first move. He was taunting me. I would have preferred a sword fight, but this would have to do. I was in a cock-fight against the biggest of all "cocks" and I was ready. I threw the fist jab, which he easily blocked, which I of course expected. My second jab was blocked as well and I expected that too. After this went for a time, Katsuro then turned around and surprise me with a roundhouse kick which I a bit of a surprise. I went down to sweep his leg from under him and got—that was until he did some showboating with a back flip and upon landing, he taunted me again. Tanaka, who was standing behind him, said something to which Katsuro responded with something else in Japanese, which was the equivalent of, “Whatever.” A couple of the ninjas found it funny too and so began laughing.
“Never mind, Cody-san. Focus.”
I gave Master Akira a nod and charged in, feigning a punch but in doing so, got lunged punch instead. I checked my nose for the report and found a couple of drops of blood. More laughter from the crowd. I went in for a frontal kick and missed, because Katsuro did a forward flip in the air and landed behind me and then proceeded to knee me in the back, knocking the wind out of me in the process and brought me to my knees. Master Akira took a step forward towards me and I waved him off. As soon as I regained my breath, I stood up.
After watching Katsuro practicing his routines so many
times, I couldn’t help but remember it verbatim. This also included the fight he had with
Tanaka and during his exercises. I
imagined his movements and so prepared for it.
I took the hits to be sure of his next series of follow-throughs. Katsuro did this thing where he did a series
of kicks, mostly roundhouses at blurring speed.
I had to time it perfectly and so when I saw my opening, I took it. I caught him right in the nuts, which was a
nice, wide opening. It caught him off
guard and brought him immediately to the sand, into a fetal position, while
clutching his privates. My audience was stunned with the exception of Natsumi and Master Akira.
I turned to Master Akira and bowed to him and he returned the favor. He smiled at me. When I looked over at Natsumi, I found that she too was smiling at me.
Just then, one of our scouts, Tashiro, ran over to us. He was out of breath and talking very fast in Japanese. All I could make out was the word, “storm.”
“What is it?” I said, turning to Master Akira.
“We have visitors. They will be here very soon. The day I feared has finally arrived. You’re training is officially over, Cody-san.” He then handed me my Katana with both his hands.
“What was that about a storm?” Master Akira shook his head.
“That their numbers are like drops of rain in a storm.”
© Copyright 2009. All Rights Reserved.
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