My Hero - Chapter 6 - Going to Die
De Garonne cursed as he paced around the cheap, inconspicuous hotel room. He suddenly despised everything about it, from the worn carpet to the faded wallpaper. Despite his best efforts, his mind was racing with torment and self-loathing. He sat down at the edge of the neat and simple bed, feeling like he was going to be sick.
His reactions seemed to be normal, however, considering the magnitude of what he had just lost only moments ago. How was he suppose to complete his objective if the target he was pursuing had possession of his rifle- no, his very livelihood?
"…" De Garonne stared blankly at the wall, and then his cold, dark eyes made their way to his cell phone on the faux-wood table. Taking it in his hands with a sense of determination, he began scrolling through his notes until he found what he was looking for.
"I'll fix this," he said aloud, quietly reassuring himself. While De Garonne hadn't wanted to take this route, the situation had gotten out of hand. He had fled the scene without taking the steps to secure his rifle case, and so he had allowed the target, that Yoshimitsu bastard, to take it all. That was a mistake not even a rookie would make, and although De Garonne was not a seasoned veteran, he certainly considered himself a little more experienced that any other punk with a gun.
De Garonne quickly memorized the apartment address from the notes in his phone and, grabbing what little he had left, he rose to his feet and left that small hotel room for good.
"You've made a lot of improvement, Master," complimented Harper, just having finished teaching an English lesson to Yoshimitsu for the past hour. "Until tomorrow, then." He bowed to Yoshimitsu, and Yoshimitsu bowed his head in reply.
The two rose from their seats at the long, polished table and made their way out of one of the smaller conference rooms in the Main Building, located at the center of the Manji Clan Complex. Once outside, the two were greeted by the usual movement and clamor that enveloped the complex on a daily basis. Scattered amongst the various stations, political refugees from across the globe were either getting food or medical attention.
Harper quickly went to work and Yoshimitsu proceeded to walk to each station and make an overview of the progress. Just as Yoshimitsu neared the food station, he heard a rather urgent shout come from the direction of the Main Building, and he let out a heavy sigh when he saw the small figure running down the large steps.
"Yoshimitsu!" shouted Xiaoyu, making her way through the crowd. The noon sun was shining brightly, and it put a slight shine in Xiaoyu's dark hair. Her pigtails swung to and fro as she jogged up to Yoshimitsu.
"What is it?" asked Yoshimitsu inquisitively, stepping away from the crowd. He noted how refreshing it was to see someone so out of place as Xiaoyu was in the Manji Clan Complex.
"I got a call from my friend Miharu. She asked me to come over to her place because she has something important to talk to me about," said Xiaoyu, her brows furrowing with worry, "It sounds serious. Do you think I could go back to see her?"
Yoshimitsu thought for a moment and then replied with his deep voice as metallic and unflinching as ever.
"It seems suspicious. Did she sound distressed?"
"Distressed?" asked Xiaoyu, puzzled. "You don't think… You don't think she could be in trouble, do you?" Growing increasingly anxious, Xiaoyu crossed her arms together as if to comfort herself. Her arms looked lean and strong against the soft fabric of her pink, floral print dress. The dress stopped just above her knees, and it looked like it was dancing in the breeze.
Yoshimitsu let out a heavy sigh. Things were getting more and more complicated. He tried to think logically about the possibility of a trap, but instead he found his mind flooded with something else. Something intangible and frustrating. He let his mind go, for an instant, on the idea of Xiaoyu arriving at her friend's place only to be captured and maybe even harmed, and it left a bitter taste in his mouth and a clench in his jaw.
"It doesn't seem right," stated Yoshimitsu, glancing around. The daily operations seemed to be going smoothly, and Kawamitsu hadn't reported any meeting for today. "Well… They need all the trucks for supply distribution, and the helicopter is being worked on, so we'll have to take Gessekai."
"Gessekai?" Xiaoyu asked, a bewildered look on her face.
"W-Woah!" Xiaoyu shrieked, tightening her grip around Yoshimitsu's waist as the brilliantly white horse they were riding leaped over a fallen log. Gessekai, named for his coat's resemblance of a bright moon, ran quickly though the forest, his hooves beating down on the leaf-covered ground with each pace.
"Yaa!" shouted Yoshimitsu, whipping the reins a little. They continued to make their way down the trail, brushing past branches and shrubs. Yoshimitsu felt enlivened from the exhilaration of the ride, while Xiaoyu could barely keep her eyes open.
Xiaoyu continued to hold on to him tightly, trying not to think of how painful it would be to fall off. As she did, however, she couldn't help but become more and more aware of Yoshimitsu and the energy he seemed to give off. She could sense him under the layers of synthetic fibers and armor. As far as she could tell, there was a beating heart somewhere in there, and there was definitely a shining soul. She could almost feel the muscles in his waist and back moving in sync with the rhythm of Gessekai's gallop. The armored plates covering his mysterious wings felt oddly warm against her cheek. As she sat there, her eyes closed, she could almost hear the inner workings of this strange man, and then all at once they were still.
Xiaoyu opened her eyes and saw that Yoshimitsu had brought Gessekai to a halt. They were nearing the outskirts of the city, and it was here where Yoshimitsu could begin to sense the changing environment as the forest began to merge into suburbia.
"We're going to walk from here," stated Yoshimitsu as he dismounted and began helping Xiaoyu down. He then turned to Gessekai, patting him on the neck, "Go home, Gessekai." With a slap to the rump, Gessekai took off back the way they came, disappearing into the forest.
"He'll know the way back?" asked Xiaoyu, a hint of worry in her voice.
"He'll be fine. He's a smart horse, after all," answered Yoshimitsu. He glanced over at Xiaoyu, and he could tell right away that she wasn't her usual self. "Don't worry, Xiao. I'll get you to your friend Miharu and everything will be alright."
Xiaoyu nodded, showing the glimpse of a smile, and the two continued on.
After a quick elevator ride and a little lock-picking, de Garonne found himself in the humble apartment of a one Ling Xiaoyu. He stood in the living room with a small flash light in his gloved hand, not wanting to turn the light on for fear of being detected. He quietly made his way through the living room and into her bedroom.
He then made his way to her desk, seeing the photos displayed there, and he looked at each one carefully, making sure not to pick them up. One photo was Ling Xiaoyu and a female classmate- Japanese, from the looks of her. The other photo was Ling Xiaoyu, a male student, and a live panda- more than likely from one of the local zoos. He drew out his cell phone and took pictures of both photos.
De Garonne left the desk and looked at the various picture frames on the walls. Most of them were pictures of beautiful scenery and animals, but a couple of them were awards. He took a step closer to one and saw that she had been presented an award from the Mishima Polytechnical School.
Having already begun to plan his next move, de Garonne made his way to the front door, being sure to lock it on his way out. As he walked down the brightly lit hallway, his mind began to wander. He thought of his own time in school, back at the College Privé Notre Dame in Bayonne. Life seemed so simple, then, with nothing for him to worry about except passing his finals and getting back to Tarnos while the surf was still good.
The chime of the elevator brought him back to reality, and he stood there for a few moments, not realizing he had already walked down the hall and pressed the button to go downstairs. He shook his head and stepped into the elevator, taking his place beside a young couple.
They glanced at him for a moment, but then resumed their nonchalant conversation. There was nothing unusual about him, really, in his dark-wash jeans and wine-colored button-up shirt. He could pass for any other foreign tourists spending all their money and time in Tokyo.
Once out of the building, he made his way to the bus stop and took a seat on the bench beside an old woman who was talking on a cell phone. He smiled a little at the contrast, and he quickly went to work looking up the address for the Mishima Polytechnical School.
'Let's see just how loyal Ling Xiaoyu's friends are," he thought, just in time for the bus to pull up and open it's doors in greeting.
Miharu kicked at a pebble on the sidewalk and looked down at her wrist watch. The weekend lab she had been assigned to do went by as it usually did: boring and uneventful. Now all that was left for her to do was to wait for the bus to come pick her up and take her back to her apartment so that she could try to enjoy what little weekend time she had left.
'I haven't heard from Xiao all day,' thought Miharu, 'I wonder what she's up to.' Just then, a bus pulled up across the street, and Miharu watched casually as a foreigner in a dark red shirt stepped out of the bus.
She didn't think it was too odd when the stranger glanced at her and then pulled out his cell phone. It's natural to glance at others and he was probably just checking the time. But then she did begin to take more interest when he looked back up at her and immediately looked back down at his phone.
Miharu took her eyes away, hoping the bus would hurry up. It was then that bitter worry began to fill her throat when the stranger started to cross the street. It was later in the day, and there were a few people out, but there weren't many cars around and it was getting darker.
'He's just going to transfer on to the next bus on this line,' she assured herself as she tried not to shiver, 'That must be it.'
"P-Please let me go!" shouted Miharu, looking up at the stranger. He had gotten on the same bus she had, just as Miharu had told herself he would. But it didn't take much for him to follow her to her apartment building. He now had her outside in the neighboring alley way, crouched down beside a dumpster so that no one could see or hear her unless they venture deep into the alley.
"Look, little girl, I already told you that I'm not going to hurt you," responded de Garonne, with genuine honesty in his voice, "I just need you to call your friend Ling Xiaoyu. Just tell her that you want to talk to her. That's it. Do that and I'll let you go, but don't you even think about running to the authorities about this. You don't want your friend Ms. Ling to get hurt, do you?"
Miharu stifled a cry, trying to keep her hands from shaking as fumbled for her cell phone. With the press of a few buttons, the phone was ringing as she waited for Xiaoyu to pick up, her heart racing.
"X-Xiaoyu? It's me. Miharu. Yeah, I'm fine, I'm fine. Look, I… I need to talk to you… No, nothing's wrong. I just need to talk to you… As soon as you can… Where?" Miharu's eyes shot up at de Garonne, wide with fear. He let out a frustrated sigh and motioned towards the apartment building with his handgun. "M-My place! Yes, meet me at my place… Please hurry." As soon as she hung up, de Garonne snatched the phone from her hands.
"…!" Miharu tried to reach for it, but the stranger had stepped back, pointing the gun at her.
"Now," he began, his voice solid and dark, "Get up. We're going upstairs to your apartment, and we're going to wait for her."
Miharu's eyes grew wider and she couldn't hold back a terrified whimper at the idea of this dangerous man coming into her apartment with the two of them alone. Her eyes began to well up with tears, and all at once de Garonne wished she wouldn't look at him like that.
At gun point, Miharu had led him quietly to her apartment on the 8th floor. Once inside, he instructed her to sit on the couch while he stood at the window, occasionally glancing out to see if Xiaoyu had arrived. Miharu, while not completely regaining her sense of ease, was at least a little relieved to see that he more than likely wasn't going to hurt her. At least not yet.
The city bus finally came to a stop half a block away from the apartment building. Ignoring the curious glances from the few passengers, Yoshimitsu and Xiaoyu rose and stepped out of the bus. Yoshimitsu noted how late it was and how few people were outside in this area. There was a rather large park nearby, and a little area for merchant stands and the like, but aside from that it was just old apartment buildings.
Xiaoyu took no time in rushing down the street to the apartment building. She glanced up at the window she knew to be Miharu's, and she could see the lights on.
Meanwhile, de Garonne, remembering the last time he was too close to the window, stood at a safe enough distance so that he could peek through the blinds and not be seen. His heart skipped a beat when he saw Xiaoyu making her way down the street, and he gritted his teeth at the sight of Yoshimitsu, his grotesque suit of armor reflecting the street lights below.
Quickly, de Garonne pointed his handgun at Miharu. "Call her!" he ordered, "Call her and tell her to come up alone."
Hearing her phone go off with the custom ring tone she had set for her best friend, Xiaoyu quickly answered the call, looking up at the window.
"Miharu? I'm right outside! Are you okay?" There was a momentary pause. "… The other person with me? Yoshimitsu… Oh… Really? … Miharu, I really don't think- Okay, okay! Please, don't worry. I'll be right there." She hung up and looked back at Yoshimitsu. "Look, Yoshimitsu, she says that she wants me to come up alone. She says that she doesn't want you to be there. I think it would make her embarrassed."
"That's ridiculous," stated Yoshimitsu, bluntly, "Xiaoyu, something is going on, and I know you're young, but you're not an idiot."
"Look, I have to get up there, okay?" replied Xiaoyu, turning to make her way into the apartment building.
Yoshimitsu stood outside, trying not to get too frustrated. This sort of female drama was not something he was prepared to deal with, and there was this alarming sense that something was terribly wrong. With resolve, he pulled open one of the glass double doors and followed after Xiaoyu, who was waiting by an elevator.
"I'll wait in the hall," stated Yoshimitsu, before Xiaoyu had time to protest. Xiaoyu's brows furrowed with contempt as they both stepped into the elevator.
"You're worrying too much," said Xiaoyu, the same way a child would say something that they viewed as painfully obvious, "She probably just has some girl problems or guy trouble."
"I know you don't think that," said Yoshimitsu, looking over at his new friend, whom was growing increasingly irritating in his eyes, "You wouldn't have asked me to take you all the way back to the city if it was something as petty as girl problems. You're just as suspicious about it as I am."
Xiaoyu knew he was right, but that only strengthened her resolve to disagree.
"You don't know anything about it. Just let me handle this, okay?" Xiaoyu quickly stepped out of the elevator once it opened it's door to the 8th floor. Yoshimitsu followed slowly, internally scolding himself for putting up with such nonsense.
Once at the right door, Xiaoyu knocked loudly, biting her lower lip in anticipation. Yoshimitsu saw the door open and then saw Xiaoyu disappear into the apartment. He took a few steps closer to the door, tuning his ears in to try to hear what was going on.
"Miharu, what's wrong?" asked Xiaoyu, as she followed her friend through the living room and down the hallway. "Miharu?"
Just as they entered the small bedroom, Xiaoyu was taken by surprise when de Garonne leaped out from behind the door, covering Xiaoyu's mouth with his hand and holding the gun up to her cheek. He glance back at Miharu with a look of warning.
"Scream and she dies."
"X-Xiaoyu, I'm so sorry!" pleaded Miharu, overwhelmed and stressed, "Please, don't hurt her! What do you want? Just let us go!"
"Quiet!" snapped de Garonne, pushing the handgun more into Xiaoyu's cheek. Xiaoyu glared at her captor from her place up against the wall, being careful not to make a sudden move.
Trying to block out his conscience, de Garonne pulled Xiaoyu away from the wall and spun her around, taking her hands behind her back with one hand while the other kept the gun trained on the back of her head.
"Now, Ms. Hirano, lead the way. We're going into the living room. And remember, not a single sound."
They made their way down the hall and quietly got down on their knees with de Garonne standing behind them. Then, breaking the silence, de Garonne called out, the anger apparent in his voice.
'Damn it,' thought Yoshimitsu, reaching to open the door. He cursed under his breath at seeing that it was locked.
"Jean-Luc De Garonne, is that you, you vile wretch?" replied Yoshimitsu, preparing himself to bust the door down. De Garonne cringed at the sound of the name his father gave him.
"I have these two brats in here, and don't think I'm not ready to kill them! You have something that belongs to me and I want it back! Now!"
"You're the fool who left it behind!" shouted Yoshimitsu, trying to see how far he could push this assassin.
"Damn it, you putasemea, don't fucking try me! I'll shoot this zulo in the head!" threatened de Garonne as he pressed the gun up to Xiaoyu's head.
Xiaoyu, after waiting for de Garonne to step in close enough, suddenly sprung into action and did a sweeping kick, knocking de Garonne off his feet. Xiaoyu and Miharu both jumped to their feet as de Garonne quickly recovered from the surprise blow.
Adrenaline rushing, de Garonne aimed at Xiaoyu and put his hand on the trigger, not willing to risk going any further with this. Time seemed to slow down and Xiaoyu let out a scream, shouting the first thing that came to her mind.
In an instant, the door shattered to pieces and Yoshimitsu charged through, blade ready. He slashed at de Garonne, who tried to dodge out of the way. He managed to cut de Garonne on his arm, who screamed out in pain. Yoshimitsu then kicked the gun out of his hand and followed through with another kick to the head, which knocked de Garonne over. However, much to Yoshimitsu's surprise, de Garonne seemed to roll with the kick and he flipped back up on his feet.
Yoshimitsu then rushed in for another attack, kicking at de Garonne a second time. De Garonne did a back flip, landing on a coffee table in the corner. Yoshimitsu slashed at him with his sword, but de Garonne dodged and leaped out at Yoshimitsu, tackling him to the floor. Yoshimitsu's sword went flying, landing across the room from where the two girls crouched hiding in the corner. The room was much too small for Xiaoyu to help Yoshimitsu by joining the fight, and it seemed safer to hide than to risk being sliced in half by the Manji leader's sword.
The two men were ground fighting now, going back and forth through a series of grapples. Yoshimitsu was skilled, of course, but de Garonne was surprisingly nimble and acrobatic. He seemed to be able to slip out of any grab Yoshimitsu put him in, and it didn't take long for him to get up on his feet. As Yoshimitsu rose, de Garonne kicked him in the head and took off out the door.
"Fuck!" cursed Yoshimitsu, trying to shake off the pounding pain in his head as he rose and pursued the fleeing assassin. "Wait here!" he shouted back at Xiaoyu, who had picked up Yoshimitsu's sword from the corner. She tossed it at him and, after catching it in his cybernetic left hand, he took off.
De Garonne ran down the apartment hallway as fast as he legs could carry him. A feeling of utter despair was traversing his entire body, having yet again failed. Knowing the elevator was out of the question, de Garonne rushed into the stairwell, practically jumping down each short flight of stairs. Once they reached the last one, Yoshimitsu leaped forward and crashed into de Garonne, causing both of them to tumble down and violently collide with the metal door at the foot of the stairs.
Wasting no time, Yoshimitsu pushed de Garonne onto his stomach and, taking one of the assassin's thrashing arms, quickly pulled it back and broke it at the elbow. De Garonne let out a blood-curdling scream, too distracted by the pain to fight back. The two stumbled out of the stairwell and into the lobby, startling a few apartment residents who were making their way through the lobby. Yoshimitsu dragged the wounded assassin outside and then took off into the air.
De Garonne wanted to vomit from the sudden thrust into the sky, and the only comfort he found was when his feet found the sturdy cement of a building rooftop. However, his comfort was short lived as Yoshimitsu struck him across the head with the hilt of his sword. De Garonne crumpled to the floor, now too weak to fight back.
'This is it,' the young assassin thought, 'This is when I'm going to die. This demon is going to kill me.'
However, the violent end never came, and de Garonne was left to look up at his opponent, who was standing over him with his sword bared.
"Who hired you?" asked the deep, metallic voice.
De Garonne summoned his last bit of energy and, scrambling to his feet, punched Yoshimitsu across the face of his mask and turned to run away. However, Yoshimitsu quickly grabbed his shoulders and threw him to the side, causing him to land on his injured arm. Another cry of pain and de Garonne was back on the floor. Only this time, when he looked up at the demonic cyborg, he saw blood across his skeletal mask. Not Yoshimitsu's blood, of course, but blood from his torn knuckles. Yoshimitsu stepped down on de Garonne's arm, the wings of his beetle suit fluttering open with frustration.
"Tell me who hired you!" Yoshimitsu's voice was like darkness itself, reaching a new level of bitterness.
"Pikutara joan, kabroi!" spat back de Garonne, groaning in pain from the weight of Yoshimitsu's foot on his elbow.
"You're working for them, aren't you? You're working for the same bastards who're after Kunimitsu!" he leaned down and punched de Garonne in the stomach. De Garonne coughed and gasped in reply, trying not to show the fact that the name Kunimitsu was one he was very well aware of.
"Z-Zure ama emagaldua da! I don't know what you're talking about, damn it!" he spat at Yoshimitsu's feet and tried once again to stand up. Just as Yoshimitsu was about to kick him in the head, the two were blinded by a searchlight. A police helicopter then came into view, having been called to respond to a severe disturbance.
Yoshimitsu cursed under his breath and, ignoring the voice over the loudspeaker, reached down and yanked de Garonne to his feet. Taking the assassin by the waist of his jeans and the shoulder of his shirt, Yoshimitsu leaped from the rooftop and took off into the sky.
Normally, Yoshimitsu would have no problem out-flying a police helicopter, but with the added weight, this proved to be a challenge.
"No, I'm fine," assured Yoshimitsu, holding the satellite phone up with one hand while leaning against the stainless steel lab table with the other, "And we have that assassin detained here, so he won't be a problem for you."
"Good, I was worried!" exclaimed Xiaoyu, "Next time don't go taking off like that without letting me in on it! I heard police sirens and a helicopter and I thought they bagged you for sure!" She glanced over at the blinking digital clock in her small apartment living room. It felt good to be back home.
"What? The police catch me? No way!" he looked over at Yuromitsu, who continued his tireless work with Dr. Bosconovich to try to identify the manufacturer of the viral darts. "Oh, Xiao, how's your friend?"
"Miharu? She's fine. A bit shaken up, but she's already talked to the police and she's here with me. I figured she'd feel better if she stayed at my place tonight."
"Good… Xiao…" he paused for a moment, trying to collect his thoughts before he said something stupid, "Next time, try to listen to me more, okay? I don't want to say I told you so, but… You definitely owe me those dumplings now." Remembering that night at the dumpling stand, Xiaoyu laughed and nodded.
"You bet. We'll make it tomorrow. I only have classes in the morning tomorrow, so we can go during lunch." Yoshimitsu bit his lip behind his mask, already asking himself why he would say something like that.
"Alright then. See you tomorrow." He hung up and turned to see Hiyamitsu standing there, her arms crossed and a smirk on her face. She raised an eyebrow at him and, crossing her cybernetic leg in front of her other regular leg, she leaned against the table.
"Who was that, Master? You seemed… concerned." Hiyamitsu had always been able to sense things about her leader that the other clan members couldn't. Her recently obtained cybernetic leg, however, brought her even closer to Yoshimitsu, and now the beautiful kunoichi was even more comfortable and confident around her leader.
"You know who that was, Hiyamitsu. And don't give me any of that right now." Yoshimitsu let out a sigh as he placed the satellite phone down on the table. He glanced at Dr. Bosconovich and Yuromitsu, suspecting that they were not only listening in on what Hiyamitsu was saying, but that they also shared some of her sentiments.
'At least the men have the sense to not bother me about it,' he thought to himself, cursing his susceptibility to feminine wiles.
Yoshimitsu began to walk out of the lab, passing through the sliding doors until he was outside and on the path towards the main complex. Hiyamitsu was hot on his heels, walking as gracefully as she ever did.
"It's good to see you acting your age for once, Master," stated Hiyamitsu. He knew that she no longer called him Master with the same austerity as she did before, but merely placed it in her dialogue occasionally on account of protocol.
"What are you talking about? I'm an old man," replied Yoshimitsu, shrugging his shoulders and quickening his pace as if you drive home his point.
"Oh nonsense, you're young in body and in spirit. And this little Chinese fighter has you off on another grand adventure, doesn't she?"
"All of this isn't because of her. It's because of that syndicate and Kunimitsu."
"Oh sure, Master, that's the adventure part, but what makes it grand is-" She stopped in her tracks as Yoshimitsu spun around, pointing a finger at her. She thought he looked wonderfully bizarre in his beetle suit, standing there pointing like any regular person.
"Look, Hiyamitsu, you've been out of line lately, and I know you've made remarkable progress on your physical therapy, but don't think that you can just act as you please because I've spent more time with you to help you through that." Even Yoshimitsu could hear the lack of firmness in his voice.
Hiyamitsu smiled, knowing she could get away with it, and took Yoshimitsu's hand in both of hers. Yoshimitsu, secretly smiling, turned his hand over so that he was holding one of her's like a gentlemen would hold a lady's hand while helping her step out of a carriage. He smiled again, knowing that even though she couldn't see it, Hiyamitsu already knew he was smiling. She could sense it somehow; the two had been dancing around this unspoken bond for months.
"Master… Yoshimitsu," she began, taking the liberty to daringly address him by his name, "Just don't lose sight of your goal. Don't get side-tracked."
Yoshimitsu, giving in, nodded in agreement. Kunimitsu was still out there somewhere, and he was still as determined as ever to find her.