The curb was hard and unforgiving on their feet as Tajiri and his nephew waited for their cab. The airport gushed forth all manner of people, like a simsense trip on the fritz, and it made him uneasy. For this was not only an unfamiliar and dangerous place, but it was their new home.
The uneasiness was most probably because he was naked. More specifically, he was not wearing his armored bodysuit or carrying his swords. The airline would not let him tote these items and he had been in such a hurry to get into an open space that he forgot. At least he'd worn his favorite leather duster. Akira sensed his edginess and tried to comfort him.
"Uncle, where is our house? Can I see it from here?"
It worked. Tajiri loved his nephew as a son, or so he thought being that he never had children of his own. He could always soften him and make him forget his trouble. Which, for someone in his line of work, was not always a good thing.
He was nearly clipped by the yellow cab as it barreled onto the curb and screeched to a halt beside him. He had murder on his mind, but could stifle this impulse until he got a good night's sleep.
A disgruntled face that had definitely seen some trouble poked out above the hood.
"You Tajiri? Got a call for Tajiri and Kira. You them?"
"Yes, sir. Tajiri and A-Kira. Not Kira. We would..."
"OK, then get in."
The head disappeared and the back door opened.
As Tajiri chucked his heavy bag onto the back seat he heard a squeal of tires coming around the corner and he instictively picked Akira up and held him with one arm. The youngster was getting bigger, no doubt about it.
A wave of bodies parted before him as a black sedan roared towards them. The rear window was coming down and Tajiri smelled trouble. He flung himself to the ground behind the cab, Akira on top of him, as the bullets came.
The noise at this point could drive one mad as behind the incessant barking of automatic weapon-fire and the subsequent screams from the offended crowd a suborbital shuttle was taking off. But he could see the carnage that the drive-by was causing...and he could smell the blood of the innocent spilling to the asphalt.
When the sedan had passed, Tajiri carefully but a stunned Akira into the backseat and looked to see if the vehicle would be making a second pass. Foolhardy as it might seem, some people were just wired that way. He saw the vehicle's rear end skid around a corner, just under an acid-rain faded sign that beckoned 'Welcome to Neo York'.
The cab driver was killed in the fray, his grimy brown jumpsuit somehow unsullied by the gore that now covered it. Tajiri would have called the police if this were MegaTokyo and he briefly looked for a vidphone before another black car sped around the same corner.
'Deja vu', he thought to himself and then, "Get down Akira!"
He crouched and entered the cab's passenger side door, waiting for the hail of shattered glass that would cover him. He realized, only as his hands were stung, that the first pass did that job.
Again the bullets came and Akira screamed. Tajiri pulled the dead cabbie to the sticky floor of the cab and waited for the violence to pass. Forever, it seemed, as the bullets struck the side of the vehicle like a hailstorm sent by vengeful kami.
The though that they would both be very dead if these thugs had decided to do the job properly and use heavier artillery crossed his mind. He determined that this was either a random act orperhaps these were inexperienced thugs who were foolishly taking the situation lightly.
He ran through his mind a list of people who wanted him dead. A short, but distinguished list that could involve many outside forces. He figured that, if his problem with the Yakuza was goiung to follow him here, it would start with the Hamaguchi clan. They were always try- ing to suck up to the bigger clans.
When the calm had come once more, Tajiri wasted no time. He started the cab with a bloody key and told Akira to buckle up. He watched through the hole where the windshield once was as the black car, a Ford GTI, passed in the path of its predecessor. Deciding to follow, he kicked the pedal to the floor and pushed the heavy legs of the passenger to the floor in a lump. He had surmised that these thugs were, indeed, of the foolhardy variety.
"Wheee! Daddy never drove like this with me, uncle! Go faster!"
He tried to tune out the conscience knocking that Akira's voice delivered by distracting the boy.
"Uh...why don't you do uncle a favor and see if there's a gun or anything underneath my seat."
The cab was nowhere near fast enough to catch the speeding vehicles and there was really little chance anyway if they decided to even try to lose him. Lucky for him, though, he saw the black sedan come up from behind them.
"Here it is!"
Akira stuck the grip of the pistol in the mirror and it was good. Tajiri grabbed it with his off-hand and told Akira to get his belt rebuckled.
"Fortune smiles on us today, Akira."
The handgun was very large and very western. Tajiri did not own a handgun as he figured it might cause some trouble bringing it through customs. But he liked them. Especially this one...right now.
He honked the angry horn and swerved hard onto the curb, scat-tering a number of what looked like hare-krishnas. The sedan came up fast on his side, windows coming down, and with a harmonious mix of black and yellow paint Tajiri sideswiped him.
It had not been a fast car, but it was heavy enough to push the sedan almost two feet into the oncoming lane where it met a Jinsei Tractor Trailer head on.
The the truck rumbled over the front left quarter of the vehicle and pushed it forward in a rain of sparks until both truck and sedan struck the NYPD interceptor. There was little left of the sedan and not enough of the police car for Tajiri to worry about their pursuit.
Tajiri let out his breath, unaware of how long he'd been holding it, and saw Akira do the same. He was a brave kid.
"Look, uncle, there's the ActionMart! Can we go there?"
"Certainly, but not right now. Right now uncle needs to find an alley. Can you help me?"
The sightseeing was stopped short when he saw the GTI coming headlong for them in some nihilistic gesture. He did not believe for a moment that they would ram him head on, as very few Yakuza were willing to sacrifice their lives, much less an expensive car, to get the job done. He pulled the pistol and fired away at the tires of the oncoming car.
The pistol was loaded for bear, containing some terrific firepower in the cartridges, and Tajiri only fired a couple of shots before the weapon's recoil flung it to the floorboards. He struck the vehicle with both and assumed he'd hit blown a tire when the car swreved hard. It spun a full threesixty and Tajiri barely managed to avoid both the GTI and the oncoming police cruiser.
'It's high time to dump this car and get Akira somewhere safe. Wherever that might be.'
He was entering Chinatown with all of the speed the stressed engine could muster and he hoped he could find a suitable place for his suspect transport.The place was a unique blend of all things Asian. A Thai restaurant-club, a Korean dojo and a Chinese grocery were side by side on the same street. This impressed him, as most of asian countries were holding longtime silent grudges against each other.
"Uncle Koba..". The child stopped before he made a crucial mis- take. "Um. Uncle? There's an alley you passed by that SuperGodzilla Burger."
He turned the car around in the middle of the street, slowing down just enough to keep the tires on, and made for the alley. No police cruisers. No black wheels of death with telltale opening windows. Just Chinatown, which Tajiri feared the most.
The alley smelled bad. Like rotten meat and urine. He squeezed the car behind an overflowing dumpster and in front of a back door to the SuperGodzilla Burger. He gave Akira money to visit the place until he came to get him (which nearly excited the boy to death). Then he grabbed his bag and got out of the front seat which was itself beginning to smell bad.
In less than five minutes he had donned his form-fitted body- suit and replaced the duster. He had his swords. He was definitely at home.
The air was electric and they came for him. There could be no doubt that they were Hamaguchi clan, for they wore the standard green sash with the circuit-board pattern. He quickly counted three before ducking behind the dumpster. One of them was big. REALLY big.
'Probably some dumb kid halfway cyberpsycho before he knew what the conversion did to people'
"We know you are down there Kobayashi. Our boss told us to welcome you to Neo York. Now, come out and be friendly."
He grit his teeth at the sound of the name but kept himself hidden behind the dumpster until he could hear where the voice came from.
His augmented reflexes and speed booster had been implanted since he was eighteen. Almost five years. In that time he had come to get used to their effects, but it never ceased to amaze him how much everyone slowed down when he meant business.
With one motion he rose, peeked himself around the dumpster and threw his wakizashi at the big one, then ducked back before the retort. On cue, gunfire blazed down the alleyway, punishing the trusty Yellocab, which he doubted would see another fare. Someone had a pistol that rivalled the cabbie's and began punching holes through the dumpster to which he clung. He cursed himself for losing the weapon earlier before a metal blister erupted on the dumpster near his head.
Katana drawn on instict, he jumped to the lip of the dumpster to see his targets. They had not yet stopped firing. The big one was holding his wakizashi and firing the loud handgun.
'He might be a problem.'
They spotted him and redirected their aggression in his direction. More shattered glass, this time from the SuperGodzilla Burger, but Tajiri was not there.
He had bounded towards a fire escape ten feet away and swung himself closer to the trio. The duster was slit up the back to allow his legs to move and when he landed it slapped the ground with a satisfying 'smack'. He was five feet away from the big one and he hoped the concern wouldn't show on his face.
From here he saw the other two better. One was short and stocky and looked like he resented it. His left hand was chrome and his right was holding an Uzi. The other was smooth looking, with slicked back hair and an expensive avante-garde outfit that made him look like someone out of an old science fiction flick. The only telltale sign that he was Yakuza was the sash. The big handgun was indeed similar to the cabbie's.
<"My name is Odo Tajiri. At you service.">, he spoke with what he hoped was calm determination.
"What did he say?," from the cyborg.
"He said, shoot me in the leg, please! Ha ha!," chuckled Mr. Smooth, whose voice Tajiri had not yet heard.
The smooth one made like he was going to shoot but Tajiri tumbled forward, almost on top of him, and the bullet struck brick somewhere behind him.
The big one stepped back and waited for a chance to return his wakizashi, while the other reloaded his Uzi. Tajiri saw this as opportunity and took a gamble.
Swiveling his katana around the smooth man's weapon arm caused him to drop the handgun. Before he heard it hit the ground Tajiri turned to the stocky one and slapped the Uzi from his hand with the end of his sword. Lucky.
Then the big one chopped at him from behind, cleaving his armor and opening him up almost to the bone of his left arm. Pain did not hit him until he turned to face his evil grin, when the burn shot through his fingers and up to his ear. He was afraid the 'borg might have severed his bicep. Later, he would consider it lucky that it was only a wakizashi that he had been cut with.
'Are these cyborgs everywhere in Neo York?'
Tajiri was staggered and now took the defensive, figuring to use their momentum and clumsiness as an advantage. He watched them come at him again and studied their entry stances. In all the times he found himself in this position, he learned to determine who was the threat and who was not. He could sense by their body movement who was open to his attack and who was playing it safe. If it helped him, he didn't know, but it was comforting when outnumbered.
He sidestepped the big one easily and blocked smoothie's angry swing (wondering where he got that baseball bat from) and was almost tackled by the short one. They certainly had a lot to learn about teamwork, but then so did he.
He cut swiftly at the short character, who was off balance from his attempted sack, and opened his jacket revealing an amateurish tattoo and new wound. He clutched his jacket closed as if embarassed and stepped back in shock.
Tajiri's game of 'weave and cut' went the same for the man in the Space-Trek suit, blocking his homerun attempt and slicing him across his middle. Unfortunately, he was not wearing a jacket and his stomach spilled it's contents onto the muddy ground.
He had kept his distance from the big one pretty well, always placing his other opponents between them and avoiding his metal meat- hooks. He managed to finish off the badly tattooed man with a quick slash acriss his exposed chest. Now was the time. Tajiri felt like it was his friend, Tanaka all over again.
<"Please forgive me for saying so, but you should not take so much stock in that new body of yours. As hard and strong as it is, it has made your spirit weak. This will be your defeat.">
"What the hell are you jabbering about? Stand still for a minute, dammit, and I'll take your head off!"
The metal beast was getting angrier as Tajiri sidestepped and ducked under his blows, constantly apologizing for what will soon befall the 'man'. His plan was working and if he was lucky this fight would be over soon.
The fight had gone to the edge of the alley entrance, and the borg was red with rage. Ungraceful swings with the wakizashi and left hooks were dodged and blocked repeatedly until Tajiri felt the position was as good as it would get.
"I'll fucking kill you! You'll get tired and then I'll kill your squishy little ass!," bellowed the monster (as he could only be described as such in his present state).
But Tajiri saw the slash coming and leaped over it and the borg, landing on his feet in a low crouch behind him. The borg lashed out behind him and missed completely.
He though back to his battle with Tanaka and how it ended as he came up holding not his katana, but the smooth one's handgun. Ready now for the recoil, he fired point blank into the monster's stomach, stunning him and leaving a fist-sized dent in his plating. The noise and sparks were like a piledriver hammering a Yellocab.
"<I ask you to forgive me before you die.>"
"Good enough for me."
He fired the weapon into the cyborgs metal visage, creating a distortion that could only be pitied. The left eye was a mesh of sparking wires and the cheek bore trhe same dent that his stomach did. Perhaps killing him, but Tajiri never found out.
He quickly grabbed up his daisho and the sashes of the fallen to show off his victory and headed into the SuperGodzila Burger.
"Hey uncle, they have toy MechaGodzillas with every purchase! Look!"
Tajiri's arm was throbbing and numb, but he cracked at smile at the boy who had been through so much trauma that day only to forget the whole affair over a plastic action figure.
"Very nice, Akira, but now it is time to go home."
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