[FFML] [Ranma/OMG] Nabiki and Ranma - Together 4ever: Act II: Chapters 1-2: The neutral, the bad, and the badasses

David Andersson vizierz2002 at yahoo.com
Wed Mar 19 10:31:52 PDT 2008


My apologies. I seem to have misremembered that the
mailer stripped all but .txt messages. It's been quite
some time. I'm submitting the plain text below. 

Unfortunately both this and any .txt formatted files
remove any underlines, which are occasionally relevant
to the context. If .rtf, .odt, or .doc attachments are
similarly stored in proper format at
www.chez-vrolet.net, and the readers don't mind, I
could always submit the chapters like that in the
future, with a note to use the link at the bottom.


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Nabiki & Ranma – Together 4ever - Part II

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Nabiki has a plan. Urd has an itchy trigger-finger.
Ranma has a life turned upside-down. Ryuu has a duty.
Taro has a purpose. Ryoga has problems, and an
unwanted nanny. The antagonists have delightful
characters. Kuno talks funny. A yarn for those who
want to read something experimental, darkly ironic, a
bit challenging, and very different.

-------------

Ranma ½ © Rumiko Takahashi, Oh! My Goddess! © Kosuke
Fujishima, as well as any local licensee affiliates.
However everything of my own creation connected to
this story, including scenarios, titles, dialogue,
text, and any original characters are © to myself, and
may not be used without permission. Any similarity to
existing people or organisations is entirely
coincidental, beyond archetypal significance. No
animals were harmed through the writing of this story.

-------------

Warning: 
The story will contain a great deal of potentially
offensive, politically incorrect, unfamiliar, or
emotionally challenging material, virtually regardless
of personal disposition, including disturbing
characters and philosophies, swearing, irony, and
graphic violence. Please consider if this is something
that you are capable of handling before continuing,
and do not enter without a sense of humour. It’s also
using a loose timeframe between scenes, much like the
manga itself. Jumps may imply anything from a few
hours to several days. The portrayals are almost
exclusively firmly rooted in the manga, rather than
the anime, in which several characters turned far less
vicious or powerful. 

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The story thus far


Nabiki has a plan to use her available resources.
Corporate life-sentences, Japanese glass-ceilings, and
accountability are very, very bad words. Urd is a
bored, higher-dimensional, time-spinning, semi-amoral
meddler with an itchy trigger-finger, and very
suspicious views of what constitutes an interesting
‘solution’ or ‘perfect girlfriend’. Ranma momentarily
wishes to get out of a circular routine. Uh-oh


Nabiki turns herself into an über-metamorph. Absolute
power is kind of neat, and corruption is underrated.
Urd gives Nabiki a conscience. She's NOT happy. Urd
makes Nabiki obsessed with Ranma. She's really giddy.
Peorth isn't pleased. Nabiki puts Ranma in intense
hypnotic sex therapy to refocus his affections. Ranma
is content, needy, ashamed, angry, suspicious, and
enthralled. They become a dysfunctional couple! Goofy
situations, and wordy character interactions follow.
Nabiki thinks it's perfectly normal to torture
antagonists. Ranma disagrees, but forgives her ‘cause
she's funny and cute. They still have nearly nothing
in common, but that hasn’t stopped most people.

And now for something completely different


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The neutral, the bad, and the badasses


6 months ago:

Hibiki Ryoga wandered again, then he wandered some
more, and continued to wander until he was sick and
tired of it, sat down by a nearby stream, and made a
campfire to cook some food. He checked within his
backpack. Just his luck, only canned beans left again.
There was a book crammed beside it. He took it out. It
had brief descriptions of history, traditions and
sights within different countries, and useful phrases
to ask questions with. It was a present from Akari. He
was lonely. He wanted to find her
 or Akane. Then
everything would be all right. He shook his head. No
not Akane, never again
 Well, maybe
 in case she
invited him, or came to visit, or
 No, no, show some
spine. He had made a decision. He had to stick to it
for more than a few days at a time. Although it had
been a few weeks now, that was an improvement. He
collected water in his kettle to make some tea. There
weren’t any wild boars or bears around, and Akari
would have disapproved. Perhaps he could find some
mushrooms or berries to make the meal palatable?

He sensed something! The hunter immediately stood up,
and looked around for several moments. He checked
behind some bushes, then under his backpack. He rubbed
his head. How strange, he prided himself on having an
incredibly sharp dairyokkan, or aura sense. Well no
matter, the beans were ready. He took a spoonful, and
instantly spit them out. Eeew! They were out of date.

“Hmph! How undignified.”
Ryoga looked around again. Where did the voice come
from? 
“I’m right above, you blithering idiot!”
Ryoga looked up. His Imperial Majesty Throne Prince
Hao Lóng Bu of the Musk Dynasty was standing with
crossed arms on a thin branch of a tree, seemingly far
too frail to support his weight.
“You! What do you want?” Ryoga was confused, but it
was quickly supplanted by rage. This bastard had tried
to hurt Akane. “Do you want a fight?”
“How quaint. The swine would think to challenge a
dragon.” Hao Bu snapped his fingers. “Li Me!”
Ryoga instinctively leapt to the side, barely managing
to avoid a two handed sneak-attack from behind,
crushing the earth within a 3-metre radius.
Ryoga was shocked. “You destroyed Akari’s present!
Shishi Hôkodan!” He blasted Lime with a 6-metres wide
powerful torrent of force, blowing the latter through
a few dozen perfectly good trees. 
Hao Bu smiled, eyes dilated in intense captivated glee
“Magnificent!”
Ryoga didn’t let up, nearly immediately reaching Lime
as he fell, and relentlessly started to pound away
before the latter had a chance to recover, rendering
him severely bruised and insensate. “You bastard! You
bastard! You bastard!” Ryoga panted heavily, but
managed to stop himself before causing serious damage.
He wiped a tear from his eye. He had betrayed Akari!
She would never forgive him! “Heeeerb!” He ran at full
speed towards his nemesis.
Hao Bu descended to the ground 20 metres in front of
Ryoga. Sneering disdainfully. “Can’t you do anything
right? You were running the wrong way.” His teeth
flashed in ferocious anticipation.
Ryoga ignored him and unleashed a torrent of
chi-enforced razor-bandannas, each capable of easily
cutting through a few feet of solid steel.
“You are about to learn not to bother your betters
with children’s tricks.” Hao Bu made a sweep with his
right arm. “Hito Ryuu-zan Ha!” Several shimmering
blades of pure chi, each capable of slicing past
several metres of solid steel, blasted straight
through the barrage. 
Ryoga managed to evade most of them as he advanced,
but was struck dead centre by the others. That hurt!
He looked down. It had drawn blood, but mostly
surface-level. “Bakusai Tenketsu!” He struck the
ground with both index fingers, unleashing a
bombardment of small rocks towards the infuriatingly
conceited dragon-prince, and screening him long enough
to approach further. 
Hao Bu caught and threw hundreds of pebbles to the
side at a pace far too swift to follow. His smirk
widened. “Better.” A foot abruptly came into sight
through the makeshift smokescreen, a few inches from
his eyes, granting him enough time to receive a solid
hit to the jaw and topple to the ground. Hao Bu
instantly rolled to the side of a second blow, and
somersaulted a few metres backward to regain
initiative.
Both fighters simultaneously unleashed more
conventional chi-blasts. Ryoga’s stronger discharge
was nevertheless drilled through by Hao Bu’s far more
focused strike. While the latter was once more struck
down, the former took comparable damage, as the
torrent of pressure relentlessly battered at his
abdomen. 
Hao Bu wiped some blood from his face, tasting it,
still smiling as if invigorated. “Very good insect,
very good.”  He stood up. “There was a time when you
would be beheaded for lese-majesty, but I have some
use for you.”
“Shut up! Shut up! Shut up! You hurt Akane! You hurt
Akari!” Ryoga descended upon him, attacking at full
pace and power, hundreds of punches at a supersonic
speed just short of Ranma’s own, and more than twice
the force, somehow defying the constraints of mass and
acceleration
 thousands. Herb nonchalantly blocked
them all. Ryoga didn’t care.
Hao Bu grunted. The exertion was taking a toll. His
hands and arms were severely beginning to hurt. His
anger flared. (Never invoke the wrath of a dragon!)
Most sense of strategy and subtlety removed, he
heedlessly struck Ryoga at full speed, landing two
blows for every one from his opponent. Unfortunately
he couldn’t match the latter’s brawn and endurance.
They were locked in a contest of primal fury, mauling
each other bloody until one of them would drop broken
to the ground crumbling beneath their feet. Hao Bu
sneered. “Enough of this! Hiryu Shoten Ha!”
Ryoga was carried off at the centre of a whirlwind.
(Akari
 I have failed you!) He managed to fire off one
last desperate discharge, before losing consciousness.

Ryoga was violently slapped numerous times in the
face. 
“Wake up!”
He looked around. Mint was standing in front of him,
with Herb regally observing a few metres behind. There
was a sizeable bump on the latter’s head. Perhaps that
last strike hadn’t been so futile after all? Somebody
was forcibly pushing him down into a kneeling
position, and holding his arms behind his back. The
grip was too strong even for him to break. It had to
be Lime. That made things easier. “Oh! Some women are
skinny-dipping in the river!”
“Really?” The grip slackened off. Ryoga quickly stood
up and stomped Lime full force on the foot, making him
scream and jump around on one leg.
 Ryoga grinned. “Sucker!” He was doused with cold
water.
Min Te held the struggling piglet in his fist, and
cleared his throat for a standardised recital. “Crown
Prince Hao Lóng Bu of the Royal Dragon-Lineage has
deigned to bestow a great honour upon you, an inferior
non-Musk. He expects gratitude and obedience, not
futile and insolent rebellion.”
Hao Bu raised a disapproving eyebrow at the sight of
the diminutive black pig. “Pitiful
 This won’t do,
this won’t do at all. Min Te! Li Me! We are leaving
immediately! Pack down those paltry souvenirs our
guest seems to cherish so much, and inform him that he
is either going to be very co-operative, or I will
personally butcher and serve him as dinner to the
royal stables. If that fails to catch his attention,
simply note that his wretched sense of direction
allows us to hold his loved ones at ransom any time we
so wish.”
Min Te suspiciously stared into Ryoga’s eyes. “You
heard our liege. Are you going to be a bother?”
The piglet sighed and dejectedly shook its head.

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Tokyo: ESP (Extranormal Squad Police) 
Kumon Ryuu read the sign on the door to the
traditional-looking sizeable shrine. What a bother,
having to hang around with a bunch of freaks just to
use his own legacy. 

It had seemed like a clever idea at the time. The
Saotomes had a problem with the Yamasen-ken school
originally being designed for burglary. So he’d simply
enrol at the Police Academy, get some purpose with his
life, be admired by all the normal people, and get the
freaky transsexual’s permission to use ‘the evil
school’ for the opposite thing it was designed for. To
redeem the dishonour the latter deemed that Genma had
brought to his name. Brilliant! The last part worked
without a glitch, but apparently Ryuu “wasn’t precinct
detective material”, and was transferred here instead.
He had heard weird rumours about it, but hopefully the
officers were just ribbing him.

Ryuu reached out to ring the bell for admittance, but
was surprised to be intercepted when the gate swung
open ahead of him. 
A thin thirties-looking woman stood by the doorway.
She had the darkened complexion associated with Osaka,
and was clad like a Shinto shrine maiden. Not
particularly attractive, which would usually make her
of very limited interest, but with a calm and
motherly, and traditionally dignified, expression that
triggered some reminiscence of Saotome Nodoka. She
politely bowed. “Welcome. I am Mitsumoto Kiyoko, the
warden of this manor. We have been expecting you
Mister Kumon. Please come in.”
Ryuu followed Kiyoko up a lengthy set of stairs, long
short steps leading them over a 100 metres into the
estate, passing a few levels of plateaus, containing
attractively pruned small trees, ponds with blowfish,
as well as certain other species he didn’t recognise,
and gravel courtyards. He was hardly an authority but
recognised the tranquil patterns as the work of an
experienced Zen-master. What was this place? It
certainly had nothing to do with general police work.

They reached the summit. It was more Spartan, with
four rather plain-looking buildings evenly encircling
a medium-sized Shinto temple, or was it Buddhist, or
Christian, or even Hindu? When they moved closer, it
seemed to be modified, incorporating ornaments and
sculptures from each, as well as several Ryuu didn’t
recognise. As they went past the entrance he noticed
two rows of men and women, respectively seated in
seiza alongside the walls leading away from the
entrance, and like Masumi, all clad in traditional
Shinto ceremonial garbs. They were collectively
meditating, eyes closed, with the tips of their thumbs
pressed together like vertical pyramids, and the
remaining fingers in horizontal analogues.
A bald man was seated in the centre of the room,
mirroring the others, but dressed in wide black
trousers and an azure gi-like upper robe loosely
patterned after a Shogunate samurai. With traditional
short and long daish? tanto and katana blades fastened
to his left side by a white cotton belt, both safely
contained in unadorned silvery saya scabbards. No
ceremonial, but slow, medium-length wakizashi
 that
might imply a practical or ruthless man. He looked
rather young, but his smooth features made it
difficult to ascertain a precise age. What truly made
him stand out were the strange tattoos and etchings
encircling every visible section of his body. Even
more remarkably, a large portion of the symbols were
of extremely lifelike iron, silver and golden
coloration, as if the actual metals had bonded with or
replaced his skin, in a vaguely circuitry-reminiscent
pattern. His presence had a serene, almost holy,
intensity of a nature that Ryuu couldn’t recall
encountering before.
Ryuu found briefly himself captivated in a sense of
wonder, his firmly enforced, demandingly harsh outlook
swept away and forgotten. He shook it off. Leaving
openings was dangerous, and not something he could
afford.

The priest opened his eyes and instantly curled into
an upright stance with a relaxed smile on his face. He
bowed towards Ryuu. “Muramasa Taikio. I am pleased to
make your acquaintance Mister Kumon.”
Ryuu frowned. “Any relation to
”
“Just so. The unholy sword-smith is unfortunately part
of my heritage.” Despite the words, he didn’t seem
troubled by the admission. He used his right hand to
indicate to the left side of his belt. “These blades
are part of my legacy, but have been purged and
inverted from the path of corruption.”
Ryuu decided to cut to the chase. “Look, I’m supposed
to become a police officer. This isn’t exactly my type
of environment.”
Taikio’s ever-present sincere, alert and optimistic
expression didn’t change in the slightest. “Do you
have the patience and interest to listen to a
clarification?”
Ryuu shrugged. “It’s not like I’m booked up.”
Taikio gestured towards the floor. “Then please be
seated Mister Kumon. I will bring us some hot tea.” He
went to the back of the room, bringing two steaming
cups as he came back.
Ryuu decided to go along with the suggestion, even if
tea likewise ‘wasn’t exactly his type of beverage’ to
say the least.

Taikio inhaled some energising vapours from the
refreshment. “It is a long story but can be rather
swiftly summarised. Plainly, my father, Muramasa Hiro,
was a particularly affluent individual. He considered
himself modern, a man of the world, grasping destiny
to unburden him from the past, and the stranglehold of
time-honoured hierarchical absolute submission. Sadly
it was not to be. Our ancestor had saddled him with
additional unforeseen liabilities. Certain
exceptionally dark elements, far outside his frame of
reference, sought reimbursement or vengeance; I am
unaware which, as they didn’t tell. What is relevant
is that they considered guilt transferable by blood.”
He paused to sip some tea to clear his throat. “Our
family was set upon without warning, bound by vile
forces and, excepting my father and myself, were
devoured alive before our eyes. I was let be because
their thirst was not yet sated. Somebody had to be
left to breed further generations. My father since it
appealed to their wit to see an elevated man fall so
far.” He made another interruption.
(So this poor little rich boy tries to trade sob
stories when he still had a well-off father to take
care of him? Big deal! I saw both my parents die, and
mostly wandered the streets to survive on my own since
I was four years old. Whatever.)

Taikio continued. “My father was a righteous
individual. He could not fathom the horror before his
eyes. This was not just. This was not right. This was
not fair. Lesser men would have said that this should
be accepted. This was the way of the world. This was
the nature of life. This was inescapable. This should
be ignored, or even adapted and embraced into a
personal credo. He did not. He decided to see that it
would not be repeated, and to seek preparations to
fight the lot forced upon us. This was not an act of
arrogance, but of ambition. He well understood his
limitations, but decided to at the very least help to
hold the darkness at bay within Japanese soil.”
Ryuu was pretty sure he saw where this was going, but
decided to put up with it. 

Taikio put down the now emptied cup and resumed where
he left off. “I was only a little over 2 years old at
the time, perhaps fortunately as I did not remember
much of the incident, and had not yet bred an
extremely strong imprinting at the image of my mother.
My father sold off his very considerable assets and
invested them through several reliable brokers, to set
up a foundation. He then brought me along on a very
lengthy, and extremely unconventional, global training
trip.”
Ryuu barely stifled a yawn. (This is starting to sound
familiar.)
“It was not strictly the martial arts of which you are
accustomed, but rather focused on spiritual exercises,
systems and ceremonies. Nevertheless, I was only one
man. My father kept himself busy on the side,
brokering deals to permanently finance a new
specialised, independent section of the police
department, while searching for ways to enlist
appropriate human resources and equipment, develop an
efficient structure and instruction for specialised
competence, and here we are.”

Ryuu choose to ask the obvious follow-up. “So what
happened to the old man?”
“Nothing fanciful. Natural causes made him pass away
from old age shortly after we returned some years
back. I helped set the final wheels in motion without
him.” Taikio’s bearing had remained unperturbed during
the entire monologue.
Ryuu enquired about the second. “So you are the boss
around here?”
“No. We have a command structure related to individual
expertise and self-contained units, which is adaptable
to specialised situations. In a certain areas that
position is primarily held by myself, while I am the
student or subordinate in others.” Taikio looked
gravely at Ryuu. “This is a very young organisation.
Our foundation is well bolstered, but we are thus far
severely lacking in terms of enforcement. Regrettably,
sections amongst regular authorities and bureaucracy
have also come to regret our existence, and consider
our proactive methods as culturally deviant. Limited
efficiency grants them leverage to outlaw our
vigilance. If you are everything I have been told,
your expertise will be of utmost importance. You will
bear a great responsibility. I cannot stress this
severely enough.”
Ryuu nodded. He got it. He took all his pledges very
seriously.

Taikio seemed reassured. “You will of course have to
undergo a formal tryout Mister Kumon.” He stood up,
drawing forth his still sheathed katana, holding it
single-handedly and poised forward. “Come at me when
you are ready.”
(Oh, come on! Look at this guy! He basically comes
across like as the lovechild of a bodhisattva and a
pacifist. He said himself that he just sat and chanted
prayers for over 20 years. How the heck am I supposed
to avoid killing him?)
Taikio tellingly glanced towards the audience. “We
cannot use distanced attacks you understand?”
Ryuu shrugged. “It’s not like I’m allowed to use them
yet anyway.”
Taikio’s eyebrows were raised the slightest
millimetre. “You are a man of great honour then? I
shall indeed be pleased to make your acquaintance.” He
closed his eyes with an air of serene awareness.
Ryuu gaped. He wasn’t sure if he was dumbfounded or
insulted. “Are you sure about this?”
“Do not be concerned Mister Kumon. This is of personal
advancement, not of disadvantage or dishonour.”
“Have it your way.” Ryuu cautiously attacked, probing
his opponent’s level to determine how far he could
push this. 
He needn’t have worried, Taikio effortlessly tipped
his blade to the sides, only using his wrist, forearm
and minimal force but somehow succeeding in deflecting
Ryuu’s ever increasingly fierce assault. 
Ryuu finally decided to go all out, barraging Taikio
with a flurry of titanium-splitting punches, kicks,
grapples and sweeps, successfully pressing him enough
to use his full area of movement, but Taikio
nevertheless consistently ended up at his initial
spot. Ryuu assumed a much closer position and launched
himself forwards at a pace too swift to avoid even for
somebody twice his speed, risking taking a damaging
hit in favour of landing a decisive blow. The latter
simply stood unmoving in quiet acceptance. Ryuu struck
him dead centre of the face at full force. Taikio
didn’t budge an inch. By all logic his nose should
have been fractured. Even stranger, Ryuu couldn’t even
feel the impact in his fist.
Taikio opened his eyes. He smiled a bit further than
usual. “Mister Kumon, you are raw, brash and have an
abundance of presently restrained power, certainly
capable of inflicting a greater scale of destruction
than any officer on the force. I have the utmost faith
that you will serve as a magnificent complement.”
Ryuu frowned. “Complement?”
Taikio looked as attentive and congenial as ever.
“Kiyoko did not tell? Once you have successfully
graduated, as I am certain that you outstandingly
will, I am to be your senior partner.”

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Pansuto/Pantyhose Taro was climbing a desolate,
secluded and nearly vertical plateau. This had better
be worth the effort and sheer monotony. According to
his Tibetan contact, or rather a corrupt
Chinese-stationed officer with extremely good
underworld connections, he was not allowed to simply
fly to the top of the mountain. The passage had to be
ritualistic, by strictly choosing the demanding and
dangerous passages, without any equipment or
protective clothing, just him, the ice, the snow, the
hail, the wind, the avalanches, the rockslides, and
the yetis. Being forced to make an effort to walk
into, trigger or provoke all of them. Never mind. This
was a piece of cake for someone of his talents. Those
“divine power-sources” turned out to be useless
magnetic shoulder pads garbage, and he wanted power,
lots of it. He was going to conquer the world someday,
whether literally or figuratively, and then kick his
boot so far up the ass of that freak geezer Happosai
that he’d be given a name worthy of respect. This
half-empty glass was going to get itself
shine-polished, and filled to the brim with something
much better than water, if it knew what was good for
it.

He reached the top. It was empty save a bare-chested,
muscular, slightly unshaved and rough-looking
middle-aged man of unspecific nationality, clad in
combat boots and green-speckled camouflage-style army
khakis. He was resting with his back toward a
golden-brown cloth sack, arms behind his head, and
leisurely smoking a Havana cigar, stuck between a
visible, shiny white row of teeth. Beside him there
was a very odd-looking backpack, composed of an
assortment of layered leather straps with built-in
sheaths, and crammed with an assortment of swords, a
few blades, a warhammer, a battleaxe, a spear, and a
mixture of artillery.

Taro didn’t know what to think. “Are you The Veteran?”
“Guilty as charged kid.” The man had not seemed to
register the question, but nonetheless answered it.
“I was supposed to meet you here?” Taro cautiously
probed.
“Seeing is believing” Still no visible reaction.
(Am I just going to stand around waiting while making
inanely clichéd conversation?) Taro was starting to
get annoyed. Was this guy supposed to be the mythical
champion mystics and assassins alike barely dared to
whisper about? He took a deep breath to give this
joker a piece of his mind.
“Face front trooper! Incoming!” Something landed with
a thud, shaking the stone foundation.

A monumental figure stood before them. Over 2 metres
tall, and nearly as wide, with cylindrical arms like
massive tree trunks, entirely clad in, or consisting
of, a jagged, featureless indigo armour with luminous
gilded seams along the pivots, no nose, and vapours of
sparkling light in the place of mouth, eyes and
fingertips. Taro was in awe
 or at least until he
noticed the pink mini-skirt, the rugby helmet, the
roller skates, the oversized “A” belt buckle, and the
golden bling-bling neck-chain supporting a medallion
with the inscription “Bow before da kang”.
The Veteran calmly pulled out a picnic blanket from
the sack and placed it on the ground. Taro sat down
beside him but simply gazed at the display. His
peripheral vision vaguely registered how a single
feather drifted out over the ledge.
The being spoke with a booming voice like the chill
from a grave blended with cracks of thunder. “I! AM!
ABYSSMIC! I WAS FORGED FROM THE ESSENCE OF WHITE DWARF
STARS! MY HEART BEATS WITH THE RHYTHMS OF CAGED
SUPERNOVAS! I CHANNEL THE ENERGIES OF A DIMENSIONAL
NEXUS! THE PRIMAL FORCES WITHIN MY SHELL ARE
UNYIELDING!”
The Veteran merrily unpacked the contents. “Just
checking, but you do realise that none of that made
any sense right? Guys like us need a little
self-distance once in a while.”
“I AM LIKE UNTO A GOD, AND MY WAYS ARE BEYOND MORTAL
COMPREHENSION!”
The Veteran enthusiastically chomped down bites from a
ham & egg sandwich. “Of course you’d all like to think
that.”
“I AM FIRST OF THE SEVEN! PRYMURDAL! PRYMEVYL!
PRYMAUL! STARBLYTE! STARBAIN! ZENTROPY! COALESCING
SCREAMING INTO BEING AT THE DAWN OF CREATION!”
“No patterned first syllables? Sounds a bit
budget-bargain to me.” Chatting between bites.
Abyssmic seemed rather self-conscious, as far as its
features allowed. “FATHER YAMBAD AND MOTHER WELLSTAYNE
DIDN’T HAVE MUCH IMAGINATION!” It said apologetically.
The Veteran nodded in acknowledgement. “Ah, my Aunt
Ethel was like that too. Her poor brats never lived it
down.”
Abyssmic paused. “CLUSTROT WAS DISAVOWED! EVEN OUR
PARENTS REGRETTED THE NAME! AND ZENSOURCE WOULDN’T
STOP INSISTING THAT KEEPING QUIET WAS THE ONE TRUE
PATH TO NIRVANA!”
It wistfully shook its head and recommenced. “I AM
IMPERVIOUS TO THE FORCES OF TIME AND SPACE! FOR AGES
IMMEMORIAL I HAVE WANDERED THE LONELY WASTES OF
INFINITY BETWEEN THE TINY SPECKS OF MATTER!”
The Veteran began eating an apple. “And how is that
working out for you?” 
“I AM A PRIMORDIAL BEING EVER SEEKING FULFILMENT IN MY
PURPOSE!“
“So basically you’re just bored and need a hobby.”
“I AM LIKE UNTO A TEMPEST! TESTING THE WORTH OF
CIVILISATIONS, AND STRENGTHENING THE HERD!”
The Veteran threw away the apple core. “Nah, that’s my
job, sort of, and it’s a pretty darned unoriginal
rationalisation for genocide. You’ll have to work more
on that.”
“MY DESTINY IS WRITTEN IN THE STARS!”
He helped himself to an ample serving of strawberry
cake. “Did they tell you? Not very good speakers I
hear.”
“I AM A FORCE OF NATURE SERVING UNIVERSAL BALANCE!”
“Mm, this is good.“ The Veteran took another slice,
quickly wolfing it down. “Killing people serves a
balance? Overpopulation tends to find equilibrium by
itself. Basic math really, and sentient equals
individual in my book.”
“I AM THE NECESSARY UNKNOWN ALIEN VARIABLE CREATING
DISORDER IN A STAGNANT CREATION!”
“Stagnant? There are so many slump-factors around that
you wouldn’t believe it. Almost nothing is entirely
predictable
 excepting yourself o’course.” Munching
all the while.
“I AM A UNIQUE SINGULAR BEING DEVOID OF OPPOSITES!”
“No you’re not. Your kind of cheap dialogue is a dime
a dozen, and didn’t you say that you enforce balance
and disorder at the same time?”
“I CANNOT HELP MY NATURE!”
“Sure you can. You’re self-aware aren’t you, and don’t
have any handicaps either I hope? Positive thinking,
that’s the key.” He seized the last piece.
“I AM BEYOND JUDGEMENT!”
“Depends on who’s looking doesn’t it?” And swiftly
finished it up.
“I AM A CONCEPT BEYOND GOOD AND EVIL!”
The Veteran pulled out a bottle. “It’s called amoral.
The schooling these days
 Don’t they move beyond
Nietzsche? He was weak, you know. Not much of an
übermensch.” He began to guzzle the brandy.
“I HAVE TRAMPLED ARMIES OF PRODIGIOUS TRANS-BEINGS
BENEATH MY FRAME!”
The Veteran burped. “You really need to watch the
diet.”
“I HAVE SHATTERED PLANETS WITH MY FISTS!”
He took out another of his choice cigars, igniting it
with a down-to-earth lighter. “Now I know that you are
shitting me. A small fellow like you would have to ram
it at a substantial amount of the speed of light to
accomplish that.”
“I AM A LAW AND COUNSEL UNTO MYSELF! I HAVE NO
AFFILIATION TO YOUR PHYSICS OR CONCEPTIONS!”
“That would explain the angry loner shtick, and the
tacky outfit.” He continued to puff away.
“THE DEATH-THROES OF THIS WORLD SHALL STALL THE END
FOR ANOTHER CYCLE! ACCEPT THE HONOUR TO SUBMIT YOUR
INSIGNIFICANT LIVES FOR THE GREATER GOOD!”
“You’re really into some home-brewed version of the
Thugee-Kali-Hindu jig huh? Lemme think about that for
a moment
” The Veteran grasped his chin in
mock-contemplation. “Hmmm
nah! Your logic is as
watertight as ever, meaning you-know-what, but I think
we’ll take our chances.”
“MORTAL FLEA, BRING ME THE GREATEST WARRIORS OF THIS
WORLD, THAT I MAY CONTEST THEIR MERIT, AND MAKE A
WORTHY OFFERING AT THE ALTAR OF DESTRUCTION!”
The Veteran wiped his mouth with a napkin, dusted off
his khakis, threw his cigar to the side, and stood up.
“Destruction isn’t sentient, and the Universe doesn’t
hinge on narrow conceptual segmenting of various
processes or ideas, but I guess that would be my cue.”
“YOU? MUHAHAHA! YOU ARE NO MATCH FOR ME! I DETECT ONLY
THE SLIGHTEST VARIATIONS BEYOND THE HUMAN NORM! EVEN
YOUR COMPANION EXHIBITS NUMEROUS THOUSAND TIMES HIGHER
READINGS!”

The Veteran took a traditional British boxing stance.
“Life is full of surprises. Stop being a chicken and
fight like a man.”
“I CAN EASILY WITHSTAND THE HEAT AND PRESSURE AT THE
CORE OF A STAR! NOTHING YOU DO COULD POSSIBLY
REGISTER!”
Taro impulsively stood up. “Are you crazy? This guy is
no joke!”
The Veteran winked and made a thumbs-up. “You watch.”
Thun! The Veteran punched Abyssmic in the gut. The
latter doubled over, spewing a stream of fire. “Your
kind always loses!” Thun! A strike aimed at the same
spot. “Because you forget the most important thing!”
Thun! Another gut-punch “I fight for taking
liberties!” Thun! He hit Abyssmic in the chin, pushing
the being backwards several feet. “I fight for glory!”
Thun! This blow landed at the centre of the face.
Thun! “I fight for greed!” Thun! “I fight for
cynicism!” Thun! “I fight for deceit!” Thun! “I fight
for disregard!” Thun! “I fight for scorn!” Thun! “I
fight for conflict!” Thun! “I fight for brutality!”
Thun! Abyssmic began to waggle. “I can’t loose when
everyone believe in me!” A final epic blow toppled the
titan to the ground.
He unfastened one of the blades strapped to his
side-placed backpack and yanked the dazed creature
upright. “Because feeling good always wins!”
Abyssmic’s head was sliced straight from its
shoulders.

The Veteran immediately seemed to lose interest,
picked up his backpack, lighted another cigar, and
turned towards Taro. “Now, rookie, I understand that
you were looking for some drilling.”

Taro felt the ground tremble underneath his feet,
accompanied by a rising rumble. The plateau fractured,
buckled and finally crumbled from the strain, as the
feather had finally reached the bottom of its descent.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


As you go sightseeing into the Abyss



1 month ago:

“Hfff!” The eyes of the tiger fixed on its
infuriatingly limber prey. “Hrrruur!” It pounced. Once
more having a magnificent success-rate
 at striking
sizeable craters in the bedrock, and receiving another
kick to the face. Not even Herb could stand up to Lime
without resorting to esoteric talents. Ryoga managed

barely. Lime at the very least matched his endurance,
and was almost thrice as strong
 at least under
regular conditions, but Ryoga had a comparable
advantage in terms of speed, skill and agility. They
were roughly evenly matched, each winning about half
the rounds when restricted to straightforward
hand-to-hand combat.
Ryoga temporarily drifted away, wondering how Akari
was doing. It had been a full day since he last called
her. How would she cope with this? Could she?
That was all Li Me needed. He struck his opponent with
tremendous force and followed up with a few more blows
in rapid succession.
Ryoga rubbed his aching skull, and pushed himself up
from the ground. He had to stop losing his focus.
Li Me placed a massive fist on Ryoga’s left shoulder.
“It was a good bout brother.”
“I’m not your damn brother!” Ryoga snapped.
Li Me remained at ease. “You are Tiger. This is all
that matters.”
Ryoga solemnly shook his head. There just wasn’t any
use talking to some people. How could anybody be so
pigheaded?

His current least favourite person descended from
above. “We see that you are keeping yourself
entertained.”
“No thanks to you.” Ryoga muttered. Referring to
himself in plural was Herb’s most annoying new habit
after ascending to the throne. He was uncertain if it
even was a traditional custom among Chinese emperors,
or if it was picked up elsewhere?
“Do not ever speak out of turn again!” Hao Huang Bu
snapped.
Ryoga actually felt relieved. Finally a situation he
had a handle on. “So what are you going to do about
it?”
Hao Huang Bu grimaced. “Apparently our generosity has
been misplaced. This first-time privilege of proper
continuous instruction has caused you to forget your
place.”
“You mean with my foot crammed up your ass?” Ryoga
grinned. Nowadays he had to take his pleasures where
he could.
Hao Huang Bu kneaded the knuckle of a tightly squeezed
fist. “You are Musk. Our laws are absolute. You will
show compliance to our sovereignty, or we will devote
the full might of our army to compel you to do so, and
make an example for every single insolence.”
Ryoga truly hated this guy, but also knew that it
wasn’t a bluff. Herb would see it as fully justified
to pick off anyone he cared about one at a time, and
he couldn’t stop the entire 14000-year-old
warrior-dynasty, significantly undermanned or not.
“Because you gave me so much choice in the matter.”
Grumbling again.
“Silence! You are about to settle your debts and
fulfil your duties!” Hao Huang Bu smartly walked away.
Not bothering to voice the order to follow for the
scheduled audience at the royal mansion. Disobedience
was unthinkable. He briefly glanced over his shoulder,
as a touch of spite flashed in his eyes. “Naturally,
there is also the matter of your little
’problem’.”

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Ryuu was getting into the mechanics of his new job.
The entire area was blanked and distorted from most
perceptions and guarded by a host of protection wards
against both conventional and supernatural assaults.
Given the nature of their opposition it was necessary
to at all possibly work as a headquarters.

The congregation of psychics in the main temple
cleaned their minds from distractions through
meditation, to expand their spiritual skills, and
easier distinguish sporadic and generally fragmented
precognitive flashes of significant potential hazards,
murders, severe crimes, terrorism and catastrophes. 

The first adjoining building hosted a computer
central, with an extremely competent staff that
compared and coordinated the disparate data for
pattern comparisons with real-life spots, upcoming
happenings and exploitable weaknesses for more
malignant-minded groups or individuals. Being crucial
to the running of the entire operation their jobs were
very well paid but the hackers and probability
analysts were mainly motivated by the chance to get a
part in highly diverse, unusual and stimulating
happenings. The conclusions and instructions were then
instantly reported to receivers at patrolling field
agents like him, selected in relation to suitable
fields of proficiency and vicinity to the danger spot.


The third building contained a team of highly assorted
and mostly unconventional mystics and more
practical-minded espers. Working in conjunction to
accommodate for the nature of more unusual threats,
providing experience, counsel, crafting defences,
formulating lines of attacks, adjusting the odds, and
occasionally providing makeshift weaponry, as well as
accompanying the strictly hands-on, brute force or
combat-oriented workforce for backup, assistance or a
subtler touch. Although the surreal nature of certain
practices
 evidently gave results, but the less said
the better.

The fourth was focused on intense, high-level refining
of practicable usage for extranormal aptitudes, combat
training in a room reinforced by hardened steel and
every additional seal or artefact the unit could
provide, and learning about respective strengths,
weaknesses and mutual harmonisation. The basement also
hosted various offenders and creatures too powerful
and dangerous to be safely confined in regular
prisons, while keeping the people best adapted to
handle them close at hand in case of emergency.

The fifth simply contained an arsenal of ordinary or
unusual weapons, and a few confiscated dangerous
items, kept under lock and seal while awaiting a very
safeguarded and carefully handled methodical process
of destruction.
All of the buildings allegedly contained zones with
various degrees of tesseract attributes, expanding the
available space according to requirements.

Muramasa Taikio had apparently exaggerated when
claiming to become Ryuu’s designated partner, at least
in the conventional sense. Certainly, he was the most
frequent one, as their different methodologies did in
fact complement each other, with Ryuu’s unrestrained
heavy damage infliction, and the latter’s thus far
unassailable guardian runes, or scalpel-like,
disciplined application of force. Surprisingly he also
carried a shotgun with very diverse types of
ammunition, bullets blessed by holy water, Buddhist
chants, carrying spooled Shinto O-Fuda seals with
shifting effects, the works. Defining watchwords:
“Attempting to find something worthy in all men can
indeed be a proper conduct, but lack of accountability
for grave offences does not equal justice.” “Who is
more evil, the man that takes joy in murder and
torture, and actively supports the slaughter of
millions, but makes no excuses, or the man who does
the same while maintaining that it is a moral conduct,
and is unable to perceive himself as anything but
good? Personally, I would maintain that the difference
is negligible.” or “Eagerness is of great help when
properly applied, but so is a cool head.” concerning
Ryuu in particular.

However, there were others, depending on the
circumstances and objectives. Tsukino Hitomi was a
tough, no-nonsense, psychic field
officer/chemist/occult profiler, having borne witness
to a great deal of queasy activities over the years
and endured. She referred arcane knowledge for
significance, and brought potions or artefacts to
counter the effects. She was rather low-rung in
herself, but knew enough to capably use provided
utilities. Her true strength lay in using this in
conjunction with her low-powered but versatile esper
skills. Refined to a level where she could clog
selected blood vessels in crowds of people from 1000
feet away, alternately provide a spark of fire at the
exactly right spot to ignite a distraction or heavy
damage, depending on what was ethically viable. She
tended to favour translocating trace amounts of
customary drugs and poisons of touch or ingestion to
incapacitate hostile elements during more worldly
missions. Like Taikio, she was averse to killing
whenever she could apply an alternative, but in her
case it was not in the least due to sympathy or faith,
strictly benefit of doubt. Defining watchwords: “Some
paint, a basic chemistry set, Google, imagination, and
a water-gun, that’s all you really need.” “True evil
is sane, and only shadings of grey can face it. There
can be no reasoning or middle-ground with something
that hates you by instinct to the very depths of its
being, for the mere existence of any innocence,
joyfulness, compassion or scruples.” “There is only
one solid validation for prohibiting the death
penalty: That potential innocents will never gain a
chance for acquittal. Unfortunately it is conclusive,
and thus the scales will never be balanced.”

Fukui Ayumu was an infuriatingly unpredictable, and
superficially stray-minded, symbolist chaos-magician
who adjusted the odds by significance and action in
conjunction, with intuitive behaviour to put little
pebbles in movement, causing useful results at later
junctures. Defining regularly reiterated annoying
catchphrase: “It felt right.”

Takenaka Hayato was the assigned contact, a gangly,
detached, Jolt-Cola-popping slob, with a hoarse nasal
voice, odd facial movements, and a spasmodic,
borderline orgiastic, toothy grin, frequently
accompanied by fluctuating giggling. He handled or
forwarded technical evaluation and calculation of
potential damage/weakness points through Ryuu’s
inconspicuous miniaturised bug and earpieces, while
keeping track through a real-time video-feed. A bit
excitable, but generally a good guy
 tolerable
 sort
of
 sometimes
 almost
 ok not really. Defining
watchwords: “Zomgod! This is so cool! Lookit that head
splatter! Do it again! It should score a huge snuff
site rating.” “So you want to match petty, obnoxious,
pompous, unreasonable spite with me? Huh? Huh? 10
winks, 20 tongues, 30 rolling on floor laughing out
loud, 40 roll-eyes, 50 worms and trojans, 60 manure
salesmen calling about your order, a remote-controlled
tazer waiting outside your window, your account
numbers are overtaxed for the Vietnamese post-order
brides arriving in a few days, and your WoW level 70
Druid is on the black market! Boo-yah waka-wak
beeeyatch! Match that weak boy! That’s art!” “Come on,
go a few days without the medication. Slash your
wrists and be done with it. I dare you! The live feed
should be worth a few chuckles. I’ve got catchy
cheerleader animations and everything. Slash ‘em, cut
‘em, slash ‘em, cut ‘em, slash ‘em, cut ‘em
 chicken!”
“I’m not intolerant, or uncompromising. I loathe
everyone equally, and just haven’t happened to be
wrong yet. One hate. I really scare you. Nuke out.”

Mitsumoto Kiyoko, the warden, and supervisor of the
sensitives, was the main reason Ryuu actually
considered this madhouse worth his time, almost like a
substitute mother of sorts, making sure that everyone
was well-cared for, and devoting extra attention to
himself. It was a major improvement just to have
anybody give a damn about him. Ayumu was that weird
uncle everyone tended to avoid, and Hitomi might
qualify as some kind of dysfunctional cousin, maybe a
half-brother in Taikio’s case, though Hayato was
definitely just an adopted nephew, twice removed. Ryuu
didn’t really understand Kiyoko, but she was genuine
in her kindness, so he still appreciated that.
Defining watchwords: “If all people knew how they were
loved, they would be able to bestow it unto others,
and not one of them would raise a hand in wrath
again.” “Preserve a life and you save the world.
Preserve a thousand and you save a thousand worlds,
and untold thousands more in their children and
grandchildren. The greatest amongst men would find it
humbling to envision them all.” “No man is a Messiah.
We are flawed beings in a flawed world. When we fail,
find it impossible to make an ideal and dedication
absolute, or don’t consider alternate options, this
does not invalidate all the good intents, or aspects,
and times wherein we succeed. Inconsistency is a part
of human nature, but we can still aspire for a
brighter path. Every little step should be cherished
as a small triumph.”

Ryuu was looking forward to his imminent ‘graduation’;
or rather allowance to work in the field under GPS
supervision, and constant reports to Hayato or another
contact about his development and procedure, though
not consistently stuck with a chaperone. It wasn’t
like he was anywhere close to truly finish all the
studies, but they needed his brawn. The local Yakuza
was slowly growing more esoteric, which constituted a
major problem. Ryuu was not exactly a man of gracious
social communication, or at least definitely not
sentimental one, but during the current routine
patrol, while swiftly leaping across near-skyscraper
rooftops, he nonetheless offered Taikio a curt: “Some
of you people are ok.”

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Taro had quickly learnt the ways of the world. His
coach had dragged him all over the globe. They had
helped to organise, educated, silently assisted or
incited insurgents, militias, tyrannies or drug-wars
in Africa, Central Asia, Eastern Europe, the Middle
East, Indonesia, and South America. The Veteran
handled the interaction and planning, while Taro kept
to the shadows. He would have stood out too much from
the local, generally extremely insular or xenophobic
crowd. Assassinating reformists and diplomats, helping
to carry out assorted terror deeds, or personally
manufacturing them to be blamed at the opposing side.
Moulding the geopolitical landscape to encourage
conflicts of all sorts. “One shot, that’s all it took
to initiate the First World War. I was there.” as the
living legend had said, but it wasn’t like they were
truly needed in most cases, just trying to make sure
that the world was progressing the way it should, and
sometimes to trigger that tiny crucial tip of the
scales, or taking down the occasional world-beater. As
he phrased it “It won’t do to have the slate cleaned
out and start over, after all the work I’ve put into
it.”

If The Veteran ever had an ethnicity he had long since
forgotten it. His appearance, perspective and
mannerisms shifted slightly to fit differing local
standards about what he represented. The need or
legend held in the hearts of the local populace, the
raging worldwide conflicts, a gale of wind switching
allegiances solely contingent on where it could
personally inflict the most widespread amount of
damage.

The gung-ho adventurer, the free spirit, the
unpredictable coyote, the revolutionary, the
swashbuckler, the dashing swordsman, the golden calf,
the dragon-slaying gloryhound, the wise and timeless
old soldier, the dark paladin, the conqueror, the
dreadknight, the barbarian butcher, the lord of
battlefields, the eternal champion, all wrapped into
one
 The embodiment of war, and spirit of glorified
murder, an eternal rogue and mercenary with all
pretences of honour, nobility, civilisation and higher
causes than self-preservation, thrill of the hunt, and
axiom of purpose utterly stripped away, shifting and
mixing functions subject to any situation.

He was the primeval hero, the star of any story, the
man who always looked good no matter his actions or
circumstances. Greater than a mere legend; he was a
concept who had long since expunged all doubts and
honed his essence into pure intent. A merrily
laughing, wisecracking, completely confident and
unflappable mass-murderer with an eternal
Cheshire-smile of shiny white teeth, allaying any
gravity with quotable quips, playfully winking while
storming into hails of bullets, effortlessly
overcoming what should be impossible odds, and gunning
down anything and everything in his path with absolute
precision, each bullet calculated to cause a maximised
amount of prolonged excruciating pain, or noiselessly
slitting throats so immaculately that nobody ever
noticed until their heads bumped against the soil; An
inspiration or nightmare to everyone who ever met him,
potentially capable of instigating fanatic fervour in
millions at a time.

It was like everybody he confronted instantly lost all
skill, aim, and sense of strategy. Despite no physical
abilities beyond a high-level normal athlete, beings
that could shatter mountains with a blow or move
dozens of times swifter were quickly overcome by
attacks that shouldn’t even connect, much less tickle.
Any opponent was reduced to a hollow shell within his
presence. Timeless because he ensured that the world
just wouldn’t let him die. Taro was in awe of him. He
had finally found a worthy role model.

Taro had been given strict directives. No more makeup,
no more earrings, no more bangs, and no more net
shirt. If he wanted to cultivate respect as a serious
player, or even fit in to the environments they moved
in, the metrosexual look was a definitely no-go. Only
dressing in locally acceptable casual, military, or
camouflage clothing with a sooty face, as part of the
humdrum. 

His instructor usually didn’t address him much. He was
incarnated pure action, showing by example and
expecting absolute attention, but when they were
sitting by the campfire at night, he occasionally
imparted some crucial nuggets of wisdom at different
junctures.

Flash. The Veteran tore off a piece of the freshly
killed, bloody gorilla roast, spinning above the fire,
and bit off a mouthful. “Kid, I’ve been around for a
while, so listen up. Let me tell you, there’s nothing
like being drenched in the blood of your enemies,
cutting through their bodies like a scythe on a field,
heart pounding, force of the moment, time in
slow-motion, power over life and death. Pure ecstasy.
You’re as alive as you’ll ever be. Nothing ever comes
close. ” Words to live by.

Flash. “Once you have chosen your true weapons, they
are your strength, honour, dignity and very soul.
Treat them with reverence, never let them fall into
enemy hands, and stride through an ocean of spears to
reach them.”
His face had an intensity and gravity that Taro had
never seen before. He wordlessly nodded.

Flash. “The world is a pretty rough place when you get
down to it, and there is no such thing as ‘principled’
or ‘moral’ conduct and ‘fair play’. Expect that
everyone wants to screw you over, and you’re never
disappointed. The ‘good’ are basically just
maladjusted geeks and wussy preachers living in a
dream world, too gutless to take on a ballsy view. If
you want to grow from a boy into a man you have to
kill. That’s always been the rite of passage, period.
As far as I’m concerned, if you get away with it
that’s ‘good’, and I bet your ass you’ll be a lot more
fun guy to have around. If someone’s too weak to break
the brainwashing then that’s his tough luck. You’ll
see him on the wrong side of the finish line, bleeding
out his guts over the track.”

Flash. “Watching them move, slaughter and die at your
command is a captivating sight. There are few things
more gorgeous than overseeing some coordinated,
efficient and truly ingenious carnage. Don’t let
defeats emasculate you. If the opposition has you
spooked, bide your time, take it down on your own
terms, and teach the son-of-a-bitches what true terror
is all about. Aspire for the grand standard of erasing
every trace that your target ever existed.”

Flash. “Now, if you’ve got a tyranny the playground
rules are mostly just about keeping the people in
fear.” The Veteran held a cigar between his right
index and middle fingers, pointing it in Taro’s
direction. “In a democracy the elected leaders are
usually free to whatever they like as long as it’s not
within the country, and either kept under wraps,
ignored to death, or properly marketed by the
spin-doctors. Mankind has an intense need to find a
proper ‘us against them’ to stick together, because if
there isn’t what’s to make them and their place any
special? Find or create a convenient external threat,
to funnel all their little pent-up fears and worries,
and you will get a magnificent war to synchronise your
subjects into conformist unity, or collective
psychosis, whichever tagline you prefer. Refocusing
from any turmoil, trouble and dissent within your
society. The classics are tried and true, and always
work, more or less. Individuals are smart, but I
wouldn’t insult the stupid by comparing people to
them. The trick is to work with that.”
He took a swig from a bottle of Tullamore Dew blended
Irish whiskey. “You can justify anything with the
right slogan. The truth is irrelevant, only the
charisma, diversion, persuasion, persistence, and
conveniently misrepresented paragraph quotations
matter, and spicy entertaining lies are always a
preferable anyway, as any lawyer or marketer worth his
salt would say. You’re either not accountable, as a
humble public servant and representative tip of the
iceberg, or just following orders in honourable duty.
It works both ways. At most a fall guy will get
impeached and lose the position to an identical
replacement. Right of sovereignty, unsigned
conventions, diplomatic protocol, or threats of
invasion take care of any feeble demands from ‘war
crime’ tribunals, and the antagonism makes your
backers root for you even more. That’s the true beauty
of politics. You have no liability for offences so
vast that nobody could possibly truly comprehend them,
while the petty, comfortable stuff easily creates
uproar in the right hands. Wholesome Saturday
kill-o-rama with a complimentary “Get out of jail
free” card.”
The Veteran threw the nearly emptied flagon into the
flames, creating a bright flare-up as the alcohol
ignited. “Case in point “One man’s terrorist is
another man’s freedom fighter, just look it up in the
dictionary” basically works for anything. Select an
appropriate cause, feel a little oppressed today, make
it known that you hug your children, and be
romantically ennobled and justified to kill scores of
people who have nothing, or a very disproportionate
amount, to do with it, while those who disapprove are
the nasty dim-witted bigots. Whoever came up with it
was a genius. “I love my cause so much that I’m
willing to kill for it” isn’t too shabby either, but
only for starry-eyed ideologues that happen to agree
with you.”
He paused, and gazed forward, enthralled by the
smouldering embers. “In any case, ambition always
trumps compassion, and ‘justice’ is only about
enforcement and preservation instinct, devout crybaby
peace-tripping or not. The five permanent members of
the UN Insecurity Council are the Earth’s greatest
weapons dealers. I’d say we’ve got our work cut out
for us, wouldn’t you?”
Taro laughed at the irony. “Haw! Good point.”
“We’ve already won boy. The entire world is on our
side, whether they admit it or not.”
“Well said.” Taro held up his own bottle. “Here’s to
the manliest man alive.”
“That would be me all right.” The Veteran mused.

Flash. Running at the forefront side-by-side,
cheerfully laughing as they advanced, with whirling
knives and hails of bullets felling anything and
everyone in their path. The Veteran’s voice a roar
amidst the chaos, stirring the troops into action. “Do
or die! Face the glory! Kill! Kill! Kill!” Awesome.
“Yeeehaaa!” This was life. This was beauty, and poetry
in motion. This was heroism at its finest. Taro was a
Shinigami, a lord and scythe of death, keeping hordes
within his massive fists, and deciding when to
squeeze. Ideals were for losers, and here the losers
ended up dead.

Flash. The Veteran had only asked for, or rather
demanded, information about Taro himself once, at the
end of their 4-month crash course. “See, I’m not doing
this for charity. It’s an investment for the future,
and to see if you have the chops. It’s about time to
let you try your own legs. Come back in a few decades
and I’ll haul you to the next level.”
It had not occurred to Taro before, but he had somehow
avoided changing into a chimera in any of these
months, downpours, or even monsoons notwithstanding.
It didn’t seem important at the time. It had no part
in the ride. He gave the brief rundown, as was the
acquired custom, including his surname. Keeping it
secret to maintain respect was one thing, but
complexes were for lesser men.
The Veteran was puffing away as usual. “Happosai? Is
that squirt still around? It’s been a couple of
centuries.” He briefly paused for thought. “The pansy
moniker must go.” It was a statement of fact. He blew
a puff of smoke from the corner of his mouth. “Now,
what you need is the name of a warrior, to soak you in
blood and fire. But I get to choose the new one. No
questions asked. No compromises. No second chances.
It’s all or nothing kid.” 
Taro nodded in affirmation. He didn’t call the shots
around here.

Flash. The Veteran had made a call. That was all it
took. A single call and Happosai showed up at the
appointed time to convene with Taro at Jusenkyo by the
cursed spring in which the latter was baptised. Taro
had expected no less.
For once the irreverent lingerie-thief actually almost
looked serious for a few moments. “I hope you know
what you are doing sonny. Do you really understand
what he is?” Happosai looked deep into two great dark
chasms, as Taro met his stare with the triumphant grin
of an apex predator finally cornering an elusive prey.
“Yes. Precisely.”
The diminutive grandmaster sadly shook his head, but
quickly perked up again, immediately disregarding it.
“So what’ll it be then? I’ve always been keen on
Negligee myself.”
“The first hero. Gilgamesh
 Gilgamesh Taro.”

That was it. The last tie to his past life swiftly and
cleanly cut off, and he was vastly better for it;
reborn in blood and fire, and destined for greatness.
Regrettably The Veteran had shot down any ambitions
for revenge, much less assistance. “The midget is
safe, that was the deal. Do whatever you like, but
never break your word unless you can find a loophole.
It’s bad for long-term business, and he made sure that
this one didn’t.” Taro shrugged. It wasn’t like he had
much interest after getting what he wanted. (I can
probably live with that.)

Flash. In-between the missions Taro had been allowed
some time to cultivate minor relationships with
various Asian underworlds, mostly to emphasise his
accessibility for elite, prestigious, demanding, or
extraordinarily dangerous missions, priced inversely
to the entertainment level. He was rather fond of Hong
Kong and became enlisted as a temporarily employed
blue dragon for one of the local Triads during a
visit. It was successively receiving further troubles
from the “Organised Crime and Triad Bureau”, as laws
were consistently modified to enable even harsher
zero-tolerance crackdowns, and the bribing fees were
growing ever steeper. It was aiming to supplement the
lost profits through expanded international
co-operation. Or more precisely, trade routes of
shifting legality with similar enterprises in
prosperous reasonably neighbouring regions, partially
related to drugs, bootleg tobacco products, cheap
counterfeit software, hardware, and assorted
multimedia replicas, or possibly money laundering and
prostitution, but they were flexible people. However,
Japan didn’t look favourably on any type of
foreigners, least of all Chinese or Koreans, to the
level that even minor guilt for W.W.II rape- and
concentration-camps was virtually non-existent and
taken as a national-level provocation whenever
insinuated. Revisionism, thy name is pride. Taro could
relate, but it constituted great practical problems of
efficient acclimatisation for interactions with
regular society, which lead the group to strictly work
through far more pragmatic Yakuza, accustomed to
routinely employ Asian immigrants within their ranks.

It was an unusual assignment. He had been employed as
a middleman ‘diplomat’ to use his fluent Japanese and
reputation with The Veteran to gain a better foothold
during negotiations. Regardless, being no fool, and
well-versed in following the wind, he regarded the
Triads as too dangerous in the long run. They were
waaay too focused on murder by torture for the tiniest
amount of individualist ‘betrayal’ of, or rather
limited loyalty to, the interests of other ‘brothers’,
which potentially threatened Taro with imminent
extinction. He had once hunted down a hiding renegade,
and administered a modified “death of a thousand
cuts”, as specified by the commission. Thanks, but no
thanks. Bleeding to death while buried in the ground
wasn’t a particularly attractive option, and neither
was being chained atop bamboo as they slowly grew
through his body. He may have the strength of a
hundred thousand men when he sufficiently focused his
chi, and some times that in chimera mode, but he could
grow tired or be drugged too insensate to muster more
than a flicker, and it would only take a moment of
unsteadied vigilance.

After brokering a deal, he used the opportunity to
move elsewhere into more modern, high-class milieus.
The Yakuza sub-bosses were conniving elitist
counter-plotting backstabbing bastards, his kind of
people, and the pay was better. The Veteran trump card
and Taro’s own considerable capacity had come in handy
with the Oyabun, Kurosawa Takehiko, affording him an
instant promotion to directly answerable kobun
enforcer status, with the condition of undergoing some
minor surgery for a more native look. He had
acclimatised in no time. Short smart hair, forceful
and contemptuous businessman gait, long-sleeved
high-necked satin shirts, stylish Armani suits,
too-cool RayBan Aviator shades, twin Chinese Lóng- and
Japanese Tatsu-modelled dragonhead irezumi tattoos at
the centre of his chest, with entwined upper bodies
that separated to let the tails encircle his torso in
opposite directions, and a smaller formal emblem of
affiliation, the whole package, owning the ground
beneath his feet. Fuck yeah! Best of all, unlike the
suffocating ‘hiding in plain sight’ anonymity praxis
to which he had grown accustomed, he could openly
flaunt his vocation to put fear in the commoners while
still being part of a ‘legitimate’ industry. And his
refined outward appearance was automatically
associated with nobility and superior inner qualities,
no matter what he did, while an unsightly detective
would have serious trouble. He really loved this
country! Gilgamesh Taro was getting ahead in the world
as a man who truly enjoyed and took pride in his work.

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