I've been talking myself out of doing this for a long time, but I finally gave into the nagging in my head. This is my first attempt, and I have no idea how it will be received (especially as it gets going), let alone if people will even read it. Please review, positive or otherwise, so I know if this is worth spending time on. I appreciate it!
I realize that the some of the basics of this story are nothing new, but I PROMISE that I will take you on a very INTERESTING and CONTROVERSIAL ride. So go ahead and hop on!
A little background – takes place 6 years after the first movie, which I'll say is now present day. The guys are around twenty two. Rating is for language, violence, drug/alcohol use, adult themes, and implied sexual situations/references (so pretty much everything!) Also be WARNED – character death both sooner and later.
CHAPTER 1: UP FROM THE ASHES
"What doesn't kill us makes us stronger." -Nietzsche
The sky was just beginning to fade to black as the sun dipped below the horizon. There were no more cars driving on the street outside – they knew better than that. Not in this neighborhood. Not after dark.
I felt the breeze whip through my robe as I stepped out onto the balcony. It groaned under my weight, but the metal stayed steady. The spaces between the grates were rather large, and it was almost dizzying to be able to see the ground eight floors below.
The air outside was chilly, but that was to be expected. May in New York was always finicky. Sometimes it seemed like a coin flip was the most scientific way to predict the weather. I reached back and pulled out the rubber band that tied my hair. Over the last few years I'd stopped cutting it, and the ends now fell past my shoulders. Its amazing how one little thing can make you look so different.
Looking to the street below, I watched a man step out of a second-hand furniture store and quickly lock the door behind him. It was Friday, and somewhere in this city there was a bar stool with his name on it. He turned his back to me and trotted hastily down the street.
There were very few stores left in this neighborhood. As break-ins became more and more common, few could afford to keep them open. The vast majority of the buildings had been converted into "low income housing," as the city liked to call it. It was only a little after 6 o'clock, and already I could see a dealer sitting on the steps of his apartment building. Soon, the prostitutes would be walking back and forth on the sidewalk below me. I smiled silently to myself.
It was good to be back.
I'd always known that I would, but the time hadn't seemed right until now. Fear? Maybe. But the truth of the matter was that I really did enjoy the new life that I'd made for myself. Solo work had its gratifications, and the money was intoxicating.
Besides, something inside of me had broken on that fateful night six years ago.
It had taken a long time to recover. My injuries were substantial, and I spent the greater part of six months healing. The most disturbing had been the injury to my right arm, my sword arm. Even now I don't have full sensation in my finger tips. But it hasn't seemed to be a problem. At least not so far.
I ran my finger down the scar on my left cheek. I couldn't look in the mirror without being constantly reminded. They'd left a permanent and visible mark for the world to see, every moment of every day. That pissed me off more than my arm.
The mental damage had been worse. They haunted my dreams, and I'd find myself waking in the middle of the night, covered in sweat. My confidence was shaky, and it took a long time for me to return work. I used to be untouchable. Only one person in my past had ever been able to beat me at my game, and he'd ended up with a knife in his chest. For a while, I thought that dying would have been a better outcome than being defeated by five freaks. But as in most circumstances, time heals. And throughout the following years, I've grown stronger.
Kalin's voice didn't startle me. I knew he was there from the minute he walked into my chamber. I turned to face him. He stood tentatively in the balcony doorway, arms hanging loosely at his sides. He was dressed nicely, black pants and a silver shirt with an oversize collar. His sleeves were rolled, and a number of silver chains decorated his left wrist.
"Good news I hope."
"Yes, Master. Lux has agreed to meet with you. But she'd rather do it on the main floor."
I smirked. She felt threatened by me. "Fine. Tell her ten minutes."
He nodded, lowering his eyes and walking out of the room. His steps were smooth and remarkably silent for someone of his size. He shut the door just as soundlessly.
Kalin is my new prodigy, an apprentice so to speak. After the dissolution of the Foot Clan, I left New York City. I'd thought about returning to Japan, but disgrace kept me in the States. They would never take me back, and even if they did, it would take years to earn back their respect. Eventually ending up in Washington D.C., I found my new calling.
Assassin. Hit man. Murder for hire. Whatever you wanted to call me, I was good at what I did. Word spread quickly about my skill, and I never had to look hard for a job. I was hired by many different groups, from the mob to politicians to high-class businessmen. The money started rolling in faster than I could spend it. But it didn't matter – it was the thrill of the kill that kept me coming back for more. It was like a drug, and every time I dealt a final blow, I imagined the day that I would take my revenge.
Cold and Ruthless. I'd make them regret the day they were born. There was no way in hell it would be fast. I was going in with a clear head, and I had plans for them. I knew how to hit 'em where it hurt, and I was going to take my time.
Kalin and I had met almost a year ago now, when we were co-hired to kill a prominent company executive. The job was intricate, and our employer thought that he needed at least two guys to pull it off. At only 18 years old, I felt mocked at the idea of teaming up with someone so young. But the African American teenager made me eat my words. He was martial arts trained like myself, but was also skilled with automatic weapons. I didn't know much about his past, only that he grew up on a military base. Both his father and mother were in the navy, and much of his fighting ability came naturally to him. He'd had numerous martial arts instructors, which led to him developing his own unique style. Intelligence, skill, and physical strength. An ideal partner.
I'd asked him once why he didn't join the military himself. After all, it seemed a natural progression to follow in his parents' footsteps. He'd replied angrily, and said it was none of my business. I sensed bad blood between him and his father, a common story in this day and age. Fine. I could live with that.
During the time leading up to the hit, Kalin and I spent our free time training together and telling stories of our previous jobs. It turned out that I actually enjoyed his company. He was extremely talented, but still had much to learn before he reached his true potential. He showed respect for me, for my skill and natural leadership. And so it came, that after our job was complete, we stayed together.
Teacher and student. Like Homato Yoshi and Oroku Saki.
Except now I was in charge.
Kalin learned my story slowly, in small, fragmented pieces. It took months before I trusted my student enough to tell him. He'd heard of the Foot clan, and knew the responsibility they'd had for the New York crime wave. But the clan's fall from grace had been a mystery to him. At first, he had simply shaken his head in disbelief.
His reaction was completely understandable. Who in their right mind would have believed me? To think that creatures like that actually existed, let alone were singly responsible for bringing down one of the most powerful gangs in New York? It was ludicrous.
I'll never know if he trusted my word in and of itself. His confirmation would come later. Months passed in D.C., and I grew edgy. The days were starting to blend together, and I realized that I was missing something.
Not the kind that money brings, because God knows I had enough of that. I missed being in charge, the thrill of looking into the eyes of those I commanded, seeing the fear. Knowing that people respected me enough to do anything I asked. It was a hunger that I felt growing inside, and finally it was too strong to ignore. I knew I was ready to start over. And this time, it would be different.
I told Kalin what I was planning, offering him the option of joining me or remaining in D.C.. He never hesitated. I could almost see the dreams of grandeur dancing behind his eyes. He was ready to be a part of something big, and I was offering it to him on a silver platter.
Deep down, I was relieved that he'd agreed to help me. Oh, sure, I could do it on my own, but I couldn't deny his skill. He would definitely be a valuable asset.
Nervous excitement coursing through my body, I stepped back into my room and began dress. My black silk robe fell into a heap on the floor, and I didn't bother picking it up. Looking through my armoire, I pulled out one of my most expensive training outfits. The fabric was blood red, and a single black sash tightened the material to my waist. Once again I tied my hair back, placing it tightly under a shiny lycra head cover.
I glanced quickly at myself at the mirror. Satisfied with my appearance, I tucked a small dagger into my waistband, another into my boot. My sword belt came next, and I decided that I single katana was all that would be necessary. After all, she was only a woman. How she'd reached her current position was still a mystery to me.
After locking my balcony door, I quickly surveyed my room, ensuring that everything was secure. The room was actually quite expansive now that the two adjoining walls had been taken down. I bought this building two months ago, from a man who was more than happy to be rid of it. It used to be a hotel, but had been sitting empty for over a year after the owner went bankrupt. It was in bad shape, and the part of town it occupied hadn't been conducive to any interested buyers. It most likely would have been condemned if I hadn't rescued it. To me, it was perfect. Perfect size, perfect part of town, perfectly hidden from anyone who would care.
I'd spent a fair amount of money cleaning up the inside. A new floor for the main level, and most of the inside had been repainted. The basement was completely gutted and opened up, the perfect space for a new training room. But I hadn't touched the outside. A few of the contractors I'd highered had questioned me about the exterior, but hadn't pressed me further when I said to leave it alone. They were puzzled enough to why I was spending money on the inside, considering the neighborhood. But they had their own lives to worry about. As long as they were being paid, they didn't care.
Everything in its place, I left my chamber and strode down the hallway to the stairs. To most people, climbing eight flights several times a day would be more than an annoyance. It didn't phase me.
Kalin met me at the bottom of the stairs. He didn't have any visible weapons, but I was sure that he had a gun on him somewhere. He was hardly ever without one.
"She's waiting in the front room." He was leaning against the sidewall, looking almost bored. He continued, "Are you sure she's the right one to talk to?"
I nodded. When I heard that the most powerful member of the Sabres was a woman, I almost laughed. Since when did women lead gangs? But apparently, this woman was a force to be reckoned with. Both she and her brother had held prominent positions with the group until his death a few weeks ago. Now she alone held the most influence.
"How did she look?"
"What do you mean? She's a tough looking chick, but definitely not hot if that's what you're asking."
His answer made me smirk. Sometimes I forgot that I was dealing with a teenager. Hell, he looked like he was at least thirty, with a chiseled body few in this world could ever achieve.
I followed Kalin toward the hotel entrance, where I saw Lux standing nervously close to the door. She stared me down as I crossed the room towards her. Although I couldn't see them, I was sure that she had members of her group positioned outside in case she ran into trouble. Smart, but hopefully not necessary. For once in my life, I wasn't looking for a fight.
" 'Evening, Lux," I said haughtily.
"Saki." She folded her arms across her chest. "I'm interested to know what this is about."
"Impatient, aren't you? Would you like a drink? Cigarette? Or perhaps something stronger….."
Her eyes narrowed. Kalin was right – she wasn't an attractive woman. She looked to be in about her late twenties, with black hair and medium toned skin. Biracial probably. Her hair was shoulder length, curly, and wild. She had a stocky build, and her facial features seemed overly round. There was an old scar that ran down the length of her neck on the right side.
"Only if you're going to tell me you're moving out, then maybe. To celebrate."
"Lux." I stepped closer to her, my hands out in front of me. She held her ground and didn't move. "Look, I'm not here to take over your area."
"Coulda fooled me." She glanced around the room, then down at the new floor. "Looks like you're all moved in."
Kalin cut in before I had a chance to answer. "We have an offer to make to you and your group."
"Fuck your offer! We rule this area, and you know it," she spat at him. Turning back to me, her voice a low growl, "Why are you back, Saki? I doubt that you bought this place to start renting out rooms. Hell, I thought that you were dead and buried a long time ago."
Her comment struck a nerve. "No one kills me." It was a statement, but also a warning.
"If you keep sticking your ass where it doesn't belong, I can make you eat those words."
She was more disagreeable than I thought she'd be. Her hands had moved to her waist, undoubtedly to unsheathe a weapon if necessary. Her previously nervous air was gone, replaced with cautious aggression.
I could tell that she'd pissed off Kalin too. He was grinding his teeth, and I could see his bicep twitching under his shirt. For all his good qualities, he was a bit of a loose cannon. All of that strength on a very short fuse. I attributed it to his youth, and hoped that he'd grow out of it.
I tried to keep my voice calm. "Lux, I'd like to propose a merger. I can give you things that you can't get on your own. Weapons, drugs…..training if you like. Even a place to work out of." I swiveled my eyes around the room. "Remodeled just for you."
A look of surprise crossed her face. This wasn't what she expected. She seemed unsure of how to respond, so I continued. "I know that these things are invaluable to you right now."
She pursed her lips, thinking about what I just said. She knew what I said was true. Right now, the Sabres were in a turf war, with this little hotel sitting right in the thick of it. They'd even started calling this street "the section," because it was the intersection of the Sabres territory with that of the 8th Street Posse. I was pretty sure that the feuding had caused the death of her brother a few weeks ago.
"What kinda drugs?"
"Meth, marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy….whatever you want, I'll get it for you."
"What do you get out of it?" she asked skeptically.
"Help in building a new organization. Revenge on those who took me down."
She shook her head at my answer. She didn't like it. "How so? And if you do, what keeps you from taking over this neighborhood?"
I was growing impatient, but I knew that I had to keep my calm. I had to get her to trust me, or this wouldn't work. "Lux, I don't want this neighborhood. Turf wars don't interest me….I bought this place to house new blood, to train. You keep command of the streets and whatever you do on them. What I'm asking for is your partnership. I give you what you need, you offer me your protection and help in mass recruitment. I can help the Sabres quadruple in size, and you'll remain in control."
"You mean we both would be in control. You would want command of the members as well."
"….Yes….but the numbers would be so great, you couldn't do it on your own. You'd lose your hold. Combined, the three of us can keep order. And with all of the weapons that you want at your disposal, you're free to take over whatever area your little heart desires. Make this place your playground."
She kept quiet, still thinking. I pushed harder. "Listen Lux", I stepped forward again, moving in close to her. Her breathing quickened, but she didn't draw a weapon. I put my hand on her arm, tentatively, leaning down to whisper in her ear. She tensed, but I didn't flinch. "I have the money, weapons, drugs. You have the men. We need each other, and we both know it. Let's end your silly gang war and build something bigger."
I kept my face close to hers. I let her smell me, feel my aura. I wanted her to feel all of my strength and the fire that was igniting in my soul. She had to realize what I could do for her. And she also knew that, if she refused, she would be at war with me as well. She couldn't afford that.
Lux leaned away from me, and used her hand to tip my chin towards her. She stared forcefully into my eyes, as if she were looking for the truth. Hell, I had nothing to hide. For once in my life, I was actually telling her the truth. I didn't mind letting her keep her power. Like I said, I would need help anyway. And it might as well be from someone that the Sabres already respected. "I'll think about it," she whispered.
With that, she spun on her heels and pushed through the front doors. There was no chance for Kalin or me to respond.
It didn't matter. She'd be back in the morning.
I looked over and smiled at Kalin, and he grinned back at me. He knew it too.
"Let's go have a drink."