revised chapter 1!
Shinji Ikari, age six, whimpered shakily. His uncle and aunt laid at his feet. Above him, two large men towered in the dark, destroyed living room.
"What about the kid?" The first asked.
"What about 'im? He's just a kid. C'mon," the thug ordered, turning and exiting into the night. His partner, after staring a bit longer at the six-year old, turned and flew as well.
"… Uncle… Auntie," the child whispered, on his knees. The blood of his guardians, the ones who had taken him in and given him a home when his own father had abandoned him… Taken from him. Just for their money. By a pair of men with guns.
The boy's blue eyes, filled with sorrow before this night, welled up in furious tears.
"I'll… I'll stop them," he whispered, his tiny fingers gripping the locks of his aunt's long hair. "I'll… Make them pay… I'll get them all… All of them…"
Outside in the night, a small brown bat flapped around, before settling on an eave of the house. It cocked its head, almost curiously, at the small boy weeping within. It had wandered into the house by accident, and the young human had screamed as they collided. The bat was disoriented, its sonar useless in the close confines, and flapped about the shrieking human until the older ones had driven it off. The bat had fled, down the stairs, the older female human pulling open the front door and shooing it out.
The bat did not understand why the two larger humans had been pleasantly surprised to find the door open. The bat could not comprehend why the little boy broke down into sobs upon spotting it again. The bat did not appreciate such human matters-They were not of the night, and thus things of little consequence.
The bat departed the silent home and flew back into its dark realm, joining a swarm of it's brothers and sisters as they flew out into the night. All the while, a young boy watched and continued to cry for his lost guardians…
Yuna Noriyasu looked up from her reading in the corner of her living room, seeing her new ward, Shinji, walking silently on the simple wooden floor. The little boy had barely said anything since he was sent here. Noriyasu was no psychologist (her field of expertise was chemistry, actually), but seeing your guardians gunned down in front of you had to be horrifying. And certainly nothing you could recover from in two weeks.
The little boy looked over at his new guardian, his large, blue eyes filled with such terrible lonliness. She shivered, and stood up, her book left on the arm of her chair as she took young Shinji in a hug.
"Hey, hey… It's okay. Allright? It's okay…"
"It was my fault," Shinji mumbled into her shoulder. "It was… It was my fault!" Noriyasu held out Shinji, looking at him with compassion.
"It wasn't your fault, Shinji. There was nothing… nothing you could have done, allright? Nothing." The little boy sniffled, before burying his face in her shoulder once more.
"I hate them… I hate them!" He growled out, muffled by cotton and flesh. "I wish they were dead!" Yuna pulled him closer, rocking the little boy back and forth while murmuring soothing words.
But Yuna could tell that the anger, the rage, and the guilt were not going to go away. Not on their own, at least.
The young woman smiled slightly, still cradling the young Ikari against her breast.
"Shinji… How would you like to go for a visit?" Shinji looked up at Yuna, still sniffling slightly.
"A visit?" He asked. Yuna nodded.
"Yes. My aunt lives nearby. She's a wonderful woman, with all sorts of neat things in her house. It's like a museum." Shinji blinked thoughtfully.
"Like… Like what?"
"All kinds of things! Swords, statues, pictures," Yuna's smile grew as a spark of interest appeared in Shinji's eyes. "Would you like to go?"
"… Sure," Shinji said quietly, before blushing and averting his eyes. "Thank you, Yuna-san."
"Not a problem."
Cassandra Cain, Yuna's aunt, was half-American, half-Japanese, and lived by herself in a nicely furnished but isolated old-style home in a wood near Fuyuoka Prefecture. Shinji couldn't help but stare at the imposing stone guardians standing at either side of the entrance, and the long tunnel of Shinto-shrines enclosing the walk up to the main house. Yuna smiled brightly as the image of a tall, elegantly-dressed woman appeared on the front porch of the home, her long silver hair blowing out behind her dramatically. Shinji hid behind Yuna.
"Yuna! It's lovely to see you. You've grown so much," Cassandra spoke brightly, her smile serene and glowing. "And this must be Shinji." The older woman stepped forward, still smiling, even as Shinji continued to hide behind Yuna.
"He's a bit shy, Aunt Cassandra," Yuna explained. She gently tugged Shinji out from behind her, letting Cassandra look him over with a slightly imperious air. Shinji looked up and stared back defiantly, his nervousness transforming into indignation.
"My, aren't you fierce looking," Cassandra observed with a small smile. Yuna giggled a bit, but Shinji seemed to understand that the older woman was not patronizing him. Momentarily puzzled, he held Cassandra's gaze.
"But where are my manners? Please come in, I have drinks for you in the sitting room," Cassandra spoke. Shinji still held her gaze, even as they entered the house. The older woman could sense something about the little boy, something… Primal. As she poured the cool flavored water into the glasses and brought them to her guests, she discretely dialed her cell phone and sent a message.
Yuna's cell phone rang moments later, and she answered it.
"Yes? Oh… Um, I suppose. Yes… You need me right now? Are you sure? But I… Yes. Allright," Yuna sighed, closing her phone and looking mournfully at her aunt.
"Something wrong?" Cassandra asked nonchalantly.
"The office needs a total analysis done on this product this high-powered company just sent us," Yuna explained. "It could be a big break for us. But Shinji…?" Yuna turned to her ward, who was still staring at Cassandra. Yuna's aunt smiled kindly.
"Yuna, really. If you're needed, I'm sure I can watch Shinji for a few hours." Yuna started.
"Oh no, really! I wouldn't want to be a bother…"
"Nonsense. It does get very lonely in this house, and I would enjoy the company," Cassandra smiled, taking a sip of her glass. "It's not a problem, right Shinji?"
The little boy looked up at Cassandra and shook his head cautiously. Yuna turned to Shinji and sighed.
"Well, I'm sorry about this Shinji. Don't worry, I'll be back as soon as I can, okay?" Shinji nodded dully. Yuna gave him a hug, and headed out the door. The moment she was gone, Shinji shot Cassandra a glare.
"You made her go." Cassandra Cain was not a woman easily surprised. She was also not a woman to easily show it, so she merely took another sip of her lemonade and regarded Shinji thoughtfully.
"You're very observant." The little boy shrugged.
"I guess…" Cassandra stood, and turned away, walking into another room of the house. Shinji got up and followed.
"When I was about your age," Cassandra began, turning down a hallway as Shinji continued to trail her. "My father was an officer with the United States Army, based in Osaka. A local Yakuza crime boss, Yoshi Hiruga, wanted him to push drugs in the barracks. My father refused, and threatened to go to the police about it." Cassandra had led Shinji to a door in a dark hallway of the house, and opened it without ceremony. She slipped inside, and Shinji hurried to catch up. The two stood inside a pitch-black room, filled with shadowed shapes Shinji was unable to identify.
"So, Hiruga had my mother and father killed… And my home burned to the ground, as a warning to those who would disobey him," Cassandra spoke quietly. "My mother and I hid in a closet… I could hear my father trying to fight the hitmen, and heard him scream as they killed him. I couldn't help but cry out… That was when the hitmen came to the closet. My mother hid me… And took my place." Cassandra pulled a light cord, and the room was bathed in orange and yellow. Shinji blinked, wide-eyed, at the artifacts contained within.
A sleek, dark red bodysuit stood in a glass case, a utility belt clipped to it along with form-fitting armor plates. A desk underneath dozens of framed news clippings and articles. And on every wall, lethal and elegant-looking swords, guns, gauntlets, and various other weapons hung in a testament of death. Shinji looked at Cassandra in numb shock. The older woman simply smiled darkly.
"I survived, only thanks to my mother's sacrifice… And I swore to take revenge against those who had taken away the ones I loved. To make them suffer." Cassandra looked down upon the small boy.
"You too… Have suffered having your loved ones taken in the night. I know. I also know that such pain, such grief… If you do not resolve it, it will consume and destroy you." Cassandra turned to the ancient arsenal and sighed deeply.
"I want… I want to make them pay," Shinji spoke in a determined voice. "I want to kill them all!" Cassandra turned back and shot a sharp look at Shinji, which made him back up a step.
"No, you do not want to kill them," Cassandra spoke in a tone of venom. "I took that path… And it left me like this. Alone… A bitter woman with far too much blood on my hands. Working for the same scum who took my family away." A tired look came into her eyes, and she looked down at the floor.
"… Why are you showing me all this?" Shinji asked plaintively. Cassandra did not look at him, turning instead to the most prominent news clipping on the wall. "US Army family dies in fire, suspected arson," was the headline it bore.
"Because, in my situation… I had no one to turn to. No one to help me." Cassandra turned to Shinji. "Yuna cares very much for you, Shinji. Do not let this tragedy destroy you, twist you into seeking revenge."
"I don't want revenge!" Shinji shouted at her. "I want justice! I want to put those bastards in jail for the rest of their lives! I want them to pay!" The little boy took deep breaths, still glaring fiercely at Cassandra. Cassandra turned to Shinji and shook her head.
"Even with all my skills, all my training… Shinji, you cannot defeat the evil that took your aunt and uncle away. Not as you are. You are only a little boy… You will be ignored, tossed aside, and ultimately destroyed."
"Then I won't fight evil as Shinji Ikari," Shinji spoke quietly, yet with a conviction beyond his years. He looked at the case containing Cassandra's old suit. "I'll fight as something… Something that can't be destroyed, or ignored, or laughed at." Shinji turned back to the older woman, a plaintive look in his eyes.
"But I can't do it by myself… Please, Miss Cain? Cassandra?" The older woman closed her eyes, and took a deep breath. She slowly opened them, and looked upon the small child.
"You will never take a life, understand? That was my first mistake… And it will be your first rule. The second rule… I make the rules. You will never, ever disobey me, or I will stop your training." She smiled slightly. "And you will need to remember to not always take things so seriously. Especially considering how young you are. Do you still want to continue?"
The little boy nodded, never breaking eye contact. Not a bad start, the retired assassin considered. But still a long way to go.
"Then let us begin."
Shinjuku was a small community on the outskirts of Osaka-2, one of a hundred such towns built from refugee camps in the wake of the Second Impact. Its ragged origin remained visible in the relatively crude houses, narrow streets, and large criminal population.
A trio of men stalked down the street, heavy bags under their arms. The leader ducked into an alley way, his comrades following.
"Whew! Pay day at last, boys," the leader breathed, smirking at their sacks of ill-gotten gains. One of his goons looked about nervously.
"Eh? Dai, what's your deal? You expecting a demon to jump out?" Laughed the other goon.
"I heard… I've heard stuff, out in the bars, Yama… There's something in this town… It beats down guys like us… I heard from Murray, that gaijin-"
"Oh, quiet Daisuke," the leader groaned. "I've had enough of these bat-ACK!" The leader fell to the pavement, knocked cold from behind.
"Wh-What the-!" Yama fell next, a small shadow sending him tumbling to the ground. Daisuke shivered, panting in horror at the pair of glowing green eyes that appeared in the shadows.
"Run." Spoke the entity. Daisuke screamed, running his legs off down the alley, knocking over trashcans and eliciting angry cat meows in his panic. The glowing eyes of the creature followed him, before winking out. Into the yellow light of the streetlamp outside the alley, a short, lithe but graceful figure appeared. Over his eyes were large goggles that gave the appearance of an insect's eyes. On his head perched a black cowl with two pointed horns on top, which connected down to a flowing cloak. On his chest, over a plain black jumpsuit, was the yellow oval-encased silhouette of a bat.
The boy glared down at the hoods, before he dashed back into the shadows, once again anonymous to the human eye. As he leaped across rooftops and swung from rafters back to his foster home, he considered that all his training and work might be finally coming to a head. The crime rates in every town he'd lived in (and there were several) since 2007 had been reduced by a considerable amount. And those levels stayed down, even after he was whisked away by the distant will of his father. Shinji decided that, if he was going to do any real good in this world, he needed to operate on a much bigger scale.
He needed the resources of a major city. But what were the chances of him being sent to one anytime soon?
Suprisingly good, heh heh heh…