"Now, are you going to give us that map, or are you going to make us hurt you?"

Thomas stood cornered in the dim lit room of a half constructed building, only concrete blocks making up the walls with gaps in them and unfinished windows and door frames. Blood trickled down the side of his head and into his eyes, mingled with the steady downpour of rain that came from the second unfinished level of the building. He did not make eye contact with the man in front of him, but only stared to the ground, his breathing heavy. The knife wound in his side was deep and seeped blood through his white undershirt and plaid shirt. His hand was inside the unbuttoned shirt, grasping the ugly gash. The man before him raised an eyebrow, and then suddenly slapped his captive hard with the back of his hand.

"Look, Mr., you'd better get your act straight before I carve your skin off."

He meaningfully held up the knife that he had stabbed the young Asian man with. Thomas looked up at the man, venom in his eyes. He was so very weary. The hand under his shirt slowly moved to the backside of his belt, fingering the wrinkled map that was tucked into his mud smeared jeans. He was not about to give it over. This map contained every secret of the Arashikage Clan, his family, and the duty charged upon him was the greatest one he had had to bear yet. If the map was taken, it would mean the ruin of the Clan...and everyone in it. His hand silently slipped out from behind his shirt, and met with a sharp piece of shale imbedded in the wall. He worked it out, his deep brown eyes roaming about the black-clad men around him. Their breath was seen in the cold air as they stood around various trash cans converted into fire pits, all eyes on him. The man in front of him, muttered clenching his fists.

"I've had enough of this..."

He took one step too close. Thomas suddenly threw his weight on him with a burst of energy, ramming the piece of shale into his throat. Everyone bolted after him as he took hold of two bricks, charging straight at the gang. He busted two of them over the skull with the bricks, and then delivered several punches to other in his way. Shouts and cries filled the ally-like place, echoing off of the walls. Thomas jumped forward, grabbing up two long pieces of wood that were stuck in the fire pits, their ends blazing. He swung them, striking one in the face and another in the back. He ran...he ran for all he was worth. Down the narrow ally he went, men coming at him from either way. He ran headlong into the first bunch, wrenching out of their grasp and hauling himself up into one of the window frames, jumping out on the other side and into another part of the unfinished building. Ran poured into his face as he threw the two blazing beams of wood at the rushing men, burying one into a man's chest. There was a choked cry from one as Thomas struck him in the throat with a sharp rock, and then suddenly grabbed two more pieces of flaming wood from one of the pits. It illuminated his bloody face as the men circled around him like a lion its prey, and when one got too close, he would swing it hard, sending sparks flying. He suddenly lunged, grabbing the nearest person and violently raking his head along the concrete wall, holding the squirming and screaming form there as he observed his attackers' advance. They had jumped out of the way, but now the closed in on him. His heart raced and throbbed, causing him to shake and breath heavy. He was surrounded. No way escape.

"Fujo touhou...Tenshu fujo touhou dzuki choudai sakini kara korede..."

[Help me...God help me to get out of here...]

He whispered this silent prayer under his breath, his eyes roving across the hard, blood-thirsty faces of the men before him....they were about to strike. His heart raced as he suddenly bolted with a loud cry, body slamming one man. It was now or never.

"Give me strength!"

He rushed into the middle of them, fighting for all he was worth towards the gap in the wall at the far end of the building that led outside. He had to get out...he had to. He fought past them, ripping through them with tooth and nail. Blood spattered onto his face as he hit one man violently, using every skill he knew. A knife suddenly buried itself into his thigh, causing him to buckle. He shot around, seeing the man with the blade just as he ripped it from his leg. The pain was almost unbearable, but he turned and delivered a kick to that man's head that would have shattered a concrete brick. He scrambled to his feet, running towards the gap. It was in his reach, not six yards away. If only he could get outside...if only he could make it that far...if only—his heart jerked and his body convulsed as the resounding crack of a pistol rang in his ears. He stopped, staring in shock towards the opening in the wall. A figure stood there, blood soaking his shirt and neck. He held a pistol at arms length. The pattering of the rain filled Thomas' ears as he slowly lowered his eyes, looking down at his chest. His hand slowly moved to the blood covered spot on his left pectoral, and his throat went tight as he felt the blood run down his abdomen. He was hit. He suddenly looked up at the man that stood in the opening, tears in his eyes as he began to gasp for breath. He gripped his chest, his heart jerking and throbbing. Several men rushed over, grabbing him as he collapsed and hauling him to the wall. They rammed his body against it hard, pinning him there by his arms. The man in the opening walked over, gripping his neck; fragments of shale were imbedded in it, making for a grotesque image. He smiled grimly through his pain, getting up in Thomas' face.

"You thought you could win, didn't y—you?"

The veins stood out on Thomas' neck as he struggled for air, his breathing raspy. A flow of blood came from his mouth as he spit the words into the man's face, yelling.

"Onji tsurete temae, kasu!"

The man raised an eyebrow.

"What did you say?"

Thomas struggled for breath, anger in his voice.

"Same as you, scum!"

The man's amused smile quickly faded, and he violently punched Thomas in the stomach, causing him to spit up blood and double in pain.

"You will not get out of here alive!"

He took Thomas by the back of the neck, yanking him roughly forward only to send him stumbling to the ground. He turned, spitting orders to his men as he turned his back on the groping form.

"Senpou kieuserus mohaya."

These words hit Thomas like lightening, ringing in his ears as he lay helpless on the cold ground. He dies now. Weakly he tried to rise, his body shaking. One man violently kicked him in the ribs, causing him to lose his breath. It finally ended. They hauled him up, two men on either side of him and the one who had kicked him in front. He smiled wickedly as he pulled out a gun, slowly laying its cold barrel onto Thomas' forehead. The young Asian man hardly cared. He could do nothing. He was drained of all strength and energy, only the two men holding him up. His mind began to wander back to the Arashikage...he had failed. There was a long silence, only the pounding rain and the cracking of the fires in the pits to be heard. The man suddenly cocked his head, lowering the gun.

"No...I have a better idea..."

He looked up at the two men, grinning.

"Senpou dearou kashou!"

A roar of laughter went up from the mob as the two men drug Thomas bodily to one of the fire pits, wringing his arms behind his back in a painful manner and roughly taking hold of his neck. Thomas' throat went tight as he stared into the flames, heatwaves playing off of the top of it. The flames jumped and licked around the rip, roaring as sparks flew....they were going to burn him. The one man walked around to the other side of the barrel as his minions forced Thomas' head closer to the flames.

"Now, I will give you once last chance. Will you talk, or will you slowly burn to death?"

Thomas closed his eyes briefly. He felt the scorching heat of the flames close to his face, and the hot breath of the smoke choking his air. His voice was weak as he suddenly opened his deep brown eyes, the glint of tears in them, playing off the flames.


The man looked at him in disbelief.

"Do you realize what is going on? Let me make this clear."

He walked around the barrel, grabbing hold of Thomas' neck and hissing into his ear, every word painfully real.

"We. Are. Going. To. Kill. You."

Thomas felt a tear slide down his bloody face as he closed his eyes, the flames closer than ever. His voice was a whisper as he spoke, hardly audible.

"...I know..."

The man shook his head, stepping back. He looked at the two men, waiving a hand airily.


Suddenly and without warning, even before the words had left his mouth, there was a blur and an echoing crash as the man was hurled into the wall, dust and mortar falling around him. His skull was violently crushed at the impact, and the barrel was roughly turned over, sending sparks flying. The two men that held Thomas were brutally attacked by an unknown male clad in black, and their lives ended abruptly as throwing stars were planted in their throats. The mysterious figure was moving so fast and violently, slaughtering anyone in his path, that the mob didn't have time to know what hit them. They ran screaming for their lives in any direction, but were felled by a spray of throwing stars. The leader of the gang stood alone, his heart racing as he backed to the wall, not daring to run. He stared in horror at the black clad figure who stood in the center of the unfinished room, ran pouring onto him. Blood drenched his black combat suit, standing out in spatters over it. Ash and smoke drifted around him, sparks from the overturned fire pit filtering through the air. He did not move. The red glow of the flam illuminated his blond hair and cold blue eyes as he stared the frightened man down, his hand slowly gripping a blazing sledge of wood. The man's throat went tight as the figure began to walk towards him, and before he could stop himself, he ran. In a blur of speed he was rammed against the wall, the burning piece of wood shoved to his neck. He screamed in pain as the blond male spit in his face, his powerful voice frighteningly calm.

"Let me tell you what you will learn the hard way. Whoever lays a finger on my brother, gets a piece of burning wood impaled in his throat...."

He stared the screaming man in the face for one moment, and then his biceps bunched together as he suddenly shoved the sharp, burning piece of wood, ending the man's life almost instantly. There was a long silence that followed, bodies littering the ground. The fire cracked and popped in the silence, the rain still coming down hard. Sparks drifted through the air as the black clad figure slowly turned to look at the figure on the ground, who stared at him, tears in his eyes. He suddenly rushed to him, falling at his side. Thomas lifted himself, hugging the blond tightly and crying brokenly.

"I thought you would not come brother...I thought they would kill me..."

The blond returned his brother's embrace, crying silently.

"I would never leave you, Thomas....never."

He noted the blood stains on his brother's mud smeared shirt. He laid his hands on his shoulders, looking him in the eyes as tears ran down his face.

"Come, let us get away from here. I will take you to the Arashikage. You have done well, my brother."

Thomas gripped his side as Snake Eyes, the ninja commando, helped him up, wrapping his strong arm around him. Thomas wearily let his head fall forward, tears of relief running down his face.

Kesshite tachisaru goshunjin oniisan, taishite senpou dearou nokosu goshunjin itonami oite goshunjin dei itsu yuuku dagekis...kesshite, tachisaru goshunjin oniisan...keshite...Never leave your brother, for he will save your life in your day when sorrow strikes...never, leave your brother...never...