Chapter 1

Two Amanto, sitting on a sunny bench just outside a teahouse in Edo. One, a tall man, had his head covered with a straw hat and the other, a woman, was dressed in a similar fashion.

The man took a sip of his tea, grimacing when it scalded his tongue. He shifted in his seat before uttering the code words: "My dick is bigger than yours."

Hiding the snort that rose up in her throat, the woman murmured, "The deposit first."

The man imperceptibly passed a hefty packet into the woman's outstretched sleeve. It jingled, hinting at the valuable gold stocked inside. The woman calmly stifled the noise and slid it further up her sleeve, hiding it inside her cloak.

Taking a bite of the soy-sauce covered dango, the woman crossed her legs, relaxed. "Well? How can I help you today?"

"I need you to kill someone for me."

"Granted. I am a certified assassin, after all." A ghost of a smile danced around her lips.

"Well, yes, but…" The man stumbled over his words before composing himself and taking another large gulp of the hot tea. "There are some…extenuating circumstances. It's not that simple, you know, this person—"

"Oh, that was good," the woman interrupted breezily, finishing up her dango and laying some money beside it. "I'm leaving the money here!" she called to the shop owner. Before standing up, she slipped a folded piece of paper underneath the Amanto man's leg.

After waiting for the woman to leave, the man hid the paper in his fist before slipping into the shadows to read it:

Meet me at XX address. Destroy this.

Smirking, he set the slip of paper on fire with his lighter before heading to the address.

It was an old, rickety pub hidden in an alley alcove. The bar did not have a name. When he entered, he was surprised to see a fully-functioning bar like any other. It was dark, but he could see several booths across the room, lit dimly by shaded lights. The bartender nodded once to him, and pointed at the darkest booth in the corner.

Striding over to said booth, he found the woman sipping a bottle of soda daintily as if they were in an ice cream parlor. He noticed that she had what looked like an umbrella next to her, but didn't comment. Although it was a hot day in mid-July, assassins like her always had quirks. Especially the most expensive ones.

"Sit. Order a drink. Make yourself comfortable." Before he could say anything, she called, "One ice cream soda, Sebastian! Make it strawberry!"

Why would you order a strawberry ice cream soda in a bar? The Amanto couldn't help wondering. And for your customer, no less?

Sebastian, the bartender, strode over with a foamy pink soda, which the woman proceeded to snatch away and drink. Well. So much for that.

"So? Your 'extenuating circumstances' were?" When she caught sight of the harried look on his face, she smiled warmly and purred, "Don't worry—we're the only ones here besides Sebastian, and he's a good friend of mine. He won't spill the beans, I promise."

The Amanto heaved a huge sigh before calling to the bartender, "One Dom Peri." Then he turned to the waiting woman. "I need you to kill Kamui of the Yato clan—Captain of the 7th division of Harusame's Thunder Guns and Overlord of Yoshiwara."

The woman whistled. "Reeeeeally? That'll fetch you quite a price, you know." She didn't ask why he wanted him dead—it was the assassin's creed: don't ask, don't tell. Just get the money and do the job.

"I know."

"Any deadlines?"

"…I'll give you a month."

Whipping out an abacus, the woman rapidly flipped the beads up and down before coming to a number. "Your total is 400 million yen, non-negotiable. 100 million up front, 300 million after completion, not counting bonuses. If I die, you give an extra 1 million to Sebastian there. When you receive notice of his death, bring the money to Sebastian—if you try anything funny, be prepared to suffer the consequences." She smiled. "Pay up."

"Wait. How am I supposed to know about his death? It's not as if it'll be in the newspapers, you know."

"I'll send you something of his." She grinned cheekily. "Which would you rather it be? His infamous braid or his manhood?"

"…The braid, obviously." He slapped the money down on the table. "You'd better get this job done. I'm a powerful man, little girl."

He stiffened when he felt a cold blade press up against his neck. "You don't insult the Bloody Sun, weakling. I'm not the best assassin in the world for nothing, you know." Removing the blade from his neck, she pushed him towards the door. "Thanks for the business! Come again!"

After he left, the bartender ran a hand through his golden blond hair. "…He didn't pay for the Dom Peri. He didn't even drink it. What a waste." He downed the cup that was poured out for the customer.

The assassin chuckled. "You think I didn't calculate that? I added it into the money paid up front." She smiled and leaned across the counter. "So, how are we going to execute the plan this time?"

Sebastian frowned. "You're really accepting the mission? Kamui is arguably one of the strongest captains of the Harusame, you know."

"What do you care?" She shrugged lightly. "We're only business partners, after all. You're my informant, and I carry out the job. We split the pay 6:4. You shouldn't be worrying about my life."

Pouring himself another glass of the expensive liquor, Sebastian sighed. "Meiru Asahi, you are really…"

"Don't call me that," Asahi snapped. "The Meiru clan no longer exists." Her gaze softening, she continued, "Call me the Bloody Sun."

Sebastian snorted. "You destroyed the Meiru clan yourself, little brat. And you still insist calling yourself that childish name."

"Well, my name does mean 'the morning sun', anyway…"

"A bloody sun should be the setting sun, idiot." Sebastian poured Asahi a glass of Coke (she never did drink alcohol) and rounded the counter, sitting next to her. "Killing Kamui of the Yato won't be easy, Asahi. Are you sure you want to kill someone that's probably a distant kinsman?" He of course was alluding to the traditional ties held between the Yato and the Meiru (the clan founders were brothers).

Asahi didn't falter as she poured some of her Coke into his half-downed glass, effectively ruining the drink. "I have no kinsmen. They were all weaklings…and dead." She smirked. "They couldn't even stand up to a rampaging twelve-year-old."

"Well, you are crazy strong." Sebastian wrinkled his nose as he tried the Coke-Dom Peri mix. "Fine. But we're splitting the rewards 7:3 this time."

"You miser."

"And proud of it." Sebastian leaned back. "I have a plan to infiltrate you into the Harusame ships, but you won't like it."

"…Spit it out."

"I happen to have a network of 'friends' who are in league with the Harusame. Apparently the Admiral of the space pirates wants to lessen Kamui's stature in the Harusame, since his authority is pretty much equal to the admiral. In short, he wants to distract him."

"Mm-hmm…" Asahi's mind was reeling. This couldn't be good.

"So he's advertising throughout the underground universe for…"

Oh, shit.

"A wife."

"And you're telling me that I should sign up to be this…this loony baboony's wife?"

"Yup."

"His wife?"

"Technically, his fiancée, Miss 20-Something-And-Still-A-Virgin." Sebastian cruelly laughed. "Maybe you'll get your first time taken?"

"I really feel like throttling you, Mr. Shintaro."

"Hey!" Sebastian snapped. "My name is now Sebastian, not that…disgusting country peasant name."

"Argh…" Asahi buried her head in her hands. "How do you know I'll get chosen to be his fiancée? Aren't there, like, benefits to being his wife?"

"Why? You interested?" Shying away from the deadly glare that Asahi gave him, Sebastian shrugged. "Think about it. Kamui is known for being one of the strongest, ruthless killers in history."

"Really?" Hearing this, Asahi's demeanor brightened.

"You didn't know?" In response, Asahi shrugged. "You are so out of the loop," Sebastian groaned.

"I thought he was just one of those weirdly strong old guys, like—what's his name, the guy who used to be the Yoshiwara king? Hiruzen?"

"Kamui supposed killed Hiruzen," Sebastian said pointedly

"Oh." Asahi smiled. "OK then, when should we go?"

"You really aren't scared, aren't you?" Sebastian asked wryly.

"Why should I be?" Asahi seemed genuinely confused. "After all, this is just a game to me."