People and Other Skills
Disclaimer: Black Lagoon is not mine. This scenario is, but I'm not making a dime off it
Who do you carry the torch for, my young man?
Do you believe in anything?
Do you carry it around just to burn things to the ground?
-Brand New "The Archers Bows Have Broken"
I hate playing the part of the damsel-in-distress.
My name is Rokuro Okajima, now commonly known as "Rock", and 14 months ago I was your normal garden variety salaryman, drinking all night with bosses I hated, and continuing the trend of underperforming at life that I had maintained for years. It was this life I was expecting to live until I dropped dead from stress and overwork. That is until my sleazy company abandoned me to die in the Southeast Asian hellhole of Roanapur.
When I was a child I wanted to be a baseball player, but my mental skills proved sharper than my physical ones. Despite that, I still managed to fail my college entrance exams on the first try, and all the esteem I seemed to have built up as a dutiful son over the years seemed to have evaporated in an instant in the eyes of my parents. My brother was much more of a success-a civil servant even. He, to this day, is the very picture of legitimacy while I became the newest employee of a mercenary company in the asshole of the world that is Roanapur, a small group called The Lagoon Company.
I can't shoot worth a damn, but I can negotiate, translate for the plethora of multinational criminal organizations we work for and against, and come up with harebrained plans on the fly that have more than once pulled our collective asses out of various fires. Revy has nearly pulled out her hair trying to teach me the finer points of shooting, as I am the exact opposite of a natural, but more about Revy a bit later.
I do my best to keep my head down when the firefights come around as they always do. Most of the time I've been lucky despite the odds and the opposition. A couple times where I've been caught flat footed I've played my increasingly regular unofficial role of that guy in the lagoon company who is always being taken hostage. This was one of those times and the guys currently tap-dancing on my ribs weren't even all that professional about it.
Just from surviving the Japanese public school system, I have learned to take a beating. Living in Roanapur without much in the way of fighting skills proved to be an intense refresher course. So using all I learned, I curled into a fetal position on the concrete floor of some dusty warehouse clutching my abused ribs and spitting a frothy globule of blood into one of my earlier tracks of vomit.
"Hey you fucking Jap, if you don't start naming names, I'm going to take this fucking bat to your kneecaps, then your balls, and finally your ass..." Remarked a greasy longhaired Southeast Asian man with a mouth that had seen more cheap liquor than toothpaste or dental work, "and I promise you, it'll go in wide end first."
He grinned and jabbed my thigh with the end of grimy wooden bat, exposing a maw crammed full of mismatching teeth, crooked to the point where they looked like they were vehemently disagreeing with each other about which direction to go or what color to be.
"Fuckin' tie wearing pussy," muttered the man in fluent Thai rather than the patchwork English he had pieced together earlier.
Greasy here emphasized his point by hacking up a considerable amount of phlegm which landed across my pained face like a modest cup of vanilla pudding or a heaven-sent bird dropping.
I gurgled something incoherent that he must have mercifully mistaken as assent and he tossed his wooden bat in the corner in disgust at my timid compliance.
So far, this was not one of my better days and, all in all, held the promise of being one of my worst and possibly my last.
I laid there for a few precious moments in a pool of my own physical discomfort. I was bruised, dazed, and bloodied, but thankfully no bones were broken unlike my miserable pride.
Greasy and his two cohorts, one a lanky man wearing a white T-shirt faded and stained the color of old underwear and the other an obese swarthy gentleman sweating buckets in the heat, sketched out their plans while I did my best impression of a bleeding throw rug.
"That Chinese firecracker of a gunslinger that lagoon company has is waaaay too fucking hot to handle, boss." remarked the perspiring fat man, that I had mentally dubbed Porkchop, to Greasy.
"I got just the thing for that crazy bitch," muttered Skinny, grabbing at his crotch through his threadbare pants.
The thin man with the stained shirt gestured towards a number of upright gas canisters in a corner of the warehouse.
"We've got enough gas based sedative to knock out a fucking herd of elephants. It's like a super version of that shit we use on the girls from the countryside before we trick them out and trade them. We just mask up and flood one of the basement rooms. Then..." Skinny trailed off with a smile, "...that bitch is well and truly fucked."
Greasy shared a laugh with his cohorts before dictating, "As usual, I'll go first if that whore survives. I swear just a quick nut in her cunt and one in her guts and I'll let you two clowns have your turns."
They go on to describe the things they are planning in lurid detail and my stomach lurches to a screeching halt through the mental fog I'm feeling.
Fuck. Revy. They were talking about Revy.
The Lagoon Company is a small group consisting of four members. Dutch is our leader. A towering black Vietnam War veteran, he is cool under pressure and the Captain of our torpedo boat The Black Lagoon. Benny is our information technology expert-our hacker. A ponytailed Jewish-American from Florida, both him and I tend to keep our heads down to leave the fighting to Dutch and Revy.
Revy is a typhoon-One that has ultimately swept me up and deposited me on the dirty shores of Roanapur. This life...my life now...
If anything, I owe it to her.
If I had to describe Revy I'd say imagine if Chow Yun Fat from A Better Tomorrow 2 and a female Asura, like a literal demon that abandoned enlightenment to lead a life of violence, had a bouncing baby girl that was left to fend for herself. With that in mind, you're part of the way there.
She is always clad in her customary black tank top and cutoff jean shorts, tattooed, foul-mouthed, and long black hair pulled into a ponytail. In double shoulder holsters, she carries a pair of custom beretta 92's-heavy, durable semiautomatic pistols she wields ambidextrously with uncanny skill. I have watched her athletic form run, jump, dive, and roll while shooting to take out multiple armed opponents numerous times. Disturbing as it may sound; it never gets tiring to watch her at work like a goddess of death.
Growing up I never really considered art outside of the comics I read. Art was something on a canvas, or arranged in panels, or projected on a screen. I never thought killing could be an art, but I guess with enough time and effort anything could be refined and improved and explored. Revy is proof of that. Our enemies are her canvases and her Berettas are her brushes.
There is something fiercely alive about her, a candle burning at both ends. There's a sense of fragility too, like a candle that could blow out at any moment, stubbed out like one of her cigarette butts. I shudder to think of the circumstances that have shaped her into the fierce killer she is now, but she neither wants nor needs my pity or my fucking feeble judgment. Revy has threatened me with her guns far more than any of our enemies in the past ever have, being unhinged, temperamental, or out of some paradoxical sense of concern over my well-being.
I have been out in the line of danger time and time again because of this job and regardless of how much we disagree she has rushed to my side, busting down doors and busting heads to save me, saying things like, "Rock, you're such a fucking idiot. Do dumb shit like this again and I'll shoot you in the face."
Fair enough. I can be a stubborn and danger-prone idiot.
Above everything, she's my best friend.
Not just in Roanapur- Anywhere.
It's funny the things you think about after you have gotten the living shit and your recently deceased pride kicked out of you. You remember weird things; the half-remembered ones.
I remembered Mr. Yamashita, my high school baseball coach when not teaching PE, a gruff middle aged smoker with a crew cut and an ever present track suit, scolding me after practice.
"Mr. Okajima, you have the reflexes, the athleticism, and the work ethic. The hardest part for you is mental. Have courage, Okajima-san. Commit and hit. Hit and move. It is just that simple."
Shortly after that, I quit the baseball team to focus on my academics, trading one small disappointment for series of bigger ones later.
In my past life as an office drone, I still had my affinity for baseball and tried to hit the batting cages at least once a week, sometimes three. Away from the pressure of competition, my batting average steadily rose and before I left for my first fateful trip to Roanapur the pitches I hit on a regular basis that were skirting professional league speeds. It was repetitive but also somewhat therapeutic. Often times, the stitched faces of the baseballs I hit resembled the dismissive company executives that made my life a monotonous chore.
Greasy, Skinny, and Porkchop huddle at one end of the warehouse looking over the gas canisters and boasting about the debased tortures they're willing to inflict on the only person who I...
The one person who I…
A chillingly calm haze washes over me and the change is uncanny. Imagine you've needed to take a hot piss for a half hour so you rush home, but end up getting distracted by your favorite show on tv. Things you think could not be ignored get ignored. Those times, there is no pain or discomfort, just purpose.
The fact that Revy is a big girl and can save herself, that I'm injured, outnumbered, that I'm a pathetic shit that can't really fight, and that that greasy long-haired fuck has a gun in a leather shoulder holster DO NOT MATTER.
I know what matters and I know who matters.
I haven't found a gun close by which I'll be terrible with anyways. I may have better luck finding weapons on near the table and crates in the opposite direction of Greasy and his men, but that would mean me leaving cover and likely have me take up a new occupation as a dead hostage.
Sometimes against all hope, the universe appears to sort itself out.
Standing out like surefire proof that whatever god or devil out there watching has a sick sense of humor is the stained and worn wooden bat that Greasy tossed in the corner. The same one he promised to sodomize me with.
The choice is fucking clear.
Just like Coach Yamashita said, commit, hit, and move. Rinse and repeat.
I grab the bat like embracing an old friend. I'm out of their direct line of sight thanks to shitty lighting and warehouse clutter. It looks like Greasy is the only one with a visible holstered gun. He's first.
I'm in luck as Greasy is looking away and his skull is not travelling anywhere near 80 miles per hour.
It's the easiest fucking pitch I've seen in my entire life. I wind up, step, and bury my bat into the back of his oily head as hard as I can. It's a home run from the sound of the dull crack. He collapses, boneless and twitching unhealthily.
Skinny and Porkchop are both frozen in shock at my first turn at bat, but the wiry man is the first to react, diving towards the downed Greasy's holstered gun. When my club meets his outstretched right forearm, it folds in the middle like he asked for a 2nd right elbow for Christmas. He flinches, raising his only good arm, his left, to block my next strike.
The angle is bad and his fingers are splayed. Some of those bend backwards, dislocated or broken I don't care, but not enough to cushion the blow to his left temple, sending him crashing to the ground.
Something dangles from Skinny's face by a thread-an eye I've knocked out of a cracked socket, hanging by a nerve.
Porkchop is babbling in the corner, prayers or apologies I'm uncertain. I don't bother to translate or negotiate.
He dodges my first swing and rushes in to grab me, pinning my arms to my sides with a bear hug. I have no leverage or room to swing my bat.
My teeth sink into his nose as I drop my weapon. His grip loosens as I bite down harder and my fingers reach for his eyes. As my thumbs gouge, I tear my teeth violently free from his face. His grip breaks completely as he drops to his knees, clutching his maimed face, squealing. Newly freed, I scramble for my bat. With it firmly in hand, I keep nailing Porkchop in the head until he quits.
I spit out a mouthful of blood, skin, and cartilage like a whore with a mouthful of cum, and turn to face the other two, Skinny and Greasy.
The bat breaks on the concrete floor of the warehouse when I get no further resistance from Skinny's pancake-flat skull.
Greasy still twitches from time to time with his eyes flat and lifeless in his head. The barrel of the bat has broken off and all I'm left with is a jagged bit attached to a handle. I point the jagged bit downwards at his throat. Once the grip is lined up, knob end up, I use the heel of my palm to repeatedly hammer my point home.
It takes a few kicks to the head after that to convince him to stop gurgling.
With my adrenaline dying down soon after, I puke like a champ.
There's no processing what I've done.
Is this what shock is?
I half-stumble, half-stagger towards the entrance when someone kicks the door from its hinges and dives in.
It's Revy, guns drawn and scanning the room for threats. She sees the bodies and sees me limping towards her.
Our eyes meet. Mine are relieved. Hers widen in shock.
It's rare to see genuine fear in her eyes. I never see it when she's fighting for her life. In a flash her guns are holstered and she sprints towards me.
"What the fuck, Rock? Are you alright?! You look like a fucking used tampon!"
I look down at my short sleeve, formerly pressed and pristinely white, button up shirt and see red and red and red everywhere.
I try to laugh but my ribs hurt again and are punishing me for ignoring them earlier.
"**huff**I…I think that you'd be happy to know that, for a change, most of this…**huff**…period blood is not mine."
I sway unsteadily on my feet, and Revy is at my side in an instant.
"What the fuck kind of bloodbath happened here?!" asks Revy, still taken aback at the carnage.
"They tried to fuck with… …with my family," I wheeze out.
"How'd the fuck did they manage to track down your folks in Japan?!"
"Not… them. …You."
My bloody index finger pokes Revy in the chest right below her collarbones, and my unsteady footing leaves a crimson streak.
I start to fall…
I wake up in cot back on The Black Lagoon, the torpedo boat our mercenary group was named after. My blood soaked clothes are in a crumpled pile in the opposite corner and it appears that I have been scrubbed relatively clean.
I lift up the sheets to find that, mercifully, I am still wearing boxers.
In the cot across from me, Revy sleeps. That blood streak my finger painted on her chest is still there. If I had to guess, she had been watching over me with more worry than she'd probably ever like to admit.
At the end of my cot are clean clothes-pants, flip flops, and a button-up Hawaiian shirt. Revy has been trying to get me in a Hawaiian shirt rather than my usual short sleeve white button-ups for a while.
Beggars can't be choosers.
The commotion I make by stumbling out of my cot and changing is enough to wake Revy. She watches me finish changing before she stands up and asks. "Rock are you okay? Your shirt is…"
I look down to see the buttons and buttonholes of my shirt are all out of order. After fumbling for a moment, Revy comes to my aid.
"Now you look like a proper pirate and less like a fucking caveman, Rocky-baby."
In the hull of the Black Lagoon with a single swaying lightbulb overhead to illuminate all our darkness, Revy steps back to admire her work with a crooked grin.
Despite all the blood and the recent bullshit, I can't help but smile back.
In the past, I have been called a person who dwells in the twilight, straddling the daylight of normalcy and inky darkness of the criminal world.
I am an in-between-er no longer. Roanapur is my home. I am known there.
Although, I am barely better than absolute shit with a firearm according to Revy, I strap my telescoping baton to one ankle, a .38 special snub nose revolver to the other, straighten out my black tie, and secure a simple gold band on my left hand. This my routine, day-in and day-out, and I get to work.
Roanapur is a land of darkness and corruption, but I have one star guiding me, and I will follow her wherever she leads.
Author's Note: This was probably the most realistically violent thing I've written. My goal was to create a Black Lagoon story even someone unfamiliar with the series could enjoy. I was probably influenced by David Cronenberg's A History of Violence and Eastern Promises, and most of all finally watching the entirety of Black Lagoon for the first time on Blu-Ray, a few weeks ago. I'd appreciate it if you'd let me know how successful or unsuccessful I was with this.