The streets of Tokyo aren’t an easy place to live, even if you are the fastest kid in the entire district. When most other kids were struggling to find food, you were running. You could catch up to the slow delivery trucks and take food from them, or make a few bucks running errands and messages between the local shops. Failing that, many days your sensei would feed you, so you rarely went hungry. In addition to teaching you the somewhat obscure ways of the daikatana, your sensei sheltered you and raised you. His wife taught you English, for while you didn’t go to school, she felt it was very important that you be able to speak English if you ever wanted a job. She even made sure you could speak with essentially no accent.
Your speed and agility meant that you could always win any fight you got into. You could lead your opponents to any arena you liked, one that suited you best, and strike from the shadows faster than they could react. Your skill meant that you kept the gangs away while staying out of them yourself. You gained something of a reputation as a nice guy, always one to save women from muggers, to recatch stolen purses, and so on.
So of course, when Pax Industries, the biggest shipping corporation in Japan, decided to compose its own little vigilante fighting force as a publicity stunt, you were at the top of the list. The gang was called the Sharks, and was composed of the most badass fighters from the various gangs of Tokyo. You were appointed the leader, as you were the best fighter of the group and at least some moral compass. Unfortunately, those morals were lost as the gang went around eliminating other more violent gangs, earning you the nickname Isonade, “Demon Shark.”
Slowly, the Sharks cleaned up Tokyo. Gang by gang, you eliminated violent crime. You took out the drug rings, the underground racing circuits, even forced the delinquents to go to school, on occasion. The Sharks only ever used traditional Japanese swords, often antiques bought by Pax, and followed a modernized bushido. You cultivated an image of vigilante samurai—part ronin, part ninja, all awesome. And of course, you, the fearless yet honorable leader, with your trusty daikatana in hand.
Finally, Pax decided to send you on a mission to finish the job. You were to tackle the one section of Tokyo no one dared enter: the sewers. The sewers were the domain of the Koukyos, a particularly large and dangerous gang. Few who entered their territory came out again. The Sharks, who numbered only fourteen, were going to take on the Koukyos. Hell, you thought, if anyone could, it was the Sharks.
The descent into the sewers took almost half an hour. The Tokyo sewers are enormous, labyrinthine, and full of grinding machinery. The way in the Sharks chose was not an easy one. After winding through the sublevels of a waste treatment plant under cover of darkness, you managed to find the steps. A hundred flights of open-air stairs led spiraling down into a pit, too deep and dark to see the bottom of. In the dim light, you could just barely see the other side of the pit, hundreds of feet away. Your footsteps clattered loudly on the metal stairs, echoing dramatically about the enormous open space. When you finally reached the bottom, a large cement ring around a deep pool of sludge, it was almost too dark to see. You flicked on the low light on your forehead, and the rest of the Sharks did the same. Each of you wore your blades slung low at your hips, hilts up for easy access. It took a moment of searching to find the next passage down: a thin stairway set into the edge of the pool, leading down to a doorway in the wall at water level. You led the Sharks down the catwalk and in to the darkness.
The passage quickly widened out into a wide tube that progressed horizontally quite some distance. The walls of the tube were lined with rusted grates and strange machinery. The thick grime was evidence that no one had come this way in quite some time. After half an hour of almost total silence, the tube ended abruptly at an enormous door. A small wheel set to one side opened the door with an immense creaking whine. Beyond the door was an immense open space, hundreds of feet wide and easily a hundred feet tall. The room was filled with cement pillars that stretched to the ceiling far above. The few lights diffused gradually down into the lower reaches of the room. As soon as you entered, you could feel something wasn’t right.
You took a few hesitant steps into the room, glancing about for any sign of trouble. Seeing none, you motioned for the rest of the Sharks to enter. As the last of them stepped through, the door began rolling shut once more. Two Sharks jumped back through and grabbed the wheel, trying to stop it, but to no avail. As the door shut with a resounding thud, the lights flickered once and went out, leaving the only light that coming from your headlights. Suddenly, the space was filled with the sound of hurried footsteps splashing through the half inch of water in the room. The sound seemed to come from everywhere at once, making it impossible to pinpoint. You swung up your headlamp, shining its beam into the darkness, looking for movement. A flicker—a shadow—a ripple—a splash—a shine of metal. There were people out there. People with weapons.
You felt them almost before you heard them. Your daikatana was already sliding fluidly out of its sheath as you heard the footstep immediately to your left. Steel clashed as your rising daikatana met their falling wakizashi. Your head finally caught up to the rest of your movement, illuminating your assailant. She was short, wore all black, and held her wakizashi in a tight reverse grip. Around you, similar vignettes were playing out, as various unseen attackers clashed with the Sharks. Sparks flew and metal blades flashed as the battle played out in almost total silence. Your Sharks were trained well—they knew to keep quiet and listen for sudden movements that might give away their opponents. Unfortunately, the Koukyos were even better.
As you took a half step back and slid your blade down hers, you saw a slight sheen to your right. Another? Before you could take the time to check, the girl had jumped away then back in, driving her short blade up towards your heart. You opened your body sideways, catching her wakizashi on the edge of your larger sword, letting it slide past you. This meant the other attacker was now behind you. Not good. You heard the unmistakable –shink- of a blade being drawn, and realized you only had one slim chance. You continued your spin, grabbing your sheath with your free hand as you did. You caught the man’s blade on your sheath, which cracked almost instantly as the incredibly sharp katana bit into it. But it was enough to stop the blade. You dislodged the sheath and jumped three feet back in one moment, putting you a few steps away from your two opponents.
You took a moment to glance around. Most of the other Sharks had taken their various confrontations further away, meaning that you were essentially alone in this fight. As you watched, you saw one Shark get disarmed and knocked unconscious, and another run his assailant through. Your attention snapped back to your own problem. Your Sharks could deal. The two Koukyos leapt into action as one, each jumping in a different direction. The girl came in hard and fast, wakizashi held high, while the man drew his katana back, preparing for a long slash. You threw yourself between them, diving low and rolling under both blades, cutting at the girl’s ankles. Your blade nicked her foot, drawing a thin stripe of red.
You came up spinning around to face them, blade flashing into blocking position. Not a moment too soon, either, as both blades came towards you. You caught them easily on your sword, and flicked both away, sending their wielders skidding half a foot back with the force. The girl slashed high, then low, then the boy was in with a side slash. Loud clangs rang out as you blocked each blow. You realized that this was a fight you could not win. Not in the open, not against two skilled opponents. It was too easy for them to flank you, and who knew how many allies they had waiting out in the dark? It was time to move.
You landed a kick squarely in the man’s stomach, sending him reeling, and deflected a swing from the girl, then turned and dashed towards a visible exit. You took off at top speed towards it, your feet finding little traction in the shallow puddles. You reached the large circular hole in the wall in a few seconds, and risked a glance backwards. The two Koukyos were both giving chase, the girl many steps ahead of the boy. The tunnel ahead was lit slightly better than the still-dark room you were in, and seemed to stretch on for some distance. You dashed further along, and slid to a stop when you reached a bulky stopped crane in the middle of the wide tunnel. You ducked behind it and lay in wait, listening to the approaching footsteps. The walls of the tunnel here were different—wide red grating with various strange outcroppings.
The girl was nearly to the crane when you made your move. You vaulted over the top of the vehicle, daikatana swinging high in a one-handed grip. The girl took a half-step back in surprise, and dodged the whistling blade. It impacted with the ground hard, and you barely had time to bring it up to block her sudden jab. Out of the corner of your eye, you could see her partner running down the corridor towards you, still several seconds away. You disengaged your blade from the girl’s wakizashi, then went in with two fast blows, to first the left then the right side of her head, pushing her backwards. You ran along the vertical edge of the crane around and past her, positioning yourself at the start of the curve of the tunnel. She came in with a low slash coming upwards, and you jumped straight up. You caught the blow on your daikatana, held perpendicular to your blade. Your feet shot straight out behind you, bracing you. You balanced now, one hand gripping your sword, the other pressed to its back edge, your feet holding you up against the wall, your body almost completely horizontal. The girl continued to press up against you, fighting you viciously. You abruptly let your feet drop, sliding down past her, feeling her jerk her sword up past where you had been in surprise. You fell flat against the wall, landing your foot on hers where you had cut her earlier. She leapt back and away in pain.
Suddenly, the other man was on you—but too slow. Your daikatana was already up and in place to receive his sword, reflect it away, and gouge into his side. Blood ran down the blade as his flesh rent apart. He rolled away, receiving the force from the blow and sliding off the blade. He clutched at his side as he went down, still silent, never uttering so much as a whimper. Your attention was on him too long. Not good. Where was the girl? Over where she had—no—by the—no?
Behind you. A footstep. Then at your neck—the blade. A second at the small of your back. She was good.
Your daikatana clattered to the floor. This fight was over.
The Koukyos were pleasant captors. They barely treated you as a prisoner, giving you free roam of the sewers, letting you do as you please, and being perfectly friendly with you. The one thing made clear from the start was that no one went aboveground. You quickly got the sense that many of the Koukyos had once been surface dwellers like yourself, who had been captured one way or another by the sewer lords. The Koukyos served primarily as a safe haven for the poor of Tokyo, the orphans, the children. You shuddered to think that you had once tried to kill them.
As the months dropped off the calendar, you began to feel more and more like you were a part of the Koukyos. You made many friends and impressed the Koukyos with your fighting ability. You also learned why the girl with the short black hair you had fought with had been able to beat you—she was Feija, leader of the Koukyos. She was the best fighter of them and the best tactician. You tried many times to beat her in a fight, but she always managed to get the upper hand. As time went on, the two of you progressed from rivals to friends to lovers. She was American, and had stowed away on a ship to Japan from San Francisco when she was nine.
Almost a year after your induction into the Koukyos, you made an important discovery. You managed to snag the communicator intact from one of the latest batch of troops Pax had sent in, and the Koukyo techies set to work on it. They quickly began to use it to listen in on Pax communications, and discovered the horrific truth: Pax was intent on wiping out the Koukyos so they could safely use the sewers as a massive chemical weapons laboratory. The techies traced the information all the way back to the president of Pax, Benedict-san. You and Feija both agreed something had to be done, and now was the time to do it. The ranks of the Koukyos had swollen dramatically in the last few months due to the sheer volume of wayward teens Pax was sending in to try to fight them. The tech crew had managed to steal plans for the Pax headquarters, as well as Benedict’s schedule. He had an important meeting with some executives from a rival organization planned, so you decided to attack then, when he was guaranteed to be in the building.
The strike team would consist of Feija, yourself, and twenty hand-picked fighters. Fifty more Koukyos would run cover, striking at various other Pax targets and drawing attention. A further five techies would be working from a scouted-out position directly beneath Pax HQ, coordinating the attack.
Everything went just according to plan. The Koukyos casually strode in the front door, swords and guns concealed beneath black trench coats. Security at the front desk looked up in some alarm as a large group of strange people walked in the front door. Some nicely-timed flickering lights and a handful of grenades made short work of them. As the Koukyos progressed up the building, door after door opened for them, and they found guards in chaos. The techies had done their job well. Most of the team split off as you worked your way up, securing various security checkpoints, elevator shafts, and computer uplinks. A handful of people were injured on the way up, but none life-threateningly. By the time you reached Benedict’s office, it was just you, Feija, and her second-in-command, Fukihito. But that was all you would need—it was just an old man in an office.
The hallway leading to Benedict’s office was eerily quiet. Two guards waited behind a desk a hundred feet from the door—two quick shots from Feija’s pistol eliminated them—but not quite fast enough. One of them managed to get off a shot that took Fukihito in the shoulder. He dropped with the pain, clutching at his shoulder. You cursed. You and Feija would have to take Benedict alone.
A quick scan of the computers told that Benedict remained uniformed of the chaos in his building, due to strict orders not to be interrupted. This must be a very important meeting. As you stepped up to the door, a tingle went down your spine. Something didn’t feel right. You looked at Feija. She grinned crazily back at you.
“I love you.”
“I love you too. Let’s finish this.”
You drew your daikatana slowly, and raised it over your head. The sight that met your eyes when you brought the blade down was not what you expected. You had assumed you would see Benedict sitting opposite the three executives at his desk on the far side of the large circular office. Instead, you saw Benedict pressed against the massive window by three young men, each holding a shining sword aloft. A strange silver rune hung in the air between the four of them, in no language you could recognize. As the door exploded inwards, the three strange men looked up, their concentration broken for a half-second. And, apparently that was all the time Benedict needed. He lashed out with one colossal fist, sending the three men flying. All three hit the ground and skidded along the thinly carpeted floor as the floating rune dissipated. Feija’s gun was up and firing by the time Benedict’s gaze turned to you.
Your thoughts were still elsewhere. What the hell had you just seen!? Magic!? Impossible! But you’d have to figure it out later—Benedict was charging, inhumanly fast. Feija’s gunshots ricocheted harmlessly off Benedict. Another oddity. Feija was using a high-power pistol, and there certainly wasn’t body armor on Benedict’s face. You tried to bring your daikatana between your lover and your nemesis but he was far too fast. You felt like you could see the air rippling aside as Benedict passed through it, shrugging off bullets like they were insects. He smashed into Feija, sending her flying back out the door. You glanced back to her. She had struck the wall of the hallway and slid down it, instantly unconscious.
That bastard! That bastard!
“KISAMA!” you yelled, pulling your daikatana up. Benedict stood before you, at the doorway. You took the three steps to him and swung with all your might. He caught the blade casually in one hand, and then clenched his fist. The blade shattered. You threw yourself instinctively backwards, rolling to avoid the flying shards of steel. That was impossible. No one could break a daikatana with their bare hands. You came up just in time to see one of those bare hands heading for you. You had just enough time to maneuver to catch the blow and ride it. You flew across the office, managing to skid to a landing just beside Benedict’s desk. Benedict took a moment to dust a chunk of steel off of his otherwise-immaculate gray suit, then rushed at you again. This time you were expecting the attack. You jumped backwards onto the desk, and then vaulted forward, clear over Benedict’s bald head. Benedict’s momentum carried him clear past the desk before he halted himself and turned to face you.
You concentrated a moment, eyes closed. You knew what to do. Somehow, you knew. Your eyes snapped open and you ran towards Benedict. As you did so, you clenched your hands, gripping an imaginary sword that was immediately no longer imaginary. You drew your longsword up, pleased by the shocked expression this drew from Benedict. You leapt up onto the table, then threw yourself down at Benedict, bringing the sword down at his neck. The clearly more-than-human executive caught the blade mere inches from his throat, which was covered with perspiration. You felt all your anger at him welling up in your palms, all your love for Feija and your fury at anyone who hurt him, flowing up through you into the blade. It glowed even brighter and extended, becoming your daikatana. A daikatana a foot longer than the blade a moment before. A daikatana squarely through Benedict’s throat.
He choked, spluttered, and threw you away with all his force. You sailed through the air, and as you did, channeled your anger into a ball of concentrated force between your palms. Time seemed to slow as the energy coalesced into being in your hands. You directed the energy towards Benedict’s form, bent over by the window, blade still through his neck. A blast of white light flew from your hands, propelling you further backwards and smashing Benedict clear through the massive glass window. Your last thought before you hit the wall was the pleasing idea that Benedict was now falling fifty-six stories towards Tokyo. Then, blackness.
You were shaken awake not too long later by one of the strange men. He tried to introduce himself, but you heard none of it. Your immediate thought was for Feija. Where was she? Was she alright? Had she—
You saw her. You saw her crumpled form lying by the door and knew.
The truth was like a blow to the gut. It was agony. Why were you alive when she was not? Because you weren’t fast enough. If you had caught Benedict, deflected him, somehow stopped him, you could’ve saved her. If you had just trusted that feeling when you were going in and made her stay behind—Oh, god. It was all your fault. It had to be. You barely heard as the three men explained that they were Knights, who had come to defeat and seal Benedict, who apparently was an immortal called a Gardenborne. They told you that while your actions had been amazing and incredibly brave, Benedict was far from dead. He would come for you. That was fine by you. You would make him suffer for an eternity for what he did to Feija.
The knights took you to a school for magic in America. Looked like all the English training finally would be useful. You’re fairly quiet these days, and secretly look forward to the day that Benedict shows up so that you can fight him again. You’ve been training incredibly hard for the day, and have thus made few friends. You get along well with both Juggernaut and Saber, though.