Chapter 7:

Chapter 4: A New Tree

Flight of The Blackbird


After calming myself down and getting my priorities in check, I left my room. The training hall was my next stop. I wanted to work on my wire control now, seeing as I’d be using them nearly every mission. My swing had hurt my arm a bit, and so I wanted to make sure that I wouldn’t throw my arm out during a mission and get myself killed due to my own foolishness. I was only human, after all.Bookmark here

I pushed the metal double-doors to the training hall open, only to be greeted with it being pitch black.Bookmark here

“I know it’s nighttime by now, but someone ought to keep a damn light on,” I groaned to myself as I flicked the lighter on in my finger to give myself a bit of visibility. The little flame danced on my fingertip like a magic spell. Using its admittedly poor lighting, I groped around for some kind of light switch. My nighttime gear was still in my room, but I didn’t feel like going back to get the night-vision gear and using them for something as stupid as this. Bookmark here

Pap. Pap Pap Pap.Bookmark here

Footsteps!Bookmark here

I slid a bit of wire out of my wrist to use as a makeshift dagger and extinguished the lighter.Bookmark here

Tap Tap Tap.Bookmark here

Two sets, one in front and one behind. Could it be friends of Luke Jones? No.. no way. That was too soon, there’s no way they could have been notified. I burned his body to a crisp. They’d need dental records or something-Bookmark here

While my mind raced at two hundred kilometers per hour, a vial of some gas was tossed at me. Not knowing what it was, I attempted to deflect it, but it shattered as a result of me slashing at it with my wire. The gas blasted out of the broken vial and into my face. The minute it made contact with me, I could feel my head spinning.Bookmark here

“Cheap trick… you bas...tard.”Bookmark here

I was out cold on the training room floor before I even knew what hit me.Bookmark here

***************************Bookmark here

I had been haphazardly tossed in the back of a large vehicle while still unconscious and was cruising down a main road at 130 kilometers per hour. I had a cloth sack over my head and my hands were tied behind my back. Essentially, I was fucked.Bookmark here

I attempted to get myself upright, but to no avail. My legs had also been tied together. Whoever I was dealing with already knew the ejection point of my wires because the duct tape had been placed above the ejectors. Without any hands, I could twist the wire and cut the tape. Bookmark here

Sly bastard.Bookmark here

The car came to a sudden stop and I was pulled out of the back and placed in a chair. The chair evidently had wheels, because I was rolled somewhere, then flipped around and stopped. The bag was pulled off of my face. My eyes, having been in the dark or asleep for a while by then, took a few seconds to adjust to the sudden, glaringly bright light. When I finally regained my vision and looked around, teeth gritted, I thought I was still asleep.Bookmark here

Bookmark here

“Benny? Oakman? Kota? Shiro? Mrs. Bates? What the hell is all this!?” I shouted.Bookmark here

I felt the tape being cut off my arms and legs.Bookmark here

“Congratulations on completing your first mission!” they all shouted in unison.Bookmark here

I blinked.Bookmark here

“...pardon?”Bookmark here

What the fuck is happening here?? I just got kidnapped!Bookmark here

“This was Flamingo’s idea… sorry about that,” Oakman said in an unbefittingly sheepish tone.Bookmark here

And suddenly, everything makes sense.Bookmark here

I calmly grabbed the person standing behind me and flipped them over the chair. Flamingo went flying across the room and landed gracefully on a table. She dropped down from it and stood in front of me, her long, reddish-brown braids flapping as she did.Bookmark here

“Sorry kid, I couldn’t help myself,” she said, snickering all the while.Bookmark here

“Yes you could have! I thought I was about to get tortured!” I shouted at her, fuming.Bookmark here

“Oh relax, you’re fine now, right?”Bookmark here

“This is why nobody will ever marry you.”Bookmark here

This exchange went on for a few more moments, to the delight of everyone else in the room. For some reason, me having been gassed and kidnapped was hilarious. I made a mental note to remember never to trust anyone ever again.Bookmark here

After picking myself up off the chair, Marie came from the back of the restaurant with snack foods and a cake. The sight of the cake seemed to wash away all the anger I had been feeling. Bookmark here

I can finally taste Marie’s baking again! I’d get kidnapped a hundred times for a bite of that cake!Bookmark here

“Compensation for being kidnapped?” I asked.Bookmark here

Everyone seemed to find that funny, even though I was dead serious...Bookmark here

“Well, seeing as you just completed your first solo mission, we figured a bit of a party was in order,” Flamingo explained. Bookmark here

So we’re celebrating me committing a murder. Interesting… I guess.Bookmark here

Everyone grabbed a plate and filled it with homemade snacks. Conversations broke out and the mood became festive quickly. Kota was teasing Shiro, Oakman and Benny were talking about the past, Flamingo was messing with Marie and I, everyone was all smiles. It was in sharp contrast with the rest of my evening. It was almost… peaceful.Bookmark here

Oakman stood up and grabbed a wine glass, then tapped it with a spoon. All eyes in the room were turned toward him. He cleared his throat, then began to speak.Bookmark here

“As you all know, Reiji here completed his first mission today, and with great finesse, might I add. Not only was this his first solo mission, but he was up against a B-rank target. Reiji, being a D-level, should have had considerable difficulty with this mission. However, it was completed in record time and he saved a life while he was at it. In honor of this, I have decided to give him a place of residence. The building he lived in as a child has just gone through renovations and there’s a new fifteenth floor, with only one extra-large room that can double as a base of operations and a home. Congratulations, Blackbird, you’ve truly grown up to be an extraordinary assassin and a wonderful young man.”Bookmark here

A round of applause from each of the nine people in the restaurant broke out. I looked around, not knowing exactly how to react. A smile crept onto my face, and it grew into a wide grin. I thought up a little counter-speech as my face grew hot, so some of the attention was taken off of myself. I stood up and clasped my hand together in front of me, in an attention-like stance.Bookmark here

“Thank you for your kindness, but I can’t accept all of your kind words. Without the help of everyone here, I wouldn’t be the man I am today. Sir, you, Flamingo and Mrs. Bates have taught me so much in how to be an effective assassin. I’ve become smarter, stronger, and more skilled than I’ve ever been thanks to you. Benny, Marie, you took me in when I had nowhere to go and raised me as one of your own sons, something that I’ll never forget as long as I live. My parents are smiling in their graves because of the kindness you have bestowed upon me. Kota, Shiro, John, Alex, you treated me as a friend and a brother in the time I needed it most. I wouldn’t be able to smile the way I can today without all of you. So thank you, all of you.”Bookmark here

When I finished, I realized that all eyes were now on me. Instead of banishing my embarrassment, it only grew tenfold. I sat back down quickly and busied myself with eating. Flamingo, of course, spared no second in ridiculing me for this.Bookmark here

“Can’t kill words can you? You’ll never escape this one,” She snickered at me.Bookmark here

I sighed.Bookmark here

Why did I become friends with that idiot?Bookmark here

When everyone was done with the picky foods, we cut and ate some of the cake, which was delicious as expected. Marie was a baker like no other. Everything she made was destined to be fantastic. Bookmark here

While the cake was being cut, Shiro and Kota came up to me. The notoriously stoic Shiro had a look of confusion on her face.Bookmark here

“What was all of that B-rank D-rank stuff they were talking about?”Bookmark here

“Oh, that’s how we rank targets and assassins. There are six ranks, E-A rank, then S rank. E rank assassins are the newbies, and E rank criminals are people with a low threat-level. S-rank assassins are the best of the best, and S-rank criminals are people like country leaders, should they ever become a threat, who can cause cataclysmic damage or have a whole country backing them. An assassin can only take on a target that is, at the most, two ranks above them. Additionally, Only A-rankers and S-rankers can take on A-rank and S-rank targets. There’s a steep difference between a B-rank and an A-rank, and the same goes for A and S-rank. I’m already a D-rank because I worked as backup for Flamingo and Oakman for a few months before now” I explained.Bookmark here

“Ah… that makes sense,” said Shiro, who returned to her stoicism.Bookmark here

“So you essentially took on the strongest enemy you could have taken on?” Kota asked.Bookmark here

“Yeah, I guess I did. Didn’t seem like that big of a deal when I did it, but it is kind of impressive now that I think about it.”Bookmark here

“Woah, you can practically see his head inflating. Better call a medic, an ego that inflated could be life-threatening,” Kota teased.Bookmark here

******************************Bookmark here

And just like that, the party was over. Benny and Marie began cleaning up the restaurant, Kota and Shiro went home, and Flamingo drove Mrs. Bates back to the training facility, likely to prepare for another new arrival. Oakman told me that all of my stuff had been moved to the apartment already, and he had downloaded the holokey to the reader in my wrist. He then left the restaurant, leaving only me and Benny’s family.Bookmark here

“Congratulations again, kid. What ya achieved today was no small feat. Ya should be proud.”Bookmark here

“Thank you. It’s thanks in part to you, though.”Bookmark here

Benny laughed nervously. “I guess. Don’t sell yourself short though. Yer real strong now. Remember that, But don’t get cocky either, or you’ll get yerself killed.”Bookmark here

“Understood. I’ll do my best. Thanks again.”Bookmark here

“Good luck, kid.”Bookmark here

I turned around and walked out of the restaurant. My old home was only a few miles from here, so I could walk it pretty easily. Bookmark here

I made my way down the road, the neon signs providing ample lighting in the night sky. A night like this made it hard to remember the awful people living in this city. It seems just too beautiful to hold people like that. Bookmark here

I arrived at my destination about an hour after leaving the restaurant. The building was, indeed, a few stories taller.Bookmark here

“Look how big you’ve gotten!” I said, imitating a grandmother seeing her grandson.Bookmark here

The building didn’t respond.Bookmark here

SighBookmark here

I walked through the glass double doors and was instantly assailed by a tidal wave of nostalgia. This was where I lived for the first eleven years of my life. I grew up here. And now, the real reason that it had felt like home was gone. Bookmark here

I went over to the elevator and pushed the “Up” button. It dinged, and a glowing downward-pointing arrow appeared in front of it.Bookmark here

That’s new.Bookmark here

I stepped onto the elevator and went up to the fifteenth floor. Once at my door, I unlocked it with my holokey. Inside was a spacious alcove studio. There was a door leading to the bedroom on the right side of the room. In the main room was a living room with a couch and two chairs, and a television. There was also a full kitchen on the closer side. It was like an extremely large hotel room.Bookmark here

I walked around the apartment, admiring the kitchen and living room. My things were in the bedroom, so I went there next. Bookmark here

In the bedroom, there was a balcony, a queen-sized bed, and a closet, which was full of my clothes and my mission gear, as well as my choice weapons, including throwing knives and normal knives, my two handguns, a Scorpion Evo 3, and an AWM sniper rifle, which were hidden in a secret room behind the racks of clothes. Extra magazines, trick weapons, poisons, and other assassin equipment lined the walls.Bookmark here

“I dub thee, the Closet of Murder.”Bookmark here

I flopped back onto my bed after closing and locking the Closet of Murder. The soft fabric caught me and pulled me in.Bookmark here

A new home, huh? I wonder why it’s here of all places.Bookmark here

Idle thoughts came and went as I drifted off to sleep. The final thing to enter my brain was my parents’ faces.Bookmark here

“I miss you… guys.”Bookmark here

UselessGoddess
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Bookmarked
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