X = Y
Phobias. Traumas. One that leads to the other, the other developed by one.
Phobias. Irrational fears, created by misunderstandings, horrors of the unknown. A defensive mechanism geared to protect, averting perceived infliction, distinctive to each eye. Machinations of the mind, shielding it. Attenuated only through assimilation.
Traumas. Vivid images, imprinted into memory, from experiences desiring omittance. Waning with time, instantaneously rising back to prominence if remembered, triggered by relating thoughts or scenery about the cause. A reaction to pain, yet consequential, tipping the scales of life, unnecessarily fatal.
Master Hiroaki Shibakawa and Takashi Bizen had made it to the Dojo that hid the Subterranean. In it, they found Shuzo Hokura, the Master of Jiu-Jitsu, sitting down. Alerted by their presence, he stood up and walked towards both of them. He realised that there was a wisp of solicitude radiating from them.
"Hiroaki? What are you doing here?" A faint feeling of awe shook Shuzo's entire body briefly before settling.
"The Elders and the other Masters must know of this. Come with me. Do you know who else is here?" Hiroaki said, portraying a stolid visage.
"No? What happened? Can I get an explanation?" Shuzo was beginning to panic slightly. His anticipation from the lack of information he could gather elevated his anxiety.
At the Shibakawa Dojo of Taekwondo, Rei and the other students stood in front of a grave they built. Large stones covered mounds of dirt protruding from the floor, and each was a grave with a deceased student. All the students who stood behind Rei were mourning the loss of a fellow friend. They knew each other as a family; they had each other's back, they were all reliable.
All the students wanted to put a face on deep down. Unable to identify the body, the students were unmoved by the loss; however, they were disheartened sincerely by the death of someone close. One of the students approached Rei with his eyes fixated on the grave.
"What do we do now, Rei? Are we going to be safe?" the student spoke apprehensively, his lips shaking.
"I don't know. Master Shibakawa went to the Elders. He'll be back in a couple of days. Listen, everyone. We'll protect each other from this thing. It called itself a monster, but a monster wouldn't kill like this. A monster wouldn't have left the body and torched only the surface. A monster wouldn't have left behind its trail." With great conviction, Rei inspired the rest of the students.
"Yeah! Let's do this." The students reciprocated the bravery Rei displayed to them.
In the Subterranean, Shuzo and Hiroaki were running down the stone steps. Takashi was following behind them, and they entered the open arena. They ran as quickly as they could to the box above the ring. The guards, who recognised the Masters, let them pass.
"I'm surprised whatever did that didn't kill you whilst you were travelling here," Shuzo spoke in a surprised manner.
"Yeah, well, we only had water to drink. We haven't eaten a single morsel in a day and a half. We'd be dead either way. That thing ran somewhere else."
Hiroaki spoke with his lips parched, begging for water. They opened the door to the box and startled the seven Elders who sat there. They had a clear view of the entire arena.
"What's this? Why have you barged in without permission? What reason must you have to do such a thing?" said the Elder of Karate, Yoshiaki Katsukawa.
Hiroaki lifted the piece of paper with the words written on it by the killer. The pupils of the Elders dilated. They were astonished by such a message, and Hiroaki's words made their ears ring with terror. Ginji Furutoku, the Elder of Kendo, began to quiver. He placed his hand on his face to cover the shock.
"It's my fault...I cannot believe it..."
"What's your fault? What are you talking about?" Teruaki Ueonhara, the Elder of Jiu-Jitsu, said with a tone edging closer to impermanent anger.
"I created him...The boy you told me to kill...he's here..." Ginji violently quivered, beginning to remember many things.
Within his mind, he could see a young boy wearing dirty clothes near the Subterranean Dojo, lying there on the street. He remembered him walking with a stuffed teddy bear, ripped in half. With a baren gaze, the boy sat there whilst Ginji walked up to him. The memory began to crack as a new one replaced it. The boy was smiling inside of another Dojo that Ginji owned. The feeling of tenderness, which shrouded Ginji, was a sensation unknown to him.
That memory shattered ominously into reality, where that boy who grew up from a child into a martial artist fought his opponents ruthlessly. Blood dripped from his fists as he stood with a potent smile, backed by the intent of murder and elation. That memory was broken and shattered like glass, and the cracks released blood that promptly dripped down.
In the real world, Ginji was sweating substantially. His heart raced faster at the sheer thought of the boy. He collapsed on the floor, and his eyes were wide open, with his pupils dilated extensively.
"Elder!" Shuzo exclaimed. All the Elders stood up. Hiroaki and Shuzo ran towards him.
"Hey! Ginji! Hey!" said Yusakuro Osuga, the Elder of Judo.
The Elders gathered around Ginji, who they tried to resuscitate, to some degree, by Hiroaki and Shuzo. They had him rest on the floor with his head up. Clammy sweat formed on his forehead. His pulse was unstable and began to trigger his muscles to convulse.
"Get the medical staff. He's going to enter a state of vegetation if we don't regulate his heartbeat! Go, Takashi!"
Hiroaki ordered Takashi firmly. He could do nothing but swallow the terror he felt. He ran away to alert the guards, with his heartbeat slowly increasing and panic creeping into his system.
The atmosphere became diluted with silence. When that subsided, suspense powerful enough to crush a person's shoulders replaced the absence of silence. The vehement feelings each Elder felt surged through themselves like lightning striking a person twice. To be that unlucky was an understatement, they all thought to themselves.
A man wearing a white lab coat and a woman wearing a complete white uniform entered the room. Another man and woman came in with a trolley, wearing the same uniform. They also had large medical bags with equipment and a defibrillator. Takashi waited at the door to see the events play out.
"Bring Elder Furutoku on the trolley. Check his vitals, stat! Make sure he can breathe!" The doctor said as they placed cups on the Elder's chest that was attached to the machine. Placing a blue foam strap around his arm, they move him warily onto the trolley.
"What made Elder Furutoku collapse like that?" The doctor, who had worry written across his face, frantically spoke.
"Fascinating...Interesting...the thought of a person can do that to him. I assume it's a person...but..." Within his regular expression, Hiraoki's face became devoid of emotion. He was propelled into a moment of thought, as the scenario had taken him over entirely.
"This is much worse than what I had initially thought. At this juncture in time, we cannot act. Doing so would cause mass hysteria to ensue. Do not let anyone know of this." The Elder of Boxing, Shigehisha Miyokawa, spoke firmly.
"Understood, Elder. But we cannot let that thing go around killing our students. They are our responsibility. We dedicate our time to them, and in doing so, we want the best for them. Blood, sweat, tears, emotions, heart. That is what we do for them." Shuzo added.
"You do not know the threat, but we do. There isn't much more we can say. Now leave. You have already caused enough of a commotion. If you wish to identify the boy Ginji created, then call him the ruler, not the monster." Elder Kenshi Sabakawa spoke grouchily.
When Hiroaki, Shuzo and Takashi left, members of the audience were staring at them. Mostly, those who came to watch, but a majority were students themselves. Displeased with the situation, they left in silence.
"Why are they hiding him so much from us? We already know that Elder Furutoku created something he had to kill, but is that it?" Shuzo thought to himself. "Damn the Elders! In a situation like this, creating allies is far better than creating enemies! Anyone would know that."
The season of spring entered its final month. Wednesday the 3rd of May, 2017. Rei was outside of the Taekwondo Dojo. He was facing it with a distant smile. His tumultuous thoughts warped the disdained relief he should feel from making progress with his life. However, all he could think of was the maligned, precarious situation he brought upon everyone.
Master Shibakawa and some of the students sat there, and some stood watching him depart. The others were inside contemplating the charred body which they buried and the entity which threatened their lives.
"This is goodbye, for now, everyone. I'll try and visit someday! I'm sorry I couldn't do anything about him. This is how my life is. I visit a Dojo, learn the Martial Arts Style that it has, and then leave. Ever since I found out I could do it I just did it without thinking." Rei said with a smile of assurance. "If you see me out in the world, say hi!"
Bereft of any sadness, Takashi and Hiroaki weakly smiled. It did not last long as they were overcome with inordinate melancholy, accompanied by a wave of sorrow. They did not speak, but instead, they gestured with their hands a silent goodbye. Rei smiled once more as he turned around and walked away. There, he met with Zanroke Ebaruwo, a student of Muay Thai, which he fought at the arena with the other students that ambushed him.
"Hey, Rei. Long time no see-" He spoke, but the drought of sound caused by an absence of noise in the air silenced him. He read the situation clearly, but the atmosphere felt so dense to breathe in, and he could not comprehend why. Drained of his buoyant demeanour, he could only turn around to witness Rei passing him.
The dolour which emanated from Rei's body into the atmosphere startled Zanroke. Each step Rei took felt heavier, his arms began to tire, and his body began to cripple under pressure. He felt his head squeezing against his skull while the burden on his heart increased.
Thus, for the next three years of his life, Rei's world ran on repeat. With the intelligence he possessed and the strength within him, he knew he could learn all the fighting styles within his grasp. However, Rei knew no matter how far he ran, and no matter what he learnt, a looming threat was imposing itself onto him, and the people he dragged into his life would meet the same fate he did if he did not act.
As for Kei, he continued to pursue his goal of becoming a detective, attempting to alleviate the burden on his brother's shoulders and the regret he felt for being incapable in that ruinous situation years ago.
Both brothers had the same goal of decimating every gang to find the one who destroyed their lives. A story about the head of a dog chasing its tail has only just begun.