Chapter 15:

Events Happen Seeking Approval

X = Y

A couple of days later, at the shooting range after his first day as a junior detective, Kei held a gun for the first time. He examined it clearly and pretended to load it. He pulled it back and pressed the trigger. Watching the mechanism snap and create a sound, inspiring awe that enraptured him. There were targets made of wood and a barrier that prevented people from walking into the firing range. Officer Sukiga was present behind Kei, both wearing casual clothes.Bookmark here

"Look at how I hold the gun. Put your dominant hand as high as you can on the grip. Never put your hand on the barrel, or you'll injure yourself. Now, put your bottom three fingers over the grip. Put your thumb below the barrel but not on it. Do not cover the barrel lock either. Now straighten your index finger on your dominant hand and place it on the gun so it's parallel to the barrel. Understood?" Officer Sukiga said whilst watching Kei.Bookmark here

"Is this okay?" Kei said whilst twisting his hand around to see his grip. He looked back at Officer Sukiga's hand, who rotated his wrist to show him.Bookmark here

"That looks pretty good. Use as much of the grip as possible. It gives you a better firing stance. Leave no gaps between your fingers. Now, with your non-firing hand, rotate it down so that your thumb is parallel to the barrel. Yet again, do not put any fingers on it. Wrap the rest of your fingers around the trigger so that they hold firmly onto your other fingers. You can rest your dominant thumb on your other hand." the Officer added.Bookmark here

"Oh like this? Can I start shooting now?" Kei said with a weird smile on his face.Bookmark here

"Yes. Give it a try. But don't be stupid with it. Just follow me." Officer Sukiga responded with a smile. "You are responsible now. Whoever you point that gun to, remember who you are and what you're doing. Do not hesitate. Think it through. Now let's go."Bookmark here

Officer Sukiga was firing his rounds with both hands. He hit all the targets perfectly. It was Kei's turn, and he was standing there with his hands firm. Officer Sukiga stood beside him, and he put his hands over Kei's.Bookmark here

"The gun has a bit of recoil. Move your fingers down a bit. You're going to scrape your fingers and hurt them." Officer Sukiga added.Bookmark here

Kei pressed the trigger once and had one eye closed, firing the gun. He was amazed by the force it created. He stared at it and continued to fire.Bookmark here

"Use both eyes, not one eye. That stuff just happens in movies to make you look cool. Look down the barrel and use it as a guide." Officer Sukiga added with a smile.Bookmark here

BANG! BANG! BANG! TING!Bookmark here

Kei hit the targets, then his aim began to dwindle, hitting the protective metal wall at the back, missing the remaining targets. He was out of ammo, and he started clicking the trigger, but only an irritating clicking sound played.Bookmark here

"Your aim is going to get better. Don't worry about that. Now, look at how you would reload a gun." Officer Sukiga brought out his gun. "Remove your non-firing hand and press the magazine release button underneath the trigger with your firing hand. Put your free hand underneath the magazine and catch it. Trying to act cool will only make you lose it."Bookmark here

CLICK!Bookmark here

"Now put the magazine away, and then use your non-firing hand to drag back the barrel to clear it."Bookmark here

TCH!Bookmark here

"You'll see that any bullets loaded will fly out the ejection point. Catching it in mid-air or covering that point with your hand will injure you, or things may turn bad. Get a new magazine, shove it in and pull back the barrel again. Done! Did you get that?" Officer Sukiga questioned.Bookmark here

In an instant, Kei did it all in one swift manoeuvre. Officer Sukiga was wildly confused. His pupils widened, and his jaw dropped slightly.Bookmark here

"I saw people doing this online. I was practising, ready for the day. I should have told you earlier. The only part I'm not used to is shooting the gun. But thanks for the pointers, Officer!" Kei said with a smile.Bookmark here

"This kid is a bag full of surprises. You don't know what he can do, and you don't care until he makes you care." Officer Sukiga thought to himself.Bookmark here

Thursday the 5th of October, 2017. Through shadowing the detective and improving his aim, Kei began to integrate crimes with the police department. He felt more like a detective, and everyone grew accustomed to his presence. At the shooting range, close to the police department, Kei was shooting targets with near-perfect precision. He quickly reloaded and pulled the barrel back, firing the gun. He then switched on the barrel lock and placed the gun on his waist.Bookmark here

"You missed a target." Officer Sukiga said before laughing.Bookmark here

"I did! I still need to work on my aim. I still need to improve my martial arts too. I have such a long way to go. I'm not the sporting type of person." Kei said with concern and mild disappointment.Bookmark here

"It's fine, Kei. I didn't mean to bring it up like that. Let's get back to the precinct." Officer Sukiga said.Bookmark here

"Can you drop me off back home? I have some friends that are meeting me." Kei said.Bookmark here

"Oh, yeah. This is your day off after all." Sukiga said, accepting Kei's request.Bookmark here

He walked away from the firing range and put his gun away. Kei did the same and walked beside him. They entered the unmarked police car, and Kei left to go to his house.Bookmark here

"Goodbye, officer," Kei said.Bookmark here

Sukiga nodded his head, and Kei walked to the front door. He took the keys out of his pocket and unlocked the door. His adoptive mother, Urika Rakashi, peered out of the kitchen with only her head visible to Kei.Bookmark here

"Kei! You're home! Kanda and Meya are upstairs. They're waiting for you." She added with a smile.Bookmark here

"Are they in my room?" Kei responded.Bookmark here

"No. I told them to wait in mine. Oh! There's also food for you in your room. Kanda and Meya also have a share!" Urika exclaimed.Bookmark here

"Oh. Thank you for the food, mother." Kei said with a kind voice.Bookmark here

He walked upstairs to find Kanda and Maya sitting in his room. Kei was surprised as Kanda and Meya were eating their share of the food.Bookmark here

"Hello, Kei! We got hungry, but we promise we didn't go around looking at your stuff." Meya said.Bookmark here

"Hello. Don't worry about it. The stuff in this room isn't mine. Not all of it anyway. This is the first time you two have been in this house without me, right?" said Kei.Bookmark here

He sat on his desk chair as the other two were sitting on his bed.Bookmark here

"Did you get into the university you wanted? How did the interview go? Are there any entrance exams?" Kanda inquired, pondering about the possibilities.Bookmark here

"I think I passed the entrance exam. It was a test about biology and law. I didn't get an interview date yet, but it's looking pretty good so far. There's something I wanted to ask both of you." Kei said with hesitation and embarrassment.Bookmark here

"What is it?" Meya responded.Bookmark here

"I wanted to go to the local news station or to a journalist to see if they could create a broadcast for me. I've been saving up money from the detective job. I want to have a funeral for my parents. I want Rei to be there, but I don't know where he is. This is the best way of getting to him." Kei said. He smiled and scoffed. "I know it sounds so stupid. We should forget it."Bookmark here

"We haven't even tried yet," Kanda said. "We could always ask. There's no harm in that. I know where the local news station is. I could try and get into contact with a bigger distributor."Bookmark here

"Wait! You can do that?!" Kei said in shock.Bookmark here

"It's not that hard. We can go there and ask them. Your story is still big in this town. We're going now, otherwise, you would never do it. Come on." Kanda stood up and began walking to the door.Bookmark here

"Are you okay with it, Kei?" Meya spoke sympathetically.Bookmark here

"Yeah. Kanda's right. I need to first book the funeral date...Hehe..." Kei spoke with a smile but still doubted Kanda's proposal. "I could try asking my adoptive parents, but I don't want to disturb them. I could invite them...Everyone at school would probably be at the funeral and my parents would need to be there. They're going to find out."Bookmark here

Kei let out a gargantaun sigh.Bookmark here

"Let me ask them then." Kei added reluctantly.Bookmark here

Unbeknownst to him, Rei was having the most arduous battle of his life. At this moment, his fragmented memories of the trauma that succeeded the death of his parents — the burgeoning whirlwind of flames that scorched his vision — blasted themselves into his head prominently.Bookmark here

In the Dojo of Muay Thai, bruised to his very core, Rei was breathing heavily. Sweat dripped down his forehead, but his anger only perpetuated. He was wearing black shorts lined with gold, and a black sleeveless shirt, with no shoes. His opponent was the Master of Muay Thai, Yasuhiro Taba. He was wearing the same shorts as Rei but without a top. He was partially injured, but he stood firm, laughing maniacally and bringing his arms out, posing purportedly unleashing more power.Bookmark here

"If you die here, then you'll never graduate, Rei!" The Master had the eyes of a psychopath who sought out the blood of a human, like a vampire. His grin was huge like a mountain's peak overlooking the mere mortals which stood no chance to usurp his power.Bookmark here

"Kill me! That's when I'll let you go!" With the instinct of a killer, his aura spread through Rei. It took the form of a person which, at the sight of it, could puncture a heart indisputably.Bookmark here

"How is Rei supposed to beat you...Master." Zanroke spoke with a defeated voice and eyes conquered by inevitable destruction. His demeanour furiously spiralled into a frenzy of panic. "No one's defeated you as far as I know...Not once since you became the Master of this Dojo..."Bookmark here

"Wrong! I have been beaten before by the one Rei called his first Master! I want to see it again! The power of Seijiro in you! Show it to me, student of Kendo!" he exclaimed, grinning heavily without showing an inch of sympathy.Bookmark here

"Leave it, Zanroke. That's what I get for trying to leave this Dojo early. I was thinking long and hard about it. I have something that I need to do, and he's standing in the way. But at the same time, I need Master Taba's help. That thing is coming after us, and I need to stop it before I leave. I'm going to have to deal with people like him eventually, so I might as well get used to it." Rei spoke with murderous intent, but he slowly recomposed himself and smiled.Bookmark here

Rei dashed in with unparalleled speed, even startling Yasuhiro. His Eternal Rule was active, and it forced Yasuhiro on the back foot. Rei went in for a Mat Neung (Jab), followed immediately by a Mat Soi Dao (Uppercut Punch). Yasuhiro blocked with his arms up whilst his fists protected his face.Bookmark here

Rei jumped back as Yasuhiro went for a Jab himself, which Rei dodged. Rei performed a Kradot Chok (Superman Punch), but he missed Yasuhiro, who dodged swiftly and countered with a Thip Trong (Straight Foot Jab). Rei read his movements and pulled up his right leg to perform a Shin Block. Rei kicked his leg away using a Te Kot (Downard Roundhouse Kick), knocking Yasuhiro off balance. He then followed through and succeeded with a Sok Phong (Front Elbow Strike), but sideways.Bookmark here

He connected emphatically with Yasuhiro's chest, which decimated his lungs, forcing him to take an extra second to recover. Within that moment, Rei performed a Sok Klap (Spinning Back Elbow Strike) superbly. Crushed like stones cracked by god's will, Yasuhiro's heart palpitated when Rei's elbow concaved his chest inwards. Not being able to think for himself, Yasuhiro fell suddenly to his knees, defeated but proud. Lifeless and desolate, his eyes bore no emotions, yet his face was an amalgamation of them.Bookmark here

Graceful and angelic, Rei's movement caused the students to instantly realise that he was on a podium whilst they remained on the ground — only to gaze with admiration and indomitable respect. Like a ruler who seized his treasures without approval, he claimed his victory wholeheartedly.Bookmark here

"Master Taba. Remember my name. Rei Hirojima. Son of Kouma Hirojima and Hana Hirojima. Brother to Kei Hirojima. One of the last warriors bearing the name of the Hirojima family." He said with bloodshot eyes and unyielding anger. He pointed to the body of his Master, who remain slouched and kneeling.Bookmark here

"Rei...did you kill the Master?" Zanroke said with a degree of concern equivalent to a river crashing into rocks.Bookmark here

Sinister cackling came from the slumped body of Yasuhiro. It became louder and louder as he lifted his head and covered his face with his hands. He dragged them down beside him and stood up slowly, using only his feet. He was in a state far beyond hysteria.Bookmark here

"Remain here, Rei! I can see it now!" He cackled like a demon. "I can make you stronger and give you what you need. Just a bit more time and it will be done!"Bookmark here

"I was going to stay anyway, Master. Thank you for everything you've done. I wasn't using everything you had taught me. I am sorry for that. I am the loser here." Rei said despondently.Bookmark here

Kei surprised everyone in the Dojo, especially his Master. Yasuhiro's mood dropped from ecstasy to sadness.Bookmark here

"What are you saying, Rei? You won this fight!" His mood changed again, but this time he smiled eerily. "Continue to practice, and you will not feel like that!" the Master exclaimed, trying to encourage Rei.Bookmark here

Tuesday the 10th of October, 2017. Akira Rakashi, his adoptive father. Urika Rakashi, his adoptive mother. Nozomi Maraki, the mother of Akira and his grandmother. Meya Sonui and Kanda Haru, his childhood friends. They all sit in front of the television, beside Kei, to watch the news.Bookmark here

"Now, for a different segment of the news. About two years ago, when their house burnt down, two boys were left stranded, losing their parents. They were twins, and one of them disappeared the night after. We speak to Kei Hirojima along with his friends Meya and Kanda. With their parents funeral set for the 21st of October 2017, this is what they wish to say."Bookmark here

They saw themselves speak with a segment dedicated to Rei. They were sitting down in front of a camera.Bookmark here

"If you see this, Rei, then I've been working hard. I have so many things to tell you! So much has happened. But I've booked the day of our mother and father's funeral. I want you to be there. Wherever you are...please be there. It's on the 21st of October 2017, at 10:30 AM." said Kei with a kind smile.Bookmark here

"We'll be there too, Rei. So will the class and maybe the rest of the school. We can see you again if you're there." Meya said.Bookmark here

"That's all we have to say," Kanda said.Bookmark here

Now in real-time, after they recorded that segment.Bookmark here

"Wasn't there more we have to say-" Meya realised instantly.Bookmark here

"Meya. Look at Kei! Hey! Kei" Kanda jumped out of his seat with concern and terror as he held up Kei, who began to lose control of himself. His eyes violently jostled whilst his muscles began to spasm. He collapsed onto the floor.Bookmark here

"Kei! No! Someone, get help!" Meya exclaimed.Bookmark here

"Hey! Get the on set medical team now! The kid's in shock!" The director behind the camera said. "Cut the rest of the cameras and stop filming! The first part is enough!"Bookmark here

The medical team came in to help Kei.Bookmark here

Within Kei's mind, the trauma played on repeat. Like the eternal breath of life that flew through the wind, even after death. The anxiety he felt was ruthless. The emptiness inside kept his stomach spinning. The sweat from his forehead shimmered, and his eyes were all but blurry. All he could think about was the fire that engulfed his house. The thought of Rei turned his heart upside down, and his mind began overcompensating for the loss he felt.Bookmark here

The mesh of sounds around him was unintelligible. Lines between the noises played by his mind, to the voices in the real world, were blurred. Murmurs, whispers, and vocal cords vigorously shaking were the only things he could hear.Bookmark here

Now, back at the house. Everyone stared at Kei to ensure he did not have another seizure. He looked down at the floor, and tears fell from his eyes. He covered his face and screamed as loud as he could, but he became deafened by the void left in the wake of the gang who took his brother away.Bookmark here

Saturday the 21st of October, 2017. A dark, dreary day. The sky became enveloped with clouds. A minute amount of sunlight passed through them, leaving darkness to shroud the world. Enough that the day did not seem like night. Rain was on the horizon, and the forecast predicted thunderstorms.Bookmark here

Kei's trauma did not end there. He stood at the forefront of the funeral. Two graves embedded into the ground like jewels, whose only desire was to be cherished and loved by the world. They wished never to be forgotten, nor stolen, from the hearts and minds of people.Bookmark here

With tears falling briskly down his face, Kei's memories fragmented once more. His brother, who was not present, now fuelled his despair. Hopes and dreams that his brother would return, pulverised by the haze of cruelty, evanesced.Bookmark here

"It was just a small dream! Why couldn't it of happened?! Why..." He thought to himself.Bookmark here

The gang that he thought about fuelled his incessant hatred. Kei's class, who had been with him since his first year, stood behind him, whilst Meya and Kanda stood between them and Kei. His adoptive parents were there, but they did not know what to say.Bookmark here

The principal, vice-principal, and teachers were there to witness the worst atrocity the world had to offer. The breakdown of their student, and the mere shell he became, with his innards of humanity ripped out, were unbearable for them to remain attentive over. They looked away, incapable of fathoming the raw emotional haemorrhaging Kei was going through.Bookmark here

They turned their sight, now unable to be influenced by the swarm of negativity, which radiated from the funeral.Bookmark here

Thus, Kei Hirojima broke again but was reborn anew. With wilder emotions and more reason to fight, Kei looked towards the dismal future ahead, abhorring the past that lay ruin to his life. With substantial resolution in his life and a more adamant attitude, Kei set sail on a voyage to sink the largest ship in his life. One that would test him down to his very being and strip him of his humanity if he did not remember what was pivotal to his life.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.