Chapter 9:

Chapter 6: Under One Wing

Flight of The Blackbird

“Oi!” I shouted at the fat man with the knife. “Leave her alone! Fight me instead!”

The guy turned around with an annoyed look. “Stay out of this,” He snarled back at me, “This has nothing to do with you.”

“Like hell it does!”

I shot my wire across the alley and it wrapped around the knife. The knife clattered to the ground next to the girl, who kicked it away in fear. The dirtbag froze, obviously caught off-guard.

Thanks, random lady. That makes my job easier.

Using my wire as a whip, I snapped it into the man’s stomach, which knocked him off his feet. I threw the knife in my hand at him, and it pierced his arm. He howled in agony, his pudgy face slick with sweat. Blood dripped from the hole in his arm onto his shirt. I approached the man menacingly and tore the knife from his arm. He howled again as I did so, but I paid it no mind. The girl behind me, who was still on the ground with her back pressed up against the wall, gasped at my ruthlessness.

I’m doing this for your sake, don’t get too scared.

I returned the knife to the sheathe inside my sleeve and looked down at the sad excuse of a man. My eyes gleamed in the moonlight, likely making me look like the devil himself.

“W-wait… you’re that guy… the Blackbird! You work for the Nest! Spare me!”

Another gasp escaped the mouth of the girl behind me, but my focus was elsewhere.

“Oh, you’ve heard of me? Don’t worry, I won’t kill you, fat-ass.”

He drooled on himself as he thanked me profusely. It was honestly disgusting. Preparing to ruin someone’s life then immediately begging for their own.

Disgraceful. He’s not even worth the bullet… or the effort.

I had a certain hate for people who mindlessly hurt others. I’m no saint, I bathe in the blood of bad men, but I do it for a reason, to help this world and to avenge my wrongly murdered parents. People like this filth were in it for nobody but themselves.

Possibly to take my anger out on something, I sent a kick directly into his skull. His head popped up and shook like a bobblehead, then went limp. He was unconscious, but not dead.


I turned to the girl, who was still on the ground with her back still against the wall. She looked up at me, eyes full of fear. I flicked the lighter in my finger, but I couldn’t see her too well. I could, however, tell that she was very pretty, with wavy, shoulder-length brown hair and green eyes that flickered with the fire.

I shook my head after a few seconds of staring like I’d never seen a female before. I offered her my other hand, which after a few moments she hesitantly took.

“A-Are you alright, ma’am?” I asked shakily.

Damn, one of the most dangerous people in Genesis and I can’t talk to a girl.

“Y-yes, I am… Thank you…” She started to say, but stopped short and looked at me.

I (thankfully) took the hint only a few seconds later.

“Ah… My name's Reiji.”

“Alright, then thank you Reiji.”

“No problem… Just be careful. People like that are everywhere in this city,” I warned.

“Y-yeah. Hey,” her eyes began to glimmer with a hint of excitement, “How did you get him to drop that knife?”

“Ah, with these.”

I slid a bit of each wire out of my wrists. She stared at them as they came out, so I flicked the unsharpened one at a nearby fire escape and lifted myself up a few feet, then dropped back down onto my feet. She looked from me to the wires, then back to me in amazement.

“What are those wires made of?” She asked excitedly, all of her nervousness gone.

“They mix woven steel with muscle fibers, so they’re extremely durable, but also light and flexible. This one can be used to get around and this one is extremely sharp. They come in handy.”

I assumed that she had heard the fat man’s babbling, so I didn’t really need to hide what I was. I then thought of something. I looked back up at the girl and started speaking.

“If you go down the alley and turn right, there’s a restaurant a few hundred meters down the road called Benny’s. If you want, you should go there. I’ll be back in a minute, I just need to do something.”

“A-alright. I’ll wait outside the alley, I-I’m not too comfortable walking alone at night anymore after… this.”

I nodded, and she turned her back to me and walked down the alley, then turned out of it.

With her gone, I turned to the man and sent a sharp kick into his side.

“Augh! Wha-” he sputtered.

“Listen up and listen well. If I ever see you again, I’ll pull out your guts and tie them to a streetlight. Also, forget you ever saw me. Now get lost!” I shouted at him.

He picked himself and hobbled off, tears streaming down his face.

Was that maybe a little too harsh?

Nah, he was asking for it.

With that, I went after the girl.


Now back in Benny’s restaurant with the girl, I sat her down at a table and explained what happened. Benny nodded and got her a mug of hot chocolate. He also informed me that Kota and Shiro had both gone home a few minutes after I left. The only people left in the building at this late hour were me, the girl, and Benny’s family.

After the girl had calmed down and could speak completely coherently, she explained what happened to Benny and I. Apparently, she’d been walking home from a convenience store after buying some snacks for her and her mother when the man appeared behind her and led her to an alley. He had planned to rob her, among other things, before I stepped in and knocked him out.

“I shoulda killed him right there,” I growled, to the dismay of both Benny and the girl.

Oh yeah… I haven’t even gotten that girl’s name yet! I should probably ask before it gets too weird.

“Hey… I never asked your name. Don’t really want to refer to you as “that girl” anymore…”

“Ya brought her here without even knowing her name? How bold of ya,” Benny joked slyly.

“You know the circumstances,” I responded, annoyed.

“Yeah yeah, I gotcha kid,” He said in his annoyingly all-knowing voice.

Marie, with perhaps the worst timing of all, came from the kitchen and started ragging on me as well.

“Ah, did our Reiji finally bring home a girl?! He’s finally becoming a man!”

I groaned loudly. “This is not the time for this crap.”

To my surprise, the girl giggled at this like it was the funniest thing in the world. It seemed our half-assed comedy routine helped ease her nerves a bit. Her smile was, in turn, enough to ease my nerves too.

She’s pretty…

Wait no, shut up brain. This isn’t the time!

My inner turmoil ceased when the girl began to speak.

“To answer your question, my name’s Tomoe.”

The girl, whose name I now knew, looked down idly at her watch, before her eyes widened and she attempted to down the hot chocolate. She promptly started coughing which took every bit of my extensive willpower to not laugh at.

Finished choking and red as a tomato, she explained to us that her mom was waiting for her to get home safe. We all nodded understandingly, as it was quite late, and she stood up.

“I can escort you home if you’d like, just to be safe.”

This got an “oooooh” from the peanut gallery, but my death-glare stopped that nonsense real quick.

“I-I’d appreciate that,” she nodded sheepishly, face somehow going even more red.

At that, I stood up from my chair and followed her out the door, waving goodbye to Benny and Marie for a second time.

The walk was fairly quiet, with not many words being exchanged between us. She led me to the residential district of central Genesis, down a few streets, and to what I assumed was her house. She turned to me and smiled.

“Well, this is my stop. Thank you for everything, really,” She began, “You saved me from that man, introduced me to your wonderful family, and protected me even more. Is there anything that I can do to repay you?”

“Just stay safe; make sure what I did wasn’t in vain.”

“O-okay. See you around, Reiji.”

“Y-yeah, it was nice meeting you, Tomoe.”

I turned around and walked down the steps of the house. I glanced back, and she waved to me. I waved back, then made my way out of the neighborhood and back towards my home.


Once back home, my cell phone rang for the second time. Oakman was calling again, and I just assumed it was important, so I picked it up.


“How’re you holding up? I heard you got stuck with a difficult mission today.”

“I’m alright, thank you sir. The mission was completed. The target was dispatched and the victims’ bodies were properly buried.”

“Good. Good work. However, I’m calling for a different reason.”

My eyes widened slightly in surprise.

He rarely gives two missions on the same day… What's going on here?

I let him continue.

“We have your first long-term mission for you,” He began, “A boy named Andy Russell, son of Nicholas Russell, has been connected to some shady business and violent crimes. We don’t have any well established leads yet, so we’d like you to investigate for us, and eliminate him if you deem him a threat.”

Hold on… I know that name. Nicholas Russell, CEO of Russell Weapons Manufacturing Company. The RWMC is the biggest firearm manufacturer in the country. Hell, my Piledriver is one of their designs. And there’s something else about that company… What was it?

My parents... they worked there at the time of their deaths. The job seemed to suck the life force out of them. Maybe there… I’ll finally be able to get some leads on my parents’ murder.

“I’ll take the job.”

“I knew you would. They may have some answers for you. However, this mission will require you to enroll in Central Genesis High School. I have a connection there and we could get you into the same class as Kota and Shiro, but it’ll impede a bit on your training.”

I thought it over for a few seconds. Training is extremely important to me, but vengeance trumps that by a lot. I cleared my throat and spoke.

“That could be interesting. I haven’t gone to a normal school in three years. And it’d give me a reason to see my two best friends more often. I’ll take the mission, and I’ll keep an eye on Russell.”

“Alright. I’ll have your school uniforms and holo-computer sent to you in the morning, as well as a holographic map of the building. I know how prepared you like to be. Good luck, Blackbird.”

“Thank you, sir. Have a good night.”

“You too.”

I hung up the phone and put it on the charging stand in the corner of my room.

It seems I’ll finally be able to make some progress toward vengeance. After five and a half years, things will finally start to work out for me.


The next morning, a Sunday, I headed back to Benny’s. I knew that Kota had a shift that morning, so I was going to ask him a few questions about the school. Specifically, I wanted more information about the building and about Andy Russell. I wanted to make no assumptions about his character before I had first-hand experience and information from others.

The hanging bell dinged as I opened the door. There were only a few people sitting in the various chairs and at the bar ordering coffee. Most of them were old men or families here for a Sunday brunch. The scene was familiar, yet I couldn’t place my finger on it.

Shaking that sideways thought from my head, I walked toward the back where Benny was behind the counter. He waved to me and smiled as I approached, which put my mind at ease. I reached him and cleared my throat.

“Is Kota in yet?” I asked “I’d like to ask him a few questions.”

“Yeah, he just came in a few minutes ago. He’s in the employee break room. What do ya need to talk to him about?”

“Well…” I lowered my voice and got closer to him, “I’m entering their high school for a mission, and I need information on both the building itself and the target.”

“Ah… makes sense. Go talk to him, I’ll fill in for him for a bit,” He whispered back.


I continued walking back until I reached the break room, took a deep breath, and walked in. I’d been in this room a thousand times at least, so the walls covered in lockers and the table and four chairs in the center of the room were nothing new to me. Kota was at the back of the room, looking as cheerful as ever, as he changed into his work uniform. He spotted me and waved obnoxiously until I said “Hi.”

“What are you doing back here? You don’t have a shift, do you?” He asked.

“Nah, I came to ask you a few questions, actually.”

He tilted his head to the right a bit.

“‘Bout what?”

I inhaled once again and began.

“I have a mission. My first long-termer. And it involves me entering your school. I want to know the ins and outs of the building, and I need information on a certain student. Do you, by any chance, know an Andy Russell?”

Just the mention of the name elicited a groan from the usually-cheerful and kind Kota. I assumed right there that he was a pain in the ass.

“Ugh. I hope he’s a target. He’s a huge dickwad to our whole class because he has a bit of money. Nobody but his two flunkies, Jaxon and Armstrong, even tolerate being around him. I’m sure you’ve seen him already if he’s a target, but his stupid face is so punchable, UGH!”

“Irritating douchebag who flaunts his money and has subordinates rather than friends, got it.” I said, as if to check off a list of character traits. “Now what about the building itself? Any secrets? Exits and entries that could be helpful for a guy like me?”

He thought for a moment before snapping his fingers.

“Oh yeah, the lock on the door to the roof is broken, in the right corner of the third floor. Also, in classroom 217, the window is always unlocked, so you could grapple through it with your wire. The room is abandoned so it could serve its purposes.”

“Thanks, I appreciate it.”

“No problem, good luck on your first day tomorrow!” He snickered a bit. “Shiro’s gonna flip out! Maybe she’ll show her cute side a bit.”

“Quit smiling like an old pervert, you’ll spread your perverted mind to me.”

“I am not an old pervert, asshole!”

It was kind of an unspoken ordeal that Kota’s had a crush on Shiro for nearly as long as we’ve all known each other. It’s one of the only things I have to tease him about, so I make sure to do it frequently and as irritatingly as possible.

This playful argument went on with a few more childish insults being tossed around, before Kota realized he actually had to work. He said goodbye and dashed out of the break room and into the eating area. Satisfied with the knowledge I’d gained, I left the restaurant after saying goodbye to everyone.

I spent the rest of the day idly doing chores and running errands. Even an assassin of high caliber like myself still has to eat and live in a clean house. By the time I finished all of the menial, mundane tasks, night had fallen. I had received the package Oakman sent me, which had a school uniform and a holo-map. I set both items on the dresser in my bedroom, then decided that going to bed early was a good idea for once. I had no mission today, so I could sleep and prepare myself for the next day.

Once in bed, I quickly drifted off to sleep, which was in stark contrast with the monotonous sleepless nights I’d been experiencing more and more frequently. Maybe I was excited for the new days ahead of me

Maybe… I…