Chapter 17:

Falling Prey

ASA Genesis

With Masashi Kazama having declared that all access to and from the Mid-City would be blocked until my surrender, groups of protestors quickly gathered in the streets in search of me, demanding that I do so. Because of this, I told ASA to access the city directory and remove our family name from the house, but found out that it was already listed as vacant.

We waited a little more than an hour before Chiyo got a call on her phone.

“It’s Ichirou,” she said. “Should I answer it?"

“Yeah,” I said.

Chiyo tapped on the Accept Call button and said, “Hello?”

“Well, that didn’t take long,” I heard Ichirou say.

Chiyo ignored Ichirou and handed the phone to me. “You talk to him,” she said, a look of disgust on her face.

I took the phone. “It’s me, Ichirou,” I said.

“Ah, Takuma!” said Ichirou. “So, I take it you realized how powerless you are, judging by how fast you surrendered. How does it feel now that the whole city has it in for you? If only you would have surrendered at the dojo, all of this could have been avoided.”

“You know my location,” I said, wanting to speed things up. “I’m waiting.” I then ended the call and handed the phone back to Chiyo.

“I’m sorry you have to deal with him,” said Chiyo.

“Don’t worry about it,” I said. “ASA and I can handle him now. What I’m worried about is what’s going to happen to you?”

Chiyo bowed her head. “I’m sure my father never wants to see me again,” she said. “But like I said earlier, he is worthy of punishment. I wish it hadn’t come to this.” Chiyo now walked over to the window and stared out reflectively. “I remember as a child,” she said, “seeing my family’s name all over the Upper-City made me smile. I was proud. Then I got older, and I came to understand who my father really is. Now, I look back on my childhood memories and cringe. If only I had seen through my father’s lies sooner.”

“We’re going to make it,” I said, not sure how to cheer Chiyo up. I couldn’t imagine what it had been like to grow up in her family. “Once Ichirou get’s here, we just have to stick to the plan. Be ready to message the others as soon as we are in custody.”

“What about your weapons?” asked Chiyo.

“I’ll have to surrender them,” I said, shrugging. “It’s all a part of the act. Once Ryuji and the others attack, I’ll get them back. Ichirou doesn’t know martial arts, right?”

“No,” said Chiyo. “With your Combat Sense, you can easily overpower him.”

“Good,” I said. “And then there is ASA X.” I looked at ASA. “I know we’ve been over this, but you are ready to fight, right?”

“I am, Takuma,” said ASA. “We all best be. Ichirou is here.”

I walked over to the window. Here I saw a large air transport land on the street outside the house, the engines humming and stirring up debris on the ground. The doors then opened and out stepped five OMNI military units followed by Ichirou Kazama himself. Protestors who had been roaming the streets began to gather around.

As I opened the front door, I heard the engines of another air vehicle overhead. Looking up, I realized it was a city news vehicle which was no doubt broadcasting my surrender live to all of Kamikoshi City. The people standing around now saw me. Some of them started to shout at me and name-call. I looked at Ichirou. His smile made me want to punch him.

Soon I was standing feet from Ichirou, ASA and Chiyo at my sides. We glared at each other for a moment before I said, “Well, here we are. What now?”

“Lay down your weapons,” said Ichirou, pointing to the ground.

I did as he said. An OMNI unit then walked over and took both pistols. “We’ll head back to HQ,” said Ichirou. “But this crowd intrigues me. And look, we’re on TV. What do you say we give the people a show, huh?”

“What the hell are you talking about?” I asked.

“What do you say we pit your ASA against my ASA X?”

I looked at Chiyo. Her expression was troubled. This wasn’t supposed to happen. Looking at Ichirou again, I said, “Are you serious? You want to do this here? Someone could get hurt.”

Ichirou laughed. “Regardless,” he said, “I want to see a fight.” Ichirou now turned to face the transport as the five OMNI units moved to create a perimeter around us. “ASA X!” Ichirou called, as if summoning a beast from its den.

ASA X now walked out of the transport to stand arrow-straight next to Ichirou. Ichirou then turned to face me again. “So,” he said. “Are you prepared?”

I looked at ASA. ASA’s glowing eyes were fixed on ASA X. “I’m sorry,” I said. “We have no choice.”

ASA looked down at me. “I will do what I can,” the android said.

“Chiyo,” said Ichirou, grabbing Chiyo with his arm around her neck. “Come stand and watch by me. You are my little sister, after all. You’ll soon see the error of your ways when ASA X crushes Takuma’s ASA.”

Chiyo struggled to free herself from Ichirou’s grip but could not. She finally gave up and followed Ichirou to stand near the transport.

“Alright!” said Ichirou, clapping. “Citizens of Kamikoshi City! What you are about to witness is a demonstration of the power of Kazama Corp’s latest creation. Here is ASA X, the most advanced robot ever built. And there, on poor Takuma’s side, is the old ASA with what looks to be moderate upgrades. Will it be enough? Let’s find out!”

ASA and ASA X now stepped into the middle of the perimeter that had been made. For a brief moment, the two androids just looked at each other, their bodies rigid. I could feel my heart start to pound in anticipation. Ryuji and the others were waiting for Chiyo’s confirmation to attack. She couldn’t send a message now, standing next to Ichirou. Would they just attack? All these people watching was a problem too. Someone was going to get hurt.

All of a sudden, ASA X tossed a swift punch at ASA’s face. ASA, however, managed to turn away just fast enough to where the punch only grazed its chin. ASA X threw another punch, this one which ASA managed to grab, holding ASA X’s fist tight.

Swinging with its other fist, ASA X landed an uppercut on ASA which sent ASA to the ground and earned gasps from the onlooking crowd. ASA X then moved to grab ASA when ASA grabbed ASA X’s outstretched arms and, using its legs, tossed ASA X overhead and crashing to the ground.

ASA now got to its feet. The android next made several fast punching blows that ASA X dodged in an impressive display of agility, which ended with ASA getting punched again, this time square in the face. ASA stumbled but regained its stance almost immediately. ASA’s next punch swung wide, in which ASA X grabbed hold of ASA’s arm.

Suddenly, ASA jumped high, taking ASA X with, and slammed ASA X into the ground on its back where the street pavement cracked. ASA now went to grab ASA X, but ASA X used its legs to kick ASA down, using the motion to stand again, one foot on top of ASA.

ASA X now unleashed a sickening barrage of punches before ASA managed to grab hold of both of ASA X’s fists where the android squeezed so hard that each crumpled a bit. ASA then forced ASA X down onto the ground and attempted to restrain ASA X.

ASA X struggled to get free. And then, in one great upward motion, ASA X broke free and, then grabbing ASA by the arm, lifted ASA up and tossed the android where ASA landed and rolled, the pavement breaking again.

ASA rose slowly to its feet and took on a fighting stance, though twitching a bit. Its face was dented and cracked, its body scraped up and dirtied.

ASA X entered into a sprint. ASA stood firm. At the last second, ASA X jumped into the air where it kicked ASA so hard that ASA fell back onto the ground with a loud crunching noise like metal being bent. The onlookers gasped again, some cheering.

ASA was still able to move, but not fast enough. ASA X now grabbed ASA from behind and slammed ASA’s head, face-first, into the ground. It then stepped on the back of ASA’s neck and stood with its fist raised, where it said in a cold voice, “Victory.”

I was stunned, shocked beyond all comprehension at what I had just watched. My mouth had gone dry, my pulse still thumping loudly in my ears. In my speechlessness, I managed to look at Chiyo who stood with her hand covering her mouth, her eyes glistening with tears.

Ichirou began to clap. “There it is! ASA X truly is the best that Kazama Corp. has to offer, far better than this old model Takuma is still hanging on to. ASA X is a multipurpose machine that will transform this city.”

Several people in the crowd clapped.

Anger began to flood my veins, my Combat Sense threatening to kick in. Deep breaths, I thought to myself. Remember your meditation, deep breaths. The time will come. Wait just a little longer.

I looked at Ichirou, shaking as I managed to contain my rage. “You should really keep your mouth shut,” I shouted, “when you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about! You don’t know anything about ASA. Your whole family are cheaters! My father built ASA. This is his creation. This one!” I pointed to ASA on the ground, ASA X’s foot still on top of it.

“What’s your point?” said Ichirou.

“ASA X rejects my father’s vision,” I said. “He would never had made it had he not been forced to! ASA is my father’s true passion. It has memories of him before your father forced him to work for Kazama Corp.!”

Ichirou laughed. “Forced him to work? Stop lying, Takuma. Your father has worked at Kazama Corp. for over a decade. And as for you getting all sentimental, times change. In fact, because we will be taking possession of your ASA, it no longer requires those memories you mentioned. It’s time for a fresh start, okay?”

“You wouldn’t!” shouted Chiyo, who moved to try and slap Ichirou. Ichirou grabbed his sister’s arm and shot a devilish smile.

“You still have father to deal with,” Ichirou hissed. He now looked at me again. “You must have known it would come to this, Takuma. You must have known that there was no way you could challenge the Kazamas!”

I was Ichirou’s prey, helpless. I knew that I would die should I unleash my Combat Sense, I knew that should I give in to my anger I would lose everything I had fought for. A few tears rolled down my face. “Please don’t do this,” I said, bowing my head.

“Are you seriously crying?” said Ichirou. “Grow up, Takuma. Once you see what we have waiting at HQ, you’ll quickly forget about this ASA.” Ichirou now looked at ASA X. “Wipe its memory, ASA X. Make it quick. We need to be heading back.”

“Please,” I said again, more tears rolling down my cheeks. “Please.” I couldn’t bear to watch. What would I do when ASA didn’t know who I was anymore? It felt as if I were watching a family member die.

When it was done, I looked up to see ASA X retract a cable from ASA’s neck. ASA now stood. It looked around, looked past me, and then looked at ASA X.

“You are now the property of the Kazama Corporation,” said ASA X. “Follow me.”

Both androids now approached Ichirou. “Hello, ASA,” said Ichirou. “My name is Ichirou Kazama. We will find a place for you at HQ.”

“Thank you, Ichirou,” said ASA. “My primary function is to assist the human race with whatever is required of me. I looked forward to assisting you.”

Both androids now boarded the transport.

Ichirou!” came a bloodcurdling shout.

I looked up. It was Ryuji. He was sprinting down from Hanako’s house, sword in hand, with Azami and Yosuke close behind.

“No!” I yelled. “Don’t attack!”

Ichirou looked at the OMNI military units. “Kill them!” he commanded.

The OMNI military units rushed forward, their rifles aimed.

It was no use. Ryuji wasn’t going to listen to me. Knowing I now had to fight, I turned to engage the closest OMNI military unit. I wasn’t sure if I could actually take one down with my physical strength alone, but I had to try.

As I prepared to attack, however, I found myself face to face with ASA X. I froze, the android then grabbing me around the waist and jumping to the transport. I watched as the transport doors closed to see the OMNI military units open fire, Ryuji utilizing the robotic enhancement of his sword to block the incoming bullets where golden sparks flew.

The transport began to rise as the engines acquired full power.

I looked at ASA who sat in silence at the opposite side of the transport. It no longer knew me. Our plan was falling apart fast.

I took several deep breaths. My mind cleared.

This wasn’t over. Not yet.

In my moment of clarity, I remembered that I had backed-up ASA’s core files onto the server in my father’s lab. I turned to Chiyo, my back to Ichirou who was peering down through the window at Ryuji and the others fighting. “We can get ASA back,” I said hurriedly.

“What? How?” said Chiyo.

“I backed up its core files when I finished the upgrade,” I said. “It’s down in my father’s lab. You need to send a message to the others and tell them to get it to us. There’s a data chip that comes out of the server deck. That’s what I need.”

“Okay,” said Chiyo. “I’ll do it.”

There was no other way. I could only hope that Ryuji and the others would defeat the OMNI military units and find the necessary transportation to get to us before we reached the HQ.

Without ASA, I was doomed.