Flight of The Blackbird
After that fateful night, the days began to move quickly once again. My leg healed relatively quickly, though not as quickly as I may have hoped. In the end, I had to give up on four days worth of missions, something I wasn’t quite pleased with. What I was pleased with, however, was that I now had a bit of time to hang out with Kota, Shiro, and Tomoe. We didn’t do anything specific or special, but it was nice to hang out with them again.
I also began to explore the city during my time off. I had lived here for the first fourteen years of my life, but it had been three years since. A lot had changed, specifically, a shopping district was erected quite close to where I lived. I checked it out a bit, but it was the same as any other shopping district on the face of the earth, or at least in Genesis. Clothing stores, grocery stores, tech stores, all of it could be found there. It was a bit convenient that I now had a place to do all my shopping, but it would also bring more traffic, both foot and vehicle, through my part of the city. Aside from the shops, some new restaurants had been put in around the area as well. I tried a few of them in the coming weeks, but none of them were even in the same league as Marie’s cooking.
Other than that, nothing of note happened for about three weeks. I went to school like a normal kid, did my missions like a normal assassin, and kept an eye on Andy like a normal recon agent. Speaking of Andy, I quickly learned just how much of an asshole he was over the following period of time. He loved to boss everyone around, even the teacher, he acted like a playboy (or so he thought), and he bullied anyone who didn’t stand up to him. He also sent his goons after anyone who DID call him out. He argued with me a lot, thinking he could get the better of me because I was a new student. The arguments were getting more frequent and more personal, and I was starting to get tired of it.
For example, he made his stance on people from lower socioeconomic classes abundantly clear very often. He would complain over and over that specific students were “stinking up the classroom.” I got so pissed off by this, my family having started in the blue-collar working-class and all, that I called him out one day.
“Just because not everyone around is privileged enough to sit around all day because their daddy is rich, doesn’t mean that we’re worth less than you. In fact, I’d venture to say that people who work for what they have are far more admirable than those who rag on others for doing just that.”
This pissed him off enough that he started throwing his favorite insult, “pig”, around again. He attempted to insult my family and my friends before Mrs. Hina started shouting at him for being a “disgraceful student.”
Other than this fact though, my days were a breeze. Everything went well, almost too well. My relative peace, however, was shattered three weeks and four days in, just as expected.
*** *** ***
I woke up in my cushy bed just as I had for the past month or so. I took a quick shower, threw on my uniform, made myself a mediocre coffee (I’ll never master the art of coffee brewing), and headed out to school.
The walk to school was starting to get so familiar that I could read a novel on my holocomputer as I walked. The streets gradually filled with more people making their daily commute, talking on the phone, or just generally taking up space. I dodged human after human as I got closer to the school.
Once there, I went up several flights of stairs to get to the third floor, then up the final one to get to the roof. Tomoe and I had started meeting there alone to talk about my missions and other topics. Even Kota didn’t know about this, or he did and decided not to engage.
However, when I opened the door, Tomoe wasn’t there. It was around the time we’d meet, about thirty minutes before school, so I just waited to see if she’d show up. But she didn’t show. I waited for five minutes, then ten, then I started to wonder if she was just not coming to school. After twenty minutes, I deduced that she likely was sick today. I made a mental note to go visit her home after school and before my next mission.
I made my way down to my second-story classroom, and to my surprise, Tomoe was there, in the seat next to mine. There were still ten minutes until homeroom began, so I approached her, but when I looked at her downcast face, a single bruise had formed on her right cheek. Immediately filled with dread and anger, I sped up and crouched next to her.
“Good morning, Tomoe.”
“Oh… h-hi, Reiji.”
Her voice was low and she sounded quite depressed. I had a hunch as to why, but I asked the question anyway.
“Tomoe…” I began, “what happened to your face.”
She froze and looked up at me, then placed her hand over the bruise. There was a small look of fear on her face, which made my mind race.
Who did that to you? Do I have someone I need to gut like a fish today?
Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a few things. Kota and Shiro had entered the room together, and Andy was smirking in the corner of the room.
“Oh… that’s nothing, don’t worry! I… uh… I fell,” she said in an embarrassed tone.
She’s a good actor… but that won’t fool me. However, I’ll leave it alone for now.
“Alright, just be careful… and if it happens again, tell me,” I warned, pretending that I had been deceived.
In actuality, I had a hunch as to who had done it, and if that certain person did it again, I’d beat the shit out of them.
I moved into my seat next to her and Kota and Shito sat down behind me. We talked for a few moments before classes, then Mrs. Hina entered the room and we all began paying attention.
*** *** ***
“Whew! So much homework!” Kota exclaimed as the four of us walked from the school to Benny’s restaurant.
We had been given homework in every subject, and even though it was rather easy, it would take a hell of a long time. All of us groaned in agreement, dreading the stupid amount of work.
Kota and Shiro walked ahead of Tomoe and me by a few paces. Even though there was a height distance, our pace was about the same. After a minute or two, she leaned in and whispered three small words.
“It was him.”
I narrowed my eyes and nodded. Based on the smirk on Andy’s stupid face, I assumed that he had done something to harm her. I clenched my fist tight and silently vowed to put him in his place. Then, a totally not self-motivated idea popped into my head.
“Hey… if you want… I can walk you to school?” I offered.
My heart raced simply asking the question. It was honestly… embarrassing. She thought about my question for a moment, and her face grew red. She fiddled with her hair a bit as she gave her answer.
“I think I’d like that… thank you,” she replied with her signature sweet smile.
I nodded, my own face turning red as well.
“It… it’s no problem at all,” I responded weakly.
We continued to walk side-by-side, avoiding eye contact and catching up with the oblivious Kota and Shiro. Benny’s was now in sight, so we all sped up to a jog and made our way into the restaurant.
At this point, we had a table in the back that had essentially been reserved for us after school. The clean, pristine wood sparkled under the fluorescent lighting as we sat down and pulled out our mountains of homework.
After about two hours of doing homework (and Kota screwing around) we all finished and decided to go to the movies. There was a really bad horror movie that all of us wanted to see, so we packed up our things and headed to the theatre.
The route there was a serene one. It was around seven in the evening, so the streets were starting to empty out. The four of us walked in a line four across, talking and joking the whole way there. Kota somehow came up with even more stupidly funny jokes, and Shiro even had some punchlines of her own.
He’s starting to rub off on her… I’ll pray for you, Shiro. May God have mercy on thy soul, O unlucky one.
With my short prayer sent up to the lord, we arrived at the theatre. The hologram sign floated above a projector near the entrance, displaying some three-dimensional movie trailers. A few people aside from us filed into the building, mostly couples on their way to a late showing.
Among the others, I saw a group of three that immediately made my blood boil. I clenched my fist so hard my bail drew blood from my palm.
Andy, you son of a bitch…
He and his two companions, which I assumed to be Jaxon and Armstrong, walked around with their chests puffed like they owned the place. Just seeing their faces pissed me off.
I felt a hand grab my clenched fist, and looked over to see Tomoe shaking her head.
“Don’t do it… it’ll only make things worse for you,” she said, squeezing my bleeding hand. “You can’t end him here, and you don’t even know if he’s your target yet. Just… don’t.”
I thought about this for a moment, and came to the realization that Tomoe is more merciful than that rat deserves. Nodding my head, I spoke.
“I won’t do anything unless he approaches us. That’s about as merciful as I can be to that scumbag.”
“Alright… I’ll take that.”
I assumed she was praying that he wouldn’t come over here. But unfortunately, her prayers were ignored entirely. He noticed the four of us, and strode over, the self-satisfied grin on his face growing larger. He looked at me and began his antagonism.
“Well, would you look at that? It’s the pig in human clothes,” he spat.
He shifted his eyes toward the girl holding my hand. His smirk made her shiver, I could feel it on my fingers.
“And you, you little-” He started.
A fist went flying towards his smug face, but it wasn’t mine. Kota, fed up with Andy’s shit, sent a punch careening toward his face. Skin met with skin, and a tooth came flying out Andy’s mouth.
“Now you listen here,” Kota growled, “if you ever talk to my friends like that again, I’ll fucking kill you myself.”
His face, contorted in primal rage, made Andy go reeling backward. He sputtered, unable to stop his mouth from bleeding. Panic entered his face and he shakily gave his order, spewing blood and spit.
“Go, you idiots! Beat them down!”
Jaxon and Armstrong both nodded to their boss, then smiled and cracked their knuckles, looking excited about the upcoming battle. Jaxon turned to me, and Armstrong took Kota.
“You two fucked with the wrong group,” Jaxon growled menacingly.
Kota and I turned our backs to each other and each got into stances. Shiro and Tomoe backed up, knowing exactly what would happen.
“An assassin and his best friend against two low-level thugs. This won’t even be entertaining,” Shiro whispered low enough that only Tomoe heard, causing her to chuckle.
“Good luck!” She whispered to us, though we couldn’t hear.
*** *** ***
Jaxon was a large, dark-skinned, muscular boy with arms as thick as telephone poles. He also seemed to know how to fight well. His punches and feigns were well aligned and deadly accurate. My thinner, more agile arms could only block so much. However, I was faster and could dodge every hit fairly easily.
Armstrong, on the other hand, was a bit of a moron. He had the height advantage, however, standing at about 6’5. His arms were also ridiculously muscular, meaning he didn’t need to think much about strategy and could usually barrel through opponents with pure force. Fortunately, Kota was far superior in both skill and intelligence. Many people don’t know this, but Kota does martial arts and has since he was about seven, so he could hold his own against anyone, and is one of the only people in the world that I actually have a hard time beating. He gracefully weaved between punch after punch, jabbing the large boy in the face and stomach.
I dodged a punch sent toward my face and swiped at his throat. The hit connected, and he backed up, gasping for air. I used this opportunity to latch my wires to a nearby wall, lift myself in the air, and kick him right in the face. He stumbled backward, giving me one more opportunity to slam my heel into the side of his head. He collapsed in a heap, blood streaming out of his temple.
Kota had done a number on Armstrong as well, who was only standing via pure pride. Kota whipped another fist into his nose, then a jab to his stomach and a hook to the throat. This combo dropped him to his knees, to which Kota sent a final, disrespectful kick to his nether regions. Armstrong groaned and fell over, drooling and coughing.
Kota and I looked down at the two boys, Andy having run away like the cowardly slime that he is, then finally noticed that a crowd had gathered around us. People had their cell phones out, videotaping us.
“No movie?” Kota asked.
“Nah… don’t think so,” I replied.
We both turned to the girls, who were both holding in laughter. The four of us got the crowd to part, then ran off into the distance, laughing all the while.
We instead chose to return to Benny’s and order a meal together. Tomoe scolded us for going “too far.”
“You two need to learn to hold back!” she complained, reminding us that they were collectively down a tooth, a rib, and a lot of pride.
This, however, to the irritation of Tomoe, only made us laugh harder. So much so, that she pouted the whole walk home. Her mood did lighten up a bit when we got to her house, and she hugged me before going inside, causing my heart rate to speed up to about 180 bpm. My blood pressure would probably have been enough to give any cardiologist a stress-induced heart attack. We said our goodbyes, and I headed to my own home, still smiling like an idiot.
On the way to my apartment, I thought over my situation once again.
I just beat up one of my target’s cronies, and my best friend punched the target in the face. so I can’t imagine Oakman will be very happy with me, but damn… it was fun. Maybe now he won’t be such an ass at school. Man… wouldn’t that be nice.
I smiled at the moon, totally ready for anything that could come next. If he really was my target, I’d know soon enough. His next move could possibly be his last. The thought would cause anyone to smile.