Chapter 11:

Empty Words & Hypocrisy

The Forbidden and the Gifted

[7:38 p.m., March 10th 2047 (One year before the events in Korea); Rural Japan. Shin and Yuki look around, with Naomi standing behind them. Behind Naomi stands Electra, and approaching the group is Takuya, who looks much older]

Shin: Yo Tak, you made it eh?

Takuya: Yeah, yeah kid. You’d be pissed if I didn’t make it, wouldn’t ya?

Yuki [To Shin]: Who’s the oldie?

Takuya: Eh? Who you calling oldie?

Yuki: YOU! Look at you! You look like you’ve been through so much shit my man!

Takuya: You’d have guessed right my lady.

Yuki: Ew, he even uses ‘my lady’. What are we, British?

Takuya [Scoffs]: Anyway Shin, why am I here?

Shin: Didn’t I tell you?

Takuya: No, you only told me to meet ya here. I thought you’d be up to no good, and to no surprise, I’m right. God, what would your mom think if she were here?

Shin: She’d be pleased with me, thank you very much.

Takuya: Oh, you think?

Shin: Oh, I know.

Takuya [Shakes his head]: Anyway, why the hell am I here?

Shin: Oh yeah, yeah. We’re gonna be starting something.

Takuya: Starting something? The hell are you on about? You know you’re not even outta high school eh kid?

Shin: Yeah, yeah, but high schools’ lame man.

Takuya: What kind of stupid-ass excuse is that?

Shin: Man, I didn’t bring you here for you to sound like an old fart and rain on the damn parade. I thought you’d be helpful man.

Takuya: I wanna be helpful, but how the hell am I supposed to be helpful? Y’all are a bunch of kids! I mean shit, [Looks at Naomi] … Naomi? Why are you here?

Naomi [To Takuya]: Oh… uh, I thought it’d be interesting, right? And there’s been a lot of, well, stuff, at school.

Takuya: Eh?

Shin [Approaches Takuya]: What she means is, there’s a bunch of shitheads at school. It’s not like how it was when we were younger. We’re the group coming from out on the country, we aren’t the most accepted group. You wouldn’t know much about that though since you barely went to school, am I wrong?

Takuya [Scoffs]: Fuck off.

Shin: Still, still, you should understand. There’re some real dickheads in school, and it’s not like we’re some super geniuses. We’re just some kids from the country going to school in a bigger city – although not as big as Yokohama; hell, I don’t know what Takashi and them are doing. Essentially, we’re sick of this shit and wanna do something different.

Takuya: So you wanna drop out?

Shin: None of us want to, haha. Whad’ya think, we’re failures? [Laughs] But I mean shit, we can’t go wrong here, can we?

Takuya: Sure you can go wrong! Didn’t your mom explain everything before she left to go overseas? Don’t you know what this type of life is?

Shin: Of course I do man.

Takuya: You know, you’re talking about illegal shit too, right?

Shin: Yeah, I know man.

Takuya: So, it’s not even what me and your bro used to do… it’s just some tomfoolery to blow off steam. Not only is this stupid, it’s against what your brother even stood for.

Shin: Calm down old man, we don’t need ya lecturing us. Besides, what we’re doing ain’t even all that bad, y’know it’s like odd jobs type of shit? ‘Illegal’? [Scoffs] Chalk up half the world to this type of bullshit, it’s nothing new. Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if you guys searched these depths for jobs and shit back when you worked with my brother. [Laughs] Ha, then again if you’re doing it now I wouldn’t put it past ya to have done it before. All talk no action you lot. [Laughs]

Takuya: Huh? The hell are you talking about?

Shin [Looks behind him and calls]: Yo Elec, got the phone?

Electra: Yeah man. [He walks to Shin and tosses him and old, cracked phone]

Shin: Thanks. [He turns it on and opens a tab on his browser] Oi Tak, ain’t this you, my man?

Takuya [Grabs the phone]: Oh, so you morons use these sites for jobs too? [Chuckles] Fine, fine, I talk a lot of horseshit, but what am I supposed to do?

Yuki [Interjects]: Did you guys use that while you were part of the military as well?

Takuya: First off, I wasn’t military, I was part of the elite division of assassins and informants. Special Ops. There’s a big difference.

Yuki [Shrugs]: Meh.

Takuya: Second, whether we used it back then is irrelevant to now. I’m on my own now, and so are y’all. Without Ichigo, there’s been a whole rising of shitheads from these depths.

Yuki: Really? Like who?

Takuya: Ever since he died a lot of the elite division fell apart after I left – not that I care – and a lot of random thug groups began popping up and making the rounds.

Naomi: You were keeping track?

Takuya [Bites tongue]: Yeah. Yeah, I needed to. Not like I could do much, but if things ever spiraled way out of control, I had connections at least.

Naomi: Ah, I see. Did anything like that happen?

Yuki: Probably not, since he’s standing in front of us right now.

[Naomi and Yuki laugh to one another]

Takuya: Well, in the early days there were some groups like Seaside headed by that Hashiro guy, but it never really took off. A bit later came that group from Osaka – the Red Bullets or whatever –

Yuki: Red Bullets? [Laughs] What a stupid name.

Takuya: Don’t look at me, I didn’t name 'em. I don’t think anyone ever found out who was the ringleader behind them, but they had a bunch of early attention. They’ve sorta died down lately on these types of sites, but I’m pretty sure they still run a lot of the Osaka area. They’ve been trying to move into the scenes in Yokohama but that’ll probably take time, and I don’t think it’ll cause too big of a stir. They’re annoying, but they aren’t going to cause some bullshit to happen.

Yuki: So, nothing happened then?

Takuya: Wait, wait missy. There’s a reason why I came out here after Shin called me, y’know? Sure he’d be mad and all that, but I thought you[‘d have more of a legitimate reason…

Yuki: And that legitimate reason might be, pre-tell…

Takuya: A group that’s been raising my suspicions for a bit, even though they haven’t done much.

Yuki: Eh? Why would they be suspicious then?

Takuya: Well, they take a lot of the odd jobs – arms smuggling, weapons trades, illegal importing, whatever – that don’t have to do with any sort of murder or assassination or anything like that.

Naomi: Huh? Then why would they be suspicious?

Takuya: It’s the way they’ve gone about everything – they seem like such a Holier than Thou group, doing what they do for attention and for people to flock to them. And they do everything so quickly too, so they can’t be amateurs either. They just seem like the type of people who are trying to get more and more supporters until they show their true colors.

Yuki: I mean, they sound like a pretty good group for now, don’t they Naomi?

Naomi: I don’t have a problem with them.

Takuya [To Shin]: See, this is why I thought you called me out. I thought you guys were on the ropes with those types of guys. [Pauses] Hell, even that guy [points to Electra], who are ya?

Electra [Points at himself]: Me? I’m Naomi’s cousin, that’s all.

Takuya: Ah, alright, alright.

Yuki: By the way Tak, who even were these guys that you were talking about?

Takuya: Oh, the group?

Yuki: Yeah, you got a name? Maybe we’ve heard of them or can look around for them or something.

Takuya: Listen, you lot should be in school damnit. Don’t you get it? This type of shits dangerous. Once you get roped in by one of these big groups it’s wraps for you. Everything you do is for the ringleader and if you slip up, you’re the one with the axe in your back.

Yuki: Blah, blah, if it’s so scary, then why are you still a part of it?

Takuya: Me? Really, you’re gonna ask? I’m an adult – I was already Ichigo’s senior. I know the ropes in this type of life. I’ve been through it as an informant, and I know how to survive and make money to get by. You guys don’t. You’re just kids.

Shin [Interjects]: Yeah, yeah old man. Maybe we’ll take your word, or whatever. Just tell us the name of this group, alright?

Takuya: You just don’t listen to anyone, do ya?

Shin: I’ll listen more carefully after you tell me this. So just tell me.

Takuya: It’s a gang known as the East Block from a little way from here. Why does it matter anyway, unless you want to go work for –

[Takuya stops talking as Shin spits out the coffee that he had been drinking, which had been given to him by Naomi while Yuki and Takuya were talking. He regains his composure, only to keep on laughing that he nearly falls over]

Yuki [Chuckles]: First time I’ve seen Shin laugh that hard in a long time.

Electra: To be fair, it’s pretty funny.

Yuki: It is. [Chuckles] It really is.

Takuya: Eh? What’s so funny? I know it’s not the best name but it’s better than the Bullets or whatever. Aye Shin, what’s so funny man?

Shin [Regains his composure]: You fucking moron… [laughs] you think we’re gonna be scared of the East Block? [He reaches into his pocket, grabbing a card and flings it at Takuya] Take a look, moron. And I couldn’t have forged this shit, I had no idea your were actually this scared.

Takuya [Looks up and down the card]: Eh? What’s the big deal here?

Shin: Flip the card, moron.

Takuya [Flips the card and is taken aback]: No way.

Shin: You see why we ain’t scared man?

Takuya: There’s no way you guys created this this quickly. How?

Shin: How? I’m just built different man.

Naomi: Shin…

Shin: Fine, fine. But you’ve gotta give me some respect, right?

Naomi: Yeah. You did a lot to help us all out.

Takuya [Still perplexed]: But still, you created a dominant force in the depths, you know that, right?

Naomi: We did.

Takuya: You’re just…

Shin: Just kids? [Pauses] Yeah, we are, and so what of it? Information’s always available everywhere and we weren’t so sheltered from the reality of the bullshit that is life from an early age. Hell, my brother even died – no matter what story my mom told me to cover it up, I never could believe it to be true. The only truth was that my brother was a hero, in my eyes at least. When she finally told me what he worked as before she moved overseas for her new job, I was less surprised and more relieved to know that I wasn’t crazy for believing what I had believed.

Takuya: So, her lying to you caused you to delve into this path? I still don’t get it.

Shin: Hell no. I didn’t want to do all of this, I wouldn’t have minded living a normal life, y’know. But school was a real bitch – for all of us, no doubt – and life didn’t look like it really had any positive spin to it until we started this shit. [Pauses] Hell, it’s in part thanks to you as well.

Takuya: Huh? What the hell did I do? I only came to talk to you when you wanted. We never talked about any of this. [Pauses] No, your brother… I didn’t mean for any harm towards him –

Shin: Not my brother, you moron. You really are a special kind of stupid, aren’t ya?

Takuya [Confused]: Then what?

Shin [Calls out behind him]: Ayo Elec?

Electra: What’s up man?

Shin: Drift and Higuchi here?

Electra: Yeah, they got here a while back. [Calls out] Yo Drift! Shin’s callin!

Drift [From a distance]: Alright, alright, I’m coming! [He walks forward towards Shin, Takuya, Yuki and Naomi]

Shin: Yo, what’s up?

Drift: Been a little bit man. [Looks at Takuya, who looks more perplexed than ever] This the guy we were supposed to meet?

Shin: Yeah, this is him.

Drift: Why’d you want me to meet him? Couldn’t ya have dealt with it?

Shin: Yeah, I probably could have, but I wanted you here as well.

Drift [To Takuya]: Oi man, nice to meet ya. What’s your name?

Takuya [Shakes his head and takes a deep breath]: Takuya. Takuya Kurou.

Drift [His eyes lower and he appears shocked]: Takuya?

Takuya: Yeah.

Drift: Wait. Wait, wait. It’s the same voice too… or at least I think it is… shit man.

Takuya: So, it is you, I’d take it?

Drift: Wait…

Takuya: Wilhelm, I presume?

Naomi [To Drift]: Ooo, he got ya there.

Yuki: Eh? Drift, y’know this old fart?

Takuya [To Yuki]: Eh? Who’re you calling old fart again?

Yuki: You, you damn hag!

Takuya [Shakes his head]: Whatever. [Laughs] So, Wil, how the hell did you end up here with these brats? Don’t tell me I shouldn’t have called you that day.

Drift: First off, I don’t go by Wil or Wilhelm anymore.

Takuya: Oh yeah, then what?

Drift: Drift.

Takuya [Chuckles]: You really couldn’t have come up with anything better, eh?

Drift: Well…

Naomi: It was my idea!

Drift: Yeah, it was her idea.

Takuya [To Naomi]: Why?

Naomi: He’s our driver normally with our van squad, and his metallic arm gives him some pretty good drifting.

Yuki: I second that.

Takuya: So, you got your name cause you can drift corners well? What is this, Tokyo Drift?

[Shin laughs behind him]

Drift [Shrugs]: I guess... [turns to Shin] man shut up Shin!

Takuya [Chuckles again]: Man, you kids never cease to amaze me. [Shakes his head] But wait, I didn’t even ask, how the hell did you guys meet? What the hell?

Drift: Well…

Takuya: Don’t tell me you’re the reason they’re into this type of shit…

Drift: Well…

Naomi [To Takuya]: Wait, wait, wait. How do you two know each other?

Takuya: Is that really important?

Shin [Nudges him and smirks]: Well, it kinda is now, isn’t it, grandpa? We didn’t know that you two knew each other… now explain to the crowd, would ya?

Takuya: Alright Shin, well…

[Flashback to a few days after Takuya left Shin’s house from the previous chapter – Takuya arrives at work to inform the higher-ups of the news regarding Ichigo's death]

Takuya [Enters the board room, where three men, Ryo, Raphael and Denis, in suits are sitting]: Good day to you all.

Ryo: Good day Takuya.

Takuya: I assume you received the news, correct?

Ryo: Yes, we did.

Raphael: Did you get to speak to his family?

Takuya: I had gone the day of the meeting, that’s why I had left. I assume that man had relayed that news to you lot?

Raphael: He only told us that you had to take an emergency, to which we excused you. Putting two and two together, it makes quite a lot of sense that you had to leave. [Pauses] So, what did you have to say to his mother?

Takuya: Just had to explain the situation to her and tried to help her keep her cool, which she did. It’s quite a tough situation, but she knew that in some way or another, something would go wrong. Obviously, she hoped for the best, but you can’t control everything.

Ryo: And his brother?

Takuya: Wasn’t there. She’ll likely explain everything to him in time. He’s just going into secondary school and should be able to understand a lot more stuff as he matures. Now isn’t the time for that though. I’ll probably try to keep in touch with him here and there as a brotherly figure.

Raphael: Does he want –

Takuya: Don’t ask that question. I’m not getting him involved in this stuff.

Raphael: Okay, but in terms of finances…

Takuya: Finances? What?

Raphael: Are they going to be able to sustain themselves off of the mother’s salary?

Ryo: I had heard that it was quite mid-level, or even lower. He was the real breadwinner there.

Takuya: Huh? What about the compensation that he’s entitled to?

Ryo: What compensation?

Takuya [His face visibly turns disgusted]: HUH? Don’t give me that bullshit!

Raphael: Calm down there Tak. Were you under the impression that he deserved compensation?

Takuya: Well no fucking shit! He was bloody killed while working! The hell do you mean ‘the impression’? What kind of God-damn façade?

Raphael: Again, this was an international affair, not a domestic injury or death. Have you even seen the conditions under the insurance?

Takuya: Man fuck the conditions! He was your damn ace! And you’re sweeping him under the rug like that?

Raphael: How is it fair to change the conditions based on one man though? I know that you’re close with him, but why would we do that?

Takuya: You shitheads don’t care about the people who work for y’all at all, do ya? We’re just tools to be used to keep the population under control, eh?

Denis: Not to be rude Takuya, but how haven’t you caught onto that as yet? Weren’t you one of the biggest advocates of the current system? Weren’t you next in line to work as one of us – but you got distracted by that man, Ichigo?

Ryo: A lot of your views changed when you started associating yourself with that man… what you just described is what we were created to be. We aren’t a family mate. These kinds of things happen.

[Takuya walks forward towards Ryo and slaps him across the face, which Ryo shakes off]

Takuya [Looks at Raphael]: So, you’re gonna give him nothing eh?

Raphael: He died on international soil, and it wasn’t an accident whatsoever. He participated in something voluntarily and died. We can’t compensate for non-accidents, especially those that happen on international grounds.

Takuya: So, basically, compensation’s hardly given out by you cheats, eh?

Ryo [Chuckles]: I don’t know why that’s such a surprise. I thought you were in on this stuff man, hell, you’ve even signed off on this stuff. How are we going to keep our reputation if money’s going all over the place to people that we have no business caring about?

Takuya: Fuckin shitheads man, all of y’all.

Denis: It’s a cutthroat business. We can’t do anything about this.

Takuya: But if I had said his brother was interested in joining, then what?

Raphael: The conversation may have been slightly different, to say the least.

Ryo: But you vehemently declined the kid from working for us, so what can we say?

Takuya: His brother fucking died because of this damn work! The hell else do you want me to say?

Ryo: That isn’t our concern.

Takuya: That isn’t? He was your god-damn ace! You can’t save some compassion for the people in his life?

Denis: Why should we? They aren’t providing us with anything.

Takuya [Reaches into his pocket and grabs his phone and smashes it into the ground in front of the three]: Take your company phone back. Take all this shit back. You fuckers aren’t worth a second more of my time. I don’t know how or why I kept working with such a corrupt, incompetent group of shitheads.

Ryo: Y’know, you don’t want to make an enemy out of a group as big as us, right?

Takuya [Pulls out a pistol from his pocket and aims it at Ryo]: Keep talkin there. I don’t go anywhere unarmed. And you fuckers can pull out your guns too, but you know I got the best reaction time here. I’ll kill your ass even if you kill me. Cutthroat business, isn’t it? You should be able to let Ryo die then, shouldn’t you? Or are you guys hypocrites?

Raphael [Looks at Takuya]: Put the gun down. No one’s shooting anyone here. Plus, you’re an informant. You aren’t a god-damn shooter. So put it down.

Takuya: Or what, eh?

Raphael: You can leave. We aren’t going to hunt you down or put a bounty on your name. We may be sly, but we keep our word. Hell, we’re keeping our word on that compensation too, it’s just in a manner that’s unfavorable to you. You can leave, do whatever you want with your life. Cross paths with us on purpose though and we’ll end you. You’d be smart to go do whatever the hell you want with your life.

Takuya [Drops the gun]: Fuckin shithead.

Denis: So, I take it you’re done then… we’ll clear you off our records by tonight. Do whatever you can with the rest of your life.

Takuya [Walks towards the door, opens it and walks out, slamming it shut]: Bastards.

Ryo [To Raphael]: You actually want to keep your word?

Raphael: We’re a company of honor. We aren’t going back on our words. He’s one guy, and if he actively comes at us, we’ll take him down. We know enough about him, and he’ll have no way of getting any information on us. There’s no risk to this, and we keep our company’s honor.

Ryo: Honor? Really?

Raphael: Regardless of how we may feel towards him after the way he acted, we made a legitimate deal with him. 

Ryo: That's all bullshit, y'know? We should be working to provide the best for ourselves - who gives a damn about anyone else man?

Raphael [Shakes his head]: This is what is best... we have to uphold our honor at least.

Ryo [Laughs]: Honor? Please. The damn reason we stayed afloat is because of Ichigo Taiki. And we don't even have the rights to his brother Shin to even train him... what the hell is the point of even keeping our own honor code? We're gonna be done for faster than we know it.

Denis: We're more than a one-man business Ryo. You yourself know that - 

Ryo: Please... don't give me that. We've gotta start being cutthroat in every way to keep ourselves afloat. But I know that neither of you two would ever listen to me and my ideas, right?

Denis: That's why we're a three man council. As much as you make valid points, we cannot reciprocate those ideals. We follow this code and hell, if he does cross paths with us again, we'll make sure to kill him.

Raphael: Yeah. I don't see the downside in that at all. There's no need to break a mutual agreement because of a minor quarrel we had.

Ryo [Under his breath, laughing]: It isn't just Takuya, you damn morons. You both are unbelievably moronic with every action you take. 'Cutthroat business'? Cutthroat business my ass. That moron understands it better than both of you, and he'll make it a lot farther than you two will. This organization won't last much longer like this... I'll say that much.