Mezu ran towards the Nuclear Cooling Tower. The sound of gunfire was everywhere.
Surely the scientists wouldn’t have been stupid enough to put a secret stockpile of nuclear warheads in a nuclear cooling tower?
He looked around for a way to climb the Nuclear Cooling Tower and check the interior, but there was nothing. The only thing nearby was a nuclear bunker. With no better ideas, he ran over and cut open the door. There were a group of scared-looking scientists inside.
‘Please don’t kill us!’ said an Asian woman. The name tag on her lab coat read Professor Soba.
Mezu rested his zanbatō on his shoulder to look intimidating. ‘Where are the nuclear warheads? In the Nuclear Cooling Tower?’
‘I don’t know.’ Professor Soba’s ears twitched.
Mezu gave a long sigh. ‘You baka gaijins actually put nuclear warheads in a nuclear cooling tower. Unbelievable.’
Professor Soba clasped her hands together. ‘You can’t let the Patriots get their hands on them! If they do, we’re all doomed!’
Mezu heard cannon fire behind him.
In the distance, a trio of Army tanks were backing up while firing their main guns. From out of the darkness came Biker on his cruiser motorbike followed by thirty Patriots on quad bikes. Biker did a wheelie and cut the middle tank in half with his motorbike’s chainsaw wheels. The Patriots swarmed on the other two and cut them apart with their chainsaw halberds. They turned and sped towards the Nuclear Cooling Tower.
Doctor Soba and the scientists screamed.
Mezu raised his zanbatō at the Patriots. Damn it! The scientists would have at least been safe if I hadn’t cut open the door! Now I have to worry about them too!
When Biker saw Mezu, he skidded to a halt and held his hand up to the others to stop them. ‘Woah, boys, slow down! It seems we’ve encountered a samurai! This is Mezu of the Big Five! Slayer of Shark Man, Gozu, and our very own Girl Scout! We need to mind our manners around such a dangerous individual!’
He revved his motorbike engine. The Patriots copied him.
Mezu wasn’t sure whether he was being praised or mocked. He chose to be optimistic. ‘It is good to see you have learned respect for the way of the samurai, Biker. Leave now with your men, or I will take your heads.’
Biker started shaking. ‘Oooh! You hear that, boys! The samurai’s given us bandits an ultimatum! It’s like an Akira Kurosawa film!’ He leant forwards on his handlebars. ‘But y’see, the thing is, samurai, I haven’t learned respect for anything. You killed a big dumb fish, your own little brother, who according to the rumours had never even defeated you in a duel, and a thirteen-year-old girl. It’s not exactly like you took down the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, is it? If I’m honest, you’re a terrible fighter married to an obsolete martial art and an archaic warrior culture. I’m going to enjoy putting you in your place.’
Mezu narrowed his eyes. ‘My ancestors encountered braggart horsemen too. Come then. Test your mettle.’
Biker revved his motorbike. ‘First wave, go!’
Ten Patriots sped towards Mezu with their chainsaw halberds raised.
An easy battle.
Suddenly, the Patriots lit up with sparks. They were using the Zone!
For some reason, a memory flashed through Mezu’s mind. He and the Oyabun had been drinking green tea in the dojo on the day before he set out to America for the Death Game.
Master, he had said. Something has been troubling me. I’m not sure I can continue to fulfil my role as both a samurai and a yakuza.
The Patriots rushed Mezu.
‘Zone Technique: Breaking Wave!’ Mezu cut through chainsaw halberds, quad bikes, and Patriots in a flowing stream of attacks.
Try your best, Mezu, his Oyabun had said. My Wakagashira's influence is growing. I am the only thing keeping him in check. I need the Dagger of Life and Death so I can retain control of the Udon Family.
Biker revved his motorbike. ‘Second wave, go!’
Ten more Patriots rushed Mezu.
‘Zone Technique: Tidal Wave!’ Mezu slashed the ten Patriots with a single strike, but only five fell. Those remaining thrust through his defensive Zone and ripped the flesh beneath. Pained, he cut through their chainsaw halberds and set about executing the unarmed men one by one.
I will try my best, master.
Biker revved his motorbike. ‘Third wave, go!’
The last ten Patriots rushed Mezu.
‘Zone Technique: Rogue Wave!’ Mezu swung wildly at the Patriots and beheaded one. The rest impaled him with their chainsaw halberds and pushed him backwards towards the nuclear bunker. Professor Soba and the other scientists screamed.
The pain was nothing in comparison to the shame.
Another memory flashed through Mezu’s mind. He had been sitting in the Tarantula House Café with Jack discussing the dishonour his brother Gozu had brought to the Takenaka family.
I don’t get it, Jack had said as he ate a chocolate chip muffin. If you’re from a family of assassins, then how is anything Gozu has done dishonourable to you?
We are not assassins, Mezu had said. We are samurai. We have a code of honour.
Mezu, I know I’m not one to talk, but you kill entire families with the exception of the kids, for Chrissakes! That’s not honourable. You’re a monster like me and every other slasher I’ve ever met. You’re just a little better than Gozu from the sounds of it. And I mean, you say Gozu has been corrupted, but I think the Takenaka family was corrupted by the Udon Family two hundred years ago. They’ve been feeding you a line about you still being samurai while using you as assassins. If I were you, I’d just leave the Yakuza. Figure out what you want to do.
Mezu had ignored Jack’s advice at the time, but now it sounded like the wisest thing he’d ever heard.
What did he want to do?
He looked at Professor Soba.
Just once, I’d like to save the girl instead of ruining her life.
He severed the chainsaw halberds from their polearms and slashed savagely through the Patriots and their quad bikes.
He walked forwards shakily, nine chainsaw halberds through his torso.
Biker was silent.
‘Can I ask you something?’ said Mezu.
‘Sure,’ said Biker.
‘What do you fight for?’
Mezu smiled and nodded. ‘I’ll give you a thrilling battle then.’
Biker revved his motorbike. ‘I’ll come at you with everything I have. Zone Special: Hell on Wheels!’
Biker’s chainsaw wheels cracked the concrete. He did a wheelie and rushed at Mezu, too fast to dodge.
Mezu slowly breathed in and out. ‘Zone Technique: Breaking Wave.’
Mezu let the chainsaw wheel cut him in half.
Then he cut through Biker and his motorbike with one strike.
A memory of him, Gozu, and the Oyabun laughing in the dojo flashed through his mind.
He smiled and fell.