I stood in stunned silence, my hands pounding against the vault door.
“Type the command go on the console in the middle of the vault!”
My eyes wildly scanned around the dark space I was in, the darkness was daunting, but I was able to make out the dim glow of the console in the distance.
LB flew out of her hiding spot and nudged me as she gave me a thin beam to light my way to the console.
“Find your mother and I when you wake—” a loud gunshot cracked through the sudden silence and I could hear a thud and groaning coming through the door.
“You’ve got nowhere to go, Yin, open the door and maybe you’ll have a quicker death than the Captain here,” I could hear the sneer beyond the door, and I felt goosebumps make its way up my arms.
“You know I’d do it again,” came a second voice that chilled me to the bone as I felt cold rage flood through my body. I had heard that voice coming through my communications devices too often to mistake it for someone else’s.
Johna, that little shit was always more slimy than he was straight, it was one thing seeing him on the rooftop, but rage and fury rushed through my mind as I pieced two and two together.
Hearing Captain’s groans, I felt determined, he must have had a plan- he would not have left me in here like a caged bird destined for slaughter.
I hastily entered the command and smacked the button without hesitation. For Captain, I thought. I’ll find a way to make it right.
Pausing for a moment as the console recognised the command, I doubted my sudden resolve until I felt gravity ease for a moment, and I started to float.
I watched as LB struggled to stay level, but found it hard to hover, adjusting one way and the other but flipping over. Reaching out, I pulled LB closer and tucked her where I knew it would be safe.
Looking around the room, I wondered if a gravitational anomaly was part of Captain’s plan. His words lingered in my mind; there was no way I was going to find him or my mother in this room.
As though on cue, the edges of the room seemed to shift and picked up speed as it started spinning. I stayed in the same position as I struggled with my peripheral vision shifting, taking on the dull lights and buildings of Tokyo, then fading in a bright flash of light which I tried to block out with my palms.
Bright light hit my watering eyes as I hastily blinked to take in my surroundings. I lowered my palm as the light grew gentler and the throbbing sounds of nothing were suddenly replaced by a cacophony of sounds.
I spun around quickly and gazed at my surroundings. Tall buildings I’d never seen before now surrounded me. People in suits brushing past me as if I didn’t exist.
Since when did the wealthy travel by foot???
I took a step forward just as a loud honking brought my attention back to the present. A classic car had just stopped dead in front of me. I don’t remember the last time I saw a car with wheels!
I looked around for any indication on where I am, clearly I wasn’t in Tokyo anymore but how did this happen???
A sign near me had Shinjuku Station on them, but the area felt foreign to me. I surveyed my surroundings a little more carefully, was this really near Shinjuku Station?
The bustling streets were nothing like I knew, it felt like an alien world. Since the radiation had caused many to stay away from the area, this felt strange seeing so many people out and about.
I knew the area around Shinjuku Station like the back of my hand, and nothing felt familiar in this area.
Through the crowd of people going about their day, I felt the gaze of someone intently staring in my direction. I heard the sound of footsteps approaching as I hurriedly regained focus, to see a young man walking in my direction.
“Are you Yin?”
I swiveled my eyes away from my settings to study this person in more detail.
“Yes…?” I managed to respond in a cautious tone, surely if he posed a threat to me, I would be able to handle it just fine.
“My name is Tatsuya Kamaha, but others call me the Captain.”
The conversation seemed a little lacking as I cautiously followed Tatsuya- no, Captain to the Shinjuku Station through the park. I marveled at the changes that were made in the short time for Shinjuku to become the setting that I had come to know.
My footsteps clattered against the paving stones in the river system as I made mental notes, in awe of how different things felt from the Shinjuku I knew by heart.
“Mizuki!” Tatsuya called out.
A tall slender woman peeked up at the mention of her name, she smiled gently at Tatsuya approaching while she glanced at me cautiously.
Tatsuya casually gestured at me, “Meet Yin.”
“Yin, meet the brains of the operation,” he gestured at Mizuki as she smiled almost warmly, she interjected with, “Just call me Mizuki, ‘brains of the operation’ doesn’t quite have the same flow.”
There’s no way! It can’t be? I could feel the tears swelling up. It’s been so long since I’ve seen her!!
“Mu….. Tatsuya, how did you know where to find me?”
It’s impossible they would know I'm here, so how could they know?
Tatsuya looked at Mizuki before reaching inside his white lab coat. Out of his top pocket he pulled a letter. There was no mistaking the seal on the front, I’d seen the Captain (well my Captain) use it many times previously for documents we needed to transport.
“I didn’t believe it either but this letter said I was to meet someone who could help us with our cause who goes by the name Yin?”
Help your cause? Does he mean the early days of Dragon's Breath? He used to always tell me stories as a kid but I don’t remember how they went.
“Before that though, why don’t we head somewhere a little quieter?” Tatsuya gestured and I followed. We entered Shinjuku station as a three. I’ve never seen it like this before!
It looks and feels like a real train station. Even though I’ve memorised all these corridors, it doesn’t feel at all like the one in the future.
I really have travelled to the past…
“I’m sure this must be all a little confusing for you, Yin.” Looking away from Mizuki, Tatsuya looked at me and winked. “But don’t worry, I’ll explain it all to you shortly.”
We approached a ticket gate and Tatsuya swiped a card for all of us. We went up the stairs and boarded the train.
All of this felt so surreal to me. Since the explosion of Shinjuku, no trains ran down the east side anymore because of the flooding and unstable grounds. Wait, didn’t that explosion happen around this time?
After a few stops we got off the train and headed towards the canals just past the station exit. We headed down the stairs and into the tunnels before coming past a vault style door.
I guess his preferences never changed as he got older huh.
As we entered, Tatsuya closed the door tight behind and flicked the switch. The base lit up bright in front of me. Now this felt more like home. Weapons lined the left side wall with electronic devices strewed all over the centre bench. Computer monitors lined the right side all showing different information.
Really does feel like home.
Mizuki came over to me and handed me some cold water.
“Perhaps you could help us though, we are in a bit of a stump as to what we can name our little organization.” Mizuki nudged me gently.
I paused, “Well, Dragons Breath has a nice ring to it…?”
Mizuki beamed, as she nodded, “I think it does too! Captain, we’re going with Dragon’s Breath!”
Tatsuya and Mizuki offered to show me around the base and I graciously accepted their offer, thanking them for their hospitality.
We passed by a little girl running around and for a moment, I glanced at my younger self who looked up at me, her expression full of curiosity. Our eyes locked for a moment before I continued on.
“Oh that’s my daughter, Yin- you both share the same name! She’s an absolutely loveable bundle.” Mizuki beamed at me proudly before sending me off with Tatsuya who promptly resumed the tour as Mizuki stayed back with younger Yin..
Tatsuya explained that he and Mizuki were contractors for the largest security company that supplied Japan with defense weapons, “With the increasing threat that the external world poses, we need to make sure that Japan is ready for any threat. As such we have orchestrated a showcase on an unmanned military base and make it look like an attack on Japan- we’re hoping that this shows the big cats on the top that we are a viable investment to keep Japan ready against any threats externally.”
He paused at the door of his office as he gestured at some plans he had drawn up, a scattering of writing in his messy scrawl and a neater variation- I had no doubt they were Mizuki’s contributions. I remarked on how precise the approach seemed and Tatsuya remarked that they had a very generous benefactor that was in their corner.
“I assume your presence here and now is a bleak indication of our future.”
I nodded solemnly, “A very bleak future, I am here to try and make a mark which might change the future where I am from. Everything is under control, oppressed by the bigwigs on top.”
Tatsuya frowned slightly, “I assume this means we might have failed in our goal.”
Having come to the end of our tour, Tatsuya looked like he had plenty on his mind. He glanced up to look at what was unmistakably a younger Jane, “I assume you would have met Jane before, I’ll leave you two to be reacquainted. We could use you for the Operation to blow up the unmanned base later tonight.”
I nodded as Tatsuya headed off and I entered the space that Jane worked in.
“Jane?” I asked quietly; in a bid to not be overheard. I had figured that if there was anyone here that I could trust, it would be one of the people I trusted with my life in the future. Her source of intelligence has always been reliable, and she has repeatedly proven to have my best interests at heart.
Jane swiveled around to look at me, she smiled a little gently, though I could feel she was a little cautious. Her behavior was a stark difference to what I had become accustomed to. I felt like Jane in the future would have already beamed and jumped up, enveloping me in the biggest bear hug that she could muster.
LB buzzed from my pocket as it levitated up into the air, recognising younger Jane. She flitted up and nuzzled Jane who reacted in surprise. A glimmer of future recognition sparked in her eyes, she gasped with interest as she lifted her palm and LB settled into it.
“This looks like something I’ve been wanting to make!” She picked up LB and gingerly rotated her as she gasped before she dashed over to her drawer, unveiling the plans she pulled from her drawer. The sketches were rough but it was definitely LB in the works.
I lightly coughed, to draw attention away from LB “I was wondering if you could help me with something, discreetly.”
Jane’s wide eyes stayed affixed on me, with all the attention she could muster while she held on to LB.
“There was a very significant event that happened in my life, and I need you to help me look up someone who is central to it all.”
I did my best to avoid mentioning my mother’s death. I hoped that somehow by getting research done in time and by finding the figure in black, that perhaps, I might be able to avoid it altogether.
Leaving Jane with a description of the figure in black, I headed off to ensure that I was ready for the mission in the evening.