Chaos in the Cherry Blossoms: Chapter 6

Chapter 6: Specters of the Past

Sylvia laid in bed. She hadn’t gotten up to do anything but use the bathroom and occasionally eat in nearly a week. She couldn’t muster the energy to even feed herself most of the days. Her mind was constantly bombarding her with negative thoughts.

Just kill yourself you coward. It’s the only way to end the suffering you’ve inflicted on everyone. He’s never coming back because you always fuck up everything you touch.

Sylvia groaned and looked over at her bedside table where her gun was hanging in its holster slung around the corner of the wooden side table. The silver pistol sat motionless, but looming like a bad omen. Almost as if it was unavoidable; inevitable.

“I told you this is what would happen, but nobody listens to me because I’m the ‘evil’ voice.” Angel said “Although Janice is showing off her mean streak lately.”

“There’s no point, she’s just feeling sorry for herself.” Janice replied

“I’m not feeling sorry for myself.” Sylvia answered indignantly

“Oh, so you’re just crying because your boyfriend left you?” Angel stated

“He’s not my boyfriend, he’s my friend. And he’s the only person left in the world who cared about me.” Sylvia responded out loud, tears welling in her eyes.

And who’s fault is it that he left? Yours, just like it always is.

Sylvia buried her head in her pillow crying. She looked over at the gun again. She reached over to pick it up and for a fleeting second, actually considered using it on herself. The feeling passed, but she continued to sit in her room crying to herself. Eventually, she looked over at the phone in her living room. She was fighting the burning urge to call Shinji, but she thought against it. He had a life to live, and one that was better than any she could ever be involved in. She sighed and sat back down on her bed, still deflated.

Shinji was at his office sitting at his desk, feet up on the oak furniture. He had just gotten out of surgery; a gunshot victim. It was a clean through and through in the arm, so as far as gunshots go, it was a pretty simple procedure, but he was tired. He looked over the photos on his desk, one of them was a picture of when he was younger, he had a fletcher’s glove on and him, Sylvia and Tanaka-san were sitting under a Sakura tree having just completed some bow training. Back then, he always wondered why the hell they bothered to teach archery when guns existed, but he figured that’s why he wasn’t a world class assassin and the other two in the pictures were. He smiled and leaned back. He had started to doze off to sleep when there was a knock on his office door. He got up and went to answer it, but before he could get even most of the way there, the door was kicked in and several masked men rushed into the room.

“Hey what the hell, what’s…” Shinji blurted but one man had grabbed him and thrown a black sack onto his head. He could see nothing but darkness and his breathing was restricted.

“Guys, what the hell is going on?” He asked “If this is about Nikishi, I already told you, he was dead when I got there. I’m sorry but there was nothing I could…”

“Walk.” One of the men said threateningly. Shinji couldn’t see anything but he felt the heavy and cold barrel of a handgun pushing against his ribs.

“You talk, you die, understand?” The man asked ominously

Shinji frantically nodded his head. He had no idea where he was being taken, but he could hear the sounds of the back door to his office being opened. He heard the sound of a vehicle out in the alleyway and eventually a door being opened. The last thing he remembered before being knocked out was being pistol whipped in the back of the head, and then shoved into the back of the car.

When he regained consciousness, the mask was still over his head, but he could feel his arms were zip tied firmly to a chair. His head was foggy, but he could faintly hear people talking in the room. Suddenly the mask was taken off, and two very burly men were standing over him.

“Look, I already said. If you’re mad about…”

“We have no idea who the fuck you’re talking about.” One of the men said “And we don’t care. That’s not what you’re here for.”

“Then why am I here?” Shinji asked

“I think you know why.” The other man said, balling his hand into a fist and slugging Shinji in the gut. Shinji dry heaved and coughed a few times from the blow. “We want the girl you’re working with.”

“Fuck you.” Shinji snarled and braced himself for another punch, which swiftly came, this time to the jaw.

“The girl, tell me where she is and we’ll let you go.” The man repeated

“I’m not selling her out so you can get fucked.” Shinji said, spitting out blood. He readied himself for another punch that never came. 38067362

“That’s it, I’m getting the pliers.” The other man stated frustratedly. As he turned around, an older man had entered the room, which was a padded beige dojo type room, one you’d see at the top of large office buildings. The man stopped his goon by putting a calm hand across his chest. Aiko Matsuhara stood in front of Shinji.

“Amaya-san is it?” Aiko asked tranquilly

“What’s it to you?” Shinji spat again.

“Look, we understand you have been plotting against the family for a while now, coordinating these hits on our men. But it’s not you I’m worried about. It’s the girl working for you. Her name, now.”

“I told you, I’m not telling you shit.” Shinji grunted once more.

Aiko motioned for one of his men to grab something for him, and a few moments later, there was a corded phone being carefully dragged through the room and handed to Aiko.

“Make this easier for all of us. Just get her to come down here and you’re free to go… Provided of course you never show your face on the mainland ever again.” Aiko stated

“I’m not…”

“There’s only one way this ends. You can save yourself the trouble of suffering the… Advanced interrogation techniques.” Aiko said threateningly

Shinji thought for a few moments. “Fine, I’ll call her.” He conceded, disappointed in the fact he had to give up so easily, but Aiko was right, there was no way he was ever leaving without giving up the information. Shinji read the number to Aiko out loud and he dialed it.

Sylvia was sitting on her bed, in between spells of crying. The phone rang and she jumped up. She ran to it and answered after the second ring.

“Hello?” She said excitedly, internally praying it was Shinji, but trying not to get her hopes up.

“Sylvia, it’s me.” Shinji said into the horn of the phone which Aiko was holding up to his face.

“Shinji, look. I’m really sor…” Sylvia started

“Syl, it’s not the time for apologies. The Matsuhara clan has me hostage and they want you.” Shinji explained solemnly

“…”

“Sylvia?”

“Put whoever’s there with you on the phone.” Sylvia replied through gritted teeth

“Sylvia, don’t make this hard. It’s over. Just come here peacefully and…”

“The time for the peaceful option has long since passed.” Sylvia seethed; Shinji could hear the fire in her voice.

“Put the bastard on.”

“She wants to talk to you.” Shinji said, with a resigned sigh. Aiko turned the phone towards himself.

“Sylvia, is it?” he asked but was quickly interrupted

“Listen here ratfucker. This is your last warning.” Sylvia said with an incredible amount of wrath and fury in her voice, to the point that it was quivering. “You let Shinji go now, or I come down there and I kill all of you. Not some of you, every… Single… Last…. One of you motherfuckers. Do you understand me?”

“Your friend will be let go if you just come here peacefully and give yourself up. I think that’s a fair trade.” Aiko reasoned, but Sylvia had hung up the phone. Aiko hung up his end as well and handed the base back to one of his thugs and turned back to Shinji who was just laughing to himself.

“What are you laughing about?” Aiko sneered

“You just pissed off the wrong woman buddy.” Shinji replied with a smirk

“We are the Matsuhara clan, we aren’t afraid of any two-bit hitman.” Aiko said arrogantly

“That isn’t some amateur hitman you were talking to. That was Sylvia fucking Yamazaki.”

“…”

“…Shit.” Aiko responded with a hint of genuine worry in his voice.

Sylvia immediately stood up and got out of bed. She grabbed her gun, her katana and dagger and readied it. From behind a wood panel in the wall, she pulled out 4 throwing knives held in a satchel of cloth, she rolled it out on the counter and used a whetstone to make sure they were at peak sharpness. She grabbed 5 magazines and loaded them up with bullets for her handgun, and then put them into loops in her belt. Two throwing knives were also placed on a holder just above each ankle. She wrapped her katana and tanto around her waist, the dagger hanging in front of it and the katana off to the left side.

“Nothing like a little bit of violent revenge to break you out of a depressive spell, huh?” Angel said eagerly in her head.

“I’m doing this for Shinji because I care about him…” Sylvia thought

“You’re doing it because you love him but don’t have the courage to say it.” Janice teased.

Sylvia pushed the thoughts out of her head, and finally, she threw on her ballistics vest and secured a white Hachimaki headband around her head to keep her hair out of her eyes. The white cloth with a red dot and the Kanji symbols for courage and victory in stark black on opposite sides of the dot.

Sylvia arrived at the site where they were keeping Shinji; the address she had gotten from the weapon crates at the warehouse. The sun was setting and she could see a tall building of at least 4 stories casting its shadow over the neighborhood. The water of the bay was reflecting the pink sunlight as Sylvia stepped out of her car. She checked her gun to make sure a round was chambered and walked towards the structure. She slowly made her way to the front gate where two large men were standing. She waltzed up confidently and stared at both of them.

“Get lost girl.” One snarled

“Yeah, beat it. Mind your own business.” The other added, shortly before they were both instantly dropped with bullets in their heads. Sylvia slithered through the crack in the chain link fence and jogged through the parking lot. She saw another guard exit through the front door and quickly hid around the corner. He was frantically searching for the source of the disturbance. Sylvia pulled out her tanto and spun it around in her left hand, she brought it up to her backhand and held her breath to quiet her breathing, waiting for the man to approach her position. As the guard turned around the corner, she sprang into action, stabbing him from around the corner. The knife dug into his shoulder just below his neck, but he had partially blocked it and then knocked it out of her hands. He went to aim his gun, but Sylvia had pulled his arm towards him, the bullet missing its target. She brought her hand down to knock it out of his hands and then delivered a hard-hitting elbow straight to his face. She used her momentum to roll him onto the ground, she put her knee on his chest with his arm still twisted the opposite direction, breaking the bone with a sickening crack. Another man had burst out of the front doors and was immediately gunned down with a bullet to the chest and another to the head. Sylvia then returned her attention to the other man who was still pinned down and shot one bullet through his head unceremoniously. She flicked her wrist to send the spent magazine out of the gun and reloaded, grabbed her dagger and moved on. She hustled forward through the building, taking down another enemy with two quick shots. She heard reinforcements coming from the stairwell and decided to attempt to take the elevator up instead. The elevator provided a moment of respite as a few of the support had realized what happened and had dispersed to guard the entrances to the elevators.  Sylvia knew she would have a fight on her hands as soon as the silver doors opened so she readied herself. As the doors opened, she blind fired out of the door, killing one man, but another rushed through the door, kicking her and sending the heroine flying to the back side of the elevator, her gun landing a few feet away on the right-hand side. He brought up his gun to shoot, but Sylvia kicked it away from him. The elevator door had closed and now they were stuck together in the claustrophobic confines of the lift. Sylvia went to unsheathe her katana, but he grabbed her hand and stopped her, twisting the arm around making her cry out in pain.

She went with the motion of the arm twist and managed to wrap her legs around the body of the man who was almost twice her size. She reached for her dagger and managed to slice his leg right above the achilles, which drew a massive shout of anguish from her attacker. He had managed to grab her gun and tried to fire off a shot, but Sylvia clutched his wrist, parrying the shot which ricocheted off the wall and back down through the floor of the lift. She pried it from his grasp and stabbed his arm, the blade cutting through flesh and bone. He let out a chilling cry of pain as she cut up his arm horizontally with the blade until he knocked her away with his off hand. The dagger still stuck into his arm, he used his remaining hand to grab Sylvia’s hair and slam her head against the cold steel plating of the elevator. She withstood the harsh shots long enough to calculate her next move. She reached for one of her throwing knives on her ankle and pulled it out, slashing through his wrist on the hand that he was controlling her with. Dark red blood sprayed against the chrome of the wall as he once again cried out in pain. She pushed her weight up against the wall and kicked out, flipping over on top of him. He reached for the knife imbedded in his arm, but she pinned his other hand to the floor and then thrust down repeatedly. He was able to put up just enough resistance to stop her, so she continued to slam her body weight down on him, exhausting what little energy she had remaining to finally jab the short blade into his neck. His body went motionless and Sylvia collapsed to the floor momentarily as the elevator opened.

She paused for a moment and then pulled the knife out of the man’s neck and threw it right as a man entered the doorway. The knife stuck in his chest right below his throat, and Sylvia rolled over to grab her gun from the floor of the elevator. She pulled it up just enough to aim and delivered the deathblow with a bullet to the center of his head as she laid on her back. She recovered her dagger and her throwing knife from the dead men’s bodies and then quickly exited the door before it closed again. She checked and by the signs in the hallway realized she was on the third floor. She reloaded her pistol and made for the stairwell. She was bleeding profusely from her temple, but between her laser focus on the task at hand and the adrenalin coursing through her veins, she didn’t notice.

Meanwhile, in the top of the tower, Shinji, still bloodied and bruised sat in his chair watched as the guards were starting to frenzy a bit.

“Sir, we have to get you out of here! She’s on the third floor!” One of Aiko’s guards exclaimed “C’mon, now. Out the fire escape and around the back.” Another commanded

“No. We are Matsuhara clan men. We stand and fight bravely. Like warriors.” Aiko delegated in his usual calm demeanor. “We are numerous and she is just one hitman. How much longer can she hold out?”

The men nodded and exited the room to stand guard again. Shinji laughed as Aiko turned to him.

“Quiet boy!” he shouted definitively. He turned to the two men in the room with him and motioned for them to disperse.

Shinji chuckled again and spit blood out of his mouth. “Kuro was right. You are an arrogant old man. I told you that wasn’t just some hitman out there.” Shinji replied Aiko punched him in the gut again and Shinji absorbed the blow as if it barely phased him anymore.

Sylvia entered the door to the stairwell and was immediately met with another guard, who she took out uneventfully. The staircase spiraled downward with the edges and rails of the proceeding turns covering the ones below it. She heard footsteps from above her and before she knew it, there was another man jumping down from overhead, swinging from the rails of the floor above and kicking the gun out of her hand. The gun bounced off the stairs and then down the stairwell. He reached for his gun but Sylvia wrestled it from his grasp. It fell down the stairs a bit and the man quickly pulled out a K-bar knife. Sylvia reached for her katana and unsheathed it, pointing the blade at the man. He looked over at his gun a way down on the flight of stairs and bolted for it. Sylvia reacted by pulling out a throwing knife and throwing it at him. The blade caught him in the leg and he fell to the ground. He was slowly crawling towards the gun when Sylvia jumped down and walked toward him. He desperately crawled toward the gun and in a last-ditch effort, pulled the knife from his leg and threw it back at Sylvia who had continued walking towards him menacingly. She deflected the weak throw mid-air with her katana, parrying it easily to the side, the small blade clattering to the porcelain floor. He finally had gotten close enough to reach for the gun, but Sylvia cut the hand nearest the gun clean off, and before he could even finish his scream of pain and terror, Sylvia flipped the blade around and plunged it into the space between his neck and shoulder, killing him instantly. She flicked the blood off her sword and sheathed it. She picked up her throwing knife, wiped it off and then picked up the gun. She checked if a round was chambered and then released the magazine, seeing that there were 6 bullets left.

She made her way up the stairs and right as she got to the top floor, she heard the steps of another man coming from below her on the stairwell. She ducked behind the rail and aimed her commandeered pistol, a cheap black, hard plastic Chinese hunk of junk in the direction of the sounds. She fired two shots that missed their target as the man moved closer to her. She fired another shot that missed. The man fired a few rounds back, they missed to the right of her. She moved slightly to change the angle on her shot and got a much cleaner view of the man hiding beneath the overlapping stairs leading downwards. She shot twice more, one shot hit the target in the arm, leading him to drop his gun. Sylvia jumped down the stairs and aimed at the man, pulling the trigger on her gun, but no bullet fired. She quickly kicked the gun away from the man and then moved to grab him around the waist. He fought her off for some time, delivering a heavy elbow to her jaw, but eventually she wrapped her arms fully around his waist and suplexed him into the rail. His head collided with the metal, but he still stood up. Sylvia reached for her dagger and he delivered a weak but effective right hook to her face. He tried to follow up, but Sylvia parried the blow, slashed him in the shoulder and then flipped him over the rail, the sound of his screams echoing throughout the stairwell as he fell.

Sylvia advanced to the doorway to the final room of the building, it was a dojo-esque room with many paper dividers with an altar and a large area in the center of padded, beige carpet. She heard a guard standing just inside the entrance of the area which had a sliding screen door. She could see his shadow through the screen from the light in the room. She held her breath and slowly made her way to the door, dagger in one hand, throwing knife in the other. As she approached the doorframe, she thrust her dagger through the door and into the man’s neck, his blood spraying onto the screen and casting spots of deep crimson light into the adjacent hallway.   The room was empty except for the suit of old, worn samurai armor that was placed above the altar. Sylvia slowly made her way through the room, checking any corners for signs of movement. She shook off her dagger to free it of the blood and sheathed it.

“Wow, you are getting sloppy.” Angel remarked in her head. “You weren’t even counting your bullets.” Sylvia paused for a moment, completely taken aback by hearing the voice in her head. Usually, they were completely silent, her mind totally clear while in the thick of battle, but now the voices spoke once again. This feeling was completely alien to her, but she ignored it an pushed on. As she reached the center of the room, an older man appeared from one of the two doors leading to adjacent rooms. Aiko was wearing a silken kimono and had a katana in its scabbard around his waist.

“I’m willing to admit I underestimated you, Yamizaki-chan.” He said in their native language “I thought surely 20 of my best trained men would have been enough to take you down, but I now see first hand why you are considered such a legend.” The two were slowly moving towards each other, Sylvia didn’t speak, just stared at the man with a scowl on her face.

“Hm, so persistent, strong and resilient, just like your mother.” Aiko said with a wry smile.

“And what do you know about my mother?” Sylvia snarled back at him.

Aiko just rolled up the sleeves on his kimono, reading himself for battle. As he rolled up the sleeves, it revealed the faded tattoo of a dragon battling a tiger on his right forearm. Aiko knew exactly what he was doing by showing his tattoo, one that Sylvia would recognize anywhere.

“It was you who killed my parents.” Sylvia stated crossly, her hand now hovering over the hilt of her katana. “I recognize that tattoo from the news footage of the murder.”

“You’re a smart and keen girl. Driven too. Something that more of my men could aspire to be.” Aiko stated.

“I don’t wish to talk anymore.” Sylvia said, her voice quivering in anger. She reached for the hilt of her blade and used her thumb to pull it up from the scabbard. She relinquished her blade taking an overhead grip and pointed its tip towards him. Aiko also unsheathed his sword and held it out straight in front of him. The two circled each other, waiting for the moment to strike. Aiko quickly let loose two downwards strikes which Sylvia parried easily.

“You know, I used to be a skilled assassin myself.” Aiko said “But surely you of all people know that.” He said slyly with a pointed smile.

He unleased a flurry of surprisingly quick slashes, Sylvia deflected them, but despite his movements being stiff, there was astonishing agility and power behind the strikes. She retaliated by thrusting her blade toward him, but he swept it aside and kicked her away. It was not a calculated blow in any way, as she was acting out of pure anger.  The pair of fighters distanced themselves again, circling around the room. The tension was building as the two looked for an opening. The old man lashed out again, a diagonal slash that Sylvia parried upward, and then two vertical overhead strikes which lead to a clashing of blades. Sylvia held the swords above her head and gave Aiko a glare.

“You have your mother’s eyes.” He laughed. Sylvia broke the stalemate and lunged at him, he parried several swipes and then struck a jab that grazed her right shoulder, drawing blood.

Sylvia fell back and recomposed herself, holding the hilt of her blade in a forehand grip, her right hand near the base of the sword. The two stood still for a moment, and Sylvia lashed out again with a pair of vertical strikes.  The two locked swords once more, this time out in front of them.

“Please, tell me Sylvia. Why risk your life for some lowly doctor?” Aiko questioned, gritting his teeth trying to hold the swords together.

“You took everybody I’ve ever cared about from me. My mother… Master Umata… I’m not letting you take Shinji too.” The fighters disengaged and fell back.

“Age may have caught up to me, but you don’t ever forget how to be a swordsman.” Aiko claimed

 The old man brought the sword down to his side and struck out a quick slash which nearly caught Sylvia in the midsection, but she sidestepped it. Sylvia then quickly pivoted her feet, moving in short zigzag pattern, she feinted right and then struck left. The first blow was parried, but Sylvia turned her sword to the backhand and slashed through Aiko’s torso with the second. Aiko’s breath became labored as he looked down slowly to see that his gut had been cut open by the strike. He fell forward to his knees and then to the floor. Sylvia rolled his body over and grabbed him by the collar of his shirt. He was still alive, but barely. His clothes were soaked with blood and his chest barely able to draw breath. Sylvia grabbed him by the throat and started slamming his head against the floor with as much force as she could muster. His face and head had started to swell and bruise, but she kept forcefully smashing it against the floor, even throwing in some haymakers as well. His face bloody and battered to the point of being unrecognizable, Sylvia finally wrapped her hands around Aiko’s throat and strangled the last bit of remaining breath out him. She didn’t stop until she could see the life leaving his eyes. She gave an anguished yell and slammed his head to the floor one final time. She got up, and caught her breath before looking for Shinji, her hands shaking uncontrollably. Sylvia wiped the blood off her katana using her forearm joint, then slowly walked over to the door which led to the room where Shinji was at. She ran up to him in the chair and lifted his head up. He was barely conscious and had sustained a rather severe beating. Sylvia gently pushed the blood encrusted black hair out of his eyes.

“Shinji, are you ok?” She asked urgently

“I’m… I’m fine Sylvia.” He answered faintly.  “I can’t believe you actually came to get me.” He added with bit of a laugh.

“Of course, I did Shinji. I wasn’t ready to lose another person who cared about me.” She pulled out her tanto and cut the zip ties off his hands. She put the dagger back and embraced him as he fell forward into her arms. She kissed him on the cheek and then helped him to his feet.

“I… I don’t think I can walk Sylvia.” He said feebly. Sylvia nodded and slung his arm around her shoulders and slowly started carrying him back through the room. He glanced over and looked at the disfigured body of Aiko, laying in a massive pool of his own blood.

“Jesus Syl.” He said under his breath. She carried him to the elevator and dropped him to the floor. The radio in the elevator was playing Frank Sinatra’s “Fly Me to the Moon.” Sylvia slid down the wall slowly and sat down next to Shinji. The short elevator ride offered a bit of respite and time to ruminate on what had just happened. Sylvia began to cry softly as the lift slowly made its way to the ground floor. Sylvia looked at her hands, covered in blood and then down at her clothes which were in a similar state. In the reflection of the metal in the elevator’s side paneling, she could see that her Hachimaki headband was stained nearly entirely red with blood.  Her crying turned to sadistic, uncontrollable laughter as the music entered the instrumental break.