Synopsis: A fast-paced story about a youngster who loses everything and everyone he holds dear. Through the only family that still remains with him, his uncle, he gets to choose to dedicate his focus and attention to blacksmithing rather than to fall into depression and street life...
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Finally, Kai forced himself out of bed. He saw the breakfast left on the table, remembered that he should eat. It was necessary – fight in the evening.
He had no idea what was going on in Toyami’s soul. He had something to do and think about, and he forgot about Toyami as soon as he left.
Once again looking through his notes, he put together, like a mosaic, the cipher of the code. He could not be wrong. He should not. And he would not be wrong! Kai smiled, realizing that he had solved the code.
“Mister Kai, you are expected at the council of war,” Kunayo bowed politely, who personally came for Kai, thereby expressing his respect for him.
Everyone was already in the tent when Kai entered. On the table maps were spread, reports from the fronts. Computer monitors were working, showing the latest reports.
After exchanging bows, Kai went to the table and, without asking permission, began to carefully study all the papers lying there. It was important for him to understand what was happening now and how they would get there without making a noise, and, most importantly, they would get out when the noise rose.
“There is an approximate plan of action, it has been worked out by Mr. Reiko, now he will voice it to you,” Mr. Yuzuru made it clear with a gesture that Reiko could speak.
The plan was simple, but that was the reality of its execution. The bottom line was that no one expected them to appear there. And the second group would provide them with a retreat, which would make a distracting attack on the camp from the other side.
Discussion of details began, coordination of time, conditioned signals, the arrangement of all – who, where, and for what was responsible.
The main thing was to provide Kai with a passage to the safe. Reiko was supposed to be outside the tent. Kai, Toyami, and his people inside, as there could be clan warriors inside and they needed to be quietly neutralized.
“How long do you really need to open it?” clarified Reiko.
“Five minutes,” Kai scanned the situation on the monitor, “the distracting group cannot be sent from the side of this hollow. Look!” he pointed to Reiko’s monitor, “what the satellite shows us. I think these are the people of Al-Hedin, and they are preparing an attack on the Miota camp. Who else knows about the cards in this safe?”
“None. Maybe a coincidence?”
“I don’t believe in coincidences. We reschedule the beginning of the operation for eleven in the evening – otherwise, we may not be in time.”
“It’s early, risky,” all this time Toyami was silent, listened, and again admired Kai, his art of being a leader, a commander. After all, now, here he took all control, subjugating everyone imperceptibly to his will, and even Reiko carried out his instructions.
Kai’s eyes flashed again with crazy lights.
“Those who are not afraid of risk will go with me!”
Toyami looked down, realizing that Kai almost accused him of cowardice in front of everyone, but he did not even notice, being keen on planning the operation.
Laughing was heard behind Toyami. Nobody had ever treated the great warrior Toyami like that.
At the table, discussion began to boil again: now it was necessary to re-plan everything. Kai had his plan and everyone obeyed his will.
“Gathering is at exactly nine in the evening. We won’t go earlier, so as not to be exposed,” Kai turned to Toyami, who was standing with a stone face on the other side of the table, “Will you give me a weapon at least? Or are you afraid to take risks?”
Toyami turned pale from another attack in his address. Holding back his anger, he replied in a calm voice:
“You will choose it yourself.”
Kai again leaned towards the monitor, losing interest in Toyami, and while everyone continued to discuss the plan of the operation, he moved on to view what interested him – the file with the deployment of the Kazuki clan camps. He immediately realized that there was information not for him, and was waiting for the moment to open this data file.
Makota, who stayed close to Kai and kept his eyes on him, was the first to see that Kai had opened the secret file. He knew it! Therefore, Makota watched him. Kai is the enemy! It’s a pity that everyone hasn’t figured it out yet.
Makota pushed Kai away from the monitor sharply and hit him in the face, the blow was hard. Kai flew to the side, spun, and grabbed the sword from its scabbard from one of the warriors, who watched this picture in amazement and did not even have time to react to Kai’s movements.
In the next second, Kai put his sword to Makota’s throat. Makota froze, feeling the coldness of the steel in his throat as it cut painfully into his skin.
“Makota, what’s the matter?” Yuzuru, like everyone else, stood and was silent, not moving, watching what was happening.
“Look at the monitor – he has read the secret files!” Makota croaked, looking into Kai’s eyes.
“Kai, put Makota down,” Yuzuru said.
There was silence in the tent. Everyone was waiting.
On impact, Makota cut Kai’s lip, and now there was blood coming out. Kai’s eyes flashed hatefully and he threw his sword sharply.
“You are a dangerous and very serious opponent. It is a pity that in the future we will have to fight on different sides,” Yuzuru looked into Kai’s green eyes, “Punish the one who has left the extra files unencrypted. It’s your own fault. Toyami, take Kai to the tent, let him stay there until the operation begins. Give him the weapon before leaving,” Yuzuru finished his speech.
Since Kai was still staring at Makota, Toyami put his arm around his shoulders slightly, pushing him toward the exit.
“Take a handkerchief, your lip is bleeding,” Toyami handed Kai his handkerchief.
They walked in silence to the tent, went inside.
“I’ve stained your handkerchief.”
At this, Toyami smiled sadly.
“Do you always walk on the razor’s edge?” Toyami asked Kai.
There was no answer, Kai was sitting absently on the couch, lost in thought.
Toyami took out a first-aid kit and sprinkled antiseptic on a cotton swab.
“Allow to wash the wound – it will heal faster.”
He walked over to Kai, lifted his chin with his hand, and very carefully applied the cotton swab to his cracked lip. Their eyes met. Kai saw the sadness in Toyami’s eyes. He wanted to push him away with his over-concern for a minor scratch. But, seeing his eyes, he softened – let him do it.
Toyami would have stood forever, holding his face and peering into his eyes. First, a spark of anger flashed there, but then they relented, why?
Having finished treating the wound, Toyami pulled back, realizing that there was no need to go too far with this person.
“Where did you get this fighting technique, this movement? I couldn’t be wrong. This is taught only in the Shao monastery in Tibet,” Toyami still remembered Kai’s soft smooth movements, when he used the energy of the fall to his advantage, drawing out a sword.
“I lived there for a while… studied,” Kai smiled, “I thought: I’ll die for sure. I don’t even remember the days there. I only remember fights, then blackouts, then cold water pouring on you to wake up, and again fights,” he smiled again, “They fed nasty there, even I realized that I didn’t like it – they gave some pods and an evil-tasting brew in bowls.” He winced at the memory. Then, after a pause, he suddenly said, “I want wine.”
Toyami wanted to argue because they had to go soon.
“I don’t like the taste of blood in my mouth,” Kai explained, seeing the objections on Toyami’s face.
Toyami brought wine, opened it, and poured it into a glass. Kai glanced down at the bottle.
“Château Haut Brion Rouge, made in Bordeaux. One of my favorites. How did you guess?” asked Kai and like a child, immediately losing interest in the answer, switching to another topic, reached for the sweets, “Damn it, and I can’t eat the candy – it hurts to chew. For victory!” wincing in pain, he drank the wine. It hurt to swallow.
“This is the last. Stop drinking for today,” Toyami poured another glass.
“Well, this is too much. Have you decided how I should live?”
“Yes! You are like a child: you don’t restrain yourself, someone has to look after you,” having puzzled Kai with such an answer when he was clearly running into a conflict, Toyami got up from his chair.
“Have a rest. Now I have things to do. I’ll have been back by eight,” without turning around, feeling Kai’s amazed look on him, Toyami left, taking the bottle of wine with him.
“Like a child,” Toyami smiled. Now he had someone to take care of.
Kai leaned back on the couch. The wine relaxed his nerves a little. He took great risks opening these files. But he always takes risks. There was quite interesting and new information for him, which was imprinted in his brain. He would think about this later. His memory had an amazing ability to remember everything that he saw or read at least in passing, and then emerge in his brain at the right moment.
All this time, he practically did not remember the events of these two weeks. The people he operated on. Although occasionally the memories returned him there, but probably the presence of Toyami nearby somehow favorably influenced his attitude. He even somewhere inside was grateful to him for it, for dispelling his nightmare. Probably, Toyami’s non-standard behavior and everything that happened between them had such a beneficial effect on his peace of mind. Although the phrase “happened between them” he did not like at all – somehow it sounded ambiguous. All this is nonsense. Thinking about this, Kai fell asleep.
Leaving Kai Toyami once again felt dumbfounded – again he opened up something new in this guy. A fight in the tent, in a split second Kai’s reaction to the blow. The view of him with an outstretched hand holding a sword to Makot’s throat. A fluttering kimono, hair falling over his eyes, lips red with blood. It was beautiful, very. And the others, too, stood there, fascinated, and looked at this picture.
And then Kai’s confession that he was in the Shao monastery. Very few people survive there. There are two ways: either you become a warrior, or you die. And he went through it.
And in the end, he was struck down by Kai’s knowledge of good wines. He brought this wine on purpose, wanted to check him out. Yes, Kai is very good at wine. What aristocratism! And then this chocolate bar – he was upset as a little one that he could not eat it.
When Toyami returned to the tent, Kai had already changed into the clothes he had brought for the night raid. It was a ninja kimono, all black to blend in with the night.
Toyami froze again at the sight of Kai in this kimono. In black, he was formidable and handsome. Black harem pants were tucked into boots, a tight belt was around a thin waist, a kimono, gloves, and a black forehead band. Looking at him, he even forgot that he had brought swords for Kai and himself.
“What a sword!” ignoring the frozen Toyami, Kai snatched one of the swords from his hands. He pulled it out of its scabbard and, to test its sharpness, crumbled the hanging curtain with a few strokes.
“I hope you don’t get upset about this rag?”
Toyami had to take this for granted, he inhaled quietly.
“You’ve chosen the best sword. Here are some more daggers. Choose yourself.”
“And a silenced pistol is still needed.”
“Well, now they will bring,” he did not even object to Kai.
“Well, let’s go! It’s the time!” Kai was already there, in the events of the coming evening.
At first, Toyami wanted to detain him in order to say that he was asking him to be careful, but then he realized, looking at Kai, that he would not be more accurate. This was a true warrior in anticipation of the coming battle.
All were dressed in black kimonos, only silver swords gleamed dully at their belts. They got into several cars. Kai was put in the back seat, Reiko sat next to him. In the front, there was Toyami in the passenger seat and the driver. Reiko handed over headphones for the safe to Kai in the car.
They drove in silence.
Having left in advance in the gorge to hide the cars, they walked towards the camp. Sometimes Toyami felt that Kai was not walking, but floating gently above the ground. There was not a single rustle, twig crackling, there were only soft feline movements. Toyami inseparably followed him with his men.
Then, just as quietly, they began to make their way through the sleeping camp. Of course, it was better to do this later, but Al-Hedin thwarted their plans.
Although they knew that according to the military regime at ten in the evening everyone should be in their tents, but many were still awake. Therefore, we had to be extremely careful.
By crawling and in small dashes, they reached the main tent. Reiko neutralized one guard; the warrior Toyami – the second one at the entrance. They quickly entered the tent, there were still soldiers. Each rushed to his opponent. Toyami saw Kai walking towards the safe, killing opponents on his path. A few swings of the sword – and the enemy writhed at his feet. The last one who had blocked the path by swinging the sword, he simply shot from a pistol with a silencer. It seemed that this did not even distract him from his main goal – to approach the safe.
Time was running out. At any second they could be caught, or Al-Hedin would launch an attack on the camp. Kai focused on the safe. He put on his headphones and started to pick up the code. Now for him, the surrounding reality ceased to exist. He recalled everything he had learned yesterday about the owner of the safe, calculated the probabilities in his mind mathematically, and listened to the prompts – the barely audible grinding of the mechanism inside. The first number was correct. Something cracked inside the safe, very quiet, almost imperceptible.
Toyami saw that two people were approaching Kai, and he was completely focused on the safe and stopped paying attention to his surroundings. Toyami rushed to intercept, hitting one immediately on the spot, intercepting the blade of another warrior falling on Kai and, furiously striking blows with his sword, began to push the enemy to a safer distance.
“Well, they almost killed him, but he didn’t even notice,” Toyami thought, inflicting a fatal blow on the enemy with his sword.
Explosions rang out in the distance. This meant Al-Hedin had launched an offensive. On the one hand, it was good for them – chaos would begin. On the other hand, if they did not get out of here, they would be caught by his gang.
All numbers had matched, now a word. If the numbers had matched, then only one word could be here. And Kai dialed it.
Toyami was there. Seeing that Kai was typing a word and now press confirmation, he leaned over to him and put his hand on his shoulder as a sign of support.
The safe door opened slowly.
Reiko pushed Kai aside and took the contents of the safe for himself.
“It will be better,” he said, “let’s go!”
They began to retreat to the exit. There was panic on the street. At first, they were not noticed, but then it began!
They swung their swords. It had been a long time since Kai had such an opportunity to fight like that. He took the second sword and fought with two hands. This was seen by Toyami, who barely had time to follow him towards the gorge.
Having already reached the end of the camp, several opponents attacked Toyami at once. His warriors in the heat of battle fell behind him. He was one – there were three of them. He dropped two of them at once, a battle ensued with the third, but, retreating under the onslaught of the enemy back, Toyami stumbled on a rope stretched near the tent. And in a split second, he was lying. A raised sword flashed over him.
He didn’t even understand what had happened. The hand with the sword flew in one direction, the head – in the other.
Kai bent down to him, holding out his hand.
“Why are you lying like this? Let’s go faster,” and, seizing him by the hand, dragged him away towards the cars.
Their car went first. Reiko had valuable cargo in the form of schemes. Kai protested that it was necessary to wait for the others, but Reiko asked him in a voice that sounded like metal to get into the car.
Arriving at the camp, they decided that all discussions would be left for the morning.
Returning with Toyami to his tent, Kai could not resist and expressed everything that he thought about them, samurai, who abandon their own and, without waiting, leave!
“There was a car,” Toyami tried to wearily argue, “we don’t even know who will return and who to wait.”
Kai glared at him angrily.
“This is the samurai tradition. The main thing is to complete the task, and these are the schemes. Everyone has fulfilled their duty to the end.”
Kai realized that it was stupid to argue and reached for the cigarettes on the table. Toyami saw his palm. He grabbed his hand, turned his palm up, and turned his gaze to Kai.
“Don’t worry,” Kai saw Toyami’s worried face, “I usually fight with gloves. It’s always like this with me – the skin on my palms is ripped off from the sword. This is a trifle; it will heal up.”
Kai tried to remove his hand from Toyami’s ones, but Toyami did not let go. Toyami pulled Kai closer to him and took his other hand. There was the same picture – the palms were ripped off.
“Did you have gloves?”
“I forgot them at the safe, or rather, took them off when I opened the safe, and then there was no time to put them on.”
“Sit down at the table, I will now anoint your palms with ointment – by morning everything will heal. This ointment is from Japan; my teacher gave it to me. It cures everything,” Toyami smiled, pushing Kai to the chair.
Kai sat down, realizing that his palms still needed to be processed, otherwise they wouldn’t heal for a long time.
“You have such delicate skin,” Toyami brought ointment, cotton wool, bandages, “it even didn’t get rough here.
“Yes, that’s my problem. I always have to put on gloves, and if I can’t, this happens,” Kai watched Toyami carefully remove dirt from his palms with a cotton swab with a disinfecting solution.
“Does it sting?” Toyami saw that Kai grimaced. “He bent down to his palm and blew on it.”
“Not anymore. Okay now,” Kai said and realized it sounded ambiguous.
“But what nonsense! He is just handling my palms,” Kai reassured himself, realizing that he felt strange looking at Toyami’s focused face.
“This is the second time you’ve been treating my hands,” Kai recalled.
“I like it,” Toyami said seriously. “Or rather, I didn’t mean to say that. I’m sorry that this is happening to your hands through my fault for the second time,” Toyami raised his eyes to Kai, “but I like to take care of you.”
Kai felt suddenly hot, he looked away and again felt Toyami blowing on his palm, removing the effect of the antiseptic. Kai felt the warmth and tenderness of Toyami’s hands, as he carefully applied the ointment to the ripped palms, and then, applying a thick piece of cotton wool, he carefully bandaged the hands. Kai tried to calm his pounding pulse and panting breath. He forced himself to count to a hundred, banishing strange thoughts from his head.
Toyami let go of his hands.
“That’s it! I’ll take off the bandages in the morning.”
“Thank you,” Kai looked away, realizing that his eyes would betray the storm in his soul, with which he had been fighting all this time.
“You’re welcome. And now they have brought dinner!” Toyami turned to the servants, who brought trays and began to set for dinner a low table by the sofa.
After waiting for the plates with food to be set on the table, Toyami stood up and turned to Kai:
“Let’s go have dinner.”
Kai walked away, still in a strange state. As he sat down at the table, he realized that thick cotton wool tied to his palms made it impossible to grip the fork in his hand. Toyami understood that too.
“I will feed you, do you mind?”
Toyami sat down next to Kai, took his fork and, pricking a piece of cauliflower in batter on it, dipped it in the sauce and brought it all to Kai’s mouth.
Kai opened his mouth, realizing that he did not yet know what to say and how to act. Probably, he was hungry, although the feeling of hunger had not pursued him for a long time, but he ate it with pleasure, and the piece brought to his lips was again on time. Kai even thought he could taste the food. Yes, it was delicious and he was hungry for more.
Toyami saw this and from under half-lidded eyes looked at Kai as he gladly took pieces of food from the fork with his lips.
On the plate, there was boiled fish, as requested by Kai. Toyami hooked it with a fork, but it crumbled, then he smiled slyly and looked at Kai.
“If you don’t mind, will I give it to you with my hands?”
Kai nodded, not yet fully understanding the meaning of what was said.
Toyami took a small piece of fish from Kai’s plate with his fingers and, dipping it in the sauce, brought it to Kai’s lips.
Kai opened his mouth, feeling Toyami gently placing food for him, and feeling his fingers on his lips.
Kai slowly chewed a piece, realizing that now everything around him was as if in a fog and only Toyami’s hand, his well-groomed fingers with fish pieces in the sauce, approaches his lips, and then, as in a dream, he felt his fingers touching his lips slightly and for some reason it became good. But the main thing was that everything around, everything that was important and meaningful disappeared, only these touches remained.
Toyami tried not to betray his condition in any way. He remained indifferently calm, but in fact, he had long been thrown into the heat and then into the cold. He saw Kai’s lips, how the guy opened his mouth in a childish way and allowed him to put food, how then his lips and tongue, touching his fingers, wash off the sweet viscous sauce from them.
“That’s all,” Toyami said in perplexity and detachment, realizing that Kai’s plate was empty.
Kai heard this and tried to understand what the man was talking about, but then, looking down, he saw his empty plate. Kai was surprised – he ate everything for the first time and didn’t even notice it.
Toyami reached out to Kai’s lips. Kai looked into his eyes for the first time.
“I wanted to wipe your lips with a napkin,” Toyami also said in a detached way, seeing Kai’s feverishly shining eyes.
Without waiting for his answer, Toyami stroked Kai’s lips with a napkin, dreaming more than anything else to lick off the last of the sweet sauce with his lips.
“Maybe you want more?” Toyami asked vaguely, looking slightly to the side again, fearing that Kai would read his thoughts.
“No, that’s enough,” Kai replied just as strangely.
There was an awkward pause. Toyami knew he had to say it. He must tell him everything that he thought and felt during this time. All his inner torment and suffering, his doubts, and the realization that he fell in love. He loved him, no matter how trite it may sound. And he had to say it.
“Kai …” Toyami’s voice sounded unnatural.
Kai understood that now he could hear what he was afraid to hear the most in his life. He was so afraid that now from the sound of Toyami’s voice he broke into a cold sweat and his legs became cottony. He grouped himself up and stood up abruptly.
“I’ll go to bed,” Kai went towards the bedroom.
Toyami tightly squeezed his fingers, realizing that it was too late to say anything. Time was lost, this person did not want to listen to him.
Kai walked towards the bedroom, realizing that he was now “cowardly running”, as Toyami had put it then, from himself.
Walking to the bed, he nervously began to take off his clothes. He threw the weapon on the table, and simply threw the pieces of clothing in the direction of travel. Remaining in boots, wide trousers, and a shirt, he plopped down on the bed and wrapped himself in a blanket.
“Take off your clothes! Take off your boots at least. What a habit – to sleep in clothes!” with bitterness in his voice said Toyami, watching the whole picture.
Toyami sat and looked into the void in front of him, then woke up, got up, went to Kai, and realized that he was already asleep. He, trying not to wake him, pulled off his boots, and straightened the blanket on him.
Toyami realized that today his place was on the couch. That’s the way it always was – he showed Toyami where his place was.
When he woke up, Toyami saw Kai already dressed. Kai dressed in his uniform, which he had been put in order. Toyami felt melancholy in his soul, realizing that Kai was going to leave.
Kai smoked nervously and stared into the space in front of him. His thoughts were about the schemes and whether Yuzuru would keep his word – to give the schemes and let him go.
Toyami approached Kai.
“How are your palms?”
Kai took off the bandages himself and now raised his palms to show them to Toyami.
“The ointment really works wonders.”
“An ancient Japanese recipe,” Toyami smiled, then became serious, “Thanks for saving my life yesterday. I didn’t have time to thank you yesterday.”
“Thank you for covering me at the safe and chopping those three,” Kai looked into Toyami’s eyes.
“I thought you hadn’t even noticed, you got so carried away with the code.”
“Why didn’t you defend yourself then?”
“And why are you then? I relied on you.”
“And if I didn’t have time …”
“You did,” Kai said indifferently.
“Do you trust me so much? That to the last you did not even jerk to defend yourself?”
“I don’t doubt you,” Kai continued to stare into Toyami’s steel eyes.
There was a pause and a strange tension in the air, Kai felt it and then saw Toyami take a step towards him.
Kai took a defensive position again.
“All right, the lyrical part is over. When I receive the schemes, will I be released?”
Toyami swallowed, feeling overwhelmed and annoyed that Kai had cut it off so rudely.
“I’ll go and find out,” Toyami replied, trying not to betray his condition.
“Toyami,” Kai called to the already leaving Toyami.
From this, Toyami snapped everything inside, he turned and froze.
“Do you allow me to leave?”
“Yes,” realizing that Kai only wanted to say this, or rather, to ask, Toyami turned around and went to the exit.
Mr. Yuzuru prepared copies of the diagrams for Kai. He always kept his word. It is a debt of honor. He was tormented by the question of the safe code – how did Kai figure it out?
After listening in detail to the account of the night’s events and sincerely admiring Kai in his soul, he asked to bring the guy in to fulfill his promise.
They brought Kai, who was in his uniform, a black military jacket, trousers, and high-laced boots. The harness gave a certain elegance to his appearance, only the weapon was missing on it.
Kai was handed copies of the diagrams, and he quickly scanned them.
“These are all schemes. You insult me with your distrust of my word,” Yuzuru’s voice was unfriendly.
“I didn’t mean to offend you, it’s a habit,” Kai replied calmly.
Yuzuru did not want a conflict and therefore did not develop this topic.
“You can go. Right now. Your car is at the entrance. Your weapon and phone are there. Just one question? How did you know the code? What are these numbers and words?”
“The only thing this man thinks about and remembers is the murder of his daughter. The numbers are the date. And the word is the name of the killer, whom he hadn’t taken revenge on,” Kai did not take his eyes off Yuzuru, saying this.
Yuzuru turned pale. He killed this girl five years ago. The clan war left no choice. She happened to be a witness to a conversation that no one should have heard. It happened. He Had been living with it. He tried to forget.
“Should I call the name?”
“An impudent boy, he mocks me!” -thought Yuzuru in silence. Realizing that if he said no, it would raise suspicion; if he said yes, he would be despised for killing a young girl.
“With your permission, I will not name him, let it remain a secret. Time will decide everything by itself,” Kai paused. He got up, bowed, “Thank you, gentlemen, I’ll see you again,” throwing his hand up, saluted, turned around, and left.
Toyami followed him.
Kai got into his jeep, big, black, with tinted windows and bullet marks on the left door. He took out black sunglasses from the glove compartment and put gloves on his hands. He had a long ride ahead.
He saw Toyami standing next to the car.
Kai rolled down the window and, looking ahead, started the car and said also without turning.
“Thank you for being with me … See you again.”
He pressed the gas and drove slowly towards the exit of the camp.
Toyami looked sadly after the retreating car. He had never experienced such an aching feeling in his soul.
The wind kicked up dust and threw it in his face. His eyes stung.
A moment’s weakness, it was just dust.
And again his face was just a beautiful cold mask, which did not express anything for the people around him. Nobody would see what was happening in his soul.
“Of course I’ll see you,” he said, barely audible.