One minute there was nothing but screams and panic and flying blood as Ishin Shishi hitokiri faced their own government’s soldiers, the next-
Black and deafness and falling and cold, so cold-
And more screams, in languages he couldn’t understand, as a dazed eight-year-old picked himself off streets that looked nothing like Edo.
Gaijin clothes. Gaijin faces. Blue and white uniforms that echoed picture-books of the outland “Eastern Empire”, yet didn’t match those either. Drawn swords, and leveled bows, and so many white horses he thought he’d stumbled into a daimyo’s parade.
Tanishi’s protection had been the best option a lost, orphaned, and – admit it, scared – kid could think of. The yakuza head had… known already how ‘Kaasan had died, he never brought it up. Unlike his thugs.
But that day on the bridge, calm violet had weighed Yahiko. Known him. Respected him, in a way a young samurai had never thought he’d see again.
If he can live here, honorably, within gaijin law… then maybe I can find a way….
He’d never in a million years expected Kaoru to come after him. She was a Herald, after all; wasn’t she supposed to stick to handing out judgements on gaijin?
But she had come after him, swearing everyone had to abide by Haven’s laws, willing to gamble with her own life to win him out of Tanishi’s debt. And then willing to fight her way out with him when the Yakuza didn’t hold up their end of the bargain, no matter the odds against them.
Really bad odds. Though from how quick the Guard poured into the courtyard after we all left, she must have been MindCalling for help the minute she knew Tanishi’s guys were cheats. I guess busu’s not that dumb after all.
Hauled out over Kenshin’s shoulder, Yahiko had realized it was worth every bruise Tanishi’s thugs laid on him to see the wreck Kenshin had made of the place. Yakuza everywhere. Blasted through walls. Half-embedded in ceilings. Out cold on the floors like grain-drunk doves.
“They weren’t going to let me in, so I had them go to sleep for a little while….”
That was what Yahiko wanted to be. A swordsman who was kind, polite, honorable, civil even to his enemies – and feared no one.