The Passing Leaf
While the two spies relaxed with another glass of coarse sochyu cupped in their hands and their swords still tucked safely underneath their belts, the Shuten Doji emerged from behind the bar and threw a leaf between the two. As they remained seated, the world around them changed, both subtly and calamitously. Completely oblivious to the alterations, the two men only seemed to take pleasure in their mutual company.
Chika got up from his seat, “Care to join me? The Shogun has requested that I check the drug situation in Edo.”
Hachiro smiled, “Sure, I have a nephew there that I haven’t seen in a while.”
The two samurai rose from their seats and left the tavern, emerging to a world far different from the one they left when they originally entered and different than anything they had ever seen before. A voice erupted from Chika’s armguard as they walked to the station.
“Oxygen is at twenty four percent. Would you like me to activate the nitrogen filter?”, the voice was feminine, kind and confident.
Chika’s face was unchanged as he replied in a single word, “Negative.”
Not more than five minutes of unhurried walking passed before Hachiro opened the door to the station, causing both warriors to unmount their katana swords, holding them in hand as they entered a compact tunnel. Once inside, a computer blinked on.
A voice from the machine called out them, “What is your destination?”
“Our destination is Edo.”
The tunnel immediately filled with translucent green bio-glue as the propulsion system powered up. The computer spoke again, “Firing in… three… two… one.”
The tunnel burst upwards and into the highway of tubes that made up the Shogunates army transportation hub, developed for speedy transportation of important units that now filled the skies of Japan. Chika and Hachiro flew over the countryside, watching the civilians passing by below, on foot, in cars and larger vehicles.
Without warning, the samurai were shot out of the tube. Preparing for impact, they pushed their katanas into the glass as it shattered on the concrete slab in the middle of the city. Their arrival was practically ignored by the masses congregating in the square. Never ceased to amaze the two how people could be so oblivious to their surroundings. What was going through their simple minds, if anything?
They brushed themselves off and grinned at one another, both men seemingly unsteady on their feet from the hours of constant drinking in the tavern. Chika gazed upon the city square while Hachiro looked blankly forward with his hands stuck deeply in his pockets.
Regaining lucidity by the moment, Chika began to search for the shop which had been reported for unlicensed sales of opium, eventually locating it in the northwest corner of the plaza. The plaza was teeming with life and activity as civilians walked past them in all directions, while the lights of Edo shone against the night sky through the dome which shielded the city from the sun. Solar panels on the outer surface of the dome collected the power for the city, while the wind turbines brought healthy oxygen into the city while also collecting power.
Hachiro followed Chika as he pushed his way through the overpopulated city center. Hachiro knew that there was no point in asking him about where he was going with the noises of the city blaring in their ears.
Reaching the store, Chika open the door and was greeted by the salesperson. Words came out of this smiling hologram addressing what it thought were potential customers, “Welcome to Umbrella Enterprise. We manufacture a host of viral drugs and safe pharmaceuticals. How may we help you today?”
Chika smiled back at the hologram. “By request of the Shogunate agent Chika, please turn off all unnecessary powered units.” His voice betrayed the intensity of his visit that was hidden by the gentle expression on his face.
“Your request is authorized; please precede with your investigation noble samurai.” The hologram did not hesitate in replying.
Hachiro cackled at the remark, “No-ball saw-moo-rye! Ha!”
“Keep chucking it up foot soldier, you’ll have to hear that every day too pretty soon.” It was clear that the effect of the alcohol was already wearing off on Chika.
“Foot soldier? Are you my partner again?”
“No, no, you’ve got it all wrong, foot soldier. You are my underling!” Chika stuck his tongue out at Hachiro as they moved towards the back of the shop.
“Is that right? In that case, then I suppose it’s my duty to report that you didn’t ask that hologram back there to activate security. Isn’t that protocol, after all?”
“It’s protocol if you want survivors but I am here to hunt. So put your kimono away and start acting like a samurai.” The banter between the two warriors was half playful, half bickering. Charming, really.
Hachiro grunted as Chika opened the door located at the back of the shop. The two barely had time to blink before they were met with gunfire from the darkened room. The two remained unhurt as they hugged the outer door frame. They could hear footsteps moving quickly away from the door.
Turning to his friend, Chika whispered, “Hachiro, go around the back and find out where they ran.”
Hachiro nodded and bolted back out the front door. The moment he cleared the awning above the shop door, he slammed the pointed end of his katana on the sidewalk, which burst in a rapidly expanding bubble of pulse energy that carried him to the top of the roof. Hachiro touched his toes to the roof and rolled neatly into his landing. Hearing an unmistakable noise from the rear of the building, he began to run as fast as he could across the roof, exploding smaller bubbles of energy with his katana as he leapt from building to building.
Looking down he caught sight of a van entering the labyrinth of roadways beneath the city. Touching a button the size of a single grain of rice on his visor, it showed him that the van was traveling along a level road more than twenty feet below street level and that the van was definitely the one which left the shop, as both passengers were carrying high powered automatic rifles. Suddenly, the van slowed down and pulled over to the side of the roadway
Into his left shoulder, Hachiro called out to his partner, “Chika, they’ve stopped.”
The response emerged from his right shoulder. “Accessing camera feed now… it looks like they have run back to their base. They think they have escaped.”
Chika then came into view of Hachiro from the ground level below the roof on which he now stood. Beckoned by his fellow samurai to join him on the ground, Hachiro jumped from the roof top ledge, his Nano-suit un-hardened as he brushed himself free of the dust from above.
“A quick and hard center blast should give us enough surprise to catch the ring leader.”
Both men removed the katana blades out of their sheaths and held them in the air, touching the blade ends together. In seconds, an energy arc started building up. Very soon, the arc grew to a size larger than the two samurai, at which point they turned their katanas downwards, slamming the energy arc into the ground. A huge crater to opened up leading them right into the heart of the underground city.
As their feet touched ground below, they were once again greeted by the same gunshots from when they had tried to enter the back room of the drug shop only minutes earlier. This time, their Nano-suits acted as shields, protecting them from the bullets. A single man leapt out of the back of the van and they bolted after him. The man raced towards a low and long shack by the road and slammed a heavy steel door behind him trying to slow down the samurai but their katanas cut through it with no more trouble than if it had been a bowl of ramen.
Chika ran through the door first, blasting the metal away with a single energy pulse. The drug dealer was running towards the shaft that led down to the sewers. Chika stopped, took a deep breath and turned on his headset through a dial behind his ear.
Turning his chin towards his left shoulder, he spoke, “This is samurai Chika; suspect has entered the sewer system. The subject is probably dead from utility poisons.”
A voice replied from his right shoulder. “Copy that Chika. Thank you for your hard work.”
Hachiro came to a stop behind him, “I don’t know about you, but I am thirsty. We did all of this running for nothing.”
Chika smiled back at his friend, “I hear they have a wonderful tavern here in Edo.”
Grinning, the samurai left the shack and walked off into the dark underground city, in search of their next drink.