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[Reminisce] My Favorite Mistake

Doshii Jun

Perpetual player
Retired Staff
Three years before the establishment of the Yamatai Star Empire, near the east-coast city of Malifar, overlooking the Sea of Melami. A time of relative unrest and uncertainty across the Jhuniata desert as factions fight for power over its meager offerings; when AvaNet had better things on its collective mind. In that setting, a deal is made and undone.

Everyone was dressed in their finest. That meant nothing from the closet or clothes pile, depending on which of the 10 children were being scrutinized. There still tags on some of the clothes on Toshitomo, Mei was sure. She'd had help with her own light-blue kimono.

She was squished down next to her mother, Mai, at the western bottom of the short, narrow rectangular table. At the head, representing the South, the old, the past, was her father. Toshifume Inoue. She had not seen him in at least six months, but she did not dare look at him now. Her gaze rested squarely on an interesting bit of grain in the table's wood she had not yet examined in the 17 years she'd had to look at it. Moving was frowned upon, and she did not need to invite her father's displeasure. Not when it already hovered over her shoulders, watching the grain with her. It didn't matter that his eyes were screwed shut, face a complete stone. He would know.

Next to Mei's mother, inside the small ricepaper room they were in, sat a man. He was a tall, gangly man dressed in an impeccable black-silver business suit. The bored look on his face was perpetual; it'd never changed once since Mei had met the man. He'd arrived to the Inoue family's small, airy mansion, located on a stony, grassless hill outside of Malifar, in a private shuttle. He had not even given a nod to the family's few retainers who stood watch outside.

He was one Tanaka Yuriyoshi. He was the second son of the prominent Tanaka clan of Jskita. The clan had not always been prominent in Jskita, an incredibly important trading city to the north at the tip of the Jhuniata desert, at the mouth of the rainforest. However, rivals of the leading clan had made literally short work of them, putting the Tanaka clan in charge of important trade resources. Those resources included nuts, furs and special plants -- all luxury goods the Inoue family needed to be able to cash in on.

With just two prominent fish markets and a lovely spa, the Inoue were toward the bottom of the elite barrel. Access to distributing luxury goods in Malifar, and perhaps Western Geshrintall, was essential to raising the family's status. Utterly essential.

It brought everything back to the small room with ricepaper walls. Why Toshifume had spent eight months arranging this very meeting. Everything had to be perfect, and was. Toshifume had made sure of it. He controlled the family.

So, at precisely 14:00, his eyes flew open, staring down Yuriyoshi. He responded with the same bored look, as expected. Toshifume kept staring, hands flat on the knees of his silvery kimono. Every muscle in the older man's body was rigid, his face showing the anger of one forced to ask for something they want but can't have any other way. Toshifume's personal pride was defeated by familial pride. The Inoue name was what mattered more than anything. It had to. The resources were the key; he was sure of it. The inter-clan wars were growing more and more bloody with each passing day; there was no telling who would die next. The trade would keep them safe until things calmed.

Toshifume was just far enough away from the head of the table -- facing North, toward Yuriyoshi, toward the future -- to bow, deeper than he had ever bowed to anyone but the Emperor or his ancestors. His forehead nearly touched the floor, Mei was sure.

"My daughter's hand is yours, Tanaka-san."

Yuriyoshi bowed as deeply as he could without cracking his stretched-out head on the table.

"My thanks, Inoue-dono."

... And that was it. Mei stood slowly, carefully, just as her mother instructed. She turned, bowed slightly and waited for Yuriyoshi to stand as well. His head nearly touched the ricepaper ceiling, but he bowed slightly as well. The ricepaper door behind him was opened by a retainer, and the two stepped onto the cold, cold wooden floor of the mansion. She could see the ocean in the distance, as the massive room -- the mansion's largest and most empty -- had no walls. They were escorted to the back of the long, 12-wheel shuttle. She stepped into its black interior, its leather seats cool to the touch. She fixed her kimono as she sat down, hoping her lipstick was still in place. Two Tanaka retainers were in the front of the car; one driving and one guarding.

Yuriyoshi followed her. The door was shut ... and off they went, up the coastal road that wound along the edge of the Jhuniata.

<center>* * *</center>
Ozaki Kyo could hear the fucking shuttle before he could see its lights. Loud fucking thing, he thought. He slid down the second-to-last sand dune on the back of a short bone board he crafted himself. It made a good close-quarters shield, even if it wasn't bulletproof. He picked up the shield as he climbed the last dune.

Kyo was a mess. By mess, it was understood he was in his hunting clothes. The outfit consisted of a self-patched and self-sown leather tunic and pants, a simple loincloth, a leather bandanna to hold back his springy black hair and soak up sweat, a wool poncho he'd stolen and simple leather sandals. He'd made all the leather stuff himself, so it had taken a few days of soaking in spring water and rolling in desert sand to get the smell of blood out. Not that he minded, he thought with a little grin.

He slung the board across his back and took out his old hunting rifle. The leather pistol holster he'd actually bought was tied to his waist and leg; he didn't need that yet. At the top of the last dune, the grey/bone colored road to Jskita flowed below him. He grinned wider, bringing his rifle up to bear.

"So many fucking tires ... That wasn't part of the plan ... " He snorted, bringing his eyes away from the powerful rifle scope for a moment. The shuttle was ... shit, 600 meters away, going at about ... Kyo guessed 40 kph. Close enough. He brought the board out and stuffed it into the sand. His rifle quickly rested on top of it as he plotted his shot in the horribly low light. The car wasn't the right model. He couldn't shoot the driver. His information was bad, which meant his partner was screwed unless he came up with something.

He pulled his board back up and stepped down, down, down in the sand. Once he reached the road, he walked onto it and slung his rifle back behind him. He approached the car as it closed on him, using the universal sign of "Bad people ahead! Turn back!"

The car slowed, stopped, but stayed running. Kyo was 10 meters away from the driver. A loudspeaker clicked on. Of course. Rich people never talked face-to-face with poor people unless they needed something.

"What is it?" the male voice on the other end of the loudspeaker asked in farmer's Japanese. On top of Kyo being assumed to be poor, he was also assumed to be dumb.

"Up ahead," Kyo responded, putting on his best poor-person accent. "Bandits. Ye'd better turn around."

"And what the hell are you?" the man asked, rolling down the window. A black compact pistol was stuck out of it, arm holding it seeming pretty steady.

Kyo didn't get closer. "Virginia Dragoon," he said coolly. "Ye should turn around."

"We don't need to," the man said, still over the loudspeaker. "Our car is armored. Now get out of the way, or we'll run you over."

The car's headlights were still on low. It was going to be easy. Just need the right moment, he thought. "They have rifles."

"We don't care! Move!"

Kyo shrugged and stepped off the road, giving the car the space it needed. The hand holding the gun sticking out the window wagged some. There was someone else in the car the driver was talking to.

That was good enough for Kyo. His hand swept his big, stainless-steel revolver up from the holster. He wasn't perfectly quick with it, unfortunately. Someone saw what he was doing as he pulled the hammer back; the man with the pistol shot at him. The muzzle flash, the sound -- .45-caliber automatic. It was a pathetic miss; Kyo was only nine meters away now. A quick spot of aiming and he squeezed the trigger. The man's hand disappeared in a spray of red.

Another car door opened. Kyo cocked the hammer again and took aim with both hands this time. As the second man swung out, .45-caliber SMG trying to get around the windshield, Kyo fired again. The bullet went through the glass and hit the man in the arm. Kyo dashed and jumped on top of the hood of the car. He put a bullet into the SMG man, then turned and fired one into the driver, who had scrambled out of the car to get his gun. It was all very sad. He expected rich people to hire better guards.

Kyo snatched up the compact pistol as he walked to the back car door. He stopped for a moment, so whoever was inside could get a good look at him. Then, he opened the door.

There was a tall man inside with a very nice suit and a holdout pistol dwarfed in his hand. The pistol was shoved in Kyo's face, which forced him to back up and let the man step out.

On his arm was a woman wearing too much makeup and a very nice kimono. She was about as big as the pistol in the man's hand, but her hair, falling out of its haircomb, was beautiful -- slightly wavy and jet black. It was a good look on her.

"The car is yours," the man said. He stood at least 20 centimeters above Kyo. He'd barely given a second glance to the downed man. "Go. I will keep her, and you can keep your life." He sounded ... bored.

"But, your servant! We must help him." The woman was annoying already.

"I killed them already," Kyo said sharply. "Ye are not in a position to bargain."

The man brought the gun down so it was level with Kyo's head. "This places me above you, murderer. Now take the car and go."

"But ... " The woman was very annoying.

"Shut up, Inoue," The man snapped, not looking at her. "This is business between men."

Kyo spun the compact automatic in his hand. "Hey," he said.

The man's gaze narrowed.

"Don't talk to my partner that way."

The man blinked -- just long enough for the woman to stab her tabi-clothed foot down on his toes. The holdout went up just enough as he reacted in pain; Kyo brought the compact pistol to bear and fired twice into the man's chest. He was a real son-of-a-bitch though; Kyo winced as a return shot caught his other arm, burrowing past the leather and into the flesh. After the man fell, lying on the ground like some felled tree bleeding sap everywhere, Kyo put a couple more rounds in him.

<center>* * *</center>
Mei just looked at the man standing over Yuriyoshi. And sighed.

"You were not supposed to shoot him with his servant's gun," she said, exasperated. "You were supposed to use your gun! That is what it is for!"

"It was handy, and I've two shots left," Kyo snorted. "It does not matter. No one will cross this road for hours. We have time."

Mei's head was cocked to the side, and her lips formed a determined frown. "You were reckless."

"Ye did not tell me the car had twelve tires," he said calmly.

"I did not know; he did not take the shuttle I expected!"

"It is too late to complain now."

Mei was sure veins were showing beneath her makeup. Kyo was by the seat of his leather trousers; he planned poorly, executed worse, and then took no blame for his own foolishness! She had planned this out to the letter, and he had trampled over everything because of how many tires there were! Now they would have to take the car and hide the bodies in the sand.

Kyo was just looking at her, bleeding from his arm. "Yes?" Mei asked.

He smiled. "Ye are worth the mistakes, Mei."

"You should not be," she grumbled, her 5'6" frame quickly crossing the gap between them to take hold of his arm. "And do not talk to me that way." She sighed as she took off his shirt and examined his arm. The bullet didn't get too far down -- just below the surface of the skin.

"This will hurt," she said, taking a deep breath. She then brought her mouth to the wound. The taste of blood flooded her senses, but she scrunched her eyes shut and sucked as hard as she could, tongue protecting the back of her throat. Though she had to swallow a little bit of the blood, the bullet, undamaged, popped out and into her mouth. She bent down quickly and spit it all out. Kyo had winced some, but otherwise he was quiet. He quickly tied the wound off with strips of leather from the ruined sleeve of his shirt.

Mei turned and went back into the limo. The blood on her chin and lips was dabbed away with champagne and a napkin until it was gone. She then stripped out of her kimono, laying it on the backseat. She was in a simple shift undergarment, and that was enough for now.

"We must hide these bodies," she said, walking toward Yuriyoshi. "AvaNet knows of this transgression."

"AvaNet will also know other bandits will be here to take care of the bodies for us. Take his pistol and money, and we will take the car back to Malifar, where my house is. We can take the back way."

Mei nodded. She did as instructed; despite all the mistakes, Kyo was good at moving quickly, and they needed that right now. She watched as Kyo went back around the car and looked through the guard's pockets.

And sighed. To think, this was the man she loved. She loved him more than anything. So much that she had no moral qualms about killing to be with him. About leaving her family for him. About giving up "the good life" to be with this man who was a savage the rest of Geshrintall forgot.

She smiled inwardly, knowing exactly why she loved him so. She looked down at Yuriyoshi's body. Bending down, she got to work.
 
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