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Land of the Dead (High School of the Dead SI)

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by Brian Boru, Jul 4, 2015.

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  1. Threadmarks: Part One
    Brian Boru

    Brian Boru Versed in the lewd.

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    Cross posting this from SB just in case anyone has issues with it or I feel that I might be ranging into...racier stuff for the sake of the story.

    AN: Constructive criticism and or volunteering Betaing is appreciated and will be acted upon.

    One year, it had been a VERY long year since I'd found myself in the land of the Rising sun, with no memory of how I'd gotten here, documentation indicating that I was a Custodian at some high-end high school in a city whose name I didn't recognize.

    Today was actually the anniversary of the day I'd found myself in a dingy apartment with a custodial uniform in one corner and a note attached to it. Written in Japanese script, which I found to my shock that I understood perfectly, was a short letter explaining that I was now a Janitor for some place called Fujimi high, all documentation was taken care of and I even had a bank account. It was the end of the note that made a chill crawl up my spine that day.

    One Year Ago

    "Please be sure to bring the items found in your closet one year from now to your school. You will need them."

    Hesitantly I had opened the small closet and a cold, hard knot formed in my stomach when I saw sitting at the bottom of the closet three things. A ax, a spear, and a shield. Why in God's Name did I need weapons like that, I had no clue but if ROB, as I'm sure ROB had something to do with my situation, said I would need them, then I had better listen to what he had to say.

    Shutting the closet I had dressed myself glanced into the mirror...which had brought me to a complete stop yet again.

    "What the fu...?" I had muttered staring at a small mirror hanging in on one of the walls of my apartment.

    I....looked like myself...sort of... a more apt description is if I had visited one of those caricature artists like they had back at Six Flags, only the caricaturist was replaced with a Japanese style artist and had made me into a cartoon character....though, much more detailed than any that I'd seen in my entire life. I was leaner than I'd ever been in my entire life. Lifting my shirt I noticed that the sheathing of fat I'd carried for pretty much my entire life was...gone....replaced with hard muscle. I wasn't model lean by any shape but I looked more like a miniature linebacker than the pint-sized offensive lineman I was before....

    "Damn...looking good..." I'd muttered to myself. Even IF this didn't make up for the fact that I'd been ripped from my home and life...it was a start.

    Pushing it out of my head I headed out of my building and glanced in the direction of my job....about a stone-throw away from my new home...convenient. Glancing under the stairwell I noticed the moped I apparently had a key for....never had one of those before...but shouldn't be too hard to learn to ride.

    Locking the door behind me I'd trotted along at a sedate pace, my mind a flurry of questions. So deep I was in my thoughts I'd failed to notice something else about my new...home. In fact I failed to notice said trait until I was walking through the student parking lot when the driver side door of a little bug car happened to open and I stopped dead in my tracks...

    Blonde hair was the first thing that stood out. Bright as the sun and long enough to reach a gloriously formed posterior. Then this glorious tribute to feminine beauty turned around to face me. Amber eyes that seemed to glitter with bubbly happiness. A perfectly formed face that seemed to permanently smile and light up everything around it. Oh yeah and a bosom that'd make Anna Nicole in her prime feel self-conscious.

    Apparently I'd been staring for a while when a horn honked right next to me. I nearly jumped out of my skin and scrambled out of the way of teacher trying to get to their parking place. I caught a glance of dark hair and glasses before the car passed by me.

    I heard a female voice giggling. I turned my head back towards the focus of my attention. Apparently the woman about my age had seen the entire affair and had been amused by my antics.

    I could feel my face going red as I chuckled weakly. "Thank-you, I'll be here all week." I replied as if I'd been doing a comedy routine.

    That set her laughing even harder, her shoulders actually shaking a bit....along with other things. "You're funny Sir. Oh but are you alright?" Even her voice was a wonder to hear...I was starting to wonder if I had a problem...

    "Yeah, I'm fine. Just scared me out of a year of growth is all." I managed to sputter out.

    "Are you sure? Because your face is all red." The blonde bombshell walked around her car and actually pulled that stunt with the hand and the forehead. Unfortunately, or fortunately, that also meant that certain somethings were rather....close, nearly pressing into my chest really. A small corner of my mind noted that we were nearly of a height, she being just a hair shorter than me at about 5'8''.

    "N-no really I'm alright just had a scare is all." I had finally managed to sputter out, and backed up just slightly so as not to intrude on her personal space.

    She smiled and said, "If you insist but if you don't feel alright later you can come see me, I'm studying to be a doctor and I could use the practice."

    "Thank-you Miss, kind of you. Oh where are my manners, I'm Tom Brody" I managed to sputter out, "I'm the new Custodian here."

    She bowed in return. "My name is Marikawa Shizuka. I'm the School Nurse here. I'm also new. It's my first day actually. I hope I'll be able to find the nurse's office."

    A detailed map of the school flashed in my mind, well Fortune Favors the Bold and all that.

    "I think I can help there. I kinda had to learn every nook and cranny of this place when I started here. I can take you to the nurse's office before I head down to mine." Really just a glorified broom closet my implanted memories said but I wasn't about to say that out loud.

    That brilliant smile snapped right into place, "Oh thank-you!" I think my heart skipped a beat.

    "Not a problem, the least I could do really. Us newbies have to stick together right?" I managed to say without getting tongue-tied.

    "I guess you have a point, lead the way Brody-san."

    With that I turned and headed into the building, Miss Shizuka behind me, a chipper smile on her face.
    As I guided the two of us through the large school a niggling familiarity began worm its way through my mind. This all seemed really familiar. The names, and the young lady moving up to walk next to me, I felt like I knew them from somewhere.

    Then it struck like a thunder-clap I knew where I was and what was going to happen in a year and why I needed those weapons when it happened.

    I managed to cut off a curse before Miss Shizuka noticed the change in my demeanor. A quickly plastered smile covered the growing terror that rose us from my soul. Then a sort of resolve seemed to harden as I headed down the hallway that held the Nurse's office.

    "Well here's your office Marikawa-san. "If you need anything or help finding a room I'll be on the first floor by the stairs, can't miss it."I hope you have a good day." I gave her a slightly clumsy bow.

    "Thank-you Brody-san. I hope we'll meet again soon. Us newbies have to stick together right?" Marikawa echoed my own words and returned the bow, then headed into her office.

    I smiled again then headed down to my office. I knew why ROB had armed me and given me a year. I needed to prepare.
     
  2. Threadmarks: Part Two
    Brian Boru

    Brian Boru Versed in the lewd.

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    For several weeks after beginning my new job I entered a sort of routine. I'd wake up around 7:00 clean up, drink a Coke Zero (thank GOD I found that corner shop) pack a lunch, (vegetables of some sort and usually canned tuna. Not the meal of kings but it got the job done.) Walk to the school, say good morning to Miss Shizuka, help her with anything she was bringing to the office, we'd talk for a bit, nothing major, music, books, movies and the like.

    I learned she was a sap for romance novels or romantic movies, when she'd gotten to see Titanic in Highschool she admitted she'd cried at Jack's death and the ending where Rose and Jack were together again in the afterlife.

    I told her about my interest in Fantasy and Sci-fi and my preference for the more historical stuff. Though the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit had been my favorites growing up. I was a bit surprised when she'd told me she'd never read them though she said she'd enjoyed the movies and had admitted to having a crush on the character Legolas.

    “You and half the planet.” I'd commented dryly.

    “I was in middle school!” She huffed though not she wasn't really all that mad.

    I chuckled and shifted the cardboard box in my arms, “So what's in this one? Your brick collection?”

    That set her giggling again. “Nothing like that Brody-san. It's just some rubbing alcohol and bandages...and maybe a few microscopes.”

    “A 'few' microscopes? What do you need that many for?” I asked, no wonder this thing weighed a ton.

    “I'm also in medical school to become a full doctor, remember? I need to get some studying in whenever I can and the hospital was kind enough to lend me the equipment while I work as a nurse her.”

    I nodded, “That makes sense. Though I don't think my arms will appreciate it.”

    That got her laughing again and I laughed with her. It was rather nice talking with a pretty woman, I'd never really done that back home, a combination of nerves and time had curtailed my socialization opportunities with the fairer sex. Meaning that I relished these moments.

    Eventually though we reached the Nurse's Office and I was able to put down the arm-killing box. I shook my arms and winced at the pain in my elbows.

    When I started my cleaning job I had found to my pleasure that Fujimi High had a state of the art weight room for the student athletes. Thank-you wealthy alumni and parents!

    After a short conversation with the principle I got the deal that so long as I cleaned up after myself I could use the weights to my content. A deal which I had taken quite willingly. I remembered full well what was coming and I needed every chance I could get to increase my odds of surviving the hell that was coming.

    I'd quickly started a weight training regimen, thanking my lucky stars I'd memorized the routines that my old man had hammered into my skull though I would freely admit that this was the first time I'd followed through the routine start to finish on a daily basis without ever cutting corners. The results were that I'd been slowly getting stronger, interestingly at a rate I was sure I hadn't achieved since high school, another trait from my transfer to this world? The downside was that some of my joints were sensitive after the punishment I'd given them.

    Apparently Shizuka had seen my pain and had immediately walked over, a slight look of concern on her face. “Is everything alright Brody-san? Did you pull something?”

    I shook my head, “Nothing like that. My elbows are just a bit sore, remember I mentioned that I'd started weight-lifting? Just comes with the territory to maintain these muscles.” I flexed a bicep to prove my point.

    That look never left her face, “But if you're hurting then it's my duty as a nurse to help. Hold on I think I might have something...” With that she turn and began searching her cabinets, eventually searching into one of the lower cabinets...rather far back. I quickly glanced out the window and took a different view than what everything my Lizard Brain was screaming at me to do instead. Finally I heard a muffled shout of “Found it!”

    I turned and watched her wiggle herself out of the cabinet and produce a jar about the size of your average canning jar, a look of satisfaction on her face. A clear viscous material was visible through the glass the container and I could catch a hint of something mint like. Even from over where I was standing.

    “An old family remedy, I learned how to make it from my grandmother and it does wonders for sore muscles and joints.” Then she opened the jar.

    A moment later and my senses were outright assaulted by a wave of mint or some sort of vaporub. I could feel my sinuses clearing themselves and then begin to burn.

    “Wow! That's some strong stuff. What's in it?” I asked through a few coughs.

    “Now that'd be telling family secrets Brody-san. But you can use it as much as you want whenever you want. Just come here and ask me. Go ahead and put some on your elbows. Not too much, this is quite strong.”

    Sniffing in an attempt to clear my nose I nodded and took a bit on two finger tips, it was extremely cool to the touch, then I began to rub the gel-like substance into my elbow. There was an odd combination of cool and burning for a moment, then incredible relief as the pain just vanished.

    I audibly sighed in relief, which elicited another giggle from the veritable Angel of Mercy. “It seems like you like it Brody-san.”

    I shook my head, “Um, yes, thank-you, thank-you very much, this stuff works like a charm.”

    “Happy to help Brody-san. Now we both need to get on to our jobs. Keep the jar, I have a few more in the cabinet there.” She said with a smile.

    “Thank-you again Marikawa-Sensei.” I said with a appreciative smile on my face.

    “Oh you can call me Shizuka if you like.”
    I blinked a bit at that, then I grinned and bowed again. “Thank-you again, ...Shizuka. I guess you can call me Tom then.”

    “Good day Tom.” She replied. With that I headed out of the office towards my own glorified broom closet, the jar under my arm and a smile on my face. Today seemed like a good day. I even began whistling a tune as I headed down the staircase.

    My smile vanished when I almost bumped into someone coming up the stairs at the same time. That someone else turned out to be the biggest dick in this entire damn school, one Shido Koichi, a teacher as well as the Track & Field coach. He was also arrogant, and sadistic to a disturbing degree and the only reason he had a job at this school was because of the string pulling of his old man, who was some big shot in the national diet. Well the old fart sure as hell didn't have my fucking vote.

    Either way the smug bastard did his best to look down his nose at me, a difficult venture when the man was a couple of inches shorter than me and at least 100 lbs lighter. It was a comparison in opposites, the lean, clean-shaved, slick-haired, bespectacled, and smartly dressed Paragon of Japanese handsomeness on one side. While on the other was a prime example of Gaijin. Big shoulders and limbs, shaggy hair that was starting to look like a mop, shaggy beard (needed a trim) and wearing the somewhat shapeless outfit of a custodian.

    “Ah Brody-san, good morning.” He managed to eventually say, God the bastard's voice sounded oily.

    “Good morning Shido-Sensei, surprised to see you in the stairwell.”

    “Not that surprising I was just giving some of my students some advice on a private matter on my way to my class. Well good-day Brody-san.” He then moved on past me.

    As soon as he was out of sight I turned my head and spat. Scumbag had no business advising a rock let alone the young people who attended the school.

    I then headed down the stairwell and found the students he'd been advising. In actuality it had been a trio of sophomores bullying a freshman. The poor kid was in a ball as one of the jackasses was rearing back for a kick.

    “HEY!” I bellowed. The three wannabe-thugs snapped their heads to look in my direction. Any retorts at the Gaijin butting in died in their throats when they got a look at my green eyes seeming to almost blaze in fury.

    “I suggest the three of you get to class, NOW!” The three boys scrambled up the stairs like the hounds of hell were after them. Once I was sure they were going. I turned back to the kid they'd been beating on. “Hey kid, you alright?”

    The kid in question was still curled up on the ground, shaking as he fought back sobs.

    “Hey kid, you okay? Those jackasses are gone, I scared them off for the moment. Here let me help you up.” I said in as gentle a voice as I could.

    Eventually I managed to get the kid back on his feet and one look at his face triggered recognition in my mind. Hirano Kohta, official marksman and gun-nut for the canon team about a year from now. He didn't seem much like the dead-eye crack-shot I knew him to be, but then again he didn't have much in the way of confidence when he was unarmed.

    “Are you hurt? I know the nurse and I can can take you to her if you want.”

    “N-no I'm alright Janitor-san.” The young man fought to hide any tears though the red eyes and sniffing were dead giveaways.

    “You sure? If you're worried about those jerks I think between me and Marikawa-Sensei we could have the Principle throw the book at the three of them.” I mused.

    “N-no! I mean, no I'm alright. No need to interfere.” He said, “Thank-you for helping.” He brushed himself and began to head up the stairwell.

    I'm still not sure why I did what I did but I sighed and called, “Kid wait a moment.”

    He stopped and turned back to me. “Thinking about it. Yes, I don't think that just going to the Principle will solve anything. Even if we get rid of those jerks another pack of them will pop up to replace them in a heart-beat. Bullies like that can smell weakness like a shark does blood and they'll come out of the woodwork if there's a soft target for them.”

    Kohta seemed to curl up on himself as he heard himself being described as a soft bully-magnet.

    However I wasn't finished, “However, that doesn't mean we can't do something to resolve the problem. We just need to make you NOT a soft target. Tell me kid you part of a club?”

    “No, I'm not in a club.” He said weakly, a look of interest on his face, curious about being NOT a soft target.

    “Excellent! Tell you what kid I've got a plan that is a sure-fire way to get those jerks off your back, heck if you listen to what I say then might even be a chick magnet by the time I'm done with you. You interested?” A smile spread across my face.

    Kohta stared at me before rubbing his eyes and nodding. “Yes, of course! I'll be under your care Sensei! Oh erm..my name's Hirano Kohta.”

    “Calm down ki-er Kohta-san, I'm not much for standing on ceremony. Brody-san or Tom-san's fine.” I said with a chuckle.”

    “Alright Hirano-san if you're really dedicated then meet me at the door to the dorms at about 6:30, make sure you're wearing your P.E. clothes and we'll get started. Will I see you there?”

    “Yes Brody-san I'll be there!” With that the young man scrambled up the stairs just noticing the time. I chuckled then headed down to my broom closet to drop my lunch off and then head off to make my rounds.

    That evening Kohta was true to his word. I started him working the same sort of program that I did, though at a much lower weight and intensity. No point in killing the kid. After the weight training we then did stair runs, after the classes were over and the clubs were done we mostly had the building to ourselves. Kohta didn't make much of a showing that first night, but honestly he had a dogged determination that allowed him to get back up after collapsing from a minute long sprint up the stair-case.

    When we finished Kohta was exhausted and he stank up to high heaven but he seemed quite happy with himself. “Not bad kid, you've got a fire in ya kid, you'll need that for this stuff.”

    A weak smile spread across his sweaty face. “Thank's Sensei, I mean Brody-san.”

    After making sure he got to his dorm and got cleaned off I went back and cleaned up the equipment, locked the buildings down and headed home myself.

    I had no idea what the consequences would be but I felt that I was doing something good for everyone involved.
     
  3. Threadmarks: Part Three
    Brian Boru

    Brian Boru Versed in the lewd.

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    And so the weeks went by as I worked in my new training regimen with Kohta with my regular schedule.

    I hate to admit it, but it was a bit on the embarrassing side to watch the poor kid struggle. I’d been lifting weights since I was in middle school and had been lifting weights in the several hundred pound range for years. Watching some Kohta’s age dying with only 50 lbs was like watching a three legged puppy trying to chase a ball.

    However I reminded myself that when I’d started lifting weights properly I was dying trying to bench press a pair of 20 lbs dumbells. So I held my tongue and told myself that he’d improve. And amazingly he did. It took a few weeks but one evening instead of looking like a man facing his execution he instead had one of grim determination.

    “Well you seem to be in a better mood today kid. Something good happen?” I asked good naturedly.

    “No Brody-san, today just seemed better today. I can’t really put my finger on it.” He shrugged his shoulders that were looking a hair broader or maybe it was the slightly smaller gut pulling on his P.E. shirt less that was causing the effect.

    I grinned, then clapped him on the back, “That’s good, means the endorphins are kicking in finally I was wondering when they would.” It probably helped as well that someone seemed to give a damn and was interested in his well-being. His parents, from what I recalled travelled often and while they did care were on the distant side and so weren’t always aware of what was going on with their kid.

    Add in the fact that he’s kinda short, overweight, wore glasses and wasn’t the most socially adept he was almost a perfect storm of high school drama and ostracization. Well hopefully I’d make a difference on that front.

    As the two of us went through our routine I noticed he’d at least doubled his original weights, impressive, very impressive.

    The next morning I was interrupted on my walk down to my office by the principal's secretary a small young woman, 5’ nothing and she couldn’t have weighed a 100 pounds soaking wet. Cute as well in that pixie or kitten sort of way plenty of guys seemed to lose their minds over here in Japan.

    Something of a rarity as well if one were bluntly honest I wasn’t sure how but it seemed women on average seemed more….healthy here that back home and that seemed to be a world-wide trait….a Playboy mag I’d found once while bagging the trash was...eye opening, to say the least.

    But back to little miss secretary, yes she was cute, but to be perfectly honest that sort hadn’t ever really been my type and it didn’t help that the woman PLAINLY didn’t like me. I wasn’t sure WHAT I’d done to offend her but I had and she would make it blatantly clear in her dislike. It was astounding sometimes how someone that tiny could make a guy over half a foot taller than her feel intimidated but she was pulling it off with one of her ice-cold stares.

    “Yes Yamazaki-san? How can I help you?” I asked in my most polite voice, in a likely vain attempt to appease her with manners. It failed.

    She all but glared at me and said in a clipped and icy tone. “The Principal would like to meet with you Brody-san.” And with that she turned around and began striding back to the office.

    I stood there staring for a moment, unsure what to do, but before I could react she turned around and glared again. “Well aren’t you coming?” Then she snapped back around and continued her power walking...how she did that in heels and a skirt that tight I’ll never know…

    Anyway I gathered my senses and trotted after her before catching up and slowing down my stride to keep apace with her, taking one stride for every two of hers. My feet flapping a bit compared to the ordered and quick stacatto her heels made.

    She made no sign that she’d noticed me catching up and continued staring ahead and clacking along the hallway. The silence and my imagination began to gnaw at me as I wondered what the principal wanted with me. I’d never actually met the man though apparently I’d done my interview with the man before starting my job as part of my cover story when I arrived here and I was slightly concerned as to what he wanted with me.

    In an attempt to break the ice as well as sniff out what might have been in store for me I turned my head to look at Miss Yamazaki and cleared my throat to get her attention.

    “So...would you happen to know what Principal Yamada wants with me?” I asked in a slightly nervous voice.

    Yamazaki never turned her head and didn’t seem to have heard what I said, I was about to repeat when she suddenly responded. “I don’t know. He didn’t see fit to tell me and it wasn’t my place to ask. You’ll have to find out yourself Brody-san.” She didn’t elaborate beyond that and her tone brooked no further questions so I kept my mouth shut and sweated as the two of us continued on our way.

    Finally we entered the principal’s office area, a small waiting room with a desk that I assumed was Yamazaki’s was pushed alongside one wall while some chairs were lined up against the other side. Yamazaki promptly sat down and began to type away on her desk-top computer. “He’ll see you now.” She said in a quick tone, never looking away from her computer screen.

    Rude, I thought to myself, then bowed my head and headed towards the door, as I closed the door behind me, I noticed that in a small picture frame was a rather candid photograph of Koichi Shido. Ah so that’s how it was, my dislike of the snake was well known though I’d never said so to anyone. If she was sweet on that bastard then that explained things so much.

    That line of thought was chased out of my head with an older male voice broke the silence in good though slightly accented English, the first I’d heard in a while. “Ah, Mr. Brody, glad to see you, come sit down.”

    Turning around I got my first close look at the school principal. He was around 50 years old with short cropped hair and a salt and pepper moustache over his lips. His dark eyes were intelligent and he seemed to be a pleasant man. I’d certainly never heard anyone complain about him before.

    I bowed and then sat down. “Good day Principal Yamada. Good to see you as well. What was it you wanted to see me about?”

    “Ah cutting to the chase then? Good, this will make things quicker.”

    He shuffled some papers and my stomach began doing back-flips.

    “It says here that you applied to the Custodial Job, even though you’re a native English speaker. You could have gotten a job as an English teaching assistant. Why is that?”

    Swallowing and praying that ROB wouldn’t screw me over before the apocalypse actually happened I answered as calmly as I could. “Well to be honest it was two reasons. First I wasn’t confident enough of my Japanese language skills that I wouldn’t make an idiot of myself. The other reason was that I didn’t feel that I had the teaching experience for that sort of job. That and I’m not the public speaker, it wouldn’t look good if the students saw their teacher stuttering while trying to teach them, they’re not oblivious and they’d pick up on that very quickly.”

    He nodded. “Yes that’s what you told me when you applied for the custodial job and to be honest we didn’t need an English teacher assistant or otherwise at the time. That’s changed however since then.” He looked over his papers and continued, “I’m sure you heard about this already but one of our foreign assistant teachers had to leave suddenly because of a death in her family.

    I winced at that, yeah I’d heard about it. Young lady from Cali had been here as a teaching assistant for a few months then got the tragic news that both her parents as well as a younger sibling had died in a tragic car accident. I hadn’t talked with her but from what Shizuka had told me it had all but broken the young woman and she’d listed for a few days before declaring she was leaving to go home.

    “Oh yes I heard. Shame what happened to her, no one deserves losing so much so quickly.” I said in a sympathetic tone.

    Yamada looked down for a moment then looked back up. “Indeed but with Miss Clara heading home that leaves an opening that needs to be filled and I’d rather not go through the madness and paper work needed to get another fluent English speaker. Not if there’s one already here.

    I stared for a moment. “Me? But I’m not registered with JET, I’m not even a teacher!”

    “I don’t HAVE to get my english instructors from the Program and you’d be a teaching assistant, much looser standards and requirements for the job. It’d also be an increase in your pay and easier hours than the ones you keep already. As for your worries about your Japanese, I really don’t hear any problems considering we’ve been speaking it since you sat down.” Clever old man. Very clever.

    “So Mr. Brody what are your thoughts?”

    I sat there for a moment then shrugged, “Alright, though I hope you know I might not be the best man for the job.” I said.

    He extended his hand for a shake to my surprise and I grabbed it and gave it a firm shake. “I’m sure you’ll be fine. Besides I’d hate to tell Inoue-san that the Janitor job I’d told was his was no longer available.”

    I froze for a moment, stunned at the old man’s confidence. He only smiled at my surprise. “I’ll handle the paperwork and I’ll have someone give you a crash-course on what you’ll need to know. Just make sure you have some presentable clothes for when you start classes.”

    I grinned again. “Thank-you but I have to ask. Why? I mean why me?”

    The smile on Yamada’s face faded a bit. “Simple. You don’t like Shido-Sensei, and the feeling is mutual. I can’t fire the man for certain reasons, but if I can aggravate him in other ways then I’ll take it. Besides your English and Japanese are impeccable, some of the best I’ve heard from a non-native speaker and you seem to work well with the students. I’ve heard how Hirano-san’s been improving in his classes and he seems to be in better shape. You seem to have helped him and I hope you can share that with some of the other students.” The smile on his face returning.

    “Well in that case I’ll do my best and thank-you for the opportunity sir.”

    With that I got up and left the room with a smile on my face and a spring in my step. I wasn’t being fired heck it was actually a bit of a step UP! Miss Yamazaki stared a bit at the good mood I seemed to be in and I ignored her in return. As I headed out of the office I paused then turned and changed the direction I was originally heading. “I need to tell Shizuka about this.”
     
  4. Threadmarks: Part Four
    Brian Boru

    Brian Boru Versed in the lewd.

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    AN: With thanks to Grey Rook For Beta Work.


    It took a few weeks before I was allowed to begin assisting one of the teachers in their classes. My superior was an older man by the name of Minato Kurokawa, a shorter man even for Japan who seemed to buzz with energy and seemed truly passionate in his work.

    When he introduced me to the class a few people gasped in surprise, it wasn’t like I was completely unknown. A big Gaijin like myself working as a Janitor was going to make people take notice and few people had heard how I’d taken Kohta Hirano under my wing, and his confidence had grown in the last month since he’d started strength training along with some weight loss. However, me showing up in a pair of Khaki slacks and a red polo shirt instead of the Custodial outfit that could be generously called a tent seemed to have knocked many of them for a loop.

    Kohta was the first to break the silence. “Mr. Brody? When did you become a teacher?” The rest of the class turned back to look at him, all a bit surprised that he’d spoken up and many that he seemed to know me.

    I grinned and nodded in his direction. “That’s Brody-Sensei while we’re in the classroom, Mr. Hirano. As for my new job, apparently Principal Yamada decided that with Miss Clare going home he needed a new assistant teacher quickly and apparently my Japanese is good enough to pass muster for the teaching job. Besides, he didn’t want to have to go through the madness of the JET program’s paperwork. Have you seen the forms? I have, if you bound all those papers into a single book you could club an ox to death with the thing.” I shuddered dramatically to drive home the point. Which promptly got a laugh out of most of the class.

    I chuckled with them for a moment, before I continued with my introduction. “If anyone’s wondering how I know Hirano, well, I had made an agreement with Principal Yamada about a month and a half ago. If I made sure to clean up after myself then I could use the weight room here to my heart’s content. About a month ago I had met Mr. Hirano, and I’d noticed he’d been having some troubles and I’d offered to have him join my strength training regimen. And now you know my past. So let’s continue with this class then. Yamada-Sensei, I guess you take the stage now?”

    I backed away and let Yamada do the heavy lifting, my job seemed to be having an example of a native speaker to hear and practice as well as some cultural exposure.

    The high point that day was when I was telling them not to be afraid to practice their English, otherwise they’d never learn. “It doesn’t really matter how your grammarstructure sounds. Well, it does, but not as much as it might in other languages. The thing about English is that it’s a bastard language, pardon my French (an idiom that got a chuckle from those that got it), meaning that the structure was broken from the old Anglo-Saxon when the Normans came over and brought their French and you can speak the words of the sentence in plenty of orders and still be understood.

    You might also catch some words from other languages interspersed through American English, that comes from how we had people from all over the world coming and bringing their mother tongues with them. There’s a joke I’ve come across before that English, especially American English, is the language that clubs other languages over the heads in a dark alley then rifles through their pockets for loose grammar.”

    Once that one got through to them, that got them laughing even harder. I took a quick bow. “Thank you! I’ll be here all week, and the week after that.”

    Once classes were done, I was heading over to the Nurse’s office to speak with Shizuka about how my first day of classes had gone, when I almost bumped into a young lady coming out of the office. The first thing I registered was long dark hair with a purple shade to it. “Oh, I’m sorry about that, miss.” I bowed in apology, then my eyes widened for an instant when I got a better look at my companion.

    Besides the purple hair which was easily as long as Shizuka’s, she also had blatantly non-Japanese blue eyes and an angular look to her face, reminding me of nothing so much as a bird of prey, those eyes had the same intensity and banked ferocity, just waiting to be let loose. Yep, I’d just met another member of the HOTD team, nation-wide acclaimed kendoka Saeko Busujima. She was easily as tall as Shizuka though not nearly as...bountiful, though she certainly had nothing to worry about on that front and what was I thinking this was a student! Likely one of mine!

    Thankfully she didn’t seem to have been too flustered as she bowed respectfully and said; “No, you did nothing wrong Brody-sensei, I opened that door at the wrong moment and I wasn’t looking where I was going.”

    “Well no harm no fuss then, I guess.” I said with a grin. Then I remembered where she’d walked out of. “Erm, I hope I’m not prying, but what brings you here to the Nurse’s office, you’re not hurt are you?” I glanced her over looking for bruises or other injuries, spotting nothing.

    “Oh no, I’m alright. I was just taking one of my teammates here, he sprained his wrist during practice today.” She replied, seemingly giving me a once-over as well, not like someone interested in the opposite sex but like someone sizing up someone else for a fight.

    “Well, I won’t delay you from your club activities, miss, so have a good day.” I bowed and she did as well, turning around and striding off back towards wherever the kendo dojo was located… wait a minute…

    “Erm, wait! Hold on, Miss Busujima, if I could have a moment.” I called out and trotted after her.

    She stopped and turned around, curious what my reason for stopping her could be. “Yes, Brody-Sensei?” Her eyes were now a bit curious.

    “You said you were part of the Kendo club, yes?” I asked, a plan beginning to form in my mind. “I wanted to ask you a favor. You see, an acquaintance of mine was an avid weapons collector, especially of Dark Ages European gear. But when he had to give some of his stuff away I ended up receiving some of it. Thing is, I’ve been wanting to learn how to use it for a while now, but I haven’t had anywhere to practice with them.”

    “And you wish to use the Kendo Dojo to practice?” She asked, her eyebrows arched.

    “Erm, yes, but I haven’t managed to find a club member before now and ask them, let alone their teacher, advisor or instructor if I could use the facilities, unless that’d be too presumptive.” I said a bit sheepishly.

    Her eyes narrowed for a moment. “What are they?” The look in her eyes seemed to indicate that she thought I might have a bunch of movie prop junk.

    “A Frankish Francisca battle axe, a German Iron Age long spear, and a full sized Germanic Round Shield with an Iron Boss, they’re all authentically forged and combat ready,though I can’t tell you the maker they seem to be excellently made from what I could tell.” I couldn’t help the small satisfaction I felt when her eyes widened at my words.

    “And they really ARE authentic?” Her tone was now a bit curious.

    “Authentic enough that I managed to hack a branch thicker than my wrist right off a tree over in the park. Had to run like the hounds of hell were after me I’ll admit. Some old lady spotted me hacking at trees and was calling for the police….please forget I said that.” I winced at the memory of that when I’d smuggled my weapons to the local park to try and get some practice with them. Apparently ROB had supernaturally sharpened them as they were razor sharp and hadn’t lost their edge in the slightest even after whacking on a tree with the ax for a minute.

    “Interesting….” She mused to herself, a spark flashing in her eyes. “Well, I have no issue with that nor should our advisor. When would you be practicing?”

    “Oh, erm, later in the evening. Usually I lift weights starting around 6:30 in the evening for about an hour, along with some endurance and sprints. But I think I could replace a few days of practice with my gear every evening.”

    “Very well, then I’ll see you at 6:30 tomorrow.” With that she turned and headed to her club.

    “Thank you... wait what?” I spluttered. I felt like I’d missed something here… ah well, I got a place to practice without old biddies accusing me of herbicide so that’s a plus.

    I walked into Shizuka’s office. And was surprised to see that Shizuka didn’t have the usual white blouse and black skirt she usually wore. Instead, she had a blue tank top with an unbuttoned white shirt and white, looser fitting skirt on.

    She was writing something down on some sort of form when she looked over at the door and saw me standing in the door. “Oh Tom! Hello, how was your first day teaching?”

    She walked over to the door with a slight spring in her step and her wide smile on her face. Still was a treat every time I saw her.

    “It went fine, Shizuka, the students seemed to like me well enough, even managed to get them to laugh a few times and they seemed to pay attention.”

    “That’s great, Tom, I knew you had it in you.” Her smile was, if anything, even brighter, then she started fidgeting a bit and averted her eyes.

    “What?” I asked.

    She snapped back at me then glanced at the young man sitting in one of the chairs, struggling very hard to look anywhere else but at the doorway.

    I nodded and stepped out of the room and back into the hallway. She followed and closed the office door behind her.

    “Well, some of my old college classmates were having a get together tonight. But my roomate Rika decided that she wanted to join us at the last minute, since she was a classmate as well, but now we’ve got an odd number of people and... well, Iwaswonderingifyoucouldcomealongwithus?” The last bit she blurted out in a bit of a tumble and it took me a moment to decipher what she’d said.

    I blinked for a moment then slowly asked; “You sure the others won’t mind me coming along?”

    “No, not at all, at least I don’t think they would. But it’s better to ask for forgiveness then for permission right?” She said that with more conviction that the situation warranted, but that was part of her charm.

    I considered this for a moment, I wasn’t exactly a social guru and this was a bit daunting but one look as Shizuka’s face and all objections turned to dust and blew away in the proverbial wind….yep...I had it bad alright….
    “Well, I’ve been needing to get out more and now I can say I’m a school teacher instead of a janitor, it’s got a bit more dignity to it don’t you think?” I said with a smile.

    “So you’ll come? Thank you so much! I’ll be sure to tell Rika. Here, let me give you the address.” She handed me the business card for a bar of some sort that was located on the far side of the city. Hmm...hadn’t been there before.

    “Alright, I’ll be there.”

    “Thank you again, Tom!” She surprised me by giving me a big bear hug… promptly short-circuiting my brain for several minutes while she went back into her office. I wasn’t sure HOW, exactly, I managed to get back to my apartment that evening, but I distinctly recall humming We Are the Champions at some point.
     
  5. Threadmarks: Part Five
    Brian Boru

    Brian Boru Versed in the lewd.

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    Again with thanks to Grey Rook for his Beta Work.
    It took me about half an hour to wash my face and change my clothes to something a bit more casual. Shizuka had called me and told me that this wasn’t a formal event in the slightest, so casual was best.

    When I’d gotten the teaching job Principal Yamada had given me an advance on my pay to get myself some clothes to wear for teaching, considering my Custodial work clothes and workout clothes weren’t going to cut it, to put it mildly. While I’d braved the local clothes store, I’d gotten myself some jeans and t-shirts along with a jacket for the colder weather when it would eventually come.

    Tonight, I’d worn a pair of loose-fitting jeans and a black t-shirt with nothing adorning it. I didn’t bother with the grey, hooded jacket I’d also purchased, considering how warm the weather was getting. After that, I’d hopped on the local bus and rode over to the bar that Shizuka and her old classmates had rented for the evening. I watched the town roll by, occasionally taking notes on the layout of certain roads, locations of hills, bridges, buildings, where people seemed to be the most concentrated and where they weren’t, all of these notes were jotted down in a small black notebook I had started using a few weeks ago when I’d realized just how long it had been since I had arrived here and had begun to really prepare for when Z-day arrived.

    I had also begun gathering information about just where exactly Tokonosu WAS in relation to the rest of the country.

    After a bit of work I’d finally figured out where Tokonosu was located. Tokonosu City was a part of the larger Nagoya metro-area one of the three great metropolitan concentrations of Honshu, the later was also the capital of Aichi Prefecture which consisted of the old provinces of Owari and Mikawa of Sengoku Jidai fame. Tokonosu had been the center of the holding of a Daimyo clan known as Takagi whom had built up the area as an homage to Osaka, including their castle which was a miniature of Osaka castle itself.

    According to local history, the Takagi clan had originally been sworn to the Toyotomi’s and had suffered during the defeat of Ishida Mitsunari at the battle of Sekigahara. They had, luckily, not been large enough to warrant destruction and had been allowed a reduced part of their ancestral holdings in Tokonosu where they had remained ever since. One Takagi ancestor had managed to visit Osaka castle and had convinced the Shogunate to allow them to mimic the larger castle. How he’d managed to do that was unfortunately lost in the mists of time, but folklore went that he challenged the incumbent Shogun’s champion swordsman for the right and had won after a bout that had nearly killed both men.

    The family had survived the Meiji restoration and had been awarded the title of Baron which they had held until the end of the Second World War and the occupation. The Takagi clan had been wrecked by the war financially and had ended up being forced to sell their family castle in the wake of the old land holdings being broken up.

    They hadn’t left Tokonosu though, continuing to serve the area for years. There were also rumors that the current head of the house, one Souichiro Takagi, had plans to purchase back his ancestral home from the government, though many considered claims like that idiotic, but the fact that they existed at all were a strong indicator of the waves Souichiro was making in the city.

    I grimaced at the thought of meeting the man, from what I had remembered from the Manga and Anime the man was hardass through and through, and the fact that he was a right-wing nationalist party leader made me sweat a bit at the thought of actually meeting him after Z-day. Hopefully the man wouldn’t outright kick me out... or his followers...well, I’d cross that bridge when it came up.

    I was just coming to that resolution when I noticed that I was at my stop. I quickly got off of the bus and glanced at the address again along with the slightly gibberishy directions that Shizuka had apparently given me in my haze. Seriously, who writes smiley faces on directions... heh, even had a chibi picture of her face in the corner… she had talent with that…

    Chuckling, I tucked the paper back into my pocket and went on my way. Glancing around at the towering buildings that made up this part of the city, watching the mass of people moving through its busy streets. A cold feeling entered the bottom of my stomach as I thought about how this was all going to disappear in less than a year’s time. Thousands of these people were going to be dead very soon and most likely worse than that. It was a chilling thought. I wished that I could somehow stop this from happening or at least spare the people of this city, there were people here I considered friends. I shook my head, there’s not a damn thing I could do to stop what was coming, merely use the tools I had to do the best I could. Beyond that, well, I was merely a man and couldn’t hope to do beyond what a man could do, the rest was in God’s hands.

    I was shaken out of my musings when I heard a female voice shouting my name. “TOM! Hey! Tom! Over here!”

    I looked around and spotted Shizuka waving at me from about 30 feet up the sidewalk I’d come. She was wearing the same outfit I’d seen her in earlier that day and looking DAMN good in it. Next to her in a pair of black slacks and a white shirt with an unbuttoned black shirt was a tanned woman with purple hair, though unlike Saeko’s this one’s hair was had a more reddish tint to it. She was wearing a pair of dark shades and a slightly exasperated look on her face as she watched her friend's antics.

    Ah so this must be the famous Rika Minami I’d heard so much about from Shizuka… also the one with a small armory... useful to have, I must say. Well, my dad always said that win a girl’s friends and you win the girl... wait what?

    I was shaken out of my thoughts when Shizuka actually hugged me in public, eliciting the ire of everything with a Y chromosome within a two mile radius... not that I even thought about that when it happened.

    “Oh I’m so glad you came Tom, I was worried you might have changed your mind.”

    “W-wouldn’t have missed it for the world Shizuka.” I managed to wheeze out.
    Shizuka stepped back, a smile still on her face. “Oh, where are my manners? Tom, this is my roommate and best friend since college, Rika Minami. Rika-chan, this is Tom Brody,he’s the new teacher at the school I work at.”

    “A pleasure to meet you, Minami-san.” I said with a polite bow. I think I was getting the hang of the catch-all gesture.

    “Ah, so you’re the one Shizuka’s been bending my ear about for the past month.” Rika quipped, a smirk on her pretty face.

    “Rika-chan!” Shizuka squawked, a blush on her face.

    I could feel my face heating up as well. “Well, I hope it’s been all good things. She’s mentioned you before as well, law enforcement, right?”

    “That’s right. First Squadron chief for the prefecture and SAT sniper, so you’d better not ever tick me off, mister.” She said with a smile.

    “No fear of that, Minami-san, I like my innards where they are, thank you very much.” I said with a chuckle, though I knew damn well that she could blow my head off with easeif the need ever arose.

    That set her laughing again. “Ha, you didn’t mention he had a sense of humor, Shizuka. Though you were right and he does fill in a shirt nicely.”

    “Rika-chan, I never said that.” Shizuka all but shouted back.

    I wisely kept my mouth shut, no way no how was I going to enter that minefield.

    “Oh Shizuka, you know I was just teasing you, you’re so easy to get riled up sometimes.” Rika smirked.

    I coughed and said; “Well, ladies, shall we move on while some of us still have our dignity?”

    That got another laugh and the three of us went on our way. The two women leading the way while I followed a step behind.

    The bar they’d mentioned was only a few blocks further up the street. It wasn’t the most expensive looking place but it seemed inviting, and I could smell something cooking as well as other voices beginning to enjoy themselves.

    “This the place?” I asked. When they nodded I stepped aside and gestured with my hand. “Ladies first, then.” I said with a smile.

    “Oh, thank you.” Shizuka said and giggled while Rika said; “What a gentleman.” Some slight humor in her voice.

    “Just what I was taught, Ma’am.” I replied... an American Southern accent added to Japanese... sounded kinda funny… but I wasn’t about to break character as they both smiled again and I followed after them, thinking that this might be pretty fun.
    *****************​
    This was not fun. Well, actually, to be fair the evening HAD been pretty fun. Shizuka and Rika’s classmates had been a bit surprised to see a burly American Gaijin walk into the bar behind the two women. But when Shizuka explained why I’d been invited and had introduced me they’d been pretty quick to welcome me.

    The rest of the evening was spent with the former classmates reminiscing about classes, classmates, professors and college shenanigans. Not being an Alumni of their Alma Mater I’d listened to the conversations around me. Well, that was the plan but the others were curious about the Gaijin that had acted as ballast and occasionally brought me into the conversation, asking about my home, why I’d come to Japan, my work and how I knew Shizuka.

    I managed to deflect anything that might raise more questions about my place here and I was able to focus their attention on my sudden promotion partially as a snub at Mr. Shido.

    “That whole family’s rotten to the core.” One drunken male Alumni had said. "His father’s a crooked politician, his mother was a lush, I’ve heard his bastard brother’s just as bad and seems to be set up to replace him considering he’s already an intern for his father’s group. And I can’t imagine Shido’s all that happy about being replaced and he’s got all those young people to vent and manipulate. S’not right, not right at all.”

    While I agreed, it seemed more than a little tactless to say so in public and said as much. The man merely shrugged and stuck to his words.

    The conversation thankfully shifted to other trains of thought, or so I thought. Another female classmate was looking between me and Shizuka, before settling on me and saying; "So, are the two of you an item? Is that why Shizuka-chan here decided to invite you?”

    “N-no nothing like that at all. We’re just friends and co-workers is all.” I managed to splutter out.

    Shizuka was red as a beet as well, though if that was the booze or the conversation I couldn’t judge.

    The friend shrugged. “Well if you’re not, then could I borrow him?” She teased Shizuka with a smile. “Younger, a foreigner, AND he seems to take care of himself. Me likey.”

    I promptly choked and nearly drowned myself on the coke I’d been drinking, ROB did NOT prepare me for this new predicament!

    While I was trying to breathe and restart my brain, Shizuka beat me to the punch with an answer, sort of. The pretty woman had been sitting next to me for most of the evening, I guess because she was my unofficial sponsor for this get together, which meant she was easily able to lean deeply into me and giggle softly; “Tom-san’sss... not like that…”And with that she seemed to fall asleep with her head on my shoulder. That set the rest of the party howling.

    I weakly joined them. “Alright, I guess Marikawa-san’s had enough for tonight. Hey Miss Mina...mi?” I looked around for the tanned purplette but she was nowhere to be seen.

    “Um, where is she?” I asked, a bit nervous.
    “She left over an hour ago, something about a situation down at the station. She said that you might need to take Shizuka-san home.” A still somewhat-sober voice called out.

    “What?” I said, a bit stunned.

    A few minutes later I managed to get the young woman up on her feet and towards the door.

    The rest of the evening was NOT what I'd called fun. First, Shizuka was too far gone to tell me her damn address, then when I found her phone and tried to call Rika the woman either wouldn’t or couldn’t answer her phone.

    Then I learned that the buses had stopped running and the area didn’t have a Taxi service, which meant I had to half walk half drag a giggly Shizuka Marikawa several miles to my place to hold her over at least until she sobered. It didn’t help matters that she practically clung to me the entire way and mentioned at least twice that we looked like a couple.

    Then about half a mile from my place it started to rain. “GOD DAMMIT WHAT ELSE ARE YOU GOING TO THROW AT ME?!” I had half roared.

    “Thatz not nicee Tom.” Shizuka had muttered.

    Finally, after what had felt like an eternity, I managed to drag my companion up my stairs and into my apartment. “Finally made it I HATE summer rains!” I muttered.

    I then tried to towel myself off as best I could after handing Shizuka one as well. Once we’d dried our hair I’d handed her a pair of my shorts and a t-shirt. “You’ll get sick if you stay in that wet outfit, so I guess you can borrow some of mine while we dry out yours, probably won’t fit right.” I muttered.

    Shizuka thanked me, then began to lift her wet top. “Wait! Not here! I have a bathroom, you can change there!” I managed to choke out.

    Shizuka had tilted her head then said "Okay" before walking into the bathroom. Taking advantage of the privacy I’d quickly changed my own clothes before pulling out some blankets and an extra pillow. Even if she’d sobered up enough that I wasn’t fearing for her life, I wasn’t about to let her out into that rainstorm, not this late.

    I had finished setting out another sleeping spot when Shizuka had walked out of my bathroom, the shirt and pants not fitting her radically differing body shape, but damn me if she didn’t look good in it.

    “Alright, Shizuka, you can sleep here on my futon, I’ll take this blanket over here.” Once she showed that she understood that, I made sure she was settled down and had the blanket over her before bedding down myself. Shizuka was already snoring faintly when I finally managed to lay down and drift off myself.

    The next morning, I woke up with an odd sensation next to me. I didn’t recognize it in my sleepy haze but it felt nice. I blinked a few times and managed to turn my head to see to my mild horror that Shizuka had gotten out of her futon and had gotten under my blanket with me, and not only that, she’d managed to wrap both arms around my chest like I was a giant stuffed animal... ah, so that's what those two things were, pressing into my side.

    As I watched that sleeping beauty next to me, one word escaped my lips. “Fuck.”

    “Language, Tom-kun.”
     
  6. Threadmarks: Part Six
    Brian Boru

    Brian Boru Versed in the lewd.

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    It took me about ten minutes to finally extricate myself from her grip - she was amazingly strong for her size - but I finally managed to escape without waking her up.

    After checking to see that she was still asleep, I padded over to my refrigerator, opened the door and grabbed a coke bottle. I quickly twisted the cap off and chugged the 20 oz of caffeinated goodness. When I was a kid I’d never been able to stand the smell of coffee, just walking down the coffee aisle would make my stomach turn. After watching my parents always drinking the stuff in the morning I’d sworn to myself that I would never become reliant on caffeine in the morning to get going, if only to avoid being forced to need that foul smelling java. I chuckled mildly to myself, I still ended up being like ninety percent of the first world, I just had a different delivery system for my poison.

    I was about to let out the routine belch I normally made after chugging a coke but stopped myself and was a little more discreet instead. I DID have a lady over, after all, and I didn’t want to wake her up with a burp I swore had made dust fall from the ceiling at least once. Once I’d vented the carbonation from my stomach, I tossed the bottle into a bin saved for recycling and then set to work making breakfast. It was just some simple scrambled eggs as I wasn’t usually one for the so-called most important meal of the day, preferring to eat a bigger meal later on, but I didn’t know Shizuka’s own eating habits and I’d always heard that a guy who made breakfast for a girl he had over was a good one.

    That made me pause for a moment and think about the odd situation I was in. Back home, if someone had told me that I was going to be fixing breakfast for a gorgeous woman after she’d spent the night at my place, I’d have never believed them. Yet here I was, funny how the world worked sometimes. The question was, did I want to keep this, whatever ‘this’ was, going?

    I glanced over towards Shizuka’s sleeping form, who’d just so happened to kick off the blanket she’d been covered with, shirt I’d loaned her hiking up, exposing most of her midriff…

    ...whelp, that had answered that question.

    Resolving that question, I pushed the eggs off the skillet onto a plate, placed said plate with silverware on my small table that officially sat two, even though I’d had trouble eating on it just by myself sometimes. Then I walked gently back over to Shizuka and gently shook her awake. “Shizuka. Could you wake up? I’ve got breakfast if want any.”

    It took her a while before she managed to return from the land of Nod, her eyes almost completely shut as she tried to take in her location with her sleep-addled mind. Eventually she looked down at the clothing she was wearing. That must have clicked in her mind, panic flooded her as she turned bright red. It was oddly adorable, but I’m not the sort to allow people to wallow in misconceptions.

    “Relax, Shizuka, nothing happened. You were too drunk to tell me how to take you home and your friend had left earlier without telling me where you lived and she wouldn’t answer when I tried to call her. Things kinda went downhill from there as I decided to have you sleep last night off at my place. Unfortunately, the weather decided to disagree and we got soaked. I lent you some dry clothes and you managed to change yourself in my bathroom while I changed out here. Don’t worry, everyone’s honor is intact.” I finished my explanation with a grin.

    Shizuka proceeded to go beet red and bowed her head. “I’m so sorry Tom-san. I shouldn’t have drunk so much. I know I get silly when I drink, and I also got the both of us soaking wet, we could have gotten sick from that.”

    “Relax, Shizuka, it wasn’t any trouble. Well, okay, it was frankly a pain in the ass, but that was the rain more than anything else and that was neither of our faults.” I frowned. “If anything, it was your friend Rika’s fault that we were in that mess. Seriously, she could have told us ya’ll’s address when she was leaving. Next time you see her, could you tell her that I’d appreciate it if she wouldn’t vanish on an incapacitated friend?”

    Shizuka spoke up then. “It wasn’t Rika-chan’s fault, if she’s called then she has to go, no matter what she was doing before.” An angry glint flashed in her eyes and I knew that I’d overstepped myself.

    “Alright, alright...sorry I said anything. That offer of breakfast still stands if you like.” I said a bit sheepishly.

    Shizuku humphed before getting out of the blankets and striding over the table, sitting down and after looking at my eggs for a moment she took the fork I had placed on the table and took a bite of the eggs. She chewed them for a moment before swallowing. “Not bad, Tom-san, do you have salt?”

    “Yes, let me get it for you.” I quickly retrieved the salt and placed it in front of her. She added a small shake and took another bite.

    “Better." She said in a short tone.

    “Glad you enjoy it. I’ll admit I’m not the best cook around.” I replied, slightly relieved.

    We sat there in silence for a while before I ventured to talk again. “So, Shizuka… I had fun last night with you and your friends. I’m glad that you invited me.”

    Shizuka must have calmed down from my slighting of Rika as she smiled back at me. “I’m glad that you could come. It was fun as well. My old classmates seemed to like you.”

    “Well, that’s good…” I paused, unsure of how to continue. I rubbed the back of my neck and glanced around my apartment, nerves making finding what to say next damn near impossible.

    Shizuka noticed my discomfiture after finishing off her eggs and spoke up; “Yes, Tom?” I noticed that she’d dropped the honorific again.

    “Oh, erm, well... I was just thinking... I wouldn’t mind going out with you again... just the two of us... there’s a movie that’s coming out soon and I was wondering if you’d like...to go see it... with me?” Eloquence, thy name is NOT Tom Brody when asking women out, especially gorgeous women, even IF you’ve become pretty good friends with them. I KNEW I’d screwed this up and I could feel my cheeks flushing. Dammit, I thought I’d gone beyond this shit!

    Shizuka watched me doing an impressive impression of a fire hydrant for few agonizing heartbeats, then with that grin that’d nearly made me street pizza that first day I’d arrived here she replied. “I thought you’d never ask, Tom-kun. Rika-chan assured me her plan would work but I didn’t believe her.”

    What.

    Her smile widened as she got up from the table and patted me on my cheek, the touch of her skin almost like a brand. “You know, Tom-kun, you shouldn’t make a girl wait, she might decide to be sneaky to get things moving. Sunday sounds wonderful, but let me go see if my clothes have dried off, we’ll talk about which movie we’ll go see after that.”

    With that she walked into the bathroom.

    “So, was that a yes?”
     
  7. Threadmarks: Part Seven
    Brian Boru

    Brian Boru Versed in the lewd.

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    With thanks to Grey Rook here's Part Seven

    As I headed out from my final class of the day, I still hadn’t lost the silly grin that I had had plastered on my face since that morning. I had a date, for the first time in my entire life I had a date! Not only that, but it was with one of the most gorgeous women in Japan, if not the world, though that might have been bias talking. I don’t think my feet touched the ground that entire day, and I’m pretty sure that people were looking at me funny but who cared!

    It was in that hazy state of bliss that I was brought back to reality when I heard a female voice calling my name, one that sounded oddly familiar. I turned around and was sucked back to reality when I spotted one Miss Saeko Busujima looking at me askance. “Sensei? Are you alright?”

    That quickly reminded me of the conversation I’d had with the young woman the day before. “Oh right, sorry, I had a bit of a crazy evening the day before, I’d forgotten you’d allowed me to use your dojo. I haven’t even brought my stuff today. Terribly sorry, Ms. Bujishima.” I quickly bowed in apology. “But if you’re willing to wait I can go get it from my apartment, I literally live a couple of minutes away.”

    She looked me over. A girl that age shouldn’t be able to berate a grown-ass man with just her eyes. Then she seemed to shrug it off. “I heard from the nurse’s office about your... adventure last night. A man shouldn’t apologize for doing a good deed, just come to the practice room as soon as you can.” With a faint smile on her face she turned and began heading towards the kendo room. For some reason, I felt like I’d passed an extremely important test.

    Deciding not to dwell on that particular line of thought, I exited the school grounds and ran down back to my apartment. I quickly walked over to my closet and opened the door, pushing aside the clothing I kept in there including a leather biker’s outfit, something I hoped I could use when THAT day came, and pulled out the shield, axe, and spear, all three of them wrapped in heavy cloth.

    After checking to make sure that they were still in good condition, I strapped the shield over my back, stuck the axe through my belt and kept the spear over my shoulder like a hobo stick. I looked ridiculous, but it was the best I could do at the time.

    Locking the door behind me I quickly walked back up the hill to the school, purposefully ignoring the looks a few people gave me with the wrapped weapons. It only took me another few minutes to get back to the school proper and find the Kendo Dojo.

    It was a traditional-looking building set on the school grounds, someone must have greatly appreciated the art when they donated to the school.

    Slipping off my shoes, I quickly entered the building. I noted that Busujima was kneeling towards the back of the dojo, she’d managed to change into a kendo uniform in the time it took me to get back to the school. When she saw me shut the door behind me she smiled and rose to her feet.

    “That was quicker than I expected, Sensei.”

    “Well, like I said, I live right near the school so it was no problem getting to my apartment and back.”

    “Convenient, so Sensei, let me see this gear you’re wanting to learn how to use. Axe fighting isn’t my area of expertise but I might be able to point out a few things.”

    “Alright then, let’s take a look at these.” And with that I unwrapped the axe and shield from their coverings. I heard a slight gasp from Saeko when I unwrapped the axe blade. I was a blithering moron when it came to weapons but even I could tell that a master had put his heart into forging the axe head, the curve of theFrancisca battle-axe’s head was absolutely perfect, and the steel glistened like ice in the afternoon sun.

    I took a few steps back from Saeko and after hefting the axe a few times, I gave it a few practice swings, it was perfectly balanced as far as I could tell and I felt a sort of rightness with the world when I swung the blade in a few lazy swings.

    I then placed the blade on the ground and turned my attention to the shield. It seemed to be a work of art as well, made of solid wooden planking as well as having an iron rimming around the edge and tough leather making up the front. The front was painted a pure white background and a black raven painted in Norse style, if I recalled it actually the same Raven stitched into the Raven banner that the sons of Ragnar Lodbrok bore with him when they led the Great Heathen Army to the shores of Britain to fulfill their oath to avenge their father’s death. ROB, or whatever power had sent me here, had a sense for the dramatic. The boss was made of solid steel and had some etchings that reminded me of Norse knotwork, wonderfully made, and I think I could see dragons and other creatures in the boss.

    Even though I’d seen them before, it was still a sight to see these obvious works of master craftsmanship.

    I slid my hand into the boss-grip, while not light it wasn’t as monstrously heavy as I’d expected. I shifted the thing high to low and back several times before punching forward with it a few times. Once I was satisfied with that I picked the axe back up, holding it in my right hand while I kept the shield in my left. Bending my legs a hair and keeping on the balls of my feet, I moved my right foot back so that my shield was forward.

    At this point Saeko spoke up. “You might have the right idea, Sensei, but you’re too stiff, relax a bit more and straighten your legs a bit. Yes, like that. Feeling more comfortable?”

    “Actually yes, I am, thank you.” I replied, bobbing my head towards her in thanks. With that, I began some practice swings, just using what felt right to me. Overhand, underhand, sideswing, punch forward, hook and pull, punch with the handle and shield punch, they were a simple set of strikes, but considering that I only had about ten months to learn them simple was ideal. For about half an hour I continued to practice with the axe and shield with strike after strike after strike. It wasn’t perfect and I was sure there were better ways to go about this, but I needed to start somewhere.

    It was about then I noticed that Saeko was watching my - what I felt was - moronic flailing about. She wasn’t in her kneeling position and when I looked around I saw that she’d been practicing on a dummy along one side of the building, but it was still odd to be watched with such intensity. “Is something the matter, Miss Busujima?” I finally asked.

    “No, Brody-Sensei... you said you’ve never actually used that axe or shield before?” She replied, a slight look of interest on her face.

    “Other than a few swings in the park one time, no. Why do you ask? My flailing about that obvious?” I asked with a self-deprecating chuckle.

    “No, it’s not that bad, but you’ve got some impressive stamina, wielding a blade requires the use of muscles you normally don’t use or at least not in the way you need, most who first start working with a weapon would be spent after a few minutes and you’ve been going for half an hour already.” She replied.

    I blinked at that, I’d always had pretty good stamina and the ability to shrug off discomfiture, but half an hour? I didn’t even realize so much time had gone by, I was kind of impressed with myself. “Huh, well, that’s good, I guess.” Right then the muscles of my arms and shoulders tightened up, the abuse I’d put them through finally catching up.

    Saeko noticed it immediately. “You over-exerted yourself, Sensei, you might want to get a drink of water and rest a few minutes before trying to continue.”

    I nodded and strode out and around the side of the building where I’d spotted a water fountain - the only sign of modernity in or around the building I’d spotted so far - and gulped down some water, quenching my thirst. Once I was finished I stood back up and stretched by arms in an attempt to keep any cramping or stiffness out. As I stretched I assessed my current situation. I still had about ten months before Z-Day came, in the past couple of months I’d been physically training myself to the best of my admittedly hazy memories of fitness and strength training I’d done with my high school football team and my father.

    I grimaced at that. My dad, my mom, my younger brother and sister. After I’d gotten the teaching job I’d decided to try and look up my family to see if they were here, if there was a possible other me living on the other side of the world. My findings weren’t comforting. My search was a failure, there was no record of any of my relatives or the firm my dad worked at.

    On a whim I decided to look up my grandfather, a WWII veteran whom I was named for. It was then that I found out why my family didn’t seem to exist. On a site dedicated to the Old Hickory Division was the name of a Tom Brody who was killed in action during Operation Cobra when the 30th Infantry got hit by friendly fire bombing. It had floored me when I saw it. I simply stared at that name over and over and over again. I looked up Operation Cobra, I saw how a British Bombing run had screwed up on their targeting and had dropped their payload right on top of the Division, causing a hundred casualties, my grandfather of this world apparently being one of them.

    Luckily, that had been a Sunday, meaning that I wasn’t missed because I was in a haze for the entire day. It had also finally hammered home that, without a shadow of a doubt, I was no longer home and that I likely wasn’t ever going back. For the first time in a long time I wept, I cried long and hard, I screamed, I shouted, I cursed, I threw things, stomped on the floor and even hurled things against the wall. I prayed long and hard, begging God, ROB, anyone to take me back home away from this madness and horror of a world about to die in waves of the undead. I begged for the answer to why I’d been brought here, for personal amusement, to act as a hero? I wasn’t a hero, I didn’t have it in me to be one, I was a 25 year old college graduate, I’d never been in the army, I’d never had any serious leadership experience. I had the social skills of a rock, there was no way in hell I could survive in this world, let alone thrive.

    I’d finally exhausted myself when the door to my closet groaned open. I had probably shaken it loose in my temper tantrum, though I was sure I’d shut that door properly. When it had opened wide, the weapons that had been given to me on my arrival had fallen out with a thudding clatter. The axe and spear heads and the shield boss glinted in the midday light that beamed into my room and hit them dead on. The Raven on the shield almost seemed to flap its wings.

    A rush of warmth and confidence seemed to fill me up from deep in my core. Whatever force had brought me here wouldn’t have given me so much time and such gear it had wanted to make me suffer and die quickly. I walked over to the fallen weapons, I picked the shield up and held it in my left, I hefted the axeand gave it a few practice twirls then stuck it into my belt. I then picked up the spear, beautifully balanced with a diamond shaped head about ten inches long and razor sharp. I gave it a few practice thrusts before holding it like I would a practice staff. I may be way over my head but I wasn’t helpless. Taking comfort in that, I carefully put the equipment back into the closet and closed the door. I didn’t have anywhere to practice with that gear, not yet. But I intended to rectify that as soon as I could.

    The rest of the apartment dwellers never commented on my outburst but I did see a bottle of sake sitting next to my door the next morning with a short note saying, “It won’t cure what ails ya but it’ll numb it long enough for you to deal with it.” No name was written below.

    That bottle was still in my home, unopened. I’d also taken to wearing a crucifix under my shirt and next to my skin from that day on.

    I was actually fingering the golden crucifix when Saeko interrupted my reminiscing behind the dojo. “Sensei? Are you alright?”

    Blinking away my wool gathering, I straightened up and stretched one more time before turning back to Saeko. “Yes, I’m doing fine, Miss Busujima. Would it be alright if I practiced here for a little while longer?” I asked. “I wasn’t planning to go longer than another fifteen minutes, if that’s alright with you and your club members. Where are the rest of them anyway?” I hadn’t seen anyone else besides Saeko since I came here.

    I was actually a bit surprised when Saeko seemed flustered as she answered. “Food poisoning. I told them that a sushi platter that cheap was a poor choice.”

    The image of the normally stoic young swordswoman that agitated was enough to make me start laughing. It took me a few seconds to get back under control but eventually I managed to wheeze out; “I see, my sympathies, Miss Busujima and I hope your clubmates have a speedy recovery.”

    Saeko flushed for a second then bowed. “Thank you for the gesture, Sensei. As for your question, yes you can continue for a while longer. If you want, you could keep your gear here if you like.”

    Smiling, I bowed again. “Thank you Miss Busujima, that’d be greatly appreciated, it certainly makes it easier to not have to carry all that stuff back and forth from my house.”

    “Not at all, Sensei, it’s a pleasure to see someone interested in the old methods of combat, even if it isn’t with the sword.” She answered.

    She seemed to consider something for a moment then continued; “If you’d like some help with the spear as well, I think I might have an idea. I’m not experienced with that weapon but I know the captain of the Sojutsu club and she might be able to help you there.”

    I thanked her again and then went back into the Dojo to continue my practicing. The next day was the first time I met the next member of the original crew, one Rei Miyamoto.
     
  8. Threadmarks: Part Eight
    Brian Boru

    Brian Boru Versed in the lewd.

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    With thanks to both Grey Rook and Traiden for their part here's part #8


    The next afternoon, I was introduced to the Sojutsu club and their captain, a young lady by the name of Torako Saotome. I’d blinked at the surname but decided to ignore the joke that bubbled in my brain about swarms of fiances and cursed water. I quickly bowed at the smaller young woman, and thanked her for being willing to give me a few pointers.

    Torako was somewhat cold when she replied; “I’m sorry to say, Sensei, that it’s likely only going to be a few pointers. Our club is preparing for a big tournament and I need to give them my full attention if we’re going to do well.”

    “I understand, just a quick rundown of how not to stab myself in the foot would be a great help by itself.” I replied. Well, it was not what I was hoping for but I’d take what Icould get, and besides, whatever spear work they used likely wouldn’t correlate with what I was going to be using it for besides the very basics. But like I’d told her, I’d take what I could get.

    “So, could I see what your spear looks like? It’d help with what I need to start with your training.” Torako asked.

    “Ah, right here.” I grabbed the cloth-wrapped bundle that had been leaning on the wall behind me. I handed it over to her, allowing the young woman to unwrap the cloth. The long Germanic Spearhead flashed under the light of the flourescent lights of the Sojutsu Club’s dojo. The blade alone was a good ten inches in length with the sheathing that fit over the shaft adding about ten more inches to the thing, then there was the solid ash spear shaft. All told the thing was over seven feet in length and utterly deadly.

    Torako hefted the thing, seeming to find the balancing point for it and grunting in satisfaction at what she found. Then she handed it back to me. “Not bad, Brody-Sensei, whoever made the spearhead and shaft was a true master of the craft. I hope you will treat such a fine weapon with the outmost respect it deserves.”

    “Of course I will, Miss Saotome.” I answered, slight satisfaction that one experienced in the art I was trying to learn seemed to approve of my gear.

    We were interrupted when the door to the Dojo slammed open and in dashed a pretty young girl, younger than Saotome. Her eyes were a chestnut brown with two antennae-like strands rising from her hairline. Ah, so this is Rei Miyamoto, I think I have a class with the young woman though I couldn’t recall exactly.

    Miyamoto seemed to be breathing heavily like she’d been running to the Dojo. “Miyamoto-san, so glad you could show up.” Saotome answered dryly.

    “I’m sorry, Senpai, I was talking with Shido-Sensei about a misunderstanding about my grades.” The young woman apologized with a bow. Then she noticed me standing there. “Brody-Sensei? What brings you here?”

    I smiled and bowed. “Good afternoon, Miss Miyamoto. I inherited a spear from a friend of mine and Miss Saotome happened to be nice enough to help me get started on learning how to use it.” A concerned look spread across my face. “Is something the matter with Shido-Sensei?”

    Rei grimaced and shook her head. “Nothing really, Sensei, there was just something funny going on with my grades in his class and I wanted to talk to him about it is all. Nothing to worry about.”

    I frowned for a moment. So the son of a bitch was already starting his revenge run on a young girl over what her father was doing to his father? Well, I’d do something about that if I could.

    **********​

    “Ah Koichi-San, I’ve been looking for you.” A few days later I finally managed to track down the skinny bastard in one of the many hallways that made up the school here.

    The bespectacled man turned around, his eyes not showing his thoughts as he pasted a smile on his face. “Good afternoon Brody-San. What can I do for you?”

    “It’s actually about a student of ours, Rei Miyamoto? I've heard she’s been having trouble in your class?” I answered, keeping my voice even and polite.

    “Yes, I know who you’re talking about. What about her?” He answered his tone also flat but I had the feeling he was wondering where I was going with this.

    “Well I just don’t understand why she’s having a hard time in your class. I’m the Assistant Teacher in her English class and she’s doing really well. Not only that but when I asked around she doing great in her other classes too, yours is the only one she’s struggling in at the moment. Why is that?” I looked him dead in the eyes with that last sentence demanding a good answer.

    A condescending smirk spread across his face and he closed his eyes and turned his head slightly, “What can I say Brody-San? Every student has their problem subject. Can I help it if my class just so happens to be…”

    With a snarl I grabbed him by the lapels of his coat and slammed him against the wall, actually lifting him a few inches off the ground. Then in a clipped tone I ground out, “Listen you SMUG Sonovabitch! I don’t know what that poor girl’s done to you but either you put her grades back to normal or so help me….”

    “You’ll what? Report me to the principle?” For a man threatened by someone at least fifty pounds heavier than him, he was amazingly calm about it. He glared at me with those snake like eyes of his. “He won’t fire me. My father and brother have made sure of that.

    Glaring at him I said, “What about your father’s current problems with Officer Miyamoto’s investigation on him for corruption charges? I’m sure people might notice if his son was going after an upstanding officer’s daughter as retaliation.”

    That seemed to get to him as his eyes widened in shock for a moment, it didn't last long to my confusion. “I don’t know how you learned about that but if you’re resorting to blackmail than two can play at that.”
    Confused I let him back down to the ground. After straightening his jacket he turned back to me. “When I learned you became a teacher here I got curious about you. So I had someone I knew in the government track you down. There isn't much about you Brody-San, you appear in town not long before you got the Janitorial position here at the school.

    "All your paper-work was in order but it seemed not many people remembered processing those papers; and when they tried to learn when you arrived in Japan there was nothing. You just appeared out of the blue with all official documents. Very suspicious Brody-san, very suspicious indeed. I’m sure there are plenty of people in government that would love to learn who you really are Brody-san, and I’m sure my family could assist in pushing that through.” He finished with a grin.

    That son of a bitch, my face reddened and I started to clench my fists so hard they began to tremble. “You...Son of A….”

    “Yes, yes you've already insulted my mother once Brody-san, no need to repeat it.” He cut me off with an incredible nonchalance.

    Then he continued, “Now this is what is going to happen. We are going to forget we ever had this conversation and you stop looking into how I run my classes nor are you going to mention anything to anyone. Otherwise you will either; be deported, or be locked away in a small, dark room for a very long time are we clear Brody-san?”

    I didn’t say anything, it took everything not to just leap out at that bastard right then and there. Seeing I hadn’t responded, he stepped closer and had his face a few inches from mine. “Perhaps you didn’t hear me, Are We Clear Brody-San?”

    “Crystal.” I finally ground out.
    “Excellent, I’m glad we could have this conversation. Well unless you have something else to say, have a nice day Brody-san” He then turned to leave but stopped at the last minute. “Oh, one more thing…”
    He then backhanded me across my face, it wasn't a very strong blow but it did leave a red mark on my cheek, “That was for insulting my mother.” He then walked off down the hallway. Leaving me with my impotent rage.

    That evening I demolished a tree in one of the more secluded parts of the park. People interviewed on the news the next day said it looked like a deranged pack of lumberjacks had gone after the tree.

    **********​

    That Sunday I was still in something a foul mood but thankfully I had managed to hide it for the most part from Shizuka when we went on our date. The movie was something for a forgettable rom-com. Something about a man from the modern age who’d fallen through time to the Hiei-era and used his photographic memory of Shakespeare to woo some servant of a court noble woman. Unfortunately he sent his message to the wrong person and had half of the court ladies losing their damn minds over the beauty of his poems.​

    It made me chuckle a few times but was a bit forgettable otherwise. Shizuka enjoyed it though and I would be the first to admit it was nice how she grabbed my hand during some of the sappier moments of the film.

    When I took her home (a really nice place to be honest, apparently being in the police paid well). She said her friend Rika forked the bill for most of it with Shizuka promising to make up for it once she became a proper doctor. She stopped at the doorway and smiled, “I had fun today Tom, I’d like to keep doing this.”

    Swallowing I said, “So would I Shizuka.” Yes I didn't stutter that time. PROGRESS!!!

    Then Shizuka surprised me when she turned around and kissed me on the cheek. “We’ll have to do something else next Sunday Tom. I’ll see you at the school tomorrow. Good-night.”

    “Y-yeah..goodnight.” I squeaked out.

    My feet didn't touch the ground the whole way home.

    **********​

    Several weeks later I was training with Kohta when he surprised me by speaking up during weight lifting. “Sensei. Could I ask you a favor?”

    Pulling my earbuds out so I could pay attention to him. “In the weight room it’s either Tom or Brody, but yes Kohta?”

    “Well I was talking with some of the guys in the manga club and they noticed how I wasn’t being bothered anymore and how I’ve gotten more fit lately, and they wanted to know how I did it. So I told them that you’ve been helping me with strength training and conditioning. It seems that they’re curious about joining us and I told them that I’d have to speak with you first so…”

    “If they want to join us I have no problem, so long as it doesn't interrupt anything important. We don’t start until after club activities are over anyway. Just make sure they know what they’re getting into. I’m not going to be cruel but even gentle is going to be hard in the beginning.” A thought then began forming in my mind. It had been bothering me how I knew that a vast majority of the men, women, boys and girls at this school were likely going to die in less than a year.

    But that didn't haven’t to be that way. I’d been growing in leaps and bounds with my ax and spear work, maybe I could starting showing others a few pointers soon...so maybe...well I’d have to get the funds for it first.

    “How many might be joining us?” I finally asked.

    “Maybe five or six guys.” He said, a slightly relieved look on his face. That’s a start.

    “Sounds fine to me. Tell them to come in tomorrow.” I said.
     
  9. 2 Hot Crown Subdues the Sinful

    2 Hot Crown Subdues the Sinful Desu Vult!

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    Don't like the part with Koichi Shido, what kind of ROB is that lazy/bad at their thing?
     
  10. wayne82444

    wayne82444 Experienced.

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    It could have been deliberate on the ROBs part. Basically put there to stop him from interfering with things to much before the series starts, while being unnoticeable enough that it would never come up if he hadn't made a big enough impression for someone to specifically look into it. Either way I'm enjoying the story, and I'm glad to see Brody is looking into making it so more people survive, even if he likely can't save to many.
     
  11. moonberserker

    moonberserker Versed in the lewd.

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    I believe in you Tomo Boradi!
     
    Lone Wolf 666 and DariusXXI like this.
  12. Threadmarks: Part Nine
    Brian Boru

    Brian Boru Versed in the lewd.

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    Again with thanks to Grey Rook Here's Part Nine.


    The next afternoon, I was caught by surprise when, instead of the five that Kohta had said might have shown up, a full dozen young men had shown up. Most were first-years, though there were a couple of second years among them as well. I also noticed that most of them were that classic string-bean build of those who’d never lifted anything heavier than a bookbag. “Got my work cut out for me.” I muttered under my breath.

    “Alright boys, first question, do any of you have any pre-existing conditions that I might need to know about? Asthma, diabetes, chronic low blood-sugar or the like?” I asked in a clear voice, shaking most the guys out of their conversations or reading materials. When noone said anything I continued. “Alright ‘gents, I feel like I need to warn you so listen up. This will not be a picnic, as Kohta over there can tell you this is going to be tough. I won’t demand what you can’t provide nor am I looking to push you to the point of breaking, but neither am I going to accept anything short of your best.

    “Judging from your physiques, not a single one of you have ever lifted weights. Am I correct?”

    I got nods from all of them.

    “Right, first thing we’re going to do is see where you boys stand. After that we’ll start you on the same regimen Kohta’s doing, at a lower weight, of course. Don’t get discouraged if you can’t do the same weights one of your classmates can do. They don’t matter, all that matters is giving it your all. We clear?”

    More nods, good. I think I got the point across.

    “Right let’s go over a few rules then we’ll get your maxes down…”

    I then explained the rules of the weight room to them, making sure they understood clearly not to get in the way of people, to always pay attention to their surroundings, tobe careful around weights and bars.

    Then we went through their maxes so we could have something to work from… it was rather embarrassing to watch and I remembered how badly Kohta had done when he started. Glancing over to Kohta, I noticed with satisfaction that he was doing at least three times the weight of the next best in the entire group. He and the others noticed as well, and like I’d hoped it had a good effect on my first trainee. Thankfully, the others seemed to take heart from Kohta’s effort instead of being discouraged. Good, if they saw Kohta as someone to match then they’d work all the harder.

    About an hour later they’d gone through their one-repetition maxes and seemed to already be a bit fatigued. “Right, all written down, I’ll be sure to get a chart and put everyone’s maxes on there. Now, before you complain, that isn’t to embarrass you guys, it’s so you can look at your max and figure out the weights you’ll need to do at a glance when we do the real thing.”

    “Now as trying to do an actual workout now would be counter-productive, we aren’t pumping iron today. Follow me, we going to do some stairs.” Oh those innocent faces, they have no idea what is about to happen to them.

    **********

    “...and the entire staircase now smells of puke! It’s unsanitary!” Two days later I was standing in the principal’s office with one Kyoko Hayashi, a history teacher and the advisor for the Ping Pong club. The latter wasn’t really pertinent to the situation, though.

    What was, was her complaints about the consequences of that first day of stair runs, I’d been lucky with Kohta in that he seemed to have the same cast-iron stomach I had and wasn’t inclined to puking from exertion, six of the new guys, on the other hand, most certainly were. When that had happened I’d called an end to the stair runs early and had the guys who were doing alright help me clean up the mess that had resulted.

    Apparently we hadn’t done a good enough job as I’d been hauled into the principal’s office to get a tongue lashing from the resident disciplinarian. To be fair, she pulled off ‘strict librarian’ amazingly well. Long, auburn hair, the classic glasses and a full figure. Also only a few years older than me, how she wasn’t already married I never understood though the vehemence with which she was going on about my ‘illicit activities’ where I’d been ‘abusing’ the students like a ‘meat headed thug’ was a bit on the harsh side.

    Mister Yamada had waited until she was winding down before cutting in. “Miss Hayashi, Mister Brody here has already talked with me several times and I’ve already given my permission for him to work with anyone who wants to join his group. He already warned me that this might happen, though I doubt he expected half of them to do so all at the same time.” That got a nervous chuckle out of me and a basilisk glare from the older woman. “I also told him that as long as no one got hurt I had no problem with what he did, and Brody-san already said that he’d helped the ones who didn’t get ill clean everything up and he even warned the Janitor the next morning who said that the... splashed… area was as clean as feasible and the only thing else to do is wait for the smell to fade.”

    Miss Hayshi was stymied for a moment at how calm and accepting Yamada was at what she felt was justifiable outrage over obvious student abuse and clear misuse of a teacher’s place of authority.

    Seeing that she wasn’t going to answer immediately Yamada continued; “Hayashi-san, do you know which students decided to join up with Brody-san’s weight-training group?”

    When she shook her head he continued. “I do and I also know that each and every one of them has had at least one unpleasant interaction with the Track and Field club. If this can help them at all then I’m certainly all for it.”

    Yamada didn’t continue and to be honest, he didn’t have to. Miss Hayashi understood immediately why these young men had returned even after puking their guts out. Shidou was the advisor to the track and field club - one of the worst in the Nagoya metropolitan area, I might add - and his club seemed to attract the more unpleasant members of the student body. Shidou’s presence certainly didn’t help either, if anything the man made things worse.

    When Ms. Hayashi heard this her entire demeanor changed. She turned to me and said; “I see that I was misinformed about the nature of your group, Brody-san. My apologies.” She then bowed to me, not a deep one but enough to show that she was honest in her apology.

    “It’s nothing, Hayashi-san. I understand completely that you saw, or rather smelled, something terrible happening to the students under your care and you moved to do something about it. It’s really quite commendable, actually.” I said, a bit embarrassed at the sudden turn around. Damn, Shidou really wasn't liked here was he?

    “Thank you, Brody-san. I wish you and the students with you luck.” She bowed to the both of us and turned to leave, but right before she left, she turned back, “Actually, let me make it up to you, Brody-san, some of us teachers go out once a month as a group. Usually to one of the local bars. I think you’ve been here long enough to be invited. We’re planning our next get-together a week from now, if you're interested.”

    “Sounds like a great idea, would it be alright if I brought Shizuka-san with me?” I hadn’t been sure what the two of us were going to do this coming weekend and this seemed like a perfect idea.

    Something rippled over Hayashi’s face for an instant but I wasn’t able to translate it before she said that would be fine and closed the door. Huh, wonder what that was. Turning back to Yamada I said; “Well, she certainly changed her tune when she learned I was helping the victims of Shidou-san’s goon squad. Remind me again what’s the worst that could happen if we fired him?”

    “Our jobs would most likely be called into question, Brody-san. And don’t worry about Kyoko-san, she’s a bit stern and serious about her work, but her heart’s in the right place and she does care about the students here.” Yamada said, that same serene grin he always kept on his face as strong as ever.

    “Well, that’s good to know, unless you have anything else I need to know I probably should get back to my class before Kurokawa-san’s taken hostage by the students.” I said.

    Chuckling at my poor joke both of us said our good-byes and I left his office. The little secretary was glaring at me... again, but honestly I couldn’t have cared less.

    **********

    “Sensei, what kind of axe is that you practice with over at the Kendo dojo? I’ve never seen that style before”

    The question came from from one of the lankier members of my trainees. A guy by the name of Hayato Shirakawa, he’d been one of the six to lose his lunch that first day but had worked harder than anyone as far I could tell and had been making amazing progress since he started a month ago. He was a member of the manga club and had aspirations of making a historical manga, though he still wasn’t sure what the time period he wanted to use.

    Considering the fact that we were already done for the day I decided to humor the kid. “Oh that? Well, it’s called a Francisca Battle-axe, it's a type of weapon used by an old Germanic tribe called the Franks. It’s actually a brilliant bit of design with that shape.”

    “Really? How's that?” One of the others who’d listened in said.

    “Well, that’s because there’s a nasty little trick the Francisca does when you throw it. See how the Franks fought either against the Romans or other tribes, though when they were around that wasn’t too much of a distinction... anyway. What they did was they usually carried several of those axes and when they got within range they’d all throw one of their axes. If they hit then they’d likely ruin anything they struck but if they hit the ground the shape of the ax and handle would actually make the thing bounce, and I mean bounce hard enough that it could go clean over a man’s head or even hit people in the back. That’d ruin someone’s day, that’s for damn sure.”

    “It bounces? Yeah, right.” Another student called out. “Prove it, Sensei.”

    “You know what? Alright, I’ll show you how that thing can bounce. Anyone else want to watch?”

    I got affirmatives from all thirteen of them.

    “Right then, follow me.”

    We reached the dojo quickly enough. “Just wait outside here, guys and find me a clear spot will you?”

    I quickly slid the door open and, finding my axe, I grabbed the thing and dashed back out with it.

    “Alright guys, you find a spot?”

    They had, it was in a corner of the track, empty at this time of day. It was an open space that had been too odd a shape or too small to be used for anything and so had been left alone. The tall stone wall that separated the school from the rest of the world stood more than high enough to act as a back wall.

    “Right then... hmm... see those old chairs over there? Stack ‘em up about man height then stand WAY clear and just watch.”

    Once that was done, I hefted the axe a few times and gave it a few twirls in my hand, it spun fast enough to actually humm for a moment, anime physics can be awesome sometimes…

    It seemed to do the job of impressing all the young idiots with me. “Right then, here I go.”

    I reached back and hurled the thing, intentionally striking the ground in front of the stack of chairs. There was a sharp 'thunk' as the ax struck the ground and, true to itsword, it really did bounce and flew a good head’s length over the chairs. It didn’t stop there though, it actually hit the wall and bounced yet again, this time hitting the back of the top chair and making it fall off the stack with a crash.

    There was silence for a moment then the entire group began cheering like I’d done some amazing feat.

    “Do it again!” was the general response.

    After stacking the chairs again I hurled the thing again, and again the thing bounced though this time it hit the middle chair, sending both it and the top chair flying backwards... damn, anime physics are fun.

    “Alright, that’s enough guys. I’d rather not have someone get hurt, okay?” Despite a few grumblings they acquiesced. Hayato then surprised me when he picked up the axeand examined it for a moment. “You know, Sensei, my family used to be blacksmiths and my grandpa still has the old family forge in his backyard and is pretty good at it. He could probably learn how to make these pretty quickly.”

    I was about to ask why he would want to do that when that same thought came to my mind... hmmm... we might be on to something here. “If you want to, Hayato, I could lend you the axe so you could should show it to your grandfather next chance you get. It’d be nice to have a blacksmith take a look at it and tell me what he thinks.”

    “Thanks, Sensei, my family lives half an hour from the school, actually, I could show it to him Sunday.”

    “Right... you know it might be better if I came with you, just in case something happens, rather not have you in trouble if you were walking around with it.”

    “Good point, I’ll be sure to tell my folks you’ll be coming.”

    As the rest of us started heading back a plan really did begin to form in my mind. Now, could I teach a bunch of physically rehabilitated nerds how to be a warband? Well, it wouldn’t hurt to find out now would it? I also had all that pay I wasn’t really using, no real point in saving for retirement when the undead are coming in less than a year, is there? Now how to get the iron blanks…

    AN: Here's a video showing how a Francisca ax really WILL bounce.

     
  13. Threadmarks: Part Ten
    Brian Boru

    Brian Boru Versed in the lewd.

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    *Clink*

    *Clink*

    *Clink*

    “Damn, does this get repetitive,” I muttered to myself.

    *Clink*

    *Clink*

    *Clink*

    Two days after meeting Hayato Shirakawa’s Grandfather, who was also named Hayato - the younger man was apparently named after him - I found myself sitting in my apartment with an electric screw driver, a few pliers, a wooden rod, a bolt cutter and a whole lot of non-galvanized 16 gauge tie wire. With them I was following several how-to’s I’d found online on how to make riveted chainmail armor.

    I’d been inspired to start working on this after my visit to the Shirakawa house that Sunday afternoon. Hayato senior was a man in his sixties, but was aging much more gracefully than some I’ve seen. While his face was wrinkled and his hair had gone steel gray, his hairline hadn’t moved an inch. His frame was completely unbent and he had a bunch of wiry muscle to it. Like a compressed coil ready to spring at any moment.

    He surprised me when, after I’d bowed in greeting, he had offered his right hand to shake in the Western style. He had a grip like a vice and I had to exert myself to match his strength. I must have passed muster, because he grunted in satisfaction before a smile spread across his face and he clapped me on the shoulder and asked me to sit on the porch and have a drink with him.

    Surprised at his sudden welcoming demeanor, I followed the old man to the back of the house where he slid open a door, revealing a small but well kept yard with a large shed in the back, which I assumed was the family smithy. He asked me to sit down and told me to wait, then he headed back into the house for a moment. When he came back out he had a couple of shot-sized glasses and a bottle of sake in his hands. I’d never had sake and despite a couple of visits to a bar with Shizuka I wasn’t one for drinking, but out of politeness I had accepted the offered glass and sipped it a couple of times before setting it aside.

    Old man Hayato, for his part, had thrown the thing back with surprising speed before filling it up again. This time he nursed the thing as he looked to the back porch. “Brody-san, I’m not sure how to say this, but whatever you’ve been doing for my grandson, keep doing it. I’ve never seen him so full of life before. Normally whenever he was home, he’d just head up to his room and never leave. He had no interests, it seemed like, and no friends, he always had this beaten down look to him. Now when he’s around, he’s got a confidence about him that a real man should have and he’s told us how he’s been competing against the others in your group.”

    “Oh c’mon, Shirakawa-san, all I did is show him how to pump iron. He did the rest, the kid’s got more to him than anyone really expected, he just needed the kick in the pants to get moving.” I told him, not sure how to respond to the gratitude the old man was showing me.

    “Well, whatever you did, thank you, my family owes you one and never let it be said a Shirakawa didn’t repay his debts. If there’s anything I can do for you, just name it.” He said.

    I was stunned for a moment, unsure of what to say to the man, when a thought came to me. “Actually, there is something you could do. Your grandson had invited me over because he wanted to show you the axe I have. I’ve got it here." Pulling out the backpack I’d carried the the battle axe in, I quickly pulled the thing out and handed it over to him handle first.

    He took it from me and looked it over. “Interesting shape. Francisca-style axe, correct? Hmm... good curve to the head and handle, not many get that right.” He then hefted the thing and hurled it towards a pile of wood next to the shed. The blade bit hard into the wood.

    “Good balance. You take good care of it and whoever made it knew what he was doing. You want me to make another?”

    I coughed for a moment then said: “You will? I mean would? Erm, I’m not sure what to say to that, wouldn’t that be a bit expensive?”

    He shrugged. “Old roommate of mine back in college is in the recycling service, he specializes in steel, he could get me enough quality metal to arm an entire army, no trouble. And if you’re worried about my time, don’t, it’d be a pleasure. I retired a few years ago and I’ve been all twitchy with nothing to do and I’ve been wanting a project.”

    “Well in that case I’ve been bouncing around an idea for the guys who’ve been in my unofficial club…”

    Two days later found me making the links Shirakawa senior would be heating, and treating the rings I’d been making non-stop with the wire he’d given me along with some spare metalworking tools he had. Shirakawa himself was busy with the axes and spear-heads, and when I'd asked him about the shafts and handles, Shirakawa had laughed and said that he knew a few guys who were also retired and bored out of their minds.

    Leaving it at that, I’d simply gotten on with the ring making.

    *Clink*

    *Clink*

    *Clink*

    “GOD IS THIS MONOTONOUS!”

    **********

    “What club did you want to help start up?”

    “The Western Martial Reenactment Club.” I replied.

    “...Explain...” Yamada said after a moment.

    “Well, the boys in my club know I practice with Western style weapons, and I’ve shown them how I use them occasionally. In a perfectly safe environment, of course.” I then proceeded to explain how one of the young men in the club mentioned how his grandfather was a trained blacksmith and was willing to kit us out.

    When I’d finished explaining that tidbit he continued to stare me directly in the eyes, saying nothing but obviously expecting something else from me.

    Swallowing, I continued. “Mr. Yamada, I realize that this is unconventional in the extreme, but I’ve seen how these young men have gone from being walking punching bags with nothing to live for to actually having friends, confidence, their health if nothing else, and that was just with my impromptu weight lifting group. I feel that a club like this would give them a bond between each other and something they’d be able to remember and take strength from for the rest of their lives. Not to mention it’d allow them to stand out for any college application, if nothing else. That’s my reasoning, take it as you will, sir.”

    Yamada was silent for a moment, then he smiled. “I’ve seen the excellent work you’ve done with these young men and frankly I’d like to see that continue. You have my official approval, and my personal blessing.” He chuckled and continued; “I took two years of English Literature in college, one of the best tales I ever studied was Beowulf. I’d like to see what you can do with these boys, Mr. Brody.”

    I blinked in surprise and bowed again in thanks to Yamada before leaving. I had so much work to do to get these boys ready. Hey, more hands for clipping rings! WHOO HOO!

    **********

    “Shields UP AND CLOSE! Keep them UP AND CLOSE! The damn thing’s useless if you let it hang like a limp noodle. You’ve got muscles, USE THEM!” A month later and I was bellowing at the top of my lungs at the now twenty-five strong members of my little crew, or maybe not so little crew as the case may be.

    As I sweated with the rest of them, I took note of how well they were taking to the basic drills I’d put together working with my axe and spear. It wasn’t fancy and against a trained fighter it might not work all that well but against a horde of zeds or poorly armed and trained thugs? It’d be a killer. Excellent.

    There was Kohta, hammering away at a wooden post I’d managed to scrounge up from a pile of scrap from a torn down building before the stuff was taken away, maybe he was just inclined to it but a good way to describe his build was if his chest and stomach had swapped places from when he’d started. I’d seen stumps that weren’t that stout… anime physics, gotta love em’ sometimes.

    I then turned my focus to Hayato, the official president of the club, unofficially our band’s Atheling. It turned out the kid had a knack for being a leader and could get the others to work harder than they would have otherwise. He also seemed to have taken to the armed fighting better than any of the others; often going toe to toe with me in our spars with shields and wooden axes and spears.

    “Hey Sensei! How about you and Hayato have a spar now. We haven’t had one for a couple of days now!” One of the others shouted.

    The call was picked up by the others including Kohta. His confidence had gone through roof compared to what it had been before we had met. A grin spread to my face as I recalled a certain incident involving one of the members of the track and field club, a bigger guy whose event was the shot put.

    The bastard had tried to start a mess with Kohta, who’d promptly told the taller guy to shove it. When the guy had grabbed him, Kohta had promptly gut-punched him hard enough to floor him with just that single blow. Unfortunately, some of Shot Put guy’s buddies saw this and immediately jumped in to avenge their friend. At the same time,some of the muscle nerds happened to find Kohta trying to defend himself against three others and dove in to defend their friend.

    The end result was four bruised but grinning Reenactment Club members standing victorious over an equal number of their former tormentors.

    Inevitably, news of this spread through the school like wildfire and people realized once and for all what had happened to the school’s resident otakus. Shido was, of course,OUTRAGED at what had happened to his students he was the advisor to. He’d immediately taken the mess to the principal, him haranguing Yamada to do something about this travesty, how I was turning the students into violent thugs. I promptly explained that Kohta had been accosted by the Track and Field member and had then been promptly been attacked by other members of the Track and Field club. It was then that several members of Reenactment Club had seen a fellow member and friend being attacked and outnumbered and had jumped in to help. What were they supposed to do? Just sit there and let it all happen?

    I ended my argument with a comment on how the Track Club had a history of bullying the members of the Reenactment club before it had been founded. It might have been a good lesson that randomly harassing or outright attacking people wasn’t conductive for their long-term health.

    Shido did not take well to that final observation and it might have devolved into an actual fight right then and there. Sadly, THAT particular fight was delayed when Yamada brought in Sayako, of all people, as a witness to what had happened, she’d apparently seen the entire encounter and had sided with me and my boys’ story completely.

    Yamada had nodded and thanked her for her help before dismissing her. As she turned to go I could have sworn she’d purposefully caught my eye before leaving… nah...couldn’t have been.

    Shido and the Track and Field had been collectively reprimanded for their actions but Yamada had not gone further as he felt the Track and Field Members had been punished more than enough.

    I was shaken from my reminiscing when Hayato crashed his axe into the front of his shield, painted with the Dai Gurren Brigade’s mark on the face in bright red paint. I’d promptly returned the favor, mine having the Four Star Dragonball painted on mine. The guys really had gotten silly with the painting of the practice shields, and I still wondered at the wisdom of doing so, but in the end, did it really matter that much? Let them have their fun.

    “Ready, Hayato?” I said, slight grin on my face.

    “Been ready.” He replied.

    With that the two of us immediately went to the attack. Spears darted, shields clashed and axes hammered, bruises formed and teeth were nearly busted. Shizuka was somewhat in a tizzy over my battered face but I couldn’t shake off the grin. Hayato was most certainly ready for what lay ahead.

    **********

    Five months, five more months until the world as most knew it would end. After my adventures in armor making and putting together the core of an army… wow, never thought I’d say that, I’d been compiling something of a great shopping list of everything me and a surviving group could possibly use.

    As I was comparing prices for a water filtration device, my cell-phone suddenly started ringing. Checking the screen, I grinned when I saw that it was Shizuka calling, probably had called in to check whether or not I was ready for our date that evening. Taking a hint from every relationship ever, I’d been ready to go for half an hour andwas just waiting for her. It was forty-five minutes until our rendezvous time before I headed over to her and Rika’s place. Hitting the answer button I brought it to my ear and spoke. “Hello?”

    “Tom! Hello! I was just calling to make sure you remembered when to come and pick me up.”

    “6:30, I remember, don’t worry honey, I’ll be there.” Honey...that was a term of endearment I’d only recently been using for her and never at the school. It still felt funny to say it, but I was most certainly not complaining. The two of us had been dating for several months now. I’d never said a word about us being an item at the school, somewhat unsure what the rules about fraternizing with co-workers were, and neither had Shizuka, but either no one had noticed any small signs of us being a couple or they hadn’t cared.

    For the most part, the two of us had been pretty low-key, we’d each lunch together most days in her office, shooting the breeze at the same time. We’d communicate via text otherwise as we’d normally be pre-occupied with other things for the rest of the day. On the few occasions we had a shorter day at the school, the two of us would normally just laze about, either at my place or hers for a few hours. Boring as hell, I know, but honestly, neither of us were teenagers with hormones howling at us and to be frank, I rather liked it. It was soothing just having someone by your side. That she was a knockout that could put Ms. Monroe to shame certainly didn’t hurt either.

    To be honest, she was something like a calming element in my life. I was normally a pretty laid-back individual, but when I got agitated over something I could freak out with the best of them. Shizuka, if anything, was an even more relaxed person than me. She might have seemed a bit scatterbrained from time to time but her chipper attitude and the relaxed smile she always had was one of the few things that kept me from howling in terror at the threats coming down the pipe.

    She was also one hell of a motivator to make DAMN sure that I got as ready as I could for whatever lay ahead.

    A timer went off right then. “Oh, 45 minutes, better get going then.” I quickly checked that I had my wallet, my keys and my cellphone, then I locked the door behind meand headed out to pick Shizuka up and head to downtown, Karaoke tonight, under my breath I half-sung, half muttered an old sea-shanty tune I was fond of. “Ten long years, I’ve courted Sally, Way Hey Bully in the Alley, but all she did was dilly and dally. Bully down in Shin bone al…”

    **********

    “Well that was fun.” I said as we left the Karaoke place. Shizuka had her arm around mine and giggled to herself.

    “Yeah it was, why did you never tell me you could sing, Tom?” There was a slight pout on her face.

    “Well I guess it never really came up.” To be honest it hadn’t, which was rather odd. One of the things I was more proud of than anything in my previous life was that I had a natural talent for singing. It was something I’d always had for as long a I could remember. I’d even been professionally taught for years. I’d never done it for money but I might have been able to do so. A combination of stage fright and general lack of confidence had always held me back from really pursuing it.

    I’d also had the habit for years of singing when I was by myself, when I was driving in a car, taking a shower, hell, even mowing the lawn, it helped pass the time and when you’re good it was a source of pride.

    “Well, I’m going to have to bring some of my friends next time, they have to hear you. They’d never believe if I just told them.”

    That and possibly show me off, my mother used to do that as well. It’d be aggravating from time to time, but when I looked at the oddly conspiratorial look on Shizuka’s face I found the idea rather fun. Besides, it’d been a while since I could simply sing my lungs out and I’d been missing that.

    “Well, time for home then, unless you’ve something else in mind.” I said with a grin.

    To my surprise Shizuka paused for a moment, a blush on her face. “Actually, I do.”

    Before I could respond she reached up with her left hand and turned my head, then, to my slight surprise, she kissed me... hard. My brain promptly short-circuited and I didn’t recognize where she was leading me until we’d already walked through a door of some building I didn’t recognize in my dazed state.

    It wasn’t until I was sitting on a bed I didn’t recognize that I realized where I was. “Erm...Shizuka….how did we get in a lov…” My brain short-circuited yet again from something else entirely.

    **********

    “Just as a warning, I have no clue what to do here.”

    “That’s alright, just let Shizuka-Sensei show you.”

    **********

    It took about three days before the people of my apartment to get sick of being serenaded by On the Street Where You Live over and over again every evening.
     
  14. 2 Hot Crown Subdues the Sinful

    2 Hot Crown Subdues the Sinful Desu Vult!

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    Heh.
     
  15. Threadmarks: Part Eleven
    Brian Boru

    Brian Boru Versed in the lewd.

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    Realized I'd forgotten I'd posted this here as well so here's some catching up.

    OOC: Look who's got new material!




    It was a few weeks after a little incident involving my entire apartment building howling “SHUT UP!” at the same time (I guess even Broadway classics can get old after a while). It was Sunday again, and I was walking with Shizuka through the local park. Not my normal idea of a good time, but the sun was out and the weather wasn’t so bad. It also didn’t hurt that a woman I was coming to adore was by my side and happy as a clam.

    We were passing through the center of said park when we noticed some sort of commotion going on on the opposite side of the center.

    “...and the Americans continue to occupy our country and force us to be virtual vassals. Because of them we’ve become good for nothing else but making toys for spoiled children around the world. When will they let us go? The Pacific War has been over for seventy years, nearly all who fought in that war are long dead and the Cold War, their last excuse to stay here, has been over since before many now grown men were born. Why else are they here? We ask them to leave yet they say they must protect their interests here in the Pacific and so we are trapped by outsiders.”

    Hearing the name of my home country, I turned my head to glance over to the source of the sound. Set up in one corner of the cul-de-saq like center of the park was a small platform maybe three feet wide and three feet across, just big enough for a single man to stand on. Standing on said platform was a man around my age. He was wearing a black outfit vaguely familiar to the old Imperial Military Dress uniform, as were the three others standing on either side of the platform. All were fit and angry-looking young men, their arms crossed and their eyes seeming to challenge anyone to take them on.

    Ah so these were some of the local ultra-nationalists… joy…

    I had been...conflicted over how to deal with these clowns. On the one hand they were more than likely the most organized and driven group in the entire Nagoya Metropolitan area outside of the military or police force, and their leader’s daughter was a student of mine who could be a useful link to them. On the other hand, these were the jokers who wanted Japan to return to her ‘glory days’ of the early 20th century and they were jackasses bar-none. For the moment, though, I’d made it a point to avoid them.

    “Let’s keep moving, no point in jackasses like that ruining a nice day.” I said to Shizuka. She looked at me for a moment, slight concern for a second, then that satisfied smile she almost always had reasserted itself. “Alright, Tom-kun.”

    We making our way away from the Ultra bastards when Mr. Leather-lungs must have noticed me. “And look there. See how the Gaijin corrupt our culture and way of life! A woman of Japan imitates the West to whore herself out to a barbarous Gaijin!” One corner of my mind marveled at the over-dramatic way he spoke. The rest of my mind was too busy going into RAGE-mode to notice or even care.

    Clenching my fists tight enough to make my knuckles crack, I came to a complete stop. My eyelid twitched erratically. Shizuka was looking on with concern. “Tom-kun?”

    I extricated myself from her arm, then I turned and made my way towards the podium. The men who were not speaking tensed, they might have noticed the murder in my eyes. Making long, purposeful strides I came to a stop about three paces from the podium. The speaker, a younger guy with square glasses and short-cropped black hair looked me over, contempt on his face. “Yes, what do you want, Gaijin? Or did you not understand me? Maybe I should use smaller words.”

    I took a deep breath and reminded myself that knocking this son of a bitch’s teeth out would result in police involvement then I responded. “Thou, sir, hast insult'd me and mine woman, in public. If this wast a moo civiliz'd time I wouldst be demanding that we meet on the field of hon'r whence I couldst extract mine pound of flesh from thy hide. Sadly that is nay long'r acceptable so I wilt settle with asking thou cease and desist with thy base sland'r.

    Oh, I am s'rry, did thou not understandeth mine w'rds? then let me explain to thou in a mann'r that one of thine intellect couldst understand.”

    Everyone stared at the burly, hairy American speaking like a court noble from the Hien era, the speaker more so than any other. While he was stunned I snarled like a bear woken up in January. “FUCK YOU! YA SONOVABITCH! IF I EVER HEAR YA INSULTIN’ ME GIRL EVAH AGAIN, I’LL RIP YA ‘EART OUT THROUGH YER ASS! THEN I’LL MAKE YA EAT IT! DO YA UNDERSTAND?”

    Perfect diction followed by crass insults and threats in the worst Kyushuu dialect they’d ever heard took all three young men aback, the one on the podium actually falling to the podium floor in a heap, his eyes wide and nodding rapidly.

    Still angry but satisfied with terrifying the dick, I grinned. “Good then, I’m glad we had this conversation. Good day.”

    I returned to Shizuka who was staring at me, her normally half-closed eyes as wide as saucers.

    I gave her a much warmer smile than what I’d given the three dicks at the podium and said; “Sorry about that, it just didn’t sit right with me that those bastards would insult you like that.”

    “You didn’t have to go that far.” She said in a low voice.

    “Well, those jackasses needed someone else yelling at them for once. Giving them a taste of their own medicine and all that.” I said.

    That set Shizuka giggling. “True, I’ve seen those jerks before. They always seem so angry, the way they yell at everyone all the time.”

    I chuckled and nodded, then I pulled her close and whispered in her ear. “Besides, they were wrong about you. I know you don’t dye your hair... unless you’re more thorough than I thought possible with your coloring regimen.”

    That got a blush and a squeal from Shizuka as she struck my chest with one of her small fists. “TOM-KUN!” she shouted indignantly. I just laughed in response, which got more mortified flailing from Shizuka.

    All in all, it was a rather nice date.
     
  16. Threadmarks: Part Twelve
    Brian Boru

    Brian Boru Versed in the lewd.

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    Enjoy Ladies and Germs...




    Christmas….

    The Happiest Time of the year had come around again… and all the Joy of it had completely passed me over.

    This was the first time I’d ever gone through a Christmas without my family. Looking around at the rainy city, with nothing even vaguely resembling the sort of decorations that would be everywhere back home, it hit me yet again that I was no longer home and that I was likely never going to be home ever again.

    I was walking back towards my place, returning from the Christmas Day service at a small Catholic chapel that ministered to the foreigners that traveled here for business. Under my breath I hummed one of the songs that had been sung during the service.

    “...Hark the Herald Angels sing….
    ...Glory to the Newborn King….”

    Tears started to form at the corners of my eyes, I wasn’t one to cry often, but under the weight of my circumstances the tears fought to flow. Thankfully the rain that was coming down in buckets managed to hide any that escaped and hid my face to prevent anyone seeing the burly gaijin crying in the rain, so at least I kept my dignity... for what it was worth.

    After what felt like an eternity I finally managed to reach my apartment, opening the door I shucked off my coat and hung it in the bathroom to let it drip dry. I looked around my empty apartment, sighing at the anemic little plastic Christmas Tree I’d managed to find a week ago that was the only sign of the holidays in the place.

    When I had realized that my family was no longer here, I had tried to take comfort that at least I’d have Shizuka to spend the holidays with me. I’d even bought a pair of earrings for her as a gift. But even that didn’t seem to be in the cards.

    Shizuka had left town on Christmas Eve, apparently there was a family emergency and she had to head home to deal with it. Frankly, I had been crushed, I’d had a nice little dinner planned that day with her along with the gift for tomorrow. However I’d not said anything and just told her to be safe and that I hoped everything was alright at home. I’d made sure to say a prayer for her and her family as I knelt during the service though I also guiltily prayed she’d come back as soon as possible.

    It was more than a little sad, but other than the club, she was all I really had. I’d made few friends here, my foreigner background, more aloof nature, and the knowledge that nearly all of these people were going to be dead or worse in a year’s time had curtailed any real attempts on my part to make any connections.

    Such a policy had kept me sheltered from any future heartbreak of losing friends... but it also meant that I was a lonely man on nights such as this…

    I was interrupted from my dark musings when I saw a small note on my kitchen table. “Odd….” I thought out loud. I had locked the door before I left to go to the Christmas Service and the only other person to have a key to my place other than the Landlord was… “Shizuka!” I exclaimed.

    She’d come back! Earlier than I’d hoped. A smile on my face, I grabbed the piece of paper and quickly scanned it….

    There was no signature and the writing was typed so I couldn’t determine who it was from the handwriting. It was also very short and perfunctory.

    "Please Come to the School, behind the gymnasium. We’ll be waiting for you."

    We? What’s going on? I thought, but now too curious to ignore it I made to leave. Grabbing my coat I left my apartment and headed up the hill towards the school.

    As I approached I noticed that there was what looked like torches burning inside the school grounds. A momentary flash of panic flushed through me for a heartbeat before I calmed down, no, the school wasn’t burning down... but it did raise more questions.

    When I reached the gates I saw to my surprise that they were open. Looking around, I didn’t see anyone waiting at the gates but I did see that the torchlight was coming from behind the gym, there was also a delicious smell coming from the same direction. I could smell cooked pork and other meats along with something downright sweet.

    Picking up the pace I came around the corner of the building and came to a stop. Someone had set up this large event tent, torches were stuck in the ground all around it and two of my boys were standing at the entrance. When they saw me they raised the practice axes we used during practice in salute. “HAIL! The King has come to the Hall!” they both shouted in unison.

    Blinking in surprise I asked, “What’s all this?”

    “Just step inside.” was all the one on the left, a leaner member of the crew named Kenichi answered. His companion Toru, one of the biggest of our little club, said nothing, just a smile on his face.

    Seeing that I wasn’t going to get any other answers out of them I stepped into the tent proper. I was surprised by the warmth, looking around I noticed some space heaters, as well as a small fire in the center of the room. The edges were flanked by two benches while the back had a small raised platform where a much smaller table sat.

    Along the sides were the members of my club... along with some other people… judging from the resemblances I guessed they were family members, I smiled when I saw old man Shirakawa sitting next to a middle-age couple who I assumed were his grandson’s parents. “Evening sonny. Quite the shindig these kids set up for ya.”

    “No kidding,” I told him. “didn’t know they had it in them.”

    "Well, when they heard that you didn't have anyone to spend the holidays with, your girlfriend and the boys managed to organize this whole thing. Found someone who had a spare tent from a wedding gathering dust, another had family who did catering, and another had an aunt who could buy this all in bulk. But it was my grandson and your girl who did most of the heavy lifting. She was out here helping the boys set this up since last night."

    I blinked in amazement and looked around at the impressive spread in awe. "I'm going to have to write so many thank-you cards for all this..."

    That set him and his son laughing, the former saying: “Well, head on up to your special seat, your lady-friend’s been waiting for ya.”

    Looking back to the raised seat, I saw that there were four chairs set behind it. The inner-right seat was empty but sitting in the inner left was... “SHIZUKA!” I shouted, then flushed a bit at my outburst. Sitting on the outer seats were the younger Hayato to the right and Kohta to the left.

    When they saw me approach the table they both stood up. “WASSAIL! Our Cynning has come to his hall for the Yuletide feast!” Kohta half-bellowed to the small faux hall. The rest of the club members stood and taking up the various cups, bottles, and cans they had in front of them shouted “WASSAIL!” as well.

    There were a few well-meaning jeers from their relatives but otherwise there was little mocking for such melodramatic pageantry. A big grin spread across my face then I raised a clenched fist in return, that set the boys roaring and like a champ I strode to my seat. I made a moment of eye-contact with Shizuka before turning back and said: “Warriors! My mighty Drengas! It warms my heart to see you all, gathered here during the Yuletide. When we first gathered I did not see the fine champions that stand before me now! I saw the dregs of society, the loner, the stringy, the awkward, the obese, nothing but prey to the wolves of this world. But now... now I see MEN, WARRIORS, HUSCARLS of mighty thews that any leader of men would be proud to have in their Werrod! I may have shown you the way, but it was the fire in your bellies and your blood, sweat and tears that took you down the path that has brought you thus far!”

    I was mildly surprised at the awed looks on their faces… and was Touji crying? Slightly bemused, I grabbed a cup in front of me and raised it high. “Hail to the young champions, who’ve come so far!”

    To my surprise, their friends and family actually took up the cry. “HAIL!”

    Grinning, I took a seat, grabbing a slab of ham from a platter in front of me. I stopped filling my plate when I saw Shizuka looking at me with an amused smile. “What is it?”

    She giggled a bit but answered me. “I didn’t know you were so good at making speeches, Tom.”

    “I’m a man of hidden depths, Shizuka-chan, that and I was cribbing REAL hard on movie speeches there. But I meant every word out there. I’m real impressed with how far those boys have come.” I said, turning my eyes to scan the impromptu hall, seeing the young men of the club - for young men they were - taking in the compliments from their parents, siblings and friends willing to come to this get together, smiles on each and everyone of their faces.

    I turned back to Shizuka and said; "I heard from Hayato Shirakawa Sr. what all you've been doing for the past day and a half. I... I don't know what to say except thank you, from the bottom of my heart... I... really don't have anything to come back to in the States and this... is more than I could have ever imagined."

    Shizuka smiled that serene smile of hers and answered; "It was really all the boys' idea, I just helped keep things organized."

    "You're a terrible liar, you know that Shizuka." I grinned and kissed her on the cheek, which sparked a few shouts from the rest of the party.

    I then glanced at Kohta and Hayato, both men were digging into their meals, ostensibly ignoring me and my girlfriend’s conversation. “Any chance you could tell me why the two of you are up here with us?”

    Hayato swallowed and answered; “Don’t look at us, Sensei, the rest of the guys insisted that we sit here. They said that the best fighter and the one who’s been doing this the longest should be sitting at the raised table and nothing we said would convince them otherwise.”

    I snorted at that, but didn’t comment, because what could be really said to that? But I tucked that away, it seemed that a hierarchy was forming in the band with Hayato and Kohta as the captains. I was satisfied with the boys’ choices, Hayato, once he’d broken out of that shell he’d kept himself in for years and decided to go without a slump for once in his life had that air of a leader in him. Kohta, while shorter, was also now built like a tree stump, the fat having melted away and bulking out like any man who does strenuous work does. While there were a few others who could out lift him, myself included, Kohta turned out to have incredible stamina, able to keep going during burnout workouts that rivaled even me, a man who’d been doing this sort of thing for over a decade. I was excited to see what he could do when the time came, he’d need that endurance.

    I grimaced for a moment when I remembered why I had formed this club to begin with. However, Shizuka had noticed my change in mood and spoke in a low voice. “Is something wrong?”

    Shaken out of my funk, I brought my mind back to the present and smiled before whispering: “Oh nothing, just thinking that someone was not very nice by tricking her boyfriend. Such a naughty girl making her man think he’d be spending all Christmas alone pining for her. Naughty girls like that need to be... punished, don’t you think?” I whispered in her ear.

    Shizuka reddened at that and poked me in the ribs while letting out an embarrassed squeak.

    I simply laughed my damn head off, when I saw that boys were trying their damnedest not to look like they’d overheard us I simply laughed even harder.

    The rest of the night went pretty well, all things considered, the food was great, the company excellent. I surprised a few folks with some Christmas songs, some of the adults got sloshed and Shizuka got more than a little tipsy, but thankfully no one made a fool of themselves.

    That evening when I brought Shizuka back to my place I showed her the earrings I’d gotten for her as a Christmas gift. Well, I learned that yes she really could do that trick with her tongue…

    In the years to come I’d would take strength from that evening with friends, comrades, and loved ones. It would be a source of hope to keep moving in the dark days to come.

    When the final term of the schoolyear started back up, things would begin to come to a head and I was to be finally introduced to the final member of the canon crew, Takashi himself.
     
  17. Sinner_sb

    Sinner_sb I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    Nice to see progress on this story, I hope that more comes soon.
     
  18. Threadmarks: Part Thirteen
    Brian Boru

    Brian Boru Versed in the lewd.

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    A/N: Profuse apologies for still not reaching fucking Z-Day's Eve yet but here ya'll are so have fun I guess...



    Christmas came and went and the final third of the schoolyear came and with it came the final push before finals.
    In the classes where I acted as assistant, most of the students were doing quite well... with a few exceptions, some quite surprising.

    “96…”
    “90....”
    “82”
    “71”
    “55... dangit Hina…”
    "100... excellent, Kohta.”

    In the teacher’s office, I was helping Kurokawa grade quizzes we’d handed out earlier that day. While I wasn’t teaching all of my boys, I was proud to note that the ones I did teach were knocking their English assignments out of the park. I guess they didn’t want to come up short in what I was officially supposed to be learning.

    I grinned, those boys had come a long way from what they had been when I’d started that after-class weight-training group nearly a year ago. And glancing at myself, I’d done damn good for myself as well.

    I wasn’t exactly a strong-man competitor, nor was I cut enough to compete in a body-builder competition; but I was damn strong now, easily twice as strong as I had been when I arrived here and I was certainly leaner than I’d ever been in my entire life. I didn’t know if that was Anime physics at work, me finally putting my all into my training regimen, or both, but it had paid great dividends.

    I was brought back when I came across a specific quiz. I quickly graded it… and was greatly concerned by the results I found, considering whose it was.

    “Hey, Kurokawa-san, take a look at this.” I spoke up to my superior, who set down the quiz he was grading and walked over to my desk.

    “Yes, Brody-san? What is it that you've found?” I didn’t say anything, but handed him the quiz I’d just graded.

    He looked it over, then frowned. “Are you sure this is correct?”

    “Yes I’m sure. I made sure to grade this correctly. But look at the name….there’s got to be a mistake.” I said, glancing back at the name at the top of the paper. Rei Miyamoto, one of the members of the Canon Crew.

    While I hadn’t interacted much with her, aside from getting some pointers in spear work from her and her club captain, she’d always been an excellent student when I and Kurokawa were teaching English for her class. Getting an F was disturbing, and it might mean that whatever issues she was having in Shido’s class was starting to affect other parts of her life.

    Glancing over at him, I asked Kurokawa in an even tone: “How much do you know about Ms. Miyamoto’s father?”

    Kurokawa’s eyes widened in surprise… and a little fear. His eyes darted around the room a few times before turning back to me. “I-I...” He was stammering… Kurokawa, a man that was the definition of calm and confident eloquence was stuttering...Good God what did Shido DO to this man?

    Kurokawa finally calmed downed with visible effort and said: “I’ve been here for six years, and one thing I’ve learned is not to go against Shido-san. He may not look much but the man’s as vicious as snake and just as cunning.”

    I stared at him. Just how many tendrils did that smug shit-stain have in this school?

    “You don’t believe me? I’m honestly surprised, didn’t you have a run-in with him earlier?”

    “I did but I’m a weird foreigner, it’s easy to get dirt on me.” And wasn’t that a weird concept that took a while to get accustomed to. “Are you telling me he’s blackmailing other teachers as well?” And just when I thought I couldn’t hate that son of a bitch any more.

    “Yes, and don’t think it’s just his father, Dietman Shido, doing all the heavy work either, Brody-san. Shido’s more than his father’s connections, though he won’t hesitate to use them…” Kurokawa trailed off there.

    He seemed unwilling to continue and seeing the turmoil on his face I wasn’t going to press him. Then he sighed and turned back to me. “This happened a few years ago, when Shido had just started teaching here and his brother had started classes here at the same time.”

    “His brother? I didn’t know Shido-sensei had a brother.” I knew full well he did, but I didn’t have a way of letting others know that I knew that without uncomfortable questions being asked.

    “From an affair, Shido seemed completely unfamiliar with the boy so we figured he didn’t know about him until right before classes started that year. Ken was a smart kid, VERY smart, but he was terrible at foreign languages; he could study English exclusively until his eyeballs melted and he’d still BARELY pass. Now, Ken’s English teacher was a Tetsuo Hiruma, I’d known him since high school, upstanding guy though he had a terrible taste in women especially considering what his wife… I’m getting ahead of myself.

    Towards the end of the schoolyear, Ken was on track to flunking his English class. Shido-san tried to convince Tetsuo to fudge Ken’s grades enough that he’d at least pass. I heard later from Tetsuo that when he refused, Shido promised that he’d regret doing that.

    We had both laughed it off when he told me it but damn were we wrong, we were SO wrong.”

    He stopped again, seeming like he didn’t wish to continue. I remained silent, simply waiting for him to keep going.

    “About a month later, police stormed into the class with a warrant for Tetsuo’s arrest. A senior girl at our school had accused him of raping her. It was all shit, though, Tetsuo was a good man through and through. He loved his job and had a loving family, or at least he thought so. None of us could have imagined that he’d have done something so heinous.

    I immediately came to my friend’s defense and acted as a witness and as a support for his alibi, I knew for a fact that he couldn’t have harmed that girl when she said she did because he’d been with me drinking that entire evening. But during the trial, there had been massive amounts of evidence against my friend, recordings, photographs, things that never should have been possible, but the evidence kept on coming showing my friend as some depraved, voyeuristic paedophile, and once that accusation was out and parents took a look at the so-called evidence and... well, it was all over but the screaming.”

    Tears were actually forming in his eyes now. “Tetsuo was sentenced to life, in one of the most brutal prisons in the entire country. His wife filed for divorce two weeks after the sentencing, took the kids, everything he owned, put his son on her family’s directory. His own parents and siblings disowned him. I was the only one to ever visit him there... and it was so far away it was almost impossible to do so… one time… one time I was too worn down from a hard month to visit him... and when I wasn’t there... he... gave up.”

    Kurokawa, one the most happy-go-lucky men I’d ever seen in my life, now had his hands over his face and was weeping. “My best friend since highschool gave up because of me not being there when I should have…”

    He looked back up at me. “Shido is a cunning monster and he’ll ruin the life of anyone he thinks is trying to obstruct him. So I’m begging you, don’t go against him on this. Help Miyamoto-san however you think you can, give support, sympathy, whatever you can but don’t go against him on this… please…”

    I sat there, stunned beyond words. I knew that Shido was a sadistic snake as was his father, because there was no way in hell that Shido was able to do this all on his own, but this went so far beyond the fucking Pale that you hit Achill Island. My fists clenched so tightly that blood was beginning to pool from between my fingers - I never thought you could actually do that.

    Taking a deep sigh, I forced the fury raging in me down for at least the next few minutes. I stood up and grabbed Kurokawa by the shoulders, wrenched him to his feet. “Kurokawa-san, I’m not one to normally do this, but God do you need one.” And with that I wrapped him in a bear hug because GOD did that man need it.

    After a minute I let go, looked him dead in the eye and said in as serious a tone as I could muster: “It wasn’t your fault, Kurokawa, you couldn’t have known, nor is it Tetsuo’s fault because it takes the strongest of men to keep going in the face of something like that. It’s Shido’s fault, Tetsuo’s blood and the ruining of his life is entirely on his hands and his father’s, because as cunning as Shido is I can’t imagine that he was able to have done all that by his lonesome.”

    Glancing at the papers that still needed grading, I sighed and after straightening them up stuck them into a desk drawer. I then grabbed my coat and keys. “Alright then, since it’d be utterly pointless to try and finish these grades now and since we don’t have work tomorrow, you and me are packing things up right now, I’m calling my girlfriend, you call your wife and together the four of us are going to get utterly shitfaced as we toast in memory of Tetsuo Hiruma.”

    Kurokawa blinked for a few moments, then grinned and, after shoving his still ungraded papers into his own desk drawer, grabbed his coat and hat and followed out the door, hitting the lights as we left.

    The hangover the next day was ten types of utterly horrible but I think I made a friend that evening, and an oath that Shido, his father and his brother were NOT going to last past Z-day any longer than I could allow.

    ********************

    I stared at the thirteen young men sitting meekly in the lunchroom chairs that had been pulled out for this meeting. I was sitting across from them along with principal Yamada and, oddly enough, Miss Hayashi. I wasn't sure why she’d been included, but it was trivial compared to the story that the boys had to tell us.

    When Hayato finished speaking, I sighed, covering my eyes with one palm before dragging it down my face in frustration.

    “Alright boys, let me get this straight: you, just the thirteen of you, without any help from the newer members, managed to take over the entire delinquent population of Tokonosu city?” I asked in a flat, accusatory tone.

    The boys flinched almost as one before Kohta spoke up. “W-well Sensei, it wasn’t like we did it on purpose.”

    I gave him a flat stare, a headache forming behind my eyes. “Explain.”

    “Well, Sensei, what happened was me and Hayato were walking down to the convenience store when we saw a bunch of punks bothering this girl in a side alley. Now, we couldn’t just leave her there, right? So we stepped in to make them stop. They didn’t take kindly to our butting in, violently so. We were just defending ourselves and helping out a girl in need.”

    “Alright… but how does that translate into becoming pint-sized warlords?” I prompted, though I got the feeling that I knew the answer to that question. When Miss Kyoko sqeaked indignantly at my flippant words I just glanced over to her. One look at the exasperation in my eyes shut her up and she turned back to the boys, Hayato speaking up this time.

    “Well, we’d, erm... defended ourselves against those guys and after saving that girl we didn’t think anything more of it. Seems those guys remembered... and they held a grudge. We... kinda had to keep defending ourselves when more and more gangs came, either trying to get revenge or they thought we were a gang who were trying to challenge their position, whatever that meant. Eventually they stopped showing up and we thought it was over and done with.” Kohta trailed off there.

    “Apparently it wasn’t.” I muttered, pointing my thumb to the window that allowed a view of the front gate… and the two dozen or so gang leaders who had camped their butts outside waiting for the ‘Huscarl Gang’ to show themselves likely they wanted a grand battle royale or some crazy shit… I wondered if it was too late to just take Shizuka and move to Alaska… my damn sense of responsibility said otherwise… dammit…

    Yamada then decided to speak up. “While I can’t condone the violence, I can understand why you did what you did, boys. You intervened in something that needed to be stopped and you didn’t actively chase these fights after the first.

    While I would have preferred that you had gone to the police after the first fight, I can’t condemn you for defending yourselves when those young men kept coming after you, and I can’t say that I’m not a little impressed at your prowess. So my verdict is that you boys go out there and talk with those young men waiting for you out there. See if you can talk them into leaving. If that fails I’ll have the authorities on the line and they’ll be here in less than ten minutes. Do NOT antagonize them. Understand?”

    The boys showed their understanding by nodding quickly in response to Yamada’s question.

    He then pointed at me. “You’ll accompany them, Brody-san, and act as a referee to keep anything from getting too out of hand.”

    I opened my mouth to protest for a moment, then stopped myself. I was the best one for the job present without bringing in the police. “Alright then, Yamada-san.” Rising from my seat I turned to the boys. “Alright boys, follow me, let’s deal with this once and for all.”
    Like a gaggle of ducklings the boys rose and followed me out the door to the front gate.

    I glanced back at them to remind them to stand straight with their shoulders back, but was pleased to see that they did so on their own.

    When we were within twenty paces of the front gate, I came to a stop and looked behind. “Alright boys, talk to them see what they want.”

    The group of young men glanced at each other, then Hayato stepped forward. “I guess I’ll do it. I was the one to jump to that girl’s defense first…”

    “Alright then, Hayato-san.” I said, as he walked past me I clapped him on the shoulder. “However this turns out, I’m proud of you boys, not enough people have your courage and I wish more did.”

    Hayto tensed up for a moment then moved forward. The others followed behind him as moral support and what I assumed was a show of strength.

    The delinquents, all thirty of them, noticed us approaching the gates, excitement flashed in their eyes and they made towards the gates until they were crowded right in front of the metal bars.

    The one at the front was big bastard, easily six feet tall, his hair was worn long with red highlights at the ends, his ears were pierced multiple times and he didn’t wear a school uniform - at least not one I could decipher as such.

    He sized up Hayato for a moment then said, in a baritone voice: “So, you’re the boss of the gang that’s been kicking our collective asses up and down the whole damn city for the past month? Figured as much.”

    Hayato glared the bigger boy in the eyes and said: “What do you want, Sasuke? Another rematch? You remember what happened last time, right?” Damn, didn’t think Hayato had that in him.

    Sasuke glared at Hayato for a moment and I thought I was going to have to interfere or worse, have the police involved: instead I was surprised when Sasuke broke into a deep belly laugh. He was laughing so hard that tears formed in his eyes. The other street toughs and delinquents behind him started laughing as well and just as hard.

    Standing in stunned silence, we let the guys on the other side of the gates laugh themselves out. Sasuke wiped a tear from the corner of his eye and said: “No we don’t want another rematch, none of us do. You’ve proven you and your ‘Huscarls’ are the toughest outfit in the entire city, repeatedly.”

    A few of the delinquents rubbed their heads or limbs as if they had been reminded of a drubbing they took in the recent past… good GOD HOW DID I MISS THIS FOR SO LONG?!

    I had barely recovered from that little revelation when Sasuke made a deep bow at the waist and said: “I, Sasuke Urameshi, do swear me and my Iron Tigers gang an oath of loyalty to Hayato Shirakawa and his Huscarls gang. We’re your boys now, boss.”

    Before Hayato or the others could respond, another teenager strode forward and bowed as well. “I, Hikaru Tendo, do swear me and the North Street Alliance gang an oath of loyalty to Hayato Shirakawa and his Huscarls gang. We’re your boys now, boss.”

    On and on it continued, each and every one of these young men came forward, told their names and said that their gangs followed Hayato and the Huscarls gang.

    When the last one made their oath, one of the others glanced at me, he jabbed a finger in my direction. “The fuck’s the old-timer here for?”

    Bristling at the insult, I was about to put this punk in his place when Kohta spoke up. “He’s Tom Brody, assistant english teacher, he’s our club advisor and he’s the one who taught us how to fight. A year ago, each and everyone of us were the worst kind of nerds imaginable, look at us now and I dare you to insult him again.”

    The street toughs looked back at me again, eyes as wide as saucers, the one to disparage me quickly bowed and apologized. The others, apparently impressed by my credentials, bowed as well. Then one of them spoke up. “Any chance you could show my boys how you fight like that?”

    And like a dam bursting the others began asking the same thing as well.

    I stared at the bowing crowd, jaw hanging and eyes glassy, I could barely comprehend what was happening… Alaska was starting to look better and better...
     
  19. 2 Hot Crown Subdues the Sinful

    2 Hot Crown Subdues the Sinful Desu Vult!

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    Heh, BWAHAHAHAHA!
     
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  20. Crepscularity

    Crepscularity Know what you're doing yet?

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    Oh the irony. I would prefer to see gratuitous violence in this setting more than any racy scenes due to the presence of Shido-levels of bastardry.
     
  21. Threadmarks: Part Fourteen
    Brian Boru

    Brian Boru Versed in the lewd.

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    With a ton of input from Psyckosama and Greyrook as editor, here's the next bit hope ya'll enjoy.


    The rain was coming down in buckets and the wind was blowing hard. But today was shield wall practice and the boys needed to get their work in, as did I.

    Before I arrived in Japan I was a lazy bastard, I did what was needed to get things done and then I went on with my life. If I was properly motivated, though, I could and had gotten things done with a surprising amount of energy. The problem had always been convincing myself that something that needed doing really was that vital which was, I will freely admit, hard to do sometimes. Knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that hordes of the undead were coming was an incredible motivator.

    “Kenichi! Get Torou out of that mud hole before he drowns himself!” I bellowed at the top of my lungs. The young man immediately grabbed his comrade and yanked him up, one-handed I might add, out of the mudhole in the practice field we’d appropriated from the soccer club.

    I was currently leading the boys in a shieldwall advance, locking shields together and getting them to march forward in quickstep as a single unit. Simple enough on paper, but in practice MUCH harder than it looked. A proper shield-wall required the men in the line to lock shields and keep close together to get the most effective results. That proved to be surprisingly difficult even on smooth ground in ideal weather conditions, in the pouring rain on a field that had the shit torn out of it by rain and hundreds of practices that difficulty went up exponentially.

    I, however, was hellbound and determined that by the time Z-Day came these boys could stand alongside Charles Martel at Tours and or the Crusaders at Dorylaeum without being found wanting. An insane goal, but one I intended to reach.

    When they reached the end of the practice field, they all but collapsed beside each other, many ripping off the Germanic helmets recently made for them. I reminded myself to thank old man Shirakawa again for the work he and the other grey-beard hobbyists he’d brought in for this project… come Z-day, I knew I needed to try and track them down. Skills like they had would be vital for not just scraping by in the days ahead.

    Ending my woolgathering, I strode over to the boys, now a good fifty strong with the various gang-leaders coming by to practice with us. And hadn’t THAT been a bunch of fun, convincing those boys that no, they couldn’t bring each and every one of their subordinates along with them on these training exercises. Nor could they skip class to come here daily. It’d taken some heated discussions, but we’d settled with them coming on Saturdays after the end of the half-day of school and ONLY the leaders. If they wanted to teach their boys how to fight, that was their prerogative.

    Interestingly, it was Hayato and Kohta who managed to convince the various leaders to promise not to cause trouble in the city and to try and curb their own men. I had severe doubts that would work, but watching street toughs flinching at someone with a way too large collection of magical girls from across the years was hilarious nonetheless.

    When I made it over to them I bellowed out over the rain: “Aright Boys, last event of the day before ya’ll hit the showers. We’re having a Holmgang, Huscarls verses Thegns, three on each side. Pick the best three. Best two of three will decide the winner. Winning team gets a pizza for two guys each.”

    That set everyone roaring and after a few minutes of jostling the teams were made. For the Huscarls were Kohta, Hayato, and a hulking third year by the name of Kenji. He wasn’t one of the original thirteen, but had been one of the first to join afterwards. Originally something of a whale, nearly a year of training had left him a behemoth stronger than anyone else in the club, including myself - much to my annoyance.

    The trio held an impromptu round of Rock-Paper-Scissors to decide their fighting order which resulted in Kenji being the first in the ring. At 6’3’’ and broad as a barn he was a scary-looking SOB, but out of that armour he was as gentle as a kitten, likely why he’d been something of a laughing stock despite his impressive size.

    He now banged his practice axe against his shield in challenge of his opponent, the stubble that was his anemic attempt at growing an “epic viking beard” making the water on his face flow in rivulets as he glared across the ring at the gathered Thegns.

    When the leaders of the various gangs had decided to come on Saturdays to train with us, they’d continued to call my boys the Huscarls, a joke title they’d given themselves when it’d just been us but had now become something of a gang name to differentiate themselves from the delinquents who were their technical subordinates. When I’d tried to call the delinquents Huscarls as well they had flatly refused, they weren’t part of the school they had claimed and they had their own gangs to lead.

    I had thought about it for a moment then decided that since I’d gone with the Germanic motif for this long, I might as well go whole hog with it. I’d quickly described the rank of Thegns to them, elite ass kickers who had their own followers but swore themselves to other leaders as well. After a bit of back and forth to make they understood what I was describing they’d taken to it like bears to honey. Technically speaking, a Thegn really wasn’t the most accurate comparison, but after their first couple of attempts at pronunciation, I’d decided that even I wasn’t cruel enough to try and make them say Ealdorman all the time.

    After a few moments, another hulking form exited the gathering of Thegns: Onikumo, real name Yusuke Sawanara, was the leader of the Red Bulls gang and before my boys had inadvertently conquered half the damn town had been considered the strongest delinquent in Tokonosu. He’d also been the one of the most resistant to the terms I’d imposed in exchange for teaching them how to fight.

    Said terms had been no selling drugs and that they’d NEVER take up arms against the innocent. Which, of course, covered the unholy trinity of rape, theft, and assault. Hokey sounding as hell but after a few glares and thinly veiled threats, most had obliged. Those that hadn’t were probably regretting it now as they were serving as the preferred live-fire test dummies for those who had.

    The resulting martial code was an interesting mashup of pre-Christian germanic honor and Bushido with a dash of Medieval Chivalry for good measure. One result had been the Holmgang, despite swearing ‘allegiance’ to the Huscarls, these gangs had been feuding for years and grudges like theirs didn’t simply stop like that. They did, however,take to stepping down the street brawls, instead favoring duels and setpiece battles where they could properly work out their aggression in ‘glorious and honorable combat’. The end result tended to be bumps, bruises, and an all-around reduction in conventional thuggery.

    In all honesty, it was a bit creepy how into it they were getting. While I’d modeled my own boys on the early Anglo-Saxons, they’d found the northern end of the germanic sphere to be more to their liking. I’d heard some strange stories about them building shrines to Odin and Thor, the latter of which often involved a distressing amount of comic book memorabilia. Many had also taken up Norse nicknames, as well. Tokonosu’s thug life was showing a growing number of Ragnars, Hrothgars, and even one gang head who’d coined himself as ‘Eric the Red’.

    Ultimately, though, a bunch of Norse-crazed delinquents would have been harmless if not for another, FAR more concerning habit they’d picked up. Having learned the difference between being Norse and what it meant to be a Viking, some of them found a loophole in my ‘don’t attack the innocent’ rule.

    More than once a couple gangs decide to band together and ‘go a-Viking’. Simply put, they’d grab their gear and wander into the territory of gangs who’d either refused my terms or were outside of the area my boys commonly went. Once there, they’d either roll any gang members they found for cash, or if they were feeling more adventurous, ‘raid the monastery’. Which meant they’d make a beeline for their gang clubhouse, and once there beat the shit out of anyone present, loot it for everything that wasn’t nailed down, and then smash everything that was.

    When I’d heard about those little adventures, my heart had nearly stopped. This was getting WAY out of control and I had no idea how much longer this could last before I got the Japanese Fuzz coming after my ass. Learning how to sleep on my back and keep one eye open at all times was not how I wanted to spend my last month before Z-Day… that, and Shizuka would be sad if I did something that got me arrested. Or, Heaven forbid, they tangled with a Yakuza member, if that happened they were dead, no ifs, ands, or buts and there wasn’t a damn thing I could do to prevent that.

    My introspection was cut short when Kenji and Onikumo bellowed at each other from either side of the ring and slammed into each other with an almighty crash. Digging their feet into the muddy ground they pushed at each other with their shields while trying to hammer each other with their wooden axes. Back and forth around the ring they shoved at each other until Kenji managed to hook his axe behind Onikuma’s shield and wrench it out of the way then following it up with a shield bash that drove the big youth backwards, and through the rain I could see that Onikuma spat blood. Right, then…
    “End the match! First blood goes to Kenji and the Huscarls.” My boys immediately roared in approval at Kenji’s victory, clashing their shields and beating their chests. The Thegns on the other side of the ring mutter under their breath but did little else.

    “Right next pair, enter the ring.”

    With that Kohta stepped into the ring. Sports glasses wrapped around his head and under his helmet, I’d never figured out how he’d gotten everything to fit properly.

    Across from him came a tall young man with dark hair and one of the most diabolical grins I’d ever seen. Tatsumi Oga, sometimes called the Devil or among the more Norse inclined, Surtr. When I’d heard that name and seen that fang-like grin he often sported I’d had a mild panic attack. Did ROB pull another fast one on me and shove even more bullshit on my plate to deal with?

    After a few weeks, I’d calmed down when I never saw a green-haired baby clinging to him, but I’d swear that I did see a busty blond in a gothic lolita outfit once… out of the corner of my eye. It was... odd…

    This was going to be an interesting fight. Oga had been a late joiner. He’d just wandered in one day looking for a challenge and after seeing what I’d had to offer, said it looked like fun. And it was. For him, at least.

    Oga was a demon of a fighter, pure and simple. He was a lone wolf and the only one of the Thegns who wasn’t also the leader of his own gang. I’d heard rumors of how he’d been able to fight entire gangs before on his own, and honestly I could believe it. He wasn’t exactly the best suited for shield wall tactics, but on an individual level he was almost unstoppable.

    In fact, none of my boys had been able to beat him yet. Some had come very close, but the slippery bastard had always managed to pull out a win. That was why Kohta had formed something of a rivalry with the delinquent. He was the first of my disciples and one of the strongest. To him it was a matter of honor. For Oga, well, I wasn’t going to hazard a guess as to how his twisted mind worked, but he seemed to enjoy the challenge.

    He sneered as Onikuma walked past and for a moment the tension in the air was palpable. The two hated each other and after the first couple of disasters, I’d outright banned them from sharing a ring during these meetups. While watching those two fight was entertaining, when paired up they tended to ignore the first blood rule in favor of the Thunderdome standard. Trying to explain a dead teenager to the police was not my idea of fun nor was it in any way beneficial to my continued well-being.

    Kohta snarled when he saw Oga was his opponent. “This time it’s my win. I’ve been training myself to the bones for this fight and there’s no way in hell you’re beating me.”

    Oga for his part just grinned. His tone was dismissive but there was a distinct gleam in his eye. “Yeah, ya’ said that the last time we fought, and the one before that too. So shut up and let’s do this.”

    Kohta didn’t deign to verbally respond to that, instead he raised his shield and advanced on Oga, his short stature allowing for more of his body to be protected by his shield. Oga, for his part, simply stood there for a moment, waiting for Kohta to get in range. Then he let loose a barrage of blows with his axe, using his greater height and reach to try and batter down Kohta’s defenses.

    In this situation, most people would try and draw away from the attack and reevaluate, but instead Kohta seemed to charge into it, smashing his shield against Oga’s both in an attempt to negate his reach advantage and to make the most of his greater strength and lower center of gravity.

    Between the strike to his balance and the questionable state of the ground, it almost sent Oga sprawling. It was very much to his credit, however, that he kept his footing and managed to recover almost immediately before pivoting out of the reach of his opponent. Twirling his axe in his hand and grinning like a psychopath he chuckled. “Ha! That was new. Almost got me there, short stack! Just don’t think you’re gonna get the chance to do it again.”

    Kohta didn’t say anything, he wasn’t one for shittalking during a fight. Instead he came forward again at a steady but calm pace.

    Oga braced himself as well, so when Kohta charged at the last moment, the taller boy was able to take his charge without losing his balance. The two shoved at each other for a moment before Oga ground out between clenched teeth: “Ya deaf shorty? I just said that wouldn’t work a second time.”

    With that, he shortened the grip on his axe and punched at Kohta’s face in an attempt to force him to back off. Kohta however simply ducked his head, allowing his helmet to accept the blow. Had they been using real axes it would have been something of a risky move, but as the old saying goes, without risk there can be no victory.

    Kohta then began driving forward again while at the same time using the lower position of his shield to begin forcing Oga’s shield up, leaving him open for a body blow and a win in this duel. A predatory grin spread across Kohta’s face, not unlike the one almost permanently slapped across Oga’s. I raised an eyebrow, impressed at Kohta, beating Oga in the Holmgang had become almost an obsession for him, and it looked like he was finally going to do it.

    Then, to my surprise, Oga slipped on the wet ground and hit the ground with a thud. Kohta, momentarily surprised at this sudden windfall, went in for the kill. Almost faster than the eye could follow, Oga swept his legs and hooked Kohta’s, sending the boy crashing to the ground with a thud. Then Oga, like greased lightning, had gotten off the ground, leaving his shield behind, and was on top of Kohta in a heartbeat. One knee pinning Kohta’s shield to hit chest, his free hand pinning Kohta’s axe hand to the ground and his own axe pressed against Kohta’s throat which, had it have been real, would have likely begun to cut into the shorter fighter’s throat.

    “Ya give up?” Oga asked, the smuggest smile in the world on his face.

    Kohta glared at Oga with a white hot fury, before sighing and muttering: “I give.”

    Oga laughed and got off him. “Not bad, shorty, ya almost got me that time.”

    He then offered his axe to Kohta so he could grab it and pull himself up. “No hard feelings, right?”

    Kohta grinned and grabbed the axe, then he pulled down violently, dragging the off-balance Oga off his feet to splat into the mud right next to him. “None at all.”

    Oga spluttered for a moment then stared at Kohta, then he burst out laughing, clutching at his sides. Kohta soon followed him and both mud-coated boys were simply howling in laughter.

    “Why don’t you two stop with the foreplay and just fuck already!”

    I snapped my head in the direction of the Thegn who’d said that: Daigo Matsumari, leader of the Heavenly Dragons. He wasn’t one of the best fighters among the Thegns, but he did have the loudest mouth. He also was one of the first to start fighting with my boys, as well as one of the last to join, and while I didn’t have any proof, I’d bet a month's pay that he was probably also also one of the idiots who’d come up with the whole ‘going a-viking’ idea.

    In other words, he was a nasty little streak of piss, the better part of which probably ran down the side of his mother’s leg. And if the look on Oga’s face was any indication, wouldn’t be too long for this world if I didn’t interfere.

    Almost reluctantly, I stepped forward and spoke up in a loud and clear tone. “Daigo-san, so nice of you to volunteer for the last duel. Hayato, you’re up, it’s one and one so far and this’ll be the tie-breaker.”

    Daigo went as pale as a sheet at those words, while his comrades simply laughed at his misfortune. Hayato was, simply put, the best fighter among the Huscarls, and while he wouldn’t beat on a man while he was down, if he thought you needed an asskicking he wouldn’t hesitate to deliver. And Daigo needed one like a fish needs water.

    I was about to start the fight when I happened to glance up and see two shapes moving through the rain from the school’s main building. I tried to see who the two were but the intensity of the rain made it difficult to make out any features. Glancing back at the still smoldering fury in Oga’s eyes I made a snap decision.

    “Alright, I need to go handle this,” I said calmly. “Oga, since you won the last bout, you get to ref.”

    Daigo’s face went from pale to bleached at Oga’s smile, the sheer gleeful cruelty in which would have given lesser men nightmares. “I’ll do ya proud, Sensei,” he replied with far too much cheer.

    “I’m sure you will,” I replied drolly, suppressing a slight shudder. Oga calling anyone sensei was never a good sign.

    My Huscarls were chanting Hayato’s name while the Thegns were making bets on how long Hayato was going to toy with Daigo before he pussied out when I turned and started to walk over to the two shapes in the rain.

    It took a few moments before I could make out any details, but it was soon clear that the two were short, likely two women, the blue raincoats they wore indicated they were police officers. My stomach seemed to plummet for an instant before I squared my shoulders and marched over to the two officers.

    “Greetings, ladies,” I said with a polite nod. “How may I be of assistance?”

    The taller of the two, a dark-haired woman a bit older than me, stepped forward and said: “Good afternoon, sir, I’m Officer Matsushima. Are you Thomas Brody?”

    I fought back a slight flinch at her pronunciation of my name. Come on Japan, was it really that hard? “Yes, ma’am.”

    She sighed, unsure how to continue, while behind me I could hear Daigo bellowing in terror as Hayato was beating the asshole out of him. She looked over my shoulder trying to see the source of that racket then turned back to me. “About a month ago, our station began receiving some interesting reports. It seems that the street crime in many areas took a strange and interesting... shift.”

    I fought down a sigh, knowing damn well why that was. “How so, officer?”

    She glanced over my shoulder for a moment and then looked at me with a peaked eyebrow.

    It seemed that Hayato had Daigo on the ground and seemed to be driving him into the earth like a human nail.

    “It’s to submission and they’re using pads?” I offered weakly.

    She nodded in seeming acceptance before moving on. It seemed that the sports culture in Japan was just a hair more accepting of extreme violence. I mean, just the stories I heard about the Jindai Rugby Team alone...

    “Back to your question, the reports I mentioned said that overall harassment of civilians by local street gangs has plummeted, while violence among the gangs themselves has shot up tremendously in some areas while vanishing completely in others.” Well, it seemed the action of the Thegns had been noticed. Surprised it took as long as it had.

    “Well, that sounds like good news, officer, but what brings you here?” I asked.

    “Many of my colleagues would agree with you,” she replied. “You’re not currently under investigation but if you discover that your...” She paused. “Students do anything clearly illegal I expect you to contact the police.”

    I nodded. This was starting to seem a bit fishy. There’s no way they’d have sent a street cop, even one as cute this this one, to deliver this kind of warning. “So what brings you here, officer?”

    “I’m here investigating a report of an interrupted purse snatching. A few days ago in the Hanbai shopping district, we had a purse-snatcher try and make off with a woman’s purse. Before the thief ran more than a few paces a known gang member of the Iron Tigers clotheslined the thief and returned the purse to the woman.”

    I have to admit I gave her an unimpressed look as I read between the lines. Her superiors were content to just leave things be for the moment, but little miss ambitious junior officer was trying to find a feather for her cap.

    “Sounds like he was just being a good citizen, officer.” I said, now getting slightly annoyed.

    “While none of the witnesses would corroborate, according to the thief, his wallet was stolen by the delinquent while he was on the ground. He claimed he heard him mutter something about spoils of war while he was being beaten.”

    “And none of the witnesses will corroborate?” I asked, repeating her own statement.

    “Yes, sir...” She replied with as much professionalism as she could muster.

    “Then why are you here?” I asked once more.

    She flushed. It would have been cute if she hadn’t been trying to grill me. “Because the woman who owned the purse has placed an open reward to the young man who retrieved it for her.”

    I smirked and glanced over to the Thegns. “Hey! Uremeshi! Seems one of your boys is a regular old good samaritan!” I shouted over the pounding rain, laughing street thugs, and the cries of the damned. “Lady Cop is here about some kind of reward.”

    Sasuke raised his head at the sound of his name and glanced in my direction. It took him a moment to remember what I was talking about before he smiled. “Oh, ole Ichi the white knight, eh? So he really did clothesline that Black Ronin motherfucker? Hah! Need to tell the others to stop giving him shit for making up stories.”

    “Language Uremeshi, we are in the presence of ladies.”

    “They’re just a couple pi-”

    “Ladies, and if you finish that last word I swear I’ll turn around and study my finger nails while they break their nightsticks off in your ass,” I turned around and bowed. “My apologies officers, they’re not entirely housebroken yet.”

    The younger of the two, a petite blonde, giggled slightly, earning herself a curt glare from her superior.

    I glanced over to the smaller woman and my eyes widened momentarily. Asami Nakaoka, a survivor that the high school crew came across at the local mall, had a spark of a romance with Kohta... and… well, her end was a tragedy worthy of Shakespeare… hopefully I could avert it... but I can’t be everywhere at once…

    Fuck. I’d have to try. And probably try and save Jackass Senpai here. She was a nice girl and you know what, Kohta deserves to have some happiness considering all the shit about to be dumped on his plate.

    Just as I was thinking that the Huscarls were walking past the three of us as they headed towards the showers, I then had a brain storm. “Hey Kohta! Why don’t you explain to these fine officers what exactly I’ve been doing here, because they seem to think we’re doing some shady business here.”

    “Alright Sen...sei…”

    His eyes widened as they met with Asami’s, who blushed in turn. I looked between the two of them for a moment, and swore I saw sparkles and a fucking rainbow.

    If Dreamweaver started playing spontaneously in the background I swore I’d-

    Oh, no way...

    My head whipped back to the Huscarls. “Kenji, answer your damned phone.”

    “Yes sensei!” He replied with a flush as he started toward the bleachers with a joyful smile. His girlfriend was calling.

    I turned back to the young pair, and sighed. Damn that was fast… and now I was obligated to at least try and track her down if I didn’t want the Huscarls to split up on Z-Day considering the respect the others gave Kohta as the first member of the club and the one who invited them in the first place.

    Fuck.
     
  22. 2 Hot Crown Subdues the Sinful

    2 Hot Crown Subdues the Sinful Desu Vult!

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    Total Bro, making sure to save your minion's future waifu.
     
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  23. Threadmarks: Part Fifiteen
    Brian Boru

    Brian Boru Versed in the lewd.

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    It was another average day… so long as you didn’t know that the Zompocalypse was coming. I was finishing up the last class of the day while thinking about where I could stash a couple of weapons caches for the big day when a feminine voice broke through my thoughts.


    “Excuse me, Brody-Sensei?” Glancing towards to the door, I saw, to my mild surprise, Saeko Busijima, captain of the Kendo club and one of the OTL Main characters standing there with a nervous look on her face.


    That was a bit surprising for several reasons. For one, Saeko rarely frequented my part of the school and other than coming by the dojo to practice with my own shield and ax on my own time we rarely interacted with each other. For another reason, Saeko was not one to let down her stoic persona to anyone. It took either a lot of trust or extreme duress to break that facade.


    Curious about what she wanted, I put down the sheet of papers I’d been stacking and walked over to her. “Yes Busijima-san? Is there something I can do for you?”


    She bit her lip for a moment and looked away for a moment, goggling internally. I waited until she seemed to steel herself and turn back to look me in the eye. “Brody-san, my club formally asks if we could have a competition between your club and ours. A series of five duels between the most skilled members, perhaps?”

    Are you sure that 'goggling' is the right word here?

    I raised my eyebrows at that. “Miss Busijima, I should remind you that, and this is with great respect to you and your club, my students are being taught a combat martial art. Kendo is a tournament style. The simple fact is that my students are not taught to hold back while yours have, and for good reason, had the rules of the sport drilled into them as part of their training. Your team would be fighting with a handicap.”


    Her nervousness seemed to instantly evaporate and a hard glare locked eyes with me. “And if we still won, wouldn’t that mean that we’re even more skilled than we thought?Besides, it would be good practice to see and compete against other styles, it would be good for both our clubs.” And you really, really wanted to have a go at me. See if you're as good as you think you are.


    “Maybe it would, but I refuse to fight you at anything other than your best,” I replied calmly. “But would you mind if we cut to the chase, Miss Busijima?”


    She blinked at that, seemed I’d put her on the backstep with that remark. I pressed forward. “I know for a fact that none of the other members of the Kendo club want anything to do with my boys, especially after those delinquents began joining for saturday practices. But you, you want a challenge; I’ve seen you practice once or twice, you always seemed bored, or constrained, like you’re limiting yourself when you really want to cut loose and give it all you have, is that right?”


    She flushed and took half a step back. “I have no idea what you’re-”


    “Don’t lie to yourself and don’t lie to me,” I interrupted, crossing my arms in slight annoyance. “You’ve got the heart of a warrior. To be completely frank, you’re one of those people who’d have been much happier being born 450 years ago when people didn’t just play swords after school. And more than anything, you want to be able to enjoy the thrill of a real fight without having to worry about being judged.”


    She turned red and clenched her fists. “I have no idea what you are talking about! I only came here to challenge your club to a proper contest of skill!”


    “Miss Busijima, you’re lying again. But let’s make a deal: you’ll have your tournament between your club and mine, but you need to repeat after me. ‘I Saeko Busijima, challenge you, Thomas Brody, to a duel.’ It’s what you're really after and if you admit that then you’ve got your tournament and your personal fight.”


    Her eyes narrowed as she glared at me. “Fine! If that is what it takes, then! `I Saeko Busijima, challenge you, Thomas Brody, to a duel!’ Just name the time and place!”


    I nodded and said: “I accept your challenge, we’ll have it at your club dojo in three days' time. Be at your best, because if you aren’t, I will defeat you without fail. And once we’ve had our duel, then we can discuss a match between the clubs.”


    I swore I saw a small smile on her face as she replied: “We shall see about that, Brody-sensei.” She then bowed and said; “Good day then, Sensei.” And left, though if I didn’t know better I’d swear her step was just a little bit lighter than it had been when she’d entered.


    I was grinning at a job well done, then it hit me what I’d just done. “Oh God, did I just pull a Shido? I mean, I know I did it for her own good but... Christ, I think I need a drink.” That bottle of Sake sitting in my apartment suddenly became much more appealing…



    ****************


    CLACK!


    WHACK!


    POW!


    “Alright, you three out, next three up!” I said, doing my best to keep my feet and my composure, still wondering why I’d gone along with this psychotic idea.


    “Alright Sensei!”


    “My turn!”


    “I’m still having doubts about this….”


    You and me both, Touji… I thought to myself but the two of us were part of a very small minority among both the Huscarls and the Thegns. When I’d walked into the field for training that afternoon after speaking with Saeko about a duel three days from then, I’d learned, to my chagrin, that one of the boys had overheard that conversation and thought it’d be an awesome idea….but that I needed some heavy duty practice to have a chance against the daughter of a nationally renowned champion swordsman.


    Thusly, they’d come up with the brilliant idea of forcing me to fight with my all by making me fight every single member of the club, both Huscarls and Thegns. In one sitting. At three to one odds. Every afternoon until the match.


    The next matchup I had to face was the one I was dreading most. It seems that the boys had decided that I’d needed proper motivation, so somehow Onikumo and Oga had momentarily put aside their differences for the moment in favor of a more entertaining pastime. And to make matters even worse, they’d somehow convinced Hayato to join in on the fun. The fun, of course, being kicking my ass.


    It would take everything I had to just defend myself, let alone go on the offensive. When I took my revenge it would be as cold and merciless as northern winter’s gale…. And feel as warm and satisfying as a balmy tropical summer’s breeze. This I swore… by the name of Christ, Thor, Zeus, and any and every deity known to man.


    Shit, I’d swear it by the Flying Spaghetti Monster at this point.


    As I took a deep breath and prepared myself for the pain to come, I glanced something out of the corner of my eye. It was Takashi Komuro, Mr. Protagonist himself.


    He was sitting on the bleachers staring off into space with the most lost and dejected expression on his face I’d seen in some time. I didn’t see much of him outside of class, but considering that finals were almost up, I had a strong feeling what was eating him: Rei Miyamoto, the latest victim of the Shido clan. She was his friend, his love interest, and she’d been failed because Shido’s father was a scumbag. And now the poor sap was stuck wearing the cement shoes in a pool of teenage angst.


    Of course, none of this came to mind when I first saw him. The only thing I could think was: an excuse!


    “Hold up, guys.” I walked over to the bleachers and called out. “Hey, Komura! Come here.”


    The kid didn’t seem to hear me at first, but when I called him again he raised his head and glanced in my direction. When he saw it was a teacher calling for him, he sighed and stood up, then dejectedly stomped his way down the bleachers towards me. When we both reached the bottom staircase he looked me over for a moment before asking:“Alright, Sensei, what is it you wanted?”


    I glanced him up and down, to get the measure of the boy. I cupped one hand over my chin as if in deep contemplation, making learned noises. “Hmmm… uh-huh... Yeah. I can work with this.”


    “What the...”


    “Kohta. Get us a set of spares. The rest of you, give us space. This is private.”


    “What the hell are you talking about?” He repeated, this time able to complete his statement.


    “Listen kid, I know exactly what’s eating you,” I said with a knowing smirk on my face.


    “And I also know the solution.”


    “Yeah, and what’s that?”


    “Right now you’re moping. But here’s the issue: you have one of two choices. First, you can go back up to your bleacher and go angst yourself into a hole. Second, you can pick up a shield, pick up an axe, and turn your sorrow, your rage, and your frustration into something useful. What will it be?”


    “You have no idea what’s-”


    “Rei’s your friend and because of political bullshit, she’s being fucked over by that sociopathic cunt, Shido.”


    His eyes widened when I said that. “But... how…”


    “Because I’ve dealt with his bullshit in the past and I don’t think there’s a single person on the staff that he hasn’t blackmailed, intimidated, or manipulated into putting up with his special breed of evil.”


    I could see the wheels turning in his head as the pieces fell into place. His eyes narrowed and his fists clenched, he then spun around and began marching towards the school with murder one his face. Reacting quickly, I grabbed his shoulder and turned him back around to face me.


    “Hold on! You can’t just go charging in like that. As much as I hate to admit it, the bastard’s as slippery as an eel, has a vindictive streak a mile wide, and his old man is so well connected that the son of a bitch is basically untouchable. Trust me, I know. What you need right now is an outlet to vent your rage. Then you can figure out how to make up with your friend. She really needs you right now, kid. And if you don’t show her you still care then you’re both going to regret it.”


    He stood in place glaring at me, stewing with impotent rage for a moment, but then, almost serendipitously, Kohta arrived with the equipment I’d ordered him to fetch.


    “Ah, right on cue.” I grabbed the helmet and offered it to him. “First things first, you need to vent some frustration and I could use the practice. So, what do you say?”


    Takashi stared at the helmet for a long moment before sighing, said; “What the hell…” and took it from my hand.


    “Right then, Kohta, help him get the rest of that on, I’ll be waiting in the ring.”


    A few minutes later Takashi came out with a helmet, an axe, a shield and some shin and arm guards. He was making a few mock swings with the axe, testing out the weight and how it felt to swing it.


    “Keep a tighter grip, that axe is an extension of your arm and you need to think of it as such. And another, more important, rule, always keep your shield up!” I bellowed that last part, and to my amusement I’d made the kid jump a bit.


    Now that he was focused on me I said: “Right, let’s see what you can do. I’ll give you corrections and some pointers as we go.”


    What followed was a good fifteen minute spar that grew more intense as Takashi took in what I told him and became more and more confident with how the axe and shield style worked. To my pleased surprise, Takashi was a natural, he had no hesitation, had good reflexes, and he seemed to soak in what I was telling him at a rapid pace. He was still very rough but he largely made up for it with raw potential. Damn. If I’d just taken him in a few months ago I’d have had another terror like Oga or Hayato on my hands.


    Though there still was about a month to go. I smiled. There’s something to be said about working under the wire...


    For about a minute, Takashi was letting loose a flurry of blows on me, which I deftly blocked or parried. Finally he was bent over, gasping for air and a hint of a smile on his face. I was smiling as well, though not as winded.


    “You have potential, kid, how about joining the club this April? I know you don’t have any other obligations.”


    “I’m not sure, Sensei, I mean the other guys have had months on me.”


    “Ah, don’t worry about it. I know you live nearby, so do I and I can give you a crash course over the break, by the time April comes around I assure you you’ll be just as good as any of the others! So what do say?”


    Takashi looked me in the eyes, then at the others who’d been watching, all seemed impressed with the guy… then he grinned and said: “Ya’ know what, I think I’ll take you up on your offer… But for now I’ve got someone I need to talk to.”


    And with that, he began removing the sparring gear and with a final wave he headed up towards the school, where I knew the Soujutsu club held its practices. I felt pretty good with myself; I’d just nipped a whole bunch of angst and teenage drama in the bud before- wait… did I just pull a Therapy-no-Jutsu...


    Holy shit. I really just did.


    Jesus... if I hadn’t already known I was in a manga series, I’d have been convinced of it after that little spat… that sake bottle I kept in my closet was becoming even more appealing….


    “Hey Sensei!” Oga exclaimed with a smile and threw an arm over my shoulder. “That was a pretty cool thing you just did. Fer an old guy.”


    “Watch it Oga, I’m not even thirty yet.”


    “Like I said, old guy. And ya’ know ya still haven’t finished the circuit, right?”


    I paled slightly as his smile grew. “Oh… right…” Fuck do I need a drink…


    **********


    The next morning I was a hair stiff, and more than a little sore, but about as ready as I could be for this duel. Over and over again in my head I questioned whether I’d make a mistake insisting on this fight. On the bright side, getting her to accept her more violent nature as a part of her would be a boon in the early days of the apocalypse. Having Saeko going all out from moment one would literally save lives. On the other hand, fucking Christ, what if one of us went too far? What if I hurt her? What if she she hurt me? Or worse yet, both. We’d never be able to recover quickly enough for Z-Day and then we’d be completely, wholly, and rightly fucked.


    “Lord in heaven. Please don’t let me fuck this up. Amen,” I prayed under my breath as I walked to my first class, making the sign of the cross for good measure.


    For the rest of the day I was in a fog, going through the motions as Kurokawa and I continued trying to cram in some last minute tidbits of information into these kids' heads for the finals.


    When the lunch bell finally rang, with more muscle memory than any real thought I made my way towards Shizuka’s office. When we’d started dating I’d learned that they kept a mini-fridge in her office. Technically it was for various medical items, such as cold compresses and the like, but it doubled for personal lunch storage. I’d jumped at the opportunity to store something other than canned food or sandwiches and not risk getting my lunch stolen out of the faculty fridge...


    If he wasn’t blackmailing people or ruining their lives, he was stealing their lunches. Seriously, Shido’s wickedness had no limits.


    Plus, there was something special to be said about having your girlfriend make you a bento every day for work. Cliche as hell, yes, but let's be honest: I was living in an anime after all. And it was also really cute. Especially the way she made sure to give it cute decorations and would light up whenever I opened it.


    When I opened the door I was on autopilot and was only vaguely aware of my surroundings. Meaning that I was completely unaware when a hundred and thirty pounds of gorgeous woman glomped me from behind the door, nearly knocking me to the floor in my inattentiveness.


    Some people had coffee, others used energy drinks, I used to use a whole lotta soft drinks, now? Now all I needed was my daily glomp from an overly enthusiastic blonde with the body of a goddess. Shizuka was like a shot of adrenaline straight to the brain with those embraces of hers.


    Shizuka was resting her chin on my shoulder, still hugging tight I might add, when she asked; “What’s wrong, Tom-kun?”


    For a supposed air-head, she was amazingly perceptive.


    “You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.” I said.


    “Try me.” She said with a giggle.


    Turning my head and making enough space so I could kiss her cheek I said: “Alright. But be warned... it’s a bit nutty.”


    She smiled and moved away, towards the mini fridge. “It’s you, Tom. Of course it’s a bit nutty.”


    She bent over to open the fridge, causing me to unconsciously suck in a deep breath through my nose. Hot damn! Now there was a sight I’d never grow tired of seeing.


    “So,” she asked, retrieving our lunches and closing the door with a slight kick from one perfectly shaped leg. “Why don’t you tell me about it?”


    She did a playful little twirl and placed the bentos on her desk before taking a seat. She didn’t like to sit behind it when I was around, instead favoring the far side so we could sit together.


    “You want the short version or the long version?” I asked with a sigh.


    She paused for a moment. “Hm. Start with the short. I don’t like suspense.”


    I loosed another sigh. “I have a duel with Saeko Busijima, the captain of the Kendo club after school.”


    She blinked. “And I’m sure there’s quite the story behind this duel, right?”


    “That would be the long version,” I replied.


    She smiled. “So, did you tell me because you didn’t want me to worry or because you didn’t want me to nag you about getting yourself hurt?”


    I raised an eyebrow. “I’m fighting an eighteen year old girl and you’re worried about my health? Talk about being supportive of your man, honey?”


    “She’s a nationally recognized kendo champion, dear.”


    “And I taught a bunch of otaku how to conquer Norway… have a little faith in me, could ya?”


    “Don’t be silly. I’m your girlfriend. Of course I have faith in you.” She raised a finger. “But I’m also the one who cleans you and your boys up when you get too enthusiastic! And fretting over you is part of both my jobs!”


    That set me chuckling, the tension flowing out of me like a river. The woman was a balm to the soul, how the hell was I so lucky?


    “Too true, honey, too true, but I’m getting off topic.”


    She nodded. “That you are. You came here for lunch, right?”


    “But of course.” I lifted the lid of the bento to see that she’d made the hotdog octopi again, with the rice balls decorated with bean jam smiley faces. “Ah, a work of art, as always.”


    That prompted another one of those golden smiles as I make a quick sign of the cross and muttered a prayer of thanksgiving before digging in, Shizuka giving her usual cheerful cry of “Itadakimasu”. We then quickly dug into our lunches. As I ate, some of those concerns I’d been worrying over began to crawl back in but at a much more muted level that I could keep a lid on.


    “So about that story, well, what happened was that about two days ago,” I began. “Saeko paid me a visit. Seems she had the idea of pitting the best of her kendo club against the best of my boys.”


    “Sounds alright so far,” she replied, gently picking up a piece of sushi and eating it with graceful relish and a smack of her lips.


    Shit, what was it about that women that made even eating semi-erotic?


    “The problem is I pushed her,” I replied.


    “If you say you propositioned one of your students I’m going to be very cross.”


    “W-what?!” I exclaimed, turning a brilliant shade of read. “What would even make you say that?”


    “I wanted to get a rise out of you,” she said with a twinkle in her eyes. “I know you’d never do that. Not with how shy you were the first time we-”


    I coughed. “Can I tell the story? Please?”


    She giggled. “Carry on!”


    I sighed. “It was obvious that she really just wanted to go one on one...”


    Her eyes sparkled. “Are you sure you didn’t-”


    “No!” I exclaimed as she laughed.


    I love the woman, but god damn her dirty mind!


    “Shizuka, she’s a fighter! I’ve been dealing with aggressive people for months. Maybe she wanted the match, maybe she didn’t, but I could tell that what she really wanted was to fight someone she didn’t have to hold back on. But she was too afraid of herself to admit it! So I pushed her and made her challenge me properly. And now I kind of feel like an ass about it because that’s the kind of shit Shido pulls all the fucking time.”


    “Not really,” she replied. “Sounds like you did it because you that she, your student, was somehow feeling...” She pressed her chopsticks against her chin for a moment, looking for the right words. “Out of touch with herself. Right?”


    “Yeah, that’s a good way of putting it.”


    “Then you weren’t acting anything like Shido,” she clarified. “Maybe I’ve just watched too many martial arts movies, but I think you were just acting like a good teacher. Your job as a teacher is to help these kids even if they don’t want to be helped. To teach them how to become stronger and better people. Sometimes you can talk to them and they’ll listen, sometimes they don’t and you have to trick them into learning. Right?”


    I smiled. “I guess you’re right on that part. Still I hope we don’t accidentally hurt each other, there’s only…” I stopped right there, quashing a desire to clap my hand over my mouth. Jesus, I’d almost admitted to the Zompocalypse with only a month left. Don’t trip at the finish line, man.


    Shizuka didn’t seem to notice my trip up. “Don’t worry, Tom-chan,” she replied with a smile. “If you’re so worried, how about I come by and supervise to make sure everyone comes out okay. Okay?”


    I smiled. “Thank you, Shizuka. I don’t know what I did to deserve a girl as great as you.”


    In fact, I thought as I plastered a slightly plastic smile on my face, I really didn’t deserve her. I’d been lying to her since the moment we met.


    Oh god, did I need a drink.
     
  24. Threadmarks: Part Sixteen
    Brian Boru

    Brian Boru Versed in the lewd.

    Joined:
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    AN: With gratuitous input from Psyckosama and Editing from Grey Rook, here's part Sixteen, enjoy!
    AN Note to QQ only: If you randy bastards want to put your imaginations from this chapter on paper feel free but I ain't contributing...:p

    Several hours after my lunch with Shizuka, the final bell for the day rang and I made my way towards the locker rooms with a change of clothes under my arms. After that lunch-time conversation, I’d become a bit more accepting of the fact that yes, I was about to have a dragout fight with a high school student, and yes, I was going to have to go all out on her if I didn’t want her to reduce me to a greasy stain on the rug.

    And yes, I was still having problems coming to terms with it, because the idea that I was in danger of getting my ass kicked by a Japanese schoolgirl was still a bit hard to believe.

    Would someone please remind me of why I went and picked a fight with a self-admitted sadist with world-class kenjutsu training? Because I was still wondering and was in no mood to become her... her...personal pleasure object. At least at 18 she was no longer technically jailbait, whatever hollow, twisted comfort that fact might provide.

    Dear God I must be stressed out for my mind to go there.

    I tried to remove that little image by reminding myself that, as good as Saeko was, I’d been working myself to the bone for a year, I’d taken the worst nerds and otakus in this damn school and had turned them into warriors able to conquer cities. I had indirectly humbled a score of the worst street gangs in Tokonasu.

    Of course I could handle one crazy samurai girl with a ‘hurting people’ fetish. Right?

    A quick change later and I was marching into the dojo. I wore the full gear; helmet, chainmail, arm and leg guards, a wooden practice axe in one hand, and I intended to grab my personal shield being kept in the dojo.

    I told her that she had to take this one hundred percent seriously, or she’d lose for sure, but the reality was that I’d have to do the same as well or face the same consequence.

    When I reached the door of the dojo, I couldn’t help but notice all the shoes at the front door of the building and the sound of voices, seems like I was a bit late to the party.

    Sliding open the door, I was hit by a wave of sound as both the Huscarls and the Thegns had come out in full force to watch this fight. All fifty or so of them, they’d also come with their own gear on, including their shields which they were using as impromptu drums as they hammered the axes against their sides, at first a loud cacophony but eventually a rhythm like the heartbeat of the universe itself began to form, and eventually several score of battle-hardened young men were drumming their support for their Cynning.

    There was a good reason drums had been used by warhosts since times immemorial, there was something primal about that rhythmic hammering. An ancient heartbeat that reached down to a man’s soul, for first time that day I was actually excited for this fight. In response to this sudden exuberance on my part, I raised my axe over my head, and my Werod roared their approval loud enough to make the rafters of the dojo shake.

    I happened to glance to the other side of the dojo and saw the kendo club sitting over there. A plain nasty grin spread across my face when I took in how spooked they were at the rhythmic shield drumming as well as the boisterous support I had from my boys.

    Then I happened to spot Shizuka sitting in one corner of the Dojo, a first aid kit by her side. When we made eye contact, she gave me one of her million-watt smiles and waved in my direction. Suddenly, all the chanting of my name in the world didn’t seem to matter a wit.

    Riding that particular buzz, I turned to my opponent and my brows promptly furrowed. There was Saeko herself, kitted out in a full set of kendo armor, save for the large headgear indicative to the sport, nor did I see one either in her arms or near her.

    I politely bowed to the young woman, then asked: “I hate to ask, but where’s your helmet Ms. Busijima? I can’t really start this duel if you don’t have one.”

    “I have decided to forgo the helmet,” she replied. “While it offers effective protection, it is ill suited for a ‘real fight’ as you called it.”

    I frowned. “Well, lucky for you then that our helmets aren’t quite so limited.”

    I glanced over to the boys. “Alright, who wants to lend Ms. Busijima his cover?”

    It was telling to the nature of teenage boys that virtually all of them had raised their hands.

    I sighed. Boys will be boys, and Saeko was pretty much a walking fantasy. Of course they’d be stumbling over each other in an attempt to win her attention.

    What?

    I was in a relationship, I wasn’t blind.

    “Alright, let’s do this fairly.” I then proceeded to cover my eyes with my left while with the index finger of my right pointed out I began moving my finger back and forth and up and down before finally coming to a stop at random. Opening my eyes, I smirked and said: “Alright, Touji, you get to lend the helmet, go on ahead.”

    Touij, one of my huscarls, quickly got up and scampered over to Busijima and plucked his helmet off his head and handed over to her. “Oh... erm... don’t worry, I-I disinfected it just this morning… unless you want another one? B-because that’s alright…”

    Apparently, how to talk to women is not a skill one spontaneously learns. Little late to teach any of them, though… darn… not that I really was one for teaching that particular skill to begin with.

    While Touji was beginning to self-destruct, Busijima saved the poor guy’s dignity by taking the helm with a smile. “Thank you Touji-san, I’ll wear it with honor.” And with that she plopped it right on her head. “Perfect fit.”

    Touji managed to mumble something and with a quick bow scampered back to his spot, the other boys either ribbing him or congratulating him for his lucky break.

    That bit of drama out of the way, I turned to Busijima, who looked a little incongruous wearing a northern Germanic helm with the VERY Japanese Kendo gear she wore as well. Raising my shield which I had grabbed while Touji had been up, I then pointed my axe at her and bellowed my challenge. “I, Thomas Brody, Cynning of this Werod comes in response to the challenge of Saeko Busijima. In accordance to the old ways this fight will be until submission or one combatant is either no longer able to carry on or struck with a blow that would be lethal had we chosen to use live steel. I accept these conditions, do you?”

    Saeko blinked at that for a moment, then grinned. “I, Saeko of Clan Busijima, Swordswoman and Captain of this club accepts your conditions. Let us see who is the greater fighter.”

    “Let’s…” I growled. “Good luck.”

    She smirked. “You as well.”

    I then all but roared as I crashed my shield, Busijima was silent but she twirled her sword several times that I knew for a fact were completely unnecessary.

    Then Shizuka, who was the only neutral in the building, stood up and raised her arm, then shouted: “Begin!”

    I quickly approached her, shield raised and my axe hand positioned to strike at the first possible-

    Shit!

    The room resounded with the crack of wooden sword against wooden shield, as Saeko went on the attack. It was only reflexes made from countless hours of practice managed to keep Saeko from cracking my skull within the first two seconds of the fight.

    She’d started with an all-out assault. She’d probably been hoping that she’d take me out with an all-offensive strategy. And I had to give her credit, it almost worked. Unfortunately for her, it didn’t - which meant she was open.

    So I attacked. Deflecting her blow with one hand I brought my axe down towards her shoulder.

    The girl was fast, I’ll tell you that. It was a testament to both her speed and her skill that she was able to roll away. And probably lucky for us both, because had it connected I’d have given the strike even odds of breaking her collarbone.

    A couple bodylengths away, she rolled to her feet with a level of grace that could probably humble even an olympic gymnast. And in her eyes I saw respect along with a flash of excitement. It was the look of someone who’d finally found a proper fight.

    My body now flooding with adrenaline, I did my best to prepare for her next attack.

    Saeko’s smile wasn’t entirely wholesome as she fell back into her fighting stance and we once again began the dance of death.

    As she went on the attack again, I realized that Saeko had one very clear and very exploitable weakness that, if properly leveraged, would lead to absolute victory: she was a sadist. She was a skilled fighter without a doubt, but her driving force was her literal lust for blood and violence.

    This lent her an air of predictability. If she could attack, she’d attack, and given the choice between between defense and offense, she’d always choose offence. It was probably a somewhat useful trait in the Japanese martial mindset. Their weapons, armor, and strategy all lent themselves to favor the offense.

    But unfortunately for her, I was fighting using very different methods and a very different mindset.

    If Japanese methods favored skill and speed with the intent of ending it with a perfect killing blow, then the traditional european methods were designed to force the enemy into a grinding contest of strength and will.

    As long as I kept it on my terms, I’d win this, if only because I’d be able to exhaust her.

    Saeko moved in for another attack, I deflected it. And then another, and then another.

    I could see the frustration and fury growing in her eyes, but I could also see restraint.

    Shit. I didn’t want to humiliate her. It wouldn’t do for her to doubt her abilities this close to Z-Day. If anything she needed to be less restrained when the day came, not more so.

    And because of that I had to take a risk.

    “I told you, Saeko!” I exclaimed as I blocked yet another strike, this time taking an opportunistic attack with my axe. “If you want to win, you have to give it you all! So how about you cut it out with this Yamato Nadeshiko shit and show me your A-game!”

    Her eyes flashed with fury as she understood my words. “H-how dare you!”

    “You’re holding back,” I said with a growl. “I can see it in your eyes. They way you’re fighting now, I’ll grind you to dust. So either let the tiger out of its cage, or get off the mat.”

    She stepped back and for a moment I saw conflict in her eyes. So I rolled mine.

    The little shock of disrespect seemed to do its job, because she simply took a deep breath and fell back into her stance.

    The change in her demeanor was subtle but definitive, and I’ll freely admit, really fucking creepy. The look on her face was... well... the last time I’d seen a look even remotely like that on a woman’s face was the last time Shizuka and I, well, a gentleman doesn’t tell.

    I’d never really understood the phrase ‘bloodlust’ until now. The look in her eyes was a rather twisted mixture of longing that almost defied explanation. It was one half burning sexual desire, one half impassioned rage, one half giddy expectation, and 150% really fucking disturbing.

    I need an adult….

    Oh crap.

    I am the adult!

    If she was fast before, now she almost seemed to teleport into her blows as I blocked three bonebreaking strikes in as many seconds.

    Shit. At his rate she’d pressure me hard enough to find a chink in my armor before she ran out of steam. I couldn’t just defend anymore. I had to break up her momentum. Now it was my turn to step it up a notch.

    A moment after she struck for a fourth time I struck out at her with a shield bash, which forced her backwards and threw her off balance for a brief moment. She almost immediately recovered, but that was enough time for me to step into the attack.

    She grinned like a maniac as she brought up her sword to block and probed out with a side kick.

    I smiled. Alright, so we’re using hands and feet now, eh? Good to know.

    You know, she kicks like a mule for a 120lb girl. It wasn’t enough to do any harm, but it was enough to buy her just enough time to disengage and start circling me like a shark.

    I smiled. Good. Now she was using her head. Now was when it would get real.

    I could already see that the fight was taking its toll on her. She was flushed and she was breathing hard, through a treasonous part of me noted just as much seemed to be an erotic flush as much as exhaustion.

    Would have been almost sexy if it wasn’t completely terrifying. Shit, this girl had a bad case of the cray-cray. I almost felt bad that I’d goaded her into letting it out of the cage. Almost.

    It was exactly the kind of crazy we were all going to need if we were going to stay alive.

    On and on the fight continued, neither one of us able to land a hit, I was too slow to hit her, and my defense was too strong for her to penetrate. I was getting tired, but she was starting to draw back more and more.

    The look in her eyes was changing. Still creepy, but changing. Now it was more primal hunger cut with desperation. Christ, I’d never actually been in a fight that actually felt dirty before, but something about this girl made a duel downright lewd.

    Then I saw her bunch up, as if preparing for one last attack, she broke into a run, then surprised everyone when she lept into the air and did one of the last last things anyone would have ever expected to see in a weapons duel: a two-legged flying drop kick.

    It was damned impressive, I’ll tell you that, but there was one problem. It was powerful, it was unexpected, but it was also one of those tricks you used only once in front of a particular opponent. It was a shock and awe attack designed to stall and stagger the enemy, leaving them open for the kill. Extremely risky. A gamble, and one that she lost, for several reasons.

    First was that I had the advantage of having seen the High School of the Dead anime before I’d arrived. Which meant I’d seen this move before. I hadn’t been really expecting it, but on the same note, I knew she was able to do it. So I never had to face the same degree of ‘what the fuck’ that another enemy might face.

    Second, she was fast, strong, powerful and fit, but in the end, inertia equals mass times velocity, and I outmassed her twice over.

    What all this meant was when she went for the kick, I immediately charged into her taking the blow to my shield, then launched off with as much strength as I could muster. My greater mass times my own velocity canceled out hers, and sent her sprawling.

    Again, it was a testament to her speed and skill that she was able to recover as quickly as she did, but unlike that first big attack, this time I was the one with the momentum.

    I will freely admit that I body slammed a 18 year old girl, pinning her sword with one knee as I dropped the other onto her chest before slamming my shield down next to her head, just inches away from her throat.

    “You are dead.”

    Her eyes went wide with realization and shock as they locked on mine. For a long moment we stayed in place, holding each other's size, before she smiled and laughed before releasing a suspiciously moan-like sigh.

    “Your win, Brody-sensei,” she said in a husky voice.

    Quickly. Very quickly. And actually somewhat desperately I drew away from her. It was actually with a moment’s hesitation that I offered her a hand up. Normally I wouldn’t have hesitated, but seriously, sparring with this girl when she let it out was one of those things that could throw any man for a whirl.

    Now that she was no longer hanging on, I was able to see exactly how fatigued she was. She was barely able to stand. No wonder she’d gone for an all or nothing.

    She slowly bowed to me. “You are a most skillful opponent, Brody-sensei,” she said holding onto as much poise as possible all things considered.

    “You almost had me a couple of times,” I replied with a smile. “You are a skilled warrior.”

    While it was hard to see, considering how flushed she already was, the praise seemed to have an effect and she went just a hair redder.

    Christ...

    “Thank you, sensei.”

    “You are welcome, Saeko.”

    “I look forward to our next match.”

    Christ....

    I smiled. “As do I. Once we’ve rested we should start planning the match between the clubs.”

    At this, my boys started to smile while she began to look a hair intimidated.

    “As do I, sensei.”

    She turned around and walked back to her side, but as she did, I heard her mutter something under her breath. It was so low I shouldn’t have heard it. Wouldn’t have, if I hadn’t heard it before.

    A chill went up my spine as I flashed back to the anime and one particular scene and one particular quote.

    “I’m wet.”

    Oh, sweet merciful Christ...

    I returned to my side of the Dojo to cheers, and as I removed my helmet, Shizuka rushed over and planted a kiss on my lips.

    Normally I’d have enjoyed it for all it was worth, but right now I’d been dealing with such mixed fucking signals that all I wanted was nice, long, cold shower.

    In liquid nitrogen.
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2016
  25. Sinner_sb

    Sinner_sb I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    Thinking a bit over the fight, my only issue, which is minor, is how easily Saeko addapted to a entirely new helmet that wasn't matched for size. Giving her a few minutes to practice a few movements with the helmet to see if it moves blocking her sight and other issues like that would be ok in my book. It is a minor detail, but I have a lot of trouble finding hats that fit me comfortably and the same goes for helmets. After I turned 17 or so I just couldn't find a cap or hat that fit me comfortably, even adult sized ones. Just a thought.

    Other than that I did like the chapter and am enjoying the story a lot.
     
  26. Threadmarks: Part Seventeen
    Brian Boru

    Brian Boru Versed in the lewd.

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    Again with thanks to Psyckosama and Grey Rook for their contributions to this fic here's chapter 17



    Jesus Christ.

    ¥ 20,000,000

    I was in the hole for 20 million fucking yen.

    That was over two hundred grand for those not in the know of the exchange rate.

    The very feeling made my skin crawl as if I had invisible ants crawling up my legs. I hated debt. I hated the very thought of it and the one little glimmering light to having been cast into this soon to be nightmarish hellworld of the restless dead was the simple fact that ROB had been so kind as to not have my student loans follow me over.

    So you can understand that it was with the utmost reluctance that I’d signed up for every fucking credit card that I could find. All in the last month. Because I didn’t want there to be a society left when that first round of bills hit me.

    Every moment I wasn’t with the boys or with Shizuka I’d spent buying shit and locking it up in a cargo unit I’d picked up outside the city limits. Everything I could use to survive. And the end result I could get before reaching this point, about 20 million yen. Give more than take.

    I had a crate of water filters.

    Tons of rice. Literally. Dried beans. Canned meat. Sugar. Salt. Flour. Enough peanut butter to send an entire herd of elephants into a feeding frenzy. Powdered milk. So much Spam that I was afraid that my boys would turn into the Monty Python Vikings! Powdered eggs. Even a full pallet of instant noodles. Everything I knew would last long-term without refrigeration.

    And that wasn’t counting seeds for planting. Potatoes. Clothing. Weapons. Equipment. More shit than you could shake a very large stick at.

    And this was with me grossly abusing wholesale, thrift stores, and frankly every grey and black market contact I could squeeze out of the Theigns without being too obvious about it.

    And the end result? A storage compartment the size of a two-car garage loaded with goods.

    Thank God for that free first month they were offering.

    I was going to have to steal a fucking truck or three to unload it before the EMP. And you know what, there’s a reason I'd also picked up a couple pairs of bolt cutters. All those other containers were probably going to be a good place to go shopping.

    On the other hand, it was somewhat risky. There might be other people paranoid enough to have stashed emergency cashes in a container park. But, I’d taken some steps to ensure its security. There was one entrance and it was easily fortified. It would make a good base from which to reorganize. As such, I’d planted an idea in the heads of the Theigns over the past couple weeks.

    Simply put, if shit ever goes down, if things ever get bad, that storage park is our meeting point. I told them all my entry code to the gate with absolute trust and the knowledge that I’d render them useless to a woman if they abused it. I was hoping that they were smart enough to consider the fucking Zombie Apocalypse as “Shit Going Down”.

    As I went through the list I’d made one last time I glanced up at the small alarm clock that was one of the only things left in my almost cleared out bedroom.

    It was time.

    I took a deep breath and with a trembling hand, I opened up the bottle of Sake I’d been sitting on for almost a year.

    What I was about to do. It needed to be done. But I’d be damned if I was going to do this completely sober. Before coming here, I never drank, I didn’t like the taste and the horror stories I’d heard of relatives going into dark places because of that addiction had always scared me off of it. After coming here, my more social lifestyle had forced me to at least sample, still didn’t enjoy it but I could tolerate it and I never got wasted.

    But right now?

    Right now I needed the things that dark place had to offer.

    “Sláinte.”

    --------------

    The night air felt cool on my skin, there was also that charged, sensed feeling of a storm coming, a big one too. But the night was clear. I guessed it was just the anticipation.

    I wore a large hoodie with the hood hanging low over my face and I kept my face pointed down. The sake had calmed my nerves but I could still feel a slight buzz of panic in the deepest pit of my stomach. Thank God for the Japanese habits of wearing medical masks while they were sick. I never could have gotten away with covering my face like this in the states.

    As I made my way down the empty street I went over my plan over and over again.

    I was a simple enough plan. I’d gone over it again and again. Walked the routes again and again. I knew what I’d have to do and where to do it. I could do it in my sleep at this point. But the planning was one thing. The execution, on the other hand? That was a totally different story.

    I was taken out of my mental anguish when I saw my objective.

    Game time.

    Swallowing I picked up the pace. I was 20 feet away, 15, 10, I was almost on top of-

    Now!

    It wasn’t hard to find basic martial arts weapons in Japan. In fact, you could pick a rather solid wooden baton up for only a couple hundred yen. A fact that Koichi Shido discovered quite forcefully as I brought mine down on the back of his neck.

    Shido was a thin, fragile-looking man. Physically fit, yes, but possessed of no great strength or durability. As such he collapsed to the pavement like a puppet with its strings cut. Laying on the ground in a boneless heap, not making a single sound.

    My heart hammered in my chest. I’d done it, the bastard was dead, or at least would be soon enough. Kurokawa’s friend was avenged, and the shit would never develop a murderous sex cult of personality or harm another student ever again.

    Shit, man! Okay! I know the plan! He’s down! He’s down! Part two!

    Grabbing him by the legs I quickly pulled him into the alley way from which I emerged. It was one I chose for two very specific reasons: first, no cameras around. Second, there was a manhole cover about 30 feet in.

    Taking a moment to give the body a couple strong kicks to the head, I used the baton to leverage the cover. It was heavy, even for me, but I managed to open it without making too much noise.

    And then, after giving him one last kick for good measure, down Shido went into the abyss, head first.

    At the bottom I heard a light thud and after a couple heartbeats, his glasses followed. Then I made the sign of the cross and moved the cover back into place.

    God be willing, this would be the last anyone ever saw of Koichi Shido.

    Then, I stuffed the baton into a plastic bag. And while I didn’t see any blood, just to comfort myself I picked up a bottle of bleach I’d also left to the side, and then ran it down the trail which I’d dragged him. Then I threw the bottle into another bag and I was off.

    The bleach I disposed of in a dumpster a couple hundred yards away. It was regular, everyday trash. The baton, on the other hand, was going right into an incinerator.

    Panting like I’d run a marathon I leaned against a wall for a few moments, a few breathy chuckles escaping my lips. I’d done it, mission accomplished, I’d done what I’d set out to do. Shido was dead…

    Oh God! What have I done!?

    What I needed to do. He was going to kill so many people through his bumbling arrogance and casual sadism. He was a sociopath. A murderer already. Kill one to save a hundred. It was the lesser evil committed to prevent a greater evil.

    And if I kept telling myself that, maybe I’d actually believe it.

    Not now though, as a wave of gorge twisted my stomach, almost bringing me to my knees. Barfing wasn’t something I did, I had a cast-iron stomach when it came to that…normally…

    Right now, however, it was taking everything I had to not empty the contents of my stomach right then and there as atavistic guilt flooded every part of my psyche.

    What do I do?

    Then I saw a glint of gold flash in front of me, the golden crucifix I’d taken to wearing not long after my breakdown from learning that my grandfather of this world had died in Operation Market Garden had fallen front under my shirt and was slowly turning, glimmering in the light as if it was giving me a sign.

    I grabbed the Crucifix in my right hand with the desperation of a man holding onto a lifeline. A mad hope filled me and after glancing around to get my bearings, I made a beeline for one of my weekly destinations.

    Hopefully the doors wouldn’t be locked. Hopefully I wasn’t about to make a giant mistake. Though, at the moment, the possible consequences were the last thing going through my mind.

    --------------

    “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” I muttered under my breath as I dipped my fingers into the baptismal font of Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church and made the sign of the cross.

    To my surprise, the place had been unlocked and a few non-service lights were on, meaning that someone was here.

    Following the signs, I'd quickly entered the part of the church where the staff member’s offices were located. Looking at the placards, I saw to my relief that the one I needed the most had a light coming from under the door.

    All but power-walking I made my way down the hallway until I stood in front of the door. I then raised my right fist and just barely stopped myself from pounding on the door. Instead, I knocked politely on the door.

    There was silence for a moment, and then I heard a deep but jovial voice say: “Give me a moment and I’ll be with you.”

    “Father, I wish to give confession.”

    “Hm. A little late, but I’m sure you have your reasons. Go into the confessional and I will be with you in a minute.”

    “Alright, Father.”

    Making my way through the hallways I found the confessional and quickly entered.

    About a minute later I heard the door to the priest’s chamber open and close.

    I took a deep breath. “Forgive me Father, for I have sinned...”

    “A rather grand one, I’d assume, for you to be here at this time of night,” he said with some disarming humor. “Tell me what you’ve done, my son?”

    I took a deep breath. “Father... what would you do if you knew something horrible was going to happen. Something so terrible that it defies all logic and that even trying to explain it to someone else would see you viewed as a madman. Something that you couldn’t stop. Something you could only prepare for. And you know... you knew that there was one person whose actions when the time came, were going to be... so... horrific. So... abominable... that he had to be stopped.”

    There was silence, my heart began to pound in my chest, then in a soft tone he said: “What have you done?”

    “I killed him,” I replied. “He was no innocent man. He’s casually destroyed lives. Killed men as surely as if he’d done it with his own hands. And I knew that in the days ahead he would destroy countless more. So I killed him.”

    More silence, then he sighed. “Could you have stopped this man in any other way?”

    “No,” I replied maybe a bit more sharply than I’d intended. “He was untouchable. His connections too deep, his contacts too powerful.”

    More silence. “And what is going to come that would make him so dangerous?”

    “You wouldn’t believe me,” I replied with a sigh.

    “Try me.”

    “With all due respect, Father, I’m not about to make a Cassandra of myself. You’ll know soon enough.”

    “Then I cannot give you absolution,” he said after a moment.

    “Then let’s make a deal, Father.”

    I could almost hear him blink. “It doesn’t work that way, my son.”

    “I’m going to leave a note in this confessional. It has a location and a number for the lock,” I said after a moment. “When the time does come. Go there. Know there is no saving them. That you can only save the people you’re with... and for the love of all that is holy, do not let them bite you.”

    “Bite me?” He asked incredulously. “Who are they?”

    “You’ll see. And yes, bite you.” I sighed. “And if it doesn’t come to pass, I’ll turn myself in willingly.”

    There was complete silence and I knew I’d lost him for now. There was nothing else I could do, but pray he understood. “I have to go, Father. May God and all the Saints be with you in the days ahead.” I jotted down the information I promised him on a sheet of note paper, then I rose and quickly opened the door and fled, tears of frustration in my eyes.

    “Wait! Wait! Come back! I don’t understand!” The priest voice called out. I ignored it, and though my heart wrenched at what I’d done, I knew it could be no other way.

    His voice rang in my ears all the way to my final destination. I stood in front of the rather upscale house for a few long moments, then I banged on the door, time to confess one last time.

    There was silence for a moment then a like flickered on and Shizuka opened the front door, a pink tank top that was struggling to contain her bounty and a pair of short shorts were all that she was wearing. For once I didn’t goggle. Instead, I did my best to control my emotions.

    “Tom?”

    “Guess what day tomorrow is?” I asked, with a smile.

    She blinked. “What?”

    “The one year anniversary of the day we met.”

    She blinked. “Really?”

    “Really.”

    And then smiled, “Well then. You’d best come in so we can... celebrate.”

    If I wasn’t going to find solace in religion, then I’d find it in sin.
     
  27. Sinner_sb

    Sinner_sb I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    It is kind of hard to find authors that show the reaction that their characters, specially SIs, have to their first time killing. Myself included, I either push to the side for a build up later or handwave it.

    My more 'paranoid' side is a bit upset with your decision of sharing the location, knowledge of existence and how to gain access to your stash. Most preppers keep their stash secret from outsiders, your boys did earn your trust, so it is natural to tell them about it, as well a select few of the gang leaders who proven to be worth of knowing that location beyond being a meeting spot.

    Then again as a writer I can understand that the MC is not in a good state of mind and isn't thinking straight and the consequences of his act. The priest could take a lot of people to the storage and the MC's supplies while could cover for a group, if is too big it won't last more than a few days or weeks.
     
  28. Brian Boru

    Brian Boru Versed in the lewd.

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    So did we do good here?

    I'm a born and raised Roman Catholic, and I was in a SEVERE case of mental stress.

    Well it was never my intention to stay there.
     
    preier, Slayer 10321 and Sinner_sb like this.
  29. Sinner_sb

    Sinner_sb I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    As far as I am concerned yes, it was pretty good.


    Same here, I am Brazilian. Admitedely I am not practicant. As I mentioned, he was under a lot of stress and society teaches us that killing is wrong, especially so in Catholic religion.


    It was not about staying in the storage area, it was about the supplies being there when you arrive there. Realistically speaking in the outbreak it will be unlikely that the priest will be able to get a large enough group there, then take the supplies and leave. The priest could even go there before Z Day to see what is there. I am going with worse case scenarios here, but the priest could easily take the supplies away from a confessed murderer before Z Day. Priests are human after all.

    My main issue was that Brian gave away the location of the stash that he is putting the life of his boys, girlfriend and others on to a total stranger. Looking as a prepper that is a huge no-no. It fit the story well because of the mental state of Brian during that time. I pointed out because later he could look back and say 'That was stupid'. Not the confession part, but giving away the stash.

    On a related note, you could have Brian trying to buy books or gather knowledge on how to deal with PSTD, survivor's guilt and how to deal with having to kill a human. Unless you plan on having Brian confessing the kill to Shizuka before Z Day. You did hint that is close in this chapter, so I am guessing that within the month or so, which can be a long time to keep that to himself.
     
  30. Threadmarks: Part Eighteen
    Brian Boru

    Brian Boru Versed in the lewd.

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    AN: With thanks to Psycko for his help with the fight scenes and to Grey Rook for his continuing editing work. Finally here's to all you bastards patient enough to wait for the big day. Here it is!


    It was Shizuka who woke me up the next morning, barely lucid, and my eyes crossed as I, trying to keep them open, tumbled out of the bed I’d been sleeping in.

    I glanced down and noticed I had no drawers, ah… must have had a fun night… I grimaced as my mind began to clear and I remembered why I had come calling on Shizuka last night.

    Digging around for my pants I made my way into the kitchen where I could smell Shizuka cooking breakfast. She was wearing a tight black skirt and a white blouse that really wasn’t leaving much to the imagination. I always wondered where she found those outfits, were they custom made? Another mystery I’d never bothered asking.

    “I’m sorry that your martial culture festival idea was shot down. I thought it was a good idea, but the principal must have had his reasons...”

    “I know,” I replied. And those reasons were currently bunking with the Ninja Turtles, I thought to myself with no shortage of bitterness. Having had a chance to sleep it off, I found my guilt terrifyingly absent.

    I’d had plans. Big plans for the big day. To hold a ‘martial cultural festival’ today. In essence, an excuse to have all the combat martial arts clubs to be on the field and fully equipped when everything turned to shit, along with as many of their families and friends as we could pull together sitting in the stands.

    But no. Shido had to put an end to it, after all, his twisted little band of lackies in the track club wouldn’t have been able to steal the show. And if it didn’t make him look good it didn’t need to exist.

    He’d probably managed to kill hundreds, even before the zombies showed up.

    It’d taken everything I had not to snap his neck right there in Principal Yamada’s office with both Yamada and Shido’s little love slave watching.

    But I’d held my tongue and accepted the doom that had been dealt to so many people. It’d also been the final straw.

    It had been that moment that I’d gone from agonizing over the idea to accepting it as an absolute. He needed to die. And now, he was dead. Because of him I couldn’t save those poor people, but by god, I’d avenged them. And if my time came before I could find absolution, then I was sure that unless everything I’d ever been taught about a merciful God who forgives the frailty of man was a lie, then He would understand why it had to be done.

    “But what can you do, right?” I sighed.

    She frowned slightly. It was more playful than saddened, however. “Tom, you’re awfully pensive this morning.” Her frown twisted into a smirk. “Nervous about meeting the new faculty, I bet.”

    I shuddered. And that, even more than my 365 day countdown, had been the final indicator. Before he killed himself, the gym teacher had mentioned the introduction of newfaculty in the manga.

    It was all I could do not to quake nervously. I was as ready as I’d ever be, but fucking Christ, the fucking world was going to end in like... a couple hours!

    How the fuck does anyone take that without completely losing their shit?!

    “Not that worried, just had a really bad dream.”

    “Oh?

    “Shizuka,” I said with a deep sigh, “This is about to sound utterly insane, but would you be willing to humor your man’s nightmares just this once?”

    “For you?” she said with a tone that bordered on a purr. “Anything.”

    “Well, if you see Zombies in the school today, find me as quickly as possible and don’t get eaten.”

    She blinked. “Are you serious?”

    “It was a very vivid dream.” I said in a flat tone.

    She sighed. “Fine. I’ll keep an eye out for the walking dead...”

    I suppressed a shudder at the name and couldn’t help but wonder. Did The Walking Dead and Highschool of the Dead take place in the same universe? Was that comic the future of my beloved Georgia?

    Home, I hadn’t thought of it in a while. An ocean a continent and an entire universe away from where I was now. There was no going back. Home was here, now. Home was Shizuka. Home was my students. And while I had to accept that I couldn’t save all of them, I’d save as many as I could.

    A smile spread across my face and I hugged Shizuka from behind, nuzzling her cheek before turning her head to give her a soft kiss.

    “Oh, and if things look bad, check the bottom left hand drawer of your desk, under all the paperwork.”

    She blinked. “Huh?”

    -----------

    If there was one thing that my Grandfather had impressed upon me many a time before he passed away, it was: never volunteer for anything. It was one of those happy little lessons he’d mentioned from his time in the service, along with the rather abrupt and somewhat terrifying explanation he’d given my five year old self as to why he was happy to have never ‘earned’ a Purple Heart.

    So, of course, I’d volunteered to take up gate duty on today of all days. Patrolling with the P.E. teachers was normally an alright experience, usually we shot the breeze and exchanged training regimens as we patrolled. A few of the other teachers had those oversized Y-shaped staffs used to apprehend people, for myself I didn’t have one but under my shirt in the small of my back I kept my Francisca ready to use at the first moment, along with several of the many, many knives I’d procured as part of my preparations.

    And fifty feet of paracord. Never leave home without it.

    I was on the far side of the school when I heard the sound of banging metal from the front gate.

    In this moment, the world slowed to a crawl as my body entered autopilot.

    For the last hour, I’d had my phone in hand with a text ready to to send. Two words: Condition Red. Those were two orders I’d drilled heavily into my boys. All my boys. Huscarl and Theign.

    The meaning was simple: immediate, lethal danger. It was a general call to arms.

    Normally, I’d have hoped that they’d heard the warning, but my mind was too set. I didn’t have the time for hopes. I only had time to act, and sending that call had been an automatic reaction, one I’d been ready for since I’d started training them.

    And what came next was something I’d been preparing for since the moment I'd arrived.

    I ran. I ran as quickly as I could, and while I wasn’t as light on my feet as Shido had been before his not-timely-enough demise, I’d long taken to heart the first lesson of Zombieland.

    Cardio.

    As I skidded into view of the main gate, the world slowly drew into slow motion.

    The zombie at the gates.

    The other teachers approaching.

    Mr Teshima slowly reaching out...

    I screamed. “Stop.”

    ‘Stop!”

    “Stop!”

    His head turned. And the zombie bit.

    Ms Hayashi screamed as she fell back.

    For a moment there was chaos. And in that moment my hand went to my axe.

    In the manga, this would be the moment where Teshima rose. The moment Kyoko Hayashi died and became one of them.

    Slowly she reacted as he began to stir.

    “You’re al-”

    “Kyoko!” I roared as I drew my arm back. “Get down!”

    More by reflex than thought the woman wrenched backwards, drawing away before he could grapple her and giving me a perfect target.

    I hurled my axe with all my strength, hours upon hours of practice propelling my arm at just the right arc, letting the axe go at just the right moment. The weapon spun through the air like a whirlwind. A moment later there was a sickening thud as the axe buried itself in Teshima’s chest and he was forced to stagger back, buying me a moment.

    And that moment was all I needed.

    Fist met face as I punched my undead colleague in the face as hard as I could, causing his face exploded in a spray of blood and teeth.

    Now most people would doubt the logic of punching a zombie in the mouth. To those people I have only one counter: Kevlar Gloves, Bitches.

    Again, the zombie was forced back, buying me just enough time to throw Kyoko to the ground and grab the handle of my axe.

    That was the point where my plans went a little pear shaped.

    It appeared that axes seem to find sternums a nice place to get stuck.

    So there I was. Trying to pull my weapon out of a zombie’s torso while the damned thing decided to turn its attention to the closest source of warm human meat. Specifically, me.

    It leapt forward with unnatural strength. And this time it was my turn to be sent on my ass, but rather than simply fall to the ground I leveraged several years of high school wrestling experience.

    With strength born of adrenaline and desperation I was able to control its mouth with one hand, though the feeling of it biting down on the armored motorcycle jacket I was wearing under my blazer was somewhat disturbing.

    With a grunt of effort, I wedged my feet between the zombie and myself, then kicked with all my might.

    With a terrible ripping sound my axe was pulled free of the walking corpse, and then I drew back and swung for all I was worth.

    The monster that had once been a friend’s skull exploded like an overripe melon at the bite of my axe, spraying me, and my fellow teachers with a not-at-all unimpressive font of gore.

    As my mind cleared, I had to ask myself. What the fuck was it with anime and blood pressure measured in PSI? I remember the first time I cut myself cooking… so… much…red…

    “B-brody-san? Wh-what’s going on?” Ms Hayashi asked meekly, with eyes wide and filled with terror. Which I could understand. It wasn’t every day you saw a colleague, who you were, if cooler gossip was any indicator, sweet on get killed, get up, get killed again, try and rip the throat out of another colleague, then get killed for a third time in the most brutal way possible.

    I glanced up to the gate where the one zombie had grown into three. And in the distance I could see more coming.

    “Armageddon. Doomsday. The Apocalypse. The dead are walking the earth to feast on the flesh of the living. Look out there. If those aren’t zombies I’ll eat my hat.” I glanced down to the mortal remains of Teshima. “And it seems that being bitten makes you one as well.”

    “Don’t be ridiculous!” Mr. Yamanaka roared. “You just murdered a colleague, you gaijin bastard!”

    Tetsuo Yamanaka was one of the few members of the staff who could outright be considered one of Shido’s minions. Having realized long ago that if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, and fed by a steady diet of small favors and minor political boons, he’d become the man’s somewhat enthusiastic underling. And now, ignorant of his master’s death, he was blindly trying to enforce the party line.

    I glared at Tetsuo, who, while he’d never personally bothered me, I’d never liked the man in the slightest. Stomping over to the balding shit stain I grabbed him by the front of his shirt and lifted him from the ground. I then started speaking in a calm, clipped tone.

    “Tetsuo Yamanaka, for just once in your pathetic life, open your eyes and look at what’s in front of you!”

    “S-stop!” Hayashi exclaimed. “Both of you! H-he was already dead! He had a-an axe in his chest! And he kept moving! He tried to bite Tom! He tried to bite me! And... and look at the gate!”

    The three were now seven.

    Shit.

    “W-we can’t fight! We have to protect our students!”

    I nodded. “She’s right, we can’t be fighting with each other right now.” I then looked back to Yamanaka… who was still dangling a few inches off the ground, thanks to the wonders of anime strength physics…

    I let go of the man’s shirt and he dropped to the ground with a thud.

    I looked back and saw that the seven were now a good dozen.

    “And we need to move fast.”

    “Fine,” he spat. “But when this insanity comes to an end there will be a reckoning.”

    “I hope that day comes soon.” I replied wistfully. “Now, I need all of you to pay attention to me. Yamanaka, go find the principal, tell him exactly what’s going on. Kyoko, go to the PA and tell the students there’s an emergency. Everyone outside the main building needs to get inside. And Ryushi,” I added in reference to the fourth feature present...

    Or at least who should have been present.

    “Has anyone seen Ryushi?”

    At that moment we all heard the sound of an engine roaring, as a white Nissan SUV began hurtling towards the unopened gate.

    I was barely able to tackle Kyoko out of the way of the speeding vehicle.

    Tetsuo, on the other hand, was not so fortunate. The man only had enough time to raise his arms before the white truck struck him full on and he became one with the hood.

    In the driver seat I could make out the frantic, terrified face of Mr. Ryushi. And a moment later, he rammed the gate going a good clip. While strong, the gate was only really intended to defend from perverts and delinquents, not speeding vehicles, and it virtually exploded on impact, taking the zombies with it.

    We were clear for the moment, and his car should draw off any stragglers, but there would be more. There would always be more.

    “He... he...”

    “Kyoko!” I interrupted, as I pulled the both to our feet. “Take off your shoes.”

    “W-what!?”

    “You’re in high heels.” I exclaimed as I grabbed her arm, maybe a bit too hard. “Take off your fucking shoes and run!”

    Her eyes widened in realization and she kicked off her pretty red pumps. Then, with an aggressive push, I almost threw her forward and she started off in a full run for the school building.

    I took a deep breath and turned back towards the open gate and withdrew my cellphone.

    Steadying myself, I sent another text, this time to just my Huscarls.

    EVERYONE TO THE FRONT GATE. FULL GEAR AND LIVE STEEL. BRING MY GEAR. WE HAVE TO PROTECT THE SCHOOL.

    My phone vibrated as I got a reply. It was from Kohta.

    SENSEI, WHAT IS IT?

    Well, he asked. And I replied:

    FUCKING ZOMBIES.

    His response was almost instantaneous.

    SERIOUSLY?!

    You know, I was honestly shocked that he didn’t just dismiss me. But he asked. So I told.

    SERIOUSLY.

    I sighed and stepped forward to plant my axe into the head of the first undead to show itself before looking back to the school.

    The city of Sparta never had walls of stone. It had walls of men.

    It was my fondest hope that the men of Fujimi High School would be sufficient to keep that proud tradition alive.
     
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