Shortcut to Paradise...

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Chapter 15:

Luca found himself walking the streets of Kyoto, once a night he walked a three-hour patrol. The rest of the time her would train. Despite what people said about the wolves of mibu, they were nothing if not diligent. Luca had begun to learn a special fighting style unique to fighting a single opponent.

Training and patrolling he managed to keep his cover, Ezra kept it quiet and Collie was never told who Luca really was. Tonight, there is a heavy fog, several dozen buildings had been set on fire earlier in the day. Whistles sound through the dense foggy night, the darkness from the setting sun only made it more difficult. Imperialist forces had entered the city and been responsible.

Luca with Ezra next to him were part of the fifth squad, they ran at three quarters speed. Their squad was responsible for this part of the city. As they rounded onto another street, the sound of a gunshot to the east drew their attention.

“Quick, this way!” Shouts Benny of who was head of their squad. As the squad rounds a corner Luca is sickened by the carnage he witness’s. “Spread out, don’t let them escape.” At the other end of the street the other half of the squad blocks their escape. Luca see’s three men, all with long hair. One with red hair, rips the sword out of police officer, and takes a defensive stance. All ten members of the squad pounce. Luca survives the first onslaught. He and Ezra face the man with the red hair, he dashes forward.

Luca steps back, a slash avoids his face by inches, Ezra draws his blade. Lashing at the man’s midsection, he is reflected. Luca steps back and holds the handle of his long sword, his arm his held back poised to strike, his right arm is extended running the length & curve of the blade. His fingertips extend, reaching passed the blade as if to guide the sword to its target. Launching off his right foot, he drives the sword as fast as he can. The man backhands Ezra, driving the boy to the floor, at the same time, he parries Luca’s attack. Sparks fly from the two blades, the attack is pushed away Luca’s momentum tied to the attack, causes him to follow his blade to the ground.

Pulling out of his attack, he pivots off his left leg, bring his sword across his body eight times he tries to land a hit, to his luck Ezra attacked after Luca’s eight strikes are countered. Luca looks on, his back slides against the gravel floor. Ezra doesn’t hold back, but this other swordsman is just much better. Ezra and the man break apart, Luca sees blood dripping from Ezra’s legs. Luca stands, he goes into a pouch on his lower back inside are shuriken, and smoke bombs.

Luca draws his short sword and charges he tosses two smoke bombs as Ezra and the fighter are going to clash. In the smoke Luca sees the glimmer of red hair, Luca swipes up and cuts the man on the back, he backs off. Luca grips Ezra by the shoulder and slips away down the alleyway.

“What are you doing?” Ezra says as they stop and seek shelter. Luca looks out the entrance to the alleyway.

“Good we weren’t followed. He was going to kill us, look l thought he would follow us out here we needed to get out of that alleyway.” Luca and Ezra run back to the alleyway. Collie and Benny limp towards them.

“One of them got away, we lost half our men.” Luca looked around there were a dozen police officers, four Shinsengumi swordsman and two rogue samurai dead in the alleyway.

Hours later at Mibu Temple:

“You lost half your men Ben! How are people supposed to take us seriously if you can’t handle three swordsman?” Ezra spoke up in Ben’s defense.

“Master, they had killed a dozen police officers before we had shown, they were not your average rouges they, were skilled and trained.”

“Boy, silence, you expect me to believe that... Every one of our swordsmen are skilled, and seasoned.” Luca couldn’t hold his tongue any longer.

“You can choose to believe what you want but the imperialist have entered the city and the twenty dead bodies in the cart outside were proof of that, most of the attack was one swordsman, red hair and skilled.” The old master rubbed his face with his hands.

“Very well, retire for the evening I want every patrol extended.”

Luca woke to chaos in the morning. In the streets thick columns of rifle men marched through the cities. Luca pulled his eyes away from the street and made his way into the long hall. Each eating a morning fish, they hardly see Luca approaching. “What’s going on outside?”

“100 police officers killed last night, even worse we lost two squads last night.” Says Collie as he begins to eat poached eggs.

Luca wore full battle attire as he went about his business that day. No one made eye contact with him, just like no one lingered on the street, the markets were very deserted today. As Luca steps around a low hanging roof he as a strange feeling, reacting on instinct Luca rips his short sword from his scabbard. In a flash of steal he countered his enemy. The who attacked stand in front of him. He was in clean, clothes more suited for a ninja raid instead of walking around the capital. He had spiked bracers on his arms like Luca, but his armor looked to be all made of the same blue material.

“Who are you?” The man places his long sword back in his scabbard, but still stood ready to attack.

“My lord sent me, I am Mathew one of Lord Stans Twelve best.” Luca gripped his sword. Mathew nodded his head and Luca felt five other bodies close in on his position. “Prince Lucus please don’t make this difficult.”

“The only one making this difficult, is me...” Luca snapped his attention to the familiar voice. Ezra had the shiny flat steel of his bowie knife against Mathew’s throat.

“Well prince it seems like your protector is competent, I didn’t even sense you boy.” Luca feels the five men surrounding him back off.

Ezra stood in front of Luca, once he released Mathew. “Prince, my master will be coming to Kyoto in few days, he would like you to return with me. The battle field is no place for a prince, you belong next to your sister. Think about it, and there is plenty of room for your friend as well. The man tossed down a smoke bomb and his men followed.

Later in the week:

Throughout the week the police whistles didn’t stop blowing, every time they sound off, Luca knows that someone else had been killed in the city. it was when Luca was returning from the shop with collie that their day turned worse. The entered a Smokey part of the city, as they rounded a corner he heard some commotion.

“You better give us some answers.” Under the overhang of a business a small man is being pushed back and forth by two men a foot taller. Near his outside table pushed against the wall, with her face buried into the wall is his daughter. Two men pin her against the wall. Lastly a fifth man with a smirk and two swords questions.

“Ellis you were mentioned as the man on the know in this neighborhood.” People refuse to stop, and look, let alone help. One of the henchmen grip Ellis by his short grey hair.

“Please Master Kito my daughter and I don’t know anything. I am just a merchant, I sell goods I would never sell to the rebels.” The old man is back handed by Kito.

“I told you once not to lie to me, we had your shop watched and twice we caught the man matching the description. Looks like I am going to have to jog your memory. Big Andy please show him how we treat aiders to the rebellion.” One of the men pushing the merchant moves away from the old man.

“Wait where are your going.” As Andy walk over to the man’s daughter his two men force her down onto the wooden table. with his daughters’ clothes pushed aside the old man falls to his knees and begs. Just and Big Andy pulled himself out Luca stepped forward.

The old man looked on in horror as a fourteen-inch scabbed and pus, greenish penis starred him in the fast, he was forced to his knees struggling to move, before him his daughter’s virtue stood at risk. “Old man, one stab of big Andy and she will be rip with infection, within days she will rot from the inside.”

“Enough.” A sound of sword cutting air is heard... standing with the girl in his arms. The fighter with the red hair from the night before. The scream from big Andy is heard, Luca from his spot spies a large appendage of 8 inches on the floor leaking blood. Luca retreats to get a vantage spot from the roof.

By the time he spotted the fighters three of them were already dead. The red-haired man moved ducked the swordsman’s, long sword before cutting his heal, in one simple motion the man drew his short sword and fended both men’s attacks off, soon his attackers lay on the floor, covered in dust as blood leaked out of their bodies, then he takes off down an alleyway.

Luca follows unnoticed from the roof top, in his hands he holds several throwing stars. As he jumps to a roof top his enemy stops inside of a courtyard. A well and several empty wooden barrels hold take up space inside the courtyard. Luca stands hidden on the roof top.

“Who’s there?” Luca for a moment believes he is captures then out of no where he sees two figures in dark cloaks emerge.

“Lord Stanly it has been a while.” Luca for the first time lays eyes on his brother in law. Stan stood a few inches taller than Luca, but he looked battle hardened.

“Ken, have you had any run ins with a swordsmen wearing green hair, he is lanky very skilled with a blade.” Ken pushed the bangs of his red hair out of his eyes.

“What’s in it for me if I tell you?” Stan pushed his cloak to the side, revealing two swords, the find flaps the cape, as Stan sinisterly tickles the pommel of his short sword.

“You wont have to die here tonight, I am not a farmer playing samurai like the rest of these Shinsengumi mutts, unless you have forgotten I have beat you before...” Ken straighten up and removed his hand from his sword hilt and replies”

“To answer your question, I fought two young swordsman a few nights ago... they kept me occupied the entire fight, very skilled, it’s rare that half a squad escapes me.” Stan stepped forward. signaled by his men.

“Looks like you will get another chance, looks like one of them is watching us...” Luca felt a dagger graze his throat. He didn’t see the two men sneak up on him. Standing before his brother in law, surrounded by men doesn’t humble Luca.

“Brother, it is good to meet you, you look like your sister stand up.” Luca does as he is bid, his anger swells inside of him. Luca grips his sword, and draws, as if from no where stan lifts on his scabbard, the hilt of his sword slams into the solar plex of Luca, knocking the wind out of him.

“I’ll kill you...” Stan looks amused.

“You are naïve boy, you don’t have any clue do you? I am your saving grace you should be grateful.” Looking at Luca’s emotionless face he understands.

“You have no clue do you? That uncle of yours sided with the shogun, the imperialists with the emperor, but no matter what both sides will not accept you. Being foreign born and raised as the crown prince the last decade didn’t do you any favors?” Luca refused to believe him.

“My uncle sent me to train in a village with a dozen men, it was your men who attacked me.” Stan nodded his hands.

“Yes, they had orders to grab you when you slipped outside the compound walls, to which you killed them when they tried to subdue them. Then you make it worse by assaulting my men when they were impaired. Believe me boy, your uncle is responsible for this entire war that is unfolding, and if you weren’t related to my wife than your head would be in a bag on the way to Edo.” Luca was lifted to his feet by Mathew.

“I am going to be dealing with some issues here on the mainland, I promised your sister I would send you back to her. Mathew will be waiting at the shrines on the northwest side of Kyoto. You may bring companions with you set your affairs in order.” Luca spoke up.

“I am not going anywhere, I swore an oath to the Shinsengumi...” Stan had enough, he spoke in the same voice he used when dressing down Mel.

“Stop acting like a child, every day you remain here you risk exposure, if you are found out these thieves you call brothers in arms will sell you to the highest bidder, where is the honor in being dragged by your neck from one village to another. Tomorrow near the shrines at the northwest of the city by dawn. If you don’t show up than I am going to have Ken kill these new companions of yours.”

That night Luca filled Collie and Ezra in on the details. “So, lets go with you, there is nothing waiting for us here, but death and you say this guy is going to kill Ezra and me if you don’t go.” Luca shook his head no.

“It could be a trap.” Says Luca. Ezra shrugged his shoulders.

“They could have killed us plenty of times, look these squads were good at first but they are little more than canon folder you saw how that rogue swordsman cut through us the other night. Worst comes to worst we kidnap your sister and nephew.” Luca nodded his head in agreement to Ezra’s logic.

“Okay let’s get packed we will meet Stans henchmen in the morning. We will be taking a ship to this island, Ezra take this note to the market and give this coin to the man at the bean counter.” Luca handed a large sack of coins. This would be an insurance, Luca would rescue Mel if it was the last thing he ever did.

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