Chapter 13: Give Me a Break!
Yoshiwara, Gintoki and his party gathered at Hinowa’s place at first to inform
the Sun of Yoshiwara about the entire situation. The city was still crowded
with courtesans and customers, if they tried to evacuate the people out from
Yoshiwara the kidnappers would have definitely been alerted, so they decided to
be patient and wait until the city died down, despite the urge from Gintoki and
Tsukuyo to save their little girl as soon as possible.
Tsukuyo had deployed some of her Hyakka to keep an eye on Housen’s old fortress in case if any activity emerged from it. During they stay in Hinowa’s house, the gang sat on the living room, waiting for the time to strike. They all were doing their own preparations, but their minds were all tensed and anxious about the current situation. Shinpachi was simply sitting down straight like a statue due to the tension, Kagura was doing another stretch for warming up, with her giant dog sat watching from her side. Sougo was maintaining his sword, Tsukuyo was re-supplying her kunai while Gintoki was simply standing at the door, his eyes were gazing at the old fortress. Shinpachi who could not hold up the tension any longer decided to break the ice.
“Um, I know we’re already here and stuff, but are you guys sure that Kyouko-chan is here, underground?”
“Actually… I don’t. But I’ll take any chance if I can find her anytime sooner” replied Gintoki turning his gaze from the fortress into the sky.
“Still, I can’t believe that I overlooked that fortress of all places…” said Tsukuyo rubbing her forehead and she blew out a smoke from her kiseru.
“Four-eyes, this location has the highest chance of that little girl being here”, said Sougo deadpannedly, almost finished polishing his blade. “Besides, if you’re worried about her being on the surface all along, aren’t the Yagyuu clansmen in charge of the search out there? And I’m sure that Kondou-san and Hijikata-san will also do something about it”, said Sougo, finally sheathing his sword.
“But are we really going to sit around and waiting, yes? Kyouko-chan might have been already taken somewhere else as we speak”, asked Kagura, still doing her warming up exercise.
“I’ve already sent out the Hyakka through out Yoshiwara fer any suspicious activity and to keep’n eye on the fortress. If there’s anything came up, we’ll know”, replied Tsukuyo.
The gang waited for another few hours, and the street finally started to die down. Customers had started to go away and the courtesans had gone to their own home, until the streets and the shops were completely silent. Noticing the signal of their departure, the gang moved from their position then they went out from Hinowa’s house. Hinowa and Seita could only watch their backs as they prayed that nothing bad would happen.
The gang arrived at the front gate of Hosen’s abandoned fortress. A group of Hyakka were also behind them as support. Gintoki walked into the front gate as he peeked at his group behind before he looked back at the door. “Here we go, guys…” said Gintoki as he pushed the gate open.
Upon opening the gate, Gintoki, followed by the rest stepped inside the fortress grand hall. In front of them, there was a huge stair-case leading into two separate paths at the end. Inside the building was dark and empty after being abandoned ever since Gintoki had freed Yoshiwara from the King of The Night’s chains. The group scattered a bit looking around, until Sadaharu barked when he noticed something under the huge stairs.
“What’s wrong, Sadaharu?” asked Kagura approaching the dog.
Sadaharu let out another bark. Kagura looked at the direction that the dog was barking at, then she quickly realised what the dog means. “Gin-chan! Over there!” shouted Kagura at her boss while she was pointing at the wall under the stairs.
Gintoki and the rest joined together again as they shifted their eyes at Kagura’s direction, then Gintoki noticed something small shining from the dimlight outside. When Gintoki and Tsukuyo approached the shining object, they found out that the object was Kyouko’s new hair-clip from the other day. Which meant if the hair-clip was dropped here, Kyouko was passing through that area before.
“Tsukuyo…” said Gintoki looking at his woman.
“Yeah, she’s definitely here”, said Tsukuyo picking up the hair-clip and she held it tightly against her chest. “C’mon, there’s definitely somethin’ on these walls”, said Tsukuyo scanning the walls around her.
Gintoki and Tsukuyo started rummaging through the walls for another clues until Sougo stepped up. “Excuse me, boss”, said Sougo dismissing the couple to retreat behind him.
“What the hell are you trying to do, sadist?” asked Kagura slightly irritated.
“Just shut up and watch, China. This is how a police officer doing his work”, replied Sougo.
Sougo rummaged through the walls as he knocked each section with his sheathed sword, the group only remained silent at the working officer until Sougo noticed that a section sounded different than the rest when he knocked on them. “Step back a bit, please”, said Sougo as he put on a stance, the group took a few steps backwards.
The Shinsengumi captain performed a quick ‘Iai’ at the wall. As he sheathed his sword back, the wall in front of him collapsed into pieces, revealing another staircase leading to underground.
“Not bad, Souji-kun”, said Gintoki complimenting Sougo.
“It’s Sougo”, was all Sougo said in reply.
“Huh…. Never thought you can do something else beside pissing people off”, said Kagura complimenting Sougo in sarcastic manner.
“You’re just too dumb, China. I became the captain of first division not only for my sword skills, you know”, replied Sougo resulting him received another glare from the said girl.
“Alright, alright, you two. Let’s stay focus on rescuing Kyouko-chan, okay?” said Shinpachi preventing the two rivals from starting another brawl.
Tsukuyo was the one who got inside the secret passage first. She traced down the stairs until she found a space at the end of it, with few lanterns as the light source, enlightening prisons and jails that were set up like a maze. She told one of her troops to send out the order for the rest of the Hyakka outside to search for any other possible access into underground across Yoshiwara, as the rest of them stepped inside into the underground prison. Reaching the end of the stairs, the group split up towards different sections of the prison with Gintoki and Tsukuyo; Shinpachi, Kagura, Sougo and Sadaharu; the rest of the Hyakka to search for Kyouko, as well as releasing the other prisoners that were locked inside as well. Each of the group was equipped with keys they found at the entrance. They looked at each cell if the little girl they were looking for was inside. Gintoki and Tsukuyo were searching at the cells separately, looking for their daughter.
“S’cuse me, did ya see a lil’ girl with a hair colour like him?” asked Tsukuyo to one of the prisoners as she unlocked the cell’s door while pointing at Gintoki, hinting the hair colour.
“Ah… Yes, I did, miss. Unfortunately, some of the bad guys already took her away few moments ago. They said something about shipment when they were carrying her…” replied one of the prisoners. “I’m sorry, I couldn’t stop them. She’s such a good girl…”, continued the prisoner with apologetic eyes.
Tsukuyo and Gintoki could only silent at the reply. Although they were too late, knowing that no activity had risen yet during those past hours giving hints that Kyouko might still in Yoshiwara. The couple decided to remain calm as they kept on realeasing prisoners. “I guess we’re done over here”, said Gintoki looking around to see that the prisoners had gathered around the stairs where the rescue group came from.
Gintoki, Tsukuyo and the gang led up the Hyakka with prisoners behind them towards the exit from the dungeon.
At the entrance of the secret passage, Gintoki looked back at the fortress’ front entrance to make sure that nobody was there. Believing the coast was clear, Gintoki motioned the party behind him to move after him. Gintoki and Tsukuyo, followed by as in order; the Hyakka, Kagura, Shinpachi, Sadaharu, Sougo and the rest of the prisoners started following the couple from behind. When Gintoki, Tsukuyo and the Hyakka stepped at the front of the large stair-case, going to reach the front gate, the couple sensed a danger behind them. As soon as they turned their heads around, their eyes caught a glimpse of an army of men and amantos, standing at the upper level by the end of the huge stairs, equipped with guns and other fire-arms pointed at them.
As soon as the word was heard, Gintoki and Tsukuyo quickly jumped seperately into behind the large pillars near the entrance to take cover from the rains of bullets.
“GET BACK, GET BACK!” shouted Gintoki at the rest of the group behind.
Kagura and the rest of the group before Hyakka had not arrived at the front of the staircase yet, so they managed to retreat back to take shelter at the underground entrance. Unfortunately, the rest of the Hyakka that was right behind Gintoki and Tsukuyo were not fast enough to react. Seeing her troops fell down in the pool of blood, Tsukuyo greeted her teeth as she peeked from her cover.
“Bastard, WHO’S THERE!?” yelled the woman from where the bullets came from.
Gintoki, who was taking at the different pillar next to Tsukuyo, also took a peek at the army. The leader of the army noticed Gintoki’s hair and after recognising the man, the leader smirked as he began to speak.
“That hair…. I know you. You are the one who was with Kaientai and that traitor Mutsu…”
Gintoki who heard the leader tried to focuse his eyes at the leader’s face. The leader had a blonde hair that is combed backwards, revealing his entire face. His face is quite plain, resembling a human, only with a space pirate uniform.
“You… You are…” asked Gintoki with his eye widened a bit.
“Gintoki, ya know him?” asked Tsukuyo across the man, still hiding behind the pillar.
The leader let out a manacing chuckle as his smile got wider. “It’s good to see you again, although I never heard your name before. How is Sakamoto Tatsuma doing?” greeted the leader after the chuckle.
Gintoki suddenly went silent before replying. “Wait. Actually, I don’t know you. Sorry, who are you again?” Gintoki apologized, with a question mark appeared above his head for a split second.
The leader was left dumbstruck at Gintoki’s reply as Tsukuyo’s face turned into a dry disappointment, seeing how Gintoki acted in such situation.
“You bastard, don’t play dumb! We’ve met before!” shouted the leader furiously.
Gintoki furrowed his eyebrows in slight confusion. “But I’ve never seen your face, really. Have we really met before?” asked Gintoki from behind his cover, the man tried to recollect his memories.
“I’m the leader of The Chidori Space Pirate, you idiot! You and Kaientai together destroyed my organisation back then!” yelled the leader with his head fuming mad.
After a moment of silence, Gintoki finally recalled something. “Ah… So it’s you. Sorry, man. I never saw your face, before…. You know, those barfings and other sorts of interruptions…” replied Gintoki picking his nose nonchalantly.
“No shit!” The leader spat out. “After all of those humiliations because of you, kaientai and that damn gorilla manga author had put me through, I can finally have a proper appearance of my face thanks to this fanfic author. This time, I’m going to rebuild my Chidori even greater than before! And I can start from those people you just released!” said the leader standing triumphantly, proud of himself.
“Yeah, glad to see your face finally. But sorry again, dude. I don’t really care about the other prisoners, but since we’re already letting them out and stuff, I’m not really in mood of putting them back there….”, said Gintoki, then he continued. “Besides, we’re only looking for our little girl here, you see. We have promised to take her out somewhere.”
The Chidori Leader caught in thought for a while when hearing the word ‘little girl’, then he smirked again. “Oh… By little girl, perhaps you are talking about this girl?” said The Chidori Leader snapping his finger as a sign of command.
On cue, one of the pirates came out bringing a tied-up little girl in his arm. The little girl looked up at the view at the bottom of the stairs, as soon as she saw Gintoki and Tsukuyo’s face poking out from the huge pillars they used as a cover, the girl let out a cry.
“Kyouko-chan….” Said Tsukuyo worried that her daughter was in the enemy’s hand but at the same time, both Gintoki and Tsukuyo were slightly relieved that their daughter was unharmed. “What’re ya gonna do to her?! Let ‘er go!” yelled Tsukuyo.
“Sorry, but I know several potential customers who are willingly to pay us handsomely for a child like her…” said The Chidori Leader smirking as he touched Kyouko’s chin.
“Papa… Mama….” Cried Kyouko in fear as her tears were flowing down on her face.
Seeing her daughter in that state made Tsukuyo could not hold herself. When she was about to jump out from her cover, ignoring the fact that guns were pointed at her direction, her movement was stopped by Gintoki’s sudden voice.
Tsukuyo was snapped back into her senses as she re-positioning herself behind the pillar. Kyouko’s crying was also stopped for a second upon hearing his father’s voice.
“Just stop crying and wait for us there, okay? We’ll come to you”, said Gintoki with now gentler voice, looking right into Kyouko’s eyes.
“Papa…” said Kyouko looking back at Gintoki in distance, her eyes got teary again.
“We’ll definitely save you. So just be patient for a while, okay?” The man’s face crept up a smile. “It’s a promise”, said Gintoki reassuring.
Tsukuyo let out a small smile at Gintoki’s words. It seemed his words were also manage to calm the little girl down. Kyouko ceased her crying as she put on a strong face despite the fear she was feeling.
“Hmph, good luck on saving her, but look around you! Your current state is no different than cornered rats!” said the Chidori leader as he showed all his army who has taken a firing stance, ready to shoot another round. “Moreover, ever since I found out you people sneaked up in here, I already sent out distress calls to all my men across Edo! Even if you managed to get out of here, you’ll only find youself to be surrounded again in this town!” the Chidori leader added.
Tsukuyo’s eyes widened as she realized that she had not told her subordinates outside the fortress about the incoming attack, but she could not give out orders nor make any outside contact while she and Gintoki were being cornered by an army, not to mention her subordinates who were with her earlier had already died from the ambush. She needed to get outside to warn the rest of her Hyakka, but everytime she attempted to take a step, a storm of bullets would rain upon her and Gintoki, preventing the couple to take another step outside.
“Take care of those intruders, and put the prisoners back to their cells afterwards”, said the leader to one of his officers as he left the place into the inner parts of the fortress, bringing one of his men who was holding Kyouko with them.
“Come on…Think!” said Gintoki in his mind trying to find a way out.
“Take your positions!” said the commander at his firing squad.
The squad started to reload their ammunition, preparing to fire again. From inside the underground entrance; Kagura, Shinpachi, Sougo and Sadaharu could peek over from their hideout and see their leaders’ grim situation.
“Dammit, we have to do something about them, yes!” said Kagura gritting her teeth.
After thinking for a while, Kagura readied her parasol and stepping out. However, Shinpachi quickly grabbed her shoulder, stopping the yato girl on her tracks. “Wait a minute, Kagura-chan! What are you doing?” asked Shinpachi in panic.
“I’m gonna distract the enemy troops, yes. I should be able to give Gin-chan and Tsukki enough time to move out”, said Kagura yanking Shinpachi’s hand off her shoulder.
“No! That’s crazy, Kagura-chan! You’re gona get killed!” said Shinpachi grabbing Kagura’s wrist before the girl could have taken another step.
“Then what should we do, then?” asked Kagura in frustration.
Sougo stepped out from the entrance as he pulled Kagura back into the hideout.
“What are you doing, you damn sadist!?” asked Kagura while cursing Sougo.
“Just shut up and stay focus on getting the others out of here, China”, said Sougo suddenly pulling out a bazooka out of nowhere.
“What the-! Where the hell did you get that?” asked Kagura in surprise, watching Sougo aiming at the troops on the upper level.
“If you want to know so bad, then make me tell you. But first take cover again. This is going to be messy”, said Sougo in deadpanned tone as he pulled the trigger.
“Take aim…” said the commander as his squad pointed their weapons at the pillars where Gintoki and Tsukuyo were hiding.
This time, the pirates had prepared bigger firearms that would be strong enough to blow up Gintoki and Tsukuyo’s entire cover. However, before the commander could have given the firing order, he and some men from the squad noticed an object from under the stairs flying towards them. They soon came to a realization as soon as they recognised the object.
“INCOMING RPG!” shouted the commander, already attempting to escape.
The rest of the firing squad failed to react at the Sougo’s rocket as the bazooka’s round exploded upon the collisions to the ground. The explosion created a smoke and dust screen, making the army unable to see what was in front of them. Upon the chance, Gintoki and Tsukuyo quickly dashed out from their cover and ran through the smoke, attempting to strike first with their weapons at hand.
“Kagura, Shinpachi! Get out there and warn the others about the attack!” said Tsukuyo as she disappeared into the smoke screen.
The Yorozuya nodded. The rest of the group who was at the underground entrance quickly ran towards the front gate while the army was still stunned from the explosion. The Yorozuya and Sougo stood by the gate, making sure that all prisoners were able to escape without leaving a single one behind.
On Gintoki and Tsukuyo’s side…
The enemy’s troops who were still recovering from the explosion were caught in surprise to see a woman jumped out of the smoke screen and started to throw kunais at them, incapacitating them. There was also a man with silver hair who suddenly appeared from the smoke, knocked out a dozen of men into the air with a single blow of his wooden sword.
“Fight back! Fight-!“ said the commander before his head was strucked by Gintoki’s bokuto.
The army was practically outgunned by the combination of Shiroyasha and The Courtesan of Death despite having more numbers, as the rest of them were still stunned from the explosion. After taking down all the enemy’s troops, Gintoki and Tsukuyo quickly ran at the direction where The Chidori Leader headed before.
Meanwhile, on Kagura, Shinpachi, Sougo and Sadaharu’s side…
After taking few steps from the front gate, the escaped group saw the town was already in chaos. The Hyakka were busy fighting unknown assailants all across the town, which were identified as the reinforcement the space pirate mentioned earlier. Some of The Hyakka were also evacuating other Yoshiwara occupants who got dragged into the battle. Suddenly, one of the enemy troops caught the sight of the escaped prisoners and he quickly told his allies.
“They are the escaped prisoners! Get them!”
Yorozuya and Sougo realized that leading the prisoners ran through the front door was a no-go, so they decided to take back prisoners back inside the fortress. When all the prisoners had gone through the gate inside, Sougo stopped his tracks right at the doorstep and he looked at Kagura, Shinpachi and Sadaharu who were already inside the hall.
“China, you and the four-eyes lead all of them towards other exit. This front gate has been compromised”, said Sougo as he closed one of the gates’s door.
“Wait, what are you gonna do then, yes?” asked Kagura looking back at him.
“I’ll take care of them”, said Sougo closing the gate completely before Kagura could have given another reply.
“Wait, you can’t be-!“, replied Kagura but her words were stopped by the sound of the slamming door in front of her.
At the other side of the front gate, Sougo was standing in front of dozens of armed soldiers, men and amantos alike who were equipped with various types of blades. But despite being outnumbered, the first division captain of Shinsengumi remained calm as he took his fighting stance. The enemies flinched at the aura and intimidation that came out of Sougo’s being.
“Sorry, but… I won’t let you get to them, especially the red-head one”, said Sougo with his crimson eyes shining.
The enemies were fidgeting a bit before they started to dash towards Sougo, aiming to kill him. The last thing the enemies saw as they ran towards the sandy-haired man was the flash that came out from Sougo’s blade.
“Oi sadist, open the damn door!” shouted Kagura banging the door, but the door would not budge, but the sound of the battle, steels clashing and cries were still heard from the other side.
“Kagura-chan…” said Shinpachi worriedly as he saw Kagura still leaning against the gate.
Kagura was aware that worrying over her rival would do no good in this situation, so she regained her senses back as she turned towards Shinpachi and the group with her. “There’s gotta be another way out! Through that door, yes!” said Kagura leading the group towards another door at the side of the hall, the rest simply followed after her.
Gintoki and Tsukuyo were running through the hallway, looking for The Chidori Leader who was holding Kyouko captive, as they encountered several guards and soldiers that came out from the rooms. The couple did not waste any time as they pushed their way through, taking out the enemies one by one with their weapons.
“GET OUTTA WAY!” screamed the couple as they made their way through the enemy forces.
Shinpachi, Kagura and Sadaharu finally found another exit at the other side of the fortress after running through one hallway after another. The group met with several Hyakka members who were waiting at the exit.
“Everyone, over here!” shouted one of The Hyakka at the group.
Upon in contact with the Hyakka, Shinpachi and Kagura lead the prisoners out from the fortress, then they turned their attention to the Hyakka.
“How’s the situation in the town? Tsukuyo-san asked us to relay her message to warn you girls about the attack. What about Hinowa-san and Seita-kun?” asked Shinpachi in panic.
“We know already. They’re safe for now. We managed to fight back but the enemy’s numbers are increasing. We don’t know how long we’ll be able hold them off” replied the Hyakka.
“Wait, how did you know we’re here, yes? And how did you know about the attack?” asked Kagura this time.
“Gintoki-san and boss just told us to fetch you guys here, they also warned us about the ambush from the surface so we’re able to anticipate them. Did you see them? They suddenly ran back to the fortress after telling us” asked The Hyakka.
Shinpachi and Kagura looked at each other in confusion. “Wait a minute…. Gin-san and Tsukuyo-san are still in the fortress, and we don’t remember them sending any message outside aside relaying the message to us…” said Shinpachi in thought.
“Oi, you sure it was Gin-chan and Tsukki who told you about all this?” asked Kagura.
“Well, their appearance was kinda different… But somehow we could say that they’re the real deal”, replied The Hyakka, slightly confused as well.
Shinpachi and Kagura looked back at the fortress as they thought to themselves.
“Who are they, then? What in the world is happening?”