A Death In The Family - Tatakai (age 16)

 

It had been pretty standard really.  Nothing that should have caused

concern.  Of course they were cautious.  And Tatakai has dutifully hunted

down all the relevant information on their target and the location they

planned to infiltrate.  Just another assassination for the Old Man.  Perhaps

a little more difficult then some, as Cho had required his protege accompany

him, but not impossible.  Nothing was impossible...just highly improbable,

as Cho was fond of saying.

 

But as Tatakai raced after his master and ducked around a corner amid a

barrage of bullets, he realized just how 'improbable' they're surviving this

assignment was.  His heart was pounding fast but his mind was clear and cold

as his thoughts focused on the situation that they now found themselves in.

There was almost nothing in the way of cover where they were currently

pinned down, but what there was the boy gladly gave over to Cho.  His master

was far more important then he.  And if anything happened to the man he

loved because Tatakai had been selfish....he shuddered at the thought.

 

Beside him the silver haired assassin was quickly slamming another clip into

his gun.  Then Cho pulled the boy behind him roughly and opened fire on

their pursuers.  Pulling the stukus pistol from the hostler strapped to his

ankle, he quickly moved to his master's side.  With steady hands the boy

took precise aim on an enemy and fired.  The first man fell, but before he

even hit he ground Tatakai was targeting the next one.

 

If they could just keep the enemy from encroaching on their position they

would be alright!  But there were so many of them coming....

 

The boy's mind resolutely clamped down on that thought.  It served no

purpose.  Instead his thoughts became very methodical. Cho's well

being...Survival...The enemy...Target and fire.  Everything was distilled to

it most basic elements and then ranked in order of importance.  Emotions had

no place in a confrontation; he would have them for when the two of them got

back to the villa.  For now, he focused solely on making sure he would have

that opportunity.

 

In a space of time that seemed to both last forever and breeze by, it was

over.  Tatakai moved quickly, standing protectively between Cho and the

bodies that littered the floor.  Then a pair of strong hands were on his

shoulders.  It was so comforting, that familiar touch.  More then anything

the boy wanted to throw himself in the older man's arms.  But they were far

from safe and the gesture would have to wait.  Their first priority was to

secure the area.

 

When the hands dropped from Tatakai's shoulders the boy began to move

stealthily from body to body.  He checked each one for any sign of life.

Behind him he could behind him he could hear Cho searching the bodies.  He

moved silently over to his master, who was performing his task in perfect

silence.

 

There was no need for the both of them to work on stripping the bodies, and

while the immediate area was secure they -were- in a warehouse with a great

deal of open space and places for an enemy to hide in.  So on silent feet,

gun in hand and ready, Tatakai moved off to search the surrounding locale.

Around them were a number of large machines, equipment and countless crates.

It would have been far to easy for the enemy to be hiding amongst the

obstacles.

 

As he searched, a harsh sound came to be heard through out the warehouse.

Cold green eyes immediately sought the source.  And oddly enough it was Cho.

As his master stood among the bodies, the tall man was laughing.  It was a

horrible, ugly sound with nothing of true mirth in it.  The man had

something in his hand, but he was to far way for the boy to see what it was.

However, as the man hadn't spoken to him, the boy continued with his

self-appointed task, though he stayed close enough that his master did say

something he would be able to hear it.

 

"I knew Shalitu was stupid but this takes the cake," the tall man declared

to no one in particular.

 

Tatakai could only think that his master had found some evidence or other to

indicate that Shalitu, Cho's for most persistent rival in the Family, as the

mastermind behind the fiasco they had survived.  Not that anyone in the

Family cared about evidence.  It simply meant that Cho now knew were to

focus his attention.  The master assassin wasn't one to waist time and

resources.  But now that he knew who was responsible, Tatakai could easy

predict a very messy end for Shalitu, one that had been a long time in

coming.

 

Continuing with the task of securing the area, he watched Cho.  So it was

that he witnessed everything in an agonizingly slow motion.  When the man

went to open his mouth to speak once more, Tatakai could almost see the

bullet as it tore through the air and sank into Cho's skull.  There was a

timeless instant when the only evidence that anything had occurred was the

shocked look on the silver haired man's face.  Then the left side his

master's face exploded in a fantastic spray of blood, skin and bone.

 

"NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!"  Tatakai screamed desperately as his horrified eyes saw

the lifeless body of his beloved master fall to the ground.  Then his heart

shut down.  Emotion took a back seat to cold logic as his green eyes

narrowed, becoming hard and impossibly cold.  His body was thrown into

motion as he dodged the sniper's bullet.

 

His feelings, his actions, it was all like a haze, something that wasn't

connected himself.  Absolutely nothing mattered...except that there was an

enemy.  Like a living shadow he moved, easily picking his way up onto the

catwalk.  During that initial scramble he was dodging more bullets, but once

he was up and in the shadows of the rafters he was in his element.

 

Silent feet carried him to the sniper's position.  Falling on the man, the

slight boy with the flashing green eyes, drew the knife that was strapped to

his thigh.  In a fluid motion, he brought the blade to bare on the sniper's

neck, slicing it cleanly.  It was so precise, so smooth, so efficient,

exactly as he  had been taught...even as his sundered heart screamed for

vengance.

 

But his lust for revenge was quickly over powered by the training that his

master had so carefully given him.  He still had to get out of there.  Cho

had figured out who had set them up.  If Tatakai was to see the man

punished, and his beloved master avenged, he first had to stay alive.  Right

then it didn't matter if there were more hirelings.  The job was blown and

Cho...was dead!  He felt his heart seize up in his chest, but cold logic

pushed the feeling aside.  Now flat green eyes surveyed the area around him,

his sharp ears picked up the sound of any boots pounding the concrete floor.

 

~Time to go~ he thought to himself.

 

Up on the scaffold as he was, the fastest way out was the window and fire

escape to his left.  Light feet swiftly sprinted to the aperture and threw

the window wide as he eeled out onto the metal structure.  Sure as a

squirrel, he shimmied down the fire escape.  The armed men he'd heard before

must have seen the open window, after all the boy was in a hurry and had not

bothered to close it.  Bullets ricocheted off the flight of metal stairs

above him.  The final ladder when unused as the boy launched himself over

the railing of the bottom most landing and set down nimbly in the paper and

refuse that was gathered below.

 

He was quick to make use of all the available cover, mostly in the form of

decrepit construction equipment.  Slithering as he was from shadow to

shadow, the pursuers quickly lost sight of him.  A small part of his mind

whispered that he could pick them off as they came after him...but no.  It

was imperative that he get out. ~Why?~ that same piece of himself thought to

ask, but the question was easily ignored.

 

Once he was out in the street, for all that it was the dead of night, there

would be nothing the armed men could do to follow him, hidden as he was by

the darkness.  Still he remained cautious as he had been taught.  So it took

longer then strictly necessary to reach the car they had come in and left

hidden in an alley.  As soon as the boy slipped in the car he could feel his

world crashing down on him.  Cho was GONE!

 

Again his pain and despair was ruthlessly shoved aside.  He wasn't safe

yet...not even close.  Fighting back tears that he wouldn't let himself shed

(he could hear Cho's voice in his ears: 'tear's are for the Weak. You must

NEVER be Weak Kai.') he started up the car and carefully selected a

wandering route back to the villa that had been their current home.

 

The pain of loss, though still intense, remained buried.  As time proved, no

one had followed him.  Pulling the sleek sports car that had been one of his

Master's favorite toys up below the front steps, Kai got out of the car.

None of the few servants that came with the house were up when he stormed

in, nor did any wake.

 

There was much for him to do and so the boy headed for his room and the

laptop that was there.  He had to find out Shalitu's whereabouts.  He knew

the man wasn't on the continent and that he had left almost a month before.

But that was all.

 

For the next hour he exercised his hacking skills against civilian, police

and Family files alike in his quest. He likely could have been done it all

faster if he had used his master's computer as much of the information would

likely have been stored there already.  However, Cho had strictly forbidden

him access, and even now-Especially NOW-he couldn't bare the thought of

going against that order.

 

In the end though, the boy had what he needed: information.  The man was

currently in the city of Cathin on the Jotan continent.  He was overseeing

the Family's slave trade business, but he was due to return in three days to

report in person.  Three days.

 

Knowing everything there was to know about the man and his itinerary, he

carefully encoded and saved all the pertinent information and shut down the

system.  Three days would be plenty of time to plan his next move.  Yet

trying to plan his coarse of action would be fruitless unless he was rested

and thinking clearly.  The tiny voice inside wailed that he couldn't sleep.

Cho was not there beside him...and never would be.  Though his heart ached,

his body knew what it needed.  Tatakai only thought as far as taking his

boots off before falling into bed.  Amazingly enough it wasn't long before

sleep found him, despite the wailing of the small voice inside him...

*  * *

Cho watched as Xain raised his hand from the exhausted boy's brow.  Kai was

deep in slumber and had been since they had returned from the assignment.

The young man's breathing changed, becoming deeper still and the master

assassin shrewdly guessed that is pet telepath had insured the boy's

senseless state.

 

The assignment had been a trap and Cho was sure that the conniving weasel,

Shilatu, was responsible.  Not that he was surprised.  The Family was

consumed in rivalries.  And as the best assassin and pride of Family, Cho

knew himself to be a big fat target for those who wanted to climb the ranks

quickly.  It just never occurred to him that the moron would attempt his

life.  After all he had shown himself to be far to weak before to be

considered anything of a threat.  The tension had been limited to sneers and

snide comments for the last six months.  So what had changed?

 

Obviously the man had found an ally or two somewhere.  If that was the case

he COULD be aligning people on his side, readying for another Feud.  The

last one, thirteen years ago, decimated the Family's ranks by two-thirds and

Cho had no intention of being caught in the middle of another one.  So, for

the time being, he would 'die'.  Word would spread quickly that he had been

killed on the assignment, but hardly believable.  And -that- was where his

little toy came in.  The boy would serve a duel purpose, he would convince

the Family and all doubters of the facts of his master's demise, and he

would be Cho's spy with in the organization, both thanks to Xian's efforts.

It was a clever plan and he allowed himself a moment to gloat of his own

genius.

 

When he and Kai had returned form the failed assignment, he'd had Xian send

the boy into a deep state of sleep.  Then the telepath had gone to work,

subtly changing his toy's memories.  Yes they had been ambushed.  Yes Cho

had been shot, though only in the thigh (which STILL hurt, much to his

annoyance).  And it was Kai who had taken out the sniper and number of

others.  Then the two of them had used the fire escape to win free and drove

back to the villa.  So really...the alterations that Xian had made where

quite minor...except in their emotional impact on the boy.

 

However that was only the surface of things.  More importantly Cho had

ordered the boy's Conditioning altered and repressed into his subconscious,

until such time as Cho chose to reactivate it.  That would have the child's

action much more natural with out Xian having to monitor him constantly.  A

few basic compulsions had been lift in place, namely the need to stay with

the Family to assume his place as his master's successor, and the need to

follow the 'dead man's' wishes. Add to the that some pleasant and not so

pleasant reoccurring dreams (brought on by the boy's own emotional state) it

should all work to prevent any problems in the foreseeable future.

 

What was more, his tame telepath had left 'hooks' in the boy, a way to

access his mind.  Unfortunately the man's powers were not that strong, even

with the drug that he was hopelessly addicted too (Mizapiene increased psi

ability will making the person highly suggestible and docile).  The only way

he'd be able to influence the boy was if he was in close proximity, no more

then half a kilometer from him.  That restriction annoyed the master

assassin.  But there was nothing for it, the problem simply have to be

worked around.  For that matter he could have the man stay in touch with the

boy or the pretenses of following Cho's orders to watch over Kai, which he

would be of course.

 

He growled low under his breath with frustration and Xian looked to him.

The man was finished with his task.  He no longer had the 'distant' look he

got when using his talents.  The shadowed eyes were careful not to catch

Cho's.  "His thoughts and memories are as you want," were the quiet words in

an delightfully subservient tone.

 

Cho only nodded.  It was time for him to disappear.  There was a lovely

little island to the south-west that waited  for him.  He'd seen to it that

it would have everything he'd need to over see his operations (Kai and his

actions being one of them).

 

As he left the room, the telepath trailing in his wake, he didn't look back

at the lithe form on the bed.  He had no doubt that the boy would be able to

get rid of Shalitu and his co-conspirators.  The only regret he had was in

the loss of that nubile body.  But Kai was sixteen now, a bit older then his

tastes ran.  It was high time he found himself another youngster to train.

That thought made him smile as they departed the villa, the hunt and then

the breaking was always so satisfying.

 

[fin]