RECOMMENDED FOR MATURE AUDIENCES
The Platinum Doll exploded to life and charged with the spear grown in her palm. Gone was the boy in the leather skirt, replaced by the silver haired schoolgirl with face painted for death.
A swipe, a stab, turn and feint; every move lacked subtlety, focus. If ducking between jabs appeared easy on my part then it was for good reason.
My blades crossed, caught her blade and thrust upward, prying an opening for a kick to land center of his chest. The Platinum Doll went crashing into the dirt and rolled.
I couldn’t help but grin. “Is that the best you can do?”
The other gang members stormed from all sides, for all the good it would do. Through my eyes they dragged, like runners losing momentum uphill.
Brass knuckles bounced off my cheek and a chain grasped my wrist. One pull was all it took to throw its owner into her allies. They’d seen what I could do; did they really think they stood a chance?
“Leave them alone!”
Yamaguchi twirled and kicked the steel drum high. Cinders flew across the battlefield as I punted it away, leaving a burning trail across the concrete. In that split second the other doll flew toward me and thrust her spear, which I dodged.
My body turned and latched onto his weapon. We were pressed, one against the other, wrestling for control of the staff. Releasing one hand I found my dagger and swiped, pushing away from the spear and slashing Platinum Doll across the arm.
I crossed my blades and smiled. “First blood goes to me.”
“Then second through last is mine!”
Were it a fight between mortals Yamaguchi would have had the advantage; such aggression would power through any human foe, but now he had stepped onto another level. Laying waste to him was only a matter of time.
A wide slash; my knees contorted to duck the blow. One push and a pointed kick took my foe under the chin. Then I bounced back to land a strike to his chest, and cast him off the ledge and into the murky bay.
I turned to the other three still nursing their wounds. “Say a prayer for your friend,” I said; Yamaguchi was going to need them.
Leaping from the ruin I cast my body into the water and plunged to the bottom. It was a hundred meters before I found the Platinum Doll, kicking against the current in a fashion that would not save a child.
Thrusting toward him with a blade I opened his arm. A torrent of red pouring from the wound set clouds in the water, freezing at a depth the sun could not warm.
He weaved around my next attack, pushing himself away with rolls and swats, but could not gain traction. Could it be that the Platinum Doll did not know how to swim?
A jet of bubbles escaped his lungs as I moved for the kill. He gripped my arms, both of them, and used his dead weight to draw us to the bottom. Kicking with both feet my foe released and shot to the floor of the bay.
I dived after him. Did he think he would escape so easily?
It was only then that I saw his movements for what they were; finding solid ground he summoned his spear and propelled to the surface with all the strength imbued to a doll. His weapon tipped to the sky and plunged into my sternum, running me through as he collected me on his flight path.
Our bodies struck the air, the wind snapped, and with it the swirling ache contorted around the staff. Will kept the knives in my grip, but could not share the strength to lift my arms.
Moments later the momentum turned, and we were in freefall. The Platinum Doll landed, and as he did allowed my body to fall further onto his spear. He pushed, drawing the blood stained pole back through me, and left me to fall into an indelicate pile of limbs.
Every muscle twitched; cells pooled resources, pouring their energy into healing. Already I could feel the fire in my gut rebuilding my insides. My fingers clawed at the concrete to draw myself upright.
“I took a blow just like that second time I was out,” Yamaguchi hummed. “That’s how I know you’ll be fine.”
My laugh tasted of copper. “So you’re not… going to finish me…?”
“The thought has crossed my mind,” he said, “but I want to keep you alive. Don’t ask me why. For spite, perhaps.”
“Then… you’re a fool…”
“If I’m a fool then I’m a fool with a mission. One thousand evil souls, and then the reward I was promised, just like you.”
He turned, flicked the water from her hair and beamed down with silver eyes. Under the moonlight she… he…
“You’re like me,” the Platinum Doll pressed. “A girl’s spirit given the form of a boy. You were given a name and a life that did not belong to you, and you hate it. You’ve hated it for as long as you can remember.”
Each digit wrapped around my knife, and squeezed until the knuckles were dry. One moment was all it would take to shut her up.
“Not… a boy,” I coughed. “Never… a boy!”
Yamaguchi stepped to the ledge overlooking the Tokyo skyline and primed for a spring. It wasn’t until that moment that I scented it; a stench that covered the city, spread by midnight wings.
“One thousand evil souls,” he grimaced. With that the Platinum Doll pushed into the sky, propelling far into the night.
I clutched my torso and crawled over the pool spilling from it. How much time until it would heal? Inhuman power wasn’t enough; not if I was going to claim the prize first.
To be continued…