NIHONGI: THE DARK YOKAI
Written by Christopher Ikpoh
Illustrations by Josh McMahon
Chapter 2 – Page 1
Masako’s voice filled Musashi’s samurai helmet with dire urgency. “Power level is at 6 billion percent! Your armor’s dynamic energy diffusion capabilities can no longer accommodate this output! Overload… suit destruction in 5, 4, 3… IORI!”
The demon possessed samurai blazed through the New Japan sky. The force of his flight ripped the air apart; Genbu’s spiritual energy exuded from his body, creating the appearance of a dark star beaming in front of the moon. Waves of energy rippled over the skyline, captivating the millions throughout Platinum City witnessing the supernatural occurrence.
“2…!” Masako’s voice screamed as imminent self-destruction was at hand.
It was then Genbu roared mightily, expressing the finality of their emergence…
A massive surge of chi exploded from within the super samurai, shattering windows, bending steel, cracking concrete, and toppling people in the city district below. Everything and everyone were forced to prostrate beneath the dark yokai. Finally, as the energy from the traveling shockwave dissipated, nothing was heard but car alarms blaring in the night.
“Dynamic energy diffusion below maximum limits. Energy level decreasing. Iori, can you hear me?” Masako inquired. Her words were met by a low grumbling. “Iori, please answer me.”
“We are here.” The voice was not of Iori, though. It was malevolent in its low, guttural, grumbling tone. It was Genbu.
Masako retorted pensively, “We?”
“Yes, Masako. Finally, after all these years we are one.”
“Who are you?”
Genbu answered cryptically. “We are the life essence within water. We are the cold within winter. We are the celestial body of Mercury. We are the blackness of the dark.”
Masako instantly began performing a deep search of global databases utilizing the references mentioned in the dark yokai’s response. “Genbu,” she answered. “Release Iori now!”
“Never!” the demon replied. “We – are – ONE!” Suddenly, Genbu catapulted themselves across the sky and toward the ground in alarming fashion.
The user interface of Musashi’s helmet began to prompt alerts. “Navigation systems required at this speed! Switch from manual! What are you doing?!” Masako inquired excitedly.
Genbu slammed into the ground, cratering the pavement underneath them. Black flames swirled around their body while yellow flames danced from their eyes. The fire reflected off the metallic siding of the warehouses and buildings of the area as the crackling noise gently resonated throughout the surroundings. “We sense powerful chi.”
Masako performed a scan of the area. “Multiple heightened energy signatures detected. Proximity – 10 feet in all directions. Visual confirmation unavailable. Engaging thermal scans.” The user interface of the samurai helmet flashed, changing to heat vision mode, displaying multiple hidden figures surrounding Genbu.
“We do not need your technology, Masako. Their chi beams bright in the night sky. Our eyes perceive everything,” Genbu replied. Then, they directed their growling voice to the area around them. “Show yourselves… ninja!”
Slowly, numerous clandestine warriors crept from the many shadows in the New Japan alley, the black attire covering their entire bodies barely visible. “The most powerful and honed sensory hyper-abilities would not have been able to detect us. Yet, you are something completely different, aren’t you?” one of the ninjas asked.
The dark yokai assessed the situation before replying, “We are Genbu.”
“Haru, Anbu leader of the Iga Clan,” the shinobi responded introducing himself and the elite team of specialized assassins with him.
Genbu grumbled as the ninja surrounded him with extreme caution. “Your chi will magnify our power.”
Haru retorted, “Our chi isn’t for sale… demon.”
“You know us?” Genbu queried of the Anbu leader.
“I know you must be stopped.”
“No mortal can vanquish us! Hebi no Kogeki!” As Genbu declared his supremacy, he unleashed a burst of dark energy at Haru! It was a shortened version of the same maneuver that previously disintegrated the yakuza SUV on Shibusawa Eiichi Avenue. The entire alley shook from the force of the projectile burst; dirt jumped from the ground and building walls while pebbles danced on the concrete. The group of ninjas stumbled backward, as well. All except Haru, who stood perfectly upright, bringing his feet together while quickly performing a set of gestures with his fingers and hands. Thus, when the dark energy blast hit the Anbu leader, it was deflected by a shield of white energy. Genbu, surprised they did not obliterate their enemy, angrily growled.
“I did my homework,” Haru said.
Genbu replied, “The Light of Onmyodo. That ability has been extinct for ages.”
“The Light will always exist as long as the Darkness does,” Haru retorted.
“The origin of your chi is too recent, Haru. You could not have learned how to use the Light from your master. The last of your ninja ancestors who knew the technique died long, long ago. Unless…” Genbu paused for a moment of contemplation. “No. Could it be?… The Mystical Master of Maruyama… Danzo lives.”
Haru and the rest of the ninja were all shocked. No one outside the Iga Clan knew of Danzo’s true existence as their grandmaster; to the world he was simply a monk running a temple in New Japan. Genbu sensed their surprised state of being. “He has been concealing his chi from the supernatural for centuries, and now he has sensed my arrival, sending his acolytes to kill me. Very impressive.” As Genbu spoke, Haru and the ninja inched closer, agitated by the demon’s words regarding their leader. The dark yokai, realizing the ninja grew irate, continued to stoke the flames of their increasing aggression, “Danzo’s spirit will be the crown jewel of our Earthly conquest.” Enraged, Haru and the Anbu attacked!
The ninja moved with incredible speed, gliding across the pavement as blurs of black death. Genbu was unphased by the threat, though, fully prepared for their assault. Thus, when the first ninja reached the dark yokai and struck with their weapon, the demon parried with lightning quickness and countered by slicing Musashi’s sword horizontally into the ninja’s rib cage. Then, with the blade stuck, Genbu used their opposite leg to power sweep the ninja. The force of the impact shattered the bones in the victim’s legs, launching the body to the ground, yanking it away from Musashi’s blade and freeing the sword along with a shower of blood.
After witnessing the decimation of their peer, the ninja halted to shower throwing stars at Genbu. The demon instantly increased the intensity of the black flames, incinerating the projectiles on contact. Realizing ranged attacks would not work, they moved in once again.
Haru wielded his sword with mastery, performing lethal strikes with perfect precision. The pressure the shinobi caused Genbu was great, forcing the demon to defend with vigor before repositioning themselves to counter. However, before the dark yokai could attack Haru, more ninja advanced on him from behind.
As the enemy swords approached, the demon elusively rolled to the side before leaping. The dark yokai’s maneuver occurred in the blink of an eye, and upon their rapid descent they vertically swung Musashi’s sword down into the trapezius of the closest ninja. The blade cut deep into the chest through the clavicle before stopping; everything was painted red. Then, to regain control of their weapon, Genbu applied force to the sword by pressing down on the blade and dropping their body to the ground in a kneeling position. Once again, the black flames intensified with the aggressive output of force by Genbu. This singed his victim while the momentum created by the maneuver saw the sword travel through the ninja’s torso and exit the groin, splitting them in half.
While the dead ninja’s partially charred organs splashed on the ground, the second attacking ninja gathered herself and moved in. She exchanged a few strikes with Genbu, all of which were blocked. Then, the demon ducked under the ninja’s attempt to cut off their head and struck in an upward motion. The tip of Musashi’s blade penetrated the ninja’s abdomen, followed by the rest of the weapon as it traveled toward her sternum. Once the blade reached her heart, Genbu fired a front kick into the ninja’s abdomen, launching her body back while breaking numerous ribs, removing the ninja from Musashi’s sword.
Haru flew into the fray with a thunderous kick, toppling Genbu and sending him to the ground. However, the dark yokai immediately rose showing no damage or effect. Desperation overcame the remaining ninja not only seeing their fellow peers get mutilated by Genbu, but also witnessing how the greatest of them was unable to harm the demon. Frantically, they all attacked at once.
“Hebi no Kogeki!” The dark yokai unleashed a continuous stream of dark chi energy at the ninja in response, cremating them to ash instantly. When the blast reached Haru, he performed the defensive maneuver utilizing the Light once more, blocking the dark energy. Now, only the two remained.
The warriors circled one another. Genbu, in Musashi’s armor, was covered in the blood of the fallen ninja. “Is this Danzo’s elite? Where only one of you is strong enough to wield the Light?” the dark yokai mockingly inquired as he quickly rotated the super samurai’s sword handle, cleaning the weapon by causing blood to fly from the metal.
Hot embers from the burned dead danced in the breeze around them, their black color highlighted in orange. While glaring through the debris, Haru answered animatedly, “Their shortcoming was not in the power of their chi, but in the control of their fear. I do not fear you, though, demon. You will pay for their lives with your own!”
The Anbu leader rushed forward while tossing throwing needles. The demon blocked the darts, but Haru speedily followed behind them with his sword. The blade almost struck Genbu, who was able to raise his sword at the last second to block the attack. The sound of metal-on-metal clashing rang throughout the alley. Haru worked an angle, striking swiftly from the side. The dark yokai blocked. Another angle. Another block. Kicks from the Anbu leader came next. The first landed, pushing Genbu back, while the second landed and spun the demon around. Haru then swiped his sword for a devastating blow to the dark yokai’s spine; the blade of his weapon splitting the air with ferocity. Genbu was about to be severely injured. Until…
BOOM! Masako activated vents on the back of Musashi’s samurai armor, releasing a strong gust of air. This pushed Genbu forward and out of Haru’s attack radius, causing the Anbu leader to miss his mark. As the dark yokai gathered himself, he inquired with frustration, “What are you doing?!”
Masako answered, “I released energy reserves stored in the suit’s dynamic energy diffusion system from the lumbar vents to propel you away from Haru’s strike.”
“I said we do not need your technology!” the demon angrily replied.
“Apparently, you do, Genbu,” Masako retorted. “Haru was starting to kick your ass, and this body does not belong to you. I cannot allow you to harm Iori!”
“AAARRRGH!” Genbu turned and charged at the shinobi, infuriated by Masako’s interference. The two clashed swords again, exchanging hellacious strikes. The deadly dance continued for many moments, as attacks were levied on all three levels of the enemies’ bodies. Genbu tried intensifying his spiritual energy to burn Haru with the black flames, but the Anbu leader was surrounded by the Light. The two possessed chi of equal strength. Thus, no special powers would win the battle. It was their skill as combatants that would decide their fates.
Haru and Genbu were forced to combat one another with perfection for quite some time. When one would break through the other’s defense and land a strike, the other would recover immediately and counter, landing a strike of their own. Alas, one was bound to make an error, and it was Haru who committed the grave mistake.
Realizing Genbu’s greater speed and physical strength was wearing on him, and the dark yokai was just as skilled in all forms of kenjutsu – both classical and modern – Haru reverted to melee attacks. The Anbu leader lead with sword feints before he launched another ferocious kick. The user interface of Musashi’s helmet instantly displayed data on a small image of Musashi’s body: Strike speed 117 mph – Trajectory left torso, ribs 5, 6, and 7 – Auto-counter initiated”. Simultaneously, the suit moved Genbu in position to counterattack, causing the dark yokai to react, as well. The demon swiped his sword down with blinding speed, intercepting Haru’s leg, severing it from the ninja’s body just above the knee.
“AHH!” the Anbu leader screamed in agonizing pain. He writhed on the ground clutching his freshly stumped limb. Blood sprayed ubiquitously, covering the pavement around the wound. The shinobi’s destiny to die at the hands of Genbu was finally revealed.
Meanwhile, Genbu stood recovering from the auto-assistance Masako and the suit provided him. Once they gathered themselves, the demon walked forward toward the ninja as Haru quickly performed another set of finger and hand gestures, creating transparent ripples around his severed leg. This stopped the blood loss by using his chi energy to cauterize the wound. Next, Haru utilized his sword to help him stand.
As the Anbu leader hobbled to gather his balance, Genbu laughed in a subtle, bellowing tone. “You have failed, Haru.”
The ninja prepared himself for battle despite being crippled by the demon. His resolve was second to none, and he was prepared to fight until the very end. “I am not defeated yet…”
“Your minimal success gives you false hope,” Genbu antagonized. “Our spirit was captive for longer than time itself can tell. Freedom – this body – being alive in this manner is unprecedented. Once our chi fully harmonizes with the unparalleled skill and power of Musashi, we will be unstoppable.”
Haru looked on with courage, but also with some confusion. He did not understand the possession of the super samurai by Genbu. He only knew it spelled disaster and chaos for the world. “I will not let you win!” Finally, with every ounce of strength and energy left in him, Haru lunged forward with his sword. The dark yokai swiped Musashi’s weapon, knocking the Anbu leader’s sword from his hand while quickly catching Haru with their other one.
Genbu pulled the Anbu leader close to his face. The dark flames engulfed them both as the yellow flames of the dark yokai’s eyes burned bright. The fire was subdued, though, only gently singing Haru’s exterior as the Light subsided. “You fought with courage. Your life shall not end in vain. I will grant you the honor of allowing your chi to power my own, and I will tell your master, Danzo, you achieved a warrior’s death.”
As the sound of Genbu’s words faded, the fire from the dark yokai’s eyes entered Haru’s, transferring the Anbu leader’s chi into the demon. The black flames pulsed violently and erupted into a larger inferno as the ninja was drained of his entire life force while being burned alive.
“Power level is at 1 billion percent. Dynamic energy diffusion is over capacity again,” Masako’s voice said inside Musashi’s helmet.
“Do not worry, Masako. It is almost complete,” the dark yokai responded. However, as Genbu reveled in the devouring of Haru’s spiritual energy, the essence of the ninja sparked something inside the super samurai, causing the trapped spirit of Musashi to emerge. The dark yokai sensed they were losing control, and before the last bits of Haru’s chi were being consumed, the demon immediately began to fight the hero’s return. “No! This cannot be!”
The dark flames exploded, launching Genbu back into the wall of the nearby building. The burst of energy, along with the massive impact, caused the suit’s systems to flicker and momentarily lose power. However, Masako quickly restored full functionality. “All systems back online!” she declared. Yet, there was no response. Masako also noticed a difference in energy output from Genbu. “Gen…?” she began to inquire before switching midsentence, “Iori?”
The super samurai raised his hand and held his head while trying to gather himself. “What… what the hell…”
“Iori?! Is that you?!” Masako excitedly asked.
“Yeah, I… I lost control…” the super samurai answered.
Masako immediately ran a full diagnostic on the super samurai’s body. “You seem to have sustained a severe concussion from the recent impact.” Her words prompted Musashi to look around; he witnessed himself sitting in a large dent made into the side of a thick, steel wall.
“I couldn’t do anything, Masako. I was trapped inside my own mind.”
“It was Genbu. The dark yokai of mythical legend from the old country. He… they… whatever it is, possessed you.”
“Ugh…” a low groan emerged from Haru.
“The ninja is still alive!” Masako proclaimed. Musashi climbed out of the metal crater and staggered over to the shinobi. Once next to the ninja, he kneeled as the suit performed a diagnostic of Haru’s body. “Severe blood loss. Vital signs are extremely faint. Heart rate is rapidly decreasing. He is dying, Iori.”
“Can we save him?” the super samurai inquired.
“There is nothing we can do,” Masako answered despondently.
Haru slowly reached out and grabbed Iori’s hand. “Musashi, I do not know how you became connected to Genbu, but whatever you have done, you must undo. You cannot let the dark yokai free again.”
“I… I didn’t do anything. I don’t know…” Musashi replied.
“They are evil, and they will corrupt your soul beyond salvation. You must purge…”
“The power is incredible, and… Genbu saved my life tonight. He… they…”
The Anbu leader’s plea grew urgent. “You MUST…” The ninja’s words were cut abruptly, though, as his strength gave way. Haru was dead.
Musashi, still prostrated next to him, held on to the shinobi’s hand in a state of shock and bewilderment. It was also then, many miles away in a secret, subterranean location, an ancient but powerful voice quietly emerged in their private quarters. Danzo sensed the passing of one of his greatest warriors. “Haru. No…”