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Written by Christopher Ikpoh

Illustrations by Josh McMahon

Chapter 1, Page 2

The Gift and The Curse

Radiant, electric light highlighted the steel-laden sky. Highrise buildings stood shoulder-to-shoulder for miles in all directions. New Japan’s dynamic skyline dominated all in sight, and amidst the dense metropolitan center was an animated, robust nightlife. Nothing, though, was livelier than the action taking place on Shibusawa Eiichi Avenue.

An SUV barreled through the social epicenter of New Japan just south of the district’s main financial district. The bright lights of the city reflected off the shining black paint, chrome fixtures and wheels. The dark tinted windows were rolled down and yakuza men in suits matching the cars exterior leaned out of the openings blasting assault rifles into the air. The other vehicles on the road swerved violently into one another as to not be smashed by the getaway car. The pedestrians patronizing the clubs and restaurants in the area screamed and ran for cover, as well. Everyone was frantically moving to preserve their life from the calamity at hand. All except one.

“AKA the chef, choppin’ opps with the A-K! Culinary master, cook the beef like filets!” Hip-hop music blasted through the speeding car’s sound system as an armored shadow descended upon the roof with alarming speed as a raptor towards prey. Bullets ricocheted off the figure’s unique metallic covering while the other ammunition was deflected with a katana. As the mysterious entity landed, a gravity force was emitted by the armor providing stability on the swerving SUV and creating a massive dent in the roof.

“Shinu, Musashi!” a yakuza thug screamed, declaring his intent to murder the super samurai and premiere hero of New Japan. Bullets continued to race up towards Musashi only to be diverted from their target. With each deflection, the thin yet powerful energy shield encompassing his armor rippled; the light reflected in the eyes of the goons shooting at him. “Watashi wa…” The yakuza thug began to repeat his command before the super samurai’s katana crossed through his neck. His head was swept away with fury by the wind racing past the car. It bounced off the pavement violently before rolling to a stop as the lifeless body continued to hang out of the getaway vehicle, spewing blood ubiquitously into the surroundings.

The other yakuza fired frantically at the hero in desperation having seen their fallen companion beheaded. Musashi moved with hyper-speed along the top of the car as water does over a smooth surface. His weapon effortlessly entered and exited flesh and bone as the goons were dismembered and chopped into pieces. Limbs were launched towards the sidewalks, barely missing bystanders as they crouched behind structures for protection.

“Lil’ bitches yappin’, talkin’ shih tzu! Great dane speak, I spit big tunes!” the rap music continued to blare into the night sky.

“Masako, what’s this track called?” Musashi spoke to the incredibly advanced artificial intelligence programmed into his armor’s operating system. Concurrently, the super samurai was using the interface of his visual display to target additional threats inside the moving vehicle. Utilizing his full-color x-ray vision, he saw two men in the back seat equipping weapons. Further in the back, multiple bags overflowing with stolen money were slamming into the seats and windows. Next, two target icons appeared and focused on the weapons.

Masako answered the inquiry. “The song is titled ‘Platinum Talk’. It is by the artist AKA.” A hologram of the world-renown hip-hop artist appeared on the visual display inside Musashi’s helmet along with the song’s lyrics. They scrolled over the display beside the visual of the yakuza men inside the car preparing the guns.

“The prose forged like Musashi’s blade! Rap samurai flow, New Japan made!” AKA’s rhymes dominated the air around the action.

Excited, the hero asked his AI program, “Oh shit. Did he just give me a shoutout?! Download!”

Masako replied, “Download complete. Now, I suggest you focus on the task at hand.” She was referring to the two yakuza thugs leaning out of the windows prepared to fire at the hero.

“Arrrggg!” the men screamed as they fired, wielding what appeared to be hybrid assault rifle-cannons Musashi adopted a defensive position, expecting to embrace the impact of projectile explosives. However, massive energy bursts exited from the barrels instead. The superhero’s entire armor system flickered, and static overtook his audio system. The gravity force keeping him attached to the car also temporarily glitched, causing him to be knocked over.

“What the f…” Musashi blurted expletives as he toppled over. He was forced to act quickly. Thus, using his enhanced quickness and strength, he took out his wakizashi and impaled it into the roof of the car. As the SUV swerved, he held on firmly while his body swayed from side-to-side. “Masako, boosters!” The super samurai commanded his AI program to fire a burst of energy from his feet to propel him back above the car. Nothing but static was returned in his helmet, though. His armor was malfunctioning.

After a pause, the yakuza men fired more energy shots at the super samurai. Without hesitation, he planted his feet on the side of the car while mustering all his strength, and in a rare feat of speed, power and maneuverability, Musashi launched himself into the air avoiding the blasts. Then, amidst floating above the car and holding on to the wakizashi still planted in the roof, Masako came back online.

Musashi Yakuza

“Full power and functionality restored,” she declared in a determined tone. Her personality programming was on full display; Masako was a fierce warrior in her own right, and she was as much a part of the battle as Musashi.

The gravity force was reactivated, enabling Musashi to establish stability on the speeding SUV once more. “What the hell happened?” he inquired excitedly.

As the yakuza men hit the side of their weapons visibly upset the weapons needed to recharge, Masako answered, “The energy blasts from the enemy’s hybrid weapons disrupted my processing core, causing a short in the armor’s system. I was able to remotely initiate the suit’s reserve power core from HQ to reboot your suit.”

“Not again,” Musashi declared as one of the goons fired another energy blast. The super samurai skillfully evaded the projectile, and as it exploded into the side of a building in the distance, the hero launched his wakizashi into the head of the thug who attacked him. Then, he swiped his katana with ferocity across the face of the other. Instantly, he used his gravity force capability to recall his wakizashi from the skull of the dead yakuza goon while their body was ripped from the window by the passing air. Simultaneously, half of the other man’s head was whipped into the distance. However, as that man’s body fell out of the vehicle, the hybrid weapon dropped inside the SUV’s cabin and fired hitting the driver!

Through Musashi’s armor’s x-ray vision, he saw the driver’s head explode all over the windshield. “You’ve gotta be shittin’ me.” The getaway vehicle was suddenly swerving uncontrollably. It eventually smashed into a concrete barrier on the side of the street and was launched high off the ground, spinning through the air towards a large crowd of people running across the street.

“Disengage!” Musashi commanded. As the car was rotating upside down, Masako killed the gravity force. Reading the hero’s intent through decades of interfacing with him since childhood, she immediately accessed the flight navigation controls and powered the energy boosters on the suit, enabling Musashi to begin flying. He shot from underneath the SUV in a flash while Masako calculated the projection of the vehicles destructive path. In milliseconds, she pinpointed the spot the car would cause the most damage.

“Casualties anticipated,” Masako informed Musashi.

With blinding speed, the super samurai landed where the car was going to hit the people. “I can stop it,” he declared as he prepared to catch the SUV and use its momentum to hurl it out of harm’s way. That is when the unexpected occurred: the hybrid cannon – damaged when the vehicle hit the concrete barrier – exploded!

Burning money rained down on the street and sidewalks as bright orange snowflakes while a giant mass of energy, fire and metal rapidly rolled forward. “You can’t stop that,” Masako stated. “The energy burst will disable your suit and crus…”

Before she could finish her sentence – with Musashi the only thing standing between the rampaging ball of destruction and helpless civilians behind him – the transpiring events finished Masako’s statement. The energy disabled his suit leaving the super samurai’s armor non-functioning. Nevertheless, Musashi refused to move. His unwavering duty to protecting the people of New Japan refused to allow him to escape his sacrifice, even if it were in vain. Thus, the super samurai, resigned to his fate, braced for the impact.

“Ahhhh!” A warrior’s cry resonated through the sky. Yet, it was not from his demise. A sudden, massive surge of power emerged from the depths of Musashi’s spirit. Black flames erupted from inside of him, engulfing his entire body. The hero’s eyes burned as intense, yellow flames. The street beneath him cratered from the immense pressure exuded from his body. The people behind him were felled, and as they looked up at the hero, they could not believe what they were witnessing. Musashi’s transformation hypnotized their senses and collective conscious minds. They were in the presence of an unparalleled, ancient power.

“HEBI NO KOGEKI!” The new, supernatural Musashi roared a command through his helmet that shattered windows and caused everyone nearby to cover their ears in agony. His voice was undecipherable because it was that of the entity possessing him, and as the voice echoed, he extended his arms releasing a colossal stream of black energy at the ball of destruction only a few feet away. Instantly, the approaching catastrophe was incinerated, dissipating into nothing, and the people on the ground behind Musashi marveled at the dust particles passing by them.

People all around the incident whispered to one another in utter bewilderment. Their minds could not process what they witnessed. They were in awe at the sight before them, causing them to slowly creep forward.

“Mu… Musashi. You did it. You saved us.” one of the New Japan residents behind him said. “Musashi?”

“No…” the super samurai muttered in a deep, growling tone. “Genbu…”

“Who?” the woman inquired, confused.

Musashi, the super samurai hero of New Japan, was possessed by the dark yokai! “GRRRAAAAAWWWWR!” The demon samurai belted a monstrous scream into the night sky while throwing his arms to the side and looking toward the northern stars. Then, black flames impacted the ground beneath him as he took a readied stance, catapulting Musashi into the sky within the blink of an eye. The concrete below was charred from the explosion of energy, forcing the woman to turn and cover her face.

“Musashi!” Masako screamed as the dark samurai rocketed through the sky toward the heavens. “Musashi! Your chi energy levels are exponentially increased! You are exuding far more power than your suit can handle!” Yet, her words fell on deaf ears. Genbu was in full control, reveling in the freedom he was experiencing after innumerable lifetimes of servitude in the afterlife guarding the northern celestial gates. The dark yokai finally possessed the super samurai’s body, and he did not plan to rescind their integration. “Power level is at 6 billion percent! Your armor’s dynamic energy diffusion capabilities can no longer accommodate this sustained output! Overload… suit destruction in 5, 4, 3… IORI!”

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