The second story of the Fiction Anthology (Spring 2010 edition) is the first chapter of Millennium Match.
Chapter 1: Prophecy
So, like, a really long time ago in the forests of Hyogo, there were these two feuding clans. Of ninjas.
Hm? The text doesn’t say anything about ninjas.
Are you sure? I think it would be more interesting if they were ninjas. I mean, that’s instant awesome right there.
TORIYAMA Nara. Age 11. (Very) Unreliable Narrator.
Okay, Nara, they were ninjas.
SEINO Rie. Age 11. Sensible Aficionado of Local History (and Nara’s classmate)
Yesss! Alright, so these two feuding clans were the Raikage and the Yureinin. They feuded for years over a legendary treasure of the gods.
What kind of treasure is worth feuding over?
I’m glad you asked! It’s a mystical… um… thing…
It doesn’t say what shape it has exactly, it’s a treasure! Ahem. Anyway, it’s a mystical item that grants the bearer’s family great fortune and wealth.
Hm, people sure were superstitious back then.
True, but here’s the thing! This treasure is the real deal! Well, they think so anyway.
How is that any different?!
Ah, but there are records. The first bearer of the treasure became Emperor!
Wow, Emperor, really?
No, not really, but that sure would be impressive!
Okay, okay… Well, actually, it’s said that the bearer of the treasure received it from a forest spirit.
Why did the forest spirit give him the treasure?
It’s said that he saved the spirit’s life by shooting down a hawk that had it in its talons.
How could a weak forest spirit like that be of any use?
It may have been a weak spirit, but it was responsible for the thriving life of the forest. Grateful, the forest gave it a charm that would grant him and his family the same prosperity as the forest. Almost overnight, the low-ranking infantryman rose in rank and led his squad to victory. He became a hero and was rewarded by the Emperor. And, while living in the capital, he developed a spectacular chicken dish!
Wait, you can’t mean…
That’s right! General Tso’s Chicken!
THERE’S NO WAY THAT CAN BE RIGHT! BESIDES, WASN’T GENERAL TSO CHINESE?!
Ah, you got me. Well that other stuff is true, anyway. As for what happened to the treasure, well circumstances forced it to change hands multiple times, and its legend spread in the shadows until the aforementioned feud took shape. During the war of the feuding clans, the treasure was struck by lightning and turned into a fog.
Eh? A fog?
The warring clans decided that the other was to blame. “Heaven decided that you should not have the treasure and in its wrath, this is the result!” The battle continued until they were stopped by a single wandering mystic. No one knows how the mystic ended the battle…
Wait, no one knows?
Well, there are a lot of contradictory claims, plus there’s some bias to take into account. Anyway, in that instant, both clans had the utmost respect for the mystic. He then cast a spell and told the two groups that their descendants will enjoy wealth and power far greater than they could ever imagine; that the entire world would become theirs upon the unification of the two families in the year 2000.
Hey hey, did he really say “year 2000?”
I’d love to explain all the prophetic jargon and calculations and whatnot, but actually I don’t. Just trust me, it all works out to “2000 A.D.” The man was like some kind of Japanese Nostradamus or something, and he even made a few additional predictions as “checkpoints” to let them know how close the fated day was to arrive, and his predictions were right on the button.
What were these predictions?
I’m not at liberty to say, but they were persuasive.
Well, anyway, the two clans came to an agreement. They kept track of their bloodlines and agreed not to mix until a single arranged marriage would unite the two families at the right time. Centuries passed and the prophecies came to pass. The two clans however had also changed. The Raikage clan evolved into a powerful and influential political group. In 1998, it was headed by Satoumura Eiji, a man who is the direct-line descendant of the Raikage leader. As for the Yureinin clan, they remained in the shadows and evolved into a group of Kobe Yakuza, led by Misaki Rokusaburo, the descendant of the Yureinin leader.
Well, they used to be Kobe Yakuza, but they got shoved out by competition and now they’re stationed in Akashi. And so our story begins, one fateful summer afternoon in 1998…
Nadeshiko: Ryogo! Of all the days to be in a daze…
MISAKI Nadeshiko. Age 28. Mob Princess.
Nadeshiko: The ring?
Ryogo: Oh. OH! Right, I’ve got it in my pocket, don’t worry, cuz.
MISAKI Ryogo. Age 15. Mob Chef.
Nadeshiko: What’s on your mind?
Ryogo: Oh, nothing.
Nadeshiko: I hope you weren’t like this in the kitchen.
Ryogo: Don’t you worry, that cake is perfection. But really, you sure wanted to go all-out with this western style wedding.
Nadeshiko: Well, I should hope I only get married once.
This is the wedding day of Misaki Nadeshiko and Fujita Isamu. With their union, the prophecy is closer to fulfillment, as both are blood descendants of the two family lines. Isamu, the nephew of the head of the Satoumura group, has no political connections and is not publicly known to be a relative.
Nadeshiko has planned her wedding day since she was a girl, and she long ago decided to have an extravagant western style wedding in a chapel, complete with a reception, a seven-tiered wedding cake, and a Hawaiian honeymoon.
Priest: And do you, Fujita Isamu, take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife?
Isamu: I do.
Priest: Then, if there is any reason that these two should not be wed in holy matrimony, speak now or forever hold your-
A loud booming echoed through the chapel, followed by the footsteps of a dozen armed men.
Thug: YOU MADE A BIG MISTAKE SHOWING YOUR FACE HERE AGAIN, BITCH!
Ryogo: Oh shit, it’s a rival gang!
Nadeshiko: Hm? You know who these rude guys are running with?
Ryogo: Officially they’re the [Akashi Marine Wildlife Preservationist Society]
Thug: That’s right! Don’t think we forgot about last summer, either! We’ve been waiting for the perfect chance to shame you!
Nadeshiko: Oh? So what did the [Misaki Alliance of Confectionary Distributors] do to anger you so much as to so rudely intervene in my wedding?
Thug: You offed our beloved mascot, Dolphin Lundgren!
Nadeshiko: He was feeling grabby, so I gave him a shove!
Thug: Over the pier! And he couldn’t swim in that costume! My poor beloved nephew, to die in such a way… BOYS! LET’S RUN OVER ‘EM!
The members of the Akashi Marine Wildlife Preservationist Society had a variety of weapons: bats, chains, and pocket knives, to be sure; but they also had some makeshift weapons they picked up along the way like brooms, souvenirs, and rolled-up newspapers. They immediately started kicking over pews and trashing whatever stood in front of them.
Isamu: Hiii! A gang war, here, now?!
Nadeshiko: Ryogo, take him to the back! *pulls a pair of nunchaku from her garter* Alright, let’s humble these punks!
Misaki Alliance: YEAH!
It’s very difficult to describe every detail in an unruly rumble such as this, so suffice to say, it was noisy and bloody. Many a limb was broken that day, let me tell you. Several minutes into the fight, Nadeshiko got the upper hand on their leader. Her white wedding dress looked as though a beast had torn through it, but the body underneath was mostly untouched, crouching triumphantly over the rival boss, punching his face repeatedly.
Nadeshiko: Hah! You like that? Next time you’ll think twice before ruining a maiden’s wedding!
Nadeshiko (turning around): Oh no you don’t!
Nadeshiko whirled about and blocked her assailant’s iron rod with the chain of her nunchaku. However, the thought-to-be-conquered boss quickly pulled out a hidden weapon and stabbed the princess in her lower back.
Nadeshiko’s wrists trembled and let go of her weapon. The man in front of her planned on finishing her off right then and there, but the sound of approaching sirens and a glance from his boss made him stop and immediately flee the scene with his brethren.
Did she die?
No, there weren’t any fatalities, but there were a lot of injuries. Nadeshiko was taken to the closest hospital. There, she learned that she just barely escaped death, but the knife attack caused her to become paralyzed from the waist down.
Ryogo: Don’t worry, cuz. Everyone’s keeping an eye on the dolphin gang. We won’t let them anywhere near you. Uh… What’re you doing?
Nadeshiko: Sewing. My wedding dress really took a beating in that fight. Once I’m done I want someone to wash it. By the way, did we get my wedding rescheduled?
Ryogo: About that…
Nadeshiko: That fiancee of mine could be a little more grateful, you know. I ended up like this because I was defending him. You know he didn’t visit me once? Well, I suppose he’s busy.
Ryogo: Yeah, busy avoiding you.
Nadeshiko: Oh, stop. That’s not even funny.
Ryogo: You’re right, it isn’t. That’s because he’s serious. He said he almost died and wants nothing to do with our family now!
Nadeshiko: …He’ll come around.
Ryogo: We’re not planning on it. The Boss is having a meeting tonight on what to do now that the wedding is off.
Nadeshiko: Over my dead body he will! I’ve been planning this wedding all my life, I won’t be counted out this late in the game! Ryogo, get me a wheelchair!
Ryogo: You can’t leave the hospital. The doctor said so.
Nadeshiko: Screw the doctor, my future is on the line!
In the end, Nadeshiko had to stay in her hospital room, but she told Ryogo that he had to properly represent her and her feelings at the meeting.
MISAKI Rokusaburo. Age 47. Mob Boss.
Rokusaburo: I’m surprised you came here personally.
SATOUMURA Eiji. Age 38. Politician.
Eiji: You know I wouldn’t be caught dead talking with your ilk so close to an election, but this is an emergency that must be treated with the greatest of care. I wouldn’t trust an aide to make the proper decision.
Rokusaburo: Yes, we are of the same mind for once. *snaps* The records!
SABURO Shunya. Age 27. Eiji’s right-hand man.
Shunya: Here are the blood-line records, m’lord.
Rokusaburo: Good. Now, as you can see here, Nadeshiko was the only woman on our side that had any strain of pure blood left. She is in no condition to bear a child. The woman must come from your side.
Eiji: If you look at my records, you’ll see there is no one of pure blood left either. At this time I would like for our two families to sever what frail bonds we have maintained over this farce.
Rokusaburo: You dare mock the prophecy!
Shunya: You know as well as any of us how accurate the prophecy has been.
Eiji: Hmph. Maybe so, but I am perfectly willing to cut our losses. My cousin wants nothing more to do with your family, and to continue to deal with you would be to put my own family’s future into jeopardy. I want as much as anyone else for the prophecy to come true, and I did everything in my power up to now to fulfill it, but look! The prophecy has failed!
Shunya: Not so fast.
Shunya: There are still two years for the prophecy to unfold. If you take that into account, I believe there is still a maiden on your side that will suffice.
Rokusaburo: It sounds like you knew of a possibility.
Eiji: But it’s absurd.
Shunya: Because it is your daughter?
Eiji: My 16-year-old daughter. And I will not allow her to ruin the rest of her life by making her a mother at such an age! Especially with one of your thugs!
Thugs: Who’re you calling a thug?!
Rokusaburo: You all!
Thugs: . . .
Rokusaburo: I understand. But if she fulfils the prophecy, she also has the most to gain.
Eiji: That may be so, but what kind of father would I be if I handed her over to a man like… well, like any of these?
Rokusaburo: None of them are of pure blood. Shunya, how many are of the main blood line?
Shunya: There are five bachelors of pure blood.
Eiji: And their ages?
Shunya: 25, 32, 33, and 42.
Eiji: Tell me about the 25-year-old.
Shunya: He’s a prodigy.
Rokusaburo: We have him doing a job in the United States. Very well-to-do. We’re quite proud of him.
Rokusaburo: Shunya, strike while the iron is hot.
Shunya: I’ve already made the call. I’ll put it on speaker.
MISAKI Rei. 25. Handsome and successful.
Rei: Yo, Shunya!
Rokusaburo: Rei, we’re in a meeting, and your name came up.
Rei: Oh? A meeting? Is everyone there listening?
Rei: Great! I’ve got great news to share to everyone! I met a girl in Los Angeles. She’s just the best! We’re getting married in two weeks. Viva Las Vegas!
Everyone: . . . (dead silence)
Rei: Oh, by the way is sis there? How was the wedding? Bet you didn’t think I’d follow so soon after, huh?
Rokusaburo: GRAH! *STOMP*
Shunya: M-my cell phone!
Eiji: Well, I guess that’s it then. Fate has decided-
Thugs (unwielding various weapons): Who’s there?!
Ryogo: Yo, relax, it’s just me. Sorry I’m late, I was visiting cuz in the hospital, and she wouldn’t let me go until I promised something to her. Did I miss something, pops?
Rokusaburo: We were just discussing new wedding arrangements.
Ryogo: Oh, that’s what she wanted me to address! Let’s see, how did it go…? Um… “Oi! Ya better not be givin’ up on me! I’m not gettin’ any younger, ya know! You drag that ungrateful lil’ worm to my room and we’ll get married in the hospital if we have to!”
Rokusaburo: Well you tell her that SHE SHOULDA THOUGHTA DAT BEFORE SCREWIN’ UP AT DAT BRAWL THAT STUPID CUNT!
Ryogo: D-do I have to say it exactly that way?
Eiji: Excuse me, but… this young man…
Rokusaburo: Oh, this runt here’s my 15-year-old son, Ryogo. He’s got no backbone. We keep him working in the kitchen.
Ryogo: Well excuse me if I don’t like to fight.
Eiji: And why wasn’t he included with the rest of the bachelors?
Rokusaburo: Him? Represent us?
Ryogo: Uh, what’re you talking about?
Rokusaburo: Well, I suppose it wouldn’t hurt. Ryogo!
Rokusaburo: You’re getting married.
Ryogo: Great, I’ll tell cuz the good news.
Rokusaburo: No, not her. You, Ryogo, are getting married.
Ryogo: …You’re kidding, right? I’m only 15. Besides, I have my heart set on-
Rokusaburo: WHO DA HELL D’YA THINK YA ARE?! DIS IS FER DA FAMILY YA UNGRATEFUL WHELP!
Ryogo: Y-yes sir!
Rokusaburo: Everything is set on our end, Satoumura. Inform your daughter and arrange a formal meeting.
* * *
Saki: You’re crazy! What kind of father are you?
SATOUMURA Saki. Age 16. Pampered only daughter.
Eiji: For centuries, our family has made necessary sacrifices for the ultimate glory of the bloodline. Are you willing to put 400 years of planning to waste?
Saki: What are you even talking about?
Eiji: It is a pact between two families that has stood since before even the warring states period.
* * *
ORACLE. Age ??(?). No one knows her name or age. No one cares.
Oracle: It is a pact that dates back towards the end of the warring states period. It states that, in the 2000th year of the reign of Anno, the two families will join, its product a child that will bring untold prosperity and fortune to both houses. It has since been concluded that the original interpretation of a “reign of Anno” was incorrect and instead referred to the western system of “Anno Domini.” Thus, you are to produce a child in the year 2000 with a bride from the Satoumura family.
Ryogo: You’re saying I have to go through with this because of an unreliable ancient prophecy? I have my heart set on another girl, you know.
Oracle: So be it. All that matters is that you father the child in that year, while wed. You can divorce her afterwards for all we care, as long as that child is born within that year.
Ryogo: Yeah, but…
Oracle: Either way, you must sacrifice one person’s happiness. I suggest you grow to love this girl and make the most of it.
* * *
Saki: You’re crazy! You know what you’re saying to me, don’t you? And all for some superstition?
Eiji: I am a firm believer of the prophecy. And you have the most to gain out of its fulfillment. Saki, at the very least, attend the meeting next week. I’ve met the boy personally; he’s actually quite nice, and around your age.
Saki: But what if I refuse to along with this?
Eiji: Then I’ll disown you.
Saki: This close to the election?
Eiji: I have men that can make it look good for me. You would be taken into the custody of a relative, cut off from any of the fortune and influence you’re so used to right now. I am certain that you would be begging to go through with the wedding after that.
Saki: I’ll live.
Eiji: Can you? You wouldn’t eat if it weren’t for your servants or money to eat out. You don’t even know how to boil water. Shall I test my theory?
Saki: You wouldn’t dare.
Eiji: Like I said, my family has been willing to make sacrifices for 400 years. I can be cruel to my own daughter if it meant a better future for her.
Saki: . . .
Eiji: . . .
Saki: . . .
Eiji: Very well. Starting tomorrow, you fend for yourself.
And so, the two youths began their paths to fulfill the destinies their families forged for them. Can they escape this ancient burden, or will they learn to embrace it?
Um, Nara? Are you sure this story is appropriate for us? I mean, it got pretty violent in there… And I don’t think…
Oh come on, you’ve read a love story before, haven’t you?
Yeah, but I have a feeling this is on another level entirely.