71 – Receive and Turn You
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[Recommended BGM]

A warehouse in the depths of Roppongi, as well as deep in Torabu clan territory. The place where the Torabu stored all of the food ingredients that underpinned their essential food industry businesses. An area filled with shipment containers and pallets lined with cooking equipment like ovens and stoves.

There, bodies littered the concrete floor, intermixed among the shipment containers. But they weren't dead. Blood was everywhere and people were groaning in pain, but among the bodies on the floor, none were corpses.

An amazing feat, considering that people had literally been sent flying through the air, slammed against the ground, and stabbed a half-dozen times. Not to mention all of the gunfire.

But that just showed the level of the control possessed by the two that caused the chaotic situation.

Kai lowered his phone and then lashed out with the knife in his right hand. The silver blade gleamed and batted aside a silent shadow that had been heading for his neck.

A metallic clang echoed, and then a dark knife flew towards the floor, piercing through the concrete.

Sweat poured down his neck, but Kai resisted the urge to look away from his opponent.

It was a man wearing a neat and tidy suit. His hair was slicked back and kept in a short ponytail. A professional appearance that would have made him look suave, if not for the mad grin on the man's face.

"Hoh?" The man... No, the legendary Maji Yuurei reached into his suit and drew another knife, flipping it around in his left hand. "Not bad, not bad! You've got some balls too, taking that while talking to your girl."

Kai chuckled and slipped his phone into his pocket. "She's not my girl... but that's high praise, coming from the legend himself."

Maji grinned and then straightened, holding the knife out in a casual stance.

Kai smiled back, but contrary to that calm expression his mind was racing.

Just how did it end up like this? All that Kai had wanted to do was to practice his knife skills with his former teacher in case he needed to use them in the upcoming days. So, like the other night, he called up the old man and went to one of their warehouses to spar and train while checking up on his men to make sure everyone was alright.

And then those two had shown up out of the blue, knocking down Torabu men left and right.

Kai glanced off to the side.

There, in the back of the warehouse, a tall man with a shaved head and bulging muscles stood with his arms crossed. A heavy green jacket hung over his shoulders, draped like a cape. 

Across from him was an older man wearing a fedora and a black suit. Like Kai and Maji, that man had a knife. But unlike the other men, he didn't just have one knife, he had multiple, a full set strapped along his arms, sides, and legs, free to be drawn at a moment's notice.

Minato spat on the ground, sending out a bloody glob of spit and then drew a pair of knives from his side, one serrated and the other with a straight edge. "Looks like you're the real deal too. Heh. This old man's seen everything now."

Saji rolled his neck and said, "For an 'old man', you're not half bad. At least you haven't gotten rusty like my bro."

"Oi!" Maji glanced over and then pouted. "I'm just playing around!"

"Sure, bro. Whatever you say."

"Tch." Maji spun around and looked back at Kai. "Guess I shouldn't hold back anymore, huh? Can't let my bro think I've been slacking." Saying that, Maji flicked his knife around to his right hand, catching it in a reverse grip.

Kai raised his own knife up and said, "Can we talk about this?"

"Nope!" Maji laughed and then vanished. No, he just moved fast enough that it looked like he vanished.

A faint prickling at the back of Kai's neck. Instincts honed from years of walking the thin line between life and death.

Kai twisted to the side, spinning on his right heel, and then threw himself into the air with an impromptu cartwheel.

In that instant, Maji dashed past where Kai had been standing, his knife cutting through the air.

But Maji wasn't a legend for no reason. Despite missing, Maji simply spun on his heel, pivoting without losing any momentum. Using that, he kicked the ground to add more and flew through the air, knife poised to stab Kai's face.

"Dammit!" Kai grit his teeth and then dropped his knife in his right hand to his left. At the same time, he whipped his right arm out to catch the edge of Maji's blade and block a fatal wound. His sleeve tore, causing a burst of red to fly as blood splattered. But because of that, the attack was diverted, Maji's arm flying past Kai's head instead of at it.

Kai didn't miss his chance. Grabbing Maji's outstretched arm, he used it as leverage to pull himself forward, aiming the knife in his left hand at Maji's heart.

"Ooh, good try."

But it didn't work.

Before Kai could even register what had happened, the surroundings blurred and he was sent flying through the air onto a pallet of rice.

He groaned, but didn't stay there. The moment he realized he had stopped moving, Kai rolled over.

An instant later, a knife pierced where he had just been.

"Pretty good reflexes too. Not bad, not bad!"

Kai forced himself back to his feet and stared at Maji.

Insane. That was the only way to describe the man.

Kai had remembered catching a few glimpses of the man in the past... Hell, he modeled a lot of his fighting style on that man. What he lacked, he made up with knife tech from Minato, but Kai could say that he borrowed a lot from the legendary One-Eyed Demon... though it seemed like he wasn't one-eyed anymore.

Maji flipped his knife around back to a normal grip and said, "Unlike the other kids I've fought, you're holding up well." He grinned and said, "I'm having a blast!" Saying that, Maji charged forward, adopting a fencer's pose and thrusting with his knife.

"Tch." Kai forced his aching body to move and parried with his knife. "Mind telling me why John's sending you guys to fight us? I thought he was planning to act against the Seiryuu?"

Maji drew his knife back and spun around with a reverse heel kick.

Kai stepped back, watching a black blur narrowly miss his nose.

Did the man decide to humor Kai? Or did he get orders?

Either way, Maji straightened and tilted his head to the side. "Weeell. It's pretty simple. Boss said that he wanted to check you guys out."

Kai sighed. "And he couldn't just ask me? I thought we were friends?"

Maji paused, as if listening to someone talk to him, and then he nodded. "Oh how cute! Boss says you guys *are* friends. But he's also pretty pissed you never mentioned that you were the Torabu chairman."

"Former chairman. I resigned the day I met him."

Across the warehouse, knives cutting through the air as he tried to knock Saji down, Minato called out and said, "CURRENT chairman! You can't resign!"

"You did!"

"Because I'm old!" Minato dodged a punch from Saji.

The blow tipped over a steel shipment container, causing frozen tuna to fly out from it.

Minato blinked and then turned towards Kai. "And what kind of monstrous friend did you make, Kai?!"

Kai glanced back at Maji, who hadn't broken a sweat, and then slowly said, "You know. I'm starting to wonder that myself."

Maji chuckled and rubbed the back of his neck, rolling his head. "Don't feel too bad. We're just putting on a show, see? It'd be suspicious if we just hit the Seiryuu, ya know?"

"So what?" Kai straightened and said, "You guys out to send a message then?"

Maji grinned. "I love smart kids. Makes things much simpler... And yeah. Boss says he's planning to sweep everything away, so we're just giving you all a... Oh what should we call it? 'Vaccine?'"

Kai blinked.

Maji froze and then he frowned. "What?! That was funny!" He suddenly glanced to the side, as if someone was talking to him. "I'd like to hear you come up with something- Tch. Fine." Maji shifted his gaze back to Kai and muttered, "Maybe my bro's right. I might be getting too old for this."

Kai glanced back at Minato.

The older ex-Torabu chairman was holding his own against the legendary Tiger. But that was mostly because of their differing fighting styles.

Saji Tora was a beast of a man that was said to have punched out a grizzly bear. And from that last blow knocking over an entire shipping container, it didn't seem to be exaggerated. But even so, his body was still flesh and blood.

Minato Miyamoto on the other hand, true to the Miyamoto name, was an expert blade user. Steel versus flesh... While there would normally be a chance even if unarmed against a weapon user, against Minato who had mastered the blade, albeit through the art of cooking, it was impossible to approach.

And so there was a lull in the combat.

Kai shifted his gaze back to Maji who hadn't moved and then said, "Once more, do we really have to do this? We've got a common enemy, so-"

"Oh yes." Maji nodded. "We absolutely have to do this. But if you're worried about showing up to your kid hurt, relax." Maji grinned and said, "This'll hurt, but we won't leave a mark on ya. Boss's orders."

"...Somehow, that doesn't sound very reassuring. And I'd like to remind your boss that I just politely helped Rin pick out a car for Sakura this morning and even helped her deliver it."

Maji paused and then he chuckled. "Boss 'politely says' that he appreciates it. And in exchange, you get a master class in knife techniques and a first crack against that monster when he comes down from the mountains. Sound fair?"

Kai sighed. "...Seems like I'm not getting out of this beating no matter what I say, am I?"

"Nope." Maji popped the 'p' and then raised his knife. "But don't worry. If it makes you feel better, Boss said that we're going to beat up the old tiger tonight too."

Kai nodded. "That *does* make me feel a bit better."

After all, that old fart was the reason why his girls got into that mess in the first place. If he had let Kai do as he wanted instead of backing down against the Seiryuu like a paper tiger...

Kai cut off that train of thought and rolled his right shoulder, assessing his arm. The bleeding had stopped and it didn't hurt too much. It seemed like the man wasn't lying about not leaving a mark on him.

Maji waited, unlike before.

Kai glanced at him and said, "John. You're listening, right? No, you definitely are." He flipped his knife around in a reverse grip like Maji had earlier and then said, "I'll let this slide. But you owe me a drink and a favor after this."

Maji tilted his head and then nodded. "Boss says that's fair."

"Alright." Kai cracked his neck. "In that case... I'm going to go all out. Always did want to see how I matched up against the legend himself..."

Maji grinned.

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