Black Lagoon/ Master of Martial Hearts
Aya Iseshima came to Roanapur to forget, and most often she succeeded. The good looking brown haired woman sat at a table in the Yellow Flag, drinking a rum and coke that was more coke than rum, her expression oddly serene for her surroundings. The bar was full of drug runners, gunfighters, murderers and gangsters, and the young Japanese woman should have fit right in.
Aya tried not to think about how she got here, and how much her life had changed in just a year. Back in Japan she had lived a happy life, oblivious to the darker things lurking beneath the surface, trusting in the friends she had. She had assumed her parents were like everyone else's, but she had been very very wrong. That happy life had come crashing down when she had been tricked into joining a underground fighting tournament, and eventually discovered her 'friends' had set her up in a complicated revenge scheme against her family.
Aya had been horrified to discover the truth about her family, that her family's wealth had come from slave trading. Her mother had been a tournament fighter who had slaughtered and killed. Her mother and father had destroyed lives and walked away, not knowing or caring that there would be consequences. A madwoman they rendered mute had children she filled with hate, and in the end those children destroyed Aya.
Aya still didn't remember what she did to Miss Honma. All she remembered was opening the door to the Honma home, the expression of sheer terror on the woman's face... and blood. SO much blood. She had returned to her home, cleaned the blood off and originally planned simply to wait for the police to arrest her. But on her bed she had found a letter from her mother, with numbers for Swiss bank accounts and instructions how to flee the country. Her mother wanted her to live...
With blood on her hands and the memory of screams in her ears Aya fled Japan, eventually ending up in the criminal underworld of Roanapur. She started out selling her fighting skills in cage matches, and it had been at those fights that Balalaika had discovered her. After the slaughter she approached Aya, and offered her a role as a guard and enforcer for Miss Balalaika.
Now Aya drank as she waited for her next assignment. She wondered, occasionally, what her classmates might think if they knew what had happened to her? Or any of the people in her old life, who never looked under the surface to see the darkness in the world? But questions like that only tormented her...
Nikolai picked up Aya at the Yellow Flag, the loan collector who was one of many working for Hotel Moscow. He knew some of her story, though not all of it. She had appeared in Roanapur some months ago, running from... something. She got into a few street brawls, proved she was a hell of a fighter and ended up fighting for money in the underground pit fights.
Nikolai looked at the tall girl following him oddly meekly, once again wondering if this was a good idea. He had seen her in her pit fighting days, and she had been merciless. Her foes were lucky to escape the ring alive, much less intact. Could a woman capable of such violence be able to control herself? And there was something in her eyes... something damaged. He was a old soldier, but she worried him a bit. She would snap, he knew, and he didn't want it happening around the innocent. Assuming there were any innocents in this town...
"Where to first, sir?" Aya asked, keeping a wary eye around her. She was dressed in shorts for ease of movement, along with a simple t-shirt. Her books were slightly heavier than runners, and the only nod to her being a fighter was the gloves she had with padding across the knuckles.
"There's a gambling den that's been slow on paying it's share to Hotel Moscow," Nikolai said as they went down the alley, "we need to convince them to pay up."
"Understood," Aya agreed.
The gambling den was off a side street, based in a basement of a run-down building. A big bruiser was guarding the door, and he clearly recognized Nikolai and wasn't happy to see him. He moved in front of them, "You can't come in, sir."
"This is a Hotel Moscow operation," Nikolai answered him flatly as he calmly stared the muscled man down, "let me pass."
"Not any more," the big, scarred man smiled back coldly "we're going independent. Now get lost." He reached out and pushed Nikolai backwards, laughing softly.
"Let him go," Aya swiftly pulled his hand off Nikolai's shoulder, surprising both men with how fast she could move.
"Letting a girl protect you now?" the big man recovered from his surprise enough to laugh. "Go home little girl."
Without a word Aya shifted her grip, holding on to him firmly. With her other hand she grabbed his index finger and pulled back, breaking it with a loud snap. He screamed in pain as she forced him to his knees, unrelenting in her hold on him. She finally released him and he whimpered in pain, cradling his broken hand as tears ran down his face.
After a moment Aya looked over at Nikolai and calmly said, "Let's go."
"Uh right," Nikolai agreed, the two going inside the door to see a smoky, crowded room.
The basement was filled with tables, men and women gambling on cards, games of chance and other things. The guests looked up as the two entered, and the wiser men folded or got up, getting ready to run, knowing trouble when they saw it. The guys in charge cursed on seeing their guard hadn't stopped then, and advanced on the intruders with knives at the ready.
"All right, Hotel Moscow sent me and they are not happy with you holding back money," Nikolai started, hoping these fools would see reason. Not that he thought it was likely, but he had to at least try before doing anything more drastic.
"Screw you and Balalaika," the leader snarled, his face puckered by a hideous scar. "what the hell has she ever done for us? We're working for ourselves now."
"It doesn't work that way," Nikolai countered, but the three men weren't listening, rushing them after hesitating for a moment.
"Stay behind me," Aya ordered, pushing him behind her slightly.
The guys charged, the leader swinging a knife at Aya. She coolly stepped aside then chopped his hand, making him drop the knife. As the other closed she whipped her first attacker around into the other two men. Blood splashed as the knife of one jabbed into the man's side, then the weight hit the other two and sent them staggering backward.
"Dan!" the oldest yelped, releasing the knife he had jabbed into his friend.
The third snarled in anger and lunged at Aya, keeping a firm grip and using the other hand to guard. He was clearly a skilled knife fighter, but Aya faced him with that same eerie reserve she used in fighting the first two guys. He feinted with a attempted slice to her face but she didn't even flinch, unnerving him a bit.
"I'm gonna cut you up, bitch," he huffed, "I'm your worst nightmare."
Aya smiled, but there was no humor in her eyes as she answered, "I've lived through my worst nightmares. You don't come close."
He snarled, then Aya calmly kicked out, sending the knife flying away from them. He tried to go for a backup weapon and she struck, a powerful palm strike to the middle of his face. The ugly man's nose broke with a wet snapping sound and he reeled backward, blood pouring down his face. She kicked out almost casually, a high kick that took him in the side of the head and sent him crashing to the ground, out cold.
Nikolai was impressed. In less than a minute she had dropped three armed men, and had done it without being injured herself. Yes, the three were gutter scum, but still it was quite a feat. In fact, if he was right she was barely breathing hard.
Aya calmly looked at Nikolai while still putting herself between him and the downed men. "Do you want me to kill them?" she asked mildly.
Nikolai didn't feel surprised by the question, though the lack of feeling in her voice was a bit disturbing. "No, not yet," he said. He knelt down by the apparent leader and asked, "Where's the money you owe?"
"Safe," the wounded man said quickly, waving towards it and rattling off the combination.
Nikolai went to the safe, opened it and removed the money owed to Balalaika, leaving the rest as he tucked it into his overcoat. He walked back to the three men, who were starting to recover a bit from their shocking defeat. "You work for Hotel Moscow," he told them, "and you'd better remember that. This is a mild punishment compared to some of the things the boss is capable of. Don't fuck around on us again."
"Just keep that crazy bitch away," the man who had been stabbed muttered as they left.
Nikolai waited until they were away from the building and on their way up the street to ask, "Did you mean that?"
Aya looked at him calmly, "Of course. You and I both know they'll betray Hotel Moscow again. Better to just get it over with."
"Suppose so," Nikolai shrugged. Yeah, the girl was really, really cold blooded. Or messed in the head. Either way he could see why Balalaika might like her...
To be continued...?
Notes: Master of Martial Hearts is, frankly, one of the worst anime I have ever seen. It starts out as a fanservice fighting anime, then in the final episode attempts a series of plot twists to make it dark and edgy. With no proper lead in and ham handed writing. And it ends with a cliffhanger implying the lead girl commits cold blooded murder against a crazy lady.
But despite how awful the anime was, I found myself wondering what could happen after it. I mean, the main character's life is in ruins, shes probably going to be wanted for murder and has been horribly traumatized. What happens next? And this fic is my attempt to address that. No idea if I'll continue it, depends on reader response and if I get inspired.