Roaming and roaming the Iowa deserts; it seems like forever since he'd seen a town; well, a town that would accept his kind.
He was about 6-foot-tall with long, black hair, violet eyes, a triangular face, and pale skin; wearing a pair of blue levi's with a patch stitched on the right knee, a black shirt with the ThunderCats logo on the front, and a blue, hooded jacket with a kamon of a bloody lotus blossom on the back and a scarf around his face.
It's been three years after the Uprising and the public execution of its' orchestrator, Byron Richards, by the hands of the Order of Nations. Alex walked and walked. He had forgotten how long he'd been walking and because he hadn't eaten in two days, he was losing the energy to walk, having reduced to crawling on the sands of what use to be the city of Dubuque, now reduced to a wasteland. Not all hope was lost. Alex was never one to believe in miracles but when he lifted his head up from the sands, he spotted a settlement about two miles from where he was lying. Standing up on his two feet with what little energy he had left, Alex ran with superhuman speed but started to slow down when he got close to the settlement. Skirmishing, Alex stopped and looked around, hoping no one saw what he just did. He looked up and read the sign, which says: “Skulltown.”
Walking into town, he soon asked one of the townsmen who passed by him, “Excuse me, sir. Do you know where a traveler can get a bite to eat?”
“Piss off, man!” the townsman was very rude, walking away from Alex's presence. Another towns-person appeared and Alex asks the same question. This time, he was kind enough to answer his question. “Sure, there's a restaurant about twelve feet away from here. Just go straight and then turn right.”
Thanking him, Alex bowed and walked away. Inside, it was very lowly, having bandits and mercenaries as patrons but Alex didn't care. All he cared about, right now, was getting something to eat. He sat on a stool right at the bar, waiting for the waiter, or waitress, while listening to the song “Hey Jude” as it was being played on the piano.
“What can I get you, hon'?” standing in front of Alex was an attractive bartender but she was waiting for his orders like a waitress. I guess, the staff was a little short-handed. It was hard to tell because of dressing like both a bartender and a waitress.
Looking at the menu, he gave her his order: “I'll have a cheeseburger, five grilled cheeses, two foot-longs, and some fries.”
Writing it all down on her notepad, she replied with “Coming right up!” and walks into the kitchen. Alex read the waitresses name tag. “Stephanie Sholtz” was her name. It sounded almost familiar to him but it wasn't just the name. On Stephanie's right hand was a scar-like birthmark and having silver hair, even though she appeared in her early twenties. 30-minutes-later, Stephanie brought back the vagabond's order and placed it in front of him on the counter.
“Will that be all?” she inquired before walking away. Alex responded to that question but retained from showing any emotion and kept a stoic expression, “Yes, there is one thing I would like to ask.” picking up a french fry, Alex took a bit and savored the flavor. “Are you, by any chance, related to Nicolas Sholtz?”
The name brought a chill down Stephanie's spine, “W-why yes, that's my brothers' name but how do you know that?”
Alex held up his index finger and started bending it, signaling the bartender to lean in closer. He started whispering everything he knew about Nicholas, “Because, I fought alongside your brother during the Uprising.”
“But that's impossible! My brother was one of Byron Richards' followers! That would make you an Outcast!” Alex showed the bartender his violet eyes, which caused her to blurt out: “You are an Outcast!”
Many patrons turned their attention to the commotion. Hearing that word brought the patrons into a disgruntled state but, as luck would have it, Stephanie waved her right hand, non-threateningly, to them, saying “Sorry about that! I didn't say anything!” causing the patrons to return to what they were doing; drinking, chatting, and playing a game of darts.
“Wait until the diner closes, then tell me everything,” Alex nodded then returned to his meal. 1-hour-later at 10:00PM in the evening, the diner was closed for the night and the only people still occupying it was Alex, the vagabond, and Stephanie, the bartender.
“Okay, now tell me everything you know about my brother,” she sat in front of Alex at a table in the center. She kept giving the vagabond a skeptical look, thinking that he doesn't no anything and might be making up the whole story.
Alex told Stephanie all he knew about Nicholas, “Nicholas Sholtz, age 24; born on October 15th, 2263 and died, like most of Richard's subordinates, on April 30th, 2286. Nicholas joined so that he could make a difference in the world and hoping the end the persecution of all Outcasts by 'Normals.' His powers was geokinesis but was, also, skilled in boxing. He was, also, a pervert, hiding his play...”
“...Okay, okay, I get it! You knew my brother!” Stephanie interrupted, raising her hands up in non-hostility. She lit a cigarette, placed it in her own mouth, and continued with, “So, tell me about you. What's your name?”
Alex, sometimes, didn't like giving introductions but he, also, knew it was impolite to not give his name. Standing up, he took off his scarf and bowed in front of the waitress, saying, “My name is Alex Yashimoto. I am from Mount Tokachi of Hokkaido, Japan where my clan resides. I am 17-years-old and am skilled in the arts of kenjutsu and ninjutsu...”
“Wait, wait! Seventeen! You're 17-years-old!?” Again, Stephanie interrupted Alex, which was starting to aggravate him. “But that would mean you were only fourteen during the Uprising!”
“Indeed, I was. Now, as I was saying; my IQ is about 162 and my abilities are super-speed and super-agility. That's all I have to say,” After Alex finished; Stephanie took her cigarette out of her mouth, putting it out in the ashtray in the center of the table. She gave the vagabond a sly grin and retorted with a calm expression, “You know, for a 17-year-old, you're awfully cute.”
Cheeks flushed red, Alex maintained his stoic expression while scratching his left cheek with his index finger. He looked away at the window but looked back. He soon asked her one question.
“So, how long will those sandstorms outside will last?”
“Not sure but if you need a room; there's one upstairs that's completely vacant.”
“This place is an inn, too?”
“Of course, this place use to be a four-star hotel before half of the fourth floor got blown and before half of Ohio became a part of the Badlands. Now, since I have ownership of this dump, I can make it into anything I want but I choose to keep it the way it is. Thanks to the redecorating and the remodeling, this place looks exactly like those saloons you see in old western movies, except, instead of gunslingers, I get mercenaries and raiders in here.”
“Well, that does sound logical,” Nodding his head with his arms crossed, Alex agreed to Stephanie's statement. “So...the room?”
Stephanie stood up and told Alex to “Follow me” as she walked up the stairs. The vagabond followed her upstairs to the second floor; one of the five floors still standing. While they walk, Stephanie asked Alex one odd question: “Tell me, Alex, why do you carry a katana by your right because, you know, many people nowadays use guns.”
Philosophically, Alex answered that question, “A sword is a weapon of honor and if I use a sword, then it shows that I have honor but if I use a gun, then I am nothing more than a coward for even cowards use something as simple and destructive as a gun.”
12-minutes-later, Stephanie has brought Alex to the vacant room she was talking about. She showed him around: “Here's the bed, here’s the electro-screen, and here's the bathroom.
Handing him the key, Stephanie walks back down stairs, saying, “Sweet dreams” to Alex.
He unfolded his bed and lied under the covers, turning off the lights and stared at the ceiling as he prepared to fall asleep. Even his katana was under his sheets beside him. Falling asleep, dreams of fire and death flowed through the vagabonds' head and a mysterious silhouette with the face of a demon walked through the fire of a large, burning Edo-style house. That man; why can't he remember? Seven years ago, this was the day when the Yashimoto Clan was no more. Alex is all that's left but he doesn't remember who caused this genocide or how it was committed. Waking up, Alex got out of bed, sweating like a pig in a tanning booth. He sat on the ground, cross-legged, and meditated, trying to calm himself of the dreams that have plagued him for years.
Morning came and Alex was ready to leave. He walked downstairs, with his katana on his right side, and saw Stephanie getting ready for business.
“That you for your hospitality,” He said to Stephanie, bowing in front of her in a ninety degree angle while she was standing behind the bar. “How can I repay you for your generosity?”
“Ah, don't sweat it. Anyone who was a friend of my brother is a friend of mine,” she elbowed Alex, playfully, in the arm. For a skinny woman, she was very strong.
The two started hearing a commotion coming from outside the inn. The two walked outside and saw a mob of bandits and bounty hunters in front of them with their weapons unsheathed. Some had guns while some had blunt instruments.
“”Oh, what do you guys want!?” Stephanie, irritatingly, inquired. She knew they didn't come for the “Win a free burger by drinking ten scotch shots” contest.
One of them, a tall guy with a scar on his right face, skimped up and responded, holding a wanted poster with Alex's face printed, “Alex Yashimoto; the little demon. You've been a thorn on the Order of Nations back for a long time. 50,000,00 O.R. Dollars is a lot of money for one man and we're all here to collect it.”
Raising his right eyebrow, Alex was laughing, internally, knowing the idiots in front of him don't even know who they're dealing with. He grinned and shook his head, stating, cynically, “Right, and you' all think it would be that easy to take me down.” he looked at them, grabbing the saya of his katana with his right hand. “Sure, that's what the other bounty hunters I ran into said before I took them down and, like always, they fail to impress me.” He started to say such insulting comments. “Beside, how can a bunch of limp-dick, incompetent, lowly maggots take down any bounty if they don't know the proper way of doing so?”
Stephanie intervened, tugging on Alex's shirt to get his attention. She whispers as drops of sweat secreted from her brows, “Um, Alex, I don't think it's a good idea to aggravate a bunch of guys with weapons.”
That didn't stop Alex. He kept on taunting, “You think you're so tough when, in fact, you' all are nothing but weaklings who hide behind guns instead of fighting, honorably. You're not warriors; you're cowards who get what they want by pushing people around, and that goes for the Order of Nations!” He shouted in the heavens. 'Let the O.N. come and take my head, then I can see my friends, they slaughtered, in the Spirit World!”
The tall bounty hunter pulls out a glock and fires it, directly, at Alex's head but, with lightning speed, the vagabond tilts his head, dodging the bullet and letting it hit the bandit behind him. Shocked at what she saw, Stephanie fell to the floorboards and couldn't believe what she had just seen.
“H-how did you do that?” she mumbled in surprise. Alex turned his attention to the stunned Stephanie.
“Remember how I said I have super-agility?”
“Well, that was a demonstration. Now, onto the real fight.”
Unsheathing his katana, Alex ran towards the tall one and strikes him from the neck, severing his head and watching it roll on the ground. His body kept firing in the air as a sign of final reflexes from the brain. The other bandits and bounty hunters charged, with their weapons, at Alex, thinking they could take him on but that cockiness was their downfall for as they try to struck the swordsman, he, quickly, deflected their attacks and retaliated with swift blows of his blade slicing four or five of them in half. That's when they brought in the big guns. One bandit with a gas mask walked up with a minigun and fired at Alex but Alex dodged each bullet and ran towards the bandits. It looked like a big blur when Alex ran and it appeared he ran right pass the gas masked bandit but when he did, blood spewed out of a vertical-looking wound from the bandit's front, cutting him in two. Each bounty hunter he fought and each bandit he killed, Alex fought them all until they were too scared to fight the vagabond, anymore. They ran out of town with tails between their legs; leaving the town be as hundreds of townsmen ran out from their homes towards the vagabond but, instead of chasing him out of town, they' all cheered in celebration.
Alex turned his attention to Stephanie with his right eyebrow raised as she walked and stood beside him, “Am I missing something here?” The only response she made was a shrug.
“Yes, you're missing something! You're missing a parade for getting rid of those delinquents!” Replied an old man with a large bald spot and suspenders. Shaking Alex's hand, the old man introduced himself, saying, “I'm the mayor of Sunnyville, well, that's what this place use to be called before those hoodlums came and took over the town but, after the stunt you pulled, the town's back in our control.”
“Thank you, but that will not be necessary,” Alex turned and was about to head out of the settlement. “I must get going. I have a long journey ahead of me and, until I can find my purpose in life and the truth about myself, then, maybe. A samurai does not have time for parades; he must be prepared to fight another day.” he turns his head to the settlers. “Same goes to you, townsmen. Those bandits will regroup and return to take back the town.”
Walking out of town, Alex's boots sank into the sand. He didn't feel anything from the settlers' gratitude; he couldn't feel any emotion from his insides. He did what seemed to be honorable and that's all he needs...honor.
Up in the hills, someone was spying on the vagabond with a camera-like, cylinder device that had digital features. It was recording all of Alex's movements and actions and, possibly, the actions from before, sending them to another location.
In a dark room, five silhouettes gathered together and observed the images of the Outcast warrior on a large telescreen, discussing what they were watching.
“He seems to have gotten stronger over the years, hasn't he,” said one silhouette with a slim figure and long hair.
“And quite handsome, too,” added another silhouette with a feminine voice and body.
One of the silhouettes stood up and said to the rest, “His speed and agility will be an excellent addition to our cause.” A large white grin appeared on his face. “As soon as we convince him to join us, then our plan will begin to set in motion.”