the omen

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

the story of zencho, one of the antagonists in ghost's tale.





Chapter 1.

Mean streets


Hong Kong, the city that never sleeps. The streets are always alight with parties and markets. The smog in the air helps to amplify the light. Down below the multi story complexes, a rebel group known as “X?n shìjiè zhìxù” gather for a speech from their leader, sung jin. Fireworks explode across the sky painting the blurry night beautiful colors. The sky is so bright that the light masquerades a figure on a nearby roof. A red beam of light intermixes with the other colors. Another firework explodes, and sung jin falls, a bullet between his eyes. Crowds of people run. More fireworks. More people fall. The fireworks stop, leaving a mass of corpses.


As zencho runs across the rooftops, he looks back. A kill well executed. A job well done. Another great payday. His phone beeps, alerting him that the funds had been transferred into his account. $40,000. The price of a life. The payment for taking a life. Of course, it wasn’t about the money. It was about that single moment before the shot, that calm before the storm. That is why zencho became a mercenary, though the money was a nice bonus.


 His mercenary career had started when he was a boy. He would intimidate the other children at his school, letting them know he was on top of the food chain. He was a shark in a school of trout. That may have been why he was singled out to join “the bladesmen”, the elite assassins. As he trained with them, he learned more about the craft of taking lives. Numerous ways to enter rooms and houses. Where to strike a person for lethal and non-lethal takedowns. The most efficient weapons for different jobs. He killed his first target when he was 17, a writer, who had written about the wrong group of people. An easy job, and zencho earned his first payment. Over the years, zencho has honed his skills, until he was a well-respected member of the bladesmen. Then he met senshi, an orphan boy, while he was on a job. He saw something in the boy. A warrior’s spirit. He trained the boy, but soon noticed that the boy’s anger got the best of him in some situations. His anger would overtake him in training sims, often blinding him to hidden threats. Zencho began to lose hope for the boy, until the boy began to get progressively better at other simulations. Zencho then realized he could hone senshi’s hatred into a fine weapon, given some special training. 


And now, here he was, heading for his escape route. He’s about to make a left turn into a nearby door, when a man with a gun steps in front of him. He freezes and the man opens his mouth to say something. Suddenly, another firework explodes behind the man, drawing his attention. Zencho sees his opportunity and grabs the man’s arm, pulling it taut. The man attempts to pull back. Zencho readies his fist. He punches up on the part of the arm closest to the man. A loud crack, and the man falls. The gun falls from his hands. Tears stream down his face. Genuine fear flashes in the man’s eyes as he attempts to crawl away. Zencho unholsters his pistol, walking towards the man. He places the barrel to the man’s skull, closes his eyes, and squeezes the trigger. The man’s screams stop abruptly. He falls flat to the ground. Zencho checks the man’s pockets, finding his wallet. He takes the wallet and leaves. As he heads towards his car, a jet-black muscle car, his comms begin beeping, alerting him that somebody is attempting to contact him. He answers, and the leader of the bladesmen, shibito, congratulates him on another job well done. Zencho opens the door of the car, and seats himself in the driver’s seat. He starts the car, and heads off, leaving his deeds behind him, to be found in the morning.


Chapter 2. 

Home sweet home


As zencho arrived at the bladesmen’s meeting place, he felt that something was amiss. The only other person on the street was a figure wearing a hood. Zencho acted as if he had not seen the figure, as his assailant moved closer. When the figure was within striking range, zencho raised his hand, blocking an attack from the figure. Several more attempted strikes followed, but all were blocked. The figure shook its head and drew a knife. The first attack with the knife was a slash, which zencho easily avoided. The next was more difficult to dodge, a thrust. Zencho grabbed his assailant’s hand, squeezing just hard enough to cause the figure to drop the dagger. Zencho then used his remaining strength to flip his assailant over his head. As the assassin hit the ground, the hood came undone and revealed the face of zencho’s foe…


“Senshi?” zencho asks, more annoyed than surprised. His student stands up, wiping a spot of blood off of his mouth. “You win this time, zencho. Next time, I'll catch you off guard.” an angry senshi retorts. Zencho smiles. “Not likely, my apprentice. One of the first things you learn as an assassin, always watch your back.” he says, walking inside. As he reaches the inner sanctum, he is greeted by the head priest, ki wak. From what zencho could see, he had just finished his third telling of the story of the spirit of akuma, the bladesmen’s deity, the god of darkness and death. “Ah, hello, zencho, child of death. Akuma’s blessing be with you.” he says before returning to his group of eager children. Zencho had been in their shoes long ago, when he had first been taken in. he could still sometimes recall stories of akuma, and how he created the bladesmen to cull the world of those unworthy of life. From the day he arrived, he had been told that akuma had found favor in him, and had chosen him. It was akuma who had chosen his name. Zencho, the japanese word for omen. The title of “child of death” was given to those that were ready to hunt their targets. Senshi had also been told the same, and had been given his own name. Senshi, japanese for “warrior”. Senshi hasn’t received his title yet, though he hoped to change that soon, by beating zencho in combat. As zencho walked to the briefing center, he handed the wallet he had taken off the body of the man he had killed off to a bladesmen member. The wallet was then sent directly to the secretive branch of the blades, codenamed “loose ends” due to their only job being to tie off any loose ends from a job. Zencho recalls a time when a family had been informed that the father figure had been hit by a car. The funeral was a closed-casket funeral. And as the man’s body entered the earth, so too did the 9mm bullet lodged in his forehead. Zencho wonders what they will do this time, but shakes it off as he enters the debreifing center, a circular room with a holographic projection in the middle of the room. Technology from an american company, though no one knows the name. We’ve all taken to calling it “Shi no h?jin” in our conversations about them. Shibito stands in the center of the room, overlapped by a holographic projection of an ancient samurai. He smiles when he sees zencho. “Ah, zencho. I take it your mission went well.” he says, in a calm voice. “Yes sir, it went without alarm. There was one guard that i had to dispatch…” i begin to tell him, but he stops me. “It’s already taken care of, my friend. Smile a little, go have a drink. You’ve earned it” he says, snapping his fingers. A woman in a traditional kimono walks over carrying a tray of various drinks. Zencho shakes his head. “I don’t drink. Dulls the senses.” zencho says to shibito. He stops smiling, walking over to zencho. He gets within breathing distance of zencho, leans over, and whispers in his ear. “Then you have passed the test, my friend.” he says, his smile returning. “What are you talking about? What test?” zencho asks. Shibito’s smile widens. “We’ve been looking for a candidate for a mission. A mission for shi no h?jin” shibito says, extending his hand. Zencho thinks about his response for a second. A mission from the most advanced private company ever known. How could he say no? Zencho extends his own hand to meet shibito’s. “Of course, sir. I would be honored to complete this mission” zencho says. And off they went, to prepare zencho for his mission. 


Chapter 3: 

What goes around…


As zencho stepped off the plane, he felt foriegn in this new land. America, the land of freedom. He had landed at a place called the greyvale private airstrip. He was greeted at the gate by two military men, dressed in full black uniforms. Zencho expected trouble, but these men welcomed him warmly, and directed him to where he was supposed to go, a towering building in the distance. A giant “g” adorns the building, along with the word corp underneath it. He wonders what the “g” stands for. A black sedan waits to take zencho to the building. Zencho notes the driver, a bald man with a scarred cut over his right eye. Despite his brutish appearance. The driver smiles as zencho gets in. “ill be taking you to gcorp headquarters.” the man says, then his smile fades. “Do you speak english?” zencho does not respond, merely looking out the window. Zencho takes out the parchment he carried with him, written in japanese. Of course he could understand english, but it was more comfortable to speak his native tongue. As the car pulled into the parking lot, zencho looks down at the parchment, reading aloud in japanese


Dear dr. stratus


I am pleased to inform you that the carrier of this message is the soldier you have been searching for. He will serve you well. When he arrives, please treat him as a part of your team. Please make sure you tell him what this mission entails, and who his targets are. Thank you. I look forward to his arrival to your care. 



Shibito and the bladesmen


P.s. this one is special.


Zencho had been confused at the first part of the message. He was no soldier. He was an assassin, trained in the ways of stealth. Then he read the word “targets” and he realized why he was special. He was being sent to kill some people who were fighting this “gcorp”. Zencho thanked the driver in formal japanese fashion, and headed into the building. The interior of the headquarters was decorated in a modern manner, leaving little to be seen. The receptionist notes zencho and smiles when she sees him. “Good afternoon, sir. Mr. stratus is expecting you. Please, go right up.” she says, pointing to the elevators. He nods and thanks her, before going over to the elevator, pressing the button, and stepping inside. The music inside was calming. Zencho presses the button with the words “executive office” printed on it in both english and japanese. Immediately, the doors close, and the elevator lifts up. The view from the side of the elevator provides zencho with an overview of this land. Walls border the districts of gcorp-controlled greyvale. The headquarters district, from what zencho could tell, was a sprawling metropolis. Neighboring windgarr, however, was the slums. Each district appeared to serve a purpose. As zencho finished his thought, the elevator stopped. An electronic ringing resounds through the cramped chamber. The doors slide open, and zencho steps out into a lavishly decorated hallway. Zencho looked around and soon spotted a door marked “office of the director”. The door was guarded by two burly, mean-mugged men, each carrying a desert eagle .50 calibur. Zencho notes the men and their weapons. His fellow bladesmen had always told him, “always be certain your enemy has all his cards in play.”, an old proverb for the bladesmen, meaning to always check for concealed weapons. These men had none, so zencho went into the office. The man sitting at the desk was slender, dressed in a striking white suit. He stands when zencho comes in. zencho gives the man the parchment, which he takes and glances over. After he finishes, he lays the parchment down on his desk and turns to zencho. “So you are the one i sent for? I must say, you do seem like a peak specimen. Tell me, have you ever heard of the freelancer protocol.” the white suit man asks. Indeed, zencho had heard about a team called the freelancers, backed by this company, that had gone rogue. “Yes” zencho says. The man smiles, then continues. “We have a report that some of them are planning an attack on a military compound, where they believe i am holed up. I want you to go there, earn their trust, and kill them. Start with the sniper. He’ll be the easiest. There is already some distrust between him and his team. Apparently, they didn’t believe that one of their agents was working for me. In exchange for this mission, I can offer you more than you could ever think of. All your gear is awaiting you on the plane. You leave within an hour.” the man says, before producing something from his desk. He hands zencho a small skull medallion. “May it guide you safely home, my friend.” the director says. Zencho nods, bows, and leaves to begin his mission.

Chapter 4:

Eye of the storm


As the plane got closer and closer to the island that housed the bastion, the former gcorp base, zencho began to get a funny feeling in the pit of his stomach. A green light switched on in the cabin, alerting zencho that they were within jumping distance. Zencho closes his eyes and begins counting. 3...2...1… . then he opens his eyes, seeing the ground rapidly approaching. Zencho grabs the ripcord, pulling it. He feels a tug, and a shadow looms over him. An army green parachute expands, slowing his descent. As he nears the ground, the parachute detaches from the pack. Zencho plummets a few inches and lands on the ground, unscathed. He looks around. His helmet alerts him that he is a few meters away from his objective. He sighs and picks up his rifle. A show of good faith, the white-suit man had told him, before the plane had taken off. He had also been given his own version of a freelancer suit of armor. He had also been given a rust-colored magnum. It was meant to look old, as his story was that he had escaped into the woods after killing a few gcorp employees. Zencho thought about it for a minute. He had to make it more believable. Slowly, he aims the gun into his stomach. Turning it slightly to a non-lethal angle. He wheezes and pulls the trigger. Instant pain streams through his body. Numbing his other senses. He felt warm liquid flowing over his undersuit. Blood. He stumbled out into a clearing. Then he saw them, people in colored armor, just as the director had described. The stood a ways off, like they were waiting. Zencho notices that the one in grey armor was not among them, and that was the last rational thought that went through his head. Soon, zencho felt weak. He had to make a break for them now, or he would die from blood loss. He built up his strength and released it, running towards them. He yells the word “help” a few times before falling to the ground. He feels the impact, but the pain is dulled by his altered state. Darkness threatens to seize him. He sees the freelancers running towards him. When he wakes up, he has a very difficult role to play. If he wakes up, is the last thing to go through his mind. 


When zencho comes to, he notices the multi-colored people standing around him. One of them is arguing with the other. As his vision clears, and his hearing gets better, he hears their conversation. “We should kill him right now.” says one. “No, he could be of use to us. We do need all the help we can get” says another. “Quiet, he’s waking up.” says a third, from behind him. He tries to sit up, but pain tears through him, threatening to break him. The second places a hand on his shoulder, a blue-armored freelancer. “Careful, you took quite the hit. Good thing is whoever shot you didn’t hit anything important.” he says. Then asks, “who shot you, anyways.” zencho groans, and looks at the blue-armored one. “Gcorp soldiers. Got hit while trying to escape them. Something about a freelancer recall.” he says, trying his best not to seem suspicious. The red one chimes in. “well, you should have let them finish you off. Then we wouldn’t be having this discussion.” he says, before the third, a white-armored freelancer, comes over to him. “Wolf, we need his help. We can’t just kill everybody we come across. That’s gcorp’s way, not ours. Besides, we need somebody to take care of our “other problem”” she says, placing her arm around blue. “Do you accept, mister?” blue asks. Zencho nods. “Great” he says, then adds “let’s get you acquainted. That sour lad over there is wolf. I’m chrono, and this lovely lady is katana. What is your callsign, soldier?” chrono asks. Zencho thinks for a second, then replies. “Zencho.” 


As zencho and the others march up to the bastion, Zencho hears the faintest sound of a gunshot. The others break into a sprint when the shot reaches them. Zencho does the same. Zencho removes his rifle from his back, and rushes inside. Zencho is following the others, when he hears wolf yelling, followed by gunshots. Zencho rushes in and joins into the fray. Suddenly, he sees the grey-armored freelancer, climbing out of a window. Zencho runs into the room taking up a sharpshooter position. He fires at the grey-armored freelancer, hitting him in the leg. The freelancer falls. Wolf fires a shot, hitting the dirt. Zencho fires a second shot, hitting the freelancer in the shoulder. The others use their chance and run up to the grey-armored freelancer, lifting him up. Katana draws her blade, stabbing it into the freelancer’s chest. Zencho joins them, and draws his magnum. The others look down at it, but then look at the grey armored freelancer. He places the barrel of the gun to the grey freelancer’s head. This was his initiation, his way in. he sighs, and pulls the trigger. The freelancer slumps his head, lifeless. It was done. They laid the dead man down, and went back into the bastion. Zencho stays behind and says a prayer for the poor man. He finishes, and goes back into the building. Zencho finds the others, mourning a teammate who met an untimely demise as a result of the grey-armored freelancer. They tell zencho his name was Nightmare, and that the grey-armored freelancer, ghost, had gotten into a fight with him a day before this mission. The others hoped that with ghost gone, they could complete their objective, and kill the director. Zencho thanks them, and leaves the room. He walks to the outside of the bastion and looks in through the now-open window. He takes the rifle off his back, and aims it at wolf. Suddenly, he hears the whirring of propeller blades. He looks back, and a bullet hits him in the chest. He falls to the ground, injured. He tries to stand, but another shot hits him. He turns towards the window. The others are running out of the room. He looks back at the helicopter, as it begins to land. Through his blurring vision, he can just barely make out the gcorp logo. Three soldiers jump from the helicopter, and two of them run over to zencho. What’s left of his vision begins to fade. He feels himself being picked up, and his back hits something hard. Metal. The cold distracts him enough to let the pain overtake him, and he loses his train of thought. He realizes he’s dying. This is the end, he tells himself. and then the pain fades, as too does zencho.


Submitted: December 06, 2019

© Copyright 2021 la fantasma. All rights reserved.

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Guenevere Lee

This feels more like a prologue to a wider story. It's clear you have an interesting world here, and I would definitely encourage you to write more set there. My one note would be to be careful to always capitalize the names of characters.

Fri, December 6th, 2019 10:39pm

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