Takeshi was destined for greatness. That was the drek his mother would tell him when he was a child. Perhaps every mother tells their child these word of encouragement, especially when they hope to provide some normalcy for their child. Even before Takeshi learned that his mother fled from Kyoto or when they hurriedly left their home in Metro China, Take knew his life was not normal. A Nippon blossom with the voice of a nightingale, Take’s mother easily found work as nightclub singer. She went by the name of Orchid and easily found the attention of her audience. She tried to shelter Take from her former life, but no matter how hard she tried to hide, the Yakuza found her. In Chicago, she was unable to run and the Yakuza discovered her trying desperately to pack. Take found his mother in their two bedroom flat, laying in a pool of blood where her head had been. He was only Six at the time.

The Yakuza grabbed Take as he stared at his headless mother, he was brought before the Oyabun of Chicago and sentenced to the life of the kawaru. He was beaten and humiliated, conditioned to be obedient. Take’s life was flayed from him one layer at time, he felt the rage build up in his chest and Take lashed out with blinding rage. The Nippon knew that he was to old to be conditioned. The Kawaru should have been taken to Yomi island at birth, then he could be conditioned to serve one of the clans or the Yakuza. Yomi island would be Take’s last chance. If he could not control his emotions, Takeshi would be put down like the unclean beast that he was. Take never made it to Yomi island, an ork in the employ of the Yakuza named Yama discovered Take’s plight. A runner by trade, Yama was Nippon and Ork, he know all to well the evils of Yomi island. On rainy night in 2053, Take was once again snatched from his life.

Some people would say that Take had a hard childhood. Those people are child activists and social workers who thought that people were basically good and everyone should buy into their socialist concept of a perfect society. Take learned differently, he learned the way of the ork. In Orzet the word for life is the same word for pain. Take never knew his father; His mother always said that his father was Shisou. Yama became his surrogate father. But Yama led a harsh life, and Take was left alone in the streets of Seattle for days at a time. Many times they would have to move to the ork underground or to another part of Seattle. Yet take grew accustomed to these changes and, seeking Yama’s approval, he assisted in preparations for his runs. By the age of ten, Take could break down and put together most small arm weapons in less than couple of minutes.

Having lost his mother at a young age, Take tried desperately to remember how she looked. He had a faded picture he kept in an ornate himitsu-bako that also once belonged to his mother. When Yama caught the boy staring at the picture, he told Take that his mother was part of a ninja clan, a hired assassin for the Yakuza. She was killed for dishonoring her clan for loving an ork. Yama taught the boy the ways of the Japanese and the ways of the orks. When Take was twelve, Yama brought Take before his mother’s killer. The bile of hate welled up inside his chest, burning his throat and blinding his thoughts. Take wildly brandished a knife, stabbing repeatedly into the man’s chest until he passed out from his rage. When Take awoke, Yama explained his rage.

“You have now felt your gahad; it is an ork’s greatest strength, and a Nippon’s greatest dishonor. You must always remember your honor controls your gahad, not the other way around. To loose to your gahad dishonors yourself, your sensei, and the memory of your mother. You must learn to channel your gahad into your actions.”

For a time, life felt normal. Take learned that life in the barrens each had their own hardships and one could not compare their pain to another. Left to his own devices, Take learned enough of the barrens to steer clear of trouble. He learned the gangs and their turf. He also met Master Lei in the I.D. Master Lei often instructed young Asians in what he called “The Old Way”. Master Lei did not hold the prejudices of most people and secretly taught the Scholar’s way to Takeshi. Take found irony that a Chinese master would teach a Nippon ork the ways of tradition and honor. While Take constantly sought Yama’s approval, Yama kept Take at arm’s distance. The way of the ork was to revel in the moment, celebrate the life, and live like there is no tomorrow. The Nippon are always aware of their surroundings, prepared at any moment, and respectful of those around them. Take’s dichotomy fit together like a puzzle and Yama’s teaching did not always make sense, but the ork learned to depend on no one.

Life in Seattle suited Takeshi, no one looks twice at him in the underground, and orks are always useful in the barrens. Take fell in with a small time gang known as the Ixe Houndz. As the only ork, Take was the main muscle for the gang and earned the name Glasgow. The leader of the Ixe Houndz was insulted by the Rusted Stilletos and in a turf battle between the two gangs, the Ixe Houndz were taught the ways of the street. Only three members of the Ixe Houndz survived battle; a dwarf named Styles, and elf named Frost, and Glasgow. The three hid in the Redmond Mortuary, where they were found by the graveyard shift Doctor, Solomon Grady. Styles tried to talk the doctor out of calling LoneStyles, but it was Frost who convinced the Doc with a bag of Novacoke. Doc Solomon, patched up the three youths and sent them on their way. The three Houndz decided to go their own way. Styles left for the Calafornia Free State to be a ‘star’, Frost stayed in Seattle, word was he became a driver for the Mafia.

Glasgow wanted to learn the Shadows, but Yama disapproved. Begrudgingly, Yama taught Take to handle himself in a fight. He warned of hazards of the Shadows, but never took him on a run.

“When they come for me, you run. kill the Lights… flashpack… grenade. Always have two exits and never stay in one place too long. The shadows are your friends. Those lines about dragons and conserving ammo is just drek some street deacon trying to make you think he is more important than you. Find your path and take it like an ork.”

When they came for Yama, Take did not look back… he escaped to the ork underground. He hid in the underground for a time, then returned to the barrens. He found a squat at the edge of Touristsville. It was the silver haired elf that took him by suprise. An old friend of Yama that he used to run with. His movements were smooth, almost unnatural. Yama said that he was the fastest elf alive. Yama had said that the elf had died on a run, yet stood before him like an apparition.

“Your father was an honorable ork, high above those Japanese he worked for. He did not want this life for you. This is his sword, jacket, and an account that he made for you. This is the number to a fixer. Choose your friends wisely.”

Yama’s face contorted in anger, his gahad rising in his chest. Then he remembered Yama’s words and controlled his rage. Even though Yama never called Take son, he treated him like a son the best way he knew. Take took Yama’s jacket and put it on, the leering skull of an Oni stitched the back. The heron marked blade that Yama gained on a run was now his. The elf nodded and turned away. Take was now Shisou, the Shadow of Death.


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