We need to get him off the street so he can lay down”, the little boy says to his sister, as she still has a slight sign of disdain on her face from Knight san's earlier dismissal. As he slowly rises with the help of his new caretakers, a metal object clanged against the wall as he was trying to get his footing. The kids looked at each other, “Nani?!” Niku pushes aside the man's black suit coat. The boy squints as he tries to make out what appears to be the red and black handle of a dagger holstered on the man. From old manga magazines that he and his sister would look at in the library when they needed to get out of the cold, he recognized this was a Tantou – a short blade worn by the Samurai class from generations ago. Niku was always fascinated by stories of Samurai warriors. How they carried themselves, their standing in feudal Nippon and the respect they commanded. Between times asking for money or running away from shop owners and police after snatching whatever food that they could so they would be able to eat for the day, Niku would wrap a rope around his waist, in which he would slide a piece of wood that he carved into the shape of a Tantou, as well as a longer Katana. He would then mentally escape his unfortunate reality of life on the streets, and into the life of a well respected and feared Samurai warrior. With his chest poked out and hand on his unbreakable and deathly sharp sword (in his mind), he would pretend to lay waste to all that challenged his power and skills.
As they were still slowly making their way to their shack, Niku cautiously said to the stranger “Why do you have this?” Knight san looked down to see what Niku was fixated on. In his pain, an unrecognizable grunt was all he could produce. Niku knew that was a question that could be saved for a later time. They finally reached the wood and plastic shelter which would have to take the place of a hospital for their patient. As Kabu moved the front door drapes aside, Knight san could barely make out the improvised furnishings that made up the kid's home, only lit by 2 candles. Knight san used his last bit of strength to make it to a well worn narrow mattress laying upon two wooden crates he saw in the corner. Exhausting all he had in him, the damaged man rolled from the support of Niku and Kabu onto the bed as he drifted back out of consciousness.
As Knight san lay there unconscious, the twins sat across the room from him and pondered what to do. “What if he's a police detective or something?!” says Kabu. “He might wake up and take us back to the orphanage. I don't think you want to be back in the hands of Yamemoto san after what you did last time” she says in a slightly scolding tone. “Why in the world did you throw the whole bag of fireworks in her bathroom and then lock it from the outside?!” “You told me to!”, Niku shot back. Kabu quickly counters, “I said throw one...ONE! You lit the whole bundle that had the flares and everything!” After a brief stare down, the kids turned their attention back to their passed out visitor. Niku says “I don't think he's the police. No kesatsu I've ever seen carries around a Tantou”, as his gaze rests on the dagger that was partially visible as Knight san's suit jacket lays over the side of the bed. Then after a few moments, a look of shock comes over Kabu's face, “Then what if he's Yakuza?! We could be in big trouble if his friends come looking for him.” With a look of contemplation, Niku then made the suggestion that they should check his pockets for a clue as to who he is. “If he is the police, he'll have his badge on him. And if he's Yakuza, then he'll have lots of money on him.” The kids cautiously get up and start walking to the still passed out man. As Niku starts to lightly pat the stranger's front pants pockets, Kabu checks to see if his suit jacket has any inside pockets. As she's searching, her eyes are drawn to a marking on the inside of Knight san's left wrist. From the little bit she can see in their dimly lit home, it appears to be 3 red lines running from the base of his palm up under a partially blood stained sleeve. Curious as to what kind of marking it was, she lifted the sleeve a bit to see how far up the lines went. Not seeing an end, she temporarily abandoned her investigation as Niku asked “What are you doing? I don't think his wallet is going to be up there.” As she looks down to scowl at her brother, in an instant, Knight san grabs her hand that is still lifting his sleeve. She screams in shock, as Niku jumps up and screams “kuso!!” Knight san's grip is tight on her small hand as she tries to pull away. Seeing that his sister is in trouble, Niku grabs Knight san's arm and starts hitting his hand that is still holding Kabu. “Dame! Dame!” Niku is yelling. “Tasukete!” Kabu shrieks. Seeing that his blows were having no effect, Niku then bites Knight san's arm as hard as he can. This results in Knight san grabbing Niku with his other hand by the back of his shirt and lifting him straight up off the ground as Knight san, with blurring quickness, jumped up onto his feet. With no signs of weakness or injury that had subdued the man just moments ago, both Kabu and Niku were frozen in fear. In his bewilderment, Knight san looked down at Kabu and then straight over to Niku, who was now eye to eye with him as he was suspended in mid-air as Knight san held him. As he relaxed his battle-ready instinct seeing that these children were no threat, he lowered Niku back down to the ground and released his hold on Kabu. Both grabbed each other and ran to a corner of the hut as they huddled together, still with deathly fright in their eyes. Knight san, who's face was blanketed in the darkness, just outside of the reach of the small candles, demanded to know what they were doing. Still too shaken to form any words, the kids just stared at him. Knight san, seeing that his hovering over them in an intimidating manner was not going to get him anywhere, decided to sit back down on the bed. “Ok, look,” as he raised both of his hands in a surrendering fashion, “I'm not going to hurt you, but you must tell me who you are and what you were doing.” Niku stuttered “D-d-don't you remember? We just found you laying in the ally so we brought you inside so you were out of the rain.” Kabu followed with “Since we didn't know who you were, we just wanted to see if you had a drivers license or something.” Knight san, sitting on the edge of the bed still waiting for his broken memory to catch up, took a deep breathe and hung his head. He then looked back up at Kabu and said “Then what were you looking for up my sleeve?” She said “You have three marks on your wrist. I just wanted to know what they were.” As she said that, she looked at his other arm, the one she had not previous inspected and saw the same three lines again starting at the base of his palm. Knowing that usually only gangsters have large tattoo's, she asked with caution, “Are you Yakuza? If you are, we promise, we won't tell. We don't want any trouble, Mr.” Knight san looked down at both of his hands and turned them palm up so he was looking at the partially exposed markings Kabu was talking about. Still a little hazy on exactly who he was, at least he did know that he was not Yakuza. Faintly, he also knew that he was a part of something much more secretive and powerful. “No, I'm not.” he simply asserted.
Over the next few hours, as the tension level in the small shelter continued to lower between the twins and their guest, they continued to inquire about each other. The rain falling on the plastic roof was a bit loud but also strangely soothing. “What are you two doing on these streets, anyway? Where's your parents?”, Knight san said. As Niku stood up, he said “We don't know who our parents are. All we were told is that we were dropped off at the Ueno orphanage when we were first born. That's the only home that me and my sister ever knew.” “So why aren't you there now?” Knight san asked. “A lot of bad things were happening there and we weren't safe.”, Niku said. “Besides,” Kabu added, “Niku tried to blow up the house mother in her own bathroom.” Knight san, looking bewildered by that, looked at Niku. With a weak innocent smile, Niku shrugs his shoulders and looks down and says “It was just a little miscommunication.” Knight san looks back at Kabu with even more confusion as she says with her own attempt at a guiltless smile “Brothers...am I right?” and giggles. Knight san just shakes his head. Wanting to quickly change the topic, Niku asks “What about you? You don't look like you're homeless.” Just like grasping at a faint dream, Knight san could vaguely remember parts but not the full story yet, “I was part of a small but powerful organization that did a lot of bad things to both good and bad people.” “Are you sure you're not a gangster?”, Kabu asks again. “No,” Niku interjects, “I have a feeling he's a good guy.” “I'm definitely not a good guy, kid.” Niku and Kabu look at each other knowing they both have the same question on their minds. “So then why aren't you there now with them?”, Kabu asks. “I'm not exactly sure why”, Knight san responds, “but it's time I find out.” As Knight san goes to stand, his legs start to buckle a bit. Niku says “No, you still need rest.”
As dawn starts to break in a rain soaked Kawasaki, Kabu is the first to wake up. She rubs her eyes and stretches. Last night's events were so extraordinary that they're in the back of her mind like a fading but realistic dream. As she sits up, she is startled to see that it was definitely not a dream as she sees Knight san is sitting up on the raised mattress facing her. She screams! Niku, shaken from his slumber, jumps up grabbing his wooden Katana. “Nani?!” he screams. Kabu reaches under her pillow to grab 3 pieces of metal that she had flattened and sharpened the edges to make into lethal throwing weapons. She always made sure they were easily accessible when she slept, having a few sets hidden around their shack. In an instant, she pushed herself up from a sitting position to a crouched fighting stance where she was now side by side with her brother as they try to remember the events from the night before and who their silent house guest was. Calmly, Knight san, still sitting in his meditation pose, opened his eyes. He looks at the twins and dismissively says “Boo.” As their eyes now focus more on Knight san, their memories return slowly. “You were real?!”, Kabu says as she lowers her makeshift throwing stars, the 3 of them fanned out and perfectly spaced apart. “Yes, I was and...” Knight san pauses as he shifts his eyes at a wide-eyed Niku still holding his sharpened wooden sword in a Samurai stance, but not realizing that his oversized pants had fallen down as he jumped out of bed. With a quick glance down at his wardrobe malfunction and then back up to Niku's eyes, trying to give a hint, he continues, “...and I still am.” Feeling a draft, Niku looks down and in embarrassment drops like a sack of potatoes to cover his exposed anime-printed boxer shorts. “Don't you know you could've been hurt?!”, a somewhat perturbed Kabu says as she stows away her homemade throwing stars. “Really?”, Knight san says dismissively. “Wait, let me see those” as he looks at her weapons. “Why?” she says back. “I've just never seen a little girl with such dangerous toys before” counters Knight san. After a slight hesitation, she cautiously hands one to him. Niku, still fumbling with the rope belt that earlier failed to keep his pants in place, says “We might be little to you but we don't play with the same toys as other kids. Not when we have to survive on the streets every day.” Knight san, with a stern but confused look shoots his eyes to Niku as he takes one of Kabu's stars to inspect. “Where did you find this?” “I didn't find that, I made it”, Kabu defensively responds. “I collected empty cans, layered them together and put a flat stone in the middle for weight. Then got a big rock to flatten it and sharpen the corners.” “Not bad” Knight san says under his breath. “Do you know how to use them?” he says as he hands it back. With the star on the tips of her first 2 fingers, she secures it with her thumb. With a blurred flick of the wrist, Kabu's star flies inches past Knight san's head and sticks firmly into the shelter's support beam behind him. “I'd say so” Niku says with a smirk dedicated to his sister. Kabu adds, with a hint of swagger in her voice, “Now do you understand how close you were to getting hur...” just then, as quick as the lightening flashes in the sky the night before, Knight san, without losing eye contact with Kabu, reached behind his head, grabbing the star and sent it with an unstoppable force to the dead center of Niku's Tantou on the floor next to where he sat. There was a silence for what seemed like an eternity, only broken by a few raindrops here and there on the hard plastic roof of the hut. “Who are you?” Kabu says, now with a slight tremble in her voice. “I must rest again” is all Knight san says as he closes his eyes and goes back into a deep disciplined meditation.
As days go by, Knight san's main focus is on rebuilding his still bruised and battered body as well as his fractured memory. The twins help him little by little, as much as a stubborn Knight san will let them. Otherwise, they have returned to their usual daily activities – looking for food, money, and the occasional theft from the nearby marketplace for new clothing, shoes and manga for entertainment. One day as they all rested in the make shift home, Knight san asked them what they were reading. Niku chimed up first and said he loved reading any samurai comics because that's what he wanted to be one day. “I'm going to go around Tokyo...even all over Japan and watch everyone part the streets as I walk through because I'm going to be the fiercest sword-master in the land. Everyone will know that nobody can defeat the mighty Niku!” as the young man stands and holds his wooden sword above his head. “So you're the mighty meat?”, Knight san interrupts. “I've always wanted to ask how did you get the name Niku? And your sister” turning his head, “why Kabu?” The boy, sitting back down from his statue-ready pose says “We've never known any other names.” Kabu jumped in “I gave him his name since that was always what he would take from the market every time we stole...umm...went shopping.” Knight san pauses for a minute then says, “And Kabu?” Niku says with a laugh, “Our first time out and she grabbed a turnip! I still can't believe it...a turnip!” Kabu shoots a cold look at her brother and shouts “I was running out, I didn't know what to take! Dame yo!” Knight san found himself for the first time in years, desperately maintaining his serious look and trying not to breaking into laughter. He quietly stands and walks out of the hut without a word.
The rain finally broke and offered a peak at sunshine one Spring day. The twins decided to hop on a train after collecting enough money for a trip to Yokohama to walk along the water front. “Knight san has been with us for a few weeks now” Kabu says, “Do you think he's going to stay with us forever?” Niku thinks for a second and then says “Do you think he would? It would be fun to have a chichi since we never knew ours.” “I don't think so. He seems like he's going to leave once he gets all better” Kabu says with a bit of sorrow in her voice. “But who would he go to? If he had his own family, wouldn't they have come looking for him by now?”, Niku considers as he tries to be hopeful. “Maybe he wants us for a family, Kabu.” By this time, they had walked far enough to end up in an empty alley in Yokohama's Chinatown. Niku froze in his tracks as his sister, unaware, had continued walking and contemplating what the future would be like with a father figure. When she realized that her brother was no longer by her side, she turned to see him staring at something on the ground next to a garbage container. It was shiny but Kabu still couldn't make out what it was. As she got closer, her brother bent down to pick the object up. “Niku, what is it? What do you have? Is it money?” Niku extended his hand to show Kabu what he was holding. Her eyes widened in shock as she saw that her brother was holding a scuffed up but otherwise identical cufflink as the one they saw on Knight san the night they found him. “He was here?!” Niku said. “We have to show him!”, Niku said as they started running back to the train station to get home.
The twins were normally gone throughout the day leaving Knight san alone to meditate and train in his various martial arts skills for hours during the day. He had made it a point to not show the full scope of his seemingly instinctual Ninja and Samurai fighting styles to the children, as he wanted to keep them away from this violent side of his life. Knight san had constructed a heavy wooden dummy to practice on when the kids were away. Kabu's throwing stars all buried deep into the solid wood head in perfect accuracy. A self-made blade attached to a rope landing directly where the heart would be. And his customized Tantou sticking several inches deep into a strategic and deadly nether region of the nearly destroyed mannequin. These were what the twins had unexpectedly returned home to see. “Sugoiiiiiiiii!” they said in unison as they opened the flap just as Knight san was finishing a lightening fast kick combination on the wooden figure that could take no more and collapsed as the moderately healthier man turned to look at the kids. “What are you doing here?!” “Umm, we live here” the little girl said sarcastically. “Wha...wha...what was that?! With the kick and everything” her amazed brother said. Niku walked over to see how deep the Tontou had sliced into the dense wood. He tried to pull it out, feeling a bit uncomfortable where it was lodged, but he wasn't able to budge it. He knew it would take an axe to remove it from the figure. Just then Knight san walked over, grabbed his weapon and yanked it out with the strength of 5 men to extract it. Again, together the kids yelled “Sugoiiii...” “Stop that!” Knight san said brusquely. “What are you doing back so early?” he said. “We came to show you what we found” Niku said as he pulled the metal piece from his pocket. When Knight san saw the custom made piece of jewelry that they had found, he took it and demanded to know where it had come from. The boy told him where he came across it. “Show me” Knight san said, as he grabbed his still torn but now cleaned jacket, at least of the blood stains after the kids had scrubbed them out. Off to the train station the three rushed to find more clues.
Turning down a dark alley, the car came to a screeching stop as the driver looked to see if anyone was around. “Hayaku!” he said to the 2 men in the back as they pushed the motionless body out of the rear door. With the rain falling at a consistent pace for the last 2 days in Kawasaki, the unconscious man landed face down in a large puddle next to the car. Then, just as soon as they came, the car sped off back into the night.
In a different scenario this would have been a peaceful scene – no other sounds but the steady rain coming down. It stayed that way until a loud lightening strike lit up the presumedly abandoned alley. The static figure laid there as the rain drenched his torn and bloodied black suit. Once masked by the darkness until revealed by the flash of light, only a few feet away from him were the silhouettes of 2 children. They had actually been there shortly after this mysterious figure was dumped, however they stayed quiet for fear of getting involved in an ominous situation they wanted no part of. Being homeless and on their own for as long as they could remember, the twin brother and sister always did their best to avoid trouble, especially the kind of trouble that throws bodies out of big black sedans in the middle of the night. So silently they observe but keep their distance.
Acting as an alarm clock, a small lightening strike and thunder clap brought life back into the once prone man still laying face down in the alley. Slowly he starts to move about. Laboring to open his eyes, he's trying to focus still with half of his face submerged in a puddle. He gingerly moves his arms and legs to make sure he still has all of his parts. Not knowing where he is, how he got there or even having a firm grasp on who he is, his immediate goal was to gather enough strength to get up, or at least roll out of the slow growing rain puddle.
The kids remained where they were, still wondering who he is and if they should help him. As he finally makes it to his knees but on the brink of falling back down on his face, the kids run over to help him. Just as they both grab an arm each, there is a slight earthquake tremor. They stop for a moment to make sure there's no immediate danger, and then continue. They sit him up against a wall and out of the rain. Kabu tells her brother, Niku, to get some water out of the pieced together plastic and wooden fort they have been calling home. He runs to get it. The unknown man tries to stand but is in excruciating pain. Kabu says “Suwatsutekudasai!” and guides him back down. Not being able to see clearly due to the darkness and his injuries, he isn't sure who is helping him so he gains enough of his senses to mutter “Who are you? Dare?! Dare?!” As Niku comes back with a bottle of rain water, Kabu says “We heard a car stop, something was thrown out and then it sped off. We came to see what was happening and found that you were that something thrown out.” Niku puts the plastic bottle gently up to the mans lips and tilts it slightly telling him to drink. Kabu then asks “Nihonjin desuka? Namaewa? Or do you speak English? What's your name?” Surprised to hear what sounds like a young girl, he turns his head slightly towards her and says “Yes. How do you speak English so well?” She says “my brother and I have lived on the streets of Kawasaki and Tokyo for many years. Knowing 2 languages means we can ask for double the amount of money and food. From both Nihonjin and gaijin.” Niku says to his sister “Kimiwa bokutachi no himitsu o, shiranai hito ni hanashiteru!” The battered figure turns his head slightly towards Niku and says, “Your secret is safe with me, kid.” Kabu says “We still don't know who you are.” “Well, my secret is that I'm not entirely sure who I am”, says the man, “or why I'm here.” Taking a moment as he starts to drift back out of consciousness, he says “Now leave me. You have done your good deed for today.” Kabu, taken aback by the stranger's crassness and looking annoyed stands and says “We did not help you just to be shooed away. Come on, Niku!” She turns to walk away but Niku stops her. “Yamero! He is hurt and needs our help.” Kabu stands with her arms crossed and back to them and says “We still don't even know his name or who he is. We don't need this in our lives!” Niku, scanning the barely moving man in the dim light being cast by a street lamp notices a damaged cufflink hanging from the torn shirt cuff around one of the man's swollen wrists. The scuffed but slightly shiny form is that of a chess piece, the head of a horse...the Knight. Niku then says, “Since you don't know your name, I will name you.” Reaching for the broken jewelry before it falls to the ground, Niku mutters “ナイト.” After a slight pause, he then says, “Hai, namae wa Knight san.” Just at that moment, the brightest of lightening strikes pierces the dark sky. Kabu looks at his sister, then turns back towards the broken man and repeats “Knight san.”