The water was cold and was rushing. Dana struggled to keep her head above water as she was pushed down stream.
“Dear gods, they said kinda…” The stranger breathed as they watched Dana struggle in the river. The stranger was running close to the edge, dodging between trees and bullets. There was a fallen tree in their way. With a mighty and high hop, the stranger jumped on the old wood, causing it to break free from its dead roots and slide down the cliff side and into the river. They came up on Dana, grabbing her out the water and setting her down.
Dana gasped and sputtered, coughing up water and looking up at the stranger.
“WHAT THE FUCK, YO!?” she wheezed.
“No time for that right now!” the stranger said, throwing off their mino and wrapping it around Dana. Dana blinked, surprised to see a black woman. She smiled at Dana, before ducking at the sound of gunfire.
“C’mooooon…” she whispered, as the old piece of wood soared down the river. At the nearest bend, a tall tower with tiny buildings surrounding it peaked.
“Hold on!” The woman said, grabbing Dana’s hand.
The wood slipped up the embankment at full speed and soared in the air before landing on a grassy hill. They slid for what seemed like minutes, stopping abruptly when a large rock got in the way. With grace, the woman landed on her feet into a roll. With clumsy, Dana landed on her face. The woman looked back and laughed, rushing back over to help Dana up and running into the town.
As these two black women ran through town, the Asian residents looked at them bewildered. The stranger pulled them into an alleyway, pushing Dana close to the wall. A lifetime had passed before the sound of heavy boots and 6 shadows walked by the alleyway. Another lifetime had passed before the stranger let them back out into the public.
By now, Dana was shivering under the mino. The stranger held her hand tightly and led her further into town. The noise made Dana pay attention now. She looked at the people barely paying attention to them now. They were dressed in hemp and cotton kiminos, sandals on their feet. They spoke in a language that sounded familiar but not really. The people were shopping, going on about their day, playing with the town strays.
“The fuck episode of Ninja Scroll is this…??” Dana asked to herself.
“Chileeeeeee…” The stranger replied, shaking her head. “I still don’t know.”
The stranger had taken Dana to an inn. The stranger and the innkeeper were speaking the same language at the bar before she came back with a small cup full of something piping hot. She handed it to Dana, who took it eagerly and had a deep sip… Before coughing and wheezing.
“What’s in this tea!?”
“Oh, that ain’t tea. That’s sake. And you downed that like a champ.”
Warmth rushed over Dana.
Dana stared at the stranger, finally taking her in. She wore black hakamas and a black haori that was opened, a thin white undershirt covering her chest. Her face was strong and hard but her eyes gave her features a softness. She blinked at Dana.
“What’s your name?”
The stranger hesitated.
Before Dana could say anything, the innkeeper waved at them in a panic, speaking quickly. Yetunde spoke back, grabbing Dana and following the innkeeper. He led them to a wall. Yetunde knocked on it three times. Someone on the other side knocked back twice, causing the wall to slide open. Yetunde led Dana in, the wall closing behind them.
“Tunde,” a gruff voice called out.
By now Dana was good and drunk. Yetunde sat her on the floor next to a pile of warm coals.
“Don’t call me that, Souta,” Yetunde said, gathering some dry clothes for Dana and helping her change into them.
Souta was watching Yetunde, his dark eyes watching the way her body moved. He cleared his throat and rubbed the back of his neck, looking away.
“Who’s your friend?” he asked, leaning against the wall.
“She joined the game,” Yetunde said, looking up at him. He stared at her.
“Fuck. Alright, that makes sense why would you want–”
“To see you, yeah, because we’re fucking working. If you’re still gonna get upset that we fucked and don’t anymore, then die mad about it, but right now, we have to work to do. She joined in while the Dogs were chasing me. I was so close… So close to finding out where they are coming from but I tripped.”
“…Tripped? Like a wire?”
“No, I literally tripped and fell on my elbow. Let out a noise, they came runnin’.”
She actually had yelled “fuck”.
Souta paced around the tiny room. Dana had fallen asleep. Yetunde put out the coals.
The western corner of town blew up.