Cutscene: Rooks of the Sea

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“It’s a nice thought, my grandson, but it should not be your main focus.” The aged hand takes the rook, moving it across the board. The black castle knocks over the white pawn. It’s a small hit. The white plays defensively. The black is aggressive, but with a cold logical precision. “This organization, Empathy for Apathy… This is not a legacy to fight for. If you do nothing about the real problem, there is no point. Even Kandori-sama donates to charity.”

Masahiko considers the board, the dim lighting outside broken by the steel mesh that prevents escape. He moves the pawn to protect the knight. “What would you have do? I don’t have the support to move forward. Not enough. Not organized.”

A faint smile forms on Irie-sama’s lips. “Then you take a risk.” The black queen moves forward, taking out the white queen. The white king takes it out. The exchange of pieces goes swiftly between the two as they speak. Pawns falls out dominos, larger pieces showing themselves to be just as capable of defeat as the board steadily turns into a field of death. “For whatever reason, your enemies are on the defensive. If you do nothing, they prepare until they hurt someone else. If they have a trap, better to set it off carefully then let the fear of it scare you away. You must be a beacon. You must fight, even if your allies are not with you. When they see you for what you are, they will hate you or flock to you. Perhaps even both.”

The board is given a troubled glance, the student not liking how the game or the conversation paired with it is turning out. “I can’t do this, grandfather. I won’t have a life. I won’t have a girlfriend, a chance at a good job… The life I want.”

“Women love power. You prove yourself able to stand up to the sharks and the mermaids will desire you. As for a job? Well, you know that isn’t an issue. The life you live? That is your choice. Remember though, who /else/ is standing up to Kandori has fully as yourself.” There is a long bout of silence. “A life of peace, knowing who the ruler is.... Or a life of battle, knowing that you have a chance to decide the king.” There are only four pieces left at this point: the kings and two black rooks, which are used to finish the game. “Checkmate.”

Lowering his head, Masahiko sighs, knocking over his king. “So, what do I do? They are still piecing together the hard drive.”

A snort is given. “Attacking the drugs? That’s nothing. You take out one of those, another will spring up. Good to hit, don’t get me wrong, but you need to do better than that,” Irie-sama replies, pulling out a shelf within the board to start placing the pieces away. “You take a man’s fish? He goes hungry for a day.” The Yakuza boss looks up, his steely gaze tear into Masahiko’s gentle eyes. “You break his ****ing pole, use that fishing line to garrote that mother****er, then leave his body for the rest of his fisherman to see? There’ll be a lot less fishing after that. Do you understand, Masa?”

The young man stands up silently, his eyes toward the steel mesh, wishing he could somehow ooze through it and escape this conversation.

“Do. You. Understand?” comes the soft voice of his elder.

“...I understand, Irie-sama,” the student replies before the turns around. His hand, still resting on the table is soon caught by the chilled hand of his relative.

“You are a gentle man. A good man. In time, you will see that this is the right road to walk on. Do not care what the others say. They do not understand. Now go, Masahiko, be the one that decides the king.”

The younger Irie leaves without another word. The older is not surprised. It was a rather difficult message for a high schooler to hear. But it is not the first time Masahiko has fought on his behalf and sadly it will not be the last. Once Masahiko is gone, Irie-sama smiles. “It is time to figure out the other pieces to this game, Masa... But, know while you are a pawn now, you shall be transformed into something much grander if you can survive to the other side of the board.”

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