Cutscene: The Play of the Pawn
"It’s been awhile since we’ve been able to talk, Masa," the voice that was so used to commanding respect is now soft, the darkness of the small room seemingly stealing the strength of the mighty Irie-sama, still clad the clothing of an inmate.
"I know." As usual, Masahiko is in sharp contrast to his grandfather, in demeanor and attire. He wears simple white t-shirt and jeans with slip-on sandals the only thing keeping his feet from chilling on the cold prison concrete. "I wasn’t able to get any progress on the treaty with the other gang. I think it might still be possible tho'. Maybe if I get some sort of alliance going, come from a position of pow-"
"SEES doesn’t give a shit about how this goes unless it impacts them directly," the criminal points out with a shred of restraint. "This Shinsengumi group won't either unless they are softer than I thought. They wanted to see how useful you were and you didn’t impress. It not surprisingly, you're still green."
"It’s too soon to tell," Masahiko points out, leaning forward in his seat. "They don’t trust me; it’s expected when you consider where I am coming from. Maybe in time-”
Irie-sama’s words are firm, interrupting once more but still composed and cool. "And everything they do is legal. The robot they made, the power that they use so freely. All of them break the law; but they judge you differently because they don't take the time to see things from any perspective but their own. That Hanamura kid?" A long drag of the cigarette is taken before the grandfather turns his head to blow. "He has a following. He has the tools. And he sees you for the potential that you are. Stick with him as long as you can. If he continues on as I hope, we can turn his little Cartel into something grand. If not, we’ll find a way to make it work to our advantage, even if I have to gut the whole damn thing myself."
"But I don’t want to join, grandfather." Masahiko frowns, taking a deep breath before he continues. He would rather disagree on a matter with Kandori than his grandfather. "He wants to use this gifts, have them be tools for profit for the Yakuza! This could get out of control once the other families get a hold of this and then ..."
Again, the interruption comes. "Did he say anything about the other families than the Yamaguchi?"
Masahiko frowns, pausing for a long moment before admitting, "Now, but it’s clear that-"
"Has he said one WORD about any other families?"
The butt of the cigarette is slowly snuffled on the tabletop. It isn’t often that the older man engages in abuses to the body, but this conversation had been draining on his seemingly limited reserves of patience. "I understand you are growing up. The girls you talked to are beautiful, capable, and talented. Both seem to have bright futures ahead of them. But whatever you’re thinking, you have to remember the truth: You need to prove you’re worth something before they give you the time of day. Once you prove yourself, a difficult feat, only then you can talk to them as an equal. But that takes strength... character... and time."
The Yakuza heir is silent, turning his head to the wall. The only words that come to his mind are disrespectful, so he keeps it to himself as Irie-sama rises slowly to walk toward his grandson.
"I understand that you did not wish to be put in this position; that you wished to live a normal life. But that is impossible now. The challenges I give are not out of spite, but because I am preparing you. Dark days are ahead and if we are not ready, the values we strive for will crumple away along with the hopes of a better Japan." A gentle hand is place on Masahiko’s shoulder, the young man’s eyes starting to water. Is it from grief? Anger? Neither grandfather nor grandson knows for sure. "I want help you in these troublesome times, Masahiko. I just ask that you trust me to see you through. I have held back my vengeance like you asked and have allowed you to handle matters that I felt better with the stick rather than the carrot. Likewise, I ask that you trust my advice in the days to come. You have done so well... but I know you can do so much more."
"I know," Masahiko agrees, lowering his head. He just wants this conversation to be over.
Awkward silence lingers for a few moments before Irie-sama squeezes his grandson’s shoulder. "I care about you greatly. I hope that you'll be able to understand that in time." The hand is pulled away as Irie-sama pulls back one step. "If you could ask your guardian to come in. I need to speak with him for a short time. If all goes well, I should be out soon and I will be able to aid you more. Until then, stay strong, my grandson." With that, Irie-sama moves toward his seat, settling into it slowly.
Giving a deep breath, Masahiko rises and makes his way out of the room, unable to make eye contact with the grandfather once. He makes his way out, only for a much older man in a well dressed suit to come in a short time later. He seems to be in his forties, younger than Irie-sama, but not young by most other standards. "I know you do not believe me, but he is going to break if this keeps up," the man admits a couple of moments later after closing the door. "He is trying so hard, but I fear it will be too much."
"Let him break. Masahiko has the blood of the Irie coursing through his veins," Irie-sama points out, looking to his cigarette box. Empty. It is crumbled and tumbles to the floor. The other man picks it up without a second thought. "If he is broken, then it will only make him stronger when he renews himself. Better it be his own flesh and blood that breaks him for his betterment, than those that would try and destroy him. If he wishes to change the world, first he must be willing to stand up to it. When that day comes," Irie-sama gives an expression. While his eyes are loving and soft, his grin is almost feral. "...he will truly be ready to surpass me. I only hope that when the time comes, all the other pieces are in place."
"But he does not wish to follow in your footsteps," comes the soft reminder.
A brief chuckle escapes his lips. "He wishes to escape who he is. To escape the blood of my hands... On his hands. He will see how pointless it is in time. All we have to do is keep him alive and away from troublesome influences. The integrity that oozes from his being will keep him loyal to me and the Yakuza." There is a short pause. "No word from that sad junkie excuse that calls herself ‘mother’?"
"Good... Continue to watch over my grandson while I am absent. Know that your diligence is a sign of a true kobun." Soon, the help is gone and Irie-sama is left alone. He has only a few moments before he has to return to his cell, but he decides to enjoy the solace for the little time he has remaining.
"So begins the first act of Masa’s jo-ha-kyu to glory... Hopefully, it will be an interesting first show of my beloved star."