Few care for the sons and daughters of prostitutes, and even less for their names, but today I am known as Sayuri Toshiya Senkai. As one such child, spat into the world from some back alley off Honshi Market, my future was bleak. I would run between the bustling stalls, picking from them here and there as children in the country might pluck apples. Small hands and quick feet make excellent thieves, and as the smallest and fastest of them all, I thought myself queen of the world; as a spider may see its web as the universe until a bird swoops and, in a flash, it is gone. Fortunately, the bird that caught me was not hungry.
His name was Hanzu Toshiya, and as I reached for his pocket, his hand caught mine. I was fast, but he was faster, and within moments my face was in the mud. When he turned me over I looked into a face from nightmare: a horned bone-white mask; its mouth at once frowning and mocking; angles jagged and its cheeks hollow; eyes narrow slits betraying only the cold glint of two jet-black eyes. Hanzu judged me that day, in the cold rain, but did not find me wanting. Where many would have seen destitute failure, a shriveled child with no past, present, or future, he saw potential. With my life in his hands, he took me home, fed me, and put me to work.
My benefactor was an enforcer of the notorious Senkai family and known to some as “The Honshi Ghost”, a name I had heard uttered only in whispers. I was to be his assistant. He was skilled, the best at his trade, but there are always places where only children can go, and tales only children can tell. I would lure the unsuspecting, and observe the vigilant, determining the time to strike and sealing the fate of countless victims whose lives had come to be inconvenient. In time I learned Hanzu’s trade, both by watching and through deliberate lessons, and so by the age of 16 I had become his unofficial partner; working alongside him, and even earning a cut of the pay. Unfortunately, this would not last for long.
One night, as the rain drummed down against the corrugated steel rooftops of the Datsuo district, a job went bad. We should have known they knew we were coming, all the signs were there: the shady figures that watched us from the shadows even as we moved among them; the way the target walked, sure of himself and almost cocky; the glint of his smile as we descended into a carefully laid trap. That much, we could have handled, but we never saw the combustion bender beneath his cloak and through the torrential downpour. It was thanks to him that the world suddenly exploded, and Hanzu was just as suddenly gone; the remains of his body scattered among the bits of rock and twisted metal that had once been a side-street. Rage filled me, worse than ever before, and when the target let his guard down I dragged my cold steel across his throat, savoring the pain and surprise. We may not have anticipated the bender, but they had not anticipated me either, and with their employer dead the rest of his guard ran. The Honshi Ghost had returned from the dead to kill his mark, or so they thought. As I retrieved his mask, and from that day forward, I became Hanzu Toshiya.
Among Toshiya’s things I found a letter, a will of sorts, and to my surprise it had one stipulation. On the event of his death, I was to be unconditionally accepted as a member of the Senkai. The document held no real legality, but the underworld runs by its own rules, and when I delivered it alongside the head of Hanzu’s last mark there were few questions to ask. In time that single head was accompanied by others, first that of the murderous combustion bender, and later those of anyone the family needed removing. I took on Hanzu’s last name, as I had none, and for all intents and purposes he was replaced in the eyes of the family, though in the eyes of one among them I was something more.
(Juniper’s character) obsessed over me, and as a prominent member of the family, I could hardly ignore him. To say that I liked him, or even still like him, would be an overstatement, but he was a member of the inner circle; the grandson of the founder’s right hand man. I tried to resist his advances, but he ignored them, and so I came to look on the bright side. I had begun life in the gutter as a scrap of being barely worth a single Yuan, a parasite with no prospects, but through this man I could become a member of the single most powerful crime dynasty in the United Republics. The choice was simple.
Within a year we were married and I was pregnant with the first of two children. My new status seemed to come with the assumption that I would put aside the mask and blade in favor of my maternal duties. Had I truly loved my husband’s children, I may have done just that, but I have never been able to bring myself to look at them with anything more than disgust. I will only love one person as my child, and that is the man or woman who takes up the tools I must inevitably set down. My son is too ambitious to take on the role of Hanzu Toshiya, and my daughter has already shown herself to be immature, disrespectful, and senseless. Perhaps I am a fool to look among my real family for a successor, and the answer lies in my own past. Perhaps I will find him, or her, among the same stalls I once robbed, and continue the legacy of the only man I ever truly loved.