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The Inner Man - Episode 26 - Truth

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The Inner Man – Episode 26 – Truth

Chiko took covered behind his mist shield as metal pieces flew around out of control. Red and gray smoke blew out of the wreckage of the car, as a mass of men lay dead across the school grounds while even more came charging in. Then out of the smoke a figure walked firing from it bringing down those that dare come close. Chiko released the shield, letting the mist fall away to the ground, looking to see who was the crazy idiot that was driving. As the figure exited the smoke Chiko could see that it was Mashiro, smirking, as he laid down fire against those incoming. Mashiro was holding two large automatic weapons, one in each hand, looking some hero out of the movies. Chiko grinned as he stood up to greet Mashiro.

"Got quite the party here!" Mashiro said relieved to see that Chiko was safe.

"And you know how to make an entrance," Chiko said meeting up with him.

"And you need to fill out that maid outfit of yours," Mashiro said killing several more men that got too close.

"Remind me to kick you later. We need to draw them away from the window."

"Right! You make sure they get out safely," Mashiro said.

"He's here too," Chiko said heading off to protect the ground the students were coming down at.

"Looks like this is really the end! You ready?" Mashiro said charging into the mob. 'Wouldn't want it any other way.'

Chiko started directing those on the first floor out of the room windows as Hakuro was getting the class from above out. He sent them out the hole in the wall that Mashiro had made. It was not long before more men were seen from around the corner. He handed the task off to the teachers and he charged towards the men to keep them busy. 'Let's protect them!'

'All of them! Our friends!' Kohana said.

'Right!' Chiko widened the arc on his sword to attack the swarms of men that were coming into the school grounds. There were countless men it seemed and Chiko was easily becoming surrounded trying to keep them back from windows. He did not even care at this point who was sending so many after them. All that matter now was that he held them off as long as possible.

Mashiro ran through bullets quickly as he dispatched the mobs that were attacking him. There was enough cross fire of bullets that all he could see was the red streaks passing through the air. He could barely see the ground through the thick blanket that they were creating. However, the men's fire was too erratic to actually hit him or come close to hitting him. He slowly walked forward braving the abyss opening up the front for the students to escape. Mashiro kept an eye out watching as the teachers moved carefully around signaling others to move. If he could push them back further they could get the school completely evacuated.

The Scarred Man was held down at the corner of the hallway on the second floor still defending his position. He had not been able to see the classroom where Choko Toyozama was hiding in, but they had not made a move to escape yet from what he had seen. Though he knew that with all of the fighting in the hallway that would prove difficult to escape for anyone. There had been an explosion in that direction recently that had him concerned. Unfortunately, with the number with the syndicate's men coming at them he was pinned down.

He used the cover of the corner to the stairs to the first floor to fire around. Shisa was holding those off from the stairs coming up and Kitsune was on the opposite wall firing back. They were running out of ammunition though. It was not going to be long before they had nothing left to fight back with. When they came to the school they were not planning for a full assault, even if they did gear up with more than enough to handle one person.

There was five more coming up the stairs firing without regard to their own life. They charged up in a full sprint towards Shisa missing him completely. The climb up the stairs made their aim poor and Shisa took them out easily. But two made it up to the landing where he was holding his position. They were close enough that they did not have to aim. Shisa did not wait for them to fire though as he pulled out a knife from his coat and ran them both through. The two fell over him as three more arrived at the stairs.

Shisa used the two as shields for the moment until he threw them down the stairs at the men. When they tried to move out of the way to block the incoming bodies Shisa drew up his gun taking all three down. He verified that there was no one coming and diverted his attention up to the top. "Kitsune! Here!"

Kitsune looked over as he saw new clips flying through the air, enough to keep them going for a while more. He passed a couple off to the Scarred Man as he reloaded. Shisa had pulled them off the two he had killed before throwing them away. There was plenty of ammunition laying on the ground, even if most of it was out of reach. "We can't hold them off forever!" Shisa said firing once again.

"It doesn't have to be forever, only until they are all dead!" Kitsune said firing from his reloaded gun.

"Easier, said then done. They just keep coming!"

"Giving up already? I thought you were more stubborn than that!"

"Tch. Shut up, Kitsune. I'll out last you!"

Kitsune smirked to himself as he continued firing at those in the hallway.

Chiko was holding them off the best he could, but he was starting to feel fatigue creeping across him again. It was becoming more difficult for him to swing the sword and summon up the strength to use any of the abilities. He had hoped that he would have been able to last longer, but it was quickly coming to an end for him. There were still too many of them that they would overwhelm the students easily.

All around Chiko there was dead bodies forming a buffer between those that continued to come and himself. The buffer was not enough to keep them from coming though as they simply stepped over the bodies. He was creating a mound almost, but he continued to back up further now needing more room to act each time. He had to switch to the mist again to block the bullets and then quickly back to the sword for those that were coming too close to him. They were taking advantage of his weaknesses; the switching was straining his mind to its limit. 'Is this it? To die at the hands of the nameless mob of men.'

There was a gap in the fighting that Chiko used to gather up his strength. He needed to know how much time he had left. His sword glowed purple again as the mist gathered together around it thickening. The sword grew in length becoming longer than he was tall piercing the ground. It continued to dig into the ground cracking the earth above. He was out of time though as there was weapons fire again hitting across the wall he was against. Chiko ripped the sword up out of the ground throwing debris into the air as he swung the sword wide.

All of the mist gathered flew out in an arc into the ground exploding around him creating a huge wall of smoke from the dirt brought up. The resulting shockwave from the impact blew men away from the area against the gate walls unable to move. It continued as the sword shrank back to normal size and Chiko ran over to Hakuro. She was helping out the teachers calling the students out of the windows from the first floor. Though Chiko was more worried about the second floor and if anymore had been evacuated from the school.

"Keep going! Stop crying and get moving now!" Hakuro shouted out. "It's just a bruise, get going!"

"How many classrooms are left?" Chiko said.

"Most of the first floor is cleared out now. All of them are still fighting up stairs and don't seem to care too much about us on the first floor. However, the teachers are still trying to get students out of the second floor classrooms. Most of classes on this side are getting out, but no one can get to those on the opposite side."

"Once you get everyone clear, I will see about making a path," Chiko said running back to his position. The smoke was beginning to clear and those that were not killed by his attack were storming over the small trench he made. Chiko ran towards the men feeling his legs weakening. He took another step and his leg collapsed underneath him sending sliding across the ground. His body would not even move as he could hear the footsteps getting closer to him. 'Not now, I can't quit now…'

Mashiro managed to push back the men to around the school. Though as he looked back for a moment to see the students getting out safely, the view was horrific. It was a school and yet it looked more like a battlefield, a stage of a war taking place. There was death everywhere with black covering the ground like some poison. Mashiro turned back to take a few more men that got to close. However, he had run out of bullet from the two weapons he had been carrying around with him. They were heavy to wield, but effective against these large numbers.

He was forced to drop them from smaller handguns that made his task more difficult now. Since he had taken the corner of the school though, it gave him cover. Mashiro fired carefully at those that came too close to him. He picked them off one at a time, but he knew that his ammunition would not last forever. It was not long before he was reloading his gun. The numbers seemed to be thinning out a little, but it was still chaos around the school.

There was suddenly fire coming from behind him as the brick started to chip away from gunfire. He looked around to find no one on the ground it was quiet with death. However, the gunfire still continued becoming closer forcing him to move. It was then that he realized through all of the noise that it was a helicopter from above. They already had several in the air that he had not noticed the difference. It was getting closer to the ground as four men slid down on rope firing at him.

Mashiro was getting surrounded from around the corner by the masses. He was losing ground and he nowhere to hide. Mashiro rolled across the ground avoiding the streams of bullets that raked across the ground from above. The men on the ground fired at him too close of range for him to avoid. He pulled up a body of someone dead to take the hail of bullets coming at him. While lying on the ground behind the body he took aim.

It was all the time he needed and fired a round out of the gun piercing the helicopter's window taking out the pilot. The helicopter began to fall from the air. It came to a crash just at the edge of the school gate outside. The explosion broke through the brick wall sending debris flying at deadly speeds towards them. The shards ran through several men while the others were taken back for a moment.

Mashiro threw the body up into the air taking down a few when it landed. They were quickly getting up recovering from the shock, but Mashiro was already standing up ready to take them. He retreated his gun up the coat sleeves of his long jacket as he let several knives fall into his hands. "Ready to dance?"

He raised his arms crossing them for a moment as all of the men began to train their weapons on him. The knives flew out of his fingers; the wires attached to them gleamed in the high sun. He flicked his fingers and started the knives in a spiral motion. The blades cut cross fingers and hands, not severing, but raking across. They were all quickly dropping their weapons in pain, no longer able to hold them. The men completely surrounded him with the knives arching around his body cutting through the men quickly. Blood trailed into the air with streams following the knives as they found a new target to drag across. Men began to drop to the ground, necks sliced open and blood dripping everywhere across the ground. The last few collapsed to the ground and Mashiro pulled the knives back. He retracted them back pulling his gun out again resuming his position at the corner to hold them off. "A little longer. I hope Chiko is doing alright."

'Come on legs move! Almost there…' Chiko strained at his limbs to get them to budge, but he could barely even feel his feet through the pain that he was feeling across his body. He looked as his sword started to break down into particles of mist that blew away in the wind. He returned to his school uniform as his clothes blew away as well. There was nothing in him anymore, not even the mental strength to maintain the transformation. 'No, this can't be it!'

Chiko tried to get his hand to move, just a sign that he still had something left in him. Yet it did not even flinch and the men were approaching. They were cautious knowing the strength that he had shown earlier. It was an ominous end seeing those that would kill him step closer. One of them fired a few rounds nearby Chiko to see if he would move. Chiko could not even get his body moving in fright or fear of dying. He was empty.

They all looked at each other quickly deciding that it was over for Chiko. He was surrounded suddenly by all of them with weapons pointed down at him. 'A little overkill isn't this?' Chiko barely managed the will to close his eyes so that he did not have to see. He could hear all of the guns clicking, being readied. The moment was upon him now, though not how he had hoped. So unsatisfying for him knowing that it was over. He was not able to know that everyone was able to make it out safely. He would not able to see Sakura and say goodbye to her. He could not even give Mashiro one last kick in the shins. 'Mashiro…'

'Don't give up yet, Chiko!' Kohana shouted. He could not hear anything more as all of the guns opened fire on him. The sounds of gunfire bled, melded, and blended together into a single sound that ripped through the school grounds. Everything else went mute for the instant. Chiko could not feel anything anymore, he did not even know if he was dying or still alive. His mind went blank.

Suddenly out of the smoke of the gunfire exploded light that sent everyone around him flying backwards. From the smoke burst a red light that lashed out crumbling the weakened wall nearby. The wind wrapped around Chiko's body as he stood up, his appearance changed barely becoming noticeable through the dust cloud. As the wind broke free from Chiko it could be seen that he was wearing Kohana's transformation costume. Kohana had awakened taking over for Chiko, who was resting now.

'Don't worry Chiko, they'll all get out safe. I'll make sure that you see them again.'

The men slowly pulled themselves up off the ground looking at Kohana confused. "What's this?"

"The girl looks different now."

Kohana forewent the proper order and changed her rod into a whip. She flung the whip out having it split into several ribbons that lashed out to the guns. She pulled all the guns out of their hands throwing them against the wall. However, they all had another gun that they pulled out opening fire on her immediately. But she released her whip into hearts making a barrier between her stopping all of the bullets.

She looked to see that her arm was shaking. 'You really push the body to the limits. Even with a new mental strength, I don't know how long I can last in this shape.' Kohana released the hearts sending them outwards at the men surrounding them. The hearts blew around the men until they began to clump together. Each heart linked with another forming a ribbon around the men tightening against them until they could no longer move.

Kohana ran to where Chiko had been holding them off. There was still more coming just as many as before. She grabbed their attention forcing them to stop making her an easy target for them. When they opened fire on her more hearts spread out from her rod deflecting the bullets away. A few of them returned back to the men for which she wrenched her eyes, but held her determination.

'You can't beat them by only holding a defense,' Chiko said.

'I can't kill them. It goes against my nature.'

'But if you stay there you're going to surrounded.'

'I just have to hold them long enough that students can get to safety. I can manage that. I'll not kill any of them.'

'You're too soft. They won't show you such kindness.'

'Maybe so, but this is how I fight.'

'If you aren't going to kill them, I'll take over.' Chiko tried to get out of his mind and retake control over the body. However, Kohana threw him back easily. He did not have any strength mentally to fight her. 'Kohana!'

'You need to rest. I can't let you free until you can recover.'

'But you'll get yourself killed!'

'Have faith in me.'

'That's not what I'm worried about!'

'It's alright, Chiko. This is not the end, not yet.'

The hearts continued to fall over the area confusing the men as they fired futilely at her. As the hearts fell to the ground they picked back up cycling around keeping a perpetual shower going. She was thankful that she did not need much physical strength to keep this going. The body was barely responding to her. If she actually had to fight it would have been fatal for her.

Mr. Winter and Mr. Autumn sat upon the roof of a three-story building a few blocks away from the school. It gave them a perfect view of the spectacle that was laid out before them. Mr. Autumn allowed himself a small smirk admiring the view of gunfire and frantic efforts of Mashiro and Kohana to hold back the overwhelming numbers. Mr. Autumn looked back at Mr. Winter who sat on a ventilation exhaust rather than the ledge.

"It is beautiful view, isn't," Mr. Autumn said.

"Yes, it is. The puppets dance so well."

"To think they don't even need strings anymore."

"They fight so bravely completely clueless."

"They are but puppets, what can you expect?"

"Quite right."

Kitsune could see the men getting closer to them. The gap was reducing tightening around them. This hallway was making it difficult for them to control the fight with all of the doorways and rooms. The only advantage that they had was the mound of dead that was slowing them down. However, they had begun to use the dead as shields, making even more difficult to kill them. He was being forced into close combat at times when they got too close.

"This is not going well, sir!"

"Don't get distracted," the Scarred Man said.

"But they just keep coming!" Shisa shouted.

"Confirm that Chiko Toyozama is still in that classroom, Kitsune."

"It's halfway down that hall!"

"Did I give you a choice?"

Kitsune looked away biting his lip. He put his gun away and pulled out a sword from inside his suit. The sheath was poking a little out of his suit as he drew his sword. The blade of the katana gleamed in the sun from window next to him. A man hauling the dead was approaching giving him an opening to start. Kitsune dashed forward cutting dead and man as one still continuing through.

He dodged and weaved between those that charged after him. They could not get an aim on him in time before he was already swiping his sword across them. The men were dropping one by one in a trail of blood that dripped off the red glowing blade. Out of the corner of his eye he could see children to his left while the rooms on the right were empty. It had him concerned, but he pushed on through masses. Behind him the recently dead spread their blood across the fallen.

Kitsune reached the classroom to find it empty. He stood inside it to see the entire wall removed and the wind blowing through freely. "He's gone and so is everyone else." He walked over to the edge of the floor where the wall would have been. Outside he could see in the distance the children across the street. It was clear to him now that they had escaped with the rest of the children. He preferred it this way though, killing children was not something that he relished.

It was decided now, they would need to retreat and find him. Kitsune left the classroom and ran through the hall back to stairs. There was still men shooting behind him, but they were not able to hit him. "Chiko Toyozama is gone," Kitsune said when he returned to the stairs taking up the corner he had before. "The entire classroom evacuated the school. I don't know where he is now."

"Very well then. Pull back to the first floor. We'll search the school grounds."

Mashiro had the men on his side held back for the moment. Though there were signs that it was starting to clear out somewhat. He was not seeing as many men coming at him. The pile of dead was making it difficult for those that continued to charge at him only make it easier to kill them. There was a blanket of black lying across the ground in crimson spots.

He looked back to see all of the students finishing up crossing the ground. This meant that he could change his tactics now from having to defend. He waited until the last student was out of the school grounds to stop holding them back. Mashiro pulled back from the corner and made his way to the school. There was unfinished business that he had to attend to now that the children were safe.

Mashiro fought his way through to the stairs taking out the few men that were around the entrance. The numbers were thinning out from earlier. It seemed crazy to think that they would from the endless streams that seemed to come after him. He hoped that the Scarred Man was still on the second floor where Chiko had left him. It was his only clue to go on at the moment, but he would kill anyone that stood in his way.

When he reached the top floor he found that the men were running down to the end of the hallway. They seemed to be distracted by something, his guess would have been the Scarred Man. If the Scarred Man were giving the orders here he would be directing them through the school. He would have to fight through all of his men to get to him, but Mashiro did not care. However, as he ran across the first room his glance saw that there was still students left behind.

Mashiro walked into the classroom confused and frightening the children with the blood that was covering him. "What's going on? I thought all of the students were evacuated!"

"Stay back!" the teacher said standing up in front of the students putting himself between Mashiro and the rest. "Why are you here fighting?" The teacher was shaking while trying to appear brave.

"Listen, I'm not with them. I'm on your side. You were supposed to be evacuated."

"We couldn't get out of the room with all of the fighting in the hall."

"Fighting? Who was fighting in the hall?"

"We don't know all of those men were going after someone. They were all dying. There was no way to get across."

"I see, strange. Either way, it is clear now. Get into the hallway. I'll make sure that you get out safely."


Mashiro turned walking out of the classroom only to get a bullet across his shoulder. The bullet only grazed him, but he quickly took out the man that was in front of him with his knife. The blade was piercing his neck before the man could fire another round. He dropped to the ground as several more appeared. Mashiro took them out quickly knowing that he had to keep them from the students. The rest of the hall was clear, but he did not know how the ground was.

"Take the hall to the back and escape there. Get the rest of the classes with you." He knew that Chiko was guarding that side; if there were more students leaving he would be able to keep them safe. Mashiro stood in the hallway eying the stairs for anyone that might come. There were fewer coming up though, but he knew that there was still plenty around. It did not sit well with him how they were acting. This did not matter though as he realized, so long as the children got out safely. Nothing could be done until they were all out safely.

A couple more men arrived only to be shot down the stairs before they made it up. Mashiro watched the classroom empty behind him. All of the classrooms were moving at once making it difficult for them to get out. He knew it could not be helped. 'A little more…' Mashiro kept his back to the students retreating as the classes were finished. It was almost over as a few more men arrived. They were firing wildly forcing Mashiro to take a shot for one of the students. The bullet ran through his shoulder as he took the three out.

He leaned his side against the wall for a moment dripping blood down the wall holding his shoulder. There was a little pain, but the adrenaline pumping through him was making it feel like a bee sting. He continued to watch the students.

Kohana saw even more students exiting out of the school from the emergency door. She had thought all of them had escaped. The moment had allowed the barrier to drop for a second. A hail of bullets ripped through her clothes. She felt the sting across her body, but she quickly put the barrier back up. However, there were men coming in from behind now. Bullets were flying at her from behind across the students. She moved quickly to the path that they were taken extending the hearts over the entire area creating a tunnel to the sidewalk.

"Hurry, there is not much time!" she shouted. She was expanding them to the limit of her capabilities forcing her mind to the breaking point to create enough. It was not going to last long like this. She could hear the bullets hitting the barrier and bouncing off. There was not much time left and so many of the students were left.

Kohana watched the endless stream of students pouring out of the school. Her body was sweating from the strain that she was placing on it. She could feel parts of the tunnel weakening. Some of the bullets were making it through frightening the students. "Don't stop. It won't last!" The teachers pushed the students along as the last few ran through the tunnel. The tunnel was collapsing at this point leaving whole gaps. Kohana refocused her effort to the end so that the children could make it out.

All of the students were free now and she let the barrier down leaving a small shield by her. Her mind was exhausted. She did not know much longer she would last. The men were still coming in their masses. Kohana slowly walked forward feeling her body protesting still. There was little left in her anymore.

Mashiro looked out the window to see that they had made it out safely. He turned his focus back to the original goal in mind. Mashiro ran to the first floor stairs knowing that the Scarred Man was no longer on the second floor. He ran to the stairs when suddenly heard the sound of a gun. The impact knocked him back against the wall. The bullet had gone through his arm, the same one that already had the injured shoulder. He did not care as much, but blood was dripping down his arm. It was difficult to move. Another bullet smashed into the wall near to his head.

He looked up at the direction of the gunfire to see a trench coat figure at the top of the stairs that led to the roof. The light at the top was making it difficult for him to make out who it was, but they slowly approached a few steps more. "Well, well if it isn't Mashiro. What are you doing here? You're supposed to be dead."

'That voice…I know that voice…' Mashiro looked carefully trying to filter through the light to see whom it was. He still could not see their face, but they approached closer still. His arm would barely move that was still holding the gun. Whoever it was, approached still not caring.

"Well no matter, you will be soon enough," the man said with a smirk raising his gun again. Mashiro watched the man aim and dodged out of the way as he fired at him. He returned to his feet holding his injured arm up with the gun in hand. His arm was shaking from the pain and blood loss. "Still able to move and hold a gun with that injury. You are definitely one of a kind, Mashiro. It's a shame that I have to kill you. You were such a good agent too."

Mashiro's eyes became wide in realization. He knew who it was at that point. "Director Shinzaburo…"

"I'm glad you remembered. It has been a while."

Mashiro stepped out in the middle of the stairs to face him directly. "What are you doing here? Come to kill Chiko?"

"Mr. Toyozama? That child is of no interest to us anymore."

"If that's the case why are you here?"

"Tying up loose ends."

"That's a lot of men for a loose end."

"It's very important. But enough talk, you're in the way." Shinzaburo fired another round from his gun, but Mashiro avoid it. "You're quick, but you can't dodge bullets forever."

"Why did you betray the government? Why did you sell your soul to the syndicate?"

"You misunderstand. I didn't sell my soul at all. I never worked for the government to begin with."

"What?! You mean you're part of The Awaking Dragons!"

"Exactly. Where better than to hide within corruption."

"It was all a front, a cover? For what? Why did you go through all that trouble? What could you possibly gain?"

"I think that's enough for you two coins for the ferryman." Shinzaburo fired several more bullets from his gun at Mashiro missing each time, but last. The last bullet ate through is leg. Mashiro knelt down to one knee in pain as Shinzaburo stepped closer. His leg was bleeding across the tiled stairs. Mashiro looked up at Shinzaburo holding his gun at his forehead. "Give my regards to Rachel."

"Burn with Iwao in he-" Mashiro smirked.

"Gagh!" Shinzaburo gasped loudly as he was suddenly strangled by wire from Mashiro's throwing knives. The force of the knives stuck into the ceiling above dangling Shinzaburo's body from the wire. Several knives had been quickly unleashed from Mashiro's good arm as he waited for the perfect moment for Shinzaburo to step close enough. He had drawn him in with a feint.

Shinzaburo was strung up by several wires barely supporting him so that he did not choke to death. Mashiro was holding on the wires with his hand as he looked up at Shinzaburo trying to struggle out of the trap. Shinzaburo could not say anything even though he looked like he wanted too. Mashiro smirked once more looking up at him and then released all of the wires from his fingers. His body was freed and the initial wire around his neck strangled him immediately with the weight of his body pulling down. Mashiro retracted the knives back to his hands.

The Scarred Man walked through the first floor hallway taking out a few of the men that still approached him. The numbers were thinning out heavily, but there was still no sign of Chiko Toyozama. They quickly made their way towards the front entrance finding the entire school abandon of children now. He did not care about children getting in his way, but it did simplify matters for him.

Suddenly there was a new swarm of men coming in from a classroom filling the hallway. It divided Kitsune and Shisa from him. They were all too close that he had to deal with him physically before they could fire at him. He could see Kitsune swinging his sword to cut down the numbers and reach him while Shisa fired at a distance. The Scarred Man quickly took down a few of the men around him with a kick. There was far more left than he realized.

"Where are they coming from?" Shisa shouted shooting two more down. "How can they have so many left still?"

"Does it really matter? They need to die!" Kitsune said slashing his katana through three men.

"We go separate ways now. Look for Chiko Toyozama," the Scarred Man said. He drew off a group of the men after him running down the hall towards the stairs to the second floor. At the bottom of the stairs he stopped letting the men catch up to him. He fired a couple of rounds out of his gun before being forced to fight with them again. However, as he was about to snap the neck of one of them a body came rolling down the stairs breaking his grip. The Scarred Man immediately turned his gun up stairs firing once in the direction. His shot missed the person that threw the body, but it did kill someone that about to attack the man. The person that threw the body looked down the stairs at him and they quickly came to the realization.

"Its you!" they both said. Mashiro was standing at the top of the stairs staring down at the Scarred Man. They both aimed their guns at each other firing. The bullets missed the intended targets, but as they dodged out of the way others came into line taking the shots. The two continued firing and missing at one another until they were forced to focused their efforts back on those they were fighting.

The Doctor continued to work through distraction to find what they were looking for. He was continuing to monitor Chiko's life signs watching the changes that occurred. He knew that all he could do was watch and keep trying to break through, but he wished that there were something more. The weakening in Chiko's signals was worrying him.

However, he was getting close to breaking through the network. It had seemed that the back door that he was looking for in the government network was leading to results. He had managed to get closer to the syndicate than he had in the last week. It was still only coming up with weak results that did not have any significance to the answers that they were seeking, but he was closer.

"Just one more to go. Almost there." The final barrier that he needed to get through was almost cracked. It would not be long before he would have access to everything that he needed. After a few moments the computer beeped to him signaling that it was done. The entire network opened up to him with a mass of windows flying up on the screen. All of his search programs started running scanning for the information that he was looking for. There was no time to waste.

While his computer ran its own searches that he set up he looked through manually. He flipped through pages and windows of meaningless data until something came up. It was the piece that he was looking for. His eyes scanned over the text checking with others for verification. "It can't be…if this is true…"

Kohana managed to escape the men that were chasing her by hiding in one of the classrooms on the first floor. It had given her the moment to recover herself. Her body was still sore and barely moving from the torture that Chiko put it through. As she caught her breath she could hear a pair of footstep in the hall. She pulled herself back up so that she was ready for whomever it was that came.

'You can't last much longer at this rate,' Chiko said.

'Doesn't matter. I have to until you can take over.'

'But our body can barely even move.'

'It'll all work out in the end.'

'Let me take over now. You need to rest.'

'No, you need more time. You need to be at your best if you're going to help Mashiro.'

'What are you talking about?'

'I can read your mind. You're planning on helping Mashiro fight those three. If you do it now you'll die.'


Kohana dusted herself off barely able to feel the touch of her fingers. She gripped her rod tightly as she saw the two men pass by the doorway. Her eyes widened quickly when she saw who it was. It was those two from before. They were the ones with that Scarred Man that was after Chiko. But they did not seem to see her as they ran past the door. Kohana slowly walked away from the sight of the door to the opposite wall of the classroom.

"What is it, Kitsune?" Shisa said. Kitsune had stopped suddenly looking back behind him. There were several men coming after them still, but Shisa shot them down as Kitsune stood there. Shisa walked up to him touching his shoulder trying to get a response out of him.

"I saw something, familiar, I think."


Kitsune looked around the hall trying to figure out what it was. He started to walk slowly through hallway searching the rooms to confirm what his mind was telling him. Shisa followed up behind him confused, but not questioning him. "There was something I saw. It was only for a second, but I know it was important."

"Let's look around the classrooms, probably where you saw it."

"Yeah…" They threw open the doors looking through the rooms while Kohana hid in the corner hoping that they would not find her. She knew her own weakness. She only needed to buy time enough. The sounds of them coming closer again worried her. They had spotted her and were coming back she knew. Her hand tightened its grasp on the rod preparing for the fight that was to come.

Kitsune and Shisa approached the room where Kohana was hiding and threw the door open completely. They looked around quickly seeing Kohana standing up in the corner looking brave. The two stepped into the classroom together looking across at her. Kitsune drew out his sword letting the light from outside glow across the blade. Shisa took another step away with his gun in hand.

"So we've found you at last Chiko Toyozama," Kitsune said.

Kohana put her rod up in front of her preparing herself. She watched the two of them with uncertainty. There was enough in her for a little more, but these two were far better than the endless mobs that she had been holding off before. She could not hold herself back against him and hope to survive.

"You look different from the last time," Shisa said smirking to himself. "Killing children is not something I enjoy, but seeing as you aren't then I shouldn't have to hold back."

"Don't get cocky, Shisa. He's not to be underestimated."

"I know."

'Let me fight them, Kohana.'

'No, you need to rest. I'm not completely out of tricks just yet.'

Kitsune and Shisa stood off against Kohana while the Scarred Man and Mashiro was a stairwell away fighting to get to each other. All of them knew that this was the moment that everything would be settled once and for all.

Preview for the next episode:

"Not a lot for me to say at this point," Chiko says.

"We have our battles laid out, just time to settle things now."

"Yeah, you better survive. I won't have anyone to kick if you're dead."

"You don't die either. I won't have anyone to tease."

"You won't see me dying before you."

"Yeah, you're too stubborn to die."

"You can't lose, not with the powers I gave you!" the Doctor chimes in with.

"Ugh...actually it maybe more peaceful," Chiko says.

"Not before more. I have to hear his voice every hour of the day while you're at school. At least you're safe for most of the day."

"And who has to be his dress up doll every night when I come home."

"I have to kick him out of MY kitchen every night."

"I have to rip him off MY face every night!"

"Well I have to-"

"Hey, hey you two. You don't need to fight!" the Doctor says.


"You thinking..."


"W-w-why are you looking at me like that..."

"Ahem..." Kohana says, "The final episode of the Inner Man, Ultimatum. When the dust settles who will be left standing. Chiko and Mashiro stared down death again with the Scarred Man and his two henchmen. What will become of the school, will the syndicate still hunt them down, and will Chiko ever know what it means to be an eight-year old girl?"

"H-help me!" the Doctor says.

"Me know what it’s like...yeah better not miss it! I'll be doing the kicking, you know you won't want to miss that! Tee hee!"

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