The Eight Sided Mirror, Part III


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Also Featuring:

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Scene Title The Eight Sided Mirror, Part III
Synopsis Stranded in the past, Hiro Nakamura finds himself drawn along on a journey with figures of history and legend.
Date May, 1670

A single, thin thread of smoke winds up over the rural hillside. A flock of white-winged gulls pass around it on their way to the coast, their cries signaling proximity to water. Lower than the treetops, the chirp of cicadas fills the air and a warm breeze winds through the sparse forest. The soft crackle of a small campfire joins the sounds of nature, along with the quiet humming of…

Aha’s, Take On Me?

Hokkaido, Japan
May 9th

“Is all music in the future complete shit?” Adam Monroe wonders aloud, seated by the fire, picking the last bits of meat off of fishbones. Opposite of him, seated on a flat rock, Hiro Nakamura wrinkles his nose and furrows his brows.

“It is classic,” Hiro says defiantly. “But, you believe me? That I am from the future?” His brows rise, thoughtfully. Adam looks down at the fish he’s mostly finished and shakes his head.

No. But what else are we going to talk about?” He says with a laconic tone. Hiro exhales a frustrated breath, slapping his hands against his knees.

“I have cell phone!” Hiro insists, holding the phone he’d used to save Kensei the night before in one hand. “It takes pictures and— and calls people. When… when the battery is not dead.” His tone drops as he speaks, a pout forming as his shoulders slouch.

Adam, disinterestedly, casts a look up to Hiro and then back down to the fishbones that he flings into the fire. “We need to get moving,” Adam says, sitting forward and then pushing himself to his feet with a wince. His legs buckle and he falls back on his ass, holding his side where he’d been shot by an arrow.

Kensei— ”

Stop calling me that,” Adam says through his teeth. “I’m fine. I’ll be fine.”

“What happened to your ability? Why can you not heal?” Hiro wonders, scooting forward and tentatively reaching out as if to offer Adam a hand, but he relents. Adam waves Hiro off, then scoots back to rest up against the tree he was leaning on earlier, wincing again.

It takes a moment before either man speaks again. But it’s Adam that breaks the silence. “That man who vanished into thin air last night? That’s Asakura Sato, an imperial samurai.” Adam checks his hand, palm red from the blood through the makeshift bandages, it’s not a good sign. “The Emperor’s witch gave him powers like me, but more than one.”

Hiro draws in a breath, “Like Sylar.

“Sure?” Adam says, looking at Hiro with a scrunched up expression. “He can teleport, he’s as strong as an ox, and he can shut off people’s gifts.” Adam says with a little grunt of discomfort. “He also holds grudges.”

“Where will we go?” Hiro wonders. Adam doesn’t have a good answer. Instead, he just stares into the fire. Lifting on hand to his forehead, Adam wipes sweat away from his brow. “You need a doctor,” Hiro insists, but Adam flippantly waves his hand and disregards Hiro’s concern.

“If we’re lucky we can steal a fishing boat,” Adam suggests. “Take it to the mainland, then stow away on a ship bound for China or… literally fucking anywhere but here.” The ease in which Adam plans on abandoning this situation draws Hiro’s immediate ire.

“These people are in danger!” Hiro protests, loudly. “You cannot abandon the— ”

“In case you haven’t bloody noticed, I’m not the hero you think I am!” Adam shouts back, straining himself and clutching his side again. He gasps in pain, then slides down away from the tree and lays back on the ground, breathing heavily. Hiro slouches back down, looking at the fire. Then grows silent. He wonders if perhaps his father was right. That the stories of Hiro’s youth were nothing more than that.


Hours Later

Night has fallen on the Hokkaido hillside. Hiro and Adam’s makeshift camp rests under glittering starlight seen through the sparse boughs of thin trees. Unable to sleep, Hiro lays on the bare earth, hands folded behind his head and gaze fixed upward at the heavens. He wonders about the stars, if they are the same ones he gazed up to as a child and dreamed about these very moments in history. He wonders about Peter, about Sylar, about Ando…

Hiro’s eyes close tightly.


Tears well up in Hiro’s eyes, his chest tightens and he covers his mouth with one hand so that he does not wake Kensei from his sleep with sobbing. But it is a distant sound of a branch snapping in the woods that startles Hiro, brings him from overwrought to concerned immediately. He holds his breath, waits and listens, and then hears more distant, crunching sounds. Slowly, Hiro rolls over and crawls over to Adam.

The man he knows as Kensei seems sound asleep, sweat glistening on his brow, eyes closed. “Kensei,” Hiro whispers, giving Adam’s shoulder a shake. But Adam does not wake up. “Kensei,” he tries again, harder this time. But still no response. “Oh no. No, no, no,” Hiro whispers, touching the back of his hand to Kensei’s brow and feeling just how hot his forehead is.

“«Stay right where you are,»” comes from the treeline, and Hiro freezes in place. He wrenches his eyes shut, tries with all his might to freeze time, but nothing happens. From the woods, two bearded men with spears emerge and close in on the camp. A third, a woman he vaguely recognizes from when he arrived, steps out after them with a sword held in both hands.

“«The Emperor’s dog,»” Yaeko says of Kensei, then points the tip of her sword to Hiro. “«Who are you?»” Hiro shakes his head, placing a hand on Adam’s chest.

“«He is sick,»” Hiro says with evident concern, “«a samurai shot him with an arrow, he has an infection. He needs a doctor!»” Hiro’s insistence elicits a curl of Yaeko’s upper lip. She motions to one of the fighters with her who lunges in and grabs Hiro by his hair and drags him off of Kensei, who does not so much as stir.

“«Please! He is not a bad man! He— »” Hiro struggles to think of something. A plan. A scheme. Then a thought crosses his mind: What would Peter Parker do?

“«He drove off Asakura!»”

Peter Parker would lie through his teeth.

Yaeko’s expression screws up, looking down at Kensei with a narrowing of her eyes. She turns her attention back up to Hiro, then advances to him and puts the tip of her sword under his chin. “«You’re lying.»”

“«No— no I saw. He fought the samurai, wounded, and the samurai fled! Vanished into thin air!»” Hiro plays up the drama of the story, his hands raised in a gesture of surrender. “«He was betrayed. He is a mercenary, he works for money. They no longer pay him, he is not your enemy!»”

Yaeko rolls her eyes and laughs, lowering the sword from Hiro’s neck. “«Then allow me to pay him in the kindness of mercy,»” she says with a raise of her sword over her head, turning it backhand to bring down into Adam’s chest.

“«Wait!»” Hiro shouts, struggling to get free of the soldier’s grip. “«He knows things, about the Emperor. His witch!»” Yaeko stops in mid thrusting-motion, hesitates, then looks from Adam to Hiro. Seeing that he has her attention, Hiro continues. “«The Emperor has a powerful witch under a spell, she can grant people— magical powers. Like Kensei’s. But they can also be taken away.»”

Yaeko pauses, then looks to her guards and then back down to Adam. “«Take them both.»” Hiro relaxes immediately, exhaling a shuddering breath as he does. “«We’ll let Umakashte decide what to do with them.»”

He had bought Kensei some time.

For now.

Ainu Camp
Hokkaido, Japan

May 10th

Nestled in the forested hills of central Hokkaido, a small village of roughly two hundred souls is all that remains of the survivors that fled the imperial massacre at the coast. Tents and yurts line the forest, small plumes of smoke coming from campfires. Young soldiers stand watch on the village perimeter, bows slung over their backs and spears in hand. Inside of one large tent, salvaged from dead imperial soldiers, an altercation takes place in the early morning hours.

“«What is your name?»”

Seated on a tree stump draped in animal hides, a broad-shouldered man with a thick white beard watches Hiro Nakamura with marked intensity. Wedged into the trunk at his side is a broad, cleaver-like sword with a leather-wrapped handle. Hiro looks at the notched blade, then up to the bearded warrior with palpable tension.

“«Hiro Nakamura,»” he explains with a deferential bow of his head. “«You…»” Hiro’s eyes search the man, making an educated guess, even if the facts don’t quite line up. “«You must be White Beard.»”

The bearded man cracks a smile, looking to the other two soldiers in the room, then back to Hiro. “«Is my name that well known?»” He wonders, resting a hand on his knee. “«You may call me Umakashte.»”

Hiro nods, swallowing down the lump of fear and bile in his throat. Umakashte motions to the soldier behind Hiro, who approaches and cuts the rope binding his wrist, allowing Hiro to move more freely. “«Tell me, Nakamura. Why is one like yourself in Hokkaido? Are you a merchant?»”

Searching the dirt in front of himself, Hiro wonders. His hands curl against his palms and he looks up to Umakashte. “«No,»” it’s a lie he couldn’t keep. “«I am… a scholar. A scribe!»” Umakashte looks Hiro up and down, and that he believes.

“«What is a scribe doing with an imperial mercenary?»” Umakashte wonders aloud, to which Hiro comes up with a snappy enough answer.

“«Takezo Kensei,»” he reinforces the name, “«is a legendary swordsman. He is no mere mercenary. I traveled far to chronicle his exploits, to record his deeds for future generations. The Emperor betrayed him and now… now he will seek to…»” Hiro’s story begins to fall apart, until. “«He will seek to bring balance to the Force?»”

Umakashte stares vacantly at Hiro, then narrows his eyes. He looks to his other comrades, then back to Hiro. “«What?»”

Hiro recovers as best as he can. “«The Emperor has a witch in his service, one that bestows mighty powers. Great magic! Kensei will take her from the Emperor, bring her…»” He looks from left to right, «here! To help your people! He is a powerful man… and he holds a grudge!»”

Umakashte bursts out laughing and slouches back into his seat, one hand resting on his stomach. “«All your great hero has done is cause the deaths of our kin and die from an arrow in his gut. There is nothing we can do for him, he will be dead by— »”

“I’m actually feeling much better,” Adam says from the doorway of Umakashte’s tent, knife in one hand held to the throat of one of White Beard’s guards. “Carp, we’re leaving.” Hiro turns, baffled, seeing Kensei in perfect health. Slowly, Umakashte rises from his seat and wrenches his cleaver from the stump, leveling a look square at Kensei.

Hiro, rising up between the two tries to mediate. “«Kensei wait!»” Hiro winks really hard at him, which confuses Kensei terribly. “«Do not destroy all of these people, do not unleash your dragon sword technique.»”

“Hiro, what the fuck are you on about let’s g— ”

“«Dragon. Sword.»” Hiro strains through his teeth, turning to look back at Umakashte. “«I was just telling Whitebeard— Umakashte— about how you were betrayed.»” He fires a quick look back to Adam, then back to the muscular Ainu leader. “«I told him that the Emperor has made a grave mistake in betraying you, and that you will now steal his witch from him and deliver her to these people, so that they may be free.»”

Adam, coming around to what’s happening, eases up his grip on the guard and testingly lowers the knife some. Umakashte sees the gesture and watches Adam, then looks down to his side where a hole is punched through his shirt, though no wound is visible. “«You live.»” Umakashte says in quiet surprise.

“«The samurai Asakura has a cursed sword,»” Kensei says casually, shoving the guard he’d held hostage inside, “«but I got better. You’re welcome to take a go at me, or maybe we can talk like civilized men.»”

Hiro, tensely standing in the middle of this, looks back and forth between them rapidly. Umakashte snorts once, then drives his cleaver into the tree stump again. “«I don’t believe you,»” he says of Kensei, “«or you,»” he adds with a motion to Hiro, “«but this is entertaining. How would you do this… deed?»”

Kensei flicks a look to Hiro who grimaces back in return and steps aside to give Kensei a clear path to Umakashte. “«Well,»” Adam starts, scanning the room with pale eyes. “«The Emperor’s witch is locked in the basement of the palace in Edo. Two ways in, two ways out. By now, Asakura has likely told the Emperor of our altercation, but it’s unlikely they’ll suspect I’m alive. This gives me the element of surprise.»”

Umakashte strokes a hand over his beard, listening to Adam. “«My ward and I,»” Adam says with a motion to Hiro, not letting him get out of this, “«will return to the mainland where we will slip undetected into the Imperial Palace, rescue the witch from her captivity, and with her powers unbidden fight out way back to you. Whereupon, I will deliver this witch to you so that you may do as you please with the Emperor and his land.»”

With a shake of his head, Umakashte laughs. “«Why?»” He asks, and Adam look to Hiro.

“«I told you,»” Hiro chimes in, «Takezo Kensei holds a grudge.»”

Umakashte laughs to himself, picking at the hairs of his beard. “«No,»” he says with a shake of his head. “«I have no guarantee you will return. For all I know, you will leave this island and flee like a coward. Safer to kill you now and send your head back with your scribe, as a warning.»”

Kensei grips the dagger in his hand tightly. But Hiro interjects. “«Then send someone with us!»” He pleads. “«The— the swordswoman! I saw her defeat Kensei in single combat. She is his equal with a blade!»” That assertion has Umakashte bellowing with laughter.

“«The swordsmith’s daughter?»” Umakashte laughs again, slapping his knee with one hand and his guards in the room join in. “«She is strong-hearted, but she is no warrior.»” Kensei makes a face at Hiro, who pushes the issue.

“«Do you trust her?»” Hiro asks, to which Umakashte considers with a roll of his eyes.

“«She is honorable,»” he concedes. “«Why?»”

“«If she is not your best warrior, then you lose nothing sending her with us.»” Hiro suggests, looking back to Adam, who absolutely does not like where this was going. It’s only now that Hiro realizes Umakashte’s assertion was //exactly what Adam wanted to do. Flee and never come back. Hiro’s mouth presses into a thin line and his face reddens with anger. “«Or would you prefer to face Kensei in combat yourself! Or are you too afraid, would you have your men slit his throat like a coward?!»”

Umakashte starts to lunge forward, then slows and stops himself. He keeps his hand cradled around the pommel of his cleaver, but deflates with a slow sigh. “«Butcher,»” he addresses Kensei. “«You will deliver to us this witch before the next full moon. Fail to return, and I will find you myself and I will kill you.»”

“You’re welcome to try,” Adam says, certain Umakashte doesn’t speak English. Hiro hisses at him to stop, and Adam rolls his eyes. “Very well— fine.” He looks to Whitebeard. “«I accept your terms.»”

Umakashte narrows his eyes and looks to one of his guards. “«Fetch me the swordmaker’s daughter.»”

Some Time Later

“«Absolutely not!»”

Standing with her back to a burning forge, Yaeko throws her arms down at her side, hands clenched into fists. “«If Umakashte wants me to babysit that foreigner he can go straight to hell!»” The two Ainu soldiers standing in the doorway of the wood-walled smithy raise their hands in both apology and uncertainty.

“«It is already decided,»” one of the warriors says apologetically. “«If you disagree, you’re welcome to take it up with him. But…»” The I wouldn’t recommend it goes unsaid. Yaeko exhales a strangled growl and turns her back on the warriors, who look to one-another and make their way out of the smithy.

Yaeko, furious, kicks over a pail of water and lets out a frustrated growl of anger. The noise draws the attention of an older, bearded man with a clean shaved scalp who emerges from behind a leather flap door. Yaeko’s father, Kado, stares in concerned silence at his daughter. Yaeko doesn’t meet his eyes, only lifts a hand to her face and rubs at her eyes.

“«This is not what it seems,»” her father suggests, looking down into the smoldering embers of the forge, approaching it with as much caution as he would his daughter. “«You know Umakashte fears you, fears your prowess. He is driving you away from here, from Shakushain.»”

Yaeko sighs, pinching the bridge of her nose with one hand before settling down on a wood bench beside the forge. “«I know,»” she whispers. “«We should have executed that foreigner when we had the chance. He killed— »”

“«We do not decide who lives and dies,»” Kado says firmly. “«If a man would throw his life away in a battle, that is one choice. But it is not our choice to kill those who cannot defend themselves, or who do not pose a threat.»” Yaeko closes her eyes and exhales a slow sigh.

“«He’s a coward.»” Yaeko insists. “«He’s a shit swordsman too, the only reason he still draws breath is that witch’s magic keeping him alive.»” Kado inclines his head in assent to her point.

“«Cowards deserve to live too,»” he says, circling the forge and stopping behind Yaeko. “«We all choose to live with our choices, Yaeko.»” Kado rests a hand on her shoulder, reassuringly. “«But there is a question you have not asked yourself.»”

Yaeko looks up to her father, the furrow in her brows showing that she doesn’t see it. Kado smiles, giving her shoulder a squeeze. “«What if a man who cannot die, was no longer a coward?»” Her dark eyes drift from his face to the glowing embers. “«What if… people were given the chance to change?»”


“I don’t know how you did it, Carp.” Adam can’t help but laugh as he walks through the village in spite of the scalding stares from the villagers and the curses muttered under their breaths. “This is the warmest reception I’ve gotten in quite some time.”

Hiro grunts angrily and steps in front of Adam, shoving him in the shoulder. “You are a bad man!” He says emphatically. “You are a coward, you are a liar, and you are a fraud!” Adam barks out a laugh, scrubbing a hand through his dirty hair.

“I thought I was the one who told you that?” Adam admits with a wry smile, only to have Hiro shove him again.

“You are squandering your power! You are invincible and you— you use it to make money!?” The indignation is palpable in Hiro’s voice. “You could be a hero and you are a coward and a thief! How are you even alive right now, I though the samurai stole your power!”

"I said he can turn them off, not steal them." Adam says with a roll of his eyes. "Keep up, will you? It's temporary, eventually whatever curse it is he lays on you lays off and… it all comes back." Adam shrugs, “As for the rest… Guilty as charged I suppose, Carp.”

Why do you keep calling me that!?” Hiro shouts, waving his hands in the air. To which Adam cracks a smile and reaches out, pinching Hiro’s cheeks with one hand.

“Because when you get mad you look like an angry little fish,” and then Adam shoves Hiro back by the face. Hiro sucks in a sharp breath, jaw clenched and hands balled into fists at his side, but before he can shout back an insult, a voice rings clear down the dirt path through the village.


Hiro turns to look and Kensei steps around him to see. Yaeko comes up the road, donned in leather armor, sword sheathed at her side. “«Are you and your servant done arguing with one-another, or should I come back later?»”

“«I’m done,»” Kensei says with a smirk, hands on his hips. “«You done,» Carp?” Hiro exhales a furious snort and says nothing. Adam takes that silence as consent and looks past Hiro to Yaeko. “«Well, Princess, I’m honored to have your company.»” She can feel the sarcasm in his tone, and as Yaeko continues her approach she shoves Kensei’s sheathed sword into his arms.

“«It’s two days on foot to the coast,»” Yaeko says forcibly, making lingering eye contact with Kensei. “«You might want to save your energy for walking, rather than shitting out your mouth.»” That harsh language has Kensei’s brows rising to his hairline, and he looks back at Hiro with a lopsided smile, but Hiro is finding no amusement in any of this. He follows Yaeko past Kensei, angrily bumping into the sellsword’s shoulder with his own as he walks.

“«Can we get my manservant some proper clothes?»” Kensei asks with a laugh at their backs. “«He looks ridiculous!»”

Hokkaido, Japan

May 10th


Seated around a crackling fire, Adam Monroe keeps his back to an old tree, nestled between a fork in its roots, feet planted firmly in the bare earth. He picks apart a piece of grass with both hands, watching the fire with unfocused eyes. Nearby, Hiro sits on the ground with his legs crossed, dressed in the dark blue kamishimo of a courtier. The Ainu had stolen the clothes from Japanese merchants killed on the coast, the thought of which left Hiro feeling discomforted at best.

Yaeko has said little in the hours since they departed the village. She now sits across the fire from Adam, her sword laid out on the ground at her side, attention likewise focused into the fire. The crackling pop of the flames joins the cicadas in their night song, and for a time Hiro feels like he’s back in his family’s home at the base of Mt. Fuji, playing in the tall grass with a wooden sword, pretending to be…

“Kensei?” Hiro asks in a quiet voice, to which Adam only responds by looking up at him. “I know you are English. But… where are you from?” Some of Hiro’s anger from before had subsided. He’s resigned himself to this current sequence of events, and feels that perhaps if he only understood Kensei better he’d be able to get through to him.

“Pass,” Adam says, throwing the piece of grass into the fire.

“But— ”

“I bloody said pass, Carp.” Adam’s tone isn’t just irritated, it’s wounded. Hiro recognizes the distance in Kensei’s posture as he sees him sit back against the tree, sees the distance in his eyes grow. He remembers that not everyone enjoys talking about their past. As memories of Ando flash through his mind, he sympathizes.

“«What about you?»” Hiro asks across the fire, and it takes a moment for Yaeko to realize he’s talking to her. She doesn’t answer at first, but Hiro persists. “«Where are you from? Hokkaido?»”

Yaeko looks down to the ground, then makes a noise in the back of her throat. “«No»” is an answer that elicits a look from Adam to Hiro to Yaeko. “«My father is from Japan,»” she says with a moment of difficulty. “«My mother is Ainu. She met my father while trading on the mainland. They fell in love and… he returned here with her.»”

Adam sits forward, forearms resting across his knees. “«That’s why old Whitebeard didn’t much like you, isn’t it?»” Yaeko looks away in response, but the pained expression on her face confirms it. “«Your people aren’t much for outsiders, are they?»”

“«You wouldn’t be either if they came for your land.»” Yaeko says through her teeth. Hiro bristles, sensing the tension and tries to defuse it some.

“«Ah, what is your mother like?»” He asks, and it’s a question and has Adam receding into himself again.

Yaeko, though, can’t help but smile fondly. “«Her name was Fusa,»” she says softly. The was makes Hiro’s heart ache. “«I don’t remember her very well. I was four when she died. My father… he speaks of her as if she was without fault. I know he loved her, deeply, and my grandfather…»” Yaeko grows quiet and shakes her head. “«The only reason my father lives with us is that my grandfather knows how much he meant to my mother.»”

Hiro nods, slowly, then looks down to his lap. “«I’m sorry,»” he concedes. The gesture has Adam briefly looking over to Hiro, then back down to his lap. “«My mother passed away when I was young, too. I don’t think my father ever got over her death. He loved her so much. And… he had to raise my sister and I. We weren’t easy children.»”

Yaeko smiles, sadly, then nods. “«You have a kind heart,»” she admits reluctantly, “«which makes it surprising you go to such lengths to protect a useless toad like Kensei.»”

“«Toads are very nice once you get to know them, I’ll have you know.»” Kensei quips over the fire without looking from his lap. Yaeko laughs at the absurdity of it, shaking her head. “«We’ve even got a story back where I come from about a princess who kisses a frog and— »”

“«Yaeko.»” Hiro just jumps in front of that before Kensei can dig himself into a deeper grave with her. “«Your father, he is a swordsmith, yes?»” Yaeko nods in response, glancing over at Kensei across the fire, then Hiro.

“«His family are all swordsmiths.»” Yaeko looks over at Hiro, then picks up her sword from the ground, showing it to him over the fire. The black scabbard, the gold accents, the symbol on the grip. Hiro’s eyes narrow in confusion and he looks to the sword Yaeko had handed Kensei earlier, it is brown leather, copper fittings. His attention snaps back to Yaeko.

“«That is your sword?»” Hiro asks. It explains why Kensei was pinned to a tree by it when he stumbled on their fight. Yaeko smiles in response, then sets it down across her lap.

“«My father’s symbol,»” Yaeko says, tapping the image on the grip. “«An old one.»”

Hiro’s dark eyes drift down to his lap, searching from side to side. He is left to wonder how accurate his knowledge of history is, how mutated the legend of Kensei must have been. How many of Kensei’s accomplishments were even Adam’s? And how many belonged to the supposed princess of the story? His mind reels.

“«Where are you from, Hiro?»” Yaeko asks, her tone softening now that they’ve all been talking some. Hiro swallows down a lump in his throat, stammers over an answer and struggles to find one. So, Kensei gives one for him.

“«Oh you’ll love this, he’s from the future.»” Adam says out the side of his mouth. Hiro flusters, worried now about damaging the flow of history. He turns to Yaeko, trying to plead his case against that story and—

— oh she’s laughing at him.

Yaeko doubles over, one hand at her stomach and a broad smile on her face. She looks up at the two, rolls her eyes and shakes her head. “«Of course,»” she says with a smile. “«Well, is the weather good tomorrow, Future Hiro?»”

Hiro smiles, awkwardly, and looks into the fire.

“«Maybe,»” he says quietly.

There’s no way to be sure.

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