Chapter Two - Late Morning Brunch Time SunThe greatest samurai in all of China.The heat of the mid-morning sun was dissipated by the towering trees of the forest and they canopy they formed over Dari Armstro's head. The sounds of birds and insects seemed to become more muted the further into the forest he went, and he could feel his keen samurai senses tingling. When he heard the sound of footsteps padding quietly - too quietly - down the dirt path he immediately jumped one hundred feet directly into up into the air and landed on a tree branch. Birds took off with a cry from their nests as if anticipating some sort of bloody samurai versus ninja duel.
Instead a man in a simple straw hat appeared on the path below Armstro, although the swords lashed to his back belied the mysterious traveler's warrior spirit. Dari waited until the man had walked past him and then jumped straight down one hundred feet without injury and even more totally awesomely, without making a single sound. The man turned slowly and calmly to face him, his jaw set and his face unreadable.
"I am Dari Armstro," said Dari Armstro, noting the crimson colored hand-guards on the man's swords.
"I am Heddiki Hakimaki," said the man quietly.
Dari Armstro knew the name well for Heddiki Hakimaki was the greatest swordsman in all of China. This was the man he must ultimately face in battle to claim the title of the greatest swordsman in all of Asia. His hand unconsciously edged towards the hilt of his katana, but he recalled his master's words as if he were having a fully visual and auditory hallucination.
"To defeat China's strongest swordsman you are not ready for," said the not-quite hallucination of Master Dung.
Dari was about to say something totally hardass like "when we meet again it will be as enemies" before jumping back up into a tree when there was a sound like a breeze which to the honed senses of a samurai sounded more like a hurricane of trouble. Both men drew their swords just as smoke exploded around them and black clad ninjas with red head bands did a whole bunch of flips and then tried to throw blinding powder in their faces.The crimson ninjas have many ninja-specific abilities.Dari cut three ninjas in half with one swing of his sword while Heddiki Hakimaki did a kick and exploded a ninja's head and then stabbed his katana through another ninja's chest and his chest exploded. Without a pause he followed through and cut the heads off two other ninjas which also exploded.
"Very impressive," commented Dari as he hacked a fourth ninja in half and blood sprayed everywhere like one of those clown heads you put on the end of a garden hose only with more nature like lotuses and cicadas.
"Look out!" shouted Heddiki as ten more ninjas flew down from the treetops on hang-gliders.
Both samurai hacked a ninja in half before they touched the ground, but as they did the remaining ninjas jumped up into the air fifty feet and formed a giant ninja with a giant sword. It took a swing at Dari but he managed to roll out of the way just in time. He moved to counterattack when thousands of shurikens came hurtling at him from even more ninjas positioned in the tops of trees. The ninjas were throwing like five hundred ninja stars a second, you couldn't even see them they were just making trees and rocks and birds explode in every direction all around the two samurai.
"I will handle our large friend," said Heddiki without looking back at Dari.
"Hmmmm!" Dari agreed and jumped into the air, deflecting ninja stars as fast as the ninjas could throw them at him which was really goddamn fast.
The ninjas were really good ninjas but they made a critical mistake. Ninjas can fly with or without hang gliders, in fact they fly faster without hang gliders but the special ninjas that form the giant ninja fly better with hang gliders. Anyway the shuriken ninjas were normal ninjas and the could have flown three hundred feet up to the very top of the trees but instead they only flew up to one hundred and fifty feet because it is really hard to throw shurikens with any accuracy outside that range. Their mistake was that every true samurai can jump up to two hundred feet in a single jump, even though samurais can't fly they jump faster than a ninja can fly so this allowed Dari to easily jump up and cut a ninja star ninja in half.
The other ninjas didn't freak out though, they all concentrated their shurikens on him. One sliced a gash in Dari's cheek and everything stopped. He glared at the ninja who had delivered the flesh wound and slowly rubbed the blood from his cheek with the back of his hand. Ninjas never make any sound under any circumstances but if they were allowed to make one sound in their entire life that ninja would pick right at that moment to say "fuck."
Dari jumped over to the branch the ninja was crouched on and in a flurry of sword swings he sliced the ninja into ninety-eight cubes and then kicked the cubes in ninety-eight different directions. He kicked them so hard that when a couple of them hit other ninjas they exploded.
Meanwhile, as Dari was finishing off the ninjas with the throwing stars, Heddiki was hacking ninjas off of the giant ninja one ninja at a time. It was down to only three ninjas in size. He delivered a spinning slash that cut the head right off of one of the remaining ninjas and the ninja's head flew all the way up to the trees and Dari saw it and kicked the ninja's head into another ninja and they both exploded and then the tree collapsed. Heddiki laughed and finished off the last two ninjas.
"You fight well," commented Heddiki as he wiped blood off his katana and sheathed it in one really cool fluid motion.
"As do you," replied Dari and then they both walked in the opposite direction without saying another word.
Are you concerned that you may be a character trapped in a Tom Waits song? Be smart and learn the warning signs before it's too late. Also, it's too late. It has always been too late.
I'm haunted by a recurring vision of a skeleton flipping me off. To avoid seeing this terrifying image in bumper sticker form, I pay someone with a blank bumper to drive in front of me at all times.
Featured articles and columns that don't fit anywhere else on Something Awful.