Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Periodic Table of Yakuza

Curled against the lower corner of her airtight cell, she peered through the triple-layered glass into the wide hallway outside, and through the opposite wall's floor-to-ceiling windows at the city below. Surprisingly expensive, modern architecture for a prison, she noted for the hundredth time, but she supposed such measures were to be expected when dealing with a criminal of her caliber.

She wondered, as she had countless times before, if this entire wing had been constructed just to house her - the other ten cells in the hallway had yet to be occupied, and besides her there were only a handful of criminals for which hermetically sealed rooms like these would be a necessity.

Less than a half year before, she had been far away from this place, sitting high in her private penthouse while the yakuza bosses she had once groveled before were at long last groveling back. They had laughed, years before, when she had told them her plan - to use a kidnapped genetic scientist, already in their custody anyway, to tweak the genes of select yakuza to enhance their abilities. The fools had mockingly told her to go back to her comics and cartoons, but she had known her plan was sound and had gone ahead without approval. After a few failed experiments, the scientist successfully devised a procedure which gave his subjects limited control over specific mineral elements, and before killing him she had forced him to endow such skills to her and a handful of associates, who despite their small numbers soon became the most feared of all the world's gangs, with all lesser organizations begging in cowardice to serve.

There had been "Johnny" Kibatsu, whose power over sulphur could ignite gunpowder, causing the guns of those who threatened him to backfire, always fatally. And "Nickels" Hisashi, so named because he could kill a man with no more than the change in his pocket. Deadlier still had been "Girders" Kanzaki, who could cause an entire police station to collapse just by touching its foundations, and Shoji "The Pencil" Otomo, whose ability to cause lead poisoning had been used to carry out countless untraceable assassinations.

But she had been the deadliest of them all, which is why she was now sealed in this tiny room while they were out in the world somewhere, presumably forced to use their abilities for construction or manufacturing. None of them had been smart enough to make successful moves on their own, but even if they had, they were still too afraid of her to do anything without her blessing. It was only because she was trapped here, she reminded herself, that they were allowing themselves to become servants for government dogs, and if she could only get out than the Periodic table gang would quickly rise again.

"Well helloooo..." whistled a guard entering the room, obviously an ignorant newcomer. "So... what did a nice girl like you do to get into a place like this?"

She smiled, wearily but flirtily. "Oh, some kidnappings and a bombing..." she lied.

"That's not very nice..." winked the guard, suggestively. "But, I guess that's why you're stuck in a not-very-nice room, right?"

"I guess so," she forced a wink back.

"Well, your supper's here." He opened the airlock chamber used to transport food and silverware and placed inside a plastic tray, on which sat the flavorless noodles she had grown all too accustomed to. "You must be a damn picky eater, if this is all you want..."

"Oh yes, very picky... oh, but look. I think they forgot the salt."

The man smiled and pulled a packet out of his pocket. "Well then, aren't you lucky that I just happened to have this on me?"

She smiled as he slid the packet through the door, and turned his back to look out the window. "You know, you're quite a pretty one... not a lot like you in this prison, that's for sure..."

The silence was broken as a large blast punctured the cell's glass wall, throwing his body to the floor and his mind reeling. Behind him, the girl smiled a true smile for the first time in memory, and stepped out the broken window and over his body, her raised right fist surrounded by a whirlwind cloud of tiny salt granules. 

The guard swiveled to see this cloud growing larger and more defined, as it sucked trace amounts of the substance into it from the hall's carpets. One tiny granule scratched his cheek as it shot past, stinging him with a razor-like slash.

Suddenly panicked, he reached for his pistol, pulling it clumsily from its holster. "B... back in the cell! Get back!"

She only smiled as his hands dropped, quickly growing pale and collapsing to the ground. His eyes trembled, as all feeling vanished from his arms and legs, both drained of some forgotten but essential element. Struggling to explain what was happening, he frantically searched his mind, only to find it vanishing just as quickly as his body before it. A weak scream turned into a wheeze, and he fell to the floor, writhing chaotically.

Less than ten seconds later, his body had turned to a moist, shriveled husk, every bit of sodium in his body now part of the cloud that circled the girl. With another, larger blast, the giant windows she had looked at so longingly before shattered, and she stepped out over the city, walking on a shifting bridge of ghostly white.

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