'Do you know what a whitstone does to a sword?' Lady Deathstrike asks. 'Each injury the blade suffers makes it stronger... sharper than before' she announces as she runs her own razor-sharp finger-like claws against the stone. She adds that sword makers tell stories about a blade so very sharp that its edge cannot be seen by the human eye – and its power extends beyond its rightful borders. White hot liquid drips down and a blade can be seen, as Deathstrike continues, remarking that in such a way, their lives have unforeseen consequences after their deaths. 'We go on causing harm, even after our own space and time have finished'. Deathstrike deepens her touch on the blade, drawing blood and states that to use such a weapon, and to now know until too late how much damage it inflicts, is both the nature of blades... and of legacy. Deathstrike holds the blade under several men who are strung upside down from the rafters inside a gambling den of the Shukuyama-Kai in Tokyo, Japan. The men appear awake, and look terrified.
One hour ago, in Kabuchiko, the Shinjuku District, Tokyo. Rain pours down, as Deathstrike stands in front of a gambling den, two large bouncers stand before her, as she tells herself that the old man is dead, so they say. She has heard it whispered in the winesinks and whorehouses, in stews and slums, in dens of needle and smoke and spoon – the old man is dead.
She knows that they clink perspiring glasses and golden lounges and marble halls, in penthouses and private planes, in backrooms and ballrooms and boardrooms and bedrooms. 'The old man is dead... he died saving my life – or his dying saved my life, perhaps I should say. His death stripped the target from my chest – he who mocked our honor, he who carried upon his bones the divine alloy that was stolen from father and my clan' Deathstrike thinks to herself as she passes the men and enters the gambling den. She has no pity for him, but ritual and tradition must be maintained, for within hours of his death, his vaults were sacked, something sacred was taken, of which the old man was once guardian.
Deathstrike looks at several men gathered around a table. She knows the marks on the scavengers, like the stamp of a maker on a blade, and she has come to reclaim it – to cancel her debt.
'I wager... the honor blade of Clan Yashida' someone at a table deeper in the gambling den announces, holding the blade up.
While Deathstrike approaches the table, she recalls that the honor blade is said to have been forged by the sword maker Masumune, who put a sliver of his soul into each weapon he made, that the sword is the very essence of the Yashida Clan, and only the worthy may wield it. Wolverine was its custodian and champion, once.
'The honor blade of Clan Yashida is not a toy to be gambled away by Yakuza vultures!' Deathstrike declares, slamming her hand down onto the table. The men look up at her as she demands that they give her the sword. The men get to their feet and stare at Deathstrike, before bursting into laughter. One of the larger men grabs Deathstrike, and asks 'Who let you in here, eh? She's not one of your delivery girls, Himura? Manners like yours, girl, you're lucky I'm having a good night'. Deathstrike smiles and tells the larger man that she is sorry, and that she mistook him for another. 'Haha, who?' the man asks. 'A dead man!' Lady Deathstrike exclaims as she reaches forward and shoves her claws through the man's body, he then drops to the floor. 'And by the grace of the Nanite tech in my body, in my blood...' Deathstrike thinks to herself, and as the men gather around her, she tells them that they will know her as Lady Deathstrike.
Deathstrike lunges forward, and slashes past two of the men, who drop to the floor. Irezumi, go! Defend your maker!' one of the men exclaims, and three men step forward, one removes his trenchcoat, revealing a heavily tattooed body, while the other two take off their shirts, revealing their tattooed bodies also.
Deathstrike remembers the characters over the door as she entered the den, which mean Irezumi, the tattoos of the Yakuza bear. She took it for a boast, that this place was just a Yakuza bar, so once in a while, it is fun to be wrong. A large tattoo-like dragon appears in the air above and Deathstrike calls out to Himura, telling him that this is not magic, that he has tattooed his thugs with Nanite ink. Suddenly: 'Wrong, woman! We are Irezumi! - the hosts do not wield us like weapons... instead, we wear them!' the tattoo dragon declares as it lunges towards Deathstrike, who tries to fight it, but finds herself picked up by a claw. Deathstrike tells herself that the Nanites are too small, too quick, and suddenly, the Irezumi dragon snaps her back and drops her back to the ground. But Deathstrike appears unharmed, 'Oh, Reiko and your body modifications... Nanite tech is a blessing and a curse' Deathstrike thinks to herself.
'Yes... oh yes, it is' Deathstrike tells herself, standing up, ready to fight the Irezumi once more, she slices her claws across one of the mens' faces, she knows that Irezumi is not tattooed upon these men, ffor they are but hosts for Irezumi's rage. The Irezumi tattoo dragon moves closer to Deathstrike, who takes out another of the hosts. 'Once I would have said we are only as strong as out weapons... yet still we know... some wounds go deeper than the blade that made them' Deathstrike slashes the last of the hosts, who falls to the ground, and the Irezumi dragon appears to scream as it vanishes, and the remaining men in the room back towards one of the walls, as Deathstrike stands ready.
'That is the the nature of legacy, Mr Himura' Deathstrike tells Himura and the other men who are strung upside down above her. She holds the blade and declares that here is the mark of Masumune, and like the wounds she has left on the bodies of his men, like the tattoos of his enforcers, like the modifications to her own flesh. She holds the blade delicately and states that these are the seals and names and stories they bear, to show they once belonged to another. 'Himura! Himura! Are you in three? Wby didn't you answer my message?' someone asks as they enter, and walk into the room where Deathstrike has Himura and the others strung from the ceiling. 'I brought your, ha, delivery from China – for the... for the...oh God!' the man utters, going wide-eyed as he sees Himura and the others strung up, while several young girls stand behind. 'Yes, little dead man... oh, God, indeed' Deathstrike snarls upon seeing the girls.
Later, the man and his associates lay motionless on the floor, 'Drink this water' Deathstrike tells one of the girls. 'But you drowned a man in it -' the girl begins. 'Yes. What is your name?' Deathstrike interrupts. The girl introduces herself as Zhang Min from the Fengxian District in Shanghai. She reveals that she is a student, and pointing at the other girls, announces that Li Jing is a farmer, Xiu Ying was training to be a nurse, and they were taken by men in vans. She is about to say something else, but Deathstrike tells her to stop, and instructs the girls to take what they want from the tables – yen, gold, dollars, jewelry, they should stuff their pockets. Deathstrike informs the girls that she will see them to a hospital or a harbor, their choice, but no farther. 'I wish you had left that one, Himura, alive, I wish I had been the one to -' one of the girls declares. 'Li, no -' another exclaims, before Deathstrike tells the girl that she does not wish that, for her entire life would become like him, with his ghost like a stain on her soul. 'Gather your things and come with me' she tells the girls.
Okubo Hospital, Deathstrike walks out away from it, amongst the crowd, telling herself that she did what she said she would. The girls are safe, awaiting reunion with their families, and she has washed her hands of them, but other matters she cannot wash away.
Tokyo, Deathstrike walks amongst another crowd and tells herself that this fact was not hard to learn, for Wolverine was not a subtle man, and tongues wag when legends die. She adds that outside of the neon and noise, Wolverine cultivated a small cemetery here, among the pines, hidden from the city.
Akihabara, another crowd, Deathstrike walks on, '-often nothing more than empty graves and memorials to fallen comrades... but, at times, fallen enemies, too' Deathstrike tells herself, knowing that even in death, she fears that Wolverine still defines her.
Rain pours down as Deathstrike stands before a large gravestone. She tells herself that her entire life has always been defined by another, first she was her father's weapon Stryker's pupil, Spiral's experiment, Madelyne Pryor's plaything. Even Ana Cortes bought her as easily as the Yakuza bought those girls from Chinese thugs. Deathstrike knows that everything she has ever done has been in service of finding Wolverine – and killing him. But now he is dead, and not by her hand, so all the momentum of her life is gone. 'Without him to hunt, what am I to become?' Deathstrike wonders. She is curious as to why she helped those wretched girls. 'Was it recognition that those girls, too, would become playthings, scarred by the choices of another?' Deathstrike wonders, reminding herself that she has always been trapped in the web of another's legacy, stamped with the maker's mark of another's ambitions, like the tattoos on Yakuza, like the sigil on a sword. 'At last, I am free...at last, I am alone. And this damned sword is the only shred of honor I can ever restore'.
Deathstrike pulls the sword from its sheathe, and decides that, perhaps, if things had been different, Logan would have raised a memorial to her here, one day. 'If you had remained here, if you had not left such a hole in the cesspit of this underworld, those girls would not have arrived on these shores tonight'. Deathstrike places the blade on the memorial, 'You and I were ever the dark echo of the other, the incarnation of the path the other might have taken. You, too, were a killer and criminal, once. Without you, what will become of the Underworld?' Deathstrike kneels before the memorial and tells Wolverine that he died when her life was in debt to his, his work left unfinished, and that work has passed to her. 'I could be a better you than you ever were...' Deathstrike claims.
Hachiko Square, Tokyo, Deathstrike stands, claws at the ready, thinking 'Not for duty, not for legacy. For my choosing. I will be what you would not'. Deathstrike boasts that she will be the blade of her own mark and making, that she will be the trouble he was once was in the world. She looks out out over the city, with its secrets, with its violence, and its wretchedness and cruelty. 'And, oh, I know... exactly how to begin'.