This story's theme is Never Squeal by Ween.
The birds on the ground never stayed down for long. They were, at once, both peaceful and frantic. They stood with solemnity - and then, on occasion, they would peck furiously at the dirt below their talons. Their eyes never seemed to stray from the sky for too long - there was something in Heaven inviting them.
And then, all at once, their wings would rise in unison, a flurry of feathers, light and blue, before flapping off like a fan that knew no cessation - their talons would lift from the dirt with a small puff of sand and their bodies would raise gracefully into the air, and then they were long gone.
They were gone, all gone, into another plane of existence altogether.
Tao watched a bluejay fly away. He turned his head and scoffed. He was not a man concerned with nature - in his mind, he already had enough to worry about. He did not need to concern himself with a thousand other species. Humans were his principal concern, save for the occasional demon, and a bird concerned him not. Even so, as he walked away, he left a scant trace of bird food behind. A minute part of him liked to see the birds come near.
He walked away and into the vast city center, walking along the sidewalk. He was dressed in a ceremonial green gown, albeit for a ceremony that was mostly imaginary. The gown held not a single insignia and most decor was absent from the robe. He glided across the sidewalk and found an obscure, seldom noticed door to the side of the city street. After two raps on the door, the door was opened and Tao entered the uninviting domicile - he was greeted by no one, but he didn’t care.
The room was dank and dark, the air pungent with the smell of smoke. Tao hated it - to him, smoke was a hindrance. He hated cigarettes, cigars, pipes, tobacco, and all the culture that was associated with it. He needed to maintain his physical health.
“The job is done,” Tao declared, taking a seat in an old, dilapidated chair.
“You took him out?” a faceless voice asked Tao.
“If I say the job is done, the job is done,” Tao responded. Of all the times he had come to this dark house, never once had he come for the conversation.
“Very good, Tao. Very good.”
Tao nodded. He gave no indication that he had accepted the compliment, and instead sat there, waiting. He heard the man across from him pull out a brown paper bag, one that crinkled and ruffled on the way out. He threw the paper bag at Tao, who caught the bag in the air with great precision and swiftness.
Tao opened up the bag and found that a small plastic baggie, filled with a clean white powder, was inside. He was rather pleased with this, and he looked back up to the man who had offered it.
“What do you need of me now?” Tao asked the man, pulling the small plastic bag out of the larger brown one.
“There’s a rival crime syndicate on the other side of town. They’re encroaching on our territory, and we need to put a stop to that.”
Tao scoffed. “You want me to take out an entire gang of people? That will cost you far more than a bag.”
“Not the entire gang. Just a leader. This is a warning shot, so to speak.”
Tao smiled. “You want me to give them a warning?” The man nodded. “I’ll make it an extra bloody one, then. I will teach them not to come here.”
“Do as you will, Tao. But you must target one man in particular, one of their leaders. He will be wearing their insignia, a red dragon, and it will be necessary to kill him. Every afternoon, he patronizes the local coffee shop on Main Street and orders an espresso. You can find him there.”
Tao stood up, not bothering to acknowledge his acceptance of these terms. He began to turn away, toward the door, but then he turned around and refaced the man. He pulled the small baggie out of his pocket, and said to the man, “I am going to use this now.” Tao retook his seat and spilled the cocaine out on the table into five neat, although small, lines. With great haste, he used a small cylinder he found on the table to snort the lines. He stood back up, and, at last, exited the door.
Tao left the building with red, bloodshot eyes and a devilish smile on his face. He scaled up a nearby building, reaching the top in virtually no time at all. He saw a small flock of birds fly quickly over the top of him, and came to the conclusion that he would make infinitely more progress up high than down on the ground.
Tao ran to the end of the building and leaped off, crossing the gap and reaching the roof of the next building. He scanned around and determined a route to the coffee shop, before taking off once more.
As he reached his maximum speed, he found it virtually effortless to jump from building to building. With every leap, he felt the air breeze through his ponytail and across the rest of his body, and he briefly wondered how it would feel to fly. He thought about how easy it would be to learn, if he had the right master. He could ride through the air on other objects, like columns or pillars, but he knew that it was possible to learn the art of flying. He knew not a single person, though, who could accomplish it, let alone someone who could teach him to do it. Tao sometimes wished that he had attended a different martial arts school, for he knew that there was so much more to learn than what the Crane School had taught him.
It was not long before Tao reached the coffee shop. He glanced around for a man wearing apparel with a Red Dragon on it, and detected him before too long. As a precautionary measure, Tao checked to make sure that the man had, in fact, ordered an espresso. He had. Tao was ready to indulge himself by murdering this man.
Tao walked over to the criminal leader. He grabbed the man by his head and turned it around, forcefully, so that the criminal would see him. Tao spoke not a single word, but instead stared into the man’s eyes as they filled with fear. This was Tao’s favorite part - he relished the look of fright in their eyes as they realized that their execution neared.
With great force, the mercenary slapped the criminal. He went flying, eventually colliding with the wall of the nearby coffee shop. Civilians turned and stared, trying to piece together what was happening. Tao merely grinned. He walked up to the criminal, and this time took a hold of him and slammed him against the ground. He stomped on the man’s stomach, causing him to cough up blood and sputter.
“Stand up,” Tao ordered. When the man was slow to respond, Tao grabbed him and forced him onto two feet. He figured that it was not quite bloody enough yet, and that much more would have to be done. Tao grabbed him around the neck and started to choke him. The nearby civilians started to flee, none of them wanting to see what happened next.
Tao felt the man’s death approaching, and he began to feel the everlasting thrill associated with the final kill. This is what Tao lived for. However, Tao could not let the criminal die this simply. He threw the criminal up into the air, as far into the air as he could, and waited for him to come back down. In the meantime, Tao charged up a Dodon Ray. He charged it fully, and then, as the man came falling down into range, the mercenary unleashed the ray onto the man and directly hit his head.
The man’s head exploded like a pinata filled with blood. Crimson red confetti came falling down in every direction, splattering onto the sidewalk and coming within inches of the few remaining citizens. The man’s body went limp as he came back to the ground, and he collapsed back on the sidewalk as nothing more than a ragdoll.
Tao walked away. He scaled another building, and began to bounce from building to building again. What he was jumping around for, nobody would ever really knew.
- This story is exactly 1,444 words long.
- This song was inspired by Mr. Rager by Kid Cudi. The theme song is by Ween to fit in with the other stories in the collection.
- The story's exact date and time is unknown - however, it is likely that it occurred long before Tao's introduction in Dragon Ball.
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