Demons of the Past
Chapter I - Recollections
Spring, the time when the world is reborn. Only the small assembly was not gathered in the beautiful garden to celebrate the grand renaissance.
Among blossoming cherry trees, most of them members of a fighting force, solemnly bent their heads at the chanting of priests over a sealed coffin, for its possessor was no longer of a presentable state. The calm ambience seemed to enshroud everything in an effort to suppress the disharmony of the event but all it tried, neither could it touch the dreary faces.
As the funeral ended and the military salutation was addressed, when the time came for the last farewells, first walked Sato Nakaraki, wearing his official uniform of his newly gained rank. The venerable man knelt over the coffin in respect and lisping a farewell prayer, he placed his offer and left. More of the M.F.E. members approached and left their offerings after him. Jin Kazama was the last to walk to the coffin. Leaving the side of his grandfather, Heihachi, the great Mishima, he walked ahead. He kneeled and closed his eyes as he prayed. Then as he left his offer and stepped back, the priests bided farewell and the coffin was set on fire.
'Takashi... I should have known... I blame only myself for your untimely death...'
Each step he took echoed sharply in the empty corridor. His heart was heavy with affliction, so heavy it sunk down to his stomach as he walked on.
'...Toshin didn't want you... not you... but why?
Why didn't he come for me?'
The big polished wooden door with the rectangular patterns didn't resist as he pushed one flap away. For a little, he halted regarding the broad dark room before making hesitant steps inside. Soon his eyes were accustomed to the darkness and what little light the closed windows allowed. All around the length of the room, upon the walls, shelves of tomes and above the libraries or between them, pictures. He could see the glossy reflection of their glasses but the people behind them were unseen...
The forbidden room was dead.
Dead like the people in the pictures, dead like the one with whom the secret of the trespassing he had shared.
A word so horrible and it rung clearly in his mind. Especially when the death he knew was a living one...
He could sense the Death living in this room... A state of nothingness, breathing so silently it could only be assumed but not denied. Death was suppression of one's being... a load so heavy, a silence so loud it drowns the scream...
'You shouldn't be in this room...'
It was Takashi's voice he had in his mind. It echoed vividly in his memory but empty as the hollow he was now lost into.
'It wasn't exactly locked...' he had replied and he walked on, ignoring Takashi's protest.
It wasn't like Takashi had really objected, since he trusted his judgement, perhaps the only one who did, in a confidence which only sprouts from mutual concern. He of all was the one who really communicated with him and in the same way, he knew that he too wanted to inspect the room along with him that day...
Takashi supported him on his quest and approved of his idea to call the Iron fist... he would have competed as well, he had said so... He was willing to sacrifice for his own purpose but had he ever suspected he would indeed have to? Did he ever know it would be his death to make it happen? And even as so it was, could he be contented that his sacrifice has brought him a step closer to his quest?
Pacing around he regarded those figures of the past, figures who had silently witnessed them and now Takashi would be one of them.
'If there is any source about the Iron Fist... it must be here...' he had said as he had walked around.
Then he stopped before one of them.
That very same one he had halted ahead of, some weeks before and like then, he paused, merely looking at him.
He had a commanding look upon his hard face... a face not expressionless. Unmoving but... so apparently boiling from such anger as he couldn't desist, with such evil as he alone had seen and so it was only evil he had learned to give back... Proudly he stood in glory and power, his fist clenched to a distant horizon, perhaps where his vision of contentment could be found...
Tears swelled in his eyes as he looked upon him.
'What would you do if you were here? Would you do something?'
Even to breathe hurt him. His nose ached from the inside, his throat was bundled to a spiky bitter knot.
'My mother is dead... Is that anything to you? At all?'
'That's why the room is closed... isn't it?' he had asked Takashi that day, and the M.F.E special forces trainer only momentarily hesitated.
'Why deny...' he had finally said.
His confirmation was absolutely not needed and he couldn't bring himself to move away from where he stood.
He had seen his face once before. His mother had showed him... Four years before. Four damned years since before she...
She had just handed him that picture, one she had kept all these years and now was gone along with everything that ever was his home... He just had a look upon it and... it was pointless to talk anymore...
'I only want you to know that you came out from a true love... a real love, so deep...' she had said... and she nearly cried... just like he did... he almost heard her words again, so much trying to convince him... but would he believe? Could he ever?
'I... I don't blame you... you made me who I am... I can't blame you... can I?
'What sort of man was he, Takashi? What horrible acts has he performed they had to shut him in a room unlit and unseen, with no bestowal? And if he were so cruel, why would they ever keep his pic~...'
He had looked upon Takashi and it was absolutely dark... but the ochre glistening of his skin he could clearly see... The unseen rigours down his body were transmitted to him and he could sense his anxiety... he could sense his fear... only he didn't know what it was...
Damned cursed lie... He KNEW what it was, he KNEW it was this, it was the same one he had seen once before but he was plainly SCARED to look at it!
'Are you okay?' he had only asked.
Takashi shivered. His hand clasped his collar.
'Y-yes, I'm all right... It's just... so cold in here...'
Takashi was in a slow sweat, melting down his forehead. Whatever he was saying before he forgot about it.
'You need to see a doctor...' he had said.
'I knew... I knew very well, damn it... but I...'
Again he looked upon the picture on the wall.
'What would You do if you were here? What would you do? if anything...
...But you can't answer, can you?
"CURSE YOU!" he yelled and as he lunged forwards, his fist dived on the wall, next to the picture, along with his voice. And he nearly cried.
'No... ...not you...
Letting his weight slide towards the wall, he buried his face in his hand.
...me... curse me...
'I cannot blame you... I can't...
Child of the light, child of the night...
can you tell the wrong from right?
So peacefully as you sleep tonight... yet I know the hell you bare inside your mind... inside your heart...
I've been through hell and I've tasted the flames... You should have never seen that pain!
You shouldn't see the hell I know...
That phantom that you wish to seek... that vengeance that you wish to reach...
Do not you fear, child of the light? The thought of perish has not reached your mind?
You live into hell and hell you seek to find
why don't you wish to preserve your life?
Death is but another state of time... It's much like life, only not quite... The Phantom holds our kingdom of night... the greatest kingdom of mankind...
It's using us up... along all of them me... It feeds on my vanity... my 'gift'... What a name to pick for the plague I wish I could rid...
I see your soul, child of the light... proud and pure, brimful of might...
you're all that's good in me, if any...
her kindness beams upon your face...
She never did deserve to die... Not her, not she of all mankind...
Did you know she was so kind? She of all the only who could see into my eyes?
She could look into my eyes... see beyond me... The real me...
She was not afraid of me... She alone in the world...
I dare not show to you my face... You shouldn't see such hell of pain...
Child of the light, child of the night...
Pure and proud, spirit of might...
I know you tried, careless of dying...
You couldn't save her...
neither could I...
I've seen her die, child of the light... Do you know she tried to save you that night?
But what could she do?
What could I do?
but you, of all alone, you tried...
I saw her faint into the night...
her wide, gentle, warm, bright eyes...
those wet, kind, loving eyes...
I couldn't imagine death slipping in those eyes...
He picked her up and life faded from her eyes...
she died next to you, child of the light... right by your side...
I burned her up.
Pray don't blame me, child of the light...
I didn't want you to see her like that...
I didn't want you to see her dead...
I rose a fire straight from hell...
that fire that burned her up when she died...
her and the house that you lived, a fire that ingested it all... but you...
I couldn't save you, child of the light...
I could only burn everything, before you would wake...
you didn't have to share that hell of pain...
I burned up her ravaged body...
and everything around...
You were saved, child of the light...
It was the symbol she has forged on your arm that protected you...
It saved you from the hell I bared with me...
It'll save you from my curse... me...
Pray don't blame me, child of the light...
I didn't want you to see her like that...
...I didn't bare to see her like that...
I wish I could have saved her life...
I couldn't shut my vision to the moment she died...
I've seen her die, child of the light...
I've seen her dying...
...my little Jun...
Jin opened his eyes. He was alone in his bedroom.
A soundless sigh flew from his nose, as he looked at the moonlight poking in from the window blades. The tiny holes became definite again as he swept his eyes.
This dream was nowhere as tormenting as that of Toshin... but the wound it opened in his heart was perhaps as deep.
Tokyo, suburbs, street market. These streets are never less than crammed and whatever is lost here, has as many chances to be found as in the sea.
"Come see, come see kind gentlemen! Come see the merchandise of Mushashi!"
The two men walking together didn't stop at this stall either.
"This is far worse than my father has described..." said the one of them, a lean asian young man who appeared short, standing next to his taller american, square jawed counterpart. Even though he was wearing traditional clothing, perhaps due to the fact he had never adopted that dressing manner before and for any other reason, his aloofness to the crowd was more apparent.
"You're telling me, Forest, I've been here more than I could ever ask for" the blonde man with the full beard replied, without even looking at him.
He was dressed in full leather and walked with relative ease, making his way in the human river with apparent detest.
"You don't really like it here, why did you ever come?" Forest marked, in english that lacked nothing in refinement or accent to his american friend. Paul didn't even appear to notice him.
"Only the faces have changed, Law... Same shit, different day, as they say..."
"If you can't say something nice..." Forest returned, saving his feet by an inch from a man carrying a basket with cabbages.
"Darn, stop, you're beginning to sound like your father!" Paul abruptly said.
"Thanks, that was all I needed."
"And what's the idea of that cantonese outfit you wear?"
"I wanted to get more to the spirit..."
"You'll get dirt all over it... is it silk? Hey, it's silk!" Paul yelled before an embarrassed Law had time to cut him.
"For heaven's sake, shut up!"
"They don't understand shit, trust me..." Paul calmly said. "Hey jerk! Fucking asshole..." he directed swears around and Law burned red, for his friend seemed to forget that some words were international.
"Stop making a fool of yourself, damn it!"
"Forest... you need to live a little." Paul said and with Law following him, they were lost in the busy crowd.
Word had spread worldwide on the opening of the tournament of the Iron Fist. Contestants of all the martial arts known and unheard of, surged from all over the world and the participation was one beyond expectation. Fighters of all nationalities, sexes and ages arrived, summing up to the astonishing gathering of more than a thousand, a number to be predicted, since it was after two decades that the original and most renowned Iron Fist tournament was held once again.
The Japanese government had risen to the protest but the Mishima Financial Empire, the organisation behind the tournament was neither relenting, nor did it provide any handles that could accuse its decision as one being motivated by illegal purposes. Therefore, the Iron Fist tournament was officially announced and preparations were taken for accommodating grounds and transportation of the participants that rushed like a wave into the bustling city of Tokyo.
The handsome young lad faced squarely the prying lens, as he didn't realise he was looking at that of the security camera. After a short while, his eyes drifted ahead, so close yet so desperately far, at the plastic screened desk of the passport controller. The hell was this greased middle aged man in costume mumbling so long about?
Hwoarang puffed his indignation in a short exhale while securing the strap of his handbag on his shoulder. He had been shuffling his every step for that undefined, most of the times no more than a quarter, eternal time it takes for the passport control nightmare to be over. He shook his head in his way, to accent his beautiful, silky, up to the chin, copper red hair and waited.
"Damn, this might take forever!" he whispered to himself, not because he didn't want to be heard rather because he didn't want to be caught talking to himself. He then dug his hand in the pocket of his loose jacket and took out a lollipop, unwrapping it with apparent dedication and plucked it in his mouth, swinging the stick about with his lips, blessing the inventor of that ingenious creation, one of the very few worthwhile two in one; a candy which he was fond to death and something to play in his teeth. He had this bad habit of chewing things, in fact it was the only reason he took coffee in the aeroplane and generally most every other public places, since it went along with a plastic stirrer he could afterwards chew.
"Yeah, so maybe I'm still immature", he thought to himself as he swung the lollipop stick, noisily sucking at the strawberry sweet. Actually, though he had definitely passed the adulthood, he still didn't consider being a full grown man, on the terms that he could handle responsibilities such as a job, manage a house and, well, things like that which grown ups consider as significant... Otherwise he was satisfied with himself and his manhood. True, he had sometimes wished for a more angular and even bearded face or even bigger chest and backs but only briefly, for girls really loved his soft childish 'di Caprio' as they called face, for reasons he couldn't tell (why, girls have the funniest expectations from men!) so he didn't consider himself as lacking anything worthwhile. He was way more than agreeable, he had the record to prove it, in the field of dating he was beyond successful and it was enough. Right now, he was also irritated. Damn, this expectancy Would take forever!
He had long finished his lollipop, managed to stick without being noticed the chewed wand he was bored of, on the dyed short hair of some middle-aged maiden with large, semi-transparent sunglasses and a heavy ugly necklace, he hopped on his heels and shook his hair about four times before his time crawled to the passport desk. He took back the tiny book, praying for that day when this job would be done by computer booths that wouldn't take so much time asking all so many unnecessary questions for a mere stamp! He walked to the luggage band, passing by the lady in who's hair he had stuck his wand to and she was holding it, wondering in disgust how it got there.
A few minutes later, with his suitcase upon a pushing cart and his duffel on his shoulder, he left the terminal, looking around, regretting having dismissed that chewing stick, when his eyes fell on a gathering of people around a man holding a cardboard sign with wide print, reading 'Iron Fist' among the rest upon it. Considering for a moment, he walked towards them. The man was dressed in the same black clothes he remembered the MFE corps to be dressed in from that time when they had come in their hometown and engaged into that fight with them. He spotted the band on his arm with the initials of the company he served and with a second look, he identified him to be one of those he had fought against. Cursing under his breath, he walked on by, choosing to pay for his ride rather than embarking on the free one the Mishima corporation had ensured for the contestants.
Soon he was sitting in the bus heading for Tokyo, next to the window, resting his head on his palm with his hand leaning on his elbow. The wind smoothed through his hair and he felt drowsy. He might have slept, but for the prattling of two girls behind him. Not just that he despised that fast girl talk but taking a closer attention, since he couldn't shut it out of his head, he realised them two were talking about the Iron Fist...
He turned around to face two girls much younger of what he might have expected. The apparently younger one was more striking in appearance since she had a really funny haircut of two tarry short bobs on top of her head that reflected her young age in soft features. Her small chinese looking eyes that their dark pupils made them look even tinier, sparked as she looked upon him. The other one was merely a year or two elder, around his age with a plain yet attractive face. There was no smile upon her somewhat pouty lips and a seriousness that prevented him to regard her as a beauty, but she was charming nevertheless.
Facing their questioning stares, even though he wasn't exactly the person to consider rude looking intensely at strangers, he didn't feel very calm either.
"Can I help you?" asked the elder girl, with the soft brown hair, done in a braid behind her back.
"I heard you talking about the Iron Fist..." he admitted.
"Well?" she went on and he looked at the other girl, who's face was not as suspicious, then chose to cast his eyes down.
"I'm a participant..." he said, certain the two teenagers would have been amazed to know one of those brave, sometimes crazy to the point of insanity fighters. What he never expected was the shrill voice of the younger girl.
He gasped at her beaming face and for the first time, the other girl laughed too.
"What? You never expected that?" she asked and the other girl smiled too.
"Well, no!" he exclaimed and regarded them both. "You too?" he asked the first one and he wasn't as surprised she would answer positively.
"Your name?" she then asked and he studied her. She was charming indeed but perhaps not his taste. He liked his girls a little more matured towards femininity, even though at times he thought he looked too young for them.
"Hwoarang" he said courtly nevertheless.
"Julia..." the girl introduced herself.
"Yeah... And this is Ling Xiaoyu."
The other girl smiled, a mischievous sparkle passed from her eyes. Hwoarang returned the smile politely, nevertheless.
"Oh, hi there." he said and grinned. A few new friends, especially girls never hurt him. The three enjoyed their conversation as the bus made its way among traffic to the ever busy, never sleeping city of Tokyo.
"Initialising sequence... power supply to 76Volts..."
The middle aged man with the black framed glasses, wearing his clean, yet old white laboratory gown, bent over the young post graduate skinny student. MIT should better be right to name him as a genius.
"So how's it going?"
"Steadily. The vacuum has reached pressure of 2,5 microPascal..."
Nervously rubbing his fingers, irking because of the required low temperature, the professor walked to the computer. The pulse drawn at the top window was steady and clicking at regression from the procedures menu, he was satisfied to see the slope of the curves to be well within the error range.
"I wonder how Victor Frankenstein felt when he created his monster..." said the other man at his early forties mirthfully but he got no reply.
"Live, live, LIVE!" he hollered mimicking the legendary doctor, raising his open hands as if praying to some god, ending his parlance in a chortle. The student looked at him briefly, certainly worried.
"Will you shut up?" doctor Abel commanded and fixed him with a glare. The other man dropped his hands, but not his smile.
"Aman!" he clamoured. "We could be about to discover immortality and you want me to keep it quiet?"
"Relax, man! Afterall, it's for you I'm cheering!"
"Power supply reaching 100 Volts, remaining for instructions..."
At the student's words, both scientists turned at him.
"Release the solution in the pumps!"
The student pressed the few right buttons and indicating lights flashed.
"Solution released, scanned clear."
"All right, let's get this baby out!" said the other scientist and went to his post.
"A few more minutes now..." muttered doctor Abel as the light of the room was lowered, to achieve maximum power supply to the device. A box at the centre of the room begun glowing with neon effulgence.
"Live baby, live..." said lowly the other scientist and even the MIT postgraduate turned his eyes at the box.
After a short while, a green light flashed upon the box. Under the sound of machines turned down, slowly the lights redeemed in the laboratory and all men stood up. Doctor Abel walked first to it. The thermometer indicated approximately 37 degrees centigrade, the pressure was restored and from the computer, came clearly a steady tone, repeated a little less than every once a second. His hands trembled as they felt the seals.
"Well, aren't you wondering if it's a boy or a girl?" asked the other scientist and slowly the student came along. Pressure was restored and when the sound of liquid pumped out ended, one by one they unscrewed the seals. The cover released a whiff and then, at the hands of all three it was carried to be left leaning by the table. Then, they all bent above the box.
A man lay inside, bare and soaking wet. If not for the absent and somewhat moot gaze, the bearing of him was if anything, aberrant. The skin, even though damp, had a deadened ochre paleness upon it, faintly tainted by a fleshy hue and his tissues alike appeared to lack the certain plumpness. A slash starting from his left thigh trailing all the way up his athletic body, ascending the neck and even the face, crossing the eye and ending upon his skull, among white weak hair, the mark of the surgery he was subjected to, was still parted, revealing his skin as if dehydrated.
"Don't hold me responsible for this one..." said the other scientist but his voice had lost its breeziness and his expression was one of worry.
Doctor Abel waved his open palm before the man's face and slowed his move in some disappointment, as the vitreous grey eyes didn't respond to the motion in any other way than be fixed upon his own and the glare was not a very comforting either.
"Is he alive?" asked the other scientist.
"If we are to believe the machines, he is... at least technically... Let's take the electrodes off." doctor Abel concluded and he removed the strapped bands from the man's crucial points. All the while, the experiment didn't as much as wink but doctor Abel sensed his stare upon him.
The Mishima Financial Empire had arranged for accommodation for all fighters who arrived to compete in their tournament. For this purpose there had been five hotels booked on bed and breakfast basis. Most were pleased at the arrangements and therefore, they only had to be bothered with their training and their own personal debates, if any. Indeed, most highly skilled fighters have one or more bitter stories to tell of.
The small tarry eyes on the wrung, oily tanned face of Marshall Law, scorched upon Paul full of vigour and the fair hared tall man was encumbered before the anger of his possibly lifelong friend, actually the only person who had ever been his friend all his life. Somehow, he knew this time he wasn't simply upset at him.
"It was bad enough that I had to know all this corruption, my son shouldn't have to know too!" Marshall Law crooned, staring at him and Paul puffed out, somewhat exasperated.
"Come on now Marsh! This is just the challenge every man cannot resist and besides it's about time you realised your son has grown up!"
"I don't exactly call 'grown up' being manipulated by a hot headed brawler!"
"Hey, you are insulting me now, Law!"
"You talk of insult after such betrayal, Paul?"
The time was advanced and yet, the sounds of Tokyo's night activity reached the hotel room even in the tenth floor, even through closed windows. The bedroom's door was shut so that the one sleeping in the next room would not wake from the quarrel going on between the two men.
"Come on, Marsh, your son is a man of his own to make his decisions and personally I think it's about time he put his skill to the test..." Paul spoke after a while.
"If he's a man of his own to make decisions, how come you talk him into following you?"
"Marsh, this is futile. I was going anyway and I was only hoping for a little company in the trip but since you rejected..."
"If it was the money you wanted, I would have given it to you." Law said, declining his head.
"Oh great, make me feel like cheap now!"
"I have another word for you but I don't know if you will understand it!"
"Oh yeah? Come on. Shoot it. I'm here for you!"
"You fool!" Law said, raising his gnarling face upon him. "What do you hope to find to Tekken again? Kazuya is dead and there is nothing there for you after all these years."
"It's not that, Marsh, it's just like I can't resist the challenge..."
Looking right into his friend's eyes, Law, who's hair was beginning to decay to the grey rough ones, he spoke entirely clear.
"It's that Irish woman, right?"
Paul only lowered his stare momentarily, before returning it with admission.
"Yeah, so it's the Irish woman."
Law didn't even shake his head facing the paling blue eyes of his friend, at which stage, the well built fair hared Paul exasperated.
"Marsh look. If that's your idea of farewell, I'll pass."
"You Americans!" Law almost steamed. "When will you ever learn there should be a limit to all you do?"
"Look here, Law... Why don't you read another piece of this Confucius fellow of yours?"
"Confucius was a big fool."
"Good, because I don't care about the Con-fuck-ious person either. Look here pal..."
"No, you look. My son might never return to me. And I can never forgive you."
"I didn't drag him kicking hands and legs, you know! And if you care, why don't you convince him to get out of it while you can?"
"I believe in free mind, Paul, something you will never understand. Right now my son is stolen from me..."
"...and what's more, he has proven the exact opposite of what he is trying to prove! In one hour he gave up all I taught him and turned away from me! You can have him!"
Despite Paul's frantic twitches, grasping his head as an effort to end his rant, Marshall Law spat out his last words and stared composedly at him. Paul knew him off too well to realise there was no way he would change his mind. Marshall Law, his lifelong friend was a placid character, preferring to succeed rather than start a futile fight. This was his way of thinking, the way of Tao or something he didn't comprehend anyway. His philosophy was to avoid a fight if there was a way... Only when it came to oppose to him, he was as dogged as a clump. Once again he was firmly determined against him but somehow he felt like this time there would be long before they would talk again.
"Law... If he doesn't return, then neither shall I..." he said, in a last attempt.
But Law's face didn't alter at all.
"All the better." he said as he fixed him with his eyes. Paul looked upon him and suddenly, he saw a man he didn't know.
Was it the oddity of the revival of the Iron Fist tournament or the rumours of a grand force pursuing life really the reason why the nights of Tokyo were getting even more troublesome? It seemed a spirit of terror had swept into the city, from the poorest suburbs to the richest remote quarters. Spring was taking over and yet, more people found it harder to repose.
The president of the Mishima Financial Empire, Heihachi Mishima, was certainly one of them.
The night was advanced and he had spent all this time on his feet, pacing in the paths of his thoughts, or just staring at the walls of his spacious room, observing at nothing in specific. It could be his proceeding age. But... as he was toiling to convince himself, he was always suffering from insomnia...
Shaking his head wearily, he knew he couldn't fool himself.
He was growing old.
His body was of a perfect condition... for an old man. He wasn't the trim youth he used to be, nor the brawny adult who had won the title of King of the Iron Fist for so many times it had set the record. However fine his condition was, he knew, time wouldn't put up with him for ever. Death would find him... perhaps very soon...
He couldn't sleep because subconsciously... he didn't want to waste as much as a second of what was left from his life.
Looking out of the window, he saw a clear starry sky. The windows were somewhat misty, it should be cold outside... Didn't he sense it himself, despite the heating of the room?
He shook his head in regret but... it was too late...
That cursed phrase! It never before was too late but now...
He should have never yielded in the matter of the Iron Fist. Never!
Was Jin asleep?
'I bet you're sleeping well in your bed, you little bastard!' he groaned to himself and in his mind he had Jin's image, peacefully sleeping in his room. The tranquillity upon the face of his vision set him into a fit.
This boy, a flaming boy was having the control over him!
He remembered how it happened that he took him up under his service... or so he had thought. He had assumed he could utilise the youngster to his will... after all, he was his informer. Leading him to believe on his good objective should have been no matter... and yet, all the while it was Jin having the reigns. If not, then why on earth was he convinced in the first place to take him in? Or even worse... invoke the rage of the War God, now that he was so outrageously close...
He paced up and down in his chamber, avoiding to face his declining self into the mirror. His hands were tied behind his hale back, his balding white head was bowed. The God had answered to him. He had even summoned him...
Hell blazes! He should have never used Takashi! He should have picked somebody else, that big mouthed Nakaraki, or even Yoshida... But none of them had the spiritual eminence of Takashi and unfortunately, it was him to be the closest friend of Jin...
And how was he to foresee Jin's outrage?
That time, when he run away, Toshin had almost got him. Did he know? He had to pray too strong to the War God, assuring him he had to wait for a little more... until the oblation would be ready... and he used up much of his power for that cursed illusion...
Perhaps... that's why he yielded... he was weakened...
Weakened! That awful word! Him, weakened!...
Jin was the one manipulating him. He was making the track all this time and he had but run afterwards. He was fooled and he didn't know if it was because of succumbing to the blunt innocence of the youngster or... what passed for innocence was extreme cunning... but that was impossible. Jin was reasonably smart but... he couldn't lie to save his life.
It was then when he realised that was exactly what stated him as extremely dangerous.
Not that he would be so earnest as to stand up against his vice, no, he most certainly didn't suspect what was behind the whole Mishima corporation and him too... However, being straightforward, either he would despise all side approaches or he would be too blind to see them coming... certainly not suave enough for such an unfailing matter and being that bold, he had developed great strength enough to defend and support him... even at the hardest situations...
Heihachi paused as a cold shivering run through his limbs.
That thing too as well...
He should have never taken Jin into his home. Not after hearing he was descendant to his very flesh and blood.
There, he had said it.
Only... he was too blind to see it then, too disinclined to believe it...
An old man, that's what he was! Had he been younger, when he was faithful to his judgements and aware of suspicions, he would never have taken him in! How couldn't he have seen what was there coming?
He seized his forehead in his sodden palm. So, supposing he was to overlook that darn external similarity, shouldn't he have noticed this tendency of closure to himself he displayed at times when despair took over him? Or that elusive drifting stare so mismatching to his gentle brown eyes, the one he used to have whenever his mind was fixed, obstinately too for hell's sake? Or about those abrupt fits of rage that used to get him at occasions, where he acted like a caged lion?
He had been such a fool to ignore all those indications. It was only inevitable he had permitted things to come to where there was no possibility to deny...
Jin bared the same demonic powers he thought to be forever charred deep in the crater of a volcano.
He was wrong.
He had seen them very well that day, in the devastated prairie, when the juvenile attacked the vision of Toshin. It was the fatal lightning. Only he had forced himself to ignore it. He had almost convinced himself it was in his mind, maybe strange paths of the memory, for even if only in his stature and manners, Jin resembled... Or possibly the tense field had caused a visual discharge, in any case, it could have been because of his strenuous concentration to create the vision that his sight lead him to believe seeing light distortions where there weren't.
But he saw it again. That second time, there was no doubt.
It was time for training and he had slipped in his training uniform. He had planned to go to the dojo earlier, to practice his karate on his own, without Jin's presence. After all, he wasn't supposed to teach him everything he knew...
Yet Jin was already there.
He should have known, his eager student would have been earlier... Devoted as always to his exercising, he was practising...
Even though he had walked in undisguised steps, the sound of his geta on the polished wooden floor didn't attract Jin's attention. Otherwise, the youngster would have stopped and bow respectfully... only this time he did not.
He wasn't even doing his ordinary exercising of perfecting the strikes of certain death, nor the katas he had taught him or those patterns and fluid gymnastics he had learned from his mother, those who's effectiveness he had frequently debated. He was immobile as a statue, his eyes were shut, meditating. In a wide standing fighting stance, he had one loose fist summoning his spirit before his chest and the other extended opposite his face...
Heihachi stopped in a startle. Around Jin's fists, feeble cerulean sparks jumped and the same strong field emerged around his body, around his head... and he was chanting.
Even at the memory his heart pounded coldly.
He was chanting without voice, cryptic words into his mind and the lightning snakes thickened, warping around his legs, crawling up his body, convening to his fists. Then... with marvellous versatility he spun around himself in what would be a mighty uppercut... such as he was proud of knowing... and one he had selectively taught to, still, so powerfully executed he had only one seen doing... only one...
He needed to hold on to somewhere.
Jin finished his move in a power summoning stance, not for once showing whether he had noticed him, most certainly though not... Bending his head close to his clenched fists, he congregated more power to his person. The lightning winded around him, creeping upon him and as Heihachi even heard the crackle of the sparks, he had no doubts anymore... Nobody else could have been standing there, unless he was to believe in reincarnation or at least possession from spirits...
The young man had released the power at his own will and steadily he resumed to straight position. He didn't turn around before he had called at him and when he did... was it his apprehension or was the look in his face precarious? As if there was some way he could see that he wasn't the supportive instructor and cohort he said to be...
"What was that you were doing there, Jin-san?" he had asked and the same awe he regarded him with appeared on Jin's face. He couldn't answer... or didn't he want to?
"It just... comes from inside of me..." he said. "You will think it is strange but it is speaking to me..."
Hearing his words, he recalled a cold sweat pouring down on him, just like the one he swept from his neck right now. Jin had seen his anxiety... and his own wasn't any less...
"I don't know what it is... but... I feel so strong to have it... " he heard him saying through his confusion and his affirming words had frightened him more than the spectacle he had witnessed. "It should be scaring me... but it doesn't..." he had said and there was contradiction on his face not for having possess of something that might have been evil but for not rejecting it... the same one that was in him...
"Am I a demon then?" he had eagerly asked. "Am I?"
What was he to answer?
He had no answer in his mind, only one violent desire to run out of the training room... Suddenly, the dojo where he had trained since he was Jin's age or even younger, where he had instructed his progeny, didn't feel his safe shelter any longer... As they decided to train in the courtyard instead, at the last look he gave back, following Jin out of the door, he was sure as hell what he saw was real...
He wasn't the one to believe in ghosts and stories about restless spirits of those who suffered a violent indignant death to return... It was dark and what he saw could be mistaken as false vision... flickering of the light... but he knew, that frame of deathly white flames of an akuma he discerned with extreme difficulty was there... It was there and it was regarding him... as it always did... with hatred and venom... nothing but loathe...
And he shivered.
But he was dead. He was dead, nobody survives a volcano. Nobody! Nobody escaped his wrath, not even if he was the Devil himself! He couldn't be... and yet...
He still couldn't get any sleep. His lids were heavy and he was tired... but he knew he wouldn't get any comfort if lying. Even if he finally managed to sleep... he didn't want to. For in his sleep, his visions were not indefinite ghosts...
When she woke up, there was nobody in the room. The lights of the highly equipped laboratory were turned off and the shackles that had bonded her on the berth she had slept upon were removed. So was the plastic cup overthrown from over her head and she was out of the transparent coffin, not inhaling at the especially distilled oxygen through the pipe of the mask previously adjusted on her face, but breathing from the air around her. Under the conditions though, she wished for the bondage of the mask for the atmosphere in the dark laboratory was very dusty and the smell of the air was far worse than might have been in a mortuary. Dampness and dust had mixed with air that had not been renewed for a long time...
Could the air in a room change so tremendously much in only one night? Or was it a week? It couldn't have been more and she remembered, if anything, the air in the laboratory to be so pure she could scent her breath, along with the scientist's and a few more people, one of them of a significantly larger frame, not a scientist, wearing a maroon suit, one who was somehow ordering something but she did not remember more about him, other that he seemed to have dark hair, as she didn't remember the others present in the room... well some of those others were armed, or so they should have been or so she seemed to picture them in their tight dark navy blue outfits and their arms in the way of holding weapons and the rest were scientists, or must have been... How many were they, few for sure and one of them, a lean man in his late years appeared to be the one responsible for whatever that process was that needed her bonded...
Raising her body she looked around. Indeed, there was dust upon the hard plastic seal and... everywhere in the room. A strange rectangular electronic board lay nearby, the only piece of machinery to operate, separating her coffin from another similar one, where another person lay inside but the dust covering it, prevented her to take a possibly clearer vision in the already dark room. On that machine that seemed to be the power generator that had supplied her while she slept and magically was still active, small lights were lit, a few blinked occasionally, a periodical soft tone came from it. But the elderly scientist in the white gown was not around. Nor were the armed men. Not even the strange voice that had awakened her.
She stretched and tried to get up only to find she was about to collapse again... Why such weakness? She had only slept one night... or not? Maybe more, true, that dust was not of one night... A week? A month? That long?
"Goodness, girl..." she muttered... and even to speak hurt her benumbed jaw as she turned to try get up with the aid of her hands...
Girl? She never called herself like that... She would speak to herself by her name but... Shattering as it was, she found out she did not recall her name...
Painfully straining to get up and recall her name, she closed her eyes.
"The sleeping beauty awakened..."
She didn't have the strength to look around and find the source of the ghostly voice that reached her sepulchral, neither did she question whether it scared her or not.
"Who are you?" she asked. As she expected, she didn't get a reply.
She tried once again to get up. She succeeded and stepped out of the capsule she'd been lying to discover she was barely clothed. Upon her members there were signs of the electrodes that were implanted into her and she rubbed the reddish marks. It was cold.
Then her eyes saw the ghost.
It was faintly glowing, appearing to be the large frame of an huge man but such was the darkness this faint light hurt her vision. She skewed her eyes as she looked at it.
"The hell are you?" she asked, her voice was grumpy.
The glow pulsated and she wasn't sure whether she ought to run away, even though she hardly stood on her feet. She looked more strenuously until within it, she started making out clearer images...
It was a man.
She stepped ahead to look clearer. She had been wrong in a sense. He was hardly a man. A boy and perhaps a pretty one too. A youngster, certainly not a man, definitely pretty, with the effulgence of his young age... but why was there such a sad mien upon his features?
She looked better. All she strove to recognise him, she couldn't. Still, she knew she wouldn't forget his face. She discovered she had a great aptness in memorising... well, at least ability to mark faces and details so she wouldn't later forget... Then why the hell didn't she even recall her name?
It was the echo of the ghostly voice that distracted her from her trailing thoughts, but not because of its abstruse tone but rather at its odd demand...
"Kill him." it had said and she gasped as if by a flash.
Crushed at the sharpness of the command of the voice, she couldn't but stare at the youth in the vision. Why should she kill him? Somehow the thought that she had to kill a stranger wasn't confusing her much but, what was the reason? Who asked her to do so?
She looked at the young man. The anticipation that she had seen sorrow in his eyes was enforced, only now she saw more than that. There was resolution to fight, determination to emend what inflicted him... There was steadfastness on his features and he bore the expression of one of clear conscience. Who was he?
The vision showed the young man in a room that was wronged to be used. It was a magnificent dojo, one of those that on their own can be a museum, with finely lustred wooden floors, banners of expensive silk bearing sayings in kanji ideograms, fine parchment screens with beautiful colourings and ornaments of great art. Weapons were neatly arranged and soft light illuminated the wide room from thin screened windows. The young man was practising some form of martial art to perfection, utterly devoted to the execution of his moves. Somehow, she understood that art to be karate...
"Kill him." the voice commanded once again. This time she nodded, weakly gaping. She didn't know him... as neither did she know...
...had she killed before?
There for a moment, as the vision diluted, her mind blanked. It seemed as if the same foggy glow had possessed her thoughts and only one thought predominated. The assassination of the young man who's face was put into her memory.
Faintly she nodded with the lips slightly apart, her eyes widened, neither from surprise, nor from stupefaction. She took the task with a nod, not pondering whether she should. Somehow she didn't even consider taking that option. She just accepted the command but not willingly, more like mindlessly following an intent that wasn't her own but had replaced hers, as if her own induction had never existed. Then, the vision, the ghost and everything was gone.
A cold but refreshing drift sent her shivering and barefoot as she was, she revolved towards the opposite end of the room. A wide door was pulled aside and there was the darkness of the night in a starry sky. Even though she shook frozen, she almost went running to the openness, hasty as if to delay would seal the door again. She albeit found strength in her feet and didn't totter as she walked out of the deserted laboratory, leaving into the night and not looking back.
I told you, I DON'T REMEMBER!
Look, I know I have a killer figure and that you like staring at it, I know you think I'm out of my mind going barely dressed and busting the hell out of those who make attempts on me but would you mind handing me a jacket? I'm COLD!
That's better, thank you... Uh, Cigarette? I don't know... Am I supposed to like it?
Look... in order to improve the communication, stop putting on that face, think of what it feels to me!
Here you go again, I Told you, I DON'T BLOODY REMEMBER!!!
No, Not Even My NAME!
Look, ok, if you want to call me Nina, for the sake of communication, I shall accept. Perhaps you are right, I seem to recall a name like that, Tina, Mina, Nina but for all I know I could be even called Deborah! How can I convince you I DON'T REMEMBER!
Pardon me. But you'd be screaming as well if you knew...
...Am I supposed to know you?
OK, I can tell by your concern and your grimace that perhaps I should... But, would you mind revising the introduction parts? And oh, if we have slept together, leave it for a later time.
Well, nice meeting you, Paul. Look, I don't know if that's me but right now I'd go anywhere, so do you have a room to take me in for a short while, I mean until I get some... clothes to start with?
Sitting on the settee wrapped in a blanket, she sipped a cup of coffee. The blonde bearded man who called himself Paul came back and looked at her in concern. She met his eyes but still his face was nowhere to be found in her memory.
"Is there something else I can do for you?" he said with his scratched voice but she didn't bother to even nod a denial. He paced a little to sit opposite of her binding his fingers above his knees.
"Don't you recall anything? Anything at all?" he tried again and she lowered her eyes.
"Look... You are being very polite with me, but... I don't remember you... nor do I remember why I'm here... So please... don't ask me."
Paul's eyes sunk to sorrow.
"I'm sorry to have attacked you earlier in the streets..." she said, speaking again after some time.
"That's ok. You didn't know me."
She smiled and finished her coffee. She looked around at the neat hotel room, where Paul's untidiness had placed it's signature. A red gi was hanging on the door of the wardrobe and strangely, at its sight she recalled of the young man she was assigned to murder. She looked back at Paul, only to find his eyes ever staring at her.
"I think I recall... I'm here to kill somebody." she confessed.
She expected him to be started at her plain spoken confiding of murderous intentions but he only lowered his lids calmly. She thought he didn't believe her.
"No, you are not. He is dead."
That statement was one she had not expected. She looked puzzled upon him and his eyes were affirming.
"Believe me when I say so. He is dead. There is nothing left for you to do."
Her lips fluttered before she spoke.
"Let me get that straight. You know about the man I want to kill."
"But that's impossible... oh I forgot. You remember, I don't. So, who is he?"
A rapping upon the door interrupted the conversation. Paul had turned around and idly stood up to drag his heavy booted steps to the door. She followed him as he unlocked and let in a young man of asian features, visibly shorter than him, who's eyes immediately fell upon her. She didn't cast any expression but she saw the young man slightly blush.
"Oh yeah, Law, that's Nina..." Paul said as he closed the door.
Law who was always coy before women, especially those who were gifted with fleshly charms, only blushed with a sheepish grin.
"Hi..." he said and she smiled back, choosing to accept the naming Paul had given her. She then turned at him with a questioning look.
"Am I supposed to know him too?"
Paul seemed considering at answering.
"No, you are not", he assured her and she smiled back at Law, stretching her hand for a handshake.
"Hi, Law... At that stage I prefer meeting new people..." she said and as Law shook the offered hand, he smiled.
"I took a stroll downtown, had dinner... you should try..."
Law was talking to Paul and he spoke back at him. Her head was whizzing a low monotonous annoying sound and she turned her eyes on the television. Zapping through the channels, she chose one of a cartoon, where a little brown mouse had tricked a grey cat five times its size into a slapstick pan trap. At the sight she involuntarily giggled and then turned at the two men, looking at her. She was slightly embarrassed.
"Well, at least it's not in japanese... and he's cute! Isn't he?"
She looked at Paul's almost sad yet happy smile and a questioning expression came upon her face.
"I know I like him... Is that good?" she asked and Paul nodded.
"Yes... that's good..." he said reassuringly. Nina smiled faintly, because she too believed it.
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