ASHES OF THE PHOENIX

written by Victar, e-mail vctr113062@aol.com
Victar's Archive:
http://www.victarfanfics.com


Chapter 22: The Dragon and the Unicorn


    "If you love something, set it free. If it doesn't come back, hunt it down and kill it."
         -Anonymous


         Major Jackson Briggs surveyed the broken remainder of his forces.
         How many people had they lost in their valiant, yet ultimately doomed assault? A thousand? With another five hundred grievously wounded? Scarcely a quarter of his soldiers remained in tolerable shape. They had settled in a hasty, disheveled camp to tend to their injured. If not for the ministrations of Wang Jinrey's healing sorcery, their death toll would have climbed higher still.
         The major fingered the remnants of the Project Titan microcomputer around his wrist. Its technological wizardry had given them a crucial edge, when he used it to assume the might of a giant and scatter the enemy's ranks, but now it was just a piece of scrap.
         Jax approached Sub-Zero and demanded a status report.
         "I'm a little busy here," the scientist brusquely rebuffed, as he created a cold compress to staunch the bleeding and swelling on Lieutenant Sonya Blade's head wound. "Why don't you go play for a while, all right?"
         For perhaps the thousandth time, Jax wished he were in command of a real army, not a ragtag collection of insubordinate freaks.
         "This is important," the major insisted, carefully keeping the anger out of his voice; showing emotion to Sub-Zero would only decrease his chances of getting a straight answer. "Can you repair Project Titan?"
         "You mean, that mass of melted slag that used to be a microcomputer? The short answer is no. I can't spare enough time to give you the long answer, but trust me, it involves many spastic fits of hysterical laughter."
         "Save the sarcasm. Can you make me a new Project Titan?"
         "Oh absolutely, given a couple weeks we don't have, in a laboratory I don't have, using components we ran out of a long time ago. Look, why don't you ask Kung Lao to conjure you some new toys out of his hat?"
         "His sorcery is incompatible with complex technological artifacts."
         "I was kidding."
         "I wasn't. What about those robots surrounding the syndicate? Have you found any way to short them out?"
         "By the frozen peak of Mount Kadath, I haven't had a chance to pry one apart and study it yet, all right? What do you expect me to do, look at their circuitry for five seconds and blurt out a technobabble Deus Ex Machina? What do you think this is, Voyager?"
         "Leave him alone, Jax," Sonya tiredly suggested. "We can always kill him later."
         Jax focused on his lieutenant. "Tell me you have good news to report."
         "Sure, I have good news. Great news. Wonderful news. We're not dead. You have no idea how ecstatic that news is, given that there's still thousands of androids and five hundred heavily armed human soldiers surrounding that damn syndicate. We shouldn't have been able to get away at all, but for some reason, they lost interest in pursuing us after they forced us off their territory."
         "Probably something in the androids' programming," Sub-Zero muttered. "They're instructed to guard the syndicate, so they won't leave it for any reason. And I did see that glowing ward surrounding the human soldiers switch off. I'll bet Kazuya couldn't protect them for more than a short while, and they know that if they chase us now, we'll cut them down with gunfire."
         The major thought about that for a moment, then quickly crossed the dusty earth to where Wang Jinrey worked a miracle on T. Hawk. Nightwolf and Kung Lao served as Wang's mystic reagents, channeling their own vitality to boost his strength, while Kabal and Stryker helped other medics tend to patients with less serious injuries. Second Lieutenant Sparky administrated the triage, using the authority Jax and Sonya had invested within him to see that the lifesaving work went smoothly.
         Wang put his hands on T. Hawk's chest and summoned a tranquil, blue-white glow. T. Hawk heaved a shuddering breath, as shattered ribs that had come dangerously close to piercing his lungs set and knit themselves. Wolf kneeled on T. Hawk's other side, clutching the broken shaft of a spear. Seung Mina applied a cloth to a gash in Wolf's face; drying blood from the wound mixed with the dull red of his hair. His mouth was also streaked with crimson, and half his teeth were broken or gone.
         "I dragged Hawk off the battlefield," Wolf said in an empty, hollow voice. "He was so heavy, I could barely carry him. I left the others behind."
         "You do good, Wolf," Seung Mina reassured. "You save life."
         "I left Rock behind - he was my closest friend since I came to Sanctuary, the only stable person in all this madness. And Raven, our leader, I couldn't-"
         "They both dead. You no could help them."
         "But I left them. They're still there." Misery and battle shock brimmed in Wolf's russet eyes.
         Nightwolf transfixed the red-haired warrior with a stern glare. "'None of us can afford to obsess upon guilt, death, or self-pity, when there are survivors to protect and enemies to fight.' These were Raven's words, and she would want us to heed her wisdom."
         Wolf shivered, and the stunned confusion holding him rigid seemed to lessen. He gritted his teeth and snarled, "Their souls are still there, aren't they? Their souls, and the souls of all the people we lost are trapped in Kazuya's hell-pit!"
         Nightwolf looked away.
         "Reptile's soul is there, too," Kung Lao said, in a hushed tone. "It seems that Chief Thunder's assassin has paid the final price for his crime."
         Wang transferred his healing sorcery to T. Hawk's broken knee.
         Jax cleared his throat. "Nightwolf, are you cloaking us?"
         "Does it matter?"
         "Yes."
         "Then I will hide our words from the enemy." The shaman closed his eyes in a moment of concentration. "Well, what is it?"
         "It concerns Kazuya's endurance. We've noticed that he couldn't sustain the ward about his troops for more than a short time."
         "That was because the ward he generated was of unimaginable magnitude. He is, most likely, feeling tired."
         "Too tired to do it again?"
         "Possibly."
         "How long before he regains his strength?"
         "I do not know. He very likely has kept some of his strength in reserve, as an extra precaution. It would not surprise me if he were able to regenerate quickly. And he now has three thousand souls to fuel his Power, instead of merely two thousand."
         "How long before we can get the rest of our wounded back into fighting shape?"
         "Hours. At least."
         "So even though now is our best chance to attack, while Kazuya's winded, we're hurting too badly to do it. And when we do attack, we damn well better not be throwing anyone's lives away, or else we'll just make Kazuya stronger."
         T. Hawk, healed of his injuries, started to sit up. His umber eyes blinked, and he gasped, "Dark Mane! She's there, I felt her in their web! They... they murdered her..." A quivering tremble shook him, and his face fell into his hands.
         "Next," Wang quietly called.
         Paco, one of Sonya's sub-lieutenants, carried forward the limp form of a man with reddish holes spattering his military uniform. "You have to help Pete, quickly. He took a round that almost got me-"
         "I cannot heal this one," Wang softly stated, the compassion in his voice tempered with the weariness of sad reality. "He is dead."
         "No, no he's not, you have to-"
         "Next."
         "I'm telling you, he's still - let me go!" Paco shouted, hoarsely, as Kabal and Sparky moved to restrain him. "Pete? Pete, you've got to wake up; they think you're - think you're-"
         "Easy, fella," Sparky soothed. "I'm sorry. He was my friend, too."
         "LET ME GO!" Paco was a trained veteran, but so was Sparky, and Kabal had been a member of the ruthless Black Dragons gang for years. With both of them keeping Paco in a strong hold, there was little the agitated soldier could do.
         "Cálmate," Kabal firmly told Paco. "Él es muerte. No hay nada que podemos hacer."
         "I told you, I'm third generation, I DON'T SPEAK YOUR GIBBERISH!"
         Stryker took Pete's body from the frantic sub-lieutenant, unceremoniously wrapped it in a black cloth, and carried it to a shallow mass grave. A morbid corner of his mind wondered if he would carry more corpses to it, and more, until once again he was the only survivor, left alone to lose his sanity as he wandered these forsaken wastes of the dead.
         Jax watched the disturbing scene with detachment. Later, there would be time to berate himself with grief and blame, to lie immobile late at night as the faces of people who had perished under his command floated before his sleepless eyes. But for now, the only thing he could do was disconnect himself from the suffering, and concentrate on the immediate problem of-
         "With Raven lost, you are our leader," Nightwolf said to the major. "What are we to do now?"
         "Now?" Jax echoed, folding his bionic arms. "Now, we wait."



         Kimura groaned, stirred, and raised his aching head off the floor. The bodyguard saw Ishida, his cousin and coworker, sprawled on his face about a yard away. Nearby was the wide-open door to a prison cell, empty save for the dismembered corpse of Shimada the jailer.
         As best as Kimura could remember, he and Ishida had both been instructed to retrieve the shape-changing demon Lei Wulong. Wulong was supposed to have been the only living being left within this cell, but two other prisoners had surprised the matched pair of bodyguards, and...
         ...thinking about the disaster only made Kimura's head hurt more.
         "Ishida?" he probed, retrieving his tranquilizer rifle from where it had fallen during the struggle. "Ishida, oki-nasai! Daijoubu ka?"
         "Ugh." Ishida sat part-way up, rubbing his forehead. "Atama ga itai."
         <Worry about your headache later; the prisoners have escaped! We must warn Mishima-sama of this threat!>
         <If we do, he will kill us for our failure,> Ishida soberly pointed out.
         <Your point being?>
         <Sorry. They must have hit me harder than I thought.>
         Kimura helped his cousin to stand. <We must also notify master Lee of the healer and both shape-shifters->
         <'Both'? I thought Lei Wulong was the only demon.>
         <Didn't you pay attention at our briefing? If the monk Liu Kang should free himself of his restraining device, then the entire syndicate is in mortal danger, because he can transform himself into a monstrous->
         "...rrrrrrRRRRR..." A rumbling, reverberating sound shook the walls and floor, echoing with ominous portent. It was coming closer. Fast.
         <Gods...!> Ishida gulped. An unfamiliar tautness paralyzed him. He had not known such fear in decades.
         "...RRRRRRAGH!" A searing gout of orange-red flame blasted through a wall scarcely ten feet away from the bodyguards.
         Doom itself had come.
         It surged through the hole in the wall, a massive force of nature bent on death and destruction. Short limbs supported its scaly, sinuous body as it reared on its hind legs like a mongoose. Concentrated hatred glittered in its tawny eyes. Its cavernous, crocodile jaws, great enough to swallow a man whole, parted. Ishida stood in place, mesmerized by jutting fangs the length of his forearm.
         "YOU TWO, AGAIN!?" boomed dragon-Kang, gnashing his teeth in frustration. "WHERE IS KAZUYA MISHIMA? I SPARED YOUR LIVES ONCE; IF YOU WANT TO KEEP THEM, YOU WILL TAKE ME TO YOUR MASTER NOW!"
         Kimura fired his tranquilizer rifle at the monster's underbelly. The darts rebounded harmlessly off the beast's deep-green, diamond-shaped scales.
         "LITTLE WORMS, YOU ARE MAKING ME ANGRY!"
         Ishida's hypnosis gave way to outright panic, as he regained the lucidity to cry, <Kimura! We must run!>
         <Never!> Kimura proclaimed, firing the last of his darts at the beast's head. It blinked; the slender missiles could not penetrate its scaly eyelids.
         <We can't warn Mishima-sama if the monster kills us!>
         "WHAT ARE YOU SAYING? SPEAK IN A LANGUAGE I CAN UNDERSTAND, YOU INSIGNIFICANT-"
         <For MISHIMA-SAMA!> Kimura screamed, charging forward and swinging the blunt stock of his empty rifle at the dragon's nose. The beast recoiled from the blow, and its growl became a roar of pure outrage.
         "YOU DARE!? YOU WILL BURN!"
         <No!> Ishida shrieked, throwing himself to one side, but Kimura never moved, never flinched from the torrid inferno that cascaded from the dragon's jaws. Ishida could not help staring in shocked, horrified fascination as the white-hot flames engulfed his cousin. Kimura's last wail cut short as the flesh melted from his hands and face, his blood boiled into vapor, and his body tore itself apart in a superheated eruption.
         "NOW, LITTLE WORM, TAKE ME TO KAZUYA OR YOU TOO WILL BURN!" The dragon riveted its pitiless eyes where Ishida had been, but the bodyguard was there no longer; echoes of his rapidly retreating footsteps sounded further down the hall.
         "FOOL! YOU CANNOT HIDE FROM ME; YOUR SCENT BETRAYS YOUR TRAIL!" The reptilian behemoth charged after its terrified prey.



         Lee Chaolan lay on the floor.
         Bruises covered his body, and hastily wrapped bandages blotted the dull crimson leaking from his knife-savaged knees. He could taste the warm, salty wetness of blood in his mouth.
         Did he have any broken bones?
         Attempts to move sent figurative pins and needles down the length of his muscles. But that wasn't the true source of his agony.
         She had run away and left him. Again.
         It had taken years - long, slow, painful years - for emotional scars to knit, after the first time his beautiful fiancée had abandoned him. After she'd left him alone in a syndicate full of slaves and killers, as isolated as he'd been when he was an orphan on the streets of Canton. Now the old wounds were torn open once more.
         "Jun-chan," he entreated, stretching a trembling hand in the direction he had last seen her, chasing after dragon-Kang. "Naze...?"
         It hurt. It hurt so much. More than physical pain. More than the torture of a guilty conscience. More than the psychic wails of the murdered souls that clawed at him, this hurt. He'd rather anything, anything than to relive the old nightmare. He'd rather he were dead-!
         No. He'd rather she were dead.
         His knife - the very weapon he had used to kill Michelle, and that Liu Kang had used to cripple him - was on the floor. Its crossguard with the emblem of a prancing unicorn dangled before his eyes. He gripped his unicorn knife in one hand and looked upon its blade. Reflected on its length, marred by drying trails of blood, was his silver-haired, fire-scarred face.
         His hand tightened upon the weapon's hilt.
         "No," the silver-haired devil insisted, emphatically. "You're not running away from me again. You won't. I won't have it!"
         He tried to push himself up, and shook with pain when his wounded knees would not suffer his weight. Lee bared his teeth in a feral snarl, and dragged himself on his stomach, unmindful of the crimson trail that dripped from the bindings around both his legs. His unicorn knife securely in hand, Lee shut out the distress with an act of will and crawled, inch by torturous inch, down the dragon's trail.



         Ishida ran for his life.
         He could hear the monster crashing after him, gaining on him. What could he do? Guns wouldn't stop the beast, and he couldn't outrun it. He couldn't even raise an alarm or seek help; virtually everyone else in the syndicate had been drafted to fight in the war outside. If only he could warn Mishima-sama! But Ishida was not a telepath; he could not speak to Mishima-sama's mind unless Mishima-sama contacted him first. Worse, the dragon blocked the only way out of these rows of prison cells. Ishida fled deeper within the syndicate's bowels, praying for a miracle.
         "RRREEYOWWL! YOWWL!"
         Alex's piercing, wrathful screams rang in Ishida's ears as he passed her cell. Ishida did not pause to look at the saurian, for the dragon was nearly upon him.
         ""RRRRAAAAWL!"
         "WHAT, LITTLE SISTER? ARE YOU HELD PRISONER? THEN I SHALL SET YOU FREE!" The clatter of breaking iron bars sounded behind Ishida. He could not stop his head from turning as he rounded a corner. He got a momentary glimpse of Alex springing from the wreckage of her former jail, and voicing an inhuman screech.
         Then he collided with two hundred and seventy-five pounds of rigid flesh.
         "Nani!?" Ishida wheezed, reeling. He stared into the glazed eyes of Ganryu, the former sumo wrestler. <What are you doing here?>
         Ganryu scarcely seemed to have noticed the impact. In a mechanical monotone, he said, <Mishima-sama is my master. Must protect Mishima-sama.>
         <How? There's a dragon after me, but I don't know how to kill it! There must be some way to escape, or warn Mishima-sama! What can we do?>
         <Must protect. Be loyal.>
         With a dismayed frown, Ishida remembered that Kazuya had burned out Ganryu's mind, leaving him like a zombie. The bodyguard pushed past Ganryu, and saw that he had come to a dead end.
         Oh, no. He was doomed. Doomed. Doomed-!
         "Hurrrr..."
         At first Ishida thought the dragon had arrived; then he followed the source of the sound past the bars of the last cell in this corridor, to Kuma's slavering mouth.
         "...rrrrRRRRHHUUL!" The mad bear reared on its hind legs, but its collar and chains held it securely attached to the wall. It swiped with its lethal paws, and shuffled anxiously amid the charnel pit of human remains that rotted within its lair.
         "THERE YOU ARE, LITTLE WORM!" the dragon boomed, as its horrible head poked around the last curve in these dungeons. It did not notice Ganryu or Kuma; all its malefic intent focused squarely on the terrified bodyguard. "THERE IS NOWHERE LEFT TO RUN. YOU WILL TAKE ME TO KAZUYA, OR YOU WILL BURN!"
         Ishida hatched a desperate plan.
         "Eigo ga wakarimasen," the bodyguard whimpered, backing alongside the bars of Kuma's cage. His trembling left hand somehow managed to withdraw the proper key from his suit, stab it in the cell door, and pry the grate open, all without his turning around.
         "SPEAK IN ENGLISH!" the dragon demanded, writhing closer. "WHERE IS KAZUYA? TELL ME, OR BE MY FOOD!"
         Ishida cried, "Remote lock 2784-Alpha: Disengage!"
         Heedless of the clank and rattle of loosened chains, the dragon bounded closer - and bellowed an enraged squall as two thousand pounds of frothing mad bear seized it in a hug.
         The dragon exhaled its torrential inferno on the beast. Kuma made a sound like an avalanche and tightened its grip. There came a sharp crack; the dragon voiced an oddly human scream and wriggled like a trapped snake. Its crocodile jaws clamped on Kuma's neck, shearing through tough skin and ripping open a waterfall of dripping blood, which sizzled and hissed as it contacted the dragonfire raging on the bear's fur. Kuma compressed its grip tighter still. A second, even more brutal crack sounded. Kuma's mouth distended wide with agony as it dropped its broken foe.
         Ishida sprinted around the warring behemoths, back the way he had come-
         "WAAAAAOWL!"
         -and into the claws of a vengeful Alex.
         She flipped in an acrobatic midair tumble, and her unnaturally strong, reptilian legs locked tight around his shoulders. Her knees pressed against the sides of his neck, and her spur-claws ripped through the cloth of his suit, drawing blood. Her vivid yellow eyes blazed with raw, merciless ferocity. Ishida's hands clutched at her thighs, futilely.
         "You killed Rrreptile," Alex growled, biting out each word.
         "I-I was only following orders," Ishida stuttered.
         Alex threw herself back, and her momentum lifted Ishida off his feet, as her legs pitched him head over heels. His neck hit the floor with an ugly crunch sound.
         The saurian threw back her head and raised her foreclaws, voicing a scream of triumph. Then she dashed away, in search of her imprisoned children.



         Far away, watching the spectacle through Shang Tsung's sorcery, Heihachi Mishima gasped as he saw the flames devour Kuma. The bear made a plaintive, animal cross between a growl and a wail as it reared on its hind legs and waved its burning paws. It crashed heavily on its stomach. Reddish-black blood gushed from its torn jugular, pooling next to the limp dragon even as it reverted to the form of a half-naked monk. The crackling fire on Kuma's fur lessened for want of fuel. Kuma grunted pathetically, twitched once, and lay still.
         "No!" Heihachi moaned, and for the first time in an age, heartache clouded his gruff, cruel voice. "My pet. My poor, poor pet..." His hand covered his jet black eyes, and he turned his face away from the carnage.
         "Why, Heihachi-kun," Shang Tsung mused, delightedly. "Are you crying?"



         Jun ran to catch up with dragon-Kang.
         Fatigue slowed her. She had recently expended a great deal of effort on healing sorcery, and nothing in this evil place could replenish her psyche. But she dared not stop to rest; Liu Kang needed her help. He'd assumed his dragon form and gone charging down the wrong way. Jun wondered if he'd even heard her protest. Damn it, didn't he remember the map of the syndicate they'd all studied prior to embarking on this mission? And if he didn't, then why hadn't he asked her for guidance? Liu Kang could be thickheaded sometimes, but he wasn't that stupid.
         She could only conclude that Lei had been right - when Kang was in dragon form, his IQ really did drop to the level of a rock.
         The dragon's trail was not hard to follow, marked as it was by fire, broken walls, claw marks, loud noise, and bodies. As Jun passed Kimura's charbroiled remains and Ishida's broken-necked form, one look apiece told her that they were well past any aid she could give. Smoke and the stench of burning flesh flooded her senses, as she rounded the final corner.
         "Shimatta!" Jun gasped.
         She found Liu Kang lying in a pool of blood, next to two thousand pounds of slain bear. Was the monk dead too? No, the faint motion of his chest and the whispers of the wind spirits lent her hope. And yet, there was something terribly wrong about the manner in which he sprawled, the ill angle at which his legs jutted away from him. She rushed to his side.
         A heavy-handed shove pushed her away, so roughly as to leave a bruise.
         "Dare desu ka!?" Jun snapped, summoning her Ki to her fingers despite the additional strain it put on her waning psyche. Her expression softened with recognition. "Oh, Ganryu, it's you. Please don't interfere; I think he's fractured his back, and if I don't heal him right away-"
         "Enemy," Ganryu said, without any trace of emotion. "He is Mishima-sama's enemy. Must protect Mishima-sama. Enemy must die."
         "Ganryu, don't you remember me? I know you're a caring, honorable person-"
         Jun broke off her plea, and turned pale as the wind spirits whispered the terrible truth. "Oh, no. What - what has Kazuya done to you?"
         "Enemy must die," the sumo wrestler flatly repeated. Putting his hands on his knees, which bent at right angles, he balanced himself high on one leg, about to bring his heel and the whole of his great weight upon Liu Kang's exposed throat.
         "NO!" Jun cried, rushing him.
         With a forceful grunt, Ganryu started to swing his heel down. A terrific double jolt drove into his gut as Jun left the ground and drop-kicked him, shoving both feet into the sumo wrestler's flesh. Caught off-balance, he topped backward and landed on his rear. Jun nimbly sprang upright well before the sumo wrestler could begin his torpid rise to his feet.
         "You enemy," he declared, in the dull, chilling voice of the living dead.
         Jun blinked back tears. "I'm sorry, Ganryu. I don't know how to restore your mind - I don't even know if it can be done - and I can't afford to fight you right now."
         "You must die." The sumo wrestler lumbered toward her, his ham-like legs taking methodical steps, his thick hands shoving their palms in an alternating, thrusting rhythm.
         "Shogai!" Jun declared. She flexed her palm and pushed it out, matching Ganryu's strike. Her palm met his; the healer poured her will and her soul into a flashing barrier of pure Ki, which she deliberately molded around the sumo wrestler's entire body. White sparks surrounded him; he jerked spasmodically, but Jun's touch became an inescapable link as she twisted her fingers around his wrist and redoubled her sorcery.
         Ganryu's glazed eyes rolled up, almost inside his head, and he slumped to the ground, insensate.
         "Doomo sumimasen," Jun regretfully apologized, letting him go. "Maybe we can find a doctor who knows some way to help you. I don't know. I just don't know."
         The wind spirits whispered an anxious reminder of Liu Kang's plight. Jun knelt in silent acknowledgment, shaping her Power into a uniform, psychic tray that gently lifted the monk and turned him on his side. She removed the bloodied coat-scrap that had served its purpose as a bandage around her leg, and used it to support the unconscious monk's head. Jun lightly touched Liu Kang's spine; through her Talent, she could feel his fractures, misaligned vertebrae, and internal hemorrhaging.
         If she did not heal him quickly, then at the very least he would be paralyzed for life. At worst, he would die.
         Jun began to sing.
         She could feel her endurance ebbing with the first note. Subduing Ganryu had brought her to the threshold of collapse; she wasn't sure she could sustain herself through a healing spell of this magnitude, and yet she had to. If the energy was not within her, then she would have to draw upon her own determination, and beyond, past reserves long since emptied and into the heart of her being. It was not a matter of whether she could do it; it had to be done, and that was that.
         The notes of her song grew fainter. The white glow of her Ki subsided into a soft luminescence, and her hands trembled. Piece by inexorable piece, subliminal darkness converged upon the borders of her awareness, until she was lost to it completely.



         Ganryu stirred.
         He was no longer cognizant of the passage of time, nor could he piece together events in a logical chain of cause and effect, so that he was incapable of wondering how long he had been unconscious. All he remembered was that the man on the floor and the comatose young woman slumped next to him were enemies of Mishima-sama. Enemies that had to be destroyed. The woman was closer, so he gripped her neck in his left hand. She did not awaken as he hefted her off the ground and cocked his right hand, ready to deliver the lethal blow.
         "Yameno!" shouted a voice filled with rancor and acrimony. Ganryu turned his head in the direction of the sound. The rest of his body did not follow.
         Ganryu's deadened mind did not recognize his former friend, Lee Chaolan. He saw only a young man, too badly injured to pose any immediate threat to Mishima-sama. Lee's right hand clung tightly to the bars of Kuma's cell, holding him up in place of his wounded legs. Lee's left hand held his unicorn-hilt dagger a scant inch away from the sumo wrestler and his helpless victim.
         "Woman is Mishima-sama's enemy. Woman must die." No clemency showed in Ganryu's blank face. There could be no reasoning with him, no appealing his implacable death sentence.
         "Not at your hand. You haven't earned the privilege," Lee seethed.
         "Must kill enemies."
         "No. You will not," the silver-haired devil refused. Coldness gathered in his auburn eyes as he rested the tip of his dagger between Jun's fourth and fifth left-hand ribs, at the precise angle to pierce her heart. "I will do the killing."


End of Chapter 22: The Dragon and the Unicorn


END OF PART IV: REDEMPTION