written by Victar, e-mail
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Chapter 6: Hell Hath No Fury

   "If only we could so easily leave behind those parts of ourselves that pain us."
          -Crovax, Segmented Wurm of Magic: the Gathering

February 6, 2018
7:15 a.m.

         Hey! It's you!
         I haven't seen you alllll weekend! C'mon, walk to school with me? Please? Panda won't bite you, I know she won't, she never bites people unless they're mean to her, I promise. She knows that if she starts biting people again I won't take her to school anymore. Jin sometimes walks to school with us, but today he's gotta see a doctor for something, I don't know exactly what. It's funny, I don't think he's sick, is he? I mean, this is like the third time in the last two weeks, the third time I know about anyway, do you think he's sick? He doesn't look like he's sick. I know he's been kind of down lately, I know, I hear Julia's making him get counseling he's been so down, but this doctor he's seeing today isn't a psycheer - psychieo- he isn't a head doctor, he's a body doctor. I don't get it. And you wanna know the really funny thing? I don't think Jin gets it, either. It's like he's just going along with something. When I asked him if he's sick, he said no, he feels fine, thanks for asking, but when I asked him why he has to go to a doctor, he just shrugged. Like he doesn't know either.
         Dumb telepath's getting his homework faxed to him, too. I wish I could pretend to be sick all day and get my homework faxed.
         Yeah, I'm on my medicine. I have to take it during the day so I can sit still at school. You didn't know? I thought I told you last time-
         -do I really act that different when I'm taking it?
         It's funny how different the whole world looks. It's funny 'cause in a way, I can see the whole world. I'm not constantly being drawn twenty ways by every little noise and light and bright idea, I can open a book and read it and think about it all class period even if it's boring, I can sit up and pay attention to the teacher even if I've heard the lecture before. It's not easy, but I can do it. But I can't let go so easy. It's tough to make up stories for creative writing class, in art class I don't know what to do with the colors. When it's night and my homework's done and I'm free to play at my park I have thousands of ideas and thousands of color pictures, but they all sort of flatten out in black and white next morning when I take my pill again. It's weird. I could never take this stuff all the time, I'd be a zombie.
         Another zombie.
         Ever think it's weird that the syndicate has so many zombies in it?
         By "zombies" I mean, like, dead people. Or people who almost should be dead, came really close to it, like. Lee is so nice, it's easy to forget he's dead, I mean dead for real, he was buried in a mass grave halfway around the world and everything, I know 'cause I asked him once. You'd think he should be scary but he isn't, he's the nicest dead person I know. Bryan's not so nice. He's a jerk. I wanna smack him he's such a jerk, but I know Lee wouldn't like that, so I don't. Jin really scared me, I saw the whole thing, it was horrible, I wonder if he's seeing a doctor because he didn't heal so good? And I'm not even gonna start on when Hwoarang was here! And you, Jin told me all about you - did it hurt really bad? Were you scared?
         Uncle Wang wasn't scared.
         I miss him...
         I thought you weren't gonna interview me anymore. I said I was sorry I made you go on my ride and puke your guts out, I said it and I meant it, I really did, but it was like you just wanted to hide from me. You hurt my feelings. Change your mind? Forgive me?
         Okay. I forgive you, too.
         Yeah, I can tell you more about Uncle Wang. And the first time I saw Heihachi. And how I came here. Yeah, actually it's all mixed up into the same thing, it's like - it's like-
         You know how bored I used to be up at the Temple of Light, don't you?
         I mean, I loved it when once a year Uncle Wang would take me to visit amusement parks alllll over the world - I loved that so much, I did, I did - but most of the time, all I could do was study and learn to fight with the same little group of people. It was so boring. There weren't any other kids my age. I did have friends, but most of 'em belonged to the Order of Light, and they had to train so hard they didn't have much time left over to play with me. Every once in a long while we'd get visitors, usually someone looking to join the Order of Light, and I liked to watch them take the tests. I was so excited to see whether they'd get in or not - huh? - oh no, I never tried to join myself. Too much work, not enough fun. I just lived there, and boy was I bored.
         Except when Lei Wulong Super Police came to visit for over half a year, like late spring through the beginning of winter, I wasn't bored when he was there 'cause he was cool and really fun. He trained hard, too - I liked to watch him sometimes, he'd train next to this big gold Buddha statue on a rocky shelf maybe a mile above the Temple. I liked watching him balance a rice bowl on his hands, he was so good he could spin around and instantly switch his hands under it and practice these twirling jump kicks and never lose the bowl. I liked watching him snatch eggs off bamboo poles, he'd lean back like he was dancing and his big long ponytail would fan out all feathery and pretty. I liked watching him whip this big sword around in speedy patterns so fast it spun like an airplane propeller, he could do that for a really long time before his hand would get tired out and the sword would go flying away. Sometimes the rest of him would get more tired, and he'd fall asleep when he was supposed to be training. But he really was extra nice, because he'd also make time to play with me, and spar with me, and tell me stories if I stayed on my very best behavior - huh? - yeah, that's right, this was when I was twelve. How'd you know that?
         Well, I missed Lei a lot when he left the Temple, 'cause then my life went back to being really boring again, even Uncle Wang couldn't pay as much attention to me as before. He was getting so old, and his heart was so much weaker than it used to be. I remember the night he first told me about that, told me he wasn't strong enough to do as much with me anymore, told me he'd made the rest of the Temple promise not to take any special measures when it was his time. I don't think I really understood what he meant by "special measures," or "his time." It was like he'd been taking care of me forever, you know? He'd lived for over a hundred years, so how could he ever go away?
         I was even more bored and lonely though, 'cause he couldn't play with me as much, and when I turned sixteen he got really weak - so weak he couldn't take me traveling to amusement parks like we went every year. I was so unhappy! Unhappy and scared, scared for Uncle Wang, but I still couldn't believe anything would happen to him. I told myself he'd get better and then we'd go see the parks like always, it would be all right, everything would be fine, I told myself this for a long time and Uncle Wang didn't get stronger, when winter came he took a chill and got sick.
         And then Heihachi came to visit.
         It was snowing when I saw him on the path up to the Temple, it was snowing and icy cold outside. I watched him from when I first spotted him far away, like a tiny little dot no bigger than my fingernail. He was funny to watch. He was like - like Hwoarang, you know? Confused. Like he couldn't stay on the path to the Temple, he'd turn away every so often and start tracking through the snow, until the kid he was with had to take his hand and lead him back the right way - huh? - oh no, I don't know who the kid was, some boy maybe ten years old. He was probably from the small town near the bottom of the mountain. The Temple used to be a lot more isolated until maybe five years ago, when they started building new towns on the mountainside.
         Anyway, Heihachi was coming up the trail, only I didn't know who he was at first, I didn't know that until the Temple sentries fetched Grandmaster Seung Mina - Grandmistress Seung Mina? - I'm not sure how to translate her title, she was just in charge. She wheeled out on top of the Temple steps, and stared at the wandering man as he slowly, slowly got bigger.
         Then she said "Heihachi," like she'd just tasted something really awful and wanted to spit it back out.
         "You know him?" I asked Seung Mina. I was bored and curious about this new guy, I wanted to find out more about him, maybe learning would take my mind off worrying about Uncle Wang.
         "He bad man. Rule Mishima syndicate. Hurt or kill anyone who get in his way." Seung Mina looked at me, sharply, her eyebrows got really flat, but I don't think she was mad at me. She just gets that way whenever she's worried. "You go in Temple. No come out until Heihachi gone."
         "Whaaaat? Why?"
         "I tell you go!" I couldn't argue with her anymore, I just couldn't, I was too ashamed and sorry to talk back to her ever since Hwoarang broke her back and put her in a wheelchair all because of me. But she hadn't told me to run inside, so I moved kind of slowly, while she and the sentries all glared at Heihachi as mean as they possibly could. Heihachi reached the bottom of the Temple steps, and you wanna know what I heard? I heard Heihachi's voice, I heard it, I knew it had to be him 'cause it was so deep and gruff and strong and very old, Heihachi was an old man, not as old as Uncle Wang though.
         He said, "Here. Retrace your steps. My servants will take you home." I took one last look over my shoulder, and you wanna know what I saw? I saw Heihachi give the kid more money than I'd ever seen in one place at one time, that's what! There were more big, crinkly bills than I'd got to spend in a whole week of touring amusement parks! And the way Heihachi did it, like he didn't even care, like he was tossing a few coins in the bowl of a beggar! My jaw dropped wide open, I couldn't stop staring, I stared at the kid as he ran away.
         Seung Mina glowered at Heihachi and said, "My people watch you. You and child. He better make it back safe, or-"
         "Save your self-righteous prattle," Heihachi snorted. "I have given my word. If you are too ignorant to know any else of me, then know that I always keep my promises. Is it my fault you have hidden your pathetic Temple so well that only children can find it?"
         "Not just children. Anyone with good heart. What wrong, Heihachi? All your slaves as selfish as you?"
         "I am not here to respond to your meaningless indignities-"
         "What about your grandson? I sure he find us, easy. Why no have him guide you?"
         "Quiet! You are of no importance. I have come to speak with-"
         "You afraid to bring Jin Kazama here? Afraid we tell him about you? About real you?"
         "Where is Liu Kang?" Heihachi roared, I mean really roared, he sounded like a big tiger, a man-eating tiger ready to eat someone! "Tell him that the King of the Iron Fist demands an audience with the Temple of Light's greatest warrior!"
         "You no King of Iron Fist. You no beat old champion! Your son Kazuya was old champion; where you when we all fight him in Great Invasion? You hide when rest of us fight and die! You hide when Lei Wulong challenge Kazuya to single combat!"
         "I am warning you-"
         "You no deserve title; you just pretend it yours after war over!"
         "-you sorely test my patience-"
         "Real King of Iron Fist is Lei Wulong!"
         "-WHERE IS LIU KANG!?"
         They traded more shouts back and forth, Seung Mina cool and really nasty, Heihachi so fierce he echoed off the stone! It was so exciting. I didn't want to go any further inside, I wanted to stay and watch, but one of the sentries noticed me and made me scoot deep into the Temple, too deep to listen to what was going on. The last thing I could make out for certain was Seung Mina's teasing: "No, Heihachi. Temple proper have even stronger wards against evil. You no climb steps unless we say!"
         It was all so exciting, I wanted to tell Uncle Wang right away.
         I ran straight to his sickbed, just barely remembered to tiptoe as I got close. If he was sleeping I wouldn't wake him up, I wouldn't, but if he was awake I wanted ask him all about Heihachi; why was Seung Mina so mad at this gruff old man with more money than I could dream of? What did he ever do to her? He didn't sound like he knew her.
         Uncle Wang was awake.
         He looked awful. He'd been losing weight, losing his appetite ever since he got sick, and now he'd grown so pale and thin, you could see the bones in his face he was so thin, and he was so weak he could hardly sit up on his own, he had to be propped up with pillows. His head turned like he could see me, and in a way maybe he could, even though he was blind he could always turn and face people like he knew right where they were, don't ask me how. He had to take a deep breath before he could speak, and his voice was soft and whispery, like he could barely say anything at all.
         He said, "Little one? Xiaoyu, my child, are you there?"
         "Yes, Uncle Wang." I'd been in such a hurry to ask him questions, but seeing him this far gone stopped me, stopped the words right in my mouth. I started to feel so scared inside, for the first time in my life I began to really wonder what I'd do if Uncle Wang wasn't around anymore. I was so scared I couldn't think of asking him anything.
         But I didn't have to ask him, he asked me. "Little one, please, tell me. The others will not give me an answer, for they do not want to upset me, yet I must know. Heihachi Mishima has come to our Temple, has he not? The King of the Iron Fist is here now? At our very steps?"
         I couldn't even think of not answering, or trying to hide the answer. "Y-yes, Uncle Wang. You know him, too?"
         "I held him in my arms when he was an infant. I played games with him when he was a little boy. I was a guest of honor at his wedding; I rescued his son from certain death..." Old Uncle Wang bowed his head, he looked so tired and unhappy, I wanted to hug him and try to cheer him up but I was too scared to move. "Oh Jinpachi, what has become of your beloved only child? Is there no way to break the curse upon the House Mishima?"
         I was so mixed up and scared and worried for Uncle Wang my mind was all crazy, jumping from thought to thought without figuring out completely what was going on, but now something jumped out at me. "Heihachi Mishima." Uncle Wang had called him "Heihachi Mishima," Seung Mina said the old guy in front of the Temple ruled the "Mishima syndicate," he wasn't any other Heihachi, he was Heihachi Mishima. I did know who Heihachi Mishima was, I did, I'd never seen his picture before or anything but I knew about him. No one ever really talked about him up at the Temple, but I'd heard a little bit about him from when I went traveling with Uncle Wang. Heihachi was the big boss of the Mishima syndicate, the boss of this really huge business that owned so much everywhere! That's why he was so rich, rich and powerful, he didn't just have enough money to tour lots and lots of amusement parks, he could probably BUILD a great big huge amusement park if he really wanted to! The biggest, best, most exciting amusement park in the whoooole world!
         I didn't get something, though. Wasn't Heihachi really a good guy? I mean, what I'd heard about his Mishima syndicate was how they did all these really good things after the Great Invasion, how they stopped bloody wars and horrible famines, how they used all their incredible top-secret science to turn the whole world green again! Aren't these good things? Didn't a good man do them? So why did Seung Mina say Heihachi was a bad man? Uncle Wang didn't think Heihachi was a bad man - did he? If Heihachi really was a bad man, then why did Uncle Wang feel so sorry for him?
         I didn't get it at all. Maybe Seung Mina was wrong about Heihachi? I was almost sure she'd never met him before, something about the way she acted told me that. But then why-?
         "Little one," Uncle Wang said, soft and hoarse and desperate, his frail old hand took my wrist and held it, just held it, not very strong though and he was trembling. "My dear child, please help me up. Help me walk. Take me to Heihachi."
         "But Uncle Wang..." He was in no shape to stand, no shape to walk. I knew that, I knew it.
         "You must," he said, squeezing my wrist, I think he was trying to make me feel better. "My destiny is unalterable, but his is not. I must speak to him one more time; my spirit will not rest if I am denied this chance. Please, Xiaoyu. Help me. Do not be afraid of what is to come; my love shall always be with you."
         I couldn't tell Uncle Wang no. I just couldn't. So I let him lean on me, he could hardly hold up his own weight but he'd grown so thin and light it wasn't hard for me. It's kind of funny that no one in the Temple stopped us, but I think that's because they were all out front, guarding the Temple steps, watching Seung Mina and Heihachi argue. The closer I got, the better I could hear them.
         I heard Heihachi shout, "Why has Liu Kang not responded to my challenge? Is he dead, or merely enfeebled? And the rest of you as well - do none of you wish to have the Mishima syndicate grant your greatest desires? Is NO ONE here strong enough to brave the Iron Fist Tournament!?"
         "Liu Kang gone to protect other worlds. I no let lesser students of Order be your cannon fodder! You want our strongest fighter on Earth, you want Champion of Great Invasion, you know where you find him; it not here! Go look for true King of Iron Fist! Go make plea to LEI WULONG!"
         Oh, Heihachi looked so mad! Made like he was shaking, mad like he gonna explode! But before he could go boom, Uncle Wang and I were there, and Uncle Wang raised his hand.
         This fuzzy blue-white glow was on his fingers.
         I knew that fuzzy blue-white glow, I knew it, he called it his Chi and sometimes he used it to heal people, he'd used to it save Seung Mina when Hwoarang almost killed her. But now Uncle Wang was using it to make a pretty light, a light that grew so strong it shined like a star, a beautiful star, it made everyone stop what they were doing, it made everyone turn and look at him, even Seung Mina, even Heihachi. It was so beautiful I could have stared at it forever, but I was scared too, because I knew that the more Uncle Wang put himself into the star, the less himself he had inside himself, and he was so sick and weak he didn't have much of himself left inside, I knew he didn't.
         But when he called the star it was like he changed completely. His eyes had been blind and gone; now it was like he had new eyes, blue-white star eyes. I wasn't holding him up anymore; he was standing tall and strong, strong like a statue, head up, chin out, strong like the Uncle Wang I used to know as a little girl, maybe even stronger. And when he spoke, his voice didn't sound weak and sick anymore; it was strong, and it had this echo, like drums pounding deep in your head. It was the voice he used when his Power made him see the future.
         "Heihachi Mishima. You have been drawn here for a purpose. In name of the friendship I shared with your father, in name of the love I hold for your family, I charge you to listen - listen before it is too late! I know of your true intent in resurrecting the Iron Fist Tournament, and I know where it will lead you!
         "The Toshin is not merely immortal; it is Immortality given flesh, a force of Nature as destructive as Death itself! To summon it is to confront annihilation. To dream of controlling it is the pinnacle of madness! You can never harness it for your own ends, for only purity within and purity without can close the wound that is Toshin!
         "I know the terror that drives you. You dream yourself ruler of the world when you yourself are ruled most cruelly of all, vassal to your own hatred, slave to your own fear. It is a terrible thing that you fear, terrible and justly dreaded by all humanity, yet the future you chart for yourself is immeasurably worse! It is not too late to turn away from the darkness, to cherish the lives around you, to shape your deeds with nobility and honor instead of hatred and fear. Know this once and for all: if you proceed down your dark path, if you continue to sacrifice human life upon your altar of hatred and fear, then your own evil shall feed upon you. Death shall consume you inevitably, as it consumes all mortals - but your Death shall come by your own hand, even as it came to your sons by theirs! You shall strike yourself down in wretched ignominy, fulfilling the curse of the House Mishima! As one who loved you like my own child, I beg you to repent your sins, else not even love can save you - save you from your doom..."
         Suddenly, Uncle Wang couldn't stand anymore. The blue-white glow on his fist got really dim, it wasn't a star anymore, it was just a little candle, and then it wasn't even that, and I felt him leaning on me again. Other people started to move, other Temple people, they came closer to us, but Uncle Wang didn't raise his head or say anything to them, he didn't say anything at all.
         Something was wrong.
         Uncle Wang wasn't breathing.
         I screamed when the awful truth hit me, screamed his name as loud as I could, and the other members of the Order came to me at once, but they didn't try to help Uncle Wang; they just pulled me away, tried to calm me, said they were sorry, I didn't understand, why weren't they helping Uncle Wang? I know there are ways to make a person breathe, make his heart beat even if his body gives up on its own, I even know how to do it, why weren't they doing it? Why wouldn't they let me go? I couldn't think why they wouldn't do it, everything was all turned around, they took Uncle Wang away and Seung Mina held me, and then I realized a long time had passed, maybe half an hour, Heihachi was gone. Uncle Wang had stopped breathing and he wasn't gonna start again ever, I was never gonna see him again, he died right in front of me and the rest of the Temple didn't even do anything.
         Something in me hurt real bad. Hurt so bad that crying wasn't enough, tears wouldn't make it stop.
         I couldn't take it anymore, I couldn't take any of it. Getting away from Seung Mina was easy. Getting away from the rest of the Temple was harder, but I was smaller than them and faster and I did know how to fight by then, I did. I knew how to push and pull and make their bodies flip over even if they were twice my size, I knew how to dodge them and run fast like the winter wind. I ran into the blizzard and into the snowstorm, I ran into the cold and felt tears freeze on my face. I ran for another hour, the blizzard stopped and the wind died and I was lost until I stumbled on Heihachi's footprints.
         At least, I thought they were Heihachi's footprints, 'cause they were big and pointing away from the Temple and only half snowed-over. Far, far away, I think I heard one of the Temple acolytes call my name. I could follow the voice, or I could follow the footprints.
         I ran after the footprints. I ran, and I ran, and I ran, and I never, ever went back.

         Well, here's my school. Mine and Jin's. 'Mishima Industry Senior Specialty School,' isn't that a funny name? Thanks for walking with me, I guess.
         I - I'm okay, really, I am. I'm all right. It's just...
         ...Uncle Wang...
         ...Jin and me were shopping the other day. I stopped in front of a carved wooden puzzle in the window, carved like Uncle Wang used to make for me, and I couldn't move, I just stood there looking at it for so long. Jin saw me looking so he bought it for me, and it took me all night to solve too, I didn't even go to my WonderLand park that night I was so busy working on the puzzle. And the next morning my pillow was wet and soaked, I must have cried all night but I don't remember any of it.
         I... I've asked Lee where Uncle Wang is now, if he knows where Uncle Wang is. He says it doesn't matter. He says that wherever Uncle Wang is now, he'd be proud of me, and that's what really matters. I wonder if that's true, if Uncle Wang really would be proud. I know Lee thinks it's true, but I wonder if it's really true. I feel bad because I - because I did something horrible after I left the Temple. Everyone tells me now that it's not my fault, everyone, even Jin tells me that now, but I still feel bad about it because nothing I can do will ever fix it. I guess I've done some good things too, I've tried to do some good things; if you compare the good stuff with the bad stuff, can it all cancel out?
         Sometimes I'm at my park and I have the greatest fun, it's absolutely wonderful. Sometimes I'm playing with Panda and I really enjoy myself. And sometimes it's really hard to live here, I wake up in the morning and I don't wanna face anything, especially not another day at school. But Lee and Jin and Julia and Panda and you are all very nice, you all listen to me. I think that's what I didn't like most about the Temple of Light. No one there would really listen to me, except for Uncle Wang.
         Well, also Lei Wulong. But he'd fall asleep if I talked too much.
         You're not falling asleep, are you?
         Oh, that's right. You get tired kind of easy now, don't you? I'm sorry, I forgot. So I guess I'm extra grateful you could walk to school with me, okay? You need any money for a taxi home? I always bring more lunch money than I really need, just in case. No one ever steals it from me, they know I'd beat 'em up if they tried. You sure you don't need any taxi money?
         No? Okay.
         Gotta go. Bye!

EXCERPT: private journal of Heihachi Mishima
November 15, 2017

         At last. A breakthrough!
         Four years. For over four long years I have fretted, impatiently biding my misgivings, driven frantic by the possibility that the Toshin and its elixir of Immortality could elude my grasp! I must persevere until its secrets are in my hands, and I gain the Power to Live forever!
         The dilemma is greater than simply weathering the passage of Time. Although the Toshin is destined to escape its banishment in a matter of months, there will remain the problem of tracking it when it returns to this world. My grandson arrogantly believes that he will be its first target. Perhaps he is correct, perhaps not; I cannot take the chance. I cannot risk that the Toshin will be slow to find him, or that it will catch the syndicate unawares when it does. No; in order to gain control of the Toshin, I must deliberately summon it, into the ambush of my choosing. And for four and a half years, I have struggled to learn how I may do precisely that.
         Guatemoc, you miserable wretch.
         You were the only one who understood sufficient ancient Nahuatl to decipher the runic carvings of the Toshin's tomb. Yet you failed to leave behind a permanent record of what you knew, may Damnation curse your devoured soul! You considered us unbelievers too "impure" to share your beloved holy tongue, and then, you had the gall to be murdered by your own god! Your untimely death stalled me for four interminable years!
         Because of you, I had to unleash this problem upon the twenty of the world's most accomplished language scientists. I drove them to study it until they pleaded for rest, and still I had no answer. Until at last, they began to recognize key secrets - they said that it was process of elimination, that supercomputer pattern matching over the course of years had brought them to their goal. At last, I know. I know everything the runes say about the Toshin. I know how to invoke it from the nether void!
         The linguists have served me well. It is regrettable that they must be killed.
         It cannot be helped. I cannot risk their knowledge falling into outside hands. I have arranged for the 'accident' to be swift and painless; their families shall receive ample reparations. It is the least I can do.

November 16, 2017

         All has been settled; I am the sole remaining man to know the Toshin's Immortal secrets. Now, I prepare to summon it in its true form.
         In order to have any chance of success, I need a host of strong warriors. The Toshin is drawn to living souls of great Power; to create a nexus that will attract it, I must first gather a convocation of the mightiest and most courageous people to walk the Earth. And I know how best to ensure this.
         The Iron Fist Tournament must be renewed!
         My syndicate has not hosted the Iron Fist Tournament for over twenty years, ever since the damnable Lei Wulong closed its last incarnation with the brutal murder of my son. But now, the bloodletting shall begin anew! I must prepare quickly. This time, I can afford to have no less than the finest caliber of participants. My servants shall extend personal invitations to strong fighters around the world, and promise them their greatest desires. Highest upon the recruitment list are all veterans of past Iron Fist Tournaments, and of the Great Invasion - all save Lei Wulong, whose unpardonable crime has earned him permanent ostracism from affairs of the House Mishima. The fighters shall battle; the weak shall be weeded out; and the finalists shall be brought here to lure the Toshin. They will believe that they fight to claim my title of King of the Iron Fist, but in truth they will fight for me, fight to make my destiny manifest!
         I shall have my Immortality!

November 27, 2017

         Liu Kang is nowhere to be found.
         Word of the Tournament has spread in a global frenzy, and my servants have secured much of what I need, but not all. I need the strongest soul I can find - the strongest soul that I know to exist, outside my own. I need Liu Kang, Grand Champion of the Order of Light, leader of the resistance to the Great Invasion! Yet my Tekkenshu cannot so much as locate his blasted home!
         I shall have to attend to this matter personally. Tomorrow morning, I depart for the Temple of Light. My grandson has offered his assistance, yet I have refused; I tell him that I must do this alone, and as a telepath he knows that I speak the truth. I am aware of Lei Wulong's close ties to the Order, and I will not have Jin exposed to their corruption.

November 30, 2017

         My pilgrimage to the Temple of Light has yielded nothing. Nothing! Liu Kang must surely be dead; if he were alive on this Earth, he would have to answer my challenge! And the legacy he leaves behind is truly pitiable - a monastery of neophytes, weaklings, cripples, and dying old men. Wang Jinrey pretended that he was trying to warn me, and he did - warned me with his emaciated body, warned me with his wrinkled flesh and dying breath. He warned me of what the abominable ravages of Age shall do to me if I do not obtain my Immortality, and soon.
         No one belonging to Liu Kang's Order of Light had the boldness to step forward in his stead. Their crippled shrew headmistress prohibited them. Her very denial is an admission of the Order's weakness. It would seem that the only associate of the Order with sufficient courage to brave the Iron Fist truly is Lei Wulong.
         Perhaps I have been too hasty to exclude him from my Tournament.
         Whatever else the vile murderer may be, he was strong enough to assassinate my son, and therefore strong enough to lure the Toshin. His presence can only help attract it into my grasp. It required the insolence of a female shrew-tongue to impress this point, but now that I contemplate the matter, I realize that I have been letting my emotions override my judgement. Though my hatred of Wulong fuels my strength, I cannot allow it to stand in the way of obtaining Immortality!
         Yet, by inviting Wulong, I shall be certain to satisfy my hatred as well. Once I have my Immortality, there will be no more reason to allow him another hour of life. When the time is right, it will be a simple matter to trap the animal and exact my revenge. Nor will he be my only target.
         The shrew-woman has delivered me insult, offended my honor, and given past succor to Lei Wulong. Unforgivable. For these transgressions, there will also be a reckoning. When I am Immortal, I shall have my retribution no matter how many spells blanket her home! If necessary, I shall have my Tekkenshu demolish the entire mountainside with an airborne bombardment!
         But more important matters come first. Tomorrow, I shall deliver Lei Wulong's invitation myself; it is too personal a task to entrust to my servants. Tonight, I must meditate. I shall need all my mental discipline to keep a tight rein upon my temper when I confront Wulong, else I shall strike him dead on the spot.

December 1, 2017

         It is to laugh.
         Lei Wulong, so-called champion of the Great Invasion and bane of the House Mishima, has been reduced to less than an infested dog. My spies had informed me that he was ill with liver cancer, that his malignancy had spread to his lymph and lungs, but I never once pictured him hacking as if to turn his stomach inside out. While I am annoyed to think that Nature may yet supplant my revenge, it is quite delicious to observe the humiliating punishment his own body exacts upon itself. He had better not perish from his sickness, not yet. I need his living soul to lure the Toshin.
         Yes, that is what I will do. I will let him live long enough to see the triumph of the House Mishima, embodied in my Immortal glory. Then I will personally eviscerate him, and relish it.
         He has, of course, accepted my invitation. He says that it must be fate. I know that he is lying. In the twisted recesses of his depraved mind, he still thinks of Jin Kazama as his son, and hopes to 'save' him. It is a pathetic delusion that Wulong holds; yet it is the infallible allure that shall inexorably draw him into my trap. Oh, how I shall savor it when the steel jaws close upon his throat!

December 2, 2017

         I pen this entry while I rest within my private luxury yacht, as it circumnavigates the Hong Kong coast. The peace of the cruise grants me the opportunity to compose my thoughts. My servants have informed me that the preliminary qualification matches for the Iron Fist participants are complete; the Tournament is now underway. I should dock at the next port and return to the syndicate headquarters by hoverjet, but first I need time to contemplate a problem:
         My grandson.
         He is a telepath. Keeping his Power in check is generally less difficult than might be expected, because he is loyally devoted to me. Yet how am I going to include him in the ritual to summon the Toshin? Though I have strived for over four years to wean him from his mother's softhearted teachings, with a very limited amount of success, there remains an impasse. I cannot let him know half the syndicate's activities, and instead must keep him in a figurehead position. In order to administrate the bulk of the syndicate's work, I must necessarily station remote agents far away from where Jin could 'accidentally' intercept their thoughts. This inefficient and unwieldy system has drastically slowed the syndicate's expansion, curtailed its revenue, and stalled my plans to enforce a peaceful world allegiance. And if Jin were to know the full extent of what must be done to summon the Toshin, he would never consent to it. He might even turn upon me.
         I shall have to keep the details secret from him for now; however, that shall only postpone the problem. What am I going to do? Perhaps if I were to subdue him prior to the ritual - yet it would be virtually impossible to ambush him. His empathy makes him hypersensitive to hostile intent, while the Power in his body renders him resistant to physical injury and chemical sedatives. My Tekkenshu could probably overwhelm him with brute force, but...
         I need a distraction.
         Something to divert him, while the Tournament progresses and I arrange the summoning ritual. Something to keep him off-balance, or simply absorb his time until I am ready. But what, exactly, shall I use to captivate a young man's attention?

December 4, 2017

         Today has been curious, to say the least.
         I was attempting to meditate, despite the restless thoughts that circled like vultures in my mind. It required intense self-discipline to compose myself; yet just as I was on the verge of equilibrium, shouts and clamor dispelled my state of calm.
         All the servants on my yacht are expected to observe strict silence during my hours of meditation. This disruption was inexcusable. Determined to personally flog whoever was responsible, I followed the noise to the dining patio, and viewed a ridiculously amazing sight.
         Two of my men, a Caucasoid and a Negro, circled a small girl dressed in vivid colors. I could perceive little of her at first glance, for she moved as quickly as a tiny flame. In a hyperactive frenzy, she climbed a white dining chair, stepped atop a matching table, and vaulted over the Caucasoid's head, turning a full-forward flip in midair without needing to tuck her sprightly figure into a ball. She landed on her feet directly behind and facing away from him, her arms spread in balance akin to an Olympic gymnast. He scarcely had time to peer over his shoulder before she hooked her right leg in sweeping backward kick. Her arms and torso bent low for counterbalance as her heel arced up, her knee folding at a right angle. Such was her flexibility that her extended foot seemed nearly liable to hit her own head.
         Intrigued by her natural fluidity, I noticed almost as an afterthought how her attack had struck her victim between the shoulder blades, catapulting him forward and off his feet. Swift as a spirit out of myth, she turned and faced him as he fell. Her arms circled counterclockwise toward the front of her body, as she stepped with her left side forward and her foremost leg bent in a wide, split-footed stance. Channeling much more strength through her willowy little body than should by any rights be possible, she pushed out with her left palm, shoving the falling man in the back. He collided with the Negro; both of them crashed into the whitewashed furniture, overturning the table and cracking their heads against the deck. They listlessly struggled to rise.
         The girl smiled, momentarily holding still in a classic pose, left palm outstretched, right arm raised and bent to shield the back of her head. Her exhilaration flowered into a child's taunt. Bringing her legs together with a lighthearted jump, she put her left hand on her hip, angled her right hand against her forehead, and bent halfway over in a false salute.
         "Hah!" the carefree nymph cried, wiggling her shoulders at the fallen men. Then she sprinted out the dining patio and disappeared.
         The Caucasoid twitched. The Negro tried to climb to his knees, but he sank back down, clutching the back of his head.
         I approached my men and demanded, "Who was that girl?"
         "...stowaway..." gasped the Caucasoid.
         "Indeed." Then, "Do not bother to get up. You are both fired."
         More commotion sounded from the starboard deck. I followed in astonishment. What has become of my syndicate? Are all my personnel so weak that a little pixie child can fling them about like paper toys?
         It pains me to contemplate the answer, for as I followed the nimble young hellion I had to kick aside three more groaning or unconscious bodies. I did not track a human being; it was a miniature hurricane that I found, cavorting in her whirlwind dance with four more partners - and these were my Japanese honor guard, not lesser gaijin such as she had playfully strewn about before.
         It did not distress her in the least that they surrounded her in a circle. A beaming, enthusiastic smile crossed her face as she charged the foremost one. He also lunged for her, yet he may as well have tried to swat a gnat with an ostrich feather; she did not so much evade him as literally run over him, planting her right shoe on his bent thigh as using it as a foothold to spring over his shoulder. Her left leg kicked back as she reached his other side, and her heel glanced disrespectfully against his head, making him stumble and kneel. The other three honor guards broke their formation, swarming past their dazed comrade. Even as they converged upon the pixie girl, she vanished from the ground, again flinging herself high in an aerial vault. This time, at the peak of her flight, she turned her upside-down, vertical body in a full clockwise midair twist. She alighted on her knees, directly atop the shoulders of her central attacker and facing the same way as he. Her right palm struck the man's forehead in a frenzied blur. She hopped backward off his shoulders, as he folded in on himself with a grunt.
         The other two guards made a dual grab for her; she ducked, sliding one foot forward and whipping her minute arms in speedy circles perpendicular to the ground. Her spinning hands slapped back the encroaching grasp of the nearest guard - left slap, right slap, and left again. The exertion caused her to practically touch her torso to the deck, though her legs remained spread and supporting her in a low, graceful brace with the bulk of her weight on the back heel, arms outstretched to either side. She remained poised in that bent stance like a resting butterfly, even as both guards crouched down to her level. Then she sprang forward, away from the further guard's follow-up attack and into the face of the nearest guard. This time she cast her entire body as a counterclockwise rotating disk, flat and keeping her front side parallel to the deck. Her heels spun as helicopter blades, striking the stooped man's face and forehead; she landed from her full turn and relaunched, hitting him again. He staggered, flopped back, and did not rise.
         The other guard had stumbled from his missed strike when his target whirled out of range; now, he closed the gap and gathered himself into a spring, perhaps wanting to drag his tiny antagonist down with the sheer weight of his pounce. He never left the ground. Without even turning to face him, she hopped back, locked her delicate pixie hands about his left arm, and flipped over his shoulder, using the force of her own momentum to swing a grown man twice her weight in an overhead pull. She hurled him face-first into the deck; wood under my feet shook from the impact. He rolled on his back, but did not get up.
         Only a single member of my honor guard remained standing, the one whom she had blithely used as a stepping stone. Still mildly disoriented from a kick to the back of the head, he nonetheless had regained enough of his senses to maneuver behind her line of sight. His hand crept inside the jacket of his black suit. I realized what he was doing even as he withdrew his snub-barreled handgun, but I could not believe it.
         To have my chosen elite crushed in battle was bad enough, but this was beyond humiliation - was this man so incompetent that he had to resort to shooting an unarmed girl? Did the fool have any idea how difficult it would be to conceal the murder of a child, especially from my telepathic grandson? If any word of this escaped, the scandal would utterly ruin my reputation!
         "STOP!" I exhorted, yet with the rising bile of revulsion, I saw his finger squeeze the trigger; my command had sounded too late for him to obey-
         -but not too late to warn the pixie girl, who reacted with the unearthly speed of her fairy ancestors. She did not turn around as the lethal slug tore from the firearm's muzzle; rather, she tumbled in a backwards roll, hurtling toward her enemy like a toy ball. The bullet flew harmlessly above her, and when she reached his feet her roll became a handspring kick. She planted both palms on the deck and thrust off it, extending her legs and flexing her heels; her entire body launched in an airborne cyclone spike that connected with the guard's chin. His head snapped back with an ugly, crunching sound, and he hurtled into the air, yet she was not finished with him. Smoothly recovering from her acrobatic tumble, she stepped backwards and reached behind herself, twisting first right, then left to strike the falling guard with the backs of her hands. She finished by swinging her heel in a repeat of that flexible, vertical hook kick I had seen before; it sandwiched him against the wall of the yacht's main cabin. His head lolled disconnectedly to the side as he slumped upon the deck. His body lay very still.
         The pixie girl turned around, surveying the immense destruction she had wrought. Such was her enthusiasm that she began to hop and skip in a circle, kicking up her legs, posing with her arms, and gleefully celebrating her victory.
         It was a bafflement beyond description. This tiny creature had so effectively neutralized my guards that I might assume her to be an assassin, if not for the nonsensical manner in which she pranced merrily about. A true professional would never have been pleased with causing such excess commotion.
         Enough speculation. Time for answers.
         "Who are you?" I demanded, stepping into her line of sight. "Why are you on board my yacht?"
         She cocked her head, inquisitively. I am uncertain why she failed to notice me before; perhaps her vision was like a cat's, in that it best attuned itself to movement. Suddenly, she exploded into a vivacious burst of noise and motion, clapping her hands as she jumped excitedly up and down.
         "Heihachi Mishima!" she shouted, delightedly. "I really did catch up with you I've been looking so hard followed you right down the mountain snuck on one of your jets followed your boat alllll around Hong Kong just got on board when it docked borrowed some of your food hope you don't mind I was really hungry your boat had the name of your syndicate on it but I didn't know if you'd really be on it this is so cool I never ever got to meet a billionaire before-"
         "Who are you!?"
         "I'm Ling Xiaoyu!" she exclaimed in happy celebration, leaping higher and throwing her hands in the air. "What's the matter don't you remember me I was at the Temple of Light I saw you even if you didn't see me I did I did I did this is all so cool-"
         "Why are you on board!?"
         "I WANNA AMUSEMENT PARK!" she shrieked in wild ecstasy, sheer vibrancy causing her to spin about in cartwheels. "I wanna amusement park of my very own the biggest best park in the whole wide world I KNOW you can build it for me I KNOW you can you said you wanna get fighters for your Tournament you said it you said it and didn't I fight good enough didn't I didn't I didn't I so if I beat everyone else and win you HAVE to give me what I want you HAVE to build a park for me you HAVE to you HAVE to don't you don't you don't you if you don't think I'm good enough I'll take on anyone else I'll beat everyone you throw at me and wreck your whole boat I will I will I will-!"
         Insane. Impossible. It is to go mad. Only a lifetime of mental discipline enabled me to blockade her maniacal chattering.
         While the pixie child dashed about in circles, I lowered my eyes to my insensate honor guards. These cretins had failed in their duty - failed with the utmost misery - and as I redoubled my psychological barricade against the girl's nonstop babbling, I reflected that I would almost rather they had failed against an assassin. If they had been low-ranking gaijin then it would be sufficient to fire them, but they were my personal honor guard. They were the handpicked finest of my nation, born, hired, and held to an infinitely higher standard. What the Hell I was going to do with these people?
         Kill them? They certainly deserved it, but my grandson knew them too well. They had volunteered to let him closely examine their minds as proof of their loyalty, an act which left Jin with the most absurd side effects - he even inquires after their families on regular occasion. If I have told him once, I have told him a thousand times never to become personally attached to the servants, not when they may have to die for you at a moment's notice, but he fails to understand. No, Jin would want to know what had happened to them, he would insist on knowing, and he would not rest until he learned the truth. I could not afford to jeopardize my hold on him over this.
         Order them to commit suicide? No, to Jin's contaminated way of thinking that would be no better than an honorless execution.
         Flog them? While that might be personally gratifying, the pixie girl had already taken the liberty of doing it for me.
         Damn! I was going to lose my temper if I could not think of a way to make them atone for their embarrassing conduct, not to mention the time and labor it would cost to find suitable replacements-
         Labor. That was it. That would be their punishment. Their contracts granted me unconditional jurisdiction over their duties; I would use that discretion to compel them to the dirtiest, most menial toil I could devise, and they would slave at it like lower animals.
         Yes, that would be a tolerable, albeit deficient penance for at least for three of them. As for the fourth, the incompetent who had tried to shoot a child - he would have to pay with his thumbs. Never again would he discharge a firearm; his hands would bear permanent sawed-off stumps, the better to remind him of what he nearly cost my reputation-
         -I was glowering at his inert form as I thought this, when a certain detail about him disturbed my irate brooding. Unlike his comrades, he was not merely lying still; his chest had ceased to rise and fall. I crouched next to him. A brief examination confirmed that he was beyond any vengeance I could bestow.
         I raised an eyebrow at the pixie girl.
         "-and I want really good food in my park, like cotton candy and steamed buns Chinese steamed buns they're the good kind-"
         Subtlety is wasted on the stupid. "You have killed this man."
         "-and shrimp dumplings and Peking duck and - huh?" Her chatterbox voice lapsed into blessed silence.
         "This man is dead. You have killed him."
         Shock was beginning to set in. "Huuuuh? B-but how-?"
         "It would seem that one of your blows broke his neck. Most likely the handspring kick."
         "You trespass upon my property, you slay one of my servants, and now you think to negotiate with me?" I continued, grimly. "This man was a fool, but he was my fool. His life was mine to dispose of, not yours. No one steals what is mine! Have you anything sane to say for yourself!?"
         "I... I..." She was trembling. She had not shown the slightest hint of fear when enemies surrounded her, but now-
         "I wanna amusement park I wanna amusement park I-" Her palsy intensified to a crippling degree, dragging her to her knees. "I-I didn't wanna kill him... he was shooting at me... I just wanna amusement park..."
         I shook my head. "Little girl..."
         "I WANNA AMUSEMENT PARK!" What had previously been jubilant rejoicing twisted itself into shrill panic. "I wanna amusement park gimme my amusement park gimme my amusement park or I'll WRECK EVERYTHING I'LL WRECK EVERYTHING I WANNA AMUSEMENT PARK-"
         "QUIET!" Miracle of miracles, she did indeed fall silent - a wise choice, for one more emotional wail out of her and reputation be damned, I would kill her myself. This puerile creature had driven me to such distraction that she had ruined my meditations for not only the day, but most likely the rest of the week-
         Hold that thought.
         Hm... perhaps I could yet salvage something worthwhile out of this disaster.
         I kneeled before the girl, and studied her. Her face possessed the moonlike curvature of Chinese ancestry; no wonder she was such an imbecile.
         "How old are you?" I requested.
         "S-sixteen." I do not believe that she was lying. She had seemed childlike at first because of her diminutive stature and infantile temperament; yet closer scrutiny revealed that her body was significantly more mature than she, having blossomed into soft roundness about her chest and hips.
         "Have you any family?"
         "U-uncle Wang. But he's dead..." She sniffled and blinked, as if to resist tears. "I-I didn't mean to kill anyone... only wanna be in the Tournament... only wanna amusement park...!"
         Indeed. Tomorrow morning, I must remember to send a message to the Temple of Light. Before I return to destroy those self-righteous cowards, I want them to know that their only acolyte with a spine is a sixteen-year-old girl.
         I stood up with a nod. "Very well, Miss Ling. I recognize that you acted in self-defense, and I shall accede to your desire. You may fight in my Tournament, and if you are victorious, then I shall construct your amusement park - but you must agree to observe one final stipulation.
         "I have a grandson. He has some difficulty forming friendships. I want you to meet him. I want you to do your best to habituate yourself to him. Can you assent to that, or shall I send you back to the Temple?"
         "Ummm..." Her eyes nervously darted from me to the corpse and back again. "Why's it so hard for him to make friends?"
         "You shall see," I sighed.

February 6, 2018
5:45 p.m.

         Good evening. It's a pleasure to see you again.
         Where would you like to pick up? I suppose the most logical place would be when Grandfather returned from his recruiting trip for the Iron Fist Tournament, wouldn't it? That was on December 5th, the day after Hwoarang and I beat each other senseless- hm?
         I feel fine, thanks for asking. Anyway, it was late evening when Grandfather came home-
         No, of course I'm not sick. As I was saying-
         All right, all right, let me explain something to you, okay? I'm not sick. I'm not even sure I can get sick, barring the most extraordinary circumstances. My Power sort of doubles as an immune system on overdrive. Most antigens can't affect me unless I'm already severely weakened, but anything that could drain me that much would probably be more likely to kill me than a disease. Same thing for poisons, most of the time - not always, though. There is at least one toxin that has had an effect on me, although I'm not sure why; my Power should have...
         ...should have...
         ...what was I telling you about?
         Oh, yes. My Power. It keeps me immune to diseases that would sicken most people, just like it automatically works to cure my injuries at a faster than normal rate, even if I don't consciously perform healing sorcery on myself. There is one unfortunate aspect to my natural immunity, though; I don't know how to transfer it to anyone else. My blood type is technically AB positive, but for all practical purposes unique. There's something in it that can't be safely transfused to other people, even if they're also AB positive. And I don't know of any sorcery that can cure a truly sick person more effectively than modern medical practice. Which isn't to say that healing sorcery is ineffective against disease; it can still treat symptoms, and support the body's own defenses. But I can't work miracles against an invading pathogen, and I'm even more helpless against maladies that originate from within one's own body, such as cancer.
         My point is, though, that you shouldn't be worried about me. Why are you?
         Oh, Xiaoyu told you about that? Heh. It's probably my fault for brushing her off. I suppose I really should have explained it to her; it's just that, well, you know how she likes to tease people. No, the doctor appointments are for, um, research. Julia found this scientist - actually, I think Lee's the one who managed to track him down, and I get the impression it was no small feat. Anyway, from what I understand he's a reclusive but supremely accomplished preternatural biologist, also a master of cybernetics and cutting-edge experimental medicine. His field expertise is on par with the likes of Doctor Boskonovitch and Doctor Abel. He's also a sorcerer with an innate Power over cold - gods, his lab is like a frost dragon's lair - a veteran of the Great Invasion, and an old friend of my father Wulong. Well, a sort of a friend. It's a lengthy story.
         So the truth is, I'm not sick. I'm just a sort of, uh, guinea pig.
         Now do you see why I didn't tell Xiaoyu?
         I've got to have the time switched to weekends, though; I really can't afford to miss any more school.
         Well, of course I'm not thrilled about being a lab experiment. But this master scientist dearly wants to study my Power, and everything else about me that makes me different from other human beings. He sincerely believes I'm making "an enormous contribution to Science," and you can hear him pronounce 'Science' with a capital 'S.' I wonder about that, but if there is any chance he can learn something from me that will help other people, then all right. I don't mind. And it's...'s important to Julia.
         I don't completely understand it. It's - it's something very deep in her emotions, in the way her voice wavered and her shoulders quivered when she first drew me aside and asked me to please do this. As if refusing would break her heart, even though she tried very hard to act cool and casual about the whole thing. I know that science and learning are extremely important to her, but... I'm not sure at all. She worries about me, sometimes. I've asked her why she's been so distressed for my welfare; she says that she can't explain it to me, and I know she's telling the truth. But she's been gradually calming down over time, and I'm grateful - it hurts to feel her so worried.
         Even if she were keeping something back from me, I'm not going to press her-
         I did not confirm that. Look, I told you I'm fine, and I'm not going to lie to you. I think I'd know if there were something physically wrong with me, wouldn't I? If you're still not sure, then I'll gladly have copies of all the lab reports downloaded into your account, where you can review them for yourself-
         Oh, no you don't.
         You are not going to ask Julia about this. If she decides she wants to talk it over with you, fine, but you may not bring it up in your interviews - I won't have you upsetting her. Or Lee either; you leave them both alone!
         I am not being irrational.
         It's not your problem if you think something rings false. I owe Julia and Lee, and I'll fire you if you harass them about this! They were there for me when I was that close to killing myself; it was only a month ago that I sealed myself in here because-
         ...what was I saying?
         ...what was I...?
         ...that's ridiculous. Why would I fire you? You've more than proven yourself, you're my friend and I have precious few of those, and I need you to finish your record of all that's happened. Isn't this supposed to be my interview?
         Sorry. I'm sorry, it's just been a long day. You'd be incoherent too, if you'd spent the last six hours on a giant icicle stalagmite with electric wires hooked up to your - did I really threaten to fire you?
         I don't understand. What on earth made me say that?
         ...what did you say...?
         ...I'm sorry, I'm sure you were telling me something an instant ago, what...?
         ...argh, you're giving me a headache. I'm sorry, but I'll have to postpone this; right now, it's like you're asking me something and my head hurts too much to focus. Tell you what, come back in an hour, all right? I just need an hour to rest; this isn't the first time my psyche's been so strained that I can't even listen right. Okay?

February 6, 2018
6:45 p.m.

         I'm glad you're back. Please, allow me to apologize for my previous confusion; I don't know what came over me. Where would you like me to pick up?
         I thought it would be December 5th.
         When my grandfather summoned me that evening, I was more than a little nervous. Had he learned about the Dragon's Tail fiasco? Damn that Hwoarang, I never should have let him bait me-!
         But when I saw my grandfather, self-recrimination gave way to mild surprise. Instead of the usual guards or servants, he had only one person with him - hiding behind him, actually. I didn't recognize the stranger's chaotic surface thoughts.
         "Welcome home, Grandfather. I'm so glad you returned safely," I said with a deep bow, and I meant every word. I'd missed him. He'd been gone for several days longer than planned.
         He said, "I have a present for you."
         I straightened and raised my eyebrows, curiously.
         Grandfather smiled. The stranger peeked out from behind his legs. He stepped to one side, extending his arm and using it to guide his guest forward.
         She was a young Chinese woman - well, somewhere in the transition between girlhood and womanhood, anyway. If not for the developing curvature of her chest and hips, I might have assumed her to be much younger than she actually was. She was small, maybe a head shorter than me if you didn't count the added height of her bouncy twin ponytails; thick orange holders pointed them up and out from either side of her scalp. Her slender arms, thin eyebrows, and fine-boned face made her appear quite delicate. But what really threw me was her outfit.
         I don't know if it's what she wore normally, or if Grandfather made her dress like that, but a one-piece silk jumpsuit wrapped her from yellow-trimmed collar and armholes to gathered elastic ankles. I knew the jumpsuit was one-piece because its clasp stretched from its collar to the border of its right armhole, marked by more yellow trim with two lengthwise crosshatches embellishing the seam. The jumpsuit itself was colored brilliant red-orange, like glossy origami paper. More red-orange garnished a matched pair of puffy bracelets, and the hems of the short, pink sleeves of an undershirt. Most striking of all, however, was the broad yellow sash wound about her waist and tied on her back in a tremendous floppy bow.
         Gods, she really did look like a Christmas present. Right down to the shiny giftwrap and the ribbon.
         Grandfather, I wish you wouldn't refer to people as if they were inanimate objects, I broadcast, repressing a flustered wince. I know you don't mean anything by it, but-
         "And I wish you would not do that!" he snapped, a sharp wave of irritation cresting above his otherwise genial mood. "Address me with your voice, or not at all!"
         I let my head and shoulders droop, apologetically. The young woman said, "Huuuuh?"
         Grandfather gazed down upon her and said, "This is my grandson. Go on, introduce yourself."
         She seemed more than a little anxious about something, as she timidly brought her palms together and made a quick bow. "Hajimemashite. Ling Xiaoyu desu. Doozo yoroshiku - am I saying this right? Uncle Wang used to teach me Japanese back at the Temple of Light but I don't know if I remember real good it's nice to meet you hi?"
         I bowed in return, keeping my hands at my sides. As I happened to glance at her feet, I had a sudden, irrational fear that they would be bound and crippled in the old Chinese torture; I was relieved to see simple, flat-soled black shoes. She nervously switched from one foot to the other, rubbing her heels against her shins. I was about to reciprocate her introduction when-
         No, it couldn't be. Could it? How-? She looked so innocent.
         "Your grandpa Heihachi here is really cool, isn't he?" she continued, picking up enthusiasm as a train coasting down the hillside might gather momentum. "He's gonna build me the biggest best amusement park in alllll the world, he is, he is! It must be really cool to have the world-famous Heihachi Mishima for your grandpa, huh? It's so great to be here I'm so looking forward to my park I just know we can be best friends!" She jumped into the air as she said that, laughing and clapping her hands.
         "I'm trying to make a list of all the things I want in my park, you wanna help? I want carnival games in my park, I wanna play games like dart-balloons and ball-toss and goldfish-catch, and I wanna have alllll the neatest rides, like ferris wheels and merry-go-rounds and roller coasters but those are just to start, have you ever been to real carnivals with the really cool rides that go way high and whirl around and around and alllll around-"
         "There is blood on your heels," I said, darkly.
         "-whee like that it'll be so much fun rides and games and good food- huh?" Her escalating gleefulness sputtered in mid-leap, and she stumbled as she landed.
         "There is blood on your heels," I repeated. "Fresh blood."
         "Nn-no there isn't," she wavered, uncertainly twisting one leg behind her and peering over her shoulder at the cheap footwear. "I-I don't get what you're-"
         "Who did you kill?"
         "I - I-I didn't- why are you-?"
         "It does not work that way," I refused, advancing on her with a determined shake of my head. "You can't pretend it did not happen, you can't submerge it with your childish greed, and you can't tell me that you did not do it. Who did you kill?"
         "H-how did you-?"
         "Answer the question!"
         "I DON'T KNOW! I don't know his name I don't know who he was I don't know I don't know why are you talking like this I DON'T KNOW!" she shrieked, backing against the wall.
         I made eye contact with my grandfather.
         "Shiina," he muttered, with a frown.
         Oh, no. No, no, no. I liked Shiina.
         "Wh-what's with you?" Xiaoyu fearfully stammered to me. "H-how did you know I-? S-stay back or I'll-!"
         "I'm not going to hurt you. I'm going to tell you who Shiina was." I put my hands on her silk jumpsuit and glared into her cocoa-brown eyes. "He was a member of Grandfather's honor guard. His life's dream was to be promoted into it; he'd trained for the privilege ever since he was younger than you are now. He was a devoted man, who pledged on his soul to protect Grandfather's life. He started working for the syndicate when he was twenty; in another month, he would have received his ten-year bonus, which he planned to spend on a vacation in Thailand."
         "I-I don't wanna hear this..."
         You will listen with your ears, or I will speak directly to your mind! I broadcast, harshly. Her eyes grew wide from alarm. Transferring back to my voice, I continued, "Shiina had a special fondness for plain steamed rice; he preferred to eat any meats or garnishes exclusively on the side. He liked to play games, same as you, only his favorites were Go and Chinese checkers."
         "...I don't wanna think about this, l-lemme go-"
         "And he was married; his wife lives in Shinjuku along with his two children, a six-year-old boy and an infant girl, born just two months ago. His contract guaranteed that his family would receive a stipend if he died in the line of duty, but no amount of money can give those children their father back. This was the man you killed, Xiaoyu; I liked him. You come here with his blood on your soul, chattering a selfish stream about an amusement park, and you say you want to be my friend? Look at yourself! Look at what you've done! What kind of a remorseless creature are you? I know of your uncle Wang Jinrey; he used to be a good friend of my mother. Did he teach you to behave like this? Did he?"
         "H-he's dead..."
         "I'm sorry to hear that, but perhaps it is for the best-"
         "S-stop it..."
         "-because if he were alive, I think he would grieve for what you are!"
         "Stop it!" she cried, squirming in my grip. "Stop it stop it STOP IT it's not like that it wasn't like that HE FIRED A GUN ON ME I didn't wanna kill him didn't mean to kill him I kick people all the time and they don't die he wasn't supposed to die HE SHOT AT ME HE SHOT AT ME lemme go lemme go LEMME GO GET AWAY FROM ME AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!"
         With that final, earsplitting shriek, she twisted free of my grasp. Tears spilled down her face as she rubbed her eyes with her balled fists, then turned and sprinted out of there as fast as her short legs could take her.
         "Congratulations, Jin," my grandfather rumbled, irate sarcasm flavoring his deep voice. "Less than two minutes, and you have her screaming in terror. That has to be a new record, even for you. Do you always mind-rape women on the first date?"
         I cringed from that. He wasn't serious and I knew it, but even in jest he was accusing me of a perverted, loathsome crime, and it hurt. "Grandfather, I swear I didn't force myself into her psyche; I was only trying to make her confront what she'd done-"
         "Quiet! I take the trouble to present you with a suitable companion, one who is potentially your equal in martial arts, and this is how you treat her?"
         "I-I'm sorry grandfather - it's just that she was leaping and giggling in the wake of manslaughter; I was afraid she might be a sociopath-"
         "If she were truly a guiltless sociopath, you would not sense any 'blood' in her emotions at all. You were grilling her because of your own weakness over Shiina's death! I have told you and told you never to attach yourself to the servants, but do you listen to me? They are not your pets! You must accept, as they have, that their duty to the House Mishima could cost their lives. You cannot let yourself feel grief or pity when they die. You have to be stronger than that!
         "I was there when she killed Shiina. You left one aspect of his personality out of his description: he was a coward. He was so afraid of losing to an unarmed girl that rather than confront her on equal terms, he did indeed discharge his firearm at her, in an attempt to take her life. Would you have preferred that outcome? You have no moral standing to denigrate her for what she did!"
         Grandfather was right, of course. He was right about Shiina's motives - Shiina never could stand to lose a single game of Go to a woman, much less a fight - and about mine. I swallowed hard and stammered, "I-I'm sorry..."
         "Do not apologize to me; apologize to her!" He shook his head. "Or do not apologize at all. I have said she is your present, so do with her as you will. Just do not impregnate her."
         I said, "What?"
         "You heard me. When you use her for your pleasure, take precautions."
         What I wanted to tell him was, 'Honorable Grandfather, I swear I am not disputing your wisdom; it is only that I am shocked and severely disturbed by the aspersions you make upon my moral character.'
         What I actually said was, "B-but-"
         "Quiet! Your irresponsibility has already brought enough shame to the House Mishima; I shall not permit any more scandals of any kind!"
         "B-but what've I done to make you think - think that I would-?"
         "What did you do while I was gone?"
         "Wh-what? H-how did you know I-?"
         "I need no telepathy to read the guilt on your face. It was another of your rampages, wasn't it? What did you burn down this time?"
         "I... I didn't..."
         "What have you done? How much will it cost the syndicate to clean up after you!? Do not lie to me, else I shall cut out your tongue!"
         I broke down.
         Confessed absolutely everything. Prostrated myself on knees and forearms, pressing my face into the floor. Begged and pleaded for his forgiveness; swore upon the memory of my mother that no one had been killed, nothing had been burned to the ground, I'd already made arrangements to repay the fire damage and keep the whole matter quiet-
         "Shut up," he said, disgustedly, and I did. I felt the beginnings of tears threaten me, and held them back with force of will, determined to evaporate them with my Power if I had to; he would only see them as a sign of weakness.
         Grandfather heaved a long, weary sigh. He slowly kneeled across from me, back straight, arms folded sternly in front of his chest. "It was your Power that induced this latest debacle, wasn't it? You lost control of the forces inside you. Again."
         I thought of how the press of a mob's emotions had driven me to flee from my own bodyguards, and how I'd unintentionally exploded a pay phone into scrap metal. "Y-yes..."
         "I see." His remained silent for a while, with his eyes closed in thought. "You shall not be punished this time. You are almost an adult. If you have not learned to discipline yourself by now, then there is nothing more I can do to help you. Go."
         I went.
         I left in a straight line, eyes ahead, didn't look at anyone, didn't talk to anyone, didn't eat any dinner, I went straight to the training room and fought against the Mokujins for hours, until fatigue accumulated in me and the wooden people beat me soundly into the floor. One last blow struck me on the back of the head, hard, and that is how I ended up spending the night passed out on the cold stone.
         I loved my grandfather, but how did he see me? How did he truly see me? For as long as I'd known him, he'd been a very private person with strong psychological restraint, so that I hadn't received any direct image of myself from his surface thoughts. But his words - his words described me as a violent, inhuman monster, as a...
         ...what was I saying?
         ...what was I...?

Search for:     amnesia, forgetfulness, memory loss, memory failure
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EXCERPT: Case study of subject Jin Kazama
Report #12XC
Topical heading: REM sleep

         Although subject's sleep/wake circadian rhythms fall roughly within average parameters, subject has confessed a susceptibility to nightmares and night terrors. Past nightmares have revolved about the loss of his mother, the failure to appease his grandfather, and the menace of the Toshin. In the last month, subject has experienced a new, sporadically recurring nightmare, tending to awaken him in the hours between 4:00 and 6:00 a.m.
         Delineating the dream, subject recounts that he is alone at night, in a conifer-ringed clearing similar to the wilderness of his childhood home. He sees a ball of golden-white energy streaking toward him; he cannot evade it, and it sears his upper left shoulder. Subject clutches the flashing burn, which resolves into a jagged black brand. He confronts the source of the golden light, and sees an apparition rising before the full moon. Subject awakens from the nightmare with a tingling rawness in the scars he once received from the Toshin's fire, especially the scar on his upper left shoulder.
         Subject is incapable of describing the apparition from his dream; upon referring to it, subject experiences disorientation and short-term memory loss. This is to be expected, given subject's condition prior to being admitted for study and potential treatment. If anything, it is remarkable that he can recollect and communicate as much as he does.

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End of Chapter 6: Hell Hath No Fury