written by Victar, e-mail email@example.com
Victar's Archive: http://www.victarfanfics.com
Chapter 15: Prelude to Confession
"When people hate, is this how it has to be? Doesn't it
ever stop until someone's dead?"
"Ya dumb kid... it doesn't even stop when someone dies. Not...
-Hiroaki Samura, Blade of the
Immortal: On Silent Wings
INTERVIEW WITH JULIA CHANG, section 5
February 13, 2018
At least, it should be morning in another hour or so. Have
you ever seen a sunrise from the syndicate's roof? It's breathtaking. I've been spending a fair
amount of time up here of late, stargazing or sunwatching.
It was Jin who first showed me how beautiful Tokyo can
be, from this vantage. He occasionally comes to enjoy the view, late at night or early in the
I wish he could be with me for this sunrise, but you and I
have a job to do.
How can I give you my first impression of Lei Wulong,
He was more than a hero to me; he was a legend. A
superstar. I'm not sure I want Jin to find out about this, but... I used to have a crush on Wulong,
once. Back when I was fourteen, and I saw one of his movies on television. I can't remember the
title, but it was the movie in which Wulong crashes headfirst through a store windowpane, even as
a fiery explosion erupts behind him; you see his escape multiple times from different angles, in that
ever-popular cinematographic technique. Then he rolls on the city sidewalk and brings his gun to
bear, with a bold, indomitable look on his face.
Or did I just describe all his movies?
Oh, never mind. It wasn't until later that I realized the
movie had been made before I was born. Meaning that the young, handsome man on the television
screen had since aged, and put on a little weight.
Have you ever seen Wulong's public service
announcements? The thirty-second television spots in which he identifies himself as an alcoholic,
and urges other victims of the addiction to get help? Those were filmed after he'd turned forty. I
happened to see one of them about two weeks after I saw his movie, and that was the official end
of my crush. Wulong hadn't aged badly by any means, but he had acquired a worn texture to his
skin, and perhaps ten more pounds on his frame. I couldn't daydream about him anymore; it
would be like fantasizing about my father.
If I had one.
Catsclaw doesn't exactly count; he was a good friend to my
family, but I didn't get to see him as often as would befit a father figure. Although, come to think
about it, he was roughly the same age as Lei Wulong. Or "Lei," as his closest friends and
associates tended to call him. I don't know why that is, since it's actually his last name. Perhaps
because "Lei" rolls more fluidly off the tongue. Or perhaps because his courageous bearing truly
did embody the spirit of Thunder.
That's what the name "Lei" literally translates to, you
know. "Thunder." His first name "Wulong" means "warrior dragon," or something similar. From
his name alone, I could imagine that he would be a rival of Heihachi Mishima, the most terrible
Dragon of all. But...
What I didn't understand - what I couldn't understand - was
what Wulong had just said. He had claimed to be Jin Kazama's father. That didn't make sense;
anyone with eyes could see that Jin's father was Kazuya Mishima, the devil-possessed sorcerer.
Kazuya, who betrayed the Earth in the Great Invasion. Kazuya, whom Lei Wulong had
vanquished in single combat. Kazuya, who had then committed suicide, rather than face the
consequences of his monstrous crimes.
According to the movies, that is.
Jin was almost the identical image of Kazuya. He had
inherited Kazuya's powers of telepathy and sorcery. Jin was the Fatal Lightning, whose raw
electric energy crackled on his fists at will. While Wulong, for all his grand reputation, could only
do sleight-of-hand magic. Of course Jin was not Wulong's biological child; he belonged to
Kazuya's lineage, unquestionably. And yet...
Thunder, the father; lightning, the son. It was the
symmetric inverse of the elemental sequence in Nature. And now I began to recollect certain
memories that weren't mine, memories that I had assimilated from Jin when I shared my life force
to heal him. Detective Lei Wulong had figured prominently in some of those memories, along
with Jin's mother, Jun Kazama.
Could Wulong be Jin's stepfather? I'd never heard of a
relationship between Lei Wulong and Jun Kazama. Then again, perhaps the detective had wanted
to hide his family from the public eye, and from Heihachi Mishima. I shudder to think of what Jin
would have grown up to be like, if his grandfather had been the one to raise him since birth. Years
of Heihachi's malevolent influence had already darkened Jin's soul. I could hear echoes of the old
man's cruelty in Jin's voice, as he stared at Wulong with utter abhorrence and spat, "You are
not my father."
He might as well have driven a knife into Wulong's
"Jin," the detective gasped, as if with his last breath, and I
knew. I knew beyond all doubt that Wulong was Jun Kazama's widower, and Jin Kazama's
stepfather. He was suffering too much anguish for the truth to be anything less.
Wulong clutched the folds of a large black cloak, wrapping
it more tightly about himself. It stretched to the paved 'courtyard' ground of Jin's high school, and
its hood covered the detective's head. All I could really see of Wulong was his face, fingers, and
ash-grey forelock, brushed to one side of a part in his sable hair. Even so, the paleness of his skin
and the gaunt, unsteady outline of his frame were enough to tell me something important.
Wulong was not well.
He wasn't merely under the weather with some twenty-four
hour flu, either. He'd lost his extra ten pounds and then some, leaving him with the haggard look
of a wasting sickness. And the physical frailty, if the debilitated way he leaned against the high
school gates was any indication. Desperation had brought him here, forced him to stand and bar
our path, when by all rights he should have been bedridden. I could see it in his sunken eyes.
Oh, I have forgotten about Xiaoyu, haven't I? Yes, she was
there too. While I was intently trying to peruse the deep, personal subtext between Wulong and
Jin, she seemed oblivious to it all. She was too blinded with delight, and the look of familiar
happiness on her face suggested that it wasn't just because she was meeting a movie star. Like Jin,
she knew Wulong from her past.
I remember thinking that Wulong had better not be her
stepfather too. I couldn't make any sense of Jin and Xiaoyu as siblings.
"Lei!" Xiaoyu cried, and suddenly rushed him. I stared,
wide-eyed. Jin's lightning abruptly flickered off, as if the young girl had inadvertently pulled out an
invisible power cord. Wulong himself looked dumbfounded as she threw herself at him, in a
joyous embrace that probably came close to crushing his ribs.
"Lei! I missed you so much after you left the Temple how
have you been it's been so long they still practice your Phoenix style there and now you're
here for the Iron Fist aren't you I'm in it too really I am Heihachi invited me and-"
She had to stop and take a breath. No, it was more than
simply running out of air; she was...
"U-uncle Wang," she half whispered, half sobbed. "He...
"I heard," Wulong answered, his startled expression
softening into sadness. He returned her hug and tousled her ponytailed hair, paternally. "I'm sorry,
Pixie. He was a good man."
"H-he wanted me to take him to Heihachi, he begged me,
b-but seeing Heihachi was too hard on him, it was too much of a strain-"
"Ssh. It's not your fault, you know that. It was just his
"Get AWAY from him!" Jin shrieked.
Hmm. How should I describe this? A moment before, Jin
had looked vengeful, perhaps even sadistic, as he tortured Wulong with words. This was different.
Now, Jin was acting genuinely panicked. As if he were outright terrified of something.
No - as if he were terrified for someone.
For Xiaoyu? Why? I mean, I knew he was fond of her, but
why did he think she was in danger?
"What's wrong?" Xiaoyu asked him, letting go of Wulong
and wiping tears from her eyes.
"I don't understand," she said, plaintively. "Why don't you
"Step away from him, Xiaoyu. Go back to the syndicate.
Don't walk; run."
"You're not answering my question!"
"Pixie, listen to me," Wulong hoarsely broke in. "Seung
Mina is awfully worried about you. So is the whole Temple of Light. They asked me to find you
and tell you. They want you to come home, right now."
"B-but-" she stammered, turning back to him. Then she
swallowed, and quietly asked, "Seung Mina's not mad at me?"
"No, sweetheart. No one's mad at you. But you're getting
too deep into a deadly Tournament, and Heihachi Mishima is a dangerous man. The whole
Temple is afraid for you, and they want you home where you'll be safe."
"Xiaoyu, DON'T go with him!" Jin exclaimed, half furious,
half fearful. "If you want to return to the Temple then I'll talk to Grandfather about it, but-"
"What's wrong with you? Why are you mad at Lei!?" she
yelled back, getting caught up in the hyper press of emotion.
"Not now! Just go home!"
Xiaoyu stood there, bewildered, in the middle of a
crossroads. She looked at Wulong, looked at Jin, and even looked at me, but I had no answers for
"Are you really his dad?" she perplexedly asked Wulong,
pointing to Jin with her whole arm outstretched.
"I thought his dad was Kazuya."
"It's a long story."
"Do you need me to protect you from him? He looks mad
enough to beat you up."
"It's not that simple, sweetheart. There's some things we
have to work out, and the only way you can help us is by keeping yourself safe."
"But he doesn't think I'm safe around you, and you don't
think I'm safe around his grandpa. So no matter what I do, one of you won't think I'm safe."
Wulong opened his mouth, but couldn't think of an answer,
so he closed it again without saying anything.
Xiaoyu turned to Jin and put her hands on her hips,
"I want a panda bear," she stated, with resolute
Wulong said, "What?"
Jin said, "What?"
"You heard me, Jin, and you know what I'm talking about;
I told you twice before already! I want you to get me a panda. If you promise to get me a real,
live panda bear, then I promise I'll go straight back to the syndicate and wait for you and Lei to
work things out. I don't know what's going on, but it makes me feel bad to see you hate him so
much and I don't know what to do about it!"
"Are you asking me for a bribe?" Jin interpreted,
"Call it what you want, I don't care. But this is about more
than me getting a panda I want. I need to know you want me outta here because you're
really worried about me, because you're afraid for real, not just because you hate Lei so
much when you won't even tell me why. You promise me a real live panda, you promise me one
when otherwise you'd never get me one in a million years, and then I'll know."
"You promise me now or I'm staying with
Jin covered his face with one hand. "I... promise."
"You promise me what?" she pressed, skeptically.
"I promise I'll try to get you a live panda bear."
"You'll try for real? Not a fake pretend try?"
"All right, all right!" Jin snapped, removing his hand and
meeting her piercing stare. "Just go back to the syndicate, now!"
"Okay. It's a deal."
"Pixie, sweetheart-" Wulong croaked.
"No, Lei. I'm sorry." Xiaoyu looked back at him and shook
her head, sadly. "I miss Seung Mina, but I couldn't go back to the Temple of Light even if I
wanted to. I already - I already did something bad when I sneaked onto Heihachi's boat. I feel
awful about that and I can't make it right, but I do have to fight in Heihachi's Iron Fist
Tournament or else the bad thing I did will be for nothing. And I promised Heihachi I'd fight in his
Tournament; he needs lots of strong people to fight in it, as many as he can find, and I promised
him for real that I'd be in it. You know the Order of Light never, ever breaks a promise, you know
that. Seung Mina got put in a wheelchair because she had to keep a promise she made to rescue
"You're not a member of the Order of Light. You're not
bound by their rules. You don't have to keep your promises to evil people!"
"I'm sorry, Lei. You're splitting tiny little hairs and you
know it. I'm old enough to make my own decisions and I just made one." Tears
were brimming in her eyes again. "Why are you so sick? I thought Seung Mina and Uncle Wang
"Relapse," Wulong sighed.
"Aren't you gonna get better? Maybe you should go to a
"Xiaoyu!" Jin interrupted, sternly. "We have a deal. It's
time to keep your side of the bargain."
"Lei?" she pressed, sorrowfully. "Is it really that bad?"
"Yeah," he admitted, with a tired nod. "It is."
Two shining trails spilled down Xiaoyu's cheeks. She
choked on one last sob, and cried, "I'm sorry!"
Xiaoyu tore away from us then, sprinting at incredible
speed, out the gates and down the street. I could practically imagine her tears glittering in the
"Now you," Jin said, looking at me.
I folded my arms. "I'm not going anywhere. She might be
willing to leave without learning what's going on, but I'm not. And don't even think about trying
to buy me off."
Jin slapped his hand over his face again, this time mouthing
a silent curse.
Wulong glanced at me. I can't be certain of what was going
through his head, but I can guess. My guess is that he believed - rightly - that nothing would move
me. Not until I'd learned the whole story about him, his stepson, and the rift that had grown
between them. Perhaps, like Jin, he also recognized the 'truth-seeker' drive in my soul. Or maybe
I'm wrong; maybe he just didn't have the strength to worry about a stranger listening to his family
problems, I don't know.
"Jin. Read my mind," Wulong entreated, earnestly.
Jin removed his hand from his face. "What?"
"Four and a half years ago, you were in no shape to try and
I was in no shape to let you. It's different now. I have to get through to you, and I don't care what
it takes. Heihachi is planning to murder you, and you can't even see it!"
Jin's upper lip lifted in a feral snarl.
"Please," Wulong begged, his head falling forward for lack
of support. "Then you'll know I'm telling the truth. I'm telling the truth about everything."
"Go to Hell," Jin rebuked. Another twist of the knife.
"Wait a minute," I interjected. "Why-"
"This is none of your business!" Jin asserted, turning to
"-don't you want to read his mind? Is there something
you're afraid of finding out?"
"Are you calling me a coward?"
"Will it get a straight ANSWER out of you if I do!?" I shot
back, throwing up my hands in exasperation. "I don't know why you're so angry with him, but I
would hate to think it's because of some stupid misunderstanding that you're too stubborn to look
Jin's snarl turned hateful.
He ignored me, and confronted Wulong with the full brunt
of his loathing. "I will have nothing to do with any part of your mind. I can feel ripples of it from
here, and it makes me sick. Your guilt. Your darkness. Your dirty secret, that you've lied about
for twenty years." Jin pointed at Wulong, in ultimate accusation. "You murdered my real father in
cold blood. After he was broken, helpless, and at your mercy, you murdered him to sate your lust
for revenge! And you abandoned my mother to the Toshin; you ran away and let it take her
"I..." Wulong shuddered, visibly. "I didn't know it was
coming for her... she sent me away..."
"Don't pretend! You must have seen the same warning
signs I did; how could you not know!? Your own shame betrays you!"
"I didn't kill Kazuya," Wulong pleaded. "He took his own
life - the Devil made him-"
"YOU'RE HIDING THE TRUTH AND YOU KNOW
IT!" Jin exploded. "You think I can't FEEL it? You think I can't SEE it? The blood is dripping
from your hands even as we speak, right before my eyes; the blood of your guilt, the blood of the
crime you can't bear to confess!"
"Read my mind. Please. Then you'll know what happened.
It's the only way."
Jin closed his hand in a fist, and brought it on level with his
chin. Indigo energy blazed about it, in a shining firework display. "There is only one reason why
I'm not taking revenge on you now, and that's because Grandfather needs you for the Iron
Wulong straightened, no longer leaning on the gate. For an
instant, his naturally brown eyes changed color; they flashed blood-red like cursed rubies. "You're
not running away from me this time, son. You're not calling your damned bodyguards to hustle
me from your sight. You are not getting past me, you are not taking one step outside this school,
until you read my mind."
"Crawl in a gutter and die."
"It isn't going to happen."
Lei Wulong removed his cloak.
If this had been a movie, he would have whipped it off in a
supremely valiant gesture, and cast it to the swirling winds. But this wasn't a movie, and he was
no longer the picturesque superstar, so he just undid its clasp and limply tossed it by the
courtyard's iron gate.
Beneath the cloak, Wulong was dressed to fight.
His flamboyant costume had to be made of the finest silk.
His brilliant, spring green surcoat shined in the waning sunlight; daisy-white trim crested its hem,
collar, inner lining, and rolled-up sleeves. Small, darker green stitching patterns blended with the
surcoat's rippling fabric, and when he turned to throw away his cloak, I glimpsed a
blue-and-white, fire-shaped symbol on the surcoat's back. The surcoat wrapped over his upper
circular gold pins fastened its fold near his right shoulder. A seamless black sash around his
midriff further secured the surcoat. The surcoat's trailing flaps parted on his right side; while the
front flap reached midway down his thighs, the back flap dangled practically to his calves. I could
see gold embroidery on the white inner lining of his back surcoat flap. The embroidery was an
exquisitely tailored image of a Chinese dragon. Make that an Imperial dragon, high ruler of the
heavens, for it had five claws per foot.
Wulong's blousy, cerise-colored pants complemented his
surcoat with an equally vivid shine; they were decorated with scattered gold embroidery of
smaller Imperial dragons and pearls caught in branching coral. The pants gathered at the ankles,
about a pair of plain white socks and flat-soled, slip-on black shoes.
Wulong's vibrant costume drew my notice for a special
reason. It appeared more alive than he was. Without the cloak to conceal the hollows of his
wasting body, the sheer extent of his illness went from subtly apparent to painfully obvious. Even
his sable hair seemed sickly. A dark red binder gathered the oily, clumping strands behind his
head. The luxurious, feathery ponytail of his later movies had degenerated to a stiff tangle,
reaching down his back and tapering in a point. Like a frayed piece of rope, dipped in a sticky
Wulong folded his left arm over his right, and defiantly
tossed his head a slight amount. Jin rested his right hand on his hip, and unconsciously tossed his
head in exactly the same manner. If I hadn't already been convinced these two were related, that
would have done it.
"Does it have to come to this?" I quietly asked, as I
perceived what Jin and his stepfather were preparing to do. "Are you sure you can't-"
"Quiet. I'll talk to you later," Jin stated, curtly.
I wondered if I should physically intervene, and try to
prevent senseless violence between father and son. My heart said yes; Wulong's body looked too
enfeebled to withstand a single blow, let alone a fight. But my head said no; this situation was not
the same as when Jin had mistakenly attacked Hwoarang.
Wulong was guilty of something. Something that he'd kept
hidden inside for twenty years. Even I could see traces of it in his haunted face, now that I knew
what to look for. I didn't know whether Wulong had truly murdered Kazuya. Yet Jin's telepathy
was a powerful divining tool; he would not have seen metaphorical blood on his stepfather's hands
without a reason.
Why couldn't Wulong confess in plain words? Why did Jin
recoil from finding out the truth for himself? These were questions that only they could answer. I
remembered, however, what Wulong had said to Xiaoyu - that there was nothing she could do to
help him and his stepson work out their difficulties. And if she couldn't help them, then what
chance did I have? I didn't even know Wulong, nor did I have the advantage of Xiaoyu's
exuberant charm. Maybe the only way to quench Jin's lightning temper, and to soften Wulong's
psychological bulwark, was for the two of them to have it out.
I don't know. Sometimes, when I'm feeling cynical, I
hypothesize that there's a certain property innate to the Y chromosome. It makes men incapable of
attaining enlightenment without first beating someone up.
Wulong put up his fists and hunched part-way forward,
either settling in a protective fighting stance or warding off a dizzy spell. He was constantly
moving, taking short side-steps to the left or the right; not at a particularly fast pace, but with a
steady enough rhythm to make his stepson continually readjust. Jin adopted his straight-backed,
Mishima-style karate stance, glaring at his stepfather through slitted eyes.
But Jin did not attack.
I think - I think his conscience was restraining him. Jin can
sometimes appear menacing, but he is not one who takes pleasure in hurting the sick. Not even
when spurred by seething hatred.
"Last chance," Jin hissed. "Run away. Like you ran from
"I didn't run from it. I turned around and ran toward it,
from the moment the sky turned black. It was you and your mother who had to run away, wasn't
it? Only your mother couldn't run fast enough."
Wulong's verbal barb was low and throaty, tearing at the
seams of a poorly healed wound. I looked in his eyes, and saw a reflected inner cringe. It had hurt
him to say the words, at least as much as it hurt his stepson. But the taunt had the desired
He charged headlong, crouching almost to a kneel and
erupting into a powerful leaping uppercut. Stray electric crackles danced on his upraised left fist.
It could have battered Wulong unconscious, if he had stayed still long enough for the blow to
connect; but the detective darted to Jin's right, instantly responding to the telegraphed assault. Jin
tried to lash out with a mid-level straight kick as he landed from his jump, but Wulong already had
the advantage, and he used it. Narrowly evading Jin's kick, Wulong stepped into a razor-fast
succession of punches. He kept his back straight and his chin tucked, bending his knees in a
wide-legged horse stance, as he powered a succession of straight-armed fist blows from his torso.
Alternating left-right, he struck Jin's ribs four times, and then snapped the ball of his right foot at
his stepson's chest. He scored a direct hit on the brown-and-black school uniform patch sewn over
Jin's heart. Jin staggered; he would have been knocked off his feet, had Wulong been in full
Wulong assumed the Art of the Crane.
As soon as he retracted his kick, he balanced on the ball of
his right foot, lifting his arms and left knee as if pulled by invisible strings. His open hands settled
high above his head, in an upward-drifting V-shape, and his left knee remained drawn above waist
level, with the toes pointed down. Wulong released the tight fold of his left knee long enough to
take a single step closer to his opponent, then resumed his avian pose perfectly, as graceful as the
No, actually. I don't practice the animal Arts myself; just
basic kempo, blended with a little assorted miscellany. However, I have long had a passing
interest in reading this or that about various Chinese martial arts; it's one of my lesser hobbies.
That's how I could recognize Wulong's Art of the Crane. I suppose anyone familiar with assorted
kung fu movies would also have known it, instantly.
I guess Jin hadn't seen enough movies, though. Because
even as he recovered from Wulong's flurry, his forehead furrowed in puzzlement, and I saw him
straining to calculate the strengths and weaknesses of an unexpected new style. Hadn't Wulong
taught his own fighting Arts to his stepson?
Then again, if I interpreted Wulong's words correctly, he
hadn't been on speaking terms with Jin for over four years. Perhaps the detective had acquired a
few new techniques in the meantime.
"Is that the best you've learned from Heihachi?" called the
Jin ground his teeth. As always, his face betrayed his
intentions well before his body moved. I could practically see him thinking 'To hell with it, I'm
taking the bastard down,' as he twisted his body clockwise, all the way about. His extended right
heel gathered torque, and he jerked his arms to accelerate his spinning roundhouse, aimed at
But the Crane was faster.
It was at once both swift and mysterious, Wulong's
mimicry of the crane's elegant dance. He leaned forward and snapped his folded left leg in a
high-hitting kick from the knee, clipping Jin's chin and breaking the oncoming roundhouse.
turned, keeping his arms aloft in birdlike suspension; he looked over his shoulder as he made a
backward stab with his right heel. The heel strike dislodged his stepson's shin. As Jin stumbled,
Wulong swept his right elbow even as a crane flaps its wing, batting Jin's chest. Wulong
completed the dance with a final, skyscraper-tall vertical kick that grazed his stepson's face and
pushed him completely off-balance.
Jin landed on his back. He immediately put his hands
behind his head, arched his spine, and whipped to his feet in a kippup. A trickle of blood dribbled
from the corner of his mouth, and his face tightened with ire.
Wulong assumed the Art of the Snake.
Aligning his body to mimic the coils of a rearing serpent, he
balanced on his left leg. This time, however, he kept his stable foot nearly flat on the ground,
while raising his bent right knee no higher than the waist. His arms aligned in a fluid S-curve. His
right hand posed as the snake's head, palm down, fingers curving like serpent fangs.
"If you can't handle me, you won't have a chance against
the Toshin," hissed the Snake.
The Snake lashed out with its venomous bite.
This time, Jin was not so headstrong as to stumble into a
new attack. He braced his guard against the one-two strike of the snake's head, mid-level punches
poking at his midriff and meeting only the barrier of his forearms. But the last bite struck low, as
Wulong stepped far forward on his legs and scored another hit on his stepson's left shin. It wasn't
enough to make Jin fall, but it distracted him for a split second.
Wulong assumed the Art of the Panther.
Crouching part-way like a stalking cat, he kept his head up
and stretched his arms as feline claws; his left arm fully extended, his right with a downward bend
at the elbow. His hands drifted in small vertical circles, as if kneading the air, and he pushed the
bulk of his weight on his forward left foot, sole flat on the ground, leg almost square-shaped and
bent at the knee. Recovering from his shin scrape, Jin also adopted a lunging, mid-level stance, in
order to belt the crouching Panther with a powerful, straight-fisted blow.
The Panther was faster.
I didn't clearly see the first hit of its double scratch, only
the blur of Wulong's left hand making a low, outward swipe. Jin released a premature puff of
breath as once again, Wulong disrupted his stepson's attack. Wulong's back leg pushed from the
ball of the foot, twisting his upper body counterclockwise, and spinning his right hand to rake his
stepson's face. Jin reeled. The feline momentarily remained poised in the instant of its pounce,
arms spread wide and clawing.
"No wonder you couldn't save your mother," growled the
I'd like to offer an aside here, lest you acquire any mistaken
It may seem to you, listening to me so patiently, that Lei
Wulong was pounding Jin Kazama into the dirt. Not a chance. If Wulong had been at full
strength, or even half strength, then maybe. But the detective's sickness had drained him. His
attacks were more like light cuffs than true, body-breaking blows. Take his stepson's self-healing
Power into account, and perhaps you'll understand why Jin's worst injury was the bloody lip.
I don't think Wulong was deliberately pulling his punches,
either. Oh, I'm sure the detective wasn't about to attempt a crippling or lethal technique on his
stepson. However, Wulong didn't look like he was watering down his blows, or trying to restrain
their full impact. I've sparred with Catsclaw a few times in the past; I know what it is to aim a
couple inches short of your real target. No, it's just that Wulong's illness thoroughly robbed his
Also, allow me to say a few things in Jin's defense. I've
seen him fight, and I know that usually, he is much more effective at it. Wulong had a few special
advantages, though. He read his stepson like an open book, something that was, in fact, not
terribly difficult to do. Jin's face plainly betrayed his emotions to me, who had known him for only
a couple days. How much clearer must it have been to Wulong, who had raised him?
Furthermore, bear in mind that Wulong knew exactly what
he was doing. He was baiting Jin with precisely chosen taunts. The detective's words would have
been biting enough under ordinary circumstances; what made them even more effectual was that
his stepson had recently completed a school day. That is, Jin had just endured nine, long hours of
unceasing stress on his psychic barriers. Jin was in peak physical condition, but psychologically,
he was at his weakest. I'm convinced it was no accident that Wulong chose to confront his
stepson at the school courtyard, and at that time of the afternoon.
Finally, I'd like to point out that once Wulong had gained
the cerebral advantage, he further reinforced it with a medley of perplexing and oddly fantastic
Arts. Every time he rebuked an attack from Jin, he aggravated his stepson further. Between the
verbal barbs and the exotic assaults, Wulong thoroughly trapped his stepson in an escalating cycle
of mindless, headstrong frustration.
I knew that Jin had the skill to trap and crush stepfather's
limbs, as well as the speed to outmaneuver him. If Jin had been thinking clearly, he could have
used his skill, speed, and vastly superior strength to end this fight before it began. Instead, he only
became further mired in a self-defeating spiral. Indigo lightning cascaded about him as he
screamed, "That's IT! Now you DIE!"
Of course, it was an egregious mistake on Jin's part to stop
and howl the threat. For his vituperation gave Wulong plenty of time to assume the Art of the
Wulong started to sway and stagger, keeping his left side
turned toward his stepson. The detective extended his left hand, while his other drifted
semi-protectively over his torso. His head lolled, precipitously, as he sidestepped in a zigzag
Jin struck, this time with one of the fastest attacks I've seen
him make: a high, simple straight punch with his left hand. I'm sure he intended to follow it up
with worse, but he never had the opportunity. For the Drunken Master gripped his arm and
guided its momentum as if it were all part of the natural stumble, at once both pushing and pulling
Jin right past his target.
An absolutely startled expression crossed Jin's face.
Looking over his shoulder, he extended his right leg behind him in a high-hitting mule kick, but
Wulong half-crouched, half-rolled sideways under Jin's heel. And so the detective succeeded in
dodging completely behind his stepson. With a sharp yell, Wulong pulled Jin back by the collar of
his school uniform, unbalancing him. As if sliding in an elaborate tango move, the detective swung
by his collar hold and slid on his back, whisking his ankles in a rear attack at his stepson's feet. Jin
started to sway backward, flinging out his arms; they coursed well over the supine detective's
head. Wulong righted himself with a reverse swing. A vein throbbed in the detective's temple;
with a strangled cry, he committed all his dwindling strength into a heavy push to Jin's back.
Wulong's effort was just barely enough to shove his stepson face-first on the courtyard, next to
the iron gate.
Wulong completed his ambush with an elbow drop. Like a
falling tree, he flung himself at his stepson, turning his back in midair and bending his right arm for
a smack to Jin's exposed shoulder blades.
It was the detective's first and last mistake.
Though Jin's outrage diminished his skill, his instincts were
still in effect. He rolled lengthwise to avoid a bruise, even as Wulong hit the courtyard supine. The
detective tried to trip his stepson, scrambling from the ground to sweep his right leg in a low,
wide arc. He missed; not because Jin had anticipated him, but rather because Jin was already
flipping head over heels in a new assault. Heedless of his own back hitting the hard pavement, Jin
brought both feet down heavily upon Wulong's side, summoning a jolt of electricity and bellowing
an infuriated cry. The whack of the impact made me wince, as it had the vicious double
effect of pummeling Wulong's midsection and crushing him against the stony ground.
Wulong couldn't get up.
A coughing fit gripped him; he struggled and choked. A
small amount of blood trickled from his mouth, in a disturbing parody of his stepson. He tried to
push his back off the ground with his arms, but he gasped, convulsed, and collapsed.
I'd suspected that Wulong couldn't withstand a single hit,
not in his weakened state. Yet, to actually see such a masterful, devious martial artist rendered
helpless by one, unthinking shot... it wrenched my heart.
Jin wasn't paying attention, though. He couldn't see that his
opponent had been crushed; he could see nothing beyond his own outrage. Voicing a furious
howl, he sailed in a high leap and landed hard on Wulong, his knees battering the detective's chest.
Shock and horror trapped me, as Jin wrathfully alternated blows to his stepfather's face.
"STOP IT!" I screamed. I rushed forward, grabbing Jin's
-and I felt the pain.
I knew that Wulong's taunts had struck a nerve, but I
hadn't guessed they cut this deep. In a sense, Jin hadn't been fighting his stepfather at all; he had
been fighting the Toshin's shadow. I saw a flashing replay of Jun Kazama in the Toshin's unholy
grip, and the felt the agony of Jin's past helplessness. He hadn't been able to save her, neither by
running nor fighting, and the rage he felt was stirred more by his own perceived weakness than
anything else - he couldn't save her, why couldn't he save her-?
"Stay out of this!" Jin commanded, wrenching free his hand
and severing the link of physical contact. However, he also quit pummeling Wulong. Perhaps he
had felt a dose of my own revulsion through the link, mitigating his merciless brutality.
"This fight is over," I declared. "You won. You won before
you threw the first punch."
Jin bared his teeth, ferociously, but I met him with a steady
gaze. Eventually he broke eye contact, and looked down at his stepfather.
Wulong groaned and coughed. Blood streamed from his
nose and mouth, and bruises mashed his face, but he wasn't as badly hurt as he could have
Jin stepped back from his stepfather and gritted his teeth,
I retrieved Wulong's cloak, and used it in an attempt to
clean the blood from his face. His coughing lessened. He reached, feebly, for the iron gate. Even
gripping it as a stable hold, he couldn't pull himself up, so I helped him settle in a half-sitting
position with his back to the wall. That seemed to alleviate his respiratory distress, for his
breathing settled into a windy yet regular wheeze.
"That's enough," Jin said to me, sounding irritated. "You
and I are leaving. Now."
"Aren't you forgetting something?" I returned.
"Like reading his mind."
Jin folded his arms and looked away, disdainfully.
"Your own mental health isn't at too great a risk if he
consents, is it? Now that you've had your petty revenge, give me one good reason why you
shouldn't scan his memories, and find out the whole truth for yourself."
"Because he wants me to."
"Great Spirit. You really are petty."
"Don't pass judgement on me. And don't even think about
volunteering to look through his memories in my place. I'd send you to Antarctica before I'd send
you inside his head."
"Son..." Wulong all but whispered, despairingly reaching
out his hand. I tried to think of an appeal that would mollify Jin.
"Don't you want to know how Kazuya died?"
"I already know!"
"You know what you've been told. You know the echoes
that your empathy can feel. But you haven't seen for yourself, and if you don't look now, you may
never have another chance. Why don't you want to know?"
Jin unfolded his arms and rested his right hand on his hip,
confronting me in the same manner as when he had squared off against his stepfather.
"You just can't stop, can you? Always digging. Always
prying. It's your biggest passion, figuring out everything you can about other people. But it's not
the same when you think about yourself, is it? You belong to a higher standard than all those
other human puzzle-boxes wandering around, hiding their exciting little secrets."
"Are you calling me a hypocrite?"
"Will it get you off my case if I do?"
"Not if you don't have any evidence to support your
"You've never tried to track down your real parents, have
I've slighted Jin for being easy to read, but as I look to that
day, I suppose that I was no better. Because his harsh query stunned me, drained what I was
going to say, drained the defiance from my lips and cheeks and eyes. I was left paralyzed,
slack-jawed, and inwardly scrambling to rebuild a sudden breech in my psychological
"I know you were adopted. Why is it that you, whose
insatiable curiosity drives you to relentlessly peer into my life, doesn't want to know who gave
birth to you? Or who fathered you?" As a final repartee, Jin pointed to me and challenged, "What
are you afraid of finding out?"
My mouth shut itself. I couldn't think of any words to
The cutting harshness left Jin's face. He let his hand drop
and sighed, "Come on, Julia. Let's just go home."
"You don't have to worry about him," he added, with a
dismissing motion toward Wulong. "I'll arrange for him to be taken back to Tokyo Mishima
"No!" the detective gasped, fearfully.
Jin looked down on Wulong like an unwanted stray dog.
"What else am I supposed to do with you? Leave you for the groundskeeper to sweep into the
I cleared my throat, drawing their attention.
"My grandmother found me when I was an infant. Naked,
alone, and left to perish in the Arizona desert. Do you know, there are places just south of there
which still have problems with black market adoption rings? Kidnappers who steal healthy babies,
and then sell them to desperate, childless couples? My grandmother tells me that I was healthy.
But my biological parents didn't even bother selling me for cash; they just left me to die.
"My mother never wanted me. My father either felt the
same, or didn't care enough to learn that I existed. Now, they're both either dead, or they still
don't care, and I'll tell you how I know that. I know that because I grew up hardly a few miles
from where my grandmother found me. If my parents ever had a change of heart, all they'd have
to do is go back to where they left me, and ask around. There aren't that many abandoned,
adopted white girls on the reservation.
"My parents never wanted me, and they still don't. So I
don't want anything to do with them. That's why I haven't tried to learn their identities. What
would I do, once I knew who they were? Sue them both for child abandonment?
"You're different, Jin. Your natural mother loved you. And
your natural father didn't mean to abandon you; he never had the chance to learn about you.
"Um," I suddenly faltered, as I realized I wasn't speaking
from complete certainty anymore. Glancing at Wulong, I asked, "That is right, isn't it? Kazuya
didn't know he was going to be a...?"
"No. He didn't," the detective whispered, hoarsely.
I nodded and stood up, looking Jin in the eye. "Kazuya was
your father. And... and he was Heihachi's son, too. I know you love your grandfather, Jin. For his
sake, for your stepfather's sake, and most of all for your own sake... don't you want to
Jin closed his jet black eyes.
When he opened them again, his hatred of Wulong was still
there. But it was diminished, set on a back burner to quietly cool.
"Are you willing to show me how my father died?" he
asked Wulong, neutrally.
The detective managed a single, weakened nod.
"Then do it."
Jin didn't touch Wulong. I think he didn't need to; his
telepathy was that powerful. He simply extended his hand, palm out.
The snarl returned to Jin's lips, and the hatred in his eyes
started to simmer once more. "You're blocking me."
"You're blocking me!" Jin's fingers curled like tiger
"No, I - I'm trying-"
"What do you expect me to do? Tear apart the inside of
your head? Reduce your mind to the level of a six-year-old child!?"
Jin tried to sound threatening, but he couldn't mask the
pain that colored his words. He blinked, furiously. As if he were holding back tears.
Either a hundred seconds or a hundred years later, Jin
lowered his arm.
"This isn't working," he told his stepfather. "Too much of
you is refusing to let it go."
I asked, "What if you tried again when he was
"No good," Jin denied. "It's his unconscious mind that
resists me the most."
"Please," Wulong implored.
"Shut up. Just shut up and-" Jin stopped, shook his head,
and exhaled a deep breath. "No more games. No more mind probes. Just tell me, all right? Tell me
how my father died. Tell me the meaning of what I saw."
"I didn't... kill Kazuya..."
"Then why do you have his blood on your hands? Why do
you feel the shame of a monstrous lie?" Jin crouched next to his stepfather, fixing him with a
stern, unyielding gaze. "Don't try to show me with your mind. Just talk to me. Tell me why, deep
in your heart, you feel like you murdered my father in cold blood. I'll know if you're being truthful
Wulong's lips parted as if to speak. Moments passed, but
he couldn't utter a single word.
"Is it because you're the one who defeated Kazuya?" I
gently asked the detective. "Do you blame yourself for causing his suicide?"
"It's worse than that," Jin answered for him, without
turning to look at me. "I'd know if it were nothing more than misappropriated remorse. It's much
more vile. Jealous. Vengeful. Premeditated. Motive, means, and opportunity. Blood on the floor,
ice in the soul. As ruthless as the Devil that possessed my father. Its murderous red eyes, reflected
in shards of the broken mirror. Reflected in his own eyes. He won't let it go. Part of him wants to
confess, but only a part. The rest of him wants to bury it forever. He's terrified I'll hate him even
more than I already do, if I learn it's in him. It's holding him back. I can't get to it without
"You don't have to talk about me like I'm not here,"
"Fine, then. Take it to your grave. It doesn't make a
Jin stood. The weariness of a horrible strain made his
shoulders slump, and sapped the ferocity of his hatred. "Don't come near me again. I can't forgive
you for what you did."
"Didn't come for forgiveness," Wulong wheezed. "Came to
"It's the same thing, isn't it? Because of what you did to my
mother and father, you desperately long to redeem yourself by 'saving' their son. It isn't that easy.
You'll just have to take all the darkness inside you to whatever gods you do or don't believe
"You already have an avalanche of good deeds to balance
the scales, anyway," Jin added, tiredly. "Turning back the Great Invasion, protecting the innocent
as 'Super Police.' I'm sure that will be more than enough to save your wretched soul."
"Heihachi is planning to murder you," Wulong
"You really believe that, don't you? You have to believe it,
you pathetic, dying animal. Because if you can't stay alive to 'save' me, then what do you have left
to live for?
"But you're wrong about Grandfather. All you know of him
is what he used to be, and what he used to do to my real father. What you don't understand is
how much he has changed. He is trying to redeem himself, not to earn my forgiveness, not to save
his own soul, but because he knows it is the right thing to do. He has promised to help me save
the world from the Toshin. Grandfather always keeps his promises, even you know that.
"It doesn't matter what happens afterward. It doesn't
matter even if I die too. What matters is that I'm going to avenge my mother."
"Not fighting like that you won't," Wulong coughed.
For a moment, Jin's brow darkened; then the weariness
returned, lessening his raw displeasure. "It was pretty bad, wasn't it."
"Atrocious," I chimed in, helpfully.
"I must train harder," Jin said, looking at the ground.
Wulong rasped, "You've grown much stronger, and you've
learned more. But you still have two crucial weaknesses. You show what you're thinking on your
face; it's too easy for an enemy to read your moves. You need to become like water: your mind
clear, your face expressionless, your soul focused exclusively on the fight. And worse, you're not
controlling your emotions. You let yourself be baited. All I have to do is say a few words about
your mother, and you forget your skill, your tactics, everything. If you can't make peace with her
memory... if you can't let the pain and hatred go... you will lose. Just like Kazuya lost to me."
Wulong closed his eyes. His breathing settled into a slow,
Jin's fists clenched and unclenched. Though he clearly
didn't want to hear his stepfather's advice, he was too intelligent to ignore it.
At last, Jin forced his arms to relax. Turning to me, he
asked, "Now will you come home?"
"I'm sorry. I can't, not yet. You go ahead."
"You're not staying with him," Jin growled, jerking his
thumb at Wulong.
"We can't just leave him here."
"You heard him; he doesn't want to go back to the
"I need some time to think. To figure out what to do."
"Julia, no. He's too dangerous."
"Sure he is. If I'm not careful, he just might bleed on
"What on earth do you want with him, anyway?"
I was beginning to get annoyed. It's not that I was
especially angry with Jin, but he was pestering me when I'd told him I needed time to think. That's
one of my pet peeves; when I'm trying to think, I don't like to be distracted. So I snapped, "I want
to take him to a cheap hotel and sleep with him, what do you think?"
I expected a hostile retort from Jin, but instead he blanched
three shades paler.
"You're joking," he insisted, his eyes growing wide with
dread as gripped my shoulders with both hands. "Please tell me you're joking."
"Yes, Jin, I'm joking."
And, um, I thought it was rather obvious?
Jin steadied himself with a deep breath. "Grandfather and I
are responsible for your safety, for as long as you're living with us. I nearly got killed once,
wandering the streets of Tokyo alone; I couldn't forgive myself if anything like that happened to
"Umm... I'll be fine, Jin." With cautious delicacy, I removed
his hands from my shoulders. "I can't spend every second of my time inside either the school or
the syndicate. And don't you dare assign any bodyguards to watch me. Heihachi tried to offer that
when he proposed an alliance, and I refused."
"Then take this."
I received his gift, and studied it curiously.
It was a curling band, made of some moderately durable
material. It felt smooth, like plastic, and had a blue-and-white diamond pattern on one
"You wear it on your arm," Jin explained. "Let me show
I was a little disconcerted, but not enough to protest as he
wrapped the band like a bracelet on my upper arm. The band folded about my skin, and naturally
retained its shape.
"What is it?" I asked.
"A distress beacon. If you're in trouble, squeeze it twice in
rapid succession, and it'll summon the Tekkenshu to help you. We just finished the working
"Uh-huh. What else does it do?"
"What do you mean?"
"Is there a hidden listening device in it? Or a
"No, nothing like that, absolutely not." Jin's eyebrows
twitched, and he briefly bit his lower lip.
"Really. Does Xiaoyu have one of these?"
"Since yesterday night. She wears it under her uniform. I
have one, too."
"So why did you wait until now to offer me this one?"
"I, uh, thought I was pushing you when I talked you into
trying your new job. Didn't want to press my luck too hard, all at once." Jin cleared his throat. "If
you're not home by nightfall, I'll try to contact you telepathically. If I can't get an answer, I'll have
every Tekkenshu in the city search for you."
"And if you threaten her in any way," Jin warned Wulong,
"I'll make you beg for death."
Then again, maybe this was as much free rein as I was
going to get. "All right. But if I do answer your telepathy, and I tell you to leave me in peace,
you'll respect that?"
Jin sighed, and nodded. "Come back soon. Please."
He walked away then, shaking his head somewhat. I could
almost see him resisting the urge to look back over his shoulder.
"I'll bet this thing has some kind of bug in it," I muttered,
double-checking the innocent-looking armband.
Wulong opened his eyes and said, "Let me see."
Crouching next to him, I removed the armband and let him
"Looks pretty clean," he decided, at last. "Not giving off
infrared or ultraviolet radiation. No bugs or hidden cameras. No special chemicals, either. Just a
simple distress beacon. Keep in mind, though, that the syndicate probably has the technology to
locate this goody whether you activate its distress beacon or not. And therefore locate you, if
you're wearing it."
"There's also an enchantment on it."
I knew Jin was holding something back. "So it is a spying
"Oh, my son doesn't need any devices to spy on you. He
inherited his Power from Kazuya, and Kazuya used to be a master diviner, among other things.
He could summon images from anywhere in the world, into his mirrors. But Jin's a good kid; his
mother and I did our best to raise him right. He wouldn't intrude on your privacy unless he
believed it was a matter of life or death.
"No, this little spell is just a basic life sign monitor. If
you're wearing the armband, then its enchantment keeps track of your pulse, blood pressure, body
temperature, and so on. It sends a warning to my son if you get hurt or sick. That's all."
"How can you simply handle the thing and tell all that?
Technology and sorcery both?"
"I wish. And, by the way..." He offered the armband back
to me. When I moved to take it, he clasped my hand, kissed my fingers, and flashed a
pseudo-lecherous smile. "Enchanté, mademoiselle. Have you a hotel of preference?"
"Oh, shut up," I muttered, pulling away the band and
putting it back on.
He chuckled, a low, uneven sound that terminated in a
"Are you sure you shouldn't be in a hospital?" I asked,
His smarmy good humor faded. "If I check in there a
second time, I won't check out until I'm dead."
"No. Not another word. Not unless you know what it's like
to be shot up with enough drugs to kill a horse."
"...you can't even stand, can you?"
"Not yet. After a nap, maybe."
"I doubt the school will let you sleep here."
"I only need a half hour. Then I'll be healed enough."
"How can you heal yourself? You're not a sorcerer, are
"No, no... it's a long story. Short version is, Kazuya once
decided to play God with me, body and soul. I eventually got my soul back, but a lot of what he
did to my body was permanent."
"I heal fast. From most things, anyway. My cells are a lot
tougher than average; they just don't give up. You think a normal man could keep all his hair
through months of chemotherapy?"
"You're dying of cancer," I realized. "And it can't be
effectively treated, not even with sorcery, because your cancerous cells are every bit as
preternaturally hard to kill as your healthy cells."
"Eh, tell me about it. It's not all Kazuya's fault, though.
Given what I used to do to my liver, I'm lucky it lasted for this long."
"Look, um... Detective?"
"Just my name is fine."
"First or last?"
"Doesn't matter. Lots of folks confuse 'em anyway."
"Okay, uh, Wulong. If you won't go to a hospital, then do
you have anyplace else? Any friends who can help you?"
"I have storehouses."
"Places where I stashed stuff. Some of 'em date back to
when I was planning to arrest Kazuya."
"What kind of 'stuff'?"
"Where'd you think I got these clothes? I sure wasn't going
to confront my son in a flimsy hospital gown." Wulong managed a wink with his right eye.
"Problem is, the storehouses with the most useful stuff are pretty widely scattered. I'm not sure I
can reach all of them without running into Heihachi's goons."
"I could go to them for you."
"You're a sweet kid. Too sweet. I don't want you getting
any deeper into my problems; I want you home with your grandmother. I'll bet Catsclaw's worried
about you, too."
This time, I made an effort to keep my surprise off my face,
but I wasn't very successful.
"You think I don't know who you are?" Wulong appraised.
"Michelle Chang used to be in the Iron Fist. She and Catsclaw both fought against the Great
Invasion. I never knew either of 'em very well, but I knew 'em. The last time I saw Catsclaw was a
couple years ago; he mentioned you. Something about how you were growing up so fast. You
should go see him again. And then you should go straight home."
"Stop right there. Do you remember everything Xiaoyu
told you, about why she had to stay and fight in the Iron Fist?"
"Good. Then I don't have to repeat a similar speech."
"Headstrong stubborn. Just like Michelle."
That put a lump in my throat, and I felt a brief pang for the
adoptive mother I never knew.
"I mean it, sweetheart," Wulong stressed. "This isn't some
cute TV show. You're messing with dangerous people. Your risk of getting crippled or killed in
the Tournament alone is-"
"Who are you to lecture me? You're in the Tournament,
and you're too sick to fight a sparrow."
"I don't have to, not yet. Old man Heihachi arranged a bye
for me; my first match in the Iron Fist isn't for a few weeks. And in terms of potential lifespan, I've
got a lot less at stake than you do."
"I can handle myself."
"Not in a professional blood-sport arena you can't. I know
a little about your background; I'm in the habit of researching everyone in the Iron Fist. And I'll
tell you this right now, sweetheart: going to the gym once or twice a month doesn't make you a
"Ling Xiaoyu is in the Tournament."
"Ling Xiaoyu has been in nearly constant training for the
past seven years. You don't have her experience, and you don't have her natural talent,
This would have been less vexing to hear if I hadn't sat
through a similar warning from someone else, earlier that day. "Heihachi murdered my
grandfather, and stole the sacred treasure of my tribe. I have to avenge my family's honor!"
"By getting yourself killed? Where's the honor in that?"
Wulong made a sympathetic, tsk noise. "You've got courage, sweetheart, but he's got a
horde of Tekkenshu soldiers in Tokyo alone. What do you think you can do to stop an
"Heihachi gave me his word that-"
"Oh, I'm sure he promised you the freaking moon. He's a
silver-tongued Devil and you know it."
"I'm going to bring him to justice!"
"You're not an undercover detective, and you don't have
any backup. All you are is a young girl with a future. A future that you shouldn't throw away. If
not for your own sake, then for your grandmother's. And for my son's."
Wulong had to pause for a short coughing spell. "He likes
you, you know. It would break his heart if you went and got yourself killed."
"What in the Nation are you talking about?"
"Heh. Can't you tell? I can. I used to be a young man too,
once." His vocal tone dropped to a low, deadly rasp. "Listen to me, sweetheart. If you go back to
the syndicate now, then outside of a divine miracle, I'd say your odds of surviving Heihachi's
machinations are about one-quarter my son's. At least he has his Power to protect him; you have
nothing. You can't expect him to protect you, either. He may be sweet on you, but he doesn't
realize what Heihachi is. I'm terrified he won't understand the true threat until the old man
murders both of you, and then it'll be too late."
I should have listened, I suppose.
It would have been the sane thing to do. Yet even though
all of Wulong's words reached my ears, only certain ones registered. Only a small part of what he
said touched me, and set off a chain reaction.
"That's it," I said, excitedly. "That's what I have to do!
Where I have to start, at least."
"I can't expose Heihachi's crimes in a court of law, not yet.
But if can gather enough evidence to convince Jin that Heihachi is a monster - if I can make him
understand - then he'll be warned, and he'll have to turn against his grandfather. Once Jin is
completely on our side-"
"What the freaking hell do you think this is? A Cold
"Exactly. And I have to stay in the syndicate, because I'm
the only one close enough to Jin to reach him. Well, there's also Xiaoyu, but she's too dazzled by
dreams of her own amusement park to comprehend Heihachi's true nature. Once Jin knows the
truth, then I'm sure he can convince her."
"I've made my choice," I cut off, looking Wulong directly
in the eye. "You can't dissuade me from it. No more than I can talk you into getting proper
The detective muttered a curse, and hung his head.
"And you've done enough sidestepping around the original
problem," I continued. "You need a place to stay, and someone to look after you. Aren't you
friends with anyone else in the Iron Fist? I thought a lot of them were also veterans of the Great
"That was twenty years ago. Most of the old guard is out
of the picture now. Retired, settled down, or murdered by the Toshin. Also, Heihachi's goons are
watching everyone in his Tournament like a flock of harpies."
"What about your police contacts?"
"In Hong Kong, sure. This is Tokyo, Heihachi's seat of
power. He has too much influence with the police."
"All of them?"
"There's always a few good cops. And the most
decent-hearted among them would ship me right back to that damn hospital." Wulong's eyes
upward, in thought. "I do have a partner, but she's got a little girl, only two years old. I already
lost one partner to a Mishima syndicate assassin, a long time ago. I'm not going to let the same
thing happen to that little girl's mother. I'm just not."
"Don't you have any friends in Tokyo?"
"As in, people I trust completely? No. A couple heavy
hitters owe me a favor or two, but that's not the same. Besides, I don't want any innocent
bystanders to suffer Heihachi's revenge."
"He hates you that much?"
"More." In a bitterly ironic tone, Wulong added, "I 'killed'
his son, after all."
That made my eyebrows twitch.
I studied Wulong, reevaluating what I knew of him. Could
the heroic Super Police, whom I looked up to as a symbol of all I believed in, truly be a
"What is it?" he mumbled, half-squinting at me.
"If I were a master detective like Sherlock Holmes, then I'd
know what to say. How to trick you into confessing your evil secret. Or how to prove it
independently, confront you with the evidence, and make you admit once and for all what you
really did to Kazuya."
"I promised her."
Wulong wasn't looking at me anymore. I don't think he was
looking at anything in this world; he just started talking. Don't ask why he responded to me, when
his own son couldn't get an answer out of him. Maybe because my face didn't remind him as
painfully of his past, I don't know.
"She pleaded with me. She knew I was planning to murder
Kazuya, and she begged me to soften my heart. We had to capture him alive. The fate of the
whole world depended on capturing him alive. And there was something in her heart, too. Love.
Tenderness. Selfless compassion, even for the monster who had betrayed all humankind. So I
looked away, and from the emptiness in my hollow, soulless shell, I promised her. I promised her
I'd do everything I could to see that Kazuya was taken alive."
Tears trickled from Wulong's sunken eyes. "I loved her,
you know. I loved her more than anything in the world."
He was, I assume, talking about Jun Kazama.
Although I tried to draw Wulong out further, and pressed
him on every angle I could think of, he wouldn't say any more. He finally rebuffed me with, "Go
home, kid. Just go home."
"I'm not leaving you alone in this condition."
I think the prelude to confession had changed him, opening
a small, hidden door to things he never would have said otherwise. Because his next words
were, "I'm not really alone. I've got an angel assigned to my case."
"Heh. Would you believe me if I told you the Angel of
Death sent one of her own to help me out?"
"They really did pump you full of drugs in that hospital,
"Or maybe she sent an angel to kill me. I'm not sure
"I don't think you should worry about being killed by an
"Yeah, I know. Divine Sanctions."
What a minute. Did I just hear him say-
"Eh, Catsclaw never told you about those? They're a set of
cosmic laws, restricting the extent to which so-called gods, devils, spirits and such can mess
around with mere mortals."
"Real enough to start an Invasion. Or stop one."
I snapped my fingers in a burst of insight. "I just thought of
someone who might be able to help you."
"You're not carrying any mirrors, are you?"
"Light-reflective surfaces of any-"
"I freaking know what mirrors are, and no, I don't have any
stashed away. Why? How ugly is this mysterious person?"
"Um, it's just that he really doesn't like mirrors. I'm going
to see if I can find him. Don't go anywhere, all right?"
"Whatever you say, sweetheart," Wulong murmured,
closing his eyes.
When he opened them again, he said, "Oh, freaking
"Hey!" Professor Shingo Yabuki exclaimed, letting go of
his claw cane long enough to snap the fingers of his one good hand. "Now I remember where I've
seen you before. You were in that movie, right? The one where you're running on a bridge, and
the bad guys are trying to machine-gun you from a helicopter? And they shoot missiles at you,
only you make a last-ditch leap and barely clear the bridge, flailing your arms and legs, while the
missiles explode behind you in a huge ball of fire?"
"You just described all my movies." Wulong clamped his
hands on the iron gate and tenuously dragged himself to a standing position, trembling from the
effort. "Aren't you Shingo Yabuki?"
"You've heard of me?"
"I've heard of a screwball idiot who tried to enter the King
of Fighters Tournament by himself, making solo challenges to three-person teams of combat
veterans. Saw the whole absurdity on TV, a long time ago. They played it for comedy relief
between real matches."
"A pleasure to meet you," Shingo offered, cheerily.
"How'd you lose the arm and the leg?"
"Ah, well, my bones got broken when I challenged the
Tournament sponsor to single combat."
"Oh? I never saw that on TV."
"I was, ah, bending the rules. Tracked him all the way up to
his airship in the sky, and that sort of antagonized him. The casts should come off in a few more
weeks, I hope."
Wulong studied Shingo's obviously artificial, wooden
prosthetic limbs. Then he looked at me and squinted with one eye, while raising an eyebrow over
the other. I shrugged, helplessly.
"Crazy as a loon," the detective mumbled under his
"Now, now," Shingo gently chided. "Demons can't be
Ahh... here's the sunrise. So beautiful you just can't paint it
with words, isn't it?
I'll talk to you again tonight, during the moonrise.
Oh. Now there's a question I hadn't thought of.
I'm not completely certain why Shingo agreed to take
Wulong in. Or why I was so sure that he would. It was just a gut feeling. When Wulong
mentioned the Divine Sanctions, it made me think about an earlier talk with Shingo. I remembered
the ardent look on Shingo's face when he told me that he knew the risks he was taking, teaching
Jin Kazama's class. Maybe I went to Shingo because, somehow, I sensed the fighting courage of
his warrior soul. Because I saw him as a kindred spirit to the Thunder Warrior Dragon, Lei
Or maybe because only a loon like Shingo would risk his
neck to shelter Heihachi's mortal enemy. I don't know.
AUDIO TRANSCRIPT: Files of Chief Detective Lei Wulong
Department of the Hong Kong Police Force
Classification Level: Omega
December 7, 2017
Activate - cough - Omega Level Classification.
Now. Whoever's listening to this. If my body turns up in a
ditch somewhere, and I'm not dead of natural causes, Shingo Yabuki's your best murder
He's not the most likely person to kill me, mind. Not by a
long shot. But whenever Heihachi's men off a victim, they're always careful to make the poor slob
'disappear.' Yabuki isn't that sophisticated.
Oh, freaking hell. I don't know what to do anymore. It's
not enough for Heihachi to plot the murder of my son, is it? No, he has to draw more innocent
children into his web. Ling Xiaoyu and Julia Chang... I might have had a chance of saving my son,
but how in the world am I going to get all three of them out of this alive? And I still haven't
figured out if my only 'friend' is schizophrenic, or what.
He has a criminal record, you know.
I looked it up through this hand-held gadget whatsis of a
thousand uses, or whatever it's supposed to be. The pocket miracle that can record anything at
Omega Level Security Classification, as long as it's dictated verbally. Why does it have to be
verbal? Do I sound like I'm in the shape to talk? I don't want to die without giving the idiot who
designed this thing a good smack over the head, I really don't.
So, I looked up Yabuki's criminal history. It's not all that
bad; he's not credited with inciting the Orochi Blood Riots or anything, as far as I know. But after
the Riots... after he lost his parents and his younger sister, and disappeared for over a year... he
came back screwed up. Really screwed up. Missing his left arm, leg, eye, and ear. Plagued
with all sorts of demented hallucinations, including the unshakeable belief that his whole family is
still alive. His surviving sister tried to take him in, but that didn't last a month.
He was charged with domestic battery and destruction of
property. Something about smashing the mirrors in his sister's house. She tried to stop him, and,
well... according to her own statement he didn't even see her, pushed her on the broken glass
without realizing it. She had to get stitches. A neighbor called the police, and Yabuki resisted
arrest like a psycho. Yabuki was docile enough at first, but one look at the side mirror on the
patrol car and he absolutely freaked out. Took the rookie cops sent to handle him by complete
surprise. He might've been handicapped, but they still had to choke him unconscious to stop his
rampage. It was quite a fiasco.
Yabuki's sister eventually dropped the charges, though, and
had him committed to a mental institution instead. Serenity Consolation Asylum. He stayed there
for almost twenty years until the Mishima syndicate got him out, for whatever insidious reason.
They had to strike a deal with the sister, too, since she's Yabuki's legal guardian. Part of the deal
is that she can call the Tekkenshu for protection anytime, if she feels threatened by her deranged
I hate criminals.
But it looks like I'm stuck with one for now, because I
have nowhere else to go. So I've been casing his apartment, trying to find out what I can about
him. The place is surprisingly normal.
Normal for a packrat, anyway.
It's something of a disorganized mess. Empty containers
strewn in and out his trash suggest that he practically lives off microwaved food. He's also
garnished the premises with all sorts of ridiculous charms, and scrawled paper spirit wards. He's
only been out of the asylum for a few months, though, so he hasn't been here long enough to turn
this place into a complete disaster.
There most interesting object in his front room is a big
trunk. It's got a quality combination lock, so well-made it took me ten minutes to figure out the
tumbler catch. The trunk also has several paper wards against 'evil' on it, but I suppose I'm not
'evil' enough to trip them. Inside, the trunk is full of notebooks. Lots of notebooks. Pocket
notebooks, hand notebooks, full sized notebooks, all of them filled cover to cover with sloppily
There's one pocket notebook that seems special. It's twenty
times as worn as any of the others, and it has a unique symbol traced on its inside cover, like a sun
sign. The same symbol that's on the back of the fingerless fighting gloves Yabuki likes to wear.
Let me try to recite a few excerpts from memory...
Axe kick: lifts leg with heel directly above head, lets heel fall in parallel with body,
toes flexed, arms close to torso, exhales breath hard.
Flaming uppercut: jumps vertically and twirls entire body in single revolution, raising arms.
Elbows are at shoulder level, bent 90 degrees. Hands point up, palms face outward, fire trails in
spiral. Shouts "ORIYA!"
Victory: summons flame to finger, puts hand on hip, wags finger, asks, "Did that burn?" then
winks and snuffs out flame.
It goes on and on like that. Dry, meticulous economy of
words, illustrated with sketchy diagrams of human figures. Like a whole catalog of someone's
fighting style, including basic forms, sorcerous attacks, and personality quirks. The sorcery
comments in particular seem out of place; if Yabuki's a sorcerer, then I'm a freaking
All of the other notebooks read the same: extensively
pedantic descriptions of different fighting styles. Lots of styles. Karate, Tae Kwon Do, wrestling,
capoeira, and that's just the beginning; some of 'em are so exotic, I can't think of a name right off
my head. I looked through 'em all, then put 'em back in the trunk and refastened the lock.
These aren't the only notebooks in Yabuki's home, by the
way. But the ones that he doesn't have locked up tend to deal with more mundane stuff: day
planners, lecture outlines, that sort of thing. Looks like it's the notebooks of fighting moves that
he treasures the most.
Okay, so Yabuki's a martial arts buff. I suppose I should
expect that; he was in the King of Fighters Tournament, after all. What I didn't expect was what I
found when I broadened my search to the kitchen.
There's blood in his freezer.
Animal blood, according to the labels. Various receipts in a
desk drawer confirm that he buys some of it from a local butcher, and imports the rest. The blood
set me on edge, and I renewed my search with extra care, but if he's murdered any human beings
then I can't find a trace of it.
Also, his bathroom mirror has been pried out of the wall.
There isn't a single shiny or reflective surface in the whole apartment. He's even given the faucets
a coat of black paint. Between the blood and the aversion to mirrors, I'd be tempted to think
Yabuki is a vampire, if I didn't know better. I've enough demon residue left in me to detect such
things, and all my senses tell me he's human.
He's just freaking nuts.
He- oh, hell.
I, uh, thought you were asleep. No, I wasn't holding
anything - let go of my sleeve-!
No, no, that's nothing, it's just-
-no, you can't have it, it's-
It is an Omega Security Classification recorder! I
heard they were making prototypes of these. I knew you were Super Police, but I had no idea you
were daring enough to beta test brand new hardware.
Of course I know about the prototype. I designed the
manufacturer's web page. That's part of how I used to earn my keep at Serenity Consolation;
assorted Internet work. That and a little cleaning, sometimes.
Are you all right?
In the name of Kusanagi-sama! That's a nasty cough. You
shouldn't be talking into a recorder at length; you'll only make it harder on yourself. Why don't
you hook it up to my computer keyboard? Then you can type what you want in, and you won't
have to hurt yourself anymore. Okay?
You didn't know it could take a keyboard attachment?
Uwaa! Did you honestly think the designers were that short-sighted? No, no, they're really very
nice people. I used to exchange electronic mail with one of them, myself. He got me a similar
device for my own computer. It's not an Omega Security Classification recorder or anything, but
it does a fair job of translating spoken words into text. Much more convenient than trying to type
with a broken arm.
In any case, Lei-san, I just remembered to ask you
something when I woke up. Chang-san mentioned that you might be having problems with an
'Angel of Death'? One of her servants is out to kill you, or something like that?
Now, now, it's all right; you don't have to deny it. I'm sure
anyone else would think it's ludicrous, but I know a little about these matters. And you're in luck;
I happen to have exactly the right thing on hand. Just a minute, let me find it and warm it up in the
Hmm, let me think... the door's probably the only thing I
should mark; type-specific spirit seals are usually pretty effective that way. Ward the main portal,
and the whole home is protected. Unless you invite them in, but that goes without saying.
Besides, if I were to put any on the windows, it might start some unpleasant rumors.
Ah, it's ready. Can you hold the bowl for me? Careful, it's
hot. Don't spill any on yourself; that stuff's murder to get out of nice clothes.
Why, it's the blood of a lamb. Nothing's more effective at
hiding you from angels. I saw it in a movie, once. When you're ready to deal with this angel, all
you have to do is step outside; the protection should only cover my apartment. But, um, if you
don't mind my saying so, you don't look like you're in any condition to go wandering around. If
there's anything you need, I'm sure I can get it for you.
What? Oh, so I do. Sorry. Here's your recorder back.
December 8, 2017
Okay, that was nerve-wracking.
Yabuki's trying to sleep again. It seems he has some
problems with nightmares. I was able to question him a little, about those.
"The nightmares?" he said, a shade too nervously,
scratching the back of his head with his one working hand. I noticed he was still wearing his
sun-sign fighting gloves, even when dressed to sleep: one on his real arm, one on his wooden arm.
"Oh, uh, they're nothing, really."
"What do you dream about?" I asked. I'm not a shrink, but
the more background I can get on this loony, the better.
"Ah, well..." He managed a lopsided grin, but it didn't
completely conceal the fear inside. "You're really curious?"
"If you don't mind telling me."
Yabuki closed his eyes, and his voice became distant.
Maybe a little sad, in a haunted, ghostly way. "I dream that I'm really... I'm really not here, you
know? Not waiting to get back in the King of Fighters Tournament, that I can never fight in
another Tournament again. That I'm not seventeen, I'm a middle-aged man who's spent the last
twenty years practically locked up. That I haven't seen my big sister in over a decade... she doesn't
want me anywhere near the life she's made for herself. That the rest of my family were... because
of me... because I was so eager to fight in an evil Tournament...
"...sorry... sorry, I don't know what got into me," he hastily
wound down, rubbing his right eye. "Although, I think I know what started the dreams this time.
Chang-san started working for me today, and she... she reminds me of my little sister. Not that
they look alike or anything, but, well, Chang-san has that same, inquisitive type of mind. Little
sister is always coming to me with questions, like 'Where do rainbows come from?' or 'How does
that guy on TV shoot fire from his hands?'
"Thank Kusanagi-sama it's only a dream," Yabuki
I can hear him in the next room, even now. Still tossing
about, occasionally talking or whimpering in his sleep. Even woke up with a strangled scream,
once. It was hours before he settled down enough that I decided to try typing this. I think I'll wait
until he's off at his day job before I dare to take a nap myself.
I don't trust him. But I may not have a choice; I need a
place to stay, and someone to retrieve my storehouse stashes for me.
On the other hand, some of those stashes contain weapons.
If only I could get them myself. That isn't likely, though. I
doubt I could withstand multiple trips around Tokyo, even if I didn't have to worry about evading
Heihachi's goons. Yabuki may be the only one I can talk into doing this. If I try to contact
someone else in the Iron Fist, Heihachi could find out where I am, and ship me back to that
I think I'll monitor Yabuki, for a while. Maybe I'll send him
to one of my storehouses with not-so-hazardous items, see how he reacts to that. I need time to
figure out what I'm going to do.
Computer: Deactivate Omega Level Classification.
INTERVIEW WITH BRYAN FURY, section 4
February 13, 2018
When will you understand? If you give Lee Chaolan a
message at daybreak, and you request an interview with me at six in the evening, it does
not mean I have advance notice, because I SLEEP during the day!
Shoo, shoo, buzz off. I have more important things to
No, I do not have time for one quick question,
Really. You're not kidding. Lamb's blood?
Shit. This is funny. No, this is really funny. Have
you asked Lee about this?
Oh, yeah. Still insists he isn't really an 'angel.' And I bet
he'd continue making excuses, even after he heard. Man, this is good.
Okay. Fine. I'll spend a little time to confirm what you
already know. Enough so you can get down what kind of world-class screw-up took it on himself
to possess my body. Only you'd better not have been taking any more interviews from Lee behind
Good. Then I'll start with when I woke up, after I was
nearly killed by a bunch of Tekkenshu and their fucking tank. Uh, December 8th, I think it was.
Early morning too; like around 3:30 a.m. I remember seeing the date and time flash on some big,
neon billboard, way in the distance.
Then I realized I was sitting on the roof of a
No shit. Just perched on a building so high up, it had
blinking red lights at its corners, to warn away low-flying aircraft. My hands rested on the edge;
my legs dangled over it. Tokyo was all spread out below me; buildings scattered like blocks,
streets like traces in the dirt, electric lights like little fireflies, occasional faraway cars like crawling
ants. Some idiots might have found the view breathtaking. I would've been a lot more calm if
there weren't a stiff wind, ready to tip me over.
And if I were in control of my own goddamn body.
I wasn't, naturally. Lee was in control. Even worse, Lee
had done another one of those shape-shifts or whatever you call it; my body wasn't mine anymore.
My view moved up to the half-full moon, looming bright yellow; then down to the dizzying world
below. Somewhere in there, I glimpsed white wing-feathers.
He'd turned my body into his 'true form.' Into a copy of
himself as an angel.
I hate it when he does that.
Hey, I thought, and couldn't actually say because I
couldn't control my own goddamn vocal chords. Hey! What's going on? Where am I
*You're awake?* he thought
back, in that annoyingly ultra-clear angel voice. *Excellent.*
What are you so happy about?
*You've been asleep for two days. I was
thinking that it's about time we tracked down Lei Wulong.*
You've been waiting for me to wake up before you
went after him?
This was a surprise. I wanted revenge on Wulong for
ruining my life; Lee wanted revenge on Wulong for murdering Kazuya. But I hadn't expected Lee
to wait for me, before he hunted Wulong down and got that revenge.
*Partly. Wulong may be ill, but he is not to be
underestimated, and the cooperation of your consciousness is an asset to my own Power as a
'Partly'? What's the other part?
*Mishima syndicate Tekkenshu have been
searching for you. They appear to have stopped active pursuit; I don't know why. However, it
would seem they regularly patrol the city, like a supplement to its police force. And if Heihachi is
anything like how I remember him, he is going to have spies everywhere, watching for us. I've
been trying to avoid detection, while simultaneously rebuilding my strength and maintaining your
body's biological functions. It wasn't easy. It's been a while since I had to worry about
Spare me the details, I interrupted, and thankfully,
he did. Okay, so we go after Wulong. You want my 'cooperation'? Fine. Give me back
*We need to reach him first, and we need my
Power for that, and I need to be in control of your body for that.*
Whatever. Just give me back control when we get to
*Let's worry about that when we're there, all
I seethed, but held my temper in check. I didn't want to get
into a mental battle with Lee on the edge of a fucking skyscraper; what if I finally won back
control of my body for good, and the last thing he did with it was pitch it over the side?
Hey, wait a minute. Why was my view suddenly sloping
He WAS pitching me over the side!
I'll be kind enough to skip the scenes of my life flashing
before my eyes - it's none of your fucking business anyway - and let you know that my view
swooped down, then floated back up, nice and seamless as you please.
Shit. I forgot how much this bastard angel loved to fly.
Shit, shit, shiiiiiiiit!
This is NOT a good idea! What if we're SEEN!? I
thought, trying very hard to keep a lid on my panic.
*At this height, the risk is
As Lee rose past the skyscraper roof like some fucking
Renaissance painting, he created a glowing white light in his cupped hands - more like gathering a
whole mess of little white lights, actually. They made a shiny ball; then he spread his arms and let
What are you doing?
I thought he was at Tokyo Mishima General
*I've been biding my time, reserving the
necessary energy to trace his movements from it... this way.*
I'll also spare you what it's like to soar and dive through a
nighttime city. Let me just mention that if I had been in control of my body, I would have lost my
guts over half of Tokyo.
We finally reached - eh, looked like a school of some kind.
Big clock face embedded in a main building, ten-foot wall surrounding paved inner grounds, and
so on. There was a closed iron gate in front. Lee touched down on top of the wall, near the iron
*This is as far as I can directly trace his trail.
Too many other people have passed through these gates.*
Oh, shit. Are you saying we've lost him?
I felt a strong echo of Lee's smug self-satisfaction.
*Not at all. Wulong was once made into a demon; his blood still carries traces of the
taint. All I need to do is call upon my Power as a Guardian to sense the whereabouts of local
Huh. Why not do that right from the start?
*It takes less energy to find a nearby demon
than a faraway demon.*
Ask a stupid question, I suppose...
Lee put my hands in front of me and did that idiotic white
light trick again.
What's going on? I thought, as I detected a tenuous
uncertainty in his emotions. Isn't your 'Power' whatsis working?
*Quiet. I'm trying to
*This isn't right. This can't be right. He
wouldn't have left the city. He would have stayed to fight in the Iron Fist-*
Are you telling me he's not in Tokyo anymore?
*The whole city is free of demons, unless you
count Hwoarang. This CAN'T be right-!*
Maybe he's fighting a match outside the city.
*In past Iron Fist Tournaments, perhaps. In
this Iron Fist, Heihachi is seeking to lure the Toshin with strong souls. He has to gather those
souls in one place, not spread them around the world.*
Then maybe your precious 'Power' isn't working so
*Impossible. I've done this
But you're not picking up pretty boy Kazama, are
*Why would I?*
He's part hellfiend, isn't he? His father was the Devil of
the Great Invasion.
I felt a flustered undercurrent of Lee's growing ill will.
*My brother Kazuya was not a Devil. Kazuya was possessed by a
Devil. It is NOT the same; the monster controlled him, it made him commit his
Whoa, there. Don't get your feathers all in a
*And I was using my Power to detect demons,
What's the difference?
*Devils can use sorcery. Demons
Doesn't sound like much of a difference.
*It is if you have to fight
Then maybe Wulong's dead. You mentioned he was
sick, didn't you?
That rattled Lee.
I mean, that really rattled him. Big time.
He started to pace, agitatedly, back and forth on the wall.
*No. I refuse to believe it. I refuse to believe he has escaped me. I refuse to
believe I waited too long! I-*
"-REFUSE!" Lee screamed, and with a disconcerting
wrench, he ripped himself outside my body. He was no longer in his angel form, either. He was
back to talking in a normal voice, and looking like a scarred, silver-haired ghost in punk's
clothing. I grimaced, spotting those extendible silver threads that connected his left hand to my
neck. If not for those threads, I'd be free of him forever.
At least my body was back its normal self, for now.
Even if I was precariously balanced on a wall.
Oh, shit, no-!
"Bryan-!" Lee's quasi-transparent form gasped, twisting
around a split-second too late.
I tried to land like a cat, but my right foot skidded on
gravel. Fire shot through my ankle. I flopped on my side with a hard thud, cracking my
head against the pavement.
Lee jumped down next to me, quickly. "Oh no, I didn't
"Spare me," I hissed, trying to get up. My hip throbbed,
and my head spun.
"You're in pain. Let me-"
"Oh, no you don't. You stay outside my body for a while;
I'm fucking keeping control."
"Shut up." A wrenching jolt ripped through my ankle,
when I touched my right foot flat on the ground.
"It's twisted," Lee observed. "You can't walk on it."
"Um, we have another problem."
"I've, uh, used up a lot of your energy with those failed
divinations. I might have barely enough left to heal your ankle, but anything more could make us
both pass out, or worse."
"What do you mean, you've 'used up' a lot of my-"
My stomach growled.
I suddenly realized I was hungry. So hungry I felt dizzy.
Weak. Ready to faint. Which is probably why I couldn't keep my balance on that damn wall.
"It has been a long time since I had to live off the streets,"
Lee explained, apologetically. "And I was never very good at it."
"You haven't fed me anything in the past two days, have
you!?" I snapped.
"Umm... one of the complications is that your digestive
system is largely cybernetic, very limited in what it can safely process; I couldn't-"
"I was able to sneak a bowl of broth that someone left
behind in a-"
"SPARE me the DETAILS!"
Lee hung his head, and looked hurt.
"Look, angel. Here's an idea. If Wulong's dead, then why
don't you leave my body and go chase him on your own? Settle your revenge in the afterlife,
take his soul to Hell or whatever."
"I am not an angel, any more than Kazuya was a
"Did you hear the rest of what I said?"
"I can't leave your body. You'd die. I'm serving as part of
your central nervous system as we speak."
Ah, not this pack of lies again. I was too hungry to argue
with it anymore.
"Okay. Okay, then here's the plan," I outlined. "For now,
we assume Wulong is not dead. If he is, there's nothing we can do about it; so let's figure he isn't.
Also, we assume he's still in the city. Or that if he isn't still in the city, he's coming back to it. He's
got too much phony pride to just up and quit the Iron Fist Tournament. I'm betting what
happened is, he's found a way to protect himself from your fancy Power."
Lee raised his head. "That didn't occur to me. It could be
possible, but... Wulong isn't a sorcerer. Could he have found an ally who knows sorcery?" Wary
unease crossed Lee's face. "It would have to be a powerful wizard indeed, to deny a Guardian of
the Grey Kingdom. We could be in trouble."
"We'll take care of that when we get to it. And if we can't
find Wulong any other way, we'll wait until he comes out for a match in the Iron Fist, and nail him
then. Right now, we need to get out of here, before dawn breaks and someone sees us. Sees me,
anyway. You got any ideas where we should go?"
"Ah, let me think..."
"Just where have you been hiding for the past two
"Underground, most of the time. In the sewers and subway
tunnels. But there's very little edible food down there, which means-"
"I starve to death in a stinking sewer. Shit."
"If you give me control-"
"What? What can you do with control that's so much better
than what you've done already?"
"Uh... your question aside, I can shape-shift your body
back to my true form. In that form, you don't exactly have to eat. We'll still be low on energy, but
your need for nourishment will not worsen with the passage of time. So you won't starve to death,
as long as I'm careful not to expend any more Power."
This was getting so good I could just puke.
"Screw that. I've got a better idea. Remember that Tokyo
address pretty boy Kazama gave us? Where that scientist who hates the Mishima syndicate is
hanging out? The pretty boy said that the scientist would help us. What's the name, Doctor
Basket-... er, Boscoe-..."
"Doctor Boskonovitch," Lee finished for me.
A change came over him.
I've told you before what he got like when I confronted
him with his war criminal past, right? All withdrawn and remorseful, unable to resist a fly, like he
wants to crawl in a hole and hide from his own guilt? That's how he looked.
"Now what?" I demanded, crossly.
"Going to Boskonovitch... may not be a good idea."
"And why the fuck not?"
Lee shuddered. It's screwy. What does a dead man have to
shudder for? Does he feel the cold? I'd understand it if Lee felt the cold through my body, and
made me shudder, but-
Ah, hell. It was downright warm out. Weird for
"Out with it," I demanded. "What did you do?"
"Now I remember - you were startled when you heard this
doctor was in the area. He's from your past, isn't he? Your mass-murdering,
spineless-collaborator-to-the-Great-Invasion past. You fucking did something personal to him,
Confession time. Now."
Lee's mouth moved, but I couldn't make out the
"I don't HAVE all fucking NIGHT! NOW!"
"I killed... his daughter."
Just one wonderful piece of news after another.
"Kazuya and I... we needed him to work for us... his
genius... his secrets for the Jack-2 android soldiers... so we made a plan to
kidnap him. Kazuya's plan. I didn't like it, but I didn't say anything, I wasn't strong enough to
resist my brother. I supervised the plan's execution. We made Boskonovitch's daughter sick with
chemical weapons, so that he'd come to us in exchange for the cure, but..."
Lee swallowed. Why does a dead man, who doesn't even
have to breathe, need to swallow? Ah, forget it. "...a Jack-2 unit had developed a bond with her...
wanted to protect her... it took her away from us, before we could put her in cryogenic
suspension. Hid her from our agents. By the time we found her, it was too late. She died thirty
minutes before we could freeze her. B-but... we used her to lure the doctor regardless... with
empty promises of a cure for a dead, innocent girl..."
Lee closed his eyes and shook his head. "It wasn't
supposed to be like that. Kazuya promised me we wouldn't kill her. She wasn't even supposed to
get very sick. We weren't supposed to kill a child... it w-wasn't supposed to..."
"Oh, shut the fuck up."
Lee shut up.
This was bad. Sure, Lee was the one who had earned
Boskonovitch's eternal hatred, not me; but could I count on Boskonovitch being generous enough
to cut me some slack? Or else, could I count on keeping Lee's possession of me a secret?
Maybe. Wouldn't want to stake my life on it, though.
It would be great if I could, say, ask Boskonovitch to help
me force this unwanted spirit OUT of my body. But if I were in Boskonovitch's shoes, I'd find it a
lot easier to just kill Lee's host and get revenge on Lee that way. Shit, shit, shit.
"Okay, so Boskonovitch is out. Or else left as an absolute
last resort. There has to be somewhere else we can go."
"You're a policeman..."
"If you don't know that the Tokyo police are nothing more
than an underfunded, ill-equipped backup to Heihachi's Tekkenshu, then you're an even bigger
idiot than I thought."
"Wait. I do know a place," Lee realized, gradually
recovering from his shaken penitence.
"Or rather, you know a place."
"So that I was reluctant to seek refuge there until you
"Uh-huh. Where is this incredible safe haven?"
Oh, shit, no. This whole night had just hit rock bottom.
There was no way, no possible way-
"HOW do you know about her!?" I yelled, and my voice
cracked somewhere in there.
"The Law of Reflection."
"The what of the what?"
"Whenever you perform any targeted sorcery or psionics,
and your target turns out to be invalid, the net effect of part or all of your endeavor is reflected
directly upon you. For example, when my search spell for demons failed, I would have become a
more visible target to any demons looking for me. Fortunately, the Mishima syndicate is pursuing
us solely through technological-"
"SPARE ME THE DETAILS! What does this have to do
with you knowing about Taki!? Have you been reading my mind!?"
"No, you were reading my mind. Remember?"
I didn't want to remember that.
"When you look through another person's psyche, if you
deliberately target a specific memory that you expect to find, and it isn't there, then the Law of
Reflection comes into play. Nearly all mind-probes tend to involve the Law of Reflection, because
the prober never knows exactly what to expect of the probed person's mind when he goes in.
Which is why a mind-probe almost always has some repercussions both ways, although a highly
skilled telepath, who knows in advance what to anticipate, will reveal very little of himself-"
"When I tell you to 'spare me the details,' do you actually
get what I'm saying, or does your angel brain operate according to different rules of
"In our case, you must have been looking for an important
memory that you didn't find. While I fell asleep wondering where we could hide from the
Tekkenshu. Which must be why I ended up learning about Taki's home. The Law of Reflection
mirrored the most suitable pieces of your memories to my psyche."
Oh, shit. Now I remembered.
Just for fun, I'd been looking through his memories for sex.
I'd expected to page through a horde of women succumbing to his silver-haired charm, and the
reality was much, much less. If I'd had any idea it would have this kind of side effect-
"How much do you know about Taki?" I pushed, with a
sick feeling in my empty stomach.
"Not a great deal. That she used to work with you, on
behalf of the syndicate. That she is a skilled sorceress. The location of her home. That she would
be willing to give you succor."
"Give me WHAT!?"
"Assistance in time of distress." Lee tilted his head,
curiously. "What did you think the word meant?"
"Shut up, shut up. Taki's loyal to the syndicate. She'd only
turn us over to them."
Lee thought about that.
"You do not truly believe what you are saying," he
evaluated. "You are rationalizing, in a weak attempt to justify your personal antipathy."
Shit. I forgot the bastard as good as had me on a lie
"For the last time, shut up! I am not crawling to Taki. I am
"I'll shape-change you into my true form and fly. It's the
only way we can reach her place before sunrise, with your ankle in that condition."
"What's wrong?" Lee's brow furrowed, sympathetically. "Is
your conscience bothering you? Did you do something to her that you regret?"
If he weren't already dead, I would have fucking killed
And that's all the time I have for you. Now I'm a half hour
late, but it'll be worth it. I can't wait until Lee wakes up. I'm just dying to tell him the 'powerful
wizard' he was so scared of was really that pathetic cripple Yabuki all along. It'll be so good-
Oh, that. We compromised. I finally agreed to hide out at
Taki's, on the condition that we stay the hell away from Taki herself. In other words, steal her
food without her knowing it. We even found events in the Iron Fist Tournament listed on her
calendar, complete with the place and time of Lei Wulong's first match. Which wasn't for weeks.
Lee was pissed off at having to wait, but it didn't bother me so much. It gave me extra time to
think about how I was going to get rid of the angel in my body.
Staying out of Taki's sight was easy, since as I'd hoped, she
wasn't even there; she liked to live in the Mishima syndicate for days or weeks at a time. That was
a relief for me, but Lee didn't feel good about breaking and entering without Taki's consent, let
alone snooping or stealing. I had to sell him the whole idea with some bullshit about how Taki
could be in danger from the syndicate, if she knew we were at her place.
Hey, it had the dubious value of being true. That's why it
What can I say. I was hungry.
End of Chapter 15: Prelude to Confession