written by Victar, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Victar's Archive: http://www.victarfanfics.com
PART VI: ABSOLUTION
Chapter 27: Angel of Treachery
chao-lan (chóu-lan) n. A traitor, esp. one who
betrays a brother or family member. [< Lee Chaolan, (1970-1997).]
-Webster's Pocket English
Dictionary © 2017
EXCERPT: private journal of Heishiro Mitsurugi
January 2, 2018
Okay. Starting up a new journal, here.
Mishima-sama still has my old one. I'm confident he hasn't
destroyed it - he promised me that it would be kept 'inviolate,' and whatever else he may be, he is
not a liar. Sometime in the near future, I intend to get it back.
After Mishima-sama is stopped.
After the young master and Julia Chang are saved.
The young master... Jin Kazama...
I owe him my life, and so much more.
I will be fighting to save him, along with everyone else
gathered in Chizuru Kagura's Temple. But before we all brave the fire, I want to try my hand at
writing one more time.
Time is something I'm pretty short of. Our rescue mission
starts in another couple hours. So much has happened to me, since the last entry in my old
journal, that I can't really explain all of it right now. I'm just going to write about what has
And about Anna.
I knew she was here, in Kagura's Temple. I knew that she
wanted to see me; the caretaker told me so. But I couldn't bring myself to see her. Even though
we both needed to set some closure, in order to clear our minds for the battle ahead.
She's going to be fighting on our side, too. I wish she
weren't; I'm afraid she could get killed. It's her choice to make, though. On the bright side, I know
that Anna is a capable fighter. She can take care of herself, and I have to trust that's what she'll
So, it's just as well that while I was working up the resolve
to confront her again - practicing a sword kata that no one ever taught me - Anna took it upon
herself to track me down. Now, at least everything's settled between us.
It isn't as if I can just turn a dial and shut off all the feelings
I've ever had for her. The truth is, I was a little... afraid... to ask her if she ever had any feelings
for me. Or if I really was nothing more than a tool, to her.
I've been thinking about my relationship with her, these
past two days.
Not the same as before. Before she left me... before
Mishima-sama made me into something unspeakable...
Before everything went to the basement larder of Hell, I
never really 'thought' about Anna. I idolized her, worshiped her, tumbled head-over-heels for her,
and let my feelings rule me. It's only now that I have the... wisdom? Emotional distance?
Cynicism? Whatever it is, it's changed me enough so that I can be a little more honest with
At first, I was asking myself, 'What went wrong?'
Then I had to wonder if maybe I was assuming too much
with that question. Maybe there was something wrong from the beginning.
Taki did warn me about Anna, after all. More than once. I
know I wrote those warnings down in my old journal, word for word. But I never actually sat
down and thought about what Taki was saying.
Well, I'm thinking now. I'm looking back at my relationship
with Anna, and thinking about it, and searching for patterns.
Except that I don't have a whole lot of stuff to draw any
patterns from. I've never had a serious girlfriend before - just a couple low-intensity (read:
platonic) dates in high school. That's it. I was practically a flunkout, after all; what sane girl would
jinx herself by falling for a loser?
Hm. Now that I think about it, the only 'serious'
male-female relationship I've been exposed to for a prolonged time is...
Mom and Dad, really.
I've read somewhere that people have a tendency - often
completely unconscious - to model their relationships on what they see in their family. In my case,
that would pretty much be my parents. I don't have any siblings, not that I know of. I'm almost
sure I do have uncles, aunts, cousins, and grandparents out there, but I've hardly ever seen any of
them, even before Mom and Dad were divorced.
Ten years ago.
I was only ten years old...
You'd think that I would find it difficult to remember. And
if anyone had asked me about it before, I probably would've shrugged and said I could hardly
remember. But after what I've been through...
...some things are clearer, now. Including my memories. I
think I deliberately buried them deep in my head, because I didn't want to deal with them.
Now, though, I remember.
I remember how Mom and Dad used to argue.
Usually late at night, when they thought I was asleep. I
could hear, though. Sometimes I'd lie awake in bed, hearing their yells, and trying not to see their
shadows through the thin paper screen.
He never physically hurt my mother. Not that I know of.
He's native-born Japanese, and he's fairly old. Sixty-two.
He was in his early forties when he got married. The point here being that Dad's pretty much from
an older generation, and he's always been very traditional.
He wanted to marry a traditional wife.
He wanted someone who would cook for him, three meals
a day. Who would keep our home immaculate at all times, who would run the household
economics with exacting precision, who would never stay out past dark, who would always carry
herself with the dignity of a noblewoman, who would center her entire purpose around being a
wife and mother.
She was - she is Japanese-American. Born and raised in
America. She originally met Dad when she was studying abroad in Japan, as an exchange student.
During the second semester of her high school senior year.
She was only eighteen.
It's strange. This is the first time I've seriously considered
the implications of that. It's something I never wanted to think about before, I guess. Even though
it affected her, and me, in ways I'm only beginning to understand.
Mom must have really alienated her family, when she
decided to stay in Japan and get married to a man over twice her age. Or perhaps, she was already
estranged from them. Perhaps part of her motive to marry Dad was just being a rebellious
I know that Mom graduated from high school, because she
used to hang her diploma on the wall, and Dad didn't like it; that was one of the many things they
fought about. Anyway, once Mom's semester abroad was over, maybe she married Dad partly as a
way to keep a whole ocean between herself and the overprotective parents who stifled her.
This is half interpretation, because I really don't know
much about my maternal grandparents. Never even met them. But I do remember Mom
instructing me to write only 'happy thoughts' in letters and Christmas cards we sent back to
America, because her parents were easily upset.
I could have been part of the reason why Mom got
I'm not sure. Perhaps after all this is over, I should look up
the date of my parents' wedding. To check whether it's less than nine months before my own
This may not be giving the right impression. I know Dad
loved Mom. It hurt him so much when she left, like part of him totally closed down; that's how I
know he loved her. And I'm sure Mom loved Dad, or at least, she believed she did. It's just that
there probably were a mess of problems pushing her to get married too early.
And to the wrong person.
It sounds so heartless when I say that, but I think it's
Dad wanted a traditional wife. And Mom...
I haven't seen her in ten years, so it's harder for me to guess
what she wanted. However, I think - I'm pretty sure - that Mom wanted to believe she could be
the perfect, traditional wife. That she could learn to cook, clean, entertain guests, take care of
Dad and me, love her husband and love her son, and just blend into a completely fulfilled life,
nurturing a happy home in the nation of her ancestors.
If that really is what Mom believed, then she was
I'm sure there are lots of women out there who are content
and completely fulfilled, in the roles of wife, mother, and domestic homemaker. But my
She tried to learn Japanese cooking, she really tried. She
was never all that good at it, though. It taxed her patience. Especially since she was expected to
do it for the whole family, three meals a day.
As for cleaning, well, Mom wasn't a lazy person. She was
sort of disorganized, though. I remember how she made what she called a 'good-faith effort' to
keep the house clean. I also remember how Dad would look over his bookshelf, find a spot that
hadn't been dusted in months, and that would be the start of another all-night argument.
As for money... household economics...
I think I got my problems with numbers from Mom's side
of the family.
That was yet another thing Dad would argue with her
about. Traditionally, she was supposed to be responsible for the family's financial planning, and,
well, she tried. But I remember how, when she took me along for grocery shopping, she would
struggle to mentally convert sums of yen into sums of American dollars. Just so she could have a
concrete idea of how much she was spending. Keeping a total on a hand-held calculator wasn't so
easy either; she had a tendency to drop them, or accidentally push the wrong buttons. Usually, her
tallies would be inaccurate, and she wouldn't have enough money to buy all the things she had
picked out. She'd have to ask the clerk to put some items back on the shelves.
So, maybe it's not so surprising that when Mom and Dad
were living together, certain problems with unpaid bills forced us to move a couple times. Even
though Dad was earning a steady, lower-middle-class paycheck, as a small-company
Mom didn't realize her situation overnight, I think. It took
her ten, hard years to learn that she couldn't live the life she had picked out for herself.
And that's why she left. Got on a plane home to America,
and never came back.
I wonder where she is, right now. I wonder if she's doing
I'm sure I could find out, if I searched hard enough. It's
just... it's just something that never occurred to me before; she hasn't been a part of my life for so
long. I've never even received cards or letters from her.
Although, I do wonder if that was for lack of trying.
Because just a couple weeks after Mom left, Dad moved
again. I'm pretty sure he didn't leave a forwarding address. What's more, he legally changed his
family name, and mine.
Dad and I really are descended from the legendary Heishiro
Mitsurugi. I think. That's what he's told me, anyway. And I really was named after my ancestor -
my first name, that is. But our family name used to be Satou. Because we're descended from the
legendary Mitsurugi's granddaughter, or great-granddaughter, or something, and she married a
guy with some other name, and in a few more generations another daughter married someone
with some other name, and so on. So, our family name was Satou.
Until Mom left, and Dad was so devastated that... that he
wanted to break away from his old life, I guess.
I can remember it now, clearly. I remember how I was only
ten and didn't understand why Mom had gone away or where, or why she wasn't coming back. I'm
pretty sure I was in tears. Dad didn't want to talk about it, or anything else; so he just took me by
the shoulders and said, "You are Heishiro Mitsurugi now. You are the legend. Legends do not
It's very wistful to remember that, except for one thing.
Between the name change, our sudden move, and the fact that we didn't keep in touch with the
rest of our family, well... I can see how Mom might have had trouble contacting either of us.
I don't know whether Mom tried me to mail me any letters,
after she left. If she did, though, they all probably came back 'Return to Sender.'
After Mom left, Dad never remarried. He was in his fifties,
nearing retirement in a low-paying, dead-end job, and saddled with a half-grown son - not exactly
the most promising candidate for a husband. He probably didn't want to risk compromising on a
less-than-perfect wife again, believing that was what led to his failed marriage. And in case I
haven't made this clear yet, Dad is pretty hard to live with. So, I guess he just resigned
himself to being single.
But even though there wasn't a woman around to do the
housework anymore, the work still had to be done. Dad certainly couldn't afford to hire a cook, or
So, I sort of took over Mom's role. The cooking and the
cleaning, anyway; Dad resumed control of the household economics.
I like to think of myself as an okay cook, though it's not
something I'd want to do as a profession. As for the cleaning, well, I've never been great at that.
But if I couldn't keep the kitchens and bathrooms spotless, Dad would have me scrubbing them
down with a toothbrush, so I more or less taught myself the art of being a neatnick.
When I think about it, though...
Maybe I absorbed Mom's role in more ways than I fully
Or maybe, it wasn't so much absorbing Mom's role, as not
wanting to be like Dad.
He's my father - there's no way to express it any more
strongly than that - but he's so taciturn with me, sometimes. And indirect. And very, very sparing
with his approval, though my lousy grades at school didn't help. Then again, maybe I could have
gotten better grades if I hadn't been forced to spend hours cooking and cleaning each day,
but I'm getting off track.
I wonder about myself, when I look back at my memories
of Mom and Dad arguing. How Dad would verbally dress her down, and how she would threaten
to leave again and again, until she finally shocked him by doing it. Maybe, on some level so deep I
was never aware of it, something became locked in my head. Maybe I started thinking to myself,
'When I fall in love with a woman, I'm never going to drive her away like that!'
Ten years later, there's my relationship with Anna.
The one where I never stood up for myself. The one where,
when Anna was pressuring me to do things that felt wrong - such as interrogating my friends or
betraying the syndicate - I never had the spine to look her in the eye and say, 'No.'
For ten years, I saw my mom try to please my dad. For
another ten years, I tried to win his approval, and hardly got a sign of it. Right up to when he
threw me out of the house, as a characteristically indirect way of saying, 'The Mishima syndicate
is your last chance. Don't screw this up.'
Maybe I take after my mother in more ways than I've ever
thought of, before. Maybe that's part of why I threw myself into a dysfunctional relationship with
Anna. A relationship where I wanted to please her so much, wanted her approval so much, that it
blinded me to how I was being used.
Mom's relationship with Dad suffered from an imbalance of
Power. He had it, she didn't.
My relationship with Anna had the same imbalance, except
that she had all the Power.
What I think I've come to realize... is that maybe love
needs balance. Perhaps not necessarily a strict fifty-fifty balance, every second of every day; I'm
sure there's got to be room for give and take. But if there isn't balance, then there isn't respect.
And if there isn't respect...
...then love becomes destructive.
It damn near destroyed me, anyway.
I didn't tell Anna any of this, when she sought me out. I
mean, what was I going to say? 'Oh, by the way, I figured out part of why I was such a wimp
around you. It goes back to my childhood, but maybe you already guessed that? Seeing as how
you originally zeroed in on me as potential putty in your hands.'
Such an assertion might have a certain Truth, but voicing it
would serve no good purpose. Especially not hours before the upcoming battle.
Besides, I... don't want to hurt Anna like that.
I still have feelings for her. Some.
I'm not sorry I loved her.
It's strange. After she broke my heart, after the nightmare I
went through because of the fallout, after she almost killed me... I should wish I'd never
met her, shouldn't I? And if I had to do it all over again, knowing what I do now, I think I'd make
But I'm not sorry I loved her.
Make what you will of that.
So, when Anna found me, I was able to settle things with
her. She appeared genuinely worried, because I had fainted on the Temple steps yesterday. She
needed some reassurance that I wasn't going to drop dead anytime soon. It's kind of touching, I
Then, Anna and I were called to a 'private meeting,' i.e. a
war council. My spirits began to sink the moment I heard the names of the people summoning
Detective Lei Wulong.
This could not be good.
Taki deserted the Temple, yesterday. By the time I learned
she'd been brought here, she had already left. Otherwise, I would have asked to see her.
I'm told she tried to kill herself, and almost succeeded. I'm
glad Doctor Boskonovitch was able to save her. She may not be the kindest person in the world,
but she was my teacher, and she taught me more than I think she herself knows.
In any case, no one told me where Taki had gone, or why
she was back now. I had a good guess, though. My guess was that Taki had decided to fight the
Mishima syndicate. That she tried to rescue the young master and Julia Chang.
And my guess was, Taki had failed.
I mean, if she had succeeded, then the good news would
have spread through the Temple. Right? Taiyou and Tsuki would have informed Anna and me,
when they delivered our summons. So, Taki was most likely a harbinger of bad news.
Then, there's Lee Chaolan.
As far as I know, he really is Lee Chaolan. Kazuya
Mishima's foster brother. The infamous war criminal of the Great Invasion. His first name -
'Chaolan' - has come to mean 'traitor.' Because Chaolan betrayed the human race to serve Devil
Kazuya, and then betrayed Kazuya in a last-ditch attempt to redeem himself.
I guess that last-ditch attempt worked.
Lee Chaolan, dead these twenty years, is an angel now. It
sounds unbelievable, I know, but I've seen it with my own eyes. He helped me break free from the
curse of Hwoarang's blood. He carried me to Kagura's Temple, flying across Tokyo on angel
I'm kind of sorry that I kept my eyes closed for the trip. It's
not every day you soar with an angel, and live to tell about it.
There's something about Lee, though. Something
foreboding. He's not, literally speaking, alive; he possesses Bryan Fury's body to interact with our
I don't think it's always a good thing, to see an angel. Is it?
I'm not really versed on what all the assorted religions say about the matter. I guess seeing an
angel can be a good thing, maybe. Or, it can mean that either you or someone you love is at
And then, there's Detective Lei Wulong.
Just the fact that he's Super Police was a bad omen.
Think about it. If any kind of police officer has to talk with
you, let alone Super Police, then what does it mean? What does it really mean?
I'll tell you what it usually means. At best, it means that
something horrible has happened to someone you know. At worst, it means that something
horrible is happening to you.
By the way, I'd heard that Lei Wulong is the young
master's stepfather. And that Wulong is in charge of the operation to rescue the young master and
Julia Chang. I'd also heard rumors that Wulong is a demon, but I resolved not to judge him like I'd
mistakenly judged his stepson.
Whatever else he is, though, Wulong is a detective and a
father. As such, I could think of only one reason why he had to personally interrogate Anna and
me. Because he had to know everything we knew, about something only we would know
When Anna and I reached the private meeting hall, three
people were seated and waiting for us. The center one was Detective Lei Wulong.
Did I mention that this was the first time I'd met him? Oh,
I'd watched a couple of his movies before, so I did recognize him. Even though he was deathly
sick from liver cancer. His body was wasted, and his skin was pale. He rested in a wheelchair,
with a tube running under his nose to help him breathe.
There was something else I noticed about him,
immediately. It was the way he dressed.
It wasn't anything remarkable in and of itself. Just a loose,
azure top, with a white inner lining on its partly rolled-up sleeves, a black sash, black slacks, and
flat-soled slip-on shoes. Common enough day clothes in ancient China, at least according to the
However, I'd also seen this outfit in another movie. A
movie about Lei Wulong.
It was one of many feature films about the Great Invasion.
It's funny; even though Wulong starred in lots of action movies since he was hailed as a war hero,
he never agreed to do any movies about the Invasion he helped turn back. All the Great Invasion
movies ever made had other actors playing his part. I think they cast Jackie Chan as Lei Wulong,
for the one that I saw.
Anyway, in this one movie of the Great Invasion, that's
what the actor playing Wulong wore to his big final fight against Kazuya. A loose azure top with
white inner lining, a black sash, black slacks, and flat-soled slip-on shoes.
I don't think it's an accident that Detective Lei Wulong
chose to dress as he once did, twenty years ago. It's just a feeling, but I think he was preparing to
relive that titanic battle. Only this time, instead of fighting to destroy Kazuya, he would fight to
save Kazuya's son.
I introduced myself with a bow.
Then, I dared to look into the detective's eyes.
Wulong held himself steady with the calm of a seasoned
veteran, and the spirit of a leader. I don't mean the overwhelming, dictatorial authority of
Heihachi Mishima-sama; I mean a true leader. Where Mishima-sama demanded absolute
subservience, Wulong impressed me as a different kind of captain: one who works closely with his
subordinates, and who never lets the pursuit of Power interfere with the pursuit of Justice.
There was also a trace of misery in Wulong's eyes. It was
not obvious, but it was undeniably there. Heartbroken anguish for the suffering of his beloved
That was when I knew my worst suspicion was true.
"The young master is a bloodslave, isn't he?" I softly
Wulong's head fell forward, tiredly. The thought occurred
to me that he really should be bedridden; at the very least, I doubted that he could get up from his
Next to me, Anna let out an audible gasp. I can't say for
certain whether she was shocked by my inference, or Detective Lei Wulong's deteriorating
"Shut up, rookie," Taki directed. "We'll tell you what you
need to know."
Taki... my teacher...
Like me, she had also relinquished the solid black syndicate
security uniform for something more symbolic of a noble cause. She was clad in a revealing
fighting dress, but she still hid her face behind a mask, and she still hid her true feelings behind an
"Calm down, Taki," Wulong croaked. "Mitsurugi. Anna.
We'll need both of you to talk freely, about everything."
"But you'd better not waste our time with worthless shit,"
Bryan Fury growled.
I'd expected the third person in the room to be Lee
Chaolan. Of course, I knew that Lee shared control of Bryan's body, but-
"Um, is Lee here?" I tentatively asked the cyborg
"He can hear every fucking word you say," Bryan
grumbled, absently rubbing his temples. As if he had a headache.
Hm. Maybe Lee was listening inside Bryan's mind?
I wonder how that works.
I wonder how two radically different personalities can
timeshare the same body, and not drive each other insane.
"Take a seat, both of you," Wulong coughed. "We'll start
as soon as the others arrive, which should be any second now."
Anna and I sat in two conveniently placed chairs. I noticed
that there were two additional empty chairs, waiting. Sure enough, in less than a minute two more
people came to fill those seats: Nina Williams and Goro Daimon.
What can I say about Nina Williams, former possessed
vassal of the Toshin?
She was actually wearing clothes, this time, and her hair
had turned stark white. I wonder if she remembers me. Did she recognize me from when she was
a naked Ogre-woman, and I had to fight her with little more than a paper spirit ward?
Maybe not. It's just as well; given a choice, I'd rather not be
recognized by Anna's homicidal maniac half-sister. There's a reason why Nina is called the 'Silent
Nina stiffened when she saw Anna. The professional killer
spat, "What is she doing here!?"
Goro Daimon, the gargantuan caretaker of Kagura's
Temple, fixed Nina with a warning glance. She glared back at him, but didn't make any more
protests. She just sat down, as did he.
I wouldn't have made any protests either. Daimon isn't just
huge, and muscled like grizzly bear. There's something about him; I can feel it. Strength. Fluidity.
Because of what Mishima-sama did to me, I have the
fighting skills of a 400-year-old vampyre hardwired into my blood and brain. I still wouldn't be in
any hurry to test those skills against Goro Daimon.
Just as I was thinking this, someone else limped into the
meeting room. He carried himself as if everyone should have been expecting him.
"Yabuki?" Wulong rasped, sounding puzzled.
There's not much that I know about Professor Shingo
Yabuki. I met him when I first arrived at Kagura's Temple, and asked a little about him later. I
learned that he is, technically, a professor, even though he's spent the last twenty years in a mental
institution. Other than that, the one thing I can say for certain about him is that his appearance is
He looks like a crippled beggar. He's got wooden
prosthetics replacing his left arm and leg, a black patch over his missing left eye, and he's typically
dressed in a ragged high school uniform. The first time I saw him, though, I suspected that he was
more than what he seemed.
Everyone I've met in the past month has been more than
what they seemed...
Shingo is also a lot more mobile than I'd imagine, for a
double amputee. He 'walks' by bracing his weight between his artificial left leg and a clawed cane
in his right hand, long enough for his right leg to hop a step forward.
Shingo responded to Detective Lei Wulong with, "You're
calling together everyone who might know how to save Kazama-san and Chang-san, aren't you
Wulong's eyes widened. Just a little, but I'm sure I saw it.
He straightened in his wheelchair.
He was surprised.
Not because Shingo had deduced the purpose of his war
council, I think. No, Wulong became startled at the precise moment when Shingo addressed him
I'm not sure why that would startle him, but...
"I hear you've been cured of your dementia," said the
detective. "Is it true?"
Shingo hesitated before answering.
"I know it's the year 2018," he sighed. "I know what
happened to my family and me, and I know who you really are. Aside from that, though, I don't
see how a statement of mine could prove anything. You'll just have to decide for yourself, won't
Wulong closed his eyes.
Daimon rose, stepped back, and silently gestured to the
chair he had vacated.
"Doomo arigato," Shingo murmured, sitting. Daimon
folded his arms, and watched over the meeting like a burly security guard.
I found this reassuring, in a way. Everyone else appeared
to have at least as much respect for Daimon's great strength as I did, which was a nice buffer
against any acts of random violence. After all, I was trapped in an enclosed space with a
psychopathic assassin, a former asylum inmate, a half-mutant who used to beat the tar out of me,
the Cyborg Army prototype that nearly killed me once, an invisible angel, and an alleged demon
I don't mean this as a slight, but it was harder to be around
her than any of the others.
"The war council begins now," Wulong declared, opening
his eyes. "As Yabuki said, you've been called here to pool information. If we don't all know each
other, then I'm sure we will soon.
"Now. Taki, you start. Tell everyone what you told us, in
your own words, and don't leave any details out."
Taki began talking.
It was as bad as I feared. No, worse.
Taki had indeed braved Mishima-sama's hidden retreat to
rescue the young master and Julia Chang. She had also been careful to leave behind instructions
for piercing the camouflage sorcery that cloaked Mishima-sama's secret base. Taki had wanted to
be sure Kagura's Temple had that information, just in case she didn't make it back.
During her rescue attempt, Taki saw that Mishima-sama
had made the young master into a bloodslave. He hadn't done the same to Julia Chang, though,
presumably because he needed her blood untainted. Julia was to be the 'virgin innocent' blood
sacrifice, in an occult ritual to summon the Immortal Toshin, God of War. Mishima-sama planned
to make his enslaved grandson murder Julia. Mishima-sama had also wanted to use Ling Xiaoyu
as a preparatory sacrifice; I thank the gods that Xiao-chan escaped the night before. But her
absence hadn't slowed Mishima-sama's schemes any. He'd allegedly found a replacement for
This was not even the worst part.
Taki had tried to rescue Mishima-sama's hostages. She
failed. Not on account of their guards, or Mishima-sama himself, but because the young master
had prevented her. He did break out of a bloodslave's mindless, zombie-like natural state,
The young master had failed to resist the remainder of the
curse, even though Hwoarang's death had already weakened it. And the things the young master
had said - the things he did - he laughed maniacally at Taki, taunted her, and even choked poor
Julia at one point-!
The person Taki described was not Jin Kazama, the young
master. He could not be Jin Kazama. Not the Jin Kazama I knew. Not the Jin Kazama who saved
There was another problem. Mishima-sama had forced the
young master to put a death-link inside himself. Meaning that if Mishima-sama died for any
reason, the young master would die with him. This had not stopped the young master from urging
Taki to destroy his grandfather.
"Wait a minute," Anna interrupted, worriedly. "I assume
we'll try to capture Heihachi alive, but what if we can't? What if he's killed? Is there anything we
can do to save Jin?"
Bryan looked to Wulong. "Twenty years ago, you cheated
a death-link that Kazuya Mishima put in you. Lee wants to know if you've taught your cheat to
the pretty boy."
Wulong shook his head. "I tried. My son... he's never been
that good at my Phoenix Style, or its advanced meditation techniques. Slowing your own heart
rate enough to burn out a death-link is about as advanced as meditation gets."
"What about coldsleep?" Anna questioned. "Could we
bring along a portable cryo unit for Jin, just in case?"
"Lee says you can't fool a death-link that way," Bryan
answered. "Just like you can't trick it by putting its host in stasis; a death-link can tell if something
external is trying to deceive it. We could stick old man Heihachi in cryo, though. That wouldn't
set off the pretty boy's death-link, and it would buy him time to learn Wulong's cheat. Or time to
grow old and die normally, take your pick."
"We are taking Heihachi Mishima alive," Wulong
stated, in a brook-no-argument tone. "He is not going to destroy my son. Not even with his last
breath. Bryan, is there something more you'd like to add?"
The cyborg had been rolling his eyes. He shrugged and
said, "Lee thinks there might be another way to help the pretty boy survive, if his death-link goes
boom. Maybe. But Lee doesn't want you to depend on his idea."
"What is his idea?"
"Lee doesn't want to talk about it."
"Are you all quite finished?" Taki hissed, petulantly.
They were. So, she concluded her tale by explaining how
she had kidnapped Heihachi's loyal servant Kimura, as a 'consolation prize.' Kimura was currently
in the Temple's care. They needed to awaken him as soon as possible for questioning, but first
they had to tend to his injuries. Taki had struck him a nasty head blow, not that she'd had much
choice; he almost killed her. He probably would have killed her, if she hadn't distracted him with a
taunt about Ishida, his seemingly identical cousin. The taunt had so unbalanced Kimura that he'd
dropped his own gun.
"Any more questions?" Wulong requested, when Taki's
story was complete.
One immediately sprang to mind.
"Uh, you didn't see Ishida anywhere?" I asked Taki.
She shook her head. "No. I didn't."
"But Ishida and Kimura are almost inseparable..."
"Ishida's dead," Bryan muttered, narrowing his snakelike
"YOU DON'T KNOW THAT!" I cried out, springing to
Anna and Shingo stared at me.
Taki looked away.
Nina's lips curled in a wicked sneer.
"Sit down, kid," Wulong commanded, neutrally.
"But-!" I protested.
Daimon turned his terrible, peacekeeping glare on me.
"You still don't know that Ishida's dead," I insisted to
Bryan, sinking back in my chair. "You're just guessing, aren't you?"
"Of course I am, idiot," he snorted. "I've only been a
detective for eight fucking years."
There was a short, uncomfortable silence.
Then, Wulong coughed and addressed me. "Heishiro
Mitsurugi. It's your turn, now. You're the only person we know who has resisted the curse of the
bloodslave, and lived to tell about it. We need you to start telling us."
I knew this was going to happen.
I'd tried to prepare myself for this, but I still felt sick. And
"Where should I start?" I whispered, hoarsely. This was for
the young master. They needed to know this so that they could help the young master. I had to
tell them for the young master's sake, don't think about it, don't let the fear take over, just tell
"Start with... with what it's like to be a bloodslave."
What it's like?
If you really want to know what it's like, take a sharp
object and carve out your own guts. And then give thanks, because once you're dead you will
never know what it's like.
"Everything is in red and black," I mumbled, dully. "The
whole world is in red and black, no shades, no other colors. There's a... a net hooked in your
brain. It twitches and you move. You can see and hear everything, but you can't control it. You
can't think, you can't feel. Only the net reacts..."
I'm not going to write the rest of this. Not tonight.
They questioned me about what happened when I was a
bloodslave, including everything I overheard. When I mentioned that Mishima-sama had made
Doctor Abel work on a weapon to use against Prototype Alpha of the Cyborg Army, Bryan
grilled me like a cheese sandwich, but I didn't have any details for him. So I just kept explaining
everything I did as a bloodslave, how I got my emotions back when Hwoarang ordered me to
murder Anna, and how Lee had helped me break the curse by finding my own purpose.
Anna also answered a few of their questions. I suppose
that's why they summoned her in the first place: to get her insight on the horrific ordeal. Reliving
it seemed to be almost as traumatic for her as it was for me. I had to do most of the talking,
There was only one thing I didn't tell them.
My secret fear.
The bloodslave curse is broken now, or so the Temple
healers tell me. It should stay broken forever, or so I keep telling myself. But I still have a secret
fear. Deep down inside, I'm scared out of my wits that I'll fall asleep one night, and wake up the
next morning as I was.
It didn't happen last night, though, and I have no reason to
believe that it will ever happen. So I kept my secret fear to myself, and told them everything else.
I had to avoid making eye contact with anyone, especially Anna, but I did get it all out. With only
a minimum of stammering.
One of the last questions came from Nina Williams.
"This doesn't make sense," she commented, idly. "You say
that for the curse to be irresistible, the bloodslave poison has to be consumed willingly?"
"Yeah," I confirmed, without looking up.
"Then how did the son of Devil Kazuya become a
bloodslave? Doesn't he know a poison when he tastes it?"
I wasn't aware of thinking the answer; my voice spoke of
its own accord.
"The young master is unconscious. Drained from the effort
of saving my life, and who knows what else. Mishima-sama finds him on the top floor of the
syndicate, and wakes him up. The young master doesn't feel well. He's dizzy, and very weak.
"The young master's beloved grandfather... the one person
he trusts with all his heart... offers him a liquid in a covered container. It has a mild, milky
"Mishima-sama says, 'Here. Drink this. It will make you
Wulong looked a question at me.
"I wasn't there," I clarified, shaking my head. "But I... I can
see it as clearly as if I were."
I hunched my shoulders.
Wulong gritted his teeth. It was the only visible sign of the
terrible pain he must have been feeling, inside.
Nina smiled like a cat.
I don't think she cared about the answer to her question.
The only reason she asked, I think, was to hurt us.
"Mitsurugi," Wulong coughed. "Got any insight why you
were able to break free of the curse, and my son wasn't?"
"The young master can't free himself until... until he
commits to a stronger purpose than what he has been enslaved for," I said, speaking slowly in
order to keep my stammer in check. "But Mishima-sama has enslaved him specifically to conquer
the Toshin, and conquering the Toshin is the young master's purpose. It's the one thing
he's dedicated himself to doing, ever since the Toshin murdered his mother - uh, that is right, isn't
I broke off, looking to Taki for corroboration. "At least, I
think Xiaoyu told me something like that about the young master, once..."
Taki's eyes were coldly expressionless, but Wulong said,
"The young master can't break free. His grandfather's
purpose is his purpose, and he doesn't have anything to supersede it. He's trapped. It's driving him
"That's why he was acting so crazy, when you confronted
him," I told Taki. "He knows he'll be forced to murder an innocent young woman who loves him,
but he can't stop it. That's why he urged you to destroy Mishima-sama, knowing that such a deed
would trigger his own death-link. Death is the only way out that he can see."
"You're wrong," Taki stated, flatly.
"It's a pretty theory," the half-mutant woman growled. "It
just happens to be excrement. The young master is a Devil. He has always been a Devil. It is only
now that his false 'human' persona has been stripped away."
Wulong said, "What?"
I said, "No!"
Anna looked bewildered. Nina looked smug. Bryan just
looked bored. Daimon was unreadable.
"A personality camouflage program?" Shingo mused.
"Great," Taki snorted, pessimistically. "The only one who
believes me is the nutcase."
"I've seen this sort of thing before," Shingo reflected,
ignoring Taki's aspersion. "Shermie appeared to be nothing more than a chatty, fun-loving fashion
designer, until she awakened to her true nature as a Lightning Devil-"
"This is my son you're talking about!" Wulong
snapped, gripping the armrests of his wheelchair. He lapsed into a coughing fit.
Everyone fell quiet, until the dying detective's breath
settled into a more regular rhythm.
"I've told you everything your stepson said and did," Taki
charged. "I can't help it if you refuse to believe. Jin Kazama is a Devil, and he could break free of
the bloodslave curse at any time. He chooses not to do so now, because he is playing both sides
against the middle. Us against Heihachi; may the strongest win. He doesn't care who suffers or
dies, whether it's his girlfriend, his grandfather, or any of us. As long as he gets the most Powerful
allies to use against the Toshin. As long as it is destroyed before it can threaten his own life.
That's all he cares about."
"You're the one who's wrong, and I'll prove it!" I retorted,
before Wulong could hurt himself with another outburst. "If the young master really does care for
nothing but his own life, then why did he encourage you to kill Mishima-sama, and trigger his
"Maybe he didn't put a real death-link inside himself."
"No. As long as the curse is in effect, he has to strictly
obey Mishima-sama's commands."
"Then maybe he isn't capable of casting a real
Bryan cleared his throat.
"Lee wants to point out," he said, still appearing rather
bored, "that the basic death-link is a simple spell. The reason why it's rarely used isn't that it's hard
to do. The reason is that a death-link ties up a massive chunk of its caster's Power until it's
triggered, or until the victim dies of other causes. Since pretty boy Kazama has Power to spare,
Lee thinks we can all assume that his death-link is the real thing."
"See?" I insisted, doggedly.
"Lee also wants to point out," Bryan monotonously added,
"that pretty boy Kazama can't be a Devil, or half-Devil, or whatever. Everyone knows that his
mother was human. What you don't seem to get is that his biological father, Kazuya Mishima, was
human too. Kazuya was not a Devil. Kazuya was possessed by a Devil. Lee wants to make sure
you all realize the difference."
Taki did not look convinced.
"All right," I challenged of her. "If you're so sure that the
young master is sane, then tell us this. When he laughed at you, did he sound like he was
"No," she huffed. "But that proves nothing."
"I know my own son," Wulong stressed. "I've been in his
mind. I've seen his soul."
"That doesn't prove anything, either," Taki denounced.
Wulong didn't act as though he heard her.
Instead, the detective looked back to me. "Like I said
before, Mitsurugi, you're the only person who's broken free of the bloodslave curse. If you have
any ideas how to help my son do the same, we want to hear them now."
I really didn't know what to say.
It was Anna who spoke for me.
"Is Jin in love with Julia Chang?" she asked.
I saw several perplexed expressions, in response to her
apparent non sequitur.
"Looked that way to me," Wulong acknowledged, with a
"And me," Shingo added.
Bryan muttered, "Too bad he never loved his sweet little
'virgin innocent' enough to get her in the sack - ahh!" He pressed his hand over his forehead,
warding off a renewed headache.
"I don't know the young master very well," I stated. "But
Xiaoyu has been his telepathic reagent, and she's speculated that he has, uh, 'fallen for' Julia."
"Well," Anna continued, "Heishiro, you were just saying
that Jin needs to find a purpose in order to break free. A purpose more important than revenge on
the Toshin. I can think of only one such dedication. Love. If he truly loves Julia, more than he
hates the Toshin..."
Anna shrank from the skeptical looks of Bryan, Taki, and
especially Nina. "It was just an idea."
"No, you're right," I concurred. "That's the only way the
young master can break the curse. When he realizes that he loves Julia more than he hates the
Toshin, he can resist Mishima-sama's command to murder her, and take his free will back."
"Then why hasn't he already?" Taki countered.
"Because he hasn't had the choice forced on him yet.
Mishima-sama hasn't given the command to murder Julia. It won't be until the young master hears
the command that he'll have to confront his feelings, once and for all."
"What are you saying?" Wulong requested. "Are you
saying we should let Heihachi go ahead with his blood sacrifice ritual, and expect it to make my
son free himself from the curse?"
Something changed in me, when I answered him. I couldn't
have said what it was at the time, but the fear left me, and my tone became more confident.
"It's our best bet. If we launch an attack before the young
master has a chance to break free, then Mishima-sama can use the young master's Power against
us. Our odds of success will be much higher if the young master reclaims his free will first."
"What if you're wrong?" Taki insisted, darkly. "What if he
doesn't break free during the sacrifice, because he is a Devil? Are you prepared to let his
"Never," I returned, matching her darkness and raising her
a starless night. "That's why we'll hedge our bets. We'll have a sniper infiltrate the ritual, with help
from your concealment magic. If the young master can't break free for any reason, the sniper will
shoot him before he can murder Julia."
"What?" Wulong gasped.
"Not fatally," I explained. "Just to take out both the young
master's hands. That will cripple his ability to wield sorcery against us, as we attack
Mishima-sama. The young master can always heal himself later."
"My son knows the sorcery to reflect bullets. I taught it to
"Normal bullets? Maybe. But we have the resources of
Chizuru Kagura's Temple to help us. They must be able to enchant bullets with the proper
I directed that inquiry to Shingo Yabuki and Goro Daimon.
Daimon gave a single nod. Shingo cupped his chin in his hand and said, "It should be within our
Power. Kazama-san is young, and he isn't a necromancer; he hasn't enslaved any souls to magnify
his own strength. If we put the strongest possible blessings on our ammunition..."
"Not my ammunition," Wulong sadly denied. "I can't shoot
my own son."
"No one would expect you to," I consoled, tactfully leaving
out that he looked too sick to fire a gun anyway. "Nina Williams will be the sniper."
Wulong's eyebrows darted up with apprehension. He
probably knew that Nina had tried to murder Jin, when she was under the Toshin's control. I knew
it too, but...
...but we needed a master sniper to fall back on. It had to
be nothing less than an expert, a professional; too many lives were at stake. It had to be Nina
Williams, the Silent Assassin.
"You can't afford my fee," Nina sneered. "None of you
"Aren't you here because you want to help?" I
"I am here for my own entertainment. After you all destroy
yourselves, I'll have plenty of time to take revenge on the House Mishima. But if you insist on
making me aim a rifle at the Devil that is Jin Kazama, then don't be surprised when I blow out his
"You will do no such thing," Bryan Fury said, coldly.
He didn't sound like Lee's bored interpreter anymore. He
sounded like a Cyborg Army prototype, built to pulverize anything in its path.
"You will do exactly as we say. You will not question, you
will not argue, you will not twist the spirit of what you are told; you'll just do it. You will not
assassinate either pretty boy Kazama or old man Heihachi. And after all this is over, you will leave
the entire House Mishima alone. That means the pretty boy, his girlfriend, the grandfather he's
death-linked to, Lei Wulong, Lee Chaolan, and anybody else associated with them, including me.
You will not ply your murder trade on any of us, ever again!"
Nina summed up her contempt in a single word.
Bryan clenched his fist.
"Because you owe me."
"I do not."
"Oh yes you do, you psycho-bitch! You owe me your
soul, not that it's worth much - I don't need Lee's angel sight to get a feel for how sick you
are, on the inside. But it's still your soul, and the only reason it's your soul is because of
Nina recoiled. Like a cornered pit viper.
"Has your memory gone soft, psycho-bitch? Do you need
me to remind you, in front of everyone here, why you owe me your soul?"
"I don't understand," Anna piped up, helplessly. "Nina, did
Bryan do something for y-"
"SHUT UP!" Nina screamed.
She sprang from her chair. I swear she was about to slap
sister, hard enough to do more than just hurt. I almost jumped out of my own chair to protect
Anna, but someone even faster had already wrapped his hand around Nina's wrist.
He didn't say a single word. It was Wulong who told Nina,
"Sit down, kid," in the same, neutral tone he had previously bidden me.
Nina bared her teeth at Daimon.
Daimon's naturally narrow eyes remained unreadable.
There could be no mistaking the determination in his flexed muscles and towering frame,
Nina sat down. Daimon let go of her wrist, but kept a wary
eye on her.
Nina was breathing hard. She controlled herself with an
effort, and glared at Bryan. If looks could kill...
"You don't care about the young Devil any more than I
do," she accused.
"What I do or don't care about," Bryan returned, "is none
of your fucking business. All you need to know is that you owe me, and this is how you will pay
off the debt. Because you are the Silent Assassin, you are a professional, and once you're paid you
always keep your contract.
"Unless," the cyborg contemplated, "you're no different
from dope-fiend street punks who'll murder anyone for a fancy pair of shoes. Then you can do
whatever the fuck you want."
If looks could kill, he wouldn't just be dead. He'd be torn
into a thousand pieces.
"I do what you want. Once. That cancels the debt."
"No. You do what we want, exactly as we say, no
screw-ups and no tricks, and then you leave everyone connected to the House Mishima
the rest of your miserable life. THAT cancels the debt. I didn't get your soul back for just a few
weeks, psycho-bitch. Likewise, you don't call a truce on the House Mishima for just a few weeks.
You stay away from them forever; I don't care if you resell your soul to Satan himself!"
Anna begged, "Please, Nina. I'm sorry for what Kazuya
once did to you, but I swear, Jin isn't like his father. He's a good-"
"Will someone SHUT that woman UP!?" Nina shrieked,
and Anna hid her tears with both hands.
Nina looked Bryan straight in the eye, and said, "I accept
That was when Taiyou Kagura and Tsuki Kagura
Daimon's fourteen-year-old twin daughters just teleported
right in, without any warning. I think they startled everyone except their father, who must have
been used to this sort of thing, and Wulong, who I guess had been expecting them. Tsuki, the
twin dressed in blue with black trim, whispered something in Wulong's ear.
"I'm calling a recess," Wulong declared. "Anyone who
wants a break is welcome to take one."
Nina Williams stormed out at once.
"Nina, wait-!" Anna cried, anxiously trailing after her
Taki said to Wulong, "I've told you everything I know.
Don't call me again unless you have instructions for me," and took her leave.
Daimon asked his kids, "Is it Kimura? Has he regained
"Yes, Father," confirmed Taiyou, the twin dressed in white
with red trim.
"Then come. Both of you."
"But..." protested Tsuki.
"But-!" squeaked Taiyou.
"Your skills are greatly needed. You must help the other
sorcerers lay enchantments on the weaponry to be used."
"Yes, Father," they chimed in unison. They followed him
out, for once walking instead of teleporting.
That left Wulong, Lee/Bryan, Shingo, and me.
"Okay," Bryan snorted. "Now that we've gotten rid of the
women, we can get down to business - making Kimura talk." He smacked his fist into his open
"I don't know what you're implying, Fury-san," Shingo
cautioned, "but this Temple is holy ground. Torture of any kind is strictly forbidden here."
"So let me work on him in a ditch fifty feet away from the
Temple. I'll have him babbling in no ti- argh." Bryan cupped his hand over his forehead. I assume
his headache had come back.
"You know that would be just as unacceptable. Neither
Daimon-san nor I will allow any such abuse of human rights."
Wulong rasped, "Ishida and Kimura are Heihachi's chief
lackeys. Their security clearance is top level. If anyone knows the old man's weak spots, it's
"That does not justify-"
"We've got only a few hours before the full moon peaks
and Heihachi's ritual begins. We need Kimura's information to plan our counterstrike. We have to
break him, and we have to break him now."
"You're talking about a human being, not a piece of
wood!" I cried out.
Wulong appraised me, like a jeweler evaluating a 'diamond'
that's really just a cubic zirconium. "Back to your human self, kid?"
"Never mind. Do you know Kimura well?"
"Is there anything we can use against him? Anything old
man Heihachi could be holding over him, other than his cousin?"
"Kimura... uh, he's a pretty quiet guy. He's more likely to
open up if you talk quiet, too. He's married, and h-he dearly loves his wife Mariko, but
Mishima-sama won't let him see her until after the Iron Fist Tournament... I don't know, I really
know. Taki probably knows more about him than I do."
"Bryan and I have already debriefed her. From what she's
told us, Kimura will be tough to crack. His family has been loyal to the House Mishima for
generations. I suppose we could resort to drugging him with sodium pentothal - or does the
Temple prohibit the use of truth serum, too?" Wulong requested of Shingo.
The handicapped professor appeared very uncomfortable.
"I'm not sure. I would defer to Daimon-san's judgement."
Bryan hissed, "Shut the fuck UP!" through his teeth,
clutching at his head as if it were about to explode.
"Snake Eye?" Wulong questioned, addressing the cyborg
ex-cop. "Is Lee trying to tell us something?"
"He's not making any sense!"
"How about if we talk to him directly, eh? Then we can
interpret for ourselves."
Bryan looked insulted.
"Come on, Snake Eye," Wulong coaxed. "You promised
"I fucking know what I promised!"
All of a sudden, I had a better idea of what was going
When Bryan and I arrived at Kagura's Temple, we learned
that the Toshin no longer possessed Nina. Only, Bryan hadn't acted surprised. Maybe that was
because he was the one who dispossessed her?
It would explain why Nina owed him her soul. And maybe,
Bryan was in debt to Lei Wulong or Lee Chaolan. Maybe that was why Bryan made Nina help
them. Debts paying off debts.
Bryan... Nina... Anna... me...
Does anyone do anything for reasons other than paying off
what they owe, or fulfilling their own wants?
Anyone other than the young master, that is?
Bryan ground his teeth together, then closed his eyes and
bowed his head. When he straightened...
He still looked like Bryan Fury, the Cyborg Army
prototype. But he was different, in every other possible way. He held himself with textbook
posture, and his facial expression softened. The tension left his muscles, and a hard-to-describe
serenity settled on his bearing.
When he talked, his voice was much gentler than before.
And his eye color had changed from green to auburn, as if I needed that extra detail to know Lee
Chaolan was speaking now.
"Please, allow me a private audience with Kimura. I shall
obtain the information you need."
"What makes you think you'd be any more likely to break
him than a pair of trained detectives?" Wulong asked. His tone was reasonable; he wasn't trying to
belittle Lee, or anything like that. He was just weighing options.
"Kimura is one of mine," Lee stated.
"Huh?" Wulong grunted, echoing my thought. "Lee, this
isn't the Kimura who worked for you twenty years ago. That was this Kimura's father, who died in
the Great Invasion."
"As did Ishida's father, yes. I am aware of that."
"So, it's not like you know this Kimura at all."
"Do not be so sure."
"W-wait a minute," I stammered. "Lee..."
"Yes?" he prompted, looking at me steadily.
"Y-you're not going to hurt Kimura, are you? A-are
"Yes, I am." Lee sadly inclined his head. "I am going to
hurt him terribly."
"Are you concerned for him because he is your
I didn't want to answer that honestly, but I couldn't make
excuses to an angel.
"I'm no friend of his," I confessed, hanging my head. "I
betrayed his trust."
"Then you are also one of mine."
Lee stood up. With a glance to Lei Wulong, he said, "I do
not need to convince you of my ability to extract the Truth, do I?"
Wulong broke eye contact. After a few seconds of silence,
he croaked, "No. You don't."
"Then it is settled." Lee turned to Shingo and me. "Yabuki,
Mitsurugi, if you would be so kind. Please go to Kimura's holding cell now. Yabuki, I need you to
invoke your authority within the Temple; please dampen the holding cell lights to near-darkness,
send away the interior guards, and wait outside. Mitsurugi, I need you to be my herald. Tell
Kimura that I am coming, and stay with him until I am there. When I arrive, you may remain if
you wish; or you may depart. Just do not interfere."
"All - all right," I agreed, swallowing a lump in my
Shingo looked distrustful of Lee Chaolan. He didn't make
any objections, though. He just said, "As you wish."
Maybe he was uneasy about Lee's threat to hurt Kimura
Then again, maybe not. I didn't think that Lee intended to
physically brutalize Kimura.
I wondered about all this, as Shingo led me to Kimura's -
they called it a 'holding cell,' but it was really a prison. It was a dank, drab-looking room with no
windows, and only a single door in or out. There were four guards, two outside, and two
He was still wearing the black, formal suit that is the
Mishima syndicate security uniform. Thick cords tied him to a metal chair. His hands were bound
to the chair's back, and his legs were roped to the chair's legs.
Kimura looked drained and haggard. No broken bones, as
far as I could see, but there were bruises on his face. A thick trail of dried blood traced a line from
the corner of his mouth, down the length of his chin. He didn't have his dark shades anymore; his
dull brown eyes darted in our direction, and narrowed with loathing.
"Is this really necessary?" Shingo asked the guards,
gesturing to how Kimura was bound.
"Fought us when he woke up," said one guard.
"Damn near killed me," added the other, massaging a crick
in his neck. "Lucky we had help from the sorcerers."
"Did the sorcerers 'help' you beat him?" Shingo
"Not like that," denied the first guard. "Had to take out his
tooth with a cyanide capsule. S'why there's a little blood."
"And the bruises?"
"You hear me the first time? Bastard fought us."
"Wouldn't let the sorcerers heal him, either," shrugged the
"Is that true?" Shingo asked Kimura, kindly. "Did you
consciously resist the ministrations of our healers?"
Kimura's brow furrowed. As if he were straining his eyes,
finding it hard to focus.
"The young master's teacher-!" he whispered, almost in
complete silence. "The other I expect, but you? You were Mishima-sama's enemy all along?"
"Kimura-san... hold still. Let me ease the pain." A greenish
glow flared about Shingo's gloved right hand. He reached for Kimura's face.
The bodyguard jerked his head away. "Monsters. Traitors.
Murderers. All of you! You will suffer for this treachery. Mishima-sama will have revenge on you
all! Glory to Mishima-sama!"
Shingo let his hand drop. I guess he couldn't use sorcery to
heal someone who rejected his help.
The professor drew me to one side, and asked, "Will you
be all right, alone with him?"
"Uh, yeah, I think so. But I don't think we can untie him
yet. He is pretty dangerous; Mishima-sama wouldn't have made him a high-ranking bodyguard if
Shingo nodded, reluctantly. He gave the orders to clear out
the inner guards and dim the lights. Then he left, too. It was just Kimura and me, in near-total
"Lee Chaolan is coming to see you," I told the
I'm not sure what reaction I expected, from him. Scorn,
maybe. Mocking derision. Or else more hatred. What I got was different.
Kimura stiffened. His eyes widened a little as he exhaled,
"Lee Chaolan is dead."
Kimura turned his face away.
The thought came to me that, maybe, I sounded like I was
threatening to kill him. "No, really. Lee Chaolan is dead, but he's come back to save the young
Wait a minute.
"Do you know Lee, somehow?" I queried. "Have you met
"Chaolan suffered the punishment of all traitors," the
bodyguard breathed. "As will you. There is a special Hell reserved for you, who spurned
I couldn't tell if Kimura was serious, or trying to provoke
me into hurting him. Maybe both?
"Do you - do you know what that 'redemption' was!?" I
sputtered. "Do you know what Mishima-sama did to me?"
"Did you believe," the bodyguard coldly returned, "that
you were doing my cousin and me a favor, when you forced Mishima-sama to deny us the same
mercy he gave you?"
I had Mishima-sama promise never to make Ishida or
Kimura into bloodslaves - and that was denying them 'mercy'?
"A favor?" I repeated. "I saved your souls."
"You saved no one's soul!"
The vehemence with which he hissed that...
The hatred... the pain... the grief...
"Is Ishida really dead?" I asked, with trepidation. "Did
Mishima-sama execute him?"
Kimura bowed his head, squeezed his eyes shut, and tightly
clenched his teeth.
"Are you - are you going to let his murder go unavenged? I
know how close you were to your cousin, Kimura. He was always there for you, wasn't he? You
"You saved no one's soul," Kimura repeated, resignedly.
"Not his, and not mine. Put me through whatever tortures you will, and send me to damnation
when you are done. Glory to Mishima-sama."
I had no response for that. There was nothing I could do
but wait in silence, until I heard a click sound from the latch of the prison door.
A crease of light spilled on Kimura, as the portal gradually
I saw Lee Chaolan.
He looked different from before, during the war council.
He'd shape-shifted Bryan's body into his true self.
I will never get used to him, like that. Never.
It's more than just how he looks. More than the radiance
that glows on his heraldic garb with the sigil of a rearing unicorn. More than his white-feathered
wings, or his silver hair. It's more than his eyes of endless white fire, or his dazzling sword of
pure energy. You feel something deep within, way past what you can put into words.
You're in the presence of a divine spirit.
It's incredible. It leaves you breathless with awe. But it's
also excruciating; it makes you shrink inside. Because the holy light of his sword penetrates you,
shining on the darkest corners of your soul. It forces you to be painfully aware of all your selfish
flaws and failings.
I couldn't say anything, in the presence of the angel. The
prison door closed without a sound, leaving Lee Chaolan the main source of light within the
Kimura raised his head. The surprise he had evidenced in
response to Lee's name came flooding back, many times stronger.
"No..." he mouthed, in silence.
*Masahiro,* called the angel.
*Masahiro, do you remember me?*
I might have been confused, except that Lee said it in his
angel voice - the true voice that delivers its message to the depths of your being. Translating an
angel's voice into words on paper doesn't do it justice. It doesn't explain how I knew, just knew in
my head, that 'Masahiro' really was Kimura's name.
His first name, I realized.
I'd never heard it before.
*I remember you,* the angel continued,
approaching Kimura until he was directly across from the tied-up bodyguard. *You and
Kimura looked like he wanted to close his eyes, and
couldn't. "No... nn-no, this can't..."
The angel lightly touched Kimura's shoulder with the white
fire sword. All the ropes binding Kimura to the chair fell away, but he couldn't get up. He couldn't
do anything except stare, petrified.
The white fire sword faded from Lee's hand.
*How old were you, Masahiro?* asked
the angel, compassionately. *Five? Six?*
"This can't be real," the bodyguard mouthed. "This... this
*Mantarou was so frightened. Stricken, shaken,
and crying. You were frightened too, weren't you? But you did not cry. You just stayed
*You had to sleep. The children of Kazuya
Mishima's loyal retainers all had to sleep, to safeguard their lives and souls from the coming
Invasion. But I dared not sedate Mantarou and you, before taking you to the coldsleep machines.
Your bodies were too small; the sleeping drug could fatally poison you. I had to coax you into
your icy capsules.
*Mantarou was crying for his father. He knew he
would never see his father again, I think. You also knew that you would never see your father
again, didn't you? I am sorry for that. I am so sorry.
*You did not cry, but Mantarou was crying, and I
could see how afraid you were. I tried to comfort you, with one of Jun-chan's favorite
Lee started to sing.
His music was haunting, and wordless. I felt a pang,
listening to his celestial voice resurrect it from the grave of lost regrets.
The angel's song ended on a fading echo.
*Now, Masahiro... do you remember
Kimura closed his eyes.
"I thought you were a dream," he whispered. "He said you
were real, that it really happened, but you... y-you and Devil Kazuya were both monsters, traitors
to Mishima-sama, it had to be a dream... it had to be only a dream, nn-no matter what he
*Mantarou? Does he remember me,
Kimura's hands started to tremble. He shuddered.
*Masahiro, where is your cousin? Where is
*Is he hurt? Does he need our
"You can't help him," Kimura mouthed. "No one can."
The angel's wings unfurled, as he bent to one knee. His
hand tenderly brushed the side of Kimura's head. Lee's serene face was on level with Kimura's,
and the white fire in the angel's eyes ebbed from empathy. *You are in pain, because of
what has happened to Mantarou.*
"I'm nothing without him." It almost wasn't words. The
thickness in Kimura's throat was too great. His hands shook so much that he had to clasp them
together, to stifle the tremors. I saw that his right hand was shaking a little more than his left.
*Mantarou would disagree with that, I
"He disagreed with me on everything..."
Something crumbled in Kimura. He whispered rapidly,
desperately, as if he were afraid he couldn't get it all out before his voice died forever.
"He never listened to me. Why wouldn't he listen to me? I
told him to be quiet, if I told him once I told him a hundred thousand times, don't argue, don't
judge, don't ever talk back, just be quiet and do your duty. He didn't understand, he never
understood, he never listened to me, I tried to warn him and he never listened to me...
"I shouldn't have listened to him... I-I never should have
listened to him... I nn-never should have let him say..."
Kimura's strength was running out. His breath came in
slow, miserable gasps.
*What did he say?* questioned the
"He... h-he told Mishima-sama that the child's escape was
his fault... th-that he stopped me from doing my duty, forced me to let her go... th-that's not what
happened. I d-deserted my post with him, b-because I was trying to make him see reason...
"We are only servants. We were born to serve
Mishima-sama; it is not our place to question him! If he gives us an order, we carry it out! E-even
if there is
a child involved... wh-why couldn't he see that...?"
*A child,* the angel solemnly repeated.
"H-he lied to Mishima-sama. Said it was all his fault, and
that's not true, th-that's not what happened... a-and he said to me... h-he said one of us had to go
on... h-he said...
"A-all I ever wanted was to see her again. He knew. H-he
knew the one thing to tell me that would... th-that would..."
Kimura heaved as if he were violently ill.
He crumpled and gasped, falling forward. Lee braced him
with both hands. The angel spread his radiant wings to ward away the darkness.
*That would what?*
"Mishima-sama needed a sacrifice... to replace the child...
the blood and soul of a warrior...
"He said... h-he said he would kill us both... I should have
accepted that. I shouldn't have let Mantarou lie for me... I sh-shouldn't have listened to him... I
Kimura stared in horror, at his shaking hands.
Lee took the bodyguard's right hand, the one that was
trembling a little more out of control. The angel gently spread out Kimura's fingers, and looked at
them. The soft light of Lee's presence revealed something that I had failed to notice before.
A small, dusky reddish crease, on the tip of Kimura's index
The last of his composure disintegrated.
He sobbed in silence, tears of grief and self-loathing, and
collapsed like a mortally wounded animal. Lee caught him as he fell out of the chair, and circled
him with shining white angel wings.
"Kill me," the bodyguard mouthed. "Please..."
*That is not what Mantarou would
want,* Lee soothed, cradling Kimura as if he were the terrified little boy from twenty
years ago. *We need to set him free. We need your help to set his soul
"Mishima-sama should have killed me... h-he should have
destroyed us both..."
*Your master is very sick. He has a sickness of
the spirit; it drives him to do terrible things. Delusions plague him. He believes he can control the
Toshin, but it cannot be controlled. If we let him complete the ritual that began with Mantarou's
death, he will destroy himself, and perhaps the whole world as well.
*Please, Masahiro. Help us save your master.
Help us save Mantarou's soul.
I couldn't watch anymore.
I had to get out of there. Absolutely had to. It was all I
could do to stumble away without calling any attention to myself.
As soon as I was on the other side of the prison door, I fell
on my knees. Sick. Retching without throwing anything up. Trying to repress the flashbacks.
It's not happening all over again, I told myself. The world is
not in red and black. I'm in control. I know where I am going.
I know where I am going.
I know where...
...how did I get here?
As I staggered into the war council room, I nearly
collapsed in a pile, but held myself steady. Detective Lei Wulong was there, as was Shingo
Yabuki. They appeared to be in an intense discussion.
"-hasn't even told you what he is, has he?" Shingo
"Sure he has. A Guardian of the Grey Kingdom. He doesn't
like being called an angel," Wulong responded, calmly.
"And that's all he told you? All he ever told any of
"His war crimes are a matter of public record."
"This is not directly about his mortal life, though
mass-murder does make for a poor character reference. This is about how you take his allegiance
"Yabuki, what's with the sudden attitude problem? Have
you got something personal against Lee?"
"Not in the sense that you intend. Lee-san and I are of
opposite alignments. I did not realize it at first, in part because he hasn't told anyone. I had to
figure it out for myself."
"Wait, wait. You and Lee are what?"
"Opposite alignments, Lei-san. Contrary aspects shape our
respective Powers. As a lifelong follower of Kusanagi-sama, mine is the aspect of Loyalty."
"I see we're back to your best-friend-turned-god
"Kyo Kusanagi-sama is not a product of my dementia,
Lei-san. He is real. He is the god of courageous fighting souls. Yuki-sama is his beloved, the
of those who love courageous fighting souls."
"Uh-huh. And what's the rest supposed to mean? Are you
saying we can't trust Lee?"
"That depends on your definition of 'trust.' I fear that your
definition is too generous."
"Do you have any doubt that Lee will do what he said he
"Oh, no. No doubt at all." Shingo shook his head. "If
anything can subvert the Loyalty of the House Mishima's most steadfast retainer, it is that
"Yabuki, that is not a bad thing. That is what we want,
"I realize it is necessary, Lei-san. What bothers me is that
you don't seem to understand the true nature of the cosmic forces you are casually enlisting-"
"Then let's not stay in the dark, eh?" Wulong cut off,
noticing me. "Let's find out about what I don't understand. Mitsurugi, why don't you fill us both in
on how Lee ran his interview with Kimura?"
I shuddered, and had to swallow before I could speak.
"Eh, kid? Could you speak up or come closer?"
I obliged, limping to a chair that was near them. "Wh-when
Xiaoyu escaped, Mishima-sama used Ishida as the replacement sacrifice. But he didn't kill Ishida
himself. H-he made Kimura murder his own cousin... threatened to kill them both of them if
I had to breathe deeply to stay calm, as I sank into the
"Figures," Wulong grunted. "Blood sacrifice is always
more Powerful if someone the victim loves is involved. Hell, the 'inseparable' cousins were
probably Heihachi's first choice, before he happened across Xiaoyu. Their failure to guard her was
just an excuse to fall back on his original plan."
I stared at Wulong in horror.
It wasn't only his deduction. It was the dry, casual way in
which he observed it. Discussing premeditated murder as if it were a perfectly rational idea.
"You really are a demon!" I exclaimed, clenching both fists
at my sides.
Wulong chuckled. It was a low sound, ending in a
"And you really are human, for now," he wheezed, wryly.
"I know it's hard on you, kid, but we'll need the vampyre back soon. At least for a little while. Can
you do that for us?"
"Take it easy, Mitsurugi-san," Shingo cautioned, with a
sharp glance to Wulong. "You don't have to do what he says."
"Wait, I don't understand what you're talking about-"
"Now, now," Wulong cajoled. "I know you're smarter than
"I'm familiar with your psyche profile," the detective
continued. "You're just an ordinary kid, who took a job with Heihachi's syndicate in hope of
getting into college. You're not a strategist of any kind. And you hate guns with a passion, don't
you? Can't stand holding one, or even the sight of one. Yet you were awfully quick to pounce on
the idea of using a sniper.
"It reminded me of something.
"Half a dozen years ago, my men in Hong Kong had this
problem with a nasty new gang, stirring up a turf war. Their leader was a smart one. His only
weakness was that the rest of his gang were a lot dumber than he was. We finally shut 'em down,
but it was a close match, and the leader just barely escaped. He got away because he had a sniper
in waiting. Damn targeting scope rifle shot out both my hands.
"The leader was a young Korean punk, with a rep for being
hard to kill. His street name was 'Hwoarang.'"
Wulong had to pause for a protracted coughing fit.
"Uh..." I mumbled, eyeing him. "Your hands don't have any
"Demon healing." His eyes briefly glittered blood-red, with
a malicious twinkle.
"What Lei-san means," Shingo patiently explained, "is that
we know Hwoarang-san was talking for you, during part of the war council. It would appear that
you have inherited the vampyre's essence. But you must be true to yourself first; if activating that
essence brings you any discomfort-"
"Nn-no, it's not like that, I swear it's not. I-I don't have
Hwoarang's soul trapped inside me, or in my sword, or anything like that! I just have his fighting
Shingo raised an eyebrow.
"...and maybe his tactical skills," I added. "Maybe other
skills too, I don't know. B-but not his memories, or his 'essence,' or - I'd know if I did, I really do
think I'd know."
"Then you don't mind calling up Hwoarang's help?"
Wulong requested, leaning forward. "We could use a 400-year-old tactical genius."
"However, it is not required," Shingo stressed,
looking sternly at the ailing detective.
"It's all right," I acquiesced, dropping my eyes. "I'll try my
best. I promise."
"Thanks, kid," Wulong said, and for the first time a hint of
weakness - real weakness, weakness of the spirit instead of just the rasp of his dying lungs -
showed through his voice. "You have my gratitude."
"Your stepson saved my life."
"Good for him. He's lucky to have a friend like you."
I thought about telling Detective Lei Wulong the
I thought about confessing that I was never the young
master's friend. That I feared him as a Devil ever since the day I first met him. That I hated him
with unthinking prejudice, until his compassion saved me. And even then, I let the young master
fall into Mishima-sama's clutches. When I could carry only one person out of the syndicate, I
chose to rescue Bryan Fury instead.
I'm not sure if I stayed quiet because the truth would serve
no good purpose, or because an echo of Hwoarang's remorseless thought patterns warned me not
to be a damned idiot.
Lee Chaolan rejoined us then, saving me from having to
make any reply.
Thank the gods, he was no longer in his angel form. I
definitely wasn't ready to deal with that again. He was in another shape-shifted version of Bryan's
body. This time, Lee looked human. Like he used to be when he was alive, maybe. A thin,
delicate-boned Chinese man in his late twenties, with silver hair, auburn eyes, and horrendous
burn-scars on his face. He was wearing a formal tuxedo, of solid black cloth.
The color of mourning.
Lee's head slumped, wearily, as he entered the war council
room. He dragged his feet as he eased into a chair near Wulong, and across from Shingo.
"Well?" Wulong rasped.
"Your suspicions proved correct."
"Yeah, the kid already filled us in on that. And?"
"Kimura opened his thoughts to me. I have what we need
to plan our assault."
Lee looked to Shingo. "I have put Kimura in a deep sleep.
The spell will wear off in twelve hours. When it does, he should be kept on a constant suicide
watch, until he can be provided with the help he needs."
"Talk to Daimon-san. I'm sure he will grant your
There was something odd about the way Shingo responded
to Lee. Shingo was as polite as usual, except...
...except he wasn't acting quite as friendly as he had been
with me, I noticed. There was a definite reservation in his voice. And the way he held himself
spoke volumes: sitting up straighter in his chair, with his right hand curled expectantly around the
handle of his claw cane. There was a wary readiness to his attitude. He didn't look like he wanted
a fight, but-
"You okay, Lee?" Wulong inquired, interrupting my train
of thought. I guess the detective had also noticed Lee's dejected state.
The angel sighed. "Ishida, Kimura, Yamada, Satake,
Shiina... twenty years ago, I put them all to sleep in the syndicate's cryogenic vaults, promising
them a better world when the New Era dawned. Did all the children I tried to protect grow up to
be victims, or killers?"
"It's not your fault old man Heihachi picked up where Devil
Kazuya left off."
The angel still looked rather depressed.
"Uh, Lee," I humbly interjected. "Could you, um, tell
I wasn't sure what I was going to ask. Until my mouth
worked for me, and spilled a question I'd been wondering about. "What did you mean when you
told me, 'you are one of mine'?"
"He meant that you are a betrayer," Shingo stated, flatly.
"As is Kimura-san, who has the blood of his own kin on his hands. Lee Chaolan-san is the Angel
That certainly made me sit up.
Wulong lifted an eyebrow.
Lee raised his head. There was antagonism in his auburn
eyes. "If you are going to tell them that..."
"You should have been the one to tell them."
"I am not your enemy."
"Of course not. It is not your enemies to whom you are the
most dangerous. Your first name has come to mean 'traitor' for a reason, has it not? It is the
reflection of your Word. Treachery is your core aspect; as you are Word-bound to it, so is it
Word-bound to you."
"I did not choose my Word."
"That could be debated."
"It was assigned to me."
"Because it was appropriate to your soul. The most crucial
moments of your mortal life were your acts of treachery, and so you are the Angel of
"I am not an angel, as well you know. I am a
Guardian of the Grey Kingdom."
"Word-bound to Treachery."
"At least have the grace to put that in context! Yes,
Treachery is my Word. This does not mean that I endorse Treachery for its own sake. It means
that among mortal souls, I am particularly close to the souls of betrayers - whether they are
servants of Darkness questioning their allegiance to an evil code, or fallen servants of Light
striving to redeem themselves."
"Such as Fury-san, the ex-detective who is your mortal
vessel? You are 'particularly close' to him because he betrayed his duty as a police officer, are you
"Do you realize that Bryan can hear you?"
"You should have told him what you were. And you should
have told the others, too."
"It did not occur to me."
"Not even to warn them? If you are not careful to balance
your Word of Treachery with your secondary commitment to Honor, your Power will escalate
into corruption and betrayal."
"And if you are not careful to balance your aspect
of Loyalty with your secondary commitment to Tolerance, your worship of Kyo Kusanagi will
escalate into fanaticism and madness. I believe you have spent approximately twenty years in a
"Stay cool, Shingo," the handicapped professor muttered
to himself. Looking at Lee, he insisted, "My Loyalty to Kusanagi-sama did not cause my
"I doubt that it helped. Kusanagi's reckless disdain of the
Divine Sanctions has threatened to drive me insane."
"Uh, guys?" Wulong coughed. "This is all very interesting,
"Lee-san," and now Shingo was beginning to sound upset,
"as an entity not meant to exist in this world, you really aren't one to speak of 'reckless disdain' for
the Divine Sanctions."
"I am as surprised to be here as you are to see me, and I
am not here to bring harm. Whereas Kusanagi's deliberate incursions on the Sanctions' boundaries
have threatened untold chaos to the Grey Kingdom-"
"'Untold chaos'? He is trying to reform the Grey
"Easy for you to say. You haven't had to clean up after his
messes. If he didn't have the goddess Yuki to keep him in check, who knows how much
destruction he could cause?"
"Guys?" Wulong rasped, more insistently. "You need to
save this for later-"
"Kusanagi-sama is not an agent of Destruction; he seeks to
bring change! He is the first god of Light who dares to champion the rights of demons and Devils!
Given your own family, I should think you would be more supportive-"
"A Devil destroyed my brother!"
"A rogue Devil, and I was referring to your
"Jin Kazama is NOT a Devil!"
"Oh, yes he is! I know a Devil when I see one, and you
should know it too. The longer you stay in denial, the harder it will be for you to help
Kazama-san, when the time of his Awakening is upon-"
"Will both of you SHUT UP!?" Wulong bellowed,
loud enough to shake the walls.
His cough returned. This time it was so bad his breathing
tube worked free from his face. He wrenched it off, and tossed it away in disgust.
"Uh, Wulong," Lee hesitantly addressed, "you really
shouldn't - let me get that for you-"
"I said, stay right there and shut up. Both of
Wulong coughed some more. His voice had deteriorated so
much that he had to continue in a whisper.
"We're working together. We have to stop Heihachi and
save the kids. I don't give a damn what your 'aspects' are, and I don't give a damn about your
"You will soon," Shingo dryly claimed. "If your soul is
judged unjustly because you are a demon, seek out Kusanagi-sama and tell him that I sent
"You were - cough - easier to deal with when you
were barking mad," Wulong groused. "It ends now, Yabuki. You are setting aside your
differences with Lee. No more gripes, no more bickering, and no undermining group
morale about Lee being 'Word-bound to Treachery.' If you have to denounce Lee, do it on your
own time, after the kids are rescued!
"And Lee, that goes double for you. You are setting aside
your differences with Yabuki. If you have to attack his religion, do it on your own time!
"Got that? Both of you?"
Lee nodded, and hung his head.
"Yes, Lei-san," Shingo relented.
Wulong tried to say something more, but he had too much
Attempting to be unobtrusive, I fetched his breathing tube
for him, and helped him put it back on. He still didn't look ready to talk yet, so I broke the silence
with, "We're lucky to have both of you on our side. Your combined Power will be a big
"Our combined what?" Shingo interrupted,
"I thought you assimilated Hwoarang's knowledge?" Lee
questioned. "Or is it inaccessible to you, when you're in your human frame of mind?"
"Uhh..." Since I wasn't sure myself, I decided the best way
to deal with that question would be to ignore it. "Why can't you two combine your Power?"
"We can," Shingo corrected. "It would not be a good
"Definitely not," Lee agreed. "We would have to be
extremely desperate before-"
"Do you hate each other that much?"
"That's not what we mean," Shingo denied, holding up his
right hand, palm out. "Lee-san and I are of opposite alignments, Mitsurugi-san. I am
Loyalty; he is Treachery. Our sorcery is not compatible. Our combined Power would cause an
"How big an explosion?"
Shingo looked to Lee. "Have you ever tested your Power
against an agent of Loyalty, before?"
Lee shook his head. "I make it a point to stay well away
from Kusanagi's band of zealots. Have you ever tested your Power against-"
"I've been locked up for twenty years; what do you
"Is there any way you could find out?" I requested. Or
maybe it wasn't me, maybe it was Hwoarang talking again. "We might be able to use a good
explosion, against Mishima-sama."
Lee and Shingo exchanged glances again. Both of them
narrowed their eyes.
Well, Lee narrowed his eyes. Shingo narrowed his
"Too dangerous," Lee said, evenly. "I'd hate to accidentally
destroy a Loyal disciple of Kyo Kusanagi. He's reputed to be a vengeful god."
"And I would hate to accidentally destroy an emissary of
the Grey Kingdom, no matter how Treacherous," Shingo returned, just as evenly. "It would
undermine Kusanagi-sama's crusade to bring about equal rights for all souls."
"You can't destroy me."
"Your host is mortal, or have you forgotten about
"I wish. Bryan has been urging me to hit you, ever since
you thoughtlessly disparaged him."
"Was my inference about him incorrect?"
"That is not the point-"
"Don't make me come over there," Wulong threatened, as
if to a pair of squabbling little kids.
Uh-oh, it's almost time to leave. I'll have to wrap this up
We hashed out a battle plan, taking Kimura's information
into account, along with every trick that I could think of - or that Hwoarang could think of,
depending on your point of view. We're not just going to save the young master and Julia Chang.
We're going to use Mishima-sama's blood sacrifice ritual as evidence to indict him. Detective Lei
Wulong is calling in favors from Interpol, and something known as the Outworld Investigation
Agency. They will show up and arrest Mishima-sama, after we're done. Neither organization can
fight with us, though, because of some international law thing.
I guess it's a solid enough plan, overall. There's only one
Mishima-sama's secret base is hidden by spells, and
guarded by his Tekkenshu. The good news is, Kagura's Temple will help us overcome that. The
bad news is, it will take all of the Temple's sorcerers and warriors just to keep Mishima-sama's
troops in check. Our core strike force will have just a band of fighters from the Iron Fist
Tournament, plus Goro Daimon and me. The only magic-users we can spare to back up the strike
force will be Lee, Taki, and maybe Shingo. Maybe. Wulong was still talking things over with him
when they said I could go. I walked out, asked the Temple personnel for something to write in,
and I've been penning this ever since.
Part of the reason why I wanted to start a new journal was
that I was wondering. About Hwoarang's legacy, that is. All these powerful new skills I have. I
even know some languages that I didn't before, and I think my English vocabulary is much bigger
than it used to be. I wondered if my ability to put all these languages together has changed,
From what I've written here, I'd say it hasn't.
When I look back at these pages, they're just me, as far as I
can tell. Writing wasn't one of Hwoarang's special talents, I guess. Which is actually a relief.
Okay. Got to finish up, for now.
I remember the conclusion of my old journal. I said I'd
written my last entry, and the prophecy almost fulfilled itself. I'm not going to tempt fate twice.
I'm making it clear, right now: it doesn't matter what dangers I face. It doesn't matter who I fight,
or what I have to risk.
I am coming out of this alive.
I am going to write more.
I am going to be an editor, like I always wanted.
This is my commitment. This is what I will do. After
Mishima-sama is stopped, after the young master and Julia Chang are saved, I'm going to fulfill
my dream. I'm going to take charge of my life, and make it into something I can be proud of.
And I'm... I'm also going to find my mother.
At least for a visit, anyway. A quick visit, if she doesn't
want to see me again, but I won't know until I meet her.
I wonder if it's too late to get her a Christmas present?
TRANSCRIPT: Files of Chief Detective Lei Wulong
Department of the Hong Kong Police Force
Classification Level: Omega
January 2, 2018
I don't have much time, right now. Certainly not enough to
record everything, and I wouldn't if I could. I'm superstitious about having a meticulous written
detail of my own plans, because I strongly suspect that at some point, I'll have to improvise.
We are going to catch Heihachi Mishima in the act. We're
going to stop him from murdering my son and Julia Chang, and we're going to bring him to justice
for his crimes. That's the plan. I have faith in it, and in the people who are working together to
achieve it. Even Nina Williams. She may be an assassin, but my instincts tell me that Bryan is dead
right about her. She is honor-bound to pay him back for something - I assume he had a hand in
freeing her from the Toshin, though I didn't ask - and that's what she's going to do.
There's just one thing that bothers me. After the main plan
was worked out, my voice was almost gone, so I sent Lee to present it to the others. He promised
to make sure everyone would know their parts. That was when Shingo Yabuki requested one
more private talk with me.
Yabuki has got some kind of rivalry with Lee Chaolan.
Something about being 'opposite alignments,' Loyalty versus Treachery, I don't know and I don't
care. So that once Yabuki and I were alone, I started with, "If you're going to bash Lee
"This isn't entirely about him," he placated, holding up his
one hand. "This is about your tactics. I didn't want to upset you with any more public dissention,
but there is something about your plan that I find unacceptable."
"I'm not in it."
I suppose I should have seen this coming.
"Yabuki, I have to be in the fight to save my son. For that,
I'll need one more loan of your life-force to get me up to normal strength. You won't be in any
shape to join the battle."
"The life-force you need doesn't have to come from me.
Daimon-san's daughters should be the ones to help you, since they're too young to risk their lives
in battle. I think Daimon-san will let them share their life-force with you, under close supervision,
if we ask nicely. Very nicely."
"You're still not coming."
The old Yabuki, the crazy-as-a-loon Yabuki, saw me as his
father. He always deferred to me. At most, he would have made a weak protest and given
The new Yabuki, the sane Yabuki, is a freaking pain in the
"Oh, yes I am," he forcefully insisted. "You need me."
"No, we don't, and I'll tell you why. You're missing two of
your limbs. Our fighters will have to be highly mobile, and you can't run. You'd be a liability."
"I think you are underestimating me, but that's irrelevant.
When I say that you need me, I don't mean as a fighter." He clenched his right hand, displaying
the sun-sign on his fingerless fighting glove.
"Yabuki, we've already talked this through. You can only
use your gloves for defensive and healing sorcery, right? Your god didn't bother to enchant them
with any attack spells."
"That was not Kusanagi-sama's fault, Lei-san. The Divine
Sanctions forbid gods to create weapons for mortal use."
"It doesn't matter who's at fault. The upshot is that your
sorcery is more limited than Lee's. It's also weaker than Lee's, because you've got only your
life-force to put into it, while Lee has his own essence plus Bryan's. Worst of all, your sorcery is
incompatible with Lee's. If your Power mixes with his in any way, there's no telling how big a
bang it'll cause. Right?"
"Then, if we can have only one of you shielding the core
strike force, it's going to be Lee."
"Yes, Lei-san, I understand your logic. But you still need
"As a backup, in case Lee-san forsakes you."
"Yabuki, I've had enough of this 'Angel of Treachery'
"It is not a rant, Lei-san. Lee-san has admitted that
Treachery is his Word. And it was no accident that he was originally sent after you, was it? You
are also one of his. You have betrayed someone or something dear to you."
My wife. My promise to her. When I swore I'd do
everything I could to take Kazuya alive.
Maybe... maybe only the Angel of Treachery could set me
on the road to redeeming myself, for what I did. Maybe.
It still wasn't any of Yabuki's damned business.
"For the last time Yabuki, drop it. This is almost as bad as
calling my son a Devil."
Yabuki's hard-line attitude faltered.
"Lei-san, you have very keen senses. And I noticed that
you never actually denied any of Taki-san's allegations, or mine..."
"Get to the point."
"You know that Kazama-san is a Devil, don't you?"
That would be the point, all right.
My throat went dry. Swallowing didn't help moisten it.
"He is my son," I whispered, and Yabuki didn't press for
more. He didn't have to.
"Did his mother know?"
Good question. There used to be certain things that I never
talked about, not even with my wife. This was one of them.
On the other hand, Jun's senses were at least as keen as
I don't know, I just don't know. The only answer I could
make was, "She knew I was a demon. Didn't stop her from loving me."
Yabuki nodded. "Don't worry. When your son's
Awakening comes, his friends will help him. Including Lee-san, I'm sure of it."
"So, you don't really think that Lee intends to stick a knife
in anyone's back."
"No, of course he does not 'intend' to betray us. Lei-san,
you still haven't thought about what you are dealing with."
"That's no reason to doubt our most Powerful ally. If you
can't come up with a better argument-"
"You're making him fight his own father!"
That stopped me.
Because for once, Yabuki was right. I hadn't thought about
Heihachi Mishima adopted Lee Chaolan as a child. Old
man Heihachi is the only father - the only parent - that Lee has ever known. Why the hell didn't I
take that into account?
Must be this damn terminal illness. That's the only excuse I
"Lei-san," Yabuki continued. "You had a father once,
"Yeah," I muttered. "Long time ago."
"Did you look up to him? Do you remember how much he
Well, I grew up to be a drunk like him.
I'm not so sure that was the fault of his lousy example,
though; he died when I was a kid. It was the fault of his lousy genes. I'm pretty certain I got the
'alcohol-is-poison' gene from him. I had to hit rock bottom - I was living in a sewer for months -
before I learned how to straighten out and stay sober, with help.
Lots of help.
"You've made your point," I conceded, to Yabuki. "It
won't be easy for Lee to go up against his old man."
"That is an understatement."
"You know what I mean. We need him, Yabuki. We need
his Power on our side."
"Yes, you do. But you also need me."
"It's too dangerous."
Something caught in me, when I said that.
"I won't mix my sorcery with his," Yabuki reassured.
"There should be no risk of-"
Yabuki stopped himself, and squinted at me with his one
"Lei-san, is this really about the incompatibility of our
Instead of answering, I looked away.
"It's only... for a moment there, you almost sounded
"Holding back a cough," I lied. "That's all."
"Is there another reason why you don't want me to fight for
"Nah." Another lie.
"Is it the same reason why you didn't invite me to the war
"Didn't want to risk any setbacks to your mental health."
That was a half-truth.
Yabuki lapsed into a brief silence. He took a deep breath,
and let it out.
In a calm, understanding tone, he said, "I'm not your son,
"You're not my father. That was just a delusion I projected
on you. I'm sorry."
"No need to apologize. Really." He only rescued me from
dying in a gutter, after all.
"You can't shelter me from this mission. My students' lives
are at stake. I have to protect them, as surely as you do."
What I said next wasn't the whole truth, but it was a close
"I... don't want to tell your sister that I got her little brother
killed, before she had a chance to know him again. The real him."
"That's not your problem, Lei-san. You can't afford to
worry about it. Too many other people are depending on you."
He touched my hand, compassionately. "I will leave this
world when Kusanagi-sama says it is my time. Not before, and not after. All right?"
I have to trust him on that.
I have to trust him, because we do need a defensive
sorcerer on standby, in case Lee can't fight his old man. And the defensive standby can't be Taki,
because she has no talent for shield spells.
It still bothers me, though. More than all the countless
other things I could or should be worrying about. I feel like I'm sacrificing one son to save
Here's hoping the 'vengeful' Kusanagi-sama doesn't hold it
One more thing. I expect this to be the last record I
Only two possible outcomes from here. If we succeed
against old man Heihachi, I'll want to spend the time I have left with my son, so I won't be typing
any more files.
If we lose to Heihachi...
No. I'm not coming out of this without my son.
Twenty years ago, I defeated Kazuya Mishima, but I failed
to save him. I'm not going to fail again. I'm going to save my son.
No matter what it takes. No matter what the price.
I'm going to save my son.
End of Chapter 27: Angel of Treachery