The First Crack in the Metal shows the Impurity of Design


A single Black feather.

Hwoarang studied the momento, twirling the stem of the thing between his fingers as though he expected it to disappear as frighteningly as it arrived. It had been two years since the horrific moment this gift came into his possession; two years since the King of Iron Fist Tournament had ended and the rumor of Jin Kazamas death first reached the Blood Talons ears.

Two years. Long fucking time to still be thinking about him. The Korean mused as he watched the firm feather move between his fingers. Long fucking time to blame yourself for what happened.

The Blood Talon looked over his shoulder, into the smoke filled haze of the bar. Ruffians all around him, familiar scents and sounds. He shrugged his shoulders with an inner smirk and set the black feather back into his army bag. It was good to be back in his scene.

Rising from his stool, Hwoarang set up on an empty pool table, carefully wracking the set up to give himself a chance to recall nearly abandoned skills. By now, the word of his return had gone out to the people that mattered, to the street soldiers he had left behind in hasty imprisonment with the Korean Military. The Blood Talon had no desire for the service, but it seemed his homeland had different thoughts on the matter and drafted him post haste.

Should've been me on that plane to South America takin' on Toshin, beating the shit out of that creature for killing DoSan. That rematch between Kazama and I was long overdue and now its just one more thing left undone in my life.

The Blood Talon was heavy in thought as the cue ball sent the rest scattering with a hard click. The mere thought of Jin made Hwoarangs arm unsteady. He was angry...angry that he would never have the satisfaction of beating Kazama all proper like, angry that things fell apart the way they did and that there was no one to blame but himself.

I wanted him out of my bed, yeah, but not out of my world. Hell, lets face it, I didnt even want him out of my bed. I wanted not to love him back, I wanted things to be the way they used to be, all balls to bone, blood and sweat like the back alleys of Korea that one fateful night that rich boy stepped into my life. I just wanted to beat him, for real...clear the air and clear my mind. I guess when it came to Jin Kazama, I didnt know what I really wanted. Lover or enemy, friend or rival.

Hwoarang never said it to another living soul but he swore he felt the moment Kazama Jin died. He heard the rumors of Heihachi taking a swan dive out of the temple window in South America. The Blood Talon also heard that fall did not include Jin. But somewhere in the distance when he touched down on his homeland soil, Hwoarang swore he heard a gunshot and felt a part of himself die.

Another ball sunk in the corner pocket. The table was growing more and more empty of shots. Hwoarang picked up his beer and took a heavy sip from that long neck and sighed as he leaned down to line himself up again. No matter where the Blood Talon escaped to, he swore he met himself there already. Even this bar had memories. It was two years ago he had beaten down a bunch of punks that sized him up, talking shit about seeing he and Jin cycling through the streets. That had been the day he picked Jin up from the library, took him for some good Korean cuisine and then, gave himself to the Japanese beauty in that dank run down hovel he called his "place".

Every street I walk, its like he is right here.

Hwoarang took a deep breath and narrowed his sienna eyes. "Eight ball, corner left pocket."

Jin stood stone still and reread that newspaper article over and over again. The tag line stood out, bold and impressive and though he had memorized every typed letter, his eyes kept returning to the header. Mishima Financial Empire to host King of Iron Fist Tournament 4.

Two years. Two years of fighting the nightmares, of trying to find a new life in Australia and now, this.

Taking a deep breath, Kazama Jin forced himself to fold the article up and stuff it in his pocket. He felt it happening, the rage of anger and fear pressing against his spine like a plunging, merciless dagger. It was as though Heihachi himself was reaching back across time and distance to rip Jin into the fabric of the present, to rip him away from peace and make the Devil Within rise up.

All Jin wanted was to be left alone. To continue to train in the Art of Shotokan, to forsake every last thought of the cursed blood that flowed through his veins. But even that it seemed, was not good enough.

Returning his gym bag to his shoulder, Jin drew his hood up once more, preferring to keep himself cloaked when out in public. His small apartment was not far away from the traditional Karate dojo he had been training at, had been unlearning the Mishima style art he had once pleaded to partake in. He walked through a cacophony of streets instead of taking the quick way home. Jin did not trust the agents of the Zaibatsu, fearing at all times that he was being hunted.

After an hour of different streets and alley ways, Jin turned the key in the lock and pressed his back against the door, letting his gym bag fall to the ground as his head tipped back, hood releasing from the top of his head with the motion. Every fear, every sensation, every dread Jin had harbored over the past two years was now staring him in the face.

I am never going to be free of Heihachi Mishima. I am never going to be free of this curse, this poison in my blood. And that is what you want, Oujiisan. You want me to feel this way, to feel beckoned and controlled like a dog. You want to do to me as you did to my father...

The thought was infuriating and Jin clenched his teeth, his body straightening against the door. "No. Not now...please...not now." He begged with scattered breath, eyes shutting tight and hands raising to grasp his ebony tendrils as though he could stave off the sensation, put the creature back in its cage.

Frantic eyes could see the black markings etching down his arms as the sleeves fell back and Jin pleaded again in silence to make this sensation think of returning to Yakushima to visit the memories of his mother. Thoughts of Jun could make the most painful sensations fly from him...but the demon that stirred within Jin saw only agony, pain and death.

The words came clear to his mind as Jin Kazama sank against the door, tears rushing to the rim of his eyes. The Blood would have to be cleansed, the lineage ended. In the name of honour, Heihachi Mishima could not be allowed to live.