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Epilogue: Amazing Grace

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Akuma's cave...

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Akuma sighed as he finished binding his wounds, heading back into his cave and opening up a dusty cavern. He picked out a bottle of pain medication and blew the dust off of it. He hated using it, but ever since he had started losing his powers, he had needed it more and more.

He decided he truly hated being human, although there were some rather unusual benefits to it.

For one thing, he felt clearer about his future than he ever thought he would. He had always lived in the moment before, looking forward only to the next fight or the next meal. But now he found himself contemplating the world around him, contemplating what it meant to be a fighter, and how it seemed the Satsui no Hado was holding him back.

Strength in softness… he thought, Softness in strength. Such a strange duality life has… I wonder if this is what Ryu feels like, what he thinks about…

He wondered why Elena didn't kill him. Certainly she had justification. After the brutalization he had given her, anyone would want to kill him. But she didn't.

I am nothing like you.

The words haunted him. And they also reminded him of Sagat's answer when he had questioned why he had traded in his quest for vengeance for something as simple as regaining lost honor.

"In my blood thirst, I killed a man who only accidentally cost me an eye. In my arrogance, I sold my soul to the devil to gain vengeance against a boy who lost control for a moment. And in the face of a young fool who's father I butchered for paltry reasons, I saw the devil I was becoming. I simply could not abide by that corruption of what I was."

Sagat, renowned throughout the fighting world for his brutality, feeling regret. Plus, on top of that, I found out that he had faked his first defeat to Dan Hibiki, simply wanting closure with the boy. Dan had found out years later and demanded a rematch, promising never to stop until Sagat fell legitimately to his power, but still…

…Even with Dan himself, despite his burning need to avenge his father and prove Saikyo style the strongest of all, he refused to give in to the Satsui no Hado…

Elena…

Sagat…

Dan…

Ryu…

Why had he given himself over? Was he that insecure?

"Hey bastard," hissed a voice.

Akuma whirled, wincing as the fast motion made his injuries hurt. He then scowled, seeing a rifle bearing Shadowloo trooper standing at the edge of the clearing in front of his cave.

"What do you want?" he snapped.

The soldier grinned. "To finish what those goody goods couldn't. I'm gonna score so many bonus points with Balrog once I bring him your head…"

Akuma searched his memory, trying to connect a name with a face, and then actually managed to laugh. "The boxer is running Shadowloo now? That fool couldn't direct traffic!"

The woman snarled. "He's directing us fine enough! There's been some problems, mind, and we had to fake going under to get Chun Li off our backs, but we're still doin' fine!"

Akuma rolled his eyes. It wasn't the Killing Intent, but the desire to shove a Gadoken (he couldn't deny it anymore, a Gadoken was all he could manage now) through this woman's skull was growing swiftly.

The option was taken away from him by a blue-skinned fist punching through the woman's chest.

A frighteningly familiar face, once that had haunted Akuma ever since the World Warrior tournament, poked through the brush.

"Madam," Gill said, "You are dismissed."

The woman's twitching corpse froze. Gill flexed his hand, the woman's icy body shattering into a thousand pieces.

Gill stepped out into the clearing, clad only in a pair of form-fitting white trunks. His bifurcated skin glistened, flecks of snow falling from his blue half, flames flickering about his red, his golden hair floated in an unseen and unfelt wind

"You understand now," Gill said, his voice thundering like a god's, "You understand my vision now."

"Get away," Akuma stammered, "I want nothing to do with you!"

Gill grinned viciously. "When I sealed that poison you had relied upon for so long out of you, you began to gain an understanding of my dream, my vision for saving the world. You understand the duality of all things."

Akuma felt a cold fury rising up in him. "It was you… It was you ALL ALONG!"

Gill smirked. "I merely took something away. The learning you gained on your own."

Akuma briefly assessed his chances and determined that he stood even less of a chance against Gill than he stood against Elena. Still, no reason to show how aware he was of that. "GET OUT!" Akuma demanded, "YOUR 'DUALITY' NEARLY GOT ME KILLED!!"

"Nearly," Gill repeated, grinning widely, "But she didn't, did she? Because she understands as well. And I didn't even do anything to her. You took care of that for me. Thank you."

Akuma sputtered for a moment, a part of his mind realizing that Gill did have a point. "GET OUT!" he screamed after a moment, charging forward despite the pain in his side and chest, thrusting his hand forward, channeling as much ki as he could into the Gadoken he was intending to shove through Gill's chest.

Gill vanished in a flash of angelic light, laughing.

"You are mine now, Akuma. You and Elena both. You just don't know it yet."

Akuma, once his vision cleared, glared around him, seeing only the shattered icy dust that used to be a Shadowloo soldier nearby, the blue starting to melt into red. Akuma shook his head angrily, going over to the nearby stream to was his face…

…and then he screamed. Because for the briefest instant, he saw his skin had become the same as Gill's, one half blue, and one half red. He looked again, seeing his skin hadn't changed.

But in his mind, he started to wonder…