Ansatsuken, the Assassin's Fist.

The name for a form of martial arts dedicated to one single purpose: Death. A combination of the most lethal techniques from four different martial arts styles, it is the most powerful martial art known to man. Several men are known as the pinnacle of this martial art, two of which were Gouki and Gouken.

One transformed himself into what could be considered a demon, throwing himself wholeheartedly into the bloodshed aspect of the Assassin's Fist. The other, deciding that killing was not the proper intent of the martial arts, transformed the lethal techniques into those of self-defense and incapacitation. This man who had learned how to temper his energies passed his knowledge to two other men who could be considered masters themselves nowadays- Ken Masters, and the man simply known as Ryu.

For years, the two trained, learning how to harness their internal energies and focus them into their fists and feet. Within the first few months, they could leap higher, run faster, hit harder, and project their chi beyond the range of physical contact. They trained consistently, both looking for their own path through the legendary and deadly martial art.

While they were not unstoppable or immortal, they were two of the best fighters ever seen. Still, the chain of succession does have to continue sooner or later.

Ken has already taken a student, Sean. While Ryu's whereabouts are unknown, it is clear that he still treads the path of the warrior. And sooner or later, someone will show up with the intention of asking him the one question he feels he is not ready to answer… "Will you train me?"

Perhaps the time is coming sooner, rather than later.


Kanto the Slayer presents

A Street Fighter Fanfiction

Beyond Alpha


"Hyai!"

The sound of fists ramming into a heavy bag echoed through the empty building, the lights dimmed and all doors locked, save for one. It sounded like whoever was hitting the damned thing was putting everything they had into it, without restraint. The chain shook almost violently as one strike after another, followed by the odd kick here and there, rained down on the hapless training device.

One would think that this early in the morning, the school gym was closed.

"Shaaaaaa!"

Not for her.

This was Sakura Kasugano, age twenty-two, and her favorite past time was kicking some ass. It had been a good five years since she had seen him last, five years of schoolwork, graduation, summer vacation, life in general… and training. And it wasn't just any training- this was non-stop, relentless, and completely insane training. It was an obsession.

While one would usually ask why she had a thing for beating up on a training bag all day, she was of the age where she could do what she wanted to without scrutiny, so long as she got her coursework done. Math still sucked, a good run was still her favorite act of the day, and she still knew how to throw a solid left hook.

Said left hook rammed into the heavy bag, right into the imaginary short ribs of her opponent, whoever it was.

Of course, the Sakura that one would usually look at had changed. She wasn't sporting her trademark sailor skirt anymore- she wore blue sweatpants and black training shoes and a sports bra. Her figure had improved by leaps and bounds, as befitting her age, to the point that many a college-going male would turn their heads and stare. Her chestnut brown hair was longer, but since she kept it neat and tidy, did not go beyond where her neck ended and her shoulders began. But those same red sparring gloves that she had become accustomed to were still there.

They were just in a different size now.

With another shout, she executed a right roundhouse kick into the bag, then another, and another, as if chopping down some great oak. With that, she turned her back, quickly lined up, and sent that same right leg sailing home in a spinning rear kick that almost sent the bag flying off of its chain.

Breathing heavily, she slowly walked away from her "foe" and moved toward her bag, which lay a couple of feet away, next to a wall.

A few seconds later, after the bag had stopped swaying, it fell apart in half.

Sakura cringed as she heard the telltale sound of sand spilling onto the floor. "Man, not again!"

It was the third one she had trashed.

She sighed as she sat on the floor, drinking from her water bottle. "I'm betting the maintenance guys are gonna have a field day with this one, just like last time. Not to mention it's going to come out of my pay check… this really sucks."

She didn't sound too repentant, though. They were just more stumbling blocks she had to overcome.

"Working hard again, Sakura-chan?"

She looked up just in time to see the security guard, the one who had let her in here in the first place. With a smile and a scratch on the back of her neck, she said, "Yeah and you can see the results here. I'm gonna get into trouble again…"

The guard shrugged and said, "No worries. I'll clean it up for you this time. When they ask what happened to it, I'll just say it had to be replaced. I'm sure they'll have a fun time wondering when the order for that came in, but it'll keep them from finding out what went on. And don't worry- this time, you were never here."

She grinned and said, "That's another one I have on my tab, then. Thanks!"

She stood up and stretched out before saying, "How long do I have left?"

The guard checked his watch and said, "About two hours, give or take. You better hurry up and finish here, or else my story isn't going to stick."

She nodded and said, "Sure thing. You uh, might want to clear the area for this next part. I wouldn't want you getting hurt or anything."

He nodded and waved behind him as he moved back towards his office.

Sakura sighed and said, "Well, here goes nothing, I guess. I just hope I don't have to start from square one again…"

The young woman settled down, completing a few more stretches before she settled into a comfortable stance. This of course was the moment of truth. Every day, she had trained just for this, thinking it would do something. Of course, a good warm-up helped, but there was always something missing.

But never mind that.

From her fighting stance, Sakura shifted her weight to her rear leg, bringing her hands together in close proximity, right over left. With that, she took a deep breath… and focused. By now, it did not take long to prepare her attack- a sphere of energy soon formed in her hands. It was small, but it wasn't like she had anything else to work with.

Then, she made it bigger – twice the size, three times, four. The energy ball neatly fit in her hands now. And then came the hard part- making it even bigger. The idea was to make it as big as his was and still have it work. It hadn't happened yet without her flinging it more than ten feet. Now she would try again.

"HYAAAAH!"

She pushed off of her rear leg, immediately shifted all of her weight forward, and extended both palms in one swift, fluid, harmonious motion. The wave of energy blasted forward, seeming to fill the dim room with an unearthly light. How long would it last this time? Would it even work?

Her eyes widened as she saw it move for a ways, hoping that it wouldn't fizzle out.

"Come on, come on…"

It was moderately successful this time, moving several feet beyond its standard range before cancelling out entirely.

Sakura grinned.

"Hah! If that's not an improvement, I dunno what is! Just you wait… next time I see you, it's gonna be a real one, for sure!" She did a twirl for a brief moment before she sighed and said, "Now, can I do it again? That's the real question…"

So that's what she did for the next few hours, the first move that she had learned simply from watching Ryu in combat. It was known as the Hadouken, one of the three major techniques behind Ansatsuken. Supposedly a difficult move to master, it was leaned in a few weeks by the girl of age fifteen.

It was as if using chi were second nature to her. She didn't know how she did it, nor did she ask herself why it was possible. And for the past five years, she had spent most of her free time that was not spent studying in the daily ritual of making it bigger, stronger, and faster.

By the time those two hours were finished, she had worked up a good sweat, and the sun was beginning to climb over the horizon. With a yawn, she headed back towards her bag, polished off her water bottle, and dug into her bag for the towel that she had brought with her. Once she had gotten that and started drying herself off, she reached for another item that was somewhere deeper.

"Oh, hell… I left it at home again… ah! There you are!"

She fished out the picture of Ryu that she still had with her all these years.

"I wonder what you would think of me, training like this. Would you be proud? Annoyed that I was still chasing after you? Or would you still have that look on your face that just stared right through me?" She smiled and said, "Either way, it's because of you that I'm this strong now. Looking at this picture of you… it makes me wonder where you are now."

She shrugged and said, "Doesn't matter. What matters is where I have to be at the moment, which is boring-as-all-hell school. Well whatever. It won't get in the way of my training!"

She dropped the photo into her bag again, kept the towel around her shoulders, and began heading for the doors that were still unlocked. With a wave and a farewell to the security guard, she began the trek back to her dorms.

'So begins another round of useless information to cram into my head. It never ends.'

Well, she'd be done with it soon enough. After all, only two more years to go, right?


"Seriously Sakura, did you get any sleep last night?"

That was Kei Chitose, the fighter girl's best friend. And she was currently concerned about her friend's red eyes and the haggard look on her features. "Couldn't sleep," she muttered. "Too busy fighting in my sleep. Besides, it's not my fault his lectures are boring. He needs to change his teaching style."

Kei blinked and said, "You seriously fight in your sleep? Honestly, I don't know what to do with you! You haven't given all that up yet, huh? I don't know what you get out of it, but if it's going to cause you to lose sleep, it's not healthy."

Sakura yawned and said, "Sounds like something my mom would say. Are you my mom now, Kei-chan?"

She placed her hands on her hips and said, "Well I might as well be. Someone has to look after you, when you run around everywhere like you do. Now hurry up and get yourself awake, we have a lot to do today. We have some time to spare, so let's get some food in you first."

Sakura almost immediately perked up at the mention of food. "You mean it? Sweet! I hope breakfast isn't over yet!"

Kei sighed and shook her head. 'I'm not buying for you, Kasugano…'

Almost as an afterthought, entirely oblivious to what her friend was thinking, Sakura added, "And it's on me this time, Kei-chan, so don't worry!"

The young lady in question blinked for a moment. It was strange how Sakura could sometimes say what was on another person's mind without having to… wait a minute. Did she say that breakfast was on her? That sounded wrong, somehow. "Sakura, wait! How did you get the money for it?"

But no, she was running towards the cafeteria. And when Sakura ran anywhere, she ran fast. Kei sighed and made an attempt to catch up, storing the question in the back of her mind for later. She really, really hoped that her good friend hadn't gotten into any trouble recently…

But she had no time to ask, seeing as Sakura was already picking out what she wanted to eat. She could be awfully focused about food, almost as much as fighting. What that meant was that she only vaguely listened to what anyone talking to her said. It would take someone of an awful convincing nature to tear her away from her meal.

"Well, isn't this a surprise. Among the commoners, I find the only one capable of being my equal."

Sakura seemed to freeze in place at the quite familiar voice. After turning her head slowly in its direction, her skin seemed to pale. "Oh, come on… it's breakfast time! Can't this wait for at least ten minutes? I promise it'll be quick."

She was five feet, nine inches of blond hair, brown eyes, and the most irritating personality ever. That was a good way to describe Karin Kanzuki, a rich girl who was the heiress to her father's mega-corporation. Today, she wore a pair of casual light blue jeans along with a not-so-casual silk shirt, dark blue in color and with the sleeves down to her elbows. The sandals she wore complimented the outift perfectly, and the outfit complimented her figure.

In fact, it did everything it could to compliment her figure without revealing it all the way. So in short, she was dressed to attract the most attention to her person that she could.

Though she was the same age as Sakura, she was the more admired, desired, and basically the queen bee of the college. She had everything, including her own personal fighting style. Years ago at age sixteen, she had been defeated by Sakura Kasugano in one-on-one combat, after hearing about her victories in battle. Back then, she had adhered to the motto that a Kanzuki should be successful in their every endavour- that defeat meant disgrace. She wanted to prove herself against Sakura and show her style superior to that of some commoner.

She lost. Twice. For a girl like her, it damaged her pride significantly to have someone of lower breeding win against her otherwise perfect technique. So she traveled the world, seeking out her prey, looking for the chance to one-up her.

Yet when she had finally won against her rival… she had gained nothing. There were two problems with her victory- the first of which was that it was far too narrow. It was a barely-earned win, and she knew it. With that said, the second problem was that she had discovered that merely fighting to win was empty. Usually, she would degrade her opponents; taunt them even while they were down.

She didn't do that to Sakura, because it had been one of the closest battles she had ever had. The win this time would not be so narrow.

"You speak such nonsense, Sakura! It's always a good time for a fight."

And then her stomach complained in the form of a growl. One could almost see the sweat drop forming on the foreheads of the three women.

"…Right after breakfast."

For Sakura, breakfast didn't even take thirty minutes. As soon as the three of them found an empty table, she damn near inhaled her food, as if the world were going to end in the next few seconds and she needed every ounce of the good stuff before it was her time to go. Kei laughed nervously as their table caught more than a few stares, and Karin shook her head.

"Entirely devoid of manners, aren't you Kasugano?"

Kei simply took it in stride. "Don't mind her," she said almost apologetically, "She was like this when we were kids, too. I mean, if she wanted to, she could clear this whole table by herself, but she's gotten better about that. Right, Sakura?"

The young fighter stopped for a moment and said, "Yeah. Having your own budget teaches you a lot. Still, I'm a growing girl! And then there's training, and running, and all the other things I have to do that require plenty of energy."

Karin chuckled and said, "Just as long as you don't eat the plastic forks while you're at it."

Sakura glared at her self-proclaimed rival for a moment before she began digging in again. It wasn't even three minutes before she said, "Finished! That was refreshing." With that, she stretched out and said, "So, are we gonna do this or not? I have a class to get to."

Even Karin had to stare at Sakura for a moment. One minute, it was there, and the next the food had vanished. "Um… how many plates does she usually eat like that?"

Kei had the same incredulous stare. Honestly, she should not have been surprised by now, but… "She usually downs three or four of them, normally. But this one was… slower. She took her time, despite what it looks like." Raising an eyebrow, she said, "You in a good mood, Sakura?"

The fighter in question grinned and said, "Maybe I am!"

This simple response made several warning bells go off in Kanzuki's head. 'Something happened,' she deduced immediately. 'Something happened, and I'm going to find out what it is.'

But for the moment, she said nothing, calmly eating her food with her usual refined manner. The time would come when all the answers would come out, but not in the form of words. Karin took her sweet time about eating her breakfast, because there wasn't really any hurry in getting all banged up. She could challenge her at any time of the day, really.

And she would, as many times as it took, until she finally won by a margin that was big enough to call it a real victory.


"You do understand that there's no hope of you winning this time," Karin said as she stood in front of her rival with a confident posture and a smirk on her features. "I've studied all of your moves; seen all of your fights, and have corrected the errors in my own style."

Sakura simply stood there with a yawn. Was she going to talk all day? Well if that were the case, she'd take this time to do a few stretches. Meanwhile, Karin continued her soliloquy.

"If you're going to admit defeat, I suggest you do it now, so you can save yourself the embarrassment of being knocked to the ground. Then again, it would be fitting for you to be there in the first place- it certainly suits you better than standing…"

That's the point when she opened her eyes and found Sakura still stretching.

"Hey… are you even listening to me?"

Sakura looked up from a hamstring stretch and said, "Hmm? You're done?"

Okay, that always got her pissed off. "Damn you, Kasugano! I'll teach you some respect!"

She rushed towards Sakura, a calculated plan in her head even as she approached at top speed. With her low position, a good solid kick to the face was unavoidable at the moment. It would take her a while to get out of that stretch that she was in, so as long as she was fast enough, it wouldn't be a problem to score the opening hit.

Problem- she wasn't that slow. Sakura simply got out of her stretch while Karin was halfway towards the final point of impact, and slipped the subsequent kick, moving to her left. She was inside, Karin was off balance, and as the kick overextended…

"Bye!"

WHAM. Sakura's right hand landed into the solar plexus with a calculated palm strike. But it didn't end there- she was too close in for it to just stop. Even as Karin was entirely winded by the sudden attack, the follow-through was just as devastating as she was tossed back several feet. It was fortunate that she was resilient enough to not let it get her down, but unfortunate that Sakura began pressing her advantage.

"You must be joking, talking on and on like that," she said as she charged forward. "The fight began when we got outside!"

Karin grimaced and said, "I see. Then take this!"

With that, she immediately sprang up from where she was, and unleashed a series of palm strikes. Not entirely caught by surprise, Sakura knew how to deal with it. Unfortunately, the momentum that she had garnered was too much, and she had to take it. The first two impacted solidly, forcing her to grit her teeth as she stumbled backwards.

The next elbow was not a surprise, really- Karin loved using this one on her. Sakura blocked the first that was headed towards her gut, and braced her stance just as the second came in towards her chin. It came up, she slipped to the right, and was then close enough to grab on.

The sound of a knee impacting into Karin's ribs was then heard, making the crowd that was gathering wince. Once, twice, three times it hit, before Karin attempted to break the hold. Her right foot slammed down on Sakura's left, causing her to hiss in pain before she got violently tossed through the air. The Kanzuki heir prepared to follow up, storming towards Sakura's point of landing, when she saw her land on her feet in an almost catlike manner.

'Shit! No helping it now…'

She just decided to go at it the old fashioned way, with a punch straight to her face. Hopefully it'd wipe the smirk right off of it. The only bad news was that Sakura had the same idea, and the two attacks met in the middle. It hurt, they both knew it. It seemed that neither seemed to care, because the next attack was almost instantaneous.

Neither of them seemed to notice the crowd that had gathered, either.

Trading blows that were a blur to the vision of the onlookers, the two rivals attempted to beat each other senseless at extremely close range. The ribbon that Karin still wore in her hair, still colored a vibrant blue, snapped off as she ducked underneath a left hook that nearly took her head off. Sakura narrowly managed to block a spinning roundhouse kick that would have broken more than a few ribs.

Her right forearm stung for the rest of the fight.

The crowd around them, still ignored, cheered them on anyway. Sure, security would come sooner or later to break them all up, but they might as well see the spectacle while it lasted. Besides, these two were really, really good.

Said crowd let out a collective gasp as Karin managed to kick Sakura into the air before crouching low to the ground. Something was about to happen…

"Kazuki-ryu…"

The air around her seemed to explode outwards in a small pressure wave as she launched upwards towards Sakura.

"Kououken!"

The only thing Sakura could do as she saw Karin coming upwards was grin.

'Now we're talkin'!'

And then, the storm of attacks was upon her as Karin's hands sliced into Sakura like the blades of a fan. After a series of six hits, Sakura fell towards the ground unceremoniously, impacting with such force that she left a small crater in her wake.

Bruised and battered, but still standing, Karin landed on her feet and settled into stance. The crowd that surrounded them (and had grown to twice its size by now) exploded. Oh yes, this was going to be talked about for weeks.

Karin did not move. She did not cheer, she did not brag, she did not pose; the fighter simply stood still, waiting.

Soon enough, she heard it. The sound that made the crowd quiet down. It was the sound of jubilant, exhilarated laughter that came from the impact zone where Sakura had fallen from no more or less than ten feet in the air. She figured it wouldn't be that easy to put her rival down, though the people that watched her ram into the pavement with such brutal force were shocked.

Anyone else would have been knocked out cold.

"That's more like it! That's what I wanted to see!"

The dust settled, and standing in the very crater she had created, was one very conscious Sakura Kasugano. And she was grinning as if she hadn't just fallen from heaven.

"It hurt like hell, don't get me wrong… but you're serious now. You're enjoying it."

Karin smirked, but did not respond. Sakura was right, dead on. She was enjoying it. But she couldn't speak now, she was focused. She saw no one, heard no one, but the woman standing before her who had not only taken one of her signature attacks head on, but was still standing afterwards.

Sakura wiped the blood from her mouth and said, "Good. That means I can fight you for real."

And in the next instant, Karin was absolutely correct in her desire to take a fighting stance, because Sakura almost disappeared from her field of view. Karin's eyes widened as Sakura was before her in a matter of seconds. Before she could put up an ample defense, Karin got rammed into with a right punch that ended up being something more.

The fist tore its way along Karin's torso, making a singular impact for every step that Sakura took. Karin was fortunate that Sakura had absolutely no training in the real version of this attack, because she would have been long since knocked down and out by now. As it was, by the time Sakura launched herself into the air, her opponent had simply gone flying along with her.

"Shouoken!"

That didn't mean it didn't hurt.

Karin had little time to recover after Sakura had landed, because the impact with the ground had taken the wind out of her. After Sakura's surprisingly short trip through the air, she got into the familiar stance that denoted one of the signature moves of the style she so wished to emulate.

By the time Karin got right back up, Sakura was finished preparing her move. She gritted her teeth and quickly sprinted forward. She had to catch her before she let it go- otherwise she'd get hit with that annoying energy attack again, and it would hurt worse than that last move.

'Not this time. I know the weakness of that attack!'

It could only go so far before it fizzled out, couldn't it? As long as she was in close range, it could do something, but since she wasn't, it wouldn't exactly be effective. So why was she rushing in the first place? Because Karin knew that Sakura's version of the Hadouken was untrained- it was not perfect just yet.

'I won't lose to it this time. This is my chance to gain an advantage!'

But of course, Sakura did not wait for Karin to come any closer, and that was not in the scenario. She let fly with the obligatory shout, and Karin smirked in satisfaction. "A bit early there, aren't we? Too bad it's not going to…"

WHAM.

Karin gritted her teeth, her eyes wide with shock.

'There's no way… she actually extended its range?'

"Yeah," Sakura said as she pumped a fist in the air, "It worked!"

The blonde bombshell was knocked backwards for several meters by the surge of energy, and the crowd had to move out of her way before watching her land in a quite ungraceful heap. Okay, now that hurt quite a lot, actually. The world spun before her as she recovered, slowly, from what had to be the millionth time she had been hit by the Hadouken.

'She… has gotten better, even without training. If she studied under someone who knew the techniques intimately…'

Her mind could not comprehend the possibilities.

"How disgraceful," she muttered as she heard the crowd's cheers for Sakura, "I'll never catch up to her like this." She had lost again. But like last time, she didn't mind at all, really. It taught her something, just like their last match. As her vision cleared, she saw a hand extended to her.

"You okay there?" Sakura asked sheepishly. "I know it needs more work; sorry if I overdid it."

Karin chuckled and took Sakura's extended hand, just before noticing Kei's as well. "No… you didn't overdo it at all. In fact, I think you're underrating yourself. It's something very annoying about you, and you should stop doing it."

Sakura blinked, confused at her words. What did she mean? She really wasn't all that good- there were many out there that were better than she was. She didn't even have a proper teacher yet; in fact, she had never had one. This was a sad fact indeed for her, because she really wanted to know about the style she was trying to use.

Kei smiled nervously and said, "I doubt she'll ever stop doing it until she actually thinks she's learned something. Like how to pick one's fights… we're about to be late, all of us."

Sakura grimaced and said, "Yeah, well a good fight is worth some extra class work. I figure we both could use a bit of time at the infirmary, though… Kei, just let sensei know we'll be a bit occupied, okay?"

Okay, that was too much for her. The poor girl face faulted.


Mount Song, Henan Province, China.

Within the confines of the Shaolin Monastery located on this sacred mountain, a man of Japanese descent sat in lotus posture, his legs folded and hands located on his knees. Standing at five feet, eleven inches and sporting roughshod black hair and brown eyes – eyes which were currently closed – he had the build of a man who had seen much hardship.

The worn white karate gi and red headband were telltale signs of his profession.

The wind ruffled his clothing and belt, toyed with his short hair, yet the twenty-nine year old warrior did not stir. In the early, all too early morning, he was entirely still, his mind a polished mirror.

Then, he felt something tug at the edges of his consciousness, calling his awareness to the forefront. It was distant… faint still, but he felt it. His eyes opened as the vague surge of energy was registered, and for a brief moment, wondered what it might mean. Then, he stopped wondering and his brow furrowed as he realized the implications.

'It's her. But she's progressing without anyone teaching her.'

That… was bad. Such power uncontrolled was not healthy for one's body or mind, and yet she was progressing at an astounding rate. Still, she was unchecked and unrefined, and using the techniques without proper focus could lead to more than just severe injury.

Ryu calmly breathed in one last time, then exhaled slowly. It was time to leave.

With an almost serpentine grace, he uncoiled his legs and stood, his entire body relaxed, even though he had sat here motionless for hours with an empty mind. Not once did his body complain as he walked towards his travel bag, hefting it over his right shoulder. Not once did he look back as he made his way through the front gates, vanishing into the forests.

It didn't matter if he was ready for it or not; she had to learn.

'Ken has already found a student, but the kid needs someone else- someone to measure himself against. Does Sakura have someone like that?'

There was a reason that Ansatsuken trained only two students at a time- it was so they could push each other through the trials they would have to undertake. Not to mention the two would develop their own tactics and strategies to counteract their classmate. She needed to learn the proper control of her energies, or she would cause misfortune wherever she did battle.

Besides, he had promised her another match the next time they met.

But it wasn't enough. He had to give her more than just a battle. He had to teach her. It was as if the two of them were fated to meet five years ago… but the past did not matter. The only thing that mattered now was that he got to her before anyone else did.

Especially before he got there first…


Round 1: Enter the Cherry Blossom

Phew. Took me a few days, but this is the result. Once again, another Kanto creation is born! And this is in the midst of writing other things, too. I'm not sure if I want to limit this to a few chapters or not, but hey- that's up to the reaction of all those fans out there.

Truth be told, this story was born from a lack of knowing where Sakura would end up next- where she was going to be when Street Fighter Alpha ended. Thus, this story takes place around the time when Street Fighter Three ends- in other words it should take place after Third Strike. I know perfectly well that Sean is not under Ken anymore, but… does Ryu know that?

Heck, I just might have him as his student anyways, since SF3: Third Strike is the end of the Street Fighter canon. We'll just have to see, won't we?

Anyways, that's it for me, guys. Read, review, consume.