Tekken: Kings and Queens

Stage 27

Once upon a time, there lived a great and mighty prince who had almost everything in the world he could imagine. He lived in a kingdom whose brilliance stretched as far across the land as the eye could see. He had wealth that was the envy even amongst the wealthy. And power… oh, such magnificent, wonderful power. He had the power to rule even amongst the gods, never mind kings. The only obstacle that stood in the prince's way of absolute rule was the king himself, his father, for he wielded power which rivaled even his own.

During one fateful day, when the prince was but a mere child, the king held his son over a tall and vast cliff as a sort of 'test of strength' in order to raise him into a proper heir to the throne. One thing led to another, and the prince was dropped over the cliff, plummeting to his doom. At least that would have been the case, were it not for the divine intervention of a wise man who wielded great powers. The injured little whelp was offered much from this wise and noble man: in exchange for a home of his own, the prince would not only be healed from his grievous injuries, but also be given power unfathomable even beyond that of his own father, wisdom and counsel only the wisest of men would ever dream of, and of course, vengeance… glorious vengeance against the king himself. They were fair terms, and so the prince agreed and welcomed the wise man as his adviser.

Of course, as he was but a mere child at that time, other than having his body healed from the ordeal, those gifts which had been promised did not come right away. This power that was granted needed time to develop, and the prince understood this quite well. Thus, though he managed to 'prove' his worth to the king, he still suffered much scorn and shame in his father's hands. The distinctive scar on his chest, the one he had received when he was dropped from that cliff, was a constant reminder of the harsh 'lesson' his father gave him. Day in and day out, his father taunted him, mocked him, flaunted his own strength against the mighty prince knowing full well his son was, at least for the moment, helpless against him. It did not stop the prince from plotting to dethrone the king, of course, but it was a seemingly insurmountable task given his position versus his father's…

Ah, but the prince, if nothing else, was patient (personally, 'stubborn' would be the better term, but for the sake of politeness, I will use 'patient'). A bit thick and dull on the edges, but still patient, and through the counsel of the wise adviser, he bided his time, increasing his own power until he found the right moment to strike. And strike the prince did as his power finally turned full bloom. The struggle between father and son was brutal as two mighty gods clashed over the sacred land that was the kingdom, pouring their anger and ferocity through nothing but their fists. In the end, however, the prince was victorious, his power absolute, and, in what one could call a twist of irony, he casted his father out the same way his father did so long ago… by tossing him over the side of a cliff.

It was magnificent… a glorious work of art… and I do love poetry.

The prince became king, and he ruled the kingdom with an iron fist. Nations bowed down to him, acknowledging his superiority, and the kingdom itself grew larger, prospering beyond unfathomable imagination… truly, nothing could usurp the new king from his throne, he truly had everything he wanted in the world.

Alas, it would not last, for one day, a young maiden dressed in white entered his kingdom espousing… eh… nonsensical words of… peace and – uh – justice for the trees and, ugh, the little rodents and the birds and… lakes and fishes and… well, the point is, it was all nothing but nonsense designed to pervert the young king's mind. The all noble and infinitely wise adviser knew it. The lowly, less refined servants knew it. The hideous yet somewhat useful slaves knew it. Heh, the blind, mute, filthy, uneducated, mentally challenged moron of morons knew it! The only one who didn't realize it was… heh… the young, childish king himself. Pathetic! Of course, the adviser probably should have known. After all, he was still a bit thick up there and… dull around the edges.

Anyways, the adviser took action, seeking to end this maiden's charade when an unholy force (which I suspect was a manufactured blonde with wings, though memory is a little hazy at the moment) seized the young king's heart (and by extension, the genital region), and both the king and the maiden eventually began to do some, as politely as can be put, very unholy things. Now, the unholy part the adviser did not mind. It is a natural instinct shared by all living beings since the very beginning when this filthy ball of dirt humans refer to as 'earth' was formed. Propagation, multiplication, all combined with sensual desire, it is all good! Plus… it is educational…

I digress…

The point here is this natural, instinctive urge to grind at each other's crotches would be slightly more tolerable, except for the king's unrefined taste for… for… cruel and vile little maidens such as the one he shared the bed with. Meanwhile, remember the father, the former king, that was thrown over the cliff? Apparently, stubbornness (yes, stubbornness, not patience) ran deep within the blood, for he did not die from the fall, merely injured. And of all ironies, the former king also gained a very distinctive scar on his chest, a reminder of the shame he himself had received at his son's defeat.

In hindsight, he should have been thorough, but, as I said before, I do love poetry…

Upon arriving at the kingdom, the father waged a one man war against his son. Odds were stacked against old man, for the young king had the entire kingdom at his disposal, and with that wealth, he invited warriors from around the world in a grand tournament. This, however, would not deter the father one bit. Opponent after opponent, obstacle after obstacle, the father, the former king, fought his way through the kingdom armed with nothing but his fists and determination until finally he stood face to face before his own flesh and blood. In a clash between two kings, father and son fought in a bloody match of vengeance, one seeking to regain his throne, the other to retain it. Back and forth father and son fought, neither one seemingly holding an advantage over the other. Finally, the dust settled. One man stood victorious over the other, and –

"Are we finished?" Kazuya snarled.

"Hush, boy, we are getting to the good part," the Devil replied.

In response, the former G-Corporation CEO rewarded the doppelganger with a backhand to the side of his face. "You are finished."

Devil spat blood to the ground, missing his host's feet by mere inches. "Insolent boy…" he muttered grimly. Kazuya slowly stepped away from the demon and brooded in silence. Devil snarled under his breath, but chose to remain silent, not wishing to incur any more of his host's wrath at the moment. That silence lasted for all of seven seconds. "Are you going to sit and idle like a lost pup, or will you finally tell me why you have disturbed me at this very moment?" he grunted impatiently.

Kazuya didn't bother to give an answer, or even lift a finger to his demonic duplicate. Rather he chose to ignore him and continue to brood over his thoughts. Devil, of course, did not like being ignored.

"Well?" Devil spoke through clenched teeth. Kazuya raised a trembling right hand and balled it into a fist. His knuckles popped audibly in the plane, sending quiet echoes throughout the dark landscape that is his mind. Still he ignored the seething, yet helpless creature shackled in its bondage of energy leeching tubes, proof and consequence of their bond. "Did someone cut your tongue, boy? Answer me!"

The former G-Corporation CEO gnashed his teeth and growled under his breath, though not at the purple creature rattling pathetically against his bindings. The landscape dimmed as a black haze enveloped the sky. Lashes of indigo lightning crackled against the dark clouds, striking the ground from a distance. The plane shook, causing the Devil to gasp, but Kazuya remained unmoved. Frustration was visible on his expression, hardened with lines on his scarred face.

"Alright… if you are going to ignore my question, then at least listen to what I have to say next," Devil relented. "Someone is coming."

Immediately, the sanctum vanished, and Kazuya found himself back in the wreck that was once a master bedroom. Kneeling on the ground in front of a broken mirror, he quickly jumped back to his feet and turned to the demolished door.

"I like what you did to the house," he heard a voice say.

Walking out of the bedroom and into the equally demolished living room of the house, Kazuya didn't take long to discover who the trespasser was. Incredulous, Kazuya lowered his arms to his sides, his poise domineering even when indifferent compared to the intruder. His lips curved subtly into a smirk, his mismatched eyes fixated on the bespectacled woman before him. "The old man must be mad to send someone like you," he said.

"I will be honest with you," Kalina replied, folding her arms across her chest. "I have much work to do back at the labs, and I can't be bothered to deal with work better suited for a Neanderthal."

"Yet your 'master' commands," Kazuya quipped, his voice smooth and cold.

"I knew you would find my predicament amusing." The scientist strolled towards an overturned drawer, propped herself onto its wooden surface, and crossed her smooth, supple legs. "The master commanded me to bring you back to Soleil, but you already know that. Should I give you time to change, or will you be leaving as is?"

The former G-Corporation CEO had only just realized that he was still dressed in his outfit from yesterday, which was nothing more than a pair of torn karategi pants along with feet and wrist guards. His well chiseled upper body remained bare for the woman to see. After his fight with Paul Phoenix, he never bothered to change. "Only if you wear that blue dress," he replied.

"I'm afraid I left it back at Soleil, so you would have to do with this," she said, waving her hand at her lab coat.

"Pity," he grunted. "I am curious. My impression of you is one who takes pride in her intelligence, and has a willingness to take risks many would consider insanity. If I were to merely judge this situation by outer appearance alone, you coming to me constitutes a risk." Kazuya glowered at the woman. "The vaunted intelligence, however, would seem rather questionable."

"Yes, coming here alone would be considered foolish," she acknowledged.

Kazuya gave the doctor another smirk. "The thought had already crossed my mind. However, outer appearances can be deceiving, and you do not strike me as foolish." Indigo lightning crackled faintly against his fists. "Shall he introduce himself to me, or must I pull him in myself?"

The doctor smiled back. "Truly you are a remarkable man. Your words reek of arrogance, but your eyes show much discretion. You truly live up to the Mishima name." Kalina elegantly stood on her feet, and gave the former CEO a curt bow of the head. "Very well, I shall let him introduce himself… though I believe the two of you have already met."

Before Kazuya could reply, a massive hand suddenly appeared from behind. Instinctively, Kazuya rotated his body to his right and met the hand with a raised forearm. He managed to block the strike quickly enough, but the force of the blow caused him to stumble back, surprising the former CEO. Immediately, another hand shot out, this time a fist aimed at the midsection. Kazuya sidestepped the punch and blocked the attack, avoiding most of the force this time, but still felt himself reel away. The third attack was unavoidable, connecting squarely to Kazuya's scarred chest. Kazuya fell backwards, crashing through the wall behind. The former CEO gasped, clutching his chest in pain. He was surprised to say the least. Very few men could match Kazuya in a fight; the idea of someone being able to physically overpower him, however, was virtually unheard of.

"Who dares…" he grunted. Kazuya fell silent the moment he got a better look at the second trespasser. Physically, the man was old. No, not old… ancient seemed a more appropriate description, given how loose and wrinkled his skin hung over his body. The specks of mottled flesh and the web of blood vessels made him appear like a decaying corpse than a living man. However, though ancient he may appear, he was also a dominating presence. Beneath the cracks of skin was a mass of thick muscle that made even a finely chiseled man such as Kazuya look wiry thin. Though the top of his pate was bald, from the back of his head, the ancient man allowed his hair to grow into a long, silver mane covering his back. A set of long, bushy eyebrows hung above a pair of dark, sullen eyes. Most distinctive, however, was the mass of silver facial hair around his face; a thick moustache and a pointed beard connected by a pair of giant, curved whiskers shaped into a pair of large, crescent shaped horns sprouting from his cheeks and hanging proudly above his head. Towering over Kazuya, the old man seemed less a corpse, and more a lion. More shocking, however, was the fact he should be a corpse, yet here he was, standing triumphantly over him. The living legend in the flesh…

Jinpachi Mishima.

"Grandfather…" Kazuya muttered, then glared at Kalina.

"Let me tell you, 'reviving' him was not an easy task," the scientist explained. "He was one of my earlier experiments the master had given, so do pardon any imperfections you may see. However, the master believed you may be more cooperative if it was your grandfather asking for your return, thus he was sent. I believe it to be a prudent course of action, thus my supervision."

Prudent my ***… Kazuya thought. "Pity that I am no fool, either. I know of your experiments. A mere face just because they are 'family' holds no sway over me, never mind one of your little puppets. If either you or your 'master' believed such was the case, then perhaps my judgment of your vaunted intellect has been misplaced."

Kalina let out a sigh. "I thought as much. If his face won't convince you to come back with us, perhaps his fists will." With a gesture of her head, 'Jinpachi' bolted towards the downed Kazuya.

The former G-Corporation CEO and former Iron Fist champion rolled away just as his 'grandfather' rammed his fist to the ground. Kazuya quickly hopped back to his feet just in time to avoid a powerful stomp which cracked the ground where he had laid. Kazuya then sidestepped away to avoid a glancing uppercut. Glaring at 'Jinpachi' with a blank expression, he lowered his body and made a short dash towards the ancient man.

"Doorya!" he cried out, extending his right arm and arcing upwards into a Wind God Fist.

Under normal circumstances, should his opponent recover, the move should at least push the opponent back, putting space between the two for Kazuya to decide on his next attack, if not outright launch him into the air. To his surprise, however, 'Jinpachi' recovered much faster than he anticipated, and 'slid' away from the Wind God Fist. With Kazuya vulnerable, 'Jinpachi' rushed forward and connected with a Wind God Fist of his own. Kazuya felt his body momentarily float, though not for long as a pair of strong, massive hands grabbed him by the ankles and slammed him back to the ground. The floor broke beneath both men, and 'grandfather' and grandson fell through the hole, into the confines of the basement below.

Kazuya found himself lying on his back, dazed from the impact of the fall. On the other hand, the massive ancient did not wait for his opponent to stand, and pounded his right fist onto his grandson. A column of terrible purple lightning lifted Kazuya off the ground. 'Jinpachi' then began his assault on his airborne opponent, launching into a barrage of lefts and rights, each blow feeling like the equivalent of mountains smashing into Kazuya's chest. A kick to the face followed by a shoulder charge later, Kazuya found himself pinned hard against the wall, coughing blood from his gaping mouth.

Meanwhile, Kalina waited patiently, not the least bit perturbed by the floor crumbling from the damage. "Do us all a favor and give up," she said. "It is for your own good."

Kazuya ignored the scientist and focused his attention on 'Jinpachi'. Fake or not, the old man proved to be every bit as formidable as he had remembered. His heart raced in a way he had never felt for any opponent, not for his son, his father, or anyone. This, he thought, was a real opponent, and he trembled in both fear and excitement. He had missed his opportunity to face him in the fifth King of Iron Fist tournament; he would not be denied this time. With 'Jinpachi' giving him a rare reprieve from his pummeling, Kazuya scrutinized his situation.

The first thing he will need is space. Though the house itself was not the most ideal place for a fistfight, particularly for a large man as his 'grandfather', he former Iron Fist champion was caught off guard, and received some injuries as his reward. At this point, the enclosed space would serve as more a hindrance for him than an advantage, especially given how unusually mobile the ancient man was. There was only one direction to go, and that would be up. Dusting himself lightning, indigo lightning snaked from his arms across the whole of his body. His right eye pulsated its demonic, crimson hue. Likewise, a purple aura surrounded 'Jinpachi' as dark, chaotic streaks of purple lightning crackled all over his massive frame.

"Let us find a more suitable place to continue this, shall we?" Kazuya smirked. With that, he leapt to the air, past the living room floor, straight through the second level and through the roof. Torrents of lightning lashed and condensed as wings sprouted from his back. 'Jinpachi' leapt into the air and, with superhuman speed, proceeded to give chase.


It had only been a year since the former Zaibatsu CEO fought the red haired Korean, though it felt more like yesterday. Given that Jin was practically comatose for a lengthy period of time while Hwoarang had the whole year to train, it was therefore no surprise that he found himself on the defensive end of the Korean's barrage of kicks.

"Come on, Kazama!" Hwoarang huffed, dancing between one leg to the other, throwing kick after kick against the Iron Fist champion. "Don't disappoint me!"

With clenched teeth, Jin held his left hand to block the first set of kicks, then lowered it to block a second aimed at his leg before lifting his right arm to block the following strike aimed at his chest. He's gotten quicker, he thought ruefully. Jin hopped back, avoiding a pair of jabs, and ducked underneath a snap front kick. The Iron Fist champion stepped forward and thrust out his right arm, but the man known as the 'Blood Talon' recovered enough to hop away from the fist. Jin, back on his feet, attempted a second strike, which was also deflected with a lift of the foot. Hwoarang then pressed forward, extending his right leg into a side kick, then spun around to deliver a heel kick. Jin swayed away from both kicks, the second kick managing to graze him by the cheek.

"What is this ****?" Hwoarang spat. "Thought you said you wanted to get this over with?"

"I did say that, didn't I?" Jin rubbed his cheek with the back of his gloved hand. He had to give the man credit, Hwoarang was persistent. It had been that way since the two first met. Neither Mishima blood nor Devil Gene would intimidate the Taekwondo expert; all that mattered was to win, regardless of his opponent. It was one of the qualities he both admired and hated at the same time. Jin thumbed his nose and, raising his fists, squared off at the former biker thug. Spitting to the ground, Hwoarang bounced lightly on his feet, limbering his neck and positioned his body back to his fighting stance. Crimson lightning crackled around Jin's fists.

"You finally taking me seriously?" Hwoarang sneered.

"I've always been serious," Jin replied. "Now, more than ever." Exhaling deeply, Jin refocused himself on the fight at hand and gestured to his opponent with his head.

With a snort, Hwoarang approached his bitter rival carefully. A quick snap of the left leg was easily blocked by Jin. Balancing gracefully on one leg, the Taekwondo expert delivered two more successive kicks with his left leg, feinted, then switched to his right leg and thrust out his foot to his opponent's face.

Jin deftly blocked the kicks and sidestepped to his left, then quickly delivered a side kick of his own. Hwoarang was able to move his body just enough to avoid receiving the full blow of the kick, though he stumbled all the same.

Not letting up, Jin quickly dashed forward, unleashing a combination of lefts and rights. Hwoarang recovered and spun himself to meet the onslaught, blocking each passing blow, then countering with two quick punches to push his rival away.

The Korean swept his foot at his opponent's shins, which Jin was able to step away and counter with a knee. Hwoarang blocked that with his hand and struck back with a jab from his right hand and three kicks in succession, one on the ground, the following two while airborne. Jin avoided the jab and swayed from the first kick while blocking the remaining two, the force of the midair strikes pushing him away.

Landing on his feet softly, Hwoarang dashed forward and extended his right leg upward, aiming for his opponent's chin. Jin blocked the move again, but found himself staggering from the attack. Seizing that moment, Hwoarang leapt to the air and drove his foot to Jin's chest. The Iron Fist champion felt his body sail back and hitting the dusty ground of the arena amidst the chorus of cheers from the audience. Instead of skidding along the ground, Jin managed to tilt his body back and, with a deft push of his hand, flip himself back onto his feet, skidding to a quick stop.

His skill has improved as well, Jin thought, clutching his chest. Aggressive as he may appear to most of the audience, the moves were well calculated and precise in their intent.

"What's wrong, Kazama!" Hwoarang shouted. "Can't do nothing without your freak mode!"

Freak mode? Jin cocked his head at the affront. Between the two of them, while Jin had the bloodline on his side, Hwoarang had the advantage of natural talent. It was a gift that he was blessed with that made him such an adversary for even some of the most hardened, seasoned veterans of the Iron Fist Tournament, including his master, Baek Doo San, never mind for a man of Jin's stature, and Jin himself was no slouch. This was yet another quality he both admired and hated at the same time… at this moment, mostly hate. His neck ached from the collar around his neck. For a brief moment, he actually missed having his 'freak' mode.

Only for a brief moment… the memory of Eddy and the injuries he had suffered from his berserk devil form was still fresh in his mind.

Resuming his stance, Jin beckoned with his left hand, his expression cold and stern.

Hwoarang responded with a quick snap of his left leg. Jin swept the kick away with the back of his hand, and countered with a forward kick of his own. The red haired Korean swayed his head back from the kick and stepped away to avoid a roundhouse. Hwoarang's lazily walked away from the confrontation, his expression smug and confident. Jin did not break his stance, keeping an ever watchful eye over his grating opponent.

"Is something the matter?" the Korean taunted. "Why so serious?"

Jin kept his emotions and remained alert, though a part of him felt a small degree of annoyance bubbling to the surface, threatening to crack his cool exterior. In the past, it was a simple matter to brush the red haired Korean aside, leaving Hwoarang livid. Today, however, he could not ignore him any longer, and he found his current display of arrogance unsettling. If he could only wipe the smirk off his face, he thought, yet also knew such a thing would be easier said than done. After all, so far in this match, Jin was losing. How did it get to that point? Having abandoned the Mishima Styled Karate used by his fathers and forefathers in favor of the more traditional style of karate, Jin managed to defeat some of the strongest fighters in the world, amongst them the monster known as Ogre, as well as his own kin, Kazuya, Heihachi, and even the legendary Jinpachi Mishima. These were no small feats in themselves, and certainly those accomplishments had earned him the title of 'King of Iron Fist' and ultimately run the Mishima Zaibatsu as president and CEO as befitting of a Mishima heir…

And yet somehow, this one time biker thug turned soldier remained a thorn on his side, and had caused him far more trouble than foes far stronger and more seasoned than him. Inside and outside tournament settings, both men have fought on many an occasion, and though the reasons behind each clash have varied, be it a goal, a vendetta, or simply out of boredom, all eventually ended in one or both combatants bleeding and exhausted. Hwoarang himself had won a few of those encounters either through skill or determination. Though Jin himself had his fair share of victories, often times he found himself either winning by the skin of his teeth, or relying on the Devil Gene to overcome his opponent. None of his victories had ever come easy. It had never bothered him before, but given the circumstances, this was the first time he had truly noticed this odd disparity. And here, Jin was supposed to be venting out his frustrations, only for his frustrations to grow by the moment…

Hwoarang broke the lull with a right cross. Jin blocked the fist and forced his opponent back with a clout. "I hate being ignored," Hwoarang muttered, brushing himself lazily with his hand on his chest. "Think you're so high and mighty just because you're a rich man? Answer when I speak, Kazama!"

Jin answered the Taekwondo expert with a right hook to the midsection. Hwoarang parried the attack and countered with a string of kicks with his left leg, the first two quick and abbreviated, the final with full force. Jin staggered back from the strikes and dropped to one knee. As an insult to injury, Hwoarang spun on the ball of his left foot and punted the side of Jin's face with his right. Jin flew from the impact and toppled onto his side, scraping his arm along the dusty floor. A chorus of cheers rang from the crowd.

"Now that is just sad," Hwoarang scowled. "The big bad Kazama taken down by a 'punk'. That's probably what those ***** will say. In fact, that's probably how they will remember us, you as the CEO of some big *** company that brought the world down, and me as the lowlife who just got a lucky break and maybe five seconds of fame. But you wanna know what's even more sad?"

As Jin lifted himself with his knuckles on the dirt, Hwoarang kicked him hard against the ribs, toppling his opponent back onto the ground.

"For some god damn reason, I actually liked you once," he continued. "Forget respect, I… liked you. Yes, you were a complete ***, but still I liked you, far better than even the punk ***** I once hung with."

Hwoarang lifted his foot and dropped his heel towards his fallen opponent's chest. Jin quickly rolled away from the stomp, the move hitting nothing but dirt in his place, and sprang back to a squatting position. With balled fist, Hwoarang quickly dashed towards his opponent and began his assault anew. Both men began with an exchange of lefts and rights, both men blocked each other's strikes. Hwoarang would throw a combination of kicks which Jin would block and counter with a combination of punches and kicks of his own. Soon, however, Hwoarang would pressure the Iron Fist champion with his more practiced feet and, seizing a weakness in Jin's defense, knock him back down on his rump. Jin struggled to get back at his feet while Hwoarang bided his time.

"It's weird, but it's true," Hwoarang continued. "This, even after you killed so many people back in the day. Maybe it was because of that time you kicked the living **** out of me when you went all demon during the fifth tournament, and I took one too many hits to the head, and probably took many more of those since then. But as much as you had pissed me off, even when you played mad dictator all those times, I kinda felt sorry for you. Now, however…"

Jin barely managed to raise his hand as Hwoarang rushed in for another short exchange. Fists balled, the Korean attacked with quick lefts and rights, all of them blocked clumsily and countered by Jin with strikes of his own. Jin mistimed a right hook, which allowed Hwoarang to knock him back with a right cross. Jin reeled on his feet, though this time maintained his footing. Hwoarang, however, would have none of that, hopping into the air and tossing a side kick with his left leg. Jin felt his legs about to buckle from that move alone, yet it wasn't over as Hwoarang followed up a kick to the calf. Just when Jin was about to fall, Hwoarang added an upward side kick to the head, sending Jin airborne momentarily. With Jin now at the 'Blood Talon's' mercy, the Korean continued to administer his torment; a hook kick with his right, a pair of leaping roundhouses to the chest, a series of quick kicks in tandem with his fists, and an axe kick aimed squarely on the shoulder. Jin crumpled down in a heap, his body full of aches and bruises after that onslaught. A trickle of blood dripped from a fresh cut on his cheek.

"Just be glad I'm letting you leave in a stretcher," Hwoarang glowered, the haughtiness in his tone replaced by scorn. "It is more than what you gave my friends, especially my master!"

CRACK!

Hwoarang felt a sudden painful stinging sensation on the left side of his face. The impact came so unexpectedly that the Korean found himself off balanced with on hand firmly on the ground. His eyes widened with a look of shock and dismay. Standing on his feet with a new look of determination, Jin held his right arm out with his hand clenched into a fist. The man who was once nicknamed 'Fatal Lightning' still appeared to be in pain, but his eyes now burned with a level of anger Hwoarang had rarely ever seen.

"You're right, what I did the past year was horrible," Jin said in as calm a tone as he could muster. "Just the year before, I killed thousands in my war. Years before that, I killed many more."

Back on his feet, Hwoarang lunged at his rival with a strong right fist. It connected hard and true, yet Jin held his ground, not yielding even an inch. He looked at his rival incredulously. Just when he thought he had him, Jin would pull a ******** move such as this and end up one step ahead of him again. It must be real nice to have such 'kingly' blood in those high and might veins, he thought.

"I won't even deny, I deserve everyone's contempt, including yours."

Stunned, Hwoarang growled with frustration as he backhanded Jin with his left hand. Jin, on the other hand, blocked the fist and shoved his opponent away. Again, must be real nice having that damn Mishima blood…

"For your friends… your comrades whom had fought bravely against my fathers and myself, especially Master Baek Doo San, I am truly sorry."

"*******!" Hwoarang leapt into the air to deliver a flying kick, yet to his dismay, Jin sidestepped the attack, allowing him to sail well past his mark. Hwoarang landed softly on the ground, yet immediately turned and lunged again. The momentum of Hwoarang's jump and the impact of the blow did not miss, throwing Jin backwards, yet to his dismay, Jin not only remained standing, but as an insult, he seemed unfazed by it. "You don't get to speak his name, Kazama!" he spat.

"But at this very moment, I have important issues to attend to, and have no time – "

Losing his cool, Hwoarang hopped lightly on his left foot and thrust out his right leg, intending to shut his rival's mouth with his heel. "Men and women we both knew had died, so you will make time for this – "

A strong pair of hands held his foot in place. Hwoarang jerked his leg a couple of times but was unable to break out of Jin's grip. Before he could come up with a counter, Jin twisted his hands and spun his opponent to the ground. Hwoarang landed hard on his back, much harder than he had anticipated, and felt the wind knocked out of him.

"You may settle the score with me at a later time," Jin seethed. "At this moment, however, I have one important thing to deal with, and you are in my way." Hanako… he thought sullenly. The vision he had witnessed only moments ago still remained fresh, one of his two main motivations to suffer through this tournament. "For once, I am on a mission to save lives… very important lives. If you continue in this course of yours, you will only put those very lives at risk. And that, I cannot allow to happen."

You and your self-righteous ********… Damn you, Kazama!

Hwoarang picked himself up and connected with a right fist to the face. As before, Jin did not budge from the punch, and rewarded his opponent with a fist of his own. The Korean, on the other hand, didn't fall back from the blow this time. Feeling the heat rising, he instead backhanded Jin hard with his left arm, ignoring the pain on his own face. The fist landed across his cheek with a loud crack, momentarily causing Jin's head to snap to his right. Snarling, however, Jin grabbed Hwoarang by the arm and, pulling him forward and clamping his opponent tightly, delivered a mighty head butt. This time, Hwoarang did fall back from the force, skidding several feet from his rival. Jin quickly regretted it, however, as his head was still ringing from the beating he had received before, much less the two punches to the face. Falling to one knee with one hand clutching his head, he would eventually reflect as to why he did that, over even tried talking his opponent down for that matter. For now, he wanted something to make the world stop spinning.

Not so tough now… Hwoarang thought, staggering to his feet. He ached less than his opponent, but his balance at this moment was not much better. No matter, seeing him in such a vulnerable position and practically begging for a lesson, Hwoarang stumbled forward and leapt with his an outstretched leg. Jin stumbled and rolled away just before the right foot made contact.

"Stubborn fool!" Jin berated, back on his feet.

"You are one to talk!" Hwoarang fired back, readjusting his body to his rival for another kick.

The strike hit Jin on the shoulder instead of the intended head. Bristling with anger, Jin struck back with a quick forward kick of the left leg and a jab of his left hand. Hwoarang deftly blocked both strikes, only to be caught off guard by a right cross. The move still stung, but it lacked the strength of the previous blows. As such, Hwoarang merely felt his head lurch violently as opposed to his head, torso, and the rest of his body sail to a wall. This, on the other hand, allowed Jin to step forward and perform an uppercut with his left fist. That strike hurt him more, along with the collective punches that followed. Just as Jin seemingly reversed his fortunes, however, Hwoarang managed to recover just enough to stop an incoming sweep of the leg. For Jin's hard work, Hwoarang returned the favor with left hook.

Then a right uppercut.

Then a kick to the calf.

Then another kick to the ribs.

Then a hook kick to the side of the head.

And another strike, and another, and another…

Then a kick with the right foot to send him floating.

Then finally, dropping onto his back, a soccer-like overhead kick, punting the falling Jin across the ring.

Jin landed on the ground with a crunch, too battered to utter any sort of curse at his opponent. The audience cheered loudly for the Korean while hurling jeers and insults at the downed champion. He could barely hear Hwoarang's voice, let alone the profanities uttered in his direction. He did feel the fingers grab him by the back of his head along with the fist across his face. His lower lip split from the impact, leaving fresh blood running down his chin.

"Are you listening to me?" Hwoarang rumbled breathlessly.

Jin's expression was pained yet defiant. He glared back into the man's eyes unflinching. For that, Hwoarang smashed his face to the ground.

"That was for those you have killed…"

Groaning, Jin fumbled along the ground with his hands and knees, barely managing a crawl. A sweep of the foot under his arms sent him falling. A second kick flipped him over onto his back.

"This one… this one especially is for Master…"

CRUNCH!

Hwoarang felt pain shoot up his heel as his foot hit solid concrete instead of flesh. Refusing to quit, Jin found the energy to roll away just enough for the stomp to miss. The former Mishima Zaibatsu CEO was supposed to have the gift of the bloodline on his side, the strength and durability possessed only by a Mishima as he had been told countless times in the past; he decided it was about time to put that to good use. Seizing that advantage, Jin grabbed his opponent's heel hard, eliciting a yelp in response. Desperately, he clamped down harder on the foot, and before Hwoarang could utter another syllable, Jin put all his strength into lifting the man over his head and slam him to the ground.

"Ugh!" the Korean grunted.

Clutching at the back of his neck, Jin lifted Hwoarang back into the air and, with a loud cry, slammed him back down on the ground for a second time.

Then a third…

Then a fourth…

Not letting his opponent drop to the ground so soon, Jin held the Korean by the throat, and struck him by the ribs with a hard swipe of the right hand. Hwoarang fell from his grip, down on his knees with both arms clutching his midsection. A chop to the neck sent him recoiling on the ground, retching dry heaves.

Mounting his prey, Jin quickly pounded the man's face with a continuous flurry of lefts and rights, gritting his teeth as he let loose his fury. Fresh new bruises appeared on Hwoarang's face, which gave way to cuts, and eventually blood. Jin's eyes blazed a frightening red, his fists felt numb from brutality, and the markings of the Devil materialized from his brow…

Die! Die! Die! Die! Die!

Searing heat burned around his neck, putting a halt to his aggression. Grumbling, he latched onto the collar around his neck, pulling at the enchanted band. He then realized what had just happened… and what nearly would have happened had the device not wake him of his increasing bloodlust. The brands on his brow vanished as quickly as they had appeared, his eyes reverting back to normal. Hwoarang would have ended up like Eddy did, only it would have been fatal. Angry as he was with the red haired Korean, his days of genocide was over… he had grown weary of the slaughter…

CRACK!

Hwoarang punched his rival off him and meekly rolled onto his stomach. Beaten and battered, his face was caked with dirt and blood. Fresh drops of viscous crimson covered over his eyelids, hindering his sight. Though nothing in his right foot was broken, it was in all likelihood sprained from his attempted stomp, rendered worse when Jin clamped his hands around it. He could still balance on the leg, even use it to attack, but its effectiveness had now been reduced significantly.

With adrenaline starting to wane, Jin also felt the wounds catch up, sapping of his energy to fight. His face was equally drenched as his opponent's, though his vision was less obstructed. His arm still ached from the scrape earlier in the fight. Sharp pain seared from his ribs, likely fractured from the blows he took. It hurt to even breathe, let alone move, though externally he wouldn't show it.

To the audience, neither man looked to be in any shape to fight.

"Kazama!" Hwoarang bellowed. He had never hated someone with such animosity. For all the training he had received, for all the talents he was blessed with, somehow that man managed to thwart him no matter what he did. Cursed Mishima bloodline… it was a quality he absolutely hated about him…

"Idiot…" Jin muttered under his breath.

Both men knew they were on their last leg, and though their hearts insisted on continuing till the other falls, their bodies told them otherwise. Climbing awkwardly to their feet, both men sized up the other as best as their impaired vision allowed them to, and, with much effort, positioned themselves into their respective fighting stances.

Jin smiled.

Hwoarang fumed. "What's so funny!" he demanded.

Jin ignored the question. Instead, he focused his ki onto his arms, preparing for one last move. "What are you waiting for?" he said calmly.

Even in rage, Hwoarang did not let his anger get the best of him, not this time anyway. He exercised the little patient he had left, figuring the best course of action to take against his rival.

The crowd chanted impatiently, roaring for the fighters to finish the match.

"Bring it on, Kazama."

Against the agonizing pain and exhaustion, putting all their mind, all their heart, all their soul into one last effort, the two opponents attacked.