So sorry for the long wait, but good news all around-I have a new laptop! And now the updates will commence!
The plane ride into Canada took little time, as Drakken insisted on stopping bare miles from the border to travel the rest of the way on foot. Monkey Fist privately objected, considering the amount of land British Colombia occupied, but he kept it to himself; Drakken still hadnt seemed to have forgiven him for the 'nothing left to lose' comment.
He did notice that Drakken, predictably, kept close to the dense forestry, stopping every couple of miles or so to touch the ground and plan out the best route to remain undetected. Wisely, Monkey Fist remained silent during these excursions, even after, for three days.
On the third day, Drakken stood up from his 'talk' with the Earth and looked at Monkey Fist with a serious, anxious expression.
"He's close. VERY close."
Monkey Fist felt a rush of cold apprehension run over his spine. "How close?" he asked.
"Another day's walk." Drakken dusted the dirt from his pants, looking a paler shade of blue than normal. "He's so close I can FEEL him..."
Now that he mentioned it, Monkey Fist could also feel the slight pull of Mystical Monkey Power deep within his core; an almost teasing sensation, like Z was toying with him, egging him on. He quickly shook the sensation off. He wouldnt be letting Z get to him, not now.
"Let's get going," Drakken said, picking his pack back up. Monkey Fist started to follow, but paused. "...What's the matter?"
Monkey Fist glanced at his companion, looking almost lost and frightened, albeit determined and anxious. "...Drakken, we are a mere day's walk away from either the salvation or the destruction of this world as we know it," he said, sitting down on an overturned tree trunk. He took the Lotus Blade off of his back and held it in his hands, as though seeking comfort from it. "...That fact puts things in perspective for me in a way I have never anticipated."
"How so?" Drakken asked, sitting himself down across from Monkey Fist.
"...I said I had nothing to lose in this endeavor," Monkey Fist said slowly, "...but I'm finding that to be most untrue." He glanced down at the Lotus Blade. "...For almost thirty years, I havent had a single thing outside of my own selfish reasons to motivate me to do ANYTHING. And now, all in the course of six months, I find myself wishing-WANTING-to protect this world.
"Drakken...I've never had anyone depend on me before...let alone for anything of THIS magnitude." He looked up, his blue-grey eyes steely. "People who dont even know my name, or yours, DEPEND on us..."
"...I know, Monty," Drakken said, wringing his hands. "...I know."
"...We cannot rush into this," Monkey Fist said, his hands tightening around the scabbard of the Lotus Blade. "As with attaining my Power, so must everything be perfectly clear in attaining this victory."
"...I dont follow," Drakken said, arching a brow. Monkey Fist sighed.
"As the Sensei would put it, 'meditate and reflect on it'." He leaned back against a tree, tucking his hands into his sleeves. "That is what I will do, at least...you do as you wish." With that, his eyes closed, and his body shut down as he slipped into mediation mode, leaving Drakken to his own devices.
Drakken stared at the still form of his companion for a good while before sitting back on the ground pensively. It didnt make MUCH sense, he thought, but Monkey Fist DID have a good point. Everything in the world rested on this.
Most important of all, everything precious to HIM rested on this. In his mind's eye, he could see his beloved Sheena, at full term and ready for birth. That beautiful, faithful woman who stuck by him through everything, the good and the pileup up bad. Even when he was undervalued as a person and even as a villain, she was always there.
It only got better after he had a hand in saving the world those years ago; he got recognition, support, and a second chance. And he TOOK that second chance, to legally attain his Doctorate, get a job, and tell Sheena how he truly felt about her and start a real life, free from the demons of his past.
He could practically see it now-he would win this battle, marry Sheena, and have beautiful children together. He would finally do something of true worth in this life, as a husband and a father, and life would be perfect.
Just as quickly as that thought came, another followed, unbidden and unwelcome. He could see himself at Z's feet, beaten and broken, unable to do anything to stop the Apocalypse of terror that madman would bring. And just to add insult injury, he could see Z force him to watch the brutal destruction of his fiance and unborn child, left to wallow in the agony of knowing there was nothing he could do, before finally being killed himself.
Those last visions jolted him back to the present, breaking out in a cold sweat over his body. He clenched his hands tightly, forcing his power to reign in and cam down.
No. It WOULDNT come to that.
He would be sure of it...
In the mindscape of his own memories, Monkey Fist allowed himself to recount every atrocity he committed in detail, not allowing himself to lie or sugarcoat it any longer. He remembered the ethical boundaries he had crossed, the people he had hurt, and the damage he had done to his own spirit, all for the sake of gaining what he THOUGHT was rightfully his...only to be overshadowed by an 'imposter', a clown of a child who made a mockery of his years of tireless dedication and research.
He recalled the desperate measures he had resorted to with Yono, and the two-and-a-half years of personal Hell of being turned to stone. He remembered the joyous relief of being set free, and being told that his destiny WAS to be a Monkey Master. The freedom of letting go of the pain of his past hurts and being given the opportunity to embrace his present and future.
...Whichever future that came to pass.
On the one hand, should he claim victory, he could see himself in a place of honor at Yomanouchi as the new Sensei, to pass on the traditions of Tai Shing Pek Kwar and ninjutsu to a whole new generation. He would have a home, respect, reverence, and true purpose in life. He would have what he longed for above all.
...But on the other hand...
He could see Z taking his Mystical Monkey Power, stripping it out of his very essence; slowly, painfully. Z would use the Lotus Blade to cripple him before ordering those cybernetic abnormalities to tear him limb from limb, laughing the whole time, making SURE that damning laugh was the last thing he would ever hear-!
He was snapped out of his vision by Drakken, who was gently shaking his shoulder. He must have let the horror of that vision show, because Drakken was giving him the oddest and most concerned of looks, but his companion seemed to choose not to comment.
"...We should get some sleep, Monty," Drakken said softly. Monkey Fist nodded, shakily settling down for as much sleep as he could muster.
As Drakken followed suit, both men couldnt help but share a similar dream as they managed to drift off to sleep.
The world that would be saved. The peace they would have. And the futures they would make come true.