Street Fighter: Lost Shadow
He was known by many names.
The Merciless Giant.
The Scarred Reaper.
Seven feet tall. Three hundred eighty seven pounds of muscle and scars. Skin as dark as ash. He was as grim and gargantuan as all his nicknames implied. And in everything he did, he did so with the motto of 'by any means necessary'.
At the moment, however, Avery Lewis wanted to crawl into a hole and hide.
The pretty pixie blonde of a commanding officer had called him to the training room for one final sparring session before leaving for her R&R. The scarred giant hesitated at first, especially given the last work out the two of them had, which ultimately laid him out on the mat for thirty minutes courtesy of a well placed 'Spin Drive Smasher' to the face. In her sweetest, most innocent look she could give, the blonde promised him this one would be a quick one, which he still hesitated given the last one lasted for less than two minutes. She then promised him some pizza, wings, and beer all on her tab before she leaves. One bat of her eyelashes, and he suddenly found himself on the training mat awaiting his next beating.
Now that he signed his soul away, the thought of pizza, wings, and beer at once started to look less appetizing…
"Are you ready?" the pixie blonde called out, flicking her ponytail to the side before stepping into her fighting stance.
Several days prior to the sparring match, it started out as another uneventful day.
The last mission Delta Red had been called upon, a small band of unknown terrorists managed to infiltrate a secret military base on a remote island and hold its staff hostage. Using the compound as their base of operations, the group procured the weapons from within and threatened to hold the world hostage lest their demands were met. Panic had stricken the populace, uprisings from secret followers had stirred. For the band of wannabe rulers, it was a chance to gain power and recognition beyond their wildest imagination.
For Cammy White, it was Tuesday.
MI6 quickly dispatched Delta Red to the terrorists' location, and in just a matter of moments, the hostages were freed, the band had been neutralized, and the compound recovered. Delta Red was credited for yet another successful mission, Cammy was once again rewarded, and life returned to normal for the island.
That was weeks ago. With little to nothing else to do save for the continual observing and training of the latest batch of hopefuls, Cammy was eventually given a much deserved vacation. Though she wouldn't admit this to anyone, not even to herself, the diminutive blonde had to admit, she found some sadistic joy in tormenting these new recruits, particularly one soldier whom she found much potential: a seven foot giant of a man whose skill in combat was matched only by his temperament. Her superiors considered him much too wild to handle. She, on the other hand, relished a challenged, and made a bet with one of the officers. One or two sparring matches later, she tamed the untamable (some even wondered how that man was still alive), and was two hundred pounds richer for it.
Still, the fun could only last for so long before she found herself bored, and it had been months since she last saw her friends. She was looking forward to the rest. Thus, on a Saturday morning, Cammy began packing her belongings, tucking them neatly into her suitcase while humming happily to herself. Wishing to try a different look for herself, she allowed her long golden mane to fall to her back, and tied it to a ponytail with a small ribbon. Looking at herself in front of a mirror, she brushed back a lock of hair hanging over her forehead, and turned her head to the side to get a better view. As she stared at the reflection, the blonde absentmindedly traced her index finger along the scar on her cheek. Even with that one blemish, Cammy still couldn't help but admire the image staring back at her, and she almost allowed herself to smile. Afterwards, she went over to her bed to pack the remainder of her clothes.
At that point, her computer terminal chimed with an incoming transmission. Curious, she gently placed the shirt in her arm onto the suitcase, and walked over to the terminal. Spinning the monitor on the desk, Cammy tapped her fingers lightly on the touch screen, and suddenly felt her blood boil at the sight of the face greeting her. "Of all the people…"
"Hello, Cammy," a spectacled woman with copper skin and fiery red hair answered pleasantly with a smile.
Avery adjusted the wrappings around his fists while keeping his eyes fixed on his opponent. Earlier when Cammy begged him for this match, she sounded cheerful when she had called him for this match. Now she looked serious like he had never seen before. Certainly he had seen her serious before, but this was something different, something, as best as he could put it, colder. He couldn't answer his commander, dared not to answer. This, he realized, was going to be a session unlike any other he had with her, and that thought frightened him all the more. He swallowed the lump in his throat… or would have if he wasn't so shaken on the inside.
The giant nearly tripped himself over with a start and gulped hard. Avery silently raised his fists and squared himself to his superior. With a nod of his head, the match commenced…
"It's been a long time."
"Not long enough," Cammy immediately replied. "How did you get a hold of this channel? It is heavily encrypted…"
The woman cut off the blonde with a mere grin.
Cammy let out a sigh. "Never mind…" she muttered. "After all this time, I thought you had settled down."
The woman in the monitor chuckled. "As much as I would like to settle down and play the housewife, I still have bills to pay," she continued. "Unlike your commando friend with the broom brush, I can't go home and be a family man…" she shuddered. "By the way, you look to be in good health. I like what you did to your hair. In fact, I think the ponytail suits you more than those pigtails. Not that I have anything against pigtails to begin with." The copper skinned woman casually brushed back her mane with a gloved hand, revealing a single long braid hanging just behind her back.
"Save the pleasantries for another time," Cammy snapped. "What do you want?"
"Still the life of the party I see."
"And you're still a cold hearted snake."
"Touché," the woman smiled proudly, pushing the bridge of her glasses with her finger tips. "People don't call me 'Viper' for nothing."
Cammy was right in front of him, as usual, and began with a kick to the midsection. Somehow, Avery managed to raise his arm to block the kick, and swung his massive fist at the woman's head. The woman parried the attack and came back with a pair of jabs of her own. Both blows were easily avoided and countered with a knee aimed to the midsection, which Cammy quickly managed to block.
With each second the clock ticked, Avery felt himself adjusted to his commander's speed, anticipating and blocking her attacks with a little more ease. Normally, he would consider this an accomplishment, but a voice in the back of his mind told him, 'It's a trick, stay on your guard.' Not one to underestimate the woman, he continued to play cautious, throwing quick, successive lefts and rights and blocking Cammy's counterattacks in turn. The woman was not getting any head way in her attacks, but neither was she putting much effort, he thought, noting the lack of sweat from her brow, or lack of sound coming from her lips.
The seconds continued to tick, and neither opponent managed to connect with either blow. Wanting to end this quickly (and savor the pizza, wings, and beer without being laid on a stretcher), Avery seized his next opportunity and lunged in for a mighty chop with his right hand…
Cammy glared at the monitor quietly with contempt. "Again, what do you want?"
"And again, still the life of the party," Crimson Viper shook her head, deciding the two have exchanged pleasantries long enough. "What I am about to tell is considered highly sensitive. Most of my superiors don't even have knowledge of this, and the few that do would skin me alive if I so much as breathe a syllable. The fact that I've managed to speak to you with so many eyes watching is a miracle in itself. As such, I will need you to keep this conversation between the two of us."
"The plot thickens…" the blonde murmured sarcastically.
"As much as I would like to continue trading barbs with you, I'm afraid my time is limited. And frankly, between my less than reliable associates, the broom brush commando off the radar, and the China doll still missing (not that I find them any better to deal with), you are unfortunately the only one I can count on."
The blonde agent found it rather difficult to trust the red haired spy given their torrential past. In her younger days, the two had crossed paths on several occasions, often times interfering in one another's business. One particular event found the blonde on the receiving end of a brutal beating courtesy of the spy, a memory which still lingered to this day… Cammy straightened herself and folded her arms across her chest. "Really now? And what is in it for me?"
"My heartfelt gratitude and a lifetime supply of kitty litter?" Crimson Viper answered with a quip. Even at a time like this, the red haired agent couldn't help but take one last jab at her English counterpart.
Cammy let out an audible scoff. "My apologies, but I feel like we're both wasting each other's time, though unlike you, I have some prior engagements to attend to. But you know what? It's been fun chatting again. Good day." With a crooked smile, she quickly reached over to the touch screen to terminate their communication…
"Here's a present for you!" the woman announced, and leapt onto the giant's shoulders. Wrapping her legs around his head, she gave the neck a quick twist ("Easy!"), deftly dropped herself behind the giant's massive legs, bringing the man down over her back and onto the mat while gracefully wrapping her legs around his arm for an arm breaker ("Yah!"). Finally, still grasping his arm, she spun upright in the air and positioned brought Avery into a prone position, grabbing his head again with both hands, and gave it a final twist ("It's all over.").
The match was over, the victor stood over her opponent with hardly a sweat on her brow, and the loser would find eating and drinking very difficult.
"Subject has broken from containment!"
"Cover the scientists – "
"Everyone, pull back, pull back!"
"Where the hell is my back up – "
"Readings are off the charts – "
The recording had last all of thirty two seconds before it fizzled and ended abruptly, yet Cammy felt herself stiffen at the images on her screen. Watching men die was nothing new for the agent, and the sight of soldiers and scientists alike, though tragic, was nothing out of the ordinary. The cause of those deaths, on the other hand… fire and malice, an effigy of pure evil with eyes as white as death itself. Though the face was blurred from the shaking of the camera, there was no mistaking what she saw.
Who she saw.
The sight of this man… this monster… was the last thing she ever thought she would see again…
"That was fun," she winked at the groaning giant. "We should do this again when I get back. See ya." Patting the man gently on the shoulder, eliciting a wince from the giant, Cammy strode out of the training room humming to herself, her ponytail swishing left and right as she walked.
As for Avery, he remained motionless on the mat. He barely even felt the pain from the initial twist, but now it was excruciating. As humiliating as his loss was, there was something that bothered him. More than the pain on his arm and neck, more than the fact that his commander had just left him unceremoniously on the mat a near cripple, and even more than the fact that she likely forgotten about her promise of pizza, wings, and beer, this one thing would nag him, torment him for the rest of the hour, day, week, month… possibly even for the rest of his existence.
"How am I not dead?" he groaned weakly.
While the shaken agent struggled to find her voice, Crimson Viper looked on, betraying no hint of emotion in her face. Yet even her thoughts swirled at the recording, cursing in her mind how lightly her agency seems to be taking it.
"Two of my best men died to get this recording to me," the Crimson Viper stated. "The last thing I was told was that the facility itself was brought down and our target hadn't left the facility since. That was three days ago."
Cammy brought her arm back, clenching it into a fist. It had been years since she felt these kinds of emotions, a mixture of anger, fear, confusion, and everything else in between. Emotions she had thought she had buried long ago. Gritting her teeth, it took all her strength to calm herself down and regain some semblance of composure. "If this is a lie…" she seethed.
The copper skinned spy looked back with a sullen expression, sympathizing with the blonde agent for once. "For everyone's sake, I hope it's a lie."
And at that point, Cammy knew her vacation had unofficially ended.
Cammy paused to meet her associates as she sauntered through the lobby that was MI6. She gave a wave here, a smile there, a hug over there, hiding her true feelings as she said her goodbyes. With the routine check-ups and formalities over and done with, Cammy slung her pack over her shoulder and exited through the doors.
Outside, a car awaited her arrival. Again, she smiled and waved at the middle aged driver as she hopped in through the passenger side, tossing her pack behind her seat and slumped.
"You look lovely as always," the driver said.
"Why thank you, kind sir," she bowed her head and grinned. "You always say the loveliest things, dear Carlyle."
"I like your ponytail," he added.
"You're making me blush," she winked. "Keep this up, and I might marry you before the day ends." The blonde agent had to admit, even a man in his middle ages, agent Carlyle was still in top form as expected of a veteran such as he, slim yet firm and well toned underneath his military garb. Though he had a couple of lines here and there on his wizened face along with a clean shaven scalp, she still found him quite handsome. At the very least, he always treated her well whenever they met, even if the meetings were brief. A true gentleman, she thought, almost like in those Bond films. If she was real naïve, she'd probably even think her words were genuine and end up in the sack with him. Luckily, she wasn't.
"Not if the lady of the house has anything to say," he laughed. "She'd skin me alive if she found out, and that's if she's being merciful."
"What a shame," Cammy sighed.
"What can I say? I do take my vows seriously when I put that ring on." As if Cammy needed proof, the driver showed off his ring on his massive finger, the sunlight glinting off its sheen.
"Lucky woman." She meant it from the bottom of her heart. She also thought the man was lucky enough to find someone to settle down with, let alone smile about it. In their line of work, maintaining a family is probably one of the most difficult things to do, and it takes a special kind of woman to maintain order in the house while the spouse is away risking life and limb for the queen.
"Lucky me," the driver leaned back as though agreeing with her sentiment. "But, really, you look real good today. Got a hot date already?"
"As if," Cammy rolled her eyes. "All I've done was change my hair. You've seen me in this shirt and jeans before."
"If you say so," Carlyle shrugged. "So, where to?"
Cammy thought long and hard where to go. Before Crimson Viper's revelation, she had hoped to stop by in America, hoping to reacquaint herself with a few of her old comrades overseas. Guile, for one along with his wife and daughter, Ken Masters for another, along with Eliza and their sons. She had hoped to surprise them, and perhaps spar with both men in between. It had been a while since they had fought, and it would be nice to fight people who could actually challenge her skills.
Heck, even Dan Hibiki would make her break a sweat… now and then.
Probably more than anything else, however, she wanted to be there for their loss: Chun Li was renowned for being the 'strongest woman in the world', and she had earned that title many times over. After years of chasing after justice, fighting off her personal demons, she had finally settled down to begin a normal life. At first, she adopted several children and both raised them and trained them as her own. Eventually, however, she managed to also find herself a husband, one that could even keep up with the 'strongest woman in the world', and bore a child of her own, a daughter from her last recollection. Cammy was happy for her former Interpol comrade and friend, even a little jealous of her happiness. Then, one day, her family went missing, and things were never the same. Chun Li, and the rest of her family for that matter, had been special to all three of them, and she had regretted not being there for Guile or Ken when news broke of their disappearance. Cammy said she would be there, promised to see them…
And yet, this will have to wait again. Thanks to Crimson Viper, she once again had to put aside her visit because of duty, but this one was different. This was a personal demon she had to deal with, one she shared with many others in the past, but especially with Guile and Chun Li. And she had to deal with this one alone; Guile had indeed settled down as a 'family man', and the family would not like seeing this wound reopened the way it did to her. She thought back to the video, thought back to the genocide, thought back to the cries and screams of many men and women. Most of all, she thought back to the image of flames, of chaos… and the monster who wielded them in the palm of his hand. And the eyes… those hideous, pupiless eyes…
"To the airport," she chirped. "I've got someone waiting for me."
AUTHOR'S NOTES: One thing I should mention before I go further. For one minor reason, I'm going with the JP naming rather than the international naming, ergo Dictator will be Vega instead. It is a very small thing, as I myself have grown up with Claw as Vega, Boxer as Balrog, and Dictator as Bison, just that for artistic purposes I am choosing the JP names for reasons that will be seen later in the story.