Chapter 14 – Day 2: Fujin, God of the Winds
Kasumi followed silently as her and the others made their way to the arena after breakfast. The rest of the group were animatedly discussing Hitomi's match and how they thought it was going to play out.
"I don't know" said Hwoarang with a shrug, "I honestly haven't seen either of these people fight yet so I have no idea who would win. But naturally I'm rootin' for Hitomi."
Lei nodded in agreement, "Me too, but I have to say it won't be easy for her to come out on top. I've faced Bruce before...he's one of the best Muay Thai boxers I've ever seen."
Asuka sighed, "It focuses heavily on elbow and knee strikes too. My dad said that's why the style is so renowned worldwide. Practically every martial artist knows how difficult it is to reverse those kinds of attacks."
Steve chuckled, "She'll find a way. Hitomi's a bright girl, probably even more so when it comes to fighting."
Kasumi chose this moment to chime in, "She is. I have seen her fight before; she puts her all into every single fight as if her life depended on it. I've rarely seen someone so dedicated to their art."
"Her father's doing no doubt," replied Lei, "I'd imagine that man put her through some pretty rigorous training over the years."
"Guess we're about to see if it paid off," said the Osakan with a shrug as the group took their seats.
The arena was enormous. Kasumi found it amazing that this place was actually attached to the hotel, as it truly looked much bigger than the said building from the inside. Scanning the outside of the arena, the kunoichi noticed that the stands lined the entire perimeter and were filling up very quickly. Soon enough, the place was completely filled with excited fans.
The arena itself was a fairly large, imposing steel cage that was octagonal in nature. The mat seemed pretty standard but the walls looked very...uninviting. Cold, tempered steel that looked impossible to even scratch - Kasumi definitely wouldn't want to be on the receiving end of a head on collision with one of them.
Soon enough, most of the lights in the room dimmed while a few large spotlights focused on the center of the arena. A man then walked into the very center of the stage with a mic in his hand. He was scrawny, and Asuka realized right away that this was the same guy who was at Urban Jungle last night.
"Ladies and gentlemen! Welcome to Day 2 of the King of Iron Fist Tournament 5!"
The crowd, of course, roared with anticipation. Kasumi noticed Asuka roll her eyes in annoyance. She suppressed a grin at the sight.
She's clearly not used to these sort of things.
"We welcome you all back to the Iron Fist Arena, where we will once again be starting things off for the day. As you know, this is the second day of preliminaries which means all new fighters and a new brand of excitement! I hope your ready!"
Asuka grunted in exasperation, "Geez, will he just get on with it already!"
Julia suddenly perked up, "Look! There's Hitomi!"
Everyone's eyes shifted to a stairwell branching off the arena which probably lead to the locker rooms. At the top of the stairs just outside the arena was the German karateka. She was currently speaking with what looked to be a tournament official of some sort. She was nodding along to what he was saying, evidently quite bored.
Hitomi was wearing her standard karate gi. It was white and looked fresh, Asuka guessed that it was probably a new one she nabbed from her dojo before leaving to come here. The Osakan also silently gave her approval at Hitomi's choice of wearing a traditional white headband instead of her pink one; she was glad the two shared that trait for some reason.
The scrawny man continued his announcements as the crowd finally died down, "Our first combatant is a new face in the King of Iron Fist Tournament, but I have been informed that she has made quite an impression on another competition that you all might be aware of...called Dead or Alive!"
At this, the crowd gave a mixed response of excited cheers along with couple "Ooh's" and "Ahh's". Kasumi offhandedly wondered if anyone would recognize her at some point, considering she had indeed won the first Dead or Alive tournament. She shrugged it off, knowing that since then she had done a pretty decent job of concealing herself from the public. Or her true self anyway.
"She's the daughter of a world-renowned German karate master, give it up for Hitomi Heinrich!"
The crowd once again lost it and cheered madly for the karate girl as she jogged up to the arena. If she was nervous at all, you couldn't tell. After waving at the crowd a couple times with a cheery smile, Hitomi's face suddenly morphed into one of determination and seriousness. Asuka was a bit taken aback at how quickly her expression changed. It was a bit unnerving.
"Say...she's pretty hot, eh?"
"You said it, I always thought the one thing these tournaments lacked was some feisty and good-looking gals."
"Well there's that one Chinese girl with the pigtails...she's pretty cute too, wouldn't you say?"
"Yeah I guess, but she's not my type. Too girly and annoying for my liking. This chick meanwhile looks like she's got spunk and a tomboyish way to her, plus...look at that body. What I wouldn't give to-"
"Will you can it, losers?"
Asuka had whipped around to face the two guys sitting behind their group with a decidedly fierce glare. Steve joined her a moment later, looking rather unimpressed with the two, while Hwoarang, Julia and Lei simply rolled their eyes. Kasumi didn't even seem to hear their comments at all, and still had her gaze unflinchingly focused on the arena in front of her.
"She's not a piece of meat, you know. She happens to be a friend of ours." Steve was now fixing the two obnoxious guys with a look that seemed a bit uncharacteristic of him – he looked a bit angry.
The bigger man of the two laughed carelessly, "Well your friend is hot, it's a compliment so relax. What are you two getting so bitchy about it for? It's not like I said I was gonna do anything..."
"You were about to," Asuka pointed out, "before we interrupted you."
Steve clenched his gloved fist, "If you insist on speaking about Hitomi like that, be so kind as to do it where I can't hear you, got that?"
The smaller guy shrugged and gave them an annoyed look before turning back to the arena, "Whatever, match is starting anyway. Great, you guys made us miss the other guy's introduction."
Lei turned around this time and planted a fake smile on his face, "Name's Bruce. He's a veteran kickboxer. There, you're all caught up. Now sit back and watch the fight."
The two guys finally decided to shut up at the sight of all three glares being directed towards them and just brought their attention back to the match. When Asuka looked back at the arena she tried scoping out Bruce – it wasn't long till she found him.
He was a big guy – probably around 6'1 if she had to guess then and there. He was pretty muscular but also a bit lean, probably so that he could maintain his stamina for some of the more agile "flying knees" that Muay Thai was also known for.
Bruce was shirtless and was wearing skin-tight blue shorts adorned with flames that reached his mid thighs. He had wraps on both his hands and feet, and around his neck was a strange necklace of some sort. Asuka wondered for a moment why he was still wearing it but shrugged it off.
The Muay Thai fighter's face was completely stoic and arguably as determined as Hitomi's, though it definitely lacked the youthfulness of the German's. Even from their place in the stands, it was clear as day to Asuka that this guy wasn't much younger than her father, though she'd be lying if she said he wasn't in good shape for his age.
"Damn," said Lei as he leaned forward slightly, "he almost looks better than he did 20 years ago." Asuka couldn't help but start feeling a bit nervous at the detective's observation...
...Hitomi was in for quite a match.
"Get ready, fight!"
"I hope you're ready for this, kid."
Hitomi slapped her face twice and gave Bruce a confident smirk, "I'm tougher than I look."
The two slowly started moving around the arena, never keeping their eyes off of each other. Hitomi noticed that Bruce wasn't necessarily advancing on her, just circling the arena as if biding his time. She always liked playing a more defensive role when fighting, specifically because her strikes were powerful but a bit slower than say, Jann Lee's for example.
It didn't matter though, all the German needed from Bruce was an opening before she could capitalize.
And sure enough, the Muay Thai fighter eventually got impatient and lunged at her. Hitomi stood her ground, though she was slightly surprised at how fast he was. As Bruce got closer, the karateka noticed he was beginning to move down into a crouching position. Anticipating an uppercut of some kind, Hitomi brought up her arms quickly in order to guard her face and midsection.
Unfortunately, she guessed wrong.
While waiting for an uppercut that never came, Bruce had instead opted to connect his right foot with her left shin using an extremely powerful low kick. Immediately, the German yelped in pain and subconciously let her guard down as she winced and reached for her leg.
Noticing this, the Muay Thai fighter didn't let up one bit. With that same surprising agility he displayed only moments before, Bruce brought up his elbow in an attempt to land the uppercut Hitomi had been anticipating previously. With only seconds to react, Hitomi thought quickly and stayed crouched down long enough for the elbow to go soaring over her head. As soon as she noticed that he had missed his attack, the German threw out her foot and kicked his abdomen, partly so that she could use the force to roll herself away from Bruce for a couple moments.
She needed to catch her breath after that surprising and aggressive onslaught the man had just displayed.
"...I've never seen so much power in a simple low kick before..." Asuka breathed out slowly.
Hwoarang crossed his arms, "Bruce definitely knows what he's doing. He put her in a position where she was forced to guess if he was going for a low attack or a high one. I would've just sidestepped him, personally."
"He would have caught me with that one too, he only gave her about 3 seconds to react," said Lei matter-of-factly, "I'm surprised she even had time to think to guard at all, even though she guessed wrong."
"Bruce has got pretty long legs anyway," Julia chimed in, "I don't think sidestepping him would be easy. Especially with how quick he can dish out those kicks."
"So what you guys are saying," Asuka began, "is that Tomi's gonna have to start manning up and going on the offensive?"
Steve furrowed his brow and gave the Osakan a weird look, "Tomi?"
Noticing the look her friends were giving her, Asuka noticeably flushed and looked back towards the arena, "We're missing the fight, you guys!"
After creating space between her and Bruce, the pain in Hitomi's leg had somewhat subsided and she was back to prime form in a matter of seconds. Her opponent was watching her again, his expression holding the slightest bit of smugness.
"You got some kick there," began the German with a smile, "but I got you figured out now."
Bruce chuckled a little bit as he got back into his stance, "You got spunk, kid. I like that. It's too bad I'm gonna have to finish you."
As she resumed her own stance Hitomi chose not to say anything and instead advance on Bruce this time. Once she was only a few feet away from him, she suddenly bolted towards the Muay Thai fighter at an incredible pace. Bruce looked slightly surprised but recovered quickly as he went to move into the foreground.
But he moved too quickly.
Hitomi smirked widely as she stopped short – her plan had worked. Bruce sidestepped too early to avoid what he probably thought was going to be a jump kick of sorts, and when nothing happened he looked a little bit disoriented.
That's all I need.
Taking his mere seconds of confusion to capitalize, Hitomi lunged at Bruce again and rocked him with a solid punch right square in the jaw. The force of it was enough to make him stagger a couple feet away in a daze.
"Yeah!" cheered an excited Asuka, "Right square in the teeth!"
Lei rubbed the back of his head awkwardly, "Ouch..."
Steve chuckled as he patted Hwoarang's back, "That was one hell of a hit, eh mate?"
The Korean's eyes widened, "Doesn't look like she's finished yet either."
The Muay Thai fighter shook his head a couple times to try and make his vision clear again. That punch was...unexpected considering the appearance of his opponent. She did look like she knew what she was doing, but Bruce would be lying if he thought she was capable of such a strike. The girl truly was tougher than she looked.
He was about to commend her on that when he suddenly felt a harsh kick connect with his ribs.
Bruce fell backwards and onto his backside. The crowd was cheering pretty loud at this point, and when he looked up he saw the girl standing about a foot away with a cheeky grin plastered on her face.
"Osu," she said politely.
Bruce gritted his teeth as he rose quickly despite the pain, "You..."
Jin stood in the vacant lobby as he watched the fight unfold before him on the big television screen. The Kazama never liked going to watch fights in places like the Arena – solitude was always his preferred environment. This was also the reason why he really wasn't looking forward to his match tonight. He had hoped that Xiao would have been eliminated by someone like Julia or even, dare he say Hwoarang, simply because he knew she would be safe and they wouldn't do unnecessary harm to her.
But him? Not a good choice. And the fact that it was in the Urban Jungle surrounded by what was probably a bunch of no good ruffians was not helping the situation. Jin of course wouldn't try to do unnecessary harm to Xiao but...well after a few recent events he wasn't so sure if he would be able to control it.
No, he thought to himself, it is not an option to give in. Not against her.
He turned around and came face to face with the very person he was worried about. She looked extremely tired, like she hadn't got much sleep last night. No doubt this was because of him.
He nodded slowly, "Xiao."
The girl sighed as she looked towards the ground, "So...you saw your match-up right?"
Again, Jin nodded but this time stayed silent.
Suddenly Xiaoyu looked up at her friend and put her hands on her hips, "I'm not losing, y'know."
The Kazama crossed his arms and looked away from her, "Please leave this place, Xiao."
"Stop saying that to me!"
Jin looked up at Xiao in slight surprise. It wasn't like her to raise her voice like that out of nowhere...well maybe it was like her, but not with him. She had her fists clenched and was glaring at him now. Jin sighed.
"I'm not a little girl! Why do you have to always treat me like one? You've seen me fight before, and you went to school with me AND we lived together for a year! How can you still treat me like...like your little sister?!"
Because you'll be in danger if I let you in...
The two friends just stared at each other for what seemed like hours. Jin's face was passive and emotionless as usual, but upon closer inspection it had the slightest trace of hurt in them. Xiao on the other hand, was having a tougher time concealing her pain. Her eyes were welling up and she was rubbing them furiously to try to make them disappear.
"I must go," said Jin simply, "I hope I do not see you tonight, Xiao."
As he walked away, the Kazama inwardly cursed himself for how the last sentence sounded. He didn't mean it like that...he just wanted her to be safe...
Xiaoyu didn't say anything as he left her. She just stood there as the television blared throughout the lobby and cried silently.
Back and forth, the two fighters relentlessly combated with each other. Bruce had since dropped his smug demeanor and was lunging towards Hitomi every chance he got. He was successful in some of their clashes, knocking the German off her feet each time he won a scuffle, but every single time Hitomi got right back up and they were at it again.
Where is this girl getting the stamina to keep up with me?
He had truly given her everything he had...punches, kicks, elbows, knees, even a couple throws...but he was only minimally successful with each attack.
After a half-hour had passed, both fighters were extremely exhausted but refused to stay down. Getting up slowly, Bruce regarded Hitomi with a serious, but tired expression.
"Why won't you stay down?"
"Can't lose," replied Hitomi simply as she got back into her stance, "not to you."
Bruce clenched his fist and glared at the German, "We'll see, kid."
For her part, Hitomi was utterly exhausted. This guy had definitely proven to be a handful. The only other Muay Thai fighter she knew was Zack, and he had absolutely nothing on Bruce. Still, she knew going in that she wasn't going to lose.
She simply couldn't allow herself to; not until either her or Asuka beat Feng Wei to a pulp. If she lost before that, she would never be able to forgive herself.
I gotta finish this now.
As soon as she had finished her thought, Bruce was suddenly running towards her full speed , somehow having gained a second wind despite their completely draining battle so far. Narrowing her eyes, the German waited patiently as Bruce began deciding what to do. She cursed herself for doing so, as she saw him once again get into that same crouching position – the same way he had started the match.
Rearing her fist back, Hitomi waited a couple more seconds as Bruce began getting closer...
Not this time, Bruce. Wait for it...
Bruce was less then a foot away now. A few more seconds and she could be finished...
Rearing her fist back just a bit more, everything went quiet in Hitomi's head despite the deafening screams of the crowd. Bruce just needed to lift his arms up a little bit and...
"Time to end this!"
With a mighty shout Hitomi finally let loose her Fujin punch and connected once again with Bruce's ribs. It was the strongest technique in her arsenal, taught to both her and Ein only a couple of years ago by her father. She rarely used it in battle, only using it twice in the last tournament due to how incredibly draining it was to do.
Yet somehow, Hitomi forced herself to stay on her feet long enough to see if Bruce would get up.
He had rolled away across almost the entirety of the arena, stopping just a few feet away from one of those unforgiving walls. The crowd was deathly silent after the punch. After her opponent had stopped rolling, he didn't make a sound, nor did even move at all.
She had thought she had felt his ribs crack under the force of her strike, but she could be wrong. It all happened so fast that it was impossible to tell. And then...
"Bruce Irvin appears to be knocked out. The winner is: Hitomi Heinrich!"
The crowd, having gone completely quiet after her Fujin hit the Muay Thai fighter, once again started cheering wildly. Everything from claps, whistles and obscenities were being fired from all directions. Hitomi sighed in both exhaustion and relief, then grinned widely as she waved to the crowd enthusiastically despite how she felt.
"SHE DID IT!" yelled Asuka excitedly as she and her friends shot up from their chairs with the rest of the crowd.
"Wow..." was the only thing Hwoarang could say, and the Osakan was secretly glad someone actually impressed him for once and shut his trap.
Lei was chuckling to himself as he cheered along with them. If he had any suspicions about Hitomi's fighting prowess beforehand, they were just thrown out the window.
She truly is the daughter of Joachim Heinrich.
Steve on the other hand was a bit more reserved then his friends, though he couldn't keep the wide grin off of his face. The girl's strength that he just witnessed happened to be yet another quality about her that he was finding positively endearing. Secretly, the Brit started to become worried about his promise to Asuka...
...this cheerful German girl was beginning to find a way into his heart, and he kind of wanted to let her in.
Heihachi sat on the floor inside the vacant house he had found a couple miles down from where he landed a week ago. His large palms were resting on his knees and he was concentrating deeply.
The explosion had certainly taken it's toll on the man. A small part of him wanted to just go to a hospital and annouce his survival, but that would cause many unnecessary problems for him. Not to mention the fact that he was a Mishima, and Mishimas accepting help from others was a laughable notion.
No...he would recuperate himself. He had done so before after Kazuya threw him down that cliff at the conclusion of the first tournament. The same cliff that he himself had thrown his son off of when he was still a puny little runt...
...which is pretty much how Heihachi still saw Kazuya to this day.
The Mishima forced himself to stand up and get into his stance. Closing his eyes for a moment, he clenched his fist and concentrated deeply. Soon enough, electricity began to engulf his right forearm and wrist, and despite the terrible pain he was in, he unleashed a truly fearsome Electric Wind God Fist. Despite how tired the maneuver made him, Heihachi had to smile at the fact that he could still pull off his most feared signature move despite his current condition.
No matter what kind of injuries he sustained, if he could walk Heihachi had no problems bringing himself back up to top shape. Even if the last time he did this was over 20 years ago...
...but of course, the man always considered himself living proof that age was but a number.
And it was only a matter of days until he solidified that fact.
Hitomi sat in the locker room behind the arena, still clad in her now dirt and sweat covered karate gi. Glancing at herself in the mirror she had to laugh...she was a complete mess. Bruce had really done a number on her.
She had a couple cuts and scrapes on her arms and face, but what really stuck out was a nasty bruise that was starting to form right smack on top of her left eye. She laughed again – that wouldn't look good in a few hours.
The German turned around and was surprised when Asuka all but tackled her with a fierce hug while the rest of her friends watched with amusement. She noticed however, that Kasumi wasn't present.
"We saw the fight! You were great!"
The karateka chuckled as her friend still had her in her grasp, "Thanks, Asuka, but I can't breathe..."
The Osakan let go and grew red in the face while looking down, "Right, sorry. Good job though, seriously."
Hwoarang walked up to the older girl and gave her a solid pat on the back, "You sure kicked his ass."
"Not to mention that punch at the end!" exclaimed Julia with a big smile, "I think we all felt it from the stands."
"Bloody brilliant," said Steve crossing his arms.
Hitomi blushed, "You guys..."
"Anyway," began Lei, "we ought to head back upstairs and wait for Hitomi before grabbing lunch. Hwoarang's match is the next in our group here and it's only at 1 so we have time."
"Yeah, you could really use a shower," Asuka teased.
The German flashed her friend a grin, "Don't start with me, Strawberry."
The Kazama girl huffed and turned to head upstairs, "Damn it!"
Hitomi smiled as the rest of her friends followed her, laughing all the while. Before she turned to get cleaned up, she noticed Steve was still in the doorway. He had an odd expression on his face.
Her voice seemed to break the Brit out of whatever trance he was just in and he scratched the back of his head a bit awkwardly.
"Oh, nothing...you did really great out there, Hitomi. Absolutely fantastic."
Hitomi looked away, feeling her face get warm, "Um...thanks."
Steve suddenly cleared his throat, "Well then, better catch up to the others. See ya in a bit."
The German smiled and nodded as he left. When he was gone Hitomi placed her palm on her chest and felt her heartbeat. It's rhythm was steady, but it was definitely elevated and her chest in general felt a whole lot warmer. There was a silly little grin on her face as she finally made her way towards the showers.
Hitomi hadn't experienced this feeling in quite a while...and she kinda liked it.
A/N: Update time! I figured it was about time to add some more drama to this story, but remember there are a lot of characters to consider with this particular one so it might take a couple more chapters. I hope you'll stick with me as more things start to unfold! And remember of course to review!