Path of Endurance chapter 19
Yoshimitsu's ninjas were efficient. Brianna stood at the door frame of the empty vault that had its metallic doors blown into next week. Yoshimitsu and his soldiers had been away from her eyes for what, five minutes? Ten, tops. She heard a door open and close, and saw Wulong coming to next to her to witness the most swift burglary they both had ever seen. Wulong wasn't as astonished, though. He had seen Yoshimitsu's signature before. He scratched his head slightly. "Heihachi's going to kill us..." he muttered. "I can't believe it. I didn't spot Yoshimitsu at all."
Brianna bit her lip. Now what? Give up? "We'll have to find them," Brianna said. "Heihachi will kill Bryan if I don't at least try to capture him."
She lifted up the hem of her skirt to reach the Desert Eagle she had hid beneath it. Wulong enjoyed the view for a brief moment, until Brianna let the hem back down again and loaded her pistol. "I'm going after him."
"You know you're no match for Yoshimitsu," Wulong reminded her. "And even if you found him, how do you convince Heihachi you didn't voluntarily let him go?"
"That's easy," Brianna remarked. "Yoshimitsu will kill me."
She stopped to dwell on her thought for a brief moment, imagining Yoshimitsu's green-glowing sword piercing her heart or striking her head off... oddly enough, she was comfortable with the idea. Or perhaps he would use a more sophisticated measure, such as poisoning her swiftly during their struggle or cutting an important artery. It didn't matter, as long as it was Yoshimitsu.
Wulong, however, objected. "That's plain ridiculous, Brianna!" he cried out. "Come on, think about it! Who would look after Bryan if you died?"
"He's 16. He's able to take care of himself by now."
"Besides, even if you died and 'proved Heihachi you tried', it doesn't mean he would let Bryan go."
"That's where you come in," Brianna turned to face him. "I'm counting on you to get Bryan out of here, and you go do so immediately. Understood?"
With that, Brianna kicked off her high-heels and ran where she thought Yoshimitsu could be headed; the roof. All the entrances of the mansion were guarded; they couldn't escape through those with their newly claimed prize. The roof was the only logical exit. Brianna ran up the stairs leading to the roof, but at the end of it there was a heavy, metal door blocking her way. It was locked tight, and it was too heavy for Brianna to kick open. How on earth could Yoshimitsu have opened it?
Brianna studied the door closer, and noted that the keyhole was old and slightly rusty, but there were scratches all over it. Yoshimitsu had picked the lock. Brianna pulled out the hairpin that was holding her hair up and used it to pick the lock. The lock finally gave in, but it had devastated the makeshift lockpick. Brianna discarded it and opened the door carefully. She saw Yoshimitsu with three of his soldiers standing there, fastening a rope into a rail at the edge of the flat roof. The soldiers took their treasure bags and began descending from the roof. Obviously Yoshimitsu would be the last one to leave the perimeter. Brianna sneaked closer, and when she was about thirty feet from him, she cocked the Desert Eagle. "Freeze."
Yoshimitsu, now unmasked, turned to look at her with his bright green eyes. There was no astonishment, no fear, no aggression in his gaze. He was still and serene even though there was a gun aimed directly in between his eyes. His hand didn't reach for his sword, he wasn't preparing himself for a battle. He knew exactly what was going on ? and he knew Brianna wouldn't shoot him. "I'm sorry," she said. "But I can't let you go."
"May I ask why?" he asked, knowing the answer.
"That bastard Heihachi will kill Bryan if I did," Brianna replied. "I'm begging you, don't let that happen. Bryan means everything to me."
"Your brother is being protected, you may put down your weapon, Brianna," Yoshimitsu told her, but she just shook her head; "I'm sorry, I can't take that chance. You'll have to kill me if you want to leave."
Yoshimitsu sighed, closing his eyes for a brief moment. He took a step closer to Brianna... then another, and another, and another... "Don't come any closer!" Brianna warned, shaking with fear. Yoshimitsu continued walking, until there was an inch between him and the barrel of Brianna's Desert Eagle. He kept staring at her eyes ? eyes that showed everything Brianna felt inside; fear, sadness, anger... the emotions struck her like a wave of an ocean strikes a stone in a shore. He felt sorry for her. He laid his hand over her weapon, then gently but firmly pressed it down. "You wouldn't shoot me," he said softly. "As I wouldn't kill you. You know that, Brianna."
Brianna had a full job in holding back her tears. The weapon dropped down from her hand. She couldn't do this. She just couldn't. She couldn't fight the Hero. She couldn't even think of killing him. After all he had done for her, it would be snowing in hell before she would do anything to harm him. But she felt she had to do something, anything... she would have to fight him. She squeezed her left hand into a fist and prepared herself.
A sudden change in her eyes caught Yoshimitsu's attention. He raised his hand to block her punch just in time. Brianna took a few steps backwards, shifting her herself into her battle stance. "Please, Yoshimitsu..." she begged. "Kill me."
Yoshimitsu's hand reached for the belt that was holding his sword sheathe. He opened its buckle and dropped his sword onto the ground. He had no intention of using it against her. "I'm sorry, Brianna," he said while acquiring his battle stance. "I will make this as painless as I can."
Once close enough, Brianna launched an armada of punches towards Yoshimitsu, who blocked them all with ease. She didn't even intent to hurt him, she just wanted to poke enough to make him kill her. He, however, stayed defensive. Brianna punched, kicked and swept like a maniac, but Yoshimitsu either dodged or blocked every move she made. Finally, when Brianna sent a hard Mach Breaker towards his gut, he parried it and tackled her hard, sending her flying backwards onto the ground. It was her reflex that got her up immediately, only to drop down again when Yoshimitsu swept her off her feet. "Harder, strike me harder!" Brianna screamed in her mind while standing up from the ground. She lunged towards Yoshimitsu, just like she had thrown herself at Heihachi, hoping for a similar result. The result was way less than she had expected; Yoshimitsu guarded himself from the impact, only so Brianna would drop hard down on the ground again. The constant impacts of the ground began to hurt her more than whatever strikes she received from Yoshimitsu. She continued her futile attempts for some time, until Yoshimitsu once again parried her strike. This time he countered with an insanely powerful blow into her stomach, sending her flying through the air onto the ground.
This was where Brianna felt her edge was. There she was, lying on the ground, holding her stomach when she realized she had lost. Not purely intentionally, though. She had tried. But she no longer had the strength to get up from the ground. It was very brilliant tactic Yoshimitsu had used; he let her tire herself before giving the one, finishing blow. Brianna admired his skill and wisdom he had showed her. It was an honor to be defeated by him.
Yoshimitsu crouched down beside her. His human hand caressed her face, and he gently lifted her up from the cold ground. "You got me," Brianna whispered. "Do what you have to do. I'm ready."
Yoshimitsu sighed. He held Brianna in his arms, letting her head rest towards his chest. They stared at each other for a while. Brianna enjoyed sinking into his hypnotic eyes, just admiring their exceptional color... but suddenly she realized that he was lifting her head closer to his. His mechanical hand ran through her hair once or twice, before lifting gently her chin up a bit. Finally he laid his lips on hers, kissing her. At first, it was gentle, as if she had been something so fragile he was afraid he might break. What Brianna failed to note was that he pulled a needle from his pocket. It was when the needle sank into her neck she noted it. She tried to move, but Yoshimitsu tightened both his hold and his kiss. The gentle peck became a passionate kiss, and it lasted until Yoshimitsu pulled out the empty needle from her neck and put it back in his pocket. A tear ran down Brianna's cheek. She had said she was ready... she truly had believed she was, but now when she thought her death had been sealed... she wasn't so sure any more. She was thankful that Yoshimitsu had hid his finishing blow into a loving kiss, but she couldn't help herself from crying.
But suddenly, Yoshimitsu dried the tear off her cheek and laid another kiss, this time on her forehead. "You know I wouldn't kill you," he whispered. "It wasn't poison, it was anaesthetic. You will sleep for a few hours. And as for your brother, I ordered my men to get him out of Heihachi's reach. He is safe."
A great relief shot through Brianna's mind ? of course, why hadn't she thought of it? Losing to Yoshimitsu didn't necessarily mean dying on the spot. She enjoyed the sleepiness that began slowly taking over her body, but even more she enjoyed feeling Yoshimitsu caressing her hair. He was still holding her in his arms; apparently his idea was he would leave only after she had fallen asleep. That made Brianna struggle against the anaesthetic; she wanted to be there as long as she could. She knew that once she would close her eyes, she would never see him again. But perhaps it would be better that way.
Before long, Brianna's eyes closed and her body relaxed. Yoshimitsu laid her carefully on the ground, making sure she would be as comfortably as possible. He hated to leave her there like that, but he knew someone would come get her soon. He stood up, picked up his sword and grabbed the rope that was still fastened into the rail. He took one, last look at Brianna before descending and escaping with the rest of his men.
Some time later, Bryan awoke in the moving van. He sat up, holding his slightly aching head. At first he couldn't remember what happened, but it all came back in flashes. Had he been hijacked!?
He turned slightly, and saw Yoshimitsu observing him. He remembered his face, even though it had been seven years. "Y... you!" he exclaimed. "It's you, isn't it?"
"What's going on? Where are you taking me?"
It was simple, direct. It left no questions about their destination unanswered.
"Where's Sis?" Bryan asked.
"Don't worry," Yoshimitsu replied. "In all probability, she will be taken to a nearby hospital, where they realize she is alright. Then she will be sent home."
"To a hospital!?" Bryan cried out. "What the hell did you do to her!?"
Bryan was about to leap up, but he realized he had been tied up, "What the... untie me!"
"I'm sorry, but you do realize we cannot take any risks while we're on enemy territory," Yoshimitsu apologized. "And as for your question, I had to fake her knock-out to assure Heihachi she really tried to get me. Like I said, she will be fine."
Bryan calmed down a little. There was something reassuring in this man. He was still like a mountain. Bryan took a deep breath and decided to go along ? it wasn't as if he had many options. Yoshimitsu leaned on the back of his seat, watching the changing scenery through the wind shield. "How much longer 'till Detroit?" Bryan inquired.
"About twenty minutes," Yoshimitsu replied, keeping his eyes where they were. Either he was staring at the highway or he was looking into infinity. Bryan stared at the sword he had. He couldn't point a finger at it, but he felt there was something strange in the sword. As if the sword hadn't been 'something' but 'someone'. He stared at its decorated sheathe and hilt; it looked like it was hundreds of years old. Bryan couldn't help but wonder how many villains had died by its blade.
Noticing the boy's curiosity, Yoshimitsu took the sword carefully out of its sheathe. Now Bryan saw it clearly; the blade had a spooky, green aura surrounding it ? a color identical to Yoshimitsu's eyes. The sword was in perfect shape despite its old age; there were no stains or scratches in the blade and all the decorating were intact. It shined like it had been just polished. Bryan came soon into conclusion this sword was part of Yoshimitsu's soul.
Or perhaps it was the other way around? Who knows.
"Do you like it?" Yoshimitsu asked.
"I ain't seen anything like it," Bryan replied. "Where'd you get it?"
"It has been handed over in our family for many generations," Yoshimitsu said, sheathing the sword again. "From Clan leader to Clan leader. From father to son. I received it when I became the leader of the Clan, and my son will receive it after he becomes the leader."
The guy that looked like Bryan chuckled at the front seat. "At this rate, it's my little sister that's going to inherit the sword," he hollered. He sounded cheery, despite what he had just said. Yoshimitsu's lips curved into an amused smile while his son turned to look at Bryan. "Seriously... the girl is seven and she whooped me up 900 ? 0," he laughed. "She's so good she's scary!"
Wulong rushed up the same stairs Brianna had ascended before. Heihachi ran right beside him, with a few of his thugs with him. He opened to door with a key, and as the door was even slightly open, Wulong rushed outside to the roof. "Fury!" he shouted. "Brianna! Where are you!?"
Brianna lay peacefully on the ground, in the deepest dream she had ever had. She remained still even when Lei checked her vital signs and tried to shake her awake. Heihachi used his radio phone to contact his thugs if they had seen any signs of the Manji Clan members. None. They had disappeared into thin air; the only evidences they were ever there were the empty vault and unconscious Brianna. Heihachi laid a homicidal glare on Brianna, and before Lei was able to stop him, he kicked Brianna hard into her gut, swearing in Japanese. "Stop that!" Wulong cried out. "It wasn't her fault! You know she didn't stand a chance against Yoshimitsu!"
"Excuses, excuses..." Heihachi growled, and turned to his thugs. "Get that boy, and make sure he knows what will be waiting for him."
Suddenly, the thugs looked at each other with scared faces. "Sir, I don't know how to tell you this..." one of the staggered. "The boy has disappeared. He's nowhere to be found."
At the same time, Lei noted the neat scar made by the needle in Brianna's neck. It all became very clear to him; it had all been a brilliant scheme that Yoshimitsu had arranged. Not only he had managed to fool the Interpol, he had also fooled the whole Zaibatsu. He had delivered Bryan into safety before taking on their mission and Brianna, and he had ensured that both of the siblings survive the trap Heihachi had landed on all of them. Lei couldn't help but chuckle ? the enemy of his enemy obviously was his friend.
While Heihachi cursed out loud his failed plan, Wulong swiftly picked Brianna up into his arms and carried her all the way into his car. Due to her epilepsy, he didn't afford to take her into a hospital ? not that it would have cost him anything, since this happened on-duty, but he grimaced when only thinking about Brianna's mood after she would find out. The best solution he thought was to take her home.
The Manji Clan's van stopped near Brianna's apartment. Yoshimitsu took a knife from his pocket and cut the ropes around Bryan. The boy stretched in relief when he got his arms moving again. "Take care," Yoshimitsu said. Bryan, to even his own amazement, smiled widely. "Yeah... you too," he replied. The rear doors of the van opened up, letting Bryan out into the chilly evening air. The doors closed and the van left. Bryan stared after them for a while before escaping the cold breeze into the house.
A few hours later Bryan was sitting at his desk, earphones playing background music for him while he was working on his demo. It was his lifetime want to become a professional rap artist, and if he could make a demo good enough to get his music into the radio and if he could gather name for himself from the battles at The Cage, the lift-off into stardom would be easy.
But now, he couldn't concentrate. Every time he had did something significant, he had stared at Sis. Even yesterday, when he worked on the demo for the previous time, he had constantly feasted his eyes on her. She had done nothing significant; she had read a book in her bed, every now and then feeling his eyes on her and responding into the staring with a warm smile. Now, Sis wasn't there, and Bryan was no longer sure when she would return.
When a few more hours passed, he heard a car closing up. He raced to a window to see outside, and was relieved to see Lei Wulong carrying Brianna home. Bryan opened up the door for them and helped Lei to wrap a warm blanket around Brianna. He laid her on her bed and made sure she was as comfortably as possible. "She should awake any moment now, I think," Lei assured. "She was tranquillized with some sort of anaesthetic drug and she would be perfectly unharmed, hadn't Heihachi decided to take his anger out and kick her in the guts. She may have a few ribs broken. Do you have any bandages?"
"Dunno," Bryan replied. "I'll go get a look."
Bryan left the room in a hurry. While he was gone, Brianna shifted slightly and moaned the pain in her guts. Lei caressed her hair carefully, and was surprised to hear her calling out Yoshimitsu's name. Could it really be that this strange ninja had melted the ice queen's heart? Bloody Brianna apparently had an emotional side in her, as well.
Brianna forced her eyes open, in hope of seeing the Hero one, last time. Instead, she saw the ceiling of her own home, and the worried face of Lei Wulong. "Oh... hey," she staggered.
"Hey," Wulong replied.
"We did. You, myself and Bryan are safe, the Manji Clan got away and Heihachi was left with a new, empty room."
Brianna smiled the feeling of relief she felt, letting her head rest deeper into her pillow. Everything had turned out okay after all, and it was all thanks to Yoshimitsu and his Clan. She owed it everything to him, and that moment she made a pledge to continue protecting her Hero with all the possible ways she could.