Chapter 4: Workout
Craig Marduk tossed and turned in his bed for what seemed like hours. As he heard the sounds of boots walking by just outside his door, he used his pillow to muffle his ears as if the sounds were a lot louder than they actually had been. He turned over once again so he would be able to look out his window onto the star filled sky. After several long moments, he turned back over and glanced at the clock on the nightstand. 'Great' only 1:30 in the morning.' he muttered to himself.
Ever since the incident with Armor King, Marduk had been unable to consistently get a good nights rest. Often, he found himself lying awake for hours at a time. At first, he had believed it was just due to the fact that the prison beds were extremely uncomfortable. But even after he had been released, the problem continued. Though the thing was, the accommodations at the Zaibatsu were excellent., much like those of a five star hotel. Never had he been in such a comfortable bed, even during his travels on the Val Tudo circuit. Marduk would have a hard time parting with what he had now, even if he had a home to return to. Though Heihachi was an evil bastard, Marduk had to admit that he treated his valued employees very well.
Craig reached over near his alarm clock, and grabbed the television remote. After a few moments of fumbling around in the dark, his finger finally found the power button. When the television snapped on, the first thing Marduk saw was some sort of commercial starring none other than Heihachi Mishima. Craig was not sure what bullshit cover story Heihachi was using to hide his Zaibatsu's criminal activity, and quite frankly, he could give a damn. 'Wow' television sure is lousy these days.' Craig muttered. He began flipping through the channels without even knowing what he was looking for. After about three minutes of channel surfing, something caught his interest.
The program itself was not what interested him, but rather, what was happening on the show itself is what caught his eye. Marduk had stumbled upon some sort of exercise program, which gave him the sudden urge to get out of bed and take a trip to the gym. For one reason or another, Marduk always used a good workout as an excuse to clear his mind. Since the incident in the bar, Marduk found himself training more and more just as an escape from reality.
Marduk reached over and flipped the light switch, and then shielded his eyes momentarily as the room was illuminated. After turning off the television, he slipped out of bed and made his way over to the dresser. He grabbed a white shirt and put it on, then searched the bottom drawer for a pair of sweatpants. After slipping those on, he grabbed his boots and put them on his feet. Marduk then grabbed his keys and went out the door, forgetting to turn off the lights as he did so.
Craig locket the door to his room, and took off in a sprint toward the elevator at the far end of the hall. Since it was pretty late, the hallways of the Zaibatsu were mostly empty, save for the occasional guard on patrol. Marduk hit the elevator button, and hopped inside when it arrived. Once inside, he studied the map on the back wall a few moments. According to what he saw, the Zaibatsu actually had two separate gyms. The first one was on one of the higher levels of the building, and was in fact, Heihachi's personal gym. The second one was located on the fourth floor, and was used as a training center for the security guards. Marduk was pretty sure that Heihachi's gym would be off limits to all except Heihachi, so Marduk returned to the control panel and hit the button for the fourth floor.
Upon arrival, Craig stepped out of the elevator and started heading down the hallway. According to one of the signs he passed by, to get to the training center, he had to go down the hallway he was on and take a left at the next junction. Luckily for Marduk, the Zaibatsu still left some lights on this late at night. If he had not seen that sign, it might have taken him hours to find where he was going in a building as large as the Zaibatsu was. He continued to walk till he found the junction, and then hung a left at it. From there it was easy, since the training center was the only door at the end of the long hallway.
When he arrived at the doorway, he noticed that someone had left the lights on in the training center. He found this particularly odd, since all the other rooms on the fourth floor had been dark inside. Perhaps one of the guards had still been awake and decided to have a late night workout' Either way, Craig would find soon enough. As Marduk pushed the door open, what he found managed to amaze him. Even with a man as wealthy as Heihachi was, Marduk never expected the gym to be as large as it actually was. Smack dab in the middle, was what appeared to be a sparring ring. The ring itself even larger than the ones used in the King of Iron Fist tournaments. This was only one room of several, however. There were separate areas for lifting weights, and even a room used just for treadmills.
While Marduk was busy admiring his surrounds, a sudden noise caught his attention. It sounded to him as if someone was working with a very large punching bag. He could tell the noise was coming from one of the rooms on the right, but he was unable to look inside from where he was standing. Marduk decided he would try and get a closer look, so he quietly made his way over to the doorway. When he looked inside, he found a familiar person fighting with one of the larger punching bags in the far corner of the room. Though she had her face hidden, the mask she wore gave her identity away almost immediately. The person he saw was that mysterious woman who had been in the board room during the incident a few days earlier. She was the one known as the Fox Thief, Kunimitsu.
As he watched her, he was amazed at what he saw. Her technique was flawless, even if she was only fighting an inanimate object. For one reason of another, Craig had the sudden urge to challenge this woman to a fight. If there was something he enjoyed even more than a good workout, it was getting the chance to fight with a worthy opponent.
Marduk slowly approached her, wondering if she had taken notice to his presence yet. His question was answered only a second later, as she stopped kicking the bag and turned her head toward his. He nodded toward her to show that he meant no harm. After a moment of awkward silence, he opened his mouth and said the first thing that came to his mind, 'Nice moves.'
Kunimitsu just stood there motionless, staring coldly at the man. She was not much of a conversationalist, and she was not about to start trying. Kuni kept her hand close to the knife tucked into her belt, for she was not yet sure of what the man's true intentions were. She had heard of this man before, and knew what he was capable of. She was certain his name was Craig Marduk, a former Val Tudo champion and a convicted murderer as well. Normally, she would not kill an opponent without just cause. For this man, however, she was willing to make an exception.
'How 'bout it babe, care for some one on one?' Marduk asked in an arrogant tone of voice.
Kunimitsu looked at the man a little while longer, and then sighed. 'Your funeral...' she replied without a hint of emotion in her voice. Though fighting a murderer would be dangerous, she had never backed down from anyone in her entire life. Plus, after over 20 years of cryosleep, a good fight was just what she needed to get back on top of her game. If she would be able to defeat Marduk, she would at least regain some of the confidence she lost during her last battle with Yoshimitsu.
Marduk nodded toward her, and then headed out to the sparring area. 'Shall we?' he asked, while turning back to face her once again. He waited until she nodded in reply, and then turned around towards the door once again. Craig continued out into the next room, followed silently by Kunimitsu. He moved over to the right side of the ring, and waited for his opponent to take her place on the other side. Once Kunimitsu was facing him, he bowed toward her and stepped back into his fighting stance. Being a former Val Tudo champion, he had faced all types of fighters before. However, never in his life had an opportunity to fight a true ninja, so he really had no idea what to expect. Though he was going into this fight blindly, he was confident that he would be able to defeat her as long as he avoided her knife slashes.
Kunimitsu did some last minute stretching, before she got into her stance. In her mind, she knew the only way she was going to win this battle was with shear speed. The man in front of her was almost the size of a tank. Not only did he have the advantage in overall power, but he also had a much longer reach than she had. Kunimitsu stood at about 5'7, whereas she estimated her opponent to be about 6'5 and made completely of muscle. If anything, she hoped the man was as dimwitted as he looked.
After she made her bow to signify she was ready, Kunimitsu wasted no time in charging directly at her opponent. She felt trying to catch her opponent off guard was the best chance she had. Her plan had worked, and Marduk had left himself wide open for her attack. She went low, sending a punch from her knife hand aimed directly at his stomach. When her fist connected, it felt like she had punched a brick wall. Her attack had almost the opposite effect as what she had planned. Rather than Marduk writhing in pain, he remained largely unaffected while her hand now hurt like hell.
Marduk had spent too much time gawking at the speed of this woman, and it had cost him. He had let his guard down, and she was able to quickly take advantage. Her shot however, hardly even managed to faze him. He even noticed that it had backfired on her, causing her to hurt her hand instead of him stomach. Marduk decided to end the fight in one blow, rather than drag it out longer than necessary. He pulled his right arm back, and sent the hardest punch he could muster, directly at the mask on her face. However, he was shocked once again when she managed to jump completely over his arm. In mid air, she countered with a kick from her left leg to his head. 'SHIT!' was all he managed to yell, as her boot connected with his jaw. He was sent reeling off balance, and she managed to land two more punches into his chest before he was able to fully recover.
After landing four straight hits on her opponent, Kunimitsu attempted to sidekick Marduk right in his chest. Unfortunately for her, Craig managed to catch her leg before her kick connected. With one almost effortless tug, Marduk was able to pull her entire body towards his and punch her square in the mouth with his free hand. Kunimitsu fell backwards, but was able to roll away before Marduk had a chance to follow-up his attack. She needed to think of something fast, but she was still dizzy due to Marduk's last attack.
'Not bad.' Marduk remarked, and then began to crack his knuckles. 'But that was just a warm up little lady..' he trailed off. From where he was standing, it looked as if Kunimitsu was still feeling the effects of that shot to the face he had given her earlier. He knew he would have to attack her now, while she was not fully prepared for it. He then charged toward her, quickly closing the gap between the two. As he got to where she was standing, he sent a right hook aimed directly at her head once again. This time, however, she managed to duck under his fist and then thrust her knife forward at his right arm. Though he was able to move out of the way so as not to take the full force of the blade, she still managed to slice the top of his shoulder and tear some of the skin away. Craig winced slightly, as he felt warm blood begin to trickle down his arm. Even through the pain, he managed to bring his knee up and slam it directly into her abdomen. Kunimitsu cried out in pain, nearly collapsing right into his arms. As she did so, Marduk grabbed onto her right arm which was still resting on his shoulder from her earlier knife attack. Once he felt he had a good grip on her arm, he pivoted his entire body to the right and flipped her completely over so that she landed on her back.
As Kunimitsu landed on the ground, she felt the air completely leave her lungs. At the moment, she was in an incredible amount of pain, but she refused to give in. When she looked up, she saw that Marduk intended to bring his foot down directly on her chest. At the last possible moment however, she managed to roll out of the way of his attack. While she was getting up, she kicked her right leg around and swept Marduk's feet right out from under him. He fell to the ground with a thud, and at the same time she managed to jump up onto her feet and back handspring herself out of his attack range.
Marduk managed to get to his feet, just in time to see the ninja flip gracefully away from him, leaving him no opportunity to land another hit on her. Not even a moment later, Kunimitsu dashed back toward Marduk and preformed a cartwheel as soon as she came within a short distance of him. Having not been prepared for such a move, Marduk had no choice but to take the full force of both of her feet as they connected with his head. When Kunimitsu landed, she was no longer facing Marduk, but instead had her back turned to him. Luckily for Craig, he was able to recover while Kunimitsu was still looking away from him. As he attempted to tackle her from behind, however, she back flipped completely overtop of him so that he was now the one looking the wrong way. As he attempted to turn himself around to face her, she landed another kicked to his jaw, this time sending him flat onto his back.
Marduk was able to quickly return to his feet, while at the same time wiping off some of the blood that was now dripping down his lip. 'How can I hit her if she's so damn fast?' he thought to himself. Just then, she attempted to cartwheel towards him once again. This time, however, Marduk was ready for her. At the last moment, he back away only a few inches, causing her to miss him completely. Once again, Kunimitsu attempted to follow up her first attack with a back flip over Marduk's head. As she took to the air this time, Craig reached up and attempted to grab her in mid move. Though he was not able to grab hold of her body, he managed to get a good grip on one of her red pigtails that were hanging down off the back of her head. With one mighty yank, Marduk pulled on her hair causing her to fall to the ground. Kunimitsu cried out in surprise, and let out of loud moan of pain as she hit the floor.
As Kunimitsu laid on her back, she could feel herself slipping in and out of consciousness. 'Is this the end?' she thought to herself. In her mind, she was certain Marduk would not hesitate to finish her off now that she was in such a vulnerable position. She could feel his arms wrap themselves around her neck, and lift her of the ground in some sort of chokehold. All of the air suddenly left her as his grip grew tighter by the moment. Kunimitsu had to think of something fast, for she was as good as dead if she did not escape his grasp. If she had not dropped her knife during the fall, she could just as easily stab him. But since the dagger was to far out of her reach, using it to escape was out of the question. It was then, however, that she had an idea. Slowly, her hand made it's way toward her pants pocket, as if she was trying to reach something. Once she found what she was looking for, she removed the item, making sure Marduk did not take notice. However, just as Kuni was about to use what was in her hand, she suddenly saw nothing but darkness and her entire body went limp.
Marduk continued his sleeper hold on the woman, hoping that it would be enough to get him the victory. Suddenly, Kunimitsu stopped struggling and her body dangled lifelessly in his arms. He knew she was not dead, but he believed that she had finally lost consciousness. Marduk decided he would keep the hold on a few moments longer, just to be on the safe side. Since he was not able to see her face and decipherer if she was truly unconscious or not, he would not take the risk of falling for another one of her tricks. Just as he decided that she had in fact, passed out, Kunimitsu burst back to life somehow. Before Marduk could even realize what happened, she threw some sort of strange powder at his face. The powder not only caused a burning sensation, but also temporarily blinded him as it made contact with his eyes. This time, it was Marduk's turn to scream out in pain.
Kunimitsu could feel the hold around her throat loosening, and this was all the proof she needed to show that her plan had worked. Wasting no time, she lifted both of her legs up and them slammed her feet down as hard as she could, directly into Marduk's groin. The mammoth sized man had no choice but to release his hold on her completely, and then double over in pain. Kunimitsu sat on the floor for several long moments, gasping for air. Once she was able to regain her bearings, she crawled toward where her knife had fallen.
Marduk was still in utter shock, at the resourcefulness of this ninja. At the same time, he was debating which part of him hurt more; his eyes, his groin, or his pride. He began clawing frantically at his face, hoping to wipe some of the powder out of his now irritated eyes. Just as his tears kicked in to flush out the dust, he felt someone sit down on top of his chest. Before he was even able to speak, however, he felt the cold steel blade of a dagger press itself against the soft skin of his throat. 'Wait! You win' I give up..' Craig muttered in defeat.
Kunimitsu quickly stood back up, allowing her opponent to get back onto his feet. From what she could tell, she had delivered a crippling blow to the Marduk's pride. Kuni's intuition told her that he was no longer a threat to her. Always one to have faith in her instincts, she turned her back to Marduk and headed towards the exit. It had been a ruff battle, and she was in no shape to do anymore training at the moment. Once she got to the door, she stopped momentarily but did not turn back to face him. 'Wash your eyes out with water as soon as you get the chance. If you do a thorough job, your vision will return to normal by morning.' she calmly explained to him. When her instructions were finished, Kunimitsu pushed open the door and stepped out into the long hallway.
Once the ninja had left, Marduk fell down onto the floor once again. If anything, the events of the past few months had been a learning experience for him. Back when he was the undefeated champion of the Val Tudo circuit, he always thought of himself as invincible. But now, after having been badly beaten by King, and then losing to a woman, Marduk was beginning to have second about his abilities. If he was to return to his former glory, he would have to train harder than he ever had in his life. First and foremost, however, he would have to go flush out his eyes before he ended up permanently blind. Marduk quickly decided a trip to the infirmary might be wise, not only for his eyes but also for the huge gash in his shoulder. In the past, Marduk never enjoyed having to accept medical attention after a fight. Whenever he injured himself, he always refused help from anyone. However, this time he would have to push his pride aside, because he did not have the proper supplies needed to dress the wound on his own. If he allowed the wound on his shoulder to become infected, he would have a lot more problems then a few little cuts and bruises. He raised himself off the ground, and began his long walk toward the infirmary. With luck, no one would be on duty there at this time of night, leaving him to fix his wounds without interference.
Mishima Zaibatsu - several hours later
Kunimitsu emerged from her bathroom, dressed in a white bathrobe. The clothes she had worn earlier were now lying on her bed, and her knife and mask were set carefully on the dresser. For the past three hours, she had been soaking her body in a tub full of warm water. The bruises she received from Marduk had been extensive, and she was still in a great deal of pain. In fact, once she had left the gym, she had to limp the entire way back. Kunimitsu was still amazed that she even managed to get back to her room without collapsing. She even had to force her way out of the tub, so that she would not turn into a prune. She limped her way over to the a chair in front of her dresser, and the dropped down into it.
Even to this day, she was still shocked at what she saw when she looked into a mirror. In all reality, Kunimitsu's true age was somewhere around 42. She was not certain of this, however, for she lost some of her memories due to the cryosleep. But as she stared into the mirror, the person looking back at her still had the appearance of a 19 year old. She'd been asleep for over 20 years, but she showed no true signs of aging at all. Many people would kill for the opportunity to be in a position similar to her own, but Kunimitsu had mixed feelings about the whole ordeal.
At the moment, she knew almost nothing about herself. Ironically, most of the memories she had lost were the most important ones. She could not remember if she had any parents or siblings, and not even what her true name was. She was certain that she never had a true friend in her entire life, so remembering those names was already out of the question. The memories left to her, were flashes of her days as a Manji member. Most of these images were of her former master, Yoshimitsu. The man who was now her enemy. The man who had caused the predicament she was now in. However, inside, she was struggling with her own emotions. On one side were memories of Yoshimitsu raising her and teaching her everything she now knew about fighting. On the other hand, however, were the memory of the day he tried to kill her for stealing his fabled sword.
How and why she would attempted to take his weapon, had been lost from her mind. Perhaps she had gotten greedy, or maybe there was another force involved. All she could remember now, was that she had stolen the sword and ended up paying the price. Even today, she was still showing the effects of what happened over 20 years ago.
Kunimitsu silently opened her robe, and gazed at the hideous scar she now wore. The scar started just underneath her left breast, and traveled downward in a diagonal motion across her abdomen. It continued down toward the her navel, missing it only by a few inches to the right, and ended just below that. That near fatal blow that caused the scar, was delivered by none other than Yoshimitsu. The weapon he used on her, was the very same sword she had managed to steal. How it ended up in his hands once again, was a mystery in it's own right.
She closed her robe once again, and continued to stare at her reflection in the mirror. All of these conflicting emotions were beginning to tear her apart on the inside. This was the single most important reason why she decided to join up with Heihachi's faction. She had nowhere else to go besides back to the Manji, and if she did that she was not certain what would end up happening. She had not even ruled out the possibility that she would be killed on sight. Kuni had to stay at the Mishima Zaibatsu, at least until she had the chance to figure everything out.
There was always the fact that she was making a little pocket change on the side too. Maybe, if she managed to save up enough, she could buy herself a house somewhere and try to live a normal life. A little interaction with regular people might be good for a change, rather than just keeping herself bottled up in her room like she had been doing for the past few weeks. Though she hadn't thought about it very often, she also had the option of settling down and starting a family of her own one day. However, she had a hard time picturing herself as a wife and a mother. For one reason or another, she always chose solitude over having any sort of companionship with others. More often than not, she found herself communicating with no more than a sentence or two unless it was absolutely necessary. Avoiding others had become a hobby of hers. In fact, she only left her room at night, so that she could eat and train in peace. Having run into Marduk earlier was only dumb luck, something she would try to not repeat in the near future. She decided it was best to worry about that when the time came, though. As for now, she needed some rest.