I'd like to thank you all for your patience with me.
The Staff of Ogre
Chapter 8: The Heart of a Champion
Mishima Zaibatsu Ballroom
Things had suddenly gone terribly wrong. One moment, Marduk had been dieing of boredom and the next he had witnessed a man transform himself into some sort of devil creature and now there were several guns pointed toward him and the rest of the party guests. It was becoming apparent that he should have just stayed home today. Not only had he been shot down by many of the women at the party, but now he was going to be literally shot down if he didn't do something fast. One thing he noticed about Heihachi and his minions was that it was best just to keep your mouth shut at times like this. Agreeing with Heihachi was one way to ensure you'd live longer.
The muffled sound of distant gunfire ended the standoff between the Heihachi's guards and the party guests. Some began to scream as the entire building was shaken with the sound of an explosion. Even as some of the people ran away for their lives, Heihachi seemed to remain calm as if nothing was even happening. Marduk was beginning to become a little uneasy himself. Perhaps that large scale assault against Heihachi that the guards had been warned about was finally happening. Marduk smiled at the thought of it. 'About time I get to earn my pay?' He muttered under his breath.
'Marduk, get ready?' Lee remarked as he strolled up toward him. 'This might be the moment we've been preparing you for.' Lee casually began to remove his tuxedo jacket and roll up the sleeves of his shirt. It wasn't as if he hadn't fought someone in formal attire before, he just happened to like this tuxedo.
'Who do you think they are' And how many of them are there?' Marduk questioned. Though he was not scared, he didn't want to foolishly rush into a battle that could possibly get him killed.
'I really have no clue' Heihachi picked one hell of a time to hold a ball?' Lee glanced back toward his father. From the look on Heihachi's face, it was obvious that he wasn't in the least bit worried. If that was the case then maybe he didn't even have to soil his new dinner gloves today.
Marduk could do nothing but nod his head in reply. Things probably were for the best this way though. At least the attack had put an end to the boring ball he'd been forced to attend. He was suddenly startled as another explosion rocked the entire building. 'What the fu?'
Kunimitsu continued to look up at the night sky. She smiled underneath her mask, enjoying the peacefulness of this secluded part of the building. It was moments like this where she could finally take her mind off of all of her troubles. Even if it would last only for a brief few minutes, at least she didn't have to think about the past and the mistakes she had made. She removed her mask and set it on the large railing in front of her. As a cool burst of air hit her face, she subconsciously pulled Marduk's oversized coat tightly around her.
The serenity of the moment has shattered by a sudden shockwave which snapped her out of her daydreaming. She knew this could only mean one thing, the Zaibatsu was under attack. Kunimitsu lifted up the leg of her dress just long enough to remove her kunai from its concealed sheath. After throwing on her mask, she ran back out into the ballroom, headed directly for Lee and Marduk. She caught glimpses of the armed guards and the broken windows throughout the room, but she decided to ignore them for now.
'What's going on' Is it Yoshimitsu?' She demanded. This was the worst possible time for her to be caught in such a ridiculous outfit. She could just see the look on Yoshimitsu's face when she showed up to take her revenge in a gown. One thing was for certain, she'd never wear a dress again as long as she lived.
Lee looked toward the kunoichi and shrugged his shoulders. 'Actually, we were just asking ourselves the same thing. I think Heihachi must know though. Let's wait to see what he says.' Lee paused momentarily as he looked over her. 'Oh and before you rush out, you might want to go change your clothes. I don't see you defeating him dressed like that. Unless, of course, you just want to take your dress off and fight him in nothing at all?' He snidely remarked.
Kunimitsu shot him a glare which could scare even the bravest of men. She almost considered forgetting Yoshimitsu and just using her dagger on him instead. No wonder everyone seemed to think that Lee was nothing but a prick.
Marduk looked toward Kunimitsu and smiled. 'Hey! If it is this Yoshi'whatever guy, you want us to get your back?'
'I don't need any help from you!' She shot back coldly.
'Fine, fine' Sorry I asked!' Marduk replied while waving his hands in a sign of peace. 'But hey, don't come crying to us if he kicks your ass?'
'You might as well just let us men handle things for now. We wouldn't want to see you get hurt.' Lee remarked jokingly. He jumped back a few inches after Kunimitsu removed the tuxedo jacket and threw it at Marduk. After she stormed off, Lee turned his head to look at the man. 'She's moody today?'
Marduk laughed loudly and slipped his jacket back on. 'Hey, I warned you earlier to watch out for her. We really have to learn to just shut up at times like this.' Marduk crossed his arms. 'Anyway, do you think it's safe for us to just stand around blabbing like this?'
Lee shrugged his shoulders, 'Who do we have to worry about more; the intruder or Heihachi?' Lee looked grimly toward his transformed father once more. If he had known that Heihachi would have actually achieved his crazy goals, he would have never joined up with him in the first place. 'Despite my Combot guards not yet being online, none of the soldiers seem too concerned with what's going on. My suggestion is to just wait patiently for now until we get more information.' Lee looked past Marduk momentarily. 'Oh and now is the best time to go apologize to our friend over there. We need her on board to help watch our backs for us.'
After taking a deep breath, Marduk turned to look at Kunimitsu. 'Why does it have to be me' It's so hard to get through to that woman?' He sighed heavily. 'Fine, I'll take the brunt of it for you even though it's mainly your fault. He moved slowly away after getting one last smile of encouragement from Chaolan.
Kunimitsu looked back toward Lee and Craig once more, wondering if she had been a little too harsh. She did tend to become a little edgy at times, and her people skills could definitely use a little work. She wasn't surprised at all when she noticed Marduk walking her way yet again. From the look on his face it was pretty obvious that Lee put him up to it. He was probably going to try some halfhearted apology so she'd join their little group. It might be the best thing too. She wasn't blind; she'd already seen the shocking transformation Heihachi had undergone. As terrifying as it was, she'd known it was coming. It was pretty easy for her to keep tabs on everyone around the entire complex given the stupidity of Heihachi's security force. A very small part of her was frightened for what might happen to anyone who got in his way. Despite all of her flaws, she still wasn't heartless. If Heihachi and his company needed to be stopped, there was no way she could do it alone.
'What's with this silence?' Marduk cut in. 'All the guests are getting pretty edgy. Is Heihachi going to kill us or is he going to at least let us in on what's going on?' He paused to look down at his jacket. 'I hope he honestly doesn't expect us to jump right into the battle after making us buy these expensive outfits for his little party!'
'I stole mine.' Kunimitsu remarked bluntly. She wasn't going to lie to the man; she was a thief after all.
Marduk stared blankly at her for several long moments. 'Um' Ok then' I guess you don't have to worry, but I actually planned to return mine when this was done.' He tilted his head around to look at her neck. 'Did you steal that pendent you're wearing too?'
'What' This?' Kunimitsu took hold of the necklace and began to play with it between her fingers. 'Yoshimitsu gave this to me.'
Craig continued to look puzzled. 'This Yoshimitsu guy' Were you two lovers?'
She literally scoffed after hearing him ask such a question. 'Of course not! Yoshimitsu was once like a father to me. I never knew my real parents, but he practically raised me as his own.' She continued to look down at the jade pendent. 'He gave me this when I was awarded the title of Mitsu. That is the highest honor you can receive in our clan. When he gave it to me, he said it was to signify me becoming a woman.' She paused due to the difficulty of reliving things like this. 'Before that, he'd always just call me 'little kitsune' instead of using Kuni.'
'Kitsune?' Marduk questioned.
'Yes, it means fox. It was my favorite animal and what I chose to associate myself with.' Kunimitsu smiled to herself. 'I'll never forget when he told me that he picked this particular jewel because it matched my beautiful eyes.' She paused for a second to reflect on the bits and pieces of her memory. 'It's funny how I can only remember things associated with him yet nothing else, not what his face looks like nor even about my own past. I guess I shouldn't be too surprised though. Yoshimitsu taught me everything from how to fight to the English language?' She knew deep in her heart that she had so many things she wanted to ask him. It was never clear to her why she was the only one in the clan with bright red hair and green eyes. Yoshimitsu never told her why she looked the way she did, and why all the other villagers mocked and hated her for it. Little things like that continued to haunt her every night when she went to sleep. She couldn't even tell what dreams were real and what were not.
Marduk continued to silently nod his head. It was obvious this girl had a lot on her mind and she had been desperate to find someone to tell this to. She'd been through so much already at such a young age while keeping all her feelings bottled away. What she really needed was a psychiatrist. 'Well, I may be no Dr. Phil?'
'Who?' Kunimitsu interrupted.
He stared at her blankly again. 'You know, the guy on television who solves everyone's problems?'
'I don't watch television.' She remarked.
Marduk rolled his eyes. 'What do you do for fun then?'
Kunimitsu looked toward him. 'I build air conditioners.'
'Whatever' Forget I asked?' He put his fingers over his eyes and began to shake his head. 'Anyway, what I am trying to say is I think you really just want to prove yourself to this Yoshimitsu guy. It seems to me that you'd be better off making peace with him rather than killing him.'
'Nonsense! That's foolish of you to say.' Kunimitsu clenched her fist tightly. 'I will be the one to end his life!' Deep down though, his words were already beginning to haunt her. She knew there could be some truth to what he said, but her heart wouldn't allow her to accept it. Thoughts of revenge were the only things keeping her going anymore. 'Whatever, I don't even know why I am telling you any of this.' She thought about it more. Why was she revealing so much about herself to another person' Was she beginning to trust someone again' Chances were that she was opening up to the first person who cared as a way or reassuring herself of the things she could actually remember
'Easy, because you needed to tell someone. You can't keep everything bottled up forever. It's more like you are telling yourself these things than me. I just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.' Marduk had to keep himself from chuckling. 'All I am trying to do is keep you from running out and getting yourself killed without first thinking things over.'
'If I could have everyone's attention for just a moment!' A booming voice echoed throughout the room. Heihachi watched as everyone's eyes turned to look at him once more. At least it was easy for him to get people's attention in his new form. 'A rat has crawled out of his hole and he thinks he can infest my Zaibatsu!' Heihachi paused momentarily to take a breath. 'King, the masked wrestler who has entered several of my tournaments is now headed out way. No one move, I will take care of him myself.'
'What'!' Marduk yelled out in an otherwise silent room. 'King is mine!' He removed his tuxedo jacket and then proceeded to tear off his shirt rather than opening each individual button. His outfit no longer concerned him; all he could think about was defeating King for having embarrassed him at the last tournament.
Kunimitsu leaned in and whispered to him, 'Now who's not thinking things over?' She smiled in satisfaction. 'If it's not Yoshimitsu then I am not concerned. I'm going to bed.'
Before he could even open his mouth to defend himself or question how someone could possible sleep while the building was under attack, he looked down and noticed she had already disappeared. It didn't matter, he had to leave himself so he could get his hands on King before anyone else could. From the look of things, Heihachi had already exited the room as well.
Gunfire erupted around him as King dropped guard after guard with a flurry of punches and closelines. He ducked as one guard slashed at him with a knife, picking him up by the waist as the weapon passed overhead. King ran forward, slamming the guard's body into another man standing close behind him. After releasing his hold on the man's waist, he reached down and grabbed both of his legs in his arms. King spun his entire body in a circle before releasing his hold on the man's legs, sending him soaring into the crowd of armed guards a few feet away.
Grunts and groans erupted as the entire crowd of soldiers was knocked off their feet. Their guns fell out of their hands and clanked off the floor tiles. King ran towards them, kicking away one of the guns as a guard reached for it. The man attempted to get back to his feet but he ended up with another kick in his face this time. King lunged forward, diving into the chest of another man and knocking him off of his feet before he could muster any kind of offence. After mounting the guard, King punched him several times in the face until he was knocked unconscious.
King hopped back onto his feet to face a third man who had managed to get to stand up as well. The soldier caught King off guard with punch to his head. The masked wrestler shook off the blow and returned the favor by kicking him as hard as he could in the stomach. Without thinking, King grabbed the man's heat and drove it into the floor with a powerful DDT. Though it was unconventional for an actual fight, it still managed to be efficient. King jumped back up to his feet and closelined one of the soldiers, causing his body to flip completely in midair and land on the ground with a thud.
King sighed heavily in relief after seeing that there were only two guards left standing in the immediate area. After seeing the pile of unconscious men he'd left, he was beginning to believe that the security in this building was never ending. Maybe rushing in wasn't the best idea, his only target was Marduk after all. 'Now isn't the time to second guess myself?' King muttered as he noticed one of the guards was already rushing him with a baton in hand.
'Bastard!' The guard screamed as he charged toward King. As the man swung the weapon downward, King caught his arm by the wrist. In one quick motion he then brought down his right elbow into the man's arm, snapping it in half with a dull crunch. As the man screamed out in pain, King quickly suplexed him to take him off his feet.
When he looked toward the final adversary, King motioned with his hands as if he was questioning what the man's next move would be. The guard responded in a most peculiar way by pointing both his fingers toward King and winking. Something about that gesture just annoyed King, and he wasted little time in charging in and punching him in the abdomen. When the man doubled over in pain, King grabbed him by the back of his shirt and threw him head first into the wall. The soldier's head slammed off the wall causing him to slump down and remain motionless.
'That will be quite enough!' A voice boomed out from behind them. Heihachi slowly walked toward King while taking note of the fallen men around him. 'Worthless fools, what do I pay them for?' Heihachi glared directly at King the entire time. He kicked the body of one man away so there would be a clear path between King and himself. 'So I guess professional wrestlers aren't all show.'
King looked on in shock as Heihachi emerged from the darkness of the poorly lit corridor. Wincing his eyes, he attempted to make out the abomination that was standing before him. It looked like Heihachi Mishima, if Heihachi Mishima had horns and wings that was. Up until now, he had only heard rumors of the Devil Gene. Now, however, it was quite clear that they were more than just rumors. 'Step aside, I am only interested in Craig Marduk.' King spoke out, deciding to drop the whole jaguar persona for now. Nothing mattered to him anyone, he only wanted to make Marduk pay for shaming the name of his teacher.
Heihachi continued to stare directly at King without making even the slightest movement. 'You attack MY building, MY guards and then you expect me to just hand over Marduk to you?' His annoyance was more due to the incompetence of his security rather than King's actions. He'd feel a lot better once Chaolan finished working the bugs out of his robots so the building might actually have a little protection for once. 'If you really want Marduk, then you have to beat me first.' Heihachi continued to remain motionless. Whether King attacked him or not, he was still going to test his new strength against him. 'Don't tell me the mighty King has turned into nothing but a coward!'
That was the last straw, King had heard enough. It was more than obvious that he'd have to go through Heihachi first if he ever wanted to get his hands on Craig Marduk. There was just one problem, King had no idea how to go about this. Beating Heihachi on any day of the week was an accomplishment in it's own right. Now that he had transformed into something much worse, he'd probably be near impossible to defeat.
'What's the matter' Go ahead, I'll allow you to get the first hit in.' Heihachi calmly remarked. He lowered his arms to show that he wouldn't even keep his guard up.
King continued to stare down his opponent. His form showed no flaw, he never broke eye contact for even a second. Even with the promise of a free hit, King was hesitant. Not that he distrusted Heihachi's word, for he still believed the man to be honorable despite his character flaws. Heihachi was not one to bluff or attempt to steal a fight with dirty tactics. He was an old fashioned warrior, one who still believed in honor and strength. This made him slightly confused as to why he'd take up the Devil form though. But as of now, that did not concern him.
He moved slowly toward Heihachi, both his hands were clenched in fists. Even as he continued to approach, he took note of the fact that Heihachi still hadn't moved from his position. 'How much power is he hiding?' King thought to himself. As he stopped in front of Heihachi, he opened his palms up and held his hands close to his face. Without warning King unleashed three quick strikes; a left hook across the face of Heihachi, followed by a right hook across his face, finishing up with a quick uppercut to Heihachi's stomach. King was shocked when he noticed not only how solid Heihachi felt, but how his strikes had seemingly no effect on him. He didn't even have time to react when Heihachi sent him stumbling backwards with a quick backhand across the face.
'Pathetic, I expected more from you.' Heihachi remarked coldly. The head of the Zaibatsu showed no movement toward following through with his attack nor did he even grin after having gained the upper hand.
King rushed Heihachi this time, jumping in the air and connecting with a dropkick to Heihachi's chest. Heihachi stumbled back a few inches, but King fell to the ground hard after his attack failed. Ignoring the pain, he jumped to his feet and attempted an hit Heihachi in the side of the head with an enziguri.
Heihachi ducked his head under the kick and waiting for King to turn around after he landed. He caught King's spinning backfist with his left arm and then sent King rolling across the room with a hard jab to the abdomen. This was becoming even easier than he had anticipated. While he felt a deep sense of unsatisfaction for his actions, he had to admit that he was now stronger than he had ever been. 'Maybe I won't even need Ogre's cells after all?' He muttered as he continued to watch his fallen opponent.
'How can this be' I can't lose now before I've avenged Armor King's good name!' King's mind continued to race back and forth. He wasn't afraid of death, but he couldn't die knowing that he wasn't able to repay Marduk for his actions. He just couldn't allow Armor King's name to be ruined after he was unable to do anything to save his life. He charged toward Heihachi blindly, his heart was the only thing keeping him in the battle at this point.
This was it, the fight was over for the proud wrestler. Heihachi focused his eyes and concentrated all of his energy toward his head. A bright red light began to shine near his forehead. Suddenly, a powerful beam of light shot from his face toward King, catching him in the head. The wrestler's jaguar mask was knocked completely off of him, and he was temporarily disoriented after what had happened. Heihachi wasted no time in finishing his opponent off with a powerful uppercut to the chin. King's body hurled several feet through the air before crashing down to the floor.
'Knock out?' Heihachi began to grin. Although King was only a test of his powers, the other warriors who opposed him would soon suffer the same fate. Heihachi methodically walked toward the fallen wrestler. He stopped just inches from King's feet. Slowly, he began to concentrate his energy into his head once again. He prepared himself to deliver the final blow.
'STOP!' Marduk screamed as he ran at full pace toward his fallen rival. He couldn't allow King to be killed before he avenged his loss at the last tournament. Marduk came to a halt a few feet away from Heihachi. His chest heaved heavily after having run across several floors trying to find where the fight was actually occurring. 'I'.Don't'. kill him. I haven't'. had a chance to beat him. yet.' He spoke between breaths.
Heihachi continued to look down at the unconcious wrestler, feeling some ounce of pity for him. After all, he was the reason why King had come in the first place. He also knew the shame of defeat and drive to avenge those losses he had suffered. Maybe it would be best to honor Marduk's request for now. King was no thread in this condition. 'As you wish' Take him to the holding cells.' Heihachi turned his back toward the two enemies and began to walk down the hallway. He had much more important issues to attend to now. Heihachi was expecting a much larger scale attack within the next few days. Yoshimitsu and Marshall Law's groups were both on the move and would eventually be headed here. If Lee didn't get the Combot units running soon, he may end up regretting having made the first moves so early in the game.
Marduk looked down at his fallen rival. Without his jaguar mask, he couldn't feel the same burning passion to defeat and humiliate King anymore. Now he was looking at the actual person behind the persona. King was still young and actually kind of handsome. Nothing compared to his own looks, but not too shabby anyway. It was easier for him to hate the man when he couldn't see the actual person behind the mask.
Out of respect, Marduk returned his rival's mask so that his identity would remain a secret. He knew how much that meant to King, and he wasn't one to dishonor such a thing. He gently lifted him up over his shoulders and walked toward the Zaibatsu infirmary. He'd have to be quick about this before all of the unconscious guards were taken there as well. Heihachi did say to take him to the prison area, but he never mentioned anything about not getting him medical attention first. 'You better pull through King, because I still need to kick your ass!'