Toramitsu: The Devil in the Details
Chapter 03: The Devil in the Details...
"Here's your tradition!" shouted Hwoarang, throwing a mid-level kick to David's chest. Almost without thinking. David's right foot slid back into a fighting stance as his left arm crossed over his chest and came back to block the kick, the side of his wrist smashing into Hwoarang's ankle. The sudden adrenaline rush meant that he hardly felt any pain, but Hwoarang's feet were moving almost faster than David could think. Feeling his kick being blocked, Hwoarang pulled back his foot and aimed a swift round kick to the shin. David, however, already had his hand in a block, so he simply turned his middle block into a low block, still maintaining his fighting stance.
Undeterred, Hwoarang used the momentum of his foot rebounding from the block to switch his feet and, now that David's block was low, to throw a left-handed jab to his opponent's face. David took a short dash step backward from the punch, bringing up his left hand to block Hwoarang's fist to the side before lunging out to his attacker's right side with his left foot. Faster than Hwoarang could react, David brought up his right foot and slammed the instep into Hwoarang's gut in a round kick, pulling back his foot as Hwoarang bent over in pain. Gasping, the Taekwondo student fell on one knee, spitting out a curse. Coming out of his fighting stance, David walked over in front of him, holding out a hand to help him to his feet. "I'm sorry," he said, "but I don't think sa bom nim would approve of fighting outside of class."
Gritting his teeth, Hwoarang rose up with a right-footed snap kick which caught David under the jaw, leaving him too shocked to counter when Hwoarang brought his foot back down on top of his head with an axe kick. As his face hit the carpet, David came to and rolled away just in time to avoid Hwoarang's next attack, a jumping spin back crescent kick which would have driven David's face further into the floor. Rolling back to his feet, David just had time to assume a fighting stance before he saw Hwoarang kick at him with his left foot, a pop-up side kick which would have gotten the American airborne, had he not dashed forward and to the side again. This time, instead of blocking, he continued forward and, grabbing Hwoarang's collar with his right hand, stepped his right foot behind his opponent's and swept it out from under him, causing Hwoarang to fall flat on his back, with David still holding onto his collar, his left hand pulled back and ready to punch.
"Tell them I have to postpone the meeting until tomorrow," shouted Jin Kazama into the ivory and black marble telephone receiver in his hand. He sat in the executive office of the Mishima Zaibatsu city headquarters, his desk strewn with papers and notes from half a dozen meetings he'd forced to terminate early just so he could have some time to think. Yet it never stopped. "I don't care what they say, the Zaibatsu has enough money that they'll take our offer no matter when we meet," he growled, before slamming the receiver down, missing the hook the first time and almost crushing the telephone on the second try.
"And all my life I told myself, 'This is what I want, to run the Zaibatsu for good, to right all the wrongs, and to make people happy,'" he said to himself aloud. "I should have added, 'And to give myself migraines.'"
Just then, the intercom beeped. "Mr. Kazama," his receptionist said over the speaker, "there's someone here to see you. A Miss Ling Xiaoyu, and friends."
Perfect, he thought to himself. She's brought her friends. Then again, Xiao always does have a way of getting me out of a sulk. "Send them in," he responded.
Almost immediately, the door to his office slid open, and three young girls walked inside. Two proceeded slowly, as if in awe of the size of the office, but the obvious leader of the group walked right up to Jin's desk. All three wore the uniform of the Mishima Institute of Technology, an extension of the high school with the same name, created not long ago, shortly before the fourth King of Iron Fist tournament. Jin suspected that his grandfather, who'd always had an eye on Xiaoyu's progress, had prepared it in advance so he could keep her under surveillance. Now, however, his grandfather was not in control of the Zaibatsu, but Jin wanted to keep Xiaoyu close anyway.
Xiaoyu, the girl in front, wore her hair in pigtails, as always, the hair ties made of a special plastic with light-emitting diodes inside which flashed on and off as she walked. In her hand, she held a black leather briefcase, the contents of which Jin suspected was the cause of her visit. Behind her came her friends, Miharu Hirano and Chiyo Tsushima. Miharu's hair was dyed reddish, cut medium-length, and in her hand she carried a small wire tripod, almost like an musical instrument stand. Chiyo was the shortest of the three, though Xiaoyu had told Jin that she was actually a year older than both her and Miharu. She'd had some trouble passing her entrance exams, and had to wait a year before entering the Institute. Her hair, somewhat longer than Miharu's, was a natural black, but the tips were highlighted blue. Around her neck was a choker necklace with beads that looked like cats' eyes woven into the strands. What made her stand out most, though, was that even when she was in her school uniform she wore large, tan gloves on her hands. Xiaoyu said it was just her way of rebelling, but Jin wondered about that sometimes.
"Jin," said Xiaoyu in her usual bubbly, excited voice, "Remember when I said that my greatest dream was to build a theme park? Well Miharu, Chiyo, and I just finished drawing up our proposal." She set the briefcase down on Jin's desk, covering a few chart printouts of last quarter's financial earnings. "You do remember, don't you?"
Jin nodded, though he couldn't have thought of a worse time. All the same, he wanted to get his mind onto something different for a while, especially when that something different involved Xiaoyu. He smiled. "I remember, Xiao," he said. "So are you going to show it to me?"
Giggling, Xiaoyu opened the briefcase toward her and pulled out a folded posterboard. Miharu and Chiyo managed to get the tripod set up in a few seconds, both working together. It had a clip up at the top, as well as one about two feet down the pole. Xiaoyu unfolded the posterboard and clipped it into place. Jin remembered, when he saw the blueprints on the posterboard, that Xiaoyu had told him she was taking up computer-aided drafting to help with her project. It looked good. There were clearly-marked areas for rides and concession stands, arcade booths and even a duck pond.
"Okay, so here's our design," Xiao said in an official-sounding tone of voice. "Remember, this is just the preliminary sketch, so we've got lots of work to do still." Jin listened while Xiaoyu went on to describe each section in detail, using a pointer she'd produced from the briefcase to direct his attention. She did most of the talking, of course, though Miharu had a few comments to make, especially whenever it had to do with one of her contributions. Chiyo, however, remained silent. Jin noticed that she still looked nervous. It was always next-to-impossible to figure out what she was thinking, since she never seemed to say anything, even when Jin had visited Xiaoyu on the campus grounds. Jin, to show he was truly paying attention, put in an occasional remark, but in his mind whatever Xiaoyu thought was good would be fine with him. The Zaibatsu had more money than he thought was possible to spend in any space of time, and a theme park would surely be for the public good. Whatever you want, Xiao, he said to himself. I'm willing to give all I have, if that's what it takes to make you happy.
It was a few moments before Hwoarang was able to see clearly. When he was, however, still unwilling to give up the fight, he let loose a loud yell, and grabbing David by his do bok, pushed up from the ground and reversed the situation, so that the unsuspecting David was now on the floor with Hwoarang holding him down. "So that's how you like it in America, eh?" he spat angrily. "Well welcome to the East, my friend. Here we hit harder."
While Hwoarang was mocking him, David managed to anchor his left foot on the ground, his knee bent. Grabbing Hwoarang's left arm, which was now on his shoulder, and with his other hand Hwoarang's collar, he pulled his opponent down toward him and, using his new leverage, flipped him once again onto his back, letting out a ki hap yell that surprised Hwoarang into momentary confusion. Not willing to have this give-and-take continue, David ended his throw with a kick to the chin from his right foot before scrambling to his feet. "I'll have to remember that, my friend," David said with a breath between every couple words. He was now breathing heavily and clutching his chest with his left hand, bent over slightly. Hwoarang rolled over and pushed himself to his feet.
"Hrmph," he said, brushing himself off with his hand, "That was just round one. Now I'm gonna have to break your glasses." But before Hwoarang could assume a fighting stance, a loud voice came from behind him.
"Hwoarang!" the sa bom nim shouted, stepping into the training room. How long he had been there watching, Hwoarang could not tell, but the student stopped all the same, dreading the rebuke of the master. "I leave a guest student here for five minutes," the sa bom nim continued in Korean, "and cannot expect him to be safe, even from my own student." The master was an inch or so taller than Hwoarang, seemingly a man in his late thirties, with hair only just beginning to turn grey at the temples. He wore a red jogging suit with two blue stripes down each sleeve and pant leg. At the moment, his face was almost red as his suit.
Hwoarang quickly stammered out, "Forgive me, sa bom nim. I was only seeing how well you had trained him." A quick excuse, but the master seemed to buy it, at least in part. Crossing his arms in front of his chest and looking down at Hwoarang sternly, he declared, "You are not in your do bok; no training in street clothes." Looking over his bruised face, he added, "And you have been fighting in the street again, I see. Be thankful I do not put you through his three-hours' training in the space of three minutes. Now get changed; I have a special class for you today."
"Yes, sa bom nim," answered Hwoarang, who proceeded at a hurried pace toward the door opposite the entrance, which led to the bathrooms.
Turning his attention now to David, the master switched to English, sure that by now the American was thoroughly confused. "Please forgive Hwoarang; his blood is too hot for his own good. His fighting spirit is strong, but it lacks discipline."
By this time, David's breathing had returned to normal. Bowing, he said, "Discipline is why I continue to train. Do you wish me to stay for class still?"
The master shook his head. "You have trained enough for today. Besides, I must chasten Hwoarang. Go get changed, and head home."
Relieved and smiling, David bowed again. Raising both his fists in front of his face, he said, "Ko map sum ni da, sir," in a mix of accented Korean and English, before turning and dashing off to the bathroom to change.
Xiaoyu's presentation was interrupted abruptly by the door opening once more. Jin thought this was odd, since his receptionist hadn't announced anybody, and he hadn't given the order to admit anyone. When the door slid open, two figures walked in, one he knew and one he didn't. The one he knew wore samurai armor and a mask shaped like a skull. The other wore clothing all of blue, and his face, cast into shadow as it was from the hood of his dark blue cloak, was concealed by a mask with the form of a roaring tiger's head.
"Yoshimitsu," Jin called out as the two ninjas entered. "I did not expect you. I'm a bit busy at the moment," he said, motioning to Xiaoyu's blueprints, "but I can talk to you in a short while." He wasn't sure what Yoshimitsu meant, showing up at his office like this, but he'd never known the Manji ninja to do anything expected.
"What I must say cannot wait, Jin Kazama," came the robotic ninja's reply. His tone was ominous, as if he had some ill news to tell. "I am sorry, but I need to speak with you right now. I need to speak with you, and with your father as well."
Jin started, and his eyes flew swiftly to meet Xiaoyu's. She seemed to sense the same ill tidings. "My father is dead; that fact was well publicized. I am sorry, but whatever business you have must wait."
"I know more than you are willing to admit, Jin Kazama," Yoshimitsu replied. "The demons of your past may not stay there for much longer."
At this, Jin slammed his fist down on the desk, rising to his feet. "I do not need you to remind me of the demons of my past, Yoshimitsu."
While Xiaoyu and Miharu were seemingly frozen in shock, Chiyo's eyes were calm and focused. They were focused on the deep blue ones glowing from the eyeholes of the second ninja's tiger mask. The fingers inside her gloves flexed and relaxed repeatedly. She said nothing herself, but she noted with interest that the tiger ninja's gaze seemed to be directed toward her now, as well.
Toramitsu, for his part, kept the greater part of his mind focused on the conversation between Yoshimitsu and Jin Kazama, for most of the time. Yoshimitsu had told him, on their way to the headquarters, the history of the Devil curse which plagued Jin's family, if it could truly be called a family. Yoshimitsu's description of the Devil beast was particularly troubling to Toramitsu. Large, leathery wings, and a stone like a third eye in the middle of its forehead, from which also spring two curved horns, Toramitsu reminded himself. This is what the Dragon seeks, surely.
Yet Toramitsu's attention had been drawn, after the first exchange of words, to the girls standing close to each other near Jin Kazama's desk. In particular, his gaze landed on the girl with blue-tipped hair and gloves on her hands. She is hiding something under those gloves, Toramitsu said to himself. I am sure of it. While he did not speak for himself, and while he still paid attention to the exchange of words between Jin and Yoshimitsu, his eyes remained fixed on the strange, secretive-looking girl who, unlike the other two, was looking straight back at him.
"I do not know what you are talking about, Yoshimitsu," Jin said, after a few more verbal rounds with the mechanical ninja. He appeared tired, as if something was weighing heavily on his mind and wearing him thin. "But, nonetheless, you always know more than you should. I will show you what you ask, but I have my questions as well."
"I will do my best to answer them, Jin Kazama," came the robotic ninja's reply.
Jin's gaze met Yoshimitsu's, and his look had a little more than a faint note of hostility. "Xiao, girls, you had better go. We can discuss your plans later."
Xiaoyu, visibly disappointed, led her friends out the office door. She had to fight hard not to insist upon staying, but she could tell from the sound of Jin's voice that this was important to him. Whatever you want, Jin, she thought to herself. I will do all I can, if only it'll make you happy for me.
David knocked on the door to the bathroom before entering, a courtesy he learned long ago. He found Hwoarang fastening his belt around his waist. David said nothing and went to the locker where he'd stowed the duffel bag with his street clothes. Unzipping the bag, he took off his belt, pulled loose the strings to his do bok top, and tossed it aside. It was at this point that he felt a finger tapping on his shoulder. He turned around to see Hwoarang still there.
"You fight okay," Hwoarang said, "But just remember that I could have taken you. I saw you breathing heavy already."
Pulling off the now sweat-soaked shirt he wore under his do bok, David replied, "That would be due to my asthma. It acts up whenever I exert myself, and I have trouble breathing." He pulled out a black t-shirt from his duffel bag and tossed it on casually.
Hwoarang raised an eyebrow at this. "Don't you take medication for that?" he asked. "Usually people with asthma carry inhalers with them."
David shook his head, loosening the pull-string which held his pants up. "I never got into the habit. I figure that if I were ever to become dependent on an inhaler, I'd never be independent of it. I don't need a handicap like that, so I work through it anyway. I haven't died yet." He ended with a laugh as he tossed aside his do bok pants and pulled on a pair of loose jeans, held up by a belt.
Hwoarang shrugged. "Well, you do what you want. Hey, I've been meaning to ask, how'd an American like you get the last name of Sin? Never heard it before."
Pulling a wristwatch out of his jeans' pocket and fastening it on his wrist, David answered, "Well, when my great-grandparents came from Russia, their name was Sinyev, from the word sinij, "dark blue." But then came the Cold War, and to avoid suspicion of being spies, my grandparents changed their last name to Sin. I agree, it still doesn't sound very American, but it's easy to remember, at least." He finished his ensemble with a silver cross pendant on a leather chain. "Anyway," he said, stuffing his do bok in his bag and heading to the door, "I gotta be going. Have fun in class. Tang Soo!" Hwoarang didn't get a chance to respond before David closed the door behind him, and when he went back out to the do jang, the door, on which was painted the words "Kim's Taekwondo School" in Japanese and English, was just closing. "Until next time," Hwoarang muttered, before the master ordered him to attention.
Jin led Yoshimitsu and Toramitsu to the elevator, after Xiao and her friends had left, and pressed the button for the ground floor. Before the elevator reached that floor, however, he pulled out a small key. Flipping up a small panel, he inserted the key into a hidden lock and turned it. "What I want to know first, Yoshimitsu," he said, "is how you know about my father still being alive." Well, he thought, alive in a manner of speaking.
"I have more eyes than you can see," Yoshimitsu replied. "When you took over the Zaibatsu, I made sure there was someone with you here who would tell me what I wished to know."
Jin flinched as he withdrew the key. The display above the elevator door still showed the light for the ground floor, but they had been going down for longer than it had taken to get there. Toramitsu guessed that they were now several stories below ground. "I should have known you'd have your spies," he said. "Tell me; is it Xiaoyu?" He had shown Xiaoyu the place where they were now headed only once before, but he could not be sure how much she had learned.
"Are you willing to believe that of her?" Yoshimitsu responded, cryptically as usual. Jin was silent after that for a few moments.
Finally, Jin asked, "Who is this with you, Yoshimitsu? Another of the Manji?" Jin's eyes examined Toramitsu curiously, wondering what lay behind the mask.
"You guess correctly," said Yoshimitsu. "This is Toramitsu, my latest recruit, and the reason I come to you now. You will understand, in a short while." Toramitsu was not certain whether this last comment was addressed to Jin or to him.
When at last the elevator stopped and the doors opened, Toramitsu looked out and saw that they had now come to a vast underground space, a laboratory of sorts, with equipment lining the walls and the long rows of tables on either side of the room. All about the room, ten or so people in lab coats were working busily. At the far end of the room was a large glass tank with bubbling liquid inside. It was not until they had come almost up to this tank that Toramitsu realized that there was a man's body floating inside the tank, with tubes and wires connecting it to the walls of the tank. It did not appear to be a corpse, though the man, whose complexion was turned a pale blue by the liquid surrounding him, did not move or even open his eyes. Examining the man's face, Toramitsu was struck by how similar it appeared to that of Jin Kazama. This must be his father, Kazuya Mishima, he said to himself.
"If you knew he was down here, Yoshimitsu," Jin said, "you must know the purpose, or at least know enough to guess."
Yoshimitsu nodded. "You are attempting to remove the Devil gene from your father, so that once it is successfully isolated you may do the same for yourself. Am I near the mark?"
Jin nodded. "This gene has caused too much destruction over the past twenty years, Yoshimitsu. Now, finally, it will all come to an end."
Yoshimitsu did not seem to share that opinion. "Yet you did not seek out Doctor Boskonovich's help in this matter. Why, if I may ask?"
Jin examined a computer display for a moment, then said, "I actually asked him first, but he refused. Didn't he tell you? He said that he did not think even his genius could solve this mess, and even to try was meddling with a dangerous fire that could spread far too easily."
Toramitsu was not sure he understood all of what was said, but regardless, his attention was on the figure suspended in the glass tank. He did not feel the malicious presence after which he was seeking, but there was something, a faint disturbance in the air, which unsettled him. "You may soon be burned by this fire," he said aloud, clearly startling both Jin and Yoshimitsu. Toramitsu's eyes turned from the tank to look directly into Jin's. "A dark presence from another world has come here, and we believe he is seeking to control the power of this 'Devil.' For the safety of this world, we advise that you cease these experiments. Should the power of Devil escape, it will surely fall into the hands of this demon." He was, in part, repeating what Yoshimitsu had said to him along the way there, but the sentiment was true.
Jin did not respond for a minute or two, a battle of uncertainty rushing through his mind. This one called Toramitsu spoke sincerely, but something about the way he spoke reminded Jin of one he hadn't seen since the last tournament. No, it had been more recently than that. The last time he saw him was...
"Toramitsu speaks truth," Yoshimitsu broke in, not wanting to waste the silence. "He is one from that other world, come to seek out this evil menace. I agree with Doctor Boskonovich; you must stop."
Suddenly, Jin's face turned from blank to stern. "No," he said. "I will not stop while the Devil gene still resides within any human, especially within myself. I don't know what has caused you to go daft all of a sudden, and I don't trust this stranger you bring with you, Yoshimitsu. I want you both to leave. Now. There are some risks I must take."
"This is not one of them," Toramitsu answered quickly. "Trust us or do not trust us, but I will not let the demon I pursue obtain such a power as both you and Yoshimitsu seem to describe."
"You will do as I say," replied Jin angrily. "I own the Zaibatsu now; I am not my father or grandfather, but what I say is now law here. Now leave."
Toramitsu was about to say something else, but Yoshimitsu prevented it by speaking first. "Heaven's net is wide, but it lets no evil through," he said solemnly. "Do not let yourself cut the net wide open." With that, he turned and headed toward the elevator. Toramitsu followed, reluctantly.
As soon as their backs were turned, Jin called out, "If you ever come unannounced again, you will see how tight I wind my rope! And that goes for your spies as well!" He found it hard to control the rage which now filled him, as hard to contain as it was to explain. When the two ninjas had gone, he grabbed a nearby flask containing a green liquid and drank it all in one gulp. The anger died down almost instantly, but for some reason he didn't regret a single word he'd said.
As Yoshimitsu and Toramitsu got off the elevator on the ground floor, now both cloaked beneath holographic projected disguises which made them appear two businessmen in suits, they saw Xiaoyu and her friends waiting in the lobby. The one with the blue-tipped hair and inquisitive gaze followed Toramitsu with her eyes as he and Yoshimitsu walked through the glass doors. She knew it was him, even through the disguise, he realized. Now with much to ponder and much to plan, he walked with Yoshimitsu to the motorcycles they had waiting. He'd shown Toramitsu how to control the machine earlier that morning, and before long the two of them were miles away, headed back to the clan base. As he sped down side streets and dirt roads, Toramitsu still felt her gaze somehow, as if she were right beside him all the while. I must be going crazy finally, he thought to himself. And a fine time for it; I'm going to need whatever sanity I can keep in the days to come.