End of a Journey


Chapter 10: Nightmares

He’s here.

The clouds parted in the night sky to reveal the full moon, bathing down lunar light on the classical architecture of the school. Ryu found himself alone in the courtyard, with the school turned to his back. The wandering warrior didn’t think that HE of all people would come seek him out, especially at a place like this. It doesn’t matter, he thought as he clenched his fists as felt the evil presence becoming closer and closer to him. I’ve waited a long time for this, and I’m definitely not going to fall here.

“Behind you.”

With his eyes shooting wide open, Ryu spun around to strike the source of the voice calling out to him. Lifting his leg into the air, Ryu delivered a spinning roundhouse kick to his attacker’s hand, altering his aim and successfully causing his ki to fly off to the side instead of into his face. Hearing the blast of ki explode against the wall of the school, Ryu lifted his fist and attempted a punch?but his opponent vanished in front of his eyes, leaving Ryu to punch through his afterimage.

“No more games, Akuma,” Ryu shouted as he turned back around to find his attacker. Even if his enemy could disappear and reappear at will, he couldn’t hide from Ryu’s ability to sense ki. “Show yourself and face me with honor!” Not that Akuma would know anything about that, Ryu added bitterly as he scanned the area, focusing his thoughts so that he could find his nemesis. He murdered his own brother just for the pursuit of strength. Anyone who does something that horrible doesn’t deserve to be called a warrior.

“You dare accuse me of lacking honor, whelp?” Akuma’s voice boomed, echoing throughout the school and into the inner corridors of Ryu’s soul. “What does that say about you, who refuses to fight with everything they have in battle?” Turning in the direction of the voice, Ryu fired off a Hadoken hoping to strike his attacker. This time, the Hadoken was swatted away like a fly, where it detonated against a tree and forcing it to explode into splinters like it had just been struck with lightning.

Though his dark aura obscured his features, it wasn’t intense enough to keep his red eyes from glowing like the pits of hell, staring a hole into Ryu’s consciousness. “Akuma,” Ryu whispered as he lifted his fists and assumed a fighting stance. “I don’t know why you’ve come here, but I’m going to make you regret it. There are children who go to this school, and I’d rather die than let you ruin it.”

“Then defend it, whelp,” Akuma growled as he bared his fanged teeth for Ryu to see. There was a time when Akuma was an ordinary human, like anyone else, but his pursuit of power via the forbidden art of Ansatsuken, the Satsui no Hadou, turned him into something noticeably different. No ordinary human could do the things that he was now capable of, or radiate the overwhelmingly evil aura that even the most oblivious of martial artists could detect.

Just as the name suggested, he had become a demon.

Lifting his own hands and entering his fighting stance, Akuma’s eyes burned even brighter, almost blinding Ryu. However, it wasn’t enough to keep Ryu from charging forward with his ki swirling around in his right fist. Once he was in striking distance, Ryu crouched down slightly and prepared to take out Akuma with his Shoryuken. Unfortunately for Ryu, Akuma wasn’t interested in receiving the attack and drove his palm into Ryu’s face just as his feet let the ground, sending Ryu sprawling backwards with his nose bloodied.

“Too slow,” Akuma grunted as Ryu landed on his hands and kipped back to his feet, the blood already streaking down his mouth. “If you intend to protect this place, you’ll have to do better than that.” With his aura intensifying so that it appeared that he was being engulfed in blood red flames, the renegade warrior once again dematerialized and disappeared from view. Ryu tried to focus to see where he went, but he was still dazed from the palm he took a moment before, making it almost impossible to sense him.

Almost, but not completely. Hearing the sound of Akuma’s animalistic breathing coming at him from behind, Ryu lifted his leg and spun around into the air, covering all sides of him so that he couldn’t receive a sneak attack. Even as Ryu sailed through the air with his Tatsumaki Senpukyaku, he could still hear Akuma’s rapid footsteps following him. As soon as I hit the ground, I’ll be made vulnerable to attack, he thought as he felt his momentum failing. He’ll be counting on that to strike?so I’ll just have to surprise him.

As soon as Ryu felt his feet touch the ground, the wandering warrior clenched his fist once again and turned around to deliver a devastating straight right into Akuma’s jaw. Being that he had been running full force after Ryu, he didn’t have time to slow down and he received the full brunt of the attack. “Got you,” Ryu shouted as the man-turned-demon was sent flying away, bouncing off the tiled ground like a rock skipping against the water before landing on his feet and skidding to a halt.

“Your fist lacks devotion,” Akuma chastised the warrior as he stood back up. Rather than assuming a fighting stance, the demon merely folded his arms and frowned. “I have given you much time to hone your fist into something worthy of my time, and yet you attack with such a feeble punch. Dispappointing?”

Damn: my attack didn’t even leave a mark, Ryu cursed as he ran towards Akuma, cupping his hands to form another Hadoken. What is it going to take to faze this guy? Even though Ryu was coming at him crackling with power, Akuma refused to unfold his arms, instead patiently waiting for the younger fighter to come at him. Whether it was out of contempt for the wandering warrior or simply because was arrogant enough to think that Ryu was of no threat to him didn’t matter: there were crimes that he had to answer for, and Ryu was going to make sure he paid the price.

Suddenly and unexpectedly, Akuma jumped high into the air just as Ryu pushed his hands forward for a Hadoken. “NO,” Ryu screamed as he realized the Hadoken was going to crash into the school. Lifting his hands upwards just before he launched his ki, Ryu watched his Hadoken veer into the air like a missile being launched from a war boat. Time seemed to stand still for him as he watched the Hadoken go farther into the air, hanging on a prayer that the fireball wouldn’t hit the school. When the Hadoken skeeted past the tiles of the roof and faded away from view into the night, he let out a sigh of relief?

?though his relief was short lived as Akuma came plummeting back down from his aerial roll and grabbed into Ryu’s shoulders. Using the rotational momentum from his Demon Flip, Akuma flung Ryu over his shoulder and to the tiled ground, watching him crash down onto his back. “Your fists lack devotion, because you are not willing to fight with everything you have. What is so wrong about going into battle with all your powers at the ready!”

“Fighting with everything you have isn’t fighting at all,” Ryu retorted as he once again flipped back to his feet and resumed his fighting stance, the blood from his nose now staining his teeth. “If we don’t show restraint when in battle, then we’re nothing more than animals attacking each other!” Wiping the blood from his mouth with his gloved hand, the wandering warrior’s eyes narrowed. “I’m not like you, Akuma: I’m not going to sell my soul to become tough!”

“Then you will suffer a dog’s death, Ryu,” Akuma once again vanished from view, leaving Ryu once again to wonder what direction he was coming from. Less than two seconds later, Ryu found his answer when he heard Akuma let out a fearsome shout directly behind him. Turning around with his leg lifted for a kick, Ryu received Akuma’s Tatsumaki Zankukyaku right to the side of his head, knocking him off of his feet like he had just been hit with an axehandle. Not only was the attack strong, but it was fast, hitting Ryu multiple times to a point where he was still ascending into the air while Akuma landed on his feet.


Akuma let out another roar as he struck the airborne Ryu with his own lethal variation of the Shoryuken: the Go Shoryuken. Not merely content with the power lying within his physical self, Akuma ignited his attacking arm so that it was consumed in his lethal purple ki. As a result, the violet flames added a terrifying burning sensation to the agonizing pain delivered from the Go Shoryuken, causing Ryu to let out a shout of pain as he was struck in mid-air and propelled further upwards.

Ryu crashed down hard onto his back as Akuma landed on his feet, his ki still surrounding his body. “If you were a truly ready to face me in battle, you would use everything at your disposal to achieve victory,” the demon said as Ryu struggled back onto his feet, still feeling the effects of the flurry of forbidden attacks he received. “Our style’s purest form is stained in blood and death. Gouken was a fool for denying Ansatsuken’s true purpose?just as you are a fool for not embracing it!”

“S-shut up, demon,” Ryu spat back as he grit his teeth trying to push himself off the ground. The techniques Akuma used were rooted in assassination: people weren’t supposed to survive being on the receiving end of them. The fact that Ryu could still move, much less breathe, was a testament to how much he had been training to defeat the renegade warrior. “I’ll never accept that: I’d sooner die myself than stain my soul with the lives of others!”

“?we will see how long you hold onto that,” Akuma grumbled as he turned away from Ryu, instead looking at the hole in the wall of the school that his Hadoken had left earlier. “I have noticed that you have neglected your training, whelp: instead of searching for worthy opponents to test your strength against, you have instead made residence at this school, where there are only children instead of warriors?”

Ryu said nothing as Akuma looked out at the wall, pensively staring at it with those crimson eyes. Akuma was many horrible things, but one thing he most certainly was not was a killer of children. Why would he suddenly turn his focus away from Ryu to talk about the school?unless?

“Akuma,” Ryu sputtered out as he felt the demon’s evil ki rise sharply, his body being engulfed in power like he was self-combusting. “Akuma?what are you doing? The people here are of no threat to you! The children-”

“There are no children here in the present,” Akuma interjected before planting his feet into the ground and entering a horse stance, gathering all of his destructive ki into his hands. With his aura blowing Ryu backwards like a thistle in the wind, the renegade warrior bared his fangs and spoke once again. “This school is only made of stone and metal: it can be rebuilt over time. For you, however?the damage will stay with you for eternity!”


Ryu’s protests fell on deaf ears as Akuma unleashed his hellish energy into a surge of power that didn’t just damage the wall, but spread around the wall like an electic current going through a fire. Completely and utterly breathless, Ryu watched in abject horror as the walls of the school were completely engulfed in flames. All of those children’s hopes and dreams for the future, Ryu thought bitterly as the sight of the fire etched itself deep into Ryu’s psyche, they’re burning away, and I couldn’t do a thing about it!

When Akuma lowered his hands to assess the damage, seeing the flowers burn and the statues melt and contort, Ryu thought that the demon had finished his work, and charged forward to attack. “MONSTER,” Ryu screamed as he took to the air and lifted his leg, this time putting his ki into the Tatsumaki Senpukyaku and giving his foot a powerful glow. Due to how powerful the move was on its own, being able to clear forests like a buzzsaw, Gouken forbade Ryu from pouring his ki into the technique. However, Ryu’s grip on reality was quickly slipping, washed beneath a waterfall of anger and sorrow that he felt towards Akuma.

Just before Ryu’s attack would have connected, Akuma once again leapt into the air and evaded the wandering warrior’s attack. “Come down and face me, demon,” Ryu hissed before pouring his rage into his ki, which in turn swirled around his hands and kicked up violent winds around him. Ryu had abandoned the Metsu Hadoken years before due to how difficult it was to perform without seriously hurting an opponent, but right now, what Ryu wanted more than anything was to “seriously hurt” Akuma.

“TENMA,” Akuma roared before unleashing a hailstorm of ki blasts onto the school itself: the same place that Ryu had been staying over the past several days, and where his host Chun-Li had called home. Unable to contain his anger, Ryu let out a fearsome shout before unleashing his Metsu Hadoken onto the airborne Akuma. This time, Akuma did not swat away the attack, as he was too occupied in destroying the school. Akuma paid for his narrow-mindedness by taking the full brunt of Ryu’s attack and having it explode around him in a massive burst of purple energy.

Finally stopping Akuma’s assault, Ryu turned to the school and dropped to his knees in despair as he watched it literally go up in flames. “What was it all for,” he whispered bitterly as he looked down at the tiled ground. Lifting his mighty arm, the wandering warrior pounded his fist against the ground and repeated what he had said, as if he was expecting an answer. “What was it all for, all of my training and hard work? Did I come this far just to fail everyone close to me!”

Ryu cursed himself as he continued pounding his fists against the ground. Had he not been so worried about the damage done to his surroundings, or went all-out right from the start instead of holding back until the last minute, Ryu might have prevented the school from being engulfed in flames. Fighting with everything he had with no restraint was exactly the sort of thing that led down the path to the Satsui no Hadou?but with something precious to stake, would fighting to preserve it be worth the price to be paid?

“?the true warrior enters the arena with all of his power at the ready.”

Ryu shot to attention as he heard Akuma’s voice echo throughout his ears, his body, his mind, and his heart. Even the untamed destructive power of the Metsu Hadoken wasn’t enough to take him out, it seemed. Standing back up and scanning the area for his nemesis, Ryu felt his heart racing even faster than it had been earlier when engaged in combat. The demon had now not only taken away his master’s life, but now he had destroyed Chun-Li and her student’s dreams and hopes for the future by destroying her school. “Show yourself, Akuma,” Ryu shouted once again, both his fists radiating with power. “Show yourself and let me break your face!”

“Now you’re starting to see things my way, warrior,” Akuma’s seemingly disembowled voice called out to Ryu, confusing and angering him further. “We all fight for something, whether it be power, wealth, fame, glory, family, or just the thrill of victory. For many years now you have become stronger and stronger, yet you are no closer to your ultimate goal than you were when you were a mewling puke. That is because you fight just for the sake of fighting: this way of thinking is cyclical and you will forever wander the world seeking answers that you are blind to but have always been in front of you?”

With those words fresh in Ryu’s mind, the smell of perfume filled the warrior’s nostrils as someone appeared in front of him that was decidedly not Akuma. Instead, it was a stunningly beautiful woman wearing a blue qipao with her long brown hair flowing in the wind. “Chun-Li,” Ryu whispered as the woman smiled at him, not saying anything despite how her school was burning behind her. Even in the madness of the moment, however, Ryu felt his rage subside and his heartbeat calm down. No matter how horrible seems things seemed, as long as she were alive, there was hope for the future. This held true not only for her students, but for Ryu, as well.

So enamored was Ryu with Chun-Li’s presense that he didn’t sense Akuma hovering towards him, his entire body engulfed in black energy. “?Ryu,” Chun-Li said softly as she turned her head to see Akuma coming at him. Realizing what was happening, Chun-Li sprang into action and pushed Ryu out of the way, protecting him from the onslaught that was rapidly approaching. “Ryu?watch out!”

Rolling onto his feet, Ryu looked up to Chun-Li in confusion?but when he saw Akuma grab onto Chun-Li’s neck literally dripping dark energy, he knew immediately what was going on. There was a blinding flash of light, coupled with the sound of Chun-Li’s blood-curtling screams and the sounds of fists ripping into flesh. “CHUN-LI,” Ryu screamed as he ran towards where Chun-Li had been standing, the screams telling him where she was even when he couldn’t see her. “AKUMA?STOP IT!”

When light finally faded, Akuma had disappeared?but in his wake, he had left Chun-Li lying on the ground, her dress stained with blood with her eyes glazed over in death. Scooping up the woman in his arms, Ryu shook her vigorously in desperation and sorrow. “Wake up, Chun-Li! Say something!” However, Chun-Li did not move, whether it be a twitch of the finger or even the rising and falling of her chest for breathing. As the awful reality of the situation seeped into Ryu’s mind, the warrior started screaming. “Chun-Li! CHUN-LI!”

“Temper your fist with a purpose and a destination,” Akuma’s voice boomed as Ryu felt his blood boil and his vision turn red with fury. Even as Ryu’s screams became ferocious howls, the voice of the Master of Fists continued. “Otherwise, you will be unable to meet your destiny as the true martial artist?and all you will bring about is suffering to yourself and those you hold dear?”

(continued next post)


Ryu’s eyes shot open as he let out a gasp and felt his heart pounding. Noticing the darkness surrounding him instead of the glow of flames, Ryu’s eyes shifted from left to right and noticed that he was no longer in the courtyard of the school. I’m in Chun-Li’s room, he thought with relief as breathed in something sweet. Looking down to see where the scent was coming from, Ryu saw Chun-Li sleeping peacefully next to him, with her head resting on his chest. While that would have been enough for any man to feel at ease, Ryu felt something dark and ugly well up inside of him. Just a few hours ago, this woman was giving me my first kiss?and just now, I dreamt about her death at the hands of Akuma.

There were so many bad things about the nightmare Ryu had just awoken from: the overall uselessness of his attacks against Akuma, the inability to prevent the demon from destroying the school, the sense of dread Ryu felt as he got pummeled. However, the two most disturbing things about the dream were easily watching the murder of Chun-Li before his eyes and feeling himself fall into the murderous rage of the Satsui no Hadou shortly after. Even though Ryu had violently rejecting anything to do with the dark arts, watching the woman’s demise was enough to push a man over the edge.

That wasn’t the kind of nightmare that happens at random, Ryu thought as he took deep breaths to regain control of himself, doing his best to take comfort in the knowledge that Chun-Li was still breathing next to him, warm and healthy as opposed to bloody and lifeless. It’s the kind of nightmare that’s trying to tell me something?and I know exactly what that message is.

After the conclusion of the third tournament, Ryu began asking himself a serious question: what is the meaning of true strength? Did it come from rigorous training and devotion? Did it come from having something or someone to protect? Perhaps it came from fighting for a cause. As he watched his best friend Ken become a loving parent, and as a result become stonger than ever, Ryu started to ponder when and if he would find time to settle down and start a family of his own. Enlightenment was a goal that all martial artists strove for, but it was useless without someone to pass it on to.

Ryu had thought he had put those questions aside when he started staying in Chun-Li’s home, putting his obligations as her friend before his obligations as a wandering warrior. Now that his view of the woman had blossomed into something much more than a friend, those questions were coming back to literally haunt him in the form of a terrifying dream. No matter how much he wanted it to go away, Ryu still had to keep a promise that he made on his master’s grave. As long as Akuma was still out there waiting for their final showdown, Gouken’s death would be unavenged and Ryu would continue to fight.

Chun-Li?, Ryu leaned down and gently kissed Chun-Li’s hair before carefully maneuvering his body to get out of the bed without waking her up. Please forgive me for what I’m about to do. Though it took some very slow and careful movement, Ryu was able to put his legs out onto the floor while at the same time removing Chun-Li’s head from his chest and onto her soft pillow. The woman muttered something unintelligible as her face fell into the pillow, and Ryu worried for a moment that Chun-Li was waking up. However, the muttering ceased as quickly as it started and she went silent again safe for the light breathing of sleep, causing Ryu to let out a sigh of relief.

Using all of his training to stealthily step out of the room, Ryu entered his own room and gathered his things. For as long as I can remember, I’ve come and gone from so many different places, Ryu thought as he started packing his belongings into his bag, being extra careful not to take anything that didn’t belong to him. Once he got to the dragon shirt to Chun-Li bought for him, however, Ryu hesitated and felt his heart sink like a rock in the ocean. So why is it that, even though I know that I can’t stay here?that I feel so horrible leaving?

Realizing the longer he stayed, the more painful it would be to leave, Ryu slipped the shirt on and put his gi over it. Any doubt that Ryu had about his feelings for Chun-Li had been erased the day before, and he was now certain that he was in love with her. When Ryu asked Ken years ago what it felt like to be in love, as Ken had resolved to get married to Eliza, he described it as the absolute best feeling a person could experience. “Master Gouken is always talking about finding enlightenment?well, falling in love has to be the closest thing to it because when you feel that way about someone, there isn’t anything in the world that can top it.”

What Ken didn’t tell me was how at the same time, it can be more devastating and horrible than getting hit in the chest with a battering ram, Ryu thought as he closed his bag and headed for the kitchen, turning on the light so that he could see the telephone on the counter. If I do this, I will have hurt Chun-Li in a way that would make the worst trouncing in the Street Fighter tournament seem like a tickle in comparison?but if I don’t do this, I might put both of us in danger, and there’s no way I could live with myself if that happened.

Picking up the phone on the counter, Ryu dialed the number that he had dialed many times before in the past. Being that the caller on the other end was also in Hong Kong (at least as far as Ryu knew), it would also be very early in the morning from him, as well. A part of Ryu wished that the caller wouldn’t pick up on the other end, then he could write off his leaving as a bad idea he could stay with Chun-Li as long as he wanted. However, it was a part of him that Ryu did his best to ignore: no matter what his heart was telling him, this was something that must be done.

“Uuuh?hello, Ken Masters speaking,” a voice on the other end of the phone answered groggily.

“Ken, it’s me,” Ryu said solemnly.

“Ryu? It’s 3:30 in the morning,” the voice of Ken replied, sounding more conscious than he did a moment before. “It’s not like you to call this late. What’s up?”

“I need you?I need you to make arrangements for that plane trip I was telling you about when it was time for me to move on from Hong Kong,” Ryu said after fumbling with his words a bit, finding the request much more difficult to make than he would have the week before. “I need to out of Hong Kong as soon as possible: first thing in the morning, if it’s possible.”

“‘First thing in the morning?’” Ken repeated with a hint of confusion in his voice. “It shouldn’t be a problem, but it’s not like you to suddenly rush into a plane ride on such short notice. What’s going on? Did something happen between you and Chun-Li?” There was a long pause from Ryu, giving Ken a reason to worry. “Hey Ryu? You still there?”

“?yes, Ken,” Ryu responded quietly, trying his best not to wake up Chun-Li. “Remember what said when you came over to the school, that if I stayed here I’d find the answers I’m looking for. Well, I think I’ve found them: I’ve fallen in love with Chun-Li, and I really think that she feels the same way about me?but I can’t stay here with her just yet.”

“?you didn’t make her pregnant or something, did you?”

“What?” Ryu raised his eyes in surprise as Ken’s voice asked such a ridiculous question, though there wasn’t anything humorous about his voice. “Ken, don’t joke around like that. You know I’d never do something like run away from that kind of thing.”

“I was just checking, Ryu?but don’t think I wouldn’t kick your ass if you did knock her up and you tried to high-tail it out of there. I had to make adjustments for when Eliza was pregnant with Mel, so I would expect the boring half of Master Gouken’s pupils to do the same,” Ken grumbled before his voice became more clear. “If you’ve in love in her, why in the world would you leave her?”

“?it’s Akuma,” Ryu answered, his voice low with grim fatalism. “I just had a nightmare about that monster murdering Chun-Li and destroying the school. There’s no way I can just ignore something like that: it’s my subconscious reminder that until I’ve defeated Akuma, the ‘Master of Fists,’ I can’t move on with my life?no matter how badly my heart tells me that I have to stay.”

“You think that if you stay in Hong Kong, Akuma will come after you himself and endanger Chun-Li,” Ken surmised before a pensive pause came from his end of the line. The voice that returned was a concerned whisper. “You’ve been in contact with Akuma more often than I have: do you think he’d do something as terrible as that?”

“Akuma has killed people before: he murdered Master Gouken just to send a message to me that I should nurture the Satsui no Hadou that scarred Sagat instead of rejecting it like I have,” Ryu reminded his friend as his eyes shifted to the mounted picture of the teenager Chun-Li standing next to her father. “There’s no guarantee that Akuma won’t do the same to Chun-Li and this school if he thinks it would get a rise out of me.”

“?not only that, I’m sure a lot of other Street Fighters would come after Akuma’s head?giving that guy the ‘ultimate challenge’ he keeps looking for,” Ken added grimly. “OK, Ryu: I’m going to call the airport now and get that ticket plan of yours ready so that you’ll be leaving pretty much as soon as the sun comes up. Are you at least going to say goodbye to Chun-Li before you go?”

“I?I can’t,” Ryu’s voice started cracking as the topic of Chun-Li suddenly became too much for him to bear. “If I had to say goodbye to her, especially now that I know how I feel about her?there’s no way I’ll be able to go through with this. I have to leave now, before she wakes up: I think it’ll be better for both of us if I was gone and she wasn’t there to see me leave.” Clearing his throat and doing his best to regain his composure, reminding himself that crying would only wake up the beautiful woman in the other room, Ryu strengthened his resolve. “If I just leave a note explaining what’s happening, and something for her to keep safe for me?then she’ll know that I have every intention of coming back when this is over.”

“If that’s what you feel like is the best option, then I won’t stop you,” Ken said as Ryu opened up the notebook next to the phone and tore out a sheet of paper. “I should have the tickets in your e-mail account within the hour for you to print out. Just remember that if you do this, you absolutely have to come back alive. This isn’t just about some friendly rivalry between you and more, or the promise of a rematch to Sagat?this is about coming back to Chun-Li because you care about each other. If for some reason you don’t come back from this?then Chun-Li is going to feel it for the rest of her life.”

“Don’t worry, Ken: I have no intention of dying to a fiend like Akuma,” Ryu assured his friend. “Goodbye, Ken?and in case I don’t make it back?I want you to tell Chun-Li that-”

“You can tell her herself when you return, because you WILL be making it back. Safe travels, Ryu?”

Hearing the receiver click on the other end, Ryu slowly hung up the phone and focused on the piece of paper. Once the pen was in his hand, the wandering warrior poured his soul out onto the words and created a note for his gracious host that explained the situation. In a way, it was easier than speaking to her because expressing his thoughts on paper was always easier than doing it verbally. In another way, it was harder because it might be the last time Ryu ever communicated with Chun-Li.

Don’t think like that, Ryu, the wandering warrior reminded himself as he completed the note and left it next to the phone. You will be coming back?and to prove it, you’ll be leaving something with her that you’d otherwise never part with.

Steeling his nerves, Ryu quietly went back into Chun-Li’s bedroom to see that he was still sound asleep, holding something very important to him in his hand. The red headband that Ken gave to him as a gift had seen countless battles, and had become Ryu’s trademark over the years. It acted as the binding to a promise he made to Ken to who would become the world’s strongest fighter first. This belongs to you now, Chun-Li, he thought as he carefully placed the headband down on the pillow next to Chun-Li and headed out the door. This is my promise to you that I’ll come back to you safely?so that I can tell you how much you mean to me in person.


I just cheated and read it at DA :wgrin:

I loved how you gave Dan the respect he deserves :woot:,
chapter 11

[details=Spoiler]although it’s very little plausible that he was able to hold a rushing Chun Li long enough at the airport, even goofiness aside.

It was great to see Ryu using some Dan inspiration later[/details]

chapter 13


You could have named it “Kikosho Goku”, as in the EX series. Now that I mention those games, it would have been cool to see Hien Shuus somewhere

chapter 14


I’ve got to say that I went “meh, yet another unlikely encounter” when Alex appeared. I guess it might have been a bit dull to have Ryu alone as he set the castle on fire, but I wonder if it could have been done through first person thoughts

chapter 16

[details=Spoiler]I find the magical changes of clothes unnecessarily cheesy, but I suppose that’s the sentai touch.

Getting a Shichisei Senku Kyaku to the face as you charge forward must hurt lots. :lovin:

So… how long before she dumps Ryu? :rofl:[/details]

That was a great work. :clapdos:



There’s not going to be a honeymoon chapter, is it? :rofl:


In response to Mikros’

chapter 11


I suppose if Chun-Li wanted she could have barreled through Dan. Guess I didn’t go for that in favor of the sad moment

chapter 13


I haven’t played an EX game in quite some time, but I remember seeing it called the Cho Kikosho so I went with that. If it’s really called the Goku Kikosho (which is what the attack was supposed to be), then I’ll change it to that when it comes time for the SRK update

chapter 14


I felt it necessary to include Alex in the chapter as I thought it would be a proper sendoff to Ryu’s career as a street fighter, by facing the man who would be his successor as the World Warrior like Capcom tried to make Alex in SF3

chapter 16


I wish I could say that the reason “Bison” can change clothes is because he has Rose’s DNA now and she could do it too for some of her win poses…but I’d be lying. I just thought it would be cool since I looooove me some Sentai :smiley:



Something I’ve learned a long time ago is that it is incredibly hard to make those kind of chapters without it either sounding a) unintentionally hilarious or b)really, really cheesy. The stuff that happened in Chapter 9 is as far as I’m willing to go with THAT kind of action because 99 times out of 100, they come off as stupid.


,Chapter 11: Goodbye

Chun-Li moaned lightly as she opened her eyes and awoke from her slumber. Turning her head to see the alarm clock, the woman noticed that it was only seven o’clock in the morning: still too early for her to be up and about, especially with no classes that day. The bed feels so warm, she thought with a smile as her thoughts drifted back to the night before, where she enjoyed Ryu’s company both in sparring and in bed. I could definitely get used to waking up with?with?

As Chun-Li rolled over to get a look at the man she kissed, her eyes widened when she noticed that he wasn’t there. Instead, all that was left of him was the red headband that he kept with him almost constantly. “Ryu?” she called out her guest’s name as she grabbed the headband and stepped out of the bed. Quickly covering herself with a t-shirt, Chun-Li stepped out of her bedroom and entered the kitchen. She had heard stories from her colleagues about men staying with their girlfriends just long enough to take what they wanted and leave. Ryu wouldn’t do something like that?would he?

Don’t think like that, Chun-Li, the martial arts master told herself as she spotted a piece of paper spread out next to the phone. You know Ryu better than that: he’s probably out doing some exercises, or buying some groceries. Walking over the phone and picking up the piece of paper, Chun-Li recognized Ryu’s handwriting and told herself that it was probably nothing. Unfortunately, as she read the note, she realized that it was most certainly not “nothing,” rather quite the opposite.

When I first came to Hong Kong, I was had become lost on the path to becoming a true martial artists: I had seen countless battles and made some amazing friends, but I felt no closer to finding the answers to the questions I’ve asked myself since the days of my childhood. What was the meaning of true strength? What did someone have to do in order to obtain it? What is meant by the words “to live is to fight, and to fight is to live?”

When you offered me a place to stay, I didn’t think too much of it: you and I have known each other for years, and helping each other had become as natural as saying hello. Please know that even before this past week, I would have done anything for you. If you were ever hurt, or needed someone to raise you up when you fell down, or there was a fiend that had to be taken down that you couldn’t handle alone, I would have run to your side and fought next to you even if it was a god on the other side of our fists. After staying at your school, and getting to know your students, I started thinking about how amazing their sensei must be to make them so polite and sweet.

After Remy came over to the school and attacked me, telling me his story about his father abandoning his family to pursue the martial arts, the doubts I had coming into Hong Kong were increased dramatically. All my life, I’ve devoted myself to achieving true strength of mind, body, and soul. I’ve met countless warriors along the way, each of them fighting for something different. But at the same time, I’ve also met countless people who had nothing to do with fighting, who offered me a place to stay or gave me food when I was hungry. What if I was hurting them by not staying around longer, already thinking about the next fight?

That’s why I made an effort to stay in Hong Kong longer than usual, and perhaps longer than I should have. As I started to spend more time with you, I started noticing things about you that I hadn’t noticed before. You are strong, brave, and had a strong sense of justice?but at the same time, you’re graceful, kind, and beautiful. The longer I was around you, the stranger I started to feel. When Ken and Sakura came to visit a few days ago, they told me that I should stay at your school, and eventually the answers to all my question would be made clear.

After last night, when I held you in my arms, I found the answer to my question. True strength comes from having something to fight for. I’ve always fought for the sake of the fight and the thrills and experiences that come with it. While I don’t doubt that I’ve become a strong fighter because of it, there’s a limit to how far this can propel me, and that’s why I haven’t felt like I’ve come any closer to my goal than I was when I first started. Now I have something better to fight for, and that’s you.

But I can’t completely forsake my old life just yet. I’ve already told you about Akuma, and how he murdered his own brother, my master Gouken. This wasn’t just a random act of murder: it was a message to me and Ken that he’d be waiting for one of us to challenge him. You’ve already lost your father and your partner to murder, so you can understand the need to avenge them. However, I’m not just doing this for Master Gouken: Akuma has already decided that I’m the better challenge between myself and Ken. What if he did to you and this school what he did to Master Gouken, just to send another message to me?

I have to face him, and defeat him once and for all, or I’ll never be able to move on with my life. I’m not strong enough to say goodbye, but what I can do is make you a promise: I will return to you as soon as Akuma is out of my life forever. As proof of that promise, I’m leaving my headband in your care. That headband was given to me by Ken as a bond of our friendship, and through that headband, I have made so many promises to other warriors that we’d have a rematch someday. By giving you that headband, I am putting all of those promises aside for this one promise that I’m making to you.

Take care of yourself, and look forward to my return,

Even though Chun-Li had already had a very lengthy cry two days before when she witnessed Gen’s final words, that horrible sinking feeling in her heart was coming back to make her feel like crying again. This was a situation that was even worse that Ryu simply being a scumbag that took what he wanted and ran. Chun-Li had already lost two people she cared about to evil: losing someone for a third time would have driven her over the edge and was the reason why she was careful not to let in anyone closer than friends.

When she went to bed with Ryu, she told herself that Bison was dead and could no longer haunt her. However, she had forgotten that Bison’s own killer Akuma was still at large, and he was still very much capable of hurting her through Ryu. Bison was, at one time, believed to be the most powerful fighter in the world. If Akuma was the one that killed him, did that mean that Akuma was even more terrifying? As strong as Ryu was, could he possibly stand up to someone like that?

Don’t cry, she told herself and she took a deep breath and tried to figure out what to do. Ryu couldn’t have gotten too far: he must have written this only a few hours ago, so he couldn’t have already left the region on foot. He would have needed a way to fly out to Japan: who could he have contacted to get him a plane ticket on such short notice? Chun-Li closed her eyes and used her skills of deduction that had earned her renown as a detective, clearing her mind of any unnecessary thoughts and focusing only on the map that she was creating in her mind on possible ways Ryu could leave the country.

After a few seconds of narrowing down the choices, Chun-Li opened her eyes and lifted her phone, immediately bringing forth the caller history. There’s a number on here that isn’t from this area, she thought as she racked her thoughts once again to see if she recognized the area code. Once she was sure that she had never seen it before, Chun-Li instead pressed the “Send” button on the phone and called the number. It didn’t really matter where the number came from: the only thing that was important was if the number would lead her to someone that could tell her where Ryu is.

Come on, Chun-Li impatiently tapped her finger on the counter as she listened to the tone on the other side of the line. Pick up, whoever you are. Give me something I can use!

“Hello, Ken Masters speaking,” the voice on the other side of the line finally said. Ken Masters answering the phone immediately confirmed Chun-Li’s suspicions as to who Ryu could have called in order leave the country as quickly as possible.

“Ken, it’s Chun-Li,” the woman blurted out as she watched the clock continue to tick by, reminding her that she was running out of time to stop Ryu from doing something that could spell his end. “I need you to tell me where Ryu is. He left me a note saying that he was going to face Akuma!”

“?he’s a fighter, Chun-Li: he comes and goes as he pleases,” Ken responded nonchalantly, though Chun-Li had been in police work more than enough to know when someone was holding in some kind of anxiety. “Ryu and I decided a while ago that he’d be the one to beat Akuma and avenge Master Gouken, and I think he’s strong enough to take him down. Just give him some time and he’ll be back-”

“I’m not kidding around here, Ken,” Chun-Li interjected with her voice filled with frustration. “Ryu told me that Akuma was the one that killed Bison. You and I both know how frighteningly powerful he was: it took so many of us just to keep him occupied long enough to destroy his base. Do you really think that Ryu could take down someone who killed Bison all by himself!”

“?we need to have faith in Ryu,” Ken replied lowly once it was clear that his air of confidence wasn’t going to fool anyone. “There’s a reason why people call him the ‘World Warrior,’ Chun-Li. If there’s anyone in this world who could realistically take down Akuma, it’s him. Believe me, I’d like to be there with him taking him on, but it’s something that has to be done alone. If Ryu doesn’t defeat him, one-on-one, then Akuma will never stop chasing him.”

“I know?but,” Chun felt herself trip over his words as the tears started to well up in her eyes again. Using all of her willpower and training to keep herself from crying, the woman continued, “?but I at least need to try and talk him out of it! Destroying Shadaloo and avenging my father was a team effort: I think it’s only fair that we do the same when avenging your master’s murder!”

“That’s not going to fly, Chun-Li. We both know that Ryu isn’t going to-”

“PLEASE,” Chun-Li’s voice suddenly rocketed to a desperate shout, immediately quieting Ken on the other line. The next time Chun-Li spoke, there was a croaking overtone to it that made it clear that she was on her wit’s end: something that even Ken on the other line could notice. “I’ve already lost two people I cared about to murder. Even though I know Ryu has to do this in order to find peace?I have to just see him one more time, before he goes?so please tell me where he is, Ken.”

There was a long and uncomfortable silence on the other end of the line, and for a moment Chun-Li worried that Ken had hung up on her without her noticing. “Ken?I know you care about him, too,” Chun-Li whispered as she broke the silence. “You’re the only one who’d be able to get Ryu out of the country on such short notice. I need to at least watch him leave?”

“?you know, the reason Ryu didn’t wake you up last night was because he didn’t want you to worry about him,” Ken finally responded to Chun-Li’s pleas with his own voice low and solemn. “If you really want to see him, though, he’s going to be boarding a plane at the Hong Kong International Airport, Gate 26. The plane leaves at 8:30, so you better make tracks.”

(continued next post)


I don’t have much time left until boarding time, Ryu thought as he looked at the large electronic clock mounted outside of the bathroom he just walked out of. I better head over to my gate so that I don’t miss my flight.

Though it was difficult to find a place that would allow him access to a computer during the very early hours of the morning, Ryu eventually stumbled across a 24-hour cyber café after leaving the school, giving him the means to print out his plane ticket that Ken provided for him. True to his word, Ken was able to give Ryu the means to leave Hong Kong as soon as possible, though Ryu called Ken later to make a slight adjustment to his flight.

He would be returning to Japan, but his flight would be via a two-day “delay” in Thailand. While defeating Akuma was the biggest thing on his to-do list, Ryu had to make sure that he wasn’t running to his death. When it comes to gauging how far I’ve come since the first Street Fighter tournament, there’s only one fighter I can really rely on. We’ve fought so many times over the years, and each time our battles could have gone either way. The only way I’ll be able to have faith in myself against Akuma?is if I defeat that one fighter, decisively and without dispute.

So engrossed was Ryu in thinking about his rival in Thailand that he didn’t notice someone accidentally bump into his shoulder when he passed by. “Hey, watch where you’re going, pal,” a loud and boisterous male voice called out, breaking Ryu’s train of thought and forcing him to turn around. “You can’t just go bumping into people like that without saying you’re sorry!”

“Oh, uh?I’m sorry about that,” Ryu said as he bowed his head in apology and made eye contact with the stranger. “I guess I wasn’t pay attent?ion.”

Ryu’s voice drifted off as the two men recognized each other. The stranger that bumped into Ryu, wearing a pink karate gi with a black belt and undershirt, and long brown hair tied back in a ponytail, was not really a stranger at all. “It’s you,” the man blurted out as he walked towards Ryu while at the same time obliviously bumping past other pedestrians. “Sakura told me that you were in town, but I guess you just couldn’t help but follow in the same footsteps as the Master of Saikyo-ryu, Dan Hibiki!”

Like Ryu, Dan Hibiki was a street fighter that once trained with Master Gouken, though his early expulsion from the school led him to create his own martial art called “Saikyo-ryu,” roughly translated as “the Strongest Style.” While Saikyo-ryu had a fancy name befitting for someone as confident as Dan Hibiki, the founder’s own martial arts record was less than rosy. He had gained a reputation among the street fighting community as having more bark than bite, and was treated as a joke as a result.

To those who knew him better than that and looked past the bravado and taunting, however, Dan was a dedicated fighter who understood more about the deeper meaning of martial arts than he was willing to let on. It was from Dan that Sakura learned the art of ki projection, and it was with his guidance that Sakura delved into the world of street fighting so that she could search for Ryu. Even though most of the other street fighters found Dan annoying, Ryu owed Dan a great deal for keeping an eye on Sakura and making sure she stayed out of trouble when he couldn’t protect her.

For that, Ryu would always see Dan as his friend, even if the feeling wasn’t entirely mutual.

“It’s been a while, Dan,” Ryu said as he outstretched his hand in friendship. “How have you been?”

Looking at the hand with a perplexed look, clearly not expecting Ryu to shake his hand in friendship, especially with how often Dan would say that Ryu’s moves were just a cheap knock-off of his own when it was more like the exact opposite, the Saikyo-ryu fighter cautiously reached out and clasped the hand in a slow handshake. “I?I’ve been just fine, thanks for asking,” Dan answered before pulling his hand away and flexing his thick biceps. “It’s been a long road, but I’ve finally opened 30 Saikyo-ryu branches across Eastern Asia! People are coming from all over to learn from the master and take the glory of Saikyo as their own!” Lowering his arms and reaching into his sleeve, Dan pulled out a business card and handed it to Ryu. “You should come over to one of the main schools in Japan: I bet kicking your butt would get a lot of publicity!”

“Heh?I’ll think about it,” Ryu said as he put the card in his own gi, bringing Dan’s attention to the white t-shirt he was wearing.

“Hey, Ryu, what’s with the shirt?” Dan’s voice suddenly became belligerent, as if Ryu had offended him in some way. Seeing the look of confusion in Ryu’s eyes, the Saikyo-ryu master pointed an accusing finger at Ryu. “You’re trying to steal my fashion sense, too, aren’t you! First you imitate my moves, and then you wear a shirt under your gi just like I do! Can’t you anything original!”

“?what are you talking about?” Ryu blinked once as he noticed the rage boiling in Dan’s face as he marched over to him and got in his face. Feeling Dan’s hot breath coming down on him, the wandering warrior’s confusion continued to well up. “I wasn’t even thinking about you when I put this on. This shirt was just a gift from-”

“Look, just play along,” Dan’s yelling suddenly dropped to a cautious whisper, his eyes shifting from left to right as curious bystanders started to gather around them. “I’m going to Brazil to visit Jimmy and I need to keep interest in my school high so I can still have business when I get back. I’ll make it up to you later.”

Looking at the clock to see how much time he had left until it was time to board his plane, and then to the terminal a few meters away that he needed to be at, Ryu smiled and tossed his bag to the side. “If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you were challenging me to a street fight, Dan,” Ryu said as he jumped away and assumed his fighting stance. “Show me what you’ve got! Come at me with everything you have!”

“That’s right, Ryu,” Dan shouted as he pumped his fist and flexed his bicep once again. “I’ll show you, and the world, that nothing can beat the Glory of Saikyo!” As soon as he finished taunting, Dan charged forward with his fist raised, immediately giving away his method of attack to Ryu. He’s going to just charge forward and see what I’ve got, Ryu thought as he exhaled and waiting for Dan to come at him. Once Dan had entered striking distance, Ryu reared back his fist and prepared to attack. If nothing else, Dan’s guts are master-level.

As as a result of Ryu’s patience in attacking and Dan’s lack thereof, the two martial artists wound up punching each other in the face full-force, making a loud thud as their gloved hands collided with each other like hammers. The recoil of the attack send Dan sprawling backwards until he rolled across the ground and stopped on his bottom. Ryu, on the other hand, stumbled backwards several steps before regaining his footing and rubbing his jaw. “Ow?that was a pretty good punch,” Ryu said as Dan groggily stood back up, “You’ve been practicing since the last time we met, haven’t you?”

“?SHUT UP,” Dan screamed before wincing in pain, noticing that the spot where Ryu tagged him was turning purple. “Don’t diss the power of Saikyo!” Charging his blue-green ki into his left hand, the master of Saikyo-Ryu thrusted his arm forward and hurled a baseball-sized ball of energy towards Ryu. The “Gadoken” had often been described as an inferior version of Hadoken, even by Dan’s friend Sakura who went so far as the call it, “the Hadoken’s handicapped brother.” It would often disappear as quickly as it reappeared, thus making it a very poor substitute for the original technique taught in the Ansatsuken that Saikyo-ryu was rooted in.

However, this Gadoken traveled considerably farther than what Ryu was used to, surprising him enough to lift his hands up and block the attack instead of waiting for it to peter out like it normally would. Ryu let out a soft grunt as the Gadoken bumped against his arm and burst into sparkles. Not bad, he thought as he lowered his arms to see Dan charging at him once again. His Gadoken feels more like a solid hit than the quick slap that it usually feels like. Let’s see what else he’s got.

Hopping into the air once he was within striking distance, Dan lifted his knee and attempted to bop Ryu with a quick Dankukyaku. Unfortunately for Dan, Ryu didn’t hesitate this time and he safely ducked under the attack only to rise back up and strike Dan right under his chin with a Shoryuken. While Ryu normally shot for the heavens with his Shoryuken, he instead decided to jump only a few feet into the air for the attack so that he didn’t drive Dan’s lower jaw into his brain. Sakura probably wouldn’t appreciate him sending Dan to the emergency room before he left, though she might have thanked him for forcing doctors to wire his jaw shut.

When Dan crashed down onto his shoulders instead of landing on his feet like most everyone else did when taking such a light move, Ryu wondered if maybe he applied too much force. “?Dan?” Ryu called out when he noticed that the pink-clad warrior hadn’t yet gotten up from the attack. Walking over to Dan and standing over his fallen body, Ryu noticed that his eyes were rolled up into the back of his head. “Are you OK? Dan!”

Suddenly, Dan’s eyes suddenly returned to their normal position, his eyes suddenly burning with vigor. “KORYUKEN,” Dan screamed as he launched himself off the ground and high into the air, striking Ryu hard underneath his chin with a flying uppercut just as Ryu had done to him. He was playing possum, Ryu thought as he sailed through the air like he had just been hit with a golf club. With both fighters landing on their feet, Ryu tasted blood in his mouth and realized that he had lacerated his tongue when the attack connected. He might have become stronger, but he’s still the same Dan at heart.

Already seeing that Dan was charging towards him, Ryu lifted his leg and spun around for his Tatsumaki Senpukyaku. Even if Dan himself had become stronger, his moves were still just imitations of moves that he had been using for years. Using the real thing would give Ryu a serious advantage, unless Dan had invented moves that weren’t linked to the original art at all. Hearing Dan skid to a halt as Ryu spun towards him, the wandering warrior waited for his kick to connect against his body.

What he received instead was yet another Koryuken that hit the inner part of his knee, eliciting a shout of pain from Ryu as he careened through the air and flopped down onto his face. Attacking Ryu’s spinning leg with another Koryuken was nothing short of reckless and downright foolish, but somehow Dan managed to get the job done and knock Ryu out of the air. I’m going to have to try that with my Shoryuken the next time I face Ken, Ryu thought as he stood back up, though a sharp pain went through his leg when he did so. I wonder if that would work on Akuma, as well?

Seeing Ryu stumble a bit as he put pressured on the attacked leg, Dan once again hopped into the air and delivered a jumping knee followed by two aerial sharp kicks to Ryu’s head and shoulder, his completed Dankukyaku. With Ryu still feeling the effects of getting a Koryuken to his knee, Dan landed on the ground and performed a second Dankukyaku, this time with all of the attacks hitting Ryu’s head with the final kick knocking Ryu over like he’d been hit with a club.

Brushing the cobwebs out of his head, Ryu stood back up as best he could with only one good leg and fired off a Hadoken to provide at least some kind of respite from Dan’s assault. It was a desperate ploy that would have normally been avoided by skilled fighters, but Dan took the full brunt of the blue fireball and stumbled backwards to give Ryu some room to breathe. “I bet you think you’re so tough because your fireball is bigger than mine,” Dan shouted as he angrily shook his fist at Ryu while the wandering warrior gingerly bent his leg to make sure nothing was broken. “Well…well, size isn’t everything, you know!”

After deducing that everything was where it should be in his leg, Ryu charged forward and gathered his ki into his hands. Suddenly I can see how Dan could have defeated Gen, Ryu thought as he watched Dan rear back his fist for a shuttle punch, holding his other arm out in front of him. Dan might be a goofball, but if you give him an inch to breathe, he’s capable of pulling off an upset. I better get serious before I wind up on my face and-w-w-whoa!

Just as Ryu was about to strike, he felt something bump up against his leg, once again causing him great pain and forcing him to lose his footing. Stumbling towards Ryu uncontrollably, Ryu turned his head to see an umbrella hanging out of a suitcase that had passed by them and cursed his luck before turning back just in time for Dan’s right fist collided with his body, over and over again until his arm became faster than the eye could track. “DANRETSUKEN,” Dan gave voice to his attack as his right-handed barrage pummeled Ryu all across his body.

However, instead of concluding the barrage with one final strike, Dan instead continued the barrage, with every hit becoming slower and lighter. When the final hit did come, a pushing kick that knocked Ryu onto his bottom, Dan put his hands on his knees and took deep, tired breaths. “H?how about that?buddy,” Dan gasped out as he heaved to get some air in his lungs. “What?do you think?of my?Danretsuken?”

“To be honest, Dan,” Ryu said as he pushed himself off the ground and wiped the sweat from his brow, “I’m really impressed with what you’ve shown me so far. You’ve created some pretty cool moves that no one else has, and you’ve even added some new tricks to your repertoire. To me, that’s the sign of a true martial artist.” Dusting himself off and resuming his fighting stance, Ryu gave Dan a friendly smile. “I’m really enjoying this battle so far, Dan: thanks for challenging me!”

“Hmph! We’ll see how long you say that after you see my new surefire victory move,” Dan said before inhaling and exhaling deeply, swirling his arms around clockwise while his ki flashed in his hands. His ki has risen greatly: looks like he’s ready to put this away. Planting his feet and letting out a sigh of relief now that his leg had stopped throbbing, Ryu focused his own energy and prepared for Dan’s attack. I better do the same if I don’t want to wind up on my back.

“Haooooooooh?” Dan let out a deep breath before suddenly sucking inward and thrusting both of his hands forward in a wide arch, unleashing his gathered energy in a wave surge of power. “?GADOKEN!”

Unfortunately for Dan, while his attack was wide and impressive-looking, it wasn’t wide enough to keep Ryu from jumping into the air and successfully vaulting over the Haoh Gadoken. “T-that’s not fair,” Dan stammered as he watched Ryu flip over his surefire victory move without any kind of damage. “You can’t just dodge my awesome move and expect to-”

Dan’s protests were put to an end as Ryu drove his fist down onto Dan’s face, immediately following with a swift Joudan Sokutou Geri ? the Sword Kick ? to Dan’s sternum that sent him sprawling backwards. Noticing how much trouble Dan had getting up from the attack upon landing, Ryu charged forward and went in for the kill. He must have spent all of his energy on that Haoh Gadoken. Guess it’s up to me to teach him that he can’t throw it all out there if there’s a chance the enemy can get away!

“Why, you-”


Dan attempted to stop Ryu in his tracks with another Gadoken, but Ryu was faster and delivered multiple propeller-like kicks to Dan’s jaw with an enhanced Hurricane Kick. The fourth and final revolution sent Dan spiraling away headfirst into a trashcan, spiking him into the receptacle with his legs hanging out as a result. After some wilding kicking, the Saikyo-ryu Master managed to return to his feet?but the trash bin was still over his head and torso, preventing him from doing much of anything except stumbling around blindly?

?right into Ryu’s Shoryuken, this time with all of the warrior’s power behind him. While the trash bin absorbed the brunt of the impact, it was painful enough for Dan to yelp in pain as he was lifted upwards only to fall back down to the ground. “Denjin,” Ryu grunted as both his hands started to crackle with blue electricity as he watched Dan fall to the ground beneath him. He couldn’t leave anything to chance: if there was a time to deliver the finishing blow, it was now. “?HADOKEN!”

Throwing his hands under him, Ryu unleashed his gathered energy onto Dan just as he hit the ground. Due to the electric properties of Ryu’s Denjin Hadoken, as well as the metal properties of the trash bin, the Master of Saikyo received all of Ryu’s power in the form of a very painful shock that caused him to convulse wildly while incoherent babbling sounds came from within the trash bin over his head. The convulsing didn’t end until Ryu had already landed gracefully on his feet and resumed his fighting stance, and Dan fell to his knees before flopping over onto his face defeated, the trash bin still trapping him.

When Dan didn’t move thirty seconds later, Ryu started to worry that the pink-clad warrior was suffocating instead of the bin. Quickly running over to the fallen Dan, Ryu wrapped his hands around the bin and gave it a sharp yank to pull the bin away from him to reveal Dan’s hair sticking up on end from his Denjin Hadoken. “Are you alright, Dan?” Ryu looked down at the Saikyo-ryu innovator who still had his face to the ground (though he was careful not to get too close, unless he wanted to get another sneak attack).

“?DAMMIT,” Dan screamed with such fervor that even the even-tempered Ryu jumped back a bit in surprise. The pink-clad warrior pounded his fist on the ground as tears streamed down his cheeks. “Why, why, WHY can’t I beat you after all of this time! I’ve been training so hard?why can’t I finally beat you and prove once and for all that I’m the strongest street fighter!”

Before Dan’s sobbing fit could get into full swing, Ryu reached down and placed a hand on his shoulder, causing him to look up in surprise. “You’ve become much, much stronger since the last time we fought,” Ryu said with a comforting smile. “I had to really think on my feet to beat you this time: you’ve improved leaps and bounds and it was a huge honor fighting you, Dan.”

“You?you serious?”

“You bet I am,” Ryu outstretched his arm to help Dan back to his feet, with the Saikyo-ryu fighter looking at the hand perplexedly. “It’s very easy to see why Sakura speaks so highly of you. Next time I’m nearby, I’ll definitely stop by one of your dojos and watch you teach lessons. Maybe I can pick up a trick or-”

“Now boarding, Gate 26 to Bangkok.”

Interrupted by the sound of a female computerized voice calling out the name of his flight, Ryu helped Dan back onto his feet and shook his hand one more time. “Dan, thanks for an interesting fight: I was in a bad mood and you really helped me shake off the cobwebs.”

“Well, uh?yeah, you weren’t so bad yourself, pal,” Dan replied with the same bravado he had when he the fight first started. “I was just going easy on you today because if you bled all over your flight, all of the attendants would be over you and you’d delay everyone. I’m not cruel enough to keep these fine people waiting on their flight just because I got carried away.” However, Ryu wasn’t really paying attention to Dan’s excuses, instead focusing on a very, very familiar ki signature that was quickly approaching him. “Hey, Ryu! Pay attention when I’m-”

“Dan,” Ryu suddenly put both his hands on Dan’s shoulders as he felt the ki signature coming closer. “Chun-Li is going to be coming over here very shortly: whatever you do, DON’T let her follow me into the gate.”

“What are you talking about?” Dan asked as he lifted his head to see what he thought was Chun-Li’s head in the distance hidden in the sea of pedestrians (though with her hair buns gone, it was hard to be sure it was her). “I don’t know what kind of issues the two of you have, but you better leave me out of-”


Dan’s protests were cut short when he notices Ryu’s body trembling and his voice cracking. “Please?don’t make this harder than it already is.” Slowly lifting his head, Ryu’s eyes wavered to reveal a very pleading, pathetic look that Dan had never seen before from the warrior. In fact, it was the sort of sad, desperate expression that would have been completely out of the character for the one known as the “Wandering Warrior” and widely hailed as the Ultimate Street Fighter.

However, it was the kind of look that told even the foolhardy Dan what kind of situation Ryu was in. “Y-yeah, man. I understand.” Dan nodded his head and patted Ryu’s shoulder, signaling for him to quickly grab his bag and head for the terminal. Seeing the woman with the long brown hair that bore a striking resemblance to Chun-Li getting closer, Dan went into motion and put himself between her and Ryu.

“Ryu! Get out of my, Dan! Ryu!”

Ignore it, Ryu, the wandering warrior told himself as he did his best to turn a deaf ear to Chun-Li’s protests. Keep telling yourself that this is for the better. No matter how much your heart aches?this is something that has to be done. Going up to the ticket counter and showing the teller his ID and ticket, the wandering warrior received approval to step onto the airplane with Chun-Li still calling out his name.

“Ryu! RYU!”

Unable to stomach it any longer, Ryu paused at the gate and slowly turned his head to see Chun-Li reaching out for him, being held back by Dan’s strong arms. Their eyes met, and for a moment, it was as if everything around them stopped existing. The sadness in Chun-Li’s eyes, telling Ryu just how much he was hurting her even after explaining things to her in his letter, was enough for the wandering warrior’s heart to sink even deeper than it had earlier.

He wanted to badly to run into her arms, and tell her that he’d never leave her side?but if he did that, all he’d do is run the risk of hurting her even worse later. Forgive me, Chun-Li, Ryu thought as he turned his head away and walked into the gate. I promise I’ll make it up to you when I return.

As Ryu heard Chun-Li cry bitterly into Dan’s shirt, the wandering warrior felt tears well up into his own eyes, as well. I’m coming back, he reminded himself as he walked onto the plane and looked for his seat, his sad expression attracting the attention of some of the passengers. So why does it feel like that I’ve just left behind everything that matters to me?


Chapter 12: Rival

As the capital of the country of Thailand, Bangkok was by far the largest and most advanced city the nation had to offer. The architecture of the city was, to say the least, full of contrasts. On one hand, it posted several modern buildings and facilities befitting of a city its side. On the other hand, within the city were slums that looked close to forty years behind the times, ripe with crime and corruption. Even though the city claimed to be always looking for the future, Bangkok could never seem the shake off the impure factions that haunted them.

One thing that everyone seemed to respected, no matter their allegiance to the law, was the art of fighting. In Thailand, the national sport was the powerful martial art of Muay Thai. No matter what direction the city of Bangkok went on, one thing that never changed was the immense respect Thai kickboxers commanded amongst the people. Warriors from all over the globe would come to Thailand to test their mettle against the might of Muay Thai, and there was no Muay Thai champion more renowned and feared than the mighty Sagat, who held the very first Street Fighter tournament to prove his might.

Ryu’s interest in Bangkok lay not in the city, but the ancient temples out the outskirts of it. This area holds so many memories, Ryu thought as he stepped away from the cover of the trees and entered the village that he had visited many times in the past: a good twenty-mile run from the city. It was in this village that the finals of the first Street Fighter tournament took place, where I gained worldwide fame and recognition and my reputation as a warrior was cemented forever.

Ryu smiled as he remembered the anxiety he felt when he first entered the village so many years ago. He was so young and brash back then, having just received his Master Gouken’s approval to leave the dojo and thus swelling his ego immensely. Ryu had been eager to make his mark on the world and see what other fighting styles had to offer. He ran into so many fighters during that first tournament: fighters that he had never seen the likes of before (or since, now that Ryu thought about it), and he defeated all of them to make his way to the tournament’s head Sagat.

The good times ended very shortly thereafter, with Sagat pummeling Ryu within an inch of his life like he was nothing more than a child. But it was at that moment, where Ryu felt his consciousness fading, that he lost control of his emotions and ripped a deep scar into the Muay Thai Emperor’s chest with a forbidden technique, the Metsu Shoryuken. It was in this village that Ryu first tasted the power of the Satsui no Hadou, and it was here that Ryu’s innocence vanished in favor of a deep-seated fear of the power that lurked deep inside of him.

Walking into a field of tomatoes, Ryu looked at one of the stocks and picked off one of the fruits. The tomato was firm and healthy: a sign of the tender care that had been given to the farm. The wandering warrior took a whiff of the tomato and smiled: it smelled fresh as well, and he hadn’t eaten since he left the Bangkok Airport that morning. Still, Ryu wasn’t without his manners: he would need to ask the farmers for permission to enjoy the fruits of their labor, and thus he followed the rustling of the fields to where one farmer was hard at work.

Seconds later, Ryu followed the rustling to a teenage girl with a deep tan and long black hair tied in a braid, wearing a gray t-shirt and a pair of jeans. “It’s been a while, Chit,” Ryu called out to the young woman, causing her to turn away from the hedge she was chopping down with her machete. Once he made eye contact with the woman, Ryu walked over and waved hello. “You’ve grown up quite a bit since the last time I saw you!”

“Mr. Ryu,” The young woman called Chit smiled back at the wandering warrior and embraced him in friendship. As her arms wrapped around him tightly, Ryu noticed how much thicker her muscles seemed since the last time they met, when she was just finishing up middle school. No doubt that the reason for her toned figure was working in the fields so much, caring for her tomatoes. Either that or she’s been training with Sagat, Ryu surmised as he returned the embrace before the two parted. She and her brother spend so much time with him that it wouldn’t be out of the question if he made them his pupils.

Several years ago, very shortly after Ryu defeated Sagat, the Muay Thai Emperor found himself caught up in an illegal tiger hunt, where young children were used as live bait so poachers could lure in tigers for profit. Two of the children involved in the conflict were Chit and her older brother, with the latter being found critically wounded by Sagat while he was attempting to burn off his rage over his loss. Unwilling to accept such nefarious activity under his watch, Sagat then proceeded to completely destroy the tiger hunts and rescue Chit. Since that time, the two siblings had stayed by Sagat’s side as if he were their own father, and Ryu always made it a point to visit them whenever he was in the area.

“Where’s your older brother?” Ryu asked as he noticed that Chit was alone in the field, which was odd because it was quite rare that he saw the two of them separated. “If you’ve grown up this much, I can only imagine what kind of man he’s grown into since the last time we met.”

“Brother had to go into the city to pick up some supplies,” Chit explained as she turned back to the hedge and gave it one swift chop with her machete to finish it off. Satisfied with a job well done, Chit turned back to Ryu and noticed something different about him. “Hey, Mr. Ryu, where’s your headband?” she asked as she pointed to the exposed forehead of Ryu, noticing a bit of a tanline where the headband would normally go. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen you come here without it?”

Ryu’s smile faded as he was reminded of how he was leaving Chun-Li behind for this one final journey, remembering how painful it was to hear her sobs as he left Hong Kong. “I?I left it with a very close friend,” Ryu answered after a pause before sucking in air and putting a smile back on. “I made a promise to her with that headband that I’d come back to her as soon as I finished up some loose ends that need to be addressed.”

“‘Her?’” Chit replied with a sly smile as she reached over to Ryu’s chest and spread out the folds of his gi to reveal the white t-shirt with the dragon design that was worn underneath. “It sounds like Mr. Ryu the Drifter finally found a lover! You’ve given her your trusty headband as proof of your love, and she gave you that shirt to prove that she feels the same! Now you’ll never truly be apart and you’ll feel each other scent wherever you go!”

“Heh?I never thought of it like that,” Ryu said as his cheeks reddened and he rubbed the back of his head. Seeing Chit giggle at his reaction, Ryu started chuckling a bit as well. “When you put it that way, suddenly it doesn’t feel quite as painful as it did when I left her side yesterday.” Remembering why he came to Thailand in the first place, Ryu’s smile diminished a bit as he turned the topic towards business. “Do you know where I can find Sagat, Chit? That’s sort of the reason why I came here.”

“Is there ever a time where Sagat ISN’T the reason you come here?” Chit asked rhetorically before she pointed to the giant Buddha statue in the distance, lying on its side with its head propped up against its arm. “He’s standing up there, waiting for you to come like he always does. He told me that you’d be coming soon, and that he was looking forward to facing you again.”

“So he already sensed me coming,” Ryu said as he squinted his eyes to see a tall human figure standing on top of the statue, apparently throwing kicks and punches. “I guess he knows me so well at this point that he can see me coming from miles and miles away. I should have expected as much from my greatest rival?”

“It’s not much of a rivalry when you’re always getting your butt kicked,” Chit added thoughtfully. “Every time you come here looking for a rematch, Sagat beats you like a piece of a meat. You always put up a good fight, but you’ve never been able to say ‘I’ve been Sagat, no questions asked.’” The teenager girl but her hands on her hips and smiled amusingly as Ryu stared off into the statue. “I’m beginning to think that you’re some kind of masochist.”

“?I’ve got a good feeling about today, Chit,” Ryu replied with a confident smirk before turning to see a tomato hanging down by the corner of his eye from a stock. “I think if I have one of your healthy tomatoes, I’ll be able to get a good solid win today!”

“Well,” Chit tapped her chin thoughtfully as she pondered whether or not to give Ryu her blessing in the form of her produce. After a few seconds to think about it, Chit nodded her head and plucked the tomato closest to her before tossing it to Ryu. “?if you think it’ll lift your chances against the Muay Thai Emperor, then go ahead and eat it. Prove to Sagat that you’re not going to get your butt kicked because you have someone waiting for you!”

“It was good talking to you, Chit,” Ryu said as he turned around to leave the farm. “I’ll see you around!”

A fifteen minute walk later, Ryu stepped onto the tiled ground of the ancient prayer grounds that he had stepped onto so many times in the past. These prayer grounds were less of a place of worship and more like an unofficial arena, where countless battles had been fought between the Muay Thai Emperor Sagat and whoever dared to challenge his claim as the strongest. When Ryu first came to this temple, he was an inexperienced fighter just freshly released from the dojo. When he left the temple, he was suddenly older and wiser than he had been moments before.

The main attraction of the prayer grounds, the relaxed Buddha statue, held a dark secret that seldom knew: not even Chit and her brother knew the statue’s true purpose. The statue was, in truth, a deactivated robotic weapon created by the fiendish Shadaloo many years ago. By disguising it among the locals as a statue that was supposedly a national treasure, Shadaloo could possess a destructive machine of massive power and no one would know anything about it. Had the machine ever been activated, the criminal organization would have possessed the ability to level cities in an instant and even the most powerful nations would have cowered in fear.

However, thanks largely to the efforts of the Street Fighters, the machine never had the chance to wreak its destruction, and years later it was lying dormant as the statue that it was supposed to mimic, with no one wiser to its sinister purpose. No one except myself and Sagat, Ryu added as he scanned the area to see where his ultimate rival was hiding himself. Sagat allowed himself to fall under Shadaloo’s employ, and invited them into his village to create that thing. Being associated with those scumbags is bad enough, but if word got out that Sagat gave Shadaloo the opportunity to create such a horrible machine, his reputation would be destroyed.

Hearing the sound of ponderous footsteps approaching, Ryu turned his head and gazed upon the visage of the giant that he toppled in the first Street Fighter tournament. To say this man was massive was no exaggeration: he stood over seven feet tall and was every bit as thickly muscled as he was tall, seemingly devoid of any kind of body fat. His massive feet and hands were wrapped in white boxing tape, and his purple boxing shorts with red trim were almost big enough to fit two grown men inside of them. With a black eyepatch covering the right eye of his stern face and a large scar blemishing his gargantuan torso, the titanic Sagat folded his arms and looked down at the smaller Ryu with his one good eye, though its milky white color gave the man an almost inhuman look like he was something greater than a man.

“It’s been a while, Sagat,” Ryu said as he dropped his bag and entered his fighting stance. “I think you know why I’m here by this point.”

“…something is different about you, Ryu,” the giant Sagat rumbled as he unfolded his arms and entered his own fighting stance: the stance of the brutal variation of Muay Thai that he had innovated.

“It’s the lack of the headband,” Ryu responded. “It’s rare that I don’t have it with me so-”

“I am not talking about something as inconsequential as that,” Sagat interjected as his eye narrowed, peering into Ryu’s soul as the smaller warrior remained strong and true in his stance, careful not to reveal any weaknesses. “Your aura is different that what it was since the last time we fought?and not in a way that could be changed simply by changing training methods. What did you learn in Hong Kong that could have changed you so much?”

Ryu raised an eyebrow in curiosity at Sagat’s question. “How would you know that I’ve been in Hong Kong?”

“I am your eternal rival, Ryu,” Sagat answered, his voice matter-of-fact and emotionless like it was something as natural as saying that he was alive. “The promise of facing you again and becoming stronger is the one thing that drives me to continue fighting. I have long since lost interest in the Street Fighter tournaments, so I spend my days monitoring your progress, thinking about the new things you have learned in your quest to become a worthier opponent for me.” The Muay Thai Emperor allowed himself a thin smirk as he continued. “So tell me, Ryu?what brings you to my realm this time?”

“?there’s someone I have to defeat,” Ryu answered, silently gathering his energies for the time where the talking would cease and their battle would begin. “There’s a possibility that I will not leave that battle alive, so I’ve come to you to see if I am ready for the battle that lies before me.”

“So you are using me as a benchmark for this ‘deadly opponent’ you must confront,” Sagat concluded as his milky white eye started to glow yellow. “Very well: I shall see for myself how much you’ve grown since our last encounter. But beware, Ryu: if you treat me as nothing more than a preliminary bout?” With his orange energy burning in his hands, Sagat reared back for one of the many techniques that made him so frightening as a warrior. “?then you shall pay for your insolence with your life!”

(continued next post)


When Ryu was recounting his very first encounter with Sagat to Chun-Li’s students, the children made light of Sagat’s attacks and even mimicked them in their own little way. There was one technique in particular, the Tiger Shot, that Ryu found particularly troublesome since it made even his Hadoken look inconsequential in comparison. The Tiger Shot represented a mastery of ki that few in the world could comprehension, and the students paid homage to the mighty technique by throwing fruit instead of ki.

Unfortunately for Ryu, the real thing was considerably more terrifying than a piece of fruit being thrown at him. The authentic Tiger Shot, shaped like a blade of fire that sped towards him like a bullet, had taken down so many powerful fighters, and it took all of Ryu’s skill and reflexes to roll out of the attack’s way so that he didn’t get leveled by it. As soon as he returned to his feet, Ryu unleashed a blue Hadoken that sped towards Sagat with equal fervor, hoping to get an early start. However, Sagat’s mastery of ki allowed him to gather enough energy for another Tiger Shot that destroyed the Hadoken before it could hurt him.

As the two ki blasts exploded against each other, Ryu charged the giant kickboxer. As intimidating and massive Sagat was, there was no way Ryu could defeat the Muay Thai Emperor in a battle of ki attacks. The only way I’m going to win is if I bring the fight up close and personal, Ryu told himself as the explosions faded to reveal Sagat already waiting for Ryu in his fighting stance. No matter what happens, I’m going to get hurt?but if I keep this in close quarters, I can at least have a chance to win.

As soon as Ryu entered striking distance, Sagat’s long leg shot out like a whip and struck Ryu’s arm with a standing knee, with the leg fully extending for a second kick upon impact. Even though Ryu managed to block the attack, the pain of the kick shot up through his arm and pushed him back. The giant kickboxer, sensing that Ryu was now out of his reach, charged his energy for another Tiger Shot, but the wandering warrior was quicker this time and unleashed a second, more powerful Hadoken that struck true in Sagat’s abdomen.

Now’s my chance, Ryu thought as Sagat stumbled backwards while the red flames from Ryu’s Shakenetsu Hadoken died down. The remaining flames acting as a target, Ryu’s leg shot out in a javelin-like motion for his Joudan Sokotou Geri, striking Sagat right in his sternum. In almost every other case, the kick had such power that it would send anyone sprawling backwards like they’d been hit with a battering ram. However, for an an opponent as powerful and massive as Sagat, the attack only buckled Sagat over and forced him to grip where he had been hit.

With Sagat’s head now much closer to him than it would have had been while the kickboxer was standing upright, Ryu lowered his fist and prepared to drive it into Sagat’s chin?but the kickboxer recuperated faster than he had anticipated, leaving Ryu open to a devastating straight punch to his chest. Ryu tried to let out a scream of pain, but the sound was stuck in his throat and only a pathetic gasp came out instead. Sagat’s arms were bigger than Ryu’s head, and were capable of shattering rocks. The wandering warrior was lucky that Sagat’s fist didn’t simply punch a hole through his chest.

With his opponent clutching his upper body like someone had just struck him with a spiked mace, Sagat returned to his feet and looked down upon the man he called his rival. “You’ll have to be faster than that if you want to stop me,” Sagat growled before using his giant hand to palm Ryu’s head and lift the warrior off the ground as easily as Ryu would lift an apple off of the ground. “I told you: if you treated me as nothing more than a preliminary bout, you would pay the price.”

Realizing how much trouble he was in, seeing Sagat crouch down slightly to deliver the devastating knee lifts that Muay Thai fighters were famous for, Ryu quickly gathered his energy and fired off another Hadoken, this time to Sagat’s head. Although the Hadoken didn’t have much power going into it, it struck the Muay Thai Emperor right in the face and blinded him enough to drop Ryu and cover where he had been hit. That was way too close, Ryu though as he let out a sigh of relief before rearing back for a more powerful attack. The next time that happens, I might not be able to get free!

“Tatsumaki Senpukyaku!”

Realizing how quickly Sagat could recuperate, Ryu took to the air and spun around with his leg extended for his powerful Hurricane Kick. The old scriptures of Ansatsuken described the attack as a technique with the power to clear forests like an unstoppable tornado. If that were the case, then what did that say about the hulking tree known as Sagat, who stood his ground even as the legs collided with his body like the blades of a helicopter. Whereas just one strike from the Hurricane Kick would send an opponent sprawling, Sagat endured all three of the revolutions before stumbling backwards and falling over.

Unfortunately for Ryu, Sagat threw his legs into the air and flipped back to his feet, reminding the wandering warrior that Sagat was every bit as athletic and swift as he was muscular and huge. “Damn,” Ryu cursed before charging forward once again and attacking with a thrusting punch to Sagat’s lower abdomen, pushing his fist as deep as it could go hoping it would have an effect. While Sagat did grunt in pain, it wasn’t enough to keep him from lifting his elbow and dropping it on top of Ryu’s head. Ryu let loose an anguished shout as the pain ran through his entire head, stunning him long enough for Sagat to once again pick him up and hold him into the air.

This time, Ryu was unable to prevent Sagat from driving his right knee into his midsection multiple times. It was bad enough to be caught in a clinch from a Muay Thai fighter, but it was even worse to be receiving them from the Emperor of Muay Thai fighters who made his peers look like pipsqueaks. The knees were delivered with piston-like force, and Ryu felt something collapse inside of him as he began to cough up blood. Sagat stopped for a moment when he felt the blood splatter against his chest, and then growled in frustration before slamming Ryu’s head back into the ground.

“I know you’ve been training harder than that, Ryu,” Sagat bellowed as he watched Ryu slowly get back to his feet, clutching his midsection where the giant almost impaled him onto his knee. “Why don’t you show me what you can really do!” Lowering his guard and rubbing his hand against the massive scar on his chest, the Muay Thai Emperor continued to taunt Ryu. “I have not forgotten the promise we made on this scar, Ryu! You told me you would become stronger so that you could defeat me honorably! Show me what you can do!”


Letting out a powerful shout, Ryu drove his fist into Sagat’s exposed sternum, making the Emperor pay for letting down his guard before the fight was over. Not willing to give Sagat a chance to recuperate, Ryu continued punching the sternum with rapid alternating fists. I have to keep pouring it on, Ryu thought as he continued punching Sagat’s sternum while the Emperor’s grunts started to become pained shouts. I don’t know what’s bothering me so much that I can’t take him down, but if I fall here, there’s no way I can possibly defeat Akuma!

Unlike Dan’s Danretsuken, which kept punching rapidly until the punches started to lose power, Ryu was quite aware of how many punches he could throw before they stopped being effective. After the ninth punch connected, Ryu kept his hand lodged into Sagat’s body before crouching down and jumping high into the air. As a result, his lodged fist rolled up Sagat’s body like a car and collided with the giant’s chin, lifting him off of his feet and into the air as Ryu completed his Reppu Jinrai Shou: a series of moves that he created specifically to create an opening for his powerful Shoryuken.

Sagat was the one to land first, planting his feet onto the ground and rubbing his chin while Ryu slowly descended onto his feet and let out a deep breath. “That’s better,” Sagat commented before he suddenly decided he was done waiting for Ryu to come at him, charging forward with great speed that belied his size. Even though Ryu had already entered his fighting stance waiting for the attack, he couldn’t react fast enough to counter Sagat’s leaping Tiger Knee Crush, with the attack hitting his sternum hard before riding up his body and colliding with his jaw. “But that is not the Shoryuken that I desire!”

Ryu landed on his shoulders and groaned in pain, cursing himself for not being able to track Sagat’s attack. Opening his eyes, the wandering warrior gasped as he saw the giant plummeting down towards him knee-first. Quickly rolling out of the way, Ryu narrowly avoided getting crushed by Sagat, though the tiled floor beneath the monstrous kickboxer cracked into several fissures from his weight and power. The wandering warrior once again sensed an opportunity to attack, and made the most of it by running towards Sagat as he was still standing up and driving another Shoryuken into his chin.

“That is still not the Shoryuken I’m looking for,” Sagat roared as he looked up to see Ryu still ascending into the air. Crouching down like the tigers he sparred with, the Muay Thai Emperor took flight and drove his own fist into Ryu’s airborne body with a leaping uppercut of his own, the famed and terrifying “Tiger Uppercut.” “Show me your true Shoryuken! Show me the true power of the move that left this scar upon my chest!”

Ryu crashed down hard onto his stomach, further damaging the area where Sagat’s knees had been pounding into him like hammers and causing him to scream in pain. He’s so unbelievably powerful, Ryu thought as he struggled to push himself off the ground, ignoring the voice in the back of his head telling him to give up. Even at his advanced age, he hasn’t lost any of his speed and power. What is it going to take to bring this guy down!

“Your fists have told me much about what you have been doing since the last time we traded blows,” Sagat rumbled as Ryu finally returned to his feet and resumed his fighting stance. “In the past, your fists were in the developing stages, searching for a defined form that would lead you to victory. However, your aura now is noticeably different: they speak of a man who knows where to channel his resolve and draw strength for that defined purpose!”

“Defined?purpose?” Ryu repeated with tired breaths. “What do you mean by that?Sagat?” As soon as Ryu finished those words, the sound of thunder rumbled throughout the area, causing both warriors to look into the sky and notice that during their battle, dark clouds had been gathering around them. Seconds later, Ryu felt droplets of rain come down on him, cooling off his body and mind and giving him a moment to reflect on Sagat’s words.

“You have found true purpose in this world to continue fighting,” Sagat said the rain started pouring down on him, washing off the sweat and blood covering him. “In the past, your fists were like the lightning in the clouds, randomly striking whatever stood in its way searching for the quickest way to its goal. Now, your fists are like this rain, whose purpose is to cleanse the land of impurity. Ryu?you too have a defined purpose now?but do you realize what it is?”

Closing his eyes as he too looked up at the rain falling down on his face, Ryu’s thoughts drifted back to the sparring session he had in Hong Kong days before. This rain is like Chun-Li’s Kikoken, he thought as he remembered the woman’s signature ki technique brush against him, as well as the feelings from that time. The Kikoken didn’t need to wash me away like a raging torrent: all it had to do was splash against me to confirm its existence.

Opening his eyes, Ryu lowered his head back down to Sagat and saw that the Muay Thai Emperor was conjuring up a bigger, more powerful ki attack by forming a vortex of energy between his hands: the immensely powerful Tiger Cannon. Without saying a word, Ryu cupped his hands and placed them to his side, creating his own vortex of energy by summoning crackling, electric-like ki and pouring it into his hands. There’s no need to annihilate everything with unnecessary force: all that is required for victory is one strike to confirm my existence to my opponent.


“Denjin Hadoken!”

Unleashing their gathered energies, Sagat and Ryu pitted their respective ideologies against each other. Sagat was the tiger, the mighty lord of the Asian jungles that mauled everything that dared stood against it. Ryu was the wind, carrying the potential for great destructive capabilities but also capable of gentleness and tranquility. When those ideologies clashed in the form of their ki, there was chaos and plenty of bright sparking as the two attacks struggled to gain dominance.

After several seconds of being deadlocked, both attacks punched through and continued speeding towards their targets, but their great power had been lost. Instead of blowing the opponent away like they intended, what remained of the Tiger Cannon and Denjin Hadoken brushed against the two warriors lightly. “Your Tiger Cannon?it tells of a man who has been seeking to cleanse his fist of the darkness that dwelled inside of it,” Ryu said the heat from the attack faded away.

“This Denjin Hadoken of yours is like nothing else I’ve felt from your ki attacks,” Sagat replied as he looked down his crackling hand which he used to block the Hadoken. “Instead of using unrestrained destructive energy to overwhelm your adversary, you use focused, tamed energy to stun them. Impressive.” Clenching his hand into a fist, Sagat washed away the foreign energy by gathering his ki into his hand. “Ryu?it’s time to bring an end to this. I shall pit your most powerful Shoryuken against my own finishing move, the Tiger Destruction.”

Inhaling and exhaling deeply, Ryu focused his own ki into his right fist until it hummed with blue energy. Once his power had reached his zenith, the wandering warrior charged towards Sagat. The key to victory would lie not in who could summon the most destructive and deadliest attack, but who was most aware of what he was truly fighting for. As he rushed closer and closer to Sagat even as the giant was coiled to strike with his mighty attack, all Ryu could think about was the woman who he had decided would be his ultimate destiny.


Seeing Sagat’s burning fist rushing to meet him head on, Ryu moved his head to the size and narrowly avoided getting his jaw sent rocketing into his own brain. Even as the Tiger Destruction missed him, Ryu could feel the intense heat radiating from it. “My turn,” Ryu shouted as he drove his glowing fist into Sagat’s stomach, stopping the giant dead in his tracks. Pushing his fist deeper into the giant’s body, Ryu crouched down before flying high into the air, causing his fist to ride all the way up Sagat’s torso and driving it into his chin. “SHIN!” With his fist going past Sagat’s chin and finally finding into destination under the bridge of Sagat’s nose, Ryu soared higher into the air as Sagat rocketed upwards like a space shuttle. “?SHORYUKEN!”

Ryu landed softly on his feet as Sagat crashed down hard on the ground. Now that the battle was over, Ryu could once again feel the drops of rain pouring down on him?but the serenity was quickly broken when the rain coming down wasn’t water, but blood! With his eyes looking back down to the fallen Sagat, he realized that the mighty emperor’s chest with bleeding with a freshly-opened scar. “Sagat,” Ryu rushed over to his rival as he watched the giant’s blood pool on the soaked tiles. “Are you alright?”

“?Alright?” Sagat repeated amusingly as he sat back up and looked down at his wound. Though he started by chuckling softly, the Muay Thai Emperor eventually erupted into a hearty laugh as the blood from his scar stained his shorts. “HAHAHAHAHAHA?Ryu, you have fulfilled your promise to me wonderfully, and now my scar is weeping in joy!” Once again bursting into laughter as he returned to his feet, the giant looked down at Ryu and smiled at him. “There is indeed something different about you?and it is for the better. That Chun-Li is truly a remarkable person to have unlocked this side of you.”

“How would you know about what happened between Chun-Li and I?” Ryu asked perplexedly.

“I told you, Ryu?monitoring your progress is how I pass the time now,” Sagat explained as he pressed his hand against his scar. “I have contacts around the world telling me the progress of those that I deem worthy opponents, so that I can look forward to facing them. You spent several days in the former detective’s care?and from what I was told, you found something within her that went deeper than mere respect between fighters.” Looking at the blood now staining his hand, Sagat instead folded his arms even as blood streamed down him from the rain. “Tell me, Ryu?do you think she is the one?”

“?yes,” Ryu nodded his head once before looking down at the white shirt covering his body now soaked in the rain. “The reason I have sought you out is because I intend to finally confront my master’s killer. If I can defeat him, then I can be free to be by Chun-Li’s side forever.” Looking back to the smiling Sagat, Ryu bowed his head in respect. “I needed to face you one last time, Sagat, and prove to myself that I could succeed in this nearly-impossible task in front of me.”

“You now have what you need from me, Ryu,” Sagat said before pointing past Ryu towards, to the East. “Return to Japan and face your master’s killer. This new scar you have given me will act as the promise that you will return alive, not just for myself, but for Chun-Li.”

“?thank you for your blessing, Sagat,” Ryu bowed once again before picking up his bag and walking out of the training grounds. “But no matter what happens to me when I face that man?know that you will always be the one that I call ‘my greatest rival’ and that I couldn’t ask for a worthier opponent.”


Chapter 13: Scorn

If there was one thing Chun-Li could find solace in, it was going out to the town in the evening and enjoying the bright lights that Hong Kong had to offer once the sun went down. While she put on a front of being calm and reserved for her students, there was a fun-loving, wilder side to her that she liked to bring out every now and then. With a city that had as vibrant a nightlife as Hong Kong did, it was incredibly difficult for someone to not find at least something to do once the sky became dark and the buildings turned bright.

However, it would seem that spending the night out on the town had lost the appeal that it once had. No matter how hard Chun-Li tried to wash away the concern she felt towards Ryu, she couldn’t get the wandering warrior out of her head. It’s already been three days, and I haven’t heard anything back from him, the woman thought as looked down at the red headband tied around her arm. I don’t know why I’m so worried: Ryu is as tough as they come, and a former Street Fighter champion. If anyone can find a way to defeat Akuma, it’s him?

At first, Guile visited Chun-Li to try and comfort her, pretty saying what everyone else was telling her. “It’ll all work out in the end, Chun-Li,” the Air Force officer said once he heard that Ryu had left the country to face Akuma. “Ryu’s the complete package in street fighting: he’s got strength, speed, skill, smarts, and guts. I don’t know much about this Akuma guy, but whoever he is I can’t say I envy him if he’s pissed off Ryu. Give him time and Ryu will come back to you.”

For whatever reason, Chun-Li listened to Guile’s words, taking comfort in them. After all, this wasn’t just any fighter they were talking about: it was the World Warrior himself, who defeated the mighty Sagat and helped topple the mighty Shadaloo and its demonic leader Bison. Why should one more fight make any more difference to him? He always found a way to win when the situation was most dire, and there shouldn’t have been any doubt that he’d figure a way to emerge victorious against this daunting Akuma.

But what if he fails?, voice in the back of Chun-Li’s head asked. What if he can’t find a way to win, and he never comes back?

Now that Guile had left Hong Kong, having determined that his target Juri Han was no longer in the city, Chun-Li was once again alone, just as she’d been before Ryu had come to visit her. Before she had been complaining that no one from the tournament came to visit her and her school, and in the past two weeks she had caught up with more friends and rivals than she had in quite some time. And all of it started with Ryu’s visit: it was like he was the answer to her wishes. He brought with him friendship, enlightenment?and eventually, love.

Now that Ryu was gone from her life once again, Chun-Li only had one thing in her possession to remember him by: the red headband that was given to her by the wandering warrior as part of his promise that he would return to Hong Kong. Ryu’s headband was something that he was rarely seen without, and represented his fighting spirit and determination to become strong. By leaving that headband with Chun-Li, he was telling her that he was willing to put all of that aside so he could go through with this one last fight. To a street fighter, there couldn’t have been a greater gift from the one who had been hailed as the Ultimate Street Fighter.

*But he’s more than just a fellow street fighter to me now, Chun-Li reminded herself as she continued to look longingly into the red handband. During the time he stayed with me, he revealed a side to him that I couldn’t help but find attractive. I let him into my life?and I even let him into my bed. I was ready to spend the rest of my life with him?and then he goes off to fight his master’s killer, so that he can be with me with no reservations.

Chun-Li knew better than anyone how the drive to bring justice to the murderer of someone close to you could overwhelm a person, but the difference between her quest and Ryu’s quest is that Chun-Li didn’t feel the need to go it alone. She had people like Guile, Ryu, Cammy, and the rest of Interpol to help her topple Bison and destroy the massive Shadaloo organization. Ryu, on the other hand, was running solo into Akuma’s waiting fists, possibly racing to his destruction in the process.

I’ve already lost my father and Charlie to murder, Chun-Li thought as she turned away from her headband and back to the marketplace she was walking through, seeing if she could find something that could help her take her mind off of her troubles from the stands. I don’t think I could handle it if I lost Ryu, as well. I just need to keep thinking positive thoughts. Ryu will come back alive?he has to!

As she was telling herself that, the glare of a television set from one of the stands caught the corner of her eye, causing her to turn around to see Ryu on the screen. With her hopes suddenly raised, Chun-Li quickly made her way over to the television to see the wandering warrior fighting another battle, determination flashing in his eyes just like they always did whenever he was in combat. Is this Ryu’s fight with Akuma?, Chun-Li asked herself as she watched Ryu fire off one of his trademark Hadokens. Did someone record the fight on camera?

Chun-Li’s hopes, unfortunately, were dashed as quickly as they were brought up, as the camera panned out to reveal Dan Hibiki getting blasted by the Hadoken. Seconds later, the footage of Ryu’s battle with Dan was replaced with the Saikyo-ryu’s master smiling face as he shilled his school of martial arts, claiming that even a “famous fighter” like Ryu respected the school of Saikyo. “That figures,” Chun-Li grumbled as she turned away from the television and went back to looking for something that struck her fancy. “I can’t believe that I’m so obsessed with Ryu that I got suckered in to watching one of Dan’s lame commercials?”

As soon as those words escaped her lips, the familiar tinge of feeling someone’s ki signature ran down her spine and alerted her to the presence of someone who could only be a fellow fighter. What a strange sensation, Chun-Li murmured as she lifted her head and looked around to see where the ki signature was coming from. It’s a ki signature completely different from anything I’ve ever felt before?but at the same time, it feels strangely familiar?

Stepping away from stand that she had been browsing over, Chun-Li carefully walked towards the direction of where she was feeling the ki signature and focused herself. Being attuned to her fellow “subscribers” of ki users was something that had gained a lot of practice with since Ryu came over to visit. Whereas before she would have to close her eyes to pinpoint someone, Chun-Li had been utilizing the ability to sense other fighter’s aura so often over the past two weeks that she could just go forward without having to pause.

A few seconds later, Chun-Li found the person who she believed to be the source of the ki signature. He was a tall, slender and handsome young man, wearing a black leather jacket and long red pants with a large Maltese cross on either leg. What stood out most to Chun-Li, however, was the young man’s short purple hair with his bangs partially obscuring his face. I know that I’ve never seen this guy before, Chun-Li thought as she approached the stranger, who was leaning against a building staring off into the evening sky, so why can’t I shake the feeling that I’ve sensed this energy before?

It wasn’t until Chun-Li was directly next to the young man who couldn’t have been older than twenty years old that the stranger shifted his eyes and noticed that there was a beautiful woman next to him. “Oh?hello there, sinjorina,” the young man said with a thin, friendly smile. Motioning his head over to a table sitting several feet away from them, the young man continued. “Would you like to have your fortune read?”

“I was just noticing?your aura,” Chun-Li replied after a bit of a pause. “Are you by any chance a martial artist?”

“I do practice martial arts?but I hate fighting,” the young man replied before looking down to notice Chun-Li’s blue qipao. “You, however, seem to be the type of woman who loves the thrill of battle. Your own aura tells of someone who feels alive only when engaged in combat, whether it be in a friendly sparring session or in a life-and-death struggle against a fiend.”

“?Hmph,” Chun-Li scoffed as she put her hands on her hips. “You talk a big game, but I’m not oblivious to ignore that fact that I’m pretty famous, especially when I’m wearing this qipao. You could have seen a picture of me in a magazine or on the world news.” Looking over to the table the young man was pointing to, where a tortoise shell, old Chinese coins, and a crystal ball were all waiting to be used, Chun-Li allowed herself a smirk. “If you want me to buy your services, you’re going to have to do better than that, mister??”

“Just ‘Xaeraph’ will do,” the young man answered before fully turning to Chun-Li and closing his eyes. With one arm reaching out so that it was hovering over Chun-Li’s face, the youth called Xaeraph gently ran his hand down the woman’s body until it stopped at the headband tied around her arm. “?I sense a wide spectrum of emotions emanating from this headband,” Xaeraph stated without opening his eyes. “It comes from someone who is torn with conflict. On one hand, he is a fighter like yourself and has spent his life gathering strength so that he can meet his destiny?but on the other hand, he is passionately in love and cannot bear to spend a moment away from you. He has given you this headband to satisfy both his urge to complete his journey?and his promise to return to you.”

“?now THAT is impressive,” Chun-Li said with an amazed whistle. Once Xeraph had opened his eyes (which Chun-Li noticed had a very distinct shade of purple), the woman walked over to the table Xaeraph had been pointing at and took a seat. “Just for that, I think I’ll let you tell my fortune.” Once the young man had taken a seat on the opposite side of the table, Chun-Li held out her hand thoughtfully. “Show me what you can do, hot stuff!”

“I don’t think it’s your fortune you’re interested in, sinjorina,” Xaeraph replied before pointing to the headband around Chun-Li’s arm. “I can tell from the emotions emanating from that headband that you are worried about the person who gave it to you. I think it would be much more beneficial to you if I told gave you his fortune.” A mysterious sparkle flashed in the youth’s eyes before he added. “Wouldn’t you like to see if the two of you have a?how would you say it?‘happily ever after?’”

This guy definitely isn’t an ordinary fortune teller, Chun-Li thought as Xaeraph silently asked for the headband. Loosening the headband and placing it on the table, the woman watched the young man take the headband and examine it carefully before carefully flattening it out in front of him. He seems to know an awful lot about myself and Ryu. I wonder if that ki signature I felt from him indicates that he has some kind of psychic power?

Once the headband was flat on the table, Xaeraph reached over for his coins and tortoise shell. It was a method that Chun-Li had seen many times before from fortune tellers in Hong Kong, usually by men who were much, much older than Xaeraph. The coins would be swirled around in the tortoise shell, and then spilled out onto the table, with the direction of the symbols on the coins indicating the fate of the subject. Chun-Li never paid too much attention to the rules as she lost interest in fortune-telling once she “grew up,” but this Xaeraph seemed considerably more competent than most other con men in his profession.

Spilling the coins out onto the table, Xaeraph rubbed his chin in concern. “?this is not good,” the young man said, causing Chun-Li’s eyes to waver. “The fates tell me that your friend is about to engage in a battle that he will not walk away from. Even though his motives are pure, his once-indomitable will has been shaken by the conflict within. Without you, he cannot properly focus his energy to the task at hand, and with the battle ahead of him, that kind of conflict can prove lethal.”

“You mean he’s going to fail?and die,” Chun-Li concluded as she felt despair fill her heart. Despite what Ryu promised her, and despite what all of her friends had told her, the wandering warrior was walking into his last fight just as she had feared. “You have to tell me what I can do to stop that from happening! Tell me, Xaeraph!”

“Please calm down, sinjorina,” the young man placed a hand on Chun-Li’s shoulder and gently pressed her back down into her seat. “Please know that the future isn’t set in stone: I am merely telling you what the fates are telling me. Remember that, if one’s will is strong enough, fate can be overcome and a new path can be forged.” Xaeraph picked the red headband off of the table and returned it to Chun-Li. “The only thing that is keeping him from winning the battle that lies ahead is your absence. If you are there to provide support for him, and remind him of how much you mean to him?then he can fight without regret or reservation, and focus on victory.”

“Can you tell me where he is?”

“?perhaps,” Xaeraph replied with uncertainty as he looked down at his crystal ball. With his hands glowing with bluish-green energy, the young man pressed his hands against the ball and forced it to glow with energy. “?your friend is currently?on an airplane, it looks like. He is thinking about the great battle that lies ahead of him, and how he must emerge victorious if he is to ever know true peace. If you know where he is heading, perhaps you can-”

“I found you at last?”

Xaeraph’s divining was cut short by the sound of a hauntingly familiar voice coming from behind Chun-Li. Slowly turning her head, and hoping that the source of the voice wasn’t who she thought he was, the Chinese martial artist’s eyes widened in shock as she gazed upon a tall, muscular man wearing purple-and-yellow matador trousers with a red sash, with black shoes covering white leggings. Despite the man’s handsome visage, there wasn’t a thing Chun-Li found attractive about the man: in fact, it was the exact opposite reaction. “Vega!” Chun-Li blurted out at the man brushed back his long blonde hair. “What are YOU doing here!?”

“Well well?if it isn’t the lovely senorita Chun-Li,” the man purred seductively as a sinister grin came over his face. While Bison might have been the leader of Shadaloo, Vega had been the organization’s top assassin, and was every bit as ruthless and vile as the man he served. When Shadaloo collapsed, Vega managed to evade the authorities, and it was up to the British MI6 branch of Delta Red to try and capture him. So far, all of their searches turned out fruitless.

And yet, here was Vega in Hong Kong, staring down Chun-Li with the same slimy look he always had when dealing with her. Bison may have been Chun-Li’s sworn enemy, but only the Spanish ninja assassin known as Vega could be called Chun-Li’s nemesis. “I’ll ask you again, Vega,” Chun-Li said as she lifted her hands and assumed her fighting stance, “What are you doing here?”

“I have no obligation to tell you the specific details of the glorious mission that I have received,” Vega replied nonchalantly, as if he were discussing the matter over tea. “However, I do believe that is necessary for a gentleman such as myself to greet a lady as gorgeous as you in a proper manner.” Forcefully ripping off his white button-up shirt to reveal the purple snake tattoo coiled around his torso, Vega pulled his trademark mask and claw from his hips and attached them to his face and hand. “It’s been such a long time, senorita?I’m curious to see if your blood has aged as well as you have.”

An instant after he finished that sentence, Vega suddenly let out a shrill yell and thrust his claw at Chun-Li in an attempt to impale her. Although Chun-Li was able to move her head in time to avoid getting stabbed, the claw did manage to connect with her right hair bun. As a result, the hair bun was completely severed from her head, leaving her long hair to fall down across her back. “You picked the wrong day to mess with me, Vega,” Chun-Li growled as she lunged forward and struck Vega in the chest with a ki-infused punch. “Surrender now or I’ll send you to the hospital!”

(continued next post)


With her left leg shooting out and moving faster than the eye could see, Chun-Li attempted to bombard Vega with rapid kicks, but Vega’s near-inhuman agility allowed him to backflip out of the way and successfully evade the attack. Seeing an opening, Vega took to the ground and rolled forward Chun-Li, bouncing off the ground like a wild tire. Realizing the roll for what it was, a prelude to something nasty, Chun-Li jumped into the air and narrowly vaulted over Vega’s Rolling Crystal Slash, coming down hard on Vega’s head with both her feet being planted into his skull.

Unfortunately for Chun-Li, Vega recuperated much quicker than she would have liked, as he sprang back to his feet as soon as Chun-Li turned back around. With her rage fueling her, Chun-Li sprang into the air with a forward flip, performing a mid-air splits to attempt to bring the full weight of her muscular leg down on Vega’s head with her Hazan Shu. Rather than block or evade the attack, Vega instead opted to counter with a flipping attack of his own: a jumping flip kick that struck her in mid-air and sent her crashing back down to the ground on her buttocks.

“Tsk, tsk, tsk,” Vega clicked his tongue and mockingly wagged his finger at Chun-Li as she returned to her feet. “Such reckless behavior is unbecoming of a woman with your beauty and stature.” Crouching down like a frog about to make a great leap, Vega took off and soared through the air like a bird?over Chun-Li’s head and onto the wall of a building behind her. After bouncing off the wall to jump even higher into the air, the ninja’s eyes widened in bloodthirst as he did a swan dive to the woman below him. “You really should learn to work of your manners, senorita!”


Before Vega could deliver an aerial slash, Chun-Li instead kicked Vega out of the air with her legs spinning vertically to deliver multiple hits: her Tenshokyaku that had saved her many times before. Vega is at his most dangerous while he’s in the air, Chun-Li reminded herself as both warriors landed on their feet, though Vega had to take a moment to straighten his mask. If I want to beat him, I need to keep him grounded, or at least make it seem like going into the air is a bad idea!

Chun-Li charged Vega once again, this time leading in with a spinning high kick to Vega’s head. If there was one weakness that Vega had, it was his obsession with avoiding hits to the head. One of the ninja’s defining characteristics was his narcissism, and he always took extra care in avoiding having his face struck in fear of having his beautiful face blemished. If Chun-Li targeted the head, then it was possible that Vega could make a mistake and give her an opportunity for victory.

It was a good idea in theory, but she didn’t anticipate Vega catching her leg and holding it on his arm. With his long fingernails digging into her thigh, the ninja’s eyes narrowed in silent anger. “If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you were trying to damage my face,” he hissed before lifting his free, clawed hand. “That, my dear, is grounds for discipline!” With a swift slash, Vega cut through Chun-Li’s stocking and left a gash in her trapped leg, eliciting a cry of pain as blood streaked out of her leg.

Using all of her power to pull her leg free, Chun-Li delivered another rapid series of kicks. This time, the flurry hit its mark and Vega was sent stumbling backwards as the kicks rocked his head, chest, and abdomen. With Vega stunned, Chun-Li took the opportunity to check her leg to make sure that it wasn’t too damaged. It looks like I broke away just before he could dig his claws in too deep, Chun-Li thought as she looked at the blood dripping from the gash. Still, it’s going to be hard to focus with how bad it stings!


Hearing Vega’s battle cry, Chun-Li looked up and saw Vega lunging towards her incredibly fast, soaring through the air in a straight line like he had just been shot out of a gun. Had she been any slower, the attack would have skewered her and that would have been the end of the battle. Luckily for her, she was able to duck just in time to avoid that grisly fate and turn around to see Vega land gracefully on his feet. “KIKOKEN,” Chun-Li shouted as she fired off a blast of ki to where Vega had landed.

Turning around just in time to see the attack speeding towards him, Vega lifted his claw and attempted to slash through the ki like he would cut through a piece of paper. While that might have worked for a lesser attack, Chun-Li put a good deal of force into her Kikoken, and Vega instead got the full brunt of the ki attack in his arm, causing him to let out a shout of pain. “Agh?not bad,” Vega said reluctantly as he watched Chun-Li charge at him. “Perhaps there is something to your current state of mind, after all.”


Planting her hands on the ground and spiraling around like a top, Chun-Li outstretched bother her legs in a splits and battered Vega with multiple helicopter-like kicks, hoping that at least someone of them would hit true. Hearing Vega’s grunts as the spinning kicks connected with his body, Chun-Li smiled as she flipped back to her feet and prepared to unleash another series of kicks to Vega’s body?

?but Vega once again recovered faster than Chun-Li would have liked, and instead delivered a snapping kick of his own to Chun-Li’s head. Stunned by the attack, the Chinese martial artist’s vision became blurred with stars, allowing Vega a chance to send Chun-Li flying into the air with another one of his backflip kicks: a technique that he had dubbed the “Scarlet Terror.” With Chun-Li rocketing skyward into the air, Vega kept his eyes the woman and pursued her, jumping over to the nearest wall and ricocheting off of it to increase his ascent.

Though it would have been impossible for pretty much anyone else, Vega was able to catch Chun-Li in mid-air and wrap his fingers around her waist. “Long have I waited to smell your sweet aroma again, senorita,” Vega hummed as he altered his hold on Chun-Li so that both of them were upside-down, plummeting head-first to the ground that was rapidly closing in. “Perhaps absence makes the heart grow fonder, but there is something about you that is even more alluring than before?I wonder what it is.”


With gravity powering them down, Vega and Chun-Li crashed down hard into the earth, with Chun-Li landing on her neck and shoulders while Vega safely landed on his feet. Dazed by the Izuna Drop that had become synonymous with ninjas of Vega’s caliber, Chun-Li groggily returned to her feet and resumed her fighting stance?but her equilibrium had been so altered by the drop that she just as soon tipped over onto her side and groaned. “D-damn,” Chun-Li cursed as she held her hand to her head. “Not here?not to you?”

Just to make sure that Chun-Li wasn’t trying to lure him into a trap, Vega once again rolled forward for a Rolling Crystal Slash. This time, Chun-Li did nothing to defend herself, and as such Vega’s claw was driven into her mid-section. “Don’t worry, my dear,” Vega hummed as he looked up to see Chun-Li cough up blood on his mask. Removing his claw with a sharp tug, the ninja stood back up and watched as Chun-Li grip where she had been stabbed. “I am not going to kill you?just yet, anyway. First I’d like to see what has changed you so much.”

Chun-Li lashed out at Vega with a snapping kick, but the ninja easily dodged and attacked the leg with another slash, eliciting another cry of pain from the woman. I can’t?let it end like this, Chun-Li thought as she continued swinging at Vega, hoping that at least one attack would get through. However, Vega had timed his stab well: it was the type of move that wouldn’t kill her, but slow her movements down to the crawl so that he could take his time with her. Every time Chun-Li’s attack missed, Vega would counter with a kick or a slash that would cause her immense agony. I can’t go down to him?not before?I?ACK!

As Chun-Li felt her reflexes slowing down, Vega once again launched her into the air with a Scarlet Terror and vaulted after her. This time, however, instead of pursuing her with another Izuna Drop, Vega instead lunged at her claw-first, slashing her clothes as he passed by. While that drew a streak of blood and another scream of pain from Chun-Li, it did little but to fuel Vega’s lust for blood as he pressed his legs against the building opposite of the one he jumped from and went after Chun-Li again. Again and again, Vega bounced from building to building like a pinball, with Chun-Li getting caught in his ricocheting as more and more pieces of bloody cloth was ripped from her body.

Finally?mercifully, Vega landed on the ground with his claw now soaked with her blood, while Chun-Li crashed down to the ground with her stockings torn, her midriff exposed, and half of her bra hanging out with slash marks all across her body. Lifting his mask above his face, Vega held his stained claw to his mouth and stuck his tongue out, gently running it across his weapon. “Mmmmm,” Vega moaned in ecstasy as he turned back around to see Chun-Li somehow trying to return to her feet. “I know what’s different about you now: you’ve had a man in bed, haven’t you?”

“H?HCK,” Words seem to be stuck in Chun-Li’s throat as bloody saliva dripped out of her lips. “?How?would you know about that, slime? Have you been spying on me?”

“There’s no need: I can taste him on you,” Vega said with a sadistic grin as he once again licked the blood from his claw. “There is nothing more beautiful in this world than a woman in love?barring myself, of course.” Walking over to Chun-Li as casually as he would approach his car, Vega cupped his hand around the woman’s chin and held her close to his face. “Tell me, senorita, who is the fortunate one to have enjoyed your body and given you pleasure?”

“Drop dead, Vega,” Chun-Li hissed. “I’d rather die than let you get your slimy hands on him!”

Even as Chun-Li was yelling at him, Vega was silently staring at her lips, taking a deep whiff of her breath and pondering what was different about it. There were always horror stories about how brutal Vega was in combat, but Chun-Li had traded fists with the ninja more than enough times to know that the horror stories were being too generous to him. Above all else, perhaps even above his narcissism, Vega was a creepy sadist who got off on the suffering of others, especially those that he deemed worthy of his time.

“?I smell the breath of a vagabond,” Vega said as he let go of Chun-Li and let her fall down to her knees. “I had heard rumors from my contacts that Ryu was in Hong Kong staying with you, but I didn’t think he’d sample the?house special, as it were. Still, it’s too bad that you sent him to his death, just like you have every other man that meant something to you in your life.”

“S?shut up, Vega,” Chun-Li sputtered out as she returned to her feet, Vega’s words igniting a rage within her that gave her a second wind. “Don’t talk like you know-”

“It’s YOU who knows what horrible thing you have done, my dear,” Vega responded as he picked up Ryu’s red headband from the ground and held it up for Chun-Li to see. “You were close to your father, and he was killed. You were close to your partner, and he too met a premature end.” Dangling the headband in front of him like a toy in front of a cat, Vega pulled his mask down and watched the agony drift away from Chun-Li’s face in favor of a shocked expression. “By growing close to Ryu, you have sealed his fate. You are a siren, luring men to their deaths with your song and then finding someone else to play your game with.”

“I said?SHUT UP!”

Ignoring the pain she was in, Chun-Li charged Vega with such speed and ferocity that even he was intimidated by her rage. “SENRETSU KYAKU!” Lifting her right leg as she slid across the ground, Chun-Li bombarded Vega with an even more rapid flurry of kicks than she had been using to keep the ninja at bay, while at the same time still rushing forward. As strong as Vega was, even he couldn’t defend himself from being barged through like the bulls he fought in Spain, being pushed back as Chun-Li continued raining down heavy kicks all across his body.

With one final kick, Vega was sent crashing into the wall that he had grown so fond of using, the back of his head bouncing off of it as he fell back to the ground. This time, it was Vega who was dazed, being unable to defend himself as Chun-Li once again took to the air and came crashing down on Vega’s head with her Hazan Shu, driving him body into the ground with such force that it shattered the ninja’s mask.

“My?my mask,” Vega stammered as he slowly stood back up and looked down at what remained of what was covering his face. Feeling something wet on his cheek, Vega slowly ran his finger across his face and looked down to see what the wet sensation was?and then shrieked in horror when he noticed that the liquid was red and sticky. “You have damaged my flawless features, you cow! Just for that, I’ll?I’ll?oh no?”

As horrifying as a nicked face was in Vega’s book, in paled in comparison to Chun-Li’s scornful glare as blue energy most pure and fierce gathered around her hands, which were as far behind her back as they could go in preparation for an attack that Vega had no interest in seeing. “Gokuuu?” Chun-Li growled as Vega scrambled to make an escape, realizing that there wasn’t anything he could possibly do to defend or counter what was coming next.


The Kikosho was a technique that Chun-Li constantly refined and perfected, trying to discover how she could utilize it in a way that would do great damage if connected but without leaving her drained. The Goku Kikosho, however, was what Chun-Li used when she was pulling out all the stops: there would be no “if” in its effectiveness. When it was used, as it was here against her nemesis Vega, it created a huge globe of bright blue energy that completely engulfed everything around her, like there was a storm going on and she was at the epicenter. Windows shattered, tables were tipped over, and bystanders struggled to keep from getting blown away as Chun-Li poured all of her ki into this breathtakingly powerful attack. I’m not a siren, Chun-Li told herself as she tried to increase the size of the Kikosho. I’m not a siren!

Finally, after feeling completely exhausted, Chun-Li exhaled and let her attack fade, looking to see if it did the job. I don’t see Vega anywhere, she thought as she scanned the area, hoping to find her attacker. Where did he go?

Feeling something brush against her hair, Chun-Li looked up just in time for the red headband to gently fall across her face. “I clearly underestimated the wrath of a woman’s scorn,” Vega’s taunting voice called out to her, telling Chun-Li that Vega had already ascended to the top of one of the rooftop. “Apparently, not only is a woman in love beautiful, but immensely powerful to boot. Seeing this power is almost worth the blemish on my face?so for amusing me, I shall give you back that headband, as well as some information.”

“Information?” Chun-Li repeated.

“Go to Suzaku Castle. That is where you will find your lover,” Vega shouted back, though he was still outside of Chun-Li’s view. “If you think you can save him from the fate of your siren ways, then I suggest you hurry. Goodbye, senorita?I look forward to seeing how powerful you are after you’ve either saved your love or watched it get run through the dirt with his death?”

He’s retreating, Chun-Li thought as she turned around to check on Xaeraph?only to see that he too was gone, along with his entire table. She couldn’t even sense his ki signature. Looks like Vega wasn’t the only one: I can only imagine how terrified that young man had to have been to see such a monster.

Looking at the headband in her hand, Chun-Li stared at it pensively?and then pulled out her other hair bun to let the entirety of her hair go down. With her hair now free, Chun-Li unfurled the headband and tied it around her hair to give herself a ponytail, being held together by the one thing that bound her and Ryu together. Even as her body begged her for rest, being damaged and wounded, her fighting spirit only grew as she pulled out her cell phone and dialed a number. Just as Ryu had someplace he had to be, now she did, as well: his side.

“Po Lin? It’s me,” Chun-Li said as she looked into the night sky. “I need you to help me get to Japan as soon as possible?”


Chapter 14: Meaning

If Ryu had to choose a place that he would have called “home” during his world tour seeking enlightenment, it would have to have been Suzaku Castle. This majestic structure, the pinnacle of classical Japanese architecture, was where Ryu spent the days of his childhood being raised by his Master Gouken. The man who would become known as the “World Warrior” knew nothing about his birth parents, having been adopted by Master Gouken. As far as Ryu was concerned, Suzaku Castle wasn’t just his dojo, but the house in which he grew up in.

Every few months, Ryu would return to Suzaku Castle to reflect on what he had learned throughout his journey across the world. This was the place where Ryu learned his martial art of modified Ansatsuken, and it was here that he met his best friend Ken, who as far as he was concerned was as close to a brother as one could get without being related by blood. Sometimes, a fellow Street Fighter would track Ryu down to Suzaku Castle and challenge him to a match, and so Ryu would be put in a rare situation where he was on his “home turf.” With the spirits of those who trained before him in the castle watching over him, Ryu would fight as hard as he could so as not to disgrace their name.

Stepping into the entrance of Suzaku Castle for the umpteenth time, Ryu opened its door and took a look around. There were no locks in Suzaku Castle, as Master Gouken believed that anyone was welcome into the dojo and observe, so long as their intentions were pure of heart. While that line of thinking would have made it easy for thieves to come in and take whatever they deemed valuable, there wasn’t really anything to steal that was of any monetary value. All Suzaku Castle had were memories of the past, where Ryu and Ken learned from Master Gouken’s teachings.

Besides, very few people even know that people live here, so it’s not like thieves would know there’s anything to take, Ryu thought as he sat down on the hardwood floor and looked down at the dust. Most people just see this place as an old castle that’s long since been abandoned. Ever since Master Gouken was killed, there’ve been rumors that this place is haunted by his presence, and that keeps most people away. Ryu chuckled as the thought sprang to his mind. If I’m not careful, I might be haunting the place right along with him.

Ryu didn’t come to Suzaku Castle to reflect on past experiences this time. He came here to prepare for the greatest battle of his martial arts career, where he would confront his master’s killer in fearsome combat. Even though Ryu and Akuma had fought in the past, there had never been a clear-cut winner. This time, there would be no lingering questions as to who was the more complete martial artist. Either Ryu would defeat Akuma and avenge Gouken’s death?or Ryu would fall at Akuma’s hands and become just one of his many victims.

That’s not going to happen, Ryu told himself as he close his eyes to begin his meditation. A month ago, I would have accepted the outcome of possibly falling at Akuma’s hands, for it would have been a fair death as a martial artist. But now, I have more riding on this fight than my pride as a warrior: there is someone waiting for me to return alive, and I made a promise that I would come back to her.

As Ryu focused his thoughts in preparation for the daunting task that lie before him, the wandering warrior had difficulty thinking about his past fights, which he needed to focus on as it was those experiences that propelled him this far. Instead, whenever he closed his eyes, all he could think about was the breathtakingly beautiful Chun-Li, whether it was talking with her in her kitchen, comforting her after Master Gen’s passing, sparring with her in the park?or passionately kissing her in bed. Chun-Li, the warrior’s heartbeat started to pick up speed as the woman he loved plagued his thoughts. I miss you?and I’m worried that I might never get a chance to tell you how I really feel?

Pounding his fist on the ground, Ryu let out a grunt of frustration and opened his eyes. “Looking like meditating isn’t going to help me this time,” the wandering warrior said to no one in particular as he stood back up and tucked his fists inward. “Maybe I just need to get my body loosened up a bit. HYAH!” Throwing out his left fist directly in front of him, Ryu just as suddenly tucked it back to his hip and threw his right fist out, alternating with each passing second and letting out a yell each time.

How many people have I defeated with these punches?, Ryu asked himself as he continued his exercises, already feeling the sweat bead up on his face. How many warriors have been on the receiving end of these fists that have guided me every step of the way? How many more fighters will these fists come in contact with before I can finally say, “I made it. I am now a true martial artist.”

After the one-hundredth punch, Ryu relaxed his stance and looked down at his gloved hands. Punching wasn’t the only thing his hands were good for: it was with those same hands that he held Chun-Li in his arms, comforting her when she needed it most. Master Gouken asked him many years ago, “What do you see beyond your fist?,” and for the longest time, Ryu only saw another challenger. By spending time in Hong Kong, however, Ryu saw something quite different beyond his fist.

By opening his fist and forming a hand, he saw a gorgeous woman that was waiting for him to complete his journey so that he could go back to the life that they enjoyed together.

?someone’s coming.

Looking up from his hands, Ryu sensed someone approaching. Was it Akuma, showing up earlier than Ryu had anticipated? No?this ki signature is powerful, but it’s not quite that powerful, the wandering warrior observed as he stood ready for whoever was coming. Maybe it’s another challenger, who’s come to seek me out just as I have sought out challenges in other places. As the ki signature became clearer and stronger, the wandering warrior allowed himself a smile as he realized that it was a ki signature that he recognized.

A few seconds later, the source of the ki signature stepped into the room and made himself known to Ryu. The man was thickly muscled, with the kind of muscle mass that would be found in bodybuilders or pro wrestlers, wearing a black wifebeater shirt and baggy green pants with brown combat boots. His long blonde hair was held back in a ponytail, and a red bandana was wrapped around the forehead of his youthful face. “Well?this must be my lucky day,” the big man said with a smile as he outstretched his green-gloved hand and waved hello. “Someone told me that if I wanted to look for you, I should start here?and when I finally find this place, you’re right here waiting!”

“Sometimes fate can work in your favor, Alex,” Ryu said as he returned the wave before bowing his head. Where Ryu had failed in winning the third Street Fighter tournament, Alex had succeeded by defeating the mighty Gill and avenging the defeat of his friend Tom. However, while Alex was the reigning champion, he wasn’t necessarily the stronger fighter, as Ryu was able to defeat Alex in an un-official contest. If Alex was seeking Ryu out, the wandering warrior had a good feeling that it wasn’t because he was making a social visit. “How have you been? Have you been practicing?”

“Every single day, brother,” Alex replied with a smile as he flexed his right bicep, with which was almost as big as Ryu’s head. “Ever since you kicked my ass six ways to Sunday a few months ago, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about when we’ll meet again. It’s hard to describe?but?” The big man looked down at his gloved hand and clenched his fist. “When you beat me, I felt the urge to follow in your footsteps, traveling the world so I could hone my skills and make it so that our next fight wouldn’t be a repeat. It’s weird, because before I was content just hanging around New York and never going any place else?”

“Sounds like you’ve contracted ‘the sickness,’” Ryu replied with a smile.

“What the blue hell’s ‘the sickness?’” Alex asked, having never heard the term before.

“It’s something that every street fighter must come to grips with,” Ryu explained as walked over to a world map on the wall of the room they were in. Motioning for Alex to come over, the wandering warrior waited for his guest to get closer until he saw what Ryu was interested in: the lines upon lines drawn on the map indicating where Ryu had been on his travels. “Street fighting is a very powerful addiction: once you get your first taste, all you can think about is getting your next fix, seeking out more powerful opponents to test yourself against.”

“Look at all these lines and scribbles,” Alex said as he folded his massive arms and leaned in his tall body to get a closer look, being that he stood a few inches higher than where the map was posted against the wall. “Is all of this chicken scratch supposed to indicate where you’ve been on your travels, brother?”

“That’s right,” Ryu nodded his head as he pointed to a circle drawn on the North American continent. “This circle right here is where I first met you, somewhere in Brooklyn, New York. Being that I was taken out of the third tournament earlier than I would have liked, I was looking forward to seeing who won in my absence. When I learned that it was you, I saw that your fist hadn’t yet gained the experience that I had?and after I defeated you, I told myself, ‘I can’t wait what this guy is going to be like with some more battles under his belt?’”

“Yeah?you beat the crap out of me back then,” Alex replied with a slightly embarrassed smile. “You told me to keep getting stronger and seek out stronger fighters, and that’s what I did. And you know what?I’ve really enjoyed that kind of life! The violence, the adrenaline rush, the unspoken communication that can only be done by beating the tar out of each other?as barbaric as it is, I feel like this is where I belong. It’s gotten to a point where some of the people I face tell me that I remind them of you!”

“?would you care to spar, Alex?” Ryu said after a pause, motioning to the open space of the hardwood floor. “I’m planning on making this my final trip to Suzaku Castle, so what better way to celebrate it then by having one last battle inside with a worthy opponent?”

“Now you’re speaking my language, brother,” Alex replied with a smirk as he and Ryu walked to opposite sides of the dojo, doing their respective stretches once they decided they had put enough distance between them. I can already feel the difference between what Alex was back when I first fought him and what he’s like now, Ryu thought as Alex gripped his shirt and forcefully shredded it off of him as if it were nothing more than plastic wrap. Maybe this is what I really need in order to clear my head: a friendly bout with a worthy opponent.

(continued next post)


No sooner had Ryu entered his fighting stance, Alex suddenly lunged forward with his left elbow glowing with energy. Surprised by the sudden act of aggressiveness, Ryu barely had time to lift his arms up to block the Slash Elbow. Even though Alex stood at well over six feet tall and weighed in at nearly three hundred pounds, he was capable of considerable acts of agility that Ryu had only seen previously from Sagat. It was a testament to how much potential Alex had as a street fighter: with time and experience, he could become every bit as legendary as the Muay Thai Emperor.

Unfortunately for Ryu, he forgot that unlike Sagat, who specialized in crushing strikes, Alex’s fighting style was rooted in wrestling, and now he was in range to grapple Ryu. Reaching out with his left arm, Alex wrapped his hand around Ryu’s head and pulled him closer. The big man from New York then reared back and delivered a stiff headbutt directly to Ryu’s forehead, sending the wandering warrior stumbling backwards and rubbing where he had been hit.

Realizing that he had the early advantage, Alex once again lunged forward with his elbow glowing with his yellow ki. However, Ryu wasn’t the type of warrior to fall for the same trick twice, and he countered the Slash Elbow with a powerful Shoryuken that launched both of them upwards into the air, with Alex bouncing off the ceiling of the room and falling down onto the hardwood floor with a thud while Ryu landed gracefully on his feet.

“Ugh?not bad,” Alex said with a groan as he rubbed his chin where he had been struck. “I always get jumpy when I realize I’m winning: guess that’s what I get for jumping the gun.”

“Heh?who said that you were winning?” Ryu replied with a smirk as Alex stood back up and entered his own ready stance. “Don’t count victories that haven’t been won yet, Alex! That’s the first step to losing!” Realizing that being on the defensive against someone like Alex was a bad idea, Ryu took off towards the grappler at a full run before leaping into the air and spinning his leg around in a propeller motion as he came down for a falling Tatsumaki Senpukyaku.

Surprised by the direction of the attack that had confounded him in the past while on the ground, Alex could only throw his arms up in a block in order to protect himself from the considerable power of the Hurricane Kick. As soon as Ryu landed, however, Alex outstretched his arms and attempted to put the wandering warrior in a crushing embrace to set up for one of his more powerful throws. What Alex got instead was a powerful punch to the gut, with Ryu plunging his fist deeper upon impact to add extra damage to the attack.

As Alex stumbled backwards gripping his stomach, Ryu lifted his leg once again and spun around for another Tatsumaki Senpukyaku, this time rushing towards Alex like a car spiraling out of control. “?sucker,” Alex whispered with a smirk before intercepting Ryu with a jumping knee. Keeping his knee lodged into the warrior’s stomach, Alex and Ryu soared higher into the air before the two came crashing back down, with Alex’s knee firmly entrenched into Ryu’s ribcage.

Alex lifted his body so that he could stand back up?but suddenly Ryu grabbed onto his shoulders and pulled him back down! Surprised by how Ryu could recover so quickly from his Air Knee Smash, Alex could do nothing but go along for the ride as the two of them rolled on the ground like a wild tire before Ryu suddenly launched Alex into the wall of the dojo with a grounded throw. Unable to stand up to Alex’s massive weight, the wall splintered upon impact, leaving an unsightly gash in the wall.


As Alex stumbled back to his feet, Ryu continued pressing the offense by firing off a blue Hadoken in Alex’s direction. Even if Ryu couldn’t match Alex for sheer brute strength, he still had a reach advantage thanks his ability to fire ki from his hands. The Hadoken rushed towards Alex like a baseball?but the New Yorker was willing to step up to the plate and hit a home run by charging his yellow ki into his right hand?and then forcefully swatting the Hadoken with a horizontal Flash Chop.

“Nice try, brother,” Alex said before lunging forward again for another Slash Elbow. This time, Ryu jumped over Alex’s head as he delivered the elbow, landing behind the big man and grabbing onto the back of his neck. Using all of his mighty strength, Ryu lifted Alex off of his feet and drove him face-first into the ground with a reverse neck throw. Due to how much power Ryu put behind the attack, as well as how heavy Alex was, the attack damaged the dojo even further and Alex’s body left a visible mark in the hardwood floor.

Lifting his fist as Alex pushed himself off the ground, Ryu delivered a hammer-like blow to the top of the wrestler’s head?but the wandering warrior underestimated Alex’s resiliency, especially when it came to blows to his head. The New Yorker completely no-sold Ryu’s punch and instead drove his shoulder into Ryu’s jaw as he rose back up, launching the Japanese warrior into the air and leaving him vulnerable to another one of Alex’s jumping knees.

Fortunately for Ryu, he had been in much worse scrapes than the one he was currently in, and he surprised Alex but delivering a sharp kick to his jaw as the big man jumped after him. Both fighters landed on their feet, but Ryu was the first to recover enough to deliver the next attack: a Shakenetsu Hadoken that knocked Alex down like a domino and bringing his back down upon the hard floor with a thud. “How are you feeling, Alex?” Ryu asked as Alex quickly rose back up and resumed his fighting stance.

“How do I feel?” Alex repeated as a smile came over his face before he jumped into the air and crashed down onto Ryu’s body with a flying tackle. “I feel?alive!” Pulling Ryu off the ground as he stood back up, Alex received a swift punch to the face from the wandering warrior that rattled his teeth?and only widened his smile. Altering his hold on Ryu so that had his hands wrapped around his waist, Alex bent over backwards and drove Ryu’s neck and shoulders into the ground with a German Suplex.

When Ryu stood back up almost immediately looking only slightly shaken up, the New Yorker continued speaking even as Ryu delivered a standing kick to the side of his neck. “Before I met you, Ryu, I was just some two-bit thug who was too busy worrying about making a decent living and cleaning up the scum off the streets. I just saw fighting as a way to beat up people that ticked me off,” Alex said as he lifted his arm and walloped Ryu with a big haymaker that sent Ryu stumbling backwards. “I couldn’t appreciate the fight for what it really was!”

“And?what do you think that fight is now, Alex?” Ryu asked as he ducked under Alex’s high boot and rose up back to deliver a sharp uppercut to the big man’s chest before firing off a close-range Hadoken that toppled Alex over onto his buttocks. “All my life, I’ve searched for the true meaning of the fight?and it wasn’t until recently that I finally got a grip on what meant to me. What does it mean to you, Alex?”

“When you’re fighting, nothing else in the world matters…” Alex began as he stood back up and lifted his hand just in time to block a right hook from Ryu. Striking Ryu in the head once again with a big headbutt, the New Yorker watched his Eastern rival stumble backwards before lunging forward and delivering a sharp Slash elbow to Ryu’s head. “It’s like, no matter where you are or how many people are watching you, the only people that exist in the world are yourself and your opponent! It’s the one place where you can get to know someone without having to worry about someone else eavesdropping!”


Catching Alex in the sternum with his Joudan Sokutou Geri ? the Sword Kick ? Ryu watched Alex ricochet off the splintered wall once again and bounce towards him, allowing Ryu to strike him a second time with his mighty Shoryuken. “So fighting is the best way to talk to get to know someone you’re not familiar with,” Ryu said as he watched Alex crash back down to the ground only to kick his legs into the air and kip back to his feet, ready for more as Ryu landed gracefully onto the floor. With both fighters resuming their fighting stance, the wandering warrior asked another question. “What do you think your fists are telling me right now?”

“My fists are telling you that I want to learn more about this world we live in,” Alex lunged towards Ryu once again, and Ryu lifted his arms to block the attack accordingly. However, instead of delivering another Slash Elbow, Alex instead grabbed onto Ryu and using his forward momentum to swing around his body before driving his head into the ground with a Spiral DDT. “When you beat me, you left me without hate, anger, or any of the things I used to feel when I fight. You completely changed the way I looked at street fighting!”

Wrapping his arms around the fallen Ryu, Alex used all of his power to dead lift Ryu off of the ground and power his neck and shoulders into the floor with a German Suplex. Keeping his fingers locked around Ryu’s waist, Alex lifted Ryu off of the floor once again only to plant him with yet another Suplex. “I have to know more about what makes street fighting such an amazing thing,” Alex shouted as he lifted Ryu up onto his shoulders and jumped high into the air with the warrior still in tow. “I have to know what it really means to be strong fighter!”

Crashing back down into the ground, Alex powered Ryu down onto his back so hard that the floor gave way and imploded from the impact of the New Yorker’s feared Hyper Bomb that won him so many battles in the third tournament. “You’re a legend, Ryu,” Alex said as he watched Ryu groan in the hole that his body had created. “Everyone I talk to says that you’re the greatest street fighter that ever lived. I have to know?what makes you so strong?”

“?I’m not that strong.”



Launching himself out the crater, Ryu struck the big man with another high-arcing Shoryuken as he leaned over to see if he had won. The suddenness of the attack made it so that Alex had no way to roll with the blow, and as such he received the full power of the Shoryuken was launched into the air once again. “I’m not that tough, Alex,” Ryu said as Alex crashed down onto the floor stomach-first. “I’m no tougher than you are?but what separates me from the others is the pursuit of that same question you’re asking.”

Alex slowly pushed himself off the ground and lifted his hands to resume his fighting stance?but was just as quickly sent back down onto his face as Ryu’s Hurricane Kick collided with his jaw and sent him spiraling away. “What is my opponent fighting for?” Ryu said as he watched Alex groggily return to his feet, clearly a little bit dizzy from so many hits to head (some of which he contributed to with his headbutts). “What makes me any more deserving than my opponent to win this fight? Have you asked yourself these questions when you fight, Alex?”

Gathering his blue ki into his hands, Ryu reared back for another Hadoken as Alex slapped himself hard in the face to try and get his senses back. “For the longest time, I thought the purpose of fighting was to beat the other guy up,” Alex said as he charged his own ki in preparation to swat Ryu’s Hadoken away. “My friend Tom told me that fighting is no good unless you win! So why?why is it that when you defeated me, I actually felt better about myself than losing!”


Rather than unleash a ball of ki, Ryu instead fired off a focused beam of energy almost as wide as his own body. Though Alex attempted to swat it anyway with his Flash Chop, he could do little except take the full brunt of the beam and collide with the wall that had already taken so much punishment during their fight, completely breaking it down and having him crash down into the next room. “To live is to fight?and to fight is to live,” Ryu said as Alex tried to push himself off the ground, only to fall back onto his face and feel himself losing consciousness. Before the New Yorker blacked out, however, he heard Ryu say this.

“You don’t have to win to get the most of the fight?you have to make sure you don’t lose?”


Alex groaned as he awoken from his knockout slumber. The last thing he remembered was going through the wall of the dojo, and then blacking out when Ryu was telling him something about not worrying about winning, but rather not losing, whatever the hell that meant. With the smell of smoke entering his nostrils, Alex’s eyes shot open as he sat up. “There’s a fire somewhere,” he blurted out as he stood up and realized that he was now outside the dojo. Turning his head towards the familiar hot sensation of a nearby fire, Alex drew his attention to Suzaku Castle, which was now engulfed in flame. “How the hell did THAT happen!”

“It’s a signal fire,” the familiar voice of Ryu said, causing Alex to turn around to see that Ryu was holding a lit torch in his hand. “I told you that this would be the last time I’d come to Suzaku Castle, and now I’m making sure of it.”

“But?but isn’t that where you trained when you were a kid?” Alex asked, completely confused as to Ryu’s actions. “I mean, I know we were making a mess in there, but I could have helped you pay the bill to fix the damage. You didn’t have to go and burn the place down!”

“I’m sending a message,” Ryu explained as he walked over to the edge of the nearby river and put the torch out. “I came back to Japan this time because I intend to this to be my final battle as a vagabond.” Turning back to Alex and pointing at the bandana around his forehead, Ryu continued. “You told me that other fighters were saying that you reminded them of me?well, I’m burning down Suzaku Castle because I’m sending a message to someone that I’ve completed my training as a street fighter and am ready to face them for the final time.”

“You mean?you’re retiring from street fighting?” Alex asked, to which Ryu nodded his head once. “What made you decide to quit?”

“It’s not so much that I’m quitting,” Ryu responded as he pointed to the white dragon shirt he was wearing underneath his gi, to which Alex raised an eyebrow in curiosity having finally noticed something different. “It’s just that I’ve finally discovered something to fight for apart from myself. There’s someone waiting for me to return to her?and I promised her that I would come back as soon as I finished this one final challenge.”

“Let me guess,” Alex said with a smile. “She gave you that t-shirt, and you gave her your red headband.” Seeing Ryu nod his head once again, the New Yorker rubbed the back of his head and smiled. “Well, if it’s something natural like that, then I won’t call you a quitter, brother. You be sure to treat her right, whoever she is, or I’ll give you another Power Bomb! I’m not gonna settle for my rival being a lady beater!” Turning back to the burning castle, Alex’s smiled faded as he folded his arms. “So, who’s the guy you’re sending the message to?”

No sooner as Alex finished asking that question, the roof of the burning Suzaku Castle was literally blown off like someone had just set off dynamite within. The big man jumped back in surprise, letting out a loud “WHOA” as the debris from the roof came falling down to the ground. However, upon a bit of reflection, as well as how the top story of the castle compressed, both fighters realized that something didn’t explode from within, but from the outside: someone or something had crashed down on it hard.

“When we first met, you told me that you entered the third tournament to face Gill, the man who injured your friend,” Ryu finally answered Alex’s question as the big man followed Ryu’s gaze up to the top of the roof to see that there was a man standing there, though he was too high up and far away to really tell where he was. “Well, that man up there?he’s my ‘Gill.’ He’s my master Gouken’s killer, and the man that I’ve been trying to catch up to for years and years.”

“?I can feel it,” Alex whispered as a chill ran down his spine. “I’m not into that voodoo power-sensing stuff, but I can actually feel the energy coming off from that guy up there. I can’t explain it?but he just makes me want to run away.”

“You should get out of here, Alex,” Ryu said as the man on top of the burning castle suddenly disappeared. “Find a safe distance and watch our battle. I think you can appreciate the type of battle I’m about to get involved in, where you’re fighting to avenge the pride of someone close to you?”

“You sure you want to go it alone, brother?” Alex asked, placing a comforting hand on Ryu’s shoulder. “Just say the word and I’ll fight alongside you anyway I can.”

“I appreciate that, but this is something I have to do alone,” Ryu answered without turning his gaze away from the castle. “I’ll see you around, Alex?I hope.”

Hearing Alex’s rapid footsteps becoming more and more distant, Ryu focused his attention entirely on the man that jumped from the top of Suzaku Castle and landed hard on his feet several meters away from him, kicking up violent winds upon impact. The man that stood back up sported a deep tan and blood-red hair tied up in a topknot, wearing a black karate gi tied together with a piece of rope and wooden sandals covering his feet. Opening his fiery red eyes for Ryu to see, the wandering warrior gulped as the man stomped his foot on the ground and entered a horse stance while his evil ki visibly radiated from his body.

“I am Akuma, Master of the Fist,” the man growled as he turned his attention to Ryu. “Show me your strength, or die trying!”


Chapter 15: Hand

Suzaku Castle was burning.

In the past, these four words would have elicited nothing short of abject horror from Ryu. Suzaku Castle was not only the dojo where he learned martial arts from Master Gouken, but the place that he spent his childhood in alongside his friend Ken. It held so many memories, both good and bad, that had shaped Ryu and defined him as the person that he was today. If this was any other situation, Ryu would have entered a panic and done everything he could to try and quench the fire.

In this situation, however, it was Ryu who purposefully started the fire that had now engulfed the once-majestic structure. This wasn’t an act of petty arson, or because of any type of malice Ryu had towards Suzaku Castle: in fact, it was just the opposite. Ryu had set fire to his home because he needed to send a message to the man that stained Suzaku Castle with the blood of his own brother, as proof that Ryu had completed his training as a street fighter and he was casting aside the one place that he could call safe refuge in his endless search for a worthy opponent.

Minutes ago, Suzaku Castle saw its last battle between Ryu, the man who currently held the title of “World Warrior,” and Alex, the man who could very well claim that title as his own. It was a worthy send-off for the castle that had spawned the question that Ryu had pursued since the days of his childhood: “What does it really mean to be strong?” That battle, combined with the burning of the castle, made sure that Ryu’s message to his master’s killer rang loud and true that the time for training had ended.

It was now time to finally put down the Master of the Fists, Akuma, or go down trying.

“Akuma,” Ryu finally said after a long silence between the two Ansatsuken warriors, representing two very different schools of thought on what the purpose of martial arts was about. For Ryu, the martial arts were about self-discipline, self-improvement, and understanding between individuals. The different martial arts around the world were as real of a language as anything that could be spoken with words. For Akuma, the martial arts represented the endless pursuit of strength that all humans sought. The stronger martial artists would prevail over the weaker ones, and their defeat would add to the power of the strong. It was a Darwinian code that had earn Akuma countless enemies, but the respect and fear of everyone who knew his name.

“?at last,” Akuma growled as he assumed his fighting stance, the murderous intent radiating from his body to make it appear as if his own ki was consuming just as the flames were consuming Suzaku. “You have finally decided to stop running away and face me in battle. Now I can see just for myself how much you’ve embraced our martial art’s true nature.”

“Don’t get your hopes up, demon,” Ryu replied sternly, his eyes narrowed as he assumed his own fighting stance. “I’m not going to sell my soul just so I could defeat a monster like you. All that would do is turn me into you?and I’d rather die than allow that to happen to myself.”

“Hmph,” Akuma scoffed before running towards Ryu with his lust for violence making his red eyes burn even deeper. As soon as he was within striking distance, Akuma lifted his leg and delivered a high kick to Ryu’s head, which was effortlessly parried by the skill warrior. However, Ryu only parried the first half of the attack, as Akuma spun around for a second kick that struck Ryu on the opposite side, causing him to clench his teeth in pain. “What would be so wrong about becoming like me? Am I not the Master of Fists that have struck down countless enemies?”

Recovering just in time to see Akuma crouch down, Ryu narrowly hopped over Akuma’s attempted foot sweep and struck the renegade warrior in the side of his own head with a spinning hop kick. “There’s no honor in those victories because you fight to kill,” Ryu said as he lifted his fist and attempted to bring it down on Akuma’s head like a hammer going onto a nail. “By taking the lives of those warriors, you deny them the chance to learn from the fight! No one who calls themselves a martial artist should commit a crime as horrible as that!”

“Our martial art is supposed to be the ultimate in assassination,” Akuma retorted as he rose back up with an uppercut that struck Ryu under his chin and ended whatever type of follow-up attack he had planned before it could even begin. “It is an ancient rule that anyone who witnesses our techniques must not be allowed to live! I am merely following the one true code that was set in motion by the old master Goutetsu. When I stained my hands with his blood, he beamed with pride knowing that I had become what he could not: the true master of the fists that conquered any foe that stood before him!”

Keeping his fist lodged in Ryu’s chin, Akuma clenched his opposite hand and ignited it with his fiery purple ki before plunging it into Ryu’s gut, delivering the attack with such force that it lifted Ryu off of his feet. With Ryu still stuck on his fist, Akuma jumped into the air and ran his ki-infused fist up Ryu’s torso and to his throat, delivering the forbidden “Go Shoryuken” that had belonged to the older, more brutal variation of their martial art. It was this very technique that caused Ryu’s master Gouken to forbid use of the Shoryuken, in fear that it would eventually devolve into this violent attack.

Despite the devastating power of the attack, Ryu landed on his feet and charged Akuma even as he was still floating back down to the ground. Before the renegade warrior could properly resume his fighting stance and defend himself, Ryu thrusted his leg forward for a Sword Kick and struck the demonic Master of Fists in his chest, sending him flying away into the grass. “And what about your brother, Akuma,” Ryu shouted back as he resumed his fighting stance and watched Akuma kip back to his feet. “Did he beam with his pride, as well, as his younger brother brutally murdered him?”

“It was not murder,” Akuma spat back before charging his energy and delivering a purple Go Hadoken that sped towards Ryu like a cannonball. “Your master and I were engaged in a battle that would determine which was more powerful: the true nature of Ansatsuken, or the softer, sport-friendly version of Ansatsuken. My Satsui no Hadou emerged victorious, and Gouken paid the price for losing to it. How could you call something as natural and pure as that murder!”


Rather than counter the attack with his usual blue Hadoken, Ryu instead sent his red, more powerful Shakenetsu Hadoken to met with Akuma’s fireball. Somehow, Ryu’s Hadoken completely obliterated Akuma’s Go Hadoken as it continued to speed towards the renegade warrior. Seeing that he had surprised his nemesis, Ryu ran after his own attack as Akuma readied himself for the wandering warrior’s two-pronged assault. “There is nothing pure about a fight to the death,” Ryu shouted as he jumped into the air just as Akuma swatted away his Hadoken and delivered a sharp jumping kick to his head. “Animals kill other animals because they need to survive. Humans have no need to kill other humans! What you’re doing is wrong!”

“Don’t you dare preach to me, whelp,” Akuma roared as he shook his head from dizziness and countered with a long-reaching palm thrust to Ryu’s sternum that sent the younger fighter sprawling. “You have tasted for yourself the power that the Satsui no Hadou grants you: if not for that power, you would have fallen in the first Street Fighter tournament to that behemoth Sagat! If you had continued to embrace that power, you would have emerged victorious in every other tournament you competed in?and yet in the last tournament, you fell at the hands of that senile old fool Oro! Because of your refusal to accept the true nature of our arts, you have become a FAILURE!”

“NO,” Ryu shouted as he landed on his hands and flipped back to his feet to see Akuma take to the air in a forward somersault in preparation for his deceptive Demon Flip. Rather than let Akuma try and confuse him with the myriad of attacks he could do from the position, Ryu instead jumped into the air and knocked him out of the sky with a Shoryuken. Even though Ryu’s Shoryuken lacked the killing intent that Akuma’s Shoryuken possessed, it was still powerful enough to stun the demon and cause him to fall back to the ground on his back.

“What you fail to realize, Akuma, is that there is no shame in losing a fight,” Ryu said lowly as the fires of Suzaku Castle reached their peak, engulfing the building like it had just been plunged into the burning inferno of Hell. Watching Akuma rise back up and wipe some saliva from his mouth with his gloved hand, Ryu slowly resumed his fighting stance and waited for whatever would come next. “Without tasting defeat, we cannot grow and improve. I wouldn’t have gotten to this point if I had won every single battle I’ve been in.”

“?heh,” Akuma smirked, much to Ryu’s surprise. As if the renegade’s stone-like face wasn’t unnerving enough, the smile of the Master of Fists was downright terrifying, as it revealed the canine-like teeth that demonstrated how Akuma had become more of a demon than a man. “It is easy for you to preach about the wonders of losing a fight?but if that is the case, why have you challenged me when you know that doing so is feeding your soul into the jaws of death?”

“?because you are the only thing that is keeping me from reaching the end of this journey of ours,” Ryu replied after a pause, looking down at the shirt that he was wearing underneath his gi. “For years I have searched endlessly for the answer on what it means to be a true martial artist?and I finally have an answer. While we train to strengthen our body and mind, we cannot find true strength unless we cultivate the soul, as well. Until we find something or someone worth fighting for?until we find something that is so precious to us that we’d become stronger to protect it, then we have done nothing to gain true strength.”

“?and you think that fighting to protect someone, your training is somehow more complete than my own,” Akuma said with an amused grin as Ryu lifted his leg and spun towards the renegade warrior with his Tatsumaki Senpukyaku. Rather than defend himself, Akuma instead jumped towards the spinning Ryu and fired off an aerial Zanku Hadoken as soon as he was just above Ryu’s head. The ki attack hit its mark, and Ryu was forcefully slammed into the ground while Akuma landed a few feet behind him. “What utter nonsense! It’s the same kind of drabble that my foolish brother Gouken would spout out.”

“There’s nothing foolish about it, Akuma,” Ryu growled as he rolled over into his belly and pushed himself off the ground, resuming his fighting stance as the demonic warrior turned around to t face him. “I’m going to prove the value of my words to you, by finally defeating you and avenging my master’s murder.” Gathering his blue ki into this hands, Ryu’s eyes narrowed as Akuma’s murderous intent continued to radiate from his body. “Prepare yourself, monster!”

Before Ryu could fire off once his Hadokens, however, Akuma suddenly spiraled towards him like a cyclone, his foot crackling with dark energy. The original scriptures of the Tatsumaki Senpukyaku described the Hurricane Kick as an attack that could clear forests, cutting down every tree in its path. The ideology of this attack was quite evident with Akuma’s Zanku Senpuukyaku, which would have certainly rended Ryu asunder if he didn’t figure out a way to defend himself.

With many other people, confronting a murderous attack like this one would evoke images of the past, likely a result of the “life flashing before the eyes” phenomenon. However, upon seeing Akuma spiral towards him, the unlikely thought of Dan Hibiki using his Koryuken came to mind. If there was ever a chance to see if what Dan did wasn’t just a fluke, Ryu thought as he crouched down for his Shoryuken as Akuma continued speeding towards him, it’s a do-or-die situation like this!


Throwing a prayer into the wind, Ryu went for broke and unleashed his Shoryuken just as Akuma was about to crash into him. To both combatant’s astonishment, the Shoryuken connected with Akuma’s knee and broke him out of his spiral, causing the warrior to be sent careening backwards while doing somersaults in the air. “?you probably can’t hear me right now,” Ryu said out loud as he landed of his feet while Akuma landed flat on his stomach, “but I owe you big time, Dan.”

“Impressive,” Akuma growled as he once again kicked his legs into the air and flipped back to his feet before wincing on his damaged leg. Flexing it once and realizing was was wrong, Akuma lifted his damaged leg and stomped it on the ground, eliciting a sickening popping sound a shout of pain. “AGH! Whatever your ideology, you have clearly become much stronger than the last time we met. Imagine how much stronger you could be if you just embraced the-”

“Shove it, Akuma,” Ryu snapped back. “I already told you: I have no interest in selling my soul just to become a little bit stronger! If having my fights be a little bit harder is the price I have to pay for doing that?then it’s gladly a price I’ll settle for!”

“?then it appears that I have no choice,” Akuma growled as he lifted his large prayer beads off of his neck and tossed them to the side. “Out of respect for my brother, I have refrained for killing you and your classmate all of these years. By tossing aside his prayer beads, I am also tossing aside that hesitation!” With his murderous intent now burning off of him like the inferno that was eating away at Suzaku Castle, the feared “Ten” symbol branded itself on Akuma’s back as he focused his purple ki into both of his hands. “If ripping you to pieces is what it will take for you to unleash your true power?then so be it!”

I know this attack, Ryu thought as the demon’s eyes and hands shone brighter than stars in preparation for one of his many, many killing techniques that had slain so many before him. This is the Messatsu Gou Hadou, the lethal variation of the Shinku Hadoken. It was this attack that forced me to alter my own Shinku Hadoken into a beam attack, so I could overcome it. Taking a deep breath and putting his hands to his left side, Ryu gathered his blue ki and prepared for the worst. I don’t know how well it’ll do that that this is the real battle?but I have to try!

(continued next post)


“SHINKU?HADOKEN,” Ryu roared as his power reached its zenith and he unleashed it in the form of a thick beam of blue ki that sped towards Akuma like a freight train. The wandering warrior poured every ounce of his energy in the attack, hoping to completely nullify the Messatsu Gou Hadou and barge through Akuma’s body like a linebacker?but to his confusion, Ryu felt absolutely no resistance to his attack. It was like he had missed completely and was shooting nothing but air.

Lowering his hands and cutting off the flow of ki so as not to waste precious energy, Ryu noticed that there was no one standing in front of him. He disappeared, Ryu thought in confusion. Where could he have gone?


Startled by Akuma’s roaring voice so close behind him, Ryu darted around with his eyes widening in shock. Somehow, Akuma had teleported directly behind him while still charging for the attack! Unable to counter the attack due to a combination of expending most of his energy in the Shinku Hadoken and just being plain shocked by Akuma teleporting behind him, Ryu could do nothing but throw his arms up in a block and the renegade warrior unleashed a rushing stream of purple ki at him. Originally, the Messatsu Go Hadou was a concentrated bolt of energy that Akuma hurled at the victim, hence Ryu modifying his Shinku Hadoken to form a beam. This time, Akuma fired off a thick beam of energy at Ryu just as the wandering warrior had tried to do to him.

“AGH,” Ryu roared in pain as he was bathed in the untamed energy of Akuma’s attack. Though he didn’t think it was possible before, Akuma managed to make one of his many killing arts even more lethal than it had been originally. It hurts so much, Ryu thought through the storm of energy as he did his best to keep from screaming out in agony. It’s like he’s projecting the fires of hell out at me! And this is just the first of his killing techniques!

To Ryu’s own surprise, the wandering warrior managed to take the full brunt of the Messatsu Gou Hadou and still have the strength to continue standing. Lowering his hands and realizing that the attack had taken its toll on Akuma as well, needing a moment to catch his breath. Unwilling to let such an opportunity be squandered, Ryu lifted his fists and began punching Akuma with rapid fists: two jabs, followed by a gut punch, followed by another two jabs and gut punch until the pattern started to become endless. After the fourth repetition, Ryu kept his fist lodged into Akuma’s stomach until it flashed with his blue ki…prompting Ryu to complete the Reppu Jinrai Shou with a ki-infused Shoryuken that knocked Akuma into the air.

Ryu landed on his feet and looked up to see Akuma still airborne?and fully recovered with his hands glowing with ki. “TENMA,” Akuma roared as he unleashed another killing technique upon Ryu: a hailstorm of lethal purple ki bolts that he dubbed the “Tenma Gou Zankuu.” This was one of the attacks Ryu dreamed about in the nightmare that forced him to leave Chun-Li’s side, after imagining the attack completely devastating Chun-Li’s school of martial arts.

The good news: Akuma wasn’t using the technique on Chun-Li’s school like Ryu had dreamt.

The bad news: he was using it on Ryu, instead!

Unable to do much of anything to counter the attack, Ryu swallowed his pride and instead ran for cover as the shower of ki bolts came down, leaving small craters wherever they hit. I just need to keep running until Akuma runs out of energy and has to recharge, Ryu told himself as he used all of his conditioning to run away from the hail storm that was quickly gaining on him. Problem is, I don’t know how long I can keep this up: Akuma’s energy seems almost limitless. He could probably do this all day if he put his mind to it!

Fortunately for Ryu, the sounds of explosions subsided before Ryu could tire himself out, and as soon as the hailstorm quieted, Ryu screeched to a halt and turned back around to fire off another Shinku Hadoken at the still-airborne Akuma?only to see that he had once again disappeared from view. Keeping his ki primed, Ryu turned around and expected to see another sneak attack from the renegade warrior?only to notice that he wasn’t behind him either. “Stop hiding, Akuma,” Ryu shouted as he put up his fists and carefully monitored his surrounding. “Show yourself and face me head-on!”

“?it’s your funeral, boy.”

Turning back around, Ryu blocked Akuma’s high punch just in time?but when he felt the heat of Akuma’s fiery purple ki near his waist, the wandering warrior realized that he had once again fallen into the Master of Fists’ trap. “MESSATSU,” Akuma bellowed once again as his burning fist struck Ryu’s body with a lethal Shoryuken?followed by another one?and yet another Shoryuken that had both fighters soaring high through the air. The Messatsu Gou Shoryu was an attack that Ryu had seen before, and Ken even modeled his Shoryu-Reppa after it. The big difference was that Ken’s Shoryu-Reppa was used to knock people out. Akuma’s Messatsu Gou Shoryu was used to make people dead.

Perhaps the only reason that Ryu survived the attack was because of the intense training that he’d gone through over the years, specifically to withstand attacks such as these. If Akuma had hit me with this attack years ago, there’s no way I would still be conscious, Ryu thought as he landed on his feet and gripped where the attacks had struck him. I guess adding all of that muscule like Guile suggested helped more than I thought it would?doesn’t mean that it doesn’t hurt, though!

Seeing Akuma rush towards him once again, Ryu focused his gathered ki into his leg for an attack that he created specifically for fighting Akuma. “Boufuuuu?.” Ryu growled as Akuma leapt into the air and dived down foot-first towards Ryu with his foot glowing with his ki. “?.TATSUMAKI SENPUKYAKU!”

As a result of Ryu spinning around at cyclonic speeds with his ki-infused foot spiraling around like the blades of a blender, Akuma was sucked into the man-made tornado and bombarded with rapid kicks. Unlike many of Ryu’s attacks, this particular move could do serious and possibly permanent damage to whoever was unfortunate enough to get caught in it, to a point where Ryu completely omitted it from his arsenal when it came to the tournaments.

For Akuma, however, Ryu was more than willingly to reveal this attack, comparing it to the overwhelming spiraling force of a tornado. Ryu put so much force into the attack that the winds around him were picking up the ashes of Suzaku Castle and swirling around him to a point where it actually DID seem like had formed a tornado. After the devastating 26th revolution, Akuma was sent spiraling away as Ryu landed on his feet and resumed his fighting stance, hoping on hope that he had done some damage.

It took a moment to realize that when Akuma didn’t stop spinning, it wasn’t because he was still sailing from Ryu’s attack. Rather, it was because Akuma was spinning TOWARDS him, moving faster than a bullet train with just as much lethal rushing force. What in the world is THAT!?, Ryu thought as a cold sweat ran down his forehead, keeping his ground as Akuma continued rushing towards him spinning like a top. I’ve never seen an attack like that before!

By the time Ryu realized that it wasn’t the type of attack that he could block, it was too late. Rushing through Ryu as easily as a speeding car would brush past a piece of paper, Akuma delivered a crushing spinning kick to Ryu’s kick that shredded his white gi like pache mache, with the point of impact shooting off a massive burst of crimson ki that took the shape of the same “ten” symbol that was branded on his back. “TENSHOU KAIREKI JIN,” Akuma roared as he gave voice to his attack and screeched to a halt on the ground while Ryu remained motionless.

After a full ten seconds of nothing happening, Ryu let out a pained whimper as he rolled over onto his stomach and very, very slowly pushed himself off the ground. “?impossible,” Akuma growled as Ryu coughed up dark red blood before lifting his fists back up. “That is the latest of my destructive killing techniques: it completely obliterated a war submarine the last time I used it.” Walking over to Ryu and easily dodging the very slow punch the wandering warrior tried to fend him off with, Akuma grabbed Ryu by his hair and lifted him off of his feet. “How can your mortal flesh and bone survive it!”

“?I do it to spite you, Akuma,” Ryu said as he weakly put both his hands on Akuma’s chest before coughing up more blood. “HCK?I do it IN spite of you?because I’ll never let you win!” Focusing his ki into his hands, Ryu allowed himself a smirk as Akuma looked down in surprise. “SHINKU HADOKEN!”

This time, Ryu definitely felt Akuma’s body collide against his beam, forcing Akuma to let go of him as he was sent sailing backwards like he was a bug that had just splat against the windshield of a race car. Finally got him, Ryu thought as Akuma roared in pain, even though Ryu felt like doing the same with how much strain he was putting on his damaged body. This attack probably won’t hold him down for long?but at least I’ve shaken up his faith in his techniques!

Making the wise decision not to waste precious energy on an attack that he wasn’t sure would achieve victory, Ryu lowered his fists and looked into the distance to see that Akuma was now stumbling onto one knee. Normally, Ryu would chase after him and press the attack, but the purpose of the Shinku Hadoken was to give him some much needed breathing time. Akuma had been unleashing killing technique after killing technique on him, and that had to have expended a lot of his energy. Still, being that Ryu’s ribcage felt like it had crumbled into a million pieces, the wandering warrior needed the breather much more than Akuma did.

It’s not just my ribcage, Ryu thought as his eyes started to water up from the immense agony he was in. It feels like every part of my body has suffered from some kind of horrible injury. Even I’m surprised that I can still stand. Looking up to see Akuma once again teleport out of sight, Ryu slowly lifted his fists for his fighting stance and clenched his teeth as the pain shot up through his body. But I can’t fall down, no matter how much I want to. I made a promise that I would emerge victorious and come back in one piece?

“It would be child’s play to put you out of your misery,” the voice of Akuma rumbled, causing Ryu to turn around to see the renegade warrior with his arms folded. “Even if my attacks haven’t killed you by now, it wouldn’t take much more effort for me to finish this battle and send your soul to the afterlife, joining the legions upon legions of warriors that have fallen to my fist.”

“Don’t count victories that haven’t been won, Akuma,” Ryu retorted as he waited for Akuma to make a move, aware that his body was approaching its limit and that any wasteful movement would prove fatal at this point. “Why don’t you attack and see for yourself whether or not I’m child’s play.”

“Even in the face of death, you still stand defiant,” Akuma stated as he noticed Ryu’s body glowing softly with a light blue aura. “It should have not have been possible for you to last this long against me without giving into the Satsui no Hadou. In addition to that, you’ve made it a point not to use any techniques that would guarantee victory.”

“You mean attacks that would kill,” Ryu growled.

“Indeed,” Akuma nodded his head. “By all accounts, you should be dead by now?hmph!” The renegade warrior once again smirked at Ryu’s defiant glare. “Very interesting! The last person to hold up this well against my Satsui no Hadou without giving in to the killing intent was my brother Gouken. It’s very possible that you have surpassed your master with your resolve.”

What’s going on, Ryu thought as Akuma unfolded his arms and assumed a new fighting pose, eliciting memories of the war-like Buddha statues that Ryu would see on his travels across his homeland. Is Akuma?complimenting me?

“The Shun Goku Satsu is the most powerful killing technique in our martial art,” Akuma began as the evil aura around him intensified. “Though seldom have survived it, no one has broken through it! It is the ultimate embodiment of the ‘final strike’ that all martial artists seek to create.” With his glowing eyes narrowing, the renegade warrior continued. “You have just enough energy for one more effective strike before your body gives out and you are no longer a challenge. If you can prove to me the effectiveness of your so-called ‘better way’ and break through the Shun Goku Satsu?then even the Satsui no Hadou will be naught but a minor art!”

The Shun Goku Satsu, Ryu repeated in his mind as Akuma continued charging his energy for the most fearsome and fatal of all his attacks. This is the attack that killed Master Gouken, Bison, and so many other powerful warriors. I know it’s possible to survive it?but I need to do more than that. I have to endure it all long enough to deliver the finishing blow! How can I do-huh?

Even in the face of Akuma’s overwhelming aura, Ryu could feel someone else approaching him: a ki signature that was quite familiar to him. It can’t be, the wandering warrior thought as he turned his head to the direction of the ki signature. All of the pain I’m in must be playing with my head?there’s no way she’d come all the way out-


With that beautiful voice calling out to him, Ryu’s eyes widened to see the familiar figure of Chun-Li coming at him at a full run, wearing the blue qipao that she had worn to so many fights. However, was something different about her: her long brown hair, which she normally kept in buns, was now flowing in the wind, tied together with?his headband. Chun-Li, Ryu thought as the pain in his body seemed to wash up. She came for me?all the way out here!

“HERE I COME,” Akuma roared as he levitated towards Ryu, causing the wandering warrior to turn back to the challenge at hand just as Akuma latched onto Ryu’s clothes. “WITH ENOUGH POWER TO REND MOUNTAINS AND ENOUGH AGONY TO DISRUPT THE AFTERLIFE ITSELF?DIE ONE THOUSAND DEATHS IN THE SHUN GOKU SATSU!”

The Shun Goku Satsu was an attack that was nothing short of the stuff of nightmares. Even though it was possible to survive the attack, the likelihood of it happening was astronomical. It went beyond the mere physics of human anatomy, as was more akin to a supernatural curse. It targeted the sin within a victim’s soul, then amplified it one-hundred fold in the form of destructive energy. The result was an attack had sent innumerous warriors to an early grave, adding their souls to the legion of howling ghosts that surrounded the Satsui no Hadou.

But as soon as Akuma delivered the first strike of the barrage, Ryu remembered something that Gen told him while the old master was on his death bed.

*“If you don’t want your time to come before you’re ready, then you must clear your soul of doubt and embrace what’s important to you.”

?I can see them,* Ryu thought as he took the old man’s advice and focused on the very thing that drove him to finally face Akuma on this early evening. By clearing my soul and focusing only on the woman who makes me feel pure?I can see each of the devastating strikes of the Shun Goku Satsu. It’s as if Akuma is moving in slow-motion! As Akuma’s attacks continued to tear into him, Ryu didn’t break his concentration, still thinking about the woman that had been so kind to him and was now watching his battle with the Master of Fists.

He could hear Chun-Li calling out his name, obviously quite concerned that Ryu wouldn’t get out of the Shun Goku Satsu alive?but the wandering warrior refused to let doubt enter his heart. As long as she was there with him?there was no way he could lose to the Shun Goku Satsu. That’s why when it came time for Akuma to deliver the fatal fifteenth blow of the barrage that would have sealed Ryu’s fate?

?the wandering warrior caught the fist mere inches away from his heart, causing Akuma’s eyes to widen in shock. “I?impossible,” Akuma stammered as Ryu opened his eyes and glared at Akuma as his focused his ki into his opposite hand. “How?how is this possi-BLAGH!”

The warrior’s astonishment was cut short as Ryu plunged his glowing fist deep into Akuma’s stomach, lifting him off of his feet and into the air. “SHIN?” Ryu roared as he focused the very last reserves of his energy into the most powerful of his attacks. With Akuma still suspended into the air, Ryu charged the rest of his energy into his now free hand and drove it straight into Akuma’s sternum before both of them rocketed into the air and the shimmering fist was driven into Akuma’s chin and launched the Master of Fists into the sky. “?SHORYUKEN!”

Even as Ryu floated back down to the ground, he could hear the sounds of footsteps rapidly approaching him. Slowly turning around with a smile on his face, the wandering warrior outstretches his arms and embraced the beautiful woman that had come all the way out to see him?and perhaps saved his life in the feared Shun Goku Satsu. “Chun-Li,” Ryu managed to say, the overwhelming joy he felt being in her arms again overriding how much pain his body was in. “What are you doing here?”

“I decided I couldn’t wait for you,” Chun-Li said with her face buried into Ryu’s strong chest. “After all of the horror stories I’ve heard about Akuma, I just couldn’t bear to let you do this alone. I used some of my old Interpol connections to get flown in to Japan from a jet, and then I used some contacts to tell me where Suzaku Castle was. Then I saw the smoke coming from the forest and I ran as fast I could?thank God I came here.”

“?don’t worry, Chun-Li,” Ryu whispered as he held Chun-Li close. “There’s no way I’ll ever leave your side again?because I l-”


Hearing Akuma crash down hard against the ground, Ryu turned his head to where the Master of Fists had landed, with his eyes widening in surprise when the renegade warrior somehow stood back up. Gently pushing Chun-Li away, Ryu prepared himself for the worst?but let out a sigh of relief when Akuma tipped over and fell down onto his hands and knees. Somehow, through force of will, Ryu had defeated Akuma and avenged Master Gouken’s death.

“?.gooooo,” Akuma groaned as slowly lifted his head to see Ryu walking towards him. “A very long time ago?my brother used that technique against me?and it defeated me that time, as well. It was a testament to his ideology of favoring the fist that achieves victory over the fist that destroys everything. When I killed him, I thought that the two fists were the same?but after tasting your Shin Shoryuken, I can see that I was mistaken?”

“Akuma?,” Ryu said softly as he stood over the defeated demon.

“Your master Gouken told this to me: ‘The fist is only one shape our hand can take. We were given fingers so that we could either smash with a fist?or nurture with an open hand.’” Standing on one knee and very, very slowly standing back up, the renegade warrior lowered his head in shame. “Ryu?you have embraced both sides of the hand, and as such evolved past my fist. You are now the ‘true martial artist!’”

Once he was fully upright, Akuma outstretched his hand, as if to give Ryu a handshake?but as soon as Ryu considered taking the hand, the renegade warrior suddenly slammed it against his chest. “Akuma,” Ryu repeated louder as the hand pressed against Akuma’s chest glowed with purple energy. “What do you think you’re doing! If you do that, you’re-”

“This was a fight to the finish,” Akuma interjected as his hand continued to glow. “To those who follow the path of the Satsui no Hadou, every battle is a life or death situation: you either kill your opponent, or be killed trying. Now that my Satsui no Hadou has been surpassed, my purpose in this world is complete!” Taking note of the shock on Ryu’s face, Akuma smirked one last time as he prepared to say farewell. “Goodbye, Ryu?the true martial-HURK!”

Before Akuma could take his own life with one of his own lethal attacks, the glow of his hand suddenly disappeared as face became racked with pain. When Akuma vomited blood and went limp on his feet, the understandably concerned Ryu stepped closer and watched the eerie glow of Akuma’s eyes slowly fade into they had closed completely. “?Akuma?”


A glowing purple hand exploded out of Akuma’s chest like a jack-in-the-box and wrapped around Ryu’s neck. An instant later, Ryu was roaring in pain as purple electricity crackled around his body, threatening to fry him like he had been put in an executioner’s chair. “RYU,” Chun-Li screamed as she ran over to her lover, who was now convulsing uncontrollably as the hand jutting out of Akuma’s chest tightened his death grip.

Seconds later, the hand let go of Ryu and allowed the warrior to fall back into Chun-Li, breathing heavily as his eyes closed in unconsciousness. Checking Ryu’s pulse and letting out a sigh of relief to see that he was still alive, Chun-Li turned to Akuma and watched the hand pull itself free from the demon’s body, leaving a bloody hole in its wake while his victim fell flat onto the ground lifeless. With the source of the hand now in plain sight, Chun-Li recognized him as the young fortune-teller who told him to follow Ryu to Japan.

“Xaeraph?” Chun-Li said as the fortune teller’s glowing hand dripped with Akuma’s blood. “What are you doing here? Why did you just-”

“You disappoint me, Miss Li,” the fortune teller said with a sick grin as he lifted his head to reveal milky white eyes crackling with purple energy. “We’ve been through so much together, I thought you’d be able to recognize me even when I’m in a different body.” Holding his dripping hand out in front of him, the young man’s grin widened to Cheshire levels. “After all?wasn’t it you who annihilated my illustrious Shadaloo to satisfy your need for revenge? Isn’t it fair that I do the same to those who wronged me?”

Chun-Li’s confusion turned to abject horror as she realized what the young man was talking about. Though his body was different, that cruel, mocking voice and familiar tinge of Psycho Power was enough to make her realize Xaeraph’s true identity?no matter how much she didn’t want to believe it. “Oh God,” she whispered in disbelief as the young man folded his arms. “?it’s you?Bison!”


Chapter 16: Protector

This can’t be happening.

Chun-Li told herself this over and over as she assessed the situation around her. Deciding that she couldn’t wait for Ryu, Chun-Li made the trip over from Hong Kong to Japan in order to be at her lover’s side in his darkest hour during the fight with Akuma. As soon as she was within distance of the Suzaku Castle that acted as their battle ground, she ran as fast as she could before something terrible would happen to Ryu and she was lose yet another man close to her heart. Chun-Li wound up arriving just in the nick of time, as Ryu was about to face the terrifying wrath of Akuma’s most lethal and fearsome technique: the Shun Goku Satsu.

Thanks largely to Chun-Li’s presence, Ryu was not only about to survive the Shun Goku Satsu, but break through it completely and deliver the final blow with his own ultimate technique, the Shin Shoryuken. It seemed that all of Chun-Li’s fears about losing Ryu were alleviated, as she embraced the wandering warrior and took joy in hearing his voice again. It was the type of storybook ending that both of them had strived for in their long careers as street fighters: the killers of their father figures had been defeated, and now there was nothing keeping them from moving on with their lives.

But no sooner had Chun-Li told herself that everything had turned out OK, things took a turn for the worse, and her dream scenario turned into an ugly nightmare that even she couldn’t have imagined.

When Ryu walked over to Akuma to hear his final words, a human hand suddenly erupted from the defeated warrior’s chest and wrapped its fingers around Ryu’s neck, electrocuting him with evil ki and knocking him unconscious. Now, Akuma was dead and Ryu was possibly dying, thanks to a combination of his wounds from fighting Akuma and being pumped full of lethal energy?and the culprit responsible was the same young man that told Chun-Li to go to Japan, only now revealing his true identity as the infamous Shadaloo leader Bison.

This isn’t happening, Chun-Li told herself as she put Ryu down onto the ground and stood up to face her mortal enemy, who was supposed to have been dead for years. This is just a bad dream. I’ll wake up in a moment, and Ryu will be lying next to me, and everything will turn out OK! There’s just no way this is real!

“I do believe you are wondering how I am still alive,” the young man called Bison said with a smirk as he looked at his right hand still stained with the blood of Akuma, the man who had slain him at the conclusion of the second Street Fighter tournament. “You’re a very capable detective, so I can only imagine what you must be thinking as you try to deduce how I cheated death once again.” The resurrected dictator raised an eyebrow as he noted that Chun-Li was now trembling. “Would you like me to tell you?”

“You?you might as well, Bison,” Chun-Li managed to say as she focused her fear and tried to turn it into rage. After all, this was the same man who murdered her father, killed her partner Charlie in cold blood, brainwashed one of her best friends Cammy into being his personal assassin, and ruined the lives of so many other innocent people around the world. Just now, he delivered a near-fatal shock to Ryu, who had grown so close to her over the past two weeks. Why shouldn’t Chun-Li want to drive her foot into his throat and take him down herself? “Let’s hear how you came back this time?”

“You’re angry?good,” Bison observed as his smile widened and his unfolded his arms. “Let’s begin with what happened at the end of the second tournament. You and your friends had just demolished the last of my Shadaloo bases, and I had just been defeated in the second tournament. No sooner had I regained consciousness?,” the young man posing as the evil dictator pointed at the dead Akuma and snarled, “?this fool delivered that Shun Goku Satsu technique, and everything went black. Even I believed that I had met my end?but that is why I created a failsafe.”

“A failsafe?” Chun-Li repeated. “How do you create a failsafe for getting your soul shredded?”

“By creating a backup of myself, of course,” Bison exclaimed as he outstretched his arms and showed off his youthful body. “When I met my end the first time, when you destroyed the Psycho Drive, I realized that without that machine, I would no longer be able to resurrect myself at will. That’s why, while I inhabited Rose’s body, I created a male clone of her in case something happened to me. Every day, I downloaded my memories into this body you see before you, putting more and more of myself into him. Even after my scientists created a new body for me, I made sure to keep this body safe?in case the unthinkable happened, and my true soul was destroyed.”

“But why have you come back now?” Chun-Li demanded to know as she tried to piece together the impossible events that Bison was telling her about. “Why didn’t you return as soon as your old body was destroyed? Why did you have to come back now?just when I had finally moved on with my life and accepted that you were gone forever?”

Bison’s smile turned into a frown as he looked at his other hand that wasn’t stained with blood. “As I told you, this body wasn’t created with my DNA: it was created from my counterpart Rose when I was inhabiting her body. Because of that, I am merely a ghost that has to play guest to my host?who you’ve already met as Xaeraph. I have struggled long to gain dominance of this body, but that meddlesome woman’s spirit is strong. She’s worked hard to keep me shut out so that this Xaeraph can live his own life?but they’re both fools! I am the mighty Bison and I will not be denied!”

With that war cry, Bison suddenly vanished in a flash of purple ki, causing Chun-Li to lift her hands and assume her fighting stance. If there was any doubt about this young man saying who he said he was, it was completely erased with the teleportation technique that belonged to those who wielded the dreaded Psycho Power. No matter how insane the past few minutes had been, Chun-Li had to be ready for anything, including facing the angry ghost of her worst enemy.

Rather than try to go for a sneak attack that would have been so befitting of an honorless fiend of his caliber, Bison instead teleported directly in front of Chun-Li and tapped her in her the same place where Vega had stabbed her two days before in Hong Kong. Even though the attack wasn’t very forceful, it was enough for Chun-Li to scream in pain and put her hand around where the wound had been before taking a swipe at Bison with her hand. She didn’t expect it to do anything, as Bison teleported away a few steps in front of her, but it at least it put some distance between them.

“After years of struggling to gain dominance of this body, I used what remained of my power to send a psychic message to Vega to seek me out. When Xaeraph caught a glimpse of our former top assassin, all of the memories I implanted into him came rushing to the forefront, and I was able to finally take control and carry out my revenge on those who had wronged me,” Bison explained as his entire body started to shine with evil purple energy, causing Chun-Li to shield her eyes from the glare. When the light faded, Xaeraph was no longer wearing his leather jacket and pants, but a black variation of the Shadaloo uniform that Bison wore during his time of prominence, complete with his trademark cap with the skull-bearing Shadaloo symbol. “Now I have returned, in this young and vigorous body?ready to make you suffer as I have suffered!”

With his cape buffeting in the winds that were picking around them, Bison suddenly slid towards Chun-Li foot-first he was a base runner sliding to home plate. However, the speed Bison went at was less like a baseball player and more like a race car, moving much faster than Chun-Li could possibly keep up with. As a result, Chun-Li was swept off her feet as Bison bowled past her as easily as a linebacker would demolish a paper wall. “My killer Akuma has already fallen at my hands,” Bison said with a smile as Chun-Li stood back up and resumed her fighting stance. “Now I shall begin the next phase of my revenge and strike down the woman who destroyed my organization!”

“Don’t count on it, creep,” Chun-Li shouted as she lifted her leg in preparation for one of her many powerful kicks. “I’ve come way too far just to lose to some ghost! This time I’ll send you back to Hell and defeat you just like I should have all those years ago!” Crouching down for a moment, Chun-Li performed a forward flip and executed a mid-air splits for her guillotine leg drop that she had refined and perfected for years. “HAZAN SHU!”

Chun-Li’s thick and powerful legs had earned her worldwide fame and renown since she took up street fighting in her quest for justice against Bison. They had won countless battles for her and contributed largely to her moniker of “the Strongest Woman in the World.” With the Hazan Shu, Chun-Li was using all of her physical training to bring down the full power of her toned leg onto someone’s head, and it was usually enough to at least stun them.

But Bison was far from “usual,” and instead of being hit by the attack or at least blocking it?the dictator caught Chun-Li’s leg as if it were moving in slow-motion. Smiling at the shock in Chun-Li’s eyes as she put one foot on the ground and tried to regain her balance, Bison lifted his free hand and charged it with Psycho Power before pressing it against the claw mark on Chun-Li’s leg that had been left over from her battle with Vega. The result was Chun-Li screaming in pain as Bison’s burning hand pressed into her like a branding iron into a cow. “It looks Vega did quite a number on you in Hong Kong,” Bison said as he licked his lips as Chun-Li’s screaming. “It’s comforting to know that the years haven’t softened him like so many other fighters. Wouldn’t you say so, Miss Li?”

Feeling her leg become numb, Chun-Li lifted her other leg off of the ground and spun around to deliver a kick to the side of Bison’s head, forcing him to let her go at last. Landing on her hands and flipping back to her feet, Chun-Li assessed the damage done to her leg and frowned. Bison’s Psycho Power was rooted in negative emotions such as fear and hatred. With Bison providing the hatred and Chun-L providing the fear, it made for quite an excruciating sensation when he started pumping that power into her wound. It feels like my leg is freezing and on fire at the same time, Chun-Li thought as she resumed her fighting stance and grit her teeth to keep Bison from hearing her scream. What a horrible power!

“Where do you think you’re going, Miss Li?” Bison called out as he lifted his glowing hand, where a crackling purple ball of energy about the size of a basketball materialized. “We haven’t spoken in such a long time. You should really come closer so that we can get to know each other better?or maybe you’d like to play CATCH!” Tossing the Psycho Shot at Chun-Li, Bison folded his arms and grinned evilly as he watched the ball speed towards the woman. The Psycho Shot had felled many opponents who were foolish enough to stand up to him, and he was curious to see how Chun-Li would react to the technique that hadn’t been used in a long time.


Gathering as much energy as she could, Chun-Li unleashed a large Kikoken in order to defend herself against the Psycho Shot. Whereas most ki vs. ki battles would result in both attacks dispersing against one another, Bison’s Psycho Shot was much more resilient than most other ki attacks. I put a little bit extra into my Kikoken, Chun-Li thought as she prepared herself for the worst while she watched her Kikoken and Bison’s Psycho Shot clash against each other violently. Here’s hoping that it does the job!

After a full seven seconds of uncertainty, the Psycho Shot exploded in a burst of electricity, engulfing Chun-Li’s Kikoken in its spectacular death and forcing her to cover her eyes. When the light subsided and Chun-Li opened her eyes, she saw that Bison was gone once again. “Did he disappear again?” Chun-Li said out loud as she resumed her fighting stance and focused on finding Bison’s ki signature. “Where did you run off to, Bison?”


Looking directly above her, Chun-Li eyes widened as she saw Bison gliding down towards her in a swan dive, with his left hand extended glowing with Psycho Power. However, as fearsome as Bison’s Devil Reverse was, Chun-Li did not feel scared at all. Instead, she decided to jump high into the air with her legs spinning around vertically for her Tenshoukyaku. In Bison’s endless aggression, he had left himself wide open for Chun-Li to mount some kind of offense.

To her good fortune, her kicks struck Bison right in his head and propelled him higher into the air while Chun-Li landed on her feet. I definitely felt my kicks collide with his jaw, Chun-Li thought as she looked up and expected Bison to go falling down helpessly to the ground. I know that probably won’t be enough to beat him?but at least it gave me something to work with!

In her eagerness, Chun-Li forgot about the many supernatural powers that Bison possessed?one of them being floating into the air and controlling the skies as easily as he controlled the ground. With his body suspended in the air as if he was being propped up by an invisible pedestal, Bison rubbed his jaw and folded his arms as he looked down at Chun-Li. “Very impressive, Miss Li,” Bison said as he hovered over Chun-Li’s head until he was directly above her. “Too bad it is useless to resist me!”

Plummeting back down to the earth with hammer-like force, Bison completely surprised Chun-Li and prevented her from escaping by driving his feet into her head with a devastating stomp. With her face driven forcefully into the dirt, Chun-Li groaned as Bison bounced away from her. The former detective ignored the pain in her head and pushed herself back to the feet, spitting out the soil that had entered her mouth. Gone again, Chun-Li thought as she noticed that Bison had seemingly vanished yet. I can’t fall for his mind games. I have to-


With Bison’s callous voice calling out behind her, Chun-Li spun around for a kick which was effortlessly blocked by the dictator’s cuff. “SPINNING BIRD KICK,” Chun-Li screamed as flipped over and spread her legs out, spinning around like the blades of a helicopter. She could feel the blows connecting with Bison’s body, so it wasn’t like he was evading everything. The problem was that the kicks were doing little but annoying the warlord, as made evident by how Bison wasn’t doing much in the way of pained grunts.

“Damn you,” Chun-Li growled as she returned to her feet to see Bison still standing with only a look of mild agitation on his face. “Take this!” Lifting her right leg, Chun-Li bombarded the former leader of Shadaloo with a rapid barrage of kicks. While Bison managed to block at first, Chun-Li could feel the hits rain down upon Bison’s chest, stomach, and head. More importantly, she could hear him grunting in pain, telling her that she was having an effect. I’m winning, she thought as she added even more force to her barrage, until her legs seemed like nothing more than obscure blurs. I’m actually winning!

Reality came back to haunt Chun-Li when Bison, having enough of the woman’s insolence, lifted his hand and grabbed her leg even as it was moving at such blinding speeds. “I’m starting to lose patience with you, girl,” Bison growled as his lifted his free hand and charged it with Psycho Power. “Perhaps you misunderstand why I have come back from the dead. I did not come here to fight you in a fair battle?I came here to make you suffer!”

Rather than attack Chun-Li’s leg as he did the last time he had trapped it, Bison instead pulled the woman closer to him so that he could plunge his burning hand into her midsection, right where Vega had wounded her. Chun-Li was rendered silent for a moment as the pain surged through her body and she could feel Bison’s evil power flow around her body. Just when she felt like she could scream again, Bison lifted his other hand and drove it into her face with a palm thrust that knocked her onto the ground.

Returning her feet to see Bison rushing towards her with his feet floating off the ground, Chun-Li thrust both her hands in front of her and unleashed a basketball-sized Kikosho to try and fend him off. It was more of a desperate ploy to keep him from pressing the offense than something to hurt him, but Chun-Li was still stunned from Bison’s attack. It was as if, by doing nothing more than touching her where it hurt, he forcefully invaded her mind and paralyzed her long enough for him to perform a second attack.

It was a type of helplessness that filled Chun-Li with a sense of dread and turned her anger towards Bison back into fear. Bison was no longer just an exceptionally powerful human being: he was an angry specter that had returned from the dead for the explicit purpose of carrying out his unholy revenge against those who fought so hard to put an end to his reign of terror. As she lowered his hands once she was sure that Bison wasn’t going to fall for her ploy, Chun-Li’s eyes widened in shock as the specter’s eyes crackled while two shadows of ki emerged from his body?and then fully materialized to create a pair of clones. This was not the type of power any mortal could possess: it was the power that could only exist in nightmares.

“Scream in pain, insect,” Bison roared as all three of his bodies suddenly lunged towards Chun-Li in forward flips. “KNEE PRESS NIGHTMARE!” Chun-Li had seen Bison’s Knee Press many times in the past, and she studied the move in hopes of finding a way to counter it. However, with three Knee Presses coming at her at same time, bombarding her body multiple times with each additional flip, she could do nothing but scream in pain as she was completely leveled by the attack like a charging frontline infantry would mow down whatever unfortunately enemy stood in its way.

After completely trampling Chun-Li, Bison slowly turned his head as his two clones disappeared, expecting to see the woman’s lifeless corpse. When Chun-Li slowly stood back up and resumed her fighting stance, the dictator couldn’t help but show a bit of surprise as his milky white eyes widened. “You can still stand after that?” he said as he turned back around and charged his Psycho Power once again. “Your toughness is to be commended, Miss Li. I was starting to worry that you’d die on me before I could add to your suffering!”

Holding out his hand in front of him, Bison summoned yet another ball of energy that crackled in his hands. Unwilling to let the dictator get the upper hand, Chun-Li unleashed another Kikoken to catch the Psycho Shot before it could fully develop?but to Chun-Li’s horror, the Kikoken was harmlessly absorbed into the ball, which continued to swell in size like a balloon. This wasn’t an ordinary Psycho Shot Bison was preparing for Chun-Li, but something much, much worse.

“What are you looking at, Miss Li?” An impossibly familiar voice called from behind, causing Chun-Li to turn around to see a second Bison charging up a continuously-inflating Psycho Shot in his palm. “Shouldn’t you be more concerned about what horrible fates lies behind you?or is it that no matter where you turn, you always see my face thinking about how much suffering I bring?” Dammit, Chun-Li cursed as she turned her head to see that there were now two Bisons, each with an incredibly high ki signature. I can’t tell which one is the real Bison!


With their orbs of power now as tall as Chun-Li herself and as wide as king-sized bed, the two Bisons hurled the fruits of their labor at the woman as she turned her head from side to side trying to figure out what to do. Realizing that it would be impossible to block both of them, Chun-Li instead crouched down and jumped straight up into the air with an impressive vertical leap. If it had been any other attack, Chun-Li would have successfully evaded?

?but Bison only grinned wider as he lifted his hand and guided his Psycho Cannon upward, where it intercepted Chun-Li like a heat-seaking missile and trapped her inside of its bubble-like form. Inside of the globe, Chun-Li could not see, hear, smell, taste, or breathe. Instead, every single sensation that her body possessed told her mind only one thing: pain. Her mind, body, and soul were drowning in an unimaginable agony that only allowed her to do one thing?let out a blood-curtling scream and Bison laughed evilly at his handiwork.

“HAHAHAHAH! How does it feel, Miss Li!” Bison cackled as the bubble containing Chun-Li was lowered onto the ground, where Bison could walk over and stick his hand into the bubble. Placing his hand around Chun-Li’s neck and squeezing, the dictator licked his lips sadistically as he felt Chun-Li’s scream become stuck in her throat. “How does it feel to be trapped in Hell as your soul is ripped to shreds, your mind is overwhelmed, and your body is rendered helpless? Do you now see what I had to go through, when Akuma used the Shun Goku Satsu on me!”

Hearing Chun-Li make unintelligible sounds thanks to Bison’s stranglehold, the dictator put his other arm into the Psycho Cannon and pressed his finger against Chun-Li’s lips. “There’s no need for you to speak, Miss Li,” he said with villainous glee as he carefully loosened his grip around her neck?just so he could hear hear scream in agony once again. “All you have to do is verbalize your agony in the form of those lovely screams! The only time I shall allow you to stop screaming?is when you’re dead! Hahahah?HAHAHA-hm!”

(continued next post)


Bison’s maniacal laugh was cut off as he felt something strong bounce off of him. Slowly turning his head around to see what it was, the resurrected dictator grinned from ear to ear as he saw another one of his hated enemies, Ryu, glare at him with his arms outstretched from a freshly-fired Hadoken. “Was that supposed to hurt me, Ryu?” Bison taunted as he snapped his glowing fingers, forcing the bubble of Psycho Power to burst and allow Chun-Li to fall to the ground gasping for air. “Are you upset over what I’m doing to your beloved? Would you like to stop me once and for all, and save your damsel in distress?”

“You are worse than trash, Bison,” Ryu growled as he slowly reared back for another Hadoken. “It’s bad enough you’ve violated the DNA of my good friend Rose, but now you spit on her memory by using her clone to commit acts of murder.” Firing off a fiery red Hadoken at Bison, Ryu’s growl raised into a loud shout. “But I’d never live with myself if I let you kill Chun-Li!”

“How amusing,” Bison hummed as he swatted away the Hadoken as easily as he would bat away a fly. Bending over and picking Chun-Li up by her head, the dictator waited until her eyes opened and directed her attention to Ryu. “I think I’ve discovered a new way to make you suffer, Miss Li,” the dictator whispered in her air before dropping her back down and vanishing. Reappearing directly in front of Ryu, Bison delivered a punishing knee to the warrior’s heavily-damaged midsection and laughed as blood spilled out of his mouth. “You can watch as I torture your hero to death before your eyes!”

Grabbing onto Ryu’s head, Bison lifted him off the ground and poured more lethal energy into his body just as he had earlier, taking great delight in watching him convulse and scream. Ryu had exhausted his energies facing Akuma, and his body was now riddled with energy and the last ounce of his ki reserves drained thanks to saving Chun-Li: if Bison had wished it, he could have easily snapped Ryu’s neck and that would have been the end of it.

But such a mercy was a foreign concept to Bison. Instead of killing Ryu immediately, he instead opted to use his psychic powers to amplify Ryu’s suffering while he electrocuted him. Realizing that he still had once hand free, Bison focused his Psycho Power into it until it burned with purple fire?and then forcefully took a vertical swipe down Ryu’s torso, ripping off the t-shirt he was wearing and looking at the bloody gash that he created. “I’m sensing some deep emotions emanating from this cheap shirt,” Bison said as Ryu continued to cry out in pain. “Being that Chun-Li has your headband, I think it’s safe to assume that this is what she gave you as proof of your pathetic compassion.”

Tossing aside the shirt so that he could continue running his burning hand down Ryu’s torso, going up and down as if he were painting a fence with blood red as his choice of color, Bison noticed that Ryu’s voice was getting hoarse from screaming and laughed. “Hahahha! Don’t worry, Ryu: the two of you can join hands in Hell soon enough!”

As horrible as being trapped in Bison’s Psycho Cannon was, Chun-Li somehow felt even worse watching Bison pummel Ryu like a human punching bag. When Chun-Li slept with Ryu, she did so while taking comfort in the belief that Bison could no longer hurt like he did when he took the lives of her father and her partner. Even when Ryu left Hong Kong to face Akuma, she believed that as long as she could get there in time to support Ryu in his battle, things would turn out OK in the end. As long as Bison was dead, there wouldn’t be anything keeping her from finding happiness.

When her legs wouldn’t allow her to stand back up, Chun-Li instead crawled towards the man that had come to mean so much to her. She had already allowed two men close to her to die at the hands of this madman, and she would not let it happen to Ryu. “Ry?u,” Chun-Li managed to sputter out as Ryu’s screams quieted and Bison let him go at last, leaving bloody gashes where Bison had swiped his hand against. “Don’t die on me?please?”

Slowly opening his eyes and turning his head, Ryu saw Chun-Li approaching him on her hands and knees and smiled weakly. “Chun?,” he managed to say through pain breaths before clenching his teeth in pain. “I?I’m sorry that I can’t?protect you as well as I should?”

“Don’t say anything, Ryu,” Chun-Li responded, much clearer now that the agonizing pain that Bison put her through was subsiding. “I’m a police offier, remember? I’m the one who’s supposed to be protecting you.” Seeing Ryu stretching out his arm towards her, Chun-Li reached out to hold it, if only to tell Ryu that no matter what, she’d be there for him?but she was rudely cut off by the sole of Bison’s metal boot stomping on Ryu’s hand. “NO!”

“Hah! You really make this too easy,” Bison said with a laugh as he grinded his boot into Ryu’s hand, eliciting a pained groan from the warrior. Looking down and turning towards Chun-Li, the dictator gave her another one of his chilling Cheshire grins before lifting his boot and gently placing it on top of Ryu’s head. “I told you already, Miss Li, that I wouldn’t rest until you had suffered as I had suffered?and I am quite pleased at the look on your face right now.”

“Bison,” Chun-Li shouted as she reached out and wrapped her hands around Bison’s leg, doing her best to lift it off of Ryu’s head. “Leave Ryu out of this! This is between you and me!”

“Yes, that’s JUST the look I’ve been searching for,” Bison smiled as he effortlessly pressed down on Ryu’s head even as Chun-Li was trying to save him. “It’s that look of desperation as someone dear to you is about to die right in front of your eyes! You try to fight it, then you try to bargain with it so that it doesn’t happen?and finally, your hope is crushed right in front of your eyes.”

“Bison,” Chun-Li shouted louder as she felt Bison’s leg applying more pressure. “STOP IT!”

“Hmmm,” Bison rubbed his chin as he lifted his leg and allowed Chun-Li to cradle Ryu’s head. “Should I let you save him?”

There was a long and dreadful silence as Chun-Li looked up in the eyes of the monster that had murdered so many people and terrified entire nations to satisfy his lust for ultimate power. It was unlike Bison to ponder whether or not to take a life, as he was a horrible sociopath that took delight in the pain and misfortune of others, so much so that his own Psycho Power thrived the most when despair filled the hearts of hose around him. Chun-Li gulped as she waited for something to happen?until Bison reached down and effortlessly tossed her away from Ryu.

“NO,” Bison shouted as he looked down at the fallen Ryu at his feet and lifted his leg, charging it with his ki. “Because you did not show me the proper respect, now he shall die!”

“BISON,” Chun-Li screamed while Bison licked his lips as he prepared to bring his foot down to crush Ryu’s head like a watermelon. “STOP!”

Just as Bison brought down his leg to act as the guillotine?he paused mere inches away from Ryu’s ear. “W?what’s this!” Bison as he gripped his head in pain, backing away from Ryu in the process. “It’s?it’s you, isn’t it! It-AAAGH!” Letting out a roar of agony, Bison’s clothes started to shift phases, rapidly flashing back to the leather jacket and pants he had been wearing earlier before just as quickly shifting back to his black Shadaloo uniform and hat.


“That voice,” Chun-Li said out loud as she slowly stood back up and watched Bison squirm. “Is that?Xaeraph!”


“QUIET, FOOL,” Bison roared as his body purple Psycho Power surrounded his body to form an aura while his Shadaloo uniform stabilized. “This is my body now! The only reason you exist is because I wished for it. Know your place and let me destroy the fools who?ACK!”

Bison’s losing control of his body, Chun-Li thought as she summoned every last bit of ki she had to offer, the wind swirling around her as she felt Bison’s power waning. I remember reading in a Shadaloo file that Bison can only summon all of his Psycho Power when his body is completely consumed with evil. Since he’s using Rose’s clone as a host, he has to split control of his body with this poor young man. Once she felt her power reach its peak, Chun-Li dashed towards Bison as fast as she could, just as the evil ghost turned around. He’s given me a chance to attack?and there’s no way I’m squandering it!


Lifting her left leg as soon as she was within striking distance, Chun-Li bombarded the vulnerable Bison with rapid kicks moving faster than the eye could keep up with. Feeling her kicks connecting full force with Bison’s flesh, the woman lowered her leg and lifted her right leg for another rapid flurry with equal success. Bison’s roars of pain told her that she was having a noticeable effect on the youthful body that he was quickly losing his grip on. After twenty-hits in less than four seconds, Chun-Li lifted her leg and kicked Bison high into the air with a high boot underneath his chin.

With Bison launched into the air like a rocket, Chun-Li once again gathered her energies for another one of her surefire victory techniques that she had devised over the years. “TENSEI,” Chun-Li looked up to see Bison reach the zenith of his journey, and leapt into the air with her legs extended in opposite directions, spinning around vertically like a buzzsaw with Bison caught in her metaphorical jaws. “?RANKA!” After the sixth revolution, Chun-Li brought her right leg down on Bison’s head and drove him forcefully into the ground, creating a powerful shockwave that kicked up a considerable amount of grass and dirt.

Even as she felt Bison’s head dig into the dirt, Chun-Li didn’t lose sight of how she couldn’t take any chances with him. As she focused her ki into her hands and reared back, she looked down to see that Bison was already stirring. She was no longer just fighting to avenge the deaths of Charlie and her father, or even for the young man whose mind Bison invaded much like he had done when he created Cammy. She was fighting to protect the man who had rescued her when she had needed it most, and was now lying on the ground because of Bison’s torture.


With that name ringing through her head, reminding her of why she had come all the way to Japan in the first place, Chun-Li waited until Bison had returned to feet before unleashing another one of her ultimate attacks. “KIKOSHO!” Throwing out her hands in front of her, Chun-Li engulfed Bison into a vortex of bright blue energy that rapidly widened like a balloon, trapping the evil ghost within the swirling powers that many considered her ultimate testament to the mastery of her ki. Trapped with the vortex, the rushing ki beating against Bison’s body were every bit as solid and as painful as the devastating kicks Chun-Li had been ridding his body with. After the sound of energy pounding against flesh entered Chun-Li’s ears for the twenty-fifth time, Bison was sent shooting out of the fading vortex and crashing down hard onto his face while Chun-Li lowered his hands and exhaled.

Somehow, Bison was not only still conscious, but he stood up seconds later with his entire body burning with Psycho Power: if nothing else, his toughness was to be admired. However, his face curled up into an angered snarl was enough to tell Chun-Li what she needed to know: that she had wiped the cocky smirk off his face and now he was starting to worry that he was going to be defeated yet again.

“I’ve come too far…TOO FAR FOR THIS,” Bison roared as the Psycho Power surrounding his body reached fever pitch, giving off the impression that his power was eating him alive. Lifting his burning hand and clenching it front of his face until it shone even through the violet inferno, Bison sneered at Chun-Li and reared back in preparation for his ultimate attack. “I cannot fight a battle within and without?so as soon as I kill you, I shall torture your beloved to death so that I can finally have some moment’s peace and regain some clarity!”

Chun-Li knew exactly what move Bison was planning to do next: it was a technique so deadly and terrifying that there were times that she had nightmares about being caught in the attack. Bison was an opponent full of deadly techniques that normal humans could only dream about acquiring, but the technique that Bison was about to use now?the one that he intended to kill Chun-Li with, was by far the deadliest. That’s why, instead of making a vain attempt of trying to prevent the attack from happening, she focused every last ounce of her ki into her legs for her own final attack.

“SCREAM IN PAIN, MISS LI,” Bison roared as he launched himself towards Chun-Li, spiraling head first like a drill with his charged hand in front of him while massive amounts of evil ki spewed off of his body like noxious fumes. “PSYCHO CRUSHER!”

I’m not going to die, Chun-Li told herself as she took a step forward and dashed towards Bison as he approached like a runaway freight train about to collide with an innocent bystanders. No matter how frightening Bison is, I will not back down and I’m not going to die. I have too many people depending on me to return home safely, and too many people who would be saddened if I was killed. As Bison’s irresistible force and Chun-Li indomitable will prepared to crash into each other, Chun-Li’s thoughts focused to one individual in particular, with his gentle smile fueling her hope. *I can’t die yet?because I haven’t told Ryu how I feel about him!

We’re so close to finding true happiness?I won’t let Bison take that away from me again!*

Leaping forward with her shimmering right leg in front of her, Chun-Li erased her fears and plunged into the maelstrom of ki given off by Bison’s Psycho Crusher. “What’s this!” Bison eyes widened in shock as Chun-Li punched through his evil energy, rocketing towards him like an arrow with her foot as the head. “This is not possible! THIS IS NOT POSSIB-”


With her glowing foot colliding with Bison’s jaw with such monumental force that the force of impact shook the foundations of the burning Suzaku Castle to its core, Chun-Li landed safely onto her feet as Bison skid across the ground with his body once again fluctuating. Seeing the purple steam erupting from Bison’s orifices while his clothes began to shift and pulsate, Chun-Li lifted her leg and spoke. “Shichisei?Senkukyaku!”

Bison roared in pain as the throes of death once again took hold of him, trying to pull him away from the artificial body that he hijacked. “No?NO,” Bison roared as his body became engulfed in his own Psycho Power. “How?HOW COULD A WEAKLING LIKEYOU STRIKE DOWN?a god like?me.” With his voice fading along with his evil psycho power, the ghost of Bison disappeared completely, leaving the exhausted body of the young man Xaeraph to collapse onto his knees and fall down onto his face in unconsciousness.

There was a long silence as the adrenaline rush started to leave Chun-Li’s body. I did it, Chun-Li thought to herself as she turned to see Ryu slowly getting back to his feet. As the reality of the situation sank in, a smile crept up on Chun-Li’s face as ran towards Ryu, who was already waiting for her with his arms outstretched. “I did it, Ryu,” she shouted as she leapt into his arms and held him close. “I saved everyone and finally took down Bison!”

So engrossed were Ryu and Chun-Li in their victory that they didn’t hear the sound of thunder heralding in rain clouds around them. It wasn’t until the water coming from the sky reached a downpour that the two lovers noticed that during their battle, clouds had building up as if to celebrate the victory of whoever won the great battles that had taken place. “That?that’s just our luck,” Chun-Li said with a smile as she buried herself deeper onto Ryu’s body, ignoring how her clothes were being stained with water and blood. “We’re finally together?and it starts raining.”

“Let the rain come,” Ryu said as he watched the rain quench the inferno that had taken Suzaku Castle, revealing its charred remains. “As far as I’m concerned?nothing, not even this rain, is going to keep us apart.”


Chapter 17: Confessions

“He’s waking up!”

Alerting Ryu and calling her over to her side, Chun-Li watched as the purple-haired young man finally opened his violet eyes and let out a load groan. “Uuuuh?I just woke up, but I’ve never felt so tired in my life. Every part of my body hurts like I just did an hour’s worth of boxing,” the youth grumbled as he turned his head to see Chun-Li kneeling next to him. “Oh?sinjorina! What are you doing here?”

“You don’t remember what happened?” Chun-Li asked with a raised eyebrow.

“I?no,” the young man called Xaeraph shook his head after a pause. “I just remember that masked man in Hong Kong approaching us, and then my head started hurting before things went black. When I woke up, I’m somehow here in the rain in what looks like?,” Xaeraph turned his head to see the charred exterior of Suzaku Castle. “?when I blacked out, I was in Hong Kong! How did I get to Japan!”

“?I don’t sense any murderous intent emanating from him,” Ryu leaned down as whispered in Chun-Li’s ear. “He’s telling the truth: he doesn’t remember a thing.”

Though the young man didn’t seem very intimidating now, two hours ago he had been possessed by the murderous ghost of the dreaded Bison, returning from beyond the grave to wreak his unholy vengeance on those that led to his fall from dominance. Having slain his killer Akuma after the renegade warrior had been defeated by Ryu, Bison turned his attentions to Ryu and Chun-Li who contributed greatly to the fall of Shadaloo. Despite Bison’s wrath, and his new youthful body, Chun-Li overcame the incredible odds stacked against her and not only returned Bison’s soul to hell, but his rescued unwilling host from forever being trapped inside his own mind.

“Xaeraph,” Chun-Li said as she took Xaeraph’s arm and helped him back onto his feet. “Why did you come to Hong Kong? What business did you have there?”

“I was told to come here,” Xaeraph explained as he ran his fingers through his hair and realized that he was soaking wet. “About six months ago, my parents revealed to me that they weren’t my birth parents, and I became determined to see just who my real parents were. By using the money I’ve gained from fortune telling, I’ve been traveling the world since then looking for information about where I’m from. My search led me all over until I got to India, where a yogi monk told me that I should go to Hong Kong, and the answers would be made clear.”

“Dhalsim,” Chun-Li said.

“You know him?”

“He’s a good friend of ours,” Ryu added as he stepped forward. “If he told you to Hong Kong, then it was for a purpose.” Putting a his hand on Xaeraph’s shoulder, Ryu leaned in so that he was next to the young man’s ear. “You did us a huge favor by telling Chun-Li to go to Japan and find me. If she wasn’t here to support me, I probably wouldn’t be standing here. Now it’s my turn to do something for you?do you remember anything at all from after you blacked out?”

“?I remember having a terrible nightmare,” Xaeraph said after a pause and a shudder. “This man in a cape kept telling me that I was weak and worthless, and that everything about me belonged to him. Everything after that is a blur: I just kept fighting him with everything I had while he continued to talk about how he owned me.” The young man’s eyes widened as those words escaped his lips. “Did something happen?”

“You were possessed by a terrible darkness that everyone must one day come to grips with,” Ryu said as he backed away from Xaeraph and spoke loud enough for Chun-Li to hear. “Every living thing possessed the potential for both good and evil, and there comes a time when we must decide on a path to take. When I was a little older than you are now, I had to come to grips with this struggle and decide on whether or not I should choose the light or the darkness.” Turning to the woman next to him, Ryu smiled. “Thanks to my friends, I was able to make the right decision. I’m sure that you will make the right choice, as well.”

“?thank you very much for that, sir,” Xaeraph said gratefully as he bowed his head. Lifting it back up to look at his surroundings, the young man let out a sigh and once again brushed back his wet hair. “Now, if it isn’t too much trouble?is there any chance you could tell me how I could find a way back into civilization? I honestly have no idea how I entered the country, much less found this place.”

“We’ll lead you back into town after I finish one last bit of business,” Ryu said as he turned around. “I need to pay my respects and-AGH!” The wandering warrior let out a shout of pain as he gripped his midsection and grit his teeth. When Chun-Li went to his side and helped him straighten himself out with a look of concern, however, Ryu smiled weakly and said, “I guess my ribs are still in pretty bad shape?heh.”

“I’ll help you over to where you need to be,” Chun-Li said as she put Ryu’s arm around her shoulder and propped him up so that he wasn’t putting all of his weight on his ribcage. Turning her head to see the confused Xaeraph, Chun-Li gave the young man a simple order. “You stay here for a bit: I can only imagine that you’re not in very good shape, either.”

Blinking in confusion as Ryu and Chun-Li walked away, Xaeraph folded his arms only to feel a sharp pain run across his body that could only come from bruises. “Agh?it feels like someone attacked me a sledgehammer,” he said out loud as he unzipped his jacket to look at the welts across his chest and abdomen. “Whatever that man was talking about with fighting a dark side?I didn’t think he meant the fighting being physical!”

“Why didn’t you tell him about Bison possessing him?” Chun-Li said once she and Ryu were well out of earshot from the young man that had nearly killed them. “Wouldn’t it have been easier to tell him the truth?”

“It’s something he’ll have to discover for himself, when he’s ready,” Ryu replied as the two approached a freshly-covered grave lying in front of large prayer beads held up by a wooden stake. “Besides, from what Bison’s rambling told us, it sounds like his awakening is triggered by the memories he implanted into that young man. I didn’t want to risk that monster taking control of that poor kid again, because then we’d all be in serious trouble.”

“Yeah?” Chun-Li nodded her head in agreement as Ryu pulled away from her and knelt down in front of the fresh grave. “It took everything I had just to snap him out of his trance?but at least everything turned out OK in the end. I finally managed to defeat Bison and avenge everyone he’s hurt?and you finally avenged the death of your master by defeating Akuma. I just wish I had your kindness of digging a grave for him?I don’t think I could bring myself to do the same if it was Bison.”

“If it makes you feel any better, Chun-Li,” Ryu said with a grin, “if it were Bison, I wouldn’t have dug a grave for him, either.” Lifting his head to look at the prayer beads acting as the grave marker of the Master of Fists, the wandering warrior’s expression hardened. “I need to say something to Akuma in private, Chun-Li. Could you?um?”

“I understand, Ryu,” Chun-Li folded her arms and watched Ryu close his eyes silently, making sure not to say anything and disrupt the moment between Ryu and his most powerful nemesis, Akuma.

*I’m not sure what I can possibly say to you that hasn’t already been said with my fists, but I think the first order of business is to thank you for being such a worthy opponent for all of these years. When I first learned that you had killed Master Gouken, I was filled with rage and anger, and that almost caused me to follow in your footsteps as a murderous fighter using the Satsui no Hadou. I would have done anything at that time to take you down and avenge my master’s death.

As my journey for strength continued, however, I started seeing some of my opponents not as rivals for me to surpass, but as friends that I had to protect. I’m not arrogant enough to think that I’m the strongest fighter out there, even after defeating you, but even back then I knew that I had power that were often times greater than that of my peers. That was when I decided to completely forsake the Satsui no Hadou and become strong enough to defeat you using a fist clean of blood. I was no longer fighting just for myself, but for the ideals and morals that my friends instilled upon me on my travels.

The years passed by, and my desire for revenge against you dwindled. I don’t think it was until I had that nightmare about you killing Chun-Li that I decided that I had waited long enough and that I had to defeat you. During our battle today, I felt the temptation to call upon the Satsui no Hadou to defeat you several times, as you instilled a deep fear in my heart that even my years and years of preparation couldn’t overcome. The only thing that kept me from doing so was because of the friends that helped me conquer this evil part of me?and the gorgeous woman behind me that became even more than a friend.

No one deserves to die before their time: there was no reason that you couldn’t have walked away from our fight and become stronger so that we could face each other again. As hard as you might find it to believe, I am sad to see you go: even if our ideals were as different as night and day, you brought out the very best of my abilities and you pushed me to exceed my limits. However, even though I’ve defeated you, there is still one last obstacle I have to overcome in order to truly consider myself ready to move on with my life.

Goodbye, Akuma?I can only hope that wherever you are, you’ve finally found a measure of peace.*

Carefully standing back up and bowing his head in respect, Ryu turned back to the waiting Chun-Li and said what he had been meaning to say ever since that wonderful time in the park where they bore their souls to one another with their fists. “Chun-Li?when I came to Hong Kong to visit my friends, I didn’t expect to be invited into your home. I was worried that I was intruding on the life that you had made for yourself as a teacher, and I prepared to leave as soon as I felt like I wasn’t welcome anymore.”

“Well, I hope I didn’t give off a bad impression,” Chun-Li replied with a mischievous smirk.

“You did the exact opposite,” Ryu replied as he reached into his bag that he had left next to the grave while burying Akuma’s body and pulled out what remained of the t-shirt that Bison had ripped off of his body. “I had been wondering where the path of the warrior was leading me up to that point, and whether or not it was time for me to put the life of the vagabond aside. When I stayed with you in Hong Kong, however?all of that doubt was put aside. Suddenly, I knew exactly where I had to be, and that was with you. That’s why I decided it was time to fight Akuma: because I wanted to stay by your side in Hong Kong and move on from the world that Akuma lived in.”

Steeling his nerves as to get to the point, Ryu took a deep breath and went for broke. “I love you, Chun-Li?and I’m ashamed of myself for not realizing it much sooner. And?and now that I’ve defeated Akuma, it’s time for me to move past the life of a traveler and begin the next phase of my life as a martial artist, which is taking care of those around me and helping the next generation. Chun-Li?I want to you to be a part of that life, so that I will never have to leave your side again.”

“Ryu?,” Chun-Li said as she felt her heart racing, though she maintained a façade of calmness. “If I didn’t know any better?I’d say you just proposed to me.”

“?yeah,” Ryu felt his cheeks go hot as he rubbed the back of his head in embarrassment. “I guess?I guess I did, didn’t I?”

There was a long silence between the two warriors as they looked at each other expectantly. Now both of their cheeks were flushed with their hearts just about ready to burst out of their sockets. The two of them had seen so many battles in their lifetimes, and fought alongside one another countless times. Now, years after their first meeting, Ryu had asked Chun-Li to be his wife?a request that Chun-Li answered accordingly.

“You’ll have to pull your weight around the household, tough guy,” she said with a grin, though her cocky exterior did nothing to hide the joy she was feeling. “You might be able to scrape with pennies as a vagabond, but if I’m going to be married to you, you’re going to have to find some stable work. There’s nothing worse than a useless guy who lets the woman do all the work.”

“Is that?a yes?”

Slowly wrapping her arms around Ryu and pulling him close, Chun-Li looked into his eyes and smiled. “Of course it’s a yes, dummy. I came all the way out here to Japan because I had to see you again: I wouldn’t have bothered making the trip if I didn’t love you back. Now?” leaning in closer to Ryu’s face, Chun-Li’s voice went down into a hushed whisper, “?how about you kiss me like you should have done earlier?”

As Ryu’s lips pressed against his now-fiancé’s lips and started a long-overdue kiss, he felt the pain in his body melt away in favor of a warm, soothing sensation. You’ve come and gone from my life so many times over the years, Ryu thought as he embraced Chun-Li as the kiss deepened, and every time I told myself that someday I would see you again. This time, I’m not going to let you leave my life again. Just as you were there for me in my darkest hour, I’ll be here for you?forever.

Hearing the sound of loud footsteps running towards them, the two lovers broke their kiss and turned their head to see the hulking frame of Alex running towards them. “That fight was incredible, brother,” Alex said as he stopped in front of the two and turned his head to Chun-Li, “and you even got a total babe at the end of it! Is this that special someone you were telling me about earlier?”

“That’s right,” Ryu nodded his head as he parted the embrace and introduced Chun-Li to the blonde-haired fighter. “Chun-Li, this is Alex, the winner of the third Street Fighter tournament.”

“Pleasure to meet you, ma’am,” Alex said with a smile before turning around and pointing at a humvee parked several meters away, with Xaeraph already sitting inside. “I ran back into town and rented out that piece of work so I could take you to a hospital where you could get patched up. You took a real nasty beating, and it wouldn’t be fair if I let my rival just walk around all banged up, brother!”

Master, Ryu thought as he followed Alex and Chun-Li to the vehicle that would lead him back into town. I know you’re watching over me, and you’ll continue to watch over me as I start this next part of life. I just want to tell you?thank you for keeping me on the correct path even when you couldn’t be there to guide me along personally. Now I must ask you?continue watching over me as I spend the rest of my days as a married man helping the next generation of street fighters develop into true martial artists just my friends helped me.



Never responded, but I really liked this. Well written.


Thanks, dude. There’s still quite a few typos I gotta edit out, but I really liked how it came out, too.


Bumping the hell out of this to show you the long-awaited cover to End of a Journey, done by the same artist who drew my trademark SFxT Hype Shirt design I go around tournaments with.