Fight Hina - Chapter Three
Chapter Three: The New Manager, Part Two
Morning came over the sleepy resort town of Hinata City.
As always, Motoko Aoyama rose before everyone else. Stifling a yawn, she rose from her futon, and tiptoed over to her dresser. Pulling out a fresh hakama, her sword and a towel, she quietly exited the room, not waking up Suu, who continued to sleep.
After a quick bath in the hot springs (in which she took notice of the rocks becoming slimy, promising herself to thrash Keitaro once he returned), she got dressed, and headed for the roof. If was early in the morning in which she could train without distraction, and it was a while since she had went into her thousand-strike routine.
However, as she climbed the steps to the rooftop, she saw that someone was already there.
That person was Chun Li.
Dressed in a one-piece tracksuit (minus the vest), and a pair of tennis shoes, her hair done up in her usual braided and bunned style and secured with yellow ribbons, the Chinese martial artist was standing in the middle of the rooftop, going through a kata. Motoko stood transfixed, mesmerized by the gracefulness of the Chinese woman. Her moves were fliud and smooth, not rushing as Chun Li went through her Wushu routine, looking like a Chinese ballerina.
Finally, after completing her kata, her back to Motoko, Chun Li spoke.
“You’re drooling, Motoko,” she said before turning around.
Motoko stepped onto the roof. “That…was amazing. How long have you been training in martial arts?”
“Since I was four. I received my first black belt in Wushu when I was fifteen, and when I was eighteen, I got my black belt in Kenpo.” She shrugged her shoulders. “My husband was the one who got me to get up early every morning to train with him,” she said, smiling sheepishly. “As you can see, I am not a morning person. But I guess it kind of rubbed off on me.”
“Can I ask you something?” Motoko asked.
“Why did you get…married?” the Shinmeiryu heiress asked, still pronoucing the m-word with some difficulty.
“You have something against married women?” Chun Li asked, arms folded.
“No, no!” Motoko replied shaking her head. “You just…you just remind me of my older sister. She relinquished her position as the Shinmeiryu shihan to get married.” She turned her head to the side. “Men are nothing but perverted beings.”
Chun Li sighed. “Motoko, listen to me. I told you - all of you - last night that all men are not perverts,” she said, placing one hand on her shoulder. “You’re still young. When you grow older, you’ll see what I mean. In the meantime, today is a busy day for all of us. Your landlord will be arriving with my husband, and I need to run to the market once it opens.”
“When will Urashima and the other male arrive?” Motoko asked.
“In the afternoon.” Chun Li looked at Motoko intently. “Don’t be so quick to judge, Motoko. Try to get to know them first before you pass judgment on them. You show other people that you can’t trust them if you pass judgment on them too quickly.”
Chun Li left the rooftop. As the Chinese martial artist took her bath, the other Hinata House residents awoke to another day. Kitsune was lounging around on the couch, Naru went off to prep school and Shinobu, Suu and Sara hung around the house.
The day, so far was uneventful. But that was about to change within the next few hours, with the arrival of Ryu Hoshi.
It was past noon when Keitaro and the two martial artists arrived in Hinata City.
Keitaro led Ryu and Sakura to Haruka’s teashop. Business had slowed down somwehat, giving Haruka and Kentaro a break, but there were still scattered patrons inside the cafe. Mutsumi was out running an errand for Haruka.
Keitaro was dressed in his usual clothes, while Sakura was was dressed in a V-necked shirt and her fuku skirt. Ryu, however, was dressed in something more pratical: his white karate gi, with red headband, and a pair of leather sandals on his feet, having been in a match earlier with a local fighter. Ryu was carrying his usual white duffel bag in one hand, slung over his shoulder and a slender bundle in the other hand, wrapped in cloth. Sakura had an overnight bag and her knapsack with her books inside.
Keitaro saw his aunt behind the counter, wiping it down with a bored expression on her face.
“Hey!” Keitaro called out. “Aunt Haruka!”
In an instant, Haruka tossed the nearest object she could get her hands on, which was an empty sake bottle, at Keitaro without looking. Ryu, acting just as fast, caught the object before it connected to Keitaro’s face.
“It’s Haruka, Keitaro,” Haruka scolded. “We’ve been through this before.” She looked up and saw Ryu holding the bottle in his hand. She sized Ryu up. “I thought you were in Brazil training.”
Ryu placed the bottle onto an empty table. “I was, but that was a couple of years ago. You’re looking well, Haruka. I still see you’re still up to your bad habits,” he added, regarding the cigarette that she was currently smoking. He gestured to Sakura. “This is my apprentice in the martial arts, Sakura Kasugano. Sakura, Keitaro’s aunt, and owner of this cafe, Haruka Urashima.”
Haruka looked at Sakura, nodding in greeting. “Since when did you decided to take on students?”
“I’ve been training her for four years now,” Ryu replied. “She is already a shodan in both Ansatsuken and in Shinjutsu. Aside from being my pupil, she is also a freshman at Tokyo University.”
Haruka looked at Sakura. “So you’re Toudai, huh? Maybe you can give my nephew some pointers on how to pass the entrance exams.” She looked at Ryu. “So…are you ready for this?”
Ryu nodded. “As ready as I’ll ever be. I’ll be fine.” He grinned evilly at Haruka. “I can always evict them if they get too difficult.”
“I forgot about these stairs,” Ryu said as he, Keitaro and Sakura walked up the stairway that lead to Hinata House.
“Are we there yet?” Sakura whined.
“Almost, so quit whining,” Ryu replied.
The trio reached the summit. Sakura looked around the property, then at the massive structure that was Hinata House. “Wow. Nice place,” she said.
“It used to be an inn,” Keitaro explained. “My grandmother used to run it until she decided to travel and leave it to me.”
“This place…it hasn’t changed,” Ryu said, looking at it.
As they approached the front door, they heard voices from inside.
“I agree with you, Kitsune. Urashima has been completely careless this time. Eventhough I like the new manager, Urashima should still show some responsiblity for his actions.”
The door opened and out stepped Kitsune and Motoko. They saw their wayward manager, along with two strangers. Motoko, however, immediately recognized Ryu.
It was several months back, when Motoko had been on a training trip with her Kendo club in the mountains. Inside the training hall, was a man wearing a white karate gi, the sleeves tattered, as if they had been ripped off. Around his forehead was a crimson headband. He was kneeling, with his sheathed sword in his lap.
Motoko, being the Kendo club captain, attempted to eject the man from the hall. However, he had merely blocked her attack and knocked her out.
Since then, Motoko has been obsessing over the fact that a man not only had beaten her, but had knocked her out without even trying.
Now here he was once again.
And the look that she was giving Ryu was nothing short of bloody murder. Motoko went for her sword. “YOU!” She drew it and charged.
Sakura grabbed Keitaro and pulled him out of the way as Ryu calmly dropped his belongings and advanced on the charging swordswoman. As Motoko attacked, Ryu grabbed her wrist and flipped her to the ground, Motoko landing on her rear.
Inside, Chun Li had heard Motoko scream and had rushed outside, just in time to see Ryu counterattack Motoko. Kitsune, Shinobu, Suu and Sara approached from various sides, watching the battle take place.
In pain from landing on the stone walkway, Motoko jumped to her feet. Ryu was standing there, arms folded. “You again, Kendo girl?” he asked dryly, remembering their last encounter.
Motoko clambered to her feet. “It’s bad enough that we have to deal with a perverted weakling like Urashima…but YOU…have you any idea what you did to me?!” she half-screamed.
Ryu shrugged his shoulders. “You attacked me, so I knocked you out. So?”
“‘So?’ ‘SO?!’ I have became the laughing stock of the Kendo club!” Motoko ranted. “You sullied my honor! And now…you dare to show your face at our home! I will banish you from here if necessary!” Motoko charged again, sword held high.
“Motoko, stop!” Chun Li shouted.
Ryu stood his ground.
Motoko leapt into the air, preparing to unleash a Shinmeiryu ki attack on the male.
Ryu drew his hands back, summoning his own ki, then fired. A bright blue bolt of energy sailed at Motoko with devestating speed at the teenage kendoist. The ki blast caught Motoko in the chest, sending her flying back and her sword spinning into the air. Motoko landed on her back while Ryu casually caught her sword from the air and strolled over to her. Keitaro, in the meantime, had picked up his duffel bag and sword.
“Silly little Kendo girl who likes to think she is a samurai,” Ryu said before turning the blade downward and impaling the stone pathway, inches from Motoko’s left ear. “Honor is not in one’s weapon. Honor comes from the person themselves.”
He looked up. Chun Li, as well as the rest of the residents who were drawn to the scene by Motoko screaming were watching the one-sided impromptu match. All of the girls were shocked at the sight of Motoko on her back. Motoko glared back at Ryu, who looked down at her as if she wasn’t worth the effort.
Then Chun Li was standing over Motoko. “Well, Motoko, I see you met my husband.”
Motoko blinked. “Husband?”
She then turned to Ryu. “You finally showed up.” She then rushed him and embraced him. After a moment, she released him and turned to the shocked residents, who were at the moment, tending to Motoko. “Girls, this is my husband, Ryu Hoshi. We’re both acting as co-managers at Keitaro’s request.” She gestured to the girl who was standing beside Keitaro. “This is his student, Sakura Kasugano.”
Motoko abruptly stood up and forcibly shrugged off the girls’ attempts to help her. “I will not accept this!” she shouted before yanking her sword from the pathway and storming back into the house.
After Motoko slammed the door behind her, Kitsune spoke up. “Wait a sec…Keitaro hired you as well?”
“I did,” Keitaro replied, a smug grin on his face. “I’m taking a break. Ryu and Chun Li are the managers for the next two months. Let’s see you give them the respect that you, Narusegawa and Motoko don’t show me.”
Kitsune was taken aback at the sudden change in Keitaro’s attitude. Normally, he would be forgiving, but now, Kitsune realized that maybe she, Naru and Motoko had crossed the line.
Inside the landlord’s room, Ryu unpacked his clothes as Chun Li watched him. “So what was that all about?” Chun Li asked.
“Remember when I went on a training trip in the mountains a while back?” Ryu asked. When Chun Li nodded, Ryu continued. “I ran into the Kendo girl when I was up there. She tried to attacked me, so I knocked her out.” He shrugged his shoulders. “I thought she had forgotten. Looks like I was wrong.”
*Somewhere in the mountains, several months earlier. Inside a mountain dojo, Ryu was meditating in the lotus position, dressed in his usual karate uniform.
From the doorway, the gathered girls of the Girls’ Kendo Club looked at the Ansatsuken fighter, whispering and giggling amongst themselves.
"Who is he…He’s cute…“He must be a martial artist. Look at that sword he has with him…He must be a master kendoist.”
“What’s going on here?” Motoko demanded as she walked up to her teammates. “Why aren’t you inside the training hall?” she demanded. “This is supposed to be a training trip, not a vacation.”
“Sempai, there is a man inside the training hall,” one of the kendoists replied.
Motoko’s eyes narroed. “A male. Here?” She marched inside the training hall and stood before Ryu, who was still meditating. “You. Male! You are welcome here. Leave!”
Ryu ignored her.
Motoko drew out her bokken. “You dare ignore me? Either you leave willingly or I will force you out of here.”
At that moment, Ryu opened his eyes. “You can try,” he replied.
Motoko raised her bokken and brought it down, aiming for Ryu’s head. Ryu, still on his knees, quickly responded by grabbing his sword, still in its sheath and parried the blow. He then lashed out, catching Motoko full in the torso with the scabbard, knocking the air out of her lungs, causing her to double over. He then swung his sword upward, the sound of hardwood meeting a human jaw was loud in the empty training hall as the kendo club watched in disbelief as Motoko’s head snapped back as the blow sent her into the air.
She landed flat on her back, out like a light. The Kendo club was so silent that one could hear a needle drop. Ryu slowly got to his feet and looked at the downed Shinmeiryu kendoist. He bowed slightly, turned and exited the training hall without further incident as the Kendo club rushed around the fallen Motoko, trying to get her back to consciousness.*
Ryu shrugged his shoulders. “How was I supposed to know that her kendo club used that training hall as a dojo?”
He picked up the slender bundle and undid the string holding the cloth altogether. The cloth fell to the floor, revealing Ryu’s weapon: a Masamune sword; beautiful, yet deadly. The sword was given to him once he made shihan of Ansatsuken Shinjutsu. Ryu pulled the sword out of its scabbard. The blade itself was forged from a special type of metal that was only found in the Hokkaido region of Japan hundreds of years ago, giving it a light cobalt blue color.
The sword was a priceless heirloom within the Ansatsuken school, the blade itself considered to be indestructable. The sword was perfect in every way. On the scabbard, was the slogan Fuurinkazan carved into it in Japanese kanji. The term translated as ‘swift as the wind, silent as the forest, fierce as fire and immovable as a mountain.’ According to Gouken, the slogan was based on Sun Tzu’s Art of War, which dictates how one should conduct battle.
It was also how the praticioners of Ansatsuken and its kendo counterpart carried themselves in battle.
Ryu was trained in the art of swordsmanship by both Gouken and Gouki since he was six, now a master himself, with Gouken, who favoring the non-lethal verison of Shinjutsu, while Gouki used the style to its purest. Ryu, however, went down the middle path, using both variations of his masters’ styles and created his own style.
Ryu regarded his sword as he placed it onto the desk. Or at least started to when he hesitated.
Chun Li noticed this. “What is it?” she asked.
Ryu ignored her and turned to the closet. Walking past her, he opened the closet and found what he had sensed through his sword. Chun Li looked in from behind. “What’s this? A sword?” she reached out to it, but Ryu grabbed her wrist in a gently, yet firm grip.
“That’s no ordinary sword,” Ryu warned. “It’s the Hina Blade. That sword is posessed.” He released Chun Li’s grip on her hand. “Come here.”
Chun Li followed him back to his sword. Upon returning back to his side, Ryu handed her his sword. In an instant, Chun Li felt the blade’s power, as if it was vibrating.
Ryu answered her unspoken question. “My sword and the Hina Blade are opposites. From what Gouki has told me, my sword was forged inside a Shinto temple using an ancient technique that is now lost. So in a sense, it can sense anything with either cursed ki or something that is posessed.”
“Doesn’t Ansatsuken Shinjutsu uses cursed ki?” Chun Li asked.
Ryu shook his head. “No. My styles uses positive and negative ki energy. Gouken was proficient in the light side of Ansatsuken, while Gouki preferred the dark side. I trained under both masters, as you already know. I’ve managed to come to a middle ground with their techniques, something that both men had failed to do. You can say that I can take the Ansatsuken styles down a different path.”
He picked up a towel and some extra clothes. “I’ll be in the bath.”
Chun Li poked him in the ribs. “I’ll cook tonight. Good thing I went shopping earlier.”
Meanwhile, a furious Motoko was in her room. Kitsune was trying to calm her down.
“I remember seeing him in Nagoya,” the resident fox said. “Back when Keitaro and Naru failed the Toudai exams.”
“Damn you, Urashima!” Motoko snarled. “Now he is here again! Why?”
“Because no one else wanted the job,” Keitaro said from the doorway. The kendoist and the fox turned to face the vacationing manager, who had a cool look on his face.
“It was either have them back me up as temporary managers,” Keitaro said as he wiped his glasses on his shirt before placing them back on his face, “or I place a little phone call to your sister and have her take over while I’m gone.”
Motoko paled. She wasn’t scared of anything, but mention her elder sister and she immediately gets the shakes.
“I thought that maybe you three would have some managers who wouldn’t hesitate to throw you out on the streets,” Keitaro continued. “And Ryu’s sensei and my grandmother are longtime friends, so he took the job.” He looked at Motoko. “Looks like you met your match, Motoko. Good luck in trying to push him around,” he said, remembering seeing Ryu destroy two pratice dummies; one with his bare hands while the other with a Shinjutsu ki technique.
“He reminds me of Seta,” Kitsune said. “What fighting style he uses?”
“Ansatsuken,” Keitaro replied matter-of-factly, “and Ansatsuken Shinjutsu.”
Almost immediately, Motoko looked up. “Ansatsuken? A likely story, Urashima,” she said. “That style is just a rumor.”
“We’ll see won’t we?” Keitaro said as he left the room.
Naru, in the meantime, has returned to Hinata House. Upon entering the common room, she spied a short-haired girl around her age sitting on a couch, several books placed on the table. “Excuse me?”
Sakura looked up. “Oh. Hello. You’re a resident here?”
Naru nodded. “I am. Who are you?”
“Sakura Kasugano,” Sakura introduced herself. She looked at Naru. “Wait a sec…you were at the Toudai entrance exams a while back, weren’t you? Your name was…Narusegawa, right?”
“It’s Naru. What are you doing here? You come to rent a room?”
Sakura shook her head. “My sensei and his wife are acting as interim landlords for the month, and he asked me to tag along so he can continue training me.”
“Landlords?” Naru repeated. “So where’s that no-good baka at?”
“You mean Keitaro?” Sakura replied. “He’s talking with Chun Li in the dining room.”
Originally, Naru considered going in and confront Keitaro, but chose against it. It was then she looked down and noticed the textbooks that were scattered along the table. “Wait a minute…those are Tokyo U. books! You’re a student?”
Sakura nodded. “Yes I am. I’m a physical education major. What about you? You’re a Todai student too?”
Naru shook her head. “No. I’m a ronin. I missed it by ten points.”
“Tough break,” Sakura said before sitting back down. “I need to get back to work. Nice meeting you.”
Naru left Sakura alone as she headed for her room. After picking up some articles of clothings and a bath towel, she went back downstairs and headed for the changing room.
Upon arriving at the doors, she saw the sign that was posted on the door. The sign was in both English and Japanese and read **BATH OCCUPIED - PLEASE DO NOT DISTURB. **Unforunately for her, she chose to ignore it.
After undressing and wrapping a towel around her body, she stepped into the hotsprings. What she saw was a naked man in the hotsptings. His back was to her as he grabbed a nearby towel and wrapped it around his waist.
Ryu spun around, just in time to see Naru lunge at him, the smaller woman delivering her infamous Naru-punch. Imagine Naru’s surprise when Ryu stopped the attack by catching it with his hand.
Naru, at that moment, realized several things. One: this guy wasn’t Keitaro. Two: he had stopped her punch. Three: he didn’t look very happy.
“Pervert?” Ryu repeated. “Since when did I do anything perverted?”
“You came in here to peek on me, pervert!” Naru screeched.
Ryu scoffed. “If anything, you came in here after I had put up the sign outside. If anything, you are the pervert here.”
By this time, Keitaro, Chun Li, Kitsune, Motoko, Shinobu and Suu had showed up and were watching this exchange.
“So you must be Naru Narusegawa. Keitaro has told me a lot about you. For all we know,” Ryu continued, knowing that sooner or later, Naru would make a huge mistake that he could take advantage on. “You’d probably like looking in on me.”
“SCREW YOU!” Naru screamed as she swung her other fist at Ryu.
Ryu smirked to himself as he casually sidestepped the blow and stuck his leg out, tripping Naru and sending her into the hotspring with a loud SPLASH.
He turned to Chun Li and the others. “All too easy,” he said as he exited the hotsprings through the changing room.
Kitsune, however, caught the smile that was Keitaro’s face as Chun Li walked over to the edge of the hotsprings and crouched over, just as Naru came back to the surface.
“Why did you try and punch out my husband?” Chun Li asked in a annoyed tone.
“He was in the hotsprings,” Naru feebly replied, flinching under Chun Li’s glare.
“And there was a sign placed outside the changing room,” Chun Li said, berating the drenched redhead. “Next time, you’d better heed the sign’s warning should you want to take a bath. If the sign is there, then use the bath on the third floor, understand?”
Naru nodded, backing away slightly.
“And you will apologize to Ryu when it is time for dinner. You need to grow up, Naru.” The way Chun Li said it was more than an order, rather than a request. With that said, Chun Li turned and left the hotspring.
“Who the hell was that guy?” Naru asked after she had gotten dressed. Both Kitsune and Motoko were in her room.
“The male is Chun Li’s husband,” Motoko replied, still upset over the fact that Ryu was staying with them for the next two months.
“What does Keitaro think he’d doing?” Naru half-shouted. “This is still a girls’ dormitory! What if he tries to take advantage of Shinobu or Suu?”
Kitsune shook her head. “He doesn’t look like the type. I’ve seen him before.”
Naru turned to her friend. “You have?”
Kitsune nodded. “It was back in Kyoto, after you and Keitaro failed the entrance exams. About the same time that Motoko had found Suu and Shinobu, I was watching him compete in a match. He was fighting this huge bald-headed kickboxer with an eyepatch over one eye and this big scar on his chest.” She turned to Motoko. “How did you know him?”
Motoko’s grip tightened on her sword. “I was on a training trip with my kendo club several months ago. He was there inside the dojo. I tried to eject him from the training hall, but he knocked me out cold. And today…when he showed up here with Urashima and his student, I tried to throw him out…and he knocked me down.”
“You DID attack him, Motoko,” Kitsune pointed out. “All he did was defend himself. And after what I saw back in Kyoto, he is very tough. I’d watch yourself if I were you, Motoko.”