I wrote this prologue over four years ago and have since managed to write one chapter a year every year thereafter. The writing is a little rough, the dialogue lacking (in more ways than one) and more than a tad stilted and there are probably a fair few errors along the way. The idea was to write a Street Fighter story that tied together and explained a lot of those vague back-stories that have propelled the series along. I also wanted to put to rest some of those demons the Alpha 3 script writers incompetently summoned and this was the only way I knew how. If I get any response not largely consisted of f and s words and personal attacks on my mothers integrity, Ill probably post up the rest. Hope you enjoy.
"There is no such thing as an omen. Destiny does not send us heralds. She is too wise or too cruel for that"
The martial artist’s resolve did not falter as his opponent, screaming stridently, leapt towards him. Both his foot and leg were outstretched strongly, threatening to tear off his head had he refused to move. Ryu ducked at last allowing his opponent to land behind him, the attack missing him totally. With that, Ryu shuffled forwards, spinning to face his foe as he distanced himself. His assailant, having landed, had already spun into a backfist to which Ryu blocked firmly, yet was unprepared for the following blow. Another fist darted forward slamming convincingly into his chest, forcing him to fall backwards to catch his breath. His rival ceased the attack.
“You alright?” Ken asked with genuine concern, his wealth of fair-hair, tied back neatly into a knot by an immaculate crimson ribbon had fallen slickly past his shoulder. He moved to his dark haired, white-clad companion instinctively.
“Yeah, just a bruise.” Ryu responded in a wheeze, now squatted on the ground in a bid to catch his breath. “It was a nice move.”
“Ya should have seen it coming. If you bothered to attack me, you wouldn’t be in this mess.” Ken chortled, smiling broadly to his healing companion. Ryu failed to share in his good humour.
“I was waiting for the right moment. Don’t criticise my fighting unless you’re sure you can best me!” he replied stalwartly, his tone rich and proud. Ken smiled again, shaking his head in silence.
“Oh believe me, I can best you. I’m not the one crouched on the floor gasping for breath.” Ken beamed as he spoke, impatiently placing both hands behind his head as he waited for Ryu to ready himself.
“Is that right?” Ryu grinned. He raised his scornful gaze upwards and thrust his fist unswervingly at Ken’s unsuspecting stomach.
“Wha-!” Ken barely managed to splutter as the blow connected both brutal and swift. Within moments he had been reduced to a gasping, grimacing wreck on the floor. Ryu, convulsed with both pain and hilarity, chuckled sorely before ultimately rising to his feet.
“It was obvious I was going to do that.”
In due course Ken found his way back to an upright position, amused somewhat at his jovial friend and rival. The two stepped away from each other cautiously, dusting themselves from the earth and dirt that had found its way onto their training outfits. Ryu paused, raising his head to the heavens as icy trickles of rain began to drip from the dimming, scarlet sky. The leaves from the wilting autumn trees sped past him as a soft yet bitter wind crept in from the North. The fighter mused briefly in the cold. He had trained here for most of his life and enjoyed sparring with Ken more than anything in the world. Nevertheless he knew that a change was coming and his training here was nearing an end. He would have to leave soon, and that thought alone caused his usually gentle features to harden sorrowfully. Still, he would make best of what little time he had left. He nodded to Ken once and they both fell back into their fighting stances.
“Again!” Ken announced, and with that the sparring resumed.
Late evening shaded into night, and the two, having trained hard enough for the day, reluctantly returned to their dojo. Their sensei was nowhere to be seen; Ryu immediately assumed he had retired to bed and so they hastily made their way to the dining area.
“I’m starved!” exclaimed Ryu. “I haven’t eaten since breakfast.” Ken smiled instantly.
“Whatever! I saw you devouring those apples before our race. Man, you eat like a horse.” The two laughed quietly and sat themselves Indian-style in the middle of the room. A meal had already been prepared for them and in less than a heartbeat, feasting commenced. The two fell silent, as was usual around this time given the demands of training, although Ken was aware that something was amiss with his partner.
“You alright, Ryu? If it’s possible you seem quieter than usual.”
“I’m fine. Just thinking.” he responded.
“That’s all you ever do. Care to share?”
“Nope.” Ryu answered with a smile.
“It’s because we’re leaving isn’t it?” Ryu couldn’t help but raise an eyebrow. “Don’t be so surprised, I’ve been thinking about it too. Where we’re headed, who we’ll meet.” Ken paused. “You think there are better fighters than us out there?”
“I know there are. What’s important is that we learn from our defeats and become stronger.”
“Defeats? Who could possibly beat me? After all, I’m the best Shotokan martial artist in the world. Nobody alive has been good enough to beat me yet” he sniggered. Ryu chose not to respond to his comrade’s humour. He sat there for a moment, trying to fall into meditation.
“I’ll miss you.” Ken mused aloud. Ryu angled his neck in Ken’s direction, his eyes widened briefly in surprise.
“I’ll miss you too.” He responded finally. “But you know why I have to go?”
"Yeah, I know. A higher calling. The meaning of the fight and all that. " Ryu nodded, bade goodnight to his friend and retired to bed.
As Ryu headed to his chamber, Ken’s azure eyes thinned. He lurched to his feet, tiredly making his way outside to dimly lit porch light, the gentle glow of the lone candle that sat alone by the door illuminated his crimson gi. He cast his waning vision in the direction of the hills, already having rested himself against one of the sturdy wooden beams that held the dojo upright.
The day will come when you and I will have to fight, Ryu. The cool breeze of the thin night air sped past him, forcing him to shut his eyes. I just hope I’ll be strong enough to win.
The night passed quickly, as they often did in the secluded dojo hidden somewhere in the limitless mountains of Japan. The shimmering rays of the eastern sun had awoken the two earlier than usual, and already they had made their way outside to begin training. Ken had suggested that they train at the roof of the dojo waterfall. He had mentioned that combat could take place anywhere and the cool, shallow waters would make the battle even more interesting. What he actually meant by interesting was dangerous. Ken had a habit of looking for trouble but it didn’t perturb Ryu in the least. As they reached the clear waters, combat began immediately.
Ken darted at Ryu as soon as the martial artist had turned to begin. The first kick to come was unprecedented, but he parried immediately and returned with a fist of his own. Ken slipped back a step and allowed Ryu to complete his attack. As soon as Ryu’s fist had missed, he made a grab for his arm. Ryu was prepared. As Ken’s hand caught a hold of his arm, he stepped forward, striking an elbow deep into his chest. With that, he snapped his hand towards Ken’s neck, catching a hold, and used the momentum to hurl him over his shoulder. Ken spun over his enemy, the strength of the blow to his chest enough to have winded him for the moment. Nevertheless, the throw did not topple him and he landed on his feet with his back to Ryu. His leg shot back instinctively, catching the unwary Ryu in the abdomen. He fell back instantaneously clutching at his wound for a brief instant. Ken had already taken a step back to hold his chest and Ryu sped forward to capitalise on his mistake.
Ken was more than an excellent martial artist. He was also an accomplished actor. Ryu’s fist shot forward but Ken had already crouched. His hand passed over Ken harmlessly exposing his body completely. The malicious grin on Ken’s face was justified. Ryu had erred, and he was about to feel the sting of his arrogance. His dark eyes widened in dread as Ken rose into the air.
“Sho-Ryu-Ken!” came the cry from scarlet-garbed martial artist as he soared upwards at a blinding pace, his clenched fist held firmly above his head. The brief glimmer of heavenly light that sparked from his hand bore testament to the awesome power of the attack and Ryu, reeling in shock, stumbled backwards unsteadily as the blow narrowly missed his chin. The sheer force of the strike tossed him back regardless and he crashed into the crystal clear waters of the lake. Ken twisted as the height of his blow reached its utmost and fell back to the ground, grinning widely. He splashed in the icy water, landing perfectly upon a single knee, his head downcast and hands pressed against the rocky base of the river. Ken turned his attention to his shaken counterpart.
“KEN!” came a sudden cry from afar, and he turned to see his Master standing tall besides the riverbed, a stony look of disappointment etched upon his aging features and a glimmer of anger in his experienced eyes. “The Sho-Ryu-Ken is powerful force but must be used only when necessary else it may call upon death!”
“Forgive me Sensei, I wouldn’t have harmed him.”
“You will begin your morning run now. Ryu will join you shortly. Go!”
“GO!” Ken was brash but he knew never to cross his Master. He sighed deeply, and turned to begin his run, hanging his head in shame. Ryu approached his Sensei slowly. He had never been able to perform the Sho-Ryu-Ken and Ken’s gloating bothered him more than he would ever admit. Without it, he would never achieve his goal but its execution eluded him and Ken’s ability to perform the assault at will hurt him deeply. He paused by his Master.
“You are troubled, Ryu.” Ryu said nothing. “That attack could have killed you, are you aware of that?”
“Ken would never allow that to happen, Sensei.” Master Gouken snorted in response. Ryu could have sworn that he heard him utter the word ‘ignorance’ under his breath but he wasn’t sure and so, said nothing.
“And how goes your progress? Have you achieved the Sho-Ryu-Ken yet?” Ryu’s head shook shamefully. “Do not be concerned. Ken’s ability to perform the attack interlocks with his aggressive style of fighting. The speed of which you perform the Ha-Do-Ken is greater than your friends because your command of your ‘Chi’ is stronger and more complete.”
“But Ken can use both attacks, Master. I can do but one.”
“The essence of the Sho-Ryu-Ken is to find the clarity that exists in rage. Once you locate that balance, you will perform the Sho-Ryu-Ken.” He placed a hand sympathetically on Ryu’s shoulder.
“I’m afraid I never will”
“Nonsense. You will, given enough time.” His Master turned and made his way back to the dojo. “Now go and join your friend. He is far ahead of you.”
Ryu promptly started into a brisk run after his sandy haired companion who was now far ahead of him. Barefooted was a difficulty when darting across the mountain plains. There were hazardous falls at almost every turn, not to mention the dangers of cutting oneself on the jagged stones that littered the hilltops. Nevertheless Ryu was unmoved. Ken and he performed this run every single day and it had become more of a competition than a chore. Some days Ken would win, and say days he would. Ryu didn’t particularly care if he lost to his friend, even though the severe gloating to follow was enough to bring any grown man to tears. He would only be displeased if he had not tried his best, and to Ryu, this was often his greatest foe. Afraid to unleash lest he destroy his opponent utterly, he faced this demon in every spar with Ken. If he would lose control for even an instant, what would be the outcome? He shook it from his thoughts. He raised his head slightly; there was a gorge approaching even though he couldn’t see it yet. He took the hill corner sharply. There it was, bigger than he anticipated yet he leapt without hesitation. He landed hard on the other side, his right foot instantly breaking off into a run as he touched the earth once again. How far ahead was Ken now? He still couldn’t see him. Ryu sighed as he dwelt on the thought that Ken had already finished. He could picture it now. Ken’s derisive stare and juvenile grin facing him as he finally approached the end of the run. He continued to sprint, his own chest pounding heavier with each and every step, the cornucopia of mountain air becoming thinner and thinner. Yet he ran.
The essence of the Sho-Ryu-Ken is to find the clarity that exists in rage. Once you locate that balance, you will perform the Sho-Ryu-Ken.
What was Master Gouken talking about? The clarity of rage? It didn’t make any sense. Anger was, as he was taught, the adversary. It must be controlled, suppressed and never used. It was as simple as that. The only clarity in rage is destruction, and surely the Sho-Ryu-Ken was not used to destroy? His heart pounded faster. Perhaps destruction is what his sensei meant? He held his fist forward, still running with all his might. He allowed his anger to flood him, his hatred for losing consuming him. He grit his teeth, his brow and face tightened and he screamed as he raised his hand into the air.
“SHO-RYU-KEN!” he cried as he leapt, his dark eyes widening as he soared into the sky. Nothing. He landed back on his feet, turning another corner as he emerged into a clearing. “Dammit.” Ryu cursed in a whisper. With that, he calmed himself. Obviously this was not the essence of the attack and all hope was lost. He continued, exhaling profoundly though he was calm, as he often was. He turned harshly at the next corner, skidding slightly on his left foot. Ryu focused his eyes forward. It was Ken. He pushed himself onwards, the speed of his run rising with each and ever step. He calmed his mind again until the pain in his chest almost seemed to vanish, and in next to no time at all he was behind him.
Ken was impressed. Ryu had caught up with him despite having had to talk with Master Gouken. It must have been the Sho-Ryu-Ken, Ken mused as he tried to increase his speed. Performing the attack must have slowed me down. Have to keep going. But Ken’s chest pounded even more ruthlessly in response, and he could only continue his current pace. Ryu passed him within moments, and Ken cursed himself mentally.
Ryu continued to press himself onwards. There was another jump coming; he remembered it well for it was wider than any of those before. He reached the chasm and with a grunt of effort he soared across it harmlessly and landed steadily on the other side. Ken was less than a few seconds behind him but he had slowed considerably from the pressure of the run and as he approached the murky abyss he lost his footing and tumbled down into the endless darkness.
End of Prologue