The Path (complete)


Chapter XIII: Peculiar Dance

The sun stood in the middle of the sky, it?s radiance too beautiful for human eyes to directly cast their gazes. The clouds were light and playful, dancing through a light blue sky like children in an open field. Below on Earth, another battle was set to take place.

Gouken cracked his knuckles as he let his lips curve into a smirk. Gen was powerful, and Gouken was anxious to begin.

?Alright, ready?? He asked. Gen nodded silently.

?Let?s go!? Gouken shouted as he rocketed forward and cocked his fist behind him.

?WAIT! You should not fight now!.? Master Fei shouted while gesturing in the air.

?What? Why not?? Gouken stared up at the master with a puzzled face, the lower half of his body frozen in mid gallop as his upper body relaxed.

?Gen?s last fight was draining, you?d have an unfair advantage.? Master Fei said matter of factly, with his index finger pointing at an imaginary chalkboard in front of him.

?And you do want to fight Gen at his best correct??

?Yes.? Nodded Gouken. He stood straight now. Gen grunted and kicked a loose pebble near him; sending it flying.

?Then it is settled, tomorrow at noon the fight will resume. Do you think that this is fair?? Master Fei looked over at Goutetsu who wasn?t paying attention, staring up at the clear blue sky. Fei coughed awkwardly in his direction.

?Oh?yeah sure.? Goutetsu nodded rapidly without looking.

Then Gouki stirred, he coughed up a bit of blood and sat up, clutching his side with an expressionless face and closed eyes.

?Gouki, come. Afaik will-? Goutetsu started.


Gouki?s voice was the most serious and stern his master had ever heard it at that moment. He stared at Goutetsu, his eyes burning into him with rage for even suggesting the idea. He slowly closed his eyes and began to return to his feet, stumbling. Gouken stared forward to help him. Gouki turned his back to him and slowly walked away from the battle, limping and not acknowledging anyone?s presence.

?Hmmm?he has a strong sense of personal honor and dignity.? Master Fei noted to his peer.

?You?re confusing it?he?s too headstrong. Dignity doesn?t exclude getting help when you need it. Gouki may not show it, but part of him is arrogant. And he will not look at us?because he is humiliated. Even his best isn?t good enough for him?.that could get him in trouble. Gouki, above all else wants to be strong?stronger than his brother?stronger than me?stronger than anyone. I?m beginning to realize that now?and I fear for him.?

?Hmmmm?maybe but I doubt it.? Replied Master Fei with a sharp smile. Goutetsu did not acknowledge the unnecessary remark, for he felt Fei was in no position to make judgements of his student?s character after only a few hours.

Gouken watched Gouki leave, staring at him as his wounded brother limped away. His black gi dark like a shadow spotted with drips of crimson blood and dust. The wind suddenly picked up slightly, playing with Gouki?s long hair and stirring the cloth on his uniform as Gouken silently watched. Gouki walked onward, and after a minute he was out of sight.

Gouken turned around to face Gen; only Gen wasn?t there. Gouken turned again to find Master Fei and Goutetsu gone also.

?Hmph.? Gouken shrugged as he walked away from the arena, wondering if Afaik had any extra rice cakes left.


The cry of a hungry wolf echoed in the distance, the moon full and the sky a sort of comforting deep violet. There were many fat clouds, great herds of shadows that blended with the night. As a group of clouds drifted in front of the moonlight another howl jolted up from the forest. It was comforting to Gouki at least, who sat on a large ancient boulder overlooking a great cliff that dropped off into a luscious green forest a hundred feet below.

Sleep did not come to Gouki this night, he tossed and turned with the pain from his injures flaring up in pulsing throbs. He found out his body hurt the least if he was on his stomach with his arms at his sides but his neck and shoulders were umcomfortable. After several hours he gave up and walked outside. Gouki?s right arm was in a sling and his entire left forearm bandaged. A wrapping also streaked across his chest. A bandage was over his left cheek. The shirt of his gi flopped unto the rock; he had discarded it to feel the mountain air on his skin.


A flashback of his fight with Gen shot forward in Gouki?s mind, a crane peck that connected in the center of Gouki?s chest. Gouki felt the spot on his flesh where the attack connected; a bruise had been left there.

Gouki grimaced as he thought more about the fight.

?I thought he could keep up, but Gen just proved to be better. I have lost again.? Gouki said aloud to no one in monotone.

What sickened Gouki the most would be the future coming in the daylight. Tomorrow, Gouken would step and fight Gen and beat him effortlessly. It felt like a weight slung around his shoulders, his own inadequacy. Gouki stared at his fist, bandaged and half responsive.

?Gouken will not beat him effortlessly. He will have to fight with all of his strength to win. I must be realistic.? As Gouki looked at the moon again he felt better.

As he inhaled as much as he could he felt two sharp pains in his side and chest but knew eventually he would totally recover. As he held in lungfulls of air he thought of his own mortality, imagining himself old, sick and bedridden. As he exhaled he reconciled with himself, holding on to the idea that he was still very strong. As Gouki hopped off the rock and walked away from the cliff he told himself that he must be diligent. Once Gouki was 20 feet away from the drop into green treetops he stopped and mechanically took stance. His had stopped staring at the moon. He clenched his fists and began to raise his ki.

?HAH!!? Gouki shouted as he shot forward his free arm and fired a watermelon sized ki blast into the midnight wilderness. But the blast only moved a couple of feet before it shattered into white shiny confetti. Gouki?s concentration was broken once he fell to his knees clutching his side in terrible pain.

Blood began to seep through Gouki?s clenched teeth, and fall to the ground in little crimson drops, sweat beaded all over Gouki?s body as he lay doubled over. His injuries would not allow him to train tonight. He refused Afaik?s healing to feel the fire of failure from his injuries. He wanted the reminder to stay there until his body overcame it naturally.

The throbbing pain that racked Gouki?s entire body had returned as an owl sailed high in the sky under the moonglow; it?s piercing eyes locked on a companion in the night.

?Damn them both?? Was the only thought that came to his mind. His fists were clenched and quivering as he noticed he was grinding his teeth. Perhaps he would ask Afaik to heal him. Perhaps he should be more realistic.


  • The next day, noon

Gouken bounced in place, excited about his next fight. The battle was set to begin in a little under 20 minutes, and Gouken had been ready since he first jumped out of bed. Gouken tore through breakfast like a wild man and then ran off to go meditate. Once he was resting under a tall tree it took longer than usual for him to clear his mind.

The sky was quiet and calm, the clouds thin and the sun lazy. There was a light breeze that felt refreshing rather than uncomfortable. Gouken was dressed in a tan gi, the sleeves torn off the shirt, and a black thick wool shirt underneath with no sleeves also. His hair was cut no more than 2 inches off his head and it was actually straight for once. A thin goatee lined his handsome face, with eyes that gleamed confidence and a child-like giddiness.

?Man?I?m ready to begin! Where is everyone!?? Gouken exclaimed.

?Right here.? A flat voice uttered from behind. Gouken whirled around to find Gen staring at him, his pit viper eyes locked on a new target.

?Ah there you are. So are you ready to begin? No matter if the masters aren?t here, they?ll catch up.?

?Fine.? Gen said, with a cunningly smirk.

The two fighters stood 40 feet apart from each other. Slowly sliding into stance. Both had confident smiles, and their stances tight and mechanical.

?Ready??? Gouken started, his muscles tense.


They both rocketed forward running at top speed, adrenaline pumping through their bodies like normal blood. They crossed the distance to each other in 2 seconds, and just before they were to collide both fighters sprang 15 feet into the air.

?HAH!? Gouken attempted a couple of jabs that Gen swatted away and he retaliated with a front kick that Gouken muffled with his knee. They exchanged punches and kicks at a lightning fast rate as both of them hung in mid-air beginning to fall back to Earth.

Gen lashed out with a right hook. Gouken caught his fist and kicked him away, knocking him out of the sky. Gen sailed to the ground with a dead thud, kicking up dust but quickly returning to his feet undeterred.

Gouken still was in the air, falling as Gen rushed forward at the place where he would land planning to meet him on the way down. Gouken?s mind jumbled a plot together quickly.

Gouken performed two quick backflips to propel himself a little backward away from Gen?s clutches. Gen shot forward anyhow, right into Gouken?s plan.

As soon as Gouken hit the ground he unleashed a gou hadoken so quickly Gen ran into it more than the ki ball ran into him. Gen was abruptly blown back 10 feet; crashing to the ground and remaining still for half a minute.

Gouken stood, a clever smile on his face as he folded his arms in an almost pout.

?C?mon Gen?that didn?t hurt. Quit playing possum.? He scolded, laughing. Gen quickly sprang to his feet, calmly wiping dust and dirt off of his clothes, his confident smirk still present.

?You are?.stronger than your brother.? Gen spoke slowly while walking with his arms slack at his sides.

?A lot of people say that.?

Gouken and Gen once again snapped back into fighting mode. Their bodies were slowly relaxing and with no traces of exertion in their forms as they stood 5 feet apart from each other. Suddenly, a voice rang out:

?Why you overzealous punks!!? Master Fei shouted indignantly as he half ran, half walked up the fighting grounds showing his small pot belly underneath his robe. He looked flustered. Goutetsu calmly walked to the arena beside Fei in a time-worn gray Chinese uniform. His long thick braid dangling behind him and a slightly annoyed expression was on his face. He was annoyed with Fei.

?How dare you two start before we arrive! Do you not have respect for your superiors!?? Master Fei roared.

?Um?sorry Master Fei. We were just anxious to begin?.? Gouken muttered.

?HUFF Well you could have told someone! I wanted to see this! Now I?ve missed the beginning!? Goutetsu couldn?t help but laugh as Master Fei?s face became a beet red over something so trivial.

?It?s alright Fei, the fight barely began?you didn?t miss much.?

?A thousand apologies masters.? Said Gen, his voice almost sincere.

?Yes well you both should be sorry.? Said Fei with finality.

Gouken suddenly noticed his brother standing away from everyone halfway concealed by bushes watching the match with an unreadable face.

?Feel free to continue at any moment.? Muttered Goutetsu cheerfully.

?Alright!!? Gouken roared with enthusiasm as he suddenly hoped back into stance. Gen snapped back into combat mode himself.

Gen wordlessly blasted into the air with a flying kick which Gouken swatted away with ease. Gen then struck out with 5 jabs from the left hand, a right hook followed by a front kick?all in the space of 2 seconds. Gouken deflected and guarded against all of these attacks, his confidence never waning. The final palm strike to the center of Gouken?s chest did connect.

Gouken then struck back, uppercutting Gen in the chin then punching him on the stomach twice. Gouken finished with a sharp side kick; only Gen recovered too soon and caught his leg with one hand.


Gouken said, with a lighthearted tone and his trademark smile. Gen stared at his opponent with his pit viper eyes. They both knew what was coming next.


The following attack made Gouken fly 8 feet into the air and rotate a full 720o before he smacked the hard tile 12 feet away from Gen.

Gouken rose quickly again without a stumble or a blink, not caring to brush any debris from his garment.

The second Gouken took stance Gen pounced again; with a swift crane peck that Gouken narrowly avoided by taking a step back. Gen countered with a quick palm strike to Gouken?s chest with his other hand, knocking Goutetsu?s student off balance. Gouken recovered in time to swat away another crane peck and attack with a overhead right which Gen blocked with his forearm and he used the same arm to backfist Gouken across the cheek. Gouken then faked a right hook, only to knee Gen in the stomach and perform a hammerfist to the back of his exposed head. They continued to fight like this; countering each other?s moves in a crisp sharp dance. Fighting fast enough to not get bored but slow enough so their audience would be pleased with their usage of learned techniques. This continued for another 5 minutes until Goutetsu interrupted them.

?Haha! What do you take us for?! A bunch of old men with failing eyesight! You know you can fight faster than that Gouken and Gen, stop fooling around and get to the point. You show-offs.? Goutetsu added the last point with a chuckle.

?You hear that pal? They want us to cut to the chase. What do you say Gen? Shall we skip the pleasantries?? Gouken questioned, that fire of competition burning in his eyes. Gen nodded in response.

?Alright. Glad to see that we?re in agreement here.? Gouken said lightly as he tossed off his shirts, exposing his lean and strong chest. Gen tossed aside his white shirt also, the sweat on his skin glistening in the sun.

Gen hoped into stance, only this time it was different. One arm, the arm in front was that of crane while the arm in back was of tiger. Gen?s smirk remained.

?Ah?combined styles eh? I?ve seen this before. Let?s go.? Gouken took stance only he tossed aside the traditional form of his style; bouncing in place with both fists in front and clenched.

?HAH!? Gouken shouted as he rocketed towards his opponent. Kicking up a trail of dust as he ran at top speed, his arms pumping in the air.

Seconds before contact Gouken hopped in the air and performed a dropkick on the surprised Gen. Gen flew back 10 and skidded across the ground another 5. As soon as he returned to his feet Gouken was upon him again, a swift horizontal chop to Gen?s ribs that knocked the Chinese fighter to the ground once again. On the ground Gen fought, deflecting Gouken?s relentless attacks while trying to stand up. He scooted across the ground swatting away punches, chops, and kicks with blazing speed. Finally Gen hoped up and performed a spinning aerial roundhouse kick that floored Gouken in a split second.

Gouken quickly flipped to his feet with a straight back and a body pumping with energy. He took a couple steps back and returned to stance.

?Hmm?.they both love this. I can see it in their eyes?? Said Goutetsu to himself, stroking his beard as the sun stared in awe.


Chapter XIV: Fork In The Road

Gouken and Gen rushed into each other locking hands; trying to force the other to the ground. They strained against the strength of one another like enraged rams in combat over a willing female. The strain was evident in their exposed bodies; veins boldly showing through sweat covered skin pumping blood and adrenaline to where it was needed.

This deadlock continued for another minute, until Gen smiled through clenched teeth.


Gen viciously kneed Gouken in his unguarded abdomen. Gouken stumbled but refused to break the lock, holding firm after a couple steps back. Gen then struck again with another knee, Gouken did not move this time he only winced.

Another knee to the stomach. And another. And with the final knee Gen forced his knee deeper into Gouken?s abdomen. Gouken still held on.

Gen slowly gained the advantage, pushing the coughing Gouken steadily downwards. Gouken suddenly stiffened.

?My turn.?

With that Gouken stood up. He reared his head back and rammed it into Gen?s surprised visage with blinding speed and force. Gen stumbled a couple steps and limply fell backwards holding his head with both hands and barely coherent.

?That?s using your head.? Goutetsu muttered with a chuckle. Fei grunted. Neither teacher knew Gouki was there.

Gouken waited for Gen to return to his feet; he had tried once but fell again. After 10 seconds Gen was up with wobblying legs but he was recovering quickly. His nose was bleeding and Gen let it. Gen wasted no time, suddenly shooting forward to kick the surprised Gouken in the stomach. Gouken threw a lazy punch while stumbling backward that Gen easily dodged. Gen then grabbed Gouken?s head and drove his knee into it. Gouken?s head rocked back and Gen delivered 5 crane pecks to Gouken?s chest in a second then hopped backwards and exploded with a powerful side kick; knocking Gouken 20 feet away into a stone wall. Gouken?s body slapped the hard stone and bounced off; smacking the ground with a thick thwack and a cloud of dust.

Gouken quickly sprang to his feet; wiping blood out of the corner of his mouth with a subdued smile. His eyes were on the ground.

?That hurt.? He quipped.

Gen ignored him, pushing forward intent on destroying his foe. Gen tried a front kick but Gouken slapped it away; countering with a right hook that Gen dodged. Gen tried a knee to Gouken?s stomach but Gouken kneed Gen?s knee; pushing it away and then attempted a reverse spinning elbow. Gen caught the elbow and kicked Gouken in the back knocking him away. Both suddenly paused and returned to stance, their eyes locked onto each other.

Gouken then attacked with a low sweep. Gen jumped clearly above and landing behind Gouken, putting him in a headlock. Gouken thrashed, but Gen held him firm. Gouken then reached behind him and grabbed Gen?s throat with both hands, not letting go.

Suddenly, they both began to move forward?their steps together yet opposing each other. Then the stride picked up, to a hurried shuffle. Seconds later it became a full fledged gallop.

Both Gen and Gouken were trapped each other in holds, yet they both were running at top speed through the arena.

?What the hell are they doing?! This is no time for games!? Master Fei exclaimed with crossed arms.

?You see that far wall?? Goutetsu said calmly. Fei nodded.

?They?re running towards it. They know one of them is going to have to let go in order to not be thrown into a wall of stone going as fast as they are. It is a contest.? Goutetsu said, his eyes glued to the match.

?Well that is stupid. This whole fight is a contest. Kids these days?running into walls. We didn?t pull stupid stunts like that. In our day we just fought, no stupid games involved.? Master Fei pouted.

?This is hardly a game Fei. They are testing each other, what each is made of. How can you not understand? Didn?t you experience that when Master made us fight Long and Chang??

?No. They were weak, I disposed of them quickly.?

?I?m afraid your memory is fading Fei. They beat you, both of them.?

Fei grunted and said no more for a few minutes.

The wall was now no more than 10 feet away. They would cross the distance in less than a second. Neither slowed down, only stared at each other in fierce concentration.

A sick thud resulted as both fighters smacked the stone wall; knocking a few of the ancient bricks loose and shattering the rest that took the impact directly. Both fighters bounced away from each other and crashed to the ground; a trail of blood flowing from each 10 feet away from each other. Neither moved.

Gouki?s eyes widened as he watched from the outskirts of the arena, his brother and Gen lay on the ground like fresh corpses. He could not even see their chests rise with breath; they were completely motionless.

?Hmmmm?? Goutetsu wondered as he stroked his beard, Master Fei stood in shock with wide eyes.

In a few minutes both fighters began to stir. Gouken groaned as he slowly turned over, his stomach now towards the ground. He tried to slide to his knees, but it was a futile effort and he collapsed again seconds later. Gen tried to stand and managed to get up with knees bent and quivering. Then he leaned too far backward and crashed to the ground again with rolling eyes. Too dazed to stand they both were.

?At least they?re both breathing.? Goutetsu muttered.

Gouken slowly opened his eyes to the world spinning around him. He attempted to get up; this time slower and successfully. He stumbled to a halt and rubbed his side. Gen slowly picked himself off the ground also, falling into the crumbling wall and using it for his only support. Blood was oozing from a gash in the middle of his forehead, running down his face in little rivers but he did not care enough to tend to it. He wanted to stand first.

Gen and Gouken?s eyes slowly drifted into each other?s gazes and froze once they landed. Their faces suddenly tightened and a jerk rippled through Gouken?s leg. Both had endured the wall, and both were standing afterward. Quickly yet patiently it dawned on them the only thing they had to do.

Gouken and Gen suddenly shot towards the center of the arena. Once there they bounded backwards and rocketed forward into each other. Fighting furiously; their fists and feet blurs, their teeth clenched as sounds of battle echoed throughout the training grounds; rattling the dislodged pebbles from ancient stone. Neither grunted or hollered. The only sounds were the rapid smacking of flesh and and the sharp ?woosh? of limbs cutting through air.

?WHAM!? Gouken incorrectly predicted Gen?s next move and was met with a fist buried into his abdomen. He quickly recovered and extended his forearm to absorb a kick and countered by tossing the leg he captured away. Gen did not stay down, bouncing off the pavement into a spinning roundhouse kick which startled Gouken.

Gouken was knocked 10 feet away but he never was off his feet. He rushed into Gen and the fighting continued. Suddenly Gouken stopped and shot out an open palm signaling to stop. Gouken straightened his posture and folded his arms, now unguarded and out of stance.

?Gen. This fight is over with.?

Gen?s eyes widened as he stood silently astonished.

?Gen, I?ve figured you out. I know your strategies and attacks. We don?t have to continue. Whaddya say??

Gen spat blood from his mouth harshly on the ground as a response. Gouken shrugged.

?Now what?s going on?? Master Fei muttered.

?Gouken is asking Gen to stop.? Goutetsu stated flatly.

?What?! If anything he should be giving up! GEN! CRUSH HIM NOW! He is too arrogant!!?

?Fei, Gouken is not being arrogant?.? Goutetsu gave up mid-sentence for he saw no use for it.

Gen suddenly shot high 20 feet into the air, coming downward with his foot gunning for Gouken. Gouken easily sidestepped the attack and shot his forearm out to swat away Gen?s follow up punches. Gouken then quickly ducked under Gen?s jumping front kick and kicked him out of the air violently with the ?tatsumaki senpukyaku? or hurricane kick. Gen crashed to the ground but lashed out with a trip of his own but Gouken lifted a single foot 6 inches off the ground causing the attack to miss. Gen sprang forward with an overhead right; Gouken caught his fist and threw him into a nearby wall.

Gen slowly recovered with eyes shocked wide. Just 5 minutes ago Gouken and Gen were apparently on an even level. Gen?s fists clenched as he quickly took to crane stance. Gouken shrugged.

?Ah yes?Crane. Gen will surely beat him now.? Master Fei muttered.

Gen sprang into the air again, his arms spread out like crane wings while the sun burned bright behind him. Gouken dodged Gen?s strikes and ran behind him, kicking him with a vicious roundhouse to the back of the head. Gen was unfazed, taking no time to recover as he lunged forward again with a flurry of punches. Gouken swatted each away; 15 in 5 seconds and finally catching the last one.

Gen?s outstretched arm was stiff, trying to break free of Gouken?s hold. Veins showed themselves in his well-trained limb as he grunted in strain. Gouken was relaxed with Gen?s knuckles in his palm and his fingers curled around Gen?s tight fist.

?You can end it now Gen, we don?t have to continue. I have a lot of respect for you. This fight taught me a lot. We don?t have to beat each other into the ground?.you and I both know who will win now.? Gouken said, his voice calm and stern. Gen pushed his fist into Gouken but his arm would not budge. He grunted as he leaned into the frozen punch. Seconds drifted into a minute with both fighters standing almost like statues.

Gouki watched from the sidelines, his veiled eyes focused on the match with an even steady heartbeat. He was standing with slightly spread legs and folded arms. He sensed Gen was about to forfeit the fight.

?Gen can still win, if only he holds out. He could wear Gouken down, and in his weariness Gouken would make mistakes??

Gouki stopped mid-thought; he knew the scenario would not play out as he was imagining. Gen would tire before Gouken. Gen is pushing and straining. Gouken is using no more than he must now. A saying told to them by Goutetsu suddenly echoed in Gouki?s mind:

?Minimum effort, maximum efficiency.?

He would watch no more; the outcome had been decided. Gouki turned and slowly walked away, cursing to himself.

Gen suddenly shot forward with front kick, Gouken caught his leg and held it. Gen hopped off his other foot, with a jumping reverse roundhouse. Gouken released his hold on Gen?s two limbs and ducked under the kick. Gen?s kick sliced through the air just above Gouken?s head and Gen tried again with a downward axe kick. Gouken sprang backward 10 feet and fired a white gou hadoken that Gen kicked away once he had landed on the ground. Gen rockted towards the still Gouken. Gen?s horizontal chop was blocked and Gen was punched 10 feet away.

Gen was slow to return to his feet, slower than usual. His movements carried a kind of patience for the inevitable. Gouken stood waiting, then he noticed something:
Gen?s hand was shaking.

Once Gen had returned to his feet he only stared at Gouken, his eyes no longer piercing but rather searching within Gouken?s face for something. The late afternoon sun cast an eerie glow on both fighters. The crimson of their spilled glimmered a bit in the golden light.

Gen quickly bowed to Gouken and turned, walking away with relaxed stride and swaying arms. Gouken smiled and soon followed.


?You both did very well, and I am proud of your performances.? Goutetsu started, his voice carrying over the sounds of the night. Gouken and Gouki sat kneeling before him, with Gen and Fei leaning against a tree in the background watching.

?Now, this is an ancient tradition of our art. An award is always given to the strongest and most balanced pupil of the two a master takes on.? Goutetsu turned behind him and emerged with a necklace of brown beads similar to the accessory of a Shaolin monk, only each bead was larger and there were fewer of them due to size. Goutetsu held the necklace in front of him with both hands, dangling it in front of his two students.

?As you can see, my master gave me one?? Goutetsu had re-donned his white uniform, his own bead necklace around his neck. ?..and now Gouken I am giving one to you.? Gouken promptly stood and Goutetsu slid the necklace around his neck. Gouken solemnly bowed and sat.

?Gouki, this is not meant to diminish your achievements. Your path was more difficult than Gouken?s. Even if you achieved less than your brother it does not mean you are any less a martial artist.? Gouki nodded, his face unreadable. He focused on the owl sailing through the night air instead.

?Would anyone like to say anything else?? Master Fei walked to the front with Gen trailing behind. Gouken turned to look into his brother?s face but found no information. Gouki?s true feelings were hidden behind a stone expression. Moths orbited around the laterns as Fei cleared his throat.

?You two boys did well. Goutetsu trained you well. I cannot wait to see the impact you two make on the world. And do not be a stranger to visit me in China, my students need new punching bags.? Fei chuckled as Gen opened his mouth to speak, something he usually did not do.

?Gouken and Gouki; I was honored to fight you both and have learned much. I hope to meet you both again in the near future?and this time Gouken?.I won?t bow out.? Gen?s signature smirk returned for a split second as he and Fei turned to leave. Gouken smiled and nodded.

?Well I guess that?s it?..? There was an odd weariness in Goutetsu?s sentence; as if he wanted to say more or felt something else must be done. Goutetsu looked out at the stars and ran his hand over the top of his head.

?You two know I don?t drink but this is a special occasion. There?s sake back at the house we are all welcome to.? Goutetsu was smiling big now and he turned toward the dark forest to yell.

?Fei! At least stay the night! There?s sake!! A lot of it!?

?Sake you say?!? Goutetsu and the two brothers could hear Fei running back; his heavy breathing seemed to echo.


Chapter XV: El Hroe del da

Gouki gingerly packed several rolled up scrolls into his bag, laying them one on top of another. He had decided after all to only copy the ones he wanted and take those, leaving the precious originals behind as a measure of precaution and out of respect for their authors.

Three days had passed since Gen and Master Fei departed for China. Gouken left the morning after his fight, the morning after his graduation and the morning after his marathon of drunkeness. Goutetsu left for the mountains to further train himself; now that he no longer had students to look after he resumed his wandering ways. This only left Gouki and Afaik; but Afaik herself spent most of her days in town playing mah jong and chess with her housewife friends.

The shadow of candlelight danced on the walls of the old study as Gouki carefully stuffed what he needed into his worn bag. The dusty floor hadn?t been swept in weeks and the cobwebs hung like curtains and drapes?.yet the room gave Gouki a sense of familiarity. Now he was leaving this place unsure if he would ever return. Gouki sighed as he reached over and extinguished a candle in between his thumb and index finger. The ghostly trail of smoke silently dispersed into the stately air with a soft ?hiss?. He picked up his bag and slung it over his shoulder lazily, quietly finishing off the rest of the candles. Once the last flame flickered and died Gouki ambled out of the room. With his hands shoved in his pockets and his face somber he thought of where he would train next. He thought of where he would be meditating next and who he would be fighting next. He felt a splash of excitement because he didn?t know where or who was next.



A loud shriek echoed through the country marketplace as Gouken?s ears perked. His mouth was stuffed with food as he sat at a local outdoor diner. It was a busy afternoon with the sun shining and many people yelling and children running around playing. There was no wind and there was no hint of a future rain. Gouken paused to listen closer but heard no more. After a minute he went back to his noodles.


The voice tore through the ruckus of the marketplace again. Gouken immediately dropped his dish and sped off in the direction; not missing a beat as he tossed the proper amount towards the waitress and winked at her smiling face. He had tipped generously but still within reason.

Gouken had walked all night at a brisk pace. He left Goutetsu?s grounds two weeks ago. Gouken knew he had traveled far when no one around him recongnized the name of the town he stayed in for a decade. Gouken?s main concern was just going somewhere, anywhere. As he ran his loose tan gi flapped in the brisk breeze. His sprinting kicked up a cloud of thin dust that made his bare feet even dirtier. The calls grew closer and before he knew it he was standing in front of the woman making them.

?M?am?? Is something the matter??? Gouken meekly inquired.

The woman in front of him was young and beautiful, but her drab kimono and haggard hair suggested a humble lifestyle. She stood in front of Gouken slightly annoyed that he would ask such a question; as she had been screaming for help at the top of her lungs for the past 10 minutes.

?I?ve been robbed! That?s what I was hollering about!? She searched Gouken?s blank face for something but gave up a moment after.

?Some common thug has just stolen all of my money.? She stated flatly, staring in Gouken?s direction but not at Gouken.

??how can I help?? Gouken sensed he?d be dealing with this woman for the rest of the day. They both stood still while people shuffled about around them, the din of all the conversations combined made picking out single threads of discourse difficult. It was easy to treat all the chatter as one singular object of background noise. It was easy to ignore all the chatter just as one did not pay much attention to the sounds of freeway traffic on a downtown street. Gouken studied the woman?s face as a man carrying stacked boxes shoved him out of the way without a word. The smell of garlic teased his nostrils as a woman gracefully sidestepped around him while talking to her friend about a recent Toshiro Mifune movie. The strange woman that had approached him grabbed Gouken on the shoulder and pulled his ear close to her lipsticked mouth.

?I want you to get my money back. Follow me around, when I see him I?ll point him out to you. Please?.I needed that money??

Gouken shrugged and followed her.


The orange afternoon sky was at the last stand, holding on just a little longer before night would overthrow it. Gouken and the woman had walked along for hours now with no sign of the thief. They had been all over town, walking and turning their heads like lost strangers. They had sat at good lookout points and scoped the crowds. They made polite conversation as the hours passed and details were not elaborated on. As they walked the edges of town Gouken couldn?t decide if he would rather be back at home with Goutetsu and Afaik or out wandering alone. As they strolled dirt roads Gouken wondered if the woman was grief stricken or confused. As they approached a lonely modest tavern the woman grabbed Gouken (this time by his arm) and pulled him close again.

?There he is.? She hissed.

Directly in front and to the side of the bar were tables for outside enjoyment. Several patrons sat sullenly with their drinks; flat expressions spoke loudly that they were not in the mood for merriment. Each patron sat alone. Even the one the woman pointed at who had a large beer mug in his hand; the frothy tonic flowing into his backward leaning mouth.

?Him?? Gouken pointed out in the distance. ?He looks like a monk?are you sure he?s the one??

?He?s the one! You know how corrupt monks are these days?.you?d better watch out.?

?He should not be a problem. Stay here, I?ll be back.? Gouken?s eyes suddenly turned surprisingly serious as he began to briskly walk forward.

?Hey you!!? Gouken shouted.

?Hrm?? The figure turned around slowly, a lazy daze in his eyes. Yes he was a monk. With baldness shining from sweat, bushy eyebrows, a beak nose and a slender face. He didn?t look a day over 19, his garment loose robes with pants that stopped at his upper ankle and a shirt that stopped at his elbow. He got a quick glance at Gouken and his face slipped into a look of slight confusion but mostly indifference. A bag sat on the tan ground next to him. Out of the corner of his eye he saw the woman, pointing at Gouken while his back was turned.

?You!? The stranger shouted as he slowly rose.

?Me what?! Give this kind woman back her money!? Gouken scowled as he walked to meet the monk.

?ME?! You?re the thief!!?

?WHAT?! How dare you! You lying thug! Don?t make me have to use force!? Gouken rolled up his sleeves.

?Force! You couldn?t do anything with those skinny arms! Now listen, you give this woman back her money and I won?t pound you into the ground.? The monk took one last long swallow of beer before setting it down and walking toward Gouken with the brisk gait of someone annoyed.

?So that?s how you want it huh?!?

?That?s the way its gonna be and I don?t mind it!!?

?THAT?S IT!!!? Both shouted simultaneously as they sprang into fighting stances. The bar patrons were silently watching with no hint of enjoyment. The woman who started the trouble was trying to hide her smile.

?HAH!? The stranger bolted forward with a palm strike, Gouken easily dodged the attack and attempted to land a right hook. The stranger caught Gouken?s arm and threw him over-the-shoulder to the dusty ground.

?Rookie. You overextended yourself. Your own momentum has just been used against you.? Gouken shot back up into a jumping roundhouse kick. The attack was blocked and countered with a hammerfist to the side of Gouken?s head. Gouken ducked under the attack and elbowed his opponent in the ribs. Then he briskly smacked him across the face, making his eyes widen.

?Why you little-!?

Both continued fighting ignoring the woman who crept up behind them, eyeing their bags cast aside before the impromptu battle. She slipped next to the discarded articles and silently searched them for a particular item?.

?HAHAHA!? She cackled as she stood up with both of the fighters? wallets in each hand. Suddenly she put her fingers to her mouth and gave a shrill whistle. In the distance a car roared to life and shot forward toward her.

?SUCKERS!!? She laughed as a dirty black sedan pulled up beside her. She quickly hoped in the passenger side and the vehicle sped off leaving the perplexed young men in the dust.

?SHE JUST-!!!? The two shouted as they looked at each other and then to the fleeing car with eyes wide and mouths hung open. Without thinking Gouken jumped back and cupped his hands, gathering his ki into a small white ball?.

The stranger took off running towards the car, his eyes focused and his fists pumping through the air.

?HAHH!!? Gouken roared as he shot forward his hands, a white baseballl-sized ki springing forward, flying towards the car at lightning speed.

With a loud crash the blast connected with the back right side of the getaway car, destroying the tire and some of the fender. The car quickly began to slow, kicking up dust as it swerved around the road. The stranger quickly caught up, springing high into the air, his tightly clenched fist high above his head.

?Iron fist of truth!!? He yelled in Mandarin as he punched through the front windshield, shattering the galss completely. The shocked thieves could only hold their hands in front of their faces as glass rained down on them, the driver pushing his foot on the gas in surprise. The stranger then grabbed both criminals by their throats and jerked them from the car, tossing them to the side of the road and jumping away himself as the black car ran off the road and into a tree.

Gouken and the stranger stared at the two thieves on the ground, both of them shocked and afraid.

?Give us our money.? Gouken commanded, his stern eyes locked on the crooks.

Wordlessly they handed their wallets over.

?Now, go.? Gouken ordered. They took off running with a noticeable carelessness in their hurry.

?That?s it?! They robbed us!! Shouldn?t we punish them some more??? The stranger protested.

?Look at their car. It?s useless now. They?ve learned their lesson I bet.? Gouken nodded, his voice had returned to its natural kind tone.

?I seriously doubt it. Eitherway, those were some nice moves back there. That ki control was excellent. Tell me, did you aim for the car or just miss and hit the tire??

?It didn?t want to hurt them. Only stop them from getting away. The tire was enough.?

?Nice. I never caught your name.?

?My name?s Gouken. And I didn?t catch your name either.?

?I did not throw it. It is Retsu.?

?Well Retsu, you did well yourself. Destroying all that glass with one punch? Can I see your hand?? Retsu showed him the fist free of any cuts or bruises.


?I studied Shorinji Kempo. Come on Gouken. Like you couldn?t do that. By your blast I can tell you are pretty well trained. Unless you?re a pansy boy that worked on ?focusing their ki? all the time and not fighting.?

Gouken laughed, and Retsu chuckled at his comment.

?Where are you heading now friend??

Retsu shrugged. ?Nowhere in particular, just kinda blowing with the wind?.? Retsu pantomimed the wind with his hands. Gouken heard a loud pop from the wrecked car in the distance.

?Hmm?well that?s where I?m going also.? Gouken did not look at Retsu as his head titled upward at the orange sky with clouds thinner than he had ever seen.

?Yes I?d like to come along with you.? Retsu said with closed eyes and a slight nod.

?What? I didn?t ask you.?

?You didn?t need to.?


Chapter XVI: Kings

His arm floated through the air as if it had a mind and purpose of its own. Gently arcing and waving like a nonchalant feather in the gentle breeze. This wafting limb moved in startling contrast to the fists and feet that clashed against it, unable to penetrate this quiet yet solid defense.

Gouki was only moving his left arm. His right was tucked behind him and he had long broken stance. He stood perfectly upright, his breathing even and slow, his uniform pressed and clean. His brow had not known sweat today. Yet he had spent the entire day fighting opponent after opponent with little breaks. The action paused; a man standing opposite from Gouki had ceased attacking and paused to stare in confusion, anger and jealously with a bit of wonder. Gouki?s left arm now lay slack and still. Neither said anything.

Gouki?s opponent quietly took in deep breaths, so deep his upper body swelled. Sweat rolled from his nose, chin and fingertips. He wanted to say something; perhaps question Gouki about his strength or make up an excuse to why after all his efforts he could not land a blow. He wanted to say something but he found that even his voice was tired from hollering and grunting. He only remained silent under Gouki?s imposing gaze.

Dawn was moments away; the air was heavy with moisture and the birds singing was a welcome sound compared to the hissing of the insects. These men had been fighting since the middle of the night, after even the thieves had gone to sleep and before the first person rose to face the day. And one of these fighting men was very tired. Gouki stared at this person before him, fighting with everything he had and yet Gouki was only using a fraction of a fraction of his own power to stop him. Gouki felt sorry for his opponent because in the back of his mind he believed that he was once in the same position. Yet he knows he was never that weak.
Without a word Gouki turned and walked away, not caring to look behind him for he knew he would not be followed by anything greater than eyes. He is a one eyed man in the land of the blind; here he is king?

The notion disgusted him.


?Yes! We?re almost at the top!!?

Gouken shouted more to himself than his companion Retsu. He was beginning to wonder why he listened to that village elder when he was told that a ?dragon of a man? lived and trained at the summit of the tallest mountain in sight. He didn?t think twice and started climbing, just like any challenge presented to him-but something felt different now. And of course he couldn?t define what it was.

?This better not be a wild goose chase, or that old man is gonna need a new hip!? Retsu chuckled as he reached for something to grab unto to continue climbing.

?There?s only one way to find out.? Said Gouken as he placed his foot a little higher, the top slowly becoming more within reach. Suddenly Gouken?s thoughts shifted to Goutetsu. He hadn?t seen his former master for at least 6 months now; he wondered how his teacher was doing. Gouken chuckled to himself as he thought: ?I bet he?s happily drinking tea or something.?


Gouki wandered the backs roads on the outside of a new town perplexed with his situation. His power had hit a wall. While training he rarely felt challenged. He overwhelmed his challengers now; to a point where it was routine and nothing was learned. These ?challengers? simply were not anything resembling a challenge anymore. But on the other hand, fights against Goutetsu, Gouki, Gen, perhaps even Master Fei were inversely pointless. He was thrashed so efficiently he learned nothing. They were so much stronger than him he couldn?t begin to analyze and compare. He felt as if he were drowning?either in their collective strength or his total weakness he couldn?t tell but he knew something had to be done.

But for the moment Gouki could only wander the path before him, and wonder.


?Um?hello?? Gouken shouted out into the air, hearing his echo bounce around the surroundings. His call was not returned.

?We have come looking for Kuwabatake-sama, the ?king of the mountain??We wish to be instructed by him!? Retsu shouted, noting that from the echo he sounded nervous and frightened. There was still no answer.

?We?ve been tricked Gouken. We climbed this mountain for nothing. Silly old man, I bet fooling travelers is his only source of amusement-?

?No we didn?t! Retsu look! Someone lives here.? Gouken pointed to a modest log cabin about 200 feet away from them.

?And look, this is awfully flat for the top of a mountain?? Again Gouken was right, the summit was a 400-foot wide circle. Also the ground was completely even and flat.

?Oh?? Retsu stammered.

?Whoever did this, did it on purpose.?

?That is correct intruders!!?

A deep, authoritative voice resonated throughout the entire area. Gouken and Retsu were frozen in anticipation. They looked at each other, mostly because there was nothing else to look at.

?I am Kuwabatake-sama and I am willing to fight with you two! However, I will only duel under one condition!?The voice boomed from nowhere and yet everywhere.

?Name it Kuwabatake-sama, and we will do our best to follow it.? Retsu said while bowing.

?Haha good! My condition is that once you fight me, you will fight me without restraint! You will fight me with your absolute best! You will fight?as if your very lives depend on it. And they will for I will be doing the same.? The voice then faded into the mists of the surrounding mountains.

?I don?t understand??fight without restraint?? Does he know how strong we are?? Gouken?s question was oddly without the slightest undertone of arrogance, it was almost childlike in its simplicity.

?I don?t know Gouken?but I?m sure it?s the other way around for some reason. Regardless, we will find out in a moment.?

From the mists emerged a figure, slowly walking towards the two young travelers. The stranger?s gait was slow and steady, his feet flat. Gouken could hear the sound of the man breathing. The figure stopped, and there stood Kuwabatake. His form was draped in a long bearskin cloak that stopped at his bare ankles. His face was partly concealed by the bear?s face, the eyes still frozen in the final moment of aggressive desperation.

?So?you both have climbed this mountain to fight with me?? The voice was deep, dignified and secure.

?Yes, we will be honored to spar with you Kuwabatake-sama.? Retsu said with a bow.

?Enough with the bowing. I?m not some tired old dignitary that needs to be reminded of and worshipped for how strong he once was. Stand up and get into stance! We?ve wasted too much time not fighting!?

Gouken was taken aback by Kuwabatake?s fowardness but tried not to reveal it as he snapped into fighting position. Retsu blinked in confusion once then did the same.

?Hmmmmmm?? Kuwabatake mumbled to himself as his animal skin fell to the floor with a thud.

??weighted clothes?? Retsu said to himself.

Kuwabatake then kicked the discarded fur away. It crashed somewhere in the distance noisily disturbing some trees.

Gouken thought the king of the mountain seemed bigger now. The man was over 7 feet tall, and he had to be over 275 lbs with his barrel chest and thick tree trunk limbs. His fists alone were as big as Gouken?s head. Kuwabatake was also quite hairy. Black coarse hair was all over him; he had a thick bushy beard that ambled to the fringes of his stomach. The hair from the top of his head went to his shoulders and it was spread everywhere, Kuwabatake didn?t care enough to brush it from his face. This sight to behold only had one a pair of tattered grey pants, with a black belt around his waist almost dyed brown from dirt.

?Well, attack!? Kuwabatake roared, standing upright with his hands clasped behind him.

His demand was met. A sidekick from Gouken was fired at him while a spinning roundhouse came at him from Retsu.

?Far too frontal for an opening.?

Kuwabatake said as he gripped the legs of Gouken and Retsu by their ankles. Without saying anymore he lifted them off the ground and slammed them into each other. Gouken and Retsu stumbled over each other to stand and when they were on their feet, Kuwabatake was 40 feet away.

?Now try again! I refuse to let a battle begin so horridly!?


A solitary drop of water crashed to the ground, miles away from any person except one. A single drop falling rang as loud in Gouki?s ears as a plate smashing to the floor or a gunshot. In the darkness Gouki sat with his mind in retreat yet expanded beyond his body, to the far reaches of his new dwelling. A cave, wet and full of jutting stalagmites and stalactites that formed a unique canopy that seemingly only Gouki could appreciate.

He had been living here for a week now; only coming out when it was necessary. Food was nonexistent in his dark abode, save for bats and insects. A dozen candles stood atop boulders and formations, the wax dripping down the rock faces and the white stalks of varying heights; some stumps and some a foot high. Gouki had carved a home for himself out of the ancient untamed rock, and he enjoyed his living conditions.

Suddenly Gouki shot to his feet, his eyes still closed as he stood in stance. Mechanically his body began to move, punching the air and kicking with a precision rarely found in someone his age. He imagined himself in a fight, his opponent a formless hulk of flesh and bone.

?WAP?! He punched his invisible opponent square in his unguarded chest, making him stagger backward. Gouki shot forward with an uppercut, then a right hook and finally a jumping slash of a kick. The shadow melted towards the ground. Gouki picked him up by his arm and threw him into a stone wall; the limp body smacked the wet stone and landed in a puddle. Gouki walked forward in his mind?s eye towards his opponent who began to take shape.

Suddenly the opponent rose and it was Gouken. Gouki gasped to find his brother staring back at him with a cunning smile and eyes flashing with playful intensity. Gouki attacked with a punch, it was slapped away effortlessly. Gouki jumped back and fired a ki ball, Gouken let it connect and Gouki stared in horror as it did nothing. Gouki cursed as he rushed forward with a flurry of attacks, punching and kicking at blinding speed. Gouki?s teeth locked together as his face transformed into an expression of determination and anger. The rush of attacks suddenly stopped once Gouken caught Gouki?s fist and held it tight. Gouki looked up into his brother?s eyes, feeling a wave of fear sweep over him as Gouken smiled and reared back his fist?..


The shock jerked Gouki into reality. He fell to the ground, gasping for breath and sweating profusely. His eyes stared blankly forward and his mouth hung agape as Gouki searched for meaning in his vision. He reached his hand to feel his face.

His nose was bleeding; a trickle ran down his finger as he felt his face in the darkness.


Chapter XVII: Leaving The Past

Haaah!! Gouken shouted as he fired a white ball of ki the size of a basketball at Kuwabatake.

Alright lets rush him! He shouted to Retsu and they both dashed towards their opponent. They had outrun the gou hadoken when they met with Kuwabatake. Gouken and Retsu both threw punches aimed at Kuwabatakes chest knowing he would catch them. With his right arm held by Kuwabatake Retsu tried a sweep while Gouken attempted a jumping roundhouse. Kuwabatake lifted his forward foot to avoid the sweep and leaned his upper body back to precisely evade the edges of Goukens foot.

Better! A huge fist slammed into Goukens chest knocking him off balance; Goukens body curling around Kuwabatakes arm. The moment crawled for Gouken; a burning sensation erupted in the center of his chest and seemed to burn through his stomach and lungs. It shot up his arms and legs and finally boiled to the top of his head. His mind blanked out and when he regained his senses he found he was lying on his back. He lifted his head to see Retsu exchanging blows with the king of the mountain.

Retsu shot out with a quick jab and Kuwabatake slapped it away responding with a right cross that made Retsus head tilt to the side. Kuwabatake then performed a precise front kick but Retsu had recovered and guarded against it. The attack still made Retsus stiff body slide a couple inches in the dry and level ground. Retsu sprang back and switched styles, suddenly crouching low to the ground with his hands formed into sharp points.

Mantis. Wonder why he chose that one Said Gouken as he began to get up.

Kuwabatake jumped on the offensive with a quick roundhouse kick that could fell a tree but Retsu leapt completely over it and got in close. He delivered 20 quick hand strikes all over Kuwabatakes torso in under 5 seconds. A backfist from Kuwabatake ended Retsus streak, crashing across Retsus face and making him stumble blindly a few feet before crumbling to the ground. Before Kuwabatake could take advantage of his disoriented Retsu Gouken had sprung to action and knocked Kuwabatake off the ground and away with a solid surprise flying kick.

Retsu stared at the scene with his mouth open. Kuwabatake had been knocked 12 feet into the air and was falling backward when he did a sharp backflip and landed perfectly on his feet. Without a moment to spare Kuwabatake shot his arms outward with wide fingers and open palms. A golden shimmering ki ball the size of Goukens torso was the result. The attack met Gouken before he could touch the ground. He was struck fiercely and launched away, too far to spring back and be an immediate threat to Kuwabatake. As soon as he stopped skidding Gouken jumped to his feet in stance. Where he had ended up he wasnt even sure he could fire an accurate gou hadoken with his distance. Suddenly Retsu skidded to a stop right beside Gouken. He dusted himself off and stood up side by side with his traveling partner.

Hes way too strong. We have to fight him together. Gouken said without looking at his friend, his eyes busy concentrating on the idle Kuwabatake.

Will that even help? Maybe hell thrash us at a slower rate if we take him as one.

Well we could try it.

Eh, whatever. If I can still use my arms and legs after this remind me to teach that old man who led us here a thing or two about Mantis style.

The sky was beginning to turn a hazy orange as dusk began to roll through the day.


Gouken grunted as he ate a couple of quick jabs then howled as an uppercut tore his feet from the ground and brought him crashing to the earth.

Retsu narrowly ducked under a sweeping right hook from Kuwabatake only to catch 2 jabs from Kuwabatakes left hand. Retsu took it in stride, attempting a front kick but being far too predictable and slow. Kuwabatake caught his leg and punched him squarely in the jaw. Retsu rocked backward but Kuwabatake jerked him forward and punched him in the gut.

Retsu!! Gouken shouted as he took off running to help his friend.

Finally Kuwabatake locked both arms around Retsus leg and tossed him into the air. The king of the mountain then dashed up to where Retsu was falling, hopped into the air to catch him only to slam him down into the earth harder than gravity could. Kuwabatake stood up and waited for Retsu to return to his feet and limp into stance. Then Kuwabatake pounced, he shot forward and caught Retsus easily predicted punch and delivered a chop to Retsus neck that made him gasp for air and stagger backward. Kuwabatake then rushed Retsu and kicked him so hard Retsu spun around 3 times before he crashed to the ground and moved no more.

Kuwabatake left Retsu to lay there and turned around to catch a glimpse of a speeding white ball of ki before it slammed into his unguarded torso. The power was only enough to make the king of the mountain stagger a single step.

It is just you and I now Gouken.

Gouken glanced over at the unconscious Retsu, his face showed no emotion.

I guess youre right.

There was little blue left in the clouds.


As Gouken was held up in the air with his face to the sky, he could only go limp under Kuwabatakes grasp. He had exhausted himself fighting; all of his efforts were nowhere near what it took to keep Kuwabatake down. Gouken looked up at the night stars as raindrops fell on his face. The moment stood still for him.

I tried He thought to himself as he began to feel his body move through the air toward the ground.

Goukens body was slammed into the ground so hard birds perched in trees 100 feet away hastily took to the air startled.

A classic powerbomb left Gouken on his back, half of him buried in the now slippery mud as the rain fell on his battered body. His arms and legs were outsretched and he was not moving save for his taking in of short gasps of air while staring up at the night with blank eyes. Kuwabatake stood with his back to his fallen opponents; his hands still fists.

You both have been defeated. It was a good fight and I was surprised by how strong you two were. All that power has a little refinement. But not enough! Im getting out of the rain now. Good luck to the both of you. Kuwabatake began to walk away. Then he noticed the sloshing of someone determined slowly rising to his feet.

His upper body was hunched over and his arms dangled in front of him. His legs wobbled and his body screamed at him to collapse, but Gouken was up. Kuwabatake turned around.

Your friend is unconscious because mentally he gave up a while ago; his mind was just waiting for his body to take all it could supposedly handle. But you Gouken, I hit you harder and fought you fasterand youre still standing. Ive lost count of how many times Ive knocked you down but you are still on your feet. You know Im stronger than you so why are you still ready to fight?

Because I wont allow myself to be defeated.

Kuwabatakes eyes lit up as he smiled big.

Yes! Thats it! This is the point where you actually learn something. Before nowyour fighting was the mechanical movements of your master and your masters master and so onthe trained instincts of your discipline. But nownow you show me what is inside of you. Now you show me what you can do when its no longer a gamewhen it is no longer just a sparring match. I have to say, Im excited. Kuwabatake snapped into stance, his eyes still flashing with anticipation.

Without another word between them they leapt high into the air after each other. They clashed 30 feet from the ground, Kuwabatakes fist buried into Goukens cheek while Goukens extended leg drilled into Kuwabatakes stomach. Neither flinched as they sprung off each other and landed on the ground in their original places. A golden ki ball broke the suddenly eerie silence, speeding towards Gouken. He sidestepped it and put up his guard just in time to absorb a driving knee from the king of the mountain. After the failed knee Gouken felt Kuwabatakes weight shift and knew exactly what to do.

A silent gou shoryuken ripped through Kuwabatake. His limp body sailed in the drizzly night.

UGH! Kuwabatake strained as he hastily composed himself and fired another ki ball between his legs while falling. Goukens feet had not touched the wet soil either and once again he was struck by a golden ki ball while hanging in the air. Gouken now lay in the mud, his ribs on fire but still wordlessly he was returning to his feet. Another sudden ki ball slammed into Gouken but it did not knock him down; only made his feet slide in the wet mud. Gouken slowly walked toward Kuwabatake, defenseless but determined. Kuwabatake fired another ki attack; Gouken sidestepped it and continued his slow advance. Kuwabatake rocketed forward and punched Gouken in the center of his chest. Goukens body buckled under the attack but Gouken did not flinch nor utter a sound, delivering a brutal elbow to the side of Kuwabatakes head. The king of the mountain stumbled then performed a spinning roundhouse that clipped Goukens head. Before Kuwabatake could plant both feet on the ground he was hit with a powerful gou hadoken at point blank range that sent him skidding across the mud 30 feet away.

Kuwabatake, the grizzled old fighter that thought he had grown too strong for any human to seriously challenge him stood up and found he was gasping for air. He looked over at Gouken who was riddled with bloodstains, cuts and bruises but was still walking forward. He was covered in mud that slid across his body from the rain but still he was up. He focused on Goukens face. It was devoid of life with cold eyes and a stone facial expression. The fire no longer burned in his eyes it had all been sent to his fists.

He no longer cares what happens to himselfas long as he hits me

Kuwabatake stared at the approached Gouken, then he noticed the sound:

A low guttural growl slowly intensifying, a sound pulled from the deepest reaches of the human psyche where civilization had not penetrated.

Goukendont let it take over Kuwabatakes voice sounded guarded.

But it was too late for talking to do anything. Gouken roared as he launched himself into Kuwabatake, opening with a headbutt to stun the king of the mountain then a blur of punches to Kuwabatakes body ending with a driving elbow to Kuwabatakes stomach that made the large fighter choke on his own vomit. Gouken then performed a powerful front kick that launched Kuwabatake high into the air. While Kuwabatake floated Gouken charged his Messastu Gou Hado, his teeth pulled back into the primal snarl of an animal on the offensive while his strain showed itself in a low wheeze. Once Gouken unleashed the attack Kuwabatake had regained his senses and saw the large red comet gunning for him.

RECKLESS!! The king of the mountain fell towards the attack with his fist reared behind him. At the very last moment he shot his arm out and punched the destructive ki ball, obliterating the Messasstu Gou Hadouthe attack that was supposed to kill himinto many small shards of shimmering red confetti.

Before Kuwabatake could land Gouken pounced on him but Kuwabatake effortlessly kicked him away. Gouken fell backwards but recovered in mid air and landed on his feet hunched over and drooling.

Kuwabatake dashed toward Gouken and suddenly stopped a couple of feet away from him; just in time to easily dodge Goukens overextended punching arm and tag him in the temple with a reverse elbow. Gouken staggered so Kuwabatake grabbed him by his hair and kneed him in the face. Gouken exploded with a ki attack that was at too close a range, knocking both fighters away from each other and to the mud with a red flash.

Kuwabatake flipped to his feet to find Gouken in the air above him, gathering power. Several red ki balls began to rain upon Kuwabatake as Gouken hollered intelligibly from the air.

ENOUGH! Kuwabatake roared and in an instantly called upon the power to fire one wave of golden ki that obliterated Goukens offensive and struck Gouken in the air like a speeding train. He splashed to the ground a few seconds later, and as he attempted to get up a golden speedball struck his torso and knocked him on his back.

Satsui No Hado is a one trick pony. Blind rage such as this means nothing to someone who knows his art. Gouken! Large amounts of power are practically useless if they are implemented stupidly and ineffectively. Youll cause much destruction of property.but you wont hit your opponent, certainly wont kill them. With great powerone must have great skill to ultilize all their potential. And skill comes with CONTROL Gouken! And control is something you certainly dont have much of right now. I know you hear me Gouken! You dont need massive amounts of power! You need absolute, complete control of every drop of power you have!! You have power to spare Gouken but once you really control it all youll go from being a really good fighter to a great fighterperhaps even a legendary one! Kuwabatakes voice began to get deeper and softer, he was attempting to invade Goukens senses.

Goukenyou know this is not the wayyou know no true strength can be found in need control

Gouken roared suddenly and fired a gou hadoken. Kuwabatake let the attack connect; it did not harm him.

Control yourselfthat is the key. The voice began to echo in Goukens mindslowly driving back the madness. The soft pats of the raindrops hitting the ground began to filter through the red haze to Goukens senses. Goukens wheeze was softer and softer, his posture straightening bit by bit by the second. His eyes regained their character.

.Kuwabatake-samathank youI think Isee it now Was all Gouken could mutter as he fell to his knees. The pain of all his injuries began to rapidly overtake him, flooding his mind and overwhelming him.

As he was blacking outhe heard the king of the mountain say:

If I were to judgeId call you the winner of this fight without a doubt.


Chapter XVIII: Red


Goukis breath was patiently expelled from his lungs as he sat completely still and rigid. His eyes were closed; he was looking deep within himself and attempting to tap into the raging river that was his inner essence. He was developing the technique of rapidly tapping into his power and bringing it to the forefront in the form of a Messastu Go Hadou. Before he could charge up lethal force in about 2 minutes, and after no doubt days of practicing over and over he could charge the same amount of energy into the ki ball in 15 seconds. Still far too long for Gouki, and any fighter he attempted to use the attack on. So he continued training, forgoing a decent meal and a humane amount of rest.

Gouki stood in stance, first looking at the formations of the rock around him then just letting his mind wander freely. He thought back to the beginning of his training, back when he and his brother started under Goutetsu. Goukis memories were full of moments when he was alone; mimicking stances and movements from his master, from his opponents, from the scrolls he read. And he was doing the same thing now. But where was it getting him? His mind flashed to a very young Gouki meditating in the forest, then the image crashed into Goukis mind; the picture of his ribs being broken by a driving knee from Go Hibiki. Goukis mind jumped to watching himself train in the dusty library, open books and scrolls scattered everywhere. In a flash he remembered the powerful burning of his own ki attack being deflected back at him by Gen. All the years he stayed true to methods he thought were correct, the methods he was told were right, and they brought him defeat. But what about what he was warned against? A mix of feelings began to brew in Goukino longer just anger at Gouken. He was angry with the way he was taught by Goutetsu, he was angry for wasting his time on a path he no longer felt he chose for himselfand he was angry because he blindly followed it.

But he stuffed those emotions back down once again, and decided to focus on the task at hand. He closed his eyes and let his energy flow through his body, calm waves of energy building up for his Messastu Gou Hadou. He didnt stop where he usually did; he pulled more energy from himself to make the attack strongerthe strongest he could possibly make it. He slowly let down the mental failsafes; the dams that blocked the totality of his power for his own protection. He gathered ki in his hands until his fingertips and palms burned, and pushed farther. He had to push himself if he wanted to be in his brothers league. He had to shatter his limitations if he was to be the strongest. Gouki knew this all too well, for his old method did not work. He now had a new regiment. He was going to break himself, and rebuild. Goukis joints began to ache and sweat cascaded down his facehe had been gathering power for what seemed like hours but only a few minutes. Still it was longer than he ever had before, and longer than he should if he were in a real fight. Once Gouki felt that he was about to collapse he shot his hands forward and released the Messastu Go Hadou. The white ki balls glow lit up the entire cave as if it were daylight itself, the attack twice the size of Goukis body and speeding towards nothing it shimmered as if the gods produced it themselves. Gouki smiled weakly as he slid to his knees drained of all his energy. He was satisfied with that one; he knew that attack carried a great amount of powerenough to destroy Gen, Gouken and possibly Goutetsu if it connected. Gouki sighed as he let himself crumple to the wet ground.

Then he heard the thunder as the attack connected with the cave wall in the distance, followed by a tremor that shook the ground where Gouki lay. Goukis upper body sprang up, but the cave returned to silence. A bit of dust and gravel fell from the ceiling onto Goukis lap then a great rumbling resounded throughout the cave. More debris began to fall, and Goukis eyes darted around his surroundings.

No! It cant be-

Before he could think anything else, the cave around him fell in on itself and everything descended into an inescapable darkness.


Gouki awoke to find it was no different than being unconscious. Only there wasnt the screaming pain that spanned his entire body.

The darkness seemed to be a weight crushing the air and life out of him. All he could discern was that he was on his back; he felt he was deeper underground than he originally was and that the ground was wetter than it should have been. He realized everywhere below his torso hummed a freezing throb. The water was warm and thick. He realized it was his own blood, a puddle of it beneath him. His next realization was that he could barely feel the bottom half of his body and that it was not responding to his mental commands. His legs felt as if they were slipping into a coma; little sharp tingles of feeling pulsed through them but trying to even flex a toe resulted in nothing. Goukis hand felt around in the dark to run his hands over a piece of jagged, cold, wet rockand then his own numb flesh. There was no space in between. A stalactite had fallen from the ceiling and impaled him to the ground through his midsection. Goukis hand flopped beside him as his mouth hung open in shock, choking on his own air.

I am going to die

The thought burrowed into his mind and heart. The thought of the end of his life being so close made a lump in Goukis throat. The panic began to rise in him and his heart quickened. This made his injuries bleed and hurt more.

II cant die herenot now Gouki struggled as he spoke, speaking to no one. The words fell from his mouth like drool in the darkness.

Is this how you want your story to end Gouki?

An ethereal voice echoed from the cavern walls.

NoIt cant.I have to become stronger…

Stronger for what? You can dispose of any opponent that you fightexcept for a few select ones.And what do they matter? There are several people better than you and so many that cant compare to you. What does it matter?

They are not better than me-ARGH! Gouki roared, the strain from his shout made his body shift some and brought him great pain. He lay still but his head was spinning violently. Gouki wondered if this was the voice of death as his vision flickered. Gouki felt himself being pulled down as he saw white spots everywhere in the darkness.

Look at you. Your fear of their strength only makes you weaker. Youve been Goutetsus trained dog and Goukens punching bag for too long because you assumed what they told you was right. You know the key is not relentless study Gouki. The key is what theyve told you to hide, what they told you was holding you back The voice was barely a whisper in the cavern but it was heard loud and clear. Gouki smiled weakly because the voice sounded like it belonged to a feisty woman. The smile did not last.

Your anger. They knew the power you had, the strength your anger would bring out. But they withheld it from you! Because they knew you would be stronger than both of them!

No…they didnt knowand if they did they wanted to help merage is blind power

POWER IS POWER. Do not be foolish!

The voice boomed, but boomed without an increase in emotion.

Your feelings, your will to be the strongestthey give you strength! Youve struggled to keep them bottled up and it has kept you weak and impotent. Now is the time, your final chance to reach for the power that has always been just beyond your grasp. You could die in this cave a pathetic nobody, or you could embrace your inner selfall of yourself and become the only warrior that matters! Unleash your true strength or die Gouki!

The voice began to ebb; the whisper from nowhere retreating from the sharp wet rocks and sliding back into the shadows. Gouki swore he could feel it sliding away from him and his panic increased. He squirmed unconsciously and howled in pain a split second later. He couldnt seem to get enough air in his lungs. The dizziness was becoming unbearable. It felt like his soul was to be violently thrown from his body in mere moments.

What do I do?? How do I unlock my true self? How do I tap into this power?! Goukis desperate voice echoed in the caverns but it was not returned. He coughed violently as his arms began to go numb.

Well look at you!

Gouki looked up to find himself staring at Gouken. But how? Goukis vision was blinking in and out; and when it was in it the entire image was blurred. What Gouki saw shook in a haze.

What are you doing here?! Gouki thundered; then coughed more blood.

Im just here to watch. Hey, do you need any help? The faded image of Gouken bent over a little and offered his hand to Gouki with the open palm just a few inches from Goukis face. Gouki spat at it.

Id rather die than receive help from you!

It looks like thats exactly what youll do too. Well with you dead I guess its up to me to teach our style to the next generation.shit I cant remember any of the katas though Gouken straightened himself up and pondered.

Fool! You never gave a damn about Ansatsuken did you? You just wanted to spar, to fightto get dirty and bloody. I studied; I tried to learn everything there was to know about our style! .and youYou sat on your ass if there wasnt a tournament coming up!! Goukis shouting racked his body. Lightning bolts that struck from from his spine outward. His shouts were weak and staggered and his head bobbed with the impending unconsciousness.

And look where it got me.

Goukens sly smile said it all. He grinned in the dying Goukis face, the same grin he had shown to opponents when he knew the fight was close to finishing. The same grin that he had since his carefree youth. Gouki stared at it, focused on it. Refusing to blink so his eyes began to water. His body from the waist down now felt like dead weight. A sinking ship. Goukis nerves from the waist up were violently aflame, screaming at him to do something to make the pain stop.

Gouken then turned around and began to walk away; the hallucination fading into the rocks.

Goukis anger began to boil inside of him, bubbling faster and faster until his his jaw felt it would shatter from how hard he bit down. Thoughts of all the attacks that ever caught him by surprise flashed through his mind. The crushing blows that chipped away at his strength and his resolve over and over again, now began to build him up. He let his anger flow through him, like hot lava running through the veins of the planet earth. Images flashed in Goukis mind faster and faster. His father falling to the ground dead, the pain of his own brothers fist, the image of Gen on the end of Goukens flying kick, Gouken under the influence of Satsui No Hado, Goutetstu teaching him and his brother to meditate, Goutetsu sliding the ceremonial beads around Goukens neck, General Fujimas grinning face. The images flew by faster and faster, slowly gaining a red tint as they whizzed through Goukis mind.

Gouki howled and shot his fist forward, smashing the rock that had pinned him down into dust and jagged daggers of stone. He jumped to his feet and instantly fell to his kneesyet his body pulsed with energyhis fingertips anxious and his eyes wide and blank. Deep in his mind he knew he would be on his feet in an instant.

ARRRRGGGGGGHHHHHH!!! Gouki screamed from the bottom of his soul as he lashed out at the surroundings around him. Firing ki blasts in every direction, punching and kicking the cavern walls so hard they crumbled under his limbs. He was in a frenzy; attacking everything and anything around him. Blasting red light at the darkness. Using his legs for bursts of jumps. Firing behind him as he he instinctevly sought level ground. Seeing great slabs of stone slid away away deep into the darkness and hearing the cracks and rumbles as they banged through to the bottom. He thought of nothing, he could only appreciate the destruction and vaguely plan his escpace. It isnt known how long Gouki was down there under Satsui No Hado.but he had blown himself out of the rubble as soon as the first hints of dawn began to streak across the sky.

He finally had a chance to look at himself under the approaching light. He was bleeding from everywhere. Deep cuts lined his entire body plus the hole in his abdomen from the stalactite. He was sure he had broken a rib or two but he was not feeling any pain. As a beam of sunlight streaked across the sky Gouki looked directly at it and had to squint. He could hear the chirping of birds but the sound seemed very far away from him. As the light stung his face the pain of his injuries began flooding his mind. Gouki looked down at his injuries one more time and something inside him shorted out. He collapsed on the spot, flopping onto the green grass limply. But he was alive and he was reborn.


Chapter XIX: Might Makes Right

  • China

?Are you serious?! Some young man from Japan demands to see the ancient scrolls? Tell him no and don?t bother me with such trivialities again!!?

A quick thump on the head from the elder sent the young monk messenger scampering through the halls of the dusty temple. Minutes later he arrives at the tense scene with the intruder. The young boy stops, composes himself and clears his throat to sound important. There is no noise in the secluded mountains today. The mist hangs over the peaks and the sky seems layered with thin clouds.

?The clan chief prohibits the viewing of the technique scrolls!? Shouted the boy in a faux deep voice.

10 older shaolin monks were in the same room with their eyes set upon Gouki. One opened his mouth to speak.

?If you want to spar with us, that?s fine. We could both learn from each other. But no outsiders are allowed to see our secrets.? The young man stated with caution, his hands balled into fists behind his back.

?We can?t give you the secrets to our art.? Another monk reiterated.

?Then I?ll take them.? Gouki?s ability to speak Mandarin Chinese proved satisfactory.

The stranger?s reply startled the monks. They stiffened their stances and exchanged quick nervous glances with each other. The well tended hardwood floor gleamed with polish. The monastery was of a moderate size but furnished humbly. The materials were simple and the colors of the walls, balconies and columns were natural earth tones. The air had a dense cold to it.

?Then we?ll have to stop you.? The lead monk answered.

?It is arrogant and selfish to hide and hoard techniques. You do not own power. You do not have a right to it just because you are a certain sect. If you truly believe you do, then prove it. Defeat me and protect your treasures.?

One overzealous student wasted no time, lunging at Gouki with a bamboo staff. Gouki stood still with his back to the charging monk. The monk leapt into the air, holding his staff above his head with both hands. He then brought it crashing down upon Gouki, and once his feet touched the ground he was frozen in shock.

Gouki had not moved, and the monk?s bamboo staff was broken in two. Before the monk could finish gasping Gouki turned around and punched him about 20 feet away, making the monk?s body slide and bounce on the clean wood floor until he hit a wall and was still. The room breathed as Gouki rigidly shifted into fighting stance and the monks encircled him. The candle flames flickered in excitement for the contest they were about to witness. The floorboards braced themselves for the strain they knew was impending. Out of the nine fighters left four had weapons. There were two swordsmen, a man with nunchaku and another man with a staff. They all had their weapons drawn and ready. Gouki took in a deep breath of the cool air and felt enclosed in relaxation and readiness.

?Well, attack me.?

?Haaah!? One monk uttered a short shout and sprang forward with a jumping front kick. Once the kick was deflected the monk fell into a low stance, one leg almost parallel to the ground and the other crouched, his arms outward expecting attack. Another monk from behind attacked, Gouki blocked the punch and tried to deliver a backfist but the monk was using his other arm to guard. The two monks now stood facing Gouki waiting on him to move. Gouki lashed out with a front kick that turned into a rushing elbow, knocking one monk off his feet and hitting the ground a couple feet away. Before Gouki could turn around a fist slammed into his cheek. As Gouki leaned backward a heel drove itself into his back. This was followed by another punch to the opposite cheek; Gouki stumbled a few steps and then stopped abruptly. He whirled around to find a flying kick aimed straight for him. He caught the attacker?s leg and hurled him into the group advancing, knocking them all over like bowling pins. Gouki gave them time to all get up and encircle him again as his impatience simmered. He was not in stance this time, his back straight and his hands balled into fists at his sides. His face was vacant. The scene returned to the static silence, the floorboards were given a break and they enjoyed it. Gouki did not wait until he was attacked first this time as he lashed out with a swift punch that tore through the first person in front of him; knocking him off balance and disorienting him. Gouki delivered a flurry of punches to the monk?s torso then tripped him. Before the monk could fall to the ground Gouki performed a reverse side-kick to his airborne body that knocked him against a wall. The monk groaned below a smattering of blood on the wood. Gouki cupped his hands to his side to build ki quickly and fired a ki ball at the monk approached quickly from his right. He did not look to see where the monk landed as he turned and deflected a kick and swatted away a punch on the opposide side. Gouki jumped backward and barreled over 3 monks with a Tatsumaki Zankuu Kyaku. He was focused on destroying all of his opponents and getting what he came for. As a monk that had been knocked against a wall sprang up to attack a ball of purple ki exploded from Gouki?s outstretched palms, slamming into the monk and knocking him through the same wall his hunched back was leaning on a minute earlier. When the dust settled, his ankles dangled outside a gaping hole in the ancient and now splintered wood.

A monk shouted and rushed forward. Gouki took one step to the side and deflected a punch-kick combination from the monk. The swift chop to the neck from behind knocked the monk forward and to the ground. Another monk jumped forward and was floored with a lightning fast roundhouse kick before he could even attack. The two swordsmen criss-crossed into Gouki?s path and both slashed downward similtaneously. Gouki effortlessly avoided their blades and waited for the next attack as the two men paused side by side in front of him with swords held above their heads. One monk nodded to the other and attacked; running forward swinging his blade wildly. Gouki ducked and swerved as the other swordsman attempted a forward thrust that was sidestepped. Gouki delivered a powerful downward chop to the exposed neck of the one nearest him that dropped the monk. The other swordsman had leapt into the air with his sword held high with both hands, poised to deliver a downward strike capable of cleaving its target into pieces. Gouki caught the blade in between his two open hands. The monk gasped and Gouki smiled. In what seemed like a single motion Gouki snatched the sword from the monk?s hand and backfisted him so hard he bounced off the ground.

?You all are too weak to waste my time with.? Gouki closed his eyes and looked inward. He tapped into the volcano that was inside and pulled from it. He sprang high into the air with his eyes still closed and fists at his sides. He suddenly shot a single palm downward and out burst a Tenma Gou Zankuu. The ball of purple flame zeroed in on the group of monks who could only stare like deer in headlights. The attack decimated the group; scattering their scorched bodies everywhere in the room. When Gouki?s feet touched the ground again he was the only one standing but one last fighter struggled to prop himself up for another attempt. He was cut, bruised and hunched over but still he remained in Gouki?s way.

?You will abuse our techniques?I can?t let you have them. Not while I?m still standing.?

?I?ve said before. They aren?t your techniques.?

Gouki slowly strolled up to the monk until he was inches away from his face. He stared into the monk?s eyes?they were steeled with resolve but the rest of his face could not hide the great fear that gripped it. The monk?s lips quivered and sweat on his cheek glistened in the dim light as Gouki stood motionless and unreadable. Gouki continued to study the monk?s face for a few moments before the monk snapped and attacked. A lazy punch from Gouki brought him down in a split-second. As Gouki looked around him he saw several men writhing and groaning on the floor but none stood up and none attacked. The rest were motionless in defeat.

Gouki moved on, deeper into the temple. He briskly jogged down a dark corridor with ornate candles lining the walls too high to reach unaided. He could hear shouts and movement in front of him behind a great door. Gouki was smiling as he thought about who else would stand in his way. His rapid footsteps echoed like a war drum as he neared the end of the long hallway. With a might shove he pushed a large red door open and entered a great hall. There were two levels and a great number of monks surrounding him. Too many to count and so many that they would just get in each other?s way if they tried to take him at once.

The young and old were present with suspicious eyes. Warriors and scholars were rolling up their sleeves as they stared at him. Even the cooks seemed ready to fight if it came down to it. Gouki chuckled to himself. Part of him enjoyed besting his opponents and he knew that same part would relish in this grand battle.

?Do all of you wish to fight me?!?

He laughed loudly; then eased into stance. The crowd tensed.


An old but powerful voice shouted in the distance. The front of the miniature army divided like a doorway and the temple elder appeared. He was tall, dressed in long flowing robes that were of a plain fabric but looked like silk on him. He had a long white beard and long hair tied close to him. In his hand held an ornate brass tube; no doubt containing a scroll. No doubt containing what Gouki wanted.

?You all would have thrown your lives away fighting this man. He is resolved to acquire knowledge and he is strong enough to take it. I believe?in a way this man has proven himself worthy of this scroll.?

Gouki was surprised at what he was hearing. He relaxed out of stance and stood up straight. His head darted around the room slightly confused.

?Young man?strength clears paths. But not all paths. You will one day encounter someone stronger than you because your soul is weak. Take the scroll and leave in peace.?

?How did you know which one I desired??

?I feel the fire in you. This particular scroll is the only thing a man of your alignment would want here.? As the elder spoke his followers looked anxious. Some looked angry but most looked baffled.

Gouki gingerly grasped the container from the elder and bowed. He then turned to leave.

?I must warn you. The power held inside that could consume your soul.? The elder?s eyes seemed concerned but stern.

?My soul is mine to do what I please with. I thank you elder.?

Gouki respectfully paused to bow while continuing out the door. The residents of the monastery lowered their fists slowly. Once the door behind Gouki carefully closed and he was gone a young monk ran up the elder in a panic.

?Elder! Why?! What was the meaning of giving him our secrets?!? The young boy?s eyes glimmered with potential tears.

?To seal his destiny my son.?


  • Japan

?I think this should be the place.? Gouken proclaimed as he let his bag drop into the full green grass. It was a piece of land that no one was interested in. It belonged to a farming family that left it to go to the city someone a few miles back said. From the looks of the two-story house and surrounding areas they had left a generation ago. The grass grew wildly on the lawn and had crept up to the porch. The paint was gone in most places on the outside and half the windows were broken. There was enough cleared ground to fight comfortably in and the forests and mountains were their neighbors in the distance. The plot they were looking at was only cleared for an acre and the rest was thick with trees and bushes. The hills in the far distance were green and gentle in appearance.

?So you want to settle here?? Retsu questioned, the area was a little too country for him.

?Yes. It?s the perfect place for us to train. Perhaps one day take on students! So much space?you know I studied in this same sort of setting.?

?You?ve told me countless times Gouken. Meditating under waterfalls, fighting on top of slippery logs. I guess the training worked.?

Retsu walked forward toward the house, examining the ground with scanning eyes.

?Yeah it?ll need work. Landscape a bit. We need a big patch of clear dirt to spar in of course. Shouldn?t be too hard.? Gouken said as he slowly spun around staring at the sky.

?It?ll need a ton of work. I think a lot of this wood is no good.? Retsu muttered as he reached for the doorknob. He pulled it and the door came off with a crunch followed by the ?ting? of metal dropping. Retsu almost tripped backward down the few steps off the porch.

?I?ll settle here for a good while at least.? He shoved the broken door aside and sneezed. Retsu didn?t like all the money and time they?d have to spend fixing the house up but the view and solitude more than made up for it in his mind. He wiped dust off of his clothes and walk back toward the daydreaming Gouken.

?So how do we go about purchasing this land? Or can we just squat? I don?t think anybody cares if we squat.?

?No we?re not squatting. We?re pretty broke but on the bright side?if we were to purchase this land we don?t have to pay all of it right now. We have enough for a down payment. But more would have to come later.?

?How are we going to get that more for later??

?We have a few options. As long as every so often Gouken the number one fighter rakes in some tournament prize money.?

?You?d better be bringing in some prizes yourself! There are only so many tournaments!?

Retsu and Gouken chuckled at the idea that it would be so easy. Gouken wondered to himself about what kind of job he?d have to get. But after almost 2 years of wandering he wanted to have a place where he could stay and live, instead of just pass by or through for a few moments. He had known 2 places called ?home? in his life and he realized he was in need of a third.

?Retsu, why did you get kicked out of the Shaolin temple again??

?A bunch of reasons.?

?Give me one for now.? Gouken asked Retsu this question every so often, and every time he was given a different answer.

?I went to the city every weekend, slipped out to gamble a bit or hit on a few girls. When I got into fights my elders took it as a personal insult to the school.?

?You were a bad monk.? Gouken teased. He was glad they were able to be light with each other. The gentle breeze and blue sky helped.

?No, just immature. Being a monk is so restricting, after spending all day sweeping and dusting and reading you want to have a little fun once in a while.?

?That doesn?t sound like regret Retsu.?

?I don?t regret being ousted. It just wasn?t for me at the time, and still isn?t. Hence me wandering Japan, being a bum with you.?

?We aren?t bums anymore. We?re landowners.?

?Whatever. Welcome home.?

?You too!?

This home was known as Sujyaku.


Chapter XX: The Boy from the Market


A darkness deep and total, with a silence so vast Gouken thought for a moment he was deaf. The emptiness, he saw no end in sight in any direction. Something gave Gouken the impression that it was not a darkness to be wary of, but more along the lines of the void of a blank canvas. From the black numerous tiny flames emerged, slowly filling Gouken?s view. Flames fueled by the invisble, some farther away and some closer. Some violent, some gentle and small. Countless and Gouken wondered how different they all were from each other. He fought the urge to reach out and touch one of them.

Then the candleless flames started to fade back into the void, until only one light remained, a single fire to focus Gouken?s attention:

Was it a flame? Now it was a young boy, standing there in the black with dirty clothes and vacant eyes. The void itself began to recede; the scene fading into a carrow city alleyway impossibly crowded with blurry moving people. The boy never moved, and the people shuffling all around him did not notice or disturb.

Gouken wondered why the child was the only one in focus, the only person he could see clearly.

As if the great sandman had heard Gouken, the alleyway was empty save the child in an instant. The blurry bustling people simply faded without a sound. Gouken could not see the sun, but he thought that the boy had an unusually long shadow?

The shadow behind the boy then began to pulse and twitch, or maybe Gouken was just late on noticing it? The shadow appeared alive, Gouken sensed it was a part of the boy, and familiar to himself. Gouken felt the shadow to be a danger to the child; he felt an intense urge to help him. As Gouken neared the boy the shadow rose off the ground, rising in height like a predator.

?No!? His voice seemed small and muddled. The boy was unmoving as the shadow rose over his head to enclose him.

Gouken dashed towards the boy wondering how to fight the shadow. As he ran he felt a chilling cold over his shoulder, a blast of icy wind that stung his skin. He turned his head and there was nothing to see, only the darkness that had now enclosed him.

This was the recurring dream Gouken had been having for the past two months. He did not mention it to anyone.


  • Japan

?Hey Gouken! More herbs for this week??

Gouken stopped and turned to who called him with a warm disarming smile.

?Of course Mrs. Nishiko! I almost forgot!?

Another Saturday morning at the market. This particular time the market was only half packed and it was much appreciated by the patrons present. Gouken has gone every week for groceries for the past 5 years. He is 31 years old now, and enjoying routine.

?Thank you very much Mrs. Nishiko.? Gouken flashed another smile to the kind old woman as he handed her the money for the collection of medicines and teas and walked on. His stride was natural yet modest. He walked with planned steps but they were not meek. He walked with a straight back, one hand in his pocket and the other holding a sack of goods slung over his shoulder. Gouken strolled down street hanging to the far right. He liked to watch the activity of the market; it was a nice change from the solitude found at home.

It was still home; he was surprised at how content he was here. In the back of his mind he figured the itch to continue wandering would never leave him. The itch for what? The itch to sleep in haystacks in run down barns? The itch to look over your shoulder for bandits while the cold wind slashed into your face? Gouken liked the feeling of having a place where people knew him and he knew them. He enjoyed sleeping, training, and eating in one place again. Gouken was home yet something was still absent. Maybe it was the feeling that he?d hit a wall with his own progression in his art. For the better part of a year now he felt like he was not getting stronger. No matter how much he meditated or spared with Retsu Gouken did not feel like he was improving.

?Have I reached my limit already? Is this the best I?ll ever be?? Gouken thought to himself as he strolled through the vibrant marketplace.

?Or maybe I just need to fight more people? Learn from others out there. I?m limiting myself just staying here?? Gouken did not want to think of it like that, he fought the urge to think of it as a negative. Making a home and staying in it did not feel like a limitation. Gouken was drifting away from the marketplace now, ambling down a narrow street towards the outskirts of town. Making a home and staying in it was not a limitation.

?A lot of things I need to learn to become stronger wandering can?t teach me.?

Once Gouken uttered that thought in his mind the questions fell away, withering into nothing before such a clear statement. Gouken turned his head behind him to see the market and crowd of people farther away than he thought they were. Then Gouken thought of his brother, and wondered how far away he was now. He had to be stronger now than he was the last time Gouken saw him. How strong? It had been 10 years since they had spoken; it had been 10 years since they had seen each other.

?Hmph. Gouki isn?t in a rush to see me anyway.?

Once Gouken muttered this inside himself he wondered if it were true. He was now at the top of a hill, the town being behind him and barely touched countryside spread before him. He could make out a winding dirt path that ambled into the horizon, a road out of town. He smiled to himself; the itch to walk down that road was small. Home was in the other direction.

Gouken then registered a slight tug on his pant leg that snapped him back to the present.

?Are you lost??

Gouken looked down into the dirt caked face of a boy no older than 8. His eyes held an honesty Gouken had rarely seen in anyone, his clothes were in tatters but he stood straight.

?No not at all. Just looking out and thinking. I don?t need to be lost to do that.? The boy was looking out at the sky and earth beside him, his eyes seemed to be searching, scanning the landscape for what Gouken was looking for or at. It had to be interesting to make such a big man stop and stare.

?I don?t see many adults look out into the sky like you. When I see adults look out into the sky it is because they are worried.?

?Well?I am worried. But more just thinking. I?m not sad.? Neither Gouken nor the boy had turned to face each other while speaking yet. Gouken turned his face away from the sky and to the boy to continue the conversation.

?Why are you sad boy??

?Being hungry makes me sad. But it does not make me look out into the sky, it makes me watch the ground and tables and people for food!?

Gouken couldn?t help but chuckle because the boy was also smiling. He didn?t have shoes on, and the amount of dirt on the boy?s feet and ankles told Gouken he hadn?t had shoes for a while.

?Don?t you have parents to get you food??


?Is there anyone to look after you??

The boy shook his head, Gouken felt a sharp pang in his heart.

?What is your name boy??


?Do you have a last name??

?I can?t remember it anymore. Someone used to call me Hoshi but that isn?t my real name.?

?Oh?? Gouken?s voice trailed off into the wind. He had been without a family so long he forgot his family name. Gouken paused to look out once more to the sky, then back to the boy.

?Ryu?a strong name. Well little Ryu, you can come home with me for a meal and a bed. You?ve relied on your own strength for far too long young one.?

The little boy smiled, hope shined brightly in his eyes?so bright all Gouken could do was smile in return.

?Come along now, I bet you?re starving. I?m hungry myself.?


The candlelight danced around the outline of the little boy as he slept, the covers wrapped tight around his body as he slumbered in a ball. Gouken stood on the other side of the room, his back leaning against the wall. He was silent, watching and thinking.

?There?s something special about that kid,? Retsu walked into the room while the gravel in his slippers softly crunched. His eyes glanced at Gouken then shifted to the sleeping child known as Ryu.

?Yes. I can?t imagine what his life has been like. He has been totally alone for?who knows.? Gouken?s face showed no expression as he spoke.

?Yet his heart isn?t cold. He didn?t try to steal from me and he didn?t steal any food from the vendors. He was honest and asked.?

?Gouken?if everyone said no and he got hungry enough he would have stolen it.? Retsu added.

?Well yeah I?m sure. But he didn?t start stealing and I think that says something.? The candle flames danced on Gouken?s face as he paused to say his next sentence.

?I?m thinking about asking him to become my student.? Gouken said it plainly, his eyes still focused on the bed.

?Are you sure??

?Not yet. But I know who to see to make sure.?

Retsu smiled, he knew whom Gouken was speaking of.

?This boy was in my dream. We were both swallowed up by shadows at the end I think.? Gouken?s voice sounded surprisingly childish, like someone reporting something so unbelievable he didn?t expect to be believed.

?Interesting. Was there anyone else in the dream??

?No one else was in focus.? Gouken?s voice was in a flat whisper.

?I don?t know what that means. I don?t know what to tell you friend, except that it is getting late.? Retsu crossed back over to the doorway to exit. He paused and turned his head to say one more thing.

?Gouken just don?t walk the whole damn way there. These are modern times you know.?

?Walking is more intimate.?

?It is incredibly slow. You can think on a train or a bus.?

As Retsu exited the room and eased into the shadows for his room Gouken reminded himself that Retsu would rather not say enough than talk too much. A minute later; as Gouken heard the quiet and singular creak of Retsu?s door closing he wondered if his friend Retsu had always been that way or had acquired it through experience.


-Elsewhere in Japan

Goutetsu stood outside on the porch of his house, one hand resting on a beam and the other holding a cup of tea. The only giveaway that he was in his 60s was the long braided mostly white hair on his head. His body was in extraordinary condition and his face had a few gentle creases. The sun was just beginning to come up; he could hear the roosters in the distance and the chirping birds close to him. The morning dew was still on the grass, a clue that the air felt cool and fresh.

?Dear, are we expecting any visitors?? Goutetsu looked over his shoulder as he spoke.

?No?not that I know of?.heehee.? Afaik had received the telegram days ago but she wanted to make a surprise out of it.

?Hmmm?? Goutetsu couldn?t make out the figure approaching but his form looked like it was strong and flexible. A martial artist. Someone coming to learn from him?or something a little more demanding? The figure?s stride carried no urgency.

Goutetsu set down his tea and began to slowly walk forward, his hands clasped behind him but still ready to fight if it came to it. His stride also carried no urgency.

The two men grew closer to one another and both began to lighten up.

?Master, I?m sorry I haven?t been visiting you like I should. Please forgive me.?

?Gouken. You don?t have to call me that. I?m not your master anymore, and you certainly are no one?s student! Look at you! You?ve grown into quite a man. How long has it been??

?three years mas-?Goutetsu.? Gouken caught himself but it was difficult. He still referred to Goutetsu as master in his mind, he had ever since he met him.

?Hm?I guess it?s a habit. So what brings you here??

?I have something on my mind. I wanted to consult you before I did anything.?

?Ah. But before we get to business, how about making an old man happy?? Goutetsu smiled as he unbuttoned his shirt and rolled his sleeves up. Gouken chuckled as he watched then began stretching himself.

?Let?s head west.?

?Ready? Don?t hold back son.? Goutetsu casually tossed away his shirt; he didn?t want to get it too dirty. Afaik had just done the wash yesterday. Gouken mimicked his former master, hanging his discarded shirt on a tree branch.

?You can go all out on me too. I?m stronger now than when I left.? Goutetsu noticed that the smirk Gouken used to wear so naturally when he said anything related to his strength increasing was beginning to fade. It was now a quick flash of teeth before the face returned again to that of a slightly amused man.

?I?ll soon see just how much stronger.?


Gouki studied the headstone, his eyes refusing to lend themselves to anything else. He was disappointed. He had traveled all this way to find and kill General Fujima and here he was already dead.

The man who killed his father and ripped his life to shreds was dead. But in a strange way Gouki thought he should thank the general. If it wasn?t for him Gouki would have still been the frail child he was when Goutetsu took him in. Yet still Gouki was disappointed. He wanted to show Fujima his strength; he wanted the old man to fear his power before he was rightfully cut down. Gouki wanted to see the fear in Fujima?s eyes as he muttered for his life; he wanted to remember it. The more Gouki thought about it the more his disappointment turned to anger. It swelled inside him, making him clench his teeth and fists as he stared at the grave.

In a flash he lashed out, striking the tombstone and shattering it to pieces. He didn?t wait for the cloud of dust to settle before he walked off?still disappointed.


?Is this your idea of fun?! Beating each other to pulps?! I?ve lost count of how many bones I had to reset between the both of you! Get off my table Gouken you?re done.? Afaik said with a tired voice as Gouken leapt up to walk into the other room.

?Thanks again Afaik. You?re a lifesaver.? Gouken said with a wink as he left to join his former master.

?The boy Ryu?you already know you should take him as your student.? Goutetsu was seated, relaxed back in his chair sipping on?of course tea.

?Yes, it is what my gut feeling is telling me. But what about the rule of two? Ryu would have no one beside him during his training??

?Tradition is a guide Gouken, not a jailer. The boy should be trained, you want to train him?? Goutetsu paused to slurp more tea. ?So train him. Another student will probably come along later.?

?Wow. This was easier than I thought.?

?It always is.?

?Not true. Your training was harder than anything I imagined.?

Goutetsu erupted into a hearty laugh. He spilled the cup of tea in his right hand and slapped his knee with his left. Gouken did not understand what Goutetsu found so funny but the sight of his former master laughing made him laugh.

?You even started out by throwing us in a river! Two little boys! We thought you were so mean afterwards.?

?I was! And I was gentle when I should have been too.?

?I agree. Thank you Goutetsu?.for everything really. I don?t know where I would have been if it weren?t for you.?

?I don?t know where or who I would be if it were not for you two. To stay on the subject?have you heard from your brother??

Gouken paused, his eyes held a distant look in them.

?Not at all. I worry about him. He seemed to hold so much pain in his heart??

?The pain motivated him. I?m sure he?s fine. He?s strong. You both are.?

Afaik appeared in the doorway, her smile had returned.

?Gouken are you staying for dinner??


?I?m sorry hun but he won?t be. He?d better head home.? Goutetsu turned to look at Gouken, smiling brightly like a proud father.

?After all, he?s got work to do.?

Sidestory: Wildfires

  • Thailand

Thailand’s famous heat paraded itself around the arena; not even a building standing up on just beams could chase it away. It didn’t help that there was a crowd at least double the capacity present. They were everywhere. A sea of people on the floor, a crowd tightly packed outside and a mob scene on the upper level balcony. All of them came from near and far to watch the spectacle, and their eyes hadn’t moved from the ring since the contest began.

As Dan sat on the shoulders of a watcher that knew whose son he was he couldn’t stop wondering why his father had come out of retirement. He was happy his father was home all the time now. He was happy with all the attention that otherwise would have been devoted to training. Dan couldn’t understand why his father kept going on about his ‘last hurrah’. And what made this fighter known as Sagat so special?

Go Hibiki knew no one would understand why he chose to fight again after 5 years, but at least his trainers went along with it and pretended to. Go knew how old he was, he didn’t need to be reminded of it anytime the fight was brought up. He also knew how young Sagat was, how he swept Thailand in a storm with his remarkable talent. How people were calling him the best that had ever been. Sagat was being titled the Prince of Muay Thai. Everyone had to have known that kind of talk would not sit well with someone like Go Hibiki. Someone who after becoming the best defended his title more times than the average newscaster, fighter or promoter could correctly count. They had to have known; yet why were they so shocked when Go announced he was getting back in the ring just to fight Sagat?

Go hopped back to avoid a piston of a punch and then dashed in crouching to land a blow for himself. Go cocked back his fist but caught a driving knee that made the teeth in his mouth rattle. Go attempted to ignore it as he unleashed a series of elbow strikes to Sagat’s chest, planning to finish it off with a reverse spinning elbow to the face. Sagat caught Go’s arm and held it tight. Go stared into Sagat’s eyes. The screaming mob was a blurry whisper in his peripheral; there was only his opponent?s eyes. They held a fire Go was very familiar with. This Sagat…was something. Even Go had to admit it.

Not even 20; yet his lean and toned body was over 6 feet tall. His arms and legs had tremendous reach and the speed to capitalize on it. He was good, but not worthy to be an heir to the throne Go had sat on once. Not yet.

Sagat then viciously knocked Go in the center of his back, the driving force of Sagat?s knee dislocating Go’s shoulder and sending him bouncing off the ropes at the opposide side of the ring and to the mat. Go’s manager leapt up, ready to stop the fight. Go shot him a glare so fierce he froze and sat back down. Go struggled to his feet, one arm limp and straight and the other raised in a tense defensive position. What remained of the fire that once burned in Go’s eyes was a smoulder, but it still burned. Go turned over his shoulder and looked at his son. Dan’s face was frozen in fear and anticipation. Go winked, turned back around and rocketed towards Sagat; jumping into the air with a flying knee.

Go’s attack stopped suddenly as Sagat gripped Go’s neck with one hand. Go’s feet dangled at least a foot above the mat. Go could feel his strength draining from him. As if the force from the sudden jerk ruptured the reservoir of his spirit. He still had some left, he still had plenty left. Go smiled at Sagat, the old cocky smile he used to give doomed opponents. Go?s knee was fast as lightning, stricking perfectly into Sagat?s side. Sagat grunted and winced releasing his grip enough for Go to swat his limp outstretched arm and deliver another knee to the same spot. Sagat rocked backward, Go guessed he had one more good attack while the getting was good. He cocked his free arm back. Before Go could land the punch Sagat?s punch connected to Go?s face, dropping him in an instant.

Go could hear the crowd gasp as the side of his face smacked the canvas. Go had been a fool. Sagat?s arms are longer than his. Go cursed his foolishness as flipped over on his back, propped his arm beneath him and rose to his feet. Sagat was in his corner, patiently waiting. How nice of him. Go hopped in place for a second and punched the air. He did not want to look at Dan. For now it would be best for everything else to fade back and away. Sagat charged, his legs pounding the canvas in a gallop. Go?s punch was swatted away, his elbow strike was caught in Sagat?s left palm and Go was delivered an unguarded straight punch to the nose from Sagat?s right hand. Go fell back in a daze. Sagat would not let him go, grabbing him by his limp arm and punching him in the gut. Go dropped to his knees, his forehead touching the canvas. His eyes looked glazed and distant. Sagat still gripped his useless arm. The crowd gasped.

Then Go shot his working arm forward and upward, two pointed fingers aiming for the fire Go desperately wanted to stamp out. Go felt Sagat’s grip suddenly release and he felt himself crash to the floor. Sagat was screaming, doubled over with his hand over his eye, blooding oozing from the gaps in his fingers. Go knew Sagat would never see out of that eye again, and the large crowd was beginning to get the picture.

Go didn’t bother to get up. He knew what was coming next. It was really how he always wanted it. Go Hibiki dreamed of dying in the ring because it was the only place where he had lived. Anywhere else he only existed, waiting for the next chance. The crowd was far away now; Go could not hear anything.

Sagat composed himself and charged, blood streaming down his young handsome face. He grabbed Go by his head and lifted him up. Then he began to savagely beat him. The crowd stared; the cheering had died and was now buried. The only sounds that could be heard were the sounds of Sagat tearing into the former champion. Go did not fight back, he was in another place. He let himself go limp and took the countless blows. He eventually began to detect more broken bones and internal bleeding. He could feel his insides oozing, his body swelling with so much pain. Then he blacked out and drifted away, now content that he had passed the torch totally. Go Hibiki eventually drifted so far he could never return. Sagat wailed on Go Hibiki for 5 minutes after he died, even then 20 men had to pull the enraged fighter off of the lifeless body that was once known as the undisputed champion. The crowd refused to utter a word; their eyes were still glued to the blood-splattered ring. Some were violently throwing up…others were sobbing.


Chapter XXI: Bygones

A group of young boys playing catch suddenly stopped and stared as a foreboding figure slowly walked down the dirt road in front of them. One boy didn?t even notice as the ball smacked him in the face, he was too transfixed on the man in the worn karate uniform, with his cold expression and his long black ponytail blowing in the wind like a war banner.

?I think I know that guy.? One of them said. He was holding the ball and did not want to throw it yet. He knew his friends would give him gruff and he?d rather argue with them while holding his ball than not.

?No you don?t! What?s his name?!?

?I don?t know him like that, but I think I?ve heard of him. They say he?s a demon?a demon of battle. He travels around looking for tough guys to beat them up. He thrashed an entire dojo a couple towns over a few days ago. He must be strong to take an entire school by himself?? The boy now tossed the ball to the right of him.

?My brother knows karate! Why doesn?t this demon fight him? I should go get him-?

?Don?t bother. They say he only fights strong opponents.?

?Hey shut up. Ok he?s gone now let?s get back to the game. I got to be home by dinner??or else?? the boy imitated his mother?s voice.


When Gouken received the mail with the Masters Corporation logo on the envelope he tossed it aside, dismissing it as unimportant. A couple days later Retsu found it and opened it. He immediately walked into the dining room were Gouken was enjoying some roasted chicken.

?Gouken did you make a promise to train this businessman from America?s son??

?What businessman from America?? Gouken was still staring at his food as he spoke, holding a piece of chicken just a couple of inches from his mouth.

?Kenny Masters of the Masters Corporation!? Sometimes Retsu was sure Gouken played dumb. It made it easier for Retsu to be annoyed. This was one of those particular instances.

?Masters? Kenny?.he never told me he was a businessman! But I met him when he was still in university though-? Gouken paused to shovel more food into his mouth.

?So I take it you met him a while ago. In Japan??

?Yeah. He was vacationing. How did he find out where I am??

?He?s rich. He says he?s thinking about sending his son to you. He wants him to have discipline and focus. Here?s the letter.?

Gouken regrettably put his food down to read the message. Kenny didn?t seem all the way committed to sending his son across the ocean to be trained. But he had remembered an offhand and intoxicated promise now clear in Gouken?s mind. Back in a smoky ex-boomtown club when Kenny Masters said:

?Gouken you?re strong let me tell you. I want my future son to be trained by you. Even if I have to send him to Japan! I don?t want my son to be a wimp. No sir.?

Gouken wrote Kenneth Masters II a letter back stating that if he was unsure about sending Ken to be trained, wait on it another year or so.


Goutetsu had received the telegram a week ago. It was a formal challenge left unsigned. Things like this no longer shook him. He had been through it too often. Either his opponent would show up or not. He?d either win or lose. But as Goutetsu thought these thoughts he knew he was oversimplifying. One thing jumped out at him?that is very possible?very likely for someone of his breed to win and lose at the same time in the same battle. But Goutetsu could easily jump back to simplification. Either his opponent was stronger than him or he (or she) wasn?t. But still this one felt different, so he told Afaik about it. In a roundabout way. He talked hypothetically about his death, about how if it happened Afaik would turn the compound into an orphanage. That made Goutetsu smile. Even though Goutetsu didn?t exactly outright say he might die today to his wife he thought she got the message.

Goutetsu sipped tea in the kitchen as his other hand fumbled with the old bead necklace his master had given him. Thoughts of the past didn?t leave him with regret, only the happiness of nostalgia. Once Goutetsu was satisfied with the tea he put his necklace back on and walked to the door.


?Yes dear??

?I?ll always love you.?

?The feeling is mutual you senile old man.?

Goutetsu walked out of the door and began to stroll down the beaten path to the woods. He felt like some meditation. Then his eye caught a figure down the road. He wore the clothes of a fighter.


Retsu opened the door, wondering what caused the weak knock. He found a little boy staring back at him. His hair was a dark brown and a little too long. He had a stern face for an adult, nevermind a child.

?I?m here to speak with Master Gouken.?

?Any business with Gouken you can tell me. My name is Retsu.?

?Well Retsu sir?my name is Dan Hibiki. I am the son of Go Hibiki. I wish to train here and become strong.?

?Oh! Well?what a strange day for us. Two new students within a couple of hours! I would also be your possible master.?

?Yes possible master Retsu.?

?Ha! You?re a funny one. But Dan Gouken is not here right now. Please leave an essay on why you should become a student here. You know, for us to look over later.? Retsu wanted to mess with the kid a little.

?Um…yes of course! Can I bring the essay back tomorrow??

?Take longer than that to write the essay! What do you think this is? Put more than one day of thought into-?

?But I?ve thought about becoming a student here longer than a day! I?ve-?

Retsu had always wondered about seeing just how badly these prospective students wanted to be trained, and why they wanted to be trained. He felt there needed to be some sort of test and that Gouken was a little too accepting. Afterall?you didn?t just want anybody.

?And what makes you think it is so easy to become a student here? Just because you are the son of Go Hibiki??

?I just wanted to see-? Retsu was satisfied with this kid so far. He didn?t need to mess with him anymore.

?Come back tomorrow and we?ll see. Same time. No promises though Dan Hibiki.?


?Gouki; what brings you back here?? Goutetsu knew the answer to his question; he was just anticipating his former student?s response.

?I have come to challenge you Goutetsu. To a fight without limits. I must know who is the absolute strongest between us.?

Goutetsu nodded as he stroked his beard.

?An ultimate contest. In the event of your death where would you like to be buried?? Goutetsu stated the question so effortlessly it sounded like he was talking about a mid day chore.

?It does not matter.?

?Fine, Afaik will take care of me if I perish.?

A breeze began to lightly blow, playing with Goutetsu?s long solitary braid and leaves on the ground. It was a dull sky, the sun felt far away and hidden. The clouds were an formless, shapeless grey ocean inching along the horizon. He heard the caw of a raven in the distance.

?So, shall we get started?? Goutetsu smiled as he unbuttoned his shirt, exposing his bare chest. It was too cold to take the shirt off completely. Goutetsu drew a deep breath as he cracked his knuckles; staring at Gouki with a concentrated gaze. He let the air out of his lungs and opened his mouth to speak.

?Feel free to attack me, I am ready.?

Gouki instantly obliged. Throwing a quick punch that Goutetsu effortlessly slapped away, followed by a flurry of punches that Goutetsu easily avoided by sharp turns or his body and head. A hop backward allow Goutetsu to dodge a sweeping horizontal chop and Goutetsu capitalized on the opportunity. A simple and direct straight punch to the face that made Gouki stagger.

?You?re going to have to fight harder than that if you plan on besting me.? Goutetsu said coldly. Gouki growled as he shot out a high side-kick that Goutetsu sprang backward to avoid. Before Goutetsu could regain his footing Gouki was upon him; kicking and punching while chasing his former master deeper into the woods. Little skirmishes. Gouki would meet Goutetsu, they would exchange a few attacks then Goutetsu would spring backwards and Gouki would rush after him. Gouki knew he was being lead somewhere but did not care. Let the old man have his fun.

Tall, old trees now surrounded the two fighters as Gouki hacked furiously at Goutetsu to no result. Goutetsu suddenly stopped bouncing backward, deflected a roundhouse and viciously punched Gouki in the chest, knocking him off the ground and crashing into a tree. The force shook leaves from the ancient branches, the free leaves floating around Gouki?s slumped body, his back against the base of the trunk.

?You?re not strong enough yet Gouki. Perhaps you should just walk away to train. To get stronger to fight another day.?

Gouki chuckled as he lifted his head; an odd smile on his face.

?You know nothing of my strength Goutetsu. I am not the boy that left your care years ago. The longer we fight, the closer you are to your defeat.?

Goutetsu closed his eyes as the sneer from his reckless youth showed itself.

?Then get up and prove it. Because right now I think you are all talk.?

As if he were more than human, Gouki rocketed forward and punched Goutetsu square in the jaw, rocking his head backward and making him stagger a few steps. Goutetsu recovered in a flash to catch Gouki?s wrist. Gouki pulled back the outstretched limb and attacked with a spinning back kick that Goutetsu avoided. Before Goutetsu could respond a gou-hadoken burrowed into his chest, dragging his body several feet but still he stood. Gouki sprang high into the air and fired off another gou-hadoken. Goutetsu swatted away the ki blast, it smashing into a nearby tree, destroying the base of the trunk.

Before the remains of the tree could crash to the ground Goutetsu and Gouki were trading blows again, their faces blank. Gouki attempted a vicious roundhouse, Goutetsu ducked the kick and Gouki?s attack tore off a piece of a trunk.

Goutetsu responded with a gou-shoryuken that sent Gouki sailing into the air; then crashing to the ground with a hard thud. Goutetsu straightened his posture and folded his arms as his once student groaned to his feet.

?Gouki. Why did you challenge me? You are strong, but not strong enough.?

?I came here to kill you or die trying Goutetsu. You?and what you represent are old relics of our art that need to be smashed and swept away.?

?And what have you contributed to Ansatsuken Gouki? What have you added to our style that renders me obsolete??

?I will show you. I will show you what you kept from me, hid from me! The secret to great power.? Gouki clenched his fists as he shouted. Gouki began to turn inward, letting his anger boil. He had found satsui no hado for himself and he believed it to be the method to become stronger. He opened the gates and funneled every thought of malice, pain and humiliation into his desire for strength; and it began to bring his uninhibited power to the forefront.

Goutetsu noticed a visible purple aura surround Gouki, it seemed to breathe the way it moved; it was as if Gouki?s anger and will for power had possessed his body.

?Satsui no hado?that is your secret? Becoming a beserker?! I?m insulted. Gouki you are a brat. Gouken was always stronger than you and it drove you insane. You could never be satisfied with your own power, always comparing yourself to others. Gouki you are a fool, I will do what I can to show you how weak you truly are.? Goutetsu?s facial expression was now hard as stone as he took stance.

?Goutetsu! I AM stronger than you! I will break you and him! I will show you both!!?

Gouki rocketed forward with a fire burning in his eyes. He drop-kicked Goutetsu into a tree. Before Goutetsu could regain his wits Gouki was right in front of him, punching him across his head, maing his head rock from side to side. In between an attack Goutetsu delivered a fierce uppercut followed by a gou-shoryuken. Gouki flew back but Goutetsu caught up with him to bury his fist into Gouki?s chest; sending him sailing even farther. Goutetsu dashed after Gouki to finally strike with a brutal flying kick that spiked Gouki to the ground in a cloud of dust. Gouki did not move as Goutetsu walked over to him. He did not move as Goutetsu folded his arms 6 feet away from him. Goutetsu looked up at the sky again. This time he could see the sun, and it looked like just a yellow ball.

Goutetsu launched a gou-hadoken at the still Gouki. Gouki leapt to one knee and rolled out of the way. As the ki ball struck a tree trunk Gouki nailed Goutetsu with a gou shoryuken. Goutetsu composed himself in the air and landed on his feet 10 feet away from Gouki.

?You are stronger than when you left. But you are a fool to think you were that much stronger.? Goutetsu spat on the ground, then noted to himself that there was still more blood in his mouth. He swallowed it.

?Almost everything. But as you said once?..our art is an evolving art.? The purple aura around Gouki was now a thin glow off his flesh. Goutetsu ran up to Gouki and faked a punch with his left hand. As Goutestu went to to punch with his right he ate an elbowstrike that dropped him to his knee. On one knee Goutetsu blocked a kick attempt and guarded against a gou hadoken that made him stumble backwards after it connected. Gouki let Goutetsu stand to his feet. Gouki let Goutetsu compose himseld and return to stance. Then he pounced again, and straight punch that Goutetsu slapped away was followed by a jumping front kick that connected. Goutetsu then slapped away two more front kicks, deflected 5 more punches and avoided another horizontal chop to be caught by the spinning elbow that made made his arms go limp. Gouki fired another gou hadoken; this one was so powerful all the purple flash from the attack made him shield his own eyes. He jumped backward and stood there. He knew parts of him ached in pain but at the moment it did not register to him as significant. The throbbing he only found annoying.

Out of the trees shot a white gou-hadoken, Gouki went to slap it away but it overpowered him in an instant. It slammed into his body in a brilliant flash and then Gouki was on the ground 15 feet back. Gouki at once calmly rose to his feet. He took stance.

Goutetsu rocketed forward. Gouki clenched his fists and did not move, waiting for him. Goutetsu stopped a couple inches from Gouki and ducked under a roundhouse kick. Goutetsu dodged a straight punch and punched Gouki once across the jaw and delivered three more punches to his body while Gouki staggered. Goutetsu charged to continue but Gouki recovered to lash out with a sidekick. Goutetsu caught his leg with both hands and threw him to the ground a few feet away. Gouki launched a gou hadoken from the ground, it was a fast and desparate purple fireball that kicked up dust as it sped towards Goutetsu. Goutetsu launched a white ball of ki himself that shattered Gouki?s ki attack and Goutetsu?s within a foot of Goutetsu?s body.

?This will end soon.? Goutetsu thought as Gouki charged at him. When they met they began fighting furiously, exchanging blows like berserkers. Goutetsu ignored the pain from blows inflicted on him and Gouki just did not feel them enough. Gouki elbowed Goutetsu across the face, knocking his back against a tree trunk. Gouki wasted no time, pouncing on Goutetsu punching feverishly while Goutetsu held up a resilient guard stance. There would be the perfect moment to counteract; Goutetsu knew he would see it when it presented itself. As Gouki attacked the tree trunk behind Goutetsu began to splinter and crack. Disturbed leaves rained down upon the both of them.

As Gouki stepped back to charge a powerful ki attack Goutetsu took his opportunity, the heel of his foot knocking Gouki?s chin and body upward. A well placed jumping high kick. As Gouki fell Goutetsu fired a gou hadoken that slammed into Gouki?s falling body with tremendous force, knocking him through the last wall of trees. Gouki flew totally out of the woods and he came crashing down into a field clearing. Goutetsu wiped blood from his mouth as he walked over to Gouki?s currently motionless body.

He stood over his former student, his usually warm face devoid of emotion and his hands behind his back.

?Rise to your feet.?

Gouki attempted a sweep but Goutetsu casually avoided it. Gouki leapt up and attempted a punch but Goutetsu caught his fist and punched him so hard in the face it would have shattered the average man?s jaw. Gouki fell to one knee, his head low spitting blood.

?You?re only helping me??

Gouki looked at Goutetsu, smiling with blood oozing through his teeth. Gouki shot up and kneed Goutetsu in the ribs; breaking one. Goutetsu elbowed Gouki in the temple and jumped back, holding his side with the opposite arm. Gouki didn?t chase after him, only straightened his posture and folded his arms, his face painted in anticipation. His eyes wide and wild. The aura around Gouki began to change; it was like purple mist rose from his body.

Goutetsu slowly shifted back into fighting stance, his face staunch.

?Well Gouki?go ahead and show me.?

A second later both men sprang into the air and clashed with each other; exchanging blows for a fraction of a second before landing on the ground. Gouki did not waste time; he lunged for Goutetsu the moment the ball of his foot touched the grass. For both fighters time began to expand. Gouki cocked back his fist and fired off a straight punch that Goutetsu defended against by putting his forearms close to his chest in the shape of an ?x?. Goutetsu tried a quick roundhouse but Gouki caught his leg and began to flip him. A hard chop to Gouki?s shoulder foiled the attempt and in response Goutetsu received a backfist across the face. Gouki then tried a gou hadoken at brutally close range. With a well placed kick to Gouki?s outstretched arms the ki blast?s trajectory was thrown off, it whizzed past the target and into the woods behind them both. Goutetsu then grabbed Gouki by his arm and flipped him forcefully away. Gouki did a quick recovery in mid-air and landed on his feet. The entire exchange lasted only 4 seconds.

Gouki suddenly turned and dashed forward, running as if he knew where he was going. Goutetsu followed, firing gou hadokens along the way but missing everytime. They ran for several minutes until Gouki suddenly stopped and turned back around to fire a gou hadoken of his own. Goutetsu slapped the attack away without breaking his sprint so he could jump up and drop kick Gouki so hard he flew 30 feet back before slamming against a rock wall.

As Gouki got up his mind caught hold of something: the sound of rushing water.

?You remember this place. It is where you and your brother first learned how to properly meditate.? Goutetsu?s voice had a hint of his old warmth to it.

?Fitting that I prove my superiority to you here.? Gouki said emotionlessly.

Goutetsu looked down at the hand that deflected Gouki?s ki. It throbbed and burned. Gouki had changed. His blows felt like his fists and feet were coated in acid. He was different now. He was a vessel for the killing intent and it flowed though him like an endless steady stream. Goutetsu wondered if perhaps Gouki had mastered the mode of being, seeing as how he is able to stay in it for so long without burning out. His ki had a deep purple color to it and it rose from his body like smoke from a bonfire or like saliva dripping from a hungry predator?s open jaws. Goutetsu remembered that Gouken?s ki now had a blue hue to it. Gouken too had changed. He had conquered satsui no hado within himself while Gouki embraced it. He knew in his heart one day the two brothers would clash violently. But for now Goutetsu was staring at Gouki, and he was wondering just how much longer this fight would last. Goutetsu silenced his inner thoughts by drawing in a deep breath. He cleared his mind and let the air out. He then charged, a moderate jog to conserve strength towards his opponent. Gouki dashed forward, water splashing around him as his footsteps stabbed though the ankle high water.

Gouki stopped bothering to guard against his opponent?s attacks and barely made an effort to avoid them now. He felt no pain from them; his only mission was to draw more of his former master?s blood. Goutetsu was putting everything he had into the fight but for every blow he connected to Gouki he received five. This continued for minutes until Gouki landed a punch to Goutetsu?s stomach that jolted Goutetsu?s whole body and made him scream in blood. A second later an elbow crashed down unto the top of Goutetsu?s head that made him collapse into the water face first. Gouki picked up Goutetsu?s limp body and stared at it, focusing his power for a technique he had been waiting to perform for too long in his mind.

?The famed shun goku shatsu?heh?it won?t work on me son?? Goutetsu?s voice was weak, a pained whisper.

Gouki paused, his grip on Goutetsu?s wet shirt slackened.

?My conscience is clear of guilt?of shame?fear. It won?t work on me?I have no demons you can turn against me?so stop with the parlor tricks and kill me like a man!?

Goutetsu?s voice gained strength again as he broke Gouki?s hold on him and knocked him away with a messatsu gou hado. Gouki sailed backwards and crashed into the water as Goutetsu returned to his feet. The old master turned his back on his opponent as he began to limp away, choosing the place for his last stand.

A few minutes away he was there. A clearing with a sheer cliff just 15 feet away. It was his favorite place in the whole world. Goutetsu looked out at the sun and sky for a brief moment before turning around to find Gouki 10 feet away from him.

?It has been a good fight Gouki. You are very strong. But you?ve never been a weakling. It is such a shame you cannot see that.? Goutetsu smiled.

?Just promise me that you will pass down what you know someday. That is all I wish. I do not mind dying as long as it is in battle with a worthy adversary and the teachings of our great art continue. Now?? Goutetsu spat blood on the ground and slid into fighting stance one last time.

?Let us finish.?

Goutetsu?s blows were few but the strongest Gouki had ever felt. Gouki knew Goutetsu wanted to make him remember how his fists felt. Gouki felt honored to engage in this last battle and he fought like it. Clean, precise devastating attacks that prepared Goutetsu for the great beyond. The two fought like this for only a few moments, edging closer to the cliff. Finally Gouki knocked Goutetsu to his knees and Goutetsu did not rise to his feet again.

Goutetsu slowly reached for the bead necklace on him and tossed it to the ground before Gouki.

?It is done. You have proved yourself. Now…do it.?

Gouki hesitated.

?DO IT!!?

A powerful messatsu gou hado erupted from Gouki?s palms and slammed into Goutetsu, engulfing him in purple flame. The ball of purple flame leapt off the edge of the cliff and tumbled down until it could no longer be seen. The cliff was still as Gouki stood in silence, unable to formulate thoughts or words. He silently picked up the worn and bloody bead necklace and placed it over his head. A condor sailed above him in the deep grey sky.



Chapter XXII: At Rest

Gouken I have some bad news. Retsu stepped through the doorway to the kitchen and stood. He was wringing his hands and searching Goukens face. Gouken was seated at the table having lunch. Ryu had finished his lunch and was outside.

Goutetsu is dead.

Howdid you-

Everyone else I care about is already here. From the way you approached me I could tell it was something serious.

Well, Im almost relieved. Retsu exhaled deeply. Gouken managed a weak smile.

He was found deep in the woods, he was pretty beaten up and not from the fall off the cliff. Retsu wondered if he was being to blunt with the details just after he finished speaking.

So he was in a fight. Against someone skilled. Gouken took a sip of his tea and tapped the table with his fingers. He was pretending to take this well excellently.

You think it was Gouki? Retsu stated his question carefully and slowly, in all the years he had known Gouken his brother was always a soft spot. Gouken would sometimes go on long monologes about Gouki, reminiscing and sometimes complaining. But those times were rare, only a few times a year. When Gouken was not venting about Gouki he did not mention him at all.

Im pretty sure it was. GoukiI havent seen him in so long. I fear what he has become left to himself.

We should go find him and talk with him. Fight him if it comes to it. He might have murdered your master

Gouken sat his tea down and stood up straight.

First, Goutetsu was no fool. Those kinds of people just dont die by happenstance. He let it get that far and accepted the consequences; it was no murder. I guess he felt his job was done. I just wish he told me before Gouken trailed off as he sat back down. His faade of calmness was beginning to unravel. His eyes quivered as he took another sip of tea.

It that how we are supposed to die? It just doesnt seem

Fair? Retsu couldnt think of a better word than that.

That word doesnt quite fit. I mean life isnt fair.but who decides when it is kill or be killed and when it is just a match? Do we have to kill each other? Gouken stared at the floor and let his cup of tea sit on the table, his hands in his lap.

I dont know Gouken. But I know it is the fighters in the fight that decide just what is at stake. Some realize completely what they are bettingand others do not. Retsu did not know what else to say but was satisfied in his answer. He stroked his bald head and looked out the window.

Yes…at least Goutetsu knew. I dont know about Gouki.

What are you going to do about Gouki? Will you challenge-

We have students to train, we cant waste time chasing Gouki around. If he wants us, he will find us. If he wants me, he will find me. I am not hiding and we will go from there. Goukens voice had regained some confidence and stability.

We only have one student so far Gouken.

Tell Dan hes hired. Ken will be here in time also. This summer.

So youve decided.


His hands still smelled of blood. Even now, well after the battle had ended. How long had it been since the battle? It had been close to a week since then.

Gouki had defeated his master. A duel that Gouki emerged the victor. Gouki felt like he was missing an emotion concerning the fight. Shouldnt he feel like he had achieved something? Instead he was focused on what was next. What more was there to be done? Which direction to go in next?

Gouki sat cross-legged on a hill, overlooking a barley field.

How could he get stronger?



Yes Master Retsu?

On this sunny day such strong winds seemed slightly out of place. It made the grass sway in rhythm to the branches and leaves on the trees. Dan and Retsu stood amongst all this, warming up. Ryu and Gouken were off somewhere training.

Im different than Gouken. Hed probably just start you off learning his punches and kicks. Or maybe throw you into a river. Retsu chuckled, Dan fought an urge to shiver.

Your first lesson from me will be from combat. I want you to develop good instincts, so I will break you down a bit. Then Goutetsu and I will build you back up. Do you know how to fight Dan Hibiki?

I know a little. My father-

I know about your father. So you know a little Muay Thai huh? Retsu paced in a circle while rubbing his neck with his left hand, his right arm bent and his right hand on his waist.

Well give me everything, anything you have. After all youre just a kid.

Retsus shirt dropped to the ground in such a way that it looked beautiful, focused and routine. Dan swallowed hard and brought his clenched fists up to just below his eyes.

Retsu began to crack his feet and stretch.

Lets get started.

The wind weakly swept around both of them.


Alright young lad. Your father wants me to train you and I agreed of course. From now on you will refer to me as master, or teacher, or sensi or Mr. Gouken or whatever. Understand Ken?

Yes Mister Gou-master! Thank you for accepting me as your student! Kens eyes were happy as he smiled. His hair was a sand colored mop that was nearing the point of obscuring his vision. His hair stopped with his ears. He had finished unpacking a few hours ago and after the tour, after the meal and a change of clothes here he was. He wore a white gi. Goukens particular outfit used to be white years ago but was now an even cream. When Ken looked at Gouken in his gi he wanted to tear the sleeves off of his own. But Ken resolved to himself that it could wait until he had bigger muscles.

It isnt a problem. I see a lot of potential in you. Now dont worry the training will start later. You can go play. In fact I want you to meet your new friend Ive been talking about. His name is Ryu. Hes off practicing Im sure.

Ken ran off as soon as Gouken finished his sentence. A few minutes later he found the young boy attempting to meditate. Ryu sat on the ground in the shade of a large boulder. The boulder was strange, there were no more around the gathering of trees and bushes as far as Ken or Ryu could see. As Ken approached the boulder he looked up and around, and was reminded how much he loved the way a forest plays with the suns light.

Hey! So youre Ryu?

The boy opened one eye and looked at the young boy with blonde hair. Ken didnt lean over and Ryu did not rise.


My name is Ken Masters. I hope youre humble because if youre not its going to be a rough time adjusting to always being in second place to me.

Ryu closed his eye and went back to meditating.


Form is very important. You have to have good form with your attacks and defenses and practice with correct form in mind. Get your body used to the most effective method. So at a moments notice

Gouken suddenly sprang high into the air, fired a blue hadoken into the distance, did some quick punches and kicks in mid-air and landed perfectly back on the ground.

At a moments notice you are ready. Not ready to be beaten into a pulp but ready to be effective.

The sun was high in the sky, drawing sweat from human skin and making dogs lazy. On a day like this water tastes extraordinarily good and a late nap was treasured. Especially for the three students standing side by side deep in instruction from Gouken.

Ryu wondered why he wasnt worried, anxious or exhausted. He was in heaven. He was learning how to become a fighter, a disciple, and more of a complete person hopefully. He felt satisfied in what he was currently doing, listening to his teacher.

Ken felt an essence of goodness. He felt he was on his way to something worth working hard for. He wondered if all of Master Goukens speeches were this good.

Dans eyes were shimmering with amazement, his mouth half open and half cocked in a sneer. He wondered why Retsu has yet to throw balls of energy.

Let me ask you young ones something.

The students thoughts immediately ceased and all that remained was attentive anticipation.

What do you three think is the ultimate achievement for a martial artist?

When you have the strength and skill to defeat any opponent that challenges you. Said Ken, grinning with and for his answer.

Is that all Ken?

I believe so Master Gouken.

Gouken still wasnt quite used to being called master but he figured with time he could get comfortable with the title.

Let me tell you why your answer is dangerous first.

Ken winced on the inside, expecting to get scolded.

Power is not just evident when it is used against enemies. Remember this, the truly powerful do not need to demonstrate their strength. People already know.

Also, it is foolish to think you can defeat all challengers. There will always be someone that can defeat you. Whether by pure strength or other means. To aspire to be saythe strongest person in the world is dangerous because a lust for power can consume you. It can consume because you are validating yourself against others. Are you following me boys?

They both nodded simultaneously. Gouken stroked his beard.

And if you only determine your worth against others you will be hard pressed to be at peace. Wow, I sound like my master. Anyway, the best goal you can set is to be the best you can be for yourself and no one else.

What about protecting things you care about Master? Protecting peopleweaker than you. People that need help againstI dont know. Bad guys. Ryus eyes drifted towards the surroundings as he trailed off, but once he was finished his gaze shifted back to Gouken for his response. He found Gouken grinning.

That is also a great one! Wanting to be powerful to be better prepared to protect.that is an excellent answer. I take back one thing I said earlier. I really cant say what is the best goal. There are so many different good ones.

How do you know which one is a good one and which one is a bad one?! Dan suddenly blurted out. He quickly covered his mouth out of reflex.

Wisdom Dan Hibki. Gouken figured he probably sounded vague to Dan, but the answer would do.

Master…I dont mean to be rude-

Ken go on. Well all know if youre being rude.

Okbut isnt competition fuel for improvement? I meanwith a strong rivalry dont both sides have more of a reason to get better?

In most cases yes. Just one needs to be careful to keep the rivalry healthy. Anyway what was I talking about? Gouken scratched his back while he absent mindedly looked up at the sky.

The ultimate goal of a martial artist master.

Thank you. The ultimate goal for any martial artist is to one day never have to fight bloody battles filled with malice. To stop killing and destroying and instead inspire and create. That is the highest level I think. It is the highest level for me. But you wont get there until youre an old man, if you get there at all. But isnt it worth striving for? Gouken smiled to himself and for his students. The students nodded.

Alright Im done talking for now. Im going back home. Dan come with me, Retsu would like to practice with you one more time today.

Gouken started walking back towards the house, with Dan trailing behind him. Ryu and Ken stood unmoving.

Ken leaned in to whisper to Ryu:

The ultimate goal for a fighter is to not fight?! Do you believe that mumbo jumbo?!

Yes, I think I do. Ryu smiled a quiet smile. Ken shot him a funny look.

Do you want to practive movements?


Like youre ever going to use them with that attitude.

Once Ryu and Ken walked through the front door hours later they began to feel more at ease. The table was set, everyones food was on a plate with a cup of green tea beside it.

Thank Retsu for cooking. Gouken said from his seat. Dan then emerged from a back room, slightly limping and holding a bloody ball of napkins to his nose, looking tired and slightly angry.

What happened to Dan? Ken asked.

He sparred with me. He did very well. Hes tough, he did not give up. Said Retsu as he sat down.

Maybe he should have! Ken pantomimed a club drummers joke rim shot.

Yeah yeah. Give me a couple of days and youll be looking like I am now. Dan murmured with his napkin pile under his nose.

Boys. Youve got a little before sundown to do whatever you want. But when the sky starts to turn a deep orange come find me. Gouken never wore a watch.

Umwhat time would that be about master? Ken couldnt imagine being as old as Gouken was and still barely acquainted with the always present clock.

Lets say 7:45. Retsu added then picked up his cup of tea and comfortable exited the kitchen.


Gouki wandered around the alien landscape, curious and satisfied. He happened upon it when his small boat went off course hours ago, and something told him to get out and investigate.

The ground looked like it had always known struggle and upheaval. There were patches where grass fought and succeeded to a degree of a good space where a team of men could all lay down and be comfortable.

The other areas of ground had small, bumblebee sized gravel that was loose the first inch, but underneath was firm and eternal. A greater part of the island was littered with sculptures and carvings. Some appeared to be gravestones, other religious and yet more that Gouki could not decipher any idea what they were for, did or who made them. The entire island felt slightly colder to the senses than the average piece of land. And the fact that Gouki had seen no marks of recent human activity and very little animal life seemed to confirm his suspicions.

On higher elevation the ground was craggy and rough. Some pebbles had edges so sharp they could draw blood. This island was untamable.

Gouki felt like this environment suited him. His ever ready reflexes relaxed here and the rolling boiling of his spirit slackened to a simmer. Yet he didnt feel weaker, actually he felt like could be a better fighter here, like a relaxed Gouki could easily channel most of his strength with little more than a thought.

This island would suit him well. This island of shadows, elusive and forebodingGoutentou island.would be home.


Afaik knew already when she was told, and she did what she had to do. She identified the body, had a nice funeral and buried him on a nice spot with a dignified headstone that read (beside the obvious) at rest. She thinks he would have liked it.

Next she opened her orphanage that also became a bed and breakfast. Afaik was happy when others were happy, and she dealt with everyone with a genuine interest and love. She always thought of Goutetsu, but not with sadness. She thought of the memories with fondness, she thought of Goutetsu and would smile. She was confident Goutetsu was happy and somehow they would cross paths again. Friends and loved ones always do.


Chapter XXIII: Oyaji

Once again we move forward a handful of seasons. They can move quickly and effortlessly if one is in a secure and comfortable position, if one is at least partially content with life. Such are the feelings of the three students and their two teachers. Years have passed, and now we find Ryu at 15, Ken at 15 and Dan at 19. Gouken is 38 and Gouki 35. Retsu is 36.


The final match of the tournament; Ryu was proud that he had made it this far. Gouken didn?t seem surprised. Now winning the entire competition seemed possible.

Ryu fought by the book in this decent sized tournament, approaching each fight as a series of actions that either determined victory or defeat. He struck accurate and efficient blows; but of course not everything went exactly as Ryu planned, it was still combat. He caught elbows to the head and kicks in the chest so deep they burned not with pain, but with an overwhelming numbness. But nothing defeated him yet. Now he stood on the brink of significant victory.

The tournament was invite only, underground and you only got in if you knew what was going on. It took the organizers some convincing to let Ryu even enter, they feared for the young man?s safety.

The two last fighters stood in the center of a garden. The garden was a part of an old compound built for a noble family, but now belonging to organized crime as a place to host events like these as discreetly as possible. The night sky was in full bloom but the crowd was still around; only by now the sake had made the spectators rowdy, slightly reckless and most of all entranced by the fights.

Ryu?s opponent had very little steam left. Every time he was knocked down he came to his feet slower than the previous time. His stance had grown sloppy and his eyes were drained. Some of the spectators had labeled him a fool who didn?t know when to quit and others saw a glimpse of the determined, fearless but disadvantaged warrior that is praised across cultures and history. Sometimes even when they end up losing.

Ryu saw one last, well placed blow, one that would end the match for certain and little else. Ryu did not want to injure him, only to defeat him.

Yen notes sailed through the air as last minute bets flew from the mouths of the mob. Something was going to happen soon, but for now neither fighter engaged one another.

?Come on! You?re not statues! Fight already!? One man shouted, waving a slip of paper in the air.

Ryu watched as his opponent steeled himself, mustered some last bits of strength for the last round. Ryu already knew what to do; he had a plan. A simple kick to the chest would drop him. His kick would easily break the weak guard. With that, Ryu?s final opponent would fall.

Ryu watched in stance as his opponent began to sag to the side, but it was only for a fraction of a second, enough to spring toward Ryu in a last burst of adrenaline.

His opponent was faster than usual, enough to close the optimum distance of a front kick before Ryu could notice. Ryu then caught a fist to the face strong enough to make him crazily stroll backward. Ryu tasted fresh blood in his mouth, the mix of metal and salt that conjured a handful of feelings.

Ryu stared at his opponent?s face. He barely stood, his torso hunched over and his mouth hung loose. But his fists stood defiant of the rest of his body, clenched tight. Ryu focused into his opponent?s fierce eyes, and in a flash they became a mirror. He saw himself. Ryu realized that his opponent was giving everything he had, pulling from the corners of his spirit and body just to keep fighting. The same thing Ryu would do in the situation.

The match ended softly but quickly, with a few skirmishes followed by Ryu?s opponent crashing to the ground from a wobbly fighting stance and not returning to his feet. While Ryu was declared the winner his mind drifted elsewhere. Ryu could tell he had had just grown. Ryu felt like he had just caught himself learning. From that moment on Ryu?s love for the fight grew in scope and density. Ryu now had a new level of respect for all fighters, and for combat in general. The elaborate Darwinian dance, the fight would go on forever, and Ryu wanted to spend as much time as he could, to be strong enough?worthy enough to commune with such elementary tests of the spirit and body. He no longer wanted to be the best and he no longer feared being the worst. He felt there was so much else that mattered more.


The cicadas, crickets and other creatures of the woods always seemed to make the perfect background music. It relaxed Gouken as he sat on the porch with his old friend Retsu. Drinking, talking and enjoying the night.

?They?ve all grown in so many ways, our students.?

?Yes. Ryu showed much promise even when he first arrived. We both could see it and that is rare. You seem to see limitless potential in everyone.?

?Well, really doesn?t everyone have limitless potential??

?Yeah, but some people have more potential than others realistically. Some people are just stronger than others. Wait-? Retsu paused abruptly, as if he just understood that a joke was being played on him.

?Remind me why we always seem to talk about the same subjects through the years??

?Because we discuss a lot of things, we are going to repeat ourselves eventually.?

?I don?t want to just ease into senility Gouken.?


?Man?Master Gouken is kinda weird. I can?t be the only one that sees it.?

Ken stared at the wooden dummy he was practicing on as he spoke. Ryu was 15 feet away, motionless in his horse stance. Dan was 20 feet away from the both of them, kicking and punching the air while shouting exclamations and taunts to no one. Autumn would not be ignored.

?Why is he weird? Because he didn?t shower his disciples with compliments and gifts? You won a stupid tournament…big deal!?

?You?re only saying that because you didn?t win anything Hibiki. In fact you haven?t entered a tournament in three years.?

?You idiot! I want to perfect my devastating techniques before I reveal them to the world!?

Fall was preparing for it?s debut. The merciless heat was making its exit, chilly winds and colored leaves were floating in again. The seasons had all the time in the world after all.

?Ryu and me winning gave Master Gouken and Retsu some more credibility. We added to their good reputation. As my Dad would say?they got good press.?

?It isn?t about that though.? Ryu?s mouth was the only thing that moved.

?Still?it is good.? Ken put extra emphasis on the word ?good?.

?I don?t think either of them care that much about good press.?

?Well what do they care about Ryu?? Dan questioned. He had stopped attacking the air and was now next to Ryu and Ken standing with his arms crossed in front of him.

?They care about us improving as human beings.?

?So they care about us getting stronger?? Ken diverted the conversation to his point a couple steps ahead.

?Yes, they do.?

?Better fighters.? Dan added. Ryu moved out of his horse stance and was now standing next to Dan, wondering what Ken was getting at.

?Then to be better fighters we need to fight them. We need to spar with them more! I mean we are champions now eh? Most of what?s out there isn?t good enough anymore.?

?We need to intensify our training! I must perfect my deadly combinations!? Dan?s eyes were skyward, with clenched fists.

?Well?you ask.?

?Let?s go right now. Come on Dan.?



Gouken took in a lungful of air, squatted and fidgeted until he was comfortable sitting Indian style. He slowly exhaled, the air making the choir of candles flicker around the modest, windowless room.

He had never attempted this before, to communicate with someone else?to have a conversation on another plane. Years ago Goutetsu mentioned that he had done it several times. As he slipped into meditation, as the world withdrew he could reach back and witness the moment, as if he were 15 again. The familiar woods, the fallen log Gouken and his master were sitting on.

?It is like concentrating on sending a spiritual beacon, if your spirit is strong enough people that know the way halfway around the world can notice it. At the same time you are reaching far for the beacon you want. It is very taxing?but obviously worth it.?

Gouken followed his master?s instructions, going on instinct. He pictured little flames, some violently flickering, some small and dim, some bright and calm. Little flames across untold distances.

?Hello Gouken?I?m glad we had that conversation years ago.?

Gouken opened his spiritual eyes to find himself in the same woods from decades ago, but in his very adult and current body?with a slight pot belly intact.

?Master? But you?re-?

?I know! I was given a gift, a little more time to with foot in the living world.?

?By who? What do you-?

?I don?t know who gave it to me, I just awoke with the knowledge of it. No I don?t have a body. Most of the time I just do what I think I?m supposed to, observe and appear to those with the desire and skill to contact me.?

?The forces over us must have rewarded you for your character and earthly work! How are you? How does it feel to be dead?!?

?Very freeing. But Gouken I?m not the one you should be talking to.? Goutetsu paused after he spoke this time and Gouken nodded slowly.

?Can you connect me to him??


?Can I speak with you more before??

?Of course. But don?t expect me to reveal much of anything to you. My role is different now?I exited the stage.?

?With all due respect Master Gouken, of course your role is different. You?re dead! You?ve been dead for 7 years.?

?I keep forgetting it has been that long. A year over there is like a day here.?

?Have you seen my students??

?Of course. Your take on our art is less primal to me at the core. Yet it still works because your students are strong, and they are taught well.?

?Even Dan??

?Dan is more Retsu?s student am I correct??

?Yes but-?

?Yes he has potential. But his spirit isn?t in the right place yet to fully unlock them.?

?Good. Ryu hasn?t completely conquered Satsui No Hadou has he??

?Even within you it still lurks. It is small and weak because you do not channel or feed it. No it will never go away totally.?

Gouken frowned, Goutetsu chuckled. It reminded the master of Gouken when he was much younger, grimacing at the amount of work Goutetsu had requested from him day after day.

?I?m going to let you two converse in private now. Do you have a last question??

?How do you feel about Gouki?your student and my brother?taking your life??

?I?m proud of him. I don?t mean to boast, but I wasn?t an easy person to defeat.?

?But he didn?t have to kill you.?

?It was a formal challenge Gouken. As serious as they can get. If he had not killed me I would have killed him. It must sound repulsive to you, but that is how it is in some moments. You are trying to remove the killing intent for future generations?..that is admirable. But some people who are used to the old ways?know only that??

?And it is hard to change.?

Goutetsu nodded, and looked at Gouken. He held his gaze until he casually and soundlessly faded away.

?Farewell Master.?


Gouken turned around to find Gouki squatting on the ground propped against a rock, his arms resting on his folded legs with his back slightly arched away from the rock. He looked cast in shadows. The purple aura around Gouki?s form was a razor thin line around his entire body.

?Gouki. It has been too long.? Gouken searched for a hint of warmth from his brother, but he could only discern Gouki?s guarded exterior, with the face of a diplomat.

?I hear you have gotten a lot stronger through Satsui No Hadou.?

?Yes. I hear you have turned your back on it, and taught your students a weaker version of our art.?

?I made a choice. I am better for it. So what you will, but my students are not weak at all. They constantly surprise me with their skill and strength.?

?They are not as strong as they could be.?

?You haven?t even met them.?

?I don?t need to. A weak master makes weak students.?

?If I remember correctly, you were the weak one Gouki. Not me.? Gouken watched as Gouki?s aura thickened considerably and began to slowly pulse. Gouken said nothing more; he wanted to hear what his brother said next first. Gouki however waited before he spoke.

?You are in a zoo, while I am in the jungle. I am more powerful than you are now, and I think I have been for years. I only continue to grow more powerful while you weaken.?

?You fool!?

The pause in conversation after his response lasted a little too long for Gouken.

?You want to fight don?t you? Like the agreement you and Goutetsu fought under??



?When you tell me you are ready to die. When you are able to fight as nothing else mattered.?

?I want to guide my students just a little more. A few more years. Then I can give you the fight you want.?

?Fine. I will be awaiting that day. I hope you will be prepared??

?Don?t disappoint me Gouki.?

Gouki?s form began to flicker as his words carried more of an echo.

?Goodbye for now, brother.?

Gouken sat alone in the woods of his mind for a few more thoughts, then surfaced to find himself back in the same candlelit room he sat down in. He noticed the sound of footsteps drawing closer outside the door. Gouken found himself breathing in deep and quickly, his mouth opening and closing and in time to his chest expanding and retracting. Gouken noticed sweat on his chin forming a droplet, about to fall off to the floor.

?Did it work?? Retsu spoke through the closed door.

?Yes. I even met Goutetsu.?

?Very interesting, how do you feel? Do you still want to spar with all of us??

?Yes. Can you warm up with them first? I need a moment.?

?We?ll start in 10 minutes.? Of course Retsu knew Gouken never wore a watch and ignored clocks, but he liked to give a number. He knew whenever Gouken emerged would be soon enough. With that, Retsu?s footsteps were heard strolling away from the door and out to the students.

Gouken wondered what went wrong, if anything was wrong at all. Was this the part he was supposed to play?


Gouken stepped outside to find a circle carved into the dusty ground, seemingly with a large tree branch. It was 40 feet in diameter. Inside was, well everyone. It was Retsu versus the students.

Gouken tossed his shirt off and re-tied his belt while walking, his grin getting bigger and bigger. A wall of white teeth poking out of a grizzly black beard.

?We?re getting warmed up master. I?m ready for you though.?

Gouken chuckled in a way that not coming from him would sound disrespectful and arrogant, but the laugh from Gouken felt playful but still retained the slightly mocking undertone.

?I?m going to hold back less from here on out. Just letting you know. I feel I must quicken the pace.? Gouken hopped backward into stance, bouncing on the balls of his feet.

The students replied by getting into stance. The sky was beginning to turn orange; how much time would they have before nightfall?

Gouken stopped beside Retsu and quickly stretched, still grinning.

?Don?t kill em.? Retsu winked.


Chapter XXIV: The World Warrior

These years were kind to the ambient mixture of souls at Sujyaku. They all usually ate together at breakfast and dinner. Lunch was very casual, served outside often. They found peace in chores and intensity on the sparring grounds. Now we find Ryu at 19, Ken at 19 and Dan at 23. Gouken is 42 and Gouki 39. Retsu is 40.

  • Japan

The chilly air of autumn was fresh as Ryu paused to inhale a lungful. As he turned his eyes back downward and continued his unrushed raking the air seemed a bit spicy and earthy in his nostrils. Leaves skittered across the damp ground in the heavy breeze.

?I want to be sent to the Street Fighter tournament with Ryu.? Dan had stopped raking to make his declaration as the late afternoon sky was beginning to darken. Gouken and Retsu wanted the porch and what was in front of it cleared of multicolored leaves. Ken, Ryu and Dan were trusted with the task.

?To get eliminated in the first round where?s the fun in that?? Ken muttered with his head down focused on the relaxing chore. Retsu was 30 feet away from the three of them squatting cross legged. He was facing them but his eyes were closed.

?I want to go to the Street Fighter tournament! I want that other plane ticket!? Dan?s holler snapped Retsu out of his approaching trance but the bald headed man did not open his eyes and raise immediately. He sat and listened to the familiar whining.

?Are you going to fight Ryu for one of the tickets?? Ken sounded playful as he asked. He chuckled as Dan?s face lost the look of concentration and he hastily continued raking.

?I am willing to settle this with a match.? Ryu said flatly as the cold breeze played with the ends of his white headband.

?No not you. I gotta fight Retsu for it.? Dan?s eyes narrowed and his voice lowered as he spoke. He felt like a villain in the midst of a plot. Ken and Ryu exchanged funny faces at each other. Retsu heard Dan and opened his eyes.

?Yes!? Retsu sprang to his feet so quickly a nearby squirrel dashed off in fright. He began slowly walking forward with quite the sneer.

?You will have to fight me for it.? His grin faded fast into a blank face as he stopped pacing. He folded his arms across his chest as he paused.

?There are only two plane tickets Dan. Ryu has the first one. That leaves one spot. Both of us want to go.? Retsu was standing still, not even blinking as he said the words. Dan was a few feet away from him; clenching his jaw with eyes narrowed on his teacher. Dan felt like a match was unavoidable. There was only the question of how serious this match would be.

?I guess?..I have to show you why I belong on that plane!? Dan balled his hands into fists at his sides as he shouted. Ken and Ryu instinctively backed away.

?Yes. You must prove to me that you deserve the trip to the World Warrior tournament in my place.? Retsu silently eased into his fighting stance. Dan spat on the ground and jumped into stance a second later. The sky was a pale grey with thin traces of clouds.

?Alright Hibiki: All your whining is about to come to an end.? Retsu unbuttoned his shirt in an agitated hurry while Dan let his rake drop limply as he began walking toward Retsu. Ryu and Ken both had stopped raking also but still held their tools for proper leaf herding.

?At least we get to see it eh?? Ken?s voice lacked the light humor it usually had. It was flat and bored as Ken stared at the ground sweeping. As if he had heard it too many times and saw a response as a wasted effort at this point.

Gouken heard the commotion from the kitchen and calmly set his cup of tea down and walked outside. There he found Dan being knocked down by Retsu while Ryu and Ken stood 20 feet away from the fight holding idle rakes.

?This is it kid. This is your chance to prove yourself.? Retsu stated calmly while still in fighting stance. Dan took in a deep breath and jumped forward. He landed in front of Retsu and stood there wailing away with chops and punches while Retsu held his bent forearms out like a wall blocking the barrage.

?You can?t stand up for long against my furious assault!? Dan grunted in between shot breaths. Retsu suddenly snapped and swatted away both of Dan?s arms. He reared back his pointed hand and delivered a crane peck in the center of Dan?s chest that made Hibiki gulp. Retsu attempted a front kick to Dan?s crotch but Dan swatted the leg away and elbowed Retsu in the ribs. Retsu staggered and Dan jumped back 5 feet.

With a flick of his wrist a blue torso sized ki ball shot from Dan?s open palm. It sped toward a smiling Retsu. After a brief pause Retsu sprang forward into the blast and slapped it to smithereens; gliding through the blue confetti toward Dan Hibiki.

The palm strike was quick. So fast the only sound was Retsu?s sleeve flapping sharply and briefly. As Retsu?s arm rested again Dan howled and doubled over, his hand over his newly bloodied mess of a face. His nose was the source of the leak.

?You are not ready.? Retsu?s voice was clear, loud and unstrained as he stood over the silent Dan.

?Perhaps if you spent less time running your-?

Dan leapt up and a burst of blue flame rose with him. Retsu stood delivering a chop to Dan?s neck that dropped Hibiki again in an instant.

?You should have let me finish.? Retsu thought to strike Dan again, but instead waited for Dan to stand again before his ?lesson? continued. Retsu was having fun and wanted to prolong it a little more.

Dan coughed and sputtered, on his knees with his palms to the ground holding up his upper body. Sweat rolled down the sticks of flesh and bone that were young Hibiki?s arms. His disheveled brown hair was in his face. His beady eyes were veiled as he looked up to Retsu and began to speak.

?You?re old?..I?m the hot new sensation!? Dan snapped up into stance and didn?t bother to re-tie his neck length hair back into a ponytail. He didn?t bother to wipe his bloody nose either and drops fell from his chin periodically. Retsu scoffed and took a single step back. He cleared his throat and got into fighting stance.

?I?ve got to go?.I?ve got to fight Sagat!? Dan shouted with a heaving chest.

?So that is what this is about?? Retsu sneered as he rushed in with a backhand across Dan?s face too fast to avoid. Dan dropped to one knee with his eyes cast downward.

?Some silly revenge fantasy-? Before Retsu could finish Dan had uppercutted him; a sudden burst of strength that left Retsu stumbling and coughing. Dan straightened his back as Retsu doubled over gagging and Dan Hibiki?s eyes burned with determination and semi rare gravity.

?It isn?t silly. It is my reason to fight. To be stronger than him. To be stronger than most people so that when I fight them they lose and I win!? Dan ran forward to attack Retsu while Retsu closed his eyes and said nothing.

?Like I said?you don?t deserve it!? Retsu took a single step back and then rocketed forward coming at Dan with his leg bent and raised. The resulting side kick drilled into Dan?s abdomen and the clipped ?OWWF? sound Dan made was the only sound as the wind rustled multicolored leaves. Retsu retracted his leg in a flash and hoped backward without taking his eyes off the still pink uniformed fighter. Dan stood quivering with an open mouth, bent knees and slack arms. Ken and Ryu watched with mouths agape as Dan?s eyes rolled back under his eyelids and he began to limply tumble backward. Once he dropped Gouken walked over to him and Retsu took his time strolling the few feet over to Hibiki also.

?I thought you were going to go easy on him? That is what I was assuming?? Gouken muttered as he inspected the unconscious Dan for injuries.

?I was going easy on him.? Retsu and Gouken were bent over the limp form of their pupil with discerning eyes.

?Eitherway Gouken it proves my point. Hibiki was here for fame. Pay for his ticket out of here, but kick his ass out of here.?

A runaway leaf dropped anchor at Dan?s nose. The comedy of the leaf having more activity than the closed eyes and slow breathing of Dan was not lost on the audience. No one laughed as the leaf quivered in the wind because Ken held his hand over his mouth.

?You?re not going. You can?t even hear me right now. Why is that?? Retsu?s voice galloped with satisfaction and snobbery. He shook his head while buttoning his shirt. Gouken looked down at Dan sleeping on his stomach and whistled a brief low pitched note.

?I?m not going to kick him out. He?s going to leave of his own free will. Isn?t that right Dan? We?re just holding you back at this point eh??

Dan didn?t respond because he was still unconscious. Retsu turned and walked away. Ryu and Ken continued raking as Gouken ambled off to get a bucket of water.


Ken silently peeked into Dan?s room, sticking his head through the doorway. Ken saw all of Dan?s belongings scattered on the bed and the hardwood floor. Several half packed bags were stationed upright on top of the dresser and the edge of the bed. The curtains were drawn and occasionally Dan muttered some curse to himself. Ken dropped out of sight as Dan turned around looking for something. Dan found his swimming trunks and stuffed them into a dark corner of the bag before him. He didn?t notice Ken tip toe off to confer with Ryu.

?Yeah, he?s really leaving?


Ryu and Ken offered to escort Dan to the bus station in the city nearby. Ken drove his Honda. The car ride was quiet, the radio droned on with a monotone news report that climbed above the sound of other cars gliding across wet pavement. The quiet was one way you could tell Dan Hibiki was not himself. The sky was a pale consistent grey. The sun was like a light-bulb covered in fog. Dan looked out the window, his face stone. Ryu closed his eyes and exhaled. Ken waited a few more minutes, thumbing the steering wheel as the car sailed along the freeway. After getting halfway there Ken put in his Van Halen tape and passively bopped his head the rest of the way.

?Remember to meditate Hibiki.? Ryu stated flatly as he handed Dan his bags from the trunk. Dan mockingly bowed to Ryu in response. They had parked far in the back of the parking lot. An arm of the freeway in one direction and tall buildings in the other. To Ryu downtown seemed to buzz.

?We?ll go inside too. Make sure you get on that bus.? Ken joked while carrying a bag in each hand. Ryu smiled, Dan emitted an obviously fake chuckle. No one called him on it. While walking to the front door glowing with inside light Ken turned to look around. He saw damp skyscrapers smashed together, wet dark red bricks and various shades of grey with tinted windows. They can see you but you can?t see them.

?They aren?t looking anyway.? Ken thought as he probed the blank grey sky for healthy clouds. He looked for a difference from the huge slab of uniform blankness. Thin scattered clouds didn?t mean anything. An exception that said it would not be like this all day. He found none.

?They aren?t looking anyway, too busy pushing papers and typing. Too distracted with their phone calls.? As Ken sighed he realized he had developed hang-ups about city life. Did he miss it so much while training he had to convince himself he hated the city? No he always disliked it when people took the presence of other people for granted.

But that wasn?t a symptom of the city was it?

The automatic doors slid open with a quick rush of a squeak. Ryu and Dan were several feet in front of the paused Ken walking into the clean white walled station. Ken blinked then briskly turned and walked in himself. Ken and Ryu stood off to the side holding bags while Dan dashed up to the ticket office.

?I?m going to Osaka, where people like me belong! The fastest route please.? The smiling lady in the booth was amused by Dan?s enthusiasm and cheerfully fulfilled his request. The ticket shot out of a slit in the counter and Dan snatched it like someone else was about to take it from him. He walked back to Ken and Ryu not smiling. He wordlessly extended his arms and Ken and Ryu filled them with luggage.

?I?m going to Osaka, then Hong Kong. The terminal is this way.? Dan?s voice was low and he lead the way to the terminal line. Dan thrust his biggest bag over his shoulder and gave a thumbs-up as he trotted off. Ryu nodded and hollered ?don?t neglect your training in the city!? Ken waved with a smile and took one last jab at Hibiki:

?When we meet again, I hope your hadoken goes farther than your arm!? Dan stopped completely and turned around.

?Fuck you Ken Masters! You and Ryu should come out of the closet already! You bastads won?t be around to watch me shake things up cause you?re both too scared to leave the forest! When I see you losers again I?ll be rich and have my own dojo-? People in the bus station were starting to stare at Dan with a dash of pity but mostly contempt. Ken and Ryu both noticed the attention. Dan did not.

?Aw shut up and get on the bus you bum! We love you!? Ken shouted in a comically high pitched tone.

?We?ll meet again!? Ryu smiled and waved and his voice was surprisingly light.

Dan turned around and dealt with the ticket taker. In another minute he was gone through the doorway.

?Hmph. That guy sure is a question wrapped in an enigma. ? Ken chuckled. Ryu actually giggled. Both of them looked around the bus station, turning their heads all around like tourists. They saw the excited travelers, the stone faced road warriors and the anxious ones hugging the walls waiting.

?Let?s go back to the forest now.?

Ryu nodded in agreement.


?Are you going to fight your brother soon?? Ryu continued staring at the wood left to be chopped as he spoke. His axe lay inert as it stood propped against a tree a few feet away; the blade growing cold on the ground. The snowstorm of the day had settled into a trickle of snowfall at night. A thick tarp of sparkling white covered everything.

?I believe so. But I?ve felt like this before.? Gouken stood a few feet behind Ryu, his bearskin cloak draped around him to his ankles. Gouken treasured it because it was a gift from Kuwabatake and it was warm.

?I?ve been sure he?d show up?like a gut feeling sort of thing. But he never did. So I?m extra ready for him.? Gouken chuckled slightly while watching the snow drift down. As Ryu split logs from the ground he sensed something uneasy in his master.

?You don?t want to fight him.? Ryu had a knack for stating the weight on his mind. Gouken didn?t mind, he wanted to talk a little. He figured he had thought about it to himself too much.

?I do want to fight Gouki. I do want to see who is the strongest between us?now. And how big the difference in strength is.? Gouken looked out at the night sky and wondered again why it was a purple red when the snow fell. Was it really the snow?

Ryu continued chopping, noticing the lift in Gouken?s voice.

?I want to see who is the strongest. I want us both to live after the fight. I refuse to believe it has to be a life or death battle to really matter.? Gouken brought his palm up to his face and examined it. Gouken was surprised he could still see so many old cuts in such low winter light.

?Satsui No Hadou. It is in me?when I was younger I fought it. I?ve found a way; an alternative to just surrendering to it. My brother?he embraces the killing intent. Did he drift towards it? Did he fall? Or do I have it wrong?? Gouken looked at Ryu, smiling an uncomfortable grin. Ryu felt confused.

?Of course you have it right! It is too much of a waste to kill needlessly. That age of brutality is past!? Gouken?s hearty laughter silenced Ryu and the young man went back to his chore as Gouken cleared his throat.

?I?m not trying to be mean Ryu I?m sorry. It is just something else to hear pillars of wisdom I taught to you being stated back to me as reassurance. Don?t worry I still believe! It is that my brother doesn?t.?

?How can you stop it once you feel it rising up?? Ryu did not look to his teacher as he asked.

?Don?t let your self be strapped into the mental rollercoaster. It happens on the inside?your feelings will simmer, boil and erupt. Satsui no hadou will show you visions of what will happen if you don?t surrender to it. You have to seize control of yourself then so you have to first recognize that it is happening. Also and this one is important?? Gouken turned to look at the distracted Ryu as he paused.

?You must shed your ego concerning defeat.?

?You can show him by sparing his life after you defeat him.? Ryu did not turn to look at Gouken as he spoke this time. Ryu did not see Gouken nod and shuffle slightly in the snow.

?Yes you are right. Would he find his life being spared insulting? Ryu would you ever find it insulting?? Gouken trotted toward Ryu, a curious look on his face. One swift stroke from Ryu?s axe was enough for just about every log. Ryu did not cease his chore as he spoke. He was certain Gouken was acting different. Did master have anything to drink?

?If I were left in a condition that I could not survive long. I was going to say ?if I couldn?t fight anymore??..but there is a life without fighting??

Gouken smiled. He was right next to Ryu now.

?Do you look forward to that life? A life without fighting??

Ryu let the axe drop in the snow as he picked up firewood. He stood up with the wooden rectangles bundled in his arms.

?I?m not sure. I can?t imagine it all the way.?

?Interesting. Are you done with that firewood slow ?n? steady??

?Our conversation was distracting me!? Ryu surprised himself with how easily a laugh or yell just jumped out of his mouth sometimes with his teacher Gouken. Ryu felt it was out of character only well afterward. Gouken realized early on that he could draw uncommon emotions out of Ryu and enjoyed doing so.

?Don?t worry about what place you hope to get in the tournament. Fight fair don?t eat heavy foods before matches.? Gouken nodded with closed eyes after he spoke.



-West Covina California, United States

Ken Masters was glad the tournament was closed to most of the media, something he helped make possible financially. There was a guy with a humongous video camera and two photographers ringside but most had to wait until the press conference after. This meant the coverage wouldn?t be large, with articles shoved in the back pages of newspapers and 30 second clips for some anchorman?s ?around the world in sports? montage. Why didn?t Ken want attention? Because he knew the tournament would not be too difficult to win. He wanted attention for something challenging. He wanted to be worthy of the front page. As he trotted out of the ring draped in towels his muscles still twitched eagerly. As he splashed water on his face in the sink he reminded himself that the tournament was not a cakewalk, that man Allen had given him some good moments. As he freshened up and prepared to meet the flashbulbs as the champion of the United States martial arts scene he wasn?t tired. He knew he should be tired, exhausted and covered in bruises. He knew he should have been stumbling out of the ring supported by his trainers even if he was the champion. Especially if he was the champion! As he soaped up a washrag he wondered who would be at the World Warrior Tournament. He felt the mild sting of a few cuts as he washed. His shoulder hummed a little from too many targeted blows but nothing else.

?Kenneth Masters, United States champion.? Ken said it to the mirror in a slow monotone like an announcer. He smiled after because he did like the sound of it. He had beaten everyone and been declared the winner. He had beaten everyone and had energy to spare. Now it was time to take questions about it. As Ken passed through creaking locker room doors he just wanted to get it over with so he could see the pretty blonde named Eliza he met at the dentist?s office.

Ken didn?t realize wearing a red uniform with the sleeves torn off would cause such a stir. It made him feel a bit like a spectacle; not that he was disgusted by it. Ken Masters, son of the influential Masters family and heir to an empire, coming back after his decade long stay in the Japanese countryside with a martial arts master. The media portrayed him as an extreme adrenaline junkie, the vibrant and robust young successor. Ken liked the attention, but was also glad he spent so much time away from it. He thought a younger version of himself would have let it go to his head. Ken felt his self image was very healthy. That is why when people asked him about the red uniform he said:

?The color red just felt good to me?it resonated with me. I think my element is fire. Pretty sure it is.?

?Does it give you power?? The reporter holding the microphone to Ken?s face asked. He was at a press conference held directly after the United States Martial Arts Championship tournament.

?The red uniform or fire??

?Either one.?

?No.? As Ken bluntly answered he wondered why he agreed to deal with the media before at least taking a shower. He dabbed his brow with a towel someone had handed him once he left the ring.

?The red uniform helps my mental game. I can?t see where all the blood is.? Half of the reporters laughed but Ken thought it was amusing.

?Mr. Masters you have been studying karate in rural Japan on and off for the last 12 years. Are you finally coming back to America now that you?re champion?? The reporter?s voice was flat and well annunciated. She spoke with a perfectly bland Midwestern accent.

?Yes actually! My teacher is growing tired of me eating all of his food and I will come home for good after I make one more visit. I?m sure I?ll go back and stay a while in the future but for the next few years I?m finally stepping into the family business.? The crowd of reporters exchanged nervous glances at each other as Ken took a heaping gulp from his glass of water.

?Where can I go to watch the tournament in Thailand here?what time is it there right now?? Ken thought, while his exterior was that of a relaxed gladiator listening intently to whatever the serious faced blonde holding the microphone had to say.

?Mr. Masters there have been reports of your engagement in Shinto rituals??


  • Thailand

?You?ve come a long way?but I?ve been doing this too long.? Sagat cracked his knuckles as he spoke matter of factly. It was as if he was trying to re-assure his young opponent of his competence before the kid met defeat. Ryu said nothing in response as he rose from the ground a few feet away from Sagat. Ryu had just been sent to the ground by a vicious knee, his attempt at a shoryuken was too slow and too obvious. The crowd was seated and quiet during the final round of the World Warrior tournament.

Ryu knew Retsu was in the stands somewhere, and he felt a twinge of embarrassment. Retsu had lost his first fight to Geki the ninja. As Retsu told Ryu what he knew from Gouken about Gen Ryu felt a rush of excitement. He had hoped to fight the famous crane master Gen but he disappeared after winning his match. Ryu was silently shocked as he advanced past Birdie and Geki to the third round. . Sagat?s pupil Adon was strong but Ryu thought he moved around too much and his hadoken overcame the kickboxer. Adon?s words from the ground before the paramedics arrived were:

?You beat me. But you have no chance of beating the king. No damn way.?

He had given better than he had gotten. But no match did Ryu consider easy. As Ryu hopped in place and took stance he wondered how much farther he would go. The fight with Sagat had just started 2 minutes and 40 seconds ago. Ryu had spent the last couple minutes guarding and dodging with rare openings for attacks. Ryu had trouble finding openings because he was too busy defending.

Sagat strolled forward toward Ryu with a blank face and his arms at his sides. He wasn?t guarding. He wasn?t running to his opponent. Sagat felt both were unnecessary. Ryu?s eyes darted from the crowd to the sky, to his approaching opponent, back to the sky and finally fixed his gaze on Sagat.

?I must focus. I must give him no rest.? Ryu thought.

Ryu rocketed forward on the ball of his back foot, in half a second he was in Sagat?s striking range. Sagat stopped in place and waited for Ryu to open the latest exchange of blows. Sagat was still leaving himself unguarded, but this time he had a smirk.

Ryu hopped in place and performed a roundhouse kick. Sagat held up one bent forearm to stop the attack cold before it could reach his head. Sagat used his other arm to punch forward and down. Ryu had to use both arms to guard against the drilling fist. Once Sagat?s fist retreated Ryu shot out with a front kick that was swatted away. Ryu then caught a right hook to the jaw that dropped him. He was back on his feet in an instant. He didn?t bother to wipe the blood.

Sagat?s leg slashed through the air horizontally, Ryu?s ducking roll saved him from surely being knocked unconscious. Ryu darted to the side of Sagat and delivered a precise kick to his unguarded ribcage. Sagat whirled around and kneed Ryu in the stomach. As Ryu?s body sagged he lamented on underestimating Sagat?s speed. Ryu cocked back his fist and delivered a close uppercut to Sagat?s ribcage, the same spot he kicked. Ryu jumped back before Sagat?s response could land. Sagat?s fist abruptly stopped in mid-air as if even his limb knew the target was missing. Sagat smiled and began to stand upright as his fist slowly retracted. Ryu remained in stance.

Sagat charged again. A sudden thunderbolt of energy with little warning. In a single bound Sagat was upon Ryu again. Ryu attempted a downward cop but Sagat simply side stepped it and jabbed Ryu?s cheek. Ryu staggered and Sagat grabbed Ryu to throw him. Ryu took the opportunity to knee Sagat in the ribcage. Sagat grunted and backfisted Ryu across the face. Ryu?s upper body jerked to one side and his hands flopped. Sagat then grabbed Ryu by his shirt and violently tossed him toward the other side of the arena. Sagat threw Ryu like he wasn?t a human being. Ryu?s body only skidded once.

?Stop going for my ribs.?


Ryu lay still on the ground, but his head was swirling as if he were spinning while drowning.

What could he do now? How could he fight on when his senses blurred at random, when the earth under his feet seemed to swell and contract while his legs spasmed. How could he win when he could barely stand?

Ryu flipped himself over, once his back was on the ground he noticed he had gotten more blood on his white headband. His eyes were barely open, the sunlight burned too much. He had forgotten he was in Thailand while he was swimming in the ground. As the sound of the crowd rose in his mind, first a deep distant thunder but now crashing, chaotic, a smashing of individuals. Had Sagat made them louder, more excited while beating Ryu up? As Ryu slowly stood he knew the crowd held no allegiance; they just wanted to see a grand spectacle.

Sagat was far away, unreachable as he stroked the crowd. He was throwing his long arms and pumped fists to the sky, his face carried a big grin and his one eye shined with accomplishment. He paced a slow circle 30 feet away from the wobbling Ryu; a practice for his victory stroll out of the arena. The crowd was with him; his chanted name began to bring an odd order to the grandstands. The sound swept up background noise and swelled into a deafening uniform mantra.

Ryu straightened his back and swallowed hard. Perhaps the crowd did have a favorite. As he exhaled as deep as he could he heard the sound of Sagat?s feet galloping across the tiles. Ryu swerved to the left as Sagat?s fist raced past his cheek. Ryu kicked Sagat?s exposed ribs and received an elbow to the jaw in response. As Ryu spun backward pounced with a raised knee. The roundhouse kick from Ryu connected first and Sagat fell to one knee holding his chin.

?Pretty good.? Sagat whispered. In a flash he was upon Ryu again. Ryu clumsily punched the air and Sagat kneed him in the stomach then backfisted him across the face. Ryu blinked but did not lose his composure and a violent exchange of deflected blows went on for 10 seconds. The clash slowed after Ryu?s powerful front kick missed terribly and Sagat positioned himself while grinning. Ryu winced at the thought of what was coming.

Sagat?s foot hooked into Ryu?s side, the kick splashed a wave of burning in Ryu?s insides. As Ryu rolled a few feet Sagat massaged his wrapped hands as he strolled forward. Ryu?s body made scraping noises as he clumsily got up. As Ryu slid his legs under him a bit of dust jumped into the air near his knees. He staged a bit and blinked several times but quickly regained his bearings and formed fists from his previously slack and heavy hands. Sagat smiled as he thought to himself:

?It shouldn?t be much longer.?

Sagat stopped abruptly when he was in range of Ryu. The way Sagat lifted up and reared back only his right arm was mechanical. He fired the punch in an instant. The crowd hollered as the wrapped club of bone and muscle crashed into Ryu?s sternum. Ryu skidded across the arena for 7 feet.

?Why didn?t the bum block it?!? A high pitched wail leapt from the crowd like lightning.

As Ryu lay heard the announcer far in the pressbox clearly through the loudspeaker. He was counting. Everything else was a distant, fuzzy haze. All the pain in Ryu?s body tingled fiercely, it reminded him of an alarm clock ringing. Ryu could hear the announcer but he could not understand what was being said. Ryu felt he was losing his grip on consciousness. He was losing the fight.

The crowd was now chanting the count with the announcer. Ryu?s waves of tingling intensified as he thought about how everyone wanted him to lose. This new feeling flowing over his body burned hot. Ryu lay on the ground and clenched his fist as he thought of going home with nothing but cuts and bruises. Or wrapped in a body cast.

?No?..? Ryu?s body creaked and groaned as he stood. His anger throbbing in his head, dulling some of the pain. Drowning out the pins and needles in his skin.

?You want more?? Sagat?s voice sounded so distorted to Ryu; like a dog barking gravel. Ryu read his lips and cunning smile and grew angrier. The blood pumping through his body thundered in Ryu?s head.

?Bastard?.? Ryu?s voice was too low for anyone to hear him. Sagat read his lips and decided to attack.

The crowd was shocked and amused that Ryu was still standing. A second before Sagat was upon him Ryu looked into the stands with a stone face. He wanted to pluck out the eyes of all the passive spectators that watched violence like they ate candy. He wanted to rip apart all the scum that bet against him, sure the kid had no chance.

Time slowed for Ryu as the moment was upon him. He studied the dirty and blood splotched white wrappings on Sagat?s cocked fist. He peered into Sagat?s arrogant, wide eye and he had no thoughts in his mind. He was blank and emotionless as his body moved by itself.

The shoryuken was perfect. Ryu felt his knuckles tear into flesh. Ryu felt the weight of Sagat?s body against his arm. Toward the end of the motion he felt the blood splatter on his arm. On his white gi. On his face.

The crowd was silent as Sagat crashed to the ground 15 feet away from a now kneeled Ryu. Splotches of blood on the tile marked the path of flight, right up to the ever growing pool underneath Sagat?s stil form.

Ryu was out of gas. It suddenly dawned on him as his senses flooded back. His body felt two heavy, even his eyes required concentration to stay open. The crowd was a thin murmur of disbelief, the hushed whispers rolling through the stands.

Ryu started to hear an echo as he thrust his arms to the ground, propping up his sinking upper body. Through rheumy eyes he saw Sagat still did not move. The pool of blood had grown. Ryu let his body drop to the tile with a wet thwack. His eyes began to close as he saw the white shoes of paramedics galloping toward Sagat. As the sounds drifted farther Ryu caught one last word from the announcer, the word heard as if it came from atop a hill:



Chapter XXV

  • Japan

The house was empty but it did not feel deserted. Retsu had been gone for 2 weeks and he would not be back for another 2 weeks. Ryu had been gone for about 4 days. Ken had been gone a month but he was to return either later that day or the next. Dan was gone for good.

Gouken reached his hand out to grasp the door handle, taking time to sense the cold metal. How long had Gouki been sitting there cross legged waiting for him? With a click and a turn the door was open and Gouken strode out into the dim sunlight of his porch. Gouki sat about 30 feet from him; sitting on the end of a concrete path leading from the gate to the front door. Surrounding Gouken as he slowly walked toward Gouki was the neat lawn bordered with ferns. Goukis back was still to Gouken and Gouki did not stir as his brother approached him. The clouds were long, thin and bland. They seemed arranged in dense rows through the whole sky.

Gouken stopped about 5 feet from the meditating Gouki. Gouki still had not moved, Gouken could not see his closed eyes or hands clasped in his lap.

Gouki rose to face Gouken unnaturally fast. The getting up and turning around seemed like one fluid motion. Gouki stared at his brother and for once his face was not chiseled from stone. His face looked slightly curious and he was almost smiling.

Are you smiling?! Gouken laughed. The clouds seemed thin and spread too far.

Youve gotten fat. Gouki teased.

Hey that is muscle Gouken looked down to pinch bits of his stomach and arms to demonstrate. When he looked back up at his brother the face he found was flat and serious.

Youll soon find out. Said Gouken with a cocky shimmer and tilted head. Now it was Goukis turn to chuckle.

Gouken stared at his brothers relaxed face against the bulging dark cloud backdrop. His features had grown sharper over the years and his forehead had creases from grimacing. Gouken couldnt remember the last time he had seen Gouki so outwardly pleasant.

How long has it been this time? I cant remember the last time you dropped by to scare my students.

At least 4 years. It was in the fall that I saw you last. Gouki turned away and began walking back toward the gate.

No no I know a good place to fight in the west. That is what you came for isnt it? Goukens voice was still light and it surprised him as the words came out quickly and playfully. As Gouki abruptly turned and followed Goukens light jog the breeze felt cool on both their flesh. Gouken thought to look at the lonely house behind him but instead quickened his pace as they dashed farther from the cleared land and approached the forest. Gouki was a foot behind but they were running side by side. They ran for more than a few minutes; until the lonely house was out of sight and all that surrounded them was green and brown. As Goukens pace slowed he felt the anxiety in his muscles. As he stopped and turned to face his brother he cracked his knuckles and said nothing.

Are you ready? Gouki spoke slowly, his face revealed no emotion. He stood up straight facing his opponent. Goukens arms were at his sides 10 feet across from him.

Are you ready brother? Goukis eyes widened for a split second then he fired a gou-hadoken. The purple ki ball whizzed through the air where Gouken used to be and fizzled out 10 feet in the distance. Gouki spun behind him just in time to deflect a jumping kick aimed for his head. Gouken threw three more punches with his right hand which were all blocked. Gouken then quickly jumped back 6 feet and fired a hadoken. Gouki reacted with a gou-hadoken out of instinct. The blue and purple fireballs collided and burst apart in an instant. Through the shimmering cloud Gouken charged; landing a straight punch to Goukis chest with such force Gouki fell back 10 feet.

As Gouki rose a blue ball of ki rocketed toward him. Gouki leapt into the air to avoid it and hurled a basketball sized ki attack at the earth. Gouken calmly took a brief stroll to the left and watched the purple orb crash to the ground and kick up dust. Gouken noted to himself that the scar left behind in the ground was a crater deep enough to throw ones footing off. As Gouken turned his eyes back to his brother he saw another gou-hadoken speeding straight toward him. He jerked his arm and swatted it away with a horizontal chop. The purple orb was cut cleanly in half; shattering into tatters a foot away from Goukens fingertips. Gouken and Gouki now stood 20 feet apart from each other. Gouki was in his fighting stance while Gouken was not.

This isnt all of your power. I expected you to not hold back from me! Gouken grunted as he ran toward Gouki. Goukis roundhouse kick missed horribly and Gouki paid for it with an uppercut to the chin. As Gouki absorbed another punch to the cheek he reared his fist back and Gouken noticed. Goukis arm fired a straight punch and Gouken caught the extended arm and held it under his armpit. Gouken then kneed Gouki in the ribs and tripped him; backing away to let Gouki stand back up.

Gouki rushed toward Gouken with a tatsumaki senpuu kyaku; his body spinning as if it were a machine. Gouken did not have time to avoid the hurricane kick and was knocked to the ground 10 feet away without a word. As Gouken got to one knee Gouki was upon him and Gouken reacted with a shoryuken that sent them both 12 feet into the air. Gouken landed on his feet while Gouki did not. Gouki attacked again the moment he recovered; zig-zagging toward his opponent and delivering a crouching horizontal chop to Goukens ribs that made the man buckle. As Gouken staggered Gouki grabbed by the shoulders with both hands. Gouken blinked and wrapped his fingers around Goukis throat. They tried various holds on each other as the forest surrounded them, turning the low sunlight into many pale beams.

Give me everything youve got. Gouken smiled as he spoke, a smile through a strained face. A smile with bloodstained teeth and shining wild eyes. The two brothers were locked face to face in a tangled grapple as it began to drizzle. Gouken smiled because he enjoyed the droplets landing on his bare skin. He smiled because he knew how to break this stalemate.

Gouken did not telegraph his headbutt. He did not lean backward to gain momentum, if he had Gouki would know what was coming too quickly. Goukens skull shot forward and crashed into Goukis face. The next instant Gouken felt Goukens arms slacken as he fell backward. Gouken felt the hold untangle and he saw his brothers limp arms fly past him. Once he heard the wet thud he finally exhaled. Gouki lay on his back 6 feet away while Gouken massaged his shoulder briefly then dashed forward. Gouki raised his head and his arms and a crudely formed wave of purple jutted a few feet from where he lay. Gouki darted to the right and fired a hadoken as Gouki flipped to his feet. The blue ball burst upon contact with Goukis unguarded chest and Gouken jumped into the air as Gouki staggered. The jumping roundhouse kick missed completely as Gouki turned and dashed deeper into the forest. Gouken grunted angrily and ran after him wondering what he wanted to accomplish. As the leaves rapidly brushed past him he was reminded by his stomach that he was hungry.

Gouken leapt over a bush and continued his gallop as soon as he hit the ground. His arms bent but stiff and his closed fists on the sides of his belt with the palms up. Gouki had meant to lure Gouken deeper into the forest. It was fine, but Gouken wanted to fight and not chase. Goukens breathing was quick and even as his eyes searched the surroundings whizzing around him with precision.

I defeated Goutetsu.years ago! What makes you think you can do better than him? The voice was disembodied but clear; it seemed to come from the trees.

Gouken stopped running and listened to the breeze blowing through all the trees. He was surprised at how little anger he felt at the moment.

Goutetsu was past his prime when he fought you. I have been stronger than our master for quite some time now. Gouken stated flatly. The deep roar from Gouki told Gouken that his brother would appear and attack very soon.

The wave of purple ki looked like an oversized sword blade; incredibly curved as it slashed straight down at Gouken. Gouken jumped up and away, scanning the treetops while his cupped hands built vibrant blue ki. He was level with most of them when he looked up at the sky for a brief moment. A sheet of grey was all he saw as a raindrop hit his nostril. Once his gaze returned to the ground he was lucky to catch Gouki springing off a tree trunk aiming for a mid air lunge. The blue ki shot from Goukens hands and burned branches on its way toward Gouki. The instant before it connected there was a path of sizzling black that drilled through the immense green. The blue fireball slammed into a tree trunk while Gouken landed and instantly ducked because Gouki had appeared behind him.

Goukis leg slashed through empty air as Gouken dropped low and rolled backward. Gouken tumbled out of the roll and hopped a few feet to the right to evade a powerful stomp that made nearby twigs on the forest floor jerk with motion.

Gouki grunted as he gave chase. He felt he was being toyed with. He was certain Gouken was not in the proper fighting mode. Gouki grew angrier at Gouken for holding back his power. I will push him to the edge Gouki thought as he kneed Gouken in the ribs, finally a hit after so many misses. Gouken punched Gouki in the jaw and sent him to the ground with an axe kick. Sweat glistened on his bald head as Gouken stood still waiting for Gouki to get up. The breeze made his beard blow against his neck and face. Gouki suddenly jumped from the ground and fired a gou-hadoken. Gouken stuck one arm out, a blue ball burst forward. The two ki attacks collided and dispersed. Neither brother moved after the shimmering died.

This isnt a game. Gouki stated flatly, smoldering with scorn behind the veil of a stone face. Gouken said nothing, only adjusted his stance.

A split second later Gouki seemed to float forward, his eyes locked on to Gouken but his form eerily still to be sliding toward him. He appeared drapped in shadow and crimson fire.

I know that technique Gouken struck at the sliding form but his fist whizzed through the illusion. Gouki was behind. Gouken could realize it in time but not react as he absorbed an elbow strike to the side of his head, a right hook that threw his head back, and a gou-shoryuken that made his lungs burn.

Gouken blinked and he was on the ground. His tan uniform that was already dirty was slightly singed now. Goukens head thundered, the rhythmic pulsing of pain scattering the thoughts. His jaw felt like it was close to falling off. A weight sat deep inside his chest.

I cant let this become a marathon fight. Gouken muttered as he rose to his feet. Gouki was already rushing toward him; a thin outline of purple surrounding shadow.

They met and Gouken took more than he gave. In this particular pulse of combat Gouken absorbed two face punches, a knee to the stomach and a powerful straight punch to the center of his chest. Gouki ate a roundhouse kick to the shoulder that broke up the skirmish.

Gouken stumbled backward and tripped over a tree stump. He fell to one knee, breathing quickly and deeply through his mouth while his eyes darted around looking for his brother.

Gouki is strong. A purple fireball whizzed toward Gouken from forested darkness behind him. Gouken slapped it to smithereens before getting up. He galloped toward his brother noting how thinly the surroundings were peppered with trees. They met with a blue and purple flash following by a gust of wind that tore weak branches from surrounding trees. They furiously fought, darting and attacking at a pace that was inhuman. Gouki stopped a roundhouse kick cold with his right arm and punched Gouken square in the nose with his left fist. Gouken stumbled backward and fired a hadoken in front of him out of instinct. The clumsy blue ki ball was ignored as Gouki ran past it and titled his body with his bent leg raised. The jumping side kick was narrowly avoided by Gouken but as Gouki passed he was elbowed in his unguarded rib. Gouki stumbled and Gouken ran up and grabbed him by his hair. As Gouken cocked back his fist he stared into Goukis bewildered eyes and felt his malice begin to leave him. A split second later Goukis eyes recovered their aggression and Gouken felt productive as his right hook connected to his brothers jaw and Gouki went limp as he fell. Gouken jumped back 10 feet and shook his hand while he grimaced. All emotion disappeared as he looked ahead at the ball of purple fire coming straight at him. The smooth curves seemed electrified and the shimmering orb was bigger than Goukens torso. Gouken inhaled deeply and rushed forward. He kicked the ki ball up into the air and above the trees it burst apart into shimmers and sparks. Before Gouken could collect himself Goukis fist slammed into his cheek.

As Gouki wound his fist he saw the strain in Goukens face; the two tense veins in his neck as he reeled from the previous kick. As Goukis horizontal chop to the midsection connected he saw the wave of pain spread just from his brothers wide eyes and the fire inside him danced from the sight. As Gouken flopped to the ground with blood in his beard Gouki felt an enhanced sense of his own power. Gouki smiled because this feeling was not an incompetent mans fleeting wish under duress. This feeling was not a brief reaction to a small gain in the battle. This feeling was not a hope for the future. The feeling that he had gained a greater perception of his strength was fully upon him. He knew just the knowledge made him even stronger!

Gouki also felt a rush of delight that seemed to invigorate his muscles. The delight in demonstrating superiority; with someone so perfect on the receiving end. The purple aura around Gouki intensified as he inhaled deeply; thin trails of purple dissolved up into the silver black.

Is there comfort in the lie you live?

Gouken spat to clear his throat before answering; he couldnt tell where the glob landed in the mud because his eyes were kept on a still but ready Gouki.

It isnt about who is the best you bastard!

Gouken sprang backward without looking behind him to keep his eyes on Gouki. His back foot slipped and Gouken broke the still with a quick curse as he flailed about for half a second trying to snatch his footing. All the time Gouki needed. Gouki rushed forward with wild eyes and cocked fists.



Ken approached the front gates of Sujyaku to find all of the house lights off. The house was enveloped in shadow save a weak porch-light that flickered rarely but consistently. The first door was really an iron gate, a break in the stone wall that surrounded all of the compound. His key worked with a well greased clack. He walked along a series of stones surrouned by green grass that now glistened from the rain. As he walked toward the front door and paused and looked at the dark sky. The rain sprinkled his face and he felt a cold wave brush by him. Was it the wind?


The rain cast a mist over everything now, Gouken?s vision was blanketed in silver segmented streaks. Gouki lay still in a deep puddle with wide vacant eyes and a mouth frozen in a half snarl. His limbs splayed out while he was on his back. Gouken looked around and wondered how the fight had carried out into this treeless plain. The thin edge of the forest was 40 or 50 feet away and what was left were scattered bushes, rocky ground and low slopping hills.

?It will be a moment before he gets up from that one.? Gouken muttered as he coughed a bit of blood. He let his body drop as he stared at the sky; the immense darkness now. His left arm was in terrible shape. Gouken was barely able to lift it. Little cuts and bruises dotted his skin but the pain from them was annoying at best. In the rain Gouken sat up and rubbed his side while yawning.

His organs felt like they had been in a blender. They hurt the most but his headache was competing fiercely. As Gouken noticed his brother beginning to stir he felt silly trying to measure the relative strength of his aches because everything hurt. As Gouki jumped to his feet Gouken fired a hadoken. Gouki swatted it away and rushed forward. Gouken rocketed forward to meet him and instinctively ducked once he was within range of Gouki?s limbs. The hooked side kick was a blur inches above Gouken?s head as Gouken tacked Gouki to the wet ground and began methodically punching him in the face and chest. Gouki thrashed while he absorbed blows for about 5 seconds before the explosion of purple energy blew Gouken 10 feet away. Gouken landed on his back and immediately returned to his feet to find Gouki in the air lunging for him. A haze of bouncing droplets buzzed a couple of inches above the darkened wet ground. Gouken liked that the rain washed away the blood on his body. Yet his cuts stung a little more and the mud made the ground slippery. At least there was no dust.

Gouken deflected a series of jabs from Gouki?s right then he ducked and rolled to avoid a sweeping downward chop from Gouki?s left arm. He fumbled like a drunken man to miss getting hit by a purple flame that somewhat resembled an orb shape. Gouken charged feeling his heart thundering between his ears. The ground was slippery so Gouken could pretend he was gliding toward his brother. Flying toward his enemy. Gouki?s eyes widened in glee as he sucked in more air with bared teeth. Lightning flashed in the distance just before they connected with each other and sent mud flying.

Gouken knew Gouki would attack first because he was overzealous at this point. He sidestepped a straight punch and reached for the outstretched arm with both hands. Gouki?s knee rocketed forward, figuring a throw attempt. Gouken shouted ?don?t be stupid? as he stomped his foot while chopping both Gouki?s rising thigh and his uncovered ribs at once. Gouki limped backward and cursed, firing a gou hadoken to occupy his brother and gain distance between them.

Gouken blocked it, and fired a hadoken of his own immediately after. Gouki slapped the blue ki ball away with a violent grunt. Gouken smiled and gestured with his hand for Gouki to continue the battle. Gouki angrily tossed into the mud the burned tatters of his shirt and charged forward, shadows all around them and small dim fragile mirrors everywhere beneath them.

Gouki was becoming faster now, hitting harder as the magenta aura around him intensified. Gouken evaded a series of punches and chops but caught the hook kick in the temple. He jumped backward as Gouki fired a fast gou hadoken. Gouken rolled to the side to avoid it but as he looked up a side kick plunged into his stomach. Gouken grunted but knew he had an opportunity; grabbing his opponent?s extended ankle with one hand while a wave of blue ki exploded from the other. Gouki sailed limply backward into the night rain. He hit the mud with a splash and was back up and charging at Gouken without a grunt or a pause. Gouken swallowed hard and shifted out of stance. Springing on the balls of his feet with half closed fists under his eyes. Like someone that was done with formalities.


The ground was a slippery mess at this point. The sky was wrapped in night while the raindrops tumbled. The wind was no longer the consistent push to and fro now it lay dormant most of the time. Suddenly it would flare up in great gusts that bent tree branches and seemed to turn the rain sideways. Gouken cracked his knuckles and looked around. As Gouken began hopping in place he felt his heart thundering again. As Gouki kicked up mud and water in his wild charge Gouken felt he had the energy left for the last round of this fight.

Lightning flashed in the background as Gouken dodged a side kick and deflected a downward chop. Gouken absorbed a horizontal chop to his ribcage and grunted as a right hook made his teeth clatter together. As Gouki moved in closer with a reared fist Gouken fired back with a shoryuken, knocking Gouki back 15 feet. As Gouki smacked into the mud Gouken cupped his hands behind him. As he poured ki into the glowing blue ball he thought of the attack knocking Gouki unconscious and the fight being over.

Gouki was up and galloping toward his opponent in three seconds, his arms pumping while the purple flames around him burned and sizzled.

Gouken fired his ki ball out of a sense of resignation. Gouki howled as he slapped the attack away with both hands clasped together.


Ken felt uneasy as he walked deeper, a dull throb in his right side annoyed him. A recent injury that was mostly healed; now it was only whining. As Ken looked up he noticed that the thick dark clouds seemed to match the rock in Ken?s stomach. As Ken passed by the most probably spot Gouken would be meditating he stopped and held his gaze on the empty space. A large boulder Gouken had split cleanly in half in training over a decade ago. He took one half and slid it down the steep hill, where it currently rested. It lay with the flattest and widest side up. Retsu added a straw mat in the center.


Gouken backfisted Gouki with a grunt and watched his brother fall to one knee with his head down facing the wet mud. Gouken followed with a roundhouse kick that flattened Gouki. The thick splash was the only sound Gouken heard as Gouki fell on his back with an emotionless face. As the thunder rumbled Gouken cast a look of contempt downward at his brother. He shifted out of stance to re-tie his belt.

?This is what you?ve wanted for so long. Stand up and finish this fight.? Gouken?s voice was flat and even. Gouki did not move, his body shrouded in raindrops.

As Gouken waited he wondered. He wondered how his younger brother had gotten this way, so consumed with malice. As the rain fell from the dark sky he wondered if it was too late. He wondered if it was too late for them to really be brothers again after so many years of isolation. He thought back to happier times; the images flickering through his mind. Perhaps if he had just tried harder to let Gouki know how much he cared for him things would not have been like this. As Gouken stared at his motionless brother he wondered how he could extinguish the wildfire of pain Gouki had come to embrace. He thought of so many things he could have done then but what could he do now? All Gouken knew is that he did not wish to fight the closest family he had anymore. As a bolt of lightning streaked across the western sky he wanted more than anything for his brother to stay down. To admit defeat so Gouken could tend to his wounds. To stop fighting so they could have long overdue conversation. He wished for Gouki to be unconscious so when he woke he would find himself in a warm bed with the morning sun in his eyes.

Gouki sprang to his feet again and instantly charged. Gouken stood there and waited. When they met this time Gouken did more deflecting than attacking; waiting for just the right moment to really hurt Gouki. After Every ten punches from Gouki Gouken would land a hard right hook or uppercut. Gouki broke the pattern when he elbowed Gouken in the chest making him stagger backward. As Gouken gasped Gouki dashed forward. Gouken waited until the last moment to unleash his roundhouse kick and when it connected Gouki was knocked to the mud 7 feet away. Gouken clutched his chest as Gouki?s legs slid into standing position and his arms bent.

Gouki would not stay down. He was absorbing more blows than ever in this fight but he was landing more also. He would be knocked to one knee and back up fighting before the last splatters of mud fell back to the ground. Gouken wondered how he could end this fight before Gouki fell dead from Satsui No Hado or killed them both. Gouken swatted away a series of jabs and plunged his heel into Gouki?s abdomen. As Gouki tumbled backward a ball of purple ki rocketed from his hands. Gouken was too slow to react and the attack burned away what was left of his shirt. As Gouken couldn?t help but notice the sizzling fabric fast footsteps sloshed toward him.

?Do I have to put you down like a rabid dog?!?

Gouken hollered as he cupped his hands behind him to build energy. Gouki charged with a stone face. When Gouki was close enough Gouken fired his Shinkuu Hadoken but the large blue ball only flew far into the rainy forest. Gouki had gotten behind him and the Metsu Shoryuken that followed sent Gouken high into the air coated in burning purple. Gouken could not believe how the pain was everywhere. All of his flesh screamed and his ribcage pulsed in agony as he looked out at the treetops. As Gouken began to tumble back to the ground his mind felt blocked and damaged. He had no plans for what to do next as he floated through the rain. All he knew was the fight would end soon. Gouken thought of Goutetsu and something clicked inside him. He turned himself around to face the ground as he fell.

Among the puddles and patches of grass stood Gouki where Gouken was set to land. Gouken was about 40 feet from the ground and Gouki wordlessly leapt into the air to meet his opponent.

As they met 20 feet in the air both of them fired tremendous ki blasts simultaneously. The flash of purple and blue sent Gouki crashing into the mud and Gouken spinning off to the side and landing in a pool of water 3 feet deep. Gouken felt distracted and sluggish as he stumbled to his feet. He absent mindedly slapped away a gou hadoken and watched his brother running at full speed toward him.

Gouken closed his eyes as he mechanically re-tied his belt. He smiled from the raindrops falling on his skin. He did not want to fight anymore but he felt he must.

?You wish to surpass me?? Gouken muttered to himself as the rapid splashes grew closer. He balled his fists and slid into stance while he exhaled a full breath. Gouki was upon him then; flying forward with a cocked back leg.

In the pouring rain and darkened sky the fight had its last peak. The two brothers darted around and clashed into each other with a rare intensity. Ken heard the rapid erractic cadence as he walked through the forest and felt a rock in his stomach that made him pause. The rain made it harder for him to figure out where the sounds came from. In this exchange Gouki delivered twice as many blows as Gouken. However the few attacks Gouken landed stopped Gouki in mid movement and made him stagger or slip. Gouken was able to shake off most of Gouki?s hits in a split second.


They roared toward each other, both knowing the final moments of the battle were here. As Gouki charged he thought of nothing. His mind was empty and clear and he was not acknowledging any of the pain in his body. Gouken felt like he was flying as he ran his fastest. He thought of the relief he?d feel after the fight was finished.

When they met Gouken launched into a jumping front kick. Gouki?s face was expressionless as he dodged under Gouken?s leg and slipped behind him. As Gouki elbowed Gouken in the spine he felt energy boiling in every muscle. As Gouken stumbled in the rain Gouki grabbed his brother on the shoulders with both hands and released all the power he had left.

Gouken felt a sharp stab in the center of himself as his vision abruptly left him in total darkness. In the black a tidal wave of pain crashed into him. It felt as if an impossible amount of fists were delivering a savage barrage all at once. Gouken could not scream and his body was frozen as blood leapt from his mouth. It was only a second or two but once Gouki released his hold on Gouken the Shun Goku Shatsu had devastated. Gouken instantly dropped face first into the mud. Smoke rose from his still body as the rain tumbled without pause.


Ken heard a tremendous crash, it sounded like an explosion and it make him stop cold in the wet forest. He initially thought it was a thunderclap but as he realized it sounded too close he swallowed hard and took off running in the direction of the sound.


Gouki knelt over his brother and slowly turned the limp body over on his back. There was only the sound of the hard rain now as Gouki peered into Gouken?s mud covered face. His eyes were closed and his mouth was slightly open as dirt slid away back to the ground. Gouken?s face held no expression. Gouki?s heartbeat was beginning to slow down. His strength slipped away from his fingertips and it seemed to fizzle into the air. As his power faded all the pain rose in response; lighting Gouki?s nerves on fire. Gouki stood up and stumbled backward a few steps. The dizziness was more than he expected. As he looked into the dark sky he felt a chill gallop through his body. He was weak, he was hurt but he had won. It was the best fight he had ever had. As Gouki turned away and slowly limped away he felt an urge to thank his brother. As he clutched his left side he felt foolish for his previous thought.

Ken approached the sizable clearing and saw a figure slowly walking. He couldn?t see who he was but he could see the injuries in his movements.

?So there was a fight?? Ken muttered to himself, his feeling of uneasiness expanding to his limbs. As Ken looked closer he saw a still body in the mud and gasped. He took off running with panic in his eyes.

Gouki hadn?t walked 20 feet from Gouken when Ken came upon him. Gouki stopped and stared with a remarkable un-interest at the boy breathing hard and quickly. Ken?s eyes searched Gouki?s face and found nothing.

?Are you my master?s brother? The demon Akuma?!? Ken shouted with balled fists.

?I am no demon. I was Gouken?s brother.? Gouken nodded behind him slightly while Ken howled in anguish.

?I am too late?..? The sadness overtook Ken?s anger and it made his knees weak. The moment did not last for Ken?s rage returned in an instant stronger than ever. He shifted into fighting stance, his eyes cold as they focused on Gouki.

?I?m going to kill you right now.? He stated flatly while he focused inward to control himself and bring his power to the forefront.

?You will try.? Gouki still seemed indifferent as Ken charged.

Ken did not get the chance to attack. As he leapt Gouki shot his leg out effortlessly. The kick connected with a crash to Ken?s temple that made him go limp instantly. Ken sailed through the rain 25 feet with a bush to soften his landing. His body flattened the bush and flopped to the ground beside it. He did not get up and he did not groan. Gouki waited for a moment then continued walking.

Gouki scolded his brother for training such a weakling as he limped. Then he remembered there was another, the stronger one. As he feet lazily sloshed in the mud Gouki felt no achievement and it disturbed him. Hadn?t he been waiting for this moment for years, for decades? There was no pride of accomplishment only appreciation of great struggle as Gouki walked away from the two bodies laying still in the rain. Gouki thought of the next fight, he thought of returning to his island to recover and train. He thought of the brilliant clash he and the boy Ryu would make in the future. He would make sure their paths crossed in time. For now, there was only the pain flooding his thoughts and the journey back.



Very very nice ending FOF, good job.


Happy to finally see the ending man. Great job…:woot:


Thanks for coming back all those times guys. I think the whole thing has been gone through and edited three times.


Just was checking back to see if you had hosted the new completed version on word document/pad, i haven’t been here in years but i read the story all the time (i have it saved on my cpu desktop).


Thanks for checking back Akuma2000! I haven’t been on here in ages myself. And I can see the forum update has messed up my quotation marks! I also have this story on

I have a complete version as a word document also! Anyone that wants it please message me your email address and I’ll send it. Also I have a blog that has short stories on it: