Summary: Hwoarang finds himself in a bad spot while on a mission, and Jun sees her opportunity to approach the Blood Talon.
Chapter Warnings: Violence, disturbing violence,
Feedback: Comments are welcome; constructive or positive. Flames are nice too because they make for something to laugh at and keep my feet toasty.
Special Thanks: To my beta Kat for betaing everything I send her, and listening to me talk her ear off about this thing.
Disclaimer: The characters found here *do not* belong to me. The story itself *does* belong to me. I am making no profit from this endeavour.
Notes: This part starts off with a more detailed explanation of why Hwoarang took the mission to kill in the first place.
"Angel/Devil's words inside Hwoarang/Jin's head"
Please see the Index for more details and chapter links.
The moment the mission was assigned to him he didn't like it. His superiors had been tight-lipped about everything except the bare essentials. Neither he nor his two teammates needed to know more than whom they had to neutralize. A Dr. Geum, who'd been a loyal physician to some of the top officials in the government had become wise to some very sensitive information and was going to betray the trust put in him. Hwoarang could only guess at the information the guy had learned since the Major in charge of issuing the mission didn't say anything more on the subject. Hwoarang hated how the government liked to project a squeaky-clean image for comparison with the North, but still carried out its own hidden agendas behind the scenes.
"This man is a terrorist, gentlemen," the Major stated before Hwoarang and two other soldiers who were going on assignment with him. "He needs to be made an example of. I want you to neutralize him and the others in his house. Take whatever action necessary!"
"Well, I know Chin likes to kill on a whim, but it's not my cup of tea, Major." Hwoarang said, pushing his chair back to stand up before he was stopped.
"I've heard about enough of your lip, soldier! You'll do this mission!"
"Make me," Hwoarang crossed his arms and narrowed his eyes at the older man. He just loved getting a rise out of assholes like him who'd let their rank go to their head.
The Major straightened his posture and grabbed a hold of a letter, tossing it to the redhead before smiling knowingly. That look alone pissed Hwoarang off and he grabbed the note, ripped it open and quickly scanned the text. "This isn't possible!" But the words were there clear as day; Baek was alive. He recognized his master's handwriting that explained how he'd been in a coma but was now awake and teaching martial arts to others in the military. As the Blood Talon read further he felt his stomach begin to sink as he found that they had a good hold over the older man to force him into compliance, and while he'd enjoyed teaching again at first, but constant disagreements with the men who issued his orders was beginning to outweigh any satisfaction he felt. He'd managed to make an arrangement with the Major that if Hwoarang were to complete a mission of the Major's choosing that Hwoarang would be released from duty, as would he.
Hwoarang weighed his options; it was his chance to finally get the military off his back and see his master again, although he had a rotten feeling about the orders and the vague way in which they'd been given. He doubted Baek knew that the Major would ask him to carry out a mission of this nature, but still... a flood of conflicting emotions rushed through him, though he was sure to keep a cool exterior so the others in the room couldn't see. Even if he stuck out his term in the military, that wouldn't mean that Baek would be able to leave at the same time as he did. The more he thought about it, the more appealing the rewards were. After all, by the case the Major made the Doctor sounded dangerous. If Hwoarang didn't do it, someone else would. With an uncomfortable weight settling in the pit of his stomach as he reluctantly accepted the orders.
The helicopter carried his team to the estate and the three of them worked in unison to take out the security system and move into position. The details of Hwoarang's orders were fairly simple; there was one wing that he had to secure while neutralizing anybody within. Neutralize was the army's way of saying kill. Chin got the master bedroom with the Doctor who'd pissed off the wrong people. Their other teammate, Soo had the opposite wing. It didn't surprise him that Chin took the big kill. That guy had always been vying for promotions; a real ass kisser and the exact type that Hwoarang hated.
"Neutralize, neutralize, bah!" Hwoarang muttered, coming upon a lone guard and taking him down without a second thought. Who needed guns? The wing was smaller than he'd expected and he checked every room, finding them all empty. He opened the door to the last room on the level. When he heard the soft breathing of someone sleeping inside his senses went on alert. He could get away with knocking out the guards, but his orders were to kill those connected to the Doctor. He pushed the door open more and paused, his breathing almost stopping. The room was too small. There was a soft light coming from an outlet in the wall and a deep sense of dread came upon him. What sort of insurgent would sleep with a night-light?
His footsteps were quiet as he crossed the room, walking up to the head of the bed so he could look down into the face of the sleeping girl under the pink blankets. Was it right? Were the orders right and he had to kill her as well? She couldn't have done anything to warrant death; she couldn't have been more than 8! Maybe they just meant to kill people who were directly involved… but even as he tried to rationalize his orders he knew it was a lie. This was a mission to prove a point, to spread the word to not fuck with the government or this might happen to you. Most people who tried to do the right thing by standing up to a greater power had no fear of death, but the lives of their family made more than a few hesitate to take action. He pulled his goggles up, resting them on his forehead so he could look at her in the soft glow night-light. It didn't help. She still looked sweet and innocent. He felt his hand twitching as he brought it up to his side-arm and pulled it free of its holster. He'd already come this far… the metal felt cold and heavy in his hands. Just a gun, just bullets inside; on their own neither were dangerous. Together they were only a fraction more-so. It was only when they were put into the hands of a soldier that they were something to be feared, or rather the man that held them was.
Hwoarang bit his tongue, dragging the weapon up from his side and aiming it down at the bed. He needed both hands to cock the hammer back and keep the gun trained on her body, but he wrestled with his own will to bring the barrel up towards her head and hold it there. It was so hard. So cold and the trigger was resisting his feeble attempts to pull it. They may have told him to do it, but that didn't mean he had to! The hell, he wouldn't live with the guilt just so THEY could have their example! "Fuck!" he cursed under his breath and angrily pushed the gun back into his holster. It felt so good to do that, but there was still the weight of unfinished business weighing heavily on him. He'd be punished… fuck it. He didn't care. He just didn't fucking care anymore. He hated being a weapon for someone else. He only had a few more months left of service and then he'd be free. Baek was a grown man who could handle himself; he'd understand the situation once Hwoarang told him what had happened. The little girl, on the other hand… he shook his head, unable to believe that he'd almost done it.
He turned on his heel and walked to the door, just as a woman came running in from the hallway and collided with him. She fell to the ground, screaming, "Min! MIN! You bastards, what have you done to my baby?" Hwoarang leapt out of the way as the woman climbed to her feet at took a swing at him. For that moment he felt at peace with himself. He'd done the right thing and she couldn't damn him for it.
Hwoarang looked back to the bed as the girl sat upright, startled from her sleep and she stared at him while her mother rushed to her side and pulled her up. "Mother? What's going on?" She asked, looking again at Hwoarang who was frozen in place. Her mother was still swearing while screeching that they had to get out of there. She was frantic, crying; she'd probably seen her husband murdered. Chin hadn't done his job right, which meant…
She ran past Hwoarang, trying to carry her daughter away from there but she stopped as Chin and Soo blocked her path. A moment later she was knocked back as Chin kicked her in the chest and she sprawled on the ground, sputtering and spitting blood from her mouth in thick globs.
"Hwoarang, you were supposed to neutralize the occupant!" Chin said, pulling his gun from its holster.
"The fuck, Chin? They never said I had to kill a kid! You may like licking the asshole of whoever can give you a promotion, but I like to sleep at night!" Hwoarang balled his fists, ready for the confrontation with the other man.
Chin rolled his eyes before he aimed his gun at the girl. "I'll deal with you later, 'Rang!" and pulled the trigger. The girl collapsed to the floor, dead in one shot. No preamble or even final words to her. He's just pulled the trigger without a second thought or barely a glance.
Her mother sobbed an unearthly sound and crawled over to her daughter's body. It was almost primal the way she sounded and Hwoarang felt his soul shrivel just a little at hearing it and knowing he'd had something to do with causing her to cry like that. Her sobs were abruptly cut short with another bang from Chin's gun and she fell silent. "You can thank your husband for inviting us," he told her as she lay on the floor, staring up at him while her blood gushed out of the hole in her chest. "Although I'm sure you already know that, right, traitor?" Hwoarang repressed the bile that was stirring in his stomach. He didn't know what was more disgusting; their deaths, or the ease with which Chin went about causing their deaths.
"We have a mission, Hwoarang," Chin said, turning to Hwoarang after she'd died. "You may like questioning the reason behind everything, but that only wastes time and gets you killed! Soo and I took care of everyone else, and all you had to do was take care of this girl. This ONE girl! What the fuck is so hard with killing one person?" He holstered his weapon again. "You can bet I'll report this to command."
"Report all you want," Hwoarang said, stepping in and taking a swing at the other man. "You'll be doing it through broken teeth, fucker!"
Chin dodged the punches before turning to Soo, "Looks like he's being difficult again." His mouth was covered by the balaclava, but his eyes showed the smile that lit up his face.
Hwoarang grinned, pulling off his own mask and goggles and dropped them to the floor. There was no need for stealth anymore; not when everyone was dead. He rushed at Chin, throwing out a few punches before twisting his hip and bringing his foot up to connect with the other man's jaw. He spun around, bringing the same foot around to gain momentum as he drove it into Chin's gut. He leapt back and watched his teammate drop to his knees, gasping for air before leaping at him again. Chin rolled to the side at the last minute and kicked his leg out, catching Hwoarang off guard and dropping him to the floor.
The two wrestled around on the ground for a while, trading punches to the face and elbows to the gut. Chin fought with cold venom, but Hwoarang's anger drove him beyond his limits, punching and hitting even though he felt several of his fingers break. When he couldn't take the pain anymore he head butted Chin as hard as he could. Anything he could do to cause the other man as much pain as he felt at being a part of this murder. Took another swing, cursing when Chin dodged his fist and he drove it into the floorboards, breaking another finger. Chin took the opportunity to box his ears; bringing both his hands up with as much strength as he could to smack Hwoarang's ears.
Hwoarang was stunned, the pain in his head overwhelming his senses. He couldn't stop Chin from driving his head into the floor a couple more times. He hazily heard his teammate above him, although couldn't pull himself up off the floor. "Now, time to go!" Chin said and Hwoarang felt the other man's boot connect with his head and then everything went black.
He didn't know how long he'd been lying there. It could have been for eternity. It was as if he was a dreaming man waking after 100 years… or maybe he was a waking man just starting to dream… He whistled lazily, his eyes roaming across the sky that glowed a deep red colour, almost as if the current of a fast-paced river was being reflected in the ruby heavens. Something was amiss. He didn't remember coming here. He stretched out languidly before sitting up. There was something he had to do, but everything was so warm and comfortable; almost too warm, like there was a haze in the air that made everything sticky and dopey and difficult to think in. He climbed to his feet, water dripping from his head and down his back as he rose from the puddle he'd been lying in. It was red too, just like the sky.
Or was the sky reflecting the colour of the pond? It was a thick soup of red, almost like blood.
Hwoarang stepped back, never taking his eyes from that strange water and he felt his heart skip a beat. There was a body further in. It was small, like a child. He rushed forward and grabbed the girl, turning her over in the strange liquid that was far too thick to be water.
"Mommy!" she screamed the moment the air hit her face. A high-pitched wail that made the redhead drop her to cover his ears. "MOMM-!" she fell back beneath the surface and her cries were silenced as the water filled her mouth. Hwoarang scrambled back to the edge of the lake, panic gripping him as he tried to get away and onto dry land.
It was her. The same girl he'd watched sleeping before Chin had killed her. That fucking bastard couldn't have just let her sleep. He felt his stomach clench and turn at the weight of the memory and he violently emptied its contents onto the water's edge. He'd taken lives before, but it was always something he could rationalize. In a kill-or-be-killed situation there was no question. Sometimes they deserved it, but that little girl had been the first that he'd… NO! He hadn't killed her! It wasn't him! He beat his fist into the soft ground as if the gesture would somehow make it truer.
"What's wrong, Soldier?" a voice asked from above him. Hwoarang stared at the standard issue boots that stood before him and felt his sickness turn to rage. His eyes shot up to the man's face and he saw Chin staring down at him with that same self-satisfied grin that said he'd kill his mother in a heartbeat if it would get him something. "Better her than you, 'Rang!" he said, stepping back as the Blood Talon leapt to his feet and took a swing at his face. "There's no sin in following orders! Where's your sense of ambition?"
"There's no challenge in killing sleeping kids, Chin. I thought you were better than that!"
"Don't lie to me, 'Rang. It doesn't suit you. You never thought much of me at all." His face took on a lopsided grin and his head rolled on a strange angle. "Never thought much of anybody, did you?" His limbs were starting to bend, drooping as if they were melting. Hwoarang took a step backward as his teammate caught fire before him, slowly melting as his laughter bellowed from the all-encompassing flames.
Hwoarang closed his eyes to shield them from the sudden heat that burned all around him. It was unreal.
There was a loud roaring in his ears and he ducked down to shield his body from the fire. It danced all around him, but never touched him. It was hot, but didn't burn him the way it had done with Chin. When the redhead hazarded to open his eyes again, he found that a strong wind had overtaken the fire and was blowing it away; creating a path walled by flames. Hwoarang stood, anxiously looking down the passage that seemed to lead towards a group of buildings. Without another moment's hesitation he sprang forward down the path that collapsed in on itself behind him. He ran as fast as he could until he was clear of the roaring blaze and he found himself in the heart of a city that looked strangely familiar.
He continued walking until a large building came into view. He knew where he was and ran as fast as he could to get through the arena doors and into the King of Iron Fist tournament. The moment he set foot inside he felt himself overcome with same competitive drive that filled him whenever he heard the roar of the crowd. The corridors that ran along the outer ring of the arena were long and curved off in every which direction like a labyrinth. He followed along one way, but there were no openings that led to the inner ring. Levels branched out in all other directions except for the way he wanted to go. "Fuck!" he cursed, pushing through another doorway that led nowhere. He could hear the roar of the crowd in the arena and it heightened his drive. He didn't care about the other opponents. He knew the only person to give him a challenge was Jin Kazama. The memory of his tie with the other man was always at the back of his mind, spurring him to train longer and fight harder than he had before. Ever since that day, he'd had an insatiable need to show that he was the superior of the two, and he'd become somewhat obsessed with the other fighter in the years that followed.
He ran a great distance inside the arena before becoming fed-up and rushed through the first door to the outside that he found. It opened to the city that was now consumed in flames and destruction. The sky was a stark void of blackness, with neither moon nor stars to give it a sense of presence. The road before him was torn in two and the cars and vehicles were strewn about as if a giant had rampaged through and tossed everything about. Startled, Hwoarang turned around, but the arena was destroyed as well. "The fuck is going on?" he asked, turning and breaking into a run up the street. He looked around for someone else. Anyone. Why was he the only person around? It was so… isolating. "Where the fuck is everyone?" he bellowed at last when he stopped for breath. "Why the fuck is everything on fire? Hello?!! Who the fuck can hear me?"
He threw his arms up in frustration and turned around towards the arena just as he caught movement out of the corner of his eye. He spun around again to see the figure duck into an alley further ahead. He bolted after it, diving into the alley to find out who else was trapped there. He wanted answers, but he traveled the length of the alley to its dead-end without seeing another soul. "The fuck is going on?" he asked, his frustration growing.
He scratched his head and turned to leave, but a being clad in light appeared out of nowhere and blocked his path. He squinted his eyes, trying to see the figure but everything was so bright that he literally didn't see the kick to his chest coming until he was flying back against the wall.
"Oh, wonderful!" he ground out as he leapt to his feet. He was in the mood to fight, but his opponent was so bright he couldn't keep his eyes open to see what was coming. In essence, he was fighting blind.
He struggled to keep his eyes open, although they begged to close against the brilliance of his opponent. He ducked as something flew by him and he shut them again, bringing his fist up to where the other person's ribs would be. His hand connected and he heard a woman sputter for a moment before a blast of heat knocked him back. "W-what was that?" he demanded, picking himself up from the ground and taking on a defensive stance. If he didn't know better he'd have sworn it was a laser blast.
He kept his eyes closed and steadied his breathing. He'd have to think a bit more for this fight, which was too bad because he hated strategizing. He listened intently, waiting for her next attack. He was tempted to open his eyes again, but it wouldn't work; he just had to listen and wait.
Something fluttered; there was a gust of wind and then-! Hwoarang brought his arm up and blocked a hit aimed right for his head. He held on to his opponent and felt a foot in his grasp. A kick from that high up? He pulled hard on it, but she wrenched it free from his grasp and she returned to her position a few steps back.
Hwoarang braced himself for another attack. He was prepared to hang on next time, even if she pulled him into the air. He was taken off guard when she didn't attack and instead the light he could see through his closed eyelids dimmed. He cautiously opened an eye, confused why she wasn't attacking anymore.
A petite woman stood before him, dressed all in white with dark brown hair. She still appeared to glow, although it was easier to look upon her and Hwoarang relaxed his stance, taking a step towards her.
"Hello, Hwoarang," she said.
Hwoarang shook his head. "Who the hell are you?" he asked. He thought to ask her why she stopped attacking him, but didn't voice the question. Sometimes it was better not to ask why someone wasn't trying to beat you up.
"My name is Jun," she replied, the clandestine light fading from around her and she finally appeared human.
Hwoarang rubbed the back of his neck and smiled. "Alright, Jun. What's going on?"
"I think it would make matters clearer if I were to explain that Jin Kazama is my son," she smiled sadly.
"Kazama?" he almost shouted, he suddenly felt very alive and conscious of everything around him. "So what, I'm dreaming about Jin's MOM now?"
"You are dreaming," she said. "But I am no dream. This is only a means through which I can communicate with you. I… am in need of your help, as is Jin."
"Oh…" Hwoarang trailed off. "What do you want, then?" he asked, his usual grainy, devil-may-care tone in his voice. "Y'know, he and I aren't exactly friends."
"I know," Jun said, finding it hard to keep the lilt of sadness from her voice. "But you know my son, and he knows you. Have you… did you know that something has happened to him?"
Hwoarang quirked a brow at her question. "What? Someone else didn't get him, did they?" He tried to stay cool but he felt a surge of anger flush through him. He was supposed to defeat Jin and the thought of someone else beating down that bastard made his blood boil.
"In a sense, yes…" Jun trailed off. "After the last tournament Jin's father and grandfather succeeded in stirring an evil inside of him; a demon that he's inherited from his father. Until now I've been able to help him fight it, but…"
"But what? C'mon, lady. I'm not gonna forget my beef with him and hold his hand. You've definitely got the wrong guy."
Jun's smile dropped a fraction and she got a far-off look in her eyes. "So you won't help me?"
"Lady, you have come to the WRONG guy. If you want me to kick somebody's ass… it'll cost ya. It sounds like you need a priest and an exorcism!"
"Actually," Jun smiled and stepped closer to Hwoarang. "I do need you to fight somebody. I'll even give you the strength to do it."
"I don't need anybody's strength but my own."
"You can fight Jin afterwards if you want, but I need you help him defeat the devil that's taken over his body first. Fight the devil before you fight him if you want…" there were tears at the edges of her eyes and Hwoarang felt guilty for telling her 'no' so readily. He'd never been comfortable with crying women; crying mothers being the worst of them. A sudden rush of guilt for letting the girl die flooded through him. It was the sound that her mother had made, he felt as if it was still resonating within him, triggered by the desperation in Jun's voice.
"Just remind him of the goodness inside him is all I ask," Jun said suddenly. "I'll lend you my powers to do it. I don't have the strength to do it myself so that's why I'm asking you. Do you think I'd be asking you if I had other options?!"
Hwoarang said nothing; his thoughts were churning uncomfortably in his mind as he contemplated her request.
"Please!" Jun said, suddenly rushing towards Hwoarang and taking his hands. "Whatever your reason for fighting with my son, I ask - no, I'm begging you! You are the only person that he has any sort of connection with. You can defeat that evil inside him! His grandfather, father… everyone he's trusted has betrayed him. To him, you are different. He trusts you… but I must give you my power first."
"Lady," Hwoarang cut her off, bowing his head. He couldn't believe he was losing this argument in his own dream. "I've got power." His words brought a smile to her face and he felt his heart skip a beat as she pulled his hands closer to her.
"Then let me give you a little more," she whispered as her form began to glow once more. "You need more," she whispered, rising on her tiptoes to gently brush her lips against his and Hwoarang felt a surge of light rush into him and then everything was dark.
~End Chapter Three~
| Index | Chapter Four |