Summary: Hwoarang recovers from his injuries and wakes up completely alone. His friends are strangely absent and nobody will tell him what happened to Jin. There is only one opponent standing between the Blood Talon and victory, and in order to destroy the evil giving Devil an unfair advantage, he will do whatever it takes to beat Jinpachi.
Feedback: I serously love hearing back from people about this story. I've put so much of myself into it, it's nice to hear what people think about how it's progressed since January 2007. Some people have read this thing straight through and seen first hand what I'm unable to see (I'm in too deep), and it seriously makes me grin like mad to hear what they think of it. Thanks to everyone who has ever dropped me a note about this story. It's very encouraging! :D
Special Thanks: I always thank Kat up here. She really is an amazing beta with a great eye for detail. After all, she notices each and every time that I change my thank you note to her. I would just assume it's the same and breeze over it and get down to the meat of the story, but she always notices every little thing. Thanks, girl. Without your encouraging words, critical eye and valuable feedback, there would be no Unlikely Angel.
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.
Warnings: MORE violence in this chapter. Nearly gory violence. Could be disturbing...
Notes: Well, here we go. Nearly the end of this series and I'm feeling kinda sad. It's like a friend I've always had in the back of my head, itching to be finished, and... it's nearly that time. *sniff* My initial draft didn't include a Jinpachi fight at all, but I quickly realized that it would be stupid to just end the story without seeing the end of the tournament (especially if Jinpachi's awakening is what triggered the whole thing in the first place!) I'm kinda happy to be packing the last couple of chapters with a couple big fights, it seems kinda fitting. But enough, this isn't the last chapter, I'll save my tears and parting words for then.
Oh, um, if you thought the last chapter was sad... please don't punch me for this one XD
I've also noticed my penchant for starting a chapter with Hwoarang waking up from being knocked out.
→→→→ Doujinshi? ←←←←
"Angel/Devil's words inside Hwoarang/Jin's head"
Please see the Index for more details, chapter links and fanart.
“Thank you, Hwoarang. Thank you for this. You can’t imagine what that did to me, but you’ve kept Jin from reaching the final stage, and the evil that would destroy him. I’m in your debt and I can’t conceive of anything that would equal what you’ve done for me. For everything. I’m sorry I forced you into this situation… though I’m happy to think you’re not completely unhappy with how things turned out.
“Angel has done what she can to heal you and I’ll lend my strength where I can for the next match. Jinpachi… can be very difficult. Be careful…”
The buzzing noise of fluorescent lights was unnatural and disturbing. Hwoarang cracked an eye open and glanced at his surroundings. Where the hell was he? The Blood Talon instinctively reached out for Jin, seeking to protect him like in the garden, but… this wasn’t the forgotten garden behind the cathedral. Where he hell…? Hwoarang eyed his surroundings again, a sick feeling settling in the pit of his stomach. Why wasn’t he hurt? He flexed his hands, inspecting the fingers he was certain he’d broken in his fight with Jin. He looked around the room. Where were his friends? Where was anybodyfor that matter? He could understand why Baek wouldn’t be there, but he couldn’t imagine Doyon not muscling his way through security to get to him.
The room reminded him of the medical rooms back with the military; all sterile and neutral. He sat up and immediately regretted it. His bones might have mended, but the headache that hit him was something else. “Oh, fuck…” he moaned and lied back down on the medical cot, cradling his head.
Through the pain, he was aware of someone opening the door, stepping inside and shutting it behind them with an audible click. The Blood Talon tried rolling over to get a glimpse of the stranger. “Who the hell are you?” he grated, closing one eye in pain and trying to glare at him through the other.
The man approached him, wordlessly reaching out to grasp his wrist and feel his pulse. Hwoarang grunted and tried to focus on his clothing, noticing the red cross indicating he was some sort of medical staff, as well as the Zaibatsu logo, indicating he was in no way to be trusted. “Where the hell is Jin?”
The man ignored him, which only pissed him off more. “Listen, asshole, tell me where Jin is, or I’m going to go find him!” He frowned when the man seemed to give little reaction, barely even acknowledging him at all as he withdrew a penlight from his pocket and shone it in his eyes.
“Ow, fuck! I’ve got a headache, asshole!”
“I don’t doubt it,” the man finally spoke. “And if that’s all you have, then I can declare you fit to continue to the final round.” He clicked the penlight off and tucked it into his pocket before turning to leave.
“W-wait, you haven’t told me where Jin is, yet,” Hwoarang forced his legs over the edge of the cot and sprang forward. He felt a bit woozy, but it was easy to ignore discomfort like that when he was being jerked around. “Where is he?”
The doctor startled when the redhead grabbed his shoulder and spun him around. As if on cue, the door opened and two Zaibatsu soldiers rushed in, their guns already aimed at the Blood Talon. The doctor wrenched his shoulder free, “I’m afraid I don’t know that much. I only know that you have a new opponent to fight, and that you’re healthy enough to do so. If you win…” he bowed his head and adjusted his glasses. “If you win, I suppose you can see whoever you like.”
“Dick…” Hwoarang glared at the soldiers and folded his arms over his chest. “Fine, I’ll finish this fucking tournament…” The guards moved; one behind him and one in front and together they led him into the hallway and towards an exit. The hallway was dark and smelled musty without many doors on either side. It felt as if they were underground, and he guessed they were probably somewhere beneath where the King of Iron Fist Tournament was held. He eyed the guards from the corners of his eyes, trying to hatch a plan to escape to find Jin.
“Getting shot won’t help him, you know.”
‘Thanks for the advice, now leave me alone. I don’t trust these assholes to take me to any place other than my grave.’ he grunted, slowing his pace and getting ready to make his move. ‘Besides, you guys recruited me for Jin and there’s no way I’m going to leave without him.’
“Maybe you’re right,” Angel sighed in a way that rubbed him the wrong way. “You probably couldn’t last against Jinpachi for longer than… half a round. Tops.”
Hwoarang ground his teeth as he rolled his eyes, trying to look into his own head to glare at her. ‘I know what you’re doing. It’s not about me or my ego… even though I’m one-hundred per cent positive that I could beat that guy’s ass! Jin is just more important...’
“Goddamnit, Hwoarang. Jin is fine, alright?” he could imagine Angel throwing up her arms in frustration. “Yon is taking care of him and I’m one-hundred per cent positive that you will die if you try to escape these two assholes and rush to his side.”
Hwoarang frowned, he wasn’t rushing to Jin’s side, he just wanted to make sure he was alright... ‘Are you sure that Yon’s got him?’ If the doctor was watching over Jin at that moment… Angel didn’t answer and he grumbled, realizing that she’d won the argument. They reached a door at the end of the hallway and stepped outside to a waiting helicopter – so much for his instincts thinking he was underground.
“Your broken fingers have healed,” Angel observed when he cracked his knuckles and crossed the asphalt. “But don’t forget you’re not completely healed yet. I know it’s probably pointless for me to say this, but try not to let yourself get too roughed up, eh? I‘m so utterly exhausted from fixing you up so quickly, I don’t think I could stitch together another bone.”
‘Well, I was going to let him think he’s winning for the first round or two, just to come back and kick his ass completely.’
“A hustler’s strategy won’t work for this man, Hwoarang. Give it all you’ve got and call on me if you get in trouble. If it drags on for too long…”
‘Yeah, yeah, beat his ass. I got it already,’ Hwoarang grumbled. He had no idea where the next stage would be, but he knew it would be fucked up, wherever it was. The helicopter blades were already spinning and he felt the barrel of the gun pressed to his back, pushing him forward and into the aircraft. “Where the fuck are you taking me?” he bellowed as he took his seat.
“Final stage,” the one soldier climbed in and sat opposite, still pointing the gun at him.
“What’s with the fancy transport? Isn’t it just being held in another arena?” Hwoarang looked out the window as the helicopter lifted off the ground, leaving a cloud of dust in its wake.
The soldier seemed to relax a bit once they were in the air. “This is a private match,” he said, leaning his head back against the wall. “We will retrieve the winner from the location after the match has completed,” he said. “After watching from a safe distance,” he added with a knowing smirk that pissed Hwoarang off.
Well, it sounded like these guys were scared or some shit like that. Hwoarang cracked his knuckles again, whatever. Everyone was shitting themselves over his fight with this guy, when all Jinpachi was was another opponent. He couldn’t be tougher than Jin, and Jin was the only opponent that mattered.
Hwoarang stumbled as the soldier shoved him out of the helicopter before it took off. “Damnit,” he coughed as the dust flared up around him, leaving him alone in… the middle of nowhere.
“What is this crap?” he looked around, seeing nothing for miles. It was as if the land had been stripped by fire or something, leaving nothing but smoking hills of dirt and rock.
“He’s somewhere around here…” Angel sounded on edge, which didn’t leave him feeling any better.
The Blood Talon walked a few steps, his senses trained to listen for anything that sounded like his opponent. Hell, he didn’t even know what this Jinpachi guy looked like, or what to expect with his moves. Hwoarang continued walking, past the smouldering rock faces, remnants of a burnt out forest.
“Damnit, this isn’t good. He’s so powerful. No wonder Jin lost control after the last tournament… I think I wanna throw up.”
“Well, don’t do it in there!” Hwoarang tensed at her threat. “Anyway, so all I have to do is kill this guy and Jin will be fine?” He looked around, trying to see anything that looked like a fighting ring. “Damnit, where the hell am I supposed to meet him?”
“I’m impressed that you’ve made it this far,” a voice boomed out from behind him and Hwoarang spun around, ready to fight. He narrowed his eyes, taking in the sight of this man who seemed so old he was in danger of becoming a fossil. His skin was dark, almost bronzed, as if he’d spent years under the sun or living in fire. He was also tall and built like a brick shithouse, with only some thick metal bands around his forearms and a flimsy rust and gold coloured wrap around his waist. He kinda reminded the Korean of Heihachi, only much, much older looking.
“I am Jinpachi Mishima,” he continued, and everything seemed to click into place.
“Shit, you’re related to Jin?!” Hwoarang balled his fists, feeling his anger bubbling within him. He could barely contain himself; this man was just radiating an awful power that immediately put him on edge.
He hated being on edge.
It felt like he was on the defensive and it pissed him off. “I don’t care how old you are or what your game is, grandpa. I just came here to kick the piss outta ya and even the playing field for Jin and that asshole inside his head.”
The old man seemed to pause in his entrance speech, cocking his head to regard Hwoarang with passing interest. “You have the smell of purity on you…” he sniffed the air and frowned, giving him an appraising look. “Heh, you’ve borrowed that power, but you are neither worthy of it, nor likely to uphold its essence. Ch, I can already sense your corruption staining the white angel red… still,” he tilted his head back, as if realizing something amusing. “Your corruption breeds fire, and flame destroys.” He arched his back and spread his arms, licks of black and purple energy seemed to emanate from him and Hwoarang backed up. This was too fucking weird.
“With your power,” he declared, “I will destroy all existence!” His voice changed, splitting and fracturing into many voices rumbling together. His torso seemed to tense up as he arched backwards and the muscles in his stomach shifted beneath the skin.
“…fuck…” Hwoarang averted his eyes, wishing he’d covered his ears as he heard what he knew was the older man’s torso ripping itself apart. He stole a glance and felt his stomach leap up into his throat at the sight of the wide opening in Jinpachi’s abdomen, gleaming with sharp, fiendish teeth that clacked together as the demon’s mouth seemed to smile.
Hwoarang nearly fell to his knees as the surge of Jinpachi’s power washed over him. It was everywhere, in the air, weighing down on him, wrenching his stomach into knots. “Is… is this fucking happening?”
“Get the fuck out of the way!” Angel screamed in his mind as Jinpachi bowed forward, shielding a sudden spike in power.
“Wha- fuck!” Hwoarang dove to the side, rolling and rolling until he stopped, looking back in time to see the fireball that burst from the demon stomach. “How… how the hell did he do that?!” his mind was still reeling but his body fell into action, hopping back to his feet and lightly side-stepping a couple more firey blasts.
“I told you, Angel almost laughed. “But you just got all cocky like you always do. I swear, if I-”
“Can it, will ya?!” Hwoarang hissed and tried to guess at what strategy would help him avoid dying. At least, right away. He narrowed his eyes and tried moving in close, ready to step out of the way of another fireball. He kicked out and backed up, trying to keep on the move and avoid being hit, but the elder Mishima was ready for him and snapped out with a stomping-attack that broke the ground beneath his foot. The impact sent shards of rock flying into Hwoarang’s face, knocking him back.
The Blood Talon cursed as he backed away again, putting plenty of space between them; he just couldn’t get close to the guy, and he didn’t have any ranged attacks. Even from that distance, he could feel the power radiating off Jinpachi and with a smirk, he decided it was time to take the gloves off and go all out. He closed his eyes, a wash of white energy tinged with his own red anger flared behind his vision and spread outward. He felt like he was on a rollercoaster as he called on the power within him and projected it outward to curl with eager flames along his arms and back. His wings were anxious to be free, to break out from his shoulder blades and unfurl behind him, catching the wind that filtered through that burned and empty terrain. It was strange how comfortable he was with the change; the sudden weight on his back and the feeling of fire spreading over him, engulfing his dobuk and replacing it with more angelic attire.
He felt everything fall into place, his power screaming around him and he flicked his eyes open, sizing up his opponent’s reaction. “Prepare to lose, gramps,” he lifted his wings and flapped them down in a powerful movement that propelled him towards Jinpachi at incredible speed.
His first attack was perfect; driving towards the older man, his fists aimed right for his head, and yet, Jinpachi didn’t seem concerned. Not even surprised that Hwoarang was flying at him. He simply reached up and caught the redhead’s fists before they could connect, twisting the angelic man about mid-air.
Hwoarang flailed about as his momentum propelled his body over Jinpachi’s towering frame, only his fists remained locked in that powerful grip as his wings flapped, trying to compensate.
“You’re too eager to die, boy,” Jinpachi tightened his grip, nearly crushing Hwoarang’s fists.
“Fuckdamnit!” Hwoarang flapped his wings again and brought his foot around, kicking Jinpachi in the back of the head with his steel-capped boot.
The action would have killed a normal man, but only seemed to jar the elder Mishima into releasing his grip.
Hwoarang dropped to the ground, flexing his hands to check for any damage. He crouched low, spreading his wings out for balance as he looked up at the older man towering above him. Angel seemed to waver in his mind.
“We’ve got to beat him faster than this, Hwoarang,” she urged him. “I used up so much strength against Jin – and healing you – and… ugh, I still feel so damn sick. I can’t keep this form for too long…”
“Hey,” Hwoarang said, grinning up at his opponent as he spoke to the angel in his mind. “Trust me, eh? I can keep it up, and I will beat this asshole.” He rolled to the side just as Jinpachi lifted his foot again and slammed it down, breaking the ground in front of him. His back was exposed and the Korean didn’t waste any time in slipping around behind him and kicking him in the ass, launching him into the air.
For all the older man’s devastating attacks, Hwoarang bet that he couldn’t fly. Hell, Jinpachi couldn’t even right himself as he flew up behind him. The Blood Talon drove his steel-capped boot into the older man’s chest and then his ass as he spun out of control. Anything to get him higher above the smoking ground where he seemed most powerful.
The elder Mishima tumbled about, helplessly cursing, trying to grab at any part of Hwoarang that was unfortunate enough to get too close. The Korean kept his powerful wings out of the way, repeatedly flipping around in fancy displays of his aerial prowess, lifting them both high in the air, reaching just beneath the smoky clouds. Jinpachi lashed out with a kick aimed for the red angel’s head, but Hwoarang simply veered out of the way, letting the older man miss and tumble through the air.
Hwoarang looked higher, seeing the faint image of the moon high above them; misty blue and purple coloured by the atmosphere that separated them. He remembered the times in Korea when he had flown above the city, soaring high until all he could see beneath him was darkness and pinpricks of light from the cities and towns. He felt a wicked smile creep up into his face, heard Angel laugh within him and he tucked his wings against his back, free-falling down to where Jinpachi was plummeting to the earth. The old man sure as hell couldn’t fly, but Hwoarang decided to help him fall a bit harder. He dove beneath the older man and snapped his wings out, catching himself mid-air and used the momentum to whip his foot around and drive into Jinpachi’s gut. He swore he felt a few teeth break off the gaping demon mouth as he sent the old man screaming down towards the ground at a blistering speed.
Hwoarang folded his wings tightly to his back and dove again, watching the ground rise up on him quickly. The ground that exploded into a wave of dust and broken rock as Jinpachi smashed into the surface ahead of him, sending the rock buckling up around the crater. The Korean dove through the cloud of dust, gritting his teeth as he forced his wings to snap out, reducing his speed a fraction as he slammed feet-first into the body in the middle of the depression in the rocky earth.
“Oh, fuck,” Hwoarang groaned as he climbed to his feet, shakily taking a few steps before sinking to his knees. His body shook with the trauma of landing too hard and he wrapped his arms around his chest as he looked back to the crater. There was no way the older man would be able to do anything more than attend his own funeral. “Well, that’s it, then…” Hwoarang groaned and wondered when the helicopter would know to come back for him.
“Ngh, don’t be presumptuous,” a weathered voice ground out behind him. “I will take that corrupted power from you…”
Hwoarang spun around in a flash, seeing Jinpachi bracing himself on his knees and breathing heavily. His white hair stood up, angled from his beard and along his temples like horns. His body quaked with the effort to stand. “Are you still alive?” Hwoarang asked, somewhat amused. “Well, whatever! That was just round one, old man, and one more will finish the job!” He thumbed his nose and bounced on the balls of his feet, ready for whatever Jinpachi threw at him; the other man could barely stand, there was no way he could do anything except fall down.
Hwoarang, on the other hand, felt strong despite the ache that spread through his body. He flexed his wings behind him, feeling the tight, white leather that clung to his body like a second skin. The leather gauntlets creaked as he clenched his fists, ready to move in for the kill. Everything was perfect. Everything would be over soon; he could get the hell out of there, collect whatever prize was at the end of this rainbow, and find Jin. His victory over Jinpachi was a sure thing.
“You don’t look so hot, there, gramps,” he approached Jinpachi, leaning down to get right in the older man’s face. The older man who’d fucked Jin up so badly just by being alive. Damnit. “This’ll be quick…” he drew back and raised his leg high in the air, ready to bring it down. “I promi-!” his words were knocked out of him as Jinpachi suddenly moved into action, kicking his foot out from under him and sending him crashing to the ground.
“As I said, you were being presumptuous,” Jinpachi climbed to his feet with greater ease and kicked Hwoarang in the side, sending him flying onto his stomach. Without another word, the old man planted his foot in the centre of the Blood Talon’s back, earning a pained grunt.
Hwoarang tried to push himself up, but the older man was far too heavy to lift. He tried wrenching his neck around as a cold terror gripped his heart, freezing him where he lay as Jinpachi took hold of his wing.
He could feel the older man’s fingers pressing into the feathers, roughly grinding down through the skin and into the hollow bones, testing... threatening. “No! Don’t you dar-!”
Whatever threat Hwoarang had been thinking left his mind. Any notion of retaliation or escape was blotted out as ineffable pain spread through his conscious. It was like drowning in fire, worse than anything he’d felt before and his voice became an unintelligible, unending scream. He might have been bowing backwards. Maybe pounding the ground with his fist. Could have been doing anything to make Jinpachi stop, but everything was a frantic blur. Everything was pain.
That agony multiplied as Angel’s consciousness exploded within him and her cry matched his. The grinding torture spreading across his back was nearly blinding. Overwhelming, with only the sound of crunching bone and tearing flesh ringing in his ears.
He writhed beneath Jinpachi’s heavy foot, the trauma giving him added strength, the terror driving him to escape as he felt the old man bend down to grab at his other wing. “MOTHERFUCKER!” he screamed finally twisting his hips and working his way free. The older man held fast to his remaining wing. Bones snapping between his fingers and he wrenched the feathery appendage upwards. Fingers dug in, his grip tightening as Hwoarang kicked back with all his force to snap Jinpachi’s knee and break his hold.
The Blood Talon scrambled to get out of grabbing-range, eyes wide and lungs gasping for breath. Broken. He didn’t have to reach back to feel his wing was fucking broken. Still, his fingers crept over his shoulder, first hitting the stump of his missing wing and he wanted to cry, shaking when he drew his hands back to see the blood. His breathing increased as he sought out the one feathery appendage that remained. He ran his fingers along the outside bone, feeling his stomach clench when it bent away at a strange angle, and then again further down. His trembling fingers traced over patches of bare skin where the feathers had been torn out. It hung so limp and awkwardly behind him, he grit his teeth and choked back a sneer. “You asshole… you goddamn asshole!” he could feel his face burning, tears streaming down his cheeks as he glared burning daggers at the other man.
He bit his tongue as he watched Jinpachi, making sure the old man didn’t get any closer while he tried to find Angel within him. She felt fragmented, unfocused and unstable. She couldn’t say anything, though the agony she endured was strong and present as she tried to cope with having a piece of her being ripped away like that. He closed his eyes, trying to call out to her, but soon realized that she couldn’t help him anymore. He was on his own. Shit.
He opened his eyes in time to see Jinpachi rushing up on him, fists driving right for his head. He ducked to the side, narrowly missing the attack and spun around to face the elder Mishima again, this time at close proximity. The demonic mouth grinned at him and Jinpachi bore down with overwhelming power.
Hwoarang felt sick. His vision wavered and he had to fight to stay conscious.
Jinpachi was going to win.
The redhead cursed and swang wildly towards the older man, realizing too late his mistake and those grinning teeth clamped down on his arm. He looked up into Jinpachi’s face, his amber eyes going wide and he saw the victory dancing in those old, wicked eyes.
Jinpachi was going to win because angel was gone.
The mouth ground into his forearm, spilling blood and holding him steady for Jinpachi to stomp again. The older man’s foot broke down into him again, slamming him against the rock.
Hwoarang didn’t have a chance without her. “You…” he coughed. Shit, he couldn’t even think of a threat, let alone spit one out.
The dust rose around him and he could feel the ground breaking around him, burying him in the fragmented rock. The older man slammed his foot down again. Hwoarang dug his fingers into the broken stone. He was really going to fail! He could hazily hear the other man above him saying something, but he couldn’t pull himself up. “Jinpa…” he felt the other man’s foot connect with the back of his head. “Ji…n…?” he coughed on the dust, tasting blood. Everything was blood and dust and a stale smell in his nose, but something stuck out for him then.
“Jin,” he repeated it, snorting and spitting again. Angel said he’d lose, but the only person who’s opinion mattered was… He climbed to his hands and knees, arching his back and forcing his body to move. Jinpachi’s foot came down again and he tensed, taking the hit in his back and staying up.
He never needed Angel’s power to beat Jin.
The Blood Talon launched himself to the side, using the momentum to roll to his feet and spin around to glare at Jinpachi. Gravity beckoned him downward, his pain beckoned him into unconsciousness, but he ignored the invitations and shifted his feet, standing his ground as he raised his fists to show he wasn’t finished.
He sighed heavily, his amber eyes shifting from Jinpachi to the white wing that lay discarded on the ground. The pristine feathers were stained with blood; red down stuck together in sanguinary clumps, some flying free in the hot wind that gushed around them. The colour was angry against the bleached feathers and something snapped within Hwoarang. His breathing shifted, becoming ragged as he clenched his jaw, his mouth turning up into a sneer.
“I don’t know how you can stand, boy, but you should accept the fact that you’re mine…” Jinpachi said matter-of-factly as he clapped his hands and moved towards Hwoarang. His pace was leisurely, confident, arrogant.
Hwoarang coughed, sputtering on the taste of blood and spat on the ground, feeling his entire body weighed down. Angel’s screams were lost in the roar behind his ears, his own pain seemed greater than hers did, but there was the ache in his chest that seemed to leave them all behind. Physical pain didn’t seem to matter when he thought of Jin.
Nothing really mattered more than beating the piss outta this fossil and returning to Jin.
Hwoarang laughed, his face hurt as he cracked a smile. The thought was so domestic and unlike him, but he couldn’t help want he wanted. Even before Jun had approached him, it seemed like his entire life had been focused on Jin. The crap that happened between fights – military bullshit and killing time street fighting – was just that, killing time until he could get to that dark-haired man that was both infuriating and endearing at the same time. The man who’d shown him a sliver of his life in Yakushima, and who seemed to accept Hwoarang’s life when it came knocking on their hotel room door. His life had been one big fight which seemed to culminate in his bouts with Jin. His life was nothing but a series of events leading up to Jin. Even Angel’s little trials and training was another event. She’d convinced him that he couldn’t do this without her. Need her? Shit, to do what? Hwoarang didn’t want anybody hanging over his back when he was with Jin. He didn’t need Jun lecturing him, or Angel teasing or making little comments. While the added help they offered was useful, he’d only ever relied on one power to get him through life; his.
Jinpachi’s presence bore down on him, and Hwoarang dropped to one knee. “Damnit… guess I’ve gotta do the rest of this on my own, eh?” He looked back at his opponent, eyeing the near-demonic aura about him as the older man shifted, moving in for the kill.
Hwoarang sneered, waiting for Jinpachi to get close.
The ancient fighter moved swiftly across the broken rock and smoking ground.
He walked with a staggered gait. A pace that matched the beat of Hwoarang’s heart and the Blood Talon’s vision shifted to red.
He got nearer and nearer, the Korean couldn’t wait any longer and he forced his legs to move. Forced them to lift him up and into the air and then kick out to kick Jinpachi in the face.
The impact knocked the older man backwards and Hwoarang pressed his advantage, swinging about mid-air and knocking his opponent back with the other foot. It all happened so quickly, and yet, the time he was airborne seemed to last an eternity. His body was moving on instinct alone. Carrying him through a move he’d practiced for hours on end to perfect. He seemed to dance through the air, switching back from left to right foot in the brutal combination of the Hunting Hawk. He never once touched the ground, throwing his entire weight into the move as his steel-capped boots struck out at his opponent’s head.
He felt a satisfying crack resonate with his last kick and he left Jinpachi to fall back against a rock face. The older man slammed into the stone, sending blood flying as the Blood Talon landed a little more gracefully on the ground. The redhead’s legs gave out on him and he sank to his knees before falling forward on his hands and coughing violently. Spatters of blood appeared on the rock before him and he thought he’d choke.
It took a few moments before the Blood Talon found his breath again and he raised his head to see where Jinpachi had landed. The elder Mishima lay in a pile of rubble, dust and ash falling about his still form and he stared out at Hwoarang through wild, unseeing eyes. Still eyes.
“H-ha… h…” Hwoarang sputtered, climbing to his feet. “I… w..in…” he shook his head as he thought he heard the whirling blades of the approaching helicopter. The wind shifted about him and there was a strange scent in his nose. Strange and familiar and sickening in his head. “The hell…?” he inhaled, feeling a sharp pain by his temple. He touched his ear, noticing the glistening red that coated his fingers. “Ohhh… tha..t no good…” he whispered as he felt his vision shift to black and gravity beckoned him down. “fu… ck…”
~End Chapter Forty-Four~
| Index | Chapter Forty-Five |