Previously, on TOURNAMENT ARC:Across the world, a mysterious organization recruits martial artists for a grand tournament, the Kumite, held once every five years. The winner will receive a prize of one million dollars, and the title of the world's strongest fighter. Who will be invited next? Will they survive the starting round to claim their spot in the tournament and a chance for victory? Who will fight to the top and become the new champion?Chapters: https://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive.html?tags=Tournament%20Arc
>>5349953Hong Kong, British Overseas Territory197X13 years agoThe afternoon sun shines bright overhead. In the nearby forest, the crickets are beginning their late summer chorus, while far below at the bottom of the mountain, the city traffic is a distant background hum.Despite the heat, you and your little brother are out in the guan, the combat room, practicing as you often are. It's sparring, again. Shan keeps insisting on it, despite your advantage in size and experience, a difference which becomes even more pronounced as you start to enter your teens, while he's a few years behind.This time, Shan comes at you with a strong combination of elbow and palm strikes, but you're able to sidestep around them, plant a foot behind him, and slam your side into his, knocking him completely off his feet and onto the ground. It's not something Father ever taught you, but it seemed like a good idea, and it worked."That was cheating!" Shan complains, but he's grinning as you help him up to his feet. He wipes the sweat off his brow and hops back into his combat stance. "Let's go again!""Time for a break, little bro," you say. "We've been out here in the heat for a while, we should get some water.""You're just scared I'll finally you beat you," Shan says. But he follows you over to the fridge in the antechamber, where you both take a long drink of ice water, refreshing after a good practice session in the heat of summer. "If I keep practicing more than you, Tao, I'm sure to get better than you someday.">You probably will.>Not a chance!
>>5349958>Not a chance!Cause I'll keep getting better, too! Better catch up, dork!
>>5349958>Not a chance!Sibling rivalry, of course.
>>5349958>Not a chance!
>>5349958"Not a chance!" you say with confidence. "Catch up, dork!"Shan laughs. "You bet I will! Just wait!" Truth is, you've been distracted lately. That's a generous way of putting it -- you've been slacking off. These days you prefer to read comic books, or explore the city down below, or hang out with friends. Conversely, from what you've seen, Shan is out here every day, throwing himself into his training.But it doesn't seem to make a difference. You've always got an answer for what he throws at you.It's true that you have the advantage in height, weight, and reach. That would be enough of an explanation. But it's more than that. Whenever it comes down to a critical moment in the fight, you can tell what he's going to do before he does it, and the exact thing you need to do to counter it flashes into your head. Sometimes that's a technique your father taught you, sometimes it's a thing you made up on the spot, but it always works. No matter how hard he works, you're always one step ahead of him when it counts.Once you both get into your late teens, you'll probably even out at about the same size. And if he keeps practicing like he does until then, he'll surely be more skilled than you. Maybe by then he'll have beaten you. Truth be told, you don't care as much as he does about your unbeaten streak. But you respect him too much to throw a match. He'll beat you honestly someday, and he'll have earned it.You walk out to the rooftop plaza with Shan. From here, you can see the whole estate, the forested slopes of the mountain, and the city below.You can also see the men in sunglasses; one at each corner of the walls, a pair slowly walking the gardens and lawns, and another one up on the rooftop with binoculars. There will be at least one more in the security room inside, another pair patrolling the grounds on the opposite side, and even more inside the mansion. You're used to having guards around, but ever since some things happened two years ago, there have been twice as many of them around, even though Father spends less time at home.
>>5349958>You probably will.
>>5350030"Tao," Shan says to you suddenly. "Is Father ... is he a bad man?""Why do you say that?" you ask, puzzled at the sudden shift of topic."He's always talked about the family business like it was normal," Shan says. "But he's, you know ... a criminal. He runs gangs and stuff. And he wants us to do it with him, when we grow up. Is that okay?""Where is all this coming from?" You know that Shan thinks too hard about things sometimes, but this is starting to sound dangerous.Shan hesitates before saying, "I saw on the TV news about a man who was found at the docks. He was dead. They said it was because he tried to tell the police about a crime, and the gangs killed him. Did Father order that? Does he have people killed?"You consider your answer.>Yes. What he does isn't right.>We might not like it, but Father does what he has to do.>Tough shit for that guy, it's a dog-eat-dog world out there.
>>5350033>Tough shit for that guy, it's a dog-eat-dog world out there.
>>5350033>We might not like it, but Father does what he has to do.
>>5350033>>We might not like it, but Father does what he has to do.Don't break his heart, but still tell him what's up.
>>5350033"Dad does what he has to do," you say. "He has to make tough choices in his position. Sometimes people get hurt. We might not like it, but that's how things work."Shan frowns, looking back at the mansion, not saying anything."You were always excited about helping him to run things someday," you say, trying to figure out what he's thinking. "Maybe you're not feeling so good about it?"After a pause, Shan says, "No, I still want to. Someone has to be in that position, right? Like, if Father wasn't there, somebody else would do it. Somebody worse, maybe. So if I take over for him, that's the best way to try and stop people from getting hurt. I can take the power and try to act responsibly.""Maybe so," you say. The future succession is something you try to avoid thinking about, it's not something you want anything to do with. But maybe Shan has the right idea about it. Do the best you can, because if it wasn't you, it would be somebody worse."Of course, that means first I have to surpass you," Shan says, smacking his fist into his palm. "Once I show Father I'm better at kung fu and at the business, he'll have no choice but to make me boss of the organization instead of you.""It's all yours," you say. "I don't want anything to do with it, you can have it. I just want to live my own life." "Yeah, but Father won't see it that way. I have to show him that I'm ready.""Keep working hard, and I'm sure you will."Shan looks up at you. "Hey, Tao?""Yeah?""We'll always be brothers, right? And brothers always look out for each other, no matter what, right?""Of course.""You promise?">Promise.>You can't.
>>5350633>PromiseI'm sure nothing bad will come of this. But we already agreed that's what's what.
>>5350633>>Promise.And then we fucking die.
>>5350633"No matter what," you say. "I promise." Shan smiles. "Okay, then, it's a promise. No matter what happens, we'll watch out for each other. When I become the boss, I'll have your back, and you'll have mine.""Sounds good to me. Just don't expect me to work too hard, all right? I'm not giving up my spot just so you can order me around," you say, gently punching him on the shoulder.Shan laughs. "Don't worry, Tao. I'll let you do what you want, as long as you've got my back when it counts."You feel a warm sense of pride that your little brother is growing up so fast. "Whatever happens, we'll face it together."Shan nods. "Together."
>>5350972Dragon's Eye Nightclub, Hong Kong199XTonightThings were so different then. How times change.The heavy bass of a downtempo electronica song pulses through the club. Dancers move slowly and sinuously like entwining serpents, visible in the darkness through the blue and purple lights that rove aimlessly across the dance floor. You watch them from your seat in the center of the VIP booth, and take a sip of whatever expensive liquor it is the bottle girl just brought over. The members of your entourage are around you, but right now they're distracted by feeling up the girls they've hooked up with. For this moment, despite being in the center of it all, you're alone.You've been hitting the club circuit for years, now. Every joint in Hong Kong knows who you are. When you first started, it was thrilling, and more importantly, it gave you something to throw yourself into heedlessly, an excuse to abandon your responsibilities.>And you haven't got tired of it yet! Girls, drinks, music, every night is a party!>But you're already bored of this life of excess. Isn't there something more?
>>5350978>But you're already bored of this life of excess. Isn't there something more?
>>5350978>>And you haven't got tired of it yet! Girls, drinks, music, every night is a party!No need to be the cliché 'unfulfilled by the party life' character.
>>5350978>But you're already bored of this life of excess. Isn't there something more?inb4 he's the Dragon of Hong Kong.
>>5350978>And you haven't got tired of it yet! Girls, drinks, music, every night is a party!
>>5350978>>And you haven't got tired of it yet! Girls, drinks, music, every night is a party!sure beats training and being expected to run a criminal empire
>>5350978>But you're already bored of this life of excess. Isn't there something more?Oops, all ties
>>5350978>Not tired of it yet!Hedonistic protagonist let's go. Fight, fuck, drink and fight and fuck again!
>>5350978>And you haven't got tired of it yet! Girls, drinks, music, every night is a party!Time to reinvent Drunken Boxing.
>>5350978And you haven't got tired of it yet! Girls, drinks, music, every night is a party! A lesser hedonist might have been afflicted by malaise by now, but not you. There's always some new extravagance to discover, some new diversion to indulge. You raise up the glass you're drinking to the light, seeing that it's full of some kind of pale blue liquid. "Hey, Benny," you call out. "What is this shit we're drinking?"Benny stops making out with the girl on his lap to peer at his own glass through eyes unfocused by alcohol. "Well, it's uh ..." He picks up the bottle with the other hand and squints at the label, which is written in a mixture of messy hanzi and English. "It's uh ..." He takes a sniff of the bottle, then looks back at his own glass again, then looks back at you with a clueless expression. "It's blue!"You shrug, clink glasses with him, and drain the rest of the blue stuff. It goes down smooth and fiery. One of the club girls walks over to your table, carrying a tray. At first you think she's brought a new drink for you to try out, but your enthusiasm plummets when you see that instead the tray holds a black rotary phone. You know what this means. Rolling your eyes, you gesture for the girl to put the phone on the table. You pick it up. "Hello, Frank.""You're supposed to be at the docks." The familiar voice of Father's right hand, cold and precise. "I'd ask if something happened, but I'm fairly certain that, as usual, you're simply shirking your responsibilities to drink and snort yourself into oblivion.""And I'm fairly certain that I don't care," you say. "Why don't you buzz off and let me enjoy myself?""This deal is important to the organization," Frank says. "More critically, it's important to your father. He expects you to be there to oversee things as a member of the family. If you continue to abscond like this, your reputation in his eyes will continue to suffer. He may eventually take my advice, and decide that you're no longer worth the problems you bring to us.""You think I give a shit?" You say, mustering some defiance. "I never wanted to be involved in the first place!""Yet you are involved," Frank says. "You may think that if you continue to wash your hands of the business, your father will simply ... let you go. Allow you to live out your fantasies of self-indulgence as you please. But as much as you pretend otherwise, you know better. Nobody as connected as you can ever leave. You have no choice. Or to be more specific, you have two choices. One is to become the man you're supposed to be, of your own volition and will. The other is to be discarded as something that no longer serves its purpose. Trash. Your time to decide is running out.">Try to get him on your side.>Make a crude retort.>Fume silently.
>>5352917>>Make a crude retort.
>>5352917>Make a crude retort.
>>5352917>>Make a crude retort.Fuck you, FRANK
>>5352917>Make a crude retortGo blow a gun barrel, you'll need it to throw me out.
>>5352917"Oh yeah, well ... well fuck you, FRANK!""Eloquent as always," Frank says. "Shape up and become the man you're supposed to be. Prove your worth to the organization, and to your father. Take the future that was built for you. Or you won't have one." A click as the line goes dead.You scowl as you slam down the phone, then gesture angrily for the girl to take it away."Fucking Frank," Benny says, "Somebody ought to pull that stick out from his ass."You lean back in your seat, still angry. It goes deeper than just being told off, though. Because as much as you hate that guy, he's got a point. You can't keep walking this line forever.You're supposed to be your father's heir, as much as you hate it. The drinking, the cars, the women, it's all to escape a life you never wanted, and find yourself stuck with. But maybe you have no choice but to live up to it.Would Father really have you killed if he thought you were dead weight, or affecting his reputation? You can't put it past him. As he's shown all too clearly, the man is capable of doing anything to anyone, even his family, if he thinks it's best for the business.If you got your shit together, you could figure out how to be a real successor. But is it worth it? Is it even worth living if it means becoming like him?>You have to survive, even if that makes you into someone you don't like.>Fuck that. You'll keep riding this train to the end. If it crashes, so what?>Maybe there's some way to take over from Father without turning into him.
>>5353023>Fuck that. You'll keep riding this train to the end. If it crashes, so what?I'm getting the sense that something happened to our brother.
>>5353023>Fuck that. You'll keep riding this train to the end. If it crashes, so what?Clearly Tao is insanely depressed about SOMETHING
>>5353023>Fuck that. You'll keep riding this train to the end. If it crashes, so what?Die standing than live kneeling and all that
>>5353023>Maybe there's some way to take over from Father without turning into him.
>>5353023Fuck that. You'll keep riding this train to the end. If it crashes, so what?Part of you just can't let it go. Isn't there some way to avoid looking at it like this? Isn't there some way to take over the organization while keeping hold of your humanity?That's what your brother wanted, back then. He wanted to take over from Father without turning into him.Look how that worked out.No. The choice is to become the devil, or become nothing at all. If those are your only options, you'll choose nothing. Ride the train all the way to oblivion.Before you can think on the subject further, something changes. You aren't sure what. But even through the haze of alcohol and cocaine you can tell that something is wrong. Those two men, approaching your table. Three more, coming from another direction. They're all trying hard not to look at you, but your chi sensitivity is still sharp enough to sense their bloodlust, all focused on you.These people are here for you, and they're here for violence.One of your bodyguards, standing a few feet in front of the booth you're in, steps forward holding up a hand. You try to shout a warning, but it's already too late. A knife has appeared, and with a quick stab it's plunged into the bodyguard's throat, cutting off whatever he was about to say forever.A woman screams. All hell breaks loose as your attackers pull knives and chains, your entourage jumps to their feet, and the crowd nearby scrambles away in fear. It's chaos.Lucky for you ...>You still remember all your kung fu practice.>You keep a Type 54 pistol under your jacket.
>>5353415>You still remember all your kung fu practice.Try as we might, that shit's ingrained in us.
>>5353415>>You keep a Type 54 pistol under your jacket.RENEGADE
>>5353415>You keep a Type 54 pistol under your jacket.Our thing was just "whatever works is whatever works, even if it's not a part of the style", right?
>>5353415>Remember kung fu practice.Funny as neutral special GUN is, I want to still know our martial arts.
>>5353415>You keep a Type 54 pistol under your jacket.
>>5353415>>Remember kung fu practice.Time to kick ass and eat dim sum, looks like we're all out of dim sum.
>>5353415>You keep a Type 54 pistol under your jacket.Hey, as long as it works
>>5353415>You keep a Type 54 pistol under your jacket.>>5353609Gun is a martial art and the idiot that disagree's as already been shot dead
>>5353941Firearms, like any other weapon, fall under the "Martial" part of "Martial Arts".They just happen to be extremely practical and easy to operate as opposed to traditional weapons like swords, bows, spears, etc...
>>5353423>>5353415>You keep a Type 54 pistol under your jacket.Changing to this
>>5353415>>You still remember all your kung fu practice.
>>5353415>You keep a Type 54 pistol under your jacket.We've thrown it all away, and lived a life of hedonism. Anything to do with honor or discipline has gone out the window. We're creating a Tao who's rejecting the life of his family... he'll be brought back into it kicking and screaming. He just needs some broken ribs to remind himself on how to make a proper comeback.Also.>"It's.... Its's uh... it's blue!"Very good reference.
>>5353415>You keep a Type 54 pistol under your jacket.Hesitation is defeat.
>>5356940How our blood boils!
>>5353415Before doing anything else, you throw the glass in your hand. It strikes and shatters in the face of the man who just stabbed your bodyguard. Then you go for your gun, the Type 54 in the fitted shoulder holster under your jacket.A man who lived with honor and discipline might insist on using only his kung fu against assassins. That man is some other guy. You'll do what it takes to survive. Firearms are pretty hard to find in Hong Kong for anyone who isn't in law enforcement, but for the privileged son of one of the city's top crime bosses, those restrictions mean nothing.A confused and chaotic melee erupts between your entourage and the first wave of attackers, but that still leaves several of them to come around the sides. One of them, crazy bastard, jumps up on the table in front of you and screams as he stabs down with a huge knife. You put two bullets into his chest, red splatters staining his shirt, the gunshots blasting your eardrums. He collapses on top of the table, crushing glasses under his weight.Two more come at you, swinging improvised clubs from sports equipment. You throw yourself backwards over the back of the seat, firing wildly in midair, managing to hit one of them before landing on your back behind the booth. The other comes racing around, raising his weapon, but you manage to roll out of the way before it strikes the floor where you were a moment ago. You fire up from the ground, winging him with the first shot and putting him down with two more. You manage to scramble up to your feet, and hastily reload your one spare magazine; you finish just as two more guys come at you, one from either side; you blast the one on your right, but the one on your left gets in close and and stabs down with a knife; you're just able to block the blow by shoving your left arm up under his wrist, but you still get a slash on that arm for your trouble. He's stronger and bigger than you; the knife bears down, you can't push it away; you stick the gun in his stomach and fire point-blank, twice, three times; the strength in his muscles ebbs, and you're able to shove him away and get some distance.
>>5357202An asshole swings a length of chain at you; you're backed up against the edge of a table, so to dodge it, you jump up on the table itself, then fire down, but miss; the asshole swings his chain again, but you hop over it onto the back of the booth chair, balancing on the narrow edge, and fire again, this time hitting your mark. But up here you're exposed, and it turns out two of these assholes brought their own guns. They fire, and bullets whizz past, one of them catching the edge of your ribs with a sting of pain and blood; you throw yourself to one side, diving from one booth to the other, firing in midair. You catch one of the gunners, but not the other.Your pistol is empty. You stare down the barrel of the gun, wondering if this is it, if your story is about to end here on this dirty nightclub floor; but something strikes him from behind on the head, and he falls to reveal Benny holding the bottle of blue stuff."Come on," Benny says, helping you up to your feet. "Let's get the fuck out of here." You wince in pain as you hold your wounded side with your free hand, looking around at the mess of bodies and blood and broken glass. The rest of your entourage is on the floor with your attackers. Benny is the only one standing. "The cops will be here soon, let's bail," he says urgently.>You're right, let's get out of here.>Hold on. I need some answers from one of these guys.>I don't care, the cops can't do shit to me.
>>5357205>You're right, let's go.>Grab any pins on the attackers you can see. If they are yakuza or triad, they should have some ID as such.This might be myth, but maybe it will identify their faction
>>5357205>Hold on. I need some answers from one of these guys.It could be any number of people who want us dead. Best we try and narrow it down as quick as possible.
>>5357205>Hold on. I need some answers from one of these guys.
>>5357205>>Hold on. I need some answers from one of these guys.Threaten his manhood with the gun if he's still alive.
>>5357205>Hold on. I need some answers from one of these guys.Bets on it being Dad?
>>5357205>You're right, let's get out of here.
>>5357205>Hold on. I need some answers from one of these guys.Steal their guns and weapons.We need more firepower.
>>5357205"Hold on," you say. "I need some answers." You stoop over the man Benny just hit with a bottle, who seems to be the in the best shape of your attackers, grab him by his shirt lapels and haul him up close. "Who sent you?! Who ordered the hit?!" The man is clearly out of it, and he's bleeding from the scalp, but he sputters out, "Don't know ..."You jam the end of your pistol into his groin. "I'm fucking serious! Want me to blow your balls off?! Tell me, now!""I don't know!" The man's eyes are going wide with terror. He tries to squirm away, but Benny holds him down. "We never saw the guy! We got instructions from a voice on a phone, it was fake, one of those voice changer things. It seemed crazy, but the advance money showed up in the dead drop just like he said. Told us to take out Tao Yang and we'd get double again."Fuck. You doubt this guy is loyal enough to sacrifice his balls for an employer. It could be real. Could it be Father? You can't put it past him to do this, but honestly, it doesn't feel anything like his M.O. If he wanted you dead, he wouldn't fuck around and hire these punks to brazenly assault you in a nightclub. He'd hire a professional, make sure it was done properly. That or he'd show his sadistic streak, pay off one of your entourage to do the deed. That's why you can never fully trust your so-called friends. Could Benny be in on this? You eye him with a sudden suspicion, but his worry for you seems genuine, as far as you can tell. Surely he could have just not hit this last guy with the bottle, let him finish the job.Could it be Frank? Seems stupid to phone you with veiled threats right before your assassins show up. Then again, maybe that was the idea. And the phone call could have served to confirm your location right before the hit. You're not sure, though. Frank has always disliked you, but would he really try to have you killed?"Come on, man!" Benny urges. Out front you can hear sirens. Cursing, you shove the guy back down on the ground and make haste for the rear exit. The cops won't be able to do shit to you, not in the long run, but some asshole who doesn't know the score might arrest you, and you'd have to call Father, and it would be this whole thing ... again ... better to just not deal with it. The club managers will let the cops know who was involved, and any chance of a real investigation will disappear.
>>5357769Out through the rear staff exit, into a cramped alley extending upwards past air conditioners and power lines, the night sky just visible beyond it all. You get some distance from the nightclub as fast as possible, navigating a series of back lots and narrow alleys, the sirens fading as you get further away. Eventually you emerge into a street full of small shops, rows of neon signs bright against the darkness, advertising noodles, coffee, liquor, dancing girls.You remember to put the pistol away, just before the people walking past notice. Even with it holstered, you must look crazy, amped up as you are, with your arm and side stained with blood. The wounds don't seem to be deep, but damn that one in your side stings when you move a certain way.You light up a cigarette. The lighter flame wavers, and you realize your hands are shaking."What should we do?" Benny asks, looking clueless.>I need to call Father, let him know what happened.>I don't know. We need to figure this out.>Who cares. Let's get a drink.
>>5357771>I don't know. We need to figure this out.If our dad has half the pull he seems to, he'll probably know by tomorrow morning. Let's get some ducks in a row first.
>>5357769>I don't know. We need to figure this out.Partying more can wait for us to not be bleeding out.
>>5357771>I need to call Father, let him know what happened.Yes i know son.
>>5357771>I don't know. We need to figure this out.
>>5357771>I don't know. We need to figure this out.Getting shot at kinda puts a damper on one's festivities I imagine.
>>5357771>Figure it out.And I would suggest another drink, but alcohol thins the blood and will make us bleed out faster.
>>5357771>I don't know. We need to figure this out.Get patched up. We got shot.
>>5357771>>I don't know. We need to figure this out.Not that we think Dad caused it... but we can't rely on him either. We're not exactly a loyal son right now.
>>5357771"I don't know," you say. The hand holding your cigarette is jittering, you try to relax and keep it steady. "We need to figure this out. Who sent those guys, and why? Do they have a backup plan? What are they expecting me to do next?""Well, they were just assholes from a rival gang, right? Probably wanted to get at your dad. Unless--" You can see the surprise on his face as the thought dawns on him. "Could he have done this?""I don't think so," you say. "He doesn't seem like he would hire amateurs, leave the job half-finished. He'd find somebody who would get the job done." He also loves to turn people who are close against each other, but you don't mention that part to Benny -- for better or worse, you've decided to trust him for now, and that would just complicate things. Benny looks relieved. "Then it has to be what I said, right? Some guys from the Triad or some other group, trying to send a message to your dad.""Would that really do anything, though? I'm sure Father would be broken up if something were to happen to me--" The sarcasm is thick in your voice. "But would it really affect his empire? He's not dying any time soon. If something happened to me, he has plenty of time to pick a new heir and get them ready for the position.""Maybe they didn't know," Benny suggests. "Just some dumbasses who went for what they thought was an easy and obvious target, the boss's son.""Could be." It doesn't feel right, but you don't have any other ideas. You're distracted from this line of thought by a sting of pain lancing up your side from the bullet scratch. You're starting to get dizzy, too. Smoking during blood loss wasn't a smart move, but you felt like you needed something to steady your nerves. "Benny, can you find a convenience store or night market or something and get me some bandages? I feel like if I went walking around like this I'd draw attention. I'll wait there for you." You point to a small park nearby, a square of concrete with some benches and trees."Uh, yeah, sure thing." Benny heads off.You sit down on one of the benches, rubbing your forehead. This has turned out to be quite a night. Taking a drag from your cigarette, you lean back on the bench and look up at the night sky, barely visible past all the neon signs, wondering what comes next.
>>5358263A motion at the edge of your vision makes you look down. Someone is entering the park, a man in a dark suit, carrying a briefcase. It's someone you recognize. Out of all the people who you could have seen tonight, this isn't one you expected.The man sits down on the bench next to you, placing his briefcase on the ground. "Good evening, Tao.""Wei. Haven't seen you for a while. Didn't expect it to be tonight. You know what just happened?""I have some idea." Wei glances over at you, looks at the blood on your suit. "How did it go?"You shrug. "I'm still alive. For the moment. What are you doing here?""I have nothing to do with the incident that just occured," Wei says, noticing your suspicion. "I'm here on unrelated business -- or perhaps it is related, after all. You'll have to find out for yourself.""So you're here on business," you say. "And you've got the briefcase. Does that mean what I think it means?" You can see from Wei's face that you're right. You tsk and throw your cigarette onto the ground. "The usual terms will apply," Wei says. "Ten thousand US dollars, in advance. A million to the winner, and the title of--""Yeah, yeah, the world's strongest. I've heard it all before." You wave off the explanation.You're well familiar with the Kumite tournament at this point, and the strange set of rules that govern it. What do you think about it?>It's a sick game, forcing people to fight each other.>It's entertaining in a fucked up kind of way.>It's straight forward and honest, unlike everything else in your life.
>>5358275>It's straight forward and honest, unlike everything else in your life.
>>5358275>It's entertaining, in a fucked up kind of wayIt's not like drink, women or blow. But there's an element of amusement in watching it. Sometimes even in entering it.
>>5358275>It's entertaining in a fucked up kind of way.
>>5358275>>It's entertaining in a fucked up kind of way.People beating each other to death for money is horrific- people doing it in a tournament is funny. Tragedy is the core of comedy.
>>5358275>It's a sick game, forcing people to fight each other.You only got one life so enjoy it to the fullest; don't understand why people would risk life and limb for a meaningless title like "the world's strongest".
>>5358275It's entertaining, in a fucked up kind of way. Though truth be told, you never imagined staring down an invitation yourself.That scumbag. He wants you to fight, does he?"What happens if I say yes?" you ask. "Do I get the envelope, or does it go to whatever son of a bitch got roped into this?""You get it," Wei says.You let out a hollow laugh. "Guess he doesn't hate me that much. That, or it plays into his hands if I win." You gesture towards Wei. "Hand it over. I haven't agreed to anything yet, I just want to look at it."Wei hesitates. "The rules say you have to accept before--""Shut the fuck up and give it to me."Frowning, Wei reaches into his jacket and withdraws a manila envelope. He passes it over without a word. You know that this holds information on your opponent in the tournament. The knowledge given out in these is supposed to be impartial, equal between all contestants; part of the courtesy package along with the logistics provided by agents like Wei. You also know that, in practice, it often gets used to tilt the preliminary rounds of the tournament one way or another, depending on how its owner wants things to go. Now that you've got the envelope in your hands, you hesitate. There's a sinking feeling in your stomach.Somehow, you already know what you're going to find inside.Slowly, you open the envelope and take out the papers. A familiar face glares up at you from the photograph. Older than you last saw it, with a thin dark beard. Haunted eyes that lost their optimism long ago."He's still alive?" You were never sure what happened to him. All your efforts to track him down or get into contact were futile."He resurfaced a few years ago," Wei says. "Seems to have made connections with Jason Carter's old organization. Stands to reason they'd have a grudge against us."You stare down at the photo. Shan stares back at you."Father never told me." A hollow laugh escapes you as you realize the circumstances of this impending reunion. "And he wants us to fight. Of course he does. The sick bastard.""Well?" asks Wei. "Are you in or out?"You pause to consider your answer, thinking over all the things that have led you here.>I have to settle things with my brother.>I have to find a way to fight back against Father.>I want to be in the tournament for its own sake. To prove myself.
>>5358836>I have to settle things with my brother.
>>5358836>>I have to settle things with my brother.Not for father, or to be entertained- but for my bro.
>>5358836>>I have to settle things with my brother.THEY JUST KEEP PULLING ME BACK IN
>>5358836>>I have to find a way to fight back against Father.
>>5358836>I have to find a way to fight back against Father.
>>5358836>Settle things.Brothers look out for eachother. Right.
>>5358836>>I have to settle things with my brother
>>5358836"I have to settle things. Not for Father, and not for some tournament. It's because ..." You can see Shan, thirteen years ago, looking up at you with that big smile. "... because brothers always look out for each other.""Can I consider that your verbal agreement to participate?" Wei says."Yeah. Bring it on. I don't care about what happens afterwards, but if it's a chance to see Shan again ... to make things right, somehow ... I have to take it.""Your call." Wei stands up and straightens his tie. "You know where to reach me if you need anything." He walks off, leaving the briefcase and envelope behind.You take a minute to examine the papers in your hands. First is the personal information and history. You skim over the early part -- you were there for it. It cuts off for a while seven years ago, when everything happened, then resumes two years ago, when he was first spotted in America.Since then, Shan's been seen several times meeting up with members of organized crime. Like Wei said, it's mostly people from what was left of Jason Carter's syndicate. Makes sense. Some of those guys would take any chance to cut your father down a notch or two. You wonder what kind of alliances Shan has made, and for what purpose. You wonder what he's had to do to survive this whole time.Your eyes stray back to the five-year gap that starts seven years ago, and the last entry before it. "Disowned by Tang family." A simple sentence to describe an event that changed everything ...Back then you still took your training somewhat seriously. Not as much as Shan, of course. With your talent you could coast by and still do fine. But it was still something you cared about, enough to put in some of the work.>[Upgrade: Dragon Style] You still learned directly from Father, the strongest man you knew.>[Add: Taekwondo] You trained under foreign teachers to enhance your footwork and kicks.>[Add: Street Fighting] You would wander the city and get into brawls.
>>5360834>[Add: Street Fighting] You would wander the city and get into brawls.
>>5360834>Upgrade: Dragon Style] You still learned directly from Father, the strongest man you knew.
>>5360834>[Add: Taekwondo] You trained under foreign teachers to enhance your footwork and kicks.
>>5360834>>[Upgrade: Dragon Style] You still learned directly from Father, the strongest man you knew.Specializing in our existing style is better.
>>5360834>[Upgrade: Dragon Style] You still learned directly from Father, the strongest man you knew.
>>5360834>[Upgrade: Dragon Style] You still learned directly from Father, the strongest man you knew.Versatility is a dirty word.Jason Carter is Jack's biological dad, I assume.
>>5360834>>[Upgrade: Dragon Style] You still learned directly from Father, the strongest man you knew.
>>5361167I'm guessing he's sort of a Geese Howard type, and Jack is Terry Board/Rock Howard. Ryou is Ryo Sakazaki, sister is Yuri. I'm waiting for the eventual military character. Probably some dude who goes AWOL after the tourney invitation.Or a Rocky type boxer/mafia thug/porn star.Dude Hungson. A man down on his luck, but also down to his knees
>>5360834Dragon Gate Tower198XSeven years agoThe familiar impact of the floor mats on your back. The familiar sight of the guan school's ceiling. Sometimes you think you spend more time here on the ground, looking up, than on your feet actually training. Especially when it's one on one like this. When Shan is here, he takes some of the heat off. When other trainers are here, they're too worried about hurting the heir of a big shot to really go all out on you. It's only when it's just you and Father, like this, that you really get your ass beaten down. He only needed two moves this time."Why did I defeat you?"Some flippant answers run through your head, but you think better of speaking them out loud. Not worth it. "I lost focus.""As you often do. Now, stand." It's a command, not an encouragement. "Again."Ignoring the pain as best you can, you get up to your feet and reassert your stance. This time it takes him three moves before you take a double palm to the chest and are sent sailing through the air. Small improvement, you think, before crashing onto the mats once again."Hmph. I've tried to teach you concentration and discipline, but it becomes clear to me that you will always be a creature of emotion. You are ruled by your feelings, and your peverse desire to consistently subvert what is expected of you.""Can't argue with that," you say, pushing yourself up to a sitting position and wincing as you rub the spot where you got blasted.You consider about bringing up that your younger brother is better at that sort of thing, but think better of it. Things have been on edge between Shan and your father recently. Shan has been speaking back to him more often, showing less respect. There was an argument, last week, both of them shouting. You don't know what it was about. But Shan hasn't shown up to practice since then, which is unlike him.Frustratingly, it leaves you to take the brunt of Father's attention. Shan had better get over whatever's troubling him so much and get back here, soon."Have you made any progress on the arts techniques I showed you?""Actually, I have," you say as you pick yourself up off the floor. Much like the rest of it, arts moves seem to come naturally to you."Show me.""Okay. Here's the one I think I've got down already.">Dragon Blast: A straight punch creates a swift midrange chi blast.>Thunderclap Kick: A jumping overhead axe kick that can chain or be chained with other kicks.>Dragon Rush: A short dash leads into a extremely rapid kick combination that pierces defenses.
>>5365739>Thunderclap Kick: A jumping overhead axe kick that can chain or be chained with other kicks.A technique that's built to be woven into combinations sounds incredibly useful. It also sounds like something we could build off of in the future.
>>5365739>Dragon Blast: A straight punch creates a swift midrange chi blast.Somebody's gotta have one of these ranged attacks eventually, right?
>>5365739>Dragon Rush: A short dash leads into a extremely rapid kick combination that pierces defenses.
>>5365739>Thunderclap Kick: A jumping overhead axe kick that can chain or be chained with other kicks.Nobody expects the one attack not named Dragon
>>5365739>Thunderclap Kick: A jumping overhead axe kick that can chain or be chained with other kicks.
>>5365739You focus up for this. Despite your mixed feelings about fighting, learning arts techniques is exciting. Knowing this kind of secret makes you feel even more above than plebs. This high-rise tower in the center of Hong Kong, the money, the fancy suits, anyone could have those; the knowledge of the secret arts of chi, now that's something.Opening your lower gates, you feel energy course through your body and into your right leg. This move can be connected to other kicks, but you're focusing on the basic form right now. A short jumping flip into a downward axe kick. Some call this the "Rolling Thunder," but your family has a special, more vertical variation on it that makes it easier to connect with other attacks both before and after.You try it out, performing it as best you can, finishing with a blast of electric chi at the end from where your foot would have connected with the target, creating a flash of bright light and crackling sound."How was that?" you say, looking at Father, but you can already tell he's not impressed."Are you performing in a circus? Or practicing martial technique?""I -- I thought that went pretty well," you say, confused. "I'm not sure what I did wrong.""Your technique is fine. Where is your killer instinct? Even in training, you must be focused on victory. Every thought must be focused on destroying your opponent."You're thinking over how to respond to that -- "I don't care about winning" doesn't seem like it'll go over well -- when the door to the training room is shoved open. Several of father's goons enter, men in dark suits and earpieces."What is this?" demands Father. "I've told you many times not to disturb --" He stops as one of the men hastily walks to his side, ignoring you, and leans in to whisper something. As he listens, Father's expression changes from annoyance to outrage. "What?! You're sure of this?" Without waiting for an answer, he strides away to the door, angrily pointing at you as he does so. "You! Stay here!"Father reaches the door where his other men are still waiting. He jabs his finger at two of them, then at you. "He's not to leave the room, until I come and get him.""Right," says one of the men. "Not to leave the room, even if you come and get him.""Until, you idiot. Until I come and get him." Father gestures to the rest of his men, and they follow him as he walks with haste out of the room towards the elevator.
>>5368079You're not sure what the big deal is. Some kind of security threat, maybe.You size up the two men guarding the door. One of them gives you a friendly smile.If you really wanted to leave, you don't think these two oafs could stop you. Something about this situation gives you a bad feeling. Maybe you should go after Father and see what's going on for yourself.On the other hand, maybe it's better to do as you were asked. You make Father angry all the time, as it is. Running off to follow a vague hunch when explicitly told to stay put would be disrespectful at best, and dangerous at worst, if there really is a security problem. >I have to find out what's happening.>Whatever it is, forget it. Not worth the trouble.
>>5368082>Whatever it is, forget it. Not worth the trouble.
>>5368082>Whatever it is, forget it. Not worth the trouble.Can you say "malicious compliance"?
>>5368082>Whatever it is, Forget it.>Beat up the guards though, either as practice or straightLets keep practicing. And disrespect the "People" he sent to keep us in check
>>5368082Whatever it is, forget it. Not worth the trouble. If it's so important to Father, he can handle it himself. Instead, you cross to the full-length windows and look outwards. From up here, you get a great view of the place, the lights and streets of downtown spread out before your eyes. Hong Kong is the place to be right now. Money pours in from international commerce, the music scene is blowing up, and the theater always has a new movie with bloody gunfights showing.The city hums. You can feel the electricity from up here. Everything flows, everything's energized.Once this stuff with Shan gets figured out, and the kid gets over himself and stops losing sight of his goals, you can hand off the organization to him and get out there. Power and money is for others. You just want to be out there in the neon-lit nights, seeing what this city has to offer.Some time goes by. You practice some of your moves, working on the timing for some advanced combinations. You try to cajole the guards into a little sparring session, but they politely decline, so instead you say a few things about their lineage and fashion sense before going back to training.The phone on the wall by the door rings. One of the guards picks it up, listens, looks at you. "It's for you, sir."Maybe this is some kind of explanation. You cross the room again and take the phone. "Talk to me.""It's Wei." You recognize the name and voice, a younger gangster among your father's suit-and-tie crowd, one of the few you actually know by name. "You should get up to the mansion, right away.""Why, what's going on? I was just told by Him to stay put.""It's Shan," Wei says urgently, but quietly. He's afraid of being overheard. "He went to a rival gang, tipped them off about the latest handoff. A mole we have in their ranks just informed us."You can feel a pit dropping open in your stomach. "Where is Shan now?""He's here, and so is the boss. I can hear him shouting. I've never seen him like this. I don't know what's going to happen. There might be blood.""And what do you expect me to do? Stop it?""I don't know if that's possible," Wei says. "But I know that nobody else could. If anyone can help Shan right now, it's you.">This is bad. I have to try to protect him, if I can. >Screw him. He fucked up, let him face the consequences.>I don't know what I'm going to do, but I'll go over there anyway.
>>5369911>>This is bad. I have to try to protect him, if I can.
>>5369911>>This is bad. I have to try to protect him, if I can.Bro...
>>5369911>I don't know what I'm going to do, but I'll go over there anyway.
>>5369911>This is bad, I have to protect himSorry boys, time to nap
>>5369911>This is bad. I have to try to protect him, if I can.
>>5369911"I'm on my way," you say, and hang up. You have no idea if you can get there in time, before things get ugly. But you have to try. You have to protect him, if you can.Brothers look out for each other.Approaching the two guards at the door, you say, "Sorry about this, fellas, but I really, really need to leave right now.""Something to do with your brother, right?" asks the guard. It's the one your father called an idiot. "Shame. Always did like him." He glances at his fellow guard, who shrugs and says nothing. "All right, we're not gonna stop you. Not sure we could if we tried. But it would be awkward with the boss if we just let you through. Guess you better make it look good.""Appreciate it," you say. "You want the face or the stomach?""Face, please," the guard says. "We both ate a big dinner at the noodle house." The second guard nods and pats his stomach."All right." You take a moment to try and gauge the right power level -- you don't want to blast these guys clean off their feet, but it needs to be hard enough to leave a proper mark, something to show your father they tried to stop you. You aim for about sixty percent power as you sock one in the face, then the other. They both hit the ground. "You guys okay?" you ask. The guards wave you off from the ground as they groan in pain. "Thanks for your help," you say, stepping over them to reach the door.Down the elevator to the parking garage. Into your car, a flashy sports car you don't know the name of, just picked up because you liked the look. Gun the engine. Out into the streets.Traffic's crowded. Another busy night in Hong Kong. You honk your horn urgently, bang your hands on the steering wheel in anxiety. Nothing helps. Everything's jammed up from here to the edge of the city.You aren't going to get there in time if you wait for it. So you start to brute-force your way through, ignoring lights, signals, and all sense of road safety. Cars scream past, horns blaring, as you come with inches of a horrible accident. At one point you even drive up on the sidewalk, honking madly as pedestrians dive out of your way and a table and chairs set out by a cafe gets turned into splinters by your fender.Up the hill to the mansion. Park. Slam. Up the front door. Four men there, Father's goons. They move to block your path. "Out of my FUCKING way!" you shout as you stomp towards them. Your energy strains and bristles at your gates, barely contained; an aura of electricity is probably crackling over your head and shoulders right now. The guards let you through.
>>5371851You find your father in one of the living rooms. The lights are turned off; the only illumination comes from a large television playing the nightly news, with the sound almost muted, and from the moonlight coming through the windows. He's sitting at a table, not paying attention to the TV. On the table are a glass of vintage baijiu, a fine liquor only the wealthy and connected can obtain; a weapons cleaning kit; and a dao, a classic single-edged saber. Your father is cleaning the sword, with a dark look on his face. He glances up as you enter the room, then goes back to his work. "I should have expected as much. You never could follow a simple order.""What have you done?" you say, an ice-cold feeling gripping you. "Where's my brother?""You no longer have a brother," your father says. "He is alive, but he is no longer a member of this family. Only a memory. From now on, you are the sole heir of the Yang syndicate. You can no longer pass your duties off to someone else in a misguided attempt at individuality. I will expect you to begin to act appropriately to your station.">You're a monster, you know that?>Guess that's that. Fly too close to the sun, you get burned.>What happened? How did it come to this?>[Attack him]
>>5371855>What happened? How did it come to this?
>>5371855>>[Attack him]Yeah, uh, if you break our bro's legs, then you get the same in turn, even if you are our dad.
>>5371855"What happened?" You can hear your own voice shaking. "How did it come to this?""The boy showed that he cannot be trusted. He was impatient to surpass me, so much so that he was willing to betray me, to betray our entire organization. He went to our rivals in the Nine Brothers syndicate, offered them a deal. He would work with them against me, and grant them territory upon deposing me.""That's --" Can that even be true? Had Shan's ambitions grown so great that he was willing to throw in with the Nine?"When I confronted him, he challenged me. We fought a duel. It did not last long. Then I delivered his punishment." He puts the sword down on the table. The naked steel dimly reflects the shifting light from the television. "Sentimental fool that I am, I could not kill him. Perhaps it would be better for us all if I had." He pours himself another glass from the bottle of baiju."But he's -- he's your son!" Your emotions are spinning wildly out of control, from shock to anger to disbelief and back around again. "We could have worked something out! We could --""We can do nothing, boy!" Your father's voice booms over yours. He knocks over the glass as he stands abruptly. The clear liquor runs in a thin line over the wood of the table. "The moment he decided to betray us, it was over. You cannot release a tiger back to the mountain. His fate is sealed. The organization is our responsibility, now, and ours alone.""But it's not honorable. It's not right! He's our family!""Listen to me, son." Your father's voice grows quiet again, and he fixes you with a piercing gaze. "Honor, family, pride -- these are things you must trade your very life for. No matter how proud or just the righteous act, they hold a secret shame. They have done things that were cruel, or heartless, but that needed to be done. If anything, the great men who have gone down through history are just the ones who did the best at covering up their own misdeeds."Your father steps forward and rests his hand on your shoulder. You're not sure what was the last time this happened that wasn't on the training mat."Tao. You have the ability to step onto the stage of greatness one day. I can help you to reach the places only the elites can dream of. But the first thing you must do is leave sentimentality behind. I know you and Shan were close. But forget about him. You'll have to make many sacrifices in the future. Understand that, and let him be the first."
>>5373549Hong Kong BackstreetsNowAnd that was that. You didn't hear or see anything about Shan after that. You asked around when you could, but anyone connected with your father had been instructed not to help you in that regard, and your own contacts never came up with anything.You also never found out if the story about Shan going to the Nine Brothers was true. You had nothing to prove or disprove whether they had really been in touch with your brother, only the information that your father supposedly received from an insider. The rival syndicate tore itself apart later that same year.Seven years, with no word. Until now.During that time ...>You resented Shan for the betrayal, and for ruining everything.>You never believed the story of what he had supposedly done. >You didn't know what to believe.
>>5373552>>You didn't know what to believe.If Shan did betray the family, it was probably because of his morals, not because of ambition. If.
>>5373552>You resented Shan for the betrayal, and for ruining everything.
>>5373552>You didn't know what to believe.
>>5373552>>You resented Shan for the betrayal, and for ruining everything.Ungrateful wretch couldn't just wait his turn...
I mean come on, what the hell happened to "together"?
>>5373552>>You didn't know what to believe.
Truth is, you don't know what to believe. If you had to guess, you'd say he did it, but there's no way to be sure. Over the years you've wavered between doubt and uncertainty, and resentment.What does it mean that he was invited to the tournament? Is he being given one last chance to prove himself? Is it a message to you, saying, "Shape up or I'll bring your brother back from the dead to replace you"?A sudden stinging in your fingers. Your forgotten cigarette has burned to ash. Scowling, you toss it on the ground and light up another one. Time goes by. People walk down the alley, enter or exit the shops. If any of them notice the man in the blood-stained suit sitting on the park bench smoking, they make sure to hide it.A pay phone on the street rings, its shrill tone cutting through your thoughts. You ignore it as best you can, but it's annoying. Who calls a pay phone? And at this time of night? Other than pimps and drug dealers, you can't think of anyone. Better to let it ring. Somebody will be along for it eventually.But the phone rings and rings, and keeps on going. You refuse to answer it, no matter how annoying the sound gets.Finally the man from the noodle shop comes out and answers it angrily. He listens for a few seconds, throws a puzzled look at the phone, then looks over at you and waves. "Hey, Mr. Thug! It's for you!"You realize what this means: somebody could have eyes on you, right now, placing you here. You should get out of here. But there's a feeling of inevitability about this. You cross the park to the pay phone stand, take the handset, and wave off the noodle man.You wait a few moments, gathering yourself, before holding up the phone to your ear. "Who is this? What do you want?" You say that, but you feel like you already know the answer, even before you recognize the voice on the other end."Come now, dear brother." The voice is different, changed by age and by trial, but familiar all the same. It's Shan, all right. "Is that any way to begin our little family reunion? Aren't you looking forward to meeting face-to-face again?""You know about the fight, then. Did you get an envelope too?" You look at the photograph again, trying to match Shan's new face and voice."No. Seems you're still the favorite son. But I have my own ways of finding things out, now. For example, I found you easily enough. Did you enjoy your present tonight? I got them for you, in celebration of coming together once more.""You're the one who sent those thugs who attacked me," you say, hardly believing it. "Trying to get rid me of before the fight even starts?""Oh, really, now. If those men had killed you, or taken you out of action, then you never would have been good enough to fight in the Tournament in the first place. I was merely testing your mettle. Seeing if you still had some scrap of skill remaining after dousing yourself in booze and cocaine for years. Turns out you do. Congratulations."
"You realize I was shot, right?" Trying not to make it obvious, you look around, checking the dark corners, searching for anyone who might be watching you. "That's a fucked up kind of present.""Yes, and? A few days of regenerative therapy and you should be in fighting shape, or close enough. You have been keeping up your chi exercises, haven't you? Even if it's only to heal yourself of a morning's hangover.""Actually, that's exactly why." "Then healing a wound like that should be child's play. Three days. I'll give you three days. Then it's time for our reunion. I've been trying to think of a suitably dramatic location. How about the rooftop garden on Dragon Gate Tower? It should provide us with an amazing view, don't you think?"This isn't how it was supposed to go. This isn't how it should be at all. Your brother is alive, he's here, he's talking to you, and yet you're planning to fight each other, maybe to the death. All because of him. All because of Father."Remember, three days. Meet me at the top of the tower. Or I'll come looking for you. And I won't be happy." A pause. "Anything else to say? If not, I'll bid you good night."Your voice untangles itself. "Wait, Shan--""Yes?">Did you really do it? Throw in with the Nines?>We don't have to do this. We don't have to fight.>What happened to turn you into such an asshole?>I'm glad you're alive.
(The name is a joke. I'm just a pal of the QM)
>>5375085>Did you really do it? Throw in with the Nines?
>>5375085>>I'm glad you're alive.Even if one of us dies in the fight, we gotta say it.
>>5375085>What happened to turn you into such an asshole?
>>5375085>I'm glad you're alive.
>>5375085>I'm glad you're alive.Tiebreak
>>5375085Did you really do it? you want to ask. Did you really throw in with the Nines? Did you really betray the family? Was Father telling the truth about what happened, seven years ago?But you're scared. Whatever the answer is, it'll shatter something you've always believed in. You can't bring yourself to ask.In the end, all you say is, "I'm glad you're alive.""We'll see how long that lasts." A click as the phone hangs up.You hang up the handset, then just stand for a moment looking at the phone. Seven years ago, Shan disappeared before you could say goodbye. Now you're finally reunited ... and this happens.Though you clearly recognized the voice on the other end, the attitude didn't sound like Shan at all. You wonder what he's been through in these seven years. Could he be watching you right now? What if it turns out he's more interested in revenge than this silly tournament? Could that whole speech have just been bait to get you out in the open? Some asshole is about to walk up and shoot you in the back? You're startled as, just as you think it, a voice comes from behind you. "Hey!" You whirl around to face them -- but it's just Benny, returning with the bandages. "Damn, what's up with you? You look like you've seen a ghost.""I have."
>>5378091You find a street doc to patch you up discreetly, then make your way back to your condo, where you collapse on the luxurious bed. You're exhausted, but your head is still whirling with thoughts, and it's a long time before you can get any sleep.The next morning dawns, the sunlight painful to your eyes. Over morning coffee and amphetamines, you check the newspaper and television. No news about last night's incident. Just like you thought, once word reached the police and the media about who was involved, they swept it under the rug as fast as possible.There's also no message from Father. You suspect that means things are going according to his plan. This is how he wanted things to go.You look out over the city, watching the traffic crawl far below, and thinking about what comes next.If Shan is true to his word, you have three days to prepare. How do you plan to spend your time?>Practice your fundamentals.>Try out a new technique you've been working on.>Track down your father. Get an explanation.>Set up protection for yourself at the tower, to shut down any funny business.
>>5378093>Try out a new technique you've been working on.
>>5378093>>Try out a new technique you've been working on.Relying on old techniques is good for a foundation- but the only way to catch someone off guard is to try some new shit.
>>5378093>Track down your father. Get an explanation.
>>5378093>Practice your fundamentals.
>>5378093You decide to try out a new technique you've been working on. Maybe you can catch Shan off guard with something he doesn't expect.You never did branch out and learn from other masters, and asking Father to train you for this fight would be awkward at best, even if you could track him down. So you're on your own for this one. Just as well, since you're hoping to be unpredictable with this, so a self-taught technique fits the bill nicely. This move is something you've been working on by yourself for a while, but just as a hobby. Until now, you never bothered to refine it into a useable move. No time like the present.Since the Thunderclap Kick comes in fast and high at medium range, you figured that something that acts similarly but hits low will keep your opponents guessing. It's a back sweep kick you call the Dragon's Tail, as a sort of joke on your family's obsession with naming things after dragons. You can perform it standing or after a short rush forward. Blasting lightning chi out through your leg right as you hit should give the move some serious impact.You find an unoccupied back lot and practice the move late into the night. The basic form comes easy enough, which makes sense, since it's a move you designed around the movements that feel natural to you. Despite the lack of practice, the simple version of this move should be useable now.You can feel that there should be a way to chain this into a double sweep, catching an opponent off guard after they block the first hit, but that would take more practice time than you have to perfect it. Trying to pull that off in a fight would be risky but might work in a pinch.No word from Father during the three days. Unsurprising. He's guaranteed to be staying informed of what's going on, but he won't interfere. He's set all this up, now he's going to watch it play out. What is his game? Is this some kind of test for you to prove yourself after years of slacking off? Is it a chance for Shan to earn some kind of redemption and return to the fold? Or is Father just a sick fuck who wants to see his sons fight each other to see who's stronger? Maybe it's all three.Before you know it, the three days have come and gone. You've gotten a decent handle on the Dragon's Tail, and the training has shaken off some of the rust, but you have no idea if you're really in fighting shape or not.Only one way to find out for sure.
>>5379940Late at night, you use your keycode to enter the tower. Before heading upstairs, you check the logs. Seems that Shan's old code was used just a little while ago. Somebody must have re-activated it, facilitating your little reunion here. Makes sense. Father clearly wants this to happen, whatever his reasons.You take the external elevator up, watching the lights of the city slowly get farther and farther away as you ascend. Your thoughts are racing, jumping from one subject to the next, but underneath it all you have one drive: to settle things with your brother.How beating each other up will do that, you're not sure. But it feels right. It feels like this was meant to happen. You have to fight, not for Father, not for the tournament, but for each other. If that doesn't make sense, then so be it. You'll do it anyway.The elevator reaches its highest point, and the door opens. You step out onto the rooftop garden. An elegant stone path winds past a willow tree, over an arching bridge that crosses a small creek, and ends in a stone courtyard in front of a traditional red pavilion.You almost don't recognize him at first, standing at the railing -- his back is turned, looking out over the city, and he's grown a great deal since you last saw him, you're almost the exact same size now -- but when he looks around, despite the changes of age, you can see immediately that it is, in fact, your little brother. All grown up now."So you came," he says. "I thought maybe you'd turn and run. You're hardly dedicated to the martial world these days. And yet here you are.""If it was someone else, I might have," you say."A battle between long-lost brothers. It's quite dramatic, isn't it?" Shan says. A dark laugh escapes him. >Reminisce about the old days.>Ask him what he's been doing the past seven years.>Talk about irrelevant things.>Get down to business.
>>5379956>Ask him what he's been doing the past seven years.
>>5379956>Reminisce about the old days.
>>5379956>>Ask him what he's been doing the past seven years.
>>5379956>Talk about irrelevant things.
>>5379956"So what have you been doing the past seven years?" you ask."Oh, this and that. You probably know I have contacts in Carter's old syndicate, now. I travelled to America, after that unfortunate incident. Father told us that people should fear us if we want to command authority, but back then I was too powerless to make them fear me. So I made them fear each other, and presented myself as the reasonable alternative. A few civil wars later, and I control what remains."I've also been training, of course. Unlike you. But I suppose that's business as usual, isn't it? You could have become something great if you had dedicated yourself to martial arts. Instead you're, what, Hong Kong's personal record holder for annual liquor and cocaine intake? You've always taken the easy road, while I've had to struggle and fight to survive. But it's made me strong. It's made me who I am. I've overcome my handicaps. Including the new one Father gave me."Shan steps away from the rail to face you. His right sleeve hangs empty from the forearm down."Don't worry," he says. "It won't be a problem. In fact, I've turned it into an advantage. I would almost thank Father, if I didn't hate him with every atom of my being.""So why accept the invitation?" you ask. "Why not go after him directly?""I'm going to beat him at his own game," Shan says. "You know that the head of the Kumite has to grant a request to duel from the champion.""You want to challenge Father again," you say. "Last time it cost you almost everything. You think you'll walk away again if you lose this time?""I won't lose to him," Shan says confidently. "Just like I won't lose to you." A wind picks up as he takes off his coat, revealing the stump of his severed hand. He holds the coat out with his good hand and lets go, and a sudden gust from the wind takes it, sending the coat whirling off the edge of the roof and off into the void, slowly falling towards the city. "Prepare yourself, brother."You can sense the power of his chi growing, waves of energy battering at the edges of your aura. He wasn't bluffing about training. He's even more powerful than you were afraid of. How are you going to start this out?>Go on the offense right away, try to start with an advantage.>Put your guard up. You don't know what's coming, but you'll be ready for it.>Stall for time while you come up with something unexpected.
>>5381382>Stall for time while you come up with something unexpected.
>>5381382>>Stall for time while you come up with something unexpected.Not quite drunken monkey style, but I like playing this guy as a renegade when it comes to martial arts.
>>5381382>Go on the offense right away, try to start with an advantage.I wonder if doing something expected might be the unexpected. Shan knows us. He knows we have a penchant for pulling some weird crap out of our back pocket.Or I may be shadowrunning.
>>5381382"So that's it, huh?" you say. "After seven years, no 'glad to see you, Tao,' no 'sorry I let you think I could be dead that whole time,' no 'how's life, how's the girlfriend, seen any good movies lately', just get straight down to it?" You're stalling for time. Instinct is telling you that, even with Shan fighting one-handed, taking him straight on is a bad idea. It's clearly what he wants, and giving him that would be playing into his hands. You need to come up with something Shan won't expect to start things off in your favor."You're stalling," Shan says with a grim smile. "Don't tell me you're afraid?""No, just trying to make this fun," you say, the thought seizing you as you say it, and before you can consider it you launch into action -- taking a step to the side, putting a wooden chair between you and Shan, you kick the chair as hard as you can, sending it flying through the air towards Shan, then immediately follow up with the Dragon's Tail, charging your foot with lightning as you hop forward and go low into a back sweep. The chair breaks against Shan's forearm guard (that chair was probably a Ming antique that cost hundreds of dollars, a small part of you notes), but the distraction was enough for you to get in close and attack where he's not guarding. The attack connects with a burst of electricity, sending a shocking jolt up Shan's legs and knocking him over with the impact of the blow.You follow up with a leaping attack, a jumping punch aimed down intended to finish off a downed foe, shouting as you descend -- if you could finish this off right now and put a swift end to this tragedy, that would be ideal -- but Shan is far too agile, and despite being knocked down by the Tail, he immediately performs an acrobatic maneuver to avoid your follow-up strike and get back on his feet."Impressive," Shan says. "Guess you haven't neglected training entirely." He pauses to brush some dirt off the shoulder where he landed, then takes up his stance again. "My turn now."Shan launches into motion, a furious burst of offense that has you hard pressed to mount a defense. Dragon-style kung fu has always emphasized kicks over punches, so the lack of a hand isn't as big of an issue as it might be with another style. Shan's also added kicks to his repetoire from other styles -- you see what looks like Muay Thai as well as western kickboxing. Blocking one kick after another, you're driven backwards. You're still slightly bigger than your younger brother, and if you could grab hold of a leg you could fire off a grapple, but so far he's been too elusive to launch any sort of counterattack.If you keep going like this, you're just going to get driven off the roof backwards.>Counter-attack with all your strength.>Twist and evade, use fast movement to keep yourself out of harm's way.>Plant your feet and prepare for what's coming.>Use a short-ranged burst of lightning to force him back.
>>5383259>Counter-attack with all your strength.
>>5383259>Use a short-ranged burst of lightning to force him back.
>>5383259>Plant your feet and prepare for what's coming.We haven't been able to launch a counter so far, and trying to force one is just asking to eat shit before we can pull off our own strike imo. Stand our ground.
>>5383259>Plant your feet and prepare for what's coming.Here's hoping training with father prepared us for eating hits.
>>5383420>>5383259>Use a short-ranged burst of lightning to force him back.changing to this
>>5383259Needing to get some space, you charge up all your chi circuits and shout you unleash them, a quick but powerful short-range burst of energy outwards. Shan's offensive barrage is interrupted by a shocking retort, and he's forced to step back and protect himself from potential follow-ups as he recovers."Not bad so far," Shan says. He shakes out his arm, discharging some of the leftover electricity. "Training is one thing, but it's worthless without the guts to stand and fight."Something occurs to you, a memory. A conversation on the mansion roof, under the hot summer sun. Shan saying that he would end your undefeated streak against him someday. "It took you long enough."Shan's eyes narrow. "What?""For a rematch. You said you'd get better than me someday, and you'd finally win a match. Remember? We used to spar, and you never won. Think this will be the time you finally beat me?"A flicker of something crosses Shan's face. Sadness. He quickly covers it up with anger. "If you think those memories mean anything to me, reconsider. I'm not here for some bonding moment where we put aside the sins of the past. You don't mean anything to me, Tao. You're a stepping stone on my path to getting revenge against Father. That's all.""If that's true, then why go to all this trouble? Sending thugs after me to test my mettle, then giving me three days to recover and prepare, and finally this grand meeting with a cinematic backdrop.""Can I help if I have a flair for the dramatic? My story of vengeance should have a suitable beginning. Now, enough delay. I'll show you what my training has brought me."
>>5385108Something has felt off about Shan's chi to you, ever since you first stepped out onto this roof. You thought it was just his emotional turbulence, at first, but the feeling has intensified as the fight went on, and you're realizing there's something more to it. Now, as an aura of black and dark violet begins to glow overtop Shan's shoulders and head, you see the truth for yourself. "Dark energy ...!""Yes," Shan says. "I've abandoned everything but anger and hatred, but it gives me power. Power enough to do this." He concentrates, and a shadowy hand manifests at the end of his stump. He opens and closes it experimentally, flexing the fingers of his phantom hand.Dark waves emanate from Shan, and you can feel the pressure of instinctual violence and rage battering at your own aura. Before you can get used to it, Shan launches into the attack, swiping with his shadow hand. You raise your arm to block the blow, but the ghost limb passes right through, sending a horrible sting of icy cold up your arm, almost disabling it entirely. You're forced to dodge backwards, realizing that any attempt to block the shadow hand is pointless."You see?" Shan says, slashing with his shadow hand's fingers clenched like an animal's claws. "Father almost did me a favor. Look how strong I've become!"Ordinary moves aren't going to cut it now. You have to do something else, fast.>Take him head-on, pit your arts against his>Use the environment for cover to protect yourself>Stay evasive while you observe the new technique for weaknesses
>>5385110>Use the environment for cover to protect yourselfJackie Channing time
>>5385110>Stay evasive while you observe the new technique for weaknessesWe /can't/ take this head on, and if it can go through our arm I bet it can go through any cover we'd find.
>>5385110>Stay evasive while you observe the new technique for weaknessesAlso keep chatting
>>5385110>Stay evasive while you observe the new technique for weaknesses
>>5385110>Stay evasive while you observe the new technique for weaknessesIf anime has taught me anything the dark energy is gonna have a big drawback, like draining his lifeforce.
>>5385110>Use the environment for cover to protect yourself
>>5385110You need to figure this out. If you can stay one step out of reach, keep yourself out of harm's way while Shan attacks, maybe you can observe something about this new technique for a weakness, spot something that gives you an opening.Easier said than done. Shan's offense is relentless. His arsenal of moves and styles has vastly improved since you last fought. And you can't block that shadow hand, only dodge and hope for the best. That leaves Shan free to make wild offensive moves that would normally be blocked and countered. All in all, it's a dangerous situation without a lot of options.Searching for any advantage you can think of, you keep talking even as you dodge and backpedal. "You're trying real hard to play the villain in this story, Shan. Your mysterious connections, your big attitude, your new powers. But I don't buy it.""I don't care if you believe it!" Shan strikes again, and you don't quite get out of the way in time. A bloody ribbon gets torn through your shoulder, a freezing numbness spreading through that arm. You grit your teeth against the pain and try to force that arm to work, but it just won't move. "Is that really why you've become this? Because Father is a terrible person? Do you really think consuming yourself to fuel your revenge is the best possible retort against what he's done to you?" You're running out of space to evade on the rooftop as your avenues of escape are cut off. "Stop talking and take this seriously!" Shan strikes again, splintering a chair you throw in his path. You barely dodge the follow-up blow by using chi to boost your evasion away, but that uses up just about all the energy you've got left in the tank."If you really wanted to send him a big "fuck you", you should live well, outside his influence," you say. "That would be the best revenge. Not destroying yourself for hatred. Not this.""I have no choice," Shan says, wiping the sweat from his brow. He's losing steam, but not as fast as you, who's out of condition. There are consequences to using dark chi -- using his negative emotions will burn up his life force to turn into fuel for his arts, but those will affect him someday in the future, if he has one. It won't have an effect on the match. The plan to outlast him isn't going to work. "This is who I am now. This is what Father made me become.""You didn't become anything, Shan. You're still the same scared boy I used to watch out for." You're barely able to breathe, but you keep forcing the words out. You're at the end of your rope. This was a foregone conclusion. You were never going to win. But the words keep coming. This isn't about stalling tactics anymore. You have to get through to him, somehow. "Listen to yourself. You're fuelling your chi with your own pain and anger over what happened, but it doesn't have to be this way. You're destroying yourself when all you need is a goddamn hug."
>>5386076"Shut up! Enough games!" Shan lets out a cry of rage to the heavens, and a huge explosion of shadowy flames bursts out from him, creating a ring of fire around you. No more escape or evasion. This is it. Shan charges his phantom hand, a swirling vortex of shadowy energy spiralling inwards and being sucked in like a black hole. "Time to finish this!" he shouts, and charges in.You close your eyes."You're just scared I'll finally you beat you.""Not a chance! Catch up, dork!""You bet I will! Just wait!"We'll always be brothers, right?""Of course.""You promise?">Accept your fate. Take the hit.>Don't give up. Keep fighting.
>>5386079>Don't give up. Keep fighting.I'm not about to let our brother go again.
>>5386079>Accept your fate. Take the hit.I wonder if he'll go through with it. Either way I'm invested.
>>5386079>>Don't give up. Keep fighting.
>>5386079>Don't give up. Keep fighting.
C'mon guys, we're not winning this. He has every advantage right now. Let's not go out with our brother as an enemy.
>>5386080>>5386079>Accept your fate. Take the hit.Changing to this. Our character is a dead man walking anyways with how he lives.
>>5386119>>5386135Cowards. If we give up then that just proves everything he said right.
>>5386149So what? He is right. Tao stopped caring about his life years ago. At least this way we don't have to go out fighting tooth and nail against our brother.
>>5386155Proving him rights means his current path is right. That fact you believe he is right means your vote is wrong.
>>5386156Proving him right about us, that we're a playboy who lost sight of martial strength a while ago, doesn't prove him right about himself.
>>5386159The way I see it is giving up on the fight is giving up on him.
>>5386166That's not the way I see it. Badda bing badda boom.
>>5386079In that instant, you realize.The old you would have never given up. The old Shan would have never wanted you to hand him a victory. Giving up on that, giving up on this fight, means accepting how things are. It means admitting that you're a loser, and believing that Shan has started down the dark road of a killer. It means letting go of how things once were, instead of trusting in a bond once shared.You can't do that. You can't accept that the little brother you knew is completely gone. If he's still in there, somewhere, he would want you to give it everything you've got.Lightning surges through your meridians. All that energy collects in your hand, a charged ball of electrical chi that contains all the power you still have, all your scraps of pride, all your forgotten ambitions, all your love for the brother you once had. And you shout as loud as Shan as you swing.Your fists collide. A massive burst of force detonates as the energies slam into one another. The explosion blasts you off your feet. You're sent flying, and crash into wooden column of the pavilion, cracking it under the impact, and fall to the ground.Everything goes dark.
>>5386266When you wake up, you're in immense pain. That tells you you're alive, which is good, although it also makes you wish you weren't. Almost.You put almost everything into that lightning ball, but a few tiny sparks of chi have regenerated since then. You circulate it through your back, easing the impact of that pillar a little, enough that you can push yourself up to a sitting position, gritting your teeth as your back protests the movement.To your surprise, you see Shan is still here, standing nearby, looking down. A troubled expression clouds his face. "I wanted to -- that is, I didn't --" He looks away. "My victory will suffice. It was not my intention to kill you.""I know you didn't." You had to believe that was so. To believe otherwise was to admit that the Shan you knew was gone forever. "You finally won. Took you a while.""I was a little worried you'd throw the match out of some misguided attempt at fraternity," Shan says."Hah. Almost. But I realized you never would have wanted me to, even now.""You're right. The brother I knew would never hand me a victory." A grim smile. "My chi isn't much good for healing anymore. I can't help with your injuries.""I figured. I still have some fumes in the tank. Enough to walk out of here, at least." You fumble with the arm that's in better shape for the pack of cigarettes in your pocket, take one out that's bent and battered but still useable. "So what now?" you ask as you light it."I don't know," Shan says. He looks lost. "All I could think about for years was getting enough power to face Father again. I planned to fight my way through the tournament, claim my right to battle the high master, and then if I somehow survived, I'd think about what to do about you. I didn't expect this to happen along the way." "Well, if you don't know ..." You take a moment to think. "I know a good noodle place nearby."Shan looks at both of you, your disheveled state, bloody clothes, bruises. He's about to object, then stops. Eventually he says, "Are you sure they'll let us in?""I think so. I'm pretty sure I own the place or something." You wince as you haul yourself up to your feet. Shan helps you up, as well as he can with one hand, and together you both limp towards the roof exit, and the elevator to street level. "We can dig in on a big bowl, and then you can tell me more about what you've been up to these last few years ..."
>>5386268TOURNAMENT ARC will resume September 24th.Visit the community discord for discussion and further updates: https://discord.gg/4p9mmauThank YOU for playing!