"What the Hell is this? This place reeks of death. I've had its stench flow through my nostrils before, but this..."
"...Is beyond anything imaginable. I'm not sure how it worked out, but the clone, Gerad, and this girl are all fried. I can barely make out who they are. They really fried themselves here. It must've been a Helluva fight."
"Too bad we missed it, eh kid? Hmm. Odd, but it doesn't feel like there was much of a struggle here. It's like--they self destructed."
"Whatever you say, old man. I just hope the rest of our people are in better shape than these are."
"If you're done talking, we can go. I've found Ken and Ryu's scent. Got two other, unfamiliar ones. They're male and probably our others, Kyo and Iori."
Leona didn't follow him immediately. Now burned beyond recognition, she couldn't tell clone from the original, not that she could before, at least by their appearance. Of course, that wasn't what counted. What mattered was who he was, and what he symbolised to her.
A reminder of the fate of the Orochis. Even after all of this time had passed, the Orochi was still around. Although she hadn't actually seen him, rumors continued that Ryuji was still lurking around, even after all of this time.
She knew that Iori and Kyo also were around, and wondered about K'. He's a clone of Kyo, but would that mean that he's cursed by the same demons? Some, perhaps. Some of his own, more likely.
It also reminded her of her own fallings. She again recalled her brutal murder of her family, while only a little girl. Then, she thinks back to how her friends and teammates found her, and how she grew up. At KOF'97, and to some extent, she Awakened. Yet, with the help of her friends, she had been able to overcome Orochi's calling. Her life wasn't any easier, but it wasn't lonely, either.
Gerad wasn't so lucky. Now, he was dead.
"Rest easy, now. At least you are free from Orochi's Curse!"
This is such an ugly mess, but it comes with the job, if it can be called that. Guess not, though. Otherwise, I'd have to demand a lot higher pay for the type of trash I have to deal with. Things are always getting so hard, aren't they?
It's like I've been doing for years, fighting the beast within. We strive for our control, trying to make sure that we don't submit to the rage, yet knowing that there is only so long we can keep it at bay. Then, we either have to give into it, and let it cut loose, or go insane. I've been there, and had my share of doing both. Neither are preferred.
This is one of those times where I don't think I want to know everything that went down. They were trying to play god. There's a comforting thought. I've met my share of gods, I've met Thor. It's bad enough when those characters with enough power, claiming to be gods go around, proclaiming their god-hood, without bastards such as these trying to hope onto the bandwagon.
Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. There's a lot of truth in that, just ask the two psychos who are now a tad overcooked. My healing factor's good, but I think it would have had a real problem with that blast, not that I'm looking forward trying it anytime soon.
S'funny, but I hear Cable's about. May be making his first fight into one of these tournaments that we've had with the Street Fighters. Should be interesting--he usually doesn't care for those sorta things. Wonder what made him change his mind? Guess we'll find out, when the time is right.
"Free! Now, where is that dead man that dared attack me!"
"He, and his master, are dead, Iori. Wolverine and I took care of the clones. Bison and Krizalid took care of their own affairs."
"That makes things a little easier. I already have a lot on my mind."
"Kyo! Now, there is nothing to stop me. Stand aside, Leona!"
Iori fiercely shoves Leona aside, and dashes for Kyo. Kyo gets ready for Iori, his own flames build around him. Suddenly, his vision waivers. He isn't sure why, but he suddenly feels weak all over, and sinks to his knees. At the same time, Iori also falls.
"No! Not now! What is it?"
"Come on, little man. You didn't think you'd be able to run around like a drunken fool after spending time being a lab rat. You've been probed, and have some cute bandages on you. Same thing for Kyo. Your body's been put through a steam roller. Doesn't feel good, does it!"
"Damn you, Kyo!"
"Same to you, Iori!"
Both fall, as their breathing slows down, their hearts pounding in their skulls. For some time, Iori won't be able to get over how fate robbed him of his destiny to destroy Kyo. What was worse was that he couldn't take it out on those that cost him it...they were already toast.
"Where are those punks! They got me once, but I'm going to kick their asses now!"
"Pipe down, Ken! Leona and I took care of business."
"Is alive, Ryu. I saw her a little ways back. She's hurt, but she'll make it. Hold it!"
Too concerned for his wife, Ryu moved past Leona, in the direction Leona had indicated. However, he was also weak from their probes, and fell to his knees.
"Ryu! Hey! Hold up!"
Concerned for his friend, Ken ran after Ryu, over exerting himself as well. In a matter of seconds, he was no better off than Ryu was.
"Some people just don't learn."
"No, they don't. Shame too. You going to check up on Ralf?"
"Yes, I will. Then, I need to call HQ, to have them bring in some people to clean this up."
"Whatever makes you happy. I ain't in a hurry to talk to them. I just know Nick's going to be wanting to be in on this. Don't have a personal problem with him; just his business."
Sure enough, Nick Fury of SHEILD was there to meet them, as were Guile and Nash. Heidren, Whip, and Clark were also there. Each were helping the six get the medical attention they would need after their little war on crime.
After several weeks of cleaning up and reporting, they slowly got back to their lives.
"Oh Ken! I'm just so glad you're alive! Why do you always get into these things?"
"To paraphrase an old saying: 'Trouble is as trouble does.' Right, my friend?"
"Watch your mouth, Ryu. If I wasn't in such hurt, I'd show you a lesson."
"Boys! You just never learn, do you?"
"And you're an expert, my 'strongest woman in the world.' You're here, right along with us."
"True," Chun Li answered, grabbing Ryu's hand," but at least I'm here with you. Be glad we have such good friends as the Masters. It would be rather hard on us if both of us are out of work, with our family."
In another world, a lone man with red hair fights against petty street thugs. He is almost tempted to end it with the simple use of his flames, but changes his mind. Might as well drag it out a bit. As it comes down to the last two, he stares them down, smelling the fear in their body. The taste is like a fine wine. Then, one screams bloody murder, and falls. The second turns, only to fall flat to his back. Protruding out of each of them are long, shiny daggers.
"Miss me, Yagami?"
"It's been a bit, hasn't it. Planning on going into the next KOF...hope to see you there. I may even get to see my old friend, Billy. Oh, you'll love to know that the Kagura babe's been seen. Care to take a guess why! See ya!"
"There's only one reason I can think for Chizuru being back, unless she's just curious. Damn! I really hate that woman! Constantly keeping me from killing Kyo! Don't worry, friend. We'll meet soon enough."
"This game seems to be at an end. I wonder, were Bison and Krizalid behind this tournament? The ones where we met. Maybe, there's a different power behind it all! K' is still out there, and he ain't too happy to see me. That's his problem, not mine! Not like I don't already have enough guys coming after me! Iori wants me dead. Benimaru and I aren't on too friendly terms. Shingo, while friends, still want to prove his self. I heard that Goro's back in town, though. Maybe, it's time I had a talk with him."
The sun rises, and the new day is ready to begin. For Leona, it's already long past starting. Up about an hour before the sun even shone. She made a quick breakfast, careful not to disturb Whip. They were good friends, but there is still things she would rather handle on her own.
She felt at peace, in the small woods that surrounded the base. Free, and able to forget about her past. Able to simply be, without having to answer to anyone, or anything.
"Nice scenery, ain't it?"
"Nope! Ain't a reason for me to suit up, so why bother? It's an early morning. No psychos. No bad-asses wanting to devour the world. Just the simple calling of nature, and a gentle breeze to listen too. I'm not one to know if they sign or not. Been through a lot of strange things, so it ain't my place to criticise some soul that wants to believe. Sometimes, a belief is all that we have."
"A belief, or a dream. Something to strive for. To give us hope for the future."
"You're good. I can tell we'll get along great. Ever been on a Harley?"
Wolverine nodded, turned, and headed back towards HQ. Curious, she followed him. When she saw that he was referring to a motorcycle, she looked at him curiously. He tossed her a helmet, and told her to hang tight. Off they went, not really knowing, nor caring where they went. They were done with one chapter of their lives. Now, they were to begin a new journey, even if it lasted only a day.
To be free of our guilt, to enjoy our life to its fullest, is what so many of us desire. Sometimes, we find it in our friends that are around us. Sometimes, we find it in that special someone. At times, one may find it in a hobby, or even in themselves. Once we find it, we hold onto it with our life.
Jealously and selfishly...perhaps. But it cannot be forgotten that we are still human, and have as many flaws as we do perfections. We may not always realize them, and when we do, we may not be willing to accept them. That is why having others around, who understand this, is such a key part to our enlightenment.
Like everything, there is always a chance that things will fail. But to not only fail, but to continue to fail, repeatedly, shatters our delicate dreams for the future. This can lead to a downward spiral of rash actions and thoughts, sadistic attitudes, and in the end, death...sometimes, even violent deaths, not just of the Fallen Angel, but of the others around them.
Blame not the media and that around them? Where does it lay? The adults are responsible, not only for their own, but those as a whole. Many times, both must work, to provide for the growing expenses of families, and thus may not be able to spend the needed time for their children. They know of the needs, but the need to eat, to be secure from the elements, must be met.
The fires of life we play with all too often. How to properly express our pains, our rages, plague our existence. In the realm of fantasy, we escape it, and if we are lucky, may even discover ways to resolve our troubles. To feel anger, to feel pain, slowly melt away, to be replaced with relief and joy should not be so far away. With help of those around us, and with us helping in return, we can reach the horizon, and beyond.