Dead Writing Days – A fight scene
Author's Note: My apologies for not updating "Gang Smasher", but I suddenly have a project for school to work on that'll require a sufficient amount of brainpower and creativity. I'm going to put the series on hiatus for no more than two weeks – to placate your palates, here is a short story from the rewrite continuity of No Peace under Heaven, as I decided to write it a bit more differently and not in a continuous fit of anger. So here it is, and I'll see you as soon as possible.
Off to the secluded writing alcove I go,
Trey "Satoshi" Mack
- A No Peace under Heaven Yarn
"Just who the hell do you think you are?!" Ashura's voice strained to form words within his blood-stained mouth. Pain stiffened his muscles and brought his body to a rough halt.
He was all alone, standing haggardly against an indomitable force of nature, one that wore golden armor and stood with the air of a conqueror about him. The force's eyes never blinked, instead they burned into Ashura with ferocious, unwavering resolve.
Sharply, the man in golden armor snapped his arm up, his hand formed into a knife edge that scorched with crimson red energy. His face suddenly snapped into one prepared to cause havoc at any cost. The hand came down with next to no warning for Ashura, whose body managed to step back an inch; if he hadn't, that strike would've split him in two.
It was, however, enough to knock Ashura backwards through a wall.
"God," the man who saw himself as an Emperor responded calmly.
He ignored the pain and the copious amounts of blood that stained the broken ground and rubble before him; Ashura cocked a fist and mustered enough strength to catch his enemy's attention, who was exuding enough killing intent to choke any normal man.
"God?! Even gods are not above reproach!" Ashura said roughly as he pushed himself away from the golden-plated man, who was moving to retaliate. The man planted his foot into Ashura's sternum, causing him to yelp loudly as the impact nearly shattered his ribcage. Ashura flew upwards this time, and he would've been blown through the ceiling of the temple, if not for the armored man suddenly appearing above him to overhead smash him back into the ground.
Ashura made an even bigger crater in the ground than before upon landing. He sputtered, trying his best to regulate his breathing, but came close to choking on his own blood. Ashura spat more blood from his mouth and struggled to turn himself onto his back. Miraculously, he accomplished his feat, feeling the weight of a thousand boulders on his chest.
A powerful grip clutched itself around Ashura's cranium, raising it and his entire body off of the ground. Ashura looked and saw that he was a few feet off of the ground, being carried brutally by the armored man, who spoke in a dialect he could barely understand.
"Worthless dog…I feel such a grand power within you but you neglect to use it! All your training but you fail to unleash your killer instinct! Amuse me! Give the Dragon Emperor some sport!"
Ashura grunted and struggled to break free but couldn't in his current state. He was reaching his point; he grew deathly tired of feeling weak, always at the mercy of someone much stronger than him. He wanted to win. He wanted to SURVIVE.
As his desire grew, a strange…sensation built inside of Ashura's body.
The Dragon Emperor jostled Ashura violently and continued his harangue. "Spineless coward!" He threw Ashura into the ground headfirst with a resounding SMACK. "You'll follow the same path as your beloved Shaoshi sect: the path of weakness! Masquerading as dragons but are mere toothless worms! I am the only one worthy of being called a Dragon! Anyone else who disputes me will find themselves on a path straight into the bowels of hell!"
On the ground, a few feet away from the site of battle, Nataku, a member of the Shaoshi sect, and Master Shang of the Pale Lotus sect lay with superficial wounds; they took the time to attempt restoring their Qi, which was spent in one fell swoop against the Dragon Emperor in an effort to prevent him from acquiring his quarry:
"He's got the scrolls; now what?" Master Shang grunted as he kept his voice low. If he had the chance, he'd reach for his Saber and continue the fight, no matter how strong their opponent got.
"We keep our eye on the matter at hand – helping Ashura before he's killed," Nataku dictated as he propped himself up against the wall behind him.
"What are you talking about? Ashura's power hasn't gone down; it's steadily growing!" Master Shang, despite being one of the youngest masters in the Pale Lotus, had never felt such a power grow exponentially; Ashura was receiving a beating but for some reason his Qi was still rising. "If he's waiting for the right time to fight back, the time is now!"
Nataku looked at Ashura, whose eyes were turning red as his energy restored itself. He suddenly had a horrible thought about what had happened one time while Ashura was training with them – he nearly assumed what looked to be the form of a Yokai, but was unaware of such changes… "I thought the Abbot sealed that power!"
"Insolent whelp! Know death from Raioh, the Dragon Emperor! Woe to the conquered!" Raioh lowered himself from hovering and walked over to Ashura. He raised his heavy boot and anchored it over the young man's head, preparing to cave in his skull with a single stomp.
The boot came down and instantly Ashura caught it, straining as he lifted it away from his body. "You talk too much, Raioh!" Ashura regained his posture but Raioh looked slightly delighted as his opponent was different than he was:
His canine teeth were now slightly longer, his eyes burned red, and his wounds were steadily healing themselves. Ashura conjured a plume of flame in his palm, intent on attacking Raioh with all of his newfound might. "Let's try this again, but on a somewhat different footing—"
Ashura's words were stopped short as Raioh drove a stiff fingered fist into his gut, sending him flying up and through the ceiling. The twilight of the day struck Ashura's entire body as he sailed through the air, trying to catch himself before he crashed into something dangerous. Ashura managed to land in a brush outside of the grounds of the temple, once a pristine compound that looked to once be the home of a venerable tribe, now was in ruins thanks to the initial battle against Raioh.
He walked back onto the temple grounds and could sense Raioh's massive energy near; it felt like a burgeoning tumor that was on the verge of rupturing. "He's much stronger now…" Ashura mused to himself as he walked back. "But then again, I'm ready for round two."
At that moment, Ashura saw three figures in mid-air, smashing into each other repeatedly; it was Shang and Nataku, fighting with Raioh while what looked to be a squadron of soldiers awaited below. Ashura spotted the soldiers second, but a loud bang drew his attention skyward once more, sending the figures of Shang and Nataku flying away.
Shang collided into a raised structure that acted as the rooftop to one of the ruined temple buildings and rolled back onto his feet. Luckily he retrieved enough Qi to sustain such an attack. Nataku landed a few feet in front of Ashura, cracked his neck, and spun into a shadowy leap, reappearing beside Shang.
"That was nasty. Where's Ashura?" Shang asked as he cracked his knuckles and shook the dissipating pain completely from his body.
Nataku pointed to where Ashura stood, observing the battle to come. He still had his changes applied, but his spirit was calm, from what Nataku felt. As he sensed more of Ashura's spirit, as he probed deeper into his Qi, Nataku could feel the sensation of a dark presence, something that kept influencing Ashura to fight, even though this could be a battle he can't win.
"You feel it too, Nataku?" Shang began, their minds briefly connected for a split second. In the realm of the Wulin, a split second is all it takes for two fighters near the same level of experience and power to get on the same page.
Nataku nodded. "Abbot Jiang of the Shaoshi encountered Ashura's power before, and I thought he sealed it with the Mu no Ken technique…but obviously, it's starting to bleed through. I'm afraid of what'll happen if Ashura takes grievous damage again." The technique that Nataku spoke of, the "Mu no Ken", is a discipline that requires absolute purging of one's soul; the power of nothingness is achieved as a result. Abbot Jiang of the Shaoshi attempted to seal away the dark presence that Nataku and Shang detected, and it may have worked for a time…but this lingering beast is determined to make its presence known.
"Let's try and end this in any way we can before Ashura gets a chance." Shang conjured his aura to signal that he was ready to restart the fight.
Nataku took a fighting stance, his aura kicking up like wildfire. He stretched out both arms and hands, energy sparking at both sets of fingertips. At his urging, two large illuminating balls of Qi churned to life, but the Master held them like a children's plaything. Immediately he jumped at Raioh, who still awaited a challenger to test out his new power.
Shang came up towards Nataku mid-flight, his own technique fully charged: the "Head of the Kirin", where his energy took the form of the majestic chimeric beast. "Use all of your power to stop him. We can't let him walk away!"
Ashura merely looked to the sky and let loose an uncharacteristic smirk. "In time," he said, lower than his usual tone of voice.
Raioh moved out of the way of the oncoming onslaught; Shang moved around to Raioh's side and swung a kick, one that nearly took the back of the Dragon Emperor's head. Nataku flung the balls of energy at Raioh, who dodged one and deflected the second; the sphere that was deflected exploded, consuming that small space of sky in a brilliant light.
"And what is that called?!" Shang questioned, mustering up enough of his aura to survive the blast.
"No name just yet, but I thought of something simple – 'Expulsion!'"
A mighty roar consumed the air, blowing away the explosion and the smoke. Raioh was unscathed, his now golden eyes burning with rage and excitement. "Finally! A challenge!"
Shang dashed towards Raioh and threw a flurry of punches at his face, which Raioh managed to dodge; the Pale Lotus master sped himself up with each attack and managed to scratch the Dragon Emperor's face. Raioh growled ferociously but did not see Nataku appear by his side to strike him with his technique, which bowled the Emperor into a temple structure.
The Emperor punched himself free and smacked a soldier who tried to help him up. Suddenly, Shang appeared from overhead to stomp in Raioh's face; the Emperor managed to evade at the last minute by rolling backwards and dashing at his opponent. Raioh threw a powerful punch crackling with crimson energy at Shang but Nataku pulled him out of the way at the last moment, blocking the punch haggardly.
Nataku flew backwards and Shang looked after him, only to take another crimson-powered punch to the face. Both Masters flew out of the temple structure, past the squadron of soldiers, and towards Ashura. They landed hard into the ground, kicking up stones and dirt as they slid to a halt.
"Stay down," Ashura said, cracking his knuckles. He now looked to be completely revitalized. "I feel much better now, and your powers just took a dive. This fight is done for you."
In an instant, Ashura broke into a dashing run to get within striking distance of the first soldier, who, along with the rest of the squadron, began their charge to finish the warriors who so brazenly opposed their Emperor. Once they fall, the Musou Empire will belong to Raioh. Ashura smashed one soldier in the face with a flying knee that sent the latter flying, delivered a flurry of blows into another soldier's stomach that served to shatter his armor and rupture his internal organs, grabbed two soldiers by the throat and smashed their faces together, and punched one soldier in the face hard enough to break his neck.
A soldier attacked Ashura from the air with a spear but he caught the weapon and threw it, with the soldier still holding on for dear life, into the sternum of another soldier, nailing the latter to a wall. The soldier that still held onto the spear found his skull crushed to pulp as he flew face first into that same wall that his comrade was now impaled to.
Not stopping for one second, Ashura broke into his run again to confront a hulking soldier, probably the squad leader; Ashura grabbed the soldier by both sides of his head and drove a powerful barrage of knees into the man's face, smashing it inward until it resembled the aftermath of a stampede.
"Sky Battalion: Steel Storm!" cried one soldier, who held his hand up to the skies. At his urging, a fleet of battle airships flew into Ashura's view and aimed their cannons at the young dervish of pain and death. Without warning the cannons were fired, unleashing a barrage of spear-tips at their target.
Ashura charged energy in his cupped palms to return fire, but he was a second too late; the spears hit their target, exploding upon impact. The tips were laced with gunpowder. Ashura let loose an unearthly howl as the spears perforated his body, knocking him backwards to the entrance of the temple grounds.
When the barrage finished, Ashura's body was pierced with spears and blades, but still, he lived and stood. Ashura's eyes were burning with rage and fury; it was his anger – or rather, the urging of whatever presence lurked within the young man's subconscious – that kept him on his feet.
Raioh looked on and laughed as victory seemed certain. "The reign of the Dragon Emperor begins with a brutal death! FINISH HIM!"
The Sky Battalion continued their assault, and soldiers switched to their projectile weaponry to open fire. More pain came but Ashura ignored it; he ripped the spears from his body as soon as they stabbed their way into his flesh and snapped himself into a blinding dash, charging headfirst at the army. He smashed his fist into another hulking soldier's face, shattering every inch of bone in the warrior's face before sending his corpse flying; it spun out of control and bowled into more soldiers, breaking limbs and armor upon impact.
Ashura grabbed one soldier and with his tremendous strength, tore the man in two while bellowing a bestial roar. As he turned to continue fighting, one of the soldier behemoths was in the middle of a swing from his massive sword; Ashura was struck by the blade, the blunt force trauma sending him into a twirling flight backwards. The young warrior consumed by rage quickly took to his feet, and prevented the soldier from attacking once more by yanking his sword away, the man's arms coming along with the blade. Ashura bounced into the air and shoved the blade deep into the sternum of another soldier as he came down.
He shot himself into the air again, aiming himself at one of the airships that was preparing for a third steel-tipped barrage; instantly Ashura crashed through one of the ships, causing it to explode in spectacular fashion. As he removed himself from the explosion, Ashura immediately conjured energy in his palms, forming a gigantic sphere of power that steadily grew by the moment. As it reached the size of a star that nearly blanked out the setting sun, Ashura instantly compressed it into his palm.
"I'm ending this now! Nagareboshi! (Falling Star)" Ashura unleashed a massive blast, the energy erupting from his outstretched palm; it tore its way through air and space, spelling doom for the rest of the squadron.
Nataku looked up and saw the energy blast rocketing towards the ground. "What is he doing?! He'll blow us all to hell!" Nataku sprung up, ignoring his wounds, and dragged Shang a few hundred yards away in a single leap.
The blast struck the ground, covering the area in a literal flash of light. The shockwave alone was enough to bring down the airships, causing them to crash into each other and explode minutes later. Ashura descended to the ground, feeling the sudden surge of energy leave his body. Beads of sweat formed on his brow as he came to land roughly on the only rooftop still standing properly.
"I still don't know what the hell that was, but I took that bastard down—What?!" Ashura's face grew into a horrified look as Raioh was standing in the middle of the courtyard, holding his energy blast. Behind him, he was joined by the warriors he saw once before, his so-called "Fangs of the Dragon"; they knelt behind him while Raioh held Ashura's energy in his palm like a plaything.
"The power of the scrolls is mine! I am a god – the true Dragon God!"
Just what the hell is this guy? I thought I hit him with everything I had! And he's holding it like it's a goddamned toy!
One of the Dragon's Fangs, a hairy, hulking man named Griffon, approached his master and bowed his head. "Shall I show this whelp how to handle power, my lord?"
"No; it's his energy. He should have it back!" Raioh tensed up to throw the energy back to its sender. Ashura instantly drew his arms back and cupped his hands.
He was thinking quickly on his feet as he called forth more of his Qi. "I only have enough energy for one shot – I'll blow it up and when the smoke covers the area, I'll get the hell out of here!" Ashura knew this was a fight he couldn't win.
Raioh launched the attack at Ashura, the sphere now tingling with red electricity. Ashura thrust his cupped palms forth and shouted, "Nagareboshi!" before firing a second blast. The two energies met in mid-air; in another instance, the blasts would've canceled each other out, but Raioh made sure to infuse his own killing intent as he sent the attack off to its sender.
The original attack forced back its counter, and both powers struck Ashura with the force of one hundred blasts of dynamite. Ashura was blown backwards and crashed through the final temple that still stood, effectively demolishing the property.
Ashura's body felt like wildfire consumed him; he couldn't move, but he still lived. After what felt like an eternity of stillness and pain, Ashura heard heavy footsteps coming towards him. A rugged hand gripped him by the hair and raised him from the ground, but he could do nothing to resist. Ashura's eyes saw Griffon in front of him while the other two members of the Dragon's Fang – Baraph and Durga – watched with approving eyes.
"You are a fine warrior, boy. You faced a god and still you breathe. The Emperor has plans for you – he wants you conditioned and prepped for his army. But first, he wants to see what you can do without your powers."
At that moment, Baraph, a man with snowy white hair and piercing blue eyes, stepped forth, and shoved his palm into Ashura's sternum, injecting a light blue force of Qi into his flesh. Ashura belched a breathless, soundless scream as his body felt like it was freezing. As the process finished, Durga, a middle-aged woman with long black hair and a tattooed face, delivered a powerful roundhouse kick that sent Ashura into the deep void of sleep.