``Waza Technologies is the gateway to the future,'' began the tour-guide, a Japanese woman, with very little hint of an accent as she spoke English. She had rimless glasses, a lavender blouse, and black hair pulled back into a tight ponytail. A camera flashed as she walked in reverse effortlessly, holding out her right hand at a display showing an array of robotic prototypes of the past ten years. She motioned briefly at two guards, a very obvious men in a black suits and ties.
While one man grabbed the photographer roughly by the shoulder, escorting him out the way he came. The other grabbed his camera roughly, and ejected its memory card.
``I would like to repeat, photography is not allowed on building premises,'' the guide continued very sternly. ``With our research into synthetic limbs and cybernetic medical analogs at the forefront of the industry, Waza Technologies is set to...''
Bi-Han Leng knew her entire speech by heart, though, having taken the tour once a week for the past three months. Each time he attended, he wore a different disguise: once a business suit with glasses, another time a hooded jacket with jeans and a faux goatee. This time however, he chose a simple, blue dress-shirt, black slacks, and dress shoes.
He waited for the opportune time; right as the tour group took a swift turn to the right, he headed straight. He waited for a moment, ensuring that there were no guards in his wake, and swiped his fake badge along the detector.
As Bi-Han made his way down the chrome, marble, and glass corridor toward the lab cluster, he pulled out his smart phone, checking over the building plans one last time.
Two chemists, titrating one liquid into another noticed the reaction they had been hoping to achieve was happening at a significantly slower rate that had been previously observed. One of the two, a short, clean-shaven man, lifted his goggles and made his way toward the nearby thermometer to discover - to his shock - that the temperature and humidity controlled-room had dropped a few degrees. He shrugged as he saw the mercury fall even further as Bi-Han entered the lab.
``Sir, you'll have to leave,'' announced the chemist in Japanese as he walked briskly toward the intruder.
Without a a second thought, Bi-Han reached out and placed his hand on the man's face. The man pulled away in fear and shock, discovering his cheeks, chin, and lips, blue, cold, and hard. He tried to scream, but found it next to impossible to move the muscles in the lower half of his face. At the same time, his colleague noticed his hands stuck to the metal lab table, like a tongue to a flagpole on a winter morning.
Within a minute from his initial retreat from the tour group, Bi-Han had made it to his intended destination. Sitting behind a desk was an older man, in a white lab coat, pudgy, with bulging jowls, his employee ID tag identifying him as ``Dr. Gishi''
A sense of fear overcame Dr. Gishi's face as he saw the man standing before him. ``Anata wa daredesu ka?''
Bi-Han thought for a moment, his Japanese needed work.
Dr. Gishi, acknowledging Bi-Han's pause, asked once more, this time in English, ``Who are you?''
Bi-Han shook his head. ``Thank you, my English is better than my Japanese.''
Dr. Gishi took notice of Bi-Han's Chinese accent. ``I'm sorry, I don't speak Chinese. What do you want? Do you work for Kano? I told him, the surgery clears my debt!''
Bi-Han did not answer; rather he grabbed the doctor by the arm. ``One false move, and I'll kill you.'' Bi-Han headed out of the office the way he entered, dragging Dr. Gishi as he marched.
Almost immediately upon exiting the lab areas and into the tiled hall, Bi-Han was accosted by three guards. Standing in a line, they were dressed in the same black business suits he had seen before, this time, though, wielding hand guns.
``This will only take a minute,'' Bi-Han reassured the struggle doctor, before pushing him aside, under a glass table, knocking a vase onto the floor in the process.
Bi-Han stood firm, expecting a barrage of bullets from the weapons aimed at his chest. He took a deep breath and heard an ear-popping ``bang.'' But he did not move.
He ran at top speed at the three men. He jumped, punching at the man in the center square in the jaw, while kicking the man to his right in the forehead. The last man - dumbfounded that the intruder he had just shot was still fighting, much less standing - turned toward him, readjusting his firearm. When he tried to readjust his stance though, he found his feet stuck to the tile. Looking downward, he saw his fellow guards covered in a thin sheet of ice, frozen to the floor.
He shivered; whether out of fear or cold, he couldn't say.
Bi-Han reached forward, grabbing the last standing guard around the neck. There was an audible crackling sound as he gripped the man tighter. Then there was a shatter as Bi-Han squeezed his hand tighter still, staring menacingly into the guard's eyes as they slowly rolled back.
Bi-Han pulled his hand back quickly with a crack. Dr. Gishi, still crying under the table, and the remaining two guards, cold and barely moving, stared up at Bi-Han, a head and spinal cord in his bloody hand.
Bi-Han needed to only stare at Dr. Gishi who stood up, immediately, realizing now just how easily the man before him could make good on his promise to kill, and followed as he continued making his way out of the building. ``Who are you? Who do you work for?''
``I am Sub-Zero. And I am an operative for the Lin Kuei.''
Sub-Zero kept a tight grip on the doctor's wrist as he led him through yet another series of corridors that Dr. Gishi himself had never used in his decades working for the firm. And, within a few minutes Sub-Zero and Dr. Gishi were exiting Waza Technologies through a backdoor amongst at least a dozen trucks and trailers.
Noticing a group of guards diligently searching - no doubt for the Lin Kuei operative and his captive - Bi-Han kept a sharp finger on the doctor's neck as a reminder of how too easy it would be to kill him. Dr. Gishi kept quiet, and it wasn't long before the two had found their way to a plain-looking, tan sedan, driven by a well-built man in a red long-sleeved t-shirt.
Sub-Zero tossed the doctor into the back seat and hopped in right beside him. The car sped away.
While the car was going at a speed unfamiliar to the aging doctor, he steadied himself enough to sit on the old, corduroy seats. He looked over to see Sub-Zero reaching between two buttons in his shirt and removing a crushed bullet. ``Bullet-proof,'' said Bi-Han with a smile as he unhooked a few buttons, pulling open his shirt revealing a kevlar vest.
Nearly an hour went by. The man in the front seat turned his head slightly, revealing a small goatee and a ponytail. He began to speak to Sub-Zero in Chinese, ``I'm assuming this is the doctor, then?''
Sub-Zero nodded, without realizing that the driver had turned to look back at the road. ``He doesn't speak Chinese, but his English is decent,'' Bi-Han answered in Chinese.
``So he wouldn't understand me if I told him that I had sex with his mother last night, Bi?'' The man chuckled softly.
Bi-Han nodded again, ``I don't know who you'd be without your sense of humor, Chan.'' Sub-Zero buckled his seatbelt and leaned back in his seat. ``When's the plane leaving, again?''
``We're heading to the airport now'' began Chan. ``But only the doctor and I are leaving, you get to stay another evening.''
``The boss loves putting me to work, doesn't he?''
``Of course; you control the cold!'' Chan raised an eyebrow. ``If I could shoot missiles out of my chest, I'm sure he'd send me instead.'' He reached back, over his shoulder, and handed Bi-Han a folded up piece of paper.
Bi-Han, unfolded and skimmed the message before him. ``So, why the Hasashis?''
``They're Shirai Ryu,'' responded Chan, matter-of-factly.
Bi-Han recognized that name: the Shirai Ryu had been rivals of the Lin Kuei for as long as the clans' histories went back. ``Why just one family, though.''
Chan shrugged as the front door of the airport came into view, ``I wouldn't know; you know how tightlipped the boss has been since...''
``Since Tobias left.'' Bi-Han sighed: the Lin Kuei had been his family since he was very young, and to have one of his brothers-in-arms abandon the clan was an insult that still stung.
``From what I understand, the boss did it as a favor to you. The rest of the Shirai Ryu are getting taken out tonight; but we all know you'd want first crack at Sasori.'' Chan pulled up to the sidewalk outside the airport, parking the car and opening the door.
``Sasori?'' started Bi-Han as he exited the car, intent on switching seats with Chan. ``You know my Japanese is terrible.''
``Hasashi Hanzo.'' Chan pulled the doctor out from the back seat and spoke quickly before Sub-Zero could close the driver's side door. ``The Scorpion.''
Scorpion, one of the Shirai Ryu's most skilled agents, had crossed paths numerous times over the years. Both of their first missions involved going undercover in the American Embassy in Chengdu, China - a mission that almost failed due to a fight that broke out between the two in the executive bathroom, when Scorpion discovered that Sub-Zero was a member of the Lin Kuei. As the two ran into one another more and more, Sub-Zero began to suspect it was not a coincidence.
Bi-Han drove the sedan to a nearby parking lot and read out his assignment in more detail. While reading he couldn't help but reflect on how similar he thought he and his rival were: they were both the star members of their respective clans, and extremely skilled martial artists. It was no accident that the two had developed a feud. And tonight, that feud would be settled; one of them would die. Bi-Han shook his head.
In the Hasashi's living room was Hanzo's twelve-year old son, wearing the Shirai Ryu's signature, yellow dogi, and swinging his father's rope dart, careful not to knock down any of his mother's vases. It was a small room. It was a small home; the Shirai Ryu were not particularly wealthy. Hanzo watched his son from the nearby kitchen; imagining him, years from now, a gifted warrior like his father, when his cell phone rang.
The voice on the phone spoke quickly and before Hanzo could greet the caller. As he listened intently to the voice on the other end, his face dampened. His wife, a plain woman in a shirt and skirt, knelt down beside him, instinctively aware that her husband was receiving what couldn't be good news. An loud scream echoed over the speaker before the phone cut out.
``You have to leave now!'' Hanzo said in Japanese. He stood up in a fury, and ran toward into the living room. He grabbed his rope dart from his son's hands, ``Leave with your mother, now!''
Sub-Zero was in an alleyway outside the Hasashi's apartment building, unbuttoning his shirt, and placing it into a plastic bag. As fiery as his hatred for Hanzo Hasashi was, Bi-Han had too much respect for his rival; if he was going to kill his Scorpion, Sub-Zero would do so in his traditional, Lin Kuei garb. He quickly put on his uniform: a blue and black, sleeveless thing with silver trim, that covered all of his face, save for his eyes, and was adorned with the Lin Kuei symbol on the left-hand side of his chest, over his heart.
Sub-Zero breathed in heavily, his exhale visible and cold. He entered the building's main entrance and up three flights of stairs before he reached apartment 305. Normally, he would've snuck in through air vents, or utilized some form of a complicated entrance, ensuring that no one would see him until it was too late. This time, however, he knocked.
Hanzo walked over to the door and peered through the peephole, his adrenaline flowing like Niagara falls. ``Hide,'' he said to his wife and son. ``Hide!'' He placed his shoulder firmly against the wooden door.
Sub-Zero shouldered the door with a bang, but it didn't break. He tried again, the bang was louder, and an old woman down the hall opened her door and peeked out. Sub-Zero thrusted the door a final time this time it broke with a crack. And when he opened the door before him he saw nothing but an empty room.
He walked in slowly. ``Scorpion,'' he began, in English. ``If you can hear me, I'll give you a moment to put on your uniform. I'll let you die as a warrior, not as a civilian.''
Sub-Zero looked around the home, taking in every detail. Looking for things like exposed silverware, possible weapons. He turned on the faucet, and ran his hand under cold water. When he pulled it back, he was holding six sharp icicles, hard as rock.
He found his way to a back room, in just enough time to see Hanzo ushering his wife out the window onto a fire escape. Sub-Zero tossed a single icicle at a bedazzling speed, striking Mrs. Hasashi in the neck. She opened her mouth as if to scream, but no sound came out. She stumbled, trying to lean forward and make it the rest of the way onto the fire escape, but fell back, and landed on the floor.
``Mama!'' came a voice from the other side of the window. Hanzo's son jumped up from the fire escape and onto the windowsill, as his father readied himself for a fight with Sub-Zero.
``Keep going!'' yelled Hanzo to his son in Japanese. ``Keep going!''
His son just knelt to the floor and began cradling his mother's head, dripping in her blood.
``Tell your son if he takes one more step, the next one will kill him,'' said Sub-Zero staring his rival square in the eyes.
``He heard you,'' said Hanzo. ``He speaks English.''
Sub-Zero circled around the room, until he was closer to Hanzo's son than he was. He tossed two icicles in quick succession at Hanzo. ``If you'd like to put your uniform on, I'll let you change. I came here to kill the Scorpion.''
Hanzo looked down at his wife, now dead in a puddle over her own blood, and sighed. ``I am always Scorpion.''
Sub-Zero nodded and tossed two more icicles in quick succession at man before him. Scorpion dodged to side - one of the icicles grazing his shoulder, the other shattering across a closet door.
Scorpion, reached to his belt grabbing an oversized spearhead attached to a chain, chucking with surprising accuracy at Sub-Zero, stabbing him on the left side of his stomach. Scorpion pulled back on his rope dart, and began swinging the chain in his hands.
Sub-Zero covered the wound in his stomach, never once taking his eyes off his rival. Scorpion launched the rope dart once more. Sub-Zero more ready this time, stepped to the side, and the spearhead stuck itself into the wood panelling. Sub-Zero grabbed the chain and tugged. ``Come here,'' he exclaimed as he pulled Scorpion toward him by his own rope dart.
Scorpion fell with the heave of the chain, but quickly regained his balance, standing again on the floor. He ran at his opponent at full speed, his fist raised. Sub-Zero stretched out his hand, covering Scorpion's mouth. Scorpion bit at the palm in front of him; and when Sub-Zero withdrew it, Scorpion discovered the lower half of his face frozen.
Sub-Zero punched at the Shirai Ryu agent in front of him, hitting him directly in the chin. A light shatter was heard; as pieces of skin fell to the floor; much of the bone of Scorpion's lower jaw visible. Sub-Zero proceeded to strike his shocked opponent a few more times in the mouth, more skin flaking off as he did so.
Scorpion kneed Sub-Zero in his stomach's open wound, sending him backward. And the two began exchanging blows in close quarters. Scorpion's hand hitting the wall at one point, and Sub-Zero being tossed to the floor.
Scorpion placed his foot to his enemy's throat as he swung his rope dart - now retrieved from the confines of the wall - once more. Sub-Zero, however, was not one to always play fair: he threw his last remaining icicle into the leg of Scorpion's crying son.
Scorpion turning his head to the side with the sharp scream reverberating from his son. Sub-Zero took this opportunity to strike Scorpion's leg, knocking him to the ground.
With their position's swapped, Sub-Zero channeled all of his might, and grabbed Scorpion around the neck. Scorpion began shivering, as did his son - the tears streaking his face turning to ice as they rolled over his cheeks. And, within a half a minute, Scorpion lie frozen on the floor. Sub-Zero stood up and picked up his foot. He thrusted it downward onto Scorpion's icy neck, crushing and cracking it - decapitating Hanzo Hasashi.
Sub-Zero, content with the death of his long-time rival, turned now toward his son. He picked up Scorpion's rope dart from the floor, and knelt down. Staring the youngest and last Hasashi in the eyes, and with the spear head aimed at his throat he sighed. ``Let it never be said that a Lin Kuei warrior never shows mercy.''Sub-Zero dropped the spear head to the floor and walked out of the apartment, leaving the child scared, alone, and cold.
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