Paladin Bounty ch5: Old Times Part 2

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#1  Edited By Donnieboy16


Nothing quite like a raging thunderstorm to begin one's last day on earth. Though that line implies that I even slept a wink over last night's "proceedings." With Kai's challenge hanging over my head like a bad omen, I turned what was left of my night into a wild five stages of grief, which included displacement filled Chinese dramas, broken trinkets, cockamamie plans, and a depressingly inevitable acceptance. When I left Unity, I thought that it would be so I could finally atone for what I've done, but maybe in a sense, it was just another version of me running away from what I've done. And even if I wanted to, I highly doubt that I could run away from this.

I had already thought it over, and the options weren't promising. Any meaningful assistance from Titan would be a no go with everything that's been going on the same with any underworld connections. And even if I did fight him, I doubt I could even capture him or beat him without doing the unthinkable. Half of my skills came from Unity, and unlike me, Kai has had his entire life to master them, combined with my stealth tactics, and he may very well be the best person in the world to collect the bounty finally. So maybe I should just let him, after all, if I died then not only do I spare Titan from more bloodshed, save the innocent lives in danger because of me, and maybe also save my friend Kai from going down the same path as I. This doomed path of mine is mine alone to bear, and Kai won't share her sister's fate.

So if this truly is going to be my last day on Earth, I'm at least going out prepared. Wiz has proclaimed many times she would happily be Brutus's dog sitter (despite crippling dog allergies proving otherwise), and any money owned by me was to be anonymously donated to my family. And any number of Genjo's subjects could help out with securing the bounty. The Titan side of things, though, was much harder. I wasn't going to leave it without saying goodbye.

I spent the entire day writing letters to everyone, from Morgan to even Alexandra and, of course, James. Though I had no idea what even to say, except its times like these where I wish I didn't take him for granted, and I wished I was able to see whatever good he saw in me. Overall, in a life full of regrets, I can safely say that Titan was never one of them, and it was nice believing for a little while that I live this life with others. Once everything was made accordingly, I headed out amongst the storm, to the place where it all began: Mikashushi's stir fry restaurant. Night and storm took over Yima as I snuck into our once sacred hideaway, with Kai already there.

Back at the warehouse, I didn't get a good look at his face amongst the bullets and flames, but here amongst the flash of lighting, I could see the cracks of his composure shining through. A face that once shined with honorable discipline now displayed nothing but scorn, regret, and anguish with every word striking a chord.

"I almost expected you not to show up, but I guess even the most venomous of liars can speak the truth when there's nowhere left to run," he said with spite.

"I deserve that, and so much more, but I'm asking you Kai one last time that Mei wouldn't want-."

"Don't you dare speak her name, you don't have the right. The only right you have is to die by my hands, no more gadgets, no more lies, no more masks, no more turning back," he said decisively.

With truly nothing else left to say, I followed his request and put all of my gadgets to the side. Once again, torrents of rain pelted the restaurant, as if the heavens themselves hated what was about to take place, and yet I kept moving, while my fractured mind clung to once happy memories that vanished with each stroke of lighting on my approach. I didn't even stop as I could hear Mei's spirit call out for us to stop. Instead, I put all my focus on the battle ahead as both of us assumed the same stance out master taught us. For a few seconds, it seemed the rain was our only witness, but when the fateful strike of lightning finally made its mark, our clash began in sync in thunder!

Kai started with a ferocious offense of fast punches, but my speed is just enough to counter each blow. From the intensity alone, I could feel that even the depths of fighting styles had changed. The righteous man that would wait for a definitive counter now was nothing more than a relentless tornado of strikes. Either way, his offensive wasn't perfect as I'm able to counterattack with a light shove that makes some distance though that was probably my biggest mistake as he effectively used a powerful sidekick! But I was able to see it coming just enough to employ one of Master Lee's most frustrating techniques: Gilding leaf. Riding the momentum of the kick, I offered no resistance as I safely rolled back into little more than an alert crouch. It didn't stay that way for long, though, as I can't even get my bearings straight before facing another oncoming kick! Still, though, I'm able to both dodge and stand up again, narrowingly missing by the slimmest of margins!

Though once again, Kai left himself open enough to move, I knew he wouldn't expect, closing in with an arm-triangle choke over his right arm! As Kai struggled against the hold, I held on all the tighter as I calmly explained.

"Lee taught you everything you know, but I didn't teach you everything I know."

The statement, however, only seemed to make him angrier as right away, he started to commit a series of elbows that loosens my grip just enough for him to escape! Realizing that any more chokeholds would prove useless, all I could do was struggle as best I can. Once again, we were in sync with the storm, every kick was a stroke of lighting, every punch another blow of thunder, and each block resounded in another hail of rain. All of it culminating in a full-on squall of wind as Kai delivered a flurry of punches even more intense than before! Even then, I still rose to the occasion, deflecting and blocking every hit like a fortress! But Kai proved that even the mightiest of defenses have their craps as amongst our flurry, he used another one of our shared techniques: Slip strike! In one fluid motion, Kai snapped back his hand to deliver one painful chop to the temple. The good news is that I didn't feel for very long as Kai immediately followed up with another pressing technique: Tiger Pulse! With his hands cupped together, Kai unleashed a potent palm strike that sent me crashing against the wall!

The force alone makes my entire body buckle and shrink, reducing me into nothing more than a defeated heap on the floor. At the very least, it was a blessing in disguise, with my head pounding, and my vision still blurry. I couldn't see my death coming. But what I did see was something I didn't even consider.

Because right in front of me didn't stand my former friend or even some poor soul that I've hurt before. Instead, I saw myself, Saytan: the venomous killer that dictated who lived and died on a whim. And it was that pivotal moment, with my life seconds away from ending through a falling kick, my mission became all the more clear, Kai will not follow my path, I will not be Aman. And I will make that a reality, I will give it 100%! Using newfound focus and strength, I avoided the kick just in time and countered with the fastest sweep I can muster! Kai manages to flip back just in the nick of time, with his anger growing all the more at my new proclamation.

"We couldn't save her Kai; I couldn't save her. And as much as I wish I could take it all back, I can't. But it's not too late, I can still save you Kai and if that means that I have to fight you to do it then so be it because I'm not losing anyone else!"

Kai's rage finally became incomprehensible as all he did was give a passionate roar as he gave the fastest roundhouse of his life! Yet the speed still fell on death ears, as it still was so slow that I had just fast enough to catch and hook the strike with my right arm! For once, bewilderment took hold over Kai's face, but that quickly vanished as a kick from his free leg separates us both! After that, he came back with a wrathful vengeance unleashing a bunch of frenetic hits that quickly force me near the wall. But before Kai could finish his combo with a deadly flying knee, I flip off the wall just in time! Not wasting even a single moment, I quickly threw him to the side, sending him tumbling under one of the table seats. And as I saw my friend waddle in his pain, I realized that the raging tempest was a glass canon.

Either way, he still got up with a bruised left shinbone. Still, though he continued his assault much slower as with each missed each, I could see more and more weak points pop up, to the point wherein a short barrage of moves, I disable his right arm and push him back! As Kai was knocked into the counter, his frustration finally reached his limit; he decided to break his code and squirt a bottle of hot sauce right at my face! Surprise and rage quickly flared up, but quickly faded away as even that didn't break my concentration. Instead, I focused all my senses and prepared myself for the next incoming attack! And when it does, I react accordingly, finishing Kai off with a crushing judo throw! And as I sensed that his fire finally died down, I once again made my ultimatum.

"I'm willing to knock you down as many times as it takes, Kai. Give up now, and let's talk about this, no more fighting, no more gadgets, no more lies, no more turning back. Please."

Even with my vision still blinded, I could still feel his entire body tremble in emotion. A part of me thought that he had finally seen reason, only to feel a twinge of bloodlust that saves my life, avoiding a shuriken that nearly takes my head! And as I flipped out of the way of the falling debris, I opened my still pained eyes, knowing that Kai was already gone, leaving me with nothing but more broken memories and another destroyed sanctuary. One final time the storm seemed to reflect my mood as the rain-softened to a pathetic drizzle. And as I decided to once again leave another haven with all my gear, I noticed that despite the clear opportunity, my sai remained, as if even Kai didn't think that he was worthy of it, but that was a theory for another day.

Hours later, I convened at my room more tired than I ever been. But before I enjoyed another happy night of crying myself to another sleep, another familiar flash took place as I decided to do something that I never did before. I didn't even bother trying to think about what time it was or even if he was busy. Instead, I push that all aside to hear a voice that brings one of the worst days of my life to a sort of happy close.

"Hey, Sarah, what's up?"

"Nothing much, James, just for once I wanted to hear your voice," I say, putting up the fakest of smiles.

Kai Pov

No matter how many times I see it, I'm still frankly amazed. Amazed at how their seemingly no depths to the cruelty of man. No, calling them mad would be a compliment the men I put down were nothing more than rabid beasts. And even with all my training, I still couldn't put down the worst of them all. Even though I knew what she could do, I still let her lies enter my ear, even when the truth was still right in front of me, the truth that-.

"It was you who killed me, Kai," said a voice all too familiar.

Every part of my body wanted me to turn away, but instead, I didn't once again see my sister Mei covered in blood. In an instant, all of my rages vanished as all I could do was whimper and sob, saying the only thing that came to mind.

"It was Sarah that still led those monsters to our home, not me."

"Yes, and you still gave them the location of our home and tried to kill yourself to make sure you can't live with what you've done. The demon may have been a liar, but you were a coward," she said in a painful truth.

And with that truth still hanging over my head, heart, and very soul, I picked up my battered body and once again reaffirmed my promise.

"I am no coward, Mei, and I don't care how long it takes. I don't care if I have to go through a thousand men; I don't care if I have to go down to her level because I know that when life finally fades from her eyes, my honor will still be intact. If I die, so be it."

And with the specter finally fading away with a smile to her face. After that, all I could do was lay back in my bed, and prepare for the day our paths will cross again.