A/N: Special thanks to RealRemainder for proofreading this first chapter.
Chapter Version 3: Edits made.
Changed protagonists name to 'Jubei Hasashi'
"Shiden-sama, surely there cannot be anyone left now."
"I refuse to believe that, Kenji."
Standing atop the cliff side accompanied by his fellow ninja of the Mugen Tenshin – otherwise known as the Divine Phantom in the Mist, the white haired man grimly overlooked the burning village of their once neighbouring rivals, the Shirai Ryu – the Well Flow White Style. So soon that their villages had finally achieved peace with each other and had agreed on the only way to cement it, that this calamity befell them.
Shiden frowned when he immediately suspected the Shirai Ryu's other rivals.
"Could it be the Lin Kuei?" another Mugen Tenshin ninja voiced his thoughts.
"That's not important right now!" Shiden exclaimed as he suddenly took priority. "We must see if Hasashi's family is still alive."
Each in a swirl of ninpo energy the Mugen Tenshin teleported, or flickered, off the cliff…
…and reappearing just within the burning remains the Shirai Ryu village, now being introduced to the grisly sights within. Men, women and children – their bodies or just pieces of them, strewn about all over; nailed to the trees or impaled upon stakes arranged in groups of four that dotted all around the village. Shinden felt his left eye twitch, his training and his long years preventing him from breaking down at the sight of children not being spared such grisly fates.
"This…cannot be the Lin Kwei!" the same ninja replied, after swallowing the bile back down, never in his life ever bearing witness to such carnage. "T-They've…they'd never…!"
Shiden shook his head, gritted his teeth and composed himself.
"Spread out!" he ordered. "Any survivors…FIND THEM!"
The Mugen Tenshin ninja flickered out of sight, leaving Shiden standing there. He spun in the direction of the Shirai Ryu's Kashira's residence were and took off towards it, where he noticed the clouds above were beginning to gather. A storm would soon be upon them and it would make the journey back to his village more difficult.
'Fitting,' he thought grimly. 'Only on such a day a storm gathers.'
Bouncing off a nearby wall he reached up and landed on the nearest rooftop, traversing the other rooftops towards the large walled estate that served as the clan chief's residence. Landing within it's walls, he raised his left hand to shield himself from the heat.
"HASASHI-SAN!" Shiden called out.
He then heard what he thought was an infant crying. He entered the main building leaping through it's burning but still intact sliding doors, rolling and landing in the centre of the room. Getting up and running with such speed he previously thought he was never capable of he quickly navigated the burning, winding halls of the residence until he reached the family's private wing. He grimaced as he visibly struggled not to pass out from the heat.
Kicking the sliding door down he was confronted by the grisly sight of…
…a long black-haired woman in a grey kimono and with a rose embedded in her locks lying face down in a pool of her own blood, a sword sticking out of her back. Shiden appeared horrified.
'Where's Hanzo?!' he thought as he suddenly became enraged. 'Why isn't he here? His own wife and child…child?'
He looked around, frantically.
'I heard Jubei!'
He then heard sharp wailing and he turned back towards the corpse. He stepped towards it, then around to she had been shielding an infant boy that would not have lasted for much longer amongst the heat of the flames growing more violent around them. Shiden quickly, yet gently, pried him from his mother's hands. He then spared the woman one last glance before he flickered out of the building in time for it to collapse upon itself.
He appeared outside the residence cradling the baby in his arms, many of his ninja already waiting for him. They were startled to see him with a baby.
Shiden nodded, before he asked. "Anyone else?"
"No," one of the Mugen Tenshin spoke for the other followed by a headshake. "No mercy for anyone, not even the children."
Shiden looked down at the infant still crying in his arms.
"Let us be away from here," Shiden ordered. "We'll track Hasashi down later."
They then flickered out of existence; Shiden's last thought being…
'And find out whoever is behind this!'
To the south of the Shirai Ryu a mile away there was the village of the Mugen Tenshin. Both clans existed within the same mountainous region of Miyama, and they had repeatedly contested over settlement of the region; coming to blows many times over a period of several hundred years following the Shirai Ryu's sudden, almost unexplained arrival in Japan. At least until a month ago when the kashira, or chief ninja, of Mugen Tenshin and Shirai Ryu, Shiden and Hasashi Hanzo respectively, agreed that since both clans were still standing after centuries of conflict it was both providence and proof that they had fought enough.
And it was agreed that there was only one definitive way to ensure peace between the clans. And Ayame, Shiden's wife of many years, kept contemplating it over and over in her head as she gently placed their beautiful baby daughter, Kasumi, into her bassinet. The brown-haired, brown-eyed young woman stared out the window towards the growing storm clouds, silently praying for her husband's safe return and whatever fate had befallen the Shirai Ryu had turned out to be untrue.
"Has something happened to my little brother, Ayame-sama?"
She turned around to see her brother-in-law, Raidou, with his arms crossed leaning against the doorway leading into Kasumi's room. He was a large, bearded man whose muscled physique appeared impractical for a ninja, but he nonetheless garnered a reputation his natural talent in the martial arts, and for his sheer brutality labelling him as a 'demon.'
"Raidou?" Ayame begun, confused by his statement.
"It usually takes little over a quarter of an hour to be at the Shirai Ryu village and back here, correct?" Raidou explained. "It's been over an hour."
"Something must have happened, then," Ayame nodded.
Raidou turned towards the bassinet, smirking darkly.
"I would hate for my niece to have to grow up without her father."
Raidou turned his head towards the hallway to see Shiden standing there, a little worse for wear and holding a bundle in his arms. Briefly frowning at his older brother, Shiden stepped past him and into the room towards his wife.
"Anata," Ayame greeted her husband, stepping away from the bassinet, shocked to see his sweating, slightly singed form and was quick to embrace him, careful not to disturb the bundle he was carrying.
"Ototo," Raidou referred to his younger brother with thinly-veiled disdain as he watched him affectionately return his wife's embrace. "I take it the scout's report was true, then?"
"It was," Shiden replied, bitterly. "The Shirai Ryu has been destroyed."
Raidou snorted with ill-humour, "Heh…really?"
Ayame's gasped lightly as Shiden gently removed the wrapped cloth around the last remaining Shirai Ryu infant, revealing his peaceful, sleeping face. Raidou's smirk faded, where he proceeded to scowl at it.
"Is…is that?" she dared ask. "Jubei?"
Shiden nodded solemnly. Ayame downcast her eyes, sadly.
"His mother, Kana?" she then dared ask, emotion causing her to stutter a bit.
The clan head shook his head and replied sombrely, "There was nothing left of the Shirai Ryu but fire and corpses. And there was no way I was going to just leave him there."
Raidou chuckled darkly, "Of course not."
Ayame looked at the baby boy. She then gradually begun to smile sadly and gently take the Shirai Ryu infant from her husband and cradled him in her arms. Shiden and Raidou watched curiously as she begun to gently rock him. Shiden couldn't keep the smile off his face while his older brother just crossed his arms and looked away, rolling his eyes impatiently.
"Ayame?" Shiden affectionately referred to his wife.
"Well, Jubei was going to join our family anyway," she said, briefly glancing over at her still sleeping daughter before looking back down at the Shirai Ryu's last son. "And I always preferred that they should be introduced sooner rather than on the day."
Shiden nodded, "Yes."
Raidou snorted, "You really think the rest of the Masters will accept a Shirai Ryu demon to actually be living amongst them?"
Shiden frowned and turned his head towards his brother, "You really believe that superstitious rot? I will not deny anyone a place in the clan, their origins notwithstanding. There was a reason why we had sought an alliance with the Shirai Ryu instead of continuing to remain rivals…"
"Spare me," Raidou growled, dismissively waving his hand. "We should have wiped their cursed existence out years ago. I say we either end it's pitiful existence right now or dump it on the Hajin Mon, let Genra deal with it…"
Jubei suddenly wailed out loud at the tone of Raidou's voice; Ayame glared over at Raidou, silencing him, before cooing gently down at the boy before he could wake the girl up
"Let's take this someplace else, onii-san," Shiden addressed his older brother, hissing that last part out.
Raidou shrugged, Shiden brushed past him and out of the room. Raidou followed suit, before briefly pausing and glancing over at Ayame, whose attention was drawn to the boy in her arms, giving her a rather perverse smirk. She looked up, and he was gone. He looked down at boy in her arms and smiled at the sight of him…like a mother.
'How can the Shirai Ryu be called demons?' she thought. 'They look human like the rest of us.'
She noticed a tuft of black hair on Jubei's head.
"Just like your father," she spoke quietly to him.
And that his eyes were a deep jade green.
"And you have your mother's eyes."
Her eyes then darted towards the doors, and she smiled.
"I know you're there, Hayate."
She heard him sigh, followed by footsteps and his small outline through the rice door. He revealed himself to be a brown-haired, brown-eyed seven-year old boy.
He appeared guilty, "I-I overhead father and uncle…"
"It's alright, Hayate," Ayame said. "Come here, I want to introduce you to someone."
Hayate's eyes lit up when he realised that Kasumi was still in her bassinet, that his mother was holding another baby. He quietly stepped over to her, Ayame adjusting herself and lowering Jubei so that Hayate can see him.
"Who is he?" Hayate asked.
"This is Hasashi Jubei," Ayame introduced him, warmly. "Or just Gen."
Jubei turned his quiet gaze towards Hayate, the heir to Mugen Tenshin smiling back at him as he knelt.
"Where are his mother and father?"
Ayame downcast her eyes sadly, "They are gone."
He saw the sadness in her eyes, and immediately understood. He downcast his eyes, saddened by that knowledge.
"What's going to happen to him?" Hayate asked.
"He'll be staying with us," Ayame replied.
"You mean…he'll be mine and Kasumi's brother?" Hayate asked, already thinking about what it would be like to have a younger brother, but mostly weary of it.
Ayame appeared pensive, "In a way. As part of our clan."
She then stretched a hand and caressed the left side of Hayate's puzzled face.
"Would you like him to be your brother? He will need someone he can look up to, to teach him how to be a good ninja, and to be a good person. And I can't imagine anyone else other than you."
Hayate mouth was agape slightly at his mother's declaration of him as a role-model. He smiled and nodded.
Ayame and Hayate looked up to see Shiden return. Standing there in the doorway he smiled down at him, Raidou notably absent.
"Raidou?" Ayame queried.
His smile faded, "I reminded him who the chief was."
Ayame nodded, visibly relieved, "And your decision?"
Shiden appeared thoughtful, glancing over at his daughter Kasumi, "I'm deciding whether to allow him to be brought up within this house or to hand him over to the Hajin Mon. Either way he will eventually be trained as a servant of the clan, and quite possibly as a personal guard for Kasumi. That way they…"
He paused, as if trying to find the right words. He noticed that Hayate appeared alarmed. The Hajin Mon had always unsettled his oldest child, especially their master Genra.
"…they will always be close to one another."
Saddened, Ayame asked, "Should we tell him of his parents, his clan?"
Shiden downcast his eyes pensively, both his wife and his son's eyes fixed on his waiting for an answer.
"Do you think so?"
Ayame rocked Jubei gently and stated, "He will be owed that much."
Suddenly the sound of running footsteps on wooden floorboards were heard before one of the guards stopped in front of the door, panting and drawing the family's attention.
"Shiden-sama…" the guard gasped. "L-Lin Kuei…is approaching the mountain path."
The grandmaster stood up, his hand reflexively clenching into fists. Hayate stood up as well, moving close to Ayame's side.
"What?" Ayame sounded panicked.
"T-they're demanding the last of the Shirai Ryu! Sektor leads them!"
At least two dozen of the Lin Kuei's most deadly warriors were positioned within the largest pathways leading into the mountain and towards the village proper. Leading them was a Chinese man whose black haired was arranged in a short pony tail, and whose brown eyes appeared to be locked in a shallow, deadly gaze; he was wearing a black combat suit with light shoulder armour with a red sash running vertically and was topped off with a medallion bearing the symbol of the Lin Kuei. And he was quick to redirect towards the spot several years ahead of him where Shiden and several other Mugen Tenshin ninja flickered in. To the young man's surprise, they were not armed for battle, wherein he and his fellow Lin Kuei were armed and ready for war.
And for effect, it began to rain.
Shiden bowed politely towards the young man, "Sektor-san."
"This is not a social call, Shiden-sama," Sektor stated, barely disguised contempt behind the suffix. He then smirked, "Though, if you are celebrating the death of Hasashi and that of his damned clan you will find the Lin Kuei pleasant company this day."
The revelation that Hanzo too was dead down hard on Shiden, however he refused to let it show, "We mourn them this day. However they have been honoured by us taking in the last of them."
"And you are harbouring a fugitive of the Lin Kuei, Shiden," Sektor scowled. "Our Grandmaster has declared that in order to avoid animosity between our clans you must hand over the last of the Shirai Ryu and we will judge him ourselves."
Shiden just stood there, where he blinked a few times.
"Must this child pay for his ancestors' crimes committed centuries ago?" Shiden questioned, raising his voice.
The Lin Kuei all tensed up. Sektor balled his hands into fists.
"Their legacy must end, even you must agree," Sektor continued, voice growing more discontented by the second. "You lost many of your own people to them in the past."
"That was long ago, Sektor-san," Shiden replied calmly, which served to infuriate the Chinese assassin. "We know how to bury grudges. Obviously your father does not, and look at how well that has served him and the rest of your order so far."
He paused, taking the time to read Sektor's face and body movements.
"The Shirai Ryu clan is dead, that we agree on," Shiden continued. "The child, belonging to no clan, is no threat to you. He'll never know of the Shirai Ryu's history or even of it's own grudge against your order. I plan to make sure he is brought up to serve the Mugen Tenshin and only the Mugen Tenshin."
"Feh…" Sektor snorted, then turned his head and spat in disgust. "Pathetic. You're actually pleading for your life and that of your weak clan?"
He froze when he noticed Shiden was now glaring at him, as if calling him old was uncalled for.
"I'm pleading for yours," Shiden replied. "You vastly underestimate the Mugen Tenshin's strength and influence, assassin."
For the first time since his induction into the Lin Kuei, Sektor felt conflicted, "You'd go to war over one Shirai Ryu?"
"We had a contract with them," Shiden answered. "On our honour we shall see it through."
Sektor gritted his teeth and leered at the Mugen Tenshin grandmaster. He then relented, lowering his fists and signalling his men to lower their weapons.
"Go tell your father that if he wishes to harm the innocent he should remember: We have the will, the numbers and the support of many other clans to face the entirety of the Lin Kuei," Shiden stated, before raising his hands to catch an impulsive Sektor's fist between his palms before it made impact with his face, the Lin Kuei ninja having suddenly flickered in front of him in a heartbeat with intent to kill.
Both sides quickly reassumed their varied fighting stances as Sektor just stood there, teeth clenched in anger towards the older Mugen Tenshin chief. Before he had the chance to defend himself Shiden unleashed several straight jabs to his chest and gut, his last blow sending him flying back. He was, however, caught by two of his fellow Lin Kuei before his back hit the ground
"And we have the Torn Sky Blast," Shiden finished, slowly crossing his arms as if to suggest he wasn't impressed by Sektor's notorious lack of tact. "I suggest you let all that sink in for a moment."
The Lin Kuei assassins glanced at one another, which Shiden took for surprise and/or nervousness. Shakily standing back on his own two feet with his left arm across his chest as he felt a couple of bruised ribs, Sektor glared over at his men, before turning back to Shiden…
"You will regret this. It will bring a curse down on all of you, mark my words!"
…and with that the Lin Kuei flickered away, leaving Shiden and his loyal ninja standing there in the rain. Shiden smiled lightly, glad that there had been no call for violence.
One of his ninja stepped forward.
"Was that wise, kashira?"
"The Grandmaster of the Lin Kuei would not risk the destruction of his entire order over the very last of their hated enemies," Shiden explained. "However, that very last will grow up to serve our clan."
"You believe Sektor, about Hasashi's fate?"
Shiden nodded, bitterly, "The Lin Kuei would gain nothing by lying. Hanzo is dead."
The rain still came down in torrents as night soon fell upon the Mugen Tenshin village, and the only one still up within the Grandmaster's household was Ayame. She gently lowered Jubei into a shared cradle with Kasumi, the two of them sleeping peacefully beside one another. Once again she smiled warmly at the sight, tracing a hand over both of their heads affectionately.
Her eyes widened when she suddenly sensed another presence in the room, just behind her, leaning in to whisper in her ear.
"Don't make a sound."
"I'm leaving the village tonight, Ayame-sama," Raidou whispered, huskily. "I feel like you should treat me to something for the road."
Ayame tensed up when she felt her brother-in-law's hand on her stomach slowly guide down towards her left leg. She saw Raidou's right hand reached into the cradle, clenching it into a fist above their heads.
"And if you truly value the lives of Kasumi-chan and Scorpion's little jade-eyed bastard you'll give it to me."
A lightning bolt cracked loudly, and try as she could Ayame couldn't control her panicked breathing.
"R-Raidou…please…" Ayame pleaded quietly, tensing up. "D-don't…Shiden will…I'll…"
Raidou grabbed her roughly by her arm, hurting her. His right hand made a claw that seemed ready to grab the sleeping infants. Ayame closed eyes, a single tear being shed as she relaxed herself, a sign of submission. Raidou smirked triumphantly.
"Let's take this someplace more private, shall we?"
A/N: Well…that was dark. Never ended a chapter like that before.
So what do you think? Fair warning, things will get darker and eventually gory, as per Mortal Kombat tradition.
I don't like to think of Jubei Hasashi as an Original Character. More like, according to TV Tropes, an Ascended Extra combined with Spared By The Adaptation with a side order of OC Stand In. Come to think…well…ok he's somewhat original. I'll be making up his appearance, personality and quirks…and to try and steer him away from becoming a Mary/Marty/Gary Stu or whatever those overpowered, oversexed chick magnets are called…heh...