"Ain' this some grand conundrum..." Spec's unwavering grin spread in sync with his hands, turning slowly between the heavily armed bodyguard-maids and Chang's posse. "Well, I ain' gonna tell you if I'm dead, am I, Bloodhound?" He bellowed throaty laughter and rubbed his hands together.

"You don't need your fucking legs to tell me!" Roberta aimed the shotgun at Spec. Yanagi slung his arm across his body in a fluid motion; a thin line proceeding a long, sharp object whipped through open air and punched into its wooden handguard. Buckshot soared wide, tearing by Jack.

He didn't flinch.

"No," Yanagi pulled the cord taut, "But I need him."

Roberta jerked the weapon back, and Yanagi let her. She sprung forward in zig-zags as the rope fell. Yanagi darted through the open space and pulled small stars from his belt, chucking them in a shotgun pattern at Roberta. She quickly sidestepped, stopping her momentum, and brought her shotgun to bear. Yanagi had already crossed the distance, gripping its fore-end and his lodged kama, pushing them into the air as she fired buckshot skyward.

"You're keen," He smiled, "But not too keen."

Roberta shrieked in anger, hooking her left fist into his head.

Spec stamped over open space as Fabiola stepped around Roberta. He swung a closed fist hammer down at her head. She backstepped, grunting and swinging her .30 carbine across and spraying bullets. Spec stepped in, a lead slug tearing through his left shoulder, and snatched the weapon's wood stock, ripping it from her hands and sweeping his right shin into her abdomen. Fabiola yelped, bowling across the tile into concrete walls with a loud thwump.

.22 caliber snaps echoed as Chang advanced and fired a staccato of mosquito bullets, biting pinpricks over his skin. Spec raised a massive arm and turned toward the man.

"Yer really jus' tryin'a piss me-!"

Jack came in low, twisting his right fist into Spec's torso and launching him into the air. Baki sprung over Jack's hunched form, both ankles spearing the giant in his face. Spec's head snapped back, bones cracked, and he smacked into the floor. His head thumped twice off the ground as he rolled, then stopped himself.

A mess of blurry vision showed two muscular figures flanking Spec's sides, the tallest on his right.

"Yehn.. Heh..."

He pushed himself up on one hand, lowly chortling.

"He's not gonna get enough, is he?"


Yanagi dropped low as her fist glanced off his crown, using the momentum to twist his right leg into her hip. They collapsed on the floor, shotgun and kama sliding away, but Yanagi quickly shot up. Roberta launched off the floor, slinging an uppercut as Yanagi slipped back, pulled his hands up, and lowered himself. Roberta jabbed his guard twice, twisted her hips, and planted her right heel at his center. Yanagi tucked his guard down and blocked at the apex of his forearms, jumping back.

"Not bad!" he joked, splaying his arms down and drawing two knives from his cargo pockets. They were long, pointed things that twisted into a triangular point. "New stuff, now!"

"AH, Fucking DIE!" Roberta yanked both machine pistols off her thighs and aimed forward, ripping full-auto at point blank. A slight smile covered Yanagi's lips as she shuffled left and right, leaping small distances as he shifted between rapid-fire lead.

Yanagi bobbed between her streams, the ethereal blur swimming through her hail.

Both Vz's ran dry, and Yanagi stopped his flow, standing still and posing both knives forward. A tiny sliver of crimson ran down his left arm and temple.

"Close," Yanagi grinned, meeting an angered, bewildered Roberta's stare, "But not enough!"

He sprung forward, Roberta backpedaling and bringing her left arm up, the tri-angular knife sinking through her forearm to the base. She snarled, cracking the right Vz 68's butt on Yanagi's head. He nodded, stepped back, and tore a long string of sinew from Roberta's arm.

It pooled crimson beneath her, and Roberta dropped that gun, heaving and growling.

"Fuck you, motherfucker!" She tossed the other subgun aside, reaching for her M79, "You will die!"

"Hm... No, I-"


Yanagi ducked, cutting himself off, a .22 caliber round having narrowly missed over his head and smacking the stone wall nearby. He snapped to Chang, who stood a few meters away with one of his handguns aimed toward the assassin. Chang brought the other handgun up.

"Much as I hate to say, old man, I need her alive, and with workin' arms too." He smirked, "Takin' freaks like you down's gonna be my priority."


Roberta ripped the grenade launcher off her back and aimed. Yanagi's eyes widened, and he dove - the bloop followed by a cacophonic ka-boom!, blowing several feet of concrete off the lobby's wall, chunks and shrapnel recoiling back at the duo, a haze quickly billowing across the floor.

Chang brought an arm up in defense as the concussion buffeted his jacket. "Some crazy bitch," He mumbled as the wave died out, scanning the smoke with both handguns.

Yanagi was nowhere to be seen.

Meta-terminator bitch dropped her grenade launcher and clutched the messy wound on her forearm, rapidly glancing left and right for the assassin. But he'd disappeared from the lobby without a trace.

After tilting back and covering his body, Spec endured blow after blow from Jack and Baki. Their fists and feet rained on him as he turtled. Dozens of painful, bruising thumps on his arms, head, back, sides, legs, and whatever else they could find. He shifted with each blow, trying to glance or absorb it as he caught what breath he could and regained the vision he'd lost.

Gunshots and furious howling echoed around him from that other fight. What's that old man doin'? He thought as Jack found an open rib, cracking it, emitting a pulse of pain that Spec quickly banished.

They'd beaten him across the floor for almost two minutes before stopping. Spec glanced up, peering over bruised knuckles with sore eyes at the brothers. Jack rubbed his hands slick with blood - his and Spec's, while Baki bounced on his feet and shuffled side to side.

"Damn, dude!" Baki huffed, "You can really take a beating, huh?"

Hee! They don' know the half of it!

Spec let himself collapse, panting and spitting out a long string of red-clear fluid onto the ground. "Ah, you boys got me good!" He hocked a cough, spat another wad, and sat back on his heels. "I'm bettin'... I'm thinkin' I'm finished!"

"Yeah? I'm supposed to believe that?"

"Please! I-I give, look!" Spec raised his hands and lowered his head. "I'm givin'! Jus' let me live, boys!"

"Not without the young master..." A voice snarled beside him. Spec angled up as Roberta backhanded him. The sharp sensation bit his lip, and another small cut opened in his mouth. "You fucking tell me where he is, bastard!" She grabbed his shirt collar, pulling the big man up, "For Fabiola, you should burn! You tell me, NOW!"

One of her arms pulsed a small stream of blood down her figure, slicking it with crimson. This visage was a battered and feral one; Spec gazed in awe for a few moments as her fist cracked across his cheek.

She kind of hits hard! He thought between punches and her constant screaming. Jack and Baki stood back, with Baki more surprised than his brother. Oh well. I'm all refreshed! I'm going to get'em now with my Apnea rush! How do I do it? Roberta's fist cracked his jaw again, and Spec audibly sighed.

"Okay, girlie! Lemme go! I'll tell yah! C'mon!" Spec flailed his arms up, turning away from her fists as she cocked up again. "Please, missus?! I don' mean no harm!"

"Like hell!" She pushed him on the ground and stood over, pointing with the bloodied arm, "Tell me! Now!"

Jack and Baki neared Spec's left, amassing something of a semi-circle as the girl he punched earlier slowly stood off her position on the ground. She uttered something unintelligible - weak - and as Jack glanced up, Spec found his opening.


As if Spec instantaneously crossed the distance to Jack, his fist burrowed into the man's throat, knocking Jack off his feet. Spec stepped forward, twisted his shoulders, and carried his next punch into Jack's gut. The second split-second movement catapulted Jack across the room, tumbling across tile and decimating what furniture remained across the left wall.

Baki moved in quickly, but Spec turned at the exact moment and carried his Apnea's momentum by twisting his right leg up into Baki's torso mid-grapple shoot. It launched him into a support pillar, shattering the marble and shooting dust through the lobby.

Sensing a danger from behind, Spec about-faced, closed his left fist and met Roberta's skull with a backhand. The woman end-over-end flipped backward until faceplanting into the concrete. Gunshots echoed from Chang's guns, pockmarking Spec's chest as he stood tall.

"Fuck!" Chang's guns locked open, leaving him to stare at a broadening, malicious grin crawling across Spec's face.

"Oooh, not had enough, chinaman? That's too bad! I was jus' havin' my damn fun!"

Spec planted one foot forward and shattered the concrete. He rocketed forward and, as Chang pulled magazines from his belt, burrowed his fist into Chang's chest. His sternum and ribs were fractured with sickening crunches, and the man flew back, tumbling across his architecture before landing. He squirmed, coughing blood and groping around him as Spec watched, laughing.

"Oh, what a treat!" He cackled, flexing his fists, turning to the backdrop. Jack knelt, gagging through a crushed throat. Baki clutched his head and moaned. Roberta sat up, but blood seeped through her nose and mouth, some dripping out her ears, and she stared blankly at the wall. "I have not found defeat! But soon, I may!"

An explosion deafened his ears, a surge of burning pain filling his gut and dripping down his pants. Spec doubled over, clutching a bleeding stomach riddled with small holes, oozing deep crimson.


He looked up, staring at Fabiola, who clutched her senior's Auto-5. She stood cockeyed, a limp leg dragging behind with most of her weight on a foreleg. Blood seeped from her mouth, ragged breaths catching her mouth and sending tiny droplets of crimson spittle down quivering lips.

"Piece... Of shit..." She gurgled, wobbling on one leg, swaying the shotgun left and right.

Spec forced himself to stand, banishing the pain from his mind. It ain't as deep as it feels, but damn! As Fabiola pointed the weapon at Spec again, he lurched right, the blast of buckshot narrowly missing him. Spec turned and bolted directly for Fabiola, losing her balance from that second shot.

Springing forward from his crouched spot, Baki spear-tackled Spec feet before he reached Fabiola. They tumbled across the floor, Baki working a punch into Spec's bleeding gut. He howled, kicking the boy away as they sprawled. Spec sprung up, growling through clenched teeth as he put one hand over his abdomen, slick with blood.

Baki knelt and looked up, eyes bloodshot red and breathing heavy.

"Okay, buddy! I'm gonna make you pay!"

"Like hell, kid! Heh..." Spec slowly stood tall, spreading his hands out, grinning through the pain, "Look! I've already stopped the bleedin'! Ain' none of you standin' a chance."

As Baki struggled to stand, screeching tires and thrumming engines echoed from outside. Black vehicles filled the front view as figures stepped out, clad in drab clothing and wielding machine guns; they quickly burst into the lobby. Columbians in jackets, tank tops, and drab fatigues sporting Uzis, shotguns, and other arms swept through the lobby with Abrego, sporting a large Colt revolver, strutting among them.

"Oh? A new party boy? Ain' this fun!" Spec turned and spread to the Columbians, "More fuel to the fire, eh?"

"Here's the fucking deal. We kill you and take these bitches, or you fuck off," Abrego sneered, drawing the Colt from a gaudy leather chest holster and aiming at Spec, "Understood, hombre? Lotta folk are comin' in for your head, and your bounty is high as hell."

"Cute!" Spec laughed, clapped once, and drooped his head. "But ain' nothin' killed me yet. You think you can, boy?"

"Fuck it. Shoot the bastard!"

Baki shook his head wildly, then collapsed, bringing his hands over his head.

A sheet of lead spit across the decimated lobby, tearing chunks off the wall and flooring, broken furniture reduced to dust, all as the Columbians sent their hail-mary. Spec sprung to his left surprisingly fast, dropped his shoulder, and smashed through one of the concrete walls. Abrego's goons quickly chased, bounding over the rubble and through the gargantuan hole into an alley.

Spitting on the ground, Abrego sighed. "Fuckin' great." He turned to Baki as he stood up. "You! Kid! You mind explainin' to me what the fuck's goin' on?"

Baki tediously stood, glancing at Abrego, then his men as they quickly grabbed Fabiola, Roberta, and Chang. Jack stood on his own, rubbing his throat and taking strangled breaths.

"The most bloodthirsty killers just came to your city," Baki began, looking Abrego in the eye, "And we came to fight them. Simple as that."

"That's some funny fuckin' reason, kid. And you ain't gotta gun?"

Baki shrugged, smirking, "I don't need to use guns. Besides, the little girl shot Spec with a shotgun and... He just walked it off."

He quirked a brow, "No fuckin' kiddin'?" Abrego asked in disbelief.

"Yeah," Baki nodded, "And he was still ready to kick my ass. 'Til you guys came along and chased him off."

Abrego glanced back at the injured, shaking his head. "Glad I arrived when I did. Come on, the Russian's gettin' us all gathered at the hospital for some meetin'. Boris'll want to meet you."

"Can I say no?"

Scowling, Abrego waved his revolver, "Not really, kid."

"Fine, fine. Let's go."

Baki had seen armed men protecting their hideouts and bases, roving as guards in the Military or various gangs in Tokyo, but nothing like this. When they arrived in lieu of the injured at Roanapur's hospital, men bristling with weapons of all kinds lined the streets, the checkpoints, and the front desk, and he even made out several men on rooftops, in the windows, and trucks. The better-equipped troops sported Russian weaponry and fatigues and worked in teams while the others mobbed as groups or singlets.

Regardless, the six-story building was crawling with armed men.

"Welcome to the hospital, kid. We're gonna cut the dicks off them prisoners, an' everyone here's plannin' everythin'."

"Cool." Baki gazed on as Abrego's armed entourage escorted them to the front desk. Nurses and bruisers intermingled, stalked the halls, and kept an eye on them on the way.

They went up an elevator, exited the sixth floor, and quickly found an expansive room with three hospital beds cordoned to one side. Three females lay in hospital gowns, wrapped in casts and bandages, stuck with needles and cathodes, with the larger of three in a neck brace and the smallest practically covered in gauze.

A tall Japanese man with flowing red hair stood calm at the back end. He was wearing a surgeon's garb stained with sparse red splotches and offered a small smile. His figure burst at the seams of his garment but shifted perfectly with every movement. Kureha stripped blue gloves off his hands while speaking.

"Baki! I would say it's a pleasure, but these circumstances are anything but."

"Kureha?" Baki balked, "They brought you out here?"

The genius surgeon shrugged, glancing at the three bedridden women, "Many unnatural things occur in this place. It's a lot like home."

"You got that right."

"Okay," Abrego clapped, sauntering beside Kureha, "Thanks for the work, Doc, but we got four more in the ER that'll need the magic."

Kureha nodded, "Of course. Farewell, Baki. I suspect we'll meet again soon."

After Kureha left, Abrego sighed, rubbing the bridge of his nose. Baki noted that the nearly empty, windowless room sported more seats opposite the beds, pressed against the wall.

"Alright kid, listen up," Abrego waved to the immobile women, "Right here's three'a the baddest ladies in Roanapur, an' downstairs is some same-same shit. Those prisioneros bastardos running around're makin' things real difficult around here. Council held an' emergency meetin' while Chang grabbed you boys. We pulled some bigwigs from the underworld comin' to Roanapur to deal with 'em. Mercs, gangsters, hitmen, you name it an' we're gettin' them out here. Some people are even takin' interest and comin' on goodwill or somethin'. You're part'a this, for sure, and far as we can tell you an' your brother got the biggest cahones out all the pussies comin' out, get me?"

Baki tilted his head, "So... We're part of, like, a task force?"

"Si. You and your freak brother are gonna lead it, too. The Italians and us're handlin' funds, while Hotel Moscow gets transportation figured out."

"Ha... Sorry," Baki shook his head, "I don't think we'd be good for that. I mean, this is just about them seeking defeat, right?"

Abrego recoiled, squinting his eyes, "The fuck you mean?"

"Look," Baki pocketed his hands, glancing at the bedridden, "When we were fighting that big guy, he said he was coming here to seek defeat, right? Same thing with... Heh, well, the other big guy." He splayed his hands, looking back at Abrego, "They're just lookin' for a good fight. If you go all... I dunno, gangster on them; they'll probably do the same. Besides, if things get bad enough, Mister Unchained will probably show up."

"Who'da fuck is that?"

Baki chuckled, "Just someone. Anyway, I-"

Abrego pulled the .44 Colt from his chest rig and tapped it against his head.

"Look here you little shit, we don' got much time. I'll give you a' few with the ladies t'think it over. You're in the real underworld now, got it? Look around if you think we're bullshittin' you. We'll be in the lobby."

Abrego didn't wait for Baki to answer and left.

Standing in the room, he glanced between the injured women: a Russian woman, a Chinese lady, and another who was likely an American. No names were on the footboards or headboards, but two armed soldiers entered and stood beside the Russian woman.

Baki smelt the blood on them, strong fighters, willing killers, and shuffled away. He folded his arms, glancing over the Chinese and American women. They were strong fighters; he could tell. So, where were the others knocking them out like bowling pins? He hadn't encountered the Russian or Irish man yet.

Ruffling his hair, Baki groaned.

"Damnit... What the hell did I get myself into?"

Doyle sat on a perch overlooking downtown Roanapur and its bustling gangster nightlife under a sheen of neon gods—those fake things they worshipped like money, power, and even property—he thought the concept was bogus. He worked for people who devoted their lives to these concepts: killing, kidnapping, espionage, and any other sin under the sun. With too many lives ruined by this sort of thing, Doyle went off on his own for his purpose, winding up in prison.

Even their attempted execution wasn't enough to sate his lust for battle and desire to be defeated. That sole precedence carried him here. For a worthy fight against his tools, tricks, and skills.

Though the first battle was skin-tight, he didn't feel that chance of death rush he desired. Doyle was far from being defeated. Where are all the good fighters? He thought.

He tipped his nose to the sky, closed his eyes, and felt the air.

Yes, there were worthwhile combatants somewhere. Slowly, they seeped into the vile place, and some had been here longer than he.

Doyle smiled.

He'd find them eventually.

And he'd beat them all.

Author's Note

I've returned! Maybe. We'll see.

Enjoy this impulse completion of a chapter I'd been sitting on.