Yes, this is the end, folks.
Thank you so much for reading this story and for being so supporting, your many compliments touched me. It took me almost 7 years, but this fanfiction is now done.
I hope this last chapter will not disappoint you.
See you in another fanfiction !
Zafina was vehemently negotiating the price of the tuk-tuk they had just used, under the bewildered eyes of Xiaoyu. The Malaysian driver was not to be outdone and was equally loud and gesturing nervously and she thought she was going to punch him. She finally pulled out a crumpled note from her purse and handed it to the driver who reluctantly took it and spat on the ground. Zafina took her companion by the arm and dragged her with her, away from the man who was glowering at them.
"Damned drivers!" she grumbled.
"What happened?" Xiaoyu asked her. "I didn't understand a word of what you were saying."
"That idiot took us for tourists and wanted us pay way more than his race was worth!"
"Oh... I didn't know you could talk Malay."
"This is the third time I have come to Kuala Lumpur, and I had to learn the basic words, otherwise I would have been cheated by vultures like him every time... "
They crossed the street to reach the sky-blue front of a large building that said "Central Market in large white letters and penetrated inside. The young woman remembered the familiar smells and smiled as she saw the younger one looking around her with wide eyes.
Xiaoyu was really touching.
"We have to be back at the port for seven o'clock," she said, consulting her watch.
She led the young woman through the different stalls and they bought various groceries, tried on traditional outfits and negotiated endlessly. Zafina was lodged several times by local Casanovas, but their more or less subtle attempts left her stone-cold, and she just had to give them her icy glare to make them flee. When they were finished, Xiaoyu proposed to her companion to have a bubble tea.
"A bubble tea?" she repeated, raising her eyebrows.
"That's very good," Xiaoyu said. "It's basically tea with tapioca pearls. You can choose all the flavors you want!"
She hesitated but, seeing how excited her companion looked, she finally relented and followed her into a garish-colored stall that made her grimace. Teenagers were crowding into the shop, squealing with animation, and she nearly turned back. She let Xiaoyu choose and ordered, in impeccable English, two drinks with straws. Zafina paid, took her glass and settled down at a table, followed by the youngest.
She attacked the bubble tea under the eyes of her companion who stared at her with apprehension.
"It's drinkable," she said in a jaded voice.
Xiaoyu gave a sigh of relief, smiling broadly and attacked hers with enthusiasm, under the amused eyes of Zafina.
Yes, Xiaoyu was touching.
But Xiaoyu was also broken.
Her smile and her apparent good humor had perhaps reassured Lars, but she, more observant, was not to be so easily fooled. That was why she had insisted on bringing Xiaoyu back to Japan by sea.
In addition to the fact that she had no identity papers with her, Zafina could feel the dark thoughts that haunted her and she told Lars that returning to Japan too soon could be bad for her. No, she needed time to recover from the death of Jin Kazama.
She had managed to obtain two fake passports and had embarked on a Danish freighter that was going as far as Yokohama. In exchange for a certain amount of money, they were given a private cabin with all modern comforts. The crew, composed only of men of different nationalities, was friendly and protective.
Zafina intimidated them with her assurance and coldness. As for Xiaoyu, they treated her like a little sister. The captain, a 40-year-old Chinese man, told her that she reminded him of his deceased daughter and was particularly attached to her. They spent hours discussing while playing mahjong, while Zafina stood on deck staring at the horizon, lost in thought.
The journey had taken place without much hassle, except for an attack by Somali pirates when they had reached the Horn of Africa. The crew had succeeded in putting them to flight by machine-gun fire and rocket fire. It was one of the sailors in charge of surveillance and security, a great Russian named Piotr, who had given the alarm and distributed the arms, while the two women had taken refuge in their cabins. Zafina had had no apprehension, but the sound of the shots had frightened Xiaoyu.
Following this event, the freighter had sailed quietly to Kuala Lumpur, where they had docked at the end of the morning, a dozen days after their departure from Egypt.
The captain had authorized them to leave the ship, but had warned them to return before seven o'clock in the evening.
Zafina looked at the clock hanging behind the counter, finished her drink and gestured at Xiaoyu to leave the place. They left the mall and hiked a tuk-tuk driver. The older woman made him understand that he would better not try to rip them off and the vehicle started off before disappearing in the endless stream of cars.
A piercing shriek suddenly drew her from her sleep, and she sprang up with a dagger in her hand. She lit the light and went to the bed of her companion, who was having a nightmare and was struggling feebly.
Sighing deeply, Zafina sat on the edge of the bed and ran a soothing hand through Xiaoyu's hair. Her face was bathed in tears and the young woman felt her heart clench.
She wondered why she was becoming so attached to the young Chinese woman, as she was usually so lonely and detached. She gently wiped the tears from the corners of her eyes and realized that Xiaoyu was the first normal young woman she was acquainted with. She loved the members of her clan more than anything, but they were all born to protect the royal tomb and were far from the concerns of the rest of the world. They lived in withdrawal by themselves, on the margins of society, and killed without mercy the imprudent fools who came to them.
While watching her companion calm down, Zafina imagined what her life might have been if she had not been born in her clan. She would have gone to public school, would have made friends, would have done ballet or football, would have been into fashion and spent her days in the malls, she would have had sleepovers and talked about boys like all normal teenagers...
She shook her head.
It was no use having regrets, the past was past and her life was the only life she knew. The attachment and compassion she felt for her companion was due to her young age and the ordeal she had just gone through. Xiaoyu had just lost her innocence and discovered the cruelty of life. Zafina herself had made the painful experience when she was fifteen years old, the day of her enthronement in the clan.
She struggled to repress the dark thoughts that were invading her mind and lay down beside the sleeping young woman after turning off the light.
Zafina felt like she would explode from excitement. Today was the big day.
Her mother had dressed her in her finest clothes and, at nightfall, they had gone to the tomb where the elders were waiting for them. It was the first time she had entered the palace, which was forbidden to those who did not have the mark.
Her mother dragged her into a maze of dark corridors, a flaming torch in her hand, and the girl made sure she stayed close to her. She did not want to admit it, but the place, which was once so mysterious and intriguing, now frightened her. The sculptures of the ancient gods as well as the oppressive silence chilled up her spine.
Her father had told her many times about cruel end of the sarcophagi plunderers, who had wandered for days in the palace without finding the exit and who had died there. She used to laughed at it before, but now that she was inside the tomb she realized the terrible end that these brigands had suffered.
They reached the main room and saw the members of the clan, gathered in a circle around a huge and monstrous statue, elongated and chained on an altar. She could not detach her eyes from the creature carved in the stone and clenched her teeth to prevent them from rattling.
All the bearers of the mark were standing, their bodies covered with black robes and their faces hooded, each of them holding a torch in their hand. In the center, near the statue, was the Elder, the most respected man of the clan. No one knew exactly how old he was, but his wisdom was known by all. His white beard pointed under the hood that covered his eyes as well as those of the other members.
He was holding a long dagger that was shining in the light of the fire.
Zafina scolded herself for being so afraid, she who was so intrepid, so courageous, who was the pride of her parents and the clan, and who was considered the most gifted of her generation. She knew that she had been trained from an early age so that she could also be part of the clan's elite.
Her mother had explained to her that when once she would reach her fifteenth birthday, her heritage would awaken, as well as her gift of foresight, which until now consisted of simple premonitory little dreams.
The Elder motioned for her to go forward and she obeyed, cleaving the circle to stop in front of him. He handed her the dagger, which she took after a brief moment of hesitation. She would have liked to turn to ask her mother what to do, but she did not even have time because a bleat made her jump.
One of the members was carrying a little white lamb in his arms and placed it on the statue. The animal blew again as the man regained his place in the circle. Zafina felt her throat dry up when she understood what was expected of her and she began to shake.
It was one thing to train in the murderous arts from a very young age. It was quite another to kill a little lamb. To kill per se. She had never thought about what she would feel for her first murder and tears rose to her eyes as she kept them stubbornly fixed on the lamb.
She could not.
She wanted nothing more than to run away, but she knew that it would be useless. No one could refuse the enthronement. But killing this lamb was beyond her strength.
She looked up at the Elder, mentally pleading not to force her to do what she had to do, but his face was partially hidden by her hood. She looked at the other members and met the same inflexible walls. In desperation, she turned to her mother to intercede in her favor but she realized with horror that she had disappeared.
She was all alone.
"KILL IT!" the Elder bellowed.
She instinctively obeyed and the blade sliced the throat of the animal. Blood spattered on her face and spread over the statue.
A thick purple smoke escaped and invaded the room, blowing the torches, plunging the place in total darkness. A beam of light escaped from the statue and hit her with full force. Intense tingling began to run through her body, and a dazzling pain ran through her eyes. She opened her mouth to scream but her cry died in her throat as her gift finally awoke. She felt deep down that an unknown power was spreading through her veins like an incandescent poison.
She had the atrocious impression that she was split in two, and the pain made her fall to her knees. The fire rising up her body reached her eyes and she screamed as she actually saw for the first time.
She saw the past, present and future intermingled before her eyes and she lost consciousness.
The gurgling and the agonizing cries of the lamb would haunt her for the rest of her life...
She grimaced as she discovered the port of Yokohama. Everything was gray and the frightful scent of the tide made her gag.
Her piercing gaze quickly spotted Lars, leaning against the door of his car, and she gestured for Xiaoyu to follow her. He had not really changed, except that he was no longer dressed as a Tekken Force soldier. He was wearing jeans and a simple gray sweater and he could have easily passed for a very ordinary man, if not for his stature and muscularity.
Zafina knew that ever since the disappearance of Jin Kazama, Kazuya had taken over the reins of the Mishima Zaibatsu with an iron fist and had it merged with the G Corporation. Acclaimed as a hero in Japan and the rest of the world for presumably having eliminated the former CEO of the Zaibatsu, he was the new official leader of the Zaibatsu. Unofficially, he led an implacable track against Lars, his resistance network, as well as Jin's former supporters.
Red hair caught her attention and she saw another man come out of the car. He was tall and muscular, and strands of red hair were protruding from the bandage he was wearing around his head. He was also simply dressed in jeans and a tee-shirt.
She heard Xiaoyu utter a cry of joy and saw her run to throw herself into the arms of the red-haired man who hugged her with a laugh.
"Hwoarang, this is Zafina, who has accompanied me from Egypt. Zafina, this is my friend Hwoarang."
They nodded to each other, then Xiaoyu bowed to Lars.
"I'm glad to see you again, Ling-san, but..." he began.
"Please call me Xiaoyu."
"Very good, Xiaoyu, however we do not have time to linger."
They led them into the car without waiting and headed for the city center.
"I learned about Alisa," Xiaoyu began. "And I'm really sorry, I hope there's a way to fix her."
"Yes, Lee Chaolan has promised to repair her."
"Lee Chaolan?!" Hwoarang said.
"Yes, Heihachi's adopted son. He is not like the other members of the Mishima clan, don't worry. He has a company specialized in the creation of humanoid robots. And he's a great friend of Julia Chang's."
There was a moment of silence and Zafina looked at Lars, who seemed to be lost for words.
"Xiaoyu, listen to me. I know that losing Jin Kazama has deeply affected you and I'm sorry. I wish I could have stop it but..."
He sighed deeply.
"Anyway, Kazuya is now running the Zaibatsu and he's trying to eliminate Jin's old supporters, as well as myself, who's resisting his totalitarian policy way too much to his liking," he said with a smile. "He should not come after you because he does not consider you a threat."
"He does not consider me at all, you mean," Xiaoyu observed.
"Hmm... Yes .. Nevertheless, you must be on your guard. Kazuya knows that Jin and you were close, and he may have put you under surveillance. Go back to your studies and work, as before. Do not make waves. And try not to go see your grandfather for a while. He does not know where he is, and Master Wang is not really on the list of people he likes, that is if Kazuya has ever appreciated anyone..."
Zafina heard the redhead sniffing mockingly and repressed a smile.
"I'll stay in touch with you if you need anything."
"Thank you but I'll be fine," Xiaoyu replied in a small voice.
The tone of her voice made her frown and she looked at her in the rearview mirror with anxiety.
"Don't you ever let her out of sight, », Zafina coldly warned him.
"Yeah, I think I got it the thirty first times you said that," Hwoarang replied with sarcasm.
She shot daggers at him and he grinned even more, which confused her. That was not the kind of reaction she was used to provoking.
They were in Xiaoyu's living-room, whispering furiously so that she could not hear them from her room. Panda was looking at them with curiosity as she lay in her basket.
"Can't you at least tell me why I must watch her?"
She fought back the urge to jump at his neck. That arrogant idiot was insufferable and, worse, he seemed to know that and enjoy it.
"The man she loved died just in front of her eyes," she started with a voice as casual as possible. "And… I fear she might want to follow him."
His eyes opened wide and he looked shocked.
"Xiao would never do something like that!" he protested.
"How do you know?"
"I know her!"
She just smiled with mockery.
"As you wish, Hwoarang. But it's only in times of true adversity that we realize what our loved one are really capable of."
She turned and was about to leave when he grabbed her arm.
"Hey! Where do you think you're going?"
She glowered at him and he let go of her arm at once.
"You're lucky I like Xiaoyu," she said with a bored voice, "otherwise you'd be dead already."
"Yeah, right, cut the crap!" he grumbled. "Why are you leaving now?"
"I brought her home. My mission is over."
"No, it's not! You said she was not well and you've been by her side during her whole journey. She's going to feel like crap if you leave her just like that!"
"I thought you two were friends. Don't friends support each other during difficult times?"
"Yeah, of course!" he sighed. "But it's complicated… I didn't like Kazama and I don't think I'm fit to help her…"
She looked at him and smiled slightly.
"She won't give a damn about whatever you might tell her, because she doesn't need comforting. She just needs you to be there. She needs to know that she's not alone and that you're here for her. That's all."
He slowly nodded, looking lost and she felt her chest tighten. Heading back to Egypt was not a thrilling thought, but she knew that there was nothing else she could to for Xiaoyu. She had to heal on her own, with the support of her loved ones.
She nodded to Hwoarang and left the apartment.
Raven was waiting for her, staring right before him with his back on the wall and his arms crossed. She instinctively tensed when he turned his head to face her.
"We need to talk."
He startled and met Xiaoyu's confused eyes.
"Sorry, I didn't mean to scare you. I'm going to take a bath, I need to relax."
"Erm, OK, sure… Do you need help?"
He blushed when he realized how bad that sounded but Xiaoyu just laughed. He was so happy to hear her laugh, even to make fun of him, that he smiled too.
"I'll be fine, thanks," she said.
"Are you hungry?"
"Not really, maybe later. But fix yourself something. I think I might have some ramen left. "
"Don't worry, I'll be fine," he said as he went to the kitchen.
"Thank you for being here."
He just smiled at her.
"You're welcome, Pigtails."
He heard the lock of the bathroom door and took a carton of juice before laying down on the couch next to Panda. He turned the TV on and absent-mindedly watched the programs. The sound of running water reassured him and he closed his eyes with an exhausted sigh…
Xiaoyu is feeling good.
The hot water relaxes her. It is like a warm cocoon and she feels like she could continue to pretend for ages. Pretend to smile, pretend to be happy…
That ephemeral moment of happiness could almost make her forget everything. Forget where she is, forget who she is, forget he is not here anymore and he will never be…
But it hurts. So much… She just wants it to stop. Just wants the pain to disappear…
So, she breathes in deeply and slowly slides under the water…
It only takes three minutes for a person to drown.
It was eleven twenty-seven…