Kung Fu Panda

The Mirror Chapter VI

Warning - major character deaths ahead

Po couldn't believe it. His own father. Nothing could have hurt worse than this. He looked up towards Ping, tears staining his face. "Why Dad? What would possess you to want to hurt me? I'm your son. Don't you remember?" For a brief moment, Ping just stared blankly at the shackled panda. His eyes - once a light hazel color - were now a milky white, almost like he were dead. "You don't get it, do you?" Ping sneered. "This is what's going to happen: I make you suffer for your sins against the Master. Then I kill you. After that, I become the Master's top student...And then I go on killing some more..."

What in heaven's name was his father saying? "Dad, no! That isn't you! You have a noodle shop. You love to cook with me. What has Tai-Lung done to you?" For a moment Ping faltered, turning away from his son. "ENOUGH!" Tai-Lung could feel his hold on the old goose begin to weaken, especially with that sappy speech from the panda. "You dare to poison the minds of my disciples with your lies. Ping...kill him." Tai-Lung's eyes glowed as he spoke, wrapping Ping's mind in invisible chains. "As you wish Master..."

Po's shackles were unlocked. His body was an atrocity - fur matted with dried blood and waste, wracked with starvation, and every bone shattered a thousand times over. Three months felt like an eternity. And now he had to fight his own father, possibly to the death. His own death at that. "You ready to die panda?" "Dad, you don't want to do this!", he said getting into something of a battle stance. "Your father is dead, boy. Accept it!" ...RAHHHHHH... Ping leapt towards him with murderous rage. His foot connected with the side of Po's head with a sickening CRACK. Followed by another, then another, then another. By now Po was reeling from loss of too much blood. "Just die idiot!" Ping kept tearing into Po, beating him down further and further. Finally the dust settled, revealing a grisly scene. Po lay unconscious on the ground. Ping standing over the shattered form of his son, his hands drenched with blood.

Throughout the melee, everyone watched with anticipation. Except Shifu. He couldn't bear to watch as Po was beaten to within an inch of his very life. And by his own father. The panda lay deathly still for ages. Until he began to stir, blood gurgling from his mouth. All were shocked at the impossibility. The near dead Dragon Warrior surviving such a vicious onslaught. "How? You should be dead..." Tai-Lung growled in disbelief. "He is the Dragon Warrior my lord...quite a formidable opponent..." Shifu commented. "In fact, I think he would make a valuable addition to your army..." Tai-Lung seemed to give the idea some thought: China's greatest hero becoming the public face of a new regime, eventually conquering the world. The irony was not lost on him. Yet, he could sense that there was more to Shifu's suggestion. "You're stalling for time, aren't you Father?" "What do you mean my lord?" "Don't play the fool with me! You've had this planned all along. To free the panda and mount some kind of coup...Don't bother to deny it...I know you hate me..." "I hate what you've become. But I will not fail again." Shifu said as he started towards Ping.

The other students looked toward their master. Tai-Lung motioned for them to remain still until he gave the word. Shifu touched Ping's shoulder and said: "You've fought well my friend. But don't you think you've earned a bit of rest?" He quickly tapped three spots on the goose's neck. "After all, your son lives. Tai-Lung lied to us all. We must avenge him and the others." Suddenly, Ping looked up. "Shifu? Where...where am I?" He noticed his hands. "Whose blood is...NO!" Then he saw Po lying on the ground. "I...I...oh son...my son...I failed you..." Ping dropped to his knees, weeping profusely. "So, you managed to break my hold on the old goose. Well done Father!" Tai-Lung said, giving mock applause. "But he is still mine." His eyes began to glow. "Ping...kill Shifu. Kill him now..."

But Ping stayed where he was, still facing away from view. "PING! I gave you an order..." the leopard growled. Ping spun around, his face contorted with rage. "YOU TOLD ME HE WAS DEAD! I HAD NOTHING ELSE TO LIVE FOR WITHOUT MY SON, YOU HEARTLESS WRETCH!" Tai-Lung took a cautionary step backwards. "And you had the brilliant idea to share your power with me. You know, even if I do not live to see it, I will never be your weapon again." This only served to make him angrier. "It's over Tai-Lung. You will not win this battle" said Shifu. "Ah, but you forget. You are two, while I am legion. Unleash the behemoths!" All of the other students retreated to the edges of the ring, while the center of the training ground split open to reveal about fifty of the monstrous creatures. They were about six heads taller than Shifu and Ping combined, and covered in armor growing from their own bones. Tai-Lung extended his mind to theirs, taking full control. "I am your eyes my children. You are my fists. DESTROY!"

It was like a hurricane. Fists and feet striking from every direction, smashing anything within their grasp. In the center stood Ping and Shifu, deflecting blow after blow. Tai-Lung pushed forward, attempting to get the behemoths closer to Po's body. "Shifu! They're getting closer!" "We can't let them take Po! Wait, I have an idea!" The old master dropped into a meditative position, hands extended forward. "Ping, do as I do!" "What? This is no time to...Ah, now I get it!" Ping assumed the same position, facing Shifu. After a moment, the air began to spark and crackle. Dark clouds gathered over the area, blotting out the midday sun. Shifu and Ping raised their hands higher, building the maelstrom's strength. Now the whole area was alive, bursts of energy filling the sky like fireworks. The behemoths could feel themselves being drawn into the center of the storm. Bits and pieces of them were disintegrating the closer they got. "Ping, now!" Shifu shouted above the noise. Finally, they brought their hands together, releasing the maelstrom's power with a deafening KRAKOOM!

The mountain shook violently. Then silence. As the dust settled, the aftermath of the maelstrom came into view. Bodies. And the stench of roasted flesh. Anything close enough was incinerated. Further out were the smoldering corpses of a few behemoths. But something bright could be seen in the center. A sphere of light where Shifu, Ping, and Po were protected from the blast. As the barrier came down, a slow clap could be heard from the side. "Oh Father, you went and killed my pets. I just can't have nice things can I?" Tai-Lung strode past the still smoking bodies, taking in the scene. He tore away his coat, revealing deep cracks in his arms. Energy pulsed through them like his own blood. "Your warriors are dead, and the panda will soon follow. What hope have you now, mortals?" The snow leopard physically changed into a gigantic, shadowy creature resembling a dragon. "BEHOLD MY TRUE FORM! THE ONE TRUE DRAGON! I ALONE AM THE ULTIMATE POWER ON THIS PLANET, AND NOW I WILL END YOU..." The beast let out a roar blasting Shifu, Ping and Po all the way down to the village. As they both scrambled to their feet, Ping said: "Dear lord, he'll find us...How do we fight him like this?!"

Shifu was tending to Po, searching for any sign of life. "Ping, Po is alive. But just barely...I fear we might lose him..." "No...We might just have to pray for a miracle my friend..." Shifu chuckled humorlessly at the remark. But then thought: 'wait a moment...it's a long shot...but it's all we have...' He looked back towards Ping, who was gently cradling his son's head. He screamed: "IS THIS WHAT YOU WANT UNIVERSE?! MY SON MADE THIS WORLD BRIGHTER WITH HIS GOOD HEART! I won't let you take him from me..." Shifu placed a hand on Ping's shoulder. "Ping, there is one more thing we can do...something my master Oogway told me...do you know the legend of the Celestial Phoenix?" "Well...I know that a phoenix can bring itself back to life after it's...no...are you crazy?!" "I wouldn't even suggest it if we had any other choice..." The old goose thought for a second, and knew Shifu was right. "So, how do we do this?" "Someone will have to surrender their life for him.." "Me", Ping said. "I'm his father, and this is the last good thing I can do for Po..." "But I'm his master, and during battle the students lives are worth more than mine..." A pause ensued. Both were entitled to the noble sacrifice, but also knew that if either way Po would be devastated. Yet, to allow the phoenix to choose Po would require a life for a life. It was a truly dire moment. "Let's both do this then. At the very least, one of us will survive", Ping said finally. "Very well..." Shifu replied grimly.

"COME OUT WHERE I CAN SEE YOU! I'LL BURN THIS MOUNTAIN TO THE GROUND IF I HAVE TO! FACE YOUR DEATHS WITH DIGNITY!", Tai-Lung bellowed. He smashed his way through the Jade Palace, trampling some of his unfortunate students trying to escape. "ONCE I DESTROY YOU THREE, THE WORLD IS MINE! LOOK UPON MY VICTORY AND REJOICE!" He leapt into the air, starting to circle the village below. Then unleashed a torrent of fire, scorching the small buildings to ashes. Ping, Shifu and Po were holed up in the noodle shop, preparing to face the monster outside. For the last time. "He's getting closer!" "I know Ping, but we have to get Po to the town center." The two tried to sneak out through the shop's entrance, but we're caught by a fireball. "There you are Father. Tell me, are you ready to die?" "You haven't won yet. Now Ping!" Suddenly Tai-Lung was slammed in the head by Ping, his kick making him crash into the noodle shop. Ping continued to double-hand smash Tai-Lung's head, then Shifu joined him sending quick strikes to the ribs. The force of the melee shook the area to its foundations.

Po began to stir. All he could feel was blinding pain. 'didn't know Dad could hit like that. Why can't I move...' It was temporary paralysis, and no way to heal without acupuncture. Or a miracle. His vision cleared, and he knew where he was. "...noodle shop..." he groaned. Twenty feet away, Shifu, his father, and a black dragon were engaged in combat. "...Dad...Shifu...is that Tai-Lung?" BOOM! The two fighters were thrown back towards Po, crashing into furniture. Po tried to call out, but all he could manage was a weak yelp. Ping heard him. "Son?! You're awake!" "...hi Dad...can't move..." Po said painfully. "Ping! He's coming back!" shouted Shifu. Out of nowhere, another fireball came down on them. Ping erected a barrier, barely deflecting the blast. The angry dragon sprinted towards the three, now vulnerable in the open. "We could try summoning another storm! Quickly Shifu!" "Alright!" The two raised their hands to the heavens, the sky darkening. Thunderbolts struck the ground, kicking a cloud of dust. Tai-Lung readied another fireball when he was struck by a blast of lightning, then another, then another. "IMPOSSIBLE!" "YOU GAVE US THE POWER, NOW YOU WILL FEEL ITS EFFECT!" The cloud was swept away revealing Shifu and Ping, now fused together into one being. Tai-Lung stood his ground. "YOU ARE STILL NO MATCH FOR ME!" His tail whipped around, smashing the elemental into the ground. The being retaliated by hurling a ball of lightning at the dragon's head. Tai-Lung reeled back, toppling over. The elemental turned back to Po. "Po, listen to us carefully. We cannot maintain this form for long" it said with Shifu and Ping's voices. "We are going to have to do something crazy, so please don't be angry. Goodbye Son, we're both proud of you..."

The elemental touched Po's head, removing his paralysis. "Wait, wait!" He struggled to go after them but stumbled, falling to his knees. "Stay there..." the being said, erecting a barrier around the wounded panda. Suddenly the dragon slammed into the elemental with the force of an earthquake. They traded blows before locking hands in a grapple. "YOU WILL NOT TAKE THE DRAGON WARRIOR TAI-LUNG! THE ONLY WAY IS TO GO THROUGH US!" "I INTEND TO..." the dragon replied, before impaling the elemental through the heart with his tail. "Dad. Shifu!' Po screamed. The being staggered backwards before crashing to the ground. As it's body disintegrated both Ping and Shifu emerged, deep cuts all over their bodies. "Get up, get up!" Po shouted as he hobbled over to them. Off to the side, Tai-Lung was tending to his own injuries. '...that blasted elemental...it almost killed me...no more...I will finish this once and for all...' He shot towards the downed fighters like a cannonball, screaming bloody murder. "Father, Master?" "Po...told you to stay put..." said Shifu. Po got them both to their feet before Ping saw the nightmare racing toward them. "SHIFU!" Both shoved Po behind them before stopping Tai-Lung's massive head with their bare hands. They were straining to hold him, keeping Po out of his grasp. "GET OUT OF MY WAY!" roared the dragon. Tai-Lung coiled his body around them, crushing them like a vice. The sound of snapping bones was unbearable. "DIE!" After a moment, both Shifu and Ping breathed their last. "Oh, so sorry Dragon Warrior. I guess they couldn't hold out forever..." Po ran over to the bodies of his father and teacher. But was cut off by Tai-Lung...before he scooped them up with his mouth, and swallowed Ping and Shifu. "Now then, you're next panda..." Po was in shock, his father and mentor both murdered, and then eaten before his very eyes. Yet, he was too angry to cry. Instead, he felt something inside him begin to grow. Raw hatred. Never before had been consumed like this. Even when he thought Lord Shen killed his friends. This fury burned hotter and brighter than a thousand suns. It felt as if something - or someone was calling to him from a great distance. "What are you doing panda? I have decimated the Furious Five, killed hundreds of townspeople, and eaten your father and master. You have nothing. YOU ARE NOTHING! AND NOW I WILL CONSUME YOUR FLESH!" Po looked up at the dragon, his eyes now glowing with fire. "NO! I WILL AVENGE THEM ALL!...and you will know the horror of my wrath..."