Zero
Chapter 16
 

“Test your strength Mister?” A voice greeted them as they came to a halt. A man in a full skeleton bodysuit held a large mallet in front of Ryu’s face. 

“Win a prize for your little girlfriend. This is our first prize. Nobody won it yet.” A middle-eastern girl in a blue belly dancer costume wave from the counter just a little way behind. Bells jangled as she heaved a large stuffed brown bear in a white Karate gi onto the counter. The bear was about Ryu’s arm in length, short fur, large brown eyes and an unsmiling mouth. 

“I’ll even throw in a red ribbon.” The genie-like girl held out a length of ribbon. She frowned on seeing that there might be a problem. But then she looked at Ryu, back at the bear and back at the causally dressed, non headband wearing young man and beam him a cheerful smile. And then tied the ribbon around the stuffed bear’s head, letting its long twin tails fly in the breeze. Ken broke into a bout of laughter. 

“Its so cuteeeee!!!” ChunLi cooed, wistfully caressing the bear’s soft furry head, she then threw a pleading look to Ryu. He could find no way to resist her request. 

“There now, a one of a kind unique karate bear. Test your strength?” the genie girl announced, beaming widely indicating the contraption with the lever and high ruler. 

“I’ll pay for your turn.” Ken decided for him, handing the genie-girl a dollar, the girl winked her thanks and did a little thank-you jig, bells tinkled with every move. The skeleton man handed Ryu the mallet and cleared everybody back a safe distance. 
 

“You know. You could have easily gotten the bear by yourself.” She heard Ken whispered to her as she watched Ryu heave the mallet,  

“But where’s the fun in that?” she answered, her eyes never leaving the muscular arms of the young man before her. Her heart skipped a beat when he smashed the mallet on the lever. For a mere moment she thought she felt something indescribable  and then it was gone. 

The metal ball shot up the high ruler, smashing the bell at the top with loud ‘THANGGG!!!!” and sent the sirens ringing. Ryu let go of the mallet and rejoin the duo. 

“A winner!! We have a winner!!” the skeleton man exclaimed while the genie girl did a lively little dance with her tambourines. 
 

“Here’s your Karate bear. Treasure him.” ChunLi received the Karate bear from the Genie Girl.  

“Thanks Ryu!!” ChunLi squealed, giving him a quick hug and then squeezing the bear tightly and nuzzled it as well. She was practically entranced by the toy. (I do not own such a bear. I don’t have much bears in my collection) 

“What?! I was checking its huggablitly!” she exclaimed on seeing the puzzled look on Ryu’s face.  
“I dunno about you guys but I’m hungry after all that.” Ken commented rubbing his stomach. 

“I know of a good place for supper.” 
And thus she grabbed Ryu and set off to another part of the fair with Ken trailing behind.  
 


Back at the dojo 
 

“Sifu!! ChunLi’s life will be in danger if she keeps hanging around with him!!” 
“Yes, but he’s still a friend of hers.” 
“He almost kill a man!! I saw his losing his mind!! I don’t want simui in danger!” 
“She knew the risk and she wanted to help him. Could you at least respect her decision.” 

“But Sifu! There is no chance she could stand against his darkness!!” 
“Fei. I know you care for ChunLi. But she is not a little girl, and nor should you make decisions on her behalf. I doubt she would appreciate it if you big brother her too much.” 

“Sifu, please consider my warnings. I am only concerned that harm may befall simui should she choose to keep associating with that guy. He’s nothing but trouble!” 

“Fei. Take a vacation for a while. You are getting too work up and if you choose to question her choice in friends it would affect your friendship with ChunLi.” 

“Sifu!! This could be one of the most dangerous mistakes of her life! It might take her life for that matter! I don’t want for it to happen and then let people think I’m gloating by saying ‘I told you so’. That would be too late! Sifu, please understand. Help me. She listens to you.” He knows that he wasn’t going to get much help from his Sifu. Just what is wrong with everybody? Why are they blind to immediate danger? 

“I am not questioning her choice of friends!! Just her association with him!!” Fei Long banged the marble table with his fist, Gen sighed as Fei Long angrily stomped out of the dojo. 

Fei Long was determined do something about Ryu if he had to do it alone. He couldn’t care if ChunLi got angry, what mattered is that she would be safe from harm. Even if he had to take matters into his own hands and shake some senses into her dense head. 
 

Fei Long stopped in his tracks and found himself at the foot of ChunLi’s building. How was he going to approach this? Looking into the alleyway the sight of the fire escape  called to him.  

It would lead him directly into ChunLi’s room. But all students of the dojo had being warned against using that fire escape to visit ChunLi. Failure to comply would be dealt with by immediate expulsion. It might be the quickest way to reach her without going through her father and those two Shoto boys.  

But it’s the surefire way of getting himself expel and be thrown further from ChunLi than when he first started. He had to stay calm if he wished to protect ChunLi . Fei Long rubbed his head in frustration on seeing that the lift was out of order . Cursing Ryu’s name, he climbed the stairs instead. 
 

“Simui!!!” he yelled on reaching the apartment only to see it ransacked, rushing in he found not a soul in sight! What had happened? Has that dammable young man lost his mind and rampage in the apartment?! 

“Simui!!!!” he called out, searching from room to room, praying that his simui would be unharmed. If that accursed warrior dare touch one hair on his simui’s pretty head he’ll tear him limb from limb!!! 
 

Back outside, the rooftop access caught his attention, he rushed up to the roof only to be greeted by the sight of much destruction and them!   

“Unhand him!!!!” Fei Long roared, the man in red turned around, he seems to be some sort of a military commander, and there was winged skull emblem on his cap. Where had he seen that emblem before? 

Behind him a girl was supporting a badly beaten up man and just beside them stood a tall masked man with long braided blond hair. The sight of his bloody claw arm left no doubts as to who was responsible for the wounds on their broken prisoner . 

“Wei Qinpui!!!! Face me you cowards!!!” Fei Long roared as he rushed to forward in attack. Another girl with the quarterstaff instantaneously flanked her master in defense 

“And you hope to achieve what? Save this useless man? Suddenly gain the eternal gratitude and love of a girl who has only eyes for another?” The man in red snorted in amusement.  

“How did you--” 
WHUMPP!!!  
A simple flick of the older man’s wrist and his intense qi sent Fei Long hurtling across the rooftop. The masked blond leapt over them and bounded straight for Fei Long.  
“Fool. There’s no need to read your simple mind.” 
 

Fei Long rolled aside as the claw stabbed down, the eyes of a fanatical warrior stared out of that mask. A shiver went down his spine when he thought the masked one smiled at him. 

Something from the shattered shed caught his eye, a third girl straightened up, and the short hair girl had in her hands a dusty little package. She reported back to her master.  

Seeing Fei Long distracted the masked one took the opportunity and leapt over Fei Long slashing him on the back as he land. Fei Long staggered but would not fall, he turn and intercepted another attack with a round house kick. The masked one was quick to recovered his bearings. His eyes show delight in the battle. 

“He’s still has some worth, stop playing.” The master ordered, the masked man narrowed his eyes in annoyance and leapt backwards to avoid Fei Long’s punch.  

And at the point when the strength of Fei Long punch is weakest the, masked one grasped his fist and used it to spring nimbly himself over an angry Fei Long, gifting him another set of claw marks on his back. Fei Long roared, turning in anger to punch empty air. 

Adding insult to injury, the masked one was already out of his reach and as if he enjoyed their little sparring he bowed gallantly at Fei Long, tossing him a rose when he straightened up.  

A gesture from the man in red and psychical forms of those with him seem to wavered and then vanished. Sirens announcing police arrival came too late, he failed his simui. The one chance he had to prove himself and he had failed. 
 
 

“Fei Long!!!!” A familiar voice called out. Familiar hands helped him stand. When did his legs failed him? He didn’t know. 
“Sifu, I’m sorry. I failed to save Wei qinpui.” 
“I know you tried. Let’s get you tended.” Gen said helping the lad downstairs.

 
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