One Step on the Path

By Chris Hoffmann

The waist-height grass of the Australian outback swayed back and forth in the fierce wind. The sky was filled with thick black clouds that flashed with lightning as thunder rolled across the flatlands.

My prey stood there, dishonoring the fight with his weapons and armor. Sodom, a petty gang lord with a meaningless vendetta against the Bushin ninja master, Guy.

His reliance on his jitte makes him weak. His thirst for revenge will make him unfocused. His size will make him slow.

He will make the perfect stepping stone.

I came out of the shadows, not bothering to conceal my contempt for my...opponent. I then did Sodom the honor, more than he deserved, of challenging him. "Hey, metal-head! Ready to Rumble?!"

Sodom slowly turned and faced me. For a few moments, he simply looked at me silently, then the bastard turned and began to walk away. "Begone little boy," I heard him say over his shoulder, "I don't have time for you."

For a moment, I stood there, stunned by the impossibility of what had just happened. Didn't Sodom know who had just challenged him? Slowly, amazement turned to anger. How dare just he dismiss me. HOW DARE HE!

"FLURRY KICK!" I screamed as I leaped forward into a flying kick, slamming into the small of Sodom's unprotected back, flooring my large opponent.

Sodom rolled with the impact and rose to his feet some distance away, brushing blades of grass from his helmet. He assumed a ready position and waited for me to make the next move.

I just stood there and laughed, "Poor little Ronin, did you really think I'd let you refuse my challenge? Don't you know who I am?"

Sodom nodded, "Yes I know of you Hibiki, son of Go Hibiki who died honorless at the hands of Sagat."

"WHAT DID YOU SAY?!?!?!" I screamed as I clenched my fists, trying not to loose my temper, again.

He just stood there, looking smugly at me.

How dare this pretender of a warrior slander my father? "FLURRY KICK!" I screamed as I flew towards Sodom.

"JIGOKU SCRAPE," he answered as he slammed me to the ground with his Jitte.

I fell on my side, my hands cradling a vicious gash across my stomach with my eyes clenched shut in pain.

I was playing possum, of course. He caused me a little pain, but he didn't really hurt me.

"Your father had skill, but no honor." Sodom announced. Keep talking, just a little closer and you'll pay for that. "In his final battle with Sagat, he remained always on his blind side, always striking out at the blind left eye eventually destroying it. Sagat was maimed for life because of Go's cowardness." He was right over me. I could feel his breath on my neck. Then was the time to strike.

So why didn't I?

"Perhaps it was wrong of Sagat to kill your father, but I for one, do not blame him for it." He then pulled me roughly to my feet, thrusting his masked face inches from my own.

And the time to strike passed me by, unused.

"And you are just like him. Attacking from behind and faking injuries." My eyes flew open at that. Apparently I didn't give the oaf enough credit. "Yes, I hurt you, but not that much. Do not make the mistake of thinking me stupid." Nice to see he agreed with me.

He pulled back his arm and slammed the pommel of his Jitte into my forehead, causing me to black out for a second. "This fight is not worth continuing," He said while dropped my motionless body to the ground and turned to walk away.

"A final piece of advice if you intend to continue seeking the mantle of World Warrior. Earn it with skill and honor." Sodom's voice begins to fade into the storm. "Do not disgrace it with treachery."


After making sure that he was gone, I get up, hissing in pain at the fresh cut on my stomach. It hurt. It hurt a lot.

And it was the least of my pain.

Despite myself, I was considering Sodom's parting words. Was he right? Did my father lack honor? Is my quest to avenge a man not worth avenging?

Ryu would know. In the short time I trained with him, he showed such a passion for honorable combat that it eclipsed everything else about him. I called him an obsessed psychotic.

Funny, that's what he called me too.

Ryu would know the best way to redeem myself and the Hibiki name. And for the memory of my father, I will fight Sagat. And I will win, with honor.

Besides, Ryu never turned down a challenge.

I hope you enjoy---
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