Chapter 6: Mhidra's Revenge
Ketsu-Jin looked up to face him, the two smaller creatures instantly forgotten in the face of this, literally, much bigger prize.
For the first time in the fight Mhidra stood taller than the Samurai.
Ketsu-Jin was the first to charge, leaping into the air and extending his sword to swoop forward. Mhidra, however, was ready: He ducked under the approaching creature, his razor-sharp spinal plates slicing into its stomach, staining them with shining blood as Ketsu-Jin screeched in pain. Mhidra's tail flicked up, smacking into the samurai's lower jaw and sending it tumbling through the air, crashing down into the street.
Ketsu-Jin rose, turned and hunched down, his sword held forwards as he shot forth, the sword jabbing forwards towards Mhidra's neck. At the last second, however, Mhidra rose his clawed hands, grabbing onto the sword, swinging sideways to carry Ketsu-Jin, tearing clean through the buildings to the side as Ketsu-Jin crashed down to the ground, Mhidra bellowing his rage.
"Sage!" Layla's voice shouted over the radio, "Get back here now! That air strike's coming any second!"
Ketsu-Jin stood up, thrashing wildly in Mhidra's vice like grip. Holding the sword in his hands, Mhidra parted his jaws, clamped them on the end of the sword, and yanked his head up, slicing through the metal and ripping the blade in half.
Even as the blade began to fall to the ground, Ketsu-Jin turned and looked up, the half of sword still in his hand flashing bright blue before the streak of fire shot into Mhidra's face, knocking him back as he fell back, staggering to one side as Ketsu-Jin's broken sword flashed a second time.
But this time, Mhidra was ready. A wave of energy shot through his own body, blasting out of his mouth to strike the oncoming attack from Ketsu-Jin. The two blasts of fire and ice collided, Mhidra's blast shooting forth, consuming Ketsu-Jin's attack and blasting clear into his sword and arm, hurling Ketsu-Jin away and sending it slamming into the street.
"Wow," Sage breathed, "Dangerous, I know, but still… wow…"
As Ketsu-Jin rose, internal and external frost burns rapidly healing, wicked sadism flaring to life in its black soul.
Ketsu-Jin having lost his returned weapon pulled his second blade from the earlier attacks and swung forward, slicing through the side of the building next to it, Sage and Layla looking up in sudden horror.
In a split second, Mhidra recognized that scent. Like the other little creatures, but different somehow, he'd smelled it the first time he fought this thing, and again when… yes, it was her, the one who had awakened him…
Acting on pure instinct, Mhidra charged forward, ducking under Ketsu-Jin.
Then, a clawed, fiery and icy hand was holding the falling rubble as the two humans stared up, agape.
"My God…" Layla breathed.
"He saved us," Sage breathed. "Mhidra…" She looked up, Mhidra's blazing eyes turning down to regard her, "…Thank you…"
A second later, a mass of evil savagery stabbed into Mhidra, driving him into the side of the building with frenzied howls. Mhidra spun round, the building crumbling to fall atop the struggling beasts as he grabbed hold of Ketsu-Jin's outstretched arm.
Swinging round as the two humans fled, Mhidra hurled Ketsu-Jin to the ground, sank his claws into the flesh of its arm, and pulled with all his awesome strength. Ketsu-Jin howled in pain, and then, with a sickening, tearing, snapping sound, the entire arm was wrenched off, thrown into the street as Mhidra gave an echoing roar.
Ketsu-Jin rose on his legs, the ragged stump already growing outwards to form a new limb, the wave of energy shooting through it ready to strike…
Before Mhidra charged straight into it, carrying it down the street in thundering footsteps, smashing through buildings that parted in a sea of debris before their awesome momentum.
And then, the last of the buildings fell, the beasts smashing into an elevated street on the waterfront of New York, the entire structure giving way, falling to the side as Ketsu-Jin shifted its weight round, slamming Mhidra sideways, the disused warehouse beneath him crushed before the impact.
The two beasts rose, each bellowing their fury as they stared each other down, the skyline of New York behind them.
Ketsu-Jin shot forth slamming into Mhidra, carrying him backwards to smash through a mass of metal girders as Mhidra's head slammed down into the middle lanes of the George Washington Bridge.
Ketsu-Jin leapt up, slamming onto Mhidra as a wave of energy shot up its back once more…
Before a stream of fire erupted from Mhidra's maw, striking Ketsu-Jin's face and carrying it up into the air, the beast slamming into the ground as Mhidra rose, another stream of flame erupting to douse Ketsu-Jin in fire.
Leaning down, Mhidra grabbed the burning creature's shoulders with one hand and the back of its head with the other, claws digging into flesh as he invested all his strength in the single effort.
With its last breath, Ketsu-Jin howled with rage, and pain, and horror, knowing what was coming. The creature that had never once known fear had now discovered terror.
“MHIDRA WAIT PLEASE, JOIN ME AND TOGETHER WE CAN RULE THIS WORLD. THERE WOULD BE NO FORCE IN THE UNIVERSE THAT COULD STAND AGAINTS US.”
With a disgusting tear, Ketsu-Jin's head was ripped from its shoulders, shock and horror still frozen into its fading black eyes as Mhidra dropped it to the ground, a last burst of fire erupting to cover Ketsu-Jin's body, the entire corpse bursting into orange fire.
Pulling his head back, Mhidra dug his heels into the ground and gave a tremendous, earth-shaking roar of victory.
Mhidra stood at the end of the George Washington Bridge, surrounded by flames, smoke, the rubble of crushed buildings, twisted girders and the decapitated, flaming corpse of Ketsu-Jin.
He had won; his revenge was his, but it had not been easy. Even though he was beginning to heal already, the battle had been fierce, and his injuries had been great. He was weakened, and most of all, he was tired.
Sage and Layla ran through the streets behind Mhidra, across the rubble that remained in the middle of the buildings they had plowed through, arriving before the bridge as Mhidra transformed into turtle form and turned to the water.
"He did it," Sage gasped, relief and exhilaration starting to flow through her as she broke into a cheer, "Yes! He did it!"
"Sage!" Layla's voice interrupted them suddenly. Sage turned to see Layla running towards her, with Jack and Mike behind her. Instead of the shouting contest Sage had been expecting, Layla pulled her daughter into a hug so tight that she was sure it would give her back problems in later life. "Oh, thank God…"
"Guess you knew who won," Jack grinned as he saw Mhidra walking away from Ketsu-Jin's burning remains, "Man that's cool."
"The samurai?" Mike asked.
"No, him," Jack pointed to Mhidra, "He just fought the mother of all fights, trashed a huge chunk of New York- which the tax payers will probably have to pay for -and now he's just walking away like nothing even happened!"
The sound of three roaring engines suddenly sounded overhead, the three F-22 fighter craft equipped with their napalm warheads closing in on the weakened Mhidra.
"Now they show up," Mike grunted.
"Major," A voice crackled over Layla's radio, "You've been given command of the operation. Permission to fire?"
"You can't," Sage pleaded, "Mom, he saved me. Deliberately, and he left himself exposed doing it. He saved me, he saved everybody and he avenged Dad!"
Layla didn't answer, watching Mhidra as he continued to move away, now waist-deep in water. She lifted the radio to her ear and spoke:
"That's an order. Withdraw."
"Roger that," The pilot answered. "Alpha 2 and 3, withdraw."
The three craft changed direction in the air, turning away from Mhidra as he moved out into the water.
"Thank you," Sage smiled.
"Guess I owe him…" Layla bit her touch, "I owe him that much."
"Never though I'd see the day," Mike chuckled.
"Neither did I," Lay;a admitted, "I guess things like this put things in perspective. Make you consider things. Make you… move on, I suppose."
"What about him?" Jack asked, pointing to the wake forming where Mhidra was vanishing between the waves.
"Well," Layla smiled, "I suppose we can leave him be unless he decides to cause trouble again."
"Guess we'd better get started fixing the city," Layla offered up, the entire group turning away from the waterfront. Only Sage remained, taking another glance at the spot where Mhidra had been.
"'Sup?" Jack asked, turning back and walking over to her.
"Just thinking," Sage replied, "Wondering where he's going."
"Who knows? Some Island somewhere? Anyway," Jack admitted, "I don't think we've seen the last of him. Corny as that sounds. I'm hungry."
“And this time your paying I paid the last time Mhidra came and tore up a city.
They both turned back towards the damaged New York skyline, Sage taking one last glance at the water.
Even after all that, Mhidra was still somehow a mystery. What he was, how he worked, where he came from… had he saved her out of the goodness of his heart, or some innate sense of honor? Had he stopped Ketsu-Jin for himself, or for the Earth? Odds were, nobody would ever know.
And maybe, she thought, that wasn't such a bad thing.
All she knew was this: If this world was ever again in need of a protector… if he was needed…
Mhidra would be back.