May or may not be quite SC5 accurate. lol. _____ "Shiyaiii!" Natsu neatly sliced the last wooden log down the middle, a perfect split. "You have performed admirably, Natsu." "Thank you, Grandmaster Taki." Natsu had expected nothing less than a stellar outing. It was to be for her Master title. Taki had attained the rank of Grandmaster through the years, when the ninja arts simply became as much a part of her as an arm or a leg. Grandmasters were not so much appointed as they were simply recognized as such. For Natsu to earn the Master rank at such an early age was nearly unheard of. The closest to her age any Fuuma Clan member had attained a Master's rank at was 19. Apprenticeships could last years. Some never developed the skill required to get out of apprenticeship. "I hereby bestow upon Apprentice Natsu the title of Master. Congratulations, Master Natsu." A gong sounded, and when the sound had died on the wind, the rest of the Fuuma clan in the pavilion began to cheer and congratulate her. There would be a large celebration in her honour. They shuffled off to make preparations, chatter buzzing about. Taki invited Natsu to join her in the small hut of the pavilion for a cup of tea. Natsu's heart began to race. This is my chance... Natsu pulled up a stool, and waited. The water came to a boil. Natsu palmed a small bag. The tea was mixed, poured and served. Natsu needed a distraction before Taki started in on her tea. She began to recant a story of her training to Taki and then bumped the small plate the teacup had been served on to the floor. As Taki bent down to pick it up, Natsu whipped the string off the small bag, emptied the contents into Taki's cup, and stirred once with her finger before pulling it back. The water was still scalding hot. Aspor root was a highly potent poison. Natsu had used only a small dose of ground flakes, meant to incapacitate. Outwardly, she swore allegiance to the Fuuma clan, but that fragile illusion of allegiance was about to be shattered. Taki picked up her teacup. It will have to have dissolved quickly enough, thought Natsu. The two continued to talk, about past battles, about the celebration coming up. Then the aspor caught up with Taki. "You must be very proud of what you have accomplished today." Natsu grinned. "You have no idea." Taki was in the process of raising the teacup to her lips again when she stopped. She lurched forward, her hand grabbing at her temple. Setting her teacup down, she inhaled sharply. "Grandmaster? What is wrong?" "I seem to be exhibiting mild signs of aspor poisoning... but I-" the realization hit her when she Natsu's concerned look turn into a huge grin. "You..? How.. could you..." Natsu responded by using one swift motion to grab Taki by the hair and slam her face into the table. Then she flung Taki backward off her stool. Taki hit the floor with a thud, and tried to recover, but the ground up aspor root had had the desired effect, weakening Taki and dulling her razor reflexes. The spin she had tried to perform simply knocked her off balance, and she fell to the floor again. "In case it is not obvious by this point," Natsu explained, "I simply knew I could learn from the best, you being that person. And now, I will overtake your ability, and usurp your position in the quest for Soul Edge." "You yet lack the power to destroy Soul Edge," Taki said. "You need more training... but after this you will not receive it from the Fuuma clan." "I do not need that training," Natsu said simply. Natsu waited for the realization. It came. "You... you wish to obtain Soul Edge?" "My, you're smart! I see why you're considered a wise grandmaster. Not so wise, evidently, to not see my true intention." Taki began to stand, but was met with a kick to the face. "Ouf!" she grunted, and fell backwards again. Natsu reached down and grabbed her twin daggers, then flung them across the room. They skittered and clattered along the floor. "You won't be needing those anymore." Taki tried to stand again, but was met with Natsu's knee in her face theis time. "Aurgh!" she yelped out as her head snapped back from the impact. Taki fell on her knees and stayed there. Natsu grabbed her by the hair, and began teeing off on Taki with knee strikes. Three. Four. Five. Skin met skin, bone met bone with horrible dull-sounding thuds. Taki's head whiplashed back with every impact. On the sixth one, Natsu released Taki, and she fell to the floor on her back. Natsu quickly followed up with a hard stomp to Taki's stomach. Taki exhaled hard and wheezed. Even at the age of 46, Taki's body was lean and hard, muscular without being overly so. She looked nearly like she had not aged a day in the years Taki had trained Natsu. If anything, she simply got more dangerous as she gained experience. Natsu stomped Taki in the chest. Breath was forced out of her lungs again. Taki tried to pry Natsu off her, but couldn't. Natsu headbutted Taki, knocking her back down to the wood floor. Taki lay prone on the floor, the tandem assaults of Natsu's physical attack and the aspor root doing a number on her being more than she could fight off. Taki would not give up without a fight, and Natsu had expected that. Taki rolled over and pushed herself up to her hands and knees. Natsu drove a stomp into Taki's back, taking her back down to the floor. Taki would not quit, and struggled to push herself up again. Natsu got behind her, and snatched her up in a full nelson, putting pressure on her neck and shoulders. Natsu then hauled Taki to her feet. As part of her grand plan, Natsu had trained hard for strength. As such, she was much stronger than she looked. She locked the hold in tight, and began to whip Taki from side to side like a ragdoll. Taki groaned in pain, trying to shore up enough strength to power out of the hold. She flexed her arms hard, muscles rippling. Natsu's fingers tenaciously held together, but slowly, Taki gained purchase. She flexed hard again, and three fingers on each hand lost connection. Feeling the hold break, Natsu crossed a leg in front of Taki's, and swept her, falling forward with her. Taki's face and head banged off the floor again. Natsu held fast, pulling Taki to her knees and using her leverage to re-tighten the hold on Taki anew. Taki stopped fighting, and instead simply groaned in pain, wondering when Natsu would have enough of inflicting it. Natsu finally released Taki from her prison of pain. Taki's arms and neck burned with pain from the long session of pressure exerted on her. Natsu simply smiled and brought Taki up to her feet again. Taki swayed unsteadily, her legs threatening not to support her. Natsu grabbed her again. She put one hand on Taki's neck and throat, and her other hand between Taki's legs, on her crotch. Then Natsu gave a burst of exertion, and picked Taki up by the crotch and throat, holding her over her head as if she were weightlifting using Taki instead of a heavy log. Taki gasped slightly, but Natsu noticed. "You seem surprised... yes, I do seem to be full of surprises today. Didn't think I was this strong, did you? Well, fortunately for you, I'll put you down..." Natsu slammed Taki onto her back on the wooden table, breaking it into pieces. Taki lay on the newfound pile of kindling, her strength abandoning her. "Not yet, you don't. Your time to rest will be soon, but it is not now..." Natsu reached down, her hands prodding into Taki's muscular body again. Taki was defenseless to stop it. Natsu picked her up to her feet, and her hands found Taki's throat and crotch again. Natsu hoisted Taki up over her head again, and began to lift her up and down in a display of strength and arrogance. After her display of dominance, Natsu gave Taki a small roll so that she fell downward, but onto her back. At the same time, she dropped to her knee, and Taki slammed spine-first across Natsu's knee in a backbreaker. The wind was ripped from Taki's chest. Taki heard a loud scream of pain, and it took a few heartbeats to realize it was her own. Natsu put an arm under her neck and her legs, and stood, holding Taki's now limp body. She then dropped down in another backbreaker. Taki's spine let out a crunch as discs clicked together in ways they were never engineered to do. The pain was intense and growing, like a fire consuming a building. Taki would find no reprieve, as Natsu put her over her shoulders. Holding onto her neck with one hand and holding fast to one of her thighs with the other, Natsu stood, with Taki bent around her shoulders in a torture rack backbreaker. Natsu bounced Taki up and down, short, sharp barbs of pain stabbing Taki in her damaged back. Taki shrieked and cried out in pain, unable to fight out of the hold. Natsu stifled her cries of pain by shoving her middle and ring finger into Taki's mouth under her tongue, and gripping her under the chin with her thumb, began to squeeze her with a claw hold while continuing to pull down on her head and thigh. Taki began to gag, her screams of pain muffled with the combination torture rack and claw hold. Wracked with pain and subdued from the diminished dose of the aspor root's full effects, Taki could do nothing. She began to pass out from the combined holds. Natsu had no intention of letting this be the end, so she unceremoniously dropped Taki to the floor. Taki let out an "oof" as she hit the floor, rolled once, and lay flat on her back. Natsu beamed. "I outsmarted a Grandmaster, and beat her down. It's been quite a day, hasn't it?" Natsu retrieved Taki's daggers, Rekkimaru and Mekkimaru. Natsu placed Mekkimaru to the side, taking up Taki's self-made and enchanted Rekkimaru. "Hmm. I hope the irony of this is not lost on you..." Natsu knelt over Taki, and grabbed her by the hair, pulling her head and upper body off the floor. Natsu held the dagger with the blade pointed toward her. Natsu was not looking to stab her though, as she brought the pommel of the blade handle downwards into Taki's forehead. Light exploded in Taki's field of vision, as spots danced in her eyes. The pommel of the small sword crashed into Taki's skull again. A small cut opened over Taki's right eye. Natsu focused on it, slamming the bottom of Rekkimaru's hilt into it a third time, opening it wide. Blood rushed down Taki's face and got in her eye, burning. Taki tried unsuccessfully to wipe it from her eyes, and more quickly replaced it anyway. Natsu reared back, and the sword hilt connected with her head just above the eyebrow again. Blood flowed freely, running down her face and dripping onto the floor, the pattering of blood drops making a rhythmic sound. The blood rushing through Taki's head sounded like a waterfall to her dazed ears. Natsu was talking to her, but she sounded like Taki was underwater, and she couldn't make anything out except bits and pieces. "Fuuma clan... grandmaster... replace... edge..." Taki connected the dots and surmised Natsu was planning to replace her in the hunt for Soul Edge. Taki's spirit wanted to continue to try to fight, but her beaten, bruised, bloodied body refused to cooperate. Natsu drew Rekkimaru across Taki's stomach, opening a shallow cut and slashing the skintight spandex Taki wore so well. The outlines of hard muscle in her suit were not woven into the spandex as it may have appeared, it was the product of Taki's body itself. Natsu tore it in several places all over, exposing the flesh of her sculpted body. Tears in the arms, stomach, chest, back, legs. Her suit was utterly destroyed and unfit to wear as clothes with all the slashes Natsu put in it. It still clung tight to her body, ruined as it was. Blood had smeared on Taki's chest and the right side of her face from the cut over her eye. Natsu took up Rekkimaru again, and stabbed it an inch into where the shoulder met the chest. Taki moaned in pain, unable to muster the energy even to scream. Natsu twisted the blade in her shoulder as blood and muscle was displaced from the motion, spilling out and leaving a hollow bleeding hole. Natsu put Rekkimaru to the side, and then hauled the beaten Taki to her feet. Her legs couldn't support her anymore, so Natsu held her up. She went between Taki's legs again, and picked up Taki's beaten body, holding her upside down. Natsu dropped to her knees, delivering a crushing tombstone piledriver. Taki moaned in pain, and her body went slack as Natsu released her. She lay on her back, eyes half open and fluttering, her breathing laboured. "I'm still not satisfied yet... I want complete and total domination over the greatest Fuuma grandmaster ever seen. I want you to submit to me, Taki, as your better." Natsu got under Taki's arms and picked her up to her knees again. She hooked Taki around the neck. Then she yanked Taki to her feet, and dropped downwards onto her back, driving Taki's head into the floor with a DDT. As she fell, she put her right leg out to the side so that Taki landed on it. After the impact of skull on floor, Natsu kept the hold on Taki's neck and tightened it hard, bringing her left leg up over Taki's body and crossing her ankles together, in a body scissors guillotine choke hold. Natsu wrenched hard and arched backward, straining to brutally choke Taki. Taki could make no effort to break the hold, gagging and choking. Natsu held fast, the choke draining Taki's little remaining energy. Taki's body began to spasm from the lack of oxygen. Taki was on the verge of passing out in Natsu's chokehold, before she was released. Taki struggled to get oxygen in her. Natsu took up Rekkimaru again. "It's been fun utterly dominating a grandmaster... but alas, all good things must come to an end... and I simply must leave before you're discovered and I'm wanted dead." Natsu cradled Taki in her lap. Then with a flash, she drew Rekkimaru hard across her throat on an angle. The blade bit deeply into Taki's throat, the angle of the slash drawing some of the length of the blade through her neck, going about one fifth of the way through her neck. Taki suddenly found herself unable to breathe. She looked down. A tidal wave of crimson blood was washing down her chest, over her stomach, soaking the crotch of her destroyed uniform, flowing like a waterfall. Natsu held Taki up in a sitting position by the hair so she would bleed out. Blood pooled almost instantly around Taki. Taki quickly started to feel very cold, shivering as blood continued its exodus from her body. Her heartbeat slowed as more and more blood was pumped out of her body. The pool of blood she was in was almost the size of her upper body. Finally, as an insult, Natsu rammed the blade through Taki's stilling heart. She pulled it out, unplugging the stab wound. Blood gushed out of the puncture in her chest. Natsu looked at Taki's face. Her eyes were closed, her life ebbed away and splashed out on the wooden floor. Taki's body was already very pale looking from having lost nearly all of her blood through the massive, fatal slash wound in her throat. Natsu heard a knock at the door. Her breath caught. No, they can't be done already! I haven't escaped! She strained to listen. She didn't hear a commotion, so fortunately for her, it seemed like there was only one. She hid behind the door. "Hello? Taki, Natsu... I came to ask a question about the preparation." No answer. The door opened. "Grandmaster Taki! What has happened.. Oh no!" Risako rushed over to Taki's body. "She's still warm... this cannot have happened long ago!" At that, Natsu grabbed Risako from behind and clamped her hand over her mouth. "I guess I must make this quick... oh well, it was much more fun destroying a Grandmaster than it would be you, anyway." She drove Rekkimaru through Risako's back, the blade emerging from her chest. Natsu stabbed multiple times in a flurry, needing to kill the witness quickly. She dumped Risako's dead body near Taki's. Wiping down the blade of the kodachi on Taki's clothing, or what remained of it, she gathered up the twin swords. Natsu smiled and struck an arrogant pose. Shizami had done much the same; bragged outwardly about being the youngest Master at the time, but as the months passed, it went to her head more and more, and proved to be her undoing in battle. She had disposed of an adversary and then had flippantly struck a boastful pose, not noticing the throwing knife hurled at her with her adversary's dying strength. The knife had buried itself in her back, piercing her through the heart. Her breath caught in her throat, she looked down, and saw a bloody blade protruding through her chest, and blood, so much blood... pouring out of her. She eventually realized she had been caught, and admitted disgrace. She dropped to her knees, before her life ebbed away, dead before she lay. Natsu seemed destined to repeat the mistakes that lay in unlearned history as she departed in search of the acquisition of Soul Edge, soon to be a wanted-dead ex-member of the Fuuma Clan.