Chapter 18: Start off.
The sunlight reached her bedroom like lightning. A couple knocks and a small ‘rise and shine, my lady’ was what woke her up today, just like her early mornings used to be before she moved. Today was the day she had feared since she was six years old, even though it’s an annual thing. It wouldn’t help no matter what she did; it’ll still turn out like a nightmare. She sat upon her bed with a heavy head, clutching her white sheets. Hinata sighed, got up and called the servant outside her door. The woman entered carefully and closed the door behind her silently. She wore this joyful grin as she rushed over to the heiress with the blue box and a hairbrush in her hands.
“What an exciting day this is, or what do you think, Lady Hinata?” She looked eagerly at Hinata and gave her the box, but she simply smiled in return. ‘Exciting’ won’t have been her first choice of words. The servant brushed Hinata’s hair as she undressed and hesitantly opened the blue box. She quickly dropped it on the floor. To the servant it just looked like it slipped out of her grasp, but Hinata gritted her teeth and made a hissing noise in the back of her throat.
The woman picked up the thing inside of the box and held it up to the heiress. “Here, my lady. Shall I help you put it on?”
Hinata shook her head without meeting her eyes. “No thanks, I’ll be fine.”
With that she was left alone, holding the uniform in her hands. It looked like a normal karate uniform, karategi, but it had a light purple color and on the back it was a logo saying ‘Lavender’ written with thick, black, and curly writing. She slowly put in the pants. It was probably made out of some expensive cloth so it would stay solid and hard to rip apart, but still comfy and light enough to move fast without thinking about it. Then, with a frowning face, she put on the upper part and fastened it with a belt black as ink. As a finish she sat her hair up in a ponytail.
The reason why she couldn’t stand the uniform and would rather burn it then and there, wearing it if she had to, might be obvious; it reminded her of this sport. But it also meant that as long as she had it, she knew she still had to fight someday.
After breakfast Neji, Hinata, Hanabi, Hiashi and Dr. Orochimaru left for the match. Hinata wore a black hoodie which hid her face and the logo on her back. For once the event was held in Konoha, but Hinata didn’t fear her friends. This wasn’t a sport for just anyone to come and watch; they had to accompany a representative to get in. That’s why it was quite a shock to see Sasuke standing outside the entrance. Because of the hoodie, he didn’t recognize her before she was right in front of him with Hanabi tagging along.
Hinata stared worried at him. “What are you doing here?!”
Sasuke scratched the back of his head. “When did you become so feisty? Anyway, remember when I promised to always help you through stuff like this? When we were six?” She nodded. “I will keep that promise, not because I care about you, but Naruto are always bragging about never going back on one’s word and other crap like that.”
Even though Sasuke had just insulted the guy she loved, Hinata actually smiled. “Thanks. I appreciate it, Sasuke.”
As he came along he noticed Hinata’s cloths and frowned, but didn’t say anything about it. The sport was called ‘killer karate’ (a fucking stupid name from Sasuke’s point of view). Killer Karate had nothing to do with karate, and the whole point was to hurt (if not kill) your opponent enough so that he can’t move of fight anymore. The rules of killer karate are very simple:
1) Knowledge of your opponent before the match is strictly forbidden.
2) Their own body is the only allowed weapon.
3) It is forbidden to move out of the triangle during the first minute.
4) The match ends when one of them are unable to keep fighting.
They also had that stupid tradition that the winner delivered the final punch when everyone knew his opponent had lost (kind of like the winner’s way of expressing victory before the fight got called off). Sasuke rolled his eyes. He had never been the Uchiha’s representative, Itatchi did that job, but he had practiced killer karate and fought Hinata himself in private. Why he chose to support her was just a childish feeling telling him to. But even though it was childish, Sasuke would never admit that he wanted to help her because he recognized the sorrow and pain in her eyes after they fought.
They entered a wardrobe reserved to Lavender. This is where they would wait between the matches, this is the last place Hinata would be fully conscious in a while, and this is where her mind will break down and she’ll scream an ear piercing scream after each fight.
They didn’t wait long before Lavender’s representative was called into the huge hall. There was only one hall. It had high security, like bank security, and it was enormous. The rep’s usually used a lot of space when fighting, so they always choose the biggest halls in the area. This one was the size of a football arena. The system this year seemed to tell that it was sixteen clans attending, meaning it was eight first matches before the second round with the remaining eight clans. Then it was the third round with four matched, and the final match with the remaining two. If we summed it up, Hinata had to fight four matches before she could go home… or carried home.
Hinata clenched and unclenched her fists as she tried to relax when they walked from the wardrobe to the hall. No one could see her because they had switched all lights in the building off (they followed glowing signs leading to the hall), but she still walked stiffly beside her sister.
Hanabi squeezed her sister’s hand. “You’ll do great, sis! You always do, so no need to worry so much - You’re shaking!”
The heiress didn’t even try to believe her sister; Hanabi didn’t know why she was afraid. Their father always sent her out of the room before the match was over. Hinata shivered.
Sasuke who walked behind her silently petted her shoulder as they walked through the security control. “Don’t die, Hyuga. I don’t wanna be the one spilling it to Naruto.”
Hinata was way too devastated from before to say anything to that, but she turned quickly in pure shock, making some questioning noise.
Sasuke sighed and most probably rolled his eyes. “It’s clear as water, you idiot.”
The room was pitch black and indeed huge from the sounds their footsteps. The only light was two softly glowing triangles on the floor in each end of the hall. They were a man’s length and width, glowing weak yellow. Neji nudged Hinata in the arm. “Just try to… forget about it.”
“You’re not funny,” Hinata stated a bit too rude. “I’m sorry…”
“No. Wrong choice of words, sorry.”
The speaker, or commentator, roared in the dark and everyone fell silent: “The representative of Sawako; please move to the triangle blinking green at the west side.” Hinata heard one person walk for short twenty seconds, heavy footsteps made of a heavy man. He man entered the triangle and the yellow light switched to green the moment he sat a foot inside. The speaker continued. “Representative of Lavender; move to the eastern triangle blinking green.”
Hinata’s stomach twisted fifteen times before she took the first step towards the light. She felt Sasuke pat her shoulder again, Neji touched her back as she walked by him, her sister giving her a short hug, and her father probably nodded to her. Dump… dump… dump. Her opponent could probably guess by her light footsteps that she was a woman even though it was rare for a woman to practice killer karate. That is, if he had good enough hearing to actually spot the sound of her walking. The triangle drew closer with each step. Hinata knew that as fast as she entered it, there would be no turning back. It’s illegal to leave the triangle before the whistle go off. ‘For Hanabi.’ The heiress took the last step. Green light glowed around her.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” a cheerful filled the hall. “It is time for the annual ‘Killer Karate Combat’ held this year in Konoha, the capital of the fire country. Killer karate has always been a game of honor and respect for wealthy clans all over the world. There may not be a price to win, except the honor of being a part of the strongest and most respected clan in the whole world. This is the first match of this year’s ‘Killer Karate Combat’. Sawako’s representative and our leading champion from Lavender have the great honor of starting this wonderful event we have waited for a year to spend together once again. Now,” Slightly dramatic music started playing in the background. “You all know the rules. Use your first minute wisely, the first one unable to move loses. Have a great time dear clansmen.”
There was a short pause with dead silence, like no one even breathed, although Hinata struggled to keep her breathing steady. She closed her eyes shut and focused only on inhaling. She couldn’t faint now.
“On the western part we have Jodi Sawako from the Sawako unit.” A flashlight got directed to her opponent. Jodi Sawako was defiantly a strong man. Standing normally and straight like that, his muscles was still very visible, even to Hinata at the other side of the hall and she didn’t have that good eyesight. But beside that, Jodi looked like just another guy in his early twenties, guys she had fought for years. ‘I’m sorry if I ruin your chances to ever get married and have a family, Jodi. I hope you know what you’re doing.’ She speaker made a cracking noise and Hinata knew what was coming. “This is Sawako’s first year of attending KKC. But now ladies and gentlemen, let me present our leading champion with ten years of KKC in the past since the age of six; Hinata Hyuga from Lavender!” Hinata closed her eyes as another flashlight got directed to her triangle. She didn’t open them before all the lights got turned on. “Let the first minute countdown being!” A huge widescreen placed on one of the walls flickered and the number 60 turned to 59.
This part of the match was only invented for the rep’s to have a good look at each other and decide the easiest way to kill the other one. Most rep’s used this time to harass the opponent and take away the courage they had before the fight. Hinata’s opponents usually did that to her because she was the first woman they’ve ever fought.
So it was no surprise when Jodi laughed hysterically. “A woman?! You gotta be kidding with me, a girl can’t fight. BRING IN YOUR REAL CONTESTANT, LAVENDER!”
He kept teasing her, but no one on the east part really cared. In less than a minute, he would be begging for mercy. Hinata gritted her teeth. Her father’s ‘gift’… When Hinata was five years old and had just started practicing killer karate, her father realized she had a hidden talent for it. But the heiress was simply too gentle and kindhearted to hurt anyone on purpose. At the time, Hanabi was too young to start training, but the Hyugas had to defend their title as the strongest clan. Hiashi found a solution to the problem, but his wife was forbid him to try something like that on their daughter. Hiashi loved his wife very much… but pride was more prioritized. He went and asked Dr. Orochimaru for a favor. The day Hinata turned six her father said that he would give her power and honor for her birthday. Orochimaru had sort of hypnotized her. Every time she was ready to fight and heard a whistle go off, she would immediately become emotionless. She wouldn’t be able to sense anything; not hearing, no eyesight, not even pain at the moment until the whistle go off again. Her only thought would be “Kill it slowly and entertainingly. Do not get killed.” She murdered two strangers on her birthday when they tested her. Not long time passed before they knew they had to do something about the gift. Because Hinata felt such pain, guilt, regret, and sorrow for taking two innocent lives just like that, they fixed the gift so that she won’t kill anyone beside her opponent and she won’t remember anything from the fight. But she did. They didn’t know why, but Hinata was always left with images of the fight afterwards, like her mind had been taking pictures just to remind her of what kind of monster she turned into each time. Without feelings to interrupt her mind or being able to feel pain, she was a killer machine who could kill her opponents to eternity until someone shot her head, ripped her heart out, or detached her limps.
“And how are you supposed to move all my weight anywhere, little princess, huh? You don’t own muscles, ya wimp!”
It was pointless to struggle against the gift once it took over. Hinata knew that. But she still tried so hard to fight it each time. She couldn’t fight it for long though; her mind would go blank after a couple seconds. She might do it for Hanabi, but she still hated to hurt other people, no matter how rude or evil they were. They didn’t know better, just like Hanabi, they had been told that to win KKC would bring honor to their clan. The ‘honor’ the Hyugas had obtained for ten years since Hinata became their representative.
15 seconds left.
Hinata didn’t usually say anything except one question she always asked her opponents. “Why would you risk your life for your family’s honor?” She shouldn’t expect a good answer, but she kept waiting for those with a more logical reason than ‘honor’.
Jodi seemed to be a bit taken aback by the sudden question, but he soon gor his laid back attitude back. “Why? Because of the honor, that’s why! Now I wonder why a weak creature like you would do it, but I don’t really care. You’re butter soon anyway!”
“I’m sorry. I hope you keep living after this, Jodi,” said with true love and care pleading her voice. She took a deep breath. Hinata tried to block her mind, build a wall, but how can you block out something that’s already there? The black hole in her chest itched as a high, piercing, mind-blowing sound occupied her head. The whistle. Her view disappeared even though her eyes were open and she couldn’t feel her legs or arms. It felt like a dark creature ate up her nerve system from her feet and up. Then a kissing voice sneaked into her mind like a poisonous snake. A purple snake. It hissed silently ‘Kill it slowly and entertainingly. Do not get killed, little heiress.’
And her mind was detached from her body. At this point, no time really passed for Hinata. It was like a short time of sleep. It felt like she just sat there in a white room with no ability to move. Or say anything.
There was a sound of a whistle again, clearing the room and sending her back to reality. Her view came back in an instant as she fell backwards. She heard a person running behind her and just managed to catch her before she hit the floor. Neji lifted her up quickly and ran with her out of the room to prevent her from seeing the body before her. But she saw it. Jodi’s body didn’t seem to be lying naturally. An arm is not supposed to be twisted like that. His uniform was strained with blood and ripped at places. But he wasn’t dead. Jodi stared at her like she was an inhuman monster like no other. He was terrified. He was even too scared to scream out of pain. Neji brought Hinata to the wardrobe and had just got inside before the images turned in. Hiashi and Orochimaru had just arrived and locked the door behind them when Hinata’s ear piercing scream filled the soundproof room.
Sasuke had gone off to find Hanabi. He couldn’t do anything for Hinata right now anyway. It was about no one in the hallways and it didn’t seem like the next contestants would be called for a while. They had to repair the holes in the floor after Hinata’s fight first. Outside Sasuke could hear the sound of an ambulance coming, probably to pick up that Jodi Sawako. It would be about fifteen ambulances coming here today, and Hinata would be the only contestant leaving this place in a car instead. The only people he saw would be the one arranging KKC, the security guards around the hall, and some small children playing around, probably being the siblings to the contestants.
Sasuke sighed. ‘Three more rounds to go, Hyuga. Hang in there.’
Contestants got called up once in a while, more ambulances arrived, Hinata fought two more fights, and she screamed even louder each time. She even got her left arm dislocated in her third fight, but felt no pain so she kept going. When she turned conscious afterwards she still refused to give in. She forbid Neji take over even though she was panting heavily with sweat streaming and eyes crying. She had this determined look in her eyes saying ‘I will die protecting my family, if that’s what it takes. Bring it on.’ Tsunade had come by and Sasuke had brought her in. She managed to relocate Hinata’s arm so she could move it, but it still sent a wave of pain each time. The pauses shortened between the rounds, mostly because it was fewer fights to be fought when contestants got eliminated so rapidly. Hours had passed since they arrived, and it was finally time for Hinata’s last fight. She could go home afterwards. Sasuke had gone out to play with Hanabi, or rather spar with her outside, so he didn’t hear it when the final match got called up.
A cracking noise came from the speaker. “Representatives of Lavender and Habanaro; meet in the hall for the final match. Good luck, and must the strongest clan win.”
Hinata rose up on shaky legs. Tsunade had given her some painkillers, so it didn’t hurt all that much, but she was still slightly dizzy. Neji supported her as they walked to her last fight. Hiashi walked in front of them emotionless as ever in the dark corridor. He won’t be satisfied until Hinata had won it all.
Neji squeezed his cousin lightly. “One more and then home again, my lady.”
She panted twice and nodded weakly, keeping her eyes straight forward.
Hiashi shot her a sticky glare. “Walk proudly, Hinata. This isn’t just any match. Act like a Hyuga.”
His daughter obeyed and slowly straightened up. Neji hesitantly let go of her. She still breathed heavily, but she walked by herself. They reached the security guards and Hiashi showed them their ID for the fourth time today. “Where’s Sasuke and Hanabi, Neji?” she whispered.
“I don’t know. They should have come back by now.” Just as he said that, they saw Hanabi turn the corner running.
“Hey! Wait up!” Hinata was about to ask but Hanabi interrupted her. “Sasuke said he had to use the bathroom and told me to find you instead. This is the last match, right?” The heiress nodded to her little sister and they walked in.
Just like the other times the hall was pitch black. Dark background music was playing. Their footsteps made even more noise this time than the other times. Maybe because the other contestant’s part was also quiet. That was highly unusual. It used to be only the Hyugas who stayed silent before the match. That wasn’t a good sign.
Or at least they thought that was the deal, but it turned out to be wrong. The Hyugas didn’t realize they weren’t even there before three sets of different, and really loudly footsteps approached the room in the other end. A lot of threats could be heard from the other part (not directed to Hinata, but among them), some harassment and s tad complaining. Maybe her final opponent had a slight clue on what this actually meant –
“That’s the spirit! You’re gonna kick his ass so badly he can’t sit on it ever again! HAHA!” a deep and very mature male voice yelled out.
“YOU BET!” a younger male voice shouted optimistically.
Or maybe not… Hinata sighed. The speaker cracked a couple times. “Dear remaining finalists, you have the honor…” And he held the same speech as he always did about how this is it and it’s now or never. It took some time before he finally stopped. Hinata just wanted to get it over with so she could go home. Btu she still clenched her fists in protest as the speaker said “Representative of Lavender; please enter the eastern triangle. Lavender unit, please stand by the closest wall and enjoy the match, thank you very much.”
The heiress tried to walk normally, but her right foot sent pains through her nerves every time she put weight on it. She reached the glowing triangle and hesitated. No, she had to - one more. One step and she was in, it glowed like green grass around her, but not enough to reveal her face or figure.
“Representative of Habanaro; please enter the western triangle. Habanaro unit, please pull back against the closest wall and enjoy the match, thank you.”
Hinata listened carefully to his steps. Did they have any character? It only seemed like he walked with wide steps, nothing else. His triangle switched to green. Hinata closed her eyes shut. In the final round, they would reveal the contestants before presenting them. Lights flickered and the room was lit up in an instance.
“Our leading champion, Hinata Hyuga, with ten years of KKC in her archive –“
Hinata stood straight and opened her eyes, staring directly at her opponent. He had a normal built body, his uniform was ripped just like her own was and he looked tired too.
Why did he have such familiar ocean blue eyes? But why did he have spiky, blonde hair? He had three whisker marks on each cheek.
Her heart stopped beating.
Something got ripped apart inside of her. …her soul?
“- meets first-year Naruto Uzumaki in the final fight of this year’s ‘Killer Karate Combat’!”
To be continued...