Chapter 59: From the Ashes… “So that’s it then?” said Shogun. “They’re all gone?” “Indeed,” replied Super Shrew. “Once more you’ve failed to save what is most precious to you, and once more you are the soul survivor.” “Then I have no reason to let anything hang back,” said Shogun. “I only have one reason left to live, and that’s to make you suffer.” “That’s the spirit Shogun. Now, show me what you’ve got!” boomed Super Shrew. Shogun took a stance, Super Shrew followed suit, but as he did he felt something latch to his legs, holding him still. As he looked down to see the headband wrapped around his ankle he struggled to fight against it, but too late, Shogun had already gone on the offensive. So that was why he’d made him keep talking. Shogun was enraged by what was being said, but he needed Super Shrew to hold still long enough to be ensnared for the dozens of powerful kicks that he landed against the face of his enemy. Super Shrew was surprised by the assault, but not for long. He quickly regained his composure and brought his palms together in a powerful clap that sent out a shockwave powerful enough to knock a wagon into pieces. Despite this Shogun was undeterred. He’d known that such retaliation was coming, and dashed to the side of the strike. The blow evaded Shogun quickly channeled a great deal of energy into that gauntlet of his and rammed it into the unguarded side of his foe. Super Shrew shifted, cringing slightly, and leaving himself open for Shogun to follow up with a powerful spinning back fist, again employing the gauntlet. Super Shrew finally came to his senses again and the two began trading dozens of blows, neither fighter seeming harmed by the attacks of the other. With each blow Shogun’s gauntlet grew brighter, his eyes grew more enraged, he became more and more feral. Super Shrew grinned as Shogun became more and more beastly in appearance. He’d finally given up on controlling the monster within him. All he wanted to do now was achieve revenge for the damages that had been done, and he was willing to do that at the cost of his own immortal soul. “That’s it Shogun, show me the true face of your bloodline, show me the true powers of your clan, show me the power of the Devil Bear!” cackled Super Shrew as Shogun’s body seemed to grow and warp. Shogun couldn’t hear the voice of his hated enemy. His ears were deafened now, flooded with the memories of all of the screams that had plagued him for all those years, he was no longer able to push them aside. The cries of countless hundreds forced their way through his very soul, drowning him in a sea of regret and anger. He would no longer sit by and do nothing but feel helpless. He would kill Super Shrew, he no longer cared what the cost, if Super Shrew wanted death, then Shogun would eagerly oblige. Suddenly Shogun stopped and let out a cry of unbridled pain. He could no longer stand as his skin crawled with something struggling to break free of its fragile cage. Super Shrew looked on in sadistic delight, knowing that the moment had finally come, and he would soon face his greatest foe yet. Shogun screamed as his body expanded and twisted in an unnatural manner. His skin bulged, his eyes rolled back, and all at once he very rapidly became something inhuman. Shogun let out a roar as the transformation was finally complete. All of his rage, all of his hate, everything he had tried to keep contained exploded out now and took a physical form. The bear let out another roar as it barreled toward Super Shrew. The villain was awestruck by the speed of the beast, and thus unable to avoid its massive paw as it struck him, sending him crashing through dozens of platforms, and then stopping him with another as it moved past him at speeds that were simply impossible. Shogun bit his massive jaws into the body of Super Shrew, crushing through the armor that shielded the fiend so, then released him and began batting the villain around, smashing his claws into his nemesis at every available opportunity. After some moments of struggle Super Shrew managed to put some distance between the two of them and instantly unleashed dozens of power blasts at the brutal monster he now faced. Shogun charged through the blasts, oblivious to the power that had been pushed into them as he knocked Super Shrew to the side yet again, and then latched onto his leg and swung him around like a chew toy. Super Shrew attempted to cry out in pain, but was unable to draw in the breath to do so. He’d never faced a beating this savage and complete in his life. He smiled to himself as he considered what the true devil bear would be capable of mustering against him, but alas, he was still a long way from achieving that level of fight, he had to draw out everything the Shogun bear was capable of before the TFFer’s body gave out under the strain of the power it now commanded. Super Shrew landed a powerful uppercut to the jaw of Shogun, then a kick with his good leg that forced the beast to skid along the ground. This opening allowed Super Shrew to deliver a hard flurry against the chest of bear Shogun, then leap up and deliver another uppercut before he could be answered. Shogun roared through the pain, but his attempted swipe was too slow, and only left an opening that let Super Shrew throw him several feet, following up with a powerful strike to the midsection of the beast. Shogun roared and quickly stood, then bashed Super Shrew again and again, beating the villain back. The two traded blows more fiercely than ever before. Each drew blood time and time again, but they were unable to feel the toll that this fight was taking on their bodies. They both desired more than anything to finish the other, although Super Shrew was torn between victory and death, despite being able to achieve both now. Still they fought harder and faster now, refusing to give up, both pushing themselves beyond any limits. Hours passed with both fighters giving this battle everything that they could muster. They refused to accept any possibility of defeat, and yet eventually it had to come. Shogun let out a roar of pain as his body suddenly gave out. Between the strain of fighting a foe as skilled and powerful as Super Shrew and his body’s inability to maintain the unholy amounts of chi-flow that were required in this state he began to succumb to its own power, in moments he disintegrated, becoming nothing more than a memory in the mind of the villain he’d tried in vain to stop. Super Shrew leered with disdain on the spot Shogun’s body had vanished. The boy had failed. It had taken him centuries to locate one who had the potential to defeat him, and that one in a billion being had failed him. So it seemed he would never know the satisfaction of finally knowing both victory and defeat. With a sigh Super Shrew turned his back on that spot, and began to talk to himself. “So that’s it? You put up such a grand battle, only to die before it was complete,” he said. “Die?” came a voice he recognized, “Didn’t you know?” There was a brilliant flare of light before him as a huge aura suddenly appeared, its mere touch enough to burn like the hottest flame. Super Shrew felt himself sliding back, but managed to stop himself, though he was still unable to see the source of this light before him. Moments passed and the light slowly pulled back, taking on the shape of a man. The figure before him stood steadily as his long cloak blew in an unseen wind. The headband that was tied tightly across his forehead flapped rapidly, and contained the only visible detail of his body. It was the symbol of the Shogun clan, more specifically a modified version of it, which took out the figure that led it to include the word “cursed” in its translation. Super Shrew stared in awe at the being that stood before him as the meaning of that change sunk in, and the light finally faded. “Shoguns never die,” said I. R. as his body, now clad in a white gi and the same green cloak became visible, missing that gauntlet on his right arm. “Very impressive,” said Super Shrew. “I do hope you didn’t waste all of your energy on that little entrance of yours.” “Not at all,” answered Shogun. “But I am running short on time, and as such I need to finish this soon. I’m going to end this battle with one more move.” “You seem most assured of yourself, well I do certainly look forward to it,” said Super Shrew. “You don’t get a choice,” said Shogun as Super Shrew suddenly felt an unfamiliar pain shoot through his body, one that forced him to one knee, and left him unable to move. “What?!” he growled. “The aftereffects of a Shogun purifying himself, the foe that he battled against will be unable to move if it has come into contact with the blood of the devil bear,” said Shogun as he took his stance. “This is the end.” “Impressive Shogun, most impressive,” said Super Shrew as the air began to swirl around Shogun’s hand, which was soon engulfed in a golden energy that burned like the sun. “This hand of mine glows with a purifying gold, its loud roar tells me to punish your evil! My pain, my joy, my faith and my regret, here they are poured forth for a new day! Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeereeeeeee I go! Shogun School, Final Exceed Technique! Atomic, Dynasty, FIST!” Shogun said, as he prepared to dash forward.