The four girls stood once more outside Room Ten, for what they hoped would be the final time.
“Okay, you guys ready?” Ayane, the self-appointed leader of the group, whispered. Her three comrades nodded and she slowly twisted the doorknob. With her kodachi drawn, she threw the door open and she and Kasumi were the first into the room. The room was a mess. The furniture had all been piled up in a corner, opening up a lot more room, the only thing still in place being the bed, on which Lisa Hamilton and Zack's girlfriend Niki were currently sat and kissing. At either side of the bed, Kasumi Alpha and a girl called Kokoro stood at attention. All four of them had blank white eyes.
Hitomi and Leifang rushed over to check that they were okay, while Kasumi checked the bathroom and Ayane remained observant. Kasumi signalled that the bathroom was clear, while the other two were unable to awaken the entranced girls.
"It's no good," said Hitomi. "We can't wake them."
"Or get them to stop," added Leifang.
"Why would you want to?" asked strange, deep voice. "Why stop them when you will soon be joining them?"
"Who's there!?" Ayane demanded.
She turned and came face-to-face with a genitalia-less man a foot taller than her, with blood-coloured, muscle-like skin; a trio of unnatural yellow eyes, that gave off an evil presence; a lipless, toothy harlequin grin; and deep, spiral-shaped scars at various points across his body.
"Your master," the creature replied as he gripped Ayane's skull firmly and his eyes flashed a bright, yellow light, leaving Ayane stunned.
"Ayane!" Kasumi called, readying her wakizashi.
Leifang and Hitomi quickly turned away, but the creature had a trick up his sleeve.
"Return to my thrall, slave," he commanded.
Hitomi gasped before turning, eyes white, and slowly crossing the room towards her master. She stood beside Ayane, who bore the same symptoms, as their master stroked their cheeks.
"You're Roger Culp, aren't you?" Kasumi asked.
"H-How?" asked a shocked Leifang.
"He eluded death by becoming a fiend."
"Clever girl. Indeed, I am no longer Roger Culp. Culp was but a man. I, on the other hand... am so much more, as you will come to learn. Now, my new thralls, capture them. I have a show to watch."
"Yes, Master," the pair replied before taking their fighting stances. Kasumi and Leifang, likewise, took their stances.
Ayane was on Kasumi immediately. She was deadly with her daggers, but Kasumi had a slight edge in speed, especially with Ayane in her brainwashed state. Kasumi dodged each strike, preparing her counterattack carefully to disarm her sister. Ayane thrust her weapon forward. Kasumi deftly deflected the blow. Ayane quickly attacked with her other weapon. Kasumi just managed to block that as Ayane's other weapon recovered and attacked again.
Hitomi struck. Luckily for Leifang, it was one of the moves she'd used during her kata earlier. Leifang gracefully moved her arms to gently deflect the blow, before following up with an open-palm strike into Hitomi's midsection. The German girl reeled from the blow and Leifang quickly hooked her long leg around Hitomi's ankle and tripped her. She quickly pinned Hitomi to the ground, and tried to awaken her.
Ayane struck with one weapon. Kasumi blocked. Ayane swung her other weapon for Kasumi's back. Kasumi ducked and elbowed Ayane in the gut, winding her and knocking her back. Kasumi swung with all her might, striking one of Ayane's weapons, knocking it out of her hand. She swung for the other but Ayane recovered and hopped back. Both took new stances and prepared to go again.
"Oh, girls?" Fiend-Culp said, getting their attention. "These two are trying to take your precious Hayate away from you."
Leifang was suddenly on her back with Hitomi stood over her, her blank expression replaced by a look of utter contempt. Hitomi had talked about a Hayate a number of times, and it had become aparrent rather quickly that she had a thing for him. Leifang understood why Hitomi looked upon her now with such hatred in her eyes.
Ayane had a similar reaction. Her earlier moves had been sloppy due to her trance, and dodging them had been easy for the clear-minded Kasumi. Now though, she was much more precise with her attacks, coming very close to hitting Kasumi a number of times. If not for her ninja training, Kasumi would most likely be dead.
Hitomi punched Leifang in the face. A number of times. In her prone state, Leifang was powerless to fight back. She just about gave up hope when a pair of arms wrapped around Hitomi's waist, pulled her back and slammed her into the ground with a German Suplex.
"Looks like y'all could use some help."
That accent was unmistakeable; standing over Leifang, offering her a helping hand, was professional wrestler and wannabe rock star, Tina Armstrong. As usual, she was wearing that sexy cowgirl outfit consisting of appropriate hat, gloves and boots, along with blue jeans and a stars and stripes bikini top. The two had had something of a rivalry during the second tournament, though Leifang was glad for the help now.
As she fought, Ayane managed to recover her second blade and was using it to great effect against Kasumi, having already left a few shallow cuts on her arms and legs. Ayane went for another strike, but her arm was caught mid-strike and Kasumi followed the arm to find Helena holding the momentarily stunned Ayane at bay, before Christie appeared and jabbed at Ayane's gut, just narrowly missing her as she escaped Helena's grip and hopped back.
"Helena? What are you doing here?"
"Zis man 'as been trying to control more minds zan just your own. We are 'ere to put a stop to 'im."
"Enough talk!" Christie called. "Here she comes!"
Ayane swung one blade, which Christie ducked under; then the other, which Kasumi stepped in front of Helena to block.
Culp smirked at the sight of the newcomers, thinking how fortuitous it was that the three future slaves had come to him. "Slaves?"
The four entranced women at the bedside stopped what they were doing and turned to face him.
"Why don't you girls assist your slave sisters in their 'recruitment drive'."
"Yes, Master," Kokoro, Alpha and Lisa replied as they moved to obey.
The women were now evenly matched up: Kasumi and Ayane, Leifang and Hitomi, Helena and Kokoro, Tina and Lisa, Christie and Alpha. Niki remained by her master's side, lacking any kind of combat training of her own.
Kasumi knew she needed to end this quickly, and killing Culp seemed the quickest option, though she was definitely not going to break through any time soon. Ayane maintained her fierce offense, though she did seem to be tiring.
Leifang continued to dodge Hitomi's powerful strikes and counter with swift strikes. She seemed to be slowly but surely weakening the karateka.
Tina grabbed Lisa's ankle as the latter attempted a jumping kick. She used Lisa's momentum against her and slammed her into the ground. Lisa's lucha libre style was certainly impressive and agile, but Tina had learned from the best. She knew how to deal with any type of wrestling style that came her way. As Lisa tried to sweep Tina's leg, the blonde jumped over her opponent's leg and delivered an elbow drop.
Helena was having a more difficult time. She had recently discovered that Kokoro was her half-sister through an affair of her father's. This knowledge held Helena back as she did not want to harm her sister. Kokoro, on the other hand, has no such qualms and put her skills to good use against the heiress.
Christie knew how Alpha fought, from fights against both her and her genetic template. She deflected a number of strikes before going in with some swift jabs, her style's specialty. She managed to force Alpha against a wall and lay into her while she could not escape.
Seeing that his minions seemed to be failing, Culp sent Niki into the fray and decided it best to take part himself. His first target was the woman at the top of his list, Helena. She was not doing well against Kokoro, receiving a fierce elbow to the chest, staggering her. She stumbled back into Culp, quickly turning around, only to be met by three flashing yellow eyes. Her own eyes turned white as she succumbed to his spell. "I obey," the French woman stated flatly.
Christie continued her assault against Alpha, sure that the clone would soon be finished. As her she drove her hand forward for the finishing blow, her arms was struck from the side, knocking it off course. She wildly swung her arm towards the new target, finding herself striking Helena across the face. Christie's momentary confusion allowed Kokoro to strike from behind, shoving her forward, right into Culp's grasp. Much like Helena, she too was soon in his power.
Kasumi waited for the right moment to strike. Ayane, clearly tiring, swung for her with her dagger. Kasumi hooked it with her own weapons and pulled it from her hand. She did the same with the second and shoved Ayane's back sending her staggering past Kasumi, giving her sister a good shot at her neck. With one swift chop from her hand, the battle was over. However, she was soon attacked by Helena and Alpha. Helena was clearly hypnotized and she could briefly see Christie and Kokoro now engaging in other fights.
Leifang easily dodged another strike from Hitomi. She had an opportunity now and drove her high heel down on Hitomi's bare foot. Hitomi gripped her foot and hopped in place. "Ow! What did you do that for!?"
"Oh, you're awake," Leifang replied in surprise.
"Awake? What do you…? He got me again, didn't he?" Hitomi seemed more annoyed than worried.
"You and a few others."
"Like them?" Hitomi asked, pointing to Kokoro and Niki as they approached.
"Yeah, them," Leifang replied, taking her stance.
Niki went to punch Hitomi, who easily blocked and punched her in the stomach. Niki went down and did not get back up.
"Wow," Hitomi uttered at the sight. "One hit and you're down."
"A little help here," Leifang called as Kokoro attacked. Neither girl had the strength or skill advantage, but while Leifang had the advantage in experience, she had still just finished a fierce fight with Hitomi while Kokoro remained fresh.
Christie had become involved in the battle between the two wrestlers, giving Lisa a fighting chance. Never one to be deterred by the odds, Tina simply accepted the challenge and fought on. She irish whipped Lisa away to buy herself a little time against Christie. She pulled off a few jabs and body blows before Lisa recovered. Lisa went for a dropkick, which Tina ducked under, causing Lisa to kick Christie square in the face and knock her over. Before Lisa could get back to her feet, Tina grabbed her around the legs and began to swing her around. Just as Christie got to her feet, Lisa was released and flew right into her, knocking both down.
As Tina went to help someone else, she bumped into Culp, who gripped her head and his eyes flashed as he commented, "Your strength is impressive. You will serve me well."
Tina stared back with blank eyes and replied, "Yes, Master. Ah shall serve you well."
Kasumi struggled against Alpha and Helena's onslaught, though she could sense that the two were not in sync. This presented a few opportunities for her to strike back, but not many. She was soon disarmed by Alpha, who forced Kasumi to her knees and went for the final blow.
Her weapon was blocked by a pair of daggers held by arms at either side of Kasumi.
"Get up!" Ayane commanded.
Kasumi scrambled out of the way and grabbed her weapon before Helena could stop her. Ayane shoved Alpha back and resumed her stance, Kasumi taking hers right beside her. Nodding to each other, the two sisters went on the offensive. Alpha was unprepared for Ayane's fighting style and was forced onto the defensive, staggering back as Ayane struck at her repeatedly. Helena's attacks were much easier for Kasumi to deal with now that Alpha was out of the picture.
Kasumi gripped Helena's shoulders and swung around before curling up on the ground behind her and pulling her down with her. Kasumi kicked Helena in the back hard, sending her flying into Alpha, knocking her off balance and allowing Ayane to flip forward and dropkick Alpha out through the door. That done, Kasumi delivered a chop to the back of Helena's neck, rendering her unconscious.
Hitomi punched Kokoro, knocking her off balance, allowing Leifang to deliver a leg sweep. Once Kokoro was on the ground, Hitomi delivered a swift and precise strike to Kokoro's face, knocking her out.
Before either could catch their breath, however, Tina rushed in and speared Hitomi to the floor. Before Leifang could react, Culp had a strong grip on her cheeks and forced her gaze to meet his.
Christie and Lisa were recovering from their fight with Tina. Her giant swing and its disorientating effect had snapped Lisa out of her trance, while Christie had been awoken by the impact of Lisa's body against hers. Catching sight of Hitomi's struggle against her three opponents, they - alongside Kasumi and Ayane - rushed into the fray. The two DOATEC employees pulled Leifang away while the two ninja attacked Culp.
Culp's flesh seemed quite resilient, easily brushing off strikes from the sisters' weapons. They synchronised their attacks from both sides, hoping his healing ability would be weakened if divided into two areas. Unfortunately, it was not. He healed at the same rate no matter how many wounds were inflicted upon him at once. Ayane moved around to his back and dug one of her daggers deep into his back and left it there, testing to see if she could keep a wound open this way. As far as she could tell, she could. As she backed away from him to avoid a quick strike, Culp turned and stepped aside, revealing the now entranced Kasumi.
Tina gripped Hitomi's legs, determined to perform another giant swing, Hitomi, ready for such an attack, pulled one leg free from her grip before she could tighten it, and kicked her in the face, sending her reeling. Hitomi quickly stood up and delivered a series of quick, powerful blows, finally punching Tina back against the wall, where she slid to the floor, unconscious.
Now freed up, Hitomi set her sights on Leifang, who was currently entranced. As she moved to assist Lisa and Christie, Culp moved away from the battle with the two ninja, leaving them to fight each other while he fought those remaining. Lisa fell quickly to his power, though Hitomi rushed in and delivered a series of strikes to Leifang, disorientating her and leaving her open to a counterattack. The counterattack was a powerful punch to the stomach, knocking the wind out of Leifang and leaving her unconscious. By now, Lisa was looking into Culp's eyes.
Ayane was on the defensive. While she did still want to kill Kasumi, something inside her had changed since the fourth tournament. Despite everything, a part of Ayane still loved Kasumi, both as a sister and as a friend. She passed up a number of opportunities for quick wins, both lethal and non. She needed Kasumi. She continued to evade Kasumi's attacks until the time was right. She unleashed the spell she had been building up over a few minutes, forcing two fingers against Kasumi's forehead and awakening her from her trance. She seemed a little confused for a moment before noticing Hitomi and Christie.
Hitomi fought the entranced Lisa, leaving Culp to Christie. Hoping Lisa could be awoken as she had, Hitomi stomped on Lisa's foot, though nothing happened. As Lisa attacked, Hitomi took every opportunity to stomp on her foot, to no avail. Eventually, Christie's fight brought her closer and she stomped on Lisa's foot with her heel. That did the trick and the two-on-two became a three-on-one. Then a five-on-one as Kasumi and Ayane joined them. Then a four-on-one as Culp delivered a swift backhand and knocked Hitomi aside.
"This has certainly been an interesting and enlightening experience," Culp taunted, "but I'm afraid our time is up. The next time you go under, you'll stay under."
Lisa stepped back and whispered "Torn Sky Blast" to the two ninja before rushing in alongside Christie. Understanding, the two ninja nodded to each other and began to gather the energy required for such a powerful ninpo. Kasumi would be the wielder, while Ayane served to power the blast up more, beyond what either had ever seen before.
Christie unleashed a flurry of quick strikes as Lisa performed some stronger acrobatic moves and Hitomi returned with some powerful punches. None of them could really harm Culp and it seemed that without a weapon or special technique, their efforts would amount to nothing. But they could feel the energy the two ninja were building up, inspiring the three to keep fighting until their compatriots were ready to unleash their fury.
Lisa attacked with a flip kick, which Culp countered by grabbing her leg and slamming her onto the ground. He went to lift her so he could slam her again, but Hitomi jumped in and kicked him with enough force to stagger him, forcing Lisa out of his grasp. He swung wildly at the two, but Christie deflected his blow and struck at his elbow. It seemed to hurt him as he reeled back, clutching the elbow momentarily.
"Now!" Kasumi cried.
The three women were positioned all around Culp in a triangle formation. Christie jabbed the elbow of his other arm, sending him staggering back towards Lisa, who roundhouse kicked him to the left, turning him toward Hitomi as he approached her. She focused all of her might into one last punch, slamming her fist into his gut as he approached and shoving him with enough force to send him off the ground, back to the two ninja. The two took aim for Ayane's weapon, still buried in his back, and unleashed all of their energy into the Torn Sky Blast, a torrent of lightning energy, usually red for Kasumi but currently tinted purple. The blast ripped through Culp, leaving a gaping hole through his midsection. The dagger embedded itself into the wall by the door as Culp landed flat on his face and stopped moving.
"I-Is he...?" Hitomi asked.
After observing Culp's lack of either movement or regeneration, Lisa nodded. "Looks like it."
Christie approached the body cautiously. She lightly kicked him, then took out a small needle and stuck it into the charred flesh inside the hole. The needle was coated in a special venom. "Just in case," she noted. It looked like she wouldn't need it though; Culp's inner flesh seemed too heavily burnt for someone to live through.
After a few moments of inactivity, the five women let out a collective sigh of relief. They all sat down to rest a while as the other women began to come to. By the time they were all awake and getting caught up on what had happened, Zack suddenly entered with some of the ship's security.
"What, did I miss the party?" he asked obliviously.
The women simply groaned and left the room, Niki staying with him. They found that Alpha had disappeared, but they could deal with that later. For now, the nine women decided not to kill one another for the rest of the trip, and instead get something to eat, then take it easy and get some well-deserved rest.