Shin brought up his arms to block John's kick. His eyes were slightly out of focus, but they were sharp. A concentration that seemed to be using all of his senses at once to predict that battle situation. No, to break down every moment into the smallest divisible time segment.
It seemed that Shin planned to reduce the force of John's attack by carefully managing the momentum from the moment of contact. The essence of Tai chi, meeting hard with soft.
"That won't work."
-John's kick broke through, accelerating and smashing Shin's arms.
A loud crack echoed and Shin staggered back, clutching his left arm.
It seemed that he had managed to shift at the last second, decisively giving up his left arm to prevent both from being shattered.
John frowned and lowered his leg. "Too much. A bit less force."
This was troublesome. He really, really wanted to beat Shin up. That bastard was the source of this karmic anomaly and disaster that John had been facing since he arrived.
'You know, you should really stop lying to your-'
*I wasn't asking you!*
John spat on the ground and then cracked his knuckles.
In any case, this was a problem. Even while restraining his powers to an absolute minimum, John couldn't change the fact that his physique was far beyond a human's. While he had been fighting at the level of a skilled human, the fact that his bones were harder than any mineral in existence and his flesh couldn't be pierced or torn by anything in this universe meant Shin would still lose out.
Which wasn't something John really felt bad about, but that meant he wouldn't have a punching bag for very long before it broke. And he still needed that guy alive if he wanted to resolve the situation too...
Shin slowly straightened his body and chuckled. "You seem pretty eager for one not after my life. Were I any other man, my corpse would be lying on the ground already."
John furrowed his brows, thinking about how to resolve the situation. And then he sighed. "This feels like cheating... But I suppose it's fine every now and then."
"Hm?" Shin frowned. "What are you-"
John snapped his fingers. With it, an intangible presence fell on the surroundings.
Shin bristled, eyes scanning the area. His frown deepened and then he turned to look at John. "What did you do?"
John cracked his neck and said, "You're too weak for me to go all out without you turning into dust, and I'm too strong even while holding back to fight without taking your life. So..." He grinned and said, "New rules. No matter how much damage you take or how much pain you feel, you'll always be kept on the verge of death. But don't worry. People like you love pushing beyond your limits, right? Just think of this as training from hell."
Shin shook his head. "I do not understand you. But if an unfathomable- Kuh!"
Blood and teeth flew from Shin's mouth and the man staggered back.
"Still talk too much."
Shin's eyes narrowed and he exhaled, charging at John.
The snowstorm picked up, and Shin started to move, performing fancy footwork to gain momentum from the shifting winds. It was almost like a dance, an azure dragon swimming through the skies. And-
John stepped forward and threw a straight jab at Shin's chest.
The air snapped, causing the winds to scatter. At the same time, a sonic boom erupted, smashing into Shin.
The Seiryuu Patriarch froze in place, a hole appearing over his chest. And then it vanished and he spurt out a mouthful of blood. Eyes wide, he looked up at John. "W-What? How did you do such a-"
John smiled. And then he vanished.
Shin's eyes widened and he quickly spun around, raising his right arm up to block.
It cracked, colliding with John's leg.
He touched onto the ground and smiled. "You're learning. Good."
Shin stepped back, sweat pouring down his neck and a glimmer of fear in his eyes.
John's smile widened and he cracked his knuckles.
The main lobby of the Eternal Tower. Ground floor.
When Kai had arrived with John and the others, the area had been sparse and well maintained. But now it was covered in blood and groaning bodies.
Saji tossed a pair of men onto the ground and brushed off his hands. After that, the towering man looked at Kai and said, "Worried about something?"
Kai wiped off his knife and sheathed it at his side. After that, he stared at the elevator that John took and said, "He's been gone for a while now." He glanced at Saji and said, "You sure that your boss is fine facing that monster alone?"
Saji chuckled. "I haven't been with Boss for very long, but you don't have to worry. He's stronger than me, my bro, and Kiri combined."
Kai frowned. "Even so... Didn't you guys lose against him? What if-"
Saji walked over and clapped a hand on Kai's shoulder. "Relax. After tonight, you can retire from this world and peacefully raise your daughter. Boss has everything in place already to ensure that."
"...I hope you're right."
A pair of footsteps echoed from the stairs.
Maji walked down, spinning his knife around in his right hand. Seeing the bodies on the ground, he cackled. "No wonder we couldn't find anybody upstairs. Looks like the worms all went underground."
Minato adjusted his fedora while walking beside Maji and said, "That's because you skinned a person alive in front of them and ran around covered in blood."
"Tch." Maji glanced at Minato and said, "You telling me you wouldn't do the same, Old Man?"
"Of course I would. But you should have at least fed him his own flesh instead of just letting him die like that for what he was doing."
Maji blinked and then he laughed, slapping Minato on the back. "I knew you weren't half bad." He paused. "...Still don't like you though."
Minato adjusted his hat and said, "Don't blame you. This old man's made plenty of unforgiveable mistakes."
Maji's eyes flashed with an unreadable emotion, but he shrugged and then walked out onto the lobby, purposefully stepping across a few bodies as he did.
Ignoring the groans, Maji looked at Kai and said, "Boss not back yet?"
Kai shook his head. "No. But since you are... I guess those bastards are taken care of?"
Maji laughed, but his eyes were cold. "Oh are they *ever*. It's a good thing Boss is distracted, otherwise that righteous guy would have blown up the whole building with his godly wrath."
Kai blinked. "What?"
And then a chime echoed as the elevator returned to the main lobby.
Kai froze and then he turned to face it, waiting in anticipation.
John... should be fine. Right? He wouldn't have gone through all of this only to fail at the end.
But... Just in case...
Kai lowered his hand back to his knife, tensing to spring forward at a moment's notice.
Off to the side, Minato did the same.
And then the doors slid open and John walked out with a bright smile on his face, like a kid just getting back from an amusement park.
But that wasn't all.
As John walked into the lobby, something slid on the ground behind him.
At first, Kai was confused on what he was seeing.
After all, it didn't make sense.
And then he realized what it was... Or rather, *who* it was.
John was pulling Shin along the ground like a bag of trash by the leg. And the Seiryuu Patriarch himself was beaten black and blue, barely recognizable.
Kai blinked and looked at John. "Er... Friend? Is that...?"
"Hm? Oh, hey Kai." He waved with his left hand, his right preoccupied with dragging Shin, and said, "Don't worry." He tugged Shin a bit, causing the man to groan, and said, "This guy's not dead. I just taught him a lesson about proper dignity and morals. Isn't that right, Little Dragon."
John grinned and said, "See?"
Kai blinked again, slowly nodding. "I... can see that."
And he could also see how it happened.
Unlike when John left, he had returned with a bare torso. And from that, Kai could see John's trained body.
He wasn't overtly muscular like Saji or the bastard lying on the ground, but John's body was trained to an incredible degree, with defined muscles devoid of a single shred of fat.
And from how he dragged Shin around with ease, they weren't just for show.
John dropped Shin's leg and then walked over to a Seiryuu member lying on the ground.
Kai blinked. "Er... What are you doing, John?"
John knelt down and then stripped the man of his shirt with practiced ease. "Looting the goods and getting new equipment- Ah. I mean getting a shirt." He stood up, throwing on a pilfered suit, and then turned back to Kai. "Can't head home without a shirt in this weather, can I?"
"Anyway." John glanced at Maji and Saji and said, "You guys gathered up all the snakes?"
"Yep!" Maji smirked and said, "A few worms tried to run away, but we caught them."
Saji nodded and said, "We got all of the Seiryuu like you said, Boss."
"Good." John nodded and said, "Then..."
Sirens started to echo in the distance.
Kai's eyes widened and he spun back. "Police? But-"
"Time to Goho-M!" John threw something onto the ground.
Kai glanced at him and said, "Wait, John-!"
Smoke erupted, filling the area.
"What in the world- Let go of me!" Minato's voice.
"Shut it, Old Man! You're the only one that girl's got left, so you can't be arrested here!" Maji's voice.
Kai coughed, trying to see through the smoke to figure out what was happening. But before he could, he felt himself getting pulled into the air and slung over someone's shoulder.
A blur of events and the cold wind. And then the next thing Kai knew, he was sitting in the passenger seat of a black BMW and John was driving off into the night.
Kai blinked. "...What just happened?"
"Don't worry about it. Now, I'm crashing at your place tonight. You don't mind, right?"
Kai pinched the bridge of his nose. "No, but- Hold on. Let me-"
"Great! Now, buckle up." John tapped his stereo, playing a song.
John leaned back and put his hand on the emergency brake, smiling. "We need to floor it if we don't want to be on TV tomorrow."
Kai froze, realization settling in. And then he quickly pulled on his seatbelt. The moment he did-