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[Fiction] The time has Come


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---Thanks to Carver for her help in rewriting this and Timeslip for proofreading it----

Long had agreed to the interview with Todd Morgain as a favor to an old friend. Had he known how it would go he’d have ripped his “comrade” apart then and there.

They sat there on the set of Todd’s late night show “Late-Night with Todd Morgain” and Todd began the interview. Thankfully there was no live audience it was merely generated by sound effects. “So the first question is, “How does a Japanese-born nova and defender get a Chinese name?”

Long sits and thinks, knowing it’s meant to rouse him. “I was taken in and trained by a Chinese nova. After seeing me in battle, he said hat despite my appearance I fought like a Dragon, so that is what I would be called.”

“Yeah, but wouldn’t choosing a Japanese name be more appropriate? I’m an American, so I don’t get some of your cultural stances, but I didn’t think that your people approved of the Chinese all that much.”

“I got used to the name, it isn’t such a big deal with me. A name is something others give you, I don’t see a lot of reason in fighting over it. As for the Chinese people, they have done me no lasting harm, I have no quarrel with them.”

“Yes, I see... the Chinese nova was Shen-Kahn, who went missing after beating you up and leaving you for dead. That is no harm?”

“Those were the deeds of a single man, not a nation.” Long’s takes on a slight edge when his former master is mentioned. The memories of what he did would always be burned in his mind.

“Very magnamimous of you. How was your relationship with Shen Kahn then? Were you betrayed when he turned against you, or were you ready for it?”

“He and I had a falling out. Words and then blows were exchanged. The issue has been resolved.”

“Resolved very neatly, with his disappearance. No one can find him. Do you have an official statement on that?”

“Shen-Khan is still around. As to his exact location, I don’t know. He and I haven’t spoken in over a year.” He wasn’t comfortable with the subject, and he could feel his rage rising, but he pushed it back down. It would do no good to eviscerate this baseline in front of the cameras for asking about things that weren’t his concern.

“Apparently, you can’t find him either. Fair enough, as no one can find your wife either. Marriage to a woman wanted for murder and on the run Utopia must be difficult. How are you, Ryu the man, coping with this?”

“I do the best I can. It’s a major blow to my family, but we will endure. Having seen the video of what happened before it was edited, I think my wife was simply defending herself. The loss of Excavator’s life is something I mourn, if only because it means there’s one less nova in the world. I wish It had not happened but I cannot change the past.” Being needled for his wife’s crimes riled him, but again he managed to keep himself under control.

“How is the rest of the family doing? Do your niece and nephew know that is going on?”

“Yes they do. They miss her a lot, as do I.”

“Wow... that must be really tough. Are your associates in the Teragan more sympathetic to the murder of a Utopian?”

“Those I have spoken with agree she had the right to defend herself, anyone does. It isn’t murder, she was being attacked and she defended herself.” His voice grew gruffer as his rage boiled up and simmered. His tone suggested another topic was in order.

“Actually, the official charge from Utopia is murder. No other official body has contested this, especially in light that Excavator was well known for her ‘Rock Tunnel’ immobilizing attack. So murder is the correct charge here. Is the Teragen sympathetic to the murder of a Utopian?

“Some might be. I haven’t spoken with everyone who claims to follow Teras. I therefore cannot speak for them. I speak only for myself. My wife defended herself, same as anyone else would have done.” Long’s rage bled even more into his voice, lowering it, and adding a more guttural tone to it.

“Of course, you love her, and so you’d want to defend her blindly. Understandable, if flawed. Or is it love? Not to offend, but you seem to have moved on pretty quickly.”

Long’s fur actually bristled at the implied insult. “Timeslip and I have a marriage that suits us both. I hide nothing from her. My relationship with Endeavor is nothing I am ashamed of.”

“How about your wife? Is she as happy with this arrangement as you? She’s on the lam, and you’ve got a mistress?”

“She is pleased that I have begun moving beyond my own baseline preconceptions about life and marriage. She’s pleased that I am being true to myself.”

“Interesting. So you consider yourself to be a polyamorist now?”

“I love my wife, and I love Endeavor. They both love me in return. I see no fault in that.” Again his anger builds and again he tamps it down, doing his best to keep from tearing the reporter limb from limb.

“What about the shame others see in that? Doesn’t that affect you and your family?”

“Others will view it as they choose to. I know what my heart tells me, and that’s what i choose to go by. As for my brother and the children, they like having Endeavor around.”

“What about your half-sister? How does she feel about having Endeavor around?”

“She is not happy with it, but as I said that is simply how she chooses to view it.” The interviewer was starting to get more pointed in his questions and Long didn’t like it.

“Not happy? Is that why she was seen moving into the Knight’s Tower in Chicago?”

“I would assume it has something to do with her seeing the young Knight she’s been seeing for some time, Amped.”

Yes, but sources indicate that she left Japan in a hurry.”

“Perhaps she was anxious to see him again. Who can say?” Long backs down his rage, but it’s getting progressively harder to do as the interview drags on.

“You can say.”

“I’m not telepathic, I do not know her thoughts. She left with all her belongings I can only assume it was to be closer to the young man in Chicago.”

“She didn’t speak to you on why she was leaving? And the timing is suspicious to the outside world; it looks very much like a disagreement has split the Hideyoshi household.”

“The discussions my sister and I have had are frankly not of public concern. I still think of her as my little sister, this was her choice. That should be enough.” Long’s wrath is beginning to rise and he can feel his claws start to slowly slide from their sheaths at his fingertips.

“Just curious about the great Hideyoshi family, is all. And Ms. Gu’s departure seemed hasty. Did you fight about Endeavor?”

“She and I have differing opinions on the subject. Let’s leave it at that.”

“So she doesn’t approve of your relationship? Does she not like Ms. Hino?”

“That will be all on the subject.”

“So she doesn’t like her?”

Long’s eyes shift as his claws extend on his right hand and he spears the reporter with his gaze. “Choose another subject.”

“Why? Afraid to show the world that the Hideyoshis aren’t perfect and perfectly happy?”

“Because I will not presume to tell you my sister’s beliefs. There are few families I’d call perfectly happy. My family does the best that it can.”

“As do all families. It’s just that yours is a huge part of Japan, and therefore has a great impact on the country. Don’t they have a right to know about the family with so much power?”

“I wouldn’t say we wield real power in Japan. My primary concern has been living in the nation that has always been my home. I have risen on occasion to help defend her from threats, like any citizen would do.”

“Oh, come on. You’re one of the most powerful elites in the world - you can’t say that you have no influence. There are people in this country worshipping you - most would say that gives you a great deal of influence.”

“Power comes with the responsibility to use it wisely. I like to think I do so. As for those citizens who seek to emulate me, that is their choice. I have power, and I balance it with responsibility. They flatter me with the way they emulate that aspect of myself.”

“And in that way, you influence them.”

“I do not tell them what to do, I simply live my life. The do the same.”

“But your very presence alters them, influences them. Do you think that it is otherwise?”

Long’s tail lashes about beside the chair, showing his irritation to those who know what to look for. “I think that the existence of everything is connected. We all influence each other, be it willingly or without knowing it. That is simply how things go.”

“So you admit that you have influence over the people of Japan.”

“Every nova in Japan has some influence with the citizens of Japan. Do I actively cultivate this influence? No I do not, but nor do I hinder those who seek to emulate Japan’s many novas, myself included.”

“But the question is, do you admit that you have an influence over Japan?”

“Some people consider my way of living an example and emulate it. Call it what you will.”

“Why can’t you admit that you influence people? It’s not a bad thing, really.”

“My goal isn’t to influence others, it’s simply to live my life with my family.” Long’s foot claws have come unsheathed, black talons peeking out from the tips of his furred feet. He knows he’ll have to leave soon; he’s only just barely able to hang on and keep from tearing this nosey upstart apart.

“We aren’t talking about what you want to do, but what you do just by being here. What are you afraid of with this question?”

The accusation of him being afraid is too much. His fur bristles, and his ears flatten back against his head as his jaws open revealing large white fangs and sharp teeth. Something stirs to life within him as he’s at the point where he ceases to care about appearance. Just as he’s about to rise up and strike down the insolent American, thoughts of Endeavor and the children flash through his mind, and how him slaying this worthless baseline would cause them pain. With more control than he thought he could possibly have left he reigns himself in only just barely and nods to the reporter. “I fear nothing. Now if you will excuse me I need to be going. I have other obligations.” With that Long vanishes in a flash of Blue light, leaving the reporter ignorant of how close to death he had come. He desperately wanted nothing more than to sleep, but there was still much he had to do.

He returned home feeling immensely tired and drained from his ordeal. He remembered what he’d been taught and realized he’d finally come to the point it was time to truly utilize the teaching of Teras. He placed phone calls to Cade and to DeVries. The first arranged for Someone to look after Saori, and to arrange someone for Timeslip to contact should she have any needs she couldn’t meet herself. The second call hired an old friend to look after his home and family in Japan. Shadowstalker was known for his discretion and his ability to go completely unnoticed. He was ferociously efficient in combat, and he was totally loyal to his contract. It was for that reason that he had selected him. Nominally, Long knew he was an assassin, but He would serve well as a ‘bodyguard’ for Endeavor and the children. With her technology she might notice him, but he had given him ways to prove his intentions. He also made a brief call to Jager, saying only, “Watch after them for me, my friend, My time of transformation has come.”

He sat back in his chair, dreading this last phone call. Some time ago he’d arranged with Iron Rose for a place to remain should he ever go into Chrysalis. It seemed it was now time for it to be utilized. He made the call and she said she’d meet him there and make sure the fields were tuned off. It was a risk, staying in this world, but he had to. This world was home, and he would endure the trial here.

He actually dormed down to Hug Saito, which surprised him to no end. “Brother, I cannot put this off any Longer. I will be gone for some time, I am trusting in you to keep the family stable while I am gone. Should you ever need help, there is a list of novas you can call upon, and I have not left you without strong defense.” Saito nodded and bowed his head. “I will not fail you, brother. The children will remain unharmed when you return, on my life.”

Long bowed, even as he reassumed his full Tiger form, a wave of exhaustion rolling over him. he didn’t have much time left. He smiled to each of the children. “You will listen to Saito and Sakurako while I’m gone. They are going to look after you both. I will return to you both and we’ll go camping again, I promise.” His words did little to comfort them or stop their tears, but he sensed each of them understood as they hugged him goodbye and nodded that they would obey.

Long reached out across the world to Timeslip, wanting to let her in on this, as she had been the main motivation behind it after all. Timeslip, I do not have much time left, before I myself enter into Chrysalis. I would like to see you one last time before that happens. I’ll be there within ten minutes, I’m not sure I can remain conscious much longer. He shows her the spatial coordinates on the map, and then a picture of the actual room itself. I will remain here on this world, that way the children can still see me if they wish to, the same for you my beloved wife.

The message sent, he found Sakurako in her office at her computer terminal. “Sakurako, I am leaving for a while. I do not know if you are familiar with Chrysalis, but it is time for mine. I want you to know that I will love you still when i return from it, and am asking something selfish of you. Wait for me. Help my brother with the children as best you can. They are the future, vessels ready to be filled with knowledge. Can you do that for me?” His hands lay on her shoulders gently, his head above them next to hers even as his tail wrapped around her waist.

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"Long... I knew a change was coming for you. I sensed it in a way. How your energies have been suddenly fluctuating."

She strokes his hand. "I am somewhat aware of this phenomenon. I know it will be a while." She leans her head over to one of his hands, and he can feel a tear come from her eyes, fall on to his hand. "I wish you well, but I will miss you. I'm sure though your return will be swift. Will it?"

She grasps on to his hand tightly. "I'll watch the children. You trust me enough with that."

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"I don't know how long I'll be, but I will be somewhere that you can visit. Beneath Connely Securities Headquarters Iron Rose has helped contstruct a secure location for this, one that I'm not sure even I could break into if I wanted to. Indeed I'm sure the children will want to visit at least once while I endure this. I will miss you to Sakura-chan. Iron Rose and I discussed this some time ago and a vault was constructed for this purpose, I'm about to go there now. Just know that i love you, and I will come back to you." He kisses her softly, even as his tail unfurls from her waist and he draws himself up to his full height.

"Stay here with the rest of our family, they will need your strength in the coming time. I have faith in you."

With that he smiled and vanished in a flash of blue light, leaving Sakurako with his choice of words. "Our family."

He appeared in the vault that had been built for this and fell to his knees. Any use of his power seemed to drain him horribly. Iron Rose was there, looking at him in awe. "Thank you for this Rianna, I will repay you and Elizabeth for all your kindness."

Rianna nodded, knowing long was a man of his word. "You're a good friend Ryu, and Friends help each other. You helped remind me of that."

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Space and time twisted in a swirling cosmic votex, and formed a figure of stars and night in the midst of the vault. Stepping forward, Timeslip embraced her kneeling husband, and whispered to him.

"Remember, my love: focus is the key. Decide how you will better yourself, and make it so, but do not lose that focus. I will see you on the other side."

She gave Long a kiss that might have lasted an eternity, then stepped back and watched as the transformation started.

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He nodded as arms formed two great pillars before him, his tail curling around him and then something truly amazing happened. Fur and Flesh became stone, all the color of his body drained away, leaving only grey stone and glowing blue eyes. Finally The eyes began to fade and then they too were drained of color and became grey and stone.

In the back of her mind Timeslip felt a sense of familiarity with this scenario. Then it hit her, She'd seen the exact same transformation before, when Long had shown her Shen-Khan's entry into Chrysalis.

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The image of her husband taking the same form in Chrysalis as had his hated ex-mentor sent shivers throughout Timeslip's body, and a wave of nausea rolled over her that had nothing to do with the small life growing within her.

Still, there was nothing to be done for it now. Gingerly, she laid a hand on the stone tiger-man before her. "Sleep well, my love," she said... and then left the vault as quickly as she had arrived, the stars swirling in inky blackness in her place until there was nothing at all.

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