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  1. #4921
    Lin Kuei Grandmaster Sub-Zero MKA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cleric of Hell’s Brigade View Post
    As she does this, clasping the card deck in her tail, she watches as Caliban mumbles a spell and shakes his (which are hers) hands like they were covered in water.

    Which causes them to fall off. Startlingly, new goblin hands grow back and Caliban moves them around, testing them.

    “Better.”
    Victory had been claimed by Parsley! And all it took was losing her hands. That was a small price to pay, because it seemed she could just regrow them with the spell Caliban just used.

    "Looks like we won," she declared as she descended to where he was. "I took the cards from you. Now what?"

    After a moment passed, she added, "How do I regrow my hands?"

  2. #4922

    Default Survival of the Fittest (Month 1)

    Quote Originally Posted by grampagen View Post
    The day Grinthorn disappeared, the balance crafted upon the Earth had been upended. He who had stood upon the apex and held the planet in his hand had suddenly loosed his grip, and those who would not dare challenge the creature masquerading as the President of the World so long as he held his seat slowly became aware that they were no longer held in check. Like waking from the slumber of hibernation under the change of the seasons, so too had there been a reckoning. Those who feared to step inside his all-seeing gaze knew that they had at last escaped the Shadow of the Dragon and found themselves ready to prey upon the tender world he had cultivated in his peace.

    Even for the Eternal Ones, the desire to live is paramount, even if he is lord of a kingdom of delusions and madness. Yet those mythic beasts of the bygone age who sought to resume their reign may have their hopes misplaced, for the story of Humanity is one that is written from strife.
    Month 1

    Across the strait of East Continent past the mainland, situated in the endless blue a chain of islands protruding from the salt and sea. Amid the lush green there stood the remnants of aged industries, the roads from which now carries a way of life.

    Tanchozurujima, the Island of the Red Crowned Crane. An age ago, the old Senbei Kingdom had been situated there between continental kingdoms and had been emissaries of ideas and trade. The Crane School had come here to protect them long ago when the First Master, Nomi, brought her thirteen disciples to fight off invaders. The first time was to arm the local population against the warrior-monks of Wakou who'd sought to strip them of their independence. Back when commerce was carried upon the waves, they who controlled the ships contolled the world. Farmers stripped of arms, she had equipped with weapons that could not be removed.

    The second invasion happened when men had purported they had the might to control the sea itself. Few relics remains of this time, but the Master's likeness had been immortalized as the Mizugami, the goddess of the sea. What they now called the Dodonpa was called his because it fell like thunder, like lightning from God.

    Two thousand years had passed since then, but the fundamental truth of this world remained. Earth, the body, water, the blood. In centuries past it had been the centre for the oceanic laneways, the vessels historically had been the vital arteries of the world's maritime trade. Yet time waits for nobody, for sooner or later, it slips from even the most practiced hand. In this age the crown of a shipping empire had lost some of its gleam. New kingdoms had solidified as time marched on. With people spread far and wide, with each new discovery, so did the world become smaller. No longer was there the sense of wonder, for the frontier had long been conquered. Even before the President had finally erased every border and subsumed every nation under his hegemony, Jinzi Pantaloon's innovations had in many ways made the world even smaller. The world no longer came to you, in this new age, everybody held a parcel of it in their hands.

    Still, if you couldn't afford a capsule, cent for cent, shipping was still the cheaper option and anything nonstandard went through the waterways. Past the sliding doors, the folding-screen murals of battles past, a long legacy fell now in thoughts carried upon aged shoulders, crooked forward with narrow, ancient eyes that peered towards a machine-light in the cloistered darkness. The old man once had been able to travel the world, now he chose to bring the world to himself. It had not been so much easier in those old days gone by, but it had been simpler. It was illustrated on the tapestries surrounding him. Nowadays, to feel the pulse of the planet, to see it through the eyes of the people, with his limited time, the old man would not expend the effort unless it was necessary, for it was all on TV, and with it a snapshot of the world as it now turned.


    "-Provitamin B6 and lanolin because you're worth the Mane Course-"
    "...lettuce, tomato, and special sauce, served with fries and a cold drink-"
    "The beast known only as Kaiju 01 was brought down over the coast of Papaya Island. After scrambling in pursuit for three days, WG Forces had managed to repel it from urban centres upon the coastline before finally taking it down-"
    "-seeking asylum in droves after reporting the disappeance of family members living near the forest. Locals have reported it was a tengu, a sort of youkai, or local cryptid that lived in the trees-"
    "The President disappears, and all of a sudden a red star is falling our way? Do you think this is a coincidence?! Wake up, people! These are the end times-!"
    "-the completion of the dam, they'll be rerouting the water through to create a reservoir for the desert tow-"
    "-the metropolis has been experiencing rapid growth. With brand new infrastructure providing brand new opportunities, New Anvil City has become fastest growing city since the Capital City boom-"
    The old man set his walking stick down with a thump, and the china cup to the side of his chair clinked, perfuming the air with the earthy scent of oxidized tea. Macerated from the withers came the faint smell of a long-ago spring that yet persevered. It was a quality inseparable from the very nature of the thing itself.

    The Pearl of the Desert, New Anvil City

    The billow of sand carried the heat in waves, and the air was filled by the sound of trucks rolling in segmented routes. It was stale and dry, the only fluid seeming to be carried within the medium of the concrete carried to shape foundations that filled where the jackhammers cut through what had been set there before. In memory of the city which one stood here five years ago, many had taken it as a sign of ill-omen that such a harrowing natural disaster had emerged mere days before the World Tournament. But after the Capital City attack, thousands needed a new place to call home.

    In the desert, the only Cranes that stood there were made of steel, rising tall and building a new foundation where there was none before.

    The devastation wiped Anvil City off the map. Whatever figments existed in an archive. Gone, without any physical trace, a veritable act of God. What a horrid thing to even consider that such an injustice had been ordained from on high. It made a person feel very small to consider something like that could come from on high without any rhyme or reason. Even the land itself in the intervening years written off by the World Government as effectively useless, for there was nothing but shattered earth and dust where it once stood.

    The last piece that remained was the foundation of the old arena. They built around it so they'd never forget who they'd lost.
    _____

    The old man sipped the tea. Even in this tropical air, it felt too damn cold. He never taught Aiko that. Perhaps it was something in their blood. Turning the considerable resources of the Thousand Wings foundation, she'd launched an independent study. Always the land. Always the dollars. In the face of crisis, she found an opportunity to rebuild.

    It was just like President Grinthorn to lay low. Feed them a story and soon they'd forget. That day, he only seemed to want to look at the bodies of the aliens who descended on the Capital. It had been the curse of the old man's skill that he would always remember. Part of the deal he'd made as head of the Crane School that he would never forget.

    Yet strangely, in Grinthorn's absence, the dessicate wounds carved into the land had began to heal at an astonishing rate. Was it something in the energy? An adept could only find so much, but by its residual, Aiko had found that this was certainly no random act. Residual ki signatures, sculpted in a manner decidedly more familiar than it ought to have been.

  3. #4923
    Lin Kuei Grandmaster Sub-Zero MKA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by grampagen View Post
    Sarada sighed and Zaofan pursed his lips before setting to his next task.

    "Just a suggestion, really," he said. "But, I understand."

    "It seems everyone's so busy these days, stuck in their own head, that we all forget to come up for air once in a while. Sometimes, I feel like we've been gone fighting for so long, it feels like we're starting to forget what we're fighting for."

    Certainly they'd all become stronger, and by happenstance or sheer dedication, their journey seemed to bring them closer to the primordial mysteries of not just this Universe, but all of Creation itself stretching back to a time immemorial.

    "After all, why else are we training? Can't help but feel small compared to all of this kerfuffle, but it's equally important not to lose perspective."

    When the conversation turned to Asha'rah, he thought it over before answering.

    "I never quite understood it all myself, and really, perhaps it's a deeper mystery than really needs to be uncovered," Zaofan replied. Knife in hand, he'd been peeling a zucchini into a single, lengthily organic ribbon. "Like, sure, there's a way to make something taste good, and generations of cooks, connoisseurs, critical snobs, gastronomes, and of course, mothers, made sure to document the process."

    It fell like a pale, green noodle. Without pause he began to julienne a carrot as he spoke.

    "But that's the 'how', and not the 'why.' Breaking things down, building them back up, that happens in little ways all the time. Boil a potato, it'll become paste, but freeze, batter, and fry the spud in oil, on the surface it becomes something new."

    Carrot cut to shreds, he turned around and pulled out a tray of scalloped potatoes before returning to his prep. Browned chives and bits of broken bacon skipped in a crust of molten cheese as he lay it to rest on the counter.

    "Oddly enough, if you analyze it under the finest microscope, most of the stuff is the same. Hydrogen, carbon, oxygen and nitrogen squished and strained into molecule chains, makes sense that we'd want more. If we're think of life itself as simply...elemental, a formula of fixed portions, well, we're nothing more than changing chemicals, aren't we? There's really be no point to all of this, just another state change."

    Setting down a tray, he began mixing some sweet, earthy sauce together when his presence of mind caught up with his rambling. He picked up the pepper mill and began twisting.

    "...'scuse me. I'd realized my whole life I'd been a Chemist without a...blemish. It's a bit of a frightening prospect that something like Auroc or Sakin would just see everything as nothing more than...this."
    The science shit was completely lost on her. That wasn't what had her thinking, though.

    What were they fighting for?

    To protects those that either couldn't protect themselves at all or could fight off stronger enemies. To restore their universe and the other sealed universes back into the multiverse proper. Even with all the enemies they had amassed in the last several years, every one of them fell into either of those categories. In order to do what they had to do, they needed to get stronger. People like Genesis, Sakin, and Eldfen - he was still alive, she just knew it - weren't going to fold to simple Super Saiyan. She and Parsley needed to achieve the god ritual to acquire the strength they needed. After that, after all was said and done, she supposed that would have been that for serious training.

    There would be no more need to acquire vast amounts of power. While the universe would never be completely at peace, the strength she would have had after they defeated a literal Angel should have been enough to defeat anyone.

    The big picture was the safety of the entire universe. Sakin, Genesis, and Eldfen were a threat that needed to be dealt with. With them still on the loose, no one planet was safe. On the other had, paying attention to the big picture didn't mean that the smaller details that composed that picture weren't relevant or could be set aside. In a tale of rogue GoDs, Angels, and Creators, the smaller people couldn't be ignored. After all, what was the point of fighting if she didn't have anyone to protect?

    "Yet through all of that, you did take the time to learn what she liked," he smiled. "It's not easy having a few billion bosses to answer to. So many orders pile up and the requests get crazy and specific, and yet...here we are. Who else is going to listen to them and hear them out, am I right?"

    Once the sauce was mixed, Zaofan pulled a ball of white dough out of the fridge. Dusting the counter with flour, he laid it down neatly and rubbed his hands together.

    "Which is why I think you're exactly where you need to be today. There are a lot of things you can just power through, and that'd just be a matter of force, pressure and time. That's all well and good if you want to get stronger, no doubt. But like cooking, for fighting that's only one part of the process."

    He began to knead the dough into the counter.

    "Let me pick your brain, Sarada. When you get into your zone, how did you know you needed to adapt?"
    "No one," she responded. "Most of them were born into slavery. All they know is forced labor and having their pleas go unanswered. This is the first time someone with any kind of power has taken the time to actually talk to them." And she had been spending a lot of time talking and listening to these people. After Tundra let them go their entire lives with only horrifying stories of his cruelty and sadism being their own hint of the kind of person he was, she felt it was important for them to see her face to face and tell her their wants personally. It was the least she could do for the Saiyans' role in their predicament.

    "I adapt when nothing else works," she responded. "Going back to Tundra, the only time she adapted to another means of offense was when brute force didn't work because he was so much stronger than her.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sub-Zero MKA View Post
    “Shit,” she muttered when she realized what she had done. She had no idea if those forests contained anything sacred to the native Saiyans, and Saiyans in general. If there was, it was all gone. No real big deal; once a set of dragonballs had been created, or recreated, she planned on using them to restore the planet from any damage done by the battle. It was the least she could do. I need to keep calm, she realized. Getting pissed off and making stupid mistakes wasn’t going to win her the fight. It was only going to get her killed. I need to fight smarter. Take advantage of his disadvantages.

    The moment she came to that realization, what she feared to be the case was proven to be the reality. Tundra had indeed gotten swept up in the blast, but he was absolutely unscathed.

    “No way,” she mumbled.

    “I so hope that wasn’t the best the ‘mighty’ Saiyan Queen has to offer,” he said. Then, he vanished.

    SHIT! She had no idea where he went, but she didn’t want to be out in the open. She did the only thing she could think of, and quickly flew into the forest. He couldn’t sense energy, so hiding in the dense forests was the best way to go. It also reminded her of something she did during the very last part of her training with the Archons on Tatenen II. It was during her trial with the Wood Archon, Adhmad. She had to find it in the dense forest, where it could blend in with the environment. Surviving meant having to trust her primary senses, namely her hearing. Succeeding also meant having to come up with a new application for an old tech on the fly. One she resolved to save again for just this occasion.

    She dissipated her aura and flitted deep into the forest. Every so often, she left globule of energy hidden on the forest floor to be used very soon. She also let loose smaller orbs of ki that floated in the air like bits of iridescent pollen. Everything was working out thus far.

    She could feel Tundra closing in on the forest and smirked to herself. Perfect.

    Those globules of ki she left behind? The first one was fired like a torpedo from an underwater submarine. It cut through the forest and hurtled toward Tundra to make it seem like she was in that area; in reality, she was nowhere close.
    That didn't even work because the gap between them was too great, so she couldn't continuously press her advantage. "Last time, even that didn't work for very long and I was almost killed." If Corra and Sellerie had obeyed her order to leave with the Sadalans, she would be in Otherworld right then and Sadala would have been space dust. Gone, and their race's history gone with it. "I only alter my approach enough to find a new avenue to attack. I don't have a lot of variation in my offense like you guys do, because I go with what I know works." She shrugged.

  4. #4924
    Voice of the Authorities Cleric of Hell’s Brigade's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sub-Zero MKA View Post
    Victory had been claimed by Parsley! And all it took was losing her hands. That was a small price to pay, because it seemed she could just regrow them with the spell Caliban just used.

    "Looks like we won," she declared as she descended to where he was. "I took the cards from you. Now what?"

    After a moment passed, she added, "How do I regrow my hands?"
    Caliban claps.

    “Yes yes, you won. Though....that talent to copy things is something you need to be careful with. Spells are not Ki blasts, spells are unique complex. Any fool can mimic pointing a hand and shooting a Ki blast, but magic is layered and doing it wrong can have.....unintended consequences.”

    He gestures to her hands.

    “I’ll fix them later. For now think of them as a good lesson on the dangers of spell craft.”
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  5. #4925
    Lin Kuei Grandmaster Sub-Zero MKA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cleric of Hell’s Brigade View Post
    Caliban claps.

    “Yes yes, you won. Though....that talent to copy things is something you need to be careful with. Spells are not Ki blasts, spells are unique complex. Any fool can mimic pointing a hand and shooting a Ki blast, but magic is layered and doing it wrong can have.....unintended consequences.”

    He gestures to her hands.

    “I’ll fix them later. For now think of them as a good lesson on the dangers of spell craft.”
    At the time when she developed the technique, Parsley didn't consider the complexity of each individual spell she intended on mimicking. Without that consideration, the consequences could have been... disastrous. The goblin hands on her wrists was as clear a testament as she could get.

    She sighed and started to descend. "I understand." It was arrogance on her part. It was only fortune that she realized that in a training lesson and not during an actual battle with actual stakes.

    It needed some work before she could even think of using it when the battles actually mattered.

    "What's next?" she asked as she touched down a short distance from him.

  6. #4926
    Lin Kuei Grandmaster Sub-Zero MKA's Avatar
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    Month 2

    Sarada was immensely busy with trying to find homes for everyone who was freed from Tundra’s clutches. She decided to take it on herself so the people could see beyond the shadow of a doubt that the woman in charge actually cared enough about them to speak with them personally. It went a long way toward getting them to trust her. It helped that Sarada had that earnest look about her, so people could tell she genuinely wanted to help them.

    Parsley was also busy. Partially with her own thing and mostly with the exploration project that Sarada wanted to have underway within the next two years. Figuring out the Saiyan history and learning more about the Sadalans was very important, so trusting one of the most focused people any of them knew was the right move. Although that meant that she would be gone for most of the time, meaning no time spent with Avoca outside of the days the three of them agreed to spend training.

    That, it turned out, was for the best, because Avoca had her own assignment. She was to oversee the construction of the new throneworld. That meant she would have to evaluate each planet that Sarada chose as candidates, and figure out all the other shit that went into building a planet. It was a lot more time-consuming than she originally thought it would have been when she first agreed to take on the assignment. Had she known what all was involved, she would have said no.

    Ah, hell. Who was she kidding? Of course she wouldn’t have. If Sarada needed her help, Avoca had always been there, even to her own detriment.

    “Alright. We have ten planets to check out, so get to it,” she said to the crew of one hundred people she had selected to help her out. “I want these reports to be as thorough as possible. Don’t leave anything out if you can help it. Pay special attention to the moon cycle, wildlife, and all that stuff.”

    “Yes ma’am!”

    She sighed and turned to take her leave from the ship docks as the ten crews of ten boarded their ships and prepared to take off. As she walked, she pulled up a call screen and dialed Sarada. “Hey. The crews are about to lift off.”

    “Great. Have you spoken to the builders yet?”

    “I did yesterday. They’ve already drawn up plans. I sent them to you yesterday.”

    “Sorry, been super busy. I look at them tonight. Thanks again, Avoca. I really appreciate you taking this on.”

    “You can thank me with a fat paycheck,” she said with a smirk.

    “As fat as your butt.”

    “Still won’t be big enough but it’s a start.” She smiled and ended the call. One thing down. A thousand more to go.

  7. #4927
    Voice of the Authorities Cleric of Hell’s Brigade's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sub-Zero MKA View Post
    At the time when she developed the technique, Parsley didn't consider the complexity of each individual spell she intended on mimicking. Without that consideration, the consequences could have been... disastrous. The goblin hands on her wrists was as clear a testament as she could get.

    She sighed and started to descend. "I understand." It was arrogance on her part. It was only fortune that she realized that in a training lesson and not during an actual battle with actual stakes.

    It needed some work before she could even think of using it when the battles actually mattered.

    "What's next?" she asked as she touched down a short distance from him.
    He jerks his thumb at Etrina and his clones.

    “She finishes up and we begin training proper, yeah?”
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  8. #4928

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sub-Zero MKA View Post
    The big picture was the safety of the entire universe. Sakin, Genesis, and Eldfen were a threat that needed to be dealt with. With them still on the loose, no one planet was safe. On the other had, paying attention to the big picture didn't mean that the smaller details that composed that picture weren't relevant or could be set aside. In a tale of rogue GoDs, Angels, and Creators, the smaller people couldn't be ignored. After all, what was the point of fighting if she didn't have anyone to protect?

    "No one," she responded. "Most of them were born into slavery. All they know is forced labor and having their pleas go unanswered. This is the first time someone with any kind of power has taken the time to actually talk to them." And she had been spending a lot of time talking and listening to these people. After Tundra let them go their entire lives with only horrifying stories of his cruelty and sadism being their own hint of the kind of person he was, she felt it was important for them to see her face to face and tell her their wants personally. It was the least she could do for the Saiyans' role in their
    predicament.
    "We're sort of in the same boat here on Earth. Only most of the people below didn't know they were involved in this complicated game of gods and whatever...thanks to a certain former President. Heck, we didn't know //we// were involved until we met Evangeline, and it keeps getting worse, right?"

    Without skipping a beat, Zaofan began rolling out the dough onto the floured counter. Pliable, yet springy, as he worked at it the dough eventually took shape. Flattened first, then stretched thinly in his long fingers.

    "The fact of the matter is, we'd been on this road for thousands of years. And by the time the Judge pulled the trigger and killed everybody on the Lookout, there wasn't a thing we could do to stop it."

    As if to punctuate the point, Zaofan stretched the dough before him, it seemed to near the breaking point, and then he slapped its middle down onto the table.

    "The Ulthan decided on a course, and that was that. If it was the Ulthan, it was some other visitor. One after another, on and on, nevermind fighting the battles against enemies you can't see, how can you change things if you don't even know there's another way? Do we even get a say before someone comes in and takes more from us?"

    The dough sprung back. Bringing the ends together in his hands, with a subtle motion they began to twist and braid together to create long strands. 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128...multiplied over and over again, noodles began to emerge.

    "Thinking the people of Earth are so weak and feeble that we can't stand on our own unless someone else ordains it by their good graces or allows our existence by omission...when did the right to live become decided by the ability to fight alone, eh?"

    For a moment, his eyes glassed over, unblinking as 256 perfect strands emerged, dusted finely in flour. He cut off the rough ends and set it aside.

    "If that's the way it's going to be, Ochazuke and I would do it. The pressure's been on, and we've had to sacrifice a lot to get to this point. True, there's a bit of pride involved...but this is the only home we've got, after all."

    "I adapt when nothing else works," she responded. "Going back to Tundra, the only time she adapted to another means of offense was when brute force didn't work because he was so much stronger than her.


    That didn't even work because the gap between them was too great, so she couldn't continuously press her advantage. "Last time, even that didn't work for very long and I was almost killed." If Corra and Sellerie had obeyed her order to leave with the Sadalans, she would be in Otherworld right then and Sadala would have been space dust. Gone, and their race's history gone with it. "I only alter my approach enough to find a new avenue to attack. I don't have a lot of variation in my offense like you guys do, because I go with what I know works." She shrugged.
    "Figuring out what works, that's the natural way of things. I'm glad you had your wits about you so you could come back to us and all, and Tundra sounds like he was no joke."

    There'd been few opponents to press Sarada this far...and have her admit it, after all.

    "Suppose that's another thing we have in common. The foudation of many of the martial arts on Earth, after all, were inspired by what humans saw around them in nature. Compared to a lot of the animal kingdom, we don't have fangs, claws, shells or wings. But we, just like Saiyans, have eyes, ears, sharp memories...and a certain wilful stubbornness. Our appendages aren't so specialized, but oh, are they ever so adaptable...in fact, you could say we had to adapt, because nothing was working, ha-ha!"

    Oh no...

    "...now then, I don't want you to waste time, yours or ours, so I'll be straight about it. You're probably wondering what any of this has to do with the Fusion Technique, aren't you?"

    "When I was learning it, it seemed just as simple as it soudned at first. Add two things of a fixed quantity together, that would make one, larger thing. Well it's a lot more complicated than that."

    One nest of noodles finished, Zaofan swiftly began to work on another, kneading and stretching a tacky mound into an elongated, uniform shape.

    "If, say, the individual parts were all we were to judge these noodles by, what I'm working with right now is just flour, water and salt. They'd be considered quite useless, wouldn't they? But the difference between flavourless sludge and something with bite and chew-"

    Knead. Roll. Stretch. Slapped onto the counter, the springiness held.

    "-method. Don't just consider the quantity of the ingredients, but their qualities. The ways they interact with each other provides the sensation of their potential."

    Dust and fluid could hardly be said to be entirely cohesive or tangible in this spry a manner, after all, but in his practiced chef's hands, he pressed just so that it was stretched taut yet never snapped.

    "There's a- a subtle conversation going on, so to speak, if you're able to hear it. Like, even as you put in the work to coax it out, you've got to be receptive to the feedback. It's not a matter of chasing after a fixed result, necessarily, but intuiting what will happen and facilitating that sort of dynamic change for what it is."

    Like that, multiplicity into another neat 256.

    "I wager you might understand it, this conversation, in a different manner. This also exists between fighter to fighter, whether the most gracious opponent to the most severe enemy."

  9. #4929
    This Isn't Home Yun Lao's Avatar
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    The death of the beast brought with it the death of the world.

    Thunderous groans echoed from deep beneath the lifeless soil, rattling bedrock and dirt with growing tremors and massive cracks split landmasses, revealing bottomless chasms below. Much like its tomb, the Phyrexinid crumbled into dust, leaving only its lavender lifeblood coating his arms as the only testament to its existence, although even now it was being washed away by scarlet hues. He had won, but the glory of victory was momentary, leaving nothing but the hollow realization of how little the difference was between the positions of victor and the conquered. This had been nothing more than the latest of pyrrhic outcomes and his tired mind struggled to think of the last time he had truly won anything.

    Something about a tournament, happiness tinged with disappointment...

    Falling to his knees, the dead dirt gave him little comfort and instead caved inward from his weight. For a moment he fancied the planet swallowing him in but knew he would get little satisfaction from such a fate.

    What lies beyond your fist?

    He couldn't remember who said that. Collectively, he had countless masters and in turn, he had been the master just as many times, but it had been a question haunting him for some length of time. Like clutching a dying ember, he had held onto it as his last vestige of humanity, even though he knew the inevitable was looming closer. The cycle of death and rebirth had been broken with its latest turn but with the breaking of the wheel, his freedom had come with the uncertainty of the unknown path. Earth and humanity: everything he had held dear as Charco was nothing more than a memory among many more lost to time. He could not play the role of a dead man, no matter how hard he tried.

    "Ah, there you are..."

    Descending into the hollow cavern that had become the phyrexinid's grave, the angel, his taskmaster, had found him. The planet shook, dust and rock raining down as the cavern nearly caved in atop them.

    "Looks like I underestimated the planet's stability," Islay said, summoning her staff out of the aether, "Let's find somewhere a bit less... apocalyptic..."

    Like that, the overwhelming feeling of disorientation and vertigo drowned him as he was flung across time and space. Reality churned all around him until everything snapped into place, giving him a sensorial whiplash. Lurching forward, his stomach sought to empty its contents out, but had none, leaving him dry heaving like some fur-clogged cat while his body acclimated itself to wherever this was. The first of his senses to return to normalcy was smell in which he drew in scents was surprised him for he recognized them. Taking in a deep breath, filled with the floral scents of life, he held it in his lungs for slowly exhaling.

    Could it be, after all this time? "E-earth? You brought me back?" He croaked. "You make it sound like I kidnapped you," The angel said with a slightly annoyed sigh, "So dramatic. It's only been a year or so."

    A year? That couldn't be right. It had felt like decades since she had abducted him from the Lookout, there was no way it had only been one year. Still, he had not to energy to dispute this, his emotional spectrum burnt out trying to muster as much reserve as he could against the beast earlier. All that mattered right now that was he was home. "What now?" He asked, uneasily rising to his feet. Although he didn't know why she had through him into one hellish training session after another, he got the feeling it was something of utmost importance, no doubt some grand scale plot he was completely unaware of.

    "Ooh! Starting to play nice now?"

    Again, he wanted to retort but didn't have to energy to tell her to go back to HFIL.

    "I'll take your exhausted silence as a "yes"," She began, golden eyes scanning the horizon, before turning back to him, "As much as you've been enjoying these workout routines, overdoing it is counterproductive to our needs. Get some rest for the time being and I'll come pick you up when you're ready for the next round."

    What?

    Did he hear her correctly?

    It seemed bizarre hearing such compassion from the angel and yet he couldn't help but press the issue with a single question, "What... what is all of this for?"

    Islay gave a small smile as her image began to dematerialize, "Nothing spectacular. Just killing an angel..." Vanishing into the ether, Charco could do nothing but lie back into the grass as he contemplates the weight of those words.

  10. #4930
    Lin Kuei Grandmaster Sub-Zero MKA's Avatar
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    Month Six

    The reports had been rolling in for the last few weeks. Avoca sent them to Sarada one by one as soon as she read over them. Rarely, if ever, did she get a reply in a timely manner. She really didn’t hope that Sarada wasn’t going to turn their government into a bureaucracy, where it took weeks or more to hear back about something, even if that something was direly important. They were Saiyans, not Nevadians. The moment she had to file one of those reports in triplicate, she was going to have a very long talk with her old friend.

    Eventually, three weeks after receiving the final report on the tenth planet, Sarada made her decision: a planet two star systems from Vocado. It mostly resembled it, which was great for people the displaced Vocadoans who wanted to have their own planet and not have to share one with people whose culture was drastically different from theirs.

    The air was breathable, there were thousands of fresh water lakes and rivers, and literally countless animals for them to eat. Most important, the moon would only be full for one week out of the year. She didn’t know how the science types figured that out, but they passed along a full page of equations and theory shit that she didn’t bother paying any attention to and just took their word for it.

    The moment she sent word to the construction crews, they got to work. Within two days, they had several on the planet, clearing out enough land for the cities. After that, they started laying pipe for the sewer and water system.

    It was about that time that Avoca’s phone started ringing nonstop. She failed to realize just how much when into building a city. People were calling to secure building permits and permission to have their whatever in the capital city, which was the first city being worked on. School administrators, businesses by the dozens, and housing managers, all trying to get prime real estate.

    It was a bigger headache than she thought possible.

    Things were easier when the Saiyans were in constant conflict. Conquests, wars, skirmishes, things that pertained to their general shared interests occupied their time. With all that done away with, a lot of them had to find new things to enjoy, herself included. Office work, constant phone calls, and staying up until the wee hours of the morning finalizing her work for the day and preparing for the next weren’t what Avoca considered thrilling pastimes. To make matters worse, she was starting to hit a groove, so even sucking wasn’t going to save her.

    Weeks of waiting for the water works to be completed allowed her time to meet with planners and engineers about the construction. Together, they mapped out how the capital was going to look. The majority of it was going to be suburban living areas. After speaking with different viceroys, who took a tally at Sarada’s request, she estimated that around fifteen million people were going to be living on the new throneworld. That meant five cities at five million each. Trying to map out who could live where was a fucking headache.

    She hissed and rubbed her forehead.

    “You’re doing great,” someone said from behind her. That, plus the encouraging pat on the shoulder did help somewhat. At least she wasn’t fucking things up.

    “Construction equipment is another two days out,” reported someone else. “Once it all gets there, they’ll be ready to begin construction within a week. Weather permitting, of course.”

    “Great. I’ll let Her Highness know. Once we finalize plans for the capital, I’ll send those to her for approval, then we can get the ball really rolling.” She decided to put on her good boots to kick Sarada’s ass into high gear to make sure she gave feedback in a timely manner.

    The next day, Avoca did exactly that; that being give Sarada the plans for approval. Mercifully, the Queen gave the okay right then and there, so Avoca let the construction crews know that they had the go ahead to start building as soon as possible.

    “Okay. Funds secured, plans finalized and approved, water works is done.” Avoca heaved out a hefty sigh as she looked at the four other stacks of papers, files, folders, permits, requests, and other bullshit for the other four cities she had to work on.

    Month 7

    The thing about Saiyan construction was that it had taken a quantum leap forward after the Turripians migrated to that elf world. Once they invented their own time dilation doohickey, they had all the time in the fucking universe to figure shit out and improve things that really weren’t broken. One of those was construction. They created machines that could lay down building materials - whether for roads, buildings, or whatever - five times faster than the average construction worker. Which was saying a lot, considering how fast those workers were.

    Roads, sidewalks, and buildings were sprouting up within only a few days. Having literally hundreds of machines do all the work made the work not only easier and faster, but also less stressful for Avoca. There was less of a chance of mistakes happening that would set them back days.

    The day after the Saiyan Day festival, she traveled to the build site to see in person how everything was going.

    “We'll be done probably by the end of the month,” the foreman told her.

    “Okay, that sounds good.” Assuming they could maintain the same rate for the others, that meant the throne world would be ready in about six months – there were other things Sarada wanted built besides the cities.

    She left him to his work and flew over the site to see how everything was going. Massive metal rings slowly ascended over the hollowed husks of soon-to-be skyscrapers. Smaller arms jutted out of the rings’ inner circle, placing and securing beams, bricks, and mortar as the rings gradually made their way up. Down below, several hovercrafts were laying down either asphalt for the paved roads or cement for the sidewalks, with precision only a highly-tuned machine could achieve.

    It was incredibly and unbelievable how quickly things were coming along. Before she knew it, they would be able to move to their new home and away from all those fucking history nerds on Langal. It was bad enough she was married to one; she was going to be damned if she spent another day surrounded by them.

    The capital city, dubbed by the Council as New Vocado City, looked to be in order, so she sped up and flew to one of the other sites. The names for those remained the same as they were on Vocado: Kakarot City, Ceripa Town, Broly City, and Nion.

    Not much going on, she thought as she arrived and surveyed Nion’s worksite. The same proved to be true at the Broly, Ceripa, and Kakarot sites. Pipes and foundations were being laid down at the Broly site, but that was about it. That was about to change very soon, so she wasn’t too worried about it.
    Last edited by Sub-Zero MKA; 05-07-2021 at 06:49 PM.

  11. #4931
    Lin Kuei Grandmaster Sub-Zero MKA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by grampagen View Post
    "We're sort of in the same boat here on Earth. Only most of the people below didn't know they were involved in this complicated game of gods and whatever...thanks to a certain former President. Heck, we didn't know //we// were involved until we met Evangeline, and it keeps getting worse, right?"

    Without skipping a beat, Zaofan began rolling out the dough onto the floured counter. Pliable, yet springy, as he worked at it the dough eventually took shape. Flattened first, then stretched thinly in his long fingers.

    "The fact of the matter is, we'd been on this road for thousands of years. And by the time the Judge pulled the trigger and killed everybody on the Lookout, there wasn't a thing we could do to stop it."

    As if to punctuate the point, Zaofan stretched the dough before him, it seemed to near the breaking point, and then he slapped its middle down onto the table.

    "The Ulthan decided on a course, and that was that. If it was the Ulthan, it was some other visitor. One after another, on and on, nevermind fighting the battles against enemies you can't see, how can you change things if you don't even know there's another way? Do we even get a say before someone comes in and takes more from us?"

    The dough sprung back. Bringing the ends together in his hands, with a subtle motion they began to twist and braid together to create long strands. 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128...multiplied over and over again, noodles began to emerge.

    "Thinking the people of Earth are so weak and feeble that we can't stand on our own unless someone else ordains it by their good graces or allows our existence by omission...when did the right to live become decided by the ability to fight alone, eh?"

    For a moment, his eyes glassed over, unblinking as 256 perfect strands emerged, dusted finely in flour. He cut off the rough ends and set it aside.

    "If that's the way it's going to be, Ochazuke and I would do it. The pressure's been on, and we've had to sacrifice a lot to get to this point. True, there's a bit of pride involved...but this is the only home we've got, after all."
    Sarada frowned thoughtfully. Gods and those high level cosmic beings thought they could do whatever they wanted with no consequences. People like Banespell and the Ulthan ran roughshod over innocent people like Jack and Elder Nail, all because he was acting for the "greater good". She wasn't sure if that old bastard felt any remorse for what he did. She doubted it. People like him thought they were right, even if every shred of evidence pointed to the contrary.

    "Sakin, Auroc, Eldfen, and Genesis. They do whatever they want because they know no one can stop them. Auroc was proven wrong and the other three will be, too." She clenched her fist and showed a small smile. "We got one. One day, we'll get the other three."

    A small part of her considered what to do about the rest. Thanks to Ochazuke making copies for everyone, she read Auroc's journal. She knew just how many gods and god-like beings there were out there in the universes. Just knowing that they were all ultra strong had her blood pumping! But, that excitement was tempered by the knowledge that only a few of them didn't mean any harm. The rest had some kind of ulterior motive; and that always meant that the little guys were going to suffer. They needed to be stopped.

    And Sarada knew how. To beat a god, she needed to become one herself. Only then could she achieve her goal of surpassing them. Those pricks thought they were all that because they could fling around Hakai and Creation and Ruination and all that shit. Just wait until they got a load of her. Then, they would know the fear and the anxiety that came from being completely helpless and unable to stop someone stronger than them from fucking with them.

    "And one day, we'll be able to wake up and not have to worry about armies from space falling from the sky seeking to upend our lives." She glanced at her sleeping daughter and remembered how Auroc invaded Vocado in an effort to take her and her then unborn child for his own purposes. He failed, but she still laid awake at night and wondered what could have happened if he had been just a little bit smarter. Kumara being as strong as she was even as a one year old made her realize that had he just left after capturing her, they would have been up a shit creek. No point in playing the what-if game. It didn't happen and I'm glad for that.

    Her eyes followed Zaofan as he twisted the stringing strand of dough over and over again. So many times he twisted them; gradually, what looked like noodles started to form. "It's been that way for eons," she answered. Fighting prowess had almost always been linked to the right to live freely. "Might Makes Right" wasn't just Otatop's justification for invading other words; it was a clarion call for every sort of overpowered bully to force their way into other people's lives and do what they wanted. "Asha'rah waged a war with Heaven because of it, remember? That was a hundred thousand years ago, and things have only gotten worse since." Killing Indar'en was single worse mistake Asha'rah had ever made outside of the decision that made her believe that action was necessary. Without some higher power to keep those assholes in check, said assholes decided that the universe was for the taking and everyone weaker than them was a stepping stone.

    It had happened to every race at some point. Zaofan was realizing that it was humanity's turn. "You don't have to do it alone, though. I won't be able to just drop everything and come help like I used to, but our people are still allies. If you ever need help, just say the word and we'll be here."

    "Figuring out what works, that's the natural way of things. I'm glad you had your wits about you so you could come back to us and all, and Tundra sounds like he was no joke."

    There'd been few opponents to press Sarada this far...and have her admit it, after all.

    "Suppose that's another thing we have in common. The foudation of many of the martial arts on Earth, after all, were inspired by what humans saw around them in nature. Compared to a lot of the animal kingdom, we don't have fangs, claws, shells or wings. But we, just like Saiyans, have eyes, ears, sharp memories...and a certain wilful stubbornness. Our appendages aren't so specialized, but oh, are they ever so adaptable...in fact, you could say we had to adapt, because nothing was working, ha-ha!"

    Oh no...

    "...now then, I don't want you to waste time, yours or ours, so I'll be straight about it. You're probably wondering what any of this has to do with the Fusion Technique, aren't you?"

    "When I was learning it, it seemed just as simple as it soudned at first. Add two things of a fixed quantity together, that would make one, larger thing. Well it's a lot more complicated than that."

    One nest of noodles finished, Zaofan swiftly began to work on another, kneading and stretching a tacky mound into an elongated, uniform shape.

    "If, say, the individual parts were all we were to judge these noodles by, what I'm working with right now is just flour, water and salt. They'd be considered quite useless, wouldn't they? But the difference between flavourless sludge and something with bite and chew-"

    Knead. Roll. Stretch. Slapped onto the counter, the springiness held.

    "-method. Don't just consider the quantity of the ingredients, but their qualities. The ways they interact with each other provides the sensation of their potential."

    Dust and fluid could hardly be said to be entirely cohesive or tangible in this spry a manner, after all, but in his practiced chef's hands, he pressed just so that it was stretched taut yet never snapped.

    "There's a- a subtle conversation going on, so to speak, if you're able to hear it. Like, even as you put in the work to coax it out, you've got to be receptive to the feedback. It's not a matter of chasing after a fixed result, necessarily, but intuiting what will happen and facilitating that sort of dynamic change for what it is."

    Like that, multiplicity into another neat 256.

    "I wager you might understand it, this conversation, in a different manner. This also exists between fighter to fighter, whether the most gracious opponent to the most severe enemy."
    In a way, Sarada supposed that Fusion technique was one of the ways humanity adapted to their relative weakness compared to other races. Individually, they were weak, but together they were stronger than even the straightforward sum of their parts.

    "So, instead of thinking about how powerful Parsley and me would be when fused, we should be thinking about how well we gel together?" She wasn't sure if that was he meant, but that sounded important. Personality wise, they couldn't have been more polar opposites. Parsley was reserved, analytical, more versatile, and slower to act without knowing the scope of the situation. Sarada was boisterous, instinctual, more straight-forward, and had to learn how to think before acting; that was still a work in progress. At first blush, anyone would have thought those two people wouldn't have gelled at all, but she and Parsley worked well together. They covered their weaknesses and complimented their strengths.

    As far as she knew, they would both give as much as they took from each other.

    A literal conversation as in order.

    "So, you and Ochazuke learned that you complimented each others intangibles?"

  12. #4932

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Sub-Zero MKA View Post
    Sarada frowned thoughtfully. Gods and those high level cosmic beings thought they could do whatever they wanted with no consequences. People like Banespell and the Ulthan ran roughshod over innocent people like Jack and Elder Nail, all because he was acting for the "greater good". She wasn't sure if that old bastard felt any remorse for what he did. She doubted it. People like him thought they were right, even if every shred of evidence pointed to the contrary.

    "Sakin, Auroc, Eldfen, and Genesis. They do whatever they want because they know no one can stop them. Auroc was proven wrong and the other three will be, too." She clenched her fist and showed a small smile. "We got one. One day, we'll get the other three."

    A small part of her considered what to do about the rest. Thanks to Ochazuke making copies for everyone, she read Auroc's journal. She knew just how many gods and god-like beings there were out there in the universes. Just knowing that they were all ultra strong had her blood pumping! But, that excitement was tempered by the knowledge that only a few of them didn't mean any harm. The rest had some kind of ulterior motive; and that always meant that the little guys were going to suffer. They needed to be stopped.

    And Sarada knew how. To beat a god, she needed to become one herself. Only then could she achieve her goal of surpassing them. Those pricks thought they were all that because they could fling around Hakai and Creation and Ruination and all that shit. Just wait until they got a load of her. Then, they would know the fear and the anxiety that came from being completely helpless and unable to stop someone stronger than them from fucking with them.

    "And one day, we'll be able to wake up and not have to worry about armies from space falling from the sky seeking to upend our lives." She glanced at her sleeping daughter and remembered how Auroc invaded Vocado in an effort to take her and her then unborn child for his own purposes. He failed, but she still laid awake at night and wondered what could have happened if he had been just a little bit smarter. Kumara being as strong as she was even as a one year old made her realize that had he just left after capturing her, they would have been up a shit creek. No point in playing the what-if game. It didn't happen and I'm glad for that.

    Her eyes followed Zaofan as he twisted the stringing strand of dough over and over again. So many times he twisted them; gradually, what looked like noodles started to form. "It's been that way for eons," she answered. Fighting prowess had almost always been linked to the right to live freely. "Might Makes Right" wasn't just Otatop's justification for invading other words; it was a clarion call for every sort of overpowered bully to force their way into other people's lives and do what they wanted. "Asha'rah waged a war with Heaven because of it, remember? That was a hundred thousand years ago, and things have only gotten worse since." Killing Indar'en was single worse mistake Asha'rah had ever made outside of the decision that made her believe that action was necessary. Without some higher power to keep those assholes in check, said assholes decided that the universe was for the taking and everyone weaker than them was a stepping stone.

    It had happened to every race at some point. Zaofan was realizing that it was humanity's turn. "You don't have to do it alone, though. I won't be able to just drop everything and come help like I used to, but our people are still allies. If you ever need help, just say the word and we'll be here."
    "Asha'rah waged her war, because she wanted to find another way," Zaofan replied, "But even with all the knowledge of everything starting from the beginning, she couldn't find a solution outside of this, hmm? And then she lost sight of what she was fighting for entirely."

    Setting aside the two nests of finely stretched noodles, Zaofan pulled his hands away from the counter. Even without a speck on them, he still turned to the sink and washed them quite clean.

    "With the Remnant of that time still lingering, what does that say about them? Last time I saw Asha'rah, she was still remembering things. Stuff about what she had already had done and come to terms with already. Not a single thing about what we could do."

    And not a single regret, either. If she had any, she certainly kept them close to the chest. It hadn't escaped Zaofan's attention that the exact same sort of thing that was driving everyone a little mad as of late. ...heck, what does that say about us?

    "If that's the way it's going to be though, I suppose whatever happens, happens," he said, and as he set his hands down on the sink, for a moment his shoulders sagged and his tone was bereft of his usual cheer, "But if anybody is going to think they can treat the lives of my friends as a joke...never again, I will not tolerate it."

    Sighing, he put himself back into his work, and pulled another half-dozen pies out of the oven.

    "Of course, like anyone, I can only meet them halfway. Sarada, I'm glad you're still willing to go the other half."

    In a way, Sarada supposed that Fusion technique was one of the ways humanity adapted to their relative weakness compared to other races. Individually, they were weak, but together they were stronger than even the straightforward sum of their parts.

    "So, instead of thinking about how powerful Parsley and me would be when fused, we should be thinking about how well we gel together?" She wasn't sure if that was he meant, but that sounded important. Personality wise, they couldn't have been more polar opposites. Parsley was reserved, analytical, more versatile, and slower to act without knowing the scope of the situation. Sarada was boisterous, instinctual, more straight-forward, and had to learn how to think before acting; that was still a work in progress. At first blush, anyone would have thought those two people wouldn't have gelled at all, but she and Parsley worked well together. They covered their weaknesses and complimented their strengths.

    As far as she knew, they would both give as much as they took from each other.

    A literal conversation as in order.

    "So, you and Ochazuke learned that you complimented each others intangibles?"
    Setting the pies to cool on the sill, Zaofan smiled quietly and nodded. "Now you're getting the picture."

    The clash of metal sounded out with the subdued sound of controlled breath, the sole indication for the ki signature had been suppressed. Out in the courtyard, Ochazuke had not been spending his time idly. Looped about each wrist were ten weighted rings, five on each arm, of a considerable weight carried upon the laboured steps of an ancestral fighting form.

    "I've trained directly with him for five years, and we've been slowly stitching a fighting style that's been lost for thousands of years together."

    When he expanded his motion and rotated to guard, they sprung back and rattled out to near the elbows. When he struck out, the force and the rings followed in a fluid motion, contracting and clashing at the point of impact with a steely clatter, a flow and crash that stopped just short of hitting his outstretched palm, instead springing up and hitting each other in a balanced impact before rattling about and sinking down again as he moved into the next step.

    "Let me tell you, he's a perfectionist. If he sees a flaw, he'll let you know, and this is a guy who can pick up on everything," he continued. As he watched, Zaofan rolled his wrist and reflexively mimicked the extension of the hand he saw outside.

    "But that's also how I know he has my back, because he never asked me to do something that he wouldn't do himself. It's a sort of mutual understanding we've reached. We press and support each other, since at this point, we're practically inside each other's heads."

  13. #4933

    Default Survival of the Fittest (Month 1)

    Quote Originally Posted by grampagen View Post
    Month 1
    Yet strangely, in Grinthorn's absence, the dessicate wounds carved into the land had began to heal at an astonishing rate. Was it something in the energy? An adept could only find so much, but by its residual, Aiko had found that this was certainly no random act. Residual ki signatures, sculpted in a manner decidedly more familiar than it ought to have been.
    "Slate's in five, Ms. Fukuhara. "

    The stagehand closed the door as suddenly as she'd entered, leaving Aiko there alone. It was about eleven in the morning and she was dressed for an evening at a white-tie-red-carpet affair. When they said they filmed the Artie Slocan show live, she had no idea that meant nine hours before air so they could chop it up and rearrange the footage.

    Thumping through the walls of the dressing room she felt the bass thrum and she hummed along as she fussed with her hair, Local lads, they were found in the Lemon District, but the musical quarter of Capital City was oversaturated. Nobody thought a quintet of horn players could make it out of the subway. Just look at them now!

    They'd only had a handful of events to start, but apparently her name had caused enough of a stir to pull a whole slew of people across the country. Even entertainment decided to move out West from the Capital proper. All it took was a road, four-lanes wide highway both ways, to get people to come back out here to follow the Girl with a Thousand Wings.

    Maybe it was a bit presumptuous, but where everyone saw nothing, she invested in it. Jitori had insisted she keep her name off the documents, and therefore as head of the Crane School though her contributions were effectively invisible. However, she had become very adept at wearing new hats and putting on fresh faces through the years.

    Breaking ground at the site of the Great Dam, they would see Aiko Fukuhara fumble with the hardhat over her girlish twintails; Cutting the tape next to the mayor, Aiko Fukukara celebrated the opening of a new hotel casino, clinking glasses with a distinguished valet who'd held her keys under a numbered tag for the afternoon and evening as she cashed out on the first pull of a slot machine; There at the athletics centre, once a week, Sensei Fukuhara was there to give people a push to find their fighting spirit whilst keeping an eye out for those who were adept for just a little bit more.

    Smiling to herself in the mirror, she sighed. /We've some good out here haven't we?/ She held on to a bit of the uncertainty as she examined the face in he mirror; her brown eyes and dimpled smile became a brand. Today she drew in the wings beside her eyes just a touch longer.
    __

    The lights flood the stage, the cameras panned, and the brass band played on. Sliding back on his roller chair, stage right, the man behind the desk in his snappy tweed spun in his chair and rapped his hand on the table, and the shuffled cue cards snapped into place. Artie Slocan, the late night host, enjoyed a certain level of notoriety when his show suddenly went off the air a year ago, but with a new city, there came a new network to reach the masses. Without missing a beat, he leaned into the camera and chewed the scenery for the studio audience. From where she stood behind the curtain, Aiko eyed the boom mics cropped out of frame, toeing her pumps where the cables wound around the floor into the stage panels. What a lovely setup.

    "Our next guest tonight is a rising star in action films! She's the action consultant and guest star on the new Brock Lee Sci-fi picture "Ace of Space," you know her well, New Anvil City, give it up for Aiko Fukuhara!"

    She snapped out of her musings and found Artie staring across the way at her, and missed her cue by half a beat as she crossed the floor. He went in for a hug, she left her hand on her hip and extended a hand and flummoxed he passed his hand forward. Still he was the host, and she took a short bow graciously before taking her seat.

  14. #4934

    Default Survival of the Fittest (Month 1)

    "You're a busy woman these days! Look at you Miss Showbiz!"

    "And look at you all plaid and tweed."

    "Since the last time we sat down I understand you kicked off the Unlimited Class Grappler's League?"

    "The UCGL? Oh, well, that's just a little pet project of mine, heh."

    With the end of Simon Battersea, the World Tournament as an institution dissolved with him. After what he'd done to Samson Balon and the crimes that had been exposed, the whole thing's name was worth about as much as mud. Not to mention the sort of unsavory characters this sort of tournament pulled out of the woodwork. When they set up the Anvil Dome, word had reached Aiko from someone, a man sent out here on behalf of another guy named Bedlam who wanted expand his eatery franchise out here. That's how it started, but then they got to chatting, and brought with him a little something else.

    They just wanted a piece of the action. Some...primal need for conflict that filled the minds of people. Inspiring, yes, but they still had a script to follow.

    "No weight classes, now that-that's a big leap, and they do this every week. Love it. And the new champ's been on a roll lately. What can you tell me about the rising star, Dixon Gordon Blue?"

    "The Man in the Blue Mask? I dunno, Artie, I don't think I'm at liberty to say, you know?"

    "Oh come on, he takes on The Flying Dragon in a week and you got no more deets? He's gotta have some strong feelings about taking over as a legit Champion of the Universe."

    Aiko laughed, then palmed her face. We've got to find better writers, ugh.

    "Well if I told, you won't be able to smell what he's cooking when he gets done with you."

    "Whoa, geez, okay! Okay! But uh, one more thing. Whatever happened to Gryphon Mask?"

    Aiko tilt her head and flit a stray bang out of her face "I'm also not at liberty to say?" She said, drawing a finger to her lips.

    "Two year undefeated streak, and then she just abdicated the title? You've gotta be putting me on! Suppose you but her in the case with Dixon~"

    "Heh, oh well, guess we'll have to speculate. Besides which...I'm only the associate producer, I can neither confirm nor deny, and that's that."

    "Speaking of which, we already know you've made quite a name for yourself as a fighter. In fact it's been a year-"

    Suddenly the audience whooped and cheered, and Aiko's eyes widened and she whipped her head over to the screen behind them to find somebody's picture, captured the moment where she fought that monkey-creature in the downtown core.

    Gonzo footage. Hadn't accounted for that. Capsule Phone quality was really a bitch. She clamped her lips thin as she darted her eyes back and forth.

    "So first thing, I'm glad you won, but how'd you come back from that?"

    Small talk had failed her. But how the hell was she going to explain the concept of ki in a ten minute segment?

    "...I, uh, know a shiatsu guy. Traditional bone-setting."

    "Sounds pretty gruesome."

    "Oh, it's not so bad, Artie. Once you understand how things are put together, popping a shoulder back into the socket is nothing."

    "Well you heard it here folks. And speaking to you, Mr. Shooting Guard at home, that ACL ain't gonna cut it on courtside, hah!"

    The audience laughed as much as they groaned, and Artie leaned inward, eyes unblinking into the cameras as he just dissed the home team. If he was mugging this hard, the cameras were probably zooming in, and Aiko covered her lip with one hand as she kept her voice down.

    "But yeah, where'd you pick those moves up?"

    For two thousand years the leadership of my order has passed these techniques down for generations after a apostatic schism following the death of a legendary master...

    "...well, I had a very good teacher. My great-uncle was also into it."

    "Can you show us some of the stuff you've learned?"

    Cat was out of the bag. Luckily, she'd prepared a few things ahead of time as the teamsters brought them out in neatly arrayed rows

    "Sure, I've brought some props. See these, back home these are the classic kobudo weapons."

    Designed right after the island's traditional sensibilities, most were some permutation of staves and sticks. the six-shaku bo, the four-shaku jo, the tonfa, the sickle. On the far end there was the tortoise shield and a boat oar, but those were just conversation pieces for the camera to stick on.

    "So back home we had to make do with what we could find in the old days."

    "I noticed there's nothing so much like, a spear, or a sword, right? Like, look at this thing," Artie said as he picked up a sai, "I'm not going to knock it, but it'd be a bit blue to hoe a man to death."

    "Yeah, that's exactly it. You wouldn't think you'd be able to, would you? Well neither did the samurai. Calling it the Empty Hand as a bit of misdirection, my ancestors would often be training, you know, in plain sight"

    "Ohhh so like they'd be drying laundry or milling rice..."

    Artie moved over and flit his hand over to pick a weapon for the demonstration. Of course he picked up the nunchaku

    "What about these guys? Like, how would you get around to working these? Why wouldn't you just use a stick?"

    "Sure but, ah," she clacked them together, "it's a little hard to fold up a stick, but these can go anywhere.

    "Whoa, that's an actual thing? I thought Brock Lee was just putting on a show when he whipped it out of his pants."

    Geez, Artie.

    "Hah! No, he's legit. Though it's still just a movie, so-"

    "Can you give us a demo? Like half of the nation, I've been trying to figure this out since I was eight."

    "Sure, just..." For a moment words failed her again as the tethered flail spun in her hand. Whipping them about, they were deathly silent, nothing more than the drone of the length of cord as the wood cut through the air like a mad hornet. The audience gasped and cheered in a rhythm. Artie asked her to do it again as he fumbled the over-the-shoulder switch and Aiko obliged.

    "Okay, I can see why this takes a lifetime to master. But we at the Artie Slocan show never give up on a challenge. HUZZAH"

    The host slapped a big red button on his desk and the stage floor before them split open. The music in the studio swelled as a tennis table rose out of the ground, and Aiko clutched her face as she laughed.

    "Let's go, bro! You and me!"

    Artie picked up two paddles, but when Aiko reached for one, he snatched it away, leaving the nunchaku dangling in her off hand.

    "That's the way it's gonna be my man?"

    "House rules, Fukuhara! Service!"

    Artie clicked the ball down and Aiko swung with the nunchaku and hit air.

    "Ace!"

    Aiko's dropped her jaw and scrunched her eyes in shock. This guy... muttering something to herself, she spun the tethered stick around in her hand.

    The cedar of the training hall echoed with murmurs from green uniforms in white belts. Putting weapons in the hands of amateurs was like giving pots and pans to children as they chortled and prodded.

    Someone overstepped his bounds and tried to take a swing at Sensei. Nobody saw what happened, only that the kid hit the ground. Aiko leaned in and observed as he threw it, over the shoulders, across the chest, switching hands.

    "Never take your eyes off your opponent's weapon once it is a thing in motion. Whatever you put it forward, you have imparted the thing with a living energy...the same goes for them where it carries their intention. Now observe."

    As time went on, the dojo was always quiet when Sensei led the class. This had been one of the first occasions that everyone had their lips sealed.

    "Keep balance. Shift weight on the ball of your feet and turn at the hip. Even if you have nothing but your movement, this will serve you. And when your life depends on it..."
    Popping the hollow plastict ball, she cross her hand where she held the stick under her arm and flicked it outward and sent it kiddy-corner to the host. Not to be outdone he returned fire...but even at a disadvantage so did she and the rally began.



    "Out of bounds! But that was still a pretty good effort. Aiko Fukuhara everybody!"

    "When your life depends on it, you will know exactly what to do."

    __

    Hours later the sun scattered over the sea before Tanchozurujima. As the sun rose, the broadcast was sent out on live.

    "-thanks for watching, we love you Anvil City, goodnight!"
    The echoes from the television were the only noise there in the Grandmaster's hall besides the ascendant footsteps. Solitude was only ever broken in the event of quarterly reports or a dire emergency. it was a matter of urgency for Jitori to consult the Crane grandmaster. While Aiko had her fun building her pet projects in the deserts, it was here upon the sea that the Crane Consigliere had put his eye upon.

    "Grandmaster, it's happened again. All over the mainland coast, slash marks and crushed vessels. Turns out they weren't accidents, they happened outside of the cover of a storm, and synchronized. With the fishing fleet across the strait having been destroyed, people will starve and margins will plunge."

    No reply, save for the brass band over the credits. Jitori fixed his sunglasses over his single eye and pulled the sliding screen back.

    Amid the cedar dome frozen in time in the hall, nothing but dust and worn incense. The Crane Grandmaster Chahan had not been here for some time.

  15. #4935
    Lin Kuei Grandmaster Sub-Zero MKA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by grampagen View Post
    "Asha'rah waged her war, because she wanted to find another way," Zaofan replied, "But even with all the knowledge of everything starting from the beginning, she couldn't find a solution outside of this, hmm? And then she lost sight of what she was fighting for entirely."

    Setting aside the two nests of finely stretched noodles, Zaofan pulled his hands away from the counter. Even without a speck on them, he still turned to the sink and washed them quite clean.

    "With the Remnant of that time still lingering, what does that say about them? Last time I saw Asha'rah, she was still remembering things. Stuff about what she had already had done and come to terms with already. Not a single thing about what we could do."

    And not a single regret, either. If she had any, she certainly kept them close to the chest. It hadn't escaped Zaofan's attention that the exact same sort of thing that was driving everyone a little mad as of late. ...heck, what does that say about us?

    "If that's the way it's going to be though, I suppose whatever happens, happens," he said, and as he set his hands down on the sink, for a moment his shoulders sagged and his tone was bereft of his usual cheer, "But if anybody is going to think they can treat the lives of my friends as a joke...never again, I will not tolerate it."

    Sighing, he put himself back into his work, and pulled another half-dozen pies out of the oven.

    "Of course, like anyone, I can only meet them halfway. Sarada, I'm glad you're still willing to go the other half."
    Asha'rah losing the plot during her war reminded Sarada of what Zaofan said a few minutes earlier.

    Quote Originally Posted by grampagen View Post
    Sometimes, I feel like we've been gone fighting for so long, it feels like we're starting to forget what we're fighting for."
    Were they in danger of falling down the same path Asha'rah did all those thousands of years ago? Being so caught up in the fight that they forgot why they were fighting in the first place? Asha'rah originally fought her war because those with strength were running roughshod over those without it. The war was the send a message to Zen'o because he apparently refused to listen to her when she used her words. In the end, she murdered her best friend and was fighting to win, not to improve the station and circumstances of her creation.

    Sarada reminded herself when Zaofan first mentioned it of why she, and they, were fighting. It was easy to slip into that mindset that what option set them closer to total victory was on the table, especially with that victory in view against an overwhelming enemy. Asha'rah fell to the mindset and it cost Indar'en his life. With the Remnants of her greatest mistake lurking somewhere in the universe, it was a living reminder of how deadly a "win at all costs" mentality was. They were fighting for a reason, but that reason didn't mean they needed to lose themselves and who they were.

    If they won, but lost themselves, then what was the point?

    "I'm not losing any more friends. Held, Jack, and Nunlil were enough. All collateral because of some jackass' hair-brained scheme." One that he gave up on when he realized he hadn't accounted for Inanna having friends who cared about her well-being. At least, before everything fell to shit.

    She wanted to ask him if his declaration included Inanna, but she didn't want to put him on the spot. Besides, she supposed his answer didn't matter. If he did include her, then great; if not, then that was all the more reason to believe that her wife wasn't coming back. How did it all go wrong? she wondered with a stifled sigh. I'd better stop thinking about it. It always makes me angry when I do.

    "You're welcome, Zaofan."

    Setting the pies to cool on the sill, Zaofan smiled quietly and nodded. "Now you're getting the picture."

    The clash of metal sounded out with the subdued sound of controlled breath, the sole indication for the ki signature had been suppressed. Out in the courtyard, Ochazuke had not been spending his time idly. Looped about each wrist were ten weighted rings, five on each arm, of a considerable weight carried upon the laboured steps of an ancestral fighting form.

    "I've trained directly with him for five years, and we've been slowly stitching a fighting style that's been lost for thousands of years together."

    When he expanded his motion and rotated to guard, they sprung back and rattled out to near the elbows. When he struck out, the force and the rings followed in a fluid motion, contracting and clashing at the point of impact with a steely clatter, a flow and crash that stopped just short of hitting his outstretched palm, instead springing up and hitting each other in a balanced impact before rattling about and sinking down again as he moved into the next step.

    "Let me tell you, he's a perfectionist. If he sees a flaw, he'll let you know, and this is a guy who can pick up on everything," he continued. As he watched, Zaofan rolled his wrist and reflexively mimicked the extension of the hand he saw outside.

    "But that's also how I know he has my back, because he never asked me to do something that he wouldn't do himself. It's a sort of mutual understanding we've reached. We press and support each other, since at this point, we're practically inside each other's heads."
    *sniff* *sniff*

    Sarada's gaze drifted over to the sleeping toddler and saw her nose twitching. ...great.

    At hearing Zaofan talk about Ochazuke and their training, her eyes narrowed a touch. Perfectionist? Yes, perfectly suited for running people off. Her teeth starting grinding as she recounted the accusatory words being thrown her wife's way, but both him and her sister. Neither bothered to try and understand why Inanna did...

    Damn it. There I go again.

    She sighed and let it drop without a word said.

    "Parsley and I haven't had much time to do any serious training other than three year-long stints on Ilargi this past year," she answered. "There are few people I trust more than her. Sounds like you feel the same way about your brother. Well-founded; there's no one more reliable." That she was able to saw that without gritting her teeth during was a testament to how true the statement was. She wasn't so salty about the past that she couldn't give credit where it was due.

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