And now . . . the forum staff brings you the Fight Club ROYAL RUMMMMBLE!

New Member
Feb 21, 2003
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Resting time was over

The air of the arena began to stir once again as the combatants began to retake their positions in the battle. Each coming from his respective area of rest, all three combatants looked as if the rest had done them a world of good. While scratches, bruises, and an all about rustled look remained, all fighters had their most grievous of wounds tended to by the awaiting medical staff, but no other comfort was afforded the fighters, aside from nourishment. While the fighters rested and were treated for their severe wounds, food was also supplied so that they wouldn’t pass out due to starvation, as the rumble was lasting much longer than any had anticipated.

Engar had been resting alongside his dinh Cucumba, who had made certain to not aid his pupil too much, as he didn’t want to be accused of tampering with the fight.

“You have done very well my apprentice, but I worry that you have expended too much in destroying Pride. I wish for you to take a more passive role to begin with in this battle if you can, you still need more time to recuperate the energy and life force that you have lost.”

Engar looked toward his mentor with awe, gratitude, and respect all at once. He refused to believe that Cucumba could be the monster that Pride had so assuredly accused him of being. He knew his master as another, one who was gracious to the weak and protector of all things that stood for right. To even think that his master could be evil…he did not believe it. He may follow his master wherever and whichever way he went, but he would not believe that it was an evil way.

“I appreciate your concern for me master, but you know as well as I do that there is no such thing as a passive role in this fight. If I wish to win, then I need to keep going.”

Cucumba looked upon his apprentice with swelling pride. His arm bandaged up so that it at least looked decent, he looked like he should be in a hospital rather than re-entering the battle. But Engar was a stubborn one, and tough to boot, Cucumba was sure that no one would outlast him in this battle, no, there will be no other standing along with him, not a single one.

Hwoarang and Gohan also came from their respective areas, shaking off the stiffness that had settled in their muscles and bones due to the rest. Hwoarang was feeling quite at ill with the demise of his partner and friend, Pride, and was itching to get his shot at taking down Engar in a fair fight.

I’ll take that bastard down if it is the last thing I do, thought Hwoarang, If Pride has perished, and Brim is down for the count, the tables have turned against me, I am now the only remaining Catalyst member. I have to show them that we are strong, I have to prove that they can’t simply count us out, like we’re just ordinary people, we are strong, and I know I can prove that.

Gohan emerged from his rest with a question on his mind. Should I continue to pursue this fragile alliance with Engar, or do I need to begin attacking him now if I wish to beat him in the end? As he tossed this idea about his head he surveyed

Cucumba stood, having returned to the officiating box, and gazed out upon the arena. The place had been ripped limb from limb. Giant boulders lay scattered all around the arena, accompanied by more rubble, chairs that had been ripped from the stands to make Engar’s mighty iron beasts lay strewn about. Tattered and torn by the destruction, one would think that a war had been waged throughout the arena. And who’s to say one hadn’t. With the force and destructive power that the combatants had been putting out, Cucumba was amazed that there wasn’t more destruction than what already was there.

“Well then,” Cucumba’s voice boomed from the announcers box and echoed through the crumbling facility, “I think that we have had more than enough of stalling, LET’S BEGIN!”

The fighters stood in a three-starred formation, each giving one eye for either opponent. A moment hung in the air, time froze, each of the fighters gave a split second to try and anticipate the moves of their opponents…and they all guessed correctly.

Hwoarang flew toward Engar with blurring speed, making himself appear as nothing but a blue and white blur. Expecting this move, Engar took a defensive stance in Hwoarang’s direction, anticipating the kicks to come his direction, but what Engar didn’t anticipate was the foot he took to the back of the head, sending him face-forward into the ground.



Do you feel that Brim? Do you feel their power? It’s incredible, yes, but you know that you have that power too don’t you.

“What...who are you?”

Haha, you ask me who I am? You know very well who I am; I’ve been here for a long time.

“No, I don’t know who you are; if I did I wouldn’t have asked the question.”

How easily you forget the past, I wonder if that is on purpose. You know me very well indeed; in fact, I’m the only reason you are here. Do you think that the powers you possess are a commonality?

“The power I wield is that of my own, no one else’s”

You are wrong at that assumption, your power was formidable to begin with, that is true, but the powers that you now posses are inherent from me. Don’t you remember the first time we met?

“What do you mean? I don’t remember anything about that…I…I”

Throwing out his only flesh arm as he fell, Engar planted his hand and twisted his body, swinging his right foot at Gohan’s face. That bastard, trying to take me from behind, knowing that Hwoarang and I would be gunning for each other…that mistake will not go unpunished.

Engar’s spinning kick just grazed Gohan’s head enough to blow back his hair, but didn’t connect. Beginning to doubt if he had made the right move, Gohan threw up his left forearm to block Engar’s encore kick with the left foot. That’s ok, he thought, he has already forgotten about his main worry.

And Engar had indeed forgotten about his main worry for that split second, and was rewarded for his forgetfulness with a kick to the ribs once he had gotten on his feet. Then he felt another, and another as Hwoarang began a Tae Kwan Do assault on the young modiwan. Delivering successful blow after blow, Hwoarang launched a ruthless assault on Engar, his anger fueling his drive.

Recovering for a split second, Engar reached out with his arm and caught the next oncoming kick, only to receive another kick to the back of his head as Hwoarang launched his body into the air with a spinning kick by his free leg.

As Engar fell to the ground, Hwoarang was greeted by an energy blast the size of his head. Blown away by the attack, Hwoarang looked forward and gave Gohan the evil eye as he recovered mid-air. I guess that means that he has no alliances, unless they suit him best.

Cucumba watched from above with an approving look. They are building up steam, good, fairly soon we will be seeing fighting of the scale previous to the break. But… Cucumba couldn’t shake that feeling…what was it?
Live free or die by the sword
Retired Forum Staff
✔️ HL Verified
💻 Oldtimer
Dec 1, 2001
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This is the scene at the rumble;

The arena is nearly destroyed.
Synth 1 LT
Pride 0 LT
Engar 0 LT
SA Gohan 1 LT
Brim 1 LT

2 Loss Tokens gets you booted from the rumble.

The order this round is:

Engar, Synth, SaiyanPrideXIX, Brim, SA Gohan, and the entrance of Magus . . . then the entrance of Scruff.
New Member
Retired Forum Staff
Jan 6, 2002
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All In A New York Minute..

Out of the fog they surge, a quartet of fiery comets tearing trenches in dust and ash as they approached their target. The silent figure gazed back into their red-eyed glare; apathetic towards approaching doom. Beneath the dim light of a storm-ridden sky the balls of energy – tapering like tear drops – grew ever closer towards the still warrior. They closed with all the predetermined power of a runaway train.

Beyond them, dark shapes swarming the air about him, one young man conjured the elements. One hand imploring, the other demanding; he divided his attention between the swirling firework display above and the statuesque fighter. Far above his twirling arms the clouds began to funnel downwards – brilliant blue bolts corkscrewing downwards like a serpent encircling its prey.

The blue leapt from the clouds and the red rushed from the fog.

Slowly, flakes of stone crunching softly into the quiet, Engar shifted his foot.


A demon of motion with twin blades of purple energy, Engar worked the hilt of the Rogue around his hand. The circle of blades twirled twice as he spun and two spheres of red shot off into the distance – explosions lightening the dark. Coming back about he thrust the spinning blades forwards and tightened his eyes shut as the remaining blasts were sliced in half. They exploded harmlessly on either side of him. The blades died and, already rising up from his crouch, Engar slid the hilt back to his belt.

Two seconds reaped from the universe.

He twisted, gravel crunching, and brought his remaining hand up with fingers twisted into a claw. Aura flickering purple, Engar drew on the Force and prepared himself even as Gohan – crackling with lightning – released the electricity in a lethal spray of power. The energy crashed against Engars' open hand and, feet set, he was driven back several feet before the initial momentum gave out. Sparks leapt from the ball of electricity that formed in the palm of his hand, tearing cracks in the concrete where they landed, but with the Force aiding him he captured it exactly like lightning in a bottle.

Gohan gasped and, his attack foiled for the moment, cut the supply off. Meanwhile Engar was turning back towards Hwoarang and – the Prodigy already launching himself into the fray - he brought his hand around. The scent of ozone filling his nostrils, he launched the crackling cloud of power towards his opponent and kept spinning – he ended facing Gohan once again with his hand outstretched. Spinning like a propeller – the hilt of the Rogue hovered above his palm for a moment then shot towards its target. The twin beams activated half way between he and his enemy.

Engar leapt backwards, skimming over the broken ground even as he turned about to face the Tae-Kwon-Do expert.

Both feet dug deep trenches in the stone as Hwoarang pulsed his aura forwards to slow his momentum. The blue death filling his eyes, he rolled his body to the side. The sphere skimmed his chest, sparks crackling between the fabric of his clothing but doing no damage, and continued onwards. He rose and swept his hands around, feet sliding easily into a ready form. Behind him the lightning struck and sent a divide rushing up the wall and along the remains of the ceiling; groans sounded through the arena but were paid no mind.

Five seconds dead and buried.

Gohan crouched and leapt a mere second before the blades cut him in two. He rose crouched into a ball, somersaulting over the purple beams, and shot a hand into the middle of the circle of death as it passed beneath him. Straightening out he caught the ground with a free hand, repelled himself back into the air and span the Rogue Sabre around his body – the purple beams bringing a brilliant end to the fog that swirled about him. He landed with a click and, smirking, twirled the hilt of the Rogue around his hand.

“Nice toy..”

At the same time Engar had flicked his wrist at the broken stonework, pebbles and grit trailing his shadow as he worked the Force around them, shaping them together. Running, he brought his hand forwards and the black cloud came together; first a hilt to grip then rising up from that a gleaming blade. A katanna; midnight black. Kicking off the shattering stone, Engar somersaulted forwards into a downward kick that Hwoarang easily sidestepped; one forearm raised to block the swing of the sword even as fiery Ki encircled his body. The two warriors grimaced at each other in the split-second they were eye to eye.

Then Engar was gone, still running. Hwoarang gathered Ki in one hand to launch at him, but his attention was already diverted.

Seven seconds decimated.

Intuition had Hwoarang lean backwards in time to avoid decapitation, the same intuition that led his hands to catch the ground and flip him backwards over the second beam of the Rogue. Landing crouched Hwoarang had barely enough time for an unfocussed blast of energy in Gohans' direction; the invisible wave slammed into him as he span the Rogue down on Hwoarang and sent him spiralling backwards through the air. Flaring his own aura Gohan managed to right himself before going off the platform, even as it swayed back and forth, but the Rogue had been knocked from his grip and plunged over the edge.

He looked across at his opponent, hair ruffling in the wind, and tried to concentrate.

The platform is on the ground.. why is it swaying?!

Gohan and Hwoarang looked up. Just in time to see the roof bear down upon them.

Ten seconds. Gone.

A crack resounded through the area, the octagon that had been the arena platform falling away to release an avalanche of falling boulders. In the midst of the stone hail two figures fell, arms and legs limp, dazed from the collision. Far below, well out of the way of the falling debris, Engar raised his hand towards them with the hilt of the Rogue gripped tight. Above him the two stirring, plummeting warriors were both smashed by ballistic boulders. The two works of stone drove the warriors together – knocking the breath out of both. In such a state neither fighter could protect themselves as the stones suddenly homed in on them. The boulders shattered on impact but the two took a battering.

Fifth-teen seconds.

They hit the ground and Engars' first attack was complete.

Forcing himself onto his feet, Hwoarang growled with feral intent and - his aura thrashing and snapping like an enraged beast – extended a hand towards Engar. Beside him Gohan was standing, slightly slower and slightly more reserved but no less angered by the attack. He cupped his hands by his side, drawing on his own fountain of Ki.

In the face of such an attack Engar merely smiled.

Far above them, unnoticed by any but he, one of the remaining splinters of the roof was shuddering. A line crept silently across its width, dividing the shard from the support of the roof. Beneath the minuscule line deterioration was spreading like a cancer, running straight down from the line to the bottom of the rock. In that sweep the connections were crucially weakened; bonds broken away to leave a porous rock no stronger than Swiss-cheese. And, as Hwoarang and Gohan brought more energy to the surface, their attacks launching Engars' way, he yanked the fragment just once more.

One moment the two warriors were following the path of their respective spheres of energy, willing them to knock some of the ****iness out of Engars system, the next they were desperately covering their eyes as a piece of the roof dropped in the path of their attacks. Both spheres exploded on impact, dust and dirt filling the air and pattering against their arms, but when the air cleared Engar was nowhere to be seen. Experienced Ki-Warriors – they extended their senses, probing the arena for any evidence of Engars' presence.

“It's like he's here and not here..” Gohan murmured, turning around.

“I'm sensing him all around us – it has to be some new technique.” Hwoarang glanced at Gohan, “Some new way of disrupting our senses..”

The two warriors looked at each other for a moment, then backed away from each other in unison.

“Every man for himself,” Gohan murmured.


Above them the ravens cawed quietly to themselves, beady eyes following the movement of both warriors. Perched in nearly every crook and cranny, they leered downward on the whole event. Even as the two leapt for each other they preened their dark feathers; feigning disinterest. It wouldn't be long, seconds perhaps, and their fractured being held on for the right moment. The right second.

“Ruaaargh!” “Hyyaaaa!”

Flinging himself into the battle, Gohan swept one foot around in a spinning roundhouse that brushed straight through the tips of Hwoarangs' hair. He somersaulted backwards, caught Gohans' foot tight in one hand and drew the other back as he swung upwards – upside down. Aura surging down through his torso and along his arm – Hwoarang came within a moment of firing before Gohan managed to twist about and press both hands against Hwoangs'. The two energies sparked off each other, premature attacks with little stability, and the ensuing explosion sent both backwards through the air.


Hwoarang powered forwards, more energy rising up from the depths of his soul, and pummelled the air with a flurry of punches aimed for Gohans' chest. The lithe warrior moved deftly between the blows, falling backwards with every dodge, but soon found himself approaching a wall – hemmed in. He moved further, barrier approaching, eyes fixated on the fists that passed on either side of him, waiting, timing, there, now! Both hands sprung and grabbed Hwoarangs' arms as they blurred through the air – his aura exploding as he negated their power. Crouching backwards, Gohan shot both feet forwards like pistons and drove towards Hwoarangs' face. The warrior broke free of his grip and twisted aside; his own aura spitting as he blurred out of the kicks path.


They charged each other – energy focussed into a single attack – and as they collided threw their respective Ki forwards. Two fists met – Gohan and Hwoarang gritting their teeth as both auras battled for supremacy – then with twin screams another two crashed together. They pressed and strained against the other, then opened their fist to grip each others hand in a primal attempt to break their opponents stance. Voices rose up through the tomb of battle; whether in pain or anger was impossible to discern. Then they were spinning, Hwoarang the focal point with Gohan trailing wildly about.


Wrenched into the air, Gohan span around and around even as his energy flapped around and tried to bring back balance. As he rose into the dark of the shadowed roof – what was left of it – he became aware of the sound of flapping. The feeling of feathers brushing against him. The caw of mad ravens. And then the dark figure was there, one fist rammed deep into his stomach before Gohan even knew he was there. His aura died around him, body curling into the foetal position as he fought for air, and he hovered on excess momentum for a moment.

Then he began to fall.

Already the figure was gone. Before Hwoarangs' eyes it had appeared and disappeared – dissolving into the dark. Engars' trick, something his tainted mentor had passed down, but knowing it didn't much help. In the dark those purple feathers were the best kind of camouflage; their singular energy was too weak and they too numerous to trace reliably. He twisted around with the sound of flapping wings in his ears – twin beams of red lancing through the air. Again he turned, sure that Engar would be there, but again there was nothing but the after affects of another of his attacks.

Then a resounding thump sounded and he turned, lips drawn in a snarl of victory. Instead of Engar he saw Gohan, coughing and spluttering as he began to rise, and a purple feather floated towards the floor in front of him. His spine exploded in pain as a fist hammered into the small of his back; too late Hwoarang began to bring the full extent of his aura up. One hand caught his shoulder, the other gripping the waistband of his clothing, and he was hurled forwards off balance. Just as he spiralled forwards to reveal his stomach – the air already shimmering as he tried to bring himself to a halt – Hwoarang witnessed Engar blurring into sight and digging a knee into his kidney.

He gagged on a reflex, giving Engar that vital second to grip him by the neck, force him backwards and hammer him down into the rock. The ground shattered around his body and he found himself in an imprint a foot or two deep, looking up as Engar brought his foot up over his face.

“It's not a game any more, Hwoarang,” for a moment Engar looked stricken, as if the actions he made were wearing him down. But he knew that wasn't true – just another mockery care of Cucatoth. “No cost is too great. No cost.” And he brought his foot down.

Exactly a foot, inches from Hwoarangs' forehead, then a beam of incandescent fire rammed into Engars' chest and sent him stumbling to the side. His armour smoking, the metal beginning to turn red, Engar turned into the beam and focussed his energy back into it – forcing it back. Beyond the glow he could just see Gohan on the other side of attack, grinning. However that wasn't what worried him. What worried him was rising up into the middle of both attacks, aura expanding outwards to drive both back. Engar, abandoning his attack, held his arm over his face. He felt as though an invisible fist were pressing him backwards.

Hwoarang was powering up. That pinnacle they had reached in the fight before; he was pushing towards it once again. The ground shook, the walls quaked, chips of stone plummeted from the remains of the roof above. In the midst of the chaos, under his raised arm, Engar could just see his opponent. The warriors limbs were bulging, muscles expanding as fresh Ki flooded their system, empowering them beyond the limits of even the most extraordinary. His eyes were burning holes – if they were windows they opened to a grand view of hell.

Then it all died. Hwoarang was left with nothing, no glow, no sparks, no aura. The entire light-show disappeared as quickly as it had arrived.

But Engar knew what had really happened. All that excess energy was being gathered together, focussed into every move he made. The aura of any warrior was made up of excess energy discharging in the air around them. When powered up to fight warriors naturally let their control slip a little and the aura was an example of that. Not with Hwoarang, however. He was concentrating fully; every scrap trained to his will.

In contrast, Engar was breathless. Near constant movement, even over such a short period time, coupled with intense Ki, Force and.. whatever it was he used to dissolve into a collection of ravens. In short Engar needed a minute to just stand and breath but clearly that wasn't about to happen. He had managed to hold his own for a while but a price had to be paid.


Raising his hand, Engar gripped the platform with the Force and launched it sideways, hurtling towards Hwoarang as he took a step forwards. He brought up one arm to block the octagon, barely breaking his stride as it hammered into him, and caught it in the hand of the other. He lifted it over his head as though it were a discus, still walking, and hurled it back towards the Modiwan. Engar closed his eyes and screamed, the octagon slowing as it approached him and coming to a halt with his fingers brushing against it. It hovered for a moment then dropped with a crunch.

“Stay back!”

A pillar of stone rose up from the floor in Hwoarangs' path; he walked through it.

“I mean it!”

Two spears of razor sharp rock formed on either side of Engar and lanced towards Hwoarang; they shattered on impact.

There was something inevitable in the click of his boots on the stone. The steady sound reminded him.. reminded him of the toll of a certain bell. The bell that sounded when death reared its' monstrous head. An ugly fear lurked in the depths of his mind, made even stronger now that the subject was gone. Its one thing to fear the enemy you see; something altogether different to fear the one you can't. And there was always that question, the one that fluttered through his mind as he rested up.

How do you kill Death, Engar? How do you?!

He opened his eyes and, for the life of him, it was Pride he saw approaching him with that steady, irresistible, unstoppable pace.

“I said stay back!”

Hwoarang took another step.

Engar snapped.

The fingers – the talons – of the Force reached up and tore at the roof. Instead of the calm, surgical slices that he had made before Engar seized entire chunks and forcibly snapped them away. Boulders crashed off the ground at random; no rhyme or reason. The floor smashed and cracked, the terrain altered second by second, and amidst it Hwoarang walked fearless.

He wasn't, though, the only one on the battle-field.

Running up one chunk of the roof, Gohan pumped both feet and arms as he crossed the arena. He reached the brink of the rock and leapt, landing on the true ground and weaving from side to side between the various small formations that rose up around him. One massive boulder landed in his path, no more than five feet ahead, and he brought both hands forward with a yell – a beam of energy tearing right through it – and continued without pausing. Once through he crouched and leapt, landing on the side of a higher rock, then repelled off it to land on the top of another.

Two spikes of rock rose out of the ground to form a massive 'X'; Gohan launched himself towards them and hand-sprung off the connection. More energy flooding his system he landed on a falling rock without hesitation and threw himself off it before it landed. Gohan ended up gripping the wall of a literal cliff face, he braced himself then heaved his body upwards. He landed crouched on the top of the larger formation and dropped down the other side. He skidded down its' slope, eyes searching the chaos for any sign of Engar, but instead spotted Hwoarang.

Through everything he merely walked, as though he didn't see what was happening.

Still Gohan couldn't pause to worry about him, he needed to get to Engar before he decided to bring the walls down on them.

With no other alternative, he threw himself into the air. His aura protected him from the smaller rocks but he was left to dodge and dive around the larger boulders. On the ground the other rocks afforded him some kind of protection or forewarning; in the air there was nothing of the kind. Spinning to fly on his back Gohan kept both eyes trained on the sky above. Every boulder appearing in his path was incinerated, the remains floating to the earth as ash and leaving the ground underneath him relatively clear.

Then he was over Engars' Ki. He somersaulted backwards and landed poised on the wall, looking down at the frantic warrior. Gohan kicked off and plummeted towards Engar, fist drawn back, but instead of bone and flesh he found himself punching through a mass of feathers. He turned and skidded off the concrete, dust trailing in his wake, to see the last of the ravens disappear into the dark. Still, at least he had stopped the boulders.

Glancing upwards, he realised that the real cause. No more roof.

“Those storm clouds,” Gohan turned to see Hwoarang speaking, standing at his side looking relatively peaceful. “They keep this place dark enough to hide him in the shadows. Time to bring back the light.”

One hand rose and fired a beam of red energy – straight upwards. It speared through the hole above them and burrowed through the clouds – firing from Forumscant into whatever lay beyond. But it wasn't the attack that mattered, it was the light it gave off. It illuminated the entire arena; first casting shadows, then banishing all of them. Blinking in every corner and every nook were some very worried ravens.

Gohan leapt, golden energy already crackling through his fingers, and began to fire thin, precise beams towards the birds, driving them into the air. He wasn't allied to Hwoarang, at least not at that moment, but a little pay-back was necessary. So he continued to fire, driving more and more of the raven upwards until the air was full of them. Flocking together, the natural instinct that bound all of them could only be resisted for so long. Helpless, Engar reformed in mid-air – panting.

The Force told him what was happening but his body, even infused with Ki, was infuriatingly mortal. As Hwoarang appeared out of the ether with a fist flying he had bare instants afforded to deflect the blow. He shot his palm out to force the Prodigy back but Hwoarang was already rolling smoothly out of the way – his foot hooking towards Engars' chest as he moved. Battle intuition had Engar raising his knees and leaning back to protect himself but the shear power of the blow sent him soaring backwards.

His aura caught him and Hwoarang appeared in no hurry; Engar drew the Rogue and brought it to life with a single blade while his opponent merely extended his hand. Two blasts and a beam – Engar managed to deflect the first two but the third hammered against the Rogue and he found himself riding the energy backwards. Just in the line of his sight he could see Gohan watching from a distance, supporting neither side.

Feet finding a platform in one of the larger boulders, Engar planted himself and drove energy up through his arm and screamed, wrenching the Rogue around and sending the beam soaring away to decimate a patch of rocks. With that moment of respite Engar had time to marshal his senses and realise that, while the situation was bad, he had to keep a grip on his emotions. Clearly Prides' skeletal fingers were still holding some part of his mind – through fear, he was sure, rather than any metaphysical presence - but he had to maintain his composure.

He had to fight back!

So Engar gathered his energy and yelled anew, aura flaming into existence and shattering the stone he stood upon. He flew forwards, arm drawn back with the Rogue Sabre singing through the air. Hwoarang stood with his arms folded, smirking with confidence rather than arrogance, but Engar would not be daunted. He summoned still more energy and the air around his body seared – for one crystal clear moment he hung before Hwoarang with the Rogue slicing downwards through his.. shimmering after-image.

. . no. .

As if from nowhere Hwoarangs' knee appeared and drove upwards into Engars' face, his head snapping back with dangerous suddenness. A fist followed, gouging deep into his stomach and twisting as it rose – his entire body folded around it. As blood and phlegm spurted from his mouth he had time to catch sight of the Rogue falling away then he was beginning to spin. Hwoarang held him by the legs and swung him around before releasing him into the rugged ground below.

The Modiwan hammered straight through boulder after boulder, the rocks crumbling as he continued in his meteoric journey, spinning and twirling, barely able to keep his arm cushioning his head. A decade of ten seconds later he came to a halt, cradled in a bed of sand, and was given the time to breath and groan. A heck of a lot of the good work the respite had done had been knocked out of him in that one blow. Blood was leaking down from a gash on his forehead and bruises that the small healing ability the Force afforded him had eased were screaming again. Even the remains of his right arm, the stub that ended before his elbow, appeared to have been hurt in the fall.

And yet.. he rose to a crouch. He wiped the blood from his face, separated a strip of metal/cloth from his armour and wrapped it about his head with the Force. Then he forced himself wearily to his feet, rocking unsteadily for a moment, and flicked the blood from his hands and onto the gravel. Sighing, Engar picked his way up to the top of the nearest boulder and found himself gazing across the arena. Towards Hwoarang.

He had to keep fighting, scared or hurt. Choices were for people without responsibility.

* * *

The referees had retreated to a far corner, combined Force abilities keeping their table relatively unscathed. While Hibiki sorted his MP3 collection into alphabetical order the others blinked in stunned wonder.

“How long was that?” asked Deverz finally, rubbing his forehead.

“A minute..” Cucumba replied.

“How long was what?” Hibiki glanced up, “What I miss?”

They sighed but did not reply; the round had only just begun.
💻 Oldtimer
May 29, 2002
Best answers
Hwoarang had grown into a cascading persona, as he laid in his jail cell, listening to James preach like a pastor, who had made the cold and quiet confines of a jail cell, his church. Imprisonment has a way of making you actually consider the mind-over-matter approach, and the android realized that the old fellow ranting in the bed below him, finally had someone to share his collected thoughts with. He gave his usual, "I guess so.." and "you may be right," but Hwoarang was more focused on the previous events that had led him to this situation. Being locked up and out of the views of society wasn't reassuring at all, and he figured he had become a fugitive beyond the slightly sadistic preconceptions of martial law. Merchandise isn't considered to have feelings, so why would the concept stop for him? Just because a piece of machinery had came with legs, what allowed it to run away for the time being? Hwoarang hadn't been this negative in a long time, or just didn't realize that he been this negative for so long. The only reassuring factor was the fact he had no form of identification, and was easily sputtered a sarcastic alias of John Doe.

"You should really read the word more often kid, it would do you a lot of good. I know being a street fighter has it's ups and down, but the word helps balance those kind of things out."

A tapping noise startled the android, and he turned to see a man in a dark blue suit, his shoulders bulging, hinting this guy was nothing but pure muscle. He smiled, nodding at Hwoarang with a slight hint of arrogance, motioning for the police to let him out. The android jumped down, slightly causing a seismic excitement as he landed, and quickly approached the door. It creaked open, the guards growing a defensive aura to them as Hwoarang exited the cell. He had broken the police chief's jaw during the interrogation. James decided to remain quiet, and he figured it was the last time he'd ever see the locally infamous street fighter.

Walking down the corridor of the district jail, cells lining each side, some filled with 24 hour vagabonds to predicate felons, who were waiting for the big river drop, Hwoarang suddenly felt the pinching grip of someone's hand on his shoulder. Out of the corner of his eyes he saw it was the physically intimidating man in the suit, and his grip felt like a pair of pliers had latched on to him.

Once they had exited the jail, strangely through a side exit, the android attempted to make a run for it, only to feel the grip tighten on his shoulder, the pain almost making him gasp.

"You feel pain? You are such an inferior model."

Hwoarang smirked, "Model?"

He was thrown into the back of what looked like an armored van, turning around to see the guy who had thrown him, the guy in the suit, jump in the back of the van with him, and sit down in the only seat it had, right beside the door. The trip was long and Hwoarang was convinced they had driven across the country.

The suit spoke up, "You see... if you hadn't ran off like scared little girl... you could have made this trip with better accommodations."

He pulled out an FBI ID, flashed it like it was a badge of honor, then proceeded to crush it into powder, with one swift squeezing motion.

"I hope all the excess baggage that comes with a one-in-a-million model like you, is worth it. Because, if you give us anymore hard times, I'll personally break your back in half, and claim it was a spastic defect."

The van suddenly stopped, the door swinging open, and the suit jumped out,” Target acquired, engage lockdown."

Hwoarang could hear huge garage shop doors slam and slide shut, and noticed the suit was motioning for him to exit the van. He stepped out, and realized he was in what looked to be like a huge storage warehouse, but all the boxes looked empty. He was led to the other side, to a door, and down the stairwell that followed, to another door, that looked like it didn't belong there. It suddenly slid open, and the suit pushed him through it, stepping through it was well, it quickly closing behind them.

"You see that third tunnel from the right? Follow it."

The android turned to see at least twelve different tunnels, each color coded, each suggesting a completely different direction.

"Welcome to the Bioware Military Concept Compound, or the BMCC if your a fan of acronyms."

They headed down that third tunnel from the right, and eventually approached the end of it, walking into what looked similar to the same room he had awoken in at the tower back in the metropolis part of Forumscant. Even the same scientist he had sucker-punched was there, noticing the minute he saw Hwoarang, he exhaled with relief.

"Where did you find him Model 0201?"

"He was police property, due to a shoplifting incident."

He chuckled, continuing to stare at Hwoarang. "I guess running away in a hospital dress doesn't make for a fun experience... does it?"

"No it doesn't... now please tell me why you have done this to me... I didn't think my military terms included top secret... where I am an officially trademarked android... I never read the contracts I should have!"

Hwoarang still saw this rumble as just another fight, just another brawl that made the winners and losers apparent. He had battled with a good handful of fighters, some no challenge, some quite the unique and personified form of incredulous intimidation. Seeing this part of the rumble as the time to make a stand, the temptation to reveal his true intentions and also his true peak of power, became completely unbearable. The numerical equations of latitude and longitude were correctly coordinated with his internal system, a spastic regularity within reason of a metaphorically observational account of an energized catacomb. His kilowatts were potentially the ultimate concentration of a millennia of kinetic hypothesis. He was in fact the last active member of his clan, the last true magnet of the scrolls, both spiritually and physically. When he clinched his fist, it was if the Earth had clinched her fist as well. Life and death was always associated with returning to an origin, what better genesis than the planet we all called home. A electromagnetic orb of ethereal memories which shared space and existence, channeled animation, the only classification needed for a census value.

He was schooling all of them in energy conservation, because their was no tank, only a constant cycle of hypnotic resurgence. And the fact he also shared the ironic peak of capitalism, the fact engineered mechanisms replaced his skeletal frame, it seemed to only add to the ginormous chip on his shoulder, a chip that had came with birth, as an invisible growth. It made him paranoid, it made him constantly question cause and effect, question the boundaries of right and wrong. He eventually felt like a senior citizen in an adolescent shell, which made him an outcast to his traditional rivals. But, he wasn't worried about the foremost goals of competition, he was only concerned about leaving a legacy. It didn't matter if it was negative or positive, people just had to utter his name and the vibe satisfied the emptiness such an outlook accompanied.

These thoughts always found a way into his mind at the most inappropriate times, deciding to become a trace of mental consideration as he dodged Engar's assault, his one-armed assault at least. The modiwan had heart, he had the talent, but Hwoarang realized the basis of Engar's power didn't accompany a cosmic balance needed to test fate, to crack the brick wall of victory. The Force, as the android analyzed it, shared no characteristics of balance, and only confronted chaos to add to it. Hwoarang admired the modiwan's determination as well, and it sickened him to see such unwillingness wasted within a hive of lunacy.

He blurred towards Engar, who seemed to be in a trance of pain, and this pill of suffering was far from a placebo. As he drew back to hit him, he saw Engar cough up more blood, and right before the sadly repetitive, but effectively dramatic fist met another face, he stopped.

"Always seeking that balance of good and evil... when you only need to realize that it's always been balanced."

The modiwan roared with vigilance, corkscrewing with impressive speed at Hwoarang and back slashing his rogue blade, only to see him smack the actual blade like it was brush in the way of a jungle expedition.

"Your blade.. the peak of this imbalance... while it represents you appropriately... the presentation is only one side of the actual duel cohesiveness needed to create this balance I speak of. You only kill because he tells you to."

Engar absorbed the androids words with indifference, but the sinking feeling of slavery that came with being someone's pupil encircled his rage into a fission of retaliation.

"You should've been a preacher!"

He continued the battle, waving his rogue blade in a rhythmic fashion, adapting to the fact the android simply pushed his physical defense aside.

I'm so drained... I don't know how much longer I can defend against this machine.

The android seemed to grow tired of entertaining his attacks with defense, and began to knock him around once again.

"All it takes is balance my opponent... you seek diplomacy in only one direction... when there has always been two."

Before they both knew it, they had dragged the fight to right in front of the judges, and one simple swift attack would send the other fighter into them. At this point, it was if both of them was trying to avoid that from happening, and almost began to lead each other away from them, rotating around punches, jolting around kicks, reflecting finishing blows with frantic responses. Out of pure coincidence, Hwoarang glanced at Cucumba, into his eyes, which triggered the memory that he had recently battled to become subconscious.

"Why did I really do this to you?"

"Because... your the only one who seems to be capable of a very challenging task. Does the name Cucumba ring a bell?"

Hwoarang paused. "I've heard of him... "

"Your going to kill him... eradicate him... he's a pest to the goals of my administration."

The android grew a disturbed look. "You sure he doesn't feel the same way about you... and would only expect me? He's the spawn of a fallen demonic titan, known horrifically to many as Cucatoth. There is no clue how deep his information on this organization would get."

"That's the good news... he doesn't expect us to send someone of your caliber. Your unique talents overshadow any relation to our typical methods. And this Cucatoth character is news to me... I'll have to find any information on that later, but for now... I'm fully confident in your abilities."

"Why me... again?"

The scientist smiled. "Oh... you know exactly why... pride of the Aian clan. I've been one to study any theory of creation and evolution, your clan being one that intrigued me the most. You believe every human is born with a demon, and a mirror image of the creator within them, otherwise known as their conscience. They struggle with the demon to truly understand what it is to be human, to truly understand what the mirror is reflecting. Those who fail and fall for the demon's mirage become the lost or scum of society, while those who notice the intended likeness become the saints and coveted individuals. Yet, the demon still exists as a powerful influence... leaving failure to be inevitable or pure luck if it never comes. Your clan believed they finally controlled the hell spawn, and even used some of it's power for your own benefits."

The android didn't even show a hint of emotion. "They were just a bunch of followers... no one truly believed those words."

"Is that any way to respect your ancestors? I'm sure they are proud of the person you became because of their influence. Whether or not they failed to survive, the peak of their success is concentrated in you."

Hwoarang turned away, staring into space.

"Also... we've decided to call you Codename: Synth. As far as the name you were born with, it's affiliation with any public record has been erased. The people who need to know of you, know you as Synth. Don't be surprised if the time comes when you need to accept that identity."

The android realized the ultimatum, the step he had blindly taken, the tag he would have to acknowledge, and the fact his gut told him to give this guy the finger. "You give a usual speech."

The scientist cleared his throat. "I must say... you are one of the most unique machines ever. For some reason we couldn't take your soul, your spirit, who you are... when that is always the case with any operation of this magnitude. You miraculously held onto something that was a part of you, and that not only represents how powerful you are as a person, but how potentially destructive you can be."

The android, his self-personification becoming quite apparent, and how he would identify himself, began to shutter. "Is this what this is all about? Bang! Bang! Boom! Boom! Who's next?!"

He turned to the robot who had given his shoulder quite the sore spot and smiled, becoming a blur that scattered loose papers within reasonable distances, everywhere. The sound of metal being shattered was soon met with a visible account of the model 0201 entire head becoming scraps that rolled in every direction.

Hwoarang turned to the scientist, as the rest of model 0201 crashed to the ground. "Bang! Bang! Boom! Boom! Who's next?!"

He then exited, the scientist barely hearing him utter his following words. "Don't worry about telling me where he is... I know exactly where that is."

The android glanced at Cucumba, dodging Engar's blows, attempts that signaled a breakdown within the modiwan, as a fighter, and a further nuisance, fluently.

"I knew exactly where you would be. I know exactly why I have no further reason to dance for your entertainment."

Engar paused, watching Hwoarang suddenly head towards the judges. "Who is he talking to?"

The Tae Kwon Do Prodigy pierced the air, his crosshairs on the life of Cucumba's, his powers erupting beyond previous displays. "Nothing personal... "

Out of no where, Hibiki, who before seemed in his own little world, threw his Nintendo DS up, it landing in Opti's nervously reacted hands, launched himself into the air, spiraling between the incoming android and Cucumba. Hwoarang looked up, staring down the barrel of a gun, smelling the distinct leather vapor that spread from the agitated judge's red jacket. All of the rest of the active fighters... SA Gohan, Brim, and Engar, stared blankly at the situation.

"Put the gun away my friend... this Synth character has proven he lacks patience... that's all."

Hwoarang reverted from his attack stance, and stared at Cucumba blankly.

He knows...

"Now... before you crash my entertainment, and forumscants entertainment to the ground... let's look at the path you've taken. You were born in an arrogant clan, an ironic clan... one which met it's appropriate fate. Ups and downs... you end up a military toy, now instructed to assassinate a celestial nightmare."

He chuckled. "You've taken too many sleeping pills... eh archdreamer?"

The android tensed up, flexing and extending his arms to his side rapidly, his aura exploded, forcing Hibiki, who was obviously the closest, to cover his eyes.

"My clan's arrogance was it's own fault... not mine. You'd figure the survivor got a clue."

Cucumba nodded. "Here's a compromise... you win this tournament... and you got your shot. Give a little entertainment factor to this task... I know your a street fighter at heart."

He extended his hand.

"C'mon... I know the added respect factor would intrigue you."

A crowd, braveheart enough to withstand the shockingly abrasive forces that echoed in their direction, began to audibly speculate with confusion and discord.

Outbursting above the chaos, "He's ruining our show... you don't kill the host!"

The android disappeared into thin air, startling everyone, reappearing in front of Cucumba, and shaking his hand. "The name is Synth... and you better hope your the only body bag."

Synth vanished again, manifesting in front of Engar, who had been totally caught off guard. His aura drenched fist abused the modiwan's dumbfoundness, sending him clear across the arena. Before he have chase, the android turned back to Cucumba, winked, teleported, and emerged with a flurry of combos, that were accompanied with the defensive battle cry of a determined Force wielder.

"The Force?"

"Force alone doesn't succeed... without knowledge. So steadfast to wield your rogue blade... you even forget why you did."

The modiwan was making awkward swings now, the imbalance of losing a limb taking it's effects. What still remained was the pure vigilance, an almost telepathic message, a form of communication noted to be highly impossible to the average, but understandably an emotionally fed vibe, which grinded Synth's psyche. He was mostly defending himself since the sucker punch, too impressed with Engar's retaliation to bother attacking.

"A hidden connection is stronger than an obvious one."

Synth dodged another attempt of his own professionally served decapitation, extending his right arm and latching on to Engar's still-existing left wrist. Pivoting off the opposite reaction of the modiwan's arm being pulls away from him, the android launched two swift kicks, one landing straight-forward into Engar's jaw, his right leg following as if his left leg was the jab, and his right would now be the haymaker, an attack that suggested Engar's jaw was going to be heading for a bit of dislocation to the left side of his face. Managing to duck and free his wrist in the process, the modiwan rotated under the gravity-descended Synth, finding his back exposed, immediately aiming his rogue blade in a stabbing motion. Inches from permanently scarring the android, his blade ended up meeting thin air, Synth appropriately vanishing. Engar, who turned to find his ever-frustrating opponent, grimaced as his face became eliminated by a red light, mumbling negative words within reason of insanity, admitting defeat in the eroding tides of a red cylinder of energy, the radius matching the android's open palm, becoming a modiwan-seeking beam that felt like it was burning his skin off as it crashed into his stomach.

Cucumba stood up, watching his pupil being guided by a red blast into a pile of large and broken ceiling fragments. "Is the android trying to pressure me to defend my own pupil?!"

"He could have easily ended his life he had put more into that beam... what motivates him to hold back?"

Hibiki coughed, "Should've let me put a bullet in his mainframe... I mean his brain."

The green one sighed, "And kill a contestant... you heard how the mob around the arena reacted to the possibility of my death."

The sound of a gun clicking grabbed everyone's attention.

"I don't think they'll care about a judge as much."

Optimus smiled, slowly handing over Hibiki's Nintendo DS. "Touching is... bad."

The android turned to find where Brim and SA Gohan had taken their battle, he would stand alone with them all out of commission, and call Cucumba out once again.

"This isn't about winning anymore... it's about making a point. I didn't come here to dance for the crowd, I came here to do business."

Locating them between a pile of rubble, reaction feeding reaction, anger feeding the entire process, Brim and Gohan had managed to been consistent in the regards of putting up a good fight. They were true competition, while Synth and Cucumba's drama, kept in spirits of combat by Engar, was the sideshow. Brim had not shown any significant power, yet his moves suggested formidable strength. Gohan was consistent in sharing energy himself, small melee-inspired beams barely dodged by Brim, tearing huge chunks into what was left of the roof, around them. Synth began to charge up a beam that required both his hands, aiming it for both of them, with the intent of severely injuring them.

"What's a tournament when there is only one left standing?"

The android's creation ignited the air with heat as it approached the steadfast fighters, it too late before they noticed there previous focus was being taking advantage of. The beam impacted right behind them, a blinding light filling what was left of an octagon structure, it quickly subsiding, revealing two fighters scattered amongst the rubble of a small crater, their subconscious intact, but their threat temporarily put to rest.

Cucumba, who was still standing, smiled. "This one seeks to really become infamous to the crowd."

A crowd ready to become a part of the merciless festivities as well, began to rush the arena, only to run back in fear, as an almost eerily crash of lightning roared a demobilizing tone against their eardrums.

It was storming again, the eye almost feeling it had become Synth, who's aura was pulsating thicker and thicker, random sparks of energy tracing his arms.

"There's no one left Cucatoth... time for you to step up to the plate!"

The crowd cheered outside, though they expected the tournament to last a lot longer, any kind of excitement of this magnitude inspired them.

Concentrated on the fight, a major sponsor’s CEO laughed with excitement, watching the fight from a good distance, binoculars his form of vision.

"Looks like there won't be a point in building another stadium for next year!"

Shaking his head, Cucumba quickly pointed to Synth's left, where Gohan was charging up a beam of his own, almost about to launch it. Dust and concrete rotated counterclockwise, mimicking the speed the charge visibly intimidated as it rotated in front of Gohan's clenched palms. A suspended moment in time to Synth, became the moment he should decide how to react to an almost instantly incoming decimator, a rotation of instinct leading to a backwards hand motion to the edge of the beam, creating a light show for the audience as it entered orbit above the atmosphere.

"Ha.. "

An area, once an octagon structure, shook once again, one android manipulating more energy in his immediate area than ever before, a grid that traced the entire concrete architecture, erased preconceptions of eventual safety, red energy filling all escape routes. Tinting the appearance of everything inside, with the color of blood, the color of unwarranted mercy. It's mesmerizing detail of creation, became a standoff of reserved dispositions, entangled in thoughts of how a trap, which included it's creator, would eventually take to destroy. The android knew this was an extensive daydream, taking the unhesitant basis of engagement, vanishing and reappearing in front of Gohan.

"Everything is decided by the Force!"

A flash of light, the only remaining color differential in the entire energy-incased dome, was followed by Synth flying in a parallel direction from Gohan, using him as s shield. The modiwan brushed the wrongly faced Gohan aside with a swift foot plant to this shoulder, using the momentum, he increased the speed in which he pursued the android.

His rogue blade remains untainted, does it represent his unsettled power?

Dodging a swipe, resembling a 'blur of death' to Synth, his right arm reached below the retraction of light, finding Engar's single wrist once again.

"Has the Force decided to abandon your will to fight yet?"

Swiftly backhanding Engar across the forehead, with the opposite left arm, his left hand's grip tightened, a marauding right jab-kick, buried into the modiwan's chest, created a concussion of air, the reversal of inertia feeding the right arm that the android almost blindly hooked into the counter-attacking Gohan, introducing him, one again, to the arena's cold and unforgiving floor, the almost deviously placed jagged boulders, a signature of epic forces that should have never been encased within anything.

Oh... you know exactly why... pride of the Aian clan.

Gohan couldn't hear any combat, and knew it meant he was still involved in the main skirmish itself. The clusters of boulders around him began to vibrate and slowly break apart, the one he was half-way buried in, beginning to disintegrate, his emotions almost ripping his heart out in fear as he began to notice the huge beam that was headed his way, it's origins, Synth's extended right palm.

You believe every human is born with a demon, and a mirror image of the creator within them, otherwise known as their conscience.

The saiyan erupted to his feet, throwing his arms up, signaling his intentions to block the beam

They struggle with the demon to truly understand what it is to be human, to truly understand what the mirror is reflecting.

The beam, in coincidental direction of the judges, seemed as if it had already swallowed the saiyan, and grinded into the Earth, as long as Synth saw fit.

Those who fail and fall for the demon's mirage become the lost or scum of society, while those who notice the intended likeness become the saints and coveted individuals.

Without notice, the beam shot skyward, releasing mournful doubt from anyone who perceived Gohan as poetically deceased.

Yet, the demon still exists as a powerful influence... leaving failure to be inevitable or pure luck if it never comes.

Impervious to diplomacy at this point, the disconnected comet of energy, introduced to a path that would lead to eventual celestial orbit, met the curving canopy of electromagnetic animation, which shared it's illustrator as well, becoming absorbed with no extensive stress.

Your clan believed they finally controlled the hell spawn, and even used some of it's power for your own benefits.

Realizing he now had two threats incoming, Synth braced for whatever the results would be, understanding he had never been happier, cold chills of eagerness, a static prequel to the juggling of internal forces it would take to dodge the expeditiously placed right haymaker Gohan promptly proceeded with a rotating left roundhouse, a sharp pain, mixed with a bodily, and a candidly emotional grimace.

They were just a bunch of followers... no one truly believed those words.

Flashbacks of success, then failure, ironically webbed the androids daydream, his habitual reaction to defeat, his only able defense as Engar took the opportunity to conduct an orchestra of back-and-forward jab-kicks, the finale, sparks of personal touch sticking with the concerto theme, a scissor-kick, guiding Synth to the dry reef of bent steel and fragmented concrete.

You were born in an arrogant clan, an ironic clan... one which met it's appropriate fate.

Covered in rubble, the android danced to his feet, now finding it was beginning too look like a chronic composition, glaring at the two-headed assault once again.

You feel pain? You are such an inferior model.

Suggested intervention chemically and spastically mixed their brain's nerve endings with the result of impacting an impervious shield of energy, abruptly presented inches from the immediate sequel of prosperity against Synth. Taking way more than just a remnance of anger, translated visually as future vengeance with them, their destination where ever gravity and previous placement shared directional boundaries.

For some reason we couldn't take your soul, your spirit, who you are... when that is always the case with any operation of this magnitude.

After using an obviously miniscule shield, in comparison to the one that surrounded the arena, for defensives measures, Synth raised his hand and waved it in a dismissive manner, the red tint that had captivated and created a claustrophobic essence to the last moments of combat, slowly disappeared with the gargantuan shield itself. Everyone soon noticed a small vibration in their ear, audibly a low hum, had become the past as well.

You miraculously held onto something that was a part of you, and that not only represents how powerful you are as a person, but how potentially destructive you can be.

Synth reached into his gi, pulling out a book that reeked of death, each and every fighter, every judge, shaking with a nervous epitome.

Cucumba's hands began to shake as he stood up.

You have dreamed too well, O wise archdreamer, for you have drawn dream's gods away from the world of all men's vision to that which is wholly yours.

Synth's voice seemed to echo eerily for miles. "With this book I shall bridge the gap of life and death!"
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Dec 3, 2002
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"You will do no such thing."

The rumbling bellow accompanied a huge hand that clamped down around the back of Synth's neck, a hand so monstrous that it seemed it could almost reach all the way around his throat. He tried to whirl around but amazingly, despite his own strength, he could barely move.

A second hand reached around and seized the book from him. The green skin on the hand told him what he already knew; Cucumba had stepped in.

"I'll be taking that," the Jade Behemoth spat.

Through gritted teeth, Synth protested. "The rules say you can't interfere," he muttered.

"The rules also say that if you are killed, you are eliminated." Once he'd taken the book, he effortlessly shoved the Tae Kwon Do prodigy aside. "He's died twice now, by my count." He was, of course, referring to Pride--who had been absent from the arena for a long time, by that point. He recalled the rules clearly, and recalled his slight violation of them when he'd added some of his immense life force to Engar's killing blast.

That monstrosity could not be allowed to win the Rumble. If Pride had won the Rumble he would have caused a great deal of uproar. He had, after all, been an unknown until he'd walked into the arena. Pride's ambitions seemed obvious enough to Cucumba: win the rumble, walk into Forumscant, and lay waste to Cucumba's empire as he saw fit. The being had an obvious enough disdain for Cucumba himself, but even aside from that, Cucumba knew the ways of the upper echelon well enough. Both the Fallen Angel and the Reaper sides of Pride knew it too; they were both existing outside the plain of the Creation. It was how Cucumba was able to amass such great power in the physical plain. Because of that fact, Cucumba knew that the Last Rider would have enough capacity to become a fierce threat. Coupled with his wish to defeat/wreak vengeance upon Cucumba, Pride was too vast a danger.

He was not afraid, fortunately. He actually relished the idea of fighting a being equal with him in terms of power. But he knew as well as anyone else that a battle between him and any being of equal strength would likely tear the very fabric of reality around them. No, he feared Pride more or less for his reaper side, on behalf of the people of Forumscant. Pride was always an upstart, and Cucumba had created the paradise of Forumscant to protect the people under his wing from all threats and dangers. He supposed the omnipresent physical manifestation of the Grim Reaper was as great a danger to his people as anything.

Pride's semi-human form, the form with which he'd first entered the Rumble, had allowed him to come to Forumscant. Now he was within its borders, and he was vastly more than human now. Very dangerous, indeed.

Cucumba's presence in the center of the arena had brought the battle to a standstill. All eyes watched him cautiously, warily. "This book must be destroyed before it is opened," Cucumba said to Engar. The loyal disciple nodded, his arm still missing. It amazed Cucumba, at points; Engar was but a man, but the potency of his power and the solidarity of his technique had kept him alive even in the face of multiple encounters with the paranormal Phenom, Pride. He made Cucumba proud; he knew that his loyalty was as blind as his technique was precise; if anyone would destroy the book without a second thought, it was Engar.

"Yes, master," Engar said quietly. "It will be done."

A strange digital modem sort of sound caught the attention of most of the fighters. It had come from the announcement booth.

"No," a new voice intoned. "It will not be done."

Cucumba whirled around to see, of all people, a clean-cut man in a gray suit where Hibiki's body had once been. Despite the relative low light of the arena, he wore a pair of sunglasses. He was recognized at once.

"Smith," Cucumba said. The word dripped out of his mouth entrenched in disdain.

Smith adjusted his tie, tilting his neck slightly. "In the...flesh, as it were."

"You can't interfere in this battle, Smith," Engar intoned. "Not unless you're an entrant."

"I'm not here to interfere," Smith said with a grimace. "I was just...doing a bit of...upgrading, you see." He grinned, a wide hyena grin. "The Catalyst OS is a marvelous piece of technology."

Most did not understand, but Cucumba and Synth both did. The Catalyst OS is the computer program that had run the nanomachines implanted in Pride's body. It was an incredibly powerful computer program. To think that Smith had its systemics integrated into his own code was troubling.

"He's been eradicated," Cucumba said dismissively. "The nanomachines are destroyed."

"Not quite, my friend." Smith grinned. "Did you know that the Catalyst nanomachines have kept a recorded copy of Mr. Pride's collective conscious, on the cellular level?"

"Pride is alive!" Synth shouted.

"Oh, not quite, Mr. Synth." Smith walked up to Cucumba--the two were so close that Cucumba could see the whites of the program's eyes underneath his shades. "Then again, he was never really alive, you see."

Cucumba's grip on the book tightened. He started to realize Smith's plan. "You couldn't win yourself. But with Pride involved..."

"He isn't Pride anymore," Smith said with a chuckle. "Oh no. Having two conscious entities intermingled in his backup file system, without the anchor of the angel's body...things have changed."

"He's wiped out on the cellular level," Engar added. Then proudly: "I did it myself."

"Then why is your...large green friend worried about"

As he said the last word, a flurry of activity began. Cucumba's eyes widened as a liquid, dialing noise erupted from behind him. A second Smith had appeared, and had dug both of his hands into the Jade Behemoth's back, a liquid silver substance slowly trying to wrap itself around the victim.

Cucumba had been caught off guard, but as soon as he realized what had happened, he began to resist, and easily the liquid metal began to recede back into the second Smith's hands. The Smith in front reacted, jamming his own hand into the Mad Old One's chest.

Engar reacted, bolting forward, but a quick kick from a lightning-fast Synth knocked him away. When Synth turned back towards Cucumba, half a dozen more gray suits had joined in the communal assault on Cucumba. The Jade Behemoth was resisting, slowly but surely; his aura was beginning to kick up despite the paralyzing effect of Smith's copying process.

Synth saw the opportunity, and bolted forward in a surge of speed.

Each of the Smiths was slowly decrypting and vanishing; without physical bodies the copies were frail and unstable. Cucumba was vastly too powerful for the copy process to actually succeed, even with the addition of the Catalyst OS to Smith's code; but the paralysis of the process was enough for Synth to bolt forth and snatch the book from the Jade Behemoth's hand.


An explosive shockwave erupted out of Cucumba's aura and sent all of the combatants flying away; the final and original Smith flew into the wall and dissipated, leaving only Hibiki's battered body in its place.

Synth opened the book as Cucumba whirled around.

Nothing happened.

"What? It can't be?!"

Cucumba looked from left to right, as did Engar; they listened for the bell to toll. It never did.

A grin came over the green behemoth's visage. "Looks like your plan has backfired, mechanical man."

Synth dropped to his knees, holding the open book in his arms. He looked at the writing; some illegible ancient language. He wondered if maybe he had to read from the book, but it mattered not if he couldn't decipher its writings.

"Master," Engar intoned.

"Not now," Cucumba said dismissively. His attentions were focused fully on Synth, who sat alone with the book across his knees like some desperate believer with a deeply ailing faith. "It's over, Synth. He isn't coming back. Give me the book."

Synth looked up at the jade behemoth for a moment. His face bore an expression of untellable defeat.


Cucumba threw up his hand, silencing his star pupil's voice immediately. "Pride is gone. Not you, nor this book, can bring him back. He is dead, forever more. Do you understand that, machine? Dead. Pride is de--"

He was interrupted by a loud squawking sound. Turning, he saw something that he thought was outright impossible: a short way away, there sat a huge black vulture, crotchety and cruel, upon one of the unbreakable ring's turnbuckles. It squawked loudly at Cucumba; after a few moments it was joined by others, descending from the highest heights of the arena.

He hadn't the slightest idea where they were coming from, but before long, the chain ring ropes were covered in similar vultures, all squawking loudly, and all looking directly at the jade behemoth.

Looking him in the EYE, at that.

"Master, I--"

Cucumba turned around furious, but what he saw stopped his anger cold. Engar clutched his forearm--and from that forearm extended a faint, violet ghost of a hand. Bones wrapped in a preternatural purple wisp of fluid flame. Synth's face lit up at the sight, for he knew what it meant. The arena grew colder, suddenly, and the birds scattered once more in a loud rustle. Engar was too fascinated by his hand to realize that he, like the others, was breaking a cold sweat.

The sound of the deep bell rang out, louder then ever before.

"No!!" Cucumba screamed. "You're dead!"

A voice boomed from the preternatural nowhere--the very place where those horrible bells tolled from. "CUCATOTH."

"You're dead, damn you! I saw you, you were wiped off of this dimension! Right the center...of MY ARENA!!"


A gentle, hangman's breeze blew threw the arena.


"Your body," Engar said, barely more then a whisper. "It was destroyed. Not one cell left. How can you still exist...?"


"But without a body you are nothing," Engar said.


The bell tolled once more, and the wind kicked up sharply. The ground began to shake beneath the combatants violently; the entire arena rattled as though it were a small child's prized toy. Outside the walls, horrid thunder the likes of which even Cucumba had never heard began to rip and tear at the sky. The floor began to coat in a liquidy mist as the rumble entrants struggled to stay on their feet; the smoke swirled to the center of the arena and into a faint upward spiral pattern. The book flew up of its own accord and placed itself in the center of the ring, within the base of the strange upward force. The pages flipped violently as the wind kicked up to a harsh gale; from the writing a horrid purple glow was slowly manifesting.

Cucumba looked about and heard something in the chaos. He looked up and saw the roof of the arena beginning to crack and peel away into the night sky. It was then that he noticed a horrible cacophony of voices chanting an old, familiar phrase. "Ominos Eidelos," the ancient tongue meaning "Last Rider." Looking about, he saw that near the center of the ring, where the book sat emitting its faint purple glow, and he saw the six druid-like silhouettes of the previous six riders--the fallen companions of the fallen angel called Pride. The chant came from them, though it seemed as if a mob was saying it along with them. They put forth their hands and began to walk toward the book.

"No!" Cucumba screamed. In the whirling chaos, he fired a projectile blast from the palm of one hand--it flew harmlessly through the violet spectre he'd targeted, impacting against the far wall and blowing a hole through the side of the arena.

As the six druidic silhouettes came together, there was a massive brightening followed by an explosion of purple light. Even the mighty Cucatoth had to shield his eyes from the initial burst.

In the place of the book and the druids there was now a massive tornado of fiery violet light, large enough that the base of the column of energy nearly covered the entire ring. The top of the column blasted its way through the roof with ease, and most of the ceiling of the arena broke away as its structural integrity began to give out.

In the spinning chaos, the explosive column of violet fire did nothing to help matters. As huge pieces of the ceiling ripped away into either the sky or downward to the arena floor, Cucumba and the combatants were able to see the horizon outside--a chaotic storm of violet lightning and black thunderclouds. Before long, the entire arena ceiling had torn itself to shreds, and the fiery fount of violet in the center of the ring had caused the four walls to begin to crumble outward as well.

The Fight Club Arena, save for the floor, had been wiped into oblivion. There remained only the rafters (long emptied of human spectators) and the ring, engulfed almost fully by the strange energy well.

There was now a grave silence harrowing throughout the skies; the purple energy well emitted nothing more than a subtle hum in the open air. All of the combatants stood in the hallowed breeze that blew across the night sky, looking up in awe at the violet clouds. The occasional roll of thunder or crack of purple lightning accompanied the otherwise silent night.

There was a quickening within the energy well's base, and suddenly a whirlwind of hundreds of tiny points of violet light began to swirl out of it's center.

Cucumba knew for certain what these were; the souls of the dead. Before long the air was filled with thousands of them, soaring and winding through the night sky, in a silent and spectral homage to the master they loyally followed.

The voice spoke once more, now seeming to echo from the distant skies.


With that, the souls all began to swirl violently inward towards the energy well. Something large and metallic sailed past Synth's head and into the vortex; with a start he realized it was part of Pride's long-destroyed motorcycle.

A furious cavalcade of lightning, soul energy, and hurricane like winds ensued, but only briefly. Synth's superhuman eyes saw through the carnage, as did Cucumba's, to see what was happening in the center of the energy vortex. Slowly, the swirling souls began to reveal a silhouette from the ground up. Two great wings exploded out from the silhouette's form--the wings of an angel, but blackened and matted like a vulture's--before cradling back inward around the man-shaped blackness.

Within a few moments, the energy vortex crescendoed, and finally died away. In silent homage the souls all stopped moving about the arena's remnants, seeming to turn inward towards the being that now stood in the center of the ring. The bell tolled one last time before all turned to look upon him.

The book was gone, and in its place stood a behemoth of a man. He wore a black leather hat, and a black leather duster jacket. Long, stringy hair of the darkest shade of black leaked from either side; the color matched his lean black goatee. The man's brow was hidden entirely by the brim of the hat; but his gaze was no less piercing. The Last Rider pulled back the collar of his duster and let it drop methodically to the ring floor. It turned to dust on contact.

What was underneath was shocking. The remnants of Pride's long-destroyed motorcycle had been fashioned into metallic adornments over the Rider's body and clothes: tire treads ran up his back and over his shoulders, holding in place black metal plates that ran flush against his chest; a chrome grill had aligned itself neatly to his abdominals, ribbing the muscles underneath his simple black shirt; his elbows and knees were adorned with chrome rings and tire rubber padding; his boots plated with layers of black and silver steel; around his neck was a band of blackened chrome with a series of bolts through it, like a dog collar. He looked even more monstrous than ever.

Slowly he removed his leather hat, and it too faded into dust. His eyes were rolled far back into his head, but before long they came to focus. The vultures were circling the ring, now, squawking eagerly at their master's frame. He said only one thing: "This ends now."

Engar's face twisted into a grimace of disdain. "No!!! You're dead! DEAD!!!"

"If I am dead," the Rider tolled, "then we will meet again after I kill you all."

"You'll die trying, then!" a voice called from behind. A burst of energy caught this newly formed incarnation of the Last Rider square in the chest. The dark behemoth was blown clear out of the ring and onto his back, revealing his assailant to be none other than SA Gohan--whose aura was fuming.

Gohan's aura lit up the violet-hewn night as he charged a new attack, balls of energy forming in both of his hands. He turned to Engar before firing. "I'll show you how it's done!"

He unleashed a flurry of golden energy blasts from each hand in unison. The body of the Last Rider received the considerable impact of each of them, in machinegun rapid succession.

The only thing that stopped Gohan's furious barrage was a stout kick from Engar. Gohan stumbled backward, his barrage abruptly halted. "What the--?!"

"You fool!!" Engar spat. "He is mine--mine alone!!"

Engar spun towards the smoldering body of the Last Rider and threw up his newly formed Phantom Hand. Something had felt distinctly different about it this time. Though it was still vaporous energy, it felt much more...solid. More real, even. He knew it would be permanently grafted to his body for the rest of his life now, whether the Last Rider was in tow or otherwise. Above all else, he knew that having a limb of pure energy meant his energy attacks could be greatly amplified with minimal effort. He tested the newfound power now, on the downed Rider.

The hand glowed furiously, and Synth observed the split-second charge process with great interest. It appeared as if the souls within Engar's arm and hand absorbed all the physical effort of the charge; the Tae Kwon Do Prodigy knew that with such an ability, Engar would now be able to fire blasts of unprecedented power levels with amazing quickness and little to no loss of his own body's stamina.

What erupted from Engar's Phantom Hand was a super concentrated energy stream, less than two feet wide. The refined shape of the beam, and its precise aim--it had little if any curve to it--displayed just how accurately Engar's new powers were able to manifest their trajectory.

The force of the impact was equally as startling. It hammered into the Dark Phenom's prone body and shoved him violently away along the ground. A deep trench was carved in the Rider's wake as Engar's beam smashed him furiously into the low spectator barricades still remaining as part of the arena's walls. Engar's face was a wily grin of self satisfaction, one that quickly widened as he intensified the beam tenfold with a flick of his wrist. Streaks of thunder tried to escape the concentrated stream but Engar had total mastery over the energy now; they were promptly contained. The force within the small stream of energy must have been astronomical; Synth could sense it raising intensity with each passing second. Pride's body wasn't even visible any longer once it was so engulfed in the beam's light.

Synth knew he had to help. He leapt off of his feet and burst forward, but before he'd managed to get five feet some spear-like object had jammed into his torso with a start. He found himself impaled against the remnants of the arena wall, a giant metallic rod jamming into his torso just underneath where a human's heart would have been. Something distant registered as what should be immense pain, but Synth ignored it. Instead, he struggled to remove the metallic javelin--which appeared to be part of the destroyed arena's architecture--when another sudden impact tore through his forearm, pinning his arm against the wall.

With only one hand available, Synth couldn't manage to dislodge the first makeshift spear. The second, he could have forced by pulling his arm upward, but there was too much risk that he would tear the entire forearm apart in the process.

He saw his assailant a few feet away. There, none other than Brim stood, tearing steel rods of varying shapes and sizes from chunks of fallen arena debris. "Brim!" Synth shouted. "What the hell are you doing?!"

"Sorry, man," Brim said, somewhat apologetically. "I ain't quite as big on the super moves as the rest of you are. Ol' Brim gets it done the old fashioned way." He seemed ignorant of the fact that the only thing standing in the way of the Nation of Administration's eternal domination of the world was in the corner being burned into oblivion by Engar's beam.

"Then kill me where I hang, because so help me if I get loose--"

"It ain't like that, man," Brim said. There was a degree of sincerity in his voice. "If those two want to take freakshow over there to town, well it's in my best interest to keep the deck stacked. It's every man for himself, you know? And besides...that guy's dangerous. I can't stand against that monster--hell, even the Big Pickle seems bothered by him. But if those two manage to wipe him out...well...that makes my odds so much the better." A bit of grim satisfaction at his plan shined in his voice. "After all...those two are a lot more mortal than HE is."

Synth could do nothing more but swear as he helplessly looked on. Brim continued to fashion makeshift weapons while they watched, but he was not eager to enter the fray. He knew that Synth would be able to free himself eventually, but hopefully he'd bought enough time for Engar and Gohan to get the job done, which had been his only intention.

Secretly, Brim had hoped that Gohan and Engar might finish off the Funeral Parlor reject and then turn on one another, leaving him to enter into the brawl and take control. That didn't happen, but Brim wasn't disappointed at all with what he saw, regardless.

Gohan was an opportunistic fighter who had shown on many occasions that he could exploit a weakness of an opponent wherever necessary, but he also fought with a degree of honor. He sensed a growing resistance to Engar's attack, and also noted the frustration in the young apprentice's face begin to grow. He knew that the Dark Phenom was still not eradicated, despite the impressive force of Engar's perfect beam attack.

In a rare moment for Gohan, opportunity had to be put before honor. He raised his hands and charged, again opening fire with a barrage of dozens of energy blasts. He cried out as he intensified his output, unleashing countless blasts into the mass of light and energy at the end of Engar's beam. The two cooperated and, after exchanging a look, intensified both of their attacks.

The Fight Club Arena was located on a mountain top, miles from Forumscant's cities and civilians. The explosion that resulted from the coupling of Gohan and Engar's attacks, however, was visible to them even so far a distance away.

The smoke cleared, the debris settled. At the very edge of the arena, the Dark Phenom's body hung loosely over the edge of what remained of the floor. The section of wall he'd been pressed against by the beam had been eradicated. While his legs and waist remained in the ditch carved by the beam's initial impact, his upper torso hung loosely in the open night air. He dangled precariously above a long and steep mountainside. Smoke rose from his singed visage.

Gohan raised an energy-drenched hand to fire one last blast and send the lifeless body over the edge, but Engar stopped him.

"No," Engar intoned, grimly. He looked up to his master, who hovered high in the sky above, watching intently. Cucumba watched ominously, and nodded with approval.

"No...he is mine."

The Phantom Hand charged its might once more, glowing fervently as violent energy reactions took place within it. Engar's intention was clear--a single projectile so overcharged with power that it would blow the Dark Phenom's body miles away. All stood by and watched as the mighty apprentice charged his final attack. As the energy reached critical mass, a violet hue came over the whites of his eyes.

For all the confusion he'd felt during this battle, his duty to Cucumba still consumed him. This abomination was an enemy of his master, and he would terminate it without question. Who was right and who was wrong could wait till later.

Engar let out a guttural cry as the burst of purple light flew from the Phantom Hand in a blast of bright energy. It sailed with purpose toward the body of the Dark Phenom, resolute in its goal of obliterating the enemy.

Engar had placed enough charge in that blast to level a city block on impact. Compressing the blast into such a tiny sphere (only a foot in diameter) would see to it that the blast would be even more forceful. Combined with the fact that the Last Rider's body leaned limply back over the mountainous abyss, Engar was all but positive that his foe would be sent literally miles from the arena. If he wasn't destroyed outright.

The split second before impact came, and all eyes were on the Dark Phenom's body... it miraculously and instantaneously sat up. With a SINGLE HAND, the Last Rider batted the supercharged projectile away, sending it careening into the distant mountainside.

"Oh ****," Brim muttered.

The expression on the Last Rider's face was a gnashing grimace of pure rage. He rose to his feet and shook his long, stringy hair out of his face with a quick jolt of his head. Amazingly, both he and his peculiar motorcycle-derived armor were still relatively intact. A single strip of black dripped from the corner of his mouth--something that this preternatural being was using for blood--but the Phenom quickly wiped it away with the back of a hand.

The Dark Phenom started forward when the side of his head was mashed with a huge and jagged piece of stone. More black blood spattered from the Phenom's mouth, and he was sent reeling back toward the edge.

Brim had jumped into the fray, utilizing a piece of steel wire that had a large chunk of arena wall still attached to it. The weight of the stone made the metallic wire bend easily enough that Brim was using it as a makeshift mace. He swung it again at the Last Rider's face, connecting brutally with his unprotected head and jerking his neck an unnatural way. The black fluid flew from the Phenom's mouth and back he stepped once more.

With each successive hit, Brim noticed what both Engar and Gohan noticed; he seemed much more mortal in this form, despite his powers. He might be harder to crack, but there would no longer be any regenerating lost limbs in an instant, nor any injury being completely ignored. And though he was taking repeated blows to the face and head with what was easilly 800 pounds of rock, the fact that he bled made Brim press that much harder. The Last Rider stood now once more on the precipice of oblivion, the jagged and unforgiving mountains looming below.

Brim reeled the stone in for the final blow, swinging it double fast and double hard before letting fly this time. He was excited; after all this, the lowest powered warrior in the rumble would destroy the mighty Pride once and for all! Even if he didn't win, the glory he'd receive might be more than enough to sate his goals.

The mace flew. And then it was gone, shattered into pebbled oblivion by Pride's huge right fist! Brim looked into the black-spattered face of the Dark Phenom and felt a huge pang of fear, followed by a suicidal pang of desperation. He did the only thing he could think to do--dove into Pride and tackled him over the edge of the arena.

Engar and Gohan moved cautiously forward, hoping against hope that Brim had ridden the body of the Last Rider down the mountainside and to their (perhaps mutual) oblivion. The silence of the grave was all they heard.

Ominously, the Phenom hovered upward and into their views. Clenched almost effortlessly in his hand was Brim's throat. The upstart fought as best he could, but between his windpipe being clenched shut and being disarmed, he was almost powerless to escape the Phenom's grip.

Pride's face seemed silent, stock-still. Then all it once it burst into a guttural scream of rage as he shoved Brim back towards the arena, through a stone remnant of the wall.

Engar and Gohan reacted immediately, firing two high intensity beams of energy at the Phenom where he hoved out above the arena. Their blasts lit up the sky as they soared towards their target, but they were met this time with resistance. POWERFUL resistance.

Pride had caught the heads of both beams in his hands. The force of Engar's new power alone should have moved him back while he flew, but even in open air he was not budged. With a grunt and another guttural scream, Pride's own violet spirit energy burst forward, absorbing the two beams he'd stopped short and shockwaving them back at the combatants. They were sent flying across much of the arena.

Engar reached for his rogue saber from where he lay. The blade had come unclipped from his belt in the blast. He knew it would be ten times as strong with the power of the Phantom Hand at his side, and he hoped against hope that maybe he could still stop this Phenom.

He felt bitterness at his own doubts. Of course he could. They'd merely underestimated his powers. Engar had only used a fraction of his newfound strength, at any rate. He was nowhere near through yet.

The Last Rider landed on the arena floor, shooting glances to all the competitors. Brim was trying to recover from his impromptu meeting with the wall; Engar and Gohan groggily tried to re-establish their own vertical bases; the one called Synth had dislodged his arm and now worked to remove the remaining steel rod from his chest.

There was something new and vicious about this last incarnation of the Last Rider. Some animalistic and predatory aura. He knew as he wiped some blood from his face that he was no longer attached to the Spirit Realm, and thus, he would be destructible in some sense. His power had increased so massively, however, that he did not feel at all burdened by this knowledge. His injuries still healed faster than anyone else in the Rumble's, and his body was physically stronger than ever. He thought briefly about the beam attack and the repeated hammering of his face with the jagged stone debris. He grinned slightly at the thought; for he realized it had barely hurt at all.

He eyed them all once more before looking up to Cucumba.

"This arena is not yours any longer."

The Rider dropped to one knee and raised his hand, paying homage to the souls of the dead as they briefly flickered into visibility once more.

"It ME."

The bell tolled once again, as lightning clashed across the sky.
Active Member
💻 Oldtimer
Dec 15, 2001
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This was a darkness unlike any other. It was oppressive, all consuming, one in which the brightest of lights could not pierce, and in which one found all that they could ever fear.

It felt heavy, weighing down upon the shoulders of the warriors gathered within, it was sticky, oily, almost a physical presence that sought to smother their life.

It was the force of he who had been known as Pride.

The bell tolled deeply once more, resounding through the bodies of competitor's, judges, and onlooker's alike, shuddering what remained of the monolithic frame of the Fight club arena. Dust stirred, rising to shroud the ground of the battlefield, an eerie effect that only served to complement and heighten that sound at the edge of all's concerned hearing.

The distant cry of the dead.

Pride rose from his knee, and lightning flickered across the sky once again, catching the highlights of his new metal frame, and casting deep shadows across the crags of his face.

Engar came groggily to his feet; beyond the dull aches of countless bruises, and the pain of thousand of small cuts and injuries, his ears were filled with a low, intense ringing, the result of having his own energy multiplied and redirected back towards himself.
He mentally shook himself, drawing from the Force yet again to shore up his battered body, and prepare for another assault against Pride.
He felt its energy course through his muscles, giving him some respite from the combination of little agonies, but only for a moment, and then he was dragged back under into that dull simmering sea of pain.

He didn't dare close his eyes to rest for a moment, didn't dare blink lest Pride take advantage of that momentary weakness; as he had so many times before, and would again, he breathed in deeply, and set himself for what was to come.

The seconds ticked by, with the two mighty warriors glaring at each other across the distance that separated them. Around them the world vanished into a black oblivion, unimportant and forgotten with all the other players currently disabled.
Engar ran through all that he knew about this new Pride, compared it against his previous incarnations, and before he was done he'd already realized the futility of it.
The creature before him now was nothing like the Phenom he'd fought before.

He had no plan to combat him, no prior experience, nor knowledge of his attacks to aide him, whereas Pride was far more aware of Engar abilities . . . and limitations.

He was at a disadvantage, and at this point in the game, such a thing was invariably painful, and potentially fatal.

Engar grimaced. The only thing to do then was to correct his lack of knowledge. The hard way.

Cutting through the shroud of dust at his feet, Engar jetted forward towards his nemesis.


In the ether that was this near total darkness, it was easy to lose track of time. Easy to fall into a rhythm, let his body take over and watch as the battle unfolded around him. Through him.

The shadowy bulk of a massive foot coming at his head, silhouted in an opportune moment of lightning; dodged by a hair's breadth; the lightning fast counter that was blocked almost casually, carelessly, as that strike's counter came at him with a force behind that could easily knock Engar off his feet and into serious injury.

Weaving through the following strikes, letting his speed keep him safe, before teleporting away a short distance to gain some space, then leaping back in with a foot, a knee, an elbow. His choice of weapon was haphazard, almost thoughtless, and never lingered on.

His own arm, highlighted in mid strike; the face of his opponent, heavily contrasted by shadows and light ominous as he dodged out of the way . . . it was all almost surreal, the darkness and sudden random changes to light having lent the fight an air of happening in between those moments, those lightning strikes.

He could go like this forever, caught in a half-life between shards, fighting his most hated foe, never winning, never losing.

But such could not be, was not meant to be. Somewhere, far back in his mind, where he was safe from the dangers of the fight, the nebulous darkness and blinding light, Engar realized this somewhat absently. That was an important fact, a critical one, and his lethargic reaction to it should have alarmed him. But in the cool peace that were these shadows, it did not. There was no deception, no trap, he could be at mental ease . . .

Oddly, after an indeterminate period, there seemed to come a change. His body was slowing down by hair's breadths at a time, his reaction time slowing almost imperceptibly moment by moment. The lids of his once alert eyes sunk half way down into a near dream like state, and inevitably the point came where he was no longer weaving and dancing between the mighty blows of Pride, but more stumbling away from them, and finally incurring damage.

A fist, blocked just a second too late clipped his jaw, sending the Modiwan sailing away in slow motion; a kick that could have been dodged instead foolishly blocked, jarring his frame, and bruising his arm.

The pain trickled into his consciousness first, but it wasn't long before it graduated from a stream, then a river, then a gushing, almost all consuming wave that engulfed his body. Bruises adorned him, blood flowed at increasing speed from the number of old and new wounds on his body. But it became all that Engar knew, and like the peace that had preceded it, he merely accepted it and moved on . . .


As did the other remaining rumble entrants, SA watched almost slack-jawed as Pride and Engar continued their stilted battle.

His body's shock at being hit by its own energy had faded awhile ago, and the variety of small aches and pains he'd suffered had disappeared with it, stored away, lost in the same peace that Engar had once felt; replacing his pain was an awe and respect for the two powerful warriors having it out before him.
They moved through the air like raw energy, twisting, extending, evading, and retreating. Each trying to out manuever the other, to gradually wear away at the other's outer defenses and resolve until there was nothing left but the beaten husk of what had once been a man.

The lightning almost made the fight seem like a comic book progression, punctuating the key moments in the battle between man and whatever Pride could be classified as. Starting from the beginning when they were both evenly matched, to the middle, where Engar's reaction time seemed to become slow. And then finally to what it was now: an almost entirely one-sided boxing match.

Engar is slowing down? The thought seemed to come to SA from afar, as if their was an incredible distance separating his consciousness and his mind, and something about this seemed incredibly off . . . but after only a few moments he felt the feeling fade, soothed away by his logic.

"It's only natural, he's getting tired," the young warrior murmured to himself.

And yet . . .

There were many times SA felt the faint urge to rise, to head back into the fight, but everytime he would almost set himself to act upon it, he would shake his head and give himself reasons not to.
"It wouldn't be a fair fight . . . I don't know who I should help . . . should I attack both of them . . . maybe I should just let them have it out . . . it would be dishonorable to interrupt them . . .



Before he could change his own mind, Gohan decided to at least stand up, just in case . . .
He was dully surprised to find that his muscles barely responded to his minds instruction.

And slowly, awareness of what was happening dawned upon him . . .


Pride wasn't consciously aware of what was going on, he didn't observe the subtle changes taking place in Engar's expression, and he didn't know why none of the other entrants had jumped into battle against him, or resumed their own skirmishes. And he didn't care.

As far as the universe was concerned, it was an eight foot bubble that consisted of himself, and Engar.
Engar the Modiwan. Engar the murderer. Engar the defeated.

His fist struck a pair of finishing blows, slamming full force into Engar's chin and standing him up on tiptoes, then that same fist retreated and flew straight forward again to slam into the Modiwan's stomach. Blood and spittle flew from his mouth as he sailed backwards, then skidded to a stop in the dust of the arena floor.

Pride's opponent coughed weakly, then rolled over onto his side, one arm cradling heavily bruised ribs, the other arm just barely able to prop him a few inches off the ground as he spat out another mouthful of blood.

The bell tolled. Retribution was at hand.


Something was wrong, and had been since he'd started fighting, Engar realized.
From that dreamlike state he'd been induced into, to his body's unrelenting determination to keep fighting even as it slowed down and took increasing amounts of damage.

He supposed he'd known for quite awhile now, but the alarm and action that should have followed such a realization had been surpressed and soothed away by the silky whispers from the darkness.

It doesn't matter, I can take it . . . I'll just bait him, make him think he has me, then . . . a Modiwan's life is pain, this is no different . . .

He realized now that those insinuations had not been the spawning of his own mind . . . for all the good that did him now.
Whatever it was that had been responsible had violently snatched away the veil that shrouded his mind; shocking his consciousness for a moment, both as it realized that it was now back in control of thing, and that now the pain of the body was flooding in, no longer partially filtered by that dreamy lathargy.

And that shock had been all the time Pride had needed to completely tear down the last of his defenses.

Now here he was on the ground, struggling to rise to his feet against the demands of his own tortured body. Desperation fighting to take control of him, he looked up, glancing at the other entrants in turn, his need for self-preservation struggling against his own pride, as he quickly weighed the possibility of calling for help from someone, anyone.
Then reality slapped him in the face with a cold hand. He had made no friends in this fight, so confident in his own abilities and the presence of his master that he didn't believe he'd need such attachments. No one would help him even if he asked. Even if he begged.

He glanced over at the judge's stand, and realized that they too seemed to be afflicted by whatever had ensnared him minutes before. Even the great Cucatoth just sat there, eyes squinting and shifting from left to right, as if he was trying to see through something . . .

Suddenly, Engar's immediate area took on a bluish tint. Pride was charging his final blow, and even using the Force to heal his injuries as fast as he could, Engar would not recover in time.


Shadow Petals of the Dream. A genjutsu, one of his chakra skills. All at once, SA recognized the stupor he'd been placed in as being caused by his own technique; how someone had cast, and indeed how someone was even aware of its existence was beyond him, and not something he was terribly concerned about at the moment.

Lying just meters away, Engar was facing what was likely to be a certain death at the hands of Pride.

From the begining, SA had actively disliked Engar. It had been in part due to the unjust power he'd wielded as a Modiwan, but more importantly, it had been because of his relation to Cucumba. He'd never been one to abide servants of evil, and that Engar was a Modiwan, one who had a duty to uphold the law and justice of Forumscant, and yet served the him had made his dislike all the more intense.

In the past, he'd weeded through the scum that allied themselves with darkness, never knowing any of them long enough to get a feel for their character, to understand their reasons. It had never been necessary, and quite frankly, he hadn't cared to. But Engar was far stronger than any warrior he'd been faced with before, and he'd been able to observe the warrior in combat for the past hours both as an onlooker and an opponent. And he'd come to the conclusion there was more to the man than he'd thought possible.

He had a warrior's honor at times, and a dedication to both his cause and his master that was noteworthy . . . and indeed he seemed to perceive his cause and that of his master to be good. But there was also his anger, and the twisting and slight corruption of the Force in his wake.

Was he more good than evil, simply deluded by his master into false beliefs? Or was he more evil than good, a man slowly, but inexorably falling into darkness?

Begrudgingly, SA admitted to himself that he didn't know, that perhaps Engar himself had not yet decided his own moral alignment and was more influenced by Cucumba's expectations now more than anything.
That in turn opened up the possibility that people might not fall into such stark and relative categories as good and evil.

What was certain now however, was the Engar was about to be killed. He who was a comrade, a fellow warrior. He who, despite their radically different perspectives and beliefs, could become if not a friend, then someone he could respect and rely on.

And anyway, the decision was moot at this point. Gohan had decided from the beggining that Engar's fate would be decided by him and no one else. Forestalling his death could almost be called a matter of pride.

Dispelling the genjutsu for himself was a simple matter; since he had knowledge of what was happening to him, it was almost easy to tap into his chakra and flood his system with it. The opposing energy swirling around his mind and senses were shattered by his own, breaking what was left of the genjutsu and freeing his body of its influenced.

He went through a series of hand seals that would free everyone else of its area effect influence, then blasted forward with all the speed available to him just as Pride unleashed his blast.

SA was gathering energy on route, his body flickering into position a little off to the side of the beams predicted path. He didn't even try to counter the mighty blast head on, knowing full well such an action would likely be suicidal; instead he shot off his own beam into the side of Pride's attack. The collision of opposing force's, even at this ninety degree angle, was enough to stagger youngest fight club entrant, and only through force of will was he able to keep from falling back completely and failing his objective.

"Ahhhhhhh!" Just at the edge of his hearing, SA heard a shrill screaming, tiny and powerless in the background, and filled with pain, and yet familiar . . .
He flicked a half second glance to his side and saw something just in the periphery of his vision writhing . . . it was like smoke, shifting from moment to moment. A figure?A shadow?

A spirit?

That's it!

Abruptly the energy died, as Pride realized that he wasn't going to be able to overpower SA, and Gohan cut out his own beam as well, carrying with it the last vestiges of the Phenom's attack. Both energies had sailed off in the direction of one of the crumbled walls, then into open air, and then space, rendered harmless.

Winded and sweating from the effort, SA nevertheless stepped in front of Engar, who had finally forced himself into a sitting position and was struggling to stand.

"Move." Pride's voice, empty of everything but a cold dispassion, and yet still able to carry across the threat behind that single word.

"If you want me to move, you're going to have to make me," SA declared impudently.

The edge of the Phenom's mouth curled up in disgust. "You are a joke, a weakling and parasite who cannot survive on its own and so must ally himself with those of actual strength, even if it means betraying one who helped you but a moment before. You are less than nothing before me in my arena and if you will not stand aside then I will grind your bones to mix with the dust at our feet."

SA blinked once, stung by the words for reasons he could readily describe, but he shook his head again, his voice shamefully quavering as he spoke. "Maybe you will, maybe not." But that might be harder if you don't have your spirit's interfering in our battle like they did in you and Engar's.

Falling into a stance, SA ignited his aura around him, pulling in his ki to refresh and augment his muscles, then pushing it out through his skin in a wave that blew back the dust around his feet, and sent a shiver through the ground.
The wavelength of his energy rose higher and higher, making a gradual but quick shift from blue to white as he focused harder, and his body began to take on a bright glow.

Within moments he was the brightest point of light for miles around, and his luminance sent the shadows retreating into the farthest corners of the tournament building. He was pleased to hear that scream at the edge of his hearing again, except it was even shriller, and more desperate.

And he wasn't done.

The boy warrior cupped his hands at his side, pooling energy into them as fast as he could. Light struggled to escape from the space between his fingers, and the white energy roiling in his palm continued to gather until it was the size of a volleyball. He levelled his gaze at Pride, who seemed ready to either dodge and counter, or simply knockaway his attack, then smirked, targeted open sky, and fired.

For miles around, his energy was like a beacon guiding the eye towards the heavens and for a moment, turning night into day. The dark clouds that had gathered above the arena split to allow its passage, then dissapated themselves, burned away by SA's energy. But more important was the effect it had on the spirits. All their voices had risen in one low level scream, then cut out as the light became far too bright for them to withstand.

Gohan's smirk turned into a full smile. It wasn't likely they'd be able to pull something like they had a few minutes ago in the near future.
Somehow the spirit's had the ability to tap into the minds of the warriors, and they'd chosen to use something from Gohan's mind that they knew would help Pride defeat Engar. The why was obvious, but the how was something that left SA wondering as to the true extent of their abilities. If they'd wanted, could they have used a Genjutsu to fool him into doing their bidding for a time?

He shrugged as he let his energy output taper off, and redirected his attention to Pride. It didn't matter now, and it didn't seem like the Phenom had been aware of what had been going on, otherwise he'd have done something to stop Gohan.

"Fool," Pride spat, then lunged forward.


The darkness wasn't as oppresive anymore. The stars twinkled brightly overhead, an endless smattering of them gracing the clear night sky. 45 degree's from the horizon sat the moon, it too lending its luminance to those who were so far below it.

The blue-tinged light glinted off Pride's almost entirely metal frame, catching the highlights and casting a cascade of tiny, glittering lights upon the ground on which he walked. The effect was reminiscent of that of a disco ball.

By itself the effect would have been mesmerizing to the eye; but coupled with the raw danger Pride represented it was anything but.

At his full fighting strength, Gohan wasn't having a problem keeping up with Pride's speed. He flitted between the Phenom's pile driver like blows, avoiding attack's that would have otherwise caused him serious injury, and struck back like lightning in millisecond space of time it took his opponent to ready another attack.

SA sidestepped a fist half the size of his torso, and immediately loosed a round house kick to Pride's unguarded ribs, before having to duck under another blow. He punched up into Pride's stomach twice, rolled away, and began tossing energy golf ball size energy balls at the Phenom. Annoyed if anything, Pride ignored the attack and instead made straight for the younger warrior.

Grimacing, SA chose to face the assault, and igniting his aura met the Phenom's assault with one of his own. The ferocity of his attack almost seemed to catch Pride off guard, but he adapted quickly enough, and began matching Gohan's speed with his own.

Opposing fists and knee's collided, sending out shockwaves of energy that trembled the floor, and attacks were countered almost immediately by each side. Even though no damage was being incurred, it was obvious SA was becoming fatigued a lot faster than Pride was. Fighting at full output just to match Pride's strength was quickly starting to take its toll.

Gohan winced as he realized this, and doubt began to seep into his thoughts. Maybe he's right, maybe I am the weakest guy here.

Abruptly one of Pride's attacks got through, his fist clipping him in the side of the face and sending the boy tumbling backwards.
That entire side of his head felt like it was on fire, but SA ignored the pain and let the momentum of the blow carry him around. As he came full circle he let loose a quickly gathered blast of energy, which was easily deflected by Pride as he came after him.

Another fist got through, and then another, the first clipping his arm and numbing it for a moment, the second striking to the side and just below his ribs.

Realizing his defenses were starting to fail, Gohan redoubled his efforts, his aura shining brighter than ever as he lunged forward, with unpredictable suddenness.

Performing an almost reverse mirror of the move Pride had done on Engar earlier, SA focused all his strength into a single punch. His fist slammed hard into the metal, this time with enough force to do damage. A low boom resonated from the point of impact, and Gohan felt the metal dent slightly around his strike.
He didn't wait to see how Pride would respond, he simply hopped back a half stepped, then leapt upward, the same fist he'd used a moment before slamming into the Phenom's jaw.

The momentum behind the attack carried Pride upwards, and before he could recover SA cupped his hands before him and gathered all his stored energy into a single point between them, then released it as a ball of devastating light.
The explosion it caused was titanic, and at the relatively close range it served to knock Gohan from his feet, and interrupted the now resumed fighting between Brim and Hwoarang.

From the smoke and flames of the explosion Pride's body sailed, trailing a tail toward's the ground.

SA's hopes that the Phenom might have been temporarily dealt with however were dashed when he somersaulted right before he would have collided with the ground and landed in a skid. He didn't seem injured.
He directed one malevolence filled gaze at SA, then blasted forward -

Only to be brought short by the appearance of Engar's rogue saber slashing into his path.

Looking somewhat recovered from the beating he'd sustained, the Modiwan attacked the Phenom with a renewed strength and focus, his saber a crimson blur as he slashed at his foe.

For better or worse, SA thought, then joined the two warriors.

Engar's saber cut a deadly pattern through the air, alway's coming within a hair's breadth of cutting into Pride's body. If his foe had been any slower, or less familiar with Engar's saber forms, the sword of energy would have long since carved him into strips. But the Phenom was far too good to fall prey to the saber.

Even when he was being double teamed.

Engar interchanged between slashing, kicking, and blocking, playing an invisible shoving match with Pride. He'd attack and push him back with his Rogue Saber, only to have to retreat a moment later to dodge a physical attack or potent ball of energy.
Gohan for his part was playing a distractionary role. Weakened for the moment from his previous exertions, he shunted the bulk of his remaining energy into speed, and flitted between the blows the Phenom directed his way. He wouldn't be able to strike back with much strength, but as long as he was here, he couldn't focus his full attention on Engar, and more importantly, his Rogue saber.

Pride realized his dilemma as well. And a predatory grin split his face as he came upon the solution a moment later.

The Phenom directed an elbow backwards, backing Gohan off for a moment, then twisted his body to the side as Engar came in for a strike with his blade. He didn't try to dodge the blow, or block it. Before it could touch him, he closed his hand around the saber's energy shaft. Or more appropriately, his energy enfolded the saber like a thick glove.

The Modiwan's eyes lit up with surprise at the unexpected tactic, and before he could react, Pride twisted and pulled backwards on the saber, just as SA teleport forward for yet another strike against Pride. A weak flicker of warning through the Force was all he got, and then the boy felt something burn into the center of his chest.

The ronin looked down to discover himself impaled upon the crimson beam of the Rogue Saber. He blinked once, twice, confused. Then severity of what had happened occured to him.

Grinning now, Pride leapt away.

Horrified beyond words, Engar hastily closed down the saber, but such an action was far too late to have any effect on what had happened.

With surprising swiftness darkness began to swallow Gohan's vision. He didn't have a chance to fight it, didn't have a chance to do anything but register his surprise at what had happened, then he tumbled forward, and Pride, Engar, the Fight Club, and the rest of the universe ceased to have any significance for him.
Live free or die by the sword
Retired Forum Staff
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💻 Oldtimer
Dec 1, 2001
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Cucumba sat relaxed at his table, on arm rested on his armrest, fist up-turned, and abscent-mindedly toying with his almost limitless energy. His other hand held a goblet, filled with his spirit of choice, barely tasted since it was poured. His idle hands were engaged in play, but his mind and attention were on the powers arrayed before him.

Yes, this was working out exactly as planned. Even the libram he had sent Kelesk to retreive was consumed in a manner that mean it would no longer trouble him. Yes, Pride had returned, but that had not been so much a surprise as it had been an inconvenience. Pride and the riders were full of those, and he supposed one last unseen one would not cause him too much harm. Still, the books other, more nefarious powers were now out of the hands of the deranged cyborg.

Cucumba looked at Hibiki, his shattered and smoking DS scattered across his beaten body, and at Optimus, felled by arena debris blown about during the massive struggle. Deverz still sat at the table, nearly as unfased as the Jade Behemoth, but clearly concerned over the escalation of power.

The ancient horror then turned his attentions to Gohan, so recently felled by his pupil's rogue saber. He doubted that would be the end of Gohan, but he could dream.

Everything is, after all, a dream hiding from the nightmares at the end of time.

Brim and Synth were continuing their battle despite the recent developments, and he could see that Brim's fight was at it's end. There would be precious little time left for him.

The Doom of Sarnath raised his goblet to Pride.

"Enjoy your arena while you can, Ominos Eidelos," boasted Cucumba. "When I reclaim it, your certanties will be revealed as nothing more than wishful thinking."


Wow, what a freaking round to read up on and judge. To be perfectly honest, I had to resort to nit-picking to decide the winner and loser of this round.

First off, the winners of this round by nit-pick were Pride and Gohan, both putting for herculean effort concerning their grammar and pacing.

The loser of this round, and only by a margin of two points is Engar, who receives his first loss token.

It's critical to understand that the difference between the winners and loser was a mere two points, and that should illustrate the difficulties involved for next round.

The posting order for the final round, which will have only ONE winner, and thus be crowned FC Champion, will be (as always, determined at random):

1) Pride
2) Synth
3) Gohan
4) Engar

Brim is eliminated at the start of this round, so you may dispose of or use him as you please, except that he must be killed or grossly incapacitated by the end of the round.

As a further stipulation, do not use Cucumba in your rounds to physically harm contestants or aid them in any capacity.

The winner of this round will receive the right to finish the rumble as he sees fit, eliminating the other three in any fasion he feels appropriate.

Have at you gentlemen, the final leg begins . . .

New Member
💻 Oldtimer
Dec 3, 2002
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On any given night, the fight club arena’s place atop the mountainous plateaus at the fringe edge of Offtopic would be still, quiet. On any given night, the starry sky would be clear black and the glimmer of the stars would be enough to light the small Forumscant suburb at the base of the mountains. On any given night, the air would be silent save for the sounds of the wild, the arena a nigh-holy structure revered in the whispers of those mortals below. The wind would be still; the air would be trepidous; the arena would be a stone testament to Cucumba’s greatness, as all constructs of the Administration were.

But not tonight.

The arena itself had long since been reduced to scattered rubble; only its near-indestructible ring platform and floor remaining. Sitting precariously on the edge of a prominent mountainside plateau, the remnants of the arena were now unrecognizable from its former majesty. Energy blasts of all types and colors littered the sky as the furious melee finally began to come to a head; each fighter’s attacks had become more desperate, more reckless, each taste of victory only increasing their adrenaline. Seeing Gohan so incapacitated had slammed the truth home for all of them; time was running out, and the battle was coming to its close.

When Gohan had gone down, the game had changed. While the young boy had laid upon the cold stone floor, his wounds ragged, the thoughts that came to him were both curious and terrified. Like every mortal man, he had wondered what awaited him on the other side. Now the certainty of his fate--to exist as a tormented accoutrement to this horrifying abomination's spiritual entourage--made him wish he had never asked such questions of himself.

His work against the Last Rider's supporting spirits had allowed the other fighters a brief respite from Pride's brutal energy blasts, but the ban on his source of power was quickly dissipating after Gohan's vicious wound, and his physical strength was still nothing to be toyed with regardless. His body was not of cells and flesh, but was rather concentrated death essence, bound by the death of the original Pride and his reunion with his six Rider brethren. Each cell of his body was made of the last moment of a human life, the last blink of a mortal eye, the last word of an ending story.

Unknown to his foes, this was why the Phenom often sat up after even the most immense attacks, seemingly unfazed. His body was made of torment, sorrow, and guilt; his nerve endings were the death cries of infants; his organs pumped blood that was born of cremated ashes; his eyes, a glaze of white-hot fury and green-gray regrets.

Surely no physical pain could matter to such a being.

This magnificent supernatural construct--the product of eons of groundwork by the vengeful Reaper himself--was also marvelously adaptable, and terribly resilient. The cold, unnatural flesh was difficult to damage, even for the talents of the remaining fighters. Synth's augmented strength and Engar's force-powered strikes did little to stave the onslaught.

Each fighter felt the cold terror that the Last Rider's visage radiated, but they each forced themselves through it to continue the swirling flash-melee in their own ways: Synth, with his martial discipline; Brim, with his insensible indifference; and Engar with his blind rage.

The Last Rider stood in the center of the melee, under a constant stream of assault from the other rumble competitors. The lesser fighters had pooled their resources against the Dark Intruder after he had exponentially increased his aggression following the fall of SA. All of them were sensing the end coming, and the greatest threat had to be dealt with once and for all, of that there was no question.

The swirling battle did not have any ebb or flow to it; it was simply an endless brutal assault, requiring every ounce of the fighters’ powers. The conflict had dictated the adversaries now, and at this late stage in the battle no punches could be pulled.

Though Synth knew this well, his own nobility tugged at his soul as he aided Engar in battling the Last Rider. The Tae Kwon Do Prodigy’s friend and ally Pride had been absorbed, wrapped somewhere within the myriad amalgam of death and fury, He was further perturbed at the fact that he had aligned himself with Engar, who previously he would not have dared to aid. But it had quickly become apparent that the mighty Dark Phenom would obliterate anyone and anything in his path at this point; his power was slowly increasing and his fervor was coming to a head.

The true battle of the Rumble was to be between Pride and Engar, in Synth’s eyes. As he deftly dodged back and forth, avoiding each of the Rider’s hammering blows, it was all too clear that the Phenom would not hesitate to utterly destroy those locked in battle with him now, no matter what. The friendly competition had grown to a bloodsport frenzy, each hammering blow from the Reaper meant only to cripple and destroy those before him. Synth, sensing the Rider’s destructive strength growing with each attack, wisely fought with resigned caution.

He couldn’t help but have to shut out the thought that maybe he just couldn’t bring himself to fight his former ally full force. His discipline kept his head in the game, even if the Rider was looking to tear it off his shoulders.

Engar and Synth had been alternating back and forth, with Brim taking the occasional potshot (most of which were easily resisted by the Phenom). As swift as a wind, as fluid as water, Synth used his Tae Kwon Do to avoid the majority of the Reaper's hard-hitting shots. He got in his own jabs where he could but the flash-fighting martial arts machine forced himself to favor quick, light hits over forceful impact. Though his own cybernetic origins afforded him a large reserve of strength and stamina, as a martial artist Synth was also aware of pacing and how key it could be to any battle. One thing had troubled him, though--the Last Rider, previously somewhat graceless and lumbering by comparison, was becoming more and more fluid in his movements. He began to dodge impact shots instead of simply standing and resisting them; on several occasions he even shocked Synth with reversals of some of his offensive strikes, throwing the Prodigy off guard. Pride was not a martial artist; in fact he was little more than a street fighter without his enormous power. Where was he suddenly learning the techniques counter to Synth's own martial prowess?

The mortal combatants struck in their own methods; Synth used his speed and dexterity to wear down the Last Rider and keep him off balance; Brim would attack with whatever tools he could find at hand and try to inflict damage with a barrage of debris-spawned makeshift weaponry.

Quickly, Synth dodged a heavy kick from the undying Rider and backed away, giving Engar the room to charge in. His aura flailing wildly as Synth's own red and blue torrents died away, he hovered backward to the edge of the fight club platform's floor, where Brim stood watching.

Engar had charged at the Rider full-force, infuriated with his inability to end the opponent who had plagued him for so long. The Rider grunted and spat as he dodged attack after attack, Engar's phantom limb leaving a glowing streak along the path of his every striking motion. The battle raged at speeds mortal eyes would not see as Engar flew wildly into the fray, swinging his Rogue Saber in crazed swipes. He deftly dodged each swipe with the ease and flexibility of a martial arts mastermind. Each swipe of Engar's blade, eacdh thrust of his fists or feet, was accompanied by a throat-grinding scream of aggression. The young modiwan had come into his own but his frustrations had finally begun to shine through. The Last Rider's power was surely growing; he now could block the saber's blades with his bare hands indefinitely.

Engar had stepped up his fighting without a doubt. Synth and Brim looked on in awe to see his furious pace. Considering injuries and fatigue Engar should not have even been able to stand. His power over the omnipotent force--something which Synth had never attempted to learn himself--was surely the source of his energy.

"How the hell is he still moving?!" Brim spat as he doubled over, rasping for air.

"He isn't," Synth said, his own weary breath tapering off. "Watch. He isn't moving at all. He's moving his body with his mind, using the force. Like a puppet."

Brim was still shocked as he watched. "If you say so, I guess."

"It's a good technique," Synth commented as he caught his own breath. "It must be difficult to keep up, but I'd wager he's physically stronger by doing that. Faster too."

"No ****! Look at him go!!"

Engar's rogue saber looked as though it were a series of rapidly vanishing swaths of light, his swipes so quick even Synth's powerful eyes could barely follow the motions. Unfortunately, despite Engar's latest surge, the Last Rider was miraculously keeping pace.

"Hey…what's that glow?"

Synth looked carefully. "What glow?"

"That glow, on the big dude," Brim said. "He's got some type of glow. See it?"

Dimly, Synth could make out a faded shade of violet around the Last Rider's frame. It was hard to see for Synth--since the Rider was now adeptly reacting to Engar's enhanced assault with ease and quickness--but it was definitely there.

The two fighters took to the sky as Synth bolted forward. Whatever the aura meant, it could not be good for Engar, who had been receiving his fair share of blows in the battle at hand. Synth knew it was time to relieve his makeshift ally and that he had little time to do so.

The Last Rider dodged a blast from his nemesis Engar as the two floated high in the sky, but was caught from behind with a brutal flying kick from Synth. The Last Rider’s armored body soared downward to the arena floor, but at the last moment he righted himself and landed in a kneeling position. Quickly firing upward, he soared toward Synth and Engar, who together released a furious series of energy blasts at the juggernaut.

It was only then that Synth saw the Phenom's aura for what it truly was.

The Phenom had a trail of howling souls behind him, a violet ghost mirroring his movements and image in a litany of fury. These were the souls of many warriors from throughout the ages, summoned forth by their shepherd to aid him in defeating these opponents once and for all. Though he soared upward, they screamed in distant voices and charged forward, an army of the most potent warriors ever to walk the material realm.

With the concentrated power increase of each of these souls with him, the Last Rider had become a furious beast -- more so then ever before. The furious barrage of energy blasts were met head on by the Phenom, each exploding against his uncovered face and chest as he blasted upward.

Engar’s teeth gnashed as he summoned the force to his aid, increasing the potency and frequency of his attacks; Synth followed suit, letting the energy pulse through his body and mind. A storm of golden bursts showered the Last Rider but still he soldiered on through the barrage, putting his arms in a cross over his face. This blink of an eye was an eternity to the fighters involved; Engar’s teeth clenched hard at the sight of the Rider’s reaction.

Intensifying their assault further after the Rider’s gesture of vulnerability, the golden array of blasts finally came to a halt as the Phenom burst forth from the clustering energy attacks, uncrossing his arms and reaching for the throats of the two shocked fighters.

In an instant the Rider had thrust his open hands into the adams apple on each of his assailants, sending them reeling and gasping for breath. His violet silhouette of warrior souls raged in triumph before he was impacted from his blindside once more, this time by a leaping knee thrust from Brim.

"I don’t care how glowy you get, freak!!" Brim shouted as he landed. The Dark Phenom’s jaw had been rocked by Brim’s kneecap, his already bloodied face tarnished by a fresh streak of black deathblood. The sight excited Brim, who had landed on top of a pile of rubble that had once been a majestic pillar. Hoisting a piece of stone, he hurled it like an Olympic medicine ball, upward into the sky and toward the hovering Reaper.

In a demonstration of his raw, unmitigated power, the Last Rider used his own face and shattered the large stone mass with a sharp headbutt.

Brim’s expression of triumph had gone, but his determination remained. Moving swiftly he ran along the debris piles, hopping from mound to mound, flinging whatever errata he could find towards the powered-up Phenom.

In another demonstration of his immense, growing strength, the Rider did not destroy these objects, instead dodging them in quick vanishing shocks of smoke. Each piece of debris flew harmlessly through his smoky afterimage, no matter how fast Brim could throw any of the large objects.

Furious, Brim threw one last large stone and then leapt upward at the hovering Rider, screaming his adrenal fury.

The Last Rider’s superior reflexes proved to be too much for this clever attack attempt, however, and Brim ended up with the iron grip of the Reaper around his neck. For all his endurance, Brim was helplessly captive in the grip of the Last Rider, who was vastly superior in strength even before powering up.

"A valiant effort," commented the Reaper. His voice was echoed in a teeth-clenched chorus by the hundreds of fighters within his aura.

Brim could only struggle in response.

"You have been a thorn in my side for the last time. Now I will be the nail in your coffin."

His warrior silhouette flared, and in the Phenom’s dark violet aura Brim could see the faces of thousands upon thousands of warrior spirits, lending their strength and fury to the Rider.

A monstrous headbutt shattered most of the bones in Brim’s face, sending blood soaring out of every orifice of his head. The vertebrae in the grip of the Rider was crushed, instantly paralyzing the fighter from the neck down. His teeth were cracked; his nose bent awry; his skull splintered at the forehead. Blood poured from the remnants of his face.

With a thrust, the Last Rider flung the limp body of Brim to the floor below. His agony echoed through the Rider, the pain of his injuries severe enough that his immortal soul cried out in pain even though his body could not. As the Keeper of all human souls, the Rider felt this agonized cry, and could not help but feel an accompanying pity. His empathy towards the agony of the human soul was always his greatest emotional attachment; for a being such as he, there was literally nothing else.

This was a sensation that the Last Rider had felt every moment of his long existence. Almost constant was the agony of the dying, their cries an endless cacophony--Brim’s voice was only one more in their distant chorus of suffering. The only thing that ended these voices’ torment was the release of death.

The Last Rider landed a ways off from Brim’s broken body. "Welcome to my world," he muttered, raising a hand and firing a screaming skull beam of immense power.

From the ground, onlookers in Offtopic could see the blasts. So intense was the furious torrent of violet light, that it could be seen from the city below. Awed onlookers stepped out of their threads and stared up in wonder at the epic battle coming to its conclusion on the plateau high above.

When the blast ended, nothing but smoldering stone remained where Brim once had been. His silence was now eternal, for those destroyed by the Reaper’s hand in the physical world also had their souls obliterated as well.

A searing blast slammed into the triumphant Rider almost as soon as he had begun to catch his breath. He turned to see none other than Synth—the pseudo-mechanical martial artist who had been the Rumble’s first entrant. His aura was flaring, red and blue streaks of wispy air shocking around him in a furious arc.

"What have you become, Pride?!" he intoned. "He was beaten!"

The Last Rider did not answer.

The two men had become brothers at arms during the course of battle, but Pride’s human side had long subsided over the course of his multiple alterations throughout the rumble. The man who stood now before Synth was more Reaper than anything else; his purpose, his allegiances, his spirit had all been obliterated which the essence of Pride. This new being was mostly the will of the Reaper made manifest; coupled with the spirits of the seven Fallen Angels who were once the Riders, the Reaper had used Pride’s unnatural existence to escape the plain of death and become physically manifest. He had used the disembodied cells of Pride to make his body, filling its veins with liquid death and its synapses with impossible truths.

Of Synth’s ally, nearly nothing remained.

"He’s…gone, isn’t he?" Synth’s aura flared down. "Pride, I mean. You’re not him."

"I am…something else." The Phenom paused. "I am the Last Rider. His spirit is a part of mine."

"You are a monster," Synth said, with remorse in his voice.

"Yes," the Phenom responded.

"We must work together," a voice spoke in Synth’s head. The voice belonged to Engar. "Fight him! Together we can destroy him, I know it!"

"Why are you doing this, Pride...?" Synth implored.

The Last Rider pointed to the distant Jade Behemoth Cucumba, hovering in the sky a ways off from the battle, watching intently. "He must be obliterated."


The Dark Phenom paused for a moment. "He is an abomination; a remnant from before creation, before God.

"The Creator is an errant god, and he punishes the souls of the men he made with an eternity in darkness, with only I as their companion. Their torment is endless and unfathomable to mortal and immortal alike."

"What does Cucumba have to do with the dead?" Synth pleaded.

"The Creator fears he and his kind. The Great Old Ones, Those Who Always Were, The Unborn Everlasting, The Timeless Ones. In his fear, he has made a foolish offer; to the ones who destroy this abomination of his Creation, he has decreed a path to the Highest Light. His word is infallible and so he cannot undo this decree."

Synth puzzled for a moment. " intend to destroy Cucumba, so that you can go to Heaven?"

Slowly, the Last Rider looked to the sky. "...Home."

His unerring gaze returned to Synth's eyes, piercing them. "It is the only way."

Raising his hands to the sky, the Phenom's eyes rolled far back into his head, and the sky darkened once more, the clouds billowing at his command. Inside his warrior soul aura, the mass of fighters raised their hands to the sky, echoing their master's gesture.

"Together the souls of Man shall come with me. And I, the abomination, will enter unto his kingdom. And then, together, Man and the Curse of Death placed upon him will strike down the False One."

The warriors inside his aura chanted, thousands of distant voices. The words, barely distinct, were "Ominos Eidelos."

At long last, the Rider's eyes returned to their forward-facing state. His gaze pierced Synth. All around them the glowing spirits of the dead began to be able to finally reappear. The Last Rider only looked at his opponent; his gaze indifferently imploring him to step aside or be destroyed.

Synth had never been a religious man. He believed in the spiritual peace a mastery of the physical could bring. Never had he enterained these affairs of deities and beings beyond the scope of physical reality.

So much to consider....

Could it be that the Dark Intruder was, in fact, a Dark Messiah?

Closing his eyes, Synth breathed inward. "I can’t let you win. You know that."

"You have fought valiantly. I expected no less."

Both men paused before Synth finally broke the silence. Breaking into a fevered run, the Tae Kwon Do Prodigy bolted towards the larger armored opponent. His aura burst forth, streaks of red and blue burning wildly around him as the two collided.

A barrage of fists and feet battered the Rider, his motorcycle-born armour denting and bending under the impact. With the power of his warrior soul aura, the Dark Phenom was able to keep up with the insanely quick Tae Kwon Do prodigy. Synth lashed out with a back elbow that the Rider sidestepped, only to be swept. Going hand over hand, the Rider flipped backward and landed on his feet, but Synth was already charging again, laying a flying knee into the Phenom’s face. Black blood leaking from his mouth and his left eye, the Rider was staggered; Synth took advantage, firing punishing blow after punishing blow in a high-speed flurry of flash attacks. Though the Rider was not wavering much, he was staggering, and the damage being done was undeniable.

Synth cried out with each blow he landed, while the Rider remained maddeningly silent despite the assault. Each blow landed with stone-crushing force, many drawing blood or the satisfying crunch of splintering armor and bone; yet still the Rider remained stalwart.

Synth finished off a long string of combos with a leaping sweep kick to the Phenom’s head. The impact would have shattered the armor of a tank; against the Last Rider, the target reeled and staggered back a step.

Frustrated, Synth knew that it was time; out of the corner of his eye, he saw Engar preparing his energies for a massive crushing attack. He stood on the edge of Synth's peripheral vision, hovering just off the base of the arena floor. The strength he was gathering would soon be astronomical--the largest show of force that Forumscant had ever seen was certain to be the only result.

Synth knew he had to step it up, that he had to weaken the Rider in order to maximize the coming assault’s force. He knew the Last Rider’s capabilities as well as anyone -- even the most devastating attack could be avoided or withstood if the Phenom was allowed to gather his defenses.

Unfortunately, his plan was met with a snag when his opponent kicked him square in the face during one of his lunges.

The Last Rider’s steel-laced boot stomped downward, dragging the Tae Kwon Do Prodigy’s body to the ground neck first. His head crunched against the stone floor with a metallic crunch, his aura instantly dissipating. His pain was intense, but still his determination shined through, and he quickly shunted the foot off of his face before his skull was crushed.

Scissor-kicking his way back to his feet, Synth quickly distanced himself with a quick backflip before landing a strong kick to the Phenom’s chest. He followed up with a powerful roundhouse and another knee lift but the Dark Intruder quickly righted himself this time. Gnashing his teeth in silent fury, the Rider’s own aura flared, not a color but rather a window to hundreds of angry warrior souls vying for blood.

A solid punch to the chest sent Synth flying backward, but he quickly recovered and rushed forward once more. The burst of flash-fighting that ensued was a shock to the Prodigy, for the Last Rider’s sudden aptitude for high speed combat was something he had been unprepared for. His every punch was blocked; his every quick strike was countered; his every combination broken. A lunging knee met only a smoky afterimage as the Rider threw a haymaker into the face of his former friend, again drawing a satisfying sound of rending machinework.

The immense energies being built up by Engar had come to a head at long last; Synth could feel it pulsing and raging. The nature of the attack that had been prepared was not prithee to finesse or control; it was a raw collection of unbridled energy, and it fumed and burned with golden fury in the hands of its creator.

It was time for Synth to draw his trump card. Wiping blood from his mouth, the Prodigy powered up his own energy to a scale previously unmatched. He knew that this attack needed to be all or nothing.

The world slowed to a crawl as the wounded fighter knelt down. The Rider only now noticed the searing light on either side of him where his enemies had prepared their furious energies. Stunned, he turned to Synth, whose aura was powering up so violently that the very foundation of the arena began to shake.

He drew back his hand.


Synth broke into a run--


--he thrust forward, with all of his considerable might.


The raging fury of his energy poured directly into his physical attack, the light and shockwave searing. The Dark Phenom would surely be wounded from such an attack—not destroyed, no, but wounded without a doubt.

The light was so blinding that most of onlookers had to shield their eyes. Even Cucumba, who looked on from a vantage point hovering over the battle, squinted slightly at the potent white.

The light gradually faded from the eyes of all the onlookers after a long few moments. Seconds stretched to minutes and then tens of minutes in the tense air. There remained a burning sun of golden light in Engar's arms at the side of the arena remnants, but otherwise, the night sky had returned to its prior darkened state.

In front of the white column of light stood a visibly tired Synth, His face was awestruck as the last of the light of his attack faded. On one knee, seared and bloodied, the Last Rider knelt in silence. Smoke drifted from his body like a burning building; the metallic armor that he had worn on his chest was shattered and mangled from the explosive impact, and his black clothing burned away across his torso. He now wore only the tattered remnants of his top, showing the pale tattooed flesh beneath. Burn marks and black blood adorned every inch of his exposed flesh. Black, viscous fluid poured from his mouth; one of his eyes had its white completely blackened from his blood. His hair hung over his face, and it seemed as if the very thought of moving would be a struggle for him.

Nevertheless, he was still only on one knee.

"DO IT NOW!!" shouted Synth with a desperate gasp.

The Phenom looked up to see Engar touch down on the very edge of the arena platform, his phantom limb the base of his energy hold. Engar’s attack alone would be certain to be devastating.

"We have all fought so hard…only to be ruined by you, Abomination!!"

The Last Rider only breathed out heavily in response.

"The time is now! Tonight the Reaper is no more!"

At this, the Last Rider shocked everyone by rising, albeit uncertainly, to his feet. His bloodied gaze met Engar’s bruised features.

Engar unleashed his attack from the side of the wounded Phenom. The furious beam was larger than any that had ever been used within the fight club arena’s long-ruined walls, immensely enhanced by Engar's reckless use of the force. The flow of the beam, wild and fiery, blew almost all of the debris off of the platform and out into the night mountain air.

The lucid stream of golden energy collided precisely where the Rider stood, its head colliding with the wounded Phenom's outstretched hands. The shockwave of the stopped blast rattled the mountainside as a furious block-struggle ensued.

Engar's body jerked as the beam's furious trajectory was halted. His frustration was the only thing visible on his golden-hued, sweat-drenched face. He clenched his teeth and pushed back with all of his force-enhanced might. Synth looked on as the battered Reaper's feet dug into the impenetrable stone of the arena floor ever so slightly. The warrior aura grew back into view, and Synth could see within its wake thousands of fighters screaming and yelling with exertion, each fighting along with their keeper in his weakened state, trying to hold on to his defensive energies and avoid obliteration. The massive golden beam was increasing in strength as Engar further ignored his own mortal limits and continued to pour power into the blast. Still, the Phenom held his ground.

The Last Rider might have begun to charge his own blast to pump into the threatening golden beam. He might have even swatted away this considerable assault at full strength, but the mitigating factors had taken their toll. He was severely wounded from Synth's Jinsoku Iron Fist technique, and despite his new warrior aura's effects he was still not fully aligned with the spirits of his realm after SA's brilliant technique in the prior round. His healing was slowed; his injuries were more detrimental; and his power was weak enough that he could not manage to overwhelm this massive beam without a massive effort, even for one such as he.

Engar could once again taste victory. He'd felt robbed so many times throughout the battle; his ascendancy to maximum strength had all taken place here in this arena, over the time he'd battled there--days, weeks, months, who knew how long they had been battling anymore? For all he knew it could have been literally years, so lost in combat were they all. Still, he had come in but a learner; now he was poised to leave as the Master, the most powerful warrior in all of Forumscant (save for the Jade Behemoth himself, of course).

As he shunted his beam with another burst of power, Engar used the force to narrow its flow, making it more dense and potent. The Last Rider gnashed his teeth in a scowl of effort, while Engar's face bore a wild grin. He had defeated this enemy two times; he would not return for a third encore.

It was then that he felt something. A tingling in his hand; energies not his own, coalescing in his phantom limb. The spirits of his family could be felt again, which meant only one thing--the Last Rider's bond to the spirit world was returning to full strength.

As if to confirm his fear, he felt the mighty Rider boldly take a step forward while holding the furious golden tide in his hands. Arduous though it may have been, it was a sure-fire sign that he was not far off from returning fire.

Sensing the urgency, he sent a single telepathic message before the energy beam surged wildly and he was forced to focus on its control fully.

The Last Rider had taken another authoritative step towards Engar, despite the furious golden inferno which he was now being barraged with. The Phenom felt his strength quickly returning as more and more of his spiritual allies blinked into existence around them. His wounds slowly began to seal, the firestorm he held at bay gradually feeling less forceful.

He managed to take three more steps forward before another light glinted--from behind him. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Synth, perfectly opposite to Engar, holding a monstrous wave of blue-gold light in his hands.

The Rider's face turned from triumph to rage as Synth unleashed his own energies in a furious blast of red and blue fiery mass. With a scream, he unleashed his blast at an unprepared and weakened Phenom. The impact of Synth's beam sandwiched the Rider between the two lesser warrior's energy streams. Synth and Engar both had auras blazing as they poured every ounce of strength into this all-or-nothing attack.

The Last Rider was engulfed as the two beam heads collided and melded together into a furious storm of red, blue and gold.

The fusing energies of the blasts ripped and tore at one another, each vying to overwhelm and devour its counterpart. At the center of this blistering globe of searing fury, the Last Rider stood in the torrent of power, surely being obliterated from existence on a molecular level.

Engar had a furious grin, ecstatic that his victory was finally being realized. The golden inferno that he engulfed the Rider with was without a doubt the most powerful energy force he had ever mustered; Synth’s was now equally as powerful. Using the force and other special energies respectively, the two forced their beams against one another, crushing the Phenom in the furious storm of an immense, controlled power struggle.

The force of this blast was so intense that even Cucumba had to force himself to stand his ground against the shockwave. The night sky was as day, and the power struggle blazed like a desert sun. Far below the battle, onlookers were awed as their city streets were lit with makeshift daylight.

Engar’s moment of triumph was soon ruined, however, as something began to stir in the fiery orb into which he was pouring his full power. "NO!" Engar screamed.

"Im…possible," Synth muttered. "It's impossible!!"

Neither fighter could see the other but they both reacted in kind, doubling their efforts. The energy inferno swelled, now occupying more than 40% of the arena floor. Their auras reflected their furious pouring of power into their beams, each burning like a raging fire in a gale force wind.

Yet still, dark forces stirred within the power struggle. Engar sensed the disturbance in the force long before it came to full strength, but he knew right away what was happening. He could feel a new force writhing within the burning storm of energy.

The Last Rider was fighting back.

In a normal power struggle, the participants would be pouring their every drop of energy into their beams, attempting to overwhelm and devour the opponent’s beam--as well as its destructive force--and bring the full fury of the energies to bear on their enemy. In this power struggle, telepathically plotted between the two fighters, their aim was to keep their energy flows evenly maxed out, in order to ensure the target's obliteration within the furiously competing beams. It seemed now, however, that the Last Rider had a counter to this otherwise brilliant tactic.

Slowly, the two furious beam heads began to separate; and the silhouette of the Last Rider slowly became visible between them. Standing with his arms outstretched toward either beam, he was pressing with all of his impossible might against the forces around him.

The Last Rider parted the beam heads in full, holding the separate energy storms of fury in each of his palms. His face locked in an agonizing grimace, he pushed harder still, and now appeared to be simultaneously block struggling BOTH immense attacks.

The combatants had already poured most of their might into the beams. They could no longer increase the potency and hope to burn through the Rider’s own ki-manipulated grips on the attacks; if they released their force, he would surely send both immense blats flying back at their makers. The only option was to hold their beams and hope to outlast the Rider's weakened endurance.

At a glance, it looked hopeful. The Last Rider was ragged with injury, most of his upper body clothing and armor had been immolated into inexistence. Clearly visible was a full body tattoo adorning his right side; from chest to knee the grim reaper looked on in silence as its master pushed with all of his force at his attackers.

Unfortunately, the rippling disturbance in the force told Engar all he’d needed to know. Not only had the Phenom managed to get ahold of and separate their massive power struggle, but he also appeared to have the stamina remaining to charge a powerful attack of his own--

--one in each individual hand.

If either fighter could have seen their target through the blazing fervor of their own beams, they would have seen an amazing sight. The warrior aura immediately surrounding the Dark Phenom had pulsed to an exponentially larger size, and within its borders, thousands of long-dead warrior souls could be seen, lined up on either side of the Rider, their arms out, their faces grimacing with their hardest efforts.

Struggling to charge beams in each hand that were large enough to repel the opponents’ assault, the Last Rider let out a guttural growl of effort and exertion. The souls within his aura echoed behind his voice, the sound of a distant but determined army of warriors.


The world went white.

The resulting explosive force of the power struggle being dissipated went off like a megaton bomb with the Last Rider at its center. A portion of the mountainside collapsed downward onto the arena floor; the indestructible platform upon which the arena had been built cracked and splintered in many places. The entire foundation of the arena had crumpled under the weight of the ensuing avalanche, and the entire fight club platform fell from its mountainside perch like a meteor crashing into a mountain.

Nothing of the arena remained; all had been incinerated save for the ground floor of the arena; the earth and stone that had supported the once-mighty construct had been all but eradicated. The entire mountain plateau had come crashing down into the far side of Forumscant's offtopic district, sending onlookers fleeing in the ensuing carnage.

When it was finally over, all remained silent.

The smoke and soot had at last begun to clear after several buildings had collapsed under the avalanche. The base of the fight club arena remained, a smoldering billow of smoke emanating off of it as though it had been singed by the sun itself. It stood on a peculiar tilt, precariously raised at one far end--no doubt by the remnants for Forumscant buildings upon which it had fallen.

The arena platform now lay haphazardly in the city's edge, surrounded by the debris of destroyed buildings and fallen stone. In its center lay a single, smoking frame of a broken man.

The Last Rider had done something that nearly no fighter could have done; he resisted a power struggle from its apex, and beam-struggled the two opponents into submission. Were it not for the aid of the warrior souls, even a preternatural entity such as he might not have found the strength to do so.

The cost, however, had been grave.

In the center of the indestructible ring platform, the Last Rider lay prone. Smoke billowed off of his surroundings and his own body; without his wardrobe accoutrements, his pale skin melded with the moonlight, tattoos and wounds adorning all over. His eyes lay closed, his chest lay still. The Phenom was so drained and injured that even his considerable powers of regeneration were lessened for the time being.

At the edge of the arena floor, a single, glowing hand clawed its way back onto the surface. A battered, broken Engar drew himself back onto the edge. Elsewhere, a blown-away Synth followed suit.

SA Gohan was nowhere to be seen.

"We…we’ve wounded him for certain…" Synth rasped.

Engar both heard and answered telepathically. "We can regroup, destroy him once and for all--"

Engar was interrupted by a bell that rang from nowhere.

All eyes snapped toward the Last Rider. His aura fanned outward, extending to the very edges of the ring. In its wake, legions of mighty fighters stood, their voices in tandem with his own as he slowly and achingly sat up one final time.

"THE TIME FOR GAMES IS LONG OVER," the Last Rider and his masses said. The crowd of voices emanating from his wake was both powerful and subtle. He rose to one knee. "WITH THE POWER OF THE DEAD, YOU WILL AT LAST BE CRUSHED."

And with that, the Dark Phenom once again rose to his feet, injuries and all. He staggered, but stood; the remnants of the unyielding Pride that were still part of this entity’s makeup made him an honorable fighter, despite the odds being shifted in either direction.

"SO LET IT BE WRITTEN, SO LET IT BE DONE," he and his followers bellowed. "THIS IS OVER TONIGHT."

The bell tolled in his wake. His opponents each made their own motions to stand, Synth the least battered. Who would survive this ultimate battle, with the playing field even?

Intently, Cucumba looked on from high in the sky above, certain in the knowledge that the end was finally at hand.
💻 Oldtimer
May 29, 2002
Best answers
It had been a short while since Hwoarang entered the ring. But, it had felt like forever since Synth heard the first round was announced.

The fight, when considering it's basic existence, had achieved all the stages possible. The Tae Kwon Do prodigy had witnessed all of them with reckless abandon, only seeking to prove his worthiness in battle at first. Soon, he was reminded of the responsibilities that were handed to him, and he had to weigh his options carefully. From buying time with his first opponent, till the assistance of Kyo Kusanagi allowed them to eliminate Vejimaru swiftly, Kyo soon meeting his own fate to Pride. To merely warming up with The Last Rider, finding an ally in him when an intimidating user of the force, known as Engar, began to display the forefront of his abilities. Then other adversaries, one named Brim, the other Gohan, showed they were each to be taken seriously as well.

All the while, Synth was gaining understanding in his full repertoire, never having a solid reason to do so before. After Pride was suddenly slain by Engar, it became a series of limits he began to break. The android soon lost all reasoning and begun to focus on revenge. He finally played his major role in the rebirth of Pride, stricken with grief as the monster he had created, soon found no hesitation in shattering any trust, when Brim's life was taken.

What was the point of this faction?

It was all just another way for him to buy time, to learn what he was truly capable of. He rode into battle with one true technique, each charged strike allowing him to measure his opponent and gage the progress of his potential.

Yet, everything was still complicated as ever. He was ordered to kill the impossible target. They wouldn't listen to the hymns of a fallen reality. A being such as Cucumba wasn't planning anything, he had the darkness of a twisted fate on his side. The means to survive did nothing to solve the problems he was stricken with. This realization was no different from the pain he felt as he faded in and out of surgery. The taste of metal in his mouth, gnawed at him so physically, he was one to wonder if it was merely his spirit fighting to stay attached.

So, now what? Was he going to stand aside, and let Pride eat away at Engar till he once again witnessed another manslaughter caused by his faulty allegiance? When he opened that book, he took that role, that role of Dr. Frankenstein. Synth knew he may have to put his own creation down, a creation maybe not of his own design, but a creation of tactics nonetheless.

But, when push came to shove, the android merely gave his infamous smirk, knowing that if he had lasted this long, the complexity merely had to be broken down. He had something to gain from his actions, that no one else would expect. Synth had accepted the recourse of his decision, taking in the last moments of proverbial solitude.

I brought the book for one real reason... our resurrection as well.

Looking down at the impaled opening below his chest, random sparks of lost currents without a guideline echoing. The android was overwhelmed with the price he had paid. While a wind that had trailed him since Pride's second comeback seemed to brush up against him faster, the faint whispers off all the irony he had scorned, all the lack of direction, the simple justice and insincerity, swallowed by the eagerness of countless thousand's urge for a reputation, began to haunt him deeper than it had ever before.

This is only for the best...

His eyes watered with relentless sorrow, realizing they were actually being drawn to him by the same ill-fated and endless greed for higher acceptance.


"Shut up and get in line!" A grizzled soldier lashed out as he knocked a defenseless woman to her knees with the butt of his rifle.

He gripped the communicator attached to his shoulder, "We've definitely got a hive here... beginning stages... a couple absolute clairvoyants, wow... a few dormant telees, and the rest are the usual."

"Hey, Sgt. Howitski... what do you got on the infrared sweep?" He leaned to his side as soldiers in front of him guided a line of people towards a military transport.

"Nothing special... oh wait.. what... what is this?"

The officer peered into the scanner, also noticing a huge glow emanating from a particular structure in the middle of the compound.

"This is interesting... "


The android's head leaned forward, a passing daydream staining his facial expression.

When one is faced with death incarnate...

A red-tinted wind began to appear visible around him, the intelligible sound of those same thousand voices bellowing from his soul outward, deafening through the city. It seemed some poured from the sky, some from the sewer gutters below. Their recent location or not, everyone, especially Cucutoth, had no idea what was truly unfolding.

Who are all these people?!

An enveloping seam of barely visible and stretched spirits began to pour into what could easily be accepted as the only entryway. The gaping wound in Synth's chest created by a turncoat Brim during his last moments. The more they entered, the faster the ones behind them seemed to move, Synth's eyes beginning to eerily glow as he fell to both knees. His back was arched as high as humanly possible as his mouth began to open, the glow escaping rapidly from there as well.


Cucumba seemed to be in a trance.

With this book, I shall bridge the gap of life and death!

He could do nothing but stare as the android fell forward, barely bracing himself from the ground, the glow rapidly expanding around his body, and fading with each pulse.

"We gave all of you every chance... "

Synth stood up laughing, glad his survival ensured the conflict had reached it's finale.

"You know what you have done?"

He looked up to see Cucumba shaking his head, his voice apparently echoing through the wasteland a collapsing arena had created.

Synth smiled as strange voices around seemed to finish his words for him. "NOTHING!"

The anxious silence that followed was soon abruptly a distant memory as a roarus crowd of paranormal laughter erupted from Pride's direction.

"This is all you could come up with? The only solution you could consider? All your precious research led to this ultimatum? You've mocked me just as much as the Modiwan has."

He turned his habitually agonizing focus away from Engar and stared angrily at Synth, his voice deeper than normal.

"You bring a mere fallen clan to face the eons of death I have at my side?!"

His laugh seemed to echo for miles, the same mysterious bell ringing like it's device was being hit by an abrupt force, altering it to be a louder than ever before.

"This will always be the realm of death... and you face me with an overconfidently obliterated cache of idealists who have proven it!"


Soldiers approached a large shelter, quickly distinguishing their entrance with a sudden door charge.

"Get on the ground, with your hands above your head... we're coming in!"

They bolted in one-by-one, picking standardized angles of attack, recon, and moving to utter silence.

"Where is it?" One muttered with severe anxiousness.

The whimper of a child could be heard from behind a series of boxes, flashes of light from rifles scattering toward it's direction.


The Last Rider blurred towards Synth, his air-piercing right hook merely reflected by the android's aura, the reaction causing him to stutter back a few paces. Realizing the situation, the Tae Kwon Do prodigy launched forward, soon learning part of his emotions and physical control were being manipulated.

It's all there...

Instead of the typical brute attack that seemed to only enrage Pride. Synth found his right fist stretched to an open palm. It jolting, spiraling energy that exited effortlessly into a red plasmic charge, dispersing the reaper's fortitude with a sudden shock. His hand was now tensing up, trails of energy soon wrapping around the stunned Pride and twisting him into the air.

No, this can't be right...

Soon his left arm idled out of his control, charging a typical beam, which randomly decided to leave his hand before he would normally let it, for fear of ineffectiveness. This beam ensuring the aerial continuity of Pride, the android now felt the ground separate from his feet. He ignored his fears and stared forward, starting to feel his right arm being positioned for a large swing. Synth gritted his teeth and fought to feel his muscles once again, slowly regaining sensation till he felt a chilling tingle in his knuckles.

A light sparked in his mind. He was in control and they were in control.


The deafening chant slightly overwhelmed a vision-altering impact created from the energy-encased hand of the android, who pursued the jettisoned reaper, increasing his speed till his outreached hand had him by the throat. Tightening his grip, Synth grew an intensified look as his aura wrapped around both him and Pride, who squinted helplessly at his assailant, noticing the curve of Earth's horizon become more apparent behind him. The Reaper started to squirm violently, feeling either Synth's aura or their location suffocating him, his eyes whitened as he attempted to break the ethereal hold by churning the trailing of infinite souls behind him.

The android laughed, his powerful aura hardly effected by the clawing and ranting of impossibly numbered and entrapped souls.

"Quality over quantity."

Pride soon felt the pressure of transparent arms brace his frame in place, Synth releasing his grip and quickly fading back.


Synth, extended his open left hand forward, the flash of his aura foreshadowing an array of separate thin beams circling into Pride. The beams began to become to pick up their rate of creation and speed, becoming a continuous barrage against the malingered reaper.

The android smiled with arrogance.

"It looks like I better finish you off... before your real friends arrive."


The city had grown eerily quiet, considering the collapse of the stadium sparked paranoia of further damage to the city, causing most of the residents to evacuate. Most of the diehard crowd that had survived, and retreated back to a main street in the city, some still invigorated with the recent light show in the sky, while others were in mourning of their fallen associates, or morbidly eccentric over their missing loved ones. They soon realized it was no longer about picking up the pieces as low growls and shuffling soon began to accumulate around them.

One began turning to another in distress, all of them wondering if enjoying the rumble was worth dying for.


An unconscious reaper was lost in a freefall, the trail of his acquired souls spiraling above him as he began to pickup acceleration. His impact into the Earth was strangely quick, the concrete of the once-intimidating arena falling in around him, cracks dancing in different directions. Pride laying there motionless, the spirits tied to him waving above him like a willowing flame, soon were startled by the abrupt materialization of the smirking android.

"Now, you become ashes... "

Everyone continued to stare with anticipation, in shock as they saw a focused Synth, his open hands pushing forward and together, aimed directly at the incapacitated Pride.


The atmosphere was once again painted with an eerie red glow, the android laughing maniacally, beams spiraling out of his hand at an infinite rate. The flat concrete began sliding in and breaking apart, gravity and the improvised pit of despair churning out fragments of rock, dust and particles merely shading the deafening light show that could only possibly be incinerating his opponent's embers at this point.

I'll have the honor of stomping out your remains!


The judges were shaking their heads, Cucumba eyes jumping as he felt a dark energy quickly fathom itself in front of the current center of attention. As the cloud dissipated, the judges watched as Pride shook his head, standing there motionless in an attack-ready position, launching himself with a meditative flex, soon spinning into a heralding vertical right hook that sling-shot the android downward.


"Your fountain of energy has become meaningless!" He snarled with an eager look on his face.

Synth tried to stand up, hearing heavy footsteps that lead to a huge shockwave off Pride's striking kick, sending him skittering across the cluttered arena floor, mimicking a pebble side armed over a pond.

"There's no burn to anything you do anymore... they've now taken the fire for themselves." The Last Rider quipped with a disgusted look.


The lights danced around the room until one reflected off the top of a young boy's head.

"Come forward!" A soldier yelled carefully.

All of the soldiers began to breath heavily, realizing the air was getting thin. One began to approach the child as he was signaled to do so, his eyes becoming a dead stare as he realized the closer he got, the more the child would began to emit a vapor, the presence of a looming heat becoming apparent. Yet, the child was balled up and shivering as if he was cold, randomly emitting slight whimpers to signify pain or complete fear.

"It's okay... "

The soldier reached his hand out, only to watch as the child's face quickly turned to him, his eyes solid red.

"DO NOT THINK OF THINGS... YOU CAN'T ACCOMPLISH!" The child screamed in a trumpeting voice, sparks of energy beginning to emit off him, a red pulse spreading like a shadow around the room as everything suddenly went white.


The night sky was peaceful, a light rain had left everything mildly damp. A stealth helicopter seemed in quite a hurry, the crew with serious looks on their faces, with each new broadcast over the radio.

"It's been confirmed we've got another hive up ahead... make sure to lockdown the perimeter."

They all began to notice a red flash over the horizon that soon ballooned to a huge dome of red energy, making the pilot halt the helicopter's progress immediately.

"That isn't good!"

The dome quickly subsided, delayed explosions in the same direction hinting that a massive amount of destruction had just occurred.

"There's nothing left... "

A force began to pull them towards the display, soon rushing them back as their scanners began spiraling off frantic sounds.

"We've got a large EMP wave incoming... brace for emergency landing!"

All of their equipment began to short and catch on fire, smoke blinding their vision, and the loud whine of the engine failing, only a soundtrack to the rotating coffin the helicopter had become.


"I hope you don't have any regrets... "

Pride was ear-to-ear with his grin as he dropped down to one knee, leaning on his left forearm which was braced on the other knee, starting intently at the android, who was shaking off his recent assault.


The Last Rider launched forward, nailing Synth right in his gut, just as he got to his feet.


Pride rotated with his other arm, hitting the android in the exact same spot, Synth's face filled with shock.


The Last Rider quickly jumped into a standing sidekick, his foot impacting the android's throat.


Pride flung back, springing off the inertia to power a large haymaker that sent Synth across the desolate arena floor.

"HOW, DOES IT FEEL KNOWING IT'S ALL OVER FOR YOU AS WELL?!" The Last Rider stomped the ground, flexing arrogantly.

Synth looked lost in his journey until he suddenly vanished, reappearing in front of Pride.

"WHY, IS THIS SUDDENLY 60 MINUTES?!" The android rafted as he extended a swift jab, only to find how the Last Rider effortlessly caught it.

"As I've said... " Pride reached across his grip on Synth's jab, backhanding the android a considerable distance sideways.


A room was lit by the glare of countless monitors, assistants and interns shuffling past each other with files and expressos. Most of the people were focused on one monitor, that showed Synth still able to get up without much leeway.

A deep voice broke from the back of the command center. "Cucumba, knows the phantom and the android could fight for eons, neither gaining any ground. Why is he stalling with them? I have gone beyond irrational hatred for a thing such as him, who peddles the supernatural of this planet for his pure amusement."

The sound of a folder slamming on the floor echoed through the room. "Not to mention the fact that that damnation has been used not once, but twice!"

You could hear his sigh for miles. "The outbreak will be irreversible if we don't use our trump card."

The sounds of screaming, came from another monitor, easily considered the people still within the walls of Forumscant, wondering why the undead had begun crawling out of the shadows.

A younger voice bolted from another side of the room. "But sir, there's no way we can identify if Cucumba was taking out with the blast. He's been readily able to avoid death in similar situations. We'd be in disarray till he made another move that could prove costly for us."

"I want the android switched to auxiliary mode... "

"We have no choice on both ends." The deep voice quivered as his fist impacted the railing he used to brace himself.


Synth stood his position, noticing that the drained Engar was off in the distance trying his best to fight the pain, likely waiting for him to create another sizeable opening. But, there they both stood, both wondering if they really had run out of time. The android's power had become dampened by a technique that had a split chance of backfiring. He knew that he would have to overcome the fall of his clan once again, and he knew that standing around was just wasting more precious seconds.

He stared at the Modiwan, wondering if the display of full power they combined at the Reaper, was merely a testament to how outmatched and fleeting their competitive resonance was. How could two elite beam attacks be pushed aside like that? If something like Pride existed, something that was near immortal as Cucumba, were they merely the appetizer? Yet, at moments, they both had there streaks of domination, where the Last Rider was bending to their very will. It began to feel like an endless nightmare of success and failure. Could it be a wise decision to stand aside and let Pride deal with Cucumba? Could they really have no choice?

Synth found it hard to understand why Engar would ally with such madness. It had to be borderline manipulation, or full insanity on the Modiwans part. He guessed he was no different in his situation, when it came to the imperialists who rebuilt his frame of body and mind, only to find, he believed, they had made an unmistakable error.

Finally, Engar turned to him, nearly the same face the android wore, staring back at him like a mirror. They were both lost.

What was he truly waiting for?

I can't go on waiting any longer.

I can't let Pride gain any more power, he is my responsibility.

Synth stepped forward, blocking out the thoughts that seemed to give him tunnel vision, hoping a mental approach would tide the suppression.

"I can't let... " Synth began to speak with a valiant tone, his words silenced by a large activation-esque noise ringing from within him. The android stopped worrying about Pride and stared up at Cucumba, a new and bright white aura exploding, knocking both Pride and Engar off their feet instantly.


Cucumba stood up in his chair, glaring at Engar, giving him a thumbs down signal.

"If he gets any closer than my pupil can deal with... I want to you to take him out of commission Hibiki."

The Humanoid Typhoon smirked, knocking off the last remnants of his broken DS aside. "If it's necessary... "


The android seemed lifeless, the white aura almost giving him a ghostly eminence as he headed towards Cucumba once again. He suddenly stopped in place, leaning back to dodge a flurry of incredible ki attacks that Engar seemed to be extending from his phantom arm.

"Why don't you stay and fight Synth? Don't tell me you just let them flip a switch inside you." Engar laughed.

Synth looked down at the Modiwan, then back up at Cucumba, soon returning his glare to Engar.


Engar dropped into a battle-ready pose and began charging another ki beam with his ethereal limb, extending his rogue saber outwardly toward his side.

I'm your problem now.
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