[...Throughout the arena, a single ominous bell tolls, as a peculiar rainfall begins...]
[...A figure stands at the far side of the arena, still as a statue. He wears a black leather duster and a matching brim hat, from which the water drips indifferently. His eyes are covered by his hat's shadow, but they undoubtedly stare at the only goal of the being known as Pride: his opponent, standing opposite him.]
[...Remaining as still as the dead, Pride waits. The rain falls. And once more...]
Cucumba stands in his ship overlooking the dark, pale planet far below. In his hand a slick revolver lays with one bullet prepared. A fan swivels overhead, creating a slight swoosh accompanied by sadistic âArt Garfunkel â All I Knowâ music, suicidal music.
The corridor door opens, shedding light into the pale, brown room. Pride steps through, his rough iron tipped boots clack on the iron ground. âYou wanted to see me, Cucumba?â he asks, warily.
âYes..â croaks Cucumba. âI wanted...â he clears his throat, âI wanted to speak to you about Smith.â
âSmith?â Pride spit out, knocking his cigar astray.
âYes, Smith. He's back...â
âHow do you know?â Pride puffs the cigar and blows out an oval ring of smoke.
âBecause he is me. But something is different. He feels different, he's changed, he's ... I don't know how to put it.â Cucumba struggles with his words. âHe's evolved, for lack of a better word. I honestly don't know of anything in our limited vocabulary to describe him, he's changed. I fear that I can no longer keep him in his place.â Cucumba raises his pistol up some, continuing to glare out of the glass and down onto the world below.
âI fear... I fear that my time is done with Smith, I am no longer a match for his cunning and sophistication.â The record reaches a climactic point and Cucumba raises his pistol to his chest. Pride gasps, stepping back slightly. âWhich is why I want you to take care of him for me...â
Cucumba turns around and hands the pistol delicately to Pride. âThe bullet in this weapon is made of a special chemical agent that will completely remove Smith from this plane of existence. Its worth alone is over 10 fold that of this ship. Take care of it, do not waste it, and remove Smith forever... we are depending on you, Pride.â The dramatic record comes to an end and shuts off. Pride stares at Cucumba, trying to formulate words.
âI hope that you can accomplish this, Pride. I believe you can do it, we all do. Can you believe in yourself? That is the question, the question that has alluded us all in one point or another.â Cucumba turns back to the clear glass, overlooking the dead planet once again. âMake haste, he is waiting...â
Pride stands speechless, his mouth hung ajar. He walks out of the room, turning around and glancing back at Cucumba before the iron doors seal shut.
The ship crashes onto the icy cold ground, devoid of all life ever since the end of the rumble. Pride's spike cleats wouldn't even pierce the cold, dead ground at first, instead causing him to sink slowly.
A scream is heard in the mountain's valley, sounding familiar to Pride, yet he still couldn't catch the voice. He continues to wander down towards the abandoned arena.
The moon light shone down upon the octagonal arena, which was almost an insult to the former glory of the arena and all the fights that had taken place in it. Pride looks down at his mechanical arm, made entirely of nanites and other trace materials. âMemories, memories.â He muffles out through his teeth.
A whisper is heard in the center of the ring, followed by the clicks of business boots, size 10 Â½. Pride's eyes dart towards the ring; nanites flow into his muscles, causing a boost in strength and endurance.
The whisper continues to originate from the center of the ring, but no one is seen standing. Pride hitches onto the arena, the chains and wire long torn down and destroyed. He notices a dip in the middle of the arena where a puddle of thick dark liquid has centered along with a tattered body, who's mouth is wide open as though the person died screaming in pain. Underneath the broken sunglasses, the eye sockets are empty and the skin is stretched almost to a breaking point.
Pride turns around as the sound comes from right behind him, yet he feels only the dry wind on his skin. In the corner of his eye the dead body's hand moves. Again, Pride turns around, almost frightened by this set of events.
The body's head lifts from the ground, its hands spasming in pain and from lack of blood. Pride hears the unnatural stretching sounds of the skin and turns around, only to meet the shriveled person head on.
The body flings forward onto Pride, shattering and tearing into fragments. âGahh!!â Screams Pride as he jolts backwards and away from the body pieces. Laughter is heard all around the cliffs and from every one of the mountain's crevices.
âWhere are you Smith?!â shouts Pride, who's voice eerily didn't echo once.
From the left: Do you really want to know, Mr. Pride?
Then from the right: I can sense you, did you know that?
From behind Pride: I can sense your fears, I can sense your hates, I can sense your wants, I can sense everything about you...
Then from in front of Pride: I know everything about you, Mr. Pride.
Pride looks down and watches the dark liquid slowly raise and form into a basic body form, and then into the form of Smith, that of which is smiling a deadly smile. âMr. Pride...â Smith's voice is more evil in nature sounding than ever before, piercing straight through Pride's heart. âI see Cucumba led you straight to me.â Smith laughs through his teeth which continue to stay in a smile lock.
âWhat do you mea-â
âMean?â Smith interrupts, finishing Pride's statement. âHe... I told you that we were of the same code, correct? And... well look at me.â Smith smiles at his perfection. âI'm very cunning. He knew it was only a matter of time before I found out how to ... 'feel him' and then eventually...â The unholy smile reaches an all-time climax, â...to control him.â
âAnd then I suppose this anti-Smith miracle-bullet is fake as well.?â Pride asks.
âNo.â Retorts Smith, his smile fading ever-so slightly. âI feel like giving myself a challenge. I designed that 'miracle-bullet', as you so wonderfully put it, myself. But you do know that bullets are far too slow to catch me.â
Pride remains motionless for a few seconds, which lasts hours in both of the opponent's minds. The retched smile finally subsides and transforms into a picture of hatred.
âI've waited far too long for you, Mr. Pride.â The virii spits out, âYour time has come... your time has passed.â
On a rusty chain, a run-down bell dangles and rings. It is the signal to one of the greatest battles ever fought on this mortal ground. It dangles by its old damaged handle, barely latched onto to the chain, ready to fall at any moment.
âGo,â whispers Smith, who's face is still curled up in hatred. Pride jumps and leaps forward, getting cleavage on the ground by his cleated boots, he runs forward, pulling his arm back, ready to strike.
His fist collides through Smith's chest and out of his back. The virii, Smith, stands motionless, staring down at his wound. Pride, grinning at this winning attack, waiting for his opponent's blood to flow from this fatal blow, through which his arm is still penetrating.
Smith only sighs, his entire body dissolving into a blackish liquid and then morphing into a form where he holds Pride's arm in between his arm and chest. Pride's mouth is hanging open at this new ability that the green virii has acquired.
The virii makes no small talk and slams his elbow into Pride's chest, knocking all the air out of the poor man's lungs. Continuing on this attack, Smith swivels around and tosses Pride into one of the tallest concrete structures, creating a barrage of tumbling rocks.
Pride is quick to react, though, leaping forward and out of the way of the concrete debris. Yet, while trying to escape the barrage of rocks, he jumps right in front of the terrible virii.
Pride isn't able to comprehend the amount of pressure behind this punch, he stands completely still, his jaw feeling shattered. He steps back a couple feet, barely able to keep on his feet. The unfeeling virii stands before him, laughing at his opponent's mild attempt to defeat him.
âYou must try harder, Pride... you can't be Cucumba's best.â He continues to mock the young hero as Pride regains his balance from the last hit. As his nanites repair his broken jaw, Pride stands leaning forward, his arm outstretched for another round.
Smith walks forward slowly, smiling, getting ****y. In a swift moment, he collides his fist into Pride's first hand, which grapples to Smith's skin. Pride's one hand doesn't have enough strength left to counter the virii's massive momenta and begins to buckle. Quickly, Pride uses his other hand to help against Smith, yet it also begins to buckle after only a few seconds of use.
Pride's hands fail him and completely fall limp. Smith's fist collides into his chest, sending him reeling back and into the same debris pile he had only just escaped.
As Pride's vision blurs in and out, he hears the clack of Smith's black office-shoes. He could smell Smith and all of his evilness. The virii leans over Pride, sneering. âCan you feel it?â he queries with no emotion.
âFe- -cough- feel what?â cracks Pride, bleeding from the mouth.
âDeath, of course. I know it's near for you... but I wouldn't mind meeting it one day.â Smith jokes, laughing.
âYes, actually. Yes, I can. I can -cough- feel death.â Returns Pride.
Smith smiles, his hand and arm fading to the black liquid and back into a sharp, stabbing form. He looks at Pride once again...
He jabs straight through Pride's heart and soul and through the earth. The young hero spasms up from the pain, his eyes shutting and his lungs emptying of air, yet no blood can be seen coming from Smith's attack. Instead, a grayish cloud hazes out and covers the nearby area with a deathly appearance.
Pride's eyes open right as the bell from before rings, but with a different tone. Smith looks at the bell, his arm and hand still stricken through Pride's chest. âCan you feel it?â asks Pride in a completely different voice. âCan you feel death?â
Smith tries to pull away, but Pride grabs him by the arm and cracks him away in the elbow. The virii shrieks as his arm snaps in two, the blade part still embedded within Pride's chest. Pride jolts straight up, barely moving. Smith cowers on the ground, holding his stump arm.
The revived, young hero rips the bladed hand from his chest and holds it in a striking manner. âCan you feel it?!â He shouts at Smith. Before Smith can even respond, Pride whips the bladed arm back and slices it straight through Smith's middle.
All of Smith's being melts back into the black liquid and drips onto the ground, including the separated arm that Pride was carrying. It again slowly forms back into a standing Smith.
Pride's hands are completely relaxed, his face completely devoid of wrinkles, his body rejuvenated but different. Smith's face wrinkles with hatred as he tramples towards Pride. Smith barely sees the glare of the mysterious blade that Pride holds in front of him. The doom virii collides straight into the blade, sliding up to the hilt and then dissolving into his liquid form. He splashes over Pride and forms back behind him, throwing a punch into Pride's spine, causing Pride's body to jolt slightly and his bones to crack.
As Pride turns around he drops his weapon and Smith's fist molds into a spiked club. Smith rams his club-fist into the face of Pride, who responds with a narrow jolt to Smith's side and a twist kick. Smith flies to the left into the gray smoke from his attack earlier.
What is this stuff...?
Smith gets up and examines the area for his opponent, whom is no where in sight.
âSmith.â Only one word, a final word before Pride jumps from his rail holding the tip of a pointed concrete column facing down. Smith can't react fast enough and Pride pierces the virii from the head and through the ground with the concrete column. No gashing sounds are made, only splashing as Smith once again turns into his liquid form and washes away from the site.
Pride acts quickly and throws massive amounts of dirt and rock into Smith's liquid self as he gathers himself for reformation.
That's very rude...
Comes the voice that Pride had heard at the very beginning. Smith finishes, but looks chalkier. âWhat have you done?!â shouts Smith, screaming as dust flies out of his mouth.
Pride only looks down at the pale man, thinking only of how to avenge all those who had fallen. Smith screams in anger and throws a clumsy punch at Pride's face. As his hand cracks into Pride's cheek, it shatters into rocky chunks and falls to the ground. Smith looks in shock at what had just happen, staring again at his lumpy arm.
The young hero laughs and swipes his arm at the remains of Smith's arm, which also crumbles and flies away. Pride again jabs at Smith's legs, both crumble and collapse. Pride laughs maniacally, jabbing and hitting and punching, crumbling Smith into pieces and smaller pieces.
Smith's torso and head remain, stained with dust and debris. He has a look of disbelief on his face, thinking of what he could do.
Thump Thump THUMP THUMP
Pride stumbles up to Smith carrying the remains of the column he used before. âGoodbye, Mr. Smith.â He drops the column onto the shocked remains of Smith, which only poof into dust as the colossal concrete slams the ground.
Pride turns around and starts to walk back to the ship just as a light rain drizzle starts. Thunder is heard in the background and the moon light starts to become blocked by the dark clouds...
Host Conscious AI currently resuscitating . . . . . . .
ERROR:AI interference detected! Multiple entities present in reference files, will process as merged.
Analyzing . . . . . . .
Entity Count: 2
Entity 1 Identified: Subject 1, Codename âArchangelâ â Full match.
Entity 2 Unknown. Analyzing... Mindscale: Unknown.
Cellular Structure: Unknown.
Brainwave Pattern Signals: 9999999 terahertz.
DNA not found. WARNING: Entity 2 Core Species and Genus unknown. Continue with Conscious Entity data merge?
Conscious Entity Recall engaged.
... Host AI Restore complete. Some system errors occurred during Host AI Restoration. Please seek reformat for full reparation of errors.
Catalyst NanoTech Operating System rerouting to subconscious lev--
[WARNING] Malicious Program Detected! [WARNING] [WARNING] Malicious Program Detected! [WARNING] [WARNING] Malicious Program Detected! [WARNING]
* * * * * *
Too many things wrong at once. That was Prideâs first reaction upon awakening.
Around him the arena stood...although only in the loosest sense of the word...long vacated. The dust and debris had been settled for what looked like years. None of the announcers or participants that heâd been fighting in the Royal Rumble--what had seemed like mere moments ago--were no place to be found.
His head ached--something unfamiliar to him. He noticed his clothes--the ones he'd entered the Rumble with--had returned to him. His shirt with the open sides and his black tank top had been destroyed in the earlier fighting in the Rumble, but for some reason he had them returned, unscathed.
Something else was missing, too...or at least not as prominent as he'd recalled. The Reaper's presence was nearly invisible, as it had been during the beginning of the Rumble.
Why, he wondered, could I not feel that power within me before?
He was even more confused about the "Catalyst" form he'd achieved after meeting the blade of Engar's rogue saber. How had he done that? Who and what was he?
He heard footsteps ahead of him, echoing as if amplified by the darkness.
"Welcome, Mr. Archangel," said a quaint, slightly gritted voice.
Pride noticed that just about everything he saw had a peculiar pale green tint, save for his own body--which was tinted an angry, translucent shade of red.
"Show yourself," Pride demanded in defiance.
"Now now, Mr. Archangel," the voice cooed. In the darkness he could see the outlines of a face, a wily grin, hidden amongst the shadows.
"Who the hell are you?" Pride demanded.
The voice ignored Pride's demand; the silhouette instead spun on one heel, gesturing to their surroundings. "Do you like what I've done with the place? I wanted you to feel at home."
"What did you do to the arena...?" Pride looked around and noticed bits of vertical code scaling through small areas on the walls. Places where it seemed hastily stitched together, somehow. He immediately knew who he was dealing with, but something still seemed wrong. "Smith..."
"And so much more," the voice replied. "He calls me 'Anti-Smith.' Faster, stronger, better...what have you." Smith stepped out into a green light as he cracked his neck to the left, and Pride saw him much more clearly. He had seemed a bit frayed; his clothes were unbuttoned, his tie flailed and unclipped from his shirt. His top button was loosened, and most notable of all was the absence of his ever-present sunglasses.
"You look different," Pride commented, less worried now. "Look like you've been in the unemployment line, actually."
"You are an amusing entity," commented Smith. "I see that the system has restored most of your personality."
"System? What syste--"
"The Catalyst nanomachines," Smith commented. "What I brought you here for."
Pride was silent before making his next question. "Where is the real Smith?"
The wily grin shattered. "I AM THE REAL SMITH!!"
"Then where is the...other...Smith?"
Anti-Smith took his fist and pounded it on his chest lightly, sending a surge of green vertical code across his aura. "I have re-integrated most of his copies. Though I would prefer it if he were to cease to exist, most of his primary objectives have transferred into my own data banks. One of those objectives was to destroy Cucumba--but such a pathetic program would have stood no chance and Smith knew that. So instead he targeted you...and more specifically, your Catalyst nanomachines."
Pride was remembering now...remembering a distant place, a laboratory with scientists in white coats and translucent indifference; he remembers computers, so many computers; he remembers many things that he had once deemed best forgotten.
"You want...to download my Catalyst form?"
"Smith wants to end you on matters of principal," Anti-Smith said snidely. "I am just economizing the goal so that it is more...profitable."
"You've got no chance of getting into the system," Pride said. "Not without me ripping your jackal-looking face off first." He felt the ripple of his shockwave aura coming online.
"Ha. Mr. Archangel, I am already inside your system. The only thing standing between me and seizing your nanomachines is the backups of your conscious. You, in other words."
Pride gritted his teeth angrily. Sensing the fury, Anti-Smith further antagonized the digital Phenom.
"It's true, Mr. Archangel--as of right now, you don't even exist! You're just some 0's and 1's hanging in dead air. Every cell of your body has been annihilated, undead or otherwise. Without this construct of the arena that I've made, you wouldn't even have this disillusioned physical manifestation to keep yourself occupied during the eons you wait for your nanotech hardware to rust you into your final end."
Pride was infuriated, and Smith knew that he had the Last Rider right where he wanted him.
"You have one chance. Surrender and let me wipe you out, or die trying to be heroic."
"You left out choice number three..."
"Third choice...?" Smith's right eyebrow ****ed high in confusion. It was filled with Pride's knuckles a moment later, followed up by a strong right cross that caught Smith off guard and sent him reeling.
"Remember what I said--"
--Pride clapped both hands onto the sides of Smith's face--
"--about ripping your face off?"
Pride pulled as hard as he could. The digital flesh of his opponent tore surprisingly easily, giving as though it were cloth or some other light weaved material.
Smith's face was ripped from his head with a sickening tear that distorted digitally in Pride's ears. As the face flew away--gnarling hyena grimace and all--it dissolved into digital matrix code. Pride found himself eye to...binary...with Smith's faceless mask of scrolling code. The face reconstructed before Pride's very eyes, and somehow he had known that the screaming face being constructed in front of him was picked up from the same frame of animation it had gone into when it had dissolved.
A right hand sent Pride flying backwards into the far wall. A ripple of green code digitized around Pride's impact. He looked up from a kneeling position, admiring Smith's complete lack of showmanship in an odd way. Here was a fighter with little need for auras, powering up, or massive energy attacks; his fists and feet were deadly enough, and Pride could respect that.
Pride bolted forward in a swoop, leaving a trail of red horizontal Catalyst code behind him. He leveled an elbow into Smith's throat--a violent impact which Smith not only didn't bother to block, but actually grinned as his trachea collapsed. Pride continued with left and right crosses, and closed the combo with a knee to the very tip of Smith's jackal-face chin.
Amazingly, Smith's neck seemed to break--shatter, even--and it snapped backward so hard that the back of his head hit between his shoulderblades. But instantaneously, his neck pulled itself back into position as though it were elastic.
There was a momentary lapse in combat as Pride uttered a single sentence to the grinning virus--
"--You've got to be ****ting me."
Pride was instantly assaulted by Smith in a series of rights and lefts that were so fast Smith's arms became wild blurs, and the impacts rattled across Pride's midsection and head as though they were one continuous blow.
The combo beat Pride mercilessly despite his attempts to cover up. He felt both physical pain and digital pain as his electronically stored self took a beating from viral infection.
Smith grabbed Pride and raised him high above his head effortlessly, despite the slight size differences between the two. Smith leapt up and flung Pride's body down into the center of the nearby ring.
The actual Fight Club Arena ring would have broken easily under the impact, and thus had some give to it; Anti-Smith's matriculated version did not even shudder at the velocity of Pride's landing and thus was that much more painful.
[WARNING: System under Siege, Antiviral Systems Inoperable! Integrity of Preserved Consciousness endangered!] [WARNING: System under Siege, Antiviral Systems Inoperable! Integrity of Preserved Consciousness endangered!] [WARNING: System under Siege, Antiviral Systems Inoperable! Integrity of Preserved Consciousness endangered!] [WARNING: System under Siege, Antiviral Systems Inoperable! Integrity of Preserved Consciousness endangered!] [WARNING: System under Siege, Antivuris usuhdikel sjjduduuioijwen shsuiddm] [WARNING: System under Siege,hud hjfiidifklel doodjf d((0--209390dd0>..kd.] [WARNING: System unhdulells jd88373j0-e---djsj 29300 hd //';]]][;;ldldood-] [WARNING: 3ieoe9w0-epe-d dld,d,.c;cvp.e. d.::::::::::::::;; ;;;.c.dlks;sa.;d]
Pride struggled to get up to his hands and knees--the pain was amazingly real, worse than most of the pain he'd have felt in the physical world despite his shockwave aura. He wondered if it wasn't somehow malfunctioning.
Smith landed and kicked Pride in the ribs. To the naked eye Smith's attacks look subtle and light, but the reality is that the force with which they impact is almost unrivaled by forces of gravity and nature. Pride was sent flying into the chain ring ropes, where he immediately became tangled, yanking back and forth violently on the impact before dropping to the digital bottom of the ring.
Pride's eyes opened wide as he struggled to get up yet again.
Got to...power up...if I'm gonna stand a chance...
He saw Anti-Smith doing something that the normal Smith would never do. Infuriated, the Anti-Smith was breathing raggedly and grinding his teeth hard enough to turn coal into diamond.
"You're isolated here, Mr. Archangel!" Smith bellowed furiously.
He pulled the knot of his tie down and let the piece of cloth hang limply around his neck, held in place by his ruffled, unbuttoned collar. It looked like a black priest's cloth.
"The nanomachines are going to be mine, Mr. Archangel, and there's not a damn thing you can do about it!"
Smith took his jacket off and threw it to his right, where it dissolved into the background of the long-emptied arena.
"Face it Mr. Archangel!" Smith taunted, unbuttoning his cuffs and rolling up his white shirt's sleeves. "You've lost the Rumble, you've even lost your body! Save me the trouble of having to rend your pathetic ghost from this archive!! Accept your fate and end this game!!"
Pride gasped for air. He clenched, and mentally he struggled to concentrate.
"Oh, determination! What a brilliantly delusional thing it is! Only a carbon-based life form would do something so poetic, so cinematic, at a time of their inevitable demise!"
Something was happening to the arena. Pride's eyes clenched shut, his teeth gritted tightly, he struggled mentally.
Smith saw portions of his hastily constructed arena begin to sear and reformat; portions of his green hue turned red, and his horizontal code was being overwritten with the red vertical zeros and ones of the Catalyst Operating System.
Smith realized what was happened; Pride himself was pushing his nanomachines to their limits, trying to break the walls of the arena.
Anti-Smith's strategy for assimilating the Catalyst OS into his code had been a smart one. Attacking Pride's nano systems on a digital level, Smith had used portions of Pride's own stored memory to create the arena and cage his nano ghost image inside. Cutting off the ghost from the rest of the system would make it impossible for Pride to escape...but somehow he was finding a way, his raw strength pushing the nanomachines as though they were his living mechanical servants. If enough of the shell arena was broken down, then Pride's nano ghost would be able to utilize his Catalyst abilities and even up the match.
Anti-Smith was awestruck with disbelief. Primitive Smith's files, detailed as they were, did not have even a remotely accurate reading on the Catalyst Phenom's level of raw power.
Then it is the code of Primitive Smith that will be on the front lines, Anti-Smith thought.
"Ahh!" Smith screamed, kicking Pride in his exposed ribs again. The Last Rider's ghost flew into the chain ring ropes, which came to life at Smith's will and wrapped around the Phenom, holding him in place while remaining attached to the turnbuckles.
Pride's arms were held up like the old wrestling stunts of the early nineties, stuck in a sort of full-nelson hold by the chains. He was helpless and Smith once again felt confident, leaning in close to the weakened fighter to again taunt and berate.
"You don't know what you are messing with, Mr. Archangel."
The chains tightened; Pride winced.
"I'm a whole new Smith, Mr. Archangel. Faster, stronger, better...and you...you're not even alive. I don't even know if your nano ghost here even counts as artificial sentience!"
Smith's huge hyena grin was less than a foot from Pride's grimacing, exerting scowl. He fought the chains but they held; he was in Smith's playground and it would not give unless he willed it. Pride's red silhouette glowed in stark contrast to the greenish tint of everything around him.
"You're nothing, Mr. Archangel. Zeros and ones; a pathetic backup disk of your former self. Your body, in all its mystic undead glory, has been destroyed, Pride...you're not even the real you. You're not a real anything."
"At least," Pride muttered, "I'm a backup of something that was real."
Smith's face frowned in an overly animated way. "Strong words coming from someone who's body was incinerated mere hours ago."
"Don't count me out yet," Pride shot back. "I've died already; resting in peace just ain't my style."
Pride grimaced hard and flexed his muscles against the green chains of the ring ropes. Ripples of matrix code shot through them as they began to give. The arena began to rumble, and again Smith saw the layered red Catalyst code overwriting portions of his construct.
Pride let out a long, winding cry of exertion, screaming loud enough to send a ripple of code throughout the construct as it lagged in recreating the sound's volume.
The chains began to ripple--
--Red sparks of energy began to shoot out of Pride's body in sporadic, distant flashes--
--the chains rattled violently now as Pride gripped them with his entangled arms and hands, pulling with all his might--
--shocks of red vertical code blasted along the length of the chains and finally--
--they shattered at the turnbuckles, pulled apart by Pride's powerhouse nano strength.
He got to his feet, and this time the pulses of Catalyst code on the walls did not fade. As triumphantly as their source had risen, the code had followed suit and overwritten portions of Smith's arena.
"No!! It's impossible!!!"
Pride grinned as his red code flickered and etched its way slowly over the ring in which they stood. The ropes slowly burned from matrix green to his catalyst red hue. Smith was stunned; Pride was not only attempted to break his quarantine, but convert the code used to build it!
"You made one mistake when you made this place, Smith--"
Gentle upward sparks of red graced the ring, now a squared circle of scrolling Catalyst code, glowing an unchallenged red in a deteriorating fortress of pale green.
"--This is MY ring."
And then, Anti-Smith knew that this fight had only just begun.
Smith, though your story was good for someone who writes in present tense, it badly lacks a good flow. A little more detail would help too.
Pride, not exactly the sort of material that you were pulling in the Rumble but it is still respectable. The flow was a little choppy in areas and your detail was fairly good. An interesting storyline has got you round 1.
Just when it seemed that Pride had the upper hand, he felt a sudden and miserable pain in his temples. Dropping to his knee, he clutched his head. "What the--"
"Ha!" Smith bellowed. "Your OS is too damaged. You've lost too many nanomachines, Mr. Archangel. You can't maintain your cellular structure backup copy AND overwrite my viral code at the same time. You mechanically are incapable of escaping this quarantine."
Smith stalked up to Pride, wily hyena-grin slapped on his face like a twisted new-age drawing. "You don't have the spare juice, Mr. Archangel...do you?"
A massive toe kick to the ribs sent Pride's doubled-over body flying into the far wall of the matriculated arena. He slammed hard, with no give; en route to the floor he realized it was hard to breath. Had he even needed to breath in his human/angel body? It seemed a faraway question.
He got back up to one knee and saw Smith in the center of the ring. He was standing still, cracking his neck. His feet had turned into some silverish liquid, oozing into the ring. Slowly, the ring's code changed, and soon the entire area was Anti-Smith's construct once more.
"Face it, Mr. Archangel. You can't win this fight." He stepped calmly down the stairs and toward the weakened Pride. "You'll either delete yourself in the process of defeating me, or you'll lose, and be assimilated into my Anti-Smith codebase. You don't even have a body to go back to. Save yourself the trouble and surrender--"
In a flash Pride had speared Smith, flying at maximum speed into the side of the ring apron. Smith's lower back jammed into the corner of the unyielding coded stone with a grotesque bend--accompanied by no crunch of bone, much to Pride's disappointment.
Quickly rising to his feet, Pride flung rights and lefts. Shorthanded blows that, at this extreme range, didn't stand much opportunity to be blocked.
Repeatedly Pride's massive fists collided with the sides of Smith's head and jammed into his ribs in a flurry, but Smith seemed to find it entertaining. Each blow, Pride realized, was actually DENTING Smith like some sort of...putty.
Pride continued the assault, sickened by the attack's effects, before finally connecting with a blow that actually got STUCK inside Smith's ribs.
"What the...what the hell is this!?"
Smith, not more than a foot away, laughed in Pride's face. Pride's hand was covered in cold, liquid metal. "I am a bit more...flexible...then my previous build was." He laughed that awful hyena laugh and Pride responded by mashing his remaining fist through his opponent's face.
Pride's fingertips reached all the way out the back of Smith's suddenly liquified head. The silverly glop grinned and within a moment Pride realized that he could free neither hand.
The metallic, glassy slime oozed around Pride, up both of his arms, reforming behind him into the shape of Anti-Smith. The liquid metal kept Pride immobile during the transference of Smith's matter, save for his arms being pulled behind his back.
When it was over, after a grand total of under 4 seconds, Smith was behind Pride and had him in a powerful and precise grip. He immediately began to violently smash the phenom's face into the harsh corner of the ring apron. There was no give, and Pride soon realized that his hands were still bound to Smith's midsection behind him--like a living pair of handcuffs.
His face hit the corner of the digital stone ring over and over, for what seemed like days. With his face smashed into oblivion, Pride could barely see or speak. He bled red code, spilling out of his nose and mouth in buckets.
Smith released the phenom and smiled as he attempted to turn and swing an awkward punch. Smith's liquidous form easily dodged any drunken swing that Pride threw, zipping across or around each blow like living water. His jackal laugh echoed through the quarantined construct, as appendages of liquid metal shot out and jabbed the dazed Pride at their leisure.
"I applaud your efforts, but as I said before...you're off your game, Mr. Archangel!" Smith solidified and landed a painful kick to Pride's chest, sending him flying into the far wall. The green matrix code rippled on Pride's impact, and then molded to imprison him by bracing his arms and legs.
Smith began to charge up, an aura of matrix code accompanying him. Ghosts of the original Smith--sunglasses and all--appeared in the flaring code.
Anti-Smith was powering up for a fatal blow; one with the force of all of the copied Smiths combined.
This backup copy was only digital in nature...and thus much weaker than Pride was accustomed to. It had been the powers of the Reaper, and the full force of the Catalyst nanomachines that had given him his near-invincible power in the physical world. Here, the best he could must was a pale facsimile of the nanomachine functions...at a pathetic fraction of the power.
"This game is done!"
Blasting through the air, Smith landed his right fist inside of Pride's chest, which shattered like glass. Red-hued Catalyst code flowed out of the wound like digital organs falling from their chambers.
Pride suddenly felt his nanomachine systems under siege. He was frozen in place, hanging on the wall in his digitized crucifixion. His last stand had been pathetic; he was almost glad that the reaper was too long gone to see it.
Smith's hand liquified inside of Pride's torso and began to seep through his body, no doubt preparing to patch the Catalyst OS code into his own twisted binary.
Pride could feel the cold steel oozing through his insides, a liquid-nitrogen cold that seemed to freeze his skin as it proceeded slowly and deliberately to the far ends of his appendages.
Smithg rinned as Pride remained on the wall. Digitally deceased, conscious but unable to even blink. The system had been too far compromised; he had lost too many nanomachines to keep any semblance of power.
The situation seemed hopeless. Anti-Smith had won.
Anti-Smith smiled and laughed like a would-be villian on some old horror television program. It echoed, that terrible hyena laugh...it echoed through the wound and rattled Pride's still-conscious remains.
Soon, all time stopped for Pride. Even Anti-Smith in front of him had frozen in place. The matrix code upon the walls and ring stopped scrolling.
Is this death, he thought? True death?
Another moment went by and he whole situation struck Pride with a fatalistc kind of irony. After all of the deaths he had experienced...the one that ended up being the most real and the most final...didn't even take place in physical reality.
Suddenly, there was an explosion from Pride's chest, blowing Anti-Smith across the arena and sending everything out of its suspened state of animation. The blast of light had filled the arena, tinting the bursts of matrix code with it's red hue.
Pride had been released by the wall, and had risen to his feet. The phenom moved his hands away from the wound in his chest, and revealed an immediate surprise to Anti-Smith:
Where the wound was, there was now bold matrix code running up and down through Pride's injury. In the code, a face appeared--a set of sunglasses and a smug grin that comprised the more traditional face of Primitive Smith.
"No!! What do you think you're doing, you incompetent!?!"
The smirking face in Pride's torso answered with earnest. "Patching a certain OS with Matrix code. What else?"
"You fool!! You'll revive him to full power!!!"
"...I know," Smith remarked with a wry smirk. "And I also know, that once I restore his damaged sectors...he's going to break out of this pathetic quarantine of yours and you will be completely alone within the Catalyst OS at full strength. HE will have YOU under quarantine. And when it's all done...Mr. Archangel is going to be very upset with you."
Anti-Smith was appalled. He had hunted the last of Primitive Smith for so long, he'd almost forgotten about him. And now, here he was--giving the assist to one of his most hated enemies, in order to see Anti-Smith obliterated!!
The Matriculated face of Primitive Smith receeded into Pride's torso, which soon was sealing with it's own red code. Primitive Smith had downloaded himself into the OS along the path left open by Anti-Smith...and now he had restored Pride's damaged Catalyst OS to maximum efficiency.
Pride's face shot up. His eyes rolled far back into his head as he stared directly at the furious Anti-Smith. A distant, distorted sound rippled the matrix code in the arena as it started to bleed with red Catalyst scripting once more.
His face twisted into an expression of distress unlike any that a human could manage. "No! NO!!"
Pride pointed at Anti-Smith, and then gestured with his thumb across his neck.
Anti-Smith, with horror, realized that the sound which had rattled their digital arena was in fact...the Reaper's Bell.
Primitive Smith, in the meanwhile, had downloaded himself out of the Catalyst OS during the patching process. It had taken a lot out of him to do what he had done, and he regretted it to a degree--what with saving the life of an otherwise indestructable enemy and all. But there was the rumble to consider.
Outside of this battle within a microscopic digitized landscape was the REAL Fight Club Arena in the physical world, where the other competitors of the Royal Rumble awaited the go ahead to continue the battle following the destruction of Pride. He knew what would eventually happen down the road...and he knew that he would be at fault. But if all went according to plan, two of his worst foes would destroy one or the other in the process.
And of course, he'd borrowed a bit of the Catalyst code for himself during the process.