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Dante's Abyss Spectators

#61
“...wait, wait, wait. You met Rock?!”

“No, no, no,” Mickey waved his hand in Blues’ face, ripping off another huge bite of turkey leg and gnashing down on it, “the Rock. Different guy. Not your brother.”

“Oh,” Proto Man nodded, his expression betraying the slight confusion that remained.

“Sure you don’t want any of this?” Mickey offered, swinging the leg in his best friend’s face. Grease splashed onto Blues’ trademark sunglasses.

“No, thank you,” he shook his head as he removed them from his face and wiped them off with his scarf. Mickey shrugged.

“Okay, your loss!”

He bit down again. The pair had huddled up in a corner of the preshow facility’s expansive lobby after finding each other again, determined to sit and wait until the mouse and Yu Kanda’s next opponent had been selected and announced. Before Mickey, the spoils of his recent, triumphant visit to Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson’s maze of sound-stages lay on a picnic blanket he’d conjured: a whole turkey, now missing a leg; several Tupperware canisters full of green beans, casserole, and mashed potatoes; a whole fish; and, of course, as a personal touch, a block of swiss cheese.

Mickey dug in. As per the wise words of Dwayne, he’d need all the energy he could muster for the next fight. Something told him it was going to be a tough one.

His best friend didn’t seem too worried.

“If you can beat Gilgamesh, I bet you can beat anyone,” the preteen machine surmised, leaning back on the bench above Mickey. He closed his eyes and replaced his sunglasses to block out the offensive fluorescents directly above him.

Mickey, mouth full of green beans, mumbled some words of thanks in response and then glanced up to the screens. The fights of the second round were coming to a close, slowly but surely, but there was still no word about who he and the Nippur guard captain would be up against. Images flashed across the screen, a few of them recognizable to the mouse. He spotted the green monster who’d gone on a rampage against them and killed Luffy shoving someone’s head into some lava -- Gosh forbid he faced him again -- and Sasuke Uchiha fall to the mysterious, creepy looking partner of the nameless Bandit.

Mickey blustered. So many good fighters here. How many of them would he have to get through to win? And did he even really want to? Sure, the prospect of testing his might and getting his strength back against of other Omniversians sounded fun, but only if the competitors weren’t going to take it real heckin’ seriously. Dante’s Abyss might not be the end all be all of terrible malicious deathmatch tournaments he’d once thought, but that didn’t mean people like the alien lady didn’t still treat it that way.

On another screen, another alien man Mickey didn’t recognize was launched into waters that seemed altogether similar to the tumultuous waves of the Vasty Deep he’d just left behind. His partner scrambled, caught off-guard by two women dressed in…

…Pepsi suits?

The mouse’s eyes narrowed and he sat the green beans down on his picnic blanket, taking a closer look, and suddenly recalled Dwayne mentioning a pair of lady jabronis who had taken Pepsiman’s spot as the official representatives of Syntech’s sister mega-corporation after Mickey’s refreshing friend had been utterly gutted minutes into his first match. The mouse king’s brain idly wondered how the guy was doing -- was he back in Coruscant, by now? Had he reincarnated at the Fountain of Infinity yet?

Wherever he was, Mickey was quite sure the corporate big-wigs of PepsiCo missed him, as these two sharp-featured women didn’t seem to share the mascot’s infectious charisma or natural charm. On the contrary, they seemed… kinda vicious, only confirmed as the remaining member of Team Bug Alien Man found his face being smashed in by a glass bottle of soda, courtesy of the grayish-haired woman.

Ostensibly the victors, the women were zapped out of their arena, the remains of their opponents left in their wake. The screen immediately flipped to a commentator and the two mysterious contestants’ pictures flashed on the screen. Their opponents -- 'Cell' and 'Ricter' -- appeared on the opposite side, their faces grayed out as they were shuffled off to the consolation bracket. In their place, the faces of the Pepsiladies’ next opponents slid onto the screen.

Mickey Mouse’s brow quirked as he found himself staring at his own cute mug.

His eyes immediately glanced down at the women’s names. Yuuka Kazami’s headshot flashed a sinister-looking grin over the lobby, and next to it, the shady lady’s signature scowl, labeled just underneath as ‘Whirda Windstrom.’

The mouse perked up. Whirda, Whirda, Whirda Windstrom… why did that sound like something he’d heard before? His face scrunched up as he reached back into the depths of his memory, but nothing major popped into his brain. Where had he heard that name before?

“Blues,” he glanced over his shoulder, “Blues, have we met someone named Whirda Windstrom before?” He was met by no answer as the preteen machine’s attention, in spite of the fact that he didn’t ever sleep, seemed to have drifted away to some certainly much less important daydream. Mickey turned around and poked his best friend in the side.

“Hm? Ow!” the robot protested, jumping back at bit. “What is it, Mick?”

“Who’s Whirda Windstrom? We met her?” the mouse asked.

Proto Man swiped his sunglasses off his face, his eyes widening. “Why?”

His mouth already chewing monstrously on his block of swiss cheese, he simply pointed up at the bracket screen, which had splayed the four primes’ faces above a line of text that simply read:

Mickey Mouse and Yu Kanda vs. Whirda Windstrom and Yuuka Kazami.

Blues went a tad bit pale.

“Well, shoot.”

Quote:Happy Facebook Friendaversary to Alex and almost three year anniversary to when Mickey and Proto Man met!
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#62
The woman weaved as subtly as she could through the corridors of Site 18, trying to avoid the group that she had brought along with her. She clenched and released her organic fist as she swept from corridor to room into backroom, each step another opportunity to be latched onto by somebody important. She couldn’t avoid being noticed, but she could at least avoid getting waylaid by a friend of over-eager camera crew.

She tried the handle to the small custodial closet, and it turned, just as she had been told. She slipped inside, hoping that the promise that it was a camera dead zone was true. In the darkness, beside the brooms and buckets and shelves, a shape loomed.

“You must have a fan,” a voice eked out, too soft to recognize.

The bandit squinted in the bleakness of that place, straining to identify whatever robed figure had lured her into the clandestine meeting. “Who the hell are you and what do you want?” she demanded.

The figure simply gestured to the shelves. On them, barely visible, were two items: a sheaf of paper attached to a kunai and the remains of a paper-white sword, broken mid-blade. “I went to great lengths to secure these from the battlefield after Karl shut it down. Several individuals could be fired, perhaps even killed, for this breach of contract.” The figures robes shifted, and the glint of a grin could be seen beneath. “You should take them. Don’t allow your supporter’s efforts to be in vain.”

Furrowing her brow, she retrieved the items, and attempted to tuck them away somewhere that they would escape immediate notice. “I guess I’m thankful,” she growled, “but that doesn’t really answer my questions.”

A low, throaty chuckle could be heard, the figure’s shoulder shrugging with each laugh. “For now you need only know that you have a supporter who knows how attached you are to your trophies.”

“And what do you want from me?” she reiterated.

“Only that you remember our generosity.” With that, a hand waved, and the creature vanished.

#63
Whirda blanched.

“Sit, sit,” the man with the lapel pin said, still chuckling.

No one else in the room moved a muscle.

Joviality giving way abruptly to icy hatred once more, the man’s face became a mask of fury. “I said sit!” he barked, and the room exploded into motion. Even Whirda, still stunned and trying to make sense of the last several minutes, eased herself gingerly off the table.

When everyone was seated, the man smiled. “Thank you. Now, back to business. As I said earlier, Ms. Windstrom, we are quite pleased with your performance in the event, aside from a few… less than enthusiastic references to our products. But if the viewers love you—which they do!—then we love you too. We do love Ms. Windstrom, don’t we everyone?”

The gathered executives murmured their consent.

As if just then taking notice of Whirda’s many scrapes and bruises, and the trail of blood droplets on the pristine tiles of the boardroom floor, the man with the lapel pin gestured to a woman at the other end of the table. “Margaret, can we get Ms. Windstrom an ice-cold Crystal Pepsi please? She’s looking a little banged up.”

“At once, Mr. Bepis,” the bespectacled woman replied, nervously sweeping a strand of sandy hair out of her face. She exited the room through the same door as Yuuka, returning shortly with a bottle of clear liquid emblazoned with the Pepsi logo. She placed it in front of Whirda without making eye contact and shuffled away.

Whirda looked from the bottle to the man with the lapel pin, still speechless from her encounter with the invisible barrier.

“Go on,” Mr. Bepis urged, still wearing his cheshire cat grin. “I trust you will find it an effective remedy for what ails you.”

Unwilling to incur the man’s wrath a second time, Whirda unscrewed the cap and took a long draw from the bottle, curling her toes so she wouldn’t wince openly at the sickly sweet flavor of its contents. Immediately, a profound warmth suffused her body and spread to her limbs, leaving a tingling sensation in her extremities. When she looked down, the wound in her thigh had closed and the bruises and scrapes on her exposed forearms were receding.

“That’s just a… taste… of what’s in store for you in the next fight.” Mr. Bepis interlaced his fingers and put his hands behind his bed, leaning back onto two legs of his chair, supremely amused by his own humor. “What we have planned for you two... it’s gonna catapult PepsiCo into the forefront of cool, refreshing beverages Omniverse-wide! Margaret, why don’t you take Whirda to the lab and begin the procedure?”

“Procedure?” Whirda blurted. “I don’t—”

“Ah, but you do,” Mr. Bepis said. “Or else.”

Margaret waited patiently while Whirda floundered for a response. In the end, she stood obediently, even offering Mr. Bepis a thin smile. Inside, though, the rage threatened to send her careening toward the smug executive once more. But Whirda Windstrom was no fool, and she never made the same mistake twice. No, her revenge on Mr. Bepis would have to come later. For now, she would play his mysterious game, and focus on the battles to come.

As she followed Margaret out of the room, she stepped gingerly around the body of the slain executive, whose blood had begun to pool beneath him on the tiles.
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#64
Ricter wondered aimlessly for a while, wondering what he should do, what they should be thinking about, the future. Multiple things kept him distracted and focused on what essentially could be the end after all this was done. He didn't mind losing, he had lost plenty of times before in little bouts with his friends back where he was from. It was just that he was getting tired of being useless, getting tired of not having the power to do much of anything as of late besides try his best to help others.

It was depressing being a handicap to someone else, it was disheartening to be nothing more than just a side kick, and now he felt himself wanting to do more, maybe even work towards actually improving on what he could possibly do. Maybe focus his abilities on things that aren't healing and medical work, but he didn't wish to change his identity and what he wanted to do for others.

His friend Vee always told him that others were selfish, wishing nothing more than to improve themselves in combat to better kill others, to rule over them and do what they could to hold said power. She saw him differently than other primes, the moogle could see the good he's done, the people that he's helped and protected. All in the name of just wishing a better life for those who've been injured in the past by evil creatures and monsters who take the form of humanoid shapes.

So he felt like he was at a small crossroads now, did he want to focus on improving his offensive power and aim to better harm others, or would he focus all his energy on helping those he has grown close too, wishing nothing more than to give them control over their lives. It was a hard choice, both having merits to them but he couldn't just keep losing, he wouldn't be able to even stop anyone from harming his friends if the stoat continued to fail.

Just as he rounded a corner however he soon bumped into a Syntech employee, they seemed to be happy to see him but he only spoke in a low tone, eyes darting away. "Sorry." He'd move around her. But she stopped him.

"Wait! Mr. Casenger, I have a letter for you."

The woman's words caused him to stop, making him turn around with lulled eyes before looking at the envelope in her hands and accepting it. He'd give a simple, "Thanks." Before turning around and leaving. Normally so chipper and so happy to be around others, he was now in a state of judging himself, as if what he was doing wasn't enough.

Ripping the top of the letter using one of his nails he opened it, folding the paper out to display the words on one side and reading them. What he read seemed to make his dull expression change into a more surprised one, it was a latter from Marisa. Kinda the only good friend he had around here, it would seem that she placed down her contact information and even where he could maybe find her later on.

This honestly made his gloomy mind set change to a more pleasant one, he had wanted to fight with Marisa because there was little stakes when it came to a 1v1. Plus he didn't feel so bad about losing to someone he knew, because its more fun this way, friendly matches between buddies didn't bother him at all but unfortunately he didn't get the chance. If anything he at least wanted to meet her again and they could do something together, like drink more of that sake stuff, or maybe train together.

The idea's that popped into his head just made his tail wag, making him smile and feel optimistic, but not towards this tournament, now he just wanted to get back home and possibly plan on visiting his friend. He could apologize to Cell about not being as strong, or as good at fighting as the bio-android was, but in the end there was very little he could do about that on his own.

He was still knew to all this, new to fighting Primes, and new to just bein here in the omniverse. He had no idea what he was doing, and now that he was being over looked by some powerful creature that looked everywhere, he felt it was necessary to learn. Yet, dantes abyss was probably not the place for him, and he realized that after just the first match. Would he want to return? Maybe not, though he felt he had learned a few things about himself and why he choose to come here.

This was a test, to see if he could at least stand up to those who have been here longer, who were stronger and more accustomed to the environment around them, all unique in their own light but held power in some regard. So the answer was nom, he couldn't, and I showed in the two matches he fought in. He didn't feel depressed any more in regards to Marisa's letter, instead he just accepted the fact that he wasn't the best, and probably would never reach the amount of skill, power, and over all ability that some others had.

Sure, he might seem depressed about that, but in a way he was just happy, he could leave all the fighting to everyone else, as he had done before. For him, he would focus just on helping other, curing secondarys of major illnesses, and ensuring those who he deemed as family and friend would never have to suffer at the hands of an illness again.

So as he placed the letter into his pocket for later he walked along, he held a smile, win or lose he felt like he knew himself. The weasel would stick with the half of him that enjoyed his job, enjoyed working to preserve life, and if he was eventually [pushed into a corner and forced into combat, he'd hope that he had the power to whittle whom ever he was facing down.

But that would be a worry for another time, right now he just hoped the next match would be over soon, so he could go home and do something he actually enjoyed. Besides, here he wasn't important, if anything this was just a waste of time and energy for a sport that someone else was getting rich off of. Ricter was better off being back at the clinic actually helping people, actually healing them and ensuring their wounds recovered over time, so this was his justification for why he felt this way.

"Thanks Marisa, I hope I can see you again soon."
Ricter CasengerPurchases LogATK: 1 • DEF: 7 • SPD: 3 • TEC: 3

#65
“I just can’t believe she’s actually here,” Blues continued, his mouth still slightly agape.

Mickey frowned. Basically every important prime in the Omniverse here, himself included this year. He’d spotted flashes of Gildarts, the muscle man who’d accompanied the Meshbrosia group in the sixth Dante’s Abyss; Deadpool was here, like always; and now, unsurprisingly to the mouse, at least, Blues’ friend was here. “Why is that such a shocker, bud?”

“I haven’t seen her, since… man, it’s gotta have been years, I guess. ” The Omniverse’s sense of collective time was a tad strange, but Mickey got the message: it had been a heckin’ long time since his best friend had encountered the mysterious woman. As Blues recounted the tale of he and the rogue’s kinda dark adventures, memories flooded back into the mouse king’s brain of when he and the preteen machine had first met. As he recalled, the pair had stumbled upon each other while Blues and Mireya were traveling to Yigg-dragons to deliver news of the end of the Blight, on behalf of his new opponent.

“Well,” Mickey grinned, “I personally can’t wait to meet this… Whirly Windlady. Any friend of Blues is a friend of mine!” Blues, for his part, seemed much less chipper about Whirda’s sudden reappearance. He stared in silence at the ground for several moments—thinking? Searching his databases? Having finished his gargantuan meal while listening to the story, the mouse dissolved the picnic blanket and joined his friend on the bench. “What’s wrong, pal?”

Blues frowned. “It’s just,” he started, looking sadder than Mickey had seen him since Belle’s death in the Hero’s Graveyard, “the last time I saw her… something was wrong. Very wrong. She was, I dunno, sick with something.”

Mickey scoffed a bit. “Well, whatever it was, can’t be as bad as something that makes you turn into an actual demon,” the king replied, thinking back to his unfortunate encounter with the Underverse’s mark on Gilgamesh.

Blues rolled his eyes, uncharacteristically dismissive of something Mickey viewed as a pretty potent thread. “Gilgamesh was a bad dude before,” the preteen machine shrugged, “and the Underverse made him more bad. We surprised, Mick?”

“I don’t think he was as bad as we think,” Mickey shook his head. “I mean—”

“Don’t start,” the Proto Man brushed Mickey away. “Don’t start trying to make me feel bad for Gilgamesh now.”

“I just think it’s worth talkin’ about,” the mouse turned away from his friend, unenthused by the boy’s tone. Whatever plagued Blues’ friend, it seemed to have consumed the kid’s mind, but Mickey couldn’t understand how it was more of a clear and present danger than an admittedly sketchy guy being possessed by a crazy powerful demon.

Heck, Mickey had barely escaped that first fight with his life. Certainly this next one wouldn’t be so dramatic.

He huffed. He didn’t have time to dwell on all this, anyway. His match would start soon, and he needed to prep. If he was gonna have any fun in this tournament, he needed to be on the top of his game—Whirly would probably be in tip top shape, given she’d just gotten finished knocking around the jabronis on Team Bug Alien Weasel Guys. Certainly the umbrella lady was nothing to shake a frickin’ stick at, either. Continuing to debate with Blues would be a distraction from getting ready, and probably put him in a sour mood, to boot. Neither of those was conducive to preserving Dwayne’s legacy, which he’d entrusted them with.

Mickey’s mind wandered to their private training session with the former professional wrestler.

“Just remember… it’s all about the People,” the Rock had said, echoing a life philosophy Mickey had held near and dear to his heart. “At the end of the day, anything you do, you do for them. Not for you—for them. The little guys out there watching.”

“Yes!” Mickey had exclaimed sorta without meaning to, just finding himself filled to the brim with a desire to second the Rock’s inspiring teachings. “The People are what’s most important, always. I’ve always believed that.”

Dwayne’s eyes flitted over to Mickey Mouse, and a hint of a proud smile crept onto his face. “You get it, little mouse,” he’d nodded, “you and the Rock are of one mind. Of one heart. You’re like the Rock, but… smaller.”

“Like a pebble?” Yu Kanda interjected sternly, clearly appreciating the Rock’s teachings but growing weary of the tired clichés.

“Yes,” Dwayne glowed, pointing a big finger at Yu Kanda, “you’re like… a pebble, Mickey. Small and unassuming, but with the right push you can cascade beautifully along the clearest waters.”

“Or kill someone,” Kanda added dryly, “if you strike them between the eyes.”

“...or kill someone,” Dwayne chuckled.

Back in the present moment, a silence had drooped over Mickey and Blues in the wake of their small tiff.

After several moments, the mouse king got up, determined to go prep for his fight against Umbrella Lady and Whirlygig Windgust.

“I gotta go, pal,” the king sighed, and the preteen machine turned back to his best friend.

“Knock ‘em dead, Mickey,” Proto stood to face his friend. “Well, not actually dead, but…”

“I know, Fella,” Mickey grinned. The pair of pint-sized primes stared one another in the eyes for a moment, and then the mouse pulled his best friend into a tight hug.

They closed their eyes, falling into the embrace, and for a moment, no one else existed in the world except the two of them. Seconds passed as all the other competitors and spectators floated away, as memories of Mireya and Minnie Mouse faded, and for all the world, Mickey couldn’t think of a single other friend he’d ever had besides Blues. They lived in this moment for what seemed like forever.

“I love you, Mickey,” Blues said.

“I love you, too, Blues,” Mickey replied. He squeezed harder.

“Tell Whirda I said hi, okay?”

Mickey’s eyes popped open as the entire Omniverse charged back into existence, Whirda Windstrom and Yuuka Kazami leading the pack.
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#66
Shantotto finally left the infirmary, feeling as good as could be expected, her desire to head back towards the spectating area was profound as she walked with purpose towards the monitors, her small stature did little to help her instead she simply gazed up, well aware of the strain being put on her neck by doing so.

Clad in brand new robes befitting one of her station she simply ignored members of the press who seemed to keep asking why the minute mage incinerated her opponent. She of course had little to say about the matter, as dwelling on the past and not preparing for the future was a recipe for disaster if not worse. The last of the second round fights was coming to a close, the loser of the current fight would be her foe, it was always good to understand one's opponent.

Even still the media refused to leave the mage alone.

"What else can you do?"

"How do you chain moves together like that?"

"Are you really part of New Babylon?" the hounds of the media were relentless, other contenders of course seemed to have their own concerns.

A groan erupted from the crowd as another match came to a close, one that her king was involved in. A man in little more than a jumpsuit and a boy who looked oddly familiar had killed the golden king's comrade and now her lord was kneeling before the two fighters.

CRACK!

a gunshot ripped through her king's head and he slumped lifelessly to the ground. a frown formed on the mage's face, the man was definitely not the most responsible lord, but a mage of Shantotto's caliber was not one who reneged on a promise, the mage glared angrily at the man in red issuing a challenge to the screen itself.

"Be it not hard to comprehend, by my spell and fire shall you meet your end." The black-mage seethed.

around her even the media seemed to take heed of the foul mood the mage was in leaving her alone to deal with whatever issues she had.

Another screen flickered to life showing her paper swordsman, and his partner the hand of the king Sasuke squaring up against Lord victor and some green creature, all standing around in the ruins of Nippur...

Whatever was about to happen was going to be spectacular.

#67
Well, it seems like everyone’s doing their part to pitch in. came the silky voice in Skeletor’s head. The malefactor almost seemed annoyed at Kuzuru for his help, but Skeletor wasn’t listening to it, his mind swirling with images of battle that were both utterly alien and intimately familiar at the exact same time.

“We’re up against a pair of hard-asses this round.” Kuzuru said, noting that his companion seemed lost in thought, “We’ve got power enough to beat them now, but it’ll take concentration too. Focused anger, not bluster, right?” he asked, though Skeletor only nodded in a distracted sort of way.

He taunts you. The orgosynth muttered in the back of Skeletor’s mind, His words speak of friendship, but you are only a tool for his conquest. Skeletor shrugged.

“A quid pro quo.” He responded. The revelation was nothing new to him. Alliances were formed from mutual benefit, and so long as the demon and Skeletor continued their victories he had no call to question his companion’s intent.

“I… not really?” Kuzuru said, confused by Skeletor’s answer, “Just don’t let them get in your head or nothing.”

“Of course not.” Skeletor snapped. The Orgosynth merely hummed. Skeletor strolled to the nearest data screen, gaze flashing over the list of upcoming matches. Though some matches of the third round had already started, it seemed their match with the Ass-kicker and the Queen of Blades was waiting for a more advantageous viewing period. Syntech wasn’t about to pass up a quarter final match with a poor timeslot.

“Kerrigan…” The warlock muttered, the mists of Darkshire reaching into his mind. To find her here, after that abysmal failure of an assault… Skeletor chuckled to himself.

Was it her fault? the Malefactor asked, that you lost in Darkshire, I mean.

“She certainly didn’t help.” Skeletor spoke irritated, then turned back to Kuzuru, the demon seemed to be watching him with an unusual expression. Skeletor couldn't immediately place it.

Jealous, perhaps? the Malefactor chimed, though Skeletor said nothing in reply.

“I am going to find this Queen of blades. She must account for the embarrassment of Darkshire.” He announced, and then strode off, leaving Kuzuru to watch his retreating form with pensiveness. The demon scratched the back of his head and gave an irritated sigh. So long as they kept winning.

---

Skeletor stormed through the hallway of station 18 with even more confidence than usual. He could feel the power in each footfall, in the stumbling of the reporters he shouldered out of the way as he passed. It was good to be back.

“Mr. ‘Tor! What is your response to allegations that your position in the quarter finals is only…” one of the bolder journalists began, but Skeletor ignored the bothan, spotting his quarry. Sarah stood outside the medical bay with the kind of casual menace that only a humanoid zerg could inspire.

“Kerrigan!” Skeletor shouted, striding forward. The queen glanced up, eyes narrowing as the warlock approached, “It seems you failed to conquer darkshire, even without any walls! So much for being the cornerstone of your army!”

“Skeletor. Last I heard you’d collapsed the tunnel on yourself and your men, without even beating the primes you were trying to kill.” Kerrigan replied evenly, though there was a dangerous gleam in her eye.

She doesn’t take you seriously. the malefactor purred as Skeletor bristled in outrage, Should you allow that insolence? a few cameramen had the foresight to catch the brewing incident on tape, as Skeletor ground his teeth.

“You hairless harpy! I will see your horde pays for this insult, down to the last eggsac!”
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#68
After leaving Blues behind for the moment, the only things Mickey wanted to do were go to the dojo and practice, or go to his room in the barracks and sleep. Instead, he got intercepted by some Dante’s Abyss interns and swept into a press room in front of a crowd of reporters.

“Excuse me, Mr. Mouse!”

“Mickey, welcome back to the tourney!”

“Are you excited to be one of the final twelve primes in the winners’ bracket?”

The mouse king’s eyes grew a bit wide and he leaned forward, tapping on the microphone to test it out before speaking. “Um, is that true, pal?”

An intern leaned forward and whispered in his big ear and confirmed that yes, in fact, he and Kanda had made it to the quarterfinals. While they’d been shuffled off to make commercials with Dwayne, a dozen fighters had been kicked to the consolation bracket. Now, in the blink of an eye, they’d somehow managed to get far enough into the competition to matter to journalists. In this moment, Mickey wondered if would’ve preferred to keep his anonymity.

After answering a few mind-numbing questions about the competition and dodging a few about the pair of women he and Kanda were up against, the gaggle of interns finally ushered him out from behind the podium and back through a door that, ostensibly, led back to the preshow facility proper.

What he found on the other side, though, was much more than he could’ve imagined.

“Oh gosh,” he muttered as he stared at the crowd of fans, being kept back just barely by one of those velvet rope thingies. He progressed down the makeshift red carpet, occasionally posing for a picture or signing an autograph for one of the many secondaries on the other side of the barrier. They clawed for his attention, as he was sure they clamored for any of the fighting primes that passed through -- and Mickey had to admit, the fame felt kinda vindicating.

Back on Cinnabon, the council of Pokepeople claimed they didn’t remember him. Since coming out of hibernation, he’d felt altogether useless. But now, in the span of one battle -- climactic though it may have been -- he seemed to have regained his magic. The Mickey Mouse of olden days, the one who’d swooped into Minnie Mouse’s castle and her heart all those years ago with his trademark charm, was making a comeback. And now, with Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson’s help, he was going to snag his former glory full force, and maybe help the former pro wrestler gain a little bit of his self-confidence back, too.

He continued down the line, signing and selfieing until he found himself looking up at a pair of big, slightly familiar blue eyes, about a half a foot taller than him.

“Mr. Mickey Mouse!”

Mickey blinked. “Little Susie?”

“Yeah!” the little girl replied. Her brunette pigtails bounced on her head as she shoved an autograph book in his face. She smiled a big smile, and Mickey wondered how she’d even gotten into this facility. She couldn’t have been more than ten years old, if that. Tentatively, he reached out for the book and looked at the strange doodles on the page of he and Minnie. He flipped to the cover to see their mugs staring back at him. Kinda creepy, but he took her marker and gave it the ol’ John Hancock nonetheless.

“My mommy brought me here after you beat that nasty king man,” she blabbered excitedly, “and she said we could come here and try and get your autograph and then sit somewhere around here and watch your fight on one of the big huge screens they got and…”

“That’s cool, Susie,” Mickey giggled, handing the autograph book back to the little girl and patting her on the shoulder. “I hope you’re still rooting for me!”

Susie beamed. “Oh, I am,” she nodded furiously. “You still got my keychain?”

Mickey’s brow quirked. That’s right! The lucky keychain she’d given him right before he signed up for this particularly weird iteration of the competition. He reached into his pocket and dug around, hoping past hope that it hadn’t fallen out at some point during his fight with Gilgamesh and Desman, and sighed the biggest sigh of relief when his four gloved fingers wrapped around it. He squeezed the thing, a smile forming on his face, and pulled it out, holding it up for little Susie to see. She bit her lip, clearly thrilled.

“Oh, yay!” she squealed, leaning over the barrier and once again wrapping her arms around Mickey Mouse. The murder of interns leapt into action, each grabbing a different limb of Susie and yanking her off the competitor, but rainbow energy swirled around the mouse’s hand and he gripped his keyblade, raising it to one of the intern’s throats.

“It’s okay, Fellas,” Mickey said, his eyes narrowing, “she’s good.”

One of the interns scowled, then signaled for his cronies to let the little girl go. Susie, whose positive demeanor had never faded even as she’d been manhandled, grinned at her idol as the group of young secondaries backed off.

“I’ll let you get back to your busy stuff, Mr. Mouse,” little Susie smiled, taking a step back. “Good luck in your next fight! Keep on winning, okay?”

Mickey nodded. “I hope so, kid. I hope so.” 

* * *

Eventually, Mickey Mouse escaped the horde of adoring fans and made his way back to his little mouse-sized bed in his room in the barracks, plopping down on it. Kanda would surely be back soon from his extra excursion with Dwayne, and when he arrived, the pair of heroic warriors would have to spend some time warming up for their fight against Whirlygig and Yuuky Kazoomba.

The mouse’s fingers twirled little Susie’s lucky keychain in his hand, tracing the plastic forms of himself and his wife, captured from back in their prime. Back when they’d had no worries. He missed that time, and he missed Minnie. No matter how fun this competition got, he still couldn’t wait for it to be over, if only so he could see his lady love again. Something told him a time was coming when he wouldn’t see her nearly as much as he wanted to, and he wanted to try and get a visit in while he could. Besides, she needed to see Blues again now that they’d been reunited!

As he played with the keychain, his eyes trailed to the end of his bed, where the box Karl Jak had brought to their trailer sat. The Syntech logo printed on the outside betrayed the corporate showboating of this event, and for a moment, it struck Mickey just how much he was playing into it, now that he’d come around and didn’t think it was absolutely the worst thing in the entire Omniverse. He sat up, and crawled the length of his bed down to the container and slid off the top. The contents remained pristine.

His eyes flitted up to the door. Any minute now, the stern-faced exorcist would walk through that door and they would suit up for the next fight. What would come next? Their destiny, he guessed, whatever that may be. Whatever it was, he hoped it’d make Dwayne proud.

And he hoped it’d make little Susie smile.
[Image: 2agonyw.png]

#69
It was quiet and worst of all boring without her not-quite-kids.

With a disgruntled sigh, Yuuka stared at the ceiling of her bedroom. Not sleeping. So she turned over and over and over again. Tossing the covers this way and that.

She was in bed, but certainly not resting.

Instead she stared at the child-sized shirt she had jokingly bought for Clownpiece, left untouched on her dresser. The fairy had caught bad luck early on, being pitted against such opponents- Yuuka couldn't begrudge her that. But it was annoying of her to have gone and died before she could even partake in these sweet free promotional items. It was almost as painful as her battle wounds for Yuuka to know she would have to wait to see if her clown daughter could possibly look any stupider in a cola-branded tee shirt than she did in an actual clown outfit. Wait more than a week, even- fairies usually reformed in mere hours, if not minutes.

Absolutely crushing.

How would she ever find out if this branding looked as unanimously atrocious on every living creature as it did on her?

...Yuuka Kazami took her sponsorship deals VERY seriously.

It wouldn't be inaccurate to say she thought of the whole Pepsi branding as merely an additional challenge to add to the little death game shindig. Like fighting with her eyes closed, or with an arm tied behind her back. A flat out death match was too easy, anyway. And boring. She could get a plain one anywhere- especially somewhere like here, where the stakes were infinitely lower for most of the population. The fairies had proved long ago that without the stakes of death, there wasn't much point not getting yourself killed over every little thing.

Well, that certainly sounded more romantic, in a way.

She was about halfway back on the thought train to just wanting to be asleep for once when the sharp knock on her door rang out.

...Not like she was getting any sleep anyway.

So she pulled herself from bed, exhaustedly ambling her way towards the door. With a tired smile as she cracked it open just a touch, she managed, "sorry, no pictures after midnight."

The PepsiCo. employee at the door blinked, clearly not in any sort of mental state to understand that attempt at humor. "Uh..."

"Kidding. Get it over with."

"Right." He cleared his throat. "You're needed in the labs as soon as possible. Further explanation will be provided onsite."

With a quiet sigh and without even thinking to change into her normal clothes, Yuuka stepped forward and out of the room, tossing her arms behind her head as she followed. "Ah, I really should have added a part to that contract about overtime..."
[Image: QlU6gj3.png]
Yuuka Kazami Wrote:Do you think Yuuka *aims* the Master Spark? No. She decides which half of the world she wants to fuck.

#70
“That’s how you do a victory,” Violet proclaimed triumphantly. Her adrenaline was higher than the sky and even her post-battle wounds didn’t hurt as much as they should have.

“We still have a few more bodies to get through before we get to the end,” Zedd reminded her gruffly. “Now, do you want to tell me what the hell happened back there?”

Her smile faltered, arms dropping to her sides. “No idea what you’re talking about.”

“The other fucking guy, dimwit.”

“Oh.”

“How the hell did he get in there?”

Violet shrugged. “How am I supposed to know?”

“Sure as hell wasn’t one of my imaginary friends.”

Sighing, Violet shot Zedd a heated look before moving past him, spying the med bay down the concourse hall. Everything was starting to hurt.

“Don’t walk away from me,” Zedd snarled. “Who the fuck is Bardock?”

“My ex,” She threw flatly over her shoulder. “He’s been dead for over twenty years.”

“Seems he’s a little less dead than you thought.”

“You think?” Violet spun around, surprised to see that her partner was keeping step with her. “I’ve tried to move on and put him out of my fucking head for years. How am I supposed to know when he’d pop up from wherever the hell he is at now to give me a fucking pep talk?”

“Maybe keep your crazy down a few levels.” Zedd looked introspective. “Strange coming from me, come to think of it.”

“I’m not crazy,” Violet said defensively.

Zedd looked at her, deadpan.

“I’m not!”

“I hope we never have to be in the same head again.”

“Same,” Violet spat back, and headed towards the medical facility.
[Image: visig2018.png]

#71
Valarie ran through the halls, attempting to find her father again before the next round started. She was hopping with excitment over his win, but found herself being nearly trampled byt the dozens of reporters looking for their next paycheck by getting interviews with every prime that walked past them.

"Get out of my way!"

The small girl thrashed about but nobody seemed to give her any mind, once she eventually found herself at the infirmary, she looked up at a screen to see that her father was already in his next battle.

"God fucking dammit!"

A few glaces her way like last time. Well, this time she would stay by the infirmary and wit for her father. For now, she would watch and cheer him on.

#72
The dark king let himself fall out of his form as Jak walked out into the preshow staging area more than a little tired out.

“Ugh.. What the hell happened?”

Not long before Daxter came to try to cheer him up or even cheer him.

The eco warrior looked bruised pretty bad but winced a bit as the ottsel hopped on the man’s shoulder armor pad. Daxter smiled yet seeing Jak wincing and in other words he felt bad.

He had done it. He had taken out Gildarts and the other woman with one powerful blow after Ash had somehow taken the blow for the man instead.

The reporters and fan club had stuck microphones in Jak’s face as Daxter did the same “HEY BACK OFF! Can’t you see Dynamite Kid needs some breathing room!”

But the reporters were excited and wondered how he and Ash did it, they had defeated the strongest prime and their partner.

Jak wasn’t proud of it. Of course it had been legendary but the hurt inside outweighed the outside.

The eco warrior finally sat down on a hospital bed and grabbed a Senzu bean, quickly chomping it.

But something was odd.

Daxter pointed out a sign on the tournament bracket and there had been a disappearance in Ash’s name.

Jak stepped up almost immediately and blinked ‘ASH?!”

He turned to the door, slightly worried once again.

His partner had disappeared on him. But something else had changed.

The name changed to Amber and him instead of the usual partnerining.

The dark king stood up, the crown decorated with eco gems moving on his head as he looked out at the Nobel hero.

“Ash disappeared.”

The Nobel angel turned to the Dark King and frowned “Not again.”
[Image: oNAS6Nu.png]


[Image: Darkdata.png]Jak/Mar- Dynamite Kid/ DA 2018" (Translated text)[Image: hVDTXBF.gif](Thanks Ezzy!)


#73
The furry ottsel found himself sitting all alone in the spectator room. It was really quiet to say the least, even though he had still seen Ash not too long ago before she had left the arena area.

Sure the tvs still were blaring and the fights were still going on, but the ottsel felt like he had less friends surrounding him to watch his buddy on tv.

He still wondered if Ashelin was around to bother a bit before realizing she was in the desert looking for Damas.

The ottsel toyed around with his own personal device and tried to call anyone on his buddy list.

Let’s see here:

Buddy List:
Ash-

Heeyyyyyy babe… it’s me, Daxter thought I’d say hi for a bi-

Leave a message at the voicemail.

Daxter sighed “Oh man, she’s not there.”

Demetri- Leave a message at the tone

The ottsel sighed and looked through the other phone numbers Jak had listed.
[Image: oNAS6Nu.png]


[Image: Darkdata.png]Jak/Mar- Dynamite Kid/ DA 2018" (Translated text)[Image: hVDTXBF.gif](Thanks Ezzy!)


#74
Mickey Mouse’s eyes snapped open.

He let out a hungry growl as he leapt from the bed, clambering onto the fluorescent lighting fixture hanging from the ceiling and letting out a feral yelp.

Down below him, doctors and nurses scrambled.

“Oh shit, he’s awake—”

“What the fuck is happening?!”

“Someone get him down!”

Mickey roared at the crew of medical professionals, barely-used claws poking out of the fingers of his gloves and swiping towards them. Then, a sedation dart stuck in his neck, and he fell.

He slammed down on the bed with a springy plop, looking over toward the door and seeing the purple-suited producer holding onto a tranq gun.

“Just add pest control to my ever-growing list of titles,” Karl Jak rolled his eyes. “Now, someone take this stupid thing and leave your Khaleesi alone with his little dragon.”

One of the nurses took the gun from the producer’s hand and then, silently, hurriedly, they departed the room. Karl Jak lit a cigarette and walked casually over to the stool next to Mickey’s bed as the mouse seized. He took a long, patient drag, until finally the King’s shaking began to subside.

“Okay,” he sighed, “here’s where we’re at—”

A pounding on the windows called Karl Jak’s attention. Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson stood on the other side of the glass, yelling something inaudible, probably a noble defense of the mouse’s honor. Karl flicked his chin and metallic blinds dropped to block them from view.

“As I was saying,” he smirked in Mickey’s direction. “Your partner’s dead. Your ratings dipped after the girl died. You lost to Ass Kicker and that crazy bitch… Mickey, things aren’t looking too great.”

Mickey tried to scream something defiant at Karl, but all that came out was a feral roar.

“Well, good to see you’ve still got your fighting spirit,” Karl shrugged. “I appreciate you, you know. For a second, I thought your little hero act was going to work. The ratings were on your side, and hell, if that little girl hadn’t gone and died, you’d probably have made short work of the rest of your competitors.” He pursed his lips.

“You’re a fighter, Mickey,” Karl nodded, clapping his hands in what Mickey thought was the most patronizing manner he could’ve imagined, “but you don’t fight hard enough. Heroes don’t just stop because people die. Kami, shouldn’t that motivate you more?!”

He laughed. “Sarah Kerrigan is a literal cold-blooded killer,” Jak mused, “and you held back on her because she was paired up with your ‘pal,’ and because you were sad. Is that any way for a hero to act when faced with an actual, legitimate bad guy?

“Fuck. No.”

Karl giggled. “Now, I know this must seem silly to you,” he waved the cigarette, “me of all people—Karl Jak, the evil figurehead of the actual supervillain of the Omniverse, capitalism! Ha ha ha—to be instructing you on how to be a hero, but Mickey… you have to understand, I’m not a villain! I’m an… author. I’m here to take you measly know-nothings who wander around this Kami forsaken multiverse just waiting for the next interesting thing to happen and craft you a real narrative. A story, a… life, if you will, that you can be proud of.”

He paused to take another drag, and in the silence, Mickey found his voice again.

“I don’t… need you… to tell my story,” he groaned.

“Oh, and that’s where you’re wrong,” Karl hissed. “You don’t know what you want, mouse. You’re a maudlin fool searching for ‘truth and justice,’ whatever that means. But… since I like you… I’m going to help you.”

Mickey’s eyes went wide as all his muscles, especially his heart, felt like they were being tugged out of his body. He screeched.

“Shhhhh,” Karl smiled, “my doctors were able to repair any physical damage the toxins from your last arena might’ve done, but the mental scarring is beyond their capabilities. You see, that sludge you willingly threw yourself into is what’s called fear toxin, Mickey. And very fortunately, you’re just broken enough that you were very susceptible to it.”

Karl stood. “In a matter of minutes, the mental shift should be complete,” he chuckled giddily, “and you should be poised to become the Murdermouse we’ve all always known you were destined to be.” The violet-suited man turned away, and sauntered towards the door. “Sayonara, sucker.”

Karl’s slender fingers approached the button to open the door when a high pitched squeak called out to him.

“Say, my motherfuckin’ pal,” Mickey Mouse sat up, “can’t a Fella get a goshdamn drag of a cig around her?”

Karl Jak turned around.

Gloved fingers were outstretched, waiting expectantly for their prize.
[Image: 2agonyw.png]

#75
So, the glorified tin can wanted to know about the Underverse. Violet sighed with amusement, a light smirk playing across her lips as the water fell across her pale face. The warm water felt fantastic as she stood beneath the shower head, washing away the dirt and blood, but no matter how long she stood there, she couldn’t wash away everything. Some things even soap couldn’t get rid of.

He wanted to be the strongest, the most feared being in all the realms, dreamed of beating Diablo and usurping his throne. She laughed at his foolishness. If he only knew, that poor bastard. She hadn’t given him any details, yet, but perhaps after all of this was over, she’d humor him with some of the shit she’s seen. Surely, watching people fight to the death for the amusement of their masters was polite dinner talk, yea?

Mulling over just what she would say to him filled her thoughts as she finished her shower, and soon enough, she was wrapped snugly in a warm towel and sitting on the edge of her cot, rubbing lotion over her legs. The cherry scent wafted to her nostrils, and she inhaled deeply its sweet, robust scent. It was one of her favorites, and was thrilled that the commissary stocked it, so she had to pick up a bottle.
Zedd was her means to an end, but it appeared her quarry was eliminated before she could get to him. It didn’t surprise her that such an inept peon such as himself was taken out before the finals, but she had to admit, she felt a little cheated. This would have been a great opportunity to get him where he was easy to nab, but she supposed she’d have to do it the old fashioned way. More’s the pity, at least if she hunted him down outside of the Abyss, she could banish his ass into oblivion. He’d never escape hell, and that was a satisfying enough prospect. If she could find a way to contact Nathaniel, perhaps she could put a little bug in his ear and have him give Victor some extra special treatment.


After the last bit was rubbed in, she quickly dressed and crawled into bed. Her data device was charged and she was ready to go to down on the messageboards and the internet. She’d taken an interest in browsing the randomness that was OmniReddit, and the many, many cat subs it contained. When the screen bonked her in the face, she realized she’d fallen asleep, and tucked the device away under her pillow. Tomorrow was another day, and another fight. Best to get her beauty sleep. She hoped Zedd felt the same, although she doubted very much about that beauty part.
[Image: visig2018.png]



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