GM: If I ever try to do something like this again, shoot me.
The organisers have set up an arena near the Laguna complex.
Hero Shrew: Right, where we had the zombie problem.
GM: It was two zombies!
Hero Shrew: Two zombies are still a problem!
Fireflash: He’s not wrong.
GM: They weren’t even the kind that bite and turn you!
Hero Shrew: I’m still not convinced about that - we just didn’t let them bite us.
Flux: He’d better stay away from my lab, is all I can say
Makoto warns us not to mess things up - not only will it reflect badly on her, but we’ll annoy some very capable fighters, and the organisers of subsequent invitationals.
Makoto: Aw, DD wasn’t invited this year? That’s so disappointing!
Hero Shrew: … Doctor Destroyer?
Makoto: No, Disco Dude!
She is shocked to see Bobby Coffin among the contestants - he got caught using drugged boxing gloves in a match last year, went he one-punched his opponent and the referee fell unconscious when he lifted Bobby Coffin’s hand to announce the winner.
Allana: He was probably framed, because putting contact poison on your gloves when you gaurd your face with the same gloves is just retarded.
01 - Lu Deng (Danny Lu) - Kung Fu w/ Flaming Ki powers and abilities similar to "The Glow" of Bushido's higher-ups. Owner and Proprietor of the Eight Lanterns Chinese Restaurant in San Francisco.
02 - Makoto - Shorinji Kempo w/ Psychokinetic abilities. Three time champion of the Valhalla Invitational.
03 - Manni - Personal System (A mix of Parkour and Capoeira). Brazillian fighter with a knack for spotting an opponent's weaknesses.
04 - Sunblade - Personal System (A mix of Krabi-Krabong, Muay Lert Rit and Shotokan Karate). Canadian fighter of mixed Japanese and Thai decent.
05 - The Paindancer - Professional Wrestling. Dirty fighter and general jerkface.
06 - Junzo Izumo - Sumo. Disgraced Sumotori w/ gambling problem.
07 - Tabytha- White Tiger Kung Fu w/ Pyrokinesis. Tiger Moreau.
08 - Winter - Obscure but vicious style. "Wolf Moreau"
09 - Bobby Coffin - Personal School of Boxing. Disgraced Boxer.
10 - Elliott Espinosa - Western Kickboxing. Fun-loving Florida lad with an interest in occult mysteries.
11 - Green Dragon - Kung Fu. Martial Arts Supervillain.
12 - Shogun - Personal System (Gingaken). Leader of the Zone Gang, Bushido, and master of "The Glow".
13 - Fang - Snake-style Kung Fu. Mysterious warrior in identity-concealing costume.
14 - Rikki - Mongoose style. Member of Project Mongoose to boot.
15 - Zack - Savate w/ minor telepathy. Moreau Honey Possum. (?????!!!)
16 - Ghost Shadow - Taijustsu. Weeaboo and Ninja of the Six Teens.
There’s a couple of names in the line-up we recognise, including the current leader of the Bushido gang, and Ghost Shadow, one of the Six Teens.
Fireflash: Hey, it’s the weeaboo.
Makoto: PLEASE DON’T MESS UP THE TOURNAMENT.
Hero Shrew: If we run into him we’ll just say we’re after the dangerous people.
Flux intends to hold up a Bring Back Naruto sign whenever Ghost Shadow is in the ring.
One of the competitors is a honey possum Moreau.
Green Dragon: and Lu Deng are not matched against each other, which is just as well since Lu Deng is dating Green Dragon’s sister, and she’s in the audience, regardless of what Green Dragon thinks about THAT.
One of the first matches is Manni vs. the disgraced sumo.
Manni: Come on, you fat freak!
Manni is promptly flattened, pinned, and sat on. Unsurprisingly, Makoto deals with her opponent, Fang, with her first combo move.
GM: Honestly Fang had no right to be in this tournament.
Allana: And he’s up against the three-time champion.
GM: He never should have got an invite.
Hardlight: We’re in the audience, right? In our heroic identities?
Allana: Somebody choke him out, because he’s thinking of something and it won’t be good.
A surprise development in the Lu Deng vs. Bobby Coffin match - Bobby’s junkyard boxing style nearly punches the flame-blasting Kung Fu master out of the ring.
Lu Deng: THIS is how you throw a punch! *flaming overhead strike*
Bobby Coffin: *blocks the strike easily* And this is how you block one.
Lu Deng: I should stop announcing my strikes.
GM: At least Lu Deng didn’t set the ropes or mat on fire.
Hero Shrew: Seriously, Bobby needs to dunk that guy in the water bucket when he’s done.
Flux: Hardlight is taking notes.
Lu Deng: *leg sweep!*
Bobby Coffin: Too slow!
Lu Deng: 0_0
Green Dragon: from the Peanut Gallery: That’s what you get for dating my sister!
Lu Deng: Fire Sphere!
Bobby Coffin: Head Butt!
But Lu Deng manages to win anyway. Nonetheless, observers were deeply impressed by the junkyard boxer’s performance - that boy is going to be one to watch, next year.
Four of the members of Quadrant know that Winter is actually a werewolf, and not a Moreau. Allana can smell he isn’t.
Ghost Shadow gets knocked down in the first seconds of his match too, vs. the kickboxer. Ghost Shadow forgot to put his shadow field up, fast enough.
Allana: He got stuck in a martial arts arena, and reverted to using his martial arts training instead of his ninja skills.
GM: Ghost Shadow has ambivalent opinions about murder, so...
Espinosa: Shadow Powers? Neat!
GM: OK, so now he won’t be using the Killing Attack.
Espinosa: *spin kicks Ghost Shadow in the head*
Allana: Ghost Shadow is going to be annoyed when he wakes up. His opponent just ran up, tackled him into the turnbuckle, LET HIM GET UP, and then kicked him in the head.
GM: Eh, sometimes you lose in a sports match. He’ll understand.
Hero Shrew: Paindancer? Better known as Edgelord?
GM: No, he’s actually a professional wrestler, with the whole Heel persona.
Paindancer: ARE YOU READY FOR THE PAAAAIIIIINNN!!!!
Hero Shrew: I see what you mean.
Paindancer gets blinded by a flash attack from Tabytha:, and nearly manages to take down the tiger Moreau anyway.
Tabytha:: Jesus! This guy is actually good! I thought wrestling was fake!
Paindancer: Argh, AIEE, I’m blind! *melodramatically staggers*
Allana: Yeah, that flash attack just wore off.
Tabytha:: Well I’m not going to trying a flying kick NOW. *fireballs him*
Paindancer: *still conscious*
Commentator: **** me!!!!
Paindancer: I’m half tempted to grab a folding chair.
The Shogun concedes defeat after the first few rounds of his match, when he realises how badly outmatched he is.
Shogun: I give! The Shogun concedes!
Hero Shrew: What’s Project Mongoose?
Allana: Nighthawk’s anti-COBRA team.
GM: Yes, the totally-not-COBRA-please-don’t-sue-us-VI
Green Dragon: *assumes Tiger stance*
Allana: That’s racist - there are actual tigers in the room.
Green Dragon: also grapples his werewolf opponent by both arms. Just as well the werewolf fails to bites his face off.
Hero Shrew: If he’s silly enough not to realise there are THREE dangerous parts of a werewolf he deserves everything he gets.
Green Dragon: then throws Winter out of the ring, and again every time the werewolf jumps back in.
Hero Shrew: Are we sure he isn’t a sumo wrestler?
Green Dragon’s biggest problem is he can’t really hurt the werewolf badly, or hold him down - so he has to keep trying to get the werewolf out of the ring. Difficult when the werewolf is biting one arm and trying to twist the other off. All a little embarrassing when Winter is the hacker of his pack. But the third ring-out is enough to do it.
Flux: *to Winter* Congrats on being the only contestant who wasn’t just punched out.
Green Dragon: I hate Brickettes.
The honey possum is matched against the mongoose fighter.
Zack OoC: Side Kick. Appropriate for the genre.
The honey possum loses, badly.
Zack OoC: *sigh* back to living under a bridge again.
Hero Shrew goes to have a chat with the honey possum after the day winds up.
Hero Shrew: Well, there’s always next year.
Zack: *still looks unhappy*
Hero Shrew: Let’s hit the food hall. My treat.
Zack: *cheers up*
It’s entirely likely Gareth Lowell can find a job for Zach somewhere in his organisation.
Hardlight: The only difference between me and a hobo in a cardboard box in Edge City is Opportunity.
Fireflash goes over to congratulate the weeaboo on his match. The rest of the Six Teens are there too, as his +5. The leaders stop the rest of the team from starting anything.
Titania OoC: Well I’m glad we’re going by the unspoken assumption that this is neutral ground - because Quadrant have two Bricks now.
Sunblade vs. Espinosa - this much goes one much longer than the others, largely because both opponents are fighting defensively. At least until Espinosa reveals he has superpowers too.
GM: And the commentators go nuts.
Makoto vs. Junzo Izumo - Makoto: Oh come on, my usual move is to punch them into the air then out of the ring. And you expect me to do that to a Sumo?
Hero Shrew: It’s a danger to the audience, that’s for sure
And a surprise result here, or maybe not given Makoto’s objection above - the three-time champion just got eliminated. She’s not happy, but not surprised. This was the first year the organisers installed kinetic dampeners around the ring, largely because Makoto used to telekinetically slap her opponents into the audience.
Allana: Izumo’s probably going to win this tournament.
Hero Shrew: He’s got great defenses, that’s for sure.
Allana: He’s slow and he can’t move for shit, but you’re stuck in a small ring with him.
GM: In an open fight the other opponents might do better, but… actually, there’s still a few who can deal with him - the hodoukenists.
Tabytha: vs. Green Dragon: - this should be interesting. Green Dragon: is a racist misogynist Chinese Supervillain, and Tabytha: is female, not Chinese, and not human.
Green Dragon:’s Player: At least I don’t mind losing this round - he’s an arsehole.
Green Dragon: gets one hit in, and the Moreau flame-punches him into the floor.
GM: And that’s Green Dragon: out. Yay!
GM: We might be playing in a comic book universe but it’s not Watchmen. If it WAS, Allana would be running a massage parlor out the back of her clinic, Scooter would be a coke addict, Hardlight would be a self-hating gay with daddy issues, Fireflash would by the Innocent To BE Corrupted, and Flux would secretly be in charge of Dysprosium Dawn. Alan Moore is never writing this one.
Hero Shrew OoC: Moore or Millar?
GM: What the hell, they collab.
Lu Deng (Danny Lu) vs Rikki - Shaolin Dragon Style Kung Fu vs. Mongoose Style.
GM: Hmm. A lot of Kung Fu fighters made it through to the second round.
Allana: Good idea to match them against each other now so the final round isn’t just Kung Fu vs. Kung Fu.
Hero Shrew: So he fights like a mongoose? Goes for the neck and eats his opponent’s children?
At one point, Lu Deng manages to get Rikki on the ground and attempts to axe kick him, which Rikki barely manages to block. Green Dragon: starts screaming from ringside, in fluent Chinese.
Green Dragon:: You are scum! You are dishonorable scum! You should forfeit now!
GM: This is a formal tournament, after all - if there anywhere to fight honorably, this is it.
Hero Shrew: And this is a supervillain telling you off. He might be a prick, but in this case he’s a prick with a point.
GM: He is an honorable fighter - it’s one of his faults. And the reason he doesn’t wear body armour.
Lu Deng: What does a fake Chinese like you know about honour anyway?
GM and most of the audience: Oh shit.
Green Dragon: *goes very still, gets up, and leaves the arena*
GM: He knows you’ll be leaving the tournament sooner or later.
The match is another upset - after a long exchange of falls, kick, fireballs, dodges, grapples, and throws, Rikki eventually grabs Lu Deng by the ankle and flings him out of the ring for the third time.
Tabytha: vs. Junzo! The tigress wins this one - our GM was right about a hadoukenist having an edge of the sumo.
GM: If Makoto hadn’t been eliminated, the Flash trick wouldn’t have impressed her. ‘Yeah, cute, I can still feel where you are. Nice tits BTW.”
Rikki vs. Sunblade! - A narrow win by Rikki!
So it’s the flame-juggling tiger-Moreau vs. Sunblade for the finale match of the tournament. Sunblade would probably be curb-stomped in this match… but the Fang hands her a set of goggles and says ‘wear these’, so she actually lasts a few rounds. Tabytha is the champion!
Hero Shrew OoC: Hopefully this round won’t be advertised as girl-on-girl action.
GM: And this is Pastor Doug, a snow leopard Prostestant.
Screen: *close-up crotch shot*
Flux OoC: Not the kind of close-up we want of a priest.
GM: For the third day they’ve got some music in - the industrial rock band Second Pretence. The name comes because in her first band, the bassist fatally stabbed the drummer. On stage.
Of course, there’s still that gang of exo-boxers that Quadrant are here to harass.
Fireflash: I should probably not tag along for that - I’m too conspicuous, even when I’m not using my powers.
GM: So are the two Moreaus. In fact when people see Allana they can’t drag their eyes away.
Hero Shrew: She has gravity powers the same way Gravitar does.
GM: For all they know, you’re here to recruit the freak that just won the main tournament.
From the pitch of the exo-suit engines, Allana guesses that they have an overdrive system, and a higher potential energy output than they’re using.
Allana: They were probably hoping for better batteries.
Allana can also hear a second ultrasonic whine, but she’s not sure where it’s coming from. There are also another observer hanging around taking notes, and talking in unaccented English. COMPLETELY unaccented English.
Hero Shrew: Just like normal Hu-mans.
They seem to be more interested in the fighters outside of the ring, then the actual matches.
Allana: Might be recruiters for the Warlord or something.
One of the other exo-suit fighters, not a Park Front Dragon, hasn’t had to change the batteries in his suit all day. That’s pretty impressive. The PFD are having to change their batteries more than anybody else, and it doesn’t help that half their members are quietly leaving the venue as soon as they notice we’re hanging around. Allana and Flux scoop them up as they leave, since they’re not bright enough to leave in multiple directions. Their leadership, on the other hand, seem to be more intelligent, since they’ve managed to vanish while we weren’t looking, leaving their exo-suits parked in a corner. Hardlight realises we haven’t checked for utility tunnels under the venue.
As it turns out they’re all out on the dance floor.
Hardlight: Dance-off time!
Flux: Are you serious?
GM: You can also see the Six Teens, cutting a rug.
Hardlight: Hey Fireflash, can you get out there too and distract them with your dancing?
Fireflash: Let me explain why that won’t work, in short words you will understand - Geek.
Hero Shrew: I could go out there and distract them.
Hardlight: Can you dance?
Hero Shrew: Nope. But I’ve watched lots of lapdances.
Hardlight does have something of a self-esteem problem. Despite being handsome, fit, and well-coordinated, he spends a lot of time around actual superhumans, who are enough to make anybody feel inadequate.
Hero Shrew OoC: Of course if somebody DOES challenge me to a dance-off I do have that ‘Can’t turn down a Challenge’ Psychological Limitation.
GM: I challenge you to a Bake-off!
Allana: ‘Okay.’ *drags challenger into an oven to see who lasts longer* ‘I think you have misconstrued the nature of this contest’
About an hour later, a courier arrives and starts wheeling off the Dragon’s exo-suits. Allana and Flux toddle off to intercept the delivery van, confirm that the suits have been illegally modified, and confiscate them.
Flux: Please keep your tracking status as ‘in transit’ or you may be obstructing justice.
Fireflash: Well he MIGHT be. He doesn’t know.
The Six Teens certainly seem to be enjoying themselves. We thought that they were three couples, but two of them seem to be going out of their way to grind with others in the dance pit. Of course it’s the same couple that go out of their way for some private fun in the middle of a job.
Hero Shrew: It’s the added thrill of ****ing while on a heist.
Flux OoC: ‘The alarms are going off.’
Flux OoC: ‘A superhero might burst in on us.’
GM: ‘Even better!’
Jimmy Chen, leader of the Park Front Dragons, his lieutenant, and a bunch of other people including Bobby Coffin, get together to head off and hit the night clubs. The moment they leave the venue, Chen is fair game, and we have a warrant for his arrest. Which of us, with police powers, will actually arrest them?
Hero Shrew: *bouncing excitedly* Oooh, ooh ooh!
GM: You’ve DONE the course, Scooter.
Hero Shrew: I know, I’m mostly invested in the chance of a punch-up with Bobby Coffin.
Fireflash: We are not doing that. Hardlight and I are going to WALK up, and tell him we have a warrant for his arrest.
Hardlight: Walk up? I wanted to fly down.
Fireflash: We want to avoid any kind of fight, Gareth - we’re doing this exactly by the book.
GM: ... well, ****.
Evidently Chen was expecting a superfight - which is why he invited Coffin along.
Bobby Coffin: Boys, I have a record. I ain’t helping you.
Hero Shrew: Aw.
GM: Well, there’s still a party happening inside.
Fireflash: We’ve got to fill in all the paperwork for the arrest first.
Hero Shrew: But I wanted to fight somebody! *sulks*
Hero Shrew: I can always go to the Six Teens and complain. I mean, I hang around a martial arts tournament for three days and don’t even get to swing one punch.
That curious individual we noticed hanging around walks up behind Allana, after we split up.
Normal Hu-man: Ms. Nocturne?
Normal Hu-man: Claudio Fierro, agent of UNTIL. I have some questions if you don’t mind.
Fierro: Have you noticed anything unusual about the tournament?
Allana: You, for a start.
Allana gives her assessment of the various suits, based on her listening to the engine sounds.
Fierro: Super-hearing. We had that right about you then. But it pays not to make assumptions.
But he’s more interested in Allana’s assessment of that silver suit that never needed a battery swap. Because the rumour is that VIPER are testing new kinds of battle armour, and Edge City is a great place where they can experiment with that kind of thing, practically in the open. Allana goes to have a literal sniff around, and discovers that the silver suit left no discernable smell - a useful trick a city with so many Moreaus with tracking abilities.