Nefro pulls an invisible string back, each of his fingers tightly gripping a single arrow, and he releases his hold. "Pisces' Roar: Divine Wrath!" All four arrows are launched at you with incredible speed, yet despite this, you grin slyly.
At near peerless speed, you blitz across the edge of the arena, completely dodging Nefro's attack. Suddenly, you morph in front of him with one elbow at the ready, but the man does not even flinch. You smash the elbow into his throat, causing a clear indent in the man's neck, not withholding even an ounce of strength.
Still unsure of what is transpiring, Nefro coughs madly, no doubt in pain. His entire body is pushed off of the ring from the sheer force you presented, and he's sent flying across the room. A small, yet incredibly powerful, ball of Ki forms in one of your palms and you snap it forward relentlessly. It skids throughout the room and explodes on contact with Nefro, dropping the man to the ground.
Smoke burrows from his position on the ground, revealing Nefro the 3rd to be lying on the ground, no longer conscious.
"Victory to Number 194!" the Head Judge yells. "Congratulations. You will advance to the Top 16. Now please step outside of the ring, we still have one more match to complete in order to find out who the final participant will be." Following his directions, you hop down and walk over to Hercule, who is now whistling.
"Well done, mate. You've improved tenfold since we last met."
"Yes. I've trained hard this past year. Looks like you'll have your work cut out for you."
"I wouldn't go that far," Hercule analyzes as he strokes his growing beard. "Based on what you've shown, which I know ain't everything you got, I shouldn't have too much trouble taking you down."
"Heh. Then you must have improved twentyfold."
You turn back to the arena in order to watch the Grand Finals of the Preliminary Games, and to your surprise, Chief Executive Kyo Yamada is facing off against another opponent; the one who claimed that Myst was the most dangerous man here. He certainly didn't appear to be that great when he was boasting about another's skill, but considering he made it all the way here, he can't be half bad.
After what appears to be a long introductory, the Head Judge finally yells "Begin," signalling the start of the match.
Kyo smirks at his foe, both arms formerly crossed over his chest, with his power highly suppressed. "I suggest you step out of the ring before i'm forced to embarrass you. Will you do that for me?"
"Ergh! Don't take me so lightly!" Kyo's opponent yells, now beginning a speedy dance around the ring, circling his opponent. "I didn't come here to lose! Much less to somebody as cocky as you!" Marks from Kyo's opponent's speed begin to scrape themselves onto the arena as he persists with his high speed movement.
"Impressive speed," you remark. "That's sure to confuse almost anybody for at least a bit."
"Sigh." Kyo shrugs, still grinning mischievously. "So be it."
"I'll finish you with this!" His opponent roars, now barely visible to even you.
Instantaneously, he stops dead in his tracks and collapses to the ground in pain, red saliva pouring out of his swollen mouth. Kyo pulls his clenched fist from the man's stomach before relentlessly kicking him in the jaw and launching the man into the sky. He appears to be unconscious already! Slowly, the defeated opponent treads down from the skies of the arena without movement.
"Hahahahaha! Trash!" Kyo laughs psychotically, electricity quaking around his radiant aura. "You will never fight again. HA!" A massively overpowered blast is fired from his grasp, impacting his foe directly, and pushing him up to the ceiling of the stadium. The roof cracks for an instant before it shatters completely, gravel collapsing down afterwards.
Kyo's beam fades and he tucks both hands back into his pockets, laughing cautiously to himself. The man drops down from the skies on his back and a loud CRACK echoes throughout the stadium.
"Is he still breathing...?" The Head Judge barely manages to spout.
"Of course," Kyo remarks. "I wouldn't want to get disqualified before I crush certain people in the Top 16." He whisks around and heads out of the arena, all eyes focused on him. "Although, his fighting career is over. Poor fool won't ever regain any feeling in his legs again. Heheheheh!" While Kyo steps down, the Head Judge shakes his head and calls for a Medic immediately, truly intimidated. Everybody is aware that Kyo is a man of the Red Ribbon Army. One who is supposed to look out for the weak and protect the innocent. But this man...he's a monster.
The Chief Executive glares at you once more, smiling gracefully. You snarl back at him.
"Would Numbers "2", "99", "194", and "501" please follow me." On cue, the four of you, and Hercule, step forward and begin following the Head Judge as he takes you out of this particular stadium and into the open area that links the four different group divisions. You take note of eleven contestants with their backs turned just beyond this point, all staring at two particular judges. "It was a pleasure meeting you all. This is as far as I go though. The two judges up ahead will give you further directions. Good luck in the Top 16." With that, the former Head Judge turns around and disappears shortly after.
"Ah, I see our guests have finally arrived," somebody calls from up front; a Judge, by the looks of it. He has shaggy blond hair and a stylish mustache, all coupled with a black suit, red tie, and tinted sunglasses. This man is the most regular person you've ever seen. Beside him, is a similar looking man to the Head Judge of your division. His attire, that is. "Glad to see we finally got sixteen people. Am I right?" Everybody stares at him blankly, resulting in the man quickly blushing. "Well, ergh, anyway. I'll be the announcer for this year's Top 16 Event. Beside me, over here, is my Co-Announcer. Together, we'll be in charge of everything from here on out. So if you have any questions, go ahead and give us a shout."
"Are any of the rules different?" Hercule speaks up and most of the other members of the Top 16 gaze over to him as he does so.
"Great question! And the answer would be: yes, in fact, there are. You'll be competing in front of a live audience of thousands of people. Take their safety into account. Naturally, the time limit on the matches has been eliminated. We had to have them earlier on because of our tight schedule and potential trolls." A few snickers are heard. "That's the only change. But to review, if you are knocked out of the ring or are down for ten uninterrupted seconds, that will count as a loss. You should know everything else. Weapons are a no-no, killing is bad, etcetera, etcetera. Now, onto the good stuff! We are going to draw numbers, once again, to decide who fights who."
"Whom." You correct.
"What he said!" The announcer says with a grin too large for his own good. "Wait here for a few minutes while we prepare the Match-Up Board, everybody."
You inhale, feeling a throb in your chest. The pain subsides after a few seconds and you turn around and start walking to the nearest corner with Hercule. Everybody else scatters around.
"Kiryu! That you!" Somebody calls from behind. A familiar voice. "Yo, man! It's me!" Whisking your head around, your eyes immediately snap wide open, noticing Goku standing before you. The man is wearing the exact same Gi as the last time you saw him, and now that you think about it, the time before that. Does he ever change his clothes?
"What are you..."
"Well, Piccolo told us about this place, but I didn't expect you of all people to be here." Goku replies with a smile.
"You know this guy?" Hercule whispers. You nod, not necessarily at either of them. "He was in my division. The guy's a monster."
Ignoring Hercule for the moment, you scratch your chin and say, "I wasn't going to, but I thought it might be interesting."
"Ah, I see. Yeah, I wasn't going to come here either, but then when I was visiting Master Roshi, he convinced me to come."
"Yup. He should be somewhere in the crowd, so you might be able to see him once we get out to the big arena."
"Interesting. Why'd he make you come anyway?"
"Didn't he ever tell you? Master is a two time world champion. He hasn't competed in twenty or thirty years though. But he told me that it would be a fun experience, and that there are always powerful fighters here, so I decided to come. He tagged along, of course. Master loves coming to the city. Something about the scenery that he really enjoys."
"Heh, doubtfully the kind of scenery a normal person would think of when they hear the word." You think, plainly staring at Goku all the while.
"So will I be seeing you in the finals?"
"I suppose we'll find out."
"Whoa, whoa, whoa. Let me interrupt you for a second right here," Hercule barges in while patting your shoulder. Instinctively, you bat it away and scowl. "If anybody is going to take down Kiryu in the finals, it's gonna' be me. I saw you fighting earlier, Son, and you're real good. No joke. And you got the heart too. I like that. But don't think you got an easy path to the finals ahead."
Goku innocently smiles. "Thank you, strange man I've never seen before. Were you in my bracket or something?"
"...Yeah, you didn't see me tearing up anybody?"
"Nope. Must've been too busy eating." Goku grins and folds his hands over the back of his neck. "Either way, lets all just try to have fun. Whichever one of us wins!"
"Bahahahaha!" Cynical and cocky, laughter explodes from behind you. Already irritated, you whisk around and peek up to one of the ledges to see a face you would have never expected to see. "What's wrong, Kiryu? Cat bite your tongue?"
"Bebi..." You mutter, rage igniting from deep within your core. Still in Cooler's transformed body, the man who infiltrated Valkyrie and murdered countless amounts of people before running away like a coward, appears before you. "I'll slaughter you, you son of a-"
"Calm down, Nancy." He taunts. Hercule remains silent, while Goku sways his head back and forth in confusion. "Save it for the ring. But just so each of you know, there isn't a chance in hell that you'll claim victory. Now that I've mastered and improved this perfect body, there isn't a man on this planet who can defeat me. And I came to this tournament to prove that to the world. All the better now that I get to kill you while i'm here. Wouldn't you say?"
"Cooler?" Goku finally says. "Isn't that guy one of the Cold Family's-"
"No." You bark. "He's a psychotic freak that needs to die. Today."
"Bahahah. Looks like you're quite the grudge holder, Kiryu." Bebi hops down from above and a radiant aura flutters around his slimy exterior. "If you're intent on killing me, then hurry up and do it." A moment of silence passes. "That's what I thought."
You step forward and glare at the man. It does not matter what he did anymore, but rather, why it happened. You released this freak upon the world and it's time you put an end to him. Suddenly, Goku puts a hand on your shoulder. You peek over and he shakes his head, bringing you back to your calm and logical self.
"You better not lose before I get the opportunity to take your pathetic excuse for a life."
Bebi grins. "That's more like it."
"Alright, everybody!" The tournament announcer finally roars, his voice booming through the microphone in his hand. "Sorry for the delay. Please make a line just up here and we'll begin drawing lots."
It's time. You whip yourself around, heavy coat scraping the wind as you do so, and begin heading over to the forming line. The remaining contestants that are in front of you begin drawing lots, and upon doing so, inform the announcer of their number. He then proceeds to write it on a board that the co-announcer is firmly gripping.
You step up and place a hand into the shrinking bowl, slip out a card, and bring it up to eye level. "Number two." After swiftly flashing it to the announcer, he uses a black marker and jots your name down onto the board.
This time, Hercule steps up to get his number. Goku goes after that, followed by three fighters you have never seen before. You decide to refrain from using your Scouter to detect their Power Levels, as it can potentially spoil the fun of the matches. Finally, the treacherous Bebi steps up and pulls his own number. With that out of the away, the match lists are complete.
"Gather around, folks. I am going to announce the matches to you all right now. In order to keep excitement at a continuous high, however, I will only tell the audience one match at a time."
"Nobody cares about the audience. Get out with it." Bebi demands and a few heads turn over to him for a brief instant. He scowls at them, causing those who looked to whip their heads away in what can only be defined as fear. Weaklings.
"The first match will be the Freeborn Military's Commander Kiryu versus the Iron Mantis!" It'll be an easy win. "Following that, we have a man every resident of East City knows, Mark 'The Saviour' Hercule, versus the Red Ribbon Army's one and only Chief Executive Kyo Yamada!" An interesting battle that will be. "Our third battle will be the current champion of the world, Tien Shinhan, versus a man who shocked this years competition, King Chappa!" Last tournament's champion? He might prove to be a worthy fighter. "And coming afterwards, former world champion Master Roshi's most prideful student, Goku, will face off against the powerful yet mysterious Nail!" This should be an easy victory for the Saiyan. "Hang in there folks, as our fifth battle will be between the only daughter of East City's Mayor, Videl, versus a member of King Nefro's Royal Guard, General Rildo!" That unknown King sent more than one man to this tournament, it appears. Who knows how many of them were defeated in the Preliminary Games. "This next fight will certainly prove to be a magnificent one, as last tournament's runner up, Zoldeo, will attempt to advance by facing off against the self proclaimed 'Lord' Bebi!" He truly is cocky, giving himself such a title. "The second last match of the first round will be between a man known as a 'Pretty Boy', Zarbon, versus the underdog, Nam!" Two unknowns. How thrilling. "And finally, one of the world's most notorious assassin's, Salza, will battle against a former Red Ribbon Army agent, Zita!"
A thick air of tension breezes by now that all of the matches have been announced. From this moment on, everybody here are enemies.
The announcer takes in a deep breath, finally finished announcing the matches, and prepares to speak up once again. "Ahem. Please follow me, everybody." He turns around and begins walking to the stadium where division "A-F" battled it out. All of the contestants follow him, and upon arrival, you hear loud cheers coming from outside. "As you should be able to hear, the fans are getting anxious and excited. I'm going to announce the first battle at this time. Each of you, please be ready to be called and report to the ring immediately afterwards. See you all on the outside!"
Most of the fighters have a seat around open spots, though you remain standing since you should be getting called any minute now. It appears that everybody has scattered about the room, far away from each other, refraining from any contact. No doubt because they are preparing mentally.
"Will Commander Kiryu and the Iron Mantis please report to the ring at this moment!" You hear the announcer call from outside of this room.
"Good luck," Hercule calls out. You raise one fist in the air while walking away, completely confident in your abilities, and step outside of the room. Your opponent walks idly beside you. He is quite a large man, mirroring even you size. All of his clothes are dark blue, minus a black belt that hangs down from his waist. The left side of his face has a brutal scar that appears to be from a sword, which makes him look quite frightening, surprisingly.
Sunlight beams through the dark clouds, shedding light to the entire stadium. This arena is easily double the size of the earlier ones. Cheers of all kinds boom from the crowd as the outset of the first battle approaches. You step up onto the ring, Iron Mantis beside you, and each head over to one side of the arena.
"Thank you for coming, ladies and gentlemen." The announcer calls out, magnifying the cheers of the crowd in an instant. "We have some really outstanding fighters this year, so I can confidently say that this will be one of the greatest tournaments of all time!" An eardrum shatters as the audience roars in sync once again.
"Damn it, these guys are annoying as hell. Hurry up and start the match so I can kill this guy and go back inside!" You think, starting to get irritable.
"So how about we get this battle started!" The screams louden for a few seconds, but finally subside as the announcer raises one hand to quiet them all down. "Alright. Let us begin then!"
"Finally." Preparing for a potential swift attack, you quickly put on a fighting pose and glare at the man who calls himself the Iron Mantis.
A) Crush him to the ground in an instant. Put fear into the crowd.
B) Play around a little bit, putting on a show for the rest. But ultimately, defeat him.
C) Let him get the upper-hand, showing the man a glimmer of hope. But once that gets old, end him.
Author's Chapter Notes: