Red.exe vs. Pianissimo.exe

"He thinks it's annoying? I think it's kind of amusing," Shin mused as Red rebounded off the cloud, a beacon of light shining down on the red-caped wonder, healing a bit of her injuries.

"I agree! But let's focus on me falling. I bet you I can jump in midair," the crimson crusader daringly proposed, smirking. Well at least she was having fun.

"But there's no ground...." Shin pointed out, flailing his arms as if he were in freefall and not Red.

"Watch me," Red grinned, flipping upright and gathering wind below her feet, crouching, then propelling herself skyward... or well, more skyward with a artificial platform of... wind? At any rate, it was as if she was blasted upward by a tornado, which she was probably trying to form in performing this leaping procedure.

"Ok, you win. Now... where's Pianissimo? It got all dark, all of a sudden," Shin grumbled, taking off his sunglasses and grimacing when he saw the darkness was not, in fact, due to his shades.

"It must be some kind of magic trick! Or uh... a special power only Pianissimo-san can do!" Red proposed, fumbling for words.

"You mean a Signature Attack?" Shin inquired rhetorically, sweatdropping.

"Yeah! That!" the fairy-tale fighter exclaimed, happy to have reached some sort of understanding.

In the meanwhile, Myun decided to jump toward where she last saw Pianissimo before it became all dark and swing her fists around to see if she could hit anything. A curving, left blow came first, striking against something, but it could easily be an illusion. Unperturbed, Myun lashed out with her ears, striking twice in the general area, before following up with a flashy right uppercut before purposely falling off the cloud and trying to escape into the looping sky.

"I think Myun got a general grasp of his location, if you can't find him, seek him out!" Shin suggested, grinning.

"Right! The powers of all that I am will be combined into this one shot!" Red called, summoning a storm of cherry blossoms to her right hand and a gust of wind to her left. The power swirled into orbs of might and, aiming at where Myun thought she saw Pianissimo last, Red crashed the orbs together, mixing their energy together and releasing a spiraling stream of pink destruction at her opponent, hoping its inherent properties would be enough to hit him.

"Now wha- Oh," Red started, before receiving Shin's chip data. Grinning, the maiden of nature pulled out a revolver, and, taking aim at Pianissimo's supposed location, blasted kernels of corn, powered up by Red's natural element, at the assassin. She then dropped a minibomb below her, a slip of the hand, but she probably had a plan for it later.

Locating her opponent's general location again, Red decided to swamp him out. Inhaling deeply, Red churned up a poisonous concoction inside her own body that was sure to do some lasting damage to her opponent.

What happened next would probably be described as very unladylike.

A flood of scalding, hot chocolate spewed forth from the confectionary warrior's mouth, attempting to engulf the musical enemy with a wave of cacao and give him some lasting damage for a while.

"I should really reprogram that to something less gruesome," Shin mumbled, grimacing as if he thought it was a cool idea in the past but now realized the error's of his ways.

"Don't worry about it," Red replied, trying to comfort her operator while licking the sides of her mouth to clean off the chocolate stains. A blue sphere encased the red-caped warrior as she fell through the air, waiting for her opponent's next move.

Red's Actions:
*Sunshiny Day: Heal 15 to Red
1. Airstep to mid-altitude, if possible.
2. Cherry Blossom Spiral to Pianissimo [105 Wood DMG + Break + Knockback + Phasing + Seeking](5 TCD)
3. Cornshot1 to Pianissimo [50 +25 Wood DMG + Trick Shot Spread]
4. Drop Minibomb on Pianissimo? [60 DMG + Blast 1]
5. Demonic Chocolate Maelstrom to Pianissimo [100 DMG and 20 delayed DMG for 2 turns](4TCD)
6. Barrier [Generates 10 HP Barrier]

Myun's Actions:
*Run Myun Run: Jump toward Pianissimo
1. Attack Pianissimo [50 DMG + Impact]
*Rhythm Boxing to Pianissimo [2x10 DMG]
2. Attack Pianissimo [50 DMG + Impact]
3. Acrobatical evasion
Whether they were lamenting or loving the presence looming over their battle, Pianissimo and Red had little choice but to continue their battle at the Bird God's decree. To address this whole "falling to infinity" thing, Red took another big leap off a wind current and managed to land herself neatly on the #4 Platform Cloud as she received another boost from the sun (+15 HP to Red). As Pianissimo fell to the #6 Platform Cloud, he drew his katana and let raw darkness bleed out of the tip. The pitch-black essence quickly spread throughout the sky until it was all starved of light. Whether this was strategy against Red or a ploy against the Bird God... Well, that's Pianissimo's little secret. Either way, like a true assassin, Pianissimo faded into his self-fabricated darkness, raising his defenses with a barrier as he reduced his visibility to nothing.

"Brash warrior! Darkness is just another color of the sky to the Bird God! Day and night are all within the Bird God's domain, and the Bird God will not be impaired by any of it! The Bird God has spoken!" The gaudy statue's (literal) ruby red eyes glistened for just a moment in the dark sky, as if to prove its superiority. Perhaps the Bird God needed to remember that he wasn't a competitor?

Undeterred by the black air, Myun leaped forward to the #6 Platform Cloud where she last saw Pianissimo falling. However, for the second time in a row, Pianissimo leapt away to begin his assault just as Myun arrived to begin hers. She did the best she could against the invisible adversary, but when he's just not there... Myun's fists sliced through the air harmlessly, and the battle continued on with no change.

Red had much to fear against the unseen assassin, especially since he had just quietly landed on the same cloud as her. As Pianissimo loaded a Cannon for some intense point-blank action, Red could only think to lay her hopes in her Cherry Blossom Spiral attack. She had no idea where to aim it, but thankfully, it had its own ideas. As Red unleashed the flowery energy, the attack engaged its Seeking properties to hunt down Pianissimo's presence. Surprised by Red's accuracy, Pianissimo could only watch as the Cherry Blossom Spiral shredded his barrier to pieces. He could feel the blow from the attack pushing him off the cloud, but he was otherwise unharmed, invisible, and armed with his Cannon. Before he outright dropped back into freefall, Pianissimo fired. The blast struck Red and knocked her off the cloud as well, but instead of damaging her like he hoped, the brunt of the blast was absorbed by Red's honey-laden defense. And, of course, this made the bees inside it very pissed. A quintet of stinging insects swarmed out of the crumbling hive as circled around the general area. They really had no idea where Pianissimo was as he fell, so the only thing that could make any of them hit was pure luck. And, unfortunately for Pianissimo, the biggest and strongest of the bees was also the luckiest one as it crashed into him just before he dropped out of range (35 damage to Pianissimo).

Realized that she actually got some hits in while she herself was hit, Red went on a mass offensive to try and pin down her invisible opponent. He probably was knocked off the cloud, so her best guess was that he was falling with her not too far away. She drew and fired a CornShot, which missed the invisible Pianissimo by a mile and a half. Next came a projectile double team in way of a Minibomb and Red's... chocolate vomit... "That is disgusting! The Bird God is displeased! The Bird God has spoken!" Surely every spectator of the match shared the Bird God's sentiment. No one, though, probably felt that quite as much as Pianissimo, who saw the glop flying through the darkness towards him. By the grace of god (perhaps one of the bird-ish variety), Pianissimo escaped the attack by just a hair, and he wouldn't end up feeling vile for the next week. In his urgent effort to escape the chocolate, though, Pianissimo forgot about the Minibomb, which managed to catch him in the chest (60 damage to Pianissimo). Pianissimo had drawn a Sword to make his own attacks, but with both of them being in freefall a moderate distance from each other, he really had no way of making that work.

In one last effort, Pianissimo cut the air with his blade to create a sound-nulling wave that chased after Red. Unfortunately for him, the hooded fighter had been given a Barrier to project around herself, and the powerless Silence inducer fell on deaf ears... So to speak. At this point the darkness was beginning to break up, and the soon-to-come sun would shed some light on just how dire a predicament Pianissimo was in...

Red.exe: 160 HP (Freefall below the 4-o'clock Platform Cloud, low altitude)
Myun.SP: 100 HP (On the 6-o'clock Platform Cloud, mid altitude)

Pianissimo.exe: 1 HP (Freefall below 5-o'clock Platform Cloud, low altitude)

Terrain: 100% Missing (Bird God's Grace active)


Bird-God Statue: ??? HP (Absolute center of arena)

12 Platform Clouds: ??? HP (At varying altitudes, spaced out at clock positions)

Storm Cloud: ??? HP (Not currently in the area)

(PM summaries by Sunday, October 25th at 4:20 PM EST, 1:20 PM PST)
((Pre-emptive and pre-assuming music with a really silly title.))

Like that time with Druidman, Red could feel the flow of the battle, and felt that she needed to make these next few moves with all her effort if she wanted to claim victory.

But she wasn't alone, she had Myun, and Shin on her side as well. So why not make it one hell of an attack?

"Shin?" Red inquired, grinning with anticipation. "You thinking what I'm thinking?"

"Right with you," the self-proclaimed ace smirked, twirling 4 chips out of the folder. "Myun! Head him off! We'll be right behind you!" Shin called.

The boxing bunny nodded, all this time waiting for their opponent to get to a position where she could punch him. Deciding she had waited long enough, Myun leaped at wherever Pianissimo was and readied her fist, ready to smash it into the assassin's face...

...when a Boomerang span right into their direction.

Fearing the worst, Myun just slammed her face at Pianissimo's chest while simultaneously whacking at him with her ears. Two punches, two ears, one spinning Boomerang, boy was the assassin in a lot of hurt if those hit.

Her fist charged and readied, Myun delivered a powerful slug, that could potentially break through most defenses, at the opponent, before plopping down, putting her dukes up.

Meanwhile, Red was enchanting the GrassSeed that had served her so well in her last battle with prayers to the god of the storm.... which was possibly also the Bird God, but the fairy-tale fighter didn't really think of that.

"Oh wind, call upon the clouds of darkness and bring upon a mighty storm. Hear my cry!" the wind mistress shouted, getting into a pitcher's stance and then throwing the GrassSeed like a fastball into the sky.

What happened next depended on the arena itself, but for now...

"Two Boomerangs and one cyclone, this'll be fun," the crimson crusader giggled, twirling another Boomerang before sending it flying toward Pianissimo. Would it go up, down, or all the way around? If anything this stadium loop was pretty fun. A ray of sunshine cast down on Red seemed to make this a point.

Intending to brave the storm, the red-caped wonder gathered wind around her feet and crouched down, aiming to soar higher than ever, and jumped.

The springy cloud and the gust of wind sent Red flying high into the sky. Taking a bird's eye view of the arena, Red once again located Pianissimo's position, and reached into her picnic basket... pull out an over-sized machine gun with a barrel bigger than usual. If one looked closely, they could see that the ammunition was not bullets, but rather...

...pastries! Pies, eclairs, cakes, doughnuts, cookies, and more chained to each other to load into the firearm. If anyone really knew Red, they knew that these pastries were not ordinary at all.

"Let's have... a late breakfast, all you can eat!" the confectionary warrior called, pulling the trigger.

Twelve shots. Rapid and powerful and moving seriously faster than speeding bullets, the pastries descended, their bread covered maliciousness attempting to crash into Pianissimo and explode on contact, the deadly ingredient of the day being gunpowder. It would be Pianissimo's last supper.... or breakfast.

Opening the chamber, Red loaded yet another piece of ammunition into the firearm, which had switched into a sniper rifle somehow, possibly to better fit the ammo it was firing.

"Burn," the caped crusader grinned, aiming and firing a deadly blast of flame at her opponent. Combined with the ever impending grass storm, this could possibly become a tornado of fire that engulfed her opponent. It was the last shot, so she had to make it count.

Had they grasped victory? They could only wait until the storm subsided.

Myun's Actions:
1. Wait for Pianissimo to get to mid-or-high altitude.
*Run Myun Run: Jump at Pianissimo
2. Attack Pianissimo [50 DMG + Impact]
*Rhythm Boxing to Pianissimo [2x10 DMG]
3*. Break Attack Pianissimo [50 DMG + Impact + Break]

Red's Actions
1. Boomerang1 at Pianissimo [60 +25(Bonus) Wood DMG]
2. GrassSeed at High Altitude [Summon Grass Storm Cloud???]
3. Boomerang1 at Pianissimo [60 +25(Bonus) Wood DMG]
*Sunshiny Day: Heal 15 to Red
4. Airstep to High Altitude
5. Pastry Bomb to Pianissimo [12x10 DMG]
6. Heatshot to Pianissimo [40 Fire DMG + Spread1]
For once I have to agree with the bird, Pianissimo thought, barely missing the brunt of the chocolate blast. That IS disgusting. And how did she manage to get so close with it. The assassin glanced back at his scarf, which was caught in the edge of the stream and had become completely saturated in the chocolate. Sighing, he removed it, letting it limply fall through the air below until it dissolved into data, returning to the PET. It was at about that point that Pianissimo considered the wisdom of investing in more defensive options on the future.

Well, he thought, requesting chip data, Time to try and turn around an impossible situation. The first of four chips was uploaded, and he activated it immediately: a healing chip. Momentarily amused by the fact that this was probably the first time he had actually used a recover, he let the healing data flow through his body, then drew blade as he saw the main arena fading into view below him once more. One of them would jump to meet him soon enough, probably the rabbit. This time, however, he was ready. Instead of moving to them, he waited for Myun to jump at him, then swung the katana in response, executing a devastating slash designed to catch the rabbit SP before she could get close enough to punch him.

As for ranged attacks...well, for the moment he didn't have much choice but to hope the speed of his descent would be enough to throw them off-target. Thinking for about half a second, he shifted his body to alter his descent toward the center of the arena. It wouldn't be much. In fact, it might not do anything to change his movement, but even still he tried.

And it gave him some cover for his next move.

As he shifted his position, he tapped the side of his helmet, activating a program embedded within.

Its eyepieces flared a brilliant red, just for a second.

A storm cloud began to form overhead, obviously the arena's interpretation of terrain data.

An idea entered his head for something to accompany the storm. He turned his gaze on Red and activated the secondary program.

From Red's point of view, the stormcloud would appear over the entire arena, possibly even overtaking any terrain changes of her own, except for one point, directly over her. Predictably and not very pleasantly for a navi that had gone wood sometime after Pianissimo had last run into her, they began to Lots of fire, all around the fairy tale navi, but for some reason not raining on her as well.

In reality, however, the summoned firestorm was localized directly where she was falling.

Satisfied, Pianissimo activated the next two chips that had been uploaded: a pair of guards. Two massive, muted-yellow shields materialized from a wire frame web of data on either side of him. Each spawned strapped over his arms, near the shoulders. "Sorry," he called back to Red, "but I don't think I'll be dying just yet. Better luck next time." With those words, he pulled his legs up closer to his body and drew his arms across his chest, effectively causing the shields to clamp together around him like a clam shell.

Inside, he activated the second recovery chip, and waited. For the moment, that was all he could do.

1. Recover50: Heal 50 (obviously)
2. Silencer Myun: 150 Slashing
*Speed of Darkness: Shift direction of descent toward center of arena
3. Nightmares: FIRESTORM (lava panel) over Red, illusion of FIRESTORM everywhere else
4-5: Guard1 x2, closed over Pianissimo
6. Recover50: Heal 50 (again)
For how much of an advantage Red held, the battlefield as a whole feel eerily quiet as the pair of combatants freefell through the sky while they each waited for the other to make a move. Myun, the lead-off for Red's attack plan, held steady until Pianissimo would loop back to the top of the arena, and in that interim period, he managed to sneak a healing chip through to patch up some of his most severe injuries (+50 HP to Pianissimo). Both he and Red looped not long after that, and as the little lady continued to fall towards the #4 Platform Cloud, Myun jumped to intercept her target...


And now Red had two SPs. Err... Two halves of an SP, anyway. Myun's ambush backfired in the biggest way as Pianissimo's blade sliced cleanly through the rabbit's middle (150 damage to Myun). There was just a single moment of confusion as Myun attempted to register what happened, but her data retreated back to the safety of Shin's PET before she became permanently diced. "Impressive swordplay and cruelty to animals! The Bird God is pleased! The Bird God has spoken!" shouted the reigning lord of the arena in total disregard to whatever complaints the local PETA branch would have.

Naturally, Red wouldn't respond well to her SP being bisected either, and considering that she was armed with weapons... Perhaps provoking her wasn't a super idea. She had two Boomerangs ready to go, but there was one thing Red wanted to do first: harness the violent power of the weather to accentuate her will to win! Not through a raging thunderstorm, violent winds, or a torrential downpour... but by leaves? Red threw her GrassSeed high up into the air, causing dark cumulonimbus clouds to form around it. The coverage of the cloud mass expanded further and further until it covered the enter southeastern region of the arena, casting its dim shade over Red, Pianissimo, and even reaching far enough to envelop the Bird God in the center of the field. As everyone looked up to observe the declining weather, down upon them rained healthy green foliage that you'd only think to see in the most tightly guarded nature reserves. Despite the ominous clouds above, the whole scene was rather majestic, and the Wood-based weather adjustment was certainly doing Red a favor (+5 HP to Red). On top of that, there was a sudden break in the cloud cover to allow a beam of sunlight to engulf Red and further repair what damage she had (+15 HP to Red) before the light quickly was swallowed up once more by the clouds. "It is raining a fresh spring day! The Bird God is surprised! The Bird God has spoken!" noted the mighty statue. With the weather now under her control, Red launched her Boomerang pair. Unfortunately, Boomerang did not seem to be her lucky chip this fight, as they both missed just like their brethren earlier. One flew way off by a mile as Pianissimo shifted his weight around to alter his fall, while the other missed Pianissimo's neck by a matter of a millimeter. Really, this one was just criminal.

Just like some people don't like rain, though, Pianissimo clearly wasn't a fan of leaf storms. As such, he opted to... well, rain lava on Red's parade. He activated a program within his helmet to hack the section of the Storm Cloud above Red and convert the comforting rain of leaves into a nightmarish hail of fire. To make matters worse, he created an illusion over the area to make it seem that the tiny fire storm around her was actually the product of the entire Storm Cloud, making it seem like there was nowhere for Red to run. "Adding fuel to the fire, are you? The Bird God has made a joke! The Bird God has spoken!"

And run she did not, although whether that was out of bravery or insanity was up for debate. By jumping off an air current created by the heated weather to get a better angle on Pianissimo, Red vaulted straight up into the Storm Cloud... as in, right into the source of the fire storm. Ouch. Still, she showed more willpower than any little girl should ever have and readied her next attack despite the burning heat around her (20 damage to Red). In true cartoon fashion, Red produced a pastry-loaded machine gun from her picnic basket and locked it in on Pianissimo. Pianissimo, in turn, produced a pair of Guards and clammed himself up in them to prepare for the confectionary combo. Red pulled the trigger without hesitation, and the dozen pastries all flew haphazardly towards their target. The long range, coupled with the distraction of the burning atmosphere around her, mucked her aim up pretty badly, sending several of the pastries on long paths to nowhere. Still, whatever quality was lacking was made up with quantity, as five of the projectiles found the way to Pianissimo. The first two bounced of the Guards as expected, and the repulsed impact rushed back to Red for a heavy hit (120 damage to Red). The other three pastries hit Pianissimo across various parts of his body, dealing moderate damage to the already ailing assassin (30 damage to Pianissimo).

The propulsion from Red's Airstep left her hanging up in the Storm Cloud for just a little while longer, which all in all, was probably not good for her (20 damage to Red). While she was scorching, Pianissimo took another opportunity to repair the freshest damage upon his body (+50 HP to Pianissimo). In one final attack, Red took inspiration from both the real and imaginary fire around her and loaded a HeatShot. She fired, hit Pianissimo... and did way more damage than she should (80 damage to Pianissimo)? Not only did the air around him explode, which was very weird considering he was already surrounded by fire in Red's eyes, the clouds above Pianissimo vaporized with the attack, casting a single ray of sunlight down upon his body. Red just had to wonder was what going on... as the Bird God laughed at the antics of his combatants playing with fire as they were.

Red.exe: 20 HP (Suffering from Fire Storm illusion, within the Storm Cloud's real Lava spot above the #4 Platform Cloud, high altitude, freefall imminent)

Pianissimo.exe: 1 HP (Freefall near the Bird God Statue, mid altitude)

Terrain: 100% Missing (Bird God's Grace active)


Bird-God Statue: ??? HP (Absolute center of arena)

12 Platform Clouds: ??? HP (At varying altitudes, spaced out at clock positions)

Storm Cloud: ??? HP (Spanning the central and southeast areas, producing a Smoldering Leaf Storm (Grass effects, Lava effects localized around Red); clear zone around Pianissimo's position)

(PM summaries by Saturday, October 31th at 1:40 AM EST)
"No, Myun!" Red cried after her attack was executed. Surrounded by a firestorm and losing her precious partner was starting to get to her.

"We were supposed to win... together," Red sniffed, shaking a little as she eventually started to descend. "And was... our plan all for nothing? I can't see anything but fire... I... I..." the crimson crusader started, accelerating downwards at an increasing rate.

"No! You have to stop thinking like that!" Shin yelled, slamming his hand on the counter, eyes twitching in frustration.

"But... it's hopeles-" she began again, interrupted by another slam on the counter.

"If you give up like that of course it'll be hopeless! We've gotten this far, right? We did what we did to get here and you just want to throw it all away!?" the self-proclaimed ace growled, his normally mellow exterior cracking.

"I can't change what's happening, we'll lose and there's nothing-" the wind mistress started to reply, but Shin kept beating her too it.

"Stop that! There's always something you can do about an situation. Humans, navis, we're both separated by digital space, but we share the same roughness and toiling through life. Don't give up, and..." the Asian balled up his hands tightly, trembling with energy,



"You're right, Shin. Let's do this," Red responded, wiping away her tears and grimacing. "Though it looks like I can't escape, I'll just have to use that to my advantage!"

"Now you're getting it. Here, use these to try to get Pianissimo to your location," Shin ordered, grinning madly while sending in five battlechips.

"Alrighty, time to close the curtain on this show," the red-caped wonder commented, licking her lips.

In an instant, Red was gone and a giant yellow shield formed right in front of Pianissimo's face. The fairy-tale fighter was right behind it of course, but this was a precautionary measure if the assassin had predicted their up-close-and-personal assault. A ray of sunlight shined on Red as if to bless her actions.

Waiting for the moment the Guard would subside, the maiden of nature twirled a shortened bamboo spear in her hand and slashed at her foe menacingly. If that wasn't enough, the girl's left hand grew monstrously huge, covered in bear fur and feral claws protruded from it.

Red stabbed down once more at Pianissimo's chest, then sent a powerful punch at the assassin's body, trying to slam him toward the Number 4 Platform Cloud where, Shin predicted, he might take the full damage of his own firestorm.

Though, if the assassin had dodged it, there was still a countermeasure. Inhaling deeply, Red gathered up massive amounts of air into her body before taking aim at her opponent, and releasing the accumulated wind into one powerful burst, enough to possibly send the assassin to his doom.

But that was the last move to make... Once the storm cleared, the victor would be decided.

1. Areagrab to Pianissimo's position. [Teleport, Dodge, Movement, +1 Accuracy]
2. Guard1 [Block one hit and Reflect 60 DMG]
*Sunshiny Day: Heal 15 HP to Red
3. BambooKnife to Pianissimo [85 Slashing DMG]
4. BambooKnife to Pianissimo [85 Slashing DMG]
5. Rageclaw Pianissimo to #4 Platform Cloud [20 DMG + Impact]
6. Airshot to Pianissimo [20 DMG + Microburst](Shoot from mouth)
Pianissimo was at a loss for a few seconds as the air exploded around him in the last attack. How had Red managed to...was the Bird God influencing...

Oh right, fire in a leaf storm. How silly of me, he eventually though. He looked up into the ray of light that had appeared in the wake of the attack. He supposed more sentimental navis would call it his light of hope, a physical representation of the few more minutes he had bought himself by taking out Myun and surviving Red's last salvo.

Duke sent a few more chips, four in fact, as Pianissimo continued to fall. "Hope that's enough, I'm starting to run out of options over here," he said.

Pianissimo examined the chip data being sent: more recovery and Guard data, as well as an airshot and a vulcan. In response both to Duke's comment and the chip selection, he activated the recovery data and thought, Gee, thanks for reminding me how boned I still am.

Still looking up into the sunlight, Pianissimo pondered this thought as he allowed the healing data to flow through him. Whether they realize it or not, when someone says or thinks 'I am', they think of their every possible way they could accurately finish the sentence, or everything else they could have said preceding it. Their entire identity. In Pianissimo's case, it came in the form of flashes. Brief statements about who he was. Duke's navi. Member of Neo-Requiem. Enemy of the NetMafia's Techari family. Assassin.

I am an assassin.

The word is broad...too broad, but in its most basic form it means one who kills for a living. A professional murderer.

Had he actually done that lately? Not since before the tournament at least. He must be a terrible assassin. As he straightened his body out in an effort to reduce air resistance and fall faster, he laughed at the thought.

I did not make this choice. No navi ever does. We are artificial, creations born of human will to exist in a world they cannot. A world also of their own creation. So what is our purpose? Humans with enough knowledge wield the power to tear our world apart, or change any aspect of it from the outside. The same goes for navis. If something about us goes against their will, they have the power to change that to suit them.

In fact, I'm sure some do.

As if to prove his brief dive into the philosophical wasn't distracting him from the battle, he raised the Guard, between himself and Red. It might slow his fall again, but it would keep him alive longer. But still, it wasn't enough. The roar of the wind, the random commentary of the Bird God...there was too much noise. Drawing his katana with his free hand, he sliced at the air as it rushed past. A crack sounded from behind the shield, but the rush of wind that usually accompanied the technique was lost amid the already present rush of the air as he fell. Instead, it slowly died out, along with all other sound in the arena.

And hopefully, the voice of that damn statue with it.

But what about the rest of us? he thought, continuing his internal monologue. I know Duke has the programming skills necessary, and that we've disagreed on several occasions. And yet I'm mostly the same as I was when I first awoke. The same assassin.

The same assassin that was apparently terrible at his work.

I suppose it's not for me to question. Instead I'll focus on what I am, and what I am not. I am no longer a newborn, nor am I a fledgling navi who has yet to acquire the power to do my own job. I am also not emotionless. Because of this I have the capacity to enjoy my work, sometimes a little too much. I am a professional, and I could have torn apart any of the other navis in this tournament in an instant. Voltman understood this, in fact he realized it firsthand. Mirage and Traceur were victims of idiocy and random glitches, though the latter would have been finished had the last attack connected anyway. However, that fight never should have lasted long enough for him to lag out. Anyis was the same way, though I suppose it could be said that neither of them stood a chance in the first place.

I suppose it could also be said that since we never entered this tournament with the sole intent to win it, we haven't tried our hardest. Hell, Duke's lack of sleep is evidence enough of that. As for me, I've been lax. Red has the same weaknesses as any other navi. Three hits, maybe four, would have done her in. Even less with my normal folder. Why I've been driven this far rather than doing so, I don't know. It certainly wasn't because we've been allies in the past, I cleared that up before the match again. I suppose it's the same laxness.

But even if I entered this tournament for fun, I should have stayed at the top of my game from the start. Can't have myself going soft now, can I?

So that's enough screwing around.

Letting go of the guard, Pianissimo activated the AreaGrab chip and vanished from behind the shield. When he reappeared, he was on the opposite side of Red from the Bird God Statue, his right arm encased in a compressed air gun that was trained on the fairy tale navi. He fired, and as he did an explosion of sound followed as the silent effect on the arena ended suddenly, any and all advantage Pianissimo had gained from it channeled into the airshot attack. If his aim was good enough, the attack would send Red right into the statue.

He followed up the attack with his left arm, now playing host to a Vulcan gun. He fired off five shots after Red, an extra attack that would hopefully tip the end result of the match slightly in his favor if sending her into the statue wasn't enough or backfired.

Satisfied, he allowed himself to continue falling. The result of this match was left to the grace of the Bird God now. But if it was to be his end, then at least he would have went out with a bang.

1. Recover50: You know what goes here
*Speed of Darkness: Pseudo-Dodge (attempt to make self fall faster)
2. Guard1: Between self and Red
3. Enjoy The Silence: Gain five instances of Strengthen30
4. AreaGrab: Teleport+Take Aim: Teleport so Red is between self and Bird God Statue
5. AirShot Red into Bird God Statue: 20+150 (All five instances of Strengthen used) + Microburst
6. Vulcan2: 5x10 at Red
Both Navis were worn out. Pianissimo was, once again, on his last leg. Red had a lot of things go wrong for her, and now she wasn't in much better shape than her opponent as fire continued to burn around her (10 damage to Red). As they continued their freefalls, both struggled to find the will to continue.

Now the burden was on the Operators. With their Navis in the pits (figuratively), both went about getting the fighters back into action. Shin spoke of bravery, life, and fighting when it matters, reviving the warrior's spirit within his young Navi. Duke... wished Pianissimo well and sent him some chips, leaving the assassin to do some soul searching to find his own fighting spirit. At least he left something for Pianissimo to patch himself up with (+50 HP to Pianissimo). "Different strokes for different folks, the Bird God guesses? The Bird God has spoken!"

Now that the combatants were reinvigorated, the battle commenced. Red made the gutsy first move of teleporting right up to Pianissimo's face. She immediately summoned up a Guard, but she was caught by surprise to find that the fire wasn't hot here. In fact, this was a comfortable, familiar feeling... Grass? Well, whatever (Red gains Regen 5). Pianissimo tried to make himself fall faster to get away, but terminal velocity is a very stubborn thing, so he ended up just summoning up his own Guard as well. "A defensive standoff! The Bird God is anxious! The Bird God has spoken!"

Red waited nervously for Pianissimo to do something against her Guard as they both continued to fall, but behind his own defense, the killer Navi opted to hit the arena's mute button with his sword, cutting the air in such a way to nullify the sound around him and power up his attacks (Pianissimo gains 150 Strengthen). Of course, the patience of a little girl can only go so far, and Red soon hit her limit, causing her to thrust her BambooKnife out from behind the Guard. As expected, the blade bounced off and the impact collected on the shield for a moment before firing back at Red. The close proximity between the two gave Red no time to set her defense back up, but in her luck, the reflection managed to catch the edge of her own Guard, and the reflection re-reflected off the rounded shield's side back at Pianissimo (60 damage to Pianissimo). Thinking this was a good chance to follow up, Red slashed once more with the BambooKnife, but the recoil from blocking another Guard's reflection turned out to be greater than expected, and as a result Red's aim was skewed just enough to let her blade pass by Pianissimo's face with no contact. The Bird God might've said something here, but what with the sound being sucked out of the arena, that was a bit impossible at the moment.

This mistake was Pianissimo's chance. It was his turn to teleport just as his adversary had done earlier, but he was a bit more choosy about the destination. When he reappeared a second later, he was underneath Red in such a way that he could see the Bird God behind her, as they had both fallen well into low altitude by this point. Red lashed out with a RageClaw on her other hand in an effort to catch Pianissimo, but the assassin put just enough distance between them that the effort was for naught. In exchange, Pianissimo raised his right arm encased in an Airshot blaster that had been imbued with every decibel of sound he had collected earlier and pointed it at Red. He pulled the trigger, and an audio explosion ripped through the Sky Shrine. The Bird God found his voice, the Platform Clouds and Storm Cloud shook, and Red got absolutely belted by the sound waves (170 damage to Red). The impact was so strong that it actually sent her flying in the opposite direction, and... perhaps as Pianissimo had planned, crashing into the Bird God (Irritation to Bird God). "You dare lay a hand on the Bird God?!" shouted the golden statue to no one in particular. "Beings who do not respect the Bird God do not receive the Bird God's Grace! The Bird God is angry! The Bird God has spoken!" With that, everything felt... different. More... open. That weird feeling that told Red and Pianissimo it was okay to fall wasn't there anymore, and for good reason. For violating his trust, the Bird God had revoked his blessings from the arena, leaving the fighters to fall to their doom (Bird God's Grace inactive)!

Being the one at lower-altitude because of that Airshot, Pianissimo immediately got that feeling of imminent doom, which also told him to not look down. Red wasn't far behind in getting that nerve-wrecker. If they didn't do something soon, there was a long, long, looong fall waiting for them. Pianissimo and Red both had one gun chip left. Pianissimo had a Vulcan, Red an Airshot. 2 shots, 2 Navis, 1 chance. They were doing this. They were making this happen. Or else.

Red loaded up the Airshot in her throat and readied a blast of candy-scented breath, and Pianissimo lifted his other arm to reveal his Vulcan. Red managed to syphon just a bit of energy from the grassy weather around them (+5 HP to Red), but with Pianissimo's number of bullets, that wouldn't matter. Both Navis were ready to finish this, so they fired. Air rushed out of Red's mouth, and bullets sprayed out Pianissimo's gun. Both attacks passed by each other without conflict, on target to wipe out the opposition. Since they were both on target, though... The first bullet hit Red (10 damage to Red). The Airshot hit Pianissimo (20 damage to Pianissimo). The second bullet, by some strange intervention, missed by a mile, leaving the third shot speeding right towards Red's eye...

She winced for the incoming strike, but it never came. After a cautious first few moments, she cracked one eye open to see the bullet at a standstill, right in front of her. Really, really right in front of her. Also, she wasn't falling anymore. She wasn't rising up either. She was just... standing in midair. The "fire" grass storm seemed to have completely stopped in place too, leaving leaves completely frozen in the air. She nervously backed away from the projectile to try and find Pianissimo, but he was nowhere to be seen. Suddenly, a loud voice boomed from above:

"Congratulations, young warrior! Two Navis entered, one remains! You have emerged victorious and won the ONB Tournament in the Bird God's Sky Shrine! The Bird God congratulates you! The Bird God has spoken!" It's like his ire from being hit before wasn't even there. What a fickle statue.

Red.exe: 1 HP (Stopped in midair under the Bird God, staring down a bullet)

Pianissimo.exe: EJO'D

Terrain: 100% Missing (Bird God's Grace inactive, area suspended)


Bird-God Statue: ??? HP (Absolute center of arena)

12 Platform Clouds: ??? HP (At varying altitudes, spaced out at clock positions)

Storm Cloud: ??? HP (Spanning the central and southeast areas, producing a Smoldering Leaf Storm (Grass effects, Lava effects localized in the southeast); clear zone near the Bird God)


Red GET: 15000z and Sanctuary

Pianissimo GET: 15000z or VariableSword

Red AND Pianissimo GET: Bird God Figurine (With real gold finish!)
As the airshot hit him, the last of Pianissimo's defenses failed, and his data was forcibly ripped from the arena. Before he was hit, however, he managed a few final words to the Bird God and to Red.

"Heh. And ends."

Half a second later, he reappeared flying through the air, hit the ground, and tumbled to a stop inside the PET. From there he heard the Bird God's announcement of the winner, and saw two mementos of the tournament materialize beside him. An unusual sword with a yellow-green finish and...a figurine in the image of the Bird God.

"Self-important statue..." he muttered.

((Taking the VariableSword))
"Holy..." Red started, still gawking at the bullet right in front of her.

"Crap..." Shin finished, gawking at how close the match was.

Immediately jacking out and reforming as a hologram in front of Shin, the navi and operator looked each other in the eye and...

"We won!" Both cried in unison, trying to hi-five each other after jumping into the air but utterly collapsing elsewhere since one of the participants was a hologram.

"Wow, that was intense. And... wow... what a prize," Shin whistled, taking a look at both the money and new chip they received, and also the Bird God Trophy. It was a hard battle, and like a dream come true.

"Well Duke, I guess we'll see you guys around sometime," the self-proclaimed ace said, grinning.


[GET: 15000z and Sanctuary]