A Test of a Woman's Manhood

MeleeMan traveled the gate from Internet City to Hades Net and stepped forward with a confident smile. "Heh, even if we don't get to fight any navis here, this will be a great chance for me to prove that I'm better than that woman. She can spend all the time she likes trying to prove herself to me. There's no way I'll accept that any female deserved that spot in the tournament," he rambled on in a low, cocky voice, assuming that Rania was listening. Rania in fact did not care at all and was fully intent on speaking with Mill (and Erin, but as little as she could manage).

The navi placed his hands at his hips and stared around approvingly, taking in the sight of the unfamiliar net. "This place is great. Sweltering heat and the smell of battle thick in the air; I wouldn't trade it for anything," he sighed to himself, moving on to the mission location. He figured he'd just let Seraphim and Anyis catch up shortly as part of his whole "testing Anyis" routine that he intended to thoroughly act upon.
Anyis appeared in the scorching fire pit about 10 feet away from MeleeMan, and immediately upon arrival, she exclaimed, "Wow, it's as hot in here as ever!", fanning herself with her hand as if that was actually doing something. She knew as soon as he had spoken earlier that MeleeMan was really sour about her being... well, a "her". Rather than take offense at his frustration, though, Anyis reveled in it. "What's a little lady like myself supposed to do about all this heat~?" she moaned while walking closer to MeleeMan and tugging slightly on her robe as if to loosen it up.

"-Oh wait, I know!" she announced suddenly as, just like the last time she came here, Anyis enveloped herself in a vapor of cold air. All the heat around her suddenly dissipated, and if the scenery didn't say otherwise, she could've been standing in the crisp cold of Sharo Net. Of course, this time she just couldn't resist expanding her vapor aura a little wider this time. Juuust enough to brush up against MeleeMan's arm, who up to this point seemed to have been reveling in the fire and flames...
Seraphim jacked in, with several rings of gold portraying his entrance. He looked about, then shivered slightly. "W-why is it so cold? And hot at the same time?" He asked, being caught a bit into Anyis's field of freezing vapor.

"Brr." He stepped out of the field, then back into it, curiously. "Oh, so you're an ice queen!" Seraphim spoke, smiling broadly as he shoved Anyis's mental profile into another filing. Erin decided not to comment.
MeleeMan's grin faded as he began to feel a slight chill around him, negating all of the heat which he had decided he wished to characterize an active battlefield. He turned and acknowledged Anyis with a sigh, his frown betraying extreme displeasure. Luckily, because of his metal visor, the focus of his path of vision down her robe was not betrayed as he watched her cool herself off. "Oh, great... This is what I have to deal with," he groaned, clutching his arms around himself and releasing smoke as he warmed himself up. "Damn, me teaming up with a woman. It's a cold day in hell, how befitting."

MeleeMan frowned in Seraphim's direction as he appeared on the net, showing no displeasure, but rather simply failing to change his natural expression. "You feel it too, huh?" he asked with a grimace, clenching his teeth as he released more smoke into the air heating himself. "We can play dueling temperatures if you want, girl," he mentioned with a sudden smirk in Anyis' direction. "The superiority of my hot-blooded spirit will melt you in an instant." As if to demonstrate his point, MeleeMan turned his heat onto a ridiculous radiation, making the already humid climate unbearably hot to anyone in his direct vicinity with no care for his allies.
Anyis just put a hand on her hip and waited, letting MeleeMan put out all the heat he wanted to. She didn't really care personally so long as her icy presence remained, although there was a slight curiosity in the back of her mind as to how Seraphim, who had yet to show her any elemental inclination, was taking these drastically volatile temperatures. She glanced back for a second... And he seemed largely ignorant of any discomfort that the chaotic temperatures might create. Okay then, one less thing to worry about...

Once it looked like MeleeMan had gotten his fill of breaking wind, Anyis spoke up. "Okay, okay, you're hot stuff, big guy. I'd love to swap body heat with you, but, well... that wouldn't be very lady-like..." Anyis moved her hands to cover up her face, feigning embarrassment. Such a tease...
Seraphim continued shivering while sweating. He glanced at both his allies, and stepped carefully back until he was on the fringe of both their auras. He coughed into his gauntlets, then rubbed them together.

"Can't we just be friends?" He grinned invitingly, although it was doubtful that that would do much. It was probably for the best he was concentrating on this world because in the real world, Erin was glaring at Mill and gods knew what they thought of her.
Before anyone could reply to Seraphim's comment, they heard a strange monkey-like sound.

In the distance a monkey with a very long tail and holding a lantern approached the group on all fours.

Sitting upright, the monkey examined the three and then beckoned at them with his right hand while swaying the lantern with his tail from side to side.

Apparently he would lead you to the location of the "tournament."
"Ha, just like a good woman. You back out of the fight when you realize that I've claimed the upper hand. That upper hand is a fist... my fist. I've claimed it in my uh... fist.... This is getting confusing. Anyways, point is, I won," MeleeMan guffawed, babbling on as everyone else was distracted by a nearby monkey (not that anyone would have been paying his words much attention anyways, if they were sensible). Finally realizing that everyone had stopped caring, he powered down his flame and tried to ignore the stench of sweat that was now closed up inside his helmet and jacket. He turned his attention to the lantern-wielding monkey, thinking reasonably that it was fairly out of place in the hellish landscape. "Huh, guess this guy's our guide. Not sure if this is better or worse than my last mission guide. She was a lot hotter, but also a lot more of a bitch. Unless this monkey turns out to be a huge bitch, which is still possible."

Rania finally turned her attention back to her PET, done babbling in an attempt to save her status as an athletic, exercise-savvy girl who was not a nerd who likes to carry her PET around with her everywhere. Of course, while she was away, her navi had taken after following a suspicious monkey. "I'll assume you know what you're doing and give you the benefit of the doubt on this one," she sighed, keeping an easy stride alongside Mill and Erin, who was slowing them down ever so slightly.

"Ha. This monkey will guide me to the tournament location, since you're unable to," he laughed with a smug smile up at Rania. "Come on guys, let's follow the little chimpanzee to the mission site."

"Not like you were doing any better," she grumbled, crossing her arms moodily across her terribly flat and possibly padded chest.
Anyis had to bite her lip to force down her saying that there was more than one monkey here, but she managed to for the greater good. Teasing MeleeMan was far too easy and far too fun for her to give up just for the sake of a single snide comment. Yes, good things come to those who wait... "Sure thing!" responded Anyis energetically, following after MeleeMan and the monkey, although at a safe distance as MeleeMan really reeked of sweat and no woman would want to be within 5 feet of that. "I'm still a little tired from the last tournament, but I'll still try to help as much as I can!"

Mill just rubbed his temples, trying to ease his anxieties of Anyis's shameless teasing. "It doesn't look like there's any danger yet, so I'll just leave getting to the location up to you." He wasn't really sure how much more of this he could watch.
Seraphim was slightly confused as to what the big argument between them was. "Maybe it's just because of their elemental inclinations. In fact, I'm sure of it. They're probably just having romantic tension or something because opposites attract." Muttering something that sounded like a conspiracy theory to normal and sane ears, he walked after his allies, following the monkey thing. "Maybe it's a trap? I really hope not. That'd be cliche'd and annoying. Nobody likes vague gameplay." Seraphim shrugged. They didn't have a rogue to look for traps anyway, which meant the DM couldn't throw any at them without getting another player to actually look for the things.
After much debilitating, or not much, the group followed the monkey for a long while.

5 minutes later

The Monkey stopped, gave out a cry, and then disappeared, leaving the group in the dark, since there was now no light source, and the area was a bit lava free. It seems they've arrived at their location but where exactly are they?

The group senses mumbling voices around them, possibly also pissed off at being "kept in the dark" at the moment, at least, from what you can hear of their comments.

"...stupid tiger..."

"...left us... no light..."

"Is the organizer here, or..."

Suddenly the lights turn on and 7 other groups of navis appear in the area. There is a grand stage in front of everyone, which calls the attention of all the navi groups as more spotlight beacons focus on something descending from above the stage.

"Gather around, gather around, no need to be shy," a quite pompous voice calls, rolling out his words, the figure descending on a hovering platform seems to be no more than your average plump, british gentleman in a full tux, cane, and top hat. He has a rather bushy mustache that he likes to wriggle from time to time. One can only guess this is the navi, OdorMan.

And true to his name, the navis that get within 5 feet of him start pinching their noses. The group does smell something, but it's nothing foul, but a luxurious perfume concocted of so many odors that you can't help feel but overwhelmed in your sensory receptors.

"This guy stinks."

"Very bad taste."

"Hate this kind of thing, Dee Ex."

"Ahem!" OdorMan coughs, twirling his cane before stamping it on the ground and applying some more perfume to his neck, only increasing the overbearing sensation the navis are feeling.

"As you know, I am OdorMan, the organizer of this event," the perfumed navi greets, bowing with his top hat, but almost falling due to his grand belly. "The ONB committee has seen it fit for my operator and I, along with a few others, to start the preparations for next year's tournament. This is, then, strictly, a Beta testing phase. Do not be alarmed with system malfunctions, but do fight to your best potential."

Continuing on, OdorMan gestured to the stage he was on. It was actually more of a disk-shaped raised platform in appearance with no real special qualities to speak of, to the participants at least.

"This is the arena," OdorMan stated lamely, someone yawned in the background. "But enough of that, let's get started, choose one representative from your team to come up here and place his or her hand on this scanner to register your group for match pairings."

Most talked amongst themselves, but some navis immediately marched up to the scanner.

So... who shall register the group?
MeleeMan cracked his knuckles twice, then his neck. His frown turned upward into a characteristic smirk as he walked forward without collaborating with either Anyis or Seraphim. "No sweat, guys," he stated confidently, an ironic statement considering the reek of sweat that was still covering him. "I think we can all agree that I have the best hands on the entire net, so I'll go ahead and register us for the test. These fists of mine are representative of all we stand for as defenders of masculinity, after all."

Finishing his explanation, he swaggered confidently forward, not taking any time to examine his opponents or respond to OdorMan. He actually thought that he'd like to avoid talking to OdorMan altogether if he could. "Fat and fruity looking. Fruity smelling even. This guy's the bottom of the barrel alright," he thought to himself, grimacing at the unpleasant navi's distinct scent. "Out of the way, chumps," he grumbled to the other navis, "real man coming through!" He attempted to shoulder them out of the way as he made a path to the sensor.
"Eww... That smell..." moaned Anyis as she pinched her nose. For better or worse, MeleeMan's funk had been out-funked. This OdorMan guy was just... awful! Flowery, fruity, woody... All of this combined into an aromatic assault to be feared by all. As an added "bonus", MeleeMan still smelled bad too, so poor Anyis was having her senses mutilated twofold by a hideous blend of perfume and sweat. The stench of it all was so acidic that her eyes even began to tear up as to shield themselves from the pain. Upon hearing MeleeMan assume his superiority, Anyis responded with, "Sure, whatever. Just hurry up so we can get away from this stink pit..." Messing with this guy was fun, but she was just too miserable right now to bother.

... And, of course, MeleeMan has to start taking his sweet time pushing through the crowds to the terminal. Goddamn... That slow, arrogant walk... He probably doesn't even know he's making the smell worse! Hurry up! "Ugh, too slow!" shouted Anyis finally after reaching the threshold of her patience. With her nose still protected to the best of her ability, Anyis began weaving her way towards the terminal. Since MeleeMan had already created the startings of a path, and plus the fact that she was a good foot shorter than him, Anyis had a much easier time squeezing in between Navis. It didn't take her long to catch up to her ally, and then the race to the terminal was on...
MeleeMan was taking his sweet time strolling up to the console, referring more so to the gait of his walk than to his patience for the others that he was constantly shoving out of the way. As he proceeded, his warrior's senses perked up, telling him that somebody else was planning to rush for the console. "Ha, you've sealed your fate. When poor little Anyis tries to come up and get the jump on me again, I'll bring out one arm, scoop her up, and then... Well uh... Maybe throw her down? What exactly am I going to do?" he thought to himself, his former confidence fading into a little bit of doubt. He had to admit that he didn't really want to be too rough with her, but at the same time, he couldn't very well just scoop her up and hold her there, as that would be pretty damn awkward.

Still, a man doesn't hesitate: it was either act or revoke his manliness and goodness knows he wasn't about to let that get away from him with all he'd invested in it. Slowing his walk, he avoided turning his head so as not to betray his intentions. Finally, he turned around briskly, hugging his great arms around...

An entirely unintended navi who also happened to look nothing like Anyis whatsoever. "Ah, son of a bitch," he growled as Anyis ripped past him. With a roar, he pounced upon her as if his life depended on it, bringing them both to the ground. The action was intended to make up for his embarrassment at not managing to stop her, but probably accomplished exactly the opposite and embarrassed them both.

Luckily for Rania, she wasn't watching the screen. The question was beginning to bear heavily upon MeleeMan's mind: "What the hell am I doing?" He was honestly beginning to hope that Anyis would be able to pull through and prove herself through battle, because otherwise, he had no idea what he'd find himself doing next. MeleeMan was beginning to realize that even despite his stubbornness, keeping up like this wasn't making him look any better, especially if she could keep on wrestling on even terms with him. Like with Rass and Seraphim before her, if she proved herself worthy, he would have to accept her as an ally rather than a burden... but she was a girl!

On that note, he realized he wouldn't mind spending a little more time on top of her if the position wasn't so awkward. For now his brain had shut down, though. He was stuck trying to think of how to justify his action, but he wasn't willing to get up off of her while he thought about it. Instead he just shut his eyes beneath his visor, breathing heavily as he contemplated what to say. "Anyis," he started, then stopped again, settling his face into a deep frown. "Well damn, I've got nothing," he finished, holding her arms down tightly to the ground. "I guess I haven't really given you a chance to prove yourself through battle yet and I should say that I'm..." he continued, still sitting uncomfortably on top of her. He couldn't quite say "sorry." "... willing to give you a chance to prove yourself."

The intent was noble but it didn't quite make up for creating a scene as though he were raping her right in the middle of all of the tournament contestants.
'Ah good, romantic tension with an arguing two characters. Good partners to choose!" Seraphim nodded, beginning to walk through the crowd. Finally making his way through another of people (careful to give Meleeman and Anyis their alone time,) he placed his hand on the scanner to start up the process.

Erin glanced at her allies for this particular mission and chuckled at their apparent incompetence. "At least we know that Meleeman isn't sexist when it comes to tackling people?" She commented on the musclebound firey thug as she rolled her eyes.
While Meleeman and Anyis raced to the scanner and then the former tackled the latter, landing them in a very compromising position, Seraphim simply walked up and waited in line behind two navis in front of him.

The one who was nearly done at registering had shocking red hair that stood up like a living flame. He was lean and muscular, dressed in tribal cloth clothing with a red-and-blue stick pattern running along the edges of his wear. A giant broadsword, with a blade 3/4ths as big as the navi himself, was slung across his back. He also wore charcoal black boots and gauntlets of the same shade. Once registered, the navi moved out sideways, giving Seraphim a good look at his tan face and narrow, burning red eyes. He walked toward a navi in a giant black suit of armor and a female navi dressed in a navy blue cardigan, had long flowing green hair and shiny glasses.

The navi before Seraphim had long flowing silver hair, cat-like ears on top of his(?) head and another ridiculously large sword, now with a curved blade like a giant fang, born on his right shoulder as he(?) scanned his team into the database. Turning around, Seraphim grimaced as he saw that the rest of the guy was just a red-colored NormalNavi with a black sheath that was far too small for his sword on the guy's left hip. He walked to two other equally ridiculously accessorized normal navis, one with really frayed spiky hair and a staff across his back, bearing an orange color scheme, while the other seemed to be completely white with no noticeable traits or special weaponry.

When it came Seraphim's turn, the self-proclaimed main character couldn't help but pinch his nose in the close proximity of OdorMan's ridiculous perfume as he scanned his hand and registered his teammates in. How it knew they were his teammates was a mystery, but at least he got them registered, right?

Turning around to walk back to his team, but slowly so he could enjoy their "alone time," Seraphim noticed some of his other competition something along the lines of.

A sports-themed team with a Tennis player, a Quarterback, and a Basketball player.

NormalNavis with Metool helmets of differing shades on their heads.

A green, lizard-like navi with giant claws, a giant yellow ball next to him, and a guy covered completely in a worn brown hooded cloak floating behind them.

A generic knight, archer, and princess/spellcaster like party.

And some... chinese-looking warriors. They all carried strange weapons.

After checking out his competition, Seraphim returned to wait for the results to the drawing. It still seemed they had time before the scanning was over.
In true anticlimactic fasion, while MeleeMan and Anyis were struggling in their race to the terminal, Seraphim walked by (with seemingly no trouble at all with the crowd that plagued his allies) like he probably should've done before this silly little competition started. Anyis wouldn't have realized quite yet, but the irony of Seraphim, of all Navis, playing the straightforward guy here was just completely mind-numbing. That aside, there was a more immediate matter for Anyis to deal with...


For the first time in a long, long time, Anyis's scream pierced the air. The reason? MeleeMan, a large, muscular Navi that stood a good foot taller than Anyis, just leaped forward and tackled her. In the perspective of the onlookers, which had only grown in number since Anyis screamed, this was more a molestation than anything else. She had finally squeezed her way through that crowd, was just about to get to the terminal, when... BOOM, she was flat on her back with some 200-odd pounds pressed against her chest. Ow.

While MeleeMan found this whole situation embarassing (if not a little enticing), and while she certainly was embarrassed by all this too, there was one more thought in Anyis's mind: this hurts! Despite what a first glance and her loose-fitting robe might say, she wasn't really that flat-chested, and her compulsive friend was crushing whatever assets she did have. "Get... off.. me...!" gasped Anyis as she pushed against his shoulders, making a futile attempt to create some leverage against the much larger and heavier Navi.

A period of silence overcame the two as Anyis feebly continued to push against MeleeMan. Suddenly, it seemed as if MeleeMan had reached an internal resolution, as he chose to grab Anyis's arms and pin them to the ground for whatever reason. Anyis was good and ready to start spitting on him if she had to, but in what was quite possibly the last thing she expected, he started into a somewhat clumsy, but well-meant, apology. Initially she could only produce an absentminded blink at the gesture, then took a moment after he had spoken to think before responding. "Well, that's nice and all, but... Could you please get off me?!" Anyis understood that MeleeMan was trying hard here, but considering that she had been in a bit of pain this entire time, her temper was on a short fuse. Having vented her frustrations in that single shout, she rolled her head back and just waited for MeleeMan to get up. It's not like there was anything else she could do right now.


There was a ghost in front of them. Anyis was looking at it upside down, but there was definitely a ghost looking down at them. What the hell?! It looked kinda like a NormalNavi, but its legs had devolved into some sort of ethereal tail and its head had somehow caved in on itself. The whole thing was pretty grotesque, really. Considering her circumstances, Anyis was more simply confused by this ghost than frightened. This thing was hers, right? It had to be, didn't it? She couldn't really imagine that there were any other Navis here that could summon ghosts like she could. But wait... She hadn't seen this one before. In fact, her summoned ghosts usually don't take a physical form like that. What the... Wait... It's moving its arms forward? It's reaching for MeleeMan... What is it going to...


In an imitation of what Anyis was doing before, the ghost pushed against MeleeMan's shoulders. It, however, had much better results. Not only did MeleeMan get pushed off of Anyis, but got completely upended and thrown onto his own back. And, just as quickly as it had come, the forceful specter vanished into thin air.

Free of her restrainer, Anyis got up onto her knees. Her face had an even more confused look on it before. She had no idea how or why, but Anyis had a sinking feeling that was her fault. "Uh... Err..." muttered Anyis, at a loss for words. "... Sorry about that? I think that was mine..."
Getting up off his back, MeleeMan stood back to his full height and dusted off his giant leather jacket. "Guess I deserved that," he grumbled, seeming to be in a rare mood of admittance for his mistakes. "Anyways, just remember this, Anyis: I said I'm giving you a chance, not a handout. If you want to hang with me and Seraphim," he paused to signal Seraphim with a thumb over one shoulder in Seraphim's direction, "you're going to have to be a beast in battle."

Rania finally looked back to her PET, feeling fairly satisfied to see that MeleeMan and Anyis seemed to be getting along rather than, you know, tackling and shoving each other. "Did you and Anyis decide to stop giving each other a hard time?" she asked with a smile, feeling cautiously optimistic.

"Ha. I never stop giving people a hard time, because it's hard to live up to the extremely high bar I myself set in battle. Don't think my judgment for you is over yet either, Rania," he answered, walking to Seraphim as he talked and looking around at the various groups. Even compared to their weirdness, he realized that his group was significantly less homogeneous in appearance. "Straight up, though, she seems like a decent person to have around. When she strained against me, I felt a hidden power in her, almost like I was being pushed back by an invisible spirit. Also, unlike you, she has a nice rack hidden under there, so that's a plus," he finished, crossing his arms across his chest and giving a nod of approval. Making it back to Seraphim, he gave the navi a hard pat on the back to get his attention. "Ha, look at all these chumps standing around gawking. We're going to tear them to pieces, eh?" he laughed, turning to smirk at his opponents and crossing his thick biceps back across his chest.
"If you strike things as a position that we're going to have to face some sort of ridiculous opposition in the second or third round, Meleeman. Not that I mind, or anything, but I don't think we have a healer or anything." Seraphim gave Meleeman a frank grin. "I don't think that girl can heal, either.Ice mages never have any healing spells."

"You know, he's right. I don't think Meleeman has any healing spells, unless he's acquired any. Does your navi have any?" Erin asked mill, tilting her head. With her expression it would be easy to assume that she was blaming Mill for his failure to equip Anyis with a healing signature if he had not.
As the teams were being registered, Anyis had the lucky notion to push Meleeman off her with a ghost. Meleeman muttered his apologies and grunted out some tests or something while Seraphim contemplated on their strike based team.


Soon enough the teams were registered and shown on a giant holographic screen display, with rather tasteless names picked at random for the teams. They hadn't been put in brackets yet, so everyone supposed what they were doing now. OdorMan let out another cough to get the participants' attention.

"We will now begin the match placements. Switch.... on!" OdorMan boomed, pressing a button that was clearly not a switch. This caused the boxes that held the team names to shuffle and move around in ridiculous manners before finally settling down into pairs. A bit of murmuring came from the crowd as they studied their matchups. Seraphim, Meleeman, and Anyis, now designated as "Andante" were up against "Cosplay" which possibly entailed those oddly accessorized NormalNavis Seraphim encountered earlier.

Overall the brackets looked like.

[MPatrol vs Team Sports]
[Andante vs Cosplay]
[Dynasty vs Strikers]
[Kingdom vs Outcast]

Well, they could figure out which was what as OdorMan explained the rules.

"Well, there will be three battle modes selected once combatants step onto the arena. The first is the one-on-one version which only 2 out of 3 wins are required to pass. The next is the tag-team version where combatants may switch out with their allies using an [action] to face their opponents. The last one is a simple team battle. Victory is claimed when the other side EJOs or surrenders. I hope that explains everything," OdorMan coughed, spraying more perfume on his neck, making the stench in the room even worse than it already was. Was he trying to kill people before their matches even started?

"Right then, all matches will take place at the same time, it's easier that way and conforms to the ONB standards anyway," OdorMan chuckled, rising back up into the sky on his hovering platform, the stench he carried lightening by a lot, making more contestants let out sighs of relief.

The stage that they were all on suddenly split into four and spun out, making rings of their own.

"I'll be watching from above, have fun!" OdorMan bellowed, you could almost imagine his giant belly shaking up and down from his voice or something.

Anyway, time to take your positions. It seemed the arena you'd be fighting on would be the bottom left one.

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