Hiro and Dai took their places in the booth. Both were a little nervous. Stone Cold Steve Austin was supposed to be watching
the door, but he had left, complaining for some odd reason, stealing some small child's ball and going home. They DID have
Kane and the Undertaker guarding them for this round, but still...
Someone knocked on the door. Dai started gathering her belongings up, just in case she needed to vacate the booth but Hiro,
like a fool, opened it.
It was the werewolf, Rip Rowdman, and Ken's wife, Eliza. Eliza was holding a sign with Kane's handwriting that said, "Got
bored. Went to get beer."
Hiro frowned at them. "I'm not leaving the booth. This is MY show, and I'm sick and tired of people like you, and BJ Nash,
and everyone elsACK!"
Rip and Eliza grabbed him and dragged him out, slamming the door behind them. Dai listened for a moment, amused by the
sounds of Hiro screaming in pain as Eliza and Rip dealt with him.
After about a minute, the door opened again.
"Not bad, luv. Where'd you learn to fight like that?" Rip said, shifting back to his human form.
Eliza smirked, dusting her hands off. "When your husband is a multi-time US Champion, you tend to pick up a few tricks
here and there."
They both turned to Dai, who simply saluted, knowing when a lost cause was present, quietly walking out of the booth.
Rip chuckled. "Easier that I thought it'd be. Shall we?" he said, pulling out Hiro's chair.
Eliza grinned and took her seat, picking up Hiro's discarded notes.
"Ladies and gentlemen, welcome once again to the Third-Annual Darkfighter Tournament! Due to unfortunate circumstances,
namely me and my new friend here taking over the booth, Hiro and Dai won't be announcing for this round. So instead, let me
introduce myself. I'm Eliza Masters, and this is my new friend, Rip Rowdman."
There was a surprisingly loud pop from the audience. Rip and Eliza grinned at each other again.
"First up, coming off of a successful match against the evil Army of Dan, being accompanied to the ring by the American
Samurai, Sodom, here's my wonderful husband, the multi-time US Martial Arts Champion, KEN MASTERS!!"
Sodom blinked at Ken. "Ken-san, what just happened?"
Ken grinned, stepping through the entrance as his music hit.
"Don't ask. Just be glad I remembered to have you mentioned," he said, grinning to his fans as he walked down to the ring.
Sodom blinked under his mask. Shrugging, he walked alongside Ken, silently pleased to be called a samurai, savoring the
words in his mind. Ken savored his silence, and hoped it would last. He also savored the fact that several of the women in
the audience seemed to like his new look.
Up in the announce booth...
Rip smirked, "Not too biased, eh luv? Heh. ANYway, here's his opponent, a lovely young lass who managed to outrace and
outshoot the sexy but lethal Morrigan last round, being accompanied to the ring by her guardian, Alia Falcos, here's the demon
gal who could win it all, MARIONETTE!"
The arena floor...
Jim Brickman's "Simple Things" keyed up on the speakers as Marionette, more confident walking down to the ring now, floated
down, waving to the fans, who were cheering surprisingly loud. Ken just stared at her, assessing her as a fighter, watching
Easy win, he thought, grinning evilly.
Sodom whispered in his ear. "Remember Ken-san. She can change into an exact copy of you. But if you remember everything
I've taught you, you'll do fine. Now. Show her your fierce samurai face. GRRR!"
Ken decided to tune out Sodom for now. He yelled at Alia when she came within range, "You just make sure that puppy-dog
up in the booth keeps his paws off of my wife."
Alia smirked. "Relax, Masters. Rip's been trained, he'll behave. You have other things to worry about. Show'em, Abby."
Ken turned to Marionette, dropping into a stance, when he saw that she was staring wide-eyed at him, standing stock straight.
Ken frowned. "What?"
Marionette giggled, her eyes starting to tear up as a smile broke out on her face. "You look like Ronald McDonald!" she
said, doubling over with laughter.
Ken fumed. Sodom's sudden ranting didn't help matters.
"AIYAH!! Ken-san! You must avenge this insult to your honor! Harm her in ten million ways! Use the skills you learned from
the training videos I showed you before this match!"
"Sodom, you showed me three hours of Hamtaro and Magical Girl Pretty Sammy. That didn't do anything other than terrify
and disgust me!"
Marionette perked up at the mention of two of her current favorite shows. Ken blinked at this and glared at Alia, who just
shrugged. She couldn't help it if Marionette liked evil things like that. She tapped Marionette on the shoulder and said,
"Abby, c'mon. You do have a match."
Marionette giggled and nodded, standing up again. She closed her eyes and began to sing in an ancient language, the key
in her back starting to turn as she floated up into the air slightly, her body glowing.
There was a flash of light that blinded Ken for a moment. When his eyes cleared, he was shocked to see what had happened.
Marionette had changed into a perfect replica of him, minus the facepaint and white hair. Mari/Ken grinnned, punching the
air a few times and then beckoning him forward, saying "Ikuze!"
Ken smirked, and dropped into a fighting stance. "Looks like this will be interesting after all..."
The two competitors circled each other. Ken narrowed his eyes at his foe. Mari/Ken winked at hers.
She's sorta cute for a doll, he thought, remembering her normal form, I wonder... He remembered Eliza was
in the stands, and had those damnable psychic powers. Bad, Ken, very bad! Bad! Err, not cute at all! He decided to
focus on the fight and started in with a left hook. Marionette took the hit but hit Ken with an identical left hook. They
both staggered back, both ran a hand across their mouth for blood.
Ow! That hurt! Mari/Ken thought. But he does still look pretty good with white hair.
Not funny, Ken thought. Let's see how she likes a little ki action. He brought his hands back, focused his energy,
and screamed his trademark war cry... "WHAT THE HELllllllll..." There was a thud as Ken was blasted against a ring post. He
winced, the wind knocked out of him. Mari/Ken had hit him with his own signature move.
No way! She's mimicking me! Ken was astonished. Why didn't Sodom even try to tell me about that?
Mari/Ken called over to him. "That was kinda fun! Let's try it again!" She was only half-mocking him. Enraged, and thusly
completely unaware of his situation, Ken rushed Marionette again.
"Tatsimakusenpyaku!" he yelled, as he leapt up into the air and became a blur of flying feet. He was worried when he hadn't
felt face underneath his feet. He figured out why when Mari/Ken's heel smashed into his jaw and he fell to the ground. He
used this brief moment of silence to try and come up with a new attack plan. Mari/Ken stood there, giggling and waiting for
Ken to get back up.
Up in the announce booth...
Eliza was screaming. She was unhappy, and everyone in the booth knew it.
"She can do everything you can do, you idiot! You've got to think of something else!" She pounded on the table and swore
"You'd think a guy who chose you out of all the women in the world would be smarter," her lycanthropic companion quipped.
"You'd think so!" Eliza said, too concentrated on her husband's lousy performance to notice the veiled wisecrack.
The arena floor...
Sodom also wasn't impressed with Ken's offense thus far, but he had no idea what to do or say to help the situation. He
had been frantically flipping through the Hagakure, but the otherwise always-helpful book offered no advice on fighting dolls
that could mimic your every move. Well, there was something about running through the rain, but that could hardly be applied
to this situation. He yelled over to Alia, who was watching the proceedings with glee.
"Hey!" She turned to regard him. "Don't you think this is kind of unfair? Can't you flip a switch, or something?" She stared
at him, eyebrows furrowed. Sodom blinked. This wasn't going well.
By now the fight was just getting pathetic. No matter what Ken did, Mari/Ken just did it back, harder and faster. While
this would probably entertain some very specific types of people, who would then write steamy fanfiction about it, it was
really beginning to take its toll on the U.S. Martial Arts Champion, and he'd had enough. His eyes glowed malevolently as
he uttered a phrase few thought he would use in this conflict.
The Kuzuryureppa was Ken's DEADLIEST technique, the closest thing to a Killing Art that Gouken would teach him. It combined
elements from all of his trademark Super Arts, mixing them into one massive beatdown. Before ANYONE could react, Ken literally
tore into Marionette with a cyclone of fists and feet. Unable to maintain her transformation, she reverted to her normal state,
wood chips starting to fly off of her as Ken pounded her harder and harder, finishing with a massive uppercut and spin kick
that sent Marionette flying to one corner of the ring.
Satisfied, Ken landed on the ground, preparing for whatever Marionette would do next.
He had no way at all of expecting what Marionette DID do, however...
Whimpering, she got to her knees, staring up at Ken with tears in her eyes. The psuedo-skin of her face was torn in several
places, revealed chipped, damaged wood. She stared at Ken for a moment, sniffling, then started sobbing.
"Waaaahhhhhh!!" Tears flowed in rivers down her face as she sobbed, her face in her hands. Ken facefaulted.
"*sniffle* You're a big meanie! Why'd you hafta do that?! Waah!!" she wailed.
The announce booth...
Eliza stared at the ring, dumbfounded and speechless as Rip kept up the commentary. Ken had told her about this technique.
He had also said that he didn't like using it, because it was simply too powerful. Why had he used it now, on a creature that
was basically just a little girl?
Rip, for his part, just kept talking. It was the only way he could prevent himself from giggling.
The crowd starting booing Ken. In desperation, he looked to Sodom for advice.
Sodom grimaced underneath his mask, still rattled by the brutality of the attack. "Ken-san, really... Don't you think that
was a bit much?"
Ken facefaulted again. "What the...!!?! She was humiliating me! She changed into an exact copy of me, right down to the
attacks! What the hell was I suppossed to do?!"
"She's still just a little girl. Granted, she's a demon, but she's still just a cute little girl..."
"SODOM! LESS GRIPING! MORE ADVICE!"
Sodom yipped, startled by the desperation in Ken's voice. He thought for a moment, and flipped through the Hagakure. "Try
apologizing. Maybe you could go over and give her a hug, and comfort her."
Ken blinked. "You think that will work?"
Sodom nodded. "A true samurai warrior always admits mistakes and tries to make amends. It's the only honorable thing to
Sound's reasonable enough, Ken thought, mentally translating Sodom's speech into something reasonable. He turned
back to Marionette, and put a hand behind his head, grinning weakly. "Look... Um... Marionette?"
Marionette looked up at him reluctantly.
Ken started walking towards her, saying, "Look, I'm sorry about earlier. I just... I just got frustrated and desperate
and... I panicked. I didn't mean to hurt you that badly."
Marionette sniffled. "You mean it?"
"Yeah. I do. I mean, I've never faced anyone like you before..."
Sodom smiled as he watched Ken apologize to Marionette, who was starting to smile, pleased by this action, proud of Ken
for following his instructions so well. Then started to notice something. The werewolf was talking, but he wasn't bashing
Ken at all. He was a known associate of Marionette's, so biased words would be expected.
Frowning underneath his mask, he shook it off. Then he looked over at Alia.
The Stand-weilder was staring intently at the ring. And she looked like she was fighting off laughter.
He looked at the ring. Ken was now standing right in front of Marionette.
"KEN! BACK AWAY FROM HER! IT'S A TRICK!"
Far too late Sodom's warning came, as Marionette balled-up fist came up, hitting Ken in a rather... sensitive area.
Up in the booth, Rip literally fell over laughing as Eliza began to realize what was going on, her face growing redder
and redder as she got angrier and angrier...
Ken howled in agony. Being nailed in the nuts was bad enough. Add in Marionette's more-than-normal strength AND the fact
that she decided to hold on and lift him up off the ground, and you'll begin to realize that Ken wasn't exactly feeling good
at the moment.
The crowd was cheering this treachery loudly. Still holding on to Ken's privates, she lifted the fighter over her head,
and flung his across the ring.
Alia laughed, shouting "That's my girl!".
She laughed harder when she heard Ken scream "Oh my fucking God!!" in a voice about two octaves higher than normal.
Sodom shouted to Ken, "Get up! I know it hurts but you have to get up before she attacks you again!" and turned to Alia,
his eyes flashing as he withdrew his jittes from the holsters in his belt, stalking towards the woman.
Alia high-fived Marionette who giggled. "Did I do good?" Marionette asked.
"You did great, Abby. Just like we planned. Now change back into his copy and finish it."
Marionette nodded, and turned back to Ken, changing back to her copied form.
Alia smiled at her, very proud. She didn't notice the enfuriated Sodom rushing her with a jitte slice.
Fortunetly, her Stand did.
Rainbow Excalibur emerged from Alia's side, visible due to the rules Stand-Users had to go by in the Clashdome, parrying
Sodom's strike just before it hit.
Alia smiled, and her Stand manifested fully. The rainbow-colored, knight-armored woman grinned, forming a broadsword and
shield, taking a fighting stance in front of Sodom.
Sodom, undaunted, charged her, intent engaging her in battle to avenge Ken's honor even as Ken and Marionette restarted
The spirit knight would have none of Sodom's attempted assault. Raising one of her multicolored gauntlets, she casually
backhanded the samurai wannabe across the face, sending him spiraling backwards into the Spanish announcer's table, which
most people believe was constructed for the sole purpose of making big guys fall through it.
Amidst the shouts of "Muy mal!" and "El hombre es loco!" Sodom found a sword pointed at his throat. He glanced at Alia,
who was laughing evilly, and swallowed hard.
Meanwhile, Ken had some problems of his own. Mari/Ken had now, after having seen his desperation manuever, picked up a
couple new tricks. He had never been on the receiving end of one of his own Dragon Punches, and didn't much care for the feeling.
His chest burned as he fell to the ground, and he hoped it didn't scar up like it did on that big goober Sagat.
Mari/Ken was clearly having a blast. The cute ruse had worked, and now Ken was on his back and in considerable pain. The
match was hers. So she decided to take part in the time-honored sports entertainment tradition of posturing and posing while
her opponent lay helpless on the mat. The crowd cheered and booed accordingly.
Out of the corner of his eye, Ken saw the knight-armored spirit-woman advancing towards his...er...well, he wasn't really
sure what Sodom was, but he was sure he didn't want to see the big idiot die. For one thing, a casket for a guy that big would
be expensive as hell. So he decided to take some action with what strength he had left.
The announce booth...
Rip was still gloating as Mari/Ken postured and Ken lay motionless. Eliza was still silent, because she knew what her husband
She thought it was a mistake and he'd probably end up seriously injured, but there wasn't anything she could do.
Slowly, Ken grabbed at the ropes, Mari/Ken still oblivious and eating up the crowd's reaction. He pulled himself to the
top of the ringpost, winced in pain as he stood up, and launched himself at the rainbow knight, catching the Stand in her
helmet with a kick.
That's what was supposed to happen, not what did. What actually happened was Ken sailed through the Stand's head and flew
into the crowd, who was less than receptive to Ken landing on top of their heads and made it known, dumping him into the aisle.
Sodom, ever polite and with the sword still at his throat, yelled to Ken "Thanks, Ken-san! I know you meant well!" Ken
grimaced. Mari/Ken, having realized that her opponent was out of the ring, had followed him out and was now standing over
Ken frowned up at her. "What just happened?"
Mari/Ken giggled, dancing slightly as she said in a sing-songy voice, "You don't have a Stand, therefore you can't hurt
"Would've been nice to know beforehand," Ken grumbled, trying to get to his feet. Then a thought occured to him, as he
mentally reviewed Marionette's offense throughout the entire match, "There's just one thing I've been wondering, though..."
Mari/Ken decided to ignore him, whirling into a Tastumakisenpukyaku to finish him off. Ken rolled under the still-spinning
copycat, hitting Mari/Ken in the chest with the flaming version of his trademark move, the Shoryuken.
Mari/Ken yelped, flying back into the ring and landing hard, a flaming streak burnt onto her chest. Mari/Ken patted out
the flames, then glared at Ken.
Ken smirked. His surprise attack had left a scar on Mari/Ken's chest, one that exactly mimicked Sagat's.
Well, I'll be damned, Ken thought, suddenly realizing something. "I think I've figured out your weakness, puppet
lady. While you may be able to copy someone's attacks and skill exactly, you don't know how to fight back if they know how
to counter their own moves."
Mari/Ken just snarled at him, her eyes glowing demonically as she started to get angry.
Ken just smirked as got back into the ring and dropped into a fighting stance again. "I will say this, before I put you
down. It's been an honor fighting you. And a very educational experience."
Mari/Ken and Ken charged each other.
Alia, outside the ring, her Stand's blade still at Sodom's throat, had been listening to Ken, and suddenly realized that
the Shotokan fighter was correct, and that Marionette was finished...
Rainbow Excalibur frowned, wondering what Alia would do. Reluctantly, she turned away briefly to ask her.
"Alia, what are you planning? If we get involved, Abby's disqualified..."
Sodom knew an opportunity when he saw one. Rolling out of the way, he threw a Spanish announcer aside, picked up the chair
the man was sitting in, and smashed Alia in the back of the head with it.
Black flowers blossomed behind Alia's eyes as she went down in pain, her concentration shot as Rainbow Excalibur vanished
back into her mind, out for the duration of the match.
Sodom drew his jittes again, having holstered them when he picked up the chair.
"Now, Alia-san. Let's see if you can fight WITHOUT your Stand..."
Alia growled at him, rubbing the back of her head to try and clear away the cobwebs. She did a mental check on her stand,
finding her unresponsive. She snarled angrily.
"Fine by me, you miserable street-punk. I'm more than a match for you even without Cally," she said, picking up her falcon-imaged
shield that she had set at ringside, lunging at the muscle-bound samurai wanna-be.
"SODOM!" Ken shouted.
"ALIA!" Mari/Ken shouted.
The two fighters stopped in mid-attack, turned, and saw their two comrades facing off against each other, ready to do battle.
"This is between the two of us. We'll finish this fight on OUR terms," they both said in unison. Sodom and Alia watched,
awed, as the two of them began to battle, their form perfect, each punch and kick matched by each other.
Marionette wondered how this could have happened. In her form as Mari/Ken, she could do whatever Ken could do. Unfortunetly,
Ken was familiar enough with his own style to know a way to counter everything Mari/Ken threw at him.
Mari/Ken was getting desperate. She tried a Tatsumaki again, but Ken rolled under her and Shoryukened her out of the air.
She threw Hadokens but Ken just dodged or parried each one and struck her in the face with a palm strike, breaking her nose.
Black flowers blossomed in Mari/Ken's eyes as stabbing pain shot through her face. She staggered back, clutching her heavily
bleeding face. Before she could recover, Ken continued his assault, launching a volley of kicks on Mari/Ken's head. He finished
with a Tatsumakisenpuukyaku, savoring the feeling of his feet colliding HARD with Mari/Ken's face, sending the Darkstalker
copycat flying across the ring.
Mari/Ken struggled to her feet, groaning, and glared at Ken. Ken just smirked, and punched the air a few times, beckoning
Mari/Ken forward and saying, "Ikuze."
Mari/Ken snarled, pure savage instinct taking over as she ran at the American karateka. Her eyes glowed red, and she launched
her OWN Kuzuryureppa. But Ken was ready for this desperation attack. He dodged every punch and kick, backstepping around the
ring and Mari/Ken flailed at him.
The final uppercut and spin kick, however, caught Ken off guard, hitting him with the full force of Marionette's inhuman
strength. Sharp, slicing pain shot through Ken's head, black flowers blossoming behind his eyes. He flew across the ring,
collapsing near a corner.
Mari/Ken growled ferally, roared, "Now I finish you!!!" and lunged.
Alia blinked as she saw Ken quickly start to get into a crouching position, and realized what the shotokan fighter was
Ken's eyes flashed as Mari/Ken sailed through the air. When she got just over Ken's head...
A column of blinding flame and light engulphed Ken as he spiralled into the air, his fist catching Mari/Ken in the chest.
The two of them flew high into the air, Mari/Ken's scream of pain barely audible over the cheering of the audience.
Finally, the light faded. Ken landed lightly on his feet, recovering from the move, visibly dazed and struggling to stay
on his feet. Marionette, back in her natural form, fell like a stone, landing hard on the arena floor, her body battered,
badly burned, and nearly broken. Alia leaped into the ring to check on Marionette as Ken's legs gave out on him. He slumped
over in the corner.
"Did I win?" Ken asked.
Sodom just stared at Marionette, who groaned weakly as Alia picked her up. "I think you did, Ken-san." The big samurai
got into the ring as well, helping Ken stand up.
Alia, carrying the still weakly groaning Marionette, came over to Ken. "Congrats, Masters. She can't fight anymore. You've
won." There was no malice or bitterness in Alia's voice, just sincere matter-of-factness. She turned and got out of the ring,
careful not to jostle Marionette.
The crowd cheered even louder at this announcment.
Ken just smiled weakly, and had Sodom pick up a discarded microphone for him. "You tell her when she wakes up that I had
one of hell of a time fighting her. It was one of the best matches I've had in a while, and I mean that," he said to Alia
as she carried her ward to the back.
Alia turned slowly, staring at Ken. Then she smiled. "I will. And thank you. You're one of the good guys, Ken Masters,"
she said, turning back and walking through the curtains.
Sodom smiled at Ken underneath his mask. "Well done, Ken-san."
Ken waved weakly to the crowd and grinned at Sodom. "Thanks, big guy," he said, thinking that sometimes the big goof could
be a good friend.
"I'll make a samurai out of you yet," Sodom added after a moment.
Ken grimaced, now just wanting to get away from Sodom to finish washing the Kabuki paint off before his next match.
Up in the booth...
Rip frowned, and shrugged. "Can't win everything."
Eliza hadn't stopped grinning for the past five minutes. "Marionette puts up a tremendous fight, but Ken manages to squeak
out a victory, proving once and for all that nothing can beat the original. Let's give it up for both Marionette and my man
Rip smirked at Eliza as the crowd cheered Ken loudly as Sodom helped him to the back. "Not bad, luv. I would have thought
you incapable of being unbiased," Rip said.
Eliza grinned. "Just goes to show you, never underestimate a Masters. Now c'mon. Hiro and Dai should be back soon, so let's
go get something to drink."
Rip snickered. "Oh, Hiro's already back. He brought reinforcements with him to ambush us on the way out. I scented them
a few minutes ago."
Eliza frowned. "Who did he bring?"
Rip laughed. "The War Gods. And only five of them."
Eliza relaxed, and said. "Oh. No problem, then. C'mon, let's go."