Beatrice Barrowman is standing just past the doorway that the two of them -- Zuwen assisting Rocco, who still hasn't regained full mobility --- use to exit the arena, and she is not best pleased. "Congratulations, you have interfered with a major operation --" she starts to say.

Zuwen interrupts. "Just as you are interfering with a major operation by a different branch of your organization, so as to prevent them from achieving victory." He lets Rocco stand on his own, and offers his defeated opponent a polite nod. "You fought well. I learned a great deal."

"I guess I did too," says Rocco, rather sourly.

The old man ignores that. "Not as much as I would have liked, though," he says, looking distant. "The One Punch would have made a marvelous addition to my techniques." With that observation, he ambles off away from the two of them.

Eventually, Rocco looks at his boss, who is staring in the direction that Zuwen took to leave. "Okay, let me have it," he says wearily. "I was incau--"

"I have decided," says Beatrice, still not looking at him, "that you are permitted to call me 'little mother'. Occasionally." That last is de-liv-er-ed with much ar-tic-u-la-tion.

Rocco stares. "Hah?"

Now she whips around to glare at him. "I said, how could you possibly screw up this badly! Dunce! Cretin! Duncecretin! How am I supposed to send you on missions that demand you be intimidating after this?! One simple rule I asked you to follow, and you couldn't manage that! They will all laugh at you after this, which is fine, but they effectively will be laughing at me, which is not!" She continues in this line for quite some time, and Rocco says nothing.

Nor does he grin.


It's taken a while for Lonnie to notice this, but there aren't actually a lot of Bhutanese people here. The thought comes to him as he sees some working the counter at the concession, and realizes that there aren't any in line to make purchases from them. It makes him a bit uncomfortable, but there really isn't anything he can do about it, so he stuffs that away.

Making his purchase, Lonnie turns to head back to his comped seat -- courtesy of the Richmond Foundation -- so that he can watch the Avatar's first fight. As he turns, he is abruptly reminded of the saying that you can go halfway round the world and wind up meeting someone you know from back home. It doesn't really apply, since 'home' is Los Angeles these days, and the person he's seeing across a crowded hall is from Portland, but the sight is still a shocking one. "Patty!"

Patricia Mason turns at the sound of a version of her name that practically no one in the world has ever used. "Lonnie?" she says, startled.

The two of them make their way through the crowd, and yet when they find themselves face to face, neither of them is quite sure what to say next.

"You, you look good," Lonnie says at last. "How are you?"

Patricia's opens her mouth to say one thing, and ends up saying quite another. "Not good, really."

"What's wrong?" he asks, face falling.

"Ah, well, I found out that my sister is a criminal mastermind. Annnd so my brother and I, and some friends of ours, are here hunting her down. In Thimpu, not necessarily at this ... thing," she says, awkwardly. "So, yeah, that's where I'm at. Uh, listen, I'd love to stay and talk, but, you know, pursuit of vengeance, and all that. It was really ... really nice to see you again, Lonnie." She nods, smiling an empty smile, and then turns to go.

He says, "Let me help." He's not sure why. Well, yes, he is.

She pauses, doesn't quite look back. "It's not your fight," she says.

"I'll make it my fight," he says.

She turns to look at him. "Okay," she says at last.

And a bit away, the young woman who calls herself Nikki Purvis watches the moment her parents came together again with a sad, sweet smile on her face. It's one more step towards the beginning of the end, but she can afford some sentiment, surely. There's more to do, though, and so she goes off in a different direction than those two do.

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While he has traveled extensively in this strange world, encountering many of its wonders and horrors, the Avatar has never yet visited Japan, and has many questions he would like to ask the individual who now confronts him on the other side of the octagon. However, as that individual is loudly proclaiming the Avatar's imminent doom, a productive conversation seems unlikely. Still, he has been subjected to enough actual threats in his time here to recognize that this so-called Sheng Long -- a Chinese name, which is one of the more confusing aspects of the other individual's identity -- is playing to the crowd. As such, it seems safe to tune him out.

And, sure enough, as the countdown ends, his opponent abandons such bravado and adopts an appropriate defensive position. The Avatar responds by testing it with a light punch, meant solely to gauge Sheng Long's defenses, rather than do harm. Sure enough, the other is easily able to intercept and redirect that blow. "Pathetic!" says Sheng Long, a sneer on his lips. "I had heard I would be fighting one whom Paragon views as a peer! Am I to believe that they meant such as you?"

Interesting. The Avatar wonders why Sheng Long is attempting to provoke him to greater levels of violence. Well, that is the language being spoken at the moment, so it would behoove him to respond in the appropriate manner. The next blow, directed at Sheng Long's upper chest, cannot be so easily deflected, and strikes the other man hard enough that it knocks him back into the fencing that makes up the arena's outer wall.

And yet, he seems happy. "Fool!" says Sheng Long. (He clearly has a preference for declarative insults.) "Now you shall face the Dragon in truth!" His eyes begin to glow, his bright red hair is stirred despite the absence of any wind, and there is a faint ripple in the air before him. Something strikes against the Avatar's flesh, though it does not suffice to injure him. But it does give him cause for thought.

"That is a very interesting form of telekinesis you are employing," says the Avatar. "I now understand a warning I was recently given."

Sheng Long glares. "Wretch!" (He continues to demonstrate his penchant.) "What I possess is no trick of science, but a manifestation of the Dragon with whom I am entwined!"

"... are you confessing to having brought an ally into what is supposed to be an individual conflict?"

"What? No!"

"Then, you would agree that this is your own power, rather than that of an imagined dragon?"


The Avatar sighs. "I don't know why I bother trying to talk, sometimes." With that, he launches a potent assault on Sheng Long that the martial artist is able to evade, and which leaves him open to a counterattack with his actual fist, more successful than before. The Avatar winces, touching the area covered by his tanktop that the martial artist was able to strike.

"Ha! You felt that one!" Sheng Long laughs at the sight.

"Yes," says the Avatar, in a tone unlike that which he has used until this point. "It was quite painful." And with that, he launches himself towards his opponent, seizing him in a bear hug. Before Sheng Long can wiggle free, the Avatar then soars up to the height of the arena.

"Tell me," he says conversationally. "Does the dragon grant you its power of flight?"

"I -- you --"

"Or will it catch you if you fall?" He starts to ease his grip on the other man.

"I surrender!"

"... very well, then." With that, the Avatar descends once more, releasing Sheng Long only once he has reached a safe distance above the ground.

"You will pay for this humiliation, alien," says his former opponent when he recovers his footing, speaking under the sound of Thunder Dragon's voice asking about boons. "My master will answer for this!"

"Would I be correct in concluding that your master is the one who granted you power?" This requires no particular deductive brilliance. An entity like this, who worships power, would only serve one who provided it.


"Then this is my boon -- tell them that I look forward to our conversation."

And on that note, the first day of the Tournament reached its conclusion.

Side B, Match 4: Sheng Long vs. The Avatar

Sheng Long: Initiative +17/+9, Unarmed +12 (Close Damage DC 18), With Dragon Essence +15/+12 (Close Damage DC 22), Striking Claw +15/+12 (Close Damage DC 24), Reaching Claw +11 (Ranged Damage DC 24), Dodge 12/9 (22/19), Parry 15/12 (25/22), Fortitude 9/5, Toughness 9/7/5/3, Will 11, Acrobatics +11, Athletics +13/+9, Insight +12, Intimidation +13/+9)
Hero Points: 2
All, Agile Feint, Assessment, Daze (Intimidation), Fast Grab, Fearless, Grabbing Finesse, Improved Disarm, Improved Trip, Ultimate Effort (Toughness).

The Avatar: Initiative +19, Unarmed +13/+11 (Close Damage 26), Dodge 12 (22), Parry 14 (24), Fortitude 14, Toughness 12, Will 10, Insight +8.
Hero Points: 1
Fearless 2.

Turn 1: The Avatar 28, Sheng Long 10

The Avatar makes a +2/-2 Accurate Attack.

Attack Roll 1d20+13+2=18 vs. Parry DC 22; Miss.

Sheng Long Assesses as a free action, learning the Avatar's Attack and Defense bonuses, and then Demoralizes.

Insight 1d20+12=27 vs. Deception 1d20+3=12
Intimidation 1d20+9=27 vs. Will DC 25; Impaired.

Turn 2: The Avatar 24, Sheng Long 11

The Avatar makes a straightforward attack.

Attack Roll 1d20+13-2=23 vs. Parry DC 22; Hit
Toughness 1d20+5=6; Reroll
Toughness 1d20+5=24 vs. Damage DC 26; Bruised.

Sheng Long activates his Dragon Essence, and makes an +5/-5 All-out Attack with his Reaching Claw power.

Attack Roll 1d20+11+5=25 vs. Dodge DC 22; Hit.
Toughness 1d20+12=28 vs. Damage DC 24; No effect.

Turn 3: The Avatar 33, Sheng Long 20

The Avatar makes a +2/-2 Power Attack.

Attack Roll 1d20+13-2=12; Automatic Miss

Sheng Long makes a +5/-5 Power Attack with his Striking Claw.

Attack Roll 1d20+15-5=29 vs. Parry DC 24; Hit
Toughness 1d20+12=20 vs. Damage DC 29; Bruised, Dazed.

Turn 4: The Avatar 37, Sheng Long 27

The Avatar attempts a Grab, and removes his Bruised condition at the end of the round.

Attack Roll 1d20+11=26 vs. Parry DC 24; Hit
Dodge 1d10+12=22 vs. Strength DC 26; Immobile and Vulnerable

He then uses Extra Effort to take another standard action, uses it for a move action, and flies to the top of the arena.

Sheng Long surrenders.

Victor: The Avatar.


The second day of the tournament gets off to a very strange start.

The beginning of the beginning is much like the previous day. Once again, Thunder Dragon delivers an oration about the competition, making brief reference to what had gone before while mostly focusing on what was yet to come, and the possibility that one of those who fought today will have the chance to face off with his own exalted self. He seems, while speaking, to be expecting to be interrupted again as he was the other day, but nothing of that sort occurs this time.

And then Talante and Bravo enter the octagon from opposite sides, just as in all the battles that it saw yesterday. And just as every time before, the two contenders walk towards the center to face off as the counter slowly clicks towards the start of the battle. The only major difference is the expression on Talante's face this morning. Where her face was locked in a perpetual scowl, even during and after her triumph, it is now animated by a look that could only be described as a sinister smile.

The count reaches zero.

And Talante, quite clearly, announces, "I surrender."

After a moment, the voice of the crowd indicates their highly negative view of this development. The boos and catcalls affect Talante not a whit; she keeps right on smiling.

High above, Thunder Dragon is frowning just as deeply. "This is truly what you choose?" he asks.

"Yes," the Hesperan says, turning to look up at him. "I've had a ... revelation, I suppose. This fight won't get me what I really want." Still smiling. Maybe just a bit maniacally.

The ruler lets out a disgusted snort. "On your own head be it, then. What boon will you extract as a forfeit?" This is shouted down towards where Bravo stands, apparently unmoved by any of this.

"You will travel to Seoul," says Bravo's synthesized voice. "My master always enjoys conversing with his fellow monarchs."

Having said her piece to Thunder Dragon, Talante has begun looking through the stands. As Bravo delivers that demand, she finds what she's looking for, and the fixed smile on her face grows positively malevolent. "Certainly," she almost coos, staring directly at where Trouble is sitting. "I will do so happily."

Trouble doesn't react.

Elsewhere, however, Dancer is watching all this from her own seat with a frown. That's not what what happened, she thinks. Talante was supposed to fight Bravo, be defeated, and then go to the Emperor as the boon that he asked ... I guess that's still what's happening, but why is it happening this way, instead?

Of course, she learned about all this only second hand, and it isn't the first time that she's encountered events that contradict her education about the past which has become her present. But not so blatantly as this.


"Are you planning on surrendering right out of the gate?" Amari asks her opponent as she gazes frankly across the center of the octagon at her.

The other woman shakes her head in calm silence, further confirming something that Amari has suspected since she watched her opponent's first match.

Abidemi Sowande has never met Ibuki Kruger, and rumors of her activities in East Germany have not, unsurprisingly, spread as far as Ghana. But Abidemi has met members of the Ultra Girls, including Magnolia, who said a few things about her friend, notably saying that Amari's free-spirit reminded her of Ibuki. And that comparison suggests that she would not answer banter with silence, but banter right back. So this is most probably an imposter. Exposing whoever it was would win the match out of hand. But having seen this person fight, Amari finds her competitive side somewhat provoked.

So instead, she readies herself, hoping that she will prove a greater challenge than the Noble Demon did and --

The buzzer sounds. It seems like they move in the same moment, with her adversary just the tiniest bit more swift, so that, to Amari's senses, it is as though the flying jump kick coming toward her moves like a bullet speeding through molasses in comparison to herself. It strikes her sternum and she reels backward, barely retaining enough presence of mind to turn her near-fall into a slam into the ground. And even doing so proves useless, for "Ibuki" summersaults backwards to avoid the tremor that was so effective last time.

She was watching me, too, Amari thinks through the pain. All right. Use what I didn't, before.

And with that, she surges up to first slam one fist into the opponent's stomach and push out the wind, then twine around her so as to wrap up her throat so no more air can come in. The panic begins almost at once, and despite her generally kind-hearted nature, Amari feels a surge at relief as she feels "Ibuki" start to struggle. If she had been someone who didn't need to breathe, this could easily have gone the other way.

As it happens, it nearly starts to go the other way as soon as it began, for the other woman manages to almost wiggle out of the hold, enough to draw in a few more seconds of precious air. Grimly, Amari tightens her grip, and feels her opponents struggle lessen, and then cease -- then promptly releases her hold, something possible only due to her inhuman level of control. Anyone else doing this might have done permanent damage, or worse.

She's won.

Hurrah for brutality, Amari thinks, unhappily, looking down at the woman she's holding, as Thunder Dragon asks meaningless questions about boons.

Side B, Match I: Ibuki vs. Amari

"Ibuki": Initiative +14, Unarmed +15/+10 (Damage DC 22, Crit 18-20), Dodge 14 (24), Parry 14 (24), Fortitude 9, Toughness 8/6, Will 9, Acrobatics +12, Deception +13, Insight +10, Intimidation +8.
Hero Points: 1
All-out Attack, Evasion 2, Improved Defense, Power Attack.

Amari: Initiative +16, Unarmed +10 (Damage DC 23), Bullet Throw +8 (Damage DC 19), Shockwave (Burst Area Dodge DC 23), Dodge 8 (DC 18), Parry 8 (DC 18), Fortitude 10, Toughness 12, Will 8, Acrobatics +9, Athletics +10, Insight +7.
Hero Points: 2
Extraordinary Effort, Power Attack.

Turn 1: Amari 34, "Ibuki" 34; Ibuki wins tie.

"Ibuki" makes a +5/-5 Power Attack as a Surprise Attack

Unarmed Attack 1d20+15-5=25 vs. Dodge DC 14; Hit
Toughness 1d20+12=20 vs. Damage DC 27; Dazed, Bruised.

Amari uses her Shockwave.

Dodge 1d20+14+5=27 vs. Effect DC 23; Half effect.
Dodge 1d20+14=31 vs. Effect DC 19; No effect.

Turn 2: Amari 17; "Ibuki" 15

Amari Grabs, using her Sleeper Hold when she succeeds.

Unarmed Attack 1d20+14=29 vs. Parry DC 24; Hit
Dodge 1d20+14=17 vs. Strength DC 23; Defenseless, Immobile, Impaired.
Fortitude 1d20+9=11 vs. Effect DC 23; Dazed, Stunned.

Ibuki gets no action.

Turn 3: "Ibuki" 29, Amari 18

"Ibuki" spends her Hero Point to recover from her Stunned condition, and attempts to Escape.

Acrobatics 1d20+12-2=11 vs. Strength DC 18; Fail

Amari maintains her hold and continues her Sleeper Hold

Fortitude 1d20+9=28 vs. Effect DC 23; No effect.

Turn 4: Amari 23, "Ibuki" 17

Amari maintains her hold and continues her Sleeper Hold.

Fortitude 1d20+9=10 vs. Effect DC 23; Incapacitated.

Victor: Amari.


Updated schedule:

Side ASide B
Round 1Round 2Round 3Round 4Round 3Round 2Round 1
Match 1:
Prydwen vs.
Match 1:
Ibuki vs.
TalanteMatch I:
Match I:
Match 2:
Almeida vs.
vs.A Side Semifinal:
B Side Semifinal:
vs.Match 2:
Tarmund vs.
Side A vs. Side B.
Match 3:
Logan vs.
Winner, Match IIWinner Fights
Thunder Dragon
Winner, Match IIMatch 3:
Fuego vs.
Sun WukongMatch II:
Match II:
Match 4:
Zuwen vs.
vs.vs.Match 4:
Sheng Long vs.
RoccoZuwenThe AvatarThe Avatar

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