S a m u e l | T h e F r i t z
"Also Wukong, but that would be effort"
— Sam & The Fritz
Agent Silhouette struck a defensive pose, posturing with his sword before his dagger. The glowing, eerie orbs he called eyes in this form unmoving from his target.
This does not bode well. How can I practice team synergy with no team?
He could feel the eyes of his boss upon his back and they may as well have been drills for all it mattered. To disappoint Fritzi so spectacularly… he wondered if they would still have jobs after this.
No, he still had a chance to salvage this, to save face. All he had to do was best this knight before him.
This valiant, strange, and powerful knight that had rendered a fellow agent helpless with but a single well-placed blow. No pressure.
Put on a show!
THE FASTEST SINNER WILL EDIT THE TEXT!
LET’S GET THE MONEY
Taking note of MDP, Samuel sprung into action, much like the armored knight did before. Gathering energy of his own within his hand, he constructed a pitch-black square about twice the size of a rubik's cube which he then flung in the knight’s direction. It was not, however, aimed directly at him but instead towards the ground beside his feet, with just enough power behind the throw that it might skid a foot or two past him, should he avoid it.
Lilliah had not even finished falling over, and the Pink Pounder was already moving towards Sam. With the projectile inbound, the knight rolled off to the side, placing plenty of distance between himself and the projectile. He did not stay tumbling for long though. He was fast to spring to his feet, and charged towards Sam without waiting to catch his breath.
When MDP brought down her wand, a star fell from the heavens and collided with Lillia’s head. Candy canes swirled around her form and locked her in place, not unlike a restrain melody might. While Lilliah was in a lot of pain, she was still conscious.
The cube simply slid along the floor until it came to a stop, nothing else happening.
Silhouette hadn't been given enough time to conduct another melody, leaving him little choice but to respond to the knight's charge.
While Silhouette was quite tall, his form was relatively thin. There was no mistaking which one of these two played the role of the bigger combatant. And with no desire to attempt to resist the momentum his 'larger' foe carried, Silhouette would rather side step the charge altogether at the last possible moment. He wouldn't hesitate to thrust his dagger into his opponent if the opportunity presented itself.
Though all of this took place in mere moments, he managed to keep MDP and Wukong in his focus.
"I would think that her exclusion meant she would not interfere with this spar," Silhouette's voice seemed calm enough, but there was a hint of irritation. Or maybe it was secretly desperation since he didn't have much control over the situation currently.
“You are mistaken!”
There were no opportunities for a sly flourish of Samuel’s dagger, and shortly after his dodge, he found himself locking blades with the Pink Pounder. Both combatants were using a duel weapon configuration, and their sword blows appeared to be evenly matched, while the Pounder’s massive shield offered no openings for Sam's dagger to penetrate.
“The only thing MAGICAL DREAM PRINCESS is guilty of is defending herself. Something that you should be doing!”
It wasn’t entirely obvious, but it did seem like Pink Pounder had misunderstood Samuel’s comment a bit. This could have been because he was more focused on the fight between them, as this was full contact sparring and a lack in focus could end with someone losing a limb. It could also be that the Pink Pounder was a filthy LARPer that couldn’t get out of character, if they weren’t suffering from some form of insanity.
His sword glowed, another melody would be coming shortly.
As flamboyant as the knight was, he did have quite the point. One Samuel couldn't exactly dismiss since any attempt he had made to wound the knight had been nullified without difficulty by a shield. It didn't exactly take long for Samuel (and the knight, he imagined) to understand he was the lesser of the two favored for a clash like they were in. Naturally, he sought a way out.
Preferably without a sword splitting me in half...
He hadn't managed to work out entirely how he'd escape before his eye caught the gleaming of a sword imbued with power. Sadly, the fact he could see it meant that there wasn't enough time to cast a meaningful melody first.
But I can go second!
A foreign shadow appeared below the knight, swirling with magical energy. A spawn note wasn't exactly subtle. But regardless, it wouldn't manage to activate until after whatever the knight had planned came to pass. Samuel couldn't tell what this man had in store for him but he knew it could only be bad.
He wanted to break off the engagement and settle at a distance. If he could do that, the melody would be easier to deal with and he could possibly whittle this man down from safety.
I just can't imagine he's not waiting for me to try...I'm sure she would.
Rather than fumbling an obvious attempt to flee, he focused on trying to put more pressure on the knight, hoping to surprise the man and land a lucky blow, to cause him to whiff the attempted melody, or even to delay him long enough that his own melody could ensnare the simp. But regardless, it all depended on how well this knight's own attack went.
And he wouldn’t need to wait long to see it.
With the black mass flickering around the knight’s feet, he lept into the air and thrusted his sword forward, causing his sword to drag him through the air as a pink flash of light followed his blade. But while a push or pull note was capable of performing a high speed thrust, The knight was sent spinning through the air like a whirling dervish. This was much harder for Sam to defend against, but as he was somewhat predicting the attack, he was able to get his sword up in time to prevent the knight’s sword from cutting into his flesh.
But this was not the end of the knight’s melody.
He landed just a moment later, but his sword still shined. While keeping his sword pointed away from Samuel, he stretched out his arm and pointed his pink shield at the shadowy esper. Shields might have been tools for protection, but the bottom of a tower shield was like the head of a dull ax, and much heavier. After having just blasted past Sam, the knight was shoved towards him yet again, a stream of neon pink light in his wake.
I wasn't suspecting that kind of note, honestly... But then, that's what makes it interesting.
Silhouette didn't succumb to the sudden, violent shift in momentum from the knight, but he wasn't sure he could've managed to avoid succumbing to that strike if he hadn't already been poised to intercept one.
And that wasn't all the knight had in store. Still propelling himself via melody, he wasn't about to give Silhouette much time to reflect. But the demonic G.E.M.I.N.I Esper did not need very much time anyway. All he required was a flick of his arm as a pitch-black projectile melody escaped from the tip of his blade which had been aimed at...
...the constructed cube from earlier, which had been lying on the ground off to the side of their current contested area.
The transplace note was intended to give him enough time and distance to breathe. Relatively speaking, of course. Samuel didn't think the knight would stop to admire the trick once he understood what had happened.
The pink pounder indeed appeared to not be too impressed with the trick, only growling at Samuel’s attempts to delay the inevitable. Using his sword as a golf club, he batted the cube towards Samuel's head before attempting to close the distance again. Though this time the pounder was using a more cautious approach, more jogging towards Sam than jumping into a blind run. Samuel had gotten his moment to breathe, but now what would he do?
Tilting his head to avoid the construct, Silhouette had begun casting a melody in his hand, with a nebulous snake coiling at the center of his dagger's pommel. When the melody had been prepared enough, the hazy form of the snake became opaque and fired out of the pommel as a beam, directed towards the knight's chest.
But the knight was cautious, and his slower movements meant that he could easily block the incoming projectile.
But that had been exactly what Samuel had counted on.
The projectile struck the knight’s shield, covering it in shadowy tendrils as the snake phased through, connecting with the knight’s chest. He growled, continuing to press forward. He lead the charge with his shield and used his sword to begin cutting through the dark tendrils. But it seemed like Samuel had an opening. What would he do with it?
With a shrunken distance between the demon and the tenacious knight, Samuel opted to abandon the channel of his tendril beam and quickly set upon his opponent, who was preoccupied with the tendrils. He ducked low, hoping to hide behind the knight’s own raised shield as he approached and specifically targeted the hand holding that very same shield with a quick, explosive slash.
An experienced fighter like the Pink Pounder was not oblivious to Sam’s actions. Some might even say he expected them. But his arm was bound, and his sword could not easily fit between his shield and his own body. By the time he had freed himself from his restraints, Sam had liberated him of his hand.
“Pwink Pwondah, you wost your widdle hawund! Do uwu want two- GEEEEEEEEEEE!”
The king of monkeys may have been restrained, but they weren’t dead. They were able to fire a melody out of their staff and hit Magical Dream Princess with it. It was just a windstorm of hers, but it knocked MDP down before trying to free Lilliah from her restraints.
Though MDP’s scream had triggered something in the Pink Pounder. Sam could feel it, as a demon that exuded his own aura of malice, he could feel the hatred radiating off of him like heat off a flame.
A quickened melody propelled the Pink pounder’s foot into a roundhouse kick, one that connected with Sam’s back before he sprinted towards Lilliah’s position. The wind elemental was little more than a momentary distraction that was dismissed with a wave of the pounder’s sword. Bound and unable to defend herself, Lilliah could only brace for pain as the pounder brought their sword over their head. They hacked off her arm, stabbed at her legs, and all Lilliah could do was struggle to stay in esper form as long as she could so that the Pink Pounder didn’t end up stabbing her true form.
Some time ago, the Pink Pounder took up his moniker while becoming a hunter of orcs. Fleshy, pink, pig shaped monsters that lack the numbers of goblins, but aren’t as strong as most other monsters. No one knew what made him take a calling, but it was known that attacking anyone in his company, especially young girls, triggered something inside him. When he flew into a rage like this he was no longer the Pink Pounder. He became a machine for pigs: a slaughterhouse:
Sam had recovered quickly from the kick, but they would need to act fast. He was no longer in a sparring match, as this had officially become a life combat area. If he stood by and watched, he might witness a murder take place.
Fritzi continued to watch, but did not intervene herself.
A grunt escaped from the demon as the painful kick to his back had momentarily unbalanced him, allowing the enraged knight to set upon his ally with a berserk onslaught of blows.
Detestable Freelancer! I knew nothing good could come from this one! It was idiotic to place a modicum of trust in them!
Seeing the brutal maiming and presumed murderous intentions of the wrathful knight evoked similar anger in Silhouette, but it wasn't one he couldn't get a reign on with the knowledge that a fellow agent could die.
Each frenzied swing the mercenary took at his ally could potentially be the last. Every time it pierced her, there was the chance she wouldn't be able to hold on to her transformation anymore. A friendly life lost under his own supervision while his boss watched... such an outcome was far more terrifying to him than anything his own form could conjure. But perhaps that fear was the only thing tempering his own anger.
He exploded into a dash to make up the distance, a rather ironic twist considering how their fight had been going up to this point, but the apparent lack of reason and the obvious lack of shield hand gave Samuel enough confidence to actively confront him in melee range. As he drew close and his contempt, anger, and desire to kill the mercenary peaked... he ultimately chose again to go after the remaining hand of the knight instead of a mortal blow, at least for now.
He was angry, but his senses were still sharp.
As soon as Sam sprung into action, The Pink Pounder turned around. HE had cast a restrain melody on his own severed wrist, binding it to his weapon. He couldn’t hold his shield anymore, but he could grip his sword with both hands. It probably wasn’t ideal, but the Pink Pounder had been the superior swordsman. How would fighting with only a sword affect his performance?
Their blades clashed. Sparks leapt off their blades every time they connected. While short one weapon, the Pink Pounder’s cunning was still at play. Sam’s knife offered a bit of range, but the pounder’s hand was not locked in place. He could release the hilt of his sword to brush Sam’s knife aside when he needed to. Regardless if their anger clouded their judgment or focused it, it was clear both men were fighting as hard as they could.
Lilliah collapsed onto the floor, no longer able to remain in the esper state.
The Pink pounder charged a melody. His remaining hand surged with power. It was going to be a powerful one.
A decisive blow could land any minute, and if Sam played their cards right, they would be the one to land it.
Silhouette had almost nothing but contempt for this knight for being a mercenary and for breaking the sanctity of the sparring match. But there was no denying the knight's skill. Even missing his shield, the berserker effectively kept him from gaining any ground in their clash up to this point, but Silhouette felt like this could change at any given moment, whereas before he felt coming out on top of the clash was impossible.
When the knight had begun to prepare his spell, the ground beneath MDP began to stir as a swirl of darkness suddenly appeared. It seemed as though Silhouette had also begun casting one as well, but his target clearly wasn't the man in front of him.
Naturally, she yelped.
Naturally, the knight reacted.
The Pink Pounder’s physical abilities outstripped everyone in the arena, and he was going to put that all to use moving towards MDP’s position. He slammed his fist into the ground, throwing himself backwards through the air in a spiral. Moments before the spawn melody could activate, the knight would be able to lift MDP out of the area of the spawning melody. She shrieked as the nightmarish energy manifested behind her. The knight landed without making a sound, and was quick to push MDP out of the way should Sam attack again. But the demon had put himself at a disadvantage. While he could use roughly one melody every six seconds, the Pink Pounder could use two. His entire body surged with power as he prepared to finish the fight, but where was Sam hiding?
Wherever he was, it wasn't out in the open. It'd take a true idiot to assume he had suddenly fled, so that meant he was most likely hiding somewhere behind the scenery of the coliseum.
There were several boulders of varying sizes he could be using as cover. Some closer, some further, though it wasn't likely he made it to the farthest ones by the time Pounder had begun searching for him. And considering his form was on the taller side, smaller rocks probably weren't hiding him either. There seemed to be two likely candidates given these criteria: a slender boulder not too many feet away from them, or a wider one a bit further out, closer to where they had been clashing blades.
But whatever one he was waiting behind, he didn't seem to feel the need to reveal himself, likely for the very same reason Pounder wanted to find him quickly.
Assuming the Pounder was even thinking right now.
Giant rocks were mighty obstacles, but instruments were still indestructible, never dulling weapons. That was barring any other special ability an esper might have, such as the ability to cut through all inorganic matter like it was paper.
One after another, the knight cut through the stones. The boulders practically detonated on impact. Each swing filled the air with dust, and scattered pebbles across the arena floor. But no matter how much he swung, he showed no signs of tiring or calming down.
Following Pounder’s onslaught, Silhouette was forced out of hiding not long after it had begun since he had chosen the closer boulder to hide behind, but this outcome hadn't been unexpected, and his reaction was relatively quick because of it and one other factor.
Though he could not physically see the knight from behind the boulder, he hadn't exactly been impaired as there wasn't too much subtlety in the armored brute's movements, and so it had been obvious enough when his own boulder was about to explode. In response, the G.E.M.I.N.I Demon threw great effort into his escape around the boulder and then subsequent dash directly toward the knight as a dark miasma engulfed his sword-hand.
Like the knight before him, the strength behind this melody was quite apparent. Perhaps he intended for this clash to be the final one.
And it might even work. With the stone being turned into dust and debris, it provided perfect cover for Sam to close the distance between the two. It didn’t matter how many melodies the Ponder could cast, Sam was going to attack before he could get one up.
The pounder might not have been able to see his opponent coming, but he could hear him. With all the fury of a reckless berzerker, he swung into the cloud of dust where Sam was coming from.
But Sam’s blade had already bitten into his foe.
A silver flash cleaved through the pounder’s forearms. Along with it was an explosion of dark tendrils, rupturing metal and flesh up to the knight’s elbows.
He should have been detransforming any moment now, having been parted from his instrument. But this did not appear to be the case. Blood rushed out of his stumps, but he would not calm down. With a roar of hatred, he lunged for Sam again.
”I think that’s enough.” On Fritzi’s command, Sam would wake up on the floor. He was in the training room with everyone else, but there were a few differences from how it appeared just moments ago. For one, the arena showed no sign of destruction. The boulders were all intact, and there wasn’t any evidence that there had been a fight. Lilliah was on the ground sleeping, as was the Pink Pounder. MDP was missing, but there was a woman in a purple business suit conversing with Fritzi. ”I didn’t realize sparring was so aggressive.”
“I underestimated my acquaintance’s penchant for defending me. I told him not to get too rough during the simulation, but I hadn’t anticipated Wukong would attack me in the dream world.” She crossed her arms. “You’re not upset, right? They were never in any real danger, and good agents always do what’s asked of them regardless of what the facts say.”
”Only if I’m the one giving the orders, as they know I have proper information.” Veronica growled. ”I do not need to test their loyalty to me, just their combat readiness in a unit. That’s not something this exercise demonstrated very well.” With a groan, Veronica walked over to Sam’s side. ”If I thought things were going to get this crazy, I would have let you know about the dream magic ahead of time. I thought it would be obvious when your mana was restored between bouts, but, well..” A smile crept across her face. ”I miss having Binky around to deal with things like this. Are you alright?”
Samuel tore his attention from Lilliah to Fritzi when she approached, and it was clear that he was still a bit on edge from the 'fight'. "I suspected something was wrong when it became clear that the fight had no longer resembled a spar and still you remained motionless... But even with such an on-the-nose name, I failed to realize the situation I was in," Samuel sighed, clearly disappointed with himself.
With a drawn-out breath, he eventually answered Fritzi's question. "Aside from some residual drowsiness, I am physically well, at least."
His boss smiled. ”I don’t think I’ve ever been impressed by someone napping on the job. Don’t get used to it.” It wasn’t long before Lillia and the pounder woke up. Perhaps they had been up for a bit. It was impossible to see the pounder’s face, but Lilliah looked a little shocked, and was rubbing her arms where they had been severed. ”I do think your teamwork is improving. While not conventional, Wukong’s attack against the dream princess did raise the pounder’s aggression, which made him a much easier target to exploit. You made use of that aggression and his desire to defend MDP, didn’t you Silhouette? You’re quite the opportunist.”
“Yes, and everyone’s perfectly safe. If someone was to die in my dream world, they would just wake up. Though…” The business woman lowered her gaze. “That first fight was definitely a blunder on my part. Though I am pleased to hear it seemed so realistic. It took a long time to get my magic to the point where I could use it to help espers spar like this.” She looked to Sam. “If you’re still up for it, I would like you to give the Pink Pounder and I another chance. I just need to talk with him for a moment, if that’s alright?”
The question prompted Samuel to give another thorough look at Pink Pounder, and he did not answer for a few seconds. "...I suppose, technically, nothing happened. And nobody was apparently in actual danger, either," Sam didn't seem particularly thrilled about the idea but ultimately agreed with a shrug. "Go have your talk, then. But going forward, I hope it's not too much to ask for my consent."
A smirk crossed the woman’s face. “Of course. That’s the least we can do.” Not long after, she took the pink pounder by the hand and stepped off to the side to chat.
”That was an impressive display of skill, Silhouette. Even if it wasn’t a life or death situation, I think that’s the closest I’ve gotten to seeing how you really fight up close. Maybe I’ll hold off on telling the other agents its a dream too?” She grinned. ”It will be interesting to see what the benefits of training like this will yield, don’t you think?”
Samuel's breathing had by this point become completely stable and it seemed he had finally come down from the high of the 'battle'. "I'm sure it is hypocritical of me to say this right after making a deal about it, but I don't disagree with that assessment. Yes, thinking logically... what better way than this, aside from actually fighting to the death? As far as I was concerned, it was either kill or be killed. And though I would sooner call it desperation than opportunism, I am not sure I would have resorted to such methods were I assured with the knowledge that my failure didn't have lasting consequences."
”Speaking of, it seemed like you were willing to spare the Pink Pounder. You had him dead to rights, why did you hold back?”
Samuel seemed rather surprised by the statement. "Which part, exactly, are you speaking about?"
”You aimed to cut off his hands and separate him from his instrument. I thought that was an attempt at mercy, to get him to revert to his normal self so that he would be harmless. Otherwise, wouldn’t it have been easier to just run him through? His neck and torso would be much easier to hit in close quarters. ”
"...you are right," Samuel turned a hint of red. "I wasn't entirely sure I needed to use deadly force. I suspected a trick of some sort, just not one like that, so I was hesitant. But losing your ability to stay transformed is as good as dead if the other party wants, speaking from experience."
”You’re referring to the nun.” Fritzi raised a hand to her chin. ”I’m not too familiar with any nuns, but I do remember working with someone long ago who spun melodies using blacklight. ” Veronica trailed off. ”What was it that she last said to you? ”
"Her exact words should be somewhere on my report for that mission, but she wanted me to tell the doctor 'that it's not over yet'," he quoted. "A coincidence, I'm sure."
”Perhaps, but it’s not a possibility I’d overlook.” Fritzi bit her thumb nail. ”If that is... No, it doesn’t make sense. She wouldn’t return here. ” The doctor folded her arms behind her back. ”Though maybe a test is in order. The next time you see that nun, I want you to call her ‘Blackout’ and see how she reacts. Of course, if you have the opportunity to kill her on sight, that works too. But all of the reports point to her being a very able swordsman.” Fritzi looked up at the Pounder and “Magical Dream Princess.” They seemed to have concluded their talk. ”Might as well get in all the training you can.”
"Yes. I have much to improve on," Samuel nodded, then turned to catch up with MDP.
Blackout. I'll remember that.