The First Weekend: Part 2: The Cruelest Brawl

AOOGH, AOOGH,

Ren Amamiya and Ann Takamaki shot up from bed simultaneously, both wondering what was making that atrocious, foghorn-esque noise. Ren glanced over to the bed stand, seeing that the source of the noise was his communicator.

"Ughhhhh Rennn, did you really set that as your alarm?" whined Futaba from somewhere outside of their room in the massive suite.

"No, I…" Ren started,

He would've said more, but as soon as he touched his watch, a holographic visage of ROB's head projected itself, "Good morning n'er do-wells. Joker, you have thirty minutes to get ready, after which you will be escorted down to the Battlefield training room. I would advise you to get ready."

As quickly as it had come, the holographic face of the robot disappeared.

"Escorted?" scoffed Ann, "What are you, a criminal?"

"Accessory to a noise complaint is a crime after all."

Ann smirked, but her posture and the frustrated glint in her eyes were expressions of indignation.

"How can you be so glib?" she shouted, "It's mine and Futaba's fault this is happening, and now you guys are being fed to the wolves."

Ren shrugged, "I know, but I feel like even if you guys did have experience in a Smash Bros arena I'd have taken the lashes anyway. Cruel Brawl doesn't sound like fun, and I wouldn't put either of you through it."

Ann's posture relaxed as she chuckled. Ren could be smoother than silk when he wanted to be, and she, admittedly, was weak to it.

"How'd I get so lucky, to have such a sacrificing, valiant boyfriend?"

Again, the Phantom Thief shrugged turning to remove walking towards the closet in which his signature gear was kept, "Well, I've got a thing for blonds, and the ass definitely helps."

Ann snickered, "Just go make the coffee before I make Cruel Brawl look like a walk in the park."

Ren did as told, swooping out to the main room in the suite Phantom Thief attire in hand. It had been agreed that he and Futaba would make coffee for breakfast every morning when they'd all moved into this suite, having learned directly under their surrogate father Sojiro Sakura how to make a cup of joe worth dying for. But, since Futaba usually stayed up all night gaming (a mansion full of video game characters meant that each TV had a game selection built in that would make the average video enthusiast's mind melt), she was often MIA for this particular chore. So, the duty fell to him. Luckily, working in a café that served almost exclusively persnickety senior citizens meant that he could make the coffee fast and him the time he needed to change into his Phantom Thief gear. In no time at all, the smell of the blessed bean water filtered throughout the entire suite.

Yusuke's door opened first. The tall artist appeared wrapped in nothing but a towel…followed by Futaba, also wrapped in a towel

Wait, Futaba and Yusuke shared a room tonight, Ren began to think So that means…

"O-oh. Oh my God," Ren sputtered.

"Ren, it's not…" Yusuke began, his usual dramatic tone growing ever louder with each word until Futaba cut him off.

"What? So I have a thing for cute artsy boys. So sue me."

"No, it's not that it's…"

Ryuji stumbled out of his room next, his eyes immediately going wide as saucers when he took in the scene, "Does this mean…" asked the stunned blond.

"Yup it's…for real. You owe me 100 yen," triumphantly chided Ren.

"Shit!"

"What?" demanded Yusuke.

"Me and Ryuji had a bet going on if you…liked women or not."

In much the same way Ann had earlier, Yusuke scoffed, "Beauty comes in all forms Ryuji. Has being a friend of mine taught you nothing?"

"H-hey," stuttered Ryuji, "How do you even know which side of the bet we were on?"

"Because Ren isn't a fool."

"Eh, touche," Ryuji groaned, slumping back into his room.

As everyone eventually ambled out of their room, the leader of the Phantom Thieves regaled his team with the new hot gossip in exchange for their cup of coffee. Haru and Makoto had given their blessing, Ryuji grumbled about the loss of his yen, Ann laughed at Ryuji's misfortune, and Morgana, who had somehow slept through the alarm that had started the morning had quipped, "Yusuke, all I'm saying is that you'd better pray Boss doesn't bring his shotgun."

"What?" asked a horrified Yusuke, "Boss would never..."

"I'm not so sure," Morgana sang, a devious tone in his voice.

"Nah, Yusuke's right, Always got the vibe Boss liked him the most. Well, aside from Futaba and Renren," countered Ryuji, putting extra mischief on his pet name for his best friend.

"God Ryuji," groaned Ren, sipping his coffee, "It's too early for that."

There was a beat of silence before Futaba piped in, "Woah, I just realized Inari called me beautiful."

"Yes honey, he did," said Makoto, her voice as motherly as ever.

The group chuckled, but their mirth was quickly stopped by an aggressive knock at the door.

"Shit," Ren grumbled, "It's time. See ya when you get back."

"If you get back," teased Futaba.

"Shut up dork," Ren teased right back.

Giving Ann a quick kiss, he poured the remainder of his still steaming coffee into a travel thermos, answering the door. A group of six Polygons stood waiting for him.

"Your presence is requested at the Battlefield training room. Follow us," robotically droned the lead Polygon.

And so, in the darkness of the early morning, Joker walked down to the catacombs of the mansion, accompanied by six polygons. As he walked, he couldn't help but reminisce about his time in juvenile hall, how the entire prison had to be locked down to move him, despite being in the segregated population. As it had then, his mind immediately went to how best immobilize each guard in the quickest amount of time. But, as it was then, he knew he couldn't do that. He wondered briefly if his experience of being a swashbuckling thief of heart had poisoned his mind, seeing even the most friendly of accosts as hostile, and everyday situations as dangerous...

Is that what happened to Akechi wondered the leader of the Phantom Thieves.

Were his powers effecting how saw the world? Were the sociopathic tendencies of Goro Akechi's past just one bad incident away?

Suddenly, the change in lighting as the entourage descended the stairs broke Joker from his trance. While the upper floors relied mostly on large bay windows and natural light, with homely looking lamps lighting the room in the night time, the sublevels had a much more industrial overhead lighting, every service metallic and sterile, devoid of any color. Walking down more stairs, Joker recalled when The Phantom Thieves had been given an abrupt tour after passing the induction test. The floor they had been on was the Training Floor, the third-lowest level with only the game room and the Core Machine Room beneath it. The main hall of the Training Room was an intimidatingly long corridor with seemingly hundreds of doors, each belonging to an arena modeled after the homeworlds of the participants. The long hallway they had run down upon entry into the room on their induction day was similar in function to a jet bridge, and they had simply walked directly into the Momentos simulation dome before it had been turned on. Today, Joker was being led into the one called Battlefield, silently being marched down the jet bridge, standing in the middle of an empty, all-white dome. All but one of the Polygons formed up to the side, while the remaining one urged him to the center point of the room. A holographic panel appeared on the wall, and a Polygon that had stood off to the side tapped a single button. The floor the two stood on raised into the air, the dome opening beneath them just wide enough for the two of them. When they entered the hole, Joker found himself in an expansive auditorium, much like the one that he and the Thieves had been taken into to be inducted into the Smash Brotherhood.

"Wasn't this a side room last time?" inquired Joker.

"In the Momentos area, yes. Construction had not been completed on the observation area, so it was placed temporarily in a vacant simulation room. Older stages have not been renovated with makeshift rooms, as there is no need," explained the Polygon, "Now, please wait for further instruction."

And the Polygon nonchalantly disappeared. Joker only blinked confusedly, turning around to look at the auditorium. A few rows above him sat Saki, his arms indignantly crossed.

"Hey, you're Saki, right? Saki Amamiya?"

Saki nodded,

"I'm Ren Amamiya. Guess you could say we're cousins from a different dimension."

"Depends. Is the orange-haired girl one of yours?" asked the older, blonder Amamiya,

Joker raised an eyebrow, "Futaba? She's like a sister to me."

"Then no, we're not."

Ren stifled a chuckle, "Something happened at the party I take it."

"Yeah. Girl called me anime boy, said I couldn't eat as much pie as she could," bitterly recounted Saki

"That sounds like her, and it doesn't sound like you won either."

"Your girlfriend ate more than me."

To this, Joker snickered, "I wouldn't beat myself up too bad about it. She loves her some sweets"

"Well," sneered a familiar voice, "Glad to see we're all having fun."

Whipping around, Joker noticed that Akechi had appeared behind him, a deep scowl on his face, the Polygon that had accompanied him disappearing as soon as he came.

"Hey, we're about to get our asses kicked, and bad gotta lighten the mood somehow," Joker said, sipping from his coffee.

Akechi simply growled, "I blame you entirely for this."

Joker shrugged, "That's the life of a Phantom Thief, we all go headfirst into stupid crap."

"So I see," admitted Akechi, "That doesn't mean I have to like it."

With that, the Detective Prince simply skulked away, heading to the very top of the auditorium. Next to appear was Yoshi, who's eyelids looked heavy. Suddenly, the dinosaur paused dramatically, sniffing the air.

"Do I smell coffee?" asked the long-tongued dino, his voice cracking slightly, like a drug addict looking for a fix.

Joker dramatically hoisted the cup into the air, posing as if he hit the end pose of an elaborate dance number. Yoshi's eyes stared up at the cup, "Can I….have it?"

Joker lowered the travel jug of coffee to eye level, face scrunched in thought, "Go for it," the Phantom Thief decided.

Yoshi extended his long tongue, wrapping around the thermos, the protracting of the tongue placing it in the dinosaur's comedically small hands. Yoshi chugged it, eyes closed, as if he was experiencing nirvana,

"Oh thank the Seven Stars," crowed Yoshi, "They didn't even let me have breakfast this morning."

"Oh, the humanity," Akechi groaned, rolling his eyes.

"Anyway," scowled Yoshi, "Do you guys know anything about….this?"

"Can't say I do, "Ren shrugged.

"Well, we're gonna be put against AI opponents cranked up to the most aggressive the system allows. They hit hard, and the system's been modified to see that we get hit further."

"Inescapable odds then? Pah, I think I'll have eliminated more opponents than you Joker," Akechi hissed.

"You're on,"

Suddenly, another Polygon appeared, this one accompanying both Ken and Chun-Li, "Hope you're all having a good morning," chided Ken as the Polygon disappeared

Yoshi explained it to them, both Ken and Chun-Li's eyes wide at the prospect of what was about to happen.

"Yeah…the whole routine of fighting people who could kick buildings down is more of Ryu's forte."

"Not to say we couldn't do it though," assured Chun-Li patting her old friend on the shoulder, "We've both given Bison a kicking or two, and he's nothing to scoff at."

"I guess…" Ken said with a sigh.

"Listen, unless you want to go through multiple fights injured, I suggest you stow your fears." Akechi growled, "Furthermore, I find it incredibly annoying."

"Hate to agree with Mister Happy over here, but he's right. Being spooked isn't gonna help," interjected Saki.

Ren chuckled, "Mister Happy? I love it. I might make that a regular thing."

"Would you like to die? Because I would like to make you die."

"Sup party people?" asked Sans as he appeared in the center of the auditorium eating a hamburger.

"On second thought, I might join you," growled Akechi.

There was a beat of silence, before Sans spoke up again, "Huh, no 'where did you come from' as I pop in this time?"

"What I'm more interested in is how you got the hamburger?" Yoshi whined, Akechi rolling his eyes.

"Administrator perk dude. Plus, wouldn't look too good if I got escorted by cops eh?"

"You're right," Joker said with a nod, "Police escorts aren't fun."

"What is it with you and the jokes?" shouted Akechi angrily, pointing an accusing finger at Joker "The dinosaur already explained our predicament, and you still remain nonplused?"

"Hey kiddo, you get on me for bein' anxious, then get up Joker's ass for joking around?" Ken demanded

"Don't listen to him. He's got a chip on his shoulder. Been around enough to know when a kid is compensating for something," now interjected Yoshi

"Weren't you just complaining about the lack of food earlier?" said Akechi, his voice even angrier, "Why would I take anything a child like you have to take seriously?"

"Child? Boy, I'm old enough to take you to school."

"Try me."

Joker leaped to the halfway point of the auditorium stairs. Akechi was pushing against him from the top. His thermos went flying, crashing against a wall just short of Akechi. Joker glanced at where Yoshi presided in the room, being held back by Chun-Li and Ken.

A light shone at the bottom of the auditorium steps, and Dante appeared, not accompanied by polygons as the others had been, "Holy shit, what did I miss?" asked the Son of Sparda.

"The pretty boy in the black mask and the dinosaur are fighting," Sans said matter of factly as if he were commenting on the TV news.

"Neat, can I take bets on the babe?" asked Dante, casting a glance at Chun-Li

"Screw off," barked the investigator, now helping Ken ease Yoshi into a chair.

The air was pierced by the interjection of ROB's voice from seemingly nowhere, which brought the chaos to a halt.

"I see you are all here, and ready to fight,"

A blinding light erupted in the room. When it faded, the ground of the auditorium was replaced by glass. Below them was a platform with three smaller platforms placed in a triangle shape overlooking a sunny, lush landscape

"What you see before you is The Battlefield, Smash Brothers' most iconic, most fair arena. Yoshi already explained the concept to you, but I shall explain it again. These training fighters that you will be up against and the way the arena's gravity responds to taking damage to all but guarantee one-hit KOs, or, in the best-case scenario high damage. Accessing terminology database. Accessing term, damage. Damage is defined as how many hits a Smasher takes. The higher your percentage of damage is, the more vulnerable you will be to a KO. Accessing term, KO. A KO, or a knockout in common English, is defined in the Super Smash Brothers competition context as being knocked beyond the boundaries of the arena, or as it is known in slang, the blast zone, due to the pyrotechnics display that indicates a ring out in Smash Brothers competition. Per the instructions of Mario, you will continually attempt Cruel Brawl until the successful elimination of one opponent. In between attempts you will not receive healing items. You will receive healing items upon successful completion."

"Wait, I have a q-" Sans started, but was cut off.

"Silence," growled ROB.

"Hey did somebody upgrade your emotion chip or something? This is the first time I've heard you sound like anything other the automated voice when I buy movie tickets," Sans chided.

"I emote only because you have…pissed me off is the common term. Now, Sans, I suggest you stay silent, or I shall be forced to assume you have volunteered."

Sans said nothing, looking sheepish for the first time.

"Excellent. Would the first volunteer please announce their intention to do so?" ROB, now sounding normal, asked.

"I'll do it,' Yoshi confidently announced, standing from the chair he stood in, "I'm the elder statesmen like Peach said. It's only right that I take my lumps first."

As soon as the words had left his lips, Yoshi disappeared, appearing on the battlefield below. Yoshi assumed his fighting stance, which to Joker looked like he was shuffling to music only he could hear. Just like it had in the battle with Lucario, music cued up. This piece was a foreboding orchestral march with a pounding drum beat. Yoshi's opponents appeared, seven of them. Two appeared to be wireframed men, another two appeared to be red, robotic likenesses of Kirby, the only difference being a blue power core rested where a face should be. The next two appeared to be likenesses of DK strung together by jagged shapes, reminding Joker of the first 3D renders of some of his favorite video game characters. The DK automatons were followed by two who appeared to be like Yoshi himself, except more rigid and horse-like.

Music: Cruel Brawl
3

Yoshi steeled himself

2

Ken gulped loud enough for everyone in the auditorium to hear.

1

GO

At the same moment, the bots ran for Yoshi, and Yoshi skittered from his resting place in the center of the stage to the right, of the stage. As the bots swarmed in front of him, he jumped, using his Flutter Jump to skitter back to the stage. A flip kick from one of the Kirby lookalikes brought up a holographic damage meter. 15 percent for Yoshi. One of the wireframes hit a thrust kick. 38 percent now. Yoshi's body went limp, falling towards the boundaries. A Wire Frame leaped after him, its hands clasped together, intent on clocking Yoshi into a loss. At the last possible moment, Yoshi's body tensed, his long tongue gripping the Wire Frame's clasped hands, dragging it into the dinosaur's open maw. Yoshi held it in his mouth for a split second, before shifting his body downward so he was looking into the abyss. With a whimsical "bum" sound, he spat the Wire Frame out, the stiff automaton floating, still poised for combat, into the abyss. The colorful explosion indicated that Yoshi had netted himself a point. Flashing his trademark "'v' for victory" sign, he floated into the abyss himself, ending the simulation with a similarly colorful explosion

GAME! NEWWW RECORD!
With a flash, Yoshi stood among them, a purple bruise in the center of his stomach, his large nose and jaw obviously broken. Then, a green aura surrounded him. Slowly, his jaw and nose corrected, each with gruesome sounding clicks.

"What you see before you is a Healing Plant, one of the few natural resources unique to this realm. Holding a seedling of it, or basking in its refined aura, will heal you," the voice of ROB broadcasted.

"And if he had lost, you would've just sent him back out there with fighters that can break bones with simple strikes?" Chun-Li protested,

"Hey, it's over quick if you're crafty enough," Yoshi nonchalantly shrugged as the Healing Plant's aura disappeared.

"I'm crafty like macaroni and cheese baby,"

Every head in the room turned the source of the speaker, Sans, who was strutting to the front of the crowd, his chest puffed out.

"Get it? Because it's a brand of-"

Mid-sentence, Sans was teleported to the arena, standing in the middle of the arena as Yoshi had been, Gaster Blaster attachment well in hand.

The same configuration of bot fighters appeared.

Music: Cruel Brawl

3

Sans stood, uncharacteristically silent.

2

Sans' stomach grumbled

1

"If he doesn't get his ass kicked, I'll be disappointed," grumbled Akechi

GO!
The bots swarmed around him. One of the gorilla polygons clumsily extended his foot for a sliding low kick, which Sans swiftly floated away from.

"You can't be serious," Akechi said, woe in every syllable.

"Alright, now it's time for you dishwashers to get dunked on," arrogantly chided Sans,

Blasting through the crowd with the same apathetic floatiness, Sans' eyes suddenly went wide.

That smell… Haven't smelled it since…

Sans' eyes went wide.

"That smell…thick sewage smell…that's L.O.V.E", he muttered quietly

th I n k

Time stopped.

No.

The shaky warble of a voice was instantly recognizable, but he hadn't heard it since… since he fell into the core. But it wasn't his voice. The infliction was there, but the near-incomprehensible language wasn't.

"Gaster?" Sans asked, "Why are you here? What are you trying to tell me?"

t?

Sans closed his eyes, sighing

"Yes."

g

Sans felt a shiver go up his spine, this one slow, nurturing, like the hands of death rocking a baby to sleep.

He's waving at me.

Time came back into focus, just in time for the DK wireframe to clock Sans with a Giant Punch.

Research about himself in other timelines had indicated that he had 1 HP, making him the weakest monster in The Underground by virtue. But here he was, sailing towards the boundary, still conscious, with a still-beating heart.

Huh, I can do this, thought Sans as he suddenly found himself back in the auditorium. Looming over him was Dante, a wavering grin on his face.

"You okay brother? You kinda just froze up."

"Yeah," Sans said, rubbing the bruise that had formed on his right cheek, flakes of bone falling to the floor, "Just… got caught up in thought."

"Hell of a time to do that," Dante chided.

"Yeah, time for me to go back! Put me back in."

And once again, Sans was on the platform, his adversaries still waiting for him.

Music: Cruel Brawl

3

2

1

GO!

Immediately, Sans bolted to the side of the stage, jumping softly off of it, and grabbing on to the side . All five opponents bolted for him, the Donkey Kong Polygon's lazy low kick colliding with Sans' head. As it had before, the damage meters appeared before those viewing the fight, Sans was at 20 percent damage off of a single Sans responded by jumping up high enough to shoot a single laser blast, which brought the damage total to five for the alloy, only to resume his post of hanging off the ledge. Sans jumped up again, this time, firing a green orb from his Gaster Blaster, which fizzled out of existence as soon as it had appeared. Suddenly, an explosive burst rocked the bot on the opposite end of the stage. This alerted the other bots, who all charged Sans. Sans leaped off just as his aggressive opponents seemed to conga line after him. One of the Kirby AI's got to him first, somehow jabbing him in lightning-quick succession in the air. The Wire Frame men, however, fell more quickly. Pivoting his body in the air, Sans pointed the Gaster Blaster down, firing it. The Wire Frames jutted out of the boundary, the fireworks counting two kills.

Meanwhile, in the viewing room, Joker's eyes went wide as he saw Sans heal all twenty damage.

"GET DUNKED ON! CANNONBALL!" hollered Sans, gleefully belly-flopping into the boundary, ending his experience for the moment.

GAME! NEWWW RECORD!

Sans appeared back in the viewing room, casually strutting to one of the bottom seats in the auditorium as Dante laughed uproariously. Akechi meanwhile, was nearly red in the face with anger.

"You….neanderthal! You healed illegally. You can't…"

"It isn't my fault I know how to manipulate stuff. It also isn't my fault your dad didn't hug you enough, so sit down." Sans chided.

Akechi went to make a move, but Joker simply nodded at Sans, "He's right. You shouldn't test him."

Akechi paused, silently thinking the matter over, before sitting back down, pouting so violently it initially struck Joker as comedic. A snort betrayed his intentions, to which he could feel Akechi's cold stare of overflowing disgust from across the auditorium.

"Do I have any volunteers?" the disembodied voice of ROB echoed.

Every head in the room turned to Ken as he chuckled, "I've got this,"

Chun-Li raised an eyebrow, "Are you sure?"

"Yeah. I helped Mel with the 100 man challenge in the game, it was how you unlocked Falco if I remember right. Just needed to see how it worked to jog my memory."

In a flash, Ken disappeared, reappearing on the center of Battlefield, the bots assuming their positions.

Music: Cruel Brawl

3

2

1

GO!

As the others had done before, Ken backflipped to the edge, grabbing on. One of the Wire Frames stoically snapped to a new position extending their arms, as if to signal for a hug. The human arms morphed into two canons. Two pick lasers exploded from the cannons, the sound of the lasers scraping across the floor of Battlefield creating a gnarly screech.

"N-OH MY GO-" was all Ken could get out as both lasers connected, hard with his forehead, the Street Fighter dropping into the boundaries like a rag doll.

GAME!

When Ken reappeared, he was on his knees, head down, dry heaving.

Chun-Li knelt down, "Are you okay?" she asked, concerned.

"Heh," Ken slurred with a wry grin, "Feel like I've taken a Tiger Knee to the face every day for six years,"

Chun-Li matched his grin, only out of politeness. Her rigid poster betrayed the concern she was trying to bottle inside, "That bad huh?" she asked, humor in her voice.

Joker couldn't help but nod If there was one person I'd want fighting alongside me in a fight with The Reaper, it'd be her. She'd tell me everything was going to be okay, that I wouldn't get demolished in one hit, and I'd believe her, thought the Thief

"No, but seriously, are you okay man? You don't even sound like you can make words right now,"

The concerned voice of Dante interrupted Joker's musings. Ken was slurring even more noticeably now trying to form sentences.

"I'm fine!" Ken grunted, "Send me back in! I'll be back b'fore you know it!"

Six attempts later

Joker and the others should've been impressed at this run. Dodge lasers, close the gap, full power Focus Attack, jump behind the wobbled Wire Frame, awkward Reverse Hell Wheel, Shoryuken. when he tried to jump back on, mission complete. But the rhythm had come in agonizing, painful half steps, and with every half stepped gained, the Cruel Smash opponents would just beat the shit out of him, almost as if they were angry at the audacity of Ken and the others. Like hyenas playing with their food, they would take special care to pin him down, hitting the big moves of the fighters they were modeled after, or, in the Wire Frames' case, just firing their powerful cannons at a downed opponent, which would yield a flippant toss off stage, and the start of a new attempt. At a staggering 230 damage, Ken teleported into the room to the thunderous applause of everyone minus Akechi. As the healing plant's magical aura overtook Ken, broken bones were reset, bruises scuffed out, his swollen left eye went back to normal, while his bloodshot right eye regained a less horrifying color. The burn on his chest closed and healed, his torn to shreds gi was mended before their eyes.

Ken cast a thumbs up. Joker snapped his gaze to Chun-Li, who had been stiff as a board, immediately loosened, "Feeling alright Ken?" she asked

"Yeah!" said Ken with an eager, almost childlike, nod, "Gotta shell out some buckaroos for these Healing Plants. They work better than any spa day I've ever had."

Chun-Li giggled, "You spend money with such boyish charm. It's why you're one of the few billionaires that's beloved."

Ken rubbed the back of his head, "Don't embarrass me in front of the Cruel Brawl Crew Chunnn" he playfully whined.

"For the love of God, can we skip this lovefest and move on to the next volunteer?" shouted Akechi.

"You and Joker have volunteered," came the omnipresent voice of ROB.

"What?" balked Akechi, "The manwhore and I together? You can't be serious."

"I find your childish pittling amusing, and I look forward to seeing it play out on the Battlefield. Now, prepare."

In an instant, he and Joker were on the tri-platformed stage. Immediately, Joker and Akechi went back to back as their robot opponents surrounded them.

"So what's the plan here?" growled Akechi, "Rebel's Guard until we can summon Personas?"

"Oh, you know it, asshole."

Music: Cruel Brawl

Akechi tutted, "I resent that."

3

"Fuck you too."

2

Akechi growled.

1

"What, not so fun when someone's pointlessly mean to you is it?"

GO!

The two adopted the stance of Rebel's Guard as the automations went to work, pounding at them. Their wrist gear showed their custom UI's for the power, all they had to do was wait.

"Your sensitivity to me is as transparent as your adopted sister's autism," Akechi said

Joker glanced over his shoulder. Akechi's eyes were firmly set on his wrist communicator.

At least he's taking this seriously. Gotta ride him for his insults though.

"Oh, real sharp, you gonna say my girlfriend's been with a ton of guys next?" Joker chided

"Shit."

"Come up with some new material next time asshole."

Simultaneously, shouting the name of their Personas of choice, Loki for Akechi and Arsene for Joker, the two demons of the soul stood next to their masters as apparitions. Joker still firm, using Tetracarn to shock the enemies back, and using Eiagon to stagger them further. Casting another glance over his shoulder at Akechi, who Joker reasoned had used his signature buffing move Fortify Spirit to take on four of the seven opponents, while Joker peppered the remaining three on his side with blasts of the cursed fire Eiagon. Joker sprung into action, hitting one of the offenders, the Kirby Alloy, into the air with a double thrust kick, leaping into the air, and smashing the Alloy downward, plummeting offstage. Using Arsene's Wings of Rebellion, he flew back to the stage. However, just as he was about to touch down, everything stopped.

GAME! NEWWW RECORD!

Joker and Akechi were teleported into the room to the sound of Dante and Sans laughing uproariously, "They were just havin' a conversation!" hollered Dante in between wheezes of laughter

"Yeah man, that shit's money, just roasting each other while ROB's super death robot went to town."

Simultaneously, Joker and Akechi both snapped their gazes over to the holographic scoreboard.

Joker: 1

Goro Akechi, 4

Joker's eyes narrowed, "You SDed after you got your three?"

Akechi smirked, "Of course. You could've gone all day, but I couldn't allow that. I learned long ago that if you aren't cheating, you aren't trying."

Joker rolled his eyes as the two rivals returned to their preferred spots in the auditorium. At that moment, Saki stood up, "I'll go next. You guys showed me how to do this. Thanks."

"No problem," Joker said, casting a thumbs up into the air.
The young man disappeared next. The opposing forces, one Smasher and seven AIs stood on opposite ends of Battlefield.

Music: Cruel Brawl

3

2

1

GO!

The bots had barely moved when Saki began to fire his weapon, Pink blasts of laser energy erupted from his weapon, peppering the bots, staggering them from the opposite end of the stage. Both of the Kirby-bots took flight. Saki redirected his gunfire to accommodate the two flying foes, which in turn allowed the grounded foes to move unperturbed. While the two wireframes provided support with laser cannons, the others looked to close the distance. Taking a break from shooting, Saki spun his gun swords to deflect the two blasts, spraying at both the grounded bots and the Kirby Alloys. When the two Alloys were in striking distance, Saki leaped off stage, sending him back to the auditorium.

"HA! What's the matter punk, chicken out?" howled Akechi.

Saki shook his head, a smirk on his face, "Nah, just needed to see how everybody moved."

"What?" demanded Akechi

"Send me back!" Saki shouted

With those words, Saki found himself on the Battlefield once again.

Music: Cruel Brawl

3

2

1

GO!

The first few seconds of the occurred much as the first had, with Saki firing clear across the stage to pepper the bots. Only this time, when the Kirby Alloys took flight, he ignored them. Even as the grounded bots began to advance despite his best efforts, he ignored them. Only when they were right above them did his gaze meet them. Turning into a stone slab, one of Kirby's signature moves, was something Saki must've been expecting because he dodged it at the last moment. Grabbing the Kirby doppelganger, which dissipated his stone form, he drove his head into the Kirby a few times, before spinning kicking him into the crowd of bots. Saki charged forward, slashing a few of the bots in order to keep them off him, but focusing with machine-like precision on the stunned Kirby bot. Slash, slash slash slash slash. Another spinning kick, sending it off the stage. Saki leaped after it, firing his weapon at it, and slamming it down into the blast zone to win.

Saki appeared in the auditorium, grinning up at Akechi, who, as per usual, wore a deep frown. To this, Joker cast the other Amamiya a thumbs up. His eyes also caught sight of Yoshi, who had moved to silently sitting against the back wall of the auditorium, his eyes cast directly at Saki.

I wonder what he could be thinking, Joker thought to himself.

Before ROB could ask for a volunteer, Chun-Li stepped forward, "Dante, if you don't mind?"

"Not at all," said Dante with a flippant shrug.

Now, it was Chun-Li's turn to be thrust unceremoniously on to Battlefield. This time, the bots surrounded her.

Music: Cruel Brawl

3

2

1

GO!

The bots continued to circle her as she assumed her combat stance.

"What is she doing?" Akechi sneered.

"You idiot, she's a cop. She's waiting for one of the bots to make their move," Joker snapped.

Just as the words left Joker's lips, one of the Captain Falcon bots lurched forward. Thrusting an arm around the bot's shoulder and sweeping the leg, she took it down. A Donkey Kong Polygon stepped forward next, only to receive a flurry of kicks for its trouble. A Kirby bot jumped off of the prone Donkey Kong lookalike's shoulders, only for Chun-Li to adjust her angle and simply take the flurry of kicks upward to meet the Kirby imposter, then down again to meet the Donkey Kong. However, the Captain Falcon alloy managed to fly forward and hit the unsuspecting cop with a Raptor Boost, which sent her flying into the air. As the Kirby alloy had done before, the Captain Falcon alloy leaped off of the DK Polygon's shoulders, delivering the infamous Falcon knee. Chun Li flew off stage, but in mid-air, she seemed to right herself

"SPINNING BIRD KICK!" cried Chun-Li,

Like a helicopter blade, she floated into an upside-down position, throwing a spinning kick in the air, the momentum of which carried her back to the stage. As Chun-Li landed on the ground, adopting a crane stance, Joker noticed the extent of the damage. He'd been in enough scraps as a Phantom Theif to know a dislocated jaw when he saw one, and her left eye was swelling shit.

"Zat all you hunks of junk got? C'mon!" slurred Chun-Li.

"My God, I think I'm in love," sighed Sans.

The Captain Falcon Alloy from earlier in the fight was the one to run forward. Chun stepped off stage, the Alloy following. As if she were standing on air, Chun-Li caught the alloy in a flurry of kicks, the final of which was an ax kick, sending the unlucky Alloy into the blast zone, before falling in herself.

The Chinese detective appeared before them in the auditorium, as the aura of the healing plant surrounded her, rewiring her broken jaw and healing her bruises, "Not bad huh?" she said, winking at the crowd.

A flood of congratulations erupted, with only Akechi and Dante staying silent. When the silence finally broke Dante blurted, "Eh, I bet I could do it cooler than you."

"Excuse me?" Chun-Li demanded with the raise of an eyebrow.

"You heard me."

"Well, put your money where your mouth is."

Before Dante can say any more, he was teleported to Battlefield. As they had with Chun-Li, the bots surrounded him.

"Hey Yoshi, do you think the bots are adapting?" Saki asked.

"I know they are," the dinosaur agreed, his voice deathly serious, "They figured out how to get the most hits, and that's the formation they're sticking with for the duration."

Music: Cruel Brawl

3

2

1

GO!
"Hey!" Dante shouted, spreading his arms wide, "Give me a hug!"

With that, all the bots piled on to him.

Akechi chortled with laughter, "Idiot,"

Chun-Li smirked, which in turn caused Ken to smirk, "You fought this guy before right Chunners?"

She nodded, "Mmm-hm. When our realm merged with the superheroes the third time, he showed up. That man may play a fool, but he's craftier than you think, Akechi-san."

The debate was broken suddenly by the sound of an electric guitar. Everyone's gaze snapped to the Battlefield, where a pillar of purple electric energy had erupted from the dogpile, knocking everyone into the air. Dante jumped into the air, completely unharmed, slashing the stunned bots with his sword, seemingly moving them into a dogpile themselves. Thrusting downward with a kick, all seven alloys, were thrown to the ground, bouncing upward. The electric guitar appeared in Dante's hands again, the electric pulses juggling his adversaries. Spinning his sword dramatically, then hitting some kicks that didn't look to out of place in Chun-Li's arsenal racked up the damage for all seven of the alloys, sending them all into the air, just outside the stage. Dante fired a pistol wildly into the air, striking all seven bots, a bullet per bot. The Son of Sparda jumped high into the air, tilting into the air, firing a proverbial hell of bullets as he spun, knocking down all seven bots into the blast zone. Dante let himself spiral down as more bots appeared.

GAME! NEWWW RECORD!

"Isn't that a move of your's Joker? That spinning gun nonsense?" Akechi inquired as Dante appeared.

Joker chuckled, "Where do you think I got it from? Spent a lot of time at Futaba's house playing Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 on her PC."

Chun-Li smiled, "It's still hard to believe that to some people we're just video game characters."

"It goes even further than that if you go on some art websites," Sans interjected.

"Do I even want to know?" Chun-Li asked her skin a bit more pale now.

"No. Especially not you."

"Hey! So what's the verdict Chunners?" asked Dante briskly changing the subject, "Did I do it cooler than you?"

The detective nodded, "Without question. It never would've crossed my mind to eliminate my adversaries via gun kata and a magical electric guitar."

Dante nodded cooly, "Damn straight."

"This concludes the Cruel Smash session. You are now free to move about the premises as you have completed your punishment."

A turquoise blue surrounded the elevator, with the group cramming themselves onto the small ovular panel. The only one who hung back was Yoshi, who keyed a number into his wrist communicator. The holographic visage of Mario appeared.

"It's-a me, Mario." Mario greeted absentmindedly.

"I'm the one who dialed you."

"Oh, right. Anyway, how did-a Cruel Smash go?"

Yoshi shook his head, "It used to be mythic man. Cruel Smash was a legend. In our day, you were lucky to even get one knock out. This new crop of talent just…did it. "

Mario smirked, "That's a-kinda what I wanted to see Nonno. This a-new crew can adapt to any circumstances. They may be n'er-do-well punks, but they're a-gonna turn the tide once Conker decides to get crazy."

"Some of 'em I wouldn't trust to have my back in a fight. The two kids just had witty banter. Witty banter. "

Mario nodded, "I understand your concern, but Joker tried to save Akechi when the rest of-a the Thieves. thought him lost, and Akechi saved all their lives."
Yoshi nodded, "Guess I shouldn't be so quick to judge. Sorry, I'm just crabby, I've never felt as weak as I did watching the new crop of talent fight.," he whined.

Mario chuckled, "That's-a just a side effect of growing old I suppose. Don't stress about it too much Nonno. Enjoy your day."

"What does that word Nonno mean?"

Again, the plumber chuckled, "It means "grandfather" in my ancestor's tongue. You're the closest I've ever had to one. You took-a care of me when I was a wee lad. I'll always owe you and the other Yoshi's for that."

"Yep. We'd do it all over again given the chance." Yoshi said, pausing, " I think I'm gonna get to enjoying my day as you said. See you later kid."

"Goodbye, Yoshi."

The call was terminated as the dinosaur waited for the elevator. He was long overdue for a celebratory lunch.

Smash Mansion: Evening

For the rest of the Smashers, the second day of the free weekend was a time for rest and relaxation. Quinn Marmaduke had taken to this better than anyone, watching television, while Altair had rented some old books from the library. He had said they were history books from his world, wanting to "confirm some things" he'd seen. Perplexing a statement as that had been for the Mii Brawler, he decided to leave him to it. It wasn't like he'd be anywhere near decent company, what with the seemingly endless supply of channels from every universe the Smashers had interacted with, the channel being flipped being punctuated by an archaic buzzing sound from an old TV.

"Hey, y'all, Scott here."

BZZZT

"GITCY, IT'S GOOD FOR YOUR SPLEEN."

BZZZT

"Luuucy, you got some 'splain to do."

BZZZT

"We now return to our feed of Lord Jabu Jabu moving three feet to the right, now in progress."

Quinn had to giggle over that one. It was very obvious what worlds had a tenuous at best grasp of what constituted good TV.

BZZZT

"TRY THE NEW FITNESS BREAD SANDWICH HERE AT SANDWICH. SANDWICH, WE HAVE SANDWICHES"

BZZZT

"MILLY BAYS HERE WITH THE PUTTY THAT CAN FIX YOUR BROKEN MARRIAGE."

BZZZT

"IT'S THE BIG DOG!"

Quinn shut the TV off, "Shoulda gotten a book," he muttered

Just then, he heard ROB's voice over the PA, "Please report to the dining room for dinner and sign up for Physics Week sign up,"

Quinn hopped out of bed, doing some stretches briefly before heading out to the main room, poking his head into Altair's room. The assassin was neatly stacking the books he had rented in his eerily spotless bedroom, "Hey Altair, you headed down?" Quinn asked.

"Yes. I was looking forward to sparring against you. I find the fact that you fight exclusively with your body to be intriguing," Altair said as he exited his bedroom, "Whether the skeleton inevitably infects our proceedings, time will tell."

Walking out the door, Quinn decided to jump to Sans' defense, "Hey Sans' a weird dude but you can't say he's been unkind. He stopped cooking hotdogs when you told him you couldn't eat them."

"Out of self-preservation, I'm sure. As well, if he wished to be kind, he would attempt to adapt to others' way of speaking, as is normally done in diplomatic situations."

"You aren't wrong, I just think if he was the harbinger of chaos everybody thinks he is, he wouldn't have stopped."

"You may be correct. Understand, however, he must mend his own impressions," growled the assassin as the roommates began the long walk down the hall. Quinn found himself nervous. Tests had never been his strong suit. Freeform, independent training is what had worked best for him. Having to share a sparring ring with someone as shrewd as Altair might yield him an embarrassing verbal whipping, should he act cocky or mess up. However, he had trained in the Smash Bros style for a long time. Would his less experienced partner hold him back?

Altair was similarly deep in thought, trying to cut out the yammering of the Smashers coming out of their dorms. He found himself cursing himself despite his best efforts. The lack of people here meant that there were people likely taking up good spots with Smashers he preferred the company of.

If I have to fight Wario due to lack of open training arenas I pray I am granted the strength not to slaughter the oaf.

The two-headed down the stairs, into the dining hall, which appeared to only have about 10 people in it. Well, eleven, as Sans seemingly popped into existence nearly nose to nose with Quinn.

"Geez!" screamed the Mii Brawler, stumbling backward, but catching his footing

"Oh hey, sup? Didn't mean to teleport in like that, sorry."

"How someone so errant as you with their abilities is as successful as you are is beyond m-"

Altair was cut off by a sudden realization. In Sans' non-Gaster Blaster hand, he held a comb.

"Is that…a comb?" the assassin stumbled,

Quinn faked a cough to mask a donkey 'haw' of laughter. He would never admit it to Altair, but the entertainment value of Sans' pushing Altair's buttons was endless.

"Yeah," Sans shrugged, "Do they not have them in your world?"

"That is not the-"

Altair was bellowing, his eyes suddenly wide. But, the man closed his eyes, taking in a deep breath.

"Why do you need a comb?" he asked, his voice now an eerie calm.

"Gotta keep the brain smooth."

"I…"

"He's stunned, now we move in!" a familiar voice squawked

Quinn's gaze snapped to the group already occupying the dining room. Terry, Corrin, Banjo, Kazooie, The Phantom Thieves, Erdrick, Edelgard, and Hubert. They all moved towards the three roommates, now circled around them.

"We were thinkin'. We all got here after the veterans, but before the big recruiting drive." Banjo explained.

"Yes. We were hoping you all would join us in training together," continued Edelgard

Sans waved a hand dismissively, "Nah. I plan on binge-watching every episode of Lord Jabu Jabu Moving to the Right."

"Holy shit, that's episodic?" Ryuji gasped.

"With director's commentary and fun quizzes during the commercial breaks."

"Whelp, skeleton boy's out, who's our eighth man then?" Kazooie wondered, "Corrin's a veteran, so she doesn't exactly fit the DLC brand."

"DLC?" asked Altair, eyebrow raised,

"Dudes Living Courageously! Me an' Ren's pal Ryuji came up with the name!" Banjo proclaimed, his chest swelling with pride.

"And, just to clarify, the term "dude" is genderless?" inquired Hubert.

"God, Elvira, Himbo of the Dark is slow. Yes, where some people come from, including where Banjo and I live, dude is genderless."

"Is Himbo some kind of insult bird?" snarled Hubert.

"Kazooie spends too much time on the internet, don't pay her slang no mind," Banjo grumbled, rolling his eyes

"Pray tell, what is the Internet?"

"I was practically raised on it," proudly proclaimed Futaba.

With a sneer as deep as the oldest canyon on his home continent, Hubert eyed her up and down, "I now understand, unfortunately," he hissed

Terry held up a hand. Every head in the group turned to him, "Back to the matter at hand. Mind if Corrin joins us? We need a veteran hand."

Quinn's attention snapped to Corrin, who stood nearest to Terry. The raven-haired woman was blushing as deep a crimson as her eyes, "You would consider me a veteran Terry?"

Kazooie shrugged, "More so than any of us, so it can't be the worst idea."

"Alright," Corrin agreed, her blush gone, resolve in her voice, "Let's go book a training room for the week then."

Book a…?" sputtered Quinn.

He followed the gaze of all of his compatriots. In addition to the normal dining room table, a side table had been set up with five yellow pieces of paper on it. Quinn moved closer, to examine it. They were spreadsheets, with times given their own rows across the day columns. Corrin edged past him with a mousy "excuse me" before turning to the group, "Is first thing in the morning on the second day okay for everyone?"

A chorus of agreement came from DLC.

The Princess of Two Kingdoms penciled in everyone's name.

Quinn walked back to the group with Corrin, a huge smile on his face as more bodies began to filter in, "Never thought I'd end up in a training camp again. We trained in teams at the school too."

"Yeah!" Terry agreed, "Corrin and I've been talking, she said that the Smashers are usually pretty cliquey within their own universes, but if us outsiders stick together, we can come into this thing pretty well rounded.

Quinn nodded in agreement as DLC went off to get their food.

A little later, Travis Touchdown found himself looking at the pieces of paper. What intrigued him the most was the named seminars. "Champions League" more so than any other. The Duel Champion Cloud, the Brawl Champion Kirby, the Melee champion Roy, and the Champion of the Twelve Mario were holding a training seminar on the first day of Physics Week. Much like how he had trained under wrestling champion turned assassin Thunder Ryu, he figured training with the Smash Champions couldn't hurt. Edging up alongside him were Simon and Ritcher.

"A seminar would be a more advantageous way to learn than free form training wouldn't it?" Ritcher asked his ancestor.

The blond nodded, "Yes, I agree."

"So," Ritcher asked, "Which seminar looks most intriguing to you?"

"Perhaps 'Smashing with Mister Snake' on the fifth morning ?'"

Ritcher raised an eyebrow as a line began to form, "The soldier? An intriguing decision. What is your rationale?"

"I feel as if we are connected to him. Trained in an art for a purpose greater than ourselves as opposed to some of the….what's the term? People who participate in hand to hand combat for money?"

"Martial artists is the term, I believe. And yes, I feel the same way." Ritcher said, penciling both he and Ritcher's name into the proper seminar.

"OUTTA MY WAY LOSERS!" crowed a slew of voices simultaneously.

Wario, The Koopalings, and Porky pushed their way through the line, with Piranha Plant trotting behind. The group gruffly signed their names on an open slot on the fourth day, with Wario signing in Porky and Plant, "I hope you nerds are ready!" Wario bellowed to the entire dining hall.

As if on cue, Lucas, Ness, Red, and Cuphead entered the room, "You bet we are!"

"Look at this league of losers!" chortled Roy Koopa as their opponents sauntered up to the front of the now broken line, each signing their name in Wario's gang's training slot.

"See you jerks in the ring," Lucas said in an uncharacteristically threatening manner as the group went elsewhere in the dining hall.

Later

As the dinner hour was drawing to a close, Fox McCloud wandered into the room. His head hung, he walked up to the table, ignoring the small talk around him. Briefly, the thought crossed his mind to not sign up anywhere at all. It wasn't that he didn't deserve the beating he would get. He deserved that in spades. He just didn't like the alternate option, having to fight them to survive the beating. Maybe if he didn't commit to a date, everything would just…

The massive dining room hall door swung open. Standing in the door was Krystal. The dining room fell silent.

I guess we've been the talk of gossips around here Fox thought.

Krystal briskly walked up to the sign-in sheet, briefly pausing to bare her teeth to Fox. The leader of Star Fox watched as his ex-girlfriend penciled in her name, Falco's and Wolf's, both of whom were absent at the moment.

"You've got permission to sign documents in their name?" snarled Fox.

"I don't need it." spat Krystal, "As I understand it, they'll be informed by ROB, the day before, and if they chicken out, that just leaves more of your cowardly behind to kick. That is if you can muster up the gumption to even sign up. Or, will you retreat to that old chestnut you used to get rid of me, isolation for protection, that's swimming around in your head right now? Be the sniveling worm I know you are. Walk away."

The chorus of 'ooohs' that came next sent a chill up McCloud's spine, bringing him right back to the Academy days, where some hotshot cadet called his dad out for being a disavowed mercenary, and his son gutter trash as a result. Quickly eying the spreadsheet for Krystal's delicate handwriting, he penciled in his own name next to those of his Lylatian brethren.

Krystal huffed, "Hmm, maybe you do have more of a spine than I thought. I'll be seeing you then."

Turning on her heel, Krystal exited the Dining Room as soon as she had entered. Fox caught himself briefly watching Krystal's rear shake from side to side as she strode out of the room, but he looked away in a flash. Being called a pervert in front of everyone would make an already bad night worse, and he didn't want that for himself.

Looking at the spreadsheet one more time, Fox felt the dark cloud that had been his interpersonal drama lift. There was no undoing it. He was to undergo a potential execution by Smashing squad on the third night. His anxieties now gone, Fox observed the world around him. Whereas the dining room was usually full of pleasant chatter, newcomers and veterans alike were speaking in hushed, paranoid whispers. Having been around for every tournament so far, Fox had seen this play out every time. Nervousness about a new tournament, or a new experience entirely in the case of a newcomer, was common. But if felt…thicker somehow? Especially from the veteran groups. Fox couldn't blame them, as there were so many fighting styles at play, he could imagine that the veterans had a lot to juggle with. Soon enough, he would be among them more likely than not. His mind was focused on one thing, Physics week, the culmination of all his bad decisions, and how he was to overcome it all.

(AN: Wowee, that was probably the most difficult chapter I've ever written, but I'm incredibly proud with how it came out. But, I couldn't have done it without some help. Special thanks to Bland Guy for making me question how to mix the Smash Brothers style and fighting sequences that are fun to read, Falco Player for his advice as it pertains to writing Saki, Readyforteddy for general edits, and Puph17 for his permission to use Fitness Bread.
The next arc, Physics Week, is upon us. Then, after a year and a gosh darn half, the tournament can finally begin!)