"The Intergalactic Tournament" Quarterfinals: End of Day by NobodyAtAll

Quarterfinals: Zardor Vs. Duwen

Outside the first KFC on Lumix, around one of the larger tables, my entire group is seated, having ordered a vast quantity of fried chicken products.

Man, not one wrong order. Lumixians rarely get orders wrong.

I’ve got not one, but three Boneless Buckets. I burned a lot of calories today, and bones would slow me down.

om nom nom nom Oh this is good.”

Marley’s got a Boneless Bucket too. He’s levitating the chicken into his mouth. He couldn’t be bothered to use human form for this.

Plus, he doesn’t want to use human form for everything.

um num num num Dem pwoh-teen baws nu did fiww Mawwey up fow wong.”

“Well, what we do burns a lot of calories. Ha! Cal-ories.”

“Cah-woh-wees am dem fings in nummies dat make yu fat if yu haf tuu much of dem, wite?”

“Yup. They’re the energy your body uses for everything it does. And us Omegas burn a lot more calories than most. So we’re among those lucky few for whom fried food is a health food. It’s packed with calories. It’s just what we need after a day of battle.”

Victor nods, dipping a french fry in some of his own barbecue sauce. He never leaves the house without a bottle, just like Deston and the Draught of Demonbane.

And yeah, I know they don’t usually do fries at KFC in America, but we’re not in America, are we? Far from it.

“That’s why I like the Heart Attack Grill. It’s the perfect place for me to fuel my regeneration after an intense mission. And when I found out that anyone over 350 pounds eats there for free, you better believe I got a fatsuit.”

Ah, Victor. What won’t you do for a free meal?

Well, he has to disguise himself before he goes there. He eats there once a week. If he didn’t use a different disguise every week, people would freak the fuck out.

“So, uh, Vic, what happens if your enemies catch you on an empty stomach? If your regeneration requires you to eat, does that mean they can kill you by starving you?”

“No, because my immortality doesn’t require me to eat. You know that Omegas can kill me, but the best that most people can do is put me in a state I can’t get out of by myself. Like blowing me to little bits. Or to atoms. Even then, I’d still be alive, but I’d need help from Pierre or someone on his level to restore me.”

Pierre nods, eating a drumstick with a displeased look on his face.

He’s the the kind of guy who prefers eating with cutlery. I’ve seen him eat burgers with a knife and fork. Yeah, that kinda guy.

“I can reconstitute Victor from atoms, using a protein paste. It’s happened before. I just dumped what was left of him in a vat of the stuff and waited. It took quite a while, but we both had the time.”

“Yeah, that’s the sucky part about my regeneration. I can heal from almost anything, but the worse the injury, the longer it takes. Like, if I get an arm chopped off, if I can find the arm and stick it back on, it’ll heal quicker than if I regenerated a new arm.”

I pause, a piece of chicken halfway to my mouth.

“So, since me and Mar have your regeneration too, and so does Quin, does that mean we can grow back body parts?”

“I’ll ask you the question I asked you back when we saved Cleo and Julius, Cal: do you really wanna find out? It was a close call when you jammed your fist down Umbra’s throat.”

“Well, there’s regeneration tech, so that’s always an option, right? Even though a lot of people with missing limbs choose to forgo it. And hey, that’s their call.”

Of course, fluffies are more likely to accept the offer of having their missing limbs regrown. They’re wired to want to run and hug and play, they can’t do any of that without legs.

I’m sure you’re familiar with the effect pillowing has on the delicate fluffy psyche, dear readers.

Of course, not all fluffies are like that. Because not all fluffies are exactly the same, unlike what some people believe.

Hell, look at the fluffies sitting at this table. The rasta fluffy who can become human, the immortal fluffy who likes crime movies, the horny half-demon fluffy, you see my point, yes?

So, some fluffies are okay with living without a leg or two. A fluffy can still play and hug with two legs.

But pillowfluffs are, nine times out of ten, intensely depressed about their predicament, and would do anything to get out of it.

Deston’s dealt with a lot of suicidal pillowfluffs, and every time, the treatment is the same: put them in a regen vat. He’s discovered that former pillowfluffs are more likely to behave, out of sheer gratitude.

Of course, a lot of those former pillowfluffs were pillowed by their former owners.

So those assholes went to jail, and those ex-pillows’ new owners are very happy with their fluffies.

Don’tcha just love happy endings?

Because I really, really hope that this Saga gets one.


Back at the stadium, in Duwen and Scha’s quarters, Duwen reclines on his bed.

Their quarters only has the one bedroom, with two beds.

Duwen looks discomforted.

“The krik have the nerve to call this sorry slab a bed. I haven’t had a good night’s sleep since we got here, Scha.”

Scha walks in from the bathroom, pulling his hood up.

“Yes, back home, our palace has the most luxurious beds. Of course, they were made by Tennebites, so they would be sublime.”

“Indeed. It’s just as I’ve said. We’re inherently pure, so all our works are masterpieces. I’d show the krik how to make a proper bed, but they don’t deserve our knowledge.”

“Alas, there is one problem. I understand that the winner will be making their wish in front of everyone. So, when you win, everyone will know what you want.

“But it will be too late. The Cosmic Dragon is obligated to grant the wish. As long as it doesn’t break the rules, and it doesn’t. I’ll make the wish, and we’ll leave before anyone can stop us.”

“Keep in mind that there’ll be sixty-three seasoned fighters watching you make your wish, Duwen.”

“Sixty-two. The Saingan Konba left. Such a disgrace. Crying over his loss like an infant.

“Where do you suppose he went, Duwen?”

“Who cares? I don’t. We’ll probably never see him again.”


Meanwhile, in a bar housed in a run-down space station, Konba sits at a table with a hooded individual.

“Good to see you again, Konba. Last we met, I was introducing you to the Terran Valentine.”

“You promised me a fight with Korkea. I never got it, and now, his green pet and metallic doppelganger have both humiliated me. I want revenge.

“Ah, and here I thought you were just a troubled young man who wanted to prove himself to his father. Are you saying what I think you’re saying?”

Konba nods.

“I know you’ve got plans for Korkea, and I want in. Take me to your leader. I want to join the Ganglion.”

“I think he’ll be happy to initiate you. You’re much more eager than those two Tennebites are. They’re still holding out on us, but they’ll cave.”

“Are you referring to Duwen? Because he’s participating in the Intergalactic Tournament. Tomorrow’s the semifinals.”

“Oh, yes, we know. That sly bastard and his brother think they can get what they want without us. Here’s hoping Duwen loses. Then those two will have no choice but to come crawling back to us.”

“I hope Korkea beats him to a pulp. But, honestly…”

Konba chuckles.

“…I’d settle for Duwen beating Korkea to a pulp.”


After our meal, we return to our quarters at the stadium.

Eira’s finally awake.

She’s disappointed that she slept through the quarterfinals, but Judy decides to fill her in for us.

They’re going on a little shopping trip together. To get souvenirs for Claire and Arnalda, and for the Iokans. Snowball will be tagging along.

June will be watching all of the kids and most of the fluffies together with Victor, Dave’s taking his family sightseeing, Pierre will be helping Jack tinker with… something, wasn’t really paying attention, Seth and Andre are going to that bar across the street, and Miles and Future Quin and Marley will be seeing if the ring is free.

So, that leaves me and Marley to find an empty training room.

Fortunately, one’s freed up just as we arrive.

“Tema? What are you doing here? You’re not a participant.”

“You don’t have to be one to use these training rooms, my boy. But us Saingans like to work out several times a day. You train a lot, boys?”

“Aww da time.”

“Good, good, I think you’d both fit right in on Vajarsi. Like I said before, you’ll always be welcome on our planet!”

“I’ve got a buddy who visited Vajarsi a while back.”

“Was he with a Furon, and a fluffy?”

“Yeah.”

“So that’s who that was! We saw them while I was settling a dispute with one of my subjects. We wanted to say hello, but they flew off suddenly. Strangest thing. We’re not hostile to guests, we’re all too eager to invite them to our festivities.”

That might be why. Saingans party hard. Harder than most humans can handle. And fluffies? Fuggedaboutit!

“I’ve gotta get going, but if I hear anything about my idiot son, I’ll let you know.”

“Another friend of mine caught him trying to sneak onto Earth, but I don’t know where he is now.”

“Aw-fuh pikt a wan-dum pow-taw, su Konba cud be aneewhewe.

Yeah, Alpha dropped in to let us know about his second run-in with Konba.


VA-VOOM

I fire an energy blast at the wall. The walls here are tougher than the School’s training rooms’, and those are some tough fucking walls.

But here’s the thing about that energy blast.

I didn’t fire it with my hand.

I fired it with my foot.

“Okay, so we’ve done eyes, mouth and feet, what’s next?”

Marley rubs his chin with a marshmallow hoof.

“Poopie pwace?”

“If I wanted to do that, I’d ask Dibbler for another hot dog.”

Wouldn’t be a bad idea to keep that one in the back pocket. It doesn’t seem so bad, compared to firing energy blasts from your junk, right?

I’m just glad there isn’t a voice of Cal’s inner teenager in here, because if there was, it wouldn’t be able to stop laughing.

Preaching to the choir, Fi.

“Okay, maybe we should see if we can absorb energy, instead. And after that, some more meditation, work on honing the energy sensing.

“Mawwey wan twy da poopie pwace enn-ew-gee bwast, daddeh. Ooh, ow mebbeh fiyah.

“You mean farting fire?”

If there ever was a moment for the voice of Cal’s inner teenager to manifest, that moment is NOW.

…No? Really? Well, that’s a shame.

Have you considered that maybe you’re my inner teenager, Niv?

That, on top of being the caveman part of your mind, your dark side, AND the remnant of your brush with vampirism?

It would explain a lot, Niv.

“I love the idea, Mar, but not now. Save it for when we run into Konba again.”

“Otay, daddeh.”

Call it energy, call it power, call it spirit, call it life force, call it chi or ki or qi, it’s all the same thing, really.

Akira explained it all to me, way back when I trained with him to copy his powers.

Basically, the metaphor he used is, the soul is like a flame, and that energy is like the heat coming from the flame.

He said that isn’t exactly the truth, but it’s a lie I can understand.


That… for lack of a better term, night, I lie in bed, staring at the ceiling.

Once again, Judy walks in wearing that nightie, but this time, I’m too worried to pay attention to it.

Even though it accentuates her curves magnificently.

“Cal, I’d ask what’s wrong, but I know what’s wrong. Iyatagg.”

“Got it in one, Jude. I’m facing a bit of a moral quandary, here. If I beat Iyatagg, that means I’m dooming his race. But if I don’t beat him, I don’t get a chance to stop Duwen from getting the wish. And I have a feeling that Duwen’s wish will be really bad for the universe. So even if I save the day, I’m screwing over a lot of people. Even though they’re all technically one person right now.”

“Well, you know what Pierre says, hun: we can’t save everyone.

“I know. I’m gonna go for a walk, okay? I need to clear my head.”


So I get dressed, and go for a walk around the ring.

It would be thematically appropriate if it was a moonlit walk, but there’s no nights here.

Still, most races are used to sleeping through part of the day, so most people are asleep.

The Lumixians are working on some kind of artificial night thing, but it’s a work in progress.

Cal, I think there’s someone who knows what you’re going through. Someone who might be able to help you.

Who?

One of my previous Champions.

Uh, aren’t they all dead?

Dead doesn’t mean gone. You know that, Cal. I can call his spirit, to offer you guidance.

Really? Why didn’t this ever come up sooner?

You never needed it before now.

The Sword of Kings, which I have strapped to my back, starts glowing softly.

A spectre appears, glowing the same way.

He’s about my age, clad in a tunic, with chainmail under it, and leather boots. He looks European, probably Western Europe, and judging by his getup, his time was at least a few centuries ago. He’s got an ethereal replica of the Sword of Kings strapped to his back, along with a shield with a large cross on it, and a floppy cap.

He smiles at me.

“Calvin Korkea. At last we meet. My name is Lincoln. I was the Champion before you. Has the Sword of Mastery been serving you well? That’s what it was called in my day. I named the spirit Hild.”

“Oh yeah. Fi, that’s what I call the spirit in the Sword, she says you can help me with something…”

So I explain my situation to Lincoln.

He thinks about it.

“This is tricky. You can potentially save many lives, but only by dooming an entire race. Yet you do not know whether this Duwen’s wish will actually spell doom for the universe.”

“Yeah, that’s the gist of it. I mean, if I lose to Iyatagg, there’s no guarantee that he can beat Duwen. If he loses, Duwen gets the wish and Iyatagg’s race is screwed.”

“Then there is only one thing you can do. Fight. And win. True, Iyatagg will be unable to undo his merger. But Duwen will also be unable to make his wish. I’m afraid that’s the best case scenario, Cal. Sometimes, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Sometimes, some must die so others can live. I had to use that sword you bear to kill many an evildoer so that innocents could live. And I know you’ve done the same.”

“But this is different, Lincoln. We’re talking about sacrificing innocents for innocents. And there’s children in Iyatagg’s merger, too.”

“But the lives of many more children may hang in the balance. Including the lives of your own children.”

Damn it, he’s right. I can’t take that risk.

I have to beat Iyatagg. Because, if I don’t…

I don’t think any more children will ever be born.

Maybe I’m just being paranoid. Or maybe I’m not being paranoid enough.

But bit by bit, I’m getting more and more pieces of the puzzle, and I don’t like the picture.

Duwen must lose.

I’ve got the best odds of beating him.

And Iyatagg is just the unfortunate bastard who happens to be in the way.

“Lincoln… you’re right. I don’t have a choice. I have to beat Iyatagg. I just hope he can forgive me. Because I don’t think I’ll be able to forgive myself.

“Would you be able to forgive yourself if you let Duwen get that wish? This is not as bad as that. Don’t be so hard on yourself, Cal. You are not the villain here.”

“Thanks, Lincoln.”

“Should you ever require my counsel again, let Hild know. Er, sorry, it’s Fi now, I forgot. Fare thee well, Cal. Until we meet again.”

Lincoln’s spirit vanishes, returning to the afterlife.

I’m just going to assume that he went Up There when he died.

I head back to the quarters, knowing what must be done.

And hating myself for it.


The next… fuck it, morning, I’m one of the first up again.

Just as I walk into the kitchen to get started on breakfast, Victor walks into the quarters.

I know he went to the bar at some point yesterday.

“Who was it this time, Vic?”

“A Goomi. Christ, Nikka was right, they’re amazing. I once did my thing with a yoga nut who could put her feet behind her head, that’s nothing compared to what Goomi women can do.”

“Is it the same Goomi that Nikka hooked up with?”

“Yup. Nikka hooked up with Leeva. And the four of us are meeting up later.”

I knew he’d end up having a foursome.

But I was expecting Loana and Gabriel to be involved.

Knowing Victor, he’s probably gonna try for a sixsome.

Wouldn’t be his first orgy.


A few hours later, everyone’s up. The siren’s song of bacon never fails.

When we’re ready, we make our way to our area in the stadium.

Iyatagg walks up.

“Calvin Korkea. I’ll be seeing you in the ring soon.”

“I know. And I’ll tell you what I told Amitsu: if you can’t beat me at my best, you can’t win this tournament. So even though the future of your race is at stake, I’m not going easy on you.”

“I wouldn’t expect you to go easy on me. I shall not be going easy on you. May the best man win.”

“I hope you don’t hold it against me if I kick your ass. I’ve got my reasons to want this W so much.”

“Duwen.”

“Primarily, yes.”

“He worries me too, Calvin.”

“Yeah, and if you beat me, he’s your problem. Remember that. If you lose to him, everyone loses. Nothing he wants can be good for the universe, I know enough about Tennebites to say that.

“Their ill reputation is deserved, believe me. They waged war on my planet too, in the days before my merger. I have the memories of many people who lost loved ones to the Tennebites. I will not let Duwen triumph, Calvin.”

“Neither will I. And soon, we find out which one of us has to deal with him.”

Iyatagg offers me a handshake, and I accept.

Then he leaves to his area, without saying another word.

I’m not offended.

The time for chitchat is over.

It’s time for action.

When the stadium is full, Mr. Announcer takes the mic.

“Another beautiful day, folks! Of course, the weather’s always like this on Lumix! Today, the semifinals begin! Four fighters remain! Only two of them can move on to the finals! Who will it be? I can’t wait to find out! How about you, folks? We’ll be starting with Calvin Korkea versus Iyatagg! Calling Calvin Korkea and Iyatagg to the ring!”

“Well, here goes.”

“Gud wuck, daddeh.”

“Oh, Mar… I don’t need luck. I’ve got skill.

“And love, Cal.”

“Of course, Jude.”

As my group cheers me on, I enter the ring.

Semifinals: Calvin Vs. Iyatagg

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