LOG: Schoolyard Fight
"He's supposed to be me..."
"There is no me without killer intent."
They say if one knows nothing, they should know themselves. The problem with that where he was concerned was the fact that now, there was no knowing himself. There was only knowing pieces of himself, fractions... What was left after a conditioned mind was cleaned, processed and given the trappings of wetwear. Emotions, thought processes. Fortissimo, or whatever HE was called... wasn't Forte.
At least not yet.
He had frailty... he had failings. If everything he'd heard and read were true, Fortissimo was a perversion of the real thing and thus needed a new education. Or perhaps a re-education. Nevertheless the call went out on a frequency that only he could here. He'd taken steps to alter his personal frequencies, to keep this one out of his head. This was his game and he'd play it his way. If they wanted him to be Bass and Fortissimo to be whatever he was... then they'd damn well get it. - It was a beacon and nothing more, a nagging hum, coming from a specific place. Was it Bass? He couldn't be sure unless he showed up. It was an urge, baiting his battle instincts. Nothing but showing up alone would yield results. The call was for him to show up... at a school of all places. Not a college or a highschool, but a Junior High. On the playground.
And funnily enough. At 3 o'clock. Right when the bell rang.
Students came pouring out of the school, headed towards the grounds. Some moving to their buses, others getting in cars with their parents, more still headed for afterschool activities and the basketball playgrounds. Among them was Bass himself, sitting on one of the steel bleachers, a black and white basketball between his fingers, rolling it slowly in his palms, those purple gashes beneath his eyes making his red eyed glare look that much more severe. He wore dark blue denim jeans, a pair of high topped sneakers and a black shirt that fit him, if a bit long, on its front some Indie band that loved eyeliner. Over his shoulders he wore a Junior Highschool letterman's jacket, the Bass drum stitched on one sleeve of it.
It's an appropriate enough place, Fortissimo figures. Schoolyard fight for a schoolyard bully. In the end, it looked to him like that was what Bass was amounting to so far. There are always ways for someone to get around without making themselves obvious, and in his case, once he pinpointed the source of the beacon he decided to waltz right in, armor and all. Though, of course, he keeps it covered by that drab brown poncho. There's no need to alert anyone here without a good reason, though he clearly doesn't blend into anything remotely. Or, perhaps, that's his intention.
As he walks toward the source of the beacon, his eyes scan the area. It's a little more annoying to try and pick out a face or a body when there's a sea of schoolkids running past, but he's got a couple advantages here. One, he's a head taller than them... seeing as they are schoolkids and all... and two, he knows exactly what face he's looking for. After all, he's seen it in the mirror often enough. But another thing in his favor is that he knows he should be looking for someone that's not walking with the crowds. Inside the school? No, that's not a very good place, that'd just be a pain in the ass, unless it was the lunchroom anyway. No, there are better places.
Red eyes scan the area, students giving him a wide berth as he obviously doesn't belong. He lingers on the edge of the playground, looking for the machine with his face, patiently. There will be time to be angry later. Right now, it is time to play the waiting game.
Perhaps a compulsion, maybe some kind of sick attempt at having what he couldn't at that very moment, it was no surprise when Bass stood slowly from the bleachers, his eyes focused on one among the crowd as he lazily stomped his way down the bleachers. When the boy got closer, his eyebrows tightened, glaring at him, his hand reaching out, ball under the elbow of his adjacent arm, resting against his side. That free hand that reached out stopped the boy. Bass, without his armored boots on, was no taller than the rest of the kids at this school, his black hair, stained with those white bangs to one side, blowing in the easy breeze as he glared the boy down. Pure intimidation was on the boy's face. The kid was a runt, his eyes innocent, the same color as the ones he despised so much... The boy's hair a mess of brown on his head...
He could have been Rock's brother. Bass' lip curled in disgust at him. "Hey..." he says, shoving the boy, almost to the ground. The young man stumbles, backing away from him. Bass chuckles darkly, dropping his ball, letting it bounce a few times before he anchors it to the ground with a sneaker. "... Gimmie your money." He was such an asshole. Picking on this kid, not because he wanted his money, no, but because he looked like the boy he himself bullied every chance he got. The boy he was obsessed with ending. This young man, backing away from him still, Bass snarls, both hands racing out as he steps towards him, snatching the boy up by his collar, "Gimmie your fuckin' money, prick! Before I beat the SHIT outta you!"
Shoving the boy down, fear in his young face, he rummages into his pockets and produces a sweaty wad of short currency. Nothing big. Barely enough to buy a burrito and a drink at the taco place around the corner. Bass snatches it up and stuffs it in his pocket. "Stop lookin' at me like that, you weak piece of... --grr.. Post check," Bass snarls, nudging his head towards the basketball goal, the boy getting up and quickly positioning himself beneath it. Bass leans over, scooping up his ball, only to step to the free-throw line, dribbling it slowly as he concentrates on his shot. Putting his hand up in the air, he performs a perfect throw, the ball splashing right into the net with a crisp snap, the young man he'd forced to be his Post Checker catching it and bouncing it back to him, content to stand there all evening if it meant he wasn't going to get beat up.
Bass catches the ball again, completely unconcerned... knowing he was there... practically able to feel him.
Looking through the faces, he sees that poncho soon enough, chuckling again as he puts another shot into the air.
"Splash." The ball drops in again...
There are a few things that are staples of junior high. Kids picking on other kids is one of them. Still, there are limits. Usually you see a crowd gather, of course, and kids swing at each other. Sometimes they even manage to do some damage. These things follow a pattern. Same as any time he'd fought. There were always people brave enough to stick around and watch. Usually not many, but enough to matter.
But when he turns his head toward the commotion, there's no crowd. There's no one backing the bully up. Never mind the clothes -- not as if Fortissimo didn't dress down at times to go incognito in public himself, after all. He glances down at himself, briefly thankful that the humanoid conversion process added several extra inches and essentially gave him an adult body. Being short... he remembers how much of a pain that was at times. The main downside was not being able to merge with Treble any longer, since there are limits to it all.
He walks past the fence and toward the basketball court as Bass throws the ball. The display is taken in with a snort, and by the next time the ball is sailing toward the hoop, he's striding onto the court. The ball swishes through the hoop, of course -- nothing but net, and what else could you possibly expect from being thrown with such mechanical excellence? -- but it bounces off the asphalt once before it's plucked out of midair. Red eyes turn toward the youth that had been about to grab the ball, and with a hard glare, he motions with one hand for the kid to get lost.
And then he's dribbling the ball slowly, turning toward Bass. It bounces a few times, before the ball is launched horizontally toward him. "Check."
Standing up straight, a hand dropping down onto his hip as he throws all of his weight on one foot, glaring at the display before him, Bass watches Fortissimo step onto the course, the ball dribbling. He sees it fall into his white gloved hand. Smirking at the cloth covering, his head shaking. "Nice gloves," he says without hesitation, looking up into the taller version's eyes. He could see it... could -smell- it now and it clearly sickened him. As he shoos the boy off, Bass snarls, "Mind your own business!" His eyes were sharp then, glaring at him as the boy marches away. Bass, reacting like the true beast his is, Bass sees it as an affront to his property. That kid might as well have the stamp of Bass on him, and no matter how hard Fortissimo or anyone else attempted to keep him away, Bass would come find him again.
He was a creature of habit. The poor boy didn't stand a chance. Bass'd probably come right back to this school tomorrow like clockwork and take his money again. That was his nature. He was methodical, the most dangerous kind of sociopath. The kind that had chaotic and dark thoughts coupled with a methodology that had structure and no pattern. Unpredictable but categorical. Running his tongue over his teeth, he exhales hard as Fortissimo checks the ball towards him. Clamping his hands down onto the ball, hearing the hollow tone from the rubber, he looks up at the hoop. Dribbling the ball once... twice... a third time, he spins it in the air with the twirl of his fingertip, releasing it to drop, spinning, to the ground. It bounces back up into his hands. Setting his legs, he looks up and again puts another perfect shot into the air.
The ball snaps through the hoop as he says, "Keep your fuckin' hands out of my business. I didn't call you here for that. I called you here to figure out exactly what it is you THINK you are..." Glaring down at his own hand, he looks at his palm, then back up at Fortissimo, "... I smell you. And you -stink-. You smell like sweat and blood-- And something else I can't quite put my finger on, but I promise you I've smelled it on Rock before."
Fortissimo answers Bass with a shrug, while the basketball bounces away and rolls to a stop near the edge of the court, forgotten. He inclines his head slightly, looking Bass over, and his arms cross in front of himself. His hands remain empty for now, though a small smile spreads across his face slowly. "You like 'em? Dressed up just for you," he remarks.
Crimson eyes meet a matching pair as Fortissimo continues, "I already know what I am. And I know what -you- are, for that matter. You want to complain about how I smell, fine. You do that. Tell you what, though. The real difference between us, Forte? I woke up. I decided to grow up. And I said fuck 'em all, and went my own way."
Those hawkish red eyes of his focus on the ball, watching it bounce away, ending in a roll that slides its way through the grass to a stop. He was so very tempted to tell his twin to go fetch. In fact, he loved the idea so much a kind of mirth gleamed in his eyes, but he didn't say a word. Taking the time instead to push his hands into his pockets and pull out the boy's Zenny. Uncrumpling the bills, he starts counting it, and from his adjacent pocket, his other hand had several more wads of cash to put with it. All of them he uncrumples, a sick little smirk on his face as he counts out what must have been fifteen kids he'd either stolen from or beaten up and robbed. When Fortissimo mentions growing up however, Bass snaps his gaze back up at him.
"Yeah, you're right. You got taller." It wasn't that he missed his meaning, he was intentionally ignoring it. Folding the bills over, he closes his hand over them and takes a few slow steps towards his... copy. Those red eyes squint dangerously, his head tilting, bangs blowing back in the wind, mingling with his black hair as Bass' eyes slip slowly upwards. Looking him over, sizing him up from head to toe and back up again, glaring at that blonde hair. "Tch..." he scoffs, rolling his eyes as he looks back down at his money, finishing his count and pushing it into a pocket. "Your own way..."
"You don't have a way. You're nothing without me. Act like you're better than me if you want to, having a human brain doesn't make you superior. It makes you inferior. You don't have a singular focus now. You're just like them. Purposeless. Walking around with the stink of earth, sweat, shit and piss- and why...? You don't even know." Bass reaches out, scooping up a piece of his poncho, rolling the fabric between his fingers, "Ask anyone of -them-," he snarls, looking out over the thinning crowd of kids, "What they're here to do and they won't have an answer. Not one of them knows their true purpose." Bass' eyes snap back onto Fortissimo.
"Ask a machine what his purposes is from the day of birth to the end of life and his answer will be THE SAME. There's a kind of sick perfection in it... a mechanical beauty that you couldn't possibly fathom or understand now. You've lost your crown of grit and metal."
The brown cloak flutters a bit in the wind, Fortissimo keeping an impassive gaze upon Bass. He listens, of course. He could hardly be expected to do otherwise. He doesn't react when Bass touches the fabric, though a corner of his lip curls up in amusement at the words, but after Bass says his piece, he moves his head from side to side slowly, that little smirk disappearing.
"I had a purpose. I fulfilled it. Rock's dead at my hand. Intentional? Not really. Do I care? Not really," comes his response, standing there nearly motionless. "Never said I was superior. If I thought I was God's gift or whatever, I'd as soon leave you rusting. Instead, you're what I was before I went to Innerpeace and got the conversion... or at least, you're supposed to be. Not sure where things went wrong. Still, you're wrong about a couple things right there."
One arm comes out, motioning toward the scattered schoolchildren as they pass by. "They've got a purpose. All life does. Problem is, they're all too stupid to see it even though it's clear as day. Consume. Reproduce. Survive. That's what they do. As for me, well... this is a vacation. I've spent nine years up to my eyeballs while the world shits on me, and frankly? I'm -done-. Been doing some sightseeing, but you know how it goes, can't stay out of trouble. Here's the other thing though. Humanoids? They're not humans. There's still plenty of metal. There's just skin, too. I didn't ask for this. But I may as well enjoy it. Dig?"
And while in a perfect world, everything that Fortissimo said made perfect sense. In the law and land of rationality, every word rung as true as a bell in his heart. But the horrible truth of the situation was that this time there was no discerning ear. There was no heart at the bottom of his chest to absorb those words in. There was only the cold, thoughtless, heartless mind of a child, spoiled by his glutton of death and destruction. Brought up to believe the principles of a twisted old man and his obsession with power. And perhaps the saddest notion of it all was the fact that this one believed his every motive was true and right.
But there was another problem. One far more dangerous. One far darker. Fortissimo in all of his casual words had forgotten something about his true self. Purpose. It was the single thing that drives Bass... Forte. It was the reason. His reason. It wasn't the last statement he'd made. Nor was it the first. But somewhere in the ebb and flow of his words, his idle conversation he'd said something that changed the tide of this meeting. Changed the tide perhaps in the worst way one could where Bass was concerned. He'd forgotten the fact that everything in that cube was months old, far behind what Bass knew about this world. While some memories transfered over perfectly, one did not, and it's the one that remained the biggest mystery, the biggest puzzle to him.
The last thing he knew about Rock...
Was that he was alive.
Bass' left eye twitched.
Fortissimo... killed Rock?! "You... -- you're..." Bass' eyes go wide, twitching madly, glaring holes into Fortissimo, as if he wished by sheer power of will that he could make him disappear from the face of the earth.
It happened in literally the blink of an eye. Bass' feet lept from the ground in the formation of armored boots. Black armor, gold fins, skin-tight, shining white gloves wrapped around his fingers and in the same flash of purple and white light he near instantaneously closed the distance between he and his twin, his mouth open wide, eyes practically non-existant with power raging through them, blaring white as a roar ripped from him that could have broken concrete, his fingers clawing as they rushed back, slamming into a tight fist that came charging in towards Fortissimo's chest, square.
"LIAR! ROCKMAN IS MINE TO KILL! I'LL TEAR YOU APAAAART!!!"
The fist is a surprise. Fortissimo can't deny that he didn't expect it to happen. He recognizes the warning signs, of course, and the appearance of the armor is fast... but his reflexes are no slower than they ever were. One of the small mercies of being converted is that the nervous system still runs at the speed of light, rather than at the speed of chemistry. And yet even with that, it takes time for muscles to react and move the body.
It takes precious microseconds to backpedal, time that is already being filled by Bass' manic rush forward. Somewhere, in a distant part of his mind, he's remembering how he fights and is trying to piece together the best way to counter it. Right now, that distant part of his mind is telling him to get the hell out of the way.
It's a great idea, to be sure, but it doesn't mean he can do it fast enough. He moves backward as rapidly as he can, but the impact of Bass' fist is formidible. It isn't hard enough to do permanent damage, thankfully, but there's still the muffled clang of a metal fist impacting his sternum... fortunately also metal, but the flesh beneath is going to be suffering one hell of a bruise. His next step is to move to the side, but he's not drawing weapons or swinging back. Not yet. No, his next step is to open his mouth.
"THAT WAS FIVE YEARS AGO!" he exclaims crossly, voice not betraying any sign of injury yet. "What the hell's in your head?! There's more than one of him! Have him, I don't care."
It didn't matter what timeline was the science behind his musings. It didn't matter when, where or even how he managed to silence Rock. Whether Rock was here, alive or not. He'd triggered something in Bass. Like taking something from a four-year-old, he focused on the slight, the sting of the act, not the truth behind it. For Fortissimo this seemed like a moment in which he was wrongly read. For Bass, it was something else... Unfortunately for the flesh and metal version of himself...
Bass wasn't here.
As the fist slams into the armor of Fortissimo's chest, Bass was already four moves ahead. Not planning, not focusing... but instinct. Hundreds, perhaps even thousands of battles rattling around in his ancient head. Things that a mind, any way human likely would have forgotten, recalled for Bass as if they were happening right then and there. Each and everyone of them was brought back to the present like a psychic time machine. He felt it, felt it roll up his arm, the feeling of impact that drove him in battle. Those energy-white eyes were blazing. Even as Fortissimo turned to one side after the impact, Bass' feet left the ground. The hop was short, the movement perfect, his body spinning into Fortissimo's stance, intentionally trying to throw him off balance, mid-step, his left leg kicking out to one side, bending at the joint to send his knee rushing in towards Fortissimo, sticking to him like a shadow, not at all allowing him to get outside of arms reach as he pressed on.
That leg burst into purple flames, energy ripping about it, licking at the air as Bass threw mechanical prowess behind the blow, strength enough to splinter galvanized wooden beams as he roared on. "YOU WEAK, WORTHLESS PIECE OF FLESH!" He roars, snarling, panting for breath with every word. "I'll show you... You think you've evolved? Think you've moved beyond the ANIMAL THAT'S IN FRONT OF YOU NOW!? I'll bring the SAME THING OUTTA YOU!"
This, Fortissimo thinks to himself, is not a good thing. But there's a very funny thing to all of this, which occurs to him as he drops to one knee and ducks under the leg that should have shattered his hip, smoothly shifting to bring both hands upward and toward Bass, just a shove right now to push him back. Just enough to give him breathing room. Yes, it's a very funny thing. He could always try to talk some sense into him -- okay, that's an even more hilarious concept -- but this is going to be the first real challenge he's had in months.
It's funny, all right. To find a worthy opponent... he needs to fight himself, in a way.
He isn't waiting to see what the results of that quick thrust of his hands, though. The momentum is useful, though, as he rolls to the side, and as soon as his feet are both on the pavement of the basketball court again, he kicks away from it to put additional space between himself and his twin.
Of course that's not to say he's being silent. Far from it, his lips are moving as much as anyone might expect. "Get the hell over it! Why would I want to move past that? That's who I -am-! Just because I'm on vacation doesn't mean that I'm gonna let go of that! Difference is, I started aiming it! And I used it to put a copy of the old man out of his misery!"
Worthy. An interesting word choice.
In his robotic mind every movement was with purpose, never a wasted motion, never a wasted second, milisecond, nanosecond even. Battling with some of the quickest machines alive, Blues and Quick Man no exception, he had swallowed them whole. Had found ways around every defense, a way -through- every offense. Its no surprise that he was more than welcome to swallow himself. Perhaps that's where one had the mind to make such a thing as Forte.exe. A thing that swallowed everything around it. Based on the original design of the machine it came from? Maybe... Or maybe The Forte would always be an all consuming fury. Roaring in opposition to himself, he moves through with the cataclysmic force he was designed to.
The shove... its accepted. Without shying away from it.
Every blow, every wound, every scar... "EVERY SCAR IS A VICTORY!" Bass rips apart the air with his voice, those hands slamming into his chest, he using the momentum, turning his upperbody back, flipping backwards in the air, rolling into a tight ball, legs coiling, preparing to spring as he impacts the basketball pole, bending it back, as he vaults from it, rushing Bass as he rolls and pushes himself back, destroying the distance between them in the same amount of time it took to fly backwards. He was on him, moving towards him like a battering ram of anger, of hatred. Fortissimo had let things go, went on a 'vacation'. The problem with that was that Bass... The Forte hated HIMSELF with the same loathing he had for Rock, and for everything else. He would kill himself just to destroy...
Coming from the short distance above, he aimed himself at Fortissimo, driving down with both feet, KNOWING he'd be anticipating impact, planning to use the time it took for those feet to reach him to either formulate a plan or move away. And that's why his dash jets fire... blowing the entire double-charge instead on blasting downward with a heat that was equal only to the hatred burning in his being for this... this THING that was claiming to be him. The blast rushing down at him while it stopped him mid-air, letting him push off of the air and turn over backwards, landing in a three point stance, his mouth open again, snarling, spittle flying as he yells at his mirror, "I DON'T GIVE A -DAMN- ABOUT THAT OLD MAN!"
"Good, that makes two of us," Fortissimo breathes under his breath. It's little surprise to him that Bass is pushing so hard -- he'd be worried if that wasn't the case. At least it goes to show that he's still himself, whatever else might be the case. Of course... there's a simple problem with this. He's still himself. Which means he needs to think fast. And act faster. While he start moving to the side, it's not fast enough to evade the jump jets. Oh, sure, it's enough to avoid getting his face blistered, it's enough to briefly light his poncho aflame, though as soon as the searing heat is no longer on him, it smokes instead.
Still, Fortissimo's lips are starting to curl in a feral grin. He doesn't look like he's going to be disappointed, but he still flicks his arms to the side, a -clack- heard in stereo as beam sabers slide out of wrist holsters and into his hands. In an oddly detatched voice, he comments, "I want to know what the last thing is you remember. King? Rockman Shadow? Serenade? Fox?" To anyone else, it might sound odd, but Fortissimo marks time by his conflicts, and he would actally be rather surprised if Bass didn't do the same.
As Fortissimo is bathed in the fire of his dash jets, Bass watches it all with a calculated air of enjoyment. Digesting it all with that same, sick sense of enjoyment. His free hand slowly lifts to his mouth, wiping the droplets of spittle from his mouth. At the words that come next, he seeing his mirror get to his feet, Bass only turns his head, spitting upon the ground as twin beam sabers come into those hands... hands that were so much like his own. Shaking his head, Bass slowly stands, his eye drifting closed, staying that way for a long moment before they open, the white-hot fire within cooling, leaving those ruby optics to open again, rolling down to fall onto his taller image. The beam sabers are given another look and Bass' mouth cocks up on one side. It was sudden, and extreme, the smirk almost an impossible pull of the face, showing the true maddness, the true conflicted spirit within this warrior of metal. Then his mouth cracks open, spitting out a laugh at his copy.
His left hand lifts, shoving that childish, pointing finger at him, "HAHAHA! ... FIGURES... Blond hair and beam sabers. I KNEW YOU WERE JUST AS MUCH A BITCH AS THAT FUCKUP..." Shoving his hand down at his side again, he marches towards Fortissimo, body anchoring with every step, shoulder pads shifting, with his confident movements, his body swaying with his stride. "And I'm gonna treat you like him too... You're not me. You couldn't possibly be me. You're a pathetic side-show version. A bitched-up, fin-less fuckin' FREAK with no god damn sense of who you really are..." As he closes the distance, Bass slowly leans forward, his strides getting wider... faster. With every step his feet pound the ground, leaning full forward into a rush then, exhibiting every ounce of the speed he was known for. As he leaps into the air, rushing Fortissimo, a loud whine begins to be heard from him, energy roaring to life around him as he whirls a pirouette in the sky above, painting purple ribbons of light behind him.
Coming down, his left leg ablaze, it rushes down towards him, fully seeking contact with those blades, energy to energy, looking to burn into them, to show him the true force of his robotic body. He was charging that buster, intent on blasting a hole into Fortissimo that he wouldn't soon forget!
Or was he?
Fighting as if he didn't trust even himself, the moment of impact, the moment that his leg should have been defended against with those blades, his dash jets fire, pushing him into a double-jump. Not upward, but instead cutting an energy crescent into the air beneath him, protecting himself on a cushion of raw power, and in the blinding flash of light the sound of Bass' feet dropping down against the ground is heard. -- But his feet don't fall on the basketball court. They slam down into the grass, a rapid fire blast of energy ripping forward from the Forte Buster, cutting softball sized energy balls through the air, aiming not at Fortissimo, but at his shoulder. He was aiming to disable his arm entirely.
"When I get done with you... I'm gonna CARVE THESE GASHES INTO YOUR FUCKIN' FACE SO YOU NEVER FORGET WHO YOU ARE!"
"THIS RAGE MADE YOU!"
With that same feral grin, Fortissimo replies, "Difference between him and me, I'll use everything at my disposal. These aren't the half of it." The sabers ignite, crimson blades held in an underhand grip, and though his stance shifts to be a bit wider he remains in the same spot, not bothering to try and finish extinguishing his cloak. "That long-haired hippie is why I didn't get a better chance to use this body in the first place, and that's a grudge I'm not gonna drop."
He stands there, unmoving, as Bass charges toward him. For a breath, he looks as if he's prepared to jump, but Bass beats him to it -- and as a result he changes his stance. It might be a feint, and it might not, but he can't quite take that risk. What he can do on the other hand is whip one of those beam sabers upward as Bass comes down at him, tumbling end over end. With some amount of luck he might at least wing him.
Still, once those jets fire again, the backwash pushes the saber out of the way and it'd be a small miracle to hope for any impact then. It deactivates and clatters uselessly onto the court. As he ducks and weaves to evade the incoming plasma fire, Fortissimo's empty left hand pulls a buster pistol from under the cloak, the cooling mechanism blurring as he fires five rounds rapid. It's little consolation to the two shots that impact his cloak, burning it away and uncovering black and gold armor beneath. If there are any other weapons under there, it doesn't look like they were damaged. Fortunately for him.
"The rage made me?! Don't make me laugh! -I- made me! The rage is just a tool!"
To his twin's credit, that launched blade does in fact steal purchase, glancing off of the side of his dash jet. Perhaps it has a large factor in why his rapid fire blasts didn't strike true. He was off balance when he landed. The look on his face betrayed nothing. Steel as the wall around whatever constituted as a heart in his tainted spirit. The outcome however would never be knowable. Not by him at least, because the moment Fortissimo launches his fire with the pistal, Bass was moving. Not around the blasts, not to evade them, but to soak them head on. Each blast slams into his armor, blasting away at the integrity of his armor, small chips it it falling away as the beast, the absolute monster rushes through every plume of plasma.
It rolls over his armor, the chest jewel refracting the light, casting prisms all about the grounds, his every movement casting off a gust of wind that shears the grass beneath him, cutting blades in two as they whip up around him in a gust. The debris whirling away into several small typhoons. With each impact his speed increases, the look on his face growing more severe. By the time those words were coming out of Fortissimo's mouth, Bass was in his face. Not with a buster, not with a knee, a foot or a fist. Not even with that undeniable cloud of suffocating power that now radiated from his core, no... But an open hand. Charging towards Fortissimo's face, his fingers clawed open, looking to grab him. Long fingers capable of nearly encompassing his entire mug as he pushed his weight forward.
He expected him to lash out with that beam saber, and he didn't care. "Gimmie that mug..." he hisses, so very close to him he could bite him. Extending his reach and also doubling his speed with just the extension of his arm, doubling his own forward motivation by adding the speed in which he could reach, he seeks to grab him, to press full forward in attempt to slam his bare head against the basketball court's concrete ground and drag him across it, to burry him in a trench with his own momentum.
"IT'S OVER. YOU NEVER STOOD A CHANCE!"
"You can't fight the power of my hate with reason. Son." And he meant that last word. Every letter.
The expression that passes over Fortissimo's face initially is grim satisfaction as the dash jet is clipped, though it simply isn't enough. He had expected more of a brawl than his double being determined to do something, and while the plasma still flies, the fact that Bass is actually willing to take the damage just in order to get close to him is... disheartening. Because he knows that means Bass has some sort of plan. Why else would he want to do such? Not a positive thing, in his eyes, and he curses under his breath for picking rapid fire over brute force.
It doesn't help matters any that by the time Bass is close enough for him to use the saber, , the pistol's as good as useless, and Fortissimo grimaces as he completely fails to get out of the way as he takes every bit of expected damage that someone could expect when their head is used to dig into the asphalt of a basketball court. It does not, however, stop him from swinging the crimson saber upward toward Bass' midsection in a stabbing motion. The pistol's been dropped to the side, forgotten, and Fortissimo takes a ragged breath before he speaks again.
"Lemme show you something real fast," he rasps, looking toward Bass between the fingers grabbing his head. And his own hand comes up, a ring around his thumb, as that insane grin paints itself across his face. In the heartbeat that follows, he remarks, "You got nothing."
He uses the force of Bass' hand on his face to keep his head back, but he arches the rest of his body toward his opponent.
And then the incendiary grenade goes off.
He could catalog it... could make an album of how many times. Selecting each picture carefully from his memory. Marking them with care, dating them with all of the studious attention a scholar would his studies. When he was done, he'd have a wonderful, canonized book of the many times that a beam saber had been crammed through his midsection. As his fingers jammed into the flesh of his copy, grabbing his face with stone crushing force, he cackled wildly, his eyes alive with the burning hatred that made him famous. The laughtered is only silenced by the sound of the beam saber cutting right into his bodysuit, ripping through his midsection and impaling him entirely. The end of the blade visible from behind him, Bass pushes himself into Fortissimo, limiting... all but stopping his ability to move the blade left or right. It was burried in him and it would stay there unless he disengaged the blade. Something that Bass... The Forte wouldn't allow.
His free hand moves down, snapping his fingers over Fortissimo's own on the saber. Grenade be damned, if he wanted to play those games, they'd both blow up. Wasn't like they hadn't walked through their fair share of explosions in the past. The only problem being, Bass wore a helmet. Fortissimo did not. That's what he was counting on... a desperate attack, an attempt to use sheer power to seperate them. And that's what would cost this clone of himself. Why? Because it's what HE would have done in that situation. Only he'd have had an escape plan beyond hit-and-run. That escape plan would have been to jump back, roll away... But what do you do when you're so close that it's impossible to stop someone from putting their hands on you? You suffer.
When he speaks of showing him something. Bass' eyes go white with power again, his red irises disappearing, pupils nowhere in sight as the hand on Fortissimo's face disappears into his buster arm. He didn't HAVE to charge it at point blank range. That barrel absolutely EXHALED the rapid fire blasts of the Forte Buster up close and personal. Though there was a method behind it. The blasts weren't charged, weren't even at an elevated power. He wanted to down this false image for good... put him out of the fight. Mechfluid bursts from his mouth as he exhales a hard cough, spewing it out into the air as that incendiary grenade goes off, though Bass has the where withall to lift his feet from the ground, firing his dash jets at his mirror. Using the explosion to propel himself backwards, his hand still seeking to clench tightly around that arm that held the saber.
When two opposing forces meet head on, two explosions, the expelling force would be double their impact velocity. The only thing tying them together in that explosion, as his left shoulder pad snapped clean off and blew aside, a chunk of one of his fins disengaging, his chest gem spiralling with webs of cracks... -- Was the arm he held...
The arm he intended to tear free.
Saber and all. "You've still got lessons to learn, ya FUCK-WIT!"
The force of the grenade's explosion cracks Fortissimo's armor, and the fact that his front is now enveloped in napalm doesn't seem to be bothering him particularly much. Or perhaps it's the fact that he has more important things to worry about. His fingers are kept from disengaging the beam, and while that grin remains, the fact that it seems he missed Bass' core isn't helping him one bit. Figures -- he'd been relying overmuch on luck for such an attempt, he knows, but it couldn't be helped. But the fire is the least of his worries
His face contorts in a pained scowl, though, as he realizes in the same moment that he's been shot repeatedly. Sure, it's just plasma and not any number of worse things it could be, but the fact that it's hit him doesn't help a damned thing. The skin of his face peels away in several places, scorching the metallic bone beneath on the left side of his face though doing no further damage.
More importantly, of course, is the fact that Bass had a firm grip on his right arm when the explosion went off. The grenade was designed for air burst and so didn't do a great deal of damage, but he'd been hoping it would at least penetrate Bass' armor and give him food for thought. Unfortunately, it's largely hit him. The force of the dash jets is far greater, and it gives him a hell of a yank. His joints are nowhere near as weak as a human's, and as such he is pulled along with Bass, but the primary effect will be clear as soon as he lets go. If he lets go. That arm's as good as useless, both the shoulder and elbow dislocated.
Since Bass still has him at this point in time, however, he needs a weapon for his free hand, because the ring of a grenade is useless and the other grenade is simply a smoke grenade... doubtless it will be set off by the napalm, but that's a later concern. Right now, he needs a weapon, and he has all of two options. He chooses the one that will likely not leave him in the same exact situation -- his armor shifts from gold and black to silver and crimson and a half-corporeal, half-flame tomahawk solidifies in his hand.
"Ain't shit you can teach me," he grunts as he swings the weapon, aiming again for the torso. The more cracks he can put in that armor, the better.
Warnings flash in his vision. Yellow, verging on red- secondary systems shut down, one primary at the very least dead to him as his left dash jet is disengaged completely to support the rest of his systems. The sword eating away at important servos in his midsection. Mechfluid spills from his mouth in another cough as the two sail through the air, thrown backwards by the force of his last burst of dash jets and the explosion. He heard the clack and clank of metal and material tearing as the elbow and shoulder of his mirror were ripped and seperated within, leaving a useless limb hanging from him. Damage he could handle. Pain he could handle. The longevity of a fight with someone just as crafty as him was pushing his limits. He fought on pure instinct, while this one... his copy... what he fought on was at this point unclear to him.
As he sees the colors of his armor shift upon their landing, he on his back with a blade pinning him to the ground, trapped in place, he looks into the eyes of his taller twin. He knew it was coming. What? He wasn't sure. He didn't know what weapons he'd managed to absorb into that buster. Only two things became apparent to him, the first was the fact that at this proximity it would be a close range attack and probably something brutal. The second thing that occured to him was EXACTLY what he was going to instinctually do about it. -- The Tomahawk appears in his hand, and as he speaks, Bass' eyes go wide, "Nngh!" He grunts in disbelief, seeing him brandish it. -- But he wasn't at all surprised or frightened. It was an act to hide what his twin could no longer feel through that ripped arm. Him grabbing ripping his fingers from the hilt of that blade.
Roaring out in pain, absolute agony as he RIPS the sword from his stomach, from the ground beneath him, he pulls the pommel out wide to his left, bringing the blade up, leveling it on the striking line of that tomahawk, the two impacting one another with a loud burst of light, sizzling energy wafting between them.
"Find somebody else to play with, youngster. I'll keep you up past your BED-TIME!"
His last remaining dash jet fires, shoving him out from under Fortissimo, though not in a fully backwards fashion. He only had one, thus it spun him out from under him, launching him out to his flank, that beam saber whipping up as he uses his arm, vaulting himself up off of the ground into a barrel roll at his flank, the blade tearing through the air around him like a corkscrew, seeking to rip his flank to pieces, to finish tearing his arm loose, to tear into armor, flesh, whatever the blade could reach, his dashjet still bursting, making his spin a rapid, whipping motion, he finally anchoring himself on his feet, pushing backwards to launch himself away, right next to the saber he'd forced him to drop before.
With a hole right through him, leaking fluid rapidly, his systems seal off those lines, shutting down his internal cooling system, forcing him to pant harder to keep his temperature down. Color bleeds out of his vision for a moment as he recalibrates.
Fortissimo doesn't bother to glance at the arm that's lost all sensation. It's not entirely surprising to find that he no longer has control of the beam saber -- hell, on some level he knows that he'll be lucky if his fingers aren't broken -- but this does violate one of his own major tenets. Don't ever give the enemy something to work with. But it's a little late to worr about that right now. There are far more important things to handle. For instance, the fact that what's left of his face is being singed horribly by the flames still burning on his chest. It hurts like hell, and the fact that the skin beneath his shattered armor is probably going to be crisped isn't helping anything either. The weapon change only slows the damage he's taking. But the pain is a secondary issue.
The main issue is the fact that he's in this condition, worse than he ever had been when dealing with those jokers in Neo Arcadia, and his opponent is still fighting. A grim smile of satisfaction graces his cracked, blistered lips; he could expect no less. That smile painfully curls back into a grin when the beam saber stops the flame tomahawk, and as Bass spins away from beneath him, the pain of a beam saber reminds him that as a matter of fact he DOES have some sensation in that useless limb on his right side... as well as his ribs, the meat sliced away, beam saber leaving chrome exposed to the air.
Panting, he flings the tomahawk at his double in an underhand, only for another to materialize in his hand, lobbed overhand in a rapid and smooth motion. Sure, half his face is gone and the other half's charred, but that feral grin's still there. The flames on his armor are still going, and he knows how useless it is to try and put them out. And when he speaks, his voice carries a distortion to it, clearly damaged; he doesn't even want to assess his injuries, but they're bordering on grave. Only the joy of battle is helping him push through the pain. That... and one other thing.
"You screwed up! Ain't enough left for scars now! So why'd you snap, don't think you're the strongest? Why do you think I joined the Hunters back then? Only decent competition I found was on the other side!"
The two tomahawks coming towards him he can do nothing about as they're launched while he's still in the air, one dash jet thrashed, the other barely hanging on to usefulness. The underhanded toss he lets in, twisting himself to the side to absorb it under his arm in his armor, a large chunk of it snapping away as the edge of the blade cuts into his synth flesh. The other however, the stronger of the two, he whips the blade around, snapping it from the air, he landing not on his feet but on his side. Rolling away as the tomahawk falls from him that was embedded in his side. Slamming his palm against the ground, he throws himself right back up onto his feet, his free hand grabbing up the other beam saber, whipping it to life. Both blades cross in front of him, crackling against one another.
Glaring through their red blaze at Fortissimo. "Oh... oh..." he says, the words coming out almost as if consoling words from a father. His head tilts in a different direction with each, eyes half lidding like a coquette on a Prostitution Holiday. Seduced by blood... bathed in rage and fire. His tongue slips from his mouth, wetting his lips ever so slowly, enjoying the taste of plasma bi-product dusting his skin. Burnt ozone... "Oh, don't you worry about those scars... I'll have all the time in the world to destroy that face... To make you ME..."
"You can't hope to win this battle. You're trashed. I have your weapons. One of your arms is useless. Your beyond saving..." The comment about him worry about who was the strongest? "You're a comedian too, hm? I didn't know I was capable of it." Spitting upon the ground, he tilts his head again, lifting an eyebrow high, a wide band of mechfluid... of blood staining one eye as it runs down his face. "Its impossible for you to be stronger than me. They turned you into something frail... something WEAK. You don't possess what's at my core. What the old man BUILT in me. The only way to survive the dark power inside of me is to be ... ENTIRELY machine."
"Don't you ever test my metal, you fucking MEATSACK... You're a toy soldier. A disposable doll." Marching slowly towards him, those beam sabers at his sides, swinging with his gait, their tips cutting small trenches into the ground as he moves towards Fortissimo. His mouth flies wide, roaring at him as he rushes, leaning full forward, charging at him, his legs beyond feeling, servos cranking beyond reason, pounding his feet into the ground. As he rushes in, those blades come up, his body whirling around one foot, leading with one blade, rushing in to rip the blade across his midsection, looking to claim not flesh but armor, to flay the very shielding from his body.
He leaps then, side-long, rolling over in the air, both blades coming down in a dual slash, blades crossing from outside to in, attempting to box him in as he comes down, each reaching for a shoulder, more than happy to sever the arms from his body.
"Sit. DOWN, PUP!"
Bits of charred flesh crisp and fall from the lower half of Fortissimo's face, his expression now twisted in a rictus of pearly-white teeth and chrome skull. Most of his poncho has disappeared in bits of burnt fabric and the smoke grenade is hissing and trailing inky black from an edge, but hasn't ruptured. Perhaps fortunately, the flames are beginning to subside. A bit of crimson leaks from his mouth, now that there aren't lips to keep it from escaping.
He seemingly cheerfully takes in Bass' words, though he gives his head a small shake and a harsh laugh as Bass speaks, but no words come from him. Not yet. He can't really argue with much of it, after all. His body has been battered, his right arm rendered useless. His face is unrecognizable. One of his lungs was sliced into by the beam saber, and he's pretty certain he can hear himself wheeze when he takes a deep breath. His armor's already broken, and while it lacks the jewels that Bass' armor has, if they were there they'd have fallen out from the damage; his right shoulder pauldron has broken off. And yet those eyes burn with fierceness. Whatever else he may or may not be... surrender is still a word that no one has taught him.
He watches patiently as Bass charges toward him. Again, he's not moving, waiting for the blow to come. Bass seems to have an edge in speed. He certainly has an edge when it comes to raw mass. When it comes to using outright rage, it seems that Bass has the edge there as well.
As he watches Bass swing the saber, still doing nothing, his armor takes the hit, the material shuddering as it sunders from his body and exposes the blackened flesh of his chest and what's left of the shirt that had been beneath. But once Bass is airborne... looping around, those sabers flying... what's left of Fortissimo's armor shifts color again, to white and pale blue.
Everything seems to slow down...
And then stop.
And then everything begins running backward.
Still watching with an unreadable expression, thanks to it being mostly burnt off, Fortissimo keeps his eyes as they were before while everything rewinds at half-speed, cause and effect reversed in the small area around the basketball court. His sundered armor returns to his body in time for Bass' saber swing to put it back as it was. Running backward as the sabers seemingly repair the holes behind them. Even Bass' speech rendered in reverse.
And then with an audible SNAP, time returns to its normal flow.
"You still got nothing, least of all something that can bend time over and make it cry for more like that," Fortissimo states cheerfully, head cocked to one side, that irritating grin still permanently on his features for now. "But hell, we're having so much fun, I don't see why we ought to stop. Tell you what, let's make things interesting. You know, there's a funny thing about dark energy. You remember that much, right? Purple and black stuff? Evil version likes to take over brains except you don't have any? Turns out I can still use it. Even if I'm not using my -good- gun, I'm never unarmed."
There was an instant... a pause, something... The words hadn't even come out of his mouth!? No...? Yet Fortissimo was speaking as if he'd spoken. As if something had transpired here. In a moment of lock, of paradox, he couldn't quantify it. Couldn't justify it. Had he blacked out? Lapsed...? It wouldn't be the first time he'd lost all grasp of reality, even if for the briefest moment. No. No, he was still here- in one form or another. Something happened. Bass' lips twist into a furious growl. It was that sensation. Something wasn't right about it, and it wasn't until he realized just what the sensation was that he pinpointed what his mirror had done.
"Deja vu." He hisses quietly. He had the urge to say something that he was SURE he'd already said. Or was he? No, he was positive. "Machines don't get deja vu." The beam sabers disipate, Bass slamming the two grips into one hand, holding them aloft as he stares down Fortissimo. "You're a cheap... piece ... of shit." As it stood, Bass hadn't taken out another weapon, hadn't used a single thing his buster had copied- if it had copied anything, he couldn't be sure. He hadn't used anything beyond his own wits and his own grit. This 'Fortissimo'... "Clawing so hard to keep your identity. An identity that you don't even have. FINE." Bass snarls, glaring up at the sky. A spark of light in the distance fires away. The twinkling lights close quickly on them as Bass lifts the hand holding those two sabers.
Lifting his right boot, when it comes down, the bursting sweep of purple energy that rips down from the sky solidfies-- or rather goes still enough to be apparent as Bass steps up onto the back of Gospel. The snarling visage of the dog looks at the copy, with disgust? Or rememberance? One couldn't be sure. "Trickery is its own reward..." Bass says.
That's the only thing Bass leaves him with as the dog slowly begins to lift in the air in jet board mode, Bass glaring down at Fortissimo as he rises like some Egyptian God rising into the heavens, his fins- most of them still intact save for a few chunks broken away, glimmer like golden lights framing his face. "Anything you can do... I can OBVIOUSLY do better."
"I hope you're prepared for what you've brought on yourself..."
And left uninterrupted, they would rise until they became a black dot in the sky and disappeared.
Slowly, Fortissimo shakes his head. As he walks over and picks up the discarded and damaged buster pistol, he mutters in his now-atonal voice, "God, I can't believe I was ever that thick-skulled. Trickery is its own reward... honestly. Old age and treachery will overcome youth and skill every time."
Without further comment toward his rapidly disappearing opponent, Fortissimo activates a teleport beacon and disappears in a column of light.