Does whatever a spider can! Let's discuss Spider-Man: Homecoming!


January 2, 2013

Spirit Showdown #9: The Lovers

>breaching boundary

>accessing terminal

>uploading post number 256

>initiating summoning procedure

>summoning complete

>initiating spirit protocol


video






What the hell?  Where the hell am I?

All right, Tony.  Keep your cool.  Just…just try and remember what happened last night, and sort this mess out.  Let me think.  I was…I was at the bar.  Yeah.  And I got pretty plastered.  Yeah, yeah.  I could barely even walk.  And I think there was something about a cassowary…and the next thing I know, I’m here in…here.

…I’ve seriously gotta quit drinking.  Except that’d mean that I wouldn’t be able to get drunk.  And I really need to be drunk at all times.

Urgh, here we go.  More garbage to put up with.  Why can’t I just have a nice, long vacation in peace?  I just wanna go fishing, and now I’m in some dumbass alternate dimension.  Why does it always come to this?


I was hoping for an answer, but I guess complete silence is all right, too.  Thanks a lot, God.  If you ever wanted to know why I never pray to you, there’s your answer.

Oh well.  Just looking at this place may put me in a bad mood, but at least there’s one good thing about it: it’s quiet.  It’s been so long since I could hear myself think.  It’s actually pretty nice.


…Why does it suddenly feel like I’m strapped to a wall of beef jerky?

Who the hell are you calling a wall of beef jerky?  This is a hug!  A hug of LOVE!


Oh, that explains it.  It’s you again.  It’s always you.

Don’t say it like it’s a bad thing!  Here I am, trying to shower you with love and affection, and you go and treat me like some kinda annoying neighbor!  You have any idea how much that hurts, Tony?  Words cut deep.  They cut me real deep.

Huh.  Sorry.

Really?  You mean it?

Yeah.  I didn’t know you had feelings.  Or you even listen to me.  Or you could even understand words.

Stay right there, you mousy little ass-face!  I’m about to shove my bat right down your throat!  I’ll show you feelings -- when I feel your blood spew all over my body!

You know that’s the wrong type of feelings, riHRHGAHHGABHBA!

EAT THOSE NAILS, YOU ZOMBIE-LOOKING SON OF A -- hey, what’s that?  Oooh, did someone leave me an early Valentine’s gift?  Maybe with some chocolate?

Hrrk -- haagh -- how did we get from blood to chocolate?

Probably ‘cause of this.


Gibberish?

Not gibberish.  It’s made out to us.

How do you figure that? 

You should know that I am a master of unraveling riddles.  This one’ll be all wrapped up before you can even say “Texas Hold ‘Em.”

Oh, great.  Gambling.  Just what I always wanted; it’s bad enough that we’re trapped in some nether realm against our will with no hope of escape.  Now I have to deal with the pretty-friggin’-good chance that I’m gonna get all my money sucked out of my pockets and --

‘Kay.  Figured it out.

What?

Yeah.  It was easy.  Here, I’ll show you.

“Truth be snared in the celadon frame” means “There’s a guy in green that knows all the answers.”  “Tell no lies as resolving tribute” means “We’ll make things better by talking.”

About what?

That’s the next part.  “Bare and bear witness as the rainbow’s kin” means “We have to talk about ourselves and see what happens next -- which is what we’re supposed to do as members of a certain group.”

And what group is that?

I dunno.  Let’s save that for later.  I know what the next part means, though: “feel naught but essence; casting begins” means “Talk about the spirit, and you can go fishing.”

Now that is a pretty big leap in logi…wait, did you say “fishing”?


Uh-huh.  If we do this, we -- and by we I mean you -- get to go on vacation.  We can go wherever we want…but knowing you, your first stop is the old fishing hole, isn’t it?

You mean it?  You mean I actually get to go on vacation?  And go fishing?  With nobody and nothing getting in my way? 

Probably.

…Huh.  I didn’t think it was possible, but now I’m motivated.  What’s the next part mean?

“Now the chaos is in your hands” means…well, either “It’s up to you” or “You’re about to fight a nasty-ass creature manipulating the boundary between worlds, so you’d better sack up.”  Maybe both.  I’m kinda rusty on my translating.

You mean we actually have to do stuff?  No…no, no, no.  I quit.  I give up.

We have to do it, Tony.  The letter says so.

Noooooooooooo!  I don’t even wanna be here!

Well, tough shit.  It’s up to us -- just look at this last part: it’s addressed to “WW”.

That could be anyone.  Like Wilbur Wright. 


Well it isn’t.  “WW” is short for Ward and Wildly.  Or better yet, short for Tony A. Ward and Beat U. Wildly.  By the way, what does the A stand for?

I’m not telling you.

The hell you aren’t!  I’m your wife -- you’re supposed to tell me these things!  How am I supposed to love you unconditionally if I don’t even know your middle name?!

I don’t know your middle name, and I’m all right with it.  I’m planning to file for divorce as soon as I get outta here, but that’s neither here nor there.

I’m just gonna pretend I didn’t hear that…but if it bothers you so much, my middle name is Ulysses.  And my full name is Beatrice.

Beatrice Ulysses Wildly?  Jesus, I’m sorry I asked.

So what does the A stand for?

Not telling you.  You can try to drag it out of me, but I’m not budging an inch on this.  Come to think of it, I’m not about to budge an inch on anything.  I’m just gonna lay here and waste away, since there’s clearly no way out.  Goodbye, cruel world!  It wasn’t fun -- you were a pain in the ass until the very end, and you couldn’t even let me have one measly fishing trip!  So fuck off, reality.  Go suck causality or something.


Stop being a sadsack and get up!  You know, if we do what the letter says, I bet we’ll get outta here, and you can get back to your vacation -- and your fishing trip!  Isn’t that what’s really important?

Oh, right, of course.  We get to go home.  Because there’s nothing there that’s trying to murder us.  Fantastic.  I bet as soon as we get dropped off, we take a few dozen bullets to the head.  That’s a fantastic way to spend an afternoon, you know.

You really think that this guy would bring us here just to put us back in the line of fire?  What if this is like…I dunno, one of those author’s saving throw thingamajigs? 

If that’s the case, then where is this kind and noble author?

I dunno.  I’m guessing he’s dead.

So an author who couldn’t save himself is trying to save someone else?  Yeah, sure -- I can buy that.  And while we’re at it, why don’t we trap ourselves in a burning house and let him try storming in to rescue us?  Seriously, FML.

So you’re just gonna lay there and die?  Not even gonna try?

I would, but that would require effort.  And, you know, hope.  So yes, I’m just gonna lay here and die.


But if you die, I die too!  Are you seriously gonna be able to live with yourself if that happens?

…Meh.

Why am I married to such an ass wipe?  Fine -- just lay there and rot for all I care.  As for me, I’m gettin’ outta here one way or another!  Even if I have to smash my way out!  ESPECIALLY if I have to smash my way out!  ‘Cause that sounds like a hell of a lot more fun!

All right, you space-time nasties!  Bring it the hell on -- I’ll take ya out in no time flat!  So show your ugly faces so I can bash ‘em and make ‘em even uglier!

Amanda.

I got muscles to spare for every one of -- huh?

My middle name.  It’s Amanda.  Tony Amanda Ward.

Tony --

I’m almost positive that this isn’t gonna work.  Like, at all.  But I guess if you’re gonna try, I might as well, too.  A loudmouth like you isn’t about t let me sleep off this crappy life anytime soon.

Well, if that’s the case, then we’re definitely gettin’ outta here.  “Almost positive” my ass -- you’re the most negative guy I’ve ever met!  Which means that if you’re positive, then you’re automatically wrong!

How does that…oh, right, I forgot.  You’re an idiot and a girl.  I shouldn’t bother hoping for you to make sense.

I’m not a girl, I’m a woman.  And a grown-ass woman, at that!  That’s more than I can say about you, rat-boy!

Better a rat than a gorilla.

Oh, bullshit it is -- gorillas get to learn sign language.

And rats get to eat cheese.  Point’s in my favor, Beat.

Now who’s bein’ stupid?

You really don’t want me to answer that.  So let’s get this thing going already…the sooner we fail, the sooner I get to embrace the sweet, coaxing darkness of death.

Whatever.  Screw it.  What do we do first?  Like, is there anything else on that note for you to translate?  Or at least make into not-gibberish?

I don’t see anything else.  Except…hold on, there’s something here in the corner.  Looks like some kinda smudge or something. 


A smudge?  You can’t read that, can you?

Uh-uh.  But don’t worry.  I’ve got a backup plan…I’ll just smash it with my nail bat until it gives us all the answers we need!  You’re gonna bleed real good, you stinkin’ sheet of paper!

Beat, wait!  I might have this one under control.  Let me just check my bag for a second.  I know I’ve got it in here somewhere.

What?  A magnifying glass?

Even better. 

Ah, there we go.  Just what I needed.

Tony!

All right, all right.  Here.  This’ll do the trick.


What the hell is THAT?

This is Toto.  He’s an Ump.

You mean an imp?

No, an Ump.  There’s a difference. 

That’s the ugliest damn thing I’ve ever seen in my life!  And what are you doing carrying it around in a tote bag?  Aren’t you afraid that it’s festering with diseases?

Hey, I travel around with you, don’t I?

…Walked right into that one.

All right, Toto.  Zoom in and enhance that smudge.  I’ve got a hunch there’s something just barely useful on there.

So your…thing…it’s like a camera or something? 

It can do more than that.  I’ll show you one of these days -- that is, if we ever get out of here.  But we’ll worry about that when we’re not in danger of getting backstabbed by some kind of virus.  Because I’m pretty sure this place is crawling with them.  Because my luck is terrible and everyone hates me.  God, why do I even wake up in the --

Focus, Tony, FOCUS!

Right.  I can mope later.  Toto, let’s see what you’ve got.  Project it for us.


A projection?  All right.  So what are we looking at here?

Uhhhh…looks like something out of a manual.  Or a pamphlet for a DVD. 

To the customer:
               
Thank you for your purchase of this product.  It is with great pride and pleasure that I present this to you, and sincerely hope that you enjoy it.  Many hours of work have gone into it, but not one of them felt like a waste of time -- because your satisfaction is, and always shall be, a top priority.

I hope you enjoy, and hold this experience dear for years to come.

--Voltech

Did we -- did we just buy a car?

Unless it’s invisible, then no.  Toto, anything else on there?

Tony and Beat (Proto-Version Dossier)
A pair of characters designed from the get-go to be completely off-the-wall, even by my standards.  There have been a lot of tweaks since the original concept, notably because back then I was in my “Anime is Flawless!” phase.  In a nutshell, Tony was the short, luckless loser and Beat was his (eventual) magical girlfriend.  And Tony would eventually be surrounded by beautiful women living with him, because I didn’t know any better.

Now why the hell isn’t that my reality instead of this one?  Oh, who am I kidding?  Surrounded by beautiful women?  That’s just a headache waiting to happen.  A total curse.  What am I gonna do with a handful of high-maintenance freeloaders who’re constantly trying to get me in bed with them?

Am I doomed to be the put-upon punching bag in every reality?


You are with that attitude.  Oooh, let’s see what it says about me!

As for Beat…well, I wonder how she would have turned out.  She was the queen of an entire planet of alien women -- mechanical women, for that matter, with superpowers unique to each and every one of them.  But in spite of being one of the most powerful of all (giving her the right to BE the queen, of course), she wanted more power.  So she had her top scientists create a “pill” that would bolster her powers to phenomenal levels, and give her the strength needed to rule the universe -- not just one planet.  Inevitably, word of the pill ended up getting out, and all the women ended up starting a planet-wide civil war over control of it.  Incidentally, the pill ended up slipping into a wormhole, and supposedly lost in the fabric of the universe.  And Beat, as the disgraced queen that started it all, was imprisoned and shuttled off into the far reaches of space. 

But as these things tend to go, Beat ended up lodged in a junkyard on Earth.  And the pill?  It ended up fusing with a boy -- none other than Tony.  Inevitably, Tony ends up freeing her, and the two form an uneasy alliance: Beat will protect Tony from the other robo-women after him, and in exchange Tony will let himself get taken (i.e. eaten) by her when the time comes.  And so began their whirlwind tale of rock star roosters, mind-altering scarves, cheerleader hive minds, giant toilets, and good-old harem antics.

Also, Beat starts out as a selfish narcissist who -- inevitably -- falls deeply in love with Tony.  Because…well, because.

Holy shit.

I know.  I’ve heard some messed-up stuff before, but --

I was a queen?  I got downgraded!  Now I’m only a princess!  This is a rip-off!  Where is that guy?  I’m about to introduce him to my Lil’ Unicorn!  And by Lil’ Unicorn I mean my nail bat!  And by my nail bat I mean MURDER!

Nice to know that’s your takeaway from finding out we’re fictional characters.  Where’s my beer?  Empty?  Please tell me I packed in another one…

There was an inherent problem with the proto-version of the story: inequality.  Beat had plenty of fantastic powers (and got stronger as the story progressed), but that put her in a completely different league than Tony.  And the fact that Tony -- as these things tend to go -- was the only one that could give Beat what she really needed by virtue of making her fall in love with him for whatever reason is the kind of thing that, in retrospect, leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.  It was less of a partnership or relationship and more of the kind of thing the “magical girlfriend” trope embodies: wish fulfillment. 

There had to be a change.  They had to suffer together.  Get stronger together.  Become one in a way the proto-version could never allow.  And to do that, the story had to go right back to step one.

It needed a brand new spirit.  And that spirit is…

TRUST!

Unbeatable, unbreakable, unshakeable!  Like an iron wall that towers over all, an unflinching bond that repels all invaders, and crushes all takers!  No force on earth can crack its shining surface!

There’s not enough beer in the world for this.

You can worry about nuking your colon later.  What’s the next part say?

…You’re not gonna believe this, but it looks like even more gibberish.  I’m positi…I’m a hundred percent sure that it’s useless.  We’re just gonna have to wing it.

Wing it, huh?  Well, the letter said we should “bare and bear,” so I say we get to it.  We’re gonna have to talk about ourselves.  Try not to blab any big secrets, all right?  The last thing we wanna hear is the sexual fantasies of a midget.

Yeah, yeah.  So --

Wait, wait, wait!  Tell me what your sexual fantasies are!  You’re married now, so the only one you’re allowed to fantasize about is me!  Me!  And I’m gladly giving you a lot to get excited about, on account of my fantastic ass! 

I don’t have any sexual fantasies, because I know they’re not gonna come true.  Ever.  And I’m not about to start thinking of you as -- oh my GOD!  What’s wrong with your ass?


Heh heh, yeah, I know it. It’s awesome.

You call that awesome? Jesus Christ, Beat!  It looks like you’ve got some kind of severe glandular problems!  How do you even stand up?  And did your thyroid explode or something? 

What?  No, it’s --

Oh…oh, oh, oh, shit.  That’s just terrible!  And I’m fucking married to that shit?  I’m gonna be sick -- HGHRRGHGFRRRRG!

Tony?  Tony?  Would it help if I told you I was a D-cup?

MRRRRRAHGAHGRABAGHHHHHH!

I’ll take that as a yes.

Oh well.  I guess it’s up to me to start gabbing, then.  So let’s see…where do I begin?  Oh yeah -- I’m a princess!  Pretty cool, huh?  Bet you’re green with envy out there, whoever you are!

Well, it’s true. I’m the fourth-oldest in the Sansarian Royal Family, which makes me a candidate for the throne and command of the monarchy!  Well, just as soon as my three older sisters bite the dust, but I’m gettin’ pretty damn close to that going down!  You may not have guessed it, but I’m a hard-working, dedicated, super-gutsy warrior-to-be who trains every day and every night for the chance to become the queen…and then, I’ll FINALLY make my dream of becoming the ruler of the world a reality!  And then the real fun -- by which I mean my blood-stained reign of terror -- can begin!  Heheheheheh…hahahahahahaha…AHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Yes…YES!  Rainbows and unicorns, and DEATH to ALL who oppose me!  It’s PERFECT!  It’s BEAUTIFUL!  It’s…all part of the plan, and it would’ve come true if it ended up panning out.


Oh, I didn’t see that one coming.

Don’t you have more puking to do?

Yeah, but I couldn’t let that one slip by.  GRFMBRRRRRRHGGGGH!

Anyway, the Royal Family doesn’t take too kindly to would-be killers, so they smacked me up and locked me away in a tower in the deepest, darkest, smelliest corner of the kingdom.  And I stayed there for five whole years…but I didn’t just rest on my laurels, you know.  I kept up my training, getting faster.  Stronger.  More better.  And my hard work paid off; I turned myself from a wannabe hell raiser into the body of perfection you see before you.  And with no compromises to my sanity whatsoSLAUGHTER THE INNOCENTever.

Thing is, there was a little bit of a snag.  Apparently, dear old mom and dad, and all my sisters, decided to do away with me.  So just when I was getting ready to break free --

I guess that’s where I come in, huh?  Well, I guess I’d better; there’re a lot of gaps that I need to fill in.

So you’re done puking, darling?

I might have a little left, especially now that you’ve called me “darling”.  Hrk.  But I think I can hold it in…at least for a little while. 

All right, I’m tagging you in!  KILL ‘EM ALL!

Please…please, stop being so…energetic.  It’s gross.

Ugh.  Let’s see here, where to begin…all right, you know the saying “an idle mind is the devil’s workshop”?

Hell yeah.  Me and Old Scratch, we go way back.


And that’s not odd to you at all?  You know, the whole “murderous princess” shtick, the “I know the devil” thing?  None of that raises any red flags?

Really don’t know where you’re going with this.

Look, what’s important is that in our world, people took that phrase to heart.  They kept their minds active, and working, and all that jazz.  They had imaginations, and they turned them from kid’s stuff into engines of art.  Pretty much every creative outlet overflowed with top-notch content for centuries.  The A+ stuff became the standard, not the exception.

But people should’ve been lazy and dumb.  Because eventually, all that thinking and all that imagination got out of control.  It ran rampant.  Nobody could turn it off.  And it wasn’t long before the stuff in their heads became the stuff in real life.  It went on the attack...and nobody could stop it.

Well, that’s the problem with history: I wasn’t in it.

I doubt you would’ve been able to do anything either.  People were at the mercy of rampant imaginations for years.  Until one day…they just kinda decided to roll with it.

They couldn’t stop the random-ass things that appeared thanks to people’s imaginations, so they just decided as a species to let it ride.  If some melting clocks wanted to warp some buildings, it was all right.  If solar-powered hippos raced through the streets, it was all right.  If geysers bursting with molten licorice turned cities suddenly made of clown faces into fields of powdered iridium, they just took it as it came and went on their way.  Everyone just learned to shrug it off, live with it, and hope they’d survive to see tomorrow.  And hey, maybe one day, it’d all stop.

It didn’t.


And that pretty much brings us to the present day.  Random shit like that happens by the minute, like we’re stuck in a never-ending Looney Tunes short.  It’s such a big and natural part of our society that post people are willing to ignore it, as long as it doesn’t try to kill them.  After all, it’s a problem that’ll never go away, as long as there are thinking human beings walking around. 

So what?  That just makes life more exciting!

No, that just makes life more dangerous.  We’re always on the brink of extinction, and it’s all because some people are way too crazy about hopes and dreams and imagination and all that.  Just by being alive, they’re threatening reality itself.  And that’s exactly why my organization exists.

I’m a member of the Sunny Days Assassination Agency.  It’s our job to kill anyone who’s overloading the world with imagination and over-thought.  And that’s exactly why I got contracted to kill you.

Oooooooh, an origin story!  I always loved those!  Hey, this is the part where you tell everyone how I kicked your fuckin’ ass, right?  And then you broke down into tears and begged for forgiveness?

It was supposed to be an easy job.  Get in, get your head, get out --

Hey!  Don’t skip the important details!

And then I’d be on my way to the vacation I deserved.  Dearly.  But then you had to make things all difficult.  And then we got caught by your country’s royal guards.  And then they thought we were doing the horizontal tango, and thanks to some loopholes --

Oh yeah, we ended up getting forced into a marriage.  Or we’d die.  So we got married.  And then they threatened to kill us.  Oh man, what a honeymoon we had -- I must’ve busted open, like, fifty -- no, eighty skulls!

Yeah, and you left a trail for them to follow.  So now we’ve gotta find a way to get our asses out of Sansaria, and then figure out just who’s behind this mess.

“Who’s behind this mess”?  It’s my family, duh.


Not everyone’s as murder-happy as you, Beat.  Your family’s getting conned; they’re out for more than just our heads, and it’s all because someone’s tugging their strings.  If I’m gonna get my vacation, you can bet your horrifically grotesque ass that I’m gonna figure out who it is.


…On second thought, never mind.  It’s WAY too much work.  Why me?  Why do I always have to throw myself in the line of fire for people I can’t even give an eighth of a shit about?  Damn it…have I ever told you how much I hate my life?

Only about twenty times.  Today.

Good.  Just thought I’d make that clear. 

But you’re pretty good at this whole assassin business, right?  Otherwise they wouldn’t have sent a little runt like you after a fem-Hercules like me. 

First off, I’m pretty sure we ended in a stalemate.  And second of all…well, I’m pretty sure that’s what this gibberish here is for.

Really?  Well then, let’s give it a look.

#09: Tony and Beat (Bedlam Duet)
Unlike the other characters, Tony and Beat are unique amongst the cast in that they’re two characters united as one.  And instead of being a Power, Speed, or Tech-type, they’re one of a handful of Varia-type characters -- those with unique abilities that set them apart from all the rest.

Whoa-ho!  It’s like we found the player’s guide or something!

Let’s just keep reading.

Victory for Tony and Beat comes down to using each killer’s abilities at the right time.  Beat, for example, is a standard heavy-hitter.  Her array of melee weapons -- nail bat, chainsaw, sledgehammer and more -- give her some extended range and pokes, and coupled with her strength, durability, and handful of grappling attacks, she’s a brawler that can do some serious damage.


Yeah, baby!  You see that shit?  I’m the best there is at bustin’ heads!  This princess can’t be stopped!

However, Beat can be easily stopped by taking advantage of her weaknesses.  She’s slow and unwieldy, and despite the good range on some of her attacks she’s easily beaten out by enemies that excel at zoning.  Her attacks are also extremely unsafe, so one wrong move is all it takes for her to be punished severely.

I’m just gonna pretend that wasn’t written there…

Luckily, she can tag with Tony at almost any time to cover for her weaknesses.  Because of his small size, Tony’s melee attacks have virtually no range, and even his strongest moves do piddling damage.  However, he’s extremely quick on his feet, and his attacks are fast enough to interrupt dozens of others with ease -- even if he has to get right next to an enemy to use them.

Good thing that’s never gonna happen.

Tony is best suited for hit-and-run tactics due to his evasive moves, and his family heirloom, the Thousand-Year Tote Bag, offers even more options.  It can carry an almost-incalculable number of items, large or small, and Tony can cover the field with traps and projectiles; while the item that appears is semi-random, they can hit enemies with status effects, or just leave them confused and hesitant to attack.   If all else fails, his harder-than-diamond head can temporarily stun opponents.


So you’re an assassin that throws everything but the kitchen sink at his targets?  WOW!  You’re LAME!

Hey, gimme a little credit.  I’ll throw a kitchen sink at them if I have to.

The key to maximizing damage with Tony and Beat is to Tag Cancel between the two of them when the time is right; start a combo with Tony’s projectiles or keep an opponent locked down, then switch to Beat to get some heavy damage in.  Or if Tony’s getting pressured up close, switch to Beat and scare them off with a grab or reversal.  Compensate for each others’ weaknesses, extend combos with wild attacks, confuse the enemy, and hit them with devastating Super Combos to leave everyone as bruised as they are bewildered.

Uh…what’s a Super Combo?

Isn’t it obvious?  It’s when you and me hit some poor sucker with an attack at the same time!  I’ve been cooking up this one move called the Deathbringer Spin-A-Roonie, where you and me grab hands and start spinning around like a propeller --

Yeah, that question I asked?  Forget I said anything.  I know I will after a couple more beers.

Oh, come on!  It’ll be so awesome!  Plus we’ll totalTERRORIZEly beat up a buncha dudes at once.  It’ll be sweeeeeeeeeeeeet.

Look, we don’t need any Super Combo things to pull off a win.  All I need to do is find out who’s behind all this and we’ll be square.  No more running for our lives.  No more dealing with random bullshit.  I’ll get my vacation, you’ll get your…whatever, and we’ll have everything back to its normal stupid-as-all-hell-but-vaguely-tolerable self by the end of the week.

You think so?

I hope so.  But then again, I don’t believe in hope, so…yeah, could go either way.


Uh…well, if what you said is on the mark, then that’d mean my family -- the king, the queen, and the other six princesses -- are all supporting this man in the shadows.  If he’s controlling them, then doesn’t that mean that saving our asses is gonna be tougher than just taking him out?

Pretty much, yeah.  You’re probably not the apple of your daddy’s eye anymore, so whatever happens, he’s not gonna hold you in high esteem.  Chances are this shadow man’s more likable than you ever were.  He’s giving your family something you never could.

Like what?

Beats me.  Money, resources, prestige, more power…you know, stuff a king or queen or princess might want.  Whatever it is, you can bet this guy’s in deep with your family.  They trust each other.

Trust, huh?  Just like the letter said. 

You know, if trust is so important to our world, then…you think maybe it’s the key to getting outta here?  Like, that’s what we have to bare.  Either that, or our deepest, darkest secrets.

So what, you want me to say “I trust you”?  What is this, Aladdin?


Yeah.  I know how hard it is for you to be positive, but --

This is the saddest thing I’ve ever had to admit, but…as a matter of fact, I do trust you.  I really do. 

Wha…Tony!

My life has been shitty since the day I was born.  I’m the bastard son of an even bigger bastard who steals my money, chases anything in a skirt, and hasn’t given me a hug since I let him borrow my bike.  My mom’s the head of Sunny Days and can’t be bothered to remember I even exist unless she’s got a job for me…even though she forced me into the assassin business and had me trained since I was five, even though my best qualities were “having a really hard head” and “common sense.”  My only friend is a pencil-pusher who got his face blown off in an explosion, so I spend every night drinking with a guy who looks like a skeleton wearing a neckerchief made of human skin.  I live in a half-crumpled caboose in a junkyard, and I constantly get calls from Sunny Days telling me that my quota’s been upped, and I need to kill even more people just to keep things normal…normal in this case being a world where doctors are made out of oatmeal.

I just want you to know, Beat -- when I say FML, I’m not just blowing smoke out my ass.  I mean it.  Also, for some weird reason I get really talkative and honest when I get some beer in me.  If this marriage is gonna work, then I figured you’d wanna know all that.

You mean it?  You wanna stay married to me?

Yeah.  No.  I dunno.  Hell, whatever.  Staying married to you wouldn’t be the worst decision I’ve ever made, so…we’ll sort this out.  You may be a pain in the ass, but you’re MY pain in the ass.

Well, if that’s the case, then I reject.


Oh, now what is this all about?

A whiny little sad sack like you has got a LOT of work to do if you’re going to be up to my standards.  “Oh boo hoo, my parents didn’t love me enough!  I have no friends, my job sucks, and I look like a decaying hobbit!”  Suck it up, stumpy!  You’re hangin’ with a REAL woman now!

Look, I can understand if you’re not happy with the way things are.  I mean, why do you think I want to take over Sansaria?  So I can just up the body count?  Nah, I’m out for something much bigger. 

Like what?

Doesn’t our world piss you off?

Would’ve figured that was obvious by now, but…yeah, it does.

Then let’s change it.  Let’s take over the world, and start our own new world order!  No more stupid idiots, no more troublemakers, no more punks looking down on us, the works!  It’s already you and me against the world; might as well take it a step further and try making it a much better place.  If not for everyone else, then just for you and me.  And if you take the crown, then you’ll get to have a vacation every day!

A vacation…every day?  Fishing as much as I want?

Hell yeah.  You’d be the king -- when you wanna fish, you fish! 

A vacation…every day? 

All day, EVERY DAY! 

…Huh.  I didn’t think it was possible.  It’s like the planets have all aligned, or something.  ‘Cause now I’m really motivated.

Let’s do it, Beat.  Let’s take over the world.

Oh, HELL yeah!  Now you’re a man!


And you’re a woman.  A terrible-looking, vaguely-masculine woman, but a woman all the same.  Sort of.  Barely.

Awwwwwwww, you’re such an adorable little asshole!  But then again, that’s why I love you so much, darling!  Almost as much as unicorns!

Aw, and I uhhhhhhhhhhhh you too.  So anyway, I guess we should try getting outta here, right?  And -- hey wait a second.  We did this whole trust spiel, so where’s the exit?  We should be free to go now, right?

Maybe we need to summon a rainbow or something?  I dunno.  Check the letter again, or whatever your freaky fish dude is projecting.

I told you, he’s an Ump.  And if it wasn’t for him, I’d have died in The Great Gherkin Offensive.  Toto, what’ve ya got?

What the…?  It looks like the text is changing.

Dear Tony and Beat:
Congratulations on making it this far. To celebrate, here are some pictures of fighting game characters you’re vaguely related to.



And here, have a theme song!


 It’s a shame that I couldn’t be there in person, but if you’re reading this, it means that I’m dead and presumably facing off with an otherworldly threat made manifest in the form of a video game villain and overflowing with chaotic energy.  So sorry about that!

In the meantime, I thank you dearly for managing a Spirit Showdown post in my absence.  Unfortunately, if you’re reading this, it means that you’re unable to escape on your own.  I’ve narrowed down the cause to three reasons --   

Oh, you’ve gotta be shitting me!  What was the point of that?

Never mind that!  Skip to the important part!  I don’t care about his little theories.

If my guess is correct, you’ve skipped over my theories and started wondering what the point of all this was.  The answer to that is…you’re the bait.

Did he seriously add in ellipses for a letter?

Congratulations on missing the point, Beat.  What are we supposed to be the bait for?

Me, I’m guessing.


Oh, wonderful.  Well, we’re dead.  Nice knowin’ ya, Beat; glad I got to know what it was like being married before I died.  Not as fun as people made it out to be, it turns out.

No one’s dyin’ on my watch -- except you, Mister Wall of Shifting Darkness.  Who are you?

I’m me.  And that’s all I’ll tell you…although to be honest, I’d prefer to be called a shifting wall of chaos instead of darkness.  But I guess semantics won’t matter where you’re going.

Screw your semantics.  Tell me what I’m after, and I’ll make your ass-whooping a little more pleasant. 

You mean he didn’t tell you?  I’m after the spirit you’ve so eagerly provided for me.  I’m going to take it, and if you know what’s good for you, you won’t try and stop me. 

I don’t know what this “spirit” thing is, but if it belongs to me and Tony, there’s no way I’m lettin’ you get your hands…your NOT-hands on it!  Hope you’ve got a cup on somewhere in there, buddy, ‘cause I’m about to ram this here nail bat right up your --

Oh, that’s cute.  You actually think you can beat me.

Oh crap!


You really should have seen that coming, Beat.

Shut up and help me!

What do you want me to do? 

You’re good at throwing stuff, aren’t you?  Then throw something!

Like what?  That thing has no body, and I can’t blow it up without blowing you up either.  And I’m pretty sure I can’t tug you out with a grappling hook or anything; you’re way too heavy!

You mean you’re actually concerned about my well-being?  This is like a dream come true!

Well, this was much easier than I thought it would be.  I’m actually a little curious, to be honest; what would happen if I not only absorbed the thought energy from this post, but the characters that embody and emanate it?  Will I take on their powers as well?  Or perhaps I’ll be one step closer to my ultimate goal?

Tony?  If you’re going to do something, I’d like you to do it sooner rather than later!

Wow.  Not even married for a month, and the nagging is in full force.

TONY!

All right, all right!  Jeez…just savoring my last moments of life in case this doesn’t work out.  All right, magic letter.  If you know a way out of this, now would be a good time to tell me!

Dear Tony and Beat:
If you’re reading this, it means that you’re in the midst of a life-or-death situation.  But worry not!  As a die-hard fan of the number four (and to a lesser extent, one who has a silent admiration of contingency plans), I have four points of information that may save you, me, and the entirety of existence!  Yay for us!

I hope you don’t mind if I say “yay”; I get kind of silly when I’m in a tight spot.


I’ve never even seen this guy, and I hate him already.

Okay, let’s get down to business.  There are four things you have to know.

1) If my theory’s correct, there’s a way for me to return -- and to do so with abilities that can stop our enemy once and for all.

2) If I’m unable to succeed in my plan, then we have no choice but to give our enemy exactly what he wants. 

3) UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES are you to say “File Zero, Open”.  Doing so will immediately summon HIM to the area, and at this stage he’s more of a threat than a safety measure.  DO NOT SUMMON HIM.

4) We have a hidden ally.  We’ve had one all along.

Cross-Up is alive.

…What’s a Cross-Up?

Tony?  Little help?!

Crap, there’s no time left!  Enough of this -- if we’ve got a secret weapon, then I’m gonna use it!

File Zero, ope-

Now hold on there, little hero.

It seems your reading comprehension skills need work, my dearest friend.  Didn’t he say NOT to summon him?  I think in this case, you’d do well to listen to him.  Needless to say, no one here is prepared to handle the consequences.

What the hell?  Is that some kind of dog-man?


Coyote-man.  But close enough.


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