Episode 02: At Night We Like to Fight
| 7:35 PM
|Judah Solomon’s Apartment
Judah had been compelled by only the faintest of divine interventions to study an old parchment scroll. A year ago he was handed a text dating from the Age of the Hebrews, but only now possessed the knowledge to translate it.
Judah was familiar of the infinite grains of sand that weathered away against time itself. Braving the landscape were the vagabond warriors who kept the faith in spite of Manasseh, champion of Baal. Despite the nightfall and his apartment’s air conditioning, Judah felt the sun beat down on his flesh, and the sand-filled winds chipping away at his hardened skin.
Judah tore his eyes from the scroll, putting on his lap, and realized that the wall he was facing had not only disappeared, but was replaced by the vast desert he had imagined. Judah got up from his chair and glanced behind his back, noticing that the reality of his apartment was still there. The desert he faced was also very real. Judah immediately culled from memory the name of the man who gave him the scroll in the first place:
Judah looked back at his apartment. He went into his closet and picked out a large white robe. He then went into the kitchen and armed himself with eight bottles of water. Then Judah closed the refrigerator door and ventured into the desert.
Judah was well aware of the risk he was about to take. He had read about this phenomena before. To confirm his suspicions, he pulled a time piece from his robe and noticed its second hand crawled between the milliseconds.
My Coffy, Judah thought to himself, I am beckoned. I may be gone for the real time equivalent of one hour, but I would have exerted one year in that one hour. Should I relinquish my ghost, it will be your covenant to uphold my will. If I should return… you had best be home before ten 'o clock.
| 7:40 PM
6. Daisuke Nagata ? The Ordinary People -Stage Boss- ~ Radirgy
Coffy leapt over the ropes and into the ring, thriving on the energy of the crowd.
?WHAT DOES EVERYBODY WANT?!? Coffy yelled out, expecting a response ? the only type of which was a confused murmur across the audience.
?WHAT DOES EVERYBODY NEED?!? Coffy yelled again, to the same lack of response. ?Uh, head,? she murmured to herself.
Coffy walked over to the center of the ring and faced her opponent: Pete from Pharmacy. He was a short, skinny young man, and appeared to be about 18 years old. Pete wasn’t particularly intimidating. Standing in-between them was a referee, who addressed both fighters: ?Present weapons.? Coffy showed the referee her dog leash while Pete presented a marked bottle with a skull-and-crossbones sticker placed prominently on the front. ?Associate from Pharmacy, what is this??
?Sir,? the pharmacist went on, ?this compound was formulated from the prescription medication we had. It’s specifically designed to destabilize the nervous system upon inhalation and render my opponent temporarily paralyzed. However, I have chosen to dilute this particular compound, for the sake of my opponent who is clearly over her head. I don’t want to give her a bad impression of LOL-Mart, after all.? Pete began to sound smug at this point, with Coffy badly wanting to knock him out.
?You condescending kiss ass! I bet you’re a manager in training!? Coffy snarled.
?Do not mistake my compassion for weakness, Ms. Mackenzie.? The referee backed away. The bell finally rang, starting Coffy Mackenzie’s first match. The pharmacist hopped back and began spraying the compound into the air around him, hopefully backing Coffy up against a corner and poisoning her, letting him win by default. ?What say you, Coffy? Your very life may be at ri-?
Pete’s face collided with Coffy’s right hook. She chucked the bottle out of the ring and stomped on his stomach like he was a rhythm-action arcade game. The pharmacist curled himself into a ball, attempting in vain to cushion her strikes, but Coffy lifted Pete by his neck and slammed his face into the turn buckle. Accomplishing little more than staining Coffy’s hands with his own blood, Pete could only gurgle out his last banter.
?..how…how did you beat me??
?HA! I held my BREATH, you RETAR-? Coffy inhaled the poison. Its potency was diluted and did not disable her; Coffy instead let forth a torrent of vomit on her fallen opponent for minutes. She stumbled under the ropes forsaking all dignity, having already stained the ring with a variety of her own human liquids.
| 7:43 PM
|Stonegate County Penitentiary
In New Gotham, there is a veritable cornucopia of criminals. Approximately one-out-of-twenty law breakers are super powered rogues who also occasionally battle with costumed vigilantes at night. It’s easy to imagine then that the rogues would dominate their non-powered counterparts in prison environments. However, most rogues wind up at the local asylum seeking rehabilitation; the unlucky few who wind up incarcerated find themselves fresh bait in prison communities.
?How dare you! I am the goddamn Weather Wizard!? A rogue (wearing a moderately silly green costume) cried out as he was being backed into a corner in a holding cell. Unimpressed, the Weather Wizard’s attacker slapped him to the ground again, to which he responded with another effeminate yelp of ?oooh!?
?Shut up and give me your goddamn cigarette.? Chulo Chino towered over the villain, whose apparent control of the weather was fairly useless in a prison cell.
?It’s my cigarette you bastard! If I had my Weather Wand-?
?You don’t have your Weather Wand.? replied Chino, knocking the Wizard out before liberating a pack of cigarettes from his pocket, and lighting one with a Zippo in the other pocket. Chino noticed another inmate staring at the longingly at the cigarettes, but being careful enough to not say anything while he was fighting. Curious, Chino walked up to the man clad in a spruce shirt and an afro. Now staring each other down, after an uncomfortable silence, Jamal Clinton spoke:
?What charges has the man trumped on you to get here, my brother??
?I beat up some white kid,? he responded. ?Because he looked like a ninja girl.?
?I’m here for beating up a white kid too. Only I did it because she had an iPod. Actually, could I bum a smoke?? Jamal asked, speaking cautiously. He knew the Puerto Rican fought one man already for this pack, and he didn’t want to make an enemy out of a Latino. Chino, still bemused by life, the universe and everything, handed a loosey to Jamal. Dragging from their cigarettes in sync, they both leaned against the wall, musing over their fate.
?Yo. What’s with the fatigues? You some kinda revolutionary??
?I know a lot about it. I’ve even raised a gun in the air in the name of freedom in my day. But ‘revolutionary?’ That’s for the history books to decide. How about you? What do you fight for??
?I’m a thug. Or at least, I was. I almost died today. Ever since, I wanted to learn more about myself before I really did die.?
?That’s dignity beyond most people’s rationale. What did you learn??
?That I’m not gay, for one. That I can … articulate my thoughts better than I thought I could. My name is Chulo Chino. Only now that I think of it, I don’t think I can ever be a Chulo again.?
An explosion rocked the side of the prison. Electrical circuits were knocked out of commission, but not before each cell was released. Jamal and Chino made a run for it, along with each inmate in the prison, their cigarettes latched firmly in their mouths.
| 8:23 PM
7. Men Women and Children ? At Night We Like to Fight ~ Men Women and Children
There’s no way I’m getting home before 10 PM, Coffy thought to herself, remembering Judah’s house rules. I guess I’ll have to accept my lashings or having to go to bed without dinner or TV or however he’s gonna enforce his stupid curfew.
The referee appeared in the ring to announce Coffy’s next match against the winning upset from the last fight: a girl from the Deli.
I still can’t believe she won the last match with a loaf of bread. Coffy cracked her knuckles, jumping back into the ring. She walked over to her opponent, who seemed much shorter than her. Coffy’s opponent bowed to her and said ?Summer’s greetings.?
?You. What the hell was your name again?? Coffy asked.
?Not that someone as careless as you would remember it,? the short raven-haired girl replied, ?but it’s Asagi.? She disregarded the store’s dress policy, choosing to wear a long white coat over her casual wear instead of an orange blazer. As if by habit, she combed her fingers through the fur lining of her collar. Asagi’s weapon, the aforementioned loaf of bread, was outstretched toward Coffy, gripped as if it were a familiar sword. Coffy gulped: she witnessed Asagi’s last match, wherein she decimated Bob from Sporting Goods with the Italian loaf, and being assailed by carbohydrates was one of Coffy’s many weaknesses. ?Actually, stranger, what brought you here? Where are you originally from??
?Excuse me? In New Gotham born and raised … till I got in one little fight and-? Coffy halted when Asagi raised her hand.
?You have the eyes of a person from another world. I’ve wandered across many worlds, where fantasies beyond your comprehension are rendered reality. This world is a peculiar one. I don’t think I’ll be leaving any time soon.?
Coffy tugged on the referee’s sleeve. ?Hey, you getting all of this? My opponent’s off her goddamn rocker! Are you sure it wouldn’t be a discrimination suit if I beat her up?? The man shrugged his arms ? he was being paid little more than minimum wage anyway, and such was beyond his concern.
?It’s a shame that you’re unaware of the nature of the multiple universes. Perhaps I can explain this better to your parallel iteration, should she exist in my original game.? Asagi took a step back, raising her loaf toward Coffy.
?Engarde! DIMENSION SLASH!? The woman from the Deli sliced the air with her loaf, resulting in an immense, green crescent wave headed directly toward Coffy. She had only a sliver of a second to look at the attack with awe before instinctively leaping out of its way. Coffy continued bouncing toward Asagi, intent on landing a haymaker. Asagi cut Coffy’s ascent short, kicking her square in the liver in mid-air. Her body rolled across the canvas, her throat gasping, Coffy was now in desperation for air. In only an instant she had lost her will to fight.
?Was that all it took to knock you out, Miss Mackenzie??
?Actually, bullshit.? Coffy picked herself up, having healed herself as quickly as it was conveniently. ?You’re right. I’m not normal at all. Try that on me again!? Coffy spat back.
?No. I’ll make a bigger arena first.? Asagi suddenly catapulted herself through the air and through the roof, leaping several stories above the ground. She swung her bread back, and dived back to the earth below her.
?WINGED SLAYER!? Asagi forced an immense amount of energy through the crowd behind Coffy, clearing them and their surroundings from the battlefield. When Asagi finally touched ground, she had completely leveled it, leaving the clothing department in shambles and several dozen people injured. ?Huh. Drew from Softlines is gonna be angry.?
?What the hell is your problem?!? Coffy responded, staring dumbstruck from within the ring.
?I’m clearing room for our fight so it’ll be more satisfying.? The spectators who weren’t now writhing in pain or rendered unconscious had already evacuated the fight. The referee had already gone back to the smoker’s lounge, convinced his job now finished. The only person who was still watching the fight of his own free will was the General Manager, for reasons beyond his own curiousity.
?Satisfy?!? Coffy whipped her concealed dog leash at Asagi’s weapon, and tugged it into her possession. With the loaf now in her hands, Coffy saw fit to devour it to Asagi’s horror.
?What… what did you do that for!?
?Shut the hell up! You pounded my damn liver! I’m totally justified!?
?You have no idea how many Dietitians were trapped in that bread’s Item World… and you’ve condemned them all!? Asagi’s face was awash in terror, and her eyes began to stream tears in light of this tragedy. ?All those hours of grinding… wasted.?
?I have seen enough,? the General Manager finally announced. ?As a word of caution to all of you, the inmates of the nearby Stonegate County Penitentiary have just escaped. The LOL-Mart Tournament is now officially on hiatus.?
| 8:40 PM
Park Kun-wan was an assassin in the sense that he would charge clients exuberant fees in return for murdering people. He was an assassin in several other senses as well, but that was the most important one. Park knew exactly who orchestrated the prison bombing, which was meant solely to free the recently incarcerated gangster named Johnny Viti. The thousands of other criminals and even supervillains were an externality to Viti’s associates. He knows this because he was told by a client who wants Viti killed during his breakout.
Park was smoking a cigar in the middle of a large alleyway which resembled a lush garden of barrels, crates, bricks and wet cardboard, if such things could be considered lush. His long black trenchcoat was actually uncomfortable to wear in the middle of the humid New Gotham night, but its second nature to wear a trenchcoat in this city, especially for people of the cops & robbers orientation.
He sat on a closed oil drum, waiting patiently for Johnny Viti to look for his contact hiding in these very alley: the very same contact that Park just beat to, or within close proximity to death, placing his body behind a stack of crates. Eventually, Viti stumbled his way into the alley, his mind laden with adrenaline and fear.
?Hey, you! You my contact?!? The Falcone heir was surprised that the man before him was an oriental instead of an Italian, but the ordinarily suspicious is easily ignored in times of crisis.
?Yes, Mr. Viti.?
?You’re… you’re here to save me, right? They had me locked up with the rogues and the mooleys, and I swear, just one more minute and my ass would have been dead, do you understand that?!?
?In a manner of speaking, I will save you.? Park said in-between puffs of his cigar. He took out his cigar case and offered it to Johnny, ?Relax.? The shaken up mobster had no other recourse but to do as the Korean told him. Not having had a cigar in months, Johnny Viti exhumed the smoke in a fit of hacking coughs.
?How you gonna save me if you’re gonna give me lung cancer first?!?
?Take small puffs and let the smoke sit over your tongue for a moment instead of inhaling it all at once. Don’t be a glutton.? At Park’s insistence, Viti tried it again, finally settling back into cigar smoking.
?Fine. Can we get the hell outta here already??
?Just take a look around us for a moment, Mr. Viti. Itinerants occasionally made this alley their home, which is evident in the logical sense the alley was furnished. These oil drums that dot the circular perimeter function as chairs. They radiate around a larger oil drum which is occasionally lit ablaze, evident by the heavy soot inside and around it. The barrels and crates which surround us serve as makeshift shelters. What’s interesting is how vacant this hostel of hobos is right now. Do you ever stop to wonder what the Falcone Family could do to decrease the poverty of this city, improve the quality of life by a hundredfold, and legitimately increase their profit margins at the same time??
?..what the fuck are you saying? You joined the family thinking it was the Peace Corps?? was Viti’s shocked response. It was clear to him that this man joined the Family for all the wrong reasons and will probably end up dead by the end of the month. All he could think about was putting up with Park for as long as he had to. ?Can you take me to the safe house already??
?Fine. But we’ll walk. It’s close by.?
| 8:40 PM [Eastern Standard Time]
|The Infinite Desert (a pocket dimension within Judah Solomon’s apartment)
8. Ryuichi Sakamoto ? On the Hill ~ The Sheltering Sky
Judah Solomon is an old man whose body and memories bear the scars of time. However, he is a man of an old god called God, and his faith in that deity and his people has emboldened all of his efforts. Judah walked through the desert which appeared in his home for barely over a mere hour, and has yet wandered for months with nothing but a swollen belly and a face chipped by swarms of sand grains to show for it.
Judah encountered a lone cactus. With his bare, callused hand, he strangled the life out of the plant, claiming its juices for his own. Onward he wandered yet another week, and he ran into a sand wyrm so massive, its mouth was the height of a four story apartment complex, and each of its venom-protruding fangs were the length of a subway train. With his own reserves low, and knowing that his continued sustenance would depend on this monster, Solomon leapt boldly into the throat and the belly of the beast.
Judah slogged through the wrym’s entrails, its juices fouler than the corpses of a thousand scorched men. He found his way to the stomach, realizing the presence of the acids which threatened to burn his life away. Judah quickly examined the contents, noticing traces of cud.
?Acceptable,? Judah said to himself. He then punched a hole through the side of the wrym, liberating himself as easily as he damned himself. Judah then ran up the wrym’s back, and sliced its throat with a karate chop, sharper than the finest samurai sword. He spent the next few hours skinning the scales from the monster, consumings its life-giving flesh. With leftovers in his coat, Judah continued to walk onward for one more day.
The next morning, with the red sun just about to rise over the horizon, another old man appeared before Judah.
?Judah. I see you received my message.?
?Zelretch! For months I have toiled in this forsaken desert in search of you.?
?For months I have waited vigilantly.?
?As would I, my friend.? Judah and Zelretch exchanged bows. Zelretch wore a long black coat, and now bore a shaggy gray beard, while he leaned on his cane, weakened by the long wait.
?I have something interesting to tell you. A few weeks ago, in linear time, I met myself.?
?..go on.? Judah answered, unamused.
?I never meet myself. I am a wanderer of Hypertime. Only one of me can exist at any given time, you see, and I live beyond the boundaries of the linear dimension. However, I did indeed meet myself. It was impossible.?
?Did you engage the impossibility in discussion??
?Yes. He was pleasant to talk to.?
?I am glad.?
?When I saw him, he began to phase in and out of existence. Actually, that is a misnomer. Non-existence is merely a light-and-shadow trick played a dimension across from hours. Forgive me I am rambling, Judah.?
?It’s fine. Go on.?
?This other Zelretch, was clearly not from another time, and not from another mere universe. Reality is bending in ways beyond my comprehension, and beyond even my sight. My double, however, gave me a notebook he specifically left to you. I read the contents, and I have gained little understanding in the madness which drove his words.? Zelretch pulled a small note pad out from his pocket, and handed it to Judah.
?I understand. Perhaps he intends that I avert some disaster.?
?If he trusts you only half as much as I do, he will be relieved that the future is entrusted in your hands. I am sorry our reunion is cut short, old friend, but I will watch your efforts from beyond time and space. I must begin finding the source of this reality pull before all matter is consumed. I will quickly return you to your comfortable chair in your ancient apartment, Judah Solomon, with my Kaleidoscope miracle.?
?I have something to confess, Zelretch. I know that we share memories of centuries past. Yet, another memory lingers in my mind. This memory of mine confirms that I knew of you only the moment after I received your scroll. Are even our memories marred by this disturbance?!?
?Whatever the case may be, I will aid you because I can.?
Judah returned, as promised, to his comfortable couch in his ancient apartment. He quickly thumbed through the pages of the Zaltrech’s notes, making very little sense of the scribbles which follow:
-M.M. KNOWS NO MERCY
-One world for all the girls.
-The Syndicate’s last stand!
-Do not cross the Saint. He knows his limits.
-reign of the spider-men
-PRINCESS? PRINCES? RETAINERS?
-WHEN IS DIS00404???
-Orochi. Orochi. Orochi.
-why is the niggapocalypse?
-The Interplanar Talent Agency has gone Public.
-who are the ternity Numbers?
-They seek their sister. They seek Coffy Mackenzie.
| 9:05 PM
?This is the safe house?? Johnny Viti had remembered the Falcones were Catholic by a technicality, but the Church was the farthest concern from his mind. Park sat in his pew stoically, seemingly oblivious to Johnny’s presence.
?And one wing of the other cherub was five cubits, reaching to the wall of the house: and the other wing was five cubits also, joining to the wing of the other cherub.?
?What are you talking about now?!?
?The cherub’s wings. They’re massive, and certainly beyond the ordinary. Ergo, creatures of God are supposed to inspire wonder in the mortal world. And yet, we human beings, the supposed masterpiece by midnight, are far from inspirational. Isn’t that a somber examination, Mr. Viti? Relax, You will not die in this house of God.?
?..fine. If you want to know, I maybe-sort-of believed in God when I was a kid. I didn’t know any better. I thought the Easter Bunny laid Easter eggs, I thought Jesus died for our sins, and I thought that our family owned legitimate businesses. I was nave.?
?A step in the right direction. More often than not,? Park continued, ?naivety is associated with idealism and positive efforts to improve the world. Why is it that men grow so cold with age? Regardless, the family ordered me to take you here to confess your sins. Afterward, I can return you to your family.?
?..whatever.? Johnny Viti walked over to the confessional booth. Noting that he didn’t leave immediately, Park smiled to himself and excused himself outside. Viti began pouring his heart out to the priest in attendance, regurgitating every sin and possible transgression that came to mind in the past five years. Johnny was compelled by a spirit of compassion, whimsy and curiosity.
This was as Park hoped. Johnny finally exited the cathedral, with Park on the sidewalk motioning him to come down. Viti was going to tell Park about everything he told the priest. He was going to discuss the possibility of becoming a Catholic again with the strange Korean man. However, before he could even open his mouth, Park knocked Johnny out with chloroform, dragged him into the nearest alley, and shot a bullet through his skull. Park then went back into the cathedral to confess his sins. His job tonight is complete.