Day 1, 15 hours after announcement
"Again, Princess "
Li instructed (or was it Lo? Azula always had difficulty telling). Azula suppressed a flash of annoyance; as if she needed directing anymore. She knew the stakes, knew what she wanted and knew about her opponent's capabilities. Azula breathed deep and tried again, her right arm reaching forward.
Whoever the Portal 'Master' had hired for designers it was clear to even Azula that they deserved the full sum for their work(and she was normally stingy, since the palace engineers couldn't build anything right!). Her room was an exact replica of a Fire Nation palace bedroom- large and spacious, as well as containing two servants quarters in side rooms for Li and Lo. Outside of her bedroom (but still inside the enclosed dwelling ) was a large training area, made in the style of a Agni Kai arena, where she was currently practicing.
For once in his life, Zuko had done something that could be considered useful; he had shown her lightning redirection.
Of course he hadn't really shown her the art, but it was close enough . The Library of Babel contained technology that had not yet reached the dreams of the best Fire Nation scientists; these "moving images" among them. It was from them she learned of her Uncle Iroh's technique, the one he had made specifically to counter her father, the inventor of lightning bending.
She imagined the electricity coursing through her body the way it had with the Avatar a couple of months ago, the white hot energy traveling through her right arm towards her stomach, and then out through the other-
She had done it! Azula knew this technique would be easy (after all it had only taken her brother around thirty minutes) but she hadn't expected it to be that simple. It took her fifteen minutes to learn what it took her brother thirty to do, causing Azula to smile. One more way she had one-upped her brother.
"Princess. However you will need to practice more if you expect-
" -to drive back Marek's lightning".
Lo and Li, like any set of twins, were more then proficient at completing each other's sentences.This irked Azula slightly, however, they were clearly right. She'd need to perfect this art if she were to beat Marek.
Azula had spent the the first eight hours researching every aspect of the boy's pitiful life using a library that would make Wan Shi Tong red with envy. In a way she admired the boy's single-minded drive and willpower. Every obstacle Marek had had before him lay shattered at his feet, all in the name of a mechanical man that just planned to kill him anyway...
Again she went through the hand motions, only this time she summoned real lightning to her finger tips, immensely satisfied when the electricity went down through her stomach, then out her left hand. The lightning hit the rooftop, blasting a hole in it that automatically repaired itself.
Azula didn't need Lo and Li really, she was quite capable of coming up with elaborate battle plans by herself, as the conquest of the Earth Kingdom proved. The fire nation princess supposed they were just a small compensation gift from the Portal Master for giving Marek that ridiculous robot.
At least his library had told her everything she needed to know about the Sith turned Jedi. His strengths, his weaknesses, his powers, every important scrap of his life Azula had spent the last fifteen hours memorizing- and devising counters to.
His main Strength: the lightsaber. Azula knew what this weapon could in close quarters, knew that he was far more skilled in a close quarters then her. This bothered her at first, as she had never really shied away from a fist fight before, and indeed she considered herself quite good at it. Still Azula could deny neither the facts nor "moving images"; she may be good, but he is better.
Still Azula didn't consider this a serious problem; with her propulsion she could move faster then his force speed, and not to mention there was a reason non-bender soldiers didn't really like to get up close to a firebender....
Fire walls, fire shields, and a vast panoply of fire-based attacks would make getting close to her... inadvisable. Even so she had spent three hours earlier practicing all of those techniques, pushing her propulsion to the limit and in the process learning a power that offered her the best chance at winning a melee engagement. Though his ability to bend the air with his hands (the Library of Babel called it "Telekinesis") could prove a bit problematic a counter was slowly starting to formulate in her head.
Right now, Azula was practicing lightning redirection, which would give her a counter to his force lightning.
Another burst of lightning, another successful redirection. A few more tries and she'd be ready to move on to her biggest headache; telekinesis.
Though the power did intimidate her a little her overall confidence hadn't ebbed in the slightest and quite the contrary, it had increased tenfold! Azula knew war better then most; she had grown up on it after all. This Marek even though he clearly had the combat training was as predictable as her brother Zuko when it came to tactics. In fact Zu-Zu might actually be better then him!
The man's movements were predictable, his entire style of combat based on one weapon; the lightsaber. Find a way to destroy the lightsaber, and Marek would be reduced to nothing!
Then again, it would be hard to reduce someone of little to no consequence like Marek any further. He was an assassin, someone sent out to do the dirty work of those better then him, one of many and all expendable. Something that Marek didn't seem to realize until his master had quite literally stabbed him in the back.The look of shock on his face had caused Azula to smirk a bit as his own arrogance caught up to him. Not that the man who betrayed him stood much of a chance of achieving the ultimate power, being nothing more then an unwilling pawn of the Emperor (which made Marek a Pawn's Pawn! How Pathetic!).
True power and the divine right to rule came from noble birth and the skill that came with, something neither Darth Vader nor his dog of a apprentice possessed.Nor would they ever, as the Emperor was at least of noble birth. She on the other hand...
When the Portal Master had shown her a vision of the future she had seen herself, sitting on a golden throne, emissaries from all corners of the planet surrounding her. In fear, in respect they all worshiped their sovereign as the entire congregation bowed as low and subserviently as possible. With righteous cause, for they were in the presence of a true goddess who possessed powers far greater then the combined Avatar Spirit had ever known , who could enact destruction hundreds of miles away by a mere thought, who had led the very planet in the greatest golden age it had ever known. And that wasn't all.....
As the vision ended she saw herself assaulting the Spirit World, enacting vengeance upon those who would empower the Fire Nation's greatest enemy the Avatar. As the vision ended she saw herself standing triumphant over the greatest enemy of all; the embodiment of death itself.
Azula at that moment chose to focus only on the positive side of the vision for the sake of her mental health, and not the other half. She did not want to think about what would happen if she lost, as the Avatar and the victorious nations of the world exterminated her people in retaliation for the hundred years war as the puppet Zuko looked on.
Azula smiled as Li and Lo congratulated her, concluding her training of lightning redirection. Another success, as she slowly whittled down Marek's tactics one by one...
As a former Confederate ghost, Sarah Kerrigan was no stranger to scouting weird locations but this one topped the list . To start off with the little huts up top merely contained portals to the real dwelling, which lay many hundreds of feet underground. All the dwellings were interconnected by a series of almost endless marble carved tunnels, with several large chambers located throughout the maze. As someone who had designed many underground complexes, Kerrigan was a bit impressed. However she was not brought here to admire architecture, and the real reason jerked at her pride a little. She did not enjoy being captured and forced to partake in something against her will, however she could not deny its possibilities.
To Sarah , this tournament could prove to be a lifesaver. Though she certainly didn't choose to be in (a constant in her life) the Queen of Blades would not deny a opportunity when it waved itself in front of her. She could use the power offered by victory to enhance her position and that of the Swarm, and to crush the Dark Voice and his hybrids beneath her heel. With the DNA offered by the other contestants from this tournament, her and the swarm's power would skyrocket with each passing victory. Abathur, one of her two advisers who had been teleported to her room, could do that.
Her telepathy picked up that she was not alone, and she instantly whirled about to catch a smiling face and brown eyes behind glasses. He wore a long robe and possessed a elegant looking Katana that clung to his side (as a blade specialist, Kerrigan's eyes hovered on this for a second). Other then that there was no discernible feature that made him stand out, no obvious special power. He seemed quite ...normal. Then again, except being overly muscular for a girl her age, she also looked pretty normal seeing as she had opted for her ghost form when leaving the room (Abathur could change her forms for her with effort, and she thought it drew less attention then the big and bulky queen of blades form). The man bowed his head a bit and spoke
"Hello there! Admiring the marvelous architecture as I have been? The power that the Portal Master must possess in order to finance and create such a structure is nearly beyond my scope of imagining. "
Kerrigan's eyes held the gaze of the man, his eyes holding no inherent sign of malice nor did he smell like death (as some others in this tournament did, particularly that knight) . However her telepathy kept picking up a strange vibe from him, that perhaps the outer display did not match inner personality. However that would be something to investigate later and it could be ....beneficial to keep up a illusion of amiability. She bowed her head in turn
"The man does possesses a superb architect, one that I would like to hire when this tournament is over. The name's Sarah Kerrigan and yours is...?"
His smile grew wider
" My name is Sosuke Aizen my lady, and I am honored to make your acquaintance."
"And my name is Aang! I am the Avatar!"
A child who couldn't be any more then twelve years old with a tattooed forehead came forward, seemingly out of nowhere though Kerrigan had detected his approach a while ago via telepathy. Her eyes gazed over at Aizen, who was similarly unsurprised and was now speaking to the boy amiably.
"Either he is really good at handling something unexpected, or he sensed the boy's approach as I did. No doubt now, this is someone worth keeping an eye on."
Kerrigan's thoughts next drifted over to the boy, and it took only seconds for her to pierce his mind, realize that beneath his young, inexperienced interior lay immense power. Perhaps this could be courted to her advantage....Unfortunately Aizen had chosen this moment to break her thoughts by bringing her name up
" Avatar Aang, this is Sarah Kerrigan sh-"
"Pleased to meet you Avatar Aang!" She nodded her head slightly and continued "It is an honor, what you did yesterday was nothing short of heroic. You saved countless lives when you freed the Hulk, including my own, and did so without showing a ounce of fear."
Aang's cheeks had flushed red at these words, and Kerrigan struggled to hold back a smile. She inwardly smirked and thought to herself
"Looks like someone is beginning to hit puberty. Girls are already starting to matter in his life, this is going to be easier then I thought. The boy will be wrapped around my finger in no time, after I seal the deal. "
With that she kissed him on his right bright red cheek, causing him to nearly faint. She purred slightly, trying to make her voice a bit more attractive. Having never got to experience a normal adolescence (while most teenagers were taking their dates out to dinner, she was taking her targets out of this plane of existence) she knew she was a bit rough around the edges, but she suspected it would be enough.
"Thank you, your one of the bravest men I have ever had the * privilege* of meeting . "
" I-I-it was no problem mam, its what I do every-d-day . I am happy that I could-d help. "
"Indeed, as Sarah just said we are all appreciative of your bravery Aang-san. You will have to excuse me, I would like to make use of the cafeteria the Portal Master mentioned. "
With that he bowed his way out, though Kerrigan could detect that a parting smirk was meant for her; there was no doubt about it now, Aizen saw through her little act. Still that minor detail alerted Kerrigan to the definite; there was more to Sosuke Aizen then meets the eye. Luckily, the same could be said about her.
Turning her gaze back towards the still blushing Avatar, she directed her next line of questioning towards him, taking care to sound innocent and sweet in her tone. The intelligence gained on both his capabilities, intentions, and that of his female friend ( an inference which Aang quickly shot down; apparently Azula had nearly killed him before) would all be very helpful later on....
Day 1, 18:00
A gust of fire missed his face by inches, the feeling of intense heat causing his nerves to ache. However Galen Marek, the veteran of countless engagements in his short life-span, payed it little heed. His focus was on the raven-haired petite girl in front of him, who already was conjuring another jet of fire.
Vader's former apprentice had stared death in the face before, and calmly too. This time was no different. He raised his hand, and the force parted the fire down the middle, sparing him the full brunt of the inferno. However Galen quickly realized this would not work, as the fire from all sides was visibly draining him of energy.
Gathering the force to him he lashed out, the force repulse dispersing the fire and giving him a clear line of sight to the girl. His force grip stopped her movement, and with a mere twist of the hand sent her crashing into the ceiling. As a final coup de grace, the lightsaber from his belt whizzed toward her seemingly on its own accord, impaling the fire nation princess. Her face registering intense pain, she turned to Marek and spoke
"Excellent work Master, thats three times out of five you have beaten this training module!"
With that Azula morphed into a tall slim robotic figure with glowing yellow eyes.
Marek chuckled softly at his oldest friend's enthusiasm, though Proxy's desire to kill him may have been removed, he still showed a bit of happiness at beating his master twice.
" Yea well those first two times you caught me off guard with the intensity of those flames. How do your attacks compare to the real Azula in terms of lethality again?"
"Good, lets keep practicing. I want to be as ready as possible when I meet her on whatever strange....battlefield the Portal Master has us fight on. "
"Proxy, another round."
Proxy's confirmation was something that Marek heard but didn't react to; he was partially lost in thought. The former Sith apprentice was thinking about his next target, just as he had dozens of times before. From what the Library told him, this Azula's most powerful weapon lay not in the elemental fire that sprouted from every limb or even the lightning that sprang from her finger tips but the mind. Galen was unfortunately dealing with someone even he had to acknowledge was smarter then him, someone who had taken down an empire single-handily and would likely be coming into battle with counters to many of his techniques. Galen knew she wouldn't be able to counter the force completely, but throwing off just a few could prove fatal to his plans.
Galen's blast of force energy met Azula-Proxy's jet of fire, negating it as he went on the offensive, still partially lost in thought. He wouldn't, couldn't lose. Not after what he had seen....
When the Portal Master had conjured that portal before him, he saw his dream come true. The Fall of the Empire; its very ashes scattered throughout the galaxy, its emperor lay eviscerated at his feet. He was Galen Marek, the champion of the newly minted New Galactic Republic, respected hero and freedom-bringer to its citizens; his name forever secure in the highest and grandest echelons of Galactic Civilization, a source of inspiration for countless generations. But to Marek that was just icing on the cake as the real prize was seeing himself with Juno Eclipse, both equally happy and in love. Had the vision ended there, Galen would have been satisfied. Unfortunately it hadn't.
The vision took a darker turn, and Galen immediately understood this was meant to show what would happen should he lose. The triumph of the Empire to the sound of the Emperor's cruel laughter, the execution of the rebels and Kota, deliberately drawn out as long as possible by the sadistic monarch. Proxy was deactivated and turned into scrap metal for a monument to Palpatine, a humiliating and undeserved fate for Marek's oldest friend. And Juno? Sold to the most sadistic and cruel slavers of Hutt Space as a gift, cursed to live a life of nothing but torment and depravity.
Galen's lips curled back in a snarl as he shot a jet of force lightning at Proxy; what the hell did she fight for? As far as Marek could tell, it was nothing other then a desire for power, to see the triumph of her father. In a way it sickened him, yet he could not help drawing comparisons between her loyalty to her father Ozai and the way he had served Vader, also eager for a share of that power. Two young fools, neither realizing that their master's only cared for personal glory, and not at all for their tools. Galen had wised up; he wondered if Azula would one day make that connection.
Once again his lightsaber pierced the chest of the fire nation princess, and once again the morphed Proxy congratulated him . Galen could only hope that the battle would be that easy but was equally determined to win...no matter the cost.
Day 1, 26 hours station time....
In the very bowels of the complex a strange little man with a bow-tie was off on his own, his purpose unknown even to himself. The man was an oddball by every definition; a endless list of contradictions that made him both boastful and self-loathing, equally vain and selfless, and most significantly both a mass murderer of his own species and a universal savior. This being held aloft in his hand a device as odd as he was, which quickly emitted a green light that moved back and forth across the wall. He eyed the device, his face registering confusion. The man whispered to himself excitedly
"Brilliant! Just as I expected!" He started pacing " I know where we are, but I don't know WHERE we are! Hmm, bit of a conundrum, that one. Oh and you who are standing cloaked in the corner. I can see you- sorry, that was a lie. I can't see you but I can sense you- " He held up the his instrument, waving it about "with this."
A sort of mumbling was heard from the corner, and the person decloaked, an amused expression on his wizened old face. And he was old; there was probably more winkles on him then hair strands, of which there were also many .
"Most impressive. That device you carry is...is it magical or muggle in nature? Regardless it is fascinating!"
"It is not magical, and if by "muggle" you mean a non-magical human population then it is not that either. It is Time Lord technology."
The old man's interest was now genuinely piqued
"Ahh extra-terrestrial technology! Many Magical folk have always been disbelieving of life outside our planet but I have always thought that it is a little short-sighted of them, especially since most non-magical folk regard magic as an impossibility. "
"Something that I once believed, prior to my travels. By the way what is your ..."
"Ah apologies. My name is Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, and you are?"
"I am known as the Doctor; time traveler and adventurer, and I must say I am a BIG fan."
"Exactly my young friend! Doctor Who indeed!"
Dumbledore chuckled at this man's eccentric personality, not realizing that the doctor really was much older then him. Still pleasantries wasn't the only reason he had followed this "Doctor" around; it was to get a clue of both who he was and what he could do. And how exactly was he a "fan"?
Just as Dumbledore was about to press his line of questioning, a ring of energy surrounded both. The ring expanded before either could interact, enveloping them, though not before the more alert of the two caught sight of a similar ring enveloping a third character who was previously hidden from view.
Meanwhile in a hidden conference room......
" So Doctor, you don't remember anything, not even who you are? "
"Unfortunately no, I do not Superman. I can't remember anything from what I was doing before being summoned here, and the entity of Nabu is also having difficulty in responding to my inquiries."
The man in blue looked away from the golden mask wearing man to his old friend Batman, taking a glimpse at the rest of the table as he did so. In addition to himself, Dr. Fate, and Batman, two other figures graced the meeting. The man who possessed a lightning bolt on his chest and wore red & gold attire went by the name of Captain Marvel . Superman had initially been wary of letting him in after he lost his powers, but Marvel honestly didn't seem to remember any of the events leading up to it. The last member, the quiet Raven, was unique in that she was technically never a Justice League member, however she was part of the affiliated Teen Titans and thus was trustworthy enough to make a honorary member. Batman had left the Justice League and had refused to rejoin it, but in light of the circumstances had come back to serve an advisory role.
"Batman, have you been able to discover anything regarding our mysterious host?"
"No, nothing. Whoever he is he covers his tracks well. I may be able to learn more if I could access the Library of Babel, but so far attempts to hack my terminal have failed. Its possible he could have made special precautions for my terminal only, and I will need to make a few attempts on your consoles."
Marvel spoke up once Batman had finished speaking; he was nothing if not polite. As he spoke he looked around the table.
" Do we know anything of the other fighters?"
To Superman, that was a wonderful question and he himself was the first to answer.
"Captain Marvel asks a good question, and any Intel acquired by members of this table should be shared for the good of all ." He glanced at Batman as he said this. "I'll start."
" I talked briefly with a few of them . The man who came under attack by the Green Creature is named Dr. Strange, and he seems to serve the role that Doctor Fate does, guarding his version of Earth from all sorts of magical threats. He is a powerful sorcerer, and was held accountable by the green creature, Hulk, for allegedly destroying much of the planet Hulk ruled over. The Hulk possesses super strength that grows with rage, and before arriving here was in the process of destroying much of the planet's superhero force in revenge for their perceived attack that led to his wife and his son's death."
" The man in the orange Ki suit is named Goku, and he was a lot more forthcoming about his background then the others. This man wields energy blasts coming from a source of energy known as ki, or inner life force. He is one of the last of a warlike race known as the saiyans and is capable of transforming into more powerful versions of himself. "
Superman then turned to Dr. Fate, who shrugged
" Unfortunately I cannot give much in the way of information. I talked briefly to a boy known as Aang, who claimed to be able to wield four elements -earth, wind, air, and fire- in cohesion, as well as possessing a title called the "avatar". "
The scene changed to Marvel
" I also talked to this Goku, as well as a man who called himself Jackie Estacado. All I know is that he wields "the Darkness". Other then that he wasn't really forthcoming....or polite. "
Raven, usually quiet, spoke up.
"When the fighting started I was attacked by someone wearing knightly armor, who wielded a powerful sword that he called "Frostmourne" and used dark magic. I...."
She paused here, her face resembling one of horror for a brief second.
"I-I looked inside his mind; I don't ever want to go into a place so cold and dark again."
Superman could tell that she wasn't going to speak again, and turned finally to Batman, who looked at him impassively. Superman internally sighed; Batman's typical tight-lipped nature
"Well Batman, you have heard from the rest of us, do you have anything to add?"
At first it seemed like he wouldn't speak, but then finally, almost grudgingly he opened up.
"When examining the cage of Doomsday I was joined by a odd man who called himself the Doctor, who utilized an odd sort of screwdriver that was capable of scanning the creature. Though possessing no obvious powers and seemingly human, he was able to predict down to the second when Doomsday would be freed. "
Superman had known Batman long enough to suspect there was more, but Batman made no move to share any more information. Superman decided it would be best to move the discussion forward, to focus on possible battle plans and alliances against the maker of the tournament, but he was interrupted by a magical ensnaring him. It was powerful enough that not even Fate could break free, and before they could so much as protest they were teleported away.
The smiling face of the Portal Master again met theirs, most of them annoyed from being called away. The two annoyed most of all were Azula and Galen, having both been called away from their preparations. Azula caught Marek's eye and sneered at him, before quickly turning his attention back to the Portal Master.
He raised his hands above him in a gesture of welcome before continuing
"Greetings! I hope all have found their accommodations satisfactory. One day has passed, and one day remains until the first bout. As some of you have noticed, time works a bit differently on this station. Each day lasts 27 hours as I designed it, so that the remaining six hours of each day henceforth can be allocated to fight-time. Should more or less be required changes can be made, for I am the Master of Time on this station. Never fear, for I will personally ensure that each of retains the 48 hours of prep time that was promised previously."
"I would not have interrupted any of you from your research, plotting or miscellaneous functions without good reason, and good reason I possess in infinite quantities. For every day hence until the end of the first round there will be a battle, and to ensure that the next round contenders need to be announced. "
Predictably the lights dimmed as anticipation and anxiety swelled within the crowd.
"For our next battle we have a fight of two explosive personalities, two individuals who make worlds quake beneath them. One male, one female. One the leader of his own mutant radicals, the other the queen of her alien swarm. The Queen of Blades known as Sarah Kerrigan-"
Finally after what seemed like an eternity the a light came back on, illuminating a girl with weird dreadlocks , skin-tight clothes, green eyes and a muscular physique. The girl had been expecting it to land on her, and she was not as unprepared as the other two were yesterday. Her keen eyes scanned the crowd for her next opponent
"-whose psionic potential and close quarter capabilities are unparalleled in her universe faces off against-"
A light appeared over a tall muscular figure decked out in a red and purple skin-tight outfit, a helmet obscuring much of his face and expressions.
"-Magneto, the unparalleled Master of Magnetism and mutant mastermind!"
Kerrigan stared at Magneto, her telepathy unable to penetrate past his helmet to view his intentions, his face obscure to her sight. All she could see were the glaring eyes
" Fighters, you now have access to the Library of Babel and each of your unique pre-battle bonuses. For the rest of you, the next time we meet will be after Azula and Marek clash, to announce the next fighter. Do not fret, for you each of you will be able to view the Galen vs. Azula bout utilizing terminals in each of your quarters. Until next time."
And with that he teleported them away, as two warriors immediately went to researching their new foes, and two other teenagers continued their preparations.