Rat Trap Apr 22, 2019 2:31:21 GMT -6
Post by Casca on Apr 22, 2019 2:31:21 GMT -6
Wrestling away the microphone, a blue-haired giant shouted, “As you can see, from a martial arts standpoint, my opponent was an amateur. But, what would you expect, fighting a world champion like me!”
Stopping for what he thought would be a whirlwind of applause, the Champ strutted around the octagon with his chest out. Donning a Camp MSG t-shirt and an ornamented hat, the champ continued his egocentric rant. “I’d like to thank my brother, Josuke, and my dad, Joseph. And—,” the microphone was snatched back by the announcer.
“That’s was Jotaro Madani folks! The heavyweight champion of a really small town we will never talk about again!” The crowd boomed to life, cheering for the Champ. He tried to snatch the microphone back but was unsuccessful. Choosing it was for the best, the blue-haired man draped the championship belt over his shoulder as he accompanied his team back to their locker room.
Casca watched from the stands as the Champ enthusiastically enjoyed his victory. “That fight was terrible! Who allows themselves to be put asleep by a rear naked choke with less than a minute left in the match?” Said a perturbed young boy with blonde hair.
Taking the bait, Casca injected, “How’d you figure?”
With his arms outstretched, the young boy exclaimed, “I would have ended the scuffle in the first! Jotaro lowers his power to compete in these stupid tournaments. I think some dreams deserve to be crushed.”
“Well —,” Casca winced at the boy’s comment, “you could have fooled me. Looked like you enjoyed watching the Champ.”
The youth replied with venom. “Stop calling him that, I told you. He’s never in any danger, its fake.”
“Real or not, I need to speak to him,” Casca added.
“I could introduce you.” The boy said, pausing until he got Casca’s full attention. “But it is I, Gio! Giorno Madani! And I will not do what is expected of me, but the very opposite!”
Casca head almost fell from her shoulders in disbelief. Deciding to leave the conversation then, Casca weaved through the crowd. The reconnaissance on the Madani Family proved accurate. They were a family of martial artists; specializing in judo and considered themselves professionals even though they only compete on the amateur circuit. Starting to believe they were more than capable of protecting themselves, she still felt the need to meet them. And warn them.
“You're in danger.” Casca sounded colder than she intended.
“Look, I appreciate you being worried. I do. But sometimes you gotta carve out your own path in life. Stop being the hunted and start being the hunter,” Jotaro tried to articulate to whom he thought was a fan that he was more than capable of defending himself. Casca tried to intervene but he rudely pressed a finger to her lips. “Besides,” he went on, grinning ear to ear with his eyes shut. “Danger knows where to find me. Same place we’ll be celebrating my victory at tonight, the Madani family’s headquarters, Mad Stand Gym.”
“You don’t understand,” Casca mumbled through the man’s awkward attempt to silence her. Irritated by the invasion of space and obviously not being taken seriously, Casca pealed the Champ's finger from her face.
Before Casca had a chance to do something she’d regret, a limousine full of security guards arrived. “It’s been great meeting you, Alexandra.”
“Its Cassandra,” Casca inserted.
“Whatever. Whoever you think you are, come meet the family in their natural habitat and see for yourself there’s nothing to worry about.” Not allowing Casca a chance to speak, the Champ quickly climbed into the back of the limo and slammed the door. As the vehicle began to pull away, the Champ cracked the window and threw a blue Camp MSG shirt at Casca. “Vamonos,” he shouted as they drove away.
After the tournament …
“So you think this guy is your cousin,” Coco asked while standing in the doorway to the ship.
“The resemblance is uncanny and he sure knows how to fight," Casca said as she rubbed her forehead, recounting the events of the past couple hours.
Coco gave Casca a friendly shake. “Go to the party then! Do what you are good at and get your answers!”
“A party? Can I go,” Dew, Coco’s daughter, asked.
“Maybe next time, honey,” Coco said. “Tonight is an important night for Casca. She may be meeting family members she never knew she had.”
Appearing from her hiding place, Coco’s other daughter, Fanta, spoke up, “Aren’t we apart of Casca’s family?”
Casca motioned to the child to join them. Climbing up her leg, the Konatsian child hugged Casca’s face. “Of course, your family,” she said, talking through the embrace. “Took you on this sweet vacation for your birthday, didn’t I?” Casca snuck a look at Coco. In reality, Casca and Soda came to the conclusion they’d be safer from the Company if they stayed together. “But these people are my family too.”
Dew chimed in, “Are you going to leave us?”
Coco answered for her. “She can’t get rid of us that easily.” She tickled her daughter’s belly.
Ultimately growing bored with the small talk, Coco’s daughters left the room. “So, how bad is the damage," Casca asked.
Coco closed her eyes in an attempt to disguise her real emotions on the subject. “Soda said it could take a couple days, if we have the parts. A few weeks if we don’t. The ship's in rough shape after that impromptu landing.”
“More like a controlled fall,” Casca regrettably admitted.
“I thought you said you were a pilot," Coco joked. "Take it easy with that Gravity Device, too. Experience doesn’t grow on trees here on Earth.” Coco pushed the vest across the table. “Soda insisted you start on the lowest setting, till you are fully healed.”
“I’ve lost a lot of time. My skills aren’t what they used to be. I’ll take any advantage I can get to even the odds.” Looking over the vest, Casca raised an eyebrow. “I bet this would fit under that stupid MSG shirt.”
“Great! So you are going to that party tonight!”
Later that night …
“Who did you say you were again,” questioned Josuke, the Champ’s younger brother.
“I am Cassandra, my mother’s name is Jolyne. She and my grandfather are Madani’s, like you, from Earth,” emphasized by Casca pointing to the ground. “And if there’s any chance we are related, you and the rest of your family are in danger.” Wearing an oversized and ugly blue tee shirt, designed around a massive graphic of the Champ’s face, she did look ridiculous.
“Wait, wait, wait,” the man signaled Casca to slow down. As he looked her up and down, Josuke stated, “I’ve heard some pretty outlandish stories from fans, and this may be the craziest. First of all, I don’t have a grandfather. Second of all, the Madani’s are never in danger. Guys, can you get her out of here before the Champ arrives.” Josuke motioned to some nearby security guards to remove Casca.
“You're making a mistake, you guys aren’t strong enough to stop what’s coming,” Casca said in an effort to get something through his thick skull. Take it or leave it, the message was delivered. She couldn’t protect everyone.
“Is that a threat?” The man’s voice grew louder. “Hey, I’m talking to you!” Josuke was arguably the second strongest of the Madani Family. Very few would disrespect him in such a way, especially surrounded by the rest of his family.
“Jolyne? Did someone say Jolyne,” said an older gentleman. Slumped in a wheelchair, the man removed his oxygen mask and opened his eyes.
Revealing a pair of emerald green eyes, remarkably similar to Casca’s, the man inspected the half Saiyan, half Earthling woman. “Cannot be,” he clasped Casca’s hands and kissed them from his wheelchair. “You look so much like her,” he proclaimed.
Josuke interrupted his father, “You actually believe this stuff? Just because she has blue hair doesn’t mean she’s — she can't be my cousin, I’d know.”
Ignoring his son, the man continued to talk to Casca. “The name’s Joseph Madani, but please, call me Jo-Jo. If you are not leaving, I’d like to hear about your mother, if you have the time.” Watching his father embrace someone he still believed to be a stranger, Josuke shook his head in disgust.
Jotaro tossed his arm around his brother before making an explosion sound. “Mind blown. I already thought she was pretty cool, glad to hear she’s on our side.”
“Doesn’t it bug you he thinks he can remember things from fifty years in the past but some days he can’t remember our names? He’s losing it Jotaro, tomorrow he probably won’t remember who he is.” Josuke looked devastated, upset at his father’s disease.
Jotaro tried to be optimistic. “He’s losing his memory, yah? Doesn’t mean he can’t make new ones.” Regardless of how his brother felt, Josuke had enough. Throwing up his hands in surrender, he walked away. “Tough crowd, am I right,” Jotaro said, nudging the man next to him with his elbow.
Besides that initial complication, the cookout progressed regularly. At one point, during another one of Jotaro’s grandioso speeches, Casca actually laughed. She was happy, the evening was a lot of fun. The Madani’s were special and she could see that. Loud, sometimes brash, and often unapologetic, this was her new extended family.
Giorno, the youngster Casca met at the stadium, found himself waiting impatiently near the exit as the night grew to a close. Observing something on the ground, Giorno didn’t see the approaching man until he was to close for comfort. Sporting a dark trench coat and a soulless grin, the man squatted down to Giorno’s level and asked, “I heard there’s a lot of strong fighters here, happen to know one by the name Casca?”
“Dude, get lost. No fans, can’t you read the signs,” Giorno finished by pointing at the well-placed sign behind him before actually registering what the man asked. “What’s a Casca?”
“Excuse me, I forgot to use her Earthling name, Cassandra.” The man laughed at his mistake.
“Yeah, she’s inside,” Giorno bluntly admitted. Suddenly standing confidently and arms extended, the boy loudly announced, “But too bad! For it is I, Gio! And there’s no chance you're getting in there!”
Walking into the party, the unknown man could hear the small boy outside whispering to himself the mantra of “useless, useless, useless”. Moving through the environment, the man crashed through chairs and tables as he neared the few people still in attendance. “Hello there,” he said almost robotically.
“Hey there, you fool. Who the hell are you!” Said Josuke, further amplified by the shouts from his family.
“Please, I mean you no harm. I only came here for the strongest amongst you.” The stranger lifted both arms and slowly turned around in a show of good faith.
“What the hell are you talking about? That’s it; I’ve had enough nonsense for one day. It’s your time to go, buddy,” Josuke said on his approach to removing the man from the premises.
Catching his brother by the arm, the Champ cleared his throat. “What he’s trying to say is there are a lot more of us than there are of you. Turn around now, and no hay dano no falta, bien?” Jotaro left the man with an out if he wanted it.
The stranger stood still for a moment as if processing the new information. “No,” he firmly said. The crowd stared at the man, dumbfounded while Josuke grew irritated. Shaking his arm free, he proceeded to try to intimidate the stranger. “Maybe we got off on the wrong foot,” the man disappeared, and reappeared directly in front of Josuke, stopping his forward momentum, “I don’t have any attention on hurting anyone, but if I have to, I will.”
Standing face to face, the man’s presence seemed to dwarf Josuke even though they were close in stature. “Amigo,” Jotaro tried to be friendly stepping between the two, “No one is leaving with you tonight. Thanks for your support, but its time to go home.” After giving the man one last chance to reconsider, Jotaro tried to nudge the man toward the exit. He didn’t budge. “You are heavier than you look, big guy.”
The stranger dropped his trench coat, revealing two solid steel arms and a chest covered with tactical equipment. “I will be leaving with Cassandra Madani, don’t attempt to stop me or you will be met with lethal force,” the man warned.
“Look hermano, I tried being nice but you don’t get to insult me here. Everyone knows who’s the strongest, and that’d be me, the Champ,” Jotaro insisted, positioning himself closer and closer to the man. “I can forgive you wondering in here, but not knowing who I am, that’s where I draw the line.”
Torqueing his body, Jotaro launched a punch to the man’s chest in an effort to knock him into oblivion. Jotaro’s arm embarrassedly folded against the chest cavity of the stranger, again not moving him in the slightest. The man gripped the Champ’s thumb and twisted. Winning control over his combatant, the man used the human’s momentum to detain him in a weakened position on the ground. The family roared to life but stopped short of making any moves.
“Woah, feliz navidad! Hell of a handshake you got there.” The older Madani brother confessed, trying to make lite of the fact he was being restrained at his own party. The tall but slender stranger pinning the Champ to the ground was a strange sight.
The man’s eyes twisted in and out of their sockets, revealing the living hardware underneath. “The man’s an android, Jotaro. Best let me recycle his ass,” screamed Josuke behind a roundhouse kick to the Android’s head.
Moving in a flash, the Android caught the kick and again used the conservation of energy to his advantage. Tumbling to the ground, Josuke let out a gasp of air as he landed squarely in his back.
Coming back into the party after sneaking away for a smoke, Casca was immensely caught off guard by who she saw. Instantly, their eyes locked. “Frank,” Casca slowly spoke. “This isn’t like you. Leave these people alone, I’m right here.”
“Casca,” the name was whispered almost reverently by the Android. His metallic body whined and squealed as he walked forward and knelt before her, hugging her midsection as if he was a lost child. “I found you.”
“You did,” Casca said with difficulty. “Does the Company know where I am, Frank?”
“That is why I’m here, to bring you home.” The Android stood and made an effort to hold Casca’s hand, which she retracted. “When the Company heard you were still alive and leaving Konats, they inferred you’d come to Earth next.”
“I served alongside you and the other thirty for over a decade,” Casca acknowledged. “I don’t owe the Company, our squad, or you an explanation. I’m not going back, Frank.”
The Android apologized to Casca, “They already know you’re here.” He motioned to his cybernetic eye implant. “They knew the second I knew. With our numbers dwindling, the Company had to improvise and made some adjustments.”
Shaken by the thought, Casca never thought of what they’d do to Frank with her out of the picture. To the Company, Androids were expendable. They didn’t require the same amount of training as a new recruit and needed less maintenance than a drone. Most of the time, they were repurposed fighters who were looking to extend their career.
“I can’t,” Casca cried through gritted teeth as the waterworks began to erupt from her face. “I can’t go back, Frank! I just can’t! You have to believe me; the people we worked for are not good people. Just look at Hohner and Lutein, they would have burned all of Konats to the ground until they found me.”
“They were sent to bring you home,” Frank tried to reason. “I was there. Why’d you attack people who actually care about you is beyond me,” the Android confessed, looking at Casca’s family in the background.
“They tried to kill me, Frank! They left me with no choice! Just like you are now! Frank, I love you but I’m not going back. It’s up to you if this conversation continues but you know my answer.” Casca tried to wipe the look of pain from her face. “When we were kids, you promised me you’d hold on to your humanity.” Casca raised her hands to plead with the Android. “I believed in you! You were one of the good ones!”
“Let me prove to you that I still am,” the Android said, once again extending a hand to Casca. She didn’t accept. “I will not lose you again,” he paused to expose the explosive built into his midsection, “and the Company has made sure of it. I have been instructed to bring you back, alive. Anything short of that objective will result in termination. Taking me and this world with it.”
Jotaro helped his brother to his feet before siding with Casca. “Fat chance, Frankie. I haven’t known her long but she isn’t going anywhere with you.”
“I got this,” Casca growled. “If it’s a fight he wants, then it’s a fight he got,” committing to her decision, Casca began to stretch her shoulders.
“You were right, our decisions are not our own,” Frank bowed to Casca in reverence. Extending his arm, his fist quickly shifted into that of a barrel. As the muzzle flashed, Casca raced to prevent the Android from hurting anyone else. The Android’s attack whistled over the party before she could reach its point of creation. With two arms on the Android’s arm-gun, Casca tried to pin the android’s arm to the sky. She could hear the robotic arm attempting to compensate.
Still, in a disadvantaged state, Casca worked to change her position with a good amount of force to her opponent’s elbow. Her attack was successful at collapsing the android’s arm but now she found herself at the business end of the barrel. Frank attempted to fire on Casca, narrowly missing with the first attempt before she snapped his wrist, causing the next to erupted in his hand.
Throwing Casca from the Android’s proximity, she quickly rebounded to her feet and waited for the dust to clear. And when it did, the Android remained, standing where he started. He endured the blast, but not without a cost. Casca fought the feeling of nausea as she looked, terrified by the grotesque appearance of her former friend with half of his face missing.
Entering striking distance, Casca tried to dissociate her feelings for who Frank was and who he’s been programmed to become. She attempted to bombard Frank first with a right hook but it was poorly telegraphed. While no one would call them instincts, the Android’s defective arm moved to the location for a successful block before Casca’s own attack knew where it was going.
The Android’s memory of previous encounters with Casca allowed him to predetermine the outcome of most of her attacks before she made them. Holding the defensive stance, Frank launched his own haymaker to the Saiyan’s side.
Casca, surprised by the Android’s reaction time, wrenched down over the Android’s fist with her arm and pulled him towards her. Winding up momentum from her torso, Casca unleashed a massive headbutt to the Android’s already damaged skull.
The android fell a step back as he made sense of what just happened. Following up the attack with a closed fist backhand to the chest cavity of Frank, Casca powered up a violet Ki sphere with her free hand. Now realizing his mistake, the Android threw his shoulders forward and his two arms split into four.
Casca fired the violet sphere from almost point blank range but the Android was prepared. Moving more like an animal than a human Android, Frank outstretched his two upper arms and reclined back on the other two. He caught the blast and redirected it by flipping his body with the help of his grounded hands. The attack blew through the cookout, narrowly missing Casca’s extended family.
Raising her fists, Casca prepared for the worse as the two centered themselves before resuming battle. This time, the Android initiated, attempting to grab the smaller opponent with all four of his arms. Casca ducked the assault, leaving her flat-footed as Frank followed through with an elbow and fist, using both right limbs.
The Android’s technique caught the Saiyan off guard, allowing her the time to block only one of the incoming attacks. Choosing her face, Casca tanked the elbow to her torso. The strike was powerful, sending Casca skipping backward through the party, crashing through tables as she went.
Picking a piece of pizza off her face, Casca had enough time to react before two Ki blasts were sent her way. After-imaging out of conflict, Casca reappeared behind the Android and immediately closed in on him. The Android once again reacted instantaneously, launching a barrier behind him without turning to acknowledge his target.
Disintegrating the barrier, the Android pinned the Saiyan to the ground. Even with half of his face missing, Casca thought she saw remorse as Frank tried to subdue her.
Never the less, fighting to free herself, Casca roared with emotion as her body began to radiate with Ki. The debris around the fighters began to rumble as Frank’s scanner showed Casca’s power growing exponentially. Her body began to emit heat as she screamed to break free.
Feeling her power, Frank’s robotic arms began to shake as he struggled to keep Casca restrained. The gears within his body viciously cycled back and forth trying to maintain his advantage. Exhaust billowed from the android as he started to fail in battle.
Frank’s voice lost more and more of its humanity as he struggled on, “Casca! Stand Down! If my systems go into Overdrive, the Company will have assumed I have failed and terminate us all. The device inside of me has the power to take the live's of everyone here! Everyone will die,” Frank begged.
“If you care so much about me, Frank,” Casca screamed back at him, “then eliminate the threat! Take the lead, make the call! Do it” Livid with emotion, her body pulsated with electricity as she continued to repel the Android.
Frank’s vision grew distorted as he stared down at Casca, his artificial body pushed well beyond its limits. The Android attempted to plead one more time before all the various vents in his exterior began spewing dark smoke. Screaming to his former comrade to ceasefire, Frank felt the device inside of him come to life.
The lights of the party began to cycle on and off as the smoke billowed from the Android, densely filling the atmosphere and bringing the visibility of the two fighters to a zero.
And, out of the black, something almost beautiful happened. The sounds of shifting metal replaced the cries of before, as a bright golden silhouette, with broad wings, shown forth through the clouds.