Description: If you have to ask, the answer is always yes.
Tran(?) gives Tran a few long seconds, in the wake of the third finger, to muster some sort of reply. He takes the opportunity to lift his head back up and scan the caldera; the emerging lava, the awakening Tikis, the fleeing forms of Lightning Spangles and her Hoedown Dillo. They are all... background noise. This has been dangled in front of him, so cruelly, by his so-called 'masters'. He will not be denied it now.
When Tran fails to muster a response, Tran(?) continues, "Do you se-se-se-see? Only a little stim-stimulus, and you are be-be-beaten." To help draw the comparison home, the copy lifts his left hand to over Tran's face, and then raises his right to it. He grasps his middle finger, and as casually as if he were tearing off a bandage, breaks it, bending it so far backwards that the nail - or what's left of it, beneath the burns - touches his wrist.
"I feel no pa-pain," Tran(?) explains. "I feel no pity. I feel no remorse. I can-can-can-cannot be stopped." He lowers his hands to his sides, and bends down to lock eyes with Tran again. "I am the next step of ev-evolution. I am the result of artificial selection. You are a dead-dead-dead-dead end. There is only one path open to you..."
Tran straightens up again, and lifts his foot once more, this time raising it into the air over Tran's head. "... to go ex-ex-extinct," he hisses. Behind him, suddenly, Tran can see the looming form of a Tiki--
-- and then a rapidfire series of explosions fills the volcano's slowly flooding caldera, as a matte black helicopter rises suddenly over the ridge, a chaingun mounted on its nose flaring to life. Streams of tracer rounds carve paths through the air as the helicopter rains gunfire upon the Tikis around Tran(?), first the one directly behind him - which explodes gloriously into wooden shards - and then laying down supressing fire on the ones slowly moving to swarm him.
INSIDE THE HELICOPTER
"This is /not/ a good time, RT," scowls Kirsten Geary into a microphone handset. "Tak's awake, and we only have so long to get at him. Plus-- just, please don't do a murder on camera? That takes so much paperwork to get rid of."
She takes a moment to light a cigarette, and then adds, "Okay, just get freshened up and go get Tak. Ciao-ciao."
Tran(?) slowly turns to survey the Tikis only barely being kept at bay, and then looks back down at Tran. After a few seconds, he lowers himself into a squat, and reaches down to wrap his hands around Tran's neck, pulling his head up off the ground. The pressure is firm, but not quite... lethal.
Now, he decides, is as good a time as any to test out the... additions... he has been making to himself. All he needs is...
"Bring it out," commands the man(?). "The po-po-power inside of yo-you." When that doesn't immediately work, Tran(?) smashes his forehead into Tran's nose, and suddenly screams, voice full of fury and distorted like someone was wailing on a guitar pedal, "BRING IT OUT!!" The spike of emotion is as terrifying as it is confusing.
Through the haze of pain, Dr. Tran cannot even register what is happening around him. Lava, ancient war gods, the tearful death of the Hoedown Dillo...even if he did, who really gives a shit? None of /them/ are systematically destroying his body, although certainly if it weren't for the actions of the Showup Hoedown posse he would not be here, exhausted beyond his limits, pushed further than he's even been pushed before.
As Tran(?)'s flesh continues to slough off in great burning globs, as he monologues and demonstrates his mechanical superiority, the real doctor receives the small mercy that comes with nerves so burnt as to be completely killed, patches of numbness notable for being one of the few places where he is not in some form of agony, mild or intense. Regardless, he sucks in constant, ragged breaths, his screams shorter and softer now, because the pain is no longer spiking; simply maintaining.
And still, all the doctor can wonder is why he is alive, why he is not yet dead, why he has not yet been released from this robot hell. It is difficult for him to recognize Tran(?)'s foot raising up above him, but when he does it is a welcome sight.
Anything to make it stop.
But it doesn't. Gunfire rains across the crater, the foot comes down elsewhere. Mercy remains but a faint wish, distant and unattainable. And then a burning metal skull crashes into Tran's face and makes everything that much worse, blood spattering in every direction like a gruesome firework. It's impossible to focus, almost impossible to think about what this monster is screaming at him. But as gore drips down Tran's face, the words slowly sink in, and he comes to a realization. This, this might be his way out, if he just gives Tran(?) what he wants, maybe then it will end.
Unable to move, unable to form a coherent sentence, Dr. Tran nonetheless reaches inside himself, draws on power that he himself does not comprehend, power that he's been able to adroitly manipulate with strength and finesse that should have been impossible, for as long as he can remember. He knows it intimately, better even than his own body, but does not know how he knows.
At his faint call, it responds, weak in turn. Wisps of steam, faint and ethereal, trickle out of his body. Directionless, they quickly vanish into nothingness to no effect, but they are there. And Dr. Tran manages to croak out a single word, a desperate plea.
Tran(?) may not be able to feel it in the way that most Fighters can, but he can sense it none the less; the power that wells up within Tran, even as broken as he already is. He releases Tran's throat and straightens up again, lifting his own hands to stare at them. The horribly burned man(?) takes a deep and unnecessary breath through his nose, as within him, seals of his own devising - seals to keep his creators ignorant of his progress - are released.
Tran(?) answers the steam rising out of Tran with his own, but where the fallen Doctor's is a faint trickle, Tran(?)'s is a geyser. Steam boils out of his skin in amounts greater than any he produced during the tournament, spreading into an obscuring mist around the two men. Only Tran is treated to the sight of Tran(?)'s flesh boiling and melting away completely, shedding off in thick slabs and rivulets of goop, to reveal beneath them... brilliant, shining steel, embossed with faint musculature. His hair, his face, his teeth, all burn away, and in their wake is more steel.
The transformation only takes a few seconds, and when it's done, Tran(?) is revealed for what he truly is.
"DO NOT DEBASE YOURSELF FURTHER," Roo-Tran suggests, looking emotionlesly down at Tran. The hitch in his voice is gone, but so is any trace of humanity; his mouth moves, but what comes out is not natural at all, being instead pointedly electronic and synthesized. "INSTEAD, REJOICE, AS YOU OBSERVE THE BIRTH OF MY TRUE FORM."
ON THE HELICOPTER
"Okay, I'm not even going to have ths argument right now," Kirsten Geary says crossly into her handset. "If you want to walk around looking like a robot at home, that's fine, but as long as there are camera crews here I'm going to need you to cover yourself up."
Robo-Tran shoots a look up at the helicopter circling above himself and his so-called 'original', just as it sweeps down to float lower to the ground, replacing Robo-Tran's smokescreen of steam with one of debris and dust. He scowls. "IT IS REGRETTABLE WHEN WE ARE FORCED TO HIDE OUR TRUE NATURES, IS IT NOT? IF I AM TO EXCEED YOU, THEN LET ME EXCEED YOU." As he speaks, however, he lifts one hand, and... pulls his torso open, revealing an enormous cavity. He reaches inside and pulls out a square of folded black fabric. With a snap, he unfolds it to reveal... an old, clearly long-worn hoodie, bearing the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu logo.
"BUT SO BE IT," Robo-Tran muses. He pulls the hood up over his head and pulls the string tight, and only then does the helicopter lift back higher into the air; the debris settles, and the camera crews can once again see... but, from a distance, all it seems is that one of the Trans has been revealed to be a cyborg, and also, put on a hoodie.
"WHAT YOU MUST UNDERSTAND," Robo-Tran says, squatting down to address Tran again, "IS THAT TRUE SALVATION - FROM PAIN, FROM SUFFERING, FROM DEATH - IS BEYOND YOUR REACH. IT IS TO NEVER HAVE BEEN. EVEN I CANNOT GRANT YOU THAT. BUT I CAN GRANT YOU THE CLOSEST THING..."
"... TO DIE SOON."
"BUT FIRST," Robo-Tran continues after a pregnant pause, rising to his feet again. "I WILL SHOW YOU WHAT IT IS TO KILL A GOD." He turns to face the stone idol, come to life... and, slowly, begins to approach him.
Though still helpless against his tormentor, once again Tran is released, head thumping dully against the ash below. His steam, still trickling out, is quickly subsumed and effectively obliterated by the torrent emerging from his double. Ash turns to mud, thick with water and blood. Dr. Tran lays in it and watches, watches as the image of himself is boiled away into nothingness, leaving behind only cold, unfeeling steel.
He does not, as commanded, rejoice; instead, he finds himself curiously numb. Perhaps it is the comfort of resting in the center of a cloud of steam, perhaps it is simply that he has become too worn out to even feel anymore; indeed, as Robo-Tran's emotionless voice crackles out, Tran feels curiously empty. He does not understand what is happening, if ever he even did.
The bizarre sight of Robo-Tran putting on a hoodie, though the finer details yet escape him, waxing philosophical, is simply too absurd. Tran, despite all his years of experience with the strange and unnatural, does not know how to react, how to feel.
And so, for the first time he can recall, Dr. Richard Tran feels nothing. The pain, through present and intense, merely belongs to his body; he is seperate from it. He is seperate from his emotions, ever-turbulent and unchecked. They are not his; he simply watches, an observer, as Robo-Tran walks away, promising deicide.
Tran simply watches as his body, broken and mangled, rolls over and begins to crawl. Broken fingers bend against the ash, seeking purchase heedless of the agony of the flesh, pulling the rest of him inch by agonizing inch.
In the end, the only thing left behind is a trail of damp, dark red volcanic mud, winding its way through the broken barrel wreckage and flaming car debris until it disappears over the lip of the volcano.
Log created on 18:50:55 02/24/2015 by Tran, and last modified on 20:29:28 02/24/2015.