rec.arts.anime.misc New Year’s Challenge 2007

Review of Teams

Easy – Team Manly Pink
*Dan Hibiki, Street Fighter series, Marvel versus Capcom 2
*Kirby, Nintendo, Super Smash Bros. Melee
*Luigi, Nintendo, Luigi’s Mansion (equipment: flashlight, Poltergust 3000, Game Boy Horror)

Medium – Team Unfair Advantage
*Seta Soujirou, Rurouni Kenshin, post Kyoto
*Snake, Metal Gear Series, post Sons of Liberty (equipment: tranq gun, cardboard box, cigarettes)
*Zhuge Liang, styled Kongming, Dynasty Warriors series, circa Battle of Chi Bi (starting stats and weapon, no extra equipment)

Hard – Team Pyrrhic Victory
*Alexander Anderson, Hellsing, post anime debut
*Legato Bluesummers, Trigun, right before he snuffs it in the anime
*Xelloss, Slayers Try, post series


Prelude

The door opens before I can insert my key and I blink as I see a smiling Xelloss greet me. “Hello again! I hope next year you move into a bigger apartment, especially if you’re going to do three teams!”

I try to see past him, but he blocks my view every time. “What?” Then realization dawns, and I start to feel just a bit faint. “Don’t tell me everyone arrived at once.”

“Of course they did! What else can you expect of a New Year’s Challenge?” He smiles at me. “But don’t worry, keeping the peace isn’t
one of the tasks this time.”

“Xelloss-san.” Belldandy is now looming behind Xelloss, a stern expression on her face. As he cringes beneath her holy aura and loving disapproval, she turns her attention towards me and smiles. “Don’t worry, I have everything under control.”

Somehow I fail to feel reassured at all.

Introductions are made all around, but other than Dan, Xelloss, Kongming and Kirby everyone pretty much stays to themselves. Belldandy doesn’t just serve as the peacekeeper, but also translator and volunteer cook when she discovers that my idea of a well-balanced meal is crackers and ramen. She also pulls me aside and warns me about Marller, as I’m the only one who shows any recognition of the world she hails from and is worried that most of my team-members would not be able (or willing, in Team Pyhrric Victory’s case) to help.

“Because of Yggsadril’s situation, my powers are insufficient to help much, I’m afraid.” She looks apologetic.

I smile. “You’re already a great help, Belldandy.”

As the apartment is far too small to house thirteen people for an entire week, I decide to register us into NewYearCon so that we would have something to do during the day.

Little did I know that this would be the beginning of a long, long seven days.

(Assuming Japanese manga-Marller below.)


Easy Mission – Save the Cosplay Catpeople!

It’s the new year. You’ve assembled your team and are awaiting the challenge. Your town was hosting the first ever NewYearCon, a week long event that will ring in 2007 like nothing else, and that’s when all hell broke loose. At the morning’s festivities, someone took all the catgirl and catboy cosplayers hostage, and is threatening to “Spay and Neuter” them if his demands are not met. Some of which are 1) a football helmet full of cottage cheese, 2) a 2 gallon ziploc bag of M&Ms, all the brown ones removed, and 3) naked pictures of Bea Arthur. We don’t know if it was the umpteenth “Bring Me To Life” AMV or ManFaye offering him a lapdance, no one’s pointing fingers here…

Your tems must bring about a successful resolution to this event.

Curse me and my affinity for felines.

Those of you following along at home knows the story by now, right? Crazy otaku guy, a list of bizarre demands that kept getting weirder the further along it went, and a roomful of hostages—of which I am one, because Xelloss somehow finagled me into it. (Although I have to admit I was rather flattered when my guests all declared that I was “socute”.)

My ‘reward’ for making a snarky remark at my captor is to bring the list of demands to the negotiator at the door, who is standing alongside my team. I’m not going to question the logic of what they’re doing there—I need them to get me (and the rest of the hostages, of course) out of there.

I. Team Manly Pink

“—and don’t try anything funny!” A voice from the back declares. “I can hear you!”

“Who’s Bea Arthur?” Luigi wanted to know when I give him and Dan the task of collecting as many items on the list as they could find, and helping the negotiator talk with the hostage taker in between trips.

“Wikipedia is your friend,” I answer, bringing up the link on a nearby laptop.

Dan boggled. “Dan has met many strange people, but this guy is definitely way off the deep end!”

“Quiet, or you’ll make things worse!” I make a subtle pointing motion towards the auditorium at Kirby and he understands at once. When I re-enter the group of hostages I’m accompanied by a small pink puffball using its tiny size to remain undetected.

The list is fulfilled bit by bit, with Luigi and Dan entering alternately and giving the worst shonen-retard-esque speeches I have ever heard in my life—although to be fair, Luigi did strike a bit of a chord with the hostage taker with his talks about always being second banana and Dan made all of us laugh with his Saikyo Style Diplomacy.

As this goes on Kirby locates the bomb that had been planted by the hostage taker to keep the police from charging in and taking over—and when the hostage taker tries to make a run for it, he gets a quick visit to the insides of Kirby’s stomach as well.

After he gets regurgitated, he quite wisely decides that he prefers prison.

II. Omake – Team Unfair Advantage
(Ahaha quite unfair indeed. Any of the team members could solo and I’d still pass with flying colors.)

It’s evident that Kongming already has a plan of action when I hand him the list, for I don’t see Snake or Soujirou anywhere. “Worry not; everything is within the palm of my hand,” he tells me in Chinese (ah, the advantage of being fluent in more than one language).

On my way back I almost trip over a cardboard box that seems to have appeared out of nowhere.

Well, you should know the rest of the story: Snake disables the bomb with ease, Soujirou speedninjas the hostage taker and scares him shitless, Kongming smirks and gloats about how awesome he is in his usual roundabout mysterious manner. I almost feel sorry for the guy for messing with this group.

III. Omake – Team Pyhrric Victory
(In reality, this would most likely end in complete disaster, but I’m an immature sore loser, so.)

Xelloss just smiles his eerie smile at me when I approach. “I think it’s time to collect on the loan of goodwill you’ve been taking out over the past few years, don’t you think?”

Sigh, I must be some sort of masochist for picking this team. “I’m all for repaying debts, but what about Belldandy?”

“What about her?” Xelloss’ tone is flippant, but his cheerful visage has begun to crack just a bit.

“C’mon, Xelloss, do I have to spell it out for you?” I cross my arms. “You’re the smart one, figure out a solution that doesn’t upset Belldandy but can still satisfy your penchant for dastardly deeds.”

Xelloss pouts. “That’s cheating.”

“What’s taking so long over there?” The hostage taker demands.

“Gimme a minute! Naked pictures of Bea Arthur aren’t exactly available over Google Images!” I yell back.

Xelloss raises a finger. “Actually—”

I sigh. “Look, at least start getting some of this stuff together, alright? If you really want me to be the one to come up with a plan I need some time first.”

Xelloss is back to smiles again as he catches me worrying over all the ways everything could go wrong in the worst way possible. “Take as much time as you like, but I can’t guarantee when the Spanish Inquisition—” He nods towards Legato and Anderson, who are locked in a contest of wills, “—might jump the gun.”

“Remember Belldandy,” I warn as I head back inside.

After that, it becomes a game of chicken between me and Xelloss to see which one of us would crack first. I don’t care too much about a bloodbath, since I don’t need to resolve the hostage crisis with this team; the only thing on the line for me is my pride. And although the Wrath of Belldandy ™ isn’t something to be trifiled with, I have a feeling Xelloss would be willing to endure it if it meant some extra murder and mayhem.

Meanwhile, Xelloss is at least honorable enough to fulfill the items on the list, although he of course takes his sweet time and does it in a fashion that also frustrates the hostage taker—the cheese in the helmet is made of foam, the M&Ms have all been in someone’s mouth, etcetera and so forth.

“Ooh, that does it!” The man screams when he discovers that the naked pictures of Bea Arthur are photoshopped. He snatches me up and points a surgical knife to my throat. “It’s spaying time!”

What, no anesthesia? I almost ask out loud, but think better of it.

That’s when the back wall implodes. Panic ensues as smoke and dust billows into the room.

“Anderson, you idiot!” I scream, as he’s the only one on my team who would bother with such an entrance. “He’s got a bomb!”

Except the man holding me hostage isn’t pressing the trigger, but collapsed on the floor gasping for air. It doesn’t take me long to spot Legato standing among the chaos, his expression unreadable.

“Aren’t you going to stop him?” Xelloss asks, appearing next to me and surveying the scene.

“Aren’t you?” I ask in return, stepping over the man as I leave the room. “Hey, thanks,” I say to Legato when I pass him.


Medium Challenge – Thwart Marller!

Once you’ve summoned your team, you realize you are now face to face  with  5 people, not 3.  Two additional people have shown up.  Keichi Morisato  and Belldandy are holding a note for you which reads as follows, “To The  Summoner,  I, the All Father, am leaving these two in your care.  The  Yggdrasil crew is in the process of debugging their particular dimension,  and since they are currently the major cause of the bugs, this seems the  simplest solution.  We will retrieve them in approximately one week.”  Belldandy also states that in the process of coming here, she sensed  something ominous came along as well.  She was right.  Across town,  Marller/Mara was just released from her CD.  Your challenge is simple,  survive the week without Belldandy saving your butts.  She will not intentionally  lead the fight against Marller/Mara, but she will not sacrifice her or  Keichi’s life.

After the catpeople crisis is averted, I decide to tackle finding Marller next—while she does like antagonizing the Goddesses, in general she doesn’t show up until after her nefarious plans have succeeded, and Belldandy has vague senses of a bigger threat looming; I would have enough trouble solving that particular challenge without demonic interference. I gather my team and we head out, a plan of action  forming in my mind.

I. Omake – Team Manly Pink
(Wow, Dan and Luigi actually get to be useful! Hurrah! XD)

“Anything on the Game Boy Horror yet, Luigi?” I ask as I get out of the car. His instruments should be able to pick up supernatural objects, and perhaps Marller might consider us a tempting enough target, too.

He shakes his head. “No, nothing yet.”

Dan rolls out of the car, flexing his muscles in a triumphant gesture as he rights himself. “Oosha! No creature of darkness is a match against the might of the Saikyou Ryu! Yosh!”

It takes quite a bit of self control to stop myself from laughing, but I do appreciate Dan’s presense. His undiminishable exuberance and optimism should give Marller quite the headache if she were in the area.

Meanwhile, Kirby is tasting everything he can get his mouth on to see if he can gain any interesting new powers. I don’t know how useful his skills would be against a demonness, but it’s always good to have his kind of firepower around just in case.

It takes quite a bit of roaming through town, but Luigi does manage to locate the Demon CD. At this, Marller can no longer stay hidden and challenges us to a contest of wills. While Dan distracts her with taunting, I play the System of a Down mix disc that I never did quite get around to giving back to my little brother and turn up the volume. As Marller is unable to stop herself from dancing to “Toxcitiy”, I call Belldandy on the phone for a consultation for what to do about her (and by extension, the discs).

One bicker-and-haggle session later, Marller has left the mortal plane, though she isn’t happy about it, and the two discs are returned to wherever they’re being stored when they’re not out being a plot point.

II. Team Unfair Advantage
(Ooh, this one might actually be the hardest challenge from a technical point of view!)

After I go over Marller’s abilities and weaknesses, I begin discussing an actual plan of action. “Of course we need to find Marller first. And I’d prefer we do that before she does anything nefarious.”

Kongming is also thoughtful. “Perhaps I can conduct a ritual to ask the local spirits.”

Snake shrugs. “Otacon’s the guy who’s good at building strange contraptions, not me.”

Soujirou is clueless, playing DDR and singing along with the music. “What am I gonna do/if I cannot get through/counting all these freckles in my life?”

I didn’t like the idea of using ourselves as bait, but so far that seemed to be the one option available. “Belldandy, Keichi, I don’t know whether or not Marller will try to target you, so would you accompany us while we make preparations?”

Belldandy smiles. “Of course, we’d be glad to.”

I turn to Snake. “Snake, since we can’t all fit in my car I’m going to leave you here. If Mara shows up, call me on my cell phone right away.”

He nods. “Will do.” As I pry a reluctant Soujirou from the television, he begins thumbing through the games I rented.

Marller interrupts our shopping trip before we can even leave the parking lot. “Feh, this won’t even be a challenge!”

Kongming raises an eyebrow and points to Soujirou. “Is that so? Why, I bet you wouldn’t even be able to lay a finger on this young man here!”

“We’ll see about that!” Marller rushes Soujirou, only to be sidestepped. “What the—?”

Kongming clicked his tongue. “What sort of demonness are you, if a mere mortal gives you this much trouble?”

“Whee, this is fun!” Soujirou declares, keeping himself a half a step ahead of Marller.

I step out of the car. “All right, Keichi, change of plans. You and Belldandy go back to my place and get Snake. You won’t have problems finding your way, right?”

“What about you?” Belldandy asks, worried.

“I’ll be fine.”

“But—” She stops herself and smiles at me. “Of course. Be careful, all right?”

While Soujirou (and Kongming) provide distraction, I sneak past Marller into the mall and by as many good luck charms as I can get my hands on, as well as the largest stereo system I can fit into a shopping cart and the first rock compilation CD I come across. I make it back outside just in time to see Marller lose her temper and charge up a magical spell.

Grabbing the good luck charms, I leave the stereo behind a car and circle around to Marller’s back. “Soujirou! Catch!”

Soujirou’s fast enough to get the magical charms from me, but he’s too late to stop Marller from casting. The last thing I see before my vision goes dark is a half dozen or so charms fly onto Marller’s body via Soujirou’s godspeed.

Afterwards, Snake fills me in on what I missed – he arrived on the scene to find me turned into a lime green new model Beetle, Soujirou pasting charms on Marller like crazy, and Kongming deducing the purpose of the stereo system. One quick expository scene later, Marller was immobilized via the power of music and it didn’t take much more convincing to have her turn me back.

III. Omake – Team Pyhhric Victory
(Dude, Marller doesn’t stand a chance.)

Xelloss pauses in the middle of the sidewalk and turns around, shaking a finger at me. “Is there something you’re not telling us?”

I scoff. “It’s not like you haven’t noticed.”

“Indeed. The air reeks with an aura most foul, and I don’t mean the two monsters here,” Anderson growls.

I sigh. “Listen, all we need to do is survive the week without requiring Belldandy to use her magic. I think Marller’s smart enough to not mess with the likes of you three, and as long as we keep a close eye over Keichi we’ll be fine.”

“But where’s the fun in that?” Xelloss makes a melodramatic gesture. “I was all looking forward to the Judas Priest here being transformed into the Popemobile!”

That, I admit, does make me laugh a bit. “Tempting, but no.”


Hard Challenge – Save the Spider, Save the World!

I don’t know how many of you are aware that Spiderman had his own live  action show in Japan, but someone from last year, The Robot Controller, is  enough of an otaku to know that.  He escaped from wherever he was at, and  decided to cobble together his own summoning device.  He summoned  Spiderman, along with the Spider GP-7 he was driving at the time as gear,  the space battleship Marveller, which turns into the giant robot Leopaldon, and then he  stupidly hit the “Random” button.  NEVER HIT THE  RANDOM BUTTON!  His third character was also drawn from Stan Lee’s  creation, however, it was a bit more recent…the Carnage symbiote, before it merged with Kletus Cassidy.  Upon summoning, the symbiote mergers with Spiderman, to form Spider-Carnage, and the insanity of the  merger causes Spider-Carnage to kill the Robot Controller, wreck his lab,  and remove the one thing that could undo what happened.  Your team must  stop Spider-Carnage from destroying the world.  A time traveler, named  Hiro shows up and tells you, “The future I am from, Spider-Carnage wasn’t  stopped.  His robot was almost defeated, and it decided to punch a nuclear  warhead to go out with a bang.  The ravaged land I am from is a nightmare worse  than any of your post-apocalyptic movies.  I must tell you, ‘Save  the Spider, Save the World!'”

Partial wins will be awarded to those who defeat Spider-Carnage and his  robot.  Full wins to those who can redeem Spiderman.

“You do realize you’ve just introduced a time paradox,” I mutter, pinching the bridge of my nose. “But you’re right, that thing does need to be stopped.” I draw in a long breath. “Boy, this isn’t going to be fun.”

“Time paradox?” Hiro repeats, before he understands what I’m talking about. “Oh, no! I may have jeopardized the very future I wish to save!”

“It depends on how the rules work where you’re from, I suppose.” I pat him on the shoulder. “But let’s not worry about the implications until after we kick his butt.”

I. Omake – Team Manly Pink

Do I really even need to ‘fic about the disaster that ensues? Kirby (and Hiro, if he’s in a condition to help) are the only ones who stand any kind of chance against the giant robot, and after that, I have no idea how to deal with Carnage-Spidey. Maybe if we can find someplace that has some serious high-end audio equipment, Dan can taunt Carnage into submission? And perhaps the Poltergust 3000 can suck up and hold an alien symbiote?

Right, and I’m the tooth fairy.

To review: Robot destroyed, yes. Carnage defeated, a very big maybe. Spidey saved, I’d say no.

II. Omake – Team Unfair Advantage

A giant nuclear robot piloted by a superhero possessed by an alien symbiote? Sounds like Snake’s kind of day! Except he doesn’t have any weapons other than the tranq gun, so we’ll have to detour somewhere and get Snake a weapons permit. Hopefully I can find my gun fanatic buddies and have them put together an arsenal that works.

Battoru for Everlasting Peace goes here! Kongming, as usual, provides tactical and occasional laser support (Koei, how I love thee, let me name the ways). Soujirou is fast enough to take out the Carnage-possessed Spidey, and if Hiro is able to help as well, then he might be able to time-freeze Carnage before he skip hosts.

To review: Robot destroyed, yes, because Snake is made of win like that. Carnage defeated, yes. Spidey saved, maybe.

III. Team Pyhrric Victory
(Ahaha. Um. I’ll let you decide the fate of the world on this one.)

“Oh, my. What brilliant plan do you have this time?” Xelloss ponders, looking happy to a rather disturbing degree. Anderson’s already charged ahead to do battle with the robot, destroying whatever happens to be in their path.

“Well, Anderson’s bound to win sooner or later, and he’d probably be able to take on Carnage-Spidey too.” I finish running scenarios in my head and come to a decision. “And after that, it’s just a matter of who Carnage gets to first.” I am gambling on the fact that my teammates hate each other enough to destroy the possessee, but a handful of deaths was preferable to the world going into a nuclear winter.

Xelloss reads my mind and raises an eyebrow. “Aren’t you worried that we’re going to thwart your plans?”

I shrug. “Well, serves me right for running up your tab, right?”

After one Exciting Battle Sequence that I’m too lazy to describe, the giant robot is scrap and Carnage-Spidey descends on the scene, pissed that someone dared to interrupt his fun.

“Can’t let Mr. Anderson there have all the fun,” Xelloss mused. He smiled at Legato. “Shall we dance?”

“All you need to do is subdue Spiderman, not kill him!” I reminded him as he took off.

“Well, nonlethal force would be more challenging.” Xelloss smiled again. “Leave it to me.”

I follow along behind, being sure to stay as low key as possible. By the time I get there, poor Spiderman has been beaten within an inch of his life, and Carnage is sloughing off him, unable to believe that it has lost.

I draw in a breath. Well, only one shot at this, after all.

Xelloss makes no effort to stop me as I make my move, just smiling his enigmatic smile. “See you next year, Miss Warner.”

With one fantastic lunge, Carnage attempts to possess Legato, but I leap into his path—

Was the world saved? Who knows? Who cares?

This body isn’t as powerful as the old one, but beggars can’t be choosers, after all. And there seems to be some sort of hidden power called “Meta” that needs to be looked into.

Oh, and one more thing.

Bill? We need to talk~~

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