[personal profile] tangaroa

I ficced up some background on the referee Starman, a minor character. I had wanted to tell his story in Season 1 but decided it wasn't a good fit, so this will probably all get cut. I could work it into Season 2.

Master Wu and Starboy and the Stolen Rice Ball

Scene: Marketplace

Master Wu walked towards a market stand where a small crowd had gathered.

"Master Wu! Master Wu!" Starboy shouted from inside the small prison he was held in, a barred box of the sort used to transport monkeys.

Master Wu nodded toward the imprisoned Starboy and continued toward the local authority, his nemesis Master Wang. "What did he do now?" Wu calmly asked.

Master Wang gestured toward Starboy. "He tried to steal a rice ball from one of my men."

"I was gonna pay for it!" Starboy yelled. "I left my coinpurse at home! I was gonna go back and get it!"

Master Wu quietly took a coin from his own purse and placed it in Master Wang's hand.

Master Wang smiled. "Also, if we could have a little something for the time and trouble we had in dealing with him."

Master Wu placed his hands together and nodded respectfully toward Master Wang. "You have my gratitude for your troubles, and we would happily assist one of your men as you have assisted our own."

Master Wang took a deep breath. "Alright, I know this guy. We're not going to get anything else out of him." His men opened the cage and let Starboy out.

"Thank you, Master Wu!" Starboy hugged his master. "I'll pay you back when I find my coinpurse!"

Master Wu hesitated. "One more thing. I think I will try one of those sweetened rice balls that that Hong likes so much." He walked to the counter and gave a coin to the vendor. "I believe this will cover it."

The vendor looked at the coin with surprise. "That's worth ten of them."

"Keep the change, and may your business prosper." Master Wu smiled and took a rice ball, then left with Starboy at his side.

After they left the scene, Master Wang was bewildered. "Okay what just happened? His boy was stealing from us and now he comes out looking like the good guy? How does that work?"

One of his mooks talked from behind his shoulder. "Should I give the kid back his coinpurse?"

Master Wang waved his hand dismissively. "Nah, keep it."

Master Wu and Starboy visit the Emperor

Scene: The Emperor's Throne Room

The Emperor's throne stood distant in the great cavernous hall of the Emperor, so far away that the guests could hardly see the Emperor sitting on it.

One of the King's men escorted the accused to answer before the Emperor.

One of them was the elderly Master Wu, martial arts instructor and teacher of the path of Qing Feng, appearing elegant and respectful in his yellow and red robe.

Beside him was Master Wu's sidekick Hong, the Starboy, wearing the sign of a blue star on his shaved head. Legend had it that the boy fell from the stars. Master Wu found and adopted him, and he became the most eager and enthusiastic of Wu's students. The awe and grandeur of the great hall had temporarily left the boy silent.

The third and final visitor was their nemesis, the scheming Master Wang, master of a competing martial arts school, wearing gold and green robes and a green-painted coolie hat.

Sitting on his throne, the Emperor raised a bullhorn to his lips and announced, "You may now approach within 400 meters distance from the throne." The guests began walking forward. The Emperor lowered his bullhorn, had a thought, and raised it again. "Forget it. I'm going to get tired of yelling into this thing. Get up here. Come on." He waved them forward.

The guests began hustling toward the throne. The soldier jogged up at a steady pace. Master Wang hurried up with him, holding onto his hat to keep it from falling off. Master Wu was not in bad shape but his advanced age was slowing him down. Starboy skipped along with him, encouraging him. "Come on! You can do it, Master!"

The Emperor waited impatiently, drumming his fingers on the arm of his throne. The three accused huffed and wheezed from the exercise, with Wang taking off his hat to wipe his brow. The soldier held his composure because he had to or he would risk execution.

The Emperor turned to the soldier. "So, Lieutenant, what's the story here?"

The soldier kneeled. "Lord Emperor, these are the masters of the two martial arts schools whose brawling students have caused significant damage throughout one of the rural towns. I witnessed the damage myself, and the common people demanded the assistance of the Emperor's wisdom to put a stop to the fighting."

The Emperor took this in, then pointed to Master Wu. "Okay. You in the yellow, you go first."

Master Wu nodded, kneeled, and spoke graciously. "Lord Emperor, we are grateful for this audience."

"Get to the point," the Emperor sharply demanded.

Master Wu nodded. "Of couse. The fighting was most shameful and unnecessary, and I must admit that the students of my school are not without fault. However, the conflict has subsided, with the assistance of your men. Apologies have been issued, and there is no need for further Imperial involvement."

The guard answered that. "You two tore down half the town." The Emperor glared at him for speaking out of turn. He did not need to say a word. The guard apologised. "Sorry, Lord Emperor."

The Emperor turned to Master Wang. "You in the green. What's your side of the story?"

Master Wang removed his hat and stepped forward. "Uh, yeah. it's like this." He began waving his arms for emphasis as he spoke. "It's all Master Wu's fault."

"That's not right!" Starboy interjected.

"Kid," the Emperor commanded, "shut up." To Master Wang, he said "continue."

Master Wang continued. "This guy's always up in my business, telling my students what they can and can't do on their own time. My people are just trying to make a living."

The Emperor interrupted him. "Not by doing anything that is against Imperial law?"

Master Wang grinned guiltily and began sweating. "Heh heh. Of course not, Lord Emperor."

The Emperor rolled his eyes. "Continue."

Master Wang finished his argument. "So basically his people are starting trouble with my people, and my people call their friends and his people call their friends and it ends up in a big fight that rolls across the whole town, and what I'm trying to say is, it's all his fault."

The Emperor looked at the others. The guard was cautiously holding his tongue. Master Wu was holding onto Starboy's shoulder to calm him and hold him back. The Emperor asked Master Wu, "I suppose that you would dispute this testimony?"

"Yes, Lord Emperor." Master Wu replied.

"Very well." The Emperor sighed. "It is agreed that your two schools have caused a significant amount of destruction. You will now put your energies toward a more constructive effort. You will have a competition to rebuild the damage that your students have caused. The winner of this competition will be reimbursed for your labour and materials by the Imperial treasury."

Master Wang gleefully rubbed his hands. "All right! My boys can rush through this and be done long before you uptight losers!"

The Emperor continued. "Victory in the competition will be determined one year after the end of construction by Imperial guards who will inspect the sturdiness of each building and will also provide their own estimate of the labor and materials that were needed in the repairs."

Master Wang's face fell. "Aw, man! We're actually going to have to do the work and bill out accurately!"

Starman versus the Fire Woman

Scene: Outskirts of town

Now 19 years old and wearing an orange monk's robe, Starman walked toward a crowd at the edge of town. Everyone was staring at a pillar of smoke in the distance.

One villager said, "that is coming from the direction of Chun Li."

Another villager said, "that is Chun Li."

A third said, "Do you think the Fire Woman did it? Her cult has been burning towns all along the coastline."

A fourth said, "The Emperor's men will take care of them. They cannot ignore this any longer."

Scene: Battlefield

Starman and several companions looked over a battlefield where about sixty bodies lay on the ground.

One of his companions spoke. "It looks like the Emperor's men gave as good as they got."

Starman nodded. "We bury them all, with respect."

Scene: Master Wang's dojo

Master Wang was pleased. "Alright, there is no more Imperial detatchment! Time to break out the contraband!" His men started moving crates out from their hiding places. Master Wang glanced toward a window and saw Starman approach. "Put it back! Put it back!" His men rushed to hide the boxes again.

Starman entered. "Greetings, Master Wang."

Master Wang leaned back. "Starboy. You're awfully brave coming here alone. You know, Master Wu is not around to protect you anymore."

Starman calmly replied. "There is a need for bravery in these times."

Master Wang raised an eyebrow. "You're not thinking about attacking that fire cult?"

Starman nodded.

Master Wang laughed. "They already beat the Imperial guard. What are we going to do about it?"

Starman had a general suggestion. "Plan ahead, and strike at the right moment."

Master Wang recounted one of the rumours he had heard. "Do you know about their goddess, this Fire Woman? They say that she has powers. She can kill a person from across the room. She wants you dead? Bam, you're dead. You're not going to be seeing me doing anything stupid like trying to fight her. We'll just wait while the Emperor builds an army, sends it out. They'll wipe out that stupid cult like it's nothing."

"How long would that take?" Starman asked.

Master Wang shrugged. "I don't know. It could be a while."

Starman explained the need to act soon. "The fire cult is expanding its territory. They will be here before the Emperor's army is ready."

"Well..." Master Wang lazily considered this. "I'll make a deal with them. Pretend to bend the knee, and sit and wait until the army routes them."

Starman explained the futility of that idea. "Fire does not negotiate. Everything you have will burn with the rest of the town unless we defeat them first."

Master Wang gave this some thought. "Tell you what. Come back to me with thirty strong men, not counting any of your own people, and I'll consider it."

Scene: Tavern

Starman approached a man with a bandage on his body who was having a cup of tea at the bar. "You would not be one of the Emperor's men, would you?"

The man dismissed him. "Of course not."

Starman looked at his bandage. "Did you receive that wound while fighting the Cult of the Fire Woman?"

The man lifted his cup of tea. "I can't say that I did." He took a sip.

Starman knew of the man's concern. "They say that the penalty for running away from a battle is death."

The man nodded. "Yeah, they say that."

Starman continued. "What if one were to merely make a tactical withdrawal and return to the battlefield at a later time?"

The man turned and looked at Starman like he was crazy. "Then one would have to hope that the Emperor is in a very generous and forgiving mood that day."

Starman smiled. "I have met the Emperor, and he is generous and forgiving."

The man looked Starman over and was not impressed. "Do you think you have what it takes to take on the Fire Woman?"

Starman was confident. "I think _we_ have what it takes to take on the Fire Woman."

The man put down his cup of tea and stood up. "Show me what you've got."

Starman assumed a fighting stance. The soldier cautiously assaulted him with a few clumsy blows that Starman carefully blocked. Starman made a passing attempt to retaliate, which the soldier deflected. Having tested each other, the soldier now attacked in earnest, soon breaking through Starman's defenses and landing a fist to his temple that sent Starman falling back on his rump.

"You are weak," the soldier said dismissively, turning back to his tea as Starman sat on the floor and recovered his bearings.

"On the contrary," Starman said, "you are strong." He stood up and walked to the door. "Allow me to introduce you to some of my companions." He opened the door. In marched a dozen men, similarly dressed, carrying simple weapons derived from peasant tools. "We could use a few more strong men such as yourself, if you could help us find them."

The soldier looked them over. He took a sip of his tea.

Scene: Master Wang's dojo

Master Wang fell from his chair in surprise when he saw four fully armored members of the Imperial detatchment march into his dojo.

The soldiers pointed to his contraband. "We're going to need to confiscate that stuff. We'll be confiscating a lot of it once we're done kicking this Fire Woman back to wherever she came from."

Master Wang stood up. "Did Starboy put you up to this?"

The soldiers smiled. "That boy with the star on his head? Yeah, he's raising an army."

Scene: Town, outside Master Wang's dojo

Master Wang walked outside with the four soldiers and saw more people training for battle than he could count. Perhaps there were seventy of them? A few of his own men had already joined them, just for the fun of practicing. Then there were more people bringing food and water to the different fighters.

Starman was there. "Good day, Master Wang. This is what I have managed to gather so far. Several others have expressed an interest in joining but could not be here today."

Master Wang was honestly impressed. "This is impressive." He looked for any excuse to look poorly on Starman's efforts, and he settled on the porters. "Several of these people are women. Can they fight?"

Starman explained. "Those who cannot fight can carry supplies so that so those who can fight are not worn down by the march. There are many volunteers who lost their homes to the Fire Woman. Their desire for vengeance drives them to assist in any way that they can."

At that moment, they passed by an archery stand where a young woman fired an arrow into a target. Master Wang pointed to her. "She'll do." He turned back to Starman. "So, you said we need to plan ahead and strike at the right moment. Do we have a plan and a time to strike?"

Starman gave it some consideration. "We need to wait for a time when her army is on the march and she is not."

"Why bother waiting?" Master Wang asked. "We could trick them into leaving."

Scene: Stone Fort, outside

About eight guards stood outside a stone fort that had once served as an outpost for the Imperial Guard. They looked towards the west where the the sun was about an hour from setting. Beneath the sun's glare marched over a hundred angry villagers led by seven members of the Imperial Guard. The fort's guards opened the door to call inside for reinforcements.

Scene: Stone Fort, highest room

A bronze-skinned woman with long, straight black hair looked out from a window of the highest room at the top of the fort. She saw the peasant army charge towards the much smaller defensive line. She turned away from the window and retrieved a broad-brimmed hat.

Scene: Stone Fort, outside

The guards had reinforced their number to about twenty. They were all well armed and armored but they were heavily outnumbered.

Starman shouted out to the peasant army, "The way of Qing Feng is the way of the breeze. A hundred breezes is a typhoon. The wind blows in one direction at a time. Forward!"

The small number of archers fired a volley from the edges of the peasant army, taking down one guard. Then the rest rushed in. Most of the martial artists attempted to hold the guards off with long poles, deflect their weapons, or disarm them. The Imperial soldiers attempted to engage directly.

Two peasants ran a wooden table into one guard's spear and threw it aside. The peasants swarmed the unarmed guard and and wrestled him to the ground.

Starman pushed a guard's spear aside and kicked him down. The next guard over punched Starman in the face and he fell.

There was a cracking sound like a thunderbolt, and one of the Imperial soldiers fell dead. Then another, and another. Martial artists attempted to fill the gap but were pushed back.

An archer fired an arrow towards the top of the tower. She notched and aimed another arrow. There was another thundercrack, and she fell dead.

Rising to his knees, Starman saw the archer fall and knew that he had witnessed the Fire Woman's mysterious power. "She is here! We have almost won! Get inside quickly!" He jumped to his feet and moved forward as another crack was heard and a small puff of dust rose from the ground behind him.

Master Wang was dueling two swordsmen with his nunchucks. He caught one man's sword in his chain, spun it out of his hand, did the same for the other swordsman, and cracked them both in the chin, knocking them out. "That's how it's done." He led his men forward and pushed the defenders back.

Scene: Stone Fort, inside

The peasants pushed the few remaining guards back into the torchlit interior of the fort where another dozen guards stood in reserve. The guards formed a line to hold the peasants back.

The Fire Woman walked down to observe the fight. She sat in a stone chair at the back of the room, one leg over the side arm of the chair, showing the tough leather boots she was wearing. She adjusted her broad-rimmed leather hat, which had a silver five-pointed star pinned to its front, and watched.

Starman took another blow to the head and fell down again. His supporters helped him back to his feet.

Master Wang was the first to break through the defensive line. Foolishly, he stopped to talk to the Fire Woman. "So, you are the woman who calls herself a goddess."

The Fire Woman smiled. "The world will either bow to me, or burn."

Master Wang was doubtful. "To me, you look like any other woman with a strange hat. I'll trade you for mine." He pointed up to his green hat.

The Fire Woman shook her head. "That won't be happening."

Starman charged back into the fight and swung at a guard's helmet, his fist against metal. The metal crumpled and the guard fell. He approached the next guard. The star on his forehead began to glow.

Master Wang continued his dialogue with the Fire Woman. "They say that you have powers. Is it true?"

The Fire Woman put her boots on the ground and stood up. "I have traveled across the Great Eastern Ocean to study the martial arts of the Far East." She twirled her Colt SAA revolver in her hand and pointed it at Master Wang. "Would you like to see?"

"Maybe later." Master Wang took a step back.

Starman leaped in front of Master Wang and spread his arms wide, high and low. A magical star appeared between his arms, blocking the Fire Woman's shots. The Fire Woman's revolver clicked on the seventh, eighth, ninth pull of the trigger as its chambers were empty. Starman pushed his star down flat, hopped onto it, and flew forward as the Fire Woman hurried to reload. Behind him, one of the guards came in from the side to occupy Master Wang's attention.

Starman flew his star directly at the Fire Woman. She dived out of the way, ammunition falling from her hand, her ammo pouch, and her gun's chamber.

Starman jumped off the star which continued forward and crashed into the back wall, producing a short-lived shower of sparks.

The Fire Woman looked at her gun. She had one bullet left in her chamber. She closed it, stood up, adjusted her hat, and looked at Starman. "You have a star on your head. I have a star on my head. Maybe we are destined to rule the world together."

Starman would have none of that. "Your ways are not compatible with the path of Qing Feng."

The Fire Woman pointed her gun at him. "Then you can burn with the rest." She pulled the trigger and the gun clicked.

Starman started to move to the side. She fired again and her shot rang out, missing him. She tossed the weapon onto the chair so its weight would not bother her during the fight.

Starman attempted a direct attack. He noticed thin arcs of flame curling along the ground outward from the Fire Woman's feet, but did not hestitate to continue his attack. The Fire Woman skillfully deflected his blows, yet her concentration was not entirely on the fight. She was looking downward. Starman noticed. As she moved a free hand to a downward motion, Starman leaped into a high backflip and summoned his flying star. A pillar of flame erupted where he had been standing. He flew on his star in an arc around the Fire Woman as she held a palm toward him, unleashing a chain of fire that he barely outraced.

Master Wang ran up to join the fight, slipped on a bullet, and fell on his back on the stone floor, moaning in pain.

Holding onto the edge of his flying star with one hand, Starman held the palm of his other hand toward the Fire Woman and fired a series of tiny stars. The Fire Woman stopped her attack to get out of the way. Starman removed his burning robe and tossed it aside, losing control of the star as he did so. He rolled onto the floor and stood up as the star crashed behind him.

The Fire Woman held a fireball in her hands and threw it at Starman's feet. He leaped forward as the pillar of flame erupted behind him, holding his forefingers to his temple as the star on his forehead glowed brightly. A magical star burst from his forehead and struck the Fire Woman, knocking her back. She remained on her feet as Starman assaulted her with a series of strikes that she barely blocked, forcing her to stumble backward.

Then Master Wang's flying foot struck her in the side of the head, sending her flying as her hat fell to the ground where she had stood.

The dazed Fire Woman tried to regain her footing. Starman grabbed her right arm. Master Wang grabbed her left arm. She gritted her teeth in anger, preparing another magic trick. Master Wang hit her on the back of her head with the base of his nunchucks, knocking her unconscious. "Good night."

Seeing the Fire Woman captured, the peasant army cheered and the remaining guards gave up the fight.

Corporate assistance

Scene: Neo Neotokyo

The three heroes flew toward the gigantic bipedal lizard monster, on a mission to stop it from devouring the city of Neo Neotokyo again. The impossibly strong Highman took the lead, his cape whipping in the wind behind him. Following him were the sorceress Cat Black and the 37-year-old Starman on his flying star.

Always attempting negotiation before battle, Highman flew in front of the monster's face and directed it. "You, go home." The monster snapped its jaws forward as Highman flew up and away.

Starman flew above the monster's eyes, firing a multicolored barrage of stars into its face from the palm of his hand. The monster roared in annoyance but it was unharmed.

Cat Black threw a large fireball into the monster's body above its thigh. The fire rolled off its scales, causing no apparent damage. Cat huffed. "I'm gonna need a bigger fireball."

Highman decided on the direct approach. "Let's give it the old one-two."

"Got it!" Starman flew around and steered toward the monster, reeling back his arm for a monster-sized punch.

Highman slugged the monster in the face so hard that its snout turned and whacked Starman before he could take his swing. Starman flew backwards, through a broken window and into a partitioned office.

"Hong!" Cat yelled. She turned to Highman. "Is he alright?"

Highman was undisturbed. "He usually survives hits like that."

"Usually?" Cat asked in disbelief. She watched the monster take several hits from Highman's fists. It was flinching, hurting, but not stopping. "Okay, stand back. I'm going to take this guy out with my spell of ultimate destruction." A black vortex began to swirl in her hands.

"Don't use that spell!" Highman shouted. He flew back to her side. "We're supposed to save the city from him, not help him destroy it."

"Oh, you're making things difficult." Cat flung the black vortex aside into Neotokyo Bay where its explosion caused a large plume of water and a small tsunami flooding the coast.

Highman sighed. "Let's hope that didn't wake up any of his friends."

Cat shrugged nonchalantly. "We'll destroy them too."

Tanks fired at the monster from a side street. The monster turned toward them and the large plates on its back glowed blue. The soldiers ran away. The monster breathed down a blue destructive gas, setting fire to the area and melting the barrel off one of the tanks.

"Let's see how you like some lightning!" Cat yelled. A large blue ring formed on the ground where the monster stood. Lightning struck down, collecting in the monster's plates and arcing across its body. The monster turned toward Cat and opened its mouth. "Oh, that's not good." Cat assumed a defensive posture as a storm of lightning burst around her, arcing around a sphere of her defenses.

Hong flew back into the fight. "Let's take this guy out!" He powered up a blast from the star in his forehead and fired. The attack did no damage to the monster but it knocked Starman on his back. His flying star started to wobble. He sat up and regained control.

Two FA/18 jets fired missiles into the monster. The monster roared in pain and turned toward the retreating jets. Highman swung and punched it in the snout.

"Take him high!" Hong shouted. "I'm coming in for an uppercut! We'll knock him on his tail!"

Cat had just then finished casting an earth-based spell that caused a spike of rock to erupt from the ground into the monster's foot. The monster looked down toward the source of the pain. Seeing Starman flying in, it swatted Starman down with its hand. Starman struck the asphalt hard and blacked out.

The Tournament

Scene: Tropical Island Arena

Wearing his referee's uniform, Starman watched Sneaky Weasel fire his missile launcher at the swift-footed Sergeant Hawk, who nimbly dodged the explosion. There was a rumbling and the whole island shook as its central volano erupted. Rocks began to fall from the sky. Sergeant Hawk danced around the falling rocks while Sneaky Weasel hid inside of a cardboard box for protection.

Starman was outside of the designated rockfall area, but he took a step backward just in case.

Then a large chunk of basalt fell on him.

Scene: Midnight Castle Arena

The light of the world's large full moon was enough to allow the fighters to see each other, but it was far from daylight. Harry Donkey had to comment on this. "It's so dark and dreary here. How about we lighten the mood with some music?" He stretched his arms wide in a gesture.

"That would be lovely," Princess Strawberry said as she dodged the attack.

There was a crunch as the grand piano fell elsewhere. Both fighters looked at each other in confusion, then slowly turned to look at the source of the noise. They walked over to the fallen piano.

Harry drew a carrot and began nibbling on it. "Hey, ref," he said between chews. "You okay down there?"

"This has happened before," Strawberry said. "According to the rules, the fight is still live."

Harry put his carrot away and assumed a fighting stance. "Well, then. Have at you!"

Deep thinking

Scene: Hong's quarters

Starman lay in his bed, thinking things over. Everyone else in the tournament was some sort of hero. The other referees, the fighters, with a couple of exceptions like the comedian and the musician, they were all known for their combat accomplishments.

As far back as he could remember, outside of training and regulated matches, he had never won a real fight on his own, not singlehandedly. He was always helping someone else or being helped by someone else. Even the comedian and the musician had battles that they had won singlehandedly.

Why did people treat him like a hero? He felt like a fraud.

He sat up and meditated. If he wanted to improve his fighting skills, he would need to find someone to train with, someone outside of Corporate's eye, since a visible string of losses could damage his reputation enough to cost him his job. Before that, the first step to improving his fighting ability would be to return to his old training regimen. He stepped out of bed and stooped to the ground to begin the first of one hundred pushups. He would only make it to eighty-seven, but it was a start.

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