The Gundam Beauty Pageant|
by Charon the Sabercat
Cobramaru hits the obstacle course, and it hits back!
Cobramaru is going to go first. I'm not taking a chance this time.
Chapter 20 - Chapter 21 - Chapter 22
The Gundam Beauty Pageant|
21. Cobramaru's Gauntlet
Charon waved the mechas into the small room. "Everybody, hurry up! Come on, come on, come on, limited seating- Hi, Britainmaru, hi, Koko-san-" (Bakunetsumaru's mother bowed respectfully, then clutched Britainmaru's arm) "-hurry up, priority seating, no room for extra crap- no room for extra crap-" (Ashuramaru groaned, throwing his four foam rubber fingers to the side) "-Hurry, hurry, hurry- Bakunetsumaru, what's that?"
Bakunetsumaru quickly slipped what looked like a gun behind his back. "Nothing."
Kibaomaru scoffed and yanked a Super Soaker out from behind Baku. Charon sighed, "No sabotaging Cobramaru, Baku-san."
Bakunetsumaru growled, stomping into the box seat. "Doesn't deserve to win..."
"Come on, come on, come on- Okay, including Mel, there's three more seats-"
She was suddenly rushed by Shute, Genkimaru, and Rele, who immediately started pushing their way to their favorite Gundams. Shute hunkered down between Captain and Zero, placing his feet on Bakunetsumaru's lap. Rele placed herself on the other side of Zero, snuggling herself into her chair. Genkimaru...
He paused, looking back as forth between Kibaomaru and Zapper Zaku. He didn't really want to sit next to either of them... but he couldn't decide which one was worse, either.
Kibaomaru noticed his son's pause, and his spirit sunk in his chest. He stroked his soulstone. It was still cracked from Bakunetsumaru's attack, but slowly healing. The sight of his son, debating whether or not to even be near him, made it ache all anew. He blanky stared at his lap, rubbing his hands, anxious.
Genkimaru clambered into Kibaomaru's lap, picking up his folded hands and placing them over him like a roller coaster restraint. Kibaomaru froze, his breathing stopped, and all of time stood still, all because his son acknowledged him.
Daishogun saw this from across the room, flicked his fan open, and smiled. "Just like I remembered..."
"Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Most Talented competition! Our contestants, to prove their skill and number of abilities, will run through a gauntlet of my design! There is no particular scoring system, although contestants will be judged on speed and grace. Any trips or long hesitations will be taken into consideration.
"Today's first contestant is Cobramaru, because I learned from my last mistake. To fit in with his ninja lifestyle, he will be running through a dark obstacle course containing tower spires, small spaces, and guards which he must sneak past, and more! For the safety and comfort of the audience members, the course will be seperated from the viewing area by night vision, two way glass. Bathrooms are on the left, snack bar on the right, 3-D glasses available on request with an extra 50 cent charge.
"Please sit back and enjoy the show. Turn on all cell phones, please. Dispose of trash at the appropriate receptecles. No smoking, please.
"Mel, how do I turn this thing off?"
"Mel, you bought the microphone, how do you turn it off?"
"I thi- I think it's that little red button-
"NOPE, THAT'S (click) not it. Oo, what, maybe it (CLICK)-"
Cobramaru stood behind a door, waiting to be released into the gauntlet. As he waited, Hoshiko rubbed his shoulders and back (she was actually a little too rough with him, because Cobramaru was having trouble standing up), stretching his muscles and whispering little encouragements into his ear.
"Your the best one in the show, I know it." She hugged his neck and hissed into his ear.
He chuckled smarmily. "Your brother doesn't seem to think so."
"I can't help what Baku thinks."
Cobramaru leaned his head back on her, closing his eyes. "I can't believe you popped out of the same woman."
She leaned back on him, breathing in his strong, masculine smell. "It can't be helped, sometimes. I bet you're nothing like any of your siblings."
Cobra sighed, not opening his eyes. "I'm a quintuplet."
She didn't flinched, like she thought she would. Instead, she moaned. "Five of you... oo..."
Cobramaru turned around and picked her up. "I love the way you think... now that I think of it, I just love you..."
He leaned in to kiss her, but the door began to flash red; it was almost time to go. He growled and put her down, giving her a pinch on the back. The door opened, but before he could escape, something clicked over his shoulders. He grabbed his chest, searching his shoulders. It couldn't have been...
It was his Cobra armor.
He turned around to see Hoshiko smiling at him. "I pulled some strings."
He dipped and kissed her, wrapping her in his tail.
He proudly strode out of the door, holding a hand to his ear. The microphone clicked on, and Charon's voice came on over the airwaves.
"You should be coming up on a wall. Once you touch it, you start."
The signal clicked off. Cobramaru swished his tail.
It was dark. Two minutes to midnight dark. All he could see was that he was in a narrow room with red walls and a high ceiling. As his eyes adjusted, he noticed a gap between the wall he was facing and the ceiling. He sniffed. "This is going to be easy."
With a flick of his heels, he bounded halfway up the wall, and began to scale the rest with his tail. He crossed his arms and legs, closing his eyes calmly. Eeeeeeeeasy...
"Cobramaru seems to be off to a quick start. Undoubtedly, he's scaled more than his fair share of walls in his time."
Charon's barely audible commentary made Cobramaru's chest swell with pride. He growled smarmily, shaking himself to relieve the tension.
As he slipped over the top of the wall, he slung his tail over one side and a foot over the other, keeping one foot on the top of the narrow wall.
All he could see was a bottomless field of black. Somewhere far in front of him he could see what might have been another platform, but it was too far away to see clearly.
He crossed his arms tighter, this time aggravated. "I'm going to kill that cat..." A thought crossed his mind. "Wait a minute..."
He looked up and over. The ceiling reached all the way there. He immediately latched himself onto the ceiling with his claws, curling his body under him and crawling along like a gecko.
"And Cobramaru has decoded the puzzle! He has begun climbing the ceiling, a feat which he shares with many members of the gecko family."
If only it were that easy, Cobramaru thought. In reality, climbing ceilings was a little harder than walls, because gravity was working against him and he couldn't use his tail. But still, however slowly, he made his way to the platform.
"Hmm... things seem to be going a little too easily for Cobramaru. Let's shake it up a little."
The entire room jerked to the right!
He suddenly lost the grip in his right hand, and it came loose from the ceiling. His body jerked downward, sending a stabbing pain through each joint. He cried out in pain, but was able to recover and keep crawling.
"Bring it back, now, y'all!"
The room lurched to the left, and this time, both hands came free! He dangled dangerously by his feet, holding his arms out to steady himself. He growled, again ("Note to self, skin the cat... LIVE."), but got back onto his ceiling and began crawling again, this time digging his claws into the ceiling for extra grip.
"And Cobramaru has survived the incredible moving ceiling! Now, to keep both the audience and Cobramaru from getting bored, we're going to present him with a new challenge."
The ceiling before him shifted up into the... ceiling. Unable to find any way to go forward, Cobramaru looked down. He saw a forest of small spires on the tops of little towers, just like the tips of pagodas, rising out of the bottomless pit.
He gasped, his eyes widening in joy. "Sp... spire jumping!"
He fell onto the spire directly below him, landing lightly on his tiptoes. His tail tested the stability of the spires behind him... perfect.
He leaned back, then launched off of the needle like a slingshot, landing on another one and repeating, jumping further with each bounce. He loved spire jumping! He was the only one in his family who could do it, too; he used to make his brothers soooo jealous! Bless his mother and her tiny toes!
"Straight out of Sly Cooper, Cobramaru's ninja spire jumping skills are par to none! At this time, he'll hit the rope climb in no time!"
Rope climb? thought Cobramaru. He did see long strips of rope coming up in the distance, but they weren't vertical. They were horizontal, leading from the very last tower spires to the platform, which was now becoming a small room standing on its own.
But now Cobra knew what Charon meant. In one graceful flip, he vaulted from a needle to a rope, running along it like a circus tightrope walker. The room was fast approaching, and Cobra was ready for anything.
"This room will be a test of Cobramaru's espionage skills. He'll have to pick a lock, sneak past the guards and lasers, and make it to the finish point before he's spotted."
Landing softly in front of the door, Cobramaru switched into invisible mode and stuck a single claw in the door's keyhole, snapping it open with a twitch of his finger. It swung open gently, not making a sound.
"Uh... maybe this test is too easy..."
Cobramaru snickered, slipping through the crack in the door without even a squeak.
He was met with four tall, burly mecha-guards, oblivious to his presence but all facing the door. They reached to the ceiling of the fairly large room, so wide they almost knocked eachother's shoulders. They all held massive polearms, the blades dripping with what smelled like a powerful sleeping potion. If they hit him with that, he'd be out for the count.
He fingered his dart gun. He might be able to shoot them all... but if he shot one and the others caught onto him, he couldn't fight them. He could climb the ceiling- no, they could reach the ceiling. The wall? He'd stick out too far. They'd feel him. The floor...
Maybe. Their triangle build made a small tunnel to the other side of the room... and an air duct! Tucking his elbows under his hood, he crawled on his hands and tail to the air vent, the uber-guards totally ignoring him.
"Cobramaru has found his way through the watchmen. He's coming up to the staple of all Hollywood heist movies, the air ducts. He'll have to wriggle his way through it without alerting the super-guards."
The air vent was a little thin... he'd have to leave his Cobra armor behind. Resisting the urge to sigh, he softly removed the armor and left it in front of the entrance, making a shield which kept the guards from seeing him.
He slid into the air duct and immediately went straight down, wriggling along the thin tunnel like he was born in one. It wasn't particularly hard. He got stuck, once, because there was a dent in the middle part of the floor of the vent. As he was passing over it, his foot slipped and he fell.
And it hit him where it would hurt a man most.
"OO! And Cobramaru takes it in the no-nos! I didn't plan that!"
You could hear the collective groan from the male audience. The pain shot through Cobramaru, lighting his insides on fire. He buckled over (as much as he could in the tight space) and squealed, unable to stop himself. He took tight, shallow breathes, holding in the screams as much as he could. "...ow..."
Nevertheless, he pressed onward, albeit a little more tense. Some men applauded him for his bravery. Others were still flinching. One was laughing, and her name was Aneko ("HA!" she laughed. "At least we won't have to work about him getting Hoshiko pregnant!" She got slapped for that by Hoshiko).
He finally found the exit and fell out of it like a newborn giraffe, hitting the ground with a sick crunch. With a shake of his head, Cobramaru got back on his feet and waited for the world to focus back in.
"Cobramaru is now on the final stretch. If he can make it through the obligatory sci-fi chompy things, he'll be home free."
His blood ran cold. Not obligatory sci-fi chompy things. Anything but obligatory scif-fi chompy things...
His vision finally came back to him. Jutting down upways and sideways and downways from the hallway in front of him were big, silver, and impossibly fast obligatory sci-fi chompy things.
"I hate that friggin' cat."
He placed his foot on the wall and kicked himself forward. With one last burst of energy, he ninja-reflexed his way past every chompy thing! ZOOM they flew past his shoulder, SLAM they nearly severed his legs, BAM they slammed next to his ear! ZOOM ZOOM BLAM BOOM CRUNCH BAM! Repelling off of the last obligatory sci-fi chompy thing, Cobramaru reached out for something and landed on a bright red button, finally collasping from exhaustion on top of it.
"AND HE HAS DONE IT! Cobramaru has beaten the ninja gauntlet in six minutes and thirty-nine seconds! A round of applause for this brave Gundam and his, um... wounded pride? If you know what I mean... ugh, why is this coming out of my mouth?"
Hoshiko appeared from nowhere and placed Cobramaru in her lap, holding his head on her shoulders. He closed his eyes and tried to recover, letting himself slump into sleep...
Genkimaru waved his axe, which was painted in Cobramaru's colors for the occasion, and bounced on his father's lap. "That was so freakin' cool! That was so freakin' cool!"
Kibaomaru gasped. "Genkimaru, watch your language!"
Genki scoffed. "Be quiet, you're not my fath- wait."
The dagger of shock and shame once again pierced Kibaomaru's shattered soulstone. Genkimaru lowered his head, blushing. "Well, you are, but..."
There was an awkward silence. For lack of anything better to say, Genki climbed off of his father's lap and out of the room, leaving Kibaomaru to recover.
Shute was not feeling so downtrodden. "Cobramaru's awesome! Did you see him go through the chompy things?! He was, like, faster than lightening!"
Captain nodded in agreement. "Cobramaru is well noted for his speed. I just don't think he can do it for very long."
"If you were there, you would have whupped his butt, Captain." Shute held his friend's hand proudly.
The shy Neotopian couldn't help but blush. He admitted to himself that he needed the attention, but couldn't bring himself to accept the compliment. "I wouldn't have been able to fit through the air duct."
"Yeah, 'cause you're built like a man, Captain!" Shute flexed his arms to show off. "When I grow up, I wanna get big, huge shoulders. Like you!"
Somewhere on her side of the room, Maxine heard Shute's praises. Her imagination took over for a minute; resting her head on those big, strong, naked shoulders while he tenderly kissed her- her insides exploded in a shower of pins and needles. She shivered, moaning softly.
Guneagle was immediately at her side. "What's the matter, Maxine?" he begged, his eyes aglow with large red hearts.
"N-nothing- I was just..." Her gaze shifted back to Captain, who was stretching his arms over his head. "Thinking..."
Guneagle's soul drive alias was burning with rage. That- stupid- Captain! And Gundiver! They were both competition! Maxine was rightfully his! She noticed him first! He noticed HER first! Who were they to make her think about them?!
Then he had an idea. An awful idea. The Gri- G-Guneagle, yeah, Guneagle had a terrible, awful idea.
To get Maxine... he'd have to get rid of Captain and Gundiver...
Yeah, being in an enclosed space together co-ed can do things to your brain. Ever seen a reality tv show? They go nuts. I promise, Guneagle's subplot will not involve him trying to kill Gundiver or Captain, just him being semi-characteristically mean (mean within the realm of possibility). But I'm tired, and SOMEHOW, I've ticked off my little brother, he's going to complain to Mom, and then she's gonna snap at me, and I won't be able to explain myself because Mom, being an only child, does not understand the petty little sibling squabbles that sound insignificant but in reality dig into your very flesh and bore into the pits of your soul and eat your from the inside out until you are a volatile time bomb ready to explode the next time your brother pokes you knowing your not allowed to do anything in retaliation because you'll be PUNISHED FOR IT! (seethes) I miss... being... an only... child...|
Chapter 20 - Chapter 21 - Chapter 22