The Gundam Beauty Pageant|
31. Most Eloquent Round
Charon held a microphone in one hand, the other resting on her hip. “Ladies and gentlemen, it's time for the Most Eloquent round!”
The audience cheered happily. The four Gundams, Zero, Captain, Daishogun, and Zapper (who's not a Gundam, but anyway) all waved to the audience with a simple, vacant runway model smile. Zero fluffed his cape proudly while Captain rubbed his neck, most of his nervousness gone but still lingering from the first competition. Daishogun slowly moved his fan back and forth in front of his face, the stage lights making him sweat. Zapper had spotted a camera and was listing everyone he could think of into the lens (“…and I wanna say hi to my mom down at the factory. Hi, Mom! And I wanna say hi to, uh, you know, what's her name? The purple Zak- Slayer Edge! That's her! Yeah! Hi, Slayer! Get well soon, baby! And, who else, I wanna say hi to that guy with the metal mask and long hair. I can't remember his name, dangit! And um…”).
“Today's competition will test the boys' talents with words and diction-“
“Hold it right there, Miss Kitty!”
Crap, Talgeese. Charon slapped her head and rubbed her temples. “Oh, this is just great…”
“Talgeese!” Zero flew above his comrade's heads to get a better look. “You dare try and steal my chance in the spotlight?!”
Talgeese appeared from stage left, floating as well and pointing accusingly at Zero. “You're one to talk, stealing my spot on the stage!”
“You never had it to begin with, insolent pig!” Zero snapped back. In a flash of anger, he jumped higher into the air, hoping to intimidate the former knight.
“Guys, can we please stop?” Charon pleaded. “You're being rude to the other guys.”
“Aw, hell no, let `em fight!” Zapper grunted.
Daishogun flicked his fan shut and smiled. “This could prove to be very interesting.”
“I have had enough of your sniveling face!
You've been nothing but lewd since you came to this place!
Zero quickly summoned his sword and shield, leveling his blade with Talgeese's body.
“I suggest that you leave here as quick as you can,
`Fore I launch your corpse to the far reaches of space!”
Zero fan girls cheered from the audience. Zero smiled smugly and set his shoulder, staring down the length of the blade at the enraged Talgeese.
“He's rhyming…” Charon hung her head, embarrassed and in severe “I can't believe it” mode. “He's rhyming…”
Talgeese slowly floated higher and closer to center stage.
“You pretty boy Gundams are on my last nerve.
You may get attention, from what I observe,
But you're selfish and vain, and what I suggest
Is you give some more credit to those who deserve!”
A different section of the audience cheered: the underdogs. His confidence bolstered by their enthusiasm, Talgeese leveled himself with Zero and summoned his sword and shield as well.
Zero's eyes narrowed. This was personal.
“Ha! A typical villain, so jealous and nerveless,
Will never admit that he lost a fair fight.”
Talgeese circled Zero, slowly turning to where he was behind the winged knight. Zero watched him cautiously, but did not dare to move with him. As he orbited the Gundam, he spoke:
“A typical hero, conceited and brainless
Can't fathom the fact there are those who don't like
His unending arrogance, limitless loftiness,
Bottomless knowledge there's none great as he.
A true hero could see when he's truly been beaten,
And would give up his place in the spotlight to me.”
The audience “ooo”ed, and then laughed at the blushing Zero. The Winged Knight turned to face the villain, the grip on the hilt of his sword tight.
But he didn't say anything.
Talgeese laughed. “I've won, Zero! Give it up, already!
“You can't win against me in a fight of the words!
Songs have come from my mouth that could rival the birds!
I can think of a rhyme off the tip of my brow
While you, my dear friend, have the wit of a cow.”
Without warning, Talgeese was less than an inch from Zero's body. The knight showed no emotion other than anger as Talgeese hooked a finger under his chin and began toying with his head.
“Not a word from the mouth of the great Winged Twit.
Is the proud one embarrassed, or loathe to admit
That I've beaten him soundly at his very game?
If I were in his shoes, I would do the same.”
The audience roared again, but the roar was conflicting. Half of the noise came from Talgeese's supporters, screaming at him to finish Zero off and take first place for himself. The other half came from Zero's fans, or even Talgeese's enemies, who were frantically begging him to say something, anything!
Captain, in particular, couldn't take it. His fists clenched, he called to Zero, “Say something!”
“Come on, Talgeese!” Zapper shouted. “Finish him off!”
In the back room, Bakunetsumaru was going insane. He stood directly in front of the TV monitor, blocking everyone else's view, and screamed at the screen. “ZERO, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! KICK HIM! KICK HIM!”
Kibaomaru grabbed Baku by the ear and pulled him away. “I can't see!”
Talgeese pulled Zero dangerously close to his face, and spoke in a barely audible whisper.
“Just admit that I've won, and I'll let you off easy.
I can tell by your eyes that you're feeling quite queasy…”
Talgeese stroked Zero's chin, and the knight shivered. But Zero still wouldn't talk. Talgeese frowned.
“You are quiet, and silence can be quite profound.
Let us see how profound you can be from the ground!”
Talgeese threw Zero through the floor! The audience screamed again, but this time in terror, and hurriedly backed away from the stage. Charon jumped and immediately scuttled behind Captain. Zapper Zaku gulped, “Holy shit, man.”
“I've won!” laughed the evil mecha. “I've won!”
A lone arm burst from the splintered wooden floor, followed closely by Zero's scratched and dented body. Talgeese grunted in surprise and floated a few feet backwards, and Zero lifted himself onto his feet again.
And his eyes. There was a look in his eyes Talgeese had never seen before. A look of passionless rage, of burning, but vacant, torments. The knight zeroed in on Talgeese (no pun intended), looking at him from over his shoulder.
You call the causes for your case
And suffer from many of them yourself.
You speak of putting pride upon the shelf
Yet sing songs of your greatness in your solitude,
Bequeath yourself with titles undeserving.
It fits with your self-serving
Attitude of pride and elation.
Imagine the frustration
When the people of the nation
Have their revelation,
See past their expectation,
And demand an explanation
As to why their hero defames the heroes
For their prejudice and pride
And find that their leader has lied!”
It was silent. Zero floated back into the air, looking as if his emotions had somehow leaked out of him and left an empty shell in its place.
It all comes down to a twisting of the words
A tumble, a jumble.
A fight unending, for unlike sword and spear,
Words cannot break or bend, nor can they dull over time.
They cannot be stopped by shield, nor avoided by armor.
There is only the eternal sting,
The unrelenting supply of words,
Shot by the arrow of the lips
From the bottomless quiver of the mind.
Twisted to whatever purpose they serve, be it good or bad.
A war of words cannot be ended, for there is no material destroyed
No culture erased, no population made extinct in the conflict,
There is only a broken soul that carries on until the vessel carrying it has broken.
For whatever party may contradict
Whatever truth they may avoid,
There is no end to be had.
There is only the memory to remind
Of the soul's sunken ships.
No matter if one sings like the birds,
The song shall never amount to a thing.
If one has the allure of a snake charmer,
Or is undefeatable in rhyme,
Eventually silence is all one will ever hear.
An echo, a mumble,
A vague shadow of the unending war of the words.
Zero sunk to the floor again, the room silent. He stood still, eyes closed, head hung low. The last poem had drained him of the last of his emotional strength, and he tried to recover with dignity.
In the back room, all was quiet. The Gundams stared at their television in awe.
Daishogun broke the silence.
“Words shot like arrows,
Burn like fire to the touch,
Forgotten in time.”
Zero turned and walked (unbelievably, he walked) off of the stage.