Act 9: Being Myself
…In a bygone era of warring states.
From the heavens descended a calamitous iron ark, casting a sinister radiance. Bursting forth from crimson and purple light were the mechanical phantoms known as ‘Clockwork Flowers’ – spirits of steel.
Their sharp leaves could cleave even through armor, and from the fiery buds, they spewed forth infernal flames. The tumultuous Clockwork Flowes struck fear into the hearts of the people.
The one who single-handedly quelled the chaos wrought by these Clockwork Flowers was a warrior of unparalleled renown – known as Omega.
Omega found beauty in the relentless pursuit of combat, living as a mechanized samurai, bestowing life upon these creations. He named them ‘Warflowers’ and founded the ‘Omega School of Warflower Way,’ where these War Flowers would battle each other, with victory declaring the true essence of beauty. This marked the inception of the Omega School of the Warflower Way.
And now, in the present day…
In the midst of the Omega School of Warflower Way, a martial art with a history spanning centuries, no one had yet achieved the highest rank of “Kaeden” (Flower Legend) due to the rigor of its training. Among the numerous disciples, there was a rising star, a stunning batwoman named Rouge the Bat.
Bam! Bam! Bam!
“That’s not fair! Firing three heavy artillery blossoms at once is cheating!”
“In the Warflower Way, anything goes in battle. There are no violations or fouls.”
Rouge’s Warflower was no match for the barrage of artillery fire unleashed by Omega’s Warflower. Omega’s combat style heavily utilized firearm-type Clockwork flowers, and his relentless attacks were overwhelming. With a final strike from the sharp petals, Rouge’s Warflower was cleanly cut in two, and the match was decided in an instant.
Rouge’s Warflower Style began and ended with elegance.
She herself was adorned in a graceful kimono, directing her Warflower with precision, becoming one with her combat Clockwork flowers. After the battle, not a single crease was found in her attire. This was her unique style.
Among Omega’s disciples, there was no one who could match Rouge’s skill. However, even with this victory, she remained far from her ultimate goal.
Dejectedly, she walked the path home as dusk began to fall. The daily toil and dedication she had poured into her training to obtain the scissors she desired, all now felt like a distant destination that continued to elude her. But then…
She paused suddenly, feeling a strange sense of discomfort. Yes, her current path didn’t quite seem like her. Why had she become so serious?
She gazed up at the moon for a few seconds, perhaps minutes, and then let out a soft, brief sigh. A mischievous smile formed on her lips.
“What if I just be myself and enjoy it to the fullest?”
A few moments later, at the secluded location known as the Ruby Garden said to have been created to contain the calamitous metallic Ark that had fallen from the heavens, Omega and Rouge were seen amidst a barrage of heavy artillery fire against the Clockwork flowers.
Bam! Bam! Bam!
Ruby Garden was more than just a “Clockwork flower production site.” It served as an isolation facility to confine the ferocious Clockwork flowers, and regular “thinning” was essential.
Rouge had obtained permission to assist with this task, but her true objective was to scout the storage security of the scissors once more. The purpose was merely to conduct a security assessment.
“Combust! Harvest! Eliminate Clockwork flowers as much as possible.”
As Omega tirelessly mowed down the advancing Clockwork flowers one after another, Rouge couldn’t help but smirk as she observed his Warflower Style, his martial art style.
Finally, they reached the innermost part of the Ruby Garden. There, in a gazebo covered but open to the elements, the coveted scissors were stored, gleaming brilliantly.
Even in the dim light, their presence was overwhelming. The translucent blades shimmered like ice, refracting light into iridescent colors. As Rouge reached out her hand to touch them…
Hidden Warflowers at both sides of the scissors activated, extending vines to cover and hide the scissors in an instant.
“Heavily guarded and protected.”
Seeming to be both solemn and impressed, Rouge, however, saw through this security as child’s play. It seemed all too easy to overcome. On her way back from Omega’s place, she walked with a sly grin. She had gathered enough information about the security. Tonight, she would sneak in… Or at least, that was what she thought until, at that moment…
Now, her past struggles and the lingering frustration of losing to Omega surged within her. She couldn’t help but feel a pang of regret.
She realized that frivolously laughing off her losses and prancing around like nothing had happened wasn’t her style.
She wanted those scissors, and she wanted to defeat Omega. She couldn’t give up on either!
What should she do?…
As Rouge glanced up at the sky, she noticed that the Clockwork flowers that Omega had thinned out were gracefully dancing through the air. Flying Clockwork flowers, usually unsuitable for direct confrontation with combat Warflowers, caught her eye.
“Surprisingly agile in the air,” Rouge mumbled to herself. Then, in that moment, she had a great revelation.
Rouge seized one that very moment and eagerly began her journey back home.
The day of the initiation exam had arrived. In the grand hall of the dojo, measuring 12 tatami mats and three-tenths, located at the heart of the Ruby Garden, the ancient Ark’s ruins…
Rouge and Omega were each meticulously and fiercely arranging their Warflowers. And then…
A resounding conch shell signaled the start of the match.
Rouge’s Warflower released a smoke screen seed, obstructing vision. Simultaneously, she took a defensive posture to prepare for Omega’s fierce assault.
“Smoke screen jamming in effect. No issues,” Omega’s Warflower declared, undeterred, raining down artillery fire from above, trying to overpower Rouge.
Bam! Bam! Bam!
Enduring within the smoke, Rouge’s Warflower was visibly wearing down. But as the smoke cleared, Omega was astonished by what he saw.
Before him stood not one but two of Rouge’s Warflower. One of them was proudly holding the “Diamond Scissors.”
“Ruby Garden’s security is specialized for people… As I expected! I’ll take this treasure, thank you♪”
In the opening move, Rouge had used the smokescreen to split her Warflower. She had instructed her flying Clockwork flower to steal the scissors during this confusion.
Caught off guard by this unexpected turn of events, Omega’s eyes flickered. This was the opening Rouge needed.
Rouge’s Warflower delivered a powerful strike, piercing Omega’s Warflower’s vital point and delivering a lethal blow.
“Disqualified! Violation of match rules! It’s a foul!”
“Well, you know, once the match starts, there are no violations or fouls, right?”
Immediately after, her two Warflowers converged in mid-air. She held the scissors high with her blades up. Omega’s Warflower fell within her range.
“I’ll do anything, and I’ll get everything I want…! That’s my Omega Style!”
What Omega saw next was Rouge, sitting formally with a dignified posture, gazing at the battlefield. And behind her, Rouge’s Warflower, holding the scissors high, was the embodiment of courage as it severed Omega’s Warflower with a single strike.
The dojo fell into silence.
And here, a new form of “beauty” was born.
“Rouge, you now possess full mastery of the discipline.”
“Hooray! That’s the way! I love a family head who understands what’s what♪”
With the scissors and the full mastery certificate in hand, Rouge jumped around like a young girl. The scissors, originally stolen during the match, now rightfully belonged to her.
However, as she achieved her long-cherished goal, Rouge realized that she no longer had a reason to stay in this place.
“Well, titles and such don’t interest me… Once I’ve got what I came for, I’ll bid farewell to this dreary dojo.”
She muttered to herself and was about to walk away. But, as if he had read her inner thoughts, Omega took something out from his pocket.
“The second mission reward. The Ruby Flower Scissors…”
The blazing ruby radiance captured Rouge’s heart, and she quickly approached Omega, then demanded:
“…Tell me the details.”
The “Legendary Seven Scissors,” passed down in the Omega school. Rouge, now the new master, took on the responsibility of sealing Ruby Garden and collecting all the scissors. She and Omega, sometimes bickering, but always pushing each other to greater heights, honed their beauty.
In other words, this was the beginning of the golden era of the Omega School of Warflower Way.
Following the Ruby……
“Wow, that battle between the Warflowers was amazing, Tails! Both Rouge and Omega were incredibly cool! They’re definitely the way to go!”
Sonic, who had been watching the unexpected showdown from the shadows of the Ruby Garden, was in high spirits. Tails, a fan of machinery, joined in.
“Yeah, Sonic! By the way, these ‘Warflowers’ seem like modified versions of Eggman’s robots, but how do they understand the creator’s orders? …But more importantly…”
Tails, who had noticed an important fact, turned serious again and showed Sonic the readings on his energy detector.
“Look at this! The energy readings here. This energy wavelength… it’s the lingering energy from the Phantom Ruby!”
The ‘Phantom Ruby’ was a mysterious gem with the power to manipulate living beings’ minds and implant powerful virtual realities, warping the world. It was thought to have been lost after the previous battle with the Eggman Empire and disappeared from this world. However…
“The energy is being emitted in all directions from this botanical garden. The fact that there’s such a significant reaction means it’s probably spreading worldwide… which means…”
Sonic, who had hopped up onto the central ‘Ark’ in the middle of the Ruby Garden, smiled knowingly.
“This ‘Ark’ is the epicenter of the disturbance… I guess?”
A gust of unsettling wind blew through, rustling the leaves of the Warflowers at their feet. Tails, who had been investigating inside the ‘Ark,’ continued.
“Yeah! This ‘Ark’ seems to be another modified form of Eggman’s battleship! I found a component that looks like a condenser, and it still had strong energy readings. I think it’s because, during our last battle, it retained a one-time charge of Phantom Ruby energy… I’m sure Eggman found some way to use it to its full potential!”
Tails spoke excitedly before suddenly deflating.
“But… the current situation in this world is a bit different from a virtual reality, and it’s unlikely that such a chaotic situation could occur with just one activation… There are still so many things we don’t understand. Ugh, sorry…”
He bent over and cradled his head in his hands in frustration.
Sonic, who had been amused by how Tails expertly sat down without dirtying his skirt, couldn’t help but chuckle. Then, he patted Tails on the shoulder and cheered him up with a smile.
“What are you talking about, Tails? We’ve pretty much got it all figured out already!”
“This being the epicenter means that on the opposite side of this place, the energy’s influence should be the weakest, right? If Eggman isn’t here, then he’s probably over there.”
“Oh, I see!”
“As for the things we don’t understand, we can just catch up with Eggman and ask him directly!”
“Yeah…! Sorry, Sonic. I just got a bit down by myself…”
“No problem, Tails! I couldn’t have figured anything out without you. I’m counting on you!”
With that, Sonic stood up, clicked his heels together, and Tails quickly got ready. Being with Sonic always put him in a good mood. They would surely resolve this incident successfully.
Confidence welled up within him, despite the lack of solid evidence. With Sonic by his side, Tails felt ready to tackle anything.
“Alright, Eggman, get ready! No matter where you’re hiding, we won’t let you get away!”