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Stage Battle "VIBES" - Part 2
Hajun: ...!
Allen: Hajun! Hang in there, Hajun!
Anne: Hajun!
[sfx: Akan Yatsura approaching]
Reo: What happened!?
Satsuki: He just up and collapsed on stage... he got anemia or somethin'?
Hokusai: Is he conscious?
Allen: He's... he isn't responding when we call out to him.
Anne: Allen... Hajun's body temperature is dropping! And-- look at his hand!
Allen: ...!
Satsuki: ... hey, the hell's going on? What's going on with his hand!?
Reo: Crap... his skin's... changing color.
Zen: ...! It can't be--
Iori: S'acute metal erosion.
Satsuki, Reo, Hokusai, Zen: --!
[sfx: Iori's footsteps]
Allen: ... acute... metal erosion...? The hell does that mean!?
Iori: ... metal's got different effects on different people. If someone's got a weak constitution, then they might run up against the limit just by using their metal regularly. Abnormalities in their healt, trap reactions gettin' worse... usually, y'oughta lay off it as soon as you recognize any of the symptoms.
Satsuki, Reo, and Hokusai: ...
Iori: But that said. ... there's people that know all that and still use their metal, even knowing the risks involved. People who decide to race the clock, and try to tough it out on their own... and if they keep on forcing it...
Anne: Then... Hajun's...
Iori: Yeah. For it to have gotten this far along... he must've been sufferin' terribly. And then all at once, he just ran up against his limit one day, and the erosion's started to spread rapidly since.
Allen: That's...
Iori: Lemme take a look at 'im.
Hajun: [labored breathing]
Iori: ... this ain't good. The erosion probably started from his finger. S'probably already reached his heart. S'usually not that fast... at this point, there's nothing we can do about it.
Anne: ...!
Allen: Don't joke around like that! If we just treat him quickly, then--! ... hey! Someone! Call for an ambulance!
Iori: That's not gonna help.
Allen: But--
Iori: I'm tellin' you, it's not gonna help!
Allen and Anne: ...
[sfx: Iori's footsteps]
Satsuki: ... Aniki... then he's... what's gonna happen to 48?
Iori: The metal's gonna consume him. He'll die.
Allen and Anne: ...!
Satsuki: ... you gotta be lying.
Iori: I'm not. ... sorry. I didn't want to tell you guys that this was the risk you'd be running. S'like I've been usin' you guys. ... I'm really sorry.
Hokusai: ... We knew. That metal is dangerous. That it could cost someone their life. We already knew.
Zen: Hokusai-kun...
Reo: Aniki, Zen-nii.. you guys act like we're little kids. We've known about this for a long time. And, we also knew you were hiding it from us, thinking it was for our own good. We already know.
Satsuki: ... you did?
Reo: The only one who didn't know is King of the Idiots, Satsuki-chan.
Satsuki: ... eh? Really...?
Hokusai: ... I never thought that you were using us. So you don't need to apologize.
Reo: Same here. I've got Aniki and Zen-nii, and the rest of Akan Yatsura, and rap, too. ... how do I say this... I was at peace with that, I guess?
Satsuki: ... yeah! If it's for my comrades, I'll put my life on the line any time! ... but... isn't there something we can do, Aniki!?
Reo: This just isn't fair!
Hokusai: I want to help.
Allen: Hajun... hang in there, Hajun! ... you idiot! Why'd you let things get this bad!?
[sfx: Hajun's labored breathing]
Allen: ... Suiseki-san! Please! You have to know something! Anything at all! IS there any way we can save Hajun!?
Anne: Please! We'll try anything!
Satsuki, Hokusai, and Reo: Aniki!!
Zen: Waka...
Iori: ... there's one thing. But it ain't easy.
Everyone Else: ...!
Iori: ... that said, you gotta be prepared for it.
Allen: Please, tell us!
Iori: If you use Hajun's phantometal, you can force your way into his mind.
Allen: H-how... does that work?
Iori: Beats me. But... there was someone who did it once, a long time ago. That's what I hear, anyway. That this was how he saved his partner after he collapsed on stage... it was Shura, from Buraikan.
Everyone Else: --!
Iori: But, that might just be an urban legend. Because there's no proof it worked -- no, because it was something that Buraikan did -- nobody's been stupid enough to try and imitate it--
Allen: Got it! I'll do it!
Iori: ...
Allen: Please. Tell me how I can... dive into Hajun's mind.
Iori: ... it's the same as how you start your phantom for a performance. You have to kiss the metal. But you're goin' to be kissing Hajun's metal, not your own.
Anne: Hajun's metal...?
Iori: Yep. The metal is like a door that connects into the wielder's mind, and, once the erosion's started to spread... the metal starts trying to become one with the person wieldin' it.
Anne: So you're saying... that door is being left open?
Allen: Got it! Let's go!
Iori: Hold it! Do you understand what it means to dive into someone else's mind? You make one slip up, and you might not come back, and then...
Anne: ... and then we'll be the same as Hajun is right now?
Iori: No. Might well be worse than that. It's a matter of life and death. ... knowin' that, you're gonna do it?
Allen and Anne: Yes! I want to save Hajun!
Iori: ... heh. I like your spirit!
Zen: It's admirable to put your life on the line for a comrade.
Iori: Well, that's that, then. We're not letting this battle end here, right, everyone?
Satsuki: For sure!
Reo: Alright! Get a move on and dive on in! Bring back your precious friend!
Hokusai: Make sure you find a way back.
Iori: Well. Come back or don't. Akan Yatsura's gonna win either way, y'know?
Satsuki: Yeah! We'll crush you!
Reo: No chickening out, okay?
Hokusai: ... let's battle.
Iori: 'Ight. Let's get a move on!
Akan Yatsura: Yeah!
[sfx: footsteps retreating, crowd cheering]
Anne: ... Allen.
Allen: ... yeah. Hajun's hand...
Anne: ... it's so cold... it feels just like it's made of metal...
Hajun: [shuddering]
Allen: ... just hold on, Hajun. We're gonna get you back.
Anne: Yeah. Kiss Hajun's ring.
Allen: Yeah.
[sfx: kissing Hajun's ring in turn, throbbing heartbeat, Allen and Anne crying out in pain, distortion]


Allen: ... you alright, Anne?
Anne: ... yeah, I'm fine.
[sfx: standing up]
Anne: ... is this... the inside of Hajun's mind?
Allen: It's so dark it's hard to tell... but I don't think we're in the regular world.
Anne: No way... we really did it, then?
Allen: We have to hurry and find Hajun.
Anne: Mm.
[sfx: footsteps]
Anne: ... Ah! Over there! I see a light!
Anne: There's a door over there. That's gotta be it...!
[sfx: Allen and Anne hurrying]
Hajun's Father: Do you not understand?
Young Hajun: ... huh?
Hajun's Mother: Hajun, this means you will not be necessary in this house anymore.
Young Hajun: ... huh...?
Allen: No way... is this...?
Anne: Hajun's trauma... it must be his memory of when his parents sent him away...
Young Hajun: Then... I...
Hajun's Father: That's correct, Hajun. You will no longer be needed.
[sfx: "no longer be needed" echoing]
Young Hajun: ...!
[sfx: door slamming open]
Allen: Hajun isn't unneeded!
Anne: That's right, you awful parents! You're the ones nobody needs! Get the hell out of here!
Hajun's Father: What's thi...?
[sfx: vanishing]
Anne: Huh? ... they really disappeared! I'm so good at this!!
Allen: ... Anne...
Young Hajun: Um... who are you guys...?
Anne: Huh!? Is that little Hajun? He's so cute~! What's with those cheeks? I just wanna pinch them!
Young Hajun: ... um...
Allen: Alright. Hajun, you have to listen to us. No matter what your parents say, you're not unwanted[1]! Absolutely not!
Young Hajun: ...!
Anne: He's right. When you get a little older, you'll turn into a really cynical, foul-mouthed, backstabbing asshole... but we love that you. Because you always try your hardest, more than anyone else does. You take things really seriously... and even you're really kind, you're also really shy about it.
Allen: I'm sorry... I didn't realize what was happening with the metal. It must have been really hard on you, if it's gotten this far...
Young Hajun: ...
Allen: You don't have to act like a stranger! If you'd just told us that you were suffering--
Young Hajun: I can't.
Allen: Huh?
Young Hajun: If I say something like that, then nobody will want me.
Allen and Anne: ...!
Young Hajun: If it means that I won't be unwanted, then I'll do it, no matter what it is. I'll endure it, no matter how hard it is.
Anne: Hajun...
Young Hajun: It's because I love them. Being thrown away by the people I love, being told that they don't want me anymore, is so much scarier than dying.
Allen: How stupid are you... I already told you! I'm not going to betray you like that! I'm never going to abandon you! Seriously... you're gonna make me say something so embarrassing all over again... what's with that...?
Anne: [sniffling] Hajun. Come with us. We're gonna get out of this room.
Young Hajun: I can't. I can't leave this room.
Anne: That isn't true.
Young Hajun: But...
Anne: ... I get it. Even if you managed to get out of here, this room wouldn't just go away. Even when you become an old man, this room is still going to be inside of you. And it will hurt terribly whenever you open the door. ... but even so...
Young Hajun: Even so?
Anne: ... you can make a choice. To live while staying trapped in this room, or to walk out of it with your own two feet.
Young Hajun: ... really?
Anne: Really! I did it myself!
Allen: Me too... and I did it in reality, too.
Young Hajun: ...
Anne: ... hey, Hajun. Listen. ... I have a room just like this inside of me. And there's a scary witch in there who wants to turn me into a doll!
Allen: There's demons in my room. They try to burn me with the fires of hell!
Young Hajun: But...
Anne and Allen: You can leave.
Allen: So...
Anne and Allen: Take our hands, Hajun!
Young Hajun: ...
[sfx: Hajun taking their hands]
Allen: Alright! We've got you! No matter what happens, Hajun, I won't let go of your hand!
Young Hajun: ...!
Anne: Come on! Come with us!
Young Hajun: ...
Young Hajun and Present Hajun: ... Mom. Dad. Goodbye.
[sfx: door slowly slamming shut]


Allen: ...
Anne: ... hng... ... Hajun! Where's Hajun?
Hajun: ... ugh...
Allen and Anne: Hajun!
Hajun: --? Huh!?
Allen and Anne: [crying] Hajun!!
Allen: I'm so glad! You're back!
Anne: He's warm! Hajun's body is so warm!!
Hajun: ... what's wrong?
Anne: How are you doing? Are you hurt at all?
Hajun: ... uh... no, I'm not hurt anywhere... ... but what about the performance? What happened? When I--
Iori: Hey! Looks like everyone's back in action!
[sfx: crowd cheering in bg]
Zen: I'm so glad everyone's alright!
Hokusai: Welcome back. ... good job.
Reo: Aww, I thought we might get an easy win by default...
Satsuki: Hah! Who are you fooling? Just now you were talking about We're gonna do our best as if our lives depended on it, weren't you!?
Reo: Shut up, monkey-boy!!
Satsuki: HAH? You're blushing!!
Reo: I am NOT blushing!!
Hokusai: [laughs]
Iori: Mind lettin' me borrow your hand for a second?
Hajun: ...? ... here.
Iori: Hmm... what a surprise this is. Ain't no trace of erosion at all.
Hajun: Um... I was...
Iori: You narrowly escaped dyin'.
Hajun: ...!
Iori: Well, that's all thanks to your oh-so-passionate friends who are holdin' on to you for dear life right about now, innit?
Hajun: ...
Iori: You sure pulled somethin' real interesting off. ... but! Let's hash out the details later!
[sfx: crowd cheering]
Iori: Y'hear that?
Hajun: ...
Iori: We got the audience all heated up, and they ain't gonna wait much longer! Now it's your turn up at bat, y'know?
Zen: So! Give us a fair and square fight, head-on!
Allen: But...
Anne: ... Hajun?
Hajun: ... [dramatic sigh] What's all this? Why are you looking at me with such worried faces?
Allen: We're seriously worried about you!
Hajun: How annoying.
Anne: Are you... okay?
Hajun: Well, yes. As you can see, I'm perfect, as I always am.
Allen: There he goes...
Anne: The second he's back to his proper age he's his usual horrible self again...
Allen: You good to go on stage?
Hajun: Of course. ... hm. If I'm with the two of you, I can go anywhere.
Anne: Hajun...
Allen: Anne. Hajun. With our music... let's prove who we are!
[sfx: crowd cheering]
Anne and Hajun: Right!
Anne: [giggling]
[sfx: instrumental intro to F△Bulous]

[1] As stated in Pride, "need" and "want" are the same word in this context, so I'll translate it based on what sounds better in the moment.

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