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Stage Battle "FATE" - Part 1

[sfx: birds tweeting, knocking on door]

Chungsung: Good morning, Dongha-bocchama. I've come to help you get dressed.
[sfx: footsteps]
Chungsung: Oh? Have you prepared all by yourself this morning?
Dongha: Even someone as incompetent as you should be able to tell when your master is awake.
Chungsgung: Yes. My deepest apologies.
Dongha: I woke up earlier than usual today. You know why that is, don't you?
Chungsung: Yes, sir. Today we have a mission of the utmost importance, in order to secure AMPRULE's victory.
Dongha: Correct. The strategy for tonight is to measure our enemy's ability, and with that, I'll uncover how strong their bonds truly are.
Chungsung: Both patience and restraint. A strategy that indeed suit you well, bocchama. Splendid.
Dongha: Hmph! Of course it is! Chungsung!
Chungsung: Yes, sir?
Dongha: Get on your knees and put on my shoes. I held back on doing it myself so my useless butler would have something to do.
Chungsung: Bocchama...!
Dongha: First...
Chungsung: The left foot first, yes?
[sfx: footsteps, Chungsung kneeling]
Chungsung: ...! This is--
Dongha: You moron!
[sfx: kick]
Dongha: What's wrong with these shoes!? They're too tight, my toes are getting cramped! ... what's the reason for this? Why are you grinning like that after making such a grievous error?
Chungsung: ... it's nothing, it's just that I, your humble Baek Chungsung, cannot help but be enraptured by how quickly you are growing, bocchama... We purchased these shoes a mere three months ago, but they're already...! Ah, you're growing bigger...!
Dongha: Are you saying this is my fault!?
Chungsung: N-nothing of the sort...!
[sfx: whip]
Chungsung: --!
Dongha: You should know the size of your master's feet, you incompetent, useless buffoon!
Chungsung: I humbly beg for your forgiveness... please, by all means, discipline me with that whip...!
Dongha: That goes without saying!
[sfx: whipping, Chungsung being Chungsung about it]

Dongha: ... [sigh] Baek Chungsung, who are you to me?
Chungsung: I am your butler.
Dongha: And as AMPRULE is concerned, you are the one who makes music alongside me.
Chungsung: Bocchama...!
Dongha: And with that in mind, who am I?
[sfx: Dongha choking Chungsung]
Dongha: From the top of the head to the tip of the toe, knowledge is strength, be that knowing your opponents, deepening your understanding, or building bonds.
Chungsung: Yes, sir.
Dongha: Lead me to victory, Chungsung.
Chungsung: Understood. It will be as you wish, Dongha-bocchama.


[sfx: keyboard typing]
Hajun: [sigh] To think I'd make such a mistake...
Allen: Hm? What's up, Hajun? ... oh, you're looking at stocks online?
Hajun: Yes, but I missed the opportune moment to sell. I'm out 300 million yen.
Hajun: It's basically just pocket change to me. It's not that big a deal.
Anne: And there goes Hajun, the only person who could say something like that.
Hajun: If I remain on the level I am now, then I won't be able to exact my revenge on my family.
[sfx: decisive keyboard keystroke]
Allen: Oh, yeah, what's been going on with the Yeon conglomerate anyway? Weren't the police investigating them because they were providing funding to Alter Trigger?
Anne: I heard people say that a bunch of the upper management were getting arrested.
Hajun: That's correct. But in the end, it's the employees who are going to be the ones who take the brunt of the punishment. They will escape the law; they won't even need to appear in court. But I suppose that's to be expected.
Allen: Ah...
Hajun: Hm? What is it? The two of you look like you have something you want to say.
Allen: Uh, that's... hey, Anne! The floor is yours!
Anne: Huh!? Why are you passing the hot potato to me!?
Allen: Ah, well, it's because you're better at this than I am, aren't you?
Hajun: It's quite alright.
Allen, Anne: Eh?
Hajun: You want to know about Yeon Dongha from AMPRULE, don't you?
Allen: Uh--!
Hajun: [laughs] It's very obvious. Ever since they announced the teams that would be participating in the Paradox Live, I've been quite aware that the both of you have been dancing around the subject.
Anne: ... Hajun, you don't have to tell us if you...
Hajun: It's alright. I'm not the person I used to be. I'd like to think I've grown somewhat since the last battle. ... as you may have suspected, Yeon Dongha is my younger half-brother. He's the legitimate heir to the Yeon Conglomerate, and as such the reason, I was sent away to Japan.
Allen: Hey, that's...
Hajun: Yes, I thought that way as well back then. To be honest, I even resented him as well. However, if not for him, I wouldn't be where I am now.
Allen: Hajun...
Hajun: It simply serves as confirmation who I am now. As such, I don't intend to bring such hard feelings with me into our battle. Dongha and I were raised separately from the very start anyway; we rarely even saw each other. To be frank, I hardly feel like we're actually siblings at all.
Allen: But... what about your parents?
Anne: Yeah. For your brother to show up at the Paradox Live... it feels really weird, doesn't it?
Allen: And on top of that, for us to go against him first thing in the first round...
Hajun: It is certainly suspicious for the Yeon conglomerate to be getting involved. But I do think it's rather convenient, in its way.
Allen: ...?
Anne: How do you figure?
Hajun: We get to kill two birds with one stone, and destroy them on our way to victory. [laugh] Isn't that a lovely thought? That little purebred puppy being defeated by the mutt they threw onto the street. I wonder what kind of expression he'll make. [laugh]
Anne: ... what a scary face, Hajun...
[sfx: doorbell]
Allen: Ah, let me get that!
[sfx: footsteps, door opening]
Allen: Yes? ... huh?
Chungsung: Please pardon my intrusion.
Allen: Eh? Huh? Aren't you...?
Hajun: To what do we owe the pleasure, Baek Chungsung?
Chungsung: Hajun-bocchama, it's certainly been a while since our last meeting.
Hajun: Enough with the formalities. What do you want?
Chungsung: My, my, your short temper hasn't grown any longer.
Allen: [hushed] Isn't this one of the guys from AMPRULE?
Anne: [hushed] So he knows Hajun, then...?
Hajun: This man was my butler, yes. Formerly. As soon as Dongha was born, he pivoted to be his servant instead. Absolutely no loyalty, don't you agree?
Chungsung: How cruel. Orders that come down from the head of the Yeon family are absolute; there is no consideration for my personal preferences.
Hajun: I see, then. So you mean to say that your loyalty is towards the Yeon conglomerate alone, then?
Chungsung: Certainly not. I now dedicate myself, body and soul, to my role as butler to Dongha-bocchama.
Anne: [hushed] The hell is going on here?
Allen: [hushed] No idea, but it's scary... [normal volume] Uh, so, Mister Dongha's Butler, what is it that you need from us?
Chungsung: Ah, please forgive me for keeping you in suspense. I was entrusted by Dongha-bocchama to deliver this to the members of BAE.
[sfx: paper rustling]
Allen: A letter...?
Chungsung: You will find that it is an invitation.
[sfx: paper rustling]
Allen: [reading] "A special banquet for the benefit of the members of BAE. Kindly be present at the Yeon residence at 7 PM. As a commemoration of our first battle as opponents, I would very much like to deepen our relationship with each other. Please note that in the event that all members of BAE cannot be present, this event will be cancelled." ... I'm kind of confused as to whether this is a courteous invitation or a demand...
Anne: A special banquet... smells fishy to me, but what do you think, Hajun?
Hajun: [sigh] Even if we refuse this invitation, he won't rest until he finds another way to bait us out. It may be annoying, but we may as well get it over with quickly.
Chungsung: Shall I take that as confirmation that everyone will be in attendance?
Allen: ... yes.
Chungsung: Very good. With everyone in attendance, I am quite certain we will have a lovely evening. With that, I will take my leave.
[sfx: door closing]


[sfx: footsteps]
Anne: Whoa~! This mansion is huge!
Allen: I didn't know there were still places like this left in the city...!
Hajun: I believe this was the mansion of a former politician. Hoping to intimidate with the form factor, I suppose; playing pretend to make up for a lack of confidence.
Allen: That's harsh...
Anne: I suppose we can't expect anything less of our sadistic prince. No mercy, even for his little brother.
Hajun: Well, no need to be silly. Let's go.
Allen: Ah... got it!
[sfx: door creaking slowly]
Chungsung: Greetings and welcome. Please, by all means, come in.
Allen: This is one hell of a long hallway... how many rooms are there in this place?
Anne: And all the furniture is antique, too... it's got a lot of great atmosphere, doesn't it?
Chungsung: Now, then. Sugasano Allen-sama and Anne Faulkner-sama.
Allen: Huh?
Anne: Y-yes?
Chungsung: I'm afraid that I must kindly request the both of you wait for a while in this room.
Allen: Huh? Are we not going to be eating dinner together?
Chungsung: We certainly will. However, before such a time, some things need to be confirmed. As for Hajun-sama, please kindly proceed directly to the dining hall, if you will.
Hajun: After going to all the effort of inviting all of us, and yet we're receiving different treatment, aren't we?
Chungsung: Please forgive the presumption, but before meeting the other members of BAE, it seems prudent that masters Hajun and Dongha should have a warm brothers' reunion.
Hajun: You know perfectly well that there is nothing that would warrant us having a warm reunion.
Chungsung: That may be so. However...
Anne: It's alright, Hajun. We'll wait here, you go on ahead and have a chat with Dongha.
Chungsung: Your understanding is greatly appreciated. Now then, Hajun-sama, that person over there will escort you to the dining hall in my stead.
Allen: See you, Hajun.
Anne: We'll be along in just a bit!
Hajun: Alright.
[sfx: footsteps]
Hajun: (thinking) After all these years, what even is there to talk about? Ever since then, Dongha has been...

Chungsung: And as for the two of you, please follow me this way.
[sfx: door opening, footsteps]
Allen: Huh? There are set tables in here.
Anne: Only places for two, though.
Chungsung: Kindly take your seats.
[sfx: Allen and Anne sitting down]

Allen: [hushed] What's going on? Are we supposed to eat here?
Anne: [hushed] Feels kinda cruel, doesn't it?
Chungsung: I apologize for any rudeness, but in order to be seated with the Yeons for a banquet, appropriate credentials must be established.
Allen: Credentials?
Chungsung: Even setting aside table manners, the knowledge and conduct of the guests must be of a certain level as well.
Anne: What a pain...
Chungsung: In service of this, a brief examination will be conducted. For every correct answer provided to a question posed, a dish will be served. Our selections today are a full course French cuisine meal prepared by the head chef from a five-star hotel. With this in mind, let us waste no time and proceed to our first question.
[sfx: game show sfx]
Chungsung: What is the proper manner of dress when invited to a banquet?
Allen: Eh? [stammering] ... I'm under-dressed, aren't I...?
Anne: I dressed up a bit for this, though.
[sfx: question correct sfx]
Chungsung: Anne-sama has answered correctly! Aperitifs will now be presented to you.
Anne: Whoo!
Allen: Huh? What system are we operating under, here? What on Earth is this butler's deal...!?
Anne: [swallowing] Man, what is this? It's so good~!
Chungsung: And now, for our second question.
[sfx: game show sfx]
Chungsung: Please consume this offered food using the correct manners.
Allen: A banana...? It's not like I've never eaten one before, but how the heck am I supposed to eat this...?


[sfx: passive aggressive cutlery]
Hajun: Please explain the meaning of this. I'm quite certain you didn't call me over because you want to dine with me.
Dongha: Hmph.
Hajun: For starters, I do not believe that it's particularly hospitable or welcoming towards a guest to make us dine at separate tables.
Dongha: "Guest"? You are very much mistaken. Surely you don't believe that a mutt cast out by the Yeon family such as yourself could dine at the same table as me?
Hajun: I'm unconcerned with your treatment of me. I'm talking about Anne and Allen. I would hate for my personal matters to inconvenience them.
Dongha: They're being inspected by Chungsung. As long as they display enough knowledge and dignity to be worthy of taking a seat, they should be allowed to sit with us by the time dessert arrives.
[sfx: passive aggressive cutlery]
Hajun: And?
Dongha: "And" what?
Hajun: I was told by Chungsung that we should be having a brotherly reunion, was I not?
Dongha: How absurd. We have no such relationship.
[sfx: passive aggressive cutlery]
Hajun: At any rate, did you get permission from them to do this?
Dongha: Hah?
Hajun: Your participation in the Paradox Live.
Dongha: ...!
Hajun: Phantometal usage has its risks. It's not just trap reactions; metal erosion can be lifethreatening.
Dongha: What do you mean to say?
Hajun: Why do you want to do phantom lives?
[sfx: passive aggressive cutlery]
Dongha:  ... I have only one reason for that. It is to completely crush you, Yeon Hajun, and all those dear to you. To bring you to your knees and make you despair. Ever since the day I was born, I've never wanted for anything for myself. As the heir to the Yeon Conglomerate, it is my birthright to have everything given to me. The best environment, health care, and education-- I've never had to make choices, nor hope for anything. It was simply placed before me. A perfect human being, growing up in a perfect world, the legitimate bloodline heir of the Yeon family-- a born winner. That's who I am. Therefore, I must be better than everyone else. As such, I came to prove myself. No lowly insect can compete with me in studies, in sports, in the arts. I win at everything, and yet... ... [sigh] There's one black mark. One blemish that ruins my perfection, a chip in an otherwise perfect celadon porcelain piece. Haunting me every single day.
Hajun: And that would be me?
Dongha: ...! That's correct! It's you!
[sfx: clattering]
Dongha: No matter how perfect I am, how flawless my results, I keep getting compared to a cast-out mutt! How can you possibly understand the pain of being constantly compared to somebody who isn't even there!? There's no talking your way out of it or denying it's happening! Everyone around me smiles and nods and blows smoke up my ass, while crossing fingerss behind their backs while they weight in their heads which of us is better between me and you! [huffs, almost crying] ... [sigh] And that's why I decided I have to let the world know that that you're nothing compared to me. To take you on with the same weapon, on the same stage, at the Paradox Live! To determine which of us is truly bettter! That's the only way!
Hajun: You truly decided to do phantom lives for that reason alone? To defeat me?
Dongha: ...! Yes!
Hajun: Without any regard for the danger? Going against your parents' will?
Dongha: That's correct!! This has nothing to do with the Yeon family! Not father, not mother! This is something I've chosen for myself!
Hajun: Hm.
Dongha: I've been given everything, but for the first time in my life, this is a choice I've made for what I really want! To do phantom lives!
Hajun: ...
Dongha: [laughs] I'll destroy you and those you hold dear! I'll stomp you, and smash you, and make you grovel under my heel! Once I've done that, nobody will compare me to you ever again!!

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