Star Ocean The Second Story

2001: Another Star Odyssey (Home Again)
By Paul Beaudoin

* Chapter 15: The Battle of the Bands *

The weeks after the shopping trip were at the same time hectic, yet not really. Both Cyril and Indalecio practiced extremely hard with their respective bands for the upcoming battle of the bands. Claude and Company, meanwhile, spent their time searching for possible hideouts of Orin, and also waited for their weapons to be completed. Time passed, and eventually the highly publicized battle of the bands drew near. Both groups felt that they were at their best (which, admittedly, wasn't all that terribly good, but what do you expect from amateurs).

The Wise Men traveled to Central City to get ready for the concert and make any last adjustments. Before long, the big event began: The fourth Annual Energy Nede Battle of the Bands, sponsored by various radio stations and musical equipment outfitters around the planet.

"All right," Indalecio said, backstage, to the other members of the group, who called themselves Clingshrimp. "We're fifth on the list. First, it's Guttersnipe, then Ketta, then Cyril's group, then Sledgehammer Conspiracy, then us, and finally The Co-Egg."

"I think that's The C.O.E.G," Berle commented.

"Yes, whatever," Indalecio said. Suddenly, there was a commotion on the main stage. The emcee for the event, a greasy-haired, middle-aged man obviously living vicariously through the youths in the crowd, walked up to the microphone, signaling the start of the event.

"How're you all doing?" he shouted into the microphone. The crowd roared at this statement. "This is Tank Sherman from KROX 93.3 FM, and I welcome you to this year's Battle of the Bands!" The crowd only got louder.

"We've got a bunch of acts this year," Tank shouted, "so let's get right into it with our first band, Guttersnipe!" Onstage walked four long-haired young men, instruments and/or drumsticks in hand.

"Are you ready to rock?" the lead singer/guitarist shouted into the microphone. The crowd roared in approval. "I can't hear you!" he shouted, inciting an even louder cheer from the crowd. "All right! Let's go," he said. "One, two, three, four!"

Somehow along the way, however, there had been a bit of a miscommunication, as the two guitarists and the bassist appeared to be playing three different songs, all at different tempos. The drummer failed to play completely. The crowd quickly reacted with a multitude of boos and some thrown debris. Guttersnipe immediately left the stage out of embarrassment.

"Well, that was quick!" Tank said, stepping up to the microphone. "Now, for our next act, the all-girl group, Ketta!"

The four young women of Ketta quickly scrambled onstage, still not completely ready for their sudden appearance. After a short introduction from the lead singer, they started into their first song. The crowd burst into cheer because, apparently, all the members of this band were operating on the same wavelength. Midway through the second song, however, the group met with disaster. While playing a guitar solo and walking around onstage, the lead guitarist tripped over the cord connecting her guitar to the amplifier. She almost knocked into the lead singer, who stepped back just in time to miss the falling girl. In doing so, though, she accidentally ran into the bassist, who was busy concentrating on the notes she had to play. Both of them went sprawling to the ground in a daze. The drummer, completely oblivious to what was happening around her, continued playing.

"Clean up on main stage," Tank said into the microphone, as Ketta scrambled offstage even more quickly than they scrambled onstage. "Next, we have a hot new up-and-coming band. You might have heard of them before. I know I have. Let's give it up for Lantis!"

The four Wise Men that formed the group walked onstage and set their instruments up. "Why bother with introductions?" Cyril said into the microphone, seemingly a clue for the band to start up their first song. Their three-song set went off without a hitch, much to the dismay of Clingshrimp, especially Indalecio.

"Wow," Tank said as the band walked offstage to a crowd rowdy with cheer. "Nothing went wrong, can you believe it? Now, for the musical styling of Sledgehammer Conspiracy!" The three young men of the band got onstage and played three songs that were full of angst. What they were angry about, exactly, was lost, as the lyrics were rather fast and somewhat slurred. But the songs were definitely full of angst.

"Now, for a short intermission," Tank said into the microphone, after Sledgehammer Conspiracy ended their set. "Afterwards, we'll have our remaining two bands and the final results!"

Down in the crowd, there was a bit of a commotion.

"Can you see him?" Claude said, hoisting Rena onto his shoulders.

"Mmmm...nope, I can't..." Rena said. "The crowd's too thick..."

"I wonder if Noel and Chisato are having any better luck," Claude said, as he lowered Rena to ground level.

"Where are they?" Rena asked.

"No clue," Claude said. Before Rena could reply, Tank walked onstage again.

"Hey!" he shouted into the microphone. "We're back with more music for you! And now, please give it up for Clingshrimp!"

The other six Wise Men gathered onstage and set up their respective instruments. Nicolus and Jibril both plugged in their guitars, Marsilio plugged his bass guitar into the amp, Berle took a seat behind the drum set, and Shigeo took his place behind a rather expensive-looking keyboard system. With a slight nod from Indalecio, they started the first song of their three song set, playing as well as their few scant weeks of practice allowed them to. A burst of applause erupted from the crowd, about the same level as the applause they gave Lantis. The six removed themselves from the stage as Tank began the introduction for the final band.

"Looks like we're about even," Cyril said, meeting Indalecio backstage.

"We'll see," Indalecio said. "Should we see how the last band performs?"

"Sounds good..." Cyril said.

"And now, ladies and gentlemen, and all the rest of you out there," Tank said. "Our final act. Straight from a place nobody is quite sure of...give it up for The Co-Egg!"

The lead singer, a spectacled boy with frizzy brownish-blonde hair who bore more than a passing resemblance to Rowan Atkinson, whispered something in Tank's ear. "Oops," Tank said. "The C.O.E.G!"

"Thank you," the boy (whom the rest of the band called "T") said with a slightly nasal tone in his voice. The other three members of the band, three young men and one young woman, quickly set up their instruments, as T prepared his bass guitar. "One, two, three, four!" he shouted as the band started into a driving song so loud, fast, and bass-heavy it was almost absurd. After a short intro, the lead singer half-sung, half-growled lyrics that made little to no sense. The crowd, almost hypnotized by the music coming from the stage, began to jump up and down, inciting mosh pits in some areas of the stadium.

"We're..." Cyril said, amazedly.

"...Screwed" Indalecio finished.

The C.O.E.G. finished their first song and immediately began another song that was just as fast, twice as loud, and and five times as crazy. During the bridge for the song, T leapt into the crowd and began crowd surfing. The crowd continued in their frenzy. After the second song finished, they started their third, which was a lot like the previous two. As a final note to that song, the female guitarist (A.K.A. "Sixy") snuck up behind T, and cold-cocked him with her guitar. The drummer ("Tigger") then threw the hi-hat cymbal at the male guitarist ("Pchan"). The keyboard player ("Iggy") simply threw random punches, which connected a surprising amount of times. These acts basically incited a riot onstage, which was best described as a fistfight with instruments. By the time the onstage fight died down, it resulted in a total of seven lost teeth, two black eyes, a broken nose, some bruised ribs, and a mess of broken instruments.

"Don't worry," Pchan said into the microphone. "It was all a part of the act."

"No it wasn't," Sixy said into a second microphone.

"Whatever it was," T said, "it was fun. Can we do it again?"

"My pleasure," Tigger said, shortly before slamming a snare drum down over T's head, which burst through the membranes of the drum. Iggy then hit Tigger over the head with a synthesizer keyboard.

"Ummm..." Tank said, rushing to the stage to prevent another set of musi-cuffs. "And now, the judging," he said. "Can I get all the bands onstage for the final results?" All six bands walked onstage and grouped up. "We'll go to the judging panel...you, the crowd! The final winner will be determined by your applause!"

"First, let's hear it for Guttersnipe!" Tank said, walking to the first group. One lone person clapped, from the very back of the room.

"And now, Ketta!" Tank shouted. A mild applause came from the crowd.

"Lantis!" A rather hearty applause came, nothing earth shattering, but still rather enthusiastic.

"Sledgehammer Conspiracy!" Another healthy applause, slightly less than that received by Lantis.

"Clingshrimp!" An applause about at the same level as the previous two.

"Finally, The Co...I mean The C.O.E.G!" A thunderous applause rocked the arena, threatening to bring the weakest of the rafters down. Several pieces of women's clothing (a fair portion of it unmentionable) flew onto the stage.

"I think we have a winner!" Tank shouted. "Let's give it up for The C.O.E.G!" Another ear-splitting round of applause rose from the crowd. The five members hoisted the gigantic novelty check, which signified their victory and cash earnings, high above their heads.

"What's the exchange rate from Fol to dollars?" T asked, still wearing the snare drum "necklace."

"Didn't that lead singer kinda look familiar?" Cyril said as the non-victorious bands filed off the stage.

"Not really...wait, yeah he did!" Indalecio said, as a shock of realization went through him. "Rig!" he shouted at the top of his lungs. "This whole thing was rigged!"

"So...I guess this is the end of our band..." Cyril said.

"Why?" Indalecio asked him.

"Well...my band lost, right?" Cyril said.

"My band didn't win, though," Indalecio said.

"Wait...you sound like you actually enjoyed this..."


"See? It's kinda infectious. Hell of a lot of funtoo."

"I'm just kinda sad that it's over now...quite the experience..."

Cyril thought for a moment. "You guys could...well..."

"Yeah?" Indalecio said.

"Our bands could always merge..." Cyril said.

"Huh? A ten member band?" Indalecio asked in disbelief. "How would that work?"

"It might take some instrument relocation," Cyril said, "but I'm sure we could make it work. Besides, Slipknot was a pretty popular band, and they had nine members..."

"And that," a voice over said, "Was the beginning of the Ten Wise Men, one of the most influential bands to ever grace the galaxy. On an interesting note, The C.O.E.G, the winners of that contest, had a mildly successful debut album. They broke up shortly before the follow-up album was to be released, however, after T nearly drowned while thinking he was a fish, Iggy shot a man for making fun of his fiancée, and Sixy gave Pchan a minor concussion for, as she said, 'no real reason at all.' Tigger just plain disappeared for a long stretch of time, and eventually came back and wondered where his band mates were.

"Next time on VH1's Behind the Music, we take a look at the life (and, for a short bit, death) of musical legend Hotblack Desatio. Until then..."

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