The Music Masters: Audio Supremacy


K. El-Amrani

Original poster

January 3rd, the calendar told him. Two days after the birth of the new year. It was the new millennium. Two, zero, zero, zero. The numbers seemed to ring in Seth's mind over and over again like an annoying alarm clock.

Seth Ramone ran a finger up to his blue Mohawk as he stared at the calendar, then back up to the ceiling. He sighed heavily, lounging on a dark red couch, his blue Gibson guitar lying out on acid-washed jeans. Behind him, a window revealed all the grandeur of midtown Manhattan. From the comfort of this twelve person suite in the tall skyscraper that 5 Records called their headquarters, Seth had the best view of the city that he could ever possibly want. But he didn't want to see the view. He sighed again, his gaze drifting around the lounge. Sure, it was vast and nice, equipped with a huge flat screen television and plenty of couches, but it was becoming boring. Especially considering the fact that he was alone in the middle of all of it.

Seth figured people would have arrived way before him. He'd barely caught his bus and had to walk all the way from downtown in the rain to make it here, so he more than expected at least one person to already be here. Tomorrow was Audio Supremacy, after all.

Audio Supremacy...

An event comparable to the World Cup for Music Masters. Hell, it practically was the World Cup, Seth thought. Music Masters from Japan to New York would be there. Zero Beat, who was responsible for the entire event, made the prize very clear to all the Music Masters who had been given the lucky chance to compete. They'd be fighting for the Platinum Record, a trophy that was priceless and represented immense power and status to all Music Masters. With the Platinum Record in their hands, suddenly a nameless Music Master could make a name for himself. It was almost a prize worth dying for.

But did Seth really want it? He was starting to think the whole thing was a bad idea. Somehow, through a stroke of luck, he'd been one of the twenty four Music Masters among thousands that had made it onto the list of competitors. He'd been esctatic when he first received the invitation, but after finding out how long the trip to the city would take and how much it would cost him, his excitement had gone down significantly. As he lounged like a lazy lizard, strumming aimlessly on his guitar, he began to think about Kim. Sweet little Kim. He'd only been away from home for two days, and he was already starting to miss his little sister. Seth sat up from the couch, and a gust of air made his orange Aloha shirt sway upwards.

Seth's eyes perked up as the newcomer closed the door behind him. His face was obscured under a dark red baseball hat, with the rest of his garb showing a variety of arterial colors from black to purple to dark crimson. His shirt, the only white thing he wore, was splattered with blood. Seth assumed it was probably just the design, until the guy sat down next to him and finally showed his face of course.

His smile was wide, but it was not at all endearing. Something about his teeth had a very evil air to them; his canines looked sharper than normal, and the way his eyes hid under the lip of his cap didn't help much. Seth tried to ignore the creepy aura this guy was giving, opting to introduce himself to dispel the heavy feeling in the air.

"Can you believe it? Ten years and people come rushing back here for another bout of Audio Supremacy. Time flies. The name's Seth Ramone, by the way. Figure we might introduce ourselves, since we'll probably be up against each other sometime tomorrow."

The guy's grin didn't change. He spoke through his teeth, and they gnashed with every word.

"Gosh," he said sarcastically. "You're actually going to survive that long? I was under the impression I wouldn't get the chance to rip your head off."

Seth was taken aback, wondering if he had heard right. "Excuse me, man? That's a joke, right?"

"The name is Trey, and I think you should ask yourself; is he really joking, or is he really just one crazy motherfucker?" he exclaimed, dark eyes showing from underneath the lip of his cap. Then, before Seth could say anything in reponse, Trey got up from the couch and made his way to one of the empty rooms. The door closed almost silently behind him as he disappeared behind a plain white door. Seth didn't know what to think at first, so he began to strum on his guitar again. The guy was a bit messed up, Seth guessed. Most of it was probably an act.

A song was beginning to emerge on Seth's guitar just as his acute ears picked up the sound of the doorknob turning up ahead. Seth shuffled on the couch as he addressed whoever was coming through the door, hoping that he wasn't going to have to spend the rest of today with more people like this Trey character.

"Please tell me that you're not fantasizing about ripping off my head too. Just think about could be ending a beautiful relationship right there!" he remarked jokingly. After all, the comedian wasn't dead just yet...
"Yes!" Billy shouted when she recieved the news. She had been accepted as one of twenty four competitors in Audio Supremecy.

She began heading toward the 12 person suite immediately. Well, sort of. She had woken up late, all partied out from New Year's Eve/Day. Billy spiked up her black hair, making sure to leave one or two strands hanging down in front of her grey eyes. Despite her appearance, Billy wasn't a full-on rocker. She liked rap and techno, among other genres. Though, she'd admit, she liked the rocker-style more.

Sometime later, Billy arrived at the 5 Records' building. Wearing black jeans with chains and a plain-red t-shirt, Billy asked where to go from there. Finally, she made it up to the floor where she would be staying. She waited before entering the room, wondering whether or not others had arrived. She hoped they had, then at least she'd have someone to talk to.

She pulled down her dark-blue headphones and hung them around her neck. Carefully, and slowly, Billy enterd the room. She was greeted by a voice asking her if she wanted to tear his head off.

Billy blinked, shocked, "No, should I be fantasizing of such things?" She stepped in and saw the young man sitting on the couch. "Did I come to the right place?" she asked him, curious.
"Hehehehe, guy tries to get a laugh out of someone, and the person doesn't get the joke. What else is new..." Seth said, a drawn-out look pasted on his face.

"My name's Seth, and I'm going to take a wild guess. You got chosen for Audio Supremacy? Lucky you! Lucky all of us, really..." Seth remarked, with a hint of biting sarcasm in his voice.

"I suggest you stay away from the white door on the far left. Some guy named Trey went down that way. Seemed a bit crazy to me."

Seth went back to strumming on his guitar again, not particularly interested in really starting a conversation. Still, he didn't know the girl's name, whoever she was. And she was kind of cute, he might admit, but then again he wasn't here for that. He was here for the competition, and the small possibility of winning the Platinum Record. And of course, he couldn't forget that, after all, his little sister was the most important girl in his life. Seth seriously doubted that fact would ever change.

"Will you please move?" a nasty voice said from behind the girl. A young woman, her face framed by glasses and wearing a scowl that could kill a crocodile, glared at the person blocking her way with dark intensity in her eyes.

"Everybody's in a bad mood, today, huh?" Seth said, before turning to look up at the ceiling again. "Oh, other girl who's not being a bitch, I didn't catch your name." he asked, comfortable in his honesty and not once assuming that he'd pay for it.
"Yikes, what's up with the hostility?" Billy asked, stepping aside to allow the woman to pass. What a way to start out, everyone would end up killing eachother before the competition even started.

"Anyway, my name's Billy," she told Seth.

She glanced around, wondering if the rooms were assigned or if she could just take whichever one. Deciding she would figure it out later, Billy went to a small table that was near a large window. There were a few chairs surrounding it, so Billy sat down and looked out at the view. It was really quite nice, so she decided that the hostile competitors wouldn't ruin her stay.

Besides, she thought with a little smile, They really should enjoy this, they won't have much else to celebrate when I win.

Billy knew she was being cocky, but she was interpreting it as confidence. She needed that confidence, that drive, if she really was going to win. Though, deep down inside, she wasn't all that sure.
Everything seems so emotionless, Seth thought. It was as if no one cared that they were going to be sharing this living with other people for the duration of the tournament, which would be lasting for four days, at least. Pushing his guitar aside, Seth just watched as the bitch from before, who had long raven black hair and wore a neon green hoodie, made her way into one of the rooms without so much as saying another word.

"The people start coming..." Seth said in a low voice, which was followed by a loud slam as the woman with the black hair closed her door violently. Finally, he could take it no longer, and Seth stood up from the couch, stretching his arms out and straightening his back. He'd been laying there for what now; two, three hours? Even so, that was probably a bit of an exaggeration.

With an audible groan, Seth's stomach called for food. He was built like a human walking stick, but his appetite certainly should have made him obese. Licking his lips, Seth turned to the only person he could see, and the only person in this place that he thought was sane.

"Hey! Billy, right? You're female, so you must now how to cook. Go be a dear and make me some food." he declared, leaving a noticeable pause before he smiled again and laughed.

"Hehehehe, that was a joke. I'm just going to order some pizza or something. You want in?"
Billy raised an eyebrow and smirked. "I know how to cook, but not because I'm female. I like cooking," she told him, standing up.

"Anyway, I'd rather get pizza. Should we bring some for her?" she asked, motioning to the slammed door. "And for the other guy you said was here?"

She knew they were being prickly, but they may warm up if they were given food. She walked over to Seth. "Do you know any good pizza places?"
The front door leading into the suite seemed to open and close so fast that Seth didn't immediately notice anyone coming in. His gaze was averted from Billy as he stared towards yet another newcomer, but unlike the last one, he seemed more than willing to talk. Perhaps a little too willing, in fact.

"O-M-G! Did I just hear someone say pizza? I love pizza! Do you know what my favorite kind of pizza is? Totally pepperoni! Do you know why? Oh my gosh! It's so good I could scream. The way it tastes, the spices, the flavor, it makes me want to go straight up to Heaven!" the teenage boy said, s huge smile now on his face. He was shorter than Seth, and sported a mop top haircut and a baggy shirt with the words "I Want It That Way...Totally" written in big black font.

The phone he was about to use to call for pizza had stopped right next to Seth's ear. His eyebrows were raised in confusion as he glanced back at Billy and then gave the boy a nervous smile. "Well, hello there. We're gonna order some pizza...and I guess you're welcome to have some..."

The boy jumped on the couch and nearly landed on Seth's lap. He smiled before his lips went off again. "Oh, that is so great! I'm Martin! My friends call me Mart for short, but that's totally up to you guys. I'm so excited for Audio Supremacy tomorrow, because I get to show the whole world of Music Masters all the wonderful music I love! It's going to be sooooo exciting!"

"That's great, Mart." Seth said as he dialed the number for a nearby pizza place. He knew nothing about this city or the places one could eat at, of course, and Seth was about to tell Billy that until he had been interrupted by Martin's arrival.

"Why don't you talk to Billy over here while I get our order in? I'm sure you probably have plenty of great music to tell her about..." Seth said with a hint of sarcasm in his voice, before the worker on the other line picked up and Seth began to give him their order for four pies of pepperoni pizza.

"Oh! Great idea! So Billy, I am totally in love with 'N Sync and the Backstreet Boys. Best bands ever! Like, I don't think you've heard real music until you've heard them, right? Am I right, Billy?" Martin said, his voice running at a hundred miles a minute. He smiled wide before literally leaning across the couch over Seth until he was uncomfortably right up in Billy's face.

"So what kind of music do you like? Pop? Rock? Eastern ballads? Polka? Or maybe disco. Hahahaha, that would be pretty funny! Nobody likes disco anymore!"
Billy smiled at the sight of the new boy. "Mind if I call you Marty?" she asked him cheekily. She listened as he spoke on and on about music and pizza. As great as it was to have someone who wasn't grumpy, she couldn't help but think that the kid had way too much sugar in his diet.

She got rather overwhelmed at all of his questions. "Nsync is alright, the Backstreet Boys too, though they're not really my favorite." She cast a quick exasperated smile at Seth, then turned back to Martin. "I listen to rock, rap, and some techno. But hey, don't rag on disco, it's classic kid!" she told him. "Plenty of people still like disco."
"Hey!" Marty whined. "I'm not a kid. And I don't think many people like disco anymore. Except for old people. But you know, they're old, so they don't really count."

Seth hung up the phone, having successfully ordered the pizzas. His stomach growled loudly again, and he placed a free hand over it in an attempt to quell the noise. His other hand went on Martin's shoulder. He gave the guy a knowing smile. "What's wrong with being old? You know, old music is really something else if you ever decide to give it a chance. My advice to you, Mart: don't always go listening to what Zero Beat says is good. They're not always right."

Martin choked on his words for a moment. "Wait! How did you kn-"

"Trust me, Mart. I know."

"Okay. I trust you, Seth. We can be best friends!" Marty said, putting a friendly arm around Seth's shoulders until their cheeks were practically touching. Seth smiled awkwardly, but nevertheless patted him on the back.

"Yeah, whatever you say, man." he replied. Truthfully, he liked the kid's spirit. It was just too bad that he might have to beat him bad if they had to face each other tomorrow.

"So Billy," Seth said, his mind realizing that she'd been out of the loop this whole time. "What's your story? You come from some small town out west or something? You sure don't seem like you're from the big city. I came down on a bus from Jersey just this morning, and man was that a hell of a ride. And not the good kind of hell. The bad kind. The really bad kind."
Billy laughed, "You two would be perfect as best friends."

She looked over at Seth, "I guess you could say that. I am from a pretty small town, but it's not too far in the west. It's more..." She paused for a moment, thinking. "It's more north-west," she finished, smiling. "A really quaint town actually, nice and quiet. It was no place for me to grow up." Billy laughed whole-heartedly. "I always was the loudest one in my classes."
"Loud." Seth chuckled, "Why do I feel like I can relate to that?"

Martin smiled awkwardly as an air of silence emerged between the three of them. Seth turned around for a moment, glancing back at Trey's door and wondering what the guy could possibly doing inside. He turned back to Billy and Martin quickly. Truthfully, he didn't want to know.

"You guys would love my little sis Kimberley. She's a real sweetheart." Seth said, and he barely got to breathe before Martin shot back a quick response.

"Oh, I love kids! They're so cute and adorable! I can't wait to have like three thousand of them once I get married." he exclaimed, leaving Seth with very little to say in response. The Mohawk-headed boy just shook his head and laughed, before a thought came to his mind that he couldn't help but mention.

"Hey, did you guys hear about what happened with the Pop 5? Apparently they were broken up in 1999, not in 2000 like Zero Beat said. Had to with some sort of controversy involving the group members themselves; a friend of mine thinks they were trying to undermine Zero Beat. They were starting to think being hired guns wasn't the best option for them."

Seth's face became serious all of a sudden. "And you want to know what I think? If that's the truth, then good for them. God knows someone needs to stand up to Zero Beat. If all these so-called world governments that we depend on are in on all this, and they do nothing, then who will?"

"Gosh." Seth continued, wondering how he had gotten to this conversation solely because he didn't know what to talk about while waiting for food. "Here I am spewing anti-Zero Beat words while we wait for the tournament they sponsor in a suite they paid for. Talk about being a hypocrite."
Billy laughs. "I like kids too, but I think I'll stick to only three or four," she told Marty.

She turned to Seth. "Hmm... I don't know what I think about all that. I suppose I'm on the same boat as you, someone does need to stand up to Zero Beat." She laughed a little and winked at him. "Say, why don't you do it?" she asked him,"Of course, it'll have to be after the competition. We wouldn't want to get thrown out, eh?"
"I don't know. The only thing that might stop me is Kimberley. Trying to take down the big ZB isn't worth it if there's any chance she could get involved. But I guess it's not all bad. Someone's going to be getting the Platinum Record when this is all over." Seth said with a grin as he laid back on the couch with his hands behind his head.

"I'm so excited to win it! O-M-G, if my friends see me with the Platinum Record..." Martin began, but his voice seemed to die down due to the pure excitement running through his body. He seemed to stay frozen in a day dream, happiness pasted across his face.

"That's nice, Mart. But it should be really obvious who's going to win the Platinum Record." Seth stated, before picking up his Gibson guitar next to him and making a quick victory strum.

"It should be very obvious."
Billy smirked and laid back against the couch. She closed her eyes, the smirk still on her face. "Ah. Yes, it IS very obvious," she said, a hint of cockiness in her voice.

"ME," she said.

Billy opened her eyes and winked at the two boys again. "That's right gentlemen, revel in my presence while you still can," she said playfully. She laughed again.
"Hahahaha, that's a good one, Billy! You almost had me there!" Martin said with a loud laugh, and he rolled back and forth on the couch as he giggled childishly over the prospect of her winning the Platinum Record. Seth just looked back at Billy and gave her a knowing smile. There was no way he was going to let her win. There was no way he was going to let a girl beat him and make him look bad.

"I agree with Mart. It's nice to have dreams and all, Billy, but sometimes you just have to let them go when the mako sharks come to feed. After all, there's always going to be a bigger fish. Like me." Seth said, whispering the last part of his statement.

Realizing that he had been perhaps sitting too long by now, Seth stood up and cracked his neck. It felt good to be off that couch. His body seemed primed for action, but of course, it needed other things first. His stomach grumbled loudly again, causing Seth to groan.

"Arrrrrgh! Where the hell is MY pizza? I am DYING over here!" he complained, before his fingers began to play a sad melody on his guitar as his mind imagined the pepperoni flavor.

Martin giggled from the couch. "And people tell me that I'm a whiner..."
Billy glared at the two boys, pouting a little. "Whatever you two. Just 'cause I'm a girl. I'm going to beat you both, just you wait," she told them.

She looked up at Seth when he stood off the couch, smiling. "Ha, if I had called, they would've come just for the sake of not starving a pretty girl." She stood up as well and walked back to the window, looking out. "Relax, the pizza guy's car just got here," she told them, "We'll get food soon."
"Why do I get the feeling that you're just saying that?" Seth remarked, before he too decided to to go take a look out the window. Billy was right, of course, and Seth could easily spot the telltale car with the obvious "99 Cents Fresh" logo on it. Seth licked his lips before moving away from the window and towards the door. Reaching into his back pocket, he began to count his cash. Sure, he had just enough, but it couldn't help but irk Seth that Zero Beat wasn't the one paying for his pizza.

Minutes passed in silence, which was a big surprise considering that Martin seemed to be expressing the most impatience with his fidgeting. Finally, Seth could hear sounds coming from the door. He reached for the doorknob excitedly, only to have the door pushed right into his face. He backed up, rubbing his nose and trying to ignore the pain of being bumped hard in such a sensitive spot.

"Don't tell me all the pizza guys around here know how to pick locks. Now I feel extra safe..." Seth commented, only to receive a snide reply from the new girl coming through the door.

"Ugh, me, delivering your pizza? As if! I'm just being a generous person for once by taking care of the expense. I did happen to cross paths with the poor delivery guy after all. He didn't stand a chance." the girl said in a highly egotistical tone of voice as she revealed herself to all.

To say she was good-looking was an understatement; their was a certain mystery to the beauty captured in her mocha-colored skin and her deep brown eyes. Long black hair almost partially covered one eye, and her ensemble, consisting of a red tank top, and a dark magenta Flamenco skirt, seemed to just make her presence all the more noticeable. She gave Seth a sly smile before closing the door behind her and setting the two pizza boxes in his waiting hands.

"So this is the motley crew that's going against me in Audio Supremacy? You can't be serious. Why, you all look like you walked out of West Bronx with nothing more than twenty cents to spend on clothes. Especially you, my dear..." the girl said, her eyes staring directly at Billy at criticizing her wardrobe with nothing but her gaze alone.

Suddenly preoccupied with the girl in front of him, Seth put the pizza aside and forgot about it for a moment. Martin, on the other hand, reached for the first steaming slice and began to chomp down.

"Who are you supposed to be, if you don't mind me asking, coming in here thinking that you're suddenly better than the rest of us?" Seth said in a sufficiently annoyed tone. Martin laughed between pizza bites.

"Hehehehe, you're one to talk, best friend."

The girl pushed her hair aside and shot Seth a perfectly arrogant look. "A better question is, just who are you supposed to be? Wearing such unattractive summer clothes during the winter? How sad. And for your information, I am Selena, and I intend to win Audio Supremacy. I suggest you niños just save yourselves the trouble of even competing in the first place."
Billy's left eye twitched at the comment Selena made about her wardrobe. "Sorry we aren't all wealthy enough to look like parrots," she mumbled, though deep down she thought the other girl's clothes were beautiful. Billy pinched the bridge of her nose nervously. "Boy, the characters I'm meeting today."

She looked up at Selena. "Well Miss, my name is Billy. Don't let our wardrobes fool you, I can assure that we'll be your greatest challenges," she saod, looking at Seth and Martin. "Isn't that right?" she asked, her gaze steady and determined.

Billy crossed her arms and went over to stand next to Martin. She too grabbed a slice of pizza. "Don't think for a moment that I'LL let you win so easily. Don't judge books by their covers."
"Whatever. Let her think what she wants. It's not really going to matter much." Seth stated as he finally took a slice for himself and plopped down on the couch. Martin followed like an obedient little puppy dog, while Selena continued to look down at them as if they were still inferior to her. Seth just glared back at her as chomped through cheese and pepperoni alike.

"Well? Are you going to eat, or what?" he asked. Selena just smirked before brushing his question off completely.

"As if. Do you know what that will do to my figure? I think I'll pass." she said, before she made a stride over to the door that Trey had claimed earlier. Seconds before she was about to open the door, Seth found the urge to say something. He was quick about it too.

"I wouldn't go in there if I were you." he said between bites. "It's taken, and the guy inside is a real nut. If you go in, don't say I didn't warn you."

There was a moment of silence, where even Martin wouldn't talk, before Selena finally said something.

"Whatever. I'll take this pitiful room then. Have fun eating your slop. I need my rest so that I can win in style." Selena declared, before entering the tan door and closing it shut behind her. Martin giggled when he thought she was inside where she couldn't hear him.

"Hehehehe, she's so sure of herself. That's funny."

Seth laughed with him, realizing he had said something smart for once. "Yeah, she's an arrogant one, it seems like. Hot, I'd say, but arrogant."

"Still..." Seth continued as he licked the sauce off his hands. "She seems to know when to listen."
Billy clenched her fist. "That girl. She's so full of herself! I don't care who wins, as long as she doesn't," she says, glaring at the door. After a moment, she turned to glare at Seth. "You shouldn't have told her about that nut-job guy! I know it's mean, but still," Billy said.

She sighed and started eating her slice of pizza. "I really wish people wouldn't be so hostile."