Momoko - A Light in the Darkness

Description: Do you remember all of the times your parents told you not to stay out too late? That you shouldn't wander alone because there are things that lurk in the darkness waiting for innocent victims to prey upon? Most people think those are stories, tales to frighten beligerent children into obedience. But there are monsters, real monsters, in the world - and they don't care if you believe in them or not.

The sun has already begun its final descent into the horizon when Momoko finishes her performances for the day, the blazing golden disk blurring into a muted smear of orange and red that spreads across the cloudy sky like spilled paint as it vanishes into the skyline of Southtown's business district. The cold weather has kept most people indoors today but a few of her regular fans insisted that the show must go on and the little dancer has never been one to disappoint.

Today's dancing took place nestled between a few of the small shops in the broad mall plaza instead of out in the open park, however, to avoid the chill of the biting winds. No one complained about the change of venue. Despite the slightly cramped quarters the crowd was much smaller so it all worked out okay. Even so, by the time every one had said their goodbyes she was positively frigid and quite eager to make her way back home and bury herself underneath a warm blanket and her small mountain of stuffed animals.

No doubt she'd get scolded for staying out so late with the cold but she's looking forward to that too, in a weird sort of way. Her parents are always so worried about her because of her size, always afraid of what might happen. The horror stories they could think up! But that is only because they care about her and want her to be safe, so she does her best to tolerate their parental over-protectiveness.

Wrapping herself in a thick wool-lined jacket, Momoko hurries along as best she can. The last bus for the night will be running soon and if she misses that, she'll have to walk a couple miles back to the small apartment complex. In this weather, she'll catch a cold for sure! The mere thought adds fuel to her tiny little legs and she jogs at a decent clip towards the corner of the next block.

Alas, luck is not on her side today. The fading tail lights of the large public transport wink out of view just as she crests the hill, vanishing as the bus turns the corner towards its next stop and out of her reach. Momoko reaches a hand out towards the fleeting carriage but promptly slumps, her arms and head flopping limply upon realizing she's going to have to hoof it.

"Well, it's not getting any warmer," she mutters to herself. The breeze at cuts through her a moment later reinforces this point and the petite girl clutches her arms against her body, shivering reflexively as she moves towards the nearest alley at a healthy clip. Normally, she'd stick to the streets, parental request and common sense, but with the wind cutting into her coupled with the distance she'll have to travel, the shelter and short cut that the narrow passages provide is temptation enough to break her promise just this once.

It is frigid, but not an unpleasant night. With the New Year approaching quickly, there's almost a sense of tranquility in the air. The crescent moon stands clear in a nearly cloudless light, even some stars managing to penetrate the fog of luminary pollution to inspire the city proper. So what if she has to walk? Outside a few huffs of steamy breath, the city is large and expansive. This isn't the bad part of town, as if a random mugger or vagabond might be of any actual threat to Momoko outside in droves... and with her legs, there's few people around who could catch her in the worst cases.
The alley itself is mostly abandoned, a few cardboard boxes and other bits of debris littered. It goes on farther than might be expected, but this isn't the sort that the homeless use. There's too much activity, smooth doors leading to adjacent garbage cans. There's the cawing of a bird upon a nearby building, and the plaintive meow of a desperate stray cat popping out from the darkness to try and con a pet out of Momoko, or perhaps a morsel of food.
Suddenly there's an explosion of motion, as the twilight crow takes to the skies with a surprised squawk. The cat tenses, arching his back with a hiss as he glares further into the alley and bolts off. A few moments later, the cold seems to deepen. Shadows crawl, like skeletal fingers. Above, it is as if the moon is caught within a strange haze, the very stars beginning to wink out one by one.
Her emotions pick up on something exceptionally strong... and one of the most pure, untainted directives she might have ever brushed against in her budding life as a psycho fighter.
Killing intent.
This is not something tainted by emotions. There is no desire in her as a woman, no underlying stress or darkness. Just a simple void. Even a tiger has the drive of instinct and starvation. It is almost medical in it's sterility, but that only makes the strength all the greater.
"It is a good evening..." comes from behind Momoko. A tall, slender individual within a full black robe with voluminous sleeves stands. A strange white mask covers his face, mildly skeletal. Shimmers of black and crimson chi slither up and off him, like ink within water.
"A good evening to die..."
Suddenly he moves. It is a strange, lurching motion. In a single thrust, a flash of crimson chi flares into the air. It is aimed at Momoko's throat. It's fast, but not so fast that she cannot escape it, although she may very well be grazed. There's finally a sense now, when the initial attempt to end her life failed.
"Ah... first you sense me... then you resist me...?!" The deep voice hisses, before bringing up curled fingers. And then in a violent flare of crescent blood, the suit is annihilated in a heartbeat, mask split down the middle and falling away. Dyed crimson hair hangs around attractive features, tight muscle shirt seguing into wildly contrasted pants of triangular black and white. A necklace of drill bits dances around his neck. The shreds of attire slowly fall like snow about him, mask hitting the ground and exploding into fragments.
"I was going to make it painless...!!"

COMBATSYS: Freeman has started a fight here.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Freeman          0/-------/-------|

COMBATSYS: Freeman takes no action.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Freeman          0/-------/-------|

Pleasant as it may be, Momoko is in no mood to enjoy the scenery. Even with her jacket there's a chill in the air that seems to be almost unnatural and it lends a swiftness to her steps that carries her through the zig-zagging passageways as if floating on the wind itself. She's only had these sorts of strange feelings once or twice before, vague hints of wrongness or just a general ominous feeling. Ofcourse, they turned out to be nothing. This would too, she knows, but it doesn't make her feel any better at the moment.

When the cat steps out of the shadows and into her path the girl nearly jumps right out of her shoes. Instead, she stumbles to a halt mere moments before she would have flattened the poor thing and exhales a sigh of relief.

"You silly cat! You almost gave me a heart attack!"

She gives it a stern look of reproach for a moment but quickly turns that into a smile when it meows at her. Momoko kneels down and extends her hand towards the bedraggled creature to see if it will allow her to stroke it a few times. She's handled strays before. There's no time to take this one to the shelter tonight but her parents shouldn't have any problems with letting it sleep in a box for the night so it's out of the cold.

"C'mere little guy. Let's get you somewhere nice and warm."

The crow's shrill cawing sets off a chain reaction from the cat and it hisses at her in surprise, causing the girl to squeak and drop backwards onto her butt to avoid getting bitten or clawed. The feline darts away at breakneck speed before she can recover her wits and the dark ominous feeling washes over her far stronger than before. Momoko seizes up, eyes going wide in inexplicable empathetic recognition of the terrible energies that have filled the air around her.

It isn't until the voice breaks through the haze of dread that she finally reacts, sucking in an audible gasp of frigid air in surprise. Her head snaps towards the man now rapidly approaching her down the alley. He's already so close. How did she not hear him? A cold sweat breaks out over her entire body as the masked individual fills the night with his bizarre and deadly spirit. It seems to choke the very life out of the air around her and she feels her breath grow short, chest heaving with a sudden effort to fill her lungs with oxygen.

When his hand lifts, Momoko moves. It isn't a conscious reaction for there was no time for her to think, merely do. A warning screams in her head and she recoils from the images of death that flash before her, jerking her body to the side mere moments before the deadly chi lances out at her throat. A sharp burning sensation stings the skin of her neck and something wet and sticky dribbles down to stain her jacket and shirt. She touches it and her fingers come away with blotches of dark red blood.

Momoko screams; atleast, she tries to, but the power in her voice dies out before fully forming becoming a wet panicked strangling gasp instead. Hurriedly, she pushes to her feet and takes several steps back, somehow unable to tear her eyes and her thoughts away from the avatar of violence that stands before her.

"S-stay away from me!"

COMBATSYS: Momoko has joined the fight here.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Freeman          0/-------/---====|-------\-------\0           Momoko

"Shhh..." Freeman states, beginning to walk towards her. It is so casual. There is no stance here; he's slouched his shoulders forward, arms dangling, straight as a board. Each breath comes in with an almost desperate suck, and a shudder runs through that trembles down his limbs to flexing fingers. Despite it all, he's remarkably fast. The way he moves distorts the perception of space... suddenly he's upon her once more, sliding a foot forward and then rearing back his right hand. Fingers splay out, like the claws of a tiger.
"To die young and innocent... is the greatest gift I can offer." With that he swings, a violent arc that slashes through the air. Vorpal energy hanging in a fading aftermath as he shrieks, twisting into a backhanded slash lower on her stomach, and then twirling into a sharp jab of his fingers at her face, each one able to rip, cut, destroy. His chi is strange enough to be felt even by a psion, as if the shadows around her were growing deeper, her feet sinking into her own grave, the reaper's scythe holding overhead.
Death. Death is in the air here. It has come for her... but can she resist it?

COMBATSYS: Momoko blocks Freeman's Vision of Despair.

[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////////   ]
Freeman          0/-------/--=====|==-----\-------\0           Momoko

COMBATSYS: Freeman has left the fight here.

[   \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Momoko           0/-------/-----==|

COMBATSYS: Momoko has ended the fight here.

Momoko screams again and this time she finds her voice, a shrill piercing wail of inexplicable terror exploding out of the small girl to fill the enclosed space. Her arms rise up defensively to meet the deadly slicing waves of murderous power and the first slash tears into the thick sleeves of her jacket. Twin slashes erupt from the padded wool lining and fresh spots of red quickly well up to stain the pure white fluff.

The reverse handed swipe at her midsection opens another deep gouge into the protective layer of her jacket and the hot pain that washes through her body causes the student to buckle to her knees just in time to avoid having her eyes gouged out by the final thrust. Momoko hits the ground on all fours, teeth gritting against the fresh pain of her wounds as tears well up in the corner of her eyes.

This is all wrong. This wasn't supposed to happen! If she'd just been a little faster, paid a little more attention to the time, if she'd listened to her parents and avoided the dark alley at night. She is a good girl! She does her homework and finishes her chores and helps out those in need! This isn't supposed to happen to her!

Despite the fear gripping at her soul with bony claws, something else wells up inside of her as she thinks these things in the short few moments it takes her to crumple to the ground. Heat rises up in her chest, swelling outwards like lava erupting from a dormant volcano; anger. "This isn't supposed to happen to me!" She hisses it fiercely, clinging to the words for strength. No way she's going to let this creep have his way!

Lifting her head slightly give her assailant a fierce glare through her tear-stained eyes, Momoko begins to glow with a faint nimbus of energy. It's subtle at first, a barely perceptible glow at the edges of her outline like a trick of the moonlight. But as she rises to her feet defiantly, it starts to swell, rising up to meet the death that stares her in the face.


Leaping into the air in a sudden frenzy of motion, the tiny girl's body spins like a top and her leg whips out at the tall man. Brilliant sparkles of pink light erupt in the air to trace the path of her strike like comic dust in the wake of a blazing comet as it tears through the vast darkness of space. Ethereal fire erupts around her body as the foot drives towards Freeman's chest pushing back against the enclosing void that had sought to hold her fast.

COMBATSYS: Momoko successfully hits Freeman with Aumada Materu.

[       \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////////////     ]
Freeman          1/-------/=======|==-----\-------\0           Momoko

Blood drips from Freeman's extended fingers, who looks at it with something akin to fascination. Spattering down upon the ground, he does a savage flick that stains the nearby dirty brick wall before bringing it up to his mouth to give a slow lick. This man isn't human. Every single sense, both instinctual and through the perhaps currently unwanted communion of a talented psionic, shrieks of a monster, a demon, something with no soul. Nay, a void that seems to draw everything else in...
"You struggle so..." Freeman states, attempting to twist away from the fierce assault, before multiple kicks strike the man directly in the face. He's staggered backwards, the last one sending him flying backwards, hitting the ground hard. That had a strange feel, as if he was somehow more malleable than a true person ought to be. But then his knees drag up, pressing heels flat to the ground. In an inhuman manner he draws back to his feet, lolling arms behind as if a puppet's, and returns upright. His nose is badly bleeding, as is his lip, but the thrum of pain seems to echo in an empty shell. It does not reach his mind.
"Death comes for all... oblivion is nothing to fear. Come... embrace it. The only joy in my life... is in passing on this peace to others...!!" His voice becomes quick and wicked, before he darts forward again.
Both hands suddenly move to slam down upon Momoko's shoulders, gripping tight -- if he succeeded he would vault over her, suddenly ending up behind... only for a knifehand to strike and penetrate deep into her left shoulder from behind. He's aiming for her heart, but a struggling person would doubtlessly cause it to miss it's mark even if he succeeded. He moves so strangely. Momoko's training cannot guess what he might do a split second in the future, and he defies all traditional ideals of how a man should be *capable* of attacking. Like he truly was some doll, able to violently pulled from a smooth grace to brutality in a heartbeat...!!

COMBATSYS: Momoko dodges Freeman's Morbid Angel.

[        \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////////////     ]
Freeman          1/-------/=======|==-----\-------\0           Momoko

Despite shaking off the initial wave of terror that had paralyzed her into easy prey, Momoko is far from out of the woods. It's written all over her face and in the way she moves, jerky and skiddish like a frightened animal that has been cornered and forced to fight.

When the crazed man, if he can even be called that, comes for her again, the tiny girl is already moving, desperate to be anywhere but near those cutting hands. She drops to the ground once more, this time in a controlled roll that sends her tumbling just underneath the reaching fingers and through Freeman's gangly legs.

Momoko leaps to her feet with all the speed she can must and whirls around to plant one hand on the cold pavement, hefting her lower body up into the air with ease. Her rear leg sweeps up in a sweeping vertical arc, rising all the way up and over to hammer at Freeman from behind, hopefully striking before he can regain his bearings on her. The pink stars erupt from the depths of her barely controlled fear once again and bring their wrath crashing down like an aftershock of the tiny foot that summoned them to life.

COMBATSYS: Freeman counters Au Pachidou from Momoko with Creeping Death+.

[       \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////             ]
Freeman          0/-------/-----==|=====--\-------\0           Momoko

Twisting around, Freeman suddenly bursts with darkness. His eyes seem to glow red, and within the shadows all around are whispers, plaintive wisps of reaching arms that dissipate when they go too far into the light. The moon veiled above turns crimson in the wake of this supernatural chi, and the sounds of the city themselves appear to fall away. There is only him, that sense of sheer death and imminent mortality, and the darkness Momoko faces.
"Do you think... you are above death? Age... station... fame... all of it means nothing..." He walks towards her undefended, a series of silhouettes trailing behind in slow wisps. She lunges over, and seems to have a free assault, striking out towards the undefended man.
" the face of death..."
Touching him, her body freezes instantly. Light is gone. She is within the void. Cold; it is deathly cold, saturating her body down to the bones and soul. Almost gently, Freeman's hands grasp her by the face, only his eyes, uncaring, unsympathetic, within.
"Be free..."
And then he begins to tear into her, shrieking like a banshee. Wild, brutal flashes of chi sinking deep within, raking down her back, up her torso, deep into her hip and thigh, all of them ragged, deathly wounds that would bleed tenaciously. And then his arms cross, lunging forward a final time and crossing them before himself to land past her in a kneel, arms poised in a completed attack.
The darkness and paralysis dissipates, leaving Momoko standing upright. For a moment she would feel nothing but a strange sense of pressure... then blood would erupt from all of her wounds at once, all of the pain and horror sinking in like the venomed fangs of a viper. Bleeding... so much bleeding... is she already dead...?

When the onslaught of darkness comes to a sudden brutal close, Momoko is left standing in the alley. For a brief moment there is naught but a haunted look on her face, an overwhelming sense of dread that permeates every corner of her being, and in that torturous instant she knows with absolute certainty that she is going to die.

Reality catches up with her a moment later and her body simply appears to tear itself apart. Wounds erupt across her tiny frame in a single massive explosion of crimson as if the blood within her has grown a sentience of its own and seeks escape into the cold night air. Momoko gurgles in shock and pain, her mind blanked completely into a white haze of unimaginable suffering. She becomes blissfully detached from the sensation for a few wonderful moments; aware but not a part of the damage that has been done to her flesh.

It doesn't last. A cry of horrible agony explodes from her throat as all of her nerves reawaken at the same time as if a loose power cord in her brain has been suddenly reconnected. The girl jerks in the grasp of pained spasms as her muscles seize up and the strength pours out of her body to stain the cement black.

Despite this, she refuses to fall. Momoko slumps in place, her limbs flopping weakly as they struggle to maintain their posture like a marionette whose strings have been cut only to sag in such a way that its joints manage to hold it upright. The girl's bright brown eyes dull to a darker color as the spark of life dwindles in her body, her gaze becoming glassy and unfocused.

The light that permeates the air around her does not fade. It flickers and laps at the walls of the alley like a candle flame in a harsh breeze but it endures... for the moment. A faint sound fills the silence in the wake of her terrible screams, a vague whisper that is barely audible slipping from numbed pale lips like the ramblings of someone not quite conscious.

"...don't... want..."

COMBATSYS: Momoko enters a trance-like state.

[       \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////                ]
Freeman          0/-------/-----==|=======\-------\1           Momoko

"None wish to die. But a starving peasant and a grand king... all will pass. You are arrogant. That is why I am here. Had you respect death, and gave it the respect it deserved... I would have found another victim... But enough talk... Die...!!"
Once more Freeman lunges forward, his right hand flickering with chi. Weaving to the left, he comes up quickly in an attempt to catch Momoko by the face and then press the back of his cool hand to her bloodied throat. Allowing her to struggle in those moments... before a lance of chi would rip to the side, intent on cutting her open yet again. "I will bleed you of every drop... resist all you want, it will do nothing to save you...!!" If anything, once more the normally pure and twisted soul of the monster again feels almost human. He doesn't seem to desire anything but Momoko's legitimate death. In an instant, if his opening attack was true. Yet now, perhaps as punishment... the ordeal will go on far longer than he intended. What harm could come from it?

COMBATSYS: Freeman successfully hits Momoko with Gore Fest.

[        \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////                   ]
Freeman          0/-------/----===|=======\====---\1           Momoko

There is no pity or remorse to be found in the black creature that accosts her. He brings nothing but his own dark truths, rejecting her defiant will to survive the horrible and bleak inevitability of death and replacing it with suffering and pain for the arrogant belief that she might withstand its touch. A small hand weakly lifts, tiny fingers clutching at the bony wrist of the hand encircling her face but there is no power behind her grip and her struggle proves as futile as her soft whispers.

If she had believed herself beyond the ability to hurt any more than she already does, Momoko is swiftly proven very wrong. Her eyes snap into focus as the lance of dark energy rips into her body anew and a fresh scream burbles up from within, drowning into muffled gaps inside the oppressing grip of Freeman's palm. More of her precious blood spills onto the pavement in thick wet drops of crimson vitae and with it more and more of her mind begins to fade.

The emptiness that these holes create is swiftly filled with the overwhelming darkness of the terrible power that swirls and churns around her, a black tar seeping into the wounds in her soul. It rots her from the inside, hissing and searing away the light with its touch. But some of that light does not simply fade. Deep down in the dark recesses of her being, some part of the girl that is now dying cares more about survival than morality. That part of her reaches out in desperation, latching onto the darkness invading her mind and takes that power for itself.

All at once, everything changes. Energy swells up from inside of Momoko, hot and livid. It surges to the fore, seething raw violence and anger replacing all other thoughts as the power sleeping inside of her awakens in a tremendous explosion of raw pyschic force.

A pillar of ethereal non-light explodes out from the girl's small body and she shrieks in mindless outrage as pure emotion manifests itself into reality as hot searing dark purple hate. The terrible beam lances into the sky, parting the clouds with a peal of sudden unnatural thunder.

Momoko continues to scream as her psyche unleashes all of the dark hidden things that lurk beneath the surface - all of the tiny grievances and petty hatreds that she buries deep inside of herself mixing with the pain and the fear. The sound is physically oppressive and it buffets the tiny alley like a hundred speakers cranked up to eleven.


COMBATSYS: Momoko successfully hits Freeman with Esper~! EX.

[               \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////                       ]
Freeman          0/-------/--=====|===----\-------\0           Momoko

Good. Freeman can feel it. Death is claiming Momoko; wrapping around her like a coccoon. His eyes lid behind those dyed bangs, lifting his arms and leaning back. Pleasure. Only now, only here, as a person passes on... can the twisted monster feel alive. But then, a spark seems to ignite her soul. Pausing, his head tilts to the side to peer down. When the psycho power erupts out of her into the heavens, Freeman leaps backwards, skidding to a stop a distance away. "...why do you resist?" he hisses out, angry now that the moment he worked for was pried away yet again.
And then the wall of light strikes Freeman dead on. Blinding illumination casts away those bizarre shadows, the strange overcast in the sky, purity doing much to fix her very soul. When it breaks away, the strange attacker is upon the ground, blackness seeping out of him slowly. For long moments, it appears to be over. Until he speaks.
"Are you done...?"
Drawing up to his knees with his torso limp, a slough upwards brings him back up to level. Legs regain their footing, and like a great flood his own darkness surges upwards, battling against the light running rampant within Momoko. "A star shines brightest... before it burns out forever..."
And then Freeman rushes forward, shooting up. Impacting the still-burning aurora of Momoko, fingers curl before he slashes yet again, aiming to strike into her chest from shoulder to hip in a last savage lancing to drive her backwards and to the ground -- with any luck, unable to get up.
"You fought admirably. But it is futile. Give up...!!"

COMBATSYS: Momoko dodges Freeman's Vision of Death.

[                \\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////                       ]
Freeman          0/-------/-======|===----\-------\0           Momoko

A hiss spray of sparks erupts from the pillar of energy as Freeman's hand makes contact, darkness and light clashing and spitting their disgust for the other in fat globs of heat and color. Momoko glares back, her eyes empty voids of white soulfire that burn with ferocious defiance and outrage at the vile creature that threatens her.

"I... WILL... NOT... YIELD!"

The strain of holding the barrier up is apparent despite her bravado. The girl hisses her strangely reverberating retort through gritted teeth and the powerful knife-hand slowly pushes into the shimmering field, cutting inexorably downwards. She can't hold it up forever and the sheer power of the man she is up against is well beyond her own meager flare of inner strength.

But she's going to try. Not until every last drop of her strength has been bled dry will she stop resisting. Unfortunately, that won't take very much longer now. Even as she speaks the words she feels herself fading once again.

Momoko drops to one knee, hand still held out to hold up the field of light that staves off her inevitable doom. Freeman's hand looms overhead like the Sword of Damocles and that sight spurs her on to try and find something more, some scrap of power still lurking inside, but try as she might there just isn't anything more to give. With the last of her breath, Momoko whimpers in pitiful frustration at the unfairness of it. Knowing it's a futile gesture, she cries out into the night even as she slumps to the ground and the barrier falls.

"Someone... help... me..."

COMBATSYS: Momoko takes no action.

[                \\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Freeman          0/-------/-======|

COMBATSYS: Momoko can no longer fight.

[                \\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Freeman          0/-------/-======|

COMBATSYS: Freeman has ended the fight here.

"I hate it... when people fight... these hands of mine exist only to take it from the vainglorious... you are no different. Countless have shouted those words. Countless have begged mercy. But you cannot bargain with the reaper, child. Spend your time now... knowing there is no God. I have seen the endless dark. Is it nothing. You become nothing. Peace... endless peace..."
Step by step takes him closer until he looms over Momoko, and then swiftly strikes out his hand to take the young girl by the throat. Hefting her up with surprising strength to expose the left part of her chest, he rears back his free hand, chi slithering to life upon it with a wispy hiss. Even now, at the final moment, Freeman's face is utterly impassive. The pale girl before him would eventually die, even if he did nothing.
"I grant you a mercy. A mercy not to suffer. Die...!!"
And his hand shoots forward, with intent to pierce her right in the heart...!!

Every night in a city of this size, people are suffering. It is part of the human condition. A few will die. Gang related violence. A home robbery gone wrong. Cartel members vying for turf in the most violent way possible. And even matters of state and government getting decided at the tip of an assassin's knife. These things go on all the time to the point that news can't even find ways to report them in a way that will break through the ennui of the viewing audiences. No one worries it will happen to them.

Until it does. Athena Asamiya had learned that the hard way only a week and a half ago in an assault that changed her entire perspective on what it meant to fight, what it meant to wield the psychic gift she had, how it could be a weapon against the dark or a shield for the light.

That event had weighed heavily on her mind during her match with Rock Howard this evening at Taiyo High. She had approached that match unlike any before. Rather than thinking about what would look best for the crowd, what technique or daring move would make her fans the most excited, she approached it like it was a warzone and Rock Howard was the enemy that had to be given no quarter or her own life would be at risk.

Of course, it wouldn't have. But someday, it might be. And for that day, she had to prepare. The result was a decisive victory for the increasingly famous fighting schoolgirl from Justice High and the outcome of the match was still occupying much of her thoughts during the ride back to Chinatown in the back seat of a taxi. With the match over, she had changed out of her fighting attire back into her Justice High uniform. This was a school tournament, afterall, and even she understood the need for a certain pomp and circumstance as she mingled with students and fan in the aftermath of the match.

But now she could relax, occasionally leaning forward to rub a bruise on her right shin. That had been one hard kick to run into, but she did it without hesitation and that very well might have secured her the match as a whole. Even now though, her psychic energy thrumming after having been channeled and focused to such an extent as in her bout, Athena feels very little from the city around her. Blocking it all out, tuning out the sense of despair in the rougher neighborhoods, the sorrow of broken homes even in the clean ones, is a necessary burden to living in such a populated city. Master Gentsai had taught her well.

Which is why when she feels a sudden spike, the girl wincing, hand lifting over her right eye as if nursing a migraine, she is caught completely by surprise. Whatever just hit her broke through her passive emotional walls as strongly as if she had been attacked directly. Sucking in her breath, the passanger had shifted to lean against the window of the taxi, eyes widening at a sight that could only be the cause of what she juts felt.

"Please, stop the car."

Some people who had observed Athena in combat had thought the girl was just really fast at times, exceeding speeds the unskilled eye could track. What they didn't know was that she actually could teleport - moving from one spot to another in an instant, provided she had line of sight and the range was not too far.

It's the only reason she makes it in time. Instead of the chest of his defenseless victim, the nightslayer's piercing knife hand would stab into a forearm that wasn't there an instant ago. Covered in in a military-orange sleeve of a school uniform jacket, his strike impacts flesh and bone. In the same instant, as Athena Asamiya, Psycho Soldier, extends her left hand, attempting to drive her palm into the demon's chest and propel him way with a burst of powerful if unseen psychokinetic energy.

The third person present says nothing as she attempts to part the predator from his prey, her violet eyes already glowing in the dark of the alley, familiar emotions from her recent assault bubbling to the surface already. This is a monster, not a man. And this poor child needs her help.

Freeman had been too intent on the taste of death. Athena is a rapid individual, having entered the scene and then come upon him in a heartbeat. A creature of instinct as opposed to training, initially the feel of his chi-shrouded hand ripping into flesh feels natural. Only then does he realize that all is not as it seems, as Athena's palm impacts him with incredible force. Blood spatters out, as psycho power a league above Momoko thrusts through him and sends Freeman skidding backwards. He had been wounded badly by the incredible eruption of energy from the young girl... but Athena herself is still fresh from a hard battle as well. Were she at her prime, this might be already over. But...
"I see... the shadow of death upon you." states the crimson haired man. One black eye shifts to peer from between his bangs, stream of blood running far too thickly out of the corner of his mouth. Standing tall, his crimson-spattered fingers curl and relax. It's clear that Momoko is likely dying... but with him here, any attempt to save her is liable to end in a double homicide. Monsters -- the second one she's seen in as many weeks. Perhaps fate is showing her the underbelly of the world?
In a heartbeat, Freeman rushes forward, before suddenly unleashing a brutal slash towards Athena. Two more follow, each met with a bird-like shriek of annoyance. His eyes drift towards Momoko a moment, but such is something of a feint... as he hurls himself upwards, an almost listless motion before two brutal, heavy lacerating slashes are brought down with sheer power in Athena's direction!! It is difficult to tell... he seems on death's door after Athena's blow, but moves as well as Momoko has ever seen. Can such a being of scathing undeath truly be put down?

Tears stream down Momoko's face as she falls once more to the ground with a heavy thud. Dark patches of red from the pool of her own blood that she has fallen into stain her front, matting her cheerfully messy hair to the side of her head in thick clumps and marring her face like some sort of gruesome war paint. Her mouth moves weakly, jaw working to try and speak to her attacker, to say something, anything, that might pierce through the haze of darkness and stay his hand, but all that escapes her is a few raspy gasps of air.

She didn't see it clearly when the miracle happened. The pressure on her throat had let loose and she simply expected to be struck down from behind. A warm and powerful flame suddenly erupts in the darkness around her and she goes tense as another presence joins them. Unlike the dark monster that hungers for her demise, the new sensation is strangely familiar and comforting.

Has... has she been rescued? Impossible. No one could have gotten here so quickly. No one knew what terrible thing lurked in the dark alley here. And yet a figure stands between her and the creature that wears the skin of a man blazing brightly in her mind as if she were a roaring bonfire.

Insensate with pain and loss of blood, Momoko reaches a hand out towards the light as if to latch onto it and take strength from its proximity. But her gesture ends up being little more than a weak twitching of her arm in Athena's direction and all she can do is lie there and watch as events beyond her power to interfere in unfold in the dim moonlight.

The young wouldbe hero is fast. But that burst of effort it took to insert herself into harm's way on behalf of another took a lot out of her. She had already poured so much into that fight with Rock, did she have the strength to do this? Her eyes had already been opened to one type of evil in the world - that lascivious desire that burned with a need to take that which it should not have.

But now she stands face to face with a different form of darkness, black against the night, her thoughts recoil at the presence of the killer. His interest in Momoko was something entirely different, that she can tell. It wasn't a game to him as so much of Krizalid's taunting, chasing, and cornering had been. But whatever he wants with the girl behind her now, it is her will to stop it.

Violet eyes glare back at that single crimson one that peers at her from behind unkempt hair. Adrenaline sets her arms to trembling but she demands they cooperate. Unlike last week, she cannot run now that she is here. The price of saving her own life would be the girl bleeding behind her, left to the lethal touch of the stalker.

"Then you are not looking deep enough," she replies to the crimson haired man.

She can't do anything but stand in his way now. If she charges him, he could slip around to complete his execution. If she turns her back, lets down her guard, for even an instant, there is no doubt in her mind what fate would await. Sucking in her breath, the young fighter raises her hands to the ready, blood dripping to the ground from the cut in her right forearm from where she had just barely managed to stay the creature's hand.

"You will not touch her."

The statement is spoken as if a command or a directive, not a simple defiant dare made in vain. The imperative tone echoes outward from the girl, reinforced by an aura of radiant presence that is felt rather than seen. The Inhuman creature makes his move and Athena responds, a sway to the right from the first slash has her escaping the slash except for the lock of hair sliced free, black-violet strands scattered in the air. The second is ducked in similar fashion, but she's forced to kick backward from the third.

The sound of slashing fabric and flesh is heard just before the girl lands. She ignores the crimson tear angled across the front of her as her arms snap back, rose hued energy surging to answer her call before she swings them forward, launching a projectile of concentracted psionic power toward the monster. It illuminates the alley with its warm light as it surges across the space between them, but Freeman escapes it easily as he takes to the air to target the interfering girl.

Only once airborn, committed to his attacks, will he understand the commitment of the willing human shield to keep him away from the bleeding child that so desperately needs her help. This time the girl doesn't move from her place, arms slamming down at her sides, face lifting to follow his arc through the air, her mouth a thin line of intense resolve. Whatever he is, his hunt ends tonight, she tells herself.

If her hurled sphere of psychic energy was bright, what happens next is possitively blinding by comparison as the girl taps into the last of her Psycho Power reserves. A torrent of brilliant energy surges up around Athena, forming a churning shell of energy of phenomenal power. The currents crackling around her whip at the girl's clothing and hair as the alley becomes as as bright as day. From the eyes of the killer, she would appear to be the core of a newborn star, almost impossible to see through the brightness by normal eyes.

But Momoko would see something different, perhaps a byproduct of onsetting delirium from shock and bloodloss. Within the vibrant corona of Psycho Power two heavenly feathered wings apear over Athena's back before furling forward and encircling the Psycho Soldier's body.

Freeman's second slash never gets through. In the instant his savage hand lashes out, the shell of power explodes out from Athena with enough counter force to send debris flying and garbage cans smashing flat against stone walls. Yet for all that, Momoko herself would not be harmed, bathed for a fleeting moment in a presence that seems utterly unearthly in magnitude.

For her own part, Athena, mundane looking girl, slumps forward, dropping to one knee. Whatever Momoko may or may not have seen is gone now, leaving only the blood stained, slashed Asamiya in front of her in the alley.

"I will save you... please... just hold on." whispers the exhausted girl.

A high end display is certainly shown, Freeman's raw aggression now focused on a target that is far better able to resist. He strikes into the shield with intense power, struggling against it with a deep growl of effort. Only for the eruption to send him hurtling backwards, crashing into the nearby garbage cans and sliding on his back a distance away. He lay still as death when Athena looks upon him, and there's little time to focus on anything else if she wishes to try and stem the tide.
But then, quiet as a whisper, Athena would feel a wet brush of fingers against her ear from behind. "I have done more than touch her..." Freeman states, voice cold as death. He doesn't even feel alive anymore. The scorching energies of her true power unleashed has purged him. Then how does the void have a voice? How can no soul still speak and move? He does not move to attack, but such would be suicide. Athena would be able to drop her healing in time to strike him again, and he is in no further position to fight back. ...Yet although her own life and victory is not at risk, young Momoko...
"She was to die this night... but perhaps my message is granted. Little girl... treasure it. Treasure now, the fleeting life that has been granted you. Someday... It shall return. And if you grow so complacent with your mortality... that person shall be me again. And no angel shall descend to protect you...!"
Freeman then leaps backwards, twisting to catch the edge of a pipe. In a dextrous motion he flows up to the top, perching for a moment on the roof before rising to his full height. He is nothing but a black silhouette, the crescent moon hanging like the reaper's scythe behind, crimson still glinting on hands stained to his wrists with Momoko's blood.
"Toodle-doo...!" And then, the monster is gone. Slowly, steadily, the malignant chi fades... and the very chill in the air loses the supernatural edge.

Words touch her ears but she does not hear them. Momoko stares at the figure of the girl that now crouches over her with a wide-eyed gaze full of awe and disconnected awareness. Her mind is fading but what little she has left is imprinted with the vision of the angelic wings that adorned her savior's shoulders in that brief flash of intense power.

The darkness approaches again and despite the misty haze of delirum his words cut into her mind with the same razor sharp pain as the blades of deadly power that had sliced apart her flesh. The sound is like nails on a chalkboard and she cringes away, eyes squeezing shut until the vile monster retreats and is finally gone.

When she can sense his presence no more, Momoko allows her eyes to slide open and she peers languidly up into the alley. The darkness is gone. Simply hearing that thought whisper in her mind sends a surge of indescribable elation through her senses that very nearly knocks her out with its intensity. But in the moments that follow the realization of what just happened comes sweeping back in a tide of emotion and fresh tears well up in her eyes.

"I... I..."

The tiny girl whispers fiercely into the night, trying to form coherent thoughts that will make sense of what she has seen, but at last the well of her strength runs completely dry and she falls into a deep and troubled darkness.

Log created on 14:58:35 12/31/2014 by Momoko, and last modified on 06:18:02 01/01/2015.