Mortal Kombat - MK Round 2: Rust vs. Erika

[Toggle Names]

Description: "ERIKA, you will fight the child JAO in my Temple. I understand the boy has some representation that will make your task much more difficult than initially expected. Fortunately, given your abilities, I have nothing but the utmost confidence in you. This is our victory, and should we find ourselves handled well, glory will run like the rivers for those who aligned themselves to our cause."

The orange lights cast by the swirling vortexes above set a ceaseless daylight - if the light can truly be seen as anything one would call a 'day' in this place - to be filtered through the stained glass windows that sit between the base level of the tower and the surrounding environs. The light is no comfort. The gothic architecture twists the sights sinister. Skulls. Monsters. This is no place for comfort, nor rest.
Jao Puntasrima, the boy whom has been commanded to battle, is not so easy to find. It has fallen to those priests that dwell here to show the way for the one he is meant to meet in Mortal Kombat, though they do so passively and unobtrusively. (Curiously, some are disrobed. None seem to be in a hurry to correct this.) The way they stand, they form vaguely defined lines that would eventually lead one to find him...
Cowering, huddled on the floor, his back up against an altar. The browns of his rags are almost workable camoflauge against the colors cast against the stone by the light. He is betrayed by his own fears, otherwise.
Crying. Shivering. Even the gleam of the Elder Gods' blessing - a yellow bracelet of misshapen bead sizes - seems fit to say 'hey, look at me, I'm shiny, check out this human I'm attached to!' He has grown no more comfortable in his surroundings, and why should he? He is but a child, left vulnerable by the decrees of the Elder Gods... even as words have slipped across servants that everything involving this boy has to have been a fluke.
To say nothing about the one who he calls his father. None appear to stand out to any physical descriptors given. None of the disrobed priests move to intercept or comfort the child - it's probably not one of them.
Whatever befell them, Jao's opponent - for the moment - is allowed the ability to get close uninterrupted. The will of Shang Tsung being what it is... what will Erika do?

The answer: take her sweet time showing up.

Erika isn't /late/, precisely, if only because Mortal Kombat does not really run on clocks; she didn't bring one, not even a watch, so all she can do is make a guess as to when she's supposed to be anywhere, and this seems to be about what everyone else is doing too. You can't even look for the sun.

So perhaps the boy gets a pass for a few moments longer until Erika actually walks past all the priests to the right area. She probably isn't reassuring, given she's presumably here to fight and doesn't look terribly concerned about walking in this temple, but at least there's one bit of safety: the small navel piercing with the glittering jewel of the Elder Gods' favour is green, so if something kills Jao Puntasrima today, it won't be her.

Her eyebrows furrow as she spots the child. "Huh," she says. "When they said boy, I figured, like, fifteen maybe. Hey, stop crying, I'm not gonna kill you or anything, whatever they told you."

Erika is not good with kids. She can't remember her own childhood at all.

The ballpark figure seems to be around thirteen or fourteen. The way he cowers, he seems like he skews a few years younger emotionally. Traumatized - who wouldn't be, here?
Strikingly, even as she approaches, even as she highlights the basic facts about the allowances of the blessings' colors, he seems intent on trying to create as much distance as he can. There's not much distance he can make, given his back is already up against an altar. He is too terrified to think to break to the left or to the right, given the way the priests - most of them, anyway - seem to peer at him.
"You both were selected for a high honour." Says one.
Another seems to approach. Blue sandals peek out from underneath the purple, foul-smelling robes. A few turn to face the one who dares approach - no, even come to a stand between the two of them, striding into being a divider between kombatants. Hands are clasped together under the ropes, hood pulled over his head. It's hard to make out many features...
"Soft-hearted, eh?" They ask, head turning up slightly to reveal a pronounced chin and a smile - no, that's a grin - that seems far too easy-going for the environs. The voice is a bit more spritely than any she might have heard from the lot of them.
Jao stops squirming, looking up...

Erika does not press Jao any further by, say, walking closer. She hooks her thumbs through the belt loops on her denim shorts and just stands, clearly busy with internal thought. Maybe she could just -

There's someone talking to her.

Erika has typically paid very little attention to the priests. They ignore her and she ignores them. That one of them is not is a novelty, and she looks at the man with the blue sandals for several long seconds, her eyes narrowing slighty as she considers him.

"Does it count as soft-hearted if I couldn't even if I wanted to?" Not that Erika does. She entered this tournament - or, at least, agreed to fight for Outworld - for fun and profit, in about that order. Beating up a kid who won't fight back doesn't strike her as particularly entertaining for her. Maybe that's not very nice of her, but she stopped worrying about other people very much about the time she woke up with no ties at all except Ultratech.

"Yeah, I was," she agrees with the priest. "Who're you?"

"Ahh... a name you'd hear a lot, I reckon," the oddball priest says, dancing around matters of revealing identities because that's one of those incredibly annoying things people in robes like to do. "...Was that vague enough? I'm, uh, new to speaking in vague riddles and stuff. I think I'm supposed to chant complicated-sounding words with."
There's some nervous laughter.
"I think they use some weird letters like," he makes an odd gagging noise in the span of the time a child might use to carefully recite a specific letter of the alphabet while learning it, "yep."
The priests cast looks at one another. One of them palms at their own forehead, breaking the eerie silence and subdued presence they have been trained to be. "This, again," one murmurs. What again? Is something wrong? (Does that even need to be typed?!)
"Soooo, uh, decree from the sideways above-without convex spiral mobius non-euclidian." What? He puts those nonsensical words together without missing a beat, as though almost sincere, as a left hand raises a small yellowed and browned object.
It's a banana peel. He drops it on the ground, brazenly, before Erika's feet like one might a proper offering before a figure held in high social status.
"If you step on this and slip, you won't have to fight my s-- the child. The child. I said the child." He's convincing no-one. "The Gods will turn a blind eye. Or three of 'em. I don't know how many eyes they have about. Or where they got 'em. I wonder if they have butt eyes." More nervous laughter, which eventually ceases, abruptly.
"'Cause otherwise--"

"Those aren't letters," Erika says distractedly, in a tone of voice that suggests she doesn't really care whether they are or not. Then again, she's not an evil cultist, so who knows what they write in.

She is slightly amused by this whole thing. She is much less amused when the man makes an offer: slip on a peel and... what. Forfeit? Skip this whole round? She doesn't particularly want to be thought of as a slacker by the other fighters - especially not in such a way that makes it look like she lost.

"I have a much better idea," Erika says, and rubs her hands together briskly. Whatever she's doing is taking a few moments to build up. "Because I'm not going to take a fall, even for you. Because otherwise /what/?"

She separates her hands from each other. There's something between them now, though; a whitish globe, glittering in the light coming through the stained glass windows, and apparently quite physical as she passes it from hand to hand. Little flecks drift off it when she passes it back and forth, compressing it down slightly.

"Hey, kid!" Erika gives Jao a moment to look over, or not, before leaning to one side (so the priest is hopefully out of the way) and tossing the sphere at him. It probably takes until impact for anyone to figure out what it actually is:

A snowball. A perfectly ordinary snowball, aside from the fact that Erika just chilled it out of thin air. There's not even any big chunks of ice in it, though it's a little slushy simply because it's the only way she can make one.

"Can't fight anymore, right? So I win." She didn't even bother to check if it hit: she's eyeballing the priest instead, approaching a challenging glare.

COMBATSYS: Erika has started a fight here.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Erika            0/-------/-------|

"Father!" Jao cries, cowering before what is the formation of a snowball while the banana peel-bearing priest seems awful still. Jao clearly expects the worst. Covering himself, to what good that might do to whatever icy sorcery Erika is capable of.
To this priest's - no, this should be in quotes now - credit, the word 'father' is one that's probably heard a lot. Maybe he does have a future in being a super creepy mentor. Or a temple sentry. Or a game show host. Or--

With the flourish of an extended hand from the robe as the snowball is flung, more of the person underneath is made clear. Blue sleeves. Black gloves... and a heck of a catch. Firm enough to entrap it between his fingers. Soft enough that, aside from any deformation from impact, the snowball's form is largely maintained without water or snowflakes slipping through the fingers. It is gently thrown up and down in his palm, showing a playful comfort with this style of projectile.
"Because otherwise," he begins, as he takes a step forw--
Stepping on his own banana peel, the definitely-not-a-priest-here spins about wildly as he slips forward, spinning his arms wide to the garden variety of 'oops' and 'whoas' as he threatens to crash down upon Erika with his superior bulk.
Turns out he's noticeably overweight. That's an unplesant quality to have - every additional pound makes the unintentional(?) physical comedy that much more potentially painful.
Somewhere in the twirling leading up to the fall (or some timely catch or redirection otherwise), the robe is thrown off, revealing the form of the one, the only, the inexplicably-Darwin-Award-dodging...!

COMBATSYS: Rust has joined the fight here.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Rust             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0            Erika

COMBATSYS: Erika blocks Rust's Power Strike.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////////////  ]
Rust             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0            Erika

Erika's 'fell sorcery' is useful for tricks both dangerous and... not. Erika has never needed a snowball on demand before, but it's not something she's put no thought into. If you had the power, wouldn't /you/ make snowballs to throw at people in the depths of summer?

"Nice catch," she has to admit, "but honestly you're just making it harder. I was trying to give him some kind of way out - "

Oh right, banana peel.

Erika tries to catch the 'priest', or at least stop him from slamming into her quite so hard. She actually manages this; he's heavy but she isn't trying to hold him up, just kind of guide him so that he doesn't fall on her but off to the side. It's kind of a mess, with everybody sliding around every which way.

Unfortunately for her opponent, Erika is really cold to grab and he's just lost his robe. It doesn't help that she snaps a knee up into his gut to try to continue to push him aside, only to see him without the disguise. It's...


"Who the hell are you?"

COMBATSYS: Rust blocks Erika's Medium Kick.

[  \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////////////  ]
Rust             0/-------/------=|=------\-------\0            Erika

"Whup! Thank you." The... person wheezes as he loses some of his wind just from the catch, as he stumbles two steps off towards the side, towards Erika's left. He still has the snowball in hand, not a single watery particle lost. That's some balance. (That's also some terrible priorities for /what/ to balance.)
A turn of his hip, one leg raised daintily like he's a young woman posing for a photoshoot (he is not either of these things) as he flexes the length of pipe at his right hip through a fully decked-out toolbelt to catch the kick... and his balance, with only a bit of shuddering as the foot pushes the pipe a bit harshly against the hip. It's almost a cool pose. Almost.
"Who am I?" He asks. "Welp! I'll say that," he says as he hurtles the snowball up into the air.
"I'm Howard Rust, Jr.!" THE Howard Rust, Jr., who was... kind of a bigger deal ten years ago? Then there was the bit where he got the World Champion belt in strange circumstances, (in)famous for being a construction-themed ninja of some kind.
Prize fighter! Bold adventurer! Ultimate craftsman!
On closer inspection, on his right arm, there's a blue bracelet of nearly identical form and character to the child's. The hue is different... a sapphire. It is noticeably less illuminating than the boy's. (Maybe he needs to replace the batteries.)
The two don't look related. Rust Jr. here is caucasian, Jao is unquestionably of southern Asian ancestry, but the matching blessings - in so far as shape goes - might be connection enough to be drawn if Jao's call of 'father' isn't.
He holds the pose far longer than is necessary for effect. No cheers, no jeers, nothing from the priest-nut gallery, other than one of the disrobed priests coming back to re-claim his robe and then walk off nonchalantly.
"So, yep! That's who I am. The great adventurer and ninja, Howard Rust, Jr.!" ...How long is he going to stand there? Maybe for as long as it takes for the dim set of misshapen beads on his right wrist to attept to sparkle and draw attention away from the waste of oxygen. "Soooo, 'bout that banana peel, where'd it go," he looks away, throwing the snowball up into the air and out of anyone's mind or care.

COMBATSYS: Rust equips a dim Sapphire Soul Shard.

[  \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////////////  ]
Rust [E]         0/-------/------=|=------\-------\0            Erika

Ten years ago, Erika was frozen solid and not watching any television, fighting or no. Her brow furrows. She clearly does not recognize the name at first. Eventually some of the more recent events trickle into active memory - mostly regarding the belt, nothing else really stands out very much. There's /something/ about a combatant who uses tools, too...

Oh well!

Erika pushes off Rust's defense, hopping backwards - she likes a bit of distance, apparently. She checked to make sure there were no priests directly behind her. "You guys might want to clear out," she adds, offhandedly, to the priests. "Or at least back up."

She's just spotted Rust's bracelet. "So you're the 'representation', huh? That's a lot better. I wasn't looking forward to fighting a kid. You might actually be a challenge! Might." On one hand, he looks like a heavy construction worker. On the other hand, he successfully caught the snowball - which is starting to melt, and faster than environmental heat alone would make you expect. When Rust tosses it up, it doesn't come down.

All that and he wants the banana peel back? "You have worse things to worry about than a banana peel!" Erika brings her left hand back, then swings it up and forward. Ice starts to crawl along the floor, moving rapidly toward Rust - a churning wave of crystals growing out of the ground, freezing as they travel across the floor before almost immediately melting, leaving slick puddles on stone in their wake. But if the wave impacts Rust, it's going to be a little unfun for him.

COMBATSYS: Erika equips a warm Dark Green Soul Shard.

[  \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////////////  ]
Rust [E]         0/-------/------=|=------\-------\0        [E] Erika

COMBATSYS: Rust avoids Erika's Ice Wave.

[  \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////////   ]
Rust [E]         0/-------/------=|-------\-------\0        [E] Erika

"You bet I am!" Rust Jr. winks. This seems a bit too cheerful for the solemn fact that he is probably the only thing that stands between Jao and death. He calls the kid his son, after all - surely there'd be more impassioned, angry yelling and demands...? It's a strange disconnect.
Might he be a challenge? He's a challenge-r, but taking away that extra 'r,' it's a toss-up...
The wave of ice is summoned, and true to form of his claims (so far), he navigates the treacherous floor even while the crystals coalesce into being with a cartwheel. The gloved hands touch down through the gaps of slippery puddles left in the wake of the emerging ice with only the faintest hint of discomfort.
A nearly-unnoticeable cringe as he balances briefly on his left arm mid-cartwheel. He does look like he's getting up there in years. Mid-40s, at the youngest - never mind the fullness of his hair, long and healthy-looking, done up in braids. It's... a strange image.
Coming up uncomfortably close to Erika, he...
Suddenly /slips his right hand on the part of the stone floor that isn't wet/, dropping on his side.
This doesn't slow him for too long, though, drawing the pipe from his toolbelt with his left hand in a flourish that sees him swing it down and low across the very ground a whole lot more smoothly than the botched(?) cartwheel approach sugggests, threatening to bat into the icy blue young woman's shins or ankles if she doesn't act in some manner to avert this.

COMBATSYS: Rust successfully hits Erika with Foundation Layer.

[   \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////////      ]
Rust [E]         0/-------/-----==|==-----\-------\0        [E] Erika

Well, Jao is safe from death by Erika, at least: even if she wanted to, with the particular type of blessing she has, she couldn't.

This, of course, helps not at all with any of the other dangers around here, and it wouldn't save him if Erika wanted to thrash him without killing. But at least Erika won't be the problem!

Erika has doubts about the actual parenthood of Rust Jr. Sure, he's the right age, but they don't look that similar and he's not acting like you would with a real child; would you dress up in robes and try very poorly to convince people not to fight, or stop it yoursel fif you were capable? "So what's your story?" she asks. "Why're you defending the kid, anyway? Just because you want to? Because that's fine, if so."

Mostly Erika is pleased that she actually has someone entertaining to fight - a challenge, but not an impossible one, is what she was hoping for out of this. Rust shows his skill by going low - he makes it sound like a mistake, but if it was he certainly recovers quickly enough - and smacking at Erika's shins. This is sufficient to stagger her, though she manages to avoid having her feet swept out from under her.

Possibly by having frozen her feet briefly to the floor, but if it works...

Either way, she doesn't trap herself for long. She's moving again almost immediately, ice forming along her arms and legs in bulky sheets. It gives her a hell of a sweeping blow, and the ice doesn't seem inclined to break off after her first blow, so perhaps she intends to do more with the ice plating on her arms afterwards.

But either way, right now what Rust has to worry about is being clonked in the head with a chunk of ice built up around Erika's fist!

COMBATSYS: Erika successfully hits Rust with Glacier Bulwark.
Glancing Blow

[     \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////////      ]
Rust [E]         0/-------/----===|===----\-------\0        [E] Erika

Those inner questions she has may just be the tip of the iceberg. So much doesn't make sense!
"That's my son, Jao," the ponce pontificates as he pushes up from the percarious puddles about the pebbles that make up the smoother stone, "it's kind of a long story," that he seems very eager to tell like one might over a drink with friends. He doesn't quite seem to get all the way up...
An ice-sheathed fist comes along for his head, and he does a sideways roll off to the left as it glances across his upper back. Saying it's glancing probably undersells the impact a bit - she gets a small 'ow' as it brushes against said back. If it hit more head-on...
At last, he's up in a kneel, and then to a stand as he rolls a shoulder to flex it out. "You see, one day, I get a call while I'm working on the home while Jao's out and about, so I hand him what I got in my hands in," hands in? "Next thing ya know... round of drinks with some other ninjas, here he is!"
This is all way too casual. Round of drinks with ninjas, though? Shang Tsung did send assassins to procure certain individuals. It sounds like they tried - and succeeded - with him, but that is absolutely not an experience shared by anyone else.
He brings his left hand to his chin, about as good as he can while holding the pipe anyway. "Kinda just skimming the whole of it, buuuut..."
His right hand goes to his toolbelt. There is another curious detail. They're packed together tightly. For all the movement Erika's seen so far, though, there's no /sound/ of any of them scraping together. They should. Physics demands it. They do not. It's unnatural quiet.
With a rapid sweep of his hand, there are now three screwdrivers headed Erika's way. With a forward step and a turn, there's even a second wave of them coming! It seems like she's not alone in terms of having a preference of distance between them.
The light from the stained glass windows glints off of the polished, munane makeshift kunai to help identify that they're a thing, and where they're coming from, and which way they're headed.

COMBATSYS: Erika reflects Tools For The Job from Rust with Frigid Aegis.

[      \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////       ]
Rust [E]         0/-------/----===|===----\-------\0        [E] Erika

Erika hears about half the story. She kind of loses interest around then, possibly because Rust /is/ so eager to tell it and there aren't many people who can make being abducted by ninjas sound boring, but he almost managed. She's still not sure if they're actually related. Was he working on Jao's house or his own? Are they the same house, or was he a contractor?

She can't bring herself to ask for confirmation.

"Really? They just asked me," Erika says, which is absolutely true; she didn't need much persuasion to come out to the end of the world (or beyond) for an event like this. "Not even with ninjas, just regular asking."

Erika doesn't pay a lot of attention to the toolbelt. That is probably a mistake, because she's caught by surprise when he actually pulls tools out of it, multiple tools that fill the space up pretty tightly. Sure, they're quiet, but that could just be...

...actually she has no idea, it just never occured to her to wonder.

Either way, there's a fair number more screwdrivers than expected. "WHO NEEDS THAT MANY SCREWDRIVERS?" she demands of the air, holding her hands apart in the air, palms outstretched. "What's wrong with, like, two?" Her hands gleam. That looks like ice, starting to spread outward, forming almost a flat plane in front of her with her hands pressed against the back of it. Blue-white chi dances through the big chunk of ice as it firms up and thickens.

When the screwdrivers hit it, they stick, quivering in it. The light intensifies - and then the entire shield explodes outwards, sending a blast of that blue-white light and several screwdrivers right back at Rust, now flash-frozen and covered with chunks of ice. Some of which are /also/ flying back at him. "Ha!"

COMBATSYS: Rust blocks Erika's Reflected Tools For The Job.

[         \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////       ]
Rust [E]         0/-------/--=====|====---\-------\0        [E] Erika

"You can never have enough--" There's the start of a sunny but challenging statement for all to quote all over forums or what have you as some great triumphant moment in the clash between them... and then both handfuls of screwdrivers are caught, stuck within the sheet of cold.
" for the job," he finishes, voice going quieter as though more interested than disheartened, "huh."
Two fingers from his right hand raise upwards, the others curling inward momentarily as the arm crosses over him, off to the side...
They all come back at him in an explosion of frozen shrapnel and makeshift kunai turned into makeshift icicles, bringing his right hand up to snatch at the first set of them. Neatly, with a little juggling, the first three screwdrivers all neatly catch up, handle-wise, around his open palm, with a little fiddling.
It's less to do with balance and more for the ice chunks that stab into his right forearm - and that's not all! The second volley has to be met with the drawn pipe in an attempt to deflect them. Two of them bounce off. One pops up on high at an angle and bounces cartoonishly off his scalp before it falls upon the ground. That screwdriver is so thoroughly frozen that the whole construct just shatters into countless pieces. Much smaller, slightly less sharp flakes of ice shower the rest of his upper body as he finds himself forced to take a step back. There's distance between the two again.
It seems, on the offset, that ranged combat is going to be Erika's forte above him, as he finds himself having to thrust his screwdriver-holding right hand against one of the pillars to stay upright.
"Father!" Jao cries, as he is prone to every time something doesn't seem to be going his way.
"Ahh, take it easy," he says, waving his right hand lazily as he drops the screwdrivers to shatter themselves. Shaking his head, he is momentarily rather sedate-looking, by his standards. Eyes unfocused, looking off to the side...
Aaaaand then he's back. Smiles and all. Even a bit of a laugh!
"Yep! That's cool. Well now, got to say, didn't swing back a good hour away to get snowed without," snowed without? Weird choice of words aside...
Heedless of the distance between them, he takes a couple of steps from those silly sandal-clad feet from legs that seem a touch too thin to support his weight, a short hop forward across the stone, bringing back the pipe in what is already something of a telegraphed thrust if one accounts for the newly-created distance between them. Erika has time to prepare her next counterattack, easy.
With a shout, he lunges forward as he touches the ground, bringing his open right hand back again but otherwise appears entirely unrelated to the immediate danger a thrusting strike may or may not present against the cryomancer.

COMBATSYS: Rust successfully hits Erika with Random Strike.
- CRAZY Hit! -

[        \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////          ]
Rust [E]         0/-------/--=====|======-\-------\0        [E] Erika

Erika is at her best when she has some room to maneuver. She was never trained to fight, not really; a lot of her brawling is instinctive or self-taught from watching other people do it. Her moves don't look amateurish, entirely - and she's downright tough - but they're definitely less well-practiced than they could be.

What she is absolutely skilled at is manipulating her strangely frozen chi. She has a knack for that - more than just a knack, a significant talent. And that works better when she has some room to maneuver and time to build it up.

Right now she still has a few chunks clinging to her arms from her earlier offense, but she hasn't used them for much. She uses them now as Rust rushes in, lunging; she tries to deflect the wild thrust with one of the ice chunks.

By his own talent, or sheer luck (luck is a talent too, right?), Rust manages to hit the chunk of ice just so. It has been there for a while, and it's above freezing in here. It shatters, and the pipe keeps going, hitting Erika's gut solidly. Unlike Rust, /she/ doesn't have significant excess padding there, and it knocks the wind right out of her with a whoof. It also stops her from any smart comments, which is a possibly unexpected but not unpleasant benefit.

Erika reaches out almost randomly, trying to grab Rust's outstretched arm and yank him off balance. Her feet have left a slick spot of ice on the ground, and if he comes forward he's likely to slip entirely - which is when she follows it up with a downward stomp, using her freezing-cold foot to best effect. She's mad. Or maybe just trying to fight back really hard.

(She's probably mad.)

COMBATSYS: Erika successfully hits Rust with Fierce Combo.

[                \\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////          ]
Rust [E]         1/----===/=======|=======\-------\0        [E] Erika

The line tends to blur with him - how much of it is bluster? How much of it is for real? Even if he may just be a simple idiot, it does appear that he can swing around that pipe like a crazed madman and achieve /something/.
Achieving things like getting his outstretched arm grasped.
Comically, now standing on one leg as though not having pulled himself out of mid-thrust, he tries to tug back a few times to get his arm out.
"Oh, sorry, looks like I got my sleeve caught in your wrist," there's a cold sweat that freezes against his skin as little opaque beads as his other foot steps down against the spot of ice. This time, his sandals follow reason and a lack of friction as he lands upon it chest-down.
His arms and legs all flex upwards as though wanting to fold in upon the point of impact, eyes nearly popping out of his head as his lips wobble awful strangely about a tongue that shoots about as far as it can from his mouth while still ostensibly being connected to the inside of it, a single tear from his eye also freezing from just past the eyelid so that gravity can lightly tap it against his cheek.
"FATHER!!" Cries Jao, knowing that's a serious, dangerous blow right then and there! Jao comes to his feet, but he doesn't know what he could do - what can he do? - against someone or something like that.
Rust Jr. flattens himself out, face-down against a stone floor that gives in under the impact of the cold foot that could have buried him at least half a yard down, a prolonged groan of consonants that do not belong with one another. Something like... 'fjghjbhnbmlppjtr.' Maybe add one of the weird sounds he made at the beginning with that letter that may or may not be made up.
He reaches his right hand up. Gloved, his hands are protected from the worst of contact with cold... probably, reaching up towards Erika's hand... maybe up to her shoulder...
It slips down to her elbow, assuming she lets it even get anywhere near there, giving a sharp downward tug into the beginnings of what is an over-the-shoulder throw in his attempt to get up, which could be the set-up for something weird, wacky, wonderful knowing this guy.
It... isn't. Maybe sometimes a throw is a throw.

COMBATSYS: Rust successfully hits Erika with Strong Throw.
? Strange Hit! ?

[               \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////               ]
Rust [E]         1/---====/=======|=======\==-----\1        [E] Erika

"Relax, kid! You're fine!"

Erika managed to get her breath back enough to say that, at least, while stomping Rust around. And it's true! Jao is fine. Rust may not be, but Erika didn't say anything about that.

Honestly, Erika is not colossally strong, physically. She's hardly /weak/, but most of that damage came from the empowered chi and not her sheer muscle power. Which actually works in Rust's favour, because when he gets his hand on her, and she attempts to pull away...

...It doesn't work. Rust is holding on tightly enough that moving only drags him, and Rust outweighs her by quite a bit. She doesn't go very quickly, and that lets him keep clinging long enough to pull her off balance with a startled yelp. "Hey, hands off! I don't get handsy with you, you don't get handsy with me - "

Erika goes flying. It looked like a perfect over the shoulder throw, and Erika tries to protect herself from landing by firing her chi downward, forming something to catch her. Well, that sort of works; she makes what looks like a little slide and doesn't impact as hard as she could. Unfortunately, it also makes the floor around it intensely slippery - she literally slides down it and keeps going. The landing didn't hurt as much, but she starts an uncontrolled slide, scrabbling wildly at the floor to slow herself down.

That was a pretty strange hit all right.

Eventually, Erika gets herself righted - because she passed by one of the pillars and managed to hook her foot around it, catching herself. She picks herself up much as Rust just did, breathing hard - and practically throws herself back towards him in a long lunge.

If she was just punching, she wouldn't get far enough to hit him, but a long chunk of ice forms along her arm and past her fist, sticking out and adding a good three feet to her reach. It's not really sharp - it's shaped like a giant blunted icicle - but it's still absolutely no fun to get hit with in the same way that it's no fun to get hit by anything else thrusted at you. Even if the person doing the thrusting is a little out of breath and moving recklessly.

COMBATSYS: Rust blocks Erika's Frost Spike.

[                  \\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////               ]
Rust [E]         1/--=====/=======|=======\=------\1        [E] Erika

"Sorry, got your arm caught in my wrist," he murmurs as he gets up. It's hard to tell if that's sincere, or if he's trading banter with, effectively, himself. His right hand goes up and down his back for that time it takes for him to get up. A blow like that ought to have snapped someone's spine in twain...
Jao does not look reassured with Erika's attempts to be gentle with the boy and his buffoon of a (foster?) father. He's frightened, as anyone ought to be in his situation. He can't take the safety of anything for granted...!
"Right! Watching for the wrist-catchin'." Compared to her, though there's the signs of injury, he seems a little more energized. A little more... there, in comparison. He seems ready to match her as she comes at him, and he even takes a few cursory steps. (It might just be so that they don't meet as close to where Jao is currently cowering.)
His right forearm gets flung into the blunted icicle at such an angle that its strike shoves it sharply upwards. The widened eyes and the 'ah' that follows suggests that the collision just did something nasty to his shoulder, bending it up a bit further than the range of motion he has is comfortable with, spinning with his back faced towards her as he staggers a step forward...
Jao covers his eyes. Maybe he was expecting the limb to fly clean off...
"I appreciate you're trying to calm my son down," he says...
Twisting inward, feet step down upon the uneven stone formed from his body nearly being driven through the temple's ground. Though injured, he swings his right hand outward with an open palm, the gloved hand trying to come towards Erika's scalp and - simply enough - thrust the face downwards. Hey, there's the banana peel, right there, near where her face might impact if he has his full way with hold of her head.
"So you wanna just do the banana peel, we'll call it good, eh?"

COMBATSYS: Rust successfully hits Erika with Brick Stacker.
- CRAZY Hit! -

[                   \\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////                     ]
Rust [E]         1/--=====/=======|=======\====---\1        [E] Erika

Erika has no intention of taking limbs off. Her tastes don't run that way. She's fighting for Outworld, yes, but it's at least mostly for her own entertainment; she does what she wants, and apparently the Elder Gods are going to break her into this slowly.

But Rust is apparently going to keep asking that. Erika's face darkens, turning what would be an unhealthy shade of purple if it wasn't mostly tinted that way because of her skin tone. Asking her to lose for him...

"I'm not going to slip on your damned banana peel!"

Erika is getting really annoyed with being asked that. Unfortunately, Rust - intentionally or not - took advantage of getting in close to push her down, causing her to fall forward on her face. Next to the banana peel, not on it, but it's enough to trigger Erika's ire - and Erika's ire is very obvious. It's also enough to bring tears to her eyes from the impact (that, thankfully, do not freeze until she wipes them away as little flecks of ice). That hurt! The side of her face is going to be horrible later.

The air around her chills even further as ice forms on the few bits of metal she carries - the buttons and rivets on her denim shorts, the little piercing the Soul Gem is in. Frost creeps across the stone floor near her, a feathery coating of rime that makes footing treacherous as she pushes herself to her knees.

"That's it," Erika growls. "That's /it/!" Chi ripples around her briefly, and there's a sensation of something building as she tenses before slamming her hands against the stone in front of her.

An explosion of frosty chi and whirling ice springs up around her, whirling up from the ground twenty feet high. It leaves ice on the ceiling above her where the balcony is, and there's a veritable explosion of cold and ice as Erika simply unleashes her power. The gem at her navel twinkles, and the normally white-blue chi is shot through with green in places, a whirling maelstrom of energy around her.

Eventually, it fades, but the air remains cold and Erika seems energized by it, somehow. "How about /that/, huh??"

COMBATSYS: Erika channels the glare of the vicious eye.

[                   \\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////                     ]
Rust [E]         1/--=====/=======|=======\====---\1        [E] Erika

COMBATSYS: Erika channels the strength of the killing fist.

[                   \\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////                     ]
Rust [E]         1/--=====/=======|=======\====---\1        [E] Erika

COMBATSYS: Rust manages a miraculous escape from Erika's Fimbulvinter!

[                   \\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////                     ]
Rust [E]         1/--=====/=======|-------\-------\0        [E] Erika

"You won't? It's right the--" He stops as his breath becomes visibly thick enough to turn solid unto itself and maybe become a piece of icy shrapnel. With her scream of this being 'it,' his teeth clench as he looks back off to the side, as if to check on Jao... why?
The palms come slamming down.
Rust Jr. leaps into the air, a bit higher than he's been witnessed leaping around in recent times. By appearances, he seems to be /riding/ that displaced air. Twisting, turning, moving and flowing about the explosive ice energies underneath even as the explosive force sees him rising ever higher...
He catches himself against the ceiling, limbs splayed out wide and awkwardly to shape himself around the sharper icicles that form. His breathing stops. He hasn't taken a breath since he leapt. He's holding it in, looking down as his grip - what the hell is he gripping, how? - as he drops moments after towards the very frosted floor nearby.
His landing is not smooth. Nothing is. Now he's ice skating (... or ice sandaling)... no, stumbling around about the pathces of ice left in its wake.
It is impossible to have good footing. In one fell swoop, this temple - dominant hues of orange - give way to blue and white, if only for a short time. This short time might be what Erika needs to finish things. He may have avoided harm in the boldest way imaginable, but now he's fighting against her in her element.
The temperature, the ground, everything. This is her domain, and the mighty winter has not subsided, as he slips and staggers along in continued failed attempts to keep on his feet.
"O-Okay," he says, far too calmly for catching himself from nearly flopping on his back as he recoils. He might be flinching from her displeasure, which is well-warranted given his antics! "I won't ask you again. Sorry for the trouble," he says, voice strained by the cold nipping about him...
With a scrape of the pipe against the ground, a banana peel - somehow not frozen into a complete solid, scraped free from the ground, goes airborne.
"L-Let's try this?" He says, almost too friendly, looking for a compromise... or meekly begging for mercy, in a way, without saying so?
Gripping the banana peel tight in his right hand - twitchy as it is, following trauma inflicted upon it with the spike and the wicked cold that spreads outwards from absolute ground zero - he smiles. While teeth are chattering.
"I-I think this'd be agreeable!"
With no further ceremony, style, or any undercurrent of anything greater beyond the undoing of his hair into straight, long strands that flare out in wake of the forward thrust, using the lack of friction on the ground to propel him forward...
The banana peel moves to be palmed into Erika's face, his right arm straight, his right hand's fingers closely aligned, moving fast enough with a strong thrust as to keep the banana peel there.
In the wake of an awesome explosion of power, is that really the best he can do? Palm a banana peel in someone's face. What's it going to do, break her nose, get one of the peels down her throat, and make her suffocate? Come on...
And yet, the blue gem-like, uneven beads of his bracelet seem to flash that dim glow a little less dimly, as if it were... protesting?

COMBATSYS: Erika dodges Rust's Small Random Weapon.

[                  \\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////                     ]
Rust [E]         1/--=====/=======|-------\-------\0        [E] Erika

In the suddenly iced-over temple, Erika feels powerful. The cold air around her helps; she doesn't feel like she's wrapped in tropical heat like she often does. Letting loose helps; she doesn't feel like she's holding it in all the time. She hadn't /really/ done it before, today.

She can't do it for long. There's only so much power available to her. But she can do it for the moment.

It doesn't stay freezing cold everywhere in the temple. Except for the area around her, it actually starts to warm up fairly quickly; the ice starts to vanish, beginning to melt away to almost nothing, though it will probably take a minute or two to all vanish. But there's an area close to Erika where it stays coldest, as if she was drawing the heat out of it just by being there.

She's grinning, broad enough to show teeth. "I'm not done," she says. "I wanted a fight, and I've got one. I wanted a challenge, and I've got one, even if you act like an idiot. So thanks for that. But that means I'm not going to let it end quite that easily, either."

Rust tries to palm a banana peel into her face. Erika appears to skate sideways over the still iced-over part of the floor, bringing the area of more intense cold with her as she moves. She circles around Rust as he pushes into the area of her released chi, able to more freely maneuver than he can - and she slaps the hand, pushing the peel away from her.

"I said no," she repeats, before following up the almost lazy slap with a powerful right hook at Rust's chin, perhaps sensing his instability. Ice builds on her fist as she swings it in the area of intense cold, leaving her with something almost like brass knuckles or even a gauntlet - if they were made of ice, anyhow.

COMBATSYS: Erika successfully hits Rust with Strong Punch.

[                      \\\\\\\\  < >  /////////                     ]
Rust [E]         2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|=------\-------\0        [E] Erika

Unfortunately for his positioning, he's not able to get away from the area where it remains coldest. His terrain disadvantage remains, as evidenced with the way he nearly appears to overcommit to the banana peel thrust. His arms flail wildly as he passes by her, teeth clenched and eyes wide as he rather cartoonishly struggles against gravity. The banana peel is summarily discarded by the bat of her hand, left to slip and slide.
A priest steps over it en route to other duties. The results are predictable, flopping onto their back in a demeaning display of slapstick.
The right hook comes in, a more fitting piece of punctuation to end her statements about the way she carries herself. The flippant pursuits of youth, punching the end of it with another icy punch.
Curiously, his feet find purchase in the ground with a stomp of one of his sandal-clad feet. His right fist tenses tightly, cracking of bone heard the entire temple. One might assume that's the sound of bone being broken...
She misses the chin as it collides against the battered forearm. His entire body doesn't move much under the stress of it - it just moves enough, the force of the blow pushing his own right fist against the side of his face. He is socked in the jaw by proxy, by a defense simultaneously successful and not.
The defensive posture is more famous than /he/ is. That's his father's famed defensive technique. A proper tensing of his body, Howard Rust, Sr. was effectively immovable. Some would say almost invincible to harm outright. As his son, it stands to some reason - for however much reason applies - that he might have inherited this very technique.
Not that it does him much good, as that spray of blood coming out of his jaw might say.
It might have been a bit more harmful, in some ways, his body too rigid to deal with how to properly catch himself as he rolls and tumbles against the thawing ice until he's already roled a good three times before he has control of his joints again - and even then, only so much. There's cracking sounds /everywhere/. It's disconcerting! Kind of disgusting. It must also be very painful.
"So... in the end," says Jr. as he kneels, hands against the ground, "past good... evil. Safety... danger..."
"Father?" Does this kid know any more words than that? He seems disturbed...
"All right." Thrusting the pipe down against the ground, he rises up again... but his feet hold against the receding ice. "I see where you're goin'. Yep...!"
He doesn't sound like he's disapproving.
"What's most important..." He swings his right arm out. The way it shakes, it should be painful to bend his shoulder around like that. He seems to hold tight, as it goes behind his back and pinches the cloth on the opposite side. What?
"Above all else, no matter where things go..." One eye winks closed. The other flutters. Huh?
"I'd say it out loud," he says, as he crosses a foot over one leg, the other foot not quite touching the ground, and starts to wiggle the toes of the ungrounded foot. Why?
"But I think you get it." His pipe wielding hand sets the pipe atop his very scalp, two fingers spreading wide into a 'v' shape that tries to rest in front of his face, obscuring half his face from view.
"If that's all you're after..." This is complete nonsense!!! The words, the motions, the... everything!!
"...I'm okay," he says, through a bloodied mouth and fading strength, that yet cannot overpower whatever the hell is going on.
One way or the other, a final clash between the woman of ice, and the man of... whatever he is... is inevitable. The next exchange will, surely, decide it.

COMBATSYS: Rust gathers his will.

[                   \\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////                     ]
Rust [E]         2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|=------\-------\0        [E] Erika

Erika can /feel/ the flow of power out of her. At this point she couldn't stop it even if she wanted to; that gate, once opened, is hard to close again. But it makes her feel damn near invincible while it's rushing through her, and really, isn't that something to cherish?

At the impact of her knuckles, Erika brings up her other fist in an attempt to follow through, but by that point she's actually launched Rust away and doesn't manage a second hit. She keeps that hand ready to either block or strike again as she follows him over. Those sounds did not sound... good.

But he's still moving, so he must not be down yet.

Erika watches Rust rise. She actually lets him do so, standing there with her fists raised as if she was going to punch him any minute. "I have no idea what the hell you're talking about," Erika says, "but I don't think it matters. Here's what I'm after: a thrill. The rewards. Both. And the important bit for you: I'm winning tonight, because I'm not going to let myself get eliminated the tournament yet!

"It was fun! I mean that; I'm way glad that I fought you instead of the kid. But it's about over, don't you think?"

Erika waits for Rust to finish pushing himself up. And then, because it worked so well the first time, she punches him again. This time she does use both fists, a one-two combo with ice visibly building up on her arms. It's a maneuver Rust has seen before, but Rust is so out of it she's counting on its success a second time.

But by then the power is starting to die down. The chill starts to fade from around Erika - even her normal, ambient chill. It takes a few moments to disperse... but she's not glowing anymore, either, not shimmering with the chi. Even the ice on her arms is flaking off, though it's taking the longest to break away.

COMBATSYS: Rust reflects Glacier Bulwark from Erika with Bulldozer.

[                     \\\\\\\\\  < >  ///                           ]
Rust [E]         0/-------/-<<<<<<|====---\-------\0        [E] Erika

Both of them say what they will. Where they stand, or in his case, where they pose in an utterly moronic fashion. The very final clash is at hand, as she forms frost around her fists to put the finishing touch on this... idiot. There isn't a better word for him on short notice, is there.
The punches move in. The pipe is snapped up in both hands, held horizontally. One over, one under. It is held at a height that seems ideal for holding them off, but that wouldn't be enough to stop her.
He starts to vibrate? His lips make the most obnoxious humming sound. What is this?
He glides forward against her, and this is where everything takes its truest turn into the surreal. Where his feet scrape against ice, it is scooped up against his sandal-clad feet.
No, all the ambient energy, all that remains. All of it is scooped up, mulched and chaotically tossed about as it is pushed forward by his own forward movement. Kind of like he's driving a... a...
A bulldozer. Some kind of stupid invisible bulldozer!!
Her power is turned against her, as he seems to sit against an invisible chair. Knees bent like he's sitting. HOW DOES HE STAY UPRIGHT? Gravity should see him over. The ice... he can't possibly...
All of it just pushes back at her, threatening to simultaneously tumble and bludgeon her with her manifested energies across a small stretch of the temple. Just as she turned his tools against him, so he turns what remaining fragments of ice and frost he can scoop up from the manifested energy of the surrounding world, to tumble her along with it.
Somewhere within the pile of mulched icy chi being tumbled /at/ her along with the rest of her, the aging man nods. What does he nod at? What for? What is he agreeing with? He's agreeing with /something/ about her. They're on opposite sides. He's for Earthrealm. She's for Outworld. The stakes being what they are...!
Somewhere along the line, his ability to maintain this is lost, and he tumbles back, releasing her and the captured energies to be dispersed into the air as he rolls back and forth. Back and forth, kind of like a turtle, before his limbs loosen up and he can properly be on his back.
This should be seen as foolishness. For as long as Jao Puntasrima, his son, is in the tuornament, he stands to go against stronger foes further down the line... maybe it was he who should have yielded to her...!
Wordlessly, he stands up with the help of his pipe. A tired smile is on his face - something about all this agrees with him. What is it? Why?
...But he could be smiling too soon.

Erika's grip on her power started to fade as soon as she went after Rust, and is still fading now. She's simply exhausted herself; she needs time to build up a reserve of power because she's running on the equivalent of fumes for her cryokinesis.

She can't even keep herself cold very well. She's sweating hard and looks like she's about to faint because everything is so damn hot, it feels like being in a sauna - yes, even in here, as Erika's body temperature is much closer to freezing than not. Normally, without even thinking about it, she chills herself enough to keep going. For a few moments, she can't, and it's horrible.

And on top of that, Rust is gathering the power she just expended, somehow; building it up, forming it into something alien to her. She can't tell how he's doing it, either, only that he has built it up into something like a wedge or a blade. "What - !"

The 'bulldozer' slams into Erika. She grasps at it with her chi control more energetically than usefully, trying to gather the cold around her, but most of what she gets is tumbled around and thrown. By the time Rust's 'bulldozer' breaks down, she's on her back and gasping for breath, about to pass out. She's starting to cool back down but it's too little too late. Erika tries to push herself up, but only manages to roll onto her stomach.

The only thing she can do is force the chi that Rust gathered up and then dispersed to gather up one more time. He is briefly assaulted by icy chill as she reaches out toward him, having fallen not far from him - but it's a last-ditch effort, and she sinks back down a few moments later, pulling the chill to her instead in an attempt to stop her from passing out.

It doesn't work, and Erika is quite unconcious a moment later (to say nothing of bruised and battered), but she's regained enough control that she's not going to die from overheating.

COMBATSYS: Erika can no longer fight.

[                     \\\\\\\\\  <
Rust [E]         0/-------/-<<<<<<|

COMBATSYS: Rust dodges Erika's Deep Freeze.

[                     \\\\\\\\\  <
Rust [E]         0/-------/-<<<<<<|

The right hand raises one more time, two fingers pointed upwards, a thumb clasped over those not, as the temperature grows chilly once more. A breeze passes through his undone hair, casting an image of elegance that does not belong anywhere near this man - more a hint of the chill's movement than any dramatic statement in a place where wind cannot reach.
With a raised leg and a twirl to the left, he stays within the realm of warmth. (This is also because his hair just fluttered into a torch and is catching on fire. Shh.)
"FINISH HER." The voice booms out. It is his right... to an extent, between their wards of a dark green, and sapphire. The command that has been given to every victorious kombatant. To perform the final grace, the ritual that marks the end of any given leg of the kontest.
The priests' eyes fall upon /Jao/, not Rust Jr., as though customs may dictate that certain matters are out of this man's hand...
The timid boy takes a few steps closer towards the fallen, overheated woman of ice. He doesn't know how to feel. The glow of his bracelet grows ever brighter...
Dad puts his right hand on his shoulder.
"Looked scary there, eh?" he says, slightly hunched over as he rests upon the young boy for support.
Jao looks upon him with fearful eyes, and breathing that goes faster by the moment.
"Don't worry. I know what you're thinking," does he? "But it's all right."
"Father... no, I--"
"Think about what you've seen and heard. It's important." Rust Jr. rustles his shoulder with a(n un)knowing smile. "I know what happened. You see..."
"Let me talk," he backs away to kneel down before the fallen Erika, while his hair is still being in the process of getting ever more on fire.
Jao helplessly points.
"Yep. She's there. She'll be okay. She gets it!" He says, knowingly, as though this were the most important matter of all. "The rest'll fall around. You see, Jao, what's most import--"
"Father, your head's on fire!!" Jao all but screams.
At last, as though the burning sensation his scalp should've told him this, his eyelids track up.
One loud surprisingly androgynous-sounding scream later, he's running around screaming like a loon as he goes to put it out (somehow).

COMBATSYS: Rust has ended the fight here.

Log created on 18:14:30 10/06/2016 by Rust, and last modified on 04:40:11 10/07/2016.