KOF 2017 - Act 2: Mission 34 - To Dine Upon the Fly

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Description: Having suffered the unpleasant consequences of a brief family reunion, Rock rests up at Southtown General Hopsital to recover from his wounds while under the watchful guard of the mystical detective Brandon. Unfortunately, a predator of the worst sort finds its way into their midst, sensing a wounded target to prey upon. Injured and cornered, Rock finds himself caught in the web of the Spider herself and she's in the mood to play.

"He fell from the sky."

That was all the distraught woman could say, when the paramedics arrived and carted out a boy surely no older than 18, who crashed through the skylight and ruined what was otherwise a pleasant penthouse pool party. She was soaked from head to toe and reeked of chlorine. "He fell..." she repeatedly brokenly. They consoled her as best they could.

Incident reports were filed based on scant details received. Despite wild speculation of just where the kid came from or how, Rock Howard was identified and admitted to Southtown General Hospital. ICU, to be specific. He had water in his lungs, a broken rib, and multiple small lacerations. Because this wasn't his first visit since the start of the King of Fighters tournament, doctors and nurses focused more on recent injuries, and that was all they could do. The rest? Up to him.

He's been in a coma, or he was. Having started awake two days ago to a shocked aide, Rock was unwilling to shed light on the events that led up to his present predicament. He still is.

They moved him from ICU, attempted to get in touch with Terry, and once he gets the clear, he'll be leaving. The young man has had enough of IVs and check-ins, no matter how friendly and accommodating the staff may be. It reminds him too much of his mother. Rock ruffles his fair hair that was kissed by the sun.

Dressed in a patient's gown, he was permitted his trousers. Bandages are visible, wrapped expertly by skilled hands around his chest, neck, and arms. Not much can be done for his ribs, and he's been cautioned to take it easy. There's no doubt in their minds that it's the last thing Rock will do, but I digress. The American boy shifts in the bed that has served as something of a prison ever since those crimson eyes snapped open. Without anything to occupy him while he waits, he broods over his reunion with the man that will never be referred to by the appropriate title. It'll be a cold day in hell before the young wolf ever calls Geese 'father'.

But that moment before he was thrown, the hesitation and expression. Was it intentional that the scion survived? No, how absurd. Coincidence, Rock tries to convince himself and banish any other notions to the dark recesses of his mind, where they belong. Geese Howard tried to kill him and failed.

In the days of the coma, Brandon and Duck King had been watching over Rock in shifts. After Brandon being attacked and now Rock hospitalized, even if their situations weren't related, someone might get the idea that they were easy targets.

In the times that Brandon wasn't on shift to watch over Rock he was using his skills to get an idea of what happened to Rock and how he came to literally crash a pool party. Honestly, it didn't take very long considering both of his team mates' histories with Geese Howard and if Brandon had to be completely honest with himself, Geese was outside his weight class. Sure, Lee was too but Geese moreso. Terry went on to have a conversation with Geese.

With Rock out of his coma, the hospital restricted their stay to visiting hours but both Brandon were close by in case something went wrong. Brandon in particular would be visiting today. Someone would eventually have to tell him how Terry decided to handle this transgression. And plus Brandon might have to tell him about what he may have to do regarding his investigations into the Violet Systems situation. The private eye wasn't sure he was looking forward to either conversation.

The door to Rock's room swings open with a soft click to reveal the form of a young woman, the simple white of her uniform identifying her as one of the many nurses that have been coming and going on a frequent basis to check up on the patient's bandages and instruments, either oblivious to his annoyance at their persistance or simply obligated to do the job anyways. The nurse steps into the room, her face hidden behind a clipboard laden with various forms and printouts, kicking it closed behind her with a casual flick of the ankle.

The rustling of paper fills the awkward silence that comes with the orderlie's arrival as she thumbs through the reports, muttering something unintelligible under her breath every couple of seconds. Eventually, the clipboard is tossed aside, discarded really, whirling like a frizbee to land on the bed.

The nurse rests a hand on her hip, shifting her stance to a slight lean in the way that women can do when they want to be taken notice of. Should he turn to take in her features, Rock would find that this particular nurse is one he's never seen before. Long hair hangs in a loose curtain down her back reaching all the way down to her slender waist, the silky tresses black as midnight save for a triangle of bangs over her forehead which is dyed a striking purple. Her eyes are sharp and narrow, twin chips deep amythest that almost seem to glow with an inner light; likely a reflection of the fluorescent bulbs overhead.

Should he be the observant sort, he would no doubt quickly take notice that something about this person is off. All of the other nurses have had their hair bound up neatly in a professional manner and he's certainly never seen one with a hairstyle one would expect on a rebellious teenager. Infact, this 'woman' looks like she might actually fit the description of girl better, her skin a little too smooth and her features noticably absent the markings of age. The way that she practically licks him with her eyes is most certainly unprofessional!

"So... this is what the son of a crime lord looks like, huh?" She lets her gaze wander over Rock's face, taking in the bruises and cuts. "Color me... unimpressed."

Oh, so Brandon and Duck were there, my bad. How did they find out, I wonder?

Probably the same way Terry had received news. The Spilt Bean must've got in touch with the Wild Wolf, and he sent his teammates to search the hospitals. If Rock avoided getting himself murdered, then he would surely turn up at some point. This theory was not proven false.

But now the staff are unable to get ahold of his guardian, who doesn't even carry a damn cellphone. Did Brandon notify Bogard when administration had failed? Told him that Rock's all right? Does it matter? The talk the detective is apprehensive to start may be stalled indefinitely.

The door to his room slides open. Presumably, Duck was here earlier during an impromptu X-Ray session, and was unable to see Rock. Expecting satisfactory results and discharge or a returning visitor, blonde head turning, he's either ready to greet or perk up like an attentive pup. You're not a doctor. A nurse... Who is increasingly unfamiliar to him.

When you spend enough time in a hospital, as he has, you get to recognize the various employees. The nurses on this floor are especially well known. They flooded into his room at the announcement he had woke, some attempting to see if the heartthrob was just as pretty when awake as he was out cold. Rock feigned sleep, one eye cracked just so, until they left and began to visit him... More frequently than was necessary. This woman, either she's a new student aide, or has been taking the most conveniently timed vacations. Since the clipboard hovers in front of her face, the young prodigy cannot tell.

Rock settles awkwardly, uncomfortable for reasons that having nothing to do with the bandages and his myriad of fight-earned wounds. Propping up his back against a flimsy pillow, crimson eyes nearly drift to the window.

Then the clipboard lands on the foot of his bed.

Such a clangour in his head. Bells, klaxons, whistles. The whole nine yards and then some. It causes the little hairs on the back of his neck to rise, goose pimples breaking out everywhere but the exposed skin of his pale, cut, but handsome face. Features contort, brows drawing together to form a line. Rock's pupils narrow in scrutiny and immediate mistrust. The American teen vents a snort, "Your disguise really sucks."

Yeah, he doesn't know WHO she is, but her threatening aura wafts off the girl maybe his own age, perhaps younger. The length of her hair, cascading down like a waterfall, or her almost casual revelation of his familia ties... They could've been Rock's spies if he weren't so attuned to the energy in the room.

"If /that man/ sent you to finish the job..." Rock grits, the thought of a female assassin one that unnerves him greatly, "Actually, forget it. I don't care. You're not here to be friendly." So kid'll punch first and ask questions later.

Pulling the thin bedspread off with flourish, it is used as a makeshift shroud to conceal his actions. The clipboard clatters noisily to the floor. ROCK, THIS IS A HOSPITAL, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!-- Never mind. Bodies may be piled up outside the door. He rips the intravenous drip from his shuriken-punctured hand and cocks that straight back to his ear. Seconds later, vaulting off the corner of his 'prison' and throwing the blanket at the unknown's face, the unimpressive son of Geese Howard has a fistful of chi that he's gonna shove directly into her abdomen. Results may be explosive. In tandem, a blindingly bright pinion of amethyst luminescence ripples into being, unfurling behind him to reveal all primary and secondary flights. There's the reason he earned the nickname the 'Angel of Taiyo High'.

COMBATSYS: Rock has started a fight here on the right meter side.

                                  >  //////////////////////////////]
                                  |-------\-------\0             Rock

And as the detective approaches the room he feels something nagging at his energy sense. If the detective had to describe the sensation, it would be like something was just barely touching each and every hair he has on his on his body all at once non-stop.

With each step, Brandon curses the fact that after he had been attacked, he never got around to forcing Terry to carry a pre-paid phone. Brandon pulls out his phone and fires off a quick text to Duck.

Hey Duck. Im @ the hospital rn. I got a bad feeling.

He then prepped a new message for Duck, this time adding his email address to the recipients of the next text just in case he needed a repeat performance of how he got his own assassin's picture. Brandon's imagination at this point got the best of him. Anyone who would pose a threat either Rock or Terry would eclipse Brandon's own combat capabilities. While Brandon was a better fighter than a majority of mages, his fighting ability wasn't exactly top tier when compared other fighters due to him spending more time improving his outside of combat applications of energy manipulation such as rituals and the like.

He was within a few yards of the door to Rock's room. As he took the final steps closer, he was hoping that his feeling was wrong. It wasn't. He feels a familiar energy flare up and take on the shape of wings which in turn become a beacon.

The detective breaks into a run and slides to a halt right outside the door. He pulls out one of his Minor Arcana cards, this particular one prepped with an invisibility ritual. Rock had once wondered how someone as noticably fashioned detective managed to keep from being noticed when required for his job. Rock was about receive his answer in the form of a door knob turning, a door opening and a door closing once more as he moves quietly further into and away from either of the two. On one hand, they will know that they are no longer in the room by themselves.

Brandon meanwhile prepares to strike this 'nurse' when the moment is right. After all when he comes out of hiding there will be no going back to being able to hide in light illusions.

COMBATSYS: Brandon has joined the fight here on the right meter side.

                                  >  //////////////////////////////]
                                  |-------\-------\0          Brandon
                                  >  //////////////////////////////]
                                  |-------\-------\0             Rock

COMBATSYS: Juri has joined the fight here on the left meter side.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Juri             0/-------/------=|-------\-------\0          Brandon
                                  >  //////////////////////////////]
                                  |-------\-------\0             Rock

COMBATSYS: Brandon thinks things through.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Juri             0/-------/------=|-------\-------\0          Brandon
                                  >  ///////////////////////////// ]
                                  |-------\-------\0             Rock

COMBATSYS: Juri parries Rock's Hard Edge!

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Juri             0/-------/-----==|-------\-------\0          Brandon
                                  >  ///////////////////////////// ]
                                  |-------\-------\0             Rock

Juri just smiles, her thin lips quirking upwards at one corner in response to the young man calling her out. She doesn't seem at all surprised that she was so easily discovered; it's not like she was trying to be particularly clever about it. Her shoulders roll upwards in a dismissive shrug.

"The staff and the guards thought so too. Yet here I am." The girl leans forward, her velvety voice dripping with poisonous amusement. "Guess I just have some killer charm."

In that regards, the new arrival to the room might well have noticed something odd on his way in. Notibly, the complete abscence of any other people on the floor, patients, visitors, or personnel. The place was still and quiet and the usual lingering smell of disinfectant had been replaced by a sickly-sour stench that was more reminiscent of a morgue than a hospital.

As Rock vocally wonders on the possibility that she might be an agent of his father, Juri tilts her head back and lets out a sharp laugh. He chooses that moment to launch himself at her, deciding to make the first move despite his injuries. It is not a foolish choice, given the circumstances. Given his personal skill and her momentary distraction, it's easy to see how he might have thought that a surprise strike would put him on the leading foot in the coming engagement.

And yet, despite that, it still proves to be a mistake.

The bedsheet flies out in a broad sweep like the fancy cape of a bull fighter, obscuring the young man's form as he frees himself from the medical equipment. Unfortunately, this also has the same result for his opponent, her slender body vanishing behind the wide curtain of the impromptu net for a few moments as he launches himself at her. When Rock's fist comes down, it finds only the soft fabric waiting for it on the other side, the bedsheet crumpling into a formless lump on the floor a moment later.

A purple glow would catch the corner of his eye then, a sharp twinkling of bright neon light. The source? Juri's left eye. The small woman stands beside Rock, her face twisted into a manic expression of psychopathic glee. She grins at him, flashing her pearly teeth, then presses her lips together, dragging her tongue across them in a manner that suggests things both pleasant and horrific.

"Cute move, kid. But you'll have to try harder than that if you want to get me excited."

When Juri comes at him, it is fast, so very fast. Her leg whips out in a blur of motion that becomes enveloped in a bright flare of purple energy, the strike carving a colorful arc directly at his side. She follows the first attack with a second, spinning in place to bring her other leg around to deliver an equally swift kick to his head.

COMBATSYS: Rock blocks Juri's Fuharenkyaku EX.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Juri             0/-------/---====|-------\-------\0          Brandon
                                  >  //////////////////////////    ]
                                  |==-----\-------\0             Rock

Meanwhile, Duck is enjoying a churro. It's a nice churro. Nothing comes between a man and his churro, not even an assassination attempt on yet another teammate's life.

Hang on, IS this an assassination attempt?

The mellifluous quality of dulcet tones is marred by malevolent cadence, which was the entire point. He'd be an idiot if he missed the cues, on top of less-than-subtle context found between the lines. All of the nurses who had treated him so kindly, and the doctors... Are they dead? Was this a game? Just a bit of mayhem and murder for a lark? Rock's chi burns as he is incensed, providing Brandon with not only a beacon, but a detailed map to his location with pin-point accuracy.

She tosses back her head and howls with laughter that is cut short by the blurred form of the teenage scion. His imbued fist ploughs into the blanket he had thrown from his bed, but not much else. It flutters to the floor, thoroughly defeated. The pinion splits itself into harmless ribbons, tinted violet and petering out. At his side, the light of her... Eye? Cybernetic enhancement? Some other otherworldly explanation? Rock is never surprised these days.

Not even when the door opens and closes in their midst, seemingly of its own volition.

As the invisible presence invades the sanctity of Rock's hospital room, circling around them, the boy finds the being's inclination difficult to gauge. Friend or foe? No thanks to Juri, whose malicious aura fills the space like a rapidly expanding balloon or malignant cancer, he cannot tell. That the heir-apparent hasn't been suffocated by her sinister intent alone stands as a testament to his strength. His will and his stubbornness. His desire to live, even if it means breaking every personal law and code that he has adhered to for as long as he can remember.

If she were a killer with honour, it would be different. Rock hates fighting women, but that ain't a lady.

He couldn't give less of a shit as she prattles on; bantering with a psychopath is a waste of breath, and he has met enough of them to know not to engage. Crimson eyes fix her with an intense stare, thin lips pursing to form an even thinner line. The wait isn't long before the Spider leaps upon the fly. Rock, facing her, could marvel at the speed by which Juri moves...

But let's face it, every action is telegraphed with the sort of high-definition that even the most expensive television cannot replicate. Taekwondo. Really stinking obvious kicks. The young heartthrob is no practitioner of the art, but Rock is familiar with Kim Kaphwan. This is too easy! Her foot meets the hard wall of the Howard kid's frame, directly at the centre of his mass. Purple energy shreds and frays the bandages, but all in all...

It's not over. The second kick rebounds off his forearm, shoulder compressing to absorb the worst of the attack. "Feh."

No doubt Juri is acutely aware of the openings between and after the kicks. How could she not be, when she has presented them to Rock so willingly? Maybe it's to lure him in, maybe it's a trap or trick... But he isn't so rude as to decline the invitation. He cannot be deterred once in motion. The sharp point of his elbow snaps up, and attempts to take her head right off. His entire body coils like a spring behind it...

So, invisible spectre, time for the big reveal?

As for Brandon, honor won't be found here either. Honor is best left for the fighting arenas, not life or death fights which considering the smells and complete lack of the energy of the living within the confines of the building isn't exactly a giant leap to make.

Brandon held off on moving when the blanket was in the air. Probably made for a good decision on the detective's part since with the blanket in play, he could've moved right into the path of his team mate's attack or right into the path of his... correction... their adversary's kicks. The teenager shows that he's able to handle himself adequately stone walling the first one to the body and then deflecting the second.

As Rock goes in elbow first towards Juri's head, Brandon moves in towards her flank as a glowing High Priestess tarot card appears floating in the air and as it slashes horizontally, forming a crescent wave of light which travels a short distance to slash the taekwondo prodigy's torso. Meanwhile, the private eye's invisibility is ripped from his form like a shredded cloak revealing himself to the world.

COMBATSYS: Rock successfully hits Juri with Elbow Spike.

[   \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////////// ]
Juri             0/-------/-======|-------\-------\0          Brandon
                                  >  /////////////////////////     ]
                                  |===----\-------\0             Rock

COMBATSYS: Juri blocks Brandon's II - The High Priestess.

[    \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////////// ]
Juri             0/-------/-======|-------\-------\0          Brandon
                                  >  /////////////////////////     ]
                                  |===----\-------\0             Rock

Juri rebounds from the blinding assault with incredible grace, each of her kicks hammering at the boy's defenses as he manages to get somewhat less squishy parts of his anatomy into their path. However, despite the speed of the attack, there is something sloppy about it, some degree of laziness or apathy behind the blows. Her form is loose and uneven, the openings that Rock expertly spies the result of her not actually caring enough to put much effort into her kicks.

She isn't taking him seriously.

The hard edge of his elbow smashes into the side of her head as the young woman, potentially an assassin, finishes the second spin, catching her in that brief moment where her guard is down. The impact snaps her face to the side but rather than cry out in pain or look surprised, Juri simply takes one step back to steady herself. Her head slowly turns back to regard her prey, that seductively poisonous smile still smeared across her attractive features.

"That's a step in the right direction."

The sudden revelation of a second presence in the room is met by a haughty snap of the woman's foot, a swath of blazing purple energy bisecting the card-borne crescent of magical power neatly in half. The transition from casual mockery to martial motion is nearly instantaneous, too quick for it to be sheer reflexes. Juri leans back on one foot, her leg remaining dangling in the air, folded at the knee to create a barrier between herself and her opponents.

"Hah! You really think a cheap trick like is gonna help you? You two really are a pair of losers."

Bending the leg upon which she stands slightly, the girl propels herself into the air with a sharp downwards thrust. She flies backwards into the wall, landing upon it sideways with no obvious difficulty, then immediately pushes away once more. She sails over Rock's head like a torpedo, falling upon the now revealed dectective in a diving kick that blazes to life with burning psycho power.

She would not be the first nor the last. Much to his great displeasure, without a legendary reputation or one of disrepute to precede him, he will always encounter those who underestimate his prowess. Who don't take him seriously. In fact, finding an individual who allows Rock the respect he's not certain he has fully earned is rare and shocking. Such was how he felt upon meeting Ryu Hayabusa for their tournament match.

However, that's neither here nor there, so moving on!

The spectre's veil is lifted! And Rock is relieved not to see perhaps the gruesome grin of another assassin come to join the festivities, but his own teammate: Brandon. Having been absent during the first round of the King of Fighters, the young wolf has never seen the detective's skills beyond that initial performance on live-feed. The guy even survived an attempt on his own life, did he not? Surely Howard will be able to count on him for help, irregardless of the other man's personal feelings of inadequacy.

SMACK! Elbow meets... something. Perhaps a high cheekbone, maybe chin, snapping her head to the side. Juri might be considered attractive in some circles, but Rock finds her visage as putrid as her vicious smile. It drips in a manner more repulsive than enticing. This fly wants nothing to do with any parlours, and resists all devouring as he pulls away and waits.

He's surprised that he feels no remorse after hitting a girl in the face.

A thought occurs to him, as his sleuthing companion sees little in the way of results and loses a card in the process. The Spider clearly wasn't hired by Geese, but Violet Systems hasn't yet been ruled out. Previous moves made against the Hungry Wolves due to their inclusion of Brandon are taken into account. Rock's stance against the company on a whole is further solidified. He doesn't consider the UN or anyone else with hands in the pot, only because they're too small fry to pose a significant threat to warrant attention. Lee Chaolan is an eccentric exception. Isn't he in hiding?

Someone's got her sass on, in lieu of Brandon's quick dealing. "Losers?" Rock asks, although the question is redundant. "This coming from a woman who probably would've attacked an unconscious teenager in a coma. Sucks for you that I woke up, doesn't it?" He attempts to wrap both hands around her ankle, come hell or high water. She's jumping over him and may get kicks in first, but if the American prodigy has his way, it'll be a twist before she's brought hard to the floor, followed by a stomp on an area less vital.

Blood ekes out from the corner of his mouth. No matter how he may power through it, no matter how adrenaline is his fuel, Rock is still injured, and he blocked her strike from before with the side that has a broken rib. Beneath the bandages, his skin still tingles from the usage of Psycho Power. It's unpleasant. The blonde heartthrob is not a fan.

COMBATSYS: Juri successfully hits Brandon with Shikusen.

[     \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////          ]
Juri             1/-------/=======|======-\-------\0          Brandon
                                  >  ////////////////////////      ]
                                  |====---\-------\0             Rock

Brandon can only watch as the crescent blade is sundered by the purple energy as he slips into a Philly Shell inspired boxing stance open handed so his hand is always near that leather pouch of his. As for his thoughts on that reaction. This enemy was scary fast and skilled on a level that was downright terrifying. It made the people who straight up kicked his can throughout his investigations look like a joke and in the investigator's eyes, made himself look like a /bigger/ joke.

That previous line of thought is driven home further when all of a sudden Juri takes to the air, bounds off the wall and launches herself foot first with a kick sheathed in purple psycho power, plowing into his head and contorting his neck into an angle that man's body was not meant to allow as the rest of the body is sent skidding away.

His head is throbbing and for a few moments, the detective has trouble gathering his wits let alone his feet under him. With a bit of a wobble he stands back up once more.

He takes a deep breath as his finger tips brush the leather pouch on his hip and with a bit of sleight of hand, the Strength tarot card appears in his hand as the hand itself becomes engulfed in golden light before he drives it into her stomach in the form of a palm strike. When he draws it back, the card vanishes from his hand.

COMBATSYS: Juri dodges Rock's Combo Grapple.

[     \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////           ]
Juri             1/-------/=======|======-\-------\0          Brandon
                                  >  ////////////////////////      ]
                                  |====---\-------\0             Rock

COMBATSYS: Juri interrupts VIII - Strength from Brandon with Tensenrin.

[         \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////                         ]
Juri             1/----===/=======|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2          Brandon
                                  >  ////////////////////////      ]
                                  |====---\-------\0             Rock

Juri is less a teenage assassin and more a psychic missile as she streaks down through the short gap between one side of the small hospital room and the other, crashing into the dectective who had foolishly revealed his cards a little too soon. But then, perhaps there was never going to be a right time to ambush her. The woman's speed and senses seemed unreal.

Rock's attempt to save his friend from his terrible fate meets with little success, his grab simply too slow to intercept her ballistic path into Brandon. The kick plows into its target with deadly accuracy and Juri rebounds from the blow with ease, flipping up into the air with a graceful backflip that sees her land neatly on her feet directly infront of the magician, still easily within striking range. The girl twists about at the waist and leans backwards, bending her body like a gymnast so that she is peering at Rock in a half recline, balanced on one foot and offering him that sadisticly seductive smile that he loves so much. Her tongue slides out, tracing the contours of her lips.

"Watch this, kid. I have a neat trick of my own."

By the time Brandon has within his card on the sly, the deadly teenager is already in motion again. She leaps into the air and twists further, forcing her legs to uncoil like a wound-up spring as she does so. A blazing corkscrew of violent psycho energy erupts from both feet, her legs windmilling several full rotations as she rises slowly upwards in defiance of natural law. The unfortunate dectective has no chance to escape the vortex created by this sudden display of power, finding himself draw into the whirlwind of neon light, slender legs, and twisted laughter.

To be fair, it's incredibly easy to mistake her 'professional inclination' when she just marched on into a hospital, maybe killed everyone that could get in her way, then sought out Rock specifically. What would you think?

That Juri was just aggressively handing out Girl Guide cookies?

So she might not be an assassin, or have any idea what in the fresh hell Violet Systems happens to be. One of his many suggestions was a psychopath blowing off steam, but the threat is no less real. It looms over them both, over the entire wing of the building. Her killing intent is nigh palpable, and as the woman's ankle slips out of reach, Rock's crimson eyes widen to their very limits. He's unable to shout warnings. Juri ploughs into the detective like a purple rocket, streaking through the room with speed and brutality that one would never expect coming from someone so small. His jaw drops...

Brandon goes sliding across the pristine linoleum, but their aggressor is on her feet.

Then she leans back with the sort of maniacal glee that he abhors. An apex predator that plays with its food, but has no need for sustenance. This is for fun, after all. Her entertainment. The kid's teeth click together and Rock's blood begins to boil.

Although his teammate manages to pick himself up, and using sleight of hand, procures another tarot card, there's an alarming sense of futility to his trickery. Rock feels a doom and gloom that he cannot shake. Juri offers front row seats to her next act, but not one for abandoning others to the harsh fate of a cruel mistress, he throws himself forward to push Brandon clear of the rising corkscrew flurry of kicks. Too late. Leading with his palm, he's dragged into the eye of the storm. The pale blonde curses his powerlessness, inwardly.

Curses her for whatever she represents, quietly.

Eventually, the girl's going to have to come down. She can't hang from the ceiling when there's nothing to grab, unless Psycho Power works in mysterious ways. The wielder of the Major Arcana must fall, too. Rock's height and weight are similar to that of Brandon, which makes catching him no easy feat, but he can sure try. Try whilst amethyst chi ignites in fury, whipping his flaxen strands of hair around, tossing them into disarray. It roars as it builds, a crescendo of cacophonous racket that the wolf pup won't be struggling to contain. Not today.

This is his inheritance from Geese Howard. The price he has paid just by being the man's son. What he fights to control, what he sees no point in resisting. If he caught his associate, either Rock shifts him to his good side for support or he can stand on his own. Twin rubies burn in their sockets. "Visiting hours are over. Time for you to get the fuck out." Bluff. Bluster. He's met worse; his words remain coldly paced and tone even. Swiftly devising a way for them to escape, wherever Duck is, or his mentor, neither are coming, not anytime soon. It falls to the teen prodigy... And the task is daunting.

COMBATSYS: Rock gathers his will.

[         \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////                         ]
Juri             1/----===/=======|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2          Brandon
                                  >  /////////////////////////     ]
                                  |=======\=------\1             Rock

COMBATSYS: Brandon chooses not to act.

[         \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////////////     ]
Juri             1/----===/=======|=======\=------\1             Rock

COMBATSYS: Brandon can no longer fight.

[         \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////////////     ]
Juri             1/----===/=======|=======\=------\1             Rock

Brandon's body doesn't even have a chance to respond to sudden change in movement as the psycho powered taekwondo practitioner lifts him into the air in a vortex of pain. Control of his body is no longer his own as he gets batted around like a rag doll by her feet. Though it doesn't take very long, it feels like an eternity before it eventually ends.

When gravity takes hold of his body again, he flies towards the arms of his team mate for the landing which isn't a fun experience for either party considering bone to bone contact plus his body traveling at such a high velocity The already tortured thaumaturgist's body spasms from the residual psycho power wreaking havoc with his nervous system before it collapses limply to the ground, bloodied and broken.

No final gasp is forthcoming. He hadn't trained his body to endure this much agony especially when so much of his training and development time was spent devising a way to avoid the by utilizing his deck to wield his energy in a way that didn't harm him. All told, he has several broken bones in his ribs, breathing would be painful if he were still conscious, and he's currently suffering from both internal and external hemorrhaging from the kicks to the torso and head.

Juri's sickly sweet laughter echoes through the room as she batters the detective with unmerciful fury, each spinning kick slamming into his body like a bag of hammers, each blow punctuated by the searing fires of her killing spirit. Assassin or not, it's clear that this girl has the power to end a life with casual ease if she so choses, as evidenced by the broken heap of flesh and bone that she deposits to the floor with a final dimissive overhead kick that drive's Brandon to the ground. Fortunately, though he could not save the man from this fate, Rock is there to shield him from the last bit of suffering by intercepting the detective's fall with his own body.

In sharp contrast to the violent descent of her victim, Juri performs another acrobatic flip to reorient herself as she tumbles back to the floor, landing in a three-point crouch on the far side of the room. She maintains this pose for a time, peering up at Rock through the bright purple of her dyed bangs with a look that might have been enticing if it weren't coming from a psychopathic teenager that had just bludgeoned his friend half to death. She watches him, savoring the look of outrage and pain upon his features as he allows himself to surrender to the legacy he's tried so hard to push aside in a last desperate attempt to regain control over what might be the final moments of his life.

It isn't until he speaks to her, barking like a cornered chihuahua, that she finally rises. She takes her time about it, slowly pushing to her feet, her back arching sensously as she rolls her torso back into an upright position. A hand goes to her face to brush a few stray locks of her long raven hair aside, pushing them away from the left side of her face to reveal that strangely glowing eye once more, glinting with a soft but ever-present malice.

"Really? Well, that's just too bad, because I never was much one for the rules!"

She sneers at injured teen, one eye half closing while the other widens further, her tongue folding out in a mocking gesture that somehow manages to make her look even more crazy, flipping him the bird for good measure.

"Now then, since it's just you and me... hmm... how about we... have a little fun?"

Juri's gaze shifts back to the crumpled heap in Rock's arm and a slow smile spreads across her face. She puts her hands on her hips, cocking them to one side, every move she makes seeming to drip with fatal feminine appeal.

"Ohhhh, yeah, you're gonna love this," she says, softly, her velvety voice dripping with amusement. "We both know you're no match for me. Especially not while you herrrroically shield your buddy there. So... we're going to play a game."

Juri's expression remains fixed in a viperous smile and she slowly lifts one of her hands to make a gesturing motion towards the two of them.

"Here's the rules. If you can survive three of my attacks, I'll let you both go. But, you can't fight back. You just stand there, like a little white knight protecting his king, and do your best to not die. Let's see.... how strong that resolve of yours really is."

The girl shifts positions suddenly, leaning forward to give the cornered fighter another manic grin.

"So how about it?! Hahaha! You gonna play my game, little boy? Or should I just kill you both right now?"

COMBATSYS: Juri takes no action.

[        \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////////////     ]
Juri             1/----===/=======|=======\=------\1             Rock

It's like getting hit by a truck, but the truck is a human ballistic missile. If he had been a little smaller, a little less sturdy, Rock's certain they'd both be splattered on the floor. The collision is punctuated by a harsh expulsion of air as it is forced from his lungs. His broken rib aches in protest as pain is born anew during the crunch, but Brandon's suffering is over, for now. Unconsciousness claims him. Gotta get the detective some immediate medical attention, that much the blonde-haired teen knows, shifting the weight of his teammate to his better side. Sadly, there isn't any hope of finding such here.

His handsome features contort with the effort required to stand and exist, no matter how he wishes to appear blank and apathetic in the face of positive prime evil. Around him, violent violet energy whips itself into a frenzy, coalescing into something greater, a wall, then gone. Residual sparks arc from his fingertips, or across the American's shoulders as each breath is drawn with shuddering agony. A scarlet line reaches his chin and drips steadily. Rock faces Juri, and she faces him.

Her wiles, inappropriate given the situation, have no chance of enticing the shy boy. Waste them on ignorants and idiots. Even if his life wasn't in peril, a 'girl' of her sadistic tendencies holds no sway over him or the other head that some men prefer to think with. Rock's expression changes again, filled with silent disgust and obvious disdain. Juri sensuously twists her body hither, thither, brushing away her hair, but she remains a Spider, and everything she says reeks. It's so rotten that even saccharine sweet locution grants her no favours. Rebuke him, tell them that they're outclassed, invite Rock into the wheelhouse...

Except that he's never really placed much stock in the rules, either. Not a psychopath's rules.

Towards the very end, she eagerly pounces on his weakness as if it were a succulent slab of steak. That causes him to feel weary. "Big surprise." Rock mutters to really no one, doing his best to lay the thaumaturgist down gently. A sharp crimson gaze never leaves Juri for a second, the young prodigy straightening soon after in one smooth, sinuous movement.

"Looks like you forgot the third option, how careless. See, what about this?" The Howard scion, thoroughly fed up with the theatrics and her ridiculous crowing, proposes, "/Get bent/." There's no way he'll gamble Brandon's life on her word. Resolve is not synonymous with stupidity, or suicide. An intelligent fighter knows when to run. Rock refuses to play. Refuses to play the role of knight to the best of his ability.

This could be a huge mistake...


Fists smash into the linoleum, the thick layer of vigorously treated plastic nothing in comparison to Rock's cursed inheritance, which has returned in full blast. Freedom! The deep rumble from the bowels of the parkade sounds distant and nonthreatening, until one realizes that the hospital was poorly designed. Beneath them is an extensive underground car park, and it's like the floor is suddenly being funnelled into its concrete depths.

First, there's a crater, caving further inwards. Brandon's barely breathing body starts to slide away. Rampant streaks of amethyst run roughshod, shredding his patient gown to fragments. Rock continues to act as a conduit while pouring his energy into the brewing catastrophe below... Then he yells, "/STOOOOOOOOORM/!"

At once, the entire mass explodes upwards, throwing the bed with its thin mattress and steel frame against the wall, a personal side table shooting through the door. Huge crescents gouge the ceiling, leaving deep rents in the plaster. There's nowhere to go, the room collapses. Streaking schisms sag wider into a gaping maw that opens to purple and blue oblivion. Juri could avoid the worst of it, but she's still gonna wind up buried in rubble. Grasping his associate by the arm, Rock hauls the dead weight onto his back and plunges into the hurricane; he seems to disappear from sight when the hellish maelstrom somehow seems to grow in size and ferocity.

Another bluff. A GOOD bluff.

Rock lands in a sprint, jarring Brandon probably in ways just as unkind as their aggressor/kinda assassin. He darts through the wreckage with purpose and determination, throwing his bare foot through a car window and shattering it clear across the vehicle. Fingers crossed there's an extra set of keys.

COMBATSYS: Juri blocks Rock's Raging Storm EX+.

[           \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////////////     ]
Juri             1/--=====/=======|-------\-------\0             Rock

Despite her clearly unhinged proposition, Juri is patient while the boy considers her offer. She watches the emotions wage war within him, feeling the torment as he struggles to contend with a maelstrom of fear, rage, and concern as tumultuous as the storm of power that whirls around his injured body. She isn't psychic, atleast not in the manner that might allow her to see into his mind or his soul, but then she doesn't need to be. The reactions she draws out from her victims are often plain as day and this boy fares no different, no matter how he might struggle to put on a brave face.

The slinky teenager shifts her stance once again as he answers her with a refusal and a proposition of his own, leaning forward to rest her hands on the front of her knees, her eyebrows rising slightly in an inquisitive manner. That was slightly unexpected, but now she's quite eager to see what he has in mind. What trick does this blond brat possess that he thinks is going to let him walk away from this in one piece?

"Well, well... I'm a little surprised. I'd heard you were one of those boy scouts that looked both ways before crossing the street and helped little old ladies with their shopping."

She smirks at him and the gesture quickly blossoms into a full-fledge grin, her lips peeling back to reveal teeth as she barks out a laugh.

"Hahaha! Maybe you have a little bit more of your dad in you than everyone wants to believe."

The gathering wellspring of power elicts no surprise or sudden reaction from the assassin. While she is more than fast enough to interrupt his little dramatic display and belt him out the nearest window, she finds herself curious to see precisely what the pinnacle of this person's power might be. She crosses her arms, simply standing there as he bellows out his defiance, as if waiting for an elevator to arrive at its destination. Her hair flutters in the invisible currents of power that swirls through the room, billowing out behind her like a black cloak, the vestaments of a reaper who holds the power of life and death within her whim.

The first rumblings of trouble come from below. Juri's lazy gaze drifts down towards the floor of the room, eyeing the cracks that slowly spider-web out from the roiling ball of chi that Rock has gathered unto himself. The imagery is somewhat ironic. It is also short-lived. The circular pattern of fractures suddenly divets downwards at its center as the poorly constructed floor is pulverized beneath the constant pressure of raw power. The girl finds herself forced to lean back slightly as the floor shifts to a slight incline, but rather than look worried, she just rolls her eyes and taps one of her bare feet rapidly, lifting a hand to roll the index finger in the air in the universal 'get on with it' gesture.

When her wish is finally granted, the room simply explodes in a geyser-like blast of raging power. Juri's reaction is instantaneous, her body flying into motion as the world seems to slow down around her. The Feng Shui Engine feeds data directly to her mind, hundreds of calculations and predictions flashing through her memory as it blares countless warnings about flying debris from the massive explosion.

She weaves effortlessly between the largest of the threats, avoiding several pieces of medical machinery with twists and turns that would make the most accomplished acrobat look like a child. The massive shape of the upturned bed flies at her, careening off one of the walls, and she pivots in mid-air, whipping a leg up to intercept it. The sheer speed and mass of the object overwhelms her ability to maintain her position but before she can be crushed like a bug between the matress and the wall behind her, Juri plants her hands atop the uppermost edge of its frame and hoists herself over the side, pinwheeling away only moments before it crashes noisily.

The storm of energy is as brief as it is destructive, burning itself out in only a few short moments, but delaying her long enough for the boy and his ward to slip to the floor below. Juri lands lightly on the edge of the crater created by Rock's defiant display, hands once more on her hips as she leans forward to peer down upon the shattered pile of rubble and detrius with a frown on her face.

"Really? That's it? That's your best shot?"

She lets out an annoyed sigh through her lips, her breath angled upwards to flutter the neon bangs now hanging haphazardly over her face once more. How boring. In the end, he didn't actually sacrifice his friend. He just created a new way to run away. Well, you know what they say about running and dying tired.

Juri hops into the hole and cartwheels down the small mountain of debris, whirling around upon reaching the bottom to scan the array of cars lined up within the underground lot, her eye shining menacingly as it continues to pour information into her. It takes only a few moments to find the fleeing mouse, his quick thinking and hurried flight having given him enough time to scamper several dozen feet. She eyes the car and gives him another nasty grin.

"What, you think you can just blow your wad and leave? Or... oh I know... you're a quick shot, aren't you? That's pretty embarassing, hahaha! But, we're not done til I finish, blondie."

The assassin, who is probably just a crazy woman in reality, lets out a terrifying peal of laughter as she leaps into the air. Her body twists like a cat at the apex of her leap, but instead of righting herself, Juri turns upside-down, even as she whirls to show her back to Rock. The end result of this odd gymnastic display becomes clear a moment later. A massive surge of crackling psycho power gathers around her body as she spirals upwards but when she leans into the graceful backflip her leg whips out at the same time, deliving a sharp vertical kick into the empty space. That power becomes an utterly monsterous crescent of seething purple destruction, stretching from the floor to the very ceiling above. It scythes through concrete as if it were sand, slicing apart cars with no more difficulty than if they were sticks of soft butter, rending everything in its way as it closes in on the fleeing teenager and his precious cargo.

COMBATSYS: Rock blocks Juri's Sakkai Fuhazan.

[           \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////          ]
Juri             0/-------/---====|===----\-------\0             Rock

Heave-ho! As soon as he wrenches the rear door open, Brandon is piled in like luggage -- quickly and unceremoniously. Rock mutters his apologies to the unconscious man, but there's no time to take it easy. The teen just hopes an equivalent amount of damage wasn't wrought in the great escape as the attack that took the detective out.

With a resounding THWACK, Rock slaps down the visor on the passenger side and applies enough force to break it, but keys fall onto the seat, jingling like a bell. He won the lottery, and on the first try. For a moment too long, the Howard scion pauses, dumbfounded at his luck. It's unfortunate for the owner, but what a coincidence. How convenient, et al.

He's about to dive into the driver's seat, but that's when Juri reappears. No doubt her acrobatic performance was a sight to behold. Effortless weaving and evasion, entirely avoiding the detritus debris meant to bury her. The Spider cartwheels down the pile of wreckage and ruination, no worse for wear. Such things do not bode well for Rock.

She jabbers, and he pivots to turn, his lean frame an obstacle between deadly intent and the getaway car. Blow his--... Seriously? SERIOUSLY? "..." Rock has nothing to say, not in his defence nor to agree. Supposedly, she thought she spied fear, but that is nowhere to be found here, or not anymore. He is all baleful glares and weary frowns, his body tense, crimson eyes aglow in the dying light of the storm. A slipstream whirls around him, cerulean and translucent. The young wolf brings his hand wreathed in pale energy to his cut and bruised face.

Drawing a single, steadying breath, he snarls, "You're in my way."

Seraph wings explode from his back with an audible tear of bandages. His handsome features twist in the shadow cast by his palm. They unfurl, shining, splendidly radiant. The full span eclipses any vehicle in the parkade. One pinion shields the blonde-haired boy with a flap and rustle of feathers, and the other remains protectively outstretched. A barrier far more impressive than Rock himself, made manifest by his chi.

Their maintenance requires all of his concentration, all of his energy. Due to the purity of motive, there is no evidence of his bloodline curse. Just an innocent blue luminescence, softly lit and resplendent. Juri spirals, flips, sparking like a firecracker throughout. She ushers off a tumultuous wave of destructive power that cleaves a van in twain. It shatters apart with a bang like a gunshot. As if the crescent of Psycho Power had a mind of its own, it hones in on Rock directly. The heir-apparent wraps an arm around his middle, to hold his shaking form together.

The clash results in dust and a scattering of flights, but the purple scythe's ferocity is diminished. Pressure applied remains intense, even though it regresses further. Finally, sawing through his bent wing, disappearing into an eroded hole, the blade slices his pant leg. A deep gash decorates Rock's thigh, blood rising to the surface and bubbling over red as the wound weeps.

Rock boots the rear door closed in a sudden burst, throwing himself into the driver's seat before the enormous wings have faded. He sits on shards of broken glass with a growing pool around his feet, but jamming the key into the ignition, the engine comes to life with a satisfying roar. Every action is no nonsense, a completion of various tasks. Shifting the stick to reverse, the automobile peels the hell out of the stall. If Juri gets in the way, so be it. The attractive prodigy couldn't care less if he runs her ass over.

Swinging on its hinges, the passenger door is lost when Rock smashes apart the ticket barrier and hits a speed bump hard. The car vaults into the street, into traffic, and tears off, horn blaring. Looks like playtime is over, and the psychopath's been abandoned, left unfulfilled. He is gone.

COMBATSYS: Rock has left the fight here.

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

Upon unleashing her deadly farewell gift, Juri alights lightly upon the ground and turns to watch the destruction that she has unleashed. The blade of psycho power does what it was intended to do, carving through everything in its path as it homes in on its intended target. Rock's desperate defense is quite the sight to behold, managing to make even the young woman's eyebrows rise upwards in mild surprise at the unexpectedly flashy response.

But, even with such a powerful display, it isn't enough to fully turn aside the raw deadly force that she has unleashed. Juri's eyes slide to a lazy half-lidded stare, the left one glinting with a twinkle of inner light as the Feng Shui Engine analyzes the clash of energy. She watches in intricate detail as Rock's construct of angelic wings resists and then falters against the onslaught of her own willpower, the hyper-dense crescent of violet manifested killing intent carving slowly and inexorably through his barrier like it was a Thanksgiving turkey.

In the end, it proves adequate enough to spare his life, though he does not escape without gaining yet another memento to remember her by. She can't help but grin at the sheer speed with which the clearly battered son of Geese Howard flies into action, diving into the car and flying through the parking lot like something out of a cheesy Hollywood action flick.

"What pretty wings. I'm going to enjoy plucking them." For a moment, she contemplates stopping him. It would be a fairly trivial matter to intercept the car, as she had only just moments before demonstrated, but after a few moments of contemplation Juri simply steps aside to allow him passage. Killing him now wouldn't be any fun. There's something missing from the equation, something crucial: fear. This boy doesn't fear her yet, doesn't dread the very idea of her shadow darkening his door step.

"Fly away, little bird," she says to the quickly retreating car, smiling like a cat that has found something small and amusing to toy with. "The real fun is yet to come."

Log created on 15:04:52 10/05/2017 by Juri, and last modified on 03:49:35 10/22/2017.