KOF 2017 - Act 3 Mission 4: Hollow Win

[Toggle Names]

Description: Staging an invasion at Kyushu's northern shore, Jack'O, the final of the Valentines, makes landfall with her ghostly horde of Gears. The eccentric Valentine switches from calculating genius to child-like, making her an unpredictable commander in the war, but she'll need all the wits she can muster when she swiftly collides with a single figure. Having failed to eliminate the Gears completely due to the interference of Sub-Zero, Baiken makes her stand here. Her village was ravaged by the likes of these creatures. Her family, her friends, only dim memories in her mind. They would die with her. Or they would be avenged.

It would take precision, in the war of the Gears, to invade Japan directly. It would take a calculating mind, a hint of cunning, and would take a deft intelligence to ensure that every minor piece and part was accounted for. Everything that could be used needed to be, and at the highest level of care and control needed to be exercised in all things. That is why there is a water-craft, careful as it is, heading towards shore. A single lantern lights its way, green and ghostly, like an abandoned ghost ship from ages and eons ago. There is no sound, for the motor is dead, instead propelled... a different way.

On the very front of the boat, Jack-O' nods her head. "This will certainly ensure that the common ways they might pick up on us will fail. If they are searching for an engine, they will be quite mistaken." She nods, the metallic and green mask covering her face. It stares out towards the water - Dorpos actually linking her to the boat as she stands on the very front, white clothing and red fringes possibly lost in the darkness of the approach.

All things cannot remain the same way for all existence. Entropy is king.

Suddenly, and for no reason at all, Jack-O' goes into a titanic pose, clinging to the edge! Her arms stretch wide ans she leans forwards and - nearly topples off, Dorpos chomping down on the foot of one of the Ghost minions and reeling her back in. "Woah! Close! C'mon! Put your backs INTO IT!" Jack-O' yells at her ghostly swarm, /hands on oars/ as the gear swarm row row rows their way to the shore.

At which point they hit it. "Wow! You guys are totally top notch! Now! THROW ANCHOR!"

Dorpos is unceremoniously chucked outside of the boat, Jack-O' with him, halo trailing through the air, sparkling, as she crashes into the shore - causing a minor explosion upon landing. The benefit is, of course, it makes a very nice place to make a water landing. "ALL TO SHORE THAT'S GOIN' TO SHORE!" She yells out, from the small crater, pulling herself out - the Ghost Gear swarm suddenly piling out like a swarm of puppies. Puppies that wield spears, swords, and magical staves of course.

Pulling herself together, Jack-O' brushes herself off. "Well, I imagine if there was any intent or purpose for surprise, it wouldn't have mattered much anyways." The remark is made, "Anyhow! We should prepare for opposition, which is a constant in these matters. It'll be hard to avoid conflict, but it would likely be better that there was conflict while we're looking for it, rather than be blindsided... after all, the plan never survives first contact with the enemy."

The white-clad Gear strides along with her horde, pulling along a ball as she goes, masked as well. It would be hard to avoid making note of her.

That the Gears would try to invade Japan is a given. But there are any number of places they could make landfall, and the Japanese defense force is hampered by having to cover all of them at once.

Which means that Jack-O's plan should be perfect. Having the Gears come invisibly (or 'invisibly' to radar, sensors, and scanners, at least) means that there should be nobody there. They can't afford to leave even a token guard spread across the entirety of Kyushu's shores, instead staying to the cities and fortified regions. Without the warning a conventional landing would kick up, the defenders are blindsided. When blindsided, they're slow to react, and though there might be people on the way, there aren't any here yet.

Well... That's not quite true.

There is one figure on an outcropping overlooking the shore. She stayed out of sight while the Gear-ship approached, for much as she wanted to act - and act now! - she wasn't exactly going to be at her best if she had to swim out to meet them. So she steadied herself.

As Jack-O' throws herself onto the shore, the figure grinds a long-handled kiseru out against her ankle. Tucking the kiseru away in her robes, she rises, visible briefly on the skyline before she drops off the outcropping, running forward, the rage she feels on seeing those figures too much to hold back.

There are a lot of Gears here. More than she's ever fought at once before, at least when they're all active and alive. Last time she came close, she was stopped by a UN soldier. Here, there's nothing but the Gears and their leader. The ronin lets her anger burn at the sight of them making landfall as she approaches under cover of darkness.

But as she gets out from the shore, there's nowhere to hide, and the figure becomes clearly visible.

Baiken - one-armed, one-eyed, looking furious - rushes toward the lonely beach where the Gears are coming ashore. She has, as far as anyone can see, no backup; she runs toward the Gear forces recklessly and alone. She lets out a wordless cry as she approaches.

This time, she's going to kill all the damn monsters.

COMBATSYS: Baiken has started a fight here on the left meter side.

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

COMBATSYS: Jack-O' has joined the fight here on the right meter side.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Baiken           0/-------/------=|-------\-------\0          Jack-O'

"Everyone! Remember to march as a unit!" The 'Command' Gear proclaims. If nothing else, she WAS certainly being commanding. Striding forwards, step after step, Jack-O' tapped her mask and glanced around. It did seem too easy. Even as one of the white marshmallow like Gears toppled over, Jack-O' righting him and patting it's head, the woman looks all about. How odd. She can't shake this feeling that...


That they were being watched. The swarm of Gears are all white, all small, all holding a myriad of weapons. A few of them specifically set for each and every type. They are /clearly/ typed, by the way. Absolute order requires absolute certainty. In this case, Jack-O' is certain there are just three types.

Another reason why the approaching Baiken is out of the ordinary. "My, that's exactly something I planned for, too. I guess I should have stuck to the plan, hmm?" She asks out loud, to no one, as she leeeeeeans forwards, rear the only thing pointed to the sky, head straight towards Baiken as she lets out a horrific cry! "Yaaaaaawn~. Berserker type, hmm?" Okay, so it was more of a yawn and a stretch. "Focused, clearly. Likely lacking a plan... unlikely to take note of her surroundings... is that an eye-patch?" A smile spreads more-so across the mask, Jack-O's analytical side taking in the opponent, "Oh so angry, too. By my calculations, this number would have at least required a surprise attack. Is this human desire? Naked, bloodthirsty, burning desire for vengeance?" Hmmm~. I wonder what you might get out of this... lets both find out!"

"Ah! Did you wanna play? Trick Or Treat! Doesn't look like you got any candy either... heheheee." She coss, the Gear grinning through the mask. Still standing with her rear upwards, her hands now hit the ground and she leaps upwards, pushing off. There's .. something in her hands now, though? The angelic halo above Jack-O's hands spins once, popping out something into those hands of hers as she leaps.

It's a house. A pumpkin house.

"CATCH!" The pumpkin house goes tumbling through the air towards Baiken, door swung wide open and windows' curtains billowing in the breeze. It seems pretty solid though, based on the heavy THUD it makes when landing, burning with chi energies from the glowing halo above her head.

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

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Baiken           0/-------/------=|-------\-------\0    Ghost Lancers
                                  >  //////////////////////////////]
                                  |-------\-------\0          Jack-O'

COMBATSYS: Baiken dodges Jack-O''s Spectral Deployment.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Baiken           0/-------/------=|-------\-------\0    Ghost Lancers
                                  >  ///////////////////////////// ]
                                  |-------\-------\0          Jack-O'

Jack-O' is at least partially right on her read on Baiken. Baiken is angry, and she's been called a berserker before. She certainly has one eye hidden behind an eyepatch (looks like glass, probably isn't because putting glass next to your face when you don't have to is a bad plan) that is holding a tsuba in place to hide the scarred socket.

But she has a plan. It's just a straightforward one. Uncomplicated plans are less likely to get tangled up.

Baiken doesn't know why Jack-O' has a pumpkin house or what she is going to do with it. All she sees is a chi-imbued object being lobbed at her, and she wants no part of that. She weaves to one side, drawing her sword in the same motion - perhaps she intended to parry it but changed her mind at the last moment when she saw the size of the thing.

The pumpkin house lands on the gritty, rocky behind Baiken. She ignores it for a moment. This may be a mistake, as it turns out, but she doesn't know what it does and is assuming getting some distance between her and it will help out. Instead, she focuses on the Command Gear, vaulting into the air as she goes over a particularly large rock.

Baiken somersaults forward, and her 'empty' sleeve produces a blade, a large curved weapon. She uses the forward flip momentum to try to slash Jack-O' and end up just behind her; the tip of the blade remains peeking out from her 'empty' sleeve, her other hand holding the short katana she prefers.

"Thought you'd try to sneak in, huh," Baiken growls. "Too bad. Take all your Gears and die!"

COMBATSYS: Jack-O' blocks Baiken's Youzansen.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Baiken           0/-------/----===|-------\-------\0    Ghost Lancers
                                  >  //////////////////////////    ]
                                  |=------\-------\0          Jack-O'

The house tumbles past Baiken, and Jack-O' for a moment ... freezes!? "Wh-huh? No way! That's a pretty good trick!" The Gear claims, the house rolling to a stop and the door, shutting - opens. While there are many Marshmallow like gears around, none of them are that super great at following her commands. They're a larger group, an attack force of Gear like pikmin, so to speak? They are pointed and they go do.

The second batch is far more potent.

As Baiken somersaults forwards, the empty sleeve producing a massive curved weapon, Jack-O' is forced to go on the defensive - Dorpos grasped and used as a 'wall', both Gear and familiar being slammed backwards as she staggers away, arms and familiar wounded in such a terrible, ruthless blow! "Awww, woke up on the wrong-side of the bed this mornin'?" Jack-O' chides, winking. Then again. And again. "Look what I can doooo~." It's, of course, the mask winking. "You next! C'mon, try!"

There is a pause as Jack-O' staggers back finally from the clash, onto her rear. "Quite impressive, actually... but I have to wonder. What drives you? It can't just be the defense of others... unless you'd enjoy killing us. Ah, that must be why. Scientifically, we're the most likely direct threat to you - there must be some kind of mechanism. Like a marked scent after an ant dies so the others know." Pause, "We killed your other ants, didn't we?" Scientifically, she may be correct. This is likely not to help the way she puts it.

"I can't really apologize. That's not really something I can do. Or would do." She claims, dashing forwards towards Baiken, diving down towards her. "You must be so focused... unable to identify the important things that are all around you." It's figurative, isn't it? No. Not really.

As Jack-O' dives down, the halo atop her head suddenly begins to spin, a rapid buzzsaw of chi as she lunges towards Baiken's feet, attempting to cleave and cut. Maybe she'd jump away again.

Which is what she wants as well. The house that was left alone doesn't just sit there. One after another, small marshmallow like gears, 'Ghosts' as she has dubbed them, come out. Spears, wielded in angry faces wearing masks like she had. They march towards Baiken from behind - and with their spears, they drive them towards Baiken's back in a sudden and powerful charge, a wordless cry as they aim to catch her in an attempted escape!

COMBATSYS: Baiken parries Ghost Lancers' Bardiche Ballast!

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////////// ]
Baiken           0/-------/----===|-------\-------\0    Ghost Lancers
                                  >  /////////////////////////     ]
                                  |=------\-------\0          Jack-O'

COMBATSYS: Baiken interrupts Hell Angel from Jack-O' with Sakura EX.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////////// ]
Baiken           0/-------/-======|-------\-------\0    Ghost Lancers
                                  >  ////////////////////          ]
                                  |=====--\-------\0          Jack-O'

The marshmallow-ish Gears are a problem, but not an urgent one. Baiken doesn't know how coordinated they are without a leader; if all they do is mill around, even the Japanese defense forces can handle it without... too much of a problem. She's not willing to say none.

But the ones controlled by Jack-O'? Those are a problem. And if Jack-O is allowed to control all of them, it will only get worse.

"Humans are not /ants/," Baiken snarls, nettled by the comparison. Is that what Gears think of humanity? She doesn't really care to reeducate them; they're better off dead. But the way she puts it so /baldly/... right before she acts like a ditz. Truly, Gears are bizarre creatures, but Baiken is no psychoanalyst. The anger overrides it.

Alerted by some sixth sense, Baiken whirls as the lancers move toward her, and whirls again at Jack-O's spinning ring of buzzsaw halo chi. Attacked from both sides, she should be at her most vulnerable, but Baiken's face splits into an ugly grin. Rather than jump away, she allows the lancers to press her, deflecting blow after blow and almost dancing inside the group of them, making it real hard for Jack-O to get a clear approach.

And then Baiken lunges out from the lancers, bowling one (more or less harmlessly) over as she lunges. Jack-O' gets a glancing blow down Baiken's arm, but that doesn't interrupt her sudden thrust, her blade shimmering with pink chi that explodes outwords in a billowing rush, little sparks of it drifting down like cherry blossoms on the breeze. "All of you should be DEAD!"

%Certainly, having an endless swarm of marshmallow Gears is only a problem if you cannot make endless amounts of crackers and chocolate. Or don't enjoy eating spears. There are a combination of things, really, and that falls into the same! With Baiken snarling, clearly one of her nicer expressions, Jack-O' shrugs, "For this comparison, it seems apt. You may just be a far larger ant." The explanation likely won't help Jack-O'. Honestly, that's the farthest thing in her mind. The lancers, however, do not seem to accomplish what they were there for. No, they somehow make it /worse/, Jack-O' watching as the woman deflects each and every blow before making even Jack-O' have a hard time getting through - but not Baiken, whom lunges and cleaves into the Gear commander with an explosive amount of pink chi, causing both the white Gears, and their master, to tumble backwards and away.

How absolutely saddening.

Head over heels, comically, Jack-O' tumbles away before coming to a stop with her face into the ground. Gh. A-NOY-ING. "We're all gonna be DEAD lady, just one of us before the other~! Right now thouuuuugh... he he he." A sickening grin spreads across the mask as Jack-O' grasps her friend, the chomp-like being Dropos, and leaps off of him, almost trampoline like. "SLAAAAMMUUUU - " Oh, she's heading down. "DUUUUUNK!" It's aimed right towards Baiken's body, attempting to cause the odd sensation of being /inside/ a Gear for a moment, all tumble-dry, before being spit out.

Spit out right into a swarm of angry Gears. A swarm of angry Gears that are chucking spears at her in the sky. "FIIIIRE~!" She beams, Dorpos potentially spitting Baiken towards the angry spear chucking mob!

COMBATSYS: Baiken blocks Jack-O''s Hunger of Dorpos.

[  \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////////////  ]
Baiken           0/-------/=======|-------\-------\0    Ghost Lancers
                                  >  ///////////////////           ]
                                  |======-\-------\0          Jack-O'

COMBATSYS: Baiken parries Ghost Lancers' Spear Chuck!

[  \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////////////  ]
Baiken           1/-------/=======|-------\-------\0    Ghost Lancers
                                  >  ///////////////////           ]
                                  |======-\-------\0          Jack-O'

Baiken has no chocolate.

"Shut up." Baiken's command is straight-forward, and she might have had more to follow it had she not been rather occupied with another series of stabbings. The lancers, after all, are literally right there; she has to work fast to not get stabbed in the back after her assault on Jack-O'.

And work fast she does. Baiken keeps turning the lancers on themselves - oh, not damaging, she's barely hurt them except for the one she kind of ran through to get to Jack-O', but keeping them tied up is an effort in and of themselves. She wants to make it look easy, but it isn't.

Occupied enough, she almost gets eaten by Dorpos. Almost - but as Dorpos tries to engulf her, Baiken throws her clawed arm at the ground, letting the 'fingers' dig into the rocks of the beach. When Dorpos grabs her, she doesn't get pulled up and away by him but instead just along the ground, claws leaving furrows in the stony mess.

"Hngh - " No longer communicative, Baiken drags herself away from Jack-O' and Dorpos, towards the cluster of ghosts. She practically rolls into them, and once she's well and truly surrounded she rises, stomping her foot; a pillar of chi erupts from the ground in front of her, angled to launch a number of the closest angry spear-wielding ghosts every which way and clear some space out!

She's beginning to think she might have a chance. This is better than she thought when she started. Maybe she can draw out That Man this way...

COMBATSYS: Baiken successfully hits Ghost Lancers with Tetsuzansen EX.
- Power hit! -

[  \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////        ]
Baiken           1/-----==/=======|=====--\-------\0    Ghost Lancers
                                  >  ///////////////////           ]
                                  |======-\-------\0          Jack-O'

Shut up.

Well, she asked. Jack-O's face falls, a bit, turnign her head to think it over. Baiken continues to do her amazing work, stylish, powerful - compared to apparently the lax Gear that simply was a failure, compared to the others, after all. With Baiken swinging her weapon all over, it's hard for the Ghosts to actually get in - to chuck their spears. They do, actually, but some hit each other. It seems to go through them. It might be some kind of magic.

As Baiken manages to prevent being eaten by Dorpos, Jack-O' makes a hmm-hmmm sound, tilting her head to the other side as Dorpos returns empty handed. She wiggles a finger at the familiar, but there are other problems, clearly there. Jack-O' doesn't seem to be speaking as the ghosts are rolled into, the pillar of chi launching a swarm of the angry spear-wielding ghosts into the sky, tossing them like cereal into a bowl of milk. It's all quite hilarious for the wrong reasons, and especially effective, it seems, as they tumble onto other spears.

Tch tch tching and shaking her head, Jack-O' grasps Dorpos once more and twists around, swinging him towards Baiken in a lazy, wide strike. It's without any of the zest she had earlier, a simple, straight-forwards swipe.

When the marshmallow Gears are done flying in the air, others begin to rush towards Baiken to avenge their comrades, spears sticking out in a wordless battlecry.

COMBATSYS: Baiken blocks Ghost Lancers' Medium Strike.

[   \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////       ]
Baiken           1/----===/=======|=====--\-------\0    Ghost Lancers
                                  >  ////////////////////          ]
                                  |======-\-------\0          Jack-O'

COMBATSYS: Jack-O' successfully hits Baiken with Power Strike.

[      \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////       ]
Baiken           1/--=====/=======|=====--\-------\0    Ghost Lancers
                                  >  ////////////////////          ]
                                  |======-\-------\0          Jack-O'

Baiken has learned something else: Jack-O can direct the ... ghosts? without words. Maybe she should keep her talking, then, so she's too busy to communicate however she's doing it.

Unfortunately for Baiken, she's not actually very good at mid-battle conversation. She tends to keep things stoic or just start screaming in fury. The only reason she's not doing the second is because she's being pushed by the multiple opponents; she's pretty sure nobody here is individually a threat to her (except maybe Jack-O', who she's not sure isn't hiding something), but there's just so damn many...

"What's your plan," Baiken gets out. "Come in here and kill everybody?" She hasn't seen them do anything else, but then again she hasn't exactly let them alone to do whatever they've planned to do. Nor does she intend to, even to figure it out.

The lancers come in stabbing. Baiken tries to fend them off, but a couple get through her guard, pinpricks of red starting to show up against her robe. One of them manages to smack her with the pole of the spear, and that sends her staggering right into Jack-O's bludgeoning strike, which catches her in the stomach hard enough to knock the wind out of her, sending her staggering back the /other/ way and gasping.

Baiken reflexively lashes out at the ghosts she has been launched into again. She sweeps her blade in great arcs, cutting upwards - launching them seemed to work before, but this is more violent as she focuses on one ghost at a time. She's trying to clear a way for her to get to Jack-O', which may be a problem very shortly.

COMBATSYS: Ghost Lancers blocks Baiken's Kuchinashi.

[      \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////          ]
Baiken           1/--=====/=======|=======\-------\0    Ghost Lancers
                                  >  ////////////////////          ]
                                  |======-\-------\0          Jack-O'

If Baiken wanted to learn more about Jack-O', she may have lost the time. There's a possibility that she would pass out flyers for those interested, or perhaps there's a chance she would explain it directly.

The words, 'Shut Up', though, may come to haunt her.

With Bike-Ken on the offensive still, Jacky-O' is content to play pong with Baiken. Literately and figuratively, it seems. Maybe superliminally, at that.

Baiken's words come, and Jack-O's mask raises an eyebrow. She's been masked since the beginning, hasn't she? Rolling her mask's eyes, Jack-O' moves to take the mask off, twirling around so that Baiken can see her take it off, letting out a 'Fwuaaaah....' wiggling a finger and then putting it back on.

Finally, the finger moves to her mouth. Shhhhhhhh, it seems to identify. No talking. Shuttu. Uppu.

Giving a peace sign finally, Jack-O' backs off a few steps, rolling back on Dorpos after he connects into Baiken's stomach, the woman watching as the revenger swings out, slicing towards each and every ghost - they stagger backwards, weapons held up to clash with the assault, but it's too much. The great arcs toss them back, toss them aside, shear them away though some manage to stand. Oh. Unfortunate.

Baiken is half right.

'The thing' that Jack-O' is capable of doing, is, well, done. A multicolored array of singular keys floats infront of her with a wave of her hand - and one of them is pressed and simply held down. The head lols to the side as it looks right at Baiken, finger taken great care to mash down on this particular key, as she holds. It. Down.

That's about when, just as she was getting through the spear wave, the wave of Gears with swords piles forwards, rushing straight past Jack-O' and, like a flood, moves to assault Baiken with their oversized swords, blades and twigs. From behind, the spears come once more, quick and pokey, attempting to swallow up Baiken in an assault from both sides. The gramcracker and chocolate may just have to be Baiken, surrounded by marshmallow.

COMBATSYS: Baiken parries Ghost Lancers' Power Strike!

[      \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////          ]
Baiken           1/-======/=======|=======\-------\0    Ghost Lancers
                                  >  ///////////////////           ]
                                  |======-\-------\0          Jack-O'

COMBATSYS: Baiken interrupts Spectral Sentinel from Jack-O' with Metsudo Kushoudou EX.

[        \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////          ]
Baiken           0/-------/=======|=======\-------\0    Ghost Lancers
                                  >  //////////                    ]
                                  |=======\====---\1          Jack-O'

Jack-O not answering doesn't bother Baiken /too/ much, even though she was trying to keep her busy by asking. It doesn't matter what their attack force is supposed to be doing if they were all dead and can't do it.

(This is not necessarily actually true, but Baiken is a much better tactician than strategist; she doesn't plan wars, she fights battles. Jack-O is absolutely her superior in strategy.)

Nor does Baiken recognize Jack-O when she takes the mask off, just for a moment, so she's not entirely sure why she did that. Taunting her? To catch some fresh air? It's an unknown mystery, one filed away to worry about later or possibly never. It's not much armour; Baiken is pretty sure she could punch through it if she really had to and it's not like Jack-O has some anywhere else.

Once again Baiken is swarmed by ghosts as Jack-O... plays piano? Ghost piano? Whatever she's doing it's effective. Baiken is buried in ghost for a moment, and ends up unable to get a clear path to Jack-O immediately, busy as she is with such things as 'not getting stabbed' and 'not getting bisected by a sword' and similar things. She slams the flat of her blade into one of the sticks, pushing that ghost off-balance, pushing, always pushing...

Four wires fly out from somewhere in the cluster of ghosts. They hit the ground right next to Jack-O, clinging like separated fingers, hooking into the ground - and a moment later Baiken comes barreling out of it, screaming in anger. She slashes wildly as she flies through the air, literally barreling through whatever ghosts get in her way and practically hacking at Jack-O as she passes by, landing about ten feet past her and kicking up rocky grit from the beach. "Stop sending your minions and fight me!"

Baiken is not a fan of ghost piano, apparently.

(This is incredibly true that Baiken is absolutely Jack-O's superior in strategy)

Jack-O was also facing away from Baiken, but it was most certainly a taunt - a taunt from a sore loser, possibly, or for other unknown reasons.

With Baiken buried in ghosts for a moment, it amounts to nothing as Baiken Baiken-dozers through it straightl, pushing the ghosts entirely off balance and freeing her without a scratch. It simply seems Jack-O' is outmatched, especially as the four wires fly out and slam into Jack-O's nearby environment. Baiken is shortly behind, and following that quickly is the sword, rending through flesh. Apparently, Gears still bleed. It is made very apparent as Baiken simply mauls Jack-O'. Flesh is rent on arm, leg, and even rear as Jack-O' isn't given a chance to fight back, staggering as her piano playing days may be over. Ghost piano, especially.

The impacts of the blade are very clear, Jack-O' almost bisected once again, but this time in a slightly more exotic way than how she was created. Baiken makes a request.

The other marshmallow minions charge in, towards Baiken, spears rushing towards her back once again to crash into Baiken's guard, which is likely an effort in futility. They are, however, Gears. This is their job. They will follow her every order.

Jack-O' really doesn't do requests, especially if you crash the piano! Still, this isn't a request response. "I guess this silence is sort of childish, isn't it?" The Gear woman, ankh barely hanging on and clothes rent, speaks. "I didn't want to." Is her response, "Because... I'm not good at it." The Gear admits, "You did ask..." On potentially deaths door, this is the response. Once more she pulls back, hard, as she grasps for Dorpos. It's a ploy, really. Dorpos is thrown to the side. Aside. It's not very friendly looking, but is very sudden. She twirls uppon her head moments later, swirling - and if the kick stricks, Baiken would stagger backwards, possibly.

The minions move if Baiken doesn't, and there's a reason. They're leaping onto her, swarming her, like ants. They bend, twist and wrap chain, rope, and other bits around her, or simply hold on to wrench her body this way and that. Just as she said. It wasn't just humans that were ants. Black and red, that's the important part.

Jack-O', meanwhile, fell onto a seperate bed of Gears, throwing her upwards, higher and higher. Jack-O', on the third, finally leaps upwards. It's very clear what comes next. "I"

The arc is very clear, it's an angle not an arc, and it's pointed down towards Baiken, "WANT!" Her foot leads downwards, burning with chi energy and building with a horrific parabollic speed. "OUT!!!!!"

Baiken there or not, the end result is flashy - and possibly seen from space. It's not a /literal/ nuke as a result of a kick... but it is not entirely /not/ one, either.

Jack-O' may also grow wings, as the Halo swells up, spinning, coating her in a swarm of energy, but that's just filler.

COMBATSYS: Baiken just-defends Jack-O''s I Want Out!

[      \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////           ]
Baiken           0/-------/=======|=======\-------\0    Ghost Lancers
                                  >  ////////////                  ]
                                  |=------\-------\0          Jack-O'

COMBATSYS: Ghost Lancers successfully hits Baiken with Partisan Rush.
- Power hit! -

[          \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////           ]
Baiken           1/------=/=======|=======\-------\1    Ghost Lancers
                                  >  ////////////                  ]
                                  |=------\-------\0          Jack-O'

Baiken is mad. No - Baiken is furious.

She might be fighting well, but no matter how well she fights there always seems to be another Gear. Even Jack-O's blood on her blade isn't going to dissuade her; it's not enough. It's not going to be enough until they're dead and gone, every one of them.

The wires retract to Baiken's sleeve as she snaps her sword to the side, sending some of the blood off it. "You didn't want to," she says, incredulous. "You didn't want /what/? You came to attack, your army of misbegotten monsters at your back! You - you - "

Baiken is so furious she's forgotten how words work. Everything the UN has done, every use of the Gears and their unmatched destructive power - it all builds in her and she can't make it come out as words.

The minions swarm her. Baiken is grappled; she manages to push aside a couple of them, but as before there are just so many. And while she does not usually consider her missing arm a weakness, it means she has no means to push an opponent coming in from her right away from her. When she can be surrounded, that is a vulnerability, and there's enough of them to surround her. Similarly, she doesn't see very well when they come from her left - and they can do both at once.

And yet - and yet - she keeps fighting. Baiken's katana somehow ends back up in its scabbard as she struggles with the Gears, and she manages to grab one with her chain claw, hooking the pointed 'fingers' it has in its shoulder and dragging it to her. Her free hand, her real hand, hefts it upward as she struggles -

Jack-O's mighty kick hits the chained Gear as Baiken uses it as an inhuman shield. She feels the force of the explosion through it. She slides back, further into the crowd of grabbing, stabbing monsters; her hair billows back as if caught in a gale, her extra sleeves snapping like banners. But battered and bruised, Baiken keeps coming.

"You want out?" she roars. Already having one of the Gears hooked by her claw arm, she spins with it, slamming it outward like a heavy, body-shaped flail head. Baiken slams it toward the other Gears repeatedly, trying to crush and smash. "YOU WANT OUT? I'll get you out WHEN I TAKE YOUR HEAD FROM YOUR BODY!"

COMBATSYS: Ghost Lancers blocks Baiken's Himawari.

[          \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////              ]
Baiken           1/----===/=======|=======\===----\1    Ghost Lancers
                                  >  ////////////                  ]
                                  |=------\-------\0          Jack-O'

It's a shame. Maybe Baiken could take up art. No matter how much she paints, it is never enough. The canvas sticken red with her blood, sweat and tears. One day, she would look upon her works and smile.

Why, though, break away from something she's good at? Killing Gears. Jack-O's assault on Baiken is a folly, a failure. Too skillful or lost in her bloodlost - or a combination of instinct, human survival, and the only thing that had ever mattered to her, revenge.

The kick absolutely annihilates the Gear, pushing back Baiken and doing little more - barely even singing her hair. Oh, as the youngest, she has had no surprise in her failure to live up to the other Valentines. Then again, combat isn't quite her purpose. That would be found in death, most likely. Just not here. Just not now. At least, however, the assaults of the Gears behind her ring true. Spikes managing to at least stab into her back somewhat. Of course Baiken keeps coming. Jack-O' sits back, bleeding, shorn, torn apart - but still not enough for Baiken.

"If that's all you wanted." Jack-O' proclaims, taking the mask from her head, spinning it, and tossing it towards Baiken as she takes the flail to the swarms of Gears around her, smashing the Marshmallow like bodies and crushing them with abandon. They find it in time to prevent the assault, little hands and nubby feet keeping her from tossing them aside, breaking them, and wrecking everything from them. It is, at least, not as effective as before.

The mask topples down to the ground before Baiken, damaged, the familiar pumpkin grin on it. "Without it though, I can't last very long. That's what you want, isn't it? A time limit. Something you can look and see until it ends. That's so ... human-like, isn't it?" Sitting back against two or three Gears, is Jack-O' even going to fight, as Baiken clashes with the minions? "How strange, when you already have one. You can't live forever. At least they'll remember how much of them you killed." She pauses, "Ah, that is, the UN. I may have missed a few. I'm not perfect."

Popping a lollipop into her mouth, Jack-O' stands up, "Mphh. Neither. Are. You~. So when this fairy tale's over you're gonna find your night in shining armor... oooh, or are you lookin' for a PRINCE!? Hehehee...." Jack-O' waves a finger from above, "Even if you take my little head, you're still not gonna have a good one on YOUR shoulders! Unless you put mine on it! Do you wanna be a snow white, or a sleepin' beauty?" Jack-O' asks for a second, the organ keys appearing in the air once more, damaged, but present. A bit of music is played, no more than a second or two - before the minions begin to ... fume?

A red haze around all the Gears begins to premeate the atmosphere. Movements become sudden, spastic and threatening. They all begin to charge Baiken once more, as if morale had increased rapidly in a span of a moment. All by the very simple tune. While Baiken is busy fighting that off, Jack-O' would leap from her higher perch on the Gears, grasping for Dorpos once more. "I'll surprise ya' good!" She claims, leaping down towards Baiken, intending to clasp a metallic shell around her - only to leap skywards after with Baiken in tow, spinning, before giving her the people's arm bar, shell and all, as they crash to the ground.

If she even gets her hands on her.

COMBATSYS: Jack-O' successfully hits Baiken with Forever Elysion Driver.

[                \\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////               ]
Baiken           1/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|===----\-------\0    Ghost Lancers
                                  >  //////////                    ]
                                  |-------\-------\0          Jack-O'

COMBATSYS: Baiken interrupts Clock Up from Ghost Lancers with Baku.

[                  \\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////                        ]
Baiken           0/-------/-<<<<<<|====---\-------\0    Ghost Lancers
                                  >  //////////                    ]
                                  |-------\-------\0          Jack-O'

Nothing is enough for Baiken. She could kill Gears until the sun went dark and it would not be enough. She has nothing left to inspire her; she never feels so alive as when she's fighting monsters.

Well. That Man. That keeps her going, too. If she knew of Jack-O's connection, if one existed, beyond leading Gears - well, then she'd be really driven.

Baiken moves to deflect the mask with her hand as if she expected it to be a deadly weapon. She doesn't have to; it lands on the ground in front of her. Baiken's first response is to stomp or kick it, and if she was only fighting Jack-O she assuredly would have, but right now she hasn't the time to spend on petty acts of vandalism if she wants to (say) not get stabbed to death. Instead, in a brief of the fighting, Baiken briefly locks gaze with Jack-O, her single eye to Jack-O's two.

Jack-O asks uncomfortable questions. Baiken rarely thinks about what she wants. Things just are. She fights monsters because she fights monsters. Her experiences in Outrealm - and dead - have perhaps mellowed her a little, but not enough to make her introspective. Given a stimulus, she reacts.

"The world is better without them." Baiken releases the chain of her clawed arm, letting it retract as she prepares to switch weapons. "As for me, who cares? I'm already on my way to hell. A few more sins won't change anything, and the world is better off not remembering me, either. But like hell am I going to die here and now!"

While she speaks, she's doing something with her fingers, some kind of motion. It may not be familiar to Jack-O', precisely, but she may be able to feel the tension of chi around Baiken anyway as she prepares something - and as the musically (?) accelerated gears swarm her, she releases it.

Thrusting her hand out palm-first, Baiken roars, "BAKU!" as a symbol forms in front of her; a great glyph in pink and red. She catches a cluster of Gears with it, checking their advance as she seals some of their power, blasting them backwards as well. If that was all she needed to do, it would have been an impressive act.

But what serves for lesser Gears does nothing to stop Jack-O', who passes through the glyph as it starts to fade. The metallic shell clangs shut around Baiken as she yells, and she is unable to protect herself as she goes up, spinning wildly in ways she can't slow down or check before being smashed to the ground. With Jack-O' wrestling her, too, something Baiken is less experienced with than a good old-fashioned swordfight. At least she had her blade in its scabbard - she might have dropped it otherwise!

Releasing Baiken, kicking back away, Jack-O' doesn't think too hard into what was said. "Oooooh, how scaaary, you're going to hell, so you may as well do whatever~! We've got a rebel~! Heheheeeee. Just 'cause! Get it... 'cause your cause is all just! Awww, relax! No one's gotta die today! If I'm not gonna die, and you aren't, lets shake and make up!"

Rolling backwards on Dorpos, Jack-O's arms are clasped together over each other. All the while, the great burning glyph in pink and red obliterates a cluster of Gears, the ghost Gears tossing them away and causing them to flail with odd sounds being emitted. Far too cute than they should be. Likely Jack-O's influence, in all. Of course, there's not all taunts to be made.

"I never even introduced myself, did I? Ari-... ah, no, that's not quite it, is it?" Jack-O' pauses, a finger to her mouth, a hand to her head. "Jack-O' Valentine. I believe ti would be better if you had a goal in your life." Jack-O' remarks, "It would make the remaining years of it worth more... ahhh, mm. I remember... when I was your age. Wasn't I?" What an odd statement, but barely noticable. "I had a goal with someone. Was it ... ... ... Gears?" The woman remarks, tilting her head to the side, "I guess I may not have. I'm sorry, it looks like my memory isn't as good as I remembered it. Oh, but there were three of us! Fr... and a man, haaah." The Gear, inhuman, must be crashing before Baiken. What purpose, or use, does a Gear have for failing memory? The damage it took must have been critical.

"What a terrible lecture that was, wasn't it?" For the second time, Jack-O' seems to gain a resurgence of energy, hands stretching after being tossed about. Or was it the third? Oh! It really must have taken a while. "You're tired. Aren't you? Unforutnately only human. That was what we were made to overcome, after all."

Numbers appear over the multitude of Gears present. Some are higher than others.

"I hope you enjoy our new time-limit. I've given you another number to abide by - one that you may find interest in." To make matters worse, the clock isn't the same for each in speed.

With a wave of her hand, the remaining Gears behind her start to fire - a broadside from both ends. Those about Jack-O' fire explosives, bombs spread out about Baiken's position. Those behind Baiken, those washed away by the surge of energy, charge at her - but are quite slow now. Did it already wear off? Their charge though is inspired, javelin's pointy spears thrown with abandon towards Baiken's position. Beaten, crushed, slashed - as long as the Gears can move, it doesn't matter the damage done.

Another advantage over humanity.

COMBATSYS: Ghost Lancers successfully hits Baiken with Trident Barrage EX.

[                       \\\\\\\  < >  ///////                       ]
Baiken           1/------</<<<<<<<|=------\-------\0    Ghost Lancers
                                  >  ///////////                   ]
                                  |-------\-------\0          Jack-O'

COMBATSYS: Jack-O' successfully hits Baiken with Spectral Artillery.
? Strange Hit! ?

[                          \\\\  < >  ///////                       ]
Baiken           1/----<<</<<<<<<<|=------\-------\0    Ghost Lancers
                                  >  ////////////                  ]
                                  |=------\-------\0          Jack-O'

Baiken doesn't appreciate being mocked, but then again, who does? She lets it roll off her back... well, no. She makes an attempt at it, but the expression on her face is damn near murderous. More murderous. It's actually kind of hard to differentiate from the way it used to be.

"I'll remember that name." Not that she'll ever use it. The rest of it, well - Baiken is older than she looks, certainly older than this Gear, and so she puts it aside. She doesn't know what Jack-O is babbling about. It doesn't fit with anything she /does/ know. At least not yet. No bells are yet rung.

Except her head. Baiken /is/ tired. It's been a long time since she's fought like this; against so many, an endless flood of monsters. The closest was when she was prevented from killing the Gears in the UN base - but they barely fought back, some of them. They couldn't; she got them before they were active. It was nothing like this. Nothing like the crazy stunts Jack-O is pulling up here.

Her eye flicks from Gear to Gear as she takes stock of the numbers and their shifting. There's too many of them to keep straight, especially if they don't count down together; groups she can roughly determine, but not in quantity, and not when things shift...

Baiken throws herself toward Jack-O. A javelin strikes her in the back of her shoulder, and she stumbles; bombs detonate around her. One threatens to send her flying, but she leaps at the last moment, being launched forward in a barely controllable jump instead.

Baiken hits the ground and /runs/. She runs so fast she blurs, drawing her sword as she passes Jack-O at a speed beyond easy comprehension and sheathing it as she comes to a stumbling stop past her. She clicks the sword back in its scabbard, and it takes until then for Jack-O to realize if she's cut (or not) by the speed of Baiken's passing.

But then she slumps. The javelin is still sticking out of her back, and there is another one there now, a lucky toss. She falls to one knee. "Damn..." She shouldn't have taken them as lightly as all that to focus on their master. She can /feel/ herself bleeding, the weakness coming into her arm.

It's not pleasant.

COMBATSYS: Baiken can no longer fight.

                                  >  ///////                       ]
                                  |=------\-------\0    Ghost Lancers
                                  >  ////////////                  ]
                                  |=------\-------\0          Jack-O'

COMBATSYS: Jack-O' blocks Baiken's Tate Shunmaku.

                                  >  ///////                       ]
                                  |=------\-------\0    Ghost Lancers
                                  >  ////////                      ]
                                  |====---\-------\0          Jack-O'

Older than the Gear, certainly. Yet one of the three responsible for the Gears themselves, the hands of That Man, only quarter remembers, if that, the cause of Baiken's pain. One of the few that could understand - or provide information - if only it could be brought to bubble up to the top. It couldn't, however. Too imperfect. Too broken. Too smashed together. However Jack-O' was created, it was not to be peak performance. There was a purpose beyond leveling cities, capturing territory, etc.

Not that Jack-O' is fully willing to share that with anyone.

"Awww, that's sweet of you~! Is that it, that's a trick isn't it? I didn't get one back and I sure won't, will I? Hehehe.... now that's really not nice~." Jack-O' chides, sitting in the swarm. They may work off their own, but Jack-O's a command Gear that /couldn't/. Even now, while she shows off, they are hardly capable compared to the other swarms. Yet - it's how she would use them, isn't it? "Tick tock tick tock~! Oh, look what'll happen if you don't hurry!" One of the Gears suddenly, and without a reason, just explodes. There is no cause, no explanation, no reason. Except that number. Hit. /Zero/. Baiken throws herself forwards, towards the ground, a blur, as the sword is pulled free. "Eeeeh!? Aren't you supposed to be tired you ha-" The cut is made, the sword clicking in the hilt. It's made clear in that moment in three sounds. The sound of fabric and flesh rending, the sound of the air whistling, the sound of a heavy CLANK as the blade impacts the metal of the chain that Jack-O' hastily put to her side. The blade may cut through everything else, but it stops right at the edge of cleaving deep into the Gear, Dorpos' chain ringing with the sound of metal on metal.

"Pheeeeew... nearly got what you wanted~. That'd be a waaaaaste, it's too early!" Blood seeps from the wound, but Gear doesn't seem to notice - except in the way she's staggering. Dorpos seems to be doing a lot of the heavy lifting now, somehow holding her up as he floats, instead of the reverse. The ball familiar, chained to Jack-O', is apparently of his own mind.

"Haaah... I guess that's it, huh?" Jack-O' sighed, shrugging, "Won't die, huh?" The Gear swarm slowly congregates around Baiken. The numbers on their head ticking, slowly now, towards 0. All of them at the same rate.

"I believe this is goodbye then, isn't it, Miss?"

"I'm sure you have somethings you still want to do."

"I should give you some parting words, at least. Are you religious? Ah, you mentioned hell..."

The theoretial 0 never comes, the Gear's, and the house, all disappearing with the push of a single button - vanishing into thin air, almost magically. The cause, of course, is Jack-O', the ghost Organ flickering in the air before her. "Oh, I pressed the wrong button. I don't believe in coincidences, as the odds of me making such a mistake are a million to one... but perhaps the damage you've done threw off my motor control. You're really a trouble-maker. I guess there's a future for you, still?" Jack-O' remarks, the halo above her burning. "Oh... my time's almost up." The mask is fished from the ground, refit, "There. Good as new!" It's scarred, almost cleaved. It still works. "Barely enough energy myself... but if I hide and let them all do it..."

"OH! I'm late, I'M LATE!" Grasping Dorpos and shooting skywards, Jack-O' is halfway in the air when she forgets, "OH! That lady is still alive! Go BAAAaaaaacc--"

Jack-O' will not find Baiken again, likely. Especially in the state that she is in.

COMBATSYS: Jack-O' has left the fight here.

                                  >  ///////                       ]
                                  |=------\-------\0    Ghost Lancers

COMBATSYS: Ghost Lancers has ended the fight here.

Log created on 17:03:47 11/29/2017 by Baiken, and last modified on 21:50:42 11/30/2017.