Description: Even the dead have a bone to pick with the United Nations. Having faked his death, Alma has snuck back to Metro City, with the intention of finding out the truth behind the United Nations. Unfortunately for him, he should know better than to take the subway at night. A mercenary in employment with the United Nations, and specifically the Illuminati, has followed the trail of the Sacred Order soldier. And he may be willing to share some answers with Alma, as a parting gift before sending Alma to the underworld.
A lone figure rides an otherwise empty subway car through the dark tunnels beneath Metro City. His face is obscured by the hood of an earth-toned jacket, though the light reveals no one to see it. The still and cool air whistles by the speeding train, making its way along a preprogrammed express route: to the highly defended United Nations Headquarters.
Or at least it is highly defended from surface assault. Alma Towazu is no master of deception, and though he has faced enemies in the field as a secret agent of the Sacred Order, he is not a military tactician. Nevertheless, the psychic student of Rose and internationally renowned painter is on his own, presumed dead by his enemies and cut off from his allies. He has elected to preserve the illusion of his death at Urien's hands so as to ambush the Illuminati and catch them unawares, maximizing his advantage against his formidable foe. It's thus likely that anyone other than Rose, Menat, Noel, and Rei presumes him dead too. If he is defeated here, the Sacred Order will never know otherwise.
The subway is closed at night, of course, but short-range teleportation through secured doors made quick work of any attempts to seal it off. Alma is not a technical wizard, but he possesses some of the advanced gear that the Sacred Order equips its most talented members with, and it was not difficult using one of their hacking extensions to determine how to bring this subway car online and auto-pilot it to his destination. If he is able to arrive undetected -- if this subway gambit succeeds -- Alma will have one chance to break in, join the fight against the Illuminati, break their hold upon the United Nations and the Sacred Order, presumably interrupt whoever is commanding the Gear attacking Japan, and potentially save the world.
He just has to get there first.
Metro has been a bit quiet in many a places. The subway itself has seemed less traffic and during the late hours like right now very few people seem to be braving the underground. That is why Alma has peace and quiet and a time to plan. At least that is what he thinks is the case.
The car he rides on is quiet aside from the nose of the train moving through the subway. No talking, no other people even from the looks of it. That is until it hits a point where the lights dim and the car goes dark for all of a few moments. The lights soon come back on and Alma is no longer alone.
Sitting further down on the car on the opposite side is a well dressed man in a suit and wearing rose tinted glasses. He says nothing, but his glove hands idly shuffle a deck of cards. It probably is a good thing Alma has those psychic powers because whoever this man is it is screaming 'danger' to his senses right now.
"Mr. Towazu. For a dead man you seem to be doing rather well for yourself." His faked death was a good ruse, but it seems somehow some way someone found out about it. Be it this man himself or another person remains to be seen. "Where are you going at such a late hour? Should you perhaps be somewhere more safe?"
Alma furrows his brow and grimaces faintly the moment that the lights cut out. He sinks low and raises his hands, sharpening his senses in an attempt to ward off any strike under cover of darkness. When the attack does not come and the lights return, Alma turns his gaze toward the new arrival and hesitates only a moment before lowering his hood, revealing his bright-hued hair and feminine face.
"You have me at an advantage, sir," Alma murmurs in response. "May I inquire as to your name?" His tone is mild, even relaxed, but the intense glint in his staring eyes is anything but. His gaze drifts to the cards in the strange man's lap as the interloper interrogates him.
"My destination is mine alone to know," he responds politely but firmly, "and there is nowhere I must be more than there." The unflinching conviction in the young man's eyes suggests he will not be dissuaded. But the psychic also does not seem eager to attack. If there is any way that he can avoid wasting his energies here, or risking defeat prematurely, he will take it.
"Do you ... like games, sir?"
This gentleman has quite the poker face. His aura does not reveal much other than an absolute readiness for violence. But Alma cannot assume anything about the loyalties of the Illuminati. Is this man a devoted follower of Urien? Or can he be reasoned with?
The figure that shares the car with Alma seems relaxed and not ready to attack. At least if he is he is very good at bluffing and make it look like he is just going to remain where he sits. "Oh I am no one of interest. Just a simple old man taking the train to the same destination as you."
He is a hard read. Even with the powers Alma wields it is hard to fully figure out the intentions of the man. It is a safe assumption he would affliated with the Illuminati as there are few other organizations that could know Alma wasn't truly dead. "Games? I do enjoy certain ones. Are you aware five out of six people enjoy Russian Roulette?"
With the question comes a casual flick of the wrist. A card sailing across the subway car and embedding itself into the steel right next to Alma's head. It is no ordinary playing card upon closer inspection which should be no surprise given how it cut through metal with no problem. "What are your full intentions? Do you wish to gamble your life away or do you wish to enlighten a simple old man?"
Alma exhales slowly the moment after the thrown card embeds itself next to him. He does not flinch, does not blink, does not show fear. But inwardly he wonders if he could have dodged that attack, even with all his attention on the old man now, had it been directed at his head. He must think carefully.
"I intend to destroy the Illuminati by defeating their leadership, and to liberate the United Nations of their sinister influence."
Either Alma must defeat this man to progress or Alma must convince him to stay his hand. It is unlikely the noble psychic is so gifted at lying as to trick this gambler. Besides, his intentions should not be surprising. The best bet seems to him to be simply telling the truth.
"If you stand in my way," he continues, "I must defeat you utterly. If you are a leader within the Illuminati, I must do the same. But if you are not one of their leaders and you do not stand against me, we need not fight."
He pauses a moment.
"I have answered your questions, sir. Now please answer one of mine: Do you intend to fight on behalf of the Illuminati, no matter what?"
There are a few moments of silence. Oswald seems more than intent on listening to what Alma has to say and it is hard to tell if he is really listening to what the younger man has to say. He carefully draws another card and holds it up. The Ace of hearts lightly gets twirled between his fingers as he remains quiet.
"I am a mercenary, Mr. Towazu." The silence is finally broken and he even looks towards the younger man for the first time. His expression blank as he seems to look over Alma. "I am paid to do a job. Be it Illuminati or even your own Sacred Order." he explains. "I was paid to delay you and if need be kill you. I believe it is up to you if you wish to remain here or try to get through me."
That is when a faint smile forms. "You amuse me. I rather not kill you unless I have to. The battle has already begun and your chance to help those that attack the Illuminati is thin. Perhaps you should remain here and rethink your actions and live another day."
A mercenary. Then--
"Allow me to make a counteroffer."
Alma Towazu, Ace of Hearts, lifts a hand, imploring with dignity.
"Leave me to my quest and I will grant you an object of great worth, exceeding what you have been paid by my adversaries."
The battle has already begun indeed. Alma cannot afford to be delayed, to be injured, or to be defeated. He must arrive in time to reinforce whoever has already attacked. But what could Alma possibly offer this man? What wealth does he possess to overshadow that of the Illuminati.
He speaks deliberately, with absolute sincerity.
"--will paint you."
The words hang in the chill air for a moment.
"It will be a work infused with all my passion and determination," he continues with a hushed and raw intensity. "It will speak to the entangling of our spirits in this moment. It will shake the art world. This I vow--"
His grandiose promise is delivered with such quiet confidence that it almost seems possible, his one absurd trump card.
"--if you will release me."
The offer is made and it is hard to tell if Oswald is even entertaining it. The only movements are the idle shuffling of the deck of cards in his hands. Is he just stalling longer to make it hard for Alma to reach his destination.
"I am a mercenary, but you must understand one thing. I do have a code I uphold. I do not betray my employer unless they do it first." He explains and slowly he rises from the seat and a hand reaches up to idly adjust his tie.
"My job is to keep you from the battle that is currently happening or to kill you. Once it is done I have no more loyalty. I cannot accept your offer because it breaks my code."
It is a bit of a twisted sense of honor. That same one that even got him involved with the Illuminati to begin with. And after a few moments of thought he speaks up once more. "Tell me. Do you feel you can truly beat Urien right now?" He keeps a straight face, but Alma can perhaps sense a bit of curiousity from the old man. "My contact is up once you are kept away from the battle. From then on I can accept any form of contract. Even one involving me helping you defeated Urien at a later time if you believe you have a chance."
So be it.
"It is irrelevant whether or not I can beat Urien."
Alma's upraised hand lowers slowly.
"What matters is that I must."
He is possessed of a passion to do the impossible. Defeated once before, having little time to grow, still he must plunge in while he has breath in his body and light in his eyes. For another person, such an action would be ridiculous, potentially suicidal. For Alma, it is simply the obvious choice.
His visage is fearless. But what is fearlessness to others is a more reasonable fear to Alma: not that he will die, but that he will compromise his character and so cease to be. To devote himself always to creating a more meaningful world, richer with the color of vibrant and striving auras, to preserving and valuing and protecting that world--
"There can be no contract between us, sir."
That is not a gamble with life. It is living.
The moment he speaks that challenge, fire leaps from Alma's fingertips. His hand, still half-raised, does not have to travel far to sweep out, and a dart of Soul Power bursts forth, aiming to catch the mercenary with a speed rivalling the card that was flung Alma's way before.
COMBATSYS: Alma has started a fight here.
COMBATSYS: Oswald has joined the fight here.
[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > //////////////////////////////]
Alma 0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0 Oswald
COMBATSYS: Alma successfully hits Oswald with Sacred Wave.
- Power hit! -
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > ///////////////////////// ]
Alma 0/-------/------=|=------\-------\0 Oswald
"Very well." Is the reply. There is no sound of disappointment. In the end it does not effect his bank account and he was already prepared to have a fight with the young man. Alma faked his death once. It would be no surprise this time his time has run out.
The cards disappear into the sleeve of Oswald and he shifts his weight as he looks to quickly avoid the release of energy. It just seems to be faster than he anticipated and the energy slams into his shoulder and staggers the lanky old man back several steps before he regains his footing.
"Do understand I do not hate you. I also will no mourn you if you die here." He remains at a distance for now and seems to just observe Alma for the time being. He has felt the wratch of the psychic once so he seems intent on looking for an opening now.
COMBATSYS: Oswald focuses on his next action.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > ///////////////////////// ]
Alma 0/-------/------=|=------\-------\0 Oswald
Alma's eyes flash as he lunges forward in pursuit of his dart of flame, attempting to act at the perfect moment: leaving enough time to know if his first strike will impact, but leaving no breathing room after. His form blurs, and not only with speed. The psychic's image flickers through space, cutting corners on the laws of physics, minor teleportations quickening his pace and obscuring the swiftness of his advance.
"That will not be necessary!"
Alma would normally charge in with all of his strength, but he cannot afford to be reckless at this juncture. He knows nothing of his opponent's true abilities. Thus he instead stops right in front of Oswald and, adopting a poised and wary stance, limbs still blurring, unleashes a flurry of palm strikes, weaving low to aim two at the gambler's gut and two high at the point of his chin.
COMBATSYS: Oswald counters Spring Shower from Alma with King.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > //////////////////////// ]
Alma 0/-------/----===|===----\-------\0 Oswald
Oswald was thrown off his guard at first, but but the time Alma is dashing in he seems to have regained his composure and is ready for whatever the younger fighter may have. Many opponent may be thrown off by the quick movements and even the use of teleportation to where Alma's strike would easily land, but Oswald is far from the regular low level mercenary.
He doesn't flinch and he remains focused on Alma when the young man comes in. That first strike comes in towards his gut, but a flick of the wrist produces a card from Oswald's sleeve and he turns it about. The king of hearts. The Suicide King.
Alma's strike hits the card itself as Oswald just seems to fade away. Then there is the feeling in Alma's left flank of being cut by a knife. One that leaves a wound that is hard to ignore as Oswald starts not too far behind Alma. A psychic the old man may not be, but he is quickly showing he is not all just talk and presentation. He is dangerous and his talk of killing Alma may very well happen if the young fighter is not careful.
Alma flinches as a wound suddenly manifests upon his side. He halts his assault, finding himself now attacking a shadow in any case. He didn't anticipate such an unusual technique, but he's not surprised to find his opponent using subtle tricks like these. It's unclear what the limit of his adversary's abilities are, but if he can keep up this speed, it may be possible to overwhelm his wily opponent before too many traps are laid.
Rounding on where Oswald seems to be reappearing, Alma lunges in again with determination, his hand extending and erupting in a plume of rose pink flame, the same light glittering in his eyes as his spirit rises. That fire forms a veritable lance with which Alma aims to pierce through the mercenary's defenses and deceptions, the psychic wielding his will as a weapon.
Alma isn't ready to use his more advanced techniques yet, not until his fighting spirit has risen to a fever pitch. But if he can weaken the old man's fighting spirit with blows like these, Alma may be able to seize the advantage when the time comes, and with it a decisive victory!
COMBATSYS: Oswald fails to reflect Self Expression from Alma with Heart.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > ////////////////// ]
Alma 0/-------/--=====|=====--\-------\0 Oswald
Oswald seems to quickly shift back into a stance where he seems ready for Alma to come at him now. His hands moving quickly as if trying to throw off the younger fighter and make him wonder where the next attack may happen. To win or lose is not the worry for him. To properly distract Alma is what he was paid to do. Of course defeating Alma would be the easiest way to resolve this confrontation. It is also easier said than done.
Despite the gash at his side Alma seems more than quick to continue his attack. His flames erupting and coming right for the older fighter who seems to be planning something.
It seems though that Alma was quicker than anticipated and Oswald is sent stumbling back quickly again. This time having to catch himself on one of the rails of the subway car before quickly straightening back up. "Hmm. Impressive, but too weak. You should have stayed dead Mr. Towazu."
"I beg to differ," Alma sternly replies. His features remain composed, but his preternaturally shining eyes glare after his withdrawing opponent. This time, despite his confident statement, the psychic does not approach.
His attack was able to break through, but the elder mercenary remains calm, evidently not easily shaken by psychic assaults or otherwise. If Alma is going to defeat this opponent, conviction will not be enough. He must summon more power, just as the man says.
Thus, Alma breathes deeply, the light in his eyes flaring up like a flame before a bellows. Cultivating a spirit heightened by the high-stakes battle, tending that fire, he prepares himself to unleash an assault that will break this gambler's poker face.
COMBATSYS: Alma gathers his will.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > ////////////////// ]
Alma 1/-----==/=======|=====--\-------\0 Oswald
"Do you now. How quaint." He says and there is a dark chuckle. He has dealt with many strange fighters over the years. Many he has bested, but he knows defeat as well. A few flashy moves isn't going to intimidate him.
He keeps himself focused on Alma, but he doesn't look to move in to strike himself. He seems to sizing up the situation and thinking of what to do next. That or he is just further stalling things which might just annoy Alma further since he is in such a rush.
"Does the Illuminati scare you so?" He asks and he may just be buying time to recover and reassess the situation. Maybe he underestimated his opponent and wants to rethink what to do. "Do not worry. Men like Urien often defeat themselves. I have worked for and killed many men like him. I think you have other people to worry about. Unknown threats."
COMBATSYS: Oswald gains composure.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > ////////////////////// ]
Alma 1/-----==/=======|=======\-------\1 Oswald
It seems that the mercenary would prefer to waste Alma's time rather than take any unnecessary risks. For now, that's fine: the subway train continues on to its destination. But soon enough it will arrive, and at that point, any time spent here is lost. Moreover, too much of a commotion at the station near the United Nations might attract undue attention. That is something the psychic cannot afford.
"Even so, I must oppose him."
Alma doesn't disagree with the enigmatic gambler's assessment. But the question for him is moral, not strategic. Even if Urien's downfall is inevitable, Alma is obligated to do his utmost to be involved.
"Unknown threats ..."
Alma seems to lower his guard for a moment as he relaxes his body. But this is either a feint or incidental to his next technique. Internalizing his gathered spirit, hands free of flame, he sweeps in and reaches out aiming to touch Oswald's hand before he can draw a card. Should Alma succeed, he will shift his weight as though attempting a hip throw. He will barely touch Oswald, but the contact may allow telekinesis -- which Alma can only perform at very close range -- to improbably shift the mercenary off his feet and allow Alma to easily hurl him to the ground.
"What do you mean!?"
COMBATSYS: Oswald blocks Alma's Light Touch.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > //////////////////// ]
Alma 1/----===/=======|=======\=------\1 Oswald
"So you chose folly as well. Not too much difference between you and Urien." He sounds amused when he speaks and it isn't far from the truth. People feel justified in actions and even Oswald can be caught up in that despite doing his best not to care. Money makes it hard not to take sides at times and perhaps one day his greed will be the end of him.
Alma comes in close once more and he looks to reach and deliver a simple touch on Oswald. While his touch remains true his intent to try and toss the mercenary doesn't result in what he had hoped for. Oswald keeps his footing on the ground and the tug to flip him about is felt, but he is not thrown like Alma would have hoped.
It also leaves Alma in close so Oswald can lash out with a gloved hand. A card slipping out from his sleeve as he looks to drag it across Alma's torso again and leave another deep wound.
COMBATSYS: Alma interrupts Medium Strike from Oswald with Leap of Faith EX.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > ////////////// ]
Alma 0/-------/----===|=======\====---\1 Oswald
It's time. Alma, brimming with Soul Power, has positioned himself as best as he is able. The psychic is unable to fling his experienced opponent to the ground, the man's will too strong and stance too sure. But the fey young man is undeterred. Rather than force the issue, he marshals his energies and awaits the counterattack.
"It is not folly--"
He leaps. Forward, straight toward Oswald. This should mean that the gambler need only tighten his arm to slash deep into Alma's body. Yet the psychic's form flickers and fades the moment before contact. With his passion kindled, the true extent of Alma's potential may be revealed.
"It is faith!"
Body blazing with spiritual fire of cherry-blossom pink and royal purple, Alma reappears behind Oswald. This is no mere flicker: this is full fledged teleportation. Moreover, he has not simply repositioned. He rotated himself so that he now faces the opposite direction as when he leaped, meaning that he faces toward Oswald's back--
--and thus, still hurtling at the same speed as before, when he thrusts out his palm, the point-blank blast catches the mercenary in a vulnerable moment. It seems the young hero had an ace up his sleeve.
It seems Oswald was underestimating his opponent. Truth be told he went in knowing a few details, but little about the fighting ability of of Alma. Oswald has experience and has dealt with many a fight. Even so some can surprise him and this is one of those cases.
Alma moves quickly and his strike lands true. Perhaps the smallest of cut is made with the strike Oswald looked to deliver but there is no denying that Alma moved in a way it benefitted him. That palm strike hits the back of the older fighter then he is blasted away to smack hard into the side of the subway car and he crumbles.
"Faith in what? You think yourself so holy, but are you better than the monsters you fight?" Oswald is slowed and Alma can see that, but to think the man subdued would be a mistake and when Oswald flicks a card upwards Alma has a few moments to wonder if it is going to come straight at him or at another angle as it twirls then zips right at the younger fighter.
COMBATSYS: Oswald successfully hits Alma with Queen.
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > ///////////// ]
Alma 0/-------/=======|=======\=====--\1 Oswald
Alma has no time to reply as the card zips close. He had tracked the speed of Oswald's thrown card before and knows that neither his reflexes nor intuition, even enhanced in the flow of battle, may be sufficient to anticipate the gambler's attacks. The movement of the card is unpredictable, but Alma must commit to a defensive maneuver in advance. There's nothing for it: Alma must guess.
He guesses wrong. Thinking that the card will come straight for him, the young man leaps to the side and is caught directly in the torso, a flash of red emerging as blood flies. Alma's widen, his otherwise impressive composure shaken as he falls to the floor of the train, only by instinct managing to roll away from a possible follow-up attack. He rises to one knee with a hand gripping at the thin but cruel cut to his body. It is not the pain that is shocking so much as the sheer force of the seemingly small weapon. Appearances are deceptive, and none more so than those of Oswald's instrument of choice.
"I believe ... that there is justice in this world, and that it can be realized if the world's peace is protected." Alma is the type to give a speech about such things, as Oswald would be happy to know under the circumstances (if he does not already). But Alma can feel the train beginning to slow as it enters the station he previously designated, the rails beneath obnoxiously screeching. "I myself need not be better. I may be unworthy of my purpose. But that purpose--"
His adversary has controlled his movements for a moment, but Alma does not hesitate to gather more power. He rushes in once more, just a spark of power barely detectable upon his right hand's fingertips. He feints with a left palm strike to Oswald's body, almost sliding in with the attack, and then lashes up to attempt to tag the mercenary on the side of the neck with his right hand. Despite its size, the spark is the manifestation of a surprisingly potent shock to the mind.
Not so different, in a way, from Oswald's own weapon.
COMBATSYS: Oswald reflects Glimmer of Hope from Alma with Four Suits.
[ \\\\\\\\\ < > ///////////// ]
Alma 1/---====/=======|====---\-------\0 Oswald
The card strikes true and Oswald only gives a bit of a smirk. Maybe if anything it does slow Alma down enough to make him question if fighting the older man was a good idea. His speech says otherwise though. "I see...."
He takes a step forward and his gaze remains focused on Alma. "I could never find myself being righteous to a cause. There is no money in it." He says and he shifts his weight and seems prepared for whatever Alma has planned.
And as that hand reaches to tag Oswald on the neck, the elder fighter shifts and a card appears in each hand as he makes a bit of a circular motion.
It is strange in the way it doesn't have its own sort of energy that many fighters may use to deflect the strike, but yet Alma's fingers brush a card and he finds his own attack surging back through him instead. "Your power is interesting, Mr. Towazu, but you are unrefined. Even if you defeat me you are not ready for Urien."
Alma cries out in agony as his mental assault is turned against him. Unprepared for the bizarre counterattack, his opponent wielding a power heretofore unseen, the psychic staggers back. Only years of training with his teacher protect him, kicking in almost immediately as he clears his mind, allowing the rampaging energy to pass through him and leave his fundamental will to fight intact. The young man is thus able to keep his feet, but not without much stumbling back. By that time, the train they are on has ground to a halt.
"If that is so--"
Even if Alma is not better--
"I will become ready!"
His purpose rises above!
The atmosphere changes, growing heavier, exerting a suffocating pressure upon Oswald as Alma's eyes become fields of light, brighter than ever before. He trembles as though his body is a vessel unworthy of his spirit. Pushing himself to the limit, the psychic shivers violently-- and vanishes one more time, leaving only glimmers in his wake.
There are few clues in the ensuing silence as to where Alma has gone. Could he have simply fled? Is the would-be champion of justice capable of such a cunning ruse? He is not lunging from behind or flanking from the side.
He shouts forcefully the moment that he strikes, falling from above. It was an incredible dangerous maneuver. Inches off and Alma might have transposed himself through the roof of the subway car, shearing himself in half. Instead, he leaves himself just enough room to drop down upon his adversary, aiming shining fingertips -- an infinitely magnified version of the technique from before -- toward the crown of Oswald's head. Contact would be akin to a hammer upon the mind, shattering will and scattering thoughts, a kind of momentary purification of a stubbornly unrighteous man.
COMBATSYS: Alma successfully hits Oswald with Absolution EX.
- Power hit! -
[ \\\\\\\\\\ < > /// ]
Alma 0/-------/------=|====---\-------\0 Oswald
It was nothing Oswald would have expected. An aura that seems to grow stronger from Alma and make even a trained fighter like Oswald feel a bit of hesitation. He says nothing and looks to bring up a arm to stop the incoming hand aimed at the head of the elder fighter.
It is a second too slow and Alma's blow is delivered. An assualt on the mind that even makes Oswald lose his concentration and that poker face is dropped. It is obviously him feeling pain as the release of energy runs through his body and tries to outright take down Oswald. There is some resistance. he will not go down.
"I.....have done my job. You are too late." Is he telling a lie? It is hard to tell. Even worse he is somehow able to laugh at the situation. Alma has the advantage, but yet the elder fighter seems defiant. "Mr. Towazu. We will meet again. Unless your righteous demeanor kills you first."
There is a strange moment. Oswald almost seems to become an explosion of cards that all aim to embed themselves in Alma, but even if the psychic is able to avoid them he finds Oswald is gone. Not even his powers seem to detect where the man has gone. He has found victory perhaps, but it may be too late.
COMBATSYS: Oswald can no longer fight.
[ \\\\\\\\\\ <
COMBATSYS: Alma blocks Oswald's Royal Flush.
[ \\\\\\ <
Alma flips back, kicking off the air itself to float gently down to the ground, and looks up, the blazing light at last having faded from his eyes. The psychic's power is expended. This all-out battle has consumed all the spirit he could summon. Piercing each other's defenses again and again, in the end it is Alma's overwhelming passion, more so than his tactical repositionings, that has allowed him to narrowly surpass Oswald's sophisticated technique.
"Who are you?"
Alma asks again, more forcefully now, as his adversary shows himself to be on his last legs. But the only response will be a burst of cards like a sharp and scattering flock of birds. The beautiful youth covers himself, crossing his arms before him, but the sharp edges still shear at his limbs, ripping at his dark clothes. When he at last is able to lower his guard, Oswald and the cards are gone.
"Again, you say..."
Typically, Alma is eager to encounter any intruging aura again. This time, though, uncharacteristically, Alma reflects that he wouldn't be unhappy if he never met this strange man again.
With a pleasant *ding*, the subway car doors open. Alma looks towards them, takes a deep breath, and finds that his body has held together. He must recover while he moves. There is no time to rest or to reflect any further. Without thinking twice, he rushes out, hoping to make up whatever time has been lost by Oswald's machinations.
Then again, if that dangerous man were willing to sit for a painting, and expose his subtle aura to view ... yes, perhaps Alma wouldn't mind meeting again.
COMBATSYS: Alma has ended the fight here.
Log created on 21:20:29 12/02/2017 by Oswald, and last modified on 01:41:22 12/03/2017.