Renka - Fox Tale #2 - Points of Difference

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Description: Corporal Renka Kaneko follows up on a tip that leads her to the infamous One Man Army of the Ikari Warriors. The NOL files malign the mercenaries as savage terrorists. But while Colonel Jones may be a Bubble Gum Bully, nothing about the One Man Army or the Silent Soldier that comes to his rescue quite matches up with the information she was given...

The Ikari Warriors.

Once they were considered one of the foremost allies of justice, and those who were called in to get the job done when it couldn't be done through 'normal' means. They were the guys who were bad enough to rescue a President, liberate villages, and take down seedy shadow organizations. For a fair price that is.

However, once Novus Orbis Librarium decided to go full ham and announce themselves as an International Peacekeeping Organization that doesn't answer to any one country.. Things for the Ikaris have gone steadily down hill. The once closeknit group is scattered, laying in hiding while they try to recoop from the blow that NOL decided to deal to them.

Sitting in a booth at one of Sunshine City's shadiest and dingiest bars, Ralf Jones takes a long drink from a massive bottle of what one would assume to be whisky. Of course, the smell coming off of it actually could mean its jet fuel. Yet, Ralf doesn't pay it any mind. It could be jet fuel for all he cares. Just as long as it kills the voices in his head, and allows him to get at least a couple of hours of sleep before he restarts the process all over again.

With no contact whatsoever from the other Ikaris in quite some time, and a seemingly hefty bar tab that he's not bothered to pay yet. It seems that Ralf Jones is on the verge of just calling it all quits.

The whims of fate dealt the Ikari a bad hand. It was their commander, Heidern, who first ran afoul of the global para-military organization as he stumbled onto something no one was ever meant to know. The fallout of that encounter continues to haunt the Ikari Warriors to this day as a spiteful high ranking member of the Novus Orbis Librarium got all known members added to the International Watchlist and Bounty Board. Getting peace under such circumstances would perpetually be something of a challenge.

Lance Corporal Renka Kaneko knew nothing of such things. All she knew was what had been posted - that the Ikari Warriors were trouble makers and terrorists, information she had been briefed on when issued a Special Assignment to follow up on a hot tip. It wasn't long ago that her duties rarely got more complicated than standing around on guard duty at whatever NOL base she was assigned to month to month. But a harrowing, narrow defense against the anti-NOL menace known only as Hakumen, the fairly new NOL soldier found herself receiving a rapid promotion and reassignment.

Already on Temporary Assignment to the States, she was the perfect fit to be dispatched. After all, if she could handle the 'White Mask', surely she could handle some recalcitrant rogue mercenary.

The bar exists beneath a rundown looking commercial building in the rough edge of Sunshine City. The half-broken neon sign outside exists at the top of the stone stairwell that one must descend to reach the entryway below, bathing damp pavement in a garish crimson glow.

The door opens, allowing a cool Southern California Winter draft to flow into the bar, swirling some of the thick haze of smoke that hovers against the low ceiling as a small figure steps inside, allowing the door to swing closed behind her with a soft thud. Her silhouette immediately sets her apart from the normally accepted crowd of the rough and tumble urban bar as a pair of pointed ears stick up over her head. She steps forward into the cone of light afforded by a single overhead dangling bulb that hasn't been broken yet tonight and more of her becomes visible - a white sleeveless collared top with a loose fitting black necktie is matched with a crimson and white skirt at her waist and knee high brown leather boots. Dangling from a belt around her slender waist is a sheathed sword long enough to come just shy of dragging against the ground.

Frowns of silent unwelcome are her greeting from around the room but she strides forward without paying them any mind, coming to a stop at the bar where the bar tender leans forward, two meaty arms propped against the counter's surface. "We don't serve-"

The new arrival lifts her right hand, showing something in her palm to the bald headed barkeep, and he cuts himself off without further word, pushing back from the bar, hands raised in a placating gesture.

Only then does Lance Corporal Kaneko whirl around to take in the room, sharp green eyes passing over most of the patrons with only a cursory glance.

While Renka may have the bartender delt with, there are still numerous other patrons within the bar who take issue with the youthful seeming woman's appearance.

From one of the tables near the back, a large specimen of the usual lifeforms that frequent this location drunkenly climbs to his feet. A filthy black beard and missing front teeth are this man's most prominent features, only to be followed by the scent of years of sweat and bile close behind. It's obvious this slob has no love for either the uniform Renka wears, or the pointed ears upon her head.

"Wha' he meant 'ter say was yer nawt wanted here girly."

The massive slob leans a little closer to Renka, only to drunkenly lick his lips. "O'course, maybe yer jus' here ter entertain us, and dat dere uniform is going to be comin' off y--"

Before the slob even gets a chance to finish his words, a large and heavy looking bottle suddenly is launched from the other side of the bar, colliding violently with the slob's head, sending him down to the floor in a heap.


Ralf Jones screams at the murmuring patrons of the bar, only reach back down to the table, pawing around for his now missing bottle of whisky.

"....Where'd my bottle go?"

Her expression is one born of knowing defiance. There is no question she can read the mood of the bar. There is no doubt she has felt it all before. She leans back a little against the bar, propped by the back of her upper arms. The smooth, swaying movement around her legs can be missed in the poorly lit den of inebriation but focus long enough and one will pick out the twin tails that complete the image of an outsider, a Darkstalker, a monster.

Her uniform marks her as an exception to the rule, at least in civilized company. Some say the NOL has found a way to tame the Darkstalkers, to put the beasts to work for the greater good. Others suggest that the monsters join the NOL for their own safety. Either way, Renka has found herself received with reservation but not open hostility by law abiding sorts.

This is not a place for law abiding sorts.

Her presence offends one of the sleezy bar's patrons beyond the point of his likely limited tolerance, the man heaving himself to his feet and moving to loom over the vulpine eared soldier and Renka leans back a bit more, head lifted, meeting the thug's eyes with a faint grin and no sign of fear in her own eyes.

"Thanks for the clarification!" she chirps back, "But I think I got the gist of it!" He leans forward more and she leans back a little more, holding her breath now. It isn't the muscles or builds of the patrons that she finds most concerning - it's the smells. Decaying, unwashed, putrid... zombies have smelled better than the lug giving theNOL soldier a lascivious eye.

"I'm afraid I'm going to have to strongly suggest you back off, sir, or-." she starts to protest the open insinuation when suddenly he collapses, having taken a temple shot from a heavy vessel of whiskey. The new arrival stands up straight at that point, no longer pressed into leaning back against the bar, moving a step to the side to get around the unconscious brute, looking at him with a curious expression before whirling toward the source of the small thrown projectile.

Even in the shadows of the booth her eyes can pick out the details of interest. The man's build. Hair color. The bandana.

Slowly, her mouth curls into a toothy grin, a single fang visible on the right side. Her foot slips out, toes beneath the still rolling bottle, before she kicks it up off the floor and catches it in her left hand, eying the level of liquid remaining within. Deliberate steps are taken then, approaching the person of interest, and Renka draws near, the small NOL soldier places the bottle within reach of Ralf with a loud clank. Her right arm is across her stomach, hand not far from the grip of her sheathed sword.

"Since you did, perhaps unwittingly, do me a service back there, I feel it's only appropriate that I let you finish what little is left before taking you in, Mister Ralf Jones."

"Colonel. Not mister."

Ralf stares directly into Renka's eyes before taking the bottle she's set back on the table. In as little as two swigs, the bottle is drained and Ralf's already snapping his fingers to the bartender to bring him another. When the bartender doesn't bring him another, that's when he actually decides to take a better look at Renka.

"Fuck me... Really? The great and powerful NOL decides to send some greenhorn after me?"

Slowly, Ralf Jones starts to climb out of the booth, wobbling at first. Eventually he seems to regain his balance and looks down upon Renka, studying the woman for the briefest of moments. Stepping away from her now, he moves towards the bar and reaches into his right pocket, pulling out a small roll of bills. Tossing it at the bartender, Ralf then reaches behind the bar, and grabs the spray nozzle for the water. Placing it in his mouth, the large man starts to drink the very questionable water. Seconds pass, then a full minute, until Ralf seemingly has had enough. Letting the hose go, the One Man Army burps loudly.

Carefully, Ralf interweaves his fingers, extending them out until the nasty sound of cracking knuckles echoes loudly throughout the bar. He unweaves his fingers, then rotates his right shoulder and his head.

"'Ya know... There once was a time where I was considered an all right person. I mean hell. I rescued a president. Saved his daughter. Freed a village from terrorist control. I've done it all. And yet..."

Ralf now stalks dangerously close to Renka. The patrons of the bar are already clearing out of the way, moving tables away to the walls to try and minimize any destruction that may actually happen here. To them, it's just another Saturday Night. To Renka?

"All right guys, it looks like its time for another Code Ralf..."

COMBATSYS: Ralf has started a fight here.

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Ralf             0/-------/-------|

Colonel, he clarifies, and Renka looks back at the seated warrior, her left hand lifting, finger pointing upward, "You can't hold rank in an organization that no longer officially even exists." She delivers the message while still grinning faintly as if she finds the whole situation a touch surreal and hasn't entirely taken it in.

The man snaps his fingers for another bottle and Renka doesn't even bother glancing back toward the bar to ward off the barkeep - the man knows not to get involved. While the NOL may not be as entrenched in the States as it is overseas, its jurisdiction to act within America's borders as a law enforcement and security organization is well enough know.

Her arm lowers back down to her side, his remark seeming to break through the perpetual bemusement she'd shown up until now, mouth forming a bit of a frown. "Greenhorn? I'll admit my tenure within the NOL is not all that long. But I've got at least a couple hundred years on you, pal."

She takes one step back as Ralf begrudgingly pulls himself to his feet, making room but not showing signs of being intimidated in spite the vast difference in stature that exists between the two. The jet fuel fumes coming out of his now empty bottle burn her nose as she hazards an intake of breath after having held it for so long. Her ears flick about as she half turns, following her target's movements with her eyes but not moving to stop him as of yet. The rest of the room is taken in passively making sure he doesn't seem to have allies waiting to intervene on his behalf, her right hand still resting near her sword grip.

She seems content to let the minute of dubious water consumption go without interruption. He did help her out, after all. It's the least she can do to let him sober up a bit before being taken in!

At the rumping burp, her ears twitch a bit, tails sweeping behind her legs to curl forward around her shins as she lifts her left hand over her nose. Eyes watering slightly, she resumes holding her breath. The air of the bar practically demands it. Fortunately for her, she can hold her breath for quite some time!

She leans her head to the side a bit as Ralf speaks, her left hand now resting at her hip, the NOL Corporal continuing to look up at the wanted man. "No matter how many good things you do, in the end, it takes only one misstep to fall. I'm sure your record will be kept in mind at your trial, Mister Jones. Now's not the time to make things even worse for yourself."

The other patrons wisely start to disengage from what is about to happen. While a few might furtively duck out the door, others have to be lingering just out of morbid curiosity. Or because they're too drunk to care either way.

"Okay then. I think I've given you long enough."

She leans forward a little, planting her feet, no longer the picture of relaxed composure. It's impossible to miss that he isn't going to make this easy as she'd prefer.

"I must apologize if my appearance suggests that you will be able to fight your way out of this." Nine rich azure orbs of hovering fire drift up from behind the NOL soldier's back taking on slow, lazy, and ever changing orbits above and behind the fox-tailed fighter. Her tone seems legitimately apologetic as her foxfire is made manifest.

"But I am far more than I appear."

The same blue spectral energy lingers around her hands which may make it easier to spot when she leans forward into a sudden step, pivoting to the right, her right hand drawing her sheathed sword with a reverse grip, aiming to give Ralf a warning shot by driving the pommel of her sword into his iron muscled abdomen along with a burst of that dark blue power of hers!

COMBATSYS: Renka has joined the fight here.

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Ralf             0/-------/-------|=------\-------\0            Renka

COMBATSYS: Ralf barely endures Renka's Quick Strike.

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Ralf             0/-------/-----==|==-----\-------\0            Renka

As the pommel of the sword is driven into his stomach, Ralf belches loudly once again. Stepping back, his right hand gently rubs at the spot the sword hit. His mind wanders for a few moments, taking in Renka's words as his mind continues to sober. However, only one thing sticks out, and it's one that bothers him more then the rest of the nonsense she's speaking.

"It's Colonel Jones. Last I checked even after you leave the service, your rank still stands.."

He could ramble about his prior military service, but it doesn't matter. If Renka had really done her homework, she'd already have known all that. Unfortunately, it seems that all Renka's done is read the whitewashed bullshit NOL handed down to her before patting her on her fluffy-earred head and sending her on her little way down to Grandmother's House.

The Ikari Warrior lunges towards Renka now, his body dipping down as he closes his right hand, forming a tightly balled fist. As the fist rises upwards, the sheer force of it tears through the air, creating a sound reminiscent of a jet engine opening up for full throttle, all aimed as a violent uppercut now aimed to remind Renka just on who she's dealing with.

COMBATSYS: Renka blocks Ralf's Jet Upper.

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Ralf             0/-------/-----==|=====--\-------\0            Renka

COMBATSYS: Ralf has left the fight here.

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Renka            0/-------/--=====|

COMBATSYS: Renka has ended the fight here.

Of all the things to be bothered about, it's the dismissing of his rank that seems to get under the wanted man's skin the most. He mentions the service and her green eyes blink from beneath her somewhat disheveled mane of light red hair. Her mouth opens as if to protest, then closes again. The NOL may operate outside of the jurisdiction of national armed forces, but a rank that high normally commands the greatest of respect from the soldier of the Librarium.

He may be a wanted criminal, but once upon a time, he earned that rank. "Colonel." she forces through slightly clenched teeth. "Jones."

The so-called peace keeper observes the movement of the seasoned warrior, the tightening of the muscles in his right arm, the closing of his fist. Her sword snaps to an angle in front of her face, her left hand bracing against the flat length. Rather than try to escape the piston-like force of the Ikari Warrior's answer to her warning strike, it seems the smaller demi-human is hell bent on stopping it cold.

The impact suggests that this is far easier considered than actually performed. Even with her bracing left hand, and her tight grip with her right, the barely pliable metal of her weapon bows slightly, smacking her solidly on the forehead as Ralf's powerful punch smashes into it.

The transfer of energy behind the wanted man's singular uppercut is enough to dislodge Corporal Kaneko from her position, her shoes sliding over the bar floor a few feet. Leaning counter to her movement, she manages to catch herself from falling back, her lips drawn back into more of a teethy snarl as she looks up at Ralf.

"I am acting with full authority and with compliance to signed accords to take you in. Any further resistance will force me to use more severe measures!"

Her legs tense, the smaller swordswoman suddenly surging forward back toward Ralf. Snapping her sword out to her side, the blade having flexed back to straight, she makes to dash past Ralf on his left side. Her own left hand extends out, fingers extended like claws, azure foxfire trailing behind her nails as she swipes her hand in passing, appearing to actually miss him by several inches.

But it wasn't her sharp nails he need worry himself about - it's the swath of burning blue that rushes out behind her swing that threatens to burn his side and really put a damper on his night out drinking.

"This is your last chance to surrender before I get serious!" Renka exclaims as she tries to navigate the confines of the bar to come to a stop behind Ralf following her dash!

COMBATSYS: Renka successfully hits Ralf with Mistaken Mercies.

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Ralf             0/-------/---====|=====--\-------\0            Renka

There is a brief moment where Ralf simply considers wandering away from all of this nonsense and taking his chances out on the streets. That is until Renka forces herself to swallow her pride and actually acknowledge him as a person who does infact outrank her, even if its a completely different ranking structure that the NOL lives by.


As the foxgirl starts to spout off about accords and whatnot, Ralf's right hand rises up and he inserts his pinky into his ear, idly digging around while he starts to completely disregard the poor Corporal entirely. Of course, it's not wise to goof off in the middle of a fight where someone is doing their best to place a certain drunkard under arrest.

As Ralf removes the finger from his ear and moves it to inspect it, it's only then he realizes that Renka is infact dead set on actually trying to take him in. Part of him had figured that she'd have backed off entirely after realizing the power behind his blows.

That would be completely and utterly wrong.

As the blue swath of fox fire envelops his side, there is a sudden ignition of red and yellow as his alcohol soaked clothing starts to burn as well. The Akari Warrior dances around comically as he beats at the flames with his hands, allowing the small swordswoman her chance to get behind him unaware.


If Renka's intent was to sober up the mighty Ikari? She just might have managed to do so as the giant of a man's breathing slows down as he regains his own composure after being set on fire.

COMBATSYS: Ralf gains composure.

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Ralf             0/-------/----===|=====--\-------\0            Renka

She may be darting around him like an annoying gnat that refuses to leave him in peace, but the threat of that spectral blue flame she controls is a clear warning that Corporal Renka can't be simply ignored. Undeterred by his own fierce warning strike that almost plowed clean through her guard, the NOL soldier is almost definitely going to give the man chase should he decide to just saunter out of the bar into the open streets.

Her aggressive dash and sweep of her left hand ends with her spinning on her toes and sliding backward a half foot before catching herself. There is more smoke in the air than she had intended and for a moment she pauses, her nose crinkling up at the burning fumes of the gradually sobering man's vestments.

Even still, she isn't about to miss her chance. In her two attacks, she's gained a better measure of the man she's up against. His powerful build isn't just for show, and while he may be addled by his evening's interrupted liquid distraction, a warrior's heart beats somewhere beneath the drunken demeanor he demonstrated so far.

The One Man Army.
That's what his file said.
She can't hesitate for a moment against someone with that reputation.

Her orbiting blue spheres continue to illuminate the shadows of the bar around the fox eared combatant. The largest of them, nearly the size of a soccer ball, appears to have a barely visible, ethereal tendril of energy loosely linking to the bruise on Renka's forehead as if seeping energy into the point of impact.

Her legs tense, and then she springs, gripping her sword with both hands as she lunges for the taller man's back. Expertly executed, her hands augmenting her momentum to bring far more force to the blade than her stature would suggest, the weapon ignites with that same blue energy as she aims to deliver a potentially debilitating blow to the Ikari Warrior's back.

Against a noncombatant, it would almost definitely be a lethal strike. Against someone like him? Well, it will do more than tickle, most likely.

"Why did you turn your back on your service, Colonel Jones?!"

COMBATSYS: Ralf interrupts Medium Strike from Renka with Super Vulcan Punch.

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Ralf             0/-------/---====|=======\====---\1            Renka

Renka's jab at calling his service into question is enough to finish up the sobering process, and when someone is forcefully sobered up...

They get pretty angry.

As the small swordswoman dashes foward Ralf Jones is lurching forward into a tumble to continue keeping space between himself and Renka. The tumble turns into a roll which then turns into the One Man Army suddenly springing up to his feet. Heavy flames errupt upon his right arm as he now faces the NOL Corporal directly.

"What the hell do you know about service?!"

As if jet engines were behind him, Ralf immediatly closes the distance between himself and Renka, easily enduring the blade as it comes down, only to be swatted away with his left hand. The exploding right fist of his surges forward, this time connecting violently with the foxgirl, as the chi-fueled flames explode violently to return the burning favor and send the smaller woman hurtling away from him like the pesky gnat she is.

"You have no /idea/ the shit I've seen or gone through lil' girl. So I'ma give you the chance to back the hell off before I send you back to NOL on a stretcher."

Her accusation seems to have awoken something within the mercenary soldier. Even as she leaps, he shows keen awareness of positioning, giving himself a bit of space to force her to overextend, then snapping back with violent retaliation. Eyes widen as he powers through her strike, her right hand letting go of the grip of the blade while her left clenches tightly to try and keep herself from being disarmed just by his deflection alone.

But then comes that rocket fueled fist and all her forward momentum is reversed in an instant. Folding against his punch, she explodes backward with the detonation of his burning power, her body smashing through a wooden table that had the misfortune of being in her flight path before she vanishes from sight with a loud crash into one of the booths along the wall.

Acrid smoke fills the air, the scent of burnt hair and still lingering fumes as Renka scrambles out of the shadows, wooden debris spilling off of her as she pushes herself back up to standing, reacting on adrenaline sparked by taking such a painful hit.

Leaning forward slightly, her right hand rests over her stomach as she sucks in a breath with a pained hiss, glaring back at Ralf as his words crash against her. The large sphere that seemed to have been pouring energy into her earlier bruise has produced a number of additional tendrils of blue, ephemeral energy coursing into the fox eared girl's back, torso, and arms. Small scrapes from her trip through the table cover her bare forearms, minute splatters of blood staining her blue uniform dress with stripes of crimson.

Leaning forward, she assumes a new stance, her sword held at her side, her body turned, her muscles tense like a coiled spring waiting to be unleashed.

"No matter what you've been through," she gasps out, a speckle of blood at her lips, "That's no excuse to throw your lot in with terrorists!"

She bursts forward then with more speed than she'd demonstrated up this point. A classic samurai sword dash, aiming to pass Ralf by on his right side, swinging her blue, burning blade out so fast as to be almost imperceptible in its movement.

And as she does so, one of the nine foxfire orbs trailing her surges forward, making contact with her sword, causing the flame rippling over its surface surge brighter than before!

COMBATSYS: Ralf Toughs Out Renka's The Lonesome Road ES!!

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Ralf             1/------=/=======|=======\=======\1            Renka


That's something that most people would take immediate offense to. Yet Ralf, remains rather calm with it. He's been called a lot worse, and if that's the game that NOL really wants to play, then there's a small part of him that is sorely tempted to live up to that moniker they're throwing around.

He casually watches Renka as she rockets towards him, an eyebrow raised as the foxfire fueled blade hurtles towards his midsection. Raising his right foot and then slamming it down, Ralf prepares himself for the attack, seeking to embrace it head on. Maybe Renka might get lucky, and slice something vital which would finally shut the voices when he's sober up.

Yet as the burning blade passes him, there's almost a palpable sadness in his eyes, the flames washing over him once again. As the flames fade, visible tendrils of smoke and steam rise from Ralf's body as he turns to face the Corporal once again.

"Is that really the best you're capable of?"

The One Man Army.

It seems that Renka is about to learn first hand just why Ralf Jones is the one who holds that title. Staring down at the smaller woman, Ralf slams his two fists together, "I gave you the chance to leave." Slowly now, the man starts to lumber forward. One step. Two Steps.. Three. In mere moments the giant man is suddenly rushing towards the smaller woman, quickly closing any distance that may remain between them.

And as that distance fades, his right fist is launched forward, chi explosions trailing behind him as he seeks to draw poor Renka into one of the most brutal assaults that a human being is capable of dishing out. If successful, the poor foxgirl will find herself battered over and over by the large man's fists, until finally being sent hurtling away once again from his exploding fists, as the bar behind him catches ablaze, flames violently spreading behind him.

COMBATSYS: Renka blocks Ralf's Galactica Phantom.

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Ralf             0/-------/------=|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2            Renka

Sliding to a stop, Corporal Kaneko whirls, blue flaming sword still casting its azure glow against the shadows of the basement bar. By now, anyone who hasn't had the good sense to leave is keeping their distance from the two combatants. It was already dangerous enough to get involved with the NOL representative started swinging a sword around, but now that Ralf has finally woken up, it seems dangerous to get remotely near either of the two!

There is a blink of her green eyes as she peers back at the Ikari Warrior that should be sporting a severe slash from her strong dash, yet seems hardly worse for the wear in spite not seeming to defend himself against the sapphire flamed edge in the slightest!

He asks if that's the best she's capable of and Renka grits her teeth, a warning growl vibrating in her throat as she braces herself behind her weapon, still gripping it with two hands. How can he hardly be phased after taking the brunt of her attack like that? It was certainly intended to be a debilitating strike, something to render him compliant to capture, but here he is, striding toward her, seeming larger and more imposing than when she first called for his surrender.

He gave her the chance to leave, he notes. Neither of them want what this has become. Both gave the other chance to back off. But she can't do that, not with the responsibility she has.

The dim blue light illuminating the bar is overcome by the flash of far brighter, more explosive chi as Ralf transforms into a human battering ram aimed at smashing through the fox eared soldier's defenses!

Once more, she braces behind her sword. But unlike the first time she guarded against his powerful, albeit unimbued, punch, this time one of the eight remaining foxfire spheres swirls down in front of her. With the brightness of his own strike, the protective dome of energy it forms in the past of his powerful fist is almost impossible to perceive, but it is against that his opening blow smashes rather than his target.

Even still, Renka is forced backward, leaning into the blow, her sword still in a guarded position. The blue barrier shatters, scattered by the more formidable striking power of the so-called terrorist, but a second sphere moves into position to form a second barrier.

It too is shattered within two swings of Ralf's mighty arms. The remainder of his blows impact her shield, her forearms, her shoulders as Renka makes every effort to spare her a clean hit from the flame wielder even as the heat of his spirit rushes through the bar with a backdraft of scorching flame.

She doesn't disengage so much as get forced away by the repeated blows, finally staggering out of range and then skipping back another step beyond that, twin tails swirling to counterbalance her momentum to keep her from falling over all together.

Her battered arms are trembling, still holding her sword up in front of her, Renka's left hand releases the grip to drop to her side where she grabs hold of a radio and shakily lifts it up.

"Sergeant, I'm going to need-"

The radio casing falls apart in her hands, far too damaged by the concussive force projected her way by Ralf's latest assault. Opening her fingers to allow the useless broken plastic and circuits to fall to the ground, she returns her hand to her sword, leaning forward then, readying herself to counter attack.

"Colonel Jones," she growls, "You are wanted, dead or alive. I would prefer alive. But-"

Renka turns, planting her feet, "I'm sorry. I can't hold back."

Something shifts in the air, a feeling more than something seen. The five of the six remaining foxfire spheres that had been maintaining their lazy, dance-like orbit behind the darkstalker cease their movement and begin to elongate into thin, narrow, blue flaming spikes. The sixth sphere swirls down into Renka's right hand which bursts into blue flame over her clenched fingers.

And then she charges Ralf head on, regardless the imposing power he had demonstrated. The six azure spikes follow right behind her as Renka closes in, looking as if she intends to try and carve into the mercenary again.

It's only when she's too close to change her mind that her right hand slips from the grip of her sword, leaping forward and up, right hand extended, fingers stretched out like claws. The target of her attack is Ralf's face. For this attack, she would need only touch, an opportunity to plant her palm against him. And should that contact happen, the inhuman creature from the pages of Japan's mythology would pull hungrily at the very life force of The One Man Army. Anger, rage, frustration, despair - all possible emotions for the soul sucking kitsune to feed on now that she has dropped her more civilized pretense for the beast she is at heart.

It wouldn't last long, but every second before her touch is broken could potentially drain Ralf's vitality to dangerous levels, feeding his strength back into his smaller antagonist. Lips drawn back to reveal sharp canines, Corporal Renka Kaneko attempts to do the impossible - to take down on of the legendary Ikari Warriors all by herself.

COMBATSYS: Ralf barely endures Renka's A War Without End ES.

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Ralf             0/-------/---====|>>>>>--\-------\0            Renka

Once the fingers touch the One Man Army's face, all traces of any of the mind-numbing effects of his binge drinking are completely stripped away. Every single emotion he tries and keep buried down is brought straight to the surface for the Kitsune to feed upon. Every last engagement Ralf Jones has endured has left a tiny little scar upon his soul, and Renka is now playing one of the most dangerous games of all by feeding off of it like an All you can Eat Vegas Buffet.

Leaping backwards away from the Kitsune, Ralf violently shakes his head, only to slap himself with both hands in an attempt to get his head back into the game. Renka may have drained a fair amount of his vitality into herself, but there is no way in hell that he's going to let her have the satisfaction of knowing she may infact have him on the ropes.

"That's much better."

The words are barely audible as the large man's left hand reaches down into his pocket, pulling out a small square object with yellow wrapping. Fiddling with the wrapper, Ralf extracts a small pink square of gum, which he places into his mouth. Keeping his eyes upon the fox-girl, the Ikari's jaw slowly starts to work the stiff object in his mouth into its more well known soft-taffy like form.

"Even if I were dead, you still wouldn't be bringin' me in lil' girl." Slowly, Ralf places the gum between his teeth and his lips, forcing air into the mass to create an almost impressive bubble, which he them collapses and sucks right on back into his mouth. Rolling his shoulders, the Ikari readies himself once again.

Dashing back in towards Renka, Ralf's right arm starts to wind up as the reddish orange explosive chi starts to build back up upon his fist. The heavy swing is launched right back towards Renka, this time aimed right for her head in a wild and explosive haymaker.

COMBATSYS: Renka fails to counter Ralf Impact from Ralf with Outcast Dream EX.

[                      \\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////                   ]
Ralf             0/-------/-======|=======\=------\1            Renka

As Ralf leaps away, Renka lands on her feet on the floor of the now burning bar, her right hand still extended, engulfed in brilliant foxfire. Her eyes are closed briefly, her movement seemingly frozen for a moment in time. But then, slowly, she closes her extended hand into a tightly clenched fist and the burning energy so hungrily pulled from the Ikari warrior is snuffed out, absorbed to join the rest of that soul energy that sustains the supernatural creature.

There is a wince, her right hand coming back to rest against her temple, ears leaning forward slightly as she shakes her head a few times.

Eyes blink open while Ralf recovers on his end and Renka stands up straighter, shoulders squaring, focus locked on the targeted mercenary as he speaks up, maintaining the appearance of a man hardly concerned about what he just went through. It would be difficult to see that her eyes are watering a little in flickering light of nearby fire. The five remaining motes of foxfire that linger around the NOL soldier morph from their spike-like forms back into lazily drifting spheres that linger in orbit behind her. Curiously, for all her own exertion in combat, she doesn't seem to be breathing any harder for the effort, her biology operating quite differently than her near-human physiology would suggest. As long as she has soul energy.

Her peaked ears are sharp and she easily picks up Ralf's barely audible declaration that he's feeling better thanks to her attempts to drain him of all vigor and leave him incapacitated. The left corner of her lip draws back slightly in a bit of a snarl as he calmly fishes for gum to chew. But still she waits, the act of pulling so heavily from the warrior's life essence seemingly having left his little tormentor reeling more than she might have anticipated. How long has it been since she's fought a human of this caliber?

"You can barely stand," she snaps back insistently. "Soon you won't have any say in the matter."

The bubble gum pops and as if a signal that this will soon be concluded one way or another, Ralf shifts posture, bringing his arms to bear as he charges back in. The energy building along his limb casts a vibrant glow over his prepared opponent as Renka shifts her stance, left shoulder toward him, both hands on her sword.

One of the five remaining foxfire spheres whips down into the path of Ralf's fist, forming another one of those nearly invisible, faint blue barriers as Renka draws her sword back and counter swings into Ralf's momentum.

But the barrier intended to stop short the punch and leave the man's torso an easy target to the blue burning blade is simply not up to the task. The haymaker crashes through, his chi infused fist smashing into the side of the fox-tailed sword fighter's head. The impact is powerful enough to send her flying off her feet, the swing of her passing harmlessly through empty air as she topples to the side. Tripping first over an abandoned chair that had somehow survived the carnage, she finishes her plunge by colliding against the side of the bar itself with a thud solid enough to send glasses rolling off and shattering against the floor.

Slumping down to the floor to catch herself with her right hand, her left hand still holding her blue flame encased blade, Renka shakes her head quickly, blinking her eyes as she looks up. The hair on the side of her head bears scorch marks from the explosive blow and blood seeps down from beneath her hair along her temple. If she had ears where normal people do, she would probably be struggling with the stinging of pain of having her ear boxed as well, but she seems spared that at least.

Pushing herself back to up to her feet, that growl of frustration vibrates in her throat once again. "Lucky hit!"

"Was it?"

Ralf's question would be enough for most to start to have serious doubts on just where exactly they stand when compared to the powerful Ikari Warrior. There is no sense of hesitation upon the man's face, only the quiet composure of a true battle worn veteran that realizes that nothing is over until one of them is down.

There is a change in the air around the Ikari Warrior as once more he starts to stalk down Renka. While she may be the hunter in all of this, Ralf Jones is the superiour predator. "You seem to think you know everythin' about me, don'tcha lil' girl?" A toothy grin appears upon the man's face as he kneels down and places a knee upon the ground of the bar.

Muscles start to tense as Ralf prepares himself to attempt and end this battle entirely. Throwing himself forward now, the Ikari rushes towards Renka like a Sprinter rushing towards the finish line. As he nears the girl, his hands will fly out in an attempt to once more grab ahold of her now well battered body.

If Ralf truly does manage to grab ahold of Renka once more, she'll find herself being swung around, only to be chucked into the air to be bounced off the ceiling of the bar. As the Foxgirl would fall, Ralf would easily lean forward to catch the girl upon his shoulderblades, his arms violently stretching her body and placing horrific pressure upon the spine of the smaller being.

If only to add insult to injury, Ralf then whip Renka off his shoulders like a wet towel, moving to slam her face first into the floor of the bar.

COMBATSYS: Renka blocks Ralf's Super Argentine Backbreaker.

[                   \\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////                      ]
Ralf             0/-------/-----==|=======\====---\1            Renka

In spite the visible evidence of the battle she's been through - the blood trickling down the side of her head, the bruise on her forehead, the scorch marks in her hair and on her uniform, Renka displays none of the usual symptoms of physical exertion. No sign of perspiration, no accelerated breathing or gasping for breath. It is an entirely different energy that fuels her body and she just got a healthy dose of it from the Ikari warrior moments before.

But while she isn't currently at risk of being physically exhausted, that doesn't deny the fox-tailed fighter the disadvantages of pain. Her head aches, her belly is tender, her fingers throb from the forces they have absorbed while defending with her dependable sword... Her body does have its limits, and if she gets caught by another powerful attack from this man, she'll have hit them for sure.

"No," she retorts, her growl fading at his provoking response. "I still don't understand." She readies herself, her sword raised in front of her, her body assuming a stance ready to guard or strike with equal measure. "Why you have turned your back on the world so. The crimes you Ikari Warriors have committed..." She scowls, shaking her head then. "I can't understand that."

She's ready as he storms forward, but perhaps not ready for his change in tactics. Rather than striking out with his physical strength reinforced with that explosive chi of his, he adopts another tactic, demonstrating his dangerous versatility.

While she guards against him, she's in no position to prevent herself from being grabbed. Her lithe frame is trivial for Ralf to lift as he pulls her clean off her feet, the foxgirl's eyes widening, her attempts at defense cut completely short.

A cry of surprise and some small part of frustration escapes her lips as she finds herself so easily handled before being launched upward with fight-ending force. So quickly was she dislodged, that the four foxfire spheres remaining can't even move to keep up as the swarm of motes they seem to be... all except one, which surges up and into Renka right as she hits the ceiling with a resounding thud and soft gasp.

As the orb vanishes into her, she flails briefly, violently twisting herself to kick the ceiling with one foot, launching herself down at an angle rather than directly back into the One Man Army's waiting arms.

She lands with a combat roll, spinning as she knocks a table aside, coming to rest in a three point crouch facing back toward Ralf, teeth bared once again. "This is where you fall, Colonel Jones!" Corporal Kaneko exclaims, planting her sword hand against the floor and pressing up on her feet, crouching down on all fours, back slightly arched like a beast rather than a person.

A swarm of foxfire spheres, all smaller than the ones that seem to have been fueling her combat capabilities throughout the violence, surge up out of the kitsune's back - dozens of tiny spheres like a collection of sapphire fireflies... and in the next instant, they're all surging toward Ralf, defying conventional means of defense as they attempt to slam into and through the very soul of the hardened warrior and make good on Renka's threat!

COMBATSYS: Renka successfully hits Ralf with Gateway to Exile.

[                           \\\  < >  ////////                      ]
Ralf             0/-------/=======|====---\-------\0            Renka

As Renka makes her declaration, Ralf grins. It's obvious that Renka is now fighting like her life truly depends upon it, which to a degree makes Ralf a bit proud. He's pushed the kitsune beyond a breaking point, and now she's ready to stop holding back.

"It's about damn time you got serious, lil' girl."

The words are spoken in a tauntingly manner, as he watches the swirling spheres of light eject themselves from Renka's form. It's almost disorienting in its own right. As the ethereal swarm of light launches towards the Ikari Warrior, he takes a few steps back in an effort to better defend against this new strategy of the Kitsune's.

Yet in an almost comedic like fashion, as the first sphere of the swarm strikes into his body, Ralf starts to dance around like a complete idiot, trying to dodge as many of the spheres of the swarm as he can. However, once all is said and done, it's quite obvious that this has taken a major toll upon him.

Slowly, he once more stalks towards Renka, coming to a step just in front of her. Staring down at her, his jaws go through the motions of chewing, only for him to stop. His right hand reaches upwards to his mouth, pulling out the now well chewed blob of pink. Lowering the hand now, he moves to place the gum directly onto Renka's head, carefully ensuring that he gets it as tangled up into as much of her hair as possible before falling backwards onto the ground with a violent and heavy thud.

"Now 'ya can call me a terrorist..."

COMBATSYS: Ralf takes no action.

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

COMBATSYS: Ralf can no longer fight.

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

Her foxfire onslaught unleashed, Renka remains hunched over on the floor of the bar, hands planted, her pair of fox tails raised behind her back, lips drawn back in a snarl as the seemingly sentient motes wreck havoc on the man who has vexed her so. After all she had done, at last she overcomes his defenses with the aggressive swarm, the azure energy smashing into Ralf and rushing out the back, leaving no physical evidence of their passage but assuredly leaving their mark on the strength of his soul to continue fighting.

The size of the swarm that remains is much smaller as it rushes back to the kitsune, passing into her form with far less debilitating results. Slowly, Renka pushes herself back up to standing, her left hand still gripping her sword as she stares back at Ralf. Opening her mouth, there is soft intake followed by a noticeable exhale of exasperation after having spent so long showing minimal signs of even needing to breath.

"Quit calling me little girl!" she snaps back following another inhale.

Ralf staggers toward her but unlike his earlier approaches, she makes no effort to defend herself. She can see clearly the fight has been taken from him while she's still riding off the stolen strength she claimed by force only several seconds before. If he even tried to attack in his state, she'd have no problem reacting with her still readied combat reflexes.

She frowns a little, face tilted up as Ralf draws closer, towering over the smaller combatant. "Don't do something that's going to make me make you regret," she warns as he lifts his hand, not surrendering any ground before the waning strength of the One Man Army.

When he lowers his hand toward the top of her head, her right hand lifts, intending to catch the limb and push back but without any real sense of urgency, sensing zero threat from his act of defiance. "Just give up already-"

His hand reaches his target and only then does she realize what he was going for, suddenly pushing a lot harder on his forearm but too late to prevent his petty retaliation from being smashed into her hair right between her upright ears.

"Gah!" Renka steps back, finally yielding ground even as Ralf collapses backward, her right hand going to the top of her head to feel the damage. "Of all the- Why did you have to- Ugh!" That's going to be a pain to deal with later!

Renka tugs at the mess for a moment before giving up, grimacing, then looking back toward where she had dropped the pieces of her broken radio. A quick look is taken around the room. Anyone crazy enough to have lingered through this all is still wisely keeping their distance, other than a few people who actually did move to fight the fires left in the wake of the battle. Likely the barkeep, at least.

The NOL soldier begins to perk up after a moment, turning her attention back to the prone Ikari Warrior. Fishing a phone from her pocket, she starts to flip through her contacts, "Wait until HQ hears about this one," she declares with a small amount of excitement to her voice. This will only look good for her promotion chances in the future!

COMBATSYS: Renka drops her guard to recover.

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

The Ikari are stronger than the world may yet know. Secretive they were and secretive they have been. On the side of Mt. Fuji, stopping the Gear known as Justice. In Mexico, rescuing children and the victims of Shadaloo. The Ikari Warriors are wanted, but they are not without allies, and they are not without purpose. To that end, Leona Heidern had been traveling and testing her skills with opponents across the globe. She had met those who know of the dangerous rage inside of her, and she had met those that had quelled that rage and gave her hope for a future. It was speaking with Interpol that gave cause to lifting Leona's spirits and acknowledging that a wanted declaration from the NOL was not a reason to fracture.

And so she set out to find her scattered family.

Finding them was not terribly difficult, merely time consuming. But she knew she had to start close to home. To those that, of all the Ikari were the closest connected to her. And for that she started with the boisterous Colonel Jones.

From Japan, to America, Leona traveled, and her questioning eventually bore fruit. She was happy, though she never would show it, to introduce Ralf to the concept of allies in the greater authorities of the world. That their fight was not over and they could stand on their own, together.

That she had to claim him from a bar where he most likely was drowning himself did not matter. She had her mission, and her mission was as simple as it was preferable: return Ralf Jones to the Ikari base. Bring him home.

She did not, however, expect to find the smoldering scene that she comes across when she opens the door with a direct, leaden slap. There she stands, in the doorway, for a tense yet confused moment. She sees Ralf, his heap of a form near impossible to miss. She can smell the aftermath of the fires. And there, in front of it all, there appears a rather colorful looking woman.

Leona Heidern hears a rush in her ears, she can feel the pulsing of her heart. Her hands itch. She tugs on the cuff of her gloves hard enough to feel the closing pain between her fingertips. Enough to bring her to herself so that she can stalk into the room.

Leona should strike. An explosive charge, then cut her down, then escape. Simple, one kill, one retrieval. Heidern Assassination. The NOL are the enemy, the enemy are forfeit. Let her blood be message to her leaders. But she holds, it hurts every part of Leona and burns a screaming sensation in her chest, but she holds. Cold, dead eyes stare at the NOL soldier, and each step Leona takes is measured and steady and thudding.

"Stand down," Leona states. She holds herself out of respect for the NOL soldier she once fought alongside. Back then, she stated that should they find themselves standing opposed, that she would fight with her all. But Leona refuses to be nothing more than a sharp object, even in this moment. But the terse assassin is not without fight in her. She merely will do this the warrior's way. With control and honor.

"I am here for him," she clarifies, approaching Ralf and Renka, eyes locked steadily on the other woman.

Normally a man would be excited to have what most would consider two beautiful women fighting over them. Normally a man would be trying to diffuse the situation in order to prevent things from getting out of hand.

Normally, a good man would have never gotten themselves in this situation at all.

Yet, Ralf Jones has never once been considered a 'good man'.

As Leona enters the bar and makes her own declaration to the kitsune, there is a loud rumble from the One Man Army as he slowly rolls over onto his side. A loud and rather obnoxious snore escapes his mouth as his left hand idly paws at his side.

Leave it to Ralf to ruin what would normally be a rather intense scene.

The plight of the Ikari Warriors is testament to just how dangerous a venomous serpent in the command structure of the NOL truly is. Every report of their suffering or tribulations must bring sick glee to the sadist who got the entire mercenary outfit registered in the NOL files for crimes for which they held no true guilt. All because of a chance encounter with Leona's adoptive father...

For the NOL soldier feeling the euphoria of success, however, the world is simple. The files indicated Colonel Ralf Jones was a criminal, a threat to society, and that he had to be taken in.

Things get more complicated then when the bar door slaps open. Ears pivot first, her eyes blinking at her phone, thumb still tracing over its surface, "Huh, that was fast-" She hadn't even actually called for anyone to come pick him up, yet she can sense the power of the new arrival even she slowly turns to glance toward the door, eyes shifting up from her phone to come to rest on Leona Heidern herself.

Renka's voice cuts out, realizing immediately that this new arrival is not here to reinforce /her/. Lowering her phone, she slips the device back into a pocket near her waist. The intent to interfere is easily read even before Leona declares it out loud. Anyone moving about the bar in the aftermath of the confrontation likely freezes at that point, edging back into corners and shadows - anything to avoid getting caught in the middle of what seems to be more trouble brewing.

Corporal Kaneko presses her mouth into a thin line, her left hand holding her sword lowered on one side, her right hand lowering to rest against her hip on the other side. "Wait. Now hold on." the fox eared agent replies. "This man is a wanted criminal who is being detained lawfully in compliance with the Novus Orbis Librarium's charter to operate in this land." She gestures toward the snoring figure, pausing only briefly to give Ralf an annoyed look before snapping her focus back to Leona.

"Interference will not be tolerated. Should you get in my way, I will have no choice but to react with force." She lifts her left hand, bringing the sword more into view pointing toward Leona as if for emphasis. Renka leans to the right slightly, hand still resting against her hip as she cants her head in the same direction. "Before you take another step forward, you need to consider your options carefully."

From behind the darkstalker's back, five of those foxfire spheres that had fueled her fight against the One Man Gum Bully shimmer into view, casting their azure glow around the sword wielding soldier.

COMBATSYS: Renka takes no action.

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

Talking. Too much of it. Leona has already said her piece and now the only thing further communication is doing is interfering in her mission. The drumbeat remains in her ears. She tugs on the cuff of her gloves and lowers her position.

The words keep coming. The words mean little. They did not matter before, and they do not matter now. Actions matter. The declaration of war being acted upon. The inaction in other fields. Petty soldiers. Tin soldiers.

The shimmering appears, the lights, gauged, judged, power returning. Time is wasting. Leona doesn't speak anymore. She acts. She surges forward, boots skipping up as she sends herself toward her target.

She strikes, rushing low, twisting upward. She sends herself airborne. Curling through the air, she spirals and turns herself toward Renka's head, knees first. Aiming to control the pressure, put herself close, and when she is at the point of contact, explode downward with an X of cutting, angry power at the interloping NOL Agent.

COMBATSYS: Leona has joined the fight here.

[               \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Renka            0/-------/---====|-------\-------\0            Leona

COMBATSYS: Renka blocks Leona's X-Caliber Assault.

[                 \\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////////// ]
Renka            0/-------/-======|=------\-------\0            Leona

So it's come to this. In spite her calm demeanor and projection of the voice of one who feels in control, the fox-eared soldier knows the situation has gotten more perilous. The young woman who has appeared on the Ikari Warrior's behalf moves with one possessing ample combat experience. She has a dangerous air about her and didn't flinch in the slightest at seeing the sword leveled her way. Maybe if she hadn't just been battered around by the man with cruise missiles for fists, it would be less problematic... but the small NOL loyalist has never backed down from a challenge.

"That's how it is then," Renka murmurs as Leona bursts into aggressive speed, closing the distance between them in a flash.

Gripping her swords with two hands, Renka plants her feet, raising her guard as the prodigy honed into a weapon by Heidern's killing arts takes to the air with ease. Rather than strike into the incoming attack preemptively, the kitsune waits, perhaps not entirely sure how this new interference will attack.

With a grunt of exertion, she pivots her sword into Leona's path, the flat of her bladed positioned to intersect the possible physical contact. But the blade would do little to guard against the sharply carved chi X unleashed an instant later. Instead, one of the five spheres of foxfire darts into the manifestation, dissipating it with a small detonation before it can fully manifest.

And then Renka takes to the air herself, her sword bursting into a luminous, sapphire flame as she sweeps the weapon into an angled slash, attempting to keep speed with the swift moving assailant.

Following the momentum of her strike, she would attempt to deliver a second follow through slash before finally landing on her feet and sliding to a stop if not prevented. At her back, the four remaining foxfire spheres whirl in a dance all their own, trailing the darkstalker at their own speed. The largest of the spheres seems to be the only one directly connected to her by way of several nearly invisible, ephemeral tendrils of energy. Leona's sharp focus would likely recognize that they are slowly mending the injuries sustained in the creature's fight with Ralf. The message is clear - wait too long and it's possible she'll have regained full fighting strength!

COMBATSYS: Leona blocks Renka's Ashen Hearth.

[                 \\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////////   ]
Renka            0/-------/-======|==-----\-------\0            Leona

Strike and move. Strike and move. Lessons learned from Heidern and put to task here. The opening salvo was light, deflected, but it costs her opponent's spent reserves. That is all Leona can push for in the moment. To keep and wear and move on.

Landing, Leona twists back, pivoting and backstepping as the bursting flame of the sword cuts at her. Sharp strikes keep the blade from finding dangerous purchase, but the pain is there, the danger of this woman is made apparent in the speed of her strikes and the potency of her weapon.

Four spheres, Leona counts, judges, she knows she has to keep the speed advantage to herself. So she ducks low, waits, cuts her own speed for a moment. A baiting action, one to hold on, to bide her time.

And then it comes Leona flips backwards. A high, graceful arc. A distracting arc, as left in her wake is a pair of scything chi sickles cutting outward toward Renka. They slice the ground, shards of floor splinting away and cluttering the air.

Sharp, cutting wheels, the roll toward Renka, past her, and arc back toward her and beyond, the waiting Leona. The Silent Soldier using the striking arch of her escape to put even more space between her and her opponent. Gauging with her dead cold eyes just what this Darkstalker is capable of.

COMBATSYS: Leona successfully hits Renka with I-Slasher EX.

[                         \\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////    ]
Renka            1/---====/=======|====---\-------\0            Leona

Her attacks deftly deflected, Renka comes to a stop on the floor, head turning to follow the movement of her opponent, but not lashing out immediately with a follow up attack herself. The way Ralf fought was familiar to her. Fairly direct, linear applications of brutal bludgeoning. But the way this unexpected interference fights is foreign. She moves and strikes with swift, deadly precision. And she doesn't stay engaged for one iota longer than necessary.

As Leona flips backward, Corporal Kaneko raises her sword again, eyes following the graceful ease with which Leona moves through the air.

"Are you one of them!?" Renka exclaims challengingly. "One of these terrorists too?"

Her eyes widen as she realizes the unexpected incoming threat of bladed chi slicing through the air. Unable to simply defend against such things with her sword and not being in a good position to escape into either direction, she does the best she can, spinning to present her side, perhaps hoping to slip between the deadly energy weapons flying her way.

She earns herself partial success, one of the chi scythes missing her slender frame entirely, but the other one carves a bloody gash across her thigh as it flies on. Growling, and not fully realizing the danger, Renka turns back toward Leona, sword lifting along with her left foot as she readies to charge after the young woman.

A cry of pain cuts short her frustrated growl, as the boomeranging chi catches her from behind, one carving into her upper back, the other grazing one of her twin tails, each leaving bloody marks where they made contact. Staggering, Renka loses her footing but doesn't quite go down. Stumbling forward a few more steps, she recovers, lifting her flaming sword, gripping it tightly with both hands, and resumes her charge.

The nature of the attack is swift but straight forward, a barreling charge transforming into a powerful thrust of the weapon once she's nearly in range. A brutally simple but dangerous stab that threatens to skewer Leona to the wall behind her should she not be able to escape Renka's retaliation!

COMBATSYS: Leona fails to interrupt This Matter of Honor from Renka with Moon Slasher EX.

[                         \\\\\  < >  ////////////////////          ]
Renka            1/-======/=======|=====--\-------\0            Leona

The epithet "Silent Soldier" doesn't come without reason. Renka finds no answer to her challenging remarks. In the thrumming heat of the moment, with the pulsing in her ears and the fire in her heart, she cannot see a warrior or a soldier. Instead, she merely has an obstacle for her mission.

It's that angry, monstrous forward drive that causes the lessons of the Heidern Assassination technique to fall by the wayside. She cuts and draws the blood she needs. Metaphorically speaking. And so Leona drops low. Like a shark, she moves toward her prey.

Chi energy, blue, cutting, razor winds claw at the ground as Leona approaches her onslaught of an opponent. She slices, to simply carve the woman up and leave her a mess on the floor. To see her bleed. To hear her suffer.

But rage is not a good tutor. The crushing strike hammers home. Leona's lifted by the sheer might of Renka's strike. Back, and back. Chair and table of the bar, what's left of it that is, scatters aside by the ice-cutter charge of Renka.

A cracking, bone and wood, slam and the blade pierces, Leona screams in a howl of rage, a wild cry that splits with a broken laughter and a coughing persistence. Heaving, huffing, Leona's head hangs and through loose blue bangs she stares at Renka. Challenging, silent, steady.

A wordless comment. "Is that all you got, soldier?"

Her vicious attack landed, pauses, blade extended, both hands gripping tightly. A wound like that... that should dampen anyone's defiant spirit. Maybe she can be talked down. A quick call can make sure that the secured transports arrive with medical personnel as well.

"Now, if you-" Renka starts with the intent of holding out the offer of surrender once more. But Leona speaks and the fox eared soldier looks up, eyes meeting this mysterious fighter's gaze and idea that she would cease to resist chokes in her throat.

Clenching her teeth, Renka pulls her blade straight back even if perhaps the opportunity to further rend might have existed. When she took on Colonel Jones, nine foxfire spheres orbited her. Now only three, and the one that seems to be directing energy into the recovery of her wounds is far smaller than before, having already lost half its diameter as the bloody wounds on her leg, back, and tail start to knit.

Another soft growl and then Renka slashes out while kicking back, putting range between her and Leona after having recklessly charged in. Is this woman a monster like herself? Is that how stabbing her only seems to have made her even more chilling to face directly?

If she's able to disengage, Renka lands with her sword at the ready once more. After so much time sustaining herself off the essence of life that she drained from her contact with Ralf, her supernatural wellspring of energy has started to wane at last as evidenced by the way she begins panting for breath like one gasping for air.

No, Renka decides, like Ralf, this one is human. Which somehow only serves to make her presence more intimidating. "I'm just," Renka gasps between breaths, "Getting started." At least she doesn't seem to be in danger of bleeding out from the cuts as her supernatural regeneration continues to do its work...

COMBATSYS: Leona full-parries Renka's Evasive Strike!!

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Renka            1/-======/=======|=======\-------\1            Leona

Now beat the drums of war. Leona Heidern has her opponent in her sights and close in. Deadly close. The pain in her belly sears, it brings the world into terrible focus. The lines of the floor, the cracks and splinters from her earlier attacks, the distance between motes of light that float around the Darkstalker. Her sword, her arm, her torso. She reads the lines and she feels the flow of combat.

A slash, it seems so much slower than before. Leona curls herself, bending her spine, arching just so as the tip of the blade cuts the air where she was standing mere moments ago.

A foot to the wall, a kick, a pirouette to follow the blade and Leona is simply gone from where she was. Instead, low, to the side, one arm held low and outstretched, hand in a steady knife edge strike position.

The fox is swift, she is talented, but Leona sees the blood. It churns in her stomach, but it thrills the rage in her blood. In the still feeling of that moment, Leona's arm ignites. A deep blue energy, angry and whipping, scythes trapped in a tornado. A blade of crackling violence engulfs her hand. In that moment, Leona has a "sword" of her own.

Like a shot, Leona splits the air and shuts the distance between her and the NOL Agent. She brings to bear the speed and sharpness of her own self made blade. A vicious, gut cleaving slash as Leona surges toward Renka, to simply run past and gut her like prey.

COMBATSYS: Renka counters Leona Blade EX from Leona with Recorded in Blood EX.
- Power hit! -

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Renka            0/-------/-======|======-\-------\0            Leona

The supernatural resilience and stamina of the uniformed creature is put to the test as Leona demonstrates her relentless speed under pressure. Corporal Kaneko's alacrity did seem to be waning, the swipe of her blade as she disengaged slower than her previous strikes. And her panting for breath suggests that whatever fuels the darkstalker's combat potential is running dry.

But for as gifted as Leona is, and as well honed into a deadly weapon she has been under her adopted father's tutelage, the fox-eared demihuman she faces has survived centuries of violent living. Even at the brink of collapse, she is dangerous. Her attempted slash may have been slower than her earlier potential suggested, but that by no means takes away from Leona's remarkable evasive maneuver, avoiding the tip of the sword with a blend of flexibility, timing, and agility to weave out of its path almost faster than the eye can perceive.

She leaves Renka almost no time to recover either, transitioning from evasion into offense even faster. No sooner than Renka's feet land lightly on the bar floor while trying to buy distance, Leona launches at her like ballista bolt, aiming to return the favor with a gut wound of her own. Only this one would come by way not by steel but hand.

The NOL soldier doesn't even get a chance to focus back on the incoming threat, to guage distance and timing, to position herself for maximum success. Instead she moves on instinct alone. A cry escapes her lips as she steps into the incoming threat. In the split second timing required, it's clear that she's too slow to react against such violent speed. She will get gutted by Leona's bladed hand.

One of the scant few remaining foxfire spheres snuffs out and Renka suddenly moves faster than she the entire conflict, matching Leona's speed with her own, dashing with a devastating slash of her sapphire flame engulfed sword. The two pass by each other at speeds defying observation by the terrified patrons clinging to the walls of the devastated bar, but in this exchange it is the swordswoman who prevails by the narrowest of margins.

Wooden debris from shattered tables and chairs are sent flying in the wake of the two passing killers, the air crackling with energy as it rushes in to fill the vacuum left by the two women's movement.

Renka whirls as she comes to a stop, a growl in her throat as she half crouches behind her sword, gripping it with both hands. This has gone so far beyond the point of talking at this point, she knows better than to waste the breathes she's still gasping for with saying a word. Instead, she starts to stalk forward back after Leona as the two remaining foxfire spheres begin to dim, nearing the extinguishing point.

A tremendous hunger has built up within... but she can't be distracted by that now.

Down. Crashing, rolling, slashed. Crumbling and rolling. Broken chair and busted table lay in the wake of Leona's cut down surge. A streak of warm blood cools on the wood. The woman lay on her side, some distance away. She is inert. She is still. But she breathes.

Leona Heidern lay with her back toward the fox. The NOL sent something unique against Ralf, certainly. She can see what the danger is here. But that thought, the analytical portion of Leona Heidern, isn't inside at the moment. Her hair is loose, it hangs over her wide, staring, cold eyes. Eyes that look but see nothing but a growing red haze.

And then she laughs. A sputtering, ragged laugh, but a laugh all the same.

Leona lurches, hunching, hoisting herself to her feet before leaning in an odd list before she snaps back into her low, reserved stance. But it stands in opposition to the wide eye that peeks through the hanging blue hair. The laughter stops. "I won't lose myself," she tells Renka. "I fought alongside one of yours once before. You can be warriors."

A snapping motion, a twist into the air. From her height, the battered, bleeding Ikari sends forth a violently bright X of energy blazing down toward Renka. This time, it's Leona who is seeking to place herself in a better position from which to strike.

COMBATSYS: Renka dodges Leona's X-Caliber.

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Renka            0/-------/------=|=------\-------\0            Leona

Renka steps over a scorched section of the floor where Ralf's fire had burned through earlier, kicking up a cloud of soot in the process. The coughs begin almost immediately as her haggard breathing has her sucking in some of the charcoal in the air. But it's not enough to drown out the rough laughter coming from the woman who seems willing to lay everything on the line to protect the NOL target.

Corporal Kaneko's eyes flick over to to the prone form of Ralf then back to Leona, brow furrowing slightly as she finds herself faced with the kind of loyalty she thought could not possibly exist among those who had turned their backs on the world like the Ikari Warriors supposedly had. That this interferer would put herself in harm's way to protect him... It's the kind of dedication Renka feels toward her fellow NOL soldiers. But how could that be?

And then Leona declares she had fought alongside one of her own and the fox-tailed darkstalker blinks again, her mouth opening, a question at the edge of her thoughts before she forces it back down. down. She can't be distracted, not even what she's observing seems misaligned with the derogatory reports contained in the bounty file database about the mercenaries...

When Leona attacks, she has the kitsune dead to rights. With her own feet on the ground, Renka finds herself facing down another one of those deadly chi projections Leona Heidern is dangerously proficient with. Her own sword will be of no use against them, as there is nothing solid to clash against. The best she can do is make a desperate lunge to the side, the evasive maneuver augmented by one of the last two foxfire spheres vanishing, consumed in the act of propelling the battleworn creature of myth out of the path at the last moment.

Coming up in a crouch, Renka launches herself back at Leona on weary legs. She understands Leona a little more now. She understands the deadly woman is fighting for Ralf just like she, herself, would fight for any of her NOL peers were they in danger. A kindled respect for the warrior woman burns within, but it doesn't change the fact that they are at odds here. In another situation, maybe they would have fought as allies as well... But only one can have their way.

Suppressing her coughing with a cry of effort, Renka charges Leona again, leaping from a distance and attempting to deliver a swift flying kick to stagger the woman long enough for her to land and follow through on the momentum with a slash she leans in hard with to deliver. "I'm sorry it's come to this!"

COMBATSYS: Leona dodges Renka's A View from Isolation.

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Renka            0/-------/-----==|=------\-------\0            Leona

The drumbeats of war soften. The cold, rational reality of combat comes to mind. Leona is seeing her situation clearly. But the clever positioning and the in-born talents of a Darkstalker is still a great deal of advantage over a human. With her attack, the flooring is once more cut apart, but Leona is a distance away. And has spent more of the fox-woman's resources. The battle continues. Attrition reigns supreme.

The next attack comes with less heart than before. And Leona is clear headed. She sees the flow of Renka's movement, the motion of her muscle, the curve of her leg, up through her back, the turn of the hip and the way it lends to the motion of elbow and shoulder and wrist. She reads Renka's body, speaks the language of her physicality. A bend at the waist, a rolling serpentine skip, and Leona is untouched, crouched low, hand propping her up in a light three-point stance.

"If you are truly sorry, you do not wish to fight. If you do not wish to fight, you are being made it. Are you warrior, or weapon?" Leona speaks simply, directly, coldly. She can see it and she can feel the hesitation. But there is perhaps not a time for greater discussion. If there is, it can happen some other moment. Now, she has to do whatever it is she can to push onward.

A bursting rush, her arm once more sheathed in razor winds of chi. A sharp and upward slash. The force of with brings Leona rising with a curling, arching back summersault kick. There is little theatrics to the approach of the Silent Soldier. Simply direct, and simply pure momentum.

COMBATSYS: Leona successfully hits Renka with Gliding Buster EX.

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Renka            0/-------/=======|==-----\-------\0            Leona

Once more, Leona proves difficult to corner. Renka's blade threatens only empty air as she lands and carries through the momentum into a strong, overhead, two handed slash, an angled trail of blue flame ripping through the space occupied by her target only an instant before. Off balance, the darkstalker Corporal is required to take a few more steps in order to recover her stance, a long exhaling gasp punctuating the attempted strike.

Leona's question is posed, the origin of her voice identifying her as off to the side without the NOL soldier having to look just yet. There is some space between them. "I know my duty," Renka declares through grit teeth, her shoulders tensing as she reasserts her grip on her sword. "I'm sorry," she whirls, swinging her sword in a warding slash just in case Leona had charged her in the interim. "That violence is still-"

Her defensive swing is too early. As her supernatural stamina wanes, her senses have begun to dull. She won't be able to recover from her early warding attempt fast enough. But she certainly tries, body attempting to pull back the other way to bring her blade into an intercepting position as the gifted assassin closes in. "The answer."

Leona succeeds, reaching Renka before the fox-eared soldier can recover her defenses. The upward lash of that bladed chi cuts upward and Corporal Kaneko cries out, reeling backward from the force behind the blow. The flip kick that follows sends the small combatant flying, her spine hitting the wall of the basement bar before she starts to slide down.

Freshly surfaced blood drips to the floor beneath her as she catches herself from falling over with one hand, her other hand still clinging to her sword as she lifts her face and glares back toward Leona. Her breathes are still coming fast, wracking her body as her shoulders rise and fall. Behind her, the last of her foxfire spheres winks out. There's simply nothing left, the injuries, the relentless combat draining her the last of her endurance.

Growling, she seems to retaliate with one last, defiant attempt on Ralf's deadly savior. There is a flash as she seems to divide into two mirror images of herself, each with a rich blue aura similar to the foxfire spheres that have all vanished. In unison, the two copies of Renka charge with reckless abandon, bursting toward Leona, swords pointed forward, no longer seeming to reserve any care for defense or self-preservation. The last, desperate strike of a creature at the brink of defeat.

With Leona's precision observation, however, she'll likely observe the discrepancies. Neither copy is gasping for breath like her real target was. Neither is leaving a trail of blood drops against the floor as they try to impact bodily with her. Neither illusion makes a sound as her feet hit the floor.

Both images would not last beyond trying to crash directly into Leona Heidern, scattering into wisps of blue flame before vanishing all together. The real Corporal Renka Kaneko would shimmer into view at the door Leona had entered only a minute ago, hunched over, her left arm clasped over her new frontal wound, her right hand holding her sword now dragging against the ground.

With crimson seeping between her fingers, she kicks backward, knocking the door open, glaring back at Leona as she attempts to slip away.

COMBATSYS: Renka can no longer fight.

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

COMBATSYS: Renka successfully hits Leona with The Hour of the Fox EX.

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Leona            0/-------/-======|

Down. Finished. That should end this fight. Leona rises in the aftermath of her assault, she gathers her hair and ties it in the high tail she normally restrains herself with. While watching, waiting, just in case there is more fight left in this impressive NOL soldier.

And it comes, she rises, she splits, a Darkstalker technique. Leona readies herself for this assault, follow the lines, study the approach, see the physicality. It's wrong. It reads wrong. No breath. No blood. Not real. If not real, then illusion. Leona's mind wracks for possibilities. Primary objective of opponent is apprehension of Ralf Jones. Illusions serve to distract from Leona's primary objective of defend Ralf Jones. Defending against the illusions will disrupt from primary mission objective.

The moment of hesitation is all that's needed for the foxfire illusions to burst against her, her cries of pain mired in frustration at the deception. Caught in one burst, driven back by another, Leona staggers and drops to a knee over Ralf. Still focused on her mission, her goal: family.

She pants, heavy breathes and heated pain runs up and down her body. But she remains standing, and she rises to her feet. She still has fight left in her. Her body is worn, from travel and unexpected combat. But her spirit remains ever burning, ready to continue. Her stoic expression merely hides the cascades behind her facade.

But when she looks, she sees Renka at the door. Arm low, holding her wound. Retreating without her prize. Leona can see what is happening. In conflict, she can read people's body language so much easier than she can otherwise. And she knows a defeated warrior when she sees one. So she rises, the tension in her body ebbing away from her. The fight is over. She lowers her hands.

To the departing soldier Leona has one more message. She nods once to the woman, and her hand touches her forehead. A salute, respectful of her opponent and the strength shown. "I am not sorry for fighting you. It was an honor."

COMBATSYS: Leona has ended the fight here.

Renka is still watching Leona as the woman kneels protectively over Ralf. She observed in that final moment of violent exchange that her comrade was still her priority above all else. The loyalty to one another is entirely incongruous with the files on the Ikari... they were described as bloodthirsty thugs, violent, without the slightest trace of morals... But that is not what she saw here. Their power is not in selfish brutality in the slightest.

Leona speaks, still standing, wounded but strong. The NOL soldier continues to watch as the salute is delivered and the statement declared. Ears leaning forward, she recoils a little at the mention of it being an honor to fight her, looking confused for a fleeting moment before the emotion passes. "I will find you again. Never let your guard down," Corporal Kaneko retorts as she takes one half step through the now open door.

A soft grunt of pain, one last glance toward Leona and Ralf, two warriors strong and contrary to the hit piece in the NOL bounty files on their outfit. Something doesn't add up, certainly, and it seems well beyond clerical error...

Sucking in a breath, Renka slips out of sight, the swish of her two tails the last sight of her before she's gone.

Log created on 00:52:48 12/09/2018 by Renka, and last modified on 01:39:59 05/18/2019.