Leona - Blood of the Covenant

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Description: After a close rescue from the NOL, Colonel Ralf Jones is taking the time to sober up after his time away from the Ikari. However, the Silent Soldier Leona Heidern arrives with sobering questions and the two Ikari Warriors have the kind of heart-to-heart the closest of family members could ever have; hand to hand combat.

Leona stands, face streaked with moonlight. Her cold eyes look forward into the darkness. The wind blows cool and steady mountain air across the flatland of the Ikari's hidden base of operations. The dark outlines of trees sway in the wind, blown into a dance as faster wind travels higher up. A sign of oncoming, routine, South American rains. A storm is coming, but for now, the weather holds steady as winter approaches.

A West Coast bar fight. Pain and rage. Fear and desperation. Shots of memory play in Leona's head. She hears it, the grunts, the words, the mental calculations. The darkstalker with her sword and motes of light. The one that took down Ralf, a drunken Ralf, but Ralf all the same. The one that nearly took Leona down herself. The thought comes hard. The heat in her face and chest burns cold. Leona digs at her gloved palm with a thumbnail.

The drumbeat was there. She digs at her palm. It almost came out. She lost focus. She digs at her palm. she nearly cost herself and her family because she lost control. She digs at her palm.

"Damn. . ."

Leona pulls her own hand away from its opposite. She flexes her fingers and tugs on the cuff of her glove hard enough to feel it between her fingers. She walks one way, then the next. She stops. She looks up and takes a breath. This would require talking. It always required talking. She could do it, it would just need her to put things together the right way. That's all it would need.

Ralf bounced back from things, he was thick skulled in positive ways as well as negative. She would just have to find him and speak her mind. And hopefully, when she found wherever he eventually chose to sleep off the combat hangover, she could manage her words correctly.

The cacophony of sounds of the South American jungle at night would be considered peaceful for a good portion of the world's population. However, for some, it has the perculiar ability to trigger the worst memories imaginable by assosciation.

The One Man Army was felled after a rather intense battle with one of NOL's finest soldiers. He would begrudgingly offer Corporal Renka Kaneko the respect of a fine warrior. If she wasn't property of the Novus Orbis Librarium, Ralf would have more respect for her. It's a shame that the NOL lowers her standings in the eyes of Ralf.

Yet, there is the Silent Soldier herself that managed to drive off the NOL soldier, and then save the drunken bacon of the One Man Army. Leona Heidern's standing is already super high in Ralf's book, even having made it to the first page. Obviously, there may be a bit more to it then just respect for Leona, and that's something that can cloud one's judgement. But Ralf will still always have a soft spot when it comes to Heidern's adoptive daughter.

There is finally motion from the barracks, only for the large figure of Ralf to emerge. His eyes pass over Leona for a moment, pausing as she digs at the palm of her hand. Eventually however he does move along towards a large spigot with a bucket next to it. Filling the bucket with the cold ground water and removing most of his clothing, the large man does what only he can do at this moment in time.

Sober the fuck up, Ralf Jones.

The time has come now. The wind in the trees, the oncoming storm, the tension inside of Leona's head has broken for that single minded deluge of thought. While Ralf is prepping for a nighttime bath, Leona stalks toward him with a single-minded focus and intensity that she approaches any missions handed down by her commander.

"Colonel Jones," she states, flat and direct, clipped in about the only way is possible to discern the emotional turmoil going on under her stone-faced exterior. She salutes, quick and momentary before she takes on an ease stance, hands held behind her back.

She waits, watching, waiting for her acknowledgement to continue. She's tense and falling back on sturdy routine. That Ralf is even considering to bathe is so far an afterthought it is likely not to catch up with Leona for several minutes yet.

While the bucket fills, Ralf mulls over the past few months in his head. Going from being considered a hero to a terrorist overnight was a fairly ghastly blow to the man's ego. He had done a lot of good in the world, and made some good money as well from it (though no one would ever know just what exactly happened to all of it). Yet, now his best friend is off in the wind, and his Commanding Officer is as well.

It was the perfect time to go on a non-stop bender.

Then it all came to a crashing halt and here he was again, back at the Ikari base. All because of her. So when Leona approaches him, he doesn't quite respond as he pours the full bucket of water over his head, quickly rinsing the easiest to remove dirt from his messy mane of hair.


The man doesn't turn to face Leona, yet his tone isn't dismissive. He's allowing her the chance to gather thoughts, and just come out with what she wants to say to him already. That, and he really is unsure of just what it is he could say to her at this moment in time.

In traveling the world to seek out answers to her own condition, Leona had learned a great deal of the condition the Ikari were in. She has found allies. She has seen the Ikari continue to be warriors. And it has done a great deal to keep Leona's spirits buoyed in darker times. "I wish to know what happened in Sunshine City prior to my arrival," she states directly, getting to that point quickly.

She watches Ralf dispassionately. With his back to her, she simply goes on the words he's speaking and vague body language. That alone doesn't tell her she probably shouldn't be simply standing there and conversing while he bathes. Though, she considers it more efficient than waiting silently and simply doing nothing with that time.

Ralf pauses for a few moments as Leona cuts straight to the chase. There isn't any back and forth. No questions inquiring to his health or happiness. Only the most direct question that does not have a really good answer.

"I was enjoyin' myself. Shithead NOL soldier showed up. She tried to arrest me, I told her to buzz off. Then she pissed me off. Does that about cover that question, Leona?"

Dropping the rank is a subtle way for Ralf to signal to Leona to calm down a bit. This is a 'No Hats' area, and rank has no real meaning. "I underestimated Corporal Kaneko, and she beat my ass silly for it. That's really just about everythin' that happened."

Straight to the point. That's Leona. Stern, steady, nearly silent but for the important direct question. But there's more to Leona Heidern's questioning. She includes a great deal of interest in that question. She's asking not just the obvious, but why and what lead to the moment. All those things mean much to Leona, but parsing her words once more shows that Leona's comfort in combat does not extend to conversation.

Internally she winces at the response. She feels she did something wrong. But she retains her poise and her pose. She listens to what was said, and she tries to consider what it could mean. There's a moment of thought, Leona's eyes look downcast. But she realizes, after a moment of thought, that there was a question directed at her. He was trying to get her to define things. There was an opening. "No," she says, "That does not cover the question. Why were you in Sunshine?"

Leona frowns and looks away. She breathes slowly. She considers. "I have met with Detective Chun-Li of Interpol. They are allies of the Ikari." The statement is blunt and direct, and the cold eyed seriousness of her look goes back to Ralf. "The NOL are one enemy. As is Shadaloo. As is Rugal."

Once more the bucket is filled, and this time Ralf produces a small bottle from his pocket. Removing the very stained and filthy tanktop, he grabs a nearby drum, only to tip it on its side to use as a makeshift stool to wash his far more filthy hair. "I was in Sunshine City because Las Vegas was a bust and the NOLtards found me there. I really liked that bar I found on the strip too."

Internally, Ralf knows just what Leona is getting at, and he can already see her next questions including the topic of the Ikari Warriors themselves: Just why weren't you here to take charge when Heidern ran off? Where's Clark?

Unfortunately these aren't answers that Ralf has. Lots of things have happened in far to short of a time for him to really be caught up to date on things. Yet Leona is trying to beat around the bush in her own right. It's obvious Interpol would be smarter then the average bear with NOL's sudden declaration of war against the Ikari Warriors and having them branded as terrorists.

"I know what you really want to ask Leona, and no. I don't know where he is. I haven't received any contact from Clark either. As for who our enemies are... well. It's always whoever has been the one's we were paid to beat down. We just get to be picky about whose asses we kick into oblivion."

Once more the bucket is poured over the One Man Army's head, rinsing the filthy suds out onto the ground below. Slowly, his gaze lifts as now stares directly at the Silent Soldier herself. He allows a few moments to pass before he once more starts to speak. It's obvious even in the moonlight that there is a smoldering fury within Ralf's eyes. "Now don't get me wrong Leona. I'm a firm believer in an eye for an eye, and the NOL has given us way to many black eyes lately for us to ignore. But that does /not/ make them the enemy. Not right now at least. We still have allies we can count on, and when the time is right, well. We'll bring NOL down and expose the fucks for who they really are."

This pep talk is not going very well for Leona. She watches Ralf, stands still as an assassin in waiting, and she listens. But she has little clue of the internal predictions, the tribulations, the preemptive guesswork going on in Ralf's head. To her, she's merely trying to make Ralf feel better. She's trying to ask him things and not sound idiotic.

Her palms itch and she frowns when Ralf speaks. But she listens, and worries at her hand with her nail; the gloves do much to protect her from herself. There's information to be gathered. There's situational intelligence to put together from what Ralf says.

She closes her eyes and takes a single, solid, long and deep breath. She has fought battles against foes that have beaten her bloody, that have left her for dead, that have blown her from the sky. She has seen warriors and weapons. And now she has Ralf speaking to her in a way that has the blood pulsing in her ears again.

"Sir, if you believed that, you would not be wasting your time drinking elsewhere," she states directly. "While you were gone, we took in Lita Luwanda of Delta Red. She was instrumental in stopping Shadaloo from kidnapping children. We have recovered and rehabilitated a victim of Shadaloo mental control. The Commander and I fought a warrior over Mt. Fuji. I am aware of our allies. And they are many. But more than allies, I have come to learn that we are more. And that we need to fight together beyond what we are paid to. We are Ikari Warriors, not Ikari Weapons."

The words take a lot from Leona. She breathes heavily after the outburst. She crosses her arms and she looks Ralf in the smoldering eye. Her own cold, bitten back, clinging to her composure and focus against a backdrop of rage in her ears.

"What I believe or don't believe is irrelevant."

Hey! Ralf does know big words! He may be a hot head who seems to be more muscle then anything else, but he still is intelligent when he's not trying to perform mass genocide on his brain cells and liver. Obviously now that he's had some time to sober up, he's doing his best to be logical about everything thats going on, instead of reacting on pure emotion like he's generally bound to do.

However once Leona shows her own spirit and and bites back with her own feelings, a slight grin rises upon Ralf's face. There's a slight bit of happiness finally seeing the girl show some emotion. The Silent Soldier isn't being so silent right now.

"Fightin' for free doesn't pay any bills, Leona. We already are /warriors/. Unlike a weapon, we think. We feel. We pick and choose where we get involved and where we don't. We are paid to be the weapons. "

It's obvious that Ralf can see just what Leona feels, however he does have more experience with the Way of the Warrior, and how to wage War itself.

"We get paid to be weapons. But because we're warriors, we choose when we take on that role. Never misunderstand that Leona. Since the Commander isn't here, nor is Clark... then that means I'm the one in charge."

Rising up from his makeshift drumstool, Ralf moves towards Leona now, and stares down at her. "We both know that Clark is better at this than I am, but. My first order is this: We are to not engage the Novus Orbus Librarium unless there is absolutely no other choices. The second order.. well.."

Once more Ralf reaches down, this time pulling out a dirty but obviously familiar envelope from his pocket. Holding it out towards Leona he once more speaks, "My second order is to recall all Ikaris."

If Leona chooses to open the envelope, she'll know right then and there what Ralf's plan is, and just exactly how the Ikari Warriors are going to show the world just what happens when you piss off the best of the best by calling them terrorists.

"We're going to war. Are my orders clear, Soldier?"

Leona rests her hands behind her back. But they pick and pick. And she nods slowly. She listens, and she considers. She has to put it into her mind how she feels about the situation. How she feels about the way forward. And how she feels about her trust in the man that abandoned the Ikari to go get drunk and require rescuing now attempting to pull a rank.

She needs to know if she can trust this man if problems arise.

"Your orders are clear, Colonel Jones. But your conviction to the mission is not." She states. A kick back, she skids over the dirt and she drops her weight back onto her heel. "Prove to me you are still who you can be."

Her eyes level a challenge at Ralf. She is serious, cold and resolute in her position. She can feel the drum, the rage, and she knows what it can do. If Ralf Jones cannot hold himself as strong as possible, then there is little hope for him leading should she fall under the sway of the blood that Yamazaki spoke of and Iori confirms.

"I follow Heidern because I know his heart is with the Ikari. I must know where yours is."

COMBATSYS: Leona has started a fight here.

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Leona            0/-------/-------|

The fact she questions his conviction is something that forces Ralf's face to tick in anger. Slowly he manages to get himself under control, that is until she demands that she prove himself to her. He's done that enough over the years, but this time its different. She sees him as having abandoned his post, and to a degree he may have. That doesn't mean that he's forgotten his mission. He'll never forget that.

The drum is kicked away, clattering off into the distance and causing enough noise to wake up the rest of the base. Spotlights start to illuminate, now focusing down upon the two Ikaris. His left hand reaches down into his left pants pocket, retreiving a small square with a yellow wrapping. The fingers on his hand close, expertly removing the wrapping to reveal that small pink square he's so fond of. The piece of gum is then tossed into his mouth, as he raises his arms in a standard boxing guard. The fingers on his right hand motion towards Leona now, beckoning her to come forward.

"Let's go lil' girl."

COMBATSYS: Ralf has joined the fight here.

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Ralf             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0            Leona

A needed fight. The area clear. Two Ikari illuminated in the dark of the coming winter's night. The wind high in the mountains, swaying the trees, leaving motes of dirt to dance in the mix of moon and artificial light.

Leona faces down a superior officer. Something that, in another time, she would not dare to do. But she has learned much, and her experiences have changed her in a number of ways. She knows she is a soldier. She is an assassin. She is an Ikari Warrior. But the Ikari are more than soldiers. They are family. And that means something else. It means a standard she has to hold other to. A question once posed by a weapon: why do you follow orders?

A burst of motion. Straight from the line. Boots scrape the ground in measure time, light for heavy footwear, a testament to the speed of Leona's assault. She slants to one side, she jukes to the other. Down low. She takes to the air. A high up, rolling arch in the air. Her heel comes down, aimed square for Ralf's head.

COMBATSYS: Ralf blocks Leona's Strike Arch.

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Ralf             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0            Leona

Raising his guard, the One Man Army's arms cross to absorb the impact of Leona's heal. The impact is still hard enough to jar Ralf's arms, but his guard holds true. Nimbly, he steps backwards, never once taking his eyes off his opponent.

"You're goin' to have to try a hell of a lot harder if you want to make your point clear Leona."

Rolling his right shoulder now, Ralf's right arm pulls back as microexplosions of chi start to form upon his fist. Launching himself forward, he swings the fist wide, seeking to connect it with her head. Part of him regrets doing this, but this is a fight for dominance. The Silent Soldier needs to know she can trust the One Man Army's orders, and that he truly has not abandoned the Ikari Warriors in any way.

COMBATSYS: Ralf successfully hits Leona with Ralf Impact.

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Ralf             0/-------/------=|=====--\-------\0            Leona

A blow strikes hard. Effort behind it. Good. Pain is good. Leona bursts back and tumbling along the ground. Dirt clouds, Leona lay in it for a moment. She kicks up to her feet, bursting upward and back onto her feet. She holds no expression for her commanding officer. Her demeanor hasn't changed from the killing intent she always shows in the heat of battle.

She paces herself. Stepping steady and slow and intending. She reads him, Ralf, her family member, an officer. She studies every step, every bulge of his muscle, every twitch of his nerves. She wants to know if he is still himself. If he knows just what he is leading, just who he is, and how the passionate soldier could be leading the charge against enemies.

COMBATSYS: Leona assesses the tactical situation.

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Ralf             0/-------/------=|=====--\-------\0            Leona

tAs Leona is sent sprawling to the ground, deep within the One Man Army is a twinge of regret. However this is something Leona wants, and unfortunately for her Ralf is not about to go easy on her. So when she gets back to her feet to assess just how she can take down Ralf Jones, he is already rushing back in towards her.

"This isn't a trainin' exercise Leona, so don't expect any mercy from me at all."

%While she may be trying to watch her opponent closely to try and control the flow of the fight, Ralf is already leaping into the air. His body goes sideways now as he moves to slam both of his heavy boots right into the girl's body in a mighty flying drop kick.

COMBATSYS: Leona fails to interrupt Ralf Kick from Ralf with Moon Slasher EX.
-@- Dazing Hit! -@-

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Ralf             0/-------/----===|=======\-------\0            Leona

Moving up to meet Ralf. The crushing blow comes down. Strong enough to power through the strike and to scatter Leona against the ground, bouncing her hard to the floor, rolling her along the dirt.

What's in her head doesn't come through, she merely picks herself up, coughs, and wipes the rivulet of blood from her lips. Settling once more into her position, she readies, waiting and willing for more. To read and gauge. To see if this man, her commanding officer, is willing to put everything down should he need to. Even against herself.

"Lieutenant Heidern! You've still got a long way 'ta go it seems!"

The words are barked loud and strong as that explosive chi once more starts to manifest upon The One Man Army's fists as he stalks towards the Silent Soldier, fully intent on showing her exactly what she wants to see. If she wants to see how serious he is, then Leona's going to truly get what she's asked for.

Breaking now into a full on sprint, Ralf uses the momentum to launch himself into the air, the microexplosions of chi starting to readily become more violent in intensity. An explosion of chi comes from Ralf's feet to give him further altitude while he readies his left fist this time.

Using all of his weight and gravity to his advantage, Ralf launches himself downwards now towards Leona, bringing that exploding fist of his down towards her and the ground itself.

These were the last moments that Lita had on the Ikari base before she would have to head to China to meet with Hayley. As she traveled with a military rucksack and a case containing both her sword replica and her battle sword. As she makes her way to the Ikari Hangar, she can see a gathering of Ikari and spotlights trained down upon Leona and Ralf as a fight takes place.

The Weapons Mistress was torn. On one hand, she wanted to stay and watch this fight and see how she would theoretically stack up against the One Man Army but on the other hand she knew she had to make her way to China to meet with Hayley with her own envelope in hand.

Curiosity gets the better of her and she sticks around to watch for a little bit before continuing to the Ikari Hangar. She is on a schedule after all.

COMBATSYS: Ralf knocks away Leona with Blitzkrieg Punch.

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

Leona's arms raise, her base lowers. She readies herself to take the brunt of the blow. The tactic is as it always has been; get in close, take the blow, move with her opponent and read their momentum and their methods. Study, dissect, and pick apart. Strike the weak points, wear down, eliminate. The tried and true methods of the Heidern Assassination Technique.

But then, her arms lower. The strike hits. She curls in on herself. She bounces along the ground, a grunt of pain and a wheezing sigh as air gasps from her lungs. She is down, dashed in the dirt. But Leona Heidern is many miles away inside of her own mind. A revelation. A moment of disassociation.

She rolls to her back and looks up to the night sky. She knows and it hurts to know. So she sits up. She looks over toward Ralf. The presence of Lita is unremarked, small in the face of what she has to come to grips with. She pushes herself up to her feet. "Colonel Jones," she speaks, "Are you prepared to kill me?"

With the question comes a rush. A flash step as she sheers the air in a charge toward Ralf. It's wild and unfocused and desperate. A face that shows no emotion but a body that displays all of it. There is fear, anger, need. Not against Ralf, not for a simple fight, the reality is deeper. To Leona, Ralf Jones was always the most emotional of her Ikari family. In this moment, she needs him to realize the depths of hers, and what she needs. So even as she slashes for his chest with a hand sharp as razors, lit with an angry blue chi, she hopes to be beaten.

She needs to know that if she is at all like Yamazaki or Iori, that her family can keep her from ending up like Justice.

COMBATSYS: Ralf barely endures Leona's Slash Saber.

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

The question is one that Ralf would never expect, or even want to answer. It's almost enough to make him falter as Leona suddenly lashes out with the hand, leaving a long and nasty looking gash upon his chest. Yet he stands his ground.

The One Man Army allows a few moments to pass as the gash upon his chest starts to turn a bright red, blood slowly starting to pool and then drip down his already battle beaten chest. "As a soldier, I will do whatever it takes to complete my mission.. But as your family.."

Ralf's right fist launches forward, an explosion of chi propelling his body towards the Silent Soldier with a violent haymaker that seeks to shatter her guard. The emotion that Leona keeps locked away is being met with one of the One Man Soldier's most powerful attacks.

If that first blow does infact shatter her guard, the follow up will be a brutal assault of explosive punches, only for it to seemingly come to an end as he charges up for one final attack. His right fist once more propels forward, launching Leona once again as the massive explosion that would follow lights up the entire airstrip of the Ikari base. As the flames burn, the shadowy image of the mighty Ikari Warrior would stalk out from the flames unscathed, ready to continue his assault if he needs to.

COMBATSYS: Leona dodges Ralf's Ralf Super Phalanx+.

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Ralf             0/-------/---====|=------\-------\0            Leona

And still the question stands. Harder hitting than the woman herself, perhaps, but it is one that must be taken on with all the seriousness of any opponent. The lingering, uncertain nature of the answer is cold comfort for Leona Heidern. But it is an answer. Perhaps she will have to put a degree of trust in the man beyond his words.

After all, she has chosen to trust Chun-Li.

A blasting fist comes for Leona. A wave of heat, explosive force and a mass of muscle rockets at her. And she reads it. It is familiar Ralf. She meets the force head on. A run, a liquid leap into the air, a slow roll in the air, curving and bringing her boots to a soft fut sound as she lands in the sand behind Ralf. Low, on one knee, her blue hair hanging loose and low while Ralf' energy explodes outward and silhouettes himself and lights the dark base in its firelight.

A leap skyward, back and away, the chi-blades that surround her arms lash outward. A pair of rolling sickles hoop along the ground, tearing up the earth in their wake. They skip over the ground toward Ralf, arcing outward, and returning back toward Leona as she soars upward, backflipping against the star-filled night sky.

COMBATSYS: Ralf blocks Leona's I-Slasher EX.

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Ralf             0/-------/--=====|==-----\-------\0            Leona

When Leona leaps over his fist, a soft smile crosses Ralf's face. Finally she's getting serious, yet he still hasn't finished his answer. It's hard enough for him to realize the reality of Leona's situation, which for as long as he's known her he's been able to ignore because the Commander and Clark were there to keep him steady and on course.


As the blades of chi arc across the ground towards him, the One Man Army flexes the muscles on his back, wincing as they bite into his flesh like the worst of papercuts imaginable. He doesn't move to turn and face her. While he is hot headed and quick to fight, the real emotions are something he may infact have more difficulty expressing.

"We're family, Leona. So this answer doesn't have any duty or bullshit like that attached to it. As a soldier, I will complete my mission, but as your family..."

Now turning to face her, it's obvious now that Leona has hit one of the hardest to find nerves upon his body. A sad look fills his eyes as he moves towards her now. Once he stands directly in front of her, he stares into her eyes as he moves now to wrap his arms around the Silent Soldier. He's done fighting with her, she's forced his hand in more ways than one.

"As your family Leona.. I would do whatever it takes to save you." The words are low, hard enough for any who may be watching to hear, but the next words are barely audible, even for possibly Leona to make out.

"I won't lose someone I love again.."

COMBATSYS: Ralf takes no action.

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Ralf             0/-------/--=====|==-----\-------\0            Leona

Leona lands and swiftly she's returned to her low, heel weighted, aiming stance. Each breath a steady, if shuddering, bout against the blows she's already taken so far. To speak less on the ragged emotional condition she is underneath the Silent Soldier exterior. But the attack doesn't come, words do, a proper answer. One that gets a steady, chilled look of distance in response.

A village in Brazil, so terribly close to the Ikari compound. A village wiped from the map by the hands of a small girl. A killer with a moral compass that gives her the stolid control of self to make her mind her own. And a blonde man in Japan, a crazed killer, who reminds her of what she may truly be. These things flash in Leona's mind.

"I was made to be a weapon," Leona states to Ralf. "Something in my blood. I destroyed everything. I can feel it again. I need to know if you can stop me." Blunt, direct, firm. Intent stated, she sprints across the airfield. Strikes come quick and trained. A hard roundhouse kick, momentum turning into a sharp knife's edge backhand. A leap for Ralf's head to flip him over with a leg-scissor and a deft roll away. Trained actions, pure physicality, but something she has to know before things continue.

COMBATSYS: Ralf interrupts Combo Grapple from Leona with Jet Upper EX.

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Ralf             0/-------/---====|=====--\-------\0            Leona

As Leona rolls away from him, Ralf sighs loudly. He's said far more then he ever meant to, and yet the Silent Soldier sees his answer as a possible weakness. To Ralf though, it's a strength. This is who he is. Who he has always been.

He's the guy who does the impossible.

Once Leona rushes forward again to begin her assault once more, the One Man Army drops down, ready to intercept the girl the moment her leg comes forward. His fist rockets upwards, catching the young woman in the stomach with a violent uppercut. It's obvious he's not happy about her actions, but somewhere deep inside him, he understands.

"I gave you my answer Leona. I'll save you. We'll save you. That's what a family does."

It isn't weakness that Leona sees in Ralf. It never was. It's certainty that she needs. Ralf promises to not lose anyone he loves, but Leona has killed the ones she loved. Moreover, the memory of those people are still hazy, still clouded in a reddened past. She doesn't want to lose the ones she loves any more than Ralf does. The difference, Leona sees, is that Ralf doesn't have to fear that he might do it against his will.

So the strike hits, and she's lurching, launching upwards by the meteoric force of the blow. And when she lands, its hard on her knees with a crumpled huff. She has little left, planting and supporting herself with shaking arms. She hacks, coughs, choked spittle hits the ground. She shudders with a heaving sigh. The pain in her body is real, but the promise of safety in the pain is as well.

"I saved you," she speaks quietly, "I trust you to do the same for me."

With a last ditch surge, she's leaping into the air. The remaining force in her body pushing her skyward. So battered she is, but still she pushes onward. She cuts the air with her arms, the force of the resulting chi surges Leona backward. The Silent Soldier is not relenting, and she hopes beyond anything that her family is willing to be the same.

COMBATSYS: Ralf endures Leona's X-Caliber.

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

As the blades of chi slam downwards upon Ralf, the One Man Army doesn't move. Unshaking, unmoving. Like a mighty tree that can withstand anything that Nature herself will throw at it. So he endures like that tree, because Nature is trying her best to take tip him over.

"I'll always save you."

The words come out before he can stop himself, as he surges forward once again towards the girl, looking to catch her off guard once she lands upon the ground.

The first punch is sent hurtling towards Leona, the chi exploding with more intensity then one would expect. One would expect that he is trying to kill the poor girl, but he knows better. He trained her to be better than that.

If that first punch lands, the second will be just as violent. Then the third. The fourth. An almost never ending barrage of punches that seek to burn and destroy anything that may stand in his way.

The One Man Army just will not be stopped.

COMBATSYS: Leona dodges Ralf's Super Vulcan Punch.

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

A faint moment. A fraction of a second. Relief and a thin-lipped smile happen on Leona's face. She can trust Ralf. She knows he will do what he can. Heidern may be occupied, Clark may be occupied, but there is Lita, there is Faolan, there is Ralf and there is Chun-Li. She has people that will save her even if that saving is a dark and unwanted place.

She is a warrior, not a weapon, and she shall live and die like that.

With a renewed vigor, Leona snakes and winds around each of Ralf's punishing strikes. Slipping her body and contorting, rolling and slinking out and away from the big man. "There are leads to my condition," she says once she's extracted enough of herself from Ralf's proximity. "I would like us to investigate. There are connections to known criminals."

It wouldn't be Leona to avoid the task at hand through simple talking, and this is no different. Despite her words, she hurls herself toward Ralf, rushing inward to slice with a knife's edge hand, the upward force of the blow carries her into a dolphin flip away from her opponent, trying to remain one step ahead of her Ikari brother in arms.

COMBATSYS: Ralf barely endures Leona's Gliding Buster EX.

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

Once more Ralf takes Leona's blows head on, unmoving and seemingly unphased like some Robot from the Future that went back to the 80's. Yet he continues to dig deep. Leona would be offended if he didn't give this his all.

Seeking now to catch the girl, Ralf Jones is ready to finally try and put this all to an end. She's yet to accept his command, but she's accepted his feelings. Baby steps one could suppose.

Yet if those hands do infact latch onto Leona Heidern, The One Man Army will take her for a ride by catching her and moving to slam her down onto the ground in one swift motion.

COMBATSYS: Ralf successfully hits Leona with Fast Throw.

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

And it ends with a simple, practiced, trained attack. A flip, a thud against the ground. No explosiveness, no heightened ability. Strength, leverage, and focused training. Leona lay on her back, battered and exhausted. She looks up at Ralf from her downed position. Stern, cold and distant. She looks as much as she's going to slip a knife in his throat as anything else.

But she sighs, a deep exhale, and she doesn't smile so much as hold a look of placid relief when her eyes close. She reaches up and gives a simple double pat on Ralf's hand; tapping out of the conflict.

"Thank you, Colonel Jones," she states. "You are still the man you were. That is good to know, sir."

COMBATSYS: Leona can no longer fight.

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

A loud sigh escapes Ralf's mouth as Leona finally submits. He's glad that things ended up in his favor, however there's still a lot of work to do. Which means he's going to have to stay sober for the time being.

That in itself is enough to make all of this even more of a hassle.

Yet, this is the job that only he can do. The Commander and Clark are both gone, which means that Ralf has to step up. "All right Lieutenant. I've given you my orders. Are there any more concerns?"

COMBATSYS: Ralf has ended the fight here.

Still on the ground, the conversation can continue. Leona opens her eyes to look up toward Ralf when he asks but she slowly chooses to focus on the night sky above. Her mind drifting to the endless font of concerns that boil and bubble behind her stoic features.

"I sought to train myself against fighters around the world. There are many who are very strong. I believe we need training. Intel suggests a new King of Fighters tournament is underway by a known suspected individual." Clipped in pacing, direct in intent, Leona lays the cards out on the table from her flat back position in the dirt. It's more expedient this way rather than being more formal with a man like Ralf.

For all her faults at understanding people, Ralf may sometimes be easier for her.

"I believe we should infiltrate and gather intel. We also need to keep skills sharp and the tournament will provide such a challenge."

"That's my thoughts exactly, Lieutenant. Assemble your team. You'll be leading it into the tournament yourself."

The authority in Ralf's voice is unusual, as it is something he rarely has to use unless he is training new recruits. Leona however, is no new recruit, and is already a well seasoned Ikari Warrior. This is him stepping into the much needed role the Ikari Warriors need to have filled at all times.

"Issue the recall notice. Pick your team. I've already told you Lieutenant, we're going to war."

Once the words leave his voice, Ralf does a well polished about face, only to start walking towards the Command Center. The most booze free place on all of the base.

Log created on 01:23:11 05/25/2019 by Leona, and last modified on 23:45:49 05/26/2019.