Magi - General File, 09.64251.224.1.06

[Toggle Names]

Description: She did well in physical trial. Inconveniently, her psychological profile is too codependent to consent and produce actionable intelligence on the whereabouts of the target. Fortunately, there are alternative pathways to stimulate cooperation. Placing the idea is often enough for our purposes in a first interview. I'll place a few phone calls from this point, and begin enhanced interviews.

One must always be prepared for the need to recoup after a diversion from an intended mission plan.

Often it is expected that the task cannot always be completed in one shot. There could be a variety of reasons for why things don't work out, and all that is required is a period of reconsideration regarding the direction.

However, with only one real lead and having said lead stomped on during the Rosalia, well...

It is not often that Elisabeth finds herself at a loss.

Since arriving back in Paris (which occurred just as mysteriously as it did when she was whisked away), the heiress hasn't exactly been in the most pleasant of moods. For days she's been frequenting the same high-class lounge, spending the majority of her time there drinking expensive wine and, admittedly, sulking. The staff have been wise to leave her in peace, which includes replacing her bottle every so often and being incredibly conscious of where they seat people around her.

Despite her best efforts, she had been outsmarted by an elusive ninja who stole away with the orb, bestowing her with reprimanding words in his wake. As a fully grown woman, she isn't quite receptive to being scolded like a child. Nor is she so pleased with herself regarding her own personal failure of the mission in spite of the knowledge that sometimes things don't go as planned.

In all honesty, feelings of helplessness are swallowing her somewhat, though she absolutely refuses to let that show through. All appearances show a rather unpleasant resting bitch-face, as they call it, and a stiff-backed woman who can't seem to relax no matter how hard she tries.

By some twisted humour that is reality, this issue regarding Ash, in that he is Saiki, is absolutely serving to deprive Betty of any further information outside of Terumi. Endlessly searching her brain for answers, she's come up empty on multiple occasions now.

Simply frustrated and entirely moody, she resolves to deposit these feelings into a bottle of red.

Which is exactly what she is doing this evening, as a matter of fact.

Seated at a lone roundtable on the edge of the rooftop patio, Elisabeth stares out to the skyline that is Paris. The Eiffel Tower towers at a close distance, illuminated by the bright sunset that paints the horizon and the corresponding sky in pretty violets and deep purples, magnificent blue-blacks, and brilliant sun-kissed oranges. The odd twinkling star catches her irises, those deep pools of midnight glittering with wonder, worry, and the odd bit of anxiety.

It is only here, in the private sanctuary she has created for herself, that she allows her guard to drop a little. To let those inner feelings seep through.

After all, there isn't anyone else up on the veranda, and it is one of the lounge's slower nights.

Perhaps, she can finally find some answers here...

Or maybe not. Who knows.

Admittedly, their exposure to the Springtide Rosalia was curiously small.

Ultratech has never been a particularly unambitious company with regards to extradimensional phenomena, but their espionage program has been notoriously conservative with the use of their exclusive-tier agents. Asset and talent management is the department's specialty after all and, so the wisdom goes, it is more expensive to train than retain. Besides that, Ultratech was a technology company.

So it isn't particularly hard tracking down the location of the Blanc style successor when she emerges from the vampiric otherworld. Establishing a monitoring station outside the Rosalia anomaly bore certain fruit, even if trying to track an incursion space that followed no particular rhyme or reason was infuriating for the staff, assigning a specialist capable of managing the data helped immeasurably. And so, here we are.

While technology enables in a certain fashion, perseverance, personnel and persuasion form the moors of the rest.

The man with the sharp eyes arrives in altogether nondescript fashion, the man pressing a few keys into a number pad absently into the back of a box that he presses onto the interior side of the door, twisting it a degree or two to the left and the right before it sticks flat against the surface. The veranda, luckily enough, has been sparsely gathered to mind the woman sitting alone. Consequently, there isn't much of a scene when the staff arrive to tell them their meals have been comped by an unknown benefactor, only if they'll so move to a different seating arrangement..

In the space of a few minutes and a nod of the head, the door shuts behind the Ultratech executive, taking with it the last of the staff, and the door latches audibly. His men on the other side have taken care of most of the rest of the arrangements, though regrettably it can be assumed that the wine service has been cut off.

The woman could be forgiven for mistaking the well dressed man approaching her table to be a member of waitstaff at first, if she isn't careful enough to pay attention. For one, he isn't wearing a sash or any major colors. The second is that not only is he wearing sunglasses in the evening, but that those rounded teashades seem to be computerized. Barely visible and only for the dark, she might be able to catch a glimpse of lines tracing across them as he looks after her. "Ah," he starts, the elusive exexcutive's voice soothing in a very exact pitch that's ever barely disarming. "The weather in Paris is lovely in the spring," he concludes. "But then, you've come a long way in worse weather, haven't you?"


He is, in fact speaking to her. And she is very suddenly the only one outside with him.
"It is, of course, contemporary to find it unbecoming to comment on a woman's expressions," Magi allows, opening a gloved hand at his hip. "But you have matters to attend to tonight other than a fine Merlot."

Unexpectant of company outside the waitstaff, the noblewoman doesn't really flinch at all upon the sudden awareness that someone is beginning to exist in her space. Mostly because she is uninterested in engaging in any side conversation with them regarding food or much else.

For the most part, this is due to only being addressed when the matter of wine replacement is needed.

Curious. Has she already worked clean through this bottle?

A surprise, given that she is quite adept in pacing herself.

The voice of the usual waiter who's been serving her doesn't speak, and instead an unfamiliar man begins lamenting. Indigo-coloured hair shifts slightly as she turns her head so that she may set eyes on whoever dares to interrupt her pleasantly quiet evening with nonsensical chatter. Who she is faced with is a stranger, to be certain, adorned in professionally appearing garments and an odd pair of tea glasses that are being worn at sunset. They are not ordinary sunglasses, however, as electronic whirring dances across the surface of them.

Certainly, this person couldn't have coincidentally come to her to talk about the plum blossoms scattering their petals about the streets of Paris.

It has occurred to her as of late that most people approaching her out of nowhere have ulterior motives, some of which are somewhat questionable. Yet the space-intruder is aware of her tribulations. Having not met this person, it is somewhat of a wonder as to how he can allude to her struggles. Or even what said struggles could remotely be about.

Not entirely in the mood to be conversed with, just merely acting on the slightest prick of curiosity, Elisabeth leans herself against the chair, spine stiffening as she gazes up to this seemingly wayward guest.

Somewhat sourly, the Frenchwoman returns with a firm response that demonstrates said awful mood interlaced with forced politeness. "Do I now?" The wine glass is lifted to supple lips where she will hover over the rim, debating a long sip. "And to whom am I speaking that seems to think he can decide my night's itinerary?"

Now, now, Betty. No need to be so terse.

Her chin tips so that she may receive the rich berry flavouring of her chosen alcohol. Delicate fingers then set the glass down with a subtle 'clink' on the table whilst the painted sky captures her attention once more. Anyone listening in may think she is just particularly bitchy tonight, which she absolutely is, so thankfully there are no observers on the veranda to make note of such.

But if one is actually /looking/?

Those midnight pools, swirling with unsettled emotion, tell a different story altogether.

"If you have nothing of interest to me, take your leave at once."

There's something strange about the man's mien.

Certainly, there's nothing untoward about him at first glance physically other than the obvious heads up display on the other side of his glasses. There are small details here and there that might seem out of place, but those are the sort for another story and another moment entirely. At the first glance, he is a man who is accustomed to everything being in its proper place, and his dress shows it, with not a fiber misaligned. No, there is something far less tangible in his method.

Perhaps it is his overly familiar tone. After all, he seems not to at all be concerned with the razor's edge in her voice, the thin pressed line of his perfectly neutral and accomodating expression never wavering in the slightest, very much as if he had a small book in which he wrote down every word she were of a mind to say before she said it.

"Now, as you might know," the executive continues seamlessly, pulling one of the powder-coated affairs along with him, "life is a little bit more interesting with a touch of mystery." He pointedly adds the chair to her table, before taking a seat and lifting the wine bottle. Noting its absence of weight, the executive gives the French noble a wordless raise of the eyebrow and a curious quirk of the head before setting the bottle back down with some finality, mildly impressed.

"Of course, one could say a good drink and the upper hand are better, but... we'll have to settle for splitting the difference, ne?"

He sits back, breathlessly adjusting his suit jacket so as to eliminate any wayward creasing or wrinkling. Glasses, jacket, and even the bottle is rotated so that the label is perfectly faced between them before the man settles, raven hair forming a slithering length along the right hand side of his jacket, and his leather gloves are pressed together on that cue. Fingers interlaced, he finally breathes out, relaxing.

"Before you say anything... know that what you do in the next few minutes matters."

It's something altogether different. There is nothing particularly menacing about the man -- and certainly, to a pleasant night he could be just as easily considered an intrigue as he could an annoyance. However, there is a certain tempo that he commands with the timing of his cues and his opinions that's hard not to fall into. It's a distinct biorhythm, echoing on a level just below human comprehension. It's as if you can feel his heartbeat without actually hearing it at all, without actually even being anywhere near close to the sharply dressed man.

"Ash Crimson," he continues, after giving Elisabeth the moment she needs to process and not a moment more. "It just so happens that I hear that you might know a few things about him that I would care to."

A multitude of reasonings could cause Elisabeth to pause; a sharply dressed man appearing in the dusk-lit veranda with cryptic words and no introductions certainly isn't one of them. As it currently stands, his presence here is merely noise. Something of a nuisance serving to disrupt her solitude, though he must be aware of that, if he is all knowing to the situation.

Yet, he sidles up a chair at her table, settling in as if he'd been kindly invited when he most definitely has not been. The heiress raises a dark eyebrow across a fair forehead, those midnight pools of blue staring out at him over the rim over the wine glass. This man is rather bold, if she may say so, to accompany a lady who very clearly does not wish to be disturbed.

However, she remains eerily still.

If her back goes any straighter, it may snap, as she rests against the high-backed seat and folds one hand delicately into her lap. Right now, she very much resembles a hawk, observing intently the prey she intends to swoop down upon, although that is not her plan here. If anything, she just wants this fellow out of her space.

Can he not see she is miserable?

Hooked into the conversation, if only slightly, Elisabeth listens with vague interest... until a name so familiar to her comes tumbling out his lips.

In the fraction of seconds she has to process the fact that this stranger knows the name of her dearest companion, the Frenchwoman does a couple things.

Firstly, she absolutely curses Ash, because what in God's name is he getting up to that he is getting the attention of high-class businessmen such as this? The curiosity burns at the pit of her belly, however she knows better than to go spewing what little she knows.

Although, that runs into the second issue she's having, in which she is wrought with guilt over her own inability to obtain the information this man seeks. Desperately, she wishes to know what that flippant flamewielder is doing, and her sources for discovering this have run dry so quickly after her journey began.

What she does know is that this is the second person she has been sought out by who holds the intention of learning more about the likes of Crimson. If he has done anything wrong as Saiki, likely without knowing it, then who knows who - or what - is coming after him.

As the elder between the two of them, it is her duty to protect him from harm. That is what she has decided, regardless of the fact that Ash is a grown man, the likes of which is able to withstand any intrusion or troublemaker.

None of this inward emotion echoes on her beautiful pale features. Cold-face and steely, giving nothing away, Elisabeth opts to sip on her alcohol once. It is a long one, effectively injecting a few moment's pause in the conversation. And then, she says this: "And what about you? Tell me why should I discuss these matters with someone I do not know."

"Let me stop you there."

He's not impolite, not in the slightest. The executive raises two gloved fingers along with the idea, as if it were a thought quirked right on the tail end of Elisabeth's broaching response. "I hate these sorts of conversations. Don't you? 'Hello, do you have a moment?' 'My name is such and such, with so and so.' You can waste forever and a day wihout ever actually learning anything. There's just too many ways to talk around someone. Take this for example: I could give you any number of names, and none of them have to be right. By the same vein, you could tell me 'you don't know anything,' and we'd both know that wouldn't be entirely correct."

The asian man is older than Elisabeth, but not by much, enough so that if one were to take him at a glance, one would be forgiven for losing a year or two to the everpresent rush of a heartbeat that cannot quite be heard, but more felt.

He is, above all, unerringly delicate with the Frenchwoman's sensibilities, never going so far so as to insinuate that she might directly lie to him. At least, not in the bald-faced way that Americans are so fond of ham-handing. Little white lies though they are, he brushes it all from the table, even as he sets the balls of his palms down on the table to better form the bridge that is his fingers, interlaced in the following quiet, to the extent that the soft sounds of leather make their way to her in the encroachment. He breathes once, neatly putting the affair of the last moment to rest as he looks away from her for chance seconds.

"The praxis of life's greatest moments is oft lost in the schemes of the banal everyday."

And his gaze does in fact have weight. As circuitous the LED projections that intersect them may be on the surfaces of his small, round sunglasses, his glance is sharp enough to cut, and the flash of his shades in the light make it a challenge unspoken to try and place exactly what colors his eyes might even be. One could think them black a moment, then another shade of purple, blue or amber to match the shades. Even moreso, in the dimness of the light one could even think his eyes a very dark shade of red, were the night just kind enough.

"So," the executive continues. "Let's hurry past the pointless for a moment. You know, as well as I, that your friend frequently finds himself in the most serious of troubles with very little provocation. Suffice it to say that finding him is a priority of mine, and I'm sure that even in the worst of my days, I could be considered the least of his ills, at any time or juncture. If it helps you, please, think it a repayment for some imagined slight you could share. Perhaps he left you in an inopportune spot. Maybe he is keeping something from you without knowing you realize it handily. Perhaps he has caused you some undue heartache with his ways or his wiles."

One hand breaks the intermediary; he opens it, giving the white flame a moment's peace and merciless little room to object without appearing out of turn. There is a way about him that leaves very little space to 'breathe,' and it's not entirely clear where the sensation is coming from. "Please," the executive continues, in peerless hostage, "tell me a little of your time with him."

Not so keen as to accept her barriers being battered by the gentle approach of this stranger, Elisabeth pauses entirely in what she is doing now to look over him with a sense of both mild irritation and slight intrigue. The wine glass clicks as it rests on the table, rim glinting with the rays of the descending sun as it meets with the horizon's edge.

Yes, it may be so that conversation involving proper introductions may not be favorable, if not downright boring, but...

How can she know this person is trustworthy in what he says?

How is it he can prove to her that he means no true harm to Ash, as he so plainly states now? As if she is supposed to know exactly who or what is after her long-cherished companion...

Uncertain in how she can proceed, the heiress averts her gaze briefly so that it may gaze upon the cresting sunlight. There is a shimmer of hesitancy in those midnight irises, showing slight indication of the emotion that lingers deep within. It only remains for a fraction of a second while she attempts to recollect herself, understanding that perhaps aggression would not work best in her favour. It hasn't, thus far.

Still, quite curious, this man. His tactics are rather puzzling, despite the annoyance they are having over her wishes to sulk in peace.

"Well, stranger," Betty begins, not returning her face to him just yet. "You know of Ash, therefore you know of me through his connection /to/ me, so answer me this: what is it you insist on knowing beyond that?" Her tone doesn't come across as haughty nor impatient now, but rather interlaced with a note of curiosity and formality. The merlot swirls in its chalice as deft fingers lightly guide the base in a small circle across the surface of the table. Finally, she looks upon the Asian man's features, which appear slightly sharpened and colour-evasive under the shaded specs.

One may gather by observing her that she is simply being difficult, but the layers underneath that facade reigns from the realm of caution. She has to.

It is beyond her understanding exactly what Ash has done to gather the attention he has, muddling around on top of the fact that she really only knows one single thing about him as of the current moment.

The delicate Frenchwoman shifts so that her leg may cross one over the other, allowing the heel of her boot to tap against the metal enforcement that holds the table together. The very same boots gifted to her by the flippant man the stranger seems so intent on getting information on.

Something in her eyes shifts, unbeknownst to Elisabeth herself. A hint of anxiety clouds the deep pools of blue, shrouding them in a tirade of emotions intermingled in a swirling mass around her darkened pupil. There is no doubt she cares about the well-being of the Frenchman they speak of, perhaps beyond what she is currently able to comprehend. Still, she remains firm, but there are clear indications that she absolutely feels lost in her ability to reach her goal. "If you claim to be the least of the ills out there searching for him, then you know more than I. Tell me what seeks to plague and potentially harm him, because I am trying to find the answers to that myself."

And so on it goes. As Elisabeth reasons with the languid man seated across from her, his expression does not change from the peerless half-smile, the expression that entertains her every estimation in faith. There is a tracking, whiling moment where he makes it clear he is listening intently to her reasoning and is nothing but agreeable as she lays out her concerns. There is a moment where he connects, and seems to share some of that unmitigated care. But it's long and lost as she returns to him, his expression seeming more unreadable through no particular indicator.

He never raises his hands from the table from where he sets and if the direction of his glance changes, it is by degrees too fine to truly make any real difference in the dark. No, as she speaks, there is something redoubled and sadder now about the slender man in the suit than in the moments before. And the worst part about it is, he seems to have no trouble making this clear without any particular indicator as to why or how. He just is, and his heartbeat cools, and neither are facts that someone should know before he speaks.

And yet, when he picks out the words, it is only a confirmation, and when he speaks, it's treacherously easy to forget everything in the moments, the minutes prior. "You've spent a long time chasing after that boy, haven't you?" he observes passively, entirely disregarding her line of questioning. "So long that you don't know what to do when given an opportunity to do anything else."

The executive's expression flattens perceptibly.
"That's too bad.."

The nameless suit raises his hands from the table, tapping the bottom two of his knuckles once briskly, as if to put a period on the affair as well as harden his hands. He breathes out as he speaks, "I suppose that will be enough for today," he tells the beautiful French girl mildly. "You're probably not going to give up any information that I can use. Fortunately, you don't have to."

And then he stands.
"Because, gods be unkind, I'm going to have to beat you to within an inch of your life."

It's important for her to notice this, and he makes it clear that it is: When he pulls his leather fighting gloves tightly around his wrists, he doesn't treat the matter any differently than he did on any moment prior. He is still an excellent host, and he is still quite plain about his thoughts and what he thinks. "Now I know, I know," he allows, pointing. "You're going to need to process that, as it seems a bit extreme.... but, I did tell you."

Once he's satisfied, the Japanese man pushes his tea-shades up further on the bridge of his nose. Immaculate. But not for long, sadly. "If it helps, you can talk at any time if you want. But I'm guessing you're going to think of this as kind of a loyalty test. And that's okay. You should be excited. Because, after I put you in the hospital, Crimson will probably have to react. And then we'll both know more than we started. So."

Ready now, he makes a long casting gesture after the merlot coupe. He doesn't seem the slightest bit aggressive, but he does have the wherewithal to tactfully suggest, "...finish your wine. The vintage will make the fight go much smoother."

COMBATSYS: Magi has started a fight here.

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Magi             0/-------/-======|

COMBATSYS: Magi takes no action.

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Magi             0/-------/-======|

Truly, the world can be a cruel place.

There isn't much in the way of sympathy from the universe when it comes to pleas such as this, although Elisabeth isn't looking for pity. It's her own damn fault she's so nosey, sticking herself into affairs that don't concern her.

Specifically, Ash's.

Indeed, she has spent much time chasing the back of the fairweather flamewielder, although it is a curiosity as to how this strange man knows such things. It is as if she goes broadcasting it, even if she does ask around from time to time. Given that he seems to be relatively suited up with tech-gear of sorts, maybe there's a connection between his desire for knowledge and what he has obtained thus far.

Regardless, the heiress is not deterred by the mentions of harm upon her person. To some extent, she expected this, because there always seems to be a price attached to whatever is trailing in Crimson's wake.

Consequences she is willing to absorb, if only to reach her goals and provide the help she so desperately thinks she is offering.

Oh, Betty. How silly these notions are.

"I think you may have misheard me when I told you that I know nothing more than what I have shared. If you know more than this, I tell you speak now." The cadence of her voice remains level as she takes one more longing glance out to the setting sun painting itself over Paris' horizon. The merlot swirls in the glass as she cups it, only to still as the base settles on the tabletop.

And then, she, too, rises to her feet.

The flowing tailcoat of Elisabeth's uniform sways behind her upon receiving such a motion, and the tips of her heels click on the wooden floorboards beneath her. "You must know by now that such news would not reach Ash. He is everywhere and nowhere all at once." Once-softened midnight irises harden as she turns her beautiful gaze up to levelly meet his. A coolness overcomes the haughty noblewoman as she stands at her full height, unfettered by his vague yet honest intimidation.

"Threaten me all you like, you will find it hard to provoke him when he moves like the wind."

With no need, nor desire, to finish off the wine, the expensive liquor is left abandoned in the wake of her determination. From her perch beside her chair, she holds herself unmoving, with the palm of her left hand grazing over the surface of the table, her other glossing over the hilt of her crop which remains fastened to her side.

COMBATSYS: Elisabeth has joined the fight here.

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Elisabeth        0/-------/------=|======-\-------\0             Magi

COMBATSYS: Elisabeth calculates her next move.

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Elisabeth        0/-------/------=|======-\-------\0             Magi

"Please, don't mar that beautiful face with naivete. By all reports, you shouldn't be as bad a liar as this."

He raises a finger.
"Of course, there's one difference between us."

The mood of the evening quickly reaches an apex. As the slender and collected executive reaches into his coat with his opposite hand, he seems all the while qite glad to continue on the conversation. His heartbeat is even and quickening, and creates a tension that is nigh impossible to escape, as if the small little rooftop were simply being eaten alive by nothing short of pure will. This is a tangible feeling, and though he speaks on it not in the slightest, there is nothing stopping Elisabeth from knowing that there are some parts of him that are interceding for her physicalities and senses that is hard to make out.

It's something in his words and the way he carries himself, as if he were instructing her.

"That difference is that you could change your circumstance measurably by talking. And that is simply a luxury that I now find to be denied me. So you'll understand and forgive when I say that your offer is kind, but.."

He opens a small collapsible baton produced from his jacket, all jet black and marked with an unknown logo. His expression as he watches her is not disappointed in the slightest as she doesn't break down in the face of his more obvious threat, even over the gentle metal clack and snap of the baton. The man in the suit is very matter of fact and plain in how he proceeds, even completely at ease. Even when she tells him that putting her in the hospital is of no use, he just laughs, lightly. The sound is bitter and brief, like a bad taste on the tongue. "Ah. Don't begrudge me my methods, they have their own charms. Besides," he remarks, slinging the rod over his shoulder and settling his weight onto his front foot. "It's just like you say. He moves like the wind. .....but, you don't."

The executive sighs slowly, reflecting on the merlot left undrank.
"Though, I was hoping this was going to be a more pleasant evening."

It takes at least ten seconds for hearing to return.
It's not exactly clear how or when Magi attacks, but with the slightest turn of his body, he triggered -- something -- and then the table between them explodes into shards, sending the coupe slinging end over end into the night sky. The sound hardly matches the explosion that accompanies it, a nigh-unhearable pressure in the air that immediately causes the ears to pop, a flanged heatless blast so deep in pitch it might as well be shrill. It's an explosion that cannot be seen in the slightest, yet it is more than many grenades. And if Elisabeth is anywhere near ground zero of the blast she will be taken right off her heels by the impact, as if the executive simply paid a wall to sneak up on the French noblewoman and sack her where she stood.

COMBATSYS: Magi successfully hits Elisabeth with Witch Noise.

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Elisabeth        0/-------/---====|=======\-------\1             Magi

Oh, so now she's being called a liar?


When it comes to the likes of Ash Crimson, the heiress never knows what follows him. Or, who, for that matter. Gabbing about personal affairs would only lead to imminent peril for him, and she knows better than to go sharing details even when she has awareness of them. With the only fact she knows about her most cherished flamebearer, it would certainly make sense that he is being pursued by God knows who, although it stands to reason that knowledge is probably not commonly known.

If it is even something spoken about at all.

For all she knows, The One Who Rules Time could be prostrating around as the Crimson fellow, using his flesh as a facade to elude his true intentions, or even to cause harm to anyone who gets in his way. All the more reason to track him down and put an end to his charade.

This kind of information couldn't be what the stranger is digging for, could it? Why would it impact him in any way, given that the calamity isn't someone the general public isn't in awareness of. Her mission is secret, sacred even. What is this man trying to get from her, if not this?

A strange tension tugs at her gut, as if her instincts are screaming at her to divulge. The sensation grows in magnitude, seemingly out of nowhere, further serving to cloud the judgement she previously had for the Asian man. Shrouded in pure mystery and a stone-cold will, it feels as though he is trying to lure her somewhere, to poke at delicate sensibilities until she finally yields.

How this is possible, she isn't so sure.

Likely as intended, the mind-manipulation does prove to be an adversary all of its own, causing Elisabeth to hesitate in the moments before the businessman makes his move. Perhaps she missed it, or maybe he just didn't shift at all, but quite suddenly, the polished surface under her fingertips burst into razor-sharp wooden shrapnel, cutting into her hand and corresponding limb. Something of a pressurized explosive wall slams into her slender frame seconds later, knocking her clean off her heels and sending the stumbling noblewoman crashing into a nearby table.

Crouched on the underside of the flipped table, her unharmed hand lightly cradles a spot on her head where she'd collided with the decorum before barrelling it over. Getting to her feet, she positions herself in a half-raised fighting stance, knees slightly bent while her hand motions back to ghost over the riding crop once more. The slivers bleed out over her sleeve, leaving something of a bloodied mess on the blue and white fabric, but are easily ignored thanks to the liquid courage she had been consuming earlier.

If she can still grip her weapon or use her power, then nothing else matters at this particular moment.

Cold as ice, the Blanctorche heir becomes steely, as her womanly features darken with irritation. Beneath her bosom is a strong will that desires to protect Ash at absolutely all costs, and that is what motivates her today to fight back, regardless of the barriers standing in her way. Without any words to share, she kicks off from where the broken furniture lay to close in on the mysterious man. Crop swinging out at her side, the hilt finds purchase in both her hands as she brings it towards her centre mass. As she draws in, narrowing the distance, Elisabeth tries to drive the butt of the crop right into the sternum of her opponent, likely stealing his breath away and pushing him from her with surprisingly tremendous strength for a lady of her stature.

COMBATSYS: Magi blocks Elisabeth's Fiere.

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Elisabeth        0/-------/---====|=======\-------\1             Magi

The idea of a contract torn through hangs on a shred painful and clear, as the pulse quickens in tune to the rising spirit of battle.

He knows that she knows something. And his gentle nettling way -- the mere suggestion that she can be in a way -- is the sort of idea that is mindfully planted to unroot the woman where she stood. He himself says no more on the subject, no matter how she responds. After all, what more can a person do with an implication that cuts so deep so as to suggest the very heiress to whitest light herself be anything less than of peerlessly immaculate repute? 'Either you are naive or you are a liar' is a strong recrimination to make of anyone, no matter how tactfully put.

And yet.

Her uninvited and unintroduced seems a person not easily distracted from his overall goals. He is not one to be swayed by the mounting aisle of distraction, and truthfully the man seems more concerned with the violence of the moment than anything that came before. No matter how his heartbeat tells her to feel, he is not a man given easily to the sentiments of the past.

As he said, the offer he's made was, and still is, plain.

The man with the sharp features stands as if he never actually did anything to her at all, despite the fact that he just put her through a table, the Z80 class baton slung across his shoulder neer having left it. His boots skid hard in the aftermath of the blast, but having been the one repared for it, the fey man never loses his balance, standing straighter even as mayhem tears through the rooftop like a bull in a china shop, upending tables and reducing discretion to a pinpoint. She is ice cold steel as she stands, and he seems pleased with her vivacity.

His heartbeat skips a beat in her chest.
"All that aside. A reasonless dance is beautiful. Don't you think?"

She attacks honestly, like he expects a woman of her unimpeachable class might. Pure speed and strength, with nothing held back. And as she brings her weapon to bear in barest eyeblinks, the older man purses his lips ever slightly. In the threaded needle, from his position he has very little opportunity to respond to her attack earnestly, and in that case, even trained martial artists would not have called it untowards to have had their own knocked into the dust by the woman's tawny strength. She is no novice, surely.

That is why he doesn't try to guard her.

Hitting him is easy. She just has to catch up with him. But hitting him hard is the challenge, and much more difficult than it looks. The executive just takes a step back from her, one step that forces her approach into a staccato, as if he introduced a half-beat into her rhythm. He moves lightning quick, at the very last second. A 35 degree tilt of the body and twist of the torso, and Magi doesn't so much soak, block or dodge the blow, but simply cause her to crash into him with a completely honest thrust that is simply seconds and degrees off its timing and aim. Even defanged, the woman's strike is enforcing, and burying the end of her crop into his side even forces a coldsnap of air into the executive. Vivacity bleeds into verve, and then he responds.

He goes into her, baton to crop, the length of steel whirling inverted and false in his hand to slip beneath her leading shoulder. The executive moves to try and lock and bind her arms against his body as he steps to reclaim the space he ceded only moments ago and she will learn, as the disarmingly mild scent of his cologne reaches her; he works very, very close.

The man is curiously brutal, and seeks to distract her with a simple thing of itself, trying to at once lock her arms and step into her instep, just enough to break her weight on the wrong side. That would be it, infuriating though it is, as if he were trying to simply kick her leg out from underneath her. But he isn't so mild so as to do that. He is trying to control her at a fine level, every heartbeat and movement. She is too good, especially at fighting in heels, to expect that she can't continue on and spend the next few moments breaking him beneath her crop. But he is trying to do something entirely different, forcing her to try and hit him again.

Because if she succumbs and even entertains the idea, he will hit her three times in the space of an instant with a coiled fist to the side. The exact same spot, with the exact same force, each time, each moment, for each individual thought she has that doesn't involve getting away from him. And for a man who looks like he holds up a desk with powerful resolve, he hits so regrettably hard. Each punch is like cannonfire, with force enough to make an arm go numb.
If she falls into his 'rhythm,' she will find surgical brutality dressed in a suit.

COMBATSYS: Elisabeth blocks Magi's Shanghai Hospitality.

[        \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////////   ]
Elisabeth        0/-------/--=====|=======\-------\1             Magi

Somehow, the impression the heiress gets regarding this supposed purposeless dance? Doesn't line up with the ideas she has for it.

In that, there very much is a reason behind this, even if the stranger refuses to state such.

The mere implication that she does not understand the weight of this encounter is enough to set her chest ablaze with mild annoyance. Doubled up with the echoing heartbeat that most certainly tries to influence her decision making, Elisabeth is not who you'd call a happy camper.

A scoff. "Such nonsense."

She really has no time to speculate on such things.

The previous offers may have been kind, in accordance to whatever the illusive man deems so, but she has no intentions of being nice. A peaceful night spent sulking has been ruined by a party crasher who demands everything from her when she has nothing really to give. At least, not anything that is to be shared without a price.

Perhaps that price is much too steep, and therefore she decides it isn't worth divulging.

Or, more likely, because she is sentimental and would do most anything to prevent harm reaching Ash.

And then, in short order, she closes the gap.

The strange man makes short work of the trajectory of which she aims for, though what he does next is not unexpected in some regards. Able to see the fastened movements of his arms, in which he maneuvers them in an attempt to snag her leading arm tight to his midsection, the noblewoman retreats.

Not by far, however.

A half-step back allows her to crash her elbow against the incoming baton seeking to trap itself in the space under her upper arm. Muscles twinge somewhat uncomfortable at the awkward angle from which she rejects the attack, batting him away similar to the treatment of a pesky fly buzzing in her periphery. Much like she gets the impression that the suited man works at close quarters often, she, too, can dance to the tango at this range.

In fact, she is bred to do so, in most circumstances.

Swiftly does Elisabeth rotate now so that her non-dominant appendage whirls around the opposite side of her torso. The speed of which she does so is almost blurred, that if you blinked you'd surely miss it. Palm and corresponding manicured digits spread wide as they expand over the mystery man's face, not gripping but hovering just an inch from the very tip of his nose. From the center, a luminous radiance would blast out, much like a flash bomb, exploding bright light in a dazzling spectacle that would serve to knock him backwards and potentially daze his retinas proper.

"Stop this charade at once!" demands Betty in the onslaught of her attack, though it may scarcely affect the operative in the way she hopes.

COMBATSYS: Elisabeth successfully hits Magi with Maniere EX.

[        \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////        ]
Elisabeth        0/-------/-======|=======\-------\1             Magi

He has just enough time to note the readout on his heads-up display, her hand splaying open in front of him.

Overall, trying to catch him in words or flesh seems almost an exercise in frustration. Nothing about him seems to be in the right rhythm, in the right time, as if every fiber of his being was disarming by nature. But Elisabeth's lightning fast reflexes keep her from sporting a few collapsed ribs under the man's fists. Undeterred, her rejection spawns a full whipping rotation of his short staff, the older man taking one long step away from her to twirl the thing, one loop hooked into the crook of his pinky finger.

And then her hand spins into view, and his expression flattens.
She could almost swear she sees him move just slightly before the flare explodes into his face.

It is in many ways the opposite of his own, the white light inheritance of the Frenchwoman's noble family. All light and dilute force, the attack drives him back only by skill alone -- she places it exactly at his face, and his eyes explode into stars as he falls back. Any other would have simply barreled over and into a table in response to the censuring blow, but that man seems to intuit the location of the tables behind him, and in one snapping motion, catches the edge, flipping over it at the hips, and alighting as a feather might on the other side, the table jostling with the motion, and his baton held even with the ground, at his front and along his hip as his free hand traces along the edge of the outdoorsy venetian bronze finish.

"Charade?" he asks, tone still mild. "Come now. You know better than that," he admonishes.

Opening one eye in a knife's edge thinness of white, he makes out the shape of her for a moment. Then he flicks his leg up by an inch. He upends the table, his slender form eclipsed by the tiled surface for one instant. And it's only that instant he needs. An eyeblink isn't even enough time to get a good track on the moment his leather glove reaches out for her throat.

The agent whips around the table in less time than it takes for the table to hit the ground. She has only a breath to respond from the moment he speaks, and if she gets caught up in the details, he's going to have her. And then he'll put her into the nearby unstaffed waiter area, driving her slender form into and through a yard of epoxy, plaster and laminate with the sort of charging slam that one normally reserves for people at least twice his size. It's hard to track exactly what he does, but the moment he gets ahold of her, the impact will be felt through her voicebox, into her very bones. The impact, despite her otherwise uncommanding size, will carry with it the force of a bomb going off, the entire tiny little shack flattened instantly and in a moment.

That is, of course, unless she can intuit the speed of his attack exactly so.

COMBATSYS: Elisabeth fails to counter Ride Cracker ES from Magi with Platinum Mirage EX.

[               \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////////         ]
Elisabeth        1/------</<<<<<<<|=======\=------\1             Magi

The efforts to try and break this man aren't entirely in vain, but certainly their dance does not seem to coordinate well in most respects. Off-paced in so many ways, it isn't awkward but rather more an exercise in pure annoyance.

At least, for the heiress, it is such.

In a moment of glory, she is able to sneak in a disarming blast of white light, and as the stranger somehow gracefully tumbles over the tables behind him, she watches. Not out of contempt or disapproval. Elisabeth is chasing her previous statement, even if it causes her to be admonished by some operative she's never even been introduced to.

What gives him the right to speak to her in such a manner, anyway?

Clearly, he is aware of who she is.

Not everyone's your butler though, Betty. Temper.

Recollecting herself is left out of the equation, in spite of her desire to do so. The vintage is burning in her belly, but hardly the focus of her attention. Instead, as the mystery man seemingly becomes hellbent on destroying the furniture, the tips of her fingers sparkle with majestic light. They float in front of her face as she brings that corresponding hand upwards, within her sight, as she prepares to stop him in his advancing tracks.

And, quite unfortunately, it is futile.

How, you might ask?

The Frenchwoman steps in to meet him partway, awaiting the perfect moment to blip out of sight and appear elsewhere. Specifically, behind him and completely out of his peripherals. However, she missteps, falling right into that hairsbreadth of a moment where he's able to fasten his digits around the whole of her neck. With the grip secured, Elisabeth lightly claws away at the back of his hand as her weight is easily lifted from the ground. Not totally choking, but absolutely struggling to find breath, she is suspended like this...

Until quite suddenly, she is not.

Projected at a force much too impactful for her size, Blanctorche is plowed through each barrier with her backside. Most of them shatter around her, all of them occasionally embed into arms, shoulders, legs, whatever the material can touch, and quite simply shreds the odd bit of her uniform to ribbons; a few nice tears across the tailcoat are certainly among them, but more so into the sleeves and parts of her riding pants are clearly evidenced by smears of blood.

Not only does this continuous collision cause external discomfort, but this grip the Asian man has on her throat reverberates with its own unique pain. Feeling as though her voice is wrecked, the sounds she makes as she is plowed through to the other side of the waiter-space are garbled and disjointed. The noise only seizes upon the stopping of her assault.

What this stranger may find intriguing, however, is what he sees of her at the end of it all.

Elisabeth may still be held in his grip, or perhaps she's been let go once he's had his way, but all throughout and right until everything halts, not once does she tear her gaze from him. Those deep blues stare at him, narrowed with pain and tenacity, holding her in the balance. In no means is she ready to fall unconscious, for her fierce determination somehow fuels the fire within that keeps her standing.

This isn't over yet.

Thin balsa, plastic and fragments of OSB sheathing litter the ground, making hollow, cheap sounds as what's left of the waiter's shack crumple around the grounded noble. He leaves her there, never quite ceding ground, but not trying to press advantage.

The supposed hitman is standing only a few steps away, the soft whipping sound of metal on air heard. After watching him for a moment or two, he doesn't appear to have a formalized fighting stance, preferring to stand only fairly at ready, facing her side on as he rolls his baton's length between his fingers. At his right side furthest from her, he whirls the weapon slowly at his hip. Once, twice, as if he tests the weighting. Despite the deliberate motion, the matte finish on the weapon makes it more heard than seen in the dark. And the slow display eats up the interceding moments.

There was something else at play there. Though the martial interchange could have theoretically been enough to level the shack, the damage done to it was too total to account for even the battering ram being tipped with every slender inch of Blanctorche's entire body. The invisible explosions that the executive is able to conjure seemingly at will from every angle is work that is plain here, and her ears may in fact, still be ringing from the blast.

The whip-lean man lifts his free hand to his glasses, pushing them up with a gloved pinky. Across the glass surface, if she looks very, very closely, she can see lines and reticules drawn, with diagrams and hoops drawn across the translucent lenses. An enlightened person might realize that her vitals, and the damaged portions of her waistcoat are outlined in no uncertain terms. Seventy six percent data.

But yet, undeterred, the noble still stands.

"Mm," the older man vocalizes softly. "The vigors of the ambitious," he supposes.
"Are you ready to sacrifice it all .. for that boy?" he asks once, quietly.

It's a rhetorical question, certainly, on his behalf. Because he's going to make it stick in moments, in seconds. The executive stops spinning that baton, just long enough to boost himself, the air rippling behind him as his speed causes him to visibly distort the electric lights beyond as he throws himself into her with a leading one-handed blow right down her centerline, a blast of force accompanying his attack as he carries the thrust of his baton hilt dead on center of her middle in a blasting ascent attack that culminates in a slashing uppercut with the whirling matte black rod, widening his stance and threatening with full contact to put the noblewoman through the string lights and against the rafters of the awnings.

COMBATSYS: Elisabeth full-parries Magi's Code Sphinx!!

[               \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////          ]
Elisabeth        1/----<<</<<<<<<<|=======\====---\1             Magi


The question hangs in the air, thick. A most obvious statement, really, given that outside of her life's mission, the one person that matters to her is the very person she would walk to the ends of the earth for.

Reasons why could be debated, however normally her purpose and the Crimson fellow don't intermingle. With the recently attained knowledge that Ash is Saiki, or vice versa, everything has become so much more personal. Heavier, even, with the weight of such sitting so heavy on her shoulders.

Yet, if asked... she wouldn't have it any other way.

The flamewielder wouldn't have it so, but Elisabeth would absolutely sacrifice everything and destroy herself for him, as evident in her pure ambitions throughout this lovely sun crested evening.

Is that love or sheer stupidity? It's hard to know, when so many lines are blurred.

"What a ridiculous question," comes her answer, because this stranger knows the answer. How could he not, if he's sought her out like this only to corner the heiress when she least expects it. An assault in every right, on both her person and her mind, but she stands unwavering in those precious boots. They ground her stance, as if Ash himself were here to provide his support. Wishing not to waste her breath further, she opts for almost defiant silence.

With a lack of noise, yet with all the ruckus in the world, the operative advances forth with a rushing force intended on hitting her center mass. The noblewoman doesn't wait for him to crash into her, to use her as some sort of kickball that would soar over the awning and possibly into the restaurant proper.


A graceful leap takes place as he encroaches on her personal space. Her slender form takes off grandly over an undamaged table nearby, which ends up being used as a shield the moment she arrives on the other side. The Frenchwoman picks it up with vigor, the timing of which has the furniture receiving the residual after blasts of the leading attack and rendering it absolutely destroyed upon impact. It falls all around them in wooden chunks, and it is through an opening that Elisabeth frees her hands and raises them above.

From her fingertips, a small ball of light generates. In no shortage of time, it swells, lighting the veranda up like a searchlight shining right on it. Around the main source forms littler lights, circulating around it like moths to a flame, the brightness casting a halo over the Blanctorche woman's head. A fierce gaze meets the hitman as she pushes the energy from her, sending it radiating in his direction so that it may try to slam harshly against him in bursting explosions that would probably hit harder than they appear to.

Among the glow stands the beautiful woman, who retains an expression of tenacity unlike any other. Like a thickly-rooted tree, she remains, unwavering, in her efforts to protect the one person that means the world to her.

COMBATSYS: Magi blocks Elisabeth's Noble Blanche EX.

[               \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////            ]
Elisabeth        0/-------/<<<<<<<|=======\====---\1             Magi

Have you really thought about it...really, at all?
There is a price to be paid for not obliging the man from the dark. It's very hard to imagine what the true and total sum of consequence could be when defying people with true resources and means. However, that's a question and a warning for a little later on, isn't it?

The crossing of blows comes lightning-fast, evolving in eyeblinks. The executive blows through the table with little aplomb, the middle-lengthed row of metal cutting through the cheap wood and metal like butter, despite having no cutting edge to speak of. The effect is less of a 'cut' and more of a 'smash,' as everything he seems to tag with the end of the baton seems not to last much longer than a few seconds later, and his momentum does the rest, blasting the executive right through the furniture like it was nothing at all, though by the time she lands behind it, his momentum has since bled off, leading him for only a moment to refigure his balance, one boot in front of the other as she raises her hands, and his eyes narrow.

Eighty nine. Ninety two.

The glow is quite fetching, even he would admit, a celestial orrery of God's light blooming in the comparably tiny dining space, and pressed into the air freed towards him in ritual aplomb. Slowly, his lips purse, as his shades show an alert, polarizing automatically to adjust to the sudden flare of light in his eyes. Ninety nine. The man taps his frames. Activate.

"Have you really thought about it..really, at all?"
Later always comes a little sooner than one could hope. Even now, there truthfully isn't much to read from him; the older, nimbler man's expression hasn't even really changed appreciably from when he first sat by her, a few minutes that seem so long ago. The blast is simply dispensed with, split at the middle and then scattered into coruscating motes, glowing embers and scintilla of force that drift down along his legs now. The glow cast from each lights his chukkas, highlighting the gleaming shine of his recent polishing efforts.

His hand lowers to his side, glove smouldering. A moment ago, it would have seemed that that would have definitely blinded him or worse, a blast of light leaving him with few alternatives from this close. But then something happened. The executive seemed to -- for a moment, catch it on the end of his baton -- before the entire corona went from pale white to dull orange, and then popped, like a bubble grown overlarge. It's actually a little bit of a mystery how he can even do that, but by the time the light returns to a seeable level, the tiny shades perched over his eyes are very clearly overactive now, words and lines tracing along her figure in his view, something barely perceptible.

Analytics confirmed. Prototyping models initiated.

"Young romantics," he says mildly. "Never thinking about what they have until it's gone."
And then he moves in, for the exact same attack as only an instant before.
Except he is now going to cut it short, and move to hit her square in the middle instead of doing anything any fancier than that, with a blow that could take the breath away from even the bystanders watching. That is, if there were any to watch.

COMBATSYS: Elisabeth counters Later Heaven v.2 ES from Magi with Etoile Filante.
- Power hit! -

[               \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////                    ]
Elisabeth        0/-------/------<|=======\===----\1             Magi

Indeed, a price is always to be paid. Most don't recognise such, and even Betty herself may not entirely be aware of the stakes she places herself in so that the wandering flamewielder may live peacefully. That her mission be fulfilled and her duties returned to that of a normal noble person. What is there to think about?

But for now...

A magnificent display is sliced to shreds, light dispersing in all directions that are away from their intended target.

Not derailed from her efforts, however, the heiress simply meets the executive with a level gaze. She finds his words strange, unfitting of whatever nonsense he believes of their image, because there is no romantic inclination in existence here. Especially not between herself and the fleeting Frenchman known as Ash Crimson.

At least, not anything she could ever be aware of at this moment.

Simply casting his ramblings aside, Elisabeth turns all attention to him. Seemingly unharmed by her recent assault, he begins to swell with energy once again before taking off in a storm towards her. Another powerful barrage awaits her, but she has no intentions of taking it on her person and letting this man beat her into submission.

That is not becoming of a Blanctorche woman.

Or any heir of her bloodline, for that matter.

Patiently, she waits for when the baton swings up, aiming for her midsection. The timing is immaculate, because somehow she is able to inch away at the last possible second to disperse into the atmosphere. Her entire form shimmers as she disappears from plain sight, though it is debatable whether the stranger's spectacles can pick up her essence or not. Regardless, the Frenchwoman side-steps and levitates through the inherited power bestowed within her, appearing a few short meters away from where she previously stood.

"Be engulfed in this great light!" Her voice booms out as the majestic power becomes a display much akin to fireworks. Blasts of sparkling white brightness explode all around her and the tiny dining space that encompasses their fight, consequently absorbing the hitman into the barrage. The environment itself jostles with the random bursts of energy, jolting chairs and cutlery every which way. Unharmed by her own assault, Elisabeth spreads her arms wide, appearing euphoric in the way her head tips back, the woman appears as though a goddess among the stars.

After all, what she bestows upon the mystery man is named just that: Shooting Star.

With the dying light, the heiress descends earthbound until her heels click softly on the surface of the wood below. Turning her head to meet with where the man stands - or lays, whichever position he may be in - her expression grows steely once more. Around her, residual sparkles glimmer in the air, giving her the appearance of an ice queen of sorts among the normalcy that Paris offers.

"Be still." The words are not a suggestion, but a command.

Glowing motes trail across the veranda, casting a glittering mien across an otherwise devastated battlefield.

His shades alert him a moment too late to the mounting energy anomaly surrounding the mounting albedo of the grandiose noble. The truth is that his shades have no problem incidentally projecting her location even at her speed, enough to refract the very light around her. This much earns her the executive's surprise, a quirk of the eyebrow the only betrayal he has time for before a field of light encompassing a truck tears a staccato chain of photonic bursts across him. It is, in fact, one of the few attacks she may note that is able to fully knock him off of his grace.

And knock him down it does, the rapid fire chain of blasts rippling along his suit and piercing through heavy merino to drive and cast the man back, throwing him like a full on truck impact through furniture, chairs and cutlery until he smashes harshly into the concrete wall just beneath the viewing windows leading back into the restaurant proper. If he is able to stay standing, it's only by the grace of that wall, and it is almost sure that on the other side of that light blast he hit the ground end over end at least once before managing to recover, using the solid wall as his only bracing.

A knife-edged grin finally crawls across his face.
Collapsing the baton, he wipes the blood from his jaw.

"Invigorating. But you're still a little off base as to whom commands whom."

And then, in the pulse-pounding silence that threads through in the medium, his heartbeat is plain again. It beats, only slightly more quickly than usual. He will have to review the prototyping modeling data with the technicians shortly. In the meantime, he checks his watch, unfolding the trim ring from the crystal face an detaching it. "Though I have to commend you on a fine ability," Magi allows, standing up to face her. "Our data did not lie about the Blanctorche. Amateurs of some notable talent, indeed. Still..."

He whispers from behind her.
"Forgive me if I go analogue."

He moves faster than should theoretically be possible, the moment between one word and the next all that is needed for him to slip by unnoticed, fey as the ghosts. But even as he whispers, drawing her attention behind her, she might catch sight of the barest light in front of her, a thin glint in the air of a barely perceptible 'connection. Were she a detailed woman, she might realize the curved glint in the air is the coils of an invisible garrotte line, trailing from the ring he unfolded from his watch.

An instant, and the man will snatch her right off her feet with a strangling wire by her slender neck.
The first few moments are always just a prelude to a greater symphony.

COMBATSYS: Magi successfully hits Elisabeth with This Angel Machine.

[                         \\\\\  < >  //////////                    ]
Elisabeth        0/-------/-======|===----\-------\0             Magi

And in an eyeblink, the ability to 'breathe' has been sealed.

Despite his frame, bordering on gaunt, the fey executive has no trouble hauling the light-borne duelist off of her feet by the tensile strength of wire, the sound of machined synthetic fibers singing in her ear with the tension her weight puts on his line. People have died this way almost assuredly, on the end of a brutal and unforgiving execution as he quietly steps forward, every muscle in his arms twisting as he mashes her roughly into the pillars holding up the veranda's awning structures, knocking delicate fleur-de-lis gold leafed icons from the surface before pinning her there.

"Ah, but for the price of camaraderie."

His knee is like a hammer in the gut, as he pulls her body tightly into his rising strike. Once. Twice. Over and again, his knee cannons into her side as he strangles her. Every glaring second energy is sensed by his displays is answered with another rising knee to the middle. Here is where she is at her most dangerous, and Magi specifically does not let her summon any more of that bright heavensward light to break the hold. Only when he retracts the line is she broken free in a lash of blood trailing on the end of an invisible line, leaving her with the barest shred of her life intact.

Right up until he takes her by the shoulder and kneels, to drive her bodily into and through the tile before giving her any room to breathe at all.

Every bit of this encounter has been eerily strange. Like a haunting, with an unmoving face that doesn't seem to react to anything done to it or around it. In a matter of a few short moments, only two emotions have successfully trespassed over the mystery man's features. The first, a hint of surprise, ghosts over and is barely noticed if one isn't looking.

The other, however...

That splitting grin, cutting deep into the executive's features like a Joker's smirk, imprints on Elisabeth's mind like a terrible nightmare...

He rises, his movements subtle and difficult to trace. The noblewoman watches carefully, eyes narrowed to a dark intensity that makes those midnight pools almost appear black as night. It may also be that the sun has almost completely set now, and the only light that remains standing through their charade is the artificial lamp posts lining the streets below and the dangling decorum that somehow has withstood throughout. They blink out on occasion, resurging with fresh electricity, providing an ominous mood to the atmosphere.

Together, they stand in a face off. Prey glaring at predator, the latter practically salivating over the prospect of their catch.

If she has anything to say about it, she will not be taken asunder by his advances, or his meagerly vague comments about his general knowledge of her heritage. As if that would intimidate her.

However, in this dimming light, it is easy to be disarmed. In a blink, the Asian man is gone from her vision, but his voice appears behind her. Before she can turn to address him, an object flits into her sight, so fast she could have missed it entirely. Startled, the Frenchwoman moves to intervene her arm between it in an attempt to push it away or slow it's advance, but the taller man is much quicker. With little room to protest, the wire fastens tightly to her jugular, effectively cutting off what remains of the passageway to her lungs.

Restricting all air flow.

Manicured nails grasp at the wire, weakly tugging so that she may receive some relief as her usually-poised voice is reduced to guttural noises. The material secured to her throat bites into sensitive skin, the sound of it's fibres stretching with the effort of being constricted there. Her eyes are wide as moons, filled with horror, and they remain so... until she begins to be guided...

Harshly, against the nearby pillars.

Beautiful decorum flutters down from the awnings and rafters, painting the floor with symbolic fleur-de-lis. Elisabeth barely has the momentum to see them trickle past her vision, as she is unable to do much else outside of the desperate flailing to escape the torturous entrapment around her neck.

And just when she thinks it can't get any worse?

It does.

He speaks his words, and then all Hell unleashes.

One strike, two strike, three, all hammering into her mid-rib area. The body protests, but the light-bearer is unable to speak of her pain in anything other than inhumane choking sounds that reflect her inability to draw breath. Surely, a rib breaks from the force of his blows, repeatedly aiming for the same area. It aches. It /burns./ Blood boiling, tears rising to her eyelids, a once-composed heiress struggles to maintain consciousness, for each hit feels as though it projects her into a steadily growing blackened abyss.

Spots dance over her vision, the edges of which starting to trickle and void into darkness. Eyes nearly rolling back, the Blanctorche woman nearly passes out... when the relief is provided, if only slightly. Slight tricks of blood stains the collar of her uniform as the garrotte wire releases the pressure. Gasping pathetically, she sucks in each breath as though it is her last...

It became dangerously close to such.

The reprieve is short-lived once the hitman grabs hold of her weakened frame and slams her down faceward into the tile. Landing cheek-down, the skin splits over the supple skin, splattering blood against the broken porcelain. There, she lays, ragged breaths drawn from a wrecked and very nearly crushed windpipe. A lucky break for her, although it certainly still hurts to draw any air through. Bruises already paint the whole circumference of her nape where the wire once was.

But... she is not down. Not yet.

In those moments after, the stranger would see her slender frame shift. First, it's the shoulders, then it's her hands, as they press flat with digits spread across the floor. Weakly, her head lifts, and she only has enough energy to really support herself in a seated position, though she slumps in a way that is unbefitting of a woman such as her. Marred, beaten.

Yet, resolute.

And then, a battered hand stretches out, bloodied fingernails gracing along the executive's arm.

The touch feels gentle, easy to brush away, but the implication is not, for underneath that simple encounter, he would feel an airlight sensation that would have him levitating off the ground. Drawn up, he would find himself drifting towards a slowly manifesting ball of light that hovers fairly high skyward. The bright sphere would explode upon his impact, sending him earthbound with incredible force that would absolutely hurt at the collision point.

COMBATSYS: Magi interrupts Ciel Etoile from Elisabeth with Backhand.

[                             \  < >  //////                        ]
Elisabeth        0/-------/=======|======-\-------\0             Magi

He breathes.

Though his fastidiousness has driven some to call him vain, the man steps away from the downed woman quickly, for once finally aware of his condition. He takes a moment - the affair of seconds - to straighten his ravaged suit coat. His hands move deftly, quickly, taking the knot of his tie and straightening it at his collar, minding the embedded razor. He pulls the wrists of his gloves, tightening them on his hands. He pulls downwards at his waist quickly, twice, tugging the creases out of his bloodstained undershirt. With some annoyance, he plucks a ruined button from his cufflink. Finally, he runs his thumbs along the line of his scalp just behind his ears, pulling the jet black length of his hair from its wild craze back along his shoulders in an orderly mane once more.

"It's just as I said, Ms. Blanctorche," the executive asides, returning to his prim nature. That heartbeat hasn't changed, dictating her as provocatively as any metronome might. "I'm nothing but accomodating. But you haven't taken a full accounting of what you could stand to lose, playing deaf, blind and dumb for this boy of yours." He notes her vitals rising in his heads up display, the combat modelling making some educated predictions. "Right now, you are of noble blood, raised from birth to be the peerless amongst peers. But, all of that is based on a system of people. Imagine if any one in the chain were lost. Family, servants. Even a favorite horse or two. A favored tailor. An estate to call home. Think about the idea of 'being safe,' and how fragile that is. How fast comfort and status can disappear. Is he that important?"

As she picks herself up, he breathes on his shades, wiping at them with a silk swatch.
"Think carefully on that. For boys like that, it's a trade you're going to have to make, again and again."
She touches him. And in reply, his hand lances down like lightning.

A thunderbolt blow is the reply to her most gentle touch. The nameless executive reaches down, fingertips threatening to slam into her side, right over where he felt her ribs break. He moves as if to pierce into her flesh, bearing down on her with a full grip, and should he gain purchase, he will not stop until he feels the bones move under the flesh. "No, no, no," he counters impatiently, as the light grows overhead, dragging on his frame. But as it does, so does he, using her body to keep him on the ground, and moving to pull her back to her riding boots. She is not down yet.
"No, you don't."

He is moving against her, to interrupt her focus before her conjured blast can level more of the veranda, and certainly the wind from that blast will crush him anew. But he remains standing. And he opens up the back of his opposite hand to hit her full on in the face before she can think to do anything even more unbecoming. And if he is of a mind to hit her, he hits hard.

"This isn't a game," the executive begins breathlessly, pausing only as his shades flash static across his vision. Whether it's a side effect of the predictive model ending or the blast of light finally interfering with the sensors, he wouldn't bother to know. "Even if you struck me dead where I stood, right here, right now, it wouldn't make a difference at all. It wouldn't save you. It wouldn't save him. You're dying on a hill made of sand."

"In a month or two, no one will know where you made your last stand at all."

It is most certain that the nameless assailant truly has no clue the lengths the Frenchwoman would go for the pursued Ash Crimson. At least, his suggestive tone implies such.

Such tomfoolery, and despite Elisabeth knowing the truth of it all, it doesn't stop her.

In fact, it is not even a question.

As silly as that may be, if ensuring the safety and well-being of the flamewielder meant she would lose all the luxuries of her life, well... it's a hefty cost. Money, prestige, the village she cares for, her family name - it means absolutely everything to her; being the last of her name has forced that hand upon her. A price debatably worth paying to most, though to this heiress, such a placehold remains only for him. No other man would receive the dedication this foolish woman has for Ash, as ridiculous as it may seem to outsiders who peer in on the nature of their relationship. Whatever that /relationship/ is, anyway.

To her, it is but an older sister looking out for her little brother...

But it really is much deeper than that. Betty just has yet to realise it for herself, and that will be a story for another time.

The haughty noblewoman has nothing to say to the stranger, especially as her touch is met with a rather rough assault to her midsection once again. An already cracked rib shifts upon impact and breaks, while another splits and threatens to shatter from the pressure. The pain is hot, but the adrenaline keeps her upright and enduring the blows, which unfortunately makes it rather easy for her to be ragdolled to her feet. Heels click weakly against the floor upon receiving her weight, only for her to topple over herself upon taking that backhanded hit to her already bloodied cheek. Crimson smears across her beautiful features, smudged over the bridge of her nose, though it isn't immediately seen as she stumbles back against another table that luckily doesn't tip or fall over when she collides with it.

"I do not believe his life is a game, nor is mine," Elisabeth manages through a strained, scratchy voice. Midnight irises lift so that she may gaze fiercely to the executive, not allowing her exhaustion to shine through. "However, your concern for me is unnecessary." A simple step forwards, she wobbles. Her once-perfectly manicured fingers extend outwards, sliced palm outstretched like she is inviting him to come to her. That is very much not the case. "If I must be the only person that stands between you and Ash, then so be it...!"

That previously-open palm shuts, embedding shrapnel further, but also suddenly glowing with brightness. Using the last reaches of her strength, out from the fist shoots flashes of light in a three-part series, all heading straight for the older gentleman in a way that is so utterly unaccommodating in juxtaposition to his supposed catering. Partway through, her legs do give out a little, causing her to tumble down onto one knee and eventually into the closest chair. As such, the final burst of light would come from her as she lay on the floor of the veranda, still conscious though barely so, with a palm laid out flat over the worn wooden surface.

COMBATSYS: Elisabeth can no longer fight.

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

COMBATSYS: Magi blocks Elisabeth's Rapide Etincelle.

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

The static flares across his vision, proving his theory. Though the techs were getting better about stream management, the predictive modelling algorithms always had a harsh terminal stream of garbage data which took a bit of time to recognize and curtail. Truthfully, it was only a split second's worth of distraction when spread out over the brief terminal period, well worth the price for a full minute or more of military-AI grade predictive modelling in a microprocessor environment. However, it did represent a calculated risk that Magi was all too aware of. A lot can happen in a split second.

Like a defeated opponent seizing on an eleventh hour surge of willpower to conjure a shotgun burst of lampfire at him. Looking up in the twisting moment, his shades flare, blinding him momentarily. The implication is almost immediate; even with honed reflexes, he is unlikely to be able to stop all three. His expression is grim.

Luckily, he doesn't have to.

The entire interceding area between the two fighters ripples, quivering in a sudden blast, of the sort that churns the guts inside your body, and the heat-haze like shimmer of condensation coming loose in the air is tear-inducingly hard to look at the executive through, as if he had pulled up an entire screen between the two of them to cut off any notion of an attack. The vibration is such that it distorts the light, causing twin flares of vaporous energy. As loud as 'sheer nothing' is, the power still drives him back an inch, the blasts causing him to skid on the soles of even the fine grip of his boots.

Vapor drools in long languid lines from the edges of his gloves, one fist resting on the knuckles of the other like a hammer. It's not really clear what he did, not at all. But he is still standing, and though he looks more than a little worse for wear, he makes it a point to stand up straight when he does. "A fine sentiment, barring the way," he finally replies, his shades now dark under the shadow of his tilted brow.

"For those wanting to be trampled underfoot."

He doesn't aggress any further the noblewoman in the dust, instead checking his watch with a mien of impatience. Sucking his teeth softly, he shakes his head, before finally pointing at her. "Go to the hospital and stay there," he tells her, before turning on his boot. The executive takes a moment, unsheathing a tiny remote at his hip before pressing a three-digit code in the control surface. There is an audible four-tone chirp, soft, on the other side of the door, which he very plainly waits to hear and complete before he dares with the handle. As he opens the door, he stops for only half a moment.

"We're going to talk again.. very soon."

COMBATSYS: Magi has ended the fight here.

Log created on 01:49:53 07/20/2021 by Magi, and last modified on 03:13:42 08/23/2021.