NFG Season One - Flexing a Muscle

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Description: Meetings of the mentors and trainees of Team Thunder continues with Ariastra taking time to spend with Buck, imparting wisdom and giving him a test of his abilities.

Ariastra had a good time with Ishika. It had been a good session, and she's been looking to have a personal session with each of the new fighters. She sees an opportunity now. Buck seems to be free. She's aware of Peng's lesson. that took place as far as she knows, their ways are different.

She goes to Buck, dressed in her usual attire. She has black leather pants, a red t-shirt with what looks like an old golden Egyptian emblem, and a blue bracelet around her left wrist. "You're coming with me. We're going to have a session. Take my hand if you please." The request might sound weird unless he talked with Ichika after her session.

Assuming he gives her his hand, soon he would feel a weird kind of feeling. It feels like chi, yet. One moment they are where they are. The next, there are somewhere else. A sort of a grove with thick emerald grass. What also catches the attention is the natural fountain of water gushing forth from stones. It's a peaceful environment. Not as peaceful as a century ago, but still a good place to be in.

"Ok Buck, this will do. Take a breath, get used to the surrounding, and we can start this. Unless you have questions." It does not start the same as Ichika, but of course, Buck is not Ichika.

Buck is indeed free, and when he's found he's sitting on the floor, looking down at a pebble in his palm as if it held some deep answer he was searching for. Absent his jacket for once, since he's just lounging about, he's dressed as usual in his jeans and today it's paired with a black tanktop. He looks up as Ariastra approaches, slipping the pebble into his pocket.

He doesn't argue with the order given him, and just nods and gets to his feet. "'Course." He says easily, though the offer to take her hand only stalls him a moment before he reaches out to do so.

He stumbles a little once he suddenly finds himself in a new location, turning about once or twice as if making sure he's not hallucinating. Once the initial shock is gone, he's looking around a bit more critically. "It feels familiar." He murmurs. "But it ain't the same one, just the same feel." He crouches and puts his hand to the ground, shaking his head. "Weird." He grins at Ariastra, then shrugs. "Well, curious how you did that, but I don't think that needs an explaination right now." He says lightly and a touch jokingly.

She nods "Yes, this would not help you for the coming fights and would not help you at the moment with your skills. This is something for another time. Let's just say on a deep philosophical level everything is connected. So then everything is a step away." despite not wanting to delve into that. She gives a smile. It's not wrong to be curious about new things when at the right place and time.

"So. If I understand correctly. Your powers allow you to summon animals' qualities into you. That's correct?" She's trying to get him to describe it in his own words, perhaps even correct her if it's not what he feels if he believes it's not what it is."

As she awaits an answer, she takes a seat in the grass directly and a quick nod toward him permits him to do the same. After that, she is quiet, letting him gather the words he's going to use in answer.

"Um, yeah, I'm beginning to get that whole interconnectedness thing." Buck says casually. No doubt some make assumptions about him based on growing up on a farm and his lax, drawling speech, but he does seem to pick up on things fairly quickly.

The description has him frowning and shaking his head. "Close, but, summonin' ain't the right word. That makes it feel like it's somethin' outside of me. It's more internal, like, well.." He scrunches his nose and furrows his brow trying to think. "Like discoverin' you have a new muscle you never noticed before and flexing it. Takes work to figure out how to make it do what you want, but when you do." He holds up his hand, giving his usualy quick demonstration of his abilities. He curls his fingers and his hand becomes more bestial, nails sharpening into thick black claws, fur sprouting up his arm towards his elbow. Then he relaxes and his hand returns to normal in near a blink.

"The more the change, the harder it is." He lowers his hand back to his side, thumbs hooking into his belt.

Ariastra nods her head at Buck. He has a brain, and it can be stimulated just as much as his fighting body. She likes that. The mind is almost always important in a fight. Peng's teaching probably helped set his thoughts on that too.

She nods her head again. This time when he explains his power. She's happy he takes the time to explain, correcting her. He knows best about himself. There is also a look of recognization in her eyes, like she met someone like that before a long time ago. "Thank you for the explanation. It's good you explain when someone, even a teacher gets it wrong, and it affects you directly. You know better what you feel and what you are. A good point for you." She observes the change, and she nods her head a third time. "Do you get tired from changing, maintaining the change, or both?" She's aware he mentions more changes equals a harder time, but she wants to know how he sees his powers.

Once he answers, she moves a little bit to a different part of the same subject. You didn't always have your powers, as far as I am aware. At least now in a capacity you could use. Did you feel like a part of you was missing before, even if you didn't know what? Did it change who you are at a soul level? Who are you, Buck? There is no wrong answer." Again she goes silent and waits, so he can think.

"Yeah, when I say it's like flexing a muscle, I mean it in more ways than one. Keeping the change means I have to keep the muscle flexed. But, the more often a practice and do it, the easier it gets. Most of the ones I use in fights I've practiced enough that I can do them without much thinkin' about it."

He laughs softly. "All the muscle talk makes me sound like a meathead." But his smile is jovial as he pokes fun at himself.

"I think it was always there, I've always been good with the animals on the farm." He scuffs his boot in the grass as he thinks back on it. "It was in a place like this where it woke up. Had a vision of someone, I knew he was my ancestor getting the same power right where I was standin', and it just sort of woke up." He doesn't talk much about that moment, and it's ovious it makes him a little uncomfortable to do so, but if there's a group that would understand, it's the Thunder mentors, and the reason he picked this team.

"My soul? That's me. No matter what I do, I always feel like me, but when I let it all go, this is what I always come back to." He motions to himself. "I guess sensei Peng You would call that my essence." He says, thinking on his previous lesson.

Ariastra listens to Buck's description as he explains. It brings a smile to her face. He has a good understanding of himself. She smiles even more with a hint of a smirk when he claims he sounds like a meathead. "On the surface it may sound so, and it's amusing you see it too, but deeper down, it's anything but. This explanation, you put your mind to it. Trying to put into simple words something that may be very complicated for someone who does not affinity with magic, chi, or any other way one may want to call it.

When he explains it probably was always inside him, she nods. As far as she knows, that was the same for someone else she knew. When he says he recognizes the place as somewhere similar, she speaks a little. "There are rarely real coincidences in this world. In any chaos, there is order. In any order, there is chaos. If there is one, there is the other." She pauses, giving him time to ask a question if he desires at one moment. Now or later. She figures the pause is clue enough.

Your essence is a good world. But the 'you' now, and the 'you' in a few years will change. Your essence will be the same, yet different too. Because growth, in all forms, brings changes. Be growth of the body, growth of the mind, growth with information, or any kind of growth. Even death itself is growth.

She gets back on her feet. "Is there anything else you would like to add to this? You've answered all my questions with patience and detail. It's good to take the time to talk and learn."

Buck lifts his arms, crossing his chest and looking upwards he goes quiet and contemplative for a moment. "Honestly, it took me the better part of the last year to figure that much out. I feel like I'm makin' my way through a maze blindfolded and only by luck do I find a way without running face first into a wall."

He laughs. "And there's been lots of walls." His head drops, trading a view of the sky for one of his boots. "And I did it the same way I learned to fight. I went out into the barn and practiced. Everythin' I know I taught myself." He sighs and shakes his head, floppy brown hair swaying a bit as he does so. "Mystic stuff? It just ain't my normal wheelhouse, if you get my meanin'."

"Guess I'm just tryin' to say. Having teachers and learnin' something that ain't schoolwork, it's gonna be new for me, and probably a bit frustratin'. But I'll give it what I got."

"If you want to learn, you will learn. You're not stupid, and you're not a meathead." She looks around, gazing at the water fountain for a moment. "Self-taught can only get you so far, for most people anyway. It's always good to have people teaching you. If for nothing more than to give you a different point of view. Just your own is usually too narrow. Think of it like cameras filming different angles of the same scene. If you only look at one camera, you will miss things the others are picking up. Always try to expand your mind, it is another muscle that needs training and is very useful in a fight. Your instinct will be another one. If you think you should be doing something, and you have this deep feeling inside you shouldn't do it, and should do something completely different, then you should follow your instinct. As long as you can make the difference between instinct and fear."

She takes a deep breath and turns back toward you. "We've been talking, and now it's time to show me what you got. Although we will still be talking while we fight." A small scythe appears in each of her hands, green, almost not quite like the grass around, leaning instead toward turquoise, but more green in there than blue.

COMBATSYS: Ariastra has started a fight here.

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Ariastra         0/-------/-------|

COMBATSYS: Buck has joined the fight here.

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Ariastra         0/-------/-------|=------\-------\0             Buck

"Well, I am a meathead, just not all the time." Buck wraps his knuckles on the side of his head, grinning once again at his self-teasing. That easy personality of his right on display. But once again, he takes in the lesson offered him and files it away to reflect on later.

As the lesson moves on to something more physical, he nods. He takes just a moment to crouch down and unlace his boots, kick his feet out of them and setting them aside along with his socks. After a moment's thought, he adds his tank top to the small pile with a shrug to Ariastra. "Sorry, I have a bad habit of ruinin' my clothes in fights."

He takes on a brawler's stance as he finally gets down to business. Though he hangs back for just a second, figuring out the answer to this puzzle. He knows he's going to get trounced, but he's also determined to make a good show, so direct or clever is the question. Finally he grins and launches himself forward. His hands stay open as he sends in his first open palm strike, then a second, and a third. He's not quick, but it's clear he cares more for landing the blow than having strength behind it, as each palm strike comes with a chi-fueled burst of spider webbing to entangle Ariastra and perhaps slow her down a touch if he's lucky.

COMBATSYS: Ariastra fails to interrupt Spin Doctor from Buck with Indestructible Pain.

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Ariastra         0/-------/------=|==-----\-------\0             Buck

Ariastra can't resist. "Sometimes you're a vegetable-head then." She can't resist the (bad?) joke. She likes him though. He fits Team Thunder perfectly, just like Ichika does.

She waits for him as he gets ready. "If your jeans get ruined, you will get another pair from me. I promise. Gotta keep you fed, and clothed, at least. She smirks.

Once he's ready, she gets in a stance too, but she waits for him to strike her first. When he starts doing palm strikes, she feels something from them. She's just not sure what. Fighting Ichika with her Katana, she pretty much knows what to expect. She has felt enough Katana on her body in her long life. But something like Buck does, does not happen that often. So she decides to break through his attack to feel it, to do her attack, instead of blocking it or dodging first.

She does so, getting hit by his palms. She is pleasantly surprised when it stops her long enough to not attack, as she planned. "Ok, Buck. Point to you. Go on."

She says, observing him. She might still be trapped or not. Either way, she is not nervous about it, she's simply a teacher observing a protege at the moment. She feels the slight stinks of the palm strikes too but lets nothing show on her cool exterior. Although in her mind, she thinks if she was at her full power, she wouldn't have felt anything.

There's no hesitation at landing the strikes, but his expression clearly moves to a touch of shock and perhaps skepticism that he landed the hit, but either way he doesn't let that deter or slow him. Though he does take a couple steps back. He's not quick on his feet, that much is clear, but he's built for strength, not speed.

The cool calmness of his mentor has him grinning, but he's in a fight now, and enjoying himself. This is what he lives for.

The reason for the backpedal becomes obvious as he plants his feet and lowers his head. There's no subtlety in what comes next, his neck thickening as his features become slightly more bovine as he launches himself into a direct head-first charge, which may seem foolish at first. But his change isn't done, and it's the wide pair of bullhorns sprouting from either side of his head that suddenly becomes the real problem.

COMBATSYS: Ariastra interrupts Bullheaded ES from Buck with Unreal Pain.

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Ariastra         0/-------/---====|====---\-------\0             Buck

Ariastra enjoys this. There is a lot to tell about a person in how they fight and in reactions to what happens around them. She sees Buck going for what seems a charge. It's shows her right when the transformation occurs. Whether she can move now or not, she stays in the path, but she brings both her scythe together to form a double-scythe staff. Then she spins it around her neck, just in time to slash with one die of the double scythe, and the dumb end hitting his chin.

When she gets his herself, she does let a oof. Getting bullhorned is not the most pleasant thing in the world, even if you expect it and know how it feels. She gets pushed backward also but brings her double-scythe with her. "Even if someone seems trapped and defenseless, they may not be. Be wary of deception. Listen to all your senses and your instinct. You can't stop an attack you do not know is coming."

Her voice is strained slightly as she is dealing with the new pain, but she still doesn't care. It's just there.

Luckily, bull skulls are a bit more durable than his own, so when he takes the blow he winces but shakes his head, muzzle and horns snapping back into his human features as he does so. "Like gettin' kicked by a mule." He jokes with a short laugh.

He's not about to let Ariastra back up too much more, brown eyes fixating on his mentor as his expression gorws just a tad more serious. Somehow he's managing to keep pressue, likely do to his opponent holding back, but he knows the moment he loses it, he's probably done for. So he's moving in for another blow.

There's no fancy tricks or changes to Buck's body with this one, he's going back to his brawler roots as he stampedes himself in close and launches a thrusting jab with his right hand balled into a fist, bare feet sliding a few inches across the dewey grass as he lets his blow lead his momentum.

COMBATSYS: Buck successfully hits Ariastra with Aggressive Strike.

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Ariastra         0/-------/--=====|=====--\-------\0             Buck

Ariastra divide her double scythe back into 2 scythes again. Perhaps she did not expect him to keep the pressure, perhaps it's a game alright, a different learning experience. But she does not move fast enough to be out of the way of the blow. She simply takes it better, into the arm, instead of the chest, where it was going before. "You have the advantage. You keep the pressure. Not bad. That was a good idea for this moment." Then energy starts building up around her, and it's like she explodes, energy-burning all around. Her eyes are more fiery, even if they remain calm. She's pushing her body right now, but she's not angry. She wants to know what he will do now, with added pressure.

Then, out of the blue, she throws her left scythe high into the air charging it with electricity. At the same moment, she strikes Buck's left shoulder with the other scythe. If she succeeds, the point enters his shoulder, and then the scythe in the air shoots a lightning bolt of electricity straight at the other scythe which then travels inside Buck's body. Once that's done, she removes the impaled scythe and catches the other scythe, pulled back by gravity.

COMBATSYS: Buck interrupts Endless Power from Ariastra with Inkblot ES.

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Ariastra         1/-------/=======|=======\=------\1             Buck

"Opportunities multiply as they are seized." Buck quotes from Sun Tzu as Ariastra compliments him, his drawl certainly adding an interesting flavor to the Chinese strategist.

Even though it was a punch, it was one he committed himself to with its aggressive nature, leaving himself open to retaliation, so when it comes, he's bracing himself against it, tensing his whole body as he narrows his eyes, then smiles. "Sorry about the clothes."

And as the scythe comes down to hook into his shoulder, a cloud of pitch black squid ink erupts around him right from his skin, held aloft and swirling in the air by a quick infusion of a wave of chi that bursts out of him at the same moment. It makes him harder to pinpoint, but there's still the feeling of scythe entering flesh inside the cloud, followed by the zap of electricity.

He backs away as the cloud begins to dissipate, leaving blotches of ink on his skin and jeans, though his shoulder is intact, instead it's his left arm that took the brunt of the attack, blood runing down the limb, skin reddened from the energy strike. But he avoided the strike to his core, keeping him in the fight. "Knew I picked the right team."

"That's correct, a great man." She adds with a smile.

She isn't sure what he means specifically, but those clothes will be ok, and she doesn't fight to keep her clothes fine anyway. "Don't worry."

As she continues her attack, she doesn't expect the ink to come at her. Maybe someone else would have stopped the attack because of it. But she continues, using some instinct, as she talked earlier, to hit something. She can't see, but there are more senses than just her eyes. "Well done, you took a risk. This time it pays off. As long as you understand the risk vs reward. If it's worth it, do it. If it's not don't." She grins as this is fun so far. She knows her clothes are dirty, but it's fine. Her eyes dissipate the inks, however. Another magic 'trick'

Before she takes her next attack, she says. "Why do you think Team Thunder chose you? Why were you contested?" She brings her scythes into a double one again and spins it as she talks. The air around it goes colder by the second. When she finishes asking, she jumps in the air and slams one end of the double-scythe into the ground, sending a deluge of ice at them. "I didn't plan to do this, to go this far, but I think you can take it." She takes a deep breath. She's feeling the effect of the fight. Buck is showing real good potential.

COMBATSYS: Ariastra successfully hits Buck with Fantastical Destruction.

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Ariastra         0/-------/------=|=======\=------\1             Buck

Buck tries to bring up his arms in a defensive posture, but his left arm is still a tad too stiff to cooperate fully and the ice finds cracks in his defense, washing over him and pushing him back, though he digs his feet into the grassy terrain to keep himself upraight.

He winces as he drops his guard, though even the direct hit doesn't spoil him mood, though his smile might have a bit of a wild edge to it now. "From what I can guess, I had something interestin'. And I may not be a Darkstalker, but not many are gonna look at me and not draw a line right to them, werewolves 'specially." He shakes his left arm and flexes it working some feeling into the numbed muscles.

Then he's launching forward, bare feet pounding away on the ground. He moves as if he's about to go in for another aggressive punch but at the last moment drops, bracing himself with his arm as he lashes out with his foot in a kick towards Ariastra's legs.

COMBATSYS: Ariastra dodges Buck's Medium Kick.

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Ariastra         0/-------/------=|=======\====---\1             Buck

Ariastra sees she has done damage this time. She's having fun, but it's time to put a stop to it. She doesn't stop him from attacking though. She answers as she sees him do his attack. "You were the only person who could make this whole. You all fit in this like a puzzle. There couldn't be any other choices. You all agreed without perhaps knowing what you were agreeing for, as you are all here.

She moves out of the way and makes two scythes again, using one scythe low to circle Buck's leg. It looks like she could have pulled him off his feet if she wanted, but she does not.

"Ok enough. You did well. Better than expected. You used a moved that made sense and didn't try to impress me by going for your strongest move right away. I hope this has been a learning experience for you. Do you need some healing?" Perhaps it's another test. See if he can stop himself in the middle of the fight when the adrenaline is flowing.

COMBATSYS: Ariastra takes no action.

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Ariastra         0/-------/-----==|=======\====---\1             Buck

%Buck was already flowing into his next move, hands bracing himself with his palms flat agains the ground, the kick being a way to buy himself ome time for the next assault which he seems to need time to build up. Green scales begin forming over his face and shoulders as he starts to take in a massive amount of air, enough that his chest starts to expand beyond what it should be able to, but then as Ariastra calls stop he jerks to a halt.

Air rushes from his lungs strong enough to bend grass and leaves away from him, the scales retreating back to normal human skin. He stands, a touch wobbly until he can spread his feet apart and give himself a semblence of balance. The offer of healing has him looking down at his left arm. "Nothin' a nice long soak in a tub and some aspirin won't fix. But maybe I should, since sensei Peng You wants me to spar Chevy, and it'd probably be best if I was in top shape for that."

He bends over and puts his hands on his knees, winded and catching his breath now that his adrenaline was fading. "Thank you, it was an enlightnin' lesson."

Ariastra sees him stop. That is a good stop and good control. "Good control. Another thing important in a fight. If you need to stop, stop. Even if it's because you're losing. Fight another day, and don't get a career-ending injury, just so you can prove you're great. This has been enlighting Buck." She smiles.

She cracks her neck, it's loud, but she probably doesn't worry about killing herself if she does it wrong. She then moves to Buck and puts her hand on him. Chi can be felt flowing into him if he is sensitive to it, and the wounds close. She leaves a little bit of it that will heal on its own, just as a reminder, but Buck should still be able to fight correctly.

"You are welcome for the lesson. Do you have any questions? Otherwise, ponder this whole thing for a bit, catch your breath, and once you're ready, I will take us back to where you are supposed to be. I enjoyed what I saw. Good job. If you need anything or have any concerns, you can come see me. That will also apply after this whole thing is over." She taps his shoulder.

COMBATSYS: Ariastra has left the fight here.

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Buck             1/---====/=======|

COMBATSYS: Buck has ended the fight here.

"Wasn't sure I could with that one, made me a little light headed." Buck stands up straighter once he has his wits back and nods to Ariastra as she approaches him.

His body eagerly soaks up the chi, and seems to almost want to knit itself back together, cooperating easily with the healing. Though Buck's only reaction is a small shiver as if suddenly dunked in ice water. He bounces on his feet and moves his arms, then breaks out in a grin. "Thanks, I'm less sore than if I had spent the day in the saddle." He adds admiringly.

He shakes his head. "None at the moment, though maybe after I've had some thinkin' time. I'm glad I'm not a disappointing pick. I know it was a bit blind." He does walk over to the fountain, gathering some water in his cupped hands. Keen eyes perhaps spotting a bit of webbing between his fingers to help keep the water from leaking as he brings it up to his lips for a sip. It takes a couple handfuls to quench his thrist, then one more is splashed in his face and through his hair. "I think I'm ready." He says, before walking over to collect his things, tucking them under one arm rather than getting them back on.

"You did. That's what matters". She nods her head. "It's no problem. I am not trying to destroy any of you." She smirks. "That wouldn't make me a very good teacher.

She lets him do his things, but when he's ready, she takes her hand. "Back we go then. Do not forget the importance of your pick. If we didn't want you, we would not have contested. There was only one person I didn't want on the team, and we didn't pick them." She doesn't say who though. And soon, they are just back where they started. The end of another session.

Log created on 12:04:42 06/05/2023 by Buck, and last modified on 04:05:10 06/06/2023.