Zero - Shadaloo vs NESTS: Loyalty

Description: During Shadaloo's assault on NESTS' high-tech cargo shipment, a group of NESTS reinforcements are accosted by Shadaloo agents on their way to the assault. While the predators close in on the transport, one of NESTS' elite agents enters the fray to try and bail them out in time to offer the rest of the cartel's forces some much needed back-up.

The NESTS convoy is in dire peril, and at least one wave of reinforcements is already gone. Not just stopped, not routed; gone, without vital sign to be found among them. Even the transponder signals from the vehicles they were in are faded, if not absent.

"Delta, I'm transmitting new coordinates," Zero murmurs as he intently studies a holographic map of the streets below his command 'copter. "Proceed cautiously. Reduced speed; our... remaining agents in the field need support; I need you to be well enough to provide it."

Burning rubber and tire squeals fill the street leading up to the highway as a quartet of motorcycles now have to find some way to /cautiously/ cut in and out of oncoming traffic while speeding towards the on-ramp. One of the riders swears under her helmet as she's nearly swiped off the road; most of the drivers around them are a little too pre-occupied with explosions dotting the highway ahead to pay the motorcyclists much mind, which is great for helping the armed riders make it to their target undetected, but problematic for helping them do so without broken necks.

The NESTS aircraft has been sweeping alongside the highway from a respectable distance since the attack began. Initially, it was sent as part of the convoy to give the cartel's head researcher a relatively safe perch from which to accompany it; as soon as the shooting began, though, the pilot took immediate evasive action to pull the lone chopper out of the crossfire. With a little stealth tech, the aforementioned distance, and conservative speeds, the helicopter has managed to avoid detection since then at the cost of removing itself and its occupant from being a factor in the chaos unfolding beneath them.

Observing and trying to direct from afar clearly isn't cutting it, though; as Zero stands and turns towards the helicopter's door, he has to remind himself that even if Jason is gone, Nameless isn't.

It only helps so much, but at least he'll have a chance to balance the scales a little--for the cartel's sake as much as Jason's.

"If - when - you meet resistance, pull back; keep your wits about you. I promise that you will not be alone for long." As Zero braces himself in the doorway, the pilot follows his cue by pitching back towards the highway. As soon as he commits to the sharp movement, the air around the 'copter ripples, shimmers, then parts to reveal the swiftly maneuvering craft.

Meanwhile, amidst the chaos starting to spread through the streets of Southtown, an aged-looking black 1997 Nissan Altima is parked along the side of the road near the corner leading into a side street. The front window is rolled down, allowing the sound of Third Eye Blind's "Semi-Charmed Life" to waft through the sounds of gunfire and screeching tires.

Meanwhile, the car's owner is leaning against the hood - a slightly tall, dark-haired man, wearing a long black trenchcoat, a pair of reflective sunglasses, and a red scarf around his neck, currently pulled down so that he can smoke the cigarette held between his gloved fingers. Lynx - as those who work with the man would know him - would appear relatively innocuous, save for the fact that he /does/ appear so innocuous - just puffing away on that cigarette as the traffic around him goes to shit. But while he may appear to simply be staring into nothing, the truth is that the eyes behind the glasses are carefully sweeping the motorway.

"We've got reinforcements incoming from the north side. At least four ground units on motorcycles and a possible chopper. We've lost visual on the chopper. We need those reinforcements intercepted," a radio crackles in Lynx's ear. As it does, the first motorcycle comes into view, weaving in and out of traffic. The operative flicks the cigarette to the ground, crushing it under the heel of his boot, and raises his hand to adjust his sunglasses, surreptitiously speaking into his sleeve in a gravelly baritone as he does so.

"This is Lynx. I've got a visual on the cyclists. Moving to intercept."

With that, Lynx pulls the scarf up over his face and strides out slowly toward the center of the intersection. As he does, a misty white cloud begins to form from his breath. Nearly indistinct, visually, from the smoke of the cigarette the man was just smoking - but it's a mist that hangs in the air rather than billowing outward. Drivers are forced to swerve around him, and in his path a trail of frosty footprints slowly melt.

Finally, as the agent in the coat reaches the center of the road, he comes to a stop. The mist around him becomes thicker as concentrated, freezing chi energy emanates from his body. The energy is concentrated downward - into the road. A light vapor starts to rise from it as a patch of slick black ice starts to rapidly spread from beneath the soles of Lynx's boots, soon covering the entire intersection just seconds before the first motorcycle can hit it. A truck careens past, the driver panicking as he loses control, horn honking wildly.

Meanwhile, in Lynx's hand, a crystalline shaft of ice begins to form, stretching out until it's taken on the shape of a long spear. The agent takes hold of the weapon in both hands as he faces the direction the motorcyclist should be coming from...

Waiting in the wings in the alleyways nearby where Lynx is on point, there are several rather...rough looking but otherwise unassuming men waiting along the alleys and around the corners near the intersection. They seem normal for the most least, outside of the unnatural eye color some of them have, and the expression that, despite trying to be as casual as possible, look unnaturally flat, as if robotic, or stuck on neutral.

It's only when Lynx finally hits the street and starts to ice it over that they start to move, several of them sliding out pipes or batons hidden in their clothing, while others uncork some makeshift firebombs.

"Move, the bell's rung. Time to earn your payday," radios crackle in the hidden earwigs each of the thugs wear, tuned into a voice form the command center. "Try to herd them in," comes the authoritative voice. As that order comes down, crashes of bottles and rushes of flames erupt along the side streets just before the slickened interception Lynx has taken up as his domain, the idea clearly to block them off should anyone try an immediate detour on their own accord.

Back at the Shadaloo command center, Vyle frowns. The chopper Lynx spoke about is gonna be problematic, considering his guys clearly aren't anti-air personnel in any manner or sort. "Meat 3, keep an eye upward, look for any sign of that chopper. Everyone else, get ready to be on the bikers once they come through."

"Quickly!" Zero's shouting from the twisting helicopter. It's moving so fast and turning so sharply that he briefly ends up more or less parallel with the ground in short order, and this doesn't seem to stop him from giving orders in the slightest while it lasts. "We need to be closer!" he exclaims, bladed skirt fluttering wildly in the wind as he braces himself in the 'copter's doorway. "I need to be able to /see/ them!"

The motorcycle riders, meanwhile, would probably be happy with just being able to see. The cloud of mist spreading out before all of them is a problem, because finding a path through increasingly chaotic traffic at a hundred miles per hour is tricky /enough/ without spontaneously appearing mist. One of the riders - having managed to cut the most efficient path through the other motorists - plunges into the swirling mist and vapor ahead of the others.

After gliding over the icy path with a short, jerky twist that defies its rider's attempts at controlling it, the whole bike flips into the air, tumbling forward a couple of times before motorcyclist, then motorcycle slam right into the side of the desperately honking truck.

The other three might not be able to /see/ her wiping out, but the skidding and crashing up ahead make them all think twice about barreling into the mist, not that their group decision to violently shift directions and ride against the flow of traffic is much better. The surface streets are close by; if they can just survive for a few precious seconds, they can--

--watch their chances of escaping go up in suddenly erupting flame. Finally, brakes are hit as two of them try to force their bikes out of traffic; things are beginning to slow down somewhat as more and more cars find that the way ahead is completely unsafe, but they'd rather not be in the middle of it as they figure out how to deal with their bikes having been rendered less than useful. The third just goes for it, speeding /into/ the flames and trusting his carefully cultivated control over fire chi to protect him.

Which, to his credit, it /does/, but it isn't as readily effective against glass or thugs.

Zero's chopper doesn't get him in range of the whole mess until the tail end of it, and even then, it's hard to figure out where his people are in all of it. He hears plenty, though: he lead rider's angry and surprised pre-death swears, the calls of "FIRE!" from the others, squealing tires. Crumpling metal. Battle cries. Gurgling blood.

"Towards the fire," he quietly orders. "Keep a safe distance; as soon as I'm clear, pull back." The pilot complies, and soon enough, the chopper is swooping towards a patch of fire, aiming to get just close enough to let Zero leap clear and land near it. A high-pitched mechanical whine fills the air around him as he hurtles towards the ground, and a crackling field of protective black chi springs up around him to help cushion the eventual fall.

The spear was a back-up plan - added reach in case Lynx needed to defend himself against one of the incoming riders. When the woman on the motorcycle loses control and flies past, the trenchcoat-sporting agent's head slowly turns to follow her. The mist begins to dissipate slowly as the source of the icy energy causing it to propagate through the intersection eases in intensity. The spear is raised as Lynx approaches the crash site... and then it's lowered again.

"Lynx here. The lead cyclist has been dispatched. Think I saw the others diverting from Frozen Foods into the meat section."

Tossing the spear aside and letting it shatter across the pavement, Lynx turns back toward the flames that are burning along the roadside, faint trails of white vapor still rising from him as he emerges from the frozen intersection and starts to make his way toward the sounds of battle. As he does, though, something catches his attention, despite the chaos of the surroundings. The man's head tilts slightly upward, toward the helicopter, and whoever - or whatever - is descending from it. It isn't the noise that's drawn his attention, but that surge of energy. He reaches up, fingers gingerly grasping the frames of his sunglasses and adjusting them slightly.

"Lynx again. Got visual on the chopper again. Moving closer." A brief pause, and then, in a lower, more cautionary tone, he adds, "Something's coming down. I'd appreciate some backup."

Lynx's trenchcoat flutters lightly in the wind as he continues toward where Zero is making his descent, sprinkles of frost whipping through the air behind him. At this point, there's little to disguise his responsibility for the sudden flash freeze behind him.

It's rather amazing how effective simple molotovs and firebombs can be, when used properly. As two of the bikers are herded in and forced to try and find yet another detour, the Brute Force mob ends up on them as swiftly as possible. It's not quite as fancy or as awe inspiring as Lynx's magic, but again, practicality and effectiveness can speak volumes.

The fourth biker, the one who simply tries to run through the flames? Well, it's definitely one way to do it, but fire chi can only protect you so much when you end up getting a direct hit from a molotov.

At the command center, Vyle smiles. "Good work. Guess you all aren't useless after all," he says, directing traffic as he keeps a close ear on the radio. HOwever, when LYnx chimes in, he scowls. "Crap. If he's calling for backup...hurry up and take care of the bikers. THrow them into whatever, get them and their bikes out of the way, then converge on Lynx's position. DOn't jump in, see what it is first," he orders. A few of the non-'touched' thugs roll their eyes, getting in a few more pipe shots on cracked helmets. The others, the ones with the weird eyes and blank expressions? They do as they're told robotically, slinking through the alleys and observing, waiting for their new bogey.

The brave biker who plunged into the fire lets out a fresh scream as flames - his own waning flickers and the hot orange from the molotov - spreads across his Brutally beaten body. He's fully consumed in a matter of seconds, at which point the fires spring high for a brief moment before settling as the biker breathes his last.

The two who abandoned their bikes are a little better off, at least, in that they have the dubious luxury of facing the thugs coming for them with the ground under their feet. They're shaken up and badly outnumbered, but one manifests crackling electricity around his feet and wind begins to howl around the other as she holds her arms out at her sides; it's enough to perhaps make things interesting, maybe even prolong them.

Meanwhile, Zero hits the ground like a warhead, landing on his feet in the middle of a shallow crater. The flames nearby twist wildly as the force of his landing blows past them, but they manage to bounce back as he hikes out of the crater, then begins stalking towards the two remaining life signs. Ribbons of black chi undulate around his body for the first few steps before settling in against his person and flowing along the silver lines of his battlesuit; there's nothing remotely subtle about it between the somehow dark, but no less visible glow and supernaturally perceptible surges of power.

He registers Lynx's frosty approach towards him with a quick twitch of his head, but that just motivates him to hasten his approach towards the cornered bikers; he doesn't start running, but his steady and determined walk somehow picks up speed until he might as well be sprinting anyway.

"Allow me extract my people unharmed," he calls with a quick glance towards Lynx, "and perhaps this situation won't get any uglier than it already has!"

Whatever Lynx may think of Zero, or the power that the NESTs administrator openly displays, it's unreadable behind the Shadaloo operative's scarf and sunglasses. Lynx does slow to a halt, though, as Zero tries to continue past him with the offer of negotiation on behalf of the NESTs bikers now cornered by Vyle's minions.

"I'm assuming that you mean the biker gang that just drove through here?" he calls out to Zero, voice only slightly muffled by the scarf concealing his features. As he speaks, the wind around him begins to pick up, shards of ice quickly collecting in a localized blizzard of sorts. "We're just holding on to them until traffic control can arrive. Speeding kills, you know. Well, at least, the girl in the front knows now, in any case."

Lynx's hidden gaze turns up toward the helicopter that's starting to pull away from the scene.

"Speaking of traffic violations, I'm not sure that that pilot is licensed to fly that thing this low. Do you think you could ask him for me? Actually, I'll get him to come down here and ask him myself. Feel free to go find your people, though. Don't let me stop you."

With that, Lynx throws up an arm in the direction of the chopper. The blizzard that was whirling around him suddenly funnels upward toward the air vehicle. It's not enough force to pull the chopper out of the sky, but it is enough to cause the temperature around the vehicle to start rapidly dropping - and risk crashing if the pilot doesn't find somewhere to land, fast.

Now not a contingency that Vyle wanted to have to plan for. Mind, it makes sense that a bigwig might be monitoring a convoy like this. Doesn't mean he wanted to see something like this. Scowling in the command center, he flattens his hands on the desk, as he hears one of his men describe the guy that just touched down and started negotiations with Lynx. "S***. Hang back. Keep the guys you have alive down, if they're any use as bargaining chips," he orders before leaning back in his chair, rubbing the bridge of his nose.

After all, the goons aren't really high level enough to take someone on this level on. Not without help, anyway. And while some of the thugs are still free spirit enough, they know well enough after that impressive display to follow orders. THe remaining bikers are held fast, one with a pipe across his throat, the other with a boot against her helmet.

The remaining ones hang in the wings, the last few molotovs they have kept at the ready. If they have any hope of doing anything, IF They do anything against the bigwig, they'll have to attack in tandem.

The rotors grind terribly as ice creeps across and through every bit of their inner workings. The pilot struggles with the controls, trying to force a craft that was pulling up into what now has to be a controlled dive towards a rooftop big enough to hold it. Despite his best efforts, he can't /quite/ flatten out the way that he needs to though, and as metal cracks to give way to bursting ice crystals, the helicopter eventually 'lands' with one skid crushing a parked car and the other hovering in mid-air for a few moments before crashing down to the ground.

A moment after that, the door creaks open, allowing the conscious, but badly battered and reeling pilot to hang partly out of the 'copter.

"Report!" Zero transmits to the pilot with a tap of his ear; no response. He briefly slows down as his glower intensifies on Lynx; the bikers can't afford the detour, though, and the chopper is already down.

"Animal," he snaps at the ice manipulator. "Pray that my--"

Zero turns his head forward as he speaks and stops when he sees the hostage crisis a few yards ahead of him; moving, talking, everything.

"Release them!" he sharply instructs as the glowing chi flowing along his battlesuit surges with a low, sustained bass note and he clenches his fists at his sides. "They're no longer a part of this fight!" The one with the pipe across his throat tries, vaguely, to twist away; the woman on the ground groans beneath the boot on her helmet. Neither of them can do much else after their time alone with the Brute Force Mob, though.

Lynx's arm lowers again to his side. The agent's sunglasses don't follow the course of the helicopter's descent, but rather remain fixed impassively on Zero himself. A faint puff of condensation forms in the air with each steady breath that the Shadaloo agent exhales. He does tilt his head just a little to one side at the sound of the helicopter crushing a car under a landing strut.

"Huh. I think that might've been my car. I suppose it would be... karmic, if it was."

He raises a hand to adjust his sunglasses as he addresses Vyle.

"Control, the chopper situation's been dealt with. I understand that the Meat Squad have some bargaining chips on hand. The man I'm speaking with is interested in negotiating their release. Do we have terms that I can offer here?"

He pauses a moment to give a nod toward Zero. "Who should I say is requesting their release?"

Keeping the drivers as still and held as they can, Meat Squad continues to hang back. The chopper crashing sets a few of them on edge, but they continue to hold position. It's clear though that most of them aren't terribly comfortable being called out by Zero once he spots them.

Vyle, back at command, scowls a little. "Terms...keep him talking, I'm gonna try and figure SOMETHING out," he mutters. It's going to be a tightrope to decide what they can squeeze out of their bogey without going too far.

"My name is Zero," he says, eyes not budging from the Crew and his soldiers; one of them briefly flashes red as he focuses on studying the pipe-wielder. Like a storm in a teacup, his voice is filled with wrath that's only /just/ held back from brimming over. Even though he does violent things, he's not a violent man; even though these thugs have positioned themselves in his path, he can only afford to give them so much of his time while his other agents are still in the field, waiting for reinforcements. "My property is under assault tonight, but more importantly: the lives of my troops hang in the balance here and elsewhere," he continues. "I'm not precisely sure where you - all of you, collectively - fit into what's unfolding, although I can make an educated guess; I'm also well past the point of caring."

The steady bass note warbling around him builds in volume as the chi coursing along his body begins to flare out from him in black tongues, and as he brings his hands back to clasp them behind his back, he shifts his eyes to the guy with his boot on his agent's helmet. "Release them or die," he continues. "Those are the terms. Afterwards, you may stand down or try to stop me at your leisure; you have jobs to do, of course."

As he shifts his gaze once more - towards the biker with the pipe against his neck - there's a twinge of uncertainty as to which option he'd really, truly rather they pick; part of him has an inkling as to which way they /might/ go, though, which is why his final words are for the bikers:

"No matter what happens," he says as the anger briefly falls away, "I love you both."

"Zero," Lynx echoes the NESTs administrator's introduction, as much for Vyle's benefit as anything. His voice remains emotionless and unreadable as his gaze behind the glasses. There isn't any hint of recognition in it, but nor is there any sign of confusion. "I would say that, for our purposes, the owner of the property in question is much more valuable than these two."

Reaching up, Lynx carefully removes the sunglasses from his face, revealing the American's icy blue eyes. If anything, the effect is to make the man's expression appear even colder behind the scarf. "I'm willing to assume that you're being honest about your identity, given the evidence. Further, I'm willing to assume that you're being honest about your... feelings regarding those two." He gives a brief jerk of his head toward the bikers, keeping his gaze level on Zero.

"Based on that assumption of sincerity, I'm willing to offer these terms. Surrender your person for cryogenic imprisonment and transport to my superiors, and in exchange, these two will be allowed to live."

As soon as the name Zero comes over the radio, both from the Brute Force thugs and from Lynx, Vyle sweats. Information is scant on the man, but enough is known that if he's there, business has already picked up. "S***!" Slamming a desk, the luchadore starts to pace in the command center, scowling as he realizes how tits up this section of the assault has become if that man is here personally.

Of course, when Lynx lays down an ultimatum by his own accord, he ends up facepalming. "Everyone on site, get ready to engage," he says, flatly. He knows how unrealistic that offer is, and how likely an encounter is at this point. "Don't move in until Zero starts to engage," he adds, just to be sure. And to Lynx, a direct line. "I hope you know what you're doing asking something that audacious...but don't get stupid there, he's a bigwig," he grumbles

The Brute Force crew, for their part, do as they're told. The ones with mostly free will are intimidated enough by Zero's entrance that they know a head-on rush is nigh-suicide, and the more controlled of them just follow orders. "Y-yeah....simple hostage exchange!" the one holding the pipe to one biker's throat chimes in, echoing Lynx, putting up a front mostly to keep himself visibly freaking. Behind him, though, the last few molotovs are lit in preparation. If things go south, they're ready to do as trained.

The Brute Forces might notice a change in their hostages after Zero's last words to them: they get really, really tense instead of trying to struggle any further, afterwards.

Meanwhile, Zero's demeanor doesn't shift much at all fear builds amongst the Crew's ranks: no self-satisfied smirks or posturing (or, well, /further/ posturing) to raise the intimidation factor, just the steady, determined gaze of a hardened warrior to mask the concerned patriarch within.

It /barely/ shifts when Lynx throws his counter-offer on the table; just a narrowing of the eyes as his fears are confirmed. "My terms are my terms; if you're unwilling to meet them, then so be it," he lowly says, finally turning his eyes towards the arctic agent. He might, if he's observant enough, catch a glimmer of sadness in the dark-skinned scientist's eyes as he adds, "I think that you may have gotten the wrong idea about my position."

The scientist then rushes into the Crew, moving so quickly that he leaves a trail of dark, flickering images of his sprinting form. His actual shape is momentarily obscured by the black ribbons of gravity chi that erupt from his battlesuit. They're aimed at the men in front, because he can't actually reach the hostage takers without going through them; if they connect, they'll capture the thugs in fields that should immobilize them just long enough for Zero to try and cave one's face in with his fist, then catch the other with a thrust kick to the sternum.

"I'm afraid that spending any more time with you than I absolutely must is not an option!"

COMBATSYS: Zero has started a fight here.

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Zero             0/-------/-------|

COMBATSYS: Brute Force Crew has joined the fight here.

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Zero             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0 Brute Force Crew

The Brute Forces might notice a change in their hostages after Zero's last words to them: they get really, really tense instead of trying to struggle any further, afterwards.

Meanwhile, Zero's demeanor doesn't shift much at all fear builds amongst the Crew's ranks: no self-satisfied smirks or posturing (or, well, /further/ posturing) to raise the intimidation factor, just the steady, determined gaze of a hardened warrior to mask the concerned patriarch within.

It /barely/ shifts when Lynx throws his counter-offer on the table; just a narrowing of the eyes as his fears are confirmed. "My terms are my terms; if you're unwilling to meet them, then so be it," he lowly says, finally turning his eyes towards the arctic agent. He might, if he's observant enough, catch a glimmer of sadness in the dark-skinned scientist's eyes as he adds, "I think that you may have gotten the wrong idea about my position."

The scientist then rushes into the Crew, moving so quickly that he leaves a trail of dark, flickering images of his sprinting form. Seizing the edge of his skirt after the first couple of steps, he pauses just long enough to brace himself as he swipes it towards the men in front. The numerous blades lining it fan out a little as they fly, ready to taste blood.

"I'm afraid that spending any more time with /you/ than I absolutely must is not an option!"

COMBATSYS: Brute Force Crew blocks Zero's Satsuma.

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Zero             0/-------/------=|=------\-------\0 Brute Force Crew

When the offer of exchange is rejected, the blue-eyed agent returns the returns shades to their resting place with a casualness entirely unbefitting a man who may have just negotiated his own death sentence - and possibly those of the Brute Force crew. The gambit may require some explanation to those employing Lynx at a later point, but for the time being, there is a more important concern - containing the wrath of Zero.

"I get that a lot," is Lynx's reply to Zero's dismissal as he moves in pursuit of the commander. Unlike Zero, though, there's little urgency in his pace. Rather, the agent allows the Brute Force squad to take the brunt of the assault as he maneuvers lightly to flank Zero, practically skating across the pavement and leaving patches of rapidly thawing ice where his footfalls land. He doesn't engage yet, but instead studies Zero's assault, looking for an opening.

And quite possibly allowing the wrestlers time to die.

COMBATSYS: Lynx has joined the fight here.

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Brute Force Crew 0/-------/------=|-------\-------\0             Lynx
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Zero             0/-------/------=|

COMBATSYS: Lynx focuses on his next action.

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Brute Force Crew 0/-------/------=|-------\-------\0             Lynx
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Zero             0/-------/------=|

As 'negotiations', if they can be called that, break down, the thugs start to get edgy. They know they have the numbers advantage, but that's only if they can maintain it. And when Zero rushes forward and starts to swipe out the edge of his battle skirt faster than most can track, they see the vanguard fall down. They're not out, but it's clear that despite their attempt to act as a shield that they can't stand very long against the sheer force in front of them.

Which is why they don't try to meet force with force just yet. No, instead the fallen vanguard quickly scramble back, seemingly leaving no one between Zero and the held hostages. At least until a bottle flies, one of the few firebombs the group have left flung out in the same principle they used to capture the bikers to begin with: cover fire. If anything, the hope is to use the molotov to converge and get ready.

This isn't just something they thought up of on their own of course. Traffic is directed from the Shadaloo command, Vyle quickly barking orders to his gang, realizing Lynx is taking his sweet time engaging himself. "Blindsides are out of the question at this point. All of you, prepare for north-south."

COMBATSYS: Zero reflects Molotov Cocktail from Brute Force Crew with Hikawa.

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Brute Force Crew 0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0             Lynx
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Zero             0/-------/-----==|

The skirt swishes loudly around Zero's legs after he lets it fall and resumes Terminator-walking his way into the Crew. Scattering the thugs is a reasonably happy medium between being forced to punch his way through and just plain cutting them out of his way, even if he isn't about to take it as a sign that they're giving in. It's too early in the engagement for that, especially if they're here on behalf of Shadaloo-- /especially/ when some of them are still holding flaming bottles.

As he makes it to the hostages - /both/ of whom are lying on the ground, now that there's nobody to keep the strangled biker on his feet - he catches a bright orange flash on his periphery; a split-second later, an obnoxiously red 'WARNING!!' flashes across his pupil, and he whirls in place to see if he can spot the-- ah.

The molotovs, of course.

"Do not worry," he exhales to the clones near his feet as he grabs his skirt and pulls it along a sharp, vertical arc. Motes of gray light - reflective chi, Lynx might notice - sparks between the toothy line of blades before flowing together into a field of concentric circles suspended in the air around him; it isn't quite all-encompassing, but there are pockets of the field positioned at all the right angles to keep the burning bottles from reaching him. Instead of just cracking against the barrier, the bottles rebound as if it's made of rubber and blaze jittery, spinning trails through the air as they're sent back to their owners.

As the cape falls for a second time, his eyes twitch around the smoke and fire, briskly cycling through a number of modes that all prove equally useless in making it easier to keep an eye on Lynx. He can see snatches of movement and patches of frozen air, but that isn't quite good enough.

Amidst the flames dancing in the mirrored lenses of Lynx's sunglasses, the outline of Zero remains central. It's at the moment that Zero whirls his battle-garment to defend against the barrage of molotovs that Lynx stops moving, a breeze beginning to pick up rapidly around him and causing his coat and scarf to flutter in it. Two sharp blades of ice form in each of his gloved hands, held between his fingers, as he extends them to either side of himself, then releases them, allowing them to be swept up in the wind around him. Four more crystalline shards form in their place.

Then, drawing back his arm, he flings the first pair at Zero as an opening volley before rapidly snatching and hurling them from the air at him one by one, finishing by sweeping his other arm forward to launch the pair held in that hand.

Should any of them strike true, the chilling energy from which the weapons were formed would likely prove more potent than the sharpness of the blades themselves, rapidly drawing the warmth from whatever they touch before they shatter or melt.

COMBATSYS: Zero successfully hits Brute Force Crew with Reflected Molotov Cocktail.

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Brute Force Crew 0/-------/----===|-------\-------\0             Lynx
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Zero             0/-------/---====|

COMBATSYS: Zero has joined the fight here as a boss!

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Lynx             0/-------/-------|===----\-------\0 Brute Force Crew

Well, that's not...good. That's not good at all. When molotovs hit something, they tend to shatter and ignite, not bounce off like rubber, especially when it hits something bladed and solid. But that's exactly what happened to the molotov once Zero slashes it into the path of the bottle. Eyes widen, as it sails over where the hostages are. "SCATTER!" one has the sense to shout, and they attempt to do so. Some succeed....some aren't as lucky.

And even when some have obvious mental conditioning, it only goes so far when you're literally on fire. Screams roar out, as two thugs are almost instantly immolated, a few others panicking as they try to put out their clothes before the burns get past serious.

"Dammit all," Vyle shouts, hearing the various screams and reports from the ground. "Save the molotovs, don't throw them directly at him! Stick to the plan, north-south!" he shouts over the radio. Those with the wherewithal to continue do just as directed, moving in a mass toward Zero. Charging in, 3 go high, trying to grab at Zero's arms and limbs, two more diving low for his ankles to try and pull him to the ground. Or at the very least, hold him still for Lynx's barrage of ice.

COMBATSYS: Zero dodges Lynx's Shard Hail.

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Lynx             0/-------/-------|===----\-------\0 Brute Force Crew

COMBATSYS: Zero endures Brute Force Crew's Multiple Tackles.

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Lynx             0/-------/-------|====---\-------\0 Brute Force Crew

"Can you stand?!" Zero calls to the pair at his feet as Brute Forcers burn and his force field fades from the air. The female biker starts to push herself up onto trembling arms after a second or two; the other one doesn't even bother, and just starts slowly crawling away from the Crew while groaning.

"Hm," the scientist exhales as he frowningly glances down at them. "Fair enough."

Although Lynx himself is proving troublesome to keep an eye on, the shards of ice he hurls are a little easier to track, if only because they're actually coming towards him. He nearly drops to the ground to avoid the first round and the crystals /still/ send a shiver snaking down his spine as they sail overhead. Without fully straightening, he starts bolting away from the clones to try and draw further icicles and/or molotovs away from them; unfortunately for him, there's a Brute Force noose closing in around him, making it hard to get especially far without meeting at least one of them.

And one is all it takes: he grabs Zero's arm and manages to hang on /just/ long enough to give another guy an opening to clip his leg from behind, buckling that knee. Before he can make it back up, two more just about smother him as they seize his arms and use their weight to force him down.

"What-- nngh--" he strains to call out to Lynx from beneath the dogpile, "style-- is that?!"

Even with a mob of brutal thugs pinning him to the ground, he can't /quite/ ignore his curiosity in the presence of a new fighting form.

"Rr--" A few tongues of black gravity chi flicker through the gaps in the pile as the low warbling around Zero sharply rises in pitch, and then waves of black and gray energy begin rushing out from his body in an attempt to force the men away from him. Some might find themselves briefly captured in fields of unnatural gravity; others, repelled. "Unhand me!"

COMBATSYS: Zero successfully hits Brute Force Crew with Ma Maikosou.

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Lynx             0/-------/-------|=======\==-----\1 Brute Force Crew

The ice-flinging agent's eyebrows lower above his sunglasses, brow creasing slightly as Zero manages to slip out of the course of his assault. "Damn." Vyle's henchmen do manage to get hold of the NESTs commander, though, prompting Lynx to pick up his pace and close the gap with the man. The waves of energy rushing around Zero give Lynx a moment's pause for reconsideration, though.

"It's something I picked up in Russia while I was on vacation," he replies dryly to Zero's inquiry as he focuses on sensing the fields of distorted gravity around Zero and mentally charting a course to the scientist without getting caught up in them himself. A moment later, he darts in, past the members of the wrestling posse, trying to snap a quick heel kick to Zero's head before the latter can fully regain his footing.

Mobbing onto Zero from behind the pack, most of the Crew manages to pull him down. That's the good news, and much better than maybe could be expected from a hasty militia like this.

And then, Zero brings out the gravity chi that start to expand. That's the bad news, and it's terrible for most, flung away hard enough to slam into alley walls enough to lose the ability to breathe properly temporarily, others suspended in a way that, while no visible injury comes to them, looks terrible just from the way the victims' expressions contort in apparent internal distress.

The display of power is enough that the remaining members of the group look to themselves, and in a shared, collective decision, no words said, make a break for it.

" dammit!" Vyle barks, only to be met with the gurgle of pain from one of the few who didn't (read: couldn't) beat the retreat. Sighing to himself, he slams his headseat down upon the console, barely avoiding a total break. It's a good thing the assholes are tagged, because he's going to make sure they regret not sticking around in the lurch longer. He's going to make damn well sure of that.

COMBATSYS: Brute Force Crew has left the fight here.

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[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Lynx             0/-------/-------|

COMBATSYS: Lynx successfully hits Zero with Light Kick.

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Lynx             0/-------/-------|=======\==-----\1 Brute Force Crew

"Interesting," Zero exhales as the last darkly flickering traces of chi fade from the air around him. "You'll have to tell mHMPF!"

Everything goes momentarily black as Lynx's heel slams down against Zero's skull. He wasn't quite fast enough about sitting up, and it costs him; although he makes it upright after the blow lands, he sways drunkenly for a moment before shaking it off and retaking his feet.

"Serves me right, I suppose," he evenly admits, skirt settling for a fraction of a second before he lunges at Lynx and it flares out behind him. Hammering his right-knee towards the ice-wielder's midsection, he continues, "Such ruthlessness! A pity that your people are making such a mess for mine; this could be enlightening indeed, otherwise!"

He doesn't spare the Brute Force Crew a glance as he lashes out at Lynx, since they were scattering before he even got up; he does, however, allow himself a tight and fleeting smile at the sound of retreating footsteps.

COMBATSYS: Lynx counters Medium Kick from Zero with Lynx Claw Takedown.

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[  \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////                ]
Lynx             0/-------/------=|=======\==-----\1 Brute Force Crew

The distance with Zero now closed, Lynx's stance shifts after his boot finds its mark. Both of the agent's gloved hands come up in a guard reminiscent of that of a boxer, but his fingers are held loose rather than clenched into fists. There's no time for him to respond to Zero's question - the knee of Zero's battlesuit is coming at him far too quickly to allow for the luxury of banter.

Lynx's coat swishes behind him with the speed of movement as he sidesteps just before the knee can collide with his gut. One of his hands comes up with fingers spread, passing over Zero's strike and catching the NESTs administrator's face. The glove is ice cold when it hits and rapidly becomes colder, billows of frosty mist rising off of it in the moments before Lynx's other hand slips to Zero's back and he shoves the larger man violently toward the ground through a combination of pressure applied to the forehead and back to throw him off-balance.

Quickly stepping back in anticipation that another surge of energy may be coming in retaliation, Lynx activates his comm, his breathing heavy, but steady for a moment before he speaks. "This is Lynx. If survive taking this guy on on my own, I'm going to personally hang every member of the Beef Brigade that's running right now in a meat locker."

Killing the comm, he returns his attention fully to Zero. "You were... saying?"

For the time, it seems like Lynx is the only one left to face Zero for now, the gang having make a break for it and seemingly nowhere to be found at this point. Even Vyle, back at Shadaloo command, seems to be cursing up a storm at how quickly his group decided to scatter like wind.

But a block or so away, around a nook, the still conscious members of the gang are regrouping. Some are seriously burned, others slumped against the wall after being flung against hard brick thanks to Zero's gravity power. "What are we doing? We shouldn't be here, we should be at least half a mile from here now!" one mutters panickedly. "Did you see that guy, he just knocked a molotov away like a baseball, like he just went PWING and it flew back and...jesus, Flagg was like goddamn bacon."

"You think we can outrun a crazy ass bastard like him?!" one in a denim vest, one of the leaner of the group, says, scowling and smacking his pipe against a wall. "We may as well go down swinging if we're going down. I ain't going down like some punk!" he nearly shouts, only just keeping it hushed to avoid being heard shouting from several blocks away. "Yeah...we should give that jackass a show if he's gonna smash us anyway," another one, with tribal tattoos over his face, echos. The lean man nods before tapping his ear, the rest muttering with varying levels of aggreement or argument. "Base. We're regrouping for a renewed shot."

Picking back his headset in time to hear that transmission, Vyle scowls...and nods. "Go out on your shield, you jackasses. Don't go out like a *****," he says, cutting off there for now, leaving the rest to ruminate about the possibility of trying to blindside the bigwig in the skirt again....

COMBATSYS: Brute Force Crew drops his guard to recover.

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[  \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////           ]
Lynx             0/-------/------=|=======\===----\1 Brute Force Crew

The cherry red 'WARNING!' flickering across Zero's pupil doesn't do him much good: he's already committed to his attack and he just plain doesn't see Lynx's hand before the agent's palming his face.

There's nothing he can do but freeze. And fall, when pushed; he's slower like in getting back up to his feet after that, partly because the sharp drop in temperature leaves ice crystals clinging obtrusively to the battlesuit's joints and partly because the back of his head smacks into the ground when he goes down.

'Slower than Zero would like' is still pretty fast, though: although he groans and grimaces as he does it, he smoothly pushes himself up to his feet after a second or so of laying there. Lynx might be pulling away, but the administrator stalks after the agent as soon as he's standing again. Speedy walking ratchets up to running after a few steps, and when once he gets within a few feet of Lynx, running becomes seizing the edge of his skirt and violently throws it upwards while somersaulting rest of the way. Moonlight glints off of Zero's blades as the cyborg's twisting body flares his weaponized garment out into a semi-circle.

Whatever he was saying /before/, he's apparently decided to shift to a somewhat more physical mode of communication.

COMBATSYS: Zero successfully hits Lynx with Shou Suburu.

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[           \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////           ]
Lynx             1/-------/=======|=======\===----\1 Brute Force Crew

When Zero renews the attack on Lynx, the real difference in speed between the two becomes evident. The ice-wielding hitman throws up his left arm to try and deflect the incoming wheel of metal, but the force of the skirt's blades cuts the sleeve of his coat to ribbons before slashing through his guard and across his chest. The impact sends Lynx sprawling backward, a trail of spackled blood hitting the ground in his wake.

Lynx plants his left hand on the ground, the mauled limb shaking with the effort to push the agent's body upright as red rivulets already begin to stream from the lacerations across the forearm. Forcing himself up to his feet, Lynx reaches up to rims of his disheveled glasses to shove them back onto his nose properly. As he does, an icy mist begins to rise from each of his hands, frost forming first in his palms then rapidly spreading over his forearms as ice chi begins to gather around him. "Maybe we could try approaching this. You know, each of us take a few seconds to cool our heads before we reopen negotiations."

By the time he's done talking, the voice is coming from a silhouette in the icy fog.

COMBATSYS: Lynx is surrounded by an arctic breeze as he gathers icy energy.

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[           \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////           ]
Lynx             1/---====/=======|=======\===----\1 Brute Force Crew

With Lynx taking up most of Zero's attention at this point, the hiding gang finally starts to emerge. There are a few shivers, some from the chill that Lynx's power creates around the general area, and some from intimidation as they try to make good on the idea of going out with a bang.

But with their resolve steeled, the group moves as one. Moving closer and closer, one of them readies a pipe, two others batons. Then as Lynx talks about 'negotiations'....they pounce.

The one in the lead with the pipe leaps, trying to take Zero's back and pull the pipe straight around the operative's neck. The two with batons come in, the intent of slamming the back of his knees with theri weapons and dropping him to the ground. If that goes, there'd be no hesitation in putting the boots to him from the others. If not? Well....

COMBATSYS: Brute Force Crew successfully hit Zero with Gang Warfare.

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[           \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////             ]
Lynx             1/---====/=======|-------\-------\0 Brute Force Crew

"Alright," Zero flatly aallows as his sensors scan the fog to try and lock back onto Lynx. He can /almost/ make out the agent's shape in there, but he isn't quite the only ambiguously mass in there. "What are your ter--"


Zero turns towards his flank as the flare fades from his eye, right into the pipe-wielding thug who ends up pinning one of the administrator's arms against his side while yanking the pipe up against his throat. Although Zero manages to get a handful of the guy's hair, he takes a baton to the knee before he can throw his assailant free and buckles, crying out in pain and surprise; the subsequent shots are enough to drop him the rest of the way to the ground.

About the best thing that could be said of what comes next is that Zero manages to keep a few stray thoughts in his head while the Brute Force Crew eagerly tries to beat them out of him--along with his blood, snot, coolant, et cetera. He initially tries to block an incoming boot here, or push against a knee there, but there are just too many bodies to contend with; keeping his head tucked into his arms to make it a less appealing target winds up being his best defense as he tries to look for an opening to mount a better one.

When none present themselves after a solid five or ten seconds of further ass-kicking, however, he once again decides to take his salvation into his own hands

A warbling bass note that the Lynx and Crew might recognize by now emanates as a mixture crackling black and grey builds around his right fist, and after taking a kick to the mid-section that sends blood spraying from his mouth, he jerks the right half of his body up so that he can punch the ground. Cracks shoot spread the pavement, gradually spreading out beneath the thugs' feet; the energy already roiling around his hand flows along them, seething spectacularly but harmlessly. The discordant bass builds and builds until it's more of an unearthly howl, and at that point, the cracks stop spreading.

Black chi shot through with grey electricity explodes out of the cracks in the ground, forming the beginnings of a terrible, sucking void above Zero that seeks to draw the members of the Crew and everything not nailed down around them into itself.

COMBATSYS: Zero successfully hits Brute Force Crew with Anryuuten Hazaki.

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[           \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////                          ]
Lynx             1/---====/=======|=======\==-----\1 Brute Force Crew

Zero's jaw is swollen, and he can't quite see out of one eye. The battlesuit is intact on the outside, but there are few cracked ribs underneath, as well as some internal bleeding. By /anyone's/ standards, he's slow to push himself up to his feet as the Crew is drawn into his singularity, and once he /is/ upright, he gives himself a moment to loudly crack his neck.

And then, he leaps into the yawning hole in world, which promptly seals itself shut. Somehow, even though they're gone, the dozens of swiftly delivered skirt-strokes that Zero delivers to the Crew in isolation leave visible, slashing distortions in the space where they were.

A few seconds later, the singularity pops open again just long enough to dump everyone back out, with Zero landing on his feet--barely.

"Now," he says, clutching his chest as he tries to find Lynx again, "you were saying, about negotiating...?"

The offer of negotiation was probably a bluff, a stall tactic - especially given the amount of frost accumulated around Lynx by the time that the void overhead regurgitates Zero's victims. Lynx's gaze follows them through the fog, lifting just slightly as a layer of frost forms over the lenses of his sunglasses. There is no need for him to see through them to be able to guess at the fate of the Brute Force Crew - after a massive surge of energy like the one Zero just produced, Lynx has already written them off.

The display of power from Zero only confirms in the agent's mind what he suspected from the moment that the NESTs administrator descended from the sky to intervene - that he is outmatched. And now, not only outmatched, but alone. Thus cornered, a baser instinct comes over the Shadaloo operative's mind. He may know that he is outmatched, but perhaps the appearance of power may prove useful at this point. Like the growling of a dog or the flare of a lizard's frill, the billowing, translucent mist around Lynx begins to flow, then whip about him as if caught up by an arctic gale. The agent reaches up to remove the sunglasses as they're completely frosted over, letting them drop to the ground where the lenses crack and pop from the frames on impact. The blasting air grants a better view of Lynx as it cuts the mist into heavier flakes. The blood from the wounds visible through the slashes in the chest of his shirt and sleeve of his coat is no longer flowing as it's iced over. The look in the man's blue eyes is as cold and fierce as the wind around him.

"Right... negotiations." Lynx begins to speak, his voice gravelly and deliberate, as if the frost covering him is slowing his speech and belabouring his breathing. "You can take... your people... and withdraw. Leave... the transport."

COMBATSYS: Lynx is surrounded by an arctic breeze as he gathers icy energy.

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Lynx             2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|=======\==-----\1 Brute Force Crew

The Crew doesn't let up once they have Zero down. The one with the pipe around his throat keeps him held while the others put the boots to him repeatedly, a few slamming batons into his side as well. But so intent on beating him down, they don't notice the crackling energy beneath them, and the bass, they only notice when it's too late, and by the time they finally realize what's around them, the void has consumed them.

THe silence is oppressive, only pierced by the slashing of that battle skirt into the void....and by the time the poor souls are released and ejected every which way, not one is conscious. The fact that might be the worst that could be said of them right now is a small miracle, but it's clear they'll be doing no more today.

Brute Force Crew falls asleep.

"I'm afraid that I can't do that," Zero replies. It's kind of muffled, because he's wiping a trickle of blood away from his mouth as he says it. "The cargo is valuable, and so are the people defending it." After shaking the blood from his hand, he drops both to loosely clasp them behind himself.

Energy continues to build around Lynx and the Cartel scientist frowns as he studies the resulting sensor spikes. Not only do his self-repair systems need a little more time to set him right - Lynx might notice the swelling around his eye gradually fading, but that's hardly the worst of his injuries - taking out the Crew drained him badly.

All things considered, the best thing for him very well might be to accept Lynx's terms, but what's best for NESTS matters more than what's best for him. Always.

"And I don't suppose that I could convince /you/ to stand down, eh?"

A targeting reticle sweeps across his field of vision and snaps around Lynx, and a few tiny numbers and gauges beside it feed him data on the energy levels pouring off of the agent, as well as his own physical condition. Whatever's coming, he doesn't have the strength to stop it cold; his next best bet's being as ready for it as possible.

COMBATSYS: Zero focuses on his next action.

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[          \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////                          ]
Lynx             2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|=======\==-----\1 Brute Force Crew

Despite having spent fifteen winters in Siberia and his affinity for ice, there are limits to how much cold even Lynx can tolerate - and he knows that he's quickly approaching them. The tactic of building energy as a method of intimidation seems as though it might even be working, but it's not a sustainable state. It's essentially a now or never situation before he risks putting himself on ice permanently. But to stand down would be to sacrifice a very important piece in the greater game that Lynx is playing.

"I'm afraid not. This mission is too important."

Now that Zero is the only one that can hear him, though, something in his tone changes, just slightly. It's still got that icy edge, but...

"I can't have it looking like I didn't at least make an effort, you know?"

Suddenly, Lynx snaps his hand up, directing it toward Zero. The icy wind around him sucks into a concentrated swirl of energy in front of his palm. And then, a split second later, an ear-splitting shriek fills the air as the freezing wind blasts in a cone toward Zero, filled with intense icy chi.

COMBATSYS: Zero blocks Lynx's Howl of the Wendigo.

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[           \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////                          ]
Lynx             1/-------/<<<<<<<|=======\==-----\1 Brute Force Crew

"Of course; loyalty is a valuable commodity in our world," Zero says with a slow nod. "Unfortunate, but understandable."

Zero swings his arms around into an 'X' over his face and torso a split-second after Lynx raises his hand. Arctic air buffets the cyborg from behind his makeshift barrier, coating his hair, face, and battlesuit with crystals while alternating waves of pain and numbness radiate throughout his lower arms. The gauges beside Lynx's reticle bounce wildly the whole time, and don't stop moving until sometime after the storm of chi subsides.

When it's over, it's like someone's working an icicle around in his lungs, causing him to clutch his chest briefly before dropping his hand with a ragged groan. Shuffling towards the Shadaloo agent, he keeps his pace measured until he's close enough to spring forward and grab for Lynx's icy coat in the hopes of flipping him to his ground with a sharp twist of his hips.

COMBATSYS: Lynx counters Yokoshima Karakui Satsu from Zero with Ithaqua's Grasp.

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[            \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////                          ]
Lynx             0/-------/-------|=======\==-----\1 Brute Force Crew

Lynx's posture is stooped slightly forward after the arctic assault comes to an end. The agent's hands shake, fingers flexing and unflexing to stave off the cold in them as wisps of chill continue to trail off of the like smoke from the barrel of a gun. His eyes gaze frostily at Zero as the scientist catches the brunt of the attack. It's not enough - the ice may be starting to sap at Zero's strength, but it's not enough to drive the Cartel commander off, let alone bring him down, and it's not a feat he can pull off again. Lynx's eyes drop to his frost-covered hands, his hair frozen into unkempt spikes from the combination of ice and stormy winds. As Zero charges in, it's as if Lynx is too frozen to move.

When he snatches for Lynx's coat, though, the agent's bloody arm shoots up in a desperate burst of speed, hand grasping for Zero's throat, blue veins visible along the forearm as he tightens his grip. He struggles to try and hoist Zero up into the air as ice spreads out from his hand, but it's too diffuclt - instead, when his ability to maintain his grip and the outflow of chi is stretched to its limit, he heaves with his entire body to try and throw Zero toward the ground. Lynx doubles over after the counterattack, holding his left arm against his slashed chest as the blood starts to flow slowly from the wounds of his forearm again, dripping onto the frosted ground beneath his feet. His breathing is heavy as he grunts at the onset of pain.

Temperature warnings briefly fill Zero's vision before conveniently retreating to its edges to reveal the ragged, but no less determined agent who's struggling to keep him held. Clawing at Lynx's wrist doesn't do him much good thanks to the radiating cold, as well as the battlesuit freezing up around him. His fingers end up clenched there, unable to make much headway but unwilling to pull away until Lynx eventually just takes the decision out of his hands.

The researcher hits the ground hard a few feet away, bouncing a couple of times before skidding to a stop on his side, against a wall.

"Stubborn... to the last, eh...?" he rasps as he swings himself up into a seated position. "It's too bad that your gang isn't conscious to see how you fight for them." Beat. "/Now/, anyway."

Bracing himself with a hand on his knee, he pushes back up to his feet and his metal-clad joints loudly grind the entire way. He keeps a hand against the wall until he's on his feet, but once he is, he pushes off of it for a little extra boost as he closes in on Lynx as quickly as his stubbornly rigid body will let him. Since he's already doubled over, the researcher tries to drive a fist into his spine, pulling back a step to adopt a defensive stance afterwards with a minimum of followthrough.

COMBATSYS: Zero successfully hits Lynx with Genma Kizashou.

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[                 \\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////                          ]
Lynx             0/-------/----===|=======\==-----\1 Brute Force Crew

Ice and blood continue to fall off of Lynx's hunched body as Zero approaches. The frosty fighter's frame shudders as he tries to push himself back fully upright. He brings one hand up against his chest, red staining the fingers of his gloves. Ice begins to form within the clutches of his hand as he speaks, staring ahead.

"I could care less... about them," he growls, "They're just a means to an en-HRNNGH." There's a sharp crack as the fist slams into Lynx's spine, driving him sprawling down to the ground. Lynx's scarf drapes off of his neck, blown loose by the battle and revealing his jawline, teeth clenched as his breath fogs in front of them. Pressing his right hand against the pavement, he brings himself up to a knee. His left comes up as well, held in a fist against his chest, an icicle clenched discreetly between his fingers like a knife. "Loyalty is liquid. It flows both ways, and eventually, it runs dry!"

Whirling around on his knees with sudden violence, Lynx aims to drive the red-stained shard of ice into Zero's leg with all his might.

COMBATSYS: Zero blocks Lynx's Sudden Shard.

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[                  \\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////                          ]
Lynx             0/-------/----===|=======\==-----\1 Brute Force Crew

Panting, Zero quickly cracks his his striking hand before bringing both back up in front of himself. The ice clinging to his body is gradually flaking off with movement or sloughing down the the lines of his battlesuit as it melts, but he can still feel icy needles jabbing his chest with each breath.

"Perhaps in a desert devoid of the respect and honesty necessary to sust--aak!"

What would have been a dismissive response is interrupted by Lynx's icicle, forcing him to sweep his skirt into its path. Red flakes are shaved off of the weapon as it grinds past the blades, diminishing its inertia such that it only manages to stick shallowly into the administrator's leg. His eyes are wide as he jerks away from the shard, but they narrow by the time he settles on his feet again; Lynx might be hurt, but he's /tenacious/. This /has/ to end soon--for his soldiers' sake, and for his.

"Regardless," he exhales while gaspins for air and advancing with careful, shuffling steps. "I hope that whatever you've traded tonight's suffering for will be worth it!" With a short hop, he's able to position himself close enough to slash his right leg up at the opposing agent's chin like he's going for a last ditch field goal in the 4th quarter.

COMBATSYS: Zero successfully hits Lynx with Fierce Kick.

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[                          \\\\  < >  ////                          ]
Lynx             1/-------/=======|=======\==-----\1 Brute Force Crew

Brute Force Crew wakes up.

COMBATSYS: Brute Force Crew lets out a large yawn, slouching.

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[                          \\\\  <
Lynx             1/-------/=======|

COMBATSYS: Brute Force Crew can no longer fight.

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[                          \\\\  <
Lynx             1/-------/=======|

The blade of the ice shard snaps away, leaving the weapon a useless blood-stained chunk in Lynx's hand. He pants for breath as he remains slumped on his knees, falling forward onto his hands and crushing the ice under his hand against the ground with his weight. The words that he interrupted - the speech about respect and honesty - cause a shift in his demeanour. Like the surface of a lake, the icy expression he held begins to crack.

"Heh... hehe..."

A hoarse chuckle turns into growling laughter.

"Hehehaha-!" The sound is cut short, though, with a sharp thud as the agent's jaw is snapped shut by the impact of Zero's boot. Lynx's head jerks back, turning up to the sky, then swinging loosely toward Zero. The NESTs scientist's scanner may detect the final surge of chi before Lynx makes an upward thrashing motion with his bloody hand. A pillar of ice shoots up from the ground between the two at an angle, the blunt upper tip aimed generally toward Zero's upper body.

Lynx presses his other hand against his wrist before succumbing, falling face-forward against the frost-covered ground. The motion results in him landing on the sending button to contact Vyle in the control center - resulting in a stream of static.

Whether this is done to signal his defeat or as one last chance to be a jerk is open to interpretation.

COMBATSYS: Lynx can no longer fight.

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COMBATSYS: Zero deflects Glacial Wall from Lynx with Hikawa.

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Zero regards the agent with bemused frown as he snaps, physically and perhaps otherwise. Cynicism isn't, he supposes, so uncommon among the types of people most likely to pledge themselves to a shadowy criminal enterprise, but to hear it expressed through unrestrained laughter takes him off-guard--especially given the cold front of just moments ago.

"I suppose you disagree," he dryly mutters just before his sensors spike /again/ and twist his frown into something rather more aggravated. His eye is just about fully open, but the rest of him is still a sack of bruises and cracked ribs; he and his people can't afford for him take /more/ damage from this stubborn man. With a high-pitched whine of protest at being made to work while his systems are already strained, his force field generator powers up; a mixture of grey chi flickers and rippling distortions bubble around the tips of his blades.

A powerful upward flick brings the skirt billowing up in front of his body, leaving the glowing, nested rings of his force field in a trail behind itself. The pillar crashes against it, and while the impact doesn't trasfer through the barrier, it can't quite keep him from being buffeted by bitter cold as the ice shatters.

The skirt drops after the ice is gone and Lynx finally looks to be out of it; rather than catch his breath, though, Zero starts heading back to the bikers while tapping his ear. He is immediately treated to gunfire, electricity, explosions, and screams among other things, but he tries to make himself heard anyway:

"I have three operatives, two bodies, and one command vehicle that need picking up!" he shouts. "Reinforcements are en route to the transport location; just hang on a little while longer...!"

Of course, getting there in any reasonable timeframe might be easier said than done, what with his lack of transportation, stressed systems in need of maintenance, and mounting fatigue...

COMBATSYS: Zero has ended the fight here.

Log created on 17:36:56 01/17/2015 by Zero, and last modified on 22:44:45 01/23/2015.