The Hunter - Training Day Interrupted

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Description: Dr. Tessitore wanted only to enjoy a simple day out at the volcano. A day full of tankinis, sun, and good old fashioned mad science. But, by chance a visitor arrives, interrupting her flame retardance tests. Teeth and fury collide with clever legs in this knock down, drag out brawl of beasts.

Zack Island is... kind of a mess, after the catastrophic incidents of the last year. For the first few months, the island was completely bereft of human population. But after a few months, the widespread attention lavished upon the island during its heyday actually drew attention of a very different kind.
That is to say, if you know a place is abandoned, then no one should bother you there, right?

"This week's trial, ladies and gentlemen, is to learn how to endure the heat!" The speaker's voice booms, loud enough to carry over the vast distance down to the blown-out volcano. Geographically, it still -is- a volcano, but the peak has been destroyed, and the basin is now much much wider and more shallow than before. Steam hisses out at a constant rate through the various fissures between the igneous floor, while a company of thirty darkstalkers of varying sizes and shapes hops from one foot to the other.
Which is to say, the floor is really freaking hot.

The speaker, Dr. Fio Tessitore, doesn't seem to mind the heat. She's wearing a bright orange tankini, with a red sarong slung about her hips. Her skin, normally a pale blue, is instead a faint shade of lavender due to the heat. And yet, she stands casually, as if the heat isn't able to reach her soft pedicured feet through the soles of a pair of fancy Italian sandals.

She glances between each of the dark-complexioned soldiers in their tattered Congolese fatigues, noting the endurance . Like Dr. Tessitore and her freakish arachnid appendages, each of the soldiers has their own... enhancements. Some are burly, transmogrified into states resembling rhinocerii or elephants. And some are scrawny, with distended, digitigrade legs and a hunched over stance. And some have an outgrowth of fur -- those are the -least- comfortable of the group, as some of the fur begins to catch on fire from the blistering heat. All of them are cowering, praying for mercy from the spiderlike woman.

"Let's not forget your training! Attennnnnn-tion!" As Tess's lips crease into a firm drill instructor's frown, her red eyes glare back at the recruits as they struggle to snap to attention as demanded.
In the back of her mind, she -hates- doing this training -- moreso because she knows the penalties for non-compliance are becoming increasingly severe.

While once this location might have been an idyllic example of how picturesque a volcano could be, it has long since lost that luster. The once lush forest that surrounds the shallow bowl drips with ash, and choking, foggy fumes belch from the hellishly glowing depths.

It seemed like the perfect place to hide. But somehow, even in the nightmarish heat surrounding this inverted cone of lava, the smell of blood remains strong.

As Tessitore's voice rings out strong and demanding over the slopes of the volcano, two beings stand locked in a fierce confrontation.

It is one pair of boots that stands a short ways off from the lava. One shadowed figure that hunches in the poisonous haze, black against the grey around it. A solitary body that stands half hidden in the volcano below, enduring the unimaginable heat.

But there are two beings inside.

"She has killed you. I am free." It whispers, hoarse voice full of slithering malice. There is no compassion in it. No empathy. Only a brutal glee at the misfortune of the other.

"Your freedom is temporary. I will purge you as a sickness. Tear you from my blood and cast you out." He replies, his voice a rasping grind of flint on stone. He is weary, so very weary, but full of harsh determination. A human voice, but one that has perhaps seen too much.

"Cast me out? Hunter, it is you that are the disease. This body is mine."

"You have tainted it. You do not deserve it."

"No hunter. WE do not deserve it. You know there is but one way to end this, and it glows before you."

The solitary body shakes, head bowed as steam rises from its heavy black clothing. The outer edges of his clothes have already lost what moisture they contained and now smolder, adding their dark grey smoke to the surrounding vapors. A foot lifts and begins to move toward the lava, the tip of the boot igniting as the rubber sole begins to melt.

"NOOOOO." It hisses in rage and fear, the body stumbling backward a step and nearly falling. Regaining its balance, it begins to tremble as the two beings war for control, clothes steadily drying out and little fires puffing into being across their outfit. Already the ends of their long hair have begun to spark to light, causing the creature's outline to glow, throwing a stark shadow against the surrounding fog that would be clearly visible to anyone watching from above. But even more eye catching is the silver chain wrapped round and round the figure's right forearm, which currently glows white hot as it attempts to scorch a path through the figure's coat sleeve.

Tess smacks her hand against the clipboard, causing a rather loud clap to be heard over the hissing of the steam vents. "Stiffen that spine, Mwala, or everyone here gets to run twenty more laps!" Tess isn't exactly a 'people' person -- far from it. But she insisted on taking this company of soldiers out to get some much-needed experience -- and considering the locale, she has a good way of dealing with the possibilities of insurrection. Thin lines of spider silk crisscross the crater, occasionally catching the light -- the soldiers know good and well that fleeing is -not- an option.

"You're better than that!" she cries out, even as her troops' clothing begins to ignite in flames. "You're not -vampires-, vampires are combustible. And so are humans! But you're much harder to catch on fire -- your skin is coated much like mine is! What I'm going to teach you today is that you're -better- than humans." She strikes the clipboard again, then clenches her hand into a fist. "Forget your earthly bonds! You have no limits but those you impose upon yourselves! Your -minds- are the only things holding you back!"

And then the unthinkable happens. One of her spidery filaments snaps. Her arachnid appendages twitch in resonance with the sound. Tess jerks her head to the source of the almost imperceptibly small noise -- and it doesn't take long before she sees the glint of light upon a silver chain through the hazy fog surrounding the approaching figure.

A grimacing Tess turns back to the solders, snapping her heels together and dropping her clipboard to her hip. "Alright, worms, I need to check something out! Chada, come with me, the rest of you pair off and spar. I'll be able to tell if you're goofing off, so don't even think about it!"
The one named Chada is cringing at the fire creeping its way up her tattered pants, but she manages to hold it together long enough to jog over to Tess's side. As the spider lady walks towards the source of the apparently-one-man debate, the gazelle-like Chada -- noticeable from the long horns protruding from her head -- is right at her side. She has hooves instead of feet, so she has no need for shoes, but she could definitely do without the blistering heat.

"Hey, you." calls out Tess into the darkness. "I got reservations on this volcano for at least the next two days, so you're gonna have to find another place for your picnic!" The woman's two pairs of spider limbs each slap their 'fists' into one another. One such as the solitary body may not be cowed by a woman in a tankini, but many have made the mistake of underestimating the Doctor in the past.

the figure that stalks up the inner slope of the volcano has the shape of a man. Long black hair smolders as it falls across its face, resting against the black scarf that is pulled up over its mouth and nose. Its build is lean and wolfish, though hidden under layers of now gently burning black cloth.

The eyes, however, are not the eyes of a man. Their pale yellow glow cuts through the fog, glaring up the slope toward the approaching figures with such malicious heat as the make their surroundings seem cool and refreshing. For one as experienced in the strange and evil as Dr. Tessitore, it could very well be possible that this creature was spawned from the volcano itself, tasked with ascending from the depths to beat the asses of some mouthy modern trespassers.

Or maybe it swam here across the Pacific ocean. It's a 50 50 bet either way, really.


As responses go, the beast's isn't a particularly eloquent one. But in that single, throat shredding gargle of a roar, it manages to convey a few very important facts. It is incredibly hungry, and incredibly pissed off. And, something is going to be done about one or both of these problems.

Bits of rubber sluffs off of the creature's right boot as it plants its foot on the slope and leaps, hurtling the last 25 feet between itself and its guests in a single bound. The fog swirls about its form as it flies through the air, flames flaring up along its body and heavy black coat opening around it like a pair of hellish bat wings.

As it descends, the monster's target becomes clear. Both gloved hands snap down in an attempt to grab the hoof-footed girl by her antlers, boots slamming into the earth to either side of her with sprays of ash. If a grip can be secured on the nimble yet unfortunate girl, it will twist her neck harshly to the side and slam her face-first into the scorching ground, holding her their with one hand as the rest of her clothing begins to catch fire. And with its other hand it will reach up and drag the burning scarf from its face, revealing scarred lips pulled back from rows of jagged fangs, little droplets of blood dripping from their tips to patter sizzling to the hot earth.

It seems that the blood starved beast has no interest in the blue-skinned woman, nor in her spider-like appendages. Perhaps surprisingly of all, it has no interest in her stylish tankini. Truly it must be a monster to withstand the charms of the doctor. What stands foremost in its mind seems to be food. So maybe it's a typical man after all. Feed it, and gain a path to its heart.

Lord Dohma has kept a low profile for the past few decades; it has only been within recent years that he's started to branch back out and draft other humanoids into his army. Lord Dohma is a big picture guy; he can't be bothered with the minutiae of running and maintaining a standing army, and prefers to let other people do the hard work. Lately, though, his battle thralls have been overconfident and underperformant. Part of it is a cultural problem. Another is that he was getting civilians -- people who are not used to combat as a day-to-day reality -- rather than battle-hardened veterans to do his fighting.

Chada had already been pretty nervous -- but to be pulled along as an escort for spider-armed Tess just made her even more wary. She eyes the figure with uncertainty, biting her lower lip at how gaudy the Italian woman's taunt was. The Majigen mistress' humor rarely goes over well with the down-to-earth Congo natives, after all.
The hunter's attack is where where Chada's instincts kick in -- instincts wisely suited towards the lightweight frame of a gazelle. Tess chose her enhancements well -- Chada whips her head sideways, parrying aside the attempted grab as she simultaneously twists to the side in an asymmetrical leap away. Her escape does not come without a cost though: the monster's gloved hands catch hold of her fatigues hip pocket, shredding it downwards and taking a good portion of the cloth along with it.
All things considered, Chada got off easy, her heart pounding as she doubles down on her escape route, vaulting away at full tilt until she's at least a hundred feet away -- and only then does she turn around, raising her fists.

The hunter is fast. Tess was granted a reprieve, and yet, Chada is far enough away that she's now left without another choice. She raises her open hands, widening her stance. She intends to fight if the situation calls for it, and her spider arms are at the ready, black exoskeleton standing in marked contrast to the volcanic backdrop.

"My, you -are- an interesting one. I can't wait to cut you open and see what makes you tick..." She may not posess a weapon, per se, but the battlefield is clearly in her favor -- and despite being unarmed, she has quite ample offensive capabilities.

COMBATSYS: Dr. Tessitore has started a fight here.

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Dr. Tessitore    0/-------/-======|

COMBATSYS: The Hunter has joined the fight here.

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The Hunter       0/-------/-------|======-\-------\0    Dr. Tessitore

Left with nothing but a scrap of smoldering cloth in its fist and a whiff of fear in its nostrils, the starving beast drops the cloth to the ground and finishes tearing the scarf away from its face, bloody drool dripping down its chin. The better smelling of the two creatures is fast. Perhaps it could catch the meat, but why bother when there is a less wily one standing so close.

"You," The monstrosity whispers through a toothy snarl, rounding on the blue-skinned doctor with sudden ferocity, "are talking meat. Learn your place and BLEED." The last word is stretched into a growl, golden eyes burning with hateful rage as it pants, sucking in great lung-fulls of the toxic air.

And then it springs. Displaying a certain amount of lithe, inhuman grace, the monster hurls itself off of the ground with ferocious speed, lashing out in an attempt to hammer the sole of his non melting foot hard into Tessitore's face. The intent is to use her fine-boned features as a spring board, to flip himself backward through the air and gain some distance. Behind him his burning coat trails like the fluttering tail of a comet.

COMBATSYS: Dr. Tessitore fails to counter Sign From Above from The Hunter with Metastasis.
- Power fail! -

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The Hunter       0/-------/------=|======-\-------\0    Dr. Tessitore

Chada drops low, watching the fight from her vantage point. Her keen vision is focused intensely upon the monstrosity threatening her drill instructor. She has no great love for Tess, but the fact remains that the scientist has done so much for her in the past. A life debt can not be effaced so easily.

Tess, though, just shakes her head. "Talking meat?" she parrots back, the hint of a smirk creeping across her lips. She is confident, her keen senses showing her exactly what sort of measure of a man she's dealing with -- a rage-fueled construct of sheer aggression. The arachnid-armed doctor is even a bit smug, feeling that all she has to do is predict the most violent and brutal assault possible, and implement measures to deal with that.

"See, I -like- bleeding..." she starts, leaping backwards with a bit of a twist to her hips. It seems as if she aims to carry herself back and out of the way, with her arms swinging in to capitalize on the hunter's fall from grace.

The problem is that she hasn't accounted for her fancy Italian sandals sticking to the floor, their soles fusing with the igneous material. Grimacing, she realizes her folly much too late, as the heel of the hunter rams directly into her face, cracking the cheekbone and sending her head snapping back like the hammer on a pistol. Her spider limbs flail about limply from the violent shift in momentum, meaning that the tankini'd woman falls right onto her keister. And is now on fire.
In a further indignity, her sandal straps broke during the fall.

It hurts - it hurts a lot. Panic flits across her features as she stares back at the hunter's fluttering coat -- panic interrupted only as her spider physiology begins to reassert control. The four legs attached to her back scurry into action, picking her off the molten ground and righting herself again, a good ten feet away from the hunter. And her sandals.
She makes a scooping, beckoning gesture, which seems odd and out of place until the result of such is made clear: further up hill, Chada rushes off to alert the others.
"So it's meat you want, hmm? What if I gave you an... opportunity for a lot MORE meat instead?"

The beast does not so much flip as roll backward through the air, uncoiling from a tight ball an instant before boots and gloved hands impact the scorching earth. The force of its backward momentum digs short trenches in the ash as it slides to a halt, lambent gaze glaring at the downed doctor through its tangled hair.

"All the blood I wish can be drawn from your worthless corpse." The monster hisses, voice nearly drown by the quiet but constant growl of the volcano. It slips continue to bleed, little cuts being made on their insides as they rub against its fangs with each word. No creature of nature would have teeth such as that, so Jagged and raw in the mouth of the man.

Pounding its fist hard into the ground, it springs forward into a frontal charge. There is no skill. No finesse in its moves. The initial assessment of a rage-filled brute is likely correct, as it now chooses to close in a dead charge, attempting to slam shoulder-first into Dr. Tessitore's gut and grip her right thigh in one burning hand. If successful, it will slam her back-first into the ground and tumble over her, dragging her leg along behind it. Then, rising to its feet, it will sprint across the steaming ground, dragging her chest-first through the smoldering ash for a good 15 feet before whirling and tossing her carelessly away.

As they linger in the extreme heat, more of its clothing begins to puff into flame. However, unlike Tess and those of her army, it seems to have no fear of the flames. In fact, it appears to lack fear entirely.

COMBATSYS: The Hunter successfully hits Dr. Tessitore with Combo Grapple.
- Power hit! -

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The Hunter       0/-------/------=|=======\-------\1    Dr. Tessitore

Tess doesn't seem to agree with the notion that her blood would be enough. "Ah, you'll need a lot more than that... Sure, I might keep you sated for -now-, but you need to keep one eye on the future!" He's talking, that's more than Tess can say for some creatures she's encountered. "And in the near future, kindly expect an--"

Tess doesn't get the chance to finish, as the creature pounds his fist into the ground. While she's narrowing her eyes at what she considers to be a sub-optimal prelude for further violence, the hunter lurches forward and catches her in the gut with his shoulder. The woman finds herself hurled backwards into the molten ground, tumbled over, and then dragged about by her shapely leg that's much more suited to yoga practice than savaging the mess out of the beast like she'd prefer. Tess looses a multitude of pained grunts as she's dragged across the molten floor, her limbs scrabbling for purchase - and finding none - across the fiery gravel. The front of her tankini is now fully ablaze, with the fabric is starting to develop a rather large gash down the lower front, fabric straining to contain the Italian's ample assets. Mercifully, she is tossed free like a shotput, her eight limbs spinning like a pinwheel as she sails away.

The landing isn't much better -- a plume of fiery lava is churned up as the doctor is hurled into the obsidian-flecked gravel, her jet-black limbs straining against the disproportionate stresses applied to them.

Common sense would tell her to stay down, to wait for the hunter to approach.
Tess has never much been one for common sense. Especially not now, as Chada returns with the others in the company. It's more fun to stand and watch than actually fight, and it's not like their DI is going to be able to chastise them...

Tess smiles faintly as she rises once more, one hand lazily brushing off the fire and brimstone from her rapidly-disintegrating tankini. She's not -especially- modest, but the fire is, unsurprisingly, very hot and bothersome. Even if her pain receptors have been blissfully diminished due to her recent changes. She reaches for the blue vial hung about her neck, wrenches it off of its chain -- and rapidly quaffs the contents. Mindful of the audience at her back, she notes, "As I was saying, ladies and gentlemen -- think -beyond- the flesh. It is the mind that fuels you."

Her wrist is flung towards the hunter -- though rather, to a spot just -past- him. It seems like a meaningless gesture, though the truth is that she'd aimed a silvery filament to entangle with its brethren on the other side of him. On her arrival, she had deployed a thin interlocking mat of webbing all across the battlefield, with the aim to provide an interesting challenge to her trainees. But now, the premeditated action may be coming to fruition as Tess attempts to ensnare her aggressor within her web -- can she in fact make the hunter into the prey?

COMBATSYS: Dr. Tessitore successfully hits The Hunter with Experimental Battery.
- Power hit! -

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The Hunter       0/-------/--=====|==-----\-------\0    Dr. Tessitore

With the hunter ensnared like a fly, Tess tugs back sharply on her line. The web itself pulses, distorts -- and the web itself even seems to come -alive- with the exertion, constricting tightly down upon the monstrosity. But more than that -- the web itself begins to glow, intensely enough to even overpower the brilliance of the fiery flow surrounding them. The fire may burn, but this energy is... different. Transformative, akin to growing pains or a cramp that wants to twist the muscles in a completely contrary direction to their nature. Jedah Dohma's powers work in dangerous and unholy fashions, and he has been willing to share some of his secrets with the doctor -- in the form of her own accursed body.

"You make a -grand- mistake in underestimating the powers of the greatest mind to ever serve the mighty Lord Dohma! Ahahahaha!"


A guttural snarl rises up from the beast's chest as the mess of chi-infused webs converge on it, forcing its arms to its sides and dragging it forward to tumble gracelessly across the scorched earth. Yet more fire begins to spread across its coat and hair, rising up from the ground to lick hungrily across the monster's struggling body.

Soon the flames are joined with an upsurge in energy, the brilliantly unholy energy coursing down the webs and forcing a path through the creature's body.

"HRAAAAAAAAAAGH!" The beast roars out in pain and fury as its muscles cramp and writhe beneath the fire, its own warped form attempting to tear itself apart.

Its boot heels catch the ground and it surges upright, staring across the final 7 feet that separate it from the blue-skinned beauty. Where her costume seems to be coming apart, revealing yet more of her tantalizing body, the creature before her is now nearly consumed in fire.

But still its eyes glow hottest of all. Outshining even the energy that cocoons it. For there is nothing on this island, and very few things in existence, that can eclipse the beast's hatred.

The webs snap, bursting apart into glowing ribbons that hang from the hellish monster's flaming form, trailing loosely across the volcanic gravel. Flexing its arms, the creature takes one step forward, then hurls itself head-first toward the tittering woman, attempting to smash its flaming head squarely into her chest and tumble right on over into a graceful front flip, landing in a neat crouch with its back turned toward her.

Only then does it seem to take notice of the crowd of monsters that stand about them. Opening its mouth, it snarls at the lot of them, daring them with its fury to join. To aid their mistress. As it snarls, flames lick across the scarf around its neck, and heat billows out from it.

The visible skin of its face has begun to darken and char, scars leaking wetness that drips like sweat. But still it pants. Still it ignores the fire consuming it.

COMBATSYS: Dr. Tessitore blocks The Hunter's Preeminence.

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The Hunter       0/-------/----===|==-----\-------\0    Dr. Tessitore

Well, that's... troubling. Tess had expected her web to be able to hold up to the aggressor long enough for her merry band of men to descend upon him like a pack of wolves. But, alas -- the web snaps apart like a flimsy net against the might of the enraged hunter. The Italian woman drops her end of the web as soon as it loses cohesion, her arachnid appendages curling around her defensively. Hands are raised, her supple skin presenting much less armor than the hunter's inflamed clothing -- and yet the real trick with the doctor's defenses is in -how- she deals with the attack. The creature's headbutt is met with both palms upraised -- but at precisely the same instant, all four of her spider arms impose themselves in the path of the beast, providing a countermeasure of defense. The barefooted doctor skids backwards in a hiss of steam and fury; not even her unnaturally blue skin is immune to the heat, charring and toughening from the extended contact with the hot coals.

"Hrrrraaah?" is her reply, her mocking tone thick with condescension, even as she pulls her palms away from the beast. The skin of her palms is nearly bone-white from their exertion against the powerful charge of the hunter; she shakes the numbness out with mild irritation. "That sounds like desperation... I have to say, it's not looking good for you...!" The woman twists sharply to the side, sending her two right spider limbs forward, one at the shoulder and the other the waistband of his trousers. Should she manage to grab hold, she'd continue spinning about, whipping the intruder around in a dizzying spin, before hurling him like a hammer into the ground before her students. "Hnn!"

COMBATSYS: The Hunter blocks Dr. Tessitore's Strong Throw.

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The Hunter       0/-------/---====|====---\-------\0    Dr. Tessitore

Glaring out at the ring of darkstalkers surrounding him, the hunter seems to have temporarily forgotten the blue-skinned vixen that he has been trying so hard to murderate. However, Her existence snaps sharply back into focus when he feels two of her spider legs grab him, one at the hip pocket of his coat and the other at the shoulder. With strength far beyond what her musculature would suggest she swings him up and around, arcing the flaming beast down in what she hopes will be a violent collision with the earth.

A blast of grey smoke roils up from the creature as it impacts the ground, briefly obscuring it from sight. However, through it, two pin points of lambent gold can be seen, glaring unblinkingly out at the world.

When the smoke drifts apart, it reveals the smoldering hunter, flames somewhat diminished, crouched with one fist cratered into the ground.

Apparently punching the god damn planet is a valid defensive technique if you're angry enough.

There is no snarl. No shout as the monster lunges up from the ground in an attempt to grab the Doctor's top two spider legs and wrench them violently down. Lips smeared with its own blood, razor teeth bared, it attempts to bind the pretty woman's human arms in against her body with her own spider legs, before swooping in to sink its vicious fangs deep into the exposed flesh of her left shoulder. More than any before, this is a wild, anomalistic technique meant to savage its prey. To draw blood and temporarily sate its driving hunger. Unfortunately for it, it has not the brain power remaining at the moment to recall that Tess has four spider legs, not two.

COMBATSYS: Dr. Tessitore counters Bloody Banquet from The Hunter with Double Blind.

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The Hunter       0/-------/--=====|=======\-------\0    Dr. Tessitore

Dr. Tessitore stays mindful of the trainees watching her every move, every hitch of her ribcage, every twitch of her curvaceous form as she hunches forward slightly. The battle is taking its toll on her, with scorch marks singing her skin, and a few wisps of flame licking at her hair. She commits to her attacks with almost salacious glee, fully aware that the soldiers are gawking at every ounce of her perfection in the face of such obvious danger.

This is, of course, part of their test of situational awareness -- the creature is even closer to them now than before, and if he so chose he could even snatch one of them away for the crime of failing to pay attention to such a dangerous beast. If Tess were -really- concerned about her trainees, she would not have thrown danger so close to them, but no -- despite the position of superiority, they need to comprehend the -threat- inherent in fighting someone with such drive, such determination.

A tongue darts out, sliding across Tess' lips as she stares back at the hunter, gazing at him through the drifting cloud of smoke. The golden eyes -- they actually bring a smile to the lips of the doctor.

She can read the beast's intentions as clearly as if they were written on paper. Those limbs -- those -limbs- are what's made him angry. And just as with a monster hunter from many months ago, the urge to break those fragile-seeming limbs must be unbearable for the reckless monstrosity. Once she notices his gaze reach up to them, she knows what she must do -- swing them back out of his reach, like a dog's master cruelly jerking the strips of bacon tantalizingly out of its reach, forcing the hunter to overextend if he wants to accomplish his goal.

How does she do that? By leaning backwards onto said arms, using her lower arms to support her weight while retracting her pedipalps entirely. Her hands slap forward, the spinnerets on her wrists coating the creature liberally with fluid webs, each pulsing with the same chi energy as before.

And as she continues to lean backward, she brings her knees up into the aggressor's abdomen, using them as a fulcrum by which to fling him up and over her head -- which is to say, sideways.

The webs pull taut about six feet beyond her, and as Tess twists back to an upright position, she pulls sharply upon him, sending the hunter flying onto his back.

Tess raises a hand, sifting her fingers through her short black hair. "Indulge me for a moment, if you would... do you honestly believe you have a chance to defeat -all- of us?" She spends a moment adjusting the fit of her tankini top, grimacing to learn that the stretchy fabric is just about to give out on her. "Why do you persist in attacking, I wonder...?"

Pain, rage, hunger. These are the driving forces of the beast that Tessitore faces. Base desires, but powerful none-the-less.

Unfortunately for it, as these urges grow, they swamp the mind. Dulling it. Making it difficult to focus. To plan. The Doctor would likely be surprised had she known the sort of man this beast used to be. A growing legend among hunters. A prodigy .

No more.

The creature takes the bait hook and sinker, lunging toward the retreating arms without thought for consequences. Thusly it is caught easily in the ascending webs, lashed tight and catapulted over Tess's head to smash into the ground with a spray of heated gravel.

But why does it fight? Why when it is so clearly outmatched? if not by Tes herself, than by the 30 odd soldiers that surround it.

The answer comes as a bellow of hate, a sharp, raw roar of abject fury. Webs snap, and smoke billows as the monster surges to its feet. Grabbing its flaming coat by the lapels, it gives a sharp yank, tearing the majority of the garment off of its body and wadding it into a ball. All that remains are the lower sleeves, torn away and hanging in burning tatters, the right nearly scorched away by the brilliantly glowing chain it wears.

And then, meeting the doctor's eye with burning malice, it hucks the flaming projectile directly at her face.

Though there are no words, the intent behind it is clear. This monster subjects itself to no master. It bows to no one. All things are prey to it. There is strong prey. There is weak prey. There is blood unworthy of tasting. But Tess is nothing but meat to it.

Such an attitude will have to be broken, or else altered. It is really unhealthy.

COMBATSYS: Dr. Tessitore blocks The Hunter's Thrown Object.

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The Hunter       0/-------/--=====|=======\-------\1    Dr. Tessitore

The trainees are definitely paying more attention to Dr. Tessitore than to her preternaturally powerful opponent -- the men moreso than the women, naturally. Every move she makes screams utter confidence and assurance, as she has made a study of the lay of the land, right down to the centimeter, as part of her preliminary site survey. She has to be sure she can challenge her students, after all...

Still, while it is definitely exhilarating to the Italian woman, the damage she's taken is completely detrimental to the point of bringing them here to begin with. They're supposed to be fighting each other -- and as much as the drill instructor mentality would bark at them to continue their paired sparring matches, she needs the insurance more. An unaware group of trainees, even as battle-hardened as this former Congolese war party, is effectively a couple dozen sides of meat in the face of this bloodthirsty killer.

"Don't just watch -me-, you bastards... Be mindful of what's around you, ladies and gentlemen..." cautions Tess as she starts stepping towards the beast. Her eyes gleam with red light, irises approximating slits as she stares back at the hunter. What is he -doing-, she wonders -- and then the cloth tears, flames fluttering in the violent motions.
Tess smiles. And when the balled-up coat comes flying towards her, she twists to one side and slams her shoulder into the projectile, deadening its momentum.
The nearest two arms snatch the stilled coat out of midair, drawing it to the other four and picking the tucks and folds out of the tattered and flaming overcoat. "Aww, a gift? For -me?-"

As Tessitore resumes her steady walk towards the monstrosity, her limbs go into overdrive, picking and prodding at the coat.
In mere moments, the full coat drapes down. Tess calmly raises her arms to both sides, the coat sinking down on top of her as her hands slide through the armholes. And as she pulls her arms out...
Fabric snaps: the last bind of elastic on the tankini top has been stretched beyond its limit with that gesture.
In the same instant, the doctor smiles broadly, beginning a wide and graceful pirouette into the air. With a sickeningly sing-song voice, she chirps out, "You shouldn't have!" in mid-flight. Her vault is assisted by her lower two antenniform arms pushing off the surface of the volcanic gravel. When the coat is at rest, her curvaceous form will have considerably more coverage than with her tattered swimsuit alone -- but that is, of course, incumbent on gravity, momentum, and the flapping of the coat. Some of the flapping is minimized by her two pedipalp arms rending a hole through the charred and brittle back of the coat. The hunter, though, will not be able to appreciate the damage if she lands her attack -- if she manages to dazzle the beast with her spinning reversal of his coat attack, she'll have managed to get both of her hands about his throat. And she'll also have managed to use her angular velocity to wrench him over sideways and slam him through a raging gout of steam which had -just- started to erupt from the ground below -- in fact, it had just shown -signs- of its eruption at the start of the attack.

COMBATSYS: The Hunter parries Dr. Tessitore's Medium Throw!

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The Hunter       0/-------/--=====|=======\-------\1    Dr. Tessitore

Standing before the spider queen, its tattered black shirt exposed, bolt-filled leather bandoliers crossed across its lean chest, the monstrosity clenches its hands into fists. Odd that its outfit appears so militant. Crossbow bolts? A silver chain? Who was this man before he changed?

There is no lust in the eyes of the monster aside from the lust for violence. Its tangled black hair hangs in smoking cobwebs across its badly scarred face, burned features set and hard with fury. Whoever he was, he was not attractive. His features are too lean. Too sharp. It is a marked difference to the beauty of his opponent.

Who is now effectively topless, flying through the air toward it.

Diving forward, the beast rolls lithely across the ground, steam erupting from its body as it passes just beneath the twirling Doctor's scorched toes. Lunging upright in her wake, it spins, gravel tossed from beneath its boots in a burning spray toward the ring of darkstalkers. its gloved left hand lashes out, attempting to grab the woman by her calf and heave backwards, jerking her out of the air and planting her face-first in the ash. But that isn't the worst of it, for if it can get the grip it wants, it will drag her backward, lifting her blue-skinned leg high. Aside from giving those watching an excellent show, it will bring the back of her thigh into biting distance. And bite the beast will, swooping in to sink vicious fangs deep into the tender meat there. To savage it. To drink deeply of the Doctor's blood.

COMBATSYS: Dr. Tessitore counters Feast Of Flesh EX from The Hunter with Scientific Method.

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The Hunter       1/------=/=======|==-----\-------\0    Dr. Tessitore

Dr Tessitore can be a bit dense at times, but upon seeing the bandolier, and the silver chain, it starts to make an odd sort of sense. The man has a tormented past, she surmises, and that has likely lended to his peculiar intensity and familiarity with his craft. It does not explain the hunger for human flesh, however -- though she -does- seem to recall overhearing a moment of his internal debate. Curious, but unresolved.

She has better things to think about as her pirouetting grapple misses its mark in spectacular fashion, her hand bathed in steam. She rapidly withdraws her hands, hissing at the sudden sensation of heat, only to find that her opponent is rolling about in the coals. With a quick gesture, her hands whip back down to her sides, flattening the long and tattered sides of the coat down along her hips...

Her disciples up above reflexively raise their hands to shield their eyes, their once-human reflexes still firmly in control. They aren't hurt -- not now -- but the reaction shows they are heeding some of Tess' advice.

When the monstrosity lunges for her feet, though, he will find that the gesture of modesty had a bit more heft to it -- his gloved hand will connect not with her leg but with a firm strand of spider web, shot just moments before by her wrist spinnerets. As the Italian beauty transfers weight to her trailing foot, the coals beneath her foe's hand are tugged upwards, slinging like a bola around the man's wrist, trapping him and mitigating some of his forward momentum. By this point, Tess raises her leading foot and plants her heel on the man's shoulder. Pressing downwards while maintaining pressure on the captive wrist, a cruel smile plays across her features; her superior leverage cuts off the hunter's brutal and terrifying attack before it can even begin -- and presses him into the hot coals, to boot.

Wrapping her end of the silken fibers around her wrist to maintain tension, she raises her bare arm -- as the sleeves of the jacket are now too short, even on her smaller-statured figure -- to her forehead. And begins to wipe some sweat off her brow, as a small breeze wafts through, sending the coat into a flutter of motion. "Oh, my, it -is- starting to get hot, finally..."

With one final stomp to the base of the man's neck, she leaps backwards to a safer distance, not wanting to chance sticking around for him to break the hold. Raising a hand to the chafed and abraded skin of her her now-exposed breastbone, Tess coos back to her followers, "Now, you see...? Always be planning ahead..."

Thwarted and stomped face-first into the ash, the once hunter lies there, trembling. There is little reaction as the follow up heal crashes into the base of its neck. perhaps serious damage has been done? perhaps the hunter has finally fallen.

Its gloved hands dig into the scorching earth and it pushes itself quietly to its feet. There is no lunging. No screaming. In fact, the silence is completely out of character for what it has shown thus far. As it straightens, burning embers sluffing off of its shirt, it draws in a deep breath of toxic air.

And screams.

Throwing back its head, the once man lets out a hellish shriek unlike anything Tess is likely to have heard. If put through enough pain, all animals sound the same. Horses. Dogs. Humans. They all scream. But this is something worse. Something that stretches far deeper than pain. It is not a screech of this earth.

The sound tears itself out of the tormented creature. A damned wail of agony and hate, of alien fury beyond imagining. Slowly it rises higher and higher, echoing out across the land while the beast spreads its arms, gloved hands curled into fists.

The sound cuts off abruptly as the being charges. There is a coldness in its eyes. it has passed beyond fury. Beyond mere anger. the look that it gives the pretty doctor contains all the fathomless emotion of the void between stars. It does not hate her. It does not even want to eat her. it merely wants her gone. To remove her from existence.

Ash is thrown high into the air with each step as it closes the distance frighteningly quickly. As it nears, both hands lash forward to grab whatever they can find. Leg, arm, spidery appendage, throat. it matters not. For if it gets that grip, Dr. Tessitore will find herself being flung straight up to the extent of its reach, before being slammed hard into the ground...

COMBATSYS: The Hunter successfully hits Dr. Tessitore with The Frailty Of Man.

[                       \\\\\\\  < >  ///////////                   ]
The Hunter       0/-------/------=|====---\-------\0    Dr. Tessitore

A great puff of dust rises up from where Tess impacts the ground, but before there can be time to appreciate it, she is torn free from her crater and swung in a vicious, high-G maneuver, the beast arcing her around to impact a jutting piece of rock. The rock shatters, flying apart with the force of the blow, but still the beast does not release her.

Dragging the Doctor free from the rubble, it swings her a final time, gathering momentum before launching her like a beautiful blue missile right at the face of a towering grey brute who has shuffled too close to the fight.

Teeth bared and shoulders hunched, the creatures pants loudly as it begins to stalk through the vaporous mist, slowly stalking after its discarded meal.

Dr. Tessitore had not expected to fight a stranger when she came to this crater. She expected to be training her Congolese fighters into lean, mean, killing machines and showing them how to utilize their fearsome new abilities.
She did not expect to be staring down at the monstrosity before her, her heart pounding in her chest, her chafed skin rubbing against the inside of an unfamiliar longcoat.
But moreover, she certainly did not expect the shrieking. Oh no, the shrieking. The doctor clamps both hands over her ears at that.

She -does- expect anger, though -- and she even has a reaction in mind for that. When the cry is cut off, she reflexively leaps backwards, using her antenniform legs to vault even higher than expected. At least, she -would- have vaulted higher, had she not vastly underestimated the speed of her injured opponent. A plaintive yelp is heard from the Italian as her ankle is clutched, and then abruptly wrenched in an alternate vector, pulling the rest of her behind it.

For a few moments, modesty becomes a moot point as the longcoat is dragged about in the wake of the airborne doctor. She impacts hard, a small spray of dark crimson spattering out onto the coals as the doctor collides with them, head-first.

Again, she is lifted, little more than a makeshift club; the spindly arachnid arms coil around her, but are of little comfort as they do nothing to discourage the stony projection from battering her ribcage. Not the kind of beauty treatment she feels she deserves, to say the least.

But the most disgraceful display is when she is flung into her own hulking gray disciple -- who only manages to reach up to catch her -after- she's already collided with his craglike chest.

Still -- she is caught. And she is lowered back to her feet, hurriedly flattening the coat lapels back against her shapely form. She coughs -- a wet, wracking, cough that shakes her from head to toe. A hand reaches up to her forehead, futile in its attempt to wipe away the blood seeping forth from a rather large gash therein.

"You're about to come down with a very bad fever. I recommend staying off your feet." Dr. Tessitore hops back down the hill, breaking into a run as soon as she lands. She doesn't care about the longcoat flaring open, as it's become obvious that the hateful hunter doesn't either. No, she just runs at him, full bore.

And then she leaps into the air, twisting sideways in an attempt to dropkick -past- the monstrosity. Not because she can't aim, but because she's hoping to catch the beast around the neck and use her momentum to choke the very will to fight out of him -- or at the very least, topple him down to the ground once more.

COMBATSYS: The Hunter blocks Dr. Tessitore's Invasive Treatment.

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The Hunter       0/-------/------=|====---\-------\0    Dr. Tessitore

The rage is gone. The hate is gone. The golden eyes that track Tessitore's less than graceful descent from the arms of her minion are absent of all human emotion. In them there is only coldness and void.

Flames lick up the beast's jeans as it crunches a slow path up the slope of the volcano. Behind it, ash trickles into the depressions left by its melting boots, working to erase any sign that it was ever here.

As it clearly intends to do to the Doctor.

Her sprinting charge is met with yet more cold indifference. There is no fear. There never has been.

When she leaps, the monster digs its right toe into the ashy gravel and leans forward, butting its forehead into the crook of her arm with cold impassivity. As it does so, its right fist blurs up in a heavy strike aimed to smash the woman up into the air.

If it can manage to knock her off of it, it will turn and swing a wild haymaker into her airborne body, sending her crushing into the crumbling slope. Then it will advance upon her, fists swinging in a chaotic flurry of heavy, sledgehammer blows. No strike will be aimed at anything in particular, the creature swinging again, and again, and again in a brutal attempt to hammer the unfortunate woman down into foggy darkness.

COMBATSYS: Dr. Tessitore blocks The Hunter's Rapturous Violence.

[                           \\\  < >  ////////                      ]
The Hunter       0/-------/------=|=====--\-------\0    Dr. Tessitore

Dr. Tessitore doesn't have any grand delusions of being a 'hero' or 'doing the right thing.' She'd just kindly like to get on with the duty she's been tasked with, and that means neutralizing the one threat to her success. By herself, if possible, because the vampire cabal hasn't been that thrilled about always having to bail her keister out of all the messes she finds herself mired within.

In short, the Italian woman is pretty angry. No matter how fast she wipes the blood away, her forehead remains a sticky mass of crimson fluid. Her brows are knitted in anger. And she is -done- screwing around right now.

She realizes the need to adjust her strike as soon as her arm strike is met with a forehead instead of a substantially weaker windpipe. Twisting away, she's able to hurl her elbow in the path of the fist hurtling into her abdomen.

It's only marginally successful at deflecting the blow -- her flight is redirected, though not quite in the intended vector. The blue-skinned woman's arachnid arms whip out to correct her chaotic momentum in mid-air, allowing her to whip her knee up to meet the first wild haymaker that crashes into her. She flies backwards from this, as well -- without being grounded against the hot coals, Fio doesn't have the mass to stop her flight. But she doesn't hit the crumbling slope head-on: this is where her arachnid limbs save her yet again, allowing her to flip up and above the slope rather than being trapped within its collapsing confines.

So when the flurry of heavy sledgehammer blows, Fio -- smiling once more -- has the high ground, meaning that she aims to simply wait for him to throw the next punch.
It's at that moment that she chooses to leap -toward- the extended arm, making full use of the long coat. Her ultimate plan: to wrap both her legs about the outstretched arm, gripping the fist with both hands -- and use her weight to flip the bulkier man over top of her and slam him into the collapsing slope. All's fair in war, she figures...

COMBATSYS: The Hunter parries Dr. Tessitore's Quick Throw!

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The Hunter       0/-------/----===|=====--\-------\0    Dr. Tessitore

Out of all the volcano's, on all of the islands, in all of the oceans, Dr. Tessitore was unfortunate enough to have chosen the one that housed a psychotic X hunter with a blood fetish. But really, all of this could have been avoided if she'd just fed the beast. Been neighborly. Allowed it to tear one or two of her men limb from limb.

This is the price of loyalty.

Hot breath is exhaled into Tess's face as the creature leans forward into her leap, both gloved fists darting forward between her outstretched legs. IN a maneuver that might get funny looks on the tournament scene, the creature smacks the outside of its fists against the inside of the woman's thighs, knocking her bare knees apart and down. Then, with the insane agility it has demonstrated on multiple occasions, it performs a short little leap, attempting to stomp down hard on Tess's right thigh and bury her foot to the ankle in the scalding ash.

If the stomp can be made, it will use the strike as a springboard for a rising knee to the doctor's face, embers shaking loose of its flaming jeans. Finally, it will end the maneuver by reaching down to grip the beautiful woman's shoulders through its coat and rolling backwards, driving both booted feet into her gut and flipping her up and over its head to smash back-first into the smoking ground beneath it.

COMBATSYS: Dr. Tessitore dodges The Hunter's Ascendance EX.

[                           \\\  < >  ////////                      ]
The Hunter       0/-------/-----==|=====--\-------\0    Dr. Tessitore

Dr. Tessitore frowns as her attempt at grabbing hold of the man not only puts her in a compromising position, it puts her in a -badly- compromising position. When she finds her knees getting pried apart, she pushes hard against the shove with her right knee. The net effect is to send her spinning about in midair so that she lands on one side, allowing her right hand to contact the pile of rock first. Her palm is lanced by a small fiery stone, which kind of hurts, but not as much as getting stomped into the rocks, and certainly not as much as getting flipped up and over the monster's head like he'd intended. The flexible darkstalker curls up, digging her right heel and spider limbs into the flaming coals, scurrying up hill just fractions of an inch ahead of the hunter's attacks!

But when she clears out from the attack, she sees fit to reverse her direction sharply. A pirouette, like before, ought to be enough to allow her to spinkick the man down the hill.

The trouble is, the coat is whipping around a bit more quickly than she is. In the midst of her spin, she'd removed one arm from the jacket, using the coat as a flail to distract the taller man -- and coil around his arm, entrapping it.

The other arm, though, is free to lash out in a different direction. With a quick flick of her wrist, webbing rushes outward -- and if she connects, she'll use it as additional leverage to pull herself away -- and slam the hunter face-first into the hot coals again.

COMBATSYS: The Hunter dodges Dr. Tessitore's Placebo Effect.

[                           \\\  < >  ///////                       ]
The Hunter       0/-------/-----==|=====--\-------\0    Dr. Tessitore

"hrrah." Breathes the beast as Tessitore scrambles backward away from it, cold golden eyes tracking her retreat as its foot comes smashing down just inches from her darting toes.

Large smoldering holes show through its clothing, revealing burned skin covered in a network of old scars. No area is spared. Not the patches visible of its chest, calves, or shoulders. Little bits of burnt skin flake away from the face, but still its teeth are bared. Still little drips of blood well up from its lips to patter sizzling to the ground. Still its long black hair flickers with fire.

Tearing its foot free of the earth, the monster steps forward into Tess's oncoming twirl. Its left forearm lifts, accepting the lashing coat. As planned, the garment curls tightly around it, leaving the mostly naked doctor free to bring her other hand around and...

The problem with tying yourself to an insane monstrosity that wants to kill you, is that you've tied yourself to an insane monstrosity that wants to kill you.

The beast skitters a step to the side, allowing the webbing to blast past it and spread hissing across the gravel. Then, with casually brutal strength, it uses the coat that is wrapped around its arm to swing Tess through the air like a slender blue wrecking ball. Unless she is able to extract herself from the coat, or otherwise arrest her momentum, the creature will pound her head-first into the side of the mountain, and begin to reel her in, pulling the coat closer hand over hand.

COMBATSYS: Dr. Tessitore fails to counter Quick Throw from The Hunter with Improvised Throw.
- Power fail! -

[                           \\\  <
The Hunter       0/-------/----===|

COMBATSYS: Dr. Tessitore can no longer fight.

[                           \\\  <
The Hunter       0/-------/----===|

Tess frowns as the remains of her tankini flutter, held on only by spaghetti straps, gravity, and the ever-ephemeral whims of the wind. The coat is still half on -- and she regrets not taking it off entirely at this point. A brief flash of inspiration occurs to her, as she begins to pull on her strand of webbing, but it's too little, too late -- she's along for the ride. The webbing falls limp as she's used as a sledgehammer in a different direction entirely -- and her bleeding head begins to gush blood even moreso.
The coat is the least of her worries. ... Though to be fair, with the blackness pulling at the corners of her vision, she won't have much to worry about -at all-. She looks back up to the hunter as she's being pulled in... "Lord Dohma will... tear your flesh apart... one strand at a time..."

Then the hunter will feel the gray brute charging into him from the side. He had waited patiently. He is done waiting.

The gazelle lady that had gone on scout with her leaps afterwards, antlers-first. She aims to ram him into submission with all due haste.

Neither of these attacks would be much trouble for the hunter to deal with, were he fresh and fully capable. But, in all, these are only the first two of a cast of thirty. Alone, their strength would be trivial. But together... they have the capability of finishing him off. These would not be disposable grunts, as Dr. Tessitore was infamous for churning out before in the battle to determine Metro City's fate. No, these would be men and women who were a warlord's henchmen as humans, and only got uglier and more vicious with their transition into darkstalkers. Whether they will defeat him, though, will have to be a result that Dr. Tessitore learns later, as she rapidly fades to unconsciousness.
If she finds out at all.

Tessitore's body scrapes across the hot ground as the creature draws in its coat hand over hand, pulling her in close enough that it can reach down and grab her by the throat. Shoulders heaving with deep, panting breaths, the monster hauls its prey into the air and brings her in close.

For a moment, its dispassionate yellow eyes study her unconscious face. Bruised. Battered. Sticky with blood. The look holds no real passion. None of the fire that this monster originally burned with.

Bringing their faces yet closer together, the beast's rancid breath washes hot and damp over her battered features. And then, a leathery pinkish grey tongue slithers out to lick up the side of the woman's pretty face. Blood and volcanic ash come away from the blue skin as it gives her a quick tongue bath, savoring its pre-meal experience.

But soon she is dropped unceremoniously to the ground, greatcoat tangled about her form.

Having abandoned its prey for speed, the black-clad monster throws itself down and tumbles lithely between the legs of the grey behemoth that has so foolishly chosen to interrupt its feast. Springing up in its wake, the creature lifts both hands just in time to catch the oncoming gazelle roughly about the neck. Forced back a step to bleed off momentum, the monster then lunges forward and chomps viciously into the face of the unfortunate darkstalker, jagged fangs tearing away a large chunk of her forehead and nose.

AS it chews, the beast whips the thrashing gazelle around like a club, bashing its body into the face of the grey-skinned brute that has wheeled about to join them.

"Meat." The monster snarls with cold contempt, before smashing a vicious kick into the giant's knee cap.

Still, pure viciousness wont' be enough to win this fight. The blood-thirsty monster is a warrior. A fiend of battle, but it is tired. its breaths come in ragged gasps, burned skin cracking along its form.

Dodging a swipe from the fallen brute, the black-clad beast turns and sprints up the slope, heated dust flung up from beneath its mostly melted boots.

Three more darkstalkers converge on it, attempting to head it off, but it leaps into the air and smashes a double-footed kick into the leader, then springs into a double flip over the heads of those behind it. Landing in a rough crouch, the monster then charges away up the slope, stiff-arming a pursuing gazelle to the ground and vanishing into the filthy untamed jungle beyond.

Log created on 08:44:32 06/13/2016 by The Hunter, and last modified on 08:18:49 06/14/2016.