Description: Aranha and Alexis meet on the beach of Shang Tsung's island, each putting their energy to use before the beginning of Mortal Kombat in their own way. The two discuss their thoughts on the coming tournament, the use of music in martial arts, and a shared history of recent hospitalization.
The fights have been announced and the Dancing Spider, decided to spend it where symbolically it all began for him. At least where this particular chapter began. He was filled with nervous energy and if he wanted to have a chance at getting a full night's sleep, he was going to work it off.
There was no gym... At least not in a modern day conventional sense so he was deciding to make do with what he had. The beach, palm trees and ferns, the cliffs, the stairs and his own body weight.
He started by sprinting between two palm trees spread fairly wide apart and then jogging back and then repeating. He was not about to be caught out because he wasn't keeping himself in shape.
Numbering amongst those who hadn't arrived at Shang Tsung's island by boat, but had instead been summoned unwillingly by mystical means, Alexis had not had a chance yet to test the limits of the island's reach. Another complication of her arrival had been that in the process of summoning, she had been both disrobed and disarmed of the electric guitar she normally would have taken with her to the ends of the earth.
The issue of clothing had been resolved; she had initially been given a dress to wear, but when she'd learned that Kombat (of the Mortal variety) would be the focus of the coming days' events, Alexis had sought more practical attire. As a result, she'd been provided with a simple outfit that was at least easy enough to move in: a scarlet leotard of some shimmery material and matching, soft and flexible gloves and boots; certainly not the most questionable thing she'd ever been caught wearing.
That had left the issue of finding an instrument to substitute for the missing guitar - a task that had proven perhaps no less difficult than one might imagine. Ultimately, she'd swiped a knife from someone and opted to start fashioning something of her own.
Hence, she was to be found sitting on one of the flat rocks along the coast, a partially-hollowed length of wood in her hand, scraping and digging at its innards with the blade. There was something odd and indistinctly unpleasant about the shaft; it clearly wasn't wood from the palms lining the shore.
The young woman found her attention involuntarily diverted from her work by the sound of sand kicking up behind her, and turned her head to see Aranha jogging on the beach. The distraction (and her own mishandling) caused her to slip and slice her thumb, drawing blood from her skin and a curse from her lips. The red liquid dripped onto the would-be instrument, sinking into the wood perhaps a bit too quickly.
Not wanting to draw attention to her fumble, Alexis gave it a minute of working on her carving again before she turned her head over her shoulder again, calling to Aranha. She'd met him at the introductory banquet, but they hadn't really been properly introduced.
"Going to wear yourself out before all the fun shit starts, eh?"
He's getting to the tail end of the sprint and jog warm up before he hears the voice of the only other person on the beach. He goes into a stretching routine, starting with the arms, and then torso and back and then working down to the legs which includes multiple types of of splits.
As he stretches though he's glancing over at his company, the same person he recognized and who based on her look at him recognized him as well. He's not close enough to actually get full details about her but at the very least, he could see the beginnings of a musical instrument and he can see a little bit of the blood.
"Only just enough to be able to go to sleep tonight."
His gaze goes back to the guitar and then he speaks up once more.
"Looks like you're literally gonna put your blood and sweat into the making of that. I would add tears but you don't strike me as the crying type." He then adds with a bit of playfulness, "If I known there were gonna be musical instruments I would've brought my berimbau or atabaque and we could have a jam session."
Alexis' cheeks flush a scarlet that doesn't quite match the shade of her clothes or the blood on her instrument in depth or intensity when it becomes clear that the result of her misfortune hasn't gone unnoticed. The effect starts to fade quickly, though, and she clears her throat.
"Well, you're right about the crying bit," Alexis half-mutters, still loud enough to easily be heard. She lowers the knife and gives the length of wood a small twirl. "Very funny, though. I'm guessing you got to at least keep your clothes when you came here," she says, looking Aranha up and down for a moment.
"Guitar's usually my thing, but I played recorder back in grade school. I just need somethin' to make noise with, so I figure I'd D-I-Y it up." The girl's brows lower and her lips purse. "No idea what a berimbau or an atabaque is. Guess I should find out, or people might start questioning my artistic integrity."
With a nod up to Aranha, she adds, "I'm Lexi, if you didn't already know."
"I got to keep my clothes since I came by boat. Got my invite on the day of my discharge from the hospital... Right next to my hospital bed. Normally I reject joining fighting tournaments, but something told me that I needed to be at this one. Glad I listened to my instincts."
He remained quiet as she told him about her musical history. His lips curl into a smile at the recorder. When he speaks it's not with the tone of someone who's actually judging her though there's a hint of amusement in it. "Not many people admit to having played the recorder. That's cool though."
He then kneels down drawing an image in the sand. It looks like an archery bow with a gourd near one of the ends. "That's a berimbau. Afro-Brazilian instrument that's the most important to my particular martial art. It controls pace and also can determine how the people fight."
He continues to kneel down as he draws a hand drum that looks kind of like a conga drum. "The atabaque is an Afro-Brazilian drum that's second in importance to my martial art to the berimbau."
After that, he rises up and dusts the sand off of his hand to extend it towards Alexis. "I'm Keith or Aranha."
Alexis observes the illustrations and listens to Aranha quietly as he explains them, tucking her knife into her belt and setting the length of wood down on the rock beside her before folding her arms across her knees and tilting her head a little.
"Music's a pretty big part of how I fight, but, uhh... probably in a different sense? I mean, like, literally. I beat people up with music." Her tone suggests that she's not accustomed to describing her fighting style. "I mean, I don't know any real martial arts. Mostly I kind of... make stuff up. I mean, I know some wrestling moves, but nothing super fancy."
She dismisses her own effort to describe it with a wave of her hand. "Anyway, I've done a lot more embarrassing shit than joining the Recorder Club. Sang in a kiddie choir, too," she says, lips quirking wryly. "And the way I figure, if there was ever a time or place to get hung up on the dumb shit I've done, this definitely isn't it."
She raises her own gloved hand to Aranha's, the half-smirk lingering on her lips, her grip firm but the motion lazy as she shakes his hand.
"Nice to meet you. Properly, or whatever. So, you just got out of the hospital before this thing kicked off too, eh?" Alexis' half-smirk deepens in irony and intensity. "Some bitch in a business suit punched me through a wall. And then through the floor. I don't even know what her deal was. Went out drinking to celebrate getting out of the hospital afterward, and next thing I knew, I was here and my clothes weren't." A slight frown crosses her face. "I wonder if that suit worked here. She didn't really have the vibe. Or the fashion sense."
"Beating people up with music, huh?"
It's at this moment he imagines her playing the berimbau and as she does so, someone who is clearly a higher level student does something dickish to someone who is fairly new and she decides to send sonic energy via the instument at the offending student sending them flying out of the roda. He's not even sure that's what she meant by beating people up with music. But hey, his imagination can be a crazy place.
"My case I was fighting at an underground fight arena. Some masked guy who was not only huge, but really skilled. Kicked my ass ten ways to Sunday. I woke up with his business card next to my bed, and apparently he paid for my hospital stay. I asked around and he didn't even bother collecting the winnings from the fight with me."
"Huh," Alexis says as Aranha finishes describing his experience with the masked man. "Maybe somebody's trying to start up a new company. Like, 'Free Beatdowns Inc' or something. Sounds almost half as shifty as most of the big companies that already exist out there."
She rubs a hand against the side of her neck, looking out to the ocean for a moment as her thoughts drift to a reality she's no longer a part of at the moment. "God, I hope my cat gets fed before he eats somebody," she thinks aloud, before looking back at Aranha. "You seemed kinda happy to be here, or something. You looking forward to the 'Mortal Kombat?'" The upward lilt in her tone as she speaks the last words speaks of a continued amusement at the words the sorcerer-host had used to describe the rite by which Outworld would resolve its dispute with Earthrealm. Still, though, there's a grim edge to her voice that hadn't been there when she'd initially scoffed at the phrase. The denial phase is over: it's become abundantly clear in the time since that the island is no reality television set.
"I wouldn't describe myself as happy to be here. It's more..." There's a long pause as he tries to figure out how he's going to put it. This was one of those things he's thought about and felt but never in a way that he would know how to verbalize. "More of responsibility. After the Metro City thing where I somehow became Champion of the Majigen Series while I was unconscious, those responsible for the destruction endangered my little sister. Those who appointed themselves as Defenders of Earthrealm especially against stuff like this saved her life and offered a haven to her. As much as I want to go, 'Not my problem,' I owe it to them and I owe to my sister whose freedom they jeopardize to join the fight."
He shrugs. "That must've sounded corny as fuck to you."
"You kinda sounded skeptical at the banquet. What are your thoughts about being here and at this tournament now?"
He can feel that nervous energy taking over his body again and he begins bouncing from one foot to another which while it could be considered a nervous tic, he's only willing to let it go because it's also serving as exercise for the calf muscles.
Alexis listens intently, head tilting again a bit and one brow quirking ever-so-slightly at the mention of Majigen and Metro City. At the deprecative statement that comes after, she shakes her head dismissively. "No, not at all. I think I'd feel the same way, if I had a sister. I mean..." She frowns faintly, shifting on her seat. "The closest thing I had to having one, back before I met my friend Kim... that's the whole reason I try so damn hard to make shit happen. The place I grew up's gonna be closing down without more money going into it, so..."
Alexis slowly lifts her shoulders. "I usually don't like to make a big deal of it, but it doesn't seem like there are any guarantees anyone's gonna make it back home after this, so I guess it doesn't matter, eh?"
She scratches at the side of her neck. "I remember Majigen. I dragged my whole band there to rescue one my icons from when I was a kid. Turned out he was some kind of guest of honour or some shit, ha. I think that's the only reason I'm not freaking the hell out over this whole thing. I mean, sometimes your view on life changes when you've been swallowed whole by a giant purple worm, eh?"
Alexis frowns again. "This is... different, though. I mean, I've put my dumb ass on the line like a hundred times when it was about keeping a dream alive, and I've never regretted it. I mean, I've probably come close to dying before, but when it was for a cause I cared about, I never really thought twice about it."
Her face darkens. "But here? 'Mortal Kombat?' If they're expecting people to kill each other to survive, that... kind of seems like the opposite of what I'm about."
That nervous energy, slowly begins to dissipate as he listens to her. As many similarities as the two have in terms of their experiences, the Dancing Spider can't help but note that there are significant differences. Aranha's are colored by the fact that it happened in the city that he was born and raised in which was bound to hit him in a different way than someone who wasn't from there.
"The way I figure, we probably shouldn't be killing each other. The... uh... Outworlders they probably aren't going to be killing off their own. They'll focus on killing off the Earthrealmers. Even if they lose the tournament, they would've culled the numbers of people able to resist them or people capable of training up the next group of fighters for the next tournament. And I think our strategy should be similar. Focus on killing off the Outworld representatives and allies. Deny them their numbers so they can't come after us or train up the next group of fighters."
He glances towards the castle and the massive amount of steps. "Perhaps I'm over simplifying but that's the best thing I can come up with considering how much knowledge I have with this situation which admittedly is a tiny bit more than most but not nearly enough. Anyway, I'm gonna head back. Nice meeting you, Lexi."
He begins moving towards the stairs and after a few, he turns back. "And break a leg... Preferrably, an Outworlder's leg."
Alexis' expression fades to thoughtful neutrality as she considers Aranha's words. She watches as he turns to leave, looking almost as if she might have more to ask - but there's enough to think about already. "Nice meeting you, too, Keith," she says, her tone a bit softer. As Aranha starts up the stairs, she picks up the prospective wooden instrument from beside her and pulls the knife from her belt. She stares at the faint, bloody stain on the blade, her frown growing, until she finally scrapes it clean on the rock beside her and sets back to her carving.
Log created on 21:12:56 09/11/2016 by Alexis, and last modified on 10:22:36 09/12/2016.