Description: "The time has come for a long held charade to end. Though this child has been brought into this tournament by the will of the gods and the grace of the Emperor, there has been an interloper in our midst interfering in his matches for far too long. ALEXIS. I expect that you will uphold the sanctity of Kombat. You will fight JAO in my palace's courtyard."
The sorcerer's patience has worn ever thinner for the antis of one particular concerned father and their son. The kall to assemble for kombat is made, not too long after a most unlikely return by the very hand of the fool whose presence had made a solemn, raw test of might into a farce of a spectacle just by /being/.
Jao Puntasrima. Alexis Lovell. These two shall now come together to battle. There will be no further antics, following this day. He has thrown off virtually every estimate and calculation, those backed by centuries of wisdom.
One among Shang Tsung's trusted finds themselves with an idea, after careful observation of his opponent. The foolish so-called ninja did win himself quite a boon for his... might, as much as they loathe to admit how much he brought to bear. Why, the very appearance of what they have to offer, they just might...!
Underneath a blue sky, the patrol is strangely relaxed considering the nature of who and what they're dealing with. In fact, for once, they outright allow the two of them together out into the open air of the courtyard. The escort is gentle and polite, uncharacteristically so. No spears pointed at their back, no blades to their throat.
They wouldn't want to yet besmirch our arrivals' luxurious new clothing before kombat, would they?
Jao Puntasrima is now dressed in expensive-looking, heavy robes of purple that make it harder for him to move around, with motifs of dragons and tigers in battle artfully and beautifully embroidered. He looks positively distressed and unhappy, hugging himself. His sleeves are so long as to make his hands disappear underneath.
The other one... he looks like he's decided to dress up as - or was coerced into dressing as? - a courtesan, of all things. He even has his hair done up the way of the stereotypical Japanese geisha - or, at least, Outworld's take on such, having culturally absorbed a lot of concepts from the greater regions of Earthrealm's Asia. The hair ornaments placed on his head are almost too many to name, enough to obscure the round shapes of hair about his skull.
His robes are more modest in color, a reflective light blue with flower patterns. In place of the obi is that aged toolbelt. The way he walks, it would seem that the sharp edges of screwdrivers would tear holes in the luxurious fabrics it scrapes across... they do not. He gives a few glances all-around, but it's not easy to put a finger on his level of comfort with the situation compared to his clearly distressed son.
Both of them have, by appearances, indulged in the riches of Outworld. What would that communicate to the one that Jao is supposed to be battling against, as they both stand upon the stone platforms now...?
It's practically the worst fate imaginable; something that Alexis has dreaded ever since the sorcerer's words hit her like a metal floor spike to the gut. The young woman has been wondering ever since the announcement how she would be able to handle it. It's been enough to keep her awake at night and wracking her brains during the day, inescapable in idle thought.
Not Howard Rust Junior's current aesthetic (mind-bending as it may be) - but rather, the prospect of fighting Rust's terrified son. Shang Tsung seemed insistent that she eliminate him from the tournament. The spirits dwelling in her choker seemed to have ideas of their own on how to go about that. For her part, she would just as soon surrender; call it a protest - but doing so would only leave the boy to the mercy of the Kombatants cut-throat enough to make it this far. She had come to a conclusion: that there was only one way forward that would satisfy her conscience.
Alexis steps out from the crowd, dressed also in attire appropriated from the locals, though hers is more practical for Kombat - a shimmering black leotard, with gloves and boots that reach past knees and elbows, and the accursed gift of the gods around her neck: a black choker with a suspended scarlet gem at the throat. Faded pink laceration marks cross her exposed skin, but she appears otherwise well and alert, though her eyes are dark despite the absence of makeup.
"Hey, Jao," she calls out to her slated opponent-to-be. Her tone is friendly, in a way that doesn't quite seem easy or natural. "It looks like we're supposed to fight each other. What are the odds, eh?"
The Canadian punk's head turns slightly. "Where's your dad, by the - eh?"
Her brain finally registers the sight of Rust Junior. Or rather, it attempts to do so, experiences an unexpected error, and has to load the program again. One can practically see the gears deadlocking behind her blank aquamarine eyes. It takes a few seconds before she speaks again.
"Eh? I... uh... wow. Is that you, Rust? I... didn't recognize you, eh? Did you... lose a bet?"
With the mental BSOD, Alexis' brain hasn't quite called the fact that she's supposed to be beating down a young boy any time now yet.
Jao is as terrified as his intended opponent imagines. Aside from the mis-match in color iconogrophy, deep inside he must be wondering if he's been dressed for his own funeral. Time and time again, he's in close proximity to mortal danger... and every time, so far, they have avoided the worst of it. He doesn't even see it fit to say 'hello' in any way, shape, or form, nervously casting glances across guards who are ready to tip spears back at him if he even thinks of stepping away and running.
"I," he stammers, unsure as to what to say to someone who should by all rights be considered one of the best friends he could have (in spite of her, uh, controversial public self).
"Yup! It's me," he says, without losing any stride. His sense of self-awareness must be so, er, compromised? Compromised that he may not understand inherently how ridiculous he must look to... everyone. Ever. Even before now. "They were all, 'you would do well to represent our hospitality with the finest,' yadda, yadda, you know how it is," he waves his left hand in a vague gesture. Let's get to that in a moment.
His right hand, the one bearing the dimmed beads, is in bandaging. Alexis may note that this restricts his ability to bend the wrist. If it came to battle between them, she could probably count on his options being more limited.
More interesting is his left hand. For the first time she has witnessed it, the skin is... dry. It's unsightly to look at. That's a lot of dead-looking skin, all cracked and everything. The rest of him, going by the face, is very fresh! What sorts of crazy rich people treatments has he gone through? There's less wrinkles and everything. Why not his left hand, to match?
"Couldn't say no!" He gives a bit of a laugh that might be forced? It's hard to say with him, as he's moved to laughter so easily over just about any boon or setback.
Jao is not laughing.
No one is.
"How've you been, Alexis? Been so long! Good to see you're doing great!" For... a given value of great. This man continues to, against all reason, seem to deflect the very atmosphere of this island, this gateway to the greater hell that is Outworld. All three stand upon an old stone platform where countless of shed blood and tears.
To him, it's almost like he's having a nice stroll onto a park, somehow.
Confused and bemused seem to be waging war for sovereignty over Alexis' face as she watches and listens to Rust's explanations. Local hospitality? It would seem as though the Outworld hosts are responsible for... whatever it is that's become of the Canadian champion. Malevolent joke or simple culture shock, it's likely not worth the effort of delving into - especially given the gravity of the situation.
"Yeah, they can be pretty damn pushy about that kind of thing," Alexis sympathizes, recalling her own treatment on arrival at the island. "Guess I'm doing pretty alright, yeah. Haven't had someone try and ginsu me in days now. Beat up a monk a little while back."
She's able to muster a bit of levity, at least for a moment, and tugs at her gloves, flexing fingers and popping joints as she prepares mentally for what must logically follow. She walks toward Jao and his dad, eyes on the youth as she nears enough to be able to speak low in hopes of being heard only by the boy.
Her tone is tightly controlled. "Only one of us can keep going, here. The last thing I wanna do is hurt you. I've got a feeling that if we don't actually fight here, we're both going to get screwed. I'd surrender, but then you gotta fight the next guy, and there's no telling if you're gonna end up against some baby-murdering asshole."
She's speaking quickly, the words clearly prepared in advance. "So I figure, you can say you want to surrender. If they're not cool about it, we fight. I pretend to knock you out. All you gotta do is fall down. I can make it sound like I'm hitting you way harder than I am. Just noise, eh?"
Her right fist hums as she pushes it into the left. "Right?"
A slight twitch runs through Alexis as she flashes a brief smile. The jewel at her throat seems to pulse momentarily; the faint, distant howl that seems to come from within likely does little to comfort the youth to whom she is making the proposition.
It's a world of difference between them. Alexis, whom has allowed the reality and gravity of her situation to sink in. Rust over there, who... does not appear to have done the same? Differences in ethnicity and the like aside, one could be confused for thinking that maybe Jao has stronger familial ties with Alexis, given the shared outlooks they must have about it.
In the background, as Alexis speaks to Jao, the silly father continues to talk about all the things that have gone on. It's meaningless babble, largely, and does not deserve to be inscribed further, continuing to verbally meander along to what is an imaginary audience.
The shaolin monks that have attended the stands see this as ample training for their continued studies in focus and shutting out worldly distractions. Or, you know, shutting out stupid people. That's always a challenge for anyone...
"I... um," Jao fidgets, swallowing a lump. "When... when father conceded in a trial... they... they nearly gutted us...!!" It may have been a simple slip of the tongue, but the real fear of whatever deity dictates the day is in those eyes of his, as he breaks eye contact with Alexis. "If... if any of us surrender, they might... th-they might..."
He flinches as the choker pulses, the way her fists move together. It's something about the way she exudes strength that sees him shrink a little more, taking another step back...
One guard seems ready to poke him back forward.
"I, I've seen his eyes," he says, "they... I, I don't think we'd... fool hi--"
"Ahh, don't worry about it," comes the fa-- wait, he was listening all along?! How can he say such a thing? Both Alexis and his son are both blessed not with protection, but with power - power others will seek to take. How on earth can this man dare to say, 'don't worry about it,' as he steps along between the two of them.
His left hand - gross-looking exposed hand and all, is that why he normally wears gloves? - comes up to his chin as he sizes Alexis over with... an expert eye? He's failed so many spot checks it's hard to imagine he could ever intelligently glean much of anything.
"It goes both ways, doesn't it? Yep. Dangerous people, all at." Is he... acknowledging, at long last...?
"No matter what. You're going to meet 'em!" It seems too cheerful for what he's saying. Too... accepting, even, when everything else has pointed to the exact opposite of comprehension and clarity of their situation?!
The supposed ninja's eyes close, looking up to the peaceful blue skies that this part of the island gets to sometimes enjoy for its closer proximity to Earthrealm civilization (sort of) and normalcy (to an extent).
"You see... long ago, I made some people a promise." How long ago? "I kept that. Keeping it now." His tone goes less bubbly, more... neutral. "That part's easier than you'd think... but I got a lot of work left to do, eh? You can see that."
Can Alexis see it? He is speaking vaguely, to some line of logic that probably makes sense only to him. It may even stretch the concept of 'logic' itself...!
Smoothly, the left hand draws a length of pipe from the toolbelt that substitutes a proper obi belt for his outfit. Once again, he is interfering. Once again, he is representing a boy.
For the first time, he stands to battle against a good friend.
"Ahh, I don't mean to be a bother, Alexis," he says, "but I want to see what you understand, too." What is there to understand? This is a life-and-death situation. With every 'win,' Jao's chances of meeting an untimely end grow ever and ever greater...
Who, among them, is lacking understanding?
The forced smile fades slowly to a frown as Jao speaks. Nothing that the boy says has gone unconsidered - it's an echo of an arguement that's already taken place inside Alexis' own head, only confirming certain negative contingencies that she's already given thought to. The optimistic facade is on the verge of cracking when the boy's father chimes in.
Her brow scrunches as her fellow Canadian speaks. It's not a lack of sense that she finds bewildering - rather, the fact that for once, Rust seems to be speaking in more concrete terms than she's come to expect. There seems to be more of a sense of meaning, yet she's unable to discern it.
Except for the pipe, the substance and symbolism of which is as blunt and unmistakable as the object itself.
This time, it's Alexis' turn to swallow hard.
It's not so much fear - she's held her nerve in the face of men and women far more outwardly threatening than Rust, fought with zeal through the brutal injuries she's invited. This, though, is different.
If Alexis were going to choose a time and place to fight with Howard Rust Junior, it would be a friendly match. One somewhere safe, preferably a block from a Tim Horton's, where she could pull her punches. No blood would be spilt.
This is not that time or place.
"Don't worry," Alexis says as she shifts her posture, raising her hands and balling them. A resonant pulse from her fists indicates her own armament with her weapon of choice. She spares a sidelong glance past her outgrown bangs at Jao before averting her eyes back to Rust and setting them.
There's only one way forward, and one best shot she can give at helping the kid.
"I guess I'll do what I'm told, for once," she half-mutters as the quiet wail from her grim fashion accessory builds in sync with her own energy. Her voice raises as she addresses Rust directly. "Don't take it personally if I don't half-ass it, though! So you better not, either!"
The challenge in her tone is clear, and from somewhere, a booming voice demands:
After only a moment's hesitation, Alexis moves in to try and lock Rust up in a grapple traditionally reserved for wrestling. Aside from attempting to physically dissuade the use of the pipe on her person, the goal is to try and get the advantage and hoist Rust up for a classic body slam - a feat that may not be expected from the young woman, though the throbbing of the gem at her neck may serve as a reminder that the show of force isn't unaided...
COMBATSYS: Alexis has started a fight here.
COMBATSYS: Alexis equips a gleaming Scarlet Soul Shard.
Alexis [E] 0/-------/-------|
COMBATSYS: Rust has joined the fight here on the right meter side.
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Alexis [E] 0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0 Rust
COMBATSYS: Rust equips a dim Sapphire Soul Shard.
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Alexis [E] 0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0 [E] Rust
COMBATSYS: Rust blocks Alexis' Power Throw.
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Alexis [E] 0/-------/-------|=------\-------\0 [E] Rust
Somewhere, a certain someone may have had expectations about how this would all go down. The way the things come together, the way they all kommence... there is one outcome they yet seek. That certain someone may be among the spectators, right now, watching the bloodsport between those of such rapport.
Both seem to have their own ideas on how to help - less a battle for who moves forward, but the best way to put an end to the dangers posed by the young man in the charge of the strange man who is currently dolled up like a courtesan. A pipe drawn and levied, fists raised and ready... two representatives from the northern reaches of North America now both stand as representatives for Earthrealm, as far as the greater Outworld could... kare.
The challenge is met with another good laugh from the older lunatic. Like it's about to be a grand ol' time.
To Alexis' credit, this material she grips onto is very easy to hold. Very nice on the hands. So nice. The narrative will say 'nice' five more times just to get it out of its system. Nice. Nice nice nice. Last one, to make it good. Nnniiiiiiiiiiiiiiicccccccccceeeeeeeeee. It must feel so great against the skin! Man. Rich people. Why must they get to have the things that feel so ni-- amazing to touch?
As Alexis hefts him up, his legs wiggle about energetically. At least he's wearing something under there, even accounting for otherwise bare legs and... simultaneously less AND more tacky sandals? Well, that's enough about this misplaced fashion. On with the slams.
Navigating his descent by palming his left hand down - the one holding the pipe - it gives a resounding 'thunk' as it hits the stone ground for his landing. Kind of rounded as it is, it's not great for balance. He recovers with a competent-enough backwards roll with only a tiny lull when his back rolls against the ground. It must be heavy and difficult to move around in there, but, the weight of his fully-stocked toolbelt never slowed him before. What's another heavy set of clothing layers?
"Ain't too bad," there's the confident smirk of someone who may be able to fool others into knowing what he's doing. His right hand is, effectively, largely out of commission based on the bandaging. Alexis can rule out a few courses of action from here - he can't easily grab and throw tools with it. He doesn't have the weaponized high-five available. Odds are, he'll just come at her with swings and kicks.
Jao, where he stands, is giving shifty glances either way, as though fearing for either of them. He has little to contribute to the well-being of any of them - it truly is in their hands.
...Well, one thing isn't, in Rust Jr.'s case.
In which with a flick of his left wrist, he just hucks the damn pipe at her in a wide, horizontal spin that eventually flips to more vertical, leaving him effectively unarmed... or with a new free hand in which to partake in his brand of fighting expertise.
COMBATSYS: Rust successfully hits Alexis with Thrown Weapon.
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Alexis [E] 0/-------/----===|==-----\-------\0 [E] Rust
Alexis takes a moment to suck in a breath through her nostrils in the moment's space that the slam attempt affords her before leaning back into an aggressive posture.
Most people wouldn't need much consideration when presented with a flying length of lead pipe to decide on a response, and neither does Alexis. Of course, most people in a rational state of mind wouldn't settle on 'keep running like it's not there' as that response, but Alexis does. After all, she's been hit with wo-
There is a reason why lead pipes feature more often in fiction as instruments of destruction than as harmless plumbing fixtures, Alexis is firmly reminded as the one in question smacks off her head and knocks her out of her charge and into a backward semi-somersault that ends with her hitting the ground flat on her stomach.
"Shit," she informs the ground, already planting her palms and pushing herself back up to a crouch. She pivots on one foot and snaps her leg out as she does so, converting the motion into a swift kick aimed to try and take Rust's legs out from under him with a note of rapidly escalating pitch.
"Sorry!" she yells as she does so, though why she's apologizing and who she's apologizing to might be questionable. Maybe it's just tradition when Canadians battle each other?
COMBATSYS: Alexis successfully hits Rust with Medium Kick.
- Power hit! -
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Alexis [E] 0/-------/---====|====---\-------\0 [E] Rust
As though it were the first part of some grand, amazing design on his part - or at least just reckless and silly! - the fighting father steps forth and sacrifices whatever advantage he may have had in distance between them. If he stood his ground, he'd be in a prime place to start chucking tools or something with his left hand. The usual approach - he is famed for using screwdrivers like kunai.
He all but invites himself into her kicking range. Bringing his left hand up, two fingers rise. Usually, the gesture is done with the right, as he deftly leaps up inverted. He cleanly avoids the kick as he faces down upon her--
She doesn't miss the pipe that has bounced back and rolled across the ground. Her kick, somehow, gives that pipe just enough lift to go straight up, transferring and resonating with some of the same energy that Alexis herself is capable of imparting.
Right into his noggin. His neck compresses, teeth clenching in a wide open-mouthed grimace as one eye squeezes so shut as to seem like it's being squashed under the impact. (Even through all the theoretical padding the done-up hair and ornamentation might have provided...) He makes a strange buzzing sound between his teeth.
He flops just over Alexis, narrowly missing headbutting her shoulder, as he hits the courtyard's konkrete face down with a short skid. The robes are marred further by contact against the ground. He might have even broken his face outright with that landing.
"Mmmhhh, hmm'h hmmhh." That's 'smashed face' for 'ahh, it's okay.' All's well, as he raises up his left hand. You know, the sleeve doesn't slide down the forearm as much as it should, in that angle, as the hand points downward...
Until the sun(?)light above betrays a tiny metal object of some kind in his palm. With the flick of a wrist, a long piece of measuring tape with a thin metal stub at one end shoots out of its little metal home, en-route to somewhere around neck level like a whip. Or a viper. A whip viper?
Whip vipers must have bitchin' chins. They might be able to carry at least three people. But not three people and a dog... oh, where are we going with this...
It's sneaky, regardless.
COMBATSYS: Alexis blocks Rust's Small Random Weapon.
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Alexis [E] 0/-------/---====|=====--\-------\0 [E] Rust
There's no pity in Alexis' expression when Rust falls prey to his own pipe - her expression bears a slight frown, but it's serious rather than sympathetic. On the other hand, there's certainly no joy presented in the small victory. Perhaps she had some precognitive glimpse of what was to be when she apologized and feels absolved of emotional response?
That, or maybe she's just a bitch.
Her eyes narrow at the hint of movement from the prone ninja. An opportunist by nature herself, she spots the attacking coming - but she's no ninja, and it's executed so fast that she only just has time to react. Her left arm jerks up, catching the measuring tape on the sleeve of her glove. When she realizes what just happened, a smirk twists at her lips.
"I remember that one," she says as she curls her fingers around the end of the tape, squeezes, and yanks - attempting to heave Rust up to his feet by the metal end in his own hand. She spins her body, shifting her weight onto her right leg and raising the left leg perpendicular to it and opposite to the direction her arm is pulling.
The end result of all that corporal geometry? Rust is being yanked face-first into her humming boot heel and a sonic backlash if he doesn't do something about it.
COMBATSYS: Rust blocks Alexis' Charged Combo.
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Alexis [E] 0/-------/---====|======-\-------\0 [E] Rust
"Y-You do?" Jao seems surprised at this as he stands with sleeves basically obscuring his face, partially crouched for lack of anywhere else he could run. It says a lot that he's not bawling out in tears, compared to when he was first introduced to the young opponent that is Momoko.
Could his resolve have steeled any, in the trials that followed...?
That may be put to the test when Rust Jr. is jerked up into a clumsy stagger, a kink in his left shoulder given that he's still holding onto the thing. Just the way she pulls, she might've come close to dislocating it. She receives a little bit of tug-back when he gets his sandal-clad feet against the cold, unfeeling stone, but she wins out when she transitions to the kick--
Stopped by his left forearm as a violent vibration travels up the sleeves, through the rest of the outfit, and threatens to dislodge at least one or more of the ridiculous hair accessories on his person. His lips vibrate a funny-sounding hum - a sign that it is not easy to halt how the energies of the world manifest through the young, determined musician.
"Yep, I see that look about," he comments with a certain... weight to it, entire forearm shaking as though it were still trying to find its very own rhythm in space to simply hold still.
From here, he tries to put a step against Alexis' person... and then another, to effectively climb on top of her and then bounce back off with a kicking flip, all while he's still trying to keep hold of the measuring tape holder - maybe even just yank it out of her hand altogether in the combination.
Between their regular displays of ability, the specialized techniques start to come out - it looks like he might be the first to try and turn up that brand of heat.
COMBATSYS: Alexis endures Rust's Step Ladder.
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Alexis [E] 1/------=/=======|=======\-------\1 [E] Rust
Alexis doesn't have the time to convey that thought to Jao beyond a smile his way while she's twisted her body into a makeshift cross. The expression quickly disappears between the simultaneous realisations that 1) she's smiling while trying to boot his dad in the face and 2) his dad is a ninja and she's taking her eyes off him which is, like, a direct violation of the principal principle of anti-ninja combat doctrine.
Luckily, it's not too late for her to turn around, confirm that Rust is still there, and receive recompense in kind for trying to give the ninja handyman the horizontal mug-stomp. At the last moment she relinquishes the end of the tape and braces, flinching in the second between the first boot stepping onto her chest and the second kicking off of her face.
Her conscious mind is willing to concede that she's been ninja'd but good and focus on that for a bit, but the fighting instinct of her subconscious senses an opening and assumes command of her body in a sudden and brutal coup.
Multiple screams fill the air, all emanating from Alexis' throat (all but one clearly not her own) as she launches herself blindly headfirst at the airbourne ninja in a kamikaze spiral far faster than she should be able to achieve unaided. The sonic headbutt to the gut is only the beginning of the intended violence, though - the twisting of her body is aimed to put her back to front with Rust, setting up to chase the cranial strike by locking an arm around the ninja's neck, wrenching his head into her shoulder, then drag him down on the descent - transferring the impact of her body hitting the stone into his jaw in tandem with a potentially devastating sonorous chord.
COMBATSYS: Alexis channels the glare of the vicious eye.
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Alexis [E] 1/------=/=======|=======\-------\1 [E] Rust
COMBATSYS: Alexis successfully hits Rust with Shoulder to Cry On EX.
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Alexis [E] 1/----===/=======|=======\====---\1 [E] Rust
When the screams come, Jao is already running across one corner of the courtyard towards another, nearly tripping over himself in his heavy, fancy duds as he mills around the perimeter trying to maximize what distance he has to get away from those terrible additional screams that do not belong to that young woman.
As for the father himself, the tape and its container disappears back into the sleeve a ways before the mryiad of voices come to bear. She might catch sight of something else as she comes launching towards him before he can stick a landing - or make any sort of contact against the ground by his own desire (gravity has a say too, y'know).
She may watch his left fist tense up tight. Tight enough to hear the shocking sound of joints crackling. Like he's squeezing that fist hard enough to shatter his own knuckles...
It doesn't seem to take any sort of immediate effect as the air rushes out of his lungs, and further robbed from the ability to take in further air as he feels himself choking within that locked arm. He only has one functional hand to do much with. There may have been an inkling of soething the way he moves his legs on her descent...
Whatever it is, it seems lost as he hits the koncrete to a glorious shockwave of sound that rattles the ground.
At least one guard loses their footing.
Jao yells in fright as he brings his hands up to cover himself as he falls onto his bum from being shaken right off his feet.
The only thing off about this seems to be how little he seems... hurt, by it? No, he mustered no successful defense against any of that. They have watched his jaw hit the ground with such force that he should be down, like, all his teeth. There's no silly facial expression on him or anything that tends to follow such a great, nasty combination of hits like that, as he rolls lazily off to the side and, eventually, to his feet.
A stumble and an unfocused gaze reaffirms that it did an appreciable number on him (also, that bruise on his chin).
"Whoof... you're really about that, ehhhh?" His voice trails off weakly as he shakes his left arm out, flexing out another series of awful-sounding joint pops. The tell-tale sign of the employment of his father's most famed technique - it may be able to be boasted as being one of the modern day's very finest defensive techniques for reducing dangerous impacts.
Alexis Lowell, the brash musician whom possesses a truly relentless offense as strong as she is loud.
Howard Rust, Jr., the eccentric handyman who commands envious skill on the defense.
Two opposites in disciplines and approaches. For the full, simple, brutal intent of eliminating both father and son from play, there is much to appreciate about taking those who stand on opposing ends of style and seeing how they clash together.
Jao continues to quiver in fright, not even looking anyone in the eyes...
"So!" He doesn't work up a smile. Too tired, or... something more? "One question," he says, as the pipe somehow rolls on up to his foot...
Pressing his foot against it, he pops it up into a free spin where he catches it deftly in his left hand. No comedic ceremony of missed catches, or anything. It's a clean flip-to-grab, lowering the pipe down low in his hand as he gestures outwards with his injured right hand. The wrist of said bandaged hand holding those dimly-glowing, misshapen, mismatched beads that represent the Elder Gods' blessing to him.
A sharp contrast to Jao's own golden beads... or Alexis' scarlet choker, both of which carry far heavier fates and consequences.
"All said and done..."
He's just standing there, words breathy with fatigue. Nothing stops Alexis from coming in and landing a finishing blow... no sign of catching his breath, renewing his focus, or setting up much of... anything. This is pure vulnerability, to what end?
"Enjoying yourself, Lexi?" He smiles, pleasantly, the tell-tale tensions of warriors in combat appearing to melt away. Soften. But, he doesn't seem to be surrendering...
The guards stand alert, starting to angle their polearms forward. They're on alert. Afraid? What is there to be afraid of, with a guy like that?
COMBATSYS: Rust assists Alexis.
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Alexis [E] 1/----===/=======|=======\====---\1 [E] Rust
Though Alexis' voice cuts off with a grunt as she lands on her backside, the ethereal backing vocalists continue to moan, wavering between harmony and dissonance with each other as Alexis hoists herself up and assumes her battle stance once more. Her eyes are barely visible behind her bangs, grown long without the attention of a stylist's shears and unkempt in the fury of battle, but in glimpses they appear glazed, perhaps even glinting momentarily red - but it could just be a trick of the light coming from her hellish neckpiece. Her chest rises and falls with heavy, but steady breaths. Rust is given time to get back to his feet while the punk takes an uncharacteristically long lapse in violent aggression to steady herself.
At first, she doesn't react as Rust begins to speak; her guard remains up, her expression one of detached vigilance. It's not a look that anyone who knows Lexi would recognize, especially not this early into a match. Her breathing slows, though. Her heart calms, even as the gem howls all the more for blood - a distant sound for the outside listener, but who can say how loudly it plays in her mind?
The question, though - it's unexpected, to say the least, and almost insidiously innocuous. She considers it.
The corner of her lip turns up. "Heh."
==*== THE LAST TIME ALEXIS ENJOYED HERSELF ==*==
Alexis stomach was doing flips, and it wasn't just the excess of alcohol settling in it. It was probably the biggest thing that had happened to her - technically, it wasn't even her it was happening to. It was her best friend, Kim. Kim didn't know yet, and Alexis couldn't say anything. It was the biggest secret she could keep from anyone, and she had to keep it from the person she'd share any secret with.
She was giddy. Giddy was definitely the word. She'd never been genuinely giddy in her life up until that point. She hadn't even considered the meaning of the word until it suddenly became the definition of her being and she knew that was what giddy was.
"Hey, Lexi! Are you okay? You seem nervous or something."
Kim's voice caused Alexis to turn her attention from the jukebox she'd been staring at to avoid making eye contact for some untold time period. Kim was sitting on the barstool next to her, face crossed with concern. Steve smiled reassuringly from the barstool on the far side of her. Behind him, the other band members were debating their favourite Canadian singers. Like most Killasaurus Orphanage album launch parties, it was mostly an affair for the band, a few friends, and the most die-hard of fans, less out of privacy than interest.
"Yeah, I'm fine. It's jus' the new album. Hoping it sells," Alexis lied, voice slurring a little from the drink.
"You always worry too much about that kind of thing, Lexi," Kim said with a smile.
"That, and I need a piss. Back in a few," Alexis replied as she slid off her barstool, turning a thumb up and smiling at Kim before flitting her eyes meaningfully toward Steve before slipping off toward the restrooms.
A couple of minutes later, a cheer came from outside the bathroom hall. Within seconds, Kim burst through the swinging gate leading into it, holding up something small and shiny. "Holy crap! Lexi! Where are you?"
She carried on around a bend in the corridor, and, in her haste, tripped over a pair of black boots on the tile, narrowly avoided crashing into the full length mirror on the wall, and was lucky enough to land on a pile of something soft.
Looking down, she identified the pile as Alexis' clothes.
She blinked. She tilted her head and listened. She looked up and saw the emergency exit door hanging slightly ajar as it always did.
"Not again," she said with a sigh. She rolled her eyes, then laughed.
==*== BACK IN THE PRESENT ==*==
A single tear rolls down Alexis' cheek, and she laughs again. "Heh, heh."
She lifts a gloved hand to brush it across her face, wiping away both the tear and the smile. She takes in a sharp breath, then lets it out. The pause in the ritual of Kombat has the spectators ever more on edge. Alexis looks over toward Jao, then back toward the handy-ninja.
"I always enjoy spending time with friends," she says finally, voice a little hoarse. A smile pulls again at her lips, but doesn't meet her eyes. She pops her knuckles, echoing her first act of the fight, and brings her hands up again for defense, tension slowly returning to her muscles.
"We made a deal, didn't we? Your turn," Alexis says as her stance thaws a little more slowly than one might expect, given the suggested implication of her statement.
COMBATSYS: Alexis is playing Rust's song!
[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ < > ///////////// ]
Alexis [E] 1/----===/=======|=======\====---\1 [E] Rust
The audience is nonplussed. They were never that animated to begin with. In their meditation and contemplation, the only thing that separates them from similar statues are the colors of skin above functioning circulatory systems and... well, as is implied, a pulse. That's a lot of things to seprate them from non-living statues, huh...
The guards prime their spears ever more. What sort of kombat-interrupting insanity is this man up to? Is one or two of them daring to surrender, to submit themselves to an indignified end befitting of a coward?!
Jao's terror softens as Alexis sheds a tear, and gets out that laughter... if only so much so. The air, once tense with the screams of damned souls and brutal exchanges of blows, goes lighter. Friendlier. The day, somehow, brightens.
The collective dreariness of a space that has seen little humanity, little compassion, little enjoyment finds itself host to two opponents in the ritual of Mortal Kombat... sharing a fond, friendly laugh.
Certain powers are yet at a boiling point for disapproval.
"You bet," he says. It's an easily missed change in his vocal tone. Something in there loosens, as though... on some level... much hung on that question. Was there a right answer? A wrong answer? To what end, did he dare lower his guard to ask?
There's no one taking notes, is there? No passing grades to hand out, no graduations only beyond just living another day in the encroaching climax to the tenth tournament...
That goofy-looking smile comes back to that man's face, even as blood dribbles out the side of his bruised maw. Dashing forward with a certain agility and comfort that someone really should not be able to attain in new, cumbersome clothes and sandals that have yet to be broken in, the pipe lowers against the stone that bears witness to two friends having a momentary heart-to-heart.
With deft movement of fingers and wrist, the pipe seems to go into a spin as he steps ever closer to swinging range, ending with a single uppercut-like pipe swing whose momentum seems to allow Junior to glide forward against the stone. There's hardly even the sound of his footwear grinding against the arena floor.
The sorceror's desires, at long last, may yet be realized...
COMBATSYS: Alexis endures Rust's Intercepting Strike.
[ \\\\\\\\\\ < > ////////////// ]
Alexis [E] 2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|=======\===----\1 [E] Rust
The younger of the Canadians stands steady as the elder advances with pipe brandished. The curling of Alexis' lips seems to grow more genuine with each passing moment, her eyes hidden by her hair as she tilts her head slightly forward, presumably leaning into a counter-attack. It's almost certainly a liability to have her hair like that, isn't it? Perhaps more concerning (for those who concern themselves with Alexis' health) is the fact that her defensive posture seems to be relaxing rather than tightening as the man and his pipe come ever closer. By the time that the weapon is swung, it's clear - she's not even trying to defend herself, and yet, the smile doesn't dim. Surely the blow would cement her defeat if she simply accepted it?
The courtyard goes strangely silent as Alexis' head jerks back, a spray of blood flying from her lips as her jaw is hammered by the blow. Her body goes stiff, leaning ever so slightly back. The coming collapse seems all but guaranteed.
The silence grows tense. Alexis appears out on her feet, but gravity seems strangely reticent to claim -
"Thanks," Alexis breathes quietly through her split lips.
Suddenly, like a pendulum on overdrive, she reverses momentum and she's lunging, attempting to embrace Rust in a grip like death. Straddling the line between affection and violent parody of such, she tries to hug Rust and spin before throwing him to the ground. Not content to stop there, she would fall onto him with fury, raining punches - a straightforward, brutal display often associated with the punk battler, but one that no one - especially not Alexis herself - would expect her to subject a professed friend to. Even the damned souls would be silent - the only sound would be those of the violence and its accompanying sonic feedback.
COMBATSYS: Rust barely manages to escape Alexis' Beatdown in Three Four!
[ \\\\\\\\\ < > ////////////// ]
Alexis [E] 0/-------/---<<<<|=======\===----\1 [E] Rust
Alexis is upon the eldest among the three on the field before the pipe can even be drawn away from its highest risen point. More on that in a moment...
Jao kneels in disbelief for what's going on. He may have been conditioned to accept that weird, accepting way his father has about getting hurt, but to see someone else seem thankful to have such violence inflicted upon themselves... he has trouble understanding. He wants to yell, he wants to ask. Why are you thanking him? How are... any of these two managing to enjoy themselves?
Let's get back to that beatdown in one, two...
Alexis meets only mild resistance in her attempt to wrestle the ninj-- courtesan? Let's go with 'weirdo.' Weirdo handyman. When wrestling the weirdo handyman, on that spin she seems to get some resistance before all of it goes completely and utterly weightless.
He lies flat on the ground, devoid of much of any depth or strength as she wails upon the fine cloth, the toolbelt full of who knows what in there, the... kind of pale face mask...? The, um... wig...?
"You're welcome!" Comes a cry from a ways away, and the truth becomes clear - Alexis has ultimately managed to catch and utterly demolish just a pile of clothes. The sunlight - or whatever source of light there is that can fool a mind to calling it that - shines down upon one Howard Rust, Jr., arms crossed with the pipe sticking out vertically in his left hand. A breeze goes through his undone hair, the long locks flitting outwards and about him like the wingspan of a great hawk. He is wearing...
Just enough to not get arrested by a reasonable proportion of polite society. Let's leave it at that. His body proportions are not, culturally speaking, of great aesthetic appeal. The important take-away is...
A goofy smile can be made out in the shade cast before Alexis as he backflips a second time, throwing the pipe into the air...
Jao is hiding his eyes.
"Now, we have ourselves a grand old time, eh?" All of a sudden, she watches him, in mid-air, grab at... something at his waist?
Nothing, in fact. He grabs at nothing.
His left hand flails outward. There's some very slight, precise motions with his fingers, but nothing happens. Somehow, he gets a little extra hang-time in mid-air, but...
He keeps repeating the process, over and over, to absolutely zero effect as he lands, catching the pipe.
"And that's what a hard day's wor-- uhh." His eyes move to the side.
His toolbelt is still upon the pile of now completely and utterly demolished robes, the expensive clothes torn to shreds and frayed into even smaller fragments of frayed cloth just from being... rocked.
He realizes he attempted one of his alpha strikes on auto pilot, by reflex and muscle memory, without checking to see that he had his toolbelt on.
He laughs nervously, wounded right hand against his head.
"Oops! Sorry. Ahh, could you toss me my belt, please?"
COMBATSYS: Rust takes no action.
[ \\\\\\\\\ < > ////////////// ]
Alexis [E] 0/-------/---<<<<|=======\===----\1 [E] Rust
Alexis sits up amidst a cloud of powder and scrap, neck craning to look toward where her intended target has ninja'd himself to. It takes a moment, once again, for her to register exactly what she's looking at. Her mouth drops ajar, but she is utterly without words for a good few seconds.
Finally realising that she's sitting on Rust's belt around the same time that he requests it, the punk rocker quickly shifts to her feet, scooping the toolbelt up as she does. She holds it up at arm's length and eyes it briefly. She glances between Rust and his tools. Doubt besets her.
In the end, she tosses the belt underhand over toward Rust.
"No problem, eh?"
She never was one to make the smart decision, was she -
Before the belt has hit the apex of its flight, Alexis pursues it in full-body fashion, launching herself into the air. Her body swings sideways as she flies at Rust just behind the toolset, her entire physical being humming with energy as she aims to collide cross-body with her fellow Canadian. Should the impact occur, she'll swing herself around him with the momentum, hook an arm around his neck, and throw herself backward with the intent of driving Rust head-first into the stone platform.
There will be time to feel bad about all this later, she thinks.
COMBATSYS: Rust blocks Alexis' Stage Dive.
[ \\\\\\\\ < > //////////// ]
Alexis [E] 0/-------/---====|=======\====---\1 [E] Rust
"Thank you!" So polite, as he reaches out with his left hand - holding the pipe - with intent to catch that big, heavy pile o' tools. So trusting, it's all but an invitation for Alexis to get in there while he seems fixated on making that first catch. When he tilts his head up just a little higher to watch Alexis approach in flight... his expression seems to change from pleasantness to surprise, to what might be the beginnings of abject horror.
As the way the lighting highlights him changes with his movements, a few more curious details come up about his person. (Aside from him being all lumpy and being on the wrong side of his 40s, anyway.)
His body appears to lack any hair whatsoever. His skin, various scars aside (we'll get to that in a moment), appears very clean. Healthy! The work that they must've done to him - by however means he may have earned that bit of leisure - really shows. He looks about as presentable as he's ever going to, for being... you know, himself.
Except for his exposed left hand, which looks so dry and full of dead skin as to be a mystery. Did he wear gloves to the very bath he must've been dunked in, or what? This was noted before, but it's even more striking to see the rest of the package. Due to the bandaging, it's impossible to make out whether that's the case for his right. There's been signs of previous struggles over the years. Looks like he had a bad gash in one of his thighs, at one point. Old claw marks across his upper right shoulder. A few puncture wounds? He's certainly been around. (In his words, he'd say he's 'been at' or whatever weird preposition he'd end that sentence with.)
...That's more than enough detail today. Or, you know, ever. Then again, these sorts of comparisons are hard to avoid when one manages to get an arm around the neck of someone who is borderline naked. They don't get much resistance at all. In fact, the inertia from catching the toolbelt around their pipe and about their left forearm ought to be enough to take him off his feet and work into Alexis' maneuvers and plans without a hitch. Catching something like /that/ invites injury like a dislocated shoulder unto itself...
The shocking part is when he takes his /right hand/ - the injured one! - and shoves it upward to uproot Alexis' grasp upon him as he steps back, going to a kneel as he puts a bit too much stress on one knee from both catching the belt, Alexis, and trying to compensate for the lack of balance. He takes a few curious looks to either side - what is he looking for? - and brings that injured hand back behind his head.
"What's wrong, father?" Jao picks up on this immediately.
"N-Nothing! It's fine! Yep." ...Is that so? He flips that switch back to nervous laughter as he steps backwards across the stone ground. It doesn't seem like that toolbelt would be able to hold itself around his waistline. A little fussing later of some vague nature, he's got it as a loosely-set bandolier using his right shoulder as support. It is incredibly awkward to both look and work with.
"Now! That thing I was going to do." He's going to throw the tools, right? Of course he is. In effect, Alexis already has a small advantage in that it's something she could expect when she watched him flail his left arm at empty air. He's down a hand. That lowers the rate of fire, if he's going to go for it again--
Yes, yes he is. A handful at a time, with rapid movement, he tosses a whole lot of them. Most of them screwdrivers. There's a number of others here that might make Alexis consider just how either of them could possibly ever lift or throw that belt to begin with, as a veritable toolbox's worth of them are flung all about, clattering against the stone ground with every one that misses.
Even worn around clumsily as it is, the tools continue to not make a sound while on his person...
...Regardless of the mysteries, a certain someone waits for what they believe to be the inevitable. With little up their sleeve left, literally and figuratively, soon, his bidding shall be done and see to the end of this man's unprecedented farce.
COMBATSYS: Alexis endures Rust's Hard Day's Work.
[ \ < > /////////// ]
Alexis [E] 1/------=/=======|====---\-------\0 [E] Rust
There can be very little room for interpretation of the handyman's intent at this point. Practically disrobed, literally announcing the fact that he's going to repeat the same thing he had mimicked moments before. The situation is inevitable and, yet, at the same time entirely evitable. If Alexis was of any mind to evite it, she's had more than ample opportunity to do so.
She does not.
The implements drive into Alexis' body unopposed, fresh wounds opening across her skin. Her own attire is shredded by nails and the ends of screwdrivers. At least one ends up stuck in her side - though it's hard to tell how deep in the storm of steel.
Alexis' body tenses, barely flinching when the first tool hits. Her eyes close and her lungs fill with air as she tries to will herself to weather the barrage.
The tools may have left the toolman's possession in silence, but they don't arrive at their destination the same way: the sound of every hit is amplified and warped, the noise building and building.
Alexis, too, has a belt. It has a single tool in it, one that has gone relatively unnoticed up until this point likely do lacking noticeable relevance. She pulls the carved woodwind instrument out as the last screwdriver clips off of her shoulder, leaving a bloody streak. The gem at her throat pulsates faster as she raises it to her lips, fingers trembling as they find the holes along its surface.
There's something somehow sinister about the instrument - something in the natural warping of the wood. The holes almost take on the aspect of the mouths of faces or skulls carved roughly or twisted naturally into the branch. It's been said that sculptors see something in the material and remove everything that doesn't look like it; one would wonder what was seen by the carver and why they would want to dig it out - though no one is truly being given time to appreciate the craftsmanship.
The noise that the instrument makes is far more hellish than its appearance.
If there is a melody to it, it's nearly drowned by the demonic chorus that comes from Alexis' choker in accompaniment. The cacophony fills the air in visible (and highly tangible) scything crimson-tinged ripples, amplified beyond the soundsmith's own inherent capacity. Sound should not have colour. What is being unleashed on her friend is something more, and one might question whether Alexis knew what she was going to pull out in reaching into this bag of tricks.
Alexis, for her part, would seem unlikely to answer, as she drops to her knees, eyes still closed, slowly falling forward...
COMBATSYS: Alexis channels the veins of the burning blood.
[ \ < > /////////// ]
Alexis [E] 2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|====---\-------\0 [E] Rust
COMBATSYS: Alexis channels the strength of the killing fist.
[ \ < > /////////// ]
Alexis [E] 2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|====---\-------\0 [E] Rust
COMBATSYS: Alexis has reached second wind!
[ \\\\\\ < > /////////// ]
Alexis [E] 0/-------/-----<<|====---\-------\0 [E] Rust
COMBATSYS: Alexis successfully hits Rust with Shredding Solo.
[ \\\\\\ < > /// ]
Alexis [E] 0/-------/-----<<|=======\=------\1 [E] Rust
Jao's earlier concern goes back to confusion. The way the two of them go from vicious, to almost casual, back to utterly violent... he is not part of a world where this sort of thing usually comes into his life. He cannot truly read when either are angry at one another, or if they're still friends. It makes every blow terrifying to watch, coming both to and from his father.
"That's a hard day's wor-- uhh," echoing his earlier sentiment as he picks back up the pipe that he so stealthily discarded during the tool tossing that the narrative didn't even notice. That's not even interesting compared to the way sound... travels, and shows, around Alexis.
When she takes out the woodwind instrument, somehow, the older and less-clothed among them manages to get a few steps in. He leans forward, one eye shut, as if he finds this so curious he's willing to forego the advantage to reaction times maintaining his distance would give him.
"Th-that looks nice," he says, coughing once as he stumbles on that last step, "where'd you ge--"
Maybe if he listens closely, he'll figure it out. Just that very first note throws him back, but he stays upright... for at least as long as the next few notes go.
Jao's screams are lost to the unholy cacophony. He is forced to cover his ears and duck down to protect his ears, blinding himself to what's going on before him.
A foot stomps down against the concrete, two fingers raising from the hand that clenches the pipe as he starts to skid back. His hair blows wildly every which way, as though the traveling sound itself were not obeying physics and simply bending whatever it reaches in ways unspeakable. His legs give way, and the so-called ninja is now at gravity's mercy as he flies at an angle and velocity that will hurl him clear of the arena.
The shaolin monks that will be in the way of a flying body do not move. It will be to their loss.
A certain someone seems pleased. This will stop him. This will end it. He could close the book on this father and son team, and remove them from further care or consideration towards the matter of the tenth consecutive victory... among other things...
There's hardly enough tools for another volley. All he has is himself, his pipe, really amazing hair, and good Canadian cheer. One eye goes shut again as his body goes purely parallel to the ground he soars over, bringing one end of the pipe to his face. Hm. Why for? What good would kissing his pipe d--
He's not kissing it. A little flicker runs through that dim bracelet.
A single long, thick nail that seems more appropriate for railroard work shoots out the other end. Its movement speed is difficult for the human eye to track, as it hurdles through the open air...
En route to the instrument that Alexis has been holding. Ostensibly, it may be an attempt to knock it out of her hands as he flies on the inevitable warpath to crashing atop some of the spectators.
There's enough 'push' behind it that, in a worst-case scenario, it might just end up stabbing into the instrument and then concussing Alexis with said instrument.
More importantly, his pipe doubles as a blow gun?
COMBATSYS: Rust channels the glare of the vicious eye.
[ \\\\\\ < > /// ]
Alexis [E] 0/-------/-----<<|=======\=------\1 [E] Rust
COMBATSYS: Rust can no longer fight.
[ \\\\\\ <
Alexis [E] 0/-------/-----<<|
COMBATSYS: Alexis blocks Rust's Nail Gun.
[ \\\\ <
Alexis [E] 0/-------/---<<<<|
Alexis manages to catch herself from collapsing forward, planting the sole of one boot on the stone and ending up on one knee, her breath and consciousness holding till the coda of her grim musical number. The jewel around her throat glows bright enough to cast rays through the holes of the instrument, giving an eerie added sense of life (perhaps unlife) to the wood.
And then, abruptly the scarlet light is snuffed, the wailing dying out to leave only the sound of the pipe instrument being blown into. In the onset of silence, the instrument sounds far more melodic than it had seemed before.
In the meanwhile, another pipe is blown into. The metal spike sails through the air as Alexis lowers her weapon, leaving Alexis' chest exposed where it was previously driving toward the woodwind. Their power spent, the souls in her choker can offer no protection to the young fighter in this vulnerable moment...
At the last split-second, Alexis' left hand comes up, interposing between her body and the flying metal spike. A faint whimper escapes from the girl's lips, clearly audible in the silence before the demon pipe clatters to the stone. She turns her shaking hand so that the palm faces her and stares wide-eyed at it.
If there's an announcement of the result of this Kombat, it goes unheeded by the brunette. She turns her head in a daze, just enough for her watering eyes to notice Jao off to one side of the concrete. The sight inspires her to shift her body, blocking any sight of her state of injury as she cradles her hand against herself.
COMBATSYS: Alexis takes no action.
[ \\\\ <
Alexis [E] 0/-------/---====|
COMBATSYS: Alexis has ended the fight here.
A curiously large cloud of dust forms to the sight of the shallow walls separating spectators from kombatants buckling as the flying fool finds himself a perch, lead by his head and back.
There are sharp cries of pain all around by the affected. Their immediate neighbors continue staring onward, unmoving in fear of violating their training. (Well, that, and because of another truth to follow...)
'Him.' Howard Rust, Jr. cannot be finished off, if going by his blue shard. Alexis Lowell is not a 'him.' By process of elimination...
Jao Puntasrima is on the chopping block.
Guards are already standing before the break in the spectator stands, crowding around where the crazy mostly-naked man has, at last, been taken out of the running. They have caught wise to his tricks for getting anywhere. He will, at last, not interfere. Jao and Alexis are now both left to themselves. Both are, in their own way, shrinking from one another.
One has been prompted to finish the other. Between Alexis' scarlet choker, and Jao's golden bracelet, the frightening implications of what could happen... given the lack of movement or noise from the pile of bodies, there is no opinion to pick up from the father. It can only be implied as to what goes through their mind, if there is anything to be given. He might have been knocked out clean.
Alexis' teary eyes look towards the cowardly teenage boy, who now stands upright and frozen. His eyes do not track anywhere else, but forward. He knows what those words mean, from when he tried to just surrender to Momoko here at this very same spot...
Suddenly, he takes off into a run.
Not away from the arena, though the few guards that are paying attention to the stone platform as opposed to ensuring that bothersome fool stays down and stays put already have their spears deployed and ready to impale anyone that tries to run off of there...
He runs to Alexis, daring to try and put a hand on her upper back.
"FINISH HIM." It repeats. A second prompt almost never happens. The words of above are spoken with clarity, able to be heard by all, and without fault in diction or meaning. To give a prompt more than once would be, simply, a waste of breath and whatever empowers the ability for a voice to carry like so.
Someone is insistent. Someone wants this bizarre chapter in the history of Mortal Kombat to be closed underneath a pool of blood.
Heedless, Jao tries to get Alexis' attention, as if for some reason he were under some kind of belief that there is something, anything, he can do for a friend. She is a friend, right? The way they went at one another, and yet, until now, kept some cheer going...!
"Are you," he tries to repeat, but, unprecedented...
"FINISH HIM." A third call...
Alexis takes a deep breath, closes her eyes, and tries to hold it in as long as she can to steady herself. She can hear the sound of Jao's approach. She exhales, then breathes in again, and feels the youth's hand on her shoulder. She becomes aware of both voices at the same time.
"I'm okay," she reassures Jao, turning her head but not far enough to make eye contact. Her eyes are busy searching for the boy's father between attempts to flutter away moisture. The voice can't be referring to Rust, can it...?
Her heart drops as she comes to the conclusion, internally, that she's once again in the situation that she had agonized over in the time leading to the fight. This time, Rust isn't there to step in. Alexis pushes herself to her feet, holding her left wrist against her side and trying not to close her hand. She turns her right side toward Jao and offers a warm, if teary, smile.
"Hey, Jao. I didn't see where your dad went. Can you point him out to me?"
The wooden carving lies inert at their feet. Alexis toes it ever slightly closer to within reach, but leaves it there for the moment.
I'm probably going to hell for this, she thinks, if not for all the other reasons.
"I, I... I don't," Jao stammers, his resolve shaking after that third call to finish him. Is this the only way out? No... his father's friend wouldn't, would she...?
Jao doesn't need to point much of anything out. A simple sweep of the courtyard would reveal a commotion.
A common motion for just about anything that man does. It's easy to intuit that this must be where he went to, where he disappeared... Alexis wouldn't be able to see him directly, if he's even still there. The guards around there have utterly crowded around that one spot to the point that it would appear no one could get in or out between the lot of them. (Thus, it could be intuited they're doing their damndest to keep him /in/ there and not interfere.)
Jao's gaze turns away from Alexis when this very thought comes to him. He starts to scream the name.
"Father! Father!!" Is his father all right?
Rust Jr. doesn't say anything... shout anything... or show much of a sign of being around. Based on the structural damage to the seating nearby, that last blast did a number.
It is just those two, all to themselves.
A certain someone awaits what they believe to be the inevitable...
Alexis' left hand remains cradled gingerly against her side. The glove of her right hand tightens into a fist as Jao turns the other way.
Alexis had scoffed at the very name of the tournament when it had been introduced. She'd been one of dozens or more in the crowd when the sorcerer had greeted them. A disdainful phrase muttered half under her breath had drawn Shang Tsung's disapproving gaze; she was certain of it. Jao was right. Shang Tsung would know if they tried to fool him.
That had never really been part of the plan.
There's no tell-tale tone to warn the youth as her fist snaps toward the back of his head. It's a purely physical blow; unlikely to kill, but forceful enough to knock him to the ground, and probably out cold.
Hopefully it would be enough to satisfy the bastard who put them both here in the first place.
There is nothing special about Jao's head, in comparison to any other head that Alexis has punched. The distracted young teenager's vision flashes white. There is an immense pressure to his face as he sees the stone ground come up at him... and then...
"ALEXIS LOVELL WINS." Comes that voice, again. Did it work? Has her rough attempts to be merciful, to throw off the insistence of greater forces that be, finally gotten them off her back? That insistence to finish him... this is good enough to work, isn't it? For all her good intentions, there does run that small chance, however well-meaning, that her very power is too much for the weak body and constitution of someone who does not - and can not - fight back--
Saying it in that fashion, embellishing this act of carefully considered mercy... this is to their satisfaction, isn't it? The guards around the ring have lowered their spears. Most still remain gathered about where the father presumably is.
Alexis does not hear anything further from anyone, for that matter - she is free to leave, perhaps to simply allow the two of them to come to as they will, if she so wills it.
There's a faint glint from the jewel dangling at Alexis' neck as the blow is struck. She makes no other movement for a moment. Then, slowly, she stoops down to snatch up the instrument, then slips it into her belt. She looks at Jao for a moment, hesitating briefly. She checks that he's still breathing. Then she starts to walk away slowly, one hand holding the other to try to avoid aggravating the wound of the metal spike sticking through it.
Dealing with that was going to suck.
Probably almost as much as this did.
Log created on 15:06:53 11/06/2016 by Rust, and last modified on 21:44:09 11/07/2016.