Seori - The Butterfly Woman and the Daughter of Edo

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Description: Things rarely go right for pursued Yakuza investor that find themselves on Gedo Street, especially when they view being found by a heroic gang of Gedo High students as the 'better option'. Luckily for this man, he encounters an odd slightly sympathetic Seori, who has to test her skills against the dreaded Butterfly Woman, Rochelle.

In the mellow night slowly fading down on a snow dusted Southtown, the Japanese winds from the nearby forests, swamps, and mountains kick up bits of dirt and frost on Gedo Street. There's a faint yowl of a cat in the distance, as it wishes for warmth. It is responded to by barks from a nearby apartment, before a neighbor shouts and a door slams. Just another night in Southtown's most dangerous area. At least, the most dangerous area for an enemy of the common man. Around a trash can replete with fire belching from its innards, the less fortunate huddle, warming their hands and chests from the flames. They tell quiet stories of the city, a society of wisemen and women that are the true eyes of God here.

A man walks down the street, wearing a black trenchcoat, his hair slicked back from the wetness of the snowy down falling about him, his hands shoved in his pockets since he's neglected gloves, as many a merchant often does. He is a sokaiya, a money man, a Yakuza investor specializing in manipulating stocks, bonds, and the psychologies of such things as they relate to various businesses. And tonight, he has displeased Geese, after a police investigator's mother needed a life saving operation that Southtown couldn't afford due to the games of the wealthy that Geese Howard himself partook in. And when you need money in Southtown, Geese Howard is often the first to offer. And he's the last one you refuse. And now, Geese knows that this sokaiya is an informer.

The sokaiya looks up, pausing, as he hears motorcycle boots crunching across the frosted sidewalk behind him. He thought Gedo Street would be safe, since he's both Yakuza and businessman, not their usual prey. But something far more deadly than a heroic gang has found him. A Southtown assassin. And he knows which one that they sent. The butterfly woman. He slowly turns about, and sees Rochelle standing thirty feet behind him, holding her titanium bo staff in a leather gloved hand. She does not look pleased, nor displeased. She merely looks.

A few days in at Gedo High, and Seori begins to feel she's hit her stride. She's never felt this level of comradery with people outside of her father, not outside the village that lay safely tucked in her childhood memories. Yet, when she walks down this street, looking at the huddling people, cast black against the glow of the fire, the scraping sounds of distant traffic and yelling people, a part of her yearns for the places that wind carries on its back. On a cold night like this, the rural roads would become so blissfully quiet...

Something calls to her on the edge of her vision. A man in black? Seems nervous, maybe. And there beyond- a woman? There's a glint of metal there. A bo staff, maybe.

Her mouth feels dry. What would her father do? They spent their lives keeping low and chasing after trails of possible ghosts. What did he do before that?

She dawns on a smile. "S'cuse me," she calls out in her best drawl, trying to pull herself into both their field of vision. "You two together? I was kinda lost, y'see. Me and my friends from Gedo, well, we were just going to be in this area, and I sort of jumped the gun a bit."

It's a terrible bluff. She doesn't know these people like she does the rural backroads. But it's still a test. How will they react? Which one means trouble? Should she even be involved at all, alone like she is?

There's a mutter from those arranged about the trash can, before they shuffle off into the night, their eyes knowing not to watch such a scene that is about to unfold. A low breeze sweeps along the street, curling upwards and blowing a bit of old newspaper about in a whipporwhorl, kicking up dust as the staccatto ruffle of battered newsprint makes its way along.

The sokaiya slowly turns to look at Seori, in uncertainty. If there's an assassin after him, someone from Gedo might be his best bet at survival. All he needs to do is play the numbers system correctly as it pertains to the stockholders, and then get to his car, and drive out of the city. Just to get to a small town airport, after a cash withdrawal from his secret bank account. This is his shot.

"Watch out for the lady, I hear she doesn't like kids." He chuckles at Seori, refusing to even acknowledge Rochelle. That's the play.

Rochelle frowns in dire anger at the sokaiya, before she shoots a glare at Seori. "I'd suggest Gedo stay out of this business I have with this man," she says with acid to her tongue, her annoyance at the wily target causing her to display her intent.

The breeze picks up and tosses black hair, causing the lone beads strung on either side of Seori's face to catch the light of the streetlights above. If one were to compare Rochelle and Seori on looks alone, Seori would probably seem the least likely- she seems more like some lost country mouse. "Most people don't around here, I imagine," Seori says, adjusting the knot on the blue-green scarf around her neck. "We're just not good about keeping out of the wrong types of trouble."

Dark eyes look past the man to Rochelle. "Nonono, you kinda misunderstand here. I don't think my classmates are the type that like to stop because something's just a tad bit dangerous. Though, I *am* new here, so. Was there a bulletin? Give me a little bit of info here. Catch me up on all this city business you guys are doing." She's all smiles, but her hands are now disappearing to hide underneath the thick outlines of her coat. "How about you, miss? You seem to know what's going on here."

The sokaiya's mouth pulls into a subtle smile, hiding the razor sharp mind behind his face. He often hides such his look, until he's in his office, with the opportunity to kick his legs up on his desk. Right now, he's far from his feeding grounds. "I'm just trying to get home to my kid, little Miss," the sokaiya says with a chuckle, the fraud in his character hidden behind years of work leveraging businesses on behalf of Southtown Syndicate, a face that could lie to the point that he fools his masters. He has no heart, but he has a measure of guts to his strangely stiff yellow spine. "I'll leave you two to chat." He turns around, his shoulders hunching up as he begins to walk away, quickly, as if he's avoiding a mugger that a vigilante has just stopped. The signal is strong, not subtle this time.

Rochelle glares at the sokaiya, her gaze flashing back to the highschooler as her fist flares with crimson chi. "Beat it, kid. I have work to do." She moves after the sokaiya, her blue eyes flaring red, as she spins her staff about in her hand and prepares for battle. The sokaiya ducks his head forward, inhaling hard. If he's going to get out of this alive, it's all on the kid now.

Something in Seori's darker instincts twist at the man's reaction. "Not sure if I believe you," she says, betraying a certain sharpness that she quickly coats over with her next words. "But we all have our own reasons for coming home, don't we?" This well-meaning mantle can't be all there is to this man. Still, she just can't leave this man to die on the streets, not on a night like this. "I'm guessing you have good reasons. Ones that don't really deserve dying alone and forgotten on the streets, I mean."

The sokaiya moves backwards. The assassin with the crimson hair moves forwards in response. Seori responds in kind, moving just to get in earshot of the man in the black trenchcoat. Her words are a whisper in the wind. "I didn't really find it fun looking over my shoulder all the time either." A cold glance is issued towards the man, adding a statement she can't quite yet put into words:

'You better find a way to pay this forward tomorrow.'

Because now that she's gotten a closer look at this woman, Seori's not confident she's going to be seeing it, right now....

The sokaiya looks at Seori over his shoulder as he hurries away, something impish creeping about his face, before he moves off into the night, turning around a corner and climbing into a taxi. Timing like that is usually reserved for the blessed by fate. Tonight, it is reserved for a man who knows the timing of the night. Perhaps they are one and the same?

Rochelle snaps around to face Seori, baring her teeth. "Fool." With Seori following the sokaiya, and Rochelle so close behind her, they are now right before each other. Rochelle steps around with a planting of her right motorcycle into the ground, her hips following with a set, as she stares at Seori deadly hard. "You just robbed me of a paycheck." There are other assassins hunting the informer, but Rochelle will have to make do with the standard respect gained from the Syndicate for dealing with an interloper. She admits, being placed in Gedo Street by her wakashu was probably for this purpose. This is the area of the city they'd need her.

Rochelle spins her bo around in her hand beside and above her as she saunters forward, her dextrous fingers performing this task with practiced ease that is beyond nuanced and fluid, before she swings the bo around at Seori's temple with a rapid swipe, drawing it across her, before grasping it with both hands.

"You don't seem to understand your blunder, girl."

COMBATSYS: Rochelle has started a fight here.

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Rochelle         0/-------/-------|

COMBATSYS: Seori has joined the fight here.

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Rochelle         0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0            Seori

COMBATSYS: Seori blocks Rochelle's Random Strike.

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Rochelle         0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0            Seori

Seori's more timid instincts are ringing like warning bells. She's out in the open. She's drawing attention. She's challenging someone, over an issue that she should have stayed out of. She's not even standing up for justice here. Does her dad really want to see her coming home bruised and bloodied? Nevermind that, will she make it home? It's the learned mantras of a girl who learned to never quite trust shadows and having her back to an open door, especially in the last few years.

But maybe this is all the more reason to throw caution to the wind. She didn't get anywhere thinking like that, and she's in the city now. Time to do this city-style.

However... that works.

"I get he's probably not an angel-" Rochelle's bo hits neatly against a quickly raised arm, drawing a short grunt from Seori. "I don't even know if this all even registered in his mind," she continues. "But if he doesn't make it until tomorrow, just maybe, he'll go down thinking he wasn't _alone_!" The other arm, still in the pockets of her thick jacket, flies out, a grouping of sharp thin kunai sent flying towards Rochelle with a quick snap of Seori's wrist.

COMBATSYS: Rochelle blocks Seori's Surprise Kunai.

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Rochelle         0/-------/------=|=------\-------\0            Seori

Rochelle allows her bo to bend like a metal reed as it is redirected by Seori's neat block, gripping it in her hands, gloved left hand loose. "You're always alone in this city, kid," Rochelle replies, staring her down with her faintly sparkling red eyes. And as the kunai come out of the hidden cache, Rochelle jumps backwards and spins about, her bo swinging out to the side as several kunai are flung aside, flying in all directions. Rochelle lands in a very shallow crouch, reaching to her shoulder and pulling a kunai out of it with a flinch, blood trickling from the wound. "Even when you're together," she adds, somewhat hollowly and sadly, her countenance growing distant.

Rochelle charges back in, the words exchanged, telegraphing her assault as crimson chi trickles up from her toes to her knees, her legs blazing behind her. She tucks her bo across her upper body and explodes upwards to lash out with a front kick at Seori's jaw, bursting into the air with a fast manuever that leaves her upper body in guard position, landing from the attack with her boots solidly crunching into the frosted pavement.

COMBATSYS: Seori dodges Rochelle's Rapids Beneath Bridge.

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Rochelle         0/-------/-------|=------\-------\0            Seori

Red chi. Red eyes. The blood dripping from the small kunai. Red hair. Like the fires of the bonfire nearby, and just as deadly when angered. Yet, those words. 'Even when you're together.'

Seori can only respond in a manner unique to someone in their teens, still unsure of their footing in life. "Thinking like that just ensures people like him and you feel it's okay to be the way they are," she quickly snaps back.

And like fire, Rochelle reacts to Seori.

The assassin's boots meet air and blue-green cloth, with the scarf's owner ducking to the side in a crouch. The ends of that blue-green scarf settle and intertwine with both of Seori's hands, the cloth itself melting from its hold around her neck like silver mercury before curling into the condensed form of a kyoketsu shoge. "I won't leave you alone until you make me!" The metal ring end of the chain winds up and is thrown just to the side of Rochelle. With a grunt from Seori, blue-grey chi forces that momentum to switch directions, going to the side instead of forward, attempting to snare the assassin in its winding grip on impact.

COMBATSYS: Seori successfully hits Rochelle with Hangetsudan.

[       \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////////   ]
Rochelle         0/-------/----===|==-----\-------\0            Seori

The scarf wraps around Rochelle, causing her to skid sidelong on the ice-covered concrete, falling to a knee. Her left hand graces the cold ground with her leatherclad fingertips, as she feels the chi and the scarf wrapping around her, squeezing the air out of her longs. She emits a long, low hiss, as she forces herself back to her feet, leveraging some space for herself with a twist of her staff against the grip of the unusual weapon.

"You're a long way from the Occident, daughter of Edo," she says cryptically.

There's a cry as Rochelle leaps upwards and around, moving into the garment that spins around her instead of against it, to earn her some extra breathing room. A crimson flamed foot lashes out at Seori's face, as she spins to face her again, attempting to knock the schoolgirl backwards. Rochelle throws caution to the wind as she attempts to free herself, potentially setting herself up for a painful counter assault.

COMBATSYS: Seori blocks Rochelle's Moonlight Butterfly.

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Rochelle         0/-------/----===|===----\-------\0            Seori

The scarf's fabric becomes fine metal chains as it whips around Rochelle's midsection, just tight enough for Seori to begin to leverage a hold for a possible next attack.

'You're a long way from the Occident, daughter of Edo.' This vague sentence surprises Seori, being unlike the other choice words Rochelle has shared with her before. The young girl's mind, never truly needing an excuse to be paranoid in the first place, tries to decipher it in that short span of a second, running it through a teenager's somewhat limited scope of possible references. A clue? Does Rochelle know something about her? Was it a reference to Seori's weapon? Oh god, she can't think of a good comeback to something like t-

The weapon's slowly mounting grip becomes harmless as soon as Rochelle lets out a cry, melting away back into harmless unwinding soft silk as Seori leans back. Not enough space to dodge; Seori takes on the red flaming chi foot with the gathered cloth and arms.

But Rochelle is still by her, still well within reach. Without her weapon reformed, Seori instead leans on her family's technique, folding the fingers of her right hand into a point laced with metallic dull blue chi. Like a knife, it jabs straight towards the softer portion of one of Rochelle's shoulders. Should it hit, it registers as a brief sting in the immediate area before descending into numbness, the chakra of the site temporarily removed.

The attack, whether it hits or not, was automatically decided on instinct. Seori didn't even have a proper chance to think to ask what Rochelle meant first.

COMBATSYS: Seori successfully hits Rochelle with Horou.

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Rochelle         0/-------/-======|======-\-------\0            Seori

Rochelle drops to the ground after the aerial show, wrenching herself free of the scarf as it departs, feeling her abdomen stiffen and sting from the wrapping python grip that was just holding it. And then, comes the knife hand, that jams into her shoulder. There's a choked cry, and she falls to the side, her arm going limp as the chi flow is disrupted and her crimson shroud flickers out of existence, replaced by a cool breeze of smoke.

"Sinister move from such a young thing," she whispers, before she lashes out with a snap kick from her side, aimed at Seori's knee. She stumbles backwards a step after the strike is unleashed, her hand gripping her staff as best it can, feeling the nerve endings flicker on and off into and out of sensory perception. She grits her teeth from reflex, knowing that the damage is more severe, but the sensation is what is more dangerous for the moment.

COMBATSYS: Rochelle successfully hits Seori with Light Kick.

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Rochelle         0/-------/-======|=======\-------\0            Seori

Sinister. Rochelle's comments on the effects of the Horou technique set Seori ill at ease. What if she did it wrong? It should be temporary, that's what Dad said, at least-

And here comes the ground, courtesy of a quick jab of Rochelle's foot. "-Ngh!" Seori lands stomach first on the cold asphalt, a dazed split second passing before she rolls to the side and rises into a crouch. White snow and specks of dirt and debris dot disheveled long hair and teal cloth as Seori moves out of counterattack range.

"You can leave at any time," Seori offers, her weapon reforming into the needed shapes of the kyoketsu shoge, "Quit while you're ahead." Some part of Seori's words are for show; she doesn't exactly know what she'd do with Rochelle if she managed to subdue her. Deliver her to Gedo High? To the police? Seori doesn't even know what Rochelle was going to do, really; she just assumed it was something violent. Seori also never did question what would happen should she succeeded in fighting Rochelle off; she just dreaded what would happen if Rochelle managed to subdue her first.

And Rochelle very well still can.

Not bothering to swing with the metal ring of her weapon just yet, Seori darts forward, attempting to strike at Rochelle with the dual sided blade in her right hand.

COMBATSYS: Seori successfully hits Rochelle with Medium Strike.

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Rochelle         1/------=/=======|=======\-------\1            Seori

Rochelle emits a piercing shriek as she's slashed across her bosom by the blade, blood splattering out across Seori as it carves into her t-shirt and the brassiere beneath it. Rochelle spins away on her feet and pauses, staring at Seori with narrowed, angry eyes, a faint spark of red chi in her dilating pupils as some of her vigor gently ebbs back into place.

"Not until I've broken your spirit, if I can't break your body."

Rochelle jams her bo upwards, aiming at Seori's jaw with a lifting blow from her left side, twisting the staff's tip up at Seori's chin with a quick jab.

COMBATSYS: Rochelle successfully hits Seori with Medium Strike.
Grazing Hit

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Rochelle         1/-----==/=======|=======\=------\1            Seori

Rochelle's narrowing in on her weaknesses. Seori can't play around with bluffs here anymore; that's a game she's slowly failing at.

There's no time to back out or rethink her strategy. Seori must show the true spirit of the Hirano, even if she can't call it out by name. She'll be the bird that will mask her true song in the borrowed song of another.

The bo slams upwards, scratching a painful red smear on Seori's chin as she barely manages to move to the side. "... There's no way you can keep a hold on me," the girl finally says, beginning to wind around the metal ring end of her chain weapon in steadily faster circles. If there's still any evidence of that country mouse accent from before, it's all but gone now, only evident in the barest sense. "You can't break what you can't catch!"

The strange kyoketsu shoge is throw out in a sudden wide arc, metallic chain spilling from Seori's slackened fist, attempting to catch Rochelle much like it did before-

COMBATSYS: Rochelle blocks Seori's Hisui Drop.

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Rochelle         1/-======/=======|=------\-------\0            Seori

Rochelle whips her left arm up and lets the chain wrap around her arm, before her fingers incline around it and she yanks it towards her as it tightens, gritting her teeth in close range as she stares Seori directly in the eyes at close range.

"We'll see if I can't catch you."

Rochelle spins about and raises her arm above her, throwing the chain off her forearm and up into the air, before she spins about with a sweep of her staff. She then performs a graceful pair of swings from either direction at Seori's elbows, spinning the bo in her hand, before she swings it around at a blow for Seori's jaw, and then winds it back in with a bend backwards, holding her bo aloft her head with her right hand, behind her extended left hand's thumb, before she darts forward with a swing down at Seori's knee.

That complete, the assassin flips backwards atop a single hand, landing in a crouch.

COMBATSYS: Seori blocks Rochelle's Fibonacci Sequence.

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Rochelle         0/-------/----===|====---\-------\0            Seori

Rochelle catches the chain and jerks Seori in, far too close for comfort. Red eyes meet black, the latter glinting with a spark of irritation as the chain weapon is jerked back, chi manipulating its form to try slip from Rochelle's fingers. It's successful, but also costs the girl precious time to prepare a proper plan to evade the Butterfly Woman's vicious counterattack.

The Hirano ninja's best defense in the heat of the moment is to attempt to block the flurry of blows from all sides, her scarf doing little more than cushion the barrage from every direction Seori can barely perceive. Her shoes dig into the gritty street for purchase. Her trusted ninkou, the Koumei Hagoromo, lies bunched between her hands before Seori's chi reforms into the metal kyoketsu shoge. She can't respond to that threat in words.

Seori's ninkou will have to continue to speak for her, just as it did for her father. She winds the left metal ringed end clockwise as she steps back, allowing it to gather momentum before catching the chain just above the ring with the steady heel of her shoe. It reverses direction, flying counterclock wise, with Seori loosening the chain as it reaches the crest of its circle towards Rochelle.

COMBATSYS: Rochelle dodges Seori's Uzumaki Reverse.

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Rochelle         0/-------/----===|====---\-------\0            Seori

Rochelle stares at Seori's eyes as they continue to duel, ignoring the chain in her hands and instead watching her target. As she hears the chain coming, her perceptions warning her of the chain whistling through the air, the butterfly woman performs a split and goes to the ground, her bo held nearly parallel to the black asphalt she's atop, left hand pinning downwards as her balance.

Rochelle slides up to her feet with a push from the hand and muscle tension that defies any ordinary ballerina, locking her position into place briefly before it loosens. She spins her staff to her left hand, and she withdraws a three pointed star, with each point possessing a blunt curve. Her fingers manipulate it as she hurls it at Seori, a low droning whistle responding to the chain as it arcs through the air in an upwards boomerang arc.

COMBATSYS: Seori endures Rochelle's Thrown Weapon.

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Rochelle         0/-------/---====|======-\-------\0            Seori

The assassin's athletic prowess is rather amazing; it was a skill Seori felt too awkward to attempt on her own without betraying potential weaknesses in her rougher movements. If Seori didn't have the advantage of the family ninkou, would she have had the advantage she's managed to scratch out thus far?

The three-pronged star streaks at her with whistle sharper than any songbird Seori could imitate. No time to block, she just has to let it slice through her coat and into the skin below, the dark fabric barely managing to hide the blood that begins to well from the wound.

The young dark-eyed ninja is still moving, now responding with her own prepared tools of the ninja trade- another set of small kunai, retrieved from just inside a few makeshift compartments in her coat. "Ngh!" With the pain of that last hit and the potential surprised lessened by its second introduction, there's no telling if this attack'll land, but it should give her time.

Escape is an option Seori dares not even think about, for fear it'll blunt her reactions even more.

COMBATSYS: Seori successfully hits Rochelle with Surprise Kunai.
- Power hit! -

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Rochelle         0/-------/-======|=======\-------\0            Seori

"Unh!" comes a thick cry from Rochelle as the knives plunge into her torso, and she stumbles backwards, hunched forward. A shaking hand touches her chest and stomach, before she looks at her leather glove, seeing the wetness of blood. Her breath visible as an uneven fog, she looks up at Seori with quiet respect, and just a tinge of rational fear. Her thumb slides over a button on her bo, and it telescopes inwards, making it just a rod. She turns about, limping off down the street blood trailing behind her. She disappears down an alley as fast she can, blood leaking from her lips.

COMBATSYS: Rochelle takes no action.

[                    \\\\\\\\\\  <
Seori            0/-------/=======|

COMBATSYS: Rochelle can no longer fight.

[                    \\\\\\\\\\  <
Seori            0/-------/=======|

The kunai make their mark. Seori's already preparing for the counterattack, except-

Rochelle's gaze meets Seori's. Respect. Fear. Seori's not sure what to think of that. Is this the sort of gaze her father saw, when he hunted for the Ryouhara?

Snow begins to collect on the Gedo student's head, forming a dusty crown of white. Seori gives a nod and steps back cautiously, her weapon dissolving to a far more useful form- a scarf that'll stop her own bleeding.

She doesn't follow when Rochelle limps away.

That man's probably running into another assassin by now. Maybe the taxi driver? A person who greets him as he exits the cab? The first face he lays his eyes upon in the morning? Rochelle just may earn her paycheck a little later. It's beyond Seori's ability to control. Who knows, Seori may regret ever involving herself, if she ever finds out what this whole hit was about.

Ever cautious, Seori keeps stepping back, then, when she doesn't hear the sounds of Rochelle's boots, she moves herself, her pale lips drawn in a grim line.

Log created on 20:58:12 12/05/2016 by Seori, and last modified on 01:44:58 12/07/2016.