Description: For days, Heidern has felt a strange sensation following him wherever he travelled around the outskirts of Southtown. Finally, in the middle of a woodland recon mission, he comes face to face with the bizarre, unknown individual who has been tracking him.
DARK FOREST, SOUTHTOWN
Since his recent infiltration through the blockade around the island of Japan, Heidern has plunged himself head-first into running Intel and Operations on the ground - not wanting to risk the soldiers who have volunteered to come along with him, until they're ready to make their final move. The Ikari CO has been moving through the surrounding areas like a phantom for days on-end, reporting back on UN troop positions, supply lines, Mishima's personal defenses, even gathering whatever whispers he could on the thunder god sitting in his mountain pass...
But one thing, more than any other, has been foremost in his mind - Justice, resting atop Mt. Fuji and waiting for an answer to it's nuclear ultimatum. Reports from those who have seen the Gear in action have not been promising, and rather than rush into an immediate confrontation Heidern has made the executive decision to form up a plan of attack against the machine.
The Ikari FOB has been dug somewhere on the outskirts of Southtown, but their Commanding Officer is currently ranging through the shadowy, Dark Forests outside the city. Out of official uniform, he has Woodland Camo applied to his face, his beret buttoned under one of his epaulets. Crouched down, the lanky Mercenary General is resting on one knee at the edge of a clearing - the monocular held up to his remaining eye show marching soldiers in the distance.
Bringing his left wrist up to his mouth as he still holds the viewing device steady, he begins to speak into his Codec - relaying information back to the soldiers at the FOB. "Heidern here. We have movement north of the Village..."
Now and then, Heidern would feel a slight twinge, a barely-there feeling. The hackles on the back of his neck. Like he's being watched. It's so minute that most would dismiss it, and perhaps the first time he did. But twice is suspicious, and three is no coincidence. Although there's been sometimes a day or two between, the irrevocable feeling of being tailed would continue, even with efforts to back-track, waylay, misdirect and offer false trails. And such continued, even when breaching the border to Southtown; someone on par with his sneaking, who can even slip past the irrevocable barrier of Heihachi's suppressive efforts as well?
Of course, the hunter can easily become the hunted. After quite a bit of time, the sudden pulse of being watched would appear anew, as Hazama slightly peeks from behind a tree some fifty yards off, to confirm the exact physical presence of Heidern rather than merely tracking the movements of his energy. Immediately after he ducks back out of sight, idly scribbling at a small black book with a slender metal pen.
Hmm, hmm, hmm...!
The near-constant vigilance of the grizzled CO has kept him on edge this entire trip - the variety of opposing factions and ideologies clashing on the tiny island causing him to keep one eye in the back of his head, even moreso than usual for the veteran of countless battlefield. No matter where he goes around Southtown, he can't seem to shake the feeling that he's being watched from a distance - but who could perform such consistent and undetected recon on someone as well-trained as Heidern?
He's been extra careful, doubling back on his own tracks and going down seperate paths, dusting away his footprints, making sure not to leave a single twig out of place... and yet here, even in the shadowy forest, that feeling remains.
As he speaks into the Codec, Heidern almost imperceptibly keeps glancing out the side of the monocular to dart around the nearby forest - a subtle glance, disguised with the viewing device he holds up to his eye... it just so happens, he catches a flash of movement disappearing back behind a tree. Though he notices it, he is careful not to give that fact away, as he continues speaking calmly and professionally into his wrist-mounted Codec device.
"That's right. I count 22 of them. No, don't send anybody. Our business is on the Mountain."
He lowers his wrist and rises up from his kneeling position, pulling the Monocular away from his eye and staring forward into the distance for a moment. Someone skilled enough to follow Heidern, to escape his honed senses... truly a formidable tracker. Could it be, that's all he is? An information gatherer?
"I saw you. Identify yourself, immediately," he states calmly, still facing away from the tree Hazama is behind - arms crossed behind his back as one hand grips the other wrist. He stands tall, seemingly unconcered with being attacked - the man, if he has been following him for as long as Heidern suspects, would've had plentiful opportunities to force an encounter. Heidern himself is here to gather intelligence... and needless to say, such a skilled agent interests the professional soldier in him.
Nobody had ever claimed Hazama wasn't a cheater. Although he's exceptionally good at sneaking, his ability to track is nowhere near sufficient to actually hunt down Heidern. However, upon seeing him for the first time, he memorized the distinct impression of his soul. Cold and sharp, like the blade of a knife. He liked it, in a way. Now and then, he had to refresh his impression of Heidern's energy; those little, risky glances, before he simply followed him out of sight, irrevocable like a snake hunting a mouse in a field through heat on a cold night. Beyond that, he can completely erase the present of his chi and body, offsetting the gap in skill with simple distance as much as possible.
"...!" Hazama is not too surprised. It was bound to happen eventually, after all. After a few moments, a head leans back into sight from around the tree. Eyes seem closed, face curled into a small smile. His aura is inocuous, like that of someone mundane. ...At first glance. At the fringes, there's a threat. Like looking at a mouse as a tiger, and somehow feeling it could reach your throat. Perhaps decades of life or death battle experience and conflict with the likes of Rugal would allow him to feel that insignificantly feint impression. "Are you talking about me? Um... I'm not breaking any laws, am I...? I just got stuck outside Southtown, so am pursuing my hobby..."
At the sound of rustling grass underneath Hazama's feet, Heidern turns his neck to glance over his shoulder with his good eye - carefully watching the mysterious figure as he steps out from behind the looming tree. The early morning gloom makes it difficult to make out the man's face... but his smile cuts through the darkness - and Heidern narrows his eye as he senses the same malevolence he's felt in the past from men who hid evil behind innocent smiles, behind soft words.
Still, Heidern himself has given his own men clear orders to not endanger civilians who have been trapped in this warzone, so he doesn't feel comfortable rushing into close quarters and assaulting the intruder for answers. There is the chance that the man is speaking truth, but the Ikari CO's analytical mind takes a few moments to quickly runs through the chances of some unassuming bird-watcher or hiker managing to remain hidden from his sharpened senses. Either he's the world's greatest natural spy, or there's a lie in his words.
With a quick movement, the mercenary spins on his heels, still keeping his arms clasped behind his back as he takes two long strides across the distance between him and this mysterious individual. With the proximity, he can see more details on the man's face. There is a distinctly dangerous appearance to the man's face, and Heidern recognizes it immediately now that he's in a position to catch a full glimpse. With this realization, his own neutral face twists into a scowl of anger.
He HAS been followed. Though he doesn't show it, there is a twinge of disappoint that he let his guard down enough to be tracked - unaware of this man's unique abilities to follow the very souls of his targets.
"Hrmph," he grunts suddenly, one gloved hand coming up to pull his beret free from the right epaulet of his shirt and place it atop his head, firmly pulling it down into place over his black hair as he sizes Hazama up, "You're lying. Identify yourself, or my men will identify your corpse."
A hand lifts up to rest atop Hazama's distinctive hat, tilting it down so the brim covers his eyes. This merely brings more attention to his smile, the small black journal held at his hip with one thumb settled into the pocket of his pants. There's no particular reaction to Heidern's approach; he remains relaxed and calm, as if not remotely threatened. Any normal individual who had suddenly run in with an apparent military outside the deadzone should be absolutely terrified... The Tekken Force is excessive, and those they even slightly suspect of spying tend to be abducted. It would be natural for Hazama to assume that Heidern worked for him...
"My~ You're scary. What happened to your eye?" he asks, voice soft and respectful. Although the following bristle and response makes him almost frown.
"That's rude. I /never/ lie. I was merely watching birds. Look." He points to the side, as leaves burst and a small brown bird with orange cheeks flutters off. Yet if Heidern glances away for even a split second, if his gaze returned to Hazama after he would seem closer... "Pryer's Woodpecker. Also known as Okinawa's Woodpecker. Only ninety of them still exist. How rare, to see one this far south~ This must be my day, Lucky, lucky!"
COMBATSYS: Heidern has started a fight here.
COMBATSYS: Hazama has joined the fight here.
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Heidern 0/-------/-------|======-\-------\0 Hazama
Could this guy BE any creepier? Someone at the NOL needs to get with Hazama and tell him he'd be able to pull off the 'innocent civilian' act a lot better with some jeans and a t-shirt.
The mercenary's single eye remains narrowed, obviously looking past the man's cover story, particularly as there is no visible reaction to Heidern's threat - what man would face down a life-or-death ultimatum while maintaining a perfectly calm smile?
A professional, is Heidern's only conclusion.
Even so, he's not here to do battle with anyone outside of the Justice Gear; he is the most skilled fighter among the Ikari ranks, as well as their Commanding Officer, and can hardly risk being in anything but perfect condition for the showdown to come. But this man's motives are obviously anything but peaceful... he could've easily run when discovered, if he didn't want some kind of confrontation. It HAS to be a trick.
Frowning at the comment about his eye, Heidern's lips pull back in a scowl. The burst of motion from the bushes to the side is enough to momentarily distract the Ikari Commander - if Hazama could creep up on him undetected, is it possible he has laid an ambush with additional forced? No, just a bird...
But when his gaze returns a split-second later, Hazama is standing even closer. TOO close.
A gloved hand lashes out through the air in a sudden strike - his hand balling into a fist and coming forward in a straight blow directly aimed at the smug smile of Hazama. "Back away, and IDENTIFY YOURSELF!" he repeats as he throws the punch, his voice louder, the sound causing even more birds to erupt from the nearby bushes.
COMBATSYS: Hazama dodges Heidern's Medium Punch.
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Heidern 0/-------/-------|======-\-------\0 Hazama
It seems like the assault should have struck. Heidern's fist is lashing out at the side of Hazama's head, stance still completely open and fluid. But then it whiffs through only air, and there's distance between the pair. For the slightest moment, there was a glint of green, and the impression of massive, dangerous energy. Then Hazama is staggering awkwardly backwards, hand on his hat as if to keep it from falling off. "Atatata...! What was that for?! Do you always attacked defenseless, unarmed civilians?" Defenseless? Heidern had every intention of hitting the man, and he actually avoided it. That is not a feat with a long list of people able to accomplish. And the weight of two knives is visible in his overcoat pockets, clear as day to a man keen as Heidern. "I'm not really much of a fighter... why don't we call it a day? We've both got more important things to do, after all..."
COMBATSYS: Hazama takes no action.
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Heidern 0/-------/-------|======-\-------\0 Hazama
There's a small, barely noticeable grunt of surprise from Heidern as the bizarre man vanishes backwards out of the path of his swing - his balled fist passing through thin air where Hazama stood, mere fractions of a second before. That glint of green, that surge of energy... Well, THAT confirms the Ikari Commander's deductions about the man's true nature (even if his motives remain inscrutable for the time being). And it simply stokes the fires of both frustration and curiosity inside Heidern's brain; this man... who IS he? The Ikaris have files on most known agents operating around the globe, but this individual's oddly menacing face - and that smile in particular - bring up no hits in the mercenary's memory.
"You're no civilian!" he shouts, straightening his back after missing with his right fist - the increased proximity with Hazama allow him to draw more conclusions about the man's dress and posture... he stands with a relaxed ease that is out of place for a 'defenseless' individual facing down the Commander of the world's premier Mercenary organization... the stlye of dress, too fanciful for even a middle-class Southtown denizen... and the bulges in his overcoat pockets? Heidern recognizes hidden weapons when he sees them. All this information takes mere moments to process through his mind...
And then he's lunging forward again to close the distance between the two - his gloved hands remain balled into fists rather than his usual open-palm assassination techniques... he wants answers, not a corpse. "You can walk away... AFTER you tell me who sent you!" he says gruffly, closing the gap between him and the mysterious figure. Once close enough to reach out with his long limbs, Heidern aims to grab one of Hazama's arms and do a hip-toss - attempting to bring the hat-clad, smiling man down into the ground with a *slam*.
COMBATSYS: Heidern successfully hits Hazama with Quick Throw.
-*- DEVASTATING HIT! -*-
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Heidern 0/-------/-------|=======\-------\0 Hazama
"..." Hazama merely smiles, not reacting to the demands or the rush forward of Heidern. He knows enough about the Ikari leader to feel proud that he's slithered under his skin to this degree. Ah, it's fun... playing around. But he's become too relaxed. The fierce flash of fingers is noticed, but there's no respect for the assault. Only a half-assed attempt to pull away. The grip is tight, and in that moment, Hazama's smile is gone. He realizes his mistake too late. Sheer force whirls him over Heidern. That fake stance, that playing around, all blow up in his face. He was not prepared to absorb a blow this savage, helpless as he then slams upon his back hard. His shoulder dislocates, arm twisted awkwardly. His hat askew, covering all of his face but his subtle frown. "...Oh. Now you've done it." Hazama murmurs out. Then both his heels snap together, before he unfurls explosively upwards. The door to his chi rushes out, sick and nauseating. Green energy ripples across his slender form, and every suspicion Heidern had about his threat is immediately confirmed. Blades flash out of his heels, as he tries to kick Heidern right in the chin. Only for a great, roaring flash of serpent-shaped energy follows in the arc, baring fangs to bite down. A moment later he frontflips forward to land in a crouch, arm hanging limp at his side. "Well... even if I /hate/ fighting... I'll still try my best. Neh?"
COMBATSYS: Heidern blocks Hazama's Falling Fang.
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Heidern 0/-------/------=|=======\=------\1 Hazama
The impact of the slam ripples up Heidern's arm as he brings the green-haired man crashing down to the forest ground, feeling Hazama's shoulder dislocate as he does so - for a moment, as he completed the motion, there is a brief look of savage satisfaction that passes over his face, lips pulling back in a dangerous grin of his own. He begins to release the man's arm, to take a step backwards and begin his line of questioning again...
He doesn't even have the OPPORTUNITY to take a single step backwards, however, before the fallen Hazama comes launching upwards, green energy rippling around him being Heidern's only warning before the bladed somersault kick comes towards for the underside of his chin...
But he's incredibly perceptive for a man with one eye - having faced down some of the deadliest practitioners of various techniques around the globe. When the kick comes, the mercenary is swift enough to raise both his hands - crossing them underneath his chin just in time to catch the slicing, energy-infused kick. It's still enough to tear through the sleeves of his woodland camo uniform, digging into the flesh underneath - but Heidern's face betrays no pain, just an odd look of surprise in that one eye.
He's never felt energy like THAT before. Not from Shadaloo. Not from NESTS. Not from R.
This man is... something else. Something new? Or perhaps something secretive enough to escape even the Ikari Warriors' notice for this long... Heidern NEEDS answers.
"You had your chance to run. Now your options are talk... or DIE!" he growls out as he lowers his arms back to his sides, planting one booted foot firmly in the dirt and then spinning his other leg outwards in a forward-lunging straight-kick aimed at the man's midsection.
COMBATSYS: Hazama blocks Heidern's Medium Kick.
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Heidern 0/-------/------=|=======\=------\1 Hazama
"I think you're missing one of the options..." Hazama says calmly as he raises back to his feet. The sudden explosive kick is intercepted by Hazama hefting up his foot hand. He catches it dead center, gloved fingers shockingly strong. A great burst of force sends his coat fluttering wildly, ground slightly displacing, but the man doesn't budge so much as an inch. "...Number three. YOU die." He then makes to push Heidern off-balance, before jumping backwards once more. Suddenly, an intricate green sigil manifests before him, an arcane rune wildly rotating. Before a massive snake-headed chain bursts out, roaring through the air with surprising speed. It attempts to latch teeth into Heidern, as Hazama makes to grasp it and /twist/, to haul Heidern through the air in a broad overhead arc. With the intention of slamming him down on the opposite side, as the horrible, poisonous burn of those strangely tangible snake's fangs would try to burn into clothing and flesh...!
COMBATSYS: Heidern slows Hungry Coils from Hazama with Cross Cutter.
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Heidern 0/-------/-----==|=======\===----\1 Hazama
Heidern grunts in frustration as his boot is caught in the grip of this interloper, the man keeping his feet firmly planted in place on the ground despite the force of the blow... if anything, the speed and skill on display only anger the Ikari more, when matched up against the 'innocent bird-watcher' act that he tried to fool the Commander with. One of the things he despises most, after all, is being taken for a fool - he's used to his reputation granting him a certain respect, a certain acknowledgement of his heightened analytical skills... he's received none of this from the smug, green-haired man. It angers the usually stoic, stern Mercenary. More than he's able to express with only one eye to glare at Hazama with...
His foot is then pushed away, causing Heidern to staggerstep backwards for a moment before he can steady his stance and shuffle back into combat position, that one eye staring daggers at Hazama. There's real hatred there, his professional pride wounded that this man could follow him around the outskirts of Southtown... that he can't place the man's face... that he seems to be able to, at least, keep up with the grizzled Commander in a battle.
Someone with these abilities, should be firmly on the Ikari's radar... and yet, he's still searching the back of his mind for any possible intel, and there's... nothing. Were it not for his tattered sleeves and bleeding forearms, Heidern might believe the man doesn't actually exist - but the Ikari's wounds are testament to the fact that the mysterious figure is very MUCH real.
As the green snake's head bursts out of the rune, Heidern's eye opens wide at this bizarre display - but his surprise does not prevent him from bringing both his arms flying up in an 'X' shape - manifesting his own X-crescent of blue chi that moves forwad in an attempt to overcome the lunging snake's fangs... and yet, it does little - only slowing the projectile for a moment, not even enough time for Heidern to get out of the path of the projectile. It strikes him in the shoulder as he tries to lunge out of the way, and though he doesn't leave the ground, his boots skid back several steps in the forrest dirt. Clutching at the smoking hole in the shoulder of his uniform, Heidern stares across the short distance at Hazama.
"WHO SENT YOU?"
The snake still bites deep, blowing through the manifested energy. When it dissipates, crackling away in green motes, there's likely four very angry imprints where it's pervasive chi tried to chomp clear through the Ikari. The sigil before him dismisses, and he remains standing opposite in the same casual stance as before. But his grin is savage and predatory, all illusions of his facade almost completely dropped. "What's the matter, Heidern? I placed you as someone much more composed... although that's not your real name, is it? Hmmhmm. Are all the Ikari Warriors this fun...?" He slowly draws his tongue across his lips, lifting up his hat enough for one eye to gleam green. "Maybe I'll go play with Leona next... I bet if I push her hard enough, that *curious* blood will awaken again, won't it?" Hazama then leaps forward, long coat fluttering behind, before twisting to lash out his heel at the side of Heidern's face. A blade erupts from the heel once more, trying to add a vicious lash of metal to the otherwise speedy attack. He's moving incredibly fast, with ungodly strength... that such a person could lurk in the world completely unknown to a man as meticulous as Heidern has to be more than a little suspicious...
COMBATSYS: Hazama successfully hits Heidern with Light Kick.
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Heidern 0/-------/---====|=======\===----\1 Hazama
His gloved right hand is still held over the place on his shoulder where the manifested snake impacted, Heidern now standing in full-on 'assassination technique' stance and scowling across the distance at the man's petty remarks. It does frustrate the Ikari that his opponent is taking this entire encounter so lightly... it speaks to something about Hazama; either madness, or confidence - as though he knew exactly what Heidern was capable of, and simply... did not care.
The mention of his adopted daughter, however? That causes the Commander to visibly grit his teeth in anger, his remaining eye flashing wildly with rage for a brief moment. He's had his own concerns about Leona lately... and the barb does it's job in robbing Heidern of his focus. Even if only for the briefest time, Hazama is swift and cunning enough to take complete advantage.
"You..." he growls out, seconds before he catches the heel in the cheek, a spray of blood flying from the wound that bladed foot had produced across his face... spit flies through the air as he neck lashes to the side with the impact. He stumbles to the side, losing his footing and crashing to the ground but landing in a roll that has him quickly back on his feet in a fighting stance, his eye never leaving Hazama. He raises one hand to grasp at his wounded cheek. Pulling his glove away, he looks down at the blood with a stern frown.
"You've just signed your death warrant."
He states this simply, matter-of-factly - and he doesn't elaborate, leaving Hazama wondering if it was the wound, or the mention of Leona, that is provoking such a reaction from the Ikari CO. Either way, he leaves the green-haired man a moment to consider this - to perhaps ponder the errors of making such an enemy as Heidern...
And then in a flash of movement he bursts up into a somersault leap - turning upside-down in the air just as he passes over Hazama's head... with long arms, he reaches down to attempt to grab hold of the man's neck with two unusually sharp, cutting palms. If his grasp connects, Heidern will spin around the man in three full revolutions, his hands digging into his opponent's neck as he completes the technique and lands just inches away...
COMBATSYS: Hazama intercepts Neck Roller from Heidern with Serpent's Infernal Rapture.
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Heidern 0/-------/=======|===----\-------\0 Hazama
That might be the most annoying thing, indeed. Trying to figure Hazama out. The deeper one probes, the more it becomes a labyrinth, winding passages that definitely lead to an answer, yet with so many twists, turns and detours that one might go mad before they ever reach it. Or die. Hazama carefully lands on the ground, perched on a single foot as his knee raises slightly, small smirk continued to be worn. "Oye, oye... if you attack in a rage like that..." he begins, as the air seems to shift from the ungodly speed of Heidern's murderous dash. Hands grip, sink in, puncture flesh. But then there's the incredible feel of a foot impacting Heidern's chest. A great rune has manifested beneath Hazama, greatly empowering his speed and strength beyond what has been displayed for -- turning what seemed a safe assault into a complete opening.
"Even YOU'LL be vulnerable...!!"
And then he brutally finishes kicking, sending Heidern hurtling straight up like some kind of a rocket, likely at least a couple stories. Hazama then shifts back into his stance, adjusting his hat with his good hand. The other continues to hang limp and unused to the side. "Ah... I didn't intend for you to actually touch me..." is lamented, wiping away the blood seeping from his frayed neck.
He feels his grip sink in, those sharp hands finding their spot around Hazama's throat... and then the kick knocks the energy out of Heidern's body with a truly devastating blow - the impact enough to launch him high into the air, causing him to break THROUGH the canopy of trees hanging high above the forest.
He hangs, in the air, limp... for just a moment, before the descent begins - the Ikari finding himself thrust back down through the treeline, savagely impacting branches on his way before finally landing in a sprawl on the forrest dirt. There's no sound from the Mercenary and little moment other than a twitching hand that grasps out for.. something... anything.
His recovery is slow, the damage done by the single blow more than even trained fighters should be capable of. That someone so powerful, capable of tracking Heidern, has existed in the shadows... he knows about Leona and Orochi... who knows what OTHER information he's gathered about Heidern's unit?
Slowly pushing himself back to his feet, Heidern visibly sways for a moment before gritting his teeth yet again - digging his boots into the ground and steadying himself with a brief shake of his head, still seeing double through that one good eye as his Hazama's smug grin swims in his vision.
"Who... are... you...?" he questions through gasped breathes, one hand clutching his midsection where the kick struck as he slowly regains his bearings.
COMBATSYS: Heidern gains composure.
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Heidern 0/-------/-======|===----\-------\0 Hazama
"Nobody important." Hazama comments matter of factly. He's flicked out a butterfly knife in his good hand now, beginning to twirl it around on a finger through a ring on the end. "Not everybody has to be so loud and unseemly as you to get by, after all..." A lazy advancement takes him towards Heidern. One would think he would leap on the vulnerability the unexpected kick opened up, but he seems to be purposefully giving Heidern time to recover. "You should've just taken my offer to walk away... now you got me..." He then lashes out, attempting to grasp Heidern by the scruff of his camouflage uniform, and whirl around to fling him in the direction of an adjacent tree. "EXCITED!! You can only pent up these sort of things for so long!! It's not HEALTHY!"
COMBATSYS: Heidern counters Medium Throw from Hazama with Killing Bringer.
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Heidern 1/------=/=======|=====--\-------\0 Hazama
Heidern finds THAT hard to believe; if this man is 'nobody important' in whatever shadowy world he dwells in, the Ikari Commander fears the power an individual of 'importance' might wield. As the fight progresses, the mercenary is committing the man's face, his clothes, his posture, stance and techniques to memory - if the Ikaris survive the battles in the days to come, the fight with Justice... they might have themselves a new priority target after all this. He makes a mental note to inform Argent Merce, left in charge of Operations back in their South American HQ, of this mysterious stranger - see what the Ikari's resident data-savant can pull up, if anything...
He doesn't respond to any of Hazama's verbal jabs this time, just glaring at the man from across the clearing as his breath returns to it's normal pace, stance straightening perceptibly as he regains some degree of composure.
Instead, he simply prepares himself for the strike he KNOWS is coming - now that the gauntlet has been thrown, the green-haired man seems to be showing some amount of his TRUE personality. And, for just a second, Heidern smirks as Hazama lashes out to try and grab his uniform - an eye narrows, and the world around him seems to slow for a moment...
And, in one swift, fluid movement, Heidern strikes up with his left forearm to SWAT away Hazama's grasping hands, his right palm thrusting forward and up, aiming to impale itself as far into his opponent's midsection as possible. Pulling himself closer to the mysterious man, Heidern bares his teeth in a bloody grin. And he speaks, calmly, coldly, but with an obviously threatening undercurrent of hate.
"You're going to wish you didn't say her name."
Oops. Hazama got a little too... hungry. His hands struck aside, a momentary look of confusion before Heidern's fist slams deep into Hazama's midsection. Very deep; passing through where organs would be, vital blood vessels, a blow that is guaranteed to be fatal. But... there's not nearly enough blood. A little, just like what came from his neck, yet mere drippings beyond the gout of an eviscerated opponent Heidern has likely seen many times. Within him... nothing. A firm resistance, yet there's little evidence of proper internal organs. Something alien. Inhuman. Impossible. "...oops. Did I play around too much?" Hazama coos out, before bringing up his good arm, blade flicked into sight. His insides clench in an attempt to make it harder for Heidern to retrieve his limb, before unleashing a vicious downwards blow, trailed by a hissing serpentine manifestation that tries to tear into not only Heidern's body, but his very soul. "Tsk, tsk... I didn't want you to discover *that* about me...!"
COMBATSYS: Heidern blocks Hazama's Devouring Fang.
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Heidern 1/-----==/=======|=======\-------\1 Hazama
Heidern's palm thrusts through, but there's a moment's confusion on his face - he's done this enough times to know there's something inhuman underneath that skin. He frowns noticeably as he gazes down at the slow trickle of blood rather than the expected spouts - even RUGAL bled like a man...
He has little time to consider the repercussions of this, as his eyes dart back up to Hazama's face - eyes betraying a sense of surprise with the entire exchange... he's... joking? Still?
Sensing something wrong with the man's casual response to the attack, Heidern attempts to pull his palm back out of the Hazama's midsection and finds it entrapped in some kind of bizarre grip. "What..." is the only word that Heidern has an opportunity to mumble, before that blade comes crashing down at him -trailed by the same bizarre energy that struck him so deeply even through his own Cross Cutter.
Exhaling in pain, the Ikari CO is able to twist his body around and bring his other elbow into the path of the blow - through it rips through his uniform all the same, drawing even more blood out of his forearm and tearing even deeping - striking something INSIDE Heidern in a manner he's never felt before.
It brings a gasp from his parted lips, as he pulls even harder - finally freeing his hand from Hazama's midsection. He doesn't stagger back, however - instead, he takes advantage of their close proximity to reach out for that green hair, trying to grab hold of the man's longer hair and use it to swing him into the trunk of a nearby tree with a heaving grunt.
COMBATSYS: Hazama blocks Heidern's Medium Throw.
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Heidern 1/-----==/=======|=======\-------\1 Hazama
Hazama thumps down before Hazama, limply leaning forward like some kind of zombie. He begins to laugh madly, before suddenly building up a massive amount of power in the air, manifesting a great sigil. What kind of terribly massive attack is coming next...?! But then he merely slashes twice, two lashes of his blade aimed to cut at Heidern's good eye as he leaps backwards. While in the air, Hazama suddenly stops, levitating in place as multiple green seals appear around him. Each sprouts a snake-headed chain, which lash out and sink fangs into trees, creating a veritable minefield of active, sizzling energy links. Backflipping in a whirl of clothing, hand keeping his hat in place, he then lands crouched on one of the taunt chains, grinning towards Heidern.
"Leona." he whispers, beginning to spin his butterfly knife again. "I'll gut her. Like a pig. Slow. Steady. Just like... oops!" He covers his mouth. "A tongue may be silver, but silence is golden!" Another chuckle follows, beckoning Heidern towards him. "Leona...!" he repeats.
"Leona, Leona, Leona!!"
Suddenly he freezes, glancing at the open air beside him. "...are you watching? Heh. Don't be jealous, now~"
COMBATSYS: Heidern interrupts Serpent's Redemption from Hazama with Caliburn.
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Heidern 0/-------/-----==|=======\-------\1 Hazama
The blade does manage to slash above Heidern's remaining eye, forcing his hand up to his face as he staggers backwards, attempting to recover his sight as blood drips down into his vision. This offers Hazama the opportunity to levitate into the air, manifesting his bizarre green seals, snakes lashing out through the air towards him. It looks, for a moment, like he'll be caught dead-on and defenseless by the attack. That is, until Hazama makes his mistake.
She volunteered for this mission; to fight Justice. Not to be stalked by yet another madman. Heidern won't allow it, not while he draws breath. The young woman he adopted as a child has been through enough, and has more pressing matters in the days ahead, without adding this lunatic to her list of concerns.
%"No," comes the stern, one-word reply, the Ikari CO lunging forward and up in the air towards Hazama. The snake-heads bite out at his body, some of them glancing at his limbs - but with a swift upwards swipe of his right hand, Heidern unleashes a terrible, chi-infused palm strike at the underside of the levitating Hazama's unprotected chin.
That was a mistake. Perhaps Hazama shouldn't speak to the air like that, and given an assassin of Heidern's level an opening... especially after chiding the other man in such a fashion. He turns back in time for the brutal blow to impact his chin, striking his head straight upwards. A small amount of blood spatters, and bone is felt to break. His jaw, shattered. Leaning backwards, Hazama awkwardly kicks off the Ouroboros chain, hitting the ground on his shoulder and rolling to a stop. He's breathing deeply now, but looking into the great blood-tinged wound on his midsection, there's only solid darkness. "Ouch." is all he offers, before rising to his feet, barely upright. "Well... let's finish playing now, then..." He then snaps his fingers, before the chain behind Heidern detaches from the tree, suddenly rushing towards his back with a terrible hiss, trying to sink into his collar and wind tightly around his neck. "I think... I've shown you too much to let you live...!!"
COMBATSYS: Hazama issues a challenge!!
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Heidern 0/-------/-----==|=======\-------\1 Hazama
COMBATSYS: Hazama successfully hits Heidern with Ouroboros.
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Heidern 0/-------/----===|=======\==-----\1 Hazama
After his blow lands, Heidern continues his upwards path for a moment before descending and landing lightly on his combat boots. Planting them firmly in the ground, he takes the time to wipe the blood away from his eye with the back of one glove before focusing in on Hazama with his gaze, carefully watching the man's recovery.
It's only through decades of experience and training that the Ikari CO has come this far at all - any of his Ikaris, he senses, would have fallen quickly to this bizarre new threat... the mysterious man has even managed to catch Heidern off-guard, as the Commander's tattered uniform and bloodied arms and brow bear testament to.
The sound of the chain detaching behind him gives Heidern a moment's notice - quick enough for the hyper-vigilant soldier to raise his forearms into the chain's snaking path, and it wraps around his forearm instead of his neck as Hazama obviously intended. Heidern's forearm trendles as he struggles with the chain - though he keeps his eye on his opponent, and even offers a smirk.
"You've shown me just enough to know how to put you down," he says calmly, his free hand darting inside his uniform and pulling out a fragmentation grenade, pulling the pin with his teeth before he tosses it across the clearing at Hazama - the object exploding as it nears his opponent. It might not do much - traditional weapons are rarely effective against such threats - but the chain around his other arm restricts him, limiting his options at this time.
COMBATSYS: Hazama narrowly escapes Heidern's Thrown Object!
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Heidern 0/-------/----===|=======\==-----\1 Hazama
The grenade is flung through the air, and Hazama definitely can't evade it himself... but he grasps an adjacent Ouroboros chain. It suddenly retracts, yanking him along violently, the massive explosion shattering roots and trunks where he just was. Letting go as the chain vanishes into motes of green chi, he soars airborne in Heidern's direction, as the chain biting him suddenly moves to constrict his arm and leg, making evasion more difficult, his body more vulnerable. His good arm rears back, energy surging into it once more. Unlike before, this is no feint.
He then unleashes a brutal upwards slash, great burst of orochi-shaped serpent roaring out to strike Heidern skywards after. Then he fires off an Ouroboros chain, the slithering coil aiming to sink deep into Heidern's throat. Before making to violently retract it and hurtle Heidern down to slam upon the ground at Hazama's feet, as his wild eyes shine with raw sadism. And then begin slashing and kicking upon him in a brutal fashion, aiming to slam a heel upon his face, grind it in cruel fashion, and then finally unleash a ground-splitting uppercut flaring with a death adder to send him flying away...!!
COMBATSYS: Heidern interrupts Glimmering Fang of the Basilisk from Hazama with Backstabber.
- Power hit! -
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Heidern 0/-------/--=====|====---\-------\0 Hazama
Manifesting his own blue chip around his trapped arm, Heidern takes the moment's reprieve that the grenade explosion offered him to burn away the green chain. Pulling that arm up in front of his body, his other gloved hand rubs up and down his forearm. The bizarre energy leaves a strange sensation, burning through his uniform and, seemingly, even his toughened skin.
His eye follows Hazama's trajectory upwards, and he hardly had taken a step forward himself before the too-quick-to-comprehend serpent strikes him, knocking the Commander upwards where he is snatched out of the air by another fanged mouth... but even as he's tossed back to the ground below, Heidern is calculating, planning... and against all odds, he manages to free himself ever so slightly in mid-air, allowing him to spin free and land on his feet rather than face-first as intended.
As Hazama rushes ahead, Heidern finds the strength to meet him - dashing forward and seemingly disappearing as Hazama unleashes his follow up blows... that is, until the Ikari Commander is suddenly BEHIND the mysterious man, his razor sharp hands slashing up and down Hazama's back as he slips past him.
The brutal series of assaults, intended for a helpless opponent, hit only air. A few trees suddenly bisect into countless pieces, crashing to the ground and causing another Ouroboros chain to demanifest. He staggers forward, before seeming to force himself to fall sideways, crashing against a nearby trunk adjacent to a hissing maw of his odd summoned chain-snakes. He's breathing hard, sweat rolling down his face, hat completely askew. He's still loosely holding his butterfly knife, shaking hand stuffing it into his pocket. "O-oh? I... can't move like I want... I got... nothing in me..."
And then he snaps up his good hand, an eruption of twin, dense spiraling serpents roaring towards Heidern. One bites at his shoulder, the other his hip, aiming to carry him along and /slam/ him into a tree opposite Hazama. Then his arm thumps down beside him.
"...okay. NOW I got nothing left in me...~"
COMBATSYS: Hazama can no longer fight.
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COMBATSYS: Heidern dodges Hazama's Venom Sword.
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As the battle has gone on, the unorthodox, unique style of Hazama's attacks have become less effective with every blow that passes between the pair of them - the analytical mind of the professional soldier studying his opponent's movements every time he has sprung into action. He may not know anything about the man, or his motives, but he's learning how he moves - how to predict and deal with that never-before-seen style of fighting.
When the green-haired man feigns defeat and places his butterfly knife away, Heidern simply scowls in response - standing opposite the man, eyeing him up, ready for the attack he's sure is coming. The man has proven himself to be nothing less than a liar, and his fighting style seems to mimic and compliment his verbal mindgames.
So, when the serpents are launched towards him in a last, desperate surprise attack, the Ikari CO simply crouches low and leaps high into the air, flipping frontwards and landing softly on the dirt as the projectile passes harmlessly behind him. He lands in a walk, strolling calmly towards his drained opponent. Reaching out to grab him by the collar, Heidern aims to lift the man into a straighter posture with what little strength he has left, maintaining his grip as his one good eye burrows deep into Hazama.
"Tell me again about my daughter, you son of a bitch..." he hisses, the hatred causing his voice to seethe in a tone rarely heard from the generally stoic mercenary.
"Careful... with the shirt..." Hazama says calmly when grasped and pulled upwards. He just ragdolls slightly. "Although I guess you already put a hole in it." Directly beside, and throughout the trees, the many Ouroboros chains continue to hiss and seethe, the bark and wood where they latched on blackening. There's one directly beside Hazama and Heidern, but with awareness it's likely no threat. And those fangs are so embedded in the wood, retracting them and trying to bite would be fatally slow. "Which part...? What I do with her when she's conscious...? What I do with her when she's unconscious...? Or what I do when she wakes up again?" His hat then falls off, thumping in the direct beside him. His hair is vivid green and unkempt, eyes closed once more and friendly smile on his face. "Ah... can you put my hat back on my head? It's drafty."
The sound of Heidern's teeth gritting together is almost painfully loud as he listens to the gloating of the defeated madman - the act of 'innocent bird-watcher' would seem almost hilarious in comparison to the truth of the man's personality... were he not threatening the person whose safety Heidern cares about even more than those of his other soldiers. His eye widens and burns his anger, jaw grinding as he listens to the sick words poured out from Hazama's smug mouth.
"YOU DARE?!" are the only words the stranger gets in response; but it's in a tone, a volume, that Heidern rarely exhibits. It's clear Hazama knows what buttons to push... he seems to know far too much about the Ikaris and their personal relationships than any complete stranger SHOULD.
Maintaining his grip on the man's shirt with one hand, he lashes out his other arm, tucking it up and aiming to smash an elbow into the side of the NOL agent's head. He doesn't even glance at the hat, or the chains... Hazama has his complete, undivided attention - for better or worse.
"YOUR NAME. NOW!"
The brutal elbow impacts Hazama in the face, and more bone is felt cracking. Such a blow would kill even a strong human in this state. At the surface level, Hazama seems to be normal; he has bones, he has skin, and beneath it, blood. Yet deeper inside, where there should be muscle and organs, something ELSE is fueling the... creature. That might be the best term Heidern has for him at the moment. One eye now damaged and forced shut, Hazama slowly turns back towards Heidern, breath coming slower. His good eye slits, showing... pleasure. Masochistic pleasure. The battle, the current situation. He LIKES it. "...my journal." he murmurs, coughing up a small amount of blood. "Just... don't look in there. 'Kay? It's... personal..." The notes he has been taking all along while tailing the man? It's somewhat visible in an inner pocket...
Heidern takes no visible pleasure in striking a defeated opponent, even one who spoke in such a manner about his adopted daughter - he simply continues to grit his teeth as his elbow impacts cheek, that one eye never blinking, staring at Hazama's face, demanding answers... He's so enraged, he doesn't even consider why the man is even still CONSCIOUS at this point - his own anger at Hazama's words driving him to ignore everything else for the moment.
He scowls, again, at the look of pleasure on the man's face - it's a look of disgust that covers his entire face, that somebody could seem to revel in so brutal a beating. The Mercenary is a master assassin, and he was NOT holding back in this fight... and yet, the man is still awake, still able to speaks. He has so many questions, and the mention of a journal seem to point towards potential answers of some kind.
His eye breaks away from the stranger for the first time since he grabbed hold of his shirt, looking at the end of the notebook poking out of that inside pocket. With one gloved hand, he reaches in to grasp it... let's see what this creep was writing down...
The journal is packed to the core with small script, starting some days ago, at a time and a place that Heidern was. It's an observation of a common city pigeon. At regular intervals, for dozens and dozens of pages, perhaps fifty lines each, every single last one is on birds. But the times and locations line up constantly with everywhere Heidern was at the time, even some he might have been unaware of. He truly had been shadowing him the entire time...
Yet the power of Ouroboros is not like that of chi, precisely. In the couple minutes since being downed, some amount of it has regenerated. A finger flicks as Heidern is hopefully intent on some hidden message within the journal of a birdwatching enthusiast... before suddenly a surge of energy crashes upwards, rushing from a seal between the Ikari leader's legs. A much smaller snake, but fierce and quick.
Trying to bite him right on the groin.
At the same time, Hazama snaps out his good arm to cling tight to the coil of the adjacent Ouroboros chain he summoned earlier; and cause it to open it's maw and explosively retract, so he can be pulled along with it. Unlike all the others, this chain's companion end is far, far deeper into the sea of shadows and forest... it was no coincidence that Hazama made sure his final, weakened stagger placed him beside it.
But is this last, desperate gambit enough to work on a man of Heidern's caliber...?
The grizzled soldier can hardly believe his eye as he opens the journal to... actual notations on the man's bird-watching trips, though the fact that every date and time matches up with a place the Ikari felt an odd sensation, something stalking him from the distance, is not lost on him. He lets out a low grumble of frustration as he quickly rifles through the notebook... page... after... page...
Birds. Birds that happened to be in the vicinity of Heidern running recon on targets in and around Southtown, but no direct mention of anything but... BIRDS.
Tossing the notebook to the side in anger, the mercenary turning his eye back to Hazama just in time to witness some smug, amused glance on his face - and then he's struck between the legs by one of the regenerated Ouroboros chains, and he releases his grasp on the man as the pain strikes him...
And then, he's gone, spinning back into the forest along the path of some far-reaching chain... Heidern takes off in a few long strides after him, but the chain is travelling too fast, and soon Hazama's body disappears into the deep shadows of the early-morning woods.
His eye scanning the surroundings for signs of another attacker - realizing there are more forces at play on this island than even HE was aware of - the Ikari CO finally takes a kneeling crouch and brings his wrist-mounted Codec device up to his mouth.
"Heidern here. ... ... no, not that. There's something else here. Something we haven't seen before."
Log created on 13:15:55 11/14/2017 by Heidern, and last modified on 19:07:19 11/14/2017.