Marz - Where Monsters Roam

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Description: Lt. Katarina Shimotsuki of the Novus Orbis Librarium arrives on the scene to help put down a violent humanoid gear. The strange man with a monstrous arm and the curious lack of any sense of pain. The brave soldier takes the beast on in single combat and although there is a degree of damage to Chinatown, they day might yet be saved. However, lurking in the shadows are agents of a higher order. Ones for whom this whole conflict between Library and Gear is little more than an intelligence operation. Could the current chaos be playing into the hands of darker forces?

The Imperator of the Novus Orbis Librarium has called for the attention of criminal syndicates and societies the world over. And many of them have answered. Some in more subtle ways than others. With the current nature of the situation in South Town, a few of Shadaloo's number have noted that it is a prime moment to ascertain the overall abilities of the rank and file of this newly risen power player on the world stage. Thanks to the influx of creatures, threats and more that are still lingering from the threat of war, or that slither from the shadows and liminal spaces created in the wake of gods and monsters, there is no shortage of observational opportunities.

Marz, one of the twelve Dolls created by Shadaloo, sits with her laptop in a small restaurant tucked into the winding ways and bright lights of South Town's Chinatown district. She is out of her usual uniform, working undercover in street clothes and appearing all the world as a traveling student. In reality, she has been following an individual that other agents have already classified as a rogue humanoid gear. An engine of destruction freed from the mental coaxing of the Command Gear known as Justice. Originally just a blank wandering, this one has appeared to built up the personality subsumed in the process of its creation. Although it was still classified as volatile and a prime target for creating an opportunity to observe the NOL in an emergency situation.

The humanoid gear walks through Chinatown. A lank figure that appears taller than he really is due to his exaggerated limbs and narrow torso, he shuffles along the crowds with a lack of concern. His long, stringy, black hair hangs down around his face and the eyes sat in hollows that hold a baleful gaze at all the disgusting humanity that slithers about his person. His lips, wide and fish like, open and close as if almost ready to speak a mind that's still ticking over. A tatterdemalion, his long and dirty coat was a soft suede at one point, and now simple looks worn and weathered as its tassels sway with each of his long and loping strides.

This figure of a wretch stops as he walks past the restaurant that hides the Shadaloo operative and her backup. His face contorts, his eyes lash this way and that. A sound, a register too high for most to hear. The rage of a beast is not difficult to trigger. A sound meant to irritate. It has been following the Gear all day. And now the straw is about to break.

The Gear licks his lips and twists around, smacking a passing old man to the ground with enough strength to carom the poor old man off the ground like a skipping stone. The Gear's hand twisting and creaking and cracking as it begins to build mass and warping muscle. The more or less human guise of the Gear breaking as it's hand grows to a ragged, wicked claw.

The sound dies off. The little devices disabled. A helpful, furtive call is sent to the NOL. The people need help. There's a monster in Chinatown.

The response, once the call has been made and its contents passed up the grapevine, is quick and efficient. The sounds of blarming sirens wailing their shrill alarms scythe through the cacophony of chaos which has subsumed the small section of Chinatown. People flee in all directions in teeming and terrified masses as the screams of those nearest enough to witness the sudden and inexplicable violence realize the nature of the wolf in their midst ignite an epidemic of panic that spreads like wildfire through the streets. Countless dozens are trampled in the mindless frenzy to escape leaving injured and dead bodies lying broken and forgotten in their wake.

Large and heavily armed APCs rumble into view within minutes of the assault, their armored exteriors painted with the dark azure and gold of the NOL's military colors. Embarking ramps are lowered and squads of soldiers hurry to secure the area, men and women wielding glowing blades and arcane staves rather than modern assault weaponry spreading out into a loose perimeter. Though their weapons may look woefully out of date, they hold them with the same authority and confidence of any soldier as they face the oncoming crowds.

"Our first priority is to secure the safety of the citizens."

A sing-song voice made of wispy clouds drifts throughout the area, touching each NOL soldier's ears as clearly as if it had been whispered directly into them despite the terrible background noise. The owner of that voice, a young woman wearing a heavy greatcoat made of black and gold fabric, strides to the fore of the formation as she speaks. Katarina scans the panicked mobs rushing pellmell through the streets and frowns slightly, the faint hint of emotion hidden behind the high neck of her coat. This is already a right bloody mess. Even if it turns out to be a false report, the amount of injured created by these crazed civilians would likely be far worse than any single low-level Gear could have managed. Bloody idiots.

"Unfortunately, it looks like we may have something of a riot on our hands. Prepare wide-area sleep magic. You have authorization to use stun spells on anyone who fails to succumb and refuses to comply with orders but, for the love of the Imperator, try not to create a scene. We want these people to trust us."

One of the uniformed personnel snaps a quick salute in response, their fist crossing over their chest to rest on their heart. A man in his early thirties by the looks of it, turns to regard the much younger officer, an eyebrow quirking upwards in curiosity.

"What of the reported Gear, sir? Shall we send in strike teams to locate and destroy it?"

Katarina shakes her head once and waves a gauntletted hand through the air with a dismissive gesture.

"No. I shall dispose of this vermin myself. Other squads have been dispatched to secure the other exits so it should have no where to run. If it happens to find you before I find it, you have permission to engage. Maximum lethality. We don't want this thing slipping past with only a few wounds."

"Yes, sir. Good hunting."

That brings a smirk to her face that she does nothing to hide though she offers no words in response. With a quick burst of concentration Katarina rises into the air, floating effortlessly within a bubble of invisible power as she darts off into the depths of the target zone at great speeds, zipping neatly from block to block in search of the rogue monster.

Chinatown is a mess of activity in the short time it takes the NOL response team to come down with a force. People fleeing, running and shouting at the appearance of a monster. A monster that's already hurt a few people, slashing and swiping with a massive, clawed hand. The crush of panic is narrowly averted by the arrival of uniformed NOL agents who can steer and direct the maddened id of the crowd into a coherent, organized flow. Lives are saved today thanks to the quick response time. Including several "civilians" who disappear into the crowds and the safety of the NOL response team. And once on the other side, open up their channels to observe chaos through planted camera and observational devices. Small and simple disguised pieces that are easily left behind in the hustle.

The gear himself stalks the street outside the restaurant. He drags an unconscious old man by the leg as a child would a favored stuffed toy. His sunken eyes wide, his mouth stretched into a broad, froggish grin. He stops and holds the shrunken old man up before his eyes. Salivating, the figure's maw starts to open. A long tongue slithers from the gear's mouth before it closes again.

Something is coming.

The old man gets tossed aside casually, crashing into a food cart. The gear twists and turns and spies the floating woman in the great coat. The sight of it gets the gear to laugh and stand up a little straighter.

He licks his liver lips and tilts his head, brushing his greasy hair aside with his still human looking hand. "You coming all for me?" he calls out, capable of speaking. Another slurping of his tongue and he adopts a languid slouch, his head lolled casually to watch the floating girl above. "You look like a find little bleeder, why not come on down and see me?" he taunts with a waggle of his clawed finger.

What had started as a dull minded slog in a mental fog has been clarified by his angry, violent outburst caused by the irritating sound. But slashing the humans, hurling them aside so casually, it awoke the disgust in him. The reminder that he isn't human anymore, the hatred inside Justice still boils in him and now that it's out he's realizing just how simple and fun it could be to just put a little hurt on the soft humanity all around him. Not even realizing a weapon like himself was walking among them.

COMBATSYS: Styler has started a fight here.

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Styler           0/-------/------=|

Though she moves with a swiftness, Katarina's search of the area is nonetheless quite thorough. The view from her lofty aerial perch allows her to to scan broad swaths of the roads all at once and she quickly begins to get a better picture of the area through these efforts. From above she can the flows of panicked civilians as they continue to flee and by tracing their paths back to a common epicenter she narrows in on the most likely place to find the culprit of this chaos.

The NOL officer slows her flight to a mild cruising speed as she draws close to the target zone. Her hands make quick flicking gestures at her sizes and a pair of gleaming curved blades manifest out of thin air into her grasp as she prepares to deal with the threat in the most direct solution. Her thoughts drift off for a few brief moments to the encounter she'd had with that pompous windbag Leo Whitefang only a few days prior. She'd quite thoroughly trounced the buffoon's arguments that the darkstalkers were somehow the equivalent of people, rights and protections, and the lack of a reprimand from her superiors had made it pretty clear that they were on her side in this matter. She smirks again, wishing she could have seen his face when they told him off.

Her attention is brought back to the present as she rounds the bend of a large skyscraper and the object of her search finally comes into sight. Her nose wrinkles up in disgust at the hideous thing's distorted face. Why are these creatures always so ugly? To give up one's humanity for such pitiful power. Revolting.

Katarina's eyes narrow as the creature dares to speak, sullying the air with its foul speech. She quickly plummets from the sky, dropping down to the street like a thunderbolt. As the last moment her motion before she would have simply cratered into the ground her motion suddenly stops and she hovers there some handful of feet in the air, glaring with disdain at the abomination.

"Foul creature. You have some nerve to cause such havoc within these streets. This city is under the protection of the Imperator and I shall not allow you to defile her good word with this wanton violence."

The words she speaks drift like tufts of freshly-picked cotton, her voice gentle and soft as it grazes the monster's senses. She shows little outwards signs of emotion save for the disgust in her voice, the scowl of disgust hidden in the shadows of her coat's high collar. The blades that she wields, however, seem to be almost eager as they gleam brightly within her hands.

"Die and return to the dust from whence you crawled, worm."

Katarina lifts a hand, gesturing at the monster with the tip of her blade. And yet she remains motionless, refusing to engage him despite the obvious challenge. The reasons for this become quite clear a few moments later. Half a dozen more of the shimmering swords suddenly lance down into the Gear from behind, appearing from thin air as she calls forth her magic to launch a surprise attack!

COMBATSYS: Katarina has joined the fight here.

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Styler           0/-------/------=|======-\-------\0         Katarina

COMBATSYS: Katarina successfully hits Styler with Da Capo.

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Styler           0/-------/---====|=======\-------\1         Katarina

The gear down below looks up at the woman and watches her plummet to the ground. And then simply arrest herself before she hits. The creature flips its hair and grins a lopsided grin. Ear craning as if it can only hear from one side of its face the cottony words of the well dressed Lieutenant.

"If you think you're so tough come on and draw the line," he invites, sauntering toward Katarina with his arms out at his sides. The threat met with another in a joking, self-amused manner.

And then the sword is raised, the gear looks ready to leap, and he's stabbed heartily in the back. The blades apparate and cleave into the gear. He lurches forward like a pin cushion, keeled over and coughing up inhuman fluids. "Naughty naughty girl," he says, his head lifting upwards to look at Katarina with a wicked and just a little lascivious grin. His tongue slipping out to lap at the ichor around his lips.

He's off like a shot. Inhuman indeed, and for the best that Katarina came to handle this moment herself. He kicks up a cloud of dust behind him when he hurls himself toward the NOL officer. His massive claw of a right hand raises up, reaches out. It's the size of Katarina's torso, black as pitch and crossed with a hatchwork of monstrous tendon and ligament that reaches out to simply grab for Katarina and hurl her bodily against the same food cart as he had earlier tossed the old man.

COMBATSYS: Styler successfully hits Katarina with Brutal Fling.

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Styler           0/-------/---====|=======\-------\1         Katarina

Katarina's eyes narrow slightly as the creature seems to shrug off the magical assault without much effort. If anything, she appears to have encouraged it with the prospect of a fight. She doesn't offer a verbal retort to the creature's taunts, merely lifting her swords into a combat stance as she prepares to ward off the oncoming rush of muscle and bone.

His speed proves to be greater than she had anticipated. The massive claw slips past her guard and she lets out a soft grunt as its powerful fingers smash into her chest, hurling her through the air with a broad sweep of its bloated arm. The officer flies backwards from the blow, bowling over the cart with the impact creating a small explosion of noodles and soysauce.

It takes a few moments for the girl to extricate herself from this embarassing situation but she floats up from the wreckage, peeling loose strands of fresh ramen from her shoulders and hat with a dignified, if annoyed, look.

"Very well. Since it seems you lack the good sense to simply lay down and die, we will do this the hard way."

The air around Katarina seems to suddenly shimmer with a faint golden light as if her entire body is sheathed in the halo of some great flickering fire. All around her, a dozen more of the magical sabers wink into existence and begin to spin in a rapid horizontal circle, a buzzsaw like barrier of swords forming around her waist. The soft sound of melodic humming fills the air as the weapons themselves begin to emit sound like the singing swords of legend, each blade working in harmony with the others to create an etheral and haunting melody.

"Now, beast, let us see how you fare."

COMBATSYS: Katarina gathers her will.

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Styler           0/-------/---====|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2         Katarina

The gear inhales deeply, savoring the moment of touch after he's flung Katarina into the cart. He runs his hand up along his tight-legged pants and up along his chest, bared as the tasseled coat he wore hangs from ribbons from the blades that lanced through him. He looks at Katarina and licks one of his distorted finger claws with his elongated tongue, watching her through a V made by his fingers.

"All saucy and delicious," he says, rolling his neck with a little cricking-cracking sound as he lets his claw hand lay knuckle down on the pavement, the arm bulging with wrongly laid and thickened muscle at odds with the rest of his limber frame.

From behind the fringe of his stringy hair, his eyes widen when he sees the buzzing blades and the barrier of swords all around her. He lolls his head to the side again, rocking back and forth and watching the blades dancing all around. Loafing and loose and biding his time for a moment of thought and consideration. The humanoid gear's mind is firing up its cleverness the longer things are going on. "Metal," he tells her, throwing up a pair of horns on his still human hand.

He crouches down and then bursts upwards into the air. He soars above, twisting in the air over the floating woman. He plummets down toward her, spiraling like a football. Swords be damned, he's simply leaping at her with a terrible force. His fat lipped mouth opening, tongue flopping out as his heavyweight claw of a hand reaches back. An inhuman self made projectile crashing down despite the dangers the blades posses.

COMBATSYS: Katarina blocks Styler's Monstrous Impact.

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Styler           0/-------/---====|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2         Katarina

Technically, they're constructs of light, sound, and theoretical matter, but she's not quite seperated from society so much that the colloquial term fails to register and thus doesn't bother to explain that to the brute. Besides, he's about to die so elucidating on some of the finer points of magical theory would probably be a bit of a waste.

When the Gear lunges, Katarina holds her ground. The array of swords at her waist suddenly shift as she lifts a hand up and clenches her fist, twisting together into an interlocking shield of shimmering blades that catch the monster's terrible claws upon their enchanted surfaces rather than allowing him to reach the unprotected flesh of the young woman behind them. The impact rings with a soft musical burst of sound as the NOL officer's barrier wards her from harm. She clenches her teeth as the pressure of his weight pushes against her concentration but after a moment she hurls him away, the swords unfolding like a dozen flyswatters to push the creature back.

As the flower of blades blossoms infront of her, Katarina swings the saber in her hand through the newly formed opening, slashing at the empty air. A crescent shaped arrow of golden light erupts from the tip of the weapon and spears down towards the falling body of the Gear in an attempt to smash him against the street rather than allow him to nimbly fall to once more to the ground.

COMBATSYS: Styler endures Katarina's Vibrato Crescendo.

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Styler           0/-------/--=====|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2         Katarina

To explain the more complicated nature of arcane constructs would be a waste of time on the Gear fighting Katarina. In a time before, he was no great intellect, a cunning man maybe, but he was never much more than a hanger on of greater and tougher things. Outpaced by the raw power he saw in others and never considering on how to leverage wit as a genuine source of strength.

As a gear, he was bound and mindless to the will of Justice. Her thoughts and emotions were his own. And though he survived, he was alone for a time afterward with little thought to remain in his head. But waking up, he's seeing all the potential that was there is now out before him, and with it a hatred and joyful disdain for the humanity he relinquished for his newfound power. Power that this NOL Officer was trying to step to.

He rolls with the sound, turning in the air as the sweet music of his weigh crashing into the swords plays for the audience of two and the Shadaloo streaming the combat for their own purposes. That she isn't talking is telling to him. It's what he wants to not hear. He's getting to her. She's not being haughty and stuck up. As he falls, the blade of light spears down into him. While he falls, his meaty claw lashes out and for a moment he looks her in the eye. And he smiles.

He makes no attempt to be nimble, or to dodge away from the light. No, he takes it, lets it slice deep of him all because he wants to show this little woman just what sort of punishment he can take. And to see what she can when his claw swipes once more to just cast her aside like a ragdoll.

COMBATSYS: Katarina dodges Styler's Power Throw.

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Styler           0/-------/--=====|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2         Katarina

Katarina's eyebrows quirk upwards slightly as the monster attempts to impress her, like some sort of scruffy stray dog in the street that has found someone they believe will give them food and pettings if they perform a trick. With its master dead and cast into the gutter, it has likely wandered aimless and alone, devoid of purpose or meaning. This little outburst of violence, the attack on the people around it must be some sort of cry for help and attention.

It'd be cute if she wasn't so disgusted.

Regardless of what he thinks of her reactions, it isn't for casual banter or lording it over a lesser creature that she has come alone to face this beast. Rather, it is for the opporunity to unleash the pent-up frustrations of her soul. The corruption of the Music Box is an ever-present itch, a constant pressure within her mind that demands to be satisfied with the beautiful music of violence. The pain that she will cause here today not only serves to satisfy the will of the illustrious Imperator, blessed be her name, but it will help to slake that endless thirst for the pure Worldsong that expresses itself only when coaxed out with cries of pain and suffering.

The pitiful attempt of the Gear to lash out at her in defiance meets only empty air. The NOL officer's long white hair billows out behind her like a cloak as she pirouettes to the side, her mastery of aerial combat allowing her to flit easily out of range. The bouquet of blades reforms around her in a rotating halo about her waist and she dives to the ground, dropping straight down with such speed that she actually beats the Gear to it. Once again, she arrests her movement at a moment's notice and her vertical plummet shifts sideways at a ninety-degree angle only a foot above the hard concrete of the street. Katarina darts like a arrow to meet the arrogant beast and with a flick of her hand the rapidly spinning barrier of magical swords accelerates into a solid shimmering ring of singing buzzsaw as she plows into it from the side, her eyes glittering with eager anticipation for the screams.

COMBATSYS: Katarina successfully hits Styler with Eternal Waltz.

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Styler           1/------=/=======|>>>>>>>\-------\1         Katarina

The call of violence meets them both. Their enmity, it seems, a matter of point of origin rather than moral stance. The music they could make together. Two ships passing the night, as it were. The gear exists to make for pain. He finds a joy in the song and dance of violence that was missing during his days of fog and mindless marionette of an existence. A dangerous thing more than a person, despite the burgeoning personality that's begun to reassert itself in the absence of Justice's command.

A violent wave, a crescendo of carnage that is the whirling waltz of Katarina Shimotsuki slices a furrow and carves her presence into the flesh of the gear. He had tried to dance his way out of her path of destruction but it serves him no help as he's caught and forced against the blades.

Chewed up and spat out, the gear rolls along the ground. With a cracking of bone and a wet twisting, the figure plants hand and claw on the ground and hoists itself back up to a standing position. His jacket is gone, tattered confetti strewn about the pavement. He stands lopsided and loose, a toy broken and left aside. But he smiles.

His wide mouth gawps for a moment, long tongue slithering out as he slowly cracks himself together. Parts of him gashed and cut leak a fluid that isn't quite blood that is already starting to congeal and reattach the lacerations and breaks in his torn body. The inhuman construction that can conceal a monstrous form behind humanity's face seen as it works to stitch the Gear back together.

"So you can dance," he says, voice ragged and throaty, coming from a cut in his neck rather than his fish-like mouth. "I think I'm all shook. I might be in love."

The creature, broken as it is, hurls itself once more at Katarina, moving at lightning speed. It fights with a fury, slashing swipes of a heavy hand. Twisting bones to elbow and knee. It's tongue literally lashing out for a tasty of the young woman. He screams with a twisted, inhuman laughter. A force of inhuman violence that feeds off the pains of the flesh.

COMBATSYS: Styler successfully hits Katarina with Monstrous Beatdown.
- Power hit! -

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Styler           0/-------/------=|>>>>>>>\>>-----\1         Katarina

The singing swords hack and cut, scything through augmented inhuman anatomy as easily as if it were tissue paper. Ichor sprays in a thin sheet as it sloughs off the ends of the buzzing saw spattering the street and nearby walls with the creature's foul blood in fern-frond patterns of gore. The damage is catastrophic, fatal to any normal living thing, and yet to this monster it is little more than a brief inconvenience.

Katarina's teeth grind together in fury and frustration. Though the blades had cloven flesh and bone there was no music to accompany their efforts, no screams or cries of pain from the twisted creature. It hardly seemed to even care. Letting out an aggravated cry, the young woman pushed forward as if to subject the monster to the whirling blades yet again. She would carve it apart, rip it into tiny little pieces, grind it beneath her heels until it gives her what she wants - no, what she /needs/!

Her eyes widen as the creature hurls its shattered body at her in a frenzy of vengeful violence. She tries to adjust, throwing her hand up to close the iris of blades infront of her, but there isn't enough time. The monster hits her dead in the chest and it is she who lets out an involuntary shriek of pain as her very human body is savaged with relentless brutality. Each slash of its claws tears through cloth and skin leaving thin red welts of dark red in their wake and each crushing impact of elbow or knee smashes her thin form easily about.

She does not take this savage beating lying down, however. The muscles of her jaw clench tightly as the girl bites off her screams, a sudden look of determination in her crimson eyes. She draws back her hand as if to slash at Gear but it is the heavy metal-clad tip of her boot that comes crashing into him from below, aiming for the soft area of his crotch. Hopefully even monsters balk when they get a good kick in the jewels.

COMBATSYS: Styler blocks Katarina's Falsetto d'Aria.

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Styler           0/-------/-----==|=======\====---\1         Katarina

Such is the song and dance! Same old, same old, but such a joy it is. The gear enjoys the feeling of Katarina's body thumping and smashing off his claw, the taste of her skin as his tongue snaps back into his froggish mouth. He rubs the side of his face, a brief throe of ecstasy at the enjoyment of a fight threatens to literally tear him apart.

He has to move quickly. Almost lost in his euphoria before a shot comes for his crotch. He twists his hips, knees knock inward, human hand snapping downward. He makes a light, enticed grunt as he stops the majority of the painful kick from being even more terribly painful. Maybe some human instincts are still quite, quite there.

"Can you feel it, baby?" he asks Katarina, caressing her boot for a moment after stopping it, suckling on his own lip. "You're amazing." He skip steps back, moving like a near blur to stand atop a parked car.

"I spent so long wishing I could just die, and in a blink, I see why I am in this moment." He is a weapon. He can think for himself, and he can make humanity hurt. He can make them bitter and hateful and raw as he feels. He knows this. He's finding a joy in their torment and frustration.

He stands on that car like it was his own personal stage. He stretches and gyrates, sighing to himself as his body continues to stitch itself back together. The morphic nature of a gear masquerading as human beginning to pull itself together more and more, returning him closer to his 'normal' appearance. He flicks his hair back around his face and holds up his clawed hand toward Katarina. The cuts she's put in starting to reseal, the great lacerations left as strangely off colored scars, as though a toy repaired with bad plastic filling.

His 'come hither' beckoning comes with coy words. "If I break your wings, angel, can you still fly?"

COMBATSYS: Styler gains composure.

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Styler           0/-------/------=|=======\====---\1         Katarina

Katarina's face twists into open disgust as the creature's hand molests her foot. Even though the thick metal greaves prevent her from feeling his wretched touch, the suggestive expression on the thing's face is more than enough to make her feel sullied. She gives another kick at the Gear as it leaps away, more to satisify her own desire to dislodge it from her presence than any attempt to cause serious harm. Fortunately, it seems quite willing to part ways so that it may grand stand, thus giving her a moment to recover.

The officer rises to her feet, standing firmly upon the ground for the first time in the encounter. Unlike the Gear, her wounds do not seal and close, but continue to openly week thin rivulets of red that quickly blend into the black fabric of her ruined greatcoat leaving only the messy red lines visible where the claws have ripped it away. Katarina's discipline makes it easy for her to hide most of the discomfort, only the tight clenching of her teeth behind the concealing mask of her collar giving it away.

This is certainly not going as she'd planned. Every other creature that she has fought thus far, be they dark stalker or Gear, had shown some sort of reaction to being injured. This thing is maddeningly immune to pain or simply so far gone that it didn't even register. Whatever the case, there is no Music to be gained here and thus this entire venture is a waste of her time. That, more than anything, pisses her off.

Reaching up to press the tips of her index and middle fingers to the side of her head, a small blue glyph appears around the area where her ear is buried underneath the thick waterfall of snow-white hair, twin domes of interlocked magic forming the 'receiver' of a long range communication spell.

"This is Shimotsuki. I've located the target. Send squads from every sector of the blockade to my position in a unifed net. If it happens to get away from me, pin in it and finish it off."

Lowering her hand, the woman waves it through the air in an elaborate gesture and a fresh wave of the glowing magical swords flash into existence around her, hovering like angry bees in a scattered pattern rather than circling her protectively. Her hair flutters as the magical energies swirl about her body in an invisible torrent of power and her eyes narrow into hateful slits of quiet rage upon the undulating vile creature. She speaks again, her soft voice becoming a hiss of poisonous intent.

"We shall see who breaks who, beast."

Holding her hand aloft, Katarina takes command of all of all the floating swords at once. The weapons shudder with pleasure at their mistress' touch and the killing intent behind it, their lilting melodies growing into a more frantic intensity. Never taking her eyes off the damnable creature, she slowly lowers her arm and points at the Gear and each of the enchanted swords twists about in the air to aim their deadly sharp points at her target as if zeroing in the sights of a cannon.

The closing of her fingers into a tight fist is the catalyst that unleashes the silent promise of mayhem. One by one the swords explode into deadly motion, zipping in wide curving arcs to spear into the beast from every angle. A warbling ululation of joyful noise fills the air as each blade joins the assault, humming its own part of the refrain of death and destruction. They crash down upon the Gear and the car and the street all around him with energetic glee, detonating into bursts of violent sound and blinding light that shatters rock and metal with the ease of mortar shells. Again and again they fall unrelenting fury, each blade adding to the ripple of brilliant blossoms that fills the small area.


COMBATSYS: Katarina successfully hits Styler with Symphony of Destruction.

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Styler           0/-------/--=====|>>>----\-------\0         Katarina

Camera fitz and fizzle at the bright light flashing. Spy equipment shorting trying to compensate for the sudden explosion of light and debris. Elsewhere, Marz and her fellow Shadaloo agents close up their equipment. The girl adjusts her glasses and pockets her laptop into a knapsack that has been painstakingly dotted with the right collection of colorful Japanese cartoon mascots to make her college student outfit complete. Also, she does enjoy them. Frivolous as they are, they're set up in a Fibonacci spiral and that makes her feel good. Though today, she's gotten to see first hand the operative side of NOL officers and their approach to problem solving. Also, there's probably one less Gear on the streets. Shadaloo is not necessarily about criminality, Marz thinks, merely that strength is the way of the world and some people don't agree with Shadaloo's ideals on strength and control.

The force of the blades of light run roughshod over the Chinatown streets. Carts destroyed, pavement rent and torn, signs and metal twisted, bisected and sent strewn by the force of the NOL officer's symphony of light and death. The gear, standing on the car, throws his arms wide open to the oncoming onslaught. "Sing! Yes Sing for it!" he calls out, hearing that joyful noise. He has gotten her to sing in her own way. And he feels the love behind it. Even as everything comes together right on him.

He does try to avoid the terrible blades. To walk through them, to wind around them, but he's clipped, sliced, carved up. Chunks of wriggling flesh and detritus slap wetly on the ground as the gear moves forward. He staggers as a blade carves into his chest. For a moment pinned before he wrenches back up. And yet he doesn't cry out. He shows no sign of pain even as his body is torn about him. His claw is cleaved off, sent flying and flopping to the ground a distance away. He curls around another blade, having to pick himself up again. The dripping ichor patters the ground, a macabre beat to the song of the blade's.

And then when it clears. The destruction settles. The light fades just a bit. The car is gone, rendered more modern art than vehicle, as is much of the area. But the broken gear still stands, still stares, still licks its lips and eyes Katarina.

It's head flops to the side, mouth opens to an inhuman grin. "I see the writing on the wall," he says, shuddering. "I can't feel it, but it's happening. I just want you to know, baby, that you're my mercy." He inhales deeply. "Sing one more time for me"

He opens his wide mouth and up from his chest comes a piercing cry. A sonic wave of destruction that ripples the air as it turns out the creature can in fact sing. It sings loudly, it sings shrill. Not a sound of pain and terror, there's a rippling of lust and violence dancing and mingling. He's screaming a desire to the woman, but it's one that could very well bludgeon bone with its wavelength.

COMBATSYS: Katarina reflects Energy Flare from Styler with Requiem - Forte.

[                                < >  ///////////////               ]
Styler           1/-------/=======|>>-----\-------\0         Katarina

She unleashes her rage, the building edge of darkness that sullies her soul taking what little pleasure it can from the raw wanton destruction. There is nothing here that sings, nothing that bleats the sweet pitiful cries of pain and agony that she craves. Only cold unfeeling stone and metal and the empty shell of a man.

Katarina's hand slowly lowers as the last of the blades expends itself upon the monster. She can see even as it stumbles and staggers towards her in pointless defiance that her attack has broken it. It is dying, even if it does not yet realize it, and she is more than happy to put that final nail into its coffin.

The creature speaks to her through a shattered face and its voice is even more hideous and distorted than before, a vile insult to the delicate sensibility of her noble ears. Still, she tolerates it, allowing the creature to spew its final words, as pointless and deranged as they may be. Her glare softens into a mere scowl but she has to fight not to spit on the ground at the very idea that something as foul as its own existence might be granted mercy through any conscious act of her own. If the freedom of death is what he seeks, then their goals merely happen to align, and she takes no pleasure in knowing that the once human soul within may perhaps now find peace.

As the beast's maw gapes wide, Katarina casually lifts her empty hand and places her palm flat against the air infront of her as if she might deny the beast whatever final satisfaction it seeks with a mere gesture. The shrill blast of sonic energy erupts in a cone of ruinous noise that might have made any other person flinch and try to cover their ears from its sheer intensity. The girl simply waits as the shattering blast of sound ripples across the street until at the last moment a field of shimmering blue light manifests infront of her.

The sonic wave hits the wall of energy and simply stops. As if it were a solid thing to be manipulated and molded to her desires, Katarina closes her fingers and the distorted air of the attack crunches inwards into a tight beachball sized blob. She stares into the monster's mutated face with a look of utter detachment, no longer having even the desire to acknowledge it as a sentient thing any longer. With a simple push of her palm, the glyph explodes and the wad of sonic energy is hurled back into the Gear's body like a cannonball, detonating in a massive blast of scintillating light.

The Gear ripples.

The Gear pops.

Sticky sweet ichor, like gel syrup, falls to the ground mixed with blood, flesh and arcane machine parts that went into keeping the mixture of humanity and arcana going. Reduced to a fine muck by the force of the blast simply reflected back at him by a mistress of sound. The gear was no more than clean up now. Spots of stain decorating a street.

However, the signs of his presence linger. The destroyed carts and cars. The damaged Chinatown streets. Katarina brought a heavy firepower to bear on the beast and the signs of that firepower are now pockmarking the streets and storefronts of Chinatown. A victory is a victory, however. And without Katarina's timely insistence on bringing total destructive firepower to the scene, there is no telling just how far the beast of a man would've gotten before his rampage stopped.

But now, as the ringing can stop and the carnage can fade to memory, an overwhelming quiet fills the air. The people are gone. The observers have left. The gear is here, there, and everywhere. Before the NOL rank and file arrive there is a moment of pristine quiet to reflect an feel what has happened in the moment.

And perhaps to wonder just what else the Gear, reduced to mush, just might be able to piece himself together from.

COMBATSYS: Styler takes no action.

[               \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Katarina         0/-------/-----<<|

COMBATSYS: Styler can no longer fight.

[               \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Katarina         0/-------/-----<<|

"Target eliminated."

The words are spoken into the magical receiver as Katarina turns away from the ruined mess that used to be the gear. The damage to the city is minimal. A lost car and some pavement that needs to be replaced, a cheap price to pay for the sort of damage that a Gear could have unleashed if allowed to roam free. The NOL had acted quickly enough that the casualties were minimal, atleast the ones directly caused by the monster. Those wounded or slain in the wild panic are hardly something that could have been prevented by action on their part and she doesn't feel particularly upset about the loss of a few dozen civilians to their own sheep-like stupidity. In the end, the NOL would come out looking like heroes and she'd probably get another commendation.

In the empty silence of the aftermath, Katarina finally allows her discipline to waiver as she waits for the arrival of the advance teams she had called in. She sinks against the wall of a nearby building, closing her eyes tightly as the pain of her injuries becomes the only thing for her left to dwell on. In the heat of battle, adrenaline and focus tended to dull such things, but now she is left with the dull throbbing of a dozen deep slashes and cuts from the fiend's brutal mauling.

In some ways, the injuries would make her look more heroic. Probably good for a day or two of rest. A common soldier might celebrate that opportunity; she has far too much work left to do.

Elsewhere, a woman with lavender hair sits down in a coffee shop. She pushes her glasses up her nose and leans over her laptop while a coffee cools and a café cake sits beside her. She looks over readouts and graphs. Charts and numbers flashing up on her laptop screen. A photograph appearing, a few pictures of the NOL officer in question. A data search for the curious outfit, to find matching records in available information. A trove of data retrieved detailing some capability in the presence of ranked professionals among the NOL. Plenty to catalogue and to organize to ship off back to headquarters.

Marz sips her coffee and takes up the cake. With a tiny fork she cuts off some of the oversweet strawberry topping and reads her data printouts. She smiles. This has been a terrifically successful initial operation. The plate is put down and she taps out a few commands. The files are compressed into a file, encrypted inside an image file packet so that the "student" can send off pictures of her trip to Japan back to her family.

After she closes the data program, she shuts down her operative user file to bring up her casual use access. She takes her coffee in her hands and smiles as she queues up several social media feeds to read the chatter coming out of South Town about the Gear sighting and the brave NOL soldiers that swept in to take the killer down. Along with news feeds, Marz contentedly has plenty of information to glean and engineer the complex moves that Shadaloo will most certainly take in outmaneuvering this latest threat.

Log created on 12:05:09 01/13/2018 by Marz, and last modified on 19:07:04 01/13/2018.