Description: In the Golden Angel Gift Shop, KRIZALID takes to the stage in a surprise replacement of Dr. Faust, who wandered through the wrong door, to battle the mysterious SHR1KE. Thankfully, there are absolutely no ulterior motives here and what occurs is merely an epic battle which causes a hilarious amount of property destruction! Of course, you follow Sally Swagger's twitter feed so you know all this already!
There had been a fair amount of concern about Shr1ke's entry into the Golden Angel tournament. For a start, whispered the tournament organisers, were they a man or a woman? Either way, they weren't exactly going to fit with the family-friendly image here, were they? Just look at it. It was like the worst excesses of the 90s fighting scene made manifest!
But at the same time, none of them wanted to tell the thing that it couldn't participate. Somehow, it didn't feel like that would go very well for them. And then word had come down from higher up the chain; they were to try and make sure that Shr1ke felt comfortable and very definitely took part in the competition.
For her part, Shr1ke stands and stares into the full-length mirror provided in the gift shop for just this purpose.
The Golden Angel bikini has flowed perfectly underneath the blades which cover most of her form, and the result is that suddenly, she looks a lot more... human. The dark bodysuit ordinarily hides her curves, rendering everything that isn't metal in darkness and shadow.
Now, a blotchy arrangement of tie-dye material hugs her chest and her hips, painting her in bright blues and greens with pink bursting through; an explosion of brilliant colour, a riot of glorious neon shades held in place with daring pink little twists of material.
Shr1ke knew more about the way this thing worked than most participants. She had earned her knowledge by defeating that strange, murderous 'tournament official'. If they even were a tournament official. No other attempt had been made on her life since, and the fight had come down as expected. She'd considered backing out, but she was glad that she hadn't, now. This confirmed two things.
First, that her strategy of engaging in fighting tournaments to uncover the truth of her origins was definitely viable.
Second, that she had a soul.
And it was beautiful.
She was excited to see what Doctor Faust's soul looked like in turn!
Not, that most would be able to tell that she was excited. The tall figure, bristling with blades, had just been standing and staring into the mirror for ten full minutes at this point. One of the tournament officials nudges the other.
"Do you think we should offer it something to drink whilst it waits?"
His colleague shakes his head.
"I don't think so, Chet. That thing gives me the heebie jeebies."
The darkened laboratory is pervaded by the faint whispers of Bunson burners and the burbling contents of phials. What little light reaches this secret place diffracts obscuringly through countless curves of glass, spheres and bottles brimming with fluid in varying stages of viscosity. Stepping into the room, one would think that science were being conducted in a hall of mirrors. The silence is as delicate as the worrisome apparatus.
And it -- the silence, that is -- is shattered when Krizalid slams his palms on the worktable before him.
"I don't have time for this!!"
Sweat is beading at his brow as he dizzily regards the two documents before him. One, a complex account of the results of extensive chemistry experiments. The other, a single forbidding letter. It is not addressed to him. Yet it has come into his possession.
"Lord Igniz, why? Does he know? Has he known all along that--"
Krizalid's eyes dart about neurotically as he continues to mutter to himself alone in his lair.
"Of course I want to prove the power of our technology to the world. But if I don't stay to manage *this*, they'll find out that I-- I just have to end it, I have to end all of this now, or-- no, but if I don't acquire any *data*, they'll realize it was all a--"
Krizalid flinches as light abruptly floods the room, sending the phials to glinting. He turns his head, snarling like a cornered animal. "Benedict, is that you!? I *told* you not to disturb me when I'm--"
"I'm so sorry, sir," says the researcher, entering hurriedly through the opened door, looking almost as stressed as Krizalid, "but the matter is urgent. It's Sally. She's-- she's been injured."
Krizalid's hangdog look fades immediately. He rises to his feet with a resolve, even dignity, utterly absent mere moments prior. In that swift transition can be seen the gap between Krizalid, the loyal and cringing subordinate, and Krizalid, the supervisor of cherished subordinates. His features stern, he turns fully, eyes glinting.
"Who the hell is *Sally*!?"
"Well, well. She's playing person."
Krizalid's low voice carries its own smirk, announcing him as he approaches from the direction of the changing room. The dark-tanned man's body is unusually exposed, his purple speedo taking the place of coat or bodysuit. Those who are aware of NESTS's inner workings would know, then, that the man has knowingly cast aside his true strength for this encounter. But there are few if any of those present.
Here, there is only Chet.
"Uh, excuse me, bro-- I mean, sir, but the, uh, lady's challenger is Dr. Faust, so if you could stay by the--"
One look from Krizalid is all it takes. That and Chet's more knowledgeable colleague pulling him back with one hand upon his shoulder, shaking head rapidly.
"Tell them that Faust stepped through the wrong little door," Krizalid idly replies before continuing his slow walk toward Shr1ke.
Coincidentally, that will later turn out to be actually true.
"What a pitiable pantomime of humanity," Krizalid remarks to Shr1ke without much pity in his voice. "Instead of rising above the limits of the species, you are reduced to aping them. But you could have found meaning in becoming scrap for our future endeavors. Instead, you will gesture futilely in the direction of autonomy, wondering as your days dwindle why you have never attained to anything of significance."
He is sneering contemptuously, but there is a hint of real anger in his eyes, one that suggests he is not altogether above his opponent: Shr1ke has done something that Krizalid has taken personally.
"But you may serve us still. Be honored that I have come to punish you in person for your slight against us -- and to wrest some data from your broken body."
For a moment, it seems that Shr1ke did not hear the man and his contempt for her. She continues to look into the mirror, and then - smoothly as though she were on a pivot - she swivels in place. Her entire body rotates to turn her in the direction of the man addressing her. Those burning red eyes of her take him in, not allowing a single aspect of his appearance to evade her notice. She had heard every word, and the excitement of facing the unknown quantity that is Dr. Faust is replaced, immediately, with a thrill of - what? Is it fear? Anxiety? Excitement?
The blades which cover Shr1ke's body suddenly project outwards, locking into place as she wills herself into active fighting mode. The sharp 'snkt' of extending blades are the perfect counterpoint to those last words. With the tie-dye addition beneath all those blades, she might have risked looking soft. All at once, the razor edges are restored.
She has no idea that her opponent is foregoing his augmented suit. She *CAN'T*. That's part of the curse.
"You are here to punish me?"
The words are a harsh rasp; a distorted echo inside a steel tube, as her arms spread wide, her talons curling ever-so-slightly into the floor. She doesn't make the first move, more intent on saying her piece, and wary for what this sudden assailant might represent. She hadn't been expecting them to do anything so blatant in front of the cameras, but now it is here... the fear is fading quickly.
"Very well." She promises, "In front of all these people, I will cut the truth from you."
The onlookers are somewhat befuddled, to be sure, but no one recognizes Krizalid at a glance, and the reasonable assumption is that a tournament substitution has been made. Krizalid's speech then reads as a particularly obscure and long-winded taunt. Besides, he's wearing a swimsuit, so he has to be involved somehow.
"How little you understand. Very well."
Krizalid, still smirking, spreads his bare feet and shifts his weight slightly, his shock of white hair shifting in the still air.
"This is for Whip."
"Or ... Sally, or ... whatever."
A bulbous mascot character, a human-sized bipedal hippo wearing a bikini, stumbles by in the background.
Krizalid erupts from the ground, blazing past display cases and shelves of stuffed toys, to swiftly close the distance between himself and his opponent and smash his bare fist into the network of blades that make up Shr1ke torso. He seems to have no concern whatsoever for their cutting edges and indeed, the power of his strike threatens to snap those that get in his way.
COMBATSYS: Krizalid has started a fight here.
COMBATSYS: Shr1ke has joined the fight here.
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Krizalid 0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0 Shr1ke
COMBATSYS: Shr1ke dodges Krizalid's Fierce Punch.
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Krizalid 0/-------/---====|-------\-------\0 Shr1ke
The rasp barely has time to issue from her before the man is upon her, threatening to drive the air from her lungs. It is a common error made by novice fighters to be intimidated by the monstrous appearance of Shr1ke; in truth, the blades are little defense against a fighter who had any chance of defending themselves against her... and for those who didn't, well, cutting themselves when they attack her would be the least of their concern.
But the tall creature is shockingly fast, as Krizalid discovers!
His blow comes forwards with blinding speed, and in an instant, Shr1ke twists to the side. The blades projecting from her back slash through bottles of sun-tan oil, but she isn't really paying attention to that. More concerning is the fact that he is already in her guard, and threatening more.
"Tell me who you are."
It is not a request. Shr1ke's bass growl of a demand comes with both arms reaching out, aiming to grab the man by the back and haul him in against her, press him forcefully into those projecting blades he had attempted to punch through just moments before. More importantly, to position him so that those burning red eyes can stare, unblinking, into his own.
COMBATSYS: Shr1ke successfully hits Krizalid with Spiked Reverie.
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Krizalid 0/-------/-======|=------\-------\0 Shr1ke
Krizalid was overconfident and angry. Now, as his fist passes harmlessly through the air, he is less overconfident and angrier.
Seized by his stoic adversary, blades beginning to pierce his flesh as he is drawn in, Krizalid lashes out with his other powerful arm, attempting to brace himself against being drawn in further by positioning his hand near Shr1ke's throat.
"How endearing," he snarls, showing little awareness of the shallow wounds now scattered about his chest. "You wish to know who I am. As though there were aught you might do with information. I am--"
His smirk creeps back.
"--a humble follower of your god."
By this point, Krizalid has regained his footing. Should his opponent not realize that his weight has shifted, she might not be able to escape before his grip tightens and, rotating his body fully, he will hurl her behind him into a gift display and slam her into the ground with cratering force, shredding stuffed hippos horrifically, cotton streaming from severed limbs. A single child will begin to cry.
COMBATSYS: Shr1ke blocks Krizalid's Dead Fall.
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Krizalid 0/-------/=======|====---\-------\0 Shr1ke
Beep. Beep. Beep! Beep!
Whip flails wildly as her iCone detonates, keenly aware of where she is and that NESTS' latest tragedy of an automated personal organiser could cost her a whole lot of bother and unnecessary violence. Unfortunately, when you're half-cut it's a little tricky to grasp onto nine smooth, rounded inches, located halfway across the room. The irritating robovoice is chirping away before she can stop it.
"AgENt dESigNatIOn SalLy, gO TiME: mEntIOned By aGEnt KrIZAl--"
There's an abrupt bang and the television explodes as Whip hurls the device clean through its screen, turning to face her astounded 'guest' as she busily runs her hands through bottle-blonde locks and resumes pulling her clothes back on.
"LOL!" Exclaims not Whip, but the inimitable Sally Swagger - who unironically speaks that way - slipping on her pink plastic star-shaped shades, "I'm so fudgin' clumsy, I don't know how you put up with me!!" Grinning ear to slutty ear, she pops another piece of gum in her mouth for good measure, then blows a bubble. Except, as this is the SECOND piece of gum, she in fact blows a mutated double-bubble.
"Well, babe, with a rack like that, why don't YOU tell ME how I put up with you, huh?"
Whip wrinkles her nose in distaste, the double-bubble bursting and hanging limply from between her painted lips. Sometimes, she reflects, the costs of the mission really aren't worthwhile. Deep in the wreckage of the hotel's television set, the iCone goes off again. Shit. Motive means opportunity.
A few moments later, a six-foot tall jock is sticking out of the TV's thoroughly busted screen, groaning and possibly on fire.
Meanwhile, Sally Swagger is sashay-striding gamely through the Golden Angel waterpark, ignoring the snapping lenses and parasitic cries for attention as she slips the endlessly-bothersome iCone down the collar of her 'Angels Gone Wild' shirt and totters and pushes herself to speed the hell up; tottering as briskly as she can on six-inch heels toward the fated arena and the conflict just now beginning to unfold.
She arrives, a little sweaty and a lot flustered, in time to watch one familiar form locked in embrace with another.
This is quite concerning. Perhaps the iCone is worth something after all.
"Hey! Holy shit! You're Sally Swagger, right? That dude just mentioned you!! HEY EVERYBODY--"
Sally lifts a hand bedecked with multicoloured jelly rings and backhands her over-eager fanboy, jumping up to take his place on the audience podium, affording herself a much better view than she was getting peeking over greasy-haired heads and pumping fists.
"It really is not my week," grumbles the Swag One, folding her arms across her chest and hoping nobody else notices her.
Shr1ke realises that Krizalid is shifting his weight... the question is, what can she do about it? His grip tightens, and muscles bunch beneath all those blades and strange, covering material. She pits her strength against his own, and there is obvious strain in that death-rattle voice as she says, in a voice as cold and chill as the grave.
"I have no God."
The throw has her lifting from the ground, and her body still shreds that unfortunate display, eviscerating children's playthings without mercy. Her arms manage to hit the floor first, but the shock of the impact still sends pain surging through her body. Blades are twisted and ruined by the impact, cutting deep into her own skin by the unfortunate angle of her impact. Blood wells from the wounds.
Her blood, some in the crowd are interested to note, is as red as anybody else's.
For the moment, though, Sally Swagger escapes Shr1ke's usually keen-eyed notice. She is in too much pain. Even though she managed to divert the force of that blow for the most part, it was a terrifying confirmation of the power of this individual. Still. She has not missed the implications in this man's words.
And as she explodes upwards, the long blade on her forearm twisting around to lead the way, her voice maintains that icy chill.
"Cease your riddles. Speak plainly, or I will cut out your tongue."
Wow. Aetheism AND threats of mutilation?! That's a bit dark for the primetime audience! Shr1ke is clearly the bad guy here. Some in the crowd start to boo.
COMBATSYS: Shr1ke successfully hits Krizalid with Power Strike.
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Krizalid 1/------=/=======|====---\-------\0 Shr1ke
Confident again as the sharp-edged woman is hurled to the ground, Krizalid sneers as he reaches out to catch the blade as it stabs his way. But he underestimates the force and the fury of Shr1ke's assault.
He cannot restrain a yelp of pain as the blade spears through his palm, a not particularly family-friendly wound that nevertheless could have been a lot worse. Krizalid is still gritting his teeth in a rictus grin and trying vaguely to pretend like he meant to do that. But there's a brand new hint of panic in the back of his eyes. Not that he will be defeated; that is unimaginable. But that he will not win gloriously enough to satisfy his masters.
Quick, some sort of distraction.
"Sally! Sally!!" Krizalid calls to Whip as she makes her glorious entrance. What the hell kind of cover is this? Wait, this is his fault, isn't it. Yes, it almost definitely is. OK. "I've come to redeem your honor--" Aheh. "--against this foul, heretical fiend! Fear not! For I'm-- uh-- I'm alright! So you, uh-- you just sit tight!"
Multiple times a day, Krizalid thinks to himself, 'How did this happen?' And then he remembers, and silently he goes, 'Oh.' And continues on.
Thus the heroic (?) Krizalid, keeping Shr1ke momentarily at bay, thrusts out his unspeared hand, which begins to glow with an unsettling violet light. "All I have to say to you--" Except for all that monologuing. "--is that this is for Sally!"
And a supercharged blast of energy emitted from Krizalid's palm is aimed to catch Shr1ke full-force and send her flying in the general direction of the checkout counter.
COMBATSYS: Krizalid successfully hits Shr1ke with Negative Anguish.
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Krizalid 1/----===/=======|=======\==-----\1 Shr1ke
Shr1ke's head swivels in the direction of 'Sally Swagger' --
And then she is flying through the air, body seared with brilliant energy. The blast hits her full on, and she crushes through the counter, blades tearing up the cheap fibreboard which makes up the construction. For a moment, she is obscured in a cloud of debris as she tears herself loose, only those brilliant red eyes of hers glaring out through the sawdust and chipboard; a horrified shop attendent left wondering if he was only alive, now, in this moment, because Krizalid couldn't quite summon enough power to drive her through him as well.
At least one person today is finding religion as a result of this fight.
One heavy footstep forward, and she bristles. Every blade on her suddenly vibrates, throwing off the dust to show every gleaming, razor-sharp surface. She has not done this before, but she can feel those killing instincts in her now; that unbridled desire to kill, to end this man and his prattling, nonsensical, mockery.
"I do not cling to humanity. I know that I am not human. You want to see what I am capable of? Very well. It. Shall. Be. Done."
She punches her arm forwards, then, and the bent and twisted blades from his earlier assault suddenly burst from her arm, a trio of buzzing knives aiming to slice into his front--
And then, the monster is not THERE any more. Her speed is impossible; her footsteps noiseless as she rushes atop the shelving units, leaving them to topple in her wake as she comes down from above, arms spread wide as she aims to - quite literally - pin the white-haired man to the floor beneath her, furnace-hot breath washing out over his face.
COMBATSYS: Shr1ke blitzes into action and acts again!
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Krizalid 1/----===/=======|=======\=------\1 Shr1ke
Anybody examining the infrastructure of NESTS would be hard-pressed not to use words almost, suspiciously, exactly like 'dysfunctional' and 'family'. Sometimes Whip wouldn't change this fact for the world - her brothers, sisters, and surrogates providing a bounty of pleasure, good humour and moral support in times of strife that are, most certainly, generated in no part by the inherent evil of the organization. At other times, there's Krizalid. In fact, it's somewhat astonishing quite how there are any other times at all, given how ubiquitous the feather-bedecked madman is.
But... I mean, he's still /family/... right?
At the mummery unfolding before her, the groan the undercover agent emits begins somewhere in the very makeup of her DNA and ends with staggering weight at the tip of her outwardly-curling lower lip, her head falling back as she directs doe-brown eyes to the heavens and asks herself why. Why what? Why anything, really. These moments of damning self-reflection are becoming increasingly troublesome for the young assassinista, her own failures like as to nothing before the staggering weight of fool's doubt heaped upon her shoulders by other people. The encounter with Shr1ke had already shaken her, a frantic database search back at headquarters doing nothing to assuage her nagging suspicion that she was missing something critical.
What's unfolding now all but confirms it, doesn't it? Or is Krizalid simply being Krizalid? After all, K9999 isn't such a bad apple that he didn't sprout from the same misguided orchard. Not that any of this introspection solves a damn thing. It certainly doesn't solve this:
"W-Woah, bro, Sally effin' Swagger!"
"Hahaha, is she dating that guy? Are you kidding me?"
"I guess ANYONE can get a piece of that, hey bro!?"
F, as the kids continue to say, ML.
"Um, excuse me?" Whip finds Sally incredulously spouting, her marriage to The Mission all too binding. Jelly-ringed hands plant themselves firmly on the shoulders of a high-school quarterback, and the Swag One is suddenly out of the audience and into the action. Curling a perfect forward somersault that sees her land in a deft, ready three-point crouch, palm crashing to the floor with enough gumption to leave a sizable dent, the Angel Gone Wild is slow to rise, allowing her hands to find her hips as she continues to raise her voice above the din of battle and roar of the crowd. Gosh, it's almost like she's attempting to divert attention from the Very Serious Conversation Shr1ke and her direct superior are having, isn't it?
"Beyotch, I do NOT need you to look after me! The Swag One fights her own fudgin' battles! KICK HIS ASS, ULTRA-HIPPY!!!"
Throwing her fist in the air, 'Sally' drags the audience - comprised about 50% of her Twitter followers - into a chant, goading on the metal monster:
"UL-TRA HIP-PY!" *clap clap clap-clap-clap* "UL-TRA HIP-PY!"
"Fudge yeah! LOL! You were rubbish in bed anyway, yo!"
COMBATSYS: Shr1ke successfully hits Krizalid with Barbed Nightmare EX.
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Krizalid 1/---====/=======|=======\==-----\1 Shr1ke
COMBATSYS: Krizalid blocks Shr1ke's Serrated Wraith.
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Krizalid 1/--=====/=======|=======\===----\1 Shr1ke
Krizalid flexes his injured hand as he half-smirks, half-grimaces in the direction of Shr1ke's fallen form. But his attention is imprudently pulled away from his evidently formidable foe by the shenanigans occurring on the sidelines. Ironically, Krizalid has no involved agenda for suppressing the blade-strewn reject. He does not intend to destroy her: she is no true threat to the organization and, so long as she is suitably punished for her transgression to strike fear into the hearts of anyone else who would dare stand against NESTS, her continued existence may intrigue some researchers and serve to gather useful data. He is, in fact, only here because he cares about Whip.
Or ... Sally. Seriously? Who came up with this concept?
"You're *so* right, Snooki!" Krizalid laughs, slapping his knee as he lounges next to realistic representations of the cast of Jersey Shore. "I'll *totally* have her do that. Ha ha ha!"
Well, it's pretty convincing, at least.
"Eh?" Krizalid is a higher-up in the organization, but he is not, if you cannot already tell, a secret agent of any sort, and he does not do a particularly good job of hiding his emotions. "Ehhh?" When Sally begins to lead a chant against him, he looks genuinely crestfallen, unaware that his facial expression is already being tweeted and that SadKriz will be a trending meme in about forty-seven seconds. "But I--"
Genetically enhanced reflexes spare him as Shr1ke hurls a blade: his head snaps to the side, the knife slicing a line across his cheek. His puppy eyes are instantly gone, rage flashing and lips curling. Attentive now, he is not caught off guard again. He thrusts up his wounded palm to catch Shr1ke as she falls. The floor beneath Krizalid's bare feet cracks from the weight, yet his mighty body does not falter. He shows no concern for his own injury: indeed, he has expertly caught her by allowing another blade to pass directly through the gaping hole where his hand was previously pierced.
"Was that it?"
Without waiting another moment, Krizalid shoves Shr1ke upward, potentially leaving her suspended in midair for just a moment. A moment is all he needs to swing his leg about in a blazingly fast circular axe kick that, if it impacts, will send Shr1ke in the direction of a rack of bikinis, in case she needed any more. Nothing in this gift shop will be spared.
COMBATSYS: Krizalid successfully hits Shr1ke with False God Advent EX.
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Krizalid 1/--=====/=======|=======\=======\1 Shr1ke
It is perhaps the most human that Shr1ke has sounded on camera to date. The woman's shock is evident as she is simply caught to hang in the air. The creature attempts to twist in mid-air, but it is impossible. Even with her enhanced reflexes, the axe-kick catches her full on, and she is bounced off the ground, crashing through a railing full of skimpy clothing which winds up shredded and hanging limply from her.
"That woman... is a menace..."
The kick has torn away a portion of those blades across her left flank, revealing dark, dusky skin beneath. Already, the black material is struggling to reform itself; no doubt she will be covered again momentarily, but the woman's hiss is the strangest part. Her words are far easier on the ear, now. Her voice lightly accented, but definitely feminine; if the tie-dye bikini wasn't enough of a hint.
"YOU. Are a menace."
The creature begins to vibrate again, seeming to blur on the spot as she summons up deeper reserves of power. This was pushing her too far. She could feel her limit on the horizon; but she wasn't there yet, and she wouldn't allow this man to get away without giving her the answers she sought. Or putting her down. One, or the other, would be acceptable.
"Confess. Tell them the true purpose of this tournament. Tell them about the mirror of the soul!"
Her words are short, clipped, sharp. Each one echoes with the backing vibration of her exertion. She could not keep this up for long...
But as she tears herself forwards, lunging with her bladed knee leading the way, she is determined for it to be long enough; moving already to twist around his guard before he can adjust, and SLAM her bladed forehead against his own!
COMBATSYS: Krizalid endures Shr1ke's Crushing Strike.
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Krizalid 2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|=======\=======\1 Shr1ke
Was it foolish to come here and fight without his coat and battlesuit and their attendant enhancements and protections? Is Krizalid nothing but a reject himself without the resources and technology of NESTS behind him? Is he no better than this stray flotsom scatterd by the tides of time?
Krizalid's smirk vanishes at Shr1ke's words. He does not know what this failure has inferred, and he does not intend to let alone find out. That resolve causes his features to take on a heretofore unseen grim seriousness, as the cruel rage within his eyes brightens and intensifies.
As Shr1ke rushes in with her last-ditch effort, Krizalid is rushing to meet her with a reckless fury. He meets her headbutt with his own, their faces clashing furiously, her blades snapping to fling into the air as they gouge his forehead and scalp, blood rushing to stain the white of his hair and the dusky tan of his cheeks. And his glare is ominous indeed.
His leg raises.
His hip rotates.
And at this close range, rearing back from where their faces have collided, Krizalid unleashes another rotating axe kick, this time one to plant Shr1ke directly beneath him, crushing her underfoot. Blood streams from countless wounds, but his eyes are wide and his gaze is clear, unrelenting, enraged, and merciless.
COMBATSYS: Krizalid successfully hits Shr1ke with Demon Landing.
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Krizalid 2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2 Shr1ke
It seems they're all being bitten a little deep; and not all by the shredding blades of Shr1ke...
Is what she is? A year or two ago, Whip would have laughed it off without an effort, and a large - dominant - part of her absolutely still wants to, but as she stands on the sidelines playing the role of a truly terrible, remorseless woman, she'd be a fool herself if she didn't at least wonder. Before her, the full fury of both competitors emerges - and beyond the mummery, she has to acknowledge there is so very much more at work. The relationship between Shr1ke and NESTS, the defensive fury of Krizalid, the sheer power that both have exhibited to her.
A twisted, convoluted web of means and motivations. A weaker woman couldn't bear it. Whip doesn't know much about who is, truly, or where she's come from; but she knows one thing. She is NOT weak. She's no weaker than the two before her, perhaps atronger than at least one of them. In her heart, in her soul, she believes it... it's what keeps her going, keeps her faithful. Keeps her certain.
Sally Swagger's arm snaps out, a palm upheld, silencing the chanting crowd.
The gift shop is suddenly a very eerie place to be, monsters seething, bones crunching...
And silent, staring eyes looking on with rapt attention.
...it slightly kills the moment when half a dozen cellphone notifications go off at once.
To think that a creature such as Shr1ke could SCREAM. The wail of anguish from the monstrous woman is horror incarnate; a gut-wrenching bellow of pain, the sound of a bear caught in a trap, blades suddenly forced inwards against her own stomach. Blood spurts from the wound, and for a moment the cold, calculating machine-like intelligence is caught in mindless pain. Somehow, twisting, arching beneath Krizalid's foot, one of those lenses shatters, exposing a bloodshot, all-too-human eye beneath.
And then, unbelievably, she is standing. Rising. Forcing the white-haired Elite warrior backwards, so that she can crouch on the floor, a great cough of pain wracking her body as broken ribs tell her to just, stay down. All sense, all reason, tells her that she has lost this fight.
There is no shame in defeat. She has lost every professional fight she has ever entered. This is her place. This is where she belongs.
She has always fought down these urges before, she has always resisted becoming what those vague, pain-filled memories told her she was designed to be. She was made to kill; to engage fighters and rend them into dozens of pieces. She has not wanted to be that. But, crouched on the floor, head bowed, chest caved in a decidedly *unhealthy* direction, Shr1ke gives Krizalid exactly what he asks for.
She ceases fighting her instincts, and demonstrates her place.
"I am the Butcher Bird."
Her head snaps up, blood glistening on the blades surrounding her face; a serial-killer's deranged nightmare made manifest.
"I shall bleed you on my thorns."
And every muscle in her body works in concert as she erupts from the ground. This is not a desperate lunge any more; this is a perfectly-calculated assault, her movements disturbingly graceful as she aims to ram the 'beak' of those blades into the stomach of her adversary--
And such is only the beginning. There are dozens of blades studding the body of the 'failed' experimental project, and each one has a corresponding point on Krizalid's form. In the space of a single heartbeat, she aims to ram each and every one home, to pin him in place through sheer, blinding speed of impact, until she is left standing behind him - supporting him from the blades on her back, to make good on her threat.
COMBATSYS: Krizalid blocks Shr1ke's The Butcher Bird.
[ \\\\\\\\\ < > ////// ]
Krizalid 2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|>>>>---\-------\0 Shr1ke
"Heh... heh heh."
Krizalid had come to avenge his subordinate. Perhaps none know his heart, but the truth is that what brought him here was loyalty and a real, if twisted, concern. But when he stands with his foot upon a defeated foe, that purpose seems gone as though it had never been. Sadism and vanity reign supreme. Naked ambition rules this man's heart: to be the best, the strongest, the absolute perfect specimen for NESTS's, and to know his own worth absolutely. Yes: he wants, more than anything else, to know his place.
That concern, it was real. But it loses to his hatred. Every time.
That's why he doesn't understand.
Krizalid roars in agony as well as somehow, improbably, Shr1ke stands to fight. His enhanced reflexes are sufficient to cover his abdomen, leaving his arms to be sliced to ribbons. He twists to protect himself and she practically rolls along him, piercing dangerously close to vital organs. Krizalid manages to stumble away from the aftermath of Shr1ke's expert assault, but he is a veritable pincushion now, his wounds before paling to his appearance now. The audience can only stare in rapt horror.
If he had just worn his battlesuit, he--
Banishing that thought from his mind, refusing to acknowledge the recklessness of his challenging this foe here, like this, without full access to his powers, bloodied face painted with fury and a resentment bordering on despair, he reaches out in a blind fury for the closest weapon to hand, anything to slam into Shr1ke's back, to drive her to the ground one last time, to crush her absolutely and remove the stain of his carelessness.
"Raaaaarrrghh!" he screams.
"Aaaaaahhhh!" screams the mascot in his grasp.
Krizalid's complex expression fades to blank bafflement.
It's too late. Krizalid is already swinging Goldie the Hippo, which is to say whatever poor person had to dress up in a sexy hippo suit today, full-force and bodily at Shr1ke's head like a human-sized club.
This may constitute a hostile work environment.
COMBATSYS: Krizalid successfully hits Shr1ke with Random Weapon EX.
[ \\\\\\\\\\ < > ]
Krizalid 2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|>>>>>>>\-------\1 Shr1ke
The scream of the poor soul, being paid minimum wage to be used as an impromptu weapon, snaps Shr1ke out of her killing frenzy. She can't-- she can't let that person suffer for her sake. She tries to leap upwards, over the swung mascot, and even as she does, the blades on her body retract as much as possible. It, hurts, to do this - to draw the blades into herself is a level of discomfort it is difficult to bear even outside of a fighting scenario.
Perhaps that is why she misjudges her leap, and the mascot smashes into her, sending both forms tumbling into the ground. Regardless, it means that the poor soul inside is not skewered for Krizalid's wounded pride.
She wants this to end so badly, but she does not want to let him go. She has no answers. She knows only that this tournament, the powers behind it, and the powers that released her into this world - they are all connected, somehow. She can't, let it end, like this!
"Final release authorised." She says, her tone dead, as flat as the inflatable pool toy now stuck to her back after her tumble. "Energy levels at minimum. Terminal shift engaged. Tactical withdrawal authorised. Assistance requested."
Somewhere, in a dusty corner of a NESTS laboratory, the last working fax machine in the organisation buzzes into life with her position neatly recorded.
And with that, the vibrating woman flickers as she dances towards the man. It is a desperate assault - a last ditch effort as she blurs towards him.
For one moment, there are clearly two Shr1kes - one aiming to drive a bladed fist into his stomach, the other into the base of his spine...
But whether they are successful in their assault or not, they resolve themselves into a third, laying face-down to Krizalid's side, the blood-red light finally gone out in that one remaining lens.
COMBATSYS: Shr1ke can no longer fight.
[ \\\\\\\\\\ <
COMBATSYS: Shr1ke successfully hits Krizalid with Perpetual Duality Engine.
[ \\\\\\\ <
Krizalid doesn't have much in the way of empathy. But he does wince a little at the terrible howls of the mascot he has used as a bludgeon. As Shr1ke lays felled upon the ground, Krizalid watches as Goldie the Hippo, wailing like a banshee, lurches to her feet, suit punctured and deflating, the blood of whoever is wearing it seeping slowly through the holes. Crimson trickles out of one of Goldie's eyes, one of many shallow cuts spotting the mascot's bikini-clad form as she shambles away, children screaming and fleeing from its nightmarish visage.
"I wonder," he murmurs, "if this is bad for the brand."
He should be wondering if Golden Angel offers worker's comp.
No, wait: he should be paying attention. Shr1ke is muttering something to herself. Krizalid squints back in her direction, at once reminded of the pain of his own many wounds. He twists out another smirk. "What's that? Begging for mercy? You don't think it's a little late for that? Well, I'm told you do have something of a ... problem with time. Ha ha. Ah ha ha, eh, ahem." Snooki would've laughed. "Know now that it is impossible to resist us. Surrender and live out the remainder of your squalid existence in subjection."
Krizalid's smirk fades as he sweeps out his wounded arm.
"For God exists whether or not you believe in Him. But unbelievers know his existence by the punishment they--"
When Shr1ke's form flickers, Krizalid stops. This time, he is ready. He blurs to the side, demonstrating his enhanced movements once more, and Shr1ke's all-out efforts, the last of her strength, is for naught. Neither fist meets Krizalid's body.
"Impotent. Your foolishness knows no--"
What Krizalid does not anticipate is Shr1ke's position as she reforms. The 'third' Shr1ke's arm is still outstretched as she topples, and she falls right by Krizalid's side, the knives adorning her body slashing him as she falls. Blood splatters from a grievous new wound at Krizalid's side. He stares, jaw slackened and gaping, down at his fallen foe.
A vein pulses in his forehead. His fists clench, seemingly incognizant of how this further damages the hand pierced through before. His jaw works silently, eyes widening slowly, too wide, their pupils quivering.
Insult. Mockery. At every turn. When he was to show the power of NESTS. Unstoppable, undauntable power, brooking no resistance. Yet-- every time-- this *insect*--
Krizalid rears back suddenly, raising his foot in obvious preparation to stomp down on Shr1ke's head, and not only once. His face is a danger to look upon, an icon of transgressed taboos.
As though from a distance, through the roaring in his ears, Krizalid hears faintly the sound of a child crying. He hesitates. The fog of red fades. That's right. He's in the gift shop of the Golden Angel Hippodrome. This is ostensibly a tournament fight. He's in a swimsuit. His agent is undercover as an Insta thot. His agent is the reason he's here. He can't abandon all reason. He can't ruin this tournament with open murder. Angel and Whip are here, working for him. He cannot risk their exposure.
Overwhelming hatred meets concern for his subordinates, and--
Krizalid slowly lowers his foot to the ground.
"That'll teach you," he pronounces, "to mess with Sally."
Perhaps hatred does not always win after all.
COMBATSYS: Krizalid has ended the fight here.
There's a moment, in the midst of it all, where Whip isn't honestly sure what she WANTS to see happen. Krizalid's unorthodox - but no less terrifying - fury has Shr1ke turning her own, aggressive outer shell against herself, and she's revealed a startling degree of humanity to the assassinista over their last two encounters. Still mysterious, and doubtless intimidating in her way, the Butcher Bird is an abjectly confusing entity. To say nothing of her opponent, whose nature and role in the life of the NESTS agent is ever in doubt; much of which she can never admit to.
So, who is to be? The Butcher, or the Maniac? One considers her a monster, the other...
Let fate decide. Or rather, let it be decided by the outcome of a battle they were going to have regardless of Whip's presence. She's not aware throughout the last, savage exchange that she's begun to clutch feverishly at the material of her torn-up Daisy Dukes; is even less aware just how sweaty the palms of her hands have become, the raised one clenching and drifting unconsciously toward her breast. Shr1ke's defiant words nurture a spark in her soul she's been aware of for a while now, but never wafted into life. Perhaps she never will. The spike-clad woman's more mechanical declarations add more crushing weight to the dawning realisation - at this point, essentially a foregone conclusion - that they share a point of origin.
When Krizalid just barely removes himself from (serious) harm, 'Sally' releases a breath she's been holding for almost thirty seconds, her heart quivering as her pulse quickens and she looks down, closing her eyes and exuding a long sigh. "Idiot," she mutters, for her own benefit, before pushing herself forward, away from the crowd - who've reawoken themselves for the most part, some even uncertainly beginning to cheer just on principle - and very rapidly toward the bloody, white-haired man. A glance does go to the downed Shr1ke as she steps on over, but it's fleeting and impossible to read.
Far clearer, that Sally Swagger thrusts both arms against the sermonizing Krizalid, bodily shoving him with a view to tipping him clean on his bony buttcheeks, her face a mask of disdainful fury. Whip - showing admirable skill as an actress and fantastic control of both her mannerisms and her voice - manages to slip in a genuine, "Thanks," as she starts to direct herself away. Naturally, she can't help but add on a wry, "I guess."
Her smile is one-sided and for Krizalid's eyes alone, doe-brown gaze finding his own for but a moment before the Swag One reasserts herself and swaggers right on past, hips bouncing from side to side and arms pumping furiously as she strides away on plastic flip-flops.
Yep, definitely all Sally. No dysfunction here, folks!
In the crowd, a hundred Twitter feeds go absolutely NUTS. What's bad for one brand is great for another, it would seem, guaranteeing that not a single lesson is learned and the world continues to be in dire need of salvation. How about that gene pool, eh...?
Log created on 12:16:26 02/04/2018 by Shr1ke, and last modified on 16:54:13 02/04/2018.