Clio - Everyone Needs Their Rituals

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Description: After their Golden Angel tournament sanctioned water gun match, Clio St. Jeanne and Minal Paresh meet for some after conflict ice cream. Conversations happen and an agreement is made for a second, real, sparring match to occur between the two. With enough patience to finish some ice cream, the NOL and USMC collide in the ruins of the war over Southtown.

Southtown may be caught firmly in the grip of bracing winter winds, but the climate-controlled Golden Angel Waterpark provides residents a haven of summertime weather. The balmy temperatures here mean it's actually -comforting- to indulge in the goodness of frozen treats; a pleasant respite from chugging gallons worth of coffee and tea as folks elsewhere in the Fight Capital of the World.

So, of course the Golden Angel Ice Cream Shoppe is raking in money hand-over-fist. A signboard bearing the name of the shop and a graphic representation of the waterpark's bikini-clad mascot looms, over top of a limited menu. Freezer displays show off the 20 flavors of ice cream available, while stand-up freezers house an array of other options.

The ice cream shop is set aside from the rest of the park only by differently-colored tiles. Like practically everything else in this waterpark, it offers no assurance of privacy -- chairs and tables have been set down for customers to enjoy the wares, but by and large the only thing keeping personal conversations private is the distance between said tables.

As promised, Mint would show up after a few minutes. It'd be easy to spot her with her giant metal arms -- though they're not attached to her arms, but rather to a collapsible backpack frame. She's changed out of her swimsuit, as asked, having changed into a white, cotton polo shirt, tucked a pair of camo pants that could fit right in with her camouflage utility uniform. And... rather than boots, she's picked out a pair of canvas shoes. In what's likely to be the most casual look the corporal's donned for a long time, she's also wearing a baseball cap she managed to get for free somewhere.

The Golden Angel Waterpark. Not Clio's first choice of place to visit, she'd much rather hike it back to Southtown proper for better options in more bearable settings. She also wouldn't be adverse to the consumption of coffee alongside her ice cream, but that's all her personal opinions in the matter of combining good things to make a better time.

Clio St. Jeanne arrives a little later than she expected. Mostly due to the fact that she isn't wearing anything that might be considered standard for the going public at the water park. She's back in a more casual ensemble. Clinking as she approachs, her chain bobs and bounces when she walks. Connected to the oversized spiked collar that hangs loosly around her neck, the chain hangs down and ties about her waist like a belt with the spiked end hanging behind. Besides that, she has on a violet hooded sweatshirt and a pair of boots. She's also in rather short shorts, but those aren't readily seen due to the overly long length of Clio's sweatshirt making it look more like a half dress than just a top.

"Hey, sorry it took so long," she apologizes with a half smile, walking around the tiny and metal soldier. "Look at those things," she adds, touching the giant metal arms with a tentative finger. "See, that would have been much cooler than water guns."

"Grab us a table, what do you want? You won, so the ice cream is on me," she says, walking past Mint, spinning on heel and walking backward toward the ice cream bar.

Mint had been gawking at the freezer displays; as it happens she was just pausing to look around when she caught a glance of Clio out of the corner of her eye. She sees her chain first -- and that makes Mint stop and blink. But then she notices the sweatshirt -- and how it takes on the appearance of a half-dress. And that makes her blink again.

Still, it doesn't take long before the soldier remembers that social graces are a thing, and offers a friendly wave; the smooth tips of her bionic fingers catch the light just so.

"Oh, no worries, I was just... trying to figure out what I want, haha." She holds still, as Clio orbits around her, cheeks darkening slightly as the young woman prods at her backpack-mounted arms. "Well... yeah, I agree! ... But wouldn't you rather get tagged by a water gun though? I mean, most people wanna say I shouldn't be allowed to use these in a fight."

She hooks her thumbs in the straps of her backpack frame, grinning faintly as Clio reorients to face her again. Her human-proportioned prosthetics seem mighty flimsy in comparison to the hulking monstrosities lugged upon her back, with thinner materials, less substantial frames. Whereas the jet-powered behemoths could likely make short work of the ice cream shop if it came down to that.

"Uh... hey, that's awfully nice of you! I guess just get me a maccha, double scoop waffle cone?" She smiles faintly, bowing her head -- all this time being in Japan is rubbing off on her.

And with that, she finds a nice, quiet table for two, set a ways apart from the other customers. Seating herself, she slips out of the backpack, setting her arms down delicately. Well, delicately for -her- standards. It's still pretty loud, because those things are -heavy-.

The wing pattern around Clio's eyes turn when she grins. "I'm not the biggest fan of getting wet, but I like a good challenge in a fight," she tells Mint before wheeling about on heel and stopping at the bar.

Clio is quick as the ice cream shop allows to get back with the double scoop in one hand and a small bowl in the other. She drops down and offers the cover over to Mint. Her own ice cream is, appropriately enough the same flavor as her former opponent's namesake.

"Those things are metal, but I'm guessing that using them is just the same as you using any part of yourself. Just harder," Clio says. "I don't normally use water guns in my style, either. Whole thing was just a dog and pony show for the pervs in the crowd." not to say that Clio wasn't enjoying seeing most of the competitors in swimsuits. It's all been wonderful eye candy for her, but the principle is the thing.

"Still, those arms. Chi-tek, or just standard mechanical work?" she asks because she heard the woman was U.S. government approved. Part of her wondered if mechanical fists were just part and parcel of the VA's medical program or if this was just some form of project. To know is all part of sating Clio's curiosity into how all these other places handle things.

Mint is eager to accept the ice cream cone, wrapping both hands around it delicately. The cone, perhaps surprisingly, isn't crushed in the process; the combat engineer clearly has either full mastery over the prosthetics, or the mechanical hands make full use of their pressure sensors. At any rate, she's quick to echo Clio's thoughts on the matter: "Yeah, that's what I gotta tell people." She clenches one of her prosthetic hands into a fist, and even -that- amount of stress causes the polymer skin to buckle. "I gotta use somethin' strong enough to stand up to -me-, haha!"

As for the outright dismissal of the round three premise, Mint laughs -- a bit awkwardly, though. "... Not only that, it was my -first time- fightin' in this tournament, too. And there's -highschoolers- in there, I wonder how they cleared -that- with their parents..."

She takes a bite of her ice cream, pondering for a moment -- but that's when she's asked about her arms. A topic she's -much- more comfortable talking about. "... Oh, standard. I don't know nothin' about chi, but I guess that's why I -enter- these sorts of tournaments, so I can find out more. I basically cobbled together the first version out of spare tank parts, coupled with a few APUs I scored from the DLA."

A moment passes, before she realizes she's overusing acronyms again. "Spare gas turbines from the junkpile. Would've been tossed, so I got 'em discount."

She focuses a bit more attention onto the chain -- "... Though, huh. I can see why you wouldn't mind, if you lug that chain around all the time. How heavy -is- that, anyway?"

Digging through a excessive amount of whipped cream to get to the ice cream underneath, Clio listens and nods along to Mint's explanation. "You built that yourself? You are a smarter woman than I," she says, impressed. "I don't know anyone that could have cobbled together entirely working robotic arms from tank parts."

She watches the hand and the skin buckling, humming to herself. "Strong," she remarks, "By the same token, you should watch out for those high schoolers." She laughs and eats another dollop of cream. "I got my start around ten or so, after all. Though I went to the Librarium's Military Academy for high school. It's a bit of a different experience than most. I guess what I'm saying is high schoolers can surprise you. I mean, you look like one, yourself." At least that's what Clio thought initially.

"Surprised the Marines aren't using you in a lab or something. Tinkering with outfitting all of them with stuff like that." She really is impressed with the arms, but cool and shiny things in general can take her attention. Only to have the attention put back onto herself and her chain.

"This thing?" she asks, jostling the links. "Just my chain. Guess I'm used to it by now. See, this is what I normally use instead of a little water pistol."

Mint pats the arms with her idle hand, shaking her head. "... A... actually, -these- were based on 3D models I worked up with a fabricating contractor. I mean, yes, I -designed- them, but..." Her hand wavers from side to side. "My old boss told me I'd likely kill myself workin' with carbon fiber unsupervised. So I had to farm -this- set out. But the Mark I, Mark II, and Mark III... yeah, all those were spare parts!"

Mint enjoys her ice cream, nodding as the NOL officer explains her schooling. She might have nodded a bit -too- much, as a dollop of green tea ice cream ends up on the tip of her nose without her noticing. "Well, yeah, I'm not knockin' on high schoolers at -all-. Practically all the really cool tech in these hands was cribbed from science fair websites, heh!"

She thinks on the mention that she should be in a lab -- and responds with, "I... maybe? Yeah? But I just gotta get out and -do- things. I like science and stuff but I can't spend all my time cooped up in a lab. Too boring. I gotta get out and talk to people!" She angles her head towards the chain. "... And occasionally punch people, too!. I'm tryin' to branch out from that. ... Like, you did -some- trick near the end of our fight, with like... purple... light? What's -that- all about?"

"So what you're saying is you built three of them yourself and ended up with one more set that you needed to, gasp shock, farm out to a machine shop?" Clio asks with a smirk. The fact that Mint was underplaying her own accomplishments was amusement to say the least. "Old boss being the Marine Corps?" she tosses in a follow up question.

A lean back, Clio runs her fingertips along the heavy links of the chain. As she passes over the etched sigils and hermetic workings, the lines begin to glow with an increasingly bright violet. Small wisps of flame dance out of the markings before fading away back to dull markings again. "You want to know about this?"

"It's a magic formula," Clio says. "There's a lot of theory on it, studied it at the military academy. Think of it as another way to utilize chi energy like most of those pro fighters use. Think of it as a rote or ritualized way to call up what you need how you need it in a pinch."

Clio holds her ice cream in one hand while she draws a quick circle with her fingertip on the table. A spin and flourish as her hand dances over the circle and when she pulls away, the lines she drew onto the table flares up in a briefly existing flickering of violet fire. With a wave of her hand, the flames snuff away.

"There's a number of things I can do with it. I might show you a bit more if you'd like a real spar sometime," Clio tells Mint, taking back her ice cream to eat. "The chain's a conduit for my energy. I can put a little more oomph into this old thing."

Mint laughs as Clio expands on the achievements which the corporal has made an attempt to downplay. "Yeah, totally different!" she chirps back, good-naturedly. "Yes and no -- my old boss, Gunny Stewart." She looks down at her hand for a moment, turning it about in the light as she continues. "... I tend to get a little reckless about safety protocols, but hey, that's the price of progress."

It's about then that she catches sight of her reflection on the shiny finish of her artificial hand. With the reflection's help, she notices the dab of ice cream on her nose, eliminating the offense with a napkin.

With that taken care of, Minal focuses her attention back on Clio and that chain. Her eyes glimmer with reflected light as she stares at the wisps of flame. "Yeah, the fireballs and stuff always seemed like magic to me..."

But as Clio explains, it -is- magic. And yet, there's theory behind it...

This brings about an enthusiastic nod from the corporal.
And a few bites of her ice cream, while Clio draws circles onto the table.

"So... you said it was rote and ritualized, but like... how come you can make it happen like that right there? I mean, unless you spent time building a ritual for impressing short-women-who-look-like-highschoolers..."

Mint takes another bite of her ice cream, enraptured by the display. She had always thought of this "magic" as something unreachable, unknowable -- but hearing it described as similar to science is more than enough to hold the gearhead's interest.

"Safety guidelines are just that." Clio's eyes glitter with mirth as she takes a bite of her ice cream. "Without pushing those little boundaries we'd never actually get anything figured out."

Clio laughs and rolls her eyes. "Now you've got me sounding like my mother. As long as you're not hurting others," she adds, not quite putting in a bit to avoid hurting oneself.

She swirls the cream around the bed of mint ice cream and looks at the white and green whorls. "I can explain only so much, but I have a higher capacity for it than others, always have. And rituals don't have to be grand an elaborate. A circle, the symbolism, it all goes to the same ends and that is the maker's design." She looks back across the Mint. "Given that I'm one of those short women, and I impress myself." She smiles at Mint and takes a taste of her ice cream. "Are you impressed?" she asks, eyes looking closely at Mint's reaction.

Mint bumps her fist into the table. Without pushing boundaries we'd never get anything figured out? "That's what I'm sayin', yeah!" The corporal breaks into a gigantic smile, at that.

"Nah, nah, I'm... I don't like hurtin' other people if I can avoid it. Which I know, I know, that's a totally weird thing for a soldier in an an active military to admit, but." She laughs in a self-effacing manner.

Her smile dims for a moment, as Clio explains that not -everyone- gets to sling magic around with the same level of ease.

When Clio mentions she's short, though, Mint looks incredulous, shaking her head. "You?" She shakes her head in vehement disagreement -- the need to respond to that meaning she almost misses the followup question. Her hand flies up to the back of her head, brushing down her hair -- as if that has any real bearing on her answer. "Wait -- you, short? You think -you're- short? You're like a giant compared to me..."

But then she blinks, dumbfounded.
The question that slipped its way in there comes back to mind: is -Mint- impressed?
Minal's guileless smile returns in spades.

"Well, yeah, of course I was impressed! That's why I was askin'!"

Completely unfazed by the subtext that might lie beneath such a question, Mint takes another bite of ice cream, claiming a crunchy bit of waffle cone in the process.

... She -did- notice Clio looking a bit more intently at her though.
And the corporal instantly jumps to a conclusion as to why.
Color floods her cheeks, as she draws her shoulders back.
Minal doffs her hat, re-seating it upon her head.
Her eyes cross, staring at her own nose.

"D-did I get ice cream on my nose again?"

Clio watches Mint argue against being short. She spins around the swirling ice cream soup she's eating. "I'm not exactly on the tall side of things," she says with a short laugh.

She runs her hand along her hair, a subtle mimicry of Mint's action. She's surprised, in a way, at how seemingly eager and excited Mint is over a simple ice cream and talk. Still, Clio smiles and drinks from her ice cream bowl.

"No, no ice cream on your nose this time," she says, putting the bowl down and running her hands over each other. "It's something I've always been able to do. My own thing." she laughs and looks down at her hands, color coming into her ears. "So why is are you getting involved in the Golden Angel Tournament anyways?"

There's a lot of other things Mint -could- be doing right now. Working on her KNUCKS, perhaps. Or building out new devices entirely. Despite that, the corporal's ready smiles make no attempt to hide the fact that a nice conversation seems to be topping her priority list at the moment.

"Eh, have you looked around though? Here in Japan you're only -average- height. Back home in the States, maybe it's a bit different, sure!"

She digs into the waffle cone as she considers an adequate response to the query. Crunch, crunch, crunch!

"Um... Is it too late to use the 'if I told you I'd have to kill you' excuse?" She grins -- and not long after, she adds, "I really just wanna fight people of all different skill levels. So it was really troubling for me when they put a gun in my hands, which is like, something we drill on every few months and isn't really anything to do with traditional martial arts, y'know?"

She shrugs faintly. "Plus, it's not like I'm good enough for that World Warrior business. If I wanted to deal with fragile manchild-egos I'd have stayed with my old squad!"

"Maybe I'm just used to the States," Clio says with a nod. "But you're right. Sadly." She looks up at the ceiling, and yet more of Golden Angel's unique and terrifying approach to interior design. It's terrible. She wonders why /she's/ even here at this place.

Clio jangles her chain, tapping her fingers along the metal links. "I should give you a real fight then, none of this strip show bullshit," she says, lolling her head back forward to look at Mint with a challenge in her eyes. "But I have a really close friend who uses a pair of guns in close range combat. Tradition doesn't have a whole lot to do with fighting outside the pro-circuits. Anything goes in a street fight."

She doesn't have a lot ot say on the World Warrior, but she does nod about it. "I can't go into anything professional, but I think I like it better if those guys all stuck to hammering each other than turning that out on regular people walking about the street. We'd be dead in a heartbeat." She says, despite that fact that the gulf between people like herself and Mint compared to the average citizen of Japan is not exactly shallow or narrow in any regard.

At 4'9", Mint's perspective on height is different than others'. In -her- mind, Clio's not short -- and she's happy to say so, in that regard.

"Well, sure, I'm ready whenever you are!" chirps back the corporal. She demonstrates her readiness with a smile, and by patting the shiny metal gauntlets rested right beside her chair. "I might be at a -little- disadvantage right now that you got me fat, dumb, and happy with ice cream, but I'll manage..."

But her hand is stayed by the mention of a friend who uses -guns- to fight. That causes the corporal to blink inquisitively. "... Guns? Like, with water, or bullets?" The dangling chain catches her eye, and she makes a small sidestep: "... Or is it like that magic stuff you use?" Her eyes drift back upward to Clio's afterwards.

"Yeah, I s'pose that's right," she comments. "... I can't even imagine what it'd be like to be so strong that you have to jump into a tournament just to keep from roid-raging out on random people."

Mint leans back in her chair, a glint of competitiveness reflecting in her narrowed eyes. "So do you want to set up a playdate for later, or throw down right here and now? I mean, I don't -think- we're required to be in swimsuits to have a spar here..."

Mint looks around from an afterthought. "... We'll probably get an audience whether we want to or not though. Not that I mind!"

"You're not exactly fat," Clio says. "You'd need a lot more ice cream for that." She tents her fingertips and leans toward Mint. "Magic guns. Her name is Noel. Sweetest thing you'll ever meet. Just don't eat her cooking." Clio makes a gun gesture with her fingers. "Two of them, even. It's kind of nuts to see it in action."

She takes her chain in hand and runs her fingers along it, clinking it in time. "I'd rather go outside of the grounds for a fight, if I'm totally honest with you. Too many civilians around and it's just not my thing to involve them. I have my position to consider sometimes."

She laughs, sighs, leans back into her chair. "And I will be glad to be done with the swimsuits and having to pretend to enjoy that damn daystar anymore. I've been exhausted for weeks now!" she almost, almost rubs at her eye, then remembers she's not actually in her make up due to the water fight, so she stops hesitating and rubs at it. "So maybe my advantage isn't as good as you think. But still. A good knock down will get the blood flowing again."

"Haha, I guess." Mint doesn't -really- think she's fat, but... "... eating ice cream is not something I let myself do every day. Put on too many cals and they make you double up on workouts, which means less time for everything else in the day..."

Mint finishes through the top 2/3 of her cone while listening to Clio, pausing between bites to flash a cheery grin back at her. "Sweet, two guns... bad cook. That's... an interesting combination! You sound like you'd met a lot of cool friends over there! Me... " Mint shrugs non-committally, before leaning forward in a mock-conspiratorial whisper. "Jaaaaarheads. There's a few fun guys, but."

She finishes off the rest of the cone in just two more bites, dabbing her mouth with a napkin. "Eh, I don't like the sun, but I like the view! It's fun seeing everyone -smiling-, I don't get that at work. And plus, everyone's got on a different swimsuit, you get to see everyone's unique personality!"

Mint takes a more thorough look at the chain. "... So... no sun... not in here... that pretty much means we're goin' out now, huh?"

Panesh is momentarily oblivious to any secondary meaning of that phrase.

"There's the Boardwalk... there's the Harbor..."

Clio never really thought too much on what she's eaten in most cases. Other than a generalized approach that pays toward the concept of healthy. Then again, her use of magical formula and possibly the fact she lugs around and fights with a rather heavy piece of metal on a daily basis combined with her usual activity does account for needing a rather high caloric load.

For a moment, Clio looks at her empty ice cream bowl and considers the ramifications of her lifestyle and her muddied history. Benefits to her, she guesses, shrugs, and gets back to listening to Mint talk about her history and former coworkers.

"Sounds like you're doing better out here in this place," she remarks. "And," she laughs, "Yeah, the various views here are pretty nice. A lot to look at despite the damn sun."

She puts her ice cream cup down and grins sharply toward Mint. She did not miss the secondary meaning. "You're cute, but I have to admit that I like taller women," she gives Mint a wink and a laugh. "But if you mean heading outside to beat the tar out of each other for fun and excitement, then I'm all for it."

Clio stands up and stretches, chain clinking about her waist, the sharp end hanging down behind her. "I'm down for wherever, just so long as it's private. I want to see you go ham, so pick a good sport for you."

"Yeah. Once you get between the buildings where there's shade, it starts to feel like an actual city again, rather than this blazing bright ball in the sky."

She blinks back, as Clio points out that (a) Mint is cute and (b) Clio would prefer taller.
The thought process that goes along with that takes a moment.
But when it does, her cheeks stain a bit darker.
"I... uh..."

But luckily, Clio herself offers the save before Mint is on the witness stand for too long. "Y-yeah. Just that." She offers a hesitant smile, gathering her napkin together and rising to her feet. "Passed a lot on the way over here that should be perfect, actually." She hefts the backpack onto her shoulders as if it was an empty schoolbag. "I'll show you!"

True enough -- the empty lot is just outside the Golden Angel Waterpark. It's on a side street feeding into the eponymous Boardwalk: one of many business storefronts irreparably damaged in the strife and violence of the UN conflict. Being that it's off the main drag, the chance of pedestrians getting a glance into the lot is reduced dramatically.

Mint hops over the hazard tape, pleased to see that it's written in Japanese. It's always easier for 'dumb Americans' to get away with stuff that wouldn't be allowed otherwise. "I'm guessin' the inspection order for this place is mired up in red tape along with all the -other- inspection orders. Hasn't been sign of activity for the whole time I been here."

Mint pops a switch on her prosthetic hand; mechanicals begin to whirr and slide. She rocks her elbows backwards, locking them into the docking sleeves on her KNUCKS, setting off another chain reaction of whirring and sliding motions.

She pulls her super-sized hands free, her grin bright enough to rival the sun as she begins flexing her brutish fingers. "One 'Going Ham', coming right up!"

COMBATSYS: Mint has started a fight here.

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Mint             0/-------/-------|

Yes, Mint is adorable. Clio cannot deny the simple fact. But she is just a little bit too short and Clio has a few other concerns that she can't consider until she gets a little more time with the NOL's database and information logs.

For now, it's about fun and learning a little bit about the potential that this diminutive Marine has in her. And it all starts with the invite. A hand directing out toward the door of the ice cream shop and an offered "Apres vous."

The empty lot and the destroyed business brings pause to Clio. She looks over the destruction and the loss and shakes her head. Reminder of her first weeks here in Japan. The reality of monsters and choices coming back to her. So she deflects with humor, as is her wont. "What would happen if an authority came along?" she wonders aloud, leaping the tape in a bit of over dramatics.

She lands on the otherside and straightens up. "Oh, wait, that's me technically. Oh well, carry on," the NOL officer says, reaching up to her oversized collar and unclipping the chain.

She snaps the length of the chain and it unravels from her waist. The etchings spark violet and when Clio rolls her arm, the links begin to climb and coil like a serpent about Clio's arm. A snap and the spike end flies up into the air for Clio to catch. Her legs spread and plant, her shoulders lower to base out her center of gravity. Her hips begin to sway like a cat ready to pounce.

"Bring it."

COMBATSYS: Clio has joined the fight here.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Mint             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0             Clio

It's tough to tell what sort of business may have been here before. A few coils of electrical wire on one side, a few pieces of half-demolished concrete block on the right. Trifling vestiges of a building that wouldn't be worth the time for a massive industrial excavator to remove. But, judging from the two-story tall buildings on either side of the lot, it likely served a dual purpose both as a storefront and as living quarters.

She doesn't seem terribly concerned about the authorities getting involved -- and perhaps even less so once Clio dismisses them with her statement. "My gunny always used to tell me, it's better to beg for forgiveness than ask for permission!"

The whirring sound from Mint's gauntlets becomes more of a dull hum, as the turbines begin to spin up. The air behind the corporal begins to undulate, growing hazy with the warmed exhaust -- a pleasant alternative to the chilly Southtown air. It's true that Mint should -probably- be wearing something warmer when the temperature is low enough that she can see her breath, but from the way she bobs back and forth on her feet, hefting the massive gauntlets up close to her face like a boxer would... well. The pint-sized dynamo probably has little trouble with staying warm.

Minal watches Clio like a hawk -- her eyes lighting up once she sees the chain moving about with its own accord. Finally, Mint can fight without reservations!

Mint's knuckles curl up -- each metal finger nearly as wide as her wrists. She brings her right fist back, flashing an ebullient grin.

"Well -- alright then! Here I come!"

The throttle is increased.
The engines surge.
And Mint thunders forward with a whine of turbine power, towards Clio and her serpentine chain. Her right fist extends outward -- and if it hits, it would make quite an impact!

COMBATSYS: Mint successfully hits Clio with Straight Punch.

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Mint             0/-------/-------|==-----\-------\0             Clio

Can one really be ready for something like this? The small boxer bouncing an moving. Clio's initial thought is that the smaller fighter is going to move slower, hit harder, be something with a great deal more power than finesse.

Clio is wrong in this assessment. Cockiness gets in her way and when she's caught by the knuckles of Mint's fist. The engine drives Clio into the air and caroming off the wall of the former business. With a hurking cough and a clanking chain, Clio lurches back to her feet and to a better position. She won't make that mistake again, but with the echoes of pain reverberating in her body, she might not get the chance to make those kinds of mistakes again.

"Good hit, not underestimating again. Stupid of me," she grunts, the fire inside of her igniting the coils of chain on her arm as she launches herself forward. Similar to the fight in the pool, only this time swinging around a sharpened length of metal like a vicious spike driving at Mint's metalworks.

COMBATSYS: Mint dodges Clio's Power Strike.

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Mint             0/-------/-------|==-----\-------\0             Clio

Minal has a lot to make up for. She'd been a target of bullies all through school, and she was used to getting looked over in favor of other people. Taller people, prettier people, what have you. And there were two ways for Minal to bring herself up to other people's level -- her brains, and her brawn.

Chains clank against her metal knuckles -- but so does Clio, her conversational partner for the last however-many minutes. Mint knows it hurt -- but she also knows pain can be a good thing. It hones the reflexes -- and as Clio soon admits, it aligns the mind's estimations with the body's capabilities.

Mint hops away, unfurling her fingers as the engines return to their idle state. The New Jersey native parts her lips in a grin as she nods back in exchange -- that wasn't the -strongest- hit in her repertoire, but it was certainly meant as a wake-up call.

This is no simple conversation though -- and this is no time to rest. As Clio lashes out with her chain, Mint turns her left shoulder towards Clio, stepping back as she allows her fists to fall to knee level. The chain's spike unfurls, the wind of its approach strong enough to blow Mint's baseball cap off!

"Whoa," comments Mint -- knowing full well how much getting with something like that might hurt! "Yeah, no kid gloves here!" she chirps, already shifting her feet around for her next attack.

She revolves in nearly a complete circle, launching herself back at Clio without the explicit aid of jet-powered thrust. First she aims a straight left to the sternum -- and then she follows up with a right hook to the shoulder! And should she manage that, the mecha-boxer would follow through with a left cross, aimed at harrying Clio's defenses!

COMBATSYS: Clio blocks Mint's Knuckle Dragger.

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Mint             0/-------/-------|===----\-------\0             Clio

Clio laughs now, missing in the air but picking up the pace. She twists around like a dancer in the air. The first punch toward her sternum is sidestepped in the roll. The aim; put all of her chain at the shoulder against the powerful punch.

Connection comes with a flashing and flaring of violet light scattering into the air around the pair. For all the engine thrust of the punch, this time Clio absorbs it. The pain is there, running through her body, but she stands firm and laughs.

"Good, good, let's see everything you got!" Clio calls out. She twists and drops the spiked end of her chain. She whips it around. It strikes the ground with a click. The sigils and etchings on the spike glow and crackle. A rolling flame gushes out in a wave toward Mint, rising up from the sparking ground.

COMBATSYS: Clio successfully hits Mint with Whipflash.

[       \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////        ]
Mint             0/-------/---====|=====--\-------\0             Clio

Mint seems pleasantly surprised when Clio uses the chain as a defensive tactic. And she also seems pleasantly surprised by the solid -weight- of the chain, and how well the NOL officer is able to resist her punches! Especially when laughing is involved!

"Haha -- and here I was starting to get worried about you!" Mint brings her right fist back, raising her left as a defensive screen. And it seems, for a moment, that she's ready for another frontal assault...!

Corporal Panesh, though, is -not- ready for the flare of energy that is whipped around. She angles herself to make an approach -- as if she was going to use her right fist to deal with the chain itself.

But she miscalculates -- and moreover, she fails to anticipate the wave of energy that rushes up from the ground. She clamps her jaw shut as the wave of fire slams into her, hoping to keep the superheated air from assaulting her lungs. The fire brings with it a zephyr of loosed concrete, gravel and rocks, each leaving their own distinct signature upon Mint's no-longer-white polo shirt.

The pint-sized pugilist staggers to the side, ignoring the soot and grime left behind on her face.

But, taking the moment to refocus herself, she flashes a pearly-white smile.
And then Mint leaps into the air.

She brings both fists high, like wings stretching to either side.
"Only the best for you!"
She descends on Clio, slamming both fists down. Pneumatics are fired -- and the knuckles slam downwards in perfect unison, like the ch-CLACK of a double-barreled shotgun!

COMBATSYS: Mint successfully hits Clio with BFH.

[         \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////             ]
Mint             0/-------/---====|=======\-------\1             Clio

The chain has weight to it, and the arcane formula that runs along them add to the utility. "Taunting already?" Clio retorts, laughing as she stands behind the flames. Watching them fade out and leaving her standing in the crackling aftermath of the fires.

Waitng, biding time. And then comes the pneumatic charge. A leaping attack. Clio's seen it time and time again. She's dodged more than her fair share of things like this. If she can outpace Makoto Nanaya and that Australian girl, surely this should be another rote motion.

The pneumatics are what she doesn't expect. The distance Mint falls is easy to guess, but the additional speed brought down by the pistons firing leads to a wet and heavy crack that jostles Clio's chains, hammers her against the ground and does so with enough force to drive her back up into the air and skidding one grinding metal a few good feet away.

With a clinking, Clio stands back up, rolling to her feet and repositioning herself. She takes a moment, she needs a moment to keep herself focused and calm. Mint is a different type of heavy arm fighter and Clio's never her best in the daytime. She should be doing this smarter.

"Okay, that's good, but I need you to stay back now," she tells Mint, winding up the weight end of her chain and whipping it out toward Mint's gut. Using the force of the blow to buy her enough time to pause and clear her head.

COMBATSYS: Clio blitzes into action and acts again!

[         \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////             ]
Mint             0/-------/---====|=======\-------\1             Clio

COMBATSYS: Clio gains composure.

[         \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////          ]
Mint             0/-------/---====|=======\-------\0             Clio

COMBATSYS: Clio successfully hits Mint with Thrown Weapon.

[             \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////////         ]
Mint             0/-------/=======|=======\-------\1             Clio

Well -- Clio was laughing. That's a good sign!

Mint will have to offer her response some time after her pneumatic pistons had fired, and after she's bounced back to land on the balls of her feet. Concrete crunches beneath her treads as she hops backwards, raising her hands in a guard to defend her face. She crabwalks backwards, coughing in an attempt to clear the chaff from earlier away from her nose and mouth.

She gives Clio the moment she needs to roll back to her feet. "... Well, I'm not taunting on purpose, " she explains, "Is it comin' across mean?"

She keeps her guard high as Clio winds up -- she knows that a blow to the head from that thing would be more than enough to knock her out. And when it swings forward, her arms tense for impact...

But the weight swings -low-, slamming into Mint's abdomen -- and pretty much taking all the breath out of her! The pint-sized pugilist collapses to her knees in pain, one hand cupping around her mouth while the palm of her other slams into the ground, pulverizing the concrete scraps into rubble.

Drawing in her breath through clenched teeth, she brings both palms to the ground, shoving herself back to her feet. She coughs once more, but she doesn't speak immediately afterwards -- just holds her fists close to her face, and raises her knee as if she's adopting a Muay Thai stance rather than a traditional pugilist stance.

That last hit hurt -- but Mint's trying to keep her jaw locked so she doesn't cry out from pain. Clio wanted a spar -- and the Marine is going to give it her all. She doesn't strike -- not yet, as she keeps her eye on the mysterious NOL officer, circling around to honor the request to stay back while actually keeping the fight moving.

COMBATSYS: Mint focuses on her next action.

[             \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////////         ]
Mint             0/-------/=======|=======\-------\1             Clio

"It's all fun," Clio says, starting to retake her slightly crouched position once again. Slow bobbing on the balls of her feet. The spiked plumb of her chain held like a dagger while her chain-wrapped arm clinks the heavy links in a rhythmic time.

"It hurts, I know, but a little pain is just you knowing what you're doing is incredibly stupid," Clio says, watching, discerning, trying to figure out just how Mint is going to react to her next move. The delay is seen, the careful eye. Clio isn't using a squirt gun this time.

"And if you know what you're doing is stupid, means you still got some value in your life." Clio smiles and sees her approach. Her foot turns. The ground scrapes.

She's off like a rocket. Chains fall quiet as they still on her arm. A full frontal assault, dark fire runs along the chain. She twists one way, pulls another, the flaming shadow obscures the approach and with a shuddering moment of reality, a fiery chain-wrapped fist arcs in a sloping uppercut toward Mint's right kidney.

COMBATSYS: Clio successfully hits Mint with Stygian Fist.

[                  \\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////          ]
Mint             1/-----==/=======|=======\-------\0             Clio

Minal understands what Clio's trying to say -- she nods her head as much, in response to each shared thought.

Her fists rotate in mechanical fashion, her elbows rising and lifting with each expansion and contraction of her ribcage. Breath is an essential concept for a boxer -- for maximal endurance, one must always time their punches in precise coordination with the lungs.

Rather than the aloof, detached smiles from before, the corporal's smile is more of a self-deprecating one, her eyebrows lower than usual. After all, Stupid Decisions could be the title of Mint's autobiography.

Mint keeps her left knee high. The bionic limb was a necessary addition after another fight had gone bad, but it's turned into a tremendous asset for her -- another reinforced joint that can absorb a few hits.

But Mint hasn't fully integrated Muai Thai into her style yet. She understands the motions, but not the -intentions- of the style. She doesn't understand that in reinforcing one angle of defense, she is leaving another open.

She lunges forward when Clio moves, lowering that knee and shifting her left gauntlet downward to cover the abdomen, keeping her right foot high for a counterattack. She starts to move on that...

However, Clio's feint was successful. Mint deflects the shadow -- but not the uppercut ramming into her kidney.

Mint shouldn't be losing a battle of fists, but here she is jackknifing around that chain-wrapped fist, stumbling back with an awkward gait. "Nngh..."

Unsteady, she seems like she is about to tip over -- and she just might have, if not for the sudden high-pitched whine of the jet turbines flaring up. Heated air blasts backwards, puffy white clouds erupting from the knucks.

"Don't worry, I'm not tapping out yet..."

And Mint flies towards Clio -- with both hands out to either side.
The true attack, though, is the metal-reinforced knee which will be thundering towards Clio. And only if -that- connects will the thrust from the knucks come into play, as Corporal Panesh attempts to latch hold of Clio's chain with one hand -- while the other peppers three short-throw, rapid-fire punches into the right of her NOL opponent's torso!

COMBATSYS: Mint knocks away Clio with Lock and Load.

[                   \\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////                ]
Mint             1/---====/=======|=======\===----\1             Clio

Aggression has taken her this far. She hopes it can take her the rest of the way. It does not. Clio barely moves back to put distance between her and Mint when Mint's pneumatics once more propel her toward Clio. And once more does Clio underestimate her opponent's tenacity and speed. She tries once more to use her chains to glance Mint aside, but this time the knee and the knucks in conjunction stop her in her tracks.

Held for that moment, chain clinking when Clio tries to move away. She's still for that one needed second for three sharp hits from those mighty thews.

Rattled, breathing raggedy, battered away. Clio spins back and skipping from Mint. She needs a breather, taking it with a harsh swallow. "Fucking hell," she coughs, rubbing her lip with her chain-free hand. "I love this moment," she tells Mint. "Truth is, love a good fight. Normally I got to live with it being life or death, but here and now, I like knowing it's all about throwing down until we're spent." She starts to let the weight side of her chain lower until it thuds on the ground. "You're pretty damn good. Don't think I've got too much left in me."

The chain erupts, a length of violent flame as Clio crouches. She launches herself up into the air. "But I am a Knight of the Azure Flame. I cannot leave without giving you my all!" she calls down to Mint.

She spirals like a bullet, the weight streaking in the air after her, lit up like a meteor. The vertical rotation turns horizontal. The chain catches and whirls into the air. Whistling, it leaves Clio's personal orbit and rockets down toward Mint with a cacophonic explosion of shadowy pyre-flame.

COMBATSYS: Clio successfully hits Mint with Malleus Maleficarum.

[                            \\  < >  //////////////                ]
Mint             2/<<<<<<</<<<<<<<|==-----\-------\0             Clio

The chain clinks as Mint hammers out three punches -- and then finally breaks away with a hard shove of her knee. The New Jersey native has been in pretty rough tumbles -- and in all honesty, that chain freakin' -hurt-. But Minal is a glutton for punishment -- she knows damn well that she only gets stronger by throwing herself into the grinder.

While she is a bit unnerved at Clio's curse -- usually that's a -bad- sign -- she is pleasantly surprised by the honest admission that follows it. Showing that, yet again, the two have some things in common.

"Yeah," she chirps back, raising both fists. The artificial behemoths twist unnaturally, pneumatics hissing as pistons are pulled back into place. "I live life for that one second that stretches into twenty. The moment where your adrenaline kicks in... and life and death are just standing there placin' bets on whether you fold."

The gauntlets are brought back to a pugilist stance, as Mint falls back on the basics. "You ain't half bad yourself," she comments with a smile.

Mint's KNUCKS raise to follow Clio as she ascends into the air. The chain whips around -- and Mint sets her jaw in place. The turbines whine, spinning up to high speed once more -- but both Mint's knees and her KNUCKS' thrust are a bit slow to kick in. The weight slams into her gut -- and the shadowy pyreflame bursts outward.

Mint does not have the -breath- to scream as she's knocked backwards. Her turbines simmer down due to safety protocols, proving ineffective as the pint-size pugilist is knocked backwards -- and the sensation of the pyre burning into her abdomen is enough to bring tears to the corporal's eyes.

Her back slams into the wall of the adjoining building. And she pitches forward, catching herself as one palm slams into the ground.

"And you... deserve every bit I got too!"

The turbines spin up, much more powerfully this time! With a powerful roar, Mint surges forward in a flurry of blows. One punch will rain down after another, as she leaps and bounds in a zig-zag pattern -- as if she is speed-skating her way across the pulverized concrete remains of the building. And when the twin turbine-powered pugilist approaches, she'll unleash one hell of a haymaker into her gut, followed by a sweeping left cross to the jaw -- aiming to send her flying into the building on the -other- side! "OOOOOOOOOH---RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!"

COMBATSYS: Mint has reached second wind!

[                           \\\  < >  //////////////                ]
Mint             0/-------/---<<<<|==-----\-------\0             Clio

COMBATSYS: Clio dodges Mint's Final Sacrifice.

[                           \\\  < >  //////////////                ]
Mint             0/-------/---<<<<|==-----\-------\0             Clio

The weight of the witch hammer has been brought down. It should've been enough to put Mint down and let Clio walk away from this with some pain, but a bit of a boosted ego and a contentment that she fought a solid fight.

But when it's all said and done, the fire's have died down, Minal Paresh still stands. It's impressive, and as Clio lands with a soft thump, she straightens her self up to watch the other woman.

A pleased grin carves itself across Clio's face. "I don't want any less," she says, reassuming her posture.

Clio's lips move, her finger runs against her thigh. A circle, line, patterns that hold the focus of her arcane potential to bring to bear her capabilities. A final whispered word and the moment when Mint reaches Clio, magic happens.

The turbine-powered assault rings down at Clio. A burst, a reflection of an arcane circle, hermetic emblem burning in the center appears as Clio turns just out of the strike's range. The second strike and Clio twists the other way. Another circle flares to existence as if to deny Mint the purchase she fights so hard for.

Clio twists away from the short lived arcane circles and Mint's hands in order. Side stepping, twisting around Mint. The spike turns in Clio's hand, twists downward, a short, direct stab with the spike toward the joint's in Mint's elbow, trying to brute force disable the turbines with a painful wrenching stab.

COMBATSYS: Clio successfully hits Mint with Weapon Jab.

[                                < >  //////////////                ]
Mint             0/-------/<<<<<<<|==-----\-------\0             Clio

The biggest asset to Mint's arsenal is the sheer -force- she can bring to bear. An unstoppable dynamo of power, delivered in a direct line. You can see it coming, you can even defend against it -- but you can't -stop- it. That is also the biggest weakness, for someone able to -avoid- the strike is in a prime position to deliver a punishing counterattack. One punch whistles short of its mark amidst a flare of arcane light, and then the second follows in quick succession. A winded Minal leans forward into her strikes, cutting the engines' thrust and leaping backwards to reposition herself against the crafty Clio.

And yet -- as the NOL officer strikes, Mint predictably lifts her arm to guard against the wrenching stab -- thus putting her arm perfectly into harm's way!

Minal -howls- with pain as the arm is torn downwards -- the spike slamming perfectly through the enshrouding metal and forcing a sudden -jolt- as several dozen pounds of spinning turbine blades are lurched to a halt. Her right arm is pulled away from her -- and Mint spits out a few choice words she picked up in basic training!

But while her right arm is in agony, and tears are spilling out of her eyes, her left arm is still in service. Mint's left fist clenches -- and triggers are fired. The jet turbines spin up -- and hammer a rapid-fire punch at Clio -- only for the pneumatics to fire immediately upon the intended point of contact, ramming the fist another four inches further!

COMBATSYS: Mint blitzes into action and acts again!

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

COMBATSYS: Mint can no longer fight.

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

COMBATSYS: Clio blocks Mint's Rapid Combo.

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

Magic versus technology, a battle raged the world over for ages. Not normally so literal as today, but today is a time for magic to take home a win. The Hound of the NOL's arcane enhanced attention kept her one step ahead of a painful pummeling. And in that moment of openness, Clio St. Jeanne puts a stop to Mint's right arm.

She snaps the chain like a whip to dislodge the spike. The metal flips back into her hand, scraped and dented from the force created by the turbines. One arm down and Clio is fairly certain this time her newfound friend cannot come back with much of an assault.

The left fist, pistoning around, and by now, Clio has a better feel of where she stands. The fight's taken a great deal out of her, but as it's drawn on, she's felt the patter of the contest invigorating her. With a twist, she hunkers down and her writhing chain-sleeve clatters and bends at each blow. Sparks of fire, both arcane and real, snap off from where knuckle meets chain. Clio grunts out the hit pistons into her arm. Glowing sigils alight, Clio whirls, rolling with the force of Mint's strike to spin her on heel. Her foot picks up, coated in a fiery chi.

And then the roundhouse stops, the fire peters out, and her spiked toes hover held in the air near Mint's head. "Don't think I'll go that far," a tired sounded Clio says, grinning back at Mint from her odd, bent away and held in mid pirouette pose. "God, that was fun, wasn't it?"

COMBATSYS: Clio has ended the fight here.

Mint is wide-eyed, panting -- and quite obviously running on fumes. Her left turbine even starts to make a note as if it is firing up for one last surge.

But the corporal has the presence of mind to notice the fiery foot about to slam into her temple. She is reminded of the fact that while she has definitely been brought to the precipice of consciousness, this is still a friendly fight, first and foremost.

Mint closes her eyes, squeezing off tears in the process.
She allows her shoulders to sag.
A moment later, the gauntlets both hit the decimated concrete and soil of the abandoned lot.

The corporal won't respond immediately -- as if she'd been setting all of her injuries sustained through the fight aside, and they're only -now- catching up with her. She crouches -- awkwardly -- with her left turbine spinning to a halt. Her ribcage heaves with each belabored breath.

It will be several seconds before she opens her eyes, and assents, with one single syllable.

"... yeah."

And in that syllable, a hint of her previously demonstrated cheer is visible.

A few moments pass, and Mint nods again, more emphatically. "It... It -was- fun."

She smiles faintly, finally raising her head to look back up to Clio.

"... You seen my hat anywhere?"

Ready for one final strike, one more retaliation, one more assault and trading of blows. One that, ultimately, never comes. Clio lowers her foot and resumes a more casual stance. A friendly fight, ended without real damage and bloodshed. Just as it should be.

A good brawl that's brought out the better of the two women, at least in Clio's mind. One that spoke to a great deal more of their talents than any running around with a water gun in a shallow pool for others to gawk at. Here, there were no witnesses save for the participants. Here, the two fought with what they had, though without a truly killing intent. But the bruises that Clio would wake up to would be a pain well earned.

"You did good." Clio smiles. She clips the heavy clip around her collar and with a spin of the gain, begins to wrap herself up about the waist. "Thanks. Really. Thanks for that. I needed it." The spike hitches and falls like a tail behind her.

She turns to look around. This way, then that, and doesn't see what happened to Mint's hat. "I have no idea. I'll help you find it though." She turns and slowly starts to walk away, hands on her hips, scanning the ruined business. "I hope I didn't damage those things too much!" she calls back.

"Unless you really like tinkering with them. Then I guess you're welcome for giving you an excuse."

Mint laughs -- she wasn't holding back on her usual amount of good cheer because of any disappointment, just that she's super-exhausted! "Yeah, I could tell. And me too, really! Much as it was, er." Mint starts to shrug, but decides not to try lifting her oversized gauntlets at the moment.

She starts to speak again, but then the spike lands upon the ruins of the demolished building and startles her. "Y--"

Catching her breath, she laughs -- and starts again. "-- Yeah, fighting's a vibe I get. Waterblasting clothes off someone I didn't even know... I -guess- I should've thought about sayin' 'nay' to that clause."

Both knees are brought up in front of her. And then she leans forward -- popping right back up to her feet, with the massive hands drooping down by her knees. They're heavy -- but even in her fatigued state, she's dedicated to hauling those behemoths around.

"And yeah. That chain, it's like... a living -part- of you. It's insane how much control you have. And here I feel like I'm plinking around with sticks and fire."

She looks down at her right arm, particularly at a dimly lit display screen. "... Combustor's fine. Turbine stage 3 is damaged, but heck, I'd rather -those- than the compressor blades." She lifts the arm to get a better look of the puncture wound, laughing faintly. "It'll be good as new in about a week, haha."

"So what now?" She starts to jog towards a spot in the wreckage of the building -- and kicks at a spot on the ground. Her baseball cap is flipped upwards -- and snagged with her left hand. "I owe -you- a meal now -- so when you wanna collect?"

Clio rests her hands in the pockets of her hoodie, relaxing now and feeling more awake than she has been all day. She walks about, looking but only putting so much effort into things. A look to follow Mint as she walks around.

"The first couple rounds were good. Real solid fighting, even if I did them without the chain. I guess I got complacent with the third one," Clio says, running a hand through the hair on the back of her head.

She looks down at the collar and chain at Mint's compliment. "The way you carry about those arms? Your legs? I mean, I don't know too many people that are full on cyborg soldiers," she says with a laugh. "And well I'd hope I could control this thing. I've been fighting with chains since I was in elementary school."

Clio walks toward the exit of the former business, mostly to scope out anything that may have taken time to watch and spy on the fight that just occurred. She tilts her head and attention back toward Mint to keep on listening, smiling when she hears that the damage isn't too bad.

"Well, if you're offering like that." She looks forward and puts a timeline down in her head. "Give me a week or so, if you can. This time? Maybe somewhere that isn't a water park. With real food."

Her attention goes back out to the outside world and she hums. "So is this a formal date, or can I wear this?"

As Clio tucks her hands in her pockets, Mint tucks her hat back onto her head -- and then suddenly finds cause to look down at her messed-up shirt. "... Sheesh. I look like I lost an argument with a road paver." Oversized left hand brushes at the accumulated grit -- the poor garment would probably destroy any washing machine it was placed inside.

"Well, it's still a pretty wild sight to see! My schools just had bunches o' kids with knives... and then there was the brass knuckles, so maybe you're onto somethin' there."

Mint seems to have caught her breath back, and she jogs to catch up with the NOL officer, pretty much giving up on any hopes of looking presentable at the moment. "... Do you -want- it formal? If we're gonna do dinner, I mean..." Her smaller, human-sized hands make counting out fingers a bit easier. One, two, three, four... "Hmm. Well, if we go downtown, there's a few dance clubs we could check out afterwards."

She grins, looking up to Clio.
"So how 'bout we just dress in whatever's comfortable, then?"

Log created on 10:00:27 02/21/2018 by Clio, and last modified on 21:32:41 02/24/2018.