Illyria - Illyria Act 1 - A Matter of Honor

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Description: Tensions are high between the Sacred Order and the NOL, for good reason. Noel Vermillion finds herself under strict orders to escort and observe various Sacred Order operatives, and report back her findings. Driving into a hidden valley between the rolling hills and cliff-face of Illyria, she uncovers a diabolical secret of this place. When the squad of Sacred Order Acolytes she's attached to is ambushed by Whitney, however, Noel must save her charges as a matter of honor. Will she be able to save the Sacred Order... in the valley of the sheep?

Hidden Retreat -Illyria
"Which is worse? A hidden compliment or a blatant lie?"

Each step feels heavier than the rest. For as focused Noel may be, and as dedicated as she may seem, she still was about average for a soldier of NOL. Yet it is her duty, her requirement, that she pushes on. Even then, it is clear that she would only be able to continue for a little longer. Step after step comes and goes, Noel moving with the rest of the escort, keeping pace as she strides astride the rest of the escort. She would do much more here than elsewhere.

Yet where they head is somewhat surprising - down into a valley that is barely noticable, the land curving to seemingly cover itself in a way that would have others assume it ceases. The escort doesn't stall. Down into the valley, the crack in the earth, she would follow - keeping watch as best she could. Jin, after all, would never let her leave if she were to fail. Would she want to face him? A question that couldn't be so easily asked. It would be better to never have to answer it, she decides.

Smiling as she waves to another of the escorts, she tries to stay in high spirits. "It's somewhere here, right?" Noel asks, the squad of Acolytes apparently older, wiser, more seemingly there to guard her than in reverse, Noel stays with her heavy NOL standard coat, almost as if she was chained and bound for their safety. "Wow.. it just keeps going down..."

And her feet hurt oh so badly!

The cleft of earth is rocky, uneven, and then ... it gives way to wonderful luscious grass, endless sheep that move to flock about them, and with so many around, Noel can't help but lean against them. "They're. So. Fluffy...." She swoons, though her words may be drowned out in baaaaaahs. It is... fine that way. This is ok.

A world of lies and deceit. A world of talk and subterfuge. A curious world where enemies push onward, together as one, into the depths of a nation for the purported good of all mankind. What lies does mankind tell itself to avoid the horrors of the depths of its greed and its desire for power?

And lie for what reason, wonders Whitney Saulder as he considers the sheep moving along the paths, watched by him as he sits down on a cliffside ridge, leg kicking idly as he enjoys the view. After all, the sheep of the flocks of two and four legs each simply wish to survive the best they can. And both do so by using the same herd mentalities.

Whitney chastises himself, internally, over his use of dull metaphor, but he doesn't have much to do at the moment but wait and wait and. . .wait.

The American abroad narrows his eyes and leans forward. A wolf appears to walk among the sheep. One wearing a particularly fluffy coat. Whitney Saulder's fingers tap and tip against the stone of the short ridge that's serving as his sitting spot.

What to do, what to do. Whitney considers the problem in front of him, and he finds the solution a direct and simple one. Sliding down the steep rocks and to the ground, he lands with a grunt. He dusts off his pants and straightens up to get a crick out of his spine. "Well, well, now," he drawls in an easy, gentle bass of a voice. "You're the most people I've seen yet." He looks at the Sacred Order contingent, and over to the girl that has his attention. Both uniforms he knows all too well. "I think I've seen you guys before. Librarians, right?" he asks, smiling placidly and pointing with a tourist's gormless interest in a new thing to gawk at.

It's not obvious that Whitney is there. The Acolytes attempt to move forwards, pushing through the sheep. Noel does so also, but at a slower pace. After all, the sheep are super cute. That is a weakness, or perhaps strength? to Noel. It doesn't help though as Whitney decides that it is a moment to speak up. Coated as she is, Noel must stay warm. Her normal attire, made for flexibility, mobility, and also to obscure certain actions, makes it clear she isn't one of the acolytes. A fatal folly, likely.

There seems to be a sudden landslide, Noel's attention causing her to stagger back quickly, sending a sheep bouncing along like some kind of pinball as it baa's into oblivion? for all she knows. It may never stop. Yet it is only a manslide, the man sliding right before them and the acolytes. "Oh did ... did you trip? Are you alright, sir?" She asks, tilting her head - before he answers. Well, his answer is not to answer.

"Oh! Yes, I'm from the Library. We're all - we're actually rather busy at the moment." What for? Well, that is information that is not quickly answered. Noel has many of the Acolytes to account for! She would rather not eat a tongue lashing from Jin, nay, she could not survive to tell such a tale.

"I'm surprised... it's a wonderful scenery, with such cute animals around!" The sheep most certainly are the highlight of Noel's day, as an Acolyte barges through, knocking the sheep over like pins - that begin to roll and bounce backwards. She hardly stifles a giggle.

Walk along little sheep. Whitney has an appointment with the wolf. Or the sheepdog. Whichever metaphor is more apt at the given moment. He smiles, almost beatifically and holds his arms out just slightly at his side.

"I'm quite fine. Enjoying a lovely day as a tourist backpacking through Europe." He says this despite not having a backpack and wearing rumpled business casual clothing. A lie spoken as easily as any truth. If anything, he seems amused at stating something so at odds with the obvious.

"There are many cute animals here. All sorts. And yet, I haven't seen a shepherd for any of the sheep," he says, tapping at his chin and looking around at the acolytes as well as the four legged variety of sheep.

His hands fall back into his pockets, he assumes a curving slouch. "Are you familiar with the Book of John?" he asks Noel, walking closer to her in a shuffle-bump limping manner while the girl laughs at the falling and tumbling sheepies.

Both may be apt, but only one at a time. The sheepdog can hardly be roused and lacks any fangs. The wolf is unrestrained and lacks mercy. Two in the same, though one does not seem to know of the other.

"Oh, it is certainly wonderful, isn't it?" Noel cheerfully asks, smiling wide as she does so. The man may be strange, but Noel is quite a nice person! She certainly isn't distrusting of a man she has no reason to be distrusting of! Especially as it is a wonderful place to backpack, tour, and exist from her eyes! His backpack could be elsewhere. Why should she distrust him at all? The woman is familiar with her missions, and has her concerns... but not immediately! Trained as she was, she wasn't the most diligent member of NOL. Far from it. Kept around for... other reasons.

"Oh, there certainly is." Noel agrees immediately with Whitney's statement, mirroring the one she just said back to him. Truly the most enthralling of conversations. "No? Ah.... I can't say that I am familiar with either..." A terrible non-believer, or not very attentive, person that she is. With The man falling into a relaxed stance, the be-coated and apparently unarmed woman is walked nearby. The acolytes begin to wade through the sheep, so Noel follows them, the waist-high sheep bouncing and bounding around for attention.

They apparently ENJOY being pushed around. Interesting!

"I'm not sure though if I can talk too long, we're a bit busy... I don't want to push you aside, but there's... something we're here to do. It was nice meeting you, however!" She would move to leave, following the acolytes that she had been tasked with, smiling as she would stride through the sheep.

There is some sort of naive doltishness about this NOL girl that Whitney finds, in a dark and twisty way, refreshing. Could someone this blank or naive exist? Someone without mistrust or concern despite knowing full well what they are doing with their virtual invasion of a small nation?

Or maybe it's a terribly clever ruse. Such a puzzle to work and to figure out that stands before Whitney in a tiny blonde package. "Not a believer?" he asks, amused sounding, looking past Noel and toward the Sacred Order acolytes that Noel escorts. "How interesting, seeing as you're with the flock." He cuts the Biblical talk there, though. It's less important when the person involved isn't truly tied in with the church.

"Of course, there's something everyone is there to do. You, your charges, myself. All of this has a great deal of meaning." He smiles toward Noel, a bubbling, dark chuckle crawls up from his throat. "But I cannot make a liar out of you. It's not nice meeting me. I rarely is."

He points idly to the acolytes and the sheep gathered around. "You see, I am here to visit a terrible reality on this pastoral scene," he tells Noel. "I'm going to hurt you, and if you cannot stop me, then the trees nearby will bear a strange and bitter fruit by the morning."

COMBATSYS: Whitney has started a fight here.

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Whitney          0/-------/-======|

As cheerful as she is able, as bright and smiling as possible, and as careful to be nice to others as she can manage, Noel is simply trying to be happy. It is always trying. It isn't always easy. It's still worth it, though. It may be known that it is a virtual invasion, but it is with care that she sees the Acolytes to safety. With understanding that she must, and for others, cannot fail.

The question comes, Noel shaking her head as she strides along forwards, turning slightly to shake her head, beret and all, towards Whitney. "Ah... yes, that's true... it's not a big deal, is it? I'm making sure everything is fine." She lets a little addition slip. It's not too much, she thinks. Especially since this man is seemingly nice. Noel isn't quite theological, she barely push herself to read books to study! To read one she may not believe in... unlikely.

The dark chuckle confuses her, her turning towards Whitney pausing, as does her striding away. Her body tenses, somewhat, though not of her own accord. "Ah...?" It seems to have lost her. He was nice a moment ago! He's smiling! There comes the dark chuckle. The declaration that it is rarely nice meeting him.

"What are you...?" The question is clear as she glances towards the acolytes, before back to Whitney - as he claims that he will... what? The lights in Noel's eyes are confused at first. Less so, when he claims that he will hurt her. The blood sating the trees thirst is barely picked up on, as Noel takes a step back - audibly gasping as Whitney speaks. It is probably for the best. "W-why!? They haven't done anything.. and it was nice talking and now... please, reconsider!"

He may not. Noel, however, cannot turn away from orders, nor shirk her duties. The coat, fluffy as it is, is tossed to the side. A sheep is now fluffier and blue on the outside, weighed down by metallic bits. It baaahs. It is the chosen one.

No weapon. That much is clear at first. Something that changes as her hands stretch out infront of her, seeming to grasp at air. "Bolverk!" Twin green glyphs burn themselves into the air, tracing out the intricate lines of magic as the green lights seem to become solid, floating through the air outwards, towards Whitney. From them, metal. The twin grips of Bolverk are grasped as the green light fades once its job is complete, the hammers of both the guns clashing together as Noel holds them before her, almost in the shape of a cross.

"If you don't..." She knows what will happen. She knows, as well, she will remember none of it when it is all over.

COMBATSYS: Noel has joined the fight here.

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Noel             0/-------/-------|======-\-------\0          Whitney

All are ultimately bound by their duties and their manner. Whether for good or ill, or for any personal definition of right or wrong that individual may have. Some seek happiness. Some try very hard for it. Some are always smiling, no matter what terribly thing that may happen to them, or that they may happen on others.

But even smiling, Whitney Saulder doesn't feel contentment. Just a dull, steady ennui that he has had to swallow every day of his life while those around him find pleasure in sheep and in walking through the Balkans with an expeditionary force. Every moment of her naiveté is equal parts grating and refreshing and somehow that just bothers Whitney all the more.

"They haven't?" he asks. "Don't be so foolish. Each and every one of them is a liar and a scoundrel. Here to take and claim and do so under a holy banner. Don't get me wrong, wanting power, wealth, what have you is all human nature. But they lie about it. Because they're all too damn cowardly to admit the reality in front of their faces without wanting to swallow a bullet."

He steps closer. A sheep is adorned in a fantastic coat. And the guns come to light. Whitney's expression brightens, just for a moment, when he hears the cry. The name of the twin guns in Noel's hands. A name that makes Whitney smile a real smile.

"Honesty," he says, shaking his head. "Well now. I was not expecting that from one of the Librarians. So caught up in their delusions. Yes, yes, what you're about to do does deserve being called evil. The name is so poetic I might actually like you." His smile falls away. "Pity then, that they paid me to kill you."

Whitney moves like a shot. Past the sheep, vaulting one, getting in close and rushing the woman with the guns with a darkly reckless abandon. He throws himself at her. Two knees, one after the other, piston toward her chest. The aim to knock her skyward. Knock her skyward enough to grab her and bring her back down to the ground with a crushing force.

COMBATSYS: Whitney successfully hits Noel with Painful Nuance.

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Noel             0/-------/----===|=======\-------\1          Whitney

He speaks, but the words begin to mean less. The words that she is foolish, that she is a fool, are all too correct. Perhaps she is. Though the acolytes had seemed nice, friendly, even if they were a bit at odds with her at times. Still, the sheep surround her, surround him, and it is all growing so very close as the acolytes move further away. Sheep they may be, but they attempt to avoid the slaughter. To swallow a bullet? Would they?

Would he?

The moment he steps closer, Noel stiffens. His words swim around her as she finds herself falling. Falling into her pupils as they swell within her eyes. Evil. Kill. Error. There is no evil. Error. This unit cannot accept termination. All thoughts that simply make no sense. Why would she ever think of herself, or that, in such a way?

Then even her thoughts are gone.

The pupils, dilated as large as they were, seperate. Whitney is in motion, shooting forth, closing in on her. Both knees slam towards her. The woman is rigid, still. Up until the knees strikes. Slamming into the woman, throwing her backwards before she is brought downwards towards the ground, a heavy strike that brings her to the ground and multiple sheep tumbling.

Her body ragdolls. A wordless cry of pain as it seems to react as a human might to such pain.

Yet, even then, her guns raises upwards towards Whitney's chest. The pain is barely noted. The bruises and wounds that have been inflicted, irrelevant to her form. Two green rings surround the pinpoint pupils, focusing upon Whitney. Both barrels of the Bolverk discharge, firing towards Whitney's chest, runic symbols searing into the air as it explodes outwards.

COMBATSYS: Whitney blocks Noel's Type XI - Optic Barrel.

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Noel             0/-------/---====|=======\-------\1          Whitney

Dumbfounded, it seems. Strange. She was so talkative. And yet she's so swiftly gone rigid and defiant against the assault. Still gaining her feet under her when Whitney strikes. At least she calls out in pain. That much is human in her. And that much is a good deal more human in many ways when compared to the man she's pitted against.

The guns come up. Whitney slams his hand into the gun barrels, twisting his body. The chi bullets bursting outward. He grits his teeth into a rictus grin at the searing pain of the chi burst so close to him. But it's not a direct hit. And the fleeting moment of emotion brought of physical pain is past.

And with that passing comes a new strike. A turning kick, quick and inside. A scuffed and half-cared for dress shoe spiking toward Noel's belly. Whitney fights close in for a tall man, under his oversized clothing is a stronger man than he appears. Up close and personal, he likes to see the resolve in his opponent's eyes. As he can see them in a moment truth unshackled from the delusions of a future. But here he sees glyphs and arcana. It's different, but it doesn't matter to find out now. He has his task ahead of him.

COMBATSYS: Noel interrupts Quick Kick from Whitney with Type VI - Spring Raid.

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Noel             0/-------/=======|=======\===----\1          Whitney

Hands clog gun-barrels. If it's a comedy, the laugh track plays. Yet they do so with purpose. The woman beneath needed space. Space is provided. It's not something she was given. It was something she takes. As Whitney grits his teeth, it's not something that Noel, or whatever Noel seems to be now, reacts to. Her thoughts all wash away and into a calm space she retreats. It is wonderful. The lambs are playing, the sheep are baaahing. There is not violence.

The turning kick, quick as it was, twists around to strike Noel and her stomach. The woman realizes it as he doesn't seem to make any space. No true space. Her body bends beneath the assault, the first movement being reacted to. She is aware the strike is swung in a way that would make it more painful if her attempt failed. The error is within the limits of failure.

So the attempt is made, full well with knowledge that things have progressed negatively.

The limb swings out as Noel's body, her stomach, meets it. Her body twists as well, hands on the ground pushing herself upwards, the barrels of bolverk glimmering as they fire her off the ground. Stremas of energy that are twisted with her feet towards Whitney's own midsection. The second that the impact from Whitney slams into Noel's own solar plexus, her body reacts as if a knee, or other nerve center, is struck. The moment the comnpression of the barrel is heard, Whitney would feel that foot.

The burning energy, the twisting limb, the sudden spiraling form of the Librarium second Lieutenant as she rose upwards with him into the sky in a full revolution before twisting to a stop afterwards, landing with an imprint of his foot in her midsection. It would hurt. It would hurt her greatly. Later.

"It is advisable for you to cease all hostilities." She declares in a mono-tone voice, clearly hers but so far away. Multi-ringed eyes stare upon Whitney, as if the woman became more of a weapon in the span of a moment or two than that within her hands. The Nox Nyctores, as they are, do nothing good for the wielder. The misfortunate is not limited to just the bearer.

The woman seemed frail. Easy to overwhelm. To crush under heel. A simple thing to crumple and toss aside en route to other targets. It wouldn't have been uncommon for an organization like the NOL to use fodder to guard their erstwhile allies in the SO. Two organizations that have any overlap in jurisdiction tended to wish to undermine the other. The nature of allies the world over, as far as Whitney was concerned.

But in this case, the summation of the threat was ill-considered. The kick hits, but the woman appears to be spaced. Beyond the pain in a way that Whitney would find respectable if it wasn't so infuriating. An emotion that he could feel, and one he felt so very often. He channels it into his blow.

And in turn, the living weapon transfers so much more into him. The barrels fire. The force shatters his closeness. He hurtles backward. Baa-ing sheep clatter and run. Following into the fields the chosen of the sheep cloaked in the blue coat. Today, at least one being in the colors of the NOL will lead their flock to safety.

Godspeed little sheep.

And then the woman advises Whitney. Whitney Saulder. Whitney Saulder who flips back up to his feet, hands sliding in his pockets. Slouching, breathing. His chest rises and falls. Exposed through the tatters of the dress shirt rent asunder by the blast. Speckles, rivulets of blood run down his chest and back from the blast and the ensuing scraping tumble over the stones. Whitney Saulder whose dead, cold, empty eyes look back at the woman turned weapon.

"Then I shall," he says. True to his word, he aims to cease the hostilities and to do so in the only way he knows how. He tilts forward, running. Hands still in his pockets until he gets up in and close once more to Noel's reach. Hands come out. They reach for the woman. One to her right wrist. The other palming for her face.

COMBATSYS: Whitney successfully hits Noel with All Things Must Pass.

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Noel             1/--=====/=======|-------\-------\0          Whitney

Whitney's hand grips Noel's wrist. A quick twist, digging his nails into the soft underside of Noel's wrist. A wristlock is such a simple thing. A tight hold on the body. And with it, a striking palm simply mashes into Noel's face.

Then another palm. Then another. And another. And another. He doesn't release. Each strike that may send Noel back just ends in her being pulled closer to him to be met with another striking against the small bones of her face. Over and over again. Each strike met with a blazing fury just boiling underneath the larger man's eyes. The veneer of humanity is let slip and the brute is open.

When he tires, he pulls Noel up once again and hoists her up onto his shoulders. With an angry huff, she's lifted over his head and his rage sates itself when he drives Lieutenant Vermillion to the ground like a spear.

Fodder. Aptly, Noel was only considered part of the NOL due to her being, even remotely, a benefit for them. An event weapon had chosen her. Her skill with chi based weaponry had exceeded their wildest dreams. Such things are not lightly taken. Yet the ability of the woman was not considered fully. Was it a mistake, or was it more likely that she had something hidden within her? Clearly, it would need to be brought out. Extrenuous circumstances that required every little bit of her to be put to the task.

How could they know that Bolverk, as well, made it so every fiber would be?

With Whitney hurtling backwards, Noel's landing is one with space, among the sheep a wolf who's fangs have finally been bared. The Blue sheep would serve the herd better than the rest of NOL. Perhaps a sheep would one day aquire an event weapon. Become a hero among all sheep. Lead them to a fluffy and lovely future, lacking all trappings from that the current administration desired.

He shall. The man runs. Noel's eyes make note of this. Oh. He dives in closer, attempting to reach for her wrist. For her face. His lead seems slow.

It would not be so obvious.

Noel's body stiffens once more, legs pulling backwards, a glyph underneath her spinning into existance as Whitney grows closer. It's not enough. The hand grips the wrist, and the worst of it occurs. The damage to Noel's face is extensive. Palm after palm, until it's a bloody pulp, almost. A stream of blood that washes over her unkempt face as she is hoised up onto shoulders and then she is driven into the ground, her neck nearly bending, shattering, from the assault.

The extensive pain may take ages to deal with - the mending, potentially months.

Somhow, she rises from the assault. As if she had a death-wish. Perhaps it is closer than it seems. A broken doll that raises its arms once more - the gun shaped form of Bolverk aiming towards Whitney and then suddenly springing to life, the gun more of a roaring cannon or chain-gun than anything else, physically shifting as the streaming pulp of face looks on, wordlessly, bloody matted hair and outfit marked by auric gunfire, bolt after bolt firing.

COMBATSYS: Whitney blocks Noel's Zero Gun - Fenrir.

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Noel             0/-------/--=====|-------\-------\0          Whitney

Into the mouth of death rode the six hundred.

Hand red with blood. Shirt torn, face and front speckled with red. Human weapons. Unfeeling tools on opposite sides. They both bleed red and in this moment neither truly feel. Whitney Saulder looks at the crumpled body in the dirt. It was time to move on to the acolytes.

Stirring? Whitney didn't expect this. He turns back to see the robotic rise of the woman he had, to his mind, assured would drown in her own blood before stand against him. And yet there she was. Surging onward.

The guns roared. The air filled with energy, smoke, dirt, a blinding spray from a single woman's artillery barraged aimed right solid at the man not terribly far away. Grapeshot at ten paces. Most people would have been rightly reduced to fine pink mist.

Plunged in the battery-smoke.

For a man with no visible weaponry, no blast of chi power or soul might seen, Whitney Saulder is still a Fighter. He storms through the barrage, head down, swaying, shots glancing off his side, searing energy tearing at him but not stopping his relentless oncoming nature. He bursts from the fog of war to once more close in on Noel Vermillion.

Into the jaws of Death, into the mouth of hell.

Close in, Whitney's hand knifes. Focused, pointed, going for the throat. A strong tap to the neck to choke. And following, a facial grab, to hurl the woman back, back into the rocky cliffside along the winding path. To dash her head and hopes against the land she wished to march into.

COMBATSYS: Whitney successfully hits Noel with Risk Assessment.

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Noel             1/-------/=======|=------\-------\0          Whitney

The gunfire fails to fell Whitney, as he manages to storm through the barrage with not even a slight hint at stopping. It seems Noel was entirely outmatched. As he bursts from the fog of war to close in on her, the knives, hands perhaps just as sharp, aim for her neck to chock - to grab - to hurl her into the cliffside and dash her head.

The impact is made as the gunfire dies down, Bolverk unable to hold any longer as it upsets her movement, unable to allow her to right herself. The impact is more than enough as the facial grab grasps the already frail, already damaged, woman, and slams the head straight into the cliffside. With the very last of her strength, the very last of her artificial drive, the gun is one again raised towards Whitney - a shotgun formation - as she falls forwards, staggering, before collapsing. It is possible she would catch herself - if the strength had not entirely left her.

COMBATSYS: Noel keeps on fighting!

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Noel             0/-------/=======|=------\-------\0          Whitney

COMBATSYS: Whitney blocks Noel's Type XVII - Chamber Shot.

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Noel             1/-------/=======|=------\-------\0          Whitney

Thrown aside. Beaten against the rocks in literal and figurative ways. The tide of fire abates and Whitney finds himself wounded, but still with the energy to hunt down the fleeing acolytes. Without their sheepdog, they would bleat tonight.

He walks away, staggering in his shuffle-bump manner. But then the sound of a racking shotgun and he turns about. Still standing. Still fighting. After all that. "What does it matter to you?" he asks, trying, needing to understand the will this woman has to fight him. "You'll find yourselves rivals soon enough."

The blasting of the gun and Whitney rolls forward into it. Anything to keep his front from taking yet another blast of the sheer force welled up inside the unemotive woman. His back torn, he rolls to his feet and is already onto Noel. His heel striking for her knees, his hands clapping together at the temples of her head.

What does it take to put a wolf in sheep's clothing to sleep?

COMBATSYS: Noel parries Whitney's Debts Paid!

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Noel             1/------=/=======|===----\-------\0          Whitney

It isn't will. It isn't purpose.

It is just the true nature of the doll. There is nothing else to it. Still bleeding profusedly, Noel can barely focus. That she even rises once more is a testament to the strength of the Nox Nyctores, and perhaps to her creators. If she really was created. A moot point to herself. She remembers it as much as she will remember the fight. "Ir-relevant." The strained voice burbles, blood mixing with saliva as she fights to breath. Yet she fights to, potentially, death.

Not the most useful of talents. Yet one that she finds herself having. Perhaps it is the brain trauma that she may have gained. Perhaps it was the violence that was inflicted so clearly upon her.

Yet Whitney rolls into it, and he strikes for her knees, once more, hands clapping at her head to follow up with. The impact of the hands are clean. The impact against her knees, all the same. Yet there is a glyph there, between Noel and Whitney. A different make and intensity than she has provided previously. A notorious azureblue color. Green eyes flicker to blue for a moment, a surge of something nameless twisting bolverk forwards - forming a different weapon - Bolverk lengthening except for the tip which bulbs outwards - the head of a rocket. At point blank range.

There is no hesitation, for herself of Whitney, as the trigger is pulled.

"T-this is my task."

The explosion that follows, with or without Whitney, will swallow at least one sheep.

COMBATSYS: Noel successfully hits Whitney with Zero Gun - Thor EX.

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Noel             0/-------/-----==|===----\-------\0          Whitney

Bolverk. A name taken by Odin as a disguise in the annals of Norse mythology. Translated directly to mean something akin to evil-doer. Violence taken on. A woman made a doll made a weapon. A tool in the hands of an organization that may very well embody the things that Whitney Saulder cannot stand. The bald-face lie that is the NOL's message to the masses that hides a predator's lusts.

And yet the weapon is named so perfectly that Whitney Saulder can respect it. Of all things on Heaven and Earth. And when that weapon shifts, alters to become a rocket. He can only think for a moment how fitting it all is that this creature should go to these lengths to protect the very people said creature will invariably consume for its own purposes.

The explosion consumes sheep and Saulder. The fiery aftermath scattered and torn. A war fought on a simple country road. And yet Saulder still stands. There is little left in his eyes as he moves forward. His hands outstretch. He says nothing, seems to feel nothing. Just presses forward, hands reaching outward to take Noel Vermillion's throat in a tight grip. And to squeeze until everything stops.

COMBATSYS: Noel dodges Whitney's Dissonant Mercy. Whitney does, however, successfully hit a sheep!

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Noel             0/-------/-----==|=====--\-------\0          Whitney

It is NOL's and no other claim is to be accepted until all forms of deferment, flesh, blood, and soul are spent.

As the explosion consumes sheep and man, leaving Noel somehow unscathed from that, specific, explosion, the twin guns of Bolverk shrink once more. Striding forwards, the hands once more come outwards, towards her. The doll reacts as dolls tend to. With a will that is not her own. Muscles push overexerted sinew to the side, or at least, attempts to. The grip around her neck attempts to do otherwise.

What happens is not intended. What happens is not expected. There is a flash of blue. Not from Noel's own eyes, but from the fluffy coat that would suddenly come into view between Whitney and Noel. The coat clad sheep leaps forwards as Noel staggers to the side, bloody, beaten, and exhausted. It is supposed to be over. It is supposed to have ended. Yet Whitney's hands grasp hold of a sheep's neck. Squeezing.

The becoated sheep may give it all as the grasp tightens. Noel's own neck is spared.

The doll does not react. It is a nightmare if Noel herself notices, hears, the strangled baaahing of a potentially sacrificial lamb.

Noel is no longer infront of Whitney. A flash of blue once more brings the woman suddenly behind the man. "Type V - Assault Through."

Her sudden arrival, in a blur, is shared with the clash of the hammers of Bolverk, a surge of the blue energy from the mechanism engulfing her side as she moves to impact Whitney - to unbalance him before thrusting a leg out towards his form and strike him away, twisting in her position. The blood is drying now. Noel doesn't notice. For now.

COMBATSYS: Whitney fails to counter Type V - Assault Through from Noel with Pointed Rebuttal.

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

COMBATSYS: Whitney can no longer fight.

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

A bleat. A snap. Everything in a tunnel. Focused on the one simple target to clear before the others have to be handled. Thoughts a roiling rage and bloodlust. Unknowing and uncaring. A sacrificial lamb of the most literal sort may have just saved the lives of many.

Saulder flings the sheep aside. He looks left and he looks right. That wasn't the sheepdog. He turns around, looking over his shoulder to see the woman. He snaps. Twisting, thumb out to impale itself into the eye of the young Lieutenant. A dirty maneuver, but one meant for effectiveness, not honor.

But she's too close. She's quick. And the blast does everything it intends to. The hired killer is sent scattering into the fields, rolling over faltering to the side. Into the grass.

Today, he thinks, he has met something honest. Something respectable. He couldn't finish her, not today. A cough as he looks at the blackness encroaching in the corners of his eyes. He spits blood through his teeth. "Your flock is gone," he states to the air. "While I've bothered you, what else could be waiting up ahead while they panicked?" He spits to the side, coughs again. He looks through a hazy eye and wonders if the wolf or the sheepdog would make itself dominant while he lay in the grass.

The impact causes Noel, as well, to stagger as she comes to a stop. Bolverk, still held in her hands, no longer burns bright with color. Eyes empty of the rings, what little surge of blue once more surrendering to green. A question is asked of the woman who stands, teetering, as that blood is spit through teeth. No will to fight, no energy to fight, remains in the woman as she takes a step backwards and topples over, rolling twice to a stop.

There is no need to wonder. "Eh... Ah!?" A gasp, a cry of pain, shuddering. Noel wakes up to a world of suffering. "What has... did I ....?" Whitney also seems to be against the ground, the woman's panicked eyes darting to and fro.

Far from even a sheepdog now. "My legs... they're okay? I hope they are... a a-h.. m-my face...." It doesn't get any better as Noel begins to wake up to the worst of it, crawling forwards, towards the flock, through the flock. To get away from Whitney, to hide from him, to pull away and to find the others so they can nurse, or at least assist, her. The woman has no fight left in her. It seems impossible that she had fight in her to begin with. Tears streak down the marred and bloody face as she moves through sheep, hands clawing into dirt and grass to try and escape.

Even now, she fears the man - for the pain in her is plenty, and the man still subsists, even as he bleeds.

COMBATSYS: Noel has ended the fight here.

The wolf didn't have the strength to end him. No matter. The risk has been considered. The danger has been assessed. The purpose of terror and assessment has been met today. The job isn't done, not quite yet, but he has a very very interesting individual to talk about with the others of the Illuminati.

And Whitney, as he lay on the grasses, staring up at the sky, smiles. Oh yes. He has found something, someone, to consider. He will have to visit her again. He wants to see those eyes change color up close. To see the weapon become the woman as his hands hold a vice around her throat. To wonder, as it all fades away, which is the lie and which is the real.

"I have to know," Whitney whispers to the air before his consciousness fades away to a silent and still black.

Log created on 21:23:06 03/13/2018 by Whitney, and last modified on 11:46:35 03/16/2018.