Description: A routine night on patrol at the Southtown NOL Base becomes anything but for Private First Class Renka Kaneko. Her guard duty interrupted by a forgotten legend bearing cryptic warnings, the NOL soldier moves to put herself between this unknown threat and her comrades, no matter the price.
The Novus Orbis Librarium presented the world with what seemed to be a conflict of interests. On one hand, it was a highly trained, para-military organization that specialized in the securing of dangerous magical artifacts and tracking down and capturing monstrous darkstalkers. Yet... to accomplish its stated mission, the NOL also curiously employed both magic users and darkstalkers.
Case in point, one Private First Class Renka Kaneko, now returned home from her tour of duty far off in Europe. Even at first glance, one would notice that the NOL soldier isn't a normal human. For starters, she isn't wearing the beret common to the NOL uniform, likely because of the two tall, pointed ears jutting up out of her long mane of light, reddish hair. And secondly because swaying at her back as she walks slowly along her patrol route outside the Command Center is a pair of vulpine tails, the same light golden red as her hair but for the white tips.
Clearly one of the fight fire with fire weapons within the Librarium, Private Kaneko maintains a quiet, lonely patrol around the secured building, a lengthy naginata on her right shoulder. Physiological differences free her of the burdens of sleep that her fellow human troops require which seems to have earned her a lot of extra night shifts on patrol around the base. SOMEONE has to do it after all, may as well be the one that won't ever complain about a sleep schedule being disrupted or doze off due to the routine boredom associated with the assignment.
It's not like the base has ever actually been attacked since its construction came to an end a few months ago. While the NOL operated like a military, its soldiers were deployed at the behest of the Japanese law enforcement or called into assist the nation's national guard in situations that stray into the supernatural. As such, few humans had interest in attacking the place, and it's likely darkstalkers not employed by the organization would prefer to stay as bloody far away from the base as possible.
Afterall, darkstalkers had no rights in Japan and those captured by the NOL would vanish into its detention centers... some never to be heard of again.
The fox-featured soldier is dressed in the usual casual uniform for female enlisted. A single piece dress that reached down to mid-thigh, long sleeves, the primary color was blue with white highlights and borders. Proudly displayed on the right breast of the uniform was a small ribbon awarded for her tour of duty in Illyria. The first of many the green eyed monster hoped to earn in her service to the Librarium.
Service had its privileges for something like her, of course. Not only was she paid, but she was afforded the same rights and protections under the law as any human within the nations the Librarium had treaties with. While no one could force people to treat her nicely, she was at least in no danger of being arrested... of course, there was always the risk that vigilante monster hunters might not care who she worked for.
Even on dull patrol, she is attentive. Her ears pivot here and there, reacting to every minute sound throughout the outpost. Her nose was also remarkably sensitive, though that often came as a drawback when confronted with strong, unpleasant smells. The night was young, she would have many hours left before she'd be relieved at dawn. Someday, she could hope, she would be promoted to more prestigious duty. But until then... she marched.
There is a certain sense of security inherent in any group setting. Whether it be a cluster of cattle, a battalion of soldiers, or a pack of wolves, many creatures have evolved to instinctively feel safer in packs. It does not matter that such safety has become more an illusion than not, most cling to it all the same. After all, better to die fighting alongside one's comrades than alone, even if modern assault rifles would do little to stop a tactical nuke, or a wrathful gear commander.
But what of those who are left outside of the pack? Those that are never quite accepted by their peers. Those unlucky few find themselves alone, and must either grow strong enough to survive, or fade away to obscurity.
The warm summer wind gusts gently across the base, flapping flags and tugging lightly at Renka's hair and skirt. Up until now it has been her only companion on this long, repetitive walk, carrying upon it the expected smells of sweat, asphalt, and exhaust. All is as it should be.
Up ahead, the steady thock, thock, thock of regular footsteps slowly encroach upon the fox-featured soldier's senses as someone makes their way toward the front entrance of the base. Odd for this time of night, but not unheard of. What IS odd is the solidity of the steps. Each impact is loud and sharp, echoing with the resounding impact of something hard striking pavement rather than the soft sole of a foot or boot.
It is only once Renka has rounded the next corner that the mystery walker resolves into a distantly approaching figure clad head to toe in armor, the surrounding floodlights reflecting back from glossy white plates of hard, smooth material. Though still a good ways off, it is clear that the figure is tall, much taller than the average man, with its face masked beneath a single plate of featureless white armor. Completely disregarding any cameras or caution that might be expected of it, the figure strides forward toward the base with single-minded focus, hands at its sides and blank face tilting up to scan the upper windows.
Sometimes there were things going on at the base at night. Though most of the hustle and bustle of base operations were carried out under the light of day, sometimes shipments of supplies arrived at night, or officers returned from whatever missions took them away, or perhaps there was simply some form of communication that couldn't wait until morning. Hearing someone else moving about wasn't inherently a cause for concern.
But Renka's sense of hearing didn't just let her hear sounds from further out. She could hear the texture of sounds, the difference between shoes, boots, and bare feet on the pavement surrounding the Command Center. The nuances that differentiated the step of a tall individual or short, of a light person verses one bearing more than average pounds. She could hear the cadence of their breathing to determine if they were moving at a pace far more brisk than their cardiovascular system was accustomed to, of if slow, controlled breaths accompanied a brisk pace to suggest peak physical condition.
In short, Renka could, by footsteps alone, pick out dozens of individuals she knew on the base in an instant. And with more active concentration, that list expanded to include to dozens more.
And everything she was hearing about the approaching individual was wrong. Eyes close for a moment, her left hand, clad in a blue glove with white fingers, lowering to the belt that fits sung around her slender waist where a radio was secured. Her ears lean forward as she focuses, slowing her steps. Where was the breath? The sound of bone moving within flesh? What could explain the sense of echo about the sounds?
Her right hand, in a matching glove to her left, tightens as Renka slips forward, preparing to scout around the corner, eyes open once more. She sniffs at the air. The scent of violence is adrift but no hint as to the nature of the unknown visitor.
At last, the NOL Private steps around to let her eyes fill in what her other senses had been unable to. The sight she beholds is immediately identified as trouble, as if her instincts weren't already warning her.
With a shrug, she pivots her spear shaft under her right shoulder, pointed tip forward, her left hand seizing the radio from her side to bring it up closer to her left cheek. The soldier is a slender figure, not quite five and a half feet tall. Long hair drapes down against her shoulders and back, two long, thin pony pig-tails on either side of her head, and long locks, rest against the front of her shoulders. The NOL was never particularly strict about hairstyles... likely a byproduct of employing so many non-humans in its ranks.
"Halt!" Renka calls toward the advancing figure. She doesn't appear to have a firearm on hand, though there is a sword sheathed at her left side.
The button on her radio is pressed. She's definitely going to have to call this one in.
Thock, Thock, Thock.
Three more steps are taken by the armored figure before Renka releases her shouted order, bringing the full attention of the walking figure crashing down upon her. Not one, not two, but 7 sets of glowing red eyes all swivel toward the woman in perfect sink, scattered across the stranger's armored form at regular intervals. Half a moment later the head turns to follow their gaze, bracketing the fox girl's slender silhouette in the spiked horns that jut up and forward from either side.
A slender figure. Red haired. That uniform...
Whatever spell had brought the figure up short breaks as it tilts its head to the side, the posture somehow managing to convey an aloof disregard to the threat posed by she who would stand in its way. Still, it doesn't approach just yet, standing in full view beneath the light cast by an overhanging lamp.
"You are one who serves the Novus Orbis Librarium, despite knowing what they have done to those of your kind."
The voice that emerges from within the armor is by no means friendly, hard and full of accusation beneath the reverberating static of electronics. There is rage hidden within that voice. Rage, and pride, and rigid conviction. But oddly, very little of it seems directed at the woman who's weapon now points toward him.
"Call your fellows if you must, but know that those you summon will die due only to your choice." Taking a heavy step forward, the towering figure of Hakumen closes upon Renka, the light breeze pushing at his loose black leggings and plucking at the long silver hair that flows from the back of his helmet. "I have come seeking answers, and You, will not stop me from obtaining them. You will tell me first what shift in fate has caused this place to be. Who is responsible for creating the Novus Orbis Librarium?"
Though the final sentence is posed as a question, it comes across much more like a demand, the ominous figure continuing to close the distance on Renka while every one of his many eyes bore into her with unblinking judgement.
The initial declaration is direct and to the point. In the eyes of most supernatural creatures, the uniform she wears identifies her to be the worst kind of being - a traitor of one's own kind. In the detention center beneath this very base are housed darkstalkers from the surrounding region identified as dangerous. She, herself, had access to a database of known threats in large city of Southtown that were to be apprehended on sight. And several threats to society that were wanted alive... or dead. With his first words, he cuts to the core of Private Kaneko's own struggle for survival.
But what is this that accuses her so? A monster? A robot? There is a lack of humanity in the presence of this armored one, and the movement of the eyes over the surface of his hard body imply a creature that is far from human.
"There is nothing ignoble in taking a stand against predators." Private Kaneko replies. Though her words may sound defensive, her tone reflects something deeper than that - a conviction in what she says, far stronger than her single reply could possibly communicate.
He warns her that whoever she calls would be rushing out to their deaths and that it would be her fault for sounding the alarm and with that declaration, the Enigma in White's crimson eyes would finally see the lone guard flinch.
He advances a step and she tenses. If she intends to put the bladed polearm to use, she'll need both of her hands, but for now she just has it propped beneath her shoulder, held by her right hand while her left grasps her radio.
Further demands are issued as she is told that she will explain is to blame for the Novus Orbis Librarium's spread throughout the world in this timeline, about who stretched out their hand to establish the organization responsible for so much suffering in another place to exist here as well.
Even with the long span of years the fox-tailed creature has lived, she is truly a being of this world and timestream, lacking any idea that there could possibly be anything else out there, that this own world's history has been tampered to the degree that almost no one on the planet is aware of the redactions that have been made to its history.
And somehow, she doesn't imagine the figure in armor is here to get information that could be easily found in the NOL recruitment brochures... no, his inquiry seemed to strike a more personal investment than that.
But none of that could matter. Drawing her lips back, baring her white teeth with long canines, Renka growls. Her thumb flicks across a switch on her radio then she affixes it back to her belt, freeing her left hand so that she can finally draw her naginata and hold it properly. Her feet slip apart a little as she leans forward slightly, braced behind the heft of her weapon, adopting a ready stance that has the bladed tip angled out toward the intruder.
But the more curious detail is nine whisps of blue fire that snap into existence around the fox-eared girl, forming a swarm that maintains a half orbit behind and above the back of her head. Each spark begins to burn with greater intensity, each casting its azure glow on the back of Renka or against the pavement beneath her feet. Eight of the spheres are roughly the same size, while the ninth, central most orb is about three times the size of the rest.
Fangs bared, both literally and figuratively, Private Kaneko barks out a command of her own, "You will heel, drop prone, and spread your arms out at your sides. You are under arrest for trespassing secured grounds." The orbs swirl behind her back with slow, lazy motions most of the time, with the occasional flicker of more rapid bursts of speed in the mix.
"Failure to comply will make me to respond with force."
Maybe now he'll realize how much trouble he's in!
With the abandoning of the radio and the sudden appearance of Renka's mysterious blue orbs, a figurative line is drawn in the sand. A line that Hakumen is all to willing to cross, his pace unfaltering in the face of the fox girl's savage demands. Sharp teeth and sharper spear may be turned against him, but he seems intent on closing the distance.
"If you truly believe in the cause of the Librarium, then you are a fool." Hakumen pronounces coldly, his words as bluntly self-assured as hers are idealistic.
% Twenty Five Feet.
"But that does not matter." the white demon continues, right hand reaching over his shoulder to grip something that had been hidden behind his head up until now. "It is clear that you do not know the truth behind the organization that you so blindly serve. It will be little use talking to you."
Metal scrapes upon metal as Hakumen straightens his arm, inch after inch of gleaming silver emerging from behind him as he draws free the long, thin blade of Okami. When at last he swings his hand around to face front, he holds in one hand a sword longer than Renka is tall, its faintly curved blade angled up toward the dark sky above.
When next the armored intruder speaks, his words start quiet, meant only for himself though the fox-eared soldier can no doubt hear him. it is only near their conclusion that they gain substance and volume, the mantra spoken with all the force and conviction of a true legend.
"I am the White Void. I am the Cold Steel. I am the Just Sword...With blade in hand I will reap the sins of this world and cleanse it in the Fires of Destruction! I am Hakumen!"
Very little distance now separates Renka from her opponent, and the air between them practically hums with the force of his will. For most, such a thing might be an exaggeration, but the Private's finely tuned senses can detect the strength of his conviction forcing the world around him into greater solidity. Colors become more sharply defined. Shadows hard edged. Every sound becomes crisp and clear, the wind stilling in his presence. By simply existing he brings greater Order to everything around him.
If only she knew the truth. That this is but a shadow of the legendary hero that once fought to save humanity.
perhaps it is better that she does not.
"And you've come to prove the superiority of your cause by the edge of a sword?" Renka replies. The small, armed NOL foot soldier glares back at the small swarm of sanguine eyes embedded in the seamless surface of white. At her back, her pair of tails swish out to either side and for a moment, her pointed ears seem to flick about, pivoting to other angles, listening for any evidence that this recklessly bold individual has not come alone. But no, it seems he isn't just a distraction...
"I know the truth of what it does for me." There is a blink then, a narrowing of one eye, and a faint frown that is less focused on the figure drawing near and more on whatever thoughts are going through her mind.
"Or is that something that bothers you - that my kind can find a place in the world of humans through the NOL?" There's a mixture of judgment and expectation to her voice, as if the accusation is one born of prior experience. The nine spheres continue to oscillate behind her back, each formed of small parts of so many human psyches collected by the innocent looking soul vampire. Could he even be human, himself? What kind of monster is he?
There would be no reply to her words as the mantra begins and Renka's eyes narrow. With a blade in hand, his continued approach makes his intention clear. Striking first was a choice made in reluctance. Most people eyed her with enough suspicion without her making it worse by drawing first blood anytime a conflict brewed. It's only natural, they would say among themselves, that the darkstalker would attack first, either because of her inherently violent nature, her likely thirst for blood, or simply because she was so simpleminded she resorted to violence when trying to work things out with words was clearly beyond her capabilities.
But the uneasiness in her stomach is not just because she knows she will have to make good on her word to strike. It's the presence of this stalker that truly steals her breath.
Private Kaneko braces herself, sucking in her breath and holding it, hands sliding into position along the long shaft of her naginata. She enlisted to protect people and darkstalkers alike from the predators among both their kind. She took an oath, she gave her word, and now she finds herself between the Command Center and this one.
The danger around him is palpable. Old instincts tell her to escape, to dart away, to deploy every artifice in her arsenal to vanish from out of this creature's way. But if she did that, she may as well discard the uniform itself and retreat to the wilds once more.
"I warned you," she replies with the reluctant growl of one not eager to fight but clearly resigned to its inevitability. The nine spheres burn brighter now, though there is not one iota of heat emanating from them.
Braced, tensed, breath now held, she is tightly wound up and ready to move.
Hakumen takes one more step and Renka Kaneko bursts forward, the blade of her naginata bursting into blue fire every bit lacking in heat as her foxfire spheres. She rushes forward, just askew from a direct collision course, the trajectory of her dash aiming to take her just barely to his left while she slashes out with her cool blazing weapon in passing!
COMBATSYS: Renka has started a fight here.
COMBATSYS: Hakumen has joined the fight here.
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Hakumen 0/-------/-------|=------\-------\0 Renka
COMBATSYS: Renka successfully hits Hakumen with The Lonesome Road EX.
- Power hit! -
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Hakumen 0/-------/-----==|=------\-------\0 Renka
There is a singular moment between breaths, a splinter of time full of infinite possibilities, where Renka hovers mid dash, blue energy frozen around her weapon and long hair stretching out behind her like a banner. In that moment, the fate of their clash is decided, one of innumerable possibilities settling into place.
Attacked in mid step, Hakumen twists his upper body to meet Private Kaneko's charge, overlong sword whispering through the air to intercept the blade of her Naginata. However, instead of catching her strike, the edge of his blade slams squarely into the base of her own, driving it up away from his armored side so that the burning point dances in beneath his upraised arm. rather than tearing across his side, her weapon instead plunges through the black material armoring his ribs, slamming six inches deep through the extremely tough, cloth-like material into what should be his heart. As the attack is driven home, the blade of his sword slides along the length of her weapon, grinding off of the blade and down the shaft with a rough hiss.
At the exact same moment, the monster's left arm, still blurring up, straightens at the elbow, stretching out parallel above her spear. Two red eyes glare from the back of his hand as it accelerates toward the side of her head, attempting to tread blow for blow, heart wound to backhanded smack in an almost contemptuous dismissal.
Hit or miss, the strength of their clash forces Hakumen to twist away, the fox-eared Private's spear tearing free from his side with no sign of mortal wounding.
"You have some skill." Hakumen states, harsh tones gaining the first hint of respect as his many red eyes shift to follow his opponent, "That is good. I have been dormant for too long. I am in need of someone with which to test my limits."
Turning his wounded left side toward Renka, Hakumen allows his sword to drop low, blade angled down and back while his left forearm lifts in a loose guard before him. Though many of the eyes on his armor shift to keep track of her, others move about to peer in all directions, the fiend's blank face turning to peer back toward the front of the complex.
"You accuse me of seeking combat, but it is you who should welcome this fight. This is why the Librarium has leashed you, is it not? You exist to fight. You exist to capture and torture your kin. You exist to feed."
The eyes located on the back of Hakumen's hand shift to follow the blue orbs that stay close behind the fox girl, the monster's rough voice quietly cold, even taunting.
COMBATSYS: Hakumen successfully hits Renka with Backhand.
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Hakumen 0/-------/-----==|====---\-------\0 Renka
The long weapon wielded by the NOL recruit adds power to her slashes and stabs due to the ability to use its lengthy shaft as a lever, and of course it affords her significant reach well beyond the extent of her limbs. But what it is perhaps less suited for is point blank, instantaneous defense, especially when she's already committed her all to an attack. Even as her blue flaming tip buries itself into the white arm in what was clearly capable of being a fight ending blow against more mortal foes the soldier might encounter, he retaliates with dismissive but no less powerful counterforce. There's simply no means by which the weapon can be pivoted to defend herself, though it's clear she makes the effort all the same, attempting to pull it up while also trying to duck down, emerald eyes fixed on the judgemental glare of the two eyes on his hand.
But faster than her ability to shift her weapon or her head is the movement of one of the foxfire spheres, the blue orb all but teleporting into the path of that incoming backfist and erupting into a pin point counterforce. It isn't enough to stop his strike cold, but he would feel it blunt some of the intended kinetic power behind it a split second before it slams into the side of her head.
Renka is sent spinning out of her dash into a stagger, both hands gripping her polearm as she recovers with a blend of graceful footwork and swift whipping of her tails to generate a critical counterbalance to her careening momentum.
She comes to a stop already facing back toward Hakumen, leaning forward, both hands gripping her naginata tightly. Teeth grit, the eight remaining spheres twitch about her as if responding to agitation in the vulpine featured guard.
He speaks of a target to test his fighting skills on and she growls softly. The blow to her head, mitigated as it might have been, was enough to confirm what she already suspected - there is power in this armored foe. And the fact that her blade slipped free from the hole it carved without so much as a drop of blood proves this being isn't human.
Someone crossed by the Librarium before, perhaps? Maybe there is a Hakumen in the database for the bounty board. She certainly doesn't have all that data memorized. Is he here for vengeance? To put a stop to his opposition?
He speaks to the purpose the Librarium has forged for her, and perhaps the alignment that purpose has with her own.
"Anyone who hurts innocent people is no kin of mine," she snaps back, ignoring the throbbing ache on the side of her head. With time, it will be tended to - even now, blue wispy tendrils waft down from the largest of the eight spheres to touch lightly upon the side of the creature's head. "There must be accountability for crimes if there is to ever be harmony or order."
She exhales with a grunt of only barely restrained frustration. "But everything needs to eat. It's simply the way of things."
She springs back at Hakumen then, naginata tip whirling as a blue blur, leaving a wake of trailing foxfire as it moves. With a bend of her legs, she takes to the air, swinging the spear up over her head so that she can bring it swinging down for with a violent, overhead chop. And as she swings, another one of the spheres bursts forward, sheathing around the blade, causing the sapphire soulfire to burn even brighter still just prior to the attempted impact.
Upon landing, she would spin the weapon once at chest level, attempting to bash into the intruder with the blunt end, before finally stepping out of the spin, sweeping the sharp tip up from a low angle, from left to right.
COMBATSYS: Renka successfully hits Hakumen with Ashen Hearth ES.
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Hakumen 0/-------/---====|=====--\-------\0 Renka
The sound that escapes Hakumen's helmet is a mockery of understanding. The sound a particularly unforgiving teacher might make when luring his student into a sense of false security.
"You respect the needs of predators. Those must be your kin." Words growing harder, clawed feet digging into the cement, Hakumen's voice regains the edge of harsh dismissal, "But those who fight only in defense deserve nothing of mercy. I know not your history, fox child, but you Are a fool. You deceive no one but yourself."
The last of Hakumen's response comes mere moments after Renka has began her charge, the fox girl's leap carrying her up and over the loose guard presented by his upraised forearm. It is only once her naginata begins to descend toward his head that he acts, sword carving a silver path through the air as it blurs up to meet her flame-wreathed blade.
Steel meets steel with a clear, ringing chime that vibrates in the air, blue fire flooding down passed Hakumen's sword to crash into his masked face. There is something odd about the strike, a sickening lurch within the blue flames that come into contact with Okami's blade. it is as if the blade were a black hole, an empty void that swallows up all energy.
Still, enough of the raging soul fire bypasses the odd effect to forced Hakumen off balance, the towering figure stepping backward even as Renka descends from her opening strike and whirls the butt of her spear into his chest with a solid THUD.
Driven further off balance, the legendary swordsman stumbles back a second step, sword dropping too slowly to intercept the third strike as it tears a thin gouge up the front of his armor, parting the molded black material over his chest and leaving a thin scratch in the white plate that guards his chest.
"HRRGH?" Hakumen grunts in surprise, clearly taken off guard by Private Kaneko's speed, or so it would seem. His tone is more frustrated than startled, body language one of growing fury, "What is this weakness? Perhaps I was more effected than I thought..."
Even as his tone grows quiet and introspective, the monstrous warrior is retaliating. managing to dig the duel claws of one foot deep into the cement, he halts his backward stumble and hurls himself forward with abrupt speed, transitioning from zero to blur faster than the fox girl can blink.
Right hand snapping up from his side, Hakumen blasts forward upon a wave of displaced wind, blade reversed to bring the blunted pommel of his heavy weapon driving forward and up toward Renka's guts. Despite the length of his own weapon he seems content to stay close, doing his best to fold the fox girl up over his armored hand.
COMBATSYS: Renka blocks Hakumen's Gurren.
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Hakumen 0/-------/--=====|=======\-------\1 Renka
The cracking of cement beneath his curious feet does not go unnoticed by the precision ears currently leaning forward in Hakumen's direction. If there was a heartbeat to hear, she could hear it, if his breaths betrayed his exertion, it would be impossible to conceal from her highly tuned senses. But the Enigma in White has more in common with the spectral creatures that inhabited Illyria than any mortal creature she had ever met.
But as her blows land, she concludes that whatever physiology might be responsible for his curious properties, he can be hurt in some way. Is he more akin to robots humans have invented? She can't hear any whir of mechanical parts within, no scent of circuitry conducting electricity... Is he an animated suit of cursed armor, perhaps? If she can find a trace of soul to tug on, then maybe she'll know more.
But for now, all that matters is stopping this vengeful creature from getting past her. She was assigned to guard this spot, and guard it she will. This time, she has a split second to react, the sound of concrete shattering beneath the tremendous pressure of his launch reaching her ears just in time for her to pivot her naginata into the way. There would simply be no way she could react in a precise way to his blow based on sight alone. That the shaft intersects Hakumen's crushing blow is a byproduct of luck or instinct.
The sound of metal sheering echoes against the pavement as Private Kaneko goes sliding back on her feet once again, a pained gasp escaping her lips. The outcome of the exchange is evident in way her spear's shaft is bent into a V shape in her hands, the pointed end jutting into her stomach until she releases her hold on it all together, allowing it to clatter with a metallic ringing against the ground. The blue fire on her weapon's blade flickers and vanishes moments later.
"Don't toy with me," she snaps back, lips still drawn back, teeth bared. "I've walked this land for almost three hundred years. I'm no child!" Of course, she certainly looks young enough for the moniker. And by the standards of longer lived kitsune, she really is just getting started on her life, but she doesn't seem to imagine that the figure fighting her now could possibly be older than she is.
Her right hand darts to her left side, quickly drawing the sword sheathed there. The work appears to be of fancier make than the ruined and discarded naginata. The blade has a red steel reinforced back edge, while the handle is black with golden cord wrapped around it only to end in a pair of golden tassles that dangle down at her side.
It is a long blade, but Renka swings it through the air once with ease as she takes her stance. When she closes in to melee range, it is without the concrete crushing force of Hakumen's feet - fleet of step, she grips her sword with both hands, aiming to slash a quick X against the armored figure's front, first from right to left, then down from left to right.
"I can't let you go." she declares as she closes in, "But if you surrender, it will be better for you!"
COMBATSYS: Hakumen counters Power Strike from Renka with Zanshin.
- Power hit! -
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Hakumen 0/-------/=======|=======\======-\1 Renka
"That one such as you could have lived so long, yet know so little."
Hakumen's words drift across the short distance between them as he steps forward out of his lunge, sword remaining reversed as he sweeps it back to hover poised behind him. The posture is oddly relaxed for someone who has been receiving the worst of their exchange thus far, but the many blows that have landed on his armored form have apparently done little to humble him. Chestplate badly scratched, two gashes torn into the molded black material at his joints, he none-the-less stands tall and unbowed before his scrappy opponent.
That single, amused syllable stands as punctuation to his insult, and is all he has time to add before Renka is once more upon him. With quick, light steps she closes, sword flashing as it rises to once more cleave into his chest.
Brilliant white chi erupts from Hakumen's joints, flaring out behind him into the vaguest impression of something, some shape or symbol not quite fully formed. The half-created symbol hangs in the air around him as the armored monster shifts forward to meet the strike, power rolling out from him in a sudden wave. it is as if the flood gates of a dam have been thrown wide, and for the briefest of moments the full power of the suit is tapped, the soul within drawing shallowly upon its near limitless potential.
Forearm thrust forward, a wall of radiant chi blossoms out from the back of his bracer, extending 8 feet tall and at least that many wide. Runes of black and white flicker around the outside edge of the barrier, there and gone in erratic flashes.
The blade of Private Kaneko's sword strikes the wall with enough force to throw up large sparks of energy, the faintest flicker rippling across its surface as it absorbs the blow with a soft, electrical crackle. Though it is made of energy, it may as well be steel.
Or so it would seem, right up until Hakumen's left hand whips out through the barrier in an attempt to strike Renka once more up side the head, the backhanded blow a mirror of the one she managed to blunt.
Eyes glaring across the length of his suit, Hakumen allows the barrier to fade, stepping through it to stare toward Renka with cold arrogance.
"You have no useful information for me, but perhaps I have some for you. I will tell you this: the organization that you serve, should not exist."
Though the words are delivered with the same callace tone, the weight behind them seems to suggest something deeper. It is an odd way to publicly denounce the necessity of a thing, but...Well.
Her sword stopped cold, Renka begins to recoil, moving with the rebound of the blade rather than fight it. Already, she steps to disengage, twisting back the other way as her momentum is forced to violently reconsider its place in this world in the face of the uncrackable barrier. But she doesn't even get to slam her foot down in a bid to spring backward before a gauntleted fist cracks into the side of her head a second time.
This time there was no split second defense on her part, no burst of energy to mitigate the crushing force, no iota of awareness to prepare herself for the worst. Blindsided, the smaller combatant is sent reeling, spinning on her feet even as her legs struggle to correct for circumstances they were not prepared for. In the end, she looks almost like a staggering drunk, collapsing to the ground, catching herself with her left hand and right knee, her right hand still gripping her sword tightly as she glares back at Hakumen with fierce emerald eyes.
"Just got it all figured out, do you," she snaps back. The foxfire sphere attending to trying to mitigate the harm she's suffering has doubled up on the wispy threads of energy that seep from its churning surface into the new point of impact on her head. Pushing herself up, she contends with a dose of fading double vision as she makes it back to her feet, lifting her sword up again in preparation.
"Think you know what's best for me. Think you know what it's like. Come to teach the ignorant darkstalker the way things are supposed to be, is that it?"
She leans forward, left hand lifting to rub against the side of her head, standing between the swordsman and the building. "Just who do you think you are, anyway?!"
When she leans forward to sprint at him this time, her stance is quite unlike the aggressive spear charge earlier in the battle. Instead, she grips her sword with both hands, clearly aiming to dash past him with another close ranged, high speed slash so swift as to beyond the sight of less formidable foes.
It's the last second that she slips to the side, going wide to his left flank in spite favoring her right side with her sword. The intent becomes clear as Renka sweeps her left hand out, releasing its hold on her sword's grip, fingers clawing through the air as one of the remaining soulfire spheres surges in after the reach of her arm.
In the end it is not her harmless hand the intruder need contend with, as it won't even quite reach him, but the wide swath of azure flame that burns coolly in the night. The NOL Private attempts to complete her dash, coming out of it in a turning step, light on her feet as ever, such that she'd end up in close behind Hakumen, sword readied in preparation for a follow up strike!
COMBATSYS: Hakumen blocks Renka's Mistaken Mercies ES.
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Hakumen 1/-------/=======|=======\======-\1 Renka
The still air hangs heavy and oppressive around Hakumen's armored form, red eyes pivoting to once more bring the full weight of their collective gazes down upon Private Kaneko as she struggles heroically back to her feet. In the face of her resolve, against the tide of her words, the enigmatic creature remains firm. he has only one immediate answer to her rhetorical question, one thing he is able to say before she vanishes in a burst of near untrackable speed.
Lingering traces of white chi still fog the air behind Hakumen, a residual mark left by the briefest release of his body's power. But even that small amount is enough to boost him out of his fog state, giving him the lingering speed necessary to meet her charge.
Okami slides gracefully through the air as it is passed behind his back, transferred from right hand to left. The sword's blade remains extended behind him as Renka cuts a close arc to his flank, left hand sweeping up to release soul fire hell upon the armored terror from close range.
Okami's blade seems to transform into a wall of silver steel as Hakumen brings it slicing up from behind, the demon-slaying sword leaving innumerable afterimages in its wake as it passes cleanly through the heart of the oncoming conflagration.
And then, there is nothing.
Where once a wall of cold blue flames had torn through the night toward the looming monstrosity, only the faintest flickers of blue foxfire linger, drifting aimlessly through the warm night air.
Following the path of his rising blade, Hakumen cleaves a three-quarter circle through the air that ends with him whirling to face Renka head on, looming over the much smaller girl as they prepare to meet blades in yet another violent clash.
"I am one who speaks truth in a world gone mad with lies."
Even as these words are spoken, Okami is descending from above in a sharp, downward flick, the horned warrior aiming to bring the flat of his blade crashing down squarely between Renka's perky ears. And, at the same moment, she can feel another release of primal energy, the hellish warrior drawing once more from the well spring of power that resides within his host. A glyph much like the one painted in the air flashes into being beneath them both, a blazing white sigil nearly 20 feet wide painted across the cement like a beacon to light up the night.
COMBATSYS: Renka blocks Hakumen's Improvised Strike.
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Hakumen 1/----===/=======|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2 Renka
Given the close proximity of that flame-slicing blade, Renka might consider herself somewhat lucky that her outstretched fingers were not caught in Okami's deadly path. Of course, that's only if she's missed the very clear fact that the blows coming from the Warrior in White are blunted from their full dangerous potential. Crushing smacks from gauntleted fists alone were evidence of a powerful force beneath the concealing shell... but that was nothing compared to what the power of that sword was capable of.
Now in close proximity to the much taller foe, Private Kaneko's blue, burning blade sweeps up, gripped in her right hand, readied to be put immediately to use once more. She certainly hadn't missed how cleanly he severed the foxfire storm meant for his body... She'll have to be mindful of his potential defenses. Glaring up at him, teeth bared, the last traces of her last attack are lost to the brighter cool burning flame of her sword.
The Sentinel of Order speaks, a declaration of absolute authority. And his words are punctuated by what appears to be a simple yet swift movement of his incredibly long sword. Were he any ordinary man, perhaps she would have saw fit to contest the blow more aggressively. But she knows too well the power behind that swing and every iota of strength is devoted to defense as she pivots her sword up, bracing it beneath the blow, her left hand pressing against the flat of her blade.
The blue fire holds no danger for its master.
Unlike the spear she had started the battle with, the sword holds fast against the flat of Okami, though Renka finds herself almost smashed against the pavement in the course of absorbing the kinetic force of the exchange. Knees bend, back bending forward, arms trembling as sword meets sword. Knowing she is in no position to strike decisively up close, she falls back, tails swishing behind her back as she grits her teeth, back peddling out of the radius of the massive glyph shimmering over the ground.
"Where did you come from?" she replies, sweeping her sword down to her side, leaning forward then, adopting a bracing stance similar to the one she used prior to charging him with her spear at the start of the altercation. "Someone as strong as you - you could do a lot of good in this world." The swarm of remaining foxfire spheres begin to swirl about her, becoming brighter then, illuminating the fox-tailed soldier and the area all around her.
"Why waste it fighting the one organization in position to make a difference!?"
She tenses up, gripping her sword at her right side with both hands. Her eyes burn now with sapphire flames like her projected orbs. "Instead, you come, smelling of bloodshed, threatening to kill my comrades..."
"I will never let that happen!!"
With her louder cry, Renka attacks. It might be difficult to pinpoint precisely when she actually does, however, as the orbs with her burst forward, in a beeline for the Time Displaced Slayer. Each orb bursts into a translucent, blue fire mirage of Renka Kaneko even as she, herself, bursts forward with the fastest speed she can muster.
In that moment, Hakumen's sea of eyes faces not one but six fox-eared soldiers, though only the real one is the true threat as she dashes in, attempting to stab her sword directly into the torso of the threatening killer... And should she sink the piercing blow, her left hand would slip from her sword grip to press against the sides of the wound... and then she would find out for herself if this mysterious golem in truth possesses a soul within, as she attempts to draw hungrily, greedily on whatever energy she can steal!
COMBATSYS: Renka successfully hits Hakumen with #This Animus of Mine EX#.
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Hakumen 1/-----==/=======|-------\-------\0 Renka
Okami's blade lifts as Renka darts back out of range, its silver surface pristine and unmarred by the clash of steel on steel. Why such a warrior as he, wielding a weapon as deadly as that, would choose to strike non lethally is a matter for another time. Now, there is only time for the fight, and who will be its ultimate victor.
Renka's emotional words wash over the towering swordsman as he stands tall in the center of the glyph, blazing white light banishing all shadows from the field of battle. There is a hum of power from within the symbol, the distant beat of untapped potential crashing against it like waves upon a shore.
"Your faith," Hakumen responds, words cool and direct, "is misplaced."
And then she is moving.
Six fox-eared soldiers blitz the crimson-eyed samurai all at once, each charging in with sword held back, ready to strike. However, the eyes spotted across Hakumen's armor track only one, focusing in on the real Private Kaneko as she flashes across the distance, teeth bared.
Okami descends in a blur, slicing through nothing but wind as the nimble fox-girl darts beneath the warding blow, her own sword driven point-first through the molded black material at the top of his abdomen. The flat of the blade scrapes noisily against the bottom of his chestplate as the sword is plunged deep into his body, halting only once the tip strikes the inside of the plate guarding his back. There is resistance, the feeling of internals being split or shunted aside, but no blood.
Tilting his head down, Hakumen's empty face seems to stare into Renka as her left hand slaps against his wound, and she makes contact with whatever it is that lives inside.
A human soul.
A human soul hardened by age and grief. One that has weathered unimaginable torments and come close to madness, but is somehow still sane. Still aware.
And looming above that soul, swelling behind it like an endless ocean of light and dark, Ying and Yang, roils the untapped power of the vessel he commands.
"I have saved this world once already." Hakumen states down to Renka, none of the coolness or hardness gone from his time-worn tone. As power begins to flood out of him, first his own, then the suits, his words grow harder still, "Once, I fought alongside the Novus Orbis Librarium. I know for what purpose it was truly created."
The power pouring out of Hakumen redoubles in intensity as the soul within releases his restraint, allowing it to rush out to meet the thieving fox like an oncoming tidal wave. She may have come expecting to drink of his well, but it appears he intends to drown her in it. The air grows hot and the wind begins to blow, swirling into a steaming vortex that gusts straight up from the glowing sigil in the ground. Hakumen's long silver hair rises with it, separating out into 7 distinct strands that form a halo-like crown above him.
"I have given my life to the service of Order, and I have paid the price."
Voice now savage with repressed anger, near demonic in its intent, Hakumen practically snarls his final words down at the unfortunate fox girl.
"I have offered you all of the mercy that I am able. Now you will be judged for what you have done!"
The last word is still echoing through the air when Hakumen's right foot lashes out, clawed toes driving up hard toward Renka's cloth-covered middle. Doing his best to fold the unfortunate fox girl over his foot, he leaps forward and stomps down, attempting to carry her backward off of her feet and drive her back-first into the cement with enough force to crater it beneath them.
Lifting Okami high overhead, the hellish swordsman is briefly silhouetted against the background of light he has summoned, a horned figure of black in a sea of white, before Okami is brought down wreathed in an inferno of black, the flames of judgment cast down directly toward Private Kaneko's chest in a wave of purifying energy.
COMBATSYS: Renka dodges Hakumen's Kokuujin Ougi - Mugen.
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Hakumen 0/-------/-----==|-------\-------\0 Renka
The swarm of azure echoes of the resolute NOL foot soldier pave the way for the fox-eared demon to dart in and deliver what should be a fight ending strike against most threats she had ever crossed in her centuries of life. The combination of blade and hungry, greedy pulling on the very soul housed within should put an end to this invasion. She won't sustain it long enough to kill - though the risk is there, that isn't her way.
All of that goes through her mind as her left hand reaches out, making contact with the surface of this being's armor... and begins to feed.
The first brush with the power contained within the shell of white and black changes everything. She anticipated finding life energy of some nature. Even if he were some kind of being made by magician's whim, he could not be this animated, this certain of purpose without some kind of soul powering him. But behind the disturbing mask, a human soul burns bright hot and with an instantly overwhelming aura of Order and Structure.
Of all the souls she had tasted, this one was timeless and without apparent age. The flurry of images she had used in her advance have circled back, each shifting into those azure spheres once more. There's only four now, yet just from one instant of contact, all four have begun to burn brightly enough that their light is likely to be seen from a large range across the flat pavement of Librarium compound. It would be impossible for this clash of wills to go unnoticed now.
Sucking in her breath, Private Kaneko looks up, eyes widened at the Sentinel that now addresses her. The first attempt to pull her hand away is met with resistance, the draw of unfathomable power seeping through the stab stirring up a war within her own nature. Drink more, it demands, consume more. She pulls harder as he continues to speak.
The one burning truth that sears its way into her mind as she struggles to disengage, fighting her own hunger, is that the armored White Knight... cannot lie. The declarations she had disregarded out of hand spring forth from that ordered soul that would abide no concept of deception.
Panic builds as he begins to respond, anger rising around the once dispassionate being. And then, just before his leg launches a vicious strike, one of the four foxfire spheres swoops down from behind the overwhelmed creature, smashing into her upper back where it seems to splash into her spine before vanishing.
His leg scythes out, delivering a crushing blow before he smashes back down, the crumpled form beneath him. The three remaining spheres retreat back as if terrified of being in close proximity to the divine warrior... but as his sword swings down, unleashing a torrent of power, he would know immediately the small deceiver's conceit. The target of his wrath scatters into foxfire flame, a burst of sapphire light, before being extinguished.
And meters away, where the orbs have settled, Renka Kaneko shimmers into view, the brief invisibility she mustered as she traded places with an illusory clone coming to an end.
The tidal wave of unleashed power just narrowly misses her, the force of is close passing nearly enough to stagger her off her feet without even coming in contact, hair , cloth, and tails whipped by the wind briefly.
Burning sword still tight in her grip, she stares back at Hakumen with widened eyes. She knew he was powerful from first appearance, but the magnitude of the potential within him was only clear now that she had touched it for herself. Ruthless, cold, unfeeling Order, as far as her mind's eye could see was somehow housed within the confines of that white armor.
"Hakumen..." she murmurs softly, giving voice to the name he declared in his mantra only a minute before. What /is/ he? If he cannot lie, then he truly did fight alongside the Novus Orbis Librarium? He truly did believe it to be an institution unlike what she saw it as?
Gritting her teeth, her twin tails swishing behind her back as she takes a battle stance once more, Renka shifts her hold on her sword, both hands tight on the grip. She hesitates, but only for a moment. Perhaps there is an instant of vulnerability in her foe as his sword slammed down. She has to take that chance. She has to strike forcefully. She may not get another chance.
Launching back on the offensive, she leaps up, sword whipping over her head before she plunges, swinging the blade overhead into a violent, blue fire slash right in time with her landing, aiming to deliver a decisive angled slash across the front of his armored torso.
If it were steel alone with which she struck, it's questionable if she could even damage the hardened material. But it has already been proven that the blue flames that augment her attacks are up to the task.
"Have you ever considered just talking through your differences!" she exclaims with a flash of frustration at this exasperating terror who has turned a routine night on patrol into a nightmare!
COMBATSYS: Hakumen instinctively blocks Renka's Outcast Dream.
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Hakumen 0/-------/----===|-------\-------\0 Renka
As the last of the dark inferno summoned forth from Hakumen's sword burns away the pavement beneath, the symbol he had summoned onto the ground begins to evaporate into faintly glowing mist. it is through this that Renka witnesses the last shreds of her sacrificed clone dispersing into nothingness, scoured away beneath the fury of the armor-clad warrior.
And she hesitates.
Standing tall and unmoved, Hakumen lifts Okami's blunted tip from the earth, what was once a swath of cement now reduced to a deep crater of dust, and turns slowly to face the distant form of his opponent. Through the mist his red eyes glow a deep, hateful red, while his face remains an expressionless mask of impartial justice, a smooth expanse with no place for pity or concern. His body has been pierced. His soul has been violated. But still he stands, sword held carelessly out to one side.
Having no time to dodge or advance before the fox-eared girl is once more descending upon him, Hakumen meets sword with sword, Okami's blade flashing up to catch Renka's blade edge to edge. Blue fire fades silently away where the blades meet, while all of the slight girl's weight is briefly suspended by the strength of his single upraised arm.
"There is little point in speaking to those who will not listen. But to you," Hakumen's cool tone has just a hint of hard irony in it as he thrusts his sword violently forward, attempting to toss the much lighter fighter backward into a shallow arc, "I have said all that I will, Leech."
The pavement beneath Hakumen's feet shatters as he pushes off into a sprinting charge, sword slipping back into a reverse stance not unlike a one-handed version of the charging attacks Renka has performed on him throughout their fight. However, as he closes the distance, he pushes off with his left foot, right trailing a tail of roiling black energy, and sweeps his shin around in a low kick meant to catch her at knee height and batter her legs out from beneath her, spinning her through the air before she can land and regain her bearings. Only if that opening strike connects will he twist hard to his right, left foot snapping up to reverse his spin and drive his clawed toes hard into the fox girl's face. Hit or miss, the hellish warrior juts his right foot down, the last of the black chi fading from the limb, and digs his claws into the ground to bring his charge to a grinding halt, twin gouges torn through the pavement with the grinding sound of stone on stone.
COMBATSYS: Hakumen successfully hits Renka with Renka.
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Hakumen 0/-------/-======|======-\-------\0 Renka
Briefly suspended off the ground as their swords clash, Private Kaneko grits her teeth, pushing down hard with her weapon while snapping backward, already making a bid to disengage. Hakumen's own far more noticeable counterforce seems to aid the smaller combatant gain even more distance at an even faster speed... but any illusion of escape is shattered by the inhuman speed with which he chases after the airborne soldier.
With a growl, she nimbly twists herself out of her flight vector, preparing to land on her feet in a controlled manner, only to realize that somehow, almost impossibly, Hakumen is already back upon her.
White boot-clad feet barely touch concrete before the Timelost Sentinel's leg smashes in, laced with ebony energy as it scythes clean into her shins and rips them out from under her. With no grounding and zero opportunity to pull together any kind of defense with her blade, all the battered darkstalker can do is pull up her left arm, attempting to intercept the impossible with her sleeve-covered forearm.
In the same instant, one of her three remaining foxfire spheres surges into the limb, setting her slender arm ablaze with sapphire light, a desperate bid to reinforce the creature's flesh and bone. In the end, even bolstered, her attempt at defense is nothing in the face of Hakumen's single kick. Impacted with bone-shattering force, her arm serves only to blunt the kinetic energy slightly, the sleeve of her uniform eradicated in the exchange, before the driven warrior's foot smashes into the fox-eared creature's face.
Renka is jettisoned across the open concrete, sailing without even the slightest evidence that she can control her fall this time. That her fingers of her right hand remain clenched on the grip of her burning sword may be a matter of unconscious instinct rather than an intentional thought.
She hits the unyielding ground limply, tumbling several meters before coming to rest face down, arms sprawled at her sides, her tails, dusty from the roll along the ground, sticking up at askew angles in furry arcs.
There would be no doubt that a normal human struck in such a way would simply be dead - at least it would have been instant and painless. But the demi-human looking monster that has sworn her own strength to the Librarium stirs. She tries moving both of her arms at first, but the limp, broken thing that is her left arm only looks worse for the effort. Hissing her breath through tightly clenched teeth, she lifts her head, leaving blood on the ground where her face had rested for a moment. The left side of her face is shrouded in a sheet of glistening crimson, her left eye sealed shut from the damage.
But her right eye locks on Hakumen, showing no less resolve than she had exhibited the first time she told him to halt. Pressing down with her still functioning sword arm, Renka struggles up to her feet. Behind her back, only two azure foxfire spheres remain, the rest consumed in the battle with the Avatar of Order. The largest still continues to sustain her unnatural life, wisps of blue gossamer tendrils drifting down from it into her back, her face, her left arm, and her right knee.
%Were it not for the brief contact she had with the horrifyingly structured soul beneath the suit, there would have been no hope of still being able to move. Durable as she is, there are still limits even she can suffer before it's simply too much.
Renka Kaneko takes a step forward only to hesitate, the pain in her leg making her briefly reconsider her course. This might be it - where her long life runs its course. In the past, she would have ran long ago - there was nothing to be gained in fights she couldn't clearly win. But now?
Sucking in a breath, giving the sustaining, mending energy a few more seconds to restore function to her nearly broken knee, she holds her sword out toward Hakumen. "You will never touch my comrades!" she exclaims. All around the base, lights are activating, illuminating the outskirts of the compound. Alarms have begun to sound as signs of the confrontation exploded well beyond the initial fight that went unnoticed.
"I, Private First Class Renka Kaneko, will die before I let that happen!"
She had never even had a last name before. The NOL enlistment officer had given it to her on the spot so that she could enter a name in the paperwork.
Kaneko - the golden child. And now she declares it loudly and defiantly, as if it had been part of her identity for all her life.
Sucking in her breath, she grips her sword tightly with her right hand, her left arm hanging lamely in front of her.
"And if that's to be the case..."
She leans forward. The pain must be ignored. Nothing can hold back her resolve. She breaks into a sprint to close the distance she had been sent flying with a single kick.
"I'll take you with me!"
Closing in, Renka slashes out with her sword. The mounting injuries have slowed her slightly, and an initial defense may not be that difficult for the warrior. But trailing behind the swing of her sword is an blue, burning echo of the blade that will not be so easily stopped by steel. Hoping that the second slash of pure foxfire serves to distract Hakumen long enough, she swings her blade from the other side an instant later, and a second trailing foxfire blade follows right behind it.
In that moment, the unbowed Invader will have to defend himself from not one but four attacks, overlapping in moments to the degree that he sometimes will have two - one burning steel, the other blazing foxfire - coming for him at once from opposite sides!
COMBATSYS: Hakumen fails to counter Recorded in Blood from Renka with Kokuujin Ougi - Yukikaze.
[ \\\\ <
COMBATSYS: Hakumen can no longer fight.
[ \\\\ <
A fog of ambient chi continues to drift upward from the demolished pavement, swirling lazily around Hakumen as he pivots slowly to face Private Kaneko's fallen form. Where the energy brushes against Okami it simply vanishes, leaving swaths of darkness in the blade's wake.
Right hand back, sword low, the horned invader watches silently as the slender fox girl struggles back to her feet, crimson eyes tracking her every movement. Out of the two of them, she is the more visibly wounded, though her brief brush with his soul would have been enough to alert her to the extent of the monster's own wounds. Whether or not she has the capability to fully destroy him is doubtful. Even draining his essence might be impossible, given the near limitless sea of energy that resides within him. But she has wounded him. The damage to his internal workings are slowing him down, threatening to render parts of him non functional. Despite the lack of blood or signs of pain, his body is not invulnerable. He needs to end this fight quickly.
"Hah." Hakumen scoffs, harsh voice full of blunt dismissal. In the face of Renka's determination, her drive, the demon in white simply cocks his head, response as harsh as ever, "I did not come here to spill your blood, or that of your comrades. If I had, I would not have warned you against calling them. I journeyed to this place in search of answers, and you have given me some through your actions. But, I will admit that I did not expect this much resistance from you. My time in the boundary must have affected me more than I thought."
What the boundary is, why he was there. There is no time to explain any of this. With lights coming on throughout the base, and the sounds of curious soldiers rousing, there is little option but to finish the fight. Even if this monster didn't come here to kill, he has promised that getting them involved would lead to such, and he has proven himself to be capable of fulfilling that vow.
The final declaration is made, and Renka launches herself at him, sprinting across the open cement in a last ditch attempt to cut the intruder down. It is an impressive display of drive and resolve. One worthy of respect.
Lifting his left forearm, Hakumen releases the restraints that bind his borrowed power for the final time, a deep crimson glow beginning to gather around the back of his bracer. Faint wisps of black swirl around the edges of the building energy, taking on the vague shapes of symbols that flicker in and out of existence, there and gone in a blink. Even at a distance the weight of power behind the technique can be felt, both ground and sky beginning to hum as if struck by some resounding force.
And then, half a breath before Renka's opening strike connects, just as the energy gathered around Hakumen's forearm reaches a critical point, he vanishes.
Renka's initial slash meets nothing but air as her towering foe blurs, reality folding around him, and flickers out of existence. A moment later, however, he re-appears, standing in the same position but 3 feet back from where he was, and more importantly, facing in the other direction.
A surprised half grunt resonates through the armor as the twin eyes set in the back of his shoulders swivel, attempting to discover where Renka has gone. Dropping, they have just enough time to register her close proximity before he is struck twice in the back, her second swipe impacting at the exact same moment as the echo of the first.
The force of the combined blows knocks Hakumen forward into a stumble, the energy that had been gathering around his arm dispersing in a crimson cloud. The second blazing echo, however, smashes him high in the shoulders, cracking his back plate and throwing him forward to land heavily on his left knee and hand, Okami's blade scraping noisily across the pavement as he struggles to lift it.
And then, he vanishes again.
Space time compresses around Hakumen like a tapestry being folded, and the armored monster flickers out of existence, appearing a good 60 meters away. Still on one knee, struggling to stand, he lifts his head and turns his blank face toward the sky, having just enough time to growl one, infuriated word.
The barely contained rage that burns in that singular word puts any anger he has shown toward Renka to shame. Whatever it is that has caught his attention, whatever this vanishing trick is, he seems to hold it in higher contempt than someone willing to leech away his very soul.
And again, for the last time, the armored monstrosity flickers, then is gone.
The first vanishing act seems like an evasive technique on the part of the Armored Sentinel as Renka Kaneko's sword slashes through empty air, her one working eye fixing on the location where he reappears. Even as she adjusts and lunges forward to add more reach to her strikes to compensate for the instant relocation, her mind is too dazed by his last kick to process that the skilled swordsman has come out of his so-called evasion backward.
In better health, she might have more immediately recognized the interference for what it was. On the verge of exhausting the stored soul energy that fuels not only her combat skills but her life as well, however, she has no wherewithal to process the bizarre outcome.
Instead, she slashes, as if everything she had just declared depended on it. With her left arm throbbing in agony, she's forced to swing one handed, augmenting each strike with that blue fire echo capable of cutting deeper than any steel.
The follow through is enough to drop him to a knee briefly, his sword gouging the concrete even from a simple scrape.
Standing up straight, she raises her right arm up, her sword continuing to burn like a blue torch that emits no heat.
The demand is not uttered with the same volume or certainty she had when she barked it at him the first time. This time, it is resolve, and tangible relief, that fuels the order.
"This doesn't need to go any further." she gasps out the words, holding her sword in a position from which to strike should she detect a hostile move.
And then he is sixty meters away. Her unbloodied eye blinks, her face lifting to stare confusedly to where he appears, the location identified in an instant by her sharp ears. For the first time, it starts to sink in that the teleportation is not of his own will but rather some kind of interference.
Gritting her teeth, she takes a step forward, her wounded leg nearly buckling out from under her. Gasping, she pauses, eye closed for a moment as she tries to keep herself from collapsing under the agony of her injuries.
Behind her, the last two of her nine foxfire spheres pour azure energy into her, sustaining and mending... but by now, the fire burning at their core has started to ebb. They alone will not be enough to repair the damage done by Hakumen's smacks and kicks. If his sword had hit her, then what?
Growling, she shuffles forward another half step, trying to ignore the seemingly infinite expanse that now separates them. She had to capture him. A threat like this could not be left free to strike again...!
The Knight of Order vanishes, a shout of rage echoing from his mysterious helm. There will be no capture tonight, no pursuit. Suddenly lacking purpose, Private Kaneko collapses forward to one knee, her right hand twisting her sword, stabbing it into the concrete where the tip sinks a few inches, allowing her to prop herself up with her one working arm.
The shouts of activity erupt up around the base, the alarm sirens continuing to disrupt the sleep of any who had already retired for the night. Leaning her head forward, she rests her forehead against the back of her right hand, her hand planted against the pommel of her planted sword.
"Hakumen..." she murmurs to herself. She had touched his soul, she knew of its... severe honesty. It gave grim weight to the words she heard him say. Her right eye closes as she waits for help from the comrades she fought to defend. This was the first time she had come face to face with the kind of power the Librarium supposedly stood against.
The two spheres at her back wink out, the last of their energy expended sustaining the wounded darkstalker. He was a threat... not just for his power but for what the things he believed to be true.
"We will meet again," she whispers under her breath, the sound of boots thundering against the concrete drowning out the rest of her thoughts as soldiers from her unit surge in around her.
COMBATSYS: Renka has ended the fight here.
Log created on 00:16:39 06/16/2018 by Renka, and last modified on 22:33:15 06/23/2018.