The Bell Tolls - TBT Act 1 - Border Patrol

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Description: Mint has been assigned oversight on a risky section of the new border wall. Her intelligence suggests that a number of Cortejo Znebre are looking to make mincemeat of a few of their informants. So she has been assigned to take command of the border crossing -- which means that a number of high-value targets are sneaking through the gates improperly. This is shady on so many levels, and yet one would need to look between the lines to see it all. An intrepid American ninja may find himself the last line of defense for a crucial border crossing!

Hydraulics hiss as Corporal Minal Panesh lowers the binoculars from her eyes. The diminutive New Jersey native bears a small frown on her face as she turns away from the window of a tall watchtower, her attention turned towards a small digital display not far from the window.

"Vasquez, any word yet?"

Lance Corporal Vasquez looks up from his post on the opposite side of the room. "Nothing yet. Are you sure this Lieutenant Fischer even exists? I can't find her in the global address book."

Mint removes her cap for a moment, letting out a sigh, mopping her sweat-drenched forehead off onto her upper sleeve. The air conditioning up in this tower is really in need of improvement. But out here, in this isolated watchpost on the Californian border between the US and Mexico, supplies are hard to come by. The nearest major city is about fifty miles away.

She replaces her hat, turning back to the Mexico horizon. "She'll write me something. I know it."

Vasquez kicks back in his chair, resting his feet on the end of a stool. "Cortejo Znebre though? Really? Weren't -you- involved in helping put an end to them? I was going through some old reports, and..."

Mint doesn't respond immediately, squinting as a point of light flares up in the distance. A small convoy of trucks, racing down the lonely desert highway. Four container trucks, bog standard and ready to go.

Minal squints through the binoculars again, her response coming in a voice barely louder than a whisper. "Look, let's not talk about that, okay?"

The watchtower is silent for the next minute or so. Vasquez sits up, starts arranging paperwork and clipboards to look busy. And as soon as his chair squeaks to suggest he might be standing up...

Mint makes a grab for the clipboard instead. "I'll handle this one. Just keep an eye on stuff up here."

Vasquez hands over the clipboard, cracking a smile. "You sure, boss? You got the last four. Aren't you supposed to delegate or somethin'?"

Fixing her gaze on Vasquez, Mint cocks her head to the side, like a bird. With only the barest hint of a smile, she notes, "... Heh, yeah. Probably.

Thirty seconds later, metal steps clank with the sound of Mint racing down the steps. The giant, ridiculously oversized gauntlets secured to her forearms mark the Special Forces Marine as someone not to be trifled with -- yet her trademark smile stands in stark contrast to that, a personable look that radiates friendliness and good cheer. At the landing, she practically jogs out to the arriving convoy of trucks, handing over the clipboard.

And almost ten seconds later, the clipboard is handed back to her.

And five seconds later, her massive mechanical hands flatten out, motioning with a wave to suggest that the trucks are free to pass.

No inspection.
No conversation.

Three Days ago:

In his search for Zach Glenn, Michael has returned to the United States in hopes to try and obtain more information on the illusive figure. Using any connections he can, each lead seems to come up short. No one has any information on his location, or even when he was last scene. The American Koga-ryu is left chasing dead ends all over the palce.

Of course, that isn't to say Nakoruru's words didn't strike a nerve. He has a legacy to live up to, and thus he begins his search. If Zach Glenn cannot be found by conventional means, perhaps it is time to start weeding the proverbial garden of the Underworld to shake loose any information that may exist.

Upon learning that a rather nasty and dangerous cartel seems to have resurfaced, and is easily finding their way into the land of the free, Michael now knows what his next plan of action is...


As the first truck starts to move forward, a loud howl of a canine suddenly fills the night air, echoing across the otherwise silent border crossing. Lights slowly start to flicker before two of the larger spotlights upon the watchtower go dark, sparks and glass exploding in a shower of debris.

Once more the canine howl echoes out as the soldiers ready their guns, aiming into the darkness as the group up to secure the area. Mint may be Special Forces, but the rank and file are just that -- grunts who are only there because they've drawn the short straw on assignments.

"One would think that the greatest force in the world for justice would be doing their due dilligence in ensuring their country is kept safe and free.."

The voice echoes from the shadows, unable to be pinpointed exactly. The snarl of a large dog echoes loudly, only to be drowned out in gunfire which goes silent after just a few seconds.

"Cortejo Znebre is marching right past each of your noses, and you just allow it? This.. is not justice."

A loud scream fills the almost sickeningly warm night air, only for the owner of the noise to be flung violently from the shadows unconcious into the windshield of the lead truck, forcing it to veer violently away and to a stop.

Burning o-zone fills the air as the darkness is suddenly ripped away as a bolt of electricity strikes down into the ground before Mint and the nearby soldiers, sending those with lesser fortitude scampering.

Once more silence returns, leaving the soldiers to regain their composure...

One minute.


Three minutes pass before a figure slowly starts become visible from the furthest shadows.

"If evil seeks to usurp justice, then justice itself must truly rise to the occasion."

The glint of steel in the figure's left hand is now visible, the short blade matching one that those who deliver justice from the shadows are famed for. The descendant of the American Koga-ryu fully emerges now from the shadows, face covered by a half-mask. The blade is readied as Michael whistles loudly. Shortly, the loud growl of a large dog comes from the shadows as a large husky pads forth, standing at the ready next to the American ninja.

"I am the agent of justice that will rise up to right this wrong... Tonight, evil will learn its place."

The canine howl is enough to send chills down Mint's spine. Not that she can't handle a coyote or two, or even half a dozen -- but because the howl is enough to trigger a primal reaction. It's meant to invoke fear in targets -- and at least for a moment, it does. Metal clanks, as her gauntlets' hands curl into fists. And the Special Forces operative narrows her eyes backwards at the rest of the convoy -- sure that the howl cannot be unrelated.

And then the lights go out. Mint curses under her breath, barking out an order to the half-dozen grunts stationed around the gate facility. "Light up your NVGs, boys! Stay sharp!" While her men start pulling their heavy night vision goggles down onto their eyes, Mint -- lacking any such equipment -- pushes a button on her gauntlets. Instantly, a green spotlight shows up on the leading edge of each gauntly -- and said light is shined into the darkness.

She squints -- and shadows appear in front of her cast. She sweeps the light right -- only to nearly -miss- the shadows.

An ominous taunt is leveled her way -- forcing her to sweep around towards the sound of the voice. A sound that cannot be targeted accurately.

Her gauntlet lights shine into the darkness -- continually confounded by the inability to catch up with the dancing shadows in the night. "You're interfering with the official duties of the United States of America. Come out -- and let's resolve this without the smoke and mirrors!"

Trucks are disabled -- trucks full of -people-, armed to the teeth. There's definitely a -reason- they were able to pass without inspection, but Corporal Panesh isn't explaining -- nor has she been asked to. She only seeks out the invaders -- and the dogs.

The trucks stop dead in their tracks. And Mint patrols the trucks, looking for any signs of disarray. She finds the men, wrenched from their trucks. Talking into her radio, she calls out, "Get some first aid down here, we have injured..."

More silence. Mint's on high alert -- her blood pumping harder than it has for a while. Her sweeps of the shadows have turned up nothing actionable -- until, suddenly, they do, shining light upon a man wearing a half-mask.

Mint draws her right hand back, its light flickering upon him as she spreads the fingers of her left hand, tensing them tightly.

Six tiny pinpricks of red appear upon Michael's form, as Mint glowers back at him. She, too, is ready to strike -- and yet, she holds fast to the belief that the 'good guys' never strike first.

"Stand down, immediately!" barks the fiery dynamo from Clifton, NJ. "Or this is gonna get -real- ugly..."

COMBATSYS: Mint has started a fight here.

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Mint             0/-------/-------|

COMBATSYS: Mint focuses on her next action.

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Mint             0/-------/-------|

COMBATSYS: Michael has joined the fight here.

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Mint             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0          Michael

As the points of light suddenly appear upon the ninja's chest, a loud and sarcastic laugh suddenly escapes his mouth.

"Don't you guys know the first thing about Ninjas? Bullets are pretty much useless."

Michael digs deep into the very basics of Ninjanomics 101 -- Guns are usually annoying as hell when used on Ninja. Ninjanomics 203 and Master Ninjanomics prove that a true ninja will only take a bullet if they choose. This is all very basic material.

The ninjato is raised upwards, the blade covering a portion of the man's face. Obviously, Private Spanky and his friends take offense to this. Especially after Corporal Panesh has pretty much told the ninja to stand down.

Unfortunately for Michael, Private Spanky jumps the gun on the order to open fire, and the rat-tat-tat of a fully automatic M-16 suddenly breaks the silence, with a volley of 5.56 milimeter bullets surging forth to turn one ninja into swiss cheese.

The moment however the bullets would strike into the blonde Ninja, an explosion of thick gray smoke suddenly errupts from where he was once standing which immediatly fills the air surrounding him.

As the smoke clears, the ninja is no longer there (big surprise, as they are the shiftiest and tricksiest of all known classes in any RPG). Once more soldiers search rapidly for their target, only for one of the six points of light to vanish from the night air as Private Spanky lets out a loud groan of pain, and then muffled silence.

If Private Spanky had ever paid attention to the basic instrunction manual of 'How to deal with a Ninja' he would have realized that he just played right into the Ninja's hands, and had found himself on the otherside of a very basic substitution art, only to be hit full force with the base of a blade on the back of his head.

The blonde ninja turns his attention now to Mint, because generally people with giant and awesome gauntlets like hers are the ones in charge, and usually, taking them out pretty much puts an end to any sort of hostilities. Unless you're Japanese, which pretty much means they're going to swear a blood oath on getting revenge against you, your family, your family cow. The whole kit and kaboodle.

Michael doesn't waste any more time now, and rushes towards Mint once more, this time forcing chi to explode from his body as a second Michael G. Weller comes into existence beside him. The two men rush towards the military girl, one leaping into the air to dive down with his foot at Mint's face, and the other closing the gap to attempt and deliver a fierce roundhouse kick aimed at the woman's head.

Luckily for Mint, only one of them is real. She just has to figure out which. (Spoiler Alert: It's the face kicker.)

COMBATSYS: Mint fails to interrupt Shadow Copy from Michael with STOL.

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Mint             0/-------/----===|=------\-------\0          Michael

Mint lowers her chin, narrowing her eyes. She's made her ultimatum, and he's just... laughing it off. And then he mocks the skill of the men stationed to answer her call.

"There's... really no need to test that. Just--"

Her words are interrupted by the raising of a ninjato. The bold, defiant statement that he will -not- follow her order to stand down. Those mechanical digits twitch, as she swallows her words, shaking her head in a 'no' gesture.

Another interruption: shots ringing out, leading to a cloud of smoke erupting. As those perfect red laser dots stretching out into broken shafts of crimson light, Mint takes a step back, her lips curling into a baretoothed hiss. Bullets slam into the desert scrub a fair distance away, sending up their own individual plumes of dirt to be swallowed up in the darkness.

"Dumbass!" she calls out towards the emplaced soldiers, as one falls to honed ninja steel. "Check fire! I'm still down here, you ingrates!" Sure enough, the lights from her gauntlets lift, scanning about in hopes of finding anything -other- than billowy clouds of smoke.

Apparently she's meant to reach out with her -feelings- or something to find this stealthy ninja guy. Mint reorients herself towards Private Spanky -- if Michael wants to attack her, that'd be the best assault vector. She aims her lights up... and catches a flicker of movement.

Her gauntlets roar to life. Twin plumes of orange flame spill out their exhaust nozzles. And as soon as she judges the time is right -- she surges forward! One, two, three rapid-fire punches fire out --

But she's not able to see the ninja after all; nor is she able to account for his elevation, or the ability to kick her right in the face! Her gauntlet safeties kick in, killing the thrust as she hits the dirt in a tumble. His ninja doppleganger will go mostly unnoticed in the dark as she finds herself hitting the ground, as carbon fiber, aluminum and steel grind into the warm desert dirt. Her flashlights shine out ineffectually into the darkness as she kips back around to reorient for the ninja's next strike.

A moment before, she had a grasp on the situation, but now...? Now, the only assurance is that the folks from the convoy are trying their damndest to get their vehicles moving again, if the numerous shafts of light sweeping outward are any indication...

"Alright, Chuckles -- you're -super- interfering with official government business now. And I'm -super- gonna kick your ass if I get hold of you!"


The sudden nickname from Miss Panesh is one that actually annoys Michael to a degree he shouldn't. He is in no fashion a clown. For starters, he's not even all that funny. Of course, now he's going to have to make the military girl regret that.

Once more he gives a sharp whistle, as the dog bounds from the darkness to his side. The flashlights in the trucks are worrisome enough, because if they get moving again, it's going to pretty much make it near impossible for him to not only take down the area boss (Miss Panesh), but then he'll have to chase them down and dodge more bullets. Which isn't really all that fun when it comes down to it.

Taking advantage of the fact that he's still not quite been spotted again by Mint, Michael quickly surges forward once more, looking to grab ahold of those gigantic gauntlets of hers. If he manages to latch on, using all of his strength he will turn away from the girl, using the momentum to quickly drag her over his shoulders in what would be a basic throw.

However, Michael's a ninja so nothing about it would be basic. If the girl manages to be pulled up into the air, as she comes down the ninja will let go of her, only to quickly flip himself into the air to once more plant his feet upon her not-so-delicate form with a heavy missile kick to her stomach to once more send her skittering away.

COMBATSYS: Mint blocks Michael's Combo Grapple.

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Mint             0/-------/--=====|-------\-------\0          Michael

Yes, the nickname was -Chuckles- solely because the ninja was laughing at her. As the only member of her team -not- wearing NVGs yet, aggravating the shadowy warrior into making the next move is just proven science.

The whistle, though, that's a hint. Beams of light carve though the pitch black as Mint's fists lock onto the source of the sound -- what her eyes don't tell her, her ears can. It's a good thing she was already sweeping into motion, in this case -- for while Michael -is- able to latch onto her gauntlet, the sudden motion ends up working in her favor, placing the gauntlet's reinforced wrist joint into his path rather than the base of her elbow. While the American ninja can use her arm to whip her up and around into the air, the Special Forces corporal is able to modulate her gauntlet's exhaust to steer her feet towards a safe landing.

Or rather, that would be the case if she were -allowed- to land without a followup from Michael. As it is though, she manages to act quickly enough to sweep her other arm into the path of the kick. Michael's split-toe tabi's make a clanking sound against the reinforced shell of her gauntlet, barely overpowering the grunt from his target.

Mint hops backward, the light glimmering onto Michael's form however briefly as she shuffles her feet from side to side, settling into a proper pugilist stance. "Oh, c'mon, kitten, we're just gettin' t'know each other!"

Speed is of the essence though -- and Mint feels like she needs to make this count. "What name /should/--" She lurches forward with a wild right hook to the chin, aimed at spinning Michael around -- and timed to interrupt her own question! "-- I call you?!"

COMBATSYS: Michael blocks Mint's Hook Punch.

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Mint             0/-------/--=====|==-----\-------\0          Michael

As the reinforced fist surges towards the blonde man's chin, he quickly raises both arms, the impact alone forcing him to stumble a few steps away from the military chick. Obviously he wasn't expecting rocket punches. Rocket punches could be a form of cheating. Then again, he's a ninja so he's pretty much an expert at cheating so he really isn't in a posiston to call Mint out on it.

"You can call me your wake up call. Do you really think that you're doing good by allowing /them/ to enter our country?!"

Pointing his ninjato at the disabled trucks, the ninja gives the soldier an incredulous look of what most would consider disapointment, but its just that much more. It's disgust, that those who took an oath to uphold honor and justice for one of the greatest nations is readily and willing to turn a blind eye to allow those to cause it harm a free ticket in, knowing that they'll just do that much more damage to those who cannot protect themselves.

Once more the smell of burning o-zone starts to permeate the air around Michael, as micro-explosions of electricity start to form. Arcs of blinding white start to fly off of the ninjato now, as chi-infused electricy fully springs to life upon the ninja's hands. Slowly, the hands are moved, his arms stretched out as the chi wriggles and writhes now upon his arms.

In a well practiced motion, his arms rapidly cross over his chest, only to once more be snapped apart. The motion itself causes the chi that had formed upon both hands to form two discs of yellowish-white energy to launch themselves towards the Soldier, seeking to electrocute her like no one has electrocuted her before.

COMBATSYS: Mint dodges Michael's Plasma Blade.

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Mint             0/-------/--=====|==-----\-------\0          Michael

Her fists resound against the ninja's expertly raised guard. Wearing down defenses over time is definitely a weapon in the pugilist's arsenal. And a -necessary- move considering the momentum she's already lost from not being able to see her opponent.

Mr. Wake Up Call, though? "Naaaah, I'mma stick with 'Chuckles.' Too many syllables!" She hops back onto her toes, shuffling around to Michael's side. Footwork is one of the foundations of boxing; staying at the limit of prime punching range is a prerequisite to striking hard and striking often.

Mint -does- give him a raised eyebrow, and a thoroughly confused look -- though the ninja might be forgiven for missing that in the shine of her gauntlet lights. "... Dunno what the heck you're on about, their paperwork checked out. They're doin' their job, an' you're tryin' to stop me from doin' mine!"

Still -- as relatively impaired as her vision may be in the darkness, Minal can still recognize the tell-tale signs of an impending attack. She clucks her tongue, raising her fists in a defensive stance. It might seem like she's guarding too high -- and she is! But as her gauntlets spit out twin columns of orange flame, it becomes clear once again that she's no traditional pugilist -- the thrust carries her up and over the discs of sizzling electrical chi -- just barely close enough to send a ticklish shiver right up her toes and through her legs.

The laugh isn't quite voluntary. "Ahahaha... " But as she raises her arms again, and the thrust ebbs away, it becomes clear she's lunging in for another strike. "I know a guy who does that! Or somethin' like it..."

The engines don't flare -- but Mint swings -both- fists around in an overhead, non-traditional strike. And just a split-second before their intended impact on Michael's upper body, the sound of pneumatics can be heard, imparting even more forward momentum to each of her knockout punches! "OORAH!"

COMBATSYS: Michael dodges Mint's BFH.

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Mint             0/-------/--=====|==-----\-------\0          Michael

"...Are you mentally handicapped? I don't quite feel good about beating down a disabled person."

Michael stares at Mint in utter disbelief due to her statement. Of course these guys are just doing a job. One that's illegal and hurts a lot of people! One that Mint SHOULD by all counts be looking to prevent.

Something here stinks, and Michael is now a bit more worried about just what exactly is going on, and the fact he may have bitten off more then he's capable of even chewing. Sadly, he doesn't quite have the time to process this as MechaGirl suddenly launches herself forward, bringing the gauntlets down towards his precious headmeats. Gotta protect those headmeats, or else he'll end up just as addled as the poor soldier!

The ninja nimbly leaps backwards, the gauntlets narrowly passing his face by mere millimeters. A few of his precious golden hairs are sheered by the flaming gauntlets, obviously putting the ninja now in a dangerous situation. Mint's managed to invade the man's personal space, and that's usually bad times for a ninja.

Obviously step one would be to once again put distance between himself and the soldier, but that doesn't quite seem like it'll happen in the immediate future, so its time to move onto step two. Balling his fist up, Michael suddenly ducks down, twisting his body as if he were a spring, rapidly shooting upwards with his fist aimed right at the girl's chin to knock her away.

COMBATSYS: Mint interrupts Fierce Punch from Michael with Foxtrot Oscar.

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Mint             1/-------/=======|=====--\-------\0          Michael

COMBATSYS: Mint blitzes into action and acts again!

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Mint             1/-------/=======|=====--\-------\0          Michael

With the blowback from Mint's punches apparently hot enough to singe her opponent's hair, it's pretty clear that the corporal's bespoke weaponry is powerful enough to lay some serious hurt on. As she can tell that her aerial strikes are not going to land, she throws her boots down to keep herself from taking a nasty spill. Treads grind into the dry desert scrub as she recovers...

And then the Indian's face screws into a look of utter disgust, as her fists latch back into their retracted positions.

"Huh," she considers aloud, drawing back as she thinks about that for a moment. A thumb flicks out, jabbing towards her sternum. Glowering back at Michael, she nonetheless keeps an even tone: "Disabled vet, grinding you up into sriracha sauce? Would -that- be okay?"

Michael provides his answer. And Mint seems like she's ready for it, swinging her shoulders and head up and away. The uppercut meant for her chin slams instead into the underside of her left gauntlet with a loud clang. An instant later, there's a -second- clang as the gauntlet slams into Mint's chin, its force dampened by Mint's resistance.

At that point, though, Michael's still in striking range. And she has the perfect way to deal with that -- a rapid-fire punch to the sternum! As Minal's right shoulder hammers forward, she's able to recover from the shock to her arm and her chin, stepping forward so she can spring back into a hard left hook to the same location. Mint steps forward for a third swing of her right gauntlet, aimed a bit higher to crack across Michael's chin...

The last three hits may have been pro-grade, above the belt stuff. But she's not done yet -- Michael done pissed her off but -good-.

The engines flare to full speed again, as Mint aims to capitalize on her momentum in driving him backwards. She'll put the bulk of her weight into one hard left-handed punch straight into the abdomen. Powerful enough to make him lose his lunch if it hits. Mint is -not- holding back on that, not after what he said!

COMBATSYS: Michael counters Heavy Punch from Mint with Surging Strike.

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Mint             1/--=====/=======|-------\-------\0          Michael

The giant fist to the chest sends Michael skittering backwards, gasping for breath only to have the world turn black for a few moments as the next blow to his chest fully sucks the oxygen out of his lungs. Black turns to vivid white as the third blow suddenly lashes out, catching his chin to rapidly bring him back to a rather disturbing reality.

As the fourth blow rockets towards him, chi infused electricity suddenly springs forth from his every pore, driving him to move faster then he had before. The hand is neatly caught as years of shinobi training suddenly kick in, instinct winning out over logic.

His eyes are still a little dim as the momentum of the punch forces Michael to rapidly spin around, the ninjato flashing out towards Mint's chest, neatly slicing her body with impressive force. As the ninjato arcs past the woman, it's released to fly down into the ground as Michael launches into his follow-up.

Electricty violently explodes upon the ninja's right fist, as he drops downwards, once again springing up with extreme force as he drives the fist into the woman's freshly slashed chest.

The sound of a thunder strike suddenly explodes as the electricity violently releases itself upon Mint, sending the sheer force of one of the most violent acts of nature surging through the young soldier's body.

Irregardless if the woman is sent flying away like a bad Saturday morning villian or not, Michael will remain where he stands, panting heavily as he starts to regain his own senses. The expectations of his heritage are finally starting to catch up to him.

While the corporal's punch is slowed to a halt, that has very little effect on the momentum of the rest of her! The extreme weight imbalance of her right gauntlet carries her forward into the ninja's trap. A last-ditch try to swing her momentum out to the side only leaves the Special Forces NCO's wide open for the pointy edge of Michael's ninjato.

An arc of crimson sprays out from Mint's chest, as cloth and flesh are sundered in one fierce slash. It's only -then- that the corporal's momentum is brought to a halt, punctuated by a high-pitched yowl of pain.

She staggers backward, starting to raise her gauntlets to defend the gushing wound in her chest -- but that's when Michael jams a high-powered taser punch right into her, like salt into the open wound.

The flash of lightning engraves the images of the two fighters into stark relief. The crack of thunder splits the heavens. And Mint finds herself rocketing backwards in direct opposition to her built-up momentum.

And then there is darkness, save for the beams directed straight into the ground, as a beleaguered Mint drives her gauntlets into the ground knuckle-down for support. Panting heavily, with tears streaming from her eyes at the double impact, she shakes her head as she tries to come to grips with the pain. The only real plus side is: the heat from the lightning effectively cauterized the grievous wound.

"Man, I've heard better trash talk from CoD tryhards at 3 in the morning!" Metal creaks, as she draws her right fist off the ground. She lifts the cap off her head, tucks her sweat-matted hair back underneath the brim, and replaces it. "Can you at least -try- to not be a swamp-ass colostomy bag? It ain't doin' nothin' for me... specially not with that winnin' attitude..."

The left fist raises off the ground, its cone of light growing, just before shifting rapidly forward. Both fists clank together. And then Mint suddenly surges forward, twin trails of orange lighting the night sky.

One rocket-powered leap will allow her to close the gap to Michael, leaving her dropped low. One solid, smashing uppercut will sear towards his gut. And if it lands according to plan ,the blow would send him skyward. Six punches, in rapid-fire succession, would then percuss into his frame -- with her follow-through on the last sending her into a reverse spin. The final strike would be simple, and direct -- a broadside backhand, aimed at slapping Michael right out of the air and skipping him off the pointy bits of a cactus!


COMBATSYS: Mint successfully hits Michael with Charlie Foxtrot.

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Mint             1/-----==/=======|====---\-------\0          Michael

Once more, those giant fists of the soldier girl have managed to overwhelm his senses with the power of her massive blows. He's not able to even keep count this time, eyes glazing over as he is sent flying down into the cactus patch, colliding violently with the mighty barrel cactus, bane of anyones existence.

Moments pass as the American Ninja lays upon the painful needles, concious thought once more managing to make itself known. He's going to spend the next two weeks plucking the needles from god knows where on his body, and then he'll spend just as much time itching due to the pollen residue that remains on them. No matter what, in this aspect, Mint is the undisputed winner for long lasting discomfort.

Eventually, the blonde man rises, a slight whimper escaping his lips as he pulls places his hands into more needles, in an attempt to remove himself from the vile desert plant. As he rises, he quickly plucks the needles from his hands, sending small bullets of blood into the dried ground.

"Jesus christ. That one was uncalled for no matter the situation. You should really feel ashamed of yourself. Do you have any idea just how bad this is going to hurt?!"

The ninja stands upright now, only to growl slightly as a few of the needles shift on his backside. In an attempt to ignore the discomfort, Michael lunges back towards Mint, his left leg spinning out as he closes the distance in an attempt to deliver a beautiful (yet painful) overhead roundhouse to Mint's clavicle.

COMBATSYS: Mint dodges Michael's Strong Kick.

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Mint             1/-----==/=======|====---\-------\0          Michael

A small cloud of inky black dust rises as Mint's boots slam back into the earth, illuminated in the fading orange glow from her gauntlets' exhaust. An instant later, two beams of light fall onto Michael's body. A moment later, a swarm of small crimson dots falls onto him as well -- silent (and less painful) reminders that this is not a safe place for a nap.

Allowing time to catch her breath, an irritable Corporal Panesh jerks one of the beams of light away, signaling a 'Hold on!' gesture to her men. They were trigger-happy before, they might just need constant reminders! But as Michael lets himself down and starts delivering dire warnings, she shakes her head with a world-weary expression. "Yeah, well... you shoulda thought about that before picking a fight in the desert!" The corporal is usually slow to anger, but she's not cutting Michael any slack considering his poor word choice just a few moments prior.

Mint keeps her fist extended, bathing Michael in light as her other fist raises defensively. She bobs and weaves from side to side -- surely, she's getting tired, but she refuses to just roll over and let the speedy ninja pull one over on her. Indeed, she shows just how agile she -can- be as Michael's tabi-clad foot scythes towards her -- she can feel the warmth blistering off his foot as it whistles dangerously close to her nose.

She continues shuffle-dancing backwards, stepping sideways as she recovers her balance. And she once more shines both of her lights into Michael's eyes as she digs in her heels. "If pain's not your thing, maybe you should just give up now!"

The brilliant lights in the midst of darkness has the advantage of hiding the orange glow of her turbines flaring to life yet again. One moment, she is cantilevering herself backwards against the roaring thrust.

The next, she is leaning forward -- carried along by the most powerful twin-engine surge of thrust yet. "OOOO-RAAAAH!" She thunders forward with hellacious speed, aiming to plow right into Michael's sternum -- and quite possibly slamming him -into- the massive wall of rebar-reinforced concrete!

COMBATSYS: Mint successfully hits Michael with MOAB.
Grazing Hit

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

Once more those mechanized monstrosities that Mint calls 'gauntlets' slam into Michael's chest, this time giving the young soldier a very (unless she's squeemish) satisfying crunch as multiple ribs prove unable to handle the pressure that's been placed upon them.

Michael is fairly sure that one of his inherited skills isn't flight, but it really seems like he's doing a fair amount of it this night, only to remember far to late that the other part to flying is landing.

A sickening crack echoes out as the blonde man slams into the reinforced concrete wall, his head leaving a thin trail of crimson as he slides down the wall, now laying in a crumpled heap upon the ground. Unlike the cactus patch treatment, the Ninja shakily starts to climb back to his feet.

He could, infact continue the fight, but right now that would be far more dangerous considering he still would have to deal with the people on the bus, as well as the other soldiers.

Slowly, Michael reaches into his gi, and pulls out a thin vial. The vial is tossed down upon the ground, as a thick cloud of black smoke violently rises upwards, rapidly spreading outwards and concealing the form of the ninja within.

A sharp whistle is given from within the cloud, as the nearby dog rushes past the soldier girl, snatching the ninjato in the ground up by its hilt, only to then bound into the darkness.

Once the smoke clears however, all that is left of the ninja is a thick trail of blood upon the concrete wall...

A moment after impact, Mint's boots land hard on the ground once again. Her flashlight beams had been casting a bright light onto Michael, but the shadows of those beams stretched all the way back to the wall -- and most notably, -didn't- catch sight of the dog everyone must surely know is present.

But the corporal does not stop there -- after collecting herself, she resumes a jogging pace, keeping her right gauntlet raised to continue casting light upon the American Ninja Warrior while the other pumps back and forth, impelling the soldier faster. So she has a perfect view of Michael pulling a vial from his gi.

She skids to a stop, bracing her right gauntlet with her left. And she prepares to fire off a volley of darts from the firing port protruding from her gauntlet's engine intake. "You're under arrest! Stay right where you are!"

It's ... too late though. And Michael disappears into a cloud of smoke.

She stares and watches in disbelief. The desert provides no answers -- just the gentle chirps of insects and larger fauna, and a dry, harsh breeze. The irritated corporal slams her metal fist into the nearest cactus, shearing it clean off with a spurt of desert moisture. She reaches for her radio, barking out a command to secure the area.

Cortejo Znebre was never really the issue. It wasn't years ago, when the purported "terrorist cartel" attempted to blast their way into the Shadaloo facility hidden beneath the village of Pueblo Thunderfoot. And it isn't now, with their name being merely a spectre of the past, a shortcut for the sense of "danger" hardcoded into the Minal Panesh's custom gauntlets.

She starts to walk back to the convoy, setting her jaw into place. She knows there's... likely to be casualties. "And where in the hell is my first aid team?" she barks into the radio. And while Michael's assertion that these are, in fact, hostile, high-value targets ripe for acquisition, Mint's read of the situation is different. For, in her own mind, these hostile targets were merely Special Forces agent on an undercover, top secret mission. All their papers checked out, with the official signatures she needed to keep the brass happy. Why should she share information about a clandestine mission with an unaffiliated civilian? Mint has -principles-.

She walks up to the survivors -- some with flashlights, looking to pick up the pieces. Some turn to her with faint traces of purple light in their eyes.

Mint snaps a quick salute, clicking the heels of her boots together.

"Sorry for the disturbance. We're doing what we can to get you underway again ASAP."

Log created on 08:12:28 07/11/2018 by Michael, and last modified on 18:37:39 07/23/2018.