The Bell Tolls - TBT Act 2 - Alpha and Amiga

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Description: Nagase did her job: Lee Chaolan's imprisonment prevents him from wreaking havoc on Syndicate concerns. Figuring out an appropriate punishment for the executive takes a back seat to dealing with other Syndicate concerns -- such as the fact that every Syndicate shipment headed out of Sunshine City seems to be subject to increased scrutiny from customs officials. Are the cartels responsible? Is it Shadaloo? Or could it be Kolin, the mysterious stranger on the rooftop of the Sunshine 60 building?

One doesn't uperate long--or successfully--in the world of the undergorund without developing finely-tuned senses of when efforts have been noticed. Where to be subtle and where to be brash.

When Kolin came up to the roof of the Sunshine 60 building, well... she came up for a reason, and Sunshine City's skyline surely wasn't it. That landscape is as typical as they come, particularly at night, pinpoints of lights--white, orange, yellow, red, green--flashing throughout the city, delineating streets, cop cars, beacons for passing planes. Up here, the sounds of the city are suitably muted, the faintest sounds of cars and their horns the most that really reaches up here.

Kolin came up here because she knew she was going to be pursued. Because interfering in things--creating chaos, extending it, bolstering it--is her job, right now. Keeping things off-balance, subtly tilting power here and there. Sometimes overtly so.

And that can't go unnoticed, not in an organization like the Syndicate. They'll send someone for her. So... here she is.


Yes, Kolin was undoubtedly being tailed. The resources available to a criminal enterprise as vast as the Southtown Syndicate's are too numerous to count. And even when certain powers might be able to take advantage of vulnerabilities in the network, those advantages are sure to be only temporary.

Surveillance has been constant -- and that means a certain someone has eyes on the entire city. And she does -not- like what she's seeing.

Ding. The elevator arrives at the rooftop observatory. Doors slide open like a silky whisper, courtesy of precision engineered bearings. Not a single sound is out of place. And yet, the lights shine down onto an empty elevator car, with not even the gold-plated railings, or the mirrored frame, showing any sign of occupancy. So, the elevator came up... all by itself?

The doors begin to pull shut.

And by the time they do so, Kolin's attention may be drawn by the sound of a pair of pruning shears, snipping off an errant leaf from one of the many planters arrayed across the scenic vista. It's certain that Kolin would have noticed the arrival of a young woman dressed in a loose-fitting black dress, with a stylized skull on the front. And yet, by the way the Syndicate's best ninja is standing there, gently tapping her toe against the concrete roof, it seems like she'd been there all night.

The dress's baggy red sleeves completely enshroud her gloved hands. Red boots are covered by black sheathes up to the woman's knees -- a mild distraction from the torn and tattered black leggings. Despite the intentionally sloppy look, it would be a mistake to write off the talented kunoichi, as she turns her amber-lensed Lennon glasses towards Kolin.

The clipped leaf is in one hand, the pruning shears in the other. The shears aren't a threat -- not a direct one, anyway.

Eye contact is made. A smartalecky smirk crosses her rust-tinted lips. "So who y'waitin' for?"

Surprised? Maybe. But Kolin is calm; Nagase's entrance merely draws... a smile, from the blonde woman. After all, the last ninja she fought was not nearly as secretive about his entrances. He was more... brute force. But Kolin appreciates subtlety and skill, and so it's a genuine, if still a touch frosty, smile that she turns towards the 'gardener'.

"It would appear," she replies, after a moment, "that I was waiting for you." The Russian-inflected voice is not something one hears often in Sunshine City, but Nagase's a traveler of the world, so that ought not to be unusual.

"You are here on behalf of the Syndicate?" she asks, to confirm her suspicions. Or assumptions. It's true that the Illuminati has no shortage of--competitors--but they are only engaging in active measures versus a few of them at any one time. Even the Illuminati must decide how best to spend its resources, including--even especialy--its personnel.

Though she seems calm, those blue eyes of Kolin's are sharp, cold, and analytical, things Nagase will no doubt recognize in the woman, even with her relatively relaxed posture.

The wildly-coiffed kunoichi seems pleased at Kolin's polite response; it's enough to draw a more symmetrical smile. "Aww, how -sweet!-" Nagase straightens her spine, allowing both her hands to fall by her side. A moment later, with a seemingly idle swish of her dress's hemline, the gardening shears disappear entirely from view.

The assertion that sounds like a question is met with a raised eyebrow. Surely, the one who was on the second-place team for the last King of Fighters is undoubtedly the more famous of the two. Nagase has a legendary ninja reputation to uphold. This other woman, though...?

"My, my, you know so much about me! Yes, my name is Nagase -- and it seems you have me at a loss!"

Her fingertips pluck at the hem of her dress, tugging it outward for an appropriation of a formal Western-style curtsy. "So on whose behalf are you here, Miss...?"

Well. Nagase could just have randomly decided to ninja her way up to the roof of Sunshine 60 without a real reason. But... the chances of that are slim bordering on none, so Kolin took a measured guess. And, in fact, she doesn't know SO much about her... but enough. "My name is... Kolin. It's so nice to meet," she says, sounding dry but sincere about it. After all, most people who join up with the Syndicate do so for money, and that makes them potentially very valuable assets... if not now, then in the future.

"And I am here..." A pause, and another smile.

"I am here on my own behalf." It wouldn't do to expose the whole thing right off the bat, now, would it? And it's technically true. Kolin hasn't entered into this action on the express orders of Gill, or Urien. She's... taking some initiative. So she's here purely of her own will.

Casually, she tightens her gloves' fit on her fingers, left first, then right, rippling her fingers to keep them loose.

"But I think we both know _why_ we're here... nyet?"

"What a nice name!" chirps Nagase, her tone reaching a cheerful pitch that borders on insincerity. She maintains eye contact, folding both her hands by her side, palm and knuckles faced away to reveal the metallic armor plating. If it weren't a practically standard part of the shinobi's attire -- moreso than the ratty punk rocker gear she's got on, in fact -- it might be considered a prelude to combat.

Her demeanor, though, seems perfectly conversational for the moment -- as Nagase, like Kolin, is still trying to gauge out the flow of conversation.

"Your... own behalf?" asks Nagase, her thin lips contrasting with the mischievous glint in her eye. The statement is repeated just as a mention that, yes, Nagase heard her correctly.

"Yeah, it ain't so I can tend flowers, and it ain't a sightseein' trip. So yeah." Rolling her head left, right, and back again, she folds both hands behind her back, widening her stance. A method to make her look bigger, like a fringed lizard, perhaps?

"We had ourselves a nice little arrangement with the authorities, and that changed recently." The toes of one boot tap on the concrete once, twice, thrice in short order. "Ain't really my place to pass blame here. At the end of the day, though, I just need to make sure the gears turn and the sausage gets made. Kinda hopin' you got some information, 'cause it ain't gonna be pretty if the Syndicate needs to send some more folks out this way, yeah?"

"Mmm. Yes, so I'd heard." That smile again, though this time, Kolin's visage gives a sly, teasing cast to her features.

"Truly a problem, isn't it? Still... I'm afraid that I can't be of help with that. You see..."

"It is indeed my doing that is causing your problems--the Syndicate's problems," she amends.

"However, as it is to benefit, I'm afraid that the situation must continue for some time." How and why and for how long are not answers Kolin is willing--or even prepared--to give, at this point.

She slides her feet apart slightly, right foot forward, left back, turning her body slightly. Not quite sliding into a fighting stance, but more than halfway there.

"I'm sure the Syndicate would be interested in stopping it, but..." She trails off.

"Mere numbers will not do anything to dissuade me. It's good that they sent one of their best."

Nagase listens, her lips pressing together into a firm line as each successive statement is delivered, like a dart flung into a heavily-dimpled dartboard.

"Well, Kolin -- since you're here on your own behalf, the problem's -really- simple from my viewpoint." Toes tap -- with impatience just itching to erupt on her face as well. "So, thanks to your admission, do you mind if I review? -You're- stopping our shipments, that means -you're- either... working with the Akatsuki? Which is rich, since if they manage the impossible would -surely- go for a power grab on the rest of the Sakhalin Oblast. Gosh, Mother Russia losing -more- territory? What a -pain in the ass!-" Making full use of her reformatted Battle Disc System, she makes sure to emphasize that by saying it in Russian for effect.

"Ooooor you're just a small-fry hoping to take advantage of the chaos. Filthy! But you can't expect -either- of those to endear yourself -- or those who you -aren't- here in behalf of -- to us."

Kolin may be shifting to one side, but Nagase pointedly pivots in the other direction, positioning her shoulder opposite Kolin's.

"We don't -have- to be enemies here, Kolin. And don't worry, it won't come down to numbers -- so long as we -both- get something of benefit out of this deal, hmm?"

Her head tilts away, as she scrubs her finger across the bridge of her nose.

Her voice loses all trace of sass -- taking on the edge of an assassin's blade. "So, yeah. Make me a deal, Kolin, or put me in touch with someone who actually can."

That gets... another smile. "<I am not working with the Akatsuki, I'm afraid. And I'm also afraid that I don't care much for 'Mother Russia', either, Nagase.>" Kolin responds to the Russian in Russian, as is only natural, then smiles a little more fully.

"Had I wished to -endear- myself to the Syndicate, I would not have stopped the shipments in the first place." Or, actually, made it possible, through cutouts upon cutouts, with subtle force. It's not like Kolin herself went down to Police Plaza and held a meeting with the heads of the department, after all.

"I'm afraid that for now, Nagase, we are at cross-purposes. For reasons I am not allowed to tell you, in this matter, you and I are enemies. Perhaps someday this will not be so." Her lips quirk a little. Not quite a smile--her smile faded as Nagase's sass faded.

"But if you defeat me--here, now, atop this rooftop--then I will... ease the pressure." A small concession to make. Kolin understands the pressures of working for dangerous people. Urien and Duke? Surely that would be something to watch--with popcorn. From a mile or two away, minimum safe distance.

COMBATSYS: Nagase has started a fight here.

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Nagase           0/-------/-------|

COMBATSYS: Kolin has joined the fight here.

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Nagase           0/-------/-------|=------\-------\0            Kolin

Nagase frowns as her Russian is matched with Russian -- though, thankfully, her augmented-reality glasses are quick to provide subtitles in real-time. It helped, of course, having the Russian language database already downloaded; one of the things one would have to do in helping out Mr. Burkoff's business, after all.

"You sure ain't shy about takin' credit for that..." she offers with a fair amount of mirth. To Nagase, it seems odd for Kolin to give yet -another- reason for the Syndicate to exact retribution, but hey... it's just a job, really!

"Well, thanks for clarifying things all the same..." she starts -- only for Kolin to lay down a proposition that she -can- accept. A challenge.

She stops in her tracks, rubbing her finger across the bridge of her nose.

"It's a showdown, then...!"

It could be a trap. It might -not- be. But Nagase's already tilted the battlefield in her favor by tampering with the elevator. And unlike Kolin, the ninja has multiple ways of descending the 60-story building unaided.

One of those is teleportation. Which explains how Nagase is able to step forward, clearing the several-meter gap to Kolin in less time than the blink of an eye. One fist flies towards Kolin, followed sharply by a backfist. She'd bring both fists together for a rising axehandle into the stomach, and then lean backward into a backflip kick, aimed at blasting Kolin backwards!

Should all of -those- land, the Iga-ryuu prodigy would demonstrate teleportation yet again, by teleporting behind the airborne Kolin and scything a -second- backflip kick into her! "Nin-nin!"

COMBATSYS: Kolin blocks Nagase's Assault Mode - Sky Stage.

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Nagase           0/-------/-------|==-----\-------\0            Kolin

Kolin is not unversed in the weird. That said, it's both a surprise, and not, when Nagase launches her assault. The attack itself--expected. Necessitated, by the way the dialogue had gone. The form of it? That's different, and Kolin's eyebrows raise momentarily as Nagase teleports. A rare talent indeed, however she comes across it. But not rare enough to disable Kolin's defenses. Nagase, with her Battle Disc System, will suss out fairly quickly that Kolin uses Systema, a distinctly Russian, which in this case, means pragmatic, martial art, and she takes as minimal movement as possible to defend against the assault of attacks, not quite parrying them but using force to blunt force, to redirect, and, in the case of that final backflip kick, straight up absorb it.

The blocked attack pushes her back a step or two but does not open her up; that distance is easily covered, and Kolin does so, taking the range back and going on the attack herself, her gloved hands snapping out for Nagase's shoulders. If she can immobilize the ninja for a brief moment, she'll drive a sharp right knee up into Nagase's stomach, then drop that leg, plant it and use it as fulcrum to twist and just haul Nagase into an over-the-shoulder throw.

COMBATSYS: Kolin successfully hits Nagase with Sublimation.

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Nagase           0/-------/----===|=====--\-------\0            Kolin

Nagase's Battle Disc System does, indeed, recognize the signature elements of Systema -- but it handles the recognition as a secondary process, translating it into a bewildering array of aural, haptic, and visual indications. It took Nagase quite a long time to acclimate the sensory avalanche into her normal combat routines, but right up until the end of King of Fighters, the kunoichi had started to wonder if it was hampering her growth as a fighter. She'd finally gotten used to fighting without the artificial intelligence's whispering in her ear...

It ought to feel like riding a bicycle, like something you just never forget, even after years of absence. That is not... entirely the case. For when she first feels the tickles alerting her to Kolin's attack, she brushes it off as just a mere brush of high-altitude wind -- and not the warning of impending doom. Her failure to heed the warning is met by the firm pressure of fingertips clamping down onto her shoulders. And then by the heavy impact of a knee into her lightly-armored abdomen, forcing her to double over in wheezing pain.

The skyscraper-perforated horizon spins around her, only to halt at a sideways angle as pain slams into her shoulder and hip. Driven by pure reflex, the shinobi's quick to spring back to her feet, bobbing lightly on the tips of her toes.

"Tch! Bring it, komrade!" Nagase suddenly rushes forward, snapping a kick at Kolin's ankle, before whirling around to deliver a clearing spin kick from her opposite foot -- one punctuated by a brilliant arc of orange flame, aimed at melting Kolin's icy expression! "Yuu-sshaaaa!"

COMBATSYS: Kolin dodges Nagase's Medium Kick.

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Nagase           0/-------/-----==|=====--\-------\0            Kolin

Every bit as skilled as her research suggested--of course, that information was pretty easy to catch, what with Nagase's public appearances and all. Kolin isn't fool enough to think that those public showings tell the whole story, so she remains on her guard--and is rewarded for it, matching Nagase's quick spring forward to maintain her distance, her blue eyes open to all possibilities from Nagase's attacking stance.

Her footwork takes her just out of range for that first low kick, which, in turn, puts her in position to lean away from the second kick--the one with the bright flame arc, Kolin showing off some flexibility as she goes nearly horizontal for a moment as that arc passes over her.

Snapping back up, she converts all that kinetic energy into a percussive, simple forward punch, as if she were a tree snapping back and forward, her feet planted to root all that power into her fist.

COMBATSYS: Nagase counters Fierce Punch from Kolin with Trick Spiral.

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Nagase           0/-------/---====|======-\-------\0            Kolin

Nagase's not quite as good at hiding her emotions as Kolin; it's plain to see the sting of disappointment in the young shinobi's eyes as her skilled opponent is able to stay literally steps ahead of her movement.

A keen eye would further note the moment in which Nagase glances down at the caution notations on her amber lenses. Pursing her lips, she redirects her momentum sideways, the thick soles of her boots squeaking lightly as the warm rubber presses into the concrete roof. The ninja pivots about, staying close, but refraining from pressing the attack.

And there it is -- the circular indication she was waiting for, signaling the moment in which Kolin commits herself to forward momentum. When Kolin's punch is hurled towards her, Nagase quickly seizes Kolin's wrist, using it as the fulcrum from which to pivot herself out of harm's way. "Sou-re!" But further, the kunoichi uses her momentum against her, wrenching her opponent forward. In one swift motion, Nagase ends up behind Kolin, sweeping her arms behind her back. And then the ninja takes flight, carrying Kolin with her into a dizzyingly fast spiral. Tendrils of flame erupt from the ninjutsu prodigy's hands. Tongues of flame crawl their way up the Illuminati executive as they reach the apex of flight. And once there, Nagase steers them both so that their heads face the concrete...

At the last moment, Nagase will spring free from the coupling, relying on fire, gravity, and the concrete roof to do the rest of the work while she flips to safety. "Nin-nin~" she calls out with good cheer, staying in a low crouch as one hand drifts to the hilt of the ninjato strapped to her back.

Systema has techniques like this--fortunately so. It means that while Kolin is surprised by the counter, it isn't so out of place that she's discomboulated for more than few seconds. Of course, those seconds are more than enough for Nagase to pull off her impressive attack, bringing Kolin down headfirst into the concrete of the rooftop--and setting her on fire to boot. She doesn't stay still, any more than Nagase does--though she doesn't offer any cheery commentary, the way Nagase manages.

It wouldn't be in character for her to do so, anyways. The faintest tightening of the corners of her eyes will let Nagase know that the flames aren't going unnoticed; still Kolin resumes her stance, and despite that lingering pain, she smiles a little, just the corners of her lips upturning. Fire and ice, is it?

Perhaps the juxtaposition of their elemental affinities should be made clear; sparkling white-blue crystals glimmer in her right hand as she swings that hand back down to her hip, then sweeps it up, throwing in a quick, picturesque pirouette as a small mass of icy energy is flung into the sky--and when it reaches height, it suddenly expands into a beach-ball sized boulder of frosty energy, descending with sudden speed, straight for Nagase's head.

COMBATSYS: Kolin successfully hits Nagase with Hailstorm.
Grazing Hit

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Nagase           0/-------/-======|=======\-------\1            Kolin

Luckily, Nagase is -used- to dealing with people who keep their anger bottled up for rainy days. Against other fighters, she might have spent some time selling the momentary victory, but against Kolin... it doesn't seem like that good of an idea.

Besides, Kolin -did- extend an olive branch of sorts. One can't exactly say 'yes, I'll do you a favor' when the execution of said favor means disobeying your boss's wishes; Nagase knows all about that. So Nagase flashes a brief smile -- about as close as she's going to get to thanking Kolin for the opportunity, for now.

Her BDS alarms spot the dropping temperatures almost immediately, drawing a targeting reticle over Kolin's right hand. Nagase claps her hands together, sliding them first one way, and then apart. As the frigid boulder hurtles towards her, Nagase suddenly flickers upwards, leaving traces of herself behind in the process. It looks like she's just about to clear it, but then her shin and ankle get caught in the snowdrift, knocking her out of her ninpo technique and sending her spinning about in mid-air. Arms and legs are flung out to either side, as Nagase starts to resemble a kite fluttering to the ground...

"Tch..." she curses, breaking out of her controlled fall into a three-point crouch. Snow and ice have crystallized upon her left foot, but it hardly seems to be bothering her -- for almost instantly, she's springing upward again. With cat-like agility, and the sound of shattering ice crystals, she lands in the boughs of one of the many trees planted about in the rooftop garden.

"Fire and ice, huh? What's that they say about opposites attracting, huh?"

The kunoichi narrows her eyes, her mouth curling into a cheshire smile. Perhaps she's trying to get into Kolin's head -- or perhaps she's giving her AI heuristics a moment to catch up before providing another avalanche of data on the shinobi's opponent...

COMBATSYS: Nagase calculates her next move.

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Nagase           0/-------/-======|=======\-------\1            Kolin

So, Nagase wants to back off, and let her system do some work... and Kolin can't allow that. At best she has to keep things on an even keel, and then seek to unbalance Nagase. So while Nagase flees to the treetops, Kolin keeps careful track of her--and, the moment Nagase touches feet upon those branches, she goes into motion. It's...

It's an elegant motion, no two ways about it; almost stereotypically it begins with something that looks like a ballet manuever. Perhaps, in a different world, at a different time, Kolin might have been just that, a ballet dancer, living a happy, or at least, less violent life. But this backstepping pirouette only sets the stage for Kolin to gather that potential kinetic energy and translate it into a direct form of action.

Her booted feet crunch on the concrete of the roof, and then she launches herself, all that power coiled underneath her, transmitted through powerful legs, as she springs forward and up, tucking herself up, right arm drawn back. A gleaming, blue-white flare flashes along her hand and, as she descends, she cuts down with a knifehand strike, a blade of icy energy flaring into being around her hand as she strikes, aiming to land just past the tree in which Nagase fled to.

"I suppose we shall see which is stronger," she says, just before she springs for the strike.

COMBATSYS: Nagase blocks Kolin's Silver Edge EX.

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Nagase           1/-------/=======|=======\-------\1            Kolin

The crouching kunoichi's eyes cross as she focuses on Kolin's backpedaling pirouette. The spinning motion could lead to any number of followups; the AI's identification of her style as Systema doesn't help to classify the movement in the slightest. In this case, the Battle Disc System's general advice matches her own instinct: get ready to defend!

Nagase throws up her arms a moment before the knifehand strikes. Frigid wind slices across her sleeves, carving rents into the fabric. Ice crystals shatter upon impact, as Nagase lets the shock transmitted through her gauntlets work its way up her arms, shoulders -- and all the way down to the branch she was crouched upon, buckling the branch with a loud crack.

But while the shinobi is willing to sacrifice her choice roosting spot, and even the height advantage, she's not going to concede her momentum. As she falls backwards, she backflips out of the strike, spiralling towards the ground. While her BDS continues to keep track of her descending opponent, Nagase flings her hands out to the ground, catching herself in a fall and springing up into the air again. With her vertical spin transitioned to a horizontal one, she whips out a revolving kick, aiming to crack her boot across Kolin's knee the instant she lands. She would twist into a second kick for Kolin's thigh, then a third kick for Kolin's abdomen. The fourth kick, if it comes, would go even higher, while the fifth is brought around broadside in an attempt to knock Kolin off her feet!

COMBATSYS: Kolin blocks Nagase's Assault Mode - Ozuma.

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Nagase           1/-------/=======|=======\=------\1            Kolin

Kolin lands as Nagase's foothold breaks, absorbing the impact of landing by sinking into a crouch--and putting some of that off by using it to spin back around. And, just in time, too, as Nagase is unwilling to not be on the offensive--a strategy that seems very 'her', were Kolin to analyze it. No time right now, though; her subconcious mind and her body are busy, turning her leg slightly to take the first two kicks on her thigh, tensed to absorb the impact without too much damage, her arms absorbing the rest of the kicks from the brief, intense combination.

Systema is, as the name suggests, a fighting -system-. The difference is often lost on people, who might see it as just another martial art, and in many ways it is, but philosophically, Systema is not about improving one's self, or seeking enlightenment. It is a tool with very limited purposes--subdue, or kill, an opponent, and be quick about it. It is a battlefield weapon.

And that is why it suits Kolin so well, she who hates the battlefield and war--because it seeks to END a fight. Case in point--after Nagase unleashes her kicks, but, hopefully, before she can touch ground, Kolin will transition from defense back to offense. Reaching out, gloved fingers attempting purchase on the ninja's shoulders, or her body, anywhere she can use to get a grip on the woman.

And the purpose of that grip? To get hold of Nagase, swing her around and into the trunk of the tree that she just recently vacated, and then to sling her across the concrete.

COMBATSYS: Nagase dodges Kolin's Medium Throw.

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Nagase           1/-------/=======|=======\===----\1            Kolin

Nagase's gauntlets and boots are disproportionately heavy; if one were to put them on a scale they'd weigh almost as much as the shinobi herself. And the weight imbalance isn't just something the kunoichi can leverage in attack, but also in her reactions. For as Kolin recovers from the blistering assault, the ninja is also quick to bring her arms in close, accelerating her rotational momentum to keep free of attack. Kolin's grip will seize no more than the breeze from Nagase's dress and accoutrements as she spins free, just bare centimeters out of reach.

"Cold weather just makes ya sluggish though!" she chirps out, as her boot touches down upon the concrete. Her other boot axels around, the rest of her spinning momentum whipping away as she settles into a stock-straight ninjutsu stance. Her left hand folds flat, beneath her right hand as she raises it vertical. Black ink pools in front of her hands, swirling into a circle before spelling out an obscure kanji from centuries past.

And then Nagase's highlight-streaked hair flutters upward, as a vortex of pink flames erupts around her. The kunoichi favors Kolin with a devious smile.

And then in the very next moment, she lunges forward to deliver one solid punch. In contradiction to the ninja's flashy style, there is nothing spectacular or showy about the motion itself -- just a single, solitary punch wreathed in pink flame. As she punches, though, the torrent of pink flame will slam forward as a veritable whirlwind of force. Unlike the fist itself, targeting Kolin squarely in the breadbasket, the barrage of energy will crash into Kolin from all angles -- thoroughly disrupting the flow of chi through the woman's body! The trickster ninja hopes to shatter the woman's icy resolve, in one way or another!

COMBATSYS: Kolin counters Punishment Mode - Energy Vacuum from Nagase with Frost Touch.

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Nagase           0/-------/--=====|====---\-------\0            Kolin

It's a good thing Kolin didn't overcommit to her attempt to snag Nagase. She has to be careful about it, because Nagase is a great deal faster than most of her opponents--by a large factor. It's a new experience, fighting someone like this. A valuable one. But, in the end, not one that Kolin is interested in carrying along TOO far. Though her energy manipulation talents aren't natural, Kolin has an undeniable skill with them. Nagase is first, as that column of flame blasts out from around her, surrounding the Illuminati agent in power. No sensitive chi techniques necessary to know what's coming next, with that power raging.

The problem is two-fold--how to handle the punch, with all its flame, and the rest of the flame around her. Kolin has but moments, and she... well, improvises, a little. If Nagase wanted to break that mien of Kolin's, she gets at least a partial success, as Kolin unleashes a sharp cry, an almost wordless, brief shout, as she marshals that cryokinetic power of hers, flaring it around her--a literal clash of fire and ice.

But that leaves the punch--and Systema will take care of that. With hands empowered with more of that freezing ice, Kolin -catches- the fist, not just deflecting it. Crushing it in the iron grip of her left hand as she pulls Nagase forward, spinning her around, slashing her right hand into the ninja's back twice, then shoving Nagase forward as she ankle-trips her down.

Nagase's Battle Disc System suggested a number of possible ways that Kolin might counteract her attack. The possibility which actually occurred was not ruled out, but it was, at the time, rated extremely low in likeliness. The record has been amended for next time.

But all of that is cold comfort to a Nagase who has been spun around, slashed, and then tripped to the ground, treated as little more than a rag doll in the grip of the Systema master. Icicles burrow into the flesh of Nagase's back; if it weren't for the integral ninjato scabbards woven into the fabric of the bespoke dress, it's likely that the garment would be a tattered mess now. And it would likely be worse once the iced-over wounds begin to thaw -- though that might not be for a minute or two.

Nagase grits her teeth. She's sure she let out a cry of pain from the slashes to her back, but she was able to keep it together for the unceremonious fall to the ground. She springs back to her feet -- and with a quick pirouette, she unleashes a storm of singing steel upon her opponent. The blades' keening commingles with a loud kiai from the kunoichi, as if the loudness of the cry could chase away the pain. One ninjato carves a nearly horizontal arc towards Kolin's though -- and a split second later, a diagonal arc cleaves after it, sweeping up towards Kolin's left shoulder!

COMBATSYS: Kolin endures Nagase's Aggressive Strike.

[                     \\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////               ]
Nagase           0/-------/--=====|=======\-------\0            Kolin

Systema is what is known as a 'hard' martial art, and in some cases, that can be extremely literal. Such as now. Kolin doesn't shrink back from the blades--just enough to avoid a serious, or even fatal wound--choosing to accept those attacks, with the minimum required to avoid losing organs or limbs. In fact, there's a subtle movement for Kolin as Nagase starts the cut towards her left shoulder--she pulls it back, just a touch, to make Nagase have to lean just a little bit more for the reach.

It isn't simultaneous, though only skilled fighters and the most eagle-eyed of watchers would notice, but just after that cut to her shoulder, the joint turned to avoid a cleaving blow, Kolin responds.

It's a response from her right hand, to start, as she sheathes it once more in that icy energy--and, despite the pain blossoming in her left shoulder, she quickly follows up with her left hand, both held with stiffened fingers, bunched together, as she stabs them outwards in an almost-random pattern, several quick jabbing thrusts of toughened fingers and icy power--some of it colored pinkish, picking up the hues from the blood drawn by the blade of Nagase, dripping down Kolin's heavy jacket from the cuts to her abdomen and shoulder.

COMBATSYS: Nagase blocks Kolin's Parabellum.

[                       \\\\\\\  < >  //////////////                ]
Nagase           0/-------/=======|=======\=------\1            Kolin

Nagase normally has more to say -- but Kolin's down-to-business stoicism isn't giving her a lot of material to work with. Which is fair enough, as the woman's unrelenting combat style demands Nagase's attention to such a degree that a ton of smartaleck comments would probably seal her own fate.

No -- for times like this, cold steel is better. The ninja withdraws, swinging the blades back in such a fashion to sling the crimson fluid clear before they are replaced in their respective scabbards. It's when her shoulder is turned that Kolin begins to attack -- and it's that same leading shoulder that endures the brunt of the first strike attack. Nagase backpedals away from the series of blows, roughly keeping pace with the aggressor. But even then, she uses her armored gauntlets to good effect, parrying away the sharpest of the attacks while begrudgingly allowing the slower, wilder strikes to sink into her upper arms.

But the onslaught will not last forever. And with a faint chime, the Battle Disc System signals the completion of its preliminary combat analysis.

A devilish smirk paints its way across the ninja's face.
She claps both hands together, sliding them apart from one another.
"Okay, Kolin -- /now/ it's Go Time!"
Nagase abruptly splits into two, shearing apart in a blur of motion. The last of her words come out in stereo -- as the kunoichi uses her bunshin techniques to split herself into two separate shadow-clones!

A kick wheels about into Kolin's right. A split-second later, a second kick will slam into Kolin's left thigh. An instant after that, a hard (and bloodied) elbow will crack against against her arm. Time and time again, an incessant rain of blows will slam into Kolin, with the attacks perfectly interleaved between the right side and the left. The attack sequence would be completed by three aerial kicks, perfectly timed to juggle Kolin between them before a final spinning mule-kick can send her hurtling back towards the concrete!

COMBATSYS: Kolin blocks Nagase's Punishment Mode - Mirage Assault.

[                        \\\\\\  < >  ////////////                  ]
Nagase           0/-------/----===|=======\==-----\1            Kolin

What a unique assault! Kolin had heard of the legendary 'bunshin' techniques, but this is her first time seeing them used like _this_. She'd expect image trickery--not... whatever technique Nagase is using. She can't be sure which is real, or whether both is real, so she takes the path of defending _all_ of it. And that saves her--as it turns out that none of these attacks are feints, and the impacts are all real. Each kick sounds like the impact of a fist against a slab of meat, as Kolin defends and defends and defends.

Weathering the storm of blows, she takes that final mule-kick in both hands, not letting it blow her back completely; still, Nagase shoves her away a good three feet with that last impact. That might just be far enough for Nagase to survive, and she might feel the need to, if either her own skill or her expert system picks up on the upsurge of chi from the presumably-Russian agent, as she takes the momentum and twirls into a backstep.

That swelling power focuses into Kolin's feet as she finishes that backstep, then stomps down with her right foot. The impact sends that chi into the asphalt--and it erupts in a surging wave of ice-cold crystals spiking up, knee height, hissing towards Nagase--colder than ice, closer to sub-zero, maybe, a wave of cold lashing outward as well.

COMBATSYS: Nagase dodges Kolin's Diamond Dust EX.

[                        \\\\\\  < >  ////////////                  ]
Nagase           0/-------/----===|-------\-------\0            Kolin

As soon as her final kick lands, the two flickering images of Nagase resolve into one form. With her no longer oscillating between two locations, Nagase's momentum carries her into a forward somersault, allowing her to get a brief view of the plan Kolin might have to seal the deal. Alarms blare in her haptic response system and in the lenses of her glasses -- suffice to say, Nagase knows -something- is coming, and she has a good bet on it involving frost!

Sure enough, as soon as her boots touch the ground, the knee-high wave of ice crystals surges towards her. A panicked look flashes across her face -- merely knowing that doom is on the way is no guarantee of avoiding it! Her hands clap together, and slide apart in an upward direction, just as ice threatens to swallow her whole!

And once again, the kunoichi's smears out of existence, as encoraching crystals continue onward unabated. For a glimmer of an instant, the red-and-black of Nagase's dress might be visible some ten feet in the air -- but almost as quickly, the ninja disappears yet again!

The next indication of the kunoichi's presence, though, might be the sound of two kunai blades whipping out of her voluminous (and slightly shredded) sleeve. And an eye-blink after that, Kolin might just feel the distinctive points of the two blades piercing through her calves. Should those land -- well. Suffice to say that the sensation might just be the -opposite- of cold, as a toxic poison begins coursing through her veins. Enough to sap Kolin's strength -- and quite possibly her will to fight?!

"Nin-nin~" chirps Nagase as she starts to spin away to safety...

COMBATSYS: Kolin blocks Nagase's Punishment Mode - Poison Beat.

[                        \\\\\\  < >  ///////////                   ]
Nagase           0/-------/-------|=------\-------\0            Kolin

Hmph. Kolin twists as soon as she sees Nagase avoid the wave of ice--instinct borne of training and experience. So she's lucky in that respect, as her turn keeps one leg out of the way of the daggers, though she bites her lower lip as that poisonous fire sears its way through her body. That is... unpleasant, to say the least, and it'll be something to analyze later. Clearly, the files on Nagase are not as complete as they should be.

But... Kolin isn't about to let Nagase get away that easy. The ninja is certainly the faster of the two, but Kolin is not a plodding, lumbering thing like Abigail; she reacts swiftly, even though her leg betrays her somewhat, causing a bit of a falter before she can complete the lunge she makes.

The attack, should she reach Nagase in time, is quick, direct--one gloved hand reaching out, seeking to grab Nagase around the neck, and turn all that momentum she's got into an abrupt, downward motion. It isn't as picturesque as the quite-striking izuna drop Nagase used in the opening stages of the fight, but it might be just as effective. Perhaps Nagase is trying to get away--if so, then she might have a chance, if she avoids Kolin here. But the Illuminati don't win by betting on things like that. Fight until the opponent is gone or down.

COMBATSYS: Kolin successfully hits Nagase with Quick Throw.

[                            \\  < >  ////////////                  ]
Nagase           0/-------/-----==|===----\-------\0            Kolin

With her poison is already starting to trickle through Kolin's bloodstream, Nagase can't help but feel a little spark of hope. She's had a tough fight against Kolin, but the fact remains that the Iga-ryuu ninja is still getting back up to speed with the plethora of information provided by her Battle Disc System. She can sense the warnings, but after so long without the familiar 'tickles' in her ears and across her arms and legs...

She sees the gloved hand reaching out. An eyebrow arches -- even though the warnings say that there's no attendant frost, no upsurge of chi. And yet, the shinobi is skeptical, expecting a -second- attack, more deliberate and powerful, that the quick strike might lead her into...

A moment's hesitation is all it takes. And when Nagase's form flickers again -- it's too late. The second shadow-image of Nagase is only a hair separate from the first, as Kolin's hand clamps around her throat. There will be no witty rejoinder as the capricious ninja flits away, no -- just a choked gasp for breath as she's pulled close. And then choke-slammed down into the ground, with her armored gauntlets and boots alike flailing as she crumples. Concrete spiderwebs beneath her body as blackness crowds in upon the ninjette's vision.

And yet -- with fiery determination, she refuses to give in. While her hands spring to her throat for a mangled cough, she brings both feet together -- and SLAMS those armored boots at Kolin's shins as hard as she can. Like -hell- is the firebrand going down without every iota of fight!

COMBATSYS: Nagase can no longer fight.

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

COMBATSYS: Nagase successfully hits Kolin with Strong Kick.
- Power hit! -

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

A moment's allowance of satisfaction? A brief lowering of the guard? There may be many more reasons for why Kolin suddenly, literally, finds her shins kicked out from underneath her. It's sudden, and violent, and Kolin has to react to it the only way she can--slapping her hands down to avoid eating the concrete face-first, an act that hurts nearly as much as if she'd failed, and transferring all that sudden energy into a quick roll away.

Had she intended to apprehend Nagase, that moment is gone now--for surely, the speedy ninja can, and will, take advantage of that moment of victory to escape--unless she feels like sticking around. Because Kolin, despite all that, rises for the fight still, automatically, crouched low but still game, if Nagase sticks around.

COMBATSYS: Kolin has ended the fight here.

The kunoichi had engaged in combat with Kolin under the false assumption that she would win, handily. The first few strikes may have been reassuring, but Kolin's ability to defend against Nagase's relentless pressure revealed that the initial assessment was an underestimation at best. And with Kolin managing the feat of snagging the Iga-ryuu prodigy out of midair, well...

At that point, Nagase had swung for the stars and was more than happy with what she got out of the bargain. It's true that she may not have defeated Kolin outright -- not like the initial bargain -- but she has no hesitation in using the moment to scramble back to her feet -- albeit, she can't do so without at least -some- belabored groaning.

"Sure was nice chatting with you, Kolin!" she chirps -- as breathless and high-pitched as a high school freshman running late for science class. "Let's do lunch sometime! Have your people call my people!"

Hands clap together, and then slide apart. In the next split second, the ninja's black-and-red form stretches away towards infinity. A mere moment later, there will be no sign of her presence at all. Undoubtedly, she'll be in a safer location in mere moments.

... But she'd also left Kolin another unwelcome present: The elevator is jammed, its circuitry fused solid. After her arrival, the car had never left the top floor.

Hardly a surprise. Well... Kolin isn't unrepared for situations like this. The Illuminati has resources; she reaches into a pocket, breathing heavily, and pulls a cellphone out. Eyeing the elevator door, she activates the phone, then speaks a brief phrase into it in Russian, followed by a string of numbers--coordinates, no doubt.

That done, she calms her breathing and waits. In just a few minutes, a sleek black helicopter, all but invisible against the sky, will slide overhead, dropping low enough for Kolin to leap up into the opened door to the body. That slides shut, and the helicopter pivots and tilts forward, speeding off into the night.

Log created on 12:45:24 08/13/2018 by Nagase, and last modified on 19:09:17 08/16/2018.