The Bell Tolls - TBT Act 2 - Underground Mints

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Description: While visiting Sunshine City in hopes of purchasing some land for future endevours, Ken's business is disrupted by Mecha-Mole-Girl Mint!

Sunshine City.

A total hell hole to some, a paradise to others.

Most corporations tend to steer clear of it after its fall to the numerous criminal organizations that now call it home. Yet, there are some brave enough to attempt to try and help breathe new life into this city. Especially since no one else really wants to.

Leaning against a black Mercades, Ken Masters stands on the outskirts of the city, staring at the numerous abandoned buildings and ruined streets leading into the outerlying area of the once majestic city. A cellphone is pressed against his ear, nodding his head to the person on the other line.

"Yeah. I disagree with the county assessor on this one. It's going to cost a fare bit more then the original assessment. Hell, the basic infrastructure will need to be overhauled entirely. Plus, the original report states there is still rumored to be high criminal activity which totally is going to make things a lot more difficult."

The blonde man sighs heavily into phone, only to speak dejectedly once more. "Look.. if we have to.. Call the Kanzuki Zaibatsu and see if they're interested in taking part of this venture.."

The pavement beneath Mr. Masters' car begins to shudder. It's a small sound at first, but the rhythm is undeniable: a tiny grinding impact, once every three seconds or so.

Wham. Wham.

Wham! Wham!


A one-meter-wide sinkhole opens up in the pavement, a couple car-lengths away from Ken's car. Asphalt collapses into the widening void. The steady rhythm is halted -- no doubt due to the shattered fragments raining into the sinkhole.

And then, some ten seconds later, one more grind of metal against pulverized asphalt. A plume of smoke erupts into the air, followed a tirade of hoarse coughing.

"I hate dealing with them as well. Thankfully, its your job to deal with them and not mine."

The moment the car starts to shudder, Ken immediatly moves away from it and stares at the shaking ground. "I'll call you back." The phone is slipped into his left pant pocket, and he quickly starts moving closer to inspect just what is going on.

As he hears the coughing, he quickly rushes back to his car, searching for something that could be used as a rope to help whomever is coming out up to more solid ground. Quietly he curses, and removes his jacket, rushing over to the edge of the sink hole and tosses it down so whomever is trying to get out can grab ahold of the sleeve.

As Ken's sleeve snakes its way down into the hole, there is a moment of mute hesitation from the person on the receiving end.

Okay, it's more than just a moment. It's a good five seconds, actually.

And then, finally, there is the sound of motion. The grating sound of metal sliding past metal -- and then a firm grip on the sleeve.

More rocks begin to fall into the yawning aperture -- for while the captive is holding onto the sleeve, there's also the sound of what could be as heavy as a sledgehammer bashing at the interior diameter of the hole.

And then, finally, head and shoulders emerge, as Corporal Minal Panesh, of the U.S. Special Forces, extricates herself from the hole. Those weren't sledgehammers -- those were her mechanical gauntlets. And her right one, while recognizable as a twin of the left, appears to have been mostly -crushed-.

"... haa... haa..." pants the dark-skinned Indian-American, as she attempts to worm her legs free from the debris. "thanks...! ugh..."

The blonde man quickly grabs ahold of the Marine's left arm, pulling on her to help her free herself from the debris. Once he ensures she's free, his eyes do a once over of the young woman, checking to see if there is any visible wounds that would require immediate medical attention.

"You okay?"

Ken rushes once more to the car, and opens the drivers side door, only to reach in and pull out a half-empty bottle of water. He moves back towards the Marine, and kneels down, offering it to her.

"Here. Drink this. Make sure you rinse your mouth out first. I'm pretty sure they used an extreme amount of asbestos down there..."

Mint has been in better shape before. She seems whole, at least -- a heavy coating of dust has settled onto her combat fatigues. Her left knee looks swollen, but in all actuality, it's a metal replacement joint anyway. Her right arm is completely seized up, its metal gauntlet immobilized with a number of dust-laden scuff marks. Both arms have more than their fair share of carbon-fiber punctures and metal dings and dents.

She staggers back to her feet, wobbling woozily from side to side. As soon as convenient, she'd be totally happy with just collapsing to a seated position on the pavement, some distance away from the crater she's just extricated herself from.

Is she okay? She nods her head mutely to the question -- on a scale of one to ten, she might be at a five or six, but she's breathed in so much dust as to make another verbal answer unwise.

Once Ken returns with water, she nods back to him, reaching eagerly for the bottle. The first sip is just enough to whet her palate -- and thankfully, it gives her the moisture necessary to spit out the rest of the dust. After that though...

Well, Mint tears through water bottles on the -best- of days.

The dark-skinned Marine flashes a grateful smile up at Ken. "Thanks... Lucky for me, you were, here..."

Ken watches the girl tear through the water, giving her the time she needs to regain her bearings. He holds a hand out to her to help her to her feet if she chooses. "I guess so!"

The blonde man flashes the young woman one of his most charming smiles, before reaching into his pocket once more to retrieve his cellphone. His fingers fly across the screen, rapidly sending a text message off before sliding it back into his pocket.

"I'm Ken. Ken Masters." He glances down at the lapel of the woman's uniform, noticing the rank. He glances a little further south to her chest, noticing the name. Obviously he's doing his best to not be a creeper, but with how the military makes their uniforms? It's pretty hard not to seem that way.

"And you would be Corporal Panesh?"

At the moment, the Marine seems content to have her head above ground. As the sun peeks out from around the cloud it'd been hiding behind, Mint squints her eyes and raises her left arm to block the warming rays.

It was either that or the radiance reflecting off that perfect set of teeth.

Ken... Ken Masters. That does sound familiar... Mint blinks unsteadily, looking up at the man's face. "Ken... Masters..." she repeats, just below a normal speaking voice.

She snaps a, "Yes, sir, that's right!" as a confirmation of her own name. "Corporal..."

Drifting off, she looks down, gaze swiveling back towards the hole she'd just left. "... Yeah. That's me. Sorry, my team..." She reaches for Ken's arm, pulling herself back to her feet. "My team's down there, I gotta go back for them..."

And then it hits her, and she turns a skeptical eye back at Ken.

"Ken Masters? Like, -The- Ken Masters?" She flashes an ebullient smile, though it starts to fade with the realization of her mission failure... "It's... It's an honor to meet you, sir, but--"

"I don't think it's a great idea for you to go back down there right now. Even if you have other men down there, the important thing is for you to get help. You aren't in any shape to go rushing back to whatever you just got out of."

Ken leans towards the Marine now, steadying her with his own body as she gets to her feet. He starts to guide her now towards the car, using his right arm to steady the woman while he reaches into his pocket once more to retrive his cellphone with his left hand.

His thumb rapidly flies across the screen, only for him once more to lift it up to his ear. "Hey. It's me. I need a team sent down here immediatly. You may want to also give a call out to the Navy and let them know I've got an injured Marine, and there's possibly more. No, I'll explain everything later. No, I'm not giving you their name. Just get it done."

Mint had looked pleased for one brief moment -- but as Ken starts dissuading her from her stated course of action, she shakes her head in frustration. "... No, no, you see, I'm sick of you always telling me the next thing to do. There are -real men- down there, sir--"

Mint frowns, as she looks back up at Ken's eyes. His -face-. The one she's never received orders from before.

Her eyes lose their lustre. A moment ripe for opportunity, seized upon as Ken begins guiding her towards the car.

Her mouth parts in confusion, about halfway through the journey. But it isn't until she's allowed to stand in place for a few moments, listening to Ken as he barks out orders across his screen, that she actually reboots the process of understanding just -what- is going on here.

"... With... with all due respect, Mr. Masters, you're... not in my chain of command."

She starts to pull away, looking down at the damaged finish of her right arm, as mechanical fingertips brush against it.

Anything to avoid eye contact again.

"They... they could be -dying- down there. Or already dead, I don't even know..."

"You're right. I'm not, however I do understand you're injured, and that going back down there in your current condition you'll do far worse then any good. There's a fine line between bravery and stupidity and you're dancing on it."

The phone is placed into Ken's pants once more, only for him to let go of Mint's arm, to place both hands upon her shoulders. He notices her attempts to avoid his gaze, which is enough to make him sigh loudly.

"Listen to me. Help is on the way for them. I promise you they'll get here quick, but you rushing down there in your condition is a very bad idea. I'm not a soldier, but I do know rushing head first into danger when you're barely hanging on yourself doesn't end well."

Mint starts to pull away -- and almost as swiftly, she's finding hands on her tightly-wound shoulders. Hands that could easily -hurt- in her current state, and yet, their firm pressure suggests nothing of the sort. She hears the sigh -- and it brings her back to the moment.

Dark eyes, ringed with dirt and pulverized stone, look up to meet his. Her eyes tremble with anxiety, even as her body remains more or less mute to Ken's insistent pressure.

She stares for a good, long moment. Trying to find the words.

"Six Marines and an Air Force officer are down there, Mr. Masters. Air's runnin' out -- I don't think I carved 'em a big enough opening yet."

Mint coughs, shaking her head.

"An' rushin' head first into danger is what I do."

Her metal left hand presses up against Ken's right wrist. The joints close -- and she seems more than capable of lifting his arm away if it comes to that.

"You can either help me or you can get outta my way. But I'm -gonna- widen that hole."

"All right."

The blonde man steps away from the Marine, only to undo the tie around his neck. He casually pulls the tie off and tosses it to the side as he steps around the Marine. His hands move to unbutton the sleeves on his most likely expensive shirt, deftly rolling them up to expose his forearms.

Rolling his head to crack his neck, Ken suddenly leaps into the sinkhole created by Mint, his focus changing from ensuring the safety of the girl, to the task that's now at hand. Seven people still down there? Well. It's time to show the girl just what he's made of.

While Mint may have metal gauntlets that'll allow her to break through the stone, Ken doesn't have that luxury. He's only got his bare fists.

However, Gouken ensured that would be enough.

"You may want to get behind the car. This is going to be a tad bit messy..."

~Breathe in, breathe out. Focus. Channel the chi.~

Red flames slowly start to flicker to life upon the man's right foot as he continues to focus, until it's burning like an out of control wild fire. Slowly he lowers himself to a ducking posistion, until the wild fire is now a blazing inferno, engulfing his entire leg.

The girl had to pull herself free of the debris, which means now its time to clear it.

Ken suddenly slams the burning leg forward as he rockets into the air, creating a burning vortex that draws the debris into it, sending it flying out from the top of the funnel like a cannon.


The resolute Special Forces Marine holds her ground as Ken answers her directly. She releases her hand, making no further attempt to stop him. She'd made her point clear -- and he responded as a soldier would, regardless of her authority or lack thereof. Her nostrils flare, and she nods back. And for a moment, it looks as if she'd be all set to march right back to that hole herself... But then she notices the tie being untied.

And that gives her pause. Eyes flick up and down Ken, attempting to ascertain just what he could be planning to do. And then, as he leaps, it becomes obvious.

Mint gulps, her gaze following Ken to the sinkhole. Her teeth grit -- she shouldn't be relying on a civilian! Even one as... accomplished as him! This should be a Marine job! This...

And yet, maybe he's right. His advice wasn't -bad- advice. Where is all this doubt and hesitation coming from...?

She considers things for a moment. And then she's barked at, warned to get behind the car.

She's only a Corporal. She follows the order, ducking behind the car as asked.

It's quite a sight that follows. Her eyes go wide, her jaw hanging slack as concrete, rocks, and dirt alike are hurled into the air. There's a few moments of almost fangirlish glee, as she takes in the sights -- bearing witness to power she'd need to study for years to learn how to harness.

And then she doubles over in agony, both hands pressing against her temples. Not from the storm... but from the unseen jolt of power rushing through her head, unseen.

Her left gauntlet twitches. And her right gauntlet glows bright with purple energy, searing and white-hot... until it doesn't, and soon dissipates into wisps of purple smoke.

The moment passes. Mint slumps forward, exhausted...

And then, without a further sound... she rises back to her feet.

With Ken down there excavating rock... it'd be a miracle if he were able to notice the Marine as she starts off in the direction of the nearest building. Almost as big a miracle as her not getting hit by the storm of rock.

Dropping back down to the ground, Ken lands neatly in the now very wide hole, looking into the makeshift tunnel that Mint had dug herself through. The fabric of his shirt flaps slightly as air freely flows now into the hole. At least now there's a way for rescue crews to make their way to those still trapped below.

"All right Corporal, that should give us a bit more time to wait for the rescue crews."

Leaping up once more, Ken nimbly lands on the edge of the sink hole, looking to the car. Obviously the sight of him going full tilt was too much for the girl to handle, and now she's afraid to come out!

"Corporal Panesh?"

Making his way to the car, the hair on the back of his neck slowly starts to rise, instantly putting him on guard. "Panesh?" As he rounds the side and notices that the young marine has gone AWOL.

"What the..?"

The sounds of sirens in the distance distracts him from the now missing Marine, and now he has to question if there really are other people down there. Either way, its no longer his problem, so he pulls out his cellphone once again while he leans once more against the now heavily dented Mercedes.

"Hey. It's me. Do me a favor and get a message to your brother-in-law... I think he and I should have a talk..."

Log created on 10:57:09 09/28/2018 by Ken Masters, and last modified on 09:36:43 09/29/2018.