The Bell Tolls - TBT Act 3 - Sins of the Past

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Description: Following her last battle, Mint revives in a secretive laboratory. Damage to her control chip has necessitated an emergency replacement, with none other than her so-called commander overseeing the procedure. Faced with the weight of her recent actions, how will Mint move forward?

In her proper state of mind, Minal Panesh would have never walked away from a living legend like Ken Masters. And certainly not when the champion was doing her a favor.

Minal Panesh is not in her proper state of mind. Her eyes flicker with traces of purple Psycho Power. The control boards -- secreted away within an artificial hand, wrapped within layer of layer of protective armoring -- is damaged beyond repair. The device's last function was to trigger a subconscious command to 'return to base', implanted deep within the woman's psyche.

But without constant infusions of psycho power, those subconscious control layers -- hard and contrary to her intrinsic personality -- would lose their effect.

If Mint were compromised more completely, she wouldn't suffer this problem. But that would have risked her utility as a shadow operative. It was deemed that this was better, at a time.

But now, as Mint re-enters the long tunnel, which mere hours earlier had led her to the secret Shadaloo laboratory... the return to base command is all she has.

The augmented soldier raises her left gauntlet. Light spills out into the empty corridor -- at one time, the project that would have supposedly led to a new renaissance for Sunshine City. Rats know better than to answer the call.

But, after three minutes of walking, it will become clear to Mint that the way is blocked. The tunnel is collapsed -- the direct result of the explosive devices placed by Charlie Nash and her squad.

Mint raises her mechanical fingers to the wall, pressing her digits against it -- searching in vain for a weakness, some handhold she could find to gain access once again.

Forehead knitting in mild frustration, she tacitly summarizes the situation for herself, and anyone who might be listening.

"... Well, f***."

Simple. Quick. Direct. And without anyone else to work with. The peace of the machinery. The peace of computers. The beeping, whirring, the lights and sounds and utter silence otherwise. Away from the damned ever present day star over Mexico and the sun god that wanted to threaten Lord Vega and more than a few headaches has left Marz in desperate and dire need of a vacation.

However, Lord Vega still has many needs to attend to and if Marz can't vacation at least she can get secret and underground and not have to deal with anyone while she works.

And this job was just to collect data and confirm the presence of still working servers and data cores among other various projects. But a simple check up is leagues better than dealing with another Sergei or Kotal.

She walks and rubs her nose, still aching from time to time since the last several beatings she's undertaken in service to Shadaloo. Her laptop open and hanging from the strap around her neck. She checks things while strolling to the data banks. Only to be interrupted by a message. A final distress call from a Shadaloo control chip in need of service, replace and repair. The reality of how close it all is and the need in these combative times makes Marz wince.

Easy jobs never stayed easy.

She sighs, closes her laptop and starts to walk to the location pinged on the alert. As with most repair requests, the bearer of the chip was guided right where they needed to go for replacement. It was a handy, handy function. But the problem would lay in who the bearer of said chip was.

Mint sighs, stepping back from the wall. She extends her left hand toward the wall again, light splashing across the collapsed corridor from the flashlight integrated in her gauntlet. Over the next few moments she's able to scan the entirety of the exposed rocks, in a sweep to determine where the safest and most efficacious point of impact should be.

And then lines of brilliant incandescent light erupt from a small port next to her left gauntlet's jet intake. Tiny segments of wire, accelerated to supersonic velocity, then etch a precision-carved line into the rocky wall. Dust flies outward, causing Mint to draw her damaged right gauntlet over her nose and mouth -- and yet, she carves a roughly five-foot-tall rectangle into the wall surface.

Once the dust clear, she then slams her gauntlet's palm into the rocks. Boulders are extracted from the wall, one by one, like a Jenga puzzle. The removed boulders are tossed aside into an ever-growing pile.

At the start of the extraction, Mint's sense of purpose was clear.

But now, five minutes into the job with her olive drab tank top soaked with sweat, Mint slowly just... stops moving. She stares at the wall in front of her, eyes crossing. And a moment later, she leans sideways against the wall, exhausted. Her ribcage heaves, as she pants for breath.

"... Dammit... what... what was I doin', again...?"

She looks down at her damaged right gauntlet, as if it might answer her rhetorical question.

And a moment later, her -left- gauntlet bleats for her attention.

Wearily, Mint answers. "KNUCKS system, report."

The gauntlet's baritone voice echoes in the tunnel, clear but at a low volume. "Primary KNUCKS offline. Secondary KNUCKS reports proximity alarm. Subject signature matching Lieutenant Fischer. Ninety yards."

Mint's nose wrinkles. "... Huh."

And then she turns around, aiming the flashlight of her gauntlet aside -- not wanting to -blind- the 'Lieutenant', but rather bounce light around the inside of the tunnel walls. "H... hello?"

Light. Thumping. Loud noises? This job is just not going to get easier. Marz takes off her glasses, still bent, they are already her spare pare of eyewear. And as she puts them back on, she pinches her nose and takes a long and annoyed sigh.

And then a voice. A not entirely familiar voice, but one that tells her that maybe this job is going to be much, much easier after all.

The little puppy dog. Perfect, Marz thinks, smiling to herself as she tries her damnedest to remember what she called herself. The knowledge a quick recall, Marz is far from a fool and is a skilled enough liar to keep things like details in mind.

"Corporal Panesh?" she calls out, turning and heading not toward the light, but back toward the laboratory rooms still in service. Somewhere where work can be done in private. Or at least, where Marz can put the tiny sleeper agent back to sleep for a little longer.

"Come this way, Corporal. I would like to check on your KNUCKS system and run some diagnostics." As a cover story, it's quick, but Marz figures there is little reason for the loyal little puppy to doubt her.

The light is held steady on the tunnel walls, providing a somewhat consistent lighting for what Mint believed would be a set of military fatigues. But instead, Mint sees a vest and a uniform she can only surmise is a tactical suit. Which... might be appropriate.

Minal breathes a sigh of relief. "Oh, good, I'm glad command thought to send..."

She trails off, eyes fixating on the Shadalooo Doll's lightning-bolt armband. And then her expression hardens, as her gaze snaps back to Marz's eyes.

"... That's... I'm... With all due respect, ma'am..." She gestures towards the wall with her deadened gauntlet. "My whole squad's buried on the other side of this wall -- shouldn't we be tryin' to get 'em out? I mean, if it's the same to you, ma'am, my KNUCKS can wait..."

The 'puppy' stands her ground.

Marz stands, the dim light and beeping of the lab as her only backdrop, a solitary figure in her unusual tactical garb. And as she adjusts her glasses with the arrival of Minal Panesh, she realizes that perhaps the puppy might be slipping her leash.

"You aren't thinking straight," Marz tells Mint, and part of her defense is she isn't lying to Mint in this moment, "If your squad is buried, there is little two of us can do on the matter. Your arms could cause tremors that may harm them more. For the moment, you need to focus on your own repair and survival for when the experts arrive."

The false Lieutenant opens her laptop, supported by her neck strap, and starts to look over details being read from the Shadaloo chip dying in Mint's arm.

"Your KNUCKS are considered the top priority for Colonel Cortez," she adds, off hand, typing and tapping away. "There's a control piece that's defective, most likely damaged in the collapse. If I can just replace it you should be fine to help when assistance comes."

It's hard enough for Mint to pay attention -- fatigued from the exertion, sweating heavily. Normally, Lt Fischer would be a source of calm and reassurance. But Minal is realizing too many inconsistencies. As stated -- she is not thinking straight.

"I was buried with them -- and I dug my way out. They're -down there-, Lieutenant, I can't just..."

Old habits die hard. Closing her eyes, she sucks in her breath, reminding herself -why- she is stuck at Corporal after a service record that's gone on much too long already.

And then she hears that name. And with her eyes closed, she remembers the last time she heard it.

/ "There is no Lieutenant Colonel Cortez. Not in the Forces, not in Interpol. I am the head of this operation. If you take your orders from Shadaloo, then I have no choice but to place you under arrest for treason..."

And her eyes open. Her gaze locks onto the Shadaloo Doll.

"Yeah, well -- Colonel Cortez ain't my boss right now. And Shadaloo ain't in my chain of command."

The light shifts abruptly, as Mint's left harm reaches over to her right elbow. A series of clicks, clanks, and whirrs, the deadened gauntlet falls to the floor with a heavy clamor, echoing loudly through the tunnel.

Her right hand crackles with faint, purple electricity. Mint raises her hand before her face, crossing eyes to stare at the phenomenon with raw alarm.

The purple electricity ebbs away to nothing -- and Mint shakes her head in disapproval. "But yeah, maybe you -should- take this in to the lab."

She wrenches the prosthetic free with her augmented left hand. Her left hand rotates a ring on the cuff of the prosthetic. And suddenly wings the plastic hand as far away from her as she can manage.

The light shines back onto Marz. "So hey, Lieutenant -- what was your first command? Where'd you get your promotion to LT?" Mint starts marching towards her, lowering her gauntlet to about waist-level. The better to balance without a gigantic weight on her right side. "'Cause... I'm thinkin' we should maybe get to know each other better...!"

The anxious, crazed look on her eyes suggests that -maybe- the Indian-American might not be entirely sincere.

It's hard enough for Mint to pay attention -- fatigued from the exertion, sweating heavily. Normally, Lt Fischer would be a source of calm and reassurance. But Minal is realizing too many inconsistencies. As stated -- she is not thinking straight.

"I was buried with them -- and I dug my way out. They're -down there-, Lieutenant, I can't just..."

Old habits die hard. Closing her eyes, she sucks in her breath, reminding herself -why- she is stuck at Corporal after a service record that's gone on much too long already.

And then she hears that name. And with her eyes closed, she remembers the last time she heard it.

/ / / 'There is no Lieutenant Colonel Cortez. Not in the Forces, not in Interpol. I am the head of this operation. If you take your orders from Shadaloo, then I have no choice but to place you under arrest for treason...' / / /

And her eyes open. Her gaze locks onto the Shadaloo Doll.

"Yeah, well -- Colonel Cortez ain't my boss right now. And Shadaloo ain't in my chain of command."

The light shifts abruptly, as Mint's left harm reaches over to her right elbow. A series of clicks, clanks, and whirrs, the deadened gauntlet falls to the floor with a heavy clamor, echoing loudly through the tunnel.

Her right hand crackles with faint, purple electricity. Mint raises her hand before her face, crossing eyes to stare at the phenomenon with raw alarm.

The purple electricity ebbs away to nothing -- and Mint shakes her head in disapproval. "But yeah, maybe you -should- take this in to the lab."

She wrenches the prosthetic free with her augmented left hand. Her left hand rotates a ring on the cuff of the prosthetic. And suddenly wings the plastic hand as far away from her as she can manage.

The light shines back onto Marz. "So hey, Lieutenant -- what was your first command? Where'd you get your promotion to LT?" Mint starts marching towards her, lowering her gauntlet to about waist-level. The better to balance without a gigantic weight on her right side. "'Cause... I'm thinkin' we should maybe get to know each other better...!"

The anxious, crazed look on her eyes suggests that -maybe- the Indian-American might not be entirely sincere.

COMBATSYS: Mint has started a fight here.

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Mint             0/-------/-------|

A heroic girl. Someone to stand up and fight, even if that means endangering her own allies. Marz looks and listens to Mint while tapping away at her laptop. She is only half paying attention to Mint when the soldier's words fade to silence.

Marz looks over her laptop to meet Mint's eyes. To see the loyal happy puppy grow up in front of her. And for the puppy to discard her leash.

Marz closes the laptop. She's faced down Special Forces in Mexico. She stood against a god. This is just another fight in the way of Shadaloo and Lord Vega. When it was over, perhaps what could be remade from a broken solider could be a better machine.

"Very well, but perhaps you should know yourself," Marz says, setting her laptop to hang at her hip while assuming a cat stance. "After all, Corporal, why is your squad buried under rubble right now, hmm?"

COMBATSYS: Marz has joined the fight here.

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Marz             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0             Mint

The EM signature from the Psycho Power control circuit embedded in Mint's prosthetic fades away to nothingness, its emergency battery depleted. What's more, as soon as Mint decoupled herself, it ceased allowing Shadaloo's foul influence to have an effect on her thought processes. Now, the hand is little more than a dead plastic shell.

Minal herself, though -- she hasn't felt this -alive- in a long time. Free of the controlling influence. Free of the -lies-. Her smile borders on insanity.

The Marine doesn't hesitate to answer -- good ol' quick-thinking North Jersey sass. "Because they were following -your orders!- You can't hold -me- to blame for that, Lieutenant!"

The illumination in the darkened tunnel grows, as orange flame begins to belch outward from her left gauntlet. "But hey. I've already been accused of treason once today. What've I got to lose?" Mint may be a bit off-balance, but it seems she's already learning how to compensate for that as she launches into a fully-committed lunging punch at Marz's sternum!

COMBATSYS: Marz blocks Mint's Dash Punch.

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Marz             0/-------/------=|-------\-------\0             Mint

One mind clear, but there is more than one victim of Shadaloo's mind control in this fight. Though that one is under a great deal more control. Marz doesn't smile so much as smirk with a cool-headed confidence that she has this situation under her thumb.

She holds up her laptop, the crack echoes in the quiet chambers. Splash of psycho energy dispersing the blow lights the room violet. "They will already accuse you of being with Shadaloo. Why will you not join Lord Vega's service. You've done so much already," she says, sliding back from the force of the blow.

"Perhaps you simply need your head cleared!" she shouts back, swinging her laptop for the fences, the blow coming with a burst of Psycho Power!

COMBATSYS: Marz successfully hits Mint with Command and Control EX.

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Marz             0/-------/-----==|====---\-------\0             Mint

As Mint's fist glances across the surface of the laptop, the Marine is already twisting away to get her momentum back under control. It's tougher, considering her lack of counterbalance, but she manages to throw her knee to one side to slow the rotation, dropping low to the ground as she completes the spin to face Marz again. And that's... when the laptop slams out. Mint moves the right stump of her arm to defend, with the left following a split-second later -- but she's too late to stop the heavy laptop from crashing into her arm. Psycho Power splashes outward, casting Mint into silhouette as it hurtles her back against the tunnel walls!

Panesh hits the wall hard with her right shoulder, crumpling as her back and head slam into the wall a split-second later. With a loud grunt, she falls back to the ground on shaky feet, hooking her left arm around to sling herself back to a proper fighting stance.

"My head's clearer than it's been in ages!" she insists. A trickle of blood begins tracing its way down her neck. She lunges with her left leg, then leaps into a long right stride. Easily closing the distance to the "Lieutenant," she pistons one, two, -three- punches into Marz in rapid succession. Brutal, unrelenting force is something the Marine is particularly good at doling out!

COMBATSYS: Marz dodges Mint's Knuckle Dragger.

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Marz             0/-------/-----==|====---\-------\0             Mint

Marz has a short laugh, adjusting her glasses by the temple. "Please, Marz will do just fine," she states. "We can drop the charade." But while Marz talks, she's looking into Mint's positions, reading them, learning them.

Step, side step, step. "Predictable," she chuffs, dancing around each staggering, pistoning, pounding blow that Mint rages down against her.

Marz is not a terrible fan of talking, she really isn't. She would much rather be putting this to text. But compared to Sergei and Kotal, this fight has a degree of humor bubbling in the Shadaloo Doll. She treats it more as a strategy game than a fight for the will of another woman.

"I still do like your puns. Can you be funny again?" she asks, genuine. And followed with a spinning, striking fist to Mint's temple. Marz isn't fighting to tempo. She isn't trained for breath and flow in combat. Her banter and strikes have less flow and more staccato offbeat crashing.

COMBATSYS: Mint fails to interrupt Axle Spin Knuckle from Marz with Attack of Opportunity.

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Marz             0/-------/----===|======-\-------\0             Mint

COMBATSYS: Mint blitzes into action and acts again!

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Marz             0/-------/----===|======-\-------\0             Mint

With only one actual arm, Mint is probably a lot easier to predict, it's true. But that doesn't mean that she's going to put any less heart into her attacks. She's fighting for her life, for her freedom -- and she isn't about to just roll over and let Marz induct her back into the waiting arms of Shadaloo!

"Ah, geez..."

While Marz may not be as adept at Psycho Power as Lord Vega, she has other ways of getting into Mint's head; particularly, complimenting her on her previous usage of puns. It's enough to draw a lopsided smile from the Marine as she wheels about to face her again. She ducks low, seeking to power through the attack with her arm -- but she's not quick enough, getting tagged in the head from the broadside of Marz's armored gauntlet with a crack. Protrustions from the Doll's gauntlets left dark marks in the Marine's skin, but she isn't about to let a few bruises slow her down -- she immediately follows up with a flurry of quick jabbing strikes into Marz's abdomen now that she's good and close.

"Marz, huh? Never really thought of you as a lil' red planet...!"

COMBATSYS: Marz parries Mint's Mix-Up Combo!!

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Marz             0/-------/--=====|=====--\-------\0             Mint

Moving, striking, Marz is confident in this fight. She's grown mentally as a combatant since the return of Lord Vega. And she has her Psycho Power to bring to bear in order to show it. Each strike, each bursting of violent energy pushes and propels Marz to another beneficial position.

Ah, the smile, Marz may not like speaking much to many, but she is not without personality. "No, no. Marz," she corrects. "Not the candy nor the planet!" she shakes her head and as those strikes come in, she steps back and away with each one. Her red gauntlets deflect and direct the blows away from her. Step, deflect, step. A dance of combat where Marz is leading, ending with her spinning away and around Mint's arm and raising a pair of fingers toward the side of Mint's face.

"Shadaloo would suit you," she says, "I could use a new sister." And with that, a font of psycho power explodes from Marz's fingertips.

COMBATSYS: Marz successfully hits Mint with Code Injection EX.
Glancing Blow

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

Minal Panesh may not be as confident as Marz -- but she is loathe to -reveal- any sort of lack of confidence. In a fight, she can never at any point be accused of giving less than her absolute all. Even when her strikes are swatted away with a dancer's grace, the Marine shows no signs of backing away from the fight.

Something had been taken from her. And she -demands- the chance to make her mark on the so-called Lieutenant.

"Well I'm working in the dark, Marzy-pan!" When it comes to puns, everyone's a critic. And Marz just happens to express her dissatisfaction with a blossom of purple Psycho Power -- a motion that Mint is able to swing away from, mostly. But she's not -totally- out of the blast range, as becomes obvious when her shoulder suddenly lurches backward from the backdraft.

She steadies herself by flinging her left arm out to the side, her boots squeaking against the hard-packed dirt and tunnel tile. "I mean, I got the urge to carve some canals across your face, does that count?" She shuttles back from one foot to the other, as blood continues to trickle down her neck. She... is going to need a -lot- of rest after this battle, but that's neither here nor there.

Amidst the rising volume of her gauntlet's turbines, Mint can nonetheless be heard shouting over the roar: "... Don't you already -have- plenty of sisters? Shadaloo's runnin' a damn harem enough as it is!"

And suddenly, Mint thunders forward with a high burst of blazing orange speed. There's fancy -- and then there's brutal, direct application of force. If her knuckles impact Marz, she will likely be carried backward for a few dozen feet. And there will likely be a -lot- of damage to the tunnel, as a direct result! "OOORAH!"

COMBATSYS: Mint successfully hits Marz with MOAB.

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

Minal Panesh demands a chance to make a mark, and she gets her moment after one more little pun.

"Do not call us that!" Marz snaps at Mint, eyes cold, hatred roiling up inside of Marz in ways she wasn't certain on. "We are not some harem. We are not things. We are soldiers of Lord Vega's will. Something you will learn cannot be ignored!"

It's a moment, but a moment is all that's needed to distract Marz and keep her from getting her guard up when Mint's mechanized mauling comes in for the kill.

A cacophonous crunch, tunnels and the laboratory itself shaking at the foundation. A smashing dash that scatters Marz, sends her hurtling through the air and crashing against a bank of servers. Lights wink out one by one by one as the air system shudders at the sudden bunker busting blow from Panesh.

And shaken, but still standing, Marz pushes herself up to her feet. She sags forward from the weight of the blow, but she stands. She adjusts her glasses, lips pulled thin and intense. "Then it is time to take you seriously, hundchen."

COMBATSYS: Marz calculates her next move.

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

After her singularly powerful impact, Mint takes a moment to recover, bobbing back and forth from one leg to the other. The disarmed boxer may have taken an almost uninterrupted series of hard hits, but she hasn't yet lost sight of the end of the tunnel.

"So what you're saying is, the name 'harem' =mars= your reputation?" There's no small amount of smirking from Mint, though of course the numerous injuries tell the truth that her bold facade might otherwise obscure.

She's not a great actress. But she does a decent show of looking offended at the idea that Marz -hadn't- been taking her seriously up until now. "Ugh! It wasn't time till -now?-" She recoils slightly, raising her right stump in front of her as she draws her left arm back. "Why, I oughta..."

It's unclear what she's about to say. Possibly due to the blood loss. And possibly because Mint's using a controlled burst of thrust from her turbines to launch her into the air. She sails in a high upward arc, seeking to greet Marz with a high overhead punch from her gauntlet, seeking to give her even more to take seriously! "OOORAH!"

COMBATSYS: Mint successfully hits Marz with BFH.

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

"Okay, that one is still wrong, but funny. It's Marz!"

Shouting, annoyed, angry, hurting. None of these things do the Shadaloo Doll any favors against the mad rage of the mini marine. She runs predictions, assumptions, designs in her head. Plans of attack, but while Mint is leaping, scraping the ceiling, it's a thing she just didn't quite expect happening.

Shout and smash send Marz packing. A calamitous crash that causes the Shadaloo Doll to soar backwards, carried by the wave of the explosion. Careening into the worktable, clattering over it, and silence reigns.

For a moment at least before the table groans and grinds, pushed out of the way by Marz. Hair a mess, glasses askew, she stands up slowly from her hands and knees. Once up, she fixes her glasses and fixes her stare onto mint.

She bursts forward, a quick motion and her laptop strap is in hand. Swinging like a flail, the psycho charged computer streaks like a comet over and over again at Mint's face. The twirling Marz ending her barrage by tightening the laptops spin until it's back in her hands. A sinfal, explosive blow aims square for Mint's breadbasket, hoping to put the marine down for a count.

COMBATSYS: Mint blocks Marz's Crash To Desktop.

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Marz             0/-------/-------|====---\-------\0             Mint

Mars, Marz, what's the difference? As much as Mint likes to make puns, it's difficult for names created in languages she's not familiar with. Still, it seems to be having -some- effect on the calculating Doll, so it's not entirely in vain.

Mint leaps away from Marz, raising her right stump forward, more out of practice than to provide any practical benefit to her. Her left fist balls up, the gauntlet dropped even to her waist as the turbine spins back to a reasonable and non-deafening level. "Can't rhyme much with that, sorry -- was a heck of a lot easier to bait the line when you were a Fischer, right?" Her mechanical digits twitch lightly as she sets them into position, offering a more confident smirk in reply to Marz fixing her glasses.

When the Shadaloo Doll thunders forward, Mint is ready for her. She swings her gauntlet up to defend her face, with the laptop sending off showers of sparks and leaving yet another dent upon the burnished armor.

Even while Mint is able to sustain a defense against the majority of those attacks, it becomes clear that it's putting a high degree of stress on her left arm. She breathes a sigh of relief as Marz draws the weaponized laptop away, left gauntlet sweeping sideways... But that's when Marz follows up her barrage! Mint's barely able to rotate her fist around in ways that -wouldn't- be possible for a human, allowing her to 'catch' the blast within a metal palm, redirecting the splash of the blast somewhere -other- than her breadbasket.

It's -still- powerful enough to send the tiny dynamo flying backward though! She's able to kick at the wall before the rest of her hits, which helps. And as she springs down, she gestures at the laptop with her gaze, rotating her arm about its shoulder socket. All that blocking had taken its toll! "Geez. Shadaloo must have an -insane- IT budget to afford -that- beast... Not like the breadcrumbs we Marines get stuck with!"

Springing forward, Mint starts off low -- but then she suddenly whips her KNUCKS gauntlet around in a wide arc, aiming to clock Marz right alongside the temple! "OOORAH!"

COMBATSYS: Mint successfully hits Marz with Hook Punch.

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Marz             0/-------/----===|=====--\-------\0             Mint

"You have not noticed the name was a pun? Fischer, Phishing?" Marz manages to continue to discuss the nature of puns with her opponent even while they beat the living hell out of each other. Sending Mint back, she smirks, spins out the laptop hanging from the end of its satchel, and settles it around her shoulder again.

She continues to try for confidence and poise, even against her better judgements. As she once more tries to duck and weave away from Mint's assault. And in turn, she pays the price.

A great, honking clonk echoes in the air when Marz is sent lurching to the side, glasses struggling desperately to hang onto Marz's ear. She skips, spins and rolls along the ground with a string of angry, gibbering and unintelligible curses.

With a cry of frustration at being clocked so hard, so frequently, Marz kicks up and charges Mint. With a sharp spring, she alights for Mint's head. Legs scissoring to try and crash Mint down with a swift and cracking takedown.

COMBATSYS: Marz successfully hits Mint with Delta Through EX.

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

As Mint lands her dazing blow, she stares at Marz with a half-smile and a renewed sense of respect. The thought that the name 'Fischer' could have been anything more than the woman's given name had honestly never even occurred to her. Especially since she hadn't realized it was an alias until a few minutes prior. "... Huh, I thought it was spelled with two s-es, like the fissure I was tryin' to put in that wall..."

There's a moment where she can appreciate the notion of skipping Marz across the ground, and the cursing that ensues. And Mint follows through with that, trotting dutifully along after her so as not to lose momentum. Her left gauntlet hangs low by her waist -- a position made necessary due to her imbalance and fatigue.

And that proves to be a shortcoming when Marz leaps for her head -- as she's not able to maneuver about to defend the attack. Realizing this, she tries to duck out of the way, but Marz manages to scissor her legs around her, and bring her into a rapid takedown, bouncing the weary Mint across the floor with a loud clank of metal! "Nnngh!"

It would seem, though, that Mint is just getting fired up. With only a fraction of a second to catch her bearings, Mint squeezes her fist shut, blasting herself into the air with a sudden boost of jet thrust. The motion spins her around to face Marz again -- and even with blood and concrete dust caked on her face, she can still manage a bright smile.

Marz may not have time to enjoy that though, because a split-second later, Mint's surging forward once again. She leads not with her left hand, but with her bionic left knee, aiming straight for Marz's waist. She'd aim to clamp that giant hand down onto her shoulder a moment afterwards -- using it only as a point from which she can hammer her knee forward for a series of blows. It might not seem -appropriate- for a boxer to launch into a series of knee strikes, let alone after a more-or-less friendly exchange -- but that's the kind of irrational thinking Mint seems to prefer. She'd seek to back Marz against the table first -- though there's no guarantee the table would be standing afterwards. "OOOORAH!"

COMBATSYS: Marz dodges Mint's SNAFU.

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

This was going to be a simple day. This was an easy assignment. This was just data collection. Turns out this job was none of those things. Instead of data, Marz finds herself trying to retrieve a lost and angry dog that was once an obedient little puppy. A puppy with a great deal of bite.

Marz is tired, battered, and looking to finish things as quickly as possible. To get the mechanical marine safely under the wing of Shadaloo and in service to Lord Vega once more. Perhaps this time it would be more prudent to not use her as a sleeper. But those decisions weren't hers to make. Marz just had to put the girl down and move on with it.

The leg-scissors were meant to finish it. And Marz doesn't have long to see a smile, while she herself is fixing her glasses and exhaling with the tired sag of a woman succeeding in a trying task. Only for a shout and a flying mechanical hand to interrupt her perceived victory.

Marz warbles in surprise, she tosses herself forward, toward Mint, rolling under her and sliding on her back. "Sheisse!" she shouts, twisting around while Mint's hand cracks the ground of the lab.

But the fight isn't out of Marz yet, she tucks her legs and kicks upward, propelled with a short oomph of psycho power. An upward corkscrewing drill kick to hopefully drive the small marine up and out of the realm of consciousness. Marz has work to do, damn it!

COMBATSYS: Marz successfully hits Mint with Cannon Spike EX.
- Power hit! -

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

It's true that Mint found solace in the doldrums of work -- necessary islands of tedium interspersed behind the rough-and-tumble cadence of work on the battlefields. But even in the relative safety of a garage, there was always the threat -- however diminished -- that peace would be shattered by the arrival of a well-placed mortar round or an improvised explosive.

Minal Panesh will never be comfortable -without- that sort of threat. She is a fighter, plain and simple. The runt of the litter has no choice but to go out fighting.

Without her right gauntlet to counterbalance, she's pretty much committed to every strike she makes, powerless to stop the sledgehammer fist in mid-swing. A heavy dent is left behind as she recoils away, her head twisting sideways to track hold of Marz's motion.

And it was that last-second twist that places Mint's chin right in the crosshairs of Marz's boot. Her head snaps back, the rest of her body trailing behind it in a graceful arc.

Though that arc is interrupted by Mint crumpling against the wall, sliding across it and tumbling back to the floor. She collapses into a small heap, gigantic gauntlet resting against the floor as she curls up around herself. Panting, with glazed-over eyes tearing up from the pain.

She shakes her head. And coughs out a laugh.

"So where's -your- chip, huh? Does it just like... get implanted in the back of your neck, so you don't scratch it?"

She grits her teeth. And she pounds her palm into the floor, shoving herself back to her feet roughly. Her fist hangs low, swinging back and forth as she takes slow strides towards Marz.

"'cause... Marz? You seem -way- too cool with the shady shit Shadaloo's been pullin'."

Suddenly, she thrusts forward in a last-ditch, all-or-nothing push. "OOOOOOOH..." Starting from a low angle, a powerful uppercut is driven straight for the sternum, intending to launch Marz into the air. "RRRRRAAAAAAAAAGH!" If it lands... she would pursue her quarry with a rocket-powered burst. And then, with Marz pinned against the wall or ceiling, she would hammer three powerful punches, before batting Marz back to the floor with the broadside of her gauntlet.

COMBATSYS: Mint has reached second wind!

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

COMBATSYS: Marz dodges Mint's Charlie Foxtrot.

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

Finally. Minal is down and Marz can go about her business with collection and set up for reprogramming. She fought well and could make for a good soldier in the service of Lord Vega. Perhaps not a Doll, but with her susceptibility toward mental control and her willingness to be augmented by mechanics, the sky was the limit. Marz smiled to herself, content with the fact that. . .

"You are laughing, why are you laughing?" Marz asks, pushing to her feet and rubbing the bridge of her nose. "This is beginning to get annoying. I just want to-"

Mint's words cut in a strange way. Marz stops talking. She looks toward Mint. It's subtle, but there is a hesitation. Marz is a smart woman, and while she is certain she isn't chipped or controlled in any way, she cannot discount possibility and possibility leads to considering methodology. But the moment is fleeting, discarded and focus goes back toward Mint for the second statement. That one is easier to handle. "Lord Vega's will is law. You will learn soon enough," she states, and scoffs, "As though your service is so pristine."

Another rocketing punch. But this time, open and clear. Marz leap-rolls aside of it, quickly puts herself to her feet. Watching Mint's heavyweight fist careen like a locomotive. She could have, would have been splattered with a pistoning drive like that. But Marz is an evasive one. With her moment to clear her head found, she smiles. "Checkmate."

She rushes forward, a quick low leap, a snapping knee toward Mint's spin. A driving shout of frustration and pride. One strike to end things. Again.

COMBATSYS: Mint dodges Marz's Knee Bullet.

[                      \\\\\\\\  < >  /////                         ]
Marz             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0             Mint

The hesitation was noted -- though of course, Mint has more pressing concerns, like the fact that she's running on vapors and could literally collapse at any moment here. Minal's never really been predisposed to psychological warfare, but here on the bleeding edge of consciousness, any potential advantage can help.

Even if it doesn't seem to help -enough- in this instance.

An open palm slams into the wall, deadening her forward momentum before she ends up injuring herself. "It was all based on your lies!" she fires back, bringing her boots up to the wall. The gauntlet can be a heavy burden, but her higher center of gravity helps in this instance... For when Marz hopes to hit her low, Mint's able to take the high road, vaulting neatly over top of the Shadaloo Doll.

Checkmate? That sounds like one of those chess terms... The Marine's voice can be heard overhead as she leaps to the other side of Marz. "Didja mean ta say 'check' there, Marz-ipan?"

And then boots will hit the ground, squeaking on the floor as she whirls about.

And then the back of Mint's gauntlet will come whipping around towards Marz in a lateral swing. An unstoppable force, aimed at sweeping the Doll right off her feet!

COMBATSYS: Mint successfully hits Marz with Medium Punch.

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

This was supposed to be an easy mission.

Clank. Marz clatters against the server back, sparks and flashes fly as she hits the ground. Glasses broken, scattered on the ground. She lay still. She has fought gods, she has fought deadly international agents. But it was this puppy that put a stop to her.

She opens her eyes, no, she's got one more desperate bid. One more shot before she gives out and gives up. She looks aside, her laptop is too far out of reach. She can't signal right now. She is, for a change, out of radio contact.

She just needs to get up and get out. And with a final lunge, she takes one heavy swing toward Mint. No leaping or weaving. Just punch for punch before she collapses to the floor in a heap.

COMBATSYS: Marz can no longer fight.

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

COMBATSYS: Marz successfully hits Mint with Calculated Strike EX.
- Power hit! -

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

Minal expected -lots- of things to go differently this week. She had a mission with clearly defined objectives that should have been perfectly attainable. And yet -- confronted with very simple statements, her entire understanding of the command structure was thrown into peril.

And now, here she stands, her knees about to buckle out from under her, as someone she'd known only as a cheerful low-level officer flies into a server rack. Her vision starts to go blurry -- a progression stopped only as she raises the metal gauntlet to her head, attenuated pressure from her finger joints brushing against her temple. A groan escapes her lips as she squints her eyes onto the fallen Marz, as she hears glasses tinkle to the floor. A black blur surges towards her; with a grimace, her gauntlet rises to deflect the mass.

Her reactions aren't what they ought to be. Marz's own weighted gauntlet clocks right into her chin, spinning her around and careening her against a wall. The exhaust of Mint's KNUCKS gauntlet slams into the wall afterwards, a hollow clanging resulting as it gains yet another dent in its side.

And Mint... drops to her knees, unable to stand -- panting heavily as she props herself up with her oversized hand.

COMBATSYS: Mint takes no action.

COMBATSYS: Mint can no longer fight.

"... You're... not taking me in..." mumbles Mint. Her eyelids screw shut from the pain. And then, after just a second or two, her head slumps down, as the Marine's energy reserves finally seep away. She sits there, not -out-, but unable to really muster the strength to move at the moment.

Marz doesn't say anything. She's cut off. Defeated underneath the city of Sunshine. Separate on what should've been something simple and quick. As she lay, groaning, awash in the pain that ebbs to nothingness along with her consciousness, she can only hope that it is a Shadaloo retrieval squad that comes before any other forces.

Nearby, Marz's laptop sits, still in impressive shape despite the beatings that its hardened case has taken. A small light blinking. It still runs, still communicates. An ever present tether to Shadaloo. Though out of Marz's hands, it may be a greater boon to any enemy of Lord Vega than capturing the Doll herself.

For a good long while, Mint doesn't say anything. It's hard to tell if she's asleep or not, really -- just slumped against the wall with her head hung low.

After a moment, though, the fingers twitch on her gauntlet. And she draws in her breath with a sudden start. Her head lifts up.

And she sees the laptop blinking away, just a stone's throw from the two battered women.

"... Nngh. Not going back." With a grunt, she pushes herself against the wall, sliding herself back to her feet. It's shaky, unsteady -- and untenable. But she insists on trying anyway.

She pops the release on her gauntlet. The shell peels apart like a banana, and the discarded weapon slams to the ground, revealing the normally-sized prosthetic hand inside. It, too, seems to have sustained damage from the collapsed ceiling, with burn marks visible around the access panels.

No longer encumbered by the weight of her gauntlet, she stands up a bit more readily.

If she notices the laptop, it's not obvious; from the way she wobbles, it's pretty obvious she's not all here anyway.

The plastic hand squeezes into a fist, as she lurches towards the exit. She calls over her shoulder.

"Goin' topside for help. Don't try an' stop me."

And then Mint shambles off down the corridor, leaving behind the damaged hardware she has no hope of carrying out.

Log created on 14:47:51 09/29/2018 by Marz, and last modified on 15:25:31 10/03/2018.