SNF 2018.11 - SNF: Black Christmas

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Description: Just in time for this holiday season! Erika has been tasked with playing Jackie Frost and turning Southtown Mall into a winter wonderland! What happens, however, when Erika's opponent doesn't make her match...and one of the Christmas toys on site turns out to be more of a Halloween leftover? More importantly, will people stop trying to start Christmas season before Halloween is over?!

Welcome to Southtown Mall!

A popular destination for shoppers of all sorts, the mall is big enough to support a large number of businesses catering to pretty much anyone you'd expect to set foot in a mall. With Christmas coming up, it's busier than usual, though given it's still a month and a half away, not *that* much busier than usual.

Southtown Mall is also partnered with SNF. There's been fights here before, there will be fights here again, and this time they have gotten a fighter to come along and do an actual paid job before the match. Said fighter's comment on the matter:

"This bites."

Erika Hill is bored out of her skull. She's a fighter, dammit, not some kind of special effects show, and she doesn't appreciate being sent here by the SNF organizers without being told who she is going to get to fight.

Her theoretical job is to put attractive glazes of ice on a central display. Well, she did that once, and then it melted when she walked away from it because delicate rime tends to melt as soon as it even thinks about getting above freezing, and she flat-out refused to keep doing it for several hours. Instead, she did something else.

That is why there is a throne made out of ice in the middle of the mall's central court, next to a display that will one day be Santa's but is currently more or less a shrine to capitalism and What You Can Buy In This Mall. Security has as of yet been unable to clear it out.

This is because Erika is sitting on it. She is wearing a long skirt, sort of; it's open on one side all the way to her hip, which is obvious because she's got that leg thrown over the arm of the chair and it's thus completely bare, leaving her in a thoroughly at-ease position. Her top is a belted cut-off, backless and held up by a choker around her neck. Despite the skin, she seems perfectly comfortable sitting on sparkling ice.

"It seriously really sucks," she says, buffing her nails on her skirt. "I hope whoever SNF actually sends is worth the time."

Christmas. Christmas in November. Christmas before Halloween is even over. Christmas in JULY. This is a travesty and it must be corrected. However, it seems that The Tick vs. Christmas has been cancelled this year, in favor of a different sort of battle. A young girl somewhere in the age range of 8 to 12 is gawking at all the displays, dressed in fall attire. A black hoodie with an orange dress underneath and leaf-pattern frilled skirt overtop of black leggings and some awesome sneakers that light up when she runs.

The clothing, the civilization, the colorful displays, and everything else are a bit of a change from Amira's life up until now. A Syrian refugee who happened to luck into the company of a very dangerous Secret Friend, she is safe now, even if she still worries about and misses her family. But it seems like wherever they go, some new trouble pops up. Bad people, monsters, or some other difficulty. But at least for a week or so now, things have been... Okay. She and her friend have been making their way in the world, pretending to be travelling with a mother that no one ever sees, but who makes phone calls and pays all bills promptly.

There is no mother. But there is a very protective doll who will obtain whatever Amira needs, one way or another. An opportunity for Amira to get to enjoy the Christmas displays, even if Cherri herself finds no appeal in them, somewhat offended by their existence in all honesty, was enough for the doll to once again sign herself up in the hope of winning a prize for her friend. Another chance to make Amira happy.

But that doesn't make Cherri hate humans any less. And it doesn't make her inclined to take it easy in this upcoming fight. All that's left is for the match to begin, and she'll make her move.

Erika continues to lounge for a few moments. She has no idea who her opponent is; they didn't tell her, perhaps because it works better if it's some sort of surprise. On one hand, sometimes that works out.

On the other hand, it also leaves her unable to find them if they don't just walk up to her. Like today.

After some more of this - time in which Amira can poke around and look, as Erika certainly isn't going to stop a kid from looking at toys and lights, she's not *that* sort of a jerk - Erika sits up straight, swinging her leg off the armrest, before eventually standing up.

"LISTEN UP," she says, raising her voice enough to carry without a microphone. "THere's going to be a SNF special event, right here, right now, courtesy of me, the frost nymph. So if my opponent could come out of hiding, that'd be fan-~tastic~." Since she doesn't know who she's looking for, she looks right past Amira (who she wouldn't fight) and the doll without recognizing either as a possibility.

So for the moment, she's just there, in front of the throne.

COMBATSYS: Cherri has started a fight here.

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

Amira turns away from whatever she's staring at when someone starts yelling, reflexively searching for danger. When she sees some sort of elf lady talking about how there's going to be a fight soon, she decides to make herself scarce and find a safe place to watch from. She has learned that staying too near when her secret friend fights can be bad for her health.

For her part, Erika's opponent responds to the challenge to make herself known. An unseasonably dour and creepy rag doll that would better have fit in with the discounted Halloween decorations (and may have been assumed to be such, merely misplaced), stands up from the pile of stuff next to Erika. Apparently, she has chosen to give up the element of surprise since she has an audience, instead of her typical methods of surprise kills and traps.

The doll hops down from atop a present box and walks up to Erika, less than a foot tall. She stops a few human-sized paces away, and looks up at the part-time holiday mascot, with no expression other than scowly one formed from black string eyebrows and downturned string-mouth.

COMBATSYS: Erika has joined the fight here.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Erika            0/-------/-------|======-\-------\0           Cherri

Erika ... probably isn't an elf. Sure, her ears are a little pointed (she doesn't know when that happened; probably the same time she turned blue and got stripes), but a full-on elf? Well...

Either way, she's definitely drawing a crowd now - Amira might not want to watch, but SNF matches always get their own fans. They're a good way to see new fighters and maybe get closer than you could in many major-league matches. Erika appreciates the crowd. She poses, lifting one leg to plant it on a block of ice so that she can lean forward with resting her arms on it to look at her opponent...

...a leftover doll? Which moves on its own?

"Oh, come on," Erika says. It's moving, but how? She doesn't see any strings. Erika vaults over her ice block and simply tries to kick the doll upward, her foot trailing a sparkle of diamond dust in the air behind it as she adds chi to her blow. But the only purpose of the kick is to lift Cherri up so that Erika can punch the doll away from her with a fist encrusted in a chunk of suddenly-appearing ice!

"Get me a real opponent!"

COMBATSYS: Erika successfully hits Cherri with Hailstone Hammer.

[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////////      ]
Erika            0/-------/------=|======-\-------\0           Cherri

The doll is kicked up into the air and then punched away with a powered-up fist. She goes sailing a fair distance due to her light weight, but it's more the Chi element that deals the most damage than the physical impact. Still, she climbs back to her feet, and in her grasp is a music box half the size of her body.

Cherri begins cranking the handle on the box, producing stilted, slow, out-of-tune dissonant music. When enough of the song plays, the box springs open and a huge arm made of wire, bent nails, and hinges that screech against their rust pops out and tries to seize Erika in its gruesome grasp, potentially piercing her, before hurling her across the battle site and over Cherri's head.

Succeed or fail, she is clearly more than just a doll.

COMBATSYS: Erika blocks Cherri's Music Box Of Horror.

[  \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////       ]
Erika            0/-------/-----==|=======\-------\1           Cherri

Definitely more than a regular doll. Regular dolls don't wield huge music boxes, even if at first Erika can't see what the point of it is. "Ugh, that thing is really awful," she says, advancing on Cherri again. The dissonance gives her a headache.

But what gives her more of an ache is the GIANT ARM that comes out of the box. It grabs Erika, though she manages to twist enough that it doesn't get a very good grip; she's picked up, but she slides out (helpfully made slippery by a coating of ice) and lands with a thunk on her knees.

"What the hell?" Erika rises, dusting off her knees - that stung even if it wasn't as bad as being flung wildly. "Are *you* the one who got sent by the SNF staff?" Erika approaches again, taking two fast steps before leaping into the air!

Erika closes the distance in an aerial assault, coming down with both feet in a stomping kick directly on Cherri - or that's the goal anyway. It's rare (unique, actually) that Erika is this much bigger than her opponent; she's going to take advantage of it if she can.

COMBATSYS: Erika successfully hits Cherri with Diving Kick.
- Power hit! -

[  \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////               ]
Erika            0/-------/----===|=======\-------\1           Cherri

The doll is squished under foot, her music box vanishing somewhere between when the arm slipped back into it and when Erika attacked. As before, being made primarily of cloth, the impact isn't what deals the damage. It's the energy accompanying it that makes seams pop and stuffing threaten to spill out. Struggling to free herself from Erika's big galumphing feet, Cherri pulls out a large knife (for a doll), as a string is pulled in her back and a recorded voice says in a childish sing-song, "Let's play!"

Then she slashes at her opponent's ankles, shins, and calves with vicious slices. There's some arteries in that area that are probably best not to get cut...

COMBATSYS: Erika dodges Cherri's Let's Play!.

[  \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////                ]
Erika            0/-------/----===|=======\=------\1           Cherri

Erika can't pin Cherri by standing on her indefinitely. Well, she might be able to if she really tried but it doesn't occur to her - she's never tried to trap someone with her feet, she doesn't really know how to do it - so Cherri can worm her way out after a few moments.

"Yeah, I'd rather play with someone my own size," is Erika's response. So what if it's a prerecorded message? She can keep up at least some banter all by herself. "And maybe without a knife!" she adds, seeing Cherri bring it out and menace her with it (or at least her ankles).

Erika jumps. This would not ordinarily keep her out of reach for long enough, except 1) Cherri is very short and 2) Erika creates ice as she goes up, so she ends up balancing on a three-foot pillar formed from her own energy and the air moisture. She perches in a crouch, her balance just barely good enough to stay up there.

And then she kicks off. She slides down the sloped side of her pillar (was it sloped before?), attempting to scoop up Cherri - and if she does, she gives her a great big hug. Which would be harmless, except for the fact that Erika appears to be about five degrees below freezing and she's surrounded by an even colder aura that sucks the energy out of things. The pin is harmless. The aura is decidedly not.

Also, if Cherri breathed, she might be having a suffocation risk on top of that, but given she's a doll that might not be an issue.

COMBATSYS: Cherri dodges Erika's Hoarfrost ES.

[   \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////                ]
Erika            0/-------/---====|=======\=------\1           Cherri

Scrambling out of the way, Cherri dives towards that pile of presents, evading the slippery sliding hug attack. Then, a hundred other dolls in a hundred different forms, outfits, types, and designs, fade into existence around Erika as the lights dim throughout the area. Then, they all giggle as they begin to rotate around Erika, speeding up and closing in until their bodies becomes a wall shrouded in glowing red energy, tightening and tightening...!

If Erika doesn't get out of the perimeter of the cylinder of dolls, then when they get close enough they barrage her simply by making contact over and over with the malicious energy that composes their bodies.

Either way, their giggles rise in pitch, volume, and become evil, maniacal laughter that echoes throughout the mall, before the cylinder flies upwards out of sight and the light level returns to normal.

COMBATSYS: Cherri successfully hits Erika with Red Collection Of A Hundred Souls.

[          \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////                 ]
Erika            1/-------/=======|==-----\-------\0           Cherri

Erika keeps sliding for another step's worth of distance or two before she runs out of momentum and comes to a stop.

Unfortunately for Erika, she does this in the middle of a swarm of dolls. "What the f - " That's all Erika gets out before they close in on her, striking with their bodies - they don't need to do anything else, the constant barrage of dolls slamming into her again and again and again with their malicious, violent energy.

Erika reels out of the dolls as they vanish, the light brightening. She hurts, now, when before she was so lightly touched she didn't have to take it seriously. "You want to play rough, huh?" she asks the doll, the chill around her beginning to intensify. "All right, we're going to play rough! I can't even have fun with you the way you are!"

Erika sweeps her hand forward, in an arc. Mist flows from her arm to puddle on the ground, forming a wave that travels along the ground - and in its wake, ice erupts from the ground, foot-high spikes exploding upward to strike and even launch Cherri away from her. "SEE HOW YOU LIKE IT!"

COMBATSYS: Cherri blocks Erika's Crystal Eruption ES.

[           \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////                    ]
Erika            0/-------/-------|==-----\-------\0           Cherri

Cherri emerges from the pile with a festively wrapped box bigger than she is, which she attempts to use to shield herself from the wave of ice coming her way. It is only partially effective, sparing her a worse level of damage but still hurling the strained doll away and out of her hiding spot.

It definitely appears the spooky toy is facing someone with a serious advantage over her, even if fighting targets many times her size is standard. It's probably why she focuses on ambushes and traps instead of direct confrontations. Apparently, before the fight even began, she acted according to that standard set of tactics, because while Cherri goes flying coated in frost, she cuts a cord of some kind. From up near the ceiling, something comes swinging down heavily. Some great mass that makes the air WHOOSH in its passing as it swings down at Erika from behind

It's... A giant pendulum with sharpened edges. How did she even get it up there and arrange all this!?

COMBATSYS: Erika dodges Cherri's Pendulum Guillotine.

[           \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////                     ]
Erika            0/-------/------=|======-\-------\0           Cherri

"Running away, huh? Well I'm not done winning yet!" Erika is kind of a jerk, especially when she thinks she has the upper hand; she's not exactly intact (the dolls made sure of that) but she thinks she can press through the pain. But then Cherri cuts a cord, and Erika's eyes are *just* sharp enough to notice it even if she isn't sure what the cord went to.

How *did* Cherri get the pendulum up there? That's something Future Erika has to worry about. Present Erika has to not get bisected by it.

And Erika's plan on that front is to throw herself to the ground. She skids as if - well, on ice - for several feet as the pendulum whistles overhead, close enough that she can feel the wind of its passage in her hair, and yet she doesn't rise immediately because she knows the important thing about pendulums: they come back.

The pendulum whistles over Erika with less vigour the second time, and *that's* when she gets up; scrambling up to a runner's start position before rushing forward in a half-crouch, planting one hand and pivoting in place to deliver a two-footed sweeping kick trailing little shards of ice.

COMBATSYS: Cherri dodges Erika's Medium Kick.

[           \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////                     ]
Erika            0/-------/------=|======-\-------\0           Cherri

The kick trailing ice sweeps towards Cherri, but she flops to the ground limply like the rag doll she appears to be, and the foot WHOOSHES right over her in much the same manner as the pendulum just missed Erika. Cherri then rolls over and scrambles away towards the scattered presents, the jointless cloth creature moving once again in a human manner. It just looks unnatural and very Uncanny Valley for something Not Quite Human to behave so close to the genuine article.

But creepiness isn't going to win a fight. Not against some as strong, fast, and tenacious as Erika. Especially not when Cherri is seemingly on the ropes. When she gets to the presents she begins grabbing and heaving them over her shoulder, seemingly not aiming at all. An act of desperation?

COMBATSYS: Cherri successfully hits Erika with Fast Throw.

[              \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////                     ]
Erika            0/-------/-----==|=======\-------\1           Cherri

Erika has made up her mind: she does not like the creepy doll. She thinks it's watching her.

Well, beyond the obvious part where it is watching her well enough to fight her.

Presents shower Erika, bonking against her as she tries to get closer to Cherri. The pendulum is no longer much of a threat (having lost much of its momentum, it's moving a lot more slowly) so it's only any other traps she might have around that Erika has to watch out for. And any direct attacks, like the presents.

"All right, doll," Erika says. "Time to take a nap." She lunges, an icicle starting to form over her fist - no, not an icicle, but rough jagged ice claws that she attempts to rip into Cherri with - a downward slash followed by an upward tear to send the doll flying wildly!

COMBATSYS: Erika successfully hits Cherri with Frost Shear ES.

[               \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /                             ]
Erika            0/-------/---====|=======\-------\1           Cherri

Cherri seems to sense the attack coming, but before she can run away, the doll is impaled with the icecicle. It doesn't take much. She probably won't die from this, being a doll, but who knows with this weird opponent. She goes limp again, and remains dangling on the frozen weapon for several seconds, providing the illusion of defeat. But then she pulls herself off the impliment, levitating in the air as she rotates around, and dives for Erika's throat, giving her far greater strength than her tiny size suggests.

That's probably how she got the pendulum up there.

Glass eyes oozing a black ichor, the black string of her mouth split into a gaping smile with more of that ebon fluid pouring forth like someone with grievous internal injuries, that precorded voice says, "Let's be friends forEVER!" Then she proceeds to cackle maniacally as she attempts to grab her opponent and spin her around with the psychic powers she wields, before hurtling her towards the heavily disrupted pile... And the bed of spikes that Cherri was working to uncover before she got ran through.

A last act of spite? Or is the doll honestly not quite down even after all of that?

COMBATSYS: Cherri has reached second wind!

[               \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /                             ]
Erika            0/-------/---====|-------\-------\0           Cherri

COMBATSYS: Erika blocks Cherri's Friends Forever.

[                \\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /                             ]
Erika            0/-------/---====|-------\-------\0           Cherri

Okay. Scratch that previous estimate: Erika now doesn't just like Cherri, she actively hates her.

Erika's ice claws remain formed even after Cherri pulls herself off them, giving Erika a surprisingly effective weapon; more control than a plain spike, longer than the weighted club that just crusting her fist with ice makes, it's about the best thing she can think of. She'll have to remember it...

...when she's not having a crazy doll trying to cut her throat or fling her around.

"You little piece of - " Cherri could never move Erika by arm strength alone. Dolls aren't noted for it. Telekinetic power, on the other hand... that works fine, and Erika only stops herself from flying into the spikes by literally freezing her own feet to the ground. This leaves her locked in place, unable to walk, but not unable to throw a blast of ice at Cherri: specifically, a sphere-like blast that grows ice in a wave behind it, like what she did before if less intense.

There's an awful lot of ice around the place now though. Hopefully the Mall is OK with it.

COMBATSYS: Cherri dodges Erika's Ice Wave.

[                 \\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /                             ]
Erika            0/-------/---====|-------\-------\0           Cherri

The claws (not just icicles, apparently, because reading is a thing), did plenty of damage, stuffing pouring out, mixed with more of that black ooze that practically vomits out in quantities far greater than a mere child's toy should be able to contain. But another ice sphere? In her current condition, she can't block it. The last one hit hard enough.

Supernatural doll or no, there are limits. She's going to need to be restuffed and stitched up by Amira again when this is all over anyway. So, out of pure hate and spite for humanity, that has driven her to come back from destruction over and over just for the opportunity to kill more humans, she decides to meet her fate not by trying to preserve herself, but by retaliating. There's only so far her current power can take her without the body count she'd normally have accumulated by now.

But retliation comes after. First... She hovers upwards, 'jumping' in mid air, without the actual physical movment of leaping. She'll come back down on the other side once the projectile has passed beneath her. It's levitation, not flight, after all.

Still floating in the air, engulfed in a red aura like a mass of blood-dipped needles constantly spiking in and out around her, she concentrates all that power, the last of it she has right now, and tries to fly at Erika and ram her back towards the spike bed with malice-driven psychic energy, despite the frozen foot-braces her target has formed to prevent it.

And maybe the mall won't have to worry about ice for long, because it turns out there's a second nasty surprise contained within that mattress of knives. Either way, whether it's Cherri and Erika landing on top of it, or just Cherri alone, something triggers on contact. There's a click, like a gas stove turning on.

And then there's an eruption of flames jetting upwards from some acetylene torches ganked from the mall's hardware department and rigged to shoot their flames much farther and hotter than is at all safe.

COMBATSYS: Cherri can no longer fight.

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

COMBATSYS: Erika dodges Cherri's Furnace Fun.

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

Sometimes spite pays off. Erika has been guilty about doing things out of sheer spite, too, even if she isn't quite as dedicated to it as Cherri is likely to be (what with not being a malice-powered creepy doll and all).

Which means that Erika recognizes the spite when it comes, and knows that she has to be on guard for *something*. She has no idea what it is, but Cherri's definitely got a plan up her miniscule sleeves. Erika watches Cherri leap backwards and then rocket forwards toward her.

Erika's response is to brace herself. Having her feet frozen to the floor is a pretty good defense against that - she thought, anyway, but the impact of Cherri against the shield of ice she formed on her arm pushes her back anyway, cracking the ice holding her feet to the ground.

As soon as she feels herself move, Erika kicks at an angle, sending herself skating across the flooring rather than pushed back toward the spikes. She doesn't hit the trap, and that's good, because when the flames come she can feel them even at this distance; she reflexively brings the shield up to protect her face, feeling the pressure of unavoidable *heat* against her body despite not actually being caught the flames. Her shield steams as she lowers it when the fire finally dies down, breathing heavily.

Well, if nothing else, they certainly made a mess of the central area of the mall.

Cherri lands among the blades and the flames jet out, immolating her. A girl in the audience screeches. Perhaps it might initially appear to be because she was startled by the flames, but as she comes running forward, trying to push her way through the crowd and closer to the torches despite attempts by some of the less startled adults to hold her back, it may be surmised that she is trying to save the doll.

Fortunately for Amira, a small fireball comes rolling out of the wave of flames, even as the torches themselves shut off. The burning doll stands up, and teeters forwards a few steps, as if in pursuit of Erika, and then falls back down. It's unclear why the girl is trying to rescue a murder doll, unless it belongs to her maybe, but if she gets too close she might wind up getting burned.

Erika might be able to do something about the flames. But is she inclined to? Isn't it better to let the awful monster burn to ash? That's up to her. One way or another, she has won this fight.

Erika does not like Cherri. At all. She'd be happier if she just burned up.

But Erika does like kids. She doesn't remember her childhood and it's a weakness of hers, if not a big one most of the time. Seeing Amira run in there... well, she does it without even thinking about it.

Erika shoots one last freezing wave - at the torches, clogging them, stopping the flame with steam and ice. She tells herself it's because she hates the heat (and she does) but she does do it right before Amira rushes in front of them, and once she's done it she drops to a crouch, catching her breath.

Looks like she might get away with the doll. This time.

COMBATSYS: Erika has ended the fight here.

Log created on 18:27:45 11/09/2018 by Erika, and last modified on 14:58:22 11/19/2018.