The Black Dragon - Black Dragon R1 - Running of the Bull

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Description: Once the initial alarm went up and the problem indentified, authorities set up cordons throughout the main sections of the city in an effort to keep the worst of the fighting from spilling over into the densely populated apartment buildings. For the most part, they were successful - until a ten-foot tall Greek legend came stomping out of the darkness and blew right past them. Instead of rampaging into the city center, however, the minotaur and a handful of lesser creatures made a bee-line for the business district and started tearing up property which, unknown to most, belongs to the Duke himself. Coincidence? Or the opening gambit to a very messy game of chess?

"Focus fire on the road! You on the left, watch those rooftops! Get those barricades in place before they gather up for another assault!"

Dozens of figures in uniform rush to comply with the barrage of barked orders, scurrying about like frenzied ants that have just had their nest kicked over by a careless step. A lone figure stands atop the roof a large armored van, microphone held to their mouth to ensure that the chain of command is able to be heard over the cacophony of battle. Stretched out to either side of the van, various smaller vehicles have been crammed together, both civilian and military alike, to create a makeshift barricade that stretches from one sidewalk to the other across the wide thoroughfare. Grim-faced men and women armed with firearms and swords hunker down behind the wall of metal, their weapons blazing with in a continous outpouring of firepower and magical energies.

On the other side of the defensive trench, countless monstrous creatures fill the street their animal-like faces twisted into expressions of blinding rage. Werewolves twice the size of a man hurl themselves forward in berskerer rushes at the gunline, their claws ripping and teeth tearing as they hit the defenders, seemingly immune to the bullets being poured into their bodies as they come despite the blood craters they tear into the mangy furred flesh. Behind them slithering shapes, half human and half snake, dart in and out of cover, sending blobs of searing acidic spit hurling over the barricade like mortar shells. On the roof tops above, mewling feline humanoids prowl through the shadows, emerging to toss chunks of concrete down at the soldiers when their attention is distracted only to vanish again before retalitory fire can be turned their way.

Though they currently holding their own, the battle is quickly taking its toll on the gathered warriors. Both local police forces and NOL uniforms alike are present among their number, the bright azure and dark navy blues interspersed with the occasional black of special forces. Nearly a third of their number have already fallen, those that could be retrieved lying stretched out on the road well out of reach of the barricade, those that couldn't still motionless in pools of their own blood on the cold concrete.

Behind the hastily assembled wall of cheap aluminum and factory steel, a large crane rumbles forward, its bright yellow claw clutching a large concrete divider. The defenders part to either side as it rushes up to the barrier, depositing its cargo onto the top of a pair of sedans with a loud crunch. Half a dozen workers wearing bright orange vests rush forward, settling the divider as flat as possible before mortaring it into place with buckets of hot tar. A dirty job but there isn't enough time for anything more sophisticated. Once they're reasonably certain that the large stone slab won't tip over and crush their own soldiers, the crane and the workers peel away, moving to fetch a fresh divider from the back of a large semi-trailer.

As if sensing that their job of breaking through this chokepoint will become all the more difficult should those walls be set into place, the dark stalkers suddenly redouble their efforts, hurling bodies, poison, and rocks at the defenders in an almost continuous curtain of fire. The fighting gets desperate for a minute or two, several werewolves breaching the short barricade with bounding leaps that carry them clear over the wall and into the fighters beyond, claws eviscerating anyone unfortunate enough to be in their way before being brought down by concentrated magical assaults. A dozen more officers fall to the ground under the withering hail of naga poison, clutching at their bodies as the corrosive poison burns away clothing and skin with equal ease, their simple uniforms lacking the protective enchantments that spare their NOL comrades from a similar fate. A pair of particularly sneaky catgirls even manage to slip past during the chaos, going unnoticed until the plaintive cries from behind reveal the vicious beasts dragging away several of the wounded into a dark alley, their eyes glittering with murderous intent.

Steadily, however, the defenders manage to regain control of the situation. The superior tactical training of the NOL soldiers allows them to bolster the flagging resolve of the police personnel, small groups of sword-wielding heroes rushing about to plug the gaps whenever they might appear. Sporadic bursts of supression fire drive the nagas into hiding behind overturned cars and into alleyways while also keeping any more of the feline infiltrators from making a break for it across the open gaps between building rooves. Even the seemingly suicidal werewolves begin to break off from their assault eventually, howling their fury as they too retreat into the protective shelter of the shadows.

"Hah! That's right, you furry bastards! Shows you what happens when you challenge the Libarary! Come back and you'll get more of the same!"

A ragged cheer goes up from the defenders echoing the sentiment of the man with the megaphone. For a couple of minutes the maelstrom of battle dies down into little more than the occasional chatter of a suppressive burst aimed at an overly bold dark stalker poking its nose out of hiding. The wounded are gathered up and carried off to the make-shift triage area, now sporting its own small contingent of guards to ensure no repeats of the previous incident occur. Briefly, it seems as if the worst of the fighting might actually be over and the defenders allow themselves to slump down in weariness, lowering their guards as they take stock of the damage.

No sooner than the soldiers have exhaled a collective sigh of relief, the ground begins to shake with a shuddering rumble. Men and women exchange panicked glances with each other, sucking in a sharp breath as silence reigns until a second even more powerful tremor rattles the windows of the nearby buildings. Scrambling to their feet, dozens of guns and magical grimoires are turned towards the street just as a demon out of Greek legend emerges around the corner of the street a block down the road.

Towering over ten feet tall, the minotaur narrows its large blood red eyes on the harried soldiers and the pitiful wall the cower behind. Hot mist erupts from its nostrils as it gives a contemptuous snort, its massive human-like hands tightening around the shaft of a wicked looking double-headed axe almost as large as itself with cracking sounds that drift all the way to the defenders ears. Lowering its bovine head, the monster stamps at the road, his hoof kicking chips of asphalt from the surface.

%"What the-?! Fire, fire! Everyone fi-!"

The frantic orders are drowned out by an head-splitting roar from the minotaur, it challenge bellowing out like a physical assault upon their ears. Lurching forward into sudden terrible motion, it quickly begins to gather speed, its sheer mass turning it into an unstoppable battering ram. Bullets rip through the air all around it, tiny lead bees slamming into its hardened pelt with much the same effect as if they had been actual insects. Bolts of fire and lightning crackle out to meet its ferocious charge, having a more noticible effect but rather than slowing the minotaur down they only seem to make it angry and it picks up yet more speed, the ground wobbling like the surface of a ship during a storm beneath its tremendous bulk.

The wall of cars and concrete offer about as much resistance to the beast as a stretched out layer of tissue paper. It tears through them without even slowing down, vehicles and soldiers flying in all directions as if they were little more than children's toys. Letting out a fresh bellow of defiance, the minotaur turns its aim towards the crane as it barrels down the street, toppling the massive machine over with a contemptuous shoulder-check in passing. The giant arm swings out wildly, its claw clutching a fresh concrete divider, smashing into a nearby building like a wrecking ball as it falls.

"Nice one, big guy!"

A sudden sense of weight ripples the muscles of one shoulder and the minotaur glances sideways into the familar face of a tiny catgirl perching on his arm. She flashes him a big grin which his large dopey bovine face attempts to mirror, revealing a massive set of blood-stained teeth beneath its droopy lips. The little creature pulls something from a pouch she wears wrapped around her waist, unfolding a wrinkled map of the city. She glances at it for a few moments, then eyes the next street sign they pass, comparing the name to her notes.

"Okay, let's take a left and the next street! The target should be over there!"

The minotaur offers a grunt of acknowledgement, slowing his break-neck pace down to a jog as they round the bend of the street in question. As expected, there are no signs of any humans nearby, all of the weak non-combatants having been evacuated to more defensible locations, just like the master said they would be. That leaves them completely unhindered to do their job.

The cat's slitted eyes scan the various buildings lining both sides of the street until she spies what she's looking for. Holding up the map, she flips it over and compares the logo hanging from a large jewelry store to the one drawn on the paper for reference. It's a perfect match.

"Found it!" She exclaims, reaching down to push her partner's snout towards the building in question. "That's the one. You know what to do!"

The minotaur's eyes narrow and he lets out another wet snort, his grin reappearing. He gives the little cat a moment to dismount, which she does with an agile bound that carries her to a nearby traffic light, then unleashes another window-rattling bellow and lowers his head, tearing down the street and into the front of the building which has roughly the same reaction as the wall of cars upon impact.

Jewelry store was underselling it a bit.

Certainly, there were jewelry there. But Duke's day job was an art collector. He did not merely have jewelry. He had pieces of art from across the world. Each piece designed by a craftsmen; not some mere wedding ring from some salaryman. As the wall comes crashing down, one might be excused to think the place was closed up. None of the displays had anything present, which would be expected. No employees home, short of the owner himself. All the good stuff was in the back; past the locked doorway behind the counter.

Duke, for his purposes, did not think he had anything to fear.

He was in the back room, outside the vault. The dark-skinned crime boss was looking through a set of appraisal glasses at a small, comma-shaped jade stone. It was on a weathered amulet; it was an acquisition from a local businessman, seeking to secure his position within the Syndicate for security. Naturally, gifts like this could not be refused. The crime boss was expecting a relaxing evening as the rest of the city fell apart; His Syndicate had stay away orders. He had plans for this, as arranged with Lord Dohma. Dressed in his red and black suit, the sound of the wall caving in with the bellow of bulls very neatly reaches his bones.

Duke puts down his appraisal glasses.

Putting the amulet back into the box, the crime boss slowly pushing back his chair from the desk. The crime boss gives a grave rumble, casting his eyes to the vault. A vault that was open; after all, who would disturb him? There a tremble on his skin, as a burst of chi explodes from his neck. His brow knitted into a scowl. It seemed that the balance of order in Southtown was an incorrect assumption to make. He rises to a stand.

And swiftly, he stomps towards the vault door, attempting to close it in time.

The irritated crime boss makes it no more than a handful of steps towards the vault before the wall of his office simply explodes inwards. Chunks of drywall and masonry shotgun into the enclosed space, smashing into the elaborate furniture and fancy decor that filled the room like shrapnel from a claymore mine the size of a small truck. The towering bulk of the minotaur plows onwards through the barrier as if it were made of cardboard, his thundering hoof-stomps and braying bellow shattering what little survives the initial blast as he bores through the center of the room like a bovine pile bunker. That Duke happens to be in his way is a matter of little consequence.

Behind the fuzzy ICBM, the small catgirl swings down from her perch and scampers over to slip into the freshly renovated jewelry store. Her bright yellow eyes glitter faintly in the dim light as she darts back and forth, investigating the various displays that survived being trampled flat only to discover them all to be completely devoid of the shiny trinkets that she has been sent to collect.

"Hey, what gives? Where's the loot?"

Frowning, the feline slinks further into the facility, following the trail of destruction through the front room and into the hidden office, carefully stepping over shards of broken glass and twisted metal as she goes, movements wary and watchful for hidden danger.

COMBATSYS: Minotaur has started a fight here.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Minotaur         0/-------/-------|

COMBATSYS: Catgirl has joined the fight here.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Minotaur         0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0          Catgirl

COMBATSYS: Duke has joined the fight here.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Duke             0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0         Minotaur
[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Catgirl          0/-------/-------|

COMBATSYS: Duke has joined the fight here on the top side.

                 [ ||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Duke             0|-------|-------
[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Minotaur         0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0          Catgirl

Not enough time.

Duke can't even touch the reinforced steel door when the minotaur explodes in as a monsterous wrecking ball. Splinters flying all around, Duke abandons his rush. Turning into the exterior of the door, it swings a bit; naturally, it wouldn't automatically lock as it bounces shut, slowly reopening itself on the rebound. The crime boss lands low, rising up as he stares into the beast that was stampeding in his office. A Darkstalker. This had to be a mistake, Duke thought, as he narrowed his yellow eyes at the foul monster.

"A big mistake." Duke states out loud, as he glances at remains of his desk is sent into shambles.

There would be no hidden dangers for the feline assistant. The catgirl would enter into the room with a great rumble of impact running deep into the foundations of the buildings. Exploding with violet-red energy, Duke was unleashing the opening stomp, seeking to catch the bull's attention with a stunning shockwave. Which then right after, the crime boss would surge at the Minotaur with an explosive slam if his right arm straight into the neck of the intruding cowman.

With an unfortunate side effect of popping the vault door open wide again, as if to answer the catgirl's concerns.

COMBATSYS: Duke successfully hits Minotaur with Crushing Lariat ES.

                 [ |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Duke             0|-------|=======
[       \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Minotaur         0/-------/----===|-------\-------\0          Catgirl

The sudden surge of energy causes the minotaur's nostrils to flare, its bulging red eyes narrowing on the human-shaped speed bump foolish enough to stand in its path. It lets out a contemptuous snort and lowers its head, planning to bowl right over Duke and tear the vault door right off its hinges, if not simply tackle the entire damn thing through the wall behind it.

Instead, the unexpected ripple of power slams into its knees, staggering the lumbering beast sideways as it scrambles to avoid tripping over its own hooves in sudden surprise. The follow up blow sends the extented forearm crashing into its neck, unable to mount any sort of defense in such an awkward moment. The creature lets out a garbled 'mmmlargh', its thick black tongue jutting out of its open mouth in reaction to having its throat crushed. Its forward momentum becomes a tumbling roll and it smashes into the far wall with an exaggerated boom that brings more debris raining down.

A few seconds later, a feline face peers around the opening left by the massive monster's initial entrance into the room, eye wide and searching. She glances around quickly, noting first the vault, hanging ajar on its heavy hinges, then Duke, and finally the stunned minotaur. She blinks at that then looks back at Duke, eyes going even wider.

No one said anything about people who could punch out the big guy being here! Scrambling to think of a way to distract the human, the kitten grits her teeth and hops out into the open, crouching on all fours. She gives him her best snarl, flashing her fangs and whipping her tail back and forth in the air menacingly as she squares off with him.

"Hey! Over here, grandpa! Nnnnnyaaargh!"

Inhaling sharply, the little catgirl lets out a sound that can only generously be described as a screech. An ear-splitting wail that makes nails on a chalkboard seem like relaxing zen music explodes out of her mouth, directed in a focused blast directly at the crime lord's chest. From a little thing such as herself it might not do much but she can at least buy some time for the real muscle to get himself back together!

The muscle-head in question slowly rises as this goes on, shaking his head from side to side with a disoriented grunt. He blinks a few times then narrows his eyes, vision going red as he realizes what happened. Rolling back to his feet, the minotaur lurches forward, swinging a fist the size of a trash can down at Duke, braying another bellow of challenge that rivals the tiny cat's mewling in head-ache inducing volume.

COMBATSYS: Duke dodges Catgirl's Caterwaul.

                 [ |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Duke             0|-------|=======
[        \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////////// ]
Minotaur         0/-------/-----==|-------\-------\0          Catgirl

COMBATSYS: Duke interrupts Pound from Minotaur with Swivel Gun EX.

                 [ |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Duke             1|-------|=======
[                \\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////////// ]
Minotaur         0/-------/=======|-------\-------\0          Catgirl


Duke slams hard, the momentum building with the furious don. Able to punch out a bull was a feat shared by a rare few. But the enraged Duke's assault takes pause, as he is called a grandpa. Turning his gaze, he is met with a high-pitched scream. The shriek comes, and Duke groans in pain, the sound cutting to his ears. Rather than stunning him, it only fuels the crime boss's anger. Building into a fountain of pure fury, Duke matches his movements with the minotaur; weaving to use the big creature's form to try and cover the sound. It only serves to evade the actual blast, the sound still piercing his eardrums. His flesh trembles, as the great bull thunders forward to unleash a massive fist down into Duke as he shifts for the cover. The large clumsy creature manages to connect with the shoulder of the crime boss.

And is promptly greeted by a rising slice of his leg.

Crimson energy provides the edge as Duke rises up, slicing his leg- slicing- with a full rising roundhouse. The impact would be enough to him; the power would be enough to eviserate him. He doesn't knock the Minotaur into the air; he doesn't need too, as he brings his other leg across, bringing a second slice hard across the bovine's chest with raw, rending power. Landing back on his feet, the crime boss, is off-balanced, exposed. Steadying out, he snarls, brushing off his shoulder. "You've made a very bad mistake, young lady." Duke rumbles, as he lands, his yellow eyes transfixed on the single catgirl.

"Do you have anything to say, before it's too late?"

The minotaur's bellow becomes one of pain as the kick lashes out, striking it in the chest with unimaginable strength; enough to knock it backwards several steps, leaving it open for the second brutal kick. Dark blood sprays from a large gash, the crimson energy parting the same skin that had bounced bullets with casual ease. The monster staggers backwards, eyes wide and hateful, yet wary now that he's been stung twice. While not particularly bright, even a dumb animal learns not to brush up against an electric fence.

The catgirl likewise seems dumbfounded by the absurd ease with which this simple human seems to be fending off her massive companion. When the master had granted her command of this mission and given her such an impressive body guard, she had figured it would be a walk in the park. He had scattered those human soldiers like they were little pieces of origami. So what the heck is going on?!

Scooting backwards several feet, the kitten looks left and right, trying to think of something to do that might get her out of this situation. Maybe she can distract the man with talk, say something to give her time to think.

"Uh, well... about that, I..."

Behind Duke, the minotaur's eyes narrow, scrunched up in thought. Getting close to the crime boss has proven painful and problematic thus far. Having apparently discerned a way to deal with this problem, he suddenly snorts, lifting his massive axe back like a baseball player preparing to swing. But instead of leaning forward to strike, the creature hurls the huge weapon like a frizbee, sending it buzzsawing towards Duke from behind.

Finding herself in the unfortunate position of being lined up with that very deadly projectile's current trajectory, the catgirl's eyes go wide as dinner plates. "Yeah," she squeaks, "DUCK!" Following her own advice, she hurls herself flat against the floor, using her claws to skitter forwards as quickly as possible. This might be her chance! Darting back and forth wildly, the dark stalker bares her fangs in a tiny snarl, and hurls herself at Duke's legs while he's hopefully distracted. She takes a few quick gnawing chomps at his calves and then scrambles away, making a break for the open vault door.

COMBATSYS: Duke blocks Minotaur's Hurl Weapon.

                 [  |||||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Duke             1|------=|=======
[                 \\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////////////  ]
Minotaur         0/-------/=======|-------\-------\0          Catgirl

COMBATSYS: Duke endures Catgirl's Nom Nom.

                 [     ||||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Duke             1|----===|=======
[                 \\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////////////  ]
Minotaur         0/-------/=======|=------\-------\0          Catgirl

Duke's presence boils out, as the catgirl hesitates.

The crime boss was building up a mantle of burning violet energy now on him, his skin shifting and rending with the energy now tear through his own skin. He was distracted by the talk, rather, the lack thereof. Duke's heavy steps come, with deep tremors through the building. His yellow eyes almost boiling in their sockets. And yet, his look was unamused. He begins to reach out towards the catgirl, a hand aiming at her throat-

Fortunately, the Minotaur comes just in time.

The snort is the only warning. Duke turns, and is met with the massive two-handed axe hurtling his way. Snarling, he hurls an arm up. It blocks the axe, which is a generous statement. Bone and flesh is ripped free, as the crime boss howls in pain. Ripping the axe free with his good arm, the other one looks mangled beyond use; the upper part of the forearm dangling on a neatly severed portion. That opening appears, as the cat goes to the man's legs. Dropping the axe, he shakes his head as the cat tears into the flesh; as the fangs dig in deep, he hisses in pain. He could hit hard, but the raw flesh was clear in how this man was being shredded into hamburger. He clenches his hand into a fist, blood boiling from the heart of it as he squeezes hard. "No." Was all he says. Duke extends his good arm, as the cat scrambles away.

And he opens his palm.

A small, dense orb of violet-red energy manifests, before expanding. And there, the cat would feel the push, that inevitable push as gravity pushes her along. It might be all according to plan, to push her to the vault... is she can get away from the -downward- push, the incredible pressure aiming to crush her into the ground. The door even begins to push shut; again, without the turning of the wheel to seal it, it was only temporary. Even the Minotaur would find it difficult to push in, though he hardly was in danger. No, only when the crime boss clenches his hand in pain again, does the pressure ceases.

As his other arm begins to knit itself back together again.

COMBATSYS: Duke knocks away Catgirl with Gravitational Wave.

                 [      |||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Duke             0|-------|<<<<<<<
[                 \\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////           ]
Minotaur         0/-------/=======|=======\-------\0          Catgirl

The little cat feels a quick thrill as her fangs sink into unprotected flesh, her clearly vicous attack draw cries of pain from the dangerous man. Hah, score one for feline kind! She doesn't spend too much time reveling in her brief victory, however, fully aware that anyone capable of knocking a minotaur on its ass could stomp her flat if given half a chance. She darts at the vault with all the speed she can muster, bits of fur flying from her raised hackles.

Her bovine partner lets out a triumphant bellow as the axe buries itself deep into the target, nearly severing the beligerant man's arm as he attempts to defend himself. It's damn impressive that the massive slab of sharpened iron didn't go right through him but considering that it's the first real bit of damage that's been inflicted on their foe thus far, it's a satisfying start.

That is, until the the mangled arm starts to put itself back together again. Sneaking a glance over her shoulder, the catgirl's eyes go wide again as she notices the impossible regeneration on display and then wider still when she realizes that Duke's attention is focused on her. The outstretched arm is regarded with the same amount of fear as a bazooka pointed in her direction and the little minx starts to weave wildly, zig-zagging for all she's worth as she tears towards the vault.

Unfortunately, no amount of evasive manuevers are going to be enough to get her out of the way of gravity itself. The shimmering orb of raw force overtakes her in mere moments, sweeping the tiny creature up like a bug in a dustpan, sending her tumbling tail over teakettle until the downwards crush flattens her against the floor with an almost bone crushing force.

A pitiful squeak escapes the kitten as she's smooshed into a catskin rug and this seems to drive the minotaur into a rage, his nostrils flaring and eyes going wide, as if her plaintiff whine had come from one of its own young. Rattling the walls with another furious bray, it attempts to take a step towards Duke, only to find itself forced backwards by the pulsating orb of gravitic energy. Snarling angrily, it leans forward, forcing its way through the space as if wading through tar. Slowly it begins to pick up speed, thick knots of muscle straining against the cosmic energies.When the pressure finally vanishes, the beast explodes forward like a coiled spring, its weight and momentum finally freed. It crashes towards the criminal like a ton of bricks with horns, lowering its head to use said horns as a spear upon which to impale the unnaturally sturdy man.

Meanwhile, the tiny catgirl, feeling thoroughly flattened and out of breath attempts to collect herself. She crawls slowly towards the vault, sucking in deep breaths, as if touching the heavy door will somehow render her safe from retribution. Barring some miracle, it seems unlikely that the two of them are going to be able to put the unexpected guardian down, but she still might be able to pilfer an item or two to take back to the master as proof that they at least tried.

COMBATSYS: Catgirl gains composure.

                 [      |||||||||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Duke             0|-------|<<<<<<<
[                \\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////        ]
Minotaur         0/-------/=======|======-\-------\0          Catgirl

COMBATSYS: Minotaur knocks away Duke with Gore.

                 [             ||||||||||||||||| ]
                 Duke             1|----<<<|<<<<<<<
[                \\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////        ]
Minotaur         1/------=/=======|======-\-------\0          Catgirl

Yuri says, "Pardon me"

Duke was not intending to let the catgirl leave with her life, to say the least any of his trinkets. Heavy footsteps come, as he wrenches his arm in. He shakes his head, ready to eliminate the catgirl once and for all. But the great moo of the Minotaur comes, and he turns just in time to see the rampaging beast. He turns to move away, but it's not possible this time.

And the bull gores him

A thick horn runs right through his chest, puncturing through a lung cleanly. Blood rushes to his mouth. He couldn't breath. Red begins to ooze and gush from his chest, as he struggles feebly. And there, he is hurled, slamming a crater into the vault door, falling into a broken, bloodied heap at the base. The catgirl had her opening. Now, she could slip into the vault. Within are boxes and crates, neatly organized and labels. If she is drawn to the shinies, the only shiny was a single golden necklace with a sliver of some strange steel on it, that seemed to glow. As for Duke? Eventually, he proves he isn't dead when he jerks around. As he staggers up in the ground, body bloodied and splintered he begins to accelerate. Sickening cracks come as he pounds his feet. The ooze from his chest was slowing down, as his legs were running faster and faster. He was charging breathlessly, lips turning purple. What does he do?

He would punch.

A single punch, to knock the bull staggering once more. Once he got that space he would try and grab the bull, and swing him around once. Twice. Three times, before tossing him into the air. It wouldn't be very high. It didn't need to be: if he got the bull that far, he would leap up, catch him, and bring him down head first into a staggering power bomb.

Complete with a chisplosion on impact.

COMBATSYS: Minotaur interrupts Volcanic Bomb ES from Duke with Bone Crusher.
- Power hit! -

                 [                  |||||||||||| ]
                 Duke             0|-------|=======
[                     \\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////        ]
Minotaur         0/-------/----===|======-\-------\0          Catgirl

Minotaur falls asleep.

Catgirl falls asleep.

Minotaur wakes up.

Catgirl wakes up.

The minotaur lets out another rumbling bray of challenge as it hurls the man aside, powerful arms flexing as it clenches its fists in a display of raw brutal power. Were this any normal human such a devastating strike would have rendered him into a shattered bag of broken bones and bleeding flesh. Unfortunately, this is Duke.

The towering Greek myth grinds his teeth in frustration as the crime boss rises once more to his feet, stamping irritably at the ground. Just what does it take to put this damned human down for good? If he even is a human. None of the manlings that either he or the catgirl have encountered possess the power to regrow severed limbs and shake off having a lung ventilated.

No time to worry about it now. As Duke rises to his feet, broken and bloody, he throws himself into a wild charge. The minotaur's nostrils flare and it spreads its legs, taking a wide bracing stance. It knows it isn't fast enough to avoid the strike. Prior experience likewise says that simply attempting to absorb the impact with its thick hide would prove disastrous. That leaves but one alternative.

As Duke lunges forward, his energy-clad fist swinging outwards the minotaur ducks low, bringing his impossibly thick skull down to take to the punch. The impact slams hard against its sloped forehead, rattling what little brains the creature has around in its head with an almost audible clatter, but the crazy gambit pays off as the unexpected shift causes the crime lord's fierce blow to slide upwards leaving him open for a brief but critical moment.

Bellowing a roar of pain and fury, the bull encircles his tree-trunk sized arms around Duke and scoops him up, crushing the man to his furry chest. The creature's Herculean muscles constrict as it hugs him with all of its might and moments later the small office is filled with the sound of cracking bones.

"Go," it rumbles through gritted teeth, turning its head far enough to eye the small catgirl. "Return... to... the master!"

Rising to her feet, the kitten freezes at the horrendous sounds coming from the space behind her, afraid that the bones being shattered might belong to her massive companion. But when his gravely voice speaks, she whirls around, eyes wide in fear and wonder at the sight of the titan grappling with the demon pretending to be a man. She hesistates for a long moment, finding the idea of leaving her buddy behind distasteful, but the prospect of being caught by the human is even less appealing. She nods quickly and darts into the vault, head jerking back and forth as she looks for something small and easy to nab. The glittering necklace is the obvious choice and she wastes no time in snatching it up, tucking the piece of strange jewelry into her little hip pouch.

And, with her mission now nominally accomplished, the tiny cat makes like a tree and gets the hell outta there. Scampering back out into the office, she prepares to simply make a bolt for it but again the idea of leaving her ally behind to fend for himself makes her flinch. She skids to a halt about halfway across the room, dancing nervously back and forth on her paws, then comes to a decision and whirls around to dash back at the struggling duo. Her tiny claws extend as she curves her dash past Duke, slashing at his hamstrings in a terrified drive-by mauling. Maybe if she can take out his ability to walk for a minute or two then the big guy will be able to make a run for it. She doesn't plan on sticking around to find out, though, and continues her dash right on past the crime lord and towards the nearest hole in the wall that leads outside.

COMBATSYS: Duke barely endures Catgirl's Cat-scratch.

                 [                    |||||||||| ]
                 Duke             1|-------|=======
[                     \\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////////         ]
Minotaur         0/-------/----===|======-\-------\0          Catgirl

The bull was not having any of that.

While the opening punch connects, the blow shatters the bones in Duke's fist. That gives enough of a slow down, for the massive creature to counter-attack. The follow through is met by the massive, tree-trunk limbs of the beast seizing him. Snarling in pain, he is seized as the catgirl slips out of the vault. Duke's bulging, bloodied yellow eyes lock on her, and the trinket that she held in her hand. And then, the girl says her words.

The master.

That's all Duke needed to hear, as much as he could hear through the rushing sound from his ears. His body was being crushed, bones snapping, femurs splintering. Every fracture was echoing inside him. His hamstrings are torn into ribbons; the man really was more hamburger than anything else now. Flesh and bone mingled in a horrific crushed form. No position to kick, his internal organs and lungs smooshed, his body was beginning to lose vital oxygen. Another round of sickening cracks his heard, as he jerks his arms back.

And the minotaur could feel the fires build.

Surging through the crime boss's body, the rage would boil up like a volcano. Those yellow eyes were now on the bull. Body shaking, more bones crack as the surge of energy rips through him. His body couldn't handle the power. It didn't matter. The only thing that mattered was this cow was going to release him. And with a great clap, Duke slams both of his hands together at the bull's head. The flesh of his arms rupture outside the veins, as a tsunami of fire is unleashed.

Point blank, at the minotaur's head.

COMBATSYS: Duke successfully hits Minotaur with Sledgehammer.

                 [                   ||||||||||| ]
                 Duke             0|-------|--=====
[                            \\  < >  /////////////////////         ]
Minotaur         0/-------/-======|======-\-------\0          Catgirl

Even as he crushes the life out of the man, the minotaur can tell it isn't going to be enough. Bones shatter, flesh pops, blood spurts, and yet he still refuses to die. The dark stalker locks eyes with Duke, his solid red orbs reflecting the flickering power that rises up around the man, and snorts hotly into his face. His grip grows tighter, basketball-sized biceps flexing until it looks like they might explode like over-ripe melons. The little cat would escape. He would hold onto this monster, this human, even if it cost him his life so that she might escape and return to their lord. It was all he could offer her in exchange for the companionship she had given him the past few months.

As Duke lifts his hands, his own body seeming to come apart at the seems from the power contained within them, the bull lets out one final defiant bray. He shifts his posture, leaning forward as if planning to ram his dense forehead into the man's skull and smash it flat. It never gets there. The crime lord's palm slam together around the bovine temples and unleash power directly into the beast's eyes. The creature's entire head erupts in a geyser of scarlet energy. The rugged brown fur burns away revealing taut muscles and tenders and moments later they too blackened and flake apart, leaving patches of raw bone underneath.

As it falls, however, the beast's body lurches forward, tumbling to the ground with the momentum of its final act. It tumbles like a felled tree, arms remaining tightly clenched even in death, with Duke underneath its massive bulk. Even if the man's supernatural power allows him to mend his ruined body and knit his severed tendons back together, he won't be going anywhere soon.

The kitten tosses one final glance over her shoulder, eyes wide with fear. She watches as the towering minotaur dies in agony, sacrificing himself to allow her to escape from a foe far beyond anything they had expected to meet. Anguish twists her stomach into a knot but there is nothing more she can do. Nothing but run - and run she does.

Out through the ruined wall of the store, out into the empty streets, she runs. The ruined remains of the former human barricade come into view after only a minute or two as she retraces her path back towards the safety of the sewers. The ruined remains of the former human barricade offer her no resistance, its previous defenders slaughtered or scattered in the wake of the minotaur's brutish charge. She scampers over dozens of bodies, both human and dark stalker, jaws clenched in an attempt not to throw up at the sheer scale of the carnage. Soon enough the familiar protection of the dark alleys come into view and the little cat slips into the shadows and makes for the underground entrance that will take her back to safety, back to the master, running as if the devil himself were right behind her.

COMBATSYS: Minotaur can no longer fight.

                 [                   ||||||||||| ]
                 Duke             0|-------|--=====
[         \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Catgirl          0/-------/-======|

COMBATSYS: Duke blocks Minotaur's Trample.

                 [                    |||||||||| ]
                 Duke             0|-------|-======
[         \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Catgirl          0/-------/-======|

It was always borrowed time for the minotaur.

Time, time bought. Every time Duke looked towards the cat, was one life taken away from her. Duke would not be sastified until he had his pound of flesh. When he pours the full fury of his hellfire straight into the Minotaur, he ceases only when he feels the beast move. The strength wasn't leaving quite yet; he was still trapped. Grabbing the titan by the shoulders, he is just able to bring his knees up. The beast come tumbling down, and Duke shoves his weakened legs up. He is pinned by the arm, not the chest. And for a moment, he is able to catch his breath. Bones knit. Flesh heals. And finally, he gets the air his body so desparetly craves. The cat. He needed to chase the cat. She had to have stolen something. She had answer on the Master.

But the bloodlust was not satiated.

Duke shoves the remains of the bull aside. Rising up, he places a foot hard on the back of the downed Minotaur. Teeth gritted, body burning with fire, he lurches down, hands out to seize the bull by the horns. And then, with a snarl, he twists and pulls. PULLS. -=PULLS=-. No, the devil would not be on her trail. When Duke finally emerges from the battered storefront, covered in blood, he would be clutching the decapitated, roasted head of the minotaur in one hand. Raising it up as he stand amongst the corpses. Roaring in defiant victory, to echo through those hallways. The Master. There were only a few he knew that would have Darkstalkers in their roster.

He would be visiting them soon.

Log created on 11:44:49 03/23/2020 by Kira Volkov, and last modified on 10:30:12 03/25/2020.